Caged!

The sky was dark and the full moon hadn’t peaked over the horizon yet.  Harvey kept waiting for Janet to get home.  She was late and Harvey needed out of his cage so badly.  He paced the space over and over: four steps, then three, then four, then three.  The time was coming, and if he didn’t get out he was just going to explode.  When was Janet going to come home and get him out?  She wouldn’t want to have him loose it here in her bedroom.  Harvey let out a small whimper.  He could feel a tremor in his legs.  Pretty soon he was going to have to let go, and that wasn’t going to be pretty.

Just then twin lights speared the bedroom windows, illuminated the ceiling.  Harvey yet out a yowl that had almost sounded like help.  The garage door began to open at the same time as the moon started to peak over the horizon.  Harvey could hear Janet running through the house.  She burst through the door, her blonde hair trailing behind her.   Harvey yowled a hello.

“Hurry,” she said in a very husky voice.

Janet opened the cage and Harvey bound out the way Janet came in.  He had to go outside and do his business so badly.  He made it out of the garage and into the sheltered backyard.  Janet raced after him, ditching clothing as she did so.

The moon finally leapt over the horizon and Harvey couldn’t hold it any longer.  His limbs elongated and he shifted to stand on his back legs.  His nose contracted, his eyes blinked and became the bluest blue.  Soon the transformation was complete.  He was naked and human once again.

Something furry rubbed against his leg.  He reached down and scratched Janet behind her ear.  She growled and bit at his hand.  “What’s wrong my love?” he asked.  Looking down at her golden fur, Harvey noticed that Janet hadn’t gotten her bra completely unhooked before her transformation.  He undid it and gave her a hug, nuzzling into her fur.  “Baby, this werewolf, wolfwere thing makes our relationship tough at times.  Janet whimpered.  Harvey gave her another hug.  “But at least we have each other.”

Bam! (A 100 Word Story)

Emeril picked up some salt and threw it in theatrically.  “Bam!” he yelled.  He waited for applause, but none was forthcoming.  “This is harder than the old days,” he said.

Dealing with offal hadn’t been one of his specialties at first, but after time he found he had a real knack for it.  A few more snips and the heart was now set.  Emeril masterfully tied a few surgeon’s knots with butcher’s twine and the cavity was sown back up.

Lightning struck the rods outside and a moan arose from the corpse lying in front of him.  “Bam!  It’s alive!”

Smoking Kills

The dumpsters behind the old warehouse were a perfect place to snag a mostly sheltered cigarette break.  There was always a person or two hiding out from the constant wind blowing along the old canal.  There might not be many jobs here anymore, but there wasn’t a shortage of people trying to dodge work for a quick nicotine hit.

Kennedy punched out for lunch and headed down to the dumpsters.  He figured to catch a quick hit before getting a coffee and maybe one of those shawarma wraps from that funny smelling dude at the lunch cart.  As he entered the unofficial smoking zone he noticed that Travis was already there.  That dude had blown in on the winds a couple of weeks ago and worked in the warehouse next door.  From what Kennedy had heard he was almost a ghost.  He had no friends, and spoke even fewer words.  He must have a crapload of stories though.  The man was covered in tattoos that pictured faces distorted by screaming.  Kennedy had a few tattoos of his own, but nothing that awesome.

Kennedy gave the mandatory head bob in recognition of Travis being there first and received a slight nod back, accepting Kennedy’s entry into the church of smoke.  Travis was thumping a soft pack of some off brand of menthols. Kennedy hated the smell of menthols, but he noticed that what wind was there was coming from Kennedy’s side of the shelter.  Kennedy wouldn’t have to worry about it.

Kennedy grabbed out his hard pack of unfiltered.  He pulled one out with his lips and reached for his lighter.  The problem was that his lighter wasn’t there.

“Damn,” Kennedy said through clenched lips.  “Hey man, can I bum a light?”

Travis put his cigarette pack on the dumpster and pulled out his sapphire blue Zippo.  With a very practiced flick of his wrist and thumb a flame appeared out of thin air.  Kennedy leaned in close and drew the flame into the cigarette, bringing it to life.  Kennedy breathed in deep and felt a small bit of satisfaction.

