Writers' Café

For those times in life when you need to have a serious talk.

Re: Writers' Café

Postby helios » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:20 am

It's been a long time. Maybe too long.

Andreas was being an ass, and the two of them were arguing. Not that this was at all unusual, but it was worth mentioning, given how it was making Eric feel.
“Seriously? That's what you think? You can have girls over any time you want,but I can't? You can do it on my bed, without even telling me they're gonna be here, but I get a lecture for not telling you I was helping Marisol with her homework?” he asked, anger fueling his uncharacteristic assertiveness.
“Dude, that's totally not the point! She stayed the night! You should have fucking told me!” Andreas was also uncharacteristically livid. Usually, he didn't care what Eric did.
“You were out of town! 'Fucking bitches and getting pissed', or whatever you said you were doing at your friends party.” Eric spat out the sexist line Andreas used so often.
“So? She shouldn't have been in my bed! That's my fucking bed, you fucking cock!”Andreas loomed over Eric, not an easy feat, given Eric was 6' 2”, and hada good five inches on Andreas in bare feet.
“I cleaned the damn sheets! Which is more than you did when you did Mandy, or Candice, or Penny in mine last week!” He yelled back.
“That fucking does it!” Andreas roared. He lunged forward, and grabbed Eric's shirt front. Eric heard a tear, as one of the seams began to give way. Andreas began pulling Eric in the direction of the door. “Get the hell out of my room.”
He turned slightly, and pointed at Marisol, sitting on Eric's bed, unnerved more than a little by the yelling.
“You too, bitch. Get the fuck out.” He guestured with his free hand. Eric froze. He felt Andreas tug at his shirt, trying to force Eric and Marisol out. When Eric didn't move, Andreas turned back to face him.
“Well? What are you waiting for? OUT!” He yelled, tugging, trrying to pull Eric off balance.
Eric stopped thinking.
Just for a moment, he lost something. Not control. He kept control. He could feel the utter control he had, as his arm swept around over Andreas', breaking the shorter man's grip. He knew exactly what he was doing, as his leg flicked out, cracking into Andreas' knee. He could have stopped himself so easily, before his other arm jabbed forward, the heel of the palm slamming into Andreas' elbow, bending his arm in a way it surely was not meant to go. But he hadn't.
A moment of clarity. A perfect moment of clarity. Everything else disappeared. For that moment, there had been no dormroom, no argument, no worried Steve The RA beginning to peek his head through the door. There was only Andreas threatening Marisol, and Eric doing something about it.
Andreas moaned from the floor, breaking that perfect, terrifiying moment for Eric. He looked down at his hands. They were shaking. Steve's questions echoed slightly in his ears, as the sound of his heartbeat threatened to drown out everything, including his sight. It was Marisol's voice that brought him back down, like a dry twig snapping beside his ear.
“...And then Andreas started yelling, and he grabbed Eric, and then he yelled at me, and then he tried to throw us out of the room. And I actually mean throw, like, physically.” She said, half-guesturing with her hands, in a manner that suggested it was little more than a distraction to stop her own shaking hands. “And then Eric pushed Andreas away, or tripped him, or broke his arm, or something.”
“Oh shit. I should not have done that.”

Eric nudged open one of the trashy magazines that lay on the waiting room coffee table. It was long since past its read-by-date, and he didn't care at all about what it contained, but it was something to look at, and moving his eyes kept his mind busy.
Not for the first time since Andreas had been admitted, Eric found himself wishing he'd grabbed his waiting bag rather than his classes bag when he'd dashed out to to go to the hospital with Steve and Andreas.
Marisol sat down beside him, balancing too many items in her almost-too-small hands. He looked up, and made a move to help. But a look from her told him everything he needed to know.
“I got us coffee.” She said, her voice light and slightly, nigh-imperceptibly quavering, like the light from a flourescent bulb.
Steve looked up from the crossword he was doing. The one Eric had already solved in his head. Steve reached out, and grabbed one of the coffees, and handed it to Eric, taking the second for himself.
Eric drank in slightly quavering silence. Marisol and Steve talked over Eric. Not about much. It was probably best they kept the talk fluffy. Steve was good at knowing how to talk to people.
Eventually, Steve needed to suck out, “to use the thunderbox”, as he said, in his rough australian accent.
Eric and Marisol sat in silence. For a while. Eventually, Eric managed to speak.
“I'm sorry.” he said, his words sounding oddly echoey in the almost empty waiting room. “I should have told him, or I should have slept on the floor, or I-” He said, beginning to build up momentum, until Marisol stopped him with a finger to his lips. Clichéd, but it worked.
“Eric. It's okay. You lost control. It happens.” She brushed some hair out of her eyes, and turned back to the tiny tv screen that was playing dated daytime television soaps.“And anyway, Andreas was asking for it.”
They sat in silence for a while, again, the little TV blaring its pointless drama out into the uncaring room.
“I didn't lose control.” Eric muttered. “I knew what I was doing.” He pulled his legs up, and swung his arms around them, hugging them tight.
He stared at the table.
He felt arms around his shoulders, a small, comforting warmth. He felt the familier prick in the corner of his eyes, and the aching tug at the back of his throat.
“I shouldn't have hit him. I shouldn't've. I shouldn't've.” He said, leaning into Marisol's arms, tears beginning.
“Shhh.” Marisol muttered, not quite sure what else to do. “It's okay. It's okay.”
Marisol's embrace tightened slowly, as Eric shut down more and more. By the time Steve returned, to let them know Andreas was okay, and wouldn't be pressing charges, Eric wasn't even speaking English.
“Jeg beklager. Jeg beklager.”was all that he was saying. Marisol didn’t understand, but she didn't let go.
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Re: Writers' Café

Postby Owen » Thu May 12, 2011 6:44 pm

Something started and need to finish (originally for 'The Art of Writing' contest, but look how well that went):

A runaway thing; flighty, unreliable. Upstart magic. Graffiti signs palmed hurriedly onto brickwork by practised hands - enough, perhaps, to stumble a pursuer (their feet catching on some invisible block) or to signal 'friends' to the right eyes. The street language of the disenfranchised taken on new power, or old power taken on new language. Nobody is sure.
It's not something you can write down, though he tries anyway. He has come to be known around here, if not accepted, and the friendlier ones make time for him, show him their knack; they are strangely shy, as if embarrassed to show off such childish tricks. A quick flick, a twist of the fingers through some not-quite-possible configuration – what rough intent thus exhibited receiving breath, if only for an instant. PNEUMOS, he writes, aware that this word will likely do him no good, has never crossed the minds of these people.
Problem? Thoughts on how to improve the forum? Hit the suggestions thread!
Truth is stranger than fiction, strange is what I do...
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Re: Writers' Café

Postby Seamus O'Seamus » Tue May 31, 2011 4:34 am

Owen, I must know more. Tell me. Show me more!

