Friday, May 24, 2013


  Sooo... Maybe I shouldn't write when I'm in excruciating pain... >.> Anywho, this is a piece inspired by the prompt "Rust" on this dA Member's Contest. Enjoy? ;P

(This is a Repost... as I don't know what kind of craziness was going on the first time I posted it. O.o!)


  What sounded like an explosion rocked the ship, and what had moments before been a pleasant exercise session turned into a panicked scramble for the bars lining the rooms walls. As the rocking grew more severe, if felt like the entire ship was tearing itself apart, and the grinding squealing sounds it was making as it did were enough to liquidize what little courage the men and women of the crew had.

"What's happening?" Soo the re-entry pilot shouted at nobody in particular as she reached the navigation bar fastened to the wall.

"How the heck should I know?" Jerek, the nutritionist, reaching the bar next hollered back assuming, as was his usual, everyone was talking to him. A habit that he obviously didn't drop even during a crisis such as this one.

"Where is that coming from?" Zaile, research lead, screamed as she reached the bar almost on top of Greg, physical therapist, who yelled, "What's going on?" at the same time.

"Everyone to the suits!" Barney, the maintenance guy, ordered, taking charge in a bad situation. This would have likely surprised everyone had they not just recently become aware of how short their lives were likely to be.

  With direction now, everyone began pulling themselves towards the door leading towards the suits.

* * * * *

  Yawning, Brett couldn't care less what the instructors were saying. His father had worked ship construction his whole life, and Brett came to it naturally. There wasn't anything more complicated to be found in this warehouse than he's already encountered at his previous job. Drumming his fingers silently on the table at the back of the room, he let his mind wander, dreaming of one day maybe piloting one of the ships himself. He knew that wasn't likely. You had to be rich to afford all the pilot training courses you needed... but it was nice to dream sometimes...

* * * * *

  As Barney was pulling the door to the exercise room too, a second explosion threw them all into the wall opposite the door and a scraping, crashing sound accompanied what was supposed to be a stationary bike as it lodged itself into the corridor, tearing through Barney and contorting him into a gruesome mockery of a human form between the bike and the wall.

"Don't stop!" Soo sobbed out, hurrying behind the rest of them as they climbed the ladder in the access corridor. Their only hope was to make it to the suits and from there straight into the emergency life pods... They had to make it... what was happening to the rest of the crew... what was happening to the ship...

* * * * *

  Lifting the panel into place, Brett couldn't believe how lucky he'd been. Coming out of the last warehouse with a less than stellar work history, he had assumed his future in ship assembly was over. His father had of course been livid... but it wasn't his fault they fired him. Just because he didn't brown nose the boss like all the other guys did during training, he'd been constantly harassed since he started. Every time he made even the tiniest mistake, the shift lead would jump down his throat like he'd done it on purpose.

  Now he was working for an even larger assembly house, and sure... he'd had to move to get the job, but he was 'way' over qualified for this work, and the money was great.

"What are you doing!" the boss's voice shouted out from right behind him.

Jumping and dropping the panel as he did, Brett whirled around angry at being surprised.

"If I have to tell you again not to use the external housing inside the ship, you're going to spend the next year sorting through the used materials! Do I make myself clear!"

"Yes sir..." he muttered looking down at the ground as he did.

* * * * *

  There weren't enough suits... this wasn't the way it was supposed to be. Safety regulations specifically required that every ship carried enough suits to protect every crew member in every station. There was one too few suits for all of them, and they couldn't go out in the safety pod without a suit.

"What are we going to do?" Greg shouted as soon as they realized there weren't enough suits for all of them, "Someone's going to have to go out without a suit! Someone's going to die! What are we going to... Oh my God!"

  Soo turned to see what he was pointing at and the sudden panic that snared her had nothing to do with the increasingly violent sounds the rest of the ship was making around them. Zaile was thrashing, aimlessly with a screwdriver sticking out of one of her eyes as Jerek took the suit she'd been holding and pushed it towards her.

"We didn't need her," he said in a voice too calm for the chaos of their current situation, and not at all balanced with what he'd just done.

