Wayne Cole

Writer Podcaster Geek

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

Sleepless Night

Fiction Fragment Friday

No major updates this week. I have started the editing process on my NaNoWriMo Novel Ricochet and returned to working on the Skies of Glass roleplaying game beta rules. Of course I am preparing for Christmas as well.

For this week I have a brand new short work for you. This one strikes a bit closer to reality than I care to admit.

  My arms flail, desperately trying to find anything to break my fall.  There is nothing, so I hit the floor hard.  I am lying on the side of my bed, grateful that I have missed my nightstand on the way down to the floor.  There is no blood this time, only the bruises that I can feel forming.  This is the worst way to wake up, but it is far from the first time I have experienced it. 

  Looking up over the edge of the queen sized bed, I see my Labrador Jack stretched out across the entire bed.  The feet that pushed me hanging over the edge.  The loud crashing sound of my plummet to the floor seems to have woken him because his tail is smacking the bed with a rhythmic thud.  As much as I want to be mad, he is just too adorable to stay upset with.  I reach down, rub his tummy, and give him a kiss on the head. 

     I move to my living room and settle into my recliner.  It is actually fairly comfortable and I can fall asleep easily in it.  As soon as I get comfortable, I hear the telltale sound of paws hitting the floor.  I sigh as forty pounds of dog leap through the air and land on my lap.  He is too big to be a lap dog, especially on a small recliner, but no matter how many times I tell him he just does not believe it.  As he curls up into a ball on my lap, I accept that this will be one of those nights where very little sleep will happen.  I pet my dog and settle into a long night.     

A Choice

Fiction Fragment Friday

First as a quick update I successfully won NaNoWriMo. I wrote a 50,000 word novel in November with a day to spare. That leaves me a lot of editing work, but this novel will be self published in 2021. Future novels I will shop around and try for a publisher, but Richocet will always be self published.

This weeks Fiction Fragment Friday is a Flash Fiction I just wrote. I am trying to do more of these just to improve my writing. I also have purchased Pro Writing Aid Premium and am using it to improve on my editing. So far I am impressed with the tool, but I have only used it a few time including on this story.

 I pulled into the intersection, not knowing that this one act would change my life forever.  The sun was shining, and the temperature was just perfect.  It was the type of morning that makes you regret not having the day off to spend outside.  I didn’t have the day off though, so I was driving in to work like every other weekday.  The intersection was the last one before the work parking lot, and by this point I was on autopilot.  It was just a typical Monday until I glanced over and saw the large pickup truck running a red light taking up my entire driver’s side window.  It was then that time froze.  

 When I say that time froze, I don’t mean that as a metaphor or some sort of cliche about my life flashing before my eyes.  Time literally froze.  Neither the truck nor my car was moving.  I looked out the front windshield and saw that the birds in the sky were just hanging there instead of flying.  A man on the sidewalk was staring at the wreck that was about to happen with wide eyes open.  He had dropped the fountain soda he had been holding, and it was hanging in midair.  I opened my door to get out of the car and the silence was staggering.  I had never experienced a true lack of sound before.  

 A bright blue light coming from the sky blinded me.  As it lowered approaching me, I could make out a man with a flowing blue cape at the center.  He glided down and landed effortlessly on the ground in front of me.  With the glow fading, I could make out a mostly scarlet red costume with a blue belt, boots, and cape.  There was a symbol of some sort on his chest, but I couldn’t figure out what it was trying to represent.  The man was larger than life, and I could feel the energy coming off of him in waves that nearly drove me back.  I said the first thing that came to mind.  “Are you an Angel?”

 The man laughed, but it didn’t sound like a pleasant laugh.  “I am no angel.”  He pointed to the truck.  “I’m the drunk driver behind the wheel of that vehicle.”

 “I don’t understand.” 

 “Your death is something I have never forgiven myself for.  The guilt drove me to be a better person and when I gained powers, it was the action I dedicated my life to redeeming.  Now I’m left with a dilemma I don’t feel I can decide.  I can stop this and save you, but if I do, all the people I have saved since getting my powers will die.  I need you to understand.”

