Assassin’s Quest (GreatHites Classic)

Originally posted on Aug 19, 2008
Assassin’s Quest read to you by Ann and Jeff Hite

This weeks prompt comes from Mur Lafferty’s News from Poughkeepsie Find out more at Murverse.com

“Shaman, you need to take this baby’s soul back; you’ve given her the soul of an assassin,” my father said to the rheumy-eyed little man. The little man shook his head and walked out of the door muttering, and calling my father a fool.
My name is Betha MacTaggart, and that was how my life started. At least that is the story my mother told me of how it started. The other villagers have told me that the following day my father tried to kill me by throwing me in the river, but my mother would not hear of it, and in the end it was my hand that held the knife my father was carrying and as he tripped it drove into his chest. Not what I would call a good beginning.
We don’t get to choose the souls we are given, that is just the way life is. You get what you are given and you live with it. My soul was that of an assassin, and I started out my life by killing my father. It was obvious from that point on that I was going to be an assassin. The problem is, that is not really a popular field to go into, and people who are assassins are not exactly coming out of the wood work to tell you about themselves for obvious reasons. So finding a teacher or a mentor is a little difficult.
Any dummy with a weapon can kill someone, but how many people do you know that can kill someone with a single finger, or a blade of grass, and never get caught, or better yet blame it on someone else. That is the true job of an assassin. And that is what has brought me to this little town, nearly a months journey from my home, and had cost me almost everything I owned.
There was a rumor that the King’s own assassin was going to be in this town, not to kill someone, but to meet with several other assassins and discuss their trade. My best chance to get the training I needed was to be here and find them. The problem being that although just about everyone knew they were going to be in this town, and that they were supposed to be here this week, no one seemed to know where they were going to be meeting, or when they would be getting here. Worse still no one knew what they looked like. Keeping your identity safe is also part of being an assassin.
The best lead I had gotten was from the local shaman, he suggested that one hundred years ago when The kings assassin had called a council here that they had met in the tavern. At least that is where they gathered at first to discuss the next place to go. So here I sit in the tavern waiting and watching for I don’t know exactly what.
“Hello, young lady may I buy you a drink?” The skinny old man said sitting down beside me and waving the barmen over.
“No, I have one thank you. Can I help you?” I said watching his eyes rove over me.
“I hear you are looking for some people.”
“What is that to you?”
“I might be able to help you find them,” He answered with a smile creeping across his face
“I find that difficult to believe,” I said. “I bet there is a price involved that has me doing things that I would rather not do.” Then two things happened that I saw. First while I was talking to him he moved my cup closer to me. When he did that the tip of his finger touched the foam of the beer. I noticed right away the slight yellow tint that spread across the surface and disappeared. Second as the barman brought my plate of food the old man reached up and passed it to me from across the table, as he did I saw a little bit of an oily sheen that was very hard to see in the light once the plate was in front of me.
“Don’t let me slow you down, please eat your dinner.” He said with a wave of his hand. I carefully pushed the plate away from me. I had never seen either of these poisons before and I didn’t know how potent they were. so I didn’t dare even getting close.
“I think I will have that drink you offered.” I said hoping that he knew I’d caught him.
“You are pretty perceptive, but you will have to work on that because there is much more that your eye cannot always see,” He said. Then the thing that I did not see happened. There was a slight pain in my leg and then everything went black.
When I woke up I was in a stable, and wearing only my underwear. I stood up, and checked the door to the stable, it was locked but I could get under it, or over it quite easily. But first, I wanted to get an better idea of what kind of a situation I was in. People don’t normally just drug you, steal your clothes and dump you in a stable, unless you have the kinds of friends that do that kind of thing, and I didn’t. Come to think of it I didn’t have many friends. Most of the people from my village knew my history and avoided me.
I lay down on the floor and looked under the door. There was nothing obstructing the way but there was something reflecting a lot of light from the door. Likely something that was meant to fall on me or jab me, if I went over, the second I stuck my head around the door. Who ever put me here had done a good job, there was nothing in the stable besides a small amount of straw and a few horse droppings. Not much I could use to test my theory. I picked up one of the balls of horse droppings and rolled it slowly under the door, and sure enough a a rather large heavy looking metal plate dropped to the floor, splattering the horse dung and effectively blocking the opening.
“That would have been my head,” I whispered to myself. “These guys don’t mess around.” I was running out of options. There very well could be a trap still to get me if I tried to go over, or that could be my way out. I tossed a second piece of dung over the door but nothing happened. That didn’t mean much, since it was going much faster than I could ever get over the door and it might not have been big enough to set off what ever it was. I was not quite ready to toss my life away that quickly. In frustration I kicked the door, and sprung the second trap. I single nasty looking pike shot from behind the door into the ceiling .
I stood there starring at it wondering what kind of people went to this much trouble. That was when I heard something new. There was someone else in here. It was very low, but I could hear them breathing. They had a bit of a cold and their breath whistled a little. I stood as still as I could and listened, willing my heart to stop pounding in my ears. It took several minutes but in the end I could tell they were in the loft above me. They were watching me. That was when it hit me. This was not to get me out of the way. They were trying to kill me. The man I met in the tavern was an assassin, that much was clear, but why would he have come after me?
I didn’t have time to ponder that at the moment, first I needed to get out of here and figure out who it was that was out to kill me. I tried the door again. it was still locked, but if I kicked a few more times I might be able to break the latch. After about three minutes all I had managed to accomplish was a bruise on my foot and my shoulder.
“That makes sense, that door is meant to hold an angry horse, a ninety pound girl does not have much of a chance at breaking through.” That meant I was back to the first two options. Under and over, under was blocked. But over was not. And there was a pike lodged in the ceiling that as I went over I could grab and use against whoever was out there. I climbed up on the side walls of the stable Then made my way toward the door. Just as I was a going over the top another pike shot up and grazed my shoulder. It left a nasty gash, but it had not killed me. I grabbed both of them and jumped down on the other side of the door.
I was still nearly naked and didn’t know where I was but I was out of the stable and was now armed. I looked around. There were a number of other stables, but mine appeared to have been the only one that was Boobie trapped. There was small room in the corner and a loft above me, where whoever had been watching me presumably still was. The room seemed like the best bet. I had no idea if there was more than the one person watching me, and pikes, although good weapons for a large man, were not much of one for me. I needed something much smaller.
The room as nearly empty, but there was a cloak and a few tethering spikes. Not the best weapon, but easier to hide that then a pike, and something I could use. I put one of the pikes in the corner and put the cloak on, it itched an smelled of horse dung, but it covered me, and that was what was important. hiding the spikes in the pockets I then pulled the hood up and grabbed the pike. Now to get out of the building. At least then I might have an idea about where I was. I found the door at the far end of the stables. It opened without a problem, I carefully pushed the pike out there door. Nothing happened. At least this door did not appear to be booby trapped. There was a huge open field for as far as I could see.
“Where do you think you are going Missy.” I spun around to find a mountain of a man standing at the door behind me. “You have my cloak and I will be taking it back.” His smile said he had plans to take more than that.
“I think I will keep it,” I said holding the pike in a defensive posture.
“You will want to put that down before someone gets hurt.” He moved forward, and I lunged at him with the pike, he easily swatted it aside and made a grab for me, but I pulled the spike from my pocket and put it against his throat.
“That will be far enough. Now tell me why you put me in there.” I had no doubt he was not the one that had put me there. He didn’t look bright enough to have rigged that trap.
“I don’t know what you are talking about. I saw you stealing my stuff and I…” His hand darted out and grabbed the spike and nearly broke my hand in the process, then in an instant he was on top of me. “Now lets talk about what you are doing here.”
“What do you mean, you and your friend back in the tavern drugged me and dumped me in the death trap back there.”
“Why are you here little girl?” He repeated. “This is vary dangerous business.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Why are you here? Why did you come here?” It sunk in then. He was one of the assassins that had come here.
“Where are they?” He looked at me quizzically. “I came here to learn from the kings assassin. Where are they meeting.” I said finally.
“And why would you be looking for the kings assassin?” I managed to get my hand loose and swung it up against the side of his face. He rolled off me and I was on my feet in an instant with the other spike in my hand.
“Because I was given the soul of an assassin. I need to be trained to use it.”
“You?” he sad laughing roughly. He moved forward again but I dodged out of his way and managed a swipe across he chest that left him bleeding. He grabbed his chest and winced in pain. “You have some skill already I think.”
“Jacob, that is enough.” The voice came from the stable door. I waited until he looked toward the new voice before I risked a look. It was not the man I met in the tavern, but a much older man. Although his voice was still very strong and commanding. “It is alright miss MacTaggart you may lower your guard. The test is complete.” Three more men came out of the stable, all rather slight in build. One came to Jacob right away and started checking his wound.
“You are lucky she didn’t find the poison this could have been fatal, you need to be more careful.” He said to the much larger and younger man.
“What do you mean test?” I asked finally.
“Miss Mactaggart, you were seeking the kings assassin to acquire training, were you not?” The Old man asked.
“Yes,” I answered slowly.
“You have found him. I am Wilimaster the king’s assassin, you have earned a chance to get training you desire.”
“You mean that was a test? I could have killed him.”
“Or been killed yourself,” he said softly. “Do you think that the risks to your life will be any less when you are given a task of killing someone else.”
“No , but if this was a test…”
“And you passed by surviving and protecting yourself in very difficult circumstances. We had our doubts about you but I believe that they were miss placed. Jacob will be your master.”
“But I?” I started to protest.
“You prefer to not get any training?” He said his face growing dark.
“No.”
“Then you will be Jacob’s apprentice.”
“You might want to get into your clothes again.” Jacob said tossing me a small bag and motioning me to the barn. “We have along ride ahead of us.”

