A Mile in Flip’s Shoes
It had always seemed to Flip that they were made to be together, but she was almost ready to beat-feet out.
Two summers isn’t so long, but when every minute of every day is spent together, it can seem like a lifetime. He was smothering her, but what could she do? She could hardly leave. She had panic attacks thinking about life without him... she hated to think of what would happen to her if he were to walk into the ocean and just disappear? It was not out of the question. That very thing had happened before to one of her good friends. Something inside her warned her that she would be useless without him... a sole with no purpose.
She would be lying, though, if she said she wasn’t worn out with their relationship. It had gotten to where she couldn’t even finish a thought without him interrupting. At the start that had been cute, and so had the beach weekends, and the nights at the pool, but now she saw it for what it was. He was lazy. He was satisfied with his Friday night fun, but she wanted more. Last summer they had gone on a cruise. It had reminded her that life is short, and that she wanted to be more, and do more than just “hang around on the weekends”. She had some miles on her, but she still felt pretty. She wanted the blue water and the white sand. She wanted to lose these cut-off jeans and pull out that matching sarong. She wanted to live higher! Was that so wrong?
She couldn’t just run away, nor sneak away either. She was not built for running, or tiptoes. She was a stayer, like it or not, but this party life was killing her. The smells of stale beer and urine seemed to follow wherever she went. She suspected they were coming from him. It must be coming from him... from Flop.
Surely she she did not smell like that. She couldn’t, could she? But they were always together. For better or worse they were paired for life, and surely her foot smelled no better than his!
Then Magic Ate The World
The sky flashed, yellow, red, bruise-blue, sick-green, pink, yellow. The sky was burning.
A young woman, with spiky orange hair wrestled into a braid, lifted her gaze to the horizon and watched the towers crumble. Beneath her feet, cobble stones cracked. The forest behind them lost its green. Leaves fell and faded into ash before reaching the ground. Behind her and standing beside a well was a wrinkled little man. He held a knotted staff in one hand and wore a cirious expression.
“Magic eats the Rivera.” He lifted a knobby finger to point. “Fascinating.” Three hundred feet away a river flowed, sludge slow. From mud and branches, the color of gray and dead things, a massive figure leaned into the river. It swirled, made of wind and eyes that opened from nowhere and closed back into nothing. The magic shifted shape every moment shedding and gaining arms, legs, heads, mouths, and thousands of teeth. It sucked up the water and everywhere it looked the world lost its color. Its eyes came up to the old man and orange haired woman. The woman’s hair was sucked white and her taned face paled. The old man’s blue robes rippled and became gray. But his hair was already white. For a moment it swirled in a confused wandering way. Then it formed a voice that sounded like a thousand bird songs. Words came and blurred and then solidified.
“I can make you afraid.” It said like a gleeful child. “If I eat you.”
“Curse my rat of a father. Aldric, this place is doomed.” She said, the words heavy in her mouth.
“You must go.” Aldric said. “I will hold open the way.” He looked into the well and pressed his lips together. She turned and her armor clinked. Her hand rested on the hilt of her gray sword. The creature of wild magic stared at them as it drank the river. They would still be there when it finished. The woman went to Aldric and stared into the bottomless well.
“Will you follow?” She asked. The old man smiled his yellow teeth now pearl white.
“Oh mage’s daughter, I have sworn to protect you. If I make it through, I make it through. But prepare to continue on your own.”
“Very well soldier.” She began to pull of her armor. She hesitated then unbuckled her belt and let the sword clatter on the groud. Even sounds became mutted, sucked into the cavernous hunger that the magic had become. She stood on the rim of the well and looked back, not at the magic nor the confused colors of the sky, nor the distant ruins of a palace but into the face of Aldric.
“You are twice the man my father was.” She smiled and then dove headfirst into the well. The sun went out.
She swam through black water. Her heart pounding. She felt horibbly light. Bare without her amor. Gravity pulled her deeper. Her lungs complained gently, grew louder, and began to scream for air. She grew increasingly lightheaded and her limbs numbed. She commanded her legs to keep kicking.
