100 Words A Day by Hydrargentium

Well, at least 100 words — best served random….

Category: 100 Words

“Take whatever you want. Just leave me the bird.”

Triple stood by the window, pulling the curtain back just enough to watch the street. Across the room, Triple had his back to the wall, beside the door, his gun trained on the old lady. Over by the far wall, Triple had slid the small mirror to one side, and was punching the code into the keypad of the small safe he found behind it.

After the green light came on on the safe’s access panel, he turned the handle, and pulled open the steel door. As he did so, the words she’d said had finally sunk in, and he turned to look around the room.

Bookshelves, a comfy chair with a lamp on the side table, a small hutch with a tea set, various knick-knacks, a coat tree and an umbrella stand — it was all the stuff you’d expect to see in some old lady’s reading room. What he didn’t see was a bird.

Relaxing his mind, he let impressions from his other two selves flow in. They were both focused, one keeping watch outside, the other watching the old lady and listening by the door, but neither remembered anything about a bird, either in the room or on the way in.

He was about to ask, and then decided it didn’t matter. He was only there for one thing anyway.

Turning back to the safe, his penlight illuminated its contents. There was the folder he was after. Sitting on top of it, like a pointless paperweight, was a small bronze statue of a songbird. He was pretty sure the eyes were real emeralds.

“Remember, son, don’t ever laugh at dragons.”

Little Arvid hadn’t really understood what his Papa was talking about, but he liked the idea of dragons, and he loved his Papa, so he nodded vigorously, red mop bobbing.

Standing on the top of the bridge tower, watching the great red Wyrm stride four-legged along the bridge deck, casually crushing abandoned cars under its massive clawed feet, Arvid recalled his father’s words. The wisdom in those words was suddenly very clear.

Dragons were incredibly proud beasts. They looked like the kings of all monsters, they roared like rulers of the sky, and they walked like they owned whatever was underfoot. Pride was in the core of their make-up. Pride was the chassis on which a dragon was built.

Of course, Arvid also realized that he would need to be far more foolhardy to even think that dragons were something you could laugh at. Even from up here, that blood red lizard was scary as fuck.

Arvid Troelsen dropped his bag on the bench. Its old hide smote wood that had seen its fair share of backsides. His leathers creaked as he settled down beside it, arms crossed, ankles crossed, legs stretched out before him. He closed his eyes, and rested his chin on his chest. His reddish stubble rasped against his jacket.

A few seconds later, pale blue eyes blinked open again, to stare directly at the only other occupant of the terminal. A young man, patchy stubble, hair bordering on shaggy, sat upright across the aisle. When their eyes met, the young man licked his lips nervously. His palms pressed against torn jeans that had dirt rubbed into the dirt.

The young man looked away.

“Don’t even think about touching my shit,” Arvid rumbled. “You touch my shit, I’ll fuck you up so bad, nine months from now, you’ll be givin’ birth to a bastard demon of pain.”

“And I’m itchin’ to fuck somebody up.”

Mu couldn’t decide whether it was the strange sizzling noise from the energy beams that bothered her more, or the mewling.

The area around the bulbous En-Car Technologies building had been cleared, but the kittens still took pot-shots at trees and lamp posts and the wrecks of cars in the parking lot as they patrolled the perimeter. They scampered about, talking to each other — or seeming to, anyway — with the typical gurgles and chirps and high-pitched meows of kittens at play.

She was glad, though, that none of them thought to look up. She floated above them, providing reconnaissance for the rest of the team. A direct view feed from her helmet showed them everything she could see, with parabolic audio doing a very good job of picking up focused audio from wherever she pointed her face.

She was considering turning off her tap on that feed, just so she wouldn’t have to listen to the kittens with their close-phase plasma emitters — “Kittens With Lasers” was what she was sure the headlines were going to be.

The heavy wooden doors exploded into the room, shattered by the blast of cold. The splinters tinkled as they scattered across the marble floor.

OverChill spread his arms, embracing the room as he entered.

“LAAAA-DIEES AND GENTLEMENNNNN! ALLOW ME TO INTROD-”

BANG!

