Hmm….What happens next?

“The Arks are almost at capacity sir,” looking into the cracked screen of a broken computer monitor.

Nodding his head once, before commenting “Then began the sealing process and cryogenic gas release after that. Once life signs are almost gone, release the nanite gas into the arks. The window of saving humanity is closing.”

Obeying his command, I began remotely sealing the Arks. Listening to the analog style countdown clock tick away. With the Arks wholly sealed, I initialized the release of the cryogenic gas. Knowing the process with the nanite infiltration of the human body had to be performed when they were unconscious. Minutes had passed before life signs on the arc began to rapidly diminish. Starting up the release process of the nanite gas, before looking at my boss.

“Any last words sir,” I asked, watching the progress of things.

The commander ran his thumb and forefinger over his eyes. Taking a deep breath before grabbing the broadcast microphone. Pushing down on the small red button, before commenting “With minutes remaining before the countdown ends, there are so many things that should be said. To ensure humanity endures the collision, some will have to be sacrificed. What happens after the collision will no doubt be fraught with challenges. All I can say is good luck, and may God have mercy on you,” as the countdown clock hit zero.

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Another picture is worth, almost another thousand words

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Sentinel by Edward Howard

My papa used to tell me, we live a world of leftovers. I wasn’t sure what that meant growing up, in a simple world. A world where knowledge about the past was dangerous. I was never told why by my elders. Maybe that was for the best, I told myself. That was until a few days ago when I overheard something, my parents, where discussing.  Noticing how in the past few months my mother was acting differently. My father wanted to do something to help her.  From the few things I overheard mentioned were ruined city, hospital, old-world technology, and medicine. The way they whispered about it, made me wonder if it was dangerous. I had heard about the abandoned ruins that were supposed to exist all over the world. With fear and anger running through my mind I ran. Letting the wind push back against my face with each step. Knowing where I was going to visit the strange metal statue that rested in the nearby field.

Carefully stopping before colliding with the rusting blue large chunk of metal that rested against the ground. A tree branch had fallen on it since I had last visited a couple of months ago. The lone wild white cat stood up and approached me from the top of the metal chunk.  Looking down at me with its deep blue eyes, watching me closely.  I had seen it a few times in past visits, but this was the closest I had ever been the cat. Slowly reaching out my left hand, waiting for the cat to react. Stretching out some it sniffed my hand with caution. It must have determined I meant it no harm, as it sat down on the edge of the metal.  Being careful, I climbed onto the metal chunk, Mindful of the tree branches and sticky leaves as I continued to climb. Hearing the metal creak some adjusting to my body weight. It was a noise I had gotten accustomed to, the more I came here.

Taking a seat on the edge of the metal chunk that faced the field, I sat. Letting my feet hang off the side slightly, I gazed out at the statue.  Enjoying the quiet, I began to think about my hidden mother’s sickness. Wondering why she hid it from papa and me? Had he known about it and hide it from me at my mother’s request? Would he go into the ruined city to help her? What could he find there that would be worth risking his life? Would he come back from the ruins at all? What would happen to me if he failed and mother died? Would the village kick me out, or would it take me in?

The wild cat headbutting my arm distracted me from my thoughts. Taking a seat beside me it watched me, continuing to randomly headbutt my arm. Wondering what it wanted, I cautiously scratched its ears. Surprised by how soft its fur felt against my fingers. I had heard it whispered by some of the older villagers, that there once was a family that lived here. Maybe this cat had been one of the family’s pets. I had to wonder why they left it here. Was it forgotten by them or was it done purposely? Would it follow me home? If it did would my mother and papa let me keep it? What would I name it, if they did?

Gently petting it, I resumed staring out at the statue. From what I was told by the village elders, the statue was left behind by the old world. Built by a man known as Army Enginer. They didn’t know why it was built or were unwilling to tell me why they thought someone build something so massive. I knew it was the largest thing I had ever seen in my life. The few traders who came into town in horse-drawn buggies commonly mentioned there were other statues like the one nearby. Even they didn’t seem to know much about the statues. Why would someone build so many statues like one near the village? What could the statues tell us the past? Did they have forgotten knowledge hidden within them? Could that knowledge have a way to help my mother get better?

That last thought stuck around in my head. On impulse, I leaped off the metal chunk. Running towards the field, and the statue. Letting the joy of freedom and hope take over. Pushing my way through the plants being careful not to break any of them. Knowing how much the village depended on the field to eat. Ignoring the hits at my back and arms as the plants snapped back to their normal positions. Pushing ahead with a glimmer of hope in my mind. Stopping a few footsteps away from the statues metal foot. Noticing the statue had hints of a dark yellow color in its metal. I wasn’t sure how that was done, and I didn’t care. All I hoped for was answers that would help my mother fight what was causing her to act differently.