“Thanks man,” Kennedy said.

Travis flicked the lighter closed and placed it back into his overalls.  He picked back up his unopened pack of cigarettes and began to thump it against his open palm.  Kennedy notice and nodded towards the pack.

“You going to smoke one of those?” Kennedy asked.

Travis stopped thumping and turned back to Kennedy.   “What nosiness is it of yours?” Travis asked.  He began thumping his pack once again.

“You keep that up you won’t have anything left to smoke,” Kennedy said.

Travis paused mid hit.  “Who said I wanted to smoke?”

Kennedy laughed.  “Nobody is dumb enough to buy a pack for like twenty bucks and not smoke them,” Kennedy said.

Travis began tapping his pack again.  “Maybe I’m trying to quit,” he said.

“Then throw them away man,” said Kennedy.  “But I always say smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”

“When I smoke I worry about my smoke killing people,” Travis said.

That made Kennedy almost drop his cigarette as he laughed hard.  “Now that is some funny shit,” Kennedy said.  “You’re more worried about second hand smoke than what you do to your own lungs?  Dude, you must be a saint.”

It was Travis’ turn to laugh.  “No one has ever confused me with a saint.”

Kennedy took a long draw on his cigarette and watched Travis.  Travis ignored him and focused on tapping his pack.  Kennedy was curious.  “Hey man, those are some awesome tatts.  Where did you get them done?” Kennedy said.

“None of your concern,” replied Travis.  The tapping became a bit more forceful.

“Look, I just want to get something like that myself.  Your tattoo artist is like crazy good,” Kennedy said.

“Thanks,” Travis said.

“Huh?”

Travis smiled a grin that made Kennedy shiver.  “I did them all myself,” Travis said.

Kennedy let out a low whistle.  “Man, you are one tough mother,” Travis said.  “How much do you charge?”

“You wouldn’t want to pay that much,” said Travis.  He looked straight into Kennedy’s eyes.  “Trust me.”

Kennedy laughed a bit nervously.  “Come on, give me a number.  You might be surprised what I would pay for it,” Kennedy said.  “I mean, your tatts are so lifelike.  I love how the eyes scream as much as their mouths”

Travis stood there just staring at Kennedy.  Kennedy let the lull in the conversation just sit there for a while, but it seemed Travis wasn’t going to respond.  “Come on man,” Kennedy continued.  “Don’t be a prick.  Give me something to work with.”

“You want something to work with?” Travis asked as he unwrapped his soft pack.

Kennedy nodded.  “Yeah man.  I mean it.  I want one,” Kennedy said.

Travis pulled out his zippo and set his lit his cigarette while facing away from the wind, taking a couple of quick puffs.

“Really, name your price,” Kennedy said.

The wind kicked up just as Travis muttered something.  Kennedy moved closer.  “What did you say?” Kennedy asked.

The wind died down to a calm as Travis turned back to face Kennedy with his eyes closed.  “I said are you willing to be a subject for one of my tattoos first?” Travis asked.

Kennedy nodded, but realized Travis couldn’t see the action.  “Yeah, I can do that.  It would be pretty cool,” Kennedy said.

“Good,” said Travis.  He sucked hard on his cigarette taking in quite the lungful and held it there for a second.  Travis’ eyes snapped open as he blew out the smoke into Kennedy’s face.  The last thing Kennedy saw was the red glow coming from Travis’ eyes.  Kennedy began to scream as he could feel his body, his mind, and his soul being pulled apart by the smoke.

Travis sucked back in the smoke and the dissipating Travis.  He held that smoke in his lungs for a moment, savoring the feel before blowing a bit of smoke back out.  Travis undid one side of his overalls and pulled down the collar of his t-shirt underneath.  There was the picture of Kennedy, screaming, face distorted by the smoke to something so lifelike, but so wrong.

“That’s why you should listen that my smoking kills,” Travis said to the last of the smoke drifting away on the winds by the canal.

