Bombs Away

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“Oh no,” Miriam repeated the mantra as she threw open a window and started waving at the smoke in the air with a kitchen towel. The fire alarm was screaming at her and she prayed that her neighbors would have pity on her and not call the fire department. That would just be the cherry on the top of her day.

Clinging to hope that the open window would help get rid of the smoke, she pulled the burnt lump from the oven. The towel hadn’t been enough to keep the heat from her skin and she cursed as she tossed it onto the top of the stove.

“Just fucking great,” she hissed once she’d shoved her hand under the faucet. The pain wouldn’t last for long but it was just another thing that had wrong. She’d gotten the day off to spend with her boyfriend. It was their first Thanksgiving and she’d wanted to make it special.

But one thing after another had her running around like a chicken with her head cut off. It had been hard enough to get Odi out of the house and now she had turned the most important part of dinner into a blackened chunk that she wouldn’t even feed to the dogs.

It was her fault. She shouldn’t have left the apartment. Not while the turkey was cooking. But she couldn’t say no to the young faces that had come to ask for help with groceries. Her neighbor above her was an elderly woman who took care of three young grandchildren. Miriam helped out on her days off since the old woman had so much on her plate.

After getting called out to the bar to deal with a mistake from the night before and having to run out for ingredients that she’d forgotten, she should have known better. But she’d gotten lucky with all the other dishes. Had gotten back just in time to have them perfect. The crust on the pie wasn’t even burned.

Miriam nearly jumped out of her skin when a hand took her elbow to take her hand from the stream of cool water. Her ears were still ringing even though the alarm had gone off moments ago and she’d missed the opening and closing of the front door.

“What did you do? Grab the pan with your bare hand?” Odi tsked, his fingers pressing close to the angry red skin but not quite on it. There weren’t blisters, thankfully, but it was still painful.

“I had a towel,” she murmured, trying not to look at the failure on the stove. The whole kitchen smelled like smoke but thankfully the haze was gone. Fighting back frustrated tears, she forced herself to focus on Odi and his inspection. Though his fussing wasn’t surprising, his presence was. “I thought you weren’t going to be home for a couple more hours?”

“I was hoping to surprise you,” Odi looked up with a crooked smile. He only let her hand go long enough to pull out their first aid kit from under the sink and get back to work. There weren’t many kitchen accidents but she liked to be prepared. “I think we had the same idea.”

Miriam let out a bitter laugh as his gaze lifted from bandaging her hand up towards the stove. She could only imagine how nice of a surprise that was. “I wanted to make us a nice dinner,” she sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose in an effort to keep the tears at bay. Their first holiday together and she’s ruined dinner and turned him into a doctor. “But you can see how well that went.”

“Well, I’m not sure we can eat bricks,” Odi was joking, she knew that, but she still sunk lower into a chair and whimpered. Calling the bird a brick was probably the nicest way to describe it. “But there is plenty to eat still. Was that pie I saw on the table?”

“I got the sides and pie done first,” Miriam opened her eyes when he finished, flexing her hand experimentally. Odi wasn’t a doctor but he wasn’t half bad at getting the burn taken care of. “But it really isn’t Thanksgiving without the turkey.”

“Well, what about ham?”

“Ham?” Miriam stopped studying her hand to watch him. Not only had she missed him coming in, but she hadn’t seen the bags he’d set on the counter either. Out of one came a large plastic container with a fully baked honey ham. “How did you get a ham while you were at the bar?”

They worked at the same place so she knew full well that there wouldn’t be a ham there for him to bring home. If there had been ham at all it would have been sold out long before the dinner rush.

“Mister Roy brought it in. Apparently, his missus thought that since I was working today, we weren’t going to eat a good dinner.” Odi grabbed the serving plate that she’d pulled out for the turkey and started carving the ham. “So I’ve got a ham, some veggies, and potatoes. I think there might be some sweet potato pie in there too.”

Miriam was still processing that they basically now had two full dinners when Odi poked at her burnt monstrosity. Before she could do more than groan and tell him that it wasn’t coming back to life, he’d tossed it out the open window with an excited ‘bombs away’.