Creative Commons License
Assassin’s Quest by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

The Shaman

Originally posted on July 11th 2008
Sorry Folks there is no audio to go with this one. Despite the fact that there is no audio, it has always been one of my favorite stories.

This is day 2 and I hope with a better story.

The New from Poughkeepise Day # 72

Scenes Thursdays:

I went out to visit the prayer grove yesterday. It used to be a prayer tree, a holy yew where we hung our wishes to the gods. But ever since the local youth were conscripted to go to battle, the tree has expanded to the grove that surrounds it. I saw the shaman there, yesterday, on her knees, weeping. I stood to the side respectfully as she wrote her prayer on the parchment and kissed it, whispering a prayer. She’s unmarried and childless, so I don’t know who she was worried about, but as she’s usually the calm one, blessing our prayers as we hang them.

She left the grove without seeing me, and I went in to hang my own prayer, next to hers. Curiosity got the better of me, and I read what she wrote.

The Shaman

“Molly, get the kids we have got to go!” Dennis said shaking his wife awake.

“What? What are you talking about? Go where?” She said rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.

“Never mind where, we just need to go and now.” Dennis ran around the house picking up things and stuffing them in a bag. “Come on we have to go.”

“Dennis, you are not making any sense. What’s going on?”

“Look Molly, we have to go! You need to get the kids up and ready to go or we are all going to die. Now come on!” Molly stood up and walked into the other room and roused her kids. She had never known Dennis to act so odd, but he was not one of those people that gave into panic so something must be really wrong. She got the kids up and dressed them in their traveling clothes.

Five minutes later they were all standing in the main room of their three room home when Dennis burst in.

“Good, you are all ready to go now lets get out of here.” he picked up his daughter and walked out of the house. Molly and their son followed close behind. They were halfway to the village square when Molly grabbed him by the arm.

