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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Fiction: Ixi Agency (Part 1) (880 words)

–Willow–

“You’re insane.”  Marcy laughed as she watched Willow bunny-hopped down the stairs of the stadium seating movie theatre.  Willow couldn’t help but smiled to herself.  It was childish, but it was fun.  The credits had just finished rolling and the PG-13 rating and reasoning was glowing bright blue on the screen.

“I just really like movies,” Willow responded from the bottom step, “They’re exciting.”

“Add some spice to life,” Marcy continued.

“Precisely.”  Willow draped her arm over Marcy’s shoulder as she reached the bottom step, “What’s the point in life without a little spice? Kidnappings, Mysteries, maybe a little torture. All that fun stuff.”

“Oh, no, don’t say that. You’re going to get me kidnapped all because you wanted an interesting life.” Marcy shrugged out from underneath Willow’s arm, and started fishing around in her purse for her car keys.

“You aren’t going to get kidnapped.”

“And now you’ve jinxed it. Thanks, Wil thanks a lot.”

Willow sighed with fake exasperation. “Fair enough. If you get kidnapped, feel free to blame me.  I’ll even turn myself in to the cops. ‘You see, officer, it’s my fault. I jinxed her.’ I think that would go over very well, yes.”

“Oh, hardy har, har.” They cut through the lobby and out into the parking lot, blinking against the brightness of the setting sun.  “Just for that, I am taking you straight home without stopping for Cold Stone.”  Willow waited by the passenger side door, while Marcy fiddled with the lock.  Willow sent a pouting puppy dog look at her friend across the top of the car, but Marcy knew it too well, and took it all in stride. “No, no, no. Straight home for you.  Where you can sit and wait for the phone call that informs you I’ve been stolen away.”

“But Mommy Marcy–”

“No buts, young lady. Now get in the car.”  The six-minute drive back to Willow’s house was spend discussing the movie, an action flick based very loosely on a series of comic books from the 1970s, broken off only long enough for Willow to pout as Marcy drove past the turn off for Cold Stone Creamery.

But, Marcy ignored the pout easily, and continued the drive. She pulled up in front of Willow’s apartment building.

As Willow crawled out of the car, she told Marcy, “Don’t you worry–I’m going to head straight inside and wait by the phone. You call me when you get home so that I don’t panic that you’ve been taken somewhere in between here and there.”

“Oh, don’t you worry.  I will.”  As soon as Willow shut the car door, Marcy sped away.  Willow shook her head and grinned, Marcy was her own special brand of a little bit crazy.  Not to say that Willow herself wasn’t an even worse brand of crazy.

Willow checked her mail, and then made her way up to her third floor apartment, and let herself in with ease.

Willow turned and clicked the lock behind her.  She started down the hall towards the kitchen, humming a little tune to herself, when she suddenly stopped tense.  With an almost imperceptible movement, she slipped her Swiss army knife out of her pocket and flipped up the corkscrew out.  She heard a soft click, the sound of someone setting down a coffee mug on the kitchen table. Very slowly, Willow positioned herself in the hall so she could check out the reflection of the kitchen in a decorative hanging mirror.  When she saw the profile of a stern looking woman with a gray, tight bun, Willow let out a soft sigh of relief, and slipped the knife back into her pocket.

And then she immediately started to protest. “No, no, no, Laurel. Do you know how long I have been on call and on activity duty?  To say that I need this break is the understatement of the millennium.  I don’t care what’s going on; I am not coming into the agency.”  Willow crossed the kitchen and sank down into the chair on the opposite side of the table. The gray hair woman took the sight of Willow in for a moment, picked up her cup and took a long sip, and then placed it back onto the table.

“I’m afraid, Agent Six–”

“Willow, Please, I’m Off-Duty.” Willow got up from the table and started fidgeting at the sink, filling up the tea-kettle, washing out a free mug, a grin on her face.  Laurel could peg and plead but–well, Willow would most likely return with her for whatever she needed.  But she was going to have a little fun with her first.  It was her prerogative for having her down time interrupted.

“Willow, then.  But you don’t have a choice. You are being recalled to active duty.”

“And why is it that I have no choice?” Willow asked, putting the tea kettle on the stove.

“Because everyone is being recalled.  All eleven agents are being told to come in, at once.”

Suddenly, all the humor drained out of Willow’s attitude, and she was pretty sure all the blood drained out of her face.  Slowly she turned back to face Laurel.

“All eleven, but that–” She trailed off, shocked.

“It’s never happened before, yes.  Agent Six, the Marbles are gone.”

