the onks

the onks

 

The vicious little thing, that looked like an ordinary eight years old boy, had a rotten day. He had the onks. Gnomes were prone to get the onks, especially  the young ones; and being a member of the royal family did nothing to prevent that. It was bearable in human disguise though, mingling, watching these oafs, and doing little mischiefs was entertaining enough to stand the bad days.

Continue reading “the onks”

the problem with magic

There is no such thing as magic. Not anymore… Real magic is extinct.

I haven’t seen any since… Huh, I can’t remember since when. Funny. I haven’t seen any real magic in an amazingly long time- at least one thousand years, or more. Come to think of it, it’s nearly two thousand years.

I remember Alexandria. Wait, no that’s not right. The last time I recall sensing magic was in the Middle Ages. I didn’t suspect that it’d be the last time I see someone cast a spell. It isn’t been a good, nor a very successful one, more of a petty attempt to hide money.  The man, some filthy carney, speaks the words sloppily, as if not knowing what they meant.

I was disgusted by his attempt- such poorly woven multiplying spell grafted upon a basic privacy charm. I think he tried to equally multiply and to hide his money,  but it backfired on him. Badly. That’s what happens, if you pour fresh pigeon blood over Mandragora roots and mermaid scales, before allowing the full moon to shine upon the ingredients. A spell is like a plant, you can’t just put one on top of the other, you have to wait, so they can grow together. Magic is a living thing, having its own will and its own needs. I’ve always thought Romanies had good instincts for the cycles of nature, and for magic. Obviously not this one…

The spell made his silhouette look like a huge burning shadow. That was before leaving his circus caravan and being mauled to death by two horrified wolf dogs . The man had some hilarious last words: “Not dying, abracadabra.”

If I had known, that this was the last magic user, I would have done something about that spell going wrong.

Then for a time I’ve been following some promising individuals around, alchemists, illusionists and also some scary looking old women. Despite the public opinion, they had not an ounce magic on them. I tried children next. Nothing. You cannot imagine how boring things get, without magic. My last straw were the black cats. Cats always have something peculiar about them, but nothing magical, to my disappointment.

I thought about meddling with the tides of magic, crossing the paths of darkness and light. What I got out of the equation was: war. Don’t get me wrong, I got nothing against some human tears, blood, and despair, but it’s only a cheap substitute. Nothing tastes like magic. Nothing else is able to satisfy my appetite. I have tried everything else.

How to brighten Mr. Burke up

The tiger folded his paws, cuffs slipping, showing monograms on his golden cufflinks. It made him look more elegant and sophisticated, then before. Peterson shuddered. The bureau was huge, bigger than his house. The white marble topped table was impressive, his boss enthroning the big black leather chair looked like a king holding court. And he sat on a wooden chair in front of a man, who could snap him in two, probably only with the power in his left pinky… His tail twitched nervous, licking his lips didn’t help. Peterson tried to hide in his hide, as he felt his boss’ eyes burning into his skull.

“Peterson. Do you think, this impresses me?” The tiger snorted and laid his ears back. His golden eyes pierced the weasel sitting in front of his desk. “Do you think this is ENOUGH?” The growl in his voice made the glass of the windows tremble.

“…No? Sir.” The weasel trembled too, eying the door. “Sir? May I suggest Chef Michaels prepares you an early lunch?” Peterson tried to save himself from his boss’ rage. He knew he fucked up, and the numbers were more than awful. But that didn’t mean, that he had to die for them. Hopefully… The tiger popped all claws on his left paw, and tapped the marble tabletop impatiently. He leaned back in his office chair.

“This will not suffice, Peterson. I’m disappointed with your performance.” The claws pierced the paper stack Peterson just brought with him. With a careless gesture he swept the stack to the floor. “Pick that up, Peterson.” The man swallowed audible.”You know what? Leave it. You reek like a dead dog. Have you been rolling in dead dog?”

“Uh, uh… nyes?” The man hurried to get to the door, and to close it as fast as he could behind himself. The tiger smiled an amused smile and punched a button on his intercom. “Sally, darling, please do come in, and brighten up my day.”

“Yes, Mr. Burke.” The female voice chirped through the line. The tiger got up and out of his navy blue blazer. The snow white shirt was fitting him perfectly. He loosed the golden silk tie and unbuttoned his collar. His right ear twitched. Sharp clacking sounds were approaching the door. “Ah, Sally! Please come in, come in.” He opened the door for her. Sally had both hands busy with holding and oversized bath brush, a pillow filled with catnip, and a box full of life mice. Mr Burke hugged her and lifted her from the ground. Sally thrashed a bit, then gave up, when hearing Mr. Burke’s purring.