“Dennis, you have got to tell me what is going on. I am not going to take one more step until you do.” She planted her feet and waited.

“Molly we don’t have time for this, and I can’t talk about it right now. It is too dangerous.”

“Where did you go this morning?” She asked still not moving.

“The prayer grove.”
“Did you see an invading army coming or something? Because if you did then we should warn the…”

“No, please Molly, we can’t stop, and we can’t talk about it here. We have to get out of town.” She could see the anguished look on his face, and decided that for the time being that she would follow him.

“Dennis, you better be right about this, it is market day and we are going to loose our spot and not have enough money.”

“Market day will not matter.” He said walking faster. Ten minutes later they cleared the edge of town. The sun was just coming up and they could see a few people trickling into town.

“Ok, that is it I go no further without some kind of explanation.” She said when they were a hundred yards past the town wall.

“Alright, alright, but keep your voice down. Their still might be people around.”

“Dennis what is this about?”

‘Look Molly,” He said putting his still half sleeping daughter down on the ground. She groaned softly but then rolled over in the grass. “This morning I went to the Prayer grove and Abby was there.”

“Abby, you mean that red-head that sells the candles, Dennis what did you do? You know her father will kill you; I will kill you if you…”

“No! Not her, the shaman, please keep your voice down, look we could all get killed if others find out.”

“What? If others find out what!” She demanded.

“Look, Abby was there, she was leaving a prayer, but she was crying, you know like the widows or mothers who lose their sons, but she is not married and has no children so why would she be crying like that. She left her prayer, left the grove and she acted like she didn’t even see me. It was so weird. I mean more weird than she normally acts.”

“So you were there to leave a prayer, what’s the problem?”
“I was so startled by the way she was acting, and… and I just glanced at it.”

“What did you do?” She asked fear welling up in her for the first time. “You looked at her prayer? That’s not allowed! They could stone us if they found out.” She grabbed her daughter from the ground and pulled her to her feet.

“Look Molly, I’m sorry but there is more.”
“What more could there be, you read someone’s prayer! You put us all in danger. We’ve got to go!” She said pulling the two kids behind her as fast as she could walk

“That is what I have been telling you. But it was what her prayer said that has me worried.” He picked up the little girl and helped Molly pick up the pace.

“I don’t want to know what it said. If you read it was bad enough.”

“Molly you have to know.”

“I don’t want to.” She was almost running now tears steaming down her cheeks. How could he have been so irresponsible. Even in the next town they might be found out and they would still be stoned to death. And then there was the war going on. They would have to run from that too. It was likely they would die no matter what they did.

“Molly!” He said grabbing her arm. “Listen to me. It said, ‘Save us!'” Molly stopped dead in her tracks.

“Save us?”

“Yes.”

“You did the right thing. Now lets go.” The both walked as fast as they could without running until they saw the the light behind them. Then they ran. As the light grew brighter they found a place to hide, and prayed that they were far enough away from the town.

The heat was intense even a mile away, but she had to take a look, The fireballs rained down from the sky hurled by the gods. They obliterated the town and everyone in it. The last person standing was Abby. She stood in the middle of the town, arms raised to the heavens in thanks. then a fireball came down and incinerated her too.

When it was over they stood and looked at the remains of the town. Not a blade of grass was left standing. They turned their backs to the rubble and walked to the next town. All the could do was hope that theirshaman was not looking to be saved as well.

Creative Commons License
The Shaman by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

The Mediator

This story was originally post on July 10th 2008

This is day one of the News From Poughkeepsie Challenge. Just 29 more to go. This one was a little bit of a surprise when I checked Murverse this morning and found this topic I knew it would be a bit of a challenge. It was fun to write, but don’t expect me to start writing scripts for the My Pretty Pony cartoons any time soon.

The New from Poughkeepise Day # 70
Settings Tuesdays:

The world of My Pretty Pony is one beset by war and strife. Their society started innocently enough, with the branding of the young ones with cute icons, but later those brands became akin to gang signs, and the ponies would group together based on nothing more than signs. Astronomical signs vs water signs was a particularly bloody war, and the heart signs vs rainbow signs was tense, but stable, until recently. It breaks my heart to look at them and know the bloody past. The gang members keep branding new foals to keep the cycle of violence up, and it will take a talented mediator to end the decades-long hatred.

And if you are looking for a shirt to complete your pony Collection look no further

The Mediator Audio.

********

Five sets of ponies stood in groups around the forest glen. In the center was a table, that was what the mediator had requested. But as of yet he had not showed and he was over an hour late.

“This is getting old,” Surefoot said, shaking his purple blue mane.

“The only thing old here is you,” Came a shout from the astrosigns group.

“That is right hide behind your friends, don’t bother to show our face. You astro’s have always been cowards.” He spat the words out and swishing his ultra long blue tail.
“We came here to make peace Surefoot and you know it. Now stop.” Rightfeather said, his mane was long and green but streaked with gray.

“That is right old man,” Surefoot said moving a little more into the clearing lifting his tail so that it would not drag on the ground. “You would not want that young foal to get blood all over this pretty table.”

“Enough!” Rainbowcloud said stomping his fore hoof and tossing his blue mane “We have come here for peace and you do nothing but fight.”
“Oh great the rainbows think are in charge here.”

“Not in charge just level headed. If we are to make peace then this is not going to help us.”

“What do you know of peace Rainbowcloud,” This time from the Heart camp. “You led the massacre in the glen three years ago. You killed innocent ponies as if their lives meant nothing.”

“Hearts are never truly innocent. They are born with the sins of their fathers on them.”

“And the Rainbows are any different,” Another voice from Heart camp. The two groups drew so close to each other that their flanks touched.

“You Hearts are all the same, you talk but are not brave enough to show our face.” Rainbowcloud said stomping his hoof.

