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.

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Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 6

Editor’s Note: Please forgive the unexpected delay. Holidays are here and required my full focus. I hope to be more consistent! I think that might be a New Year’s Resolution.

“The ship is stabilizing.” Blades murmurs as he glances out of the window. “The ship is still skewed but at least we are not doing vertical jumps anymore.”

“That’s good. Have you found anything?” Blue asks quietly. “Mainly how do we get to the bridge and why is the ship seems to be breaking down.”

With a shake of his head, Blades turns back to the terminal he has managed to gain access. Half of the screen has text slowly scrolling past. The second has an outline of the ship flashing past every second. The three teens shift uneasily as the ship creaks and groans. Error reports flow out of the overhead speakers. Every now and then there is a distant roar.

“Seems like something has gotten into the engineering compartment and is wreaking havoc in the navigation system. That’s what is causing the ship to go nuts. Repairs are underway but there seems to be a problem with the repairs.”

“No parts?” Blue asks.

“Maybe. Maybe not. That.. that part of the report doesn’t make sense.”

“What?” The two girls ask as they lean in.

“Well. Repair units have been dispatched but the system doesn’t show that the repair drones arrived. Or that the repairs have been started. There is also a report of combat units being dispatched. But there is no report that they have arrived. All of which means that there is something going on in engineering. According to these reports, there have been seven repair teams and three security teams sent. All robotic. At this point, the computer is preparing a much larger security team.”

“What do we do? Are we even close to the engineering section?”

“Not at all. We are about halfway through the ship.”

“What do we do? Keep going?”

“Maybe. What about escape pods? Can you access that information from here?”

“Yeah. Give me a second.”

“Sparky, why do you want to know about escape pods?”

“Because there are monsters running around a ship that seems to be falling apart. We may need to get off in a hurry.”

“But we haven’t seen any?”

“Maybe but I’m thinking the reason the ship is going nuts is the monsters.”

“You don’t have any proof.”

“True but have you seen any of those custodial bots? That one we tangled with went for the robot and shredded it.”

“Got the locations. Nearest one is three halls down and two floors below us.”

“Great! I say we go for the escape pods instead of the bridge.”

The other two teens exchange glances but seem to be unsure. Sparky stands up and taps her foot. She glances up and down the hall.

“We need to go.” She says quietly.

“I know we need to go but… what if we need to launch the escape pods from the bridge?” Blue looks down the hall, “And I feel like we are missing something.”

“Yeah well, this empty ship is making me uncomfortable. We haven’t seen or heard of anyone else. In fact, that first robot said that passengers were supposed to be left. I mean, how long ago did they leave? And I find it disturbing that they somehow forgot us.”

“That is disturbing to think about.”

“So which is it? Bridge or Escape pods?”

“Why not both?” Blades stands up and stretches his back, “I say we drop down to the escape pod and see what shape it is in. We’ll know then if we need to head to the bridge or not.”

“Wait. Can you get into the ship logs from here?” Blue looks up at Blades.

“No. Security prevents that access from an information kiosk stations.”

“How did you get access to the repair logs then?”

“Part of the system-wide alert system. I can see the reports about repairs but I can’t influence them or get more specific codes.”

“So what do we do?”

“Like I said. Escape pods.”

The three teens begin walking again. Their footsteps echo through the empty halls. Doors slide open and close if they pass too near. Through viewports they see a yellow sun dawning on the world below.

“Reminds of my family’s Christmas camping trip.” Blue murmurs.

“Say what now?”

“Oh. That sunrise. It reminded of a family camping trip.”

“Wait. Your memories are coming back?”

“A little. I see something and a thought would pop in.”

“That’s good. Maybe the rest of us will have our memories return soon too.”

“That would be nice.” Sparky growls as she rubs her head, “I can’t take much more of these alarms. They are starting to give me a headache.”

“Hey look! Stairs.”

