Strange Invaders – Winner of the Facebook Writers Assembled 2018 Spring Story Contest

WA Spring

Dave stuck his head behind the curtain and grinned at his partner.

The kid was looking pretty green, and clearly regretting his short trip down the alleyway responding to a stranger’s hoarse call for help.

“You doin’ okay, Morales?”

Eli looked up from contemplating the bandage on his forearm. “Great,” he said drily. “’Cuz being a chew toy for crazy bums is totally why we do this.”

“Thin blue line,” Dave chuckled, sitting on the hard plastic chair by the wall. “They almost done with you, or what?”

Eli shook his head. “Jesus, I hope so. Nurse Johnson has already put more holes in me than our friendly neighborhood nutjob.”

“Yeah, but she’s damn cute.”

“Alright, there, Officer Johnson … You know it’s a stereotype for cops to marry nurses, right?”

Dave gave a real laugh. He always felt like he was under Anna’s feet when he had to bring someone in here, but tonight would also serve as a rough introduction to their latest foster child. God knew she’d adopt Eli, regardless of what the usual house procedure was for a new partner anyway. He was just too much of a puppy not to make it into the normal dinner rotation on a faster route than her usual.

They were both still chuckling a little when a nice-looking nurse’s assistant bustled in and collected some items off the roll table next to Eli. He chatted with them for a few minutes. Then he stood next to the injured cop looking at the tablet he’d brought in with him and asked Eli to confirm the date of his last tetanus shot. Eli did and the young man said sympathetically that someone would be right back. Eli’s eyes followed him until he disappeared back out into the chaos.

Dave laughed quietly, “You know it’s a stereotype for cops to flirt with nurses?”

Eli grinned. “Learning from the best, Old Man.” Then he frowned. “Might be nice to get something outta tonight other than a scar.”

More ribbing before he got into a sour mood seemed in order. “I’m sure you will. Your rowdy indigent probably had rabies.”

Instead of finding it funny, Eli’s head sunk against the stiff pillow. “Jesus. Probably.”

“I’m kidding. Probably high on bath salts. That’s not contagious. You just gotta be born stupid.”

This time Eli snickered, as he peered around a gap in the curtain. “I just want to get home and sleep tonight off. It’s noisy as hell in here.”

He rubbed his forehead absently and squinted.

“You hit your head when you went down?”

“I don’t think so; probably just a stress headache. Because my partner’s a dick and keeps saying shit like rabies.”

“Sorry, man. I’ll shut up,” Dave laughed and got up. “Gimme a minute, I’ll see if I can get them movin’ on discharging you.” He was going to see if he could speed things up. Being married to the charge nurse was supposed to be worth something. Eli was right, it was noisy.

Dave stepped out into the hallway of the Emergency Department and it was chaos; shouting, fighting, things flying through the air. He started to radio for assistance, but heard a crash from the cubicle behind him. He turned to check on his partner, but the eyes staring up at him belonged to the same hunger that had gotten him bitten.

Eli was lost to the invasion’s first wave.

~ End ~

Nightmare

Another writing challenge prompt inspired me. This one happens in the universe of Always Darkest, sometime in the late spring.

Think of a word (any word you want) and search it on google images. Write something inspired by the 7th image. The word I chose was ‘nightmare’. This was the seventh image.

nightmare

He woke in the total dark of his bedroom and puffed out a sigh. He was probably up for the day now, if how heavily his heart was hammering away was any indication. The last wisps of the half-remembered nightmare still vying for his attention kept him from realizing how cold it was for a moment or two. Then, as he came more fully awake he shivered.

His blankets were probably all on the floor again. Thrashing himself into a state of no blankets had become all too common in the last few months. This had been one hell of a bad dream, too. At least the little flashes still dancing behind his closed eyes told him it must have been. He’d have to find his blankets and knew once he turned on the light, sleep was all over. He sighed again.

He rolled onto his back, pried his eyes open, and froze in instant horror.

His room was pitch black, not even the sparest light from the nightlight Chris always left on in the bathroom was cutting the velvety blackness around him. It was, however, being pierced by two laser points of reddish yellow light. They were unmistakably (to someone who had spent two thousand years in Hell anyway) the glowing eyes of an Ahemait.

