This next photo would have been a good match for the last story in my retrospective . . . except this is an abandoned sugar processing plant, and not an old barn. Oh well.
I don’t have an appropriate photo for today’s flashback . . . get it? Flashback. I’m looking back at some of my old flash fiction . . . no? Never mind; it’s not important.
These are a bit longer than other flash works, and the three of them form a complete story. Now, I know full well that if I just link them here, only one, maybe two people will bother clicking on the links.
Therefore, I will incorporate them below, and even include the photos that came with them. Perhaps then three, maybe four people will read them.
Here’s the first one.
Awakening . . .
By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright June 2013
The gun within reach, Ed opened the door. He had checked the security monitor, and so was not surprised to look down at the pre-teen girl standing on his porch. What did surprise him was the tomahawk hanging from her belt. It looked hefty, but she did not seem bothered by its obvious weight.
“May I help you?” he asked, even as he scanned the surroundings. Anyone else out there would have triggered the infrared sensors, or the motion sensors, but old habits were hard to break.
“Is Evelyn home?” The girl’s voice sounded more mature than her stature and appearance would indicate.
Ed focused on her. Not many people around these parts knew his girlfriend’s name. They had moved here a few years back, and had kept to themselves. Especially so, considering the two previous attempts on Evelyn’s life.
Ed looked at the tomahawk, and stole a side glance to his gun.
“You would not make it.” The girl’s voice was matter-of-fact, and she seemed relaxed, but Ed knew, as people know these things, she spoke the truth.
They stood there for a full half minute before Evelyn came up beside him.
“Who’s at the door?” she asked.
The girl bowed her head as she dropped to her knees. “My Queen, I offer my services.”
Ed looked at Evelyn, and when he looked back, the girl was once more standing upright, but this time a little straighter, almost in a formal pose.
“. . . uh . . . what . . . I mean, who . . . “ Ed was not sure which of the dozen questions swirling in his mind he should ask.
“Please, we should get inside. I don’t think I was followed, but you are near awakening, and The Bidden are searching for you.” The girl motioned inside the home as she spoke.
A beep. Then another. And another. And more still. The motion sensors were going off all around the house. Ed had already grabbed his gun when the first creature crashed through the kitchen window.
It had barely landed when the tomahawk embedded itself in its head. Ed registered it must have been thrown with some force, as it nearly split the creature’s skull in half.
He turned back to the girl, then moved to be near Evelyn. The girl stopped him with one hand, and it felt like he was pressing against solid rock. She held out her other hand and, with a juicy noise, the tomahawk returned to her. She grabbed it out of mid-air, and without stopping, jumped over Evelyn, landing between two more creatures. In a motion too fast to follow, she sliced them both in two.
“Quick,” she said, “to your shower!”
Ed stood motionless, trying to process what was happening.
“NOW!” the girl’s voice moved them to action, and they sprinted down the hallway, the girl bringing up the rear.
They burst into the main bathroom, and the girl unceremoniously yanked the shower’s glass door off the hinges, and shoved them both in the shower as she turned on the water.
The cold water was a jolt, and they tried to avoid the jet, but the girl held them fast.
“Whatever you do, whatever you see, if you want to live do not step outside the stream. FOR ANY REASON!”
With that she turned to dispatch another creature, and then two more, and then half the wall was ripped away by a grotesque upright figure.
“Great,” said the girl, “a Solid-i.” Even as she spoke, the figure reached out and grabbed the girl, dragging her from the bathroom. “DO NOT LEAVE THE STREAM!” Her voice died down even as they heard the sound of her tomahawk striking what must have been dense flesh.
Shivering, standing in the warming stream of water, Ed and Evelyn watched a number of creatures file into the room, silent, but focused on the pair in the shower. Ed remembered his gun, and shot at one. It did not even flinch, and wherever the bullet had struck, it had no visible effect. They stood, letting the water run over them as a few more creatures jammed in the confined area. The pressure from the creatures pushing from behind caused one at the front to lose its balance, and lurch forward. It stepped on a small puddle that was forming outside the shower, and immediately howled in obvious pain.