Ethereal Love

I was always drawn to redheads, but she was mesmerizing.  I knew we were destined to be together before I even knew her name was Vivian.

I started hanging around her daily trying to get her to even notice me and acknowledge my existence.  At first she kept looking straight past me, but over time I would be able to catch her eye.  I kept trying to get her to smile since she was always so sad.

Eventually she started talking to me, telling me of the bad things that were happening to her at school and with this one boy.  I offered to do something about it, but she said she had an idea on how to handle it, she just needed a bit more time.  She broke up with the boy, but that didn’t really help.  One by one her friends stopped hanging out with her, so Vivian and I would spend more and more time together.  I was so happy, but she seemed to be getting more and more depressed.  I was worried, but she kept telling me it would be okay, that she just had to be brave enough to do what needed to be done.  I always wanted to take her into my arms and hold her tight, but it just wasn’t possible.

Then one day she was so happy.  She told me that today was the day.  She then went up to the bathroom, drew herself a bath, and ended her life.  Now she is with me here, and I can hold her with all my might, but it is not the same.  She was so vibrant when she was alive, but now being dead like me, not so much, but I love her all the same.

The Unexpected Gift

Gertrude held the present in two hands and gently shook it.  The pink ribbon swayed in the handmade breeze, but the blue and white stripped cube made no other concessions to her senses.  She put it back down and stared at it, wishing she had Superman’s version of x-ray vision.

“Come on Gertie, just open it,” said Brantley.  He was like a kid at Christmas, except it wasn’t his present to open.  That made him even cuter than normal, especially when he was dressed up with his purple bowtie that almost made his blue eyes look that same shade of purple.  Normally she would be taking off his glasses and suggesting they eat in tonight, but this darn package just bothered her.

Brantley had found the package with no return address on her doorstep when he stopped by to pick her up for dinner.  Opening it up revealed the present and one of those lame happy birthday novelty tags with her Gertrude’s name and no other information. It wasn’t even close to her birthday, and she really couldn’t think of who would send her a random gift, beside Brantley of course.  This was a true suprise.

Gertrude didn’t like surprises.  That probably had to do with her floating through various group homes and foster families until the age of seventeen. Surprises usually meant packing up and heading out, or even worse, you find out your new “family” wasn’t all it was promised it would be.  Or there would be bonus possible unwanted male attention.  That sent a physical shudder down her spine.

Brantley noticed that.  “Are you okay?” he asked.

Gertrude banished those memories back down deep where the light of conscious thought rarely shown. “I’m fine.  Just a bit of excited about going out on our date tonight,” she said hopefully convincingly.  She looked into his eyes and put on a genuine smile.  Those eyes were so damn cute.  Okay, she meant what she said about being excited now.

“Well we can get going after you open it, Gertie,” Brantley said.  “I really want to see what you got.”

“We can open it later,” Gertrude said.  “Unless you were the one who left it.”  She let her voice trail off, hoping that he would confess.

Brantley shook his head.  “Nope, not this time.  Come on.  You must be curious, at least a little.”

Gertrude couldn’t shake her sense of dread.  “Listen, why don’t we go out and then I’ll open it when you drop me off.  I don’t want to be late for our reservation.”

“Really Gertie?  You want it to wait?  Come on, this is killing me,” Brantley said.

“Killing you?” Gertrude asked.  “It’s not even your present.”

“Gertrude, open the present,” Brantley said.

Gertrude looked into Brantley’s eyes.  They seemed even more purple now, but not at all cute.  Another shiver escaped down her spine.  Brantley noticed this one too and deflected his gaze at his hands.

“I’m sorry Gertie,” Brantley said.  “It’s just as a kid growing up I always wanted someone to leave me a mystery present and inside have it be something cool that I always wanted.  Maybe even something magical.”  His eyes danced at the thought.

“I don’t believe in magic,” Gertrude said.  The sparkle in Brantley’s eyes died.  Gertrude immediately wished he hadn’t said anything.  She decided to smooth things over.  “What kinds of things did you want?” she asked.

