Shift - 1,000 Words
.::Rule I | No Contact::.
“Grab her or she’ll get crushed!” A gruff voice tore through the spray of ash and dust and sunk into my ears.
There’s only time to shield my eyes from another explosion corroding the stoned walls around me before a set of hands attached to my waist and yanked me from the spot I was paralyzed in.
Pushed against still standing walls protected by steel overhead bars, the coolness of the cracked structure is the only sense of comfort amongst the blasts of heat whistling around me and scorching my backside. Suddenly, the shadow of a figure swallowed me up.
“Give her the shot, Esteban. Now!” The same smoky voice from earlier sliced clearly through the chaos. It’s accompanied by a gloved hand that pinned me down, keeping me from twisting around to face a possible enemy.
A more pencil thinned shade with a squeakier delivery joins him. “But Cree, surely you have other matters to consider! Like our defenses, if you do this it’ll leave us without-"
“Defenses? Listen to those screams! The Shakers are killing every last one of us trying to get their hands on her.”
“I understand that, but please. To stifle her abilities now is madness!”
Another shrill, ear-piercing whistle echoed over us and combusted with nearby chunks of rock.
“Dammit Esteban, if you won’t help me then get out of the way!”
Shuffling takes place behind me and out of the corner of my eye, the slenderer frame of a bearded man fell to the ground.
“If she stays hidden and remembers the rules, she’ll stay safe!” The harsh tone called out again.
Something pierced the back of my neck, stinging it seconds before it’s numbed all together. Finally released, I spun around to face my dusty-faced captures but it’s only for a moment when another blow from behind us sent me running in the opposite direction.
“Cree, we should go after her. If we let her go now, how are we supposed to find her when the time is ready?”
“Stop worrying, Esteban. We’ve been preparing for a day like this for years. Everyone knows what to do and as an Explorer, I’ll scour this planet and the next to find her again.”
Their words faded behind me as I focused on getting away from the terror-filled screams and jagged pieces of hurtled rubble flying towards me.
Too busy looking forward as I ran, I trip; landing hard on my elbows and knees. Cheeks tear-streaked and tending to my bruises, the ground began to shake violently...
::: ::: :::
A thunderous boom rocks the ground, startling me out of my accidental slumber and causing my hand to crush the pair of fresh eggs settled next to me.
“Aw, crap. That was breakfast!” Shaking my hand free of the goopy mess, I pout at my now smashed efforts at a treat from today’s typical routine. A second roaring crackle rings throughout the sky, snapping my eyes to the trail of thick black smoke hissing from a careening aircraft.
What the hell- Is that a plane?
The craft spirals downward before zipping sideways in a final landing dive towards a plethora of tall Evergreens. Also known as my backyard.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
Rule I: No Contact
-- Compromised due to some idiot with too much free time.
.::Rule II | No Connection::.
As I examine the burning wreckage and start wheezing from the wind directed smoke blowing directly in my face, this is no joke.
Shoot, I’ll have to move again. But, maybe I can salvage something first.
The nearest town is 20 minutes away by car, giving me enough time to grab what I need and escape before anyone sets their eyes on me.
Approaching the melting metal with caution, a family of deer have already conquered their fears and have begun chewing grass nearby.
“Jeez, come on guys. Show a little caution, would you?” I wave a hand to shoo them away from the smoldering crash site incase the fire suddenly decides to spread, but they barely move. “Guys, hey! Act like I have some authority, please.”
Stepping towards them, my foot suddenly snags an exposed tree root, and despite throwing my hands out to catch myself, I still smack face-first into the dirt where agonized moans escape me as I hold the side of my face and slowly sit up.
“Darn tree. You nearly killed me!” I shout at the limp log covered in jeans and a jacket. With sprouted arms and legs. And a groan.
“Wait a minute.”
Rule II: No Connection
-- Compromised due to the possibility of this not-so-dead person totally blowing my cover. And it's not my responsibility to keep them quiet. Which is just frickin’ great.
.::Rule III | No Changing::.
A bucket of cold river water sends the tied-up intruder into sputtered, gasping breathing; only calming himself once his eyes lock onto mine.
“June?” His breathless laugh piques my interest. “Look at those horns, of course it’s you! After so many years, I actually found you. Yes!”
