More than a ship

More than a ship

 

Inquiry: Argent Owl

 

Class: Light Transport

Model: OW7300-C (discontinued)

Manufacturer: Xerx & Argent Industries

Manufacturing Date, 14.9B30199,792,22,42

Length: 54m

Width: 33m

Height: 15m

Speed: Unknown (15C at time of manufacturing)

Defenses: Unknown (None at manufacturing)

Shields: Unknown (Mag 455 Deluxe installed at manufacturing)

Bought by: Vance Lumiens

Owner: Zep Viridian (Prior to incarceration)

 

The Argent Owl is a heavily modified light transport made by X&A Industries. It was bought by a one Vance Lumiens where it was reportedly used as his ship for over ten years as he carried out his duties as a Guardian. During that period several modifications were made, not all of which were documented. We do know that the second emergency craft was removed and replaced with a custom designed engine. The primary emergency craft was also replaced but with another craft, possibly a fighter.

 

Although there have been no reports of weapons on the ship, it is highly unlikely that it does not have any. Most Guardian crafts have been heavily modified for both defence and offence. It has also been reported that the interior has been completely redesigned. Receipts hint that it may have been given a medical bay, a brig, and at least two simulators for the crew to use.

 

Keep in mind that this information is all based on assumption and cannot be verified without the notorious ship itself. Unfortunately, upon his arrest, Zep Viridian triggered a failsafe measure on the ship and its location is currently unknown, including to Zep Viridian himself despite months of interrogation.

 

The ship has become popular in local lore, especially to bounty hunters, who have been searching for it for generations. Various reasons are given including acquiring the mystery engine that replaced the second emergency craft that gave it for it’s fearsome reputation for speed and maneuverability. Others claim that in its cargo is several guardian artifacts, including one of the master charts detailing a real-time depiction of everything on the chart. Only one chart has ever been recovered and due to its condition it is unable to display the locations of the others.

 

Whether it is a treasure trove or merely a legendary ship, it is doubtful the Argent Owl will be forgotten anytime soon.

Boogeymen

Boogeymen

 

“Breaking news, another criminal has turned themselves into the police today” the newscaster said as she read from the prompter. “Just like the other seven earlier this week he was screaming about boogeymen punishing criminals.”

 

A clip began to play of a twenty-something man in a black hoodie scrambled desperately up the steps of the police station; nearly bowling over the news crews that had assembled to take his statement. He was screaming, “Open the door! Let me in! I don’t want to die!” his hands were cuffed behind his back as he tried to use his feet to open the large glass doors to the police station.

 

The feed returned the newscaster who had a new coat of hastily applied lipstick partially smeared on her dark cheek. “Several individuals have been confessing after seeing something terrifying hiding in the dark and killing off this city’s criminal element. Currently the death toll has reached well over a dozen people. The following is a clip from a police interrogation in which one man was asked to describe what the assailant looked like.”

 

An older man with a haggard complexion was yelling at the camera, “Its coming! That thing is coming!”

 

“What’s coming?” an unseen officer asked, “Who is doing these things?”

 

“It’s the boogeymen!” the man screamed, “Like an evil smiling clown elf or something!”

 

“Okay? But why is it targeting criminals?” the officer said calmly.

 

“Don’t you get it?” the man said in frustration, “If you’re bad the boogeymen will come for you. Didn’t your parents ever tell you the stories? Please! I’m sorry! Put me in jail, I don’t want to die! Please don’t let them get me!”

 

The newscaster was sweating nervously when the feed returned, “Umm…. Sorry, that… that was the former CEO of Barker Alcohol Incorporated, a once prominent member of society has provided overwhelming evidence regarding several illegal business practices he covered up. It is also rumored that he was one of the heads of the criminal organization known as the Four Towers though those records have yet to be released to the public.”

 

“In related news, four more bodies have shown up this morning, desiccated and with faces painted like the others. Police have determined that the symbols carved into various areas of the body are identifiers relating to the victims’ crimes. All of the bodies were found in their basements, attics, closets, or under their beds and showed multiple signs of struggle. We’ll let you know more as…” had it not been for all the makeup the cameraman would have noticed that she had gone very pale. Her gaze slowly dropped down to look under her desk. She looked up at the camera man as she said, “It’s got my ankle!”