In the meantime, Unstoppable Part 5.
Warren felt his knees begin to wobble. The meaningless headlines drooped downward as the newspaper slipped from his fingers; he tightened his grasp and leaned against the newspaper stand.
“You alright?” The newspaper vendor took enough time away from gnawing on his cigar to grumble the question at Warren.
Warren squeezed his eyes shut and massaged his right temple viciously; after a moment he responded.
“I’ll be fine.”
The vendor leaned back into the kiosk without a word. He sat down, glanced at the offensively cheap box of cigars that his cousin had dumped at his house that last Saturday, and poked his head out the front of the kiosk again to ask the big guy in the jacket if he wanted one. That big guy in the jacket was gone, however.
Warren had to resist the urge to jump into the sky as he walked away from the kiosk. There was a strange feeling in his heels and knees, a kind of elastic tension. It was an easy escape, the quickest way to seek quiet and solitude. It would also be a good way to attract attention. He resisted the urge to fly, walking until he saw a bus stop. Warren sat on the bench, closed his eyes again and tried to get a good grasp on things.
Alright, he thought. I was in a coma for a little bit. Nothing special, just a quick nap that turned me into a physical god. He opened his eyes. Despite the heat, he felt a significant chill. A god. That’s how superheroes had been described before: Lead-Man, General Maximum, The Guardian. Gods.
But it was other people who called them gods, people who had witnessed their power firsthand. What sort of person called himself a physical god? Answer: the same sort of person who declared their intention to carve their face on the moon.
A bus rolled by, a colorful advertisement for gray-tasting food plastered on the side. Warren watched it and could hear every drop of gasoline splashing in the tank, every particle as it burned in the engine. He decided he couldn’t take the heat anymore, and took the jacket off. After realizing he would need to buy a lot of antiperspirant, Warren took another look at the crumpled newspaper.
Immediately he saw something he hadn’t before. Directly beneath the title, in much smaller lettering: Circulation: 600,000. Port De Soto, Florida.
Florida. He checked one thing off the to-figure-out list. Now, where in Florida? He hadn’t been able to place the coast he had seen.
Wait, could anyone place a coast just by looking at it? He spent a few moments seriously considering it before deciding it was irrelevant. Warren flipped through the newspaper, looking for a map. Reading through the entire paper three times yielded nothing.
He stood and turned towards where he had walked from. When he reached the kiosk again, he asked the vendor for a map.
“A map? Of what?” The man asked.
“The city. I’m, uh. New. In town, I mean.”
The vendor grumbled something in reply and reached under a stack of newspapers, retrieving a small pile of glossy maps.
“Here,” he said, handing one to Warren. “They’re old, so it’s on the house. Say, you want a cig--”
Warren thanked him and walked away, tucking the newspaper under his arm. He unfolded the map, scanning. In the bottom-right corner he saw a square with a diagram of Florida inside it; a red dot indicated that Port De Soto was on the state’s southwestern coast. It didn’t really help—he had never been to Florida before—but he felt that it would be better to know than not to.
The next thing to catch his eye was the map key just above that diagram. Blue squares indicated police stations, and the map was practically littered with them. Finding one wouldn’t be difficult. Walking inside and explaining his situation would be.
He checked the street he was on: Sendero Avenue. The 14th Precinct wasn’t far. He looked at the map again to find the fastest walking route.
You can fly.
Warren shut his eyes, annoyed with himself. He folded the map up and put it in his pocket, then began looking for a good alley to duck into.
The cell phone rang, buzzing across the marble countertop. She muted the TV and grabbed the phone, checking the number as she slid it open. Or, she tried to check the number; it was restricted. A solitary “N” was the only indication to who was calling.
“Hello?” Margarid said.
“Thunder.” The voice was familiar and distant at the same time. It was built for one-on-one conversation and used for sweeping speeches.
“Mayor Nikkels,” she said curtly, slipping into the toneless voice she used in her alter ego. “What do you need?” She knew he’d speak in circles if she made small talk. He seemed to hate it.
“Thunder, you were at the armored car thing.” It wasn’t much of a question.
“Yes.” She’d become familiar with these kinds of calls. Knowing how to answer correctly was key.
“When’d you get there?” he asked.
“Just as it was ending. Well, it may have ended because I got there.”
“Right. And did you see him?”
She knew whom he was referring to. He hadn’t been in the newspapers or on TV. No one had gotten any pictures of him; Margarid guessed it was because they were in awe.
“Yeah, I did. I couldn’t tell you anything about him though.”
“No idea where he came from? No idea who he was?” Nikkels pressed on.
“Well,” Nikkels paused; Margarid could faintly hear the strained sound of his breathing over the phone. “I’ve spoken with Cross Country. He told me that our mystery Pajama Man didn’t know anything about the Police Contract.”
“Yeah, that’s what he told me. Expected the cops to come in and help him.” She bit her lip, wondering if Nikkels would object to her calling them cops.
“So he’s not from around here. Interesting.” If he was offended, he didn’t sound it. She suddenly remembered how informally he had spoken when she had met him in private for the first time; thinking about that meeting, she decided that saying ‘cops’ instead of ‘police’ probably hadn’t bothered him.
“Anyway,” Nikkels continued. “I just wanted to ask if you knew anything about him. Have to keep up to date, after all.”
“Yeah.” She knew that Nikkels’ idea of “keeping up” wasn’t as innocent as he would’ve liked it to sound.
“And before I hang up, how about that armored car thing, eh?”
“What about it?” Margrid asked.
“First time you, Cross Country, and The Dancer have worked together in a while. Got a name for the team yet?”
“Goodbye, Mister Mayor.” Margarid slid the phone shut. The cell phone she used as Thunder was different from her normal one. It was newer, first of all, and its microphone was custom-made to withstand her voice. The number was encrypted as a precaution. She hadn’t found that feature very useful yet, especially because she had given Nikkels the number. That, though, was because she had a feeling he would have found it on his own otherwise.
I’m not lost. Just taking a detour. Warren looked up at the building in front of him. He had, for the most part, followed the map closely. The 14th Precinct was just a few blocks away. He didn’t even have to fly there. But, he had noticed something on the map on his way there. It wasn’t anything more than a name and a caption, but it was enough.
The International Superhero Museum. How could he resist?
He couldn’t, but the rules could. The museum was closed. No reason was listed, and no information was given, other than the promise that it would be open again soon.
Warren stared at the sign, annoyed. The date stamped on it was from early 2008. He looked back up at the building, wondering what had to be inside. Maybe it was for the best. He had more important things to do. No time for distractions.
Yet…he looked towards the roof. There could be a way in from there. He could fly, after all. He looked up and down the street.
Thirty seconds later Warren touched down inside the building, landing as softly as he could. He checked the ceiling; no cameras. There were cloth sheets covering rectangular shapes all around the room. Curious, he reached towards one and pulled it off. The heavy cloth hit the stone floor with a muffled thump.
“Oh, wow,” Warren couldn’t keep himself from speaking. His voice echoed through the room, but he didn’t care. He was staring at Boudica’s sword.
Hardly able to contain his excitement, Warren rushed forward to read the display on the side of the glass case. The description was a little disappointing, as it was nothing he didn’t already know. Boudica had used the sword, a massive two-handed blade, for six years before donating it to the museum after killing Mister Perfection with it.
He turned away from the sword, remembering how he had saved every article he could find about Boudica and the New Smashers back in the day. They were better than the comics, the impossible images and grandiose fantasy holding so much more power because there was no exaggeration, no added details. It was real.
He pulled the cover off another exhibit, this one the helmet of the Laughing Dragon. The right side of the metal face was caved in, exposed wires mingling with steel scales. Warren remembered being transfixed, staring at the television as S.A.R.G.O.N. tackled Laughing Dragon on the steps of the Capitol Building.
Warren turned, pulled another cover off, and another, and another. He recognized everything, every weapon and every gadget and every trophy the heroes had taken over the years. All the names were as familiar to him as his own, all the events as fresh as if they had happened yesterday.
When he had inspected everything, he prepared to move on. There was only one exhibit left in the room, and the name wasn’t familiar to him. He spared a minute to take a look nevertheless.
The marble pedestal was a few inches taller than the others, but there was no glass case on top of it. The marker told him nothing: “The Praying Mantis’ hook swords.”
He vaguely recognized the name. He couldn’t imagine what hook swords were. What was more, there was nothing atop the pedestal.
“Must have wanted them back,” Warren muttered.
Remember our bargain, wizard.

