Let the World Hurry By

Writing Prompt: As long as you are inside your house, time doesn’t pass in the outside world. As long as you are in the outside world, time doesn’t pass in your house. (source)

 

It had been three months before she returned to the outside world. She checked her her pocketbook which sat on the counter besides the front door, and flipped to the latest entry. “You left the party to ‘check on Philip’ everybody knows why you really left, but they’ll play along with you anyways.” She placed her hand on the doorknob, closed her eyes and filled her lungs with air.

She forced herself to remember what had happened, the gap between her exit and now had been filled with books and movies, with a few stories of her own she had created herself, but never written more than a page or two before she returned to the couch to watch another Harry Potter movie for the thousandth time. She liked staying indoor and she loved her house.

The house had been her grandmother’s, it had been a place that no matter how much she and the outside world changed it had remained the same. The sleepy country town became consumed with the urban sprawl. The farmers cut their last harvest of corn and planted a new crop of cement and rebar. The old water tower dismantlement and in its place a beaming new twelve floor building. Her childhood school razed and replaced with a brand new shopping mall. The town had moved on, and yet her grandmother refused to.

Stephanie would spend her summers at the house, she would swing on the tire swing in the day, at night she’d read by the fireplace with Philip in her lap. When she felt adventurous she’d play in the farmer’s field just down the road until the farmer had noticed and chased her off. She even had her first kiss on the porch swing, to Anthony, the son to the farmer who had chased her away many times. She would not see Anthony again when she returned to her grandmother’s the next summer. The crops all had been reaped and in their places sat strange raised lumps of dirt with wooden frames and white pipes sticking through them.

When it was time for her grandmother to move on, the house had been bequeath to Stephanie. “May you enjoy the timeless treasure of the house,” the note read, “and may it comfort you in times of need.”

The house had become a safe haven for her whenever she felt her lungs grow tight and needed a break from it all. Awkward dates, parties with too many people she didn’t know, a hard day at work, no matter what it was she knew she could always come home and take as much time as she needed before returning to the outside world. She didn’t have to work about food, the pantry and fridge were always well stocked. She’d return home, watch a movie or two, sleep through the night, write in her journal. She’d stay as long as she needed before she returned back to the outside world, sometimes it was minutes, other times it was years. Once she felt the time was right she’d return to the restaurant, bar, movie, theater, office, or wherever she was last, and they’d always ask her the same question, “How’s Phillip?”

She made she to keep her pocketbook with her at all times, and jot down the last thing that happened before she left. A habit she had learned after she had returned to a meeting that had go awry. Her boss had blown up at a client and she had felt the same tight sensation within her chest, she had asked to leave, and when she returned four months later her boss was still yelling at the client. Her boss had blown up at her that evening for going home and changing clothes. She never wanted that to happen again so she bought a little magenta pocketbook that she kept notes of what she had worn the day she had left, and later filled it with details of the moments before leaving. She returned home that night and didn’t leave for a whole year.

This time she had returned home because the party had grown too big, too many people she didn’t know. It was supposed to be a friend’s surprise party, but Stephanie had been the one most surprised with the shear number of new faces. The crowd had grown overwhelming, so she told her friend that she had to go check on Philip. And so she left.

Stephanie exhaled and opened her eyes, a soft soothing sensation of delicate fur rubbed against her feet. She leaned down and gave Philip a nice pet behind his ears, the cat purred. “I’ll be back,” she said and opened the door, and returned to the party.

The Subtle Silhouette

Writing Prompt: Working for an up-and-coming tyrannical overlord is hard, thankless, morally troubling work, but at least you get dental. (source)

 

It ain’t easy being a henchman, especially a being a henchman for a start up super villain. The world of villainy isn’t an easy one to get into either, with so many established villains having everything from death rays to super computers available to them all the while we gotta make due with a handful of puny stun shockers and a twenty sixteen MacBook as our most powerful computer.

But being a top tier villain isn’t about how many fancy shooters you have, nor how quickly you can computer the best way to pull a meteor into the Earth’s gravitational pull in order to hold the world ransom. No sir. Being a villain is all about being clever, having finesse, and a drive to work day in and day out to make sure that the world is bent a little closer to your making than it was the day before.

I’m what you could call a professional henchman. I’ve worked with many villains, some you’ve heard of like The Savage Beast or Dr Hammer, others not so well known. The problem with folks like Dr Hammer is yeah, they’re pretty damn good at what they do, it takes a lot a lot of grit to build an army in secret and unleash terror upon a small Scandinavian nation with subliminal hypnosis so that way once you march your highly trained and well outfitted army in they would rather raise the white flag than fight you. That sir takes a lot of work and I admire it. Hell, I was there when it happened, I marched straight into the front lines, my armor brandishing the big ol’ DH on front, my lighting spear armed and ready to strike the first solider to look me in the eyes. I didn’t get half a mile in before I had been informed that the invasion had ended with a swift surrender.

