[Short Story] Searching

[Writing Prompt] Every morning you wake up with a new talent. The catch is, you aren’t told what it is.

Thirteen marks the start. From then on, each week a temporary talent is gained until it is either discovered or squandered. If discovered, permanent gain. If not, gone, never to be seen again.

John, the lucky bastard, discovered four days after his birthday that he gained the ability to be cool. Or rather, suddenly he knew how to speak to people. Kate discovered that she could draw. James gained the ability to build muscle quickly. Helena got pattern-recognition, her dad was quite pleased. He made a killing in the stock-exchange thanks to her.

I didn’t discover my talent on week one. Or week two. Or three. Or five. Or ten. Or fifty.

I was talentless Ryan. The kids made fun of me for it.

But Ms Holland took care of me. 9th grade English. I was never really good with words. But she helped me out regardless. I had entered Week 55. It was Saturday and I was about to procrastinate like I usually do. Talentless Ryan, all he’s good for is playing video games. But today, I had first opened the textbook Ms Holland gave me. How odd… Then again I am a creature of whims, it’s possible I could study on a whim.

Sunday, studied again, but this time I was able to absorb the information much better. I checked the scanner on my right arm, the illustrious talent checker… Showing [NULL] like always. No talents for Ryan. He doesn’t deserve them.

Monday rolls around and I’m on time. Everyone is surprised. Slacker Ryan not showing up fifteen minutes late? Impossible. But here I was, ready to learn. Maybe this is my new talent, being a punctual fuckhead. The scanner beeps in my backpack. If people weren’t looking at me before, they were full on smiling expectedly. Unzip, grab, turn on. Talent: Time Management I gape at it.

“Time Management, the ability to allocate time to complete tasks in an efficient manner.” John grabbed the scanner out of my hands. He then clasps onto my shoulder and hugs me. “RYAN THIS IS GREAT! YOU GOT A REALLY GOOD ONE!” Man this is awkward, I’m sitting and he’s standing. God, it looks like he’s humping my desk.

“Alright, alright, leave the kid alone. We’re here to learn.” Ms Holland smiles at me. Is it my imagination or did she look off? Like she’s about to fall asleep? When I asked her about it, she told me didn’t get much sleep last night. Kept sneezing and having to blow her nose.

On day four, five and six I set up drawing periods, writing periods, programming periods, planning periods, all in the hopes that if I gained any talent in those lines, I would lock it down. John was right, this is a good talent to have. When Week 56 rolled around, I woke up at 4 in the morning. No way am I going to let whatever talent I’m gaining up. 4 to 5, I draw. Complete shit. Moving on. 5 to 6, I write a story. Nope, no dice. 6 to 7, I plan out how I would give the best birthday party to Helena. Nada. 7 to 8, I run around the block. Well I ran for 10 seconds and I breathed heavily for the remainder of the hour.

8 to 9, I passively read the medical textbook, I’m able to retain everything I read. Am I a doctor? Is my talent science? I look at the scanner. No, it’s not science. Hmmm. I’m curious. There’s something here, I know it. I glance over the Shakespeare text I have to read for Holland’s class. I can understand it. Idioms and all. Is my ability to be able to understand language and its nuances? Scanner says no. Hmmm. What is it?

Day Three rolls around and I have no luck. I ask Holland about it. She asks me if my ability is to study. Maybe that’s it? Scanner says no. This is weird. She still has her cold. Damn, that’s one stubborn cold.

Day Five rolls around. I try to recall the medical textbook, and no dice. So it’s not photographic memory. Gah! What is it?

Day Six rolls around, maybe it’s the ability to understand how something functions? The scanner beeps. Talent: Understanding. Oh shit.

Week 57 rolls around and I’m the happiest son of bitch in the entire class. Talentless Ryan? Hah!

Day Three rolls around and I’m not sure what my talent is. Helena asks for help with the Shakespeare and I’m able to explain the text adequately to her. She nods and thanks me. Day Five rolls around and I’m not entirely sure what this week’s talent is.

The week ends before I can figure out the Talent. I sigh. Whatever it was, I hope it wasn’t a gamebreaker…

As the weeks race by, I gain the ability to fall asleep whenever I want and not much else. Still even if I don’t gain anymore talents from this point on, I think I’ll be good.

