Month: October 2017

Boy, that escalated quickly: A Lesson in Facebook Writing Posts

Hey everyone,

Three days ago I posted the following picture on Facebook…


It seemed like a really cool idea…

Spoilers: It was. I stand by that.

In fact, as I write this someone else just commented.

When I posted it, I didn’t really think about how many I would have to do.
At a guess, I would have said 10.

48. (Including the guy who just commented)

I ended up writing with 49 of them.

Right now, the document I’m storing them in is 9,590 words long and 18 pages.

All fresh ideas and all using names of people I know on Facebook.

My method was simple. I looked at their name, their comment, and thought about what I k new about the person. Then I went with the first image I conjured for them. What came next was a great exercise that took a lot of time but produced some pretty decent work…At Least, I think so. People have been complimentary.

So what am I doing here?

Below you will find all of them…

Yes all of them. It’s a long post.

Feel free to read all of them or none of them.

Ctrl+F and find your name.

Additionally, I have still managed to get in almost 3,000 words in on my current novel as well. So…this hasn’t been ALL consuming.

There are included a few extra ones too. I wrote one for Brandy using the same guidelines and also my friend Bud wrote one for me, which was really sweet (and excellently written I might add).

I’ll add more if they come in.

-scritch out


Facebook writing challenge:

  1. Brooke Heintz: It was a brisk night, not unlike the evenings in late autumn when the air smells of fresh earth and burning leaves. The city street was empty save for its one occupant pounding the sidewalk as if her every step would be her last. With a look of consternation, Brooke Heintz carved a path down the road with grim determination and the crackle of her red trench coat rippling in the wind behind her. There was something in the air, she knew. Something ineffable she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Stuffing her hands in her pockets, she felt for her mother’s ancient talisman. There it was, cold as ice against her fingertips, a cruel comfort against whatever spirits had escaped their confines.
  2. Brad Cain: Brad Cain scratched his forehead. The answers were here, he was certain of it. For hours now, he had leafed through voluminous text after voluminous text searching for the secret to his peculiar abilities. Glancing over a column of text for key words and phrases, he caught the word he had been looking for – pyrokinesis. The word gave no further explanation, but it was there. The passage was all but useless, but it gave him hope. He was getting closer.
  3. Aili Huber: “I’m warning you.” Aili Huber said, planting her feet and jabbing the tip of her index finger into the behemoth’s chest. He wasn’t a tall man, but he was thick – like an ox that had learned to walk. With a sneer he laid his hand on her shoulder. I warned you, she thought, her hand snapping it his wrist. In a blur of motion, she struck. Spinning like a dervish, she drove her heel into his knee, her fist into his stomach, and the edge of her hand into his throat. The man collapsed; folded on top of himself like clothes dropping from a line. He wasn’t the first, she thought, and he probably wouldn’t be the last. With one final kick to the fool’s stomach, she strode along into the temple. Being a warrior queen wasn’t always what it was cracked up to be.
  4. Michael Allen Davis: “Two thousand credits,” croaked the Rodian merchant, “Take it or leave it.” My’Kal dayVis didn’t have that kind of money. He was barely scraping by on the few credits he made every week and couldn’t spare one let alone two thousand. But kyber crystals were hard to come by. Adjusting his cloak over his broad shoulders, My’Kal examined the market. Despite being on the outer fringes of imperial space, you could never tell when a Stormtrooper might be looking over your shoulder. Taking a breath through his nose, My’Kal waved his hand on the counter. “You want to sell me the crystal at a fair price,” He said. “I want to sell you the crystal at a fair price,” The merchant echoed. “15% over cost will be fine.” The Rodian struggled for a second before replying. “15% over cost will be fine.” The merchant held out his hand. “Three credits,” He said. My’Kal smiled. The Jedi may be all but dead now, but at least he could power his lightsaber again.
  5. Bud Thompson: The man held up one finger as if to say something profound when something struck him as odd. He had no idea who or where he was. His heart started to race. He had been talking to someone a moment ago, hadn’t he? Where did she go? Had it been a woman? He thought it was a woman. Skimming over his pockets, he searched for anything that might give him a clue as to what he was doing. Other than the Detroit Tigers baseball cap on his head, he wore no other distinguishing article of clothing. Useless. Breathing in deep to steady his nerves, he turned around in a tight circle. On the ground behind him was an open wallet. Kneeling down beside it, he looked at the driver’s license. “Bud Thompson,” he said, “Who the hell is Bud Thompson?”
  6. Justin Winters: “Take me, you bastards,” Justin Winters screamed at the top of his lungs, “Take me!” Flailing his arms over his head like an angry child, Justin waved to the flashing lights in the sky. They hummed for a few moments longer before streaking away through the night sky and leaving the mountaintop in grim silence. He stood, upset and perplexed, as he stared at the vacant place in the sky the UFO had just occupied. Scratching his scalp, he began the long walk home. For fifteen nights, those lights had appeared to him and fourteen times he had followed them. He was getting closer. He could feel it.
  7. Ashley Nicole: Setting her half-empty pint down on the bar, Ashley Nicole scrunched her nose. What was that smell? The bar she frequented every Thursday night wasn’t famous for its hygiene, but it wasn’t known for smelling like shit either. Spinning slowly on her stool, she looked around. Aside from the old man half-asleep in the corner, the place was empty. Most places were at 3 a.m. Dropping down from her seat, she followed the scent. It seemed to grow stronger the closer she came to the kitchen. She’d never looked back there despite ten years of consistent patronage. Pressing the door open after a cautious glance through the glass window, she stepped inside. Her breath caught in her throat. Bill the cook was sprawled out on the ground, his intestines torn from his body and splayed out over the tile floor like ivy creeping up the side of a house. The waitress squatted over him, rifling through his guts. Stepping back slowly, Ashley tried to walk backwards through the door. A loud clanging behind her alerted the waitress. The woman’s head rose slowly, like an animal expecting its master. Her face was polluted by viscera and her eyes were completely black. “Mistress?” The waitress asked as Ashley turned and ran.