The Ahemait were like the hunting dogs of Hell, seeking out and devouring those with hearts deemed unworthy. Ben was never sure who got to make that particular call, but to him it always seemed the Ahemait went after souls who were just trying to be decent in spite of being condemned to Hell. He’d worried they’d send one after him at some point for a while now.

He’d told himself a hundred times that the fear was ridiculous, that as far as Hell knew he was still their loyal soldier, sworn to execute his assigned duties to grow Hell’s numbers, and more recently to chase down the subject of the prophecy. But … But, but, but … He knew Bhaal suspected him. And it wasn’t below the god to go behind Lucifer’s back to rid himself of an annoyance.

He had a split second where he was glad that tonight was not one of the nights Mal had decided to stay. At least she was safe, in her bed, miles away.

When his eyes locked with the creature’s, it started to glow faintly. That’s when he could see it’s teeth for the first time. His hammering heart seemed to seize in his chest and he couldn’t catch his breath. He wondered if the dagger sitting on his nightstand would have any effect on this beast, wondered if it was possible to fight his way out. But at that moment he didn’t really believe he could move.

The beast took a lumbering step closer to the foot of his bed and blistering hot saliva dripped onto Ben’s exposed foot. The sizzle and immediate stinging pain was enough to break his paralysis and he reached out blindly in the dark, his hand closing over the cold handle almost instantly.

Unfortunately, even his demonically enhanced reflexes were tempered by his human form and the beast was on him before he could turn the knife toward it. He realized as its teeth tore into his flesh that it wasn’t here to extinguish him. It would keep him alive in the agony of being consumed for as long as it entertained it. After a while his own screams faded into the pain and even sound was just part of the tapestry of agony that could go on forever.

Ben bolted upright in bed, gasping. He realized he was in the larger bed they’d been sharing at Mal’s house. Then the rest of the evening came back to him and drove back the dream a little, let him start to catch his breath. Mal shifted next to him.

“Hey, are you okay?”

She was wide awake. He swallowed, feeling badly. She was already used to his nightmares disrupting her sleep and they hadn’t even been sharing a bed for all that long. “Mmmhmm,” he said, not trusting his voice to convince her it was true.

She sat up and turned on her light. “Nice try.”

He managed a slightly sheepish grin. “Okay … How about, I will be in a minute?”

She moved closer to him and put and arm around him, resting her head on his shoulder. “Mostly honest, I guess. I like Honest Ben.” She paused for a second. “What was this one about?”

He shivered. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

She nodded. “Okay. Do you want to go downstairs, and I’ll start the coffee, or do you want to try to go back to sleep?”

Ben glanced across the room at his phone on the charging station on Mal’s dresser. It was only about 3 a.m. “We can go back to sleep.” he said. “I’m fine,” he added sounding less certain than he would have liked.

She pulled away a little so she could look at his face and gave him a small smile.

“I doubt it,” she said. Then she echoed his words back to him. “But you will be in a minute.”

She got up and got the extra quilt off the chest at the foot of her bed and spread it over Ben, then climbed back in and waited until he lay back down, finally smiling a little as he looked up at her. She snuggled as close as it was physically possible to be and wrapped an arm around him, resting her head against the shoulder of the arm he slid underneath her.

“You don’t have to leave the light on.”

“I know … But sometimes it’s better when I do.”

He kissed the top of her head.

She knew.

She always knew when to leave the light on. He said so and she squeezed him tight. He was never going to have to deal with the dark alone again. Not if she had anything to say about it. She was going to say so, but she realized from the softening of his breath that he had already started to doze off.

“I love you,” she whispered.

She didn’t see it, because her face was pressed against his chest, but even in his sleep, even after the terror of that dream, those words made him smile.

~ End ~

 

For more of Mal and Ben, click here.

Search and Rescue

Author’s note: Prompt in a writing challenge I’m doing – “Imagine that you are unable to leave the room that you’re in for the next 7 days. Chronicle each of the seven days using only 50 words each.”

That sounded boring, so I went fictional. ~ J

abandoned-abandoned-building-architecture-930436

Day One

Don’t know what happened. Maybe an earthquake or a bomb. I remember a loud noise and then jolting, slipping. If anyone else is still alive here I can’t hear them. It was late; people were starting to head home so maybe they all made it. My head hurts and I…

Day Two

This is the second day since whatever happened. I think. I might have passed out when I tried to write things down last time, pretty sure. I remembered people screaming at first. I found the vending machine. The glass was broken. The water fountain is only dripping. I’m so thirsty.