I will die of old age. She thought fiercely. Then gravity flipped and stopped pulling her arms and tugged on her legs to go back the way she had come. A snort of relief let lose bubbles that fled down past her fingertips. A circle of dim light appeared far before her. She swam down and broke the surface. She was up again, in the air. She caught a glimps of pale morning sky through the opening of the well. She laughted and choked on sweet air. Tears streams down her temples as she treaded water.
“I’m alive!” She shouted gasping. “Alive!” There was hardly enough room for her to float so she reached as high as she could and touched a section of square stone that lined the well. The colors swarmed and blimped. The stone vanished leaving an emtpy place. She grabed on with both hands and pulled herself up. She created another gaping space for her to stand on. In this manner she began to climb the sheer wall of the well. The water erupted below her. Aldric took in air in huge gulps. He had left his staff and his heavy robes and now shivered in a thin tunic and trousers.
He threw a fist into the air and spoke in panting breaths. “I made it.”
“Aldric, I never doubted you.” She said and turned away so he could not see her expression. She climbed the rest of the way up and hooked her elbow over the rim of the well. She rolled over the stone and fell several feet to a grassly ground. She still heaved for breath but creaked to her feet and peered into the well. Aldric followed slower and she stuck her hand out to help him out. He tumbled to the earth beside her.
“I’m too old for this.” He panted.
“And far too young to die.” She responded. She took a step back and held out her hands so she could see the well between them. She narrowed her gaze and clapped her hands together. The well slambed into itself and vanished leaving only an empty hole in the ground. She dusted her hands off.
“That’ll keep anything from following.” She said regretfully. “No way back now.” She turned, set her hands on hips, and surveyed the meadow of wildflowers before her.
"There is always a way back." Aldric muttered.
“Which world did you chose for us?” She asked. “I don’t recognize it.”
Aldric stood and sniffed loudly. His hands patted his pockets and found a twisted pair of glasses.
“They didn’t fall out.” He said wonderingly. Then he set them on his nose and peered around. “I’m not sure.” He began. She glared at him. “Now I had to pick a place in a hurry.” He said waving a hand defensively. “But the good news is, it is very similar to our own world. I made sure of that. More similar I think than the ones I’ve shown you.”
She felt relief build in her chest. “Good, I’m not sure I want to live in a world full of factories, nor a world made of water and houses made of ships, nor that forsaken jungle world where the natives ate eachother.”
He smiled. “Well, I showed you the strangest ones I had found. Didn’t think you would be as intrested in a normal world. But now we can make the best of this world and try to blend in become part of the commen folk.”
She turned and looked up at the sky that was slowly turning blue. She shivered and looked down at her hands. She turned to Aldric.
“We lost our colors.” She said saddly. He blinked and held out his gray hands.
“By golly, so you’re right.” He said. She tugged a strand of her hair lose from its braid and stared at the white strand. He came beside her and patted her sholder. “We kept our lives. Besides I don’t recall anything about me swearing to protect your colors.” He said in a cheerful tone. She glowered at him and flung the strand of hair away.
“Very well then.” She watched the old man walk towards a copse of trees. “Where are you going? Do you see a road?” She asked.
“First order of buissness is to cut a new staff.” He put a hand to his bent back. “I’m old in case you forgot.” She followed him and her gaze caught her washed gray boots. She sat down and pulled them off. Her feet were pasty white. She sighed.
“At least they match the rest of me.” She muttered. “Hey Aldric! What if,” she hesitated. “What if other pathfinders came through?! What if a devourer makes it here? What if some of them heard the things my father said?! What if the same thing happens here?!”
“What sort of things did your father say?” Aldirc said. She stood and walked with her boots in one hand. She had half a mind to see if she could tan back into color.
“My kind of magic works by creating a devouring thing that collapses in on itself. Yet my father taught a way to make it reverse and to collapse out. He wanted to use it for war and claimed it would fade away after a time. Can’t someone here do the same thing?” She clentched her fist. “This time, if it happens I can stop it. I will stop it.”
“Or we will find a different world to go to.” Aldirc said without looking back.“Though, I think, this is one of my favorite worlds. It reminds me of home. It would be a shame to let it be devoured.”