  8. Elizabeth Henry: “I’ll bite,” Elizabeth Henry said, folding her arms and gesturing to the man with her chin, “How do you do it?” The magician before her flashed a smile showing too many teeth as he stepped down from the platform. “You know what they say about magicians who reveal their secrets.” He said as he grew closer. “No. What?” Elizabeth replied. “Nothing.” He said, leaning down in front of her. This close, she could feel his breath on her face. It smelled like rotting fish. Waving her hand before her nose, she dispelled the scent before extending her arm. Careful to avoid the touch, the magician backed away with arms outstretched. “If no one can guess my method,” He shouted, his voice growing just a little hoarse, “you must assume I can do magic!” Elizabeth grunted, folding her arms. Just because she hadn’t figured him yet didn’t mean he could do magic. The Magus Academy’s tests were infallible, and they didn’t recruit just anyone. Deciding to give the man a few more minutes, she shifted in her seat and braced for another sleight of hand trick.
  9. Ann Celeste: The clouds swirled, sucked down into the vortex and distilled in the vial. Once her servant had secured the stopper, Ann Celeste lowered her ancient staff. The concoction wouldn’t last long in that small glass vial. She would need to bring it home before the drought wiped out the last of her people. Staring toward her homeland, a gentle breeze rippled her flowing white and blue robes; regalia she wasn’t certain she deserved anymore. Cloud-callers weren’t as powerful as the legends had led her to believe. She supposed if she could still provide her people with water, it would have to be enough for her.
  10. Stephanie Spence: “Sweep the leg.” It was a quote she knew all too well. Growing up, Stephanie Spence had watched The Karate Kid more times than she could count. Standing opposite her opponent, the line echoed now in the recesses of her mind. The woman she fought was one of the best she had ever seen, but she left her plant leg exposed every time she kicked high. Drawing the woman’s attention toward her face, Stephanie went low, her brown hair whipping behind her back. The woman saw the attack unfold but could nothing. Her snap kick was committed. Stephanie swept the leg.
  11. Lindsey Douglas: The pictures before her were grim. No worse than she was used to, but bad enough to keep her up at night regardless. Thirty-eight stab wounds, she counted. Standing between her desk and the corkboard, Lindsey Douglas examined the photos from the crime scene. Tapping her thumbnail against her teeth, she poured over them pixel by pixel looking for something she missed. This was excessive. Anger? Maybe. Passion? Perhaps. But there was something else. A green deterioration she hadn’t noticed around one wound in the right ribcage. Her heart raced and breathing stopped. Poison. A poisoned blade? Her partner and captain would call her crazy. The toxicology report had already come back negative, but if this was the Water Moccasin again, or even a copycat, dozens of people could die. Pulling back her hair, she sat down at her desk. She had work to do.
  12. Tim Unis: “I will eat your soul!” The succubus screeched. Any ordinary man or woman would have buckled beneath that call, drawn in by the demon’s irresistible allure. Tim Unis was no ordinary man, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t play along. “It’s yours,” Tim whispered, “my queen.” The warped monster pulled its bloated body toward him like wet cloth drawn across stones. Sucking and squishing, it wormed closer and closer to him. He had yet to meet the hell-beast that could survive a silver-tipped bolt fired at point blank range. Most of the time it was the only way to kill the bastards. Within a hair’s breadth from him, Tim lunged back, drew his crossbow, and shot the succubus between the eyes. Its tongue lolled out of its mouth and it fell with one last squelch. “Not today, I guess.” He shrugged, shouldering Doombringer, the weapon of the gods.
  13. Amanda Grah: “Oh, I’m definitely stealing this.” Amanda Grah whispered, inching closer to the glass case of relics. The glass contained no less than thirty pieces of jewelry – crowns, bangles, and earrings mostly with an odd pendant or two. For the most part, these were useless. There was something else though buried beneath the pile. Amanda wasn’t even certain what it was, but it contained a fair amount of magick. Ignoring the Don’t Touch Glass sign, Amanda touched the glass, drawing in the power through her palms. Her cheeks flushed as she exhaled, the magicks warming her chest. A siren sounded above her and guards shouted indistinct commands in a language she couldn’t understand. Expending the magick here in the room she stole it seemed a perfectly good waste of resources. “Guess I’ll just have to fight my way out.” She mumbled, summoning her twin daggers from the immaterial universe. Thinking about the magicks in her chest, she flung herself at the nearest guard. It was worth it, she supposed, to keep the reserve. New Rome wouldn’t be rebuilt in a day.
  14. Benjamin Erikson: Benjamin Erikson adjusted the fur of his wolfskin cloak to better keep the cold off his neck. No point getting sick while standing guard duty. It had rained now for three straight weeks without a break. The wet would be bad enough if it also hadn’t been just cold enough to keep the water from freezing. He would take snow over rain any day of the week. The overcast clouds set the sprawling landscape beyond the castle on edge, cast in endless hues of black, white, and gray. Clutching the sword at his side, he studied the horizon. In the ten years since he took up his post, he had seen no one other than the guards who relieved him every night, and he was beginning to think no one else existed in those lands to the south.
  15. Livvie Owens: Every day felt a burden. The putrid green Sun beat down on the horizon making everything look sickly. How many days had it been since the Great Merging of Worlds? That’s right. Twenty-two. It had been just over three weeks since the world essentially ended. Livvie Owens was a survivor. She had always considered herself one, but this was different. As far as she knew, she was only one of fourteen to have survived that final, fateful day when the Metacurians had brought their world into ours. At the very least, she consoled herself with the knowledge they’d been wiped out too.
  16. Danielle Andrukitis: This wasn’t Danielle Andrukitis’ first rodeo. In fact, it was her nineteenth. Rodeo was also a pretty loose term in regards to what she was doing. Was she wearing a cowboy hat? Sure. Jeans? Yes. Holding a saddle? Check. She was also on the back of a Sztrrian Deathbeast, suspended upside down in a water-tank. For the worst riders, survival meant a month’s rations. For the best, it meant riches she couldn’t imagine. Danielle was stuck somewhere in between. Adjusting the strap on her impervious glasses, she made the “ready” gesture to the umpire. Just one more ride, she told herself. She always told herself that. It was more of a mantra than a promise. Just one more ride.