Day Three

Remembered the LED on keychain. Found water cooler. Not full, but better than drips. Head still hurts. Found baby wipes in Marci’s desk. Happy to wipe off blood. Remembered the daycare is down a floor. Sick. Can’t get into bathroom. Emptied a file cabinet for… Think maybe I hear scratching.

Day Four

There’re digging sounds over my head. Building must have collapsed. That was the slipping I felt. At least someone’s trying to find me. I’m so glad I found water. There’s not a lot of real food in the machine, but it’ll probably keep me alive. I hear the scratching again.

Day Five

The digging sounds are closer. If I hold my breath I can almost hear rescue workers shouting to each other between my heartbeats. The water is getting low, so I’m glad they’re getting closer … Something happened. I think it’s the same day. Part of this room collapsed. Vending machine was there.

Day Six

I still have water. Put trashcan under water fountain to collect drips. Working so far. I’ll be okay if I run out of the other. So hungry. They sound closer. I hope. Help coming soon. LED looks dimmer. Don’t want to waste it looking for food unless I get desperate.

Day Seven

Digging has stopped. LED died last night. Found something squishy in a desk. I ate it anyway. Didn’t throw up. Water cooler empty, but trashcan full. Scratching sounds started again. Louder. If I listen I can hear the others.

They’re looking for me.

But I don’t think they are alive.

On the second day of Fic-mas, these writers are strange; they give us Krampus and he’s not deranged …

Krampus and Saint NickLook, Ma; No Cavities

“Maybe just try to embrace it this year, man,” he said, stroking his beard, thoughtfully.

“Look, Nick, I appreciate what you’re tryin’ to do here, but c’mon. There’s no universe in which this doesn’t suck.

His friend stifled a chuckle. “You had a choice you know.”

He frowned, not that anyone could tell, what with the horns, and the twisted vile wrinkles, and lolling forked tongue. “I don’t think that’s true. If I’d said no it would have broken my father’s black heart.”

This time Nicholas chuckled openly. “I suppose that’s true. He did have a heart for the work.”

“Beating badly behaved young ones with a stick?” he asked wryly. “I supposed he did, at that.”

“Well, at least they have it coming,” Nick tried again.

The demon nodded, finally. “They do, indeed. My mother was a high school teacher. Seeing what that did to her, what she became in Hell, I suppose I should be proud of what I’m accomplishing.”

“Good man!” Nicholas laughed, patting his companion on the back. “Have some fun with it then,” he said, stepping out of their shared sleigh. The reindeer backed away from his companion and he slapped the one who snapped at his friend on the hind quarters. “Behave, now, Agueda!” he chastised. “He brings your grain every night!”

“She doesn’t know me when I wear this guise, Nicky. Don’t be too hard on her. I think the sound of the chains spooks them.”

“I suppose,” he said. But he felt badly about the expression on his friend’s face. They knew each other well enough that even in his Hellish form, Saint Nicholas could read Krampus’s face. “But you’re just doing your job.”

“I know, but … Magical or no, Nick, she’s just an animal. And they know where I come from. They can’t help but know.”

Nicholas looked a little sad for his friend. His own appointed duties were so pleasant. He wanted to cheer up this creature who set the stage for his celebration each year. “Come to the feast tonight.”

“No … I couldn’t.”

“You’d be most welcome,” he assured the demon.

“At a Heavenly feast?”

“You were appointed to be a part of it. You’ve always been welcome.”

As he started off down the first of many streets, his large, unwieldy, head nodded slowly. “Perhaps I will.”

Read the rest in The Twelve Days of Fic-mas – Holiday Tales With a Twist Vol. I

*****

Out of the Blue

“What was that?”

“What was what?” Jason, spoke around the screws he was holding in his teeth, didn’t even look up. Tally had been twitchy since they’d cleared the Ort Cloud.

“That sound,” Natalia’s head tilted sideways, as though listening more intently could actually allow her to hear a sound that couldn’t exist in the empty vacuum of space all around them.

Jase carefully screwed the cover panel back over the sensor array access and slid the screwdriver into its pocket in the front of his blue coveralls. Tally’s eyes were too round and she was carefully concealing an all over sort of trembling that looked like perhaps their climate controlled compartment had suddenly gotten cold. Maybe she was getting sick. It wouldn’t be the first time one of them came down with some inexplicable illness out here on the edge of known space. He should probably go wake one of the team docs and he was trying to remember if Desta or Hai had more sleep to go on at the moment and was about to head to the crew quarters when Natalia yelped.