Now every villain wants their own little nation for their own, and it’s annoying. I’m like guys, can you stop being such copy cats? What Dr Hammer did was an enormous feat that was accomplished after decades of planning and hard work, you can’t just walk into a capital and demand to be the ruler of their nation. You’ll be laughed out by the parliament and promptly punched in the face by a local hero or two. Pfft, I hate trendy villains. I like the new things, the new kids on the block with the fresh ideas. After my invasion with Dr Hammer I’ve been on the prowl for that kid on the block, somebody with earth shattering ideas that have never been done before.

I delved into a few other small time villains since that invasion, but none of them stuck. Most either got crushed by heroes, or eventually got absorbed into larger operations. Nobody had the grit and tenacity that Dr Hammer had. Not until I joined forces with her.

She calls herself the Subtle Silhouette, now not the most original name, but don’t let that fool ya. She’s got a bright mind. The Silhouette’s is a genius in nanotech that’s light years beyond Dr Hammer’s military might. You’ve probably never seen her before because she doesn’t like the spotlight that much. The real villains in my opinion are not about the flair. Flair looks good on TV but you’ll never get past ruling a city block if all what you focus is on flair.

She’s got this grand idea, she sees a future of where all she can do whatever she wants whenever she wants. How you ask? Through them nanobots. You see, with the right bots planted into somebody’s bloodstream they can silently influence somebody to behave however she want them to by adjusting their hormone levels and whatnot. No hypnosis needed!

She doesn’t want to take over the world like good ol’ DH, at least not in the classical sense. If you get these nanomachines in enough folks bloodstreams you can have complete control of the world any nobody would be none the wiser.

The tech’s still in its early phases, and we’re in a dire need of more resources, so the lady’s got me running b&e missions to steal more materials and better equipment. But we got a grand plan ahead of us, and with her drive I believe, nae, I know she’ll make Dr Hammer look like a first grader compared to her genius.

D’heet Z’hin

Writing Prompt: You were the chosen one as your parents only child. You have trained for years, sacrificed your childhood and accepted your fate to destroy the evil of the land. One day your brother is born and it is discovered he is the true chosen one not you. (source)

 

My birth had been rather eventful for a small village like ours. The planets had aligned themselves with our tiny minuscule village the day I was born, nay the hour I was born. It was foretold that the child born when the planets aligned in such a way that he shall be granted the power of the D’heet Z’hin, and he shall finally free our little fishing hamlet of the Carnot Empire.

The night had been festive, full of prayer, love, and booze. Or so I had been told. My life had been far from joyful and festive. Czendra, the village patriarch prescribed my mother and father with a strict developmental plan, for the powers of the D’heet Z’hin was merely one piece of the prophecy, in order for it to flourish the person born with the gift must undergo many trials and tribulations. So my parents, reluctant as they were, began forcing me down a life of discipline.

Before I could even crawl my parents taught me how to swing to sword. With a stick in one hand, Nimon, the village sword smith, would be over every night drilling me with how to properly wield it. By the time I could speak I had a firm grasp of the basics of sword fighting.

Once I could walk my father began teaching me how to run, and from there climbing. From climbing sneaking and breaking and entering.

Tenimen, who served as our village ambassador to the Carnots taught me their language, their culture, and their tactics. In essence, it had been as if I were born into two cultures at once as I understood both my own and the Carnots with an uncanny ability to shift between our languages with ease.

I trained with Hinzor, the best hunter in the village on how to lay traps and capture food at age six. Thanks to him I had become an expert at the bow in just a few short months. I could snipe a hawk a hundred meters in the air with ease. Hinzor himself had begun calling me the best hunter in the village.

Because of my unusual status I had become well versed in anything and everything they wanted me to do. But I had enough of it. The sleepless nights, the aches and pains from my strength training. No child should have gone through that. I wanted to just be a kid. When I other children my age ran past Nimon’s training ground all I could imagine was running around with such freedom. And when I did have a chance to play with the other kids I could outrun them easily, or hide in the toughest of places that I could never be found during hide-n-seek.

After I turned seven my mom became pregnant with my brother-to-be. By that time I had mastered the Carnotian language and could even imitate their accents, my palms were as calloused as a horse’s hoof from the countless hours I spent sword training and climbing. None of this I wanted for myself. I was an expert in nothing I wanted to be.

