Short Story: All in the Mind

Takes place after One Sky, Many Faces and Contract Job. Should still make sense as a standalone.

 

~All in the Mind~

The monsters were only illusions in her mind, conjured by the hallucinogenic her captors injected into her to stop her from running away. She knew that intellectually.

But faced with sulphur hot breath steaming out of shadow matte muzzles filled with ivory sharp teeth, facts melted like ice under hot water.

She pulled her knees to her face and curled into the smallest ball she could contort herself into. It was hard to breathe, but at least this way she knew where all her limbs were. And the monsters wouldn’t be around forever. She just needed to wait it out.

“There you are.”

She thought her brother’s familiar voice  was just another illusion, until his shadow wrapped around her like a blanket and pulled her out of the draughty room that had been her prison for the past day. The monsters followed, no less real in the safety of her home.

“I was careful,” she said as she pressed into her brother’s arms. She hadn’t known her latest clients moonlighted as kidnappers until they plunged the needle into her skin.

Her brother ran his fingers through her hair. “This one’s on me. I didn’t catch them when I did the background check.” 

The monsters let loose a howl that raked freezing fire through her ears. She choked back a cry, as if her silence could hide herself from the figments of her imagination. 

“Next time, I’m coming with you,” her brother said.

“What about your job?”

“I’ll figure something out.”

That would be nice. Despite the bad experiences, she still wanted to paint. If anyone could figure out a solution, it was her brother.

The monsters still prowled, but in her brother’s arms, it was easier to remember that they were just hallucinations in her mind. 

~End~

Genre: fantasy, superpower, family

Related stories about the brother: Help from the Shadows | Agent Sunshine | The Sun That Shone Also Burned

Short Story: The Sun That Shone Also Burned

Help from the Shadows (start here) | Agent Sunshine | The Sun That Shone Also Burned

Genre: humour

It was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“Your sunny disposition never fails to light up my day.”

They had teased him for too long.

“Morning, my only Sunshine!”

It was time to show them that the sun that shone also burned.

“Anyone seen my boots?”

“Where’s my charger?”

“I can’t find my… #$@&*! What’s it doing on the ceiling?”

~End~

Stories about his sister: One Sky, Many Faces | Contract Job | All in the Mind

Agent Sunshine

Help from the Shadows (start here) | Agent Sunshine | The Sun That Shone Also Burned

My response to the prompt shine.

~Agent Sunshine~

They really needed to review their modus operandi. Ever since he developed the ability to travel through shadows, all his team did on rescue missions was send him in alone and crack jokes while he worked.

Right now, the topic of interest was his his catchphrase.

“I’m Sunshine. Agent Sunshine.”

“That’s old.”

“It’s a classic.”

He waited in the shadow under the bed until the girl was left alone.

“When the shadows of the world threaten you, remember that I am there. Who am I? Your sunniest shadow. Agent Sunshine.”

The guard finally left. He stepped out of the shadow. The girl let out a startled cry and hid behind a pillow.

“It’s ok. I’m here to help,” he said.

“Who are you?”

“I am the superhero who shines your way in the darkness. I am… Agent Sunshine!”

“A superhero. Your parents called me to bring you home. Let’s go.”

He slowly scooped the girl into his arms.

“Close your eyes and count to ten,” he said.

“What happens at ten?”

“You’ll see your parents.”

The girl closed her eyes.

“One. Two.”

He sunk into the shadows.

“I’m Agent Sunshine, and it’s counting time!”

When he got back, he was going to hang everyone upside down on the roof.

~End~

Stories about his sister: One Sky, Many Faces | Contract Job | All in the Mind

Contract Job

Written in response to the prompt ‘facade‘.

~Contract Job~

With a lot of patience, hard work, and special paint, she had made her greatest masterpiece.

Her latest client was an emerging superhero team who wanted to move their headquarters to the top of a hill. While the view was breathtaking, the downside to such an exposed location was that it was an easy target for their enemies to hit.

That was where she came in.

Knowing her extensive experience with painting skies, they hired her to paint the outer shell of their hideout to blend into the sky.

She didn’t need to worry about painting one sky to blend into any weather (which she didn’t think was possible in the first place). She just needed to paint a few skies according to a list (sunset, twilight, rainy days, sunny days, the whole spectrum) using a special paint which would let the superheroes switch between skies at will.

As for the little discrepancies her static painting couldn’t hide, they had someone on the team with a superpower that could complete the illusion. Must be convenient to have superpowers.

