Monday, December 30, 2013

The Immortals: Chapter Two, Part Four

Hello everyone and welcome back from Christmas Vacation! I hope everyone had a great time. I went to a concert, almost lost my hearing, and ate the most delicious pork roast in the history of the universe. How about you? 

Well, hopefully, you had a great time and were eagerly waiting for more Immortals! In celebration of the end of vacation, this post is a special one, being 2,000 words longer.



                Despite a year and half of imagination and speculation, Kendra had been not entirely sure how effective a saxophone would be as a weapon of war.

                When the curved front of her sax slammed into one of the goons who was trying to kidnap her, sending his glasses and a few teeth flying into the air in a spray of shockingly red blood, Kendra realized just how effective it might be. Then, as the goon collapsed to the ground – his face lacerated in a few places, his jaw dangling and popped out of the sockets that normally held it in a way that made her feel perfectly queasy – she saw that while it might serve as a first strike weapon, there was no way that it’d work a second time: The saxophone’s thin metal had been dented, the valves broken and twisted and popped off their normal tracks, and the whole thing looked a bit like an aluminium bat after being used to knock a ball into space.

                So, she threw the mangled wreck at the surprised goon to her left and took off to the right, while the goon on the ground made a noise between a groan, a whimper, and a barely restrained scream. Kendra felt sick, but her adrenaline was up and her feet seemed to fly across the AstroTurf as she made for a large circle, wanting to get around the goons and to the parking lot that bordered the other side of the football field.

                Gunshots, she discovered five seconds later, were shockingly loud. Someone slapped her on the back so hard that she lost balance, staggering to one knee. She tried to stand, but found her legs didn’t want to work…and then pain exploded through her body. Her mouth opened and blood came rushing around her lips – an iron taste that seemed to dominate everything. Kendra fell to the ground, coughing, and trying to find the air to-

                Gunshots, she knew, were shockingly loud. A bullet whiffed past Kendra’s ear and she gasped – shocked at the lack of pain and at how she could actually breathe now. Her body – her mind – carried the memories of the pain and her legs, for a moment, still wanted to collapse to the ground and writhe around a bit. Kendra shook her head, made herself take another step forward.

                Another gunshot and this time, she spun around and collapsed to the ground, her teeth gritted against a scream that wanted to burn through her throat and fill the air. Her shoulder felt as if it had been dislocated, then dumped in napalm. She grabbed for it with her good hand, her fingers digging into her own flesh as she closed her eyes. Blood pump-

                Another gunshot, and this time, it hit the ground beside Kendra’s left foot. She jerked said foot back and ignored the pain as she turned and ran as fast as she could, her feet pounding on the ground. There was no fifth…no…no third gunshot. The first two hadn’t happened. She just remembered them happening.

                Instead, she heard a voice – one of the goons – snarling loud enough for her to ear over the wind in her ears and the pounding of her terrified heart: “The boss wants her alive, you f-“

                She burst into the parking lot, running past one of the campus security officer who had been pulled over by the sounds of the fight. The officer tried to say something, but Kendra didn’t really have time. She ran up to the first car that she could find – a beat up Mom-mobile van that had been parked in the visitor’s parking slots that only let you stay for an hour or two. She grabbed the front door, tried the handle…

                And it opened. Kendra grinned, then sat in the driver’s seat. She closed the door, looked up, then closed her eyes.

                “Be there, be there, be there…” She whispered, focusing on the possibility that the woman or man who had owned this car, who had parked it and brought it here, had left a key in the sunflap. She reached up, opened the sunflap, and a laughed with the kind of hysterical relief that could only come from imminent death…as the keys for the car dropped into her lap. She picked it up, then heard a loud grunt and the faint crackling noise of a taser.

                Kendra looked up through the window, her hand frozen around the keys, her knuckles while as she clutched them.