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Tales from the Menagerie: Fiction Magazine

Postby TheDancingFox » Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:51 am

Moved from McGeneral Discussion - Owen

I figured I'd jump into the forums to mention something I'm doing, as it seems a place where I'd find a good bit of interest for a project of mine! I am currently in the process of producing a pulp fiction magazine, Tales from the Menagerie. Not yet underway, first issue planned to be released in September.

We will be printing mostly short fiction stories, intending to evoke the spirit of the old pulp magazines from earlier days. When we say pulp, we use it very generally, referring really to any genre fiction: Sci-fi, fantasy, noir, western, steampunk, whatever. Each issue of Tales from the Menagerie will also contain an installment of the serial comic, Aviary: The Adventures of Three Bullet Sign. At the moment, it will be sold in a .pdf format, and we will begin selling print copies once the magazine is established.

While I say mostly short fiction, we will really run nearly anything: we're interested in really unusual submissions. Stories are great, stories which we have to run in multiple issues (which is to say, stories which are over about a dozen pages) are also good especially if they have a good cliffhanger cut in the middle. Art is fantastic in many forms, for a story or stand alone or combined with flash fiction in the style of Keith Thompson (http://www.keiththompsonart.com/pages/viraemia.html). We're even open to things which would seem impossible to put in a magazine, we're experimenting. Music, for example. Because there will be some bonus content available to people who subscribe instead of just buying individual issues, there are places for such submissions.

We WILL be paying contributors if we choose to run your story! This is an opportunity to become an actual produced and paid author, on a small independent scale. (Also, when we pay you for your contribution, we are paying to run it, ONCE, not to buy any kind of rights to it. You retain all rights to your work whether we choose to run it or not, we just get to run it in one particular issue, and we will go over all the details with you personally regarding paying and the like before publishing.)

We have more information on the website here, including where to send us a story, and our guidelines for submissions. I expect there'll be some interested folks here.
Writer? Artist? Creative something or other of any kind whatsoever? Fiction Magazine Tales from the Menagerie is always looking for contributions.
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Re: Writers' Café

Postby Seamus O'Seamus » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:33 am

Looks awesome! I'll have to see if I can think of something I want to send in.

