Cold Hard Cash

He could hear the faint sound of laughter filtering through the trees.

Shafts of sunlight poured through gaps in the canopy, but the air was strangely cold.

Robert thought back, brought up the map in his mind; there shouldn’t be people for miles.

He wandered into the nearest patch of light, glanced up, and confirmed what he expected: thunder clouds rolling in already.

A necromancer, and by the sounds of it, he’d brought a band of witches too.

Just when he needed an easy job.

Roberts sighed, gripped his sword a bit tighter, and jogged off into the gathering darkness.

[100 words]

 

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Bound

They writhe, chained, below. No sleep, only the respite of discomfort before pain.

Soon they will be back on the oars, hauling themselves across oceans, fighting to live a life in chains rather than die in them. They’re just like us—the tribal tattoos inked on their forearms the only difference.

No, the men I work alongside are the real savages. They savour their positions: crew of a slave ship—what power! I don’t—but I’m grateful to be where I am.

They writhe; my fingers trace idly the scars on my forearms, where once my own tattoos were inked.

[100 words]

I Warned You

In London you’re never far from a rat.

Everyone knows that.

You’re also never far from one of my kind.

You know that too, to an extent.

You just don’t know what we are.

We’re waiting, suffering while we wait but that isn’t important.

The end will be so sweet we won’t remember the suffering.

I only call it the end so you’ll understand.

It is the beginning of a new age for us.

Most of my kind don’t care what happens to you.

Having a conscience doesn’t make me unique, but I’ve picked up more human traits than most.

Survival

Survival: Those who walked upon the Earth still, didn’t know of or hope for anything else. When it’s not just your world, but the whole world, that comes crashing down, immediate priorities tend to stay simple. Those who survived the impact and the subsequent ‘winter’ became single-minded scavengers, wanting only what they could consume.

It was in this state that the crew found every survivor: concerned only with lasting another day. They did not respond to the plans for rebuilding, did not comprehend the need to secure life on a timescale longer than a season, longer than food would last.

 

[100 words]

Once

Once I heard Heaven. Not as peaceful as I expected, at first I struggled to hear any one voice.

They talked slowly, and each voice grew in volume before fading away, as if floating lazily past. Many sang in foreign tongues. One line I understood, sung by a woman, lasted five minutes.

“Oh to be where the grass is greener…”

The first word took up half that time, drawn out in wistfulness. There were no harps, but I heard a steel drum. People ask how I knew it was Heaven. I say I’d heard my father calling, they smile sadly.

[100 words]

Forbidden Beauty [flash fic]

Hey there you wonderful people!

So my housemate and I had another short story competition, as outlined in my previous post about Vocal.

Now I don’t want to insist you read my work on some other site, so you can read it below if you want! This is how this one’s going down:

If you want to support me by reading the piece on Vocal, just click here. You’ll earn me like $0.003 and I’ll be super grateful. My housemate’s piece, for comparison, is on Vocal too.

[fun aside: Vocal has a ton of different categories, and you have to pick one for each piece, and they all come with a range of preset tags, so I can’t be my usual inventive tagging self. This one’s in the ‘Criminal’ category and tagged ‘fiction’, ‘guilty’, and ‘mafia’.]

If you’d rather read it here, just read on! No hard feelings. The piece is in full below, with the prompts used, and some chat, at the end. Enjoy!

Forbidden Beauty

I’ll tell you how I died, and you can tell me why. The cause was simple enough: a fall from as great a height as the 13-story Lindenberg Building will wreak havoc with anyone’s structural integrity.

Excuse the jargon—even in death I’m a typical engineer. So how I got mixed up in all this is beyond me.

It started when I met Grace, the born-again Christian evangelist, behind the scenes on her show. I was there advising the production company on the new stage they were building specifically for Grace’s energetic and dramatic performances. She used ‘the power of God’ to heal the sick and crippled live on prime-time TV, and to bring in millions of dollars in pledges, naturally.

Of course, Grace was as beautiful and charming as you’d expect, but she was a celebrity, you know? At first, I thought nothing of my crush. But as the weeks past, and we saw each other more and more, I started to get the impression Grace felt the same way.

One day, I let my touch linger on her arm a moment too long. She turned, looked me square in the eyes, and mouthed, “Patience.” I didn’t need to wait long. The next day, she invited me for a drink after work in a discreet bar downtown. From there, a chauffeur took us back to her place. The night was a first for me, but not for Grace, I learned.

All of this did not sit well with the man about town: Jack “White Baby” Lindenberg, head of the Faith Network Guild. It was his money, or his family’s, that ultimately funded Grace’s show, and that was no coincidence. He’d apparently had his eye on her from the start, and well before I arrived on the scene. I was told by reliable witnesses she had not reciprocated. It was one of those reliable witnesses, I’ve no doubt, who also took news of my blossoming romance with Grace back to Jack.

Someone had seen us backstage, snatching a kiss between shoots. We heard them scuttle off, but didn’t see who. We laughed it off.

A day later I found myself invited up to Jack’s penthouse apartment atop the Lindenberg Building where the studio was housed. After a few drinks from his extensive collection, Jack invited me out to the roof to ‘admire the view’.

“Sure is a beautiful sight,” he mused as we looked out over the city. “I love beauty, you know? I’ll do anything to keep hold of it.”

The statement sounded odd, and I turned and searched Jack’s face with my eyes. I knew he didn’t like people looking at him, given the skin disfigurement that earned him his nickname—a curiosity in a noble black family. But I figured I was in too deep anyway.

There was cold resolve in those eyes. A bodyguard stepped from the shadows.

“I’m sorry, Angie,” he said to me as the hulking great man approached. “But I can’t let you take her.”

[502 words]

[prompts: “It’s a boy!”; from a great height; Grace, the born-again Christian; Jack “White Baby” Lindenberg, head of the [] guild]

[Once again, this is the result of a bit of friendly competition between me, my housemate, and our latest competitor, his girlfriend. Find the full explanation with the first piece I wrote, Division. We added a few new prompts to the disc, drew four again, and gave ourselves around 15 minutes—the buzzer this time was when a friend we were expecting rang the doorbell. The eagle-eyed among you will notice I missed a prompt! So I may or may not be DQ’d. Still, hope you enjoyed it!]

[I won’t be putting my housemate’s entry on here, because it’s his, so I’ll just give you the Vocal link. Of course, reading his and not mine on Vocal puts him ahead in our competition, so if you read his, please at least click through to mine here :)]

Trying out Vocal [Getting paid to write stuff!]

Vocal

Heard of it? Vocal’s a publishing site that rewards its authors for how well their content performs. You can find it here: https://vocal.media/

Anyway, my housemate and I had a little short story competition this weekend based on a few prompts, and we decided the only fair way to judge art was, of course, to monetise it.

So I’ve signed up (he already had an account) and we’ve each stuck our stories on there.

You can check them out here:

Division

The Brightest Star

And we’ll get stats on views! And very small amounts of cash!

What do you think of the pieces, the site, the idea? Let me know 🙂