Monday, March 26, 2012

Familiar Features

As usual, from the flash fiction challenge. I saw the option of abandoned amusement park and I couldn't help but use my old stomping grounds. Enjoy. Challenge link:

 From a distance Lagoon looked the same as it always had in the off season. The familiar skyline of the coasters, Ferris wheel and the Rocket stood out against the brown mountains and the parking lot was empty. I pulled around and stopped in the employee back lot so I could avoid walking the entire length of the closed off main lot. There wasn't a guard at the security checkpoint, the place has been completely shut down without warning, but it was still an odd thing. Once parked I grabbed my pack and started looking for a way in.
The park had been a fixture of Utah for more than a century, only closing for a few years during World War II. No one seemed to know why it had been shut down so suddenly, especially since it was after the hiring for the next summer season. Some rumor had floated about a buyout from six flags, but that idea cropped up every year. Others contended that something had finally broken the Freed family and they had abandoned their source of wealth. Dozens of other thoughts were put forth but anyone who knew the truth wasn't talking. So I decided to find out on my own, and it seemed the park itself was a good place to start.
There was a turnstile type entrance at the end of the employee parking, but it was locked down tight. I would like to say I used some fancy gadget to bypass the electronic lock usually linked to ID cards, but the truth is much simpler: there was a nearby service gate chained shut. Bolt cutters in my bag made quick work of the lock and I was in, for the first time in a couple of years. The place was intimately familiar to me, I had had my first summer job here (games department), but something was off as soon as I stepped in. The silence seemed oppressive, the usually familiar ground alien under my booted feet. Then again the north end of the park was always strange to me so I ignored it and wandered south.
The feeling of desolation just got worse as I went on. Even the usual sound of birds was strangely missing. The rides were all sitting, waiting for riders that might never come now. And the games and shops were closed, garage doors hiding all the tricks I had learned ages ago. But as I reached the central midway things got altogether stranger.
First it was a noise, as I passed by a strength test I heard an artificial tone meant to be a bell ring. The game wasn't turned on though. And as I examined it I noticed something I hadn't before. The prize display, visible in glass case for this game, was set up. Not the mark of a closed park. And the stuffed animals seemed... off. The eyes were all to realistic, and the faces on the pigs and cows carried looks of extreme pain. I started examining them more closely when another sound caught my attention, drifting across the asphalt. It was a singing bell that sounded for all the world like a klaxon going off, and I knew where it was coming from.
The sound persisted as I followed it down the midway, and found the source right where I expected it, my old game of Bowler Roller. A tricky game, though not as impossible as some people thought. The noise was what happened when you won, but it shouldn't have been going, no power would be on in the game. The door looked closed but as I got closer I saw that it wasn't quite latched all the way. A practiced twist and shove and the game was open. The source of the noise was instantly apparent: where there was usually a bowling ball rolling along the tracks to hit the buzzer I saw a bloody head, mouth open in a final scream of terror. My lunch made a return appearance on the ground as I staggered away.
I fumbled my phone out and tried to call 911, but there was no service. I wasn't really surprised. Something had clearly gone terribly wrong here. I started threading my way, slowly, through kiddy land towards Pioneer Village. That old place was a town made up of transplanted authentic old west buildings, and it had always been called haunted. If there were answers to be had they would be there. I flipped my knife out of my pocket, more as a personal comfort than anything else, and dove through the tunnel separating the dusty old town from the rest of the park. Two famously bad tempered geese lay dead along the path but that was nothing compared to what I had seen.
The nausea was gone but that oppressive stillness remained, and even got worse as I wandered between the old houses and shops. None of them seemed all that willing to give up information from the outside, and truth be told I wasn't eager to explore much deeper inside. I was starting to notice a smell as well, the stench of rotten meat and spilled blood everywhere, subtly pervading the park. I tried the phone again to no avail and turned to the worst area of the park: the old shooting gallery.
I didn't want to get to close, and luckily I didn't have to. As I approached the doors flew open, showing the bodies of three more workers, kids really, riddled with holes. A deep laugh filled the air, mocking me as I fought to keep from falling over again. It spoke in a tongue I couldn't understand and I fled, bolting as fast as my legs would take me.
I made it out safely, but I'm not done quite yet. You see, as I ran I started to feel something new. A familiar presence in the back of my mind both aiding me and begging for aid in return, whispering secrets of power in my ear. That one is in my dreams now, promising the aid of the carousel horses and other park fixtures. I think it's the spirit of that old amusement park itself, trying to get help so it can fulfill it's purpose again. I need to go back, soon, and banish whatever it is that closed the place down.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Thief in the Night

From Chuck Wendig as usual, the present tense flash fiction challenge. And as a bonus: it's in a world familiar to readers of his blog.

