Tag Archive | prompt: 15minfic

15 minute Ficlet in Vas’ World – Contemplating the Wall

Originally posted here in response to a photoprompt

“What. Is that?” Andon stared at the long stretch of stacked stone, his jaw dropping.

“We told you,” Paz answered patiently. “Walls.”

“Are you sure they’re not natural occurrences?” Suki tried. “Some sort of land coral-like thing or…?”

“Not unless coral grows with integral mortar.” Malia and Suki were getting along, Vas noticed, worse and worse since Becky’s disappearance. Since they’d barely been able to be in a cabin together beforehand, he did his best to keep them separated. The walls, though, changed everything.

“So there’s really a sentient species here?” Andon looked so disappointed. He’d been hoping, Vas thought, for a colonial mayorship or something. Not that he couldn’t still have it, but…

“Sentience could be arguable,” Paz grumbled. He was still unhappy about the attack, and so inclined to be less than charitable about their hosts. “But the have tool-using capability and weapons. And something built the walls.”

“Walls, plural,” Suki snapped. “This isn’t the first one?”

“We were a little busy getting shot at,” Malia snapped. “You may have noticed?”

“Well, you’ll have to show me the other one, too.”

“Only if you want to get shot at,” Vas pointed out. He didn’t like Suki’s tone any more than Malia did.

“It’s still science, and it still needs to be observed and recorded,” she answered primly.

“I’ll observe and record…” Malia mumbled. Ezra, finally, chose that minute to get involved, in, of course, exactly the wrong way.

“Now girls…”

For a moment, both women were united in the venom they turned on him. “We are you fucking colleagues, Ezra,” Malia snarled…

“Not children in a classroom,” Suki added. And then, before Ezra could retort, she screamed.

Every man there turned, hand on his weapon, in time to see the branches of the tree-like vegetation, the twisted branches that had looked a bit like tentacles, a bit like arms, twist around the senior xenobotanist’s waist, pulling her off the ground and up into the air. Another tentacle wrapped around Malia’s waist.

“I have a hatchet,” she snapped. “Don’t even think about it.”

Pronunciation note: “Vas” is pronounced like a fine-art vase, vos.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/28263.html. You can comment here or there.

15minutefiction: Retaliation

Originally posted here, in response to the prompt “retaliation.” It’s a weird’un, but here it is.

“For every one of ours…!” Zay’s voice filled the stone building and echoed back at them from the corners; every man and woman there picked up the call and shouted it back at him.

“For every one of ours, three of theirs. For every three of ours, fifteen of theirs. For every fire, a conflagration. For every bullet, a cannonball!”

Aisa stood in the doorway, not in the hall, not participating, but observing. She was not part of their village, nor part of the neighboring town on which they would call down their vengeance. She would have no part in this, none but to watch. Someone had to bear witness, after all.

“For every daughter of ours,” Zay prompted the crowd,

“Three sons of theirs!” they roared back. It was a wonder they couldn’t be heard from the neighboring hall. Then again, they were probably shouting something similar there.

Aisa, unseen, shook her head. She had heard this before, seen it before, in countless small towns, small feuds blossoming into giant bloodbaths. Some old-time philosopher had said “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Here, it left dead cities, in wastes that couldn’t afford the devastation. It was as if something had turned even more feral, nastier, in the surviving humans, that made them seek bloodshed, perversely, when they could least afford it.

“We will go to their center square!” Zay hollered.

“We will go into their streets, into their bedrooms,” the crowd yelled back.

“We will take their children, three of their for every one of ours.” He raised his fist to the sky. They all raised their fists to the sky.

“And we will raise them as our own,” the village yelled.

“Three of theirs…

“For every one of ours!”

It was amazing they couldn’t hear this all the way to the other coast.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/27567.html. You can comment here or there.

15minuteFiclet – Old Soul

Originally posted here, in response to the lyrics prompt “You don’t need a spaceship / They don’t know you’ve already lived / On the other side of the galaxy”

She opened her eyes to the world around her, her memories already fading.

She’d shared some of them with her parents-to-be beforehand, but there was a bit of a language barrier, an image barrier. They could understand, through careful, patient relaying of images, that this was not her first life. They were predisposed to believe in reincarnation – she would not have picked a host family who were not. The belief would be central to things she would need to do, if her mission were to succeed.

