Category Archives: FlashFic

FlashFic: On The Blink

I wrote the initial concept for this during a writers’ meeting a few years ago. The prompt was “Well, this is embarrassing.” We were instructed to think on that sentence for two minutes then write for two minutes. What I wrote was amusing enough to me, that I had to come back to it and give it a little more legs. Oh, and the attached image was not part of the original but seems fairly appropriate (except for the missing mask).

So here you go.


See the original and check out the artist here: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/1xed8

Wyley coughed, brown, muddy water sputtering from his lips. Agony throbbed across his whole body as he picked his head up out of the murky puddle. He spit. A glob of red, bloody spittle splooshed into the dank liquid and disappeared.

“Ew. I bet that shit tastes naaasty,” a man said.

Wyley picked his head up and looked at the speaker—the man who had just beaten the living shit out of him. The fog of pain clouded his vision and made it hard to think, but he knew who it was. It was Raiv, dressed head to toe in his signature green and black body armor. Even his face was covered by a cloth mask with the image of a green skull.

As his thoughts cleared, he remembered where he was. Raiv had found him on the street in the slums of Avesta City. Rather, Wyley had seen him and ducked into this alley to hide. The man hadn’t been fooled and walked right up to the flexboard box he’d been hiding under. Everything else after that was a pain-filled blur.

Wyley wondered he had done wrong? How had he been found?

Just looking at his attacker made Wyley want to cry. Raiv was an assassin and tracker; one of the best. Maybe the only one in the system who could have found him. But, then… He’d rounded up enough debt with Mr. Lox at the Calibran Four shava tracks that whatever Raiv was charging was probably a pittance. Wyley knew that bookies, even high-level mobster ones, didn’t usually kill their clients for being late. Wyley, however, was more than a little late, so Mr. Lox might just be willing to make an example out of him.

He spit again, trying to get the rest of the taste of blood and dirt from his mouth. “It doesn’t taste great.” He cursed himself. He needed to get out of this. Being a smartass was not the way to do it.

Raiv’s mask shifted.

Was…was he smiling?

“I like you. You’re a funny little guy.” Raiv shifted his weight and took a step forward. “I feel like, if we weren’t right here, right now, we’d have been friends.”

What the hell? Wyley’s mind panicked and he grasped onto the man’s words like a lifeboat. “B-but we can be friends. See? I can be your friend. Haha. That was funny, right?”

Raiv’s “smile” disappeared. “Awe, see? Now you’ve ruined it. Okay, time for the killing part.” The assassin leveled his gun at Wyley’s face.

Wyley looked away and squeezed his eyes shut. The wine of the guns powercells filled his ears. Then…nothing.

Chancing a glance, Wyley peered up at Raiv. The man stood there staring at the side of his pulse-pistol, his mask twisted in what must have been confusion. All of the weapon’s power and indicator lights were dark.

Raiv looked from the gun to Wyley and back. “Huh. Well, this is embarrassing. I mean, I literally just used this, like… this morning.”

A new level of fear dawned on Wyley. At least a pulse shot to the head ended it quick. Wyley’s heart pounded in his chest at the idea of staring at Raiv’s mask as the killer throttled the life out of him. He suddenly felt the urge to pee.

“Oh man…” Raiv’s mask shifted from twisted confusion into a smile and he let the weapon dip. “You should have seen it. When that pulse bolt went through his chest? My god was it a mess. I mean, I’ve killed a lot of people, right? But this guy? So. Much. Blood!”

It occurred to Wyley that Raiv might not be all there, in the head. Now he really needed to pee.

Raiv laughed to himself a minute. Finally, he sucked in a lung-full of air and continued. “I guess with those engineered organs he needed all that extra red stuff.”

“Anywho!” The assassin leaned over and pointed at his gun. “This thing, I swear. The most finicky weapon I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still my favorite. What to do, what to do…”

A voice in Wyley’s head told him to speak up, to say something. Shear terror tried to keep his lips shut, but he gathered just enough courage to speak. “Y-you could just say you killed me.”

Raiv leaned back and gasped over-dramatically. “What? And not finish my contract? Although, with my gun on the blink what am I supposed to do? I guess I could strangle you or cut your throat, but the contract did specify to shoot you. I believe Mr. Lox’s exact words were to let your brains breathe.”

