It's another Monday. How is it already halfway through July? Anyways, since life is still not back to normal, here is another free short story to help keep you distracted during trying times.
Demons at Work
By Sheri Velarde
Sara could not have been more excited, she had just turned sixteen and landed her first job. She couldn’t wait to have the money to pay for a car and freedom. Not to mention that since she worked at a theater that meant all the free movies that she could watch! This year would be her year, maybe she would even make some friends at work, perhaps they would be different than the kids she went to school with. She had hope and that felt fantastic.
However Sara soon learned that working was not all that she had imagined. In fact it turned out to be worse that high school, with meaner cliques that left her feeling more isolated than ever before. At first she thought that her coworkers were distant because of her being the new girl, but as the weeks wore on things only got worse. Every time a colleague looked at her she felt like scum found on the bottom of their shoes. No matter what she did, no one accepted her.
One night, her grandmother, whom she lived with, found her crying after a long day at work. “What’s wrong sweetheart?”
“Work. School. My entire life. I’m an outcast. No one likes me or even respects me, no matter what I do I am never accepted.” Sara sobbed.
“You know, your mother had the same problem. So did I as a young woman. We are different, but that does not mean that we have to live on the outskirts of society. I have something that can help you.” Her grandmother said, getting up and heading to the attic.
Sara sat there confused, her family had indeed always been weird, but her grandmother acted stranger than usual just now. Her confusion only increased when her grandmother returned with an antique and rather creepy looking doll in ragged clothes and sinister eyes. “What is that? How is an old doll going to help me make friends?”
“Oh, this is more than a mere doll. It’s been in our family for over one hundred years and has helped us in each generation. Its how my father gained support to start his business, how I met your grandfather, how your mother found success.” Her grandmother stopped, looking said as she did every time she talked about Sara’s mother. “Though Annie never could handle the power, I often wonder if I had never given her this doll if she would still be here today.”
“What are you talking about? How could a doll have brought about my mom’s breakdown? It’s a toy, an old and ugly toy.” Sara said. Though even as she spoke shivers ran down her spine. Something about the eyes of the doll unnerved her, like the glass eyes were staring into her very soul.
“This is Dorothy. She belonged to my great aunt of the same name. It is said that she was a witch and persecuted for it, made to live on the fringe of society, something that we all seem to have inherited from her. That is unless we ask for her help.” Her grandmother handed the doll to her and Sara reluctantly took it. “Share you hopes and dreams with her. Talk to her every night, ask for her help and guidance. Things will start to look brighter.”
“You want me to talk to a doll and that is supposed to fix all my problems?” Sara scoffed. Could her grandmother be going senile?
“Just try it. What have you got to lose? Humor your old grandmother will you?”
Not knowing what else to do, Sara nodded. At least her grandmother had succeeded in stopping her pity party. Maybe talking to a doll made more sense than sitting around crying. Later that night she sat in her room staring at Dorothy, wondering if mental illness really ran in her family. That would explain her mother killing herself and now her grandmother’s odd beliefs, not to mention the crazy stories that she had heard about her extended family. “I’m doomed to be alone and crazy.”
Sara kept the doll in her room, tossing it in the corner and forgetting about it for a while. She continued her life, being invisible in school and the target for ridicule at her job. Sometimes she even understood why her mother had taken her own life. Death would be a welcome escape from the living hell she called her life. No, she couldn’t do that to her grandmother though, not again.
Then another night of tears found her saying what the hell and pulling out the old doll. “Have you really been in my family forever? Were you my great, great, great aunt? The witch? Can you make people at work like me? Give me respect?” The doll’s dead eyes just stared at her. “And I am telling my woes to a doll. I really am as insane as the rest of my family. If only you could make my problems disappear, make people respect me and see me for once in my life.” She tossed Dorothy back in the corner and went to sleep.
The next day school didn’t seem to go better than usual, even her teachers didn’t seem to notice if she as there or not. Right after school she headed to the theater, dreading the evening. At least at school people only ignored her, at work they seemed to want to torture her, like making her cry made their day. And tonight the manager that hated her the most worked. “Great. Let’s see how many things he can think up to make me do. Maybe climb on the roof and jump off.” She mumbled as she walked in. After that she didn’t remember a thing until she got home and sat in her room. Her entire shift was missing. Had something so horrible happened that she had actually blocked it from her mind? Somehow she didn’t think so, because even if she couldn’t remember what happened, she felt happy and she never experienced that emotion. Never.
The next morning Sara awoke still feeling happy. School went better than usual, a teacher even called on her for an answer in math class. People noticed for once. No one made fun of her in the halls and she actually ate lunch with no one throwing anything at her or trying to drive her from the cafeteria. As she pulled up to the theater after school, she wondered if her new luck would continue, and if she would remember what happened.
Sara walked in and stopped in shock as her coworker Erica actually said hello to her in a friendly manner. “Hi Sara.”
“Hi.” Sara managed to squeak out. No one ever greeted her at work. Sure they talked to her in order to order her around, or mock her, but never to talk to her in a friendly manner.
As she clocked in, her manager Charlie also said hello. Sara replied in bewilderment. Why were her coworkers suddenly being nice to her? She shrugged, she didn’t want to push her luck. Getting down to work, she cleaned and served popcorn and noticed that people liked her. She also noticed that she was different. She talked. She laughed. She took charge of things and jumped into conversations. A newfound confidence came out of her and people responded in kind.
She came home with a smile on her face, practically skipping into her room. As she flipped on the light she stopped dead in tracks, Dorothy sat in the middle of her bed, staring at her with those creepy eyes. Last she had seen the doll it had still been sitting in the corner. Chills ran down her spine, had Dorothy had something to do with her sudden popularity? But how? It was a doll. Shaking herself and figuring that she must have moved the doll, or that her grandmother must have been in her room, she picked it up. Nausea hit her as soon as she touched the doll, then everything started to go black.
The next thing that she knew, Sara found herself awake and at work. She could see through her eyes, hear her own voice, but she didn’t seem to be in control of herself. She had become a prisoner in her own body, present but not the one driving. Someone else talked through her mouth, someone controlled her movements, someone else was living her life. Dorothy, she thought to herself. Could all that her grandmother have said been real?
Her eyes glanced down at the date on the cash register where she worked. She had lost two weeks. Two weeks of someone using her body and no one noticed? How the hell did this happen. What was she going to do?
“Nothing, share your body with me and I can give you everything that you ever wanted. Defy me and I will destroy all that you are.” Came a voice from inside her own head. “If you play nice I will even share this vessel with you. Imagine all that we could do together. I’ve already won you friends, improved your grades, given you a life worth living at long last. Just surrender to me and I can grant you anything that you should desire.”
“What? I don’t want to share my life!” Sara protested in her own mind, even though to the outside world her body kept working and talking under the control of some witch.
“Life? Is that what you think you had? Watch me, see what living really is and then make your decision. Your mother couldn’t handle me, but you, you I sense are the one that I have been waiting for in this family. You have power that rivals mine own. You and I are going to do great things once I’ve trained you up a bit and you have had time to adjust.” Dorothy replied, all the while laughing and talking to the others around them.
For days Dorothy steered their body, letting Sara have just enough control to see and hear what went on around them, but not allowing her to do anything of her own free will. Sara observed her body live a life that she could no longer be a part of. She hated to admit it, but Dorothy indeed lived better than she ever had. Sara now had straight A’s in school and had become a teacher’s pet in a good way. She had some friends. She had gotten a promotion and raise at work, not to mention she had become now friends with all her coworkers and one of the cutest boys she had ever known had actually asked her out. She dressed better, looked better, lived better. The only problem was that she was no longer Sara.
