Now, don’t get me wrong, I love this job. It’s just, it gets hard to relax, even in downtime. So I was really glad when the client invited me to go to gym with him, his colleagues and my work partner. Gym is always the best way to de-stress, especially if it’s been a long day just standing around looking dangerous. We could relax together, get to know each other, and we’d still be providing security, so it counted as working hours – win! I made my way to the address given. It was an ugly, concrete affair, looked like it might have been a telephone exchange a long time ago, except that it was huge! It was like a skyscraper without windows! Inside was pretty brutal as well, and I saw that it did have windows – only they were very narrow, very tall and very thick. There were like alcoves in the walls, and the windows were in these, but they alternated with strips of fluorescent light. So, I sign in, it’s the usual phone-scanner thing. I have to use my phone, I decided against getting the chip, back in the day. At least I had the option, then. No-one has it, now.
I met the guys on the fortieth floor, there was a lobby to the left as you got out the lift. Sunlight poured in through two of the window-slits, it almost looked welcoming. There were plants in pots, a water-cooler. I automatically scanned the space for cameras: only one, which was unusual. It covered the main space, not the door. That meant that there was almost certainly another one, hidden. I decided it wasn’t my job to find it right now.
We proceeded to the gym. It was a great place, hardly anyone there. The equipment was well-used, but clean and tidy. I took it kind of easy, worked my arms mostly, Dave (that’s my partner) and I teamed up, eight reps each in turn. We couldn’t take the hardware into the gym, obviously, so if a situation developed, it was going to have to be unarmed. That’s why we didn’t go all out.
The client and his buddies were on much lower weights, but that’s only to be expected. Everyone kept up the chatter all along, they were obviously not worried about being recorded. It was great, really sociable, Dave kept his goofball sense of humour all along, one of the others kept coming up with jokes in reply, it got pretty silly sometimes. We had a great time.
At the end of the session, we hit the showers. Then we were sitting around, all dressed up and ready to go, a little tired but not too bad, and the client started telling us some background on what was going down in his campaign. We were in a corner room of the building, there were those long, thin, thick window on two sides. I was looking at the client, and all of a sudden, this bright red light, like an LED, appears and moves onto him!
I moved like a snake, diving onto him and dragging him away from the window. Dave started shouting, ‘Get back! Get out of here!’ Everyone went nuts, frantically trying to get out of sight of the sniper.
Hearing my name called by my own people's voices proves my place in the world, more it shows I matter to others.
Hearts' bonds are strong, and in the end, all we have. Our presence perpetuated down the years.
New lives created in love, only extends the goodness. Be thankful to those who join themselves to you, Remember and gather in others with no ties of their own. Remember goodness feeds growth, the only proof against growing darkness and cold...
The latest response to a writing prompt took place on Minds.com: Write a microfiction or flashfiction story (around 500 words) about HEAT. This can be funny, sad, exciting, lethargic, a theme, social commentary, fiction, non-fiction, or anything else.
‘Zombies are attracted to heat,’ Gerry pointed out.
I hushed him with a frantically understated gesture. I whispered, ‘We’re in public, you idiot!’ You don’t shout “Fire” in a crowded theatre, and you don’t say “Zombies” in Starbucks.
‘Shut up, you two,’ growled the boss. ‘Jim, see if you can get the staff to show you the back room. Gerry, go outside and look for a gate round the back.’
Gerry grumbled, but went back outside into the freezing rain. I went to the counter. No-one was free. I called out to the guy at the sink. ‘’Scuse me, mate! I need to have a word with the manager?’
The guy looked worried. I must have looked a bit odd, with my long jacket hiding the hardware and a wide-brimmed hat. ‘The manager’s not here,’ he said.
Typical, I thought. I needed to get past this one. The customers were already giving me the stinkeye. ‘Well, get me someone who’s responsible…’ I beckoned him over. He came close, and I said in a low voice, ‘There may be a public health problem with this building, I need to see the rooms in the back.’
The barista looked a little green. He ushered me through, without question – nice one! The facilities for the staff in the place were pathetic. I think the stock was kept in nicer conditions. There was a single toilet in the back, with a tiny basin. The room had a fair-sized window, taller than it was wide, of frosted glass, light shining from above, deep green shadow below.
‘What’s on the other side of that window, do you know?’ I asked.
The barista shook his head. I looked at the window. There was a handle to open a small pane above the main one. I froze. There had been a sound. The silence suddenly became very thick. I listened: there it was again! I turned to the barista, now a lighter shade of pale: ‘I think you should get out of here,’ and reached into the lining of my coat for my snawnoff.
‘Are you packing heat?’ the barista demanded.
