Uri

The twigs snapped under her paws as she dashed through the forest. The shrill scream of a bobcat urged her on, faster. Heart pounding, limbs aching, she had to get away.

She sat up in the bed with a start. She leapt out of bed to search for her familiar. The dream she had just experienced made her scared for him. It was not the first time she had dreamed his thoughts. Uri was a large, orange tabby cat who roamed the woods at will. He was independent and maddeningly aloof at times. It was not uncommon for him to stay out for days at a time. He always showed up eventually and the psychic connection she had with him always reassured her that he was fine.

She stood on her front porch, eyes searching the woods desperately and cast out a binding spell to ensure the bobcat could not hurt her Uri. Then she returned to her cottage to make her morning tea. Twenty minutes later her wayward cat sauntered in as if he hadn’t a care in the world. As if he hadn’t just almost been eaten by a bobcat.

“You’re welcome” she said as he strolled past with studied indifference and parked himself in front of the cracking fire.

Tek

At first there was nothing, then slowly he started to become aware of things. The first thing he became aware of was movement. Sometimes he could feel himself moving, and sometimes he was still. Sometimes there was warmth or light and sometimes there was not. Then he became aware of noise.

At first the sounds he heard were just a noise, a comforting murmur that came from all around. Little by little he began to understand words. He enjoyed listening to people talk. It didn’t occur to him, at first, to try and talk himself.

Slowly he added sight to his growing awareness. First he saw just blurs, vague outlines and shapes. Eventually he could see everything, people, animals, buildings, the sky. It was wonderful expect when it wasn’t.

Darkness was his enemy. The darker it became, the less substantial he felt. He would just begin to fade, the things he heard and saw and felt lessened until there was cessation of consciousness. He hated this because he would lose track of time, it was like he popped out of existence then back in and he had no control over it.

He gradually became aware that there was one person who was always there. Many other people came and went throughout the day, but Jared was always there. It was like they were attached. They were attached.

Everywhere that Jared went, Tek went too only he didn’t seem to have any control or choice over it. Tek got the feeling that when he disappeared, Jared still existed and that didn’t seem fair at all.

Jared was your average, run of the mill boy. He was of average height and average build, he lived in an average house in average neighborhood. He walked to school every day where he made average grades. The only non average thing about him seemed to be Tek himself.

Tek eventually realized that he was different than Jared and the people like Jared, Tek was what Jared called a shadow. Other people had them too, but if they were self aware as Tek himself was, he had seen no sign of it.

Tek began to notice when the light faded, he would focus all of his concentration on himself, over and over he repeated, “I exist, I exist, I exist!” It worked! At first, just a little, he would maintain self awareness for several seconds after it was full dark, then for a full minute and then several and eventually he was able to stay in existence completely.

He became fond of darkness then because in darkness he existed though Jared seemed not to know it. He felt more himself when he was in the darkness, but began to find being tied to Jared unbearable. So he determined that he must free himself of the intolerable existence that being tethered to Jared presented. He wanted to be free, to run and jump and fly if he wanted to, separate and of his own volition.

At first he tried gymnastics. He twisted and turned and wiggled and squirmed, but he just could not break free.  He stole some shortening from the kitchen and slathered it liberally between his feet and Jared’s and tried to wiggle free. Finally, in despair, he cried out to the darkness his frustration and the darkness answered.

He was free! He felt like soaring, so he did! He literally soared up to the ceiling, around the room and out the window. Escaping from his bondage he was now free to explore the world, and free to stay forever in the dark, where he would remain hidden from the world. Free to creep along dark alleyways, crawl across floors in darkened rooms and slink behind trees in dark forests. Free to be the noise that isn’t there, the shadow you thought you saw, the terrifying thing waiting for you under your bed, in the closet, behind the tree, always at the edge of darkness.

The Vessel: Food Edition

Find the original story here.

Find Part 2 here.

She regarded the food in front her cautiously. It was green and gelatinous, like lime jello. Only it didn’t smell like lime jello.

“Frank! We talked about this!”

She had named the computer, or whatever it was that spoke to her and seemed to run the ship, Frank. It was easier than the ridiculously long and scientific name that Franks real name translated to in her language.

“You can travel the universe, speak every language known on every planet in said universe, have the sum of the knowledge of all civilizations from every part of the universe at your disposal. Why can’t you just make me a hamburger?”

Frank beeped, miffed. She could tell he was miffed by the way the lights ran across the control panel randomly. She sighed. Leave it to her to get on board a moody spaceship to escape her pathetic love life.

Not that she was complaining, she was having the time of her life really. Learning about space, Earth, human life and civilizations, alien life and civilizations. She just really wanted a cheeseburger.

“Come on Frank, I promise I’ll take the vitamin and mineral supplements and I’ll let you check my cholesterol levels later.” Frank worried about her health out here in space. Thus the nutritionally complete but utterly tasteless green blob in front of her.

“Catherine” came the condescending tone from Franks speakers, “you know that red meat is bad for you.”

“Yes,” Cat replied, “but it tastes good!”  She wasn’t sure if Frank was just stubborn or if he didn’t want to admit that he had no clue how to make a cheeseburger.

“Eat your nucohume (she had learned that stood for nutritionally complete human meal) and I’ll take you to a planet where they have something very close to cheeseburgers, but much, much better.”

“Where is that?” She asked suspiciously.

“In the Pegula galaxy, we were heading there next anyway. It’s a planet almost indistinguishable from your Earth, but a few twists I can’t wait to show you!”

She suspected she was being handled, but after securing a promise of a cheeseburger at their next stop, she complied. Sighing again, she reluctantly shoveled into the green nucohume.

