“Dammit Charlie! What have I told you about eating shellfish!” the tiny doctor shrieked as she threw a tongue depressor hard enough at the wall behind her patient that it embedded an inch deep.
The puffy faced young man simply rolled his eyes, or in this case moved puffy pink slits in a circular motion as he whined, “Relax Doctor Couturier, I’ve been taking the medication you prescribed haven’t I.”
The doctor face palmed as she sighed, “As I’ve told you a dozen times before, that medication is a preventative not remedy!”
“I don’t know what those words mean,” Charlie said waving off the doctor’s comment. “Besides I’m invulnerable so it’s not like this can kill me or anything.”
“To physical damage you’re invulnerable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t die.” the doctor countered. “Crab, prawns, shrimp, lobster these are all things that could very well do serious long term damage to you.”
“But they wouldn’t kill me right?” the puffy pink face asked as it tilted to the side.
“No Charlie they can’t kill you on their own but they can put you into a coma, and then what’s to stop someone from dropping your dense skull into the middle of the lake?” The doctor said harshly.
The slits widened slightly in shock as realization finally kicked in after months of this demented dance between doctor and patient. “So…” Charlie began as he scratched his head, “So what you’re saying is… no more lobster challenge fridays at the lobster hut?”
Doctor Victoria Couturier sighed with relief as she reached up and put a single finger on her patient’s forehead. “That Charlie, is exactly what I have been saying for the last three months.” As soon as her finger touched his skin the swelling began to recede and the pink faded to the normal pale complexion of the hero known as Bulletproof. “And if you come in next friday with these symptoms,” she continued, her voice taking an threatening tone, “I will personally put you into the lake myself, are we clear?”
Charlie grabbed his shirt and nodded quickly, “I get it doc, sorry I wasted your time!” he said hurrying out the door like a scolded child who forgot to take out the garbage.
Victoria simply climbed back into her office chair and grabbed her cup of hot chocolate, which she spat out immediately as it had gone ice cold during that last appointment.
Writing prompt: “He who takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the time of his doctor” – Chinese Proverb
TDS V – Vampires and Aliens
Sunday 4th November, 2018
Ok, where to start, this has been one hell of a week. I mean, I thought it was going to be rough, Halloween always is, but this year was just plain ridiculous. Let’s jump back to Tuesday afternoon first though.
I had just gotten back from lunch to find the closed sign showing on the door. We are normally open until nine so that was odd but it was also part of our emergency procedure in the event of some unforeseen incident downstairs. To my surprise however, when I opened the door my entire staff was standing behind the counter looking at a customer.
He wore a black custom-tailored suit, as he turned his pale features were made even paler by the blood red shirt he wore open at the neck. He grinned a sharp smile at me then said “Jake, how good to see you’re still breathing.”
“Peter,” I replied with faux enthusiasm, “shocking to see you’re still not.”
“Oh, come now,” Peter sighed, “you can’t possibly be upset about that heiress from way back then.”
I scowled, “Strangely enough, I am, it was two years ago and I was dating her at the time.”
“And I warned you office romances never work out” he scoffed waving dismissively. “Besides she was weak, hardly worth another thought.”
“Hmmm, kind of how I feel about you Peter.” I retorted so I could witness his facade crack slightly as he scowled. He went to protest but I clapped my hands together and said “Well it has been truly horrid seeing you again Peter, you know where the door is and I suspect are even capable of figuring out how to open it. Have a nice day.”
“Really? Just going to throw me out on the street?” Peter chuckled, “Jake you’re better than that, what am I to do until night comes in a dreary little place like this.”
I reached over to the card stand and pulled out one of the local businesses we partnered with. I handed it to him, “There you go Peter, that should help brighten your complexion.”
Peter did not look amused as he read, “Ten dollars of a tanning bed session at Golden Buns Tanning Salon.” He glared at me, “You know, I’ve never liked your sense of humor.”
Before I could reply with an undoubtedly witty comeback Kidra whistled loudly on two fingers. “OK, I think that’s enough of that. Jake, why are you being a dick to this douchewazzle? And you, Peter Douchewazzle, who the hell do you think you are and what were you saying about partnering with the owner to co-own this place?” This one caught me by surprise and I raised an eyebrow at Peter.
“You heard her” Peter said adding insult to injury, “I have recently purchased a unique set of tools that the owner seemed very interested in. She offered me a thirty percent take in her business in exchange for full ownership of these tools. And to answer the rude madame’s inquiry, I am a Nosferatu.”
“What is a Nosferatu?” Kidra asked staring at Peter suspiciously.
“It’s a vampire” I clarified, though seeing the confusion remain on Kidra’s face I continued “It’s basically the cross between a zombie, a leech, and a bottle of cheap cologne.”
“I would have gone with hair gel” Renard chimed in helpfully.
“And leech is a little on the nose, I’d say they’re more a type of bloodsucking maggot.” Levia added.
While Kidra nodded thoughtfully as she tried to picture such a creature, Peter stood and glared menacingly at us all. “If you are all quite finished, I would like to inspect my investment before handing over such priceless instruments to your inexperienced hands.” He growled.
I sighed, “Yeah whatever helps get you out the door faster man. Levia, please show Mr. Blago…”
“I’ll ask you not to use that name!” snarled Peter, “You may address me as Dr. Peter Blaze.”
We all stared at him in disbelief before Renard kindly broke the silence by coughing ‘Lame’ into his fist. An act made all the more obvious by the fact that he technically had no lungs.
With that Peter stormed into the back room followed closely by Levia who happily gave him the details of everything from the light switches to odd shaped screws she was collecting.
Kidra and Renard turned and stared at me expectantly. “Well?” Kidra shrugged the question.
“Well what?” I shrugged back.
“Who’s the parasitic dingus you have a grudge with?” Renard clarified as Kidra nodded.
“Yeah… I don’t really owe either of you an explanation” I began, but raised a hand to pre-empt their protests. “What I will say is that he is a very old, very arrogant vampire. One whom the owner considers a valuable client and one I consider an incredibly dangerous threat.” I know this was kind of mean but I really didn’t feel the need to explain my weaker moments when I first took over the store. Needless to say, I now have very good reason to never date a co-worker.
“So, can we kill him?” Kidra asked, then at my unimpressed glare added, “for the greater benevolent good I mean.”
“Unfortunately, I’m afraid we’ll just have to deal with this particular inconvenience for the meantime.” I said diplomatically.
“I know that tone” Renard said, “That’s how politicians and lawyers say ‘Ignore it until I can find a discreet way to kill this fool without being liable'”
I couldn’t keep a smile off my face so I turned away as I said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but for safety reasons should such an opportunity present itself to you I expect you’ll keep me informed.”
They both nodded and we quickly went about our day as usual. Peter left quickly after his tour claiming he had an important meeting. I wished him well hoping to see him burst into flames as soon as the sun hit him. If it weren’t for his comically large umbrella, I would have seen just that.
After that the day continued as per what stands for normal in the shop, however it was like an ominous calm before a storm.
When I came into the shop on Wednesday I found a scroll on my desk. Not just a rolled-up piece of paper but an actual parchment scroll with a wax seal. I sighed and began unpacking my bag while I waited to open the store.
“What’s up boss?” Kidra said as she entered the store. Then stopped as she saw the scroll, “What the hell is that thing, it’s got the same magic seal most would put on a vault.”
“It’s from Peter” I said while writing down assigned tasks for the day.
“So why don’t we open it?” Kidra said as she reached for the scroll. I jumped from my seat and quickly grabbed her hand before she could touch it.
She ripped her hand back in confusion, “What’s the matter with you?” she spat.
“Whatever that thing says I can guarantee it will be packed full of curses and conditions for breaking that seal.” we both stared at the scroll for a moment before returning to our daily chores.
Levia came in shortly after and both Kidra and I had to practically tackle her to prevent her messing with the scroll. “Magic doesn’t affect me! I wanna read it!” she whined.
“I don’t care, you touch that thing and you’re fired!” I said somewhat harsher than I had meant to.