The day before my brother was born my parents had been visited by Czendra. It wasn’t unusual for her to come by and check in on my progress, but the air had been different this time. She spoke with them in private, and when they returned my parents came to me with a look of sorrow. After Czendra left my father told me to sit down at the table. I did so, he sat down next to me, my mother stood by his side.

In most stories being the chosen one is what everyone wants to be. When you’re the chosen one you’re special, nobody else is like you, you get to call the shots. So you could believe how I felt when my father told me that the prophecy had been wrong, it was not I who would eventually overthrow the Carnots’ imperialist forces, but my brother-to-be.

My brother was born the next day with no unusual fan fair, probably to save the elders of any further embarrassment. But they did tell the village, and he had been crowned the D’heet Z’hin while my training had been sidelines.

At first it had been hard. I didn’t want to train in sword fighting from sunrise to sunset, but I did like how being the D’hett Z’hin felt. Over time the villagers began changing their behaviors. No longer did they smile at me the way the used to, strangers stopped pointing and waving at me, and despite my time with Hinzor, Tenimen, and Nimon they no longer wanted to train me. My brother had become their pet project, and thanks to their years with me they had grown as teachers. My brother had become a better swordsman than me by the time he could walk.

I took up painting instead. It reminded me a lot of swordplay, but instead of destroying I could create. My works became renowned throughout my village and further into our region. The Carnotian governor who presided over our region had taken notice and invited me to the capital city.

Despite the pleas of my fellow villagers, the ones who had abandoned their belief in me over a decade ago, I had taken the governor’s invitation and traveled to the capitol. There I had been treated well, the governor himself granted me a scholarship to the best art academy in the entire empire. I took the offer immediately and left without ever saying goodbye to my village. I had already broke their hearts by taking the offer, I could not break them again if they had heard the news.

I graduated with honors and moved back to the regional capitol. I had missed the beauty of the ocean, the mountainous region in which the academy resided had not been inspiring enough for my works.

Every once in a while I considered going back to my home, for all I know they had thought me to have been killed at the capitol. My brother planning his march against to the capitol city. By now he would have been the same age I had been when I left for the capitol. But I refused to go, what had happened to me would be far worse than death, I had come to love the Carnotians and even asked one for her hand in marriage.

Every morning I would begin my day sitting on our ocean side patio, sketching the sunrise over the coast, wondering if this will be the day I will finally see the D’heet Z’hin march towards the capitol.

Rain

Writing Prompt: (character) has telepathic abilities. Trouble is they can’t turn it off so have to hear people’s thoughts all the time. Good detective though.  (source)

 

…. this coffee’s a little bitter, I should add some cream….

…. I’m getting tired of my beat; I need to speak to the captain… . …the psycho’s back I see…

…where did I leave my keys….

Thoughts echoed across the precinct, coming and going, phasing in and out of third ear shot. By this point I had become a mainstay at the forty-sixth, I had been given my own special little badge as well.

Another day, another case as a consulting mentalist. Mentalist being a very loose term for my gift, but it was more believable than what I really was.

“Hey Rain,” Sargent Holzer said walking up to me. * I should really ask her out today. No, no, that’s not professional, keep the case.* Sargent Holzer thought. Every time I was near him, he thought that, and to this date he hadn’t offered me anything more than a cup of coffee.

“Norman called me in today,” I asked the Sargent.

He scratched his neck, professional, he thought. “Could I get you some coffee?”

“Thanks, but no thanks. I already had a cup before I arrived. Can you point me to where I can find Norman?”

“He’s in integration room B,” he pointed down the hall towards where the carpet turned to dark lifeless concrete. “Can I get you anything else?”

“Water’s fine. Will you be joining us today?” I asked.

She asked if I was joining her today. She wants me with her! Sometimes he could be so naive.

“I will be. The Detective asked for me to be your escort. Do you want to wait here, or should I meet you at the gate?”

“I’ll meet you at the gate,” I said.

“One water coming right up, I’ll see you at the gate,” he said. Damn he thought.

The Sargent took off towards the breakroom, his thoughts fading into the distance like an an ambulance passing by. You did the right thing Cooper, you kept it pro-.

I continued down the hallways towards the holding interrogation rooms, the usual spot for my summons. In the dozens of times I had been at the precinct I think I’ve only sat in Norman’s office no more than three times. Thoughts of the officers faded into an out of my head while I strolled through the office.

Thoughts were thoughts in my head, there were no voices associated with them like you’d hear in TV shows or movies where the psychic character heard people’s inner monologues as if they were their own narrators. Some people don’t even have an inner narrator, but I could still read their minds loud and clear. Instead thoughts were always like intuitions, feelings of those around me. They echoed in and out of existence depending on the thinker’s proximity and the emotional strength behind them.

