Fallout: Luck

The knife flies past before her body can even muster a flinch. The figure is faceless no more; splattered green blood illuminates the deformed features of an Olifat. Mischievous imitators.

“Lucky.” A recognisably cocky voice reaches out from the casino’s shadows behind her.

She watches as a tall man with long, blackened hair strides confidently into the vault.

“Pass me that, would you.”

She reaches down and rips the knife from the Olifat’s neck.

“How the hell did you…” Her eyes tighten, puzzlement etches across her face.

He slides the knife away and throws her a knowing glare. “Mum…and she’s pissed.”

Joey

A slight change of pace this week. Let me know what you think.

Joey

Max bounds out of the back door with unrestrained excitement. The drizzly afternoon air hits him hard, cooling his red-hot face. He loved this time of day. He takes a second to check over his shoulder, making sure Mum wasn’t watching. She’ll soon realise another three spoons and her best ladle were missing from the kitchen. Then there’ll be trouble.

Carefully navigating the garden path, he makes sure not to rattle the cutlery too loudly. The soft rain, wetting the ground below him, makes the task slightly more difficult than he would like. With the path successfully navigated, he glides under the untamed branches of his grandfather’s tree – in the way only the smallest eight year old boy at school could – soon disappearing from the house’s gaze. Being “Max the Midget” did have occasional perks.

He reaches Dave’s shed and carefully squeezes through the gap behind it. Max’s dad had never owned a shed, but Dave kept a huge one. Every type of garden appliance imaginable sat inside that shed. But it was always locked. On the one occasion he decided to peer inside, he was shouted at and slapped and grounded for a week. Not that anyone noticed. He didn’t try any more.

The shed did have other uses, though. It currently hid a small hole in the garden fence, allowing a secret entrance into the dense woodland beyond. Max slipped through this hole, sat in his favourite spot, and waited.

Nothing but gentle rain and excited breath.

“Joey?” he whispers.

Silence.

“Jo-”

His patience is rewarded.

A small creature, no higher than two feet from the ground, comes scurrying out from amongst the foliage. As it moves out into the open its green and brown skin slowly gives way to a soft blue. Max smiles.

“There you are! Thought you’d gone!”

Joey shakes his head. His two tiny eyes soon find the three spoons and Mum’s best ladle.

Max extends the hand holding them. “As promised.”

He drops the cutlery into the grasp of Joey’s two little arms. Three tiny, blue fingers on each hand curl around the shiny presents.

“Is this enough?” Max asks.

Joey nods.

“That’s what best friends are for,” he beams.

The bond of best friendship had been sealed several days earlier. Discovering Joey could neither speak nor spit, a slightly amended version of the best friend ritual was carried out. A complicated sequence of nods, smiles, spits and dirt rubbing was performed. It was unorthodox, but both parties were happy.

Every afternoon since, Max had brought Joey as much metal as he could find for his spaceship. Max had stopped trying to build spaceships years ago, when he realised they were probably not real. But he saw cars and planes every day and hoped to own at least one of each when he was older. He didn’t have the heart to tell Joey this. That’s not what best friends did.

“Now what?” he asks.

Joey turns and walks back into the denser woodland. He pauses, glances back, and gestures with his head for Max to follow. Several bushes and oak trees later, they happen upon the shiniest looking spaceship Max has ever seen. Joey instantly begins applying the new pieces of equipment to the craft, which is no larger than the TV in Max’s living room.

“Wow! Joey, this is amazing!”

Joey glances up, the slightest hint of smile stretching across his tiny mouth. He might not be able to speak, but he understands well enough.

“Will it fly?” Max asks.

Joey nods.

“Where will you go?”

Joey forces the last spoon into place but does not gesture a reply.

“Joey, where are you going to fly to?”

His head sinks slightly as he points up between the trees. Max looks in the direction indicated by the small, blue finger, where, just visible through leaves and branches, is his house.