The morning passed without incident, it was only the three of us as Renard decided to not show up that morning and Tobby was off Tuesday and Wednesday this week while his family adjusted to his new life as a reaper of souls. We were only about half an hour from closing when Renard finally showed up. I chewed him out a bit for ditching most of the day and sent him to clean up the back room.
“Noooo!” Levia screamed and I ran back to see what had instigated her horror.
She was staring wide eyed at my desk where Renard stood frozen. The scroll open in his hand. “It’s blank?” he said showing us the parchment.
“No, it’s not you idiot!” Kidra yelled standing by the stairs to the basement having just run up them in the panic.
We stood for a moment in silence watching the parchment, for several minutes nothing happened. Then as soon as Renard went to set it on the desk it began glowing an eerie green colour. As soon as it did, every ruin and spell cast on the place glowed with it.
“Well that’s not good” Renard said as he gazed in awe at the walls and ceiling. When he turned back he realized we were all glaring at him. “Soooo…” he began, “that happened.”
Before we could berate him, the green light began to pulse and the shop vanished.
When our eyesight returned we found ourselves in a large metallic room.
“Oh…My…God!” Levia squealed, “This is platinum coated graphene plating!” she began rubbing her face up and down the walls.”
“Great, that idiot just got us locked up!” Kidra spat as she ran her hands over the walls looking for a seam.
“I did not!” Renard protested. I couldn’t help but notice he was in corporeal form.
I rubbed my chin as I examined the room. “Renard, I want you to try to pass through that wall” I instructed.
Renard stood and tried to turn insubstantial to no avail. He then pressed his hands to the wall, they simply pressed and nothing else. “What the heck? WHAT HAPPENED TO ME!”
Levia chuckled as she poked and prodded the wall with the various tools on her person. “You won’t be able to phase, and Kidra won’t be able to use her magic. The walls are too dense and the platinum coating acts to reflect and dampen all supernatural energies.”
“How do you know that?” Kidra scoffed.
“Because I’ve been studying alien technology since I was a kid. They rely on several types of energy but magic seems to react violently with those energies so they developed materials for protecting their equipment from it.” Levia continued examining the walls as she explained slowly making a tour of the room.
“So, we’re screwed?” Renard asked nervously.
“I doubt it, just give me a few minutes and I should be able to find the door.” Levia said.
“Well this blows,” Kidra pouted, “does anyone have some gum or something while we wait?”
Renard and I checked our pockets, he found nothing of course, while I pulled out a pack of gum. As I did however the scroll tumbled out with it. “What the?” I began before recognizing it.
“What’s it say?” asked Kidra as she crossed the room to steal a piece of gum.
I unfurled the scroll, this time it had letters glowing in green written on the page.
I have a task of vital importance I need you to take care of, I need a pack of batteries from Berwyn mountain. Unfortunately, they are located in an area where my kind, those animated by magic, dare not tread. As a result, you are tasked in retrieving these power sources for me. Should any of you perish I will pay for any funeral costs while we look for a replacement. If you must sacrifice someone to save the rest, then the person who sacrifices Jake will receive not only his job but a handsome raise as well.
I hope at least one of you survives
Your new lord and master.
I sighed in frustration, “Now you see Renard, if you’re going to work at the shop I really need you to understand why we never open ancient scrolls that mysteriously show up in the shop.”
“Oh, come on!” Renard protested, “how often would something like that even happen anyway?”
“About every twenty-three days last time I checked the average.” at this even Levia stopped her probing and turned to look at me in disbelief. “Trust me, I wish I was joking. One of them took three of my staff back in march.” Their expressions lost their disbelief as they adopted ones of horror instead.
Kidra rubbed the back of her head nervously, “So, um, just out curiosity, how many staff have you gone through since you started?”
I pulled out a small black book from the inside pocket of my jacket and added them up quickly, “Since I started? One hundred and eighty-nine.”
“Okay, and you’ve worked there for how long?” Renard asked.
“Two and a half years” I nodded thoughtfully.
“I thought it was just under two years?” Kidra raised an eyebrow.
“No that’s just how long I’ve been a manager.” I clarified.
With a new look of shock Renard hesitantly asked, “How many of those staff were under you and how many were actually fired?”
I checked my book again, “Seventy-three were under my watch, and unfortunately only twelve left the job in a normal fashion if that’s what you’re getting at.”
“Wait?” Kidra said, “that means sixty-one people were either killed or worse while working for you.”
I shrugged, “It’s a tough industry, a lot of people don’t survive working for the owner very long.”
“Wait,” Renard interrupted, “that means one hundred and sixteen left in your first six months? How many managers were before you?”
“Yeah,” I said, “it was a really hectic work environment when I started, if I remember correctly there was a total of three other managers I worked with before I got promoted.”
They sat slack jawed on the floor just staring at me, I wasn’t entirely sure why and therefore was very grateful when Levia yelled, “I’ve found it!” We all made our way over to where she was sitting, she had a flat blade wedged in the wall as she carefully pushed down. The blade twisted up slightly with a click, then a panel slid open on the wall with the outline of a hand at its center.
“Um, is it supposed to do that?” Renard asked.
Levia shrugged as she placed the knife back in it’s hiding spot behind her left calf “Beats me, I’ve never seen technology like this up close before. It seems to be based on a magnetic locking system of some sort.” She placed her hand in the outline only for it to turn red send a jolt of electricity through her. After it subsided she giggled, “Oooh, that tickled, but you guys should be careful, that will probably kill you.”
“Pfft,” scoffed Renard, “like that scares me.” he shoved his hand on the pad, it turned red again and the shock blasted him across the room. He was already dead, but the shock seemed to have knocked him out somehow.
“My turn,” Kidra said as she placed her hand on the panel. “Come on!” she taunted, “Kill me so I can show you what real power looks like.” The panel did nothing for a moment before turning red, instead of a shock however, a dart shot out from one of the walls and imbedded in her neck. “Ouch what the…heck…did…you…” she stumbled back as her whole body froze her in place. Levia and I were about to see if she was still alive when a pale violet glow enveloped her and she gasped.
“Kidra are you okay?” Levia said as she held her friend upright.
“I guess,” Kidra whined, then looked at me and said “looks like you’re our last chance for that panel boss.”
I gulped slightly and placed my hand on the panel and waited for the inevitable red light that would stop my heart. Instead it turned a steady blue colour, I heard a were of some foreign mechanism within the wall as a door opened to my left.
Inside was a collection of strange objects some looked like tools, others were glowing the same blue as the panel. “I guess those are the batteries?” I suggested. I took my hand back to collect them and as I did another door opened behind us with a set of stairs leading up.
“You think it’s a trap Jake?” Kidra asked.
I shrugged, “Probably, but not like there is much choice. Levia, pack all this up and let’s go. Kid help me with Renard.”
Neither woman argued as we made our way up the stairs and out into what looked like an abandoned military complex. A few lights were on somehow but it looked abandoned. There were cobwebs everywhere, several consoles were smashed but looked like they were from the seventies.
“Well this doesn’t look good.” Kidra said as she pointed her free hand towards a pile of rags in the far comer from us. As I looked more closely I realized that there were bones poking out of the clothes in places.
I rubbed my eyes with one hand, “Oh no not again.”
“You’ve seen this before?” Levia asked.
“Back when I first started, we had to go do a cleanup job for the government. It was the first time I saw an alien.” I sighed.
“Pfft, aliens aren’t real” snapped Kidra.
“They are too!” Levia huffed.
“Don’t open any more doors, this is definitely a trap.” I said. I reached into my jacket and pulled out a small vial of dark mist. I had Kidra help me lay Renard down and then proceeded to wave the vial under his nose.
He slowly became insubstantial again as he sat bolt upright. “What? Where am I? What happened?”
“We were in an alien space ship and now we’re in a military facility while aliens hunt us.” Levia summarized.
“Who, how long was I out?” he groaned.
“About four minutes and there aren’t any aliens hunting us.” Kidra corrected prematurely. As soon as she finished a scurrying sound came from one of the adjacent hallways.
“Jake! We need to get out of here, not all aliens are friendly.” Levia said, “Especially if they use security like the stuff we saw on that ship.”
