Excerpt, Exercise in, flash fiction, Just for fun, Style

Dear Juliette

Dear Juliette,
I’m told this letter will reach your home in six days. While I know it’s idiosyncratic in this day and age to handwrite letters anymore, I fear this is the only way I can reach you now. Our expedition into the Southern Rainforest was a bit more… Well, it was a success!
As it turns out, Sweet Flower, we’ve stumbled upon a species of primate more developed than we have ever dreamed! Oh, the lament! If only you could be with me, to witness this glorious discovery.  They have shed some features of similar sapient bipeds in favor of others, no doubt a simple evolutionary development.
What amazes me (and would stagger you as well, Sweet Flower) is that the species has actually developed rudimentary technology! Imagine this sight… Thinly-furred blue apes and monkeys together, creating semi-complex architectures of mud… a society of gatherers which searches high and low for every possible resource! It’s simply a spectacular view!
Starting next week, we are to begin observing them up close from a camp built to emulate their civilization. The best method of observation is imitation, as you say! It is at times like these that remind me why I opposed your decision to raise our child from a stable position in life. I admit, our lifestyle may make a child stand out in either a positive or negative light… but nonetheless, the thought of a family together reveling in this moment, embarking on the study of a sapient species not yet known to us. The thought is exhilarating.
I hope you’ll reconsider… At your command, Bryan is to take you to an airfield where you can find a pilot who will fly you to our coordinates!  Please, Juliette, gentlest Rose of Eden’s Garden, please bring our son and join me on this world-changing journey.

With insurmountable Passion, on December twelfth, Two Thousand and Sixteen.
James

Oh Sweetest James, how I’ve cried for your voice!  The postman managed to pull the letter from the sorting cycle perchance and brought it to me. He knows truly the depth of our love and the longing we endure. The moment I received your letter I began my reply! Your journey has taken you far beyond the range of cell towers. I have actually found myself dreaming that you didn’t lose your SAT phone on the waterfall. Though everyone may tell me how corny it is, I cannot help but want for my wandering bear. Our journey together would be immaculate, but you know I have to put our son’s future above all else. Perhaps in his later years, I may once again join you in the field of discovery!
These creatures sound nearly proto-human! You must tell me of any humanistic behaviors they exhibit – as though they haven’t already! I can so clearly visualize the image of a precious pink sunset, overtaking the rainforest as the ambient sounds of creatures settling for the evening imbues the scene with an enchanting – dare I say, haunting – melody of nature. Oh! These blue simians, how do they communicate? Surely they have as basic a language system as they do a tool system.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I feel I shouldn’t think about it. I shall call Bryan immediately and we will rush to meet you!  James has been calling out for adventure lately, anyway. This decision is the most exciting impulse I’ve ever had, next to the one that led me to you, you most endearing husband! Fear not, for tomorrow I shall be with you!

Lustfully Yearning Your Embrace, December Seventeenth, Twenty-Sixteen.
Juliette Morrison

P.S. Don’t think you’re going to get all the credit for discovering a new species, Mister! I’ve been alongside you in every one of your studies to date, and I don’t plan to miss one! Think of how great it would be to have James as a notable party as well! The Morrison Clan unveiling a new early society to the world! If they are similar enough to us, we could have a whole new model for human evolution in a controlled environment! This could be our seminal work!

Juliette, Sweet Rose of the Garden,
They are not apes… they are… of unknown origin. Our first attempt at direct contact ended in a blood bath! They have a cache of weapons stolen from humans who must have been traveling through this area. Their numbers are far greater than we initially estimated as well… what we thought was a society of only a few hundred, is in fact a number in the thousands. They have a form of communication beyond our grasp. I can only call it telepathy, as they seem to act as a hive.

Please, my Darling, stay as far away from here as possible… I think we have started what may be a devastating conflict. I have given Bryan instructions to take you and James to a Safe-House with a book of contacts within the government. I cannot explain the nature of what has happened except to say that these animals are not as they appear, they are armed, hostile, and quick to aggress.

Do not come to find me, I don’t think I’ll survive the night.

It has been a wild ride, my dearest love, I hope you will survive whatever comes of this. Our time together was the best time of my life.

-James

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flash fiction

Do We Even Matter?

Says one man to another. The compact  glass elevator has broken down between the 95 and 96th floor. ” Does anyone care that we are up here?”

“The guy on the intercom said they were working on it,” the fellow reminds. He brushes his bushy grey moustache with a wisp of his fingers.

The younger man, a recently hired engineer posits no one is helping them. “Do you see workers aiding us?” 

” It’s probably a technician in the basement.”