                The three goons had gotten out of the football field. The one with the dislocated or broken jaw looked like he had taken serious painkillers and was leaning against his friend. Or maybe he was just that hardcore. The second one held a taser, which he’d used to knock the security officer down – a walkie talky sat next to the officer. Giving them time.

                The third still had a gun.  

                It wasn’t aimed at Kendra. That would have been too easy.

                It was jammed against Marshall’s head, and the saxophone section head looked like he wasn’t sure if he was going to be brave or break down blubbering. Kendra closed her eyes, then opened the car door and stood, her hands raised above her head. She didn’t need anyone to tell her what to do, not in this situation. The adrenaline burning through her ebbed back and for a moment, she just felt tired – the phantom pain of memory floated around her shoulder and back and lungs, as if it wanted her to still be bullet ridden and dying.

                She sighed: “You know, you guys are assholes, right?”  

                “Well paid assholes, at least…” The man holding Marshal looked harried – as if he had never expected a simple job like this to be so difficult. He gestured with his hand and the second man hurried forward, still holding the taser.

                “Whoa, don’t tase me!” Kendra said. “I’ll…just zipcuff me, okay!?”

                The man, for a wonder, actually did that. His hands forced hers behind her back, zipped her cuffs, and then he kept his hands on her wrists, pushing her towards a car that had windows tinted into pure blackness.

                “Let Marshal go, he doesn’t have anything to do with this!” Kendra said, noticing that Marshal hadn’t been let go, while the goon with the gun was still hurrying towards the car. They didn’t listen to her as they were jammed into the back of the car.

                The back of the car was thick with the smell of fear – it felt like the kind of place that the goons used a lot for this kind of thing. The doors didn’t have handles on the inside, and the front of the car was separated from the back by a thick wall of glass and plastic.

                Marshal slammed the back of his head into the chair, his eyes closed. “This is the last time I help you, Kendra!”

                “That’s fine,” Kendra said, looking around, trying to will her hands to be free. The world seemed to become…fuzzy for a second. She was in the car and she was not in the car. Her memories remained clear, but she could see herself standing without zipcuffs, the goons glaring at her. But then she snapped back into the car fully.

                Marshal, being mortal, didn’t notice.

                The car took a gentle left turn, accelerated, then turned right, then slowly came to a stop. Kendra gulped, and then the doors opened. Two large, nasty looking guns – the kinds of guns that fired a lot of bullets very fast – aimed in through the two doors and a gruff voice she didn’t recognize from either of the goons spoke.

                “Get out.”

                Kendra and Marshal shifted and got out of the car. It was harder than that might sound – hands were useful and zipcuffs didn’t help. When Kendra did stand, she saw that they had to have taken a pretty short trip down the Haveview express way and pulled off into the bit of the town that had handled manufacturing, before manufacturing had been picked up and sent overseas. Now, the factories and warehouses that had dominated this relatively small part of town were moldering and waiting for some bighuge corporation like Apple or Google to buy them and turn them into spas or something.

                For the moment, they seemed like just about the perfect place to do something dastardly before the police showed up.

                The goons had been joined by two other of the same cut and type – they were the two people with the fast-bullet-fire guns. But there was a sixth man.

                The sixth man was absolutely terrifying. Kendra felt her knees go weak and her bladder try to escape by squeezing itself inside out. The man was easily six feet tall and broad shouldered, and while he wasn’t handsome – he was too jagged and square to be that – his face still bore an insane, focused charisma that almost knocked Kendra back. His eyes were filled with such intense passion and desire and other emotions that it made it seem like he was half a second away from completely losing every last little bit of his shit.

                He wore a suit. It didn’t fit well.

                “Kendra Watts!” He said, beaming at her as he spread his hands wide. “A pleasure to meet you!”

                He stepped forward, grabbing her around the back and squeezing her tight enough to make her arms and ribs almost pop out of their sockets. She gritted her teeth.

                He set her down, then said: “Men, cut her ties!”

