WE DID IT, BOYS!
We did it.
Thirty-one short stories. Admittedly, with varying levels of quality, but looking back on last year I think I’ve improved at least a little! Even though according to some sources they all sound the same . . .
What can I say, they make me happy.
Anyhow! Here are the last five stories. Next week we shall resume the normal programming, and I actually have stuff planned for once! So you can look forward to a November full of actual content.
Let’s get into it, shall we?
Day 27: Spark
I drew my jacket closer around my arms, trying to stop shivering. Wind whipped my hair into my eyes and numbed my ears.
“Almost done! You can go in the shelter if it’s too cold, you know.”
“I’m fine,” I lied. The shelter, a little shack with three walls and a roof made of cast-off two-by-fours and plywood sheets, was sturdy and surprisingly well-built and blocked the wind magnificently.
However it was very full of spiders after being left alone for a week or two.
He leaned over and blew into the little glowing sparks in the fire pit, a small puff of ash and smoke blooming up into his nose. He coughed. A small flame licked up into the slightly-damp log before dying into another plume of smoke.
I wrinkled my nose against the smoke, covering my eyes, trying not to breathe.
“Ah. Where’s the blowtorch–”
Day 28: Crispy
Tara flopped on the couch with a thump. Her head knocked into Kylie’s shoulder,
“Agh! Dude, ow!”
Tara grinned up at her, popping something in her mouth. Kylie winced as a crunching sound assaulted her ears. She shoved Tara off the couch onto the floor.
“You are a menace to society.”
Tara snorted. She held out a potato chip from her position sprawled on the floor.
“No thank you I am reading.”
Tara frowned and held it closer, sitting up a little.
“No thank you.”
The smaller girl’s eyebrows drew together and she tossed the potato chip into her mouth, chomping loudly.
Kylie shuddered a little. “Can you like. Not? That is gross.”
Tara looked her dead in the eyes and ate another one.
With a sigh Kylie turned her attention back to her book. Eventually Tara climbed back up on the couch and snuggled against her side, offering yet another of the snacks. Kylie rolled her eyes and accepted it.
Day 29: Patch
It’s so much colder when it’s dark, when the wind rattles the lampposts, when the electric light bulbs flicker and threaten to go out, taking the last warm light with them. It’s so much colder when the stars are gone, tucked away behind layers of cloud and smoke and something in between. It’s so much colder when the streets are empty, not even mechanicals puttering about with their comforting ticks and pings.
There is one mechanical, though it isn’t puttering about. It isn’t ticking or pinging.
It’s sat against a building, just outside of the circle of false warmth from a flickering streetlamp. Amber reflects off the coppery surfaces, gold off the silvery ones. The eyes don’t reflect anything; they aren’t glass. Just little lightbulbs in the place where eyes should be, and right now they emit no light.
It’s not a pretty thing. Shaped enough like a human, for sure, without appearing so much so that it’s unsettling. Only it appears that whoever created it wasn’t much concerned with any sort of aesthetic merit. Gears and pistons show at the joints, through the gaps in the patchwork of metal plates that make up its skin. Copper and tin and steel fitted together like a ragged quilt, sewn with rivets and wire.
A bird hops across the damp cobblestones, tilting its head to direct a beady eye towards the lifeless mechanical.
The bird can feel the cold. The mechanical cannot. But the bird has a warm, beating heart, feathers fuffed to trap heat against its skin. The mechanical can do nothing but let the frost encroach into its inner workings. With no warm blood, no comfort of feathers or fur. Only mismatched metal that no longer ticks with life.
The pounding of footsteps against cobblestone echo loud in the empty street. Through the fog comes a child, panting, scarf flying behind, hand clutched to a cap that wants to fly off into the night.
The bird darts into the sky. Startled by the noise and the approach, it does not hear the child call out the mechanical’s name, scold it in a worried tone for running off and running down. It is far gone before the child scoops the broken down machine awkwardly up in his arms and holds it tight, warm against cold metal. The bird is home long before the child is, carrying his patchwork creation until he can restore the tick in its chest.
Day 30: Slither
Wil’s voice echoed strangely in the cave, disorientingly close in his ears as he stood just in the entrance. He almost wanted to shout again, just because it was interesting.
He stepped forward, holding the torch out as far as possible. Not that it illuminated more then otherwise; he just didn’t want the smoke anywhere near his eyes. A soft rumble grabbed his attention.
A huge pile of gold coins.
Now that he was inside, Wil realized that most of the cavern was just filled with piles of various sizes and various precious contents. Gold coins, gold jewelery, silver jewelery, jewel jewelery, swords and other weapons. One corner was filled with nothing but shiny-ish rocks.
The pile moved, the coin one. Disks skittered down to the cave floor, chinking and clinking and looking almost like running water as they shifted.
An eye peeked through and met with Wil’s.
It was very tiny.
“Um . . . hallo?” Wil tried again. “Are you uh . . .” He looked down at the ink hastily scrawled on the inside of his forearm. “Feren the Destroyer?”
A miniscule nose rooted its way out. “Yes. Who’re you?”
“Uh. I’m Wil. Postman. I have a letter for you.”
The entire coin pile cascaded into a veritable waterfall of gold as the little dragon scrambled out from its horde. “From who!?” it demanded, sliding and tumbling down and then somehow climbing up Wil’s trouser leg.
He blinked, crouching down to the creature’s level. It was the size of a kitten, scales smaller than the nail of Wil’s little finger, a tail that would be just long enough to wrap around his wrist.
Wil cleared his throat. “It’s from the mayor of Jodshire. I think it’s an invitation?”
The tiny dragon gasped, tail flicking. “To the autumn festival!?”
“I would assume so, yes.”
“Give it me!”
Wil snorted. It was just so ridiculous, hearing this adorable little dragon demanding something of him. But he composed himself and plucked the envelope from his message bag and held it out.
Feren the Destroyer narrowed his glittery little eyes. “Well you’ll have to read it for me, won’t you? I can’t be bothered to.”
It was harder to keep from laughing this time but Wil managed it.
Day 31: Risk
Danger’s just like, a part of my life, you know? I mean I don’t even know if danger’s the right word to use. Excitement, maybe? Not sure what to call it when there aren’t consequences.
I mean. There are consequences. Just not permanent ones.
Trauma isn’t permanent, right?
So yeah not being able to die is kind of handy! I can be the hero I’ve always told people I was. That’s me, Aislinn Mollisong, Hero! Don’t have to worry about risking my life, I can do what needs done! Don’t have to concern myself with dumb stuff like mortality!
Just as long as I don’t think about it too hard. That doesn’t usually go well.
But that’s all fine! I save lives, that’s the most important thing! I save lives and I fix problems and everything is fine. That’s my job, that’s why I’m here, so anything that goes wrong is just an occupational hazard. High risk, high reward, and all that.
It’s not like it’s not fun! It’s fun sometimes, that’s for sure. But it wouldn’t be a job if it was fun all the time, right? And danger is fun! Gets the adrenaline rushing, when you survive it, it feels great. Just as long as it’s only dangerous for me.
I love what I do.
But here, bleeding out on a floor in a world that isn’t mine, knowing that it won’t kill me no matter how much it hurts, it’s a little harder to remember.
I’ll be fine.
That last one got a little darker than expected, but that’s fine, it’s accurate to the character.
What did you guys think? Have I improved? Is it just extremely obvious how rushed I was making these?
If you would like to read them all at once, here’s a Google Doc with the entire collection.
I’ve not much else to say. Happy November! See you next week!