Vote for the best Short Story!

Poll closed Mar 31, 2013.
  1. Lance Millenium - The Change

    2 vote(s)
  2. Red Rain - Plan B

    0 vote(s)
  3. Pauly Pen Feathers - Happy Birthday

    0 vote(s)
  4. Lemex - A Good Plan B

    5 vote(s)
  5. TheRuler - The future of future

    2 vote(s)
  6. Eric242 - Through a stranger's eyes

    0 vote(s)
  7. Drstrong - Expect the Unexpected While you're Expecting

    1 vote(s)
  8. Khaelmin - The Maiden’s Lovers

    2 vote(s)
  9. squishytheduck - Plan B

    0 vote(s)
  10. creativevomit - First short story I've written.

    0 vote(s)
  11. Alexandra_Riera - First Date

    0 vote(s)
  12. AVCortez - A different route

    1 vote(s)
  13. rhduke - Magic Trick

    2 vote(s)
  1. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England

    Voting Short Story Contest (130) Theme: Plan B

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Lemex, Mar 17, 2013.

    Voting Short Story Contest (13) Theme: Pan B

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned(maybe). No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Saturday 31st of March 2013 to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone!
  2. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    Lance Millenium
    The Change [630]

    I was the first to appear on the scene. Dispatch got a call that a man with a gun is sitting on the side of interstate 10. Sure enough there he was with a gun in his left hand and a grin across his face.
    I pull up my patrol car about a quarter mile away from him; I had no siren on. I feared the siren might make him panic and pull a stunt we will all regret. I radio dispatch that I am on the scene. With no clue what is going through the suspect’s mind, I walk towards him.
    I can’t get over his smile. It isn’t a normal smile, there’s something malevolent hanging over it. No human should be able to smile like that given these circumstances; could he be on some drug? I approach him carefully. He glances at me without moving his head then continues his staring contest with the speeding cars on the interstate.
    He is the first to speak, “The freeway is so very lonely. In every car I see a person, a single person in a hurry towards God knows where. They have no company, only the radio and their thoughts.”
    He pauses for a brief moment, “Everyone shuns the outside world. They think their own is perfect, and any outside interference will mess up the world they worked so long to create. Why? Why do they choose to ignore others?”
    He turns to me, “I’ll tell you why. They’re afraid of their own flaws. They want to keep the illusion of a perfect world where nothing can go wrong, where they are in control. But they know others can see their flaws, this is why they shun the outside world.”
    He looks at his gun, “Plan A, since the day we were born, is to go about meeting new people, seeing new places. Curiosity moves us. We are innocent and know nothing about the real world. After a hardship, we quickly learn that the world is cruel and cold. We move to plan B: shut out the very world that shut us out. It’s a never-ending cycle. But what if it is broken?”
    I don’t know what to say. I’ve never encountered someone like him. His right hand quivers for a second then it calms down. He continues speaking, “What if one of those worlds simply disappears? Would anyone care? People are so caught up in their own lives, their own world, that only a change in their world would get them to notice another’s. You came here because somebody saw me, contacted the police, and they sent you. I was the change in your world and everyone in between. People need to learn… not to ignore another’s world.”
    He lifts his gun and fires at an incoming black Camry, hitting the driver. I pull out my own gun, without thinking, and fired at him before he decides to shoot again. His blood splatters all over my uniform and flows across the road. The Camry he shot at swerves and flips over, rolling a good mile before coming to a stop. Other cars try to get out of the way but they cannot prevent the inevitable.
    Ten people died that day with a dozen more injured. I was charged with the use of excessive force and was sentenced to five years in prison. Even after I got out of prison, and everyone went back to their lives, their worlds, mine will never be the same. A simple change ruined my career. And nobody cares; I have long been forgotten while I was in prison. His smile still haunts me in my dreams and memory… and still no one cares. Plan B will be the death of us all…
  3. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    Red Rain
    Plan B (1173)

    It was the smell of stale beer and cigarettes that woke her up this morning. Her head throbbing, she sat up holding it between her hands while she viewed her surroundings. Could she really have gotten that drunk? To her recollection, she only had two beers, but as she surveyed the room, it was obvious she had drunk way more than that.

    Beer cans and plastic cups littered the apartment, several of them turned on their side, whatever was inside had already emptied onto the tables and cupboards below. The apartment was at full occupancy, people were sleeping on the couches and floor, bodies strewn this way and that, one guy was sleeping on a kitchen chair, his head laying on the counter, a string of drool running from the corner of his mouth to a small puddle of spit on the countertop beneath him.

    Sara had no idea where she was or how she got there. She remembered being at the bar with her friends, but couldn’t remember ever leaving the place. A foggy memory of last call came to her head, but after that there was nothing. Turning her head to the right, she sees the young man sleeping beside her, he was no one she had ever met before and she was getting nervous as she noticed more details.

    The pile of clothing sitting next to the bed, her purse hanging half off the night stand, she nervously pulls the blanket away from her body and breathes a huge sigh of relief when she discovers she still has her bra and panties on. Lifting the covers, she slowly slides off the bed and quietly gets dressed. Her head is still pounding as she makes her way through the maze of bodies, checking each one to try and find her friends.

    It took her several minutes to locate them, lying together in one huge pile of flesh, arms and legs sticking out from every angle. She gently rouses each one from their drunken state of slumber. “Gotta go guys, time to wake up” After a few minutes of disoriented and unintelligible whispers, they take their leave and head on home. The ride was painful and quiet; they pulled over several times to let people empty their stomachs. Sara felt bad for everyone, but it was at least a little comforting to know she wasn’t the only one who had drank too much last night.

    When she gets back to her house, she pops two aspirins and heads straight for her room. It took her only seconds to fall asleep and it wasn’t until the next day that she opened her eyes again. She lay in her bed trying to remember the previous night’s events. Finally she gives up; nothing would come to the surface, no matter how much effort she put towards it. She grabs her cell phone and dials Niki’s number.

    “How ya feeling, lady? Still nursing yourself back to health from the other night?” Sara really did want to make sure Niki felt better, but her main purpose of the call was to get some information, and although Niki was her best friend, she hoped that she didn’t have to engage in too much idle chitchat to find out what happened the other night.

    “Aww that was a rough one wasn’t it? I haven’t ever felt as bad as I did yesterday on the ride home. You must be feeling pretty rough yourself; I’ve never seen you do so many shots before.” Just by the tone of her voice, Sara knew Niki was playing her usual game, giving just enough information for you to be curious, making you pull the rest out of her piece by piece. And she wasn’t really in the mood for such things, so she decided to cut to the chase.

    “Yeah, I don’t remember anything that happened that night, nothing after last call at the bar. I was hoping you could fill in some of the blanks for me. All I know right now is last call at the bar, then waking up with a strange man lying beside me. It’s kind of freaking me out a bit, Niki.” She makes sure her voice sounds nervous and scared on the last sentence, hoping it will be enough to make Niki spill the beans without any more coaxing.

    “Well, maybe you should be nervous, I mean I didn’t see everything you did that night. You were hitting the alcohol pretty hard, I even saw you doing tequila shots at the kitchen table.” Niki pauses to let what she said sink in and then continues. “I remember you were with us almost all night, and then I couldn’t find you for awhile. Right before I passed out, I remember seeing you head into the bedroom with that guy, and then you woke me up the next morning. Who knows what you did when you went off by yourself, let alone what happened in the bedroom.” Niki said the last five words very slowly, hoping that Sara would infer her meaning from the added emphasis.

    “Well what do you think I should do? I’ve never been in this situation before, Niki. I’m usually the designated driver for Christ’s sake! I have no idea what happened last night and I don’t really want to know. At this point I just wanna forget everything about it.” Sara was starting to get scared, thoughts of her future playing havoc with her head. What if she was pregnant or had gotten an STD? What if he was married or an axe murderer, or a child molester? Sara had no idea who the man she spent the night with last night was and she was scared of what repercussions would come from the encounter. Hoping Niki would have some answers, she waited anxiously for her to speak.

    “Well, maybe it’s time for you to look into Plan B then. It really seems to be the only logical solution for you right now.”

    “But I don’t have a Plan B, Niki! I’ve never needed one before! Who makes a Plan B when they are going out for the night? Do you, do you always have a Plan B when you go out, Niki? I doubt it; you’d have trouble thinking past your nose, let alone making a second plan in case the first one doesn’t pan out. Really, that’s the best advice you can give me Niki, a Plan B, really?”

    It took several moments for Sara to realize that Niki had hung up, the hard cold sound of the dial tone buzzing in her ear. She lay back in bed, trying to make sense of it all. Tomorrow she would go to the doctor and get a checkup, buy a pregnancy test from the drug store and call Niki back to apologize for her harsh words. After all, even though Niki’s advice seemed somewhat lacking, she was her friend and Sara needed every friend she could get right now.
  4. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    Pauly Pen Feathers
    Happy Birthday [914 words]

    March 8, 2013: 1:20 am

    “Jim, wake up. I just got a text from my sister. They’re on their way to the hospital. Kelly’s on her way.”