“B-but you could just go get another gun! I-I’ll wait right here.”

The crazy assassin laughed again and whacked Wyley on the shoulder. The impact sent Wyley sprawling to the ground again.

“Oh, oops! Sorry. You’re really funny. And, I almost think you might just sit there and wait.” Raiv looked at his gun again and smacked the side of it. The lights flickered for a second, sending a shiver of fear back through Wyley, but went dark again. “Well, I guess I could just track you down again. I mean, you’ll know I’m coming this time, but I don’t think that’ll help you. And, chasing you was fun!”

Relief sparked in Wyley’s mind, making him have to pee even more. “Really?” He climbed to his feet. His knees cracked and something in his back popped. More pain shooting through his body. He tried to keep his legs together in the hopes of staving off peeing himself.

Raiv shruged. “I don’t see what else to do.”

The assassin slapped the side of the weapon again and Wyley saw a flash of light. For a brief second, Wyley thought he felt a surge of pain in his left arm, but it was gone as soon as it appeared. A sense of numbness washed over him. This thoughts drifted around in his head like a cloud.

Wait. Had the gun just fired? Wyley looked around but saw no signs of the alley walls being scorched. Then his gaze fell on his own right shoulder. Or where his right shoulder should have been. Now there was just a massive hole in the seared flesh and his arm was lying in the murky puddle.

He turned to Raiv. The man’s mask had a massive oval in the center, like he was staring with his mouth open wide.

“I totally did not mean to do that.” Raiv looked down at his gun. “Damn.”

Wyley’s knees gave way and the world shifted around him. After a second, he blinked and realized he was laying in the puddle again on top of his own arm.

Raiv appeared over him, pulse-pistol pointed at Wyley’s face. The assassin shrugged. “Sorry little man, guess I won’t get to chase you again anyway.”

Wyley coughed just as there was another flash of light. Then there was nothing.

FlashFic: Wally

There’s something fun about using images as inspiration for these stories. This one is inspired by Lunch Break at the Workshop by Erik Taberman over at ArtStation, which was picked in my most recent Weekly NerdArt Picks. I highly encourage you to go check out his work at https://www.artstation.com/artist/taberman.


Wally cranked hard on the bolt, sealing the front carapace panel on the work mech. He leaned back, inhaling the mixed smells of the grease and fresh bread. Dust motes, sparkling in the sunlight poking through the windows, drifted on the eddies of gentle air currents, giving the workshop an almost magical feel.

Behind him, Frida, Danel, Professor Fahsbender and Carn, the lunch delivery boy, roiled in laughter. Carn must have said something funny. He was always saying something funny. Wally supposed that was why the girls in town always found him so interesting.

Pride swelled in Wally. Even after three weeks, he still could not believe he was a free man apprenticing under The Professor. Out of all of the slaves in the Confederacy, The Professor had purchased him. Then, of all things, the man had given Wally his freedom and offered him an apprenticeship. As if Wally’s freedom was not his greatest dream, the Professor was considered the greatest mechanist in the country. Some even said none in Caeledonia or Albior could match his knowledge and skill at creating new and wondrous machines, to study under him more than Wally had ever thought possible.

He hopped down from the short step ladder and stepped over to grab a slice of the bread and a piece of fruit. Frida snatched the last banana out from under Wally’s fingers. If he’d been with his friends back home he would have protested, but here it was simply not his place to question or challenge any of the others.

Frida turned her head a little toward him and he saw a faint bit of a smile on her lips. She looked at him from the corner of her eye. “I’m sorry, did you want this?”

He shook his head. “No, Mistress Frida,” he said, his disappointment seeping into his voice.

Her shoulders slumped and she turned to him, shaking the banana in his face. “Dammit, Wally. I’ve told you, if you want something, say so. You’re not slave anymore. You have to learn to stand up for yourself a little.”

Wally nodded and put his hand out. “Can I have my banana?”

“You mean my banana.” She peeled back the banana’s skin and bit off a third of the pale fruit. “No.”

Wally’s heart sank and he protested. “But, you said…”

Frida stood and handed him what was left. “Well, we don’t want your head getting too big, now do we?” She clapped him on the shoulder and brought him into a one-armed side-hug. A deep laugh bellowed from her lungs.