“I am not afraid of you Rainbowcloud.” said a voice from behind. A pony pushed his way to the front. He was no bigger then then rest of them but they all gasped as he came forward. His tale was almost completely cut off and this mane was tattered. He had a brand but it was obscured by dark lines.

“Goldheart, we thought you were…” Rightfeather trailed off

“Dead, no I was not dead, but I have been among the gods. I was once the most beautiful of all of you, and the first to go to war. But the gods have punished me for my vanity and my lack of respect for their creations.”

“You are the mediator?” Surefoot snorted.

“Yes.”

“But you are a heart how can we trust,” He was cut off as Glodheart charged him knocking him down and pining him under his front hooves. Several of the Hearts cheered but, Goldheart rounded on them and kicked and bit several of them.

“You can trust me only to kill those who are not here to make peace.” He said panting over a heart pony that he had knocked to the ground. “My life is over. The gods have so proclaimed it, but it does not have to be the same for you. Come all of you, gather around the table and we will talk peace.”

“But, Goldheart, why a table, ponies have no use for tables?”

“Because this is the way the gods do it. They gather around a table to discuss things of importance. And this is of the greatest importance.” They all moved around the table and began to discuss a peace deal.

Then all was frozen, as Suzie reached down and picked up Goldheart. “Oh poor Goldheart. You were so pretty.” She said petting what was left of his tail. She walked out of the room holding her beloved pony. “Mom Timmy has been in my stuff again!”

Creative Commons License
The Mediator by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

Earth To Jenny

This was originally posted Jun 30 2008
The News From Poughkeepsie – Day 61
Anything goes Sundays:

Jenny is a closeted geek. She works in a PR firm, has perfectly styled hair, and works out in a gym every other day. Everyone thinks she’s completely normal, except that she considers Walter Mitty a saint in her world. She works out with the assurance that some day she will be called upon to be a hero, and she is just preparing for it. In her mind, Walter was a prophet, and living a life in a fantasy world is the proper way to be.

Download load and listen to the audio version of Earth To Jenny.

Earth To Jenny

The phone rang for what had to be the hundredth time that day. Jenny picked it up and looked at it as if it were a snake. “Thank you for calling Wambat, Westburg, Green and Lu where your good name is our good name, this is Jenny Lu how can I help you today?”
“Hey Jenny, this is Mike.”
“Mike what can I do for you.”
“Well you know that new ad that you guys produced for me. Well I don’t really like it.”
“Mike, you approved it.”
“Yeah but It makes me look like a schmuck.” Jenny stifled a laugh.
… “Well Mike you are a schmuck. You run a series of off world smuggling operations. Here is the thing, in working with you over the last year I have been collecting the evidence that I needed to see you sent to some mining colony on the moon, if not the belt.”
“But Jenny.”
“But Nothing, you are scum Mike.”
“Jenny? Jenny are you listening to me? Earth to Jenny.” Her mind snapped back to reality
“No, I’m sorry Mike I go distracted by… well never mind. Tell me again what you don’t like about.”
“That is it. I think that is the whole problem, you never seem to be listen. I am going to have a talk with your boss.” He hung up the phone.
“Damn that can’t be good.” She said putting the phone down. Sure enough not ten minutes later the phone rang again, this time it was Mr. Wambat.
“Jenny, I would like to see you in my office, please.”
“Yes sir, be right there.” She grabbed her mirror from the desk drawer and checked her hair. Even if she as going to fired there was no point in looking bad while it was happening. Maybe, it would be enough for him to go easy on her. She put the mirror back and walked to his office.
“Come in.” Wambat’s voice boomed from the other side of the door as she knocked.
“Mr. Wambat you wanted to see me?”
“Yes, Jenny, I think you know what this is about.”
“I believe so sir.”
“Good, that makes this a little easier. The problem, my dear, is that this is not the first time that I have heard such a complaint… “
The shackles dug into her hands as she stood before the tribunal, they had been droning on now for so long that it really could not be a good thing. Jenny knew that she was going to have to escape, and soon if she didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in prison.
“This court has come to the conclusion that, we are going to have to let you go.” What? Let me go she thought, but I was on trial for ten different treaty violations three of which held the penalty of life in prison with out the possibility of parole.
“But…” She started to object.
“I am sorry Jenny, you had a very promising future here, but in the past month you seem to have been having trouble keeping your mind on your work. We can’t have that. As I said we are going to have to let you go. Please clean out your desk and leave before the end of business today. If you get this problem under control I would be glad to give you a reference. But for now, goodbye.” She stood in stunned silence for a few seconds, and then turned and walked out of his office.
“That did not go well,” she said to herself. She made her way back to her desk. She sat there for a few moments before deciding that there was nothing there that she wanted or needed, and just left. Trying to avoid every-one’s gaze on the way out.
Not wanting to go home and not having anywhere else to go she went to the park. She found a bench and sat down.
“I didn’t really belong there anyway.”
“No, Jenny you didn’t.” She started at the voice. There was a man sitting next to her.
‘Who, who are you?”
“Your father.”
“My father lives in Iowa Riverside, Iowa. He has never been to Boston and probably will never. He says he won’t leave until his hero is born.”
“I think he has a while to wait. But he is your adoptive father. We choose him because he believes in bigger things.”
“What? Wait, you are telling me that he is not my real father.”
“That is right.”
“Then… who are you?” She really looked at the man for the first time. He did look a lot like her.
“I am your father, but before we go any further I think we need to go some place less out in the open.”
“No, no, no. I have been in the city long enough to know that trick. We start walking you grab me and stuff me a van and…” She trailed off as his expression changed. She looker at him. He did look a lot like her.
“Jenny.” he said softly. “I am not going to hurt you. We have to talk about some things, I just thought it would be better to do that in private. But if you want to talk here that is fine.”
“Yes, I think that would be best. I don’t know you from Adam.” He laughed. “What is so funny.”
“I am Adam.” Then she knew it was another dream. She shook her head violently. “That won’t help. I am not one of your day dreams.”
“But…”
“Jenny. I know about the dreams, I know about them because we sent them to you. To help you remember.”
“Remember what?” She pleaded.
“Who you are, who you have been.”
“What do you mean?”
“Jenny this is going to be hard for you to believe, but listen to me, please.”
“Alright I am listening.”
“Look, what I am going to tell you is going to be the hardest thing you have every had to believe but you must, it is vitally important.”
“I said I would listen.”
“Alright then,” he said sitting back on the bench. “One hundred thousand years ago, I was born in a place that was perfect. So long ago that I don’t really remember. I had to leave that place after your mother and I broke the rules.”
“Wait a minute you are going to tell me that you are the Adam, as in Adam and Eve?” She stood up and started to back up.
“You said you were going to listen.”
“That was before the tale got so long I needed a safety harness to climb down it.”
“Please. Just listen.”
“Why?”
“Because it will change your life.”
“How?”
“You will have to listen to the story to find out.”
“Alright, but if you try anything.”
“The can of mace in your bag. I know.” She looked at him surprised. “Go ahead get it out. That way you can be ready if you need it,” She did as she was bidden. “Good now sit down please, and let me continue.”
“Look I don’t know what you are trying to pull, so make this quick.”
“Alright, as you wish,” he said. “I am not the Adam from the bible, though that is not that far off. I will make this a very short story, your mother and I had to leave you about 30 years ago, really a blink in your life time. We left you in a static time state. Look I can tell from your expression you are not buying this. Your day dreams, they are real. You have lived all of those things. The status we left you in makes it seem that you are a normal human, you grow just like them, and you live just like them, and eventually had we left you long enough, you would have thought you died just like them, but of course it would just be a sleep that you would wake up from. We didn’t know how long we would be, but we are back now.”
“Wait a minute. So you are telling me that I am not thirty two and that I have lived all those things that I dream about?”
“That is correct.”
“So I was right? I really don’t belong here?” He nodded. She could not believe it. All the things that she had dreamed. The adventures, the other lives, the other times. Space travel, other worlds, so many other people. She wanted to scream it to every person who had ever said, Earth to Jenny. “I was right.” she said out loud finally.