 He touched my head and my mind filled with a lifetime of memories.  I saw the wreck from his eyes and witnessed my death.  Two years in prison filled my mind with moments of horror and moments of education.  He jumped from a bridge trying to kill himself and an alien energy bonded with him, both saving his life and turning him into the man that stood before me. His daughter had drawn the symbol he wore on his chest.  I saw ten years of lives being saved from disasters and violence, with an alien mind providing every face in crystal clarity.  I could feel their gratitude and love.  Complete understanding of the role he would play in the world was more than I could comprehend, but just what I could grasp was enough.  I felt his thoughts and knew that it had all happened because of guilt over my death.

 “Now you understand.  If you step over to the sidewalk you will live, but I will cease to be.  If you get back in the car, you will die.  The choice is yours because it is your life that would be forfeit.”

 Without hesitation, I got in my car and closed the door, pulling on my seatbelt.  My hands came up and gripped the steering wheel tightly, trying to fight off the shaking.  In my mind, I heard his voice one final time.  “I knew I chose correctly.”  A bright blue glow surrounded me as time flowed again.  I felt the impact of the truck and watched as my car wrapped around the front of it.  My windshield shattered, and it filled the inside of my car with glass.  The whole time the blue light surrounded me.  As the car came to a rest, I found myself with a car twisted around me but not a single scratch.  I felt the alien presence in my mind.  “With your willingness to sacrifice yourself, you will be an even greater hero than he was.”  My perception of the world was now filled with more colors, sounds, and smells then I could have ever imagined and I knew that my life would never be the same.    

A Thanksgiving to Remember

Fiction Fragment Friday

This weeks Fiction Fragment Friday is something brand new that I just wrote. It is something of a slice of life SciFi story set during Thanksgiving. This year has send traditions out the window so I wanted to write about someone struggling with an out of the ordinary Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy.

I never truly understood what dry turkey was until I bit into my dehydrated Thanksgiving Day meal.  It was nice to have something different for a change and I was grateful they thought to pack us something special for the holiday.  It really was a nice gesture, but all it really did was remind me that my family was back home sitting together at a dinner table worrying about whether I would make it back or not.  I did take a little comfort in knowing that without me there to cook it their turkey was probably pretty dry too.  Making the perfect Thanksgiving Day bird is more of an art than a science and in that one area I am an artist. 

“You know I was dreading this because thought it would taste kind of like a turkey jerky.”  I looked up to see my mission commander Genevieve Norton floating in the mess compartment with me.  “Now that I’ve tasted it, I wish it tasted like turkey jerky.”

I laughed.  “I guess it’s the thought that counts commander.  Are you missing a real dinner back home?”

“Yeah.  Normally we would be gathered around my brother’s table digging into the full spread and making plans for Christmas.  You?”

“My wife and I have hosted the last few years since the kids were born.  It’s a big meal with both my parent, both my brothers, and my sister.  Plus, all of their families of course.  I have to make two of the largest turkeys I can find every year and no matter how much mashed potatoes I make it never seems to be enough.”  I laughed a little remembering my nephew holding the empty wooden spoon to tell me we were out of ‘tatos’.  “We have a family rule of no Christmas talk until after the meal.  The meal is about sharing stories and catching up on the past year.”

“I’m not sure if that sounds really nice or just really crowded.”

I chuckled.  “A little bit of both actually.”  I sucked on my squeeze pouch of mashed potatoes and was grateful that they were not dehydrated too.  “You know when I signed up for this mission, I knew I would be missing some holidays, but I don’t think I realized just how hard it would be.”

“Yeah, there is a difference between logically knowing and actually experiencing.  You probably also never thought you would really be going since you were an alternate.  I couldn’t help but see how you looked after our morning report and figured you could probably use some company for dinner.  I’m not your family but I’m here and I’m told I’m a good listener.”

“That you are commander.  Don’t sell yourself short though.  We are on the first mission to Mars together.  According to my Bernice if you bring me back home safely that makes you family, and she expects to see you over for dinner on a regular basis.”

“Well then I best make sure we all get back because I have heard stories about your cooking.”

“Well commander after twenty-one months of food like this I think I could cook you a shoe and you would enjoy it.”

We both laughed and continued to share stories of our families back home.  The food was horrible, and it might not have been the most traditional Thanksgiving Day Meal, but it was still a Thanksgiving that I would never forget. 