“Really?!” he shouts excitedly, an unfamiliar feeling racing through his body. “This is amazing! We’ll have to hide you from Dave, of course. But mum should be OK after a while, as long as she gets her frying pans back. Sleepovers! We can have them every night! I’ve got-” Joey tugs at his leg.

“What is it, Joey?”

He shakes his head.

“What do you mean?”

Joey points back at the house, head still shaking.

“My house?”

Joey extends his middle finger, points it to the sky, his little head rotating left to right.

“Your house?”

Up and down, up and down.

Max pauses his line of questioning, slumping to the soggy dirt instead. Joey bounces over and softly clutches his right leg.

Max lifts his head. “You’re going home now, aren’t you?”

Joey nods.

Max begins to sob. Each new tear carrying a portion of the joy he was only moments ago enjoying.

“W-Will…you…be…b-b-back?”

Joey shakes his head, slowly.

“Please…don’t go,” Max whispers, tears breaching his eye’s best defences, “you’re my best friend.”

Joey stretches out an arm and places a cold hand on Max’s chest. A gentle warmness spreads throughout Max’s body, setting every one of his hairs on end. Joey then steps back and smiles. No words are spoken, but Max hears them as clearly as he used to his father’s.

And now, I always will be.

Joey turns and disappears inside the craft. Seconds later, it rises silently from the ground. It continues to climb, high up into the afternoon sky and beyond.

Goodbye, Max. You’ll never be alone again.

Max wipes a final tear from his face. “Bye bye, Joey.”

Fallout: Flight

A second entry into my “Fallout” universe (if it can be called as such after only two entries!). Again, this was originally entered into Lily Childs’ Friday Prediction.

I feel like playing with the 100 word stories a bit while I explore this world. I hope that’s ok? I think it will help me decide what I like/dislike, what works/does not work etc, before I expand into larger stories. As a “newbie”, I don’t want to rush in and bore/disappoint you all.

Anyway, have at it..

Fallout: Flight

She takes only a drop. Conserving the contents of the vial is critical. She allows herself a moment to rest, wary that the war-weary forest now offers little protection.

For a moment, silence. Nothing but gentle breeze and soft breath. Like the old days.

“Get it!”

To her right, a small hare bolts through ash, kicking up a dusty reminder of the Final Day. Its unknowingly helpful distraction buys her a few valuable seconds.

They hunt, they kill, they crucify. The Bishop’s warnings return to her consciousness.

She forces a deep breath.

They can’t be allowed to find me.

So This Guy Gave Me This Thing

Liebster

On Thursday of last week, I was very kindly awarded a Liebster Blog Award.

The man I have to thank for this is John Wiswell.

John is a very talented writer whose work I read several times a week minimum. How this guy is not a full-time, wildly successful author yet I do not know. But I am convinced he will be soon.

Baring this in mind, to receive this award from him really is an honour. I mean that. So, thanks, John – I’m really happy you enjoy visiting this blog and reading some of my stuff.

I feel I should also quickly mention the very lovely Emma Meade. She awarded me a ‘Liebster’ a few months back, but not really knowing what it was or what it meant, I did nothing more with it. Now I know better! So, although it’s a little late – thanks, Emma!

The award itself is described as follows:

The Liebster Blog Award originated in Germany
(Liebster means “favourite” or “dearest” in German)
In accepting this award, the recipient agrees to:
1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people in the blogosphere.
5. And, lastly – have fun and spread the karma!

When deciding who to pass the award on to, I simply took into account who I really enjoy reading. Therefore, may I recommend:

1. Anne Michaud – Recently discovered and the writer of two fantastic pieces of short fiction, “Bullet for Bullet” and “Blood for Blood”. I will be reading much more. Nice lady, too!

2. Tony Noland – I am yet to read something of Tony’s I did not love. If you’re yet to read anything of his, you must redeem yourselves immediately. Frankly, he may be considered too “popular” to be eligible for this award, but I’m going to pass it on anyway!