“Sir? Mr Burke? You know that it isn’t professional, to have your toys brought to you, if you are upset,” she asked in his shoulder.

“Mhm,”he purred.

“The CEO of such a company, worth multimillion dollars in arms business, is supposed to be awe-inspiring, terrifying and mighty impressive.” She lessoned him. “Shall I have Chef Michaels prepare lunch?” He shook his head and let her very gently touch the ground. “Ready?” She wiggled the pillow a bit before she threw it into the furthest corner of the bureau.

 

Out of the Carnival and the Soul

a Chuck Wendig prompt (202 words) - here

“Pablo? Wake up, you’re gonna be late again.”

Only one person says my name like that. That soft, honey like sound, the smile at the end of the sentence. She always used her smile as punctuation.

So thirsty…

My love is gone, and I’m alone with a big ass hangover, sprawled on the couch. “Gimme five more,” I mumble out of habit, only five more minutes…Damn Carnival, I drank enough to pass out.  How did I make it back then?

I try to remember her scent and pretend I can reach out, and touch her hand, to hear her breathe. Maria…

But she’s gone.

Forever.

Killed.

I had the strangest dream. I have made a bargain with an old gipsy last night. My smile and my soul for another body and soul. I still hear the old man laughing his head off…

“Come on, hon.” The couch moves, a weight shifts to hoover over mine. Fingertips  and a brush of coconut scented hair brush my cheek? What? “Did I scare you?” I… I can’t believe it!

“Maria… How?” She’s here? Her warmths under my palm, her face… It’s real!

“Oh, sleepyhead. It was just a bad dream.”

 

cold ‘n’ empty

  • content warning (language, violence)

You are in serious trouble, when you are on foot and heading to the meanest part of town.

Blue Hill, the dangerous. Not one day without headlines of murder and mugging in Blue Hill, the bellybutton of mayhem. The tabloids are full with that kind of crap.

Well, it’s not that they aren’t right… They certainly are, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

And you are the one who knows that, far too well.

You were born there. And you worked your ass off, just to get out of there, to get good grades, a good job, a good life… A future…

But now? Your future, your dream is to be taken away? Just because some old fart is too narrow minded?  

You know that a gigantic mountain of shit is coming for you. You can smell it. It comes down your alley, to drown you, to put you in cuffs and throw you in jail for the rest of your days.

But you’ll have none of that.

It’s just bad luck, that’s all. Anybody could fall for that, you tell yourself.

There is no other way out, and you thought that through. Here you are, far past the point you could have turned things around. Just fix your eyes the future now you’re probably never have.

Nevertheless, here you are, on your way, voluntarily, at 3 o’clock in the morning, in the middle of the worst winter since God knows when.

Nasty detail, you have an appointment with a shady brute, called Pitbull Joe. Even more, you have an envelope with ten thousand Euros hidden in your jacket, just for that short sweaty bastard. 

You fucked up big time, when you are about to pay a man handsomely to kill your fiancee’s filthy rich dad.

At least it’s not snowing anymore, you tell yourself and pull your cap deeper. The icy wind finds its way into your sleeves as you pop your collar up.

Your hands shake. You notice, as you light another cig.

It’s the cold and the exhaustion, you tell yourself.

A lie.

Is it the fifth, or the eights? How stupid, you lost count already. „Not good with those numbers.“

Your voice cracks in the dimly lit street. No one hears you. „Such a mess!“ You don’t sound like yourself tonight.

Nevermind, everything will turn out just fine, you keep telling yourself. „Just once!“ You’ll be a lucky man, killing two birds with one stone.

The snow crunches under you boots. You listen to your own steps gnawing away the remaining road to Blue Hill Park and White Church. Only down the street, you can see the towering big trees.

There is one bright spot, Pitbull Joe was right. One streetlamp is lit. That marks the spot, is what he said. The brand new looking white Hummer parked nearby looks too convenient to be there on coincidence.

You stand there, alone at the intersection, not decided what to do. Your body wants to be elsewhere. Badly. Your mouth goes dry, you swallow hard. No turning back.