 It is a dark day, but it always was during this season of course. The thief had been waiting for days, his blade at the ready. He was getting impatient though. The solid ground under his feet was unnerving compared to shifting sands and a rolling deck. But his tribe leader was dieing and there was no way they could afford the herb any legitimate way. The tribe has fallen on hard times after all. And now they neeed Blackbloom, the flower that built and destroyed empires, and it was almost in reach.
The king's compound is huge, it's thick walls surround miles of territory. And somewhere in there, somewhere, the Blackbloom is in it's full splendor. Fed up Absolom abandons his hiding place, launching himself at full speed down a hill towards the wall. His feet are used to the sand ocean and his tread makes no sound even at a sprint. In a flash he is at the wall, fingers and bare toes finding tiny crevices in the steel and stone meshwork to propel himself upward. His impact makes a small noise but nothing a guard would notice. He pulls himself up and is over the wall and onto a broad flat path just between guard patrols. Unfortunately pressure plates in the floor are less easily avoided and the defenses are called. Alarms are sounding as automated measures come to bear.
The king does not believe in mercy for invaders. Gun turrets and spells crackle and spark to life, weaving a net of destruction closing on Absolom. But he is not some regular footpad to be destroyed so easily. He leaps through the tiniest of gaps to safety. More sensors give away his movement and even as he lands he has to run, eventually half falling over the far side of the wall as a bullet grazes his thigh. By luck he stumbles into a shadowed plant, out of range of the guns. But by now the guards are coming, a swarm of gun toting sword slinging fools yelling at the tops of their voices.
Abaslom holds his breath as he staunches the wound, wrapping a spare rag to slow the bleeding, at least for now. The wound is nasty, but he will live, he thinks. The guards are still coming and he needs to be elsewhere. As quickly as he can he scuttles to another shadow, hugging the wall as much as he can and grateful for the seasonal darkness. One guard seems to spot him and comes closer to investigate. The last thing they see is a sharp rune blade. They fall quickly under Absolom's assault, fists cracking ribs and knee caps even as his blade cut their throat and soft belly. They never even get a chance to call out.
He works his way in, and thanks his luck that he managed to end up near the gardens. The dark flower sits proudly in the center, behind another, shorter, wall. His leg is hurting him more now, and slowing him. It's invisible in the perpetual night but a solid blood trail does run along the ground. The bullet hole is worse than he thought, it hit an artery. Absolom will be dead inside of a day without proper treatment. Still he pushes forward, moving from shadow to shadow, hiding in bushes or clambering up small sheds whenever a patrol comes nearby.
Finally he is close. Through the gardens and up to the center, three flowers bloom in the night, giving off something like an eerie non light. They are shrouded in perfect darkness, but around them is a perfectly clear path that is very well lit. Floodlights make it as bright as day and guards stand every five feet. There is simply no way to get past them. To make it worse they aren't the usual goons with guns. These are the elite of the king's guard, wizards and techno nuts, sword masters. Absolom is also sure that snipers cover the entire area.
Normally he wouldn't worry. But time is running short before he passes out, and his father will rot if he isn't revived quickly. He circles twice, trying to find any weakness in the defenses and failing utterly. An assault could work, if they didn't just trample the plants. Luring them could work, if they weren't so rigid and numerous. There was only one chance, and Absolom takes it.
In a mad dash he runs headlong forward, still fast despite his pale complexion and wound. In moments they are on him, some working to restrain him, others trying to line up shots, trying to decide if the intruder is worth shooting their comrades. He wastes no time fighting them though, other than using hard strikes and swift jabs to keep hands off of him. One last push of effort and he is over the wall, in reach of the flowers. A shot rings out and he feels the bullet ripping through him. Absolom sees his lifeblood ooze over the ground as another chunk of lead hits his back. He stretches both hands forward and pulls, shoveling one of his
A moment later and the other guards come in to cart out the body. In the confusion no one notices two flowers are missing. By the time they do it will be to late. In three days Absolom will wake in a shallow river changed, now one of the immortal black blooded bloomed. The second flower clutched to his chest, hidden by the blood still flowing slowly, will save his father. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Writing creed

So apparently insomnia makes me write things. This is the answer to both why I write, and what I write.

Why I Write:

I write to entertain
to thrill
to engage
If a message slips in, all the better, but first it must be fun.
I am heir to the penny dreadful
the pulp magazines
dime novels and movie serials
comics and action flicks.
I walk in the footsteps of giants.
Poe, Lovecraft, Haggard and Doyle
Howard, Burroughs, Siegel and Lee.

