#ThursThreads Week 239: Nothing Has Been Done Yet

I looked at the picture of the victim. She’d been a pretty girl. She’d been tied to a telephone pole, gagged so she could make no sound, then slowly murdered. Painfully murdered. All her pretty had been taken away. “Has anything been done on this case?” I asked, though I knew the answer.

“A transgender victim?” Officer S. Morgan sat at her desk and brought up the case record on her screen. “No.” She looked up at me. “Nothing has been done yet.” I watched her turn pale. I knew why. After all, I am the violence.

I didn’t ask where the crime scene was. I didn’t have to. The computers in my armor, and in my car, already had informed me. “Nothing?” I looked at her, and watched her grow more pale. “How long had she been dead before she was found?”

“It…” Officer Morgan grew more pale as she looked at me. “Seventeen hours.”

“So, she was left on display as a warning?”

Officer Morgan couldn’t speak.

I walked out of the precinct office, and returned to my car. Once there, I pressed a button on the dash, “17. Going fishing.” I turned on the car, and headed to the hotel I had elected to stay in while in town. As I drove, I had the car search publicly available information about the victim. I’d start with the people who lived near her, in the same building. I’d end with the police force.

Something would be done. Very soon.

250 words.
Mark Ethridge (I’m not on twitter)


I’ve decided to experiment with an Armor 17 story starting with Week 239 of #ThursThreads. As always, #ThursThreads is hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

#DiceGames3 : “Anywhere?” she murmured, “I can go anywhere?”

I know. I know. I can manipulate matter at the subatomic level. I can literally turn lead into gold by moving around protons, neutrons, and electrons. So, you ask why I would do this. Why would I care what a child on some backwater planet in a dwarf galaxy somewhere in a dark void in the universe dreams about, and wishes for.

Obviously, you haven’t lived too long. Far too long. You don’t know what that wish means.

I heard her. I’ll call it one night, as if when I heard her matters. I heard her when the world on which she lives had rotated so that she was on the side facing away from the start that world orbited. So, yes. I heard her one night.

“I wish I could see the universe.”

It’s a wish I’ve heard a trillion children make. At least a trillion. Isn’t it a wish all children make? To see the universe. To travel among the stars. To see other worlds, other people, other life forms, other galaxies. To know they aren’t alone in this universe. To make new friends.

To grow.

I’ve frequently wondered why adults no longer make such wishes. Even children know such wishes can’t come true. They know about the vast distances between the stars, about how many millions of years it takes to move from one galaxy to another. But they wish anyway. What happens to them as they grow that they stop making wishes?

I heard her one night.

“I wish I could see the universe.”

Did I mention she’d been bullied in school that day? I’d tell you the bully’s name, but it’s in a language you’ve never heard, and a frequency range your ears can’t even hear. He pulled her hair. So hard it hurt. And she cried. And the other children laughed. “Crybaby! Crybaby!”

She made a wish.

I heard.

She was surprised to see me. I can well imagine that. I don’t exactly look like her people look. For one thing, I’m only six feet tall by our standards of measure. She was 12 years old in her people’s time, and stood seven feet tall by that same measure. You would have thought her ugly. Kind of like a walking tree, with moss on it. In truth, she was a very pretty girl among her people.

She’d never seen anyone who looked like me.
“Who are you?” Of course she had to ask that. Doesn’t everyone?

“No one of any importance.” I’d learned long ago to speak in the language of the other person. After all, not everyone learned American English from a people that died out a couple of billion years ago.

“How did you get here?”

“The same way I can take you wherever you wish to go.” I waved my arm, and images of other worlds formed an arc through the air of her room. “Just ask. Wish. And I’ll take you anywhere.”

“Anywhere?” she murmured, “I can go anywhere?”

“You made a wish, didn’t you?”

She nodded.

And that, young ones, is how the adventure started.

Seven

“It was one thing for them to attack our camps, and bases. That we could live with. That we knew was coming.” John Paul looked up at the stars, and the moon, “But, they’ve been attacking more and more. Even places where we aren’t.” He raised his hands to God, “Why? Please, tell me why?”

