Flash Fiction – Freeze Dried

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Zippy Flash Fiction

Inspired by: 5 Words #70

Galahad’s eyes flung open as he gasped back to life. He rolled onto his side, choking on the thick oxygen that burned his dormant lungs. Blearily, he looked around the room. Repair Wing 120 was painted in big, red letters above the door.

“Where am I?”

A nurse droid quickly wheeled across the room.

“Just relax now. You’re safe,” it said, nudging him back into bed with silicone tipped fingers. “What is the last thing that you remember?”

Galahad put a hand to his forehead. He rubbed his eyes, the fogginess beginning to lift.

“There was an explosion… I was getting off my shift at the osmium mine on Carpasia.”

“And what year was that?”

“What year?” Galahad said incredulously.

“Yes.”

Galahad stared into the robot’s dead mechanical eyes.

“416.” The droid seemed to be waiting for more information. “A.E…”

“Ah. And what is your species?”

“My spe…! Dasypus Sapiens,” Galahad said, despondent.

“Recorded. Thank you.”

“How… Exactly what happened? Why am I here?”

“Your remains were discovered on an osmium-rich asteroid in the Silactic Belt…”

“Remains?! I was dead?”

“Mummified, actually. Crushed beneath approximately 600 tons of salt.”

Galahad looked down at his scaly arms and tapped two long claws together. His stomach fell out from under him as he felt the rush of time passing him by.

“What… what year is it?”

“1437 T.C.E.”

“How long ago was 416 A.E.?”

“Approximately 53 million years.”

Galahad gulped. His throat felt dry.

“Yeah… that’s what I thought.”

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Series – The Flowerman – Issue 005

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Series

Issue 004

“Tula! Thank goodness. Give me a hand,” Triff said.

Rows of water tanks filled the hydroponics lab. A system of heated pipes fed warm water and nutrients from above, misting a veritable jungle of plants.

Crest loosened his collar, trying to acclimate to the sudden shift from the cold sterile hallway to the humid laboratory. Triff hurried toward a shallow tank, unwrapping the creature. An arm fell limply from the folds of the lab coat. Something dropped from its hand and skittered across the floor.

“I hope it isn’t too late…” Triff said. She gently placed the flower in the water, propping it up against a thick pad of water hyacinth.

Tula examined the giant flower.

“Incredible! He is by far the largest example of Passiflora Incarnata I’ve ever seen!”

“He?”

“It has stamen only,” Tula said, pointing to the flower. “The root structure is unlike anything… wah?!”

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Flash Fiction – Terminal Velocity

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Zippy Flash Fiction

Inspired by: 5 Words #59

Jakuu looked back at the parachutes of black oil billowing from his fly pack. He could already feel the heat building, making his back sweat through two layers of dispersal cloth.

That’s when the coupling blew.

Jakuu put an arm over the back of his head as one of the thrust canisters flailed about wildly. His body fluttered and whipped in the air as the canister fought to free itself. He was losing altitude.

Straining against the stuttering inertia, Jakuu took a long grapple from his waist and fished over his shoulder for the canister.

It caught.

Jakuu pulled the grapple rope through a ring clasp on his belt and wrenched the thrust canister back into place.

Then the other coupling broke.

The rope burned through Jakuu’s gloves as the canister sped away, still attached to the grapple. It hit the end of the rope and jolted Jakuu sideways at the hip where the rope was anchored. Struggling against the rush of air, he reached down and punched the rope release.

Nothing happened.

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The rope went slack. He punched it twice more, still nothing. Jakuu pulled a knife from his belt. The canister hit the end of the rope again. He was jerked in a new direction, whipping his arm backward. As the knife rolled out of his hand, he reflexively clenched his fingers catching the small wrist strap.

Jakuu cut himself free of the errant rocket and began to tumble. The remaining canister on his back, destabilized, was pushing him into an odd spin.

Jakuu killed the power to his fly pack and went into freefall. With arms and legs spread wide, he gradually righted himself. The ground sped upward at a sickening pace.

Slowly, Jakuu pumped a lever on the side of his fly pack. Only one shot. He had to time it just right.

Five seconds to impact.

Jakuu slammed the lever down. The thrust canister whirred, flared, and shot its guts out in one magnificent blast. The G-force nearly knocked him unconscious, but it was enough to give him some forward momentum. Jakuu hit the snow, rolled, bounced, and skidded to a stop.