This here is a short thing based off an event I mentioned in the latest installment of Unstoppable. It stars some minor characters from The XYZ Affair, but doesn't affect that story or Unstoppable (very much)
He hit the ground hard, dirt and sky mixing into one as he skidded forward. No sound, save a few of his own grunts and the mild, indescribable noises dirt and rocks made as they were moved. When he came to a stop, he didn't move; consciousness came back to him in bursts. He almost didn't want to get up. For the first time in years, he was conscious of pain. Real, nauseating, blinding pain.
His sight was blurry. His ears, ringing. Surely, he could stop struggling for a moment. He could take a rest and let things run their course. Just for once, once in his entire miserable life, he could take himself out of the equation and let the machinery work on its own. Yes, he would like that.
Then he heard a footstep and knew he couldn't rest. Not now, not ever, not for one millisecond. He balled his hands—aching, throbbing, broken—into fists as he heard another step. Pushed himself up, onto his knees. Another step. A rib or two cut into his side as he looked skyward. If I can just kick off, get in the air…
A kick buried itself ferociously in his spine and he was pushed back to the ground, back into the dirt and the grass and rock. A foot pressed down, constricting his torso. He didn't scream. He didn't have the energy left.
"Where…" he sputtered. He didn't know what he was asking. He could just barely see the building far ahead of him. There was an importance attached to it that he couldn't fully grasp then.
A hand reached down and grabbed him by the hair, lifting him high up in the air. He made a feeble attempt to break the hold with the one arm that still worked properly.
"Where?" A face appeared before him, with skin uniformly the color of a bruise. "Where?" It asked again, indignantly. "Here!"
The hand shifted, letting go of his hair and wrapping steely fingers around his neck. It lifted him even higher in the air, forced him to look across the field.
"They're dead, Guardian!"
He saw death, violence, shattered remains. The Gun lay on the ground in a pool of blood and coolant, his breathing apparatus halfway torn from his chest. S.A.R.G.O.N, decapitated nearby. EpiCenter didn't move, one knee snapped backwards. Blood dripped from beneath Blaine's torn wolf's pelt; untouchable Maxwell's cane was broken and jutting out of his back. Boudica didn't move, her torso facing one direction and her legs facing the opposite. Her sword was just inches out of reach.
And when he looked inward he saw himself, The Guardian, dressed up in tones of blue and yellow with a flowing heroic cape. He saw that costume torn, bones broken, will shattered by the eight-foot tall nightmare holding him aloft.
That nightmare called himself Mister Perfection. He threw the Guardian again, watching as he landed in a heap. Mister Perfection marched closer, showing no intention of stopping what he had started.
Guardian didn't struggle to get up. He didn't bother trying to stand, knowing that the monster would only crush him again. He waited.
Footsteps told him where Perfection was. He waited, bracing himself…
Mister Perfection raised his foot.
Guardian kicked off the ground, shooting into the air at twice the speed of sound. It was the fastest he'd ever flown. He reached an altitude of two hundred feet and spun in the air, aiming himself at the nightmare. He had to stay in the air, that was all. If he stayed in the air then Mister Perfection couldn't touch him. He flew faster, feeling every muscle screaming. Perfection looked over his shoulder, unable to react in time. That was one area where he wasn't perfect.
Guardian flipped, twisting so his feet faced Perfection rather than flying head-on. He kicked out with his right leg when he was a dozen feet above him, flew even faster to deliver a kick that would have cut a battleship in two to Perfection's spine.
Perfection stumbled slightly. Beneath the dented golden armor and torn tunic, his skin hadn't even been cut. Guardian looped around and threw a supersonic punch to Perfection's jaw. A grunt of annoyance and nothing more. He flew a short distance away and came back, mindful of the building behind him and remembering why he couldn't let Perfection reach it. He zoomed back towards Perfection, arms and fists outstretched.
Perfection held his mammoth palm out and wrapped it around Guardian's head, stopping him dead in the air. The force of Guardian's flight pushed him backward, tearing through the lawn, but couldn't knock him down.
"Dead, Guardian! Dead!"
He squeezed, blocking out all air, all light. Guardian felt panic set in and tried to tear Perfection's hand off his face; laughter was his only response. It occurred to him that one could learn a lot about a monster by their laugh. There was KillJoy's callous wheeze, a sound that existed only to mock law and morality. There was Laughing Dragon's low, constant chuckle, the product of a man tampering with power and overjoyed with what he found. And there was Mister Perfection's short, quick, bursts of laughter. Laughter that was confident, that had expected to win, but was still overjoyed when it did.
Guardian couldn't breath, could only catch glimpses of Mister Perfection laughing at him as he crushed his skull.
Not like this, he thought. The white building across the lawn flashed into his mind. Don't kill me like this…
His arms went limp as Perfection tightened his grip for the last time. Guardian felt cracking, saw starbursts of light in his vision.
Then the grip was released and he could see again, just barely. He fell to the ground and saw the White House for a moment.
There was the sound of an ending struggle above him. Somewhere he found the energy to lift himself up, and what he saw reminded him that Mister Perfection wasn't the only one with a healing factor.
Perfection stood, knees trembling, disbelief on his face for the first time in his life. Boudica's sword was plunged through his chest.
"Dead," she growled, and twisted the blade.
Remember our bargain, wizard.

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Re: Writers' Café

Postby Seamus O'Seamus » Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:59 am

Unstoppable Part 6. Yes, it's still going.

