Wayne Cole

Writer Podcaster Geek

The Breach

Fiction Fragment Friday

I am a Science Fiction Writer. I find that when I sit down to write it is almost also something that falls under that genre because that is where my passion it. Most of the media I consume is Science Fiction or Super Hero so it is only natural that would be what I produce as well. I never really got into Fantasy and it has really only been since discovering first Anne Rice and then Jim Butcher that I started reading Urban Fantasy. I of course read the Hobbit in junior high, and read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Silmarillion around the time the movies came out. Really though my first introduction to most tropes of the fantasy and magical genre came from Dungeons and Dragons within the past ten years or so.

I have written magic before this story, but it has always been short works like this and generally is also Urban Fantasy and not full fantasy. I need that grounding in the modern world I think. Maybe someday I will try to write pure fantasy, but it is not very likely. I love science and I think you can tell the passion in the writing. This weeks fiction fragment story however is an urban fantasy. I had an idea and I wanted to play with it a bit. This could be expanded to a full short story with a longer battle and more nuance. I think though I have just gotten this story out of my system by writing it and the most I might do is editing and cleanup. It might be worth a second draft.

  My car swerved through traffic on the highway going over a hundred miles an hour.  I could feel the spell collapsing and knew that there were only minutes left.  I cursed at the cars around me, but my anger was really focused on myself.  If more attention had been paid to the calender I would have realized that tonight was when the barriers between dimensions were the weakest.  Instead high priced dinners, shows, and various entertainment had been allowed to be a distraction from the work that needed to be done.  As I pulled into the my driveway I could feel the final layers of the spell shattering.  In seconds the doorway between dimensions would be open. 

  My basement was a scene of chaos.  Wind whipped around the room tossing books, papers, and boxes through the air.  I ducked as a large lamp flew directly at my head and shattered at the wall behind me.  The hole in reality before me was blindingly bright with energy crackling off of it.  Papers were burning and I was grateful that the gas pipes had not yet broken.  I was not as lucky when it came to the water pipes.  Water poured out into the basement covering the floor and being drawn into the swirling energy.

  I started chanting and felt my power flowing through me and out into the chaos.  I tried pushing back against the maelstrom, but found that it was like pushing against a hurricane.  My approach was not going to work.  A figure started to form inside the dimensional rip and was getting closer to crossing over.  There was so much energy in the air that it was hard to breathe.

  The flowing energy gave me an idea.  I was being pushed back by the force because I was trying to fight it.  I was like a wall that was being hit by a wrecking ball.  As my hands moved through the motions my chants shifted.  Instead of pushing back I become a conduit for the energy.  My body was wracked with pain as the power flowed into me.  I tried to push the power back out as quickly as it came in but it was just too much.  I imagined a needle and thread sewing up the rip in reality.  Pulling the breach closed.  It was delicate work and I dropped to me knees struggling to stay conscious as I took in more power than I was pushing back out. 

  There in the center of the rip a face came into focus and pushed into this reality.  The face grimaced in pain and I realized that even though he might be more powerful than me he was weak from breaking the barrier spells and pushing through reality.  Even struggling in pain there was no way I could mistake the face.  It was the one that I saw every morning in the mirror and it was angry.

  He grunted and screamed out in anger.  “You can’t keep me out forever.”

     “Maybe not, but your not getting through today.  This is my life now and I’m not going back.”  I took all the extra energy and focused it on him releasing it in one giant burst.  He was hurled back into the hellish dimension I had trapped him in six month before.  Pushing through the pain I finished sewing up the breach before he could regain his momentum.  I layered barrier after barrier over the breach.  They were not particularly complex or as strong as they would need to be but it was all I could manage before exhaustion overtook me.  I lay on the ground panting knowing that I had weeks of work ahead of me.  It was worth it.  I had fought my way out of a hell dimension to steal this mans life and after seeing the pleasures this world had to offer I would do anything to keep it.  I had to be more careful though because I knew how strong the motivation of escaping my former world could be. 


Fiction Fragment Friday

This week is a huge week for the space program. The Perseverance rover has landed on Mars after a year long journey. This is far from the first rover to land on Mars and each one brings with it new technology. What made this landing extra historical is the both the method of landing and the experiments that will be performed. Instead of the landing methods previously used this landing used rockets to slow the decent and dropped the rover itself to the ground by cables from the floating platform. It then flew off and crashes safely away from the rover. The experiment that has me most excited for this rover is the helicopter drone. We have never flown on Mars and it is not insignificant to make this work. The gravity and atmosphere are very different from Earth. If this flight is successful it opens up many options for future trips and exploration. Finally the rover itself has a microphone and will be recording sound on Mars for the first time.

What does all of this have to do with this weeks story? Nothing at all. I thought about going back to my Mars mission story for this week, but I think I have reached the point with that where I need to actually think out the whole crew and do some world building. I have a thread going through those stories and I want to seriously explore that. So this week instead a quick and possibly cute story that I have no idea where the inspiration came from.

   “Ok it’s time to write.”  I stared at the cursor blinking on my screen.  “As soon as I let the dogs out.  Well once I let them out then I’ll just have to stop to let them back in. No point in starting to just get distracted.  I could watch a YouTube video instead.  Ok, I’ll let the dogs out, watch YouTube, let the dogs in, and THEN I’ll write.  Yeah, that makes sense.”