    “I knew it would be today” I said, half laughing. “Didn’t I tell ya she’d be early?”

    “Happy birthday, darling.”

    I smiled a silent thank you to my wife, and got up to make a pot of coffee.


    Deciding to go with Plan-B was the most difficult decision the little girl ever had to make. She was frightened and confused, but listened politely to the counselor’s irritating, and incessant cajoling.

    The counselor may be right, she thought, abortion would be easy; no muss, no fuss, and the little girl would be right back in summer school the next day with all her teenage friends, none of them knowing anything about it. It would be her secret shared only with her boyfriend, and maybe a few BFFs.

    I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like to be a fifteen year old girl pregnant and scared, under immense pressure; a little high school kid with dreams of starting college in just a few short years. Later there would be a wedding, and time for kids, but not now.

    At the end of the day it all boils down to only two decisions, each of these enormous, life-impacting choices. She had time, she thought, to make up her mind, but not today. No, the counselor was not going to take her baby today. Maybe never, she thought, as she got up from the chair and walked out of the clinic without saying a word.

    Waiting at the bus stop on that hot July afternoon she thought she felt something stirring inside of her. It may have just been her imagination, or maybe it was something as sacred as life itself that assured her she would never return to this place again.


    In another world, far away, there’s a thirty-five year old bank executive, my niece, as a matter of fact, and her husband, a hard working owner of a small construction company. They have been trying for years to have a baby of their own. I chuckle to myself as I look back over their lives; they’ve adopted dog after dog, making them part of the family, treating them like the little babies they could never have, hoping the dogs would somehow fill the gaping void in their lives but never really coming close.

    These are two kids so young and so bright, each of them from large families who all get along more like best friends than family members and in-laws. Weekend gatherings are spent on the family farm talking, laughing, and playing that dumb game where people stand around tossing a bean-bag into a wooden box with a hole cut into the top while Grandpa Mike tends the Bar-B-Q, and Uncle Jim, who comes to visit from Chicago twice a year, always has a few too many beers, and smokes way too many cigarettes.

    This is a world where the rolling hills of Pennsylvania spring to life on an early morning day with the gentle kiss of dew falling from the sky. It’s the kind of place where you have coffee on the back porch and delight in the symmetry between the stillness of a brand new day, and the neighbors dog barking wildly somewhere on a farm across the meadow.

    In a few days the stillness of another morning will be broken by the sound of cars, pick-up trucks, and motorcycles rumbling up the lazy, winding country road as four generations converge on this place from all over the country to welcome the newest member of our family.

    The little girl whose decision it was to carry, and give life to a child, and then offer it up in a most loving, heroic, and sacrificial way will be here, too. Her parents will be here with her, supporting and loving her as they always have.

    Over the years they’ll gather with us for birthdays and holidays and weekend parties, and for Super Bowls where the Steelers will be expected, rather than favored to win.


    4:40 am

    “I’m ready for another pot of coffee.”

    “Jim, try to relax. You’re going to wear a hole in the carpet, and all that coffee’s not good for you.”

    “I know. But it’s my birthday. It’s the one day out of three hundred and sixty-five that you don’t get to lecture me. Why don’t you call your sister and see if there’s any news.”

    “They’re all at the hospital. She can’t have her phone on in the delivery room.”

    “Geez, that place must be a mad house with all those people up there. Don’t you think that little girl wants some peace?”

    “Somehow I don’t think childbirth is expected to be a peaceful time.”

    “So she’s just going to have the baby and hand it over to the new parents, just like that?”

    “Yes, just like that!”

    “That’s amazing. She is one brave little girl.”


    6:22 am

    Kelly Grace has arrived with all her fingers and toes. She is 7 pounds and 8 ounces of screaming perfection. Just the perfect size for the new sleeper I bought her. It’s Black and Gold; the colors of her favorite football team.

    Gee, I hope after last season the Steelers have a Plan-B that works as well as this one did. You know, for Kelly’s sake.

    Happy Birthday, Kelly.
  5. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    A Good Plan B (2,506 words)

    It had been a very good day, and now night was settling on Cyprus. In Famagusta the nightlife was in full swing, boogieing to The Bee Gees, and rocking to a still rather bluesy Fleetwood Mac. A mixture of drinking, money, adrenaline haze, and drugs made the town a great place to be when a twenty something, and fresh from a BA.

    Three young guys talked and ate in their hotel restaurant, trying to decide what to do for the night. The smell of the dirt still cooling was making an atmosphere for talk about Homer, Sophocles, Greek food, and how surprisingly good Greek beer was. Reptiles slipped into the pool, and from out of a corner came the slippery-wet sax of Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’.

    ‘So, tomorrow lads?’ Simon said finishing off his beer.

    ‘Yeah?’ Richard said.

    ‘What are we going to do?’ Simon said.

    There was a pause. ‘Well,’ said Richard, before turning to the James. ‘What do we think?’

    ‘Could just stay in Famagusta, get drunk tonight?’ James said.

    ‘Or,’ Richard said lighting a cigarette, ‘we could go down to Nicosia. A Plan B.’

    ‘Nic-kou-sia,’ James said.

    ‘Nic-o-sea-a’ Richard said, ‘asshole’. There was a chorus of laughter.

    ‘Ok, why?’ Simon said.

    ‘Apparently it’s kind of nice down there,’ Richard said, ‘No point coming so far out here and ... not seeing the sights, I guess,’ for some reason he lost confidence the longer he talked.

    ‘That or going to some bar in town? Pick up some girls, score some grass? You know,’ James said.

    ‘Jim, why don’t you go boogie on down there tonight and see how your luck fares out?’ Simon said, sneering.

    ‘Hey!’ James said.

    ‘Alright, alright,’ Simon said, laughing. ‘Mind I’m not sure what I feel about going around the countryside when those peace talks are still going on. Call me crazy.’

    ‘Weird thinking that this is the same country Lord Gordon once fought for’ Richard said.

    ‘Oh man, you could almost imagine it,’ said James, agreeing, ‘Back you sons of Pram! Go join thy brother Aeneus on that boat to that, Nicean shore!'

    Richard laughed.

    ‘Nicaea is in Turkey, by the way. Keep saying that and you’ll be counted as some kind of insurgent, I bet,’ Simon said. Dave Burbeck’s version of ‘Take Five’ changed to ‘Money’ by Pink Floyd.

    ‘Ba-bada-baw. Baw-bawbaw-BAWBAW!’ Simon said along with the baseline.

    ‘Maybe you could take your guitar tomorrow, play it instead of paying for lunch? Greeks sure love their music,’ James said, ‘You could play Money!’ he added, finishing his beer. Richard laughed.

    ‘Heh, will I take that as an early night tonight then?’ Simon said, playing with his empty glass, ‘Even with all this going on?’

    ‘Yeah, well, it seems to be the plan anyway. Sides, a hangover can wait I guess.’ James said.

    Simon gave Richard a look. ‘Peace talks, remember. And the Turkish invasion is far too north to affect us anyway.’ Richard said.

    ‘Yeah, well, that’s fine then, it’s Plan B and Nicosia then,’ Simon said, bending foreword and placing his hands together, elbows resting on the table. He looked like a disco version of Marlon Brando in The Godfather, discussing ‘business’. ‘I’ve never understood the idea of going to another country and just experiencing the night life anyway.’

    ‘Oh I know.’ James said, agreeing.

    ‘Mind, I think I can, if Famagusta is this much fun,’ Richard said.

    ‘Oh, right, so that’s what you call passionately embracing the toilet at two in the morning, ‘fun’?’ James said.

    ‘Oh, you bastard,’ Richard said stubbing his cigarette out. The three laughed and stood up from the table to pay the bill.


    The next morning Richard was the first to wake. The first thing he did was go to switch the kettle on for a cup of coffee. He cut two halves of bread lumberjack style. Scratching himself and yarning as the water boiled he woke Simon, who had been sleeping on the couch. Simon announced his awaking with a ‘fuck’ and a yarn. ‘You making coffee?’ Simon said.

    ‘Yeah,’ Richard said. There was a pause as Simon collected himself.

    ‘Why do you do that?’ Simon said, still sleepy, ‘Why do you have honey and bread?’

    ‘It’s nice. I think I got it from Virgil.’


    ‘One spoonful or two?’

    ‘Two, I need a strong one today.’

    ‘No tea?’ Richard said smiling.

    ‘Fuck off,’ Simon said standing up from the sofa, ‘You know I can’t drink that stuff.’ Richard laughed as he mixed milk and coffee together in two cups.

    ‘Did you hear the next flat along last night?’ Simon said.

    ‘Eh?’ Richard said.

    ‘They bonked man, it was beautiful.’

    ‘Heh-heh,’ Richard said.

    ‘I seen, yesterday, as I was shopping, a Car Hire place just down the road. Not at bad prices either.’

    ‘Oh yeah? Like what?’

    ‘A good looking Audi for ... I don’t know, not very much.’

