REPORT A PROBLEM
March 19, 2051
The searches and subsequent killings are becoming more and more frequent. Like the witch hunts of old, the President is finding “political enemies” everywhere, even among his own family. His tyranny is effectively containing the very human nature of our country.
There are still a few of us – only a handful – who dare defy him. Most of us have already lost everything, but some are making great sacrifices. We all will make the greatest sacrifice: our lives. My – our – only hope is that we will shout loudly enough before we die to bring freedom back.
The bird, a cardinal, peers down at her from the tree branches. It hums to itself, a little tune about love and sorrow. The girl, walking loudly through the trees, seems confused and dazed. When at last she sits down on an fallen tree, the cardinal glides silently down to a branch next to her.
“Cheer up, girlie.”
She eyes the bird suspiciously. “So now the birds are talking.?”
“Well it ain’t the tree, is it?” It chirrups disdainfully.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, actually.”
“You’re in Faerie now. Things isn’t always as they seem, aye?”
It winks, then flies away.
When she finally opened her eyes after months of living in blindness, the brilliant lights of the world kept her subdued for a time. As she slowly began to readjust, colors and people and things were all a haze, a beautiful cloud.
When one day she opened her eyes to a new morning finally unobstructed by her healing, she eagerly drank in all she had missed. She wanted to touch everything to connect to its picture; she felt as if she had been sleeping for months, and now she was truly Alive again. It was all coming back to her.
He was stroking her hair, out of habit, during his argument with the other physicist. His voice rose and fell as his hand did the same over her long, dark tresses.
“If you use
as your source of information, no wonder you’re off. The man’s an idiot!” his voice betrayed his aggravation; she put her hand on his arm.
, she wanted to say.
The other man wasn’t so quickly brought down, and as their words clashed, his hand turned rough in her now-tangled hair.
“Watch it!” she shrieked. She pulled away, but he reached for her, hands gentle.
“The sun looks nice,” he said before he left. “I’ll just walk towards the sun. It looks nice.”
Trevor Pullman went missing for a week last summer. Police and dogs searched, but he was gone without a trace.
When he returned, walking down the same road by which he had left, his brown eyes were blue and vacant. He never spoke of the days he was gone, but he had changed in almost imperceptible ways: his hands and eyes moved faster than should seem possible; he answered questions nobody spoke.
“The sun looks nice,” he would ask us. “Doesn’t it?”
“Father, what do people think of us?”
“What a horrible question. It doesn’t matter what people think of us.”
“But what if we wanted to leave here for some reason, would they hate us?”
“Leave? What do you mean?”
“Like, leave the commune. Would they hate us?”
“Why would you want to leave the commune? Tissey, you’re being silly.
never hate anyone. So we just stay here.”
“Where’d you come up with a question like that, anyway?”
“I’ll have to have a talk with her, putting that foolishness into your head.”
“Father? I'm going to leave.”
The tall boy slurps the last of his frappe, flicking a napkin at the girl with the spiky hair. The other chick had left already, impatient.
“I used to despise journalists,” Spiky Hair says. “I mean, they can come home from all over the country and the world with stories and pictures and videos of horrible things that are happening. And they can leave after they have their story, without even doing anything. It seems cold.”
“What made you change your mind?”
“The realization that they bring the story home to give voice to the otherwise unheard cries for help.”
“Get down!” she screams at Ian, shifting into drive. “Head down, seatbelt on!”
The truck jerks into movement as she slams the gas pedal down and goes between trees and through flower beds to circumvent the Honda and get back onto the road. She turns back onto the main road without slowing down, her Suburban jerking wildly.
“What’s happening? Who were they? What’s happening, what’s happening?”
Trying to control her breathing and her racing thoughts, Jane ignores her brother. More gunshots shatter the back window and ping through the fiberglass.
“Don’t get up, Ian; it’s okay, just don’t get up.”
“Well well, looks like the handler’s got himself a new pet,” Hollet taunts. Jane takes an abrupt step away from Simon, but he pulls her back, holding her arm to keep her close to him.
“Do you wanna know which three you killed last night?” James asks, resting his chin on his hands smugly. “I’m sure, you seemed so enthusiastic with the gun in your hands.”
He waits, hoping for a response. In the silence, Simon feels a thread of energy escaping from Jane.
“Jane…” Simon tightens his grip, but the energy flow increases, until:
“Four,” she says, “Counting you.”
He wanted to get her out of his system. It had been too long, way too long that she had played that silly game with him. The “I love you, but not enough right now” game. Idiot, for falling for it.
He was running now, trying to sweat her out - her smell, her voice. The lake was the half-way point, where the track doubled-back and returned. He stopped to rest, to dig a penny out of his pocket. If only he could throw her away like he could this penny.
“I wish,” he said, as the penny sank, gone.
The ocean whispered to her, calling her back, calling her by the name no one but the sea knew. “I can’t,” she whispered, wrapped in seaweed and blood. “They’ve… they’ve…”
She sobbed, mourning an irrevocable loss.
Soft keening floated over the rising tide, voices of other creatures in the sea. Calling to her.