“You did not ju-“

“Mims, I think it bounced. Like actually bounced,” Odi whistled, sticking his head out the window to watch it. “I expected it to shatter.” A part of her wanted to feel offended by that but instead, Miriam broke down into a fit of hysterical laughter. The tears of frustration from early turned into ones of amusement as she leaned against the counter. Odi had an uncanny ability to turn her worst days into something good and today, she was truly thankful for it.

“Get in here,” she reached over to tug on his shirt to get him away from the window. “Going to really ruin the day if someone calls the cops on you for throwing that out the window.”

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Entry 1: Veil?

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The veil. What is it?

That question has haunted me since I lost my entire family in a car accident. It was written off as bad luck. Another freak accident on another highway. Five less people in the world, right? I wish I was able to stomach the same lies as the rest of the people I brush shoulders with every morning.

To their credit, they don’t know they’re being spoon fed lies. Sometimes people need to be given things in a way that is easier to digest. They can hardly manage the trivial woes of this disgusting world – murder, rape, terrorism – so how could they manage the truth?

I work for an organization that makes that truth no more than a forgotten afterthought with a few choice words. We call it persuasive therapy but it’s really just reprogramming someone’s memories. Taking away the bits and pieces that don’t fit in with the prescribed world order.

This ‘therapy’ is dangerous and I don’t even understand it all. My whole job is accessing situations and deciding if a person is truly in danger of coming too close to the truth. I am tempted so often to let people walk away with their knowledge intact. Would it really be so dangerous if a little bit of the truth got out? How many people would actually believe it?

Then I remember the veil.

Even though I don’t know what it is, the thought of it causes many sleepless nights. Something about the veil scares me nearly as much as it makes me curious. Why would something that I don’t understand scare me the way it does? Why do I cringe whenever it comes up? It’s like an itch that I can’t scratch. A bit of information that I should know but it gets lost in the depths of my thoughts every time that I think too hard on it.

Not for the first time, I have wondered if I was one of the subjects of our persuasive therapy after the accident. I don’t understand the Veil but there is much that I do. There are beings in the world that shouldn’t be made public. Forms of power that would make the world nuclear race look like a party favor. Is my fear of such things why I was hired and brought into this program?

I don’t have much contact with any of our subjects after they’ve gone through their therapy. The only reason that I know anyone in other departments is because I have to decide which of our doctors gets a subject. Who can best work with each one, which only makes me wonder which one might have dealt with a traumatized teenager who lost her family in an accident and peered too far into a world that she shouldn’t have.

Who would have been the one to erase parts of my memory? To leave me with enough emotional memory to fear, to know that it is too dangerous to let any of the people that I investigate keep them memories, but not enough to really know why that I’m doing this? To know that the accident that killed my family wasn’t really an accident but not knowing what the full truth is?

All these questions are why I’m writing this now. It might be juvenile to keep a journal like this but I find that it’s helpful. I can put all of this on paper in a way that I can’t talk to the people closest to me. There is a clarity here that I have needed. Clarity enough to know that it can’t go on.

I can’t keep letting these questions plague me. I can’t keep wondering about this. My job is investigating others, figuring out how much they know and if it is a danger to the world as we know it. I should be able to figure this out.

Because of who I work with, I have to be careful. It won’t be easy but I need answers.

I need to know what this veil is.

I need to know more than what I have been allowed.

I need to know how much of what I know is true and how many people I have sent to our doctors because of thoughts that weren’t my own.

And I need to know if what I fear is deserving of that fear or if I should fear what I have become comfortable with my whole life.

76. Damaged Goods

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Photo credit: eberhard grossgasteiger via pexels.com


Judith leaned back into the shadows of the dank office. The windows, though open, were pointless under the cold indifference of the moonless night. The temporary setup was located well off the main road, tucked away among the trees and distant hills. Safe, or so the ring of traffickers thought, especially their benefactor, James Griffith.

Griffith was a rising star in the legal field. Top 30 under 30. Humanitarian, social activist, a champion of the people. He was the one you wanted on your side if you were ever wronged.

If the people only knew what their angel of justice really presided over, she thought, her gaze hardening with each passing second that she watching him work unaware that someone like her infiltrated his secret side business.