“Waltem, are you finished with the prototype?” The Professor’s stern voice cut through the laughter. Most of the time he was happy and jovial, so when he sounded like this, Wally knew there was trouble.

Frida let Wally go and he cleared his throat. “Um, y-yessir, Professor Fahsbender sir. It’s all buttoned up, sir.”

“All. Buttoned. Up.” The Professor stepped closer to the table. As he spoke, his voice rose in pitch and volume. “Yes, I can see it’s all buttoned up, lad. But I asked if it was finished, which it clearly is not. You cannot be finished with the prototype until it has been taken out for today’s test.”

Sweat beaded on his forehead as he realized what he’d done wrong. “N-no sir. I’m sorry. I was just grabbing a bite to eat. I was going to ask Frida or Danel to test drive it as soon as—”

“Mister Pearlson!” The man’s face was a mask of calm, but his voice boomed in the small workshop. Carn and the other workers stared blankly. “Do you think, Mister Pearlson, that I pay you to push your work off on everyone else? Do you think that that is why I gave you your freedom? So you could become a layabout?”

Wally’s voice was barely a whisper. “Layabout?” His face drained of color. This was it, he was doomed. The  Professor would sell him back into slavery. No, even worse, he was going to fire him, kick him out on his ear.

Then something his boss had said dawned on him. “M-m-me, sir?”

“Do you expect others to do your work for you, Mister Pearlson?” The corner of the Professor’s mouth twitched and there was a glint in his eye.  

A new warmth filled Wally. He was being asked, no told to drive the prototype. It never occurred to him that he would ever get to drive a machine like this. He’d spent his whole life doing exactly as he was told, no more, no less. Now, he was being reprimanded, actually reprimanded, for not taking the slightest bit of initiative. His spine tingled and he straightened up. If he was going to be a free man, he needed to act like one.

“No sir.” His back felt stronger. A cloud of confusion that he hadn’t even known was there evaporated. “I’ll take care of it straight away.”

“See that you do, boy.” The corner of the Professor’s mouth twitched again.

Was that…a smile? Not wanting to push the older man any further, Wally snatched two slices of bread, a piece of the cured meat and a small wedge of cheese from the table then wrapped them in a napkin. With his bundle, he marched to the other side of the workshop and shouldered open the wide rolling doors.

Wally looked out across the open grassy plains. He was about to take the most advanced work mech in the world for a stroll across that open field. Glancing back over his shoulder at the Professor and the rest of the work crew. How much his life had changed in just three weeks, all because of this brilliant old man. Before, he had nothing, he was nothing, just a piece of someone else’s property. Now, he had food, a job, a little bit of money, and friends.

His life was different; bigger, wider and grander than he’d ever expected, and he was going to make the most of it as best he as he could.

FlashFic: New Gaea

I really liked this image from last week’s Nerd Art Picks. This one is courtesy of Ivan Malinin over at Art Station. Ivan’s pic instantly inspired me because of the interesting juxtaposition between the nude woman and the science fiction setting. It appeared to me that she’d clearly just woken from cryosleep/hibernation. And in my head, I had to wonder what would make her jump to look out the window even before getting dressed. So, I decided to tell that story.

New Gaea.

Cryo-sickness fogged Seree’s mind as she stared out the window. Her limbs felt like lead weights and hear heart pounded in her chest. The air tasted metallic and sterile, even through the thick, sticky saliva coating her tongue. A tickle rose in her chest and she coughed, her chest aching with each heave. Her hand reflexively grabbed the porthole ledge to keep her standing upright.

She’d been standing at the window, staring out into the black void for almost fifteen minutes. Once again, the planet with its twin moons rotated into view. She was the first, the first human to see this new world. Sure, two hundred years ago, Earth’s best and brightest had caught images of this star system and the seven planets that orbited it. They’d even measured the luminal spectrum of the light each planet reflected and found one of them to be a blue world, ripe with water and air. But, she was the first to truly see it with her own eyes. This was New Gaea, humanity’s new home away from Earth.