For a moment, the whole world was still, cold, and quiet.

Jakuu rolled onto his back and sat up in the snow. His hands were shaking as he peeled the scorched rubidium cell free from the shattered fly pack. He turned the scarlet-colored device over in his hand, took a deep breath, and looked up at the sky.

“Woooo!”

Flash Fiction – Breach

Zippy Flash Fiction

“Wall’s comin’ down, Bud. Nothin’ you can do about it,” Rodrigo said.

Bud just kept staring up at the crumbling wall. Distorted sunlight scattered greens, golds, and oranges over the landscape.

“We gotta go, Bud. We gotta get off.”

Bud sucked his teeth and scrubbed his stubble hard with a rough hand. He watched as another impact shook more rubble loose from the wall.

“Bud. Hey, Bud! Listen, man, it’s over. The planet’s turned on us like we’re a disease.”

Bud powered up his armor as more dust and stone tumbled down the wall. The armor began to glow as channels filled with hot, orange oil.

“Rodrigo. Go.”

“What?”

“Go.”

“We’re not leavin’ you here, Bud.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Bud-“

“I said, go! This is my home; my planet! I won’t turn my home over and run! Even if I’m the last person on Spherta, I will take my home back myself! Now, go!”

Rodrigo hesitated, stared at Bud, watched as chunks of the wall came down. He chewed his lip, looked at Bud, and nodded.

“I’ll be back.” Rodrigo said.

He turned and ran to the ship, thrusters powering up. As he entered, it slowly lifted off the ground. He turned, and his eyes met Bud’s. Bud was smiling as the wall crashed down.

Series – The Exo-Explorers – Issue 002

Series

Issue 001

The metal cube melted away into the earth. A few moments later, the outlines of a rectangle exactly 50 meters by 80 meters began to appear on the ground. Gradually, the ground within the rectangle sank as a mound of dirt rose nearby.

Reginole was beside himself, hopping about on one foot then the other.

“Oh, my beautiful little bots, I do love you so! What will it be, what wiiiiill…” Reginole stopped talking to himself and glanced sideways at a fat, purple cactus in the distance.

“…Er hm. This truly is my favorite part! Oh wait! No! the exploring! No… the…” He stopped again and stared at the cactus. The exo-archaeologist laughed to himself nervously.

“Just the light being distorted by heated gases rising from the ground. Nothing more, nothing more, old boy, old sport, old… scales.”

Reginole looked back at the dig site where two feet of earth had already been excavated. A panel of rusty metal had appeared, standing on end.

“Oh! It’s a, it’s a, it’s… a…”

The cactus was standing right next to him.

Series – The Flowerman – Issue 003

Series

Issue 002

Two deep green eyes blinked slowly beneath the canopy of petals. They were glazed and tired. The three root tips that made up its fingers scratched at the ground and pointed toward the reflection pool.

Triff stared into the creature’s eyes.

“It needs water,” Triff said.

“How do you know?” Crest asked.

The Flowerman blinked and flexed its fingers.

“It’s telling us,” Triff said. Crest stared at her for a moment, conflicted.

“Okay… do you think it’s safe to touch him?”

Triff considered the danger for a moment, then dismissed it.

“I don’t know, but we can’t let it die. This discovery is too important.” She took off her lab coat and laid it over the creature, lifting it up without touching it. “We have to get it to Hydroponics. This water is filthy.” She sneered at the reflection pool. “And Crest… Let’s not tell anyone about this just yet.”

Crest sighed, then nodded.

“Okay, but first…” Crest wrapped the lab coat loosely around the creature until only its bloom was showing. “If anyone asks, we’ll say we’re working on a new growth serum..”

Triff nodded.

“Let’s hurry.”

Issue 004

Flash Fiction – The Stumbler

Zippy Flash Fiction

The giant lumbered in a wide circle. Its bolted feet grinding stone into dust. Ralz gazed through crystal binoculars glinting in the sharp sunlight. A gleaming sparkle atop a dusty mesa.

“There he is,” Ralz said, “The Stumbler.” He passed the binoculars to Caz.

“He’s a big one, alright,” Caz said, whistling. “Just what do you plan to do?”

Ralz sniffed hard and sucked his teeth.

“Well… the way I figure it is… the reason he’s always stompin’ around in a circle is because the hydraulics in his left leg are shot out, right?”

