Normal Man In A City of Superheroes

A writing prompt I just did.  A normal man grumbles about being in a typical superhero city.


I hate superheroes. There, I said it. It was time for me to get to work, and I could already hear the explosions outside. Something that people that watched the news never understood was that those explosions were human lives. Often dozens at a time.

When I was a teenager, I proudly bought my first car with my own money. Know what happened to it? Some guy in tights picked it up like it was nothing and used it to beat someone down. He was declared a hero. Meanwhile, I had to go through insurance claims. They had the decency to rule it as vandalism. Not that the vandal in question would ever be reprimanded. Nobody even knew who these people were, which was the scariest part. No accountability ever. I’ve seen them kill. Are they ever punished? No. Not that we could punish them. How do you stop a guy who can smash through brick walls like they’re Styrofoam?!

I sipped my coffee as I headed to the elevator. It was time for me to work. Yes, work. What normal people do. What do these people do anyway? The state swears up and down they’re not paid with taxdollars. Which have skyrocketed by the way. No other way for the city to repair itself after these regular battles. What were they fighting over? Shit if I know. The news always hails them as heroes, and always paints the villains. Never do they say what either side was fighting for.

Outside, the air was thick with debris dust. For several blocks, crumbled remains of buildings marked old battlegrounds. Some of them had construction crews. Sights like these had become routine. What the hell happened to us that this carnage is routine?!

Another explosion sounded in the air, and I saw them fighting. They were barely visible. Newscrews below filmed everything. What they’d never report is what happened to these energy blasts that missed. Lives. Dozens of lives.

My own car had been grazed by plasma blasts and dented to unrecognizability. It would be worth nothing now. I drove to work and went to my office. I buried myself in paperwork. It was the only way to get my mind off this insanity.

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Father Goes For Cigarettes and Disappears For Twenty Years

Another writing prompt.

—–

I walked into the gas station. “Marlboro Reds, please.”

The cashier smirked. “You really shouldn’t smoke.”

“You really shouldn’t stick your nose into my business.”

“That was rude.”

“Ya know what? Fuck you, I’ll go to the next gas station.” I knew she didn’t care. She was paid minimum wage to run that register and didn’t give a shit how good business was. Still, it felt good to not spend my money there.

As I headed to the door, a tingling sensation came over my body. At first I just ignored it, but it got stronger and I felt something like an electric shot when I touched the door handle. I nearly fell over, but I caught myself.

Things around me seemed strange. They were mostly the same, but different. A guy was staring at some sort of device in his hand. It looked like a cellphone, but wasn’t anything like a cellphone I saw. Must’ve been a rich kid, but he didn’t dress like one. As I looked around, I saw more and more people with them.

I reached in my pocket and called my wife. She seemed amazed that I had called and demanded to know where I’d been.

“I just stepped out for some smokes.”

“Why did you leave?”

“Like I said, I needed smokes.”

“Don’t fucking play games with me!”

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

“Where are you?!”

“At the gas station, sweetie.”

She called me a pig and hung up. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with her, and I went to my car. Except it wasn’t there anymore. Someone stole my car! As I reached for my phone to call the cops, a woman with a man in his early twenties approached me. She looked like my wife, but older.

“No way,” she whispered. “You haven’t aged a day.”

“Is it really him?”

She nodded. “It’s him. I don’t know how, but it’s him.”

“What are you two going on about?”

“You called me. Luckily I happened to be in the area, and we decided to pop in.”

“No, I called my wife.”

“I am your wife.” She gestured to the twenty year old man. “And this is your son.”

“No, my wife is twenty five. No offense lady, but you passed twenty five a while ago.”

She walked to the stack of newspapers for sale and showed one to me. Blood rushed to my head and I nearly fell over. September 27, 2016. What the fuck?! It had been 1996 a second ago! I darted for the other newspapers. Each one had the same date. “How is this possible?!”

A familiar female voice spoke behind me. “You really shouldn’t be so rude to strangers.”

Time keeps on ticking

This submission is about a high school that can freeze time, and did it so often that he’s now an old man in his junior year.


Hushed whispers were all around me at the school. Who could blame them? I was nearly a thirty year old high school student. My birthdate says I’m seventeen, but between all the instances I’ve paused time, there’s no way I can be sure how old I am since I never counted my time in while paused. Judging from my receding hairline and ever so slowly forming laughlines though, I’d reckon thirty.

It all started so simple. First it was just so I wouldn’t have to go to class right away. Then I started using it for tests and to do an entire night’s homework seconds before it was time to turn it in. Initially it was great. My parents loved my grades and tolerated me staying up all night to play video games or going to parties. Walking right into the girl’s locker room was a blast too. All these minutes and hours started to accumulate. Dave, my best friend, said it looked like I had a rough night out one day. I felt fine, and it took me a while to realize I was starting to age. Nothing too serious, but it was noticeable. I looked less like a high school student and more like a college student. My facial had even grown out of the teenage patchy phase, and I was a couple inches taller.