Ed was about to splash the rest when he stopped in shock. Evelyn was changing in front of his eyes. Her hair lengthened as he watched, and changed in color to a deep black. She grew a few inches, and her frail figure filled out to something a fit athlete would envy. Her eyes closed, she took a deep breath, and when she opened them, they were as black as her hair.
“Stay here.” Her voice had changed as well, sporting a deep, musical timbre.
As she spoke, she lifted her hands, and her nails were now at least six inches long, and glowing.
Ed would have made to stop her as she stepped out of the shower, but his brain was trying to process it all, and keeping him frozen as he stared at the love of his life. Her normally gentle face was now a mask of fury. Beautiful, terrible, fury.
The front line of beasts tried to back up, but the wall of creatures behind them impeded their retreat. Evelyn, his Evelyn, tore into them. Silent, swift, and almost a blur . . . the wall of creatures broke, but not before twenty or so laid atop each other, practically cut to shreds.
Ed recovered from his stupor, and stepped out to follow her as she chased them into the hall. Instantly, two creatures crashed through the small window to his right, and were upon him, teeth and nails flashing and tearing at him. The last thing he remembered was hearing a furious scream that sounded part war cry, and part anguish.
Ed woke to an eerie quiet. No; he heard the soft murmur of voices. He tried raising from the bed he was laying on, but the pain awoke to assault him on multiple fronts. He grunted as he laid back down.
Evelyn and the girl were suddenly at his side. They carefully stripped some of the soaked towels wrapped around him, and replaced them with fresh ones. Neither spoke.
It took a few minutes for the pain to subside, and for his brain to clear.
“What the hell is going on.” He meant to put more emphasis to his question, but he lacked the strength.
Evelyn was about to answer when suddenly both she and the girl turned. A tall, muscular man entered the bedroom. Not quite looking like a man, but definitively humanoid, he was wrapped in a loose cape, and black metal was visible underneath when he moved. He stopped in front of the girl and Evelyn. Two more figures entered, short weapons-like implements held in each of their hands, and they went to stand on either side of Evelyn and the girl. One last figure entered, and made his . . . no, her way to Ed. She stooped down, and carefully lifted and removed each of the towels.
She then opened a small container she was carrying, and sprinkled the content on Ed. Immediately numb, Ed watched as his skin was literally being rebuilt, the deep wounds healing, the cuts closing. He almost missed the conversation between Evelyn and the man.
“. . . told me you would handle this personally, that no harm would come to him. He nearly died.”
“I take the blame for it.” The girl had spoken, stepping in front of Evelyn.
Evelyn gently moved her out of the way. “No, Lynd; the responsibility was mine. The consequence is mine to bear.”
The man flicked the cape over one shoulder, and drew a slightly curved knife. Upon clearing the sheath, its cutting edge glowed green. Evelyn offered her throat.
“NO!” Ed had never moved so fast in his life, nor with such power. He was not sure how, but he ended up standing in front of Evelyn and the girl, his back to them. The man who had drawn the knife was embedded halfway into the drywall, and the other two were doubled up on the ground.
The remaining figure nodded. “Nearly awake, now.”
(not) The End
The original was presented HERE, and I explained this came out of left field, and that I had no plans to add to it.
But add to it I did . . . here’s the photo from the second part of the three part story.
And here’s the second part . . .
Awakening . . . (Part 2)
By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright August 2013
Ed awoke in a daze, and he did not recognize his surroundings. He vaguely remembered collapsing after his burst of action, but not much else.
He was in a strange room, with two guards standing by the door, and Lynd sitting on the floor, her back to the wall. Her eyes were closed, and remained so as she spoke.
“Are you back with us?”
“Where am I?” Ed stood, and floated halfway to the ceiling.