“Right,” Caz said, intrigued.

“Well… the way I figure it is… if we can get that left leg straightened out, then he’ll start movin’ straight ahead instead of walkin’ in a circle.”

“Yeah, but how are ya gonna do that?”

“See that pillar of rock over yonder? He comes within fifty feet of it when he circles. If I can get a grapple on that bad leg and tie him up ta that rock, I figure he’ll keep on movin’ against that grapple until he falls. If we’re lucky, the tension on the filament will pull his leg back right.”

“Alright, I’ll buy that. But what next? He’s just gonna get back up and walk off.”

“Sure, but not before we get aboard,” Ralz said slyly.

“Are you nuts? That thing is electrified!”

“Yeah, but when he falls, his shields go down for 45 seconds. All of the electricity gets rerouted ta the front of his body ta form a magnetic field that softens his fall. Afterwards, it takes about 45 seconds for his generators ta power back up ta full. All of his electronics will be down, including the locks. We can walk right in.”

Walk right in in 45 seconds or get electrocuted,” Caz snorted.

“I’d make it 40 just ta be safe,” Ralz said. Caz stared into Ralz’s eyes trying to determine whether he was crazy or just stupid.

“Okay, say we don’t get shot out the sky attaching the grapple. Say the filament holds and he falls. Say his leg twists straight. Say we get onboard without gettin’ crispy. What then?”

“Well, that’s where this comes in handy,” Ralz said, pulling out a large, aged roll of paper. It crackled as he unrolled it.

“Schematics! Where in the world did you get a hold of this?”

Ralz sucked his teeth and smiled.

“I’d tell ya, but then I’d have ta kill ya, and I need ya ta help me get inside that big beautiful walkin’ rust pile,“ Ralz said. He ran his finger along the yellowing paper. “Right here on his back is the hatch. Shouldn’t be too much trouble gettin’ inside. I got a pound and a half of rubber explosive ta bust the rust. Once we get in, it’s a long drop down a dark hallway. This thang wasn’t meant ta be boarded lyin’ down. We’ll have ta close the hatch, and attach ourselves ta the floor usin’ these electromagnets until he stands up again. After that, it’s a straight shot ta the core. An access ladder runs straight up ta the control room from there. Only problem is the control room rotates on the main gear shaft. We’ll only have 30 seconds to get inside every 5 minutes, and if we mess up the entry code, the access hall locks down and spins onto a gear tooth.”

“In other words, if we put in the wrong code, we’ll be axel grease,” Caz said.

“Uh-yep. Ready?”

Series – The Exo-Explorers – Issue 001

Series

“Sweet stratigraphy!” Reginole Tokage exclaimed.

The two-foot-tall dinosaur-like creature studied the screen of a small device in his right hand as he waved it back and forth over the ground. Dark shapes panned across the screen accompanied by a multitude of readouts. Physical dimensions, material compositions, computations, and simulations poured into Reginole’s photographic memory. He didn’t need a memory bank. He was a memory bank.

Reginole stood still and waited for the device to finish compiling the data. It dinged loudly as if to say “popcorn’s ready”. He spoke out loud as he tapped in commands.

“Area: 4,000 square meters… 50 meters by 80 meters… depth: 20 meters. Add some stairs…”

Reginole reached into one of his many vest pockets, retrieved a small metallic cube and tossed it on the ground. His long whip of a tail stood out stiffly behind him as he scurried away across the sunbaked earth.

After reaching a safe distance, the lizard punched in a few final commands and tapped the side of his goggles. The round, hyper crystal lenses zoomed in on the cube.

“Execute!” Reginole shouted, stuffing the device into a vest pocket.

Issue 002

Flash Fiction – Rotten Iron Wrought in Green

Zippy Flash Fiction

Inspired by 5 Words #47

Chunk ka-chunk ka-chunk…ssssss

The heavy, rust-pocked bulk came to a halt and depressurized with a hiss of steam. Spyglass eyes flashed brightly and dimmed as the machine revved down to a rumbling idle. Its head swiveled slowly one way, then the other.

Painted along the wall was the word “CAUTION” in bright yellow letters half-covered in grime. Beyond that, was open air and a thirty-foot drop onto a jagged, broken foundation. The entire corner of the derelict factory had sheered away at some point.