   “Who do you think you’re kidding?  You’ll just find another excuse after that.”  I jumped and hit my laptop table sending my soda spilling all over the floor.  My mind bounced between finding the source of the voice in my empty house or grabbing a towel to clean up the mess.  The voice was far more concerning, but since I didn’t see anyone, I let me instincts kick in and rushed to the bathroom for the towel.  The dogs were already fast at work eating the ice by the time I started soaking up my drink. 

   My pug Ellie looked up at me.  “See I bet you already forgot that you were going to write.”

   My terrier Wally looked over at her.  “You’re too hard on him.  He’s a busy guy.”

   “Yeah, the TV won’t watch itself and that chair might float away if he didn’t hold it down.”

   “HEY.  See if I give you any treats anytime soon.”   I was incensed that my dog would talk about me so harshly.  Then I realized that my dogs were talking.  I stumbled back falling on my butt scooting away from them.  “It’s finally happened.  I’ve lost my mind.”

   Ellie trotted over to me and tilted her head to look at me.  “Wait you can understand us?”

   “Uhm yeah you’re speaking English.”

   Wally ran over spinning in circles and jumping.  “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy.  You can hear us, you can hear us.”

   “Oh, calm down you hyperactive halfwit.”

   “No this is super exciting.  He can hear us.  You’re just being a grumpy pants.”

   “Grumpy pants?  We’re dogs we don’t even wear pants.”

   My head kept turning back and forth between my two pets.  My jaw and eyes were both wide open.  “What is going on here?”

   “Don’t ask us.  We’re just dogs.  You’re the one that can suddenly hear us.  I bet you use that as an excuse to not write too.”

   “Don’t listen to her.  You’re going to write a super good story.  I just know it even though I don’t know how to read.”  Wally jumped up on my lap and started licking my face.  “Who’s a good human?”

   I scratched behind his ear.  “Thanks boy. At least someone has faith in me.”

   “He also had faith that he could lick his butt hole a few minutes ago.  Spoiler alert he was right about that one.  Enjoy those butt licks.”

   “Gotta pee, gotta lick, gotta pee, gotta lick.”  I almost fell backwards from the onslaught.

   “Ok, guys time for you to go outside.”

   Ellie trotted to the back door.  “Bout time.”

     I opened the back door and let the dogs rush out into the yard.  Their bickering was driving me crazy, so I shut the door trying to drown out the sound.  It was a nice day out so I could leave them out for a bit trying to make sense out of what was happening.  I slumped into my chair wondering if I had truly lost my mind.  “Wait a minute.  This could be amazing.  I could finally know what they really want.  If I can talk to other animals I could make a fortune.  Be an animal psychiatrist or a famous trainer.  This could be the best thing that ever happened to me.”  I rushed to the back door and let them in.  “Are you guys ready figure this out.”  They barked in return and my heart sank.  “You can’t talk anymore can you?”  They barked.  

Crossed Wires

Fiction Fragment Friday

For this weeks story I have something tangentially themed for Valentines Day. I could have continued with my stories about the Mars mission missing holidays, but honestly I didn’t even think about that. For some reason an idea came to mind and I just had to write it. I wanted to write a sequel to my published story Sick Day. When I wrote that one there were three different endings I toyed with and the editors helped by narrow down my choice and I believe the story is strongest for the ending I went with. It certainly made the story much lighter than invasive viruses from another planet wiping out a large chunk of one the two planets. I tried to write this so you don’t have to have read the original story, but it certainly would add a lot of context to the characters. I don’t have any idea why I felt the need to go back to these characters but I’m glad I did.

  Every relationship is difficult, but I think mine has a few extra complications though.  I’m not just referring to the fact that Cera has four arms instead of two either.  That certainly does complicate things, but when your girlfriend is from another planet you accept that there are some thing you will have to work at keeping hidden.  What I did not expect was how difficult it was going to be dating someone who learned everything about my world and culture from television broadcasts.  Language affectations like using made up words from Science Fiction shows was cute at first but when I realized she didn’t know they were made up words it got a bit more trying.  Constantly having to explain that different technology she had seen on TV didn’t actually exist was also starting to get on my last nerve.  There were plenty of things that made up for the frustration, but I just could not shake the idea in the back of my head that she liked the idea of being with an Earth man more than she actually liked me as a person. 

  As I straightened my tie in the mirror I thought back over our relationship.  Three years ago today I had in an accident I still don’t fully understand fallen through some sort of wormhole to her planet.  I met her and learned that her people had been watching us for years and I had stumbled over one of their relays.  She worked on those relays, but was more like a cable repair person than a scientist.  When she helped me get home I wasn’t sure if it wa real or not until exactly one year later when she showed up on my doorstep in her human cosplay outfit.  I dropped everything and took her out to the movies and dinner to let her experience Earth culture first hand.  That was our first date and I was trying to outdo it for our one year anniversary.  I had reservations at the nicest restaurant in town that I could afford after tickets to a hit Broadway musical.  I hated musicals but I couldn’t think of a fancier date destination. 

  I walked into the living room and found Cera stretched out on the couch watching Space Patrol Gamma on TV.  It was one of her new favorite science fiction series.  “Are you ready to go?”