Sparky and Blades look to where Blue was pointing. Next to five open lifts are two stairways leading up and down.

“I am going out on a limb that we shouldn’t use the lifts.” Blue mutters.

“Yep.” Blades laughs as he enters the stairs. “Don’t want to get stuck in one.”

A large shadow appears behind the wall.

“What is that?”

Blades turn.

Suddenly he vanishes.

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter 04

Blue slowly opens her eyes. The room swims into focus. Cautiously glancing around, she realizes that she is in a bedroom. The sight of stars out of the windows confirms that she is still on the ship. Sitting up, she winces in pain. Her throat and her right arm hurt but otherwise, everything seems to be working. Rolling off the bed, she hears the other two teens.

Blue pushes a small panel and the door slides open. She blinks in the bright light. The room had been divided into two halves. One was a kitchen. The other was a sitting area. More doors leading to empty rooms are just to her right. Sparky and Blades sit around a table. The broken steward bot lies on top with most of its parts hanging outside.

Sparky turns and flashes a warm smile.

“Hey, she’s up and walking.”

“Wha-hap-n?” Blue wheezes out. Pain assails her at the effort.

“Easy.” Sparky stands up beside her, “You were screaming for an hour straight. Just let your voice rest a bit.”

Sparky gently lifts Blue’s arm up and examines it. In the light, there is only the slightest discoloration just above the elbow.

“From what doctor bones over there can figure out, that stuff is a venom that inflicts a large amount of pain to disable targets.”

Blue nods her head.

“Well, you fell and curled into a ball after a few minutes of that thing chasing us. A couple more of those giant robots showed up. While they were getting torn apart, we made our escape. At that point, you fell unconscious. We found this room and have been hiding out since then.”

“And we learn some stuff,” Blade says from his place on the couch. He taps a button and a screen appears above the robot’s eye.

On one side a list of logs appears. On the other side are photos of people, of the planet, and of the ship appear.

“From what we can tell, this is a medical ship sent to the world of Athena in response to some sort of plague that the colony was suffering. It arrived in orbit about three weeks ago with rescue teams, supplies, emergency responders, and of course medical research teams. Several specimens were brought up to be examined.” He spins through the list of logs, “But then something happened. That part of the memory is damaged but it seems like there was an explosion in one of the labs. The ship’s crew and passengers were removed as containment and repair robots worked on getting things back under control.”

“And that’s all that we have found. Well, that and I found the communication link. I tapped into it and have been sending out basically a we-are-alive-help-us message. Nothing yet but hopefully someone realizes that it isn’t a glitch.”

Blue struggles with her voice and softly whispers, “You have your memories?”

Blade nods his head, “Some of it. Started coming back when I was messing with the robot. I like machines so codes and blueprints are in here.” He taps his head, “I am guessing that your memory will come back once we start doing something you like.”

“Right.” Sparky walks over the kitchen, “Right now we just rest, eat, and wait to be rescued.”

“Are we in danger?” Blue asks as she eases into a chair.

“No. According to the repair logs, the ship is fine. Damage was suffered but they reinforced the bulkheads and are already making headway with repairs in that area. As long as we stay away from that part of the ship, we should be fine. As for those animals running around, I think we are also safe.” He frowns, “Apparently where we were on the ship, we were fairly close to that broken containment area. Again. It was all standard protocol. Large damage. Get the people out. Or something like that…”

“What is it?”

“Something…Dang it. I lost it. Anyways.”

Blades push some more buttons. The logs and the photos are replaced with a diagram of the ship. A vast, square vessel with four large engines in a single line. Towards the middle of the top of the ship is a square block. The vessel has thirty decks total and five times as long as it is tall. The diagram shifts and it zooms in on one part of the ship.

“This is the research and specialized medical centers. Apparently, the specimen was on one side of the section and we were on the other.”

“So we get out of this area and we should be fine?”

Blades nods his head slowly.

“But?”