It was dark when he left. He didn’t notice immediately, worrying that he had left footprints in the marble when he took off. A quick glance told him that he did, but they were fairly indistinct and probably wouldn’t be noticed unless someone put a pool table on the spot.
He realized it was night and floated in the air above the museum for a moment, staring in awe at the city. By day, the city was mostly gray, all the colors of life concentrated at the street-level and dwarfed by the endless skyscrapers. By night, Port De Soto transformed itself. Each of those skyscrapers blazed with light, pushing the darkness away. Growing up in a small town—and being unable to fly—Warren had never seen anything like it.
At least, he thought it had been a small town. He didn’t remember any sights like this. A cool breeze brought him back to reality, and he realized how long he’d been in the museum; somewhere in the area of six or seven hours. Where was he going again? The precinct. He retrieved the map from his pocket and checked the path again, touching down on the sidewalk and hoping that no one saw him.
Warren stopped outside the station, peeking through the glass door. A solitary officer, maybe a little younger than he was, sat at a desk just inside the building, writing. Realizing how suspicious he must have looked, Warren pushed the door open and stepped inside.
The officer looked up at him.
“How can I help you?” he asked.
“Well,” Warren took an awkward step forward, stopping in front of the desk. Now that he was here, he had no idea what to say. Help, I think I’m missing? “Have any, um.”
The officer stared at him, tapping a short pencil on the desk.
“Uhhh…” Warren scratched the back of his neck, avoiding the officer’s stare. “Okay, first, hi.”
“Hi,” the officer said cautiously. “Is there…anything I can help you with?”
“Yeah,” Warren said. “See, it’s…well, huh.” He laughed, embarrassed. “I’m sorry, it’s, I know it’s really late, and I’m being, I mean…”
“Sir,” the officer said. Warren looked at him dutifully. “Is there an emergency?”
“That’s the thi—kinda, yeah, but not…”
“Does it require direct, immediate attention?” The officer asked.
“I suppose not…”
“In short, can it wait until the morning?”
Warren looked away from the officer. “Yeah.”
“Go get some rest, sir. Collect your thoughts.”
“Got it,” Warren said as he walked out. He looked over his shoulder at the station as he walked away. Had he really blown it that badly? He must have, if he was now sitting on a cold bus stop bench waiting for something to go right. Then again, things didn’t ‘go’ their way on their own, did they? Everything was a choice, and he always had to find some way to make the wrong one.
Let’s spend six hours in the museum, he thought, laughing in despair and slapping his hand over his eyes. Let’s do that. It’s not like anything important is happening, is it?
And it wasn’t like he could go back to the police station. He had already made a fool of himself in front of that officer—someone whose job was to help him as best he could—and said he wouldn’t come back until the morning. That all-too-familiar apprehension came to him. Judgment, annoyance, derision. He knew the cycle well.
Fricking moron. Why can’t you talk to people? Warren looked at the night sky, breathing deeply. When he was angry, he talked to himself. His mental voice became accusing, all-knowing, with hindsight that was always 20-20. It was a habit derived from years of not voicing his anger, and it only served to make him feel worse.
So he stopped thinking for a moment, or tried to. He let the night air blow over him. It was hot and humid, a constant reminder that he was not from here. He bundled the jacket up and set it on his lap. A hundred dollars were weighing down his pocket and he didn’t know what to do with them. He closed his eyes and took another deep breath.
He wasn’t sure how long it was before a car rolled by and forced him to open his eyes. Warren looked around. He needed a place to stay, for the night at least. And he couldn’t stay with Roger, now that he thought about it. He had already done much more than he had asked for. No, he had to find his own place to stay. Wearily, trying not to think about the situation, he began looking for a hotel on the map.
“Now that’s interesting,” The Dancer muttered, looking towards the sky. Framed between the walls of the alleyway, she saw a man, or something shaped like a man, flying through the air in a smooth arc. In the blink of an eye it, or he, was gone.
She wondered if she had imagined it. If she hadn’t yawned and turned her head towards the opening of the alley beforehand, she wouldn’t have seen it at all.
“Whash intrissing?” asked the mugger whose face she had mashed against the brick wall of the alley. He didn’t bother trying to break the arm-lock she had him in. He had been in a few before.
“Hush, you,” The Dancer said. She retrieved a pre-cut length of cord from her belt and tied it around his wrists. After kneeing him in the back and letting him fall to the ground unconscious, she pulled her grapple gun from its holster. She unscrewed the trumpet-shaped muzzle, dropped a red cartridge down the barrel, and screwed a square muzzle onto the gun. She fired a flare in the air and waited for it to detonate, watching the bright red bits of light drift downwards. Once the light had subsided, she put the original muzzle back on the gun and fired a grapple at the roof of the building to her right.
She could have just called the number that Nikkels had given her. The flares were an inefficient and impersonal way of attracting the police to the low-profile criminals she captured, after all. She could also toe the line like a dull little girl.
The gun brought her to the roof, its engine working furiously. She holstered the gun and looked back toward the sky, thinking about what she had seen in the alley. To her astonishment, it was still there. The silhouette—she could see now that it was definitely a man—was flying lazily in a straight line, away from her.
“Well well,” she said, smiling and preparing a new grapple line. “Just where are you going, friend?”
Warren crashed into the bed, noticing with some annoyance the degree to which it rocked under his weight. He couldn’t tell if that was him or the bed; either way, it would make sleeping difficult. He lay there, staring at the ceiling, and decided that he didn’t really like the room. The motel nearest to the 14th Precinct proclaimed itself to be great in big neon letters, but refused to divulge exactly how many stars it had earned. It was cheap, though, and that was what was important. And since it was so close to the police station, he wouldn’t have any trouble commuting.
But you can fly. He rubbed his forehead, annoyed again. Distance didn’t really matter, no. But, he didn’t have a lot of money, and fifty dollars a night was probably the most he could spend and live with himself. And, if worse came to worse, he could sleep on top of a building again.
Rooftops don’t have waterbeds, though, he thought, getting comfortable and remembering how sore his back had felt after a night of sleeping on concrete. And motel rooms don’t have gargoyles. He hadn’t been a fan of the gargoyles watching over him as he slept, as paranoid as he already was. There really were too many of them in this city.
As Warren tried to sleep, a young woman with black hair and a dancer’s frame bought the room next to his for the night.
Remember our bargain, wizard.

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Re: Writers' Café

Postby Seamus O'Seamus » Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:43 am

Look, look, triple post!