Lieutenant Seree Mazdani had been so anxious to see where she and the rest of the ESS Magellan crew and passengers were that she jumped up to look out the window in the middle of changing out of her cryosuit. Snapping out of her wonder, she took her uniform out of the bin under her cryogenic unit and slipped it on. The blue and white ribbed material fit tight against her skin but wasn’t uncomfortable. It smelled of plastic and nylon.

Out the window, the planet had disappeared again, an artifact of the rotating ring of the ship, the function that created the centripetal gravity.  Seree sat down at her console and began initializing the ship’s command system. Her first goal was to start the diagnostic systems. While that was running, she’d begin waking the rest of the crew, starting with the captain.

The computer system hummed as it began starting up the manual systems. She tapped a key on the screen and a woman’s voice echoed in her room. “Good morning, Lt. Mazdani. Welcome to New Gaea.”

Seree smiled and glanced at the ceiling.  Logically, she knew Autocrew was in her terminal at her fingertips more than above her head. Still, since that was where the voice came from, that was where instinct made her look.

“Good morning Autocrew. How are we doing today?”

The initialization progress bar inched up to thirty-nine percent. “I currently show no system problems.  It has been forty-eight hours since my last self-diagnostic.”

Seree nodded, another reflex to the realism of the AI pilot. “I’m running a full diag now, but I expect you’re in tip-top shape. What about our new home? Is it as beautiful as it looks from up here?”

Sixty-three percent. “The last spectrographic analysis, conducted eight days ago, detected higher than expected levels of carbon in the atmosphere. The planet has shown no signs of tectonic instability and there are no near-planet objects on approach that are large enough to pose a threat. There is, however, a large number of small objects in individual stable orbits.”

“Higher carbon? Is there any volcanic activity?”

Seventy-eight percent. “High-resolution astrography imaging has detected four hundred thirty-seven smoke plumes. However, comparative analysis shows no correlation to volcanism or tectonic instability.”

“Huh.” Seree’s brow furrowed. “Are we seeing some kind of large scale fire system?”

Eighty-three percent. “I don’t have enough data to answer the question.”

She nodded to herself again. “Of course.”

“Autocrew.” Seree remembered her boots and pulled one on. “Send the latest astrography images to my tablet.”

Ninety-eight percent. “Files transferred.”

“Thank you, Autocrew.” She slid the clear, graphiglass device from its port on the side of the terminal. “And keep an eye on the planet, something’s off.”

“As always, Lieutenant. Diagnostic complete. All systems are operating within parameters. Would you like me to begin waking the crew?”

“Let’s start with Captain Xiangu for now.” Seree pressed the button at the top of the device and the surface lit up. Colored windows and icons appeared in the glass, indicating connections to various systems in the ship. She skipped everything else and tapped on the notification in the top left corner of the device. A slideshow of images appeared. The first set of images showed the New Gaea from a distance. As she swiped through them, though, the planet drew closer. She reached an image where the planet took up the whole frame.

She moved to zoom in on the image when Autocrew’s voice stopped her.

“Lieutenant, I think we have a problem. I am detecting seven projectiles leaving the planet’s surface. Correction, nineteen projectiles.”

Seree’s heart skipped a beat. Projectiles? “Get me images of those projectiles and estimate their courses based on current trajectories.”

“Processing.”

Another notification appeared on her tablet. She thumbed the icon and a closeup image of the planet’s surface filled her screen. Three lines streaked across the image, starting as a thin, bright, yellow line, widening to thick, black clouds. Confusion flooded through her then was consumed with sheer terror.

She jumped up and, with one boot on, limped over to the window. “Oh God.”

“Trajectories for the first seventy-five projectiles calculated, Lieutenant.”

Seventy-five? Seree twisted her head in the porthole, trying to get a look at the planet’s surface. “Are they targeting us?”

“The data does not suggest that. Most of the projectiles are coming from the two largest continents. Based on their current trajectories, they are heading for each other.”

She snatched up her tablet again and went back to the first set of images. Swiping her fingers across the glassy surface, she zoomed in as much as the resolution would allow. There, pixel by pixel she picked out the smoke plumes. Each dark trail came from an area that was gray, not green like a forest or brown like a prairie. She swiped through a few more images and found one of the planet in its night-shadow. Millions of little yellow and white lights dotted New Gaea’s surface, clustered mostly in groups near the coasts.

