31 Fantasy Characters, #22: Theocolese

31_fantasy_badgeTheocolese stood atop the step pyramid of Alandalbhe, clinging tight to the rough wall with his climbing claw. No one had seen him scale the back of monument on this moonless night. None would ever think to look up. None would ever dream what he had planned.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out two small bottles smaller than the palm of his hand. They contained the most extraordinary potion he had ever had the privilege of stealing. According to their former owner, the liquid changed your body for a few moments, such that you could pass through solid things. The problem was that this included the ground itself, unless the drinker had undergone a lot of practice.

Naturally, Theocolese had not practiced; he had not even tried it yet. But he had the notion that he wouldn’t need to practice for this particular theft.

He looked up at the stars and oriented himself along the top of the pyramid. He looked down at his feet. Was this the right spot? If he was off by just a foot…

Theocolese uncorked one of the vials, took a deep breath and drank. It was actually quite sweet. Nothing happened for a few seconds. He burped. He suddenly felt his body feel warm all over.

Then he was sinking.

His movement down was quicker than he expected, and he panicked when the floor met his face. But like a muddy pool, all he saw was brown. To his surprise he could breathe, but he wasn’t sure what he was breathing. He was now a little more at ease despite the strangeness of the situation.

Oh no, Theocolese thought. I forgot to count! How long have I been falling? Must be seven seconds by now. Only ten or so left and then… But what if my calculations were off? I could be stuck… well, too late now.

Suddenly it was pitch black, and he could somehow tell that he was no longer falling through the rocks of the pyramid, but through air. He had made it! He was in the chamber!

His body quickly chilled, and a breath later he fell much faster and hit the floor hard. Luckily it had only been a few feet.

He had twisted his ankle, but he didn’t care. He pulled out a torch from his bag with excitement and lit it up.

His jaw dropped.

The sarcophagus of the emperor Alandalbhe, last seen 1000 years ago, was right in front of him.

(The word prompt today was “Off.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

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31 Fantasy Characters, #21: Mr. Pitt

31_fantasy_badgeI saw Mr. Pitt everyday during my lunch break in the park. I was on one bench by the fountain, he was across the small plaza next to the playground. I called him Mr. Pitt because the first time I saw him he was wearing a University of Pittsburgh sweatshirt with the big blue letters “PITT” across the front. I never actually knew his real name. But Mr. Pitt seemed fitting because he wore it everyday in the colder months, because it was all he had.

Because Mr. Pitt was homeless.

We almost never talked to each other. We became friendly strangers once I realized the park was his latest place to panhandle; I would give a waive from across the plaza when he saw me and made eye contact, and he would waive back. Once I think he said something about the weather, but I never said anything back.

I never said anything back. Ever.

Not even on the day he walked over to me with a smile and a paper bag in his hand. I was nervous, of course, as a woman begin approached by a strange man. Plus homeless people are sometimes mentally unstable, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I saw right away the bag didn’t have booze in it, so that made me feel a little better. But then he held it out to me, and I just sat there with my sandwich in my hands, mid-bite, not sure what to do or say.

After a minute of him holding that bag out to me, he gave a small laugh, then set the bag down on the bench down beside me. He looked at me for a moment and cocked his head to the side, studying me. I’ll admit it was uncomfortable. Then he nodded, looking satisfied about something.

“Yes, you are definitely the next one,” Mr. Pitt said. I realized at that moment that he was British or Australian or something like that. He pointed at the bag. “I’m done with it, it’s yours now.”

He waited for me to say something. I didn’t. So he just shrugged, turned around, suddenly leapt into the air, turned into a mourning dove, and flew away out of the park.

Hand to God, it happened. And my life has never been the same after that.

(The word prompt today was “Park.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #20: Reggie Koch

31_fantasy_badgeReggie Koch stopped pedaling and coasted down the small incline in the road that led down to the docks. He sat up in the bike’s saddle and lit a cigarette with both hands, one holding the lighter, the other keeping the wind from blowing it out. He was always doing crazy crap like that, riding with no hands, driving cars with busted brakes. He laughed at his own recklessness. But hey, who gives? Everybody’s gotta die someday, right?

When he got down to the docks, it was empty. Not surprising. Few people braved the east coast anymore since 9/11, let alone Bayonne, Jersey. Plus it was the weekend, so even more likely that no one would be here. He got off the bike and leaned it against some crates. He tried not to make any noise. He knew there could be some cops around, the good ones anyway, the ones who tried to keep some order. Pitiful idiots, really. Why bother? This place was a dump. Anyone dumb enough to live here deserved anything that came to them.

He was doing it again. He kept trying not to look at the city. The city. It freaked him out every time, and every time he came back here he swore he wasn’t going to look again. But Reggie was looking, out of the corner of his eye. That small crazy part of him wanted to get a glimpse again. With a sigh of frustration at himself, he turned fully to look.