“But if they have locked this section down, we may not be able to get out.”

“Great. This is great news.” Sparky rubs her head, “Can’t remember a thing. Could be trapped with a bunch of monsters, and no way of getting off. Just great.”

“Could be worse?”

“How?”

“We could be dealing with zombies.”

Blue laughs but Sparky stares at him in confusion.

“What’s a zombie?”

“What? You’ve never–? What? How? Oh, we are going to have some fun now. Let me tell you about zombies!”

X

“Doctor. Doctor. Wake up.”

A soft groan, “Oh this had better be good.” The man rolls over sleepily, “This is my first sleep in a week.”

“I know but we have an emergency. Two survivors were mislabeled as specimens.”

“WHAT? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?” The doctor leaps to his feet.

“I don’t know. We have a team checking but right now, they are in the danger zone.”

“Has command been told?”

“Yes, and they are debating on what to do. Unfortunately, someone leaked that info and now we are getting hit with dozens of calls an hour demanding action.”

“Of course they are. Are the team leads assembled?”

“Yes, and we are pulling information packets together. And security is mobilizing.”

“Good. Get us lots of caffeine. We are going to need as much as we can get.”

“Done.”

The doctor slaps the sides of his face and marches out.

X

Monday Stories: Red Fire, Chapter Three

The vessel shakes again. Blue, Sparky, and Blades pause. All three wait for yet another report of some failure or damage. To their relief, none comes. Yet more shaking comes. The tremors come in bursts and the ship tilts back and forth.

“Oh now what?” Sparky grumbles.

“New damage?” Blue asks.

“No. I don’t think so.” Blades says from the window.

“Why is that?”

“The planet is getting smaller. One of those alerts were warning that the ship was in too low of an orbit. I think whatever is controlling ship just put us into a higher orbit.”

“Oh. Is that a good thing?”

“Yes. Means we are not going to die by falling into the world.” He grins at them.

“Yay us.” Sparky grumbles, “Instead of dying by burning up, we’ll die by getting eaten by a strange reptile creature. Or something.”

“Better chances of survival. Can’t survive a ship that isn’t going to survive.”

“Better chances? Better chances if we’re down on that planet. At least then we have an entire world to run in. We should be getting to a lifeboat. Not the bridge.”

“Assuming that the world doesn’t have its own set of reptiles that will find little humans tasty snacks.” Blades says with a chuckle, “Come on. I am sure that we are just jumping to conclusions. Right?”

“What is that world, anyway?” Blue turns away from the window, “I don’t remember what its name is.” She frowns, “Or anything else for that manner. Does anyone else remember what that world is? Or anything.”

“No.”

“Not a thing.”

“Great.” She sighs.

“Bothering you?”

“A little. I don’t like not knowing. And I don’t even know why I don’t.”

“It is a little strange but like the bots said. Suspended animation does cause amnesia. It’ll come back to us. I mean parts of it already have in a way. Airlocks. Warships. Bridge. Or the fact that we know amnesia is not unusual when being pulled out of an ice cube tray. Our memories are there. Just not clear yet.”

“True.”

A distant howl echoes down the hallway. Shivers run up and down the teens’ spines.

“And what is that?”

“I don’t know.” Sparky flexes her fists, “Where is that stupid little robot anyway? We could use some help. Especially when those things kinda almost got us eaten.”

“Come on.” Blue says as she starts walking again, “The more distance we put between us and it, the better off we’ll be.”

“Good point.” Blades looks up and down the hall, “I am a little surprised we haven’t found some sort of terminal or communication pad yet. You’d think a ship this side would have dozens. Everywhere.”

“Research ships must not have as big of a need?”

“But,” Blue says, “the robots said that there were other passengers.”

“No.” Blades said with a frown, “The robots said it was part of their protocols. Did not mean that there were other passengers. Which would explain why there aren’t any signs of them or any distant lifeboats waiting for the all clear. And the fact all of the quarters we have come across seem to be devoid of personal items. Photos, clothing, toys, or the like.”

