Finish That Thought: A New Old Life

The gate still squeaked. Curses at the betraying sound ran through Tara’s mind as she crawled through the opening to the cemetery.  Her head swiveled left and right, searching for any sign of pursuit. The woods surrounding the edges of graveyard seemed clear, but she didn’t relax.

Barb never saw it coming when he…it took her.

Tara didn’t know what kind of power it possessed; she only knew the ravenous hunger that gleamed in its reptilian eyes. She wished Barb had never found that damned book. They should be at the mall, scarfing junk at the food court and hitting on guys.

But Barb wanted to visit that rare bookstore and find a book on demons for her boyfriend. He loved to play a game called Dragon Dungeons or something like that, and she felt the need to join his world. The two of them chanted one of the spells as a goof.

The lights dimmed and hell-light poured from the floor. A rip opened in the ground, and a clawed hand wiggled out. Tara remembered that first scream. Barb’s parents came running in as Tara and Barb burst out.

Barb’s parents were the first victims. Tara remembered those screams as well.

They ran out of the house and down the street. A red-scaled, bat-winged thing chased after them, but only Tara seemed to see it. They ran past people who looked puzzled about why two girls would run down the street in their pajamas, but no one screamed as the creature flew past.

They’d made it two blocks before it caught Barb in its talons, pulling her into the sky. Tara tried to grab Barb’s flailing foot, but couldn’t hold on.

So she ran. She headed for the cemetery, half-remembered stories about holy ground giving her hope. She twisted her ankle when she missed a gouge in the sidewalk, but she limped on. Soon the pain forced her to crawl.

She huddled against an angel statue and prayed for the nightmare to be over. A whimper escaped when she saw the demon fly over the fence and bull through headstones in its search. Stone crumbled and Tara swore she heard the cries of the damned as the beast crossed over their graves.

Its shadow fell over her, and she closed her eyes. Death didn’t strike, so she peeked to see the demon kneeling before her. One black nail reached out to touch her ankle. She felt energy sizzle and course through her body, taking away her pain and flashing memories of women roped to logs as fire kissed their flesh.

Tara’s eyes popped open and she cackled. Her hand caressed the demon’s face, and she allowed her servant to take her in its arms.

They flew deep into the night.

For Finish That Thought #29 at Musings of Alissa Leonard. The prompt this week: “The gate still squeaked.” to be used as the first line. The special challenge is to write the story without dialogue. The Grand Champion of the week chooses the prompt and challenge for the next week, as well as serving as judge.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

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Finish That Thought #28: Family Pack

Nothing good ever happens after midnight, Mel thought as she huddled under the blankets. She whimpered at a scratching sound against her window, but peeked out to see what caused it. The neighbor’s tabby peered back at her, and she sighed in relief. She clicked on her lamp, threw back the covers, and padded over to the window, navigating around the stuffed animals strewn about the floor. “Mr. Mittens, what are you doing out here at this time of night?”

She opened the pane, but Mr. Mittens didn’t jump into her room. He just stared at her, ears flicking. “What is it, sweetie?” Mel reached out to pet the orange fur, but the cat hissed at her, hair standing on end. “Fine! Be that way.”

She reached up to close the window, but a gloved hand filled with a soaked rag snaked around her mouth and nose, pulling her back. She struggled until darkness overtook her.

***

Tiny feet pattering on her chest stirred Mel to wakefulness. She opened her eyes to see a gray-furred mouse skittering on top of her body. She screamed, the mind-fog burned away by her fear and disgust. She bolted up, slapping at the violated area and hopping around as shudders racked her body.

When she calmed, she started looking at her surroundings. Her arms wrapped around her thin torso as she took in the slime-stained stone walls, the rough granite broken only by a small opening covered by thick, rusted bars. “Mommy? Daddy?” she whispered.

She shivered, her nightgown scant protection against the cold. A thin sliver of moonlight shone on a barred wooden door, and panic overtook her. She rushed over and pounded against the wood, screaming, “LET ME OUT! PLEASE!”

A small opening in the door squeaked open, familiar eyes peeking in, before disappearing again. “Mom? Mom! What’s going on?”

“IT IS NOT YET TIME. MIDNIGHT WILL REVEAL ALL.”

Mel’s head swung around, searching for the source of her father’s voice. “Dad? What does that mean?”

Silence answered her. She trudged into a corner, wet tracks on her cheeks. She slid down the wall and buried her face in her drawn-up knees. Sleep overcame her as confusion and grief ran their course.

A red-hot stab of pain slapped her out of sleep. She flopped to the floor, writhing as her bones cracked and popped. She bit back a scream, and blood poured down her chin from shredded lips. Fingernails shredded as she scratched the walls, crimson streaks marking her efforts.

She gagged as the smell of dirty fur assaulted her nostrils. A tiny mouse scurried across the floor. Mel howled and pounced, just missing the creature as another iron-hot burst shot through her chest. The door swung open and two bipedal wolf-like creatures panted in anticipation.

Mel growled and the larger wolf-creature barked at her. She lowered her head at the sound. The pair grinned and loped down the hallway. Mel, the brand-new werewolf pup, trotted after her parents.

