Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bones/The Chronicler

Space Bones
by John/55555

"Bones," the lookout reported numbly, "Crossed bones on a black flag."

The captain's face hardened. It was the year 3177 AD, but the flag still meant the same thing. Pirates, in inter-stellar space.

There had been reports of a rogue vessel trolling the spaceways between Alpha Centauri and Sol. The route was crucial to the war effort, and had implications far beyond the Alpha Centauri system.

"Sound battle stations."

The captain rose from his chair and engaged his microphone. "Give me the enemy ship, lieutenant."

"Yes sir."

With a hiss of static the green light blinked on.

"This is Captain Throne of the SLS O'Kane. Unless you power down your weapon systems we will commence our attack."

"This is Collestus of the free ship Enemiga. It has been awhile, old friend."

The captain showed no reaction, but within his heart was in turmoil. Collestus was one of his mentors from the Royal Academy, and there wasn't a better ship-to-ship combat strategist in the fleet. There had been rumor that Rear Admiral Collestus had disappeared, but he had never connected them to the appearance of the Enemiga. Collestus a traitor... It was unbelievable.

"We will power down our weapon systems and surrender our ship to your prize crew. Opening main hatch now to receive your shuttle."

Throne's eyes narrowed, and he smiled slightly. Treachery was always a safe strategy.

"Surrender received, Enemiga. Our shuttle will deploy shortly. Over and out."

The captain gestured the first officer to his side.

"Load the shuttle craft with all the proton torpedos that it will hold, and a skeleton crew of our lowest grade ship livestock."

"Yes Captain Thorne."

The captain thought for a second. What if Collestus fired on the shuttle craft while it was still in the O'Kane's hold? The torpedoes would detonate in the explosion and the ship would be broken in half.

"Cancel the proton torpedoes and load the shuttle with magnetically activated Gauss bombs."

"Yes Captain."

"Game on, mentor."


Only Words
by Nuile/Harvey

“Sticks and stones may break my bones . . . but words will never hurt me . . .”

You wanna bet?

Night. The moon glows dim and vague behind a looming foreground of smoky clouds. Street lamps lend what light they can, when they don’t flicker off. When they do, some superstitious factory-worker or the little girl who lives next door hasten their pace with a gasp or a squeal.

That’s when I strike.

From the shadows behind my window I see them coming around the bend, I watch them come up the street, and then I hit the button. I’ve spent a lot of time wiring these street lamps.

I hear a muffled scream. I’ve been doing this a long time. I can tell by the voice it’s a girl in her late teens; nineteen was my guess. I smiled to myself, leaping to the sill. Somehow, it was always the most fun to do it to the women. Sometimes the men hit back.

I crept silently through the lightless dark. I could see her, though I gave her no chance to see me. She had quickened her step, not quite running but getting closer to it.

I jumped out onto the path in front of her. She must have jumped a foot. She screamed, took a step back, hand over her heart.

Why was it they were always so frightened? Was it the suddenness of my assault? Was it the darkness of the night? Was it the mask, the cape, the black horns? Yeah, probably it was the horns that did it. I might have been a psycho in a Halloween costume, but on a dark, stormy night, I was a dangerous psycho in a Halloween costume.

“What—what the—”

I cut her off. “I’m going to kill you.”

She fainted right then and there. Words, mere words. But it worked.

I laughed with sadistic glee as she fell; but then there was a thud, and a sickening crunch. I knelt quickly beside her to look. Something wasn’t right about the angle her arm stuck out at. Probably hitting the fire hydrant like that didn’t help. That had never happened before.

I felt her shoulder. Oh, there was definitely something wrong here. Was it broken? I hoped not.

I pulled the cell phone out of her pocket and dialed 911. In a hoarse voice I gave the address, and begged them to be quick about it.

Helpless, I could only stand there and watch her until the ambulance arrived. Then, under the cover of my dear shadows, I retreated guiltily into the welcoming embrace of my lightless room.

This had never happened before. It had always just been a game.

Just words.


The Chronicler's Ordeal
by Nick/Grantaire

They say that the life of the chronicler is more esteemed than that of a Turaga, more desired than anything else a Matoran can do.

They’re wrong. Dead wrong. Being a chronicler is like being a trophy, with no real purpose. You’re a burden and a nuisance for the mighty heroes you follow.

Even worse is what you see. Sure, a chronicler from Metru Nui or some nice and lawful place has it easy. Maybe some vicious Rahi, maybe a criminal or two, but nothing as ghastly as the scene we walked through. Ahead my team leader stood, looking about with a grim expression. The village we traveled to was deserted; bereft of the living that is.

I winced as I trod upon a limp hand, picking my way through the corpses.

“Who did this, Toa?” My voice annoys me to no end: shaky after the sudden scare. The Toa of Stone glances down at me.

“Piraka, chronicler. That’s who did this. Skakdi, Vortixx, who knows. They’re Piraka to the core.” His voice was harsh, and he turned away before I could answer. I was stung by his tone before—glancing at his shaking shoulders—I realized that he too was overcome by the tragedy we stood in the midst of.

