Tag Archive | prompter: sauergeek

Clean…?

Clean...?

From yesterday through mid day Thursday, August 6th, I have a Prompt Call running here – anyone can prompt and please do!

This story is set in the same world & city as Saving the Cult (If Not the World). It’s even talking about the same power plant as in Saving the Cult.

🐟

It was clean energy. They had been sold the device – the plant-  on that line, and they, in turn, sold that line to the people for all it was worth.

It wasn’t a lie, even if it was a line. It was cleaner energy – cleaner than coal, for sure, with no chance of a radioactive meltdown, per se, and there was no despoiling a river with a dam, flooding of the people upstream, or the whole mess of the digs for geothermal.

Cleaner? Yes.  Absolutely.  They could have sold that line and never had a single qualm about it (If they were the sort of people who had qualms, of course. They weren’t., or this would be a much shorter story.

But it had its own problems – not on the line of a meltdown, of course, but it did have its own waste line, something that went through every filter their definitely-in-over-their-heads science team could come up with before it went into the river, and the river was still – still, despite all of their work – well, it was a little weird.

Austin went fishing down by the river, once a week, maybe twice on a bad week.  At first, it was meant to be a relaxation, a way of resting after work at the plant, work trying to figure out what they were doing, had gotten just too exasperating.

Austin was a scientist.  What they were doing in the plant… They could use science around it, like in the filters, like in the ways they improved the electric transmission, like in the way they found new ways to get more and more power from the same devices.  But science seemed to fall into a deep messy hole when it came to the plant, the power generation, itself.

There were more and more fishing days as the plant started to increase or decrease output with no changes in mechanisms.  And then when Austin actually started catching fish

Then fishing was an every-evening activity, but it was no longer so relaxing.  There was the whole question of what was nibbling on the bait, after all.

Fish with legs.  That one was interesting but not horrible.  Mutations happened, after all.

Fish that had never before been seen outside of tropical waters – or tropical aquariums.

Fish whose scales glowed in the dark.  Fish whose meat looked to all instrumentation almost exactly like beef, or like lamb.

(Austin didn’t dare taste those.  Once the weirdness started, Austin didn’t taste any of them.)

Fish with three eyes that could’ve been straight out of 1990’s cartoon.

But the thing was, the fish were healthy.   Every one of them, every weird thing.

Austin started working on some new filters for the river anyway.

🐟🐟🐟

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The Whisky Tango Foxtrot

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

I am picturing this as the same era/world as The Trouble With… (Chickens, assignments, ferrets, and so on)

It wasn’t, exactly, a dance.

That is, it was never a dance that would performed in high society, in the dance halls of the Dames and Lords.

It was a dance that was born out of too much whisky, the sort of stuff that ambitious university students brewed in the abandoned dormitories.  It was born out of the awkward one-woman-to-ever-seven-men ratio that was common on the University campus – especially those sections where students were brewing bathtub hooch and coming up with interesting ways to “Age” it without getting caught.  And it was born out of one woman’s very determined urge that, if she was going to be in experimental sciences, she was going to get dances, no matter what her uncle said on the matter.

It was neither a tango nor a foxtrot, but it was face-paced, steamy, and done best when more than a little intoxicated.  It was something like a square dance, except that it was done with one woman at the heart of eight men.  And it was quickly declared against the rules by the university, illegal by the government, and immoral by two different churches.

It was so wildly popular that before she graduated, the young woman responsible for the craze wrote an anonymous tell-all book, the sales of which funded her experimentations for the next fifty years.


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Kaijune: Little Monsters

Written in the setting/time of my 101 Apoc Nights story.

They had been passing bathtub hooch for hours and the fire had burned down to coals, on which they were roasting whatever they still have to roast.  And then one old woman, her hair white and her skin a maze of wrinkles, set down her jar with a thump.

“I tell you,” she told them, “the monsters are scary and the places where time goes backwards, yeah, those are pretty scary.  But the worst thing I ever found – and I am not joking about that – was a lizard not quite as long as my arm.”