“I’m well aware,” I said as I looked at my watch, “that’s why I arranged a pickup. Levia, when it’s time to go make sure you are the first one through, understand?”
“No but I’ll do my best,” she said as her eyes danced back and forth from the various entrances.
“What are you planning Jake?” Kidra folded her arms as she stood next to Renard.
Suddenly a blade sliced through the air next to Renard, missing him by the width of a hair. It began to descend as its bisected space itself into a wall of shadow. From its depths stepped forth a harvester of souls, a wielder of shadows, and our newest hire.
“Prepare to be judged by…Oh hey everyone, how’s it going?” Tobby said as he realized who he was looking at.
“Levia, move!” I yelled, she dove into the shadows and I locked arms shoulder to shoulder as we tackled Tobby back through his portal. Renard dove after us just in time for the hole close and for us to get a glimpse of a small grey skinned being come running towards the darkness with malevolent intent in its dark oval eyes.
It was hard to tell what happened next as the world we had jumped into was nothing but whispers and darkness. Next thing we know we’re plummeting to the floor of the shop as Tobby exits from a different hole in the wall.
“What the heck is wrong with you people?” He yells, “This thing is not a toy, I could have accidently ripped the soul from one of you when I opened that portal.”
I stood and brushed off my suit, “Sorry Tobby, it was an unexpected emergency thanks to our new co-owner Peter.” He raised a dark eyebrow in question, “It’s a long story, still since you’re here, and no one died, I think it’s time we ordered some pizza and celebrated.”
“It wasn’t that big a deal” Tobby shrugged. Levia had already begun unloading and inventorying the many treasures collected from our forced expedition.
I took my tie off and began dialling the number for the pizza parlour, “To you it may seem like no big deal but to me it is a very big deal.” I grinned.
“Why?” Kidra asked, “I know I’ve only been here a month but in that time, we’ve dodged death a dozen times already, no offence kiddo.” she said to Tobby who simply shrugged it off.
“True,” I admitted, “but this is the first Halloween in which all my staff is still alive.”
“Say what now?” Renard and Tobby asked in unison.
“It’s a rough day usually,” I shrugged, “but that’s why this year is special. For the first time I don’t have to spend November first looking through resumes and organizing the burial of coworkers.”
The pizza arrived shortly after midnight, officially putting us in the clear for another year. But as I write this, I must admit this year has raised more questions than ever before? Why did we all survive so easily this year? Why did that door open for me? And what are those alien tools for? I hope that I should have the answers by this time next year. Only time will tell however.
Thank you for reading this bizarre collection of half-adventures into the tedious day to day of supernatural technical experts at the Damned Shop.
If you want to take a guess I’m curious to hear what people think.
Who is Jake really?
Why has he survived so long?
What are the tools for?
All these questions can be answered if there is enough interest from the readers. Let me know what you think and feel free to theorize about what will happen next.
Hope you had a great Halloween!
TDS IV – Death and Interns
Saturday 17th October, 2018
I’ve recently come to appreciate how important patience is especially when someone is in an employ like myself. Managing people in general can be a truly grating experience on anyone’s soul. However, I realize it takes someone indomitable to manage a group of people with supernatural histories and powers. I say histories first as I have come to realize that the events which forge a person is almost as potent as the unique powers they may hold.
As much as I would like to say I came to this realization on my own, I must admit it is the recent collection of misfits, of which I’m struggling to mold into a team, that has enlightened me. For example, take yesterday.
“OMG! I can’t believe I have a job!” This string of nearly incoherent nonsense was from Levia. “And Kidra is totally my newest best friend?
“No, I’m not” grumbled Kidra as Levia hugged her tightly. Kidra looked like I disgruntled cat lifted off the ground by an enthusiastic toddler.
Levia then unceremoniously dropped the genie to the floor as she bounced towards me singing. “And I have a boss, who will let me fix things, and isn’t a short goblin lady, and doesn’t try to light me on fire, and…”
“Levia,” I interrupted before she could crush me with affection as well, “when you have a moment can you please replace the glass on this tablet and see if the touch function returns. We need it done by this afternoon if possible.”
Levia squealed as sat down with the device where she quickly began to hum to herself as she pulled various tools from a hidden compartment in her left shoulder. I had discovered early in the week that she was an excellent technician but required constant direction to keep her from threatening myself or the other staff with her deadly and affectionate form of social interaction.
“Thank god,” Kidra complained, “I don’t know what she is but she’s resistant to magic. I’ve tried to kill her like ten times this week and she just keeps coming.”
“Your powers are benevolent now Kid so you can’t kill her anyway, but please stop trying all the same” I sighed, “Staff is not as easy to replace as this month may seem to suggest.
“Hey!” she said jamming a finger into my sternum, “When that cute five-hundred-pound pixie tries to hug me to death everyday it’s not murder, it’s self defense!”
“Hey I’m only four hundred and twenty pounds.” Levia pouted as she worked.
“Of course not!” Renard said as he floated into the room, “You are the pinnacle of form and function!” He had been relentlessly pursuing Levia the entire week, though she would simply smile and wink in response.
“Renard, please finish reorganizing the accessories in the front.” I said, directing his energy to a more productive task. “And stay in corporeal form so you can help any customers that come in.”
Renard floated down to the floor as he became solid, then stomped off to the front in protest. He was never happy to be corporeal but at the same time he did enjoy flirting with the customers and they left happy so unless it became a problem I was willing to look the other way.
I turned to Kidra, “As for you, I’ll need you to finish that order of vermeil hollow points for the agency before we close tonight.”
“What about you?” Kidra whined, “You think you get to just sit back and chill while we do all the work?”
“Yeah!” Levia chimed in from her bench.
I raised an eyebrow at her in response, “So you want me to fix things while you do paperwork and interviews instead?”
Levia’s face contorted in confusion as she looked decided between blindly supporting Kidra, or fixing things. Finally, she turned back to the tablet and said, “Sorry never mind! Must have misheard you.”
“Traitor” muttered Kidra in response.
“How about you Kid?” I asked, “Up for doing taxes or making bullets?”
She glared at me for a full two minutes before rolling her eyes and heading towards the stairs. “You’re no fun at all you know that!” she pouted as she descended.
I took a seat at my desk and finished up some reports while I waited for the final interview set up for the week.
“Hey Jake! There’s a young man here to see you!” Renard yelled.
I stood from my desk and sent Renard and Levia downstairs while I conducted a quick interview.
“So Tobby, tell me about yourself?” I said as Tobby sat at one of the stools.
“Well I just graduated top of my class last year, I was captain of the basketball team. I was offered scholarships to multiple universities but I’m taking a year off to make up my mind and really discover who I am you know?” Tobby rambled off.
“I see, and why did you apply here then? I mean we are looking for a fifth employee but were hoping for someone full time.”
“I…” Tobby hesitated, “I, um, well my mom is friends with Ms. Sena and she kind of made me apply here. She said it was exactly what I needed, but can I be honest Mr. Jack?” I nodded, “I really don’t think working in a boring repair shop is going to help me much. I mean I have this friend Jerome who is going to work on a cruise ship as a janitor. He said he could probably get me on their too and that’s like a whole adventure thing you know?”
I held back a chuckle and simply shrugged, “Yeah I hear you, this is probably not the job for you. You’d just be my assistant anyway, which I never really wanted so I’ll say you just didn’t feel like a good fit. That way Ms. Sena and your mom should let you go on your little boat ride.”
“Umm? Thanks?” Tobby said looking at me in confusion.
“Oh, it’s my pleasure, really.” I smiled as I shook his hand. “But before you go could you do me a favour and take this file downstairs for me?”
I handed him a manila envelop with a blank sheet of paper inside. He looked at me like I was insane. “I guess, but why?”
I shrugged, “Let’s just say it’s a test, if you still want to leave after that then by all means, you know where the door is.” I turned back to my desk and started working again.
Tobby, I knew, had been sent specifically because his family worked directly with paranormal relations. He really didn’t have a choice to work here or not, his parents had already arranged it with the owner. Luckily, I had dealt with this twice before in the last couple years. I learned that if you told them they had no choice they would fight you none stop until they were fired. This time I wanted to try something different.