                He turned away, waking away from her – his hands clasped behind his back. One sleeve slid up as it strained against his elbow and she saw the black adder tattooed on his arm, coiling round to bite at his wrist.

                The goons reacted instantly, and…Kendra could…actually kind of see why. Everything the man did was so sure, so self-confident, that you just started to move along with him without thinking about it.

                With her hands free, she rubbed her wrists and – as if that had released an invisible gag around her mouth – spoke: “Let Marshal go! He has nothing to do with this!”

                “Kendra, what is this?” Marshal hissed-asked.

                “Uh-“ Kendra opened her mouth to explain. The man turned, beamed, and cut her off.

                “Men, take him and dump him in the landfill, blindfolded and gagged. He’ll get out, but by then, this will all be over and done with. No?” He smiled.

                The goons nodded. Marshal barely had time to make a loud ‘yip’ before the car squealed away, shooting out of the driveway of the abandoned factory. Before they had vanished, Kendra had noticed that the goon with the dislocated face…was fine.

                She hadn’t even felt anything, but the man had fixed it. She gulped, trying to wet her throat so that she might be able to say something inspiring before she died.

                “Ah, forgive me, my manners. I am Adder.” Adder bowed his head to her, almost courtly. Then, grinning, he said: “And I am here to offer you a chance to life that the others never would.”

                Kendra blinked.

                “You see…” Adder reached up to his suit vest, drawing a long, thick cigar from it. “I believe you have been lied to, Kendra.”

                “You know, I’d almost believe you if you hadn’t kidnapped you…” Kendra pointed out.

                Adder smiled. “You were told that immortals change the world around them, no?” He asked, sliding the cigar into his mouth. He lit the tip – it was already cut, she noticed. He puffed, the smoke tingling in her nose.

                Kendra sneezed, then – grudgingly – she nodded.

                “What if I told you that Immortals do not change the world? What if…” He smiled. “There were many worlds. And we are all simply trying to prove ourselves to earn them? What if…the conflict was the true right path, and the friends you so eagerly keep are simply chaining every immortal in this purgatorial existence?”

                “Extraordinary claims would…um…need evidence. Right?” Kendra bit her lip, feeling decidedly uneasy – though, to be fair, it was better than terrified.

                Adder’s face split into a huge smile.

                “Evidence I just so happen to have…come with me, Miss Watts!” He turned around, a streamer of smoke guiding Kendra as he walked towards the abandoned factory. “And let me remove the scales from your eyes and reveal…the true glory and terror of the universe you have stepped into.”

                Then, smiling, he turned to face her.

                “Or should I say…universes."


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Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Flash Fiction

So, I've been getting fairly good responses to the Immortals - save for, of course, a few copy editing comments. I will attempt to fix those as time goes on, but please remember that you are getting stuff straight off the writing floor of the imagination funtime factory that is the interior of my brain. I will continue try my hardest to provide quality entertainment to all 12 of my readers, and hopefully will catch more copy editing issues before people notice and E-mail me about them.

Still, today is Friday, and normally, there would be a story post here...but today is also a birthday party celebration, and so I did not have time to write a new post.

In lieu of an apology, how about I provide some FREE FLASH FICTION! 

Without further delay, I present...



The man opened the suitcase while nanofected wind blew through the air. His partner kept watch for killbots, but he was focused. He pulled out the slate of plastic and downloaded the book within. After the datapocalypce, a single uncorrupted novel from the Dead Times would be worth its bit-weight in credits.

-riverrun past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs-

The man shook his head. “It’s corrupted. Come on.” He threw the plastic down and deleted the text before the virus that killed it leaped to his mainframe.

The two scavvers walked on, insulated by a firewall and by time from Joyce.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Immortals: Chapter Two, Part Three

                 Kendra’s eyes flicked to her phone – there was no response from the text message she had sent out – then flicked back to the first note on her sheet.

