Haaninin’s Friend

crow

© Sue Vincent

For many years, Franklin Long took morning walks along the river. When he was young, his walks were runs, even in the winter when it snowed. As he got older, the runs slowed to walks. Finally, in his twilight years, he started using a long stick to support himself and he rarely walks alone anymore.

“What’s that over there, Grandpa?” Franklin’s youngest grandson, twelve-year-old Foster pointed away from the river bank, just a few hundred feet ahead of them.

“We must wait, Foster. This is a solemn ceremony.”

“But Grandpa, they’re birds.”

“No, Foster. They are crows.”

They both watched with interest, though Foster’s hands and feet were starting to get cold.

“There must be a hundred of them in that circle. Aren’t groups of crows called a ‘murder’?”

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The Woman in Blue

blue light

© Sue Vincent

Obe was tending the fire on the shore by the bay. The sun had set to his right hours ago and most of the clan slept. Their tiny settlement was young and night predators hunted nearby so he kept watch, though the fire and the scent of the men should keep them away.

The moon shone blue through the clouds illuminating the water before him and the island beyond. Other clans of their tribe occupied the land across the bay to the south and east, but Nakuma’s people hoped to make the northlands their home.

Like most young men, waiting alone bored him and with the passing minutes, he became drowsy. He wrapped his blanket, woven by his sisters, tighter around him and with the fire, he felt warm. If his father found him sleeping, he would be struck and shamed in front of the other hunters, so he forced his eyes open. He heard her before he actually could see her.

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The Thaw

the thaw

© Sue Vincent

It wasn’t the ravenous hunger that awoke her for that had been with her since the accident. There was a sound, a new sound. Water. She could hear tiny trickles of water around her.

Aleera didn’t know how long she had been in the dark with the unrelenting pressure keeping her immobile. The cold was irrelevant to her, even the lack of air was meaningless, but the weight above her was massive. She hadn’t been able to move so she slept, though fitfully. She experienced moments of startling lucidity and then she panicked. She was trapped, unable to move more than the slightest degree in her fingers and toes. What had happened? If only she could remember.

Then she would drift away again into blessed oblivion within her accursed prison.

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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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When Erica Walks in Darkness

portal

© Sue Vincent

Erica knew she had been down this corridor before but she couldn’t remember when. She wanted to stop, turn around, and go back the way she’d come, but she didn’t recall where she’d been before now. The corridor was cold but it felt warm ahead where the light was coming from.

“Come now, Erica. Don’t dawdle.”

A man’s voice. He sounded familiar but she didn’t know from where.

She took another step forward, then another. She stopped and looked down. A simple, white blouse, plain woolen skirt with the hem down to her knees, black patent leather shoes. She was dressed almost like a schoolgirl, but she knew she was an adult. Erica started walking toward the light again. Then she was at the entrance to the room.

Even standing at the threshold, it was hard to see. There was a fireplace, a piano, chairs, a small sofa, all early 19th century, all very expensive. The portrait over the mantle was of a distinguished gentleman. It was the same man who had called to her, who was standing just to the right of the very same mantle holding a drink in his left hand. He offered it to her.

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Eira

leafless snow

© Sue Vincent

It had finally come, the first real snow of winter. Robert Jeffries knew she would come with it, as she had ever since they’d met ten years ago. He had only been fifteen then. He’d gotten into another argument with Mom and stormed out the door and into the snow. He wasn’t thinking and he was over a mile from their cabin, with the town a three-hour walk away, when he realized he wasn’t going to make it back.

His feet and hands were numb. He was trembling. The sun was low on the western horizon. The worst thing was that he was lost. He’d stumbled, falling off the path, gotten turned around, disoriented. If he couldn’t make it back home by dark, he was going to die.

“Man-child, what brings you out into my Father’s domain so ill prepared?”

Robert had been hanging onto the trunk of a tree so he wouldn’t collapse in the snow. He looked toward the voice. If she had a place nearby, he was saved.

Then he saw her.

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The Escape

 

bleak

© Sue Vincent

“Are you out of your mind, Jake? If we get caught here, they’ll add ten years to our sentences.”

“Relax, Hubie. We won’t get caught. Now get off your lazy butt and help me drag the raft higher on the rocks. We’ve got to get it in undercover.”

Jacob “Jake” Falco and Hubert “Hubie” Pavoni had both been sent up for twenty years to life for their part in the largest bank heist of the 20th century. Three guards and two hostages were killed during the shootout and only Jake and Hubie got away long enough to hide the $10 million in cash they’d made off with. That was six years ago, and they were still the only two men alive who knew where to find a fortune.

“Okay, Jake. We’ve got the raft and supplies under this outcropping, so it can’t be spotted from the air and sure as hell no one’s going to step foot in this place except crazy people like us.”

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Predators in Haven

 

sunset in haven

© Sue Vincent

She couldn’t believe he’d done it again, the assassin-for-hire known to international law enforcement agencies as Hellspite had eluded the American FBI, CIA, and even the unnamed British Agency she was on loan to.

Mikiko Jahn was a unique individual. Six years ago, she nearly died in a nuclear power plant accident and would have if the brilliant and eccentric scientist Daniel Hunt hadn’t saved her, literally rebuilt her from scratch with new and revolutionary processes and materials collectively known as Synthecon.

Now, even though in every manner conceivable, she looked, sounded, smelled, and acted like any other woman, only portions of her brain, nervous system, skeleton, and internal organs were biological…human. The rest, which made up over ninety percent of her physicality, was a set complex biosynthetic structures, maintained by hundreds of thousands of nanoscopic probes coursing through her bloodstream.

After the accident, the Japanese and British governments gave Hunt unlimited funds and resources. They only had two conditions. The first was to give Mikiko back the ability to be human, to interact with society normally, to seem to be the person she had been before. The second was to, as much as the technology would allow, make her more than human, augment her abilities, senses, even her emotions. They had plans for her.

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