3. John Xero – The man who introduced me to the fun of 101 word stories and a writer of great short fiction.

4. Peter Newman – The writer of the wonderful serial “The Vagrant”.

5. Cindy Vaskova – My lovely Bulgarian friend who writes some very wacky stories in our very own English.

Finally, John stipulated that upon acceptance of the award he would like the recipiants to post a picture of themselves with the “sharpest thing in your house”. I kind of cheated, as this was actually taken in our workshop (at the end of a particularly long work day – hence the attire!). But, since the workshop is connected to the house, I think he’ll let it slide!

Me!

Au revoir, and thanks for reading!

Fallout

The following story was originally written for Lily Childs’ Friday Prediction. I’m very happy to say that, somehow or another, it won. Yay!

Anyway, here it is:

Fallout

The nameless woman sweeps her way across the floor. Charred echoes of the old world litter her path. Chips, dice, cards: all are trampled or brushed aside. She moves quickly, a silent shadow amongst the ash. The penalty for being caught does not bear thinking about.

Slipping through the pre-war machines, she soon reaches her destination. A faceless figure crouches upon his workstation.

“They can never be allowed to find me.” Her words echo around the steel vault.

“Aye. But ’tis a shame to mangle…such a vision.”

An overburdened coin purse lands at his feet.

“Let’s begin.”

Tales From the Split Worlds: Missing – Emma Newman

Hey guys. I’m delighted to be able to present to you a short story from a very talented (and lovely) author by the name of Emma Newman. Emma’s previous work can be found here and here. Emma herself can be found here.

Anyway, to the story. Hope you enjoy (clue: you will*). Over to you, Em…

This is the fifteenth tale in a year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds. If you would like me to read it to you instead, you can listen here. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here.

Missing

Sue watched the photo of her husband appearing again and again in the printer tray as she waited to be connected. The room stank of toner and her head ached.

“Mrs Walker? Sorry to keep you waiting. How are you bearing up?”

The police officer’s voice was softer than her husband’s. “Is there any news?” She was bored of describing how she felt.

“None I’m afraid. We’ve sent your husband’s details to all the relevant departments, and I understand you’ve contacted the local press.”

“I didn’t know what else to do. I’m printing posters. I’m going to take them round town later.”

“Good idea. I’ll let you know the moment anything comes in.”

“Thanks.” She put the phone down, looking at the printed sheets, reminded of the countless missing cat posters she’d seen in recent months. Her husband would soon be just another face pinned to trees and fading in shop windows, ignored.

Her son squealed next door, then her daughter cackled. Sue hunched forwards, resting her head in her hands, waiting for the inevitable as their footsteps came to the doorway.

“Mum! Jen put the toad in my bed!”

“I didn’t, he just hopped in there by himself. He must’ve wanted to be with someone else small and warty.”

“I’m not-”

“Shut up, both of you!” Sue didn’t turn to face them. “For God’s sake Jen, leave him alone and get rid of that bloody frog.”

“It’s a toad.”

“I don’t-” a loud splosh and a spray of tea interrupted her.

“Did you see that?!” Jen cheered as Sue leaped out of her chair and away from the desk. “He landed right in the cup!”

The mug wobbled and then tipped over, spilling tea dregs and toad onto the desk. It croaked. “Get that thing out of my office!” Sue yelled, repulsed by its warty sliminess.

Jen collected it with the theatrical sigh perfected by fourteen year olds and stomped out of the room. Matthew lingered in the doorway, looking at the posters. “Are you okay Mum?”

“I’ve got to make a phone call,” she said, not wanting to show him how upset she was.

He nodded and shut the door as she reluctantly picked up the phone. The number was the last on the list for a reason.

It rang enough times for her to hope that no-one was home before being picked up. “Hello?”

Sue cleared her throat. “Is this Kim?”

“Yes.”

“This is Sue… Gary’s wife.”