 

 

The start of another idea…maybe

With two strangely curved blades at my throat, I reluctantly kneeled looking up at my pale-faced enemy. His coal black eyes were staring down at me, as a curved grin spread across his face. Showing the rows of pointed predatory blood-stained red teeth. “Given how well you fought against me, you are no ordinary soldier. Yet, I doubt there is any noble blood in you,” noticing something around my neck. “Provided your men forfeit, there will a more private discussion about that strange gold pendant that rests around your neck after this battle is done. For now, get off your knees and follow me to the turret. I wouldn’t recommend trying to grab weapons from your fallen soldiers as you move. I may appear to be alone, but I can promise you I’m not.”

Not seeing much choice, I waited for the blades at my throat to moved from my neck before standing. Without saying a word, I followed my pale-faced enemy. Stepping over the bodies of fallen friends and foes alike. Hearing the battle was still being fought as boulders impacted against a nearby stone wall. This strange enemy seemed unnerved by the fight going on around him. Even his armor appeared to be different than the soldiers I had killed.

He led me towards a high turret, that had a shattered wooden roof on it. The sun was beginning to set on the back, casting an orange glow over the castle ground. Grabbing the bannerman’s brass horn from his corpse. Forcing a loud blast to emit from it as he blew into it. The blow was loud enough to create a temporary pause in the battle.

With a thunderous voice, he commanded “This battle is over. I have captured your brazen commander. Throw down your arms and leave my castle grounds. Tell your king, that I will not be merciful if you attack my castle again without reason,” blowing bannerman’s horn again. Grinning back at me, remaining silent as he led back into the castle.

Once both of us were in the throne room, several towering guards popped out of the shadows. Each guard dressed in black full plate armor. Their faces were hidden under a matching black helm with a flat look. Heavy looking black-handled curved blades rested at their waist. Vicious crescent-shaped long axes with ebony iron handles were carried in by all of them. The edge of each ax stained red with fresh blood. Even if I had any weapons, I was smart enough to know these men were killers. Taking a reluctant spot several large footsteps from the throne, I kneeled. Waiting for the leader of these monstrous men to take his seat on the throne. Wondering what my fate would be if I answered his questions.

A new month, a new writing schedule

I’m starting to realize trying to balance work, and a daily writing routine is becoming increasingly unbalanced. Knowing I’m going back to my regular work schedule after the holiday weekend ends. Meaning I need to augment my writing routine to meet my own goals for each day. Yet, given I’m working on multiple stories, including a few rough ideas for later. Stretching the creative machine in excess, I’m starting to feel the creative well run dry randomly.

Knowing I need to find a balance between work and my creative pursuits. Making a quick decision to alter my schedule. Thinking it over, I realized I needed to break the week down. Focusing on a different idea, each day. Trying to distribute the workload without getting writer’s block or even worse causing myself to burnout. I hope it works to keep the creative juices flowing while allowing me to digitize pieces I’ve written by hand.  Along with trying to get a blog post made once a week. a14694304bf58f9e2e88f39cb34c7f9c

 

WEP August 2018 Change of Heart challenge entry

As August continues to unfold, the WEP challenge begins. While they released the themes for each month’s challenge early on in January of this year, I sensed this one would be the most difficult for me. I considered skipping it initially and entering again in the October WEP challenge.

After thinking about the challenge’s theme for the past three weeks or so, I began to have a few ideas. The first idea I scrapped after writing the first few paragraphs. Going back to a blank slate (so to speak), I thought about what I could do with the theme. Realizing I could do a redemption story, with a cyberpunk atmosphere. Keeping the vibrant natural atmosphere of a world heavily dominated by technology. Adding a heavy touch of virtual reality, and oppressive governments to the idea. Along with a slight bit of hacker noir. Managing to stick to my self-assigned “punk” challenge. Please enjoy my entry titled, “One Last Job.”


One Last Job

Various computer monitors illuminated my dark office. The dim neon white light from my keyboard was bathing my twitching fingers that hovered above it. A barely legal altered cognitive bolstering rig was resting precariously on my neck. Interwoven black cable ran from the back of the apparatus into a custom built quantum computer; I designed to keep my digital presence minimal. This task is supposed to my last job before getting out of the increasingly radical hacker group Entropy. Only agreeing to do this job after signing a contract that guaranteed I could leave without retribution from the group and other rival hacker groups. While I still had to worry about consequences from the legal system, this had a slim chance of protecting my new from them. With the impending birth of my first son, I realized I needed a fresh start, not just for me full life Taking a deep breath; I started running my virtual machine. Letting that run for a few minutes before rapidly typing the code that would bounce my entry signal randomly around the world. Scrutinizing the system’s programming code for mistakes before initializing the program. Feeling the pinch of the small needles pierce through the skin on my neck, allowing my mind to enter the digital world.