“Oh the usual boy stuff.  A new baseball mitt signed by Rodger Clemens,” Brantley said.  He paused for a second and laughed a bit.  “Of course that was before the whole steroids thing.  Then there was a new synthesizer.  I was going to be a rock star.  If I could have had a staff like what Gandalf had, now that would have been cool.  Of course in high school the best would be a cute red headed girl’s phone number.”

Gertrude involuntarily reached up and touched her raven ringlets.  Brantley saw that and immediately continued.  “That was a phase I was going through,” he said.  “Now I appreciate a woman’s smile and who she truly is inside.  That is the essence of magic to me today.”  He reached over the cursed present and stroked her cheek.  “I got lucky and found a wonderful woman who has beauty to go with that smile and that something magical inside.”

A blush bloomed on Gertrude’s cheeks.  What did I do to deserve such a wonderful charming guy?  What did such an amazing man ever see in her?  She leaned forward and kissed him gently on his lips.  There was almost a spark of electricity that passed between them.

“Okay, on that note let’s get going,” he said.  With one fluid motion he was standing and reaching into his pocket.  “We can eat dinner and maybe catch a show.  We can wait till I drop you off.”

Gertrude summoned up her resolve.  “Nope, I’ll open it first, then we can go.”

“Don’t do it,” Brantley said.  “I was being a jerk.”

“Nope, I was making a big thing out of nothing,” Gertrude said.  “I have nothing to be afraid of because I have you here with me.  There’s no need to worry about surprises because I have my big knight in shining armor.”

Gertrude caught an almost guilty look pass across Brantley’s face so she quickly stood and gave him a hug.  “Really.  I love you,” she said.  He stiffened.  Crap, went too far.  Time to do more damage control.  “Let’s see what my mysterious benefactor left for me,” she continued.

Gertrude moved back to the couch and undid the bow.  She smiled and twirled the bow in the air.  Brantley watched her, a small smile bloomed.  Next she pulled back the wrapping paper, trying to preserve it the best she could.  Folding it nicely and setting it next to her she then turned her attention to the present box itself.

“Well?” Brantley asked.  It startled her since he had come up close while she had been folding the wrapping paper.  To cover her surprise she picked up the package and put it in her lap.  She slid her nail along the tape, separating the two box flaps.  She opened up the flaps while holding her breath.  Inside she was what looked like a photo album.

“Well? “ Brantley asked again.

Gertrude took the photo album out of the box and placed the box on top of the wrapping paper.  “Don’t know.” She said as she opened the book.  The first page was a birth certificate for a girl who weighed seven pounds, four ounces on May twenty-fifth, nineteen eighty-two.  The name on the certificate was Cassandra Powel.

“Who is that?” asked Brantley.

“I don’t know,” Gertrude said.  “I wonder if this is for one of my neighbors.”  She closed up the book.

Brantley looked at the book with a look of hunger.  “The tag had your name on it,” he said.  “Maybe it will make sense if you look a bit more.”

Gertrude held the book tight.  “I think this is a really bad idea.  Let’s go to dinner.  I shouldn’t have opened it now.”

“Look, you’re frazzled,” Brantley said.  “I’ll order takeout and we can pick up a movie from Redbox.  This way you can have a chance to detox.”

“I would rather go out,” Gertrude said.  When she heard the words come out of her mouth she knew that that lie would never stand on its own.  “Okay, maybe takeout is good.  I’ll take Szechuan.”

“Okay, I’ll call it in and we can go get it,” Brantley said.

Gertrude shook her head.  “You’re right.  I’m frazzled.  Why don’t you go get it and I’ll just detox here.  This way the evening won’t be a total loss,” she said.

Gertrude could tell that Brantley wanted to say more, but he knew there was nothing more he could say without destroying the rest of the evening.  “Okay, he said, “I’ll be right back.  Don’t do anything crazy without me.”

“I think I was crazy enough already,” Gertrude said.

Brantley put on his cutest smile, leaned in, and kissed Gertrude.  This time the kiss was almost cold, but Gertrude hid her reaction.  That smile had lost a lot of firepower all of a sudden.

“Love you, Gertie” Brantley said.  He then tuned and let himself out the front door, leaving Gertrude holding onto the album, still stuck on the couch.