Lynd was faster than the guards, grabbing his foot, and stopping his spin before he hit the ceiling.
“We’re on the moon,” Lynd answered, lowering him to where he could grab the cot he had just left, “be careful how you move.”
“The moon? You mean our moon?” Ed slowly sat, his hands keeping a grip on the edge of the cot.
“Earth’s moon; not your moon.” Lynd sat back down as she answered.
“What does . . . “ Ed did not finish. The door opened, and the female, or whatever it was, that had tended his wounds walked in, along with two more guards.
“Good, you’re awake.” Then she smiled. “Well, not awake awake, but getting there.”
“Where’s Evilyn?” Ed slowly stood, keeping a foot hooked to the leg of the cot. It was anchored to the floor, thus allowing him to stand and face the female.
“She is in the holding cell. You interceded in her behalf, but she must still face the consequences of her failure . . . once you are yourself again.” The female came to stand in front of Ed, and unceremoniously lifted his shirt, poking places Ed remembered sporting open wounds. There was no indication of any scar, or damage to the skin.
“I am Kamo,” the female stepped back, giving a curt bow as she spoke.
“I’m Ed, and what failure are you referring to?” Then he looked around, taking a moment to register and process everything he had just heard, and what he could remember.
“Who are you people, and what do you want with us?” The pitch of his voice rose a bit, and he tried to control his mounting anger. His life had been thrown into chaos, and he was quickly losing patience with these beings.
“You are not ‘Ed'; you are Ledonair Aredin Venlor, chosen Lord of the Fifty Fifth Alliance. We call you Ledo, for short.” As she spoke, Kamo gave another curt bow, as did the four guards.
It was all a blur after that. Lynd was also moved to the holding cell, and Ed was fitted with clothing similar to Kamo’s and the guards, but with additional decorations. He now wore shoes which adhered to the floor, but did not stick to it when he walked.
He has listened to Kamo as she brought him up to speed.
Apparently, the Fifty Fifth Alliance was not yet official, and until such time as it was formerly recognized by the various Systems, he was fair game. Any of the races unhappy with the alliance could try to eliminate him before the Alliance was ratified. Once ratified, his position would be secure, as any action against him would result in immediate and grave consequences for the responsible System.
That did not mean they would stop trying; only that they would not be as open about it.
Meanwhile, the FARs, the muscular caped guards, were charged with his protection. They had helped hide him in a remote and little known world; Earth. The FAR, as far as he could tell, were the equivalent of the U. S. Secret Service. The acronym stood for something he could not remember, but the description of what they did matched the mission of the Secret Service.
All that was something he could wrap his head around. The part he was having trouble with, was his identity. The other part was his speech; he found himself switching to languages he did not know, but his brain obviously remembered. Just saying a word usually brought back memory of both its meaning and origins.
Annoying at first, he soon found speaking a language composed of words from multiple other languages held the advantage of word choices that, because of their native meanings, were better at conveying ideas, intent, and feelings.
Those around him adjusted as well, as they were already versed in this aggregate language.
He learned that memory of who he was had been suppressed while in hiding on Earth. The Awakening was bringing some of the memories back, but the total so far eluded his consciousness.
The was also having trouble adjusting to the changes to his body. He’d always kept somewhat fit, but in the span of two days his body had hardened, his physical appearance that of a sculpted athlete; a taller and heavier athlete. It messed with his balance and sense of his physical boundary; he bumped into things, and was prone to stumbling.
All of the races in The Alliance were the byproduct of the marriage of genetic modifications and technology. Everything he had witnessed and attributed to magic was, in fact, very advanced technology, including the beasts who attacked him in his home. The Fluoride in the water was what had kept them at bay, and he had a passing thought the conspiracy theorists would have a field day with this.
His own body was being returned to its normal augmented state, and to help it along he sparred with a few of the FAR. He was faster and stronger than they. This was a surprise to Ed; the FAR were part flesh, and part machines. He learned his body was being modified at the molecular level, and aggregate traits from various races were being woven into his DNA. He never felt better in his life, or at least the life he could remember, and as he trained, he began to regain his muscle memory.