Mere seconds passed before the digital world appeared in front of my virtual eyes. Neon signs floated through the sky, advertising everything and anything could. Virtual portals connecting to businesses around the planet rested on an everchanging rainbow neon road rested on both sides of me. Lines of avatars were waiting to enter some the portals; others remained empty. Transporting myself through the multitude of unmoving avatars, trying not to attract any attention as I moved through it.

Managing to find a seldom used route obscured by barely functioning portals. Dropping into the entrance on the right, entering the Ultra-net. Seeing the sophisticated and powerful repeating encryption that created a continually changing protective firewall. The authoritarian government believed the firewall was unhackable. For the most part, their assumption was correct. The script had an exploitable weak spot that I could use to enter the mainframe. Now inside the mainframe, I searched for the virtual prison where the minds of people labeled dangerous where hidden. The government using their physical body, as a protection from any retaliation. It was one of their worst kept secrets; they used to create fear among hackers. Being careful to avoid the drones produced by the government’s artificial intelligence with the sole purpose of keeping the Ultra-net safe.

After a few hours of searching, I stumbled into the prison. Making a quick decision to hide in the prison maintenance node to protect me from the roving army of small flying drones patrolled the area. Watching their patrol routes with great care, trying to stay hidden from electronic eyes. Knowing any window, I had to break in without detection would be minimal. Thinking over my methods of hacker attacks I could use to decrease my chance of exposure, as the drones continued to encircle the facility.

With a quick decision to release a split attack on the node. Tapping at the virtual wristlet knowing I had only a few options I could use with such a narrow window of time. Choosing to unleash a complex program I created named Alpha_Breaker against the drones and node. Directing the initial attack wave at the opposite side of the prison, to get the drones attention. Watching the drones rush away before unleashing a robust second attack on the node. The secondary attack worked quickly devouring the protective barrier around the node before creating a small hole in the node. Using the distraction to enter, the weak spot in the node swiftly.

Seeing thousands neon blue ghosts floating around in vibrant digital purgatory, each one lost without its host. Conformist propaganda jpegs covered the virtual walls, silently mocking the prisoners. I would be there only chance of escaping here. Now to figure out how to do that, without killing those I was trying to free. Everything I had read before uploading my conscious to the internet, suggested I had to find a kill switch for the prison. In theory, it should allow their minds to download into their physical bodies. I had some ideas what the kill switch could be, but I would have to complete confident I made the correct choice. There was more at stake than just my new life.

Doubting it would be easy to find, I peeled back several layers of code. Managing to see that they had somehow had built a physical server with inside a digital environment. A flat screen and keyboard rested on top of it. Ignoring that something like this shouldn’t be possible, I cautiously approached the machine. Finding the server was exceedingly vulnerable to any hacker shrewd enough to discover it. Tapping on the keyboard brought up layers of exceptionally complex code on the screen. Processing the system the with haste, I realized this was borderline impossible. A single wrong keystroke could alert them to my presence here. With slim hope, I synced my virtual body with the server. Using it as an anchor to create a delayed release of a program named Reckoning. Preparing everything I could think of before erasing my virtual form the Ultra-net.

Feeling a pinch at my neck as my mind returned to my body. Reaching the keyboard, I quickly activated the program. Hoping that my actions wouldn’t come back to haunt my chance for a new life. Hoping that my former colleagues would honor the contract, and wouldn’t have a change of heart about letting me out of the game.


Word Count: 947 Critique level: Full


You can check out the other entries in this month’s contest here:

1. Denise Covey 12. Laura Clipson 23. J Lenni Dorner
2. Nilanjana Bose 13. L.G. Keltner 24. Elephant’s Child
3. Olga Godim 14. Hilary 25. Helen Mathey-Horn
4. desk49 -DL 15. Roland Clarke – DL 26. Dixie Jarchow
5. Sally 16. DG Hudson 27. Deniz Bevan
6. Pat Garcia 17. Jemima Pett 28. Anna
7. Pat Hatt 18. Diane Burton 29. Operation Awesome
8. Toi Thomas – DL 19. Christopher Scott 30. Haresh
9. Corinne Rodrigues 20. Rebecca M. Douglass 31. xmltutorial
10. Tanya Miranda 21. Michelle Wallace
11. Deborah Drucker 22. Rasma Raisters