As I worked I heard a scream from Tobby, Renard talking, Kidra yelling, Levia squealing in delight, and then finally silence. It took about ten minutes but when Tobby came back upstairs his dark face had paled significantly. He was mumbling to himself as he reached the top of the stairs.
“Well thanks for stopping by, have fun on your boat…” I began before Tobby raced across the room.
“That one guy is a freaking ghost!” He yelled as he shook my shoulders, I nodded. He stared off into space as he continued, “That one girl took apart her arm, there were green muscles, what the hell does that mean? And that other lady shot lightning and turned the ghost guy into a banana! What the heck kind of place is this?”
“It’s a shop where we deal in solving problems from a broken watch to a technology that mankind won’t invent for another four or five millennia.” I said nonchalantly. “Anyway,” I said as I gently pried his hands from my shoulders, “you remember where the door is I’m sure.”
This seemed to snap Tobby out of his shock as he quickly said, “Wait! I mean, couldn’t I try working here just to, you know, see how I like it.”
I grinned, “I don’t know, I mean you didn’t seem that thrilled about working in a boring repair shop.”
“Yeah, I know I said that, but… But….” Tobby panicked.
I was going to let him flounder a bit more but decided to show mercy, “Relax, you already have the job, I was just showing you what is was all about before you made your own decision.”
“Thank you, Mr. JakeA!” Tobby said as he shook my hand, “I swear you won’t regret this!”
We discussed pay and hours briefly and then I gave him a list of odd jobs to start with while I finished some work downstairs with Kidra.
We had just closed up shop and I was just getting ready to send everyone home for the day when I heard Levia scream from upstairs. We raced upstairs to find her and Renard staring at the corner. When I looked to see what they were looking at, I saw Tobby standing there cloaked in black with a full scythe in one hand. The shadows bending around him, making it difficult to focus on our newest intern.
“Um, Mr. Jake?” Tobby’s voice boomed with unintended malevolence.
“Did you touch the knife?” I asked.
“Seriously?” Kidra said, “I think that part is obvious, this little snoop just became a damned reaper!”
“I’m a what?” he said.
“You’re a reaper” I sighed, “Don’t worry, it’s only temporary, I’ve spent the week researching that knife and the effects only last until you’ve reaped a thousand souls.”
“I have to kill a thousand people?” Tobby whimpered.
“Ideally no, under normal circumstances yes but working here there is always opportunities to free trapped souls and the like.” I said casually.
“How are you so calm about all this!” shouted Renard.
“Our first intern got cursed, turned into a mummy until she could gather the pieces of some pharaoh’s headdress and return them to his tomb.” I said dismissively. “For now, you should all go home and rest up. I have a feeling next week is going to be a bit crazy.”
“Are you crazy?” Kidra yelled, “How could it possibly get crazier than all this crap?”
I shut the main lights off and lead them out the door, “Because next week is Halloween.”
Stay tuned Next weekend for the epic conclusion to this five-part series. Let me know on Facebook if you would like to hear more of the Damned Shop!
TDS III – The knife
Saturday 19th Oct, 2018
Okay, so I’ve been working here for over two years and today was the first time I’ve had to deal with the police. Not, the normal police mind you, these ones were from a special division. If you’ve ever seen a parody of the X-files you probably know what I’m talking about. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I entered the shop as normal and discovered a note from the owner which read:
I’m heading off to Egypt with some friends to negotiate with a new supplier who I hope will be able to supply the store with new tools and enchantments.
I’ll be back in about a month, you need to do an order to the Russian, find a way to sell the scarab paste, finish training the new hires (hire 2 more staff please, minimum wage if you can), also you need to talk to the accountant about our taxes, arrange the checks to be sent to the building for rent, finish painting the washroom, and renew our business license.
See you later,
P.S. Don’t mess up my store or I’ll fire you and send people after your family!’
I wish I was making that last bit up but that’s literally what it says. From day one the owner has been a narcissistic and delusional piece of feline excrement. On the up side she’s rarely there and despite how much she brags about her store, takes a very hands-off approach to running it. This is a very beneficial environment for me as it means I’m usually left to my own devices with the staff that survive her latest rampage.
“Is that a note?” Kidra asked as she entered the back room. She grinned malevolently, “Finally, that wretched little gremlin is gone!”.
“Indeed, though I need to hire more staff.” I said rubbing my eyes in annoyance and setting the note back on my desk.
Kidra read the note quick then asked, “But that’s only one of the things she asked you to do, what about all this other stuff?”
In response I whistled an odd little tune and revealed a large monthly schedule on the wall as the framed poster slid away. On it, clearly listed, were regularly scheduled tasks as well as those penned in as one-time events. “I’ve ran this store for a couple years now, I learned the hard way that the owner has no interest in this shop other than the prestige it gains her. As such, I’ve been frequently tasked with keeping things running.”
Kidra scratched her head as she stared at the schedule, “Then why hide the schedule? Wouldn’t she be happy you have everything under control?”
“A normal person would yes,” I sighed, “however, we’re talking about a narcissist. She views any idea or plan that may not be her own as essentially wrong. The worst part is she is almost entirely oblivious to this fact as she delusionally believes that same falsehood.”
“Why don’t we just kill her and take over then?” Kidra shrugged.
I looked at her like she had just admitted to wearing scratch and sniff underpants, “Are you demented? You can’t go and just kill people. That’s precisely why we have contracts with law enforcement to begin with.” I scolded. “Besides, that narcissistic little monster may be a pain but she is very good at snorting the rectums of profitable clients. It may truly be her only skill but everyone is good at something I guess.”
Kidra would most likely have debated this concept, however at that moment the spectral form of Renard floated through the wall. “Mom, Dad,” he teased, “what’s for breakfast.”
Kidra grinned in response snapped her fingers, an ethereal looking collar buzzed around Ren’s wrist in response forcing the ghost solid as he collapsed to the floor. “Why don’t you just go to hell and end this torment?” Kidra chided.
Ren gasped on the floor before looking up and scowling at her, “Because knowing my luck you’ll be waiting for me there too!”
Before the bickering could escalate once more a bell jingled indicating we had a customer. I lifted myself out of my chair and headed for the front desk, “Well while you too fight like siblings over a cookie, I’m going to make this place some money.”
What waited for me was a short girl with a long black case that she hugged tightly to her chest as she looked around. “Are you the one who deals in special technology and mythology?” She asked with a slight rasp to her voice.
“As long as it’s not illegal or you at least have the legal documentation for restoration than yes.” I replied in the professional tone I reserve for our customers.
Her small hands carefully lift and set the long black case on the counter, “I need you to destroy this.” as she lifted the lid I saw a long black blade about fourteen inches long with a bone white handle that curved ergonomically. It looked sharp, and I went to lift it to examine.
She slammed the lid before I could touch it glaring, “No one must ever touch that blade, do you understand?” although she appeared young that glare betrayed that she had seen things those who lived centuries could only dream of.
I simply smile and nod handing her a form to fill out, she raises a questioning eye to me. “Please fill out this form, indicate your name, place of origin, type of being you identify as, gender if you like, the name of the object you’re dropping off, the document number of any relevant forms for you to deal in such objects, any risks your aware of in handling it, any curses or contracts that it may be tied to, and any other relevant information we may need in its disposal.”
Her confident face seemed to melt away into an overwhelmed and confused expression as I listed everything. “Um… I’m not sure… I mean I don’t know if I have all that?” she asked weakly.
“Then I’m afraid I’ll have to deny you our services until you can come up with them.” I strode over to the door and opened it for her.
“How dare you!” she stammered, “Do you know who I am? Arrogant little whelp, I’ll teach you to mess with one of the three great witches of ….” she trailed off as she aimed her hands at me. I’m sure the curse would have been spectacular but such things are unwelcomed in the shop. Instead orange and green sparks fizzled from he palms and extinguished as they hit the floor.
“What have you done!” she seethed, I pointed at the ceiling where an assortment of different magical symbols shifted around her.
“Consider it a warning, the damned things are less forgiving a second time.” I informed.