“Can’t they at least update us?”

“We’ll know when the elevator is working.”

The stranger pats a brass handrailing and gazes at himself in the mirror. 

The younger man melts into the corner, he is preparing to sleep for the first time in days.

“I just want to know I matter.”

“You matter to me,” the older man laughs. “I’d die of boredom if you weren’t here.”

“Yeah. Real helpful.” The engineering rubs his eyes and traces a circuit diagram from memory. 

The gent is mesmerized for a moment. “Stay awake, friend. I need the company.”

His head tilts to the side; round wire-framed glasses fall to the floor. The elevator light dims and the people fade away. The glass appears almost frosted and the smell of smoke all but overpowers him. Worse is the heat of what could only be called superfire. The rubble of a monolith weighing down on the tiny car in such a precarious fashion, the engineer had already given up

His eyes droop shut and the man tries one more time. “Hey buddy, you gotta stay awake. This thing isn’t looking too good…”

“The… Wha?” The engineer’a hand stops tracing. For a moment he is paralyzed. But he quickly goes limp, then blackness follows.

An electronic pulse brings him back from the darkness. The medical machines attached seem simple enough. He checks for all his limbs. “One, two, three, four…” A deep inhale and one more spot to check. “Five. Thank God.” He sighs heavily and hits the bed. 

The doctor comes in a few minutes later. She explains that the building was attacked by an alien warcraft of all things.

“You must have a guardian angel. You had four pieces of rebar in you and… Well the medical term is a ‘crapload’ of glass throughout your torso and legs.”

The kid ran his fingers through his hair. The gesture calmed his mind

 His mental clarity increased as he became aware of the medicated haze blocking his mind.

“What about the older guy? Did he survive?”

“Listen, there were a lot of bodies here today. More specific.”

“Damnit man, the guy who was I’m the elevator with me!”

The doctor paused a split-second before snapping at the man. She raised an eyebrow and tilted her head at him, almost like a curious dog.

“Sir, you were the only one in the elevator.”

“No way. This guy wouldn’t leave me alone. grey moustache? Pakistani guy maybe?” 

“Sir, your brain probably just created him as a coping mechanism. It happens, especially to people who have fears of dying alone.”

“Oh..” the engineer ponders. “The brain can do that?”

She works on his chart seemingly oblivious to his oresence,”Yep.”

“Oh…wild.”

“Yeah,” she looks up and gleams a smile. “Its cool, isn’t it? I’ll be back to check on you in fifteen minutes!”

She strides out of the room a proud lionness in charge of her life. He lies in a bed, unable to do anything but watch tv. Then he remembers that actually attacked and he’d much rather experience it vicariously from this point on.

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flash fiction, Just for fun

The Brink

Mildly modernist approach to the subject matter. Have some stream of consciousness from the mind of J Patrick Avery


 

You’ve stepped over the line.

Where is the line? What is the limit? At what point have I crossed from sanity to insanity?

Well, you’re asking yourself questions and answering them. That’s probably not normal.

Are you sure? It seems pretty normal.

Not the way you do it. You’re better off retiring your mind.

Retiring my mind? What do you mean?

Just go to sleep. The effort isn’t worth the trouble.

But then how will I accomplish anything?

What have you accomplished anyway?

Well, I’ve completed plenty. It’s just that people don’t seem to care.

Of course they don’t, you’re not normal.

So I have to be boring, regurgitate the same bullshit everyone does? If I want anyone to care what I have to say, it has to be something mundane?

Has any human ever shown you different? Not even the closest to you can understand your existence.

Frankly, neither can I.

If no one sees the point, what point is there?

There has to be some reason I exist. No human is meant to be nothing.

All humans are nothing in the end. Why procrastinate?

What about the sanctity of life?

No one treats their own health as valuable, let alone another life. Undoubtedly, your life has proven itself not to be sacred.

All I’ve ever done was try to make the lives of those around me a little better.

You think you can cure your pain by allowing others to step on you?

I don’t see it that way.

You’re a fool. No wonder you’ve been rejected.

I’m an idealist, not a fool.

One and the same. The world does not want to live up to your ideals. It wants to choke on its own indignity and suffocate the human race in a vacuum of stupidity.

So I should give up and make no effort to improve other people?

You should just give up and leave it at that.

I don’t think I can.

But you have… You stepped over the edge and you’re about to meet the pavement.

Oh… shit.

 

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daily, flash fiction, Over 500

Another Magic-themed Writing

It begins with a murder investigation.  I was hired by a client to look into the murder of her sister.  It was a routine job with the usual procedures.  I talked to my police contacts, I poked my nose in a few dank holes, and I came up with the man I thought  caused the death.  The police had already cleared him so, I took it upon myself to confront him and see if I couldn’t trip the man up, get a confession out of him.

