FFM 2020 30: Never Tickle A Sleeping Beast

No prompt used.

“Never tickle a sleeping dragon.”

They should’ve had the slogan say, “Never tickle a sleeping dangerous beast of any kind.”

I mean, the world of Harry Potter has other dangerous beasts than just dragons, so it’d make more sense, right?

Whatever. It’s too late anyway. The beast I tickled is now closing in on me.

I’m a dead woman already.

FFM 2020 13: A Wish for An Explosion

The prompt used: “I’ve heard that if you blow it up, you’ll get a wish.” by WindySilver.

“I’ve heard that if you blow it up, you’ll get a wish.”
“Yeah. Y’know, those mechas are a huge threat to us. I’m sure the adults would grant you a wish if you blew that place up.”
“If I had a death wish, I could just go there and get shot.”
“But you don’t, right?”
“I guess not, but I also don’t have a wish the adults could fulfill at least right now.”
“Well, blowing it up would still be appreciated, and I have the explosives for the job. Every bit counts in this war.”
“Yeah, right. My dad would chew me out if I made it back alive.”
“I know. Mine would too.”
“So, you coming with me?”
“Of course I am.”
“I knew you would. C’mon, let’s go. Time to blow up some mechs!”

FFM 2020 11: Heavy Metal Sanctuary

No prompt used.

Challenge: 1 cataclysmic event, 2 genres (one literary and one musical), 3 survivors. Optional element: include Survivor by Destiny’s Child or another song with survival-based themes.

My choices were: the invasion and devastation of Earth by another civilization (the Fiirddokha from some of my other stories), sci-fi and heavy metal and the three groups of people who made it into the heavy metal sanctuary despite of the invasion: 1) the metalheads, 2) the shamans, 3) the rest of the survivors. Naturally, the song Survivor was included in the story.

If the movie industry ever recovered from Earth getting invaded and thoroughly ravaged, the first soundtracks would be mainly heavy metal: loud and aggressive just like the destruction over our heads on the surface. I had found myself in an underwater sanctuary filled with artists and… quirky people, so my personal soundtrack was whatever the musicians happened to be playing. It echoed down the metallic halls every day in the small facility we were stuck in.

The musicians usually played heavy metal, pouring the destruction, loss and death into their lyrics and melodies. It was virtually impossible to escape it; the powerful bass and drums could be felt at least slightly in the floor and walls no matter where you were.

I wonder how the nearby fish and such took the music. They must have heard it; the rumbles were powerful enough to traverse in the water for sure.

The shamans, as they called themselves, certainly minded it. While they had tried to talk the metalheads into keeping it down, their efforts were fruitless to the point I feared that the two groups might start a miniature war inside the sanctuary. However, despite of being seemingly kind of detached from the normal society, the shamans knew better than to try and pick a fight with the metalheads. I’m pretty sure that the incident in which a poet played an insanely old pop song — Survivor by Destiny’s Child, if I recall correctly — then insulted the metalheads and got beaten up for it had something do with it. I personally didn’t mind the incident much since the poet’s taste in music was boring, but I’m sure that everyone in here knew not to mess with the loudest of us after that.

Until the surface is safe to walk on again, we shall live by the tunes of the heavy metal sanctuary.

FFM 2020 9: A Mysterious Hologram

No prompt used.

The challenge: the story must take place on or in a vessel where escape is an impossibility, there must be at least two characters who are in conflict with one another and it must feature an event utterly outside a character’s realm of expectation.

The hologram was still following me. I ducked into a storeroom where there should not have been any hologram projectors aside from the ones allocated for assistant holograms only; it should be a safe space away from it.

It wasn’t. The hologram stalked between the shelves and disappeared behind one of the colony ship’s many computers.

That was it. I was heading to the hologram control room. They had to know about this and they had to be able to do something about it.

The hologram followed me to the bridge, so I could point at it while explaining what was going on.

“It seems to be acting normally,” the operator I had been directed to mused. He sounded like he couldn’t care less. “Tigers are known to stalk their prey.”

“Why is it stalking me and literally no one else everywhere, even to the storerooms?!” I yelled.

The operator scratched his chin. “I’ll look into it.” He started to type something on his interface. “I see nothing wrong with this specimen. Are you sure you are not just imagining it?”

Yes!” I half-shouted, exasperated. “Why else would I be here?”

The operator turned to look me dead in the eye. “Do you have any idea how many times a day we hear complaints about the holograms?”

“I… No?”

“The average is five times an Earth cycle,” the operator told. “I know these things. The hologram works perfectly. It is not dangerous to you, so please, do everyone a favor and ignore it. It cannot eat you, after all.”

I wanted to complain because the hologram — tiger, was it? — unnerved me. However, I didn’t have a leg to stand on, so I nodded, murmured my thanks and left, trying to ignore the hologram even when it stared at me.

