Monday Stories: Blue Flowers, Chapter 02

Jordan and London march across the yard past an empty pool and towards a white barn. The grass reaches up to their knees. London glances over her shoulders and finds dozens of blue flowers up next to the house. The teen shrugs and hurries to catch up to her brother at the barn. The teen grabs one door and the brother grabs other. Grunting with effort, the barn doors roll back on rusty wheels. Inside is a small workshop. 

Two dollhouses sit on a large bench. A third structure sits on the side, a half-finished castle. None of the models are painted and lie empty inside. A few half-finished wood carvings are arranged in neat rows between the houses. Tall blue flowers extend from cracks in the cement floor. The siblings stand still and smell the musty air.

Jordan grins as he steps over to the bench, “Remember when we were kids. We would just sit here and eat ice cream while he would carve a chair from wood?”

London smiles.

“I wonder who these are for?” London muses as she brushes the unpainted models.

“Who knows.” Jordan answers as he pulls on a chain.

Lights flicker to life throughout the room. Beyond the workshop are crates stacked along the length of the walls. A classic car sits in the far corner near a side door. Behind the car are a half dozen pieces of farming equipment.

“Wow. I forgot about the car.”

“He would love working on that thing. I think he loved working on it more than being with us some times.”

Jordan walks over and runs his hands along the different tools. He picks up a wrench and starts laughing. From above, his sister leans over the railing.

“What’s so funny?”

“Grandpa and his tool lessons. Trying to teach us which tools to use and what not. I could never remember the numbers and what they meant.”

London chuckles, “Yeah. He would facepalm so many times. I remember one time you got a flat head and a Philips mixed up and he had to leave the room. He was rubbing his temples in the kitchen for a good five minutes.”

Jordan laughs, “I remember that.”

London doesn’t answer as she peers around the loft. Small boxes are arranged on the tables. Most of the boxes are marked as Christmas decorations. A fake is wrapped up and leaning against the wall. A large water stain runs from the ceiling down the length of the wall, and onto the floor.

“I think we got a leak up here.”

“Yeah. Looks like something broke through the wall down here.”

Jordan kneels next to the hole in the back corner. Pieces of wood are scattered about. Old claw marks are carved into the dirt. He pulls his phone out and snaps a picture of it.

“I got mouse droppings up here.”

“Great.” Jordan sighs, “Why did I think that this was going to be a simple clean up job.”

“Hey! Jordan! London! You two still in here?” A voice calls from outside, muffled.

“Yeah!” Jordan hollers back, “In the back.”

“I’m up top.” London calls down from the loft.

Austin stomps in from outside. He blinks his eyes as they adjust to the darker interior. He walks over to the dolls houses.

“Great. Have you two seen Mr. Cooper? His car is here but I haven’t seen him anywhere.”

“Nah. Just dust and mice. And a whole lot of weeds.” He frowns, “Why are there so many weeds running around here?”

“What?”

“We got a couple of repair jobs and we’ll need traps.” Jordan says as he walks out to the front of the barn, “What about the fence?”

“Found about a dozen lengths that need fixing. I already messaged Caleb and Hannah to start getting the wood. I’ll text them about the mouse traps too.”

“London, are you okay? You don’t look so good.”

“I don’t know. Paris and Sydney, I think.”

The teen heads back towards the house. She quickens her pace from a walk to a jog. Her brothers fall in behind her. A moment later they arrive back at the house. It is as silent as before. She goes around the house but she can’t find her sisters. Worry starts to gnaw at her. She hurries to find an open window but the house is sealed uptight. The sound of glass shattering draws the girl back to the front. She catches sight of Austin disappearing into the house.

“Guys!” She puts one foot on the window, “What’s going–”

“Stay out there!” Austin bellows.

A moment later, the boys carry their sisters out of the house through the window. The two girls are wrapped in vines with blue flowers. The three siblings work furiously to pull the vines free from their sisters. A moment later, the siblings stir and cough.

Austin helps them into a sitting position, “What happened?”

“I don’t know.” Sydney answers as she clears her throat, “We were on the stairs and suddenly we got dizzy. Next thing I know, we’re out here.”

Austin looks up at Jordan, “The gas might still be on. Either the stove or the heater.”

“I’ll go check.”