Now, she continued, I could tell you horror stories about this area I was in.  It had been a city and then it had been a ruin and now it was four little cities around a whole bunch of ruin that only the bravest went into.

Because – and this was the kicker – because some asshole had released a series of giant poisonous lizards into the city back in the end times.  Someone had, the Lord only knows why, let some asshole would-be god watch Godzilla, I guess.

So that thing had been killed.  But the problem is – the problem was the great-dane-and-a-chihuahua problem, I suppose, but the end result was baby lizards.

And those baby lizards had been wiped out too, but… well you get the idea.  It turns out that, in the center of this down, one lizard in ten has a chance of having flaming acid breath.

And I don’t mean just a little puff like a thing that small ought to give.  No.  No, I mean, these things could spit out a cloud of acid fire like their great-grandmama had.

And that, my friends, is why that one city split into four is the scariest I’ve ever been into.

She leaned back and gulped her whisky.  “’Cause let me tell you, you pick up a baby lizard just like seven others and this one happens to put a hole in the nearest wall… you stop thinking oh cute and start running really damn fast.  And those things could show up anywhere.  No crashing, no roaring, nothing.  Just a little squeak and a belch.”

She rubbed where her eyebrows had been.  “But I didn’t lose anything I couldn’t stand to lose.  What about you, my friends?”

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Early for Snow

My Giraffe (Zebra) Call is open!

Written to sauergeek prompt.

❄️

It seemed like summer had left the door open and autumn was sneaking in. Xarissa threw on a coat and went outside to pull in her plants.  The weather ap was calling for a hard frost tonight – never mind that it was mid-September and even this far north, not the sort of time that you got frost.  It wasn’t supposed to frost for at least another month!

Tomatoes, peppers – she picked everything that was full-sized, regardless of ripeness.  They’d ripen on the counter or they wouldn’t.  Cabbage, broccoli – the potatoes could wait.  The carrots might be happier for a wait.

The wind was blowing damp and cold in her face. She turned to adjust her coat – and realized it wasn’t just wind, but snow.  Heavy snow, the sort that shouldn’t come till maybe early November, coming down so hard she could barely see the house.

With a muttered “screw it” to the rest of the plants, she hurried back to her house, skidding inside with a shove from a wind blast, and turned to look out the window at the weather.

The snow had moved from flying sideways to flying upward.

“That is just not right.”  

She pulled on her winter boots, dug out her mittens, found a scarf and a hat and her long winter coat.  “By the time I’m dressed,” she muttered, “it’ll be spring again.”

It was still upside-down winter when she stepped back outside, the snow heading at a diagonal up towards the old maple tree.  Something was wrong; something was definitely wrong.

She dragged her fire pit out between the two maples, the old and the new, and piled every bit of yard waste she could in there.  She wanted smoke more than heat, lots of smoke.  

With hands made clumsy by cold and feeling like her face was going to freeze off, she managed to light the fire.  The smoke blew upwards with the snow, pushing upwards above the tree.  

Xarissa looked at the shape outlined by the smoke.  It was big, too big, and it was high up in the air, and all the snow was flying right into it.

“We are going to have to have a talk about your timing,” she muttered, “whatever you are.  Shoo!  Shoo!”

Startled, the invisible outline seemed to dart further away.  The snow subsided, falling back to the ground the way it should.

“’Winter is coming,’ my ass,” Xarissa muttered.  “Someone went and summoned winter.  Damn kids…”


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EAT ME

Two takes on sauergeek‘s prompt, and continuing to work out the kinks in cross-posting

🌿

None of the plants in Addergoole’s grotto were, technically, toxic.  That is, they might cause you to have convulsions, visions, insomnia, narcolepsy, or possibly just a warm and fuzzy feeling, but they would not kill you — or, at least, they wouldn’t kill an ordinary human or Ellehemaei child.  Some of the Changes, normal air would kill them, and Valentina could not speak for her plant life in those cases.

She enjoyed encouraging experimentation and enjoyed more watching the results of the experimentation.  After all, every plant in the grotto was the result of“hey, what happens if…?” — Hers and Laurel Valerian’s, mostly, although students other staff had put in their ideas from time to time.  Isabella Even-hand in the kitchen had the most brilliant ideas.  Most of her plants lived up in the orchard or the sunlight gardens, but there were a couple, including the Angry Peach, that deserved their place in the grotto — and made the most aggressive desserts.