She had tried talking to Dorothy, begging for her body to be given back to her, but she had gotten no answer. The witch was too busy living her life to listen to Sara it seemed. The only person that seemed to have an idea what had happened was Sara’s grandmother, but instead of being alarmed she seemed happy with the changes taking place in her granddaughter. “Didn’t I tell you that Dorothy would make things better?”
“No! I want my life back!!” Sara wanted to shout, but only Dorothy could hear her and she wasn’t about to relinquish control of their shared body.
Days, weeks, months wore on. To the outside world, Sara came into her own. She became popular and successful. Her life seemed perfect, rather Dorothy’s life seemed perfect. Finally the witch allowed Sara to talk once more, “So, have you thought about my offer? You have seen what I can do for you, for us. Our life could be more than you ever imagined. Do you want to share this vessel? I will let you out to enjoy some of the perks that I have earned.”
“You act as if I have a choice. What would even happen if I said no? You’d just push me to the back of my mind, a passenger in my own life forever.”
“Oh, I have been kind to you so far. I can force you out, you realize that don’t you? If I can store my soul in a doll, I can certainly imprison your soul. And if you fight me, well you saw what happened to your mother. Now it is your time to choose. Take the life that I am offering you and great success will come your way. Refuse and one way or another you will have no more life.”
Sara’s body began shaking out of control due to her anger and frustration. For the first time in ages her body responded to her and not the witch inside of her. “You killed my mother? You are the one who ruined my life! No, you will not take me down too. I will find a way to destroy you.”
“You are willing to give up all your dreams? Your very life? There is no way for you to defeat me.” Dorothy said, but Sara could detect a hint of fear in the witch for the first time.
“No, you need people in my family to believe in you, to host you.” Sudden inspiration took ahold of Sara. She rushed into her room and grabbed the doll while she still had control of her body. Her movements were jilted as Dorothy fought to stop her. Once she had the doll she ran back downstairs, firing up the gas fireplace even though it was the middle of summer. She would get rid of this cursed doll no matter what. Even if she didn’t rid herself of Dorothy, she would stop the witch from tormenting the rest of her family.
“NO!” Dorothy screamed inside Sara’s mind, but it didn’t stop Sara. As the doll caught fire some of the power slipped from Dorothy, though the rage of the spirit sharing her body could still be felt. She fell to the floor, convulsing as she fought for control of her very soul. Had her mother gone through this? Is this why she jumped off a building? Or had she been forced off? The thought of how Dorothy had destroyed her mother and her childhood. That pain and rage gave her the power she needed to gain control. Dorothy’s spirt got pushed into the prison Sara had been in for months. She could hear the witch, but she had no power over Sara any more.
Locked away and with no other vessel to store her soul in, Dorothy began to weaken. Each day Sara sensed Dorothy become less and less of a presence until one day she vanished for good. It felt as if a dark cloud had finally been lifted from her life. She felt lighter, brighter. She had fought actual evil and had come out on top. Dorothy had taken her mother and who knew what else she had done to her family over the years, but Sara hated to admit that the witch had actually helped her. She had kept the friends Dorothy had made, it turned out that Sara had been the one to make herself invisible. With the confidence she had facing down a demon doll, well talking to people was a piece of cake.
It's Monday and I have another free short story to try to keep everyone entertained and distracted in this crazy world we live in. Here is another horror piece from a past anthology. Enjoy!
By Sheri Velarde
The final frontier for science is to prevent death itself, in particular brain death as the brain is the only organ that cannot be transplanted and allow a body to retain their original personality. Once a brain is dead there is no bringing it back. Or is there? That is the premise of the Reanimation Lab, a place that can reawaken the truly dead. Those you love can be brought back to life by the power of science and stem cells. It was a motto that Elizabeth knew by heart and believed in more than any other scientists that worked there.
Elizabeth went into this line of scientific study for a very personal reason, her mother lived in a vegetative state and had for decades. She had been pronounced brain dead after a car accident while Elizabeth was in college. That accident had changed the course of Elizabeth’s life. Numerous doctors had told her that her mother was gone, to just pull the plug and let go, then they both could be at peace. “No. She’s not gone. I will find a way to bring her back.” Elizabeth had sworn to herself and to everyone who tried to talk her into killing her mother.
Now all of her hard work and determination was about to pay off. She had found a way to regrow damaged brain tissue. Sure her only successes thus far were a few rats, still they had been completely brain dead and now were not only awake and aware, but functioning well while still under observation in secluded cages. Soon it would be time to see how they dealt with being reintroduced to their society. Elizabeth knew that she should wait until all results had been gathered, but she had already waited too long. She wanted her mother and tonight would be the night she brought her back.
“Liz, we can’t do this. We’re breaking so many ethical laws, not to mention probably real laws that could get us arrested. We should wait until clinical trials on humans are approved.” Her friend and assistant Charles said even as he helped her prepare the samples that would be inserted into her mother’s damaged brain.
“No, my mother has been lying in a bed with machines breathing for her and tubes feeding her for far too long. Tonight we are going to give her life back.”
Yes, Elizabeth had broken some laws to get her mother’s body brought to her labs, but truthfully the nurse who had been taking care of her in a private facility seemed relieved that she would no longer have a job. It hurt to take care of someone in a coma that had no hope of waking up. However it was that exact hope that her mom could wake up that had made Elizabeth the top neuro geneticist in the world. Deep down she knew that she should wait for the human trials to begin, but she couldn’t. After seeing her process work on rats, well she just knew that it would work on her mom. Soon she would have her mom, her best friend, her family back.
“Everything is ready.” Charles interrupted her thoughts.
“Good. Let’s get this over with. I’d rather apologize after my mother wakes up than explain what we’re doing and possibly be stopped. Besides, once I prove that this procedure works on human subjects no one will care that I broke a few rules.”
“I hope you’re right.” Charles said.
“Don’t worry, I’ll keep your name out of this if anything happens. We both know that I’m the one who could not only lose her reputation but her mother as well.”
“I know and that is the reason I agreed to help you, I just wish you would wait but I know I can’t talk you out of this.”
With that they set to work. For the miracle that they were performing, the process itself was relatively simple. Her mother’s brain had been inactive for so long they hardly had to prepare her, most of her brain cells had already died off long ago. Now all they had to do was introduced specially treated stem cells near the brainstem and then watch them multiply. Her brain would regenerate and she would wake up. Yes, something so simple had taken scientists decades to perfect, but it would change the world now that it had been and her mom would be the first person brought back to “the land of the living”.
Two people performing brain surgery was unheard of, but she really only needed Charles to monitor anesthesia and hand her instruments. She would be able to implant the new material fairly easily in her mother’s depleted brain and then all there was to do was wait. The procedure went by without a hitch, though even Elizabeth was shocked at the state of her mother’s brain. Years of not being used and it had withered down to nothing. “That only means that the new cells will take hold that much sooner.” She said with confidence.
“Elizabeth, have you thought about what she might be like if she wakes up? With brain damage this severe, there is no knowing what will happen when the brain regenerates. She likely won’t retain any of her old personality, we have only seen rats wake up and eat. We have seen them resume basic life activities, we know nothing if the self is still intact when a patient wakes up.” Charles spoke her deepest fear, that her mother wouldn’t still be the mother she once knew.