“Not alone,” London answers as she scrambles to her feet.

“No! You stay out here with your sisters. We’ll be back in a moment.”

Austin and Jordan quickly move the house. They are dim and neither of them notices anything out of place. Austin ducks down the basements and checks the heater and making sure the gas pipe is sealed off. His brother heads into the kitchen and does the same with the stove. A moment later, the two of them meet in the main hall. Jordan pauses and kneels down. A blue flower lies in the corner.

“Hey. Austin.”

“Yeah?”

“Remember grandpa’s stories. About blue flowers?”

“Yeah…. I was just thinking about that.”

“Yeah.”

“Austin. You know what story I’m thinking of right now?”

“The one about the meat-eating plant. That would put unwary travelers to sleep before dragging them off to her lair?”

“Yeah. That one.”

“Yeah. I’m thinking about that one too.”

The two brothers step out of the house. Their sisters are standing by the jeep. To his eyes, Austin can’t see anything unusual with them. London is more worried than usual but that is to be expected.

“You have grandpa’s research journal, right? With you, right?”

“Yeah.”

“See if you can find anything.”

“Right.”

To be continued…

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Monday Stories: Blue Flowers, Chapter 01

Author’s Foreword: Greetings! I know I am not the most consistent writer but I am discovering that forcing out a story tends to ruin both creativity and quality. Please bare with me as I find the balance.

A red sun slowly peeks over the horizon, revealing a white house surrounded by overgrown grass. The borders are marked by a broken-down fence line. A white jeep comes to a stop just outside the porch stairs. The house is worn and in need of fresh paint. The yard is overgrown with grass and a broken fence borders the property. Blue flower buds are scattered throughout the tall grasses.

“Hey, mom. We’re here.” The driver says into the phone, “Yeah. We’ll let you know if we have trouble getting into the house. Yes. I have the key. We’ll let you know when we are done.” 

The driver glances around the jeep as his mother asks a question. “Yeah. Everyone is fine. Okay. Bye, mom. See you in a week.”

The driver looks around as he hangs up the phone. His brother sits shotgun. With his black hair and square jaw, he looks like a younger, thinner version of himself. Behind them are three teen girls. Each one is identical from body shape to their round faces and brown eyes. The only real difference is the color of their hair and how dark their skin is. One is a brunette with dark brown skin. The middle one is dirty blonde with light brown skin. The last girl is a light blonde with pale white skin. Her sister places a comforting hand on her knee. 

He chuckles.

“What?” The three girls say at once.

“Just thinking what Grandpa used to say. The jokes he would tell and laugh at himself after he said it.”

The other four start laughing at once. His brother turns around in his seat and glances at the teenagers. He shakes his head and leans back.

“Said mom’s ink was running low. The copies were getting lighter.”

The chuckles fade away as they look back at the house.

“I hate that joke.” The fairest girl says. Her voice cracks, “I wish I could hear him say it one more time. So I can laugh and tell him how much I liked hearing his jokes.”

“Yeah. Grandpa was alright.”

The older boy inhales sharply, “Come on. We’re burning daylight.”

They pile out of the car one by one. A porch chair creaks as it swings in the wind. The older brother sighs and looks around the house. His eyes dart back and forth, noting what needs to be done and what needs to be fixed.

“Hey, Austin.” The younger brother says as he looks at his phone.

“What?”

“Mom just texted me. Apparently, there is a storm heading our way and she doesn’t want us to stay at grandpa’s house. And she wants us to text when we are back at the hotel.”

“Alright.” Austin looks at his own phone. The same message is displayed on its screen, “Let her know we will. Today we will just see what actually needs to be done.”

“Done.” He looks up at his older brother, “You’d think though that we’re in our twenties that she wouldn’t worry as much.”

The older brother chuckles, “Remember what dad said though. Momma bear will worry about her cubs, no matter how old they get. Plus we got some youngsters with us.”

“Not kids!” The middle girl complains.

“You’re barely sixteen. You’re still kids.”

“And mom will skin us alive if one of you got hurt.”

“Good point.”

Austin rolls his shoulders and starts formulating a plan in his head.

“Jordan. You and Paris go check out the barn. See what needs to be fixed there. London. Sydney. Go through the house. Look for anything out of order.”