Nothing had changed. The ruined skyline, the complete darkness of the city, it was so weird. Like a ghost town — no, ghost city? Was that even a word? He remembered what it all used to look like when he was a kid, the Twin Towers, the Statue of Liberty, and all the other buildings he didn’t know the names of, all gone. Flattened by some nutso jihadis flying airplanes into the city with a nuke in their carry-on. Millions dead.

“For Allah,” they said.

Yeah, right. What the hell happened to the world?

Thoroughly creeped out once again, Reggie shook his head and rubbed his face with his hands, as if that would wipe away the image. He pulled out his phone and checked the time – 2:37 am. He caught a glimpse of the date just before shutting it off – October 20, 2016.

“Huh,” Reggie said out loud. “Totally forgot it’s my birthday tomorrow.” He put his phone back in his pocket. “I don’t feel twenty-two, I feel fifty-two.”

“It’s the radiation, idiot,” said a voice behind him.

Reggie rolled his eyes. Here’s Johnny.

(The word prompt today was “Weekend.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #19: Molum

31_fantasy_badgeMolum stared at the parchment posted on the front door of the village general store. It couldn’t be true. The Baron was a cruel man, no doubt, but this? She read it again carefully.

Notice:

  • All persons of Yanna descent are hereby banned from all commerce of any kind within the boundaries of the Entin Barony.
  • Any persons of Yanna descent found engaging in commerce will be detained indefinitely in the Garril work camps.
  • Any persons of Yanna descent found inciting opposition to The Baron will be executed.
  • Any Karlai found breaking this law will be immediately jailed on charges of suspicion of insurrection.
  • Any Karlai found aiding persons of Yanna descent to obtain food, clothing, or shelters outside of the Yanna-designated land will be executed on charges of treason.

Molum’s violet eyes blinked and a tear slid down her ruddy cheek. She quickly wiped it away, drew in a deep breath, and opened the door to the store. The conversation inside between two patrons and Spaar, the owner, stopped immediately.

“I’m sorry, Molum, you have to leave,” Spaar said.

Molum couldn’t tell what Spaar felt when he said it. His face was expressionless.

“I… I just came for some bread, and fruit—”

“You heard the man,” said one of the patrons, a cruel looking Karlai. “Get out of here, Yanna filth!”

“That’s enough out of you!” Spaar yelled at the man. “My store will obey the law — I don’t have to like it — but I won’t tolerate that behavior in my store. Say something like that again and you’re banned too!”

That brought a small smile to Molum’s mouth. But the cruel-looking man saw it.

“You think this is funny?” the man said as he came closer. “I’ll wring your neck you little—”

“Go Molum!” Spaar implored as he held back the man. “Please!”

But Molum was already turning, running. She stumbled on a rock and dropped her basket, left it behind, and kept running. She could hear fighting, pottery smashing, from the store behind her.

Fighting because of her. Because she was Yanna.

(The word prompt today was “Notice.” This scene takes place 100 years before the events in my book, By the Light of the Moons)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]

31 Fantasy Characters, #18: Shol’shagal

31_fantasy_badgeShol’shagal woke at Sunsrise, bloomed, then slowly turned her head away from the Suns to see her neighbor Gog’latur beside her.

“I think today’s our day, friend” Shol’shagal said.

Gog’latur coughed some pollen in retort. “You’ve been saying that for days, Shol’shagal. Not one catch yet.”

Shol’shagal reached a thick vine over to console her friend, but the plant batted her away with her own vines.

“Leave me alone,” Gog’latur said.

Shol’shagal let her be, and faced the Suns again. The rays brought strength and a clear purpose. She stretched her roots down into the water table for a drink and was refreshed. The few clouds in the sky was a welcome change from the previous dry and withering week’s cloudy days with no rain.

A rustle came from the shrubs ahead of them. The shrubs didn’t speak her language, but Shol’shagal had learned enough of theirs to know that something was coming.

Something animal.

Indeed, it was animal. A furry, scrappy-looking, four-legger that made a disturbing barking noise when it emerged from the shrub line.

Gog’latur didn’t ask, as usual, so Shol’shagal simply let Gog’latur take it. The animal yelped when the vine swiftly wrapped a leg, and within seconds, the creature was in the mighty plant’s maw. It struggled within, but Gog’latur’s acid soon silenced the creature.

Then a small band of animals came forth, walking on hind legs, wearing animal skins on their bodies, and even things made from grasses.

Grasses. Her plant-kin.

“Lunch!” Shol’shagal screamed.

And the hind-leggers screamed as well, as neighbors Shol’shagal and Gog’latur feasted on fresh meat.

(The word prompt today was “Neighbor.”)

[– 31 Fantasy Characters in 31 Days –]