There was silence, then the scrape of a chair. “What do you want? I got the solicitor’s letter, I thought it was all supposed to go through them now.”

“It’s about Gary.”

“Oh my God, has-”

“He’s missing,” Sue said it quickly, dreading the words she’d spoken so many times. “This is the fourth day and I wondered if you’ve seen him, whether he came to visit… um… Natalie.”

“No. He hasn’t seen her for months. What do you mean by missing?”

From anyone else it would have been a stupid question, but Sue understood the subtext; she was asking if he’d abandoned them, like he had his first family. “He didn’t turn up at work, all his things are still here, his credit cards and bank account haven’t been used. The car’s still on the drive.”

“God. Are the police-”

“They know. He wasn’t in contact with you… directly, in the last few days?”

“No.”

“I’m sorry things have got difficult with the child maintenance payments. We didn’t want it to be like this. The fallout from divorce is messy.”

“Gone through it have you?”

“Yes, actually, I have.” There was a yell from the kitchen and then the sound of running up the stairs. “I’ve got to go.”

“Let me know if anything… if he…”

“I will.” She ended the call. So many sentences had been unfinished in the last few days, so many sympathetic looks given, so many empty expressions of support. A thousand times she’d imagined him lying dead in a nearby ditch, or slumped in a drunken heap down an alleyway or even on a plane to a foreign land and a new life. None of those made any sense.

The kids were climbing the second set of stairs into the converted attic. Gary finished it two days before he disappeared, the garden was the next project, they’d talked about a holiday too, hardly topics a man about to run away would discuss. There were no signs of a struggle, his car keys, wallet and a pile of his clothes were left by the bed, converting the house into a modern day Mary Celeste.

The kids were chasing each other by the sound of it. They’d been running riot since she’d been obsessed with finding him. The last of the missing person posters landed in the printer tray as the doorbell rang. She gathered them up, ran down the stairs and opened the door to find a man dressed in a suit and raincoat, his face was the ugliest she’d ever seen.

“Sorry to disturb you,” he said, no smile, no warmth in his manner. “I’m an environmental officer from the local council.” He waved an ID card at her, but she was too distracted by his strange lumpy nose to take it in. “Have you had any problems with local wildlife in the past few days, amphibians in particular?”

“What?”

“Any problems with frogs or toads? We’ve had a couple of reports of them coming into people’s houses.” He noticed the posters. “Someone’s missing?”

“My husband.”

He extended a hand. “I could put one up in my office if you wish?”

She gave one to him. “Thank you. About the toad problem, we found one in the house a few days ago. Where are they coming from?”

“Population spike,” he said flatly. Everything he said was flat, there was a complete absence of emotion. “When did you find it?”

“Four days ago. It-”

A scream high up in the house stopped her, something streaked down from the sky and landed with a terrible splut less than a metre from the man.

It was the toad.

The kids were hammering down the stairs, Sue stepped out to look at the poor creature, its guts spilling out onto the driveway. The visitor peered down at it.

“This is the toad you mentioned, the one found in your house four days ago?”

“It was,” Sue replied as Matthew and Jen pushed past her.

“Matthew threw him out of the skylight!” Jen sobbed and promptly punched her younger brother on the arm.

“She was putting him down my shirt!” Matthew said, staring at the dead creature. “I didn’t mean to do it.”

“I’ll be off now,” the man said. “Nothing to be done here.”

Sue watched him go as the kids squabbled. He paused at the end of the drive, screwed the poster into a tight ball and dropped it in his coat pocket without glancing back. She looked down at the toad and somehow knew, with a certainty she couldn’t explain, that she would never see her husband again.

Thanks for hosting Jack!

I hope you enjoyed the story. If you would like to find out more about the Split Worlds project, it’s all here: www.splitworlds.com – you can also sign up to get an extra story and get each new story delivered to your inbox every week. If you would like to host a story over the coming year, either let me know in the comments or contact me through the Split Worlds site. Em x

*See?