I raised my voice to a police crowd-handling level: ‘Sir, please vacate the premises! We are professionals, you have to leave now!’
He fled. I keyed my com. ‘Boss, we have a possible contact in the alley.’
‘I need more than that, Jim. Do you have visual?’
‘Not yet, boss.’
I closed the toilet lid and stood on it. I opened the little hatch window as far as it would go, which wasn’t very. Gerry’s voice came over the com: ‘I’m at the entrance to the alley, boss. It’s overgrown with these weeds, and there’s snow everywhere.’
‘Yes, boss… I’ve got visual!’
I craned my neck as far as I could. Shit! It was standing right there! ‘So have I!’ I announced. The zombie heard me, and shambled towards me. From experience, I knew if I didn’t kill it, it would be on me in seconds. I manoeuvred my sawnoff through the window, but I couldn’t see the target and use the gun at the same time. I was going to have to guess! I squeezed the trigger. There was a bang and a flash, but nothing sounded like it fell. I pulled my arm back in and peered out. I was greeted by the sight of a zombie face, too close! I’d missed completely. Its lidless eyes gazed out of a face missing the lower jaw, teeth hanging into space. It was coated with a thin film of dry snowflakes. It reached for me, but it was much slower than I’d have expected.
Before I had too long to ponder my good fortune, Gerry’s subgun crackled loud behind the zombie. There was the sound of a falling body, and soft footfalls approaching down the alley. I stuck my gun through the window, blasting the zombie right in the face. It fell with a dry crack and rattle. I peeped out again, confirming the kill.
‘Two of them, boss!’ Gerry’s voice came from right in front of me, in the alley, and in my ear from the com. ‘They were moving slow, must have been freezing here all night.’
‘Thank God for that,’ I said. I’d never seen a Zombie’s face so damn close in my life! ‘Clear?’
‘Clear!’ Gerry confirmed.
‘Nice going, lads! Get yourselves out here, and let’s leave before the Bill gets here.’
Saved by snow. Who’d have thought it? The undead needed heat even worse than we did.
‘Can’t we get a coffee, boss?’ Gerry pleaded.
‘Van first, coffee when debriefed.’ I caught up with the boss in the front of the shop.
‘I’m bloody freezing! I need to heat up!’ Gerry whinged over the com.
‘I know, Gerry, but if we stick around there’ll be another kind of heat coming, and we’re not equipped for that. Let’s go.’
Deep in that cold, green forest in the countryside of everyone's imagination, a bush shook in the early spring morning. If there had been anyone to see, they would have observed a strange, leathery, scaled wing extend beyond the bush, showering the ground with dew. There was a muffled groan as the young dragon woke, stretching. It was only the fourth morning that he had awoken without his mother. His mother had stopped feeding him and driven him away that day, as happens to all dragons at a certain age. Being quite small, he was still vulnerable to bears, wolves and cats-a'mountains; and he was no match for the adders, bison and aurochs he was likely to encounter in the forest. He was a young, blue-green forest dragon, and not nearly as strong as he would be, given time. The dragon pulled himself out of the bush that had been his hiding-place for the night. The land was gold with early morning spring sunshine, the trees bright with new green. For a while he sat and preened himself, smearing dragon-oil from his neck and his arms to the rest of his body, leaving his reticulated hide gleaming. Then he applied the oil diligently to his wings, very carefully and with great pride. He was ready to face the day.
Hell has still not won this day Though evil ascendant has all the voice, for now; And we small people know not how The story ends, in one or other way. Though witless, vapid mouths might say What they wish, sure to make us bow To their idols, their sacred cow, Consuming our young, if they have their way.
The war goes on, will we or no, And final victory is a certain thing. Our trust must not to Power go, But to Him to Whom the angels sing. Has Satan won? It is not so! A battle lost, but let our challenge RING!
My ongoing guilty secret (don't worry, this is the last one so far) is a mashup between Tolkien and Larry Correia's Monster Hunter series. Correia admits that his inspiration for the series was B-movie horror schlock. He's also a gun nut, so he imagined a world where the undead were moving targets! The amount of gun porn in these stories is amazing. While the Monster Hunter series (currently at book 6!) is quite enjoyable in moderate doses, I find it a bit unbalanced that various monsters have regenerative abilities (werewolves and vampires, specifically). That's supposed to be miraculous, but the fact that only evil has it seems... wrong. Of course it adds to the heroism of the merely-human monster hunters, but also makes their victories a little implausible. So, my take on it was that if Elves from Valinor were introduced, they would have the same ability - only they'd be on the good guys' side! As ever, to avoid enraging the copyright gods, I'm just putting a pointer to it here.