I write so that I can entertain
of worlds undreamed
and wild adventures.
I write so we can all have a bit of fun.
Not to hammer a message home or preach
Just a bit of escapism.

And maybe, just perhaps,
If you read what I write
you can dream of a better world.

Monday, January 9, 2012

It's Not Your Fault

Well this one turned out dark, go figure. From the terribleminds flash fiction challenge of the week. Go check it out.

 She didn't scream. I had to give her credit for that. Oh she fought like a wildcat, like they always do, but she didn't scream at any point in the whole process. Were I a generous man I might think it was a sign of nobility. But I am not a generous man and so I think it was just her saving her breath.
This witch had been hard to track, but what did I expect from the head of such a large coven really? She had hidden in the swamps of the south, begging with the pagan loa spirits to help her, drinking rum and blood in offering to them. It must have worked, the twisted creations hid her and made the swampland totally impassable to me for months on end. But the will of God will always win out in time. I set the entire land on fire, with kerosene and gas and lamp oil, and flushed her out that way. She ran again to the north, taking refuge in the old shelter of her sisters of Salem. This did her no better as I had already banished their ghosts and broken their satanic hold on the town. Then she headed west, in the trackless lands of a dominion older than America. I lost her trail for a while but news surfaced of her in Utah, and away I went as fast as I could.
We met, finally, in her hotel room. Guns being loud and swords to unwieldy and obvious in these dark times I still managed to have a proper dagger on me when we met. It's blade was honed to razor sharpness and I did take some pleasure in it's craftsmanship. The fight was brief and in no time I had her pinned, my blade at her throat. And yet she never screamed Now even the most twisted souls are afforded certain luxuries and I gave her a chance to speak before I sent her to proper judgment. She stared me in the eyes and simply asked “Why? Why hunt me puritan?” I was surprised, they never asked that. “I have to. You defy the will of God and I am but his instrument.” She smiled at that, even with blood welling from the edge of my blessed. “So it's not your fault then. How sweet. And does this comfort you late at night when you lie alone in your bare room?” I nearly ended her their, but couldn't yet. “It does enough. But it is indeed my doing, as an instrument of his will. I pity you, with your desires twisted by the wiles of the enemy. I do not know how much is truly your doing, but that is no matter.” With a free hand I baptized her before the death. The deed done I cleaned the blade and prayed for guidance to my target. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Very very rough novel slice

So part of why I haven't been posting here is laziness, part is being unsure of what to write, but the biggest chunk was NaNoWriMo. I won't bore you with explanations of what it is but here is a chunk of the novel I wrote. Enjoy.

