Tag Archives: flash

Forgotten Bargain

Yay another Chuck Wendig challenge.  This time we had to pick one of last weeks opening lines and spin a tale.  I went with “It doesn’t mean death,” I told her. by Murgatroid98.  Enjoy. 

Forgotten Bargain

“It doesn’t mean death,” I told her.  The tarot card of death grinned up at the woman.

A smile on her dark lips, she brushed a strand of many colored hair from her face.  “I am aware.”

“Do you want me to continue with the reading?” I didn’t particularly like my side job.  But, it helped with the bills.

The woman lifted her eyes, they were a strange dark violet hue.  “No need, I came here to see you.”  The more she talked the more I noticed the compelling nature of her voice.  It reminded me of dark chocolate and really old red wine.

“See me?” I had three jobs, and was no one.  Average is about the only description that would apply to me.

She pulled out a several hundred dollar bills.  Each one smoothed out and placed on the table.  All and all there were six.  “Take two, the rest is so I may borrow you for the rest of your shift.  Your bosses won’t care where the money came from, only that it is here.”  Before  I could answer she opened the curtain in the dark reading room and left.

At first all I could do was gape at the money. Then, I grabbed two of the bills, walked out the curtain, opened the door to outside, and stepped out.  As I went I put up the closed sign.  The fortune telling hut painted with esoteric symbols seemed at odds next to the flashy tourist shops.

“I knew you’d follow.”  The voice seemed to reach down and wrap around me.

I turned.  The shock hit me as I realized she was more bizarre than I realized.  Skin deep, dark black that looked glossy under the afternoon sun.  Her hair was a mass of red, purple, brown, and black – thick and flowing.  Her outfit being only jeans and a plain black shirt made the differences stand out more.  “How’d you know that?”

Her head tipped right, and then left.  “You have no passion for this.  It is an old art.  Some who walk can tell you the truth.”  The delicate finger’s waved at me.  “You are fake, a liar.  You are here for the money.”

“More or less, ” I walked toward her.  “I gotta live.”

She nodded as if I spouted off wisdom for the ages.  “I need a favor.  Come with me.  We will talk in that coffee shop over there.”

This whole thing confused me.  Why was I worth six hundred dollars?  And, if I was a fake, why did she need a favor?  “Why me?”

“I’ll buy the coffee.  Have I not brought the time to explain my needs, Max.”  She had definitely paid for my time.  Even though I was creeped out she knew my name, I’d go.

We entered the shop.  She pointed upward toward the upstairs.  “Go, I’ll bring you a lemon ginger green tea that you like.”

I started up the stairs.  Then, the full meaning her words hit me.  “How do you know?”  Who was this woman?

She shook her head.  “Go upstairs, Max.”

The room was filled with cushy chairs and a few couches.  I took one as far from the stairs as possible.   Before I could work myself into frenzy she came up the stairs. From here I could see how evenly, and gracefully she moved.  The teapot sat down carefully on the side table.   The teacup meticulous positioned before she sat down across from me.  She drank from a coffee up.  “The favor I need you to do is to come with me.  Leave your life behind.  I need to train you.”

“I don’t even know who you are.”  The insanity of this caused me to start to stand up.

Her hand went out and pushed down.  My body leaned back down.  “I apologize, but you cannot not refuse my favor.”

“Why the hell not?” I snapped back.  My heart fought to burst out of my chest.  A dull ache started in the back my head.  She was keeping me here somehow.

A delicate sip of her coffee before setting it down.  “I’m afraid to say you are one of mine.  My touch is written on every fiber of your being.  You’ll never be free of me.  We made a deal you and I.”

“I don’t even know you.”  This time I screamed it.

“You do.  The name is written on the darkest part of your heart.”  She ran her dark fingers across the top of her cup.  “Say a name, any name.  It will come to you.”

“Any name at all?” I scoffed at the very idea.  “And, you are some powerful being who owns me. What are you the devil?”

She laughed a lovely, dark sensuous sound.  “Hardly,” Her eyes twinkled.  “The devil would likely be an afraid of me, if anything.”

The idea caused my hands to clench.  “What?”

“I’ll explain more when you say my name.”  She replied serene, unconcerned.

“Right, I’ll just know your name.”  The idea I would know this unstable woman’s name was unbelievable.  “I need to leave.”

“You cannot.”  She took another sip of coffee.  “Say a name, any name.  You’ll know it.”

My mouth opened to say the first name that came to me.  But a force welled up in me.  It felt as if my heart was being squeezed it hurt, unbearably.  “Nahara Vensari.”  The foreign name flowed off my tongue.  The pain faded.

“I knew, you’d know it.”  Nahara stood up.  Her hand held out for me.  “Now, we go.  Your new life begins.”

“I don’t understand.”  My body moved without my control.  Her warm hand wrapped around mine.

She smiled. “Don’t worry, you will.”

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Cliffhanger Conclusion

Last challenge from Chuck Wendig was to write a story that ended on a cliffhanger.  So, inenvitably this week we needed to pick one of stories from our fellow challengers to finish.  I went with The Highway by Jreinmiller.  

My Finish to The Highway

The rail groaned as the car smashed through it. The whine of metal into metal reverbed through the car.

