Tag Archives: Picture It & Write

If you can’t beat them

The mercenary army appeared in the village at sunrise. The butchery didn’t take long, well-armed veteran troops against helpless peasants. In less than an hour, the last scream died away.

Magister Ho shook the sole survivor in his gauntleted fist.

“Where is my former apprentice, Tuan Ti?”

The terrified peasant indicated a monastic outbuilding. The Magister nodded briefly with gratitude, and then his hand erupted into flame and plunged through the peasant’s chest.

Ho’s boot kicked the door open on the North side of the building, just in time to see a familiar face disappearing from the far doorway on the southern end of the monastery.

“So, Tuan Ti,” Magister Ho bellowed, stalking into the simple chamber where she kept her sleeping pallet. Hundreds of recently lit candles lined the long, narrow hall on both sides. “I see that you’ve been practicing. There was a time when your childish magic could not light even a single candlewick. So many at once, I am impressed.”

Tuan Ti sprinted for the boulder just behind the south door and dove behind it.

“Those aren’t candles,” she shouted back.

Everything on the north side of the boulder vanished instantly in a massive explosion.

“They’re bombs,” she whispered, removing her fingertips from her ears.

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209 words. Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

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Even the Largest Avalanche is Triggered by Small Things.

The “daddy longlegs” sits on a dry root, watching me with multiple prismatic eyes.

A common enough encounter, the little surveillance bots skitter everywhere in this desert. Microscopic plutonium chips power their round bodies, and they have multi-segmented legs that look very similar to pholcidae, cellar spiders.

The tiny scouts don’t take much notice of humans, as a rule. They still give me the jeebies, out here in the barrens, so I pack up my kit and prepare to move along.

A sharp buzzing draws my attention. One of the nasty hunter/killer waspbots, a “mud dauber,” swoops in on the longlegs. The two of them roll around in the dust battling, until the wasp lands a powerful electric “sting” that disables the smaller unit.

I throw my backpack over my shoulder and hike into the Omaha wasteland, while the machines continue to make war in the wreckage of human civilization.

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150 words. Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

Original image found here: http://www.thedesignwork.com/weird-pictures

Unchosen

My delicious frozen dinner doesn’t invoke much enthusiasm, but it breaks up the monotony. On the view screen, as usual, is a display of the nearby stars, lost against the backdrop of the Milky Way. Helpful icons feature range and closing data for the nearest ten. The numbers aren’t exactly scrolling by. Most shifts, you consider yourself lucky if a single digit changes.

I’m in a bussard ramjet. It’s blasting out of the local arm at a steady 0.08 G in the general direction of 3 Sagittarii, toward galactic center. Our current speed is just about 0.8C, still slowly climbing but ultimately limited to 1.0.

In the cargo bay is my frozen wife and daughter, and an enormous stock of frozen seeds and embryos. They saved everything they could, but I don’t know if we’ll ever arrive anywhere livable. The computer still hasn’t selected a specific target; it hasn’t scanned any promising “possible habitables” yet, if it ever does. I need to get back in the freezer. The system only awakens me every dozen years for status checks.

It was magnanimous of the invaders to let a few of us go. It just sucks to be among the refugees.

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199 words. Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

Culinary Sensation

Kuri shook her head free of the cloud of droning insects. She kept running, one foot in front of the other in a stumbling trot. Despite incipient exhaustion, she concentrated on fighting awkwardly through grasping vines and dense undergrowth.

The game preserve extended for fifty miles in any direction, at least. Zero chance to reach its border before nightfall, and darkness would surely signal the end. Stealing hurried glances behind, she dreaded catching another glimpse of the terrifying orange and black streak that had set her headlong flight into motion.

Broad elephant ear leaves slapped at her arms, and sharp green leaf-blades chopped away at her bleeding legs. She was following a rough animal trail, with frequent patches of machete-dulling dense undergrowth. Retreating from foliage impassable to anything larger that a squirrel, she was forced to backtrack many times, wasting time and energy searching out an alternate route.

She froze.

Thrashing from close by, something enormous was bulling its way through the creepers. Kuri covered her mouth, holding back the scream when broken sunbeams briefly illuminated something moving, something huge. Gradually, the thrashing diminished and the calls of jungle birds returned to the leady canopy overhead. Kuri drew a long and shuddery breath, closed her eyes, and changed direction.

Keep moving, keep moving. No matter how tired you are, you do not want to meet whatever’s out there.

It had to be enormous; judging by the volume it had made. In addition, it was considerably faster than Kuri. The coloring loudly screamed “tiger,” but did even tigers grow that big?

It announced its presence with a seismic growl, and Kuri froze. Back against a tree, she examined her pursuer.

Almost seven feet tall, close to four hundred pounds. Bipedal, it stood on two massive paws. Feline and furred, its striping was similar to a tiger. Barrel-chested and wasp-wasted, its ears looked all wrong, and its knees bent forward (rather than digitigrade, as typical in big cats).

One massive leaping bound and Kuri was pinned to the ground. Needle pointed claws pressed against her skin just over her eyebrows, drawing blood droplets.

“Are you playing with your food, Student of Mathematics?”

Another one, a foot taller and a quarter more massive, crouched in the shadow of the trees.

“Yes, Chthipt-Captain.”

“Good lad.”