“What can we do then?”

“What else is there? Anything we need to do is on the bridge. Finding anyone in charge. Communications. Records. Everything.”

“Fine. The bridge it is.”

“Come on.”

“Wait.”

Blue and Blades stop.

“What is it?”

“I hear something.” Sparky stares down the hall. She stiffens and orange lighting explodes from her forearms, “Something’s coming and it’s coming fast.”

At once Blue and Blades take up defensive positions.

“Got any ideas on how to deal with that thing?”

“I distract it and you two hit it.” Blades answers, “Seems lighting does more danger than my bone blades.”

“Good point. Are you a fast runner?” Sparky asks with a grin.

“I don’t know. About to find out.”

Now Blue can hear something thudding along the hallway. Seconds pass and it grows louder and quicker. Tensing for a fight, the three tense.

Around the corner comes the custodial bot buzzing along its treads. Just behind it comes to a much larger machine.

It has four legs and two arms. Massive claws tip the arms while weapons are mounted to its forearms, back, and flanks.

“Greetings!” The robot says, “You are not in the secure bunker. Why?”

“Uh.” Sparky replies as she shuts down her energy, “One of your friends led a monster that almost ate us. We trapped it in the security bunker.”

For a moment the two robots freeze and stare at the teens. The smaller custodial bot’s lens flickers with changing lights.

“Uh…” Blue murmurs, “Did we break it?”

“Maybe. Maybe not.”

“This is troublesome.” The small robot begins to pace back and forth, “That bunker is the most secure location on this vessel. If it has been compromised then you are in danger.”

“Uh what happens then?” Sparky asks.

“Standby.” The robot freezes again with its lens flickering.

“Is anyone else getting a bad feeling?”

“I had one since I popped out of my unit.”

“Please follow me.”

“Uh, we were going to the bridge.”

“Negative!” The robot spins rapidly and faces the trio, “You are not authorized to access the bridge. Please follow me.”

“Wait. Where are we going?”

The robot suddenly stops. Spins in place than hurries straight towards the teens. The larger robot lumbers forward much faster.

“Stand back. Allow the security unit to serve its purpose.”

“What?”

“What?”

“What?”

Around the corner comes a reptilian beast. This one is much larger than the other two. Large spikes extend from its shoulders and flanks. Both machine and flesh charge each other. Their footfalls shake the floor.

The two giants clash.

Claws screech against metal skin. Meaty blows as metal fists hammer against hard flesh. Back and forth in a wild dance. They spin and twists as they work to gain the advantage. Metal gears whirling and beast roars echo through the hall.

“Do we help?” Blue yells over the battle.

“Maybe. But I am not accurate enough to hit at these speeds.”

“Negative!” The little robot cuts through the sound, “Specimens are not to engage in combat. Protocol dictates that you must be placed in a secure location.”

The robot spins its tracks and begins heading down the hall. Out of a side door, a reptilian beast appears. Smaller and like the original versions they met, it charges down the hall. One foot crushes the robot. It barrels through the teens.

Blue flies through the air and slams into the wall. There is a sharp cry off to her right and a grunt from Blades. Blue cranes her neck and she sees the two creatures battling it out with the giant robot. In the ensuing fight, it has lost one arm. Blood and oil stain the ground red and blue.

“Come on!” Sparky yells, hauling Blue up to her feet, “This is not a time for a nap. Blades? What are you doing That robot is dead!”

“I know!” He yells back as he picks up the damaged unit, “We might be able to salvage part of it.”

“Like what?”

“A map! Communications!” He wheezes.

“Oh.”

The screech of metal being torn cuts into the conversation. The small reptile lies on its side with its guts ripped out. The larger one is in the process of tearing the robot in half.

“Time to go!”

“Ya think?”