"What did you do!?" she screamed, "What's wrong with you!?" she continued not taking the suit drifting towards her.

  As he was putting his suit on Jerek responded, still in the too calm voice, "Somebody was going to die, we don't have time to talk about it, if we don't get out of her right now we're all going to die, would you rather we all died, I did what I had to do."

  Pulling her suit on as her stomach violently threatened to empty itself, Zaile's blood had been sent drifting across the room by her thrashing, Soo knew they didn't have time to discuss this... but what was wrong with Jerek?

* * * * *

  These last few years had been rough for him. Brett learned the hard way that after being fired from two of the largest ship manufacturers in the country, it was a little harder to get another assembly job. Even the autocraft manufacturers wouldn't hire him, and working in food processing didn't pay nearly as well.

  He'd heard some rumors though. Supposedly one of the primary assembly shops was getting bought out by their competitors... and his father used to have quite a bit of sway with this particular shop. Maybe if he talked to the right people...

  Only two months later he was manufacturing lead of a crew of about 20 guys, and all the nightmare problems his lead had dealt with in him was repaid in spades. Lazy workers, incompetent workers, workers that just stopped showing up altogether... they were lucky to get anything built. Next year they were going to bid on a rather important contract, and if he could show them how amazing a lead he was... Going back down to the floor, he knew he had an uphill battle ahead of him.

* * * * *

  Pulling the launch lever, the shuttle began separating from the ship. As the seal broke and the stabilization gel filled the pod, Jerek began thrashing in his straps. He could feel the gel oozing along his back. It shouldn't be getting into the suit! I sealed the suit! Oh God it Burns! Tearing confusedly at the releases for the suit, his vision was quickly swallowed by the gel as it seared the flesh of his eyes.

  Soo stared aghast towards where she knew Jerek was thrashing as his screams faded from the com. Something was wrong... did she really care? Too many people had died.. did anyone else even make it out? As the environment in the pod stabilized, and the gel became transparent, she looked over to see if Greg was okay. He was staring at Jerek with a sick expression on his face.

"I... had to do it..." Greg's voice came through the com, "He... he killed Zaile... we couldn't trust him Soo... we don't know who he'd have killed next..."

She didn't understand, and said as much, "What did you do?"

"I cut his suit. When we were sealing the pod, I took a torch to the back of his suit... We couldn't trust him Soo..." he stammered.

  She didn't know what to feel anymore. Too much had happened in too short a time. It seemed like forever ago they had all just begun their daily workout... and now... only she and Greg were still alive, drifting off in a life pod... with Jerek's dead body... dead because Greg killed him... It was all just too...

The sharp sound of something metal straining as if against a incredible force cut through the shuttle.

* * * * *

  This new kid reminded him a lot of himself when he'd been younger. All attitude, and constantly in a hurry. He refused to fire him though. Not only would that make things more difficult as he was about to retire, but he would prove that if you just worked with someone, you could help them grow. Look how far he'd come. Taking a deep breath, Brett spoke in only a low yell.

"Okay, one more time kid, and if I have to repeat myself again... I'm sending you down to used parts," a slight tingle at that niggled the back of his mind, but he shook it off, "I need you to put together these last few consoles for the navigator. Remember, this ship is heading out further than any ship they've sent before. The only reason you get to work on this project is because your dad spoke highly of your attention to detail. So tell me then, why are you using the old bolts for these casings?"

"Sir," the kid responded, almost sincere sounding... but he knew that most kids were just waiting till you turned around to say what they really thought, "all the newer bolts were left outside. The containers were full of water and some of the bolts had already begun to rust."

"Are you freaking kidding me!" he shouted back. They had to get this project finished before he could claim his full retirement sum, and he wasn't about to let something stupid like a few rusty bolts stop that.

* * * * *

It took less than a minute for the life pod to tear itself apart.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hush-a-by Baby...

  Heh, there was another competition on dA (By an individual group this time) and this one (The "Tales of Time" Competition) asked for a creative work based on a "Classic Story" of the past. I chose the Nursery Ryme Rock a By Baby (Suggested by my Roomie) and used the 'Original' iteration of it to inspire this tale...

