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You never did care much for long-winded speeches. You said they felt heavy, like a cold downpour that leaves you sad and shivering for no good reason at all.

The man who spoke at your funeral seemed nice. Clean shaven, hair parted neatly, wearing a snazzy suit. You would’ve hated him, but this was all a show anyway. Another way your parents tried to save themselves from the disgrace of us, of what we became when they were wallowing like pigs, waist deep and covered in the filth of fantasy.

You and I understood reality, though; didn’t we? Life isn’t about grasping at the stars—it’s about surviving, and you can’t do that when there’s a chain of debt hanging around your neck, choking you like an iron noose.

How many times did you grit your teeth when your parents came home after spending thousands of dollars they didn’t have on things they didn’t need? At least as many times as we snuck into houses after dark, took their belongings, left blood in our wake when it was necessary. I grew to like the taste of blood, the smell of adrenaline-laced sweat on your skin.

How many times had it gone right? It only took one to go wrong.

Your dad tried to pet me earlier. I bit his hand. He kicked me out the door, and I’m sitting in the grass listening for your footsteps.
Partners
For Flash-Fic-Month Day 16 Challenge: non-human protagonist in a Noir-style flash fiction. Wasn't that successful, but I tried, friends. 
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Even though he was alone in his office, Travis still looked over his shoulder when the Skype noise pinged on his computer. It sounded loud to him.

He had never done anything like this before—cheating had always been something other people did. When you heard about a cheating spouse, everyone expected you to shake your head and sigh and say, “Man, that a shame, I never would’ve thought…”

Yet here he was, staying late at work, looking over his shoulder in an empty room, talking about things he hadn’t told a soul. The circumstances here are different, he consoled himself. This is a necessary evil to keep things together at home.

7:50pm | What time?
Um, around 10am, probably. | 7:52pm
7:52pm | All right, I’ll be on. You sure you’re okay with this?
Yes, I’m 100% sure. | 7:58pm

*****

Sheila finished her housework and sat down at the computer. She had enough time to look through some social media sites, check messages, and maybe play a game or two before Travis came home for lunch.

She quickly glanced through the sites, doing a double take when she got to Facebook. She had 6 messages: 4 of them were continued conversations with friends, 1 of them was a game notification she thought she had turned off, and the last one—the last one was from someone she didn’t know.

Hello there. I’m so sorry to bother you, but I was looking for someone with your name and I accidentally came across your page. I can see you’re married and you probably hear it all the time, but I just wanted to tell you that I think you’re beautiful.

Sheila felt the blush crawl into her cheeks and a smile spreading unchecked across her face. She pulled open the messenger and wrote back:
Aww, why thank you! I don’t actually hear it that often, and I appreciate it. <3

The reply was almost immediate:
What? How could anyone wake up next to you every day and not tell you that? I think someone as pretty as you should be told often so you don’t forget.

*****
Travis waited a little later to go home for lunch. Skype popped up right as he was getting up to leave.

12:20pm | You’re really REALLY sure about this?
Yes. | 12:21pm
12:21pm | Okay. Well, done and done.
Do you want to be paid? I feel like I owe you some compensation. | 12:21pm
12:22pm | Your wife is hot, dude. You don’t owe me shit.

He closed Skype feeling uncomfortable and lonely. She needs this, he told himself. I’m not enough anymore and that’s okay. He sat back in his chair pulled out his phone, and sent a text:

Honey, I’m not going to make it home for lunch today, I’m sorry. Have a good afternoon, I love you.
Randy pushed his hair down, hoping it helped enough to make him look nice. He tugged on the suit jacket and glanced in the mirror. Despite the jacket being a little too small and his hair still being a little too wild, he didn’t look bad. He gave his most charming smile to the mirror, rolled his eyes at himself, and left the house.

He could see Sandra as soon as he pulled up to the café. It used to be a favorite of hers, and he knew she would feel more comfortable meeting him here than one of her fancy city restaurants where she might be seen.

She was polite enough when he joined her at the table, but he could see that her smile stopped at the corners of her mouth, not at all the Sandra he used to know. The old Sandra laughed through those brown eyes, tugged at his shirt when he took too long, kissed him on the cheek when she was high with the victory of a successful swipe.