“Hey.”  One spikey-haired first-year student flopped down on the soft moss next to another first-year, lanky and dark-clad and serious-looking.  “Have you tried chewing on the purple leaves?  They make sort of a tingling feeling, and then you just don’t feel anything at all for a while.”

Emotional numbness, Valentina wrote, in her unseen perch up in a prickly-pear tree. She’d been growing the purple-leafed plant for its bark and the bast fibers in its stem.

“Don’t feel anything at all?  Sounds better than those yellow berries.  Give it here.”

Long-term effects?  She’d have to keep an eye on these two.

🥗 Continue reading

Crayon Bingo: Black Coral

My first story for Crayon Bingo! In my Things Unspoken ‘Verse.

The necklace had traveled a very long way, over the course of what Hideria thought was probably nearly a century.

It was gorgeous, as a matter of course; it had been owned by the Dowager Queen of Kelanthia, who was renowned for having excellent taste, and it had been stolen by the Pirate Duchess of the Golden Sea, who had very expensive tastes, if not quite always so excellent.

And it shone from the inside out with a sort of magical glow that only some people – and presumably the Pirate Duchess had been one of them – could see.

It was made of black coral, the sort of thing you never found anywhere outside of the Northern Sea, and the sort of thing that was punishable by death in at least three cities on that sea to remove from its waters.

But not in Scheffenon. No, there was much that was not illegal in Scheffenon, and among those things was the theft – no, Hideria corrected herself, that was judgmental thinking and not what she needed right now – the taking of the corals out of the Northern sea.

She had acquired the piece because it sang to her, and it sang to her because she had the sort of ears that could hear, as her mother had once said. She would have made a very good agent of the empire, but her interests lay elsewhere, and she (and her mother and her mother’s mother) had gone to great lengths to convince the Empire’s service of that.

Getting the necklace had taken her three years. She had broken laws in many cities, bent several Imperial laws and regulations, and ended up on the wrong side of two police forces – but that, in her line of avocation, was nothing all that new. Now she had it; she’d managed to get out of the city she’d taken it from, and she was riding on horse-back because, in her experience, the relay stables were far more understanding about things like “I seem to have misplaced my paperwork” and “My name is Joanna Sea,” that is, “I don’t want to give you a proper name but I’m not going to make you pretend I’m giving you a real name, either.”

Stagecoaches liked their paperwork. The railways pretty much insisted on such things. The relays, however, did a brisk business in providing transportation for people who were, for one definition or another, like Hideria.

The horse under her was worth what she’d paid for it. It moved almost like a machine, smooth and well-oiled and without stopping.

She did her part, whispering the oldest songs in its ears when she stopped to water it, giving it the breaks it needed, patting it down and telling it how lovely it was. And in turn, when she told it she needed more running, right now, it obliged her willingly.

The running was because of some local polizia. She was probably still fine with the Emperor’s agents and sheriffs and soldiers. While she had bent some laws and broken some others – she always bent and broke laws, because the laws weren’t really made for people who did what she did – when it came down to it, she would walk up to the Emperor himself and tell him what she’d done, and have no fear nor shame.

But the polizia, they were a different matter, and so she – and the horse – ran.

When she had to trade the beast in at a way-stable, she thanked it, and patted it down herself, and paid the stable extra. She did not stay in the inn there – too many traceable elements – but in another one, off of her route and out of the jurisdiction of the specific polizia she was concerned with (or who were concerned with her).

While she slept, the necklace sang to her. It told her of the deep, dark sea, and the dark, sharp creatures one might find there. It told her of whole homes and castles under the waters, where one could be Queen, for a price. It told her of cast wealth hidden just under the edges of those underwater cliffs, where if one could hold one’s breath long enough, one could be wealthier than anyone had any right to be.

She woke in the wee hours with the urge to run into the water and fling herself into its depths, and wondered how the Dowager Queen of Kelanthia or the Pirate Duchess of the Golden Sea had managed to stay alive, wearing this thing, holding it.