Creative Commons License
Earth To Jenny by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at GreatHites.blogspot.com.

Last Thursday

This was originally posted Jun 10th 2008

Download and listen to the Audio version of Last Thursday and when you do, hear the promo for Variant Frequencies

This prompt Comes from
The News From Poughkeepsie From Mur Lafferty


Scenes Thursdays:

(Some of this is true.)

I never take into account how much that can go wrong in the block I walk to pick up my child from the bus stop. I always try to remember to take with me: my dog, a weapon, a camera, and my phone. When I forget these things, I often see things like vultures fighting over the territory that surrounds a roadkill squirrel, feral, puffy, white dogs that got free after they killed their owners, or glimpses of the black bears that wander our area.

I’m just glad the school buses still run after the apocalypse. Cause protecting my kid on the walk home is about all I can handle.

“Last Thursday”

“What do you mean it happened last Thursday? I have a meeting this afternoon, and now you are telling me it is not going to happen?” Justin asked. He had rephrased the question three times now and had gotten the same response. It was obvious that Ruth was getting annoyed with him, but she was telling him was impossible.

“Justin, you are not listening to me. Last Thursday, the day that all the lights went out, that was pretty much the end of all the meetings” Ruth said putting her hands on his desk. “Look, the fact that this building is in tact is a fluke. The fact that you are still dressed for work is because you bumped your head when it happened and you have been sleeping for the last five days. You don’t have any meeting this afternoon, you don’t need to wait for IT to fix your computer, you don’t even need to check your phone for messages. It is over. The bombs went off all over the world. The best estimates are that fifty percent of the worlds population is dead already and another fifty percent of them will die in six months from radiation, disease and hunger. Justin, it is over.”

“Wait Bombs? You mean like the WMD’s?”

“Yes, now you are getting it.”

For the first time that he had real noticed her appearance. She was dirty, something that Ruth never would have been at the office. He looked around the office now, and saw that the few people that were there, were not doing the things that they normally did. Instead they were huddled in a corner talking, looking over strange bits of things that were scattered on someones desk.

“We survived a nuclear attack, that is what you are telling me?” He said finally.

“Yes. We are far enough out here that we were not hit, and there is not direct fallout coming to us. We even have power, but we don’t know how long that will last.”

“Why?”
“Because, there is no one to bring the fuel to the power station, when the coal they have is gone that is it. So they have been rationing it.”

Justin, instinctively reached for his cell phone and looked at it. There was signal to his surprise.

“That won’t work unless you are going to call someone right near here. Our tower was damaged but Josesph and Micheal were able to repair it, not that it has done us much good, without the whole system, and the satelite links all you can call is local.” John from IT said.

“Look Justin, we are all really happy that you are awake. We understand that you are confused but, we are trying to plan our next move, where to start getting food when the power goes out for good that sort of thing. So unless you have some pretty good ideas, your questions are going to have to wait” Ruth said.

“So you lied to me” Justin said with a smile.

“Huh?”

“You told me there was no meeting this afternoon.”

“Yeah, I guess I did.”
“So who is in charge, what is the topic, who is attending? Did any one bring doughnuts I am starved.”

“Justin!”

“What?”

“Listen, this isn’t like the old meetings.”

“Oh relax Ruth, without some normalcy we will all go nuts. Does anyone have a working PC? We can put some slides together” He said walking toward he group in the corner. No one replied. “Ok then, lets just get a chart so that we can draw things, I have lost most of my presenting skills with the advent of powerpoint, but I will do my best.”