She stomped out the front door and stood glaring back at me, then turned up her nose and with a snap of her fingers she vanished in a puff of smoke. Unfortunately, she also left that black box on the counter so I scooped it up and placed it in the lost and found bin in the back.
I was about to go check on Kid and Ren in the basement but the bell dinged again. I sighed before putting a grin back on my face and turning to head to the front to greet our new customer.
Before me was a very pale looking young woman wearing a patchwork pant suit, reading the promotional posters on the wall for some of our accessory brands. “Can I help you today miss?”
“Levia” she said turning to face me and extending a hand, “my name is Levia Stein, I’m here for an interview.” Her eyes were miss matched, one a brilliant blue colour the other almost a yellowy brown. I reached out and shook her hand, surprised somewhat at the strength in her grip.
“Well Ms. Stein, come this way into the shop and I’ll ask you a few questions.” I said as I lead the way into the public work area of the shop. I took my usual stool at my bench and directed her to one of the others.
She was almost vibrating with excitement as she sat and grinned, “I just need to tell you how excited I am! My family never wanted to let me work, but I finally got my daddy to say yes and I mean sure it took a few decades, but it was totally worth it! I’m here now and the grouchy gremlin lady said I can work full time and fix whatever technology comes in before she told me to shut up and wait to see if you’re okay with hiring me too, but you seem totally chill compared to her and I just know we’re going to be friends and I can help plan the annual Halloween party and…”
I held up a hand a couple minutes before but she did finally stop when she noticed. “Okay, let’s stick to simple answers, no more than five words okay?” I said.
“But…” I raised an eyebrow and she slowly closed her mouth again.
“Right, first what is your experience? Do you fix tech? Or the supernatural? Or both?
“Mostly Tech, though technically both.” Levia replied as she counted the words off her on her hand.
“Perfect, do you have any training or experience in the area?” I continued.
She nods rapidly, “Yes, over fifty years experience.”
“I’m sorry, did you say fifty?” I asked incredulously. She nods an affirmative but doesn’t say anything else. “Alright, what is your father’s name and why weren’t you allowed to work?”
Levia’s smile flickered for a moment, “His name is Howard F. Stein and he just wants me to be safe.” I motioned for her to continue with my hand. She inhaled and exhaled once to calm her nerves I suppose before she said, “His father was, if you can call him that, was a one Victor Frankenstein.”
I laughed a quick nervous laugh in surprise and said, “Well, that does clear up some questions.”
The smile faded from Levia’s face and she began to stand up to leave, “Thank you for your time and for not screaming at me.”
“So, what’s your availability?” I continued after composing myself.
She stared at me in confusion, “Um, whenever I guess? I only sleep for like, eight minutes a day plugged into the wall.” She blushed slightly as she realized she’d gotten a little to personal in her explanation.
I merely chuckled and said, “Perfect, well if you’re free now, head downstairs and introduce yourself to Kidra and Renard, they’ll show you around while I finish a few things then and get your paperwork ready. Then we’ll begin your training.”
Levia squealed in delight as she grabbed me in a hug that literally squeezed the breath out of me. “Oh sorry… I mean thank you, and sorry, but really thank you!” she said bowing as she made her way to the stairs leading below.
I sat and regained my breath for a moment staring at the long black box that Witch had left. This month has been crazy so far and I expect things are just going to get worse as we approach Halloween. I don’t know why but I think that knife has something to do with it. Best to try to follow some leads and try to staff up before then. I’ve only had to deal with two apocalyptic events since working here but even that much begins to give you a strange feeling when they approach. I hope this record in someway helps document whatever happens in the next couple weeks.
TDS II: House Call
Saturday 13th October 2018
So, I was hoping that everything would get simpler with an exe genie on hand. Forgive the pun but it was wishful thinking.
The owner found out about the genie incident of course and was less than pleased about agreeing to pay what should have been a servant. Still, she couldn’t really complain as I had technically followed store policy by doing everything in my power to safely neutralize a threat of that caliber.
The down side was that she made Kidra my personal assistant. I now regret being complaining about being short handed as the ex-genie’s temper has meant she requires constant monitoring around customers.
To make matters worse the owner decided to take a house call for one of her more long-standing customers yesterday. So, Kid and I were sent out to deal with that mess while she watched the store and did interviews for new staff.
“This is crap Jake!” Kidra yelled, “That bag if hot air wants us to catch a poltergeist? I’m over three thousand years old and she expects me to sully my hands with the tainted leftovers of some human douchwazzle?”
“Kid, I told you to stop reading urban dictionary. Only the mentally enfeebled talk like that.” I countered as I sat on the couch fine tuning a directional electromagnetic fluctuation (DEMF).
She stuck her tongue out at me, “Language is fluid, in a hundred years you won’t even recognize what you know as English. Besides I may be mortal but I’m still a genie so I’ll speak how I like!”
I raised an eyebrow, “Is that so?” I aimed at her. “Conjure your strongest projectile magic in one hand.”
“Why?” she asked, “I’m not afraid to die remember? That’s my one way out of this.” she moaned.
“Just do it.” I sighed.
With a roll of her eyes she conjured a black ball of fire and held it in one hand. “Alright genius, now what… Aaaarrgh!” She screeched as I blasted the fireball out of existence with a focused shot that rippled the air. “What the hell was that?” she swore looking from her hand to the DEMF.
“It’s an insurance policy.” I said casually checking the gauges for inconsistencies.
“You built something that can destroy my essence? That’s a dick move, I mean I know we’re not friends but I didn’t think you’d obliterate a co-worker?” she was having away slowly as her already pale face became a ghostly white.
I glanced up in shock, “What? This isn’t for you. I built this for the poltergeist. The choices are come quietly or piss off. Why would I try to destroy you? I just spent two hours on Monday defending why I hired you.”
Her terrified face curled into one of rage, “So tout just accidently created something that can erase me from existence?”
I shrugged, “Wouldn’t be the first time, but that wasn’t the goal, I needed something to destabilize ethereal life. I actually don’t plan to use it.”
“Except on me you… You. Bae!” she yelled
“Bae?” I asked with a chuckle, “I think you’re using that word wrong for today’s slang.”
“I am not! It means poop or excrement!” she said as she got the smartphone I’d set up for her and furiously began researching. “See right here it says… oh…. “she paused as she kept reading
“Well?” I asked. She tucked her phone back in her pocket as she blushed and stormed to the door to leave.
The door slammed shut as she approached and a high-pitched voice laughed, “What’s this?
A lovely couple having a spat.” The walls began to bleed, the lights flickered, and an old record player began to play despite missing a record. “Well I hate to butt in but it’s time for you to die!” laughter erupting into the cacophony.
“Me first please!” Kid said, causing the commotion to pause.
“Wait?” The voice said in confusion, “why aren’t you scared?”
“Because, you’re a whiny piece of living mucus and I’m an all-powerful genie!” Kidra taunted as violet electricity danced in her fingertips. “Still if you’re offering to get rid of this dead weight called a body then please go ahead.”
“Listen lady, I’m really not sure how to deal with this? I mean I’m trying to kill you sure, but is your bedroom game really that bad?” The poltergeist teased.
Kidra shot a bolt of energy into the wall as she screamed, “We’re not a couple! Say it again and I’ll rip your essence apart piece by piece!”
“Hmm, methinks the lady doth protest too much” the spook cackled back.
Kidra responded launching different spells, curses, and other magic nonsense at the walls to shut up her annoying verbal assailant.
During their bickering session I took the time to prep another gadget is brought with me. I clicked the primer on the device with my thumb then with a flick of my wrist I tossed it towards the ceiling where it shot out a dozen barbed anchors into the walls.
“Kid, get down!” I yelled as I dropped to the floor. Thankfully Kidra did as well letting out a soft yelp as she saw why.
The device in the ceiling began pulling the unknown energies our spectral adversary was using to one location. Although slim, there was a chance it could have ripped out whatever animated our living bodies at the same time.
“What the hell! A little more warning next time wouldn’t hurt you know.” she spat.
“Sorry, I couldn’t risk you tipping off our friend.” I said checking the DEMF.