A few hours later, I turned to look over my shoulder when I was in an area with only one hologram projector. That one was meant for showing preloaded graphs and such, none of the system that holds our ship’s holographic nature together.

Yet there it was. The tiger. It was skulking around, looking at me.

Something was wrong with it, no matter what the hologram operator had said. I just didn’t know what or why, and with so many complaints around I would never get through to them. I’d only look more paranoid if I tried.

If only there was someone who took me seriously about this hologram…

Or was I actually paranoid, perhaps imagining it? Were there one or more tiger holograms I just happened to run into without hearing about or seeing them stalking other people?

No, it didn’t make sense. That tiger shouldn’t have been here of all places, and not in the storeroom either.

What was going on around here and why was I the only one noticing all of this?

FFM 2020 2: Mother Earth Dying

The prompt used: My washing machine is telling me to file for backruptcy. by WindySilver.

The challenge: Write a 369er (three separate but interrelated 69-word stories) with a conflict in their center. The first story must be after the conflict, the second one during it and the third one before it.

84 years after Fiirddokha invaded Earth, they finally got enough. We resurfaced into a barren wasteland, equipped with oxygen tanks because the atmosphere was mostly carbon dioxide then.

We knew immediately that restoring our planet would be the biggest challenge humanity had ever had, but we were up to the task.

Ten years have gone by and Earth is now starting to look more like itself.

We will succeed.

We shamans have been listening to Mother Earth weep for four decades now. Her cries have grown quieter over the years.

The greenhouses and zoos in our sanctuaries and on other planets are the only hope of restoring her after the invaders tire of hurting her. We must guard them — not just we shamans, but all still living humans.

If we don’t cooperate, Mother Earth will die for good.

“Honey, the washing machine is telling me to file for bankruptcy!” I called out from the laundry room.
“You downloaded something strange into our network again, honey!”
“No!” I knew I sounded too undignified to sound convincing. I looked at the message and admitted my defeat under my breath, “Okay, I did.”
“Told you so! Running the cleaning process!”

I sighed; our network cleaning process was always a pain.

FFM 2020 1: Refugees

No prompt used, so I followed my personal challenge of writing about my existing worlds whenever a prompt or challenge doesn’t direct me otherwise.

While our humanitarian work was a point of pride for Earth, I must admit that the system took a heavy hit when our allies, the Glieseans, lost their home planet in the Gliese 667 system. With a planet and population far bigger than our own, even when the rest of the Inter-Galactic Union (IGU) did their part in taking refugees in, we were stretched thin. There were simply too many of them for us all to accommodate. IGU’s efforts to stop the warring civilization, which we have only learned to call “Fiirddokha” — “Ravagers” in the language of the Lllladrres, who were their first victim as far as anyone in IGU knows — have been insufficient. Because the Fiirddokha don’t belong to IGU, there is rather little that IGU as a union can do, especially without suddenly amassing an inter-galactic military big enough to rival them and fighting to death and recoloring many planets’ soils with blood and its equivalents.

I know a lot of people were frustrated when the humanitarian system was clogged by the Gliesean refugees, but now that we are the refugees, I’m sure everyone who lived back then understands them better.

Unfortunately, we have no one to help us because we are stuck on our own planet. Any non-Fiirddokha ship going in or out has been shot down at the orbit.

We have to play the long game and hope for the best.

Prose-ject 2020 29: A Departing Scout

The prompt used: “May the Force be with you.” -Star War (quote)

Jeff was leaving on a scouting round again. He said that he had seen an interesting new building which we might be able to blow up if we got close enough. While it certainly was a provocation to the invaders, with all the known underground sanctuaries already either destroyed or flooded until they were underwater, we were safe. It would definitely send a message: We may hide, but we are not defenseless. You are not welcome here.

While it was even more dangerous than normal scouting, I decided to let him do it. He would probably sneak out and scout ahead on his own if I didn’t let him. At least this way I knew where he was going and what he was doing.

When he was at the hangar, making the final departure checks, I looked at him. My fantastic niece had turned into a fantastic nephew growing up in this underwater facility. He was brave, perhaps even to the point of foolhardiness and recklessness, but he was brave nevertheless, and had the brains to use his skills well. He had definitely proved himself during the years in the defense system.

If I lost him now, I knew that it would have happened anyway. Ever since being a little kid, Jeff had loved the oldest, the most classic Star Wars movies and their story of the Rebel Alliance fighting against the Galactic Empire. He would have gone out there to do his part in making our ragtag group into a real life version of the Rebel Alliance anyway and either come back with more information or died like the Bothans who died to get information on the the second Death Star.

Jeff was ready to leave, so I walked up to him.
“Uncle,” he greeted me. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll be back.”
“I will wait for you and your findings here. Be careful,” I told.
“No worries. I will be.” Jeff flashed his grin before turning somber. “No matter what happens, take care.”
“I will.” I said.