“No, this will work. She may be confused and she has over a decade of the world to catch up on, but she will be fine. I know it in my heart.”
Charles did not seem convinced, but said nothing. However as soon as he mother was in recovery in a private room within the lab, good friend or not, Charles left as quickly as he could. No one else knew what they had done. She would take care of her mother herself for the next few days or weeks, staying at the labs herself and sneaking off whenever she could. She wanted to be the first face her mother saw when she woke up.
Weeks went by and her mother remained in a vegetative state. Elizabeth began to wonder if the procedure work on humans after all. Had her entire life’s work been futile?
Over a month after the procedure, Elizabeth sat by her mother’s bedside, thinking about pulling the plug on her mother’s life support for the first time ever. If she hadn’t woke up by now, maybe there was no bringing her back. It was then, at her lowest moment, that Elizabeth saw a flutter of movement from the bed. Her mother’s hand moved. She saw it, she couldn’t be imagining it.
Soon her mother’s breathing seemed stronger, with hope blossoming in her once more, Elizabeth removed the breathing tube and to her delight her mother continued to breathe on her own. Laughing, Elizabeth called to her mother, “Mom? Can you hear me?”
Tears of joy slipped down her face as her mother’s eyes fluttered open. Blinking and unseeing after years of being unused. “Mom! It’s me, Elizabeth! There is so much that I need to tell you! So much!”
Gasps and grunts came from her mother’s mouth, like she wanted to speak but couldn’t. “Don’t try to talk yet. It will take some time. But soon you will be strong and healthy once more.” Her mother stared towards her voice, but made no sign of recognition. “It is just going to take some time.” Elizabeth said for herself more than her mother.
So Elizabeth kept feeding her mother through a feeding tube, but slowly started to get her to drink and eat on her own. Soon her mother could sit up, but still couldn’t talk. Then one day she heard terrible sounds coming from her mother’s locked room. Elizabeth rushed to see what had happened to her mother, the rest of the lab still unaware of her mother’s presence. She threw the door open to see that her mother had ripped out the feeding tube as well as the other machines connected to her. Her mother stood near the door, shrieking at the pieces of the smashed mirror in front of her.
“Mom, it’s okay. Let’s get you back in bed.” Elizabeth walked towards her mom, trying to calm her down. She never saw the shard of glass in her mother’s hand until it had slashed through her throat. Elizabeth struggled to grab her mother, to somehow stop her, but before she could her mother had knocked her down and was lapping at the blood freely flowing from her artery.
Her mother got up and the last thing Elizabeth saw before darkness took her was he mother, bloodied and still clutch the piece of mirror, running through the open door.
It's Monday and if you have been following my blog recently, you know that means a free short story for you all! I have been trying to provide free entertainment for the past few months as the world has gone crazy. Here is a little horror story previously published in an anthology for your entertainment! Enjoy!
At What Price
By Sheri Velarde
Even Sam, a clerical nobody, a small clog in what could only be described as the biggest medical researcher and manufacturer on the planet, had heard the rumors of what the press conference would reveal later that day. She hoped, even prayed to gods that she didn’t know, that being an employee would maybe give her a chance at being one of the first to receive their latest development. If they had truly developed neurotransmitters that could help control and even cure so many diseases, well then she might not end up in wheelchair after all. Now she just needed Microsonic Industries to make it official and she could plead her case.
She stared at the television in the waiting room, rapt with attention like everyone else on the planet. This announcement would change everything for millions of people on the planet.
“We here at Microsonic Industries are happy to announce a new breakthrough in how neurological conditions and diseases will be treated from here on out. We have developed synthetic neurotransmitters that are not only chemical based, but also mechanical devices that can be implanted in damaged areas of the brain and spinal cord. This will allow normal activity to return to the damaged areas. This is the cure that people with Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, stroke victims and many more have been waiting for. We can also help those who have suffered brain and spinal injuries. We have already successfully helped dozens of people and we have now received government clearance to open this treatment up to the masses. Soon we hope to be able to help people from all walks of life in every corner of the world.”
Beaming, Sam turned down the television. They had even mentioned multiple sclerosis This was it, this could improve her life, save her life. Reaching for her cane, she stood up and made her way to her boss’s door. She knocked and waited to be invited in. “Hello Mr. Woodard. I was wondering if I could take a moment of your time.”
“Of course Samantha. What can I help you with?”
“It’s about the announcement. As an employee of Microsonic that I might be able to…” She drifted off, not sure she should blurt her request out loud.
Mr. Woodard glanced at her cane, understanding shining in his eyes. “You wanted to know if we could put you on the fast track to getting the procedure.”
Swallowing her nerves, Samantha nodded. “Yes. My multiple sclerosis has progressed from Relapsing/Remitting to Progressive. I’m getting worse. I don’t even remember what its like to have a good day anymore. If I don’t get one of those transmitters I’m going to be in a wheelchair within the year.”
Standing up and coming around his desk, Mr. Woodard stopped in front of Sam. “You have been a model employee since the moment you stated in the mailroom. You’ve given us five years of your life. I will put a good word in for you. I promise, if there is anything that I can do I will. It has pained me to see you deteriorating before my eyes.”
A stray tear slipped down her cheek. “Thank you sir.” She gave him awkward hug, not knowing how to put her gratitude into words. Shockingly her boss hugged her back. She hopped that meant he would stay true to his word and help her get this treatment before it was too late.
For the next week Sam waited for an answer from Mr. Woodard, who hadn’t mentioned their talk or the embrace afterward since it had happened. Each day at work she went about her normal routine, inputting data away from all the hubbub that the company now received thanks to their announcement. She was just a small and insignificant cog. Why would they ever bump her up in the waiting list for their new miracle? She knew that thousands of people had already placed their names on the waiting list, some paying more money than she ever had earned in her life to get the life altering procedure sooner rather than later. All she had going for her was that she was a good secretary. She doubted that matter in such a company.
The days ticked by and Sam lost all hope. Her limp seemed to grow worse each day as well, as if her body had decided to give up as well. She began to imagine what her life would be like in a wheelchair. Then she started thinking about what she would do if she got even worse, if she could no longer take care of herself. She had no one to take care of her if it came to that, she would be alone or in a home.
Then just as she had given up completely, Mr. Woodard called her into his office. “Samantha, I have some good news. I talked to my higher ups, who talked to their higher ups and so forth. I need you to submit your medical records, but it looks like you are an excellent candidate to receive one or more of our neurotransmitters.”
“Really? I am going to get the procedure? That’s fantastic!” She stood there in shock.
Mr. Woodard smiled, “Yes, but that’s not the best part. As a dedicated employee here at Microsonic Industries it has been decided that you should get the treatment pro bono, it just would feel wrong charging you for this procedure. And of course you will be welcomed back to your job just as soon as you are ready.”
Sam stood there speechless, tears of joy streaming down her face. Somehow she found herself in Mr. Woodard’s embrace once more. “Thank you.” She finally managed, “Thank you so much sir.”
“I think it’s about time that you started calling me Matt.”
The next couple of weeks went by in a whirlwind, full of doctor’s appointments and preparations for her surgery. She was to have the surgery at the very clinic where Microsonic had developed the technology, by the people who had pioneered the technique. The best of the best were in charge of her treatment and soon she not only wouldn’t have to worry about life in a wheelchair, but hopefully she’d have her full life back. She could have a life with mobility, with no pain, with energy to actually live.
Soon she found herself prepped and getting ready for surgery. As she waited in pre-op, her head nearly shaven, she planned all the things she wanted to do.