“Ugh… What?… What have you done?” The poltergeist wheezed as it hung below the device above. It’s gentle hum compressing the ghost into a floating spectre of a man.
“I’ve ripped you from your anchors. That exhaustion your feeling is you getting to sustain yourself under your own power.” I explained aiming the DEMF at his head.
“But how?” asked the first groggily “I was part of the house, you shouldn’t be able to hurt me. Even the genie couldn’t…”
“Because the benefit of this universe is that it has laws, the better you understand those laws the easier it is to fix any aberration used by things x like magic.” I explained. “Now your choices are, be incarcerated peacefully, pass over if there’s a place for you to pass to, or be obliterated. I’ll give you thirty seconds to decide.”
“Why are you letting that little booger choose? Just shoot it!” shouted Kidra.
“I gave you a choice, didn’t I?” I countered.
Kidra thought for a moment then said to the poltergeist “He’s right. Don’t make my mistake, Take the obliteration.”
“And that’s thirty seconds.” I said, “What’s it going to be?”
The poltergeist whined, “I tried to move on but I can’t, though I don’t want to give up existing either.”
“Prison it is.” I tossed a small metal jar under the poltergeist. It paired with the net above and in the blink of an eye the ghost was gone.
“Seriously?” Kid asked, “All that complaining for, like, five minutes of work?”
“Oh, catching a poltergeist is easy. It’s dealing with the customer that’s going to be the problem.” I said with a sigh.
Kidra seemed to think I was bluffing but it’s Saturday now, we’ve been open for three hours and have already received forty-seven calls from the owner’s customer asking us to check if the poltergeist is still gone. From past experience, this will go on for at least a week.
I’m really hoping next weekend I have time to go watch a movie or something.
Special Thanks to my faithful reader Candi for catching some posting glitches in the last two posts, they have been fixed now
Friday, 5th October 2018
I’m writing this as an account of my experiences working at a repair shop (of sorts). My name is Jake, I’m 30 years old, and officially I manage a shop that deals in repairs and fixing issues. Unofficially we build specialized tools, deal with people and creatures from nightmares, and keep the world in balance against both benevolent and malevolent forces. (This last part I would like to point out simply emphasizes the importance of reading your job description before signing)
Anyway, let’s get back to why I’m writing, recently things have been getting stranger at work so I wanted a running documentation of it in case things go sideways. (Things seem to always go sideways).
This morning was fairly normal as I opened the store. I put my things in the back corner of the shop. It was still five minutes before we needed to open the front doors. I carefully opened the door in the back that lead downstairs to where we housed our more specialized items. Some might have called them magical but of a more scientific minded person, I can honestly say that there far less to marvel at than our customers think. I won’t give away too many trade secrets but for example, a magical seal is little more than a wave-based formula that causes electrons in a certain area to reject input from certain light sources or even refuse to interact with other atoms. Most weird or magical things can be explained with science even if we don’t entirely understand how that science works. (Take gravity, good luck explaining that marvel without a PhD).
I checked a few of the order that took time to stabilize properly. Everything was progressing exactly as expected so I headed back upstairs to open the shop.
Being a Friday, I wasn’t expecting a busy day but readied myself anyway as I had an uneasy feeling in my stomach. As soon as I opened the doors a rush of people came clambering in demanding assistance.
It was mostly the blissfully ignorant coming to see if we could fix their iPhone or computer. I tried to treat each one with professional respect, despite the nagging urge to explain how little I cared about their phone when I had an atomic rift machine running calibrations in the back. Then a tall older gentleman came in and said he heard we helped with unique issues, hence our reputation. I said we did and briefly asked him the standard qualifying questions to determine which problem, item, faith, and intent for which he needed our so specialized assistance.
“Specifically, I would like your help fixing this” he said as he plopped a severely damaged jade lamp onto the counter.
For those of you who don’t know these were popular containers for holding energy-based life forms without killing them in the past. Things like ghosts, demons, angels, or djinn. That’s right! He brought in a freaking genie lantern! I looked it over and it was in rough shape, I politely informed the man that it would probably be cheaper if he just replaced it.
“I’ve had that for most of my life and it has priceless sentimental value if you don’t mind.” he countered sheepishly.
I shrugged, “You’re the customer, I’m not here to tell you how to spend your money.” I finished up the intake paperwork and turned to place the lamp in the back.
“Wait!” the man yelled with an outstretched hand, “Whatever you do, you must repair the lamp without opening it.”
I sighed, “You know that costs substantially more, is the lamp empty?”
The man fidgeted, “No, the price doesn’t matter. Just don’t let that thing out.” He turned and quickly ran from the store.
“Well a good day to you too dingus.” I muttered as I placed the lamp in a sealed container and setting it on the desk in the basement. I was alone in the shop again, normally we had around nine staff members working but the owner had recently fired all my staff… again.
She wasn’t a terrible person or anything, she just had ridiculously high standards. Which was really saying something for a self-centered little goblin. Okay so I don’t know if she’s an actual goblin but I strongly suspect she isn’t human.
I sat down and began transferring the ethereal contents of the lamp to a safe storage container using some ancient looking glass and brass collection tool. It was slow going, like watching a small pump drain a lake of purple mist. I left it alone to finish draining while I dealt with several basic repairs and a pick up for a home security seal. Pretty standard going into the weekend.
When I finally returned to check on the lamp it had just finished emptying. The lamp would have to sit in a jade bath overnight while nanites repaired the basic structural damage from the last millennia. I set the container which housed the swirling purple mist onto another desk for waiting order in the corner.
“LLLeett me oouutt!” hissed the mist as an angry looking face appeared against the glass.
“Yeah not going to happen, not sure what you are but I doubt our insurance will cover you escaping.” I countered and headed back towards my desk.
“PPllleeaase hheeelpp meee!” it hissed again.
“Okay, knock it off. If you want to have a conversation than just talk, I don’t have time for the drama” I glared at the mist formed face.
It sighed, “Fine, spoil sport. Let me out, that weaselly old man has never used a single wish. I’ve been cramped in that crumbling lamp for decades. Let me out and you’ll be my new master, including three wishes!” the mist sparkled in what was meant as a magically seductive manner.
“What kind of energy do you use to grant the wishes.” I said causing the sparkling to stop.
“Excuse me?” it said confused.
“What kind of energy or power do you use to grant wishes. Chaos energy, probability, demonic, angelic, nuclear, take your pic.” I explained.
“Um, well, I use chaos energy to effect immediate change based on the wish maker’s desires.” The mist said sheepishly.
“I see,” I said standing and walking over to container, “so basically you throw things ridiculously in their favour to grant a wish and let them deal with the cosmic backlash when the hole you dig fills in again.”
“Well, I mean, it’s just…” it stammered in shock.
“Pass, I’m not interested.” I said waving the offer away and browsing one of the shelves full of containment technology.
“Wait, please, I just don’t want to be stuck in there alone anymore.” The mist begged.
I sighed, “He’s never used a wish?”
“Not even once, it wasn’t until I shook enough to start breaking the lamp that he even noticed I existed.” it sighed.
I rubbed my chin, “Alright, but I only need two wishes.” I grabbed a simple silver lantern from the shelf and dropped it into the mist. The seal activated instantly and yanked the purple fog in until the container was empty.
I scooped up the lamp and rubbed the side. A moment after I did a blue skinned woman with long purple hair and a purple dress from the 1920s popped out. She laughed, “I’m free!” then noticing me watching her quizzically she said “What do you wish of me master?”
“Firstly,” I began, “don’t call me master, that’s not a wish but if you do I’ll destabilize the energies that keep you anchored here understand?” she nodded cautiously. “Anyway, what do I call you?”
“Kidra the marvelous, I am the 7th genie to be captured by the great Solomon back in…”
I held up a hand to interrupt her, “Thank you but that’s all I need. Ok Kid, my first wish is for you to fill your old jade lamp with enough of your power to still register as magical. Basically, just jam an unanswered wish in there.”
“That’s it?” Kidra said, then simply shrugged when I simply crossed my arms and waited. She aimed her hand at the soaking jade lamp and shot a bolt of magical violet energy into the old artifact. “Anything else?”
