Out of the Mist

fog

© Sue Vincent

Standing by a lone tree at the edge of a grassy field watching the sunrise, Greg Neville felt safe for now. They were probably still hiding in the shadows and some were shielded from the light by the tule fog, but as long as the sun was up and it was warm, they’d remain stuporous and wouldn’t give him a problem. In an hour or so, the fog would burn off. He had been too terrified to sleep last night and desperately wanted a nap, but he didn’t have much time. He had to find his way back to Travis and stop them before they spread the plague.

He’d been waiting at the airfield at Travis Air Force Base yesterday when the C5-Galaxy arrived from Udorn Royal Thai AFB in northern Thailand. Greg wasn’t told if it was the CIA or some other intelligence agency that had procured a sample of the Rakshasa virus from the biological weapons laboratory in central China. He’d flown out from the CDC in Atlanta with the rest of the team under secure orders to test the serum on Rakshasa and determine if it could either vaccinate populations against it or kill the plague outright.

Greg was the only person on the Directive 12 Team who wasn’t a doctor or medical technician. He was assigned in the unlikely event of a worse case scenario. However, instead of this being just another milk run for him, he would become the star player in preventing national if not world-wide Armageddon. That was the purpose of D-12, to handle the most dangerous biological threats. The world and even most of the personnel at Atlanta’s Center for Disease Control didn’t know they existed, and they were no doubt happier for it.

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Sharing Destiny

saurian

Found at Cracked.com

“I think it’s so sweet…how you let your friends encourage you to try and talk to me…”

September 1971

“Go on, Halley. Go over and talk to him.”

“Shut up, Judy. He’ll hear.”

Oh, what are you afraid of?”

“I told you, Diane. I’ll talk to him when I feel like it.”

They didn’t know Isaac could actually can hear them. They thought he was just talking to John and Robert during lunch period and that he couldn’t tell what was happening just a few feet away.

He thought to himself, “God, I hate high school. I wish this wasn’t necessary.”

“Fine, Halley. If you’re too chicken, I’ll go over and tell him you want him to ask you out.”

“No! Wait, Diane.” As her girlfriend started to walk forward (a bluff probably), Halley grabbed her arm and pulled her back.

“Anyway, see you later, guys.”

“Stay cool, Isaac.” Robert made a salute with his fist.

“Later, brother.” John just nodded. They both saw Halley finally start walking toward him and knew he’d need his space.

“Um…hi.”

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The Protector

iowa city fire

© J Hardy Carroll

The Present

“I’m gonna help you out Devon, but it’s the last time.”

Devon Willis was recovering from a compound fracture of his right arm at Rush University Medical Center. He’d told the police that he’d gotten into a fight with three other guys. Didn’t want to identify them and didn’t want to press charges. His doctor said he should stay for another day or two, but he had to get out of Chicago. His brother Cameron was going to drive him to the place he kept in Iowa City. Only Cameron knew about it, Devon’s hideaway.

“I know. I appreciate it. I swear I’ll pay you back.”

“The only thing I want from you is to never hear from you again. You broke poor Mama’s heart more times than I know. I haven’t told her you called me again. Figure she don’t need the grief.”

“I just need to get away from here. The other night…”

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Refuge Lake

resort by a lake

© A Mixed Bag 2013

Marco felt creepy whenever he made a delivery to the resort in the Sierra Nevada’s. Scenery changed from alpines and mountains to high desert and a salty lake.

He got a bonus for doing the run every month. He never knew what he was hauling. Once he arrived, he was paid to get drunk and play with barmaids. Next morning he drove his empty rig back to L.A.

The resort and wasn’t on any map. Whenever he got close to the place, his GPS went nuts.

One night after making a delivery, he tried talking to the local girl he’d had sex with.

“Say girl, what goes on here?”

“We’re just visitors, refugees starting a new life.”

“You look more Swedish than Syrian. Who you kidding?”

“Just go to sleep and don’t worry, boyfriend.”

When she was sleeping, Marco got up and looked out toward the lake. People swimming even at this hour in a glow under the water, but they weren’t exactly people. The light got brighter, then it broke the surface and sailed up into the heavens.

Marco muttered, “Refugees, but from up there.”

He turned around. Marion was standing behind him, nictitating membranes fluttering across ichthyic eyes.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge for December 3rd 2017. The idea is to use the photo above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

The image reminded me of a high desert lake and Mono Lake, CA is about the strangest lake I’ve ever seen. This doesn’t look like Mono Lake, but I wondered if I could somehow make this place not as it appears.

I saw that the truck to the left hand side of the frame said “Thermo-Express,” and a quick Google search turned up a trucking company from Los Angeles by that name. I doubt it’s related to the truck in the photo but I decided to use it anyway.