The alarm clock began its frenzied dance across the nightstand. Groggily, The Dancer reached from under the bed covers and turned it off. There would be no usage of the snooze button; snooze was the path to laziness. She sat up and rubbed the sleep from her eyes, remembering the Slurpee she had downed around two in the morning and had neglected to do sit-ups to compensate for. Getting out of bed, she recalled the carjacker she had roundhoused and decided that it probably didn’t matter.
The motel room’s carpet felt dirty under her feet as she padded towards the closet. She checked the safe there, opening it using her room key. Her jumpsuit—light blue with dark blue diamonds running down the sides—and her belt were both there. The gun, its gold trim gleaming slightly in the morning light, and its holster were there too. With a satisfactory nod she retrieved the lot from the safe and shut it.
She tossed the bundle on the motel bed, double-checking to make sure that the blinds were shut. She really should’ve checked before she retrieved her costume, but she hadn’t. She remembered closing them the night before, after all. She had snuck out around midnight and gone back on patrol, breaking up a few fights, intercepting a truck full of stolen car parts, and striking the boy behind the counter at the 7-11 speechless when she winked at him in the middle of her Slurpee. After that, it was back to the motel. But she still should have double-checked.
She hit the floor and began doing push-ups. It was disturbingly easy to break routine, she realized. Her list of rules was demanding, but not very long. She hadn’t had any trouble adhering to it for a long time…so why now?
The Dancer stopped the push-ups and moved into a handstand, beginning a repetition of vertical press-ups. She knew why she was distracted, really. She was thinking about him. The mystery man.
She switched to one-handed vertical press-ups and became annoyed when they presented no challenge. A backflip brought her to her feet and she began stretching. The right side of her abdomen was always stiff during these exercises. She didn’t need to glance down to know that it was the scar, three inches of light crimson stretching diagonally down her stomach, that caused it.
She had good reason to think about him, of course. There hadn’t been anyone like him in Port De Soto—heck, in the entire world—since she was eleven. He had come from nowhere. He hadn’t seemed to know about the Police Contract. Most importantly, he was handsome.
And that was why she followed him. When she finally did talk to him, she wouldn’t mention that, of course. “Oh, trade secret,” she’d coo when he asked how she found him.
That, though, would have to wait until she actually did find him. She looked back at the clock and read its face for the first time.
“Aw crap,” she muttered, seeing that it was 12:30 and realizing she had managed to sleep through four hours of the alarm beeping. He was probably long gone.