 

She looked down again and nodded quickly before she stood up and ran off the set. Her co-host came on, looked under the desk and shrugged. “The stress of this job can really get to you, must of been too much for a woman.” he said looking at the camera with a smarmy grin. He took her place and said, “Like I say the news is a man’s job and no place for….” the feed cut out with a technical difficulties screen for about twenty seconds. When the feed returned, a desiccated corpse sat where the schmuck of a man had been only seconds before. Makeup white, and skin marked like the others, from a shadow at the edge of the screen you could almost make out a pair of eyes, staring malevolently at the camera as a sharp grin stretched beneath them before both vanished into thin air.

Before a Guardian

Before a Guardian

    It was another warm day, the three suns were almost at their zenith for the day. Zep stared up, adjusting the optics of his implants so he could make out the 3 tidally locked spheres in the sky rather than a bright ellipse in the sky. Normally they would have been burnt to a crisp by the radiation of the three spheres but the thick heavy air of the planet and it’s abnormally strong magnetic fields protected them from the barrage of radiation.

    He was hanging out in the small grove he’d found, basically killing time rather than training like he was supposed to. He hadn’t been born on the planet, which he and his friends lovingly called ‘the dirtball’. It’s real name was ‘xzertexmalldrazxc’ which no one except the locals could pronounce. Not that there were any locals anymore. They had all wiped each other out centuries ago.

    They were warriors and had believed that power and control were the keys to harnessing the gifts of the universe. It was a load of crap, sure  they had discovered the tricks to some of those gifts but technology had helped the rest of the galaxy come farther in a twelfth of the time. A bug had crawled onto his arm and as he went to get a closer look, it stung him. The stinger plunged into his skin and stopped. He watched as his own defensive nanites neutralized the poison and infected the insect. It tried to run but only managed to shudder as the it was taken over.

    With a small force of his will the nanites retracted. The insect ran and hid in the forest safe from the creature it had just attacked. Zep knew he could have killed it, or even taken it over as a pet, but he wasn’t a cruel man, just lazy. He extended his senses and found his staff leaning against a tree on the other side of the grove. Taking one last look at the sky above he saw the suns had reached high noon. With a sigh he reached out and the staff flew across the grove to his hand. The others still mocked him for the choice but he didn’t like the ideas of the various swords, guns, energy manipulators that were more popular. He just wanted something simple, like his life.

    Too bad it wouldn’t last.

 

 

Moving

Moving

 

She was waiting in line like everyone else, fuming internally. ‘How did this happen?’ she thought, ‘How did we get to this point?’ She took a few steps forward as the line shortened. ‘I hate space, why couldn’t I have just bought more land and stayed behind?’ she pondered pointlessly.

 

She turned her head and outside the printed diamond wall was earth. The once pristine oceans had turned a sickly green and its land was black and brown. Looking at the edges of the planet she could just barely make out the layers of atmosphere. She had been told the air was too poisonous to stay but that was just something silly poor people said.

 

She crossed her arms and pouted, glaring at the people in front of her. She wanted to march to the front and demand the best they had to offer as she deserved. Unfortunately, she had tried this twice already and been tazed then returned to her position in line.

 

In truth the line was moving extremely quickly considering its volume. Everything for the space habitat known as the Eratosthenes, named after some old mathematician that calculated how big the Earth was. She vaguely recalled the briefing the UN had issued regarding it. It was a last ditch effort by scientists and major tech companies to save the dwindling population of Earth.

 

She wanted to know why so many had laughed at her when she had suggested cleaning the air and oceans with positive energy crystals. They had worked wonders when she felt like she wasn’t pretty enough, just standing in that room of expensive crystals reminded her of how important she was.

 

She glared at the line in front of her again, ‘Why do I have to wait with the riff-raff? I’m practically a queen.” she reasoned. With her head held high she jumped out of line and marched up to the guards processing the near nine billion people into the station. She refused to believe that money had no value anymore, no matter what all the experts she’d paid told her. She hadn’t become one of the most powerful fashion designers in the world by sitting around.

 

Reaching the front of the line she said, “Sir, I am…”

 

“Look lady!” the guard yelled, “We understand this is a rough situation, we’ve all been there.” he joked garnering laughs from literally everyone in earshot. “However, I need you to return to your assigned spot in line on that bracelet there.” he pointed to the thing on her wrist. “Otherwise this will be your last strike and once we get you inside you will face criminal charges and incarceration, do you understand!” He glared the challenge at her and waited.