  17. Lauren McDonald: What was it her father had called her? Gifted. That’s what it was. If she was being honest, Lauren McDonald had never felt gifted. Now more so than ever, drenched in the blood of the Thousandfold Legion. Who knew there could be so much blood in a man? The rage had taken her again. She knew it had. She knew this because she couldn’t remember killing anyone. But here they lay just the same. Dead by her hand. Letting her axes drop, she wiped some of the blood from her hands on the back of her leather jerkin and chainmail skirt. These were the only areas unmarred by gore. Looking up at the horizon, she caught a glimpse of someone looking down at her from the hillside. That would be her father, she supposed. Gifted, he had called her. Gifted.
  18. Steve Zook: The merchant life wasn’t for everyone. Long days and nights aboard countless freighters traveling between star systems was a tedious lifestyle. Steve Zook, however, loved it. It afforded him the luxury to do something his father and his grandfather before him had longed dreamed of doing. Exploring the universe. Tucking his plasma pistol into the folds of his red, silken sash, he leaned back against his rough woolen sack. What was in there again? He barely knew these days. He had been across ten galaxies in as many days and hadn’t slept for more than three hours at any given time. Exhausted, he closed his eyes. In just under twelve hours, he would finally be home with whatever his journey had provided for him; a few trinkets and a fair amount of wealth. It was going to be a good year in the Zook household. It would be indeed.
  19. Tiffany Hornak: Something sharp stuck Tiffany Hornak in the side. It was different than the pains she felt whenever she ran hard. This was something else. Hissing, she slowed to a stop and pressed her hand to the source of the pain. Taking it away, she saw blood. Looking around, she searched for signs of an attacker. There was none. Was this just another part of the game? Removing her virtual reality helmet, she looked around the gaming pod. It was as enclosed as ever, complete with flashing lights and reality enhancing spheres. A thin trickle of blood leaked from the same spot on her side, oozing through the thin fabric of her jumpsuit. What had happened? Twisting the latch on the pod, she tried to exit. It was locked. That was normal. She couldn’t exit until her training session was complete. Kicking against the door would do no good, she knew. This was Atrium after all. Frowning, she pulled the helmet over her head and logged back into the game. She’d just have to finish as quickly as possible.
  20. Brad Sytsma: The Harlequin Road wasn’t a long walk. Situated between two small towns, the footpath would take only a few hours to traverse. Unless, of course, you were harassed by thieves. The road had become a haven recently for the dregs and lowlifes who had been evicted from the nearby up and coming cities. It is for this reason, Brad Sytsma found himself walking the Harlequin Road. As a child, he had wanted to be a thief. A dashing rogue of myth and intrigue, to be more specific. But with shoulders as wide as a horse and arms as thick an oak tree, he was far better suited as a warrior. A rustle of leaves and few snapping twigs told him he had found some of the outlaws wandering the forest. In three heartbeats, he was surrounded. The men looked hungry, half-mad by the looks of them, and reeking of desperation. There had been far fewer victims as of late it seemed. Unfastening his broadsword from his back with careful precise movements, Brad readied for the attack. Before the blade had left its sheath, the first man attacked. Driving the pommel of the sword into his attacker’s face, Brad thwarted to his right just as the man’s feet went out from under him. Throwing his sheathe to the side, Brad set the flat of the sword against his right shoulder. “Next.”
  21. Adam Ferguson: The highway stretched out before him, splitting the desert in half, and extending into the horizon. Knuckles white on the steering wheel, Adam Ferguson drove his old Buick LeSabre as fast as the old thing could manage without falling apart. At eighty miles per hour, it was already threatening to throw him loose at any moment. The wind tore through the open windows, overpowering the classic rock station he had at full volume. It was difficult to tell, but he thought it might be AC/DC. A sign passed on the right like a streak of florescent green light. He only caught it out of the corner of his eye, but he already knew what it said. New San Diego – 80 miles.
  22. CJ Wood: CJ Wood stared unblinking at her computer screen willing the numbers on the screen to change. When tears started to blur her vision, the reality of what she was seeing began to set in. Embezzlement. On a grand scale. For years. Clicking through form after form, she couldn’t believe no one had ever seen the pattern. Decimal points shifted, zeroes added, bogus accounts created and then deleted. All the evidence was there. “Okay, okay, okay.” She whispered, slapping her cheeks to work some feeling into them. One luxury of her position was the silence and solitude. She had taken to talking to herself to fill that void. “What does it mean?” She found herself saying again and again, “What does it mean?” Did she need to tell someone? The thought turned her stomach. The Federation was notoriously stringent with these types of investigations, and she could end up caught in the crossfire. Perhaps that was why no had ever said anything. Offering the incriminating documents one last look, she picked up her receiver and pressed three. Legal would have to get involved. Groaning, she waited for someone to answer the call. And she had been having such a good day.
  23. Annie Lewis: The duster was just a little too big for her, but she liked it that way. It was black, like the night sky during a storm, and as heavy as water-laden wool. Tying its leather belt around her waist, Annie Lewis fixed her eyes on the approaching tanks. They rolled over the smoldering remains of the old prison which had once harbored some of the hardest and vilest criminals alive. Now they were nothing more than dust. With eyes almost as dark as her jacket, Annie watched those monstrosities roll past her and on to the next town. The soldiers marching along with the vehicles could neither see nor hear her. For all intents and purposes, she was a ghost, and this latest mission had left her feeling like one – yearning for a simpler life she could never have again. Pulling on her leather gloves, she wondered if those desires made her weak. It was only a weakness, she decided, if she allowed someone to use it against her, which was something that could never happen again. With nothing to lose, she followed after the tanks leaving ruin in her wake.