“What do you want, Randy?” she asked as soon as the waitress had brought them drinks and left the table.

“Listen, Sandra; I don’t mean to be a nag, but do you remember what you said? Remember when you promised to be an advocate for my concerns in the state government when I helped you with your money thing? I just—I hadn’t heard anything about it in a while, and you haven’t been returning my phone calls. I just wanted to see if anything had changed, y’know; any updates.”

“Randy, you know how this government stuff is, it’s tricky and there’s a lot of paperwork and red tape and big egos involved. It’s not something I can just waltz in with.”

“Okay, yeah, I guess that makes sense. But just, you know, it’s been two years since you got elected, and I just—I think it’s important for people like me, y’know? It’s not fair that people leave their windows and doors unlocked and then get mad when someone steals things from them.”

Sandra sighed through her teeth. “Randy, you know what, I’m tired of pretending. The truth is, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You’re a petty crook, there’s no legislature in the world that can change what you are, and I’m not going to take this to my constituents as part of my platform.”

“But Sandra, you promised! And you were one of us, remember? Right there in the middle…thick as thieves, remember? You used to say that!”

“And I grew up, Randy. You didn’t. I’m sorry, but I can’t fall on a sword for this. If you care that much, do a protest or something. I’m late for a meeting. Sorry, get yourself some lunch on me, okay?”

Randy felt like he’d been punched in the teeth, like that time when Sandra accidentally kicked his nose climbing out of a window, only this time he didn’t cry, he just sat and stared at the table.

*****

Back in the city, Sandra pulled up in a side street and looked around as she got out of the car. No one around, she steeled herself and walked around the corner to a small, walled-off alley between two abandoned industrial buildings.

She heard a car pull up and looked out. The familiar BMW pulled up and the senator stepped out with two of his lackeys. Sandra shifted uncomfortably, feeling the hair on the back of her neck rising.

“Hello, sir,” she said politely, extending her hand. “I’m glad you agreed to meet me. I was hoping you would want to get this settled quickly.”

“Oh, I intend to settle it, Miss Roberts,” the senator said with an almost imperceptible smirk, ignoring her hand. He moved toward her, an imposing figure even if he didn’t have two lunkheads on either side of him. She took a few steps back and cleared her throat, trying to regain footing.

“It’s nothing personal, Senator; you know how it is. The lobbyists come with dirt trying to win us over to their side, and it’s our job to make compromises and deals, right? It’s all for the greater good, after all,” she tried to laugh, but she found her mouth too dry.

“Did you really think you could blackmail me? Miss Roberts, do you know how I became a senator in the first place? You think I did it by letting sniveling little new brats roll over me because some lobbyist managed to get their hands on a bit of filth that may or may not even be true?”

“Well, sir, I’m just—”

“I know what you’re doing, and you’re about to stop doing it.”

One of his bodyguards stepped forward, and Sandra’s world went black.

*****

When she woke up, it was dark. It had been one o’clock when she met the senator; what time was it now? How long had she been out?

She put her hands underneath her to hoist herself up and a jolt of crippling pain ran through her wrist. Doubling her efforts and using her other hand, she managed to get to her feet.

Her phone was missing, and her purse. In addition to the pain in her wrist, her head throbbed and blood trickled from her knee. She was still in the alley, but it looked different. There was so little light; where had they taken her?

Sandra took a deep breath and looked around, realizing she was still in the exact same spot in which the men had cornered her, but there was a scraping sound nearby. She turned to where the opening should be, but there was only a wall. She looked up, following the trace of light coming in from above. There, she found the source of the scraping sound: the tip of a trowel was just visible, followed by a brick.

She gasped when she realized what they had done—she was walled into this tiny space.

“No, stop, please!” she yelled. “Please! Someone help! I’m here; I’m in here, please!” Sandra banged against the wall but it was no use, the bricks were solid. The last two bricks went down and the space was almost completely dark. The only light came between wooden planks that formed a bridge between the two buildings over her head.

“Please! No! You can’t do this!” she screamed.