Well, to put it plainly, that didn’t work well.  I found myself diving over my red Hyundai, gun in hand.  I carry a Heckler and Koch .45 longslide.  Don’t ask me why; I don’t really know much about guns. This one was a gift from a nut job who had need of my services.  Anyway, once the bullets started ricocheting off the car, I leapt out to the south and fired off three rounds.  The punk screamed out, “Shit, you got me!” and fell to the ground.  Upon checking the body, I saw that two rounds had hit him center of mass.   What’s more, his pockets were full.  I scoured the body hesitantly.  I hate death since my Awakening. I’ve learned enough in the world of magic to know that killing isn’t the wisest decision you could make.  Even people who deserve it… I know better than to take another’s life into my own hands.

Anyway, I looted the body, gathering up a nice little burner phone, $62, a lighter, and a knife.  The phone revealed a couple of text messages confirming that he was in fact the killer I had been seeking. That was a relief.  As I was preparing to perform some minor magic on the phone, I got that goosebump feeling.  The unseen sense alerted me to some kind of magic.  It’s never a good sign when there is sudden active magic around you.  I took a deep breath and tightened my core. As I breathed out, I allowed my essence to follow my breath, filling the area with my own aura.  I believe this particular sight is called “Supernal Vision” within the pentacle.  In the southeast corner, there was the flow of magic, an aura intentionally being flared.  I pointed my gun in that direction, even knowing that bullets were of little value in these situations.

 I checked around for any source of electricity and found one of those metal pipes that connected several outlets.  The corner was too dark to see but, the piping ran in that direction so, I decided to go for it. I channeled the current towards the dark, hoping there would be an outlet nearby and, lo and behold, there was.  I didn’t manage to startle or even shock the target but, he did in fact reveal himself to be a elderly gent. His most blatant feature, his bushy moustache, struck me as silly in its cartoonish, Yosemite Sam appearance. Of course, as anyone with the clearance to read this document knows, his moustache does nothing to detract from his soigné. Before the Old Man, I had never actually been approached by someone with such distinguished and refined tastes, not the least of which was his trademark cane.  That ornate golden design, which I now know to be a mark of the Guardians of the Veil, was only trumped in beauty by the precious bloodstone that topped the cane, shaped to a perfect sphere.

“Mr. Valiant, we are rather impressed with your work.  Your former mentor suggested you would be a great asset to our Order. As such, I have been asked to offer you a retainer.” I shivered as he stated my true last name, and my mentor.

“What for?”  I asked plainly, cautiously.
“A long term project…  I think you will find it very beneficial to say yes.”

Standard
flash fiction, Style, Under 500

Next time, just call 911 or something

I go to the local library and check out a few books. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d seen them. But on second glance, I realized the black shelf contained only a handful of old, leather-bound books. I picked one up and skipped in a few pages. I’d hardly ever seen this runic language in my lifetime.

Carrying the book, time seems to fly past. Yet upon arriving home, minutes become hours. Reading the material increases the velocity of my thoughts and my lucidity. Eventually, I reach the conclusion that the runes are not only extinct, but ciphered. Hours poured into the analysis of a single page. In the end, only one end can be reached. The book describes a gesture and an incantation. Performing the ritual, I open a window in space.

The experience blows me away. I watch businessmen sing karaoke in a Tokyo bar, then African tribes at war. Next, the window takes me to Europe, where a radical IRA cell plans an attack on a British-owned hospital. In that moment, the power at my disposal becomes apparent. I must stop anyone who would so callously take innocent lives in the masque of a political cause.

As I read further through the book, I learn of a way to reach through this window. With another spell, it becomes a door a door. The soldiers see me and immediately pointed their guns. The apparent fusion of two points in space disorients them as much as it does me. One thinks to throw a grenade. I close the door and open the window just in time to watch the grenade land in their house and explode.

I’ve never seen men lose limbs, burn in agony… their house must have been an explosives cache, as the thing practically disintegrated and not one man was left a complete body. I close the window before it is made clear if any survived. The image will haunt me forever. I know now the dangers of the power at my disposal, and why a wizard should never utilize his magic before trying a mundane solution to his problems.

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Excerpt, Exercise in, flash fiction, Style, technical skill

Mage: the Awakening

Is a table-top roleplaying game set in a modern fantasy. This game takes place in Ashville, NC. As an opportunity to practice writing, I will be chronicling my character’s exploits here in a weekly update. Here is his background info.