I turned away instead, hunting out the team healer, a young Lightning Toa. Unlike the rest of us she was at work, lining the still bodies next to each other rather than in the grotesque sprawling they had assumed before. I looked at her, not at the dead Matoran below me.

“What are we going to do?” The real questions never come when they’re needed. Most chroniclers must get sick of reality sometimes when they depict the flowery speeches that go one between the Toa. She looked up at me, her soft blue eyes pained.

“What we’ve always done these past years, Chronicler. We leave the dead and we move on.”

I nodded, unable to look into those deep orbs, stumbling away.

I sat down in a deserted building, at an old desk. My tablet was in my hand, but I couldn’t write. A dead Ko-Matoran lay next to the desk, his hands grasping futilely at a bundle of scrolls. No doubt those were more important to him than his own life. I left my tablet on the desk then, bending over him. As I moved him into a more dignified posture I felt the tears coming. I gave in, crouching against a wall and sobbing.

These moments were not what they promised you when they handed you the scrolls and the tablets, when they welcomed you with speeches and cheers.

These were moments that even Toa could not face. There was no overarching evil to face, no mastermind to bring to justice. It was only another band of scum, of no worth to the world, no worth save for that which they deprived the innocent of.

I don’t know how long I crouched there in my grief, but at last I staggered back to the desk.

It was then that I began writing this with a vigor I had never known.

Life is Karzahni when you really look into it. Recording it just adds another stage to it. Because you see these horrors, and then you relive them by writing them. And you make others live it, even if they can only glimpse it in your text.

But for me, right now, it’s the best I can do. I’m not a Toa, I have no powers or weapons or fancy masks. All I have is this tablet, all I can do is write this.

I’m a Chronicler. This is my ordeal.


Happy Hour
by Nate/GSR

The bartender drew the glass from the faucet and slid the mug across the hardwood top to Kay. “Here y’go, miss. Enjoy it.”

She took the glass wearily, took a sip, looked up, turned, spat, looked back, turned again, looked back again, looked down at the drink, looked up again. She cleared her throat nervously and leaned forward. “Um, excuse me.”

“Somethin’ the matter with your drink, miss?”

“Er, no. No, it’s just that, um, well…” she coughed. “You’re a skeleton now, and you weren’t fifteen seconds ago.”

He nodded. “That I am, miss. That I am.” His appropriately-bone-white hand plucked a rag off the back shelf and began to wipe down a spare mug with it, click-clack-click-clack-click-clack.

She tried again. “So, if I can ask… why are you a skeleton?”

“Don’t much know m’self, miss. Sometimes things just happen.” He tapped a fingerbone on the stark-white china pate that was his forehead. Was that what you would call it now? Maybe it was a forebone. Kay didn’t know. Kay really, really didn’t know.

Her eyes flicked down to the mug still in front of her. Oh no. “Oh my god, you- you put some kind of drug in here, didn’t you-“

“Miss, it’s water. You saw me fillin’ it with your own two eyes. Plus, ain’t those your friends or coworkers or what have you over at the pool table? ‘Twouldn’t be much use for me to try anything when they’d jump down my throat the minute anything went funny.” He tilted his head, raising an eyebrow that wasn’t there anymore. “Plus – I may be nothin’ but bones, but that just ain’t right.”

“Okay. Water then. Right.” She took a shuddering breath, closed her eyes, and counted to five. One, two, three, four, don’tbeaskeletondon’tbeaskeletondon’tbea-

Still a skeleton. A kind of faint whimpering noise escaped her mouth. The bartender shrugged. “I am sorry about this. It ain’t ever easy seein’ someone get turned into a stack a’ bones right in front of ya, I know. But ‘twasn’t a thing I could do about it. These things happen, y’know?”

“No, no, no, I don’t know,” she said, her voice turning more than a little desperate. “I don’t know that people turn into skeletons sometimes. Are you dead? Oh god, am I dead?”

“Probably and probably not,” he replied. He tilted his head again and clicked his teeth together in thought. “Well, actually, I’m probably not dead either. So probably not on both fronts.”

“If I scream, are people going to look over and see a normal bartender?”

“Wouldn’t surprise me. ‘S how these things work, don’t they? Trouble comes outta nowhere, lands right in your lap, and minute you try to offload it on someone else it slips out the back porch, and you wind up lookin’ like a crazy person. ‘What,’ they ask, ‘is possibly the matter? I don’t see the trouble.’”

She leaned forward. “Mister Skeleton, please don’t start giving me life advice right now, I think I might be about to pass out.”

“Drink some water then. No point in gettin’ all worked up about it. You gotta roll with the punches, right?”

“Look, my boss reassigned my account this morning. My deadbeat brother took my car and didn’t say when he’d be back. My girlfriend’s not answering her texts, my dog’s vet bill is three times more than I thought it would be, and now my bartender’s turned into a skeleton. I think I’m allowed to stop rolling by now.”

