Invaders From Another Space and Time

Genre stretch story for the month… Alien Invasion!  It was fun getting this to fit with the rest of the story.  Actually, the story is now complete.  I might end up using the rest of the genre stretch challenges to fill in the story a bit… or I might use them to start something entirely new.

**

He could hardly believe his luck.  Things were going so much better than he could have ever anticipated.  Not only did the chief of the peacekeepers believe that Pemberton was responsible for the murders, the werewolf was being implicated.  By the time he was through, both of them would be off the force.  Without work to keep him there, the werewolf would return to where he’d come from.  Perhaps the other interloper would leave as well.  Alternatively, he might be arrested and his powers bound.

Yes, all in all, things were going well.  He settled back to plan his next move, even as he awaited news that the two fugitives had been apprehended.  A loud crash sounded through the warehouse and he moved to his feet.  A part of him was screaming at him to leave.  However, he couldn’t help but wonder: just what could that possibly be?

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Nothing is Certain

The same group as before… obviously, they are trying to stop a killer.  I really wish they’d tell me who they are.  This was inspired by a word prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth: Except death and taxes.

**

His brows furrowed in concern as he looked at the pale, slender legs that rested on the dirt and leaves under the structure.  It was too rough to be called a shelter.  It certainly didn’t provide any protection for its sole occupant.

“She’s dead,” his companion said, his voice strained, “Isn’t she?”

Grimacing, he stepped around the smaller man and crouched to peer into the structure at the woman.  Nodding, he said, “Yup, dead as nails.”

The woman with them heaved a sigh.  “We’ll catch him one day, right?” she said, turning to him for reassurance.

He grimaced, wishing that he could so easily give her what she wanted – what they all needed.  “We’ll try,” he said, shrugging.  The only thing that he could say for certain was that, if they failed, he would kill again.

By a Moonlit Sea

This little story is set in the same universe as before.  This is the healer and the woman.  She’s obviously from earth.  I know her companions aren’t.  This was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

51-607e676289They sat together on the shore staring up at the moon.  It was a quiet, peaceful night, which was a rare pleasure.  The moon seemed unreal, hidden as it was behind the clouds.  There weren’t even any stars in the sky, just the impossibly large moon.

Her brows furrowed as she noticed that she could see seas and landmasses on the surface of the moon.  Were they like the ones on the moon back home?  Somehow, these seem more… real.  Glancing at her companion, she said, “It’s a moon, right?”

“Well,” he said, frowning, “in a way, both it and us are moons.  We orbit around a common point – an anomaly.”

“It’s beautiful,” she murmured, resting her head on his shoulder.  He made a soft sound of agreement and wrapped an arm around her shoulder.  She smiled faintly as she set her hand on his chest.

The Truth

This story is set in the same universe as the previous one.  (These characters still haven’t told me their names).  The word prompt came from the WriYe DreamWidth: Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.

**

He could feel them watching him, even though he couldn’t see them.  A shudder shook him and he bit his lip.  He wanted to pretend that it was the cold that made him shiver.  Dressed as he was, the lie would be an easy one to believe.  However, it was a lie and the watchers would know that.

He strained at the bindings on his wrists and squinted to the darkness.  “You’ve got me,” he said, his voice strained.  He let his eyes closed and rested his head on his arms.  In a soft voice, he spoke the truth.  “I’m scared,” he said.

It was as if a switch had been thrown.  The room brightened and he could hear voices – familiar voices.  They were calling to him.  His friends were searching for him.  Shivering again, half-expecting someone to try to silence him, he called, “I’m in here!”

A familiar face appeared in the doorway on the far side of the room.  She smiled faintly.  “We didn’t think we’d find you,” she said, rushing to his side.  She cut the bindings on his wrists and then wrapped a cloak around his shoulders.

He let himself relax against her as they checked him over.  “I’m not hurt,” he said, his voice soft.  “I was just… badly shaken.”

“Not like you to admit to something like that,” the healer said, frowning.

A wry chuckle shook him and he sighed.  “Sometimes… the truth is all you’ve got.”

The Earth From….

I don’t know who these characters are.  They won’t tell me. ^_^  Anyway, this scene was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

50-ae4ea605ebIt was strange, looking down at the world from so far away.  He’d heard it said that such a view reminded one of a marble, but he’d never imagined that might be the truth.  Now, though… yes, it looked very much like a marble.

However, it wasn’t a marble on inky blackness.  There were stars!  Millions of stars surrounded the marble-like world.  Not only that, but the world itself seemed to glow with a faint light.