The car door at the back opens. A big man heaves himself outta there. A muscle man. Then Joe hops out of the Hummer. A white pit bull shoots past his legs, right towards you. Involuntary your body takes a step back. Bad move, you tell yourself. You will yourself forward. One step, then another. The pit bull stops abruptly at a short whistle. It plunks its butt into the snow, observing you, chipped ears pointing up. It looks at you like you’re a squirrel. You look over its head at the grinning short man.

„One word from me, he tears you to shreds.“ He laughs.  No, that’s something to impress junkies or whores, not you.

It’s your luck that Joe has no idea who you are. More precisely, who you were in another lifetime. Now, you look like a presentable part of society, with a nice job and good income.

„You’re wasting my time. I’m here for business.“ You tell loud enough to sound sharp and angry, but not loud enough to yell. His smile freezes. Joe looks at his companion, and shakes his head.

„Are you on your period, or what? Teach him a lesson!“ He points at you, then he turns back at you with a slick grin. „You want something from me. Remember?“

The muscle man, reaches you before you decide which way to jump. He grabs you by your collar and slams his huge fist into your stomach. Thank god you didn’t eat. Your guts feel like huge knot, pulling your knees to your chest. You lean into the muscle man’s grab for support. Pull yourself together! The ground is not your friend! Hot sour saliva drops on your expensive shoes and jeans. Your lungs refuse to let in any air. You cough. Nothing much your confused muscles could do. Somehow you keep steady, on your own legs.

„Now, that we’ve established that, let’s get to business,“ Joe says.

Still you can’t stand fully upright, as you want to, one hand clutches at the revolting guts. Pull a pokerface, things go as planned. And you did expect Joe to show off. Just keep him thinking you’re a rich spoiled brat with no dirty tricks up your sleeve. That’ll make him careless.

„I’ve got what you asked for,“ you rasp into the cold air. The vapor clouds you exhale do not dissolve. You sound miserable enough, Joe comes closer to you, grinning.

„Give.“ Joe commands. You pull the zipper of your jacket down, and take out the thick brown envelope you had in your breast pocket. You give it to him.

He opens it and pulls out the photos. Your fiancee’s dad, your father-in-law to be is smiling happily with his second wife from the pic. His home and work addresses, car types and plate numbers are printed on a paper you clipped to the photo, as well as his timetable for the coming two weeks. All the stuff you know off.

Joe looks at you. „So you want him dead.“ You nod. „He looks rich.“ You nod again. „Why do you think ten thousand are enough?“ You waited for that one. And you have the perfect answer for a scum like him. „He keeps plenty of cash at home, has paintings, and his wife has lots of nice jewels, plus the cars. You break in, when he’s at home, and kill two bird with one stone. Take what you like. I don’t care.“ You point at the photo. „Thirty thousand at home, fifty thousand at work, cash. You just have to reach out and take it. And while at it, take his life too.“

Joe squints at you. „What’s in for you?“ He asks.

„I’m taking over his company. He tried to ruin me. He has to pay.“ That seems to satisfy Joe. You didn’t exactly lie, you just didn’t tell the whole story.

„Keep watching the news.“ Joe waves at the muscle man and he lets go of you. The dog follows them as he whistles. The door of the Hummer closes and the engine comes to life. The car speeds away, down the empty road. You watch the rear lights disappear in the distance.

It’s time to go home. You’re tired. Your eyes burn. You feel cold and empty.

Your stomach still hurts. Blue Hill is a draining place.

A vacation will do you good, somewhere warm. Yes.

You’ll go on a nice three week vacation with your fiancee. Hawaii, or Maldive Islands. You have the wedding ring you bought the other day in your pocket.

You’re going to ask her, when she least expects it.

And then you are going to be a good husband and comfort her, help her over her loss.

bad faith

bad faith

*

I couldn’t wait for the wonderful taste of coffee in my mouth, even if it came from the vending machine. The first sip burnt my tongue and palate. I killed my tastebuds. Again.

I needed that hot, bitter, liquid bliss to keep me awake, so I won’t miss my bullet train. Destination? Kazakhstan, a strip of godforsaken blood and kerosine soaked land, the New I.C. Baikonur.

I got hired by Strix United for a top secret job. My paycheck was going to kick my last year’s paycheck’s ass.

The narrow platform was empty. Walking towards the passenger waiting area, I thought of lighting a cigarette. The seats looked cold and uninviting and the info screen showed 2:40 am. 3:30 the Kowaljonok Express would arrive.