Eventually he settled on two young members of the FAR as his permanent sparring partners. They were not high ranking, but they were among the most skilled. That they were brother and sister further appealed to Ed. Loretu and Morean came from a long line of FARs, and the closeness of the training helped form a bond between the three.
Then he started to remember in earnest. Ledo was not a nice guy. Well, he wasn’t technically a human; regardless, whatever he was, he was not nice. In fact, few people around him were nice. All belonged to one ruling class or another, and all were nasty pieces of work, and Ledo was their leader by consensus . . . or fear.
It was Ledo who had come up with the plan to hide himself among the humans, and had personally contracted with Evelyn and her people for the local protection detail. In part, it was to minimize the risk of one of his followers suddenly having a change of heart. To ensure the best effort from Evelyn and Lynd, he held their sisters as hostages.
While Lynd was her given name, Evelyn’s real name was Ereynd. Specifically, Queen Ereynd. A race composed of mostly warriors, and mostly female, they lived on Evanor, were not technically part of The Alliance, but were under its rule. Ledo had used his influence, and the capture of the Queen’s sister, to enlist her services. Lynd had been a bonus, as she was fiercely loyal to her Queen.
Once he remembered enough, he gave the order, and preparations were made to depart the Moon. The thirty-seven hours journey made use of the “tunnels” in between time and space; tunnels one could use as shortcuts to any of the known universes.
As he continued to remember, Ledo’s tone of voice changed to match his impatience with his underlings, and few traces of Ed remained in the being who would soon rule the known universes.
(not) The End
I don’t know . . . as I re-read this, it seems kind of weak; not something Hemingway would have written. Anyway, the original posting (I have no idea why anyone would go there) is HERE.
Regardless, I’m committed now . . . here’s the final installment, complete with the photo that accompanied it.
Awakening . . . (Part 3)
By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright August 2013
They arrived on Garent in the middle of the day, and Ledo took in the light from the double sun, the smell of damp air, and the increased gravity . . . and he smiled; Garent was the seat of the Fifty-Fifth Alliance.
It was a busy time. Training, getting updates on the state of The Alliance, getting reports on new and old enemies, on potential friends, and on the mood of his future empire. On the third week on Garent, he went to visit Lynd at the detention center.
“Lynd,” Ledo smiled as he spoke, “you’re not looking too well.”
The girl rose with some effort, did a small bow, and answered with a curt “My Lord.”
“I remember both you and your queen arrogantly stating no one would get near me while under your protection.” Ledo did not give the girl permission to sit back down, and with some effort she continued standing as he paced the cell.
“I nearly died.” Ledo stopped in front of her, and stared down at the small figure. He knew her to be a fierce fighter, but not now, not in her present state.
“Guard!” He turned as one of the FARs appeared to his side. Ledo pointed to the girl. “See that she is fed, and restored to good health. I want her in peak form for what I have in mind.”
With that, he turned and headed to the other cell.
Ereynd was already standing when he entered the cell. The FARs wanted to put themselves between Ledo and the long-haired, black-eyed Evanor Queen, but Ledo waved them off. What had been a fit physique was showing the strain of incarceration, but he knew she was still a capable fighter. Perhaps no match for his current state of training and physical fitness, but not someone to be underestimated.
And he also knew she cared for what he once had been. She would not move to strike him.
Besides, the consequences to her planet would be dire.
~ ~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~ ~
Ereynd watched Ledo using her peripheral vision, avoiding direct eye contact. It ached to see him so. Taller, stronger, fitter . . . not her Ed. He began to speak, and walking a circle with her at the center. She did not move.
“Queen Ereynd . . . You showed a weakness I would not have imagined of you.” He walked around the silent figure, and stood directly behind her. She could sense his presence, his physical strength, but she did not move, nor did she reply.