Seree’s vision dimmed and the tablet slipped from her fingers.

“Autocrew. The planet is populated.” Her words were barely a whisper. She looked back out the window just in time to see the first bright dot pop. Excruciating mental anguish flooded through her. “And now they’re killing each other.”

Dozens of more bright dots appeared, quickly fading into angry red blossoms. Seree couldn’t move. The native populations of New Gaea were blowing each other into oblivion and there was nothing she could do about it.

A woman’s cough caught her attention but was not enough to pull her away from the window. Seree decided to give Captain Xiangu a few minutes to get her bearings. Then she’d give her the bad news: They’d just traveled across the vastness of space for two hundred years for nothing. In a matter of minutes, New Gaea would be little more than an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland.

A tear trickled down the side of Seree’s face. As if watching all of New Gaea die was not bad enough, her situation was worse. The Magellan was designed for a one-way trip, there was no going home.

FlashFic: Malware

Malware is inspired by Reign Tran’s Scifi Girl, from over at Deviant Art. Check out the original here: http://shizen1102.deviantart.com/art/Scifi-Girl-644559938

I found this image on Deviant Art from user Shinzen 1102 the other day and was very inspired by it. Often, art on places like DA or Artstation are cool, but not very action or emotionally driven (to me, anyway). This piece, however, did something for me. There is a story conveyed here, lots of possible stories, really. What follows, is just one of them. If you’re interested, I encourage you to go to Shinzen’s original post on DA and express how much you like their work.

Malware.

Karen stared at her right hand. Could she rightly still call it her hand? It was shaped exactly as her original limb had been, only now… The hypersteel skin curved and twisted as if it were soft and supple flesh, but when she touched it, it was cold and hard to the touch. The red glow of the burning rubble surrounding her reflected on the smooth, metal surface, ensuring it could not be confused with the real thing.

She looked away from her cybernetic limb. Karen had only had the prosthetic for a month, having lost her original arm, from the middle of her bicep down, to a work accident. As a machinist, she’d even opted for the welding torch embedded in the palm. She was still in the middle of her physical therapy and hadn’t even returned to work yet.

Her gaze fell on the carnage at her feet. At the sight of the devastation, her stomach twisted and her mouth fell open. Smoldering ruins lay all around. To her left and right, wide arcs of destruction were carved out of the sides of the two, nearly ancient brick buildings, their rusty fire escapes twisted in glowing knots of steel.

What have I done?

Smoke filled her lungs and the odors of burning…everything, flooded into her nose. Above all the others, something harsh and acrid, like sulfur mixed with charcoal assaulted her sinuses. It was almost like when she’d caught her hair on fire the first time she’d tried to make noodles as a child.

Her gaze darted around the area and fell on a fiery shape. Then it hit her. Her flesh-hand flew up and covered her mouth. She was smelling Taia’s burning corpse. Nausea exploded in her stomach and she turned and retched. Terror flooded through her as bitter bile coated her tongue.

Oh God, Taia!

Karen hadn’t meant to do it. She hadn’t even been that angry. If only Taia hadn’t… She’d told the woman their relationship was over, that she didn’t love her, but Taia insisted. The other woman had grabbed for Karen’s shoulder, but she’d whipped around and slapped her. With her prosthetic hand. The impact had knocked her former lover to the ground. When Taia climbed to her feet, blood trickled down from the corner of her mouth and her cheek was an angry read.

Then Taia snapped and screamed like a madwoman. Her first punch ended up being her last. Karen’s prosthetic acted on its own, she hadn’t known it could do that. The cybernetic limb reached up and caught Taia’s fist. Karen remembered the horror as she watched the metal hand crush Taia’s hand like an overripe peach. Then… Then the torch fired. It should not have been able to do that either, but not only did the torch burn Taia’s hand, it shot out a devastatingly powerful plasma jet that turned the other woman’s arm to ash in a second. Unable to control it, Karen had flailed and ran into the alley. In her rush, she’d sheared off the corners of the buildings and scorched everything in her path.

Karen’s mind returned to the present and she fell to her knees. She didn’t care about the scraps of glass and stone that dug into her skin; she didn’t even feel the wounds. Neither did she hear the sirens approaching.