 

For Finish That Thought #28 at Musings of Alissa Leonard. The prompt, to be used as the first sentence: “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.”

There is also a special challenge feature. This week’s: incorporate at least three small, furry animals (Please don’t kill them).

The challenge opens late Monday and runs through Tuesday. The previous week’s Grand Champion provide the prompt and special challenge. They also serve as the judge for those prompts provided. Head on over and give it a look.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Note: I Am The Law!

We interrupt your regular reading schedule for a little “shameless self-promotion.”

The Finish That Thought #27 challenge should open tonight at midnight and run for 24 hours (all day Tuesday). As last week’s winner, I am serving as the judge for the writing part and the “special” challenge. Head on over to the Musings of Alissa Leonard a little later and take part. I’d love to see some familiar names (although I will be a fair and impartial judge 😀 ). I imagine it will go something like this:

This has been a little “shameless self-promotion.” We now return you to your regularly scheduled reading.

Note: Judgement Day

We interrupt your regularly scheduled reading for a little “shameless promotion” (not just for myself this time 😉 ).

Next week I will be judging the “Finish That Thought” challenge over at Musings of Alissa Leonard. I also provide the sentence prompt and the “special” challenge (hint: brush up on your mythology, kids!) for the week. I’ll let Alissa reveal the particulars next Tuesday. The challenge will run for 24 hours (all day) and then I’ll have to wade through entries and come up with my pick by Thursday at the latest.

Click on the first link to read the full set of rules and the second for Alissa’s general blog area.

 

Hope to see some of you there next week!

This ends our “shameless promotion.” We now return you to your regularly scheduled reading.

Finish That Thought: Drums of War (Pangaea)

“I thought pegasi were tough to ride until the Army got their first shipment of wyverns,” Flaxx groused while swallowing his braised nightworm. It wiggled down his throat in a pleasant manner.

“Tell me about it,” Anteraxx commiserated. “We’ve been using the damnable things in the Flotilla for a while now. ‘They’re better armored’ the pols caw at us. ‘Greater survivability when facing the featherless demon-fire.'” His throat-feathers rose in disgust. “Bah. I don’t see them diving into a clutch of humans while trying to bank a beast with the maneuverability of an out-nest.”

Flaxx tweeted his agreement around the regurgitated remains of his meal. The nest-brothers strode the streets of Teryx, capitol of the Aviar Empire. Merchants hawked their wares while bright-plumed citizens bustled about their business, many harrying their dull-feathered slaves.

Anteraxx chirped as one such slave, smaller than he by half and blinded by her master’s purchases, bumped into him. His talons clenched and his fist lashed out, sending her sprawling. “Mind your betters!”

“My apologies,” she screeched. “I abase myself before you and beg forgiveness!”

Flaxx shot his sibling a quelling glare. “Easy, brother. Act befitting your station.” He knelt and gathered up some of the scattered packages. “We serve to protect all the Aviar Empire, even the slave-caste.” He handed the fledgling’s burden back to her. “Run along, little one, but mind where you’re going.”

She bowed and backed away four paces before stepping aside to let them pass. Anteraxx waited until she was out of listening distance, then turned to Flaxx. “What was that all about? Helping one of them! Have you taken leave of your senses, brother?”

Flaxx craned his head to and fro before answering. “There are rumors, Anteraxx,” he began quietly.

“What rumors?”

Flaxx nodded at a slave auction occurring in the park nearby. “That some of the slaves are leaving the nest to join with the human interlopers. I hear there was a riot down in Alandra not two weeks ago.”

Anteraxx spat on the ground. “Bah. They can have the worthless seed-eaters.”

Flaxx fell silent as they neared a flock gathered around a raised platform holding an orating senator. “…the human interlopers profess to want peace, but their actions brand them as liars! They take our lands, our slaves, our very livelihood!” The senator twisted his neck to gaze at those behind him. “We must resolve ourselves to fight this barbarian menace ’til the last feather falls! Our very way of life depends on it!” His neck snapped back to its normal position. “Are you with me!”

A chorus of chirps and tweets greeted his pronouncement. The senator shook his head as if dismayed. “I asked you, people of Teryx, height of civilization, ARE YOU WITH ME?”

The cheeps turned to a cacophony of screeches, none louder than Anteraxx’s cry. Flaxx bowed his head. “I guess it is to be a full war then,” he muttered.

Word Count: 487

My entry for Finish That Thought #26 over at the Musings of Alissa Leonard blog. The challenge: Use the sentence provided as your first sentence and create a 500 word or less story out of it. She also has extra challenges she throws in: This week’s Special Challenge is to make the protagonist non-human. The “Festive” Challenge is to use the words “resolution” or “resolve” anywhere within the story. Check it out and enter your own. The challenge closes at midnight Eastern time.

This particular story takes place on Pangaea, the world I created for the Daily Post’s “Interplanet Janet” prompt. You can see the world creation process here and the introductory story to the world, from the human side, here.

Looks like it’s time for another folder.

Hope you enjoy.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn