Saturday, January 16, 2010
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Thursday, January 14, 2010
Shadow of a Chance
No one came to the River City docks at night, it wasn't safe. That was why no one was there to see what happened.
A cluster of automobiles that surrounded the dilapidated warehouse were sleek and classy, the men that guarded them were not. Their clothes were shabby and stained, their faces and bodies networked with prison tattoos and old scars. Each of them was armed with a brand new gun, freshly cleaned and scrubbed of any serial numbers.
Boss Aragosta and the Shellfish gang were taking no chances.
But neither was Kevin. He slipped from shadow to shadow, his body literally a wisp of darkness. One by one he knocked out the Boss's thugs, sometimes with a punch, sometimes with a headlock. It didn't matter, they never saw him coming. They were too busy expecting a rescue attack to come blazing from above.
He slithered along the pavement, a ribbon of black. This was his power and his curse- every night Kevin Raymond became a tangible silhouette with the power to become and strike from the darkness.
And that was every single night since he was a teenager whether he wanted to or not.
It made his teenage years a dateless misery, after all if he revealed his condition to a friend or a special girl he was all but revealing his father's secret life as the crime fighter Shadomask. No one knew what caused his son's strange condition but everyone suspected that somehow the impossible fabric of the hero's mask had affected his son at a genetic level.
Slipping under the door Kevin made his way through the warehouse. Any moment now the bidding would begin, any moment now and these assorted villains and thugs were going to take his adopted sister apart piece by piece.
He knew he was a fool to come here by himself, not when the Local Heroes would be more than willing to help but this was something Kevin felt he needed to do alone. It wasn't because of his father's legacy- his father was almost ten years gone now and the responsibility of defending truth and justice had moved onto a younger, flashier generation.
Not that any of those gleaming paragons had much interest in the likes of River City.
Moving quietly now, past where Overkrill stood guard and beneath where Johnny Crawdad waited on the rafters with a high powered rifle, Kevin tried to control his anger at the sight of his adopted sister- Lisa aka the Maven. She wore a dark purple costume and a full face mask that emulated the one worn by the man that had been her father in all but blood. They had tied her by her arms and weighted down her feet, there was no sign of her utility belt. It looked like she was barely conscious.
His father had taken the girl named Lisa Gray after her parents had been murdered by the RedDeath. Kevin had been thirteen then and preparing this short lived and disastrous quest to try and follow in ShadoMask's footsteps. Millionaire industrialist Rob Raymond had seen to it that his son had gotten the very best training in the martial arts and detective work; and after some wheedling and begging Kevin had found himself learning these things along with the 9 year old girl that had become his sister.
And damned if she wasn't better than him at all of it. Before Keven knew it he had been gently pushed aside in favor of her and while ShadoLass became a sidekick sensation he found himself using the name NightBleed and working with the other like minded young heroes of Emo Force.
That was fifteen years ago now and Kevin had fond memories of those days, of friendship and adventure and really questionable costume choices but he was done playing hero; he had thought he was done forever, at least until now.
Boss Aragosta stepped onto the stage and raised his fleshy claw arms for silence, “All right, quiet down you mugs. It's time for the real festivities to begin.”
Retreating further back into the warehouse Kevin found the fusebox. He waited until the bidding to begin before he shut down the lights.
The chaos was immediate. Boss Aragosta tried to hide behind Overkrill and knocked them both off of the stage. Johnny Crawdad fired at random onto the lower levels wounding Pink Eye and killing Walt Mephisto. Kevin moved fast, weaving between the criminals, pausing only long enough for a well timed punch or to smash a pair convenient heads together. Some slashed at Kevin, barely missing him by inches- he didn't recognize the costume but a kick to the solar plexus crumpled him as quickly as any of the rest.
By the time Boss Aragosta had untangled himself from Overkrill and Johnny Crawdad had gotten the lights back on the Maven was gone.
An hour later Kevin and Lisa were sitting on a rooftop, she had her mask off revealing a smile that shone through bruises and welts. “I can't believe you did it,” she said.
Kevin kept his voice neutral, “I'm just glad you're all right.”
“I haven't seen you since the funeral,” she said.. “Where have you been?”
“It's almost dawn,” he stood.
“Don't go,” Lisa grabbed for his hand but he was intangible again.
“Be careful,” Kevin jumped from the ledge into the darkness. It was time to head home, back across the river, to his one room apartment in Megalopolis City. He had wanted to stay, Lord how he had wanted to but he couldn't take the chance. She was one of the world's greatest detectives and he couldn't risk her deducing how he felt. Would she return those feelings or find them a betrayal? It was better never to take the chance.