“I’ll go with Jordan.”

The siblings turn in surprise at the light blonde girl in surprise. She looks at each of them back in turn. The teen shifts her feet.

“Look. I get it. I can’t hide forever. I’ll be alright.”

“Are you sure?” She nods her head.

An awkward silence passes between them.

“And what are you going to do?” Sydney asks.

“Checking the fences. See how much lumber we’ll need. And whatever else we need.”

The family quickly break and head off in different directions. The younger brother and the brunette walk towards a white-painted barn. The older brother heads towards the edge of the property and begins looking over the fences. The two girls open the door and step inside the house. The door slams against its frame, echoing down the halls. A stale, musty order fills the air. Most of the shades and curtains are drawn shut but the house is warm.

The pale girl sighs as she steps deeper into the house. She looks up and down the hall. Her eyes linger on a photo of her and her siblings. They are on the front porch with tall glasses and wearing July Fourth clothes. At the center is a beaming old man with a large potbelly and full-on Santa Clause beard.

“Sydney! Remember this?” She turns to the other girl.

The pale girl joins her at the photo, “I remember that sunburn I got.”

“I can’t believe that this was only one year ago.”

The two girls break away from the photos. Paris heads upstairs and begins looking at the rooms, ceiling, and roof. She opens the door to the master bedroom. A large bed sits in the center. A heavy musty smell fills the air. The young teen closes her eyes and recalls the odd smell of leather and burned wood. The shiny buttons on his overalls. Paris shakes her head as the memory of his boom laughter echoes and she shuts the door.

The teen pokes her head into the office room. A desk, a drawing board, and a shelf full of books occupy the room. On the desk is a vase with blue flowers in it. On the drawing board is a complete layout of a Victorian-style house.

Paris covers her mouth as she reads the title of the drawing, “Angels’ 14th Birthday ( 1 of 3 )”. A small note is attached to the side of the blueprints.

This design is made for my granddaughters, Sydney, Paris, and London for their fourteenth birthday. It is a scale down version of a home they liked when we visited the east coast a few years ago.

The girl feels tears sliding down her face. She turns away from the drawing and walks out of the room and down the stairs.

“I’ll check upstairs.”

Paris looks feels her sister guiding her towards the stairs. The teen stops her.

“Stop. No. It’s fine. Just. I found a drawing on grandpa’s art desk. He was making a dollhouse for us.” Paris chokes back tears, “He had the plans and everything. I just. I had forgotten that he sent me out of the room because he was working our gifts.”

“I forgot about that too,” Sydney whispers as she glances towards the room, “I remember how he would start waving his arms whenever we got to close to the stuff he was making.”

“Can you blame him? Remember that toy robot he made for Austin? But Austin got wind of it and made his own so that he and grandpa could have toy robot fights?”

Paris laughs and takes a deep breath. “Oh yeah. He was so proud and happy but at the same time, he was angry that we were figuring out what we were getting. Told us that his work was special and that we needed to wait.”

The two girls fall silent as their memories go back down the hall. The silence of the house begins to weigh in on them. The house creaks but they can’t even hear the wind outside.

“Doesn’t feel right.” Sydney mutters, “Too quiet without the record player going.”

“Or him laughing somewhere.”

“Come on. Let’s wait for the others outside.”

Paris nods her head. Before they can move, a low groan echoes through the house. A groaning noise fills the air. The two girls glance at each other and wonder. A cold shiver runs down their spine. Paris totters as a wave of dizziness hits her. She slides to the ground and stumbles along the stair railing.

“Paris? Paris, what’s wrong?” Sydney takes a few steps before her head begins to swim as well, “Paris. We need to get. Outside.”

Sydney slides along the wall and towards the ground. She notices the blue flowers slowly opening on the windowsill. Sydney’s head spins and she tries to figure out why the plants are pushing their way through the cracks in the windows.

To be continued…

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 10

An hour later, the kids slide to the floor. The soldiers remain on guard but the emergency ship was already cutting into the hall. For some reason, the animals hadn’t tried to attack.

“Time?”

“A few more minutes are left before they can establish a secure connection.”

“And still no movement from the creatures?”

“No. They are keeping back. Not sure why.”

“I can’t believe we made it,” Blue says as she kneels next to Blades.