I scan him from head to toe, stopping at his crooked smile. “How do you know my name? And who are you?”
“It’s me, Captain. Cree. Your Lead Shift Explorer.”
“Captain? Hang on- You’re my what?”
“Damn, do you still not remember?”
From a distance, a surrounding series of explosions go off one after another, forcing the ground to shake as much as it did earlier. “What the hell was that?”
“Damn that serum on your memories. Those are Shakers; a disgusting bunch. This is an all-out war and I have something with me that’ll help you.”
“Which in turn will help us.”
As another cascade of bombs rain down, I realize I don’t have much choice. Using a nearby fishing knife, I cut him free. “Help me what?”
He shoots towards his bag and digs around in it. Grinning like a mad man, he then presents a syringe. “Shapeshift.”
Like lightning, he sticks the needle in my bicep. “Unleash your inner beast, Captain, and tear them to shreds.”
Rule III: No Changing
-- Compromised due to the breaking of Rules I and II.
Result: Total annihilation.
#Rosemandle #fantasy #flashfiction #adventure #action #1000words #unleashed #shifter #quickread
The Harmony Effect
01. NOAH - One Man Show
In the surrounding darkness under a starless sky, I lean against the chilled stone of a bricked and bordered up building with a rolled blunt placed between my lips.
And a familiar ball of tension rising from the depths of my abdomen.
“Here we go again, Duke.”
With a sigh, I place my hand onto the head of my 3-year-old, mid-sized Pitbull who sat on my right. Sporting gray fur that glistened in the moonlight, the white dot on his chest acted as a spotlight.
“I know we usually hang with Bobbi after these but- She’s busy tonight so, what do you say to a guy’s night? Couple steaks, a little whiskey...”
And as if he understood every word, his tail picks up in speed and I shed a smile; blowing a stream of smoke through my nostrils. “Yeah, that sounds good to me too.”
Just then a heavily rusted door opens at the top of the staircase next to me, and a pudgy man with wisps of brown hair in a stained white hoodie stumbles out; slipping on the grimy stairs as he descended.
“Another day, another dollar,” I mumble and give a final pat down to Duke’s side before taking a step out of the shadows. “Hey, Mogel!”
And with barely a look behind him, the jiggly donut takes off running down the empty sidewalk; causing the ejection of a gutted groan from my lips. “Christ, why do they always run?”
Beginning a mental countdown from ten, I watch my target repeatedly fall to the ground as I position myself against the dank wall once more, and reignite my blunt. ”Beachtung.”
With a German command to show my authority, Duke eagerly emits a bark and the immense wagging of his tail.
″Bleibe,” I steer; waiting for him to sit. And in taking a long inhale of my tube of green, the hesitance of a three-count coats the chilling air before I point a finger in Mogel’s direction to drop a smoke-filled order. ”Holen.”
Like a silver bullet ready to kill, my best four-legged friend silently takes off after him; swiftly rounding the same corner where a terrifying scream rings out in seconds.
“Crazy dog.” I chuckle, filled with the warmth of seeing Duke at his best when a buzzing from the wireless earbud in my right ear cuts my laugh short. “Fuck.”
And without the glance to my smartwatch, as I already knew who it was, the joy drains from my face as the air around me drops to a freezing temperature upon the answer of the third ring. “Sarge.”
“Where’s my pig, private?” My Father, the former Sergeant Major Roger Rite asks; hacking up the spray of a cough through the earpiece. “You promised me a squealer.”
Irritated that after these many years I still have to explain myself, with the rolling of my eyes, I stub out my blunt. “Dinner may be running late, but it’s still on the way, sir.”
Taking a moment to listen in on Mogel’s traveling hollers, I was thankful the rundown streets of Harlem were this empty on a Friday evening. “From the sound of it, I need ten.”
“That fat fuck turned in one of our own, boy.” He drunkenly slurs. “So, what you actually need is five. Now move your black ass and get it done.”
The line clicks dead without another word from him.
“Fucking prick.” And the murmur of my words becomes mixed in the pitch of Mogel’s yells that were accompanied by Duke’s vicious barking.
Aware they were moving closer, I reach down to lift a wooden baseball bat off the trashed asphalt.