  She sat up looking over the back of the couch at me with her two right arms pulling her up.  “Oh wow.”  She looked over my suit and then looked down at herself in  her favorite t-shirt and jeans.  “Uhm, I think I need to change.”  She jumped over the back of the couch and ran to the bedroom stopping only to give me a kiss on the cheek.  I tried not to let my frustration show.  I had told her we were doing something special for our anniversary and here she was not at all ready.  I slid down on the couch and sighed loudly.  This was not a good start to the evening.  

  “How do I look?”  She came out of the bedroom wearing a long red dress with sequins.  It looked to be form fitting, but I knew from experience that was an illusion.  She didn’t trust herself to keep her lower arms still under the clothes so she had created a harness that looked quite a bit like a corset to keep them tied down.  I felt a pang of guilt because I knew how uncomfortable that was for her.  She did it to look more human, but there was a psychological aspect to it that made her feel confined while wearing it.  She also was self conscious because the costume made her look much larger than she actually was to smooth out the arms so they didn’t stand out.  It was a necessary part of pretending to be human but I knew she hated spending too much time in it. 

  “You look amazing.  Then again you always look amazing.”  I walked over to her and kissed her.  I wrapped my arms around her to reassure her.  I realized too late that it didn’t work because when she hugs me she wants all four arms wrapped around me and this just reminded her of her tied arms.  I decided to push forward with the night and hope that I would do better.  “Reservations are in fifteen minutes we better get going.”

  We sat across from each other at dinner and as they set our places in front of us I couldn’t hold in my sigh.

  “What?” I could hear the frustration in her voice.

  “I bring you to the nicest restaurant in town and you order a hamburger from the kids menu.”

  “It was the only thing that sounded good.  I didn’t even know what half of the things on the menu were.”

  “You could have asked me.”

  “Well maybe I didn’t want to look stupid.  So I saw a burger and it sounded good so I ordered it.  I didn’t realize I was going to be judged on my food choice for the night.”

  I fought back my instinctual response and decided I needed to deescalate.  She had given up everything to come to Earth for me the least I could do was try to avoid fighting on our anniversary.  “I’m sorry.  I guess I didn’t think about that.  I just thought that I wanted to being you to the nicest place I could afford so you could experience it.”

  “I know baby and I appreciate the thought.  I guess I could have tried to be more adventurous with my order.”

  Dinner passed far more awkwardly than I would have liked, but it did so without any further emotional tension.  Soon we were at the musical.  I was so excited to have gotten the tickets.  I had won them through work so we were in a private box all to ourselves.  We had a great view and this was the best rated musical for the season. The only problem was that I was miserable.  I don’t actually hate all musicals, but this was a serious one.  I only seem to like comedies and I guess I like them despite being musicals and not because of it.  This was a deep serious musical with a message.  I’m not quite sure what the message was supposed to be, but the one I took away was look how cultured we are and if you don’t like it you are just too philistine to get it.

  Cera was staring at me instead of the stage.  She leaned over to whisper.  “You look like you are being tortured.”

  “Is it that obvious?”

  She laughed and as always her laughter made me feel warmer and more alive.  “Only since the curtains went up.”

  “It’s ok as long as you are enjoying it.”

  She laughed again and the people in the next box gave us dirty looks.  “Baby think about what I watch.  What in the world would make you think I would like this pretentious garbage?  It’s not funny, catchy, and no one has a laser gun.”

  “Why didn’t you say something sooner?”

  “Well for two reasons.  The first is I know just how hard you were trying tonight.  You wanted to show me more of Earth culture and you really did put a lot of effort into it.  The second reason was to punish you for being an idiot.”

  I was rocked back by her comment.  “What?”

  “What is my favorite color, tv show, and movie?”

  “Red, Galactic Peacekeeper, and Back to the Future.”

  She gave me a quick kiss on the cheek.  “Now if I wasn’t from another planet and you knew these things about me would you expect me to be into fancy restaurant and pretentious musicals?”

  I sighed and lowered my head.  “No.  No I wouldn’t.  I screwed up pretty badly here didn’t I?”

  She smiled her smile that could always melt my heart.  “Well lets just say you are lucky you are so cute and that I know your heart was in the right place.  You just get so lost in your own head sometimes that you forget to actually think.  So information smart, but common sense stupid.  Earth culture isn’t one thing.  I like OUR culture.  Science fiction, unhealthy food, and having fun.”

  “Do you want to get out of here, hit the custard shop, and throw in the new Watchers Blu-ray with director commentary?”

     “See there you do know how to show a girl a good time.  That said I’m planning next year’s anniversary.”

Power Armor

Fiction Fragment Friday

This weeks story was inspired by playing back through Fallout 4 since Christmas. Power Armor is a technology in the game, but so are combat robots. This also reminded me of many Battletech conversations I have had in the past discussing how giant robots are not practical. The truth is that we are seeing the trend move towards remote operated drones in combat where possible. It just doesn’t make sense to put a human being at risk inside a suit of armor or a giant robot when you can remotely control them from a safe location. Some level of armor does make sense, but full battle suits that could walk on their own do not.

That is the genesis of this weeks story. I took an idea that has a cool factor, but doesn’t make practical sense and challenged myself to create a scenario where it would. How successful I was I leave up to you, but as usual with this piece of flash fiction I tried to create a larger world that would make you want to know more about it.

      “We’ve got remote control drones, tanks, and who knows what else. So why are we rolling out power armor?  Doesn’t it make more sense to control this stuff remotely from the safety of a command center.  Just like everything else we design?”