                “A-One…A-two…a-one two three-“ Marshal, his voice tight and controlled and his face wearing the mask of someone who was trying very hard to not think about something, counted off the tempo for the piece and then the slightly nasally sound of imperfectly maintained saxophones being played by less-than-professional students filled the space behind the bleachers that the section had chosen to practice in.

                There was a simple truth to high school music: You could have skill, quality instruments, or a life. Pick two. Since Kendra and the rest of the sax section rather enjoyed having life, and the Samville Cockatrices prided themselves on sounding like they were actually worth listening to despite coming from Samville, that meant that their instruments were not the best instruments in the field. A combination of poor school, flagging interest in the music programs and lower median income for the students involved made for instruments that bore the years of use in the same way the Titanic bore years of sea-water.

                Proudly, yes. With some measure of historical significance, sure. But no one would ever call it beautiful. Or...particularly functional for that matter.

                For Kendra, her alto sax had a slightly bent connector – normally, when she pressed a button at the top of the instrument to bring out a new note, the sax was expected to open certain vales. However, for the past three months, despite liberal amounts of valve oil and fiddling with screw drivers and lots of creative (and very quiet) swearing, the valve hadn’t opened properly. That meant that when Kendra wanted to shift between two notes, she had to let the valve open half a second before you would normally expect and take a breath – to cover for the fact that the valve was slowly creaking open rather than just popping up.

                Every member of the saxophone section had to deal with similar quirks. With that in mind, Kendra was just a little shocked at how good the piece started to sound by the time they hit the end of measure twenty and Marshal did a quick circular motion with his instrument to get everyone to stop.

                “Nice!” Bernard – the only person in the band with a name that began with a B – looked pleased.

                “Wait, did anyone else notice me going a little flat on measure three?” Stanly asked, looking at his sax’s reed, frowning at it.

                “Nope!” Bernard said, with more eagerness than actual authority.

                “A little…” Marshal shot Bernard a look. The way sections were supposed to work was that the first chair led the rest of them – because, theoretically, the first chair tested highest during the auditions – and the lower you were slotted, the less complex the music was. That fact seemed to have shot over Bernard’s head, and the fact that Marshal glared at him every single time he tried to help the others just amused Kendra to no end.

                It was a bit like watching a cat and a puppy try to direct a small military unit at the same time. A really really thick puppy.

                “Why don’t you play five to ten, and we’ll-“ Marshal started. Before he got any further, Kendra’s phone started to blare rap music at the top of its speakers. Everyone in the section looked at Kendra, who flushed and grabbed her phone,  looking down at it as her sax dangled from her neck strap. She slid her free hand to support the sax, not wanting her strap to give way and dump a seven hundred dollar instrument on the ground.

                “Nice ringtone…” Lisa – the other girl in the section – muttered.

                “Uhhh, I need…to…get this,” Kendra said, looking up at Marshal. “Be right back! Sorry!”

                Marshal clearly wanted to do something that only teachers could get away with. But as he was not a teacher, and this was after school, and Kendra was the second best player in the section, he gritted his teeth, then waved his hand to her – like an Emperor granting a loyal subject leave.

                Kendra shifted, putting the cellphone against her ear as she ducked around the corner of the practice spot and into a small alleyway between the bleachers and the fence that ringed the school.

                “Hey Bijay…” Kendra whispered.

                “Kendra, you need to get to the compound right now.” Bijay said, his voice serious.

                Kendra blinked. “W-What’s wrong?” She moved her hand to more firmly grip her phone, as if worried that it would pop out of her hand.

                “Adder is in the area.” He stopped talking for a moment, and then continued. “He’s an Immortal, and he…well, he runs a small mercenary corporation. His men are the kind of psychos would are willing to do anything for their boss.”


                “Even kidnapping a girl from high school campus,” Bijay said.

                “Oh great. Just great.” Kendra looked back over her shoulder. “What do I do?”

                “Run.” Bijay’s voice was tight.



                Kendra glanced over her shoulder again and saw that Bernard was looking around the corner, his brow furrowing. Kendra flushed, trying to think of something to say to the other sax player, while also listening to Bijay.