So would their knowledge, however faint, in what she had been before. And it seemed it would be faint, indeed. She hadn’t counted on just how different their peoples were, how vastly separated their languages, even their most basic concepts, were. She found the metaphors that would work, and left notes, signposts, for herself in her forming brain, hoping the two, combined, would get her pointed in the right direction. Then she let go, and was born.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/25050.html. You can comment here or there.

15 Minute Ficlet – Building

From Ty’s prompt here, check out the picture!

They were building it anew.

There hadn’t been much left after the devastation, and the city they’d lived in had been a stinking, rotten, fetid ruin. Better to leave it to the dead and dying, better to leave the diseases to work their course. Those of them who could walk, who could carry a pack, who wanted to live, had banded together and headed for the hills.

They had among them a surprising number of skills for “city people,” and just as surprising, to them, were their gaps in knowledge, vast holes that the city, that civilization had filled in. but they had what their ancestors had had, in spades: a strong desire to keep living, and a willingness to innovate.

They didn’t all have a willingness to work hard, but those who didn’t either fell by the wayside, or found ways to work “smart,” to reinvent old technology quickly, and to steal or jury-rig what they couldn’t just make.

They were on an old tor, where thousands of years ago, castles had risen from the ground. The castles were gone, victims of age, victims of the same devastation that had ruined the city, but the things that had made the tor a good place to build a castle were still there: fresh water, a view for miles in every direction, and stone. Stone and stone and stone. They grew tired of looking at stone, of carrying stone, of cutting stone. Their hands were covered in so much dust that they might as well be stone. They dreamed of stone.

But they dreamed in safety, behind sturdy walls that grew sturdier and safer every day; they dreamed with full bellies, their food supplies growing from hunting and gardening and plain old scrounging; they dreamed in a growing community, in a world they were building for themselves:

Their dreams were of stacking stone; but their hopes were of stacking knowledge.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/21335.html. You can comment here or there.

15-minute ficlet: Slideshow

Originally posted to Fifteen-Minute-Fics, a 15-minute-ficlet to the prompt “platitudinous”

She smiled at the gathered crowd and took a long, deep breath. They would listen to her; they’d paid to come in here, after all. But would they hear?

She waited while they squirmed a bit. No-one expected her to be all that interesting, did they? They expected her to preach, to pontificate, to pour platitudes on their plebeian pates. They came to say they’d heard her speak, not because they expected it to be an entertaining speech.

“Punch ’em in the gut,” he’d recommended. “Don’t be platitudinous. Don’t use words of more than two syllables unless no other word will do. They’re here to look at you, after all, and for the cachet of hearing you speak. Let them look at you. Then, and only then, honey, hit them in the gut and don’t let them catch their breath until you’re done with them.”

He’d added a wry smile then, one she’d come to know very well. “I know you can do it. You’ve done it to me.”

She stepped away from the podium, carrying only the small remote control for the projector. She shed her business jacket. Let them look at you. All right, then; under the jacket she was wearing a thin, strappy chemise and a skirt that looked a lot less professional without its matching jacket, especially when a mystery breeze began brushing it to and fro, suggesting more than showing, but certainly suggesting a lot.

While they were staring at the moments of revealed thigh, at her freckled shoulders, at her flame-colored, hair, the projector screen lowered. She stood so that she was directly in front of the images, and showed them her pictures:

Avignon, where a would-be god sat on a throne in the middle of city hall, young men and women in chains at his feet. The light made it seem as if she, too, was chained before him. Click.

Barcelona, where the center of the city stood as destroyed as if an earthquake had hit it. She looked, now, as if she stood buried to her waist in rubble. The crowd began to make uncomfortable noises. Click.

Lisbon, looking as if nothing had changed, at first glance. Peaceful. Calm. Happy. Click… and so very uniform. Everybody the same. Everybody moving with a small careful fixed smile on their face: nothing wrong here. We like our uniforms. We are not stepping out of the crowd. Click.

The light of an American anytown showed them her face, with the same careful smile, the same blank expression.

“The enemy is already here,” she said into the nervous silence. “The questions is not when they will arrive. It is what. will. we. do?”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/18938.html. You can comment here or there.

15 minute ficlet: Through the snow

From another 15minfic prompt, this one a photo. It insisted on being FaeApoc. And I kept writing for 2 more paragraphs after where it wanted to end. You’re welcome. 😉

Ken stumbled, caught himself, and stumbled again. He was exhausted, no past that. Exhausted had been several miles, or at least a long time of walking, back.