“Are you ready?” A nurse interrupted her musings.
Sam found herself wheeled back to the operating room. She was asked to count back from one hundred, she felt herself drifting off, but she could still here the doctors talking in the background. “Why are we doing this again? Why waste something so expensive on a secretary?”
“Its great publicity. Plus cases like this will help us keep our private clients out of the spot light. We roll out the sick people that we healed and no one will question the healthy paying for the treatments. It’s a win win. We are seen as saviors even as we work on building the super humans of the future.”
Just before she went under all Sam heard was laughing. She didn’t think it was just her mind making it sound evil either.
Once she awoke in recovery, Sam began to think that her subconscious had made the whole “evil” doctor conversation up in her mind. Instead he focused on her recovery. Already she could feel her mind operating with less brain fog. Soon she was up and about, walking slowing but rarely having to use her cane. It was truly miraculous how quickly she healed from surgery, even more so how she could feel her body repairing the damage from years of multiple sclerosis. The myelin sheaths must have been either replaced with mechanical parts or had somehow started to regrow. She still didn’t exactly understand how everything worked, only that she felt better than she had since she was a teen.
Seven days after her surgery she started to prepare to go home. As she packed her bag, she once again heard something that disturbed her and this time she knew it wasn’t part of her drugged out imagination. “How are the VIP patients doing?” Someone asked in a hushed voice out in the hallway by the nurse’s station.
“Excellent. We just ran some basic IQ tests on the latest recipients and their scores are already off the charts. If the results keep improving we will be responsible for creating something akin to super humans. I suspect we will be reaching AI intelligence levels soon. And with the cover of helping neurological disorders no one will be the wiser to what we are really doing here.” The conversation continued, but whomever was speaking moved out of Sam’s hearing.
Sam stood there in shock. What she just heard on top of the half remembered conversation as she was being put under for surgery made it fairly clear that there was something going on here above and beyond one of the top medical breakthroughs of the century. Something inside of her had to know more, she had to figure out exactly what was happening at Microsonic Industries. What she would do once she got to the bottom of things she had no idea.
Not really stopping to think of what she was doing, she crept out into the hallway. No one was at the nurse’s station as this was not a regular hospital and had a much smaller staff. She walked up to the desk and looked for clues as to where the so-called VIPs would be. She couldn’t be sure, but there were three people listed in a separate area, away from the people in her ward. She thought that might be whom she was looking for. Before she could snoop anymore though, the nurse came back. “Is there anything that I can help you with?”
“Yes, I was wondering if there were any more forms that I need to fill out before my discharge tomorrow?” Sam said, trying to sound as natural as possible.
“Anxious to get out of here?” The nurse chuckled.
“Yes. Sure this place is nicer than any hospital that I have ever been in, but it will be nice to sleep in my own bed and to start living my new and improved life.”
“I can understand that. You have made huge improvements from what your chart says. I will get the forms to you so you can fill out everything before tomorrow.”
“Thank you,” Sam answered as she headed back to her room. Her mind whirled with ideas, thinking about what she could do with her one night left. She thought that she at least had to try to find the VIPs, try to find out more about them. If she got caught, well she just had brain surgery and she could feign confusion.
That night after everyone else had went to bed and the night nurse was the only one on duty in her ward, Sam waited for the nurse to check on her before slipping out of her room and hurrying down a long corridor towards the three patients who were being kept away from everyone else. She knew that her time was limited at best, so she had to hurry and find out what she could before someone found her wandering the hall. She came to another nurse’s station, though thankfully it too was empty.
Hurrying she looked at the charts, taking quick pictures of the names on them so she could research the patients names later on. She then flipped the first chart open, scanning it looking for the reason for the surgery. To her shock no mention of any neurological disease or condition were mentioned. She looked at the other two and found the same thing. Instead she found references to IQs and intelligence. The old scores compared to the new scores showed that these neurotransmitters enhanced intelligence in otherwise healthy people. Before she could look for anything else, she heard a noise down the hall, so sticking to the shadows she scurried towards her room.
How she made it back with no one finding her out she didn’t know. The rest of the night she kept expecting someone to rush in having discovered her snooping on security cameras, but nothing happened. The next morning Sam was discharged with no problems, given her follow up appointments and sent on her way. If anyone suspected her, they did not let on.
Once she arrived at home, Sam got on the internet and began looking up information on the patient name she had found. They were three billionaires, heads of industries that all seemed to have political aspirations. “So that’s why they want super intelligence, they want to take over the government and who knows what else.”
Her stomach felt sick. The very company that had just given her life back to her, the company that people were praising as the salvation of so many, were really trying to create some sort of super humans to take over their government. Now that she knew their secret, what the hell was she going to do about it?
On the one hand, people like her were now able to live life to the fullest once more. She couldn’t take that away from people. But on the other hand they were letting billionaires use this lifesaving technology to enhance themselves and their intelligence to possibly take over the world. She couldn’t let that happen, could she? It wasn’t like she had any hard proof, for all she knew they too were sick and she just missed that in their files. Deep down she knew that wasn’t true though. They were perfectly healthy and had no need for the neurotransmitters, yet they had them implanted same as she, all the while in a secret wing of the medical facility. There was no innocent explanation for what she had seen.
Could she ever live with herself if she let a secret like that go on under the very nose of society? Could she continue working for a company that would sell its most important discovery to the highest bidder and all for personal gain? Sure, they had paid for her to have the surgery and made her life now something worth living, but did that make up for the evil she had learned?
It's Monday, a new week brings us a new free short story again today! Today I have a little horror story of mine, Everything Has a Price, originally published in a horror anthology a few years back. Enjoy!
Everything Has a Price
By Sheri Velarde
Celeste smiled and nodded as her fiancé showed her off at the research facility his family owned. Now that he was marrying her, this would all soon be under his control. Since she agreeing to marry him had facilitated this, he wanted her to see what would soon be their empire to run together. Carson industries was the largest and most prestigious medical research facility in the world, if a treatment for a disease had been found, odds were the patents were held by Carson. She felt honored to now see all their secrets.
As it turned out, there were more secrets than Celeste bargained for when Andrew took her into the very bowels of the facility, a place that very few ventured. “What’s down here?” She asked as Andrew smiled.
“Why this is where we keep our Cure for everything.” He replied. She would have thought he were joking, but Carsons never joked.
“Cure for everything?”
“Yes, when was the last time you heard of someone of our caliber dying of any disease? Have you not noticed how those in our circles live to be very old and never have health concerns? We have the reason for that down here.”
“You have the means to cure all diseases down here?”
“Yes.” Pride emanated from Andrew.
“Every disease? All cancers? AIDS? MS? Parkinson’s? You have those cures?” Celeste knew she must be misunderstanding something.
“Of course. Why do you think those diseases have been eradicated from the higher classes of society? Carson Industries discovered those cures decades ago, they helped to make us even richer.”
“Then why do those diseases still exist in the world? You have the drugs that would cure cancer and everything else, save millions of lives, and you keep it down here for a chosen few?” Celeste took a step back, appalled.
“Don’t be such a bleeding heart. You’ve been vaccinated, same as I. Your parents paid a hefty price to make sure you turned out genetically perfect. You should be grateful. You would not be standing here, handpicked to produce the next heir to the Carson name. As I understand it, before our Cure the Malloy’s had cancer issues. Good thing your family also had oil and money.” Andrew smirked, heading into the lab.