      The two military engineers stood in front of a large metallic suit of armor sitting on the reinforced metal pallet.  It stood out from most of the equipment in the room because it looked far more industrial than the fully refined designs of the Directed Remote Asset Mobilization Program.  Known as D.R.A.M.P. for short; the program usually produced sleek robots, planes, and drones.  Typically, they used a modified black silicon skin designed to absorb not just visible light but infrared light as well.  This bulky suit of power armor was an ugly gray and the seams as well as wires and hoses were still visible.   

      The older engineer looked at his young assistant.  “Normally you’d be right.  This doesn’t fit our program’s mandate at all, but we have the best chance of making it work.”  He rolled a cart with a monitor and keyboard over to the suit and started unscrewing a small panel off of the armor’s back.  “How much do you know about the Trekas Revolutionary Army?”

      “What?  I just know what I’ve seen on TV.  Small time warlord somehow rose to power and took over an island somewhere in the Pacific.  What does that have to do with us?”

      “Well that’s mostly true.  There’s quite a bit more to it then you’re going to see on TV though.  See he’s got some allies including the best hacker on the planet.  Highly classified allies.”  The older man motioned around the room.  “If we send any of this stuff even near that island, they can take it over and use it against us.”

      The young man’s eyes went wide.  “That’s not possible.  These are the most advanced systems in the world with multiple firewalls and redundancies.  No way anyone no matter how good is getting in.  I wrote most of the security code myself.”

      “Well I certainly hope your code is as hard to break as your confidence in your own abilities.  Sorry kid but it doesn’t matter how good you are, in this case your outclassed.  If something has a signal coming in it’s at risk and until now all our equipment does.”  He pulled the panel free exposing a port on the armor.  Snapping a cable from the card in a command prompt came up on the cart’s monitor.  “This monstrosity while it is computerized, has no wireless interface at all.  The only way to program it is by plugging in.  The only other input is voice controlled from inside the helmet.  The communication suite is old school radio band and physically isolated from the computers.  You can’t get much more secure than that.”

      “Why bother though?  If they’re so worried about out hackers just send in a battalion of well-armed soldiers.  This thing is overkill, and way too expensive.”

      The older man smiled.  “Now that, Mr. Vasek, is an excellent question.  One that you unfortunately don’t have the clearance for me to answer.  Why don’t you keep going down that line of thought eh?  You have a few pieces of the, puzzle let’s see if you can find any more.”

      The younger man started pacing around the room.  “Ok, if we get this thing working and the design refined, they want to mass produce them.  The only reason to use this over our remote piloted robots is because of this fear of hacking.  This warlord doesn’t justify firepower of this magnitude.  That means someone else does and they have the same or greater access to hack our systems.  Nothing like that on the news and you can’t just tell me because of clearance so I’m thinking it has to be something the public doesn’t know about yet.”

      “You’ve always had an excellent grasp on logic, and I marvel at your intuitive nature.”

      “So, I’m right.”  The young man grinned.

      “I’m just complimenting my coworker on his work-related strengths.”

      “Right.  So, there is someone out there with enough strength to require an army wearing unhackable power armor.  That means they have to have a lot of resources but have somehow stayed out of the public spotlight.  That seems impossible.”

      With a hiss the armor opened.  Seams slid to the side allowing space for a person to step inside.  Cables with medical sensors were dangling down.  “How would you like to take this thing for a spin?  Maybe after you’ve tried it out, you’ll have a better idea of how you can help me with the design.  Plus, I bet it’s a hell of a lot of fun.”  He smiled at his younger coworker and helped him into the suit of armor. 

      With a few more buttons and another round of hissing the armor closed around the young engineer.  Displays loaded up showing heart rate, oxygen levels, and various vital signs that Vasek did not recognize.  He took a slow step forward and the armor moved with his motions.  It felt like walking through molasses, but the clang with each step against the floor filled him with a sense of strength.  His mind was racing with ideas on how to improve the design and make the pilot more comfortable.  He thought through the list of verbal commands he had read about.  “Command Status”, he spoke as clearly as he could.  It was loud inside the helmet, but his screen started running through the various on-board systems and measurements.  “Hey Jack, this thing says it’s pressurized, and I have readings on air and temperature.  Did you design it to function underwater or in space?” 

      The voice of the older man came crackling over the radio inside the helmet.  “Theoretically, since it hasn’t been tested in either, it should function in space, but not all the external systems are waterproof so I wouldn’t recommend taking it underwater just yet.  Maybe a future design if that becomes a requirement.”

      Vasek thought about what the older man had said.  He seemed to be choosing his words carefully.  The suit did not have a design requirement for underwater functionality, but it could function in space which meant it did have that requirement or Jack would not have known the answer so quickly.  This brought some questions to his mind, but he knew he couldn’t just ask outright.  “Hey Jack.  Did I ever tell you I was a write as a hobby?  I’m working on a Science Fiction story and as a man of science I thought maybe you could tell me if you think my setup is plausible.”  He hoped that the older man could see through his question.

      “A game of hypothetical situations if you will?  Sure I’d be happy to.”  Vasek could hear the smile in the man’s voice.