He was freezing already; if he fell, the falling snow would cover him, and he would be a corpsicle for a long time before anyone found him, if anyone ever did. But there were lights in the distance; if he could get there, he could get help.

He wasn’t dressed for the weather; they hadn’t been expecting the dragons in the sky, or the wyrm-creature that ripped up the highway. They’d hit the grocery store and been on their way to the mall. Now Sarah was dead, and Aisha…

…well, he’d bandaged her wounds the best he could with his T-shirt, left her wrapped up in the back seat with his coat and hers covering her and the easiest-to-eat of the groceries. He’d taken one bag for himself, the one with the candy bars and, stupidly, the light bulbs. Couldn’t eat light bulbs. Then he’d started walking, looking for help.

The roads were chaos, the area near the highway a mess. No-one wanted to help; all they wanted to do was get away, get as far away as they could from the monsters, from the strange godlings in the sky fighting the monsters, from the lightning bolts and fireballs being thrown like bad CGI come to life. No-one worried about one skinny college kid. He wondered if they’d listen more if they could see behind his Mask, or if they’d just kill him on sight, assuming he was another monster.

He stumbled again, tripped, and fell. The snow was cold, but it was so soft under him, and he couldn’t bring up the energy to stand. He had to stand. He had to be found, or they’d never find Aisha. He reached for the last candy bar, ate it in two gulps, washing down the sickly-sweet sugar taste with mouthfuls of snow, and tried to bring himself back to his feet.

He made it four feet, maybe four yards, before his foot caught on a rock and his ankle buckled beneath him. The groceries caught his fall, the light-bulbs spilling out over the snow.

Lightbulb. He blinked groggily at the twist of glass. His feet might not move anymore, but maybe he could find a little more energy…

“Tempero hiko,” he muttered. The body had electricity in it, right? He could Control it. He could…

The bulb lit, flickered, and stayed lit. Ken put his head down on the ground and tried not to fall asleep.

The world was cold, so very cold, when he heard a voice say, “hey, hey kid. Wake up!” the hands brushing the snow off him felt like they were brushing off his skin; he tried to scream and found that he had no energy for a voice. “Oh, thank god,” the voice said. “He’s alive. Come on, kid, let’s get you inside.”

“Aisha…” he muttered, as strong hands lifted him from the snow.


This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/17370.html. You can comment here or there.

15 minute ficlet: Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong, Who’s Left

From Ty’s prompt here, written in 12 minutes.

“These sort of things just polarize the group more, that’s all I’m saying, Anna. And it doesn’t seem like a good idea.”

“But having a debate is a calm, rational way to work out differences over an issue.” Anna sat on the kitchen counter and kicked her feet despondently, half-heatedly peeling carrots while Cassie seared one of their last slabs of meat. “I don’t see what the problem is.”

“The problem is that you’re expecting humans to act calm and rational. That only works now and then in the best of circumstances, and, really, hon, you can’t say this is the best of circumstances. Are you done with the carrots yet?”

“No, Mom.” She peeled the carrots with more alacrity, stashing all of the peels in their compost bin before moving on to slicing the potatoes. “I don’t get it, though. Back in school, they were really big on ‘man is a rational, thinking being.’ So why can’t we act like it? Why do you and Aunt Sarah and Uncle Todd seem to think that we’re all going to turn into ravening monsters is we sit down and discuss an issue?”

“Well, because ‘thinking being’ is all well and fine, but are you telling me you’ve never seen an argument boil over?” She pinched some hoarded spices into the pot.

“I guess, yeah, but, like, kids. Or, I guess, Uncle Jack and Dad after they’d been drinking. Or you and…”

“So yes,” Cassie cut her off. “People argue. Tempers flare. And when it’s an issue like this… well, everyone’s invested, aren’t they? This isn’t like your high school debates, Anna, where the subject really didn’t mean all that much to anyone. This is life or death for every person here.”

“Which is why I think we ought to actually discuss it! Not leave it up to the mayor. Not just do some secret ballot. But actually sit down and talk about it and figure out, between all of us, what the best option is.”

“Honey, it’s not going to happen like that. I’m sorry, but this isn’t the sort of situation where people are going to calmly go over their options; everyone already has an opinion.The bunker is already divided pretty clearly; staying quiet about it is all that lets people live this close to one another. If you bring it out in the open, if you polarize it, then everyone has to live with the fact, actually face up to it, that they disagree fundamentally with someone living three feet away from them.”

“But it’s all so complicated! Open the door or don’t. Send one person through the lock, don’t send anyone, we all go. How do we know what the right answer is if we don’t talk about it?”