“I can’t believe none of us died.”

“You complaining?” Sparky says with a laugh.

“Not at all. Not at all.” Blade chuckles then wince.

“Your bandages giving your problems?”

“Nah. Regeneration is a pain. That’s all.”

“At least you can repair yourself.”

“True but getting ripped in half is not fun.”

A clank of metal falls to the floor. Men in armored suits and carrying large rifles file out. Immediately they form a defensive live with the entrance at the center.

“Jenna Leese and Micah Stornbor.” The medical man says with a smile, “I am glad that both of you are alive. Please come with us.”

All three teens step forward but the man raises a hand, “No. Not you.” He points towards Sparky, “Only humans are being evacuated. You must remain on board.”

“What? What do you mean I have to stay on board?”

“It is protocol. Specimens can’t leave the research facility in which they were created unless authorization is given. I’m sorry. Jenna. Micah. Let’s go.

“Wait. No no no no.” Micah shakes head, “All three of us or none of us. That was the deal we made. So she comes.”

“No, she doesn’t. Look. She is not a human and we need to go.”

“What?”

“What?”

“What?”

“She isn’t human. This isn’t a discussion. He snaps his fingers and two more medical officers step out, “You’ve been through a lot and we have a lot of questions but we need to go. Now.”

“Not without Sparky?”

“Who?”

“Me!” The girl says, her arms flaring slightly with orange light.

“No. No. She isn’t human so she can’t come. The security units will protect her. She’ll be fine.”

All three teens give him withering stares.

“We’ve seen your security teams.” Blades growls, “They suck.”

“Thank you for your critique. But I must insist that we debate. Emergency docking is not something we can hold for very long.”

“Then you run along.” Blue snaps, “We’re staying.”

“No, you are not. Your parents are worried about you.”

“What about her parents? Aren’t they worried?”

“No!” The man stamps his foot, “Don’t you get it yet? She. Is. Not. Human. We created her to figure out why this world was going through such rapid mutations. Mutations that are stable. We needed a host to test. That’s her. Her own biological donors gave her, it, to us for science advancement. Haven’t you realized it?”

“I’m human!”

“Haven’t you wondered why her memory hasn’t come back yet? Why her records aren’t there with the passenger logs? Go look under the specimen lists. You’ll find her there.”

Sparky steps back, tears in her eyes. “Please no. I don’t want to die.”

“Jenna. Micah. Come with us.”

“Sir.” A guard calls out, “We have movement coming towards us. At least a dozen.”

“Then let’s go.” Blades says as he grabs Sparky’s hand, “All of us.”

“Yes. All the humans.” Blue grans Sparky’s other hand.

“I can’t! She’s not human and only humans can go.”

“She feels pain. Fear. Talks. Has likes and dislikes. Opinions. Hopes. Everything that a human has, she does.”

“And a nice right hook.”

“Now? Really?”

“It doesn’t matter. She isn’t human because we have said so. Now come on!”

“They’re closing in, sir! We need to leave now.”

“No one has to die.”

“Where are your guards?” Blade snarls, “Those robot guards that are supposed to watch her? They aren’t here and even if they are, ten of them can barely handle one of those lizard-things. And there are dozen heading towards us. She won’t survive.”

“Than that is fate.”

“But you can save her!” Blue begs, “Please. Save her. Save us.”

“No! Tranq them!”

At once the two medical personal fire into the trio. All three slump to the ground with a thud. He shakes his head.

“Get them on board. Now. Soldiers. We’re leaving.”

“What about her?”

“Procedure says all experimental specimens must remain on board. Seal her up but she does not come with us.”

“Did the other teams get the data?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

The soldiers carry Blue and Bones onboard. From the storage section, they carry a large capsule back into the research ship. They place Sparky on board and seal it. Tapping into the computer network, they assign the custodial staff to secure the child.

Together, the soldiers reseal the hole and break away form the hull of the ship.

X

“Doctor?”

“Yes.”

“The children have been recovered.”

“Excellent. And the test subject?”

“It remains onboard and secured in a capsule.”

“And the creatures?”

“They are still in full force. Stage three is set to begin now.”

“Excellent. And no one knows?”

“No one. Not even the digital records will reveal the truth.”