      “Well, my story is about an alien invasion.  These aliens don’t want to just rush in blindly though.  They don’t think humans are a risk, but there are an awful lot of them.  So instead, they send a recon force.  Just a few to learn the technology and assess the risk.  They’re hyper-intelligent though so they master our computers really quickly.  They figure they can make things a lot easier if they get people distracted by fighting against each other.  Once they know it works the invasion force can just swoop in and use our own technology against us.  So, what do you think, is the concept plausible enough?”

            “Well, I’d certainly love to hear how the humans fight back in your story.  Let’s discuss that over lunch.  For now, though let’s focus on work.  I think you’ve learned everything you need to help me perfect this design.  Come on back and let’s get you out of there.”

Long Enough to be the Villain

Fiction Fragment Friday

This weeks story is from my current Dresden Files RPG Campaign. I started thinking about the type of person who would work for my bad guys and how they could think of themselves as the good guys. This is because very few people are the villains of their own stories. I’m sure I had far more inspiration for this than I realized. So I know there is no real context to this story, but I hop you still enjoy it.

  What is a person supposed to do when they think they might be working for the bad guys?  I think how a person reacts to that realization goes a long way to defining who they are.  For me the first thing I do is find out for sure no matter what that costs me.  It is always better to know then to keep your eyes closed and lie to yourself.  When I was working for a security firm in Africa I came to realize that I wasn’t fighting invading savages like I had been told.  I was killing people who had been driven from their land by those with more money.  When I suspected our adversaries were not what we had been told I talked our translator into a late night mission to talk with some of our prisoners.  My deepest fears were realized and walked away from a vary lucrative contract and straight to a reporter as an anonymous source. 

  I find myself wondering how I could have allowed myself to be in this situation twice in one lifetime.  A year and a half ago I was shown irrefutable proof that monsters exist.  Beings with paranormal abilities that hide and hunt among us.  How could I not sign up to help capture them when I have the perfect set of skills to help protect normal people.  I could keep them blissfully unaware of the things that hunt them in the night and make good money while I was at it.  As I ran more missions though and earned trust I started being brought closer into the fold.  Still I never doubted I was doing the right thing until I was brought into a company that was being deployed to a Southern California.

  I have been part of many companies, but none of them have been anything like “The Venandi.”  As soon as we arrived they provided us with cyanide pills and gave us horror stories about what has happened to mercenaries that had been captured alive.  I get the impression though that some of the men who have been here for a while are more afraid of our employer than the monsters.  I find that the more I try the less I can remember about the woman that gives us our missions.  She has bright red hair which seems pretty memorable, but I could not tell you anything about her.  That is one of the things that made me start to wonder if things were not as they seemed.

  Last night I got my biggest clue that I might not be on the right side.  We were hunting a monster that like most of them in this city was masquerading as a human.  This is pretty common and I have seen seemingly normal people grow into very large monsters.  This man though didn’t change into anything.  When we cornered him he begged and told us he had a family.  Before I could ask him anything one of my squad mates hit him with a tranquilizer dart.  He warned me about listening to these people and how they can warp your mind if you aren’t careful.  I’m not really sure what to think, but that man did not seem to pose any risk to us at all.  I felt like a bully and I don’t like that feeling.

     It is time that I find some answers.  What happens to the creatures that we have captured?  Are they really monsters or like Africa am I hunting innocent people?  I walked away from Africa, but I can’t just walk away again.  This time I have been operating in a US city and I get the impression I can’t walk away from the contract.  If I get caught trying to find the truth they are not going to just fire me.  That is why I’m sending you this email.  If something happens to me there needs to be someone out there that knows what is happening.  Someone who can do something about it if I can’t.  If you don’t hear from me again then assume the worst.  I’m geared up and heading out now.  Wish me luck.

A Good Morning For An Apocalypse

Fiction Fragment Friday

Occasionally I like to challenge myself with writing prompts. The prompts could be concepts, first lines, or dialog samples. I have found that I tend to enjoy these stories and the prompts keep writers block from setting in. Like most writers I have far more books on writing than I have room for and some of these prompts come from those. This week though my story comes from a website that randomly generates fire lines. The prompt was “What a day for Armageddon” and it came from https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/opening-line/ As you will soon see I did not take this prompt word for word instead I put my own spin on it.

  It was a fine morning for an apocalypse.  Bright and sunny with birds chirping.  You might think that an apocalypse is more fitting on a stormy day, but that just adds one more horrible thing to the day.  It is much better to have one last enjoyable day to remember before the apocalypse.  The best day is the kind that makes you just want to be outside enjoying the world.  A day just like today.

  I have lived through twelve different apocalypses at this point and only two of them have had mornings like today.  Five of them were on dark and stormy evenings.  Two of them came during blizzards and if there is one thing that makes me want to stay inside in comfort it is extreme cold weather.  Two of them were on extremely foggy mornings where you couldn’t see more than ten feet in front of you.  Then there was the apocalypse that started with flaming chunks of rocking falling from the sky.  I’m not sure if there is a weather term for that and personally I hope I never find out.  Each time I live through the fallout for about a month and then wake up in a new reality with yet another set of memories smashed into my head with my own.

  I could feel that it was time for it to happen again so I called in sick to work and headed out to enjoy my day.  First I hit the Breakfast Barn because out of the thirteen worlds I have lived in this is the only one that the chain exists in and I am immediately sad thinking I will never have their biscuits and gravy again.  After breakfast I went to an early movie.  If there is one thing that annoys me more than anything else about alternate realities it’s that they never seem to finish my favorite movie series before the world ends.  As I stepped back outside I could feel that it was almost time.  I don’t know how I can tell, but I always just seem to know.  I rushed to my favorite deli just hoping I would be able to finish lunch before whatever was about to happen.