She stroked its rough edges. “I’m taking you home of my own volition,” she told it softly. “I choose to return you. You needn’t take me under with you.”

The necklace quieted, and she could, for a little while, sleep.

And in the morning, she was on the run again.

The Empire was huge. It spanned the continent and then some, save a couple pockets of resistance that were allowed to continue, likely because they were too far away and too isolated to be properly subjugated. Hideria had a long way to go to get to Scheffenon.

And the necklace sang to her the entire time.

It told her of riches and power. It told her of owning the sun, of climbing to the moon. It sang to her until she muffled it in silk, in burlap, in the most magic-proof box she could find.

Still it sang.

Her riding became more frenzied. She slept only a few hours a night. She hurried, hurried, to bring the necklace to its home, to put it back in the Northern Sea.

Still the necklace sang to her. It told her of bloody death, of violence, of starvation. It told her of riding off of a cliff, of being eaten by a bear, of being captured by the polizia and never released, forgotten in some dank, dark cell somewhere. It told her of being helpless, of being lost, of being nothing.

After a week of riding, she stopped sleeping altogether.

After four days of that, she started seeing things out of the corners of her eyes, monsters and gods and piles of gold.

On the fifth day, she rode into Scheffenon.

She finally understood, but it would do no good for the necklace. She had finally realized what it wanted.

It sang to her of the end of every thing, and she rented a boat and rowed out into the sea. It told her she would drown out here, wanting for gold, wanting for riches. Still she rowed.

It screamed in her ears and she stoppered them with cotton, knowing it would do no good.

Deep, deep into the Northern sea the black coral dropped, and even then she could still hear the singing.

Hideria collapsed in her boat and slept until a fishing scow found her.

“It didn’t want to be returned,” she told the fisherman. “It liked being out in the world. It liked spreading its poison. But now it’s gone.”

The fisherman patted her shoulder, understanding all too well. After all, he’d come of age on the Northern sea. “For now,” he assured her. “It’s gone for now.”

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Well, You See, It seemed Reasonable… a story of Science!

“Well, you see…”

Hank Honore, Dr. Hank Honore, was nervous.

That was not all that abnormal in the lab, but Dr. Honore moved like something was going to eat him, quick darting motions that settled down only when nobody was looking at him.

Cara thought it was cute, in the sort of way that made her want to eat him. Alex was not as impressed.

Of course, Alex was never impressed.

“Do continue,” Alex urged.

“Ah! Well, you see. It turns out they’ve got almost all the right skills already. And since we were working with the Moreau model anyway, it was easy enough to tweak it.”

“What project were you working on again?” Cara was supposed to know that, but she couldn’t remember the Moreau model being in play recently.

“Oh, Dr. Westfield asked me to help her, and since I’m new, well, I help wherever I can. Want to be useful, you know. So anyway, Califord Island, that project we were trying to get off the ground as a resort? It was having some traffic snags, and we didn’t want real police because, well… issues.”

“Time to get to the point,” Alex offered lazily.

“Yes, yes, ah. Well. It turns out that if you go with mostly heron and just a little bit of human DNA, you end up with a very nice traffic cop… as long as you don’t mind peck marks in the cars sometimes.”

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Hooked In

This is written to sauergeek‘s commission and a request for more about how Beryl’s father got hooked into the family.
🎣
In high school, there had been a couple people — two in every year, three in the class that were freshmen when Mark was a senior — that were just a little bit different.

Not “didn’t follow the social conventions quite right” different, not “their accent says they didn’t grow up around here” different, but somehow just a little strange, despite conventional clothes and conventional haircuts.

To himself, Mark thought of them as “shiny” or, sometimes “sparkly,” but since none of his buddies seemed to notice — and none of the sparkly people seemed to notice him — he thought little more of it.

Then came college.

Freshman year, first semester, Survey of American Literature I. She sat down next to him and smiled, and Mark was hooked.

She wasn’t beautiful, he supposed. Amy Marconi, sitting behind her, looked like a model and smiled like she wanted to show him what was under her sweater. But this girl, she sparkled.