Sure, their marriage had been arranged by their families, but Celeste couldn’t believe that her fiancé could be so callous. Not knowing what else to do she followed him into the secret lab. Only three people worked down here it seemed. Of course she guessed you would want to keep a cure for everything as quiet as possible. Her stomach still turned at the thought of all the lives that could be saved, all within the power of the Carsons yet they used it as a way to only preserve those in their societal level, and to get richer. Of course none of this showed on her face. She had been raised to be calm and collected, and to do her family’s bidding. Still it she felt like snatching the cure and running to the nearest hospital. Totally unlike her, she usually epitomized the perfect lady.
Andrew motioned her over and introduced to a man in his fifties she guessed. “This here is Dr. Rome. His grandfather and father both worked here before him. His grandfather came up with the original Cure in fact. Of course it has been improved on over the years. This Dr. Rome found a way to work behavioral cues into the Cure, making our offspring even more superior to those born as norms.”
“Norms?” Celeste asked, already knowing the answer.
“Those lesser people out there, those who cannot afford the Cure and who must toil away, always worrying about disease. With the help of our fine doctors here we have evolved, we are better than them on the genetic level now. Of course we need norms to keep doing the menial work that keeps our civilization going, but we are the superior race.” Andrew answered.
“We let out just enough medications to keep the population from dying en masse. We dole out small cures and it pays us very well. In fact we often experiment with tweaks to the Cure in those lesser medicines, see the side effects and perfect them before the Elite ever have a dose.” Dr. Rome provided.
“Welcome to the inner sanctum Celeste.” Andrew said as he slid a needle into her neck.
It's a new week and while some things are getting back to normal, I'm sure distractions are still appreciated. So here I am with another free short story to entertain you! This one was originally part of a Freddie Mercury tribute anthology a few years back, and since it has an LGBTQ+ theme, well I thought today would be a good day to share it for free! Enjoy!
Some Kind of Magic
By Sheri Velarde
Drew looked at the crowd before him and his heart swelled. He’d done it. He was making a difference with his life and in the life of so many others. He’d made something of himself. To him it meant that he had proved his father wrong. When he had been kicked out of the house at sixteen for coming out, his father’s parting words had been, “You will always be a loser! A loser making society worse by your very existence and perverted ways.” Well, as it turned out there were a lot of so-called perverts out there and Drew had made it his life’s mission to make things better for kids like he had once been. In just his lifetime so many changes had taken place. Partners of all sexes could get insurance, could live together as one with whomever they chose, and now could legally marry anyone their heart desired. Sure, discrimination and hardship still hit the LGBTQ community, but when he was living as a teen on the streets he never imagined that they would get this far. He had feared too many people like his father existed in the world for any change to take place.
Lost in his thoughts, he jumped when someone put their hand on his shoulder from behind. When he turned around his mind went blank for a second as he looked into the eyes of one of the hottest men he had ever seen. This man could be a male model, taking tall, dark and handsome to new levels. Finally he shook himself back to coherence. “Sorry, I spaced out there for a moment. Can I help you?” He tried to not let his eyes wander on the tall, lean and hot man in front of him and instead look into the man’s big brown eyes, which did nothing to tame the lust suddenly flowing through Drew.
“I was told that you are the person to talk to if I want to set up a fundraiser?” The Adonis before him said.
“Yes, my name is Drew Sanchez. What sort of fundraiser were you thinking of? Dinner? Burch? Perhaps a silent auction?”
“A magic show.” The man’s smile widened at Drew’s evident shock.
“I’m sorry, did you say magic show?”
“Yes, my name is Jonathon Simpson, better known down on the Strip as Jonathon the Magnificent. I want to do a very special performance to benefit the Las Vegas LBGTQ Alliance. What do you think? Is that something that you could help me with?”
“Yes, I can certainly help with that. I must say, it is one of the more unique fundraisers that I have helped on.” Drew said, smiling as Jonathon’s grin seemed contagious.
“Excellent! Why don’t you come to one of my shows, get an idea of how they run, the people who come, all of that and then we can meet and set a date? I have already cleared it with the venue, I can do it on a Sunday night after a matinee, so scheduling should not be too difficult.” Jonathan said, pulling his business card seemingly out of nowhere. “Just call the office and we will get you into a show. My personal number is on the back should you run into any problems and to contact me when you want to meet and plan.”
Drew took the card and just nodded, something about this man made him forget how to speak, made him nervous in a very pleasant way. Shaking his head, he didn’t have time nor any interest in romance, not anymore. Once upon a time he had dreamed of his very own prince in shiny armor, but then he grew up. Time to get back to business. “I will catch a show this week and then we can meet and discuss the fundraiser. Thank you so much for thinking about us, it’s rare that non-active members want to do something so large to help.”
“I wish I could be more active, but my show and my travel schedule keep me pretty busy. That doesn’t mean I am not in the fight for our rights. I donate time and money when I can. I hope to continue it even more now that I have a permanent show on the Strip, not as much traveling, more time for what is really important.” Jonathon said. He then bowed, “Until later this week.” With that he clapped his hands and vanished in a cloud of smoke.
Drew could only laugh and call the number on the card. He wanted to catch this man’s show sooner rather than later. Jonathon the Magnificent was not exactly the type of person someone met every day, not even in Vegas, and despite himself he really wanted to know more about the man behind the magic.
Four nights later Drew found himself on the Strip, in the Will Call line that led him to believe that Jonathon was indeed a very popular act. As he eavesdropped on the twenty-something intoxicated women in front of him, he couldn’t help but snicker.
“I got us front row this time! You know he always picks a volunteer out of the front two rows. This time he is sure to notice me! If I can just get back stage after the show, he will be mine!” One woman said, adjusting her breasts to show them even more.
“Not if I get to him first.” The next one giggled.
“Ladies he’s such a tall dish of yumminess there might be enough of him to share!” The third added before they all started laughing.
He must have laughed out loud, though he quickly tried to cover it as a cough.
“You find something funny?” The first woman said in a confrontational manner. “I bet a twink like you wishes you had a chance. Well forget about it.” She huffed and pulled her friends up ahead with her, cutting some other people off in line.
Drew stood there in shock for a moment. He had not faced open hatred and bigotry in quite a while. Being gay had once been something that he had struggled with when he was younger, mainly due to the blind hatred his father had for people like him. Now that he was an adult, an advocate, he thought he had moved past all that. Yet here one word from a drunk and all the old wounds opened up.
A man behind him, tapped him on the shoulder, “I wouldn’t let it get to me. They are just some silly fan girls. Nothing they say should be taken too seriously. I mean they think front row seats means they get to sleep with this guy, they aren’t the smartest.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Don’t know why I let them get to me.” Drew said, shaking himself and moving back into the line. The offending women had disappeared inside already and all he could hope for was that he was seated nowhere near them.
Luckily he was seated at the side of the stage, though he could see the women in question from his vantage point, they seemed oblivious to him. They had only managed to get louder and drunker if that were even possible and were making quite the spectacle of themselves right before the show started. Security came and had to quiet them down before the curtain time. If women like that were always in the audience, Drew had no idea how Jonathon put up with them on a nightly basis. Especially if they spent their time hitting on him. That thought sent a rush of irrational jealousy through Drew before he snapped himself back to reality, like he had any reason to be jealous.