    ‘Ah, excellent,’ Richard said mixing hot water into the two cups. James staggered in to the room.

    ‘Oh man, I feel hungover,’ James said.

    ‘You hear that couple next door?’ Simon said.

    ‘Yeah ... I did,’ James smiled weakly, ‘It was awesome’.

    ‘Haha! Yeah it was,’ Simon said.

    ‘Ow man!’ Richard said protesting, ‘we have to sit there dude! Come on.’

    ‘Don’t worry man, I didn’t wack off. Much.’

    ‘Oh Jesus.’ Richard said laughing.

    Simon started singing, doing an Elvis impression, ‘We can’t go on together, with suspicious mi-i-inds!’

    ‘Wuh-uh-uhhe-uhe!’ James chimed.

    ‘Oh, fermez la fucking bouche,’ Richard said, there was laughter. ‘Who’s going to rent the car then.’

    ‘I think you should my man,’ Simon said, tapping Richard on the shoulder. ‘And we’ll give you back our shares when we see what you’ve bought.’

    ‘Sure. Just any car or you have your heart set on that Audi?’

    ‘The Audi. Man, I don’t think I could live without it. Don’t let me down, alright?’ Simon said.

    Richard laughed. ‘Fine,’ he said, handing a cup of coffee to Simon, ‘you want one, James?’

    ‘Yeah, Go on then,’ James said.


    After a cup of coffee and his honey sandwich, Richard walked down the street to the Car Hire Simon had mentioned. He found a new Audi 50 in bright yellow, and for a rather good price. He guessed this was the car Richard had in mind. ‘Groovy,’ he said to himself looking through a side window into the car, ‘now to learn, very quickly of course, how to drive on the other side of the road.’

    This was something he found easier than thought, and though the clutch was a bit too sensitive it was in fact a good car. Thankfully few people were on the road that morning (it was still early) so he had enough space to get a feel for the clutch. He also felt kind of cool driving around town by himself, eyeing up girls in his new, bright yellow Audi 50.

    After an hour of driving around he parked outside the hotel and honked the car horn. He lit a cigarette. The car had a cassette tape player, so he put his Jefferson Airplane tape on. ‘Classy Germans,’ he said to himself.

    When James and Simon appeared from the hotel and climbed in to the car Richard set off, tossing his cigarette out the window. The day was clear and warm, and very beautiful. It was mid august, and locals had been telling them over the past few days that this was one of the last ‘good’ weeks they were going to have in Famagusta, the end of the tourist season was fast approaching.

    They had come at this late time of the year, largely, because it was much cheaper than it would have been if they had booked their holiday earlier. They had just finished their BAs and were taking a well deserved holiday together. Though they all had set aside a respectable amount, spending money was something they were all being careful with. To a degree.

    They soon left town and began to move along roadways. As they drove through the countryside (on roads little more than dirt tracks at times) the Turkish invasion the month before, the peace talks, the politics – it all seemed to disappear – to not matter. At times they almost felt they could escape into some other place and time period: a place where they might actually see a Titan, or could journey to the underworld and meet King Oedipus, arguing with Creon. Cyprus was beautiful, and Nicosia (especially) could have been an encapsulation of that Mediterranean where the old gods still live.

    They explored a good part of the region, and had lunch in the taverna of a village whose name they could not seem to memorise, and not for want of trying. When the time felt right they changed direction, toward Famagusta. A few miles from town James, who was sitting in the back seats, leaned forward. ‘Hey’ he said, ‘who did you say had came here to fight?’ James asked.

    ‘What?’ Richard said.

    ‘Last night?’

    ‘Lord Byron? Came here to fight the Turks for Greek independence?’

    ‘Wasn’t that on the Greek mainland?’ Simon said.

    ‘Yeah, but, it’s here, Greece.’

    ‘Yeah, but ...’ Simon said. His sentence trailed away. He did not care about his objection enough to voice it.

    ‘Oh what the fuck is this?’ Richard said, slowing and then stopping behind a van. There was a road block ahead of them. A Greek solider ran foreward, a rifle slung over his soldier and an arm raised out. He was shouting something in Greek.

    ‘What is this?’ Simon shouted to him, more to make the point that they were English than anything else.

    ‘Hello?’ The soldier said, stopping at Richard’s window. His voice had the tone of someone who was not comfortable speaking a foreign language.

    ‘Yes, hello, what is with the roadblock?’ Richard said.

    ‘The road is closed. The road is closed. Eh. Turkish troops ahead.’ He made a gesture with his hand.

    ‘You what?’ Simon said.

    ‘Let’s get out,’ Richard said. They did. The road block was small. Three or four soldiers stood protecting an ersatz barricade, made by a tank that had been parked straight across the road.

    ‘What’s going on?’ Richard said.

    ‘Famagusta - is being attacked,’ the solider said.


    ‘The attack started an hour ago,’ he said. Another car stopped behind Richard and the solider looked back. He shouted something in Greek and ran to it.
    A crowd of people were standing on a nearby hill, some were holding binoculars and looking in the direction of the town. Richard ran up that hill, and the others followed him. Simon said something but no one heard what he said.

    Famagusta came into sight. ‘Oh Jesus Christ!’ Simon said. The city was just a grey smear in the distance. Two streams of black smoke were coming out of it. It looked like the description of Coketown in Hard Times, but it would be some time before Richard even thought of that. They stood looking at town in the distance for some time, not saying anything. A Cypriot grabbed Richard’s shoulder and motioned a pair of binoculars into his hands. Richard took it.

    ‘What’s going on,’ Simon said, ‘what can you see?’

    ‘Planes, I think I can see a tank,’ Richard said.

    ‘See any people?’

    ‘No ... no, I can’t see much. Here,’ Richard said, handing Simon the binoculars. James had placed his hand over his eyes and was trying hard to see what was going on as well. ‘I think, is that a fighter?’ James said, pointing into the air. Simon followed his finger line and then spotted it with the binoculars.

    ‘Yeah, yeah I see it. It’s ... some sort of jet.’

    Some people climbed down the hill. They were trying to get closer to the city but they were shouted back by the soldiers. Apparently there was an invisible line that the soldiers were not happy about people crossing. One of the soldiers explained to the crowd that they were already very close to a spotting hill being used by Greek snipers, and that it would be not a good idea to get any closer.

    ‘What do we do now?’ Simon said.

    ‘... I don’t know,’ Richard said. James finally got the binoculars but, weirdly, he was quickly bored of them. He was not sure he wanted to see anything anyway. The distant city sound tracked with banging and, just audible, the pik-pik-piks of machine gun fire was depressing. James handed them to Richard. Richard didn’t say anything.

    Simon said, ‘here, give it back.’

    ‘Yeah,’ Richard said passing them. Simon gave the binoculars back to their original owner. ‘Come on. Let’s go. We can go south, to the British army base. Alright?’ Richard said.

    ‘Alright,’ Simon said, ‘makes sense.’ He looked at Richard, unsure what to say.

    They returned to the Audi, and turned it around. They planned the drive toward the British army base in Akrotiri. There was also a British base in Dhekelia that was much closer, but was too close to Famagusta for comfort, for everyone. As Richard fired up the car they felt like they were on the run, and weirdly, like how they imagined being homeless would feel. This was something they all felt, and they all knew each other felt it. There was a heavy air in the car as the late day darkened.

    Richard stopped the car once to get some fresh air as the sun was beginning to go down. The sun shone a bright orange light on everything. He pulled his cigarette packet out of his pocket and had a smoke, looking into the distance. James stayed in the car, Simon got out and approached him. ‘Yo, can I have one?’ Simon said, motioning to the cigarette pack that Richard was, for no reason he could think of, still holding in one hand.

    ‘Sure,’ Richard said.

    Simon took a cigarette, inexpertly put it in his mouth and lit it with Richard’s lighter. It took two attempts to light because he was scared of the fire. He breathed the cigarette in and then coughed the first drag out. He steeled himself and sucked the second drag into his lungs. It was not much better. He had never smoked before, and he was not exactly sure why he was trying it now.

    ‘I just can’t believe,’ Simon said.

    ‘Don’t,’ Richard said.

    ‘Look I,’ Simon said. He became very aware that Richard was the one who had picked Famagusta, at this time. Simon was not sure what to say. He was already convinced he should not have said anything, and anything he added would be doomed to a misunderstanding, but he still wanted to try.

    ‘Look Simon, just don’t,’ Richard said. Richard knew what Simon was going to say anyway. Something clicked then, and Simon stopped himself. They looked at each other as they smoked. No one said a word for the rest of the journey.
  6. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    The future of future [637]

    "Oh come on Stan, this is 2135, we have to do this!" -Eric said to his friend in the line for the chipping.
    The law came in a few months ago, everyone had to get this chip installed to them. It would send signals to the police, it could tell their where-abouts any time. Every store would have a new chip reader installed to their doors, so they would know who gets out. If someone stole something, they could find out who did it.
    "Yeah yeah, I know." -Stan answered, but he was feeling quite stressed, as there were big policemen standing everywhere, with their shades on their eyes and guns on their hands. They would do their best to make sure no one gets out.