He introduced himself awkwardly, and she was kind about his clumsiness. He offered to study with her, and she accepted — if they did it as a group with her cousin and his girlfriend.

Well, that wasn’t too un-promising, so Mark agreed. Anything to spend a little more time around that sparkle.

It was three years and more than a hundred dates — study and otherwise — before he admitted that the sparkle had been what first caught his eye. By that point, he’d met her sister, her cousins, and her parents, and he had a pretty good idea that her family had the biggest concentration of sparkle on the Eastern Seaboard.

She’d smiled at him. It was a small thing, but he could see the way it lit up her mood behind the expression. “You can sense the — ah, the sparkle?”

He didn’t say can’t everyone? because by now he’d learned that most people were completely blind and obstinate when it came to such things. Instead, he said, “your Aunt Asta has a sparkle that defies belief, but yours is more mobile and, ah, multicolored, and your cousin Suzanne has some wild night-time fireflies.”

She’d stared for several minutes. For a moment, he thought that mentioning the cousin had been a bad idea. No girl wanted the guy she was dating to notice her cousins, after all, especially not one who liked to wear scandalous things the way Suzanne did.

“You know,” she said slowly, and he braced for impact, “this means I’m going to have to marry you.”

It was so out of the realm of anything that he’d been expecting that Mark stared at her with his mouth open for a minute, possibly as much as three minutes. At least she didn’t seem surprised. At least her smile was glittering with mischief and not with anger.

“I,” he cleared his throat. “I, ah.” He rubbed his hands on his jeans. “I was hoping you’d say that. Well, I hadn’t asked, yet, and I’m not sure I’d really thought I had a chance, but I was hoping if I asked, you’d say yes, and—”

She kissed him, which blissfully saved him from having to say anything else.

“That kiss.” His wife was gone for the evening — a girls’-night-out with her sisters — which left Mark alone with his children; his youngest was at a sleepover, which left only the kids Mark felt he could be a little more honest with, and Chalcedony wasn’t really listening, which meant Mark was talking primarily to his two children who were brimming over with the sparkle.

“I mean, let’s be honest, the moment I met your mother, I was hooked.” His smile was crooked. He never minded being hooked, but sometimes he did feel a bit like a fish on a line. “The minute I realized people had sparkle, I was hooked. But when she kissed me…”

Beryl’s expression was thoughtful, like she’d never quite been kissed like that. Good, thought Mark, uncharitably. It was too early to lose her to some boy.

Stone, on the other hand, looked like he wanted to know what it felt like, and like he knew what it didn’t feel like.

Mark coughed. “So I was hooked when I met her. I was reeled in when she kissed me. But then I met the family…”

Even Chalcedony took part in the long groan. They all loved their family, of course they did. That didn’t mean they were ignorant of what their family was like, especially to outsiders, especially to men.

“Did they know?” Beryl leaned forward. “You have the sight. I mean, I think that’s what you said. You see the spark. Sparkle? I kind of like sparkle better. That’s not common, is it? I don’t know many people who can do it in the family…”

“I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t related to the family who could do it, besides me. Doesn’t mean there aren’t people who can. I mean, there’s plenty of people not related to us —”

“As far as we know.” Stone’s tone was dramatic. Then again, Stone’d had plenty of run-ins with the family lately.

“—not related to the family, as far as we know, who have some sort of power. It’s not all us — you. It just seems like it sometimes.”

“Sometimes it seems like they want us to believe that, or like the gr- like the older generation believes it, though,” Beryl offered.

“Well, the grannies like to have their story be the right one.” There was no use pretending that wasn’t the case. “And they do hold on to power. Sometimes I’ve wondered if they hold on to too much — but that’s a story for another day.” He didn’t need to be sharing family conspiracy theories with his kids. They had enough to worry about. “Anyway — no, the family aren’t the only ones with the power.”

“But…” Stone’s dramatic tone was gone. Now he was speaking slowly and thoughtfully, picking out his words and working through his theory while he presented it. “You said Mom said she ‘had to marry you.’”