…was it at 7745 Chattanooga, or 7747 Chattanooga….

…gotta go take a piss…

…Rain’s hair looks nice today….

…man, my back hurts like a bitch… A thought faded into my head. Must be Charlie, the poor soul had been having back issues since he had gotten himself into a shoot out a few years before I started consulting. He had been ridden to desk work. That I knew because he had told me. I also knew that he had a dependency on prescription pain medication, that he kept silent about. That he did not tell me. “Hey Charlie,” I said when I rounded the corner.

“Rain!” Charlie said, he stood up off the metal chair, behind Charlie and the chair iron bars hung down from the ceiling all the way to the floor. He waddled over to me; his arms outstretched. I reciprocated with a hug. Charlie, ever the hugger. “Detective Sherwood told me you’d be in today. He says he finally got his guy. Needed you to help with the clean up.”

…. fuck this hurts …. Charlie thought. Another thing about Charlie, if he wasn’t on meds, he liked to hide is pain.

“How about you take a seat,” I said.

“Nonsense, I’m fine,” Charlie retaliated.

“Charlie…”

She’s right, I’m gonna keel over if I don’t get some support. Charlie thought.

I guided the wounded man back to the chair he had been at.

“There, that’s better,” I said as he took a seat. “They got you on guard duty today?”

“Yes mam,” Charlie said. “I needed the break; my eyes were getting tired of looking at the screens all day. Do you have an escort today?”

“Yeah, Sargent Holzer is my escort. He’ll be here soon.”

“While we wait how about we play one of your games?” Charlie asked. He loved doing this.

“Sure, what’s the challenge today?”

I should ask her to pick a number I’m thinking about. Nah, I did that last week. I’ll ask he if she can name the last three things I ate. Now let’s see, I had a turkey burger for lunch, a ham and cheese croissant for breakfast, and what was for dinner last night? Lasagna? No that was earlier this week. Oh yeah, Chicken Parmesan.

“Oh right, I got it!” Charlie snapped his fingers. “Here’s a challenge for you. I want you to name the last three things I ate.” I lightly snorted. You get used to pretending to be surprised when you’ve lived like this as long as you could remember. “Well that’s a new one. Alright,” I said squatting down to Charlie’s level.

“Should I exhale for you?” he asked.

“No,” I shook my head, “you can breathe normally. I don’t want your stinky breath on me.”

“Hey, I brushed my teeth after lunch,” he said.

“Did you really?” I looked him in the eyes.

No, I didn’t. He thought.

“No, I didn’t,” he admitted. “Alright, do your best.”

I sat in silence for a moment. I didn’t search for answers, I searched for explanations. The hardest part of this job was looking for visible clues to explain away everything I had already known. Retro-mentalism I called it. Charlie’s amusement over my gift had become a routine exercise to sharpen my observation skills.

Charlie wore a white button down tucked into black khakis. The creases of his collar were stained a light yellow. He must have worn that shirt yesterday as well. I spotted a small red stain sitting on the flap of his collar. Alright that’s the chicken parmesan I thought, or a fry with his burger. It didn’t matter, I had an explanation. I continued looking around his torso for other clues.

I must have really stumped her, Charlie thought. She never takes this long.

Report, check. Coffee. Check Water bottle. Check. A thought faded into my head, distracting me for a moment.

“Hey Charlie, hey Rain,” Sargent Holzer’s voice said. “What’s going on here?”

I held out a finger in the direction of the Sargent’s voice.

“Is this one of your games Charlie?” The Sargent asked.

“Shhh….” Charlie said.

Here I am trying to be all professional, and Charlie’s off lollygagging again with Rain, again. the Sargent thought.

I kept looking for other clues, crumbs or flakes or something. I shifted my gaze to his face. He had a little stubble today, might find some clues in there. Nothing. I carried on, shifting my gaze lower to his khakis.

Within the fibers of his khakis sat a few flecks of something, could be anything, but it was enough for me to go with. Two out of three down.

“You know the detective doesn’t like it when you two this,” Sargent Holzer said.

I sighed and stood up.

“Man, you really got me this time,” I said.

“Take a guess,” Charlie said.

“Let’s see,” I closed my eyes pretending to think. “You had a croissant for breakfast, a hamburger for lunch, and I’m stumped on last night’s dinner. Am I right?”

Wow she’s good, Charlie thought.

The detective is going to murder me, the Sargent thought.

“Common guess, I’ll tell you once you guess.”

I opened my eyes and sighed. “I don’t know, Lasagna.” I lied.