God didn’t need to answer because John Paul knew the answer. No life was sacred to Satan’s minions. They’d do anything, kill anyone. They’d lash out blindly, like they had.

“We did our part, Father! We did what we had to do. We cleaned them out. We got rid of them. The devils. The demons. Those disguised as humans, the transgender monsters, the faggots, the vile Muslims.” It took everything he had not to cry. “We even put the animal niggers back in their place!” His heart was breaking, and he knew it. “And then they attacked.”

John Paul had made the long journey home from Norfolk. He’d received the phone call two weeks earlier. “You need to get here.” It was a call all his brothers in God’s Army knew too well. The call no one wanted to hear.

The bare, burned ground was hard, and cold against his knees, even through his pants. He hadn’t been able to stand since he’d arrived, however many hours ago that had been. He could make out the charred remains of the carriage of his mobile home. Along with pieces of his truck, scattered about.

His home was gone. His wife. His child. Gone. All that was left was ashes.

John Paul couldn’t imagine the nightmare it had been. The absolute silence of the darkness before the dawn, when even the crickets were silent, and the birds were all asleep. Everyone asleep, resting, getting ready to work the next day. He’d told her not to help. Told her it was dangerous to make the chemical packets the drones delivered against God’s enemies. Told her Satan’s minions would come for her, and all the neighbors.

He couldn’t imagine the sound of the sky being torn in half as the unmanned aircraft had flown just above the trees, faster than any human possibly could, with its computer guidance system guiding it, and adjusting its course 100,000 times a second. He wondered if his family even heard the sound.

John Paul couldn’t imagine the flash of light as the drone sent a video guided missile into his home. He couldn’t imagine the sound of the trailer’s roof being torn asunder as the missile collided with it, then passed through it, like a bullet through the side of a soda can.

And he couldn’t imagine the sound, the light, the smoke, the fire, the shock wave, when the missile then exploded.

“I pray they died in their sleep, Father.” He stared at his hands as they shook.

“I have nothing left, Father.” He wouldn’t cry. Only weak men cried. Only Satan’s minions cried. He heard the words of God once more, “There is a time for peace, and a time for war.”

He stayed on his knees. It didn’t matter how long. He couldn’t move.

It wasn’t until the sun began to rise that he knew what he had to do. The same thing that had happened in other strongholds of Satan’s armies. Where brave, Christian soldiers, men of God, did what had to be done to defeat Lucifer. He felt his strength returning.

“There is something at work in my soul,” John Paul looked at the sun as it rose above the horizon. “And you know what it is, Father.” He looked to the heavens once more. “Tell my family, my only child, and my beloved wife. Tell them I’ll be with them soon.”

He placed a call to his superiors. “I want to hand deliver a package to Norfolk, Virginia.”

“You know the procedure,” was all the response he received, before the line went dead.

It wouldn’t be long before he crossed back into Virginia, and returned to the Norfolk Naval Station. But this time, John Paul would carry a package in his backpack. When the time and place were right, he’d explode that package. He’d die in the explosion. He knew that.

The explosion would spread the contents of the package, and kill everyone demon within 50 miles of him, when he died. And each demon would die horribly, in agony, as their cells began exploding. One at a time.

It’s what Lucifer’s children deserved.

—–

Mark (I’m not on twitter anymore)
745 words


This is my entry into the Monster Mash 2016 writing challenge over at Ink After Dark. Thanks to Ruth Long, Cara Michaels, and Laura James for hosting the challenge. Please, by all means, visit Ink After Dark, and read the other entries in Monster Mash 2016.

#DiceGames3 : A Fire, A Teddy Bear, A Hidden Treasure

Teddy Smaug stood on the bed in the middle of the night while Princess Bree slept. It was his job to guard the greatest treasure on Earth, the future ruler of a family, the future queen of a household, the future mother of the heirs to the kingdom. Teddy Smaug smiled as he guarded the priceless princess, and a wisp of smoke escaped his smile and left a curl in the air.

A cute curl of smoke, as it should be, in case Princess Bree woke unexpectedly, and saw it. “Has to be cute, so I don’t scare the princess. Always have to make the princess happy.”