 

“I…I…um, I just wanted to know if I could have some water?” she said sheepishly as everyone glared at her.

 

The guard’s features softened, “You know what that’s not a bad idea.” He turned back and said, “Vince! Get the bots out here to hand out some water!” Within seconds a small army of bots came out handing out small reusable pouches of water to the few billion left waiting in line.

 

“Thank you” she said, embarrassed as she made her way back to her spot.

 

“Now hold up!” the guard yelled, she stopped and turned back expecting another slight against her pride as she looked at him. “Everyone here is stressed,” he said, “we all feel embarrassed and guilty for messing up our own home this bad. We’re literally taking everyone to a new planet in hopes of salvaging what’s left.” Everyone began nodding in agreement as he spoke, “The only way everything works out is if we give up on ideas like superiority, race, religion, and all that BS. We need to move forward as a species and build a future together.”

 

“Why are you telling me all this?” the woman asked as all eyes fell on her again.

 

“Because I’m pretty sure it’s been a long time since you’ve been scared or said thank you.” he smiled softly. She hadn’t thought about it but he was right. She always had guards, and security, and power, and money, everything. Now she was the same as everyone else for the first time since she was a teenager and it scared her. She looked up at the man in shock, tears starting to fall from her eyes, and then she collapsed to the floor and cried. People around her in line helped her to her feet and back to her spot in line where others began to cry and share their stories to pass the time in line.

 

When she finally got to the gate and into the floating paradise that was supposedly Eratosthenes, she shook the man’s hand and said “Thank you” for the second time that day.

 

“You’re welcome,” he said, “besides, we’re all in this together.” With that she made her way inside the moon sized station and followed the instructions on her bracelet to her new home.

 

Monotonous Fire

Monotonous Fire

 

The fire alarm went off. It was sudden and yet John had expected it, not because he had anything to do with it. No, John had expected it because his office was so dull and boring he had long ago learned that it would only hold that monotonous order for so long before the second law of thermodynamics took offense. In this instance it had manifested as a fire. As the sirens blared everyone kept working, no one was dumb enough to make a move before the manager did.

 

As if summoned by the thought alone, the manager burst out of his office a moment later screaming, “Everyone keep working! When I find out who failed to alert me to the fire drill today they’re fired.” Then as smoke seemed to collect on the ceiling, the sprinklers engaged and liters of water began to pour down soaking everything.

 

“Keep working you lazy bastards!” he screamed as water ruined his obscenely expensive suit. Almost simultaneously every computer on the floor shorted out, taking the lights with them. Some people screamed and ran for the stairs while others stared blankly at the manager for guidance.

 

“Nobody move! I’ll take care of this!” the now red faced manger growled as he stormed towards the elevators. He pounded the buttons repeatedly and swore at the closed steel doors. Finally he threw his hands in the air and headed to the stairs where he marched towards the executive offices on the top floor. As soon as he was out of sight most of us grabbed our possessions and headed for the stairs to escape. We made our way to ground level, three floors below, then across the now smoke filled lobby and safely outside.

 

We watched as the building burned and fire and rescue teams arrived. They went to search the building but were unable to enter as someone had overridden the system and locked the building down. The rescue team was yelling, “Please sir we can’t help if you don’t let us in” a muffled reply came but was inaudible to all more than a few feet from the entrance. “Sir, I promise we’re not here to steal your company secrets” more muffled replies. “No sir we actually make good money, none of us are interested in those plans. We just want to help get you to safety.”

 

After the human resources manager finished her head count we realized only our manager hadn’t made it out. The building burned, as the doors remained locked, and the fire crews did their best to contain the flames to what had once been our office.

 

I left after it collapsed in on itself, but not before making a phone call to our competitor. I told him  we had just lost everything and that I was currently looking for work as an analyst. I hadn’t planned to call the number despite the lucrative offer but now I figured there wasn’t much left to lose. The woman on the otherwise of the phone seemed to hesitate at my offer given the news. I then remembered I had recently done a remote backup of my files to a flash drive after the IT guy restored my computer. He was supposed to erase the drive after the restore but I couldn’t recall him coming back after starting the restore. I had meant to drop the drive off to him but kept forgetting.