    Stan looked across the big room, what seemed to be an old military airbase. It had thousands and thousands of people in it. Stan and his friend Eric were on the fifth row from the right, but they couldn't know how many lines there were left of them. The people just kept on going and going. There were only 10 people before Stan, one of them being Eric.

    "Look, do you understand what this will do to us? We can't continue without being noticed." -Stan said.
    Eric sighed, and said: "I know Stan. I think we have to stop, there's no way we can continue anymore."
    Stan quickly looked towards the doors, and stopped for a second. Then he quickly looked to Eric, and whispered to his ear: "I have an idea."
    After telling his idea to Eric, the line had shortened. There was only a single person before Eric.
    3 minutes went by, and Eric was up.
    "May I see your ID?" -The grumpy old lady who smelled like cigarettes said in a very depressing voice.
    "I don't think so." -Eric answered, and took one of the bars that separated each line. They started running. Stan took one of the bars as well.
    The first police to try to tackle them, got a bar to his face. That made the rest of them draw their guns, but not step too close to Eric and Stan.
    "You can't shoot! There's too many people! We'll be leaving now." -Eric said, and the policemen shot him right there.

    "Oh fuck!" -Stan shouted and quickly blended into the crowd. It was time for his Plan B.

    After the shot, everyone panicked and started to run towards the doors. This would be Stan's escape. And if he could get out, he'd be sure never to come back. He'd never bee chipped, just for Eric's sake!

    The people ran towards the doors and Eric followed them, looking everywhere for officers, and if he saw any, he ducked his head so he wouldn't be seen.

    He got out.

    "Phew." -Stan said and wiped the dust off of his shoulders. He started running towards his home, safely passing through all the narrow streets. Twice he almost got caught by the police, but managed to escape them by knowing his hometown's streets.

    When he got home, he opened his TV for the news.

    "A person shot at the chippings! Chippings to be continued tomorrow, says the police"

    ------------------------------------------------------------------2 days later--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A knock on the door. Stan hasn't left his house since Eric was shot.

    "This is the police! We know you're in there! Open the door!"

    Eric was shocked, at how they found him. He got up, and opened the door. There were three policemen, all with their guns pointing directly at his chest.

    "No sudden moves boy, we know you didn't come back yesterday, and that you're the guy who tried to run away with the dead guy last time."

    "But how did you know where I live?"

    "We just checked what house wasn't chipped yet."

    A gunshot.
  7. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    Through a stranger's eyes [588 words]

    Lucile's rasping breath was barely audible over the frantic murmurings of the crowd. A man knelt over her broken form, attempting to stem the flow of blood, not knowing that her internal injuries were too severe for her to survive long. The bus driver who hit her was leaning over them, but his words were too choked with tears to be comprehensible. A young boy huddled shaking in the arms of a woman on the nearby sidewalk. He was bruised, but thanks to Lucile he was alive. And all along the sidewalk stood the strangers. Like moths drawn to a flame, they swarmed around the scene to observe. Bus-goers, passer-bys, and weekend shoppers... And two men who did not belong.

    They were peculiar men who were strikingly similar in appearance. They wore dark suits, stood a half-a-head taller than the tallest man there, were lean to the point of being unhealthy, and rather pale. Despite this, no one paid the men any heed. And while the rest of the crowd watched with concern or curiosity painted plainly on their faces, these two were watching intently, as if waiting for something.

    The rasping stopped and Lucile was still. The waiting was over.

    The panic in the crowd rose. One of the tall men frowned deeply. "You assured me that this one was ours. Our lord will not be pleased."

    The other's face contorted in rage. "I spoke true, brother. I had her writhing in pain and hate. A single word from me would send her to do whatever I asked!"

    "And yet she threw her own life away for the sake of a child. A complete stranger."

    The angry man stalked up to the boy. He towered over them, nostril's flaring. He bent down so his thin-lipped mouth was right next to the boy's ear. "Bastard child!" He yelled. The boy jumped and looked towards the man, frightened. His gaze looked right through him. The woman did not react.

    "What's wrong?" The woman asked, but the boy wouldn't answer. The sound of approaching sirens drew their attention away. An ambulance pulled up followed closely by a police car.

    "Come now, brother," The calm man said as he walked towards the scene. "This may very well work to our advantage in the long run."

    The angry man turned to him. "And how might that be? Nearly two decades I have spent preparing her, and in an instant my work is undone!"

    "Where one was saved, two more are broken."

    "The boy?" The man's anger subsided as he watched the boy. The child was still shaking, trying not to look at the dead woman on the street who was being taken away. The woman that died because he did not look before crossing the street.

    The calm man knelt by the child and stared into his eyes. The boy stared back, transfixed, but not seeing. "Come, see what I see." The angry man knelt beside him and examined the boy's eyes.

    "Pain. Guilt. Fear." With each word the angry man's grin widened until his thin lips stretched across his face.

    The calm man nodded and rose. The child was shaken from his trance and turned his face inwards to the woman's embrace. "And the other..." He lifted one of his long arms and pointed towards the bus driver who was being questioned by a police officer. His voice cracked as he spoke, and his eyes were puffy and red.

    The angry man cackled gleefully. "One saved..."

    "Two lost." The other finished.
  8. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    Expect the Unexpected While you're Expecting [515]

    The two men have been gathering test subjects for the past month, their motive: develop the perfect child. They have collected 50 subjects; 25 men and 25 women, and testing is to be completed by the end of the year. Both men are homosexual, and each with successful careers in biomedicine.

    Isaac has made a breakthrough in his work with extremely early confirmation of pregnancy, along with speeding up the process of a fetus developing in the womb. He has also found a way to extract sperm from a male subject, without any external ejaculate required. Dale has developed a way to manipulate DNA, thus being able to choose the sex, eye and hair color, along with skin pigmentation. With a series of injections, and other intravenous medicine, both before conception, and after, a fully developed child can now be born in the matter of weeks, not months.

    With this, the mother’s body is extremely worn, some of which do not survive past the initial set of injections, while some die after conception. The men used in the studies are immediately killed once conception has been confirmed.

    Same sex child adoption has been outlawed; this is the only alternative, as they both would like to raise a child from birth. Isaac is responsible for choosing the women, while Dale chooses the men, neither of them have any real preference other than every test subject is single. With dale being the stronger of the two, he was deemed fit to collect the men, as they would normally be more prone to physical violence. Isaac is smooth and deceiving, he is easily able to lure women back to the facility.

    “More women are dying than expected.” Isaac told Dale.

    “We should have enough, no?” Dale responded.

    “I believe so; there are only 3 women and 3 men left. I’ll let you choose who should be paired with whom this time.”

    “I’ve always had better taste, anyway, but thanks.”

    After the first woman fails to conceive, her and the male subject are taken and killed, their bodies cremated along with the others. The second woman is receiving the medicine and reacting nicely, there are no complications with the initial set of injections. The sperm is then collected from the male, and is then delivered into the female. In mere hours, it is confirmed that the woman is in fact pregnant.

    The remaining two men, along with the last woman, are then exterminated and cremated.

    Dale confesses to Isaac, “I can’t believe his actually worked!”

    “Of course it was going to work, just took a little longer than expected.” Isaac replied.

    Dale surprises Isaac with the idea of building a new home, which he then confesses he has already began the process. Dales hands Isaac a stack of five different drawings:

    “So which do you like? In each drawing I’ve included a room for the woman while she is carrying.” Dale asks Isaac, with a sense of anticipation.

    He replies, “I think we’ll go with floor plan B.”

    Dale smiles, “Great, that’s my favorite also.”
  9. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    The Maiden’s Lovers (3240 words)


    The Gemma IV star system had been quiet and visited by nothing but comets for thousands of years. That was until the two hundred meter long SHSS Makeshift Maiden materialized on its edge in a cloud of wreckage and debris. Alarms had been blaring all over the bridge for some time now and Octadec Karoline was getting mighty tired of them. Hull breaches, reactor damage and structural failures, her beautiful frigate had them all.

    ‘Well, that’ll do it, ma’am,’ said Alexander, her second in command. ‘We’re not leaving this place any time soon. The Oct Space generator’s completely fried.’

    ‘Can’t the automated nanocolonies repair it?’ demanded Karoline with an exhausted sigh.

    ‘Sure,’ he replied. ‘In a week or so.’

    ‘Which, of course, doesn’t help us at all, gods damn it,’ said Karoline and banged an armored fist on the armrest of her command chair. ‘The Worgen will be here in less than twenty hours. Hyun Jae, can we contact Valhalla? Or any Solarian forces for that matter?’

    ‘We seem to be in luck, ma’am,’ replied the stunningly beautiful Korean girl, ‘as the E-com is the only thing that’s still completely operational on the ship.’

    ‘Ok then, patch me through with whoever you can reach. Lucero,’ she said, turning her head to the tall Chilean youth manning the pilot’s post on her right, ‘set a course for that gas giant and mingle us with its rings. Activate whatever cloaking we still have.’

