Country Fields

I sat around the campfire staring into the flames.  Purposely trying to ignore what was just over the hill.  Rubbing my hands together warming them near the flames.  I thought back to marching down the palace road looking at everyone who had lined the streets.  I didn’t understand their fascination with watching the walking dead march by.    

Women who normally wouldn’t pay a low-ranking officer in the King’s guard a look were now handing me handkerchiefs and other objects of favor when we marched by.  All that junk was now dirty or lost.  But I did the polite thing and accepted their gifts with a smile.  I was an officer in the King’s guard we were expected to act with honour.  Even though I was surrounded by men who had killed, murdered, raped, god knows what else in the name of the king.  Then again if it was in the name of the King it seemed the most brutal of crimes were acts of war and nothing else.  The battleground was a free for all where all that mattered is you walked away.

My feet still ached from the march down to the battleground.  I can remember telling myself to keep putting one foot in front of the other and repeat.  Eventually you lose track of time and forget how long you had been walking.  I don’t remember passing farms or coming up on travelers on the road.  It was just an empty blur of color.  Other travelers probably knew we were coming and did their best to avoid the roads.  I brought my hands up to my face and blew on them then held them back over the flames.  At that moment I felt a hand grab my shoulder and squeeze.

“Holy shit, can you believe we are here?”

I looked up at my friend Patrick.  He was a big fellow, his armor made him look bigger.  “Yup, here we are.”

“What? You’re not scared, are you?”

Truth of the matter is I was terrified.  How could you not be scared?  Just over the hill is an army with men sitting around campfires with weapons waiting to crack your skull open.  I avoided the question.  “We are trained for this.” 

“Fucking right brother!”  Patrick said loud enough for most men around us to hear.  “Well eat up, I hear the Captain is moving us out at daybreak.”

I nodded.  I knew sleep would elude me tonight.  Looking around the fire I sensed I was not the only one who’d be lying awake tonight.

The night moved on painfully slow.  When I did retreat to my tent, I laid there for a long time staring up at the white cotton roof to my tent.  I spent my night lost in daydreams about being back at home.

I had managed to drift off to sleep, a howl deep in the woods woke me and slipped up the lip of the tent to see if the sun was coming up yet.  It was still pitch black.  This repeated a few times through the night.  This made the night seem to last an eternity and when I did wake to see the dark sky had brightened, I wished that the eternity of darkness would return.

A horn fractured the early morning silence. The sharp sound startled me.  It was the sign to get up, gear up, and to group up at the staging point.

To war I went.

I yawned, the air was cool and crisp.  I heard one man say not far from where I was that this was a good morning to go to war.  I couldn’t disagree more.  It would be life or death we’d be marching towards.  That was the only real question that matter.

Many of the men had passed out where they sat by the fire after drinking too much.  Some fallen awkwardly off the log and lay on the ground, others managed to make it to their bed rolls they laid out.  They too yawned and groaned as they got to their feet.  Some men were dunking their heads into horse troughs to help wake them up.  Others just kept drinking.  Going to war hung over or with your senses dulled was not a good idea.  That was the first thing I was told back at the academy.  But for some maybe their demons needed to be silence before the blood shed started.

I was one of the last to reach the staging point.  I saw Patrick standing at the front.  The captain had already started to bark his orders and the plan for the attack.  I couldn’t hear a damn word that was being said.  Probably didn’t matter, I couldn’t see much strategy to running out into a country field with sword in hand.  The only strategy I had was to stay alive.  I didn’t give two shits what the captain was saying.

The banner men turned and followed the captain as he made his way up the hill, we all follow, and a line soon developed that stretched across the entire hill.  Before us was a field, bodies already littered it and the stench coming from it was gag inducing.  There on the other side of this country field of death stood the enemy.  We stared at them and they stared back at us.  Probably thinking the same god damn thing, I was thinking.  Why am I here?