Peeling her half-jacket off, she glared at the melding of flesh and hypersteel just below her shoulder. Was it possible? Was the attachment seam further up her arm than before? Another bolt of panic shot through her as the border between her skin and the metal moved. She knew it shouldn’t be possible, flesh could not just change into metal. And yet she’d seen it.

Images and thoughts race through her mind like someone flipping through an old printed photo album. Maybe it hadn’t happened. Maybe her mind was playing tricks on her. Maybe, in her hysteria, she’d just misremembered where the surgeons had attached her mechanical appendage. Maybe she was just in shock.

The line moved again.

Karen screamed. She yanked at her prosthetic, dug at the seam between flesh and steel. Her fingernails cut into the skin, which was quickly replaced with more hypersteel. She had to get it off, but everything she did only seemed to make the steel grow faster.

Something snapped inside of Karen. Her head drooped, her eyes closed and she cried. With her metal hand in her lap, she turned the palm up. There, right in the center of her hand, was a torch’s plasma emitter. If she couldn’t remove the limb, maybe she had another way out; a way so she couldn’t hurt anyone else.

The sirens were louder now, loud enough for her to hear over her own sobs. Flashing red and blue lights pierced the orange glow of the fires. Words floated to her ears amid the crackling blaze. The words were angry, commanding.

“Don’t move!”

Karen looked up. Three police in blue and silver combat suits inched toward her, plasma pistols trained on her.

Tears streamed down her face, leaving twisted, clean lines on her blackened cheeks. She shook her head and pleaded. “No. You have to run! I can’t control it.”

Movement to her right caught her attention. Her arm rose up on its own, palm facing the nearest officer. She screamed again and shoved the prosthetic back down. The metal arm fought back, grabbing her good wrist and twisting. Bone snapped and pain ripped through Karen.

Her mind blanked at the agony. The cybernetic arm took advantage and lifted up again. A tiny whisper drifted out from between Karen’s lips. “No.”

Time slowed for Karen as a bright blue line of plasma shot out of the prosthetic’s palm. The energized gas streaked through the air, striking the nearest police officer square in the chest. There was a flash of light and in the next second, the cop was falling to the ground, a six-inch hole where his face had been.

One of the other two officers yelled. “Fire!”

Karen felt her arm shifting to take aim, but not fast enough. She didn’t want it to be fast enough. Something evil was happening to her, and in the split-second before the officer’s plasma bolts stretched out toward her, she was thankful that they were there to stop her from hurting more people.

The first officer’s bolt seared a hole in the center of her forehead, tearing through bone and brain. Karen’s body collapsed to the ground. With no brain to power it, the cybernetic arm fell at her side.

Sergeant Kinkaid kept his weapon trained on the woman as he inched forward. When he was close enough, he checked her pulse. Nothing.

He reached up and touched the button beside his ear. “Four seven alpha kilo to command, request coroner. Officer and suspect down. Inform Digital Diseases Bureau, it looks like we found another one infected.”

FlashFic: Mahlkortarkirex

Mahlkortarkirex, aka: Mr. Buttons the fuggler

Original image is from here: http://www.fuggler.com/gallery.html

Story #4 in my Flash Fiction series for the month of October, each one inspired by an image. 

Mahlkortarkirex struggled against the barrier. His power weakened as he pushed, but so did the barrier. It knew that if it did not succeed, the Primordial One himself would swallow Mahlkortarkirex whole, consuming his energy and destroying any sentience and sense of self it had.

A tiny crack appeared in the wall. After so long, Mahlkortarkirex was going to be free. How long had it been since the Ancients had been imprisoned? Fourteen? Sixteen aeons? Mahlkortarkirex had no idea what the Multiverse was like now. Surely, their imprisonment had caused the collapse of at least one Verse. And, surely, new Verses would have been born out of that darkness.

The crack widened just enough for Mahlkortarkirex to get a tendril of his essence through. Yes, Mahlkortarkirex could feel it, a fresh, young Verse. And there was mortal life! So much life, scattered across billions of galaxies.