But the wind knew. “Not a Selkie,” it hissed, disgusted. “A Selkie once; a Selkie no more, now defiled.”
The sea heard, and pulled back; stopped touching her feet and bringing her shells. As the keening continued through the night, she cried, wrapped in seaweed and blood.
The current pulls us into a cave system. It's covered in paintings, smelling very strongly of mold and something else. Death, maybe.
A girl points. “It’s us.”
There, like a timeline going right to left, are paintings of each of us, and those we’d lost, by order of death.
"I'm next," she says, touching her painted face.
“We’ll all die,” her brother says. “Each of us are painted here. We can’t cheat fate.”
There is a silence, and a strange uneasiness settles over the group. I don’t tell them what I’ve seen; it feels like the weight of the world.
The fairy’s tears poured down her cheeks. She knew there was nothing she could do to save him. Cradling his head in her arms, she watched as his life-blood flowed from the wounds on his chest and side, staining her white robes.
“Alex,” she called softly, as if he would wake at her beckon. Now, she would do anything to get her magic back to save his life. “Why did you have to seek vengeance? What would you have gained?”
His still form gave no reply to her lamenting questions, and in her grief, she laid at his side, silent.
I am such a failure. I am four days (FOUR!) behind with 100 Words. That is ridiculous. And you know, I only sort of have a valid excuse. Actually, today I signed onto Twitter, minimized it, and started writing my speech on synesthesia for tomorrow’s class, perfectly normal. Then, with caps lock on, I yelled to the Twittosphere that I FORGOT ABOUT 100 WORDS! Be proud of me, for I finished two weeks of 100 word stories before I cracked with the pressure and just… forgot.
Like I said, I do have excuses: new job, new room renovation, and laziness.
The rainfall sounded rhythmic against the metal roof. In the dining room, a newspaper lay spread across a table, as if to read; three cases of ammunition and two Glocks laid out upon it. A man stood at the kitchen sink, an envelope and a box of matches in his hands. He coughed, and spit blood, hands shaking.
The envelope was addressed to “Timothy Sparks: Confidential.”
After glancing furtively out the window, the man reads the contents, presumably one last time, and sets it alight in the sink. Coughing, he sits in the living room, a Glock in his lap.
It is no definite time, nor any particular place. Not in her mind.
Panicked, her heart stops beating for a second. Maybe two.
Someone screams, then three more people. Her sister is confused; more shouting. A gun, a desk, an uneven tie. Her mind realizes before she does that this is a reality that cannot be dealt with abstractly. She looks again, and gasps. Her heart skips again, and as her last abstract thought, she wonders how fast her heart is going, how slow a heart can go without its body dying, and what exactly is considered a heart attack.
He’s just a dream
, she tells herself.
A character, a figment of your own imagination. You can’t fall in love with a character.
He smiles at her as they pass each other in the hall; says “Hey, how’s it going?”
She’s too caught up in trying to convince herself that he’s not the same man in her dreams to manage more than a smile and a weak, “Hi.”
But he said hi. Class isn’t boring today, neither is the drive home. Her skin itches and her mind can’t wait for the night to come, so she can dream of him.
Excerpt from my Geology paper due tomorrow:
The Queen of Gems, as opal is commonly called, is not so for no reason. Even the more common, milk opals are stunning in their calm beauty, and the rare black opals have a depth of brilliant color unknown to other gemstones. Legend and folklore has surrounded the stone, such as lending the wearer good luck, health, the gift of invisibility, self-confidence, and revitalized energy. As the birthstone of October, and the Zodiac stone of Scorpio, it is known as a water elemental, though some consider it of the fire element as well.
Only he knew about the stones.
If anyone else knew, the world would fall into chaos; men and armies all searching them out. As it was, rumor had already swept through the world of men into the land of dwarves and the refuge of the elves.
But only he knew where they were. And only he fully understood the power that was to be possessed with the stones. Power to rule the earth, or destroy it. Power to control other men.
He ran his fingers along the smooth polished roundness of one and felt a jolt of... something. Maybe power.
“What did you see, Alena?” The voice was pressing, insistent.
Alena’s lips mouthed a string of unintelligible words before she sat up and opened her eyes, focusing.
“What is it?” Urgent, again.
“You’re always so eager to hear news, Damian, without stopping to wonder first if it’s good or bad.” Alena’s voice was quiet, and soft. Strained.
“It’s news. How are we to fight without your foresight?”
She chuckled. “Maybe like everyone else does: trial and error.”
“And mistakes, more often than not.” Damian made it sound like a reproof. “I want to know.”
“You’ll die today.”
He doesn’t answer.
"Remember that day I asked you if you were a goth?" he asks her.
She shifts uncomfortably. "It wasn't a fair question, really."
"You denied it."
"I’m not goth; I wasn’t goth,” she defends herself. “What’s with this interrogation, anyway? You know I had a major crush on you at the time, so of course I'd say what I thought you wanted to hear.”
“So you DO admit you are. Were.” He smirks.
“No! That’s not it, I’m just saying…” She tilts her head to look at him sideways. “Well, maybe.”