  24. Bri Lindsey: The air was cold and crisp and a fresh layer of snow littered the ground making everything around Bri Lindsey seem new – A brand-new world born of ice. With careful steps she walked the country lane beside her home, embracing not only the cold but also the winter sky. The stars always seemed clearer to her right after snowfall. Out of the corner of her eye, a streak of light caught her attention. Looking in its direction, she beheld a shower of stars unlike she had ever seen before – flashes of blue, then red, and then yellow in quick succession. Gasping, she watched the display with eyes wide and mouth agape. “Lovely, isn’t it?” A tiny voice said beside her. Wonder abandoned, Bri leapt back and turned to the source of the sound. Endless fields of white met her gaze. “Isn’t it?” The same voice asked from behind her. Again, Bri spun around to find nothing. “What the f-” She started to say when the voice returned. “Mother says you shouldn’t speak like that.” Whirling toward the sound, she flung her hand out and smacked something out of the air. “Oof,” cried the voice as it left a tiny crater in the snow. A streak of blue shot out of the ground and hovered before Bri’s face. “Funny,” the shapeless mass of blue light said, “I’d always heard it was good luck to see a human.”
  25. Mary Sepanik: Arranging papers until they were aligned with the very edges of her desk seemed a trivial thing at the moment. The enemy was at the front gate. It had been years since Mark Sepanik had known the heat of battle, but those memories came back all too quickly. The alarm had been raised hours earlier, and she couldn’t help but think if help was on its way, it would have been there already. Strapping her gladius to her belt and removing her shield from its place above the mantle, Mary left her office. The children of Heart Stone Academy were gifted. That much was true, but it wasn’t their time to fight quite yet. The volunteers who trained and taught at Heart Stone were now either fleeing with the children or preparing to hold the courtyard – hoping to give everyone else time to escape. Only as she turned the corner into the courtyard did she realize how woefully unprepared for an invasion the school had been – only nine now stood to fight. But none of that mattered now though. All that mattered was that Mary had set her back to the school, and no one would step foot further than she allowed.
  26. Michael Hammond: Michael Hammond set his elbows on the kitchen table, leaned forward, and pressed his palms together as if to pray. “Let me get this straight,” Michael said, holding down his intense desire to laugh, “you brought three squads and you still couldn’t catch the vigilante?” Earl shook his head. Michael laughed. How could he not? He loved hearing about the struggles of the NYPD – doubly so now that his brother in law was the chief of police. “I’m sorry.” Michael lied, wiping a tear from his eye. “It’s just so stupid.” Earl flushed and stood up, leaving his beer on the table. It must really bother him, Michael thought as he leaned back in his chair and finished his drink. Crushing the can, he threw it toward the garbage can. It bounced twice and then fell to the ground. Scowling at the discarded can, Michael wondered how well Earl would take it when he discovered that the vigilante was his wife.
  27. Jordan Casemier: Ankle deep in a clear blue river stood Jordan Casemier. In the distance a mountain rose from behind a canopy of trees which cast shade over the side of the river. Hiking up her dress, Jordan reached down into the water and ran her fingers over the smooth, mossy stones in search of something she had lost many years earlier. The dreams had told her it would be here. In the same place, she had thrown it as a child. The idea seemed absurd. Of course, the currents had carried it away years before. She just couldn’t live with herself if she hadn’t looked for it. The dreams had just been too real. Standing upright, she let her dress fall back down to just above the water’s surface. Turning to leave, her foot slipped on the edge of a slick boulder and upset her balance. Holding out her arms to catch herself, Jordan stumbled and fell, sending sprays of foamy water in every direction. Sitting upright in the river, she pulled her aching foot out of the water. Around her ankle, dangling like a memory almost remembered, hung her mother’s necklace. The chain was thin, no thicker than a piece of twine, and bore a delicate silver heart pendant with gilded filigree. This was how it happened, she thought. Every night she had lived this moment in her dreams. This was how it happened.
  28. Blake McDaniel: Blake McDaniel held a five iron in one hand and a can of raid in the other. Whatever was holding his golf ball looked like it could handle both with a grin and a smile. The creature wasn’t tall at a foot and a half, but it stood on its rear legs and had sharp serrated teeth stuffed into its large rat-like head. Gesturing to Blake with the ball, the creature’s thin, spiny tail wrapped around its feet. “Mine now. Not yours.” It said, in very broken English. “Ball hit head. Ball mine now.” Blake furrowed his brow. Should he demand the ball back? He always played through. Always. If it had just been a rat, he would’ve gone upside the things head, but this? What even was that thing? “Kobold.” The thing answered his unasked question. “Thing is Kobold. Don’t hit thing. Have ball.” The kobold laid the ball on the ground and then scurried away into the brush. Looking around for witnesses, Blade dropped the can of raid onto the green and walked back to his golf cart. Now that he thought of it, hallucinations had been listed as a side-effect of his pain medication.
  29. Priscilla Coffey: “Excuse me.” Priscilla Coffey said as she bumped into a man on the street. He was of the upper class, she knew, based on his silken attire, knee-high boots, and painted face. With a sneer, he wiped his shirt as if scraping away a week’s worth of grime. Scratching her head, cut short on the sides and left chin-length on top, she held out her gloved hands for alms. The man shook his head in derision, carefully avoiding her plea as he strode away. The moment his back was turned, Priscilla sprinted in the other direction, leaping over hedges and sliding under a porch. Her heart was racing when she finally stopped. Not from the run; she was used to running. Slow thieves didn’t last long on the streets. It was the weight of the purse she had cut from the pompous aristocrat that set her heart to beating. Pulling back the drawstrings on the leather bag, her mind boggled. There had to be at least thirty gold pieces inside. More than enough to buy her a ticket to New Haven with food along the way. After closing the coin purse, she tied it around her neck and looked back out on to the street. When no alarm sounded, she crawled out and cut down an alleyway. Preparations were in order.