The creature roars triumphantly. Its red eyes stare at them. It slowly begins to lumber forward towards them. Opening its mouth once more, green slim flies forward.

Blue screams as some of it strikes her arm. Stumbling from the pain she hears sizzling and the smell of burnt flesh. The pain suddenly explodes. Her arm feels like it is on fire. A flash of orange light flairs off as someone is pulling her back to her feet. More green streams fill the air.

“RUN!”

Blue takes two steps before agony becomes too much. She doubles over and hits the ground. A wail fills the air. She holds onto sanity just long enough to see the creature stand up over her.

Monday Stories

Every storm begins with a drop of rain
Every journey takes a step
Every tale a single word
So stories are told
And legends begin

A while back I started writing stories to see if people liked what I wrote. Part of it was to see if anyone would read what I wrote. A test whether it was worth an attempt to write a story. However, I found myself slaving away to meet my Monday deadline. Between that drive to meet the deadline and the sudden increase at work, I felt burned out and tired.

Since then I have returned to posting a new poem whenever work allowed me.

For a while, I thought about giving up blogging and writing altogether. I saw it mostly as something I did for fun and for myself. I was also getting tired of going in cycles where I would post regularly then go through spans of posting nothing.

But lately, three of my friends have been encouraging me to finish a novel and get it published. So I stand once more and I am going to commit to writing a blog. Not only that but also start using Instagram to document and to build a fanbase.

I am not sure whether I will be successful or not but I do know this:

If I don’t try, I will never succeed.

Monday Stories: High School – Chapter 05

“Amy!”

“Amy stop!”

The young teen feels a hand pulling her to a stop. She finds Maria looking at her. For a moment, her friend searches her face.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Amy turns to her locker and fiddles with the few things inside.

“Nothing? You’ve failed two quizzes and forgot your homework. You never forget your homework or get a quiz answer wrong. So what’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

Maria scowls, “Don’t give me that. You’ve been all morning. And I’m not the only one noticing. Even O’Connelly noticed and you know how dense he can be.”

Maria holds the smaller girl as she tries to back away. An icy hand clamps down around her heart as she sees the fear in her eyes again. She narrows her eyes.

“Is he back? Did he talk to you?”

“What?” Amy whispers, “How did you know?”

“Uh. You told me. And I was there for when it all went down. I thought you had a court order against him. I can talk to my dad.”

Amy shakes her head, “No. No. He hasn’t talked to us for months now.”

“Good. Now. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Please.” Amy pleads as she pulls free, “I’m okay. I’m fine.”

The teen turns and practically runs down the hall. Maria sighs in frustration and slaps the locker.

“Miss Olympia. Please refine from aggressive behavior.” A professor intones as he walks by.

“Yes, sir.” After a moment, she pulls out her communication device, “O’Connelly. You there?”

“Hello? Maria? What’s up?”

“Something is wrong with Amy.”

He mumbles.

“What?”

“Nothing. Let’s meet up with her after school.”

“And how do you plan to do that? She leaves while we’re in advance physics.”

“Right. I’ll talk to Witwright. Maybe he’ll let us out.”

“Maybe. Offer to do an extra assignment.”

“Oh, good idea.”

“Let me know what he says.”

“Will do.”

The call ends. Maria glances out the window as the bell rings.

“Amy. This isn’t like you.” With another long sigh, she turns to go to her class.

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees a dog-like creature wander through the school’s central courtyard. Maria frowns as she wonders at the unease she feels at its sight.

“Maria!”

She looks over and sees two of her classmates.

“Oh, Hey Raven. Robin.” She nods to the teens, “Just got an odd feeling when I saw that Caninitis.”

“You mean that common monster from Dungeon Field?”

Maria nods her head.

“Why would you get a weird feeling about that? That game character has been around since they launched the Immersion System.”

“I know.” She shrugs, “Like I said. Weird feeling.”

“Let’s go!” Robin says as the bell rings again, “Or we’ll be late to history.”