“Don’t change for me,” he says. “I’m uninterested anyway.”
It took me thirteen years to get past my sorrow and channel it all into rage. Two more to transform the rage into skill, and the skill into bloodlust. Fifteen long years they lived in peace, never considering the little boy whose family they killed, the boy they left for dead would hunt them down. Their mistake.
“Who’s there?” The man fumbles for his gun, finding nothing.
“An old friend.”
The light flicks on; he tries to rush me. A bullet to the kneecap thwarts that; he groans in pain. I smile down at him.
“Welcome to hell, my friend.”
“Your eyes…” he stops to study her face, voice edgy and strange. “You’re scared, aren’t you?”
“Yes.” A whisper.
“You have reason to be.”
They walk, he in evident self-control, body rigid with strain. She walks beside him uncertainly: afraid to be near him for his strange, volatile mood; afraid to be too far, for the lack of his protection.
“You must think I’m insane,” he says. When she says nothing, he sucks in his breath sharply.
“I’m yours now,” she offers finally, eyes wide.
“You were always mine.” He smiles that boy-smile at her. “You were just in denial.”
Blue, the color of the sky as she walks the path to uni. The color of his eyes, his typewriter, his mood. Well, sometimes. When she can find a way to make him smile… it’s worth the world.
Slipping into her seat now, she whispers a hi to him.
“Did your essay?” he asks as greeting.
“Like I would skip it?” she retorts.
Almost a smile. Almost. “What’s it about?”
“As in the color?” he seems incredulous.
“Yeah. The… psychological effect it has… on people.” Stammering now. Damn his eyes.
“Blue’s my favorite color,” he says. Smiling; beautiful.
The words she wrote was her alibi. The hunger in her veins drove her to find the sign that would direct the rest of her life. It wasn’t like she asked for this.
“Michael,” she read aloud, fingers tracing the torn page. “It
Closing her eyes, she summoned her Energy. First, just a trickle of images, then a torrent of them, dashing through her consciousness. Picking out the ones she needed, she focused, silent. Letting them fade to black as she came back to the present. A hunt, then. Fine.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
The light blinks like a beacon, bright and obnoxious in the room. A defect, really. It wasn’t supposed to flash. Why would I want it to flash? I’ll have to figure out what happened there; I can’t be having repeat mistakes.
The orange glow bathes him in periodic light. If he wakes up now, it could be messy.
As the flashing increases in speed, I remember forgetting to solder the display wires correctly. Stupid mistake: no wonder it’s flashing.
Any second now, though, it’ll be over and I can go home.
Three… two… one:
His world explodes.
That was simple.
“How much longer do you need?”
“Thirty seconds. No, uh… a minute.”
“Or… screw it. How long do I have?”
A short chick with long black hair sticks her head around the door questioningly. “Leave it. We don’t have time.”
“The code is wide open! I can’t… can’t leave it!” Fingers working furiously over the keyboard, the lanky guy hisses under his breath. The girl taps her fingers.
They both breathe a sigh of relief.
“Blazer,” she reminds him; he grabs it from the chair.
“That’s it?” he asks.
She flashes him a smile. “Yep.”
In the soft darkness of the southern night sky, pierced only by the light of the moon and stars, a nightingale perched itself on a branch and sang of true love.
“Listen,” said the rabbits, tilting their ears to the sound. “We know that song,” and they went into the privacy of their den.
A waking owl heard, and ruffled its feathers in offense.
A star looked down at him and laughed, saying, “Prude!”
Little moths giggled and danced with glee.
And somewhere, in a green house in the country, a girl dreamt of a man, and fell in love.
The church is quiet as I walk in. A house of God, they call it. Maybe. I just need quiet. It’s been two days, and I still haven’t completely recovered. Still haven’t convinced myself it wasn’t real; it was just my mind playing tricks on me.
The scars on my arms and stomach aren’t imaginary.
Maybe I need quiet. Maybe I’m looking for protection, or hope, even. Am I a demon?
Flashes of that night, the fierceness and intensity of the fight… I killed it – the monster – yes, but does that make me one, too?
I fear who I am.
“Hi,” she says, standing on the steps of the porch.
The cat blinked his reply.
“I know you understand me,” she continues. “But whatever. I’m not here to see you anyway.” Winking at it, she makes her way to the door and knocks.
A few seconds later, another human emerges. Male, roughly 5’11, pretty lean. Confused. “Hi?” he says.
“I need someone to go to the movies with,” she announces.
He stares at her. “Are you asking me out?”
“If by ‘out’ you mean ‘out of the house,’ then yes.”
He smirks. “Fine.”
“Fine.” She smiles at him: beautiful. “Great.”
In the end, it was still as if nothing had happened. The winter turned warmer and time went on, and the dreams kept coming. They came in the day now, too; first they were little projections, then they became full-bodied visions.
People died, people wept. But her dreams gave her no special powers, no magical ability to stop what she had seen.
She stood and watched as the world fell apart, until, in despair, she leapt from a bridge into the open arms of the river.
The world reversed.
And in the end, it was as if nothing had happened.
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