Still fifty minutes to kill, so I sat down and stuffed my bag under the seat. I hooked one of my bag’s straps around one ankle. If anybody tried to snatch it, the yank would wake me.

I was battling exhaustion and it was winning. My eyes burned my head ached, my thoughts slow and sticky. It felt like my skull was stuffed with cotton candy.

For the last two days I couldn’t get any sleep, so my body was extremely tempted to fall into a slumber.

I rolled a stolen persimmon between my palm and my jeans. I had it pocketed in the Cafe, where the Strix guy gave me my tickets.

I couldn’t stop myself from yawning. Forty-four hours awake were nothing to sneeze at.

„Hey, Mihail!” A male voice from behind made me jump. I must’ve dozed off. „Where you go?” How could he sneak up on me? I squeezed the paper cup too hard. The hot liquid burnt the back of my palm and between my fingers. The coffee splashed as the cup hit concrete.

I craned my neck to express my feelings towards the stranger. A bad idea, it dawned on me a second later, but I was sleep deprived.

I felt the impact of a fist smashing into my cheek bone. My head tried to fall off, into a black starry pool. I didn’t see that coming. I groaned… Probably. It stung.

The pain sliced trough the fog of dizziness. Good for me. Now I was pissed, and didn’t need to hold back. This guy deserved what was coming, and I had an excuse to let off steam.

I ducked under his next punch and landed a body shot on the lower ribcage. With a growl he swung his arms very much like a stuffed grizzly would swat flies. No doubt, he was drunk. I could smell vodka and onions.

I caught his wrist and flung him unto my side of the seats. His surprised howl ended in a tubby whoomph. He smooched the platform.

Man, I could use a cig.

From the looks, he was someone’s muscle man, not the smart kind. Confusing me with some crook, what a jerk.

He whimpered, pulled himself into a tight knot. I tried to exhale the fire that boiled my lungs. It wasn’t working.

The man on the ground lashed out, his kick nearly crashed into my knee. For a drunk he was fast, tackling me, sending both of us flying. I smacked his ears. On my feet, I had him in a head lock. He won’t give up easily, I could tell.

“Who is Mihail,” I asked him as calm as possible.

“Dog,” he grunted and struggled.

*

“That’s no answer.” I tell the reeking drunk man in my stranglehold. He tugs at my jacket, my fingers. No one gets out of my headlock.

He calls me Mihail.

My name is not Mihail.

The polished chrome on the side of the vending machine reflects us, me and Mister Vodka here. We’re dancing, I drag him further up the platform and he shoves me back.

This happens when I’m tired, I get irritable.

I overreact.

The purple color of the guy’s head tells me, he’ll lash out. Nearly unconscious, he’ll put all his strength into one final punch. Get there first! I lean my weight unto his, so he has to balance both of us. That keeps him from hitting me, just have to squeeze a little harder.

His saliva drops from my hands on my jeans and shoes. Disgusting. Almost there, just a tiny bit more and he’s cold out. Though he is built like a bull, he isn’t used to violence. I can tell. He has no idea how to free himself. He gasps like a carp in grass. „Pomosh…”

His struggling gets weaker. “Pomosh,” he gargles. Why is he grunting for help?

I feel him relax under my grip, arms dangling. I let him keel over. He falls like a log, a vodka soaked, stupid log.

My cheek stings again, the heat eats my face, blooms into my skull. It’s going to be some nasty bruise.

I hope nothing’s broken. My vision blurs a bit, a dark cloud over my eye. The skin around it feels puffy. Dull pain throbs through my eye socket as my fingertips touch it. Shit.

People talk shit. People get funny ideas. And easy as that, they will call me pansy. This is just great! Why is this always happening to me? Look at the spilled coffee! I needed that. And the machine ate my change.

The screen on the platform shows 3:15. My train will arrive soon.

I can’t let the man lie here. He looks like an attraction.

The Russians aren’t too happy about a foreigner beating up one of their kin. Calling the police will definitely delay me, and I have a first class ticket all the way to Kazakhstan. Besides, I think they give the job to someone else, if I’m late…

“Show up or blow up.” That’s what the funny Strix guy said to me. So, Mister Vodka has to go.

I could ditch him from the other side of the platform, unto the rail tracks. He’d be out of sight…

I don’t think somebody would miss him… Much.

No worries, I’m the motherly type.

I’ll make sure he doesn’t suffocates on his own vomit. Even if he’d merit a kick in the teeth for attacking me. I’ll just drag him behind the vending machine, and leave him there.