He shrugged, his collarbones swinging up and down like a see-saw. “Alright, alright, I follow ya. But this is what I’m sayin’, y’see? Can’t just let it all get ya down. Ya gotta take it head on. Skull on, in my case.”

Kay grabbed the glass of water off the bar and began to chug it. Don’t think about the skeleton don’t think about the skeleton don’t think about it just finish the water, get up, go play pool, give Jen another text, go home, call the vet, send Jim an e-mail, get Mom to call Ted just don’t think about the skeleton.

She gasped and slammed the mug back onto the bar. The bartender took it. “Y’want another round?”

Primly, she stood, grabbed her purse, turned 180 degrees on her heel, and walked off towards the pool table. Behind the bar, the skeleton clacked his teeth together a few times.

Sometimes you just got those customers you had to turn into a skeleton to help out.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Ride

By Tyler
The last time I went home, I didn’t drive
I was on a flight from JFK to Oakland, only the stars and this fat, bald businessman to share my thoughts
Round trip.
I hate flying to Oakland because Oakland is where you go
When you’re down to get shot, or stabbed, or mugged after taking the wrong turn from Candlestick
At nighttime.

Here’s the scene
It’s a pretty, slim white kid in a deep black v, deep black Levi’s 501s
Super skinny.
And he’s standing at Baggage, waiting for this slow ass conveyer belt like the one in the Pink Floyd
To give him his deep black v’s, his deep black Levi’s 501’s, supper skinny
At nighttime.

The same boys had gotten tougher, started smoking weed and bumping Trinidad James now
The same girls had gotten hotter, asses thick as Game of Thrones subplots now
Same old shit
There was the same bowling alley where my parents met, not far from the flat on Lafayette Street
My dad, average height and lean but good looking as hell, with perfect hair
At nighttime.

He aged a lot in the thirty years since that bowling alley
Not like my mom, beautiful as ever, who still hasn’t aged a damn day
Good genes
My dad, on the other hand, gained a shitton of weight, enough that
Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, 6’1 and 126 pounds, I still hope “not that much.”
In the mornings.

I had to leave right after that because
I didn’t quite have the money for the Cali lifestyle right then
Not after the split.
Dad bailed, buying Ace of Spades champagne and Kentucky Straight equally with my college fund
While Mom brought in obscene amounts of cash working taxes for farmers
By daytime.

By nighttime I do my thing at Starbucks, at Panera Bread
Working up culinary talents and winking, smiling, getting numbers of girls I met along the way.
Mainly hipsters.
Saving up enough cash so that next time, I don’t have to fly back home to Cali from New York
Or from the American South, from below the Mason Dixon line.
But drive.

Maybe in that ’58 Vette I bought off my uncle a couple years ago
Old, paintless piece of shit now with a ’76 Firebird’s engine, but it’ll be worth something someday
More than it already is.
God willing, I’ll get her restored and I’ll drive her out to Cali
Who knows, really, with the price of gas being what it is
Here’s hoping.

I’ll drive it out west, back home for real this time
Along the way I’ll pick up one of the best guys I ever knew and we’ll tear down to the Bay
God willing.
He’s from the Valley, probably rich as shit, always racing with me to see who’s got more prettyboy swag
Kinda like Marty McFly, if McFly was a douche who waxed poetic about himself instead of inventing rock
And roll.

I’ll see if I can get a loft, or maybe even a flat like my parents
See if I can get a real job this go around, instead of some hipster ass café or bartending
Maybe writing.
I’ll keep in touch as little as I can with the people I went to school with, start anew
Or, at least, try and keep them as in the dark as possible so they don’t know
Where home really is.

I want to start anew
It’s a subtle theme for me, in all my writing, that pain and agony that comes with
Starting anew.
But when you’ve finally restarted it feels better, pure, like a baby after a diaper change
I’ll just focus on the guy, focus on the car, focus on home, focus on what will be instead of what could be
Focus on the ride.
Night Drive
By Darkon/Adrian

The thunder rolled in the distance, an angry murmur that seemed to reverberate within his skull. It accented the endless fall of rain nicely, acting as a massive resounding impact hidden behind a thousand needling blows.

The windshield was close to useless now; vision was all but impossible. All he could see wer dim shapes, no clarity and no sharpness, illuminated by the glowing yellow of his head lights.

The thunder continued to roll in the darkened sky, the bellow of titan hidden behind the clouds. It was then, as the thunder rolled and the lightning flashed, that he saw her, standing there, face hidden in shadow, a dim specter half-visible from behind his rain-soaked window.

The tires squealed in protest as he slammed on his brakes. He was acting against his will, stopping to speak to this stranger, even though he had this feeling in the pit of his stomach, this sense of dread that gnawed at his mind.

He rolled the window down a bit, ignoring the drops of water pelting his face. She stood there, on the side of the road, staring at him in terror, as if he were some demon, crawling from the abyss. She couldn’t have been older than thirteen; there was still innocence and curiosity in those gigantic brown eyes of her, though it was hidden well behind a mask of fear.