A bummble bee ambled across her path and she paused to watch it pick a flower among dozens. Her expression eased.
“Whatever you say, I want my colors back.” She said. “I doubt we will blend in without them.” She said to Aldric’s back.
He waved her off. “We’ll manage.”
To be continued:
I am planing on turning this story into a Novella and publishing it in the book store. (For like a $1.00) Will update when I do.
The New World
The world is gone, but we are still here. It’s been 7 years since mother nature decided she’s had enough of us. We didn’t expect it, but that was dumb of us not to. The sky is no longer blue. A continuous storm rolls over the earth. Lightning is our new sun. Except we don’t see either of them. A flash of light digs into the ground, through the man in front of me. He’s dead before the flash recedes to the surface. It’s good that he didn’t catch on fire. Fire, in any form, is not allowed in this community. That is because, in the darkness of our survival, oxygen and other flammable gases are not in short supply. There were a few people who couldn’t handle the fumes and had to face against whatever was happening on the surface. Some people planned on traveling up north because the biggest threat is just snow. Northern Canada used to sound awful, but now it is seen as the ultimate vacation spot. Not only do they get to live on the surface, but the sun shoots off more solar flares now a days. They get the beauty of the stars to backdrop the luminescent northern lights. Lucky bastards. We have already started seeing signs of evolution within the community. The children are pale enough to see the blue veins hide under their thin sheets of skin. Their eyes are a very light blue. Some children have light grey eyes. Some of them are showing signs of being blind. They’re not completely sure about it because the only proof is that people claim their children don’t respond to the flash of lightning, but they still flinch at the crackled boom. I think they should be introduced to the surface at some point in their life. I can only predict one of these ghosts growing up to be teenagers and run away to the surface just because they don’t know what’s up there. I’ve only been here a few days. I never wanted to be underground. I was facing the weather on my own on the surface. I probably could’ve made it to the North if their troops hadn’t kidnapped me. I was knocked out by a piece of hail and their scouts dragged me underground. Taking unconscious people home was not well received when society was on the surface.
I don’t want to be a tunnel rat. I don’t want to be a mole. I don’t want any kids or grandkids of mine to look like ghosts. All I want is a goddamn smoke. Don’t judge me. If you were stuck in a dark system of tunnels surrounded by people who don’t like you, you’d be a little stressed out too. I think they’re mad because I’m not as transparent as them. Just because they can’t see my veins doesn’t give them any reason to take my bag away from me. I wonder if one of the kids can find it for me. I think I have chocolate in my bag. They can have all the chocolate. I just need a smoke.
I walk down the dark hall with my hand grazing the wall. I need to keep my hand on the wall, or else I start to panic and all I can think about is a cigarette. I’m almost nauseous at the thought of it. I almost puke when I run into something as tall as my belly button. “Ow! Why’d you do that!?” It’s a kid. Perfect!
“Oh I’m sorry. I can’t see.”
“Why can’t you see?”
“Wait. You CAN see?”
“Of course, I can see! It’s a little hard to see you though. You’re darker than the rest of us.”
“I can’t see without my bag. I have a bunch of medicine that helps me see, but someone took it from me. If you can find my bag, then I’ll reward you.”
“Easy! Come with me. I know where they keep the surface stuff.” He grabs my hand and puts it on the back of his collar. This kid is basically my guide dog. We turn left, then right, left, left, and stop. “This part is a little tricky. Get down on all fours.”
“What?” This little shit grabbed my shirt and pulled me down on my hands and knees. He puts my hand on his ankle and we crawl through this tunnel for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of me scrapping my hair off on the roof of this tunnel, we reach an opening. The kid jerks his ankle out of my hand. I’m lost. I hear his feet scurry away from me. Is this kid going to betray me? “Aye! Where did you go?!” I hear his feet scurry back towards me. The kid gave out a little grunt and I felt my bag take out my knees from the left. I hate this kid.
“Alright there’s your bag. Now where’s my reward?” As I dig through my bag, I tell him to come to me. I found my cigarettes and my lighter. Okay. This kid deserves all the chocolate in my bag, but I need help to get out of here.