Before he could stew anymore about the women, the lights dimmed and the show began by Jonathon appearing seemingly out of thin air. After that Drew only has eyes for the performer before him, everything else driven from his mind. The show ended and he made his way towards the backstage, as Jonathon had left instructions for him to come back. As he neared the entrance he noticed the very same women from before, trying in vain to get to Jonathon. Time for some payback, Drew thought to himself. He sauntered up to the security guards, putting more sway in his step than he ever had before. “I’m on the list, Jonathon personally requested I come in. Drew Sanchez.”
One guard checked the list, “Yes Mr. Sanchez, please go back, Jonathon is waiting for you.”
As he flounced by, Drew smirked, “Guess Jonathon the Magnificent prefers hanging out with twinks to sluts.” He then waved and disappeared behind the guards, laughing all the way at their stunned faces. Still snickering he looked around, expecting some sort of debauchery beyond imagine, but instead finding a calm and classy room with a few people here and there and Jonathon the center of attention of course.
Jonathon caught sight of Drew, smiled and extracted himself from the people surrounding him, before heading straight towards him. “Drew! So glad that you could make it! I trust you had no problems with the ticket or getting back here? What did you think of the show? Will it make a good fundraising opportunity? Did you enjoy yourself?”
Drew laughed. “Give a guy a second to answer.”
“Sorry, I get a little hyped up after a show. It takes a bit of time for me to calm down.” Jonathon laughed.
“No worries. Let me just say, the show was fantastic! I can’t believe that I have lived in Vegas all these years and this was my first magic show.Wow! Seriously that is all that I can say!” And here Drew had meant to play it cool and professional with Jonathon. He was here to help develop a fundraiser, not act like the fan girls outside, he just never stuck to plan around Jonathon for some reason.
At least from the smile on Jonathon’s face he didn’t seem to mind Drew’s unbridled enthusiasm. “That’s what I wanted to hear! I love what I do, but what I really like is entertaining people. Do you think that we can put on a good fundraiser here?”
“Yes. Definitely. I think this could be the biggest fundraiser we have had yet. The theater sits quite a few, with low overhead and good ticket prices, maybe even auction off a meet and greet with you? Have you teach some tricks? Yes, this would be quite successful.” Drew gushed just thinking about setting something so grand up. One night could make the budget for the Alliance for the whole year and then some.
“Great! Hey, why don’t I finish up here with some of the required glad handing that comes with working the Strip in Vegas and then we can head somewhere and start making some preliminary plans? Unless you have to leave? I am the kind of guy who is up half the night, so I sometimes forget that people have regular schedules out there.” Jonathon said with his usual pep and vigor.
“Yeah, sure. I don’t have any appointments in the morning, so we can start planning tonight.” Drew said, happier than he cared to admit to be spending the night with a hot man, even if it was just business and not a date. Not that Drew was interested in dating anyways. No, he was better off solo. But a man could certainly look.
It took another half hour for Jonathon to finish talking and socializing before he could change into some casual clothes and they could head out. “There are a couple diners we can head to or my place is not too far, we could go there for some guaranteed peace and quiet.” He suggested, a twinkle in his eye that made Drew wonder if Jonathon might have ulterior motives in asking him back to his house.
Shaking his head at such a preposterous idea, Drew answered, “Sure, peace and quiet sounds good. Your place it is. Let me go grab my car and I can follow you?”
“Here, let me give you the address and keypad access. I sometimes have to take a convoluted path as I have one or two overzealous fans.” Jonathon said as he quickly texted the information to Drew.
“Yes, I may have met a couple of them tonight. Not the nicest ladies in the world. I don’t know how you put up with it.” Drew answered before he could stop himself.
“No one gave you any problems did they?” Jonathon asked, the smile gone and concern evident in his eyes.
“Just some mouthy women, nothing to be concerned about. I think they were drunk. It doesn’t matter what they said. I just could not deal with the likes of them on a day to day basis like you.” Drew attempted to downplay everything. He didn’t want to talk about being called names and what that made him feel. Especially not with an alpha male like Jonathon. No one would even suspected he was gay unless he told them, he just appealed to everyone. He had probably never been called a twink in his life.
“I bet I know who you are talking about. The drunk ones in the front row? I have threatened to ban them before, looks like it is time to do that. Whatever they said, know that most of my fans are nothing like them. They are delusional women with no respect for others as they have none for themselves.” Jonathon said, anger evident in his voice. “I will take care of them and trust me, they will not be here again and will not ruin our fundraiser.” With that he marched to security and exchanged some words, the guards disappeared and Jonathon came back. “They are in for a rude awakening, their names and photos are going to be all over the Strip as trouble makers. They are not going to be welcome at very many places. Now, let’s not let them ruin any more of our night. Let’s go back to my place.”
Drew followed the directions and arrived at Jonathon’s place before the man himself. Apparently he really did have to take strange routes home, poor guy. Then Drew imagined the face of the rude women earlier if they knew not only had they been banned from any more of Jonathon’s performances, but that the twink they despised had been invited back to the object of their desire’s home. He smiled at that, imagining a few things that could happen being alone with Jonathon, just for fun of course, because he did not think anything of the sorts would really happen. Guys like Jonathon did not fall for guys like him. Hell guys like him didn’t even fall for Drew.
Before he could think of any more fantasies, a black luxury sedan pulled into the driveway. Jonathon got out, his usual smile on his face. “See you found the place. Sorry for being late, I had to take a couple little detours.”
“Your uber fans didn’t get the hint?” Drew smirked.
“No, apparently not. One of the hazards of the job I suppose, overzealous fans, some more persistent than others.” Jonathon said as he let them into his home. “Please, make yourself at home and I’ll grab us some wine. Red or white?”
Drew had been looking around the grand house before him. Magic sure paid more than he had thought. “Sorry, what? Quite the house you have here.”
Laughing, Jonathon agreed. “Yes, it is. It gets a little lonely in such a big place, but I keep it for when my family visits. Now that my dad has retired at least they come out more often. Yet I still hope to find someone to share it with one of these days, maybe even have kids in the future. But back to the topic at hand, wine. Red or white?”
“White, its summer time.” Drew said, suddenly feeling shy to be alone with Jonathon. He could try to deny it as much as he wanted, but he found the man pretty damn alluring. He wanted Jonathon no matter how much he was scared of ever dating again.
He stood around awkwardly thinking if he should leave before temptation got to be too much, when Jonathon reappeared with two glasses and an opened bottle of wine. “Sit, get comfortable. I promise not to bite, well not unless asked.” He showed a toothy grin.
Drew blushed. “I’m not sure that this is such a good idea. Maybe we should talk about the fundraiser later, somewhere else, somewhere…” He trailed off, not knowing how to finish.
“I didn’t invite you here for just business, I think that you know that. Why are you so scared? I thought that I had picked up on some interest from your side as well, if I was wrong I apologize, but surely you know I am not the type of man to force myself on another. Tell me what’s got you so skittish all of a sudden?”
Looking at the ground, Drew didn’t quite know what to say. As confident as he was in the business world, in making the lives of the LGBTQ people better, he still had not learned to fully accept himself or his desires. “No, of course I don’t think you are the sort to push advances on someone unwilling. Why would you need to, you are gorgeous and charming, and have members of all sexes chasing after you.”
“So you think I am gorgeous and charming, yet you seemed scared to be alone with me? Tell me what is wrong Drew?” Jonathon walked over and tipped Drew’s face up to meet his eyes. “What happened to that confident gay man that I met at the rally last week?”