  Sitting at an outdoor table I enjoyed my sandwich knowing I probably wouldn’t be eating well for the next month.  The sound of sirens started slowly but soon police and ambulances were rushing by every few moments.  I didn’t know what was going to happen, but it was obvious that it was starting.  Where you are when an apocalypse starts really seems to be one of the biggest factors in survival.  I was eating two blocks from my apartment and at this point I always keep supplies both in my apartment and in my car.  I don’t know what would happen if I died before waking up in a new reality and I wasn’t anxious to find out.  Paying my bill and tipping all the cash I had left on me I sprinted down the road to my apartment. 

  There on my front steps a homeless man was eating my neighbor’s intestines.  “Zombies, well that’s a new one.”  I didn’t think before blurting out in shock.  The zombie turned at the sound and rushed towards me. You don’t live through twelve apocalypses without learning how to fight, but this was different.  I was able to sidestep him, but my jab to his side didn’t seem to have any effect.  He spun and growled at me.  In a split second decision I ran to my front door and slipped inside.  My apartment had weapons so if I could get to it I would be much better off.  That was when I noticed that the halls were filled with my now zombie neighbors.  All of my planning was falling apart right in front of me because I spent too much time trying to create positive memories. 

  “Hey you, down here.”  My downstairs neighbor was holding open the basement door and motioning to me.  I had never taken the time to learn her name, but seeing her there wearing a backpack and holding a baseball bat I was regretting not knowing anything about her.  I sprinted towards the door with at least five zombies chasing after me.  When I slipped through the door she slammed it behind me.  “That won’t hold them for long.”  She pointed to a duffel bag.  “Grab anything down here that we can use for supplies, but it needs to fit through the window.  We’re heading to your car so I hope you have somewhere to go.”

  I started sorting through all the storage, but there really wasn’t much that would be useful.  Mostly people just stored their extra junk, but thankfully I had some nonperishable food and bottled water in a trunk.  The second key to surviving an apocalypse is having supplies everywhere because even if you are in a good place when it starts you never know where you might end up.  “I like to be prepared for anything, but zombies weren’t exactly on my radar.  I have a cabin in the hills that should work though.”

  “Good, that will work.  I assume you have it as well stocked as your car?”

  “Wait how do you know my car has supplies?”

  “I watched you load it from my window.  This won’t make any sense, but this isn’t my first apocalypse and after a few you start to learn who is prepared.”  She looked up at the basement door as it started to crack.  “I hate zombies they’re one of the hardest apocalypse to survive.”

  “Try out of control carnivorous fungus.  It ate all my supplies.” We locked eyes and I stared at her realizing that for the first time in my life I had found someone like myself.  The moment was soon interrupted by the sound of the door giving way.

  “Window now.”  She hopped up on the table she had pulled against the wall and shimmied through the small window.  I followed her as the zombies rushed down the stairs.  One of them grabbed my leg as I struggled to fit through the small window.  I kicked at it driving my foot into it’s face and knocking it from the table.  Pulling myself the rest of the way through the window I rushed to my car hitting my key-fob to unlock the door. 

     That was three hours ago and we are almost to my cabin.  I have so many questions.  How many times has it happened to you?  Have we ever been in the same world together before?  Do you have any idea why this is happening?  One question though dominates all of the others.  After all this time now that I have finally found someone like myself; how do I tell you that the zombie in the basement bit my leg as I tried to climb out?  How do I tell you that I am starting to get very hungry?  

The Spiral

Fiction Fragment Friday

Last week I did not post a Fiction Fragment Friday. It was a very difficult week personally and I just did not have the energy or the time. It is something I have beaten myself up over a bit, but all we can do when we stumble is to acknowledge it and move on trying to be better. I have creative goals and the only way I will achieve them is if I don’t let setbacks destroy the progress I have made.

I’m not particularly happy with this story and I think it lacks any form of subtlety. It is far from one of my best for these, but it speaks very much to my headspace. It would be nice if the things that hold us back and try to beat us down were external physical things to be fought, but that just isn’t always the case. Sometimes our greatest critics live in our own heads.

  I lay there on the couch struggling to get up, but my body had no energy.  The blanket wrapped around me felt like I was surrounded by a warm cloud making the world feel somehow unreal.  My eyelids fought my commands trying to shut and pull me back into sleep.  I thought about all the things that I needed to get done and with each task that crossed my mind it felt like there was a heavier weight on my chest holding me down.  The desire to just give in and stay there forever was almost overwhelming.

  “Why bother getting up?  It’s not like anything you do matters.”  I heard the familiar voice, but this time it didn’t seem to just be in my head.  It echoed throughout the room with whispers coming from every direction.  A warm breath ran across my face and into my ear bringing with it an odor that smelled like something had died and was rotting away. 

  Shadows ran over me and gathered into a solid figure.  It had a dark crimson skin with yellow glowing eyes.  Two horns came from the top of it’s head and a pointed tail was flipping around behind it.  I couldn’t help but compare the creature to demonic imps I had seen in video games and fantasy art.  Opening my mouth to scream I found that I couldn’t make a sound and even worse the pressure on my chest was making it extremely hard to breath.  All the while it continued to whisper all of my failures in my ear flicking it’s tongue against my ear. 

