October 10

Fictober, Prompt 10 – “It’s so quiet.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: horror, implied monster, implied violent death.


“And you’re sure everything’s all right? I don’t like you being out there alone,” Anna said.

I tucked my cell phone more firmly between my ear and my shoulder, thinking for probably the hundredth time that I really needed one of those little Bluetooth earpieces or something. “It’s fine, I promise. It’s so quiet, what could possibly happen? And besides,” I cut her off when I heard her take another breath to protest, “it’s not like I’m staying out here. Just stopping by the house once a day to make sure everything’s okay.” Carefully, I stepped up onto the chair and tilted the little battered tin watering can over the last of the house plants. Why I left the most difficult to reach one for last was anyone’s guess, but it always worked out that way. Probably subconscious avoidance, or something like that.

“I guess,” she agreed, sighing. “I just wish you wouldn’t go after dark.”

“Not much choice, at this point,” I muttered, then sighed myself, stepping down off the chair and dragging it back into the kitchen. “It’s getting dark so early these days, and you know I don’t get off work until six-thirty.”

“All right. Text me when you get home?”

“Sure,” I promised, and she let me hang up. “Okay,” I said to myself. “What else?”

Nothing for today, when I checked the list they had left for me. Today had been plant-watering day, and I’d brought in the newspaper and the mail, and made sure the traps were empty of mice. This house-sitting thing was pretty easy, really, mostly just a chunk of time out of my evening, and even that wasn’t a big deal for a couple of weeks. I didn’t know the Carters well, but had seen no reason to turn down their request, being one of the nearer neighbors out here; they didn’t have any pets to worry about, and were even paying me a little bit.

The house creaked and settled around me, which I was more used to now after a week. It was an older house, a farmhouse originally, though the neighboring fields were now owned by a neighboring farmer. I couldn’t remember what the Carters said they did, but it definitely wasn’t farming.

“Well, that’s it for today, then,” I told the house. Shrugging my coat back on and sliding into my shoes, I flipped out the lights near the door. There was one lamp, distant in the living room, that they had left on a timer, but that light didn’t really reach this far. Still, I hesitated.

Continue reading

October 9

Fictober, Prompt 9 – “There’s no right side to this.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: threatened violence, non-graphic discussion of blood magic.


A steady stream of pleading and whimpers fell from the man’s lips as the guards threw him at my feet.

“Silence!” I snapped, and quiet descended, at least momentarily.

This was one of the men responsible for the theft. As if it was not enough that they had stolen from me in the first place, they continued to skulk around, as if waiting for more.

I paced for long minutes while my guards waited patiently, and my prisoner continued to cower. At last, I thought I could be calm enough to keep him alive. Pausing before the fire, I turned and strode back, allowing my staff to tap commandingly against the floor, the hems of my robes swirling dramatically around my feet. Since it seemed that intimidation might get me the answers I sought, then so be it.

“You have stolen from me,” I said, coming to stand before him. He flinched, deliberately bowing lower toward the floor and I sneered. “Sit up and pretend you are in possession of a spine, at least for the next five minutes.”

“What- What will happen at the end of five minutes?” He whispered, making some effort to straighten in spite of the manacles binding his wrists at his back.

“That remains to be seen.” He flinched again, and did not keep his shoulders from curling in. “Speak. Tell me why a thief dares to return to my lands.”

“I did not—”

“You wear the same colors and crest as those that did,” I cut him off. “Speak truthfully or I will not need the remainder of the five minutes to make my decision.”

“We were commanded so by the Voice!” His words now almost tripped over each other in their haste to leave his mouth. “Blood magic is forbidden, and he commanded that no such spells—”

“If it is forbidden,” I cut him off again, voice low and quiet, “then why do I find that your precious Voice also commands his men to use it? Why do I find that my spell has been taken from me to be used?”

Continue reading

October 8

Fictober, Prompt 8 – “This is it, isn’t it?”

Original fiction.

Warnings: threatened murder/blood sacrifice, implied violent death (nothing graphic).


It was difficult to explain how I knew.

We were about a third of the way into the next field, walking in on the side that had been harvested already, the corn still standing tall to the left, dry with both the lack of rain and summer’s passing, rustling in the breeze. I stopped dead between one step and the next.

It was startling, to just know suddenly, like he said I would.

“Ah,” he said, sounding pleased.

I thought of the gun trained at my back – the only reason I had come this far at all – and swallowed. “This is it, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Much closer than I had hoped.” Acres of fields stretched out behind us, and then stretched on for acres and acres yet ahead, burnished in the last streaks of dying daylight from the west. To the east, a silvery glow behind the distant tree line threatened the moon’s rising.