 

“We’re going to die!” The gun forgotten in the father’s hands.

 

Sam heart banged around in his throat. The car tipped forward over the edge. His stomach turned, the car swayed once. Another groan and it lurched forward.

 

Both men let out yelps. The gun clattered to the ground. For a moment Sam felt a sense of relief. Then, the car tipped, tumbling down. Everything seemed to slow down as the ground got closer. Each second felt as if it lasted forever.

 

His eyes closed as he remembered everything that lead up to now. It was going to a normal day, Sam thought, he’d thought he go home, drink a beer, and watch the game. And, now it was over.

 

“Sam.” A voice echoed all around him. All sense of motion was gone. The sounds of screams, and torn metal gone.

 

His eyes fluttered open to a white room, with a robed figure standing in front of him. “What’s going on?”

 

“That’s a good question.” The figure’s voice was toneless.

 

“I don’t understand.” Sam twirled around. The terrified thrill of earlier changed into something darker.

 

The figure gave a slow nod. “You know your limits, this is good.”

 

Sam’s throat worked up, but he couldn’t swallow. “I’m dead.”

 

The figure shook its head. “No, you are wrong. You are alive. None of this matters.”

 

At a loss Sam stared. After a shrug he ran his hand over his face. “How am I not dead? The crash, the car falling. This doesn’t make sense.”

 

“You ask many good questions. None of them revealing. Only one question matters. Life or Death?” The figure’s hands rose palm up.

 

“For who?” The rapid beat of his blood slowed, Sam shuddered.

 

“That question doesn’t matter now. Do you want to choose life?” A white light appeared in the figure’s left hand. “Or, do you prefer death?” A black light appeared in the right hand.

 

“I want to live. I wouldn’t mind if that bastard died. He was going to kill me.” A lance of guilt hit Sam. What if the guy really did have a sick daughter?

 

The figure shook its head. “You can’t have both. Life. Death. You may only have one.”

 

Sam paced back and forth. The thoughts in his head scattered. How could he make a choice, when he didn’t even know what it meant. But, Sam knew he didn’t want to die. “Life, I pick life.”

 

The dark light shrivelled up, and the white one expanded all around Sam. A flash and the once again the car dived at the canyon floor. “Oh god, oh god.”

 

Pain spiked his body as the car smashed in around him. A warm liquid pooled around his legs, and sides, his left arm went numb. The gunman’s body smashed against the ground, his body still. “Are you alive?” No response as agony made it hard for Sam to think.

 

A voice whispered in his ear. “The girl lives.” The sound of sirens was the last thing Sam heard.

 

 

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What is a ‘Soul Merchant’?

Operative 3031 (Baccarin Toltos)
Operation DENIAL
Summary of long term surveillance.

Grand Lady Relbin,

As you requested I have been investigating the sudden appearance of ‘Soul Merchants’ cropping up on Amon. Most of the galaxy seems to know of their existence, but they are quite secretive. I was able to answer most of your concerns.

Soul Merchants appearance is due to our gaining affluence, power, and money within the Galaxy at large. However, they have been on our world the whole time, but only announce themselves formally once a planet or society is ‘sophisticated’ enough, in their opinion.

I was unable to confirm if in fact they can control and alter ‘souls’. They do grant increased abilities, behaviors, and other personality shifts. And, it typically only in exchange for taking another piece of person’s ‘soul’. I can’t confirm if it is a trick, a technology, or the truth.

You were also correct in recognizing their pattern of ‘contracts’ does not focus on any social, economic, or military status. Frankly, it confuses me. They might work with a deranged mad man, as much as a rich socialite.

I also was able to confirm the existence of ‘Star Children’ for you. I questioned a Soul Merchant for you. I was forced to do it in a illegal fashion, and I apologize for that. It told me, Star Children stop the Powerless, what they refer to everyone, but themselves, from ruining the galaxy.

I transcribed the short interview. The Soul Merchant killed itself before I could get more information.

Operative: Now that you’ve stopped screaming maybe we can a friendly chat.

Soul Merchant: You can only hurt this fleshy bag of waste. You cannot reach me.

O: If you are your own race why do you live in the bodies of every race in the galaxy?

SM: We have no dead flesh to live in. We only have the solace of true living realm.

*Note – Soul Merchant’s consider living as the afterlife, and death as life.

O: What if the Star Children?

SM: (laughter) They are our eyes, hands, and feet. They are made up of the Powerless. They don’t despise your empty lives like the Soul People do. They live and thrive like you. Unlike the Powerless they can only serve. Their souls are ours forever.

*note – Soul Merchants call themselves Soul People

O: You enslaved people’s souls for eternity for what purpose?

SM: Powerless are foolish, and wasteful. They killed our last home. If we aren’t careful you’ll do it again. All of you are so wasteful with your shallow, little lives.

O: Tell me more.

SM: No.

(I torture it for several more minutes)

SM: The body dies, Powerless. You live up to your name.

(Subject, unfortunately, dies)

I assure, High Lady Relbin, its body was in good condition. I believe it self terminated. I can’t confirm this due to local law officials I was unable to examine the body.

At this time of the message being sent I’m returning to Amon. If you wish to debrief me or send me back to the field let me know. My Life for the Queen of Amon.

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