“All done?” the superhero team leader asked.

“All done.”

“Great.”

The superhero’s hand shot forward to her face and slammed her to the ground.

“Nothing personal, but we have a ‘no loose ends’ policy.”

Her brother shot out from her shadow and threw the superhero off her. Before the masked man could recover, her brother pulled her into the hideout’s shadow and back into their home.

“You alright?”

“I am now.”

“Leave them to me. I’ll take care of them.”

Within the week, her client hit the news as an illegal villainous organisation hiding behind the facade of a superhero team. Alongside the shocking news was the list of people who had fallen victim to the group, a list that she would have been on if not for her overprotective brother.

“Now you see why I don’t want you to take jobs from strangers?” he asked.

“They weren’t strangers. They were superheroes,” she pointed out.

“That just makes them famous strangers. From now on, if anyone offers you a job, let us do a background check first.”

The last few times her brother said that, she just waved him off. Her brother was already so busy with his saving people job, she didn’t want to add to his workload. But she could have died this time. Would have died if he hadn’t been on annual leave while she worked on this job.

The thought sent a shiver up her spine.

“Fine.”

~End~

Related stories: One Sky, Many Faces | Contract Job | All in the Mind

Stories about her brother: Help from the Shadows | Agent Sunshine | The Sun That Shone Also Burned

Drabble: One Sky, Many Faces

The response to July’s prompt ‘sky’.

Genre: slice of life

~One Sky, Many Faces~

When people called her for a job, it could only mean one thing.

She was going to paint someone a gorgeous piece of sky.

People wondered how she could just paint skies. Wasn’t it boring? Why not try something else? Don’t be a one-trick pony. You can’t earn money drawing just one thing.

Three years on, and she had silenced those questions. Take that! Ye of little faith, and observation skills.

The homeowner led her upstairs to the second son’s bedroom, already emptied of every loose item. She prepared her palette, chose one wall, and started to paint.

The sky had so many faces. The clear blue smile of a cloudless day, the solemn shades of grey when it rained, the colourful celebration at sunset, and she loved every one of them.

And that was just the beginning.

Layer by layer, she turned the room into a hideout in the clouds. To finish, she painted smaller clouds that looked like different animals in different lighting.

Two weeks later, she received a call from the homeowner’s friend. This time, it was a request to paint a school wall.

“I can draw anything I want?”

“Yes.”

“What about the sky?”

“That would be lovely.”

“I’ll take the job.”

She already had ten different ideas floating around in her head. By the time she was done with that wall, it was going to look out of this world.

~End~

Related stories: One Sky, Many Faces | Contract Job | All in the Mind

Stories about her brother: Help from the Shadows | Agent Sunshine | The Sun That Shone Also Burned

Drabble: Help from the Shadows

To fill in the July prompt ‘shadow’.

Genre: superpower, fantasy, military?, humour

~Help from the Shadows~

If it had a shadow, he could get there. That was what he discovered two months after people started showing off their newfound powers. He had showed off his new ability too, but only to his team. They needed to know. In their line of work, his affinity with shadows was a game changer.

They played many roles, but their main focus was to go to places others couldn’t. Most of the time, that meant search and rescue, especially behind enemy lines. And guess who had shadows? Everyone.

Every mission was a new chance to explore his own ability. He learnt how to travel between shadows, to use them for reconnaissance, to track multiple targets at once, to wield the shadows like a weapon. Above all, they as a team stretched their imagination to disguise his ability from others, enemies and allies alike. The longer it took for people to notice the ability existed, the longer it would take them to create countermeasures.

Not that the need of secrecy stopped them from making a joke of it.

“You have a new codename,” his team leader said and threw a folder on the table. The document spun until it stopped right before him. Upside down.

He opened the folder to find a form that had been filled in, stating that he was neither a superhero nor supervillain, but neutral, and that his superpower name was… Sunshine.

His teammates started laughing.

“I hate you all.”

“Love you too, Sunshine.”

“Is this permanent?”

“Only for one year, Sunshine.”

“Good. I don’t need to kill anyone.”

That just cracked them up even more.

“You can try, Sunshine, but it’ll take more than a little shadow voodoo to take us down.”

He glared at them.

Challenge accepted.

~End~

Related stories: One Sky, Many Faces | Contract Job | All in the Mind

Stories about her brother: Help from the Shadows | Agent Sunshine | The Sun That Shone Also Burned