Well there’s another idea……

A mighty icy wind whistled through the stone cutouts of this ancient mountain monastery. Bringing whisps of snow in its wake, trying to put out the orange flame from resin torches. Stone pews and statues were empty of any devoted visiting pilgrims.  The elders secluding themselves in the back of the temple, deciding what to do with the dangerous religious order that was sweeping over the land. Despite the monastery’s natural isolation, word reached us of the Crimson Light and what they were doing.  Using their religious beliefs and growing power base to get away with heinous crimes. Taking those whose bodies demonstrated anything that went against their religious doctrine. While my order offered sanctuary to those living close, our reach was limited. The few small villages around the mountain’s base helped when they could. Given the pressure the Crimson Light was putting on the villages, help was becoming increasingly seldom.  There was a growing sect of monks, including myself who followed the beliefs of the warrior god, Anesoni were trying to fight back. Hopefully, the elder’s would make a hasty decision about training more monks in the art of war.

Taking a slight breath, I began to notice something moving in the distance, barely visible through the small crack in the door. Casting a faint orange glow around itself without any noticeable smoke or odor. Opening the door with slight caution, trying to get a better view of what was coming. Seeing a dark shadow in the middle of the mysterious light. At a quick glance, the shadow didn’t appear large enough to belong to a full-size man. Following a growing sense that this person was similar to me, moving sideways through the door. Pulling the wool hood over my head before walking far from the dar. Letting one the organic steel chains around my waist, unfurl down my right sleeve. Noticing the flame suddenly extinguish itself, the shadows fading along with it. Sprinting forward toward where the light vanished.

Contracting the chain around my left are, feeling the blunted spear tip against my hand. Stopping to find the thin body of a young child, poorly clothed in tan rags. Someone had shaved the entire scalp of the body, making it difficult to determine if it was a boy or girl. Still healing cuts were apparent on the left and right side of the child’s face. The child had been tortured by someone who appeared to know what they were doing. Assuming it was the Crimson Light’s inquisitors well known for their skills for infliction pain. Being careful I lifted the frail child over my left shoulder. Heading back to the monastery, hoping this would alter the decision being made by the elders.

WEP June 2018 “Unraveling Yarn” Entry Piece

I debated continuing my raypunk inspired piece for this month, but rapidly realized it was difficult for that to fit within this month’s theme. Taking a departure from the aesthetics and retro-futurism of raypunk for this month WEP contest piece, without managing to fail at the self-assigned challenge. Rethinking what I could create within the context of the theme, going towards Greek Mythology.  Taking some inspiration from that, and realizing how quickly I could fuse those elements with the Clockwork Punk ideals. While Clockwork Punk is similar in aesthetics to Steampunk,  the former takes a heavy focus on gears. In addition to that Clockwork Punk works within a great symbiosis with magic and alchemy. Combining all those elements, I began to shape the tale below. A story I titled, “Fixing Fate.”


Fixing Fate

Someone faintly knocked on the door to my workshop, barely audible over the sound of moving gears. With reluctance, I got up to answer the door, curious to know who could be knocking at this late hour. Opening the door a smudge, seeing scrawny women dressed in a tight-fitting white dress. Her face obscured under a thick white veil, held in place with an ornate antique band of gold. The flames from gear powered torch reflecting against her dress.

With a raspy voice, she asked: “I’m seeking Cornelius Flamel, are you he?”

Glancing past the women to make sure she was alone before answering “That depends on who is asking,” since I had decided to hide my family’s name from all but a select few.

She responded “A woman whose existence is older then you can imagine. The Greeks called me Clotho, while your father knew me as Amaryllis.”

My father had told me once of a mysterious woman with the name. He didn’t say much about her, other then she imparted great knowledge to him. Opening my door farther waving her in, knowing that if my father trusted her, she possessed great character. Grabbing a brass lever by the door, rotating it clockwise. Using its mechanical energy to brighten the ceiling lights of my workshop. Locking the door before glancing at the woman, whose eyes seemed to be scanning the room. Now noticing she had brown patchwork clock bag over her shoulder, that was glowing faintly from the inside.

Amaryllis said “While I’m uncertain what your father told you about me, I know he taught you privately. Sharing his vast knowledge on various subjects,” walking over to a big machine hidden under a cloth. Dropping the bag before grabbing the dirty cloth, pulling it off with a flourish. Revealing a steel loom, that was empty of fabric. Intricate gears ran throughout the machine’s interior. Engraved into the metal were alchemic symbols, that had been filled in with white paint. A golden lever ran itself out the center of the body. “While I regret sharing the designs for this machine but, I’m glad it now. While this may appear to be an ordinary loom Cornelius, this one only works on one particular material. I need you to rebuild the strings of fate that are within the bag. This machine will restore their potency, allowing the world to continue it’s onward,” kneeling some and placing something inside the interior mechanical workings.