Teddy Smaug was so proud to have been reborn to such a purpose.True, he was no longer a giant, armored dragon, with razor sharp talons, and teeth. True no one looked at him and cringed in fear, or prayed to escape his wrath with their lives. But he was OK with that.

“I’m a fire-breathing teddy bear.” His black circle eyes searched the darkness for any threats to the princess. “The knight of the realm.” He studied the floor all around the bed, moving carefully to not wake the princess. “A beloved hero.” He gazed upon Princess Bree. “Protector of the future of the kingdom.”

It was nice to be huggable. To be the one the princess picked up, and hugged when she was happy, and laughing. To hear the stories the princess told of all the things that made her happy. “I’ll never tell your secrets to anyone, Princess. Though they torture me, or flay my soft, fuzzy hide from my tiny body.”

It was a gift from the Universe when the princess was sad, and picked him up, and hugged him, and buried her face in his tummy, and cried her heart out. “I know. Oh, how I know how hard it is to grow up in this nasty world. And I will always be here when you need me. To protect you. And keep you safe from all the dragons, and the black knights.”

He returned to his post beside the pillow on which she rested her head. He blew a smoke ring to make sure his flames were ready if he should need them. He carefully checked each of his tiny claws. “That cat has nothing on me! Ha!” He did have to admit, though, it was certainly tough to let the cat throw him around, and claw away at him. “The things I have to do to remain hidden, so the king and queen won’t notice me.” That was the unspoken law of the guardian of the princess. He must remain hidden, unnoticed by his charge, and by the king and queen. He must be invisible to them. Just a fuzzy, cuddly, little girl’s teddy bear.

It was only as the princess grew, both in stature, and in age, that he could reveal himself. It would take years, but he knew from the long history of the Teddy Bear Knights of the Realm, all Teddy Bears wound up beloved protectors, and friends, of the princesses they defended with their lives. Teddy Smaug looked forward to the day when he was old, maybe with an eye missing, or glued on, with carefully added stitches to close his busted seams here and there. And maybe even a patch. All signs of a successful knighthood. And always, such bears were the most loved of all by their Princesses.

And when the princess became a queen, he would be able to pass on the torch of knighthood to another Teddy Bear Knight who would protect the next princess in the family.

No. Teddy Smaug was not a fierce and mighty dragon any more. He was a beloved Teddy Bear Knight. And he spent that night, as he spent all nights, watching over the most priceless, hidden treasure of the King and Queen. The Princess Bree.

#DiceGames3 : Wake Me Up When I’m Famous

Marty shook his head as he looked at his truck. The back left tire was flatter than the state of Iowa. “Damn,” was all he could think, over and over, “Damn, damn, damn.” He studied the one inch wide, foot long piece of wood trim that jutted from the tire’s remains. “How?” It made no sense how a piece of wood he could bend with his fingers had been able to pierce the tire’s sidewall. “Damn, damn, damn.”

There was nothing he could do save haul the jack out from under the front seat, and lower the spare hidden under the truck bed. Using his cell phone he called the office, “I’m gonna be a few minutes late. Got a friggin’ flat tire.”

Marty never realized how flexible a human had to be to move the front bench seat forward as far as it would go, then lower the seat back, then lean over the bench seat, and reach under it to the jack that was clipped to the floor beneath the seat. He tugged at the clip. Then pulled at the clip. Then tried reaching the clip with both hands. More than once the silly thing half opened, then snapped shut when his fingers played out. It took him seven tries, but he finally heard the clip unlatch with a rather disturbing, “Crack!”

The damn clip had come apart, and he was staring at half of it, sitting in his hand. “Damn-it!” He threw the remains of the clip out of his truck, not caring at all where they landed, grabbed the jack, and pulled it free.

Then he realized he had to find the wrench that went with the jack, so he could jack the truck up, and unbolt the wheel. He climbed back under the bench seat. It wasn’t there. He stared at the jack. It had pictures on one side. The first showed the clip opened the other way than he’d tried. The second showed the wrench pulled from the jack, then the jack placed under the truck. He knew from the pictures the jack had to be carefully positioned to keep from damaging the truck body as he raised it up.