He found himself speaking, though the words sounded foreign in his mouth. “Do you need a ride?” he asked, as the sense of dread grew at an alarming rate. He almost had to roar the words, or the thunder would swallow them in its roar.

She hesitated, slinking inch by inch back into the shadows; her fear was tangible as she slinked into the protection of the pine forest behind her.

“Hey, I’ve got places to go! If you don’t want a ride, just say no!” he roared, feeling ashamed of himself for yelling at this tween girl, most likely attempting to run away from her parents after some petty argument.

She blinked once, the rain on her face mingling with her tears, but she stepped forward, and nodded carefully. He gestured to the other side of his car in reply, and rolled up the window.

She entered with a spray of water, oblivious to her mistake. Her face was thin, her eyes hidden behind a swoop of black hair, perhaps natural that color, but most likely dyed.

He tried his best to smile. She smiled in return.

As the drove on into the night, ignoring the storms, they talked on strangely personal things, though she did not notice. Where are you from? Do your parents know where you are? Where are you going?

She barely even noticed when he stopped the car, but she noticed all too well when he drew the knife.

* * *

As he laid her body down in the grass, taking care to pull the swoop of black hair away from her once-hidden eye, he smiled slightly. She was, after all, very pretty.

As he drove away, letting the winding roads lead them were they would, he couldn’t help but smile, delighted with his little ride in the night. The thunder roared in protest, and the lightning flashed in anger, but he ignored them, he ignored the needling blows of rain, and he smiled happily, the awful deed done.

Silently, he drove into the darkness, unable to contain the giggle of sinister joy.


Old Junk
By Omar/Onarax

“Alright lads, make sure that everything’s running smoothly. Where we’re going, there ain’t going to be no second chances.” The hard set man didn’t even bother to make sure everything was in order. The moment he said these words he was off, followed shortly by his comrades.

Only young Johnny was left. He still wasn’t sure what he was doing here in the first place. His father said some friend of his could use help, that friend said the same thing, and so on and so forth, before you knew it, Johnny was here, riding with the infamous Skull Riders. Cheesy name, deadly people.

Gotta get moving, can’t afford to hesitate. Johnny forced into his mind, now all that mattered was driving, the others had already faded out in the horizon. Even the dust kicked up by their rides was fading, blending in with the dry, desert sand.

Johnny cranked his accelerator, and sighed in relief as the engine purred. When he had first visited the Skull Riders they had thrown him this piece of junk and said that if he got it working he could not only join them, he could keep the bike. It was old run down chopper with the words Harley-Davidson printed on the engine casing. Johnny could only assume that had been the name of whoever last owned the vehicle.

If its looks were any indicator it had to have been from the Old Age, back before the speedy Lightrides were created, for one thing it still ran using wheels and its engine seemed to use gasoline of all things to run. Johnny doubted he could even keep up with the top of the line 40 MPH Lightrides. The max speed allowed by government anything faster were supposedly ripped the Human body to shreds.
However the moment the old bike took off dust was immediately thrown into Johnny’s eyes. The sand all around him being whipped on his face, gashes and cuts began to appear on his cheeks before Johnny finally wizened up to the fact that he should probably throw down the visor on his helmet. As soon as he could see again, Johnny decided to glance down at the meter to see how far off from 40 he was.

That can’t be right. I should be dead if it is.

Right now the meter read 50, now 60, now 70, the meter kept increasing. Heading towards a 100 located at the end of the meter. Johnny was in shock, such a thing just shouldn’t be possible, what was with this ride. What was wrong with the people of the Old Age. However as soon he began to let go of his preconceptions Johnny noticed he had already blazed past the other Skull Riders.
This is actually pretty fun. Who knew such speeds could be this exhilarating.

Johnny’s laughter took over the canyon, this was brilliant to him. Such speed was unheard of him. This ride was a piece of beauty. Johnny loved it.

40 is nothing, it’s a child’s speed. From now on this ride is my ride.


By Eyru:

She's laughing.

Sun's shining through her long blonde hair flying in the wind as we tear down the coast on a golden afternoon. I've got one hand on the wheel, one in hers, fingers entwined. Thank God I don't drive standard.

Sky's blue, the kind of blue that makes you want to take off your shirt and lie on the grass and jump into the ocean and go for frozen yogourt. Not a cloud floating, just us flying and the sky's the limit.

I take the next turn fast, hugging the line; she clutches my arm and tells me to slow down. But she's smiling; she wants to fly as much as I do. She doesn't let go.

The air feels golden, like the colour of the sun and pineapples and soft tanned skin; it smells of fresh cut grass and salt. The water glimmers in the sun like a thousand mirrors; bluer than her eyes, the eyes I could jump into and never need to come up for air.