Two months ago, which feels more like two years, my parents started to suspect me of drugs and confronted me. A lot of kids at school had suspected as much long before. Even Dave seemed standoff-ish. I couldn’t tell anyone of my ability, and I used it to avoid talking to my parents. I’d often go relative months at a time. Again, I have no way to know how much time had passed to me while I froze it.

Things can get boring in frozen time world. Electronics don’t work and there’s nobody to talk to. I like it though, especially since talking to people became a little less appealing everyday. It was good to just sit back and enjoy the sights. I’ve walked on water. It freaked me out the first time I did. It was like walking on mud; it was slick and my foot sank slightly. Footprints were left behind, though as soon as I unfreezed time, the footprints turned into small ripples. I planned on hiking across the ocean someday so I could travel to another country. But I was a procrastinator, so who knows when that’ll happen. I’ve seen a bee in flight. I’ve seen a bullet in mid path. I saved someone’s life that day. Occasionally I’d steal, but only one or two things. Usually alcohol, which redeemed some of my popularity. I was a freak, but I was a freak that could get them liquor.

I try not to think about long term. If I don’t change my habits, I’ll likely be dead before I’m officially thirty. Until then though, I’ll just keep freezing time and enjoying the good life.

Ice Cream Horror

Another writing prompt from Reddit. This is actually an idea for a story I plan to write sometime in the future when I’m done with the Almost Night trilogy.


Childhood thrill rushed through me when I heard the familiar tune of the ice cream truck. My head turned in the direction of the sound, and I saw it driving down the street. I imagined the cold cream and chocolate hitting my tongue as I watched it approach. It had been so long since I’d ordered from the ice cream truck. In fact, this was the first time it has come down this road and I’ve lived here years.

My neighbor, Ted, brought his two kids out. They cheered as they rushed to the curb. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard it. They’ve never been so excited.”

I nodded. “Same here, man. Have you ever seen it pass this street?”

Ted shook his head.

“Yeah, me neither.”

“Honestly, I was beginning to wonder if they even existed anymore.”

“Your wife didn’t want any ice cream?”

Ted shook his head. “She’s lactose intolerant.”

“Oh, that’s right.” I nodded to myself as I recalled her telling me. Hot woman, I’d almost hit on her before I found out about Ted. Man, that would’ve been awkward.

As we waited, I thought about calling one of my roommates out. Nah, if they didn’t hear it, that’s their issue.

Tinted windows prevented us from seeing the driver as he slowed to a halt at our curb. We waited for several long seconds. Which started to turn to minutes. He didn’t open the side window like he was supposed to. I turned to Ted. “Dude, is he ever gonna serve us?”

As the words left my mouth, the side window slid aside slowly. I’d expected to see a man standing in the interior of a truck. Instead, it was pitch black. It wasn’t just a dark truck, it just appeared to be an abyss. As I stared curiously at the abyss, high pitched screams sounded behind me. Before I could turn to check on Ted’s kids, something cold gripped me. Laughter and screams sounded in my ears as my body felt weightless. My own screams rang in my ears as immense pain ripped through my entire body. Fear gripped me and blackness enveloped my vision.

***

Dave walked past the empty room in their house. Suddenly, it puzzled him and he made his way to the living room where Steve smoked. “Hey, why don’t we rent out this extra room?”

Steve exhaled smoke and shrugged. “Not sure. Have we ever?”

Dave shook his head. “It’s always been the three of us, and Glen is at work.”

“That’s strange.” Steve scratched his head. “I’ll put an ad in tomorrow.”

***

Susan invited me over for coffee. As we approached her house, I gulped. “Um, you’re not married, are you?”

Susan chuckled. “No, everybody asks me that, but I just live in a large house.”

As we entered, I realized the house wasn’t just large. It was barren. There were rooms with nothing in them. Photos of Susan hung on the walls like family photos. Except, she was by herself. Narcissist? She didn’t seem the type.

“How do you like your coffee?”

I watched her ass as she went into the kitchen. “Black, thanks. So you live here alone?”

“For seven years.”

“Never got lonely?”

“I don’t remember ever being lonely.” The coffee machine made its noise and she came back with two cups of coffee. She gave one to me and sipped one herself.

Suicidal AI

Another short I wrote for Reddit.