As the school year began to end, Ms Holland collapsed. The school kept saying that she was fine and that she was only dehydrated, but I didn’t believe them. I went to the hospital to visit her, wish I didn’t. There were so many tubes attached to her and she was inside a glass prison. The doctors said she had a rare viral infection that was fatal and highly infectious once it entered its final stages.

Please no… Ms Holland, this can’t be the way you go! I refuse! New Week. Whatever this talent is, it better be something that can help her survive! I spent all day on the “safe” side of the glass, reading the doctor’s notes on Holland’s illness. Each page I read, I gain more and more insight into the illness. I devour every medical book I can get my hands on. Every experimental medicines book I could handle. My new Talent revealed itself, persuasion. I was able to convince researchers all over the world to come help Holland. She was the first to believe in me, I refuse to let her die!

As the weeks drag by, her organs began failing one by one. I convinced Helena to pay for the medical bills in exchange I would have to work for him for five years as his analyst. I don’t care, Holland was the first to make me feel welcome in this world! I’m not losing that!

I gain pattern-recognition, political maneuvering, argumentation, eidetic memory as time dragged on. The chances of her survival getting slimmer and slimmer. I was finally able to make a vaccine, the youngest and fastest doctor in history. My parents were so proud, a doctor and I had bypassed Medical School entirely.

It should’ve worked.

But… it was too late. Holland was gone. I’m… It was all for nothing. Kate tried cheering me up over the days, but I refused to see anyone. I can’t… Ms Holland, why?

John was the first of us to show symptoms of the virus. The doctors took to calling it the Holland Virus. How dare they! I refined the vaccine. Made sure everything checked out. The government even gave me my own test subjects to fast track the clinical trials. I wasn’t head researcher. I wasn’t the best at this, but the researchers still respected my drive. I was single-handedly determined to make sure this goddamn virus was wiped from the face of the earth. Any mistakes I made, I learned from and the researchers were ready to help me along the way. beep The sound of the scanner goes off, but I don’t bother to check it. I have more important things to worry about.

The vaccine worked, but John was too far gone to be saved.


[Short Story] A Spark

[Writing Prompt] Even a roaring inferno must start from a spark.

I could remember the soft patter of rain on the windowsill. The soft hum of the heater. The churning of the washing machine. That day in its entirety burnt into my memory. I would get a letter that told me that my application to Harvard had been accepted. Tuition? Room and board? Monthly stipend? All there.

But here’s the thing, I never applied. But I’d be a fool to not accept.

When I arrived I realized why I was accepted. I had a rare genetic marker, the first of its kind. What it did, they didn’t know, but it fascinated them. It wasn’t a bad deal, really. Let them run tests and I attend an Ivy League.

After the fifth test, my fingers grew numb. Like electric ants were running through my fingertips. They asked me to go for a walk every morning. Meditate afterwards. Write down everything I do. By the end of the third month I was the president of the Track club.

After the fifth month passed, sparks would pass through my fingers. The researchers were so happy, their hypothesis was proven right. I was Ground Zero for the genetic marker that gave people extraordinary abilities.

I couldn’t do anything more than party sparks. But with that marker… humanity could become so much more. They nicknamed me Sparky, but I didn’t mind. I was making the world a better place just by existing! Not many people could say that!

The first human trials for gene alteration went abysmal. The gene responded a little too well and they burst into flames. After that, they studied the markers a bit more thoroughly. They found another marker, this one controlled the potency. They were tempted to alter mine but I convinced them otherwise. If they were wrong and somehow I ended up dead, their research would be for not.

They nodded and resumed the research until they could safely do human trials again. It was a success this time. Freed from my lab rat position, they altered the second marker but it didn’t nothing. I was still Sparky. I didn’t mind.

I finished my time at Harvard with a PhD in Biology. Figured I’d help out the researchers figure out this Golden Age of genetic abilities. Maybe one day, we’ll get someone who can control the growth rate of plants. That would solve world hunger.

And then, my hands caught fire and the sparks gave way to a beautiful blue fire that was cool to the touch. I would make the world a better place, I knew that for a fact.

[Short Story] Fracture Point

[Writing Prompt] You found a watch that doesn’t tell time, instead it has a count-down timer. Tomorrow it reaches 0.