Warren was long gone, though not far away. Nervousness woke him a few minutes before the alarm clock did, and he left the motel quickly. Now he stood outside the police station again, looking at the glass doors and wondering if he should go inside.
Of course I should go inside, he thought. He had to. Warren pushed the door open, not giving himself any time to doubt.
There was a different officer at the desk. That was good; he had a fresh start now. He glanced up at Warren momentarily before looking back at his notebook.
“Excuse me,” Warren said, stepping up to the desk. The officer put his pencil down and looked him in the eye. “I need to file a missing person report. Uh, actual—“
“What’s the name of the missing person?” The officer interrupted, retrieving a notepad from a drawer.
“Actually, that’s the thing, I think there might already be a report,” Warren said, quickly becoming aware of how dumb he sounded. The officer squinted slightly, puzzled.
“I’m sorry, sir, can I get your name?” The officer asked, twirling the pencil.
“Yeah, uh, I’m Warr—“ Warren stopped, hearing something. He concentrated slightly, unsure of why he was paying attention to it.
“Explosion…gas leak…Stay calm!...fire department…Fourth and Wovoka…”
The officer asked Warren if something was wrong. Or, rather, he tried to, as when he finished the question he was left talking to thin air and a pile of shattered glass that had been the entrance to the police station.
Warren was in the air, flying towards the scene. He had realized that he was unwittingly listening in on a 911 call, heard the operator trying to calm a frantic caller. He knew he could do something, whatever was happening. Moreover, he knew that Fourth and Wovoka was the junction he had awoken under two days before.
He didn’t know how long it was until he arrived. He smelled the smoke before he saw it, a thick black cloud pluming from the ground. He concentrated and suddenly he could see the ground, flames billowing around cars. Screaming fire engines plowed their way down the same street that police cruisers had chased an armored car on before.
Warren grimaced when he heard screams coming from the street. He was fast approaching the smoke cloud; if he didn’t change course soon, he’d find himself caught in the middle of it. The screaming, human and siren, continued. Warren eyed the flames with apprehension, felt fear grip his stomach. He grit his teeth and flew straight down, towards the inferno.
The smoke seemed to part as he flew towards it. He wasn’t sure if that was because of some air current or because of the speed at which he was flying. He also realized that the smoke only got darker as he soared towards the ground; that meant it was thicker. It wouldn’t clear out as easily.
He slowed his flight when he could see the flames without concentrating. They contrasted hellishly against the pitch-black smoke, blocking out the daylight.
Warren hit the ground hard, leaving cracks in the asphalt beneath him. He quickly stood, noticing that he wasn’t sweating. His eyes weren’t watering. He felt the heat, smelled the smoke, but it didn’t bother him. He began to wonder why the humidity had gotten to him…
No time! Go! Warren charged into the fire, instinctively throwing his arms over his head to protect himself. Flames licked at his clothing and he felt patches of his skin exposed to the fire.
He stumbled forward, unsure if he should be calling out, when he saw a limp shape lying on the ground. He took to one knee, recognized it as human and took it by the shoulder, tried to jostle it awake.
No response.
He lifted the person from the ground, seeing that it was a young woman. He jumped, kicked into the air with the woman in his arms. He flew straight up, pushing himself faster to escape the flames.
Ten seconds later he was free from the smoke, stopping and turning in the air. He looked, searching frantically for the fleet of fire trucks. He spotted them and descended.
He touched down and saw an open ambulance. The paramedics were up ahead, near the fire engines. Warren rushed forward and set her down by the ambulance. He turned back towards the fire, prepared to take off.
Warren looked over his shoulder and saw a firefighter coming towards him. An oxygen mask covered his face.
“I need to—“ Warren stammered, floating a few feet off the ground.
“Hey, are you crazy?” The firefighter demanded.
“I saw you carry her out through the smoke! Keep outta the smoke! Just cause it don’t bother you doesn’t mean we can breathe it! Hear me?”
Warren nodded. How could he forget that? He saw the woman, motionless in the ambulance, and felt sick.
“Keep outta the smoke!” The firefighter said again. “Go!”
Warren took flight. He didn’t need to be told twice.
He approached the smoke again, keeping the firefighter’s words fresh in his mind. Warren plunged downward, through the cloud and back to the ground. He found himself in a different location this time. He was on a sidewalk, the flames crawling up the face of a building behind him. In front of him he saw the twisted wreckage of a car, blown apart by an explosion. Parking meters on the sidewalk were either mangled or gone.
He heard crying and locked onto it. He dashed forward, looking for the source. As he ran he realized it was a child: a young girl. He hopped over a pipe jutting from the ground and saw a little girl furiously trying to drag her unconscious father by the arm.
Warren kneeled down again. The girl looked up at him, tears streaming down her face. Warren held his hand out.
“My daddy…” she said.
“I’ll help him,” Warren responded. He lifted the girl off the ground and stooped, picking her father up and throwing him over his shoulder. He prepared to take off again, but remembered what the firefighter had told him when he saw the smoke above them. He looked around, trying to find a way to get away from it. He couldn’t fly upward, couldn’t plow through the building next to him, couldn’t risk going through the fire behind him.
“Cover your nose!” He yelled. “Close your eyes!” The girl did as he said. He jumped, flying in a low arc, trying to keep away from the thickest patches of smoke.
Seconds later they were out of it, flying through the sky. Warren could hear the girl coughing. He began to panic, recounting the few moments that they were in the smoke. He descended to the ground, set the girl and her father by the same ambulance, and flew back, past the firefighters as they aimed their hoses and straight into the fire.
He felt his shirt catch fire only to be extinguished as he accelerated. He saw an old man stumbling through the smoke, clutching a handkerchief to his face. Warren stopped, lifted him up, and took off again, keeping low to the ground like he had before. He broke free of the smoke and looped around the cloud, flying over rooftops. He saw the fire hoses were working at full blast now, raining down water on the fire. Steam was joining the smoke in rising towards the sky.
Warren deposited the elderly man at the ambulance with the rest. He jumped before a paramedic could reach him.
As he flew, he remembered the white room. It had been beneath these streets. What had happened to it?
He got his answer when he landed. There was a crater in the ground, chunks of melted asphalt pooled around it. Nearby, he saw the manhole he had first flown out of.
Jesus…This was where the explosion had come from. He gazed into the crater, seeing no trace of the white room, the white bed, the steel walls. A cluster of pipes, bent outward from the explosion, spewed gas into the air.
He was torn away from the spectacle when he saw movement. There was a car, its left side crushed and scorched, its windows shattered. Inside he saw a figure slumped over the steering wheel.
Warren ran to the car and dug his fingers into the door. In one quick move, he tore the door away from the vehicle, the burning steel bending in his hands. He threw it away, letting it hit the ground with a clatter.
“God,” he muttered, seeing the driver. The man was burned, his left shoulder and large parts of his neck mangled by the flames. Warren stop staring when he noticed flames licking at the back of the car, right next to the gas tank.
He returned to action and yanked the seatbelt out of its place. The smell of burning gasoline reached him; he lifted the man out of the car and turned away, ready to jump.
There was a horrendous sound and Warren crouched, knowing exactly what it was. He covered the burned man as best he could as the car exploded, sending fire and metal screaming across his back.
The explosion lasted a second that felt like eternity. When it was gone Warren took off, flying back towards the ambulance. Above him, he heard a helicopter chopping its way through the air. It began dumping water on the blaze as he set the burned man down. A massive cloud of steam erupted from the ground as the water hit; Warren took off. He could hear firefighters and paramedics pointing him out as he dove into the smoke cloud again.
He hit the ground, looking for people. This time he was in the middle of three cars, their empty frames blackened.
He didn’t see anyone. He was prepared to take off and land at a different point inside the fire when he smelled burning gasoline again. The smell was stronger this time, and closer. Warren turned in horror to see a tanker truck engulfed in flames.
Taking great strides he bounded across the asphalt, noticing that his shoes had melted away. They slowed him down. He hopped and flew, scarcely a foot above the ground, towards the tanker.
He stopped when he was a few feet from it, skidding beneath the steel titan. He quickly got off his back and crouched beneath the truck, uncertain of how to go about doing what he had to do. Could he lift it from the bottom? Wouldn’t his hands push through the steel, like they had with the car door?
Bits of molten metal dripping off the side of the tanker told him he was out of time. Warren hunched his shoulders, and stood, feeling the tanker’s immense weight on his back. He reached out with his hands and grabbed the truck’s axle.
The fire was all around him. The truck’s cabin drooped forward as he stood, hoping beyond hope that the whole thing was balanced. He could hear gasoline moving, burning, in the tanker itself.
Warren leaped, hearing the asphalt crack as he rocketed into the sky. Smoke consumed him, obscuring his vision. Even if it didn’t, the tanker did. He didn’t know where he was flying, other than upwards. He prayed the helicopter was gone, that no planes were passing by.
The tanker’s weight was causing him to fly slower. He looked down and saw the city below him, but it wasn’t far enough away. He had to get farther.
The tanker began to tremble; he saw balls of fire falling from it. Come on, come on, I just need some more time!
He heard gasoline hissing and knew he didn’t have any more time. He stopped in the air and looked up at the tanker. He clenched the axle tightly with both hands, crushing it in his grip. He lifted it from his shoulders; his arms shook with the strain.
Screaming, Warren threw the tanker. It sailed up and forward, away from him. Gravity took it down towards the city in a tumbling arc.
He suddenly became aware that he might have dropped a massive time bomb on Port De Soto. Sick to his stomach, he wanted to look away.
Then the tanker exploded, disintegrating high above the rooftops. The massive sound hit him before the shockwave did. He watched as fireballs burned out in the air, turning into harmless ash.
Warren closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. He waited there, floating in the air for a moment. Then he flew to the nearest rooftop and landed on it, looking for something to puke into.
“Lord above,” Roger muttered, staring at his TV screen.
“What is it?”
“There’s been a…Jesus, Joseph and Mary, there’s been an explosion.”
“What?” Jane asked, incredulous. She rushed from the other room and stopped next to her father, staring at the screen. “Oh, God,” she whispered.
Footage of the fire was on the screen, a newscaster talking over it. Streams of water were blasted onto the dying flames as a helicopter flew in and out of the frame.
“Where was it?” Jane asked.
“Fourth and, uh,” Roger paused, watching the screen. “Wovoka.” He remembered how he had felt nearly a decade before, watching the same screen. That was in New York, hundreds of miles away. But his daughter hadn’t been with him then. He looked over to her, just to see that she was safe.
“Maybe it was…” Jane started. She stopped, sniffing the air. “Do you smell that?”
Roger did. He looked away from the TV screen, wondering where the smell was coming from. Something was burning, or had been burnt, but his apartment wasn’t anywhere near Fourth and Wovoka.
He turned around when he heard the window open behind him. Warren was there, his clothes burnt to a crisp.
“Hi,” he said. He looked past Roger and Jane and saw the television. “Am I on TV?”
Remember our bargain, wizard.