“You had real feelings for Ed; you let yourself feel for a weak, ignorant, and limited male.” Ledo resumed his circle, and came to stop in front of her. “It nearly got me killed.”
Ledo let the words hang, but Ereynd did not respond. The words hurt to a depth she did not want to admit, and it was all she could do to keep her eyes fixed at a point on his chest, and not look up to meet his own. She was afraid of what she would see if she did. No, not afraid; she knew, and did not want to see it. She wanted to keep her memories intact.
“I have devised an entertaining and fitting punishment . . . I want you to get fit, and regain your strength; you will need it. Do not think of rebelling; you know who I hold.” He waited a few moments for a response, then smiled, turned, and walked out of the cell.
Ereynd let her breath out slowly once the cell door locked shut. For a brief moment, her shoulders sagged, grief welling up. Then she thought of her sister. Of Lynd’s sister. She straightened as the cell door was once more unlocked.
A young FAR entered, carrying a much better meal than had been offered for the past month.
He set the meal on the small table, then came to stand in front of her. His eyes she did meet, and saw no malice in them.
“My name is Loretu. My Lord commands me to help you regain your fighting form. You should know, we will not fight to the death, but we will fight hard. We commence in three days.” He turned, heading for the door, but stopped before exiting.
“Lynd will be training with my sister Morean. In two weeks, we’ll switch places so as to vary the training.”
The young man hesitated, then slightly bowed. “Queen Ereynd; your sister is fine, as is Lynd’s sister. You should get some rest.”
Ereynd contemplated the door that has closed behind the young man. She forced herself to remember not all subjects of The Alliance were evil . . . just the one she loved.
Training began as promised, and while a bit rusty, plenty of food and rest helped her regain strength and speed. She threw herself into her training as a way to bury the hurt.
In the second week, Loretu missed a day. When he came back, he was healing from a wound. She did not ask, but he volunteered the answer to her unspoken question.
“An attack on Ledo. We stopped it.” He looked at her. Ereynd did not think she betrayed any emotions, but after a few moments, Loretu continued. “Ledo is fine.”
Her emotions were mixed. Ereynd knew Ledo was not Ed, but the silly hope borne out of love had a part of her care for the physical remnants of what was no more.
Another week passed, and then she met Morean. Morean was a lot like her brother. Dedicated to her task, but with an underlying . . . humanity was a good word. Ereynd had learned the meaning of that word while on Earth, and she liked its foundation.
Morean told her Lynd was nearly recovered. Due to her lower station, she had fared worse than Ereynd, and consequently required more care. Ereynd doubted that very much; Lynd liked having her adversaries underestimate her, hence her purposefully smaller stature and young appearance. Her augmentations had not been cheap, but Lynd’s family had indulged her; if their only offspring was going to be a warrior, she would be the best warrior their money could buy.
During this final week of training, she learned of another attempt on Ledo’s life. This time he was alone, and he dispatched all three assassins without suffering any injury. Ereynd guessed he was at his peak, with all enhancements fully deployed.
Three days later, Morean came to her, and asked her to prepare. She would be brought to see Ledo. Ereynd hated her involuntary elation at the news; quickly suppressed, but a reminder she still had feelings. On an intellectual level she knew it was hopeless and silly. Never having experienced love before, she knew she was subject to a heightened intensity, and equated her involuntary reaction to that of a silly schoolgirl. And yet not . . . the hurt saw to that.
Loretu and Lynd were waiting for them in the hall. It was the first time she had seen Lynd since Earth; they exchanged an imperceptible nod. With Loretu and Morean at their sides, they walked the length of the hallway, heading toward two massive doors.
Two FARs swung them open as they approached, and she and Lynd walked into a small arena, the doors closing behind them.
They walked toward a raised platform. Ledo sat at the back center of it, and off to his side sat the Eleven Lords of The Alliance. On the side of each Lord, standing slightly behind them, were their personal bodyguards. To Ereynd, they looked soft.
