Another prompt, another round of great stories to choose from. Check the stories out below and vote for your favorite!
Important Note: This will be the last #SwiftFicFriday for a while. Not sure how long the hiatus will last, but we’ll be back in 2023! Voting will remain open until next week!
Countdown To….279 words by Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea)
Lucas Snelgrove woke up one morning with only one thought: life had become a series of counting episodes.
He wondered how it had come to this.
He could remember the boy he once was, oblivious to time, to rules, to restraint.
The only thing that counted was having fun.
Swimming, for example.
He had been blessed growing up to have rivers, lakes, abandoned reservoirs, and the ocean in which to swim.
At some point in his middle years, with no easy access to outdoor waterways, he began doing laps at the community pool.
What else could one do in a chlorinated tub but keep track of your turns?
Measuring swimming that way took all the fun out of being wet, of the gracefulness of swimming.
Perhaps that was the beginning.
Certainly of his depressing transformation into a fanatical counter of things.
And now, in his last quarter of time, he was fully immersed in tracking his every movement, every action.
He had a kismo to count his steps.
He was counting calories.
He was counting his daily blood pressure.
He was counting pills, parceling them out into little plastic containers.
He was, as he always had been, counting the hours.
He had always been an inveterate clock watcher. Over the years, those without watches would invariably ask him, “Lucas, you got the time?”
Of course, he had the time.
Now though, time was running short.
That morning the epiphany was complete.
It was time to be released, to count on nothing but the pleasures to be had in freedom from time’s noose.
There was only the final countdown and that would take care of itself.
You want to get to the end, but you have to wait. It’s not time yet.
Ooooh – one step closer to the end. I know you’re in a hurry, and your body is oh-so-ready.
Time to take it slow. Draw it out. That’s it. Feather-light touches. Up. Down. Up. And. Down.
Stop! Stop entirely. I know you can feel how slick it’s getting. How close your body is to release. But think about how good it’s going to feel if we can draw it out just a little longer. You do trust that I know what I’m doing, don’t you?
Okay! Super-fast! Go! You can do this! Faster than that! You’re almost there. Almost there. You can feel your body ready to cross over. Almost.
But not yet. Slow down. I know you are screaming with need. The walls echo with it.
Stopping again. Still touching, but not moving. Try to breathe evenly. It will help you last longer. I’m not ready for you to be done yet, so you can’t be done. Not yet.
Building up slowly. Light touches again. Oh my god, you’re so ready, aren’t you? So. Very. Close.
Faster! As fast as possible! Go! But we’re not at zero yet! No, you can’t!
What did I do wrong? Why couldn’t I get him to the end on my timing?
I did what? I used the big knife and not the…
Dammit. I always mix them up. I thought his skin was coming off too quickly, but it’s hard to see with all that blood.
I know the final is on Monday. I’ll be ready. I’ll focus on using the right knives all weekend. I swear.
Oh, you have people I can practice on? Thank you!300 words by drmag00 (@drmag00)
Poppy Briar sighed heavily as she trudged north through the underbrush. The forest was mostly accommodating. Poppy’s ponderous pack, less so. Did she really need everything Odbart supplied her?
The little fairy’s wings and legs ached from switching off over the long day. More than once, she’d considered shifting up to a larger form. Eladrin court size just felt too formal for a wilderness adventure.
A hungry snarl froze Poppy in her tracks. Not when she was tired! Two, three pairs of feline eyes shone from the undergrowth shadows.
“Nope!” Poppy declared, dropping her pack and darting straight up to the canopy.
Two more shadow cats pounced on Poppy’s pack almost before she was clear. Five. There were five of them overall. Each was about as long as Poppy was tall, not counting their tails, and darkness burned over their bodies like inverse fire.
“Hey! Come on, now!” Poppy protested her assailants’ clawing at her pack. “I need that!”
These cats weren’t hungry; they were ornery! The window for negotiation also seemed closed. Poppy scrunched her face seriously.
Poppy conjured one magical vine and another to pull the cats off her pack. She hauled them high enough for the drop to convince them to leave without hurting them. Four, three cats remained!
Fistfuls of fire from either hand close enough to make her point reduced the count by another two. One left! Where was it?
An echoing yowl preceded fangs and claws flying at Poppy’s back from a high branch.
“No, you don’t!”
Poppy caught the final feline with another vine while barrel-rolling out of its way. Lowering, rather than hurling, it to the ground encouraged the last shadow cat to run off.
Returning to her pack, the fairy grew glumly to her full five-foot height.298 words by David A Ludwig (@DavidALudwig)
Kyoto slapped my face. I opened my eyes. I just wanted to be left alone in peace. His hands were dancing like doves in the half-light, slicing through the shade in the room. It was almost enough for him to beguile me and anchor my attention for a few minutes more. He was shadow and ice, with a side-order of fear and danger.
Slap. Again, with the hands. I raised my chin from my chest, not realising I’d blanked out again. I was finding it difficult to maintain a continuous thread of thoughts without it breaking. The hammering of the pump had become white noise, driving a blizzard of dark sleet through my head. I just wanted to sink out of consciousness and pass away.
“It’s only two litres so far,” he said, frowning. “You can do five – I read it in anatomy books.”
“Please,” I said. “End this now. You can do this without my help.”
He shook his head. “No. You can do more. I need to know how you feel. For the experiment.”
The Experiment. His experiment, not mine. A quantitative study of blood loss in a British male. He would get more subjects and then expand his research into other races. He was going to become a trauma specialist or a surgeon. He thought there might be a racial correlation in how much a subject could endure before passing out or becoming ineffective. He could sell his studies to the Ministry of Defence or use it to extract a stipend from them to fund his research. Either way, he could use this to make a living for the rest of his life.
He said I was his first subject. I should feel privileged.
“Let’s begin again,” he said. “Counting backwards in seventeens from five hundred.”300 words by Mark A Morris
It happened because of one of their same stupid fights.
Brad was sick of her yelling at him almost every day about dumb shit. Who cares about a wet towel on the floor as much as she does? Not like the freaking queen was visiting! So when she thrust the towel at him, he instinctively pushed her hand away, causing her to slip on the wet tile and crack her head against the toilet bowl before landing face-up on the floor.
Blood gushed front a gash in her dented forehead and snaked around the toilet.
“Paula, oh my god! I’m so sorry!” He knelt beside her put her head in his lap. “Wake up, sweetie. You’re okay.” Brad lightly tapped her cheeks, trying to rouse her. He held his ear to her mouth and was thankfully to hear some shallow breathing.
“I’m going to call 911.” He gently put her head back on the floor and shut the bathroom door behind him on his way to the kitchen.
He gave his information to the dispatcher.
“Is she breathing, sir?”
“She was a minute ago.”
“Go check but keep me on the line with you.”
He put his hand on the doorknob but couldn’t turn it. Once he opened the door, he would know for sure if Paula were dead or alive. He couldn’t bear it if she were dead at his hand, even accidentally. But he also couldn’t bear how she would hate him for what he did to her if she were alive.
“I can’t,” he whispered.
“Sir! Go in right now and check on your wife.”
He heard the sirens in the distance and knew he didn’t have much time.
With a harsh sob in his throat, he opened the door.293 words by Sheri White (@sheriw1965)
1 thought on “#SwiftFicFriday W144 – Vote!”
Have a great break…
LikeLiked by 2 people