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Re: Writers' Café

Postby the_shankmaster » Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:09 am

LA Noire Fanfic

Yes, it's slash. No, it's not inappropriate.
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Re: Writers' Café

Postby helios » Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:09 am

Fighting Crime and Corruption since 1935
Not Disregarding Your Freedoms Since 1949
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Re: Writers' Café

Postby the_shankmaster » Thu Jun 30, 2011 7:40 am

Another LA Noire fanfic. This one isn't slash, but it takes place post-game, so if you care about spoilers, then you should hold off until you've finished it. Also, please spoiler your comments if you have any. Thanks!

Part of Life

Death was a part of life. Stefan had learned that at an early age when he’d lost his older sister. More than his own grief—short-lived due to a lack of real understanding combined with child resilience—the grief his parents experienced left a lasting impression on him. Even after she’d been gone for years, the mention of her name at the right moment called back the despair of losing their first child, and the fear of losing the second as well. The fear had lessened a bit, as Stefan had grown older, stronger, more capable of taking care of himself. It had come back when he’d become a police officer. He could die any day, they knew, and every time they saw him could easily be the last.

Stefan wasn’t so concerned with the possibility of his own death while on the job. What he had struggled with when he’d first started out was all the death that surrounded him. Victims found already killed, hostages who could be killed at any moment, criminals who needed to be killed before they could kill others. It was almost too much for him at first, just a kid straight out of high school, but he’d gotten a decent hold on it, eventually. It was a good thing, too, or he never could have become a homicide detective. Death wasn’t just a part of life now, it was his life.

The worst kinds of death were always those that were unexpected, untimely, unfair. While all three factors were open to debate—especially in the eyes of the perpetrator—Stefan found that most murders fit the bill. He had to learn not to think about it, at least not on the level where thinking gave way to feeling. He couldn’t handle that. Who could handle that? As he worked through the details of the case, he thought of it as just that—a case. Not a person full of life one moment and robbed of it at the next. He could say it was a shame and mean it. Refer to the killer as a son of a bitch and mean that, too. But it was in a general sense, the same kind of reaction he’d give something he heard on the radio or read about in the paper. It wasn’t personal to him, and he couldn’t let it be, because a case or two nestling into the emotional centers of his mind would turn into all the cases. There’d be no end and he’d lose his mind—and worse, his job. He was sure of it.

He was concerned for a while that this emotional blockage would become too natural to him, and that he’d have difficulty feeling grief even when it was personal. How wrong would it be if he lost a close friend, kind neighbor, a parent, and didn’t feel anything? This worry had been assuaged at grandpa Bekowsky’s funeral. The context, he realized, made all the difference. Surrounded by his family, inundated by stories from his childhood, reliving memories with like-new intensity, he felt the loss, felt it deeply, and had no trouble showing it. So it came as a surprise to him when at the funeral of his former partner and good friend Cole Phelps, he felt nothing.

When he thought about it later, he realized the context had been confusing. A funeral, yes, but he had been surrounded by cops, inundated with cop stories, and even the memories were mostly just him and Phelps being cops together. He was in a work state of mind, where even Cole’s death—unexpected, untimely, unfair—was just part of the job description. He didn’t like it. It felt about as wrong as he would have expected. Was it enough, maybe, to feel bad for not feeling bad? No. Cole deserved more than that.

It was a few weeks later, and Stefan was out working on a case with Rusty. It was late afternoon, almost evening, and they were way overdue for a lunch break. Rusty picked the spot, not really thinking about its proximity to the veteran’s cemetery. He and Stefan both noticed at the same time, though neither of them mentioned it as they got out of the car and entered the diner. Once they were seated, Stefan found his eyes continually drifting toward the window, in the direction of the cemetery. It didn’t take long for Rusty to notice.

“Bekowsky,” he said, and when Stefan looked at him, Rusty tossed him the keys. “Go.” Stefan only stared at him for a moment, the keys in his hand. “If you take too long I’ll grab you something you can eat in the car. Now get over there.”

When Stefan reached Cole’s grave, he saw that it had been recently visited. A bundle of flowers lay on the grass, tied together with a bit of string. They weren’t anything fancy. Just dandelions. His daughters must have left them there. Young girls with their lack of understanding and their child resilience. They’d probably recover from the loss before Stefan even began to feel it. He suddenly felt very empty-handed.

He didn’t know what else to do, so he sat on the ground, looking at the gravestone, not really reading the words. Those words weren’t Cole. They were hardly a summary of Cole. No, Stefan could summarize him much more accurately. Someone who was better than him at everything—or at least better at looking like he was better—but still as kind to him as Stefan could have asked of a partner, of a friend. Someone for whom good enough was never good enough in his own case, but who could accept that Stefan was trying, really trying, and that sometimes good enough was the best he could do.

Stefan shook his head. He’d called Cole his protégé, finding it so amusing that he could apply the term to someone older than him. In truth, he couldn’t. He hadn’t taught Cole anything more than he could have learned on his on his own, and it wasn’t long before Cole had surpassed him, moved on, left him behind.

He’d done it again. Moved on. Left him behind.

He felt it then. Icy cold fingers creeping around his heart. Wrapping tightly. Squeezing. Crushing. There it was. Loss. Despair. Grief. For Cole. Because Cole deserved it. Because he was a friend. Because Stefan wasn’t a friend if he couldn’t cry like a child at his sister’s funeral. So he did.

When he returned to the diner, Rusty was waiting for him with a brown paper bag which he traded for his keys. If he knew that Stefan had been crying—and it didn’t take a detective to see that he had—he didn’t say anything. Death was a part of life, and Rusty had his own ways of dealing with it; let the kid have his.
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