Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sudden Short Story 83

He finally saw the forest man, though it was obvious that it was only because he wanted to be seen. 
"You've spent a lot of time in our territory," he announced to the younger man - a boy, really, no more than sixteen by the looks of it.  "I take it that you're after me." 
A crow alighted on a nearby branch. 
"That's one way to put it," the young man replied.  He was slightly winded from ascending a steep slope. 
A crow alighted on a nearby branch. 
"You've come to me as Ursa is taking care of her cubs.  So don't worry," he smirked, "you won't be mauled by a bear." 
A crow alighted on a nearby branch. 
"You're bringing a lot of crows, though," said the young man, as a crow alighted on a nearby branch. 
"Despite what you may have heard, I do not controls most of these animals, though they are my friends.  The army of squirrels is a different matter, though." 
"The what?" 
"Don't worry about it.  What brings you to me?" 
A crow landed on the ground near the visitor.  That one always had been curious. 
"You don't realize who I am, do you?" asked the young man. 
"I haven't heard any news from the city in years.  Are you some kind of child prodigy, who ran up a business empire and needs more land because, really, it's important?"  A crow cawed.  "Maybe you're a grown man who invented a youth serum and now you're aging backwards and you're just plain desperate."  More crows called.  "I honestly don't know who you are.  Who are you?" 
"You might find this hard to believe," said the young man, "but... I'm your son." 
The crows began an absolute cacophony.  The forest man struggled to retain his composure, knowing that the boy was about the right age ... . 
The boy shouted over the din of the crows.  "Do you remember a girl named--" 
"You should get out of here while you still can," spoke the forest man clearly. 
"What?"  The young man was caught by surprise, not expecting to be rebuked so suddenly.  "But, you haven't even heard me out." 
"As I said," said the forest man, trying very hard not to yell to be heard over the crows, so as to avoid seeming even more agitated, "I do not control the animals, but they are my friends.  Slowly leave the area, now." 
Afraid for life or limb, the young man turned and left.  He was miles away before he stopped being scared of every large shadow in a tree branch. 

Sudden Short Story 82

"Yeah," she said in response, trying to play it cool.  "Who'd want someone like that, anyway?" 
He recognized that tone, that waver.  She'd become too human in his time there; she'd become a bad liar.  Or maybe it was just now. 
Regardless, his instant realization took him so by surprise that he sat up and turned away from the river to face her. 
He forgot to hide the look on his face, though, and she read it plainly enough.  She was actually dumbstruck, which was new. 
"No," he said, not wanting to hurt her feelings.  "No," he said, not wanting her to think that he meant what he meant.  "No," he said, regretting what he'd just said, but it came out as just "no, no, no." 
She didn't know how to react.  Her own thoughts were unfamiliar to her.  She tried to fly away, but she couldn't, so she just ran. 
"No," he said, quietly, to himself, as he realized what had happened.  The spirit world hadn't changed him, but he'd begun to change it. 
He wandered off that night, hoping to find a way out, before he ruined everything. 

Sudden Short Story 81

The little girl sat at the bus stop as the #4 pulled away.  Though kicking her feet a little, she had a melancholy about her. 
"Why are you sad," asked a woman's voice. 
"Because I'm waiting for the bus," she said. 
"When the bus arrives, will you be happy?" 
"I'm happy now," answered the girl.  "But, I'm also sad, because I miss my family."  She looked off, down the road, which now wound through bushes and trees and was made of dirt.  She was already losing them, in her mind, and her reason for going.  Tears began to well in her eyes, but she held them back.  "I won't miss them once I cross the hedge, will I?" 
The bus arrived. 
"No," answered the voice. 
The little girl boarded the bus. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sudden Short Story 80

"Alright, men," Colonel Saunders began - she had long ago ensured that everyone was aware of the 'u' in her name - "This is your new favorite target."  A distant picture of the strange alien appeared on everyone's HUD. 
"As of right now," Major Leeds continued, distracted by how much he hated leading briefings, "if you see one of these alone - and they are usually alone - then you shoot to kill." 
Captain Pletcher made sure that he was thorough when he explained things.  "That means no warning shots.  That means that you attack, if possible, before radioing for backup.  You are to report the sighting while shooting, not after." 
"I know that this goes against your training, but it's very important that you remember these things."  Lieutenant Korrapati made sure that his troops understood that these orders were not given wantonly, but also the weight of the situation.  "They are called temporal assassins for a reason.  If you miss, if you wound it, if another sees you, then you will not get a second chance.  They will unmake you.  You will never have existed." 
"There is some good news, though," Sergeant Patariki said as she wrapped up.  She indicated the middle of the creature - it was about half middle, with six long, grasping appendages emerging radially from it.  "Its brain is spread all throughout its torso - I don't have time to mince words with xenobiologists - and it needs the whole thing.  Hit almost any part of this big, inert target, and you've got a dead temporal assassin.  Aim for the middle; even if you're off-center, it should end up dead.  Always look for seconds before securing the area.  Always put another bullet somewhere else in its brain before letting Intel take over; we need samples, but we can't be too careful." 
"Alright, now let's go kill some assassins, while we still exist," Private Jefferson said, per his habit of talking to himself.  He wondered how he got stuck with the job of killing these things.  As dangerous as the things were, shouldn't they have sent more people? 

Sudden Short Story 79

The angle of his nose and of his jawline matched the unique slope of the back of his ear.  Arms crossed, he propped himself up against the back of his chair, with his legs kicked out, though he could hardly be imagined relaxing.  Pressed pants, pressed shirt, he was the living embodiment of a backslash. 

Author's note:  I'm fairly certain that the style of this story is brought to you by my having recently read Kafka.