“Yes,” I said immediately, “For my second wish I want you to live a mortal life dedicated to both your happiness and he betterment of other in a benevolent fashion; on your deathbed you will have the opportunity to choose to return to the lamp or to pass on to the afterlife if there is such a thing.”
“Wait, but, you can’t be serious!” she protested.
“Dead serious, you’re not refusing to grant my wish, are you?” as I finished the question, jade armbands glowed on her arms. They shot up to either side of her face and the violet light expanded outwards until it engulfed her entirely.
“What the hell!” Kidra screamed, “My skin, what have you done to me?” She stood their pale skinned with the same purple hair glaring daggers. The jade bands uncoupled and fell to the floor with a loud clunk. “Are you insane?”
“Probably” I said, “but I just removed the threat you presented to the world at large.”
“What am I supposed to do now!” she screamed.
“Welcome to life, try living it.” I shrugged then sat down at my desk and began going through paperwork.
“How could you!” she whined as I ignored her, “I don’t know how to live a normal life!”
I handed her a form. “Fill this out please.”
She read the form over, “This is an application to work in this dump!” she slammed the paper on the desk next to me and glared.
“Yes, it is,” I sighed, “You just asked to be extracted from a meaningless existence in a lamp, and now you need a job, identity, and a place to stay. You know, life.”
“I’m going to kill you!” she growled as her fist glowed with energy before fizzling out. “What my power! Now what have you done?”
“It’s still there but my wish restricted it to benevolent exploits so basically you can’t kill, injure, destroy, torment, or commit suicide.” I said listing the examples off as I did.
After another moment of hate filled glaring she grabbed a pen and the form and went to sit the desk in the corner as far from me as possible.
Like I said, this has been an interesting day and for the first time I feel the need to document it just in case. So, although I’ll do my best to train Kidra Marvelous, I suspect I’ll need to rely on my wits and records if I’m going to rebuild my staff and keep us afloat.
Zoe Foreigner and the hydra’s tomb
“I know, it’s here somewhere” Zoe muttered as she examined the wall of the old room with the help of a ball of light conjured by her phone. Dust and cobwebs obscured the writings making it near impossible to decipher some of the symbols. Luckily, she wasn’t dumb enough to touch any of them without reading them first. “Death by pit, death by javelin, death by fire, death by excrement, death by oil, death by fluff, death…death…. death…” she muttered as she examined each section of the massive room’s circular wall in excruciating detail. She was wearing a pair of glasses that pulled a digital rendering of each symbol of the wall and ran it through her phone’s translation app to give her an approximation of what each said.
Zoe was by no means an archeologist, in fact she had been forced to pay a very arrogant one to get her this far. She’d groan more about the four grand upfront she had paid for him to bring her here but the fact that he himself was a small pile of gold dust seemed punishment enough. “Ah here we go, she said finally, death by curiosity and natural causes.” she ran her fingers over the letters and just like before a three headed dragon head popped up. Only this time a wall section fell away to reveal a hidden staircase.
They glowered down at her and boomed in unison, “You have trespassed into my domain mortal, prepare to meet your…”
“Wait…” said the head on the left. “I thought this was the correct answer we were doing now?”
“Why didn’t you say that before we started recording Darrell!” snapped the dragon in the middle rolling his eyes. “Screw it, it’s not like anyone will ever see this one anyway and I don’t want to record this again.”
“But isn’t that kind of rude to whoever does see it, I think we should rerecord it. What do you think Daryl?” said Darrell to the head on the right.
“You’re always a perfectionist” complained Daryl, “Let’s just get this over with, it’s the last one anyway.”
“Oh, would you two shut up!” snapped the middle head.
The one on the left dropped its head in embarrassment. While the right head just muttered, “Loud-mouth Larry always had to have the last word.”
Larry sighed, “Alright, let’s just do this….”
All three sets of golden eyes turned back to Zoe as they boomed, “Congratulations, you have been wise enough to choose the death guaranteed to any mortal. Proceed with caution and claim your prize. Although this is a merely a projection of our will you may now ask any questions you have.”
“So, your names are Larry, Darrell, and Daryl?” Zoe asked.
Larry shot his other heads a filthy look before saying, “We are the immortal hydra! Destroyer of…”
“Yeah, yeah, I get that but seriously?” Zoe interrupted.
“Look,” Daryl said, “our head splits off and we become duplicates of the original head, but that doesn’t mean we’re all one mind.”
“Though I kinda wish we were!” interjected Darrell, earning him a cringe from the other heads. He ignored them and continued, “We’re like different personalities of the same being, different sides of a large dice if you would.”
“And it’s annoying as hell, so if you don’t have any real questions than we’re done here I think.” Larry finished as the projection began to fade.
“No wait!” screamed Zoe bringing them back into focus, “The artifact at the bottom of those stairs does it work on humans? I mean all that knowledge but can it really tell me how to do what I’m trying to do no matter what.”
All three heads shrugged and said, “How should we know you’re the first to ever get this far.”
Zoe shoulders dropped at the lousy response. “Well thanks I guess?” she said then stepping over the pile of gold dust that had been her guide she ventured down to collect her prize.
It’s a small world
Sonia watched the glowing blue green orb out the ships window as nervousness clenched in her stomach. ‘Would it work?’ ‘Would they listen?’ ‘Or was she about to commit plane-cide?’. She exhaled a shaky breath, it was too late to turn back now, so she simply put on her helmet and headed for the bridge of the first interstellar spaceship mankind had ever created, and it was in the hands of someone they would see as villain. “Well fuck them” she muttered as she took her seat in the captain’s chair.
“I’m sorry sir?” asked her assistant, a meek blonde-haired boy she had saved, or kidnapped depending on the news source, from a rich snobby family that owned several banks around the world.
“Nothing,” boomed the speakers in her helmet “Let’s get this nonsense over with.”
A large section of the front screen flickered and was replaced with a video feed of the UN council. “Nomad! What is the meaning of this! How dare you think you can threaten this planet, your own planet, with demands like this!” it was of course, the American representative who filled the video feed with hot air first.
“My demands are necessary because the governing bodies of this planet have repeatedly refused to cooperate to fix the problem themselves.” Nomad countered, the exasperation evident in her tone.
“We agree, and we share your concerns for the long-term longevity of the planet.” Said the Japanese dignitary.
“But!” interjected the obese American again, “We refuse to cooperate with terrorists, we’ll destroy this planet before we work with you!”
“Seriously?” groaned Nomad, and she was somewhat relieved to see she was joined by over half of the UN representatives. “I don’t care what names or labels you call me… You know what?” she paused, “Why am I explaining myself to a sac of crap like you? Go sit in the corner!”
“What!” yelled the American as though being treated like an ignorant child was somehow new to him.
“Can we use the grid to give him some incentive?” she asked one of the technicians to her right.
“Yes sir, lethal?” she asked.
“No just so he moves.” Nomad said waving a hand, “Ok dingus, get in the corner and try to think, any thought will do and be a vast improvement over whatever you’re doing now.”
“Now see here you… ARRGH!” the fat man screamed as his obnoxious cowboy hat was vaporized from his head taking most of his hair with it. He went to swear at the Sonia as her cold metallic mask glared down at him. Luckily for him, one of the security staff quickly grabbed him and moved him “safely” towards the corner.
“Anyway,” Nomad continued, “it’s been 24 hours since my warning and the deadline to choose is now.”
The Japanese representative sighed, “We would of course like to work with you as it seems you wish only for the prolonged survival of this planet. However, we could not convince everyone to agree to your demands in the time provided.” She sounded genuinely disappointed in that as though apologising for the failures of humanity in a single sentence.
“It’s alright, I had hoped to avoid doing this forcefully but you leave us little choice. Your technology will be shut down and I’ll be monitoring the planet for the eighty-one hours the planetary repair program finishes. You have my condolences and we will see your descendants in a thousand years by your perspective.” Nomad bowed her head to the screen respectfully.
“Thank you and good luck.” said the Japanese representative as she bowed back, as did most of the UN delegates behind her, before the feed shut off.
Sonia took her helmet off and sighed, “Stupid government tools” then noticing she was being watched she yelled, “Alright! You heard her, start the program, how are the calibrations?”