Updates, Updates, Updates

Fiction Fragment Friday

I’m so happy to report that I am currently at 31,592 words on my Ricochet NaNoWriMo project. It has been an interesting experience just pushing myself to get the story out there. There will be a lot of edits and rewrites to come, but I think this might be a new method of writing for me. Plan, Outline, and then sprint my way to a first very rough draft just to have something to work with. It is exciting times for me.

Another announcement is that a Kickstarter has just gone live for a flash fiction project that I am included in. It is called Worth 1,000 Words and my story in it is based on one of my Skies of Glass: Metropolis characters that I created when I did serial fiction for a while. It works as a purely stand alone story with no setting needed, but adds some depth if you have read that. You can find and support it at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brickcommajason/worth-1000-words-a-flash-fiction-anthology

With my announcements out of the way time for Fiction Fragment Friday. I struggled to pick something for this week. I didn’t want to just keep grabbing out of context parts of the Ricochet novel because I don’t want to share spoilers and it really will need some rewriting when it is done. So instead I’ve picked out a small section from the very first time I tried NaNoWriMo. I was in the middle of a datacenter move that year and failed miserably. The backstory here is that an event has occurred overnight that unleashed an EMP like effect killing all electronics in a small rural down.

There was only one grocery store in Silverton Missouri.  The town was far too small to attract a chain of any kind and most people didn’t mind driving the 20 miles to the next town over to shop.  Well, that isn’t entirely true, but there really wasn’t anything they could do about it so they at least accepted it.  The one store they did have was really nothing more than a convenience if you ran out of something at the last minute.  In fact, if it wasn’t for beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets it would have gone out of business years ago.  Even that couldn’t keep it open much longer.  In the entire store’s history, it had never had over five customers in it at any given time.  The middle-aged clerk certainly wasn’t ready for a line stretching down the street waiting for her to open.

“Sorry I’m late everyone, my car wouldn’t start this morning.  Just give me a few minutes to get set up and then I’ll unlock the doors.”  Jan tried to hide the fear in her voice.  She had never dealt with a crowd of this size and just kept wondering why they were all here.  The fact that the power was out in the store just made her even more nervous.  “Great, not only do I have a line from here to New York, but I have to check each one out by hand without the register.  I knew when my car didn’t start that I should have just stayed home this morning.”

Jan unlocked the door, and a flood of people came rushing in.  She was knocked back into a pyramid of soda cases and hit her shoulder on the way down.  “This morning just keeps getting better and better.”  The swarm of people continued to enter the store until there was barely enough room to turn around.  People were bumping into each other and the tensions just seemed to be growing.

“Everyone please just calm down!  I don’t know what is going on here, but this is still my store and I won’t have this kind of behavior in it.”  Jan rubbed her sore shoulder.  “We have seen our share of power outages around here before and you’ve never acted like this.”

One of the customers came over to help Jan up.  “You don’t understand.  All those times we were able to drive into Augustus and get supplies.  None of our cars are working this time.  Well, I have seen a few old, rusted trucks and Luke’s 69 Charger go by, but other than them nothing is on the road.  I don’t even know how that’s possible.” 

A young girl came over with her cell phone in her hand.  “Even weirder than that, everyone I’ve talked to has a dead cell phone.  Not like it isn’t picking up a signal, but like the batteries are dead.  It’s really weird and everyone is all freaked out.”  Suddenly a loud crash came from the bottled water isle.  “No way, Principal Anderson just decked Mr. Brown.”

Jan’s face had a look of fear as she watched what was unfolding in front of her.  “The police office is two blocks down; somebody get the sheriff now!”  She screamed as loudly as she could, but no one seemed to be listening.  Even if she would have been willing to leave her store the front door was blocked and the crowd was between her and the back door.  The screaming and shoving seemed to be intensifying by the second.  Jan turned to the man and the teen girl that had come over to help her.  “Look you two seem to be the only sane people around here right now.  If we don’t do something quickly to calm this crowd down that fight is going to turn into a riot and people are going to get hurt.”

The man who had helped Jan rushed behind the counter and grabbed the fire extinguisher from the wall.  Before Jan realized what was happening, he had unleashed a burst of it above the heads of the unruly crowd.  The deafening sound and falling white cloud shocked the crowd into attention.  “Look at yourselves.   We have been without power for less than a day and you are already going crazy.  Principal Anderson, how would you treat your students if they were behaving like this?  How would all of you treat your kids?  I know there are some strange things happening here, but this is unacceptable.  Look we don’t even know how widespread this is.  Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m going to head over to City Hall and try to come up with a plan to find out just what is going on and how far it reaches.” 