“How did you manage that anyway?”

“By deleting critical systems and program cores, it forced the recovery teams to do a full system reset. Which erased all digital evidence.”

“Well done.” He temples his fingers, “And now we shall see if our subject can survive insertion into a hostile environment.”

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 09

Sparky moves as quickly as her tired legs can manage. Four soldiers keep the kids in the middle of them. The remaining soldiers move ahead, keeping them aware of any potential threats. Although nothing has attacked them, the sounds of the creatures are loud and clear.

“Stop here.” The commander calls out, “If you need water. Now is the time to have it.”

The three teens slide to the floor, grateful for the break. They have been moving non-stop and running full out for the past forty-five minutes. Small gestures between the soldiers hint at secret conversations between them.

“I can’t believe we are going to get out of here.” Blades asks quietly.

“You doubted it?” Blue replies.

“A little. I mean. Even if we could get to the escape pods and launch, there wasn’t any place to go. And those pods are not made for long travel.”

Blue smiles, “I can’t wait to get home.”

“Move out.” The commander says, “Our warship just reported that the creatures are moving out in full force.”

The group starts moving again. For thirty minutes the group marches down the halls in silence. Every now and then, the commander would receive a report about the creature’s movements.

“Hey.” Blades whispers, “Does all of this seem to be happening a little too fast?”

“What do you mean?” Blue whispers back.

“Them showing up just at the point when we would have been overrun. Those things starting to hunt us outright instead of stumbling across us? Doesn’t it seem a little too convenient?”

“Maybe. But we were in that big one’s nest or den or whatever.” Sparky glances over her shoulder, “Maybe that set them off.”

“Maybe.”

“You don’t sound so sure.”

“I’m not. And I don’t know why.”

“Maybe you’re on edge for being hunted all this time.”

“Maybe.”

“Hold.” The Commander says, “We got contact up ahead.” He pauses, “Seems like the creatures are trying to cut us off. Pull back. We’ll find another route.”

“What’s the problem?” Blades asks.

“Those animals we were tangling with. They seem to be moving quicker now.” The commander looks out a nearby port, “And the man in charge wants us to move. They’re sending a cutter to pick us up.”

“A cutter?” Blue asks.

“A specialized craft that drills holes into ships. First designed for ship boarding actions. This particular model has been modified with a larger access port to allow an easier time for injured people. The downside is that drilling into a ship without causing a blow out takes time. Time that those creatures can use to come at us.”

“What about the other teams? Are they encountering trouble?” The medic asks, “If they’re not, then we could get together. All of the teams can hold off a determined attack for quite some time.”

He nods his head. “You’re right. We could but each one is coming under attack. The mission commander is ordering all the units to pull back. Except for Delta 33. They’re in the ship’s core memory stores pulling a data dump.”

“A data dump? That’ll take a good few hours to pull.”

“They were the first on board and have been pulling the data since the mission started.”

“Great.” One of the soldiers growls from behind his helmet, “That weasel is giving us the runaround. I’m telling you, there is something he isn’t telling us.”

“Santiago. Shut up.” He nods towards the kids, “They can hear you.”

“Right. Sorry.”

“Raphael. Simson. Did you hear?”

“Sir, yes, sir. We’re coming back to you now.” Gunfire suddenly fills the radio. “Where did that come from?”

“Fire fire!”

“No effect! Switch to plasma rounds!”

A terrible screech splits the air.

“Fall back!”

“Watch it!”

“Another one! On your right! On your right!”

For a few moments, only the sound of static comes over the speakers. Then a crackle and pop sounds. A moment later, their voices come back.

“Captain, we got a problem. Those animals are ahead of us. I think they came out of the service corridors. At least a dozen of them.”

“How can there be so many?”

“I don’t know sir but we need another way off.”

“Control. Send the cutter.”

“Cutter is on their way.”

“Alright folks. We just sit tight and wait. I want barriers set up with charges down both halls. Set up barriers along these halls too.” He points to the corridor, “Just in case they’re on the other side. We’ll just sit tight until help comes.”

“Excuse me, sir.” Blades asks, “Why the worry about the animals? We were able to pass through the halls without much trouble.”

His eyes glance at Sparky for a moment then he turns his attention to the hall, “I don’t know kid. But don’t worry about it.”