* * * * * * * * * *

Hush-a-by baby…

  Running through the woods he could still hear its voice… or whatever it was… whispering through the trees. Daylight had left long ago and this thing… it seemed content to stay just out of sight, whispering at him all the while.

  And worse, the things it whispered, while sounding innocent enough, had some kind of… power… to them. With these newest words, the screaming he’d been doing, in the desperate hope that someone… anyone… would hear him, had stopped in his throat, and he could no more scream than he could fly. Even trying made it harder to breathe, which running as he was, was not an option.

On the tree top…

  The rustling of the leaves above him caused his stomach to drop. It was no longer behind him. Stopping where he was he looked about desperately trying to find it. If he was prepared when it tried to drop on him he could… what? Die prepared? He had no weapons, not that he would know what to do with one. He had nothing to fight it off with. He had been playing in the forest behind his home against his mother’s rules… rules he wished now that he had followed.

  There were things in the forest the adults had all said. Men would go out at night and never return. Some said the injuns had taken them… but the stories of nightmare creatures filtered down anyway. He thought they were just stories… stories to frighten children into listening to their parents, but this didn’t feel like the kind of story he wanted a part of…

When the wind blows…

  No longer was it just a rustling above him. The trees seemed to sway with those last words, as if a forest itself had begun to dance in tune with this thing’s desire. He had no doubt what the thing wanted, him. He’d wandered into the woods at night, and now he was through. He’d never again see his mother’s stern but loving smile, his little sister’s annoying, but somehow endearing gurgling, or his father’s disappointed frown.

  They’d only moved to the new lands the year before. He’d been excited by the opportunity to see a new world. Something completely different than the boring life he’d lived up until that point. He was sick of his schooling, and the thought of living in a new world full of adventure had excited him to beyond bearing. When they’d landed, he wanted to do it all, explore, fight injuns, find gold, but life on this side of the water turned out to be far less exciting than he’d hoped.

The cradle will rock…

  The ground felt as if it moved beneath his feet, throwing his balance and sending him tumbling through the underbrush. The sharp thorns of whatever it was he had been standing next to tore into him, and his face was smashed unceremoniously into a nearby tree. Grabbing the wood as one would hold log floating down the stream in a flood, he felt as if it were somehow sturdier than the ground he was failing to stand on.

  No longer able to keep his balance on the forest floor he tried his luck pulling himself up into the lower branches of the tree… which somehow seemed unaffected by the rocking and roiling of the earth below. The swaying of the trees seemed to have moved to the ground below somehow, so he made his way further up into the branches above, his thoughts of making it out alive now almost gone entirely, his thirst for adventure no longer seeming so inspired.

When the bough breaks…

  Between one branch and the next, the entire tree let out a sound as if something inside it, something important to keeping the whole thing together, had just been torn out of it by force. With a shudder the tree began falling apart, almost in slow motion, that breaking sound echoed in all the trees surrounding him as the entire forest now sounded as if it were tearing itself apart.

  Desperately trying to find a grip on something that wouldn’t just drop him to the ground below, he managed to hold tight to a particularly large branch that was angled across a nearby tree, and as such it was falling far slower than the rest. As the branch itself snapped he dropped the remaining few feet to the forest floor and curled into a ball covering his head as if his arms would do anything to protect him from the trees collapsing all around.

The cradle will fall…

  Silence. The sound of the breaking falling trees, the low rumbling that had accompanied the roiling of the earth, even the wind and other more natural sounds of the forest had quieted. Daring to uncover his head, he looked around at the carnage around him, and was stunned at what he saw. The trees standing tall as if they’d never moved. The ground as flat and undisturbed as if no one had been this way in years, and certainly not as if it had just be rolling like a stream beneath his feet. It all looked perfectly normal…

  Standing, his legs unsteady as they expected the earth at any moment to toss and turn once more, he looked around in disbelief. Looking down at himself, the tearing of his clothing had not vanished, it was as if ‘he’ were the only thing in the forest that had been affected by… whatever it was that had just happened. Shaking in fear, he began to wonder if it was possible that he had…