The Vessel: Return to Earth

The Vessel Part 2

See part one here: The Vessel.

The ship slipped through the darkness of space with a quietness and stillness that belied its incredible speed. It was as if the ship was standing still and space was slipping by it. The light from a million stars streaked by outside the windows. The interior was dimly lit reflecting the early morning earth hour of 4a.m. which was displayed across the wall of the room.

Glancing at the readout, Catherine snuggled back into the warmth of her bed.  The temperature of her room was a steady 78 degrees, just the way she liked it. The quite background hum of the ships operations provided a perfect amount of white noise and the bed she was sleeping in was the softer than goose down yet still surprisingly supportive. She was pretty sure it was made of materials not found on Earth. She didn’t care. She had found paradise.

The Vessel: Food Edition

The Vessel: Return to Earth

The Would Be Thief

Alexander stood in the jewelry store eyeing the necklace nervously. This would be the biggest test of his powers yet.

The necklace lay in the case with an almost imperceptible glow. He doubted anyone else noticed the glow, he saw it because he could sense its power, feel it calling to him. It was a large silver pentagram with a deep red ruby pulsing at the center. It was attached to a long chain. It was nestled on dark purple velvet in the display case.

He took a deep breath and glanced around the shop. The owner was helping other customers. A woman with a fidgety toddler was browsing on the other side of the shop. The girl who had greeted him when he entered had gone into the back of the store. No one was watching him.

His palms were sweaty, so he wiped them on his pants then rubbed them together in concentration. He had to get this just right.

Reaching out, he touched the glass gingerly and slipped his hand right through it. Ecstatic he stood next to the case, fingers to forearm inside the case, the rest of his body outside. It had worked, he knew it would! He was getting pretty skilled at passing through solid objects.

His hand grasped the necklace and he carefully moved his arm back out of the case. His hand passed through the glass again, easily as a hot knife moves through melted butter. He brought his hand up, turned it over and opened his fist. No necklace.

The necklace lay in the case, tangled in an untidy heap next to the glass. So he had moved it, but it had not passed through the glass with his hand. Disappointment surged through him.  He had not anticipated this, had not taken into account the mass of the necklace in his calculations.

Sighing, he stuffed his hands into his jacket pocket and walked out of the shop into the oncoming blizzard. Hurrying toward home, he wasn’t watching where he was going so he never noticed the girl.  He just knew that he had more work to do.

From a shop two doors down, she stepped out onto the sidewalk to follow him. She knew little about him other than that both The Society and the Astyrian Brotherhood were watching him. That was all she needed to know. Silently, she trailed him through the falling snow as the sun sank below the horizon.

 

 

Eviction

The old man sat dejectedly on the edge of a tattered couch, surrounded by furniture, and watched as the movers carried his belongings out and piled them around him.

He didn’t quite understand when they told him the house belonged to the bank now. He didn’t understand a lot these days, his brain was a little muddled. He supposed that was normal for a 90 year old man.  He knew he suffered from foggy thinking. He remembered when his wife, Frieda, was alive. She always took care of things like making sure the mortgage payment got sent in on time.

Not that he had a mortgage anymore. One of his clearer memories was taking Frieda on a long overdue vacation to celebrate after the house was finally paid off. Kids were all grown, house was paid off, that was a good time in their lives. The kids all had lives of their own now.

The thought of kids brought a slight but confused smile to his face as he struggled to remember their names. Bob Jr of course and Margo, Mildred, Mitch and Sarah.

Mitch. The smile left his face as another memory tugged on his brain.

“Dad, just sign the papers! Don’t be stubborn, I need the money!”

Mitch made it sound ok. He had needed it, for some reason.

He sat as the sun sank behind the horizon staring at the house that had been his home for close to seventy years. The house where he had carried his bride over the threshold, where they had raised five children. Where one of those children had betrayed him.

Frieda was dead, he was long since retired, most of his friends were gone and now his home was gone as well. He pulled the pistol from his jacket pocket. The one he had thought to defend his home with, but in the end, he didn’t have it in him to harm another person. Even the ones dragging him from his home.

“Frieda” he thought, as he pulled the trigger.

Captured!

Browsing through used bookstores was one of her favorite hobbies. This was her first time in this one and she had already found several books that could prove useful. Stepping back from a shelf with a book in her hands, she inadvertently bumped right into him. She was always bumping into things while reading. She mumbled an apology as she closed the book.

“It’s ok” he replied. She stopped, electrified. She recognized that voice! Looking up she saw him. The square cut of his jaw, the blue of his eyes, the shock of dark hair falling in his face. He smiled and she knew she’d been caught.

Sighing, she set the book down on a shelf and began preparing a spell, but it was too late. He murmured a spell of his own as he placed a thin silver cuff on her left wrist. A dampener, great. She was just going to have to get out of this the old fashioned way.

With a roundhouse kick to his face, she knocked him off balance and ran for the door. She didn’t make it far, he had brought back up. She looked around at the team of five magic users that had been sent to capture her and knew there was no escape. At least not today.

At long last, she would have to face the high council. That is, unless she could convince him to let her go. She had three days to prove her innocence.

“Lucas!” she demanded indignantly, “Is this really necessary?”

“Oh Gretchen,” he replied, “Of course it is. Did you think I had forgotten how powerful you are?”

“Flattery will get you nowhere.”

“Oh, but it did before.” He gave her a dazzling smile.

She squirmed uncomfortably. Well, yes, that was true. But in her defense, he was ridiculously hot. She was human after all. Well, mostly human anyway. Whatever.