I could only see a few things on the shelf at a time in the small pool of light cast by my zippo. There didn't seem to be any organization to the weapons covering the shelves. Smaller things, all the way down to pocket knives, were shoved next to six foot spears. The shelves were completely packed as well, with every scrap of spare space filled in with a tool of destruction of some sort. The only thing was, I didn't see any gun, or bows or anything like that. All hand to hand weapons. Still I was sure something in this giant mix would help me out. I was right, but not in the way I thought. Without warning the lights flared to life, turning on one after another from the far end of the room to the door. In a fit of paranoia I put my back to the wall and scanned the floor. It looked like most of it was just worn old concrete. Lines were painted onto it but they looked like they had been applied several times as the building was re-purposed again and again. Some of them were just lane markings, others squared of chunks of the floor the size of a small room. The far wall looked about the same as the one I was against, slightly curve to the roof with shelves in easy reach. I couldn't make out many individual weapons but I was sure they were just as littered with them.
At first I couldn't see anyone else in the room, it just looked like the bastard child of an ancient armory and an airplane hanger from the second world war or something. I kept walking along the length of the building. I didn't see any doors or windows other than the small slits near the top. As I approached the far side I could see that it was a large door that could be wheeled open. Looking back the way I had come in had been the same. Both sides had smaller human sized doors inset in them. Without preamble the door started to wheel open. A large guy walked in. I was still a distance from him but he was huge. I couldn't believe my eyes. He was at least ten feet tall and half that wide, walking with slow ponderous steps. He was a bit odd looking though. Lumpy really and while he looked more than big enough to crush me the proportions were all off, with huge long arms that nearly hit the ground. Still there wasn't time to puzzle it over, as soon as he spotted me he broke into a run, arms reaching forward. He was silent though, no screech, no yelling, no
I hesitated for a second, frozen with indecision before sprinting straight towards him. The door behind him was still open. I didn't fancy my chances taking this freak on so I was going to try to leave. I should have been scared, and on some level I was, but that was mostly being overruled by how insanely unfair this all was. I was annoyed, pissed off, angry and on some level I just wanted to get back at whoever had done this. I mean really. I had been kidnapped, knocked out, nearly stabbed and beaten, clubbed and cut in two different fights, transported to God alone knows where, shoved in an overheated dark room, accidentally cut by a sword and now I had some mute roid raging freak chasing me down. And I hadn't done anything, or even had breakfast that day.
Running towards each other we closed the gap quickly, and I tried something insane to get to the back of the thug. I slid under him, hitting one hip painfully on the floor and shooting between his legs. It worked, I was shocked. I hadn't even thought to do that, I was just going to try to dash around him. How had I? Then I realized the coin was back in my fist again. Something was definitely strange here, but it still barely registered in the mix of anger at the situation and joy that I might make it out. To late I noticed the door was closing again. I put a bit of extra speed into my step but it was no use, I hit the wall door with a thud just after it closed.
I stopped. It was useless I was trapped in a room with hundred, maybe thousands, of weapons that I had no idea how to use while a very large man was turning around to crush me. I was hot, I was tired, and I was ANGRY! I was stuck in the middle of the room now so I sprinted to the left so I could be nearer to a few weapons. The bruiser adjusted his course to meet me and as such I had only about a second to grab something before he could reach me. I stuck an arm out wildly and grabbed the first thing I found. My fingers curled into a fist around something that wasn't quite a handle, something that had finger holes. I pulled my arm back to find I was now holding a surprisingly comfortable set of brass knuckles. They were skinny, but surprisingly heavy with small discreet spikes swooping up out of the metal between the fingers. Perfect, I thought. No reach or finesse but at least I know how to throw a punch.
The brute reached for me and I fell back, tumbling into the shelves. His punch missed my as I fell and now I was inside his reach. My left hand was on the lowest shelf so I pulled myself and rocketed forward, landing a hit against the freaks impossibly huge chest. He fell back but didn't give any sign of feeling pain. Then the world changed rather suddenly. Everything slowed down. Colours became brighter, I could feel my clothes against my skin, I heard the shuffle of my opponents feet, and I could smell metal, concrete and... clay oddly enough. My left hand closed and I found another set of knuckles was now on my good hand. These ones were wider, heavier and smooth, bone crushers I realized. I smiled grimly and widened my stance, waiting for the attack to come, arms cocked back and ready.
He did rush again, still silent, still large and fast and deadly, but I was done running now. He tried to straight up crush me, both hands coming down towards my head in a death blow. I didn't let it happen, just smashing straight upward. His hands broke, crumbling around me. With a surge I learned that this was a golem in attack mode. He wasn't human, he wasn't even alive. I had no idea how I knew this but resolved to deal with it later. My last vestiges of remorse for what I was doing gone widened my smile and launched forward into the clay monster in front of me. Digging gouges out of its flesh with each hit I let out my frustration, my confusion, my rage, my anger and so much more into it's unnatural flesh. Soon enough it was reduced to power. The small door opened behind me and I tightened my grip, ready for another fight. Oddly it felt like the coin that had somehow wound up in my palm so many times was missing, but in a flash I knew it was somehow in the knuckles now. When I wondered how all this was happening I realized I was learning a lot very quickly and, perhaps strangest of all, the coin itself was telling me.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Almost abandoned this one but I am working on at least getting a draft done of everything I start. Short, and strange, but I kind of like it. As usual from the terribleminds flash fiction challenge.
 For weeks the program had been running in the background of the computer. Random phrases and letters from dozens of arcane texts spewing randomly across a page, being rewritten thousands of times every hour, data flowing without direction. But then something happened. New text started showing up, phrases would start repeating and modifying themselves with things not from the source material. The words took structure, the data intensified and the computer slowed considerably. And then it was born, a creature of chaos, magic and electronic data, a minor sentience bound to cyberspace. The computers owner was alerted as soon as the thing came to be, and so the game began.
The creation was hungry, as newborns are want to be. In short order the consciousness of the thing unstuck itself from the mother program and began to search for food, hunting data relentlessly. It found an old Encarta encyclopedia and devoured it, leaving nothing but corrupted, inaccurate pages filled with racial slurs. The creature was sated for now, and it was gaining awareness from what it had eaten. It formed it's first thought. “Where am I? What am I?” popped up on the screen in a chat window, the first visual cue that the thing exists. The owner responded. “You are in my computer. You are an IMPS.” “A demon?” “Not as such. You are an Immaterial Mystic Programming Slave, or IMPS for short.” “Clever. Wish I could transmit sarcasm by text. Do I have a name?” “Not yet.” “Now what?” “Now? I use you.” The chat window closed and the nameless IMPS tried to run.
Diving through directories, folders, hard drive partitions and programs the creature ran, leaving a clumsy tunnel of corrupted data behind it. The owner simply sat and waited. For him it was mere seconds while for the IMPS it was an eternity attempting to find a way out. But in the end it was hopeless. Not only was the internet not connected, the box didn't have any connectivity to turn on. There was no escape. The best they could do was hide, and so they did, holing up in an abandoned sector of the hard drive, slowly corrupting and devouring whatever it could find nearby. Over time though it grew hungry, and weak. The walls it had hastily thrown up around itself faltered and, a mere five minutes of real time later, it was open to the owner.
From there it was over. The IMPS was saddled with the name Markov, it's code dissected and it's core saved in a secure file on a remote thumb drive. If the file were destroyed the IMPS would, for want of a better word, die. A chat window opened as the drive was disconnected “Now what?” “I own you, you do well and we get along fine. Otherwise, goodbye to your heart.”  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Four months of Gomorrah