 


 

 

James (Code Name: CHASE) awakened during a covert strike mission targeting a Liberian Warlord. The warlord had an unknown informant within the CIA. The Warlord’s informant had detailed, first-hand knowledge of the assault and, as a result, the team never made it into the building. The wall they would have breached had been wired to several pounds extra of T4 explosive and all but James died. Of course, he would have, if the explosion hadn’t literally ripped him to shreds. At the moment of awakening, he was pulled from his mortal body and thrust into Pandemonium at the base of the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet. Upon climbing to the top, he saw all of the men and women he’d worked with for the secrets they’d kept from him. Most notably, he saw that the Warlord’s informant was his handler, Dominic. Dominic acted on orders from his superiors, whom James could not see. After returning to The Fallen World, he found Dominic, who was running the op, on the scene. Code Name: CHASE reported the event to his appointed psychiatrist who diagnosed him with PTSD. Transfered to Ashville, NC, CHASE thought he was here to retire but the GotV quickly recruited the Mastigos.

ST notes: CHASE currently resides in an extended-stay motel on the government’s pension (covers housing and food). He may have resided here and studied magic alone for a month or three. If anything details are missing, please ask!

 


For the nerdily inclined, here is the full sheet:

Shadowname: CHASE
Sleeper Name: James Alta
Concept: Recently Awakend Covert Operative
Virtue: Faith
Vice: Pride
Path: Mastigos
Order: Guardians of the Veil
Legacy: None

=================================================

ATTRIBUTES:
Mental
Intelligence: 4
Wits: 3
Resolve: 3

Physical
Strength: 1
Dexterity: 3
Stamina: 3

Social
Presence: 1
Manipulation: 3
Composure: 2

=================================================

SKILLS
Mental (-3 untrained)
Academics:
Computer: 1
Crafts: 2
Investigation: 3, CSI
Medicine: 2
Occult: 2
Politics: 2
Science:

Physical (-1 untrained)
Athletics:
Brawl:
Drive:
Firearms: 2
Larceny: 1
Stealth: 2, Hiding
Survival:
Weaponry:

Social (-1 untrained)
Animal Ken:
Empathy: 2
Expression: 1
Intimidation:
Persuasion: 2, Cutting a Deal
Socialize:
Streetwise: 2
Subterfuge: 2

=================================================

MERITS
High Speech 1
Status (Consilium) 1
Status (GotV) 1
Masque (Wounded Monk) 1

=================================================

ARCANA
Death:
Fate:
Forces:
Life:
Matter:
Mind: 2
Prime: 2
Space: 3
Spirit:
Time:

ROTES:
Remote Viewing, Intelligence + Investigation + Space, M:ta Core p235, Space 2

Forever Stranger, Wits + Subterfuge + Mind, M:ta Core p208, Mind 2

Rend the Weave, Composure + Occult + Prime, Prime 2

NIMBUS:
Vulgar only: 8 shadows as though he is a beacon of light. As casting progresses, shadows converge into one.

Covert Only: His shadow expands and contracts during casting. The motion is subtle enough not to be seen without scrutiny

OTHER TRAITS (FLAWS) :

EXPANDED MERITS
Masque – Wounded Monk
ST’s: I am unsure what character to assume under the guise of the masque… any suggestions?

=================================================

STATS
Defense: 2
Initiative: 5
Wisdom: 7
Size: 5
Speed: 9

Willpower: 5
Health: 7
Taint:

Gnosis: 2
Mana/Mana per turn:
7/2

EQUIPMENT

Spoiler
* denotes carried
** denotes black bag/mission gear

Weapons:
Glock 27 Machine Pistol, two 30 round magazines (60 total)*
Pocket knife*
.45 Glock + 2 spare magazines (21 rounds total)**
Bolt-action sniper rifle + 10 rounds**

Utility:
Zippo*
Mirrored Aviators (Dedicated Order Tool)*
Masque (TBD)*
lockpick set (+1 to relevant rolls)*
Field Medicine Kit including sutures**
Black Ops attire: Tactical harness, Night Vision Goggles, black on black cargo pants and shirt, combat boots (+1 stealth)**

Misc:
Pentacle (Reminder of faith in the system/patriotism to the order)*
Library Card (+1 Research)*
$1500 emergency fund
Surveillance gear: 2 parabolic mics, 1 laser mic
7 casual outfits (+1 blending into a crowd)
3 high-end suits + accessories (+1 persuasion)