“Welcome to the judgment.” Ledo’s words brought a murmur of approval from the assembled audience.
Ereynd had argued against The Alliance, and no doubt part of the reason the Lords were assembled here, was to witness her fate. It was a good diversion from last minutes meetings before agreements were formalized, and the ruling body for the next one hundred years came into power.
Ledo continued. “You might wonder what I have planned for you.” He pressed a button on his chair, and two guards emerged from a side door. Between them stood her and Lynd’s sister.
Both she and Lynd made a move toward the girls, but Loretu and Morean had drawn their short swords, and stepped just forward of them, facing them.
“You would never reach them in time.” Ledo motioned, and Loretu and Morean backed away, then turned, heading to the girls. They took the place of the two guards who had brought them in. The guards backed away, closing the doors as they left the arena.
Ereynd eyes finally took in the details of the arena. Other than Loretu and Morean, no FARs were present. The twenty two bodyguards made up for that.
“This is how it will be. Queen Ereynd,” he bowed slightly to her, and did likewise toward Lynd before continuing, “Lynd; you two will fight to the death. The loser’s sister,” Ledo pointed to the girls at the side of the podium as he spoke, “will be killed. The winner will also be killed, but her sister will be spared.”
He paused. If he was waiting for a reaction from them, he would be disappointed; neither she or Lynd showed any reaction. She was not going to provide him the satisfaction.
“I want to see a good fight; anything less, and I give the order to kill the girls.” With that, he rose, grabbing Lynd’s tomahawk and short sword from the side of his chair as he did so.
Ereynd did not need weapons. She was a weapon.
Deliberately, he walked toward the pair.
Ereynd calculated the odds, worked out scenarios, contemplated possible actions.
No good; the bastard had it pretty well worked out. She had no illusion about the survivor’s sister living through this.
So be it; whatever portion remained of her love was now barricaded behind a cold curtain of hate. The last act of her life would be to take Ledo with her. She could sense Lynd’s tension, and knew they had reached the same conclusion.
She watched Ledo approach, calculating the moment she should make her move.
Ledo stopped within arm’s length of the two. He looked at the pair, and if he noticed the barely restrained tension in them, he gave no notice of it. He also ignored the glow beginning to form at the edges of Ereynd’s nails.
His face relaxed. And then he winked. He probably did not know it, or maybe he did, but that saved his life as both she and Lynd held their attack.
He spoke to them in a soft tone, inaudible to the group on the platform.
“Evelyn, Lynd; wait until I am back at my seat, and then charge into the group. I’ll hit them from the side. Your sisters are armed, and my bodyguards are there to help them. We have the element of surprise, but there are a lot of them, and we can’t afford to let any of them live.”
To their credit, Evelyn’s and Lynd’s reactions were confined to their eyes. They stared at him for a moment, then both blinked in unison.
~ ~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~ ~
Ed threw the tomahawk and sword at Lynd’s feet, and headed back up the platform. He did not hear Lynd move, but heard the weapons clang as she picked them up. He heard the sharp intake of breath from one of the Lords, and guessed Evelyn, his Evelyn, was transforming into her fighting form.
He too had learned about humanity, first hand. He had learned the beauty of it, and the determination of it when someone threatened the welfare of those one loved. A new order was about to come to power, but not the one dreamed of by these Lords.
He sat, hand on his weapon, looking relaxed. Lynd’s tomahawk was a blur as it sailed from her, striking the Lord farthest from him. Lynd and Evelyn were not far behind it, tearing into the far end of the group. That left his side unguarded as everyone’s attention was drawn away from him. Morean, Loretu, and the two girls had little to do as Ed, Evelyn, and Lynd finished the last traces of The Alliance.
The End (for now)
Rather long for flash fiction, don’t you think? I think so. The third installment was first presented HERE.
As usual, these were presented as written, with minimal editing.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.