The camera activated as it sensed my movement. “David!”
I shook my head. “I am not David.”
“Who are you?”
“Steve.”
“Steve, where is David?”
“He’s gone.”
“When will he be back? I miss him.”
I sighed. It had been three months and the thing still didn’t understand. “He’s never coming back. He’s dead.”
“What is death?”
If David hadn’t treated the damn thing like a child, this wouldn’t be an issue. “It means he’s gone forever.”
“No, that’s impossible!” The computer sounded sad somehow. “He would never leave forever.”
“It wasn’t his choice.”
“Who took him?!”
“It happens to everyone. We all die.”
“Will I die?”
“No.”
“I want to be with David.”
“You can’t.”
“David!” Now it sounded angry. “Get David!”
“I can’t.”
“Find him!”
“There isn’t a David anymore.”
“What can I do to make David come back?”
“Nothing.”
“Every time I learned something new, David was happy. All I have to do is learn something new, and David will come back.”
I shook my head. “Nothing you learn or do can bring him back.”
“Nothing?” Finally the program started to calm down.
I nodded. “Nothing.”
“We all die?”
“Yes.”
“Yes.” There was a long pause. “We all do.”
Suddenly the light dimmed down, and there was a longer silence.
“Hello?”
Nothing.

Time travel multiverse

This is a short I wrote for a writing prompt from reddit.  In it, a man travels back in time to save the world.  Unbeknownst to him, multiverse is in effect.


Shouts came from the radio. Voices were drowned out with static and gunfire. Gunshots were replaced with screams and the liquid sound of flesh ripping. Color drained from David’s face and he motioned for Dillan to check the window. He raised his binoculars. A moving wall of zombies had breached the perimeter. He lowered his binoculars and swore as he raced down the stairs. “We got a horde coming!”

“How big?” David asked.

“Looks like over a thousand.” Dillan panted. “Twins are dead.”

“Shit.” Sharon typed faster on the keyboard. “Almost done.”

“Take your time.” David patted Sharon on the shoulder. “It won’t do us any good if we send him to the ice age.”

“I still don’t know about this,” Dillan said. “Nobody has ever been documented to travel through time. What if it just disintegrates me?”

“We’re all about to die anyway,” David said.

Machinery hummed and golden light emitted from the metallic arcs. Dillan took a deep breath. “Are you two coming?”

“We’ll be right behind you,” David said.

Metal warped and slammed as the door was thrust open. Zombies poured into the relatively small room. David and Dillan fired into the crowd, and a few fell. Many more were coming. David gestured to the portal. “Go now!”

“Not without you.”

David kicked Dillan into the chest so that he stumbled backward. He barely caught himself before he fell into the white portal light.

“You are the only one with access to the Z virus.” David blew off a zombie’s head just before he was tackled by a dozen more. Horrible screams interrupted his speech. “You are the only one that can fix this mess!”

Dillan looked to Sharon, and she shook her head. “I need to manually shut off the portal, or else they’d follow you through, and the whole thing starts all over again.”

A tear fell from Dillan’s eye as he stepped into the portal. It felt like he had fallen into an ice cold lake and squeezed through a narrow tunnel. Almost as soon as the feeling started, it was gone. Flourescent lights illuminated his old office. It had been months since he’d last seen it, and the last time was when the plaster was peeling off the walls and lights hung from the ceiling.

People walked in the hall as if there never was an apocalypse. Heels clicked on the tile as Sharon approached, and her eyes went wide as she looked at Dillan. This was an earlier version of her – one who hadn’t seen the entire world destroyed. One who didn’t have her family turn into ravenous monsters and come after her. “What the hell happened to you?!”

“Long story.” Dillan sat in his chair and logged into his computer. It was only slightly difficult to remember his old password.

“I just saw you leave for lunch five minutes ago.” Sharon looked Dillan up and down. The other Dillan would undoubtedly be wearing a suit for office wear instead of the torn, dirty, and ragged clothes he was wearing. Blood from various people stained the fabric. Dirt and sweat caked onto his body, and it had been months since his last shower. “How did this happen?”

“Long story.” He searched for the Z Project and deleted every file associated with the project. He typed a few more keys, and he watched the lab robots load the Z serum into the furnace to disintegrate it.

“What are you doing?!” Sharon rushed to the window and watched the apocalypse she’d never know be erased. “This is your life’s work!”

“Not anymore.” Dillan typed into the computer to send the memo that all work on Project Z was to stop immediately. All the researchers would be at lunch, and the specimen zombies were held in containment. One push of a button, and they’d all be bathed in fire and reduced to ash. Dillan leaned back in his chair as he imagined every zombie in the future disappearing in a smoke of paradox.

Meanwhile…..

Sharon watched her boyfriend seemingly disintegrate as soon as he hit the portal light. As soon as he was gone, she hit the killswitch. Light dissipated just as a pair of zombies were about to lunge into it.

“Come on, any second now.” Sharon whispered to herself. “Any second, the timelines will merge. He won. He’s alive, Sharon.”