  My body wasn’t moving, but I could feel myself being pulled down like I was sinking into quicksand.  I thought back over my life and found myself focusing on the things I had accomplished.  I felt overwhelmed, but I also could feel my will gathering.  I have always been stubborn and while I might beat myself up I wasn’t about to let someone else do it.  “NO.”  I gasped out.  My right hand shot up and wrapped around the imps throat.  My eyes opened wide and I met it’s surprised gaze.

  “Noooo.”  It hissed at me.  “This is not possible.  You were mine.”

  My left hand joined my right wrapped around it’s throat.  I squeezed as hard as I could pulling it off me and to the side.  I rolled over on top if the imp and looked it in the eyes.  “The things that live in my head are far scarier than you could ever hope to be.”  As it stopped struggling the imp faded evaporated into a red cloud that flowed into me.  I collapsed on the bed, but I felt stronger somehow. 

     I curled back into my blanket and slept more soundly than I had in weeks.  When I woke up I felt truly rested.  Sitting up I looked around for any sign that the demon had been real, but there was nothing.  I couldn’t help but wonder if it had all just been a dream.  Real or not I felt renewed and went about the rest of my day productively.  I found myself staring in the mirror that night ready for bed.  Looking at my face my eyes flashed to a yellow glow before turning back to their usual blue.     

New Year

Fiction Fragment Friday

It is the start of a New Year and I have quite a bit I want to accomplish creatively. For today though I want to look back on 2020. It was not a good year for the world in general and there were some very difficult aspects for me personally. On the other hand creatively it shaped up to be quite a year for accomplishments though many of those came at the end of the year.

  • I launched this website to have a single place to point people for getting updates on my projects and finding my work
  • I launched a weekly Patreon exclusive podcast for Fear the Boot called Fear the Boot: Game Notes that has had 43 episodes released to date.
  • Two beta rules released of the Skies of Glass RPG
  • Helped organize and run Fear the Conline 2 an online Roleplaying game convention
  • Took part in Big Twenty, and ETU streams
  • Completed NaNoWriMo successfully
  • Released 15 Fiction Fragment Friday’s on this feed
  • Had a flash fiction published in an Anthology(You can find the link on my Published Works tab)

2020 was the year I restarted my creative endeavors and I expect much more out of 2021 now that I am back on track with it. Expect submissions, rejections, self-publishing, topic blogging, and much much more in the coming year.

For this weeks Fiction Fragment Friday I have returned to the setting I created for my Thanksgiving post. The first mission to Mars and specifically dealing with being away for the holidays.

  I floated in my cabin thinking over the past year.  Does the measurement of a year even mean anything when you aren’t on a planet?  I frequently asked myself questions like that but found there was no real point to answering them.  Mission control was still on Earth and it measured time.  So was my family and they were counting the days I had been away.  It only made sense for us to do the same even though we were not orbiting the sun.  Thinking about the questions just made me feel further away and the journey down that path led to madness.  I was starting to wonder if some of my crew mates had already started down that road.

  My coms notification beeped on my tablet indicating that a message had arrived from earth.  Floating over I grabbed the tablet from it’s velcro secured charging station on the wall and flipped it on.  It was a video message from my wife Bernice.  I did the math in my head and figured that with the delay a message of this type was probably sent over an hour ago and that didn’t account for the time to relay it through NASA and their content screening.  They say they don’t screen our messages but we all know that is a lie.  They keep quite a bit of what is happening back on Earth from us.  Since we can’t do anything about it that’s probably for the best but it still doesn’t sit right in my mind. 

  I hit the play button and found my wife on the couch with our kids asleep around her.  “Hey hon,  happy new year.  The little ones didn’t quite make it to midnight.  This has been a hard year with you gone, but I wanted to make sure you knew that we are so proud of you and what you are doing out there.  It’s just so hard to believe that we won’t see you this year at all.”  I could see that tears were fighting to come out, but she was staying strong for me.  “Be safe out there and come back home to us.  We need your name in the history books for the right reasons.”  The image cut off. 

  I floated there thinking about the message.  I don’t know if there is a right message to send to a loved one on their way to Mars, but these were getting harder and harder to watch.  It was nice having a reminder of what was waiting at home, but as supportive as she was trying to be each message was just another reminder that I left them back there while I went off to be one of the first humans on Mars.  Instead of energizing me each time I watched on it felt like a knife was being twisted.  I put the tablet back on the charger.  I knew I needed to reply but it could wait for a while. 

  I made my way to the galley and found mission commander Norton and doctor Samuels sipping on champagne in pouches.  Commander Norton smiled at me and I could see by the expression on her face that she was already at very least tipsy.  Doc Samuels was much better at holding his alcohol and didn’t seem phased at all.  I greeted them both, “Celebrating the New Year?”

  “By trying to forget the old one,” commander Norton said as she held up her bag.  There was a sadness in her eyes that I had not seen before.

  “Are you Ok Genevieve?”  It wasn’t often that I used her first name, but I was asking the woman and not the commander.  On a mission like this differences like that seemed to matter more than ever before.  We needed to be more than crew we needed to be friends, family, and a support network.