“Right.” Maria glances down the hall and wonders what is troubling her friend.

X

Amy stops just around the corner of the hall. She leans against a locker. The small teen takes comfort in the cold metal against her back. Maria’s voice echoes down the hallway. Her back stiffens.

“Oh. Hey Raven. Robin. Just got an odd feeling when I saw that Caninitis.”

“You mean that monster from Dungeon Field?” Robin answers.

“Why would you get a weird feeling about that?” Her sister answers, “That game character has been around since they launched the Immersion system.”

“I know. Like I said. Weird feeling.”

The bell begins to ring, a sharp shriek guaranteed to wake any dozing student.

“Let’s go! Or we’ll be late to history.”

“Right.”

”History.” Amy thinks to herself, “That is what is happening here. History is repeating itself. What did I do wrong?”

“Erm.”

Amy jumps at the sound.

A young girl with bright red hair. She smiles at Amy and gestures at the lockers. Amy stare dumbly at the redhead. She shifts her weight impatiently.

“I need to get to my locker.”

“Sorry.” Amy mumbles before turning down the hallway.

“It’s okay.” The teen quickly taps in her access code and pulls out a small folder.

Amy takes three steps down the hall when she feels herself being jerked into a side hall. Before she can make sense of what is happening, her head explodes in pain. A moment later, the world swims back into focus. The teen realizes that she is in one of the maintenance halls. She looks up and freezes.

The man from yesterday stands and grins at her.

“Imagine this.” He whispers to himself, barely audible, “Of all the people to happening to run into, I run into you.” He shrugs off the line of thought. In a clear voice, he focuses his attention on the small girl, “I see you behaving yourself. Haven’t told anyone?” He asks as he draws a long knife.

Amy shakes her head, her voice frozen in fear.

“Good.” He kneels down and places the tip of the blade underneath her chin, “I would hate to have to visit you like I visited your neighbor.” He runs his blade down the side of her neck.

Amy shivers and closes her eyes.

The man laughs and flicks his wrist.

The child yelps as the blade cuts into her flesh. Her hand automatically flies up to her throat. She feels a small trickle of blood running between her fingers. Panic feels her.

The man chuckles as he drops the blood-drenched blade into a plastic bag.

Without another word, he walks out of the hallway. Amy stays still as she listens to his footfalls echo down the hall. She finally moves long after the sounds of his feet fade into silence. The young girl opens the door and steps into the empty hallway. For a moment she debates whether to go to class or to go home.

Glancing at her hand she makes her choice.

To be continued…

Monday Stories: High School – Chapter 04

With a shrug, Amy heads towards the trailer park. The night is coming on in full. The sounds from neighboring units fill the air with noise. Televisions systems, music, and shouting matches are matched by dozens of bright lights. Dogs howl and children wail while others scream at each other.

Wincing at the onslaught of sound, the teen walks towards her unit. An old man nearby cat whistles.

“Hey baby!” He calls out, “What’s the rush? Ain’t nothin goin on in there!”

She slams the door, muffling his harsh laughter.

For a moment she stares at the trailer she calls home. Cheap wood and hard plastic are used in the construction. There are a few photos mounted on the wall in broken frames or even missing glass. In one photo a younger version of her smiles out beside two other kids. Another one shows her a few years older but missing the other kids.

With a sigh, Amy opens the nearly empty fridge and pulls out a small bag of food.

She cooks the food while the sounds of neighboring trailer units slam out harsh noise.

She glances out of the window and sees a black car roll up. The tires and headlights are rimmed in gold plating while the body of the car is painted a glossy black. The windows are tinted. Music pounds out of the speakers mounted on the sides of the car.

It comes to a stop just outside her neighbor’s unit.

From the shotgun seat, a large man emerges. Broad shouldered and six feet tall, he is imposing. His black suit and drawn pistol easily show that he is not from the unit.

Amy ducks down and turns the stove top.

