Posts Tagged ‘child’

Babysitter with a Gun

Posted: July 31, 2014 by writingsprint in Science fiction
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future storyBlood covered the walls of the library. Books were in pieces. Red-splattered paper fluttered down. Xavier sprawled in the far corner of the room. He had blood on his clothes. On his face. The bodies of three people who tried to kill him were still leaking it.

He couldn’t stop shaking. “Oh God… oh God…”

Kristi ran into the room with her gun drawn. Xavier screamed as she put one bullet into the head of each of the assassins. Their heads exploded. Cybernetic implants sizzled and caught fire, puffing clouds of smoke that smelled like burned rubber. Xavier covered his eyes. He pressed his head against the wall and kept screaming. His mind plunged into the black abyss he used for his deepest psychic tuning.

“Easy, hon. Come on.” Kristi put away her gun, put him on her shoulder like a sack of grain, then drew her gun again as she walked out. Xavier held on. His eyes felt like thin metal plates that took in nothing. The carnage behind them might as well have been the stucco ceiling of his bedroom.

Half of the patrons of the library had run screaming for the exits when Xavier had blown hit squad’s heads off. Those who were left ran for cover when they saw Kristi’s gun.

Xavier’s mind cleared. He blinked. “There’s another psychic at the front of the building. He’s telling people that the hit squad is dead.”

“Block him!” Xavier shook. “Honey, do what you can. Can you be brave for me?”

He nodded. A picture of the other psychic snapped into Xavier’s mind: a bald man, younger than his father, with black rectangular—

“Left side!” he screamed.

Kristi put two shots into a man with black rectangular glasses who had been pressing his left hand to his temple, with his right hand reaching inside his jacket. A shoulder holster fell into view as he crumpled. The psychic’s light flickered out of Xavier’s mind.

Xavier screamed as Kristi fired through the library window. The crack of bullets zipped near them, close to Kristi’s face, as she turned Xavier away from the window. The shooter, a woman, twisted into a heap on the ground. Xavier thought it was awful to be sitting like that for eternity.

They made it outside to the parking lot. They walked past two dead police officers.

Finally, they reached Kristi’s car. She belted him in, then peeled out of the parking lot. “We need to get somewhere safe. Then to a phone. My implants are fried, X. The next time someone sends a hit squad, let me kill them. You fried my implants, too.”

“I’m sorry,” Xavier said. He sniffed. He realized he had snot running down his upper lip. He wiped it on his arm even thought he knew he wasn’t supposed to. “I’m sorry.”

“Relax, buddy. Plenty of time for that.”

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Humbling

Posted: June 28, 2014 by writingsprint in Slice of Life
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Winter gives us another moment of beauty and joy. It’s easy to forget how much we have to be grateful for.

Brothers and Frogs

Posted: June 22, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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boy and frogSplattered with mud and holding a frog in one hand, Bethany’s brother David ran over to hug her. Bethany screamed. David laughed and chased her halfway across the yard before her mother scooped him up.

“David, that’s enough.” She plucked the frog out of his hand and tossed it back to their fish pond. The frog hopped into some tall grass. She slapped David’s hand. He sniffed in surprise. David still smiled at Bethany.

Her hands started to itch. She scratched at her hands. Two band-aids wrapped around her left index finger and her right pinkie. “He’s going to give me another wart!” Bethany wailed.

“Don’t be silly,” her mom said. She fussed over David’s mud splatters with a paper towel.

“I can feel it coming on already!”

“Go rinse your hands with the garden hose, then. Or go wash them in the kitchen.”

“What about David?”

“I’ll worry about David.”

Bethany moaned. She ran inside and cranked up hot water from the kitchen tap until she winced. She scrubbed at her hands. “Ow.” The band-aids came off. Underneath were sores from the two warts that were halfway gone. Halfway meant they were still there. Bethany wanted to forget they were ever there at all.

The heat from the water made her hiss. “Ow!!!” She finished washing her hands. Her skin crawled all over from the thought of that frog touching her. She dried her hands with four different paper towels until they finally felt normal again. She put new band-aids on her fingers.