In most of the galaxy adrenaline is a dangerous and highly illegal drug. Humans are an oddity in that we produce it naturally in our bodies.
The translation came through clearly from my voder: 'Is that a real one, mum?'
I glanced to the left. It was a juvenile Thraxtl, not a native. Its mother said something about 'strong and dangerous'. On Earth, gravity was heavier than most inhabited planets, so we had a reputation already.
'Is he an addict, then?' The kid had no sense of tact at all. Some things are invariable between species.
I turned my head towards the youngster. It was still in its wingless larval form, a burden to its mother even in Noth gravity. My air-mask must have looked a bit intimidating, because it writhed and looped itself around its mother. I quickly turned and walked away. I didn't want trouble.
Humans are in a strange position in the Federation. We're the newbies, the latest discovered species, but we're also liquid water-based (minority), evolved on a rocky planet (not a minority) and communicate by sound (which is unusual). We also produce dreechy, as they call it here, which we know as adrenaline. It's the most addictive, borderline toxic substance known to carbon-based life (which is most of them), and fetches a ridiculous price on the black market. I've known women who sold a half-litre of their own blood and went on an interstellar cruise with the proceeds! For some reason there's a belief that females have more of the stuff. Those huge behemoths from Shchuchan, where the water is all liquid methane, can trip on frozen human blood for days on end!
'Harmonious greetings!' The hail must have come from the mottled black, upright-starfish-like thing in front of me. 'I hope you are well?'
'I am,' I replied cautiously. I didn't think these voders could convey meaning in tones, or at least not yet. Not these cheap ones.
'Are you an egg-layer?'
'No,' I replied. What was this about?
'I think you are! Grab it!' And immediately I was grabbed from behind. I felt a thud in my breastplate, a kevlar waistcoat that was standard issue for all humans travelling to Noth cities. The thing was trying to stab a needle into my kidneys! I lashed out sideways and back with my right arm, connecting with something soft and clammy. I whipped around, grabbing a fistful of my assailant. There was a terrible noise, both on my voder and in my ears. The thing was screaming! Without even noticing, I had torn a chunk off the starfish that had tried to stab me! Black blood oozed and vapourised from the fragment.
'RUN! The thing bellowed. 'It's gone mad, it'll kill us all!'
There was pandemonium. Every sentient being within earshot (along with any pets they had) took off as fast as their physiology allowed. It wasn't very fast, if I was bent on murder I could have caught and killed most of them.
But, I wasn't. I just stood there, bewildered, not knowing whether to stay or go. The police, heavily armed and armoured Nothese, were there in moments. I was arrested, questioned for hours, and released without charge at the end of the day.
Of course, I missed the meeting. Simon had to smooth things over with the suppliers, and I didn't make it through my probationary period. So, that was the story of my brief first job off-world.
Sun on brick walls makes mountains from baked mud. Those craggy peaks casting shadows, mottling the red-grey wall.
Green growth grows anywhere, given enough time. The tiny green things coating Man's hard materials with life. Every day, man's works, his control of nature are challenged, by microscopic spores. A check to anyone forgetting our place in the world.
After seeing trailers for the Dark Crystal prequels on YT, this skipped across my mind until I put in hard copy. A tribe of gelflings from Thra are transported to Middle-Earth, where they are accepted by the Elves. Against all expectations, they prove themselves able to combat lethal enemies.
Of course, since it's not original, I can't find any royalty-free images to use for this post, so you're going to have to watch this instead:
I watched this recently, and was quietly amazed. The title refers to a point in this video (31:17) where the speaker, Jonathan Pageau says, with a smile in his face, 'The fairies are still there!'
'The fairies are still there!' he said. And my heart broke. Though I would rather have said, 'The Elves'!
Revealed in the Felicitatious Joining of Things - In their proper order, space and time. Not in re-creating things that were - making artefacts for a museum - but creating things new in the same language as the old!
This has given me a track to follow: Old, overgrown, treacherous with potholes, but the direction is true!
The Elves are still there - Let's make them welcome, shall we? We have to start with buildings, to separate Inside from Out; Put gargoyles and monsters on the Out side, where they belong. On the In side there must be light, shade, space, intimacy, comfort, work. A place for the art of hospitality; Another for the art of the kitchen; A Hall of Fire, where the Great Tales are told (old and new!); A Chapel, for the Breaking of Bread; A Studio or two, one for painters, another for those who use chisels; A vast shed, for the tools of the Garden; A barn, for the things that sustain Life; A coach-house, conservatory, greenhouse, pantry; A Workshop, with a forge, blowtorches, vices and tools.
For 'The artist is not a special kind of man, But every man is a special kind of artist'.