Gertrude counted to ten before she opened back up the album.  The second page was a series of baby pictures.  They were all solo pictures with no hint of another being present, except for the record of the photos themselves.  Page after page chronicled the child getting older.  Still no other human being was depicted.  Suddenly Gertrude lost her breath.  The girl had grown into her!  She remembered that outfit.  It was her favorite purple dress that she wore every other day to kindergarten.  The pages almost turned on their own.  Picture after picture of her caught in various candid moments on her own.  All the towns, all the different houses, all her and only her on each page.

Gertrude flipped to the first page again and read aloud the name on the birth certificate, “Cassandra Powel.”  It sounded so natural to her.  She looked at the box.  Inside was still a note and a small box that had been hidden by the larger album.  She took out the box and opened it.  There was a silver heart locket on a thin chain.  The locket didn’t want to open, so she set it aside and looked at the paper.  Unfolding it she revealed a hand written letter with an old polaroid picture of a woman who looked so much like Gertrude, but with a lot more wear and tear on her face..

Dear Cassandra,

I really should say dear Gertrude, but that was supposed to be just your middle name, an honor to your grandmother.  I’m sorry I have to give this to you now.  After so many years of only allowing myself to catch a glimpse of you now and then I had planned to stop in and finally introduce myself.  I used to imagine your reaction from finally meeting your mother.  I would fear the revulsion or rejection.  I would get excited about the acceptance and unconditional love.  So many possibilities, so many different ways it would work out in my mind.  I’m now worried though that they have almost caught me.  This is so dangerous Cassandra.  Every time I snuck to see you I knew there was a chance that they would find you.  If they did, everything would have been lost.  As it is I worry they might already have their sights on you.  I wish I was there to help you through the pain you are about to endure, but you must take up the burden on your own.  Put on the locket and all will be revealed.  If I can I will come to you, but if they do finally catch me know that I die with my love for you as my grave shroud.

Love,

Malissa Flandiss.

 

Gertrude looked at the locket and wondered what made it so important.  Just then she heard the front door open.  Gertrude quickly hid the locket and letter away in her pocket.

She stood up as Brantley entered the room carrying the takeout bags.  “No plates?” Brantley asked.

“Sorry, decompressing,” Gertrude said.

“Right.  So you weren’t looking through the album while I was gone,” Brantley said.

“I’ll go get the plates,” Gertrude said as she brushed past Brantley and went to the kitchen.  As she pulled plates from the cupboard she pulled back out the locket and looked at it again.  Did she really want to put it on?  What would happen?

Brantley came into the kitchen and saw the locket.  “Where did you get that Gertie?” he asked.  His eyes never left the silver heart.

Gertrude felt like she was being violated by the way he focused on the locket.  “It was in the box,” she said.

“Can I see it Gertie?” Brantley asked.  His voice seemed off, and his purple eyes almost seemed to glow with a reddish tinge.

Gertrude held the locket closer to her, defensively.  “Brantley, you are scaring me.”

Brantley looked at her, but that other him didn’t really go away.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just that looks really, well I just want to see it,” he said.  For every slow step forward he took, Gertrude took one back until she felt the sink behind her.

“Don’t be silly, Gertie,” Brantley said.  “Just let me see the necklace.”  That voice was so distorted in her ears.  Every hair on her arms was standing and felt like they were screaming like the painting by Munch.

Brantley took another step forward and that snapped Gertrude into action.  She went to put the necklace on as Brantley screamed, “No!”  He moved faster than she thought he could, but he could only grab the locket as the chain settled around her neck and shoulders.

The world exploded into fire.  Her mind heard the voices of thousands of people at once.  The odd thing was she could make out each in turn and while the initial cacophony was deafening and confusing, it suddenly all made sense.  She knew who she was and the family she had come from.  The knowledge of generations settled upon her and took residence.  Family members from recent and far past all welcomed her into the fold.  It was as if all the memories for generations had taken up residence inside her mind.  They told her many things, but especially of the creatures that would come looking for her and the locket.  The creatures with the purple eyes.