It was at moments like this he was glad his face was obscured by shadows.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
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Time and space had long ago lost all meaning for Gawain Wight; once hours and resources had been his to use as he saw fit. He had traveled the world and seen the impossible; he had sacrificed the innocent and the brave to bring down the enemies of his government. Now all he had was a sweltering ten foot by six foot cell and a diet of random noise and terror.
He didn’t even know how long he had been here, he didn’t even know what time of day it was anymore. He suspected he was on an island somewhere off the coast of Costa Rica, privately owned and unnamed. Once, over a decade ago, Gawain had sent an operative here only to lose him forever.
It started again, the crash of music and machinery, the cries of babies- all recorded and blared at random intervals from the speakers suspended from the high ceiling. Months ago he had almost broken his leg in a crazed effort to reach and destroy the damned things- or had it been just a few weeks ago?
They fed him once a day, a tasteless serving of gruel and a plastic cup of foul-smelling tap water. He made himself wait until he was really hungry before he ate any, it was the closest thing he had to a routine. Sometimes he would wonder to himself what might smell worse to a neutral observer, the water or the man drinking the water.
The orange jumpsuit he wore was stained, stiff and ragged. His hair was long and filthy. Gawain couldn’t remember the last time his captors had cleaned him up but sometimes he lulled himself to sleep with fantasies of a cold blast of water from a fire hose and a change of clothes.
But that was on the rare occasion they let him sleep long enough to snatch a dream or two.
It was funny in a way, when they had first brought him here he had been full of escape plans and defiance. But now? Now all he wanted was a few hours sleep and silence.
Footsteps approached. He started, was it meal time already?
No. He was almost sure it wasn’t.
Footsteps usually just passed on by but he still couldn’t help but get excited- would he be dragged out to the yard to be doused with the hose? Was it time for a check up with the dull eyed excuse for they had for a doctor? Maybe they were at long last going to kill him. There would be a kind of relief in that.
The door of his cell swung open and a pair of men in dark uniforms dragged Gawain out into the bright artificial light of a sterile-looking passage. They didn’t even give him the chance to get to his feet and walk; they just dragged him along like a petulant child.
One hallway, then another- they all looked the same to Gawain and he wouldn’t have been surprised if they just brought him right back to his little cell all over again. Worse things had happened during his time here.
There had been torture; stress positions, waterboarding and, in one strange case, an insulin induced coma. No questions had been asked during these times, no taunts just a methodical application of misery that his captors soon seemed to lose interest in once they were sure they had burned every preternatural skill out of his head.
It was a shame in a way, sometimes Gawain almost missed the torture, it was better than having to face living one lonely day after another.
An elevator ride and another hallway later his handlers led him to a chair in the middle of an otherwise empty room. He sat down gingerly and waited.
“Mr. Wight?” A pleasant sounding voice filled the room, ”Can you hear us?”
”We need you to reply audibly Mr. Wight. Can you understand that?”
“Yes,” Gawain was horrified at the sound of his own voice, he was sixty years old but he sounded ancient and worn down. “I can hear you.”
“Good, good. I think it is time that we spoke.”
“Why now? What do you need from me?”
“The world has changed so much since we took charge of you.”
“Could I have some water please?” he asked.
“We can do better than that,” there was a paternal smugness in the voice. “And as we wait I feel I should tell you that there is no more Project Pharos.”
Gawain chuckled and made a helpless gesture, “Somehow I suspected.”
“We all regret the circumstances of your internment,” the voice paused as the door opened.
Gawain flinched but it was just one of the gray-uniformed men carrying a paper cup. He dutifully handed the cup over and left again.
The smell coming from the cup set Gawain’s body trembling, this wasn’t water. It was orange juice! He drank it so fast that he almost choked, his tongue came alive, his breathing increased, his prick stiffened without a single impure thought.
“Our files noted that you enjoyed orange juice.”
“Who doesn’t?” Gawain caught his breath. “So the Project was closed down?”
“It was the inevitable consequence of your actions,” the voice scolded. “You understood the depth of our occupation but still you moved our wolves and sheep against us.”
“What else was I supposed to do? Just let you have your way?”
A pause then, “Yes.”
He crossed his arms and stared at nothing, “Why am I still alive?”
“We are not cruel.”
He laughed bitterly, “You really think that?”
“We defend ourselves when we must, but we preserve far more lives than we sacrifice,” the voice explained.
“You’ve got everything you want,” Gawain said. “Why am I still here? Why am I still alive? Unless of course you guys are somehow getting your jollies by making me suffer.”
The voice became more subdued, “There are those like you that do not understand and resist.”