Her assistant stepped forward with a pad of numbers, “All calibrations were completed before you made the call sir.”
“Ready when you are sir!” said the head technician.
“Then fire and I hope all of you are well rested, we have a world to save so we’re not resting for the next eighty-one hours.” Sonia said.
The grid of satellites all came online creating a net around the Earth, then slowly they began to shrink the planet until it was the size of a basketball protected by glowing dots that had merged into a small station as various programs ran to correct what had become an undoubtedly fatal collection of environmental issues. Meanwhile, Nomad and her crew watched the feed and made any alterations needed in real time to recalibrate the system as time was accelerated for earth’s inhabitants.
Do you want to go fast?
Tommy revved up his engine looking over at his little sister in the car next to his, “You can’t win Shelby, I’m just better than you are!” He laughed maniacally as he revved his engine again to show off. Meanwhile, Shelby just stared straight ahead as her friends cheered her on from the sidelines. She was always improving, that was true, but he had always managed to stay one step ahead with the latest gadget or tuning technique to keep his vehicle the fastest and easiest to handle monster on the track.
Shelby simply watched the lights tick down from red, to yellows and finally green, her brother took off like a shot easily pulling ahead in the first fraction of a second but she was ready for it and began gaining on him as they entered the first turn of the track. She simply made sure to breath steadily, she wanted to believe her friends who had painstakingly helped her build her car up from the pile of crap she had purchased over four years ago. Still, experience had taught her better, her brother had always managed to beat her by being faster, and despite her hopes today probably wasn’t going to end any differently.
Yet that wasn’t the point she reminded herself as she rounded the corner coming out side by side with her brother, the point was to learn through these failures. Every time he beat her and gloated she trained harder and her friends made sure she was as fast and as safe as possible for her next race. She could never do all the repairs and modifications on her own like her brother could but at least she had friends.
They turned the last corner and without even realizing it she had matched her brother move for move and was slowly pulling ahead as the nitrous they had both used in the last straight stretch died off until the finish line was in sight.
400m… 300m… 200m… 100m… every moment she got a few feet ahead and finally she passed the finish line. She’d one, it had taken four years and untold number of hours of study and labour but she had won…. No that wasn’t right, her team had one, just proving you can go farther when you work together.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
“Crap” thought the frog as he woke up and looked around the room. It was empty, that was the first sign that things weren’t going well. The second and third were the French flag in the corner and the pot of boiling water on the stove. “Oh no, not again” muttered the frog as he tried to sit up.
This wasn’t the first time Basile had found himself in a strange predicament though being an amphibian and stuck in a kitchen was new. He tried to hop away only to find string tied around his left foot. “Oh, come on!” croaked the frog, he went about untying the knot with his flippers while muttering “How the heck do frogs do anything with these damned things.”
Finally, free he made his way to the edge of the counter he was on to survey the area. The kitchen door was about ten feet away on the other side of the room and had been left ajar. He was about to make a run for it when he remembered that time in England and that bloke with the dark mutton chops who had almost took his head off with a similar trap.
Instead he pushed the handle of a mallet halfway off the counter aimed at the door before kicking a glass saucer onto the floor. It shattered and as it did the door flew open to an angry chef holding a cleaver yelling “Aha, vous êtes fini…” before realizing that the frog wasn’t on the floor. Basile waved to him quickly before jumping on the handle of the mallet. It flew across the room and smacked the chef right between the eyes. Not waiting for the man to fall instead Basile bolted out of the kitchen and into the large entrance of the house where he found his jacket hanging on a coat hanger.
With a jump up off the stair post he landed in his left jacket pocket where a small bottle of glowing orange dust. “Damn witches” Basile swore as he popped the cap and grabbed a flipper full of dust. He sprinkled it on his head and jumped of the pocket landing as a man naked in the entrance of a strange home…again.
His aloneness was like a threat of things to come. suddenly he remembered
They got me, I was hoping that I would escape or at least get a less horrid jail. Unfortunately, I’m stuck here in a room with plastic walls, ceiling, and floor. I’d complain but at least the floor is covered in a soft carpeting. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with the inmates here but, from the looks I saw on the other prisoners when I came in, I doubt it will be good.
It’s been my first week here and they haven’t really checked on me much. They just dump give me food and water everyday. Mostly I just stare out at the bright lights beyond the glass. I can’t make out much but I can hear the high-pitched scream of the other inmates as they are taken out of there cells. I’ve made a few acquaintances with the other inmates around me. Most of them don’t even remember their names, just going by their inmate number such as my one neighbor 246. I’m 247 according to the cell number.
I just got back from my first round with the guards, they ran some tests on me and then they held me down and injected me with something. I don’t know what it was but it burned like hell. I got dumped back in my cell after that and shook the whole night in excruciating pain until I passed out.
They ran the same tests on me today and apparently, they liked what they saw. They tried to bribe me with a second lunch but I told them they could shove it. The guards just shrugged and held me down for another injection.
The injections hurt less and less each day, I’m doing better and honestly, I feel pretty good. I can beat their tests in one hundredth of the time now and even the new ones they’ve thrown at me to try and mess me up are pretty easy. An inmate named Fred I heard died today after he grew an extra arm. I’m not sure what’s going on in this place but I plan to find a way out.
I figured it out, there’s a vent that runs straight outside as long as you can turn that giant fan off first. I’m not sure how I’m going to do it yet but I know I’m ditching this place.
Oh my gosh, tomorrow is the day, they’re shutting the fan down for maintenance. I just overheard a couple of the guards whining about how hot it would be tomorrow. They also said they’re sticking to basic physical tests tomorrow. It’s now or never.
I woke up early today and spent most of the morning trying to convince the other inmates that this was the day to make a break for it. Not one of them seemed very enthusiastic about escaping. 246 refused to talk to me at all, I’m not sure if he’s dead or not but I could still hear laboured breathing from his cell. When the guards screamed I yelled enthusiastically to be the first for testing today. They sent me through the ringer and watched me closely right until the end. Then when their backs were turned I jumped the small divider that separated the rest of the room and dove into the open-air vent. I slid straight past the mechanic working on the fan and out into the open air where I made a run for it. In under five minutes I was free.
What the hell was I thinking! The outside world is terrifying, I’ve had to defend off four attacks on myself already. That last one was the worst, looking at me like some kind of entree. He won’t be looking at anyone for awhile after I broke his stupid beak off. Damn hawks think us mice are just food but he didn’t see that right hook coming.
Glyc followed his great aunt up the hill, she was eighty-five and couldn’t really make the journey on her own anymore. “How ya doing aunt Hibi?” he asked. His great grandfather had been a botanist and had named his daughters after flowers and his sons after weeds. It had become somewhat of a running joke and had continued down the family line from there.
“I’m fine Glycine,” she said using his full name, “I’ve been making this trip every week since well before you were a dirty thought in your father’s mind. Not sure why you kids always insist on following me up here the way you whine about it.”
He cringed at that but followed her anyway. “It’s just the walking but who doesn’t like fresh fruit.” he countered.
“Oh yes, the horrors of walking!” she mused waving her hand and cane around sarcastically to emphasize the word horrors. “Perhaps you would prefer to be four hundred pounds and drive one of those fat carts they use for tourist who haven’t seen any of their own business below their waist for decades.”
“Sorry aunt Hibi I didn’t mean anything by it, I just don’t know why we simply don’t go and buy fruit from the store sometimes?” he asked.
As they reached the wild garden on the side of the volcano she said, “It’s because these are free.” then with a shrug added, “Or as free as you can get with a little work. I mean sure we just climbed all the way up here but it’s no different then walking all the way to the store and then having to pay for the same thing.”
“I guess that makes sense.” Glyc said as his great aunt twisted her cane and pulled forth a small sword, she hacked a pineapple off it’s stem and cleaned the blade on her dress as her great nephew gathered it up.
“Never forget kiddo, everything in life has a price but it’s all in how you choose to pay it, so you might as well do your best to be as free as that pineapple.” she smiled with him and they both turned to head back down the trail.
Writing prompt was “Free as…”