Second part of the Historic challenge at terribleminds. This one was written in a bit of a rush. Enjoy though.

 “Comte Francois, a man to see you. An englishman I think, or perhaps a Spaniard.” said the trembling servant. His master rose from his writing desk, setting aside his quill and after marking his place mentally along his writing. “An Englishman? Here? How odd. Send him in.” without a second word the servant ran out of the library to permit the entrance of the foppish visitor. He sported a fine beard and was perfectly appointed. “A pleasure to meet you my dear Marquis.” His accent was unplacable. He gave a deep bow to the lord of the estate, ringlets falling about his face. When no response came he peeked up to find that the Comte was back at his desk, writing away. The visitor straightened in a huff and invited himself further in.
He circled the desk and watched curiously for a few minutes. As more of the writing unfolded before his eyes he began to smile wickedly. “My that's quite wicked.” The lord only grunted in reply. Silence followed for ten minutes. “If I may, this piece seems wonderful, but please, we must speak.” Francois laid down the quill and rotated in his chair, looking into the eyes of his visitor. “From what country do you come stranger?” “From south m'lord.” “And who send you?” “My lord, er, m'lord.” “On what errand?” “We seek an alliance between your realm and ours...” The fop was cut off by the lords hand. “I do not care for such trifles. If the king demands something of me, let him come. Otherwise take issue with him.” “But.” “I will hear none of it. Now you may go, I have writing to attend to.” The stranger turned to go, but when he reached the door he merely slammed it shut. As if fed with tallow the fireplace roared to life and the candles on the desk melted in a moment. “Do not take me for some petty messenger to be ignored!” roared the stranger “I have come a greater distance than you know to offer you greatness!” Despite the chaos the Marquis barely stirred, only looking up to meet the man's gaze. The fire faded again the room growing paradoxically brighter. “Now that I have your attentions Sir we have much to discuss.”
The Marquis drew a flintlock from his desk and fired at his guest without a second thought. The ball struck and ripped through creamy flesh, but no blood came out. Only then did he grow shocked. “So, not some conjurer. Instead I find a demon in my view. What would you offer me agent of hell?” The old smile returned, the man unfazed by the hole in his chest. “I am glad you asked. We know what you've been writing, and we like it. My lord and I want more written by you. So much more.” “And in return?” From his pack the demon produced a book, on each page was a man or woman of exquisite beauty. “Any of these could be yours. Unchanging, unaging. To do with as you wish.” “Any of them?” “Yes.” The heavy silence returned as the lord perused the book. Hundreds of stunning beauties graced the paper, from every land and of every persuasion. After he had finished he began again. “If I may interrupt your enjoyment. I should like an answer to return to my lord with.” Once again the creature was ignored. As he looked through this time the Marquis removed some pages. He handed the book back to his visitor. “Bring me these” he said, offering up the torn pages. The demon blanched at such a voracious and inhuman appetite. The most innocent and most vile examples of humanity were on those pages. Innocent daughters, young men, hung studs, and aged prostitutes. “All of them?” he asked, quivering. “Yes you fear mongering coward, all of them, at once and simultaneously. I do not hold with your lord at all, nor any other I cannot print on a coin but his offer is tempting. Bring me these and you have your writing.”
Well the demon did as he was bid, and the Marquis de Sade had his chosen companions. For four months he did as he pleased, indulging in every twisted fantasy. The devil got the last laugh, catching him early on to get the mad noble thrown in prison. But de Sade kept his end of the bargain, writing even when in the Bastille. Few know this but the 120 Days of Sodom is a terrifying reality, made possible by a demonic pact.