“That man only exists in the work world, in the world where relationships don’t happen, in the world where I project who I want to be, not who I really am.” Drew admitted, trying to break away from Jonathon’s gaze, but the other man would not take his probing eyes away. “I am good at business, at fighting for everyone to have equal rights, fighting for things that help others. I am not good at relationships, or my own sexuality for that matter.” He finally admitted, closing his eyes to try to escape his immense embarrassment.
“Surely you have been in relationships before? None of us are all that good at them until we meet the right person, I can assure you. I don’t have a great track record in that department either, clearly I’m still alone. But why are you so insecure about yourself, about your sexuality? You are a good looking, intelligent and successful man. Any man would be lucky to have you.” Jonathon said with sincerity.
“I… I don’t know… I have been in a few relationships, but none have lasted very long and all have ended badly. I… I guess I’m just no good at them. My father predicted that I would be alone forever, me and my perversion as he called it. I’m sure a therapist would trace it all back to him.” Drew said, some anger coming out of him at last. He never talked about this. Never. So why was he telling all of this to a virtual stranger? “You are some kind of magician. I did go to therapy for a while and he couldn’t even get me to talk about my dad beyond the fact that he was not supportive and kicked me out of the house when I was outed by some sites he caught me visiting. What is it about you that has me spilling all of this?”
“You feel a connection to me, I feel it too. I felt it the night we met. Plus, my guess is that you have been bottling things up so long that you were bound to pop sooner or later, all you needed was someone to just push a little. It’s not magic, it’s called being human.” Jonathon took his hand and led Drew to the couch. “Let is out, I can see the pain inside of you. Just talk. Say what you need to say, life is too short to not say what is in your heart.”
And that’s what Drew did. He started talking and found that he could not stop. He talked about being different as a child, to just starting to explore his sexuality as a teen before being found out by his bigoted father and kicked out of the house. His time on the street, finally finding his place by fighting for the right of others like him, but never really dealing with being gay for himself. As he spoke it almost felt like poison was being sucked from his soul, he felt lighter, accepted for whom he really was at last. Nothing physical happened between Jonathon and Drew that night other than some comforting hugs and supportive hand holding, but it was the end of Drew’s old life and the beginning of something new and wonderful. After that night he was a new man, a confident man, a man finally dealing with his turbulent past.
Drew looked over at Jonathon and smiled, holding his hand tightly in his own. “Magic, one night and some kind of magic, that is what changed everything and brought us together. Jonathon truly is magnificent for not only brought me to life in a matter of speaking, but he taught me to love myself and others, mainly him. I am proud to call him husband.”
Jonathon smiled at him, beaming with joy and love. “I may be a magician by trade, but I never understood true magic until the day you walked into my life. Now, let’s have our first dance.” He cued the DJ and Queen came on, A Kind of Magic played, and Drew danced with his new husband laughing at the turns life had taken.
Awesome indie author Candi Fox has a new release coming out June 30th and she is here to share a bit about Twisted Time! It is available for preorder here:
And just look at that gorgeous cover! I've preordered my copy and look forward to reading it!
Here is a little about Twisted Time:
Are Cord and Emma doomed before they even start?
He’s in a magickally induced coma. Taking desperate measures, Emma drinks an unknown potion from an enemy posing as a friend.
Both women want the same man. One will save him, and one will be his doom. Which will he choose?
It's a new week and while many are getting their lives slightly back to normal, I am still trying to provide free stories for people to read as my way of giving back. Enjoy!
Operation Savior Machine
By Sheri Velarde
Back in the days of old, in the days that are only remembered in books, people had rights. People voted, they helped one another, they had choices. People ruled the government, they ruled themselves. That was before the corporations took over, before they became the government and told people what to do, what to think. My uncle even claimed that they began pumping drugs into our water so that they could control us, make us into “worker bees” as he likes to say. I don’t know if any of that is true, but it seems it could be.
I wish I had been born back in that time, when I could have been anything, I could have been an individual. Now there are no more “I’s” only the collective which does the will of the One Corporation. In this current society I am nothing, I don’t even have a name. I’m a number and a code word. 47Star. What kind of name is that I ask? Once upon a time people had names, like David, Michael, Sara, Darlene. Oh how I wish I had a name like that. I was not even allowed to grow up with my parents, I was raised in a collective school with all the other children in my age group, so as to not have too deep of an attachment to the family unit. I did not make friends at the school, we were not allowed to be friends, just coworkers, drones who did what we were told. I had a hard time dealing with the orders, I always asked questions, and needless to say I got to know punishment quite well.
I have never fit in. I was too curious. I read too much. I craved knowledge. I cut my hair and dresses differently, well as differently as I could with limited resources. We were all supposed to blend in with one another, never stick out, never be an individual. I should not have been born into this time, I don’t belong here. I guess it’s good that there soon might not be a here. Rumor has it that One Corporation has sold us, all of us, the entire world. Not that we were supposed to know that. Actually I’m not sure many of the people care, they are numb to the world as is.
For some reason my family is not numb. We are not zombies. We think for ourselves and that has made us a danger to the One Corporation. My father and uncle have been seeking others like us, others who want to stop One Corporation and let people live free. Tonight we’ve snuck out to meet the others, to start what I guess would once have been called a rebellion, we will save the world. Our code name is Operation Savior Machine.
My father worked in a propaganda unit, a newspaper. Some of the heads of the One Corporation came in weekly to tell them what to print. They also talked in private with their representative there, the so called editor. My father worked next door to the editor’s office and could hear everything through the vents. That’s how we learned of the sale. That’s what we were here to discuss tonight.
Uncle 16Bow took the stage, always having a way with words and people, “We are all here tonight because we know that the One Corporation lies to us on a daily basis. What we did not know before was the extent of those lies. What I am about to tell you will shock you, will seem unbelievable, but it is all true, heard from the mouth pieces of the One Corporation when they thought us unimportant people weren’t listening.” He paused and grab a contraband book that we had in our secret library. “We all know that once mankind traveled to space, to the moon and beyond. The One Corporation tried to cover that up, but we now know that this is the truth, for there are others out there in space.”
“Others?” A woman up front asked. “What do you mean by others?”
“The old term used was extraterrestrials I believe.” I piped up, this subject had always fascinated me.
“Being from other planets?” Someone towards the back asked.
“Yes. Very advanced beings and apparently very wealthy, for they are buying this world.” My uncle answered.
“How can they buy the world? What about us?” Another shout came out.
“One Corporation in essence own everything, they have made a deal to sell the world, human included with the exception of themselves of course. They are to be relocated to an undisclosed location. We will be left to fend for ourselves against unknown odds.” Uncle 16Bow said.
Conversations erupted all over the room, people were worried and angry.
“This has to be stopped.”
“How can we stop this?”
“We need to take down One Corporation.”
“The sale must be stopped.”
“What kind of monsters try to sell the world?”
It went on and on. Finally I spoke up again. “We have to attacked the One Corporation and destroy them before the sale takes place. We all know where their headquarters is. Some of us even have access. But first we need more clearheaded people. We need to get to the water filtration system, see if people are being forced to ingest drugs and stop it if we can. If the others wake up to the reality of the world, well there are too many of us to stop. If we control the world, well then we can stop anything.”
Funny, everyone listened to me even though I was the youngest one in attendance. Something inside of me had awoken, I just knew what needed to be done and if I had to lead so be it.
The next week we filled with nothing but planning. We had limited time, but we couldn’t get caught or all would be lost. Those who worked in the One Corporation headquarters kept spying and searching for vulnerabilities. Same went for the workers at the water filtration center. The best thing about the corporate monsters thinking we were mindless drones was the fact that they never suspected anything.