“That was just—” Mark shook his head. He tried not to lie to his kids, even when it was uncomfortable. “All right, I like to think that your mother would’ve married me anyway. But yes. I always did get the impression that there was a little familial pressure going on there.”

“So — they like to have people with the power marry in. And men who marry in, uh. People who marry in, really…”

“They can get railroaded, yeah.” There was no arguing that point.

“So maybe not everyone with power is in the family?” Stone looked mildly sick. “But they want everyone to be in the family?”

“That…” Mark spoke slowly, considering that from all angles. “That would make far too much sense.”
🐠

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Love Meme: Jin and Junie

The meme is here: Give me the names of two characters and I will tell you why character A loves character B.

Here is [personal profile] sauergeek‘s first prompt.

Jin had been just old enough to be annoyed by this whole little-sibling thing when his mother had put Junie in his arms.

He hadn’t instantly fallen in love with her. She was small and fragile and loud. He, at that point, had very little interest in things small and fragile and loud.

It was weeks later, when he found out that he could make very minor illusions and had to show them off to someone, that’s when things changed.

His mother was brewing a tisane and couldn’t be disturbed; his father was reading a large tome in the library and looked like disturbing him would not go well. He could wait for dinner – but Jin did not want to wait for dinner. (Patience was a hard- and late-earned skill for him.)

So he decided to show the new baby the illusion.

And she cooed. She reached out for it with her chubby little hands. She was thrilled. Jin felt amazing. This tiny little thing, this thing that cried all the time and nothing at all seemed to soothe her – she liked his illusions.

That cemented it. From that day on, Junie was Jin’s first audience for every illusion, every spell (that was safe to her, of course; he kept the others to a room behind the garage where no-one else came), every cantrip.

And, eventually, Junie found out Jin’s secrets, too.

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January by the Numbers 28: Everyone Eats Everything, a ficlet

January by the numbers continues deep into February…

From sauergeek‘s prompt Everyone eats everything: a ficlet, although more of a start of a story than a story.

As far as strange rules and regulations go, the colonies usually didn’t rate too far up there. When they were colonies, at least, they had far too much to worry about to spend time making rules, other than the very direct: “everybody works” sort of regulations. It was only as time went on and they found themselves in situations where their original survival-based rules were insufficient that most places started coming up with more and more elaborate rules.

Egdarton Seven was a little unique in this matter. It was settled by a small, closed group – one of the few cases where that was allowed, but there was a trend for that around that time, social or avocation groups gathering together and filling a colony. It worked best if the group had wide enough skills to fill all the positions, because one or two outsiders in specialized, necessary positions led to some pretty bad social dynamics on some colonies.

Egdarton Seven, however, had none of the common problems, but it did have a long-standing hobby group with a wide range of skillsets, both within and outside the hobby group and, more, a wide range of already-extant rules and the sort of personalities who enjoyed enforcing said rules. The rules you need to know were posted at their rudimentary spaceport, and woe betide the visiting ship’s-crew or scientist who didn’t read and follow the rules. For a first offense they might be warned, if the person who caught them was feeling generous. For a second offense, they’d be escorted back to their ship and politely told not to come back.

(“What happens if someone part of the community breaks one of those rules?” asked a disgruntled scientist who hadn’t understood the severity or sincerity of the Oxford-Comma rule. The persons escorting the scientist to the ship had clucked in disapproval and not answered. If the scientist had been, perhaps, an anthropologist instead of a xenobiologist, things may have gone very differently for the colony on Egdarton Seven. Certain things were not actually allowed, no matter how they were written into the colony’s charter.)

The one rule that threw almost every visitor, the one rule that got more people evicted from their station, was one that every single member of the colony agreed on wholeheartedly: Everyone Eats Everything. In practice, this meant that if you hated a dish, you could eat a tablespoon-sized scoop of it and be done, but in theory it meant that every person on Egdarton Seven was eating the same things, and that the entire colony ate together.

Like every other rule on the colony, no official explanation for this edict was ever offered, although one teenaged member did like to whisper, melodramatically and none too seriously, “poison!” any time any visitor asked.

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