Day One

Swell_Kel joined the conversation
Swell_Kel: I’ve been calling you!
Swell_Kel: How’d it go? 🙂
ClaireBear17: Sorry 😦
Swell_Kel: Don’t worry…give me the details! 😀
ClaireBear17: Not feeling too good.
Swell_Kel: Did he finally make a move? 😆
ClaireBear17: Feeling a bit sick.
Swell_Kel: Hunny what’s wrong?
Swell_Kel: Claire…come on…its me 🙂
Swell_Kel: Tell me…
ClaireBear17: Nothing…I’ll be fine.
Swell_Kel: Shall I come over?
ClaireBear17: No.
Swell_Kel: What happened? 🙄
ClaireBear17: Well I snuck in…he was asleep on the sofa…
Swell_Kel: You cracked open the wine didn’t you! 😉
ClaireBear17: No! Listen…
Swell_Kel: Hun what happened? 😦
ClaireBear17: His parents were out but he was just asleep…no DVD, no drinks
Swell_Kel: OMG
Swell_Kel: Waster!
ClaireBear17: So I shook him awake…but he was angry
ClaireBear17: Realy mad
Swell_Kel: WTF he didn’t do anything did he?
ClaireBear17: He grabbed me so I slapped him…ran to back door but he tripped me up
Swell_Kel: Are you fucking kidding me…I’m gonna kill that asshole! 👿
Swell_Kel: U ok?
ClaireBear17: Kickwd him off…got out house
Swell_Kel: But ur ok? He didn’t hurt you?
ClaireBear17: I’m k…just feel sick
ClaireBear17: He jst bit myankle…weirdo
Swell_Kel: I’m gonna kill him!
Swell_Kel: I’m coming over…
ClaireBear17: No im k…jst need
Swell_Kel: Just need what?
Swell_Kel: You still there?
Swell_Kel: Hun?
Swell_Kel: Claire?
ClaireBear17: Felng realu hot
Swell_Kel: What? Ur worrying me. Whats going on?
Swell_Kel: Claire? Hellooooooo?
Swell_Kel: 😦
Swell_Kel: Bet your throwing up..
Swell_Kel: Gross :p
Swell_Kel: Ok…not funny!
Swell_Kel: Claire???
Swell_Kel: I’m calling you…pick up
Swell_Kel: Or don’t 😥
Swell_Kel: Fine…not funny anymore..I’m coming over
Swell_Kel: CLAIRE?!?
Swell_Kel: On my way…
Swell_Kell left the conversation
ClaireBear17: dnt
ClaireBear17:cxvxcvcbcvcvvcvvbcbvcbvvzvsdfzxcz\\\z\xzzxz\\cczzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

S.H.A.R.K. Knight

The following story is the result of seeing a mislabelled Shark (K)Night Blu-ray in Asda. They added the ‘K’, I’m about to add the stupid.

For further Shark Knight adventures, please visit:
Shark Knight
These islands are built on pirates bones

Anyway, here we go.

S.H.A.R.K. Knight

The elevator doors slid silently open and John stepped out into Sub-Basement 3. A floor with such a title may have made him feel uneasy, had he not already been accosted by Federation officials and taken to a “classified location” with no reason as to why. He was still dressed in his bloody two-day-old suit, for goodness sake.

“This way please, Doctor Eccles,” his escort said, leading the way down the corridor.

Glass-walled rooms lined each side, allowing John to see straight in. Numerous smartly dressed people worked away industriously. Scientists rushed about as if the universe depended on it. Despite all the action inside the rooms, the corridor was eerily vacant.

“Where exactly are we going?” John asked.

“The briefing room. The meeting has probably already started.”

John sensed it may be an appropriate time to probe further. “Where am I?”

“The Stellar Ward offices of the S.H.A., Doctor” the escort revealed, without glancing back.

John stopped. He knew all about the S.H.A., everybody did, but he never expected to be walking along one of their corridors.

