Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!
300 words, by David A Ludwig (@DavidALudwig)
The knots in Jinx’s stomach doubled over one another and tightened. The black bunny, Natazla, convinced Oaklie to let Jinx go into the mine to find her mom alone. Why was she suddenly so apprehensive about seeing her mom again? Was it her mom’s enthusiasm for Jinx’s unsettling new powers? At least her cat, Blackie, stuck close, hackles raised, and stiff tail as puffed up as Jinx had ever seen it.
Blackie’s eyes were bright in the darkness of the old tunnel. Jinx was surprised how well she could see, having left the light of the entrance behind. Holding a hand near her face she found a faint silvery shine emanating from her eyes. Also, the interval between the entrance and the place where Jinx’s mother waited was short and straight enough she could have navigated blind.
The chamber was wider and higher than the tunnel and filled with icy illumination. Jinx’s mother stood in the center of the room on what looked like a radiant mirror. Her checkered top and cutoff denim shorts were like she used to wear at neighborhood barbeques, but nicer than Jinx remembered.
“Welcome, my darling girl.”
Malain’s smile was sinister. Blackie hissed. Jinx felt a stabbing pain in her chest and her breath dragged from her body. She floated on a cushion of light that swelled into a pillar around her. Jinx could only focus on the terrible power surging through and around her.
A beam of emerald light from over Jinx’s shoulder struck between Malain’s feet. The image of Jinx’s mother vanished with the sound of breaking glass, leaving behind a solitary arrow in the suddenly ordinary cave puddle. The power holding Jinx faded, and she fell into Vedania’s arms. The archer sneered at the space above her arrow.
“I abhor that woman.”
297 words, by Siobhan Muir (@SiobhanMuir)
“Motherfucker!” The terrorist staggered backwards with his hands over his face.
Not today, asshole. Hermione reversed the rifle and flipped it over to squeeze a few shots into his knees. He screamed as he went down and she followed it up with another blow to his nose. He crumpled and she stepped over him to get to the people in the tunnel.
“All right, everyone out. We don’t have much time. We’re not staying so head to the far end of the hallway into the next tunnel.” She held the door open to the researchers. “Hurry. Let’s go.”
She let them stream past her, but kept her eye on Dr. Miller. There was something off about the woman. Hermione felt it in her gut and she’d been saved too many times by it to ignore it. Dr. Martell met her gaze and flashed her a short smile in greeting as he and the pompous ass carried Tessa through the doors. For some reason, his acknowledgement warmed her heart and made her feel all gooey inside.
What the hell is wrong with me? She abhorred feeling soft and gooey on missions.
“Bentley.” She barked it more sharply than she meant to as the guard closed on her.
“Other than the electronic locks, is there any way to secure these doors and keep our pursuers from following us? Or at least slow them down?”
“How do you know someone’s following us?”
She shot a look at the people flowing down the hallway. “The two hicks I just took out said an inside man has infiltrated our group.”
He blanched white. “Which man is it?”
She shook her head as they entered Building Three. “No idea. But don’t discount the women. They make better spies than most men.”
298 words, by Mark Ethridge (@mysoulstears)
In my experience humans abhor a mystery. When presented with something they can’t explain, they make shit up, or they wave their hands and proclaim, “It’s the work of God!”
Among my favorite human comedies is the story of face masks, which illustrates resoundingly well how humans abhor what they can’t explain.
Face masks are not perfect. Imperfection is expected where fallible, excitable, emotional, exhaustible humans are concerned. As humans can’t agree on basic definitions, such as what intelligence is, I find it surprising how well masks work. They do an amazing job of stopping viruses and bacteria spread through the invisible drops of moisture in their breaths. The masks stop most of the drops, though not all of them. If the masks stopped all the drops, they would also stop the flow of air, killing those who wore them.
I found it striking how humans had physical confrontations over whether or not to wear a mask. Some humans don’t understand how viruses and bacteria spread through the moisture in their breaths. They concluded the spread was caused by the motion of air currents.
The humans who could not comprehend that water droplets in the air can be removed from the air, with no adverse effects on people, went out and made up explanations for how masks work.
They used infrared and wide spectrum cameras to observe the motion of air when people breathed with and without masks on, proving masks did not stop the motion of the air.
Lacking an understanding that masks effectively stop most water droplets without stopping air flow, these humans declared masks didn’t work, they refused to wear them. Which explains why so many of them died of a simple, airborne virus.
They made shit up. It was wrong. Some of them died.
298 words by Joseph P Garland (@JPGarlandAuthor)
It was late when I got home. She was still out or in bed, with the apartment black as it was. I turned the hall light on and got water in the fridge.
I almost had a heart attack. She turned on the light next to the sofa, her face shadowed. I wasn’t sure if she was drunk, but wasn’t sure she wasn’t.
“How was your date?” I asked.
“I’m home. What does that say? How was yours?”
“It was fine.”
“‘Fine’? Your date with him was just ‘fine’?”
I had the water. I pushed the coffee table back so I could sit on it in front of her.
“Why do you hate him so?”
“I don’t hate him.”
“You’re a liar. You don’t have a nice word to say about him. You hate that I still speak to him let alone go on dates with him.”
She looked at me. She had a glass of milk on the side table and turned to lift it.
“You deal with him after what happened between him and me. I’m okay with that. Barely okay. But okay.”
“So. Why are you hassling me about it.”
She drank some of her milk and returned the glass to the table. She leaned forward, nearly touching my knees.
“I do not hate him.”
“Then why this scene about him?”
Her eyes made me nervous. She stood and was between my legs before I could react. She grabbed my cheeks and for the first time she frightened me.
“I don’t hate him. I abhor him. You can see him again if you want. But don’t ever mention his name to me again.”
She pulled her hand away. I nodded.
“Just so we’re clear.”
She left for her room. I began to shake.