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Short Story: Mascot Duty

Genre: fantasy
Features characters from Mission Gone Wrong.
DD – Department of Defense

 

Theo pulled off the head of his costume with the gasp of a drowning man finding air.

After the last time Eileen pulled him out for a decoy date, Theo thought he would know better next time.

It was ‘next time’ now, and he was still caught off guard when his team stuffed him in a fluffy costume and threw him into a mascot job. He joined DD to fight monsters, not play undercover agent!

“Alright there, Theo?” asked Steven, his fellow mascot.

“Yeah. Just need to breathe.”

“I know what you mean,” Steven said with a commiserating chuckle.

None of his seniors had told him anything but to pretend to be normal and treat it like a real job. Was Steven one of their suspects? A target? Completely unrelated? It was hard to tell without more information.

So he did what they said, hid his strength, and focused on his job. He entertained the children as the mascot, pointed visitors to the right locations, and took care of lost children. There were always lost children. Sometimes, they found him, sometimes, he was asked to find them.

It was when he was looking for a girl who had wandered away from her school group that he walked right into trouble.

“Go away!” Steven said with his fluffy mascot arms around the missing girl, who was starting to realise the mascot she had trusted might not be as trustworthy as she thought.

Theo held his hands up in outward surrender. He didn’t want to let the girl out of his sight, but despite the special training he still didn’t feel comfortable fighting with normal humans. What should he do?

Ezra appeared behind Steven without a sound, and Theo’s dilemma was solved.

“I’m going away,” Theo said to keep Steven’s attention on him, “Just give me some time. It’s not easy walking backwards in this-”

One of his legs got caught behind the other and Theo fell with a yelp onto his back. By the time he pushed himself back up, one Ezra was fighting Steven while a second Ezra led the girl away. The first Ezra twisted Steven’s arm behind him and kicked him off his feet. Once down, the fluffy mascot suit became Steven’s prison until the rest of Theo’s team arrived.

Only after Steven was taken into custody and they returned to their training room did his seniors tell him their mission.

Find the one behind the recent kidnappings.

“We’re Fighters, not the police. Why are we doing this?” Theo asked.

“Apparently, you have a hidden talent in baiting out people they’re looking for. So expect more missions like this in the future,” Thomas said.

“But…”

“Theo,” Alan cut in with an envelop, “Here’s your pay for your mascot work and a letter of recommendation. If you ever decide to change your career, they’ll be happy to have you back. Well done.”

“Thank you, Captain.” He got paid to play around?

“Back to what you were saying. But?” Thomas prompted with a glint in his eyes.

“If the police needs our help then we should help them.”

Thomas laughed.

~End~

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Short Story: A Night In

Genre: romance, slice of life

When she was single, Valentines was just a holiday for other people. Then she became a girlfriend, and then a fiancee and soon after wife. Valentines became a convenient excuse to pamper each other.

Now she was a first-time mum, and Valentines was far from her mind. She just didn’t have the energy to go out for something fancy, especially since to do that, they first had to arrange for the baby to be taken care of while they were out.

The doorbell rang.

“I’ve got it,” her husband said.

Who could that be? They weren’t expecting visitors.

“Pizza’s here.”

“Pizza?”

“For our date. It’s Valentine’s. Going out is too tiring, so we’ll have our date at home.” Her husband smiled.

The doorbell rang again.

“I’ve got it.”

“We’re getting a lot of visitors for Valentines.”

“This should be the last one,” her husband said before opening the door. “Good. You’re here. Give me a few minutes. Bag’s over there.”

Her husband walked past her and picked up the baby before disappearing once more from her field of vision.

“Here you go.”

Wait what?

“Bye. Enjoy your date.” Their friends cheerfully waved from the door before disappearing with their baby.

“Did you just give our baby away?” she asked as her husband flopped onto the sofa beside her.

“Just until tomorrow. Can’t have a proper date when there’s a baby bomb about to go off any moment. Not that I don’t love the little guy, but sometimes…” He waved his hand in the air in a vague gesture. “So, honey, will you go on a date with me tonight?”

“What’s the plan?”

“All I’ve got so far is pizza and movies,” he said.

“Perfect.”

~End~

Short Story: Mnemonics

Genre: slice of life

 

Studying could be hard, but there were ways to make it easier. Mnemonics was one of them. By associating information with something else that made more intuitive sense, information could be remembered more easily.

