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Thimbleful Thursday: Zonked

I think the best warning for this one is: This creeped me out.  No body horror but brain horror.

“We have an agreement.”  The woman’s smile was fake.  “You signed the papers, the money has been deposited, and you are ready to comply.”

“Yes.”  Tepha nodded shortly.  “You have my thumbprint.  You have my consent, and I’ve seen the money in the account.”  She put down her Access – the cheapest possible one, but it did show her things like bank accounts.  She’d done the three swipes necessary to take the account out of her name.  She couldn’t touch it anymore, and that was important.

“Good.  Now, I know you’ve probably heard some things about the Procedure.  Half of those are lies and the other half… well. You’ll find out soon enough.”

Considering the things Tepha had heard, that was not remotely comforting.  

It didn’t need to be.  She wasn’t here for comfort.

She sat down in the chair the woman indicated.  She closed her eyes.

“We can’t sedate you for this part, but don’t worry.  Most people lose consciousness very quickly.”

She didn’t know if that was a good thing.  She knew – if half the rumors were true – that nothing was the same after you’d been Zonked.  She knew – if even a quarter of the rumors were true – that it wasn’t reversible.

None of that mattered.

The wires attached to her head.  The pill set on her tongue, a wafer that tasted fakely of fruit.  She felt it dissolve. She felt a sudden jolt of pain. And then…

Then she felt nothing.

“There we go.”  The woman removed the wires and waved her hand in front of Tepha’s face.  The eyes tracked. There was no expression.

“Good.”  The woman nodded.  “Stand up and go through the blue door.  Follow the instructions you are given.”

Zonked people were cheaper than robots, could often still handle independent thought, and the price of feeding and housing them was minimized by their lack of want.  If the woman found them creepy… feeling was not part of her job description either.

The woman who had been Tepha did as she had been told.  There was nothing in her to suggest any desire to do otherwise.


Written to July 19th’s Thimbleful Thursday prompt: Zonked Out

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Nineteen: “Disputes” in the Bear Empire

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Lies and Murder in the Bear Empire

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They didn’t sleep well, but they drowsed for several hours, until the sun began to sneak over the horizon and Deline, at least, was tired of pretending she could rest.

The storm, which had come back twice during their restless sleep, seemed to have passed by the time they made it downstairs and into the small town.  Deline wasted a few minutes wishing over the carriage system, but even if it was safe for them to risk, the carriages wouldn’t travel if there was risk to the horses.

Their provisioning was quick, since there were only two stores in town.  It was at the second one, while Carrone was making faces at Deline’s purchases, that the shopkeeper aimed a sharp look up and down both of them. Continue reading

What Happened?

Written to LilFluff’s prompt to my new “WTF?” Prompt Call.  

Probably a new universe.  The last two times Fluff prompted me, we ended up with Kael’s Tower/a New World and The Hidden Mall, so…

When Emma found the door in the closet of her great-grandfather’s old house, she knew what she had to do.  

It was simply the way these things were all done in the books.

She ought to check it out first.  After all, someone always did.

But since she was staying for the weekend with her cousin, she went to get Britney first.

Britney, who was very interested in the current Seventeen magazine, did not want to come see some stinky old closet on the top floor where they really weren’t supposed to be anyway.   “Aren’t we a little old for make-believe, Em?”

“No.”  Emma’s chin jutted out.  It would be so much easier to do this without her.  And yet… “We’ll be old for make believe when we’re old. Grey hair and creaky joints and all that.  Come on. A secret door!”

“Allll right.”  With a great show of reluctance, Britney came along.

The door, at first, did not want to open, and Emma had to once again coax Britney to stay and help her get the doorknob – a little thing, shaped like a fist – to turn.

When they finally opened it, neither of them were nearly as surprised as they ought to have been to find themselves in the middle of a forest.

Britney, who had read the same books that Emma had, took a coat from the closet, sniffed it, and slid it over her shoulders.  The camel-brown leather coat made her look older and more intense than she was.

Emma thumbed through the jackets before pulling the plastic off of a trenchcoat, a grey one that looked styled just right.  It was a wee bit long on her, but that was fine. They were just stepping into a forest…

They left the door propped with a rock that happened to be very brick-shaped, neither of them looking too closely at the way it seemed to hang in mid-air on this side.  And they started walking, both of them secretly wondering if they would encounter a faun or a talking rabbit, a sentient scarecrow or a family with buttons over their eyes…

What they encountered was a glass wall, a thick one, and, outside of it, a city of gleaming steel and shining lights.  There were pod-like things zooming around in mid-air, and the sky, far above, seemed to be covered with yet another layer of glass.

They looked behind them.  There was the forest, and, somewhere in it, a portal.

They looked in front of them.  “This…” Emma whispered. “This was not what I was expecting.”


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What The… Doll?

Written to Del’s prompt to my new “WTF?” Prompt Call.  This Miiiiiight be Science! or Dragons Next Door universes – what do you think?