Brighter than bright, almost painful to look at, the sun bathes the world in warmth and light. It lights up her skin, it turns her hair to spun gold. She's singing along to the radio; her teeth flash in the sun. Her favourite song. I'm sunstruck.

It's the kind of day that feels like forever and no time at all, where every second drags by faster than the last. The kind of day that leaves an ache in my chest because it's so, so beautiful and I never want it to end.

We'll get to the beach, and after we'll go for ice cream, but for now I don't want to think about the future. Right now is enough for me. The sun in my eyes, the wind in my face, and my girl at my side. Right now, all I need is this ride.


By Josh Baltarc:

In Which Lekua Does Something You Shouldn't Try at Home
I’m running through the jungle, not sprinting, not jogging, somewhere in between. A nice, sustainable pace. I know where I’m going; I know how to get there. Without missing a beat, I spring forward and fly effortlessly over a low-hanging branch. Perfectly calm, collected. In control.

Or that’s what it looks like, anyway. Inside, it’s a different story. My heart beats a thousand times faster than my pace warrants. Random bursts of half-coherent thought flash through my mind as I try to sift through everything I know, everything I’ve been taught, in preparation for what’s to come.

But none of it helps – that’s the point. You’re not supposed to know what to do. Recruits have died doing this, I realize. How am I supposed to–

I come to an abrupt halt; a step more would have sent me off the edge of the cliff. The shrieks of a hundred birds fill my ears as I peer over the edge at the flock of Kahu wheeling below. I pause, my apprehension forgotten in a moment of sheer awe at the sight.

But I know if I hesitate a moment longer I’ll never make it. I turn, back up a few steps, and then dash forward, throwing myself off the cliff. No biggie, right? Oh, yeah. Jumping off a cliff. People do this all the time.

The wind howls in my ears as I fall, ripping a scream from my throat. Not that anyone’s around to hear. Something feathery smacks against my face and I grab it, my arms nearly ripped from their sockets by the sudden jolt. Within moments, though, I somehow manage to pull myself onto the bird’s back. It clearly isn’t happy about the situation, but no way am I letting go.

This is gonna be one karzahni of a ride.


By SonicBOOM:

It was a beautiful day, with the sun shining bright rays over the entire city, not a cloud to ruin the view, the vast blue of the sky making everyone's lives a bit cheerier than usual. The city was dotted with pedestrians walking about their day, greeting each other as usual and off to their office buildings. Children sang and played and danced and watched and laughed and cried only to be consoled into singing and playing and dancing and watching and laughing.

Jared was one such child, though his cycle was a bit different: he tried to sing and play and dance and watch and laugh but only ended up messing each up. His blunders fueled the other children's laughter, and so Jared was reduced to nothing but crying and crying and crying. Eventually he stopped, so that his cycle included not one but three instances of crying before he could be consoled. And thus he tried again, only to cry thrice more.

Unlike the other children, Jared was somewhat of an outcast. His family, though well-spoken and respected, was granted a soft-spoken and shy child, a smart child, one who was lacking in nothing but motor control and attention. Oh how he craved that attention. His parents were never around to give it to him, and only his nannies could even try and help him. Of course, his nannies came and went according to his parents' personal roulette, so this Nanny of the Week had no special attachment to him.

It was on this bright and cheerful day that Jared decided he'd had enough. A six-year old boy deserved better. Especially one who knew how to multiply and divide by the numbers 1 through 10 already. And so he packed his little rucksack with candy, books, and few personal belongings which I will not go into detail here. Lastly, he grabbed his trusted stuffed panda, Jerry, and headed out the door. This Nanny of the Week wasn't particularly cautious, preferring to talk to her friends over take care of him.

He'd go on a little walk and figure out why no one liked him, maybe find a few people who might appreciate his talents. Something, anything to stop the incessant swelling of sadness inside him.

He had not gone one block when he found him. Him, who wouldn't laugh at his intellect nor ridicule his klutziness. Him, who would respect him and make him respected among others. Him, who could be his friend.

The man had a smile on his face, one of those teacher-esque smiles that invite you to come over and listen. He wasn't too old, about his father's age, and was sitting lazily. His eyes were soft and kind, and he looked as if he wouldn't hurt a fly.

He waved at Jared, beckoning him. Come over, let's talk.

Jared obeyed. Sure, why not?

“Hello, mister? Who are you?”

“Oh, nobody. A good friend of your father's, he invites me over for every party.”

“So you're not a stranger?”

“Oh no, heavens no. I meet you every time I come over. Don't you remember me?”

And suddenly Jared remembered this man, who would hold him and give him candy and ruffle his hair. He loved this man.
“Let's say you come with me for a ride in my van. That OK?”

And Jared could do nothing but agree. Taking the candy from this man's hand, he followed him into his big white van.

Oh, what a ride it would be.