Ever since Professor Scott had discovered Sliding, the Agency had provided the necessary enforcement to ensure the technology was never abused. But it was currently only available to the massively wealthy, with a return trip costing millions of credits. The Agency’s job was to ensure the travellers departed and arrived on time, in the right time, and, most importantly, that their presence did not cause any unnecessary disturbances. The entire business was owned and controlled by The Federation, with the S.H.A. responsible for all human Slides.

John knew all of this and yet could not fathom why they would need his assistance.

“Which unit?” he asked.

“Doctor Eccles, please.”

“Which unit?”

“Retrieve or Kill.”

Retrieve or Kill. John took a moment to roll the words around his head, and in that moment he knew why he had summoned.

Leroy, you bastard, he thought.

The two men soon reached the end of the long corridor. A final glass-walled room greeted them; John could count a dozen S.H.A. agents sat around a large perspex table.

The escort turned to face John. “Now, remember, Federation Superiors want you here, so don’t take any shit from Commander Reyes. No matter how much he throws at you.”

“What exactly-”

“You better get inside. Take care of yourself over there, Doctor,” the escort said, disappearing back down the corridor.

The briefing room doors breezed open automatically. John slipped inside and took a seat at the back. At the top of the table stood a tall man, with broad shoulders and a head entirely devoid of hair. John considered him to be a mid-life human. And most definitely the Commander.

“Gentleman and lady, this is our target-”

Commander Reyes projected the face of John’s most notorious patient onto all four walls of the briefing room. With his bunched dreadlocks and scarred face, it was not a flattering picture.

Fucking hell, he really does look mental.

“-his name is Leroy Jenkins,” Commander Reyes bellowed, “and the hunt is already seven hours old. Techs have provided us with a detailed map of his Slide trajectory and, well, it’s an interesting one!”

The one female agent lent forward in her chair. “Define interesting, Sir.”

“The Crusades interesting. 1052 to be exact. Much further than any of you have ever gone before, I know. I don’t know how the son of a bitch did it, but he did,” Commander Reyes’ steely finger raised and pointed directly at John, “Doctor, any thoughts?” Evidently his presence in the room had not gone unnoticed.

As twelve Agency agent heads swivelled and faced him, John felt the pressure to say something, anything. “He never mentioned having such a skill set.”

“Well, fuck you very much for that! I’m so glad you’re here.”

Sniggers filled the room.

Great first impression, John.

“Enough! Go get prepped. I want you in The Hub in sixty minutes for a full mission briefing. That’s one hour!”

The twelve agents wasted no time getting up from their chairs. As the female agent made her way past John, the Commander’s already distinctive voice filled the room.

“Austin! See to it the Doctor here is properly prepped for the Slide.”

She sighed. Not loud enough for Commander Reyes to hear, but John certainly did.

“Yes, sir.”

John judged Austin to be in her late twenties. He found the soft features of her freckled face and her petite, toned frame a welcome contrast to the Commander. The shiny brown hair was a bonus. He offered out his hand.

“This way, Doctor,” she said, ignoring him, already leaving the room. “Walk and talk.”

“John, please.” He still hated being called doctor.

They made their way back down the corridor and toward the elevator. John had to break into a brisk walk to keep up.

“So, let me get this straight,” John began, “Leroy has managed to Slide back to the middle-ages and you guys are going to follow him back and, what, kill him?”

“Our orders are to attempt retrieval first,” Austin replied.

You bastard, Leroy. I can’t believe you actually did it. “What now?”

“Now, we’re going to go down to Storage, get kitted out in some kind of era-appropriate attire, load up with era-appropriate weaponry, pop along to The Hub, Slide back to 1052, and attempt to retrieve an apparently mentally-deranged psychopath. Simple. Think you can handle all that?”

“Do I have a choice?” John replied.

“As it happens…no, not really,” Austin said, smiling. “So, any ideas what he’s up to?”

“As it happens,” John said, somewhat cockily, “I’ve got one or two.”