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 08

They round the corner of the hall. Dozens of them with jaws open and teeth flashing in the light. They close the distance in heartbeats.

“Been nice knowing ya.” Sparky growls as she sends twin bolts of energy into the attacking horde. “Wish we could have made it off.”

“Not over yet.” Blades answers as he steps in front of them. The bone plates on his arms thicken and grows. Acid strikes the bone.

The three teens are shoved to the side of the hall. An armored suit stands between them and the horde. Gunfire booms down the hall, sending bullets singing into the animals. The sound of explosives competes with the angry animal howls. Blue, Sparky, and Blades stare in amazement as five other armored forces march forward.

After a few tense minutes, the animals retreat backward. Two of the armored suits step forward and set up a glass barrier.

“Are any of you hurt?”

“Not really.” Blades answer as he sheds the bone coverage that is covered in acid.

The guards push forward and form a defensive barrier between the kids and the attacking animals. One of the armored individuals’ steps before them. His shoulder plates are painted with red stripes.

“Are you alright?” The wearer asks, looking between Blades and Blue. “Are they hurt?”

“No.” The first armored figure answers, “I am seeing light injuries. Nothing to stop us from moving them to the evac ship.”

“What’s going on?” Blades ask.

“Let’s go.”

“Wait! Who are you?”

“We’re part of the security team for the colonization program.”

“Sorry. We didn’t realize that the computer failed to notify us that passengers have been left behind. We’re here to rescue you.” The wearer straightens and looks towards the hall they came in, “Retreat. We need to retreat now! The Captain is picking up heat signatures.”

“What’s happening?” Blades yells as he is pushed away from the entrance.

“Move it short stuff!”

The half dozen guards form an oblong circle around the teens and the hustle away from the hole. Before the children could ask, two of the guards drop behind and place a clear barrier.

“Phew. Close one, boss.” One of the guards removes their helmet. A woman with short brown hair grins at them, “Hi. I’m Medic Officer Third Class Chesna. Let’s take a look at those wounds. Oh, looks like you have regenerative abilities.”

“Uh.” Blades raises a hand, “This might seem ungrateful but… Uh, what is going on? Who are you? What is happening?”

“Well.” She glances at the hole, “It was. Well. There seems to be some sort of plant that is taking over the ship. Seems like this particular plant likes spaceships.”

“Lovely.”

“Alright.” The commander removes his helmet, revealing dark features, “I’m Captain Eric Selzar. I am in charge of Strike Team Charlie Zero Four, or Dynamite Team. We’re here to rescue you.”

He looks at Blue then at Blades. The two teens break in hopeful smiles.

“I see the stasis amnesia is still in effect? Well. Short answer. You and your families were part of a colony expedition on the way to this world. However, your ship was damaged. You two were the last few people recovering from that damage. However, this ship fell victim to a then-unknown assailant. The medical ship was evacuated but the ship’s computer apparently glitched out and failed to register you two.”

“I’m actually kinda glad that I wasn’t awake for that.”

“Wait. Our families. Our parents. My sister!” Blue says worriedly.

“Safe.” The medic officer says with a smile, “Containment procedure held off the lizards and the plant while the ship was evacuated. However, the plant caused structural damage. Repair procedure was set in motion. Then we discovered that you two were left behind.”

“Alright.” The commander turns to them, “The rescue ship is holding position and is waiting for us. We have successful feints by the other teams. They’ll keep those animals off while we get you to the rescue ship. Captain confirms that there are no other passengers onboard.”

The soldiers break into three groups of six each. One team remains at the barrier. The other one disappears down the hallway. The last group surrounds the teens and begin heading towards the front of the ship.

“Can you at least what is going on?” Blades asks, “We kinda have some of our memories back but nothing about what happened.”

The commander glances over at one of the other soldiers.

The teens exchange worried glances.

“Not here.” The commander continues, “We’ll talk when we get to a resting point. And we’ll need to get you two into evac suits.”

After passing several halls, they come to a stop in what appears to be a meeting room of some sort. The soldiers take up positions near the doors. Outside, the world turns quietly below.

Blades frown in surprise, “What about Sparky?”

“What do you mean?”

“Captain! They’ve broken out of containment.”

“Time to move.”