 

I mentioned the drive to her, unsure why I even brought it up. She went quiet, when she spoke again her voice was cheery and encouraging as she offered me an interview. The sole condition was that I would surrender the Valor Enterprises flash drive to them I agreed to their job offer. I nonchalantly said I would meet with them and decide then, even as my heart calmed from the jobless panic it had been building to.

 

Life can be a real beach

Life can be a real beach

 

Ah, that relaxing sound of birds chirping in the trees, and waves crashing gently on the beach; the smell of sea-spray and sun-baked sand filled my nostrils. I couldn’t think of a more beautiful way to wake up. Then I remembered one of the most annoying pieces of information in my entire life, what happened to my peanuts?

 

I opened my eyes, which turned out to be a horrible idea as the sunlight seared my retinas. I groaned and tried to sit up, this turned out to be an even worse idea. Everything was bruised from my neck down, and my clothes felt like I was wearing a flexible iron maiden.

 

I braced myself as I slowly opened my eyes again to see a golden beach next to a turquoise ocean. Luggage was riddled everywhere, gulls pecking there way in looking for snacks hidden in the pockets by people who probably had more pressing concerns at this exact moment. Like how they were going to cover up those sins, or whether or not they could bribe Hades.

 

Just as I was about to freak out a voice behind me said, “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to leave, this is a private beach.” I slowly turned my head to see a stuffy looking woman in a hotel uniform glaring down at me.

 

“Gee, I’m sorry, I didn’t know the beach I had just washed up on was private. Let me just swim back out to sea.” I spat sarcastically.

 

She grinned malevolently, “That would be wonderful, thank you so much for understanding.”

 

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, was this lady crazy? Was I hallucinating? I carefully stood up and went to tear a strip off this rude rigid lady. Instead, standing up resulted in me vomiting half a stomach full of seawater all over her. “Ugh, sorry about that.” I said.

 

“Well I’m going to go get changed, and get the spear gun.” she turned slowly and started heading back up the beach to a mansion on the hillside hidden by the trees. As she walked she yelled, “And if you’re still here when I get back, there is literally no one else on this whole island who will hear you scream.”

 

I now find myself in a predicament of choosing between, seeing if I can survive in the forest of this island, trying to swim to the non-existent island just over the horizon, or follow the crazy uniform lady back to the mysterious mansion and hope she was kidding about the spear gun. I thought about the three options for a few minutes until the sand in my shoes made the choice for me. I kicked them off and followed the footprints to the mansion. When I got there, however I found it derelict and abandoned. A chill ran up my spine and I ran back to the beach and made a massive fire to keep the darkness away.

 

Two days later, I was rescued by a passing shipping freighter. As I sat in their medical room on the ship, a spear embedded into the exterior wall. As I headed to the window I saw the women from before standing on the beach with the spear gun. She grinned as we sailed away and as she turned and headed towards the mansion her legs seemed to dissolve from under her as she vanished.

 

Wishes

Wishes

 

I once knew this guy named Gary. He was a mid level manager at a hardware store. Everyday when he came drinking with us he would complain about being single. Then after a few drinks he would usually send dick pics to random female contacts on his phone, or slap some waitress on the ass while asking her if she wanted to wake up tomorrow with regrets. We always felt uncomfortable when he pulled this crap but we’d known him since we were kids so no one said anything.

 

So one day, we’re sitting at the bar as usual, talking about food, or cars, or something, and in comes Gary. He’s grinning like the fox who just raided the hen house as he sits down and slams his hand on the table. “Check it out wusses, which ever lucky lady stayed the night last night left me a Rolex!” He’s pulled crap like this before and we all just waved it off.

 

That was until Harry said “Holy crap guys, it’s real!” We all leaned in and began examining the watch. Gary took it off and passed it around so we could bask in its glory according to him.

 

“Hey it’s engraved.” I said.

 

“What’s it say Phil?” Joe asked.

 

“Must be the girl’s name. Looks like Gene.” I said squinting at the warn engraving.

 

“Give it here putts” Gary said as he grabbed the watch from me and put it back on. “Her name doesn’t matter, I’m  a lady killer guys. I wish I could see her again.” he mused elbowing me in the ribs.

 

We all rolled our eyes and went back to our beers as this knockout walked over and smiled down at Gary, “Hi Gary, remember me? I see you got my gift.”

 

“I sure did hot stuff, couldn’t stay away from all this could you?” he said, waving his arm over his body like an infomercial demonstrator. We all cringed expecting her to lob a fist into his smug face, since that’s what usually happened when he sunk to this level.