Judith rose from her chair with the grace of a snake sizing up its prey. Her slender fingers casually curled around the back of the chair as she began walking towards the man that tormented her even in her dreams.

Griffith looked up at the sound of wood scraping over wood. “Who’s there?”

The increased pounding in her chest echoed in her ears but she pressed on. This was his punishment, her retribution. He deserved it.

“Rule one, a slave knows their place.” She ticked off the first rule and nearly preened when the man who used to whip her paled. He almost looked sick under the dull yellow tinted light of the cheap desk lamp he was working under. Nothing too pricey. Pricey was what got people caught, she remembered him saying it once when he thought she was too weak from a thorough beating to be conscious.

“Rule two, a slave does not talk less they lose their tongue. Rule three, a slave lives to serve. Rule four…” Judith stalked closer as she continued down the degrading list of commandments Griffith and his cult brainwashed her and countless others with.

“You. How are you alive? We-“

“Threw me into hell and didn’t look back. I know. Rule seven-“

“No! No.” Griffith moved a shaky hand over his slicked back hair as if pushing away his visible nerves. “You’re supposed to be dead.”

Judith cocked her head to one side and laughed. It wasn’t the kind of laughter that filled a room. No, this was cold and disheartening whisper of a laugh that chilled the blood in Griffith’s veins. “Do you think death was the end for someone like me? I’ve been dead since you sold my body for the first time all those Christmases ago. This, this is my birth.”

Griffith hurried to the other side of his desk to escape her advances but she hurled the chair his way. He wasn’t as ready for it as he tried to be. In his efforts to dodge it, his foot clipped the edge of the desk and he went tumbling into the wall. Seeing his doom advancing, Griffith stumbled and tripped over himself to get to the door.

Not caring to necessarily stop him, Judith kicked the chair out of her way and prowled closer. There was no escape. She changed the door handle so it locked from the inside and she was the one with the key.

“Don’t draw this out, Griffith. We both know it’s better to submit.”

“I’m not going to be gunned down by a no-name whore.” He rattled the knob in aggravation. “You think you’ll get away with this? I’m going to be missed.”

“Good.” She purred.

“What?”

“I want everyone to miss you. I want them to mourn you. The more they do, the better I’ll sleep at night knowing I saved every last one of them from a bastard like you.” Raising the gun, she smiled. “Enjoy Hell.”

His mouth hung open long after the shot rang out and she put the gun back in the desk drawer. It would take a week before the body of James Griffith was found in his apartment. Murder, the papers read. Judith chuckled under her breath as she read the article. According to the sheep, it was a hit by a group he sent to prison a month ago. Idiots. His cult was smarter without him around. They had the sense to not only move his body back to his respectable home but to also stage the whole thing as a murder pinned on people that were set to die anyway.

“Guess I’ll be working right into summer.” She tucked the paper and her coat under her arm and looked up at the cloudless sky. It was unseasonably warm that spring, and for the first time, she could feel it.

© Maura D., marsreine.wordpress.com, 2018
Prompt Source: tehuti‘s 100 Writing Prompts

It only hurts when I move my shoulder.

Next post coming soon…

75. Sober Remorse

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Photo credit:
MaLeK DriDi via Pexels.com

A ragged sigh made it past Samantha’s alcohol seeped lips. It echoed in the stillness of the room, saturated in the haunting moonlight that flooded in through the window lined wall. Rolling her head to one side to escape it, Samantha grimaced. Pity parties went best when the alcohol was limitless and the darkness was the only friend you could rely on. The moon, as beautiful as everyone wanted to make it seem, was nothing more than an unwanted guest.

Samantha stretched out her legs and took a swig from the bottle trapped in her hand. Was it her fourth? Third? She couldn’t be sure, and with the way she worked her way through the apartment while drinking the others, the evidence was nowhere in her immediate sight. Oh well, she thought, licking her lips to savor every last drop of the smooth liquid that burned its way down her throat.

When she saw her ex, she had weeks of a few choice things planned. She’d start with his tactless kindergarten version of a break-up, eventually get into his cowardice when it came to his family and friends, then top it off with how she gave his things to the homeless shelter, including the very expensive and very special stereo he saved up to buy. Yeah. That would have showed up. The problem was, none of the practiced lines that would have roasted him for all eternity came out.