  30. Deneje Smith: The blacksmith’s hammer struck the molten metal again and again. Beat, shift, clang. Beat, shift, clang. It was a sound she had grown used to, living beside the shop. Adjusting her apron, Deneje Smith, or Neje as she was known around town, was hard at work preparing dinner for the village guests. The mayor had told her nothing about them other than that they were from quite far away. Secluding herself in the kitchen pantry away from the bustling waitstaff of the Waylock Inn, Neje locked the door behind her and drew a ward against eavesdroppers. On the opposite wall, she drew marks of communication and then infused the lines with power. A face, made of chalk lines and woodgrain, appeared in the center of her runecircle. “Master,” Neje whispered, “There are visitors coming to the Inn. I think they may be the ones you’re looking for.” The woodgrain face smiled. It was the same fatherly expression she knew so well. “I will be there shortly.” Her Master said. “Well done.” A chill ran down her spine as the face, along with the circle, disappeared like a mist dissolving in the air. The Order of Mages had been all but decimated after the War of Undoing. Was it finally time to rebuild their ranks? She could only hope.
  31. Sandy Kirchinger: In the back of the bar, in a room few people knew about, Sandy Kirchinger was shuffling cards. Running her fingers over the sides of the stack, she let her thumb feel the grooves between each card. This wasn’t a room she frequented, but desperation bred necessity. Dealing the cards to the three other occupants of the table, a man in his late eighties, a woman in an elegant blue dress, and a young man of twenty or so years, she readied to make her move. In a plain yellow dress and cat-eye glasses, Sandy was unassuming. A little too memorable perhaps, but certainly not a suspect in a criminal investigation. Laying down the last card, she raised her glasses of champagne. “To the evening.” She said, taking a deep sip and giggling. She didn’t like to giggle but the affectation suited her appearance. The others drank. Fifteen seconds later, they were laid out on the table. Leaping to her feet she collected whatever money she could from their pockets, stowing it away in the lining of her oversized purse. When she reached her seat, she dropped the last tablet in her own glass before gulping it down. No point robbing everyone else if she couldn’t also play the victim.
  32. Brittany Schultz: Setting down the four pitchers of ale she carried, Brittany Schultz shuffled through her apron for the table’s receipt. She recognized the one man. The jagged scar across the right side of his face marked him as William Betton. Wanted in three states, including this one, dead or alive. That would make his friends James Bonny, Ichabod Tell, and Running Bull Malone – four of the deadliest men alive. Like William, they were also wanted; their list of crimes including everything from petty larceny to multiple counts of murder. It has to be said there was a pretty penny to be made on their hides. To say nothing of a reputation, which was something Brittany still needed. Bounty Hunters were paid more for their reputations than their actual work. Placing the receipt on the table, she gave William a smile. The man had eyes like a rattlesnake. Ignoring her, the men pushed their mugs forward in anticipation of being filled. Brittany shrugged off their irritated looks and obliged them. Four men poisoned to death would be bad news for the saloon. Not that it really bothered her any. She didn’t work there.
  33. Brie Roper: The crowd roared as champion Brie Roper scored the last point. The match had gone much as she had expected. Her opponent, Austrian Prince Heinrich Gerschlag, was significantly taller than her and had a corresponding reach advantage. His first point had been scored quick and furious. She had had barely enough time to think let alone parry. Luckily for her, the match was to three. The second and third touches went slower. Heinrich used his reach to maintain distance, but Brie’s parry-riposte was second to none. Something Heinrich learned the hard way when she tagged him square in the chest to score her second touch. At two points to one, she had been a little mean. Rather than just outright beating him, she toyed with him a little, letting him gain advantage until disarming and smacking his bottom. Casting aside his helmet, Heinrich looked irate – his face a red mess of contorted lines and bulging veins. He couldn’t even be bothered to congratulate her; the ass. The very picture of serenity, she offered him her hand. Slapping it away, he said, “You’ve made an enemy this day, Roper.” Brie smiled. “Be mindful of your words, Heinrich,” She replied, “I would hate to see you end up sitting in the hot seat.” The Prince scowled before stomping away like a toddler put in timeout. “Sitting in the hot seat!” Brie called after him. “Because I spanked you!” He didn’t get it. Not a sharp one, that prince of Austria.
  34. Scott Lange: “Scott Lange,” The man repeated into the microphone, “Phone call for Scott Lange. Please see customer service for your phone call. Thank you.” Scott had heard the man. Who in the airport hadn’t really? But he didn’t want to answer. He knew who was on the other line, he knew what that person would say, and he wasn’t ready for that again. He didn’t know if he ever would be. A firm hand on his chest stopped him in his tracks. A like something out of a spy novel, a woman stood in front of him – medium height, black trench coat, black hair, sunglasses and a black fedora. She couldn’t be any more of a stereotype if she tried. Judging by her finely manicured fingernails and the way she planted her feet…No. He was done thinking like an operative. “You missed your call.” The woman said, her hand still pressed against his chest. “Katherine,” Scott whispered, that voice taking the fight out of him, “Not you too.” She used her left hand to remove her sunglasses as she looked up at him. “We need you Scott.”
  35. Philip Monson: Those who didn’t know his name called him, “Silencer, the Ender of Screams.” Everyone else just called him Philip. James Philip Monson sat alone in the corner of Doom’s End Tavern sipping idly from a flagon of mead. He typically refused any alcohol, but this was a special occasion. He was retiring. No one knew this of course, few people even knew he was Silencer, but it was a decision he had reached after careful consideration. Rogues rarely lasted long enough to enjoy the spoils of their lives, and he had a mind to buy an Inn in Loreshire. Grinning into his drink, he imagined hanging up his daggers over the hearth, without reason or explanation, and letting wandering warriors and bards write their own reasons. The vision warmed his heart…or maybe that was the mead. Finishing what was left of the honeyed drink, Philip dropped three gold coins on the table before wandering upstairs. As he approached his room, a strange green glow crept like spiders out from beneath his door. There was something familiar about it. Wrong, but familiar. Kicking open the door, he threw a dagger to the source of the light. A robbed man swept his arm in the air, catching the dagger mid-flight and dropping it to the ground. Beside the man, a large purple phantom with bright yellow eyes lurked like a shadow on the wall. Before the man removed his hood, Philip recognized him; a pale ghost of the man he had known in his youth. A man with a reputation of his own – the warlock, Exandor. “Hello, old friend,” Exandor wheezed, gesturing with his withered hand to his shadowy companion. The door closed behind Philip as Exandor continued, “I need your help.”