He slid away from the panel over to where she was hovering by the small window, staring out into the strangely bright dark. He reached out to lay a hand on her shoulder, but she whipped around and shoved off from the wall to get away from him. They all joked about space dementia, but Captain Ross was starting to find it less and less funny. They lost Kolya back just after Pluto to some strange bout of madness and fever, then Buzz (because of course the Aldrin descendent had to go by Buzz out here) when they’d approached the Barrier. And Tally had been worrying him for days, jumping at every noise, eating poorly, and getting increasingly paranoid. It was actually why he’d relieved Marsh to work on the array problem. As the commander, he wanted eyes on struggling crew.

“Tal, what is it?” She shook her head and closed her eyes tight. “Natalia?”

“It’s the screaming, Jason. I know you can’t hear it. When Nikolai told me I thought it was delirium.” She shook her head and gave a little hopeless sigh. He started toward her again, but she put up her hand. “No, Jase, don’t. Maybe it won’t get you; maybe you won’t hear it.”

“Natalia, I’m responsible for this ship and everything on it. Tell me, so I can help.”

She sunk slowly to the floor, as though she’d found a tiny pocket of gravity that only effected her. She spoke, but there was a quality to her voice that made Jason’s blood run cold. “When you look into the Abyss, the Abyss looks into you.”

Instinctively, Jason was using his hands on the console to make his way toward the hatch dividing this room from the command console. Wanting to keep her talking, he ventured, “What’s the screaming? What do you keep hearing?”

Her head came up; her smile was sharp and perfect. “It’s Natalia’s. She doesn’t like us inside.”

Jason to a slow breath. It had never been this bad, gotten this scary with Buzz or Kolya. He was about to thumb the catch and leave to get help when the eyes that had once belonged to Natalia Ross, his sweetheart since grad school, opened and bored into his. They were liquid black and in them he could see distant invisible stars. She rose and glided toward him, free from her own gravity once again. She pressed her body against his and looked into his soft azure eyes and was gratified to see the instant shift in color and his hands rising toward his ears to block out the sound.

“You always wanted to be the one to make contact, Captain Ross. How do you like it?”

It wasn’t long before the pair walked heavily down the hall to introduce the rest of the crew to life in the Black.

July 8, 2016 ~ JF

“Imagine that you are unable to leave the room that you’re in for the next 7 days. Chronicle each of the seven days using only 50 words each.”

Day One

Don’t know what happened. Maybe an earthquake or a bomb. I remember a loud noise and then jolting, slipping. If anyone else is still alive here I can’t hear them. It was late; people were starting to head home so maybe they all made it. My head hurts and I…

Day Two

This is the second day since whatever happened. I think. I might have passed out when I tried to write things down last time, pretty sure. I remembered people screaming at first. I found the vending machine. The glass was broken. The water fountain is only dripping. I’m so thirsty.

Day Three

Remembered the LED on keychain. Found water cooler. Not full, but better than drips. Head still hurts. Found baby wipes in Marci’s desk. Happy to wipe off blood. Remembered the daycare is down a floor. Sick. Can’t get into bathroom. Emptied a file cabinet for… Think maybe I hear scratching.

Day Four

There’re digging sounds over my head. Building must have collapsed. That was the slipping I felt. At least someone’s trying to find me. I’m so glad I found water. There’s not a lot of real food in the machine, but it’ll probably keep me alive. I hear the scratching again.

Day Five

The digging sounds are closer. If I hold my breath I can almost hear rescue workers shouting to each other between my heartbeats. The water is getting low, so I’m glad they’re getting closer…Something happened. I think it’s the same day. Part of this room collapsed. Vending machine was there.

Day Six

I still have water. Put trashcan under water fountain to collect drips. Working so far. I’ll be okay if I run out of the other. So hungry. They sound closer. I hope. Help coming soon. LED looks dimmer. Don’t want to waste it looking for food unless I get desperate.

Day Seven

Digging has stopped. LED died last night. Found something squishy in a desk. I ate it anyway. Didn’t throw up. Water cooler empty, but trashcan full. Scratching sounds started again. Louder. If I listen I can hear the others. They’re looking for me. But I don’t think they are alive.