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Kind of a homage piece, inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt. Larry Niven or Star Trek fans might possibly recognize a Kzin father and son pair.

Cats playing with their food… We can blame Prada for that one.

Another feline feast.

Human Resources Evaluation

“Here she comes, Mr. Snyder. She’s turning into the alley… Now.”

Her name was Chavez and she careened into the alley mouth at top speed, bounced off the brick wall and slumped over. Gasping for air, drawing great shuddering breaths like a sprinter at the finish line.

“She’s exhausted,” Snyder observed.

“The sim has kept her running for the last half hour,” said Decker. “She’s fleeing from half-glimpsed shadowy pursuers, panting, howling, and claw sounds from in the darkness.”

Chavez ducked down the alleyway, dancing from cover to cover behind dumpsters and trashcans, her terrified eyes snapping back to check the alley’s entrance for pursuers every few seconds.

“Here we go, she’s spotted the fire escape,” said Decker.

They watched as Chavez scrambled quickly up the fire escape, and paused before the only lit window.

“Clock started. Mr. Snyder, this is the critical moment of the sim. Candidates will choose to shun the light and warmth, and embrace the darkness out of suspicion and distrust. Alternatively, accept the offered sanctuary, trusting hope and intuition. The third option is simply hesitating too long, paralyzed by indecision.”

Chavez slowly opened the window and climbed through.

“So she passed,” Synder grinned. “That’s excellent, right?”

Decker pressed the blue button on the console and sat back in his chair. “Mr. Snyder, this sim is an evaluation for executive potential. Do you imagine wishful thinking is an admirable trait in executives?”

The door slid to one side and a security officer collected Snyder.

“Mr. Snyder has tested far too highly for empathy, Captain. Return him downstairs for worker drone evaluation. Perhaps he’ll be useful in the cubicle farm.”

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273 words. Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

 

Witches go digital

It was the latest gadget, a replacement for those old-fashioned reflecting pools and crystal balls. As a bonus, it could even operate for several days between recharges.

“Do we still own stock in Alchemical Components Supply?”

“I don’t think so. Pretty sure mum sold off the last of it after my wedding.”

Beneficent wouldn’t stop examining the “fairest in the land” currently displayed in full color on the ScryPad™, a gorgeous semi-nude depiction of herself, reclined.

“Stop admiring yourself, you bloody narcissist.”

Angrat’s angry scowl replaced the previous image, and the brand new tablet promptly cracked—warranty voided, no refunds.

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100 words. Prompted by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

by Lily Little at flicker

 

Sentinels

Sterling looked Jones over and frowned. The sergeant released the sigh of an angel pushed beyond endurance. “All right Jones, this duty is easy enough, even for your obviously simple mind. We guard this staircase. Nobody gets through the rusty door over there, and I mean no one. Shoot to kill, full prejudice, and we’re authorized to use lightning or any other means necessary.”

“Sergeant, I don’t understand. Isn’t this the stairway to Heaven?” Pvt. Jones flapped his wings to hold position.

Sterling slapped a palm over his face. “You’ve been listening to lyrics or something boy? Look down, son.”

The decayed stair spiraled away into darkness at the limit of vision. Storm clouds threatened and thunder ominously rumbled.

“It goes…”

“Right, bright boy, all the way to the other place.”

“Who’s going to climb it, sergeant?”

“Are you some kind of mental midget? They’re always trying to get out.”

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150 words. Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

No image attribution.

 

Journey to the Core

Ajax Seven launched with a scream of drill bit tearing through surface crust. The Core was an estimated sixteen hours directly below, along the central axis of Ajax’s drill.

Seven hours into the trip the ship lurched violently and the drill shriek intensified by an order of magnitude.

“Stop it! Kill it, or the gears will grind themselves to dust without resistance,” Captain Gustafson ordered.

“Did we strike some sort of air pocket, sir? A steam vent?” asked Briggs.

Gustafson waited patiently for the fog around the forward cameras to clear.

“A worm. Coddling moth larvae are common in apples.”

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100 words. In response to this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

Pretty sharp

“Did you bring it?”

“Yes sir, exactly as you requested.

Cavendish placed the leather sheath on the table, drew the knife carefully, and placed it for inspection.

Metcalfe whistled. “I didn’t expect it to catch the light like that.”

“Yes sir. Dr. Koufax told me the light refraction is an implicit result of the crystal formation. The molecular lattice is unique, and not found in nature. It will hold a durable edge that’s one atom thick. It’s completely non-metallic, of course.”

Metcalfe nodded at the image of Our Great Leader climbing out of his private jet.

“No metal detectors, perfect.”

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100 words, inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

No image attribution

 

Mirror world

“It doesn’t make any sense. They crossed through the gate in perfect health and comfort. Why would their bodies begin failing within hours?”

The Stereopticon displayed the result of Dr. Samuelson’s work on N-dimensional transformations—the press called it the “Mirror Universe.” The results of all robotic exploration, and every sort of preliminary testing that the team could think of demonstrated essentially what the theory had predicted: Another universe, identical to our own, but reflected.

Dr. Samovar showed Samuelson his own hand reflected in a pocket mirror.

“Chirality. Stereoisomers. Right- and left-handed molecules. You’ve got to bring them back, doctor!”

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Inspired by this week’s Picture It & Write prompt:

No image attribution.