A horn blew and men started to run, men on the other side ran at us.  Bringing up the rear seemed to be a good idea to me.  I let the rows in front of me get a good head start before I moved.  Running down the downslope of the hill, I wondered what this field use to be?  A beloved field of a farmer?  A quiet pasture?  Maybe it was nothing.  But that was not its fate, blood would be spilt, men would die, and this once quiet peaceful country field would be turned into a devil’s reaping with plenty of souls to condemn.

I pulled my sword from its sheath, looked at the gleaming edge and prepared for my fate.  Will it be life? Will it be death?  I took a breath and prepared to walk down whatever path fate chose.

The End

Trained to do It

I sat in the corner chair.  The beer opened with a hiss and cool vapours rose up into the hot air.  Droplets of condensation ran down the bottle as the two temperature’s mixed.  Taking a long sip from the bottle I let the bittersweet liquid fill my mouth before I swallowed.  Putting the bottle down on a coaster I looked down at the set of four feet sticking out from the floor at the foot of the bed.  One set belong a very cute woman.  She was in her mid-thirties; the other set belong to a man in his late forties. 

There was the tiniest spot of blood on the woman’s ankle, the man’s left foot was covered in it.  I didn’t know their names, didn’t care to know them.  I didn’t even know what they had done.  I simply got a phone call followed by a job offer and a dollar sign.  Then it was up to me to decide if I wanted to take it or not.  The pay day was too good to pass up and I was already in town by chance.  What town you ask?  That I can’t exactly say, or you’d report me and then I’d be running from the authorities.  That is something I had never had to face yet and didn’t want to.  I took another sip from the bottle and as I stared at the four feet I couldn’t help but wonder what they were trained to do.

Every day I passed people on the street that had normal jobs.  I ordered my chai tea latte from the same barista you might.  You know the petite dark-haired girl, probably in her early twenties.  Always smiles, even behind the mask I’m sure she was still given that cute heart melting smile.  I wondered how many men came back here every day at the same time just hoping to see her.  She was trained how to use the machine to steam the milk, how to make the drinks, probably had to study the steps to making everything on the menu.

Doubt that her trainer showed her how to stalk a target.  To not rush into it.  Assassination was a fine art, like painting or writing.  It took years to get good at it and if the man or woman that helped you learn was a competent killer you could rest easy knowing the skills you’d learn would keep you alive and out from behind bars.  A bad trainer would end your career before it started.  In the business we don’t call them trainers or mentors, nothing like that.  We have our own names for these people, which I cannot share, being an assassin is also like being part of a secret society.  Think of it as being a Freemason, you can know a little, but you never really know anything for sure.

I’m sure if we had monthly meetings it would be rather interesting and bloody.  Probably a few fights here and there and not to mention the egos that would be in the room.  Hell, there probably wouldn’t be any room to sit with all those egos.  We assassins are a proud bunch.

I finished the beer; didn’t worry about the DNA that I would leave on it.  I didn’t exist in any database anywhere, so I wasn’t worried.  I’d be a ghost that the authorities would be looking for and never find.

Standing over the bodies I looked down at them.  Another story of two people that I ended.  I wondered that if I had been adopted by a nice family maybe I’d be the barista working beside the dark-haired cutie.

The End.

Outside the Window

Hello 2019, yeah I know I’m late to the party. I have laid out 52 prompts for this year and plan to create regular content for you all to enjoy. I hope you enjoy the first short story of 2019, next week I’ll be working on the short story titled, The Unrequited love poem

***

Outside the Window

               I looked outside the window, the palms of my hands flat against the glass.  The dead of space put an oddly beautiful twist to the horrifying vision of war, there were no sounds, no screams, just a view of twisted pieces of metal twirling and the rare spark of light.  The escape pod I floated slowly away in was part of a much larger ship.  One that had thousands of people call it home and now there was just me.  I thought about the friends I had lost, the pain they felt as they had died.  Either being sucked out into the vacuum of space or feeling the heat of the explosion as it took them. 