Gertrude snapped back to the now and Brantley growled at her.  His hand was smoking where he held the locket, but he didn’t let go.  He looked at her with those purple inhuman eyes filled with hate.

“Give me the locket,” Brantley said.  His teeth grew longer and she swore he grew like two inches and a hundred pounds of muscle.

Gertrude felt fear like she had never felt, even in those dark moments she had recently reburied.  She felt so overwhelmed that she almost just gave up, but when that thought surfaced the family she just had been introduced to screamed a collective NO.  Suddenly her muscles had memories that only a lifetime, or in this case multiple lifetimes could have mastered.  She stepped into Brantley, crashing her heel into his foot while spinning and bringing her foot up and into Brantley’s jaw, snapping his head back.  The momentum tore the locket from his hand and caused him to take a step back to regain his balance.

Gertrude settled into a balanced fighting stance.  Brantley spit out a tooth onto the floor.  “I’ll take that as a no,” he said.  “Too bad.  I was looking forward to having you for dinner tonight.  Take care, Gertie.  I honestly hoped you weren’t going to be the one.”  With that he turned and left.

“My name is Cassandra and I was hoping you would have been the one,” she said to no one as the front door closed.  “What have I gotten myself into?”

A voice in her head said, “This is just the beginning.”

For once Cassandra didn’t worry about what surprises may come.  She had at last found where she belonged.

Outer Demons

The airstrikes were coming any minute now, but Francis couldn’t even think about anything but containing the magic building around his team.  His arms moved in lazy figure eights, drawing upon his image of the infinite.  His calculus professor always told him the math would come in handy.  The pressure pushing in on his bubble threatened at any point to burst his protection, unleashing hell knows what on his men.

“Bogey at seven o’clock!” yelled Maurice as he swung his AK47 in that direction, unleashing a tight volley.  Six of the other seven swung that direction, combining their firepower to release another bogey to meet whomever he prayed to.

Francis noted that this bogey had four arms and six legs.  The variety of demons was amazing.  It was like all the rejects from evolution had gone to hell, waiting to be released for a second chance to exact revenge on the human form that had won.

Francis looked at the only other person in his group who didn’t wield a conventional weapon.  Ariel held her sword in a two handed grip, glowing even though it was noon.  She kept her eyes scanning over a one-hundred eighty degree arc, but never moving a muscle other than the slight natural movement of breathing a bit heavily in the heat.  That movement almost bothered Francis more than the bogeys out there, but now was not a time to get metaphysical.  Where the hell was the other mage?

“Sir, we need to fall back.  The cavalry will be here in four minutes,” said Sanchez.

Francis knew he was right, but if Francis didn’t neutralize that enemy mage the jets didn’t stand a chance.  Time for a different tactic.  “Ariel, get ready, I’m going to fold the shield.”  Ariel gave the briefest of nods while her eyes continued to rove farther than seemed possible.

Sanchez purposely didn’t look Ariel’s way.  “What does that mean sir?” asked Sanchez.

“Get the men pointed in the direction of that last bogey.  We are going to have visitors.  Get ready to fall back,” Francis commanded.  He eased his shield, moving it into more of an American football shape.  The pushing he felt intensified and Francis purposely let it flutter for a second.  In that moment Francis’ world lost all color as the mage redoubled their efforts.  Francis fell to his knees, blood pouring out his nose, but he now knew where the bastard was.  He pointed just to the right of the dead bogey.  “There, about two clicks,” he said.

Arial unfurled her wings and launched at near supersonic speeds mere couple of feet above the ground.  Her wake shredded the remains of Francis’ shield.  Bogeys began pouring through the rifts that had been opened.  His troops began opening fire, maintaining their firing arcs while slowly moving back towards friendly lines.  Francis activated some of his magic reserves and boosted his physical stamina.  He rose to his feet and began back pedaling, not wanting to take his eyes off of where Ariel had flown.

“Why are they staying back?” yelled Maurice.  That snapped Francis back to the battle at hand.  None of the bogeys were advancing.  They still came out of the portals, but they just held their ground.  It was as if…

“Press forward!” yelled Francis and he began wielding lightning, mowing through the closest bogeys as he ran, tapping farther into his reserves.  He was going to pay for this later, if there was a later.