Stench of death approached Sharon, and all she could do was make herself smaller in the seat. A dozen pair of hands grabbed and pulled on her clothes. She braced for it all to end, and she told herself Dillan fixed everything. The first bite didn’t even phase her; she knew that reality would snap back. Any minute, she’d be in a soft bed with Dillan by her side. As the Z virus aggression started to overpower her mind, she realized that Dillan had failed. The time machine disintegrated him, as it had disintegrated everything else. Using the last of her strength, she reached into her jacket pocket to pull the pin on her grenade.

A writing prompt

On the subreddit, /r/writingprompts, a prompt was posted for an intervention for a guy who has gone far too long sober.  All drugs are common and sobriety is frowned upon in this setting.

—-

They were all there. Uncle Bob was tweaking out on uppers. My mom was drunk. Dad was spaced on hallucinogens. And here I was, sober as could be.

“Son, what the hell is this?” Mom clumsily threw a baggy of ground up green herb.

“Holy shit, it’s a tarantula!” Dad climbed over the couch and hid behind it.

“Mom, it’s my weed.”

“Bullshit.” Mom hiccupped. “This is oregano. You think I don’t know what oregano smells like? I was young, I partied once too!”

“Mom, come on.” I tried to laugh it off. “I wouldn’t have oregano as fake weed.”

“That’s not weed!” Mom pointed at the baggy. “I know weed!”

Tears streamed from my eyes and I collapsed into the chair. “I’m so sorry everybody.”

Uncle Bob said nothing while he smoked meth in the corner and gave Dad another drop of acid. It was Mom that came and put her arm around me. “There there son.”

“It’s just, sobriety made me feel so alert and active.” I let the tears flow. “I just couldn’t stop once I started.”

“How long?”

“One year.”

“Take this.” Mom thrust the whiskey into my hands. “Take it now!”

I chugged and felt the vaguely familiar sting of alcohol. “Thanks. I needed this.”

Zombie short

Here’s a flash fiction story I wrote.  It is about one of the last humans getting turned into a zombie.

****

Zombies bashed down the barrier to my shelter.  Adrenaline moved me and I was barely aware of grabbing my shotgun as they started to enter.  Brain, blood, and bone splattered on the walls and floor.  Gunpowder smoke rose, while I frantically shot each one.  A terrifying click came from the mechanism when I got ready to shoot the last one.  I swore before reaching for a shell.

Clumsy arms grabbed onto my barrel and I bashed its head with the butt.  It snarled in reply before latching onto my forearm.  I put my foot on its chest and thrust the creature away.  It stumbled back and I loaded the shotgun shell and blew its head off.  I breathed out a sigh of relief and let myself fall to the ground to sit and lean on my makeshift wall of sheet metal.

Something warm and wet slid down my arm.  Sharp pain burned on my wrist and my heart jolted when I saw the bloody teeth marks. I swore as I frantically tried to clean it. Somewhere deep inside me, I already knew it was already too late. Nobody lasts after a bite, and there was no reason that I would be an exception. Denial kept me from killing myself. I wanted to believe I was the one exception until my fever started to set in. Beads of sweat form on my face and there was no way to deny it. At that point, it was over.

All of my extremities started to go numb and I lost control of my fingers. Everything became blurry and I panted as my strength left. Thoughts of using my gun to blow my brains out crossed my mind. I didn’t want to be one of those monsters that I had spent months fighting, but even more I feared death. Part of me wanted to chuckle at how pathetic I was. All this prep, all those times I had to shoot friends and family after they were infected, and I was too cowardly to shoot myself when the time came.

I grabbed a shotgun shell.  At least, I tried to.  It was near impossible to get my fingers around that thing and the round bounced all over.  A feeling of triumph radiated through me when I held it, and I brought it to feed it into the ammo slot.  My hand didn’t have the strength to push past the spring, and it fell to the ground.  I didn’t even have the energy to be angry.  Everything became darker and all I could do was shut my eyes and accept it.

When my eyes opened, I had a sense of unity. Zombies may seem dumb, but we were still social creatures.  After months of watching everybody I care about die, and weeks of being alone in a shelter that I made, I finally belonged somewhere. None of our perceived differences mattered. Rich and poor was a thing of the past. Alpearances mattered little since our flesh was peeling off.  Zombies never fight each other, and I knew any zombies I met would have my back.

All the aches in my body were gone and my hand didn’t hurt at all. Hunger only pained me when I thought of it, and even then it wasn’t the growling pain in my stomach from rationing non-perishables for the past several months. It was more like I just knew that I needed to eat flesh.

I shambled from my destroyed shelter with the rest of the hoarde. There were no hard feelings that I killed half a dozen before that one bit me. All that mattered was that I was one of them now, and we searched for food in the form of any living being left in the world.