“And up to the plate is, the Grim Reaper!” I softly scream; mimicking the fainted sounds of a crowd as I bring the bat behind me and hold it up high with a tight grip around the worn handle. “Oh my. He looks handsome, ladies, and gentlemen.”
“Somebody please, help! This dog is gonna kill me!”
Sounding out a shrill whistle that stops Duke just short of the alley entrance beside me, I take a deep breath; slowly easing the beating of my heart and gaining enough focus over my objective like I’d been trained to do since I was eight.
“Someone please! I’m being chased!”
And just as my sights set on Mogel’s bouncing form, his head twists from behind to meet my glare only seconds before my weapon cracks against his skull; releasing a thin spray of his crimson blood across my apathetic expression.
∴ ∵ ∴ || ∴ ∵ ∴
Slugging Mogel’s unconscious body into the trunk of my car, I raise a hand to close the lid when the buzzing in my ear goes off again.
“Jesus fuck, leave me alone.”
Sure it was my Father with another complaint, I leave Mogel to yank the passenger side open and gesture for Duke to get inside. “Come on, bud.”
Slamming the door shut after he’s seated, I round back to my trunk with the anger in my bones rising to dangerous levels from having to answer Sergeant at every goddamn second of my life; as if I’d actually gone into the Marines.
“Goddammit.” The feeling resonates uncontrollably as I absentmindedly stab a finger into the Answer button. “I’m busy, you impatient fu—”
“I just burned the fucking lasagna.”
But the enchantingly soft yet panicked voice stops my motions dead and immediately forces my stomach to manufacture a flood of butterflies.
“Bobbi.” Stupidly turning nervous from someone who isn’t even in front of me, a warmth starts to sprout from within. “Shit, I’m sorry. You know I always have time for you.”
“And as my best friend, I wouldn’t expect any less.”
My muscles involuntarily twitch at the reminder of my limitations to her heart when Mogel begins to stir; shifting his limbs as he groaned. And I elbow him square in the chest to halt all his movements as he gasps for air. “What’s up?”
“Elijah’s supposed to show up in an hour.” She carries on, unaware of my side of things. “And I don’t have the ingredients or time to make a new one.”
“Just order a pizza.” Watching Mogel’s fidgety fat fingers grasp at the oxygen not filling his lungs fast enough, it pained me more to scrape the stress off my tone. “You’re celebrating your engagement, all that glamour isn’t necessary.”
“God, you’re such a guy. Lasagna is not glamorous.” Bobbi huffs, and I can practically see her shimmering forest green eyes roll upward as her fingers get snagged in her curled, ebony hair.
“And when you finally like a girl long enough to learn her last name, I’ll start listening to you. But in the meantime, help me make something new and fast. Please.”
“Yeah alright.” I sigh, scratching at my beard as I found it useless to argue with her; even if the grand gesture of love isn’t and likely never will be for me. “Start naming some ingredients. I’ll find something for you.”
Tugging on a set of black latex gloves from my back pocket, her excited laughter dusts off any leftover gloom hanging on my shoulders.
“God, you’re a lifesaver! Okay, uh- There’s salmon, milk, asparagus...”
As Bobbi starts firing off a list, I press the volume button on the bud in my ear twice; resulting in a mute of my words. “Bobbi?”
And when she doesn’t answer I take that as my cue to continue my original objective. “Alright, Mogel. Let’s wrap this up.”
“No, no! Grim please!” He begs; sitting up some to interlock his fingers. “You can let me go! I swear I’ll leave the country!”
“Trust me. That won’t stop Sarge’s hard-on for you. And either way, I got bills to pay.”
Striking a fist to Mogel’s nose in order to toss his senses, I move behind his wriggling body to sling my arm around his throat as my other hand rests on the top of his head. “Now let’s take a little eternal slumber, hm?”
As I pinched the air from his lungs, his wheezed and muffled cries fall on deaf ears as the familiar sound of rushing water clogs the eardrum that wasn’t filled with Bobbi’s oblivious rambling.
I preferred for her to be in the dark about the type of acts I’m forced to commit. At least for now.
“I assume you want freezer foods too.” She includes; unbeknownst to my opponent’s struggles. “Uh... Frozen pineapple, a pizza, but shut up because I’m not making that.”
Instantly distracted by her carefree laughter, the sharp tearing of Mogel’s nails simultaneously clawing at my cheek and wrists stirs a hissed curse from my lips; leaving me without much time to stop myself.