                “Guidance system failure.”  The voice was loud and unexpected, it caused me to jump.  “Guidance system failure.”  Turning away from the view of the dead and dying I looked for a control panel.  “Guidance system failure.” 

               “I get it okay, guidance system is failing, where is the control panel for guidance systems?”  The escape pod was not very big, it was white, a brilliant white, like when you walk in to a hospital and it almost feels like you are surrounded by the light of heaven.  It was kind of like that. 

               “Cannot comply…guidance failure now imminent.”

               “Computer, show me where guidance systems are located?”  Asking again as I turned in a tight circle not understanding how this panel could be hidden from me.  If I raised my arms to the side I could touch the wall on each side of this egg shaped pod.

               “Require security password to unluck guidance system panel.”

               I fell back into the small chair.  “Computer my name is Chris Jensen, ID 45-6-4-MM, security level Delta Beta.”

               “Security clearance denied.  You do not have proper clearance to access guidance systems.”

                “Computer, the ship UPF Vengeance was destroyed, you were part of that ship.  From what I know I am the only survivor.  How can I access guidance systems in emergency circumstances?”

               “Computer error, please run diagnostic.”

               “Computer, how do I run diagnostic?”

               “System degrading, 70% operational, ETA until full system shut down five minutes.”

               I was starting to get frustrated with the computer, it was not answering any of my questions and I had no way to access the guidance system but didn’t appear I’d need to worry about the guidance system much longer.  “Computer what can I access with my security level?”

               “Unknown code in kernel, system down to 50% operational.  Shutting down life support to protect internal system power.”

               “No keep life support on you idiot!  Why would you shut that down at 50%?  Shut down giros or interior lighting.”

               “Life….suuuu…pppport shu…ttt…ing …d….ooown”

               Great now the computer was stammering  “Fuck…computer can you show me our trajectory?”  Slowly the hologram of the system popped in to view.  It was out of focus and stuttered like some child was shacking the optical signal.  “Where are we heading?”

               “We…we…we….we…are heading to…to…to…binary st….st…star  Al..Al…Alpha One Zero.”

               Holy fuck. “Are we on collision path with a star?”

               “Yes…yes we are.”

               “What will the cabin temperature reach?”

               “Error…error…information corrupt.  Fatal error.”

               I ran my hands through my hair that was already beading with sweat.  “Fatal…no shit.”  Slumping in to the chair I sat with my hands holding my face.

               “Warning….Warning…Temperature rising on hull.”

               Not what I wanted to hear.  “What is the temperature on the hull?”

               “Temperature…is reading…fatal error…fatal error.”

               “Do you know anything!”  I yelled out

               “Computer running at 10% efficiency.”

               Great, a few more seconds and I’d have no computer, no information, and no control.

               “Firing giro rockets, prepare for burst.”

               “Wait….what?”  I felt artificial gravity give way and before I could secure the seat belts the rockets fired and I was sent flying.  Hitting the top of the pod rather hard with my head.  I felt a wound open up on my forehead and hot blood poured over my face. 

               “You require first add, vitals suggest slight concussion, please rest…please rest…please rest…please rest.”

               “Would you shut up!”  I put a hand to my forehead and felt the sting of the salt as I tried to apply pressure to the bleeding.  I looked out the window and the view had changed, I was now facing the star.  “Computer are we still heading towards the star?”

               “Yes…access….access guidance system immediately.”

               “Computer how would…”  Before I could finished the computer responded.

               “Error…system error…shutting down.”

               “Would be nice if I had gravity!”  I yelled out but there was nothing I could do.  “I guess now I just wait…and why the fuck am I still talking out loud?”

               I couldn’t take my eyes off the star as it grew in size.  Sweat started to drip from me and as minutes passed the heat grew and grew until it felt like I was sitting in a very uncomfortable sauna.  This was going to be a slow death, being cooked alive inside an escape pod.  I knew when I join the military that I would probably die in space.  It was either the military or jail time on an off planet detention center. I picked the military and now I was wishing I had taken up hard time instead.