Jeff climbed to his ship.

I would never forgive myself if I let him leave and never return without one of the most iconic Star Wars quotes. I called out, “Jeff.”
“Yeah, uncle?” Jeff turned to look at me.
I smiled at him. “May the Force be with you.”
Jeff smiled back. “May the Force be with you too.”

Then he departed and I stood, watching as his ship made its way to the surface.

Now, I could only wait at the command center and hope that he would be back soon.

Prose-ject 2020 27: No Place Like Home

The prompt used: “There’s no place like home.” -The Wizard of Oz (quote)

They say that there’s no place like home.

I say that they’re right.

I don’t want to complain. The people running this underwater sanctuary are doing their very best to keep us all alive, and the underwater scenery is nice, but I miss my home. I had to leave a lot of my possessions behind either at home, where they are going to get destroyed, or into my personal bunker underground which might go down in flames as well. Those who were not working for museums and such were not allowed to haul much with themselves.

Fortunately, I was allowed to take my computer system with me. I miss my shelves of literature, collectibles and games, but I have their copies saved on my computer — aside from the collectibles, of course; I have images of them instead — so I’ll be able to live without them.

I only hope that the cable systems won’t get damaged by the destruction on the surface. If they do, we will eventually lose all our interplanetary communication networks and get cut off into underwater and underground pockets with little to no contact to others. Most of us have friends and family elsewhere, and the communication cables will be their only way of keeping in touch once the wireless systems go down completely — which will be the first communication system to fall as these fuckers have the habit of razing the surface to a dusty wasteland, which means that all communication towers that matter and are interconnected will be destroyed sooner rather than later.

We have no other choice than hiding here in these sanctuaries, keeping everything valuable alive and undestroyed and waiting for the time to return to the surface and restore our beloved planet, both its ecosystem and our infrastructure, back to what it was.

I hope I’ll live to see that day.

They say that there’s no place like home.

I guess it’s time we make these sanctuaries our homes because there’s no going back to where we came from for a long time.

Prose-ject 2020 24: The Daylight Beast

The prompt used: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” -Jaws (quote)

We had been hunting the Daylight Beast for a week when we finally found it. For a thing with a hide that shines like daylight even at night, it was far harder to find than we had expected. It was worth it even if it was just to see it, though; it looked beautiful. It was probably the most beautiful monster I had ever seen in person or in pictures. It was a pity that our contractor wanted it dead.

The fight to get it killed was the hardest part. At first, we tried to fight it at night, but it managed to blind us by shining even more. We had to retreat, with Carillie too injured to continue. Kala sent her away with Roux to get patched up at a medical station. The rest of us formulated a new plan and struck at daylight, this time shielding our eyes with equipment meant for traversing scorching deserts.

It was tough, but we managed to kill the Daylight Beast without losing anyone else, although everyone, me included, got injuries. Kala broke his arm, I got bitten a couple of times, Quesnel apparently has a broken rib or two and so on. Luckily, everyone could walk on their own, so we set forth to the medical station after Roux to get patched up before hauling the now dead but still shining beast into the contractor.

After we had been patched up and Carillie could leave, we set forth to the shore to load the beast on our ship.

At the port, we found more trouble.

The sailor looked at the Daylight Beast and remarked, “Ight, you’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Prose-ject 2020 23: Day 57 of Repairing

The prompt used: delivering joyful news.

It is day 57 since my crew and I had to abandon our underground sanctuary in Germany for the underwater facility in the Baltic Sea after the attackers discovered it.

While most of the refugees were relocated to another underground facility in the country, we made the dive into the Baltic Sea; the facility there had been out of service for decades, but now we needed it desperately. We had to get it back up and running or else we would soon run out of sanctuaries to relocate to when our underground ones were discovered and destroyed.

Fixing the flooding had been the easiest part; the air pumps had been operational all this time, just not online due to getting no power. Portable energy cells had done the trick and the newly pumped air had pushed the water out of the facility, while patching the hull was easy due to the lack of significant damage. The generator, however, was another story: because it had been flooded for years, it was brimming with algae, fish and water. Cleaning it took 11 days as we had to take the whole thing apart and clean every single part we could save. Putting it back together took four days, two more to get it running. Fixing the power lines all across the facility, on the other hand, took nearly 20 days.

The rest has been cleaning and restocking the facility so that we can take refugees. There is still a long way to go for this to be like the other facilities because as of now it’s heavily depending on the supply chain, but for now the most important part is getting it operational enough for refugees to come in. We can add greenhouses and growbeds later, when top-priority things are done.

Today, after almost two months of working nonstop, I have joyful news to deliver.

The Baltic Sea’s sanctuary is online and getting refugees as we speak.