They all stared at him as if he where crazy. And maybe he was, but he didn’t care. Without something to hang onto he was going to go totally over the edge, and that the moment this was the only thing he could think of.

“Joe, where is the meeting?”
“Right here.”

“Oh this will never do. Did you say the whole building was standing and safe?” He said turning to Ruth again. She nodded dumbly. “Good, tell everyone that we are going down to conference room two.”

“You can’t!” Susan from accounting said
“What? why?”

“The Children are sleeping in there.” She said.

“Oh alright, I had not thought about that being single myself. Alright, what room is available?”

“I think conference room four will work.” Said Peter. “Three has broken glass and one all the lights are out.”

“Ok four it is then. Ruth, go tell everyone who is going to be in the meeting we are going to meet in conference room four.”

“But…” she protested

“But nothing, just do it. Are there going to be any visitors?”

“Yeah we have some of the people from the town council, the ones that lived further out.”

“Ok then, we will need name tags. The last thing people want is for someone not to remember their names.” He stopped his dervish of activity for a moment and thought.
“John, what is the meeting going to cover?”

“Supplies and things like that, who has what, and how many people there are, and what we should do about it.” He replied

“Good, then what we need are some lists.” He thought for another second, “Ok John, I want you and Joe to get a list of everything we have here that might be useful, don’t leave anything out, you never know what we might need. right Down to mops and brooms.”

“We going to be sweeping the radiation up Justin,” Joe asked?

“No, but you never know what we might need.”

It turned out Justin was right. The meeting was very much like every other meeting they had all been to. there were those people that were there just to be some where, and those that had things to contribute, there were even those, who it seemed came just to be a disruption, and for them it was good that Justin had taken charge. When it was over they had lists of things to do, and people knew what they were going to be doing.

Within a week things seemed almost normal again, power was only used to keep the refrigerators running at the grocery stores, the lights on at the clinic and the gas stations running. People went to work every morning, albeit for most of them, not doing what they were used to. Things were starting to look at bit better. The supplies that we did have were being rationed and for the time being things looked ok. You had to carry more with you than you used to, just to walk to the school bus with your kids, but things were really getting back to normal.

That was before they started to go out on recon missions, and discovered that we were really alone.

Creative Commons License
Last Htursday by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

Old Kelly

This was Originally posted May 21 2008

This prompt comes from Mur Laferty’s “News From Poughkeepsie” series. http://murverse.com/2008/05/10/the-news-from-poughkeepsie-day-19/

Old Kelly had been in prison for so long that she didn’t even remember why she was there, but when the King summoned her from her dark cell, he reminded her.


Download and listen to Audio for Old Kelly.

This weeks reading is by Ann Hite.

Also hear the News From Poughkeepsie Promo.

Old Kelly

Kelly looked out of the windows of tower room and saw the kingdom below her. She had not seen this view in over thirty years. That was the last time she had been allowed out of the basement cell.
The King was cruel to have locked her up all those years ago, but he was not an evil man, he had ordered that she have time nearly every day, to see the sun. Normally that was at sundown, and from the top step of the prison cell block. So at least she remembered what it looked like. The rest of the world though had faded in her memory. She was not even sure that it had been a king that had sent her to prison, it might have been some duke or something. But, they said it had been the king had summoned her to day. So she had to assume that it had been the king that had doomed her to thirty years in that hole. And for what. That she did not remember. She just remembered laughing at him, that day and for many many days after.
Today had been completely different. She had been woken before sunrise and taken, not by the normal older prison guards, but by two young men to this room. To this prison cell, for that was still what it was. Despite the niceties, the door was locked, and occasionally she could hear the voices of the guards outside the door. There she had watched the sunrise for the first time in many years.
Shortly after sunrise two maids had come in. They bathed her and dressed her. They had called a seamstress, but the clothes she had worn the day of her imprisonment still fit so she was sent away. The maids combed and brushed her black hair which was now down to her knees, they trimmed the end s off but left the greatest majority of the length. Then they braided it.
Several hours had passed, and now she stood alone trying to remember why it was that she was there, and wondering why it was she was being summoned before the king.
“Madam, you need to come with me now,” the voice of the young guard brought her back to the moment.
“Of course,” She said following obediently out of the room. He lead her down a long series of step and to a small room, with a set of large doors on the opposite wall. There they waited. The main doors finally opened but only a little hand waived them in.
“Today I will remind those of you who do not remember of a dear friend of mine.” The king said as she entered the room. She was still well to the back of the room and mostly concealed by a set of curtains. “She was a wonderful friend of mine when we were younger. Since the age of twelve, she was always by my side. There to help me and guide me in many ways. We had a great many things in common. All but one, and I will get to that in a moment. For I first want to tell you more about her.”
Kelly began to remember the king. He had been a young man when she had gone to prison. But no longer. His hair and is beard were silver, and his skin a pale sickly looking yellow. He had grown thin in all the years since.
“You will remember my kind ladies and gentlemen that she was a woman of unique gifts. She was extremely intelligent, and without a doubt she was beautiful. Of her beauty she was very proud. Too proud in fact, and this is where the differences between us become important. I am the king, and she was not even of royal blood.”
Kelly listened as he rambled on for some time about blood lines and, the importance of the rule of law. As he did the past began to come into focus for her. She remembered now the days that she had spent with him. The hours they had spent learning the laws of the kingdom, the horsemanship, and though it was deemed to be above a woman’s station, swordsmanship. They had also spend hours just by themselves, riding through the towns and villages of the country side. She had loved to see the changes in them… At that moment it all came back to her.
“I asked her to kick the mud off her boots and to change her life forever. I asked her to marry the king, but she refused. She actually said that her beauty was too great for some one like me.” He said gesturing toward himself with his ancient looking hands. “Bring out the mirror,” he bellowed.
To the side of the great hall another door was opened and four men entered with a very large mirror. “We will now see if she is still too beautiful to marry me. Of course I am now off the market so to speak,” This last remark was made with a sweep of his arm toward a woman that looked older than he. It was obvious that she had been beautiful at one time, her hair was still long and flowing but all white now.
When the mirror was positioned in the center of the room the guard leaned over and whispered in her ear. “This ain’t going to work out like this ol’ king thinks.”
“No I don’t believe it will.” Kelly replied, straightening her dress with her hands.
“I will now turn my back on her, as she turned her back on me thirty years ago, and let her see if her beauty is still enough to keep her happy.” He gestured toward her now and turned around to face the rear of the room. “Guard, bring my old friend Kelly in her now and let her see her reflection.”
From behind her the guard pushed gently.
“It is alright, I will go without a fight,” she said. Kelly walked proudly into the main hall and right up to the mirror. She turned slowly, so that everyone in the room could see her as well and only occasionally looked at the mirror herself, she knew what she would see.
The whispers that had started when she walked into the room and the members of the court has seen her, had now increased in volume so that she could hear many of them without trying. The mirror blocked her view of the king, and his view of her. So it startled her when he spoke from just behind it.
“Kelly, was it worth it?” He asked first in a quite voice and then again so that the whole room could hear. “Now your that youthful beauty has failed you, would it not have been better to spend that time with me, instead of wasting away in the cell below…”
“Your highness,” a random voice said from her side of the mirror.
“Move the mirror!” He shouted. It was moved away, and for the first time in thirty year he looked at her. His face turned ashen white and he dropped to the floor. Kelly stood for a moment longer admiring her appearance in the mirror before the guard pulled her away again. Thought she was much older than the king, by hundreds of years, it would take many hundreds more before, she started to look old, and once again she found the laugh that had send her to prison.