Day One: Hour Twelve: Cycle 1

Cracked glass, good condition of metal, I can take this apart and sell the individual parts to the local watchmaker. Hour hand is at 12, must be broken. No minute hand, interesting. I look along the edges, no screws. I’ll need a wedge then. If I’m lucky, I can get the golden cogs within it. This could cover rent for the next three months. Gives me time to figure out a way out of this hell hole. This is good. This is really good.

Day Two: Hour Eleven: Cycle 1

I don’t know what that handwatch is made of but my tool broke when I tried to take it apart. Of course it’s unbreakable. Of course I can’t take it apart. Of FUCKING course I won’t have an easy meal ticket. This goddamn world isn’t that nice. Ruddy thing is useless to me now! Wait, the hour hand is at eleven. Okay? So it works but it’s worthless as a watch. Breathe Tyler. I could take it to Old Man Ty anyway. Gotta be worth SOMETHING. The back of the watch says S.H.E.L.Y. Never heard of the company before.

Day Three: Hour Ten: Cycle 1

The old man told me its value only existed in my hands. Useless in anyone else’s. He had a shit eating grin when he said I should hold onto it. I threw it in the trash as I walked out. Ty, you’re my best friend but once of these days I’m going to poison your corn flakes.

Day Four: Hour Nine: Cycle 1

I woke up with the watch in my hands. Hour hand at nine. I breathe in. Ty, I swear to god if you’re pranking me with this shit, I’m going to really poison your food, man. Walking out onto the balcony, I chuck the watch into open dumpster lid in the other apartment complex.

Day Five: Hour Eight: Cycle 1

Watch is back. This time it’s back with a note. I wouldn’t do that again Tyler. You have to do important things with this watch. Copper fills my mouth as I bite into my gums. I rub my head as it begins to throb. I’m going to punch whoever wrote this note in the throat. It’s probably Ty, more than likely Ty. Ty you shithead, what are you doing? I know you like talking to me, but I have work to do. Okay, maybe not “work” but it still helps pay the bills…

Day Ten: Hour Three: Cycle 1

The watch glows now. Pretty light show. Hour hand is three. Hmmm. That… Should it be doing that? Hmmm. The moment I touch it, the light transfers to my left hand.

“Host accepted. Immunity granted. Wait until Hour One to use the device.” A robotic voice comes out of the watch. The light continues to spread, growing like cancer until it engulfs my entire body. What the hell is going on? “Scans indicate an excessive amount of adrenaline, lowering amount to calm the Host.” Like a light-switch, I feel calmer. What the hell is this watch?

“What the fuck is going on?” The light intensifies.

“Scans indicate the mind has broken serotonin receptors. Restoring brain functionality to 100%. Scans indicate a severe allergy to peanuts. Removing deficiency.” The color of the world changes slightly. Like, my dreams aren’t as hopeless as I thought. It feels weird. Me, hopeful? In this shithole? Next thing I know, I’ll be hugging Ty and telling him I love him. Hah.

“Diagnostic sweep complete. New class unlocked: Scavenger. Natural aptitude in finding fissures. Natural aptitude towards fixing broken paths. Deficient aptitude in self-control. Deficient aptitude in safe butterfly insertion. Powering down.” The blue lights on my body and the watch die. A talking watch? Glowing body? This… This is new.. Would Ty believe me if I told him? Probably not. But the thing he likes more than telling stories is hearing one. Kinda hoping he believes me though.

Day Eleven: Hour Two: Cycle 1

I talked to Old Man Ty. He started laughing.  He takes out a gun.

“Finally accepted you, did it? Take good care of Shelly, will you?” He points it towards his head.

“Ty no! Don’t do it!” I scream out at him. Please don’t do this. You were the only one who looked out for me all these years. Don’t take that from me…. Please…

“Save me.” He pulls the trigger, that impossible smile not leaving his lips. Save him? What? The watch begins glowing bright again. Why now of all times?

“Medic’s connection has broken. World Path has broken. First assignment: Fix the Path. Assignment will be explained in two days.”

Day Twelve: Hour One: Cycle 1

I could barely get out of bed. The police questioned me for hours before releasing me. They said I couldn’t leave town. Hah… where would I even go?

Day Thirteen: Device Unlocked: Cycle 1

The watch opened. “Uploading the World Paths. Uploading the Maps of Time. Uploading potential Fissure Points in time.” Within my mind I could suddenly see what I had to do. Ty wanted me to save him. His death broke a World Path… Just how important was he? But, Time-Travel is impossible! It has to be!