                “Crichton’s goons are attacking us here.” He sighed. “We’ve got them bottled up, but if we leave, then…” He paused. “Well, let’s just say it would be less than enjoyable.”

                “Great, great, great…” Kendra turned back away from Bernard and looked out at the football field. “I’ll…”

                Three men were advancing across the field. They wore simple white t-shirts, loose fitting khaki pants, and sunglasses. They didn’t seem to be armed – but they had the kind of thick shouldered, wide necked, stern as all hell look that made Kendra think of soldiers. Ex-soldiers. Mercenaries. People who would be bad guys on Burn Notice. That kind of people.

                “Gotta go Bijay,” Kendra said, hanging her phone up, sliding it into her pocket. She turned around, as if to remind herself that there was a tall, barbed wire fence that looped around the back of the bleachers. For a moment, she felt as if all the attempts to make school safer had betrayed her. Then she turned back around and saw that there was still a thin opening to the left of the men. She ran, as fast as she could with a saxophone in one hand, along the front of the bleachers. The men broke from their walk and started to run as well.

                It was embarrassing how easily they kept pace with her. One of them actually managed to get ahead of her and cut her off. She stepped back, looking at the three of them. She gulped, taking another step backwards, her calf bumping against the first seat of the bleachers.

                “Come on, girl, we don’t want to hurt you…” One of the men said.

                Kendra looked around, for teachers, for anything.

                “Hey!” Marshal’s voice came from the left. Kendra glanced-

                One of the men made a motion.

                Kendra felt something like a punch to the shoulder, that then turned into the worst pain that she had ever felt, that then turned to her collapsing to the ground, writhing on the AstroTurf. She gritted her teeth and tried to-

                And then she was standing on her feet. For a moment, the world seemed to be frozen: The goons were around her. One of them held something like a pistol – and two wires reached past her shoulder, two needles sparking against the bleachers behind her. She had moved an inch to the right.

                Kendra took advantage of the distraction to unhook her saxophone. With an internal apology to the marching band’s budgeter and the school council that had voted them at least a little money for instruments, Kendra brought the curved front of the saxophone whistling around to smash into one of the goon’s heads. 


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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Immortals: Chapter Two, Part Two

                 Normally, sitting down to eat after the first few classes of the day was a time to unwind, talk about what had happened, and generally get ready for the next haul of the day. For Kendra, today, it was a time to marvel at just how weird her life had gotten in just a few hours. For one thing, she was listening to her two best friends in the world talk about a time that they had shared together…a time that had included Kendra, explicitly, and yet Kendra had no memories of it.

                “If we have to run sets 34 to 44 one more time, I think I will scream.” Theresa blew on her slice of pizza, trying to get it to cool. The cheese, deciding to rebel against her, sloughed off the side of the pizza and splattered onto the box that she had sitting on her legs. She sighed, then shrugged and started to eat the bare bread – her other hand reaching down to scoop up the still hot cheese. She glanced around – as if worried someone might notice her doing this – and then popped the whole cheesy ball into her mouth, chewing contently.

                It was here that Theresa demonstrated her refinement and superiorty to the male of the species: She picked up a napkin and wiped her hands. Very pointedly, as if to say: See, you don’t need to use your pants.

                Kendra smiled, despite her worries.

                “Yeah,” she said. Jessica nodded as well.

                Sets 34 to 44 were the hardest part of the current segment of show that the Samville High School Marching Band was learning. Sets were, in their most basic forms, simple coordinates: Go to X, Y. Then go to X, Y. Then go to X, Y. By going from set to set, at the same pace as everyone else – a pace kept by a field conductor and a mental metronome in everyone’s mind – shapes and forms were created for the audiences enjoyment. However, Sets 34 to 44 also included several more complex movements - including keeping a very specific shape while moving to the left ten yards, while also playing the most complex part of Yes' The Ladder. The combination of rapid, coordinated movements and complex song made the past week nothing but sets 34, 35, 36, 37 and so on.