    ‘Done,’ he replied after a few seconds. ‘We’ll be there in one hour and fifty-four minutes.’

    ‘Valhalla Fleet Hub is waiting on a private channel, ma’am,’ reported Hyun Jae.

    ‘Fine. That’s all we can do at the moment. Everyone, go to the crew quarters and get some rest. Neither of us has eaten or slept in over thirty hours.’

    They all got up and started limping out of the bridge. Aside from not eating or sleeping, they haven’t been able to leave their seats either since they had been ambushed by the Worgen task force. It had been a perfect example of cosmic bad luck. The mission had begun routinely enough. They were surveying a deserted system, trying to decide if it would be suitable for a Solarian forward operations base. In an ideal situation, the enemy shouldn’t have ever been able to get anywhere near them. The Solarian ships were both faster and much deadlier than their Worgen counterparts. But this hadn’t been anywhere close to ideal. Against all probability, a cruiser and four frigates exited Oct Space almost on top of them.

    What should have been a flawless victory with proper forewarning had turned into a complete and utter disaster. Her ship and the panicked Worgen had proceeded to throw walls of torpedoes, plasma and laser fire at each another. One frigate was completely destroyed in the first salvo and another one instantly disabled. But the Maiden wasn’t unscathed either, as there had been too much fire and too little room to maneuver. After a lengthy chase through the system, they managed to jump out, but not before the Worgen could record their trail. They would be coming after them, slowly but surely. Karoline hoped with all of her heart they would get help until then.


    The shared crew quarters, which also served as mess hall, dormitory and recess area was unusually quiet as Karoline entered. The helmet of her armored suit plied back and she tiredly removed the netting which held her long blonde hair packed together. The three young Solarians, only a year out of cadethood, were gathered around the mess table, on which lay the remains of a lavish meal. Karoline picked up a green apple and bit into it thoughtfully, still standing. If you were to consider looks alone, you could never tell which one was the commander. Even though she was over a thousand years old, she looked like she was barely out of her mid twenties. She could feel the impatient eyes of her crew boring into her.

    ‘We might be in deep trouble, troops,’ she said in-between two bites.

    ‘There’s no one coming?’ whispered Alexander morosely.

    ‘Oh, they’re coming, alright. But they can’t get here earlier than twenty four hours.’

    ‘What?’ exclaimed Hyun Jae. ‘That’s cutting it a little close, isn’t it?’

    ‘Calm down, honey,’ said Lucero, trying to sound unconcerned, but Karoline could still see the worry in his eyes. ‘I’m sure the nanite colonies will repair the ship sufficiently enough to give us a fighting chance.’

    ‘He’s right,’ sighed Alexander rubbing his eyes. ‘The weapon systems and the reactor are on priority one. They’ll be as operational as possible in a few hours. I only hope it’s going to be enough.’

    ‘They will,’ said Karoline. ‘They have to be. Come now, darlings, we’ve survived two days of constant fighting. We can make it another four hours.’

    The cadets looked at her with shy but convinced smiles. Gods, how she loved them. In the twenty years since they had been assigned to her command she had come to care for them fiercely. And they loved her back with the same passion.

    ‘So what would you have us do while we wait for the repairs, ma’am?’ asked Alexander.

    Screw it, she thought, if they were going to die soon, they might at least make the most of the time they had left. She tossed the apple’s core on the table and pressed a button on her left wrist. The segments of her suit opened up and clattered noisily to the floor. She started to slowly and lasciviously unzip her white, tight fitting undersuit.

    ‘Well, you could all stand around moping, or you could come over here and rub this ache out of your commander’s shoulders.’

    ‘When the commander is so drop dead gorgeous, how could any of us refuse?’ asked Jae.

    Karoline watched her lips twitch up in a mischievous smile. She couldn’t help but return it.


    Ten hours later, she was awoken by the beep of her wrist communicator. The sound it was emitting was tuned so only she could hear it. Everything was warm, soft and her mind was still flooded with vivid images of their earlier lovemaking. They had gone at it with wild abandon, giving each other everything they had. She carefully extricated herself from Alexander’s embrace and gently moved Hyun Jae, who had fallen asleep with her head on Karoline’s breast, the way she did so many times before. As catlike as possible she left the tangle of white sheets that was their bed. Lucero was the only one that stirred, but he only embraced Jae tighter and went back to sleep. A naked Karoline stood in the middle of the room, studying them with a terrible longing, hoping this wouldn’t be their last time together. With tears in her eyes, she padded into the shower.

    Under the torrent of soapy water she finally opened the message her communicator was insistently announcing. It was audio only, and came directly from Derzelas, the Solarian Hegemon himself. A lead ball settled into her stomach. That couldn’t be good.

    ‘Octadec Karoline,’ said the familiar deep and rumbling voice, ‘I’ve got some bad news. The cruiser Sol’s Breath which was supposed to come to your aid is still caught up in the siege breaking action in the Cancerus system. It was supposed to be over by now, but the Worgen insist on sending wave after wave of reinforcements. This means the ETA to your location has been pushed back by eight hours, maybe sixteen.’ There was a sigh and a short pause from Derzelas. ‘You just sit tight and try to avoid confrontation with your aggressors if possible. And Karoline, remember that even though it’s a very precious war asset, the Makeshift Maiden is disposable. You and your crew are not. Good luck to you and yours.’

    Her fist broke through the marble plating of the shower cabin. With gritted teeth she pulled back the bloody hand and started to take out the gray rock shards one by one. A trickle of blood came from every gash before the nanites in her blood staunched it and instantly closed the wounds. She finished with the shower and went back into the common room. With hurried moves she shrugged back into the white undersuit and began to clasp her armor on. A hand on her shoulder made her stop.

    ‘Ma’am,’ whispered Alexander, ‘what’s going on?’ She gently brushed his hand away and continued to suit up. ‘So I was right. They’re not coming after all, are they?’

    She turned to him, her tears leaving wide streaks on her cheeks. He was young, naked and perfect. Her heart pounded heavily as she gave him a suited embrace. The ultra sensitive padding on her gloves felt his skin break into goose bumps at the metal’s cold touch. They kissed for a long time.

    ‘They are, but not in time to save us,’ she whispered after that.

    ‘You know, Karoline, in all of our time together, I’ve never seen you cry,’ he replied with a slow smile.

    ‘You haven’t ever called me by my name either,’ she countered, returning the smile. ‘Not once, in over twenty years, not even in bed.’

    ‘Well, I figured if not now, then I may never get the chance.’ He paused and looked at the floor for a minute. Tears began welling in his own eyes. ‘I love you, with all my being. We all do. And I’m thankful for the time we’ve had together.’

    ‘As am I.’

    ‘Alright,’ he said, gently pushing back from her, as if suddenly embarrassed by this show of weakness. ‘It wouldn’t do good for the others to see you cry. Go on to the bridge and draw us up a battle plan. I’ll wake Lucero and Hyun Jae and meet you there.’


    The following eight hours had gone by in a blur of inventories, probability calculations and plot coursing. Countless roadblocks were hit and promptly overcome with creativity and ingenuity Karoline did not believe she and her team possessed until then. Thinking about it long and hard, she realized it came from truly accepting the possibility of death. They had become unshackled from fear and free to focus on dealing as much damage to the enemy as possible.

    ‘I get what you’re saying Jae,’ complained Lucero in one heated argument, ‘but I still think we should draw them in as close as possible. The reactor's in a sorry state. It might as well be held together with duct tape. The closer they are, the less energy we need to use for each shot and the more ordinance we can put out there before it shuts down for good.’

    ‘You’re mad, boy!’ replied Jae. ‘Keep in mind, that by that time we would have been in combat for upwards of five hours. Do you think we’ll have enough static defenses left to stop everything they throw at us?’

    ‘Everyone, quiet,’ Karoline cut in sharply. ‘We’ll see how we play that part when we get to it.’

    ‘So, for the most critical portion of the fight we’ll have no plan B?’ asked Alexander.

    ‘We haven’t had a plan B for days now. Now, if you would please look at the coordinates I’ve sent you, you’ll find that the enemy has finally arrived.’

    Everyone froze in their seats. A large signature and two smaller ones had appeared not far from the debris cloud which marked their own entry point into the system, three million miles away. The enemy wouldn’t be able to detect them right away, as the rings of the gas giant provided ample interference against any scans. But the Maiden’s hull was severely damaged and the reactor section was leaking all kinds of radiation. Sooner or later, they would be discovered.

    As luck would have it, it was later rather than sooner. After more than two hours and a half had passed, the enemy began to issue signs that they had detected them. Karoline saw them accelerate and begin firing torpedoes. Without needing a specific command, Jae powered up the Maiden’s defenses and engines, enrolling on the course they had planned. These first enemy torpedoes were slow and stupid, so the automated lasers managed to pick them off easily, far outside their effective range. But she wasn’t fooled. This was only a ruse, meant to make them lower their guard.

    ‘They’re behaving just as you’ve predicted, ma’am,’ reported Alexander.