As she was going back outside, her mom came in, holding David in her arms. “Your brother has something he wants to say to you. Go ahead, Davey.”

“I won’ chas you wif frogs any more,” David said.

Bethany’s heart melted. She walked over and kissed the top of his head. He laughed, but tousled his hair. “Eww!” he said.

Bethany rubbed his hair. “Lucky for you you’re cute,” she said.

Photo credit: “Frog lover” by Dale Carlson at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license

only child

Posted: June 12, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
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A wonderfully told, beautifully sad moment by Evelyn Weir.

Caught It Early

Posted: March 9, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
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sick childPart two of “Don’t Mess with the Dreamcatchers”

“My head hurts.”

Carl touched Jessie’s forehead. He knew there was something wrong when she didn’t come bouncing into the bedroom to wake them up like she always did. Carl stood by the bed, with Jen behind him, both still in their pajamas.

“Is it warm?” Jen asked.

“Like the side of my mug after pouring coffee. I’ll call the doctor.”

Carl was able to get an appointment for that afternoon. While he was talking, Jen learned into the bedroom. She whispered, “She has aches and chills, too.”

Carl passed that along. When he came back to the Jessie’s room, their daughter was sitting up and moping. She looked a healthy shade of frustrated. He took it as a good sign. Jessie was a little fighter. Jen squeezed her hand.

Carl said to Jessie, “No pre-K for you, young lady. Do you want pancakes in bed for breakfast?”

She smiled. “With strawberries.”

“You got it.”

Jenny got up to get ready for work. As she walked past Carl, she said, “Text me and let me know how she’s doing, okay?”

“Yup.”

Carl and Jessie spent the morning watching Dora the Explorer while sipping fruit juice. Cold aspirin helped. She took a nap before the appointment, something she normally didn’t do in the morning.

The doctor said she had a head cold. Her sinuses were clogged, with risk of infection. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and lots of bed rest. There was no problem there. Jessie barely wanted to lift her head.

As the doctor finished the examination, Carl noticed two little red welts on her arm. They looked like bug bites. Carl asked the doctor, “Could an allergic reaction to spider bites cause this?”

The doctor shook his head. “No. There’s no anaphylaxis, swelling, diarrhea… nothing like a bug allergy. This is a classic sinus infection. You might want to call an exterminator if you think you’ve got an insect infestation, though.”

Carl stroked Jessie’s hair. She rested her head on him as he and the doctor wrapped up the appointment. Carl still felt nervous. He’d seen Jessie get sick before, but not this much, this fast. He made a mental note to buy chicken noodle soup and her favorite comfort food on the way home.

His text to Jen said, “Appointment went well. Strong infection but caught it early. Will be fine.” Jen sent back hearts and a hug icon.

Kit was dazed, too. He scratched at his face, rubbed his body and squeezed his skin, trying to get the feeling of awfulness out of his body. He knew he should be doing something about Vrajitor but he couldn’t help it. He’d never known such a horrible feeling in his young life.

“Kit!” Lady yelled.

He tried to get up. He fell.

Lady turned into a jet of black smoke. She threw herself at Vrajitor. The smoke struck him full in the chest like a sling stone. Vrajitor was knocked back. She turned back into herself, raking him with claws and snapping at him with razor-sharp fangs.

Vrajitor reached his left hand towards Kit. Kit felt weaker. The life drained out of him. He imagined the thread of gold light that was his power being pulled into Vrajitor. Vrajitor’s right hand formed a claw. Lady grabbed her throat. She looked like she was choking.

Kit could feel his life going inside Vrajitor. He felt the wizard’s greed and hate. Vrajitor disdained everything except for himself. Kit tried to pull his life back but Vrajitor’s will was too strong. Kit did see that pulling on the thread of gold light caused Vrajitor’s hold on Lady to buckle.

Kit wished as hard as he could for Lady to live. He wished for more life than he had ever known. He took the thread of gold light that was being pulled into Vrajitor and wrapped it around his hands like a cat’s cradle, with Vrajitor at the center.