  36. Chris Bowser: “Kinda curious about this,” Chris Bowser laughed, twirling the corners of his moustache between his fingers. The thing in front of him was dead. At least, he thought it was dead. Chris had shot it after all. Twice, just to be certain. It was long and lean like a deer but purple with two bright red horns curling back over its head. Nudging it with the toe of his boot, Chris’ brother Marvin nodded. “I think it’s dead.” Chris dropped his rifle to one hand before adjusting the strap and slinging it over his shoulder. Crouching beside the dead animal, he asked, “What do you think it is?” Marvin shrugged. “Painted deer?” Chris shook his head. He didn’t know why he bothered asking his brother anything. The man was an idiot. Standing upright, he surveyed the area; nothing but trees and fallen leaves for as far as he could see. Looking back down at the alien deer, Chris wondered if it was even edible.
  37. Emily Hall: It had been twenty-seven days since Emily Hall had started at the Red School. Almost four weeks, and they still had no idea she was a spy. Technically speaking, she supposed they did; just not the kind they were infamous for producing. Walking the bleak white-washed hallways of the school, Emily memorized everything she saw. Three doors on the right, two on the left, no posters, boards, or pictures on either wall. The former hospital was designed to puzzle and disorient. The absence of familiar markings not only nurtured confusion, but it also forced its students into a heightened state of awareness lest they get lost. Taking one final right, she stalked toward her next class, Tactical combat. It had been something of a specialty of hers during her CIA days and feigning ignorance had proven to be a challenge. She would need to work harder. With only two weeks until extraction, she still had next to no valuable intel.
  38. Jacqueline Frid: “Just try me,” Jacqueline Frid said, lowering her halberd and planting her feet. Jacqueline wasn’t a tall woman by Anaminian standards, but then again neither was the rock goblin standing across from her. The tiny monster stood only as high as her waist but held a wicked looking dagger in each hand. Her halberd would be little use if that thing managed to get within distance, but as long as she kept it away…It lunged. Back-peddling, she jabbed a wild thrust at the goblin’s chest. It parried and scrambled to her right, trying to flank her. Spinning the halberd in a wild arc over her head, she chased the goblin with the axe head. The blade found its mark in the back of the goblin’s neck, sending it careening to the ground. With one final twist, the goblin shuttered and then lay still. She hadn’t been looking for a fight in the abandoned mines, but one had found her; and judging by the flickering lights, it wouldn’t be the last.
  39. Jeán-Marie Cheney: Cracks of thunder broke the demure silence of the castle between intermittent flashes of lightning. Standing in the stone archway between her chambers and the terrace, Jeán-Marie Cheney held a half-filled crystal chalice watching the shadows of the world dance and flutter before the roiling might of the storm. Nursing the last of her drink, she wondered at the peculiar twist of fate that led her guests to seek shelter in her home. Tucked away deeply in the Black Forest, it was no easy journey to find her, and it seemed unlikely they would run out of gas on their way to…where? What was on the other side of the forest? She didn’t know anymore. She hadn’t left her home in centuries. With her stockpiles full, there hadn’t been a need. There still wasn’t a need. However, there was the hunger. Stronger and more compelling than she had felt in years. This vile substitute she had concocted was a pale substitute for the real thing and with such fresh subjects…If only she could…No. No, she wouldn’t. Setting aside the chalice, Jeán-Marie drifted from her chambers toward the hall, her crimson dress flowing around her like the storm clouds approaching the castle. The hunger was still there, lurking like a wolf in the underbrush, but she was stronger than it. At least, she hoped she was.
  40. Breezy Squires: Breezy Squires was very good at her job. At twenty years old, she was the youngest member of the king’s livery but was already garnering a reputation as the king’s favorite groom. Brushing the coat of the king’s warhorse, Stormfeather, Breezy hummed to herself quietly. Stormfeather had seemed uneasy when she’d started and the tune calmed him. It was a song she remembered from her childhood spent in the rolling hills of Loreshire. The king would be leading a charge soon, Breezy suspected. Stormfeather seemed to have a sense about these things. Before she had even finished, an alarm sounded in the square. Not the call to battle. That would have been the church bells. This was different. “The Barbarians are through the gate!” A voice rang out. The Stable Master rounded the corner and sprinted in to the nearest stall. “Get out of her, girl!” He shouted, mounting up without a saddle. “What’s happening?” Breezy shouted back. The tumult was growing closer. “They’ve killed the king. The walls are breached.” he said guiding the horse toward the exit. Breezy looked at Stormfeather. His languid eyes reflected her panicked face back at her. After pushing open the stall door, she pulled herself upon his back. “Run.” She whispered, grabbing ahold of his mane. Stormfeather trotted out of the stables and into the street. The city was in chaos. Billows of smoke and flames dominated the horizon to the south. Stormfeather turned north and galloped through the city streets. The Stable Master had never told her what to do in this situation. It wasn’t supposed to happen.
  41. Sophia Medawar: Driving the point of her small sword a fraction of an inch into the man’s chest, Sophia Medawar smiled. A little more pressure would send the point into his heart. “Why are you doing this?” He cried; sweat dropping down his forehead and slicking his blonde beard. Sophia paused. She had just assumed the Duke of Elwor would recognize her when she found him. Her eyes were her father’s, her hair was her mother’s, and photographs showed the resemblance to her sister. “Medawar,” Sophia said, maintaining the pressure on her sword, “You remember that name?” The Duke blinked and furrowed his brows. His eyes glazed over as he seemed to look more through Sophia than at her. His mouth fell open. “Sophia.” He whispered. “You’re supposed to be dead.” Turning her wrist, she brought a scream to his lips. “No.” She said, pronating her hand and driving the point in through his back. His face paled and in moments went slack. For years, she had chased him. Revenge had been all she wanted, but now…she felt hollow. Pulling her blade free, she hastily wiped it clean on a cloth; the red spreading and staining the white cotton. Dropping the handkerchief on his lifeless body, she sheathed her sword. A quarter of her life she had spent on revenge. Without that, she didn’t know what to do next.