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Ixi Agency

 

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Fiction: April 21st in Dana Science Building (498 words)

The science building at 11pm on a Saturday night is dead silent.  Most of the lights have been turned out by the security personnel as a part of the school’s going green policy.  In fact, once or twice during the semester, the guards had turned the lights all the way down to safety lights on her.  She didn’t mind too much though. No one really expected anyone to be in the silence building at that time of night anyways.

But she liked being there when the pace was still and quiet.  She was an oddity anyway, an English and Film major who actually went to—let alone enjoyed—being in the science and computer science building.  And in the middle of the night, she headed over there, her backpack loaded down with textbooks and notepads.  She took over a whole section of computers, spreading her stuff out over several desks.  When she got bored with one subject, she spun in her chair to the next desk, to the next topic.  When she started to get a little tired, she slipped off her ballet flats and ran a couple of laps around the courtyard barefoot, just to get her blood pumping again.  If it got to be too much, sometimes she would take a twenty-minute nap on the couch in the lobby.  But most of the time, she just worked through the night until the dining hall opened for brunch on Sunday morning.

She always slept her Sundays away.  Her friends believed that it was just the week’s exhaustion catching up with her, or else her own little way of preparing for the next week’s stress.  No one really thought she sat up all night, humming to herself, getting as much work done as possible.  That silent, solitary work place, was her favorite part of the campus, and one of her favorite parts of being in college.  As much as she never wanted to admit it to her friends, some of her favorite times too.

In just under a month, she as going to be graduating.  She did have a job waiting for her.  Not a good one, mind you, but in this climate, it was more than she could have hoped for.  She was going to move into an apartment with far too many other recent grads so that she, and they, could afford to save some money in the next few years.  She would no longer have access to these kinds of twenty-four hour facilities, nor would she have the luxury of pulling weekly all-nighters, just for the hell of it, just to get caught up on a slacking to do list.  So, four more nights like this, and then she’d be done.

She leaned back in her hair and took in the three desks covered with her stuff.  She could do this. It would be hard, but she could do this.  First, however, she would enjoy her last few days, her last perfect Saturday nights, to their absolute fullest.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Un-Real (581 words)

Izzy’s mom was practically glued to the side of the radio since the report started. Izzy had been sitting nearby almost as long, incapable of believing exactly what she was hearing.  A battle of the scale that was being reported, that had to be some kind of fantastical story, right? Especially since it was coupled with a foreign land, and a place that Izzy had never laid eyes on.

But it wasn’t a foreign country for her mother.  That place was where she had grown up, lived until she was well into her teens. It was a place where she had witnessed one of her best friends give up her life to save someone else, without a moment’s hesitation. And now, the hero of this story, the man leading this defense, the man trying to set things right, was that same best friend’s son.  Izzy watched her mother carefully.  She couldn’t even tell if she was still listening, or if she was just incapable of leaving her chair because she was too stunned.

The battle seemed to be over, but the reports were still coming in with a growing death toll as more and more people were being located.  The good, the best friend’s son had won, but with so much loss, well, no one was really cheering.

Finally her mother spoke.  “Your father is in that battle.”  Izzy jumped almost a foot.  The never mentioned her father.  And she meant that almost literally. Izzy was nineteen years old, and her father had been mentioned all of four times.  Izzy knew that exactly.  She had been counting.  “If Danny went into battle, which clearly he did, then your father was in that battle.  If I know one thing, it’s that your father would not abandon those who love him.  No. That’s my job.”

Izzy started at her mother in shock. “I—I don’t understand.”

“I knew this battle was coming.  I didn’t know when, but I didn’t want to be there with you as a baby or toddler while the battle broke out around us.  Or worse, for the battle to wait for you to be old enough to fight yourself.  I couldn’t have you in that battle, Isabel. I couldn’t have you risk your life.  I packed you up and we left—your poor father.  Your poor, poor father.”

Izzy opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out.  She genuinely had no idea how to respond.

In that moment, however, she was saved having to come up with an answer. Because the radio announcer said, “Here, we have been given a list of deaths that have been tallied thus far.  These are only confirmed deaths.  Please keep in mind that if you are listening for a specific loved one, this is just a list of the confirmed and identified dead.  Please understand that we are doing our best to get you clear communication in this time of chaos—“

The list was long, starting with ‘A’ last names.  Izzy didn’t really listen.  She wouldn’t know any of those names for any reason.  But she paid very close attention to her mother.

And right after “Richard McMannon” her mother clasped both her hands over her mouth, and genuinely started to cry.  When the announcer finished his list, Izzy’s mother turned and looked her right in the eye. “I’m so sorry, Iz, your father is dead.”