“Ten bottles of fried chicken to lemon cow fly over my money,” her student muttered to himself as he wrote his answers down on the test paper. “Sick shoes have many grannies but lose patience.”

Well, no one said it had to make sense to everyone.

~End~

Genre: Tunnel Vision

Genre: slice of life, family

 

Don loved Cal. Really, he did. But his brother in everything but blood had the exasperating tendency to see only one solution to every situation and stick to it without considering other possibilities.

For the past half hour, Cal had wrestled with their clogged vacuum cleaner. He released any openings he could, shook the vacuum rod… and shook it some more when it still remained clogged.

“Try this.” Don handed Cal a stick.

“Thanks?”

Don switched tactics. He gestured for the vacuum rod. “Gimme.”

Using the stick, Don scrapped the inside of the vacuum rod. After some careful manoeuvring, he finally pushed out the dust clomps that had jammed the vacuum.

“Thanks, Don.”

“If that happens again, we keep this in the storeroom.”

“Got it.”

Well, they all had their flaws, but that was what family was for, right?

~End~

Short Story: A Date?

Genre: humour
Features characters from Mission Gone Wrong.

 

Theo looked at the outfit handed to him in bewilderment.

“Thanks?”

“Change. We’re going on a date,” Eileen said.

He turned red from head to toe.

“Excuse me?”

“Or am I not good enough?”

“What? No. No. Of course not.”

“Good. I’ll be in the other room.” Eileen grabbed her own outfit and left.

What just happened?

“Go on newbie.” Thomas turned him towards the changing room.

Still bewildered, Theo did what he was told. The outfit was smarter and more restrictive than he was used to, but it was just his size. He didn’t know how to feel about that.

When he emerged, the others were ready with their comments.

“Better than expected.”

“Relax. The clothes aren’t going to eat you.”

Theo naively thought the day couldn’t get any worse, then Eileen returned, dressed up like a goddess, and wrapped her arm around his.

“Let’s go.”

They walked arm in arm in the city. Eileen leading the way like a flower, Theo following like a bumbling bee.

How… Why… Huh……………..???????????????????

“Hey, sweetie, wait here for me a tick. I’ll be right back.” Eileen patted him on the cheek and left.

He kept thinking that the day couldn’t get any worse, and the day kept proving him wrong.

“You don’t deserve her!”

A man burst out of nowhere with a hammer. Caught off guard, Theo shattered the hammer and flipped the man down the street in self-defence.

“Well done.”

It turned out that their date was just a ruse and he was the bait for a serial attacker who had injured and killed men of all walks of life. The only common point that tied the victims together was the fact that they were all attacked while on a date with someone ‘above their league’.

“I knew you were perfect.” Thomas clapped Theo on the back.

“Do I at least get to keep the clothes?” Theo asked.

“Nope.”

He sighed. “Thought so.”

~End~

Short Story: A Creature of the Organization

Genre: general?

 

The organization considered him their creature. He didn’t care, as long as it didn’t affect his work.

Then they ordered him to offer his daughter to the organization.

He turned in his letter of resignation that day and sent his family ahead of him to someplace safe. In the weeks leading up to his formal resignation, he stayed on high alert. He’d heard enough rumours to be wary of what the organization might do to people like him.

Despite his caution, he was still caught off guard by a sedative slipped into his drink. When he woke, he was in the experiment he wanted his daughter for.

When he woke again, he was an amnesiac failed experiment, retained as a possession of the organization. He breathed, he ate, he did what he was told. He would have stayed there forever, content to go through the days without truly living, if a girl who looked like him hadn’t broken into his room.

“Hey Dad. I’m here to bring you home,” she said and pulled him out to the world.

~End~

 

With this challenge, I now know another meaning for creature.

A person or organization considered to be under the complete control of another.

Short Story: After the Adventure

Genre: slice of life

 

He looked down at the rock in his hand with a puzzled frown.

“What’s this?”

She grinned. “If you figure it out, it’s yours.”

Well, it wasn’t like he had anything else to do.

Borrowing his younger-but-older great-nephew-uncle’s tool shed, he tinkered with the lump in between random visits from the people he travelled with on his now completed quest. Even with his leisurely pace, it didn’t take him long to find out what the lump was.