  42. Kayla Simmons: The fire cracked and popped, sending sparks like fireflies spreading toward the starry sky. Across from Ronin Ludred, Kayla Simmons sat on a log studying his face. She wanted to remember every line and scar that marked him so she could accurately sketch him later. “I know we aren’t that close,” Kayla said, tucking a stray strand of red hair behind her ear, “But I’d like to ask you something.” Ronin shrugged as he stoked the fire. Not much of a talker, Ronin was. “People say you’ve slain over a thousand men. Is it true?” Ronin shrugged again. Kayla could see that getting annoying. “Ronin,” She said, clutching her notebook to her chest, “if I’m going to compose for you there are some things I’ll need to know. I can’t just watch you and write.” Ronin looked up at her, the intensity of the fire reflecting in his eyes fitting the stories already told about him. “Fifty-six,” He whispered, his voice so hoarse she could hardly hear it, “I’ve killed fifty-six men.” Fifity-six wasn’t a thousand, but it was quite a tally. Opening her book, Kayla started to write.
  43. Ashley Ward: After licking her fingertips, Ashley Ward continued to count the money; each crisp dollar bill scraping against the one beneath it like dead leaves blowing across an empty street. It wasn’t a duty, she particularly enjoyed. This wasn’t her money. It belonged to the Baroness – a woman both feared and reviled from Egonetta to Loreshire. Working for the Baroness had proven to be less fearsome than Ashley had first imagined. Although she had started as a simple maid, she had worked her way through the staff until she was one of the few people the woman trusted; trusted enough, at least. Ashley wasn’t certain the Baroness trusted anyone. How could she? There had been at least two assassination attempts on her life in the last month alone. That was the price of power, she supposed. Dropping the last dollar bill on the desk, Ashley put her hands on her hips. The money was supposed to be locked away as soon as it was counted. No point risking idle hands slipping in. Ducking beneath the desk, Ashley retrieved the metal box. After locking up, it would go in the vault the Baroness kept behind her painted likeness over her bed. Setting the box on the chair beside the desk, Ashley froze. The money was gone. Frantically, she looked around the room, her heart pounding. It had just been here a moment ago. Was it under the desk? No. Was there a breeze from an open window? No. There were no windows in the Baroness’ office. Starring at the vacant place on the desk, Ashley swallowed hard. Everyone would assume she had stolen it. Even if she remained to explain what happened, no one would believe her. Unconsciously, her hand went to her throat. The Baroness did not suffer traitors. She would need to run.
  44. Andrea Kennedy: Standing on the edge of the precipice, staring down into the murky blackness of the caves, Andrea Kennedy said, “This is a really cool idea.” After adjusting her helmet strap so it fastened tightly to her chin, Andrea tugged on the rope attached to her harness. Everything felt secure. This wasn’t the first time she had gone cave diving by herself. She preferred it actually. That way, she wouldn’t have to share anything she found. To be fair, she hadn’t found a great deal of treasure in the four years she had been diving, and the small amount she found was deposited right back into diving in the form of new equipment. Lowering herself slowly into the darkness, Andrea kept her eyes fixed on the wall in front of her, using her legs to maintain balance as she let the rope slide through her hands. After a few minutes, she stopped. A sound from above caught her attention. Her rope jumped and then she was falling. The wind howled around her head. She flailed, trying to grab anything. The ground met her hard, knocking the wind out of her. To her surprise, the ground felt soft, almost like moss but with more spring to it. Sore but unbroken, she titled her head back to cast her headlamp to the ceiling. The light from the cave’s entrance was a faint circle hundreds of yards away. Forcing down an urge to panic, she examined her surroundings. It was unlike anything she had ever seen.
  45. Katherine McInerney: The audience in the coliseum was under normal circumstances rowdy. Now, they were a sea of roaring sailors, weeping women, and screaming children. The Queen had thrown her hat into the ring. It was a wide hat, gilded in the shape of a crown, and bearing the sigil of the McInerney house. Standing before her throne on the raised pedestal, Queen Katherine raised her arms to silence the tumultuous throng. In seconds, she held the attention of every eye and ear in the place. “Zhar’Vhug,” She said, speaking with authority of her office, “You have bested our greatest champions. You have fought lions and bears to prove the strength of your people.” Zhar’Vhug grinned; showing his filed triangular teeth. “My people will crush you.” He said, wiping spittle on the back of his wrist. Stepping over the railing, the queen dropped twenty-feet onto the battlefield as easily as if she would have stepped down from a carriage. “Then you should have no trouble with me.” She said, offering him a broad smile. Zhar’Vhug gaped, reaching for the mighty axe strapped to his back. “Don’t be a fool,” He bellowed when his senses returned, “Surrender your people.” Katherine’s smile remained as she strode toward the brute, alone and unarmed. Few of those in the audience knew what was going to happen. Most were too afraid to watch. Zhar’Vhug sprang forward, whether to attack or intimidate, it mattered not. Katherine crossed her wrists so that each palm faced a different direction and then rotated them. Zhar’Vhug froze in place, suspended off the ground. His eyes twitched back and forth in his skull, searching for answers. Holding her hands in place, Katherine traversed the space between them and stood beneath his outstretched axe. Her smile faded. “You come here and make demands. You threaten and insult my name, my home.” At the turning of her wrists again, every muscle in Zhar’Vhug’s body tightened. With a single sharp motion, Katherine turned and drove her hands toward the ground. The enormous man vanished. The crowd watched their Queen in silence as she casually glanced through the open roof. Someone screamed. Zhar’Vhug fell from the sky and hit the ground, bouncing once and then laying still. “Let them come.” She said, her smile returning as she left the coliseum in a state of exultation.