After studying the jack for what felt like hours, he finally saw the wrench wedged through the hinge openings in the jack. “Funny damn place to put that,” he mumbled. He grabbed the end of the wrench, and wanked.

“Ow! Fuck!” He stared at his index finger and thumb, as blood started slowly leaking from the torn skin on them. “God, damn-it!” That’s when he figured out picture that showed where the wrench was also illustrated how the wrench was locked in place by the jack until the jack was manually loosened by twisting the raising mechanism. “Stupidest damn thing I’ve ever seen!”

Marty twisted the mechanism a half turn. The wrench fell out. He glared at it as it rested in the driveway, then he wiped the blood of his thumb and finger on his pants leg. That’s when he realized he needed to change pants for work.

“I never knew how low to the ground this thing was.” Marty practically had to get on his back to see the notches on the bottom of the truck bed the jack was supposed to attach to. He carefully positioned the jack, then started raising away. He noticed the jack missed the notches when the metal started to bend.

Marty lowered the jack. Then, left it beneath the truck, the wrench still attached to the mechanism. He went inside, washed his hands, put bandages on his torn skin, grabbed a bottle of his favorite beer, and sat down before the TV.

“If ever there was a time when life sent me a message and told me not to go to work, then this is it.” He called the office, and explained he’d torn up his hand while trying to fix his flat, and wouldn’t make it to work that day. Then, he tuned the TV to the sports channel, chugged his beer, kicked off his shoes, and propped up his feet.

He stared at the replays of the good plays from last nights game, and felt himself drifting off to sleep, which struck him as a good thing. As he faded, he looked at the ceiling. “God. Wake me up when I’m famous, and don’t have to put up with this kind of shit.”

I Fall

I spread my arms as I fall.
Like useless wings.
Fingers gripping nothing.
Then reaching once again for something
Anything
To hold.

And I fall.

I don’t know how far.
I don’t know how long.
I know I’ll never see the ground
As it approaches.
If the ground is even there.

There is no breeze.
No movement of the air
As I fall through it.
Though it flows past me.
Between my fingers.
Through my hair.
I feel nothing.
As if there is no air there.
No air at all.

It’s there, thought.
The air.
Because I still breathe.
I breathe in.
I breathe out.
I feel my lungs fill with air.
I feel my heart beat.
I feel my pulse.
I’m still alive.
Breathing as I fall.

I know there’s air.
Yet I feel nothing.
Nothing at all.

I move my arm.
Hold my hand before my face.
I can’t see it
In the dark.
I can’t see anything.
But black.

There is the night.
When the sun has set.
And the gentle light of stars
Fills the sky.
And you can watch the clouds move
The stars come and go.

But not here.
Not in the dark.
There’s no light.
No light at all.

I wonder
Will it hurt when I hit the ground?
Will I feel anything?
Or will I just be numb.
Locked in oblivion.

Will my bones break.
Shatter.
Turn to splinters.
Will I feel anything?
Or will I just be numb.
Locked in this dark
Oblivion.

And I hear that whisper
In my mind.
The one I’ve heard so many times.
That echoes endlessly.

“Let me be numb.”

So I don’t have to feel anything.
So I won’t know
When I reach the ground.
Won’t know
How long I fall.
Won’t know
Anything at all.

Then I wonder.
How do I know I’m falling
When I can’t feel anything at all?
When the air
Does not move past me?
And the ground never comes?
How do I know?

Perhaps I’m not moving at all.
Just hanging.
In empty space.
In nothing.
In the dark.
Waiting for the ground
That may never come.

Or maybe
Everything is falling.
Even the ground.
The air.
And that’s why nothing moves.

But something inside me knows.
Senses.
Feels.
The ground lies somewhere below.
Hidden in the dark.
And I will reach it sometime.

Somehow I know.
I’m falling
Through the darkness.
With my arms spread.
Like useless wings.
And my fingers grasping at nothing.

Waiting for the ground
To arrive.