    ‘Good,’ answered Karoline. ‘But don’t praise me just yet. What they'll do next will tell us how successful a fortune teller I truly am.’

    The Worgen ships followed them closely for the next half hour, but never daring to go into the asteroid rings after them. Most of their fire was deflected by interposing rock and ice chunks.

    ‘Their course is now stable, ma’am,’ said her second in command.

    ‘Alright, I guess it’s now or never,’ replied Karoline thoughtfully. ‘Lucero, fire the heavy kinetic slugs on a predictive course. All of them.’

    Karoline could feel gentle judders reverberating through the hull as the railguns launched over thirty thousand inert iron projectiles into space. Each of them weighed more than one hundred kilograms. Of course, this was only a diversionary tactic, as the projectiles were very slow, lacking propulsion of their own. This also meant that once launched, they would be impossible to guide, hence the need for such great numbers. They were the cosmic equivalent of a spray-and-pray gun. But, the same lack of propulsion that gave them these weaknesses made them very stealthy. There were no exhaust flames to be detected and they were also coated in radiation absorbing paint.

    Nothing happened for ten minutes, as the projectiles made their slow flight to where the Worgen were supposed to arrive. Karoline held her breath. Any second now. Suddenly, one of the enemy frigates flared up and disappeared in a cloud of debris and burning atmosphere. Smaller explosions lit up on the surface of the other two vessels, but without the dramatic effects of the first.

    ‘Oh yes, you furry bastards!’ screamed Lucero, elated. ‘What you’re feeling now is the cold iron kiss of The Hegemony.’

    ‘Control yourself, honey,’ Karoline berated him. ‘We’re not in the clear yet. This is bound to piss the others off, so pay attention.’

    ‘An angry enemy is more likely to make mistakes, ma’am,’ piped in Hyun Jae.

    ‘That may be so, but an antimatter torpedo fired in anger is still deadly. Proceed with the second part of the plan.’

    The heavy acceleration drove them into their seats. Alexander had fired all of their functioning sub-light engines and they were whipping past asteroids at breakneck speed. The Worgen finally decided to follow them in, all the while firing every weapon they had. Karoline cursed the sorry state the Maiden was in right now. If it weren’t so damaged, it would have outrun the enemy long ago. On the other hand, if that were the case, the Worgen’s remains would have long been added to the gas giant’s rings.


    What occurred over the next four hours was a vicious game of cat and mouse amongst the asteroids of the gas giant’s rings. Their static defenses were dropping slowly but steadily and the enemy’s fire didn’t seem to lessen. Despite the rail attack earlier, neither the cruiser nor the remaining frigate suffered anything more than superficial damage. Karoline cringed every time an antimatter explosion rocked the Maiden, dreading that the next one would be close enough to obliterate them completely. Sweat was beading copiously on her forehead, despite the air conditioning in her suit.

    ‘The fire will soon become overwhelming, ma’am,’ reported Jae urgently. ‘We’re down to three automated lasers and the missile countermeasures stock is almost depleted.’

    ‘I think this has gone on long enough,’ sighed Karoline. ‘I had hoped we’d get lucky and the reinforcements would be here by now. Fire all remaining counter missiles on a patrolling course. Then divert power from the static defenses to the Oct Jump torpedoes.’

    ‘Aye, aye, ma’am,’ confirmed Alexander. ‘I really hope you know what you’re doing.’

    ‘As do I. Fire when ready.’

    The launch for all the counter missiles took less than a minute. They settled in wide spiral trajectories around the Maiden, waiting to intercept the enemy fire. The Oct Jump torpedoes did not really need to be launched, they merely dematerialized from the barrels of their launchers and continued their flight in the eight dimensional space. Thus, they were untraceable and impossible to intercept, until they reappeared right next to their target, at which point it would be too late. What happened next was almost like magic. A huge explosion blinked into existence next to the remaining frigate, its force ripping it in half. Two more explosions rocked the enemy cruiser, one next to the engine section and one near its nose. With one or more of its engines disabled, its acceleration dropped considerably. The damage to the more heavily armored front was lighter. But the power drain of the launches affected the Maiden as well. A tremendous explosion bloomed in its rear section, threatening to rip it off from the rest of the ship.

    ‘That’s it!’ stuttered Lucero over the ship’s fierce shuddering. ‘The reactor overloaded and blew apart. We’re dead in space. The enemy cruiser is still operational and bearing down on us.’

    ‘Well, old girl, I suppose it was fun while it lasted,’ muttered Karoline, gently stroking the command chair’s armrest. ‘Alexander, wait for one more hit and eject the bridge section. We’re going to try and blend in with the debris.’

    Ten seconds later, another explosion rocked the ship and then four minor ones signaled the detaching of the bridge. The timing was more or less perfect, because one after another, three enemy torpedoes slammed into the Maiden and the already fractured and bruised ship blew apart. The force of the explosion propelled the drifting bridge into a nearby asteroid, which made it ricochet into open space. The shock and high gees of the impact caused the four Solarians to lose consciousness.


    Karoline came to before the others. Hull breach and atmosphere loss alarms were blaring once again all over the wrecked bridge. She detached herself from the seat and drifted to the others. Alexander seemed fine, but still out of it. Hyun Jae as well, even though her suit showed some superficial damage. Her heart leapt into her throat when she reached Lucero. A section from one of the support frames had run him through and through.

    ‘No,’ she whispered. ‘Don’t die on me now, love, not when we’re almost in the clear.’

    As if hearing her, the man stirred weakly. It wasn’t too late, she could still save him. After quickly unclasping his straps, Karoline carried him to one of the emergency stasis modules. Finding some support, she yanked the piece of frame out and shoved the man in, before decompression could take hold completely. A trail of frozen blood remained behind and hit her suit. The slowly drifting crystallized chunks spread all over the bridge.

    ‘What now, ma’am?’ asked Alexander, floating in the middle of the room with Jae.

    Karoline spread her arms wide and they came to her. The suited embrace was awkward, but still felt warm and loving to her.

    ‘Now we wait. And hope it’s our friends that find us, not the Worgen. But whatever happens, we’re still together.’
  10. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    B Positive - 880 words
    warning: some explicit language

    No, just the check. Thanks.

    Melinda stares intently at the waiter’s backside as he leaves. When he is out of eyeshot, she tilts her head down and runs her fingers through her hair, twisting it into a bun. She ties it up with the elastic band that's always around her wrist, and drops her arms into her lap. She turns her face toward the window, lips pursed.

    Mel, can you just look at me?

    Without moving her head, she rolls her eyes in your direction, settling them impatiently on the bridge of your nose.

    Mel, can we please talk about this?

    I don’t have anything else to say.

    You bore your eyes into her, trying to coax out the girl who used to kiss your nose to keep it warm on winter mornings. But her face is slack and unyielding now, and it’s your turn to look anywhere but at her. You clench your fists under the table and focus on breathing as steadily as you can.

    The waiter places a little black folio in front of your water glass. She reaches into her purse, but you stay her hand.

    It’s fine, I’ll take care of it.

    Are you sure?

    Don’t worry about it.

    Alright. She closes her purse and slings it over her shoulder. You ready to head out then?

    Give me a minute.

    Whatever, I gotta go. I have an early meeting tomorrow. She scoots her chair back.



    I don’t want to be friends.

    She shakes her head and chuckles. Fine. I guess this is goodbye then.

    Yeah. Bye.

    As she walks out the door, you flag down the waiter for another whiskey. You sit at your corner table, swirling that drink around, until your ass grows numb. Every so often you take a sip, but mostly, you just breathe in the bitter fumes, gouging the ice block out of the glass and letting it plop back in over and over again. Half an hour later, the waiter returns. He asks if you are alright. You order another. This one you’ll take at the main bar, you tell him. He needs you to close the tab in the dining area first, so you hand him your card and lumber down the stairs.

    It’s a Friday night, still early. Might as well take advantage of a beautiful evening, you tell yourself. You’re a little buzzed, but you can enunciate and walk in a straight line just fine. Besides, what other guys come around this Cambridge bar anyway? A bunch of scrawny Harvard pussy boys. You’re golden. You pick out the empty seat next to the blonde wearing a satin blouse and tightly fitted A-line.

    You don a low, sultry timbre. Excuse me, is this seat taken?

    The woman turns around, and her petulance swiftly morphs into ecstatic surprise. She gasps. Job! Hey! Long time no see. What a coincidence finding you here! She leans over and wraps her arms around your shoulders a bit too eagerly, hugging you to her a bit too long. You return a perfunctory squeeze and reluctantly ease yourself onto the barstool.

    Oh, yeah. Hey Franny.

    Gosh Job, I haven’t talked to you in ages! How are you doing these days? She enunciates slowly and gingerly, trying hard not to slur her words together. Oh, this is my friend, Rita, by the way.

    You nod in the direction of Franny’s fat friend. Good, same old. Yourself?

    I’m doing really well! I just got a promotion this week!

    Oh nice! You’re still at Biogen?

    Yup, going on two years now!

    That’s great. I’m happy for you.