“Aluminium ore,” he said.

“Correct. What about this?” She handed him another unknown lump.

So began their new routine. Some took longer than others, but he took pride in the fact that he always found the answer in the end.

Somewhere between his ninth and fourteenth challenge, someone else approached him for help in identifying something that was found in an inherited attic. He treated it like just another challenge, and returned the item with his best guest on what it was.

After that, word must have spread, because more people started presenting him with items to identify. Some even travelled to pay him for his service.

Before he knew it, he was running a full-time business. But he still made sure to make time for her latest challenge.

“Bituminous limestone,” he said to the dark rock in her hand, identifying it in a glance.

“Correct.” She smiled and put it in his hand. “It’s yours. And that’s it from me. I don’t have anything left for you.”

She turned away from him to fiddle with some leaves. He slipped the limestone into one of his many pockets.

“How do you feel about your life?” she asked.

“No complaints.”

“Do you feel like you have something to look forward to?”

He thought about the work waiting for him back at his workshop.

“Yes.”

From the side, he saw her smile.

“That’s good. We were all worried about you, you know? You lived so long for one purpose. We were scared you would stop living once you finished your quest. I’m glad you found something new.”

For the first time, the thought struck him that her challenges had been more than just a friendly game between them.

He reached into a pocket and pulled out the first thing he found.

“Your turn.” He took her hand and flipped it palm up. “If you identify it, it is yours.”

She grinned.

“Challenge accepted.”

~End~

 

Short Story: Like Fighting Glass

Genre: fantasy
Features the team from Mission Gone Wrong.

 

Theo was many things. Eager, clumsy, strong, naive, but he wasn’t tardy. So when he didn’t arrive fifteen minutes after their scheduled meet up time, they left the training room without hesitation to search for their newest member.

They found him locked in a storeroom outside the Department of Defense building, looking equal parts embarrassed and sorry for himself.

“Hi?”

“What happened?”

In hesitant bits and pieces, Theo told them the story of how a group of delinquents cornered and robbed him before locking him in the storeroom.

“Your super strength isn’t just for fighting monsters. You’re allowed to defend yourself too,” Ezra said, voice sharp with indignation on Theo’s behalf.

“No. I get it,” Thomas said, “It’s different for you, Ezra, but the rest of us… Fighting normal people is hard. It’s like fighting glass. One wrong move and they shatter. It’s good that the newbie held back. He’s not trained to fight with normal people.”

Thomas’ lips stretched into a cold smile. “But we are. Who are these delinquents?”

That evening, four young men were found mysteriously tied in ribbons like a giant present at the doorstep of the police department. Along with boxes of stolen items.

The next day, Theo began his special training sessions with glass.

~End~

Short Story: Mismatched Methodology

Genre: action

 

In everything he did, he was meticulous. Even in a game, he preferred to take down his opponents with finesse and strategy.

The rest of his guild liked to jump straight in and bulldoze their way through with brute force.

Someone cackled as he called up a massive fire storm against the fire-resistant enemies. Someone else was impaled after turning his back on an unexpectedly sturdy enemy.

With a long suffering sigh, he cast his support skills over the other members to save them from themselves.

He needed a new guild.

~End~

 

 

 

Short Story: Between One Blink and the Next

Short story: fantasy

 

One day, without warning, his surroundings kept changing. He begin at the dinner table at home, then between one blink and the next, he was in a forest, on a beach, next to a tiger…

It took a frustratingly long time for him to link the sudden location changes to his blinks. He couldn’t keep his eyes open forever, but he could keep them closed. The thought of being blind in an unknown place was terrifying, but at least he could stay in one place long enough to do something. And if he needed to escape, freedom was just one blink away.

With his sight out of commission, he relied on his ears to hear for people. All he needed was one piece of information.

“Where am I?”

The first few dozen times, he wasn’t even in his own country. Rather than try to figure out all the legal requirements he would need to travel back without his passport on him, he blinked until he appeared in his country. Only then did he contact his family.

“How did you go all the way there?” his parents asked after the initial flurry of panicked questions. Just to keep the conversation going until the relative closest to him arrived to pick him up.

“I blinked,” he said.

“What?”

“I’ll explain later.”

~End~

Isabel Caves

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