And out of a burst of newfound rage, the roaring in my ears turns deafening as I switch the subject of my limbs from an arm around his windpipe, to a hand stapled to his jaw.
In one swift motion, I snap his head to the right; switching the rest of his body off like a light.
Blowing a stream of stress through my nostrils, I toss Mogel’s lifeless body back into the trunk and slam it close as I pull a black burner cell used for completing my weekly tasks to send a single message to my Father.
“Noah? What the hell are you doing?”
Rounding to the driver’s side of my car, I tug the door open and slide inside to greet Duke as I un-mute the earbud. “Just another delivery for Sarge, sweetheart. The usual.”
With a toss of my bat and gloves into the backseat, I rub Duke behind the ears before starting up my car. “And I don’t care what you say. That frozen pizza sounded pretty gourmet to me.”
Bobbi’s exaggerated sigh blesses my ear. “Why are you so useless to me?”
And her faked anger sparks a smile only she could ignite after what I’ve just done.
“Aside from the underground fights he sets up for you, I get why you have to be a part of your Father’s drug ring but, all these late-night drop-offs can’t be good for your sleep habits. Or your mind.”
I smirk, touched she cares enough to say that; but it soon fizzles out at the lie I have to produce. “I know, but a couple of trips to hand over some money or a pound or two of something won’t kill me that much.”
Her silence brings the inability to object, and relieved, I strap on Duke’s canine seatbelt before the follow up of my own safety. “Your cooking, however...”
“Shut up, I’m an amazing cook.” She laughs. “Now, help me. I don’t have a lot of time and I want to make something memorable.”
Hearing the desperation in her voice, Bobbi’s second plea threatens my bleeding heart to run dry as I pull onto the quiet road.
“Alright. Give me 30 minutes, and I’ll be at your door.”
∴ ∵ ∴ || ∴ ∵ ∴
Settled into a different car, I peel the tires away from an undisclosed warehouse where I dropped off Mogel’s corpse to a loaded clean-up crew.
Driving back through the city, I take a shortcut and head through an old suburbanized section I used to hang out in.
Though my attention was on the only thing that mattered to me at this point.
Resting my car at a red light on a street lined with houses from my youth, to avoid the not-so-pleasant memories my brain starts to melt into the more guttered portion of itself where I indulge in what she could be wearing right now.
“God, that woman has a hold on me.” I breathe, and Duke barks a response I somewhat acknowledge through a glance in his direction. “I didn’t ask your opinion but, it’s true. Bobbi’s had my heart since we were teenagers.”
His barking intensifies.
“Fuck you, that doesn’t make me weak at all. In fact, loving a girl like her only makes me stronger. I think.”
A comment directed to my dog and maybe even myself, it’s my Father’s image that slips its way into my mind to the point where I actually hear his laughter towards my failure in the escape of my current title as Bobbi’s second best.
Stop putting so much thought into it and just fuck the girl already.
I know what I’ll always mean to her without sex. And just because she’s marrying a worthless shithead doesn’t mean my life will end in disappointment like his has.
It’s why I’m building up the money to get the hell out of his world and live a simple life somewhere as a boring mechanic.
The sudden flash of green in the traffic light snaps me out of my head, and in shifting the gears to move forward, it’s Duke’s relentless excitement towards whatever’s next to us that gives me the idea not to move.
“What’s your problem?”
Keeping the car still, Duke doesn’t let up as his breath fogs up the passenger window in the pursuit of whatever was troublesome. And after rolling it down half-way for him; he starts to growl.
“What’s gotten into you?”
Shifting forward in my seat to see around him, I spot a couple heavily making out in the open doorway of the only house on the street with lights on; causing my lips to slam shut.
Though their faces weren’t entirely clear, I recognized that house like no other. And without my command to do otherwise, Duke’s the friendliest dog on the planet except towards one person.
“No fucking way...”
In the middle of their grope-fest, the two twist towards us; confirming my subconscious assumptions and snatching the air from my lungs just as harshly as I did Mogel.
Finally pulling themselves apart, I watch with a heavy heart and collapsed lung as Bobbi’s fiancé, Elijah, lands a loving kiss on the forehead of a woman I didn’t recognize.
And with a grin as big as the full moon above our heads, he moves to the side to squat down and place an endearing peck on her swollen stomach.
|| ∘ ∙∿∙∘ || ∘ ∙∿∙∘ || ∘ ∙∿∙∘ || ∘ ∙∿∙∘ ||
Title: The Harmony Effect
Genre: Romance/Suspenseful Thriller/Crime/Fiction
Age Range: 18+ (mature)
Word Count: Approx. 96,000 / This is the 1st book in The Harmonize Trilogy
Author Name: Maxine Scythe (Pseudonym)
Why your project is a good fit: Telling the tale from the alternating point of views of a male and female lead, my novel is a captivating New Adult urban romance wreathed with elements of twisted crime and jaw-dropping suspense. Featuring African-American characters as top protagonists, the story remains diverse in cast without an overshadowing worry.
Adding in various personalities, each person is brought to life in their own unique way; giving everyone somebody to root (or boo) for.
To witness a love like Noah and Bobbi’s conquer all that the Universe has conjured, to feel their pain or joy, or know the depths of their history that makes them so unbreakable will not only make just about anyone believe in love again; it’ll send them on an unforgettable journey through the tangles of their own hearts.
In times where we all want is to be accepted for the person we are, this story gives the gripping truths of just what mountains need climbing, and which floods are worth the risk to cross.
If in the end, you not only found where you truly belonged but also the people who loved you regardless of the unruly gears in your brain; wouldn’t you do all you could to hold on?
The hook: “I’ve never loved anyone the way I love Bobbi, and to be honest, that scares me a little. Not because of what may or may not grow, but because I think a love like ours will get somebody killed one day.”
Synopsis: Brought up in a life of crime by his Father, 28-year-old Noah Rite dominates the streets of New York as a legendary man who demands control and doesn’t settle for failure. Known to all as “The Grim Reaper”, and unforgivingly brutal to his enemies, his only savior comes by Bobbi Potter, his best friend and the captor of his heart and soul whom he’d die to protect.
For 26-year-old Bobbi, as someone who’s lived in a tough and abandoned world of her own, running into Noah was nothing short of kismet. Trusting her life to the man she’s known for nearly 20 years, Bobbi’s been by his side through the gates of Hell and back without question, and with love and admiration that never seized; even when she fell for Elijah.
But after an unexpected discovery reveals the ugly truth about Bobbi’s fiancé, Noah’s unhinged intentions result in more harm than healing and only a lie can pick up the shattered pieces.
One year later and with Bobbi deep in Noah’s domain of infamy, as those demons and other closeted skeletons resurface and begin to manifest in unpredictable ways, like a vicious cycle their friendship will be forced to withstand the chaos of it all while exploring the depths of their soulful bond.
And with Noah blinded by his desires, only carnage and bloodshed will follow his refusal to let them crumble.
All in the name of love? So be it.
Target Audience: My novel is directed to any of those over the age of 18 with an interest in realistic crime tales and relatable warrior-like characters.
Your bio: Being an African-American writer, life has had its ups and downs and through that, I’ve discovered a deep passion for friendships romantically reformed through times where you learn who the truest people in your life are.
Since I was a teenager, I have longed to make a career in writing about what I love most; and from that point on, I’ve done all I can to achieve that dream.
As of now, I hold a small handful of unpublished flash fiction pieces, as well as a psychologically thrilling short story.
Platform: Today, I currently post the expansion of my writing expedition on Wattpad under a pseudonym.
Education: I hold an Associates’ degree in Liberal Arts.
Experience: I was wired this way. All ideas I have come from the confines of my imagination. Though I will admit, television and stories by Stephen King added much fuel to the fire.
Personality/Writing style: Though I am in love with Fantasy, and even some comedies, I’ve been a fan of Horror and other thrilling tales via television or books since I was a child. As I got older, my new love for cheesy romances bloomed and began to become incorporated in my writing whether I wanted it to or not; however, the excruciating need for more nerve-wracking and unfathomable experiences for my characters was and will always continue to be a must in each and every story I create.
Likes/Hobbies: The times where I do have a moment to think, when the television is dull and friends are busy, I enjoy trying my hand at drawing.
#romance #bestfriendstolovers #crime #drama #africanamericanlove #africanamerican #betrayal #realisticfiction #heartbreak