*****

Three months later, Randy pulled up into a side street brandishing a can of spray paint. He had taken what Sandra said to heart, especially once she went missing. He owed it to himself and to her to prove that he had the will to do what she had suggested.

His pattern of civil disobedience started with a protest, then a petition (he got 21 names, which he thought was pretty good considering most of the guys he knew wouldn’t sign their name to anything because they had outstanding warrants). Now he was tagging buildings, but not with gang stuff, he’d never been into that, or even art—he had looked up some smart quotes about government and was leaving them all over the city.

He had seen a lot of nice cars coming down this alley, and there was a fresh wall that was crying out for a message.

Randy shook up the can and pulled out the paper on which he’d scrawled the quote, then he started writing:

“We hang petty thieves and appoint the great ones to office. – Aesop”

He nodded at his handiwork and headed back to the car, whistling.

Behind the wall, Sandra’s body lay crumpled, her life mercifully ended by head trauma caused by falling when she tried to climb out.
Thick as Thieves
For Flash-Fic-Month Day 14. I did the Challenge even though it's four days late and 288 words too long. 

The Challenge was to include:
1. An activist.
2. A betrayal.
3. An insurmountable object.
4. A political quote.
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Ace left the case in his bedroom and peered around the door. No one upstairs, and he heard his mother in the laundry room below. His dad should still be out of the house—if he snuck away now, he could be gone before they missed him. He could make up a reason later.

Stair by stair, he carried the heavy instrument case down, not wanting to drag it down because he knew his mother would hear it and come running immediately. Quiet, quiet, step, step, all the way down.

His mom came around the corner and he held his breath, trying to make himself as small as possible, which proved to be difficult with the huge black case at his side. She walked within feet of the stairs but didn’t see him, and soon he heard her in the music room and breathed a sigh of relief.

Five more steps, three, two, and he was at the door. He turned the knob, paused to listen for movement, and slipped outside. As promised, Susan’s car sat waiting for him at the opening of the cul-de-sac, and he got in as quickly as possible. They had a show in 2 hours and a bit of a drive ahead.

*****

Eight hours later, he stepped out of Susan’s car, leaving his case behind to pick up later. He waved goodbye to them, and started up the street home. While he walked, he prepared his story.

He dragged his fingers through his hair, making it as messy as possible. He pulled out some glitter spray he picked up at a gas station on the way home and gave his hair a good spritz, hoping it would be enough.

The plaid shirt he wore over his muscle shirt needed to go, so he slipped it off and tied it around his waist. He took a deep breath and tried to look tired and jazzed at the same time, not entirely difficult having just come from performing the best show of their lives.

This might be the second best performance if he managed to pull it off. He needed to act like he didn’t give a shit, and it needed to be convincing if he was going to make use of this in the future. He let out a breath, put on the best I-don’t-give-a-fuck expression he could manage, and opened the door.

Noise. The house shook with the force of the double bass coming from the music room, and Ace cringed a bit, but shook it off. They hadn’t heard him, he could just go straight up to his room; that would be the most effective. Just as his foot hit the bottom stair, though; his dad came around the corner.

“Ace Axl Pendergrasp, where the hell have you been?”

Ace’s back stiffened, but he used it to his advantage, turning just enough to give his dad a glare, “What the fuck is it to you?”
His dad took a step back, confusion registering on his face. “What did you just say to me?”

“I didn’t stutter.”

“That’s what I thought.” There was another moment of his dad just staring at him, then he was across the floor, grabbing his son. “Man, you had me worried, all that shit lately. I told your mom—I told her once you became a teenager, things would be different. Thanks for proving me right, son.”

“Yeah, whatever, Dad.” There was a final proud pat on the shoulder, then Ace walked up to his room. He closed the door behind him and let out a breath.

Later, as he lay in bed thinking about the night, he heard his parents talking as they came up the stairs:

“I told you, Robin, he just needed to grow out of it!”

“I’m so glad, I thought he’d be doing that bluegrass shit forever.”

Ace sighed and smiled and fell asleep, dreaming of his pedal steel guitar.
Ace's Wild
What, you thought I quit? 

What do we say to death?