“Honey,” Cassie sighed, “debate doesn’t tell you who’s right. It just tells you who’s loudest.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/16931.html. You can comment here or there.

15-minute ficlet: Denial

Originally posted in response to a photo prompt here: go see it, and you’ll know why this had to be fae-apoc Apoc. It ended up being Arnbørg because Wyst & I had been discussing Jamian.

The sky shimmered and rippled like an old parking-lot oil slick, the world stretching and tearing in the bright sunset.

“Oh, no you don’t.” Arnbørg settled the heavy army coat a little more firmly, and pointed a single finger at the sky. The ripples slowed, and then shifted direction, as if looking over their shoulder at their caught tail. The sky bunched and puddle, and a small tear of orange appeared in the blue-red clouds.

“No.” This time, the word had power behind it, a shove like pushing a big dog back to the ground: down, boy. Down. The world tore a little bit more, the ripples frozen in their pushing, and Arnbørg pushed back with a single finger and a single word.

“No.” It may have been the only word of power to ever properly cross those lips, but it would be strong enough. Shoulders set, the slender mutt said it again: “No.”

Through a hole barely big enough, in the scheme of things, to count as a pinhole, thrust the head of a being who at one time had been worshiped as an all-knowing deity. “What?”

“I said no.”

The god worked a shoulder through, only to find himself sucked back into the hole, nothing but his nose and mouth sticking out. “Who are you to naysay my will, child?”

“I am Arnbørg sh’Arvilla by Aelfgar, and I say no.” With every repetition, the slim shoulders swayed, the sky rippled, and the hole in the world shrank.

“What are you to naysay me,” the god roared, but he sounded tinny and far away.

“I am the one who says No,” Arnbørg repeated, “and I say no to your intrusion.” Bony shoulders shook with cold, but the finger remained unwavering until the world stopped rippling and the tear vanished. “No,” whispered with the last thread of strength, and a wry smile as knees hit the ground.

“No.” When Arnbørg had been just past three years old, a tired Arvilla had declared it looked like her contrary child’s sole ability would be to deny everything and anything. At twenty-eight, the slender mutt cheerfully denied a god and proved her mother right.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/7294.html. You can comment here or there.

15-minute ficlet: The desert blinks

From Ty’s prompt here, “The desert is awake / Flicks its pale moon eyes.” Unknown setting.

“Oh, good, you’re awake.”

He hadn’t been. He had been happily off in the land of dreams, where things made sense and no-one was trying to kill or kidnap him, where people didn’t jump out of twelfth-story windows with him over their… over their shoulder?

He blinked slowly awake, no longer quite sure where the dream was and where the reality.

She was sitting leaning over him, casting a long shadow, longer than seemed reasonable. Dark, shaggy-short-cut hair, sun-darkened skin, her cheekbones tattooed, her upper and lower lips each pierced twice, t-shirt with the sleeves ripped out, BDU pants, tape-patched combat boots. She looked like a punk, from back when that word had meaning. She didn’t look old enough to remember when counterculture had been a thing.

“Am I?” he croaked. The heat was unbearable, even the ground under him feeling like the inside of a pizza oven. “Am I even alive?”

She blinked at him, her eyes the color of old ash, of the full moon in daytime. “I rescued you,” she reminded him. “You live.”

He stretched tentatively and was surprised to find that nothing hurt, that nothing was broken. “How did you do that? You jumped … we jumped…”

“Shh,” she scolded. “There are things out there that I cannot stop, and they will hear your yowling. But there are things I can stop, and those creatures were on that list.”

“Creatures? The slavers?” He twitched against the memory of chains. “Fuuuck. They branded me. I can’t go anywhere now.” He reached for the spot on his upper back where they’d burnt in their mark, to find the skin smooth and unscarred. “What…?”

She blinked at him again. “There are things I can stop,” she repeated. “They will not bother you.”

He looked around, past her, at the desert that stretched out in all directions, at the dune that shaded him from the deadly sun, then back to the girl with the moonlight eyes staring seriously at some point two inches inside his skull. “You stopped the slavers. You stopped their brand.” He’d heard of the magic ones, but never in terms of rescue, never in terms of salvation. Then again… “How do I get out of here, then?”

The teeth that showed in her smile were like bleached shards of bone. “For that,” she said, sounding like a rattlesnake’s warning, “you have to deal with me.”

Drakeathon 2/19-2/20/11

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