Creative Commons License
Old Kelly by Jeffrey Hite is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at greathites.blogspot.com.

Mister Johnson – The Very minor god.

character sketch Monday:

Alexandra is a strange girl. When she was born, so was her personal god – Mister Johnson. This was no guardian angel, but an actual god came into being. The God of Alexandra. She would hold no gods before him, and she would pray to, worship, and sacrifice to him. He had the body of a heron and the face of her mother’s third grade teacher, which upset her mother considerably when she found his visage burned into Alexandra’s morning toast. She is a good girl, trying to follow his seventeen commandments (including Thou Shalt Not Eat Fat Free As Long As Thou Keeps Thy Weight at a Reasonable Level) and find small rodents to sacrifice to him. She was a kind girl and always tried to go for the sickly ones. She quickly realized that her cat, Midnight, also knew of her god, and would bring her sacrificial mice to help keep her god happy.

But when Alexandra was 17, she displeased her god, and she felt his wrath.

The New from Poughkeepise Day # 76

Mister Johnson – The Very Minor god

When Johnson, or Mister Johnson, as his one and only subject called him was called into being he knew two things: first that he had only one subject, Alexandra, an otherwise normal little girl, and second that he was a very minor god. Alexandra made up for being his one and only subject very well. She was always faithfully completed penance with never a complaint, she even did extra from time to time. All in all what more could a god ask for. From time to time he would check with the other gods and none of them had as successful a track record he did, one hundred percent faithfulness from their subjects. He was the envy of all the other very minor gods. Not one of them even came close.

This made him proud, and in return he took good care of his faithful subject. He made sure that she never got sick, she never so much as stubbed a toe. He even gave her special powers from time to time. When that brat Thomas Middleberg pulled her hair and teased her in second grade, Mister Johnson made sure the she could catch him on the playground that afternoon, despite the fact that he was much faster than her normally. That was why on the day that it happened it was so very devastating.

The second of July had started like any normal day for Mister Johnson. Alexandra had woken him with her morning prayer. She sang softly in the way that he had taught her, and he was very happy that her voice was starting to take on the qualities that maturity would bring. It was a soft and soothing way to wake up.

*****

Today she was going to ask Tom Middleberg to the Sadie Hawkins Dance. She had fallen for him many years ago when she had chased him down on the playground. He had kissed her on the cheek that day so that she would not hit him, saying he was sorry for being rude to her. From that day forth she had a crush on him, but he had paid her little attention. When she had found out that the school was going to hold a traditional girl asks the boy dance, she had begun to pray.

*****

Today was important for another reason. Today was the day that he was going to fix the one thing about his existence that had always bugged him. He was going before council to present his record and get his status elevated from very minor god to minor god. But, in truth he had much higher aspirations.

“Mister Johnson,” the head of the council said. “We have seen your record, and it is positively glowing.” A round of here heres would follow. “It is in the judgment of this council that instead of the normal adjustment from very minor god to minor god, that you be elevated to the level of major god. And because of your incredible achievements you will be given control of the entire southern hemisphere.” Clapping and cheers breaking out as he finished the proclamation.

“Johnson…Johnson” The man with the annoying little voice as calling him again. He stood up and made his way to the little barred window.

“I’m Johnson,” he said.

“I will need proof of that.” Johnson pulled out his very minor god ID and showed it to the annoying little man.

“Oh, you are a very minor god,” he said never making eye contact and shaking his head. “You will have to come back on Wednesday, the council only takes up
very minor god issues on the third Wednesday of February on leap years.”

“But I have this appointment, and a spotless record.” He said holding out his slip and record.

“Let me see that.” he said snatching it from Johnson. As he did his dirty fingers left smudges on the nearly glowing record. Johnson felt is blood boiling at this. But he controlled himself. “Oh I see you are that Johnson. Yes, yes have a seat the council will see you in a little while.”

*****

Alexandra, like her god, was not having the best of days. She had asked for and gotten the things that she had wanted from Mister Johnson, but the extra height and other endowments she had been given were making here a little awkward. She did her best to compensate, but she was still having a little trouble. Oddly enough when she had prayed to him for a bit of grace he had not answered her. No matter, she would go it on her own, but she had decided to put the encounter off until the end of the day when she had had more time to work on her balance.