Doubt and despair overwhelmed me. I had known, just like he said. Did that mean— Was his plan the right one after all? Should I- Should I let him sacrifice me?

Continue reading

October 7

Fictober, Prompt 7 – “That could have gone better.”

Original fiction. Continuation: part one (Day 1) and part two (Day 5).

Warnings: large-scale battle, spaceship crash (nothing graphic), brief and unrealized fear of a tunnel collapse


The ship-killer missile whined past me, headed for the planet’s surface, and I swore, trying to run faster. There was no way I’d be far enough from that one

The laser canon Vivi was manning from the underground station caught it before it could impact. The blast still sent me sprawling forward, but it had been high enough up still that it wasn’t as bad as an actual impact.

Distantly, another missile did strike the surface, opening a crater and sending me to my feet again just after I rose. This time I stayed down, breathing and trying to calm my racing heart. I wasn’t in danger yet, but my air supply was limited.

The glimpse of a ship spiraling out of orbit, smoke and flame trailing from the gaping hole blasted in one side, had me up and running again scarcely a minute later. It was moving away from me, but the impact blast of a whole ship was not something I wanted to be out here for.

I made it to the hatch leading into the below-ground station and got the door snapped shut just in time. The ship’s impact caused a localized earthquake that I rode out in the narrow metal corridor, teeth gritted, one bare hand slapped onto the nearest magic-integration pad and energy streaming out to try and reinforce the corridor walls. If they collapsed here…

Continue reading

October 6

Fictober, Prompt 6 – “Didn’t we already have this conversation?”

Original fiction.

Warnings: nothing much, a very vague, passing allusion to past abuse of a side character.


I swept into the front hall as the footman opened the door, his timing as impeccable as always. I gave him a slight, grateful nod. The chill of autumn followed me in, leaves swirling as several more people followed me in. I would have preferred to leave them outside, but my temper had not quite tipped over into outright rudeness.

Yet.

“Your Grace,” my butler bowed, stepping forward to take my cloak and gloves as other servants materialized to help my guests, uninvited though they might be.

“Thank you, Julian,” I told him, catching his eye. He would see the tension and annoyance in my own furrowed brow, but the lack of true fear would let him know that all was well enough for now. The slightest hint of tension eased from his still perfectly upright posture, and he bowed.

“If you and your guests will follow me, Your Grace, I took the liberty of having hot drinks prepared.”

“I have always envied your household staff, Duchess,” one of the hangers-on simpered as we settled into the parlor.

“Too kind,” I murmured, sipping my tea, into which Julian had kindly slipped just a little something extra. Extraordinary man. It had already occurred to him, as it should have occurred to me before now, that with the hour already so late, they would all undoubtedly have to stay the night, which meant that I would have to host them again in the morning, my least favorite time of day.

My manor was not large as such things went, and my lands were deliberately isolated. This worked well for discouraging guests in the general sort of way, but worked against me once they were already here.

At least I could probably get them all packed off to bed relatively soon, and retire to my own rooms.

“Daria,” Aled murmured, coming over to sit in the chair closest to me with his own cup, his voice lowered. “Can I please ask you to reconsider?”

“Didn’t we already have this conversation?” I asked, voice low but crisp with renewed annoyance. “I will not.”

“But the other lords…and the Temple—” He stopped as rage flashed over my face. I had myself under control a breath later, but I should not have let it happen.

Continue reading

October 5

Fictober, Prompt 5 – “I’m not saying I told you so…”

Original fiction. Turned out to be a continuation of Day 1.

Warnings: nothing in particular, passing mention of past blood sacrifices.


“I’m not saying I told you so…”

“But you told me so,” I groused, sighing as Vivi stepped carefully into what remained of the lab. “It would never have worked if I’d had anyone else with me, especially not another mage.”

“I know,” she said, then whistled as she took in the state of the room. “Hard fight?”

“Yeah,” I admitted, frowning. I’d won, but I’d had to kill her in the end, and still had several bandages on even three days later. It was even stranger because I still didn’t have any idea what her real name was. She had given me an obviously false one when we first met, but every system here was strangely devoid of anything that identified her personally. “The rest of this would have been easier if I’d been able to capture her. I still have no idea what she was trying to do here, or what’s so special about this planet. Several unidentifiable ships have come sniffing around, and given how much monitoring equipment she has set up for tracking exactly that kind of thing, I don’t think it’s new.”

Vivi patted my shoulder and then peered over it at the one screen that had remained intact. “Weird. What did she say she was doing?”