“It’s rather beautiful,” he murmured, “isn’t it?”

His companion frowned thoughtfully.  “From far away, anything can seem beautiful, I suppose,” he said.  “It’s only when you get close to something that you see the flaws – the ugliness that’s always there.”

He turned away from the view to stare at his partner.  “Flaws can be beautiful too,” he murmured, “in their own way.”  Then, before his partner could reply, he turned and walked away.  He’d had enough of such thoughts for one day.

Love is not a bandage to cover wounds

This is a little scene inspired by a word prompt (the phrase I used for the title) from the WriYe DreamWidth.  This is set after the main story in my National Museum and Archives story.  Oliver did something he shouldn’t have done and Peter is having trouble forgiving him.  What sort of relationship they have… it could be read as close friendship or something much more, depending on how you read this scene.

**

Oliver wasn’t sure what to do.  The fallout over the incident with Ackerley had gone so much further than work.  It was bad enough that he had to work to earn the trust of the rest of the security team at the National Museum again.  That, he knew, he could manage.  It would take time and effort on his part, but they’d get there eventually.  He wasn’t sure what to do about Peter.

He chewed at his lip as he watched the other man eating his lunch.  There had been a time when they’d been practically inseparable.  They’d done everything together – worked, played, eaten… slept.  He couldn’t remember a time when Peter hadn’t been by his side.  Now, he felt as if there was a wall between them that he couldn’t get around or through.

Peter said he still cared and Oliver certainly still cared for Peter.  However, he couldn’t find a way to repair the damage that was done to their relationship.  What could he do when simply caring wasn’t enough?

“You’re staring,” Peter said, his voice soft.  He glanced up and met Oliver’s eyes.  “If you’ve got something to say, just say it?”

Oliver heaved a sigh and set his elbows on the desk.  Resting his chin against his fists, he frowned.  “I’m trying to figure out… what to do,” he said, his voice soft.  “I know you’re hurt and – and you have a right to be.  I just… don’t know how to make it better.”

“The only thing that can make this better is time, Oliver,” Peter said, shrugging.  He grimaced and tossed his near-empty noodle container in the trash.  Shaking his head, he shrugged again.  “It might not be what you want to hear.”

“It’s the only answer I’m going to get,” Oliver finished.  He leaned back in his chair and shook his head.  “Apologies won’t fix it and neither will… your feelings haven’t changed.  Have they?”

Peter shook his head.  “That’s why it hurts so much,” he said, shrugging.  “If I didn’t care about you so much, Oliver, it would just be a matter of you proving to me that I could trust you not to betray us again, but… you didn’t trust me and that hurts a lot more than anything else you might have done.”

“I was scared,” Oliver said, his voice faint.  He swallowed thickly and ducked his head to hide the fact that he was near tears.  He didn’t want Peter to feel guilty, not when this whole mess was his doing.  He took a deep steadying breath and shook his head.  “I’ll just… give it time, then.”  There wasn’t anything else he could do, after all.

Empty Theater

This little scene was inspired both by a photo prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth and my own experience in watching how “interviews” are conducted where I work.  One of the things the interview committee always asks of the candidates is that they give a presentation that is open to all the employees.

**

36-6c76b3dbe1Jakob stood at the back of the theater and looked down at the rows of empty seats.  He bit his lip as he struggled to get control of his breathing and calm his racing heart.

In just a few hours, he’d have to give his presentation to the staff of the National Museum and Archives.  The members of the interview committee would be there.  That much was a given.  However, he was well aware that the invitation was an open one.  How many other people would attend?  Would the room be filled to brimming or would it just be a small handful of people?  Either way, the idea terrified him.

A light touch on the small of his back set his heart racing once again.  He glanced over his shoulder to see Stephen there and grimaced.  “I’m nervous,” he admitted, his voice faint.

“You know your stuff,” Stephen said, his voice soft.  “You’ll do just fine with the presentation and then… it’s out of your hands.  They’ve got four other candidates for the position, besides you.”

Jakob nodded slowly.  Stephen was right.  He was well prepared and he just had to give his presentation.  Even if the only people that came were the members of the interview committee, it wouldn’t matter.  Even if every seat was filled, it would be the same.  Either way, he’d pretend the room was just as it was now: empty, except for him and Stephen.  “Thank you,” he murmured.

“Anytime,” Stephen said, his voice soft.