Near the edge, among the rusted out teeth of a shattered floor, an air plant held fast. Its bush of green tendrils swayed in the breeze like a patch of unruly hair.

Sheenk sheenk sheenk… sssss

A round hatch on the belly of the machine turned jerkily and swung open with a screech. A slender figure stepped out, wiping sweat from her brow. She took in a deep breath. The air was better here; it was healing. Removing a thick glove, she knelt and scooped up the lonely plant and peered out across the horizon.

A new day was rising, and the world felt like… hope.

Short Story – Deuces Wild

I challenged myself with this short piece. I wanted to create a story that was not just driven by dialogue, but that consisted of as much organic dialogue as possible with as little exposition as possible. This is what I got!

“Insert the ruby please, Doctor,” Dr. Absalom Crenshaw said.

“One moment… Ruby is in place,” Dr. Alan Riggs said.

“Connect the power source please, Petey,” Crenshaw said.

“Power source connected,” Peter said.

“Energize…,” Crenshaw said, throwing the switch.

“Readings, nominal. Beam is stable,” Riggs said.

“That’s it… there! Cut the power!” Crenshaw shouted excitedly.

“Ruby is intact!” Riggs said.

“You did it, Doctors!” Peter said.

“Yes… yes, I did,” Crenshaw said, under his breath.

***

“Missouri Jackson! To what do I owe the pleasure?” Crenshaw said. He leaned back in his chair and kicked his feet up on his desk.

“Oh, I think you know, Dr. Crenshaw. I’d like a progress report.”

“It’s… coming along.”

“You’re going to have to do better, Doctor,” Jackson said, reaching into his coat.

Crenshaw lifted his legs and fell forward as Jackson slowly pulled his hand from his coat. Jackson wiped his brow with a handkerchief and adjusted the patch over his left eye.

“You’re awfully jumpy, Dr. Crenshaw,” Jackson said, placing the kerchief back into his coat pocket.

“As I was saying…” Crenshaw started, uneasy. “It’s coming along. I’ve had some difficulty finding a stable medium. Rubies aren’t dense enough.”

“I don’t need excuses, Crenshaw; I need results. Maybe your colleague will be more…”

“No! No… This is my invention. I created it! I’ll get you your results, Mr. Jackson.”

“Gooood.”

The one-eyed man turned and walked out. Crenshaw sat staring through the empty doorway at the dark lab outside.

***

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“He just quit?” Riggs asked, bewildered.

“Yep. He called late last night shouting something about not being valued and said he was taking a position overseas,” Crenshaw said.

“I can’t believe Pete would just quit like that… He didn’t say anything else?”

Crenshaw shrugged and gave a half shake of his head.

“Well… I’ll give him a call. Guess we better put in for a new assistant,” Riggs said.

“I’ll put the word out,” Crenshaw said.

“Huh, guess you just never know what people are thinking.”

***

“Y-you’re seeing Alice?” Crenshaw stuttered.

“Isn’t it wonderful!” Riggs said. “I finally worked up the nerve to ask her out, and she said, ‘yes’! Can you believe it?”

Crenshaw nodded shakily. His face was pale, eyes sunken.

“Say, Doc, you don’t look so well. In fact, you’re absolutely jaundiced. I was just about to go for a walk. Why don’t you join me? The sun will do you good.”

“Uhh… n-no, I’ve got some paperwork to finish,” Crenshaw said, clearing his throat.

“You sure?” Riggs asked. “Alright, well, don’t work too hard. You’ll start to slip.”

Crenshaw took a deep breath and put on a fake smile.

“I’m fine, really. I’ll catch up with you later. Close the door on your way out, would you?”

Riggs looked at Crenshaw, nodded once, and left.

As the door closed, Crenshaw’s smile turned into a grimace. He picked up the phone and dialed.

“Hello, Mr. Jackson. It’s Crenshaw… Yes, I’ve had quite the breakthrough. Perhaps you’d like to join me for a demonstration… That would be perfect… Yes. See you then.”

***

“Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention, please,” the master of ceremonies called out over the drone of conversation. “If you would take your seats, the demonstration of Doctors Riggs and Crenshaw’s marvelous machine will commence shortly.”

Crenshaw’s eye twitched.