    You pause to reflect, hoping the flatness of your voice is only in your head. The bartender places another drink in front of you, and you suck on it wearily while Rita whispers something to Franny. They look at you and titter. You pretend you didn’t see or care.

    Job, are you sure you’re doing alright? You look really pale.

    The observation makes you shift uncomfortably in your seat. I’m fine, just tired. Long week.

    That sucks. Franny slowly looks around with a glazed expression. So what’s your girlfriend up to tonight?

    I wouldn’t know. We broke up.

    What? You did?

    You nod and take a swig.

    But I just saw pictures of you guys on Facebook last week…

    You shrug. Sometimes things fall apart.

    She nods, forcing a frown. Well, I’m sorry, Job. It’s her loss.

    Doubt it. I’m not marriage material, apparently.

    Franny rolls her eyes. Well, I think you’re a catch, anyway. Her smile wanes as she realizes the weight of her careless remark. She turns away to take a sip of wine.

    Though you say nothing, you finish your whiskey and set the glass aside. Before you’ve given it another thought, your hand gropes its way along the shining faux-marble counter. Franny is flushed and radiant under the amber glow of the bar light. Her breath catches as your fingers touch hers for the first time. You aim your entire body in her direction and look into her drooping, bloodshot eyes as you slide your palm up and down her sweating forearm. Be positive, you tell yourself. You smile, and for the first time all week, you mean it.
  11. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    Mary's Decision (1345)

    I made a mistake. Not just a mistake, but a series of mistakes. My name is Mary and I was pregnant. I didn't know what to do, I needed money, and Plan B just made so much sense to me.

    Johnny and I were in love, or at least I loved him. It wasn't my first time having sex, and it wasn't our first time either. It was, however, my first time being unsafe. I missed a period and took a pregnancy test which came out as positive.

    "Come on, what does it say?"
    "I don't know it says here to wait two minutes."
    "Are you sure you did it right?"
    "I think I can handle peeing on a stick."
    "Okay, sorry. Is it done yet?" ... "well?"

    I can't believe it, I am pregnant. I never thought that this would be me. I always told myself 'I won't be one of those girls who end up sixteen and pregnant', but here I am in my boyfriend's bathroom with a positive pregnancy test in my hand.
    "It's..It's positive Johnny. I'm pregnant."
    "What? No that's not possible."
    "What's so impossible about it? You decided not to use a condom. There isn't really any impossibility in that."
    "No, I just mean... I don't know. Why us? This shouldn't have happened."
    "Let's just calmly talk about this."
    "I just..I need time to think."
    "Okay, then think."
    "Just get out."
    "Excuse me?"
    "I said LEAVE! My parents will be home soon, and I can't deal with this right now."
    "Baby let's talk abou.."

    I put my blue jeans on and slam the door shut behind me. I need to go and get out of here. I need to think. I need someone to talk to. I'll go to my friend Jenny's house and talk to her.

    *knock* *knock*

    Jenny's mom answers the door.
    "Well come on in sweety, Jenny is in her room."
    "Okay thanks."
    I go into Jenny's room and sit down.
    "Hey Mary what's up"
    "I'm pregnant."
    "What? How?"
    "How do you think."
    "What are you going to do?"
    "I...I don't know"
    "Have you thought about Plan B?"
    "What? You mean where you sell your baby for scientific experiments? No, I have definitely not thought about that"
    "Well I mean they pay for the baby ."
    "It's not about the money."
    "No, I'm just saying that you get that responsibility taken care of and you don't even have to like do anything. "
    "Ugh this is awful. I'm going to have a terrible reputation, everyone is going to know."
    "No I hear that Plan B has ways of extracting the baby at 3 months when you aren't even noticeably pregnant."
    "That's...How is that possible?"
    "I don't know, but Alice did it. She said it hurt a little but didn't have any weird effects or anything. She doesn't regret anything."
    "Okay I'll think about it."

    I didn't just think about it. I had already made up my mind. I didn't want anyone to know about what I had done. I liked the whole idea of getting paid for getting my responsibilities taken from me. I mean, I was a little skeptical on the morals of the whole thing, but whatever.

    Johnny and I ended up breaking up and we didn't stay in contact. Then three months later I made an appointment to meet with a representative for Plan B at their local clinic. When I got there I was surprised by how nice the facility was. Everything was white. Almost in an eery way. Well I take that back, in a very definitely eery way. A clean shaven man with a black short hair cut approached me and shook my hand.
    "Hello, my name is Richard, and I thank you for considering Plan B."
    "Yeah, so how exactly does this work?"
    "It is very simple and humane. You come to one of our very clean facilities to birth your child. We will then pay you and you are free to leave."
    "Yeah, but what will you do with the child?"
    "That is classified."
    "You cannot tell me anything?"
    "We will take good care of your child."
    "Why can't you tell me what you do with the baby though?"
    "I apologize that I cannot tell you anything else, but I will assure you that we will take good care of the child."
    "Alright let's do it."
    "When would you like to make an appointment for?"
    "Now. I just want to get this over with let's do it now."
    "How many months pregnant are you?"
    "Fifteen weeks."
    "Alright. If you follow me to room twelve we can get you into one of the early birth machines. Is that alright with you?"
    "Yeah, let's just do this."
    "Alright, follow me."

    Richard stood up and walked across the room to a door and opened it. I followed him down an extremely white hallway that was illuminated brightly. We arrived at a door with plain black numbering '12'. I stepped inside the room and was told to undress.
    A male doctor entered and helped me into a machine and started to give me a series of shots. Everything started getting fuzzy and I was losing consciousness as the machine started to fully encapsulate me.

    I wake up screaming. It is dark inside of the machine. I feel a warm liquid in a pool under my buttocks and upper thighs. I have an extreme pain that feels like I have an awful cramp, but was then stabbed where I was cramping. The doctor opens the machine and tells me to calm down.
    "What happened?" I look down and see that the liquid I noticed earlier was blood seeping from my vagina. "Is this normal? Am I okay?"
    "Shh..It's okay honey. Everything went fine. A little bleeding is normal."
    "It hurts. It really really hurts."
    "The procedure is more painful for some than others. It's fine we will give you a weeks supply of pain medication for any persisting pain."

    I felt sick to my stomach. Like I made some awful mistake. But I was paid a thousand dollars in cash, and then I left. After a week of pain medication I was back to normal. Everything seemed fine. Life was good. I had this nagging feeling of regret, but nothing was apparently wrong.

    A week after the operation I ran into Johnny at school and told him what happened. His face went pale.
    "You should have asked me. I called you several times and you never answered."
    "It's my baby, and you had nothing to do with it."
    "Are you serious? We made the baby together. My uncle works for Plan B, and he has told me what they do with their babies!"
    "What do they do?"
    "They use some high tech equipment to conduct aptitude tests on the babies to project how they will turn out in the future. They can calculate their future IQ, leadership capabilities, problem solving, and all sorts of things."
    "How's that even possible?"
    "I don't even know, but here's the thing. They actually raise the babies up in facilities to train them to become whatever the staff feel fit. They can be trained as anything from scientists to government officials to teachers."
    "Well that's not too bad. Seems really neat actually."
    "Only like one percent of them get stuff like that though. Most of them just get raised as soldiers or even worse as lab rats."
    "What? That's legal?"

    I felt immediately sick to my stomach. I can't believe that something like this exists. I feel like I should do something. I want to reverse what I've done but I can't. I went back to the facility and asked if there was any way I could return to money and get the baby back. This was of course not possible.

    A week later Mary's mom came into her room and screamed. She saw her body lying on the ground in a pool of blood. Mary had slit her wrists and throat, killing herself.
  12. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    First Date

    Mary slowly removed the buttons of his shirt one by one, trembling as each button popped out of its button hole; breathing in the scent of her man, feeling giddy with emotion as she felt his hands on her hips gently bringing her closer to him. He kissed her softly on the nose and moved his hands around the back of her shoulders. He suddenly pulled away from her and tore his shirt off. “I can’t wait, girl,” he said “Let’s just do it, let’s put that rubber on!”

    “No!” she said, “I’m scared, Joseph.”

    He hugged her and kissed her again on the nose, “don’t worry, honey, everything will be alright,” he said. He stood beside her and together they faced the sea in silence; it was almost dark, a soft breeze was blowing and the temperature was warm, the sea was calling them. Mary held a tear back and faced the sea stoically. She had promised she would do it on their first date so she should keep her promise but she still wasn’t sure if it was actually wise to do it with someone who was literally a total stranger; what if something happened? At the back of her mind, she told herself that he wasn’t a total stranger; she had got to know him well through their conversations online for the past two weeks.

    “What if something goes wrong?” she suddenly asked him.

    “I’ve thought of different scenarios so I’ve brought supplies and extras just in case we need them. Come on, let’s go to the car and get the stuff.” He told her as he took her hand in his.

    Together, they walked back to the car and while she got their things out of the boot he unfastened his kayak from the roof of the car.