By Nate/GSR:

“I mean, like, do you get it, though? This is it. This is the ride,” he said.
“Do you even listen to yourself?” she asked, inhaling.
“No, I mean, I’m serious. This is the big one, literally. After this there are no more rides. Just space dust and star crap.”
She laughed, a morbid, stuttering sound. “You have such a poetic take on the end of the world.”
“Come on, though. Big old asteroid here tomorrow? All of humanity, down the drain, save maybe a
couple dozen billionaires and presidents who are begging NASA to throw everything they’ve got on a
rocket and pray? That means that today, today is literally the most free day we, as a species, ever could have.”
“We’re going to die, Mark,” she replied. “Probably very painfully.”
“Yes, I know, and until then we’re going to live. Come on. Clock’s ticking. Twenty-four hours, what do you wanna do?”
“Spend a quiet, reflective few hours with my friends and family.”
He sucked air in through his teeth. “Fantastic. Except your mother’s been dead for thirteen years, your dad’s doing a life sentence – hey, those are pretty short now – for causing that state of affairs, and I’m the only friend you have in about a thousand miles, because you picked the weekend before the world found out it was going to die to fly out to Australia for your research project.”
“Why are you still talking?”
“’Cause if I stop you’ll probably start crying or something like that.”
She slugged him for that. “Dick.”
“Am I wrong?”
“Yes, you are. If I was going to cry I’d have done it when I found out I was going to be slag in thirty six hours, not after the only guy I know with a bag of weed in a thousand miles gave me the fattest blunt I’ve ever had and quite certainly ever will have in my life.”
“Okay then, you’re not crying. Cool. I like it. Let’s go for the ride.”
She laughed again. “The ride. You want to spend your last day on Earth – the last day of Earth – on a
road trip.”
“Wrong!” he said, rolling over and raising a finger. “I want to spend it on the road trip. The last road
trip. One guy, one girl, a Jeep, the outback, the stars, and some extremely good drugs. This is the stuff dreams are made of, Annie.”
“You have shitty dreams.”
“You have a potty mouth, and no respect for Hunter S. Thompson,” he replied. He waved at the Jeep,
sitting a few dozen feet in front of them, abandoned in the research outpost’s parking lot. “Come on.
You know why this is going to be the ride? Because it never ends.”
“I’m pretty sure it ends when the giant ball of rock falls out of the sky and squishes us.”
“No, see, you’ve got it all wrong still,” he said, waving his arms. “Any other day, any other day you
could’ve driven off in the desert, but one day it had to end. You’d turn around so you didn’t miss your flight. You’d hit the other edge of the outback and start running into roads and cars. No, not today. Today we are free. Free, free, free, and I don’t know about you but speeding across the dirt, surrounded by mountains I’d never seen before, wind rushing through my hair? That sounds like my way to exit.”
“What if we hit a rock and flip over and break our necks or some stupid shit like that?”
He shrugged. “Then we don’t have to worry about hospital bills.”
She took another drag and exhaled, a long, shaky breath. She glanced upwards at the stars twinkling
overhead. One of them – everyone knew which one – was moving. Shining bright. Coming to the end of its own little ride.
She stared at it for a long time.
Annie flipped on her shades and slammed the door. In the passenger seat, Mark grinned.
“Hit it,” he said.
She hit it.

Sunday, June 23, 2013



By Alex Humva

Another lab rat to the waste bin. He picked up a syringe, listening briefly as lightning crackled outside, thunder shaking the whole house for a moment. Then he carried on, oil lamp swinging overhead as the summer storm blew threw the window. He preferred the fresh air to work in; it was refreshing, something to keep his mind from becoming too stressed. Stress meant mistakes. Mistakes meant failure. He certainly had enough of that to go around right now. He dumped the poor, dead, creature into the trash, its limp form joining several dozen of its comrades. The process had been repeated a dozen times now; why wasn't it working?

He walked to his desk, sitting down and gazing into the various test tubes and flasks filled with varying liquids. He had to isolate just the right mixture, the precious concentrations of a dozen some chemical substances. Thousands of different combinations; what would work? Would it work at all? He wasn't so certain, but he had to try. It was his only chance at proving everyone else wrong, after all. He muttered to himself, some obscenities to those who had tried to hold his work back. Didn't anyone see the potential in it? The dead did not care what happened to their bodies, nor would the dying, soon enough. He was trying to help the world, couldn't anyone see that?

He extracted a new mixture, then pulled out another rat. The pitiful creature squirmed, but it couldn't escape. He pricked it with the needle, the dose going directly into its system. Then he sat it down, and waited. Waited for a sign of success.

The creature convulsed, twitching back and forth as its very body was transformed. A tentacle sprung out of it, then two, then three, then a whole, writhing mass. It lost its fur as its skin turned a hideous dark gray, blotchy and oozing with slime.

Oh, success.


By Josh Baltarc

Quick. Clean. Efficient. Thats how I do things, because thats just what works best. And I do what works best because I am the best. Simple as that. Bang bang.

Speaking of bang bang, thats the sound my weapon is making as I pull it away from some guys head. Who is he? Doesnt matter. What matters is that he was supposed to be dead. And now he is. No mess. Flawlessly executed. Like I said, clean.