Vrajitor lost his hold on Lady. She dropped to the ground, gasping for air. He tried to disentangle himself. The more he tried, the worse it got. It was the same spell Kit had used to trap fairies, only more inspired.

Once Vrajitor was hopelessly enmeshed, Kit severed the thread from his own body. It didn’t matter. Vrajitor’s magic fed the spell now.

Kit had an idea. As the Master had said, earlier Kit needed to pass judgment on the one who had wronged him.

Vrajitor shrank to the size of a fairy. The pieces of the glass jar that held the changeling came back together and closed around him. It wobbled slightly, then shivered and came to rest. Vrajitor looked at himself. They couldn’t hear him scream. Vrajitor waved his hands. A blinding flash of light made him disappear. He was still inside the jar. Another, and another. Finally, Vrajitor pounded on the glass with his fists.

cat's cradle

A giant cat’s cradle at Burning Man

angry wizard“I’ve had enough of this charade. You’re nothing but a wellspring to me, child. I’ll show you true—”

He was going to say “mastery” but Kit didn’t give him the chance. He reached out his hand, clenched his fist, and thrust his hand upward. Like a god had grabbed him, Vrajitor flew straight up into the ceiling. He hit it hard enough to crack the stone. Pebbles and chunks landed with him as he hit the ground.

Lady covered her mouth. She was so shocked all her glamour disappeared. Kit saw her as she really appeared. From the waist up, she was a young girl, dressed in delicate black cloth that faded to vapor on the edges. Her pure white skin was covered in tiny scales. Little horns peeked through her hair on her forehead. She faded into smoke from the waist down. She was some kind of demon.

“What have you done?” she asked.

Kit felt Vrajitor’s rage. He knew it wouldn’t be this easy. Kit crossed his arms in front of himself. Vrajitor roared. A shockwave that came out of his body blew everything that wasn’t nailed down across the room. Kit staggered. He’d been trying to protect himself and Lady, and hadn’t been able to keep either of them safe.

Vrajitor lifted his hand up. Streams of darkness flew out of his eyes and surrounded Kit. They wrapped around his eyes, arms and legs. Kit felt afraid, like being afraid of the dark. He felt like he was falling.

Lady slashed her hands backwards. She spun like a dancer. The streams pulled off Kit and wrapped around her, layering the cloth of her dress. Kit flung his arms out. Every window in the room opened. Some of the bricks flew out of the wall. Light poured into the room. The darkness melted away from Vrajitor’s eyes.

Kit clapped his hands. A boom of thunder went off with Vrajitor at its center. He covered his ears but laughed as he did so. “Is that all? You have much to learn, boy!” he cried. Kit tried to grab him again but Vrajitor swept it aside with a wave of his hand.

Pustules and growths sprouted all over Kit’s body. He screamed, then the sound choked under his swollen lips and tongue. He was turning into a bent creature of diseased flesh.

Instinct saved him. With the stubbornness of a child, a part of him shouted, “No!” and banished the enchantment. Pieces of rot splattered the room, then sizzled and disappeared into foul-smelling smoke. Vrajitor looked dazed.

“Today’s lesson is judgment,” Master said. He walked over to Kit. He wore the red robe today, threaded with shadows and fear. Kit trembled. Master knelt down so that he was eye to eye with Kit. His eyes felt like they looked into Kit’s soul. “You’re old enough to leave the tower. I believe you’re also old enough to pass judgment on someone who’s wronged you.” He gestured at the changeling. “Were it not for this creature, you could have spoken to your family last night. Told them you were safe. Lady, what happens when we do something wrong?”

“We’re punished,” Lady said.

Master nodded. He continued, “That’s right. Kit, you have the power within you. Judgment is issued from the powerful against those who do wrong.”

Kit’s magic swirled. Master wasn’t lying. Still, this didn’t feel right.

Lady started to say something. Master held up his hand and she quieted. He continued, “The changeling is a thief. It stole your reunion with your family. Punish him.”