    “Look Joseph, I know I said I would do it on our first date but really, I’ve never done this before. I’ve never been in the sea at night…”

    “Mary, Mary, we don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, we can do something else instead.” He told her as they walked back towards the shore loaded with things.

    Mary’s eyes lit up. She dropped the hamper and pushed him on the floor. He dropped the kayak and they were both lying down on the soft sand, Mary on top of him. She kissed him fervently as he tore her shirt open. Waves sang softly for them in the background.

    Suddenly bright blue lights shone on them and what was a fervent embrace became a rush to get their clothes back on as quickly as possible.

    “You are under arrest!”

    “For cuddling?” asked Joseph with a cheeky green on his face.

    “No. For robbery!”

    “What?” said Mary in shock.

    “I’m afraid so, madam. We’ve been looking for him for the past three weeks. Please get out of the way.”

    Joseph pushed Mary on the floor and ran toward the beach with the kayak. The police drew their guns out and went after him but they were too slow, Joseph was already in the sea and by the time the police reached the shore, Joseph was then completely out of sight.

    “I’ll write to you, Mary!” shouted Joseph from the darkness.

    Mary looked towards the sea as tears filled her eyes.

    “Are you alright, miss?” asked her one of the policemen.

    “Yes… well, no. I’m not alright!” she said as she pushed away and ran towards the car.
  13. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    A different route

    The door whined as Melisande Flamestouch slowly closed it behind her. The quiet breeze tickled her skin as she pulled her cloak tight around her. The gentle rock of the ship in the calm swell had taken her to sleep quickly, but jarred, mismatched visions of her past had quickly brought her back.

    Barefooted, she padded across the deck. The night watchmen chuckled whisperingly as they played cards on a wooden crate, a oil lantern simmering at its centre. Before returning to their game; they gave respectful nods as Melisande passed.

    Resting on the rail, looking out into the moon soaked ripple of the Southern Span; the young wander, come pirate captain briefly sank into contemplation. But after only a few moments a lone figure, rested on the bow drew her attention. Flamestouch squinted, it was but a shadow against the night sky, a frail, womanly spectre in the dim light. Corinne? She thought. Furrowing her brow, Melisande quietly moved along the deck of the forty foot cog before coming to a stand, some five paces behind her friend. She stood there in silence, though Corinne must have heard her approach, the girl did not turn. 'Corinne?' Melisande finally said, barely louder than a whisper.

    The girl jumped slightly, before turning side-ways, Corinne looked at Melisande from the corner of her eye before returning to her listless gaze at the ship's course.

    Melisande walked up, resting her arms on the rail, before looking side-long at her friend. 'Does sleep trouble you?'

    Corinne Shook her head.

    Melisande frowned. 'Then what?' She said tentatively.

    'Nothing, Melisande. I am fine.' Corinne paused but before Flamestouch could press the topic, she continued. 'Tell me again; how much longer till landfall?'

    Melisande narrowed her eyes at the girl whom spoke without turning to acknowledge her. 'At the sun's midday point, we should be within sight of Lernenby port. We will be spending the evening there to resupply. If all goes to plan we shall be back on the waves by sun up, the following day. While it may be old information, an Eldoradi fleet carrying gold and spice will be entering our hunting ground in less than a ten-day.' Melisande gave a wicked grin. '...I fear they will not reach Mes Leonir.'

    Corinne's face creased into an empty smile, but she did not move her eyes from the moonlit horizon. 'A sound plan, captain.'

    'So,' Melisande started, tapping her fingers on the wooden railing. 'I believe it is best you get some rest. A friend of mine, Sven, is normally around Lernenby this time of year. He is a splendid bard, I would think you'd enjoy his tales. Best you are not half-asleep for them.'

    'Rest...' Corinne said slowly. '… rest is what I need.'

    The words came to Melisande's ears in a haunting manner, but she paid it no heed, turning on her heels she made for her quarters. After less than three strides, a sudden splash caused her to reel; Corinne was gone. The bow empty.

    'Man overboard!' Melisande screamed, her voice hard with anger.

    Cards were tossed as the night watchmen scrambled to their feet. Their leather boots thudded on the wooden deck as they sprinted to the railing. Their eyes hunted the blue abyss, but there was not so much as a ripple to imply the young woman had made any attempt to swim. They wheeled the ship hard to its starboard, the calm swell gained some anger as the bow cut against the water... It was a fruitless delay.

    Even once the commotion had subsided and the ship put back on course, Melisande did not return to her bed. A wave of her hand saw it filled with a mug of ale before she watched the sheepish cabin boy dart back below deck. Sitting with her back against the rail she took a long slug from the steel cup. If one changed names and locations, Corinne's life's story was near identical to her own. Both were touched by the gods, and, both had been subjected to the tortures and humiliations of the Light's Voice. So why was it that Corinne had sought a different path? These thoughts tickled her spine until her vision was blurred and the deck illuminated by the first of the day's light.

    Melisande Flamestouch wearily got to her feet and returned to her quarters, though sleep would not come so easily this time.
  14. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Northeast England
    Magic Trick [796]

    Adonis knelt in the cold tall grass and looked forward. His companion knelt beside him. “The powder,” Adonis whispered. His companion looked at him, his blue eyes reflecting the light of the flaming braziers a dozen feet in front of them. The mage’s name was Nilo. Adonis had never trusted anyone more.

    Nilo took the satchel from his waist and handed it over. “I hope this works.”

    “I was only confident in this plan because you were confident.”

    Nilo stared at him then showed the white of his teeth. “It’ll work.”

    Adonis carefully untied the knot and spilled the chalky powder into his palm. Raising it to his mouth, he softly blew the powder into the air. The powder spread out and became a thick fog. The two of them watched in anticipation as the fog consumed the six guards who stood in front of their commander’s tent.

    “Give it twenty seconds,” Nilo said.

    Adonis counted in his head. By the tenth second, the nearest guard let out a wild sneeze, then another, then another. By the twentieth second, they were all sneezing uncontrollably.

    Adonis frowned. “I think the intention was to make them sleep. Not give them colds.”

    He sighed and shook his head at the ground. “That damn merchant scammed me.”

    Adonis knew it was alright to smile at his mistake. The mage always seemed to find ways of pulling things off no matter how hopeless the situation was. His instincts appeared to be correct. Nilo looked ahead with determination and rubbed his palms together.

    “What are you going to do?”

    “Whatever comes to mind.”

    “Need me to do anything?”

    “No, but praying wouldn’t hurt.”

    Adonis smiled. He had come to the conclusion that modesty was Nilo’s most admirable trait. The mage let out a slow breath, then emerged from the grass.

    “Oh good lord, finally!” Nilo patted the dirt from his clothes. “Could one of you fellows offer a tired wanderer some food, perhaps a nice glass of wine? I fear my legs will give way any moment and you will be burdened with the task of picking me up off the ground.”

    The nearest guard lowered a spear. “Where the hell did you come from? Get outa here beggar!”

    “Give the man your unfinished bread Kruel. The bastard’s just gunna keep bothering us.”

    “Don’t tell me what to bloody do.” His smile was fiendish. “I think I’ll just kill you instead for trespassing.”

    Adonis grasped the handle of his sword.

    The other guard crossed his arms. “Go ahead. Then you can explain to the commander why you caused a commotion that woke him up in the middle of the night.”

    The guard lowered his spear. “Whatever. You’re not worth the effort. Go on, get.”

    Adonis released his breath and let go of the handle.

    “How about a trade?” Nilo said. “You soldiers look a little bored.”

    A guard chuckled. “You going to dance for us?”

    “Do you soldiers like magic? How about a magic trick?”

    Their heads tilted curiously.

    “If you can outsmart me and figure out how I do it, then you don’t have to give me anything. But if you can’t...”

    The guard with the spear stepped forward. “Alright let’s see it then.”

    Nilo lifted a finger. “One moment.” Frowning, he patted the pockets of his clothing. “Hmm, now where did I put them?” He lifted a finger again then removed his hood. On top of his head was a deck of cards.

    Adonis held back a laugh.

    “Now I need all of you to gather around me and pick a card.”

    A guard scoffed. “I’ve seen this one before.”

    “Now now. Give me the chance to impress you first.”

    Looking at each other, the guards seemed to agree that they had nothing better to do. He was just a harmless beggar after all.

    All six stood in front of Nilo and took a card. “Now I need you all to count with me. One...”

    They exchanged awkward glances. They were slow to start, but eventually they started counting. “One... two...”

    Nilo flicked both hands in front of him. The cards glowed bright orange, and their eyes widened in awe.

    He smiled. “Three.” Clapping his hands together, the cards exploded into orbs of blinding white light.

    There was no sound. After a moment, Adonis lowered his hand from his eyes to see all six guards on the ground. He emerged from the grass and walked to the mage’s side.

    “Maybe I should start my own caravan. I’d probably make a nice living.”

    “Nilo,” Adonis grabbed him by both shoulders and smirked, “you’d make one god awful magician.”

    After a moment, Nilo smiled and slowly nodded in understanding. Adonis drew his sword and they walked towards the tent’s entrance.

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