*****

“Johnson!” The annoying voice said.

“Yes?”

“The council will see you now. If I were you I would turn off your prayer catcher, in the off chance that it goes off in there it will reflect badly.”

“But what if my subject needs me?”

“As always if your prayer catcher is off your subjects’ prayers will go to pray mail that you can pick up later. But emergencies will be routed through the switch board here, and we can interrupt you if it is really important. But you better hope that
doesn’t happen.”

Johnson reluctantly turned off his pray catcher, but as he did he noticed that the signal was non-existent. He wondered how many of Alexandra’s prayers he had missed. He truly felt empty without them. He made his way to the council chambers. The two huge doors were made for the much older and larger gods, and he had to struggle to get one of them open enough to get in. When he finally got in, his toga was wrinkled and his record had picked up a new crease as well. He thought about trying to straighten them but felt the stares of the council upon him. He walked quickly forward and handed his paper work to the clerk, who looked at it in dismay. She checked her paperwork against his twice before taking to the huge bench where the nine super elevated gods sat. They looked casually at his record, passing it quickly from one to the other.

“It says here that your record is clean Johnson.” the least of the super elevated judges said blandly “That is rather impressive.How have you managed to keep your subjects happy?”

“Alexandra has few demands, and I have carefully taught the proper prayers and they are coming along nicely as she grows.”

“Ahh but how do you teach that to all of your subjects with no discontent? Surely there must be some that don’t like you.” Second most elevated judge said. This was not going as he had imagined.

“Well that is the thing, I only have one subject.”

“One!” Bellowed a particularly large god. They all passed his record around again examining it more carefully this time.

“How did this happen?” He asked the head god. There was silence among them and some very knowing glances were exchanged. Finally the head super elevated god spoke.
“Johnson, it appears that there has been a mistake. A god, even a very minor god is normally not given the care of just one subject, that is normally the dominion of the guardian angels,” He paused looking at the record again and frowning. “Hmmm… it says here that you have even given powers to the girl from time to time. That is not normally allowed, but otherwise you seem to have done a remarkable job with her. We are going to review your case and…”

Just then there was a knock at the chamber doors. The Clerk obviously annoyed at the interruption hurried to answer the door. There was a brief exchange that Johnson could not hear then the clerk came forward and handed a prayer mail recorder to Johnson.

“Well, you have interrupted us… Let’s hear it, if it is that important.” The head god said. Johnson, mortified of what it might be tried to figure out how the device worked. Alexandra had never had an emergency before. The worst thing that happened to her were nightmares and he could usually take care of them before they got bad. Then he remembered Thomas and the time he had pulled her hair. Just then he found the play button and pushed it.

“Mister Johnson,” her young voice sung with obvious strain. “Why have you forsaken me. He dumped me I hate you, ” The final came with such force that it shook the recorder in his hand.

When the echo died down the head god shook his head sadly and said, “This changes things a bit you understand.” He handed Johnson’s now considerably less that perfect record back to the clerk. Johnson looked down at it. It now had an ugly red scrawl across it, ‘Guardian Angel training needed.’ He took it a walked slowly out of the chambers. She would pay for this, he thought.

Less than for Keeps

Anything Goes Sundays:

Imagine an alternate Playing For Keeps (released August 25! ) universe where there are no heroes, just people with really lame superpowers. As the most powerful people in town, they form factions/gangs. The city falls into a somewhat lame, yet terrifying, gang-driven world.

The New from Poughkeepise Day # 75


Less than for Keeps.

Lester stood on the corner in stunned silence for a moment. The idiot had just stolen his wallet, and now he stood a few feet away dancing and holding it up in the air. He had a little shimmer about him but he was far from invisible. Lester walked over to the younger an smaller man and stood there towering over him.
“Give me that, you idiot” He said cuffing the other one on the back of his head. “You know,” he paused for a second reading the name written on the back of the boy’s jacket, “Keeper, you are not invisible.” He stuffed his wallet in his pocket and walked away.
“Shows how much you know, you must just have super eyes.”
“I don’t” Lester yelled back.
“Well Maybe you do and don’t know it.” Lester just kept on walking ignoring the stupid young punk.
After a few moments another young man separated himself from the crowd around Keeper, “Man I was going to tell you I was pretty sure people could see you. At least you didn’t go out naked like that guy in that stupid movie.”
“Yeah I should have known this field the guy on the blanket sold me wouldn’t work.”
“They never sell anything really good.”
“You can say that again.” He looked at his friend, heck you hid in that crowd better that I managed with this thing. He took the shiny belt off and tossed it on the ground. As he did it shocked him. “Ow! man I am not having any luck today. How about you Stymied?”
“Only if you count not being able to get anything done.” Stymied answered.
“Well that is kind of your power.”
“Yeah but it is kind of lame. I wish the gang had been able to give me a better super power.”
“I know what you mean man.”
Just then five members of a rival gang rolled in. They all had the skate boarder punk super power.
“What are you too losers doing here? You know this is our turf,” said the oldest one. He obviously also had the absorb large amounts of pain for long periods of time power, because he was covered in tattoos.

“Look we don’t want any trouble, we were just leaving.” Keeper said.

“Yeah just leaving.” Stymied repeated.

“Not before we give you a reminder of why you should not wander in to other gangs territory.” Said one who had at least three other powers that included the ability to withstand many piercings, and the ability to handle large amounts of hair gel before coming out in the morning.

“Thanks for reminding us. If there is one thing we can do it is to remember something being taught to us.” Stymied answered quickly pulling on Keepers arm.

“I don’t think so.” said the tallest of the rival gang and he brought his fist down on Stymied’s head.

After it was over the two walked away with only a few bruises a split lip and cut along keepers arm.