The crowd parted as he walked towards the doors.  He paused only long enough to hand Jan back her fire extinguisher and then he was on his way.   Jan watched in shock as half the crowd followed the stranger out the door and down the street.  She certainly didn’t envy the mayor, but at least he had the police force in the same building.  The remaining crowd rushed in to fill the vacuum created by those that left.  Jan realized that the crowd was far more than she could handle by herself.  She turned to the teenage girl still standing besides her.  “So what is your name?”


“Hi Samantha, I’m Jan Williams.  How would you like a part time job?”

Fountain Drink

Fiction Fragment Friday

Hey everyone. Today will be day 13 of NaNoWriMo and I am currently at approximately 20,000 words. I have no doubt I will hit my word count today and continue to be on track to complete the challenge. I have been very happy with the story as it has developed and I can’t wait to get rewriting and editing. I’m sure some of these snippets I share for Fiction Fragment Friday will be shared again in an edited form months down the line. I wanted to share a scene today that is a bit more action oriented.

               I sat perched on the corner of a building looking down a convenience store.  I really wanted a fountain drink but this costume didn’t have pockets for money.  I was just about to give up on the idea when I saw a man step out of the alley and pull on a ski mask.  He was heading right for the front door of the store.  I smiled under my mask.  “Time to get to work.”

               The man stepped into the store and pulled his gun out of his pocket.  He aimed it right at the clerk.  “Empty the register now and if you reach for anything else I’ll blow your brains out.”

               Leaping from the roof my mind was racing trying to come up with something witty to say to announce myself.  I slipped in the door trying to be as quiet as possible.  I wanted to and make a memorable entrance.  It didn’t matter if there were only two people to witness it I needed the practice if I was going to be a big time hero.  What I didn’t know was that the door had one of those chimes on it so the moment it opened the robber spun around and leveled his gun on me.  I leapt on instinct and just barely missed being shot as the bullet shattered the glass front door.  I did a twisting somersault and landed behind the gunman facing his back.  As he turned I grabbed his gun arm with my left hand to keep it facing away and then punched him in the face with my right fist.  He flew through the air and smashed into a spinning rack of potato chips destroying it.  His gun clattered on the floor next to me.

               It was hard to make out his words when he spoke,  “You bastard.  I think you broke my nose.”  He went to get up, but I did a spinning kick and hit him in the stomach.  Grabbing the chip rack I bent it around him as a restraint. 

               I looked back at the clerk who was wide eyed.  “Uhm thanks, but did you have to break the door and rack?  Do you know how much that will cost?”

               “Oh come on insurance has to cover that and the door is totally his fault.”

               “Yeah but I bet they will raise the premiums.  Still he could have shot me so I guess I do owe you.  Any way I can say thanks?”

               “Oh yeah, a 32oz Dr. Pepper would be the perfect thank you.”

               “Oh, uhm sure go ahead.  You do know that’s just something people say to be polite.  They don’t actually expect you to take them up on it.”

        I grabbed a cup and started filling it with the crushed ice.  I moved it to the Dr. Pepper spout.  “Hey you offered.  Don’t go offering if you don’t mean it.”  I stuck the straw in and pulled the cup up to take a drink.  The straw poked into my mask instead of going in my mouth.  “Aw damn.  Ok, I think you got this from here,  I gotta bounce.”

               “You are just going to leave me here with him until the police get here?”

               “What can I say,  I’m thirsty.”  I stepped through the broken front door without opening it and leapt up to the roof.  I found my perch on the corner, lifted my mask so I could drink, and kept a watch over the store until the police got there.  As they were loading him into the car my straw started making the annoying slurping sound of an empty cup.  “Ahhh.  A drink well earned.”  I tossed the cup off the roof at a trashcan and was kind of surprised when it actually went in on the first try.  “Oh yeah three point shot.”  I jumped around making cheering sounds.   

               As I started home I found myself singing.  The theme song from the Gummi Bears, or at least it’s chorus, had somehow gotten into my head so I made a theme song for myself out of it.   

Bouncing here and there and everywhere
Super hero beyond compare
He is the Ricochet”

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