Free writing 45: Board game night in n-space

“That’s not how you do it,” Timothy laughed, and took the device away from Martha.

He punched a code into it, and slowly withdrew his hands so that it hung stationary in the air.  The others looked on with vague anticipation.  Except for Martha, who scowled and rubbed the burn spot on her hand.

“Go,” Timothy said.

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Free writing 44: Aggar, Rifus, Brile, and Brither

(Content warning: blood)

The magistrate deliberated with his counsel for a few minutes, before returning to the court to declare that there would be a duel.  The onlookers seated around him were uproariously excited: executions were good, quick fun, but a duel could be an afternoon’s entertainment.  Plaintiff and defendant both grimaced and sank at the shoulders.  Both cast shamed but also furious glances at one another as armed soldiers dragged them from their benches to prepare.

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Free writing 43: Chase


Mathis turned his vehicle around with a screech.  His pursuer couldn’t stop in time to avoid skidding past him then, in the middle of the street, and Mathis got a quick but good look inside their cockpit.  He didn’t recognize the hard-faced woman who spared a quick glance across at him as she worked the breaks to try and repeat his maneuver to keep on his tail.  She wasn’t one of the surveillance agents he had shaken in the Raxim bubble.  That didn’t tell him much, but had it been one of them, he could have assumed they weren’t on their own turf.  With this woman, he didn’t know.  He for sure wasn’t on his.

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Free writing 42: Red Kid

News that somebody was trying to get into the vault again spread seemingly instantaneously, like many-branched lightning, and people gathered to see.  Some of them, certainly, in the hopes of seeing the impossible feat accomplished, see what was discovered inside before it was inevitably raided and emptied within minutes.  Others definitely just wanted to see the consequences of this ambitious young safe cracker’s failure.  Because it was always a failure, and it was usually spectacular.

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Free writing 41: 1Batt brings flowers

1Batt hated going downtown, because it meant taking a pillar.  Otherwise it would be a long, treacherous walk that more often than not would involve taking shelter in some run-down old building or other while a storm or a mob rolled through.  Which wasn’t so bad – they liked the solitude – but it usually made it a three-day ordeal, just to deliver some flowers.  A pillar from their home in the outer ring of the city got them there in just a few hours, but the creatures were talkative, and they loved batts.

Nevertheless, they loaded the day’s several urgent bouquets into their back holster and scuttled out to the pillar landing, to climb up and take a seat near its head.  Antennae flexed at their scent and the great larva rolled into motion.

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Free writing 40: The hole in Geoffrey’s yard

Over the course of the summer, Geoffrey had any number of plumbers, inspectors, even city officials come to examine the hole in his back yard, and none of them had any answers for him.  It wasn’t a sinkhole, or a natural gas pocket, or some old vent from the water main.  There were no chemical emissions coming from it, no carbon monoxide or methane or toxic runoff cocktail.  Just a deep hole that plunged straight down from the grass into the darkness.  By the autumn he didn’t waste his time calling anyone else, just covered it with a piece of chipboard and rolled a strip of sod over that.  It wasn’t pretty, but it also wasn’t a weird, probably lethal hazard right behind his house.

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Free writing 39: Bounty

Tasha Farmer swooped her view in to where her quarry mingled deep in a crowd.  She had found him on the seventeenth floor of Bauerdel Building A, a mecca for destination shoppers.  He didn’t seem to be shopping himself, just mingling, enjoying the crowd looking through AR models of fancy suits and dresses and listening to a fax Rat Pack sing two-hundred-year-old easy music.  He frequented places where he could do things like that, according to the information Tasha had gotten on him so far.

He did an alright job with his personal security.  Not great.

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Free writing 38: Mummies


He heard his name spoken in whispers.  His family name, the one he did not like to be called.  Did not like to be reminded of.  It was spoken in a thin, curling strand that swirled through his thoughts, from one end of his mind to the other, picking up and sifting between memories, like a brisk stream of water that eroded the sand through which it flowed.  It woke him in the night.  It stopped him in mid-sentence when he was talking to his class.  It blasted across his mind and threw him into empty fugues to which he lost hours.  Dawes.

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Free writing 37: Snail thing

On another day, he would have welcomed a storm like this one.  He enjoyed when the sky darkened and the air cooled, when the view from his window was broken up by the silvery droplets and he had something other to look out at than the dust and the distance and the spiny silhouette of the dead city beyond.  Thunderclaps were like voices, like celestial beings calling him – the boy couldn’t go to them, of course, but it was nice to imagine someone was looking for him.  Then afterward, there would be a few hours during which the dust would be weighted to the ground, and he could go out and breathe freely without having to protect his mouth and nose and eyes.  And then the plants would grow.  All the plants that ever tried to.  Of course, all that was going to be true today too, but he wasn’t going to enjoy it.  Everything he liked about storms was dependent on him staying inside.  Today he was outside.

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Free writing 36: Pylons

Sar scrambled around the corner and ran for the pylons that marked the temple’s inner sanctum, but he was too late, because Dor was there.  The enormous man stood at the threshold looking in, broad back like a sheer wooden barrier between Sar and the chambers of the clerical council.  The smaller man made a move to back away, avoid the warlord’s wrath, but the slightest pivot of the shorn head told him that was impossible, he had been detected.

“My cousin,” Dor said.  In the old, old halls his already booming voice had an extra layer of resonance.  “You’re still here?  Don’t you have flowers to tend to?”

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