  46. Dan Robbins: Looking down at the twisted blade in his hand, Sir Daniel Robbins could hardly believe it had once been his best sword. Casting it aside, he drew the dagger he kept sheathed in his boot. Leaving his armor at home had been a mistake. Sir Daniel had made the assumption a wyvern, being half the size of a dragon, would be easy enough to kill for one of his ability. He was wrong. With acidic blood, the wyvern, even with a hole in its chest, was every bit as deadly as anything he had ever faced. Perhaps, more so. Rearing back on its hind legs, the wyvern beat its wings downward, creating a gale that drove Daniel to his knee. Forcing himself to his feet, Daniel rushed the beast, slipped under its wing between beats and dove for its back. That was something he couldn’t have down in plate. Grabbing ahold of the spines protruding from its back, he hauled himself up. Ascending the wyvern’s back, Daniel found, was much like climbing a ladder, if the ladder was trying every moment to dislodge and eat him. Eventually, he found the spot he was looking for; a bit of soft flesh between the eyes and ear holes. With a grunt of exertion, he drove the blade in. The creature shrieked like a hundred wailing children suddenly startled by an approaching storm. Leaping from its back, Sir Daniel tucked into a ball just before hitting the ground. The monster fell a few feet behind him, whimpering as it took its final breaths. Watching the beast die, Sir Daniel felt a pang of remorse. His was not the way of death but of protection. There would be one safer village tonight, and he found solace in that.
  47. Brad Ziegler: Beakers boiled and Bunsen burners seethed in the laboratory of Dr. Brad Ziegler sending a fluorescent multi-colored mist wafting to the ceiling. Adjusting his safety goggles and tugging his rubber gloves, he sensed he was close. His colleagues at the academy thought he was insane, and his ex-wife had called him…What was the word? Oh, what did it matter? He thought of himself as driven. For years he had worked now on unlocking the mysteries of the universe. Not just on the secrets of matter and energy, but of the secret world beneath our own permeating existence itself. A sharp ding told him the timer had gone off. Half-skipping, Brad made his way to the vial. The vial which would hold all the answers. Using a set of tongs, he removed it from its flame and set it before him on the table. It bubbled and boiled inside the glass container, churning and broiling as if it would climb out of the vial on its own. With eyes wide, he watched it settled and cool. According to his calculations, it would be safe to drink in a matter of minutes. The time crept by, minutes dragged out into hours, until finally he could stand it no longer. Hoisting the glass above his head, he offered a toast, “To you Julia! In Vino Veritas,” before drinking the elixir in three large gulps. Although it was scalding, he was unburned, although his throat tickled a little. Exhaling deeply, he closed his eyes and prepared for the shift. When he opened them again, he was face to face with a large creature comprised of eyeballs. He leapt back. The room was full of them. “Hello,” He said, offering them an awkward wave, “I’m new here. Can anyone tell me where the bathroom is…I think I’m going to hurl.”
  48. Addison Roberts: Rows of trees like columns of sentinels stood throughout the orchard. Stretching out with his considerable reach, Addison Roberts plucked a perfect bright red apple from its perch and handed it to the child who walked with him. There was an eighteen year age difference between him and his half-brother but that never seemed to bother either of them. Their walks had become something of a weekly ritual. “Have you thought much about what will happen when father dies?” Aylen asked, crunching into the apple’s crisp skin. “Don’t say things like that.” Addison scolded his brother. It was bad luck to talk of the king’s death. Although he trained every day of his life for inevitably, he still didn’t like to think about it. As high-prince and heir apparent, Addison’s entire life had been spent in preparation to assume the Crystal Throne. “There’s time enough for that.” Addison said, softening his tone when he noticed his brother’s embarrassment. “You won’t send me away, will you?” The boy asked, still gnawing on the fruit. “I’ve read in books that new kings don’t like their brothers.” Addison chuckled. “Of course I won’t send you away. You’re my brother.” This seemed to placate Aylen as they continued their walk. In the distance, a rider approached, wearing the insignia of the King’s personal guard. They weren’t supposed to be away from the king. A chill ran down Addison’s spine as the rider drew closer. “Stay behind me.” He whispered, guiding Aylen with his hand. “Your majesty,” The rider said as he brought his horse to a halt, “you need to come with me.” Addison nodded. “What’s wrong, soldier?” The man looked nervous, glancing at Aylen. “Its…your father, highness.”
  49. Brandy Steel: Brandy Steel felt the rope in her hand; its braided strands tightly woven for strength and ease of use – the work of an expert craftsman. Twenty feet or so in length, she suspected it didn’t need to be that long for what was needed. She was the executioner’s daughter, and it was her responsibility to turn this rope into an implement of death. Tying nooses had never bothered her before. It had been expected she would continue her father’s work once he passed away. This was the way of things in the kingdom and tying the knot had been her very first lesson. This rope, however, unsettled her as she manipulated it into shape. Never did she imagine having to tie the knot for her father’s murderer. Tears streamed from her red, sleep deprived eyes, making her work that much harder. Her mother had asked if she could manage to do it alone. She could. She didn’t have a choice in the matter. This was her job now. Cinching the knot, she let it drop to the ground. She’d need to have it ready for tomorrow’s execution when she’d kick the stool out from under that man. Thoughts of revenge did her no good. She just wanted her father back.
  50. John Scritchfield by Bud Thompson.


    A softened voice, filled with tenderness tinged with… with what? Apprehension? Frustration? Concern? Anger? The voice itself is not sure. But it reaches out anyway, into the room whose only other audible occupant is the clicking of keys coming from the desk area.

    The voice’s eyes search the back of a head, looking for any sign that it has been heard. It sees none. Now the eyes share the ambivalent mix of feelings that plague the voice. Trying to ignore a siren song of rising panic in the distance, the voice reaches out again.


    Was it louder? More insistent? More forceful? More agitated? It didn’t mean to be any of those things. It loves him. It doesn’t want to annoy him… but… (Hear the slightly louder siren song.)

    “Yes, honey?”

    A sigh of relief.

    “Are you almost done?” The voice didn’t mean to let that tone of desperation in.

    “Almost. I promised them that I’d write a novel intro for ANYONE who commented on my post. Who knew I had this many friends on Facebook? Besides, it’s a good… writing…exercise…” The last words are sailors leaping from a ship that is going down into an abyss it sought to find.

    “Well, I’m happy that you have so many friends, and I hope the exercise has been (each feeling in the ambivalent mix shouts out a word) helpful. But honey, it’s been days.”

    “I only have a few dozen to go.”

    He cannot hear the murmur of despair over the clicking keys.