I suppose I had nobody to blame but myself.

I’m one of those compulsive “clickers” that likes to play with online dollies, you know ‘dress up Soldier Sapphire!  Make a Fashion Doll!”

It’s not a habit I really admit to people in real life, but the online world has always been different.

So when “make your mini-mi!” came up in the advertisements for one of the sites I like a lot – they have wings!  And some pretty funky skin colors! – I couldn’t resist clicking.

And then I spent an hour playing – maybe two hours – it could have been three.  All I know is that when I was done, I had a nice little character that looked “just like me.”

I mean, if me had blue hair.  Continue reading

What The Spell?

Written to Victoria’s prompt to my new “WTF?” Prompt Call.  Set in the same world as Parts and Points, which itself is the same world as a cyberpunk-ish novel I’m working on. 

The book was old – ancient –  the sort of thing that people hoard and pass on to their descendants in their wills, and Jenivere had found it in the back of a flea market booth, hiding in a bargain bin.

She’d felt a little guilty about what she’d paid for it, so she’d done a little spell around the booth, one of her favorite easy ones that just made everything a little fresher without ruining the quality of something old or antique (although it sometimes had unfortunate effects on ‘shabby chic’ sorts of things).

Now that she’d read the whole thing three times, she was ready to start one of the spells in it.  It was a shield spell – it was listed as ‘defend and protect’ – and the ingredients were almost all supermarket-easy. Continue reading

A New World 26: Differences

“Tomorrow night.”  Gemma had agreed to that much.  “Tomorrow, if you come by the museum after yours closes, I will take you to Jamhaier.  I don’t know why you want to go to that place, but I will take you.”

“Thank you.”  Kael wasn’t sure she needed a guide, per se, but she knew that she enjoyed Gemma’s company and that this city had far more to navigate than just the roads and other such things a map would show.

Like these very confusing relations between the Hoija and the others, and the way that almost nobody knew about any other nations.

Had the Hoija – who had not exactly been warlike, back in her time – wiped the rest of them out?  Or taken them all over and given them all their name? Continue reading

Eighteen: Lies and Murder in the Bear Empire

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Captive in the Bear Empire

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Carrone was eyeing Deline oddly.  “You don’t like killing. The Deklegion paper-pusher told us you were a mass-murderer.  Then you put a blade to me and offered to leave me in the cabin.”

“I have killed a grand total of… three people and seven animals in Dekleg, not this trip, in my life, and two of those people were actively trying to kill me at the time.  I don’t like killing people.”

“But you would have slit my throat.”

“Sometimes…”  She sat down on the edge of their makeshift bed cross-legged, “the mission is more important than what I want.  And if I don’t make it home, the mission fails.” Continue reading

A New World 25: Jamhaier

The bar was not all that different from pubs and taverns that Kael remembered.  There was louder music, yes, the lights were different, but the drinks were much the same – just more variety.  She bowed to Gemma’s expertise for the first drink and got a wink and a decidedly flirtatious smile in return.

“Are you encouraging me to get you drunk, Madam Kaelingrade?”

“As a matter of fact, I might enjoy that,” Kael agreed.  “But I’d have to hope that you have better than an apprentice’s garret to take me back to, since that’s all that they give one for ‘room and board’.  Well at least for the room portion.  The board is quite nice.”

“Did she call you – did she call you Madam Kaelingrade?”  The bartender, a handsome man who was a little younger than Kael’s apparent age, looked surprised.  “Is there a new Kael in the tower, then? You look…” He studied her for a moment. “You look genuine.” Continue reading

Captive in the Bear Empire

First: Running in the Bear Empire
Previous: Teamwork in the Bear Empire

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“So that’s how you did that knot.”

“What?  Oh, yes.”  Deline tightened up the last of the spell-rope knots around their would-be murderer with a yank.

“Do they teach that in spy training in the Empire?”  Carrone shifted the blade he was holding so that it was in a slightly less threatening position against the assassin’s throat.

“That’s at least three assumptions.”  She sat back and looked at the woman, who glared balefully at her over the thick gag of rag and socks.  Dirty socks; Deline was not in a charitable mood.

“Hunh?  I guess it is.  Are you going to give her the—”

“Hsst.”  She looked down at the woman.  “You have three choices.” Continue reading

Thimbleful Thursday: Parts and Points

“You, uh, really take trying out your product seriously, don’t you?”

The man was nervous. Sheen’s workshop did that, got people thinking about all the pieces coming to life, or about all the meat parts they still had.

That was, however, no excuse for rudeness.

“Mmm?” Sheen made like he didn’t know what the guy was talking about.  

“Your, uh, your arm?”

He’d actually said it.  Sheen marked a point in his favor.  

“This?” Sheen sent a thought through the wiring and detached his metal arm — mostly composites and ceramic, but “metal arm, meat arm” sounded cooler.  “Does this—” he waved the stump “—  look like something I did to myself?” Continue reading