Continue reading

October 4

Fictober, Prompt 4 – “Fine, I give up.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: implied battle, vague injury descriptions.


Gasping, I fell, my left knee giving out at last. Only my sword, sunk into the earth, kept me partially upright.

Although there was no possible way the gods looked on me in favor, I had no other explanation for why I was still alive at all, truthfully. My ki was too low to manage any more spells, and I was no warrior, was not trained to the sword, not the way those who had pursued us for so long were.

Not the way she was.

I knelt, and panted for air through burning lungs, and stared up at her through one eye that was beginning to swell shut, the other stinging with the sweat and blood dripping down my face. Her eyes, dark, intense, met mine and held.

A strange moment of hush descended around us, even as fire crackled in the distance, mingling with the shouts of those still fighting.

Her face under her horned helmet was unreadable as usual, but there was no anger in her eyes, no hatred, no contempt. None of the emotions that should have been there. I had betrayed her, betrayed my promise. That I hadn’t had any other choice was irrelevant. She would tolerate no such breach of honor.

That she held herself to even higher standards was the only reason that I did not hate her for her part in this pursuit.

But I knelt still, only not at her feet for the short distance still between us, and still she stared, making no move to finish me off.

Continue reading

October 3

Fictober, Prompt 3 – “I’ve waited for this.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: horror, monster, vampire, implied blood-drinking, implied violent death.


I held very still.

The man standing across the room did not smile, but the corners of his eyes tightened in satisfaction. “As I suspected,” he murmured, and stepped forward, careful to keep his holy symbol in front of him.

I edged back, lips curling involuntarily at the sight of it. Unfortunately, this gave him a glimpse of fang, which elicited another quick nod from him. He stepped forward more confidently this time, making sure that the rope held in his other hand was clearly visible to me as well.

The rope that trailed up to the boards covering the large window high above, which I could now tell were not fastened as securely as they had seemed at first.

It was a well-set trap, I had to acknowledge, if only in my own mind. He had driven me to this place cleverly, methodically, and there was nowhere in this particular room that would be free of sunlight if he pulled those boards, and we both knew it.

Continue reading

October 2

Fictober, Prompt 2 – “You have no proof.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: magical battle of sorts, non-graphic description of someone being dead.


The man clutched the scroll to his chest and looked at me as if I had just insulted all of his ancestors.

“Of course I won’t hand it over to you! It is mine, and acquired only at great trouble and cost!”

“And you didn’t stop to think about why that might be the case?” I asked him, keeping my voice even and my face calm. He had no idea what he was holding, and it was going to cause trouble for more than just him if I couldn’t stop him from using it.

“Obviously, because it confers a great boon to the user,” he huffed, as if this was obvious.

“It was stolen,” I said, losing a little bit of my temper, “out of one of the most secure magical facilities in all the known lands. I know that you know this, because that is why the thieves you hired to steal it charged you so much, and why you had so much trouble finding anyone to even attempt the theft in the first place. Has it not occurred to you that it was under such heavy guard because it doesn’t do what it claims to do, rather than because it does?”

A brief – very brief – flicker of doubt crossed his face, but then it settled into a scowl again.

“You have no proof,” he spat at me, “no proof at all of those rumors! Have you ever even seen it yourself?”

I had not, of course, looked at the scroll myself. Its rolled-up exterior was all anyone I knew had ever seen.

“No one,” I said slowly and meaningfully, “who has ever looked at that scroll is around to tell us what exactly happened to them.”

Continue reading

October 1

(Fictober seems like a good time to return from the metaphorical dead? We’ll see how this goes!)

Fictober, Prompt 1 – “I need you.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: implied blood sacrifice, implied murder, implied non-consensual surgical procedures (but nothing actually graphic).


“I need you,” she had said.

Arrogantly, or naïvely, or stupidly, or maybe all of those things, I had believed her.

Well, heard what I wanted to hear, at least. I had believed the implication, just as she had known I would, and it was only the implication that was untrue.

She was not, in the strictest sense, a liar.

We were planetside, deep underground to escape the inhospitable surface, which had made sense enough at the time. But now I couldn’t trust anything that I had seen on the way down, since the viewports could easily have been manipulated to show whatever she wanted me to see.

This lab was definitely real, though. As was the operating table I was strapped to with metal cabling, and the humming generator, and the tubing, and the instruments she was laying out next to me, their edges gleaming sharp under the too-bright overhead lights.

“Hush now,” she soothed, eyes distant as she scanned what looked like a mix of technical specs and spellwork on a datapad, not really looking at me. “You wanted to help me, didn’t you? And you will.”

Continue reading