 

To our surprise she simply smiled and waved three other girls over, “Sure couldn’t, in fact I brought some friends over. Too bad we won’t fit in that trailer of yours, bet you wish you could join us at the hotel suite huh?” she winked and an icy shiver ran down my spine. I don’t know why but I was getting a bad feeling from these girls.

 

“I sure do!” Gary nodded enthusiastically, clearly not experiencing the same apprehension I felt and saw reflected on our friend’s faces.

 

One of the other girls said, “Aww, he’s adorable, I wish we could just eat him up?”

 

Gary stood and puffed out his chest, “Oh I wish that too babe!” and he slapped her on the ass.

 

“Well it’s settled then!” Gene said, “Let’s take this big hunk of meat back to hotel girls” she cooed.

 

“Gary something if messed up about all this!” Joe said.

 

“Yeah man, I have a bad feeling about those chicks?” Harry added.

 

“Well lucky for me, they didn’t invite your flaccid asses, so piss off!” Gary snorted as he was lead out of the bar by the women.

 

I shuddered and as bad as it sounds, I was relieved to see them all leave, even with the thought that Gary may have bitten off more than he can chew. Still it was Gary, I’m sure he’ll be fine.

 

The next day they found Gary’s skeleton lying on the bed in the hotel room, completely clean of all flesh. Blood stained the bed sheets below it. On his wrist was the gold Rolex and the police report clearly said the engraving on the back read ‘Genie’.

No Service

 

No Service

 

Skip reached the address Betty had sent him, little more than a handmade sign post on the side of a sunny dirt road in the mountains. He went to call her for further directions only to find that his phone had no signal. “Oh, come on!” he yelled glaring at the ‘no service’ warning at the top of his phone.

 

“Betty!” he yelled “if this is another random survival, I’m not playing it this time. The police said they won’t let you off with a warning if they catch you testing doom bots in the forest again.” The road was eerily quiet, broken only by the sounds of squirrels and birds in the trees.

 

Skip looked around and found an ominous red letter tucked behind the sign. With a sigh he walked over and opened it. Inside was a note that read:

 

“Dear Skip,

 

Thank you for responding to my summons, please follow the path or various nuts to my location.”

 

Skip looked around quickly to see that there was no sign of nuts anywhere. So he continued reading the letter.

 

“If the nut trail has vanished then just walk about 10 minutes up the path until you find my purple hoodie on the fence post with an electric fence. Just climb over and head up the side trail until you find the clearing.

 

Signed

The Professor Wicked! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

 

P.S. There are no doom bots or survival experiments this time so stop complaining about it. (or is there? MWAHAHAHA) (no seriously there’s not now get up here)”

 

Skip turned over the paper to find the words “Or is there really? MWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!” printed on the back.

 

With a sigh he forged into the forest and sure enough found the hoodie after about ten minutes next to a tall electric fence with a warning sign that said “Do Not Lick”. He looked around for something to help him over the fence without getting electrocuted. He begrudgingly turned and examined the purple hoodie. In the pockets was a pair of dollar store rubber gloves and some duct tape.

 

He taped up his shoes and donned the gloves, then with a deep breath started to climb the fence as quickly as possible. he made it up and over with no problem but tore one of his gloves in the process so when he went to descend was sent flying into a nearby tree as several thousand volts of electricity tested every pain receptor in his body at the same time.

 

After a few minutes of painful groaning he lifted himself to his feet and trudged deeper into the forest. It got increasingly darker as the old growth of the plant life merged into an impenetrable canopy of green. Then as the trees parted he was suddenly greeted by the familiar form of Betty sitting at a collapsible table in the hastily constructed camp she had built in the clearing. A large tarped cage to one side of it, taking up a large portion of the area.

 

“Hey” Skip said, “I made it.”

 

Betty looked up from her papers and strangely sculpted mounds of play-dough. “Yes! I knew you’d come.” she squealed as she got to her feet and ran to grab his hand. “I finally did it!” she beamed, dragging him into the clearing towards the covered cage.

 

“So why am I in the ideal place for a murderous cult ritual on my day off?” Skip asked with familiar exhaustion.

 

“Because I did something awesome and I want you to meet it!” she countered waving his comment away like a mosquito.