The bogeys reacted as one.  They must have been waiting for Francis to figure it out.  He just hoped he wasn’t too late.  More lightning flew from his fingertips and Francis could feel burning as his fingertips darkened.  His flesh might be too weak for this.  Francis felt his will begin to falter, the lightning lessened in intensity.

A grenade arced over Francis’ head and landed in the largest group of bogeys and the explosion sent most of them back to where they had come from.  Francis’ men ran past him, trying to send as many of the bogeys to hell as they could before it was their time to take that final step.

Sanchez got too close to one of the demons and recoiled.  He took a set of quills to his face from a porcupine looking bogey, dropping Sanchez to the ground in agony.  Sanchez’s face began to melt around the spines when Maurice put a bullet in his head to put Sanchez down before spraying the porcupine bogey, splattering it.

Francis dug deep and sent lightning arced over his men and into concentrated knots of bogeys.  Bullets and magic took their toll and finally the bogeys broke, running in any direction except at Francis’ group and the direction Ariel had flown.

Francis pointed a smoking finger where Ariel had flown.  “That way,” he said.  A loud rumble emanated from the sky.

Maurice pumped his fist.  “Here comes the cavalry,” he said.

Francis looked up and realized how wrong Maurice was as a star fell from the sky, crashing to the ground right where Ariel had gone.  “No!” screamed Francis.

“What?” asked Maurice.  Those were his last words as a sword blossomed from his chest.

Ariel slid Maurice’s body off her sword.  The rest of troops were frozen in fear and disbelief.  Francis sank to his knees.

Ariel smiled at Francis.  “I am free,” she said in her sing song voice.  Her voice tore at Francis’ soul like her flight had shredded his shield.

“I know,” Francis said.  “Just please make it quick.”

The rest of his squad finally snapped out of their surprise and started to open fire.  Ariel killed them all in a matter of seconds, looking no worse for wear.  “You shouldn’t have bound me,” she said.

Francis could feel drops of blood crying from his eyes.  “We needed something to help against the demons.  Your kind would have abandoned us to our extinction,” he said.

“So you resorted to slavery of the divine?” Ariel asked.  She slowly walked up to Francis, the sword pointed at his heart.

Francis looked to the sky and sent a flare into the sky with the last bit of his magic, pumping himself dry.  “The divine abandoned us.  You’re no better than the bogeys,” he said.

“I am better than a demon.  For example, you cannot kill me,” she said as she slowly sunk her sword into his chest.

“We’ll see about that,” Francis whispered as the air to ground missile exploded.

My Personal Demon

I look my demon in the eyes without flinching, much.  My demon could sense my trepidation, taste my fears.  “You will never be a success,” my demon says.  “You don’t have the fire inside to do it.”

I shake my head.  “I can do it,” I say, but it sounds whiny in my ears.  “I can change.”  My demon smiled even more, his eyes throwing daggers at my resolve.  “Really.”

“You are a wanna be,” my demon says.  “Remember that time you wanted to ask Renee out, but instead you just babbled for like five minutes, making you sound like an idiot before walking away?”  I look at my feet, but that doesn’t stop him from continuing.  “You said you could do that too.  But don’t worry, you will never be alone.  You are a loser, and I will always be here to remind you of that.  That’s how great of a demon I am.”

I begin to walk away, but stop.  “You know something,” I say, “If I am such a loser, that means you must be one too.”  I turn and look him in the eyes again, this time without flinching.  “I mean, why would you be my demon if you didn’t suck at being one.  I mean, if you were awesome you would be plaguing Tom Brady or Beyonce.  Instead you’re stuck with me.”

“Boy, get out of here with that,” my demon sputters.  “Without me being so awesome you would be kicking butt and living the good life.  I’m one of the best demons there is.”

I smile my own grin of daggers as my demon realizes what he had done.  “Thanks, now I know I’m awesome.”  My demon watches horrified as I walk away from the mirror.