Now comes the quick part. Well, I actually did part of that part already. You just didnt see it, cause youre apparently not as quick as I am. But that doesnt really matter now, I guess. What does matter is where I am. Its some skyscraper. Cant tell you which one, sorry. But Im on the roof, and so is the dead guy. But who cares about him.

I step back into the stairwell, taking the steps two at a time all the way to the ground floor. Because honestly, who uses elevators? Those things are like freaking cages, man, steel cages suspended by a bit of metal string over a thousand-foot drop to your death. Elevators. Bad.

Anyway, like I said, Im on the ground floor. I slip out the stairwell door and weave my way through the lobby, fast enough to get out of there but not so fast to attract attention. Obviously. Who do you think I am?

A bus is pulling up just outside the building as I shove through the revolving door. I knew it would be there. Thats kind of the point. I hop on. Another efficient elimination. Ha. Alliteration. Bang bang.


By Nuile/Harvey Caldwell

Tick . . . Tock . . . Tick . . . Tock . . .

I opened one eye drowsily, peering into the gloom. What was that noise?

Tick . . . Tock . . . Tick . . . Tock . . .

I sat up, rubbed my eyes, scrutinized the clock. Half-past three A.M.

Tick . . . Tock . . . Tick . . . Tock . . .

With a splitting yawn I stumbled to my feet. I reached above my head to yank the pantleg of my roommates pajamas.

Did you leave the television on again?

Hunnngh?A head popped up, swiveled around, garbled something about chessmen, and fell over once more.

Tick . . . Tock . . . Tick . . . Tock . . .

I stumbled down the hall, lighting lights to banish the shadows as I went. That was a voice, and a monotonous one, at that. But where could it be coming from?

In the living room, I leaned low over the television with the attentive examination of an inebriate before deciding it was thoroughly off. I sought the radio in the kitchen.

Tick . . . Tock . . . Tick . . . Tock . . .

Wearing the radio like an earmuff, I judged it silent. The battery case broke open as I tossed it back on the counter, ticked. Still the sound. Where the

The lights flickered like possessed fireflies. I waited for them to calm down again, but they didnt. Whatever capricious demon had taken control of them wasnt going to let gountil they did.


Tick . . . Tock . . . Tick . . . Tock . . .

Now in the dark, I felt my way back toward the bedroom, muttering under my breath. Maybe the sound was my roommate talking in his sleep and I hadnt realized it . . .

Tick . . . Tock . . . Tick . . . Tock . . .

What was going on? The logic of this groggy mind was not up to the task. I could only wish it had been.

Tick . . . Tock . . . Tick . . . Tock . . .

Your time has come . . .

A shiver ran up my spine.

Tock?I whispered. Is that you?

Tick—”came a shrill voice from the bedroom.

I broke into a run, bashing against walls and unseen furniture as I rushed back to the room. But when I arrived, it was too late.

Tick . . . Tock . . . Tick . . . Tock . . .

The room was empty.

Your time has come . . .


By Ilyusha Brockway

Loking through the scope of his rifle, Marfoir watched the Matoran he was due to kill go about his business. Short, stocky, with a black Rau on a tan face; the trader was named Akhmou, and his service was soon to be over. Marfoir had been watching the Matoran for the last three days, plotting down his general actions, every day.7:00 AM: Wake up, eat breakfast

8:00 AM: Set up stand, commence trade for next eight point five hours.

4:30 PM: Head to home on outskirts of town, going to small workshop in back, work for next few hours.

8:30 PM: Call it a day.

The Matoran did very little besides this, each day. On Monday, he'd spoken with a Toa. Marfoir had listened in on the conversation, bouncing the sounds back off of a hard stone plaque that the Matoran had made. Marfoir had been hoping to learn something useful from this, though all he'd learned was that the Toa was broke and would have to pay Akhmou back some other day.

Getting in debt...what a fool, Marfoir had thought. He'd said he could come back within the week. That had been two days ago.

Hopefully he wouldn't come back too soon. Marfoir checked his taskpad, turning away from the scope. 4:10 PM. Time to move. Marfoir put the scope back in its case, with the rest of the rifle; he wouldn't need it after this.

By 4:20, he was at the Matoran's home, hidden near the entrance to the workshop. Ten minutes until the kill. Marfoir had none of his weapons on him, now, besides a knife; they were all hidden at his hideout farther out in the desert. The only other item he carried was a waterskin, a towel, and a special project that Marfoir had been working on over the last two days, one that would be necessary for the murder.

Ten minutes of waiting and Akhmou arrived, unlocking and opening the workshop, leaving the door open, as he always did. He wanted to hear if anybody was coming, so he could quickly head out to help them. Soon, he'd be unable to do that. Marfoir quickly came up behind the Matoran, his knife quickly flashing at Akhmou's throat, the towel moving quickly to catch the blood that flowed out from the Matoran's jugular vein.