               It didn’t take long until I found it hard to breath.  I hoped that the shutting down of life support system would end up knocking me out so I don’t find out what it’s like being a hard boiled egg.  My vision started to black out.  A few seconds would pass where I felt like I would pass out and lost all vision and then it would come sliding back in a kaleidoscope of color.  This happen a few times until I took my last breath, saw the star for the last time and blacked out.

               I woke to a white room  “I’m dead right?”  I heard laughter.

               “You are not dead.”

               I turned my head to the side.  “Where am I?”

               “You got lucky son, we warped late, battle was over.  We ran a sector scan looking for survivors and found you.  Seconds away from burning up in the star.”

               “Thank you.”  I said.

               “Sure, but you need to rest, you did suffer some trauma.  The your left arm was pressed against the side of the pod and it was suffered 3rd degree burns.  We had to amputate it.”

               I took a deep breath. 

               “But you have been supplied with a state of the self healing self repairing Nano-limb.  This beauty will still be repairing it’s self even when you are in the grave.”

               “Wow, that makes me feel so much better.   Where are we?”

               “We are in the Holvic System and safe from the Mongers.”

               I laid back with a sigh of relief, looking to my left hand that looked like a streamlined machine of gleaming metal, but damn did it look sexy.  “What now?”

               “We report back, you rest, then we fight back.”

The End

Unexpected Entry

Throughout the years that I have been writing.  I have always enjoyed doing prompt writing.  No time to write outlines or think of a plot or characters, you just get a word or a phrase and off you go.  All the stories I share on my blog are stories that have been inspired by a prompt.  I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.


Unexpected Entry – By F.C. Janes

I stood crouched on the wall, looking down into the restricted area.  This place was for Kings, Queens, Lords, and Ladies.  A man like me would be killed on site if I was caught here.  Knights Templars walked in pairs, there were two right below me talking about a holy treasure and the meeting that was to take place between the Pope and Cardinals.

I had grown up listening to stories about powerful weapons that were infused with the power of God.  My religious nut of a father like putting the fear of god in his two children.  That usually meant beatings me and my poor sister being molested by our father.  I survived, she didn’t.

All the stories my asshole of a father told ended with a great man wielding one of these artifacts and having the power of God in his hands.  I preferred the power of money.  The tavern owner who I used to fence my goods told me that he had a buyer for this so call treasure.  He promised me that if I could get my hands on it he could pay me a sum that would allow me to take a nice long vacation.  How could I say no to that?

I let the guards below me pass and when it was safe enough I leapt down from the wall, landing as quietly as I could.  Keeping to the shadows, my black cloak keeping me hidden I trailed the guards until I found my opening to break free from the depths of the shadows.  I had entered the yard from the West.  It was a stupid move.  The building had been made by Freemasons and I should have known that the entry way would be on the East side of the building.  Patiently I followed the guards around until I saw the entrance, which held another surprise.  Two templars stood outside it.  I was not going to get in that way.  I kept following the guards until we turned down the North side.

Spotting where I would make my climb I left the comfort of the shadows and sprinted across the finely cut lawns.  Sliding on my climbing tools that would assist with getting a grip on stone I leapt up and grabbed a hold of the stone windowsill.  The metal claws I slipped on bit in to the stone and allowed me to pull myself up.  At the top of the windowsill there was a ledge about two inches out form the wall just large enough for my foot to take hold and offer some support as I reached for the next window.

It was difficult but I managed to climb window to window only scratching the stone work slightly.  The building was so beautiful I thought I should apologize to someone for leaving scratches on what was probably hours upon hours of work.  Maybe after I stole this treasure I’d show up unannounced at one of the Freemasons secret meetings and see what treasures they had.

Pulling myself up over the lip of the roof I put my climbing tools away.  At the far corner there was a hatch and I walked towards it.  That is when I started falling, the roof of the building had fallen out from under me.  I was now a slave to the fall.