And down will fall baby…

  A scream, his mother’s scream, pierced the night, and all the blood felt as if it had drained from him with that sound. His little sister. He didn’t know how he knew, but in that moment he knew that something had happened to his little sister. All this time it hadn’t been him in danger, it had been her. All of this was a distraction, or something worse. His sister…

  Running back toward the house, towards the sounds of his mother’s wailing, now punctuated by a sound from his father that was nothing like he'd ever heard from a man he'd seen as invincible. Screaming out at the night, the things power over his voice now lifted, “Take me!" he tried to bargain, helplessness flooding him, "Don’t hurt my sister! She doesn’t deserve this! I disobeyed my mom, not her! She’s just a baby!” Screaming into the night, his voice was swallowed by the darkness, and the only answer he received was its final words…

Cradle and all.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Be Healed

  Okay, so there are Weekly Contests for "Premium Members" at deviantART, and they typically make for interesting prompts. Last week's prompt was simply the word "Heal",  and this is the story that came out of me from that.

* * * * * * * * * *

Looking up at the counter, “The Child” was on a mission. She knew that the town Roose had what she was looking for. She knew that there had to be something here that would make her mother better. Using a chair that looked less like something you would sit on, and more like the kind of worn out furniture you found outside behind someone’s house. That ‘project’ that never got worked on, and whether it rotted as fertilizer, or held the tomatoes, it generally found its way to the garden. Using that to climb up where she could reach the counter, she began digging through the papers, vials, boxes, and more that littered the surface.

“The Child”, it may as well have been her name ever since her father had passed away. She was told that he’d gone on to a better place, that he was folded in the land’s final embrace, but when she asked if she could visit him there, they told her that it wasn’t her time to go. Ever since then it had been “Who will help provide for ‘the child’, you have no other family here”, and “What will you do with ‘the child’” asked of her mother by the neighbors when they didn’t think she was still listening. Opening a small intricately worked metal box, she frowned at the loose paper, and dried leaves inside. She’d seen some of the older folk sit around putting these together and smoking them on the porches. Finding them on the Roose’s counter caused her to wonder at the good effect they must have on people. But this wasn’t what she had come for, so she closed the box and continued her search.

Ever since that day, her mother had become more and more distant, her trips outside the home fewer and fewer, until finally they only ever saw company when it came calling. During that time she had become noticeably weaker, and had lost a considerable amount of weight. At first the Roose had refused to come to see her, insisting that it was normal for a woman who had lost her husband to mourn. But after the season’s had passed a full cycle, and her mother had not been seen for half of it, the Roose came to her. Standing beside the bed and never once opening her satchel, the Roose examined her mother, asking her questions about her diet, and about how she felt. She waited for the moment that the Roose would make her mother better, waiting for the satchel to come open and the Magic Words to be said. But after what seemed like far too short a time, she picked up her satchel and left the room. No herbs, no smoke, no tonics, and No Magic Words.

After the shock of what had just happened, she ran to her mother’s side and promised her, she would make her better. Getting no response from her mother, who had once again nodded off, ‘the child’ set off to find what she would need to help. And here she was, rifling through the many things on the Roose’s counter, not seeing the pouches or tonics that she’d watched the older woman use when people were ill. Frustrated, she looked once more around the room. Barrels that were held together by rusted hoops, and luck, holding tools and whatever was tossed into them in passing sat at the end of the counters she had just finished searching. Cabinets, that may have at one point had doors, lined the walls higher than she would be comfortable pulling the glass containers, holding all manner of things, from. The older wooden floor didn’t look like it’d been swept in years and the closet at the far end of the room with one of the barrels holding its door open was the only place she could safely reach, but hadn’t looked yet.

As she climbed down and made her way to the closet, a sound at the front of the building let her know she was no longer alone. Rushing in and crawling behind a convenient stack of books, she balled herself up as small as she could and hardly dared to breath. She didn’t want to get caught, didn’t want the Roose to stop her from making her mother better. She couldn’t imagine why the woman would want to stop her, but she would take no chances. She could hear the Roose come into her workroom and stop just inside the entrance.