“Our vision is imperfect, there are those who exploit this, there are places that remain hidden.”
“And you want me to help you track down your enemies because you’re not as perfect as you think.”
Gawain buried his face in his hands. What was he supposed to do? What would his father have done? He knew now why they had kept him alive and weakened, why they hadn’t killed or ‘processed’ him. They wanted him as he was; they wanted to make use of the talents he had once used against them.
And if he said no?
Would they send him to oblivion or just back to his cell?
Which would be worse? The dreary cell or having to face the reproachful faces of his four sons as his life faded away?
“Do you need us to clarify our terms?”
Gawain straightened up in the chair and asked, “Can I have another orange juice?”
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
Once again thanks to HORRORSQUAD for the info
a journal of retail and failed romance
I No Longer Fear Hell for I Have Been To the Senior Prom
(The following story is true- except for the parts I totally made up. The names have been changed to protect the people I loved and to protect me from the people I hated)
The Junior Prom left a bad taste in my mouth, and not just because my date never cleaned her damn braces. I vowed there was no way I was going to waste my time and money again, there was no way I was going to the Senior Prom.
Besides as far as I my teenage mind was concerned there was only one girl for me but I was afraid to ask her for more. I was too afraid of being rejected.
So imagine my surprise when one day, a mere three weeks before the date of the Prom I ended up with a Prom date. It was a whirlwind romance; boy meets girl at the library, boy takes girl to the mall for a burger after school, boy and girl make out behind the dumpster at the Empire Burger
And that was why I asked Agnes Malone to be my date for the Prom.
Agnes and I were pretty much inseparable for the three weeks leading up to the prom but I started to notice that she was slowly changing from the from a sweet girl that enjoyed my company to a short tempered she-vixen that did not suffer fools gladly.
Since I am something of a fool you can see the problems this raised.
I wasn’t surprised really though because at the age of 18 I was firmly convinced there were two things I could not live without but would never be able to understand-cars and women. Both tended to get me in a lot of trouble, both always seemed to cost me a lot of money, and both had a habit of falling apart on me in the most unexpected of ways.
Still though, I made it to the prom and damn if I didn't look good in a tux, a chunky James Bond if ever there was one. My date looked pretty good too with her floor length skirt and plunging neckline. My younger brother had the car that weekend so we decided to share a limo with my friend Corey and his date Velma.
The banquet hall of the local Marriott was decked out in the finest decorations that could be bought on a limited budget. As I looked around I saw a few of the students that treated me like a person, there was annoying Joanna, wealthy Adrian, the unique Kevin K. Hanson and then there was Lilly- the one that got away and kept getting away. I introduced Agnes to all of them and for a time we mingled.
Adrian was already pissed off because he'd gotten an expensive white tuxedo to wear to the prom and had tripped walking up the front steps to his date's house and now had ass to elbow grass-stains. Kevin K. Hanson was having a great time at the Prom, he and his date were boogieing and cutting up. I never realized his sister was such a good dancer.
And of course that damned Joanna had to come over and talk to us; her and her idiot loser boyfriend of the week. I talked to her as briefly as I could and tried to keep from rolling my eyes every time she spoke. Stupid annoying Joanna.
Pretty soon it was time for us to all go to our tables and enjoy our overpriced meals. I had gotten my tickets for the Prom very late in the game so we pretty much had no choice of where we were going to sit. I didn't give much thought to it however, what was the worst that could happen?
And that was how I found myself seated at a table near the back with just about every guy that had ever beaten me up in gym class...
So I have devised a plan. I am trimming down and splitting up my stories of retail and failed romance into much more manageable 1,000 word or so increments. I hope this will increase their readability and your enjoyment.
So the new schedule is as follows;
MONDAY: A new entry in Price Breaks and Heartaches.
WEDNSDAY: A new entry in my serial novel In The Shadow Of His Nemesis
FRIDAY: A new #Fridayflash entry.
My 5 Second Fictions and Lovable Links will continue to appear at random.
What do you the readers at home think?
Sunday, January 10, 2010
courtesy of EGOTASTIC
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Fat Murphy, feared on the streets of Cape Town's notorious Cape Flats suburb, told a court that he is a hermaphrodite who holds male and female identity documents - one under the name Fadwaan, the other under Hilary.
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This has the makings of the greatest episode of LAW AND ORDER ever!
"I think I see them," Raven said as she scrambled away from the storm drain...
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“Hurry, Rosa!” her mother pleaded. “Please hurry, dearest, or Papa Szorny will catch you and gobble you up.”...
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Link courtesy of The Screamnstress and her ongoing quest to corrupt the youth of America...
Oh and here's the actual trailer...