To his right, one of the gunmen had chosen to shoot first and ask questions later, interrupting OverChill’s grand entrance. The gunshot rang loudly from the panelled walls, and more than a few of the hostages screamed at the sound. Barely audible, in comparison, was the thud of the bullet embedding itself in the heavy shield of ice that had sprung up to protect him.

Casually, OverChill snapped his fingers. The gunman gave out a yelp, as both gun and hand were suddenly encased in a lump of ice. The other three tuxedo-clad hostage-takers raised their weapons in response. All three barrels were pointed at OverChill, although none of the wielders seemed quite ready to try their own shot.

OverChill mentally wiped his brow, thankful the bullet hadn’t ricocheted. He cocked his head to one side.

“Ah, yes. I guess you three could be a problem too.”

Before any of them could react to his words, they found their hands similarly encased. When one of them tried to turn and run, he fell over, his feet frozen to the floor.

Women in fine gowns, hair piled in expensive up-dos, stared at their unexpected rescuer. Men in tuxedos, clearly comfortable in bow tie and cummerbund, looked glanced at each other, and at OverChill, unsure how to react.

OverChill cleared his throat.

“Let’s just go from where we left off, huh?”

He spread his arms wide again.

“INTRODUCING, YOUR SAVIOUR AND BENEFACTOR, THE ONE AND ONLY… OVERCHILL!!!”

As he waited in the dark, Kai became aware of a presence behind him. A glance over his shoulder showed nothing but a large rock, glinting grey in the moonlight. He turned his eyes back to the coffee shop down on the street below.

In his mind, he suddenly felt like he’d been slapped, like the jolt that happened sometimes when he fell asleep after a long day. A boulder? Up here on the roof? He turned fully around, the coffee shop forgotten.

It sat there, squat and solid, mostly round, about as high as his shoulder. Kai let a little light out from his eyes, and the yellow glow illuminated a smooth surface with tiny flecks of crystal. Reaching out, he tapped the stone with a finger.

As soon as he touched it, the rock began to move. As quickly as someone might stand up, the surface of the stone unfolded, and before before him stood the shape of a man. A huge man, with grey, petrified skin, but a man nonetheless.

Kai opened his mouth, closed it, and then opened it again, struggling to make words come out of his mouth.

“W… what?”

With a quick gesture, like a magician, the stone man held out a card, wedged between two fingers. Kai took it, turning it over in his hands.

It was a simple business card, black on both sides, with a clean white font. On one side was a symbol, like two capital Qs interlinked. On the other was two words, which Kai immediately assumed was the man’s name: Silent Boulder.

“…which is how the polymerase actually inhibits the process in this case.”

Nevaeh stared at her tablet, the screen nearly blank from a lack of notes. Blinking, she realized she had no idea what Professor Ranjay had been saying after the first few words of this example. Looking around, she noticed more than a few glazed expressions in the room.

Sighing, she tapped her stylus against her screen, making random black dots on the expanse of white. It wasn’t that she wasn’t interested in organic chemistry, but Professor Ranjay just droned on and on, like an automaton in place of the real thing.

Her daydream of a mechanical professor, arms and legs moving stiffly, elbow patches on his sweater covering clunky cylindrical joints, was interrupted by a message that popped up on her tablet.

HOW SOON CAN YOU BE AT THE TOWER

Covering the screen with her hand, she looked around, trying to see if anyone else noticed the message, and trying not to be noticed that that was what she was doing.

ABOUT 5 MINUTES, she typed in. IMPORTANT?

The response came back almost immediately.

VERY

Putting her hand to her forehead, she moaned slightly, feigning a headache. As she did so, she scanned her classmates. No one seemed to be paying much attention to her — or to the professor either.

Someone needs to figure out how to harness that for crowd control, she mused, as she gathered up her things and headed for the door, her eyes scrunched up in a pretence of photophobia.

The steel fist came out of the sky, bigger than a watermelon. Mountain Man felt the chaos it made in the air above him, looked up to see it coming straight for him. He turned to move out of the way, but it still struck him in the shoulder and sent him sprawling to the road.