Just remembering how the conversation went made her lift her head from the wall and softly bang it back against it with a low thud. How could she have been so stupid? He was going out of town. Everything she prepared was ready but then he said the word funeral and something in her wanted to comfort him more than she wanted to strip him bare of any and all happiness. So, without realizing it, she agreed to look after his place and watch their cat, Ms. Sassafras. As if to mock her, the reason she was sitting on the floor with her back against the wall, wallowing in the dark on a Friday night with nothing but pathetic break-up songs, alcohol, and a bow broken phone came out of her bedroom.

She never liked animals. Her ex knew that. He got them a cat anyway and, after months of glaring at the thing, Samantha grew fond of it. She even looked forward to seeing it sprawled out by the window. As she watched it rub against her foot, she wondered if it was the cat or the last tendrils of hope that made her agree to watching it. She didn’t hesitate to say yes when her ex asked her to watch what he now called “his” cat.

Maybe, she thought, setting the bottle aside to pick up the cat and cradle it against her chest, it was the soulless claim that made her say yes. It wasn’t like the cat liked him anyway. And she couldn’t rightfully blame the cat. It wasn’t her fault Samantha lost her nerve.

“I think it’s time we took a little vacation too. And maybe we won’t come back.” Nodding to herself, she drew in her legs to get up. Her butt barely made it off the floor before her strength gave out. “Tomorrow though, Ms. Sassafras. I’ll catnap you tomorrow.”

© Maura D., marsreine.wordpress.com, 2018
Prompt Source: tehuti‘s 100 Writing Prompts

It was unseasonably warm that spring.

Next post coming soon…

74. The Lost Genesis

Photo credit: Oleg Magni via Pexels.com

 


The hushed voices weren’t enough to soften the sting of his public blunder. And, despite being busy with his search, the whispering wasn’t easy to ignore either. He had one job – catalog the dead – and in the eight hundred years since he was appointed, he had never made such an error. A first-time mistake normally would have been explained away, maybe even forgiven, but one didn’t simply lose a detailed volume of death without punishment.

Fahriel slid his long, slender fingers between the third and fifth volume, willing the missing tome to return to its spot. The cold marble mocked him more than the idle gossip. He did this. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t physically him who carried it away. Nor did it matter that he would never knowingly jeopardize everything he stood for. The only thing his brothers and sisters were concerned with was his incompetence.

As he pulled his fingers back, a repressed sigh at his lips, he wondered what more he could do? All the volumes were accounted for. All were in their rightful place – he had checked – all except the one.

I shall check again.

As he walked along, looking over the delicate gold lettering of each spine, he worked through what he knew. There were few with access to the tomes, fewer still that had access to these particular volumes. Of those that did, none of them would have mishandled it in such a way.

In all the time that he had been cataloging, no one had ever stolen a tome. They were too important, too precious, to risk it. And although he agreed with the others, that it was his ineptitude that lost it, there was a sinking feeling that kept one inevitable possibility at the forefront of his mind – no one had ever stolen a tome, yes, but perhaps it wasn’t necessary to do so till now. But then what, he wondered. What could anyone want with deaths that predated the savior and the first great cleansing of the world?

The only deaths that mattered in any form after everything was considered and stripped away would be the mortal death of sin.

Fahriel stopped in his tracks, his fingers gripping the key that hung low against his chest. The sins were mere mortals in the beginning. As innocent and pure as any child. But as those children grew, so did the seeds of evil that ultimately consumed them. The secrets of those earlier trials were in another section of the vast library that was also under strict security. Very few knew what it took to rid the earth of those creatures. He was one of the few privy to such information and for once he wished he wasn’t.

Turning on his heel, he rushed to find the prophets. If he was right, the missing volume was part of a bigger prophecy he had hoped would never come to pass, one involving a child yet to born and already tasked with the duty of sealing the sins away yet again.

 


A special thanks to the amazing M.J. for helping me push through my block on this one. Without you, this would still be sitting in a Word document unfinished and willingly forgotten. You’re the ink to my quill. 


 

© Maura D., marsreine.wordpress.com, 2018
Prompt Source: tehuti‘s 100 Writing Prompts