Izzy was sure this had to be a dream.  It was all just too fantastical to be real.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: The Family Way (Part 1) (408 words)

Nature and Genetics decided to make my sister and I identical.  Our psychologies and priorities made us dramatically different. I was a geeky kind of girl, often to be found in the library or on a couch in front of a television or movie marathon. My fondness for Hershey’s kisses and distaste for exercising left me a little bit on the chubby side of things.  I am also stubbornly lazy, so my hair is long, still it’s natural reddish-brown color, and can frequently be found in a ponytail, in its natural state of somewhere in between straight and curly.

Marta, on the other hand, was about as far away from geeky as physically possible.  She started playing sports when we were about four years old.  Well, we both did, but Marta embraced it with a passion that I never even dreamt of.  She didn’t ever do cheerleading, she never delved into that cliché, but pretty much anything else you can name, she played, and she was good.  It made her rather popular, and she found that she liked the attention.  So, she kept it.  Her hair is also long, but in a much more stylish cut, and she spends a solid hour locked in our bathroom each morning flat ironing and re-curling her hair so that it sat just so.   She also uses some sort of sun in product that really brings out the red highlights and makes her hair look so much lighter than mine.

Needless to say, our social circles don’t overlap a whole lot while we’re at school.  Really, the only “club” that were both a part of is “Roundtable,” the clever name that our school came up with for the student government executive board since we are the “Mill Dam Knights.”  As seniors, Marta was the Vice President of Social Events, and I was the Student Liaison to the Computer Science Department.

You would think that this is some sort of story of bitter identical twins, who resent each other and run in separate circles to separate themselves from each other.  Nope. Marta and I are still the very best of friends.  I don’t understand her, and I’m going to go ahead and assume that she doesn’t understand me, but she has always been my best friend.

So when my sister approached me with some life changing news, I knew, without a doubt that I was going to help my sister, whatever the cost.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Avery and Marta

 

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Fiction: Half a Second (99 words)

He brushed her hair out of her face and tucked it behind her ear as they waited.  It was a small and simple movement, well-practiced, and probably unconscious, but it dropped the tension in her shoulders dramatically. It was the small reminder that he was there, that he loved her, that no matter how hard this was, it was not just her burden, and she didn’t have to carry the weight alone.  That was really all she needed to know. That throughout it all, she wasn’t alone. And really, she could do anything as long as she wasn’t alone.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Almost Married (295 Words)

It was her wedding day.  She just kept repeated that fact to herself over and over again.  It was her wedding day! She was pretty sure that this day was never going to come.  She was almost positive that she would never actually fall in love.  No one out there would ever be good enough for her, or if they were, she wouldn’t be good enough for them. It was a shame, but she just thought it was a fact that she had learned to deal with over the years.

But then he came along.  He was tall and handsome, and funny, but actually not an asshole about any of those facts.  He was nice to children, kept his cool in tough situations, respectful, and polite, but certainly not above making the crass comment or the occasional off-color joke. He knew the differences between the different Stargate series, and could name every Beatles Album.  He wasn’t above paying a little extra to make sure he got what he wanted, but he knew how to pinch a penny when he needed to.

And best, and most mysteriously of all, he loved her with all his heart. And damn if she didn’t love him back.  She couldn’t believe her luck when he finally proposed.  She kind of wanted to play it coyly, but she couldn’t bring herself to. She accepted the proposal in less time than a heartbeat.

She waited for it all to fall apart.  Throughout the engagement, she waited for a flaw that one or both of them couldn’t live with.  But month after month passed.  Their wedding plans even went smoothly.  And they were still together, and now they were finally here.  They were finally getting married, and heaven help her, she was happy.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Advice on Stress (293 words)

Some days, you just don’t know what to do.  And you have to resign yourself to that fat. I have a tried and true method for when I realized that I can’t do what I what or feel that I need to do and the stress is starting to wear away at my sanity. It does make me look slightly insane, but it’s quite an even trade-off in the long run.

What I do is laugh.  That’s it.  Usually I just sit myself down in the middle of my bedroom floor and try to find something to laugh about.  And you’d be amazed how easy it is to find something to laugh about.  And then once you’ve started, it leads to another funny thought, or funny memory, or funny whatever, and it becomes quite impossible to stop laughing, but that’s okay because you don’t really want to stop.  Just laugh until you can’t anymore, until your throat is dry and your abs start to hurt and you’ll just be ready to curl up in a ball and sleep for a while.

And you might just curl up in a ball and sleep for a little while.  Or maybe curl up in a ball and cry for a little while. And that’s okay too. Because sometimes life sucks and it’s okay to have a minor breaking point here and there along the way.

But after you’ve laughed, and maybe cried, and maybe got some sleep, it’s time to get up, dust yourself off, and get back to work.  There is always a way to beat whatever you think is beating you, and you do have to find that way.  All I’m saying is that sometimes, it’s the best idea to just take a break.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2014 in Stories

 

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