  She sighed before starting and I could tell it was difficult to share.  “I got an e-mail from my fiance Lisa back on Earth.  The New Year got her thinking about her life and how she didn’t want to keep putting it on hold.  She found someone new.  Didn’t even dump me over over video, just sent me a text message.  Worst part is I can’t even blame her.  Twenty-one months is a long time to wait for someone.” 

  “Yeah it is.” She was voicing the deep dark concern that lived in my head whispering to me at my darked moments. 

  “Bullshit,”  the doc barked out.  “Sacrifice and dedication are just part of what you sign up when you are with us.  They all knew what they were getting into.  If they can’t handle it they are weak and we don’t need them in our lives.” 

  I felt like there was a story in what Doc was saying, but even after all this time I didn’t know him very well.  I didn’t know if he had anyone back home or not and I realized I wasn’t even sure where home was for him other than Earth.  He tossed me a bag of champagne and it floated into my hands.  He lifted his up.  “Enough of this self pity.  It is a new year and this is the year that we are going to make history.  Our names will be remembered forever and that is something to drink to.”

     I nodded and sucked a drink of champagne out of my bag.  I knew that he was right, but it felt like we were all on the edge of some sort of breaking point and I found myself just hoping we made history for the right reasons.


Fiction Fragment Friday

I probably should have done something Christmas themed since I’m posting this one on Christmas, but that is not the inspiration that hit. Also I did a Christmas themed Fiction Fragment Friday last week and didn’t want to do two in a row. This week instead is another new piece. I am working on worldbuilding with flash fiction. Teaching myself how to get the most of the world into the least amount of words while still being primarily a story. This is going to help me in a future work I have in mind.

  My head spun to the left as his fist smashed into my jaw.  I tried to roll with it, but I was not a fighter and he struck me harder than I thought possible.  Everything went blurry for a moment and the room seemed to be spinning.  I found myself bent over my desk grateful that I wasn’t on the floor.  I could barely make out his yelling as the fuzziness started to clear.

  “You son of a bitch.  How could you just sacrifice him like that?”

  “Ensign Smolders you need to back down now or I’ll have you thrown in the brig.”

  “Do you think I care?  My husband is dead because of you.  I’ve got nothing left.”

  “Lieutenant Cameron died a hero.  He held that exit while his team safely got away.  He chose them over himself and you are tarnishing his memory with this outburst.”  I was back on my feet and facing him.  My own anger and sorrow was fueling me, but I could see his hands were still balled into fists.

  “How dare you.  You don’t deserve to say his name.  You should have ordered him to retreat.”

  “I did.  He disobeyed that order and if he didn’t no one would have left that station alive.  He made the right call.”

  “How can you say that?  He was your brother.”

  “Because it’s the truth, you just can’t see it yet.”  I let me voice soften a bit.  “Franky loved you.  You were his world, but his duty always came first.  He knew that the only way his team could get out was if someone stayed and held that passage so he did it.  He always put others before himself right up to the end.  I respect his choice and you need to accept it.”  My right pointer finger was poking him in the chest and for a moment I thought he was going to punch me again.  Instead I could see the tears forming in his eyes.

  “He was my world.  What am I supposed to do without him?”

I wasn’t sure how he would react, but I reached out and pulled him into a hug.  He wrapped his arms around me and wept into my shoulder.  “We go on because that is what he would have wanted.  We stick together and give ourself time to grieve.”  We just stood there for a while.  I held back my own tears wanting to be the strong supportive.  Captains don’t get to cry.  At least not in front of their crew.

The Friday Before Christmas

Fiction Fragment Friday

Hey everyone this week I have a Christmas themed Fiction Fragment Friday for you. I am also happy to say that the Flash Fiction Athology “Worth a Thousand Words” that I am included in has shipped. When there are links available I will update my published works section on the site. Lots of fun work going on behind the scenes here on the Skies of Glass Roleplaying game, editing Ricochet, and deciding on the next project to tackle. For now enjoy The Friday Before Christmas.

‘Twas the Friday before Christmas, and I was a bit distraught
Not a present was wrapped, some weren’t even bought
The Amazon boxes were stacked in the living room with care
In hopes that the remaining orders soon would be there

I wish the dogs were nestled all snug in their beds
Instead they were playing, biting at each others heads
And Kitty stretching out pretending she is so good
But I saw her peeing everywhere but the litter-box like she should

When out on the porch there came a loud thud
I sprang to the door to find a box covered in mud
The footsteps in snow stopped well before my stairs
I knew the box had been tossed while I sat inside unawares

I looked to my driveway to see who was to blame
The amazon driver looked back without shame
Like lightning he backed out into the street
He flipped me the bird as the gas pedal met his feet

I brought in the box dripping snow on my floor
trying to keep dogs from rushing out my front door
I slipped on the puddle and fell to my back
The dogs licked my face as I screamed ack, ack

I struggled to my feet pushing the dogs away
When across the room I saw the tree begin to sway
I heard a loud meow as the tree hit the ground
Riding it down my cute little kitty was found

I looked at the chaos and let out a sigh
I raised up my arms and screamed to the sky
Could anything more go wrong on this day
I realized that was the worst thing I could say

I opened my box all soaking and wet
Inside an order of wrapping paper my eyes met
I could finally start the hard work ahead
Of covering the gifts in paper or boxes instead

The bathroom medicine cabinet I did shut
After grabbing band-aids for my new papercut
Christmas gift giving should not be this hard
I swear next year everyone will get a gift card

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