“What broken out of containment?” Blue yells out, “You mean those lizard things?”

“Yes. They’re an apex predator found on the world below. A sample was brought up for examination. Unfortunately, it was discovered that the animals reproduced like ants. A single queen producing workers and warriors. To top things off, an aggressive plant was also brought up. Which was released when the lizard creatures broke their own containment. Sensors on board the ship reported you trying to escape. An emergency rescue vehicle was dispatched to rescue you. Then we discovered the plant infestation. Well. That took a bit to figure out how to get on board, save you, and then get back off.”

“We were heading to the escape pods. Or the bridge.”

The commander chuckles, “The pods were all launched when initial containment was lost. And you can’t get into the bridge without a passcode. Anyways. You’ll be fine. We just head down to the launch bays and we’ll be home free.”

A howl fills the air just behind them.

“We better get going. Those animals are not going to take an attack lying down. If we run, we can get off this boat in an hour.”

2019: Goals and Dreams

The New Year has begun
Full of promise and hope
The New Year has begun
Full of goals and dreams

Some are hopes for careers
Others are personal goals
To write and grow
Still, others are for me
To be better than who I was

The New Year has begun
So bright and cheerful
Yet a fear shadows it all
That I will fail as before

Will this year end the same as before
With nothing changed and nothing to show
Or shall this year be different
With goals reached
And achievements earned

The New Year has begun
Plans are set in motion
The New Year has begun
And I am already dodging potholes

The year will past me by
Whether I am ready or not
So onward I will go
Ready for the challenges
Ready for the new year

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 7

“BLADES!” The girls scream as they charge towards the ladders.

They catch a glimpse of a long tail before it disappears out of sight.

“What do we do?” Blue asks, stunned.

“Go get him!”

Together, the two girls sprint down the stairs, their feet ringing. Ahead of them, the howl of a creature grows fainter. The girls slide to halt on the next floor down. Three halls lead in different directions. One to the left. Another to the right. The last hall lies in front of them.

“Which way?”

“Follow the blood.” Sparky points to the floor.

Drops of blood lead off to the left. Without another word, they start running down the hall.

“Where did that thing come from?” Sparky wheezes out, “I thought they were trapped.”

“Not a clue. Might have gotten out before the security measures.”

“Great. I thought we had put them all behind us.”

They slide to a stop again at another intersection. The trail of blood they have been following is joined by several more from different halls. The girls slow to a stop and glance at each other.

“Maybe they are eating each other.”

“What is the likelihood of that?”

“Very low.”

Carefully, the two girls walk forward. Their energy crackles along their forearms and lower legs, ready for a sudden attack. The further they walk down, the thicker the blood trails become. Eventually, it becomes impossible for them to avoid the blood. Their feet stick to the floor. The only upside is the trail of footprints left in the sticky blood.

“Can you hear anything?” Blue whispers quietly.

“No.”

Blue winces suddenly as she puts a hand to her head.

“What’s wrong?”

“A headache. I was remembering a nightmare.” Blue takes a deep breath and slowly exhales, “I was a kid running down a hall and then a river of blood swept me away.”

“Oh.”

“I’ll be alright. Come on.” Blue slowly moves forward, “I don’t hear anything right now.”

“Great. What is the chances that is just the one?”

“Not likely.” Blue leans towards the floor, “Looks like another set of tracks here. Smaller than the one that took Blades.”

“Great. Just great.” Sparky starts at a metallic clang.

“Do we keep going?”

“What choice do we have?”

Slowly they walk forward into the hall. The well-lit hall is a sharp contrast with the blood-streaked floors. Here and there are streaked handprints. Without a word, the two girls move cautiously forward. They round a corner and freeze.

A pair of giant lizard creatures lies on the ground. They are twenty feet long but with a narrow, lean build. Protruding from their jaws are curved teeth. Long black claws decorate the end of their limbs. Their hide is dark green along their backs but white along their underbellies.

“Look at the size of them.” Blue whispers.

“Think you can take one of them out?”

“Overcharge?”

“That’s what I’m thinking.”

“What if there is more than one?”

Blue smiles, “Do you know how to make a pulse bomb?”

“A what?”

“Nevermind. Just get ready to hit them if it doesn’t take them out. Or if any of their friends come to check in on them.”