Time to catch up on Flash-Fic-Month, Day 13.
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Asher looked up and noted the moon. “It’s nearly full; we’re running out of time.”

“The gods will see to us, my boy. Have faith.” The older man always spoke with such confidence that Asher wanted to believe him, but he just shook his head. Faith? What place did faith have in the midst of the apocalypse?

“You pray, Samiir. I’ll keep walking. We have, at my best estimation, 2 days to get to Mount Barai before the volcano erupts and wipes out the earth.”

“You believe in the prophecy but not in the gods that make it true!” Samiir replied.

“I didn’t believe in the prophecy, either; until the mountain started blowing blue smoke.”

“Then maybe when the gods show up, you’ll believe them, too.”

“Yeah, maybe.”

The prophecy they chased had been passed down for generations. Most people told it as a kids’ story, something to keep little ones wide-eyed on their mats in kindergarten with no real meaning.

Blue smoke spills from the mountain
Force of will becomes a fountain
The moon swells and fills the night
Choose then the darkness or the light


Asher heard those words from the time he was 3 or 4, but they meant nothing to him until the day the sky filled with blue smoke. He knew right away that he needed to go. He felt a call to be at the mountain—Samiir knew, too. Samiir found him and invited himself along.

They’d been traveling for two days already, and with two more ahead, Asher knew they needed to keep moving.

***

The moon reached full just as Asher and Samiir crested the mountain. The smoke was thick, but Asher noticed that he could breathe quite well and that the air smelled like fruit and earth rather than lava and ash.

The surface wasn’t as hot as Asher expected, either. He took great care to keep his balance as he leaned over the gaping maw in the mountain.

There was no lava inside the mountain. Asher peered into it further, thinking he must be missing something. Samiir, too, looked in on hands and knees.

Asher looked at the older man for a moment and surprised himself by thinking how easy it would be to just push him into the mountain.

Push him.

The young man took a step back and shook his head. A rushing sound filled his ears, overtaking his senses, and the voice came again: push him.

“No!” Asher said out loud over the deafening noise in his head. “No, stop!”

Samiir looked up from his spot on the edge of the mountain and smiled. The rushing sound stopped immediately, and Asher found himself staring at the old man and his crooked smile.

When Samiir stood, it was not an old man standing before him at all, but a woman with long, blue-black hair. “You chose light, my dear Asher,” she said in a voice that sounded like a gentle rushing and rumbling all at once.

The woman touched the top of the mountain, and a gentle river of gold began to flow from it, following a trail that lead down the mountain and into a crevice below, sure to become a lake of pure gold.

“Now when people tell the story of the prophecy, they will tell their children how you saved them all,” she said to him. “I told you we would see to you!” She winked, and Asher felt overwhelming peace.
Walking with Gods
For Flash-Fic-Month catch up, Day 12. 

This is turrible. SHAKE IT OFF, SHAKE IT OFF.
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ninjababy
The Internet Calls Me Amber
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
I'm a 29-year-old part-time web content writer and blogger and the mom of two awesome kids, a 9-year-old math whiz daughter and a 5-year-old silly cuddlebug son.
Interests
My submissions are a little less than timely, but here you have it anyway!

It's never too late to jump on the Flash Fiction Month bandwagon; if you want to get on board, go check out Flash-Fic-Month and get crackin'.

Week 1
Peacekeepers
Helper
Boom
Permanent Relocation
Becoming a Man
Chupa
Strangers

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:iconpailei:
Pailei Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much for the fave on "made of trees!" :)
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
My pleasure! :-D
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:iconirrevocablefate:
IrrevocableFate Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2015   Writer
Thank you kindly for the favorite. ♥
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
You are quite welcome. :-)
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:iconpailei:
Pailei Featured By Owner May 19, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much for the faves on "curse the callous dawn" and "battle cry!" :)
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner May 20, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
You're quite welcome! :D
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:iconemmasloane:
EmmaSloane Featured By Owner May 18, 2015
Thank you for the favorites! :heart:
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner May 18, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
My pleasure! :-)
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:iconbrassteeth:
brassteeth Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2015
Thanks
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:iconninjababy:
ninjababy Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
My pleasure.
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