The machine rolled out, an array of wires, pipes, and cathodes. Crenshaw adjusted a dial, flipped a switch, and turned a crank. The machine changed direction, aiming its metallic needle at a table in the front row where one man sat alone. Crenshaw pressed a button, and the machine roared to life. A large deep red ruby glowed at the center of the mechanism.

Suddenly, a brilliant beam of red light shot from the needle, striking the table. The table and everything on it started to glow red hot and then… POP! The machine shut off and a cloud of playing cards rained down where the table had been.

The man sat stunned as the cards fluttered to the ground. He reached down, picking one up. The 3-of-Diamonds, and there was a picture of a plate on it. Another, 5-of-Spades with a silver fork. A table, 9-of-Clubs. Riggs stepped down and picked up one of the cards.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest revolution in storage and transport technology!” Riggs announced. He tossed the card back on the pile. “Sir, if you will replace the cards.”

The man dropped the cards on the floor. Crenshaw started the machine once again and…POP! The table and all its dressings stood before the man once more. The audience erupted in applause.

Crenshaw smiled as Alice climbed on stage. His eye twitched as she passed him by, throwing her arms around Riggs.

“It’s stupendous!” Alice said. “It’s the most magnificent thing I’ve ever seen!”

“I have one more surprise, my darling,” Riggs said. He pulled an ornate brooch from his coat pocket. “Would you do me the honor of being Missus Alan Riggs?” Alice gasped with her hands to her mouth.

“Yes, yes! Of course I will! Yes!” Alice said excitedly. She turned. “Oh Absalom, isn’t it…”

Crenshaw was gone.

***

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“One moment, honey. I just have to get my wallet from my room and we can head out,” Riggs said, leaving Alice in the hotel hallway.

Riggs passed by the light switch and grabbed his wallet from the desktop when something glimmered in the dark mirror. Riggs turned quickly to find Crenshaw sitting in the shadows.

“Crenshaw! What are you…”

“Quiet! I’ve heard quite enough out of you,” Crenshaw shrieked. “You take credit for my hard work. My invention! Then you take my Alice! What next, Riggs?!”

“Crenshaw… I don’t know what to say. I had no idea…”

“Oh, please! Well… It will all be over for you soon enough,” Crenshaw said, stepping into the moonlight. A metallic blaster shown in his hand. The needle barrel held a single cathode containing a fine sapphire.

“I worked out that little problem, you know. About how to stabilize the Sapphire Wave. You know what that means, don’t you?” Crenshaw said. Riggs swallowed hard.

“You can compress… biological material. Living…”

“Living organisms!”

Crenshaw pulled two cards from his pocket. The 10-of-Diamonds, Peter O’Connor. The Jack-of-Spades, Missouri Jackson.

“Egads! Change them back, man!” Riggs said.

“Sorry, I couldn’t if I wanted to. I do miss Petey though. He was a good assistant. Too bad he had to take that job overseas,” Crenshaw said. “There is one other drawback. You see, to stabilize the Sapphire Wave, the subject must have a sapphire in its immediate vicinity.”

Riggs looked down at his class ring. He hadn’t been able to remove it in years. He tugged at it fruitlessly, cursing September.

“You can’t do this, Crenshaw! You just can’t! Where’s your humanity?!”

“Humanity?! You stole it! Every time I had to stand by while you got all the credit for my work! And then… then you take away my…!” The door creaked.

“Alan? I thought I heard shouting. Is everything… Absalom!” Alice gasped and ran over to Riggs, grabbing hold of him.

“No, Alice, stay back!” Riggs said, but she refused.

“Absalom, please, put that thing away!” Alice pleaded.

“A-Alice…” Crenshaw faltered. “No. You’ll see. You’ll understand once he’s gone. Then we… we can…”

Crenshaw held the blaster at arm’s length and fired a blue beam at Riggs. The two figures began to glow brightly, then…POP! A class ring, a brooch, and two playing cards dropped to the floor. The King-of-Spades and the Queen-of-Hearts.

Crenshaw fell to his knees, stunned. He lifted the brooch, hands shaking. A painted gold peacock with tiny sapphires set in the eyes of the feathers.

Crenshaw stood, clutching the brooch so tightly that it dug into his hand. He turned the blaster on himself and fired.

The device crashed to the floor, smashing into oblivion. The sapphire brooch fell and clattered among the wreckage. And a single card drifted down, sticking upright in a copper spring.

2-of-Clubs.