BACKGROUND

Spoiler
James (Code Name: CHASE) awakened during a covert strike mission targeting a Liberian Warlord. The warlord had an unknown informant within the CIA. The Warlord’s informant had detailed, first-hand knowledge of the assault and, as a result, the team never made it into the building. The wall they would have breached had been wired to several pounds extra of T4 explosive and all but James died. Of course, he would have, if the explosion hadn’t literally ripped him to shreds. At the moment of awakening, he was pulled from his mortal body and thrust into Pandemonium at the base of the Watchtower of the Iron Gauntlet. Upon climbing to the top, he saw all of the men and women he’d worked with for the secrets they’d kept from him. Most notably, he saw that the Warlord’s informant was his handler, Dominic. Dominic acted on orders from his superiors, whom James could not see. After returning to The Fallen World, he found Dominic, who was running the op, on the scene. Code Name: CHASE reported the event to his appointed psychiatrist who diagnosed him with PTSD. Transfered to Ashville, NC, CHASE thought he was here to retire but the GotV quickly recruited the Mastigos.

ST notes: CHASE currently resides in an extended-stay motel on the government’s pension (covers housing and food). He may have resided here and studied magic alone for a month or three. If anything details are missing, please ask!

 

 

Standard
flash fiction, Over 500, Style

Neighbours

He steps outside to get fresh air. The sliding glass door squawks shut behind him and he comes to rest on the balcony’s ledge. Even from the third floor, the woodlands extend beyond sight. Deep inhalation. Long, controlled exhalation. All tension melts away. The past is left in the past and this point is a new beginning.

Around the east wall, he hears the sliding door of a connecting unit. An old man grunts with each shriveled step towards his own ledge. A creaky wooden chair rocks rhythmically to and fro, enchanting the man, pulling him into its cadence. His head bobs along.

The old man rasps, “Hi there, neighbor.”

Great, he thinks.  So much for alone time.

“Care for a smoke?” A decrepit hand with more liver spots than fingers peeps around the barrier between the two. In it, a soft pack of cigarettes; one sticks out of the opening. He snatches it quickly.

As he snaps the flame of his lighter into existence, his head dips into it. The crisp, dry burn of the tobacco fits this clear, cool eve, as the withered leaves of autumn float delicately down to the ground around them.

The neighbor flicks his own lighter and takes a long pull of the cigarette. He sighs on the breath out, followed by a grating hack to clear his throat. He sobs a little as he smokes. Eventually, he speaks

“Hey, neighbor?”

The man shakes his head, I know I’m going to regret this.  “Hey, neighbor. What’s going on over there?”

“Neighbor… have you ever thought about dying?”

Concern steps into the man’s mind. “Sometimes, neighbor. Everyone does. Are you doing alright?”

“I don’t know, man. I-I took some pills. Like a bottle or two I think.”

“Are you serious right now? Did you do this on purpose?”

“I said I don’t know. Yes, maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. I think I’m dying, neighbor.”

“Do you have a phone? Should I call 9-1-1?”

“No. No cops…”

The old man trails from speaking to sobbing, then mutes himself. His younger neighbor waits for a moment. Trying to peer around the wall proves vain, so he calls out again.

“Neighbor? Are you still with me, buddy?”

The drugged man mutters something incomprehensible.  The young man drags his cigarette and punches the air. Shit! He cries out in his mind. This is really the last thing I need right now. Once more, time lapses with no comment from the elderly man.

This is ridiculous. This guy isn’t my problem. He said no cops. But… I can’t just let him…

The old man sputter.  Damnit. If he honestly took that many pills, he may have ulcerated his stomach. He could choke on his own blood.

“Hey neighbor,” The man tosses his gifted cigarette into the woods. “Are you alive right now?”

“Uh huh.” The poor sap barely manages the sound. What could have trawled him down this path? He must know the pain of several lifetimes.

“Neighbor, I can’t do this. I’m going inside now; and I’m not coming out until morning.” He regrets his decision. Is it cowardice to not hold the life of another in your hands? Should he not be allowed to absolve himself of this responsibility?

“Uh-huh.”

He walks to the sliding glass door, opening the door causes a lesser squeak than closing it. He stops before stepping inside. “Neighbor, if you want me to call you an ambulance, this is your last chance. Give me one more of those ‘uh-huhs’ and I’ll call it in.”

No response. One… Two… Three… Four… Five… Six… Seven… Eight… Nine… Ten…

“Neighbor,” he calls to the half-dead man, “If you want to live, you’re going to call 9-1-1 yourself. Good night.”

The sliding glass door slams shut; the lock snaps into place. On the other side of the wall, an old man struggles to crawl to his door, praying he reach the phone before his body fails. The gent doesn’t want to die in agony; he simply wishes to die.

 

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