“Oh, so close!” Charlie snapped. “It was chicken parmesan.”

“Hey, you gotta give me points for guessing Italian!” I said.

“Alright, how did you know?”

“You have a small red stain near your collar, typical of eating fries with ketchup, so you had to have had a burger. And your pants have small croissant flakes on them. Making me guess three was unfair, I can’t guess your dinner last night if there aren’t any stains your clothes,” I said.

“Ready to go?” Holzer asked.

“I am,” I faced the Sargent. He held out the bottle of water, I took it. “Would you do us the honor and let us through?” I asked Charlie.

“Sure, thing mam,” he produced a key from his pocket and opened the gates. The chair and him were close enough to the gate so that the poor man wouldn’t have to stand up. The Sargent went through first, I followed behind.

“Rain,” Charlie said through the bars. “I had lasagna earlier this week.”

“I know,” I winked at him. I followed the Sargent down the hallway towards the interrogation rooms.

How does she do it? I heard Charlie think to himself.

Perfectly Reasonable

Writing Prompt: You are a ghost, who’ve been haunting a house for years. Most people left after a few days, some can last few weeks. You’ve been a mighty ghost, until a scientist moved in. He had stayed for 2 years and keeps coming up with scientific explanations for all your tricks. (source)

 

The Haunting. Demon. Poltergeist. Beelzebub. These were names given to me decades by the guests who so dare trespass on the resting place of an old soul like myself. This had been my home long before the country side had been consumed by what folks these days called “the suburbs.” As the world changed, I stayed within the confines of my house, working tirelessly to shoo out the unwanted guests like chasing rats out of the pantry with a broom. Why didn’t anyone let me just rest in peace?

I had spent many such decades perfecting the craft of a good scare. It helped that in part that the story of my untimely demise had become a local legend. A good beheading is bound to make people terrified of what still remains within the walls. For the first few years that story was all I needed, only to disturbed by a flying rock through the window or two teenagers sneaking into my house to make out or get high. But that all changed once an eager young woman and her husband decided to “flip” my house. I wanted nothing to do with that, so I did a little work of my own.

Tape measures would extend on their own. Saws would turn on by themselves. Hammers banged on the walls when nobody was in the room. But despite this the construction still persisted. I thought I had lost until the night the young couple moved in. The woman was different this time, a baby bump sat upon her belly a few months from delivery I suspected.

They dressed up a room with a cradle with mobile dangling delicately above it, stuffed bunnies and bears, a paint bucket and nails sat upon a blue tarp in the corner for the final touch ups of the house. I decided to give the room a make over.

The next morning the young trespassers minded their own business for most of the day. I patiently waited within the nursery, eager to see the look on their faces at my art. It was the early afternoon when the soon to be mother ventured into the nursery. Her face morphed from the cool and calmness to a mouth gaping eyes wide open scream. Loud footsteps banged across the floor as the husband dashed down the hallway. He stopped at the doorway and let out a loud “what the fuck?”

Inside the room was my first masterpiece. The bodies of the stuffed animals were nailed to the walls without order. Hanging by the pull string of the light fixture was the body of one stuffed rabbit, the light strobed, a little flair I added at last minute. On the wall across from the door I had written in blue paint “get out.”

The couple left that night to never return. But people kept trespassing.

I got pretty good at my hauntings over the years. From the obvious tricks such as floating knives and rooms being completely rearranged after a family had returned for their Sunday church, to the more subtle nightmares I would project into people’s dreams. Most people wouldn’t last a whole month in my house before they hightailed it out of there, leaving me with a few weeks of peace and quiet until another family moved in. But then she came.

At first I thought she would be easy. You see, she moved into my house all alone, and I’ve had my share of single people throughout the years and single people were easy. Their loneliness only amplified the effects of my hauntings. Whereas couples and families would lean on each other for a while before things got too weird, single people had nobody to share their experience with and often times worried about going mad. But she was different.

No matter what I did, from shadows moving on their own, to flipping tables she always had an explanation for everything happening. When I banged on the walls at night she’d say it was the pipes. If she watched TV alone late at night and I started interfering with the signals she called it interference. Whenever I gave her a few nightmares she’s call it anxiety and take pills that made my tricks futile. If the furniture seemed out of place after she had returned from work it was because the wooden floors were too slippery. Everything had an explanation, and you know what? For the first two months it was kinda cute, but two years later it’s tiring.

No longer was I the demon, I was a pipe banging against the wall. Long were the days of being called a poltergeist, now I was just slippery floors. Beelzebub was no more, instead I was just another broken light bulb. It was no longer a haunting, just “perfectly reasonable” things happening around the house.