               All of it run again and again and again, under the slightly psychotic eye of Miss V.

                Marching Band. Can't live with it, can't back out of it without being lame. Kendra loved every second of it.

                Jessica bit into her slice, chewed, swallowed, and then asked: “So, do you think that Marshal will make the section run a few extra drills tonight?”

                Kendra shook her head. “No, he’s got that date with-“

                Jessica and Theresa both looked at Kendra, looking confused.

                Kendra blinked. “W-What?”

                “Didn’t you notice that Marshal looked super upset this morning?” Theresa asked. Jessica nodded, leaning in, whispering.

                “I hear that he and Gloria broke up,” she said.

                Kendra sighed. “I…I didn’t notice.”

                She knew that that would sound weird. Even if she had no memories of the morning, she knew that she was second chair – that meant she was literally five feet away from Marshal every step of the sets that they ran. She’d have noticed him being upset, and she would have heard why through the grapevine.

                Her stomach twisted and she looked at the pizza that Theresa had handed her earlier. She hadn’t even taken a bite…her stomach felt empty, and she could remember filling it with the meat from Bijay’s BBQ. She tried to imagine what it would be like to remember being born and raised and having friends, and yet…

                And yet, your body would have gone through a whole different life. People, strangers, would know you, and you wouldn’t know them.

                “Kendra, are you okay?” Theresa asked, her voice soft as she finished wiping her fingers and mouth clean. “You look like…”

                Kendra shook her head – cutting Theresa off. “It’s…I’ve got a lot of stuff I need to think about, Theresa.” She smiled, then looked at her. “But, um, if Marshal doesn’t call us in for extra practice, maybe…”

                She trailed off.

                “We could hang out?” Jessica suggested an end to the sentence. But Kendra had just remembered that she’d need to contact the other Immortals and begin her training. She didn’t want to be caught off-guard when Crichton or someone like him came after her.

                “Maybe,” Kendra said, in lieu of saying no. Maybe could turn no. And, hey, she might not need to do anything else today! She smiled, then bit into her pizza – thinking: Hey, think of it like getting two meals at once today!

                Once the pizza was eaten, the three girls had time to talk a bit more.

                Predictably, Theresa was too polite to mention ‘superhot guys.’ Equally predictably, Jessica smiled, leaned against Kendra’s shoulder and asked.


                “Okay, fine!” Kendra threw her hands up, standing and pacing away from where the three girls sat. She turned around and faced them. “I met him yesterday.”

                “And?” Jessica asked, grinning. “Where? Why? Who? Weightlifter, footballer, shy nerd who is actually surprisingly ripped, werewolf suspect, or…you know, are you weird and going after someone for their personality?”

                Theresa giggled.

                “Werewolf suspect?” Kendra’s brow furrowed.

                “Native American and ripped. Alternatively, super hairy. Like Kent, from my math class!” Jessica nodded.

                Kendra tapped her chin. “Kent…Kent…”

                If she could get Jessica on a tangent, then maybe she could escape.

                Theresa – who shared Jessica’s math class – was one step ahead of her friend and showed off her phone: It had a photo of a remarkably scraggly teenager, with peach-fuzz growing around his jowls. Kendra opened her mouth-

                “Wait, this is a tangent!” Jessica cut her off. She snapped her fingers. “Answer my questions, or I shall…” She trailed off, realizing that she didn’t really have any leverage over her friend. Theresa tapped the lock button  on her phone and slid it into her pocket.

                Kendra, whose cheeks were bright red by now, crossed her arms over her chest and gave in to the inevitable: “His name is Bijay.”

                “…Beee-jay?” Jessica asked, cocking her head.

                Kendra nodded. “He’s a Gurkha.”

                “…he’s a kind of cheese?”

                “No, that’s Colby!” Theresa jumped in, and dissolved into a gale of laughter. 

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