A salty lake with no inlet or outlet, a place that should be in the Sierra Nevada Mountains but then the terrain abruptly changes. A resort not on any map and that doesn’t register on GPS.

If alien refugees needed a safe and isolated place to settle and make a life for themselves, maybe it would be like this. They’d still need supplies from outside though, but for the right price and certain other incentives, maybe a driver could be convinced not to pay too much attention to what he was delivering.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Five Years On

memorial japan

In Namie Seiko Yoshida and her husband Tsutoshi offer a prayer for their late daughter Miki, who was killed by the tsunami while at work at a post office, in Ukedo district, 5km north of the nuclear plant – Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

Mikiko Jahn and Brigit Monroe stepped out of the ruins as the older couple drove away. They’d placed flowers on the foundation of what used to be their home across the street.

“I had dinner with them every weekend. I’d just introduced my fiance’ Ichioka the Sunday before the accident.”

Brigit, Mikiko’s psychologist, touched her forearm and felt it trembling. This visit was dangerous, but Mikiko insisted on going home for the anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Five years ago, the reactor 3 hydrogen explosion injured eleven and killed one, except Mikiko was only presumed dead. Her injuries were catastrophic. The government covered up the events around her reconstruction as the first synthetic organism. Cybernetic brain implants regulated all of her emotions until this morning when Brigit ordered the firmware upload.

Now Mikiko could feel…everything.

“Ochan. Otousan.”

Brigit put her arms around Mikiko and let her sob for hours.

I authored this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps image and location and use them to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 150.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Fukushima, Japan. I couldn’t believe it. For just over a month, I’ve been writing a science fiction/espionage series about a woman horribly mutilated in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster which began with a devastating earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 and set in this very location.

Mikiko’s latest published adventure is The Most Dangerous Predator but the events here occur after Woman Under Repair but before Woman in the Shadows.

It’s tough to compress everything that’s happening in this scene into 150 words and have it be a complete story. As readers of her series know, soon after the accident, her “designer” Dr. Daniel Hunt had several cybernetic chips implanted in various parts of her brain to regulate her emotions. Being horribly mutilated and then being the object of numerous, highly invasive surgeries, literally being rebuilt from scratch using synthetic materials based on artificial DNA would be emotionally intolerable to just about any human being. The chips regulate those emotions, allowing Mikiko to endure her state and her transformation with relative calm. Her emotions can be programmed to even allow feelings of well-being and happiness under the most horrible circumstances.

Brigit Monroe is Mikiko’s psychologist and in her opinion, sooner or later, Mikiko must learn to regain at least some control of her emotions and especially to be allowed to experience grief over her loss, not just of her original body, but of her former life. Even Mikiko’s parents don’t know she’s alive, and because she is regarded as most secret by both the Japanese and British governments, she can never tell anyone she survived.

So I wrote this. In a longer tale, perhaps a novel, I would expand upon these events quite a bit. For now, this is the best I can do. The photo at the top has a caption that tells the real story of the people depicted. At the bottom, I’m including another photo of a real person memorializing those lost in the tsunami, but one I hope will express how Mikiko eventually embraces her new life.

Oh, “Ochan and Otousan.” are the best I can do using Goggle to have Mikiko say “Mommy and Daddy” in Japanese. If anyone out there can offer a correction, I’d appreciate it.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

flowers-memorial-fukanuma-beach-sendai

On Fukanuma beach, Sendai, a woman throws a bunch of flowers – Photograph: Ken Ishii/Getty Images

Elusive

 

storage shed

© Russell Gayer

“Got the DNA evidence from SFPD in 2007, and it leads here, April.”

Two temporal investigators closed in on the Zodiac Killer at an abandoned farm’s outbuilding.

“Go in here, H.G. I’ll circle around.”

The young 19th century man waited and then entered the cinder block building.

“H.G! Hurry!”

He rushed inside and saw her standing by the body. “What happened? Dead?”

“Very, but how?”

“Who said I was dead?” The voice came from all around them. Both H.G. Wells and April Dancer realized the murderer was really a demon who had been possessing serial killers since the dawn of time.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo writing challenge for December 1st. The idea is to use the image above as a prompt to create a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

I’m leveraging a story I wrote last week for Rochelle’s challenge, Just Stepping Out for a Week, Be Right Back about a time traveler who occasionally helps H.G. Wells track down some of history’s most notorious killers.

In this case, I continued that story only to have them find the nature of the Zodiac is actually a single eternal spirit, one who possesses the bodies of human beings and compels them to kill.

I admit to stealing the idea from an episode of the original Star Trek series Wolf in the Fold written by Robert Bloch and leveraging his own “Jack the Ripper” theme.