She waits as the man slams on the door, barely audible over the pounding music. A moment later, the music dies away. The teen peeks over the edge of the countertop. She sees the large man returning to the car. In his hands is a large wad of cash. And bright blood on his hands.

The teen peers out at the trailer. The man is leaning heavily against the doorframe. Blood drips down from a gash over his right eye. He cradles the bloody mess that was his hand.

The man opens the door leans in then glances directly at Amy.

Alarmed, she ducks out of sight

Her heart pounds inside her chest. She closes her eyes.

“Please go away. Please go away. Please go away. Please go away. Please go away. Please go away. Please go away. Please go away. Please go away. Please go away. Please go away. Please go away.”

Bam.

The door to her trailer is kicked open. The flimsy door is nearly ripped off its hinge. The doorframe is nearly splintered to pieces. The man squeezes through the door frame and towers over her small figure.

“Hello miss.” He rumbles.

The girl forces herself to look up at him.

Scars decorate the left side of his face. His eyes are hard and cold. Thick armor plating has been added to his arms and legs. Beneath his skin and clothes are the soft glow of internal technology.

“You alone?”

Amy tries to shake her head but feels her body trembles and won’t obey her.

With a deep sigh, he leans down and grabs the front of her shirt. She yelps as he lifts her to his eye level. At this distance, she can smell the alcohol on his breath and the smell of gunsmoke.

“Did. You. See. Anything?”

She shakes her head rapidly.

He tilts his head slightly.

“I wish I could believe you. I really do.” He spins and throws her down the length of the trailer.

Pain explodes through her body as she lands in a heap in the small living room. A heartbeat later, Amy feels herself being slammed into a nearby wall. The girl hears something under the attack. She wonders if it is her body that is breaking.

The man throws her into the ground and she hears a scream.

Something hard slams into her stomach. Vomit explodes out of her mouth from the blow. She curls into a ball as pain floods her.

“Listen, you little wench. You are going to keep this and what you saw to yourself. Or you’re going to see me again.” He chuckles lightly, “And you’re never going to forget what happens when you snitch. Do you understand me?”

She nods her head slowly.

“Good. Are you going to talk?”

She shakes her head.

“Good.” He checks a device on his left arm, “Amy Gunther. Freshman at Allen Ridgeback High School. Father skipped out of town with another woman. Mom works at Ryoka as a cleaner.” He stands up and says in a casual tone, “If you tell anyone I’ll visit your school. I’ll kill everyone there. I’ll visit mommy and I’ll kill her. Slowly. And then, I’ll come here and take whatever you have of value.” He glances around, “Not that you have anything of value. I am sure you’ll be able to give me something of yours.”

Amy props herself up on her elbow and watches the car back up.

X

Amy limps through the trailer. The door is somewhat back in place. The trailer park continues as it had every night. Her device buzzing. She glances at the screen. The young girl takes a deep breath as she answers the call.

“Hi, mom.”

“Hi, honey.” Her mother sounds tired, “I’m sorry sweetie but it looks like I can’t come home tonight. Work has me here due to something in the lab. I’m not in danger but they say it is just standard procedure.” She laughs lightly, “They’re giving us pizza for dinner. And I will be able to take some home for you.”

“That’s great.”

“Amy. What’s wrong?”

The man’s face flashes through her mind. She nearly drops her phone.

“Nothing mom.” She forces out as she struggles to breathe normal, “Just tired.”

A moment passes, “Okay. Looks like we’re being called in for some paperwork. I’ll probably be home after you’re asleep. Be good. Listen and do well. I’ll see you after school tomorrow. I love you.”

“Love you too, mom.”

The phone clicks.

She puts her phone down when it vibrates.

Curious, she looks at the phone and sees that she has a new message from an unknown user. The message simply reads:

Good job at keeping your mouth shut. See you in school.

Amy drops her phone and retreats from the device. Her body trembles.

To be continued…