Being a good man

This is a little scene inspired by a word prompt (the phrase I used as the title) from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

Jakob couldn’t help but smile as he watched Gregory playing with Trudy.  He was kneeling in the grass, with his hands over his eyes and counting softly and slowly.  The little girl – his little girl – was trying to find a place to hide, giggling the whole time.

After he’d reached ten, Gregory uncovered his eyes.  He flashed a smile at Jakob and then moved to his feet.  “Hmm,” he said, his eyes twinkling with mirth.  “I wonder where Trudy is.”  His words were answered by a giggle from the child that told them exactly where she’d hidden.  Gregory pretended not to hear, though.

Instead, he began searching everywhere he possibly could – even places that the little girl couldn’t possibly be.  Staring into the branches of a tall oak, Gregory said, “I guess I can’t find her.”

“Here, Daddy,” Trudy said, peering out from behind Jakob, where she’d been the entire time.

As Jakob chuckled, Gregory smiled.  Meeting Jakob’s eyes, he said, “The one place I didn’t think to look, of course.”

“Of course,” Jakob said.  He smiled warmly as Trudy ran to her father’s arms and he lifted her into an embrace.  Against all odds and in spite of what everyone thought, Gregory was a very good father – a very good man.

Listen to the Music

This is a little scene that was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

It had been hard, at first, to accept that he wouldn’t be working with Gregory anymore.  Ever since he’d been elevated to the position of Director of Collections, Gregory had been a fixture.  If he needed something brought over from one of their storage warehouses, he went to Gregory.  If he needed to arrange special security for an artifact, he went to Gregory.  Now, he was forced to turn to others.  They were just as skilled, but he didn’t know them.

However, there were benefits to the new arrangement as well.  When they’d been co-workers, they’d felt the need to be careful regarding their relationship.  No one at the museum knew that Gregory was, essentially, his brother.  Now, there was no reason to hide the facts.

35-45a957a8ffJakob glanced over at Trudy and chuckled softly.  She was sitting with a book in her lap.  The stuffed bear was nestled beside her on the couch.  The headphones from Jakob’s portable radio were settled on its head.

“Trudy,” Jakob said, grinning.  When the little girl looked up from her book, he waved at the bear.  “What’s that about?”

“He didn’t want to read with me,” Trudy said, shrugging.  “He’s listening to your player, instead.”

“Is he enjoying the music?” Jakob said, arching an eyebrow.

Trudy frowned and looked at the bear.  Then, grinning, she turned back to Jakob and nodded.  “Very much,” she said, giggling.  “Thank you, Uncle Koby!”

“You’re quite welcome, Trudy,” Jakob said, giving her a sunny smile.  Chuckling to himself, he turned back to his own work.  Yes, he could deal with changes at the museum, if it meant that he could look after Trudy and be “Uncle Koby” for the little girl.

Boys will be boys

This little scene was inspired by a phrase prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.  It’s set when Jakob is still just eight years old.  Nelly is his twin sister.  Gregory is their adopted brother. Elijah is the younger brother.

**

Nelly frowned at Gregory, Elijah and Jakob.  They were running around crazily.  She wanted for Jakob and Gregory to come and play dolls with her, but both of them refused.  They preferred, instead, to play tag with their younger brother, Elijah.

“Why aren’t you playing, Nelly?” Mother asked, leaning close to look into her eyes.  “Don’t you like to play tag?”

“I want to play dolls,” Nelly pouted, hugging Patrice close.  Patrice was her favorite doll, since it had been the last thing her father had given her.  “Gregory and Jakob won’t play with me.”

“Perhaps,” Mother said, “if you play tag with them, they’ll play dolls with you later.”

“I ain’t playing dolls,” Gregory called, skidding to a stop.  He sighed when Jakob tagged him and ran away with a laugh.  Gregory sighed when Mother gave him a significant look.  “Why can’t she play dolls with Adeline?”

“Addie’s four is why,” Nelly said, stamping her foot.  “I’m eight already.  I can’t play with a four year old!”

Jakob heaved a sigh and then nodded.  “All right,” he said.  “After we have lunch, we’ll play dolls with you, Nelly.  For now, though, you can play tag with us.”

Mother nodded when Nelly smiled.  As soon as Mother had headed back inside, Gregory added, “Newcomers are cucumbers, though.  So… you’re it!”  Then he spun and ran away from her.

Nelly’s face flushed a brilliant scarlet.  She set Patrice gently on the bottom step and took off after Gregory.  “You – you boy!” she shouted, trying to the think of the worst possible thing to call him.

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