Walking toward the loom, I could feel a strange power radiating off the machine I couldn’t explain. The energy the device was emitting was forcing a powerful tingling sensation to ascend up through my right arm. Its focal point seemed to be the ring I inherited from my father.

Amaryllis said “It is time for you to get work Cornelius,” stepping back from the machine. Walking out the door, without saying another word.

Reaching into the bag, she left behind pulling out split clean-cut golden threads. Feeling a slight warmth come off the thread as I fed it to the machine. Pressing down on the brass pedal with my right foot, pulling more of cloth into the loom. Watching the machine re-weave the thread as more of fate’s strings were slowly pulled into the loom. The alchemical symbols engraved onto the loom beginning to match the glow of the strange jewel Amaryllis placed it. Somehow the combination was restoring the golden glow of the strings. Being mesmerized by the lights as I worked on the fractured yarn.

Losing track of time as something tapped me on the shoulder. Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw Amaryllis had returned. Looking almost revitalized despite the white veil that covered her face. Walking over to the where the loom had collected the restored thread. Placing the bundle inside in a black wooden box with antiqued brass hardware, with great care. The bin was free of any symbols, or carvings that could indicate how the container would hide the restored energy of the string. Slamming the box’s lid down, before vanishing into the dark again. Leaving the strange jewel, she placed into the loom behind. Its glow barely a flicker of what it was previously. Making it appear as if it was nothing more than an ordinary ruby, despite its size. Lifting the ruby carefully, I noticed it was the exact match for small ruby in my father’s ring.

With the ruby in hand, I walked towards an old trunk I had uncovered a few days ago. Setting the jewel on an old cloth I placed on the vault. Patiently wrapping it around the gemstone, before opening the chest. Putting it in the chest, knowing it should be forgotten. My father had inadvertently bound our bloodline with this jewel. For better or worse, I would have to protect the strange jewel as well; even I didn’t want to. It seems I had inadvertently altered my destiny by repairing fate’s string. Wondering if this was something else I inherited from my father’s passing.


Critique: Full Word Count: 840

There is another idea…

On the cusp of war, the high-pitched trumpets of Dorill blared at the gates. The royal family of Dorill having arrived, to seal and bind a marriage of peace. Thier horse-drawn carriages being escorted by living sapphire wall of armored soldiers. Bannerman with still white and blue banners stood at the forefront and back of the caravan. Each flag bearing a dagger forced into a blacksmiths anvil in blue, with a six-pointed star on the pommel of the blade.

Looking over to my late father’s guard captain, I ordered “Send a battalion of guardsmen to fetch the Dorril royal family. Tell them to be careful escorting them back to castle. Make sure there are at least a dozen bowmen in the battalion. I know this marriage has some degree of ill favor upon the serfs and some noblemen. If the royal family has complaints regarding the escort by our soldiers, they can augment the battalion with a small group of their own countrymen if they wish,” knowing how crucial this day would be if tensions continued to rise among the nine kingdoms.

Captain Ordo respectively bowed before leaving to follow my order. Leaving me on the balcony with two other guards. The twin moons beginning to appear in the sky, as the sunset on the horizon. It seems meeting the woman who would rule beside me, would have to wait until the morrow.

 

May’s End

Hard to believe May is almost over already. At least it has been a productive month; I wonder if that is why it flew. Even though I have been writing/working on several pieces, I keep forgetting to post anything here. Granted writing most of them by hand makes that a slightly time-consuming task to perform. Even though some are continuations of ideas, I have posted here previously like Thief in Neon, and my Steampunk/Magic hybrid idea. In addition to a few old ideas, that I put on the back burner since the inspiration faded on them. I did submit to Z Publishing House for their writers’ anthology I was emailed about over my vacation. Still waiting to hear back but I doubt that will happen before the end of June.

 

Another long overdue update

Been incredibly busy couple weeks, taking an overdue and much-needed vacation. Enjoying the opportunity to relax and get away from everything.  Along with hearing the fantastic atmosphere of sunshine, and punk rock. Which I sincerely believed gave the reinvigorating energy and mindest I needed to keep up my growing creative output.

Along with helping out with my cousin’s wedding. In addition to working on a piece for America’s Emerging Writer anthology, I got emailed about while on my vacation. Hoping my piece get’s accepted into the book, by Z Publishing House. Now back to a normal life as summer is finally starting up.