"Shh, shh," the Vortixx murmured, while the Matoran he held slowly died. "Let go, Akhmou, let go. Your time in this world is done, now be free..."

He slowly lowered the Po-Matoran to the ground, slipping the item that Marfoir had been working on into his hands, giving him time to look at it before he died. An item whose brothers Marfoir had grown familiar with when he first joined the team he worked for, getting to look over one for his first assignment.

A small tablet, with three Matoran letters carved into it, one that had been a staple at various murders for a while, now.


The Garbage-Man

By Nick/Grantaire

Were there tears in my eyes when I let you fall, you must wonder, or was that just me rubbing my eyes from weariness?

I suppose I could ask myself that question every night, but I dont. I used to. When I was no more than a boy and when I had a heart: when seeing the sick or the suffering made me want to help them.

But poverty is poverty, and a community just cant bear access waste. So they chose me to remove it. Why? Because I threw both my aging parents over a cliff, one after another and they too feeble to even run. A year later my brother went as well: too crippled to work. He had to go. Things like that dont go beneath notice: its against the rules of our community, but who is there to enforce it and who cares to? Only if theres real threat will the men stir.

It was the aunt of one of my childhood friends this time: Id seen her growing up, a sweet lady who was always kind to me. I guess her loving nephew couldnt bear to kill her himself, so he had me do it.

I dont mind any more. Now when I peer down into the fog-filled gulf its more to wonder what happens to all the bodies tossed down there than to mourn what Ive just done. Its custom for generations: so much custom that its legality is never even thought of. But no one wants to do it, no one except for those people who honestly dont give a damn.

People like me.

Maybe I don’t like it, but I don’t grumble about it: someone has to rid our community of its dead weight, and it might as well be me.


By SonicBOOM

It's a magical world, ain't it?

I get a thrill whenever I do this. Of course, I'm not your conventional hitman. Most sane people wouldn't even consider me that, they'd refer to me as a butcher. Except I don't butcher meat. I butcher people.

It's a thrill, getting my blade into someone's throat. Hacking open their jugular. Slicing open their bodies and shredding every one of their vital organs. Oh, that gives me shivers down my spine. It's so good.

And right now, I'm about to do it on my biggest target.

This country's been in a bad position right now, and while I don't particularly like politics, I have enough sense of the stuff to say that much. There's a tumor, growing, growing, just ready to engulf the entire nation and drive it to its knees.

I was hired to remove that tumor. You might have guessed it was a major politician I had to erase. You'd have guessed right. Don't do that in the future or I may have to gut you too.

On second thought, do it. I want to gut you.

I'm walking in, heavy security everywhere. Can't bust out the big guns right now. Or blades. Whatever fits your bill. Point is, I can't. Not in this building.

It's Washington D.C, 1 AM, pitch black outside but not inside. People are walking everywhere, walking past huge guys with thick sunglasses and bodies straight from a male model magazine. And suits. Don't forget those.

I honestly wonder why people don't pick more cleaver-resistant uniforms.

So far, somehow, no one's noticed me. That's good, it means I'm still in my prime. Or rather, that my cloak is. I'm just gonna walk over to this vent over here, pry it open, get in, and chuck the thing around like a ghost's holding it. One or two handmaids faint, thinking it's a ghost. A security guy gets smashed in the head and joins them in dreamland.

That's when the whole thing blows over. Oh the chaos I love causing.

I'm in my vent, knowing this wasn't the plan. I was supposed to get a simple kill on my target. But a tumor spreads to other cells. Getting rid of one cell won't get rid of the others. I need to get rid of the whole thing. And by the end of the night, I will.

Bingo, right door. I kick it open and drop down, taking down a desk as I go. There he is, still half-undressed, his wife right next to him screaming. They were getting ready to leave. I'll make sure they'll stay.

I take my cloak off. No point killing if I don't let them know who did it, right?

The guy gets a fear in his eyes, a familiar fear.

“Don't. Please. I have children and a country to run! Don't do this!”

But why would I not?

My cleaver's out, he's looking at it. The wife's crying now, going to get her kids to safety.

Before I kill him, I say one word.


And by then the core, the root, the President knows it's too late.

I tear into his body, ravaging it, cleaving it open and destroying everything. Think of the most mutilated body you've seen and multiply it by 10 in value. You'll get my handiwork.

The wife's pulled out a handgun. They haven't banned those yet. Guess what, lady? Cleavers fly too.

She figures that out after she's dead, her head severed from her body. I leave her, having a strict policy against women. As do most hitmen. Don't ask, or I'll have to murder you. Only kill, don't mutilate.

By then the whole White House is in panic. I set out to calm everyone down, my cleaver glistening with blood.

And an hour later, everything's silent. The Red House is in flames too.

I'm a scientist, and I just found the cure for cancer. I'm a doctor, and I just cured the cancer. I'm a savior, a hero, and I just saved the world.

I've eliminated the tumor.

I got my pay.

I saved the country.

But more than that, I had fun. So much fun.

It's a magical world, ain't it?