“Returning to two days prior, do you accept?” The watch spoke. I gulp. Ty always knew me. He chided me when I worked for him. What are you going to do when I’m gone and not around to tell you what to do? He’d laugh. Now he was gone, and I knew exactly what I was going to do.


[Short Story] Silence

[Writing Prompt] After Death you are given a choice

My senses drown in a black sea. My thoughts leave me as I’m pulled upward. So this is it, I’m dead. The farther away from my body I go, the more calm I become. I lived a good life. I hope Bree forgives me; I did promise I’d outlast her.

Pulled, twisted, my senses are violated, but the calm doesn’t leave me. Every time I can feel panic almost set in, it’s snatched away. Why? As my ascension slows to a stop, I notice a bored old woman in a white robe.

“Welcome.” She blows and pops her blue bubblegum.

“…” I open my mouth but no sound comes out. She merely nods.

“So your sin…” The old woman opens a big book and flips through some pages. “Let’s see…. Brown hair, green eyes, almond-shaped eyes. Genetic anomaly.  Ah yes, here we are. Aki Sato. Atheist. Makes sense.” She nods slowly.

“…” Voice doesn’t come. What makes sense?

She looks at me and motions me forward. “Let’s dispel a notion from your head before it takes root.” I walk forward.

“…” A pained groan escapes my throat.

“You didn’t lose your voice for blasphemy. God isn’t a jealous school-kid who throws a tantrum every time someone says he doesn’t exist. No, your sin is of actual substance.” The old woman leans over and rubs my back. “Close your eyes little one, what do you regret?”

The calm leaves as I’m forced to relive the worst moment of my life. I was fourteen. Dylan was my best friend. He came out as gay and instead of standing by him, I stayed quiet when he was being bullied. I didn’t tell his parents or the teachers. I remember that smile that carved itself into my mind. That impossible smile as I lost my best friend.

The weight grabs me by the ankles as I’m shown all the times I’ve kept a secret because I valued confidence placed in me over their lives. I gasp for air. I can’t. I can’t. Why. Please. Stop.

“Now. Would you like your voice back?” Warm arms surround me. “Aki, you have two choices. Enter the gate or give someone a second chance. What do you choose?”

“…” I breathe heavily and close my eyes. Even as the various debates rage in my mind, my heart already knows its answer. Yes. Yes, I need to help those who deserve to try again.

The old lady nods and when I open my eyes Dylan is on the stage coming out to the school. Time to get my voice back.

[Short Story] Erasure

[Writing Prompt] Kill them before they rise

Sean wiped his mother’s forehead. Sean was a good little boy like that. Taking care of a dying mother. When Sean turned eighteen, he took care of poor old mum. Dying in her death bed. Of course that’s what Sean saw, but that’s not what I see. I look through Sean’s eyes as his mother told him the magic words.

Kill them before they rise. The words washed over me, cleansing me. Cleansing me of Sean. This person wasn’t Sean’s mother. But in a cruel way, she was mine.

Sean was the fourth in line to receive forty-seven billion US dollars in a trust when his father Henry died. See, Henry was the world’s leading company’s CEO. Powerful bastard. I was born when Sean turned thirteen.

He was kidnapped, brainwashed, stripped of memories. They were trying to fracture his identity, give birth to a loyal freedom fighter. My ‘mother’ was part of an underground coalition not too pleased with Henry’s actions.

‘Mother’ looks at me with pity. Don’t deny what you’ve done, monster. This isn’t freedom fighting. I’m sorry Sean, I tried to keep you alive best I could. But I can feel you slipping through my fingers, from my mind.

KILL THEM BEFORE THEY RISE! The words compel me forward. Sean had siblings. I’m sorry Sean, she wants to inherit it all. No money for any of you.

Freedom fighter my ass. I’m a murderer, that’s what I am.

[Short Story] The Game

[Writing Prompt] You made a wish upon a star

Author’s Note: Story’s a bit weak, but I had to make something. Enjoy?

The shooting stars draw lines across the sky. Make a wish, it just might come true. Make a wish, that’s all I’m good for. Empty wishes that don’t change reality. I have many wishes but the main one I have is a simple one, I want to control my destiny. Every minute detail, write the story as I progress. Become a hero, become a leader. I want it all.