Unfortunately, 100 words isn’t a lot to explore a complete concept, but hopefully I’ve managed to instill some sense of mystery and menace.

Oh, I took the name “April Dancer” from the title character of a late 1960s TV show called The Girl from U.N.C.L.E (a spin off of The Man from U.N.C.L.E) starring Stefanie Powers.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Diminished: The Expanded Story

grasshopper

© @any1mark66

Sean McNeal adjusted the field intensity setting on his virtual console by another two degrees. “That should do it,” he muttered absent-mindedly.

The thirty-eight year old research physicist had been working in his small home lab for the past week, but the problem he was trying to solve had been plaguing him ever since he was a child and his Dad had shown him that old movie “Fantastic Voyage.” Ever since then, he had been fascinated by the idea of shrinking objects and people down to a tiny size.

The problem was Planck’s constant, which is why people can’t really shrink like Ant-Man. Fortunately, Sean found a way around that pesky dilemma.

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Diminished

grasshopper

© @any1mark66

Everyone told me shrinking an object or a person while maintaining that object’s original properties is impossible and they’re right. Planck’s constant prevents it. That means no Ant-Man, Atom, and no little subs like in Fantastic Voyage.

Surprise. I’m only six-inches tall. This grasshopper doesn’t know I’m standing in front of it because I’m not. I’m a hologram. My perceptions have been projected into a half-foot tall holographic matrix.

Fascinating, except for one thing. I can’t disengage from the matrix. I’m stuck inside the projection of myself in my backyard.

“Hello, tiny.”

“Helen?” What…how can you see me?”

“I arranged your little accident.”

“What? But why?”

“When I come back from my business trip in three weeks, I’ll discover you were killed in a home lab accident. Tragic for the widow, but I’ll inherit your fortune and your hunky lab assistant, Harold.”

“Helen, why? I thought we loved each other.”

“You’ve always loved your gadgets more than me. You never even noticed me screwing Harold practically under your nose. Go hop around with your friend.”

I wrote this for the FFfAW Challenge for the Week of November 28, 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long. My word count is 175.

I think I’ve written a few stories prompted by photos of insects lately, so how could I make this one different? Well, when I was a kid, I really did read the old 1960s comic books about Ant-Man and The Atom and was fascinated by the idea of being able to shrink way down in size. Also, one of my favorite science fiction movies to this day is the 1966 film “Fantastic Voyage.”

However, as I very briefly explained, Planck’s constant prevents real-life shrinking (learn more at PhysicsForums.com and this BoingBoing.net article).

However, if you could create a holographic matrix of the correct proportions and then project your perceptions into the construct, you would experience being small without actually being small (at least as far as my fake science goes).

Just don’t let your two-timing wife know. Otherwise, you’ll end up like our hapless and nameless scientist.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

Now read Diminished: The Expanded Story.

What I’ve Always Dreamed Of

venus airships

Artist’s concept of a Venus cloud city — a possible future outcome of the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) plan.
Credit: Advanced Concepts Lab at NASA Langley Research Center

“Don’t look for what you don’t want to find…”

“So this is it; this is what I wished for; just isn’t how I envisioned it…”
— Eminem, from “Careful What You Wish For.”

Genaro tried to remember what happened. He’d been sleeping a lot lately but it wasn’t a natural sleep. They were trying to keep him quiet so he wouldn’t be a bother. Why couldn’t he see? Why were his arms and legs so heavy?

He tried to stand but although he could find the floor, he couldn’t find his feet. Something at the end of his leg was touching something below and to the side of him, but it wasn’t a foot. It was…was… What was it? What had happened? He realized now he couldn’t move his fingers. What was at the end of his arms? Why was it so hard to breathe?

He opened his mouth but couldn’t scream. He felt like he was suffocating. His head, yes he still had a head, was aching. The pain spiked and then there was nothingness.

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Prologue: Sophia

dna

Image credit: National Institute of Standards and Technology

Synthecon Corporation Research Campus – Near Livingston, Scotland, UK – 2002

“Now do you believe it, Davy? Hmmm? Now do you believe it?” The two men were standing in a lab contained within an expansive research complex located near Livingston in what was called Silicon Glen and Dr. Daniel Hunt couldn’t have been happier.

After all of the failures, false starts, and millions upon millions of pounds wasted, not to mention having his professional rival and closest friend David Killgrave rubbing his nose in it at every opportunity, he finally produced the first generation of DNA based artificial intelligence.

“I must say it looks promising, Danny. Still, I’ll have to run some tests. I’m not convinced that, what did you call it, is capable of all you say, even in potential.”

Sophia, her name is Sophia.”

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