 

“If this is a new doom bot, I’m making you pay for my cab back to town.” Skip folded his arms eyeing the tarp with deserved hesitation.

 

“Pfft, you know I can’t build doom bots anymore.” she chuckled, grabbing hold of the tarp. “They took away my frequent buyers’ card from Tech-bag Express.” she said solemnly before adding perkily “That’s why I’ve moved onto genetics!” with a strained yank she managed to slowly start the unveiling of a large and ferocious beast that spat a ball of green energy at Skip. He ducked just in time for it to crash against one of the chairs behind him. For a second nothing seemed to happen, then it erupted in a flurry of rapidly growing vines and flowers.

 

“Well, that’s something you don’t see everyday.” Skip observed cautiously poking the flowery chair.

 

“I know right!” Betty said prancing around the cage, “I combined together a dozen different species but most of the genetic material came from a squirrel and a tortoise.” The large green furry creature wiggled its ears and sat staring at Skip and Betty.

 

“Hi little guy,” Skip said softly reaching a hand out towards the cage. The thing squeaked and withdrew into its hairy shell.

 

Betty shrugged, “He’s a little shy but that’s why I want you to help me take him into town. I figure if he has a chance to play with people, get used to the feeling of a Volkswagen under his feet, and raid a few grocery stores for jerky, he’ll be acclimated to society in no time.” She put her hands on her hips and stared proudly up at her creation. “Isn’t that right Pistachio?” she cooed. The tail of the thing waggled happily, shaking the ground, as it vibrated with excitement.

 

Skip got his phone out and took a picture of it. Then went to dial a number, “Whatever just let me give my lawyer a call to give her a heads up this time.” His expression soured instantly as the phone once again beeped at him saying ‘No Service’.

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Run and Hide

Run and Hide

(Sequel to the story Remember)

 

“Stop! By the order of the Enlightened!” someone yelled as they fired at Miki. A sign clipped her shoulder sending her spinning, she redirected down a nearby alley running as fast as she could. She clutched a bundle of cloth to her chest as she ran.

 

“You’re going to be okay” she whispered into the clothes, “almost there.” She dove out of the alley way, narrowly missing three shots that flew over her head, as she rolled. People ignored her, as usual, and went about their days as if this whole chase was nothing more than an inconvenience.

 

Miki made it to the other side of the crowded street and into the even more crowded spaceport. “Ma’am, you can’t go this way…” a security guard tried to say but was cut off as she shoved an official looking badge in his face.

 

“Officer Ito, I need to get this child back to her mother before she leaves this rock. Or do you want me to arrest you for obstruction?” Miki yelled with authority shoving an ID card at the guard.

 

He scanned the ID quickly and as soon as it registered green he let her pass without checking further. She raced past and grinned as soon as she was out of sight. The ID was real only it had been tampered with so that her bio-metrics came up instead. It was a one shot trick because the system would do its mandatory secondary checks and notice the discrepancy. She tossed the ID as she ran, heading not for the boarding lines, but the loading bay.

 

Miki glanced over her shoulder to see a small army of enforcement officers stuck at security. She smirked in relief, but she wasn’t out of the fire yet. She ducked behind one of the trollies carrying food towards a ship about to leave. The ground crew was loading luggage and supplies while complaining about their work and mocking their boss.

 

Miki ran up towards the ramp, slapped a card loaded with credits into the hand of the nearest worker and yelled, “First four rounds on me, I was never here!”

 

“Who the hell was that?” asked one of the younger workers.

 

The one holding the card examined it in her hand and with a grin said “Who was who?” which was followed by a round of laughter from the rest of them.

 

Miki headed to the front of the cargo area and opened one of the secure bins for vegetables that was empty. It wasn’t very big but neither was she. Carefully she unwrapped the swaddle of cloth to reveal a puppy whimpering in terror at the new surroundings. It had a teal colored fur and amber colored eyes. When it saw her it immediately perked up and tried to lick her face. Miki set it on the floor and pet it gently, “Don’t worry, we’re ditching this rock so you don’t have to worry about anyone using you for food.”

 

The cargo door clanged shut and she could hear the engines gearing up for take off. She hadn’t had time to find out where she was headed but could it really be worse than here? The light above the loading door turned green as it sealed, and all sound was drowned out by the roar of the engines gearing up for clearing the atmosphere.