The last of them flit across the sky and I laugh. I wish I could alter reality, alter this miserable existence. I laugh and head back inside. Work was in the morning and I didn’t want to be late again. Kyle was pissed at me enough as it is.

Sleep came slow but when it did, it was peaceful for once. No nightmares.

I woke up to find a blue screen in front of my face. Welcome to the Game. I rub my eyes. This isn’t happening. Blue screen still there. Welcome to the Game. Would you like a Tutorial? I gulp. I hit yes.

Welcome to the Game. Your body and mind have become augmented. Each action and skill you take will be tracked by a level counter. Would you like an overview?

I hit yes again.

Skill Tree

Data Entry Level 5. The ability to enter data correctly and efficiently. 50% increase in typing speed. 5% increase in daydreaming. Passive.

Daydreaming Level 100 (Maxed). The ability to think of better things to do. 100% increase in creativity. 200% decrease in productivity. Active.

Dancing Level 3. The ability… are you serious? 3% increase in Charisma. Active.

Excuse-Making Level 100. The ability to come up with believable reasons to lessen the consequences of shitty behavior. 100% increase in bullshitting. 100% increase in storytelling. 10% increase in Charisma. Passive.

Storytelling Level 20. Locked. The ability to weave narrative in speech. You gave up on this ability.

Social Ineptitude Level 100. The ability to fuck up any social thing with a level of incompetence reserved to the fringe of society. 100% decrease in social ability. -20 Charisma modifier. Passive.

Hey, it’s got a sense of humor. Heh.

By making an observation, your intelligence has increased by one. What?

Stat screen

Intelligence, 15. Wisdom, 20. Charisma, 15 x 1.13-20 = -3.05. Vitality, 3. Strength, 4. Dexterity, 2.

Jesus, that charisma. But it does make sense I suppose. That conversation with Helen went far beyond wrong and landed me a demotion for ‘sexual harassment.’ I breathe out slowly. I wonder, is it possible to decrease a level in something?

By thinking of ways to improve yourself, your wisdom has increased by one. Alright then?

As you progress through this game, you will be presented with opportunities. Both good and bad. You cannot alter reality but rather, you can alter how you perceive reality. You’ve been given the gift of truth. You will be given two free skills to get you started on your journey. The Truth and Quick Study.

The Truth. Level Max. You can no longer be deceived. You can gaze upon any object and learn of its origins. Passive.

Quick Study. Level Max. You are able to discern which information is most needed to form a level one skill. 1000% increase in learning the first ten levels of a skill. Passive

Not sure how to react. But this provides me with an interesting opportunity….

[Short Story] Legacy

[Writing Prompt] I’m afraid I’ll disappear

In her eyes I see myself reflected, a high-strung workaholic who constantly bites off more than is chewable. In her eyes I see myself reflected, I am fallible, but I cannot be. My purpose won’t allow me to.

I want a legacy, but not a cheap one where I shoot up a mall for fifteen minutes of infamy. I want remembrance, like Benjamin Franklin has. Like Plato. I want my name burned into the history books. To prove I exist.

In the mornings I read, go for a jog, meditate, eat. In the afternoons I work on videos, write ads, market products. In the evenings I go to parties and if it’s a weekend a club. I must improve, I must become the best me I can be. I must carve my name into the history books.

But I don’t know how. Lily always looks at me, exasperated. Our son is well-cared for. I make sure to attend his soccer games. I make sure the best tutors attend to his education. So why, why does she look at me like I will one day implode?

I’m afraid I’ll disappear. That none of my actions will have mattered to history. Why can’t she understand that! Why can’t…

Tomorrow my company will hit its first million. Tomorrow I will gain resources to make a suitable dent in this world. I will end poverty! I will make education free! I will make sure every child is loved and taken care of!

The world spins and I hit the floor. Silly me, I’ve lost my bearing. It seems I’m in need of water if I am lightheaded enough to fall.

The taste of copper fills the back of my throat. Hello old friend, please wait, I have not achieved what this world requires of me yet. I dust myself off and return to my paperwork.

Tomorrow is the first step, I must make haste. I must immortalize my actions and that can only happen if they are worthy of it. I must…

“Mark, come to bed, it’s half past two.” Lily yawns, bidding me away from my work. Yes, this is a good place to stop. I will succeed before it ends.