The changeling and Kit stared at each other. “I don’t know how. What would I do?”

“Did you know, some punish thieves by cutting off their hands?”

Kit’s heart screamed. That felt wrong, in the worst possible way. “I don’t want to cut off his hand!”

The changeling couldn’t hear what was happening, but it could sense that something awful was happening. It started screaming. It pounded on the glass like the fairies in the hall.

Master looked at Lady. Lady asked, “What do you do to spiders?”

“I kill them.” This wasn’t right.

Kit grabbed fistfuls of his hair. He squinted his eyes shut. He had walked upstairs wanting to do something that felt normal. Now it felt like his life was going out of control again.

“Leave him alone,” he heard Lady whisper. The words died at the end. Kit opened his eyes. The scene hadn’t changed, except Master was giving her a look far less gentle than the one he’d given Kit this morning.

He let go of his hair. Kit knew exactly what he had to do. He reached toward the jar, closed a fist, and broke the glass. It rained to the floor in bits the size of sand grains.

“What is this?” Vrajitor roared.

“Mastery,” Kit said. He waved his hands. The changeling vanished. Kit had imagined, “Somewhere far away,” and “back where you came from.” He didn’t know what that looked like, but magic would know.

Changeling

Posted: December 30, 2013 by writingsprint in Fantasy, The Wizard's Family
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changelingKit started toward the boy, then stopped. He didn’t know what to do. He felt angry. Then he felt confused. He felt furious! Lady put her hand on his shoulder, but he slapped it away and ran over to the boy.

The boy had just finished capturing another firefly. He turned quickly when he heard the footsteps running up behind him. The boy took a step back, completely forgetting about the jar. Fireflies started to escape. The other boy became very still. “It’s you,” he said.

“Who are you?” Kit asked.

“I’m Kit. I took your place after Lady and the Master came for you.”

Kit looked back at the maple tree. Lady was gone. He looked around, trying to see whether she hid somewhere else or had flown away, but she was nowhere to be seen.

“You have to go before my parents see you.”

“They’re my parents! I want to meet them.”

Kit started toward the house. The other boy grabbed at his arm. Kit spun and pushed him so hard he fell to the ground.

He felt the power rising up inside him. Kit breathed. He didn’t want to start throwing things or breaking things. Lady and Master would be angry… but it didn’t matter. He didn’t care. He wanted to go home.

“What’s going on? Kit? Who are you talking to?” His father and mother came running outside. His father held a carving knife. He was tall – really tall, towering over him, with arms of ropy muscle. His hair was curly and brown.

His mother stood at his side, with alert, bright eyes. She saw Kit, the false Kit laying on the ground, and gasped. “Get away from my boy!” she cried. She scooped up the false Kit and backed up toward the house.

His father stood between them, holding up the knife. “What’s going on?

“It’s a changeling. They want to take our baby!”

The changeling wrapped its arms around his mother’s neck and started crying. “Help me, mommy!” it wailed, diving into the role.

Kit cried, “I’m not a changeling! He’s a changeling!” Hot tears ran down his face. His own family was hugging another boy. Kit’s heart tore open like a living wound. Like blood, he could feel the power spilling out all around him and he couldn’t do anything to stop it.

His father looked confused. He couldn’t seem to bear to attack him. He waved the knife but didn’t come closer. “Go away! Leave us alone!”

Kit pointed, and kept yelling, “He’s a changeling! He’s a changeling!”

Kit felt an insubstantial something spring from his hand to the changeling. In the moonlight he saw it pour like a stream of hot air, splashing all over the changeling’s body. It squealed in terror, writhing. Kit’s mother almost dropped the boy, then wished she had, as it changed from chestnut hair to hairless, and fair-skinned to gray. It’s ears pointed. The changeling’s glamour was gone.

Kit’s mother screamed a bloodcurdling sound that made the night shudder. The changeling broke free and ran, crying, “Not my fault, master! Not my fault!” Kit’s father started toward Kit. Desperate light shone in his eyes.

Kit backed up fast. “I’m your son! Father, they took me!”

“Where’s our baby?” his mother yelled at him.

“I’m your baby!”

His father seized him by the arm and twisted it so hard he almost broke it. He cried, “Give us back our son!”

“We’ll cook him on our fire until it gives him back! That kills changelings!” his mother said.

No. This couldn’t be. This couldn’t be.

Kit just reacted. He threw his father a dozen feet. He landed hard on his back, coughing and moaning. His mother ran at him.

Kit ran into the darkness, crying so hard he could barely see. He wished for trees and branches to get in his mother way. He didn’t want to. He had to. He knew what would happen if he didn’t. He heard them tangling behind him. Trees skittered out of his way. Kit might as well have had his own path to run through.

“Where is our son?” his mother screamed. “Give us back our son, you demon!”

Kit ran forever.

Far in the shadows away from the cabin, Lady sniffed back tears, her hands clenched in fists, as she watched Kit run off. He would be easy enough to find, especially under tonight’s moon. She had hated taking him as a baby, years ago. It could only have ended this way. It didn’t make it better.

Master Vrajitor stood next to her. Lady’s stifled a tremble in her voice. “It worked. Now we’re his family. He has no one else to turn to. He’ll need us more than ever.”

“You did well, Lady. This was an excellent plan. Bring him back to the tower by morning.”

“Yes, master Vrajitor. What about the family?”

“They are nothing. The boy is all that matters.”

Lady said nothing. The Master took her hand to kiss it. It took every ounce of strength Lady had not to snatch it back, as well as memories of pain at this man’s hands. She bowed her head, and summoned a sweet smile.

The Master flew away. When he flew out of sight, she shuddered. Lady wrung her hands over and over, trying to scrub off the feeling of his touch.

A Cabin in Wild Country

Posted: December 28, 2013 by writingsprint in Fantasy, The Wizard's Family
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The moon had moved part of the way across the sky when he heard his door slide open. Kit sat up in bed. Lady was halfway between the door and his bedside when he looked up at her. “Are you ready?”

“Yes. You took a long time.”

“I had to make sure Master Vrajitor was asleep. Are you ready?”

“Yes.” He hadn’t thought about Master Vrajitor. Kit realized he would have to think farther ahead as a real wizard. “How did you make sure?”

“A very special spell. He’ll never know he was enchanted.” She reached out to him. “Take my hand.” Kit did. The two of them lifted up into the air. “This is your last chance, Kit. You may not like what you find tonight.”

“I want to go.”

They flew out the window. The moonlight held them up, a current of pale blue streaming across the earth. Lady seemed in her element. Kit could hear her singing to herself. When her voice lifted, they rose. When it deepened, they dove. When she singsonged, they wove between trees and rocks and things in the night that Kit couldn’t see. She became ethereal, part of the night.

They flew over a village some miles from the tower. Most people were asleep. Here and there Kit saw fire light coming from windows. He smelled chimney smoke. Kit tried to look in the windows to see other people. He rarely spoke to anyone besides Morgrim, Lady and the Master and the idea excited him.

“Not here. Soon,” Lady said.

They continued on. They flew deeper into the country, into wilder regions. The ground rose and fell in rough, rocky hills. Kit heard wolves howling in the distance. One pack howled; another answered. He even saw a witch flying on a broomstick. At first he thought it was a trick of the moonlight, but when he focused his attention there, she shot away, giving them a wide berth.

He smelled smoke again. Lady slowed down. They settled in the air, hanging on invisible threads of her singing mixed with moonlight. Kit looked around. They were over light woods in hilly country. It wasn’t good land for farming or cutting wood. He could hear a creek nearby. A hunter might live here, or someone who just wanted to be alone. “Are we here?” Kit asked.

“Yes. This is where we found you.” She pointed through the trees. Kit saw a humble cabin. A small garden was staked in the back and a pen for small animals. The window shutters were open to let in the air from the hot summer night. His heart leaped as he saw someone walk by one of them.