“Got it.”

Blue takes a deep breath and steps out. Energy pulses between her hand. A white-blue stone forms and crackles with energy. The sounds of the crackling lightning cause both beasts to wake. With a grunt, Blue tosses the white stone between them. The lizard creatures rise to their feet as the stone explodes. The force of the blast knocks both creatures into the hall. The power released scorches the hall, burns away the paint, and tears a chunk of flesh out of the two lizard creatures.

As the stench of burned flesh fills the air, another lizard creature leaps forward around the corner.

Sparky steps forward and throws a fist forward.

The orange energy rips through the air and hits the lizard on its head. The animal curls up as if it hit a wall. With a roar, the creature writhes in pain as the energy consume its head. A moment later, the creature flops onto its side. The flesh on its head burned away.

Howls fill the air.

“Can you use quick speed?”

“That I can do.”

Energy crackles around both girls. Their legs glow as they leap forward down the hall. Moving down the hall quickly, they glance back and forth. The side doors are jammed open. Unlike previous rooms, these have been gutted. What few belongs are arranged in circle-like nests. Here and there are creatures curled up.

“Look like they’re moving in.”

“Great. Wait.” Blue yells.

They slide to a stop at an intersection. Carefully they look about. Then they hear Blades yelling and fighting down the right-side hall.

“I go first.” Blue says, “You come a few seconds behind me.”

“Right.”

With a flash of energy, Blue moves down the hall. Lighting crackles in her wake. The energy casts dark blue light as she speeds down the hall.

“One thousand one.” Sparky whispers to herself, “One thousand two. One thousand three.”

She allows energy to sweep through her body. The lightning dances along the length of her body. Moving quickly, she sweeps through a blood-stained hall. In what was a large cafeteria-area, she finds Blue in the middle of a fight.

A dozen of the lizard creatures are charging her. Blades is beside her, firing spikes as quickly as he can make them. His left leg is covered in blood and he is leaning against the wall.

But at the opposite end, filling the room with angry bellows is a giant lizard. Nearly five times as large as the ones they have seen, it crouches over a clutch of eggs. Its tail forms a protective barrier between them and Blades’ spikes.

Letting the energy flow and form into white-orange swords, Sparky charges into the mix.

The giant lizard is immediately aware. With a howl, the entire pack of lizards turn their attack away from Blades and Blue and begin charging towards Sparky. Out of the corner of her eye, Sparky sees Blue grab ahold of Blades. Using her enhanced speed, Blue gets Blades out and into the hall.

Sparky holds the door, fending off two lizards with quick swipes. Blue hurries past with Blades limping beside her.

Letting go of the sword foams, she slaps the ground in front of her.

The ground glows with orange-white energy and a wall appears. The front wave of lizards slam into it and rebound. The remaining begin their own attack, slashing with claw, tail, and headbutts. Cracks begin to appear in the wall.

Letting the energy flow once more, Sparky turns and runs.

With an explosion that fills the hall, the wall collapses. Animal cries of pain are drowned out with an angry bellow. From the sides of the room comes movement.

A few moments later, Sparky slides to a stop in the first clean hall. Blades lies on the ground, his face grimacing in pain. Blue stands close by, breathing hard.

“What did you?” Blue asks between gasps of breath.

“Tried to build a barrier. It didn’t hold.”

“I think you ticked them off.”

“A little. And there is a lot of them heading this way.”

“Alright.” Blades tries to stand up but his leg refuses to hold the weight.

“What happened?”

“That big one bit it off.”

“Off?” She looks at the blood soaked leg.

“Tried to at least. Advance regenerative abilities.” He answers with a gasp, “Makes useful for recovering lost or damaged limbs but also really painful when I do need to replace them.”

The sound of howling echoes down the hall. Steadily it grows louder.

“What do we do?” Sparky asks as she raises another barrier to block the hall.

“I don’t know. Can you travel? I mean a long ways.”

“I don’t know. I need time to heal. Just. Maybe twenty minutes? Thirty?”

“With how fast those things move, I don’t think we have a time.”

A few feet away, a part of the wall slides upward. A low rumble comes from the hall. The teens struggle to their feet. Each extends their sword-like weapons.

The rumble becomes a low roar.