Stranded

Stranded

 

“So Bonnie, why did you decide to become a pirate?” Iggy asked as she poked at the meager fire they had built on the beach. They could hear wild animals patrolling around in the forests further into the island. That and they were hoping a passing ship would see the fire and rescue them.

 

“I just got sick and tired of dumb bastards telling me I was wrong.” Bonnie said with a shrug.

 

“You mean because you’re a woman?” asked Jack, earning a swift punch to the side of the head from Iggy.

 

“Nah,” Bonnie said, “well maybe, but I never actually asked why. I usually just beat my opinion into them until the night I ended up getting recruited by Captain Scurvy.”

 

“I ended up on the ship after losing to Scurvy, that man plays a mean game of go fish.” Iggy said.

 

“You ended up on the ship after losing at go fish?” Jack asked.

 

Both women glared at him, “Well how did you end up on the ship Jack?” Bonnie shot back.

 

Jack immediately looked down in the fire which only made it easier to see his face turn red as he mumbled, “I… I applied for a part time job as the galley assistant and gopher on the ship.”

 

“Seriously?” Iggy asked, Jack nodded which was followed by several minutes of laughter.

 

Jack tried to defend himself by saying, “I thought it was for a cruise ship or something!” which only made them laugh louder. After they eventually calmed down he said, “So how are we going to do the sleeping arrangements until we get rescued?” Jack asked.

 

“You’re going to sleep on that side of the of the fire,” Iggy said pointing at the sand behind Jack. “And we’re going to sleep over here safe from things that go bump in the night.”

 

“Yeah,” Bonnie added, “You keep your bumps over there.”

 

“Fine what do we do now?” Jack asked.

 

Bonnie pulled out a deck of cards from… somewhere… and said, “Well we could play cards, loser hunts for food in the morning.”

 

Jack shrugged, and Iggy said “As long as it’s not go fish.” They played into the night, and in the morning, Jack found some berries for them to eat while they waited for Captain Scurvy to finally return with his keys.

Your Right to Like

Your Right to Like

 

“But I was just playing Mario Brothers!” the woman said, she was wearing a Zelda t-shirt and Pokemon shorts. She was in her late thirties and had messy hair.

 

“We’re sorry ma’am but that is not conducive to the behavior of an adult woman.” one of the officers said as they put handcuffs on her.

 

“There’s more in here!” yelled the other officer. “A whole bookshelf of comics and cartoons.”

 

“Ma’am, we’re going to need to know where you purchased these things?” asked the first officer.

 

Shock filled her eyes as she stammered, “I…um…Well you see…ah… most of that I got when I was a kid.”

 

“And why did you not surrender them to the proper authorities when they were banned in 2025?” the officer asked.

 

“I don’t know, I just really like them that’s all.” she defended meekly.

 

“What do you do for work ma’am?” the officer said as he sat her in a chair and took out a tablet to write on.

 

“I work as an accountant from home.” she said. “Today is my day off I was just relaxing.”

 

“Ma’am do you really think this behaviour is appropriate for a woman your age?” the second officer said as he brought out a pile of spider-man comics.

 

“What behaviour? So I enjoy the things of my youth is that a crime?” she spat.

 

“Actually it is ma’am, as of 2025, all childish or overly imaginative material is banned for anyone over the age of twenty-one” the second officer quoted as if this was a routine question.

 

“Well who voted for that? I sure didn’t?” she said again.

 

“It was on Prop 5202 which dealt mostly with whether vehicles should still have a driving function for users.” the first cop said.

 

“I voted against that proposition?” she said softly to herself.

 

“True but it still passed thanks to the baby boomer, gen x, and gen z votes, the first two believed such things were too childish, the last that your generation was co-opting their youth.” The second cop nodded.

 

“So what? I’m not allowed to like things because they feel that generational gaps should be conservatively respected?” she protested.

 

“Not for us to say but that sounds fairly accurate. Anyways, you’ll be processed, fined, and have your mind washed so you don’t remember any of this.” the first officer explained.

 

“No! You can’t! Please, I’m begging you!” she said struggling as the first cop dragged her out.

 

“Don’t struggle ma’am, it’s for the best. Your kind doesn’t have a right to like things outside of your generation. You should know that.” the second cop said as he followed staring down at her with pity.

 

Writing Prompt

 

Growing old’s like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven’t committed.
—  Anthony Dymoke Powell