The asphalt beneath didn’t yield to him like more natural stone would, and the impact forced the air out of his lungs with a whoosh like a gust of wind through pines. He felt none of his bones break, though. Even in this hard, man-made city, there was still enough of the natural world in it to give a little bit.

Another disturbance above him made him roll out of the way, and a second fist drove into the asphalt, sounding like a cannonball. Scrambling to his feet, he saw the cable attached to it at the wrist, like a dark grey polymer vein, leading back up into the night. A moment later, the line snapped up its slack, and the fist was drawn into the air. Mountain Man swung wildly, and caught the line in his meaty, earthy hand. Next thing he knew, he was flying, dragged into the sky along with it.

The flames hit his field, and splashed like water in every direction.

Beside him, Lamplighter winced. “I am seriously appreciative of your power. I spend half my time just finding things to hide behind.”

Interrupt shrugged. “Stuff like this, I can do all day. Energy is easy to block.”

Crouching low, he squinted past the glare to look at the robot. It was slowly rolling forward, closing the distance between them while keeping up the heat.

“It’s coming closer. Something that heavy, I won’t be able to hold back for long.” A thought struck him. “And it’s probably called in reinforcements.”

He closed his eyes to concentrate. Sending a portion of his field out in waves around him, he could feel his surroundings: the solid walls of the corridor, the empty space of the conduit that ran through the ceiling, the heavy bulk of the robot, its tank-like treads making the floor vibrate slightly. The strength of his field weakened as it swept further down the hall, but he made out two doors on the right side, nearly at the edge of his range. For a moment, he thought he might have caught a hint of voices behind the second door.

Shots rang out, a rapid stuttering that pierced the dull roar of the flamethrower. Bullets zinged as they hit his field, deflecting into the ceiling and the walls. Interrupt noted the two plinks of a couple of remarkably intact slugs dropping to the floor on their side of his field.

Lamplighter shouted over the noise. “They can pierce your field?”

Grimacing, Interrupt focused on the area of his field where the bullets where concentrated.

“I can’t hold it off forever. If you have any tricks up your sleeve, now would be a good time.”

“What’s your name, little one?”

Mason stood for a moment, looking at the little dog, letting it get used to his presence. It didn’t seem like it was going to try to bolt, but its grey-black fur quivered with nervousness.

Crouching down in the tight space. His knees pressed against the walls on either side of him. He held a hand out, knuckles first. The dog shied away, pressing itself into the corner. No growling, but it kept its gaze on his hand, alert black eyes darting furtively up to look at him when it felt brave.

“Hmmmmm, it’s okay,” Mason muttered in low, soothing tones.

He pulled his hand back and tapped it on his calf.

“C’mere, puppy. C’mon over.”

The dog cocked its head, one floppy ear lifting up.

“Come on.” He tapped again.

The dog leaned forward, back no longer pressed into the safety of the corner.

“It’s okay. I’m one of the good guys.” Mason smiled a little stupidly as he spoke. He knew he was, one of the good guys, that is, but he still felt a little dorky saying it like that.

The dog took a couple of tentative steps toward him. Its fur still quivered, and its head hung low as it came forward, but something about its tail seemed to tell Mason that it was a little more relaxed. Mason let his hand hang loose between his knees as the dog approached.

A sniff, a step back, forward, some more sniffs — the back of his hand, under his thumb, and his wrist were all points of interest. Finally, Mason felt the dog was comfortable enough, and he carefully raised one finger to scratch behind a floppy ear.

The dog leaned into it, and he scratched more. Just as carefully, he brought his other hand down and began to scratch the back of its neck. His fingers found a collar under the matted fur, and as he moved it, he heard a jingle. Still scratching with one hand, he found the tag hanging down below, and tilted it into view. The metal was scratched and dirty, but he could read the letters etched into it.

“Well, hi there, Zuzi,” he said, smiling broadly. “I’m Mason.”

Zuzi made a low groan of pleasure as he found a good spot under one ear.

“Nice to meet you.”