And I need some coins for another coffee. Let’s have a look.

SCOOTER

SCOOTER

The screen flickered to life. A simulation of the landscape hidden under the thick blue methane and helium clouds unraveled itself. My custom navigation grid stretched over it, and listed all promising magnetic anomalies in the partially viscous crust. Areas of seismic instability stretched further into the polar regions. That was what the analysis program showed me in the lower right corner. I threw out my right index and thumb and the writing faded away. I did not plan to stick around to witness any crust activity.

Through the bull’s eye the surface seemed so peaceful and lush blue. It reminded me of Earth. The upper atmosphere showed a relievo ribbon of white clouds further to north to our orbiting position.

What bothered me most were the atmospheric pockets and the wind velocity, unpredictable and vicious. Even the CPU had problems showing me depressurization timely. Scooter was approaching faster than the simulations showed. Something was off. I had less time than calculated. That peacefully looking blue under me was deadly. It was ready to tear me and my glider to shreds. If anything went wrong, I could only hope for a fast death.

To my right side the com came to life. „Crap,” I sighed. Of all crew members on duty it must be him.

„What did you just say?” Rains’s guttural voice filled the tiny cabin of my glider. I didn’t have time to put up with his yapping, so I ignored him diligently. „Decker? Protocol?” The best I could do for now, but he was one annoying fellow. „Do you copy?” I’d sign him up, if there was an Olympic discipline called annoying. I bet he’d be top ten. “Decker!”

“No time, Rains.” I needed to focus. „Buckle up!” This was going to be quite a ride. I pulled my straps tighter and started the sequence. The countdown appeared on the screen. Ten seconds to detachment.

„Decker! Is this your idea of—„ I pinched my fingers together and the tone died instantly. I grinned into the video feed and watched Rains ugly face deteriorate.

Five seconds. Rains was signing me something. First he pointed at me with his index, then he seemingly slammed his middle finger into the screen. Ouch. I only could imagine how pissed he must be, losing this bet to me, so I blew him a kiss. I got to be dolphin and he had to be mother hen. My name was going down in history, not his. The first human to drift with Scooter around Neptune.

Two, one.

Trip.

A deep rattling went through my seat, and my stomach lifted off. My glider shuddered and moaned as the winds caught my wing panels. Rapid acceleration swept me to the left, and the glider bucked. Scooter’s vanguard storms caught me in a powerful stream. Air speed indicators spiraled insanely. Exceeding sound velocity! Already! Although I was sealed in properly, I felt the static charge stinging on my skin, even the air tasted sour. I imagined the sonic boom reaching Rains, making him spill his hot coffee.

Stabilizers were screaming, thrusters working at maximum performance. The blue darkened to a steel-gray. The slipstream sucked me down into the lower regions of the atmosphere and the storm picked up speed. The grey withered to a blueish black. The wind screamed around my little plane. Unbelievable! Lightning flashed inside, nearly blinding me. Everything shook, sounded as if someone was throwing rocks at me. Must be hail, methane hail. God of hull integrity stay with me.

Scooter was approaching. I was the very first human to meet it. The first one to see its funnel. Face to face with the to fastest cyclone in the solar system.

***

My cabin was lit dimly by the instruments and screens. The read-outs went head over heels. I couldn’t make out a thing, the information was changing so fast. Simulation toppled over simulation, illuminating the darkness washing in from outside. The hail went as fast as it appeared, leaving me with a cracked porthole. Between the towering cloud formations I was just a speckle thrown into a blender.

To my right Rains was still there, waving his hands frantically, mouth moving like a dying fish. I unmuted him, and a thunderous scream filled the audio feed. I jumped in my seat.„You—„

Rains looked as startled as I was. He furrowed his brows. The scream lowered in tone and volume to a metallic screeching and low-key buzzing.

„Wind? Interference?” I don’t know if I was audible. No reaction from Rains.

Then the screeching got louder and louder. It filled my cabin, my head, the console. It got so loud that I tried to put my hands over my ears, although I was in my suit.

I saw Rains muting my audio feed and staring at me.

The noise got louder and louder. It hurt. It clawed at my eardrums, tore on my nerves. The air felt hot. I smelled blood. Rains eyes bulged.

Can it get even louder? Nausea was on it’s way. Unbearable!  My stomach shook, my lungs vibrated.

I screamed.

I screamed at the noise.

I screamed at Rains.

I screamed.