“Lead me out of here and you get your reward.”
“Uuugh. Fine. This reward better be something!” He leads me back to my room, and I give him four chocolate bars. “What is this?”
“It’s chocolate. You eat it and it tastes better than anything you guys have down here.” The kid gives a little gasp and runs off. I lay down on my cot with my cigarettes close to my heart. I almost fall asleep peacefully for once down here, but I hear a stampede of adult feet getting louder and louder. I shouldn’t have given that kid all the chocolate bars. They know I have my bag. I light a cigarette in my room and take a drag long enough to burn through half the stick. I blow the smoke at my door and flick the cigarette out into the hallway. “You should’ve left me on the surface.”
As I watch the glowing cigarette cut through my cloud of smoke, I see the kid. He’s holding the wrapper of the chocolate. The glow of the cigarette shows me his eyes. His eyes are sky blue. It’s the calmest I’ve felt down here, just staring into this kid’s eyes for a split second because it was a piece of the surface. I’m sorry kid. The cigarette lands on the ground and the tunnels ignite like the walls are coated in gas. It’s so bright that I can’t see the kid anymore. All I hear is the explosion of the community. I can’t hear the screams. I can’t see them burn. I can’t breathe. It’s not new to me though. I’ve been suffocating since I was 16. I’m not sorry to this community because they trapped me here. I am sorry to the kid though. He was a piece of beauty from the old world.
Men and Boys
The woman in her early twenties drove into the parking lot in front of the prison and parked her car. She had been counting the days until he would finally be released. The guard watched her exit her car and walk into the middle of the lot. She walked with short footsteps and raised shoulders, her hair covering the sides of her face seeming to try to shield her from the prison. She stopped as the young man walked out of the prison complex, approaching her with his shoulders relaxed and arms open.
As he walked out toward her, the guard took note of his body: he was about six feet tall. He always had a thin frame. But he had grown broader shoulders over the four years he was imprisoned. Despite the scars all over his body, seemed very healthy compared to the other prisoners nonetheless. His curly hair had also grown much longer over the four years, now possessed by an elastic band in a ponytail behind his head. He seemed to have a good genetic makeup.
The guard, on the other hand, was an older, middle-aged man. The young man’s chest poked out through his shirt; the guard’s stomach poked out instead. The guard’s arms were thick like the man’s, but more with fat than with muscle. At about the same height, the two seemed drastically different in weight and, as a result of the ugly bruise on the guard’s arm, drastically different in health as well. The guard always envied the man’s body while he was in prison and he envied it now as he walked as though he was free. He was often a target.
The woman in her early twenties awaited him in the lot, and he smiled as he approached her with an almost triumphant walk. When he finally stood directly in front of her, the guard could see that he almost dwarfed her in size. His denim jeans matched her denim jacket. Her black leggings complemented his black t-shirt, cloaked by his brown leather jacket.
Their eyes met and she smiled. At first sight after four years, his hair was longer, he was more muscular, he was visibly older, and nonetheless he seemed the same as he did just before he went to prison. Then she looked at his face and something seemed to have changed. His face had a scar on it and it seemed as though he got it recently.
“Are you doing alright?” she asked him.
“I’ve been okay, but I’m glad to be out now.”
“What happened to your face?”
“I let the beard grow a little,” he grinned.
“You and that damn beard,” she smiled. “You always talked about trying to grow one.”
“Yeah, thank God,” he laughed a little.
“Same old Anthony,” she smirked, and then the smirk fell off both of their faces. “I was talking about the scars all over your face.”
He blinked, fighting back a tear. “What do you mean?”
He knew what she meant. And she knew that he knew.
“You know what I mean. Where did all these scars come from?”
At that precise moment Anthony remembered something. Or he didnt remember it; he actually didnt know. Only an image appeared in his mind. Warmth on his hand on his thumb and his knuckles. And he was clenching a toothbrush with a sharp end. And a boy’s young face with an expression of absolute fear and horror and panic. His face had a huge scar too. And the pointed end of a shiv plunged into his heart and blood profusely trickled down Anthony’s arm. A boy he did not know. A boy he thinks he killed.
“Mya,” he trembled, “You have no idea what I went through while I was in there.”
She shushed him. “It’s okay if you don’t wanna talk about it right now.”
He nodded his head and looked into her eyes.
The guard watched them both. Something seemed different.
Anthony told Mya that something did happen while he was in there and Mya listened and he joked that he had to endure the unbearable pain of wearing such an ugly orange jumpsuit. He smiled and she smirked, raising an eyebrow at him. “You really have to joke with me right now?” she sniped back at him.
“Same old Anthony, remember?”
They shared a brief chuckle. Then she took him by the hand and her hands were soft and comfortable to touch. Anthony felt a sort of home in her fingers. She slid her hand up his arm and around the back of his neck, freeing her other hand to meet it there while his hands found their way to her hips and his gaze found its way right into hers. Mya secured her body within his arms and rested her head on his bosom for a minute and looked up into his eyes. She saw that look she had waited for awaiting her on his face. That same naughty look in his eyes; that same naughty bite on his lip.
The guard felt a stinging pain on his forearm. Just beside his elbow, he had a dark rash that seemed to eat away at the skin around it. It had a grey crust around it that occasionally chipped and peeled off and spread the rash further up and down his arm. It was a disgusting nuisance, and he looked into the lot at Anthony. A small butterfly floated in front of him and landed on the gold ring on his finger. He brought it in front of his face and raised an eyebrow at it. Right then, its monarch orange wings turned pale gold. And he whispered at it under his breath. You are now under my command. And with that, he cast the creature back outward into the lot.
He directed it at Anthony.
The creature flapped its wings, hurrying at its target. Anthony never noticed it fly by. It sped to the middle of the lot and flew directly in-between the girl and the target and landed directly on the target’s nose. Anthony blinked. The creature was there, right in the middle of his face. It gazed into his eyes and slowed the flap of its wings to trance its victim.
Mya lifted a finger and tucked it right underneath the creature and picked it up off of Anthony’s face. She instead turned it in front of her own face and the butterfly looked at her instead. Anthony smirked at her. She smirked at the creature. And the creature’s wings returned to their orange color.
Anthony’s eyes, however, turned a little yellow.
The guard’s bruise bit at him once again, chipping away a little bit more as the newly liberated butterfly gently crept away from the two. But that always works. How did it not work this time? The guard fought back the expression of panic on his face because he isn’t weak. The guard looked at the girl again.
He wondered if she was a Resistor.
“You always did love butterflies,” Anthony grinned.
Mya smiled, but then he leaned back in toward her and she put her hands on his shoulders and held him away from her.
“Anthony,” she whispered, “we shouldn’t.” He let go of her hips.
He wasn’t confused. Not anymore, anyway.
“You’re completely over me, huh?”
“No, it’s fine. You did tell me you needed space. I guess after four years you—”
“Let me finish what I was saying.”
Anthony nodded his head and digressed.
“Anthony, I want us to be together again. But it’s been so long. I need time to re-teach myself to be in love with you.”
“Things have changed since you went to prison. Just give me some time; I’ll explain.”
He wanted to be angry with her. He wanted to cuss at her and express how sad he was when she said she didnt love him and how angry and confused he was when she texted him that she didnt know whether she made the right decision in leaving him. Now they just had a romantic moment just like back then and she cut it off out of nowhere and he didnt like that. He hated it when she did that but he didnt want to hurt her feelings.
“Okay,” he said, “I trust you.” And they left for Mya’s car.
The guard remained concerned as his bruise continued to eat at his skin. He caught the butterfly in his hand again, this time encasing it in his closed fist. He knew that Anthony’s eyes had turned yellow again. That meant he might still have a chance. Now trembling before him, the butterfly feared for its winged freedom as the guard opened his hands to corrupt it once more. The wings returned to their pale gold complexion and the guard sent it after Anthony just as they approached the car. Mya watched the creature, now curious about its preoccupation with Anthony. The butterfly danced around his head once again, this time whispering one simple command into his ear:
Kill the girl.