Mahlkortarkirex wedged more of itself into the gap. The walls, like blades of soulfire, sliced into its essence, but it Mahlkortarkirex refused to give up. It was too late to give up now. If it returned to the Cluster, and even if the Primordial One continued to let it exist, Mahlkortarkirex would not be strong enough to fend off the basalings. They would tear at Mahlkortarkirex’s essence until there was nothing left. No, it must go forward, no matter the pain.

The crack widened again. Mahlkortarkirex reached out. It needed to find a place to latch onto, some creature to secure itself and pull the rest of its essence through the gap. But it must be careful. Too-advanced of a civilization might actually find a way to destroy Mahlkortarkirex before it could properly regenerate. Too weak, and it would take too long to prepare the way for the rest of the Cluster.

There. That one. A tiny, blue world. So much life, so many souls. And they are on the precipice of reaching for the stars. They would be so ripe for Mahlkortarkirex’s feeding. And its control.

Mahlkortarkirex reveled in the anticipation of peeling this species’s flesh and and flaying their souls. They would beg for mercy and die in rapture as Mahlkortarkirex consumed them. So delicious. It had been so long.

Again, the gap widened. Mahlkortarkirex sent more of himself through. There, a tiny domicile. Mahlkortarkirex would take the youngling. First, it would feed on the younglings parents, then bring the rest of the world to its will.

The plump, pink thing played with a small toy. It smiled. Mahlkortarkirex did not care for how the thing felt, other than that it would cause the youngling such glorious torrents of pain and anguish.

The pressure of the gap grew. The seam in the Seal was healing. Mahlkortarkirex needed to hurry.

Reaching out, Mahlkortarkirex extended to the youngling. Join, yes, Mahlkortarkirex was going to join with this insignificant creature.

Mahlkortarkirex turned its focus back to the gap. Pulling the rest of itself, it continued to reach out, stretching itself across the vastness of all time and space. Finally, after what had been a near eternity of imprisonment, Mahlkortarkirex felt the touch. That connection, sucked the rest of it though the gap and pulled it down to its new host.

Mahlkortarkirex searched for the soul but found only emptiness. Something was wrong. Something was very wrong.

* * * * *

Dianne poked her head around the corner and watched her daughter. She smiled. Tomorrow was the child’s first day of school. Dianne knew it would be a difficult day for the girl, but it would be even harder for herself. Letting go was always hard.

Mia, her long brown locks tumbling haphazardly over down to her shoulders, poured a tiny plastic teapot into an even tinier plastic teacup. She repeated the process into a second teacup sitting opposite her on the small table.

Dianne’s followed the teapot and her smile faded. Seated at the table opposite her daughter was that horridly ugly little doll. She wanted to ground the hell out of Dillon, her older son, for giving her that thing. Shivering, she turned back to her daughter and forced a smile. “Mia, baby. Time for lunch.”

The girl looked up from her tea party and smiled. “Gwilled Samiches?”

Dianne nodded. “Yep! Let’s go.”

She stepped into the room and ushered the child out. Once Mia had rounded the corner and was out of sight, she snatched up the brown monstrosity. With it’s one green button-eye and one orange button-eye, it looked crazy. Yet, even more unnerving were the tiny fake teeth Dillon had sewn into its mouth. The boy had meant the doll to be funny, but Dianne just thought it creepy as hell.

Dianne shoved the doll into her pocket and followed Mia. In the dining room, Mia sat happily in her seat, munching on her grilled ham and cheese. Dianne flashed her a smile and turned into the kitchen. Out of sight, she pulled the doll from her pocket. She held it up and looked at it.

“God, you’re ugly. Mia will just have to find another Mrs. Biggleworth.” She nudged her foot forward and pressed the lever on the trash bin. The lid flipped up.

Almost, as if just out of earshot, Dianne thought she heard a voice calling to her, telling her not to throw the toy away. Something in the back of her mind called to her that this doll was very important, that it was the key to all her dreams. Somehow, this doll would make the world fall at their knees to her.

Dianne shook her head and shrugged. She nudged aside bits of refuse from last night’s dinner and shoved the doll underneath. Replacing the top layer of garbage, she shivered.

“Ugh. Creepy fucking thing.” She brushed her hands off and went to wash her hands. A second later, her mind drifted back to how fast Mia was growing up. Soon, she wouldn’t even need little dolls.

 

Special thanks to Bliss for starting Nightmare Fuel. 

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