“What in the lands…”

She could hear the woman moving about the room, and heard too, the sound of something being set on the floor rather soundly. The Satchel. Moving slowly, and as silently as she could manage, she attempted to peek around the books. To both see where it had be set, and also, to maybe see what the older woman was looking at now that the sound of movement had subsided.

“I don’t have time to… who would… the child… oh no…”

The Roose rushed from the room, not stopping to take her bag. As soon as the child heard the front door come too, she quickly rushed over to the satchel. It was far too large for her to carry the entire thing, but opening it up, she found the jars and herbs she was looking for. Using her dress to carry what she could, the child went back out the rear of the building and made her way home, careful to keep out of sight.

As she reached her house she waited in the trees until the Roose left, she had suspected the woman would have rushed here, and only then went back inside. Coming up to her mother’s bed, she couldn’t hear the heavy breathing that had been with her for the last few phases of the moon. Perhaps the Roose had done something this time. Sitting on the floor, the child began mixing the ingredients together. She had seen all of these things used to help people who were even worse off than her mother was, and every one of them had recovered to full health. So if she mixed them all for her mother, then there was no way that whatever she had wouldn’t’ be cured. Besides that, she knew the Magic Words.

As she sat stirring the thick concoction with a spoon from the kitchen that hadn’t seen a real cleaning in quite some time, the child considered how to get her mother to drink this… or if she ‘should’ drink it. Sometimes the Roose would apply her remedies to the bodies of the sick… but no, her mother would have to drink it. That way she’d get the full effect. Pulling the stool up to the bed, the child climbed up and shook her mother.

“Momma!” she called, “Momma, I got you a medicine. You can be better now Momma,” shaking her as she did she was frustrated that her mother wasn’t waking. “Momma!” she shouted, “Momma, get up! You have to drink so you can be better!”

The child jumped down from the stool and grabbed the mixture. Climbing back up to where she could see he mother, the child set the concoction at the head of the bed and began shaking her mother more vigorously. “Momma! I got you a cure, and I got the Magic Words! Momma, Wake, Up!”

She didn’t know if the person had to be awake for the words to work, so she decided to try. Standing as straight as she could, the child tried to do it the way she’d watched the Roose do it when she made someone better. Holding the mixture in her two hands, as she wasn’t big enough to hold it with one, the child reached out with it and taking care not to mix up the words she said, “Take this tonight, and you should feel better tomorrow. Drink this, and Be Healed.”

Nothing happened. There was no light, no sound, and no wind. The room was silent enough that one could almost hear the tears as they hit the stool the child was standing on. A firm hand on the child’s shoulder received no response, and some time passed in silence before she heard, “You did what you could child. She is beyond your help now.”

Turning in a rage, the child lashed out with her little fists, and shouted, “You didn’t make her better! You didn’t even try!” chest wrenching sobs beginning to form within her, “Why didn’t you help my Momma!”

Doing nothing to stop the blows, the Roose tried to put a hand on the child’s head in a comforting manner. She had never been the best at comforting children, “Your mother had a malady of the Soul Child. There was nothing my tinctures and tonics could have done.”

Glaring up at the old woman, the child spat, “And why can’t you cure the soul!?”

“The soul is beyond my reach little one. The Wise Men, that is their domain. My cures are cures for the body.”

“Then I will learn to cure the soul!” the child exclaimed, “If I learn to cure the body, and the soul, nobody will ever have to lose their momma!” For she knew, she had seen her father when he had passed, and her mother had the same stillness. She had gone to the final embrace of the land… and she would never hold her again.

“That is a noble desire child,” the Roose said, pulling the child into an embrace, which was enough to loose the torrent of pain that the little one had just barely kept at bay, “and I will do whatever I can to make it so.” And though nobody had wanted to take this child’s care in their hands as the little one’s noble intents were commonly seen as mischief, the Roose knew that her future had changed, and that the child would be her responsibility from here forward.