I should have been more careful.  The fucking Templars and their traps.  They were notorious for elaborate traps and flood tunnels protecting their treasures.  I only had myself to blame for being this careless.

I landed hard on my ass, I wasn’t sure how many flights I had fallen but I was okay and nothing was broken.  After doing the body check that consisted of wiggling my toes, grabbing my dick as it is the most important part and I wanted to make sure it was still there, and checking the rest of me I realized the room I was in was lit up and around me sat four Templar Knights.  I bet you anything that this entry was very unexpected and it appeared I had interrupted dinner.  I jumped to my feet brushed myself off and waved.  “Hi ah, anyone know where the exit is?  I seem to be lost.”  They had meat laid out on the table with bread, butter, and wine.  Damn it looked good.  “Can I get something to go?”

There was an awkward silence before shit hit the fan.  Chairs went flying as they stood up and they reached for their swords.  That was my que to leave.  Daggers were thrown at me and imbedded in the wooden wall not far form my face.  I looked over my shoulder at the man who had thrown it, smiled, pulled the dagger out of the wall and threw it back.  That is when I noticed the door behind them and it was the only door in the room that I could see, I had to get behind them.

With my small sword in hand I did my best not to hit or injure any of them, using my sword to block and my fist to push and punch I slowly made my way around the room.  The last thing I needed was the murder of a Knights Templar on my hands.  If that happened I’d have to find a way to become a woman and even then I may not be safe.  “We can settle this all friendly like and I can just walk out the door, no need for violence.”  No one seemed to be taking me up on that offer.

I continued to move in a circle and did my best to  kick chairs over, flip tables over, and break everything that I could to try to slow them down.  I did manage to make my way to the door, two daggers embedded into it at head level.  I stopped waved and opened the door to find myself standing face to face with a Templar Knight.  “Kiss me?”  That confused him long enough that I was able to use my shoulder as a battering ram and slammed in to the Templar.  The force I hit him with knocked him down, tripping over the knight behind him which triggered a dominoes effect.  One by one they all fell over.  Dodging blades and leaping over bodies I managed to find the staircase.  I looked down then looked up.  Footsteps echoed from below me, which left me with one choice.  So up I went.

Moving my eyes side to side to make sure I was alone I pushed the hatch open and pulled myself out.  A hand reached out and grabbed my ankle.  Grabbing the top of the hatch I slammed it down on to the templars head, his hand let go and all I heard was the sound of a man tumbling down the latter and bumping in to all his friends.

Standing on the hatch for the time being seemed to be the safest place as I wasn’t sure where I had fallen through the roof and it was bloody dark out.  I decided the only safe bet was to walk on the lip of the stone wall and stay off the roof.  I stepped off the hatch which burst open and Templars started to crawl out.  I dropped down to the stone ledge that surrounded the windows but without my climbing tools it made for a quick descent.  I did my best to look graceful but it was more like a four story tumble than anything elegant.

My feet hit the lawn followed by my ass, I then hit the road and ran to the wall.  Sometimes I wish thieving involved open doors and running down hill.  I looked quickly over my shoulder at the templars chasing me, they were yelling for me to stop, to give up, to halt.  All I heard was faster, run faster, must ran faster!  Reaching the wall I climbed it so quickly I almost tricked myself in to thinking I jumped over it.  Once down the other side I quickly disappeared in to the shadows of the town and left the prize to his hidden location and the templars scratching their heads and their balls.

Later that night I sat in the Rusty Rooster and sipped on a pint of ale that was nearing its expiration.  I had a mouthful of salted pork when the door opened and two Templars walked in.  I spit my food out nearly choking.  One of them looked at me with a suspicious look on his face.

“We found one of these.”

Templar handed the tavern owner one of my climbing claws, when did I lose that I wondered.

“A thief’s tool, we know this is a fence for stolen goods, just tell us who this belongs to and we wont burn your tavern to the ground.”

Standing up I promptly left through the back door and decided to head home where there would be no traps and no Templar, thinking to myself that maybe I need that vacation.

The End