Exactly one week after Operation Savior Machine commence, four of us snuck into the water filtration plant. My uncle had worked there all his life and knew his way around. He had also lifted a set of keys unnoticed by the One Corporation rep who ran the plant. The security guards had been drones, easily taken care of though none of us relishing harming others. Sure enough once we got into the “top secret” room where only the corporate manager went, drugs were found. Working quickly we replaced them with what my mother called placebos, she worked in the hospital system and said they were quite common. They looked exactly like the pills being deposited in the water system and should go undetected from the One Corporation until it was too late.
As we left I pondered why some of us weren’t affected by the drugs, but my mother said some people just built up natural resistance. That’s why whole families seemed to be immune. I shook my head and thought about the more important matter at hand. Hopefully once others were clear minded like us, well they would see what had to be done.
Phase one competed, all we could do for now was plan and wait for the drugs to exit from peoples’ systems. According to what we had managed to learn, we only had a few weeks to prevent the sale and possible destruction of our planet. Weapons had been gathered, plans were being made, and soon we would have the numbers that we needed. Then we would make our stand. Even if we lost, we would make sure that One Corporation lost as well. No one would sell my home, my people. I’d destroy us all before I let that happen.
After only a day we began to see a change in the people around us. People began to wake up for the first time in their lives. As they did, someone for Operation Savior Machine would be there to tell them the truth, to tell them they needed to fight. One week later we had a full-fledged army. Time to make out move.
While some people worked at the One Corporation headquarters, there were none alive that had entered the inner portion of the compound, the place where the leaders lived. Even many of their own had never seen these leaders, the ones who controlled everything. Tonight they would be unmasked and shown for what they really were, monsters who had enslaved an entire population.
Somehow I had become the leader, the rallying point. My father guessed it might be my slightly unconventional look, the fact that I had been defying the One Corporation little by little since the very beginning. I was seen as a rebel and I was okay with that. I would lead the charge gladly and if had to die for others to have freedom, I would be ready.
They had to know we were coming. They had the best surveillance around their headquarters and most of the population moving towards one location would be rather hard to miss. We had taken the liberty of arming ourselves thanks to the very guards who usually patrolled the perimeter, leaving the One Corporation virtually unguarded. Sure we would have to break through their technology, but they had gotten too arrogant, thinking that they controlled all humans, to think we would be a threat. Big mistake.
The actual storming of the headquarters took very little time. Soon the walls were breached and our mob was busy rounding up any and all the elite of One Corporation. My uncle and I were making sure that the perimeter had been secured and that there was no secret means of escaping, so we entered the room holding the leaders of the corporation a bit late.
We were confused by the eerie silence that met us, eyes followed us as we made our way further into the room. Since the two of us had somehow became the unofficial leaders of the rebellion, a path cleared for us as we passed by. Once we got to our captives we both stopped, shocked. I immediately looked towards my parents who were near us, they looked back the same expression of disbelief in their eyes.
“We’ve been waiting for you.” One of the captives said, a sadistic smile on her face. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her, it was like looking into the mirror. We could have been twins. She was surrounded by other familiar faces, those of my family and the others who had been resistant to the drugs in the water. Yet those people were standing next to me, these were look-a-likes in better clothes. When none of us said anything she continued. “You didn’t really think that we were so oblivious to not know about your little uprising, did you? Surely you must have expected that everything went too smoothly. We let you in.”
“Why?” I asked, the word almost catching in my throat. Had this all really been a set up? But why? To what purpose?
“Because the rumor that we sold the world was just to see if you were ready, if you were smart enough to be put to good use.” A man that looked like my uncle said.
“Tomorrow the drugs will go back in the water and most of the people in your rebellion will forget everything, go back to their lives we see fit for them to lead. But a special few of you… well we have other plans for you.” The first woman said.
“What kind of plans?” I asked, proud that my voice was louder this time.
“Well there is a sale taking place, not the world per se, but you will never be seen in these walls again.” My clone continued.
“You’re selling us? You can’t do that!” I burst forth, trying to reach her. An unseen force threw me back.
“Oh you will do as we say, as you can see we have far superior protection that you ever dreamed of. Plus we have the added bonus that we know how you will react, for we were you once upon a time.”
I shook my head no. “That can’t be. We are nothing like you. We are trying to save the world, to save our people, not control and manipulate them.”
My double laughed. “Do you honestly think this is the first Operation Savior Machine? That is how all our colonies start, the strongest rising to the top and proving that they are ready to lead. Your resistance to our drugs are part of you, the part of you that is us. Same goes for the implanted memories of the past, of how to rebel, of the operation that proves your worthiness. You will be sent out to colonize another location, to start a new corporation on behalf of those who purchased you. Soon you will be exactly like us, genetically engineered to rule, to stay young and live longer than most. You are chosen, you should be consider yourself lucky.”
“Lucky? You are selling us like slaves! I won’t do it. You can’t turn us into monster like you!” I screamed, trying to make a break for it.
The unseen force once again took ahold of me, this time restraining me and dragging towards a door in the back. I screamed, but no one could hear me anymore. Just before we got to the door I heard a melodic voice in head, “Welcome to the future, this may hurt a little.”
I am so happy to share the cover for the latest horror anthology that I am happy to be a part of, Cardinal: Commit 7 Deadly Sins! I had some much fun writing my contribution, Seeing Green! I am super excited for this anthology to come out on June 30!
Preorder links are already up!
Pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth...
Which of the Sins have you committed?
I am still trying to provide some reading pleasure during difficult times, so here is another free short story for you all this week. Enjoy!
“Elf Tales Do Come True”
By Sheri Velarde
Fairy tales hardly ever come true for quiet girls. That’s why Nola always strived to stand out in a crowd. Sure, she was an elf and maybe she didn’t want an actual “fairy” tale, but she certainly didn’t want to be overlooked simply because she was not a pure blood. Why should pure bloods have all the fun and glory? She was just as smart, tough, and powerful as almost any other elf out there. All she yearned for was a chance to prove her worth.
It seemed unlikely that she would get that chance to show her true qualities though, for as soon as she came of age she was placed in the servitude ranks, meant to serve the royals but never be equal to them. The way Zanna, the crown princess and highest ranking enforcer elf, and her chosen friends pranced around you would have thought their excrement didn’t smell. Well she cleaned their privies and knew better, they were just like her, but stuck up. Zanna and her second in command, Kalan, were the worst; they acted like she didn’t exist even if she happened to be standing right in front of them. What she wouldn’t give to get some respect from them and to wipe the smugness from their faces.
After two hundred years of being treated as an inferior, her chance finally came, but not in a way that she would have ever expected. The royals were going on an expedition to the rain forest in the human realm and as this was to be a large party, they required some servant elves to come along. Of course she was expected to stay behind at camp and never join in the fun, but at least it got her out of the castle. The human realm fascinated her and she enjoyed it often when she had time off from her duties, so the thought of exploring the exotic part of that realm thrilled her.
Of course the beginning of the journey went as she expected; Zanna, Kalan and the other “chosen” acted as if she weren’t there and only spoke to her if they needed something done. Ama, the Queen, however went along on this trip to search for medicinal plants and she had always been kinder than her daughter to those who served her. She treated all elves and creatures with respect, so Nola was thrilled when the Queen asked her specifically to attend her on her tasks while away. Little did she know that would be a true turning point in her life.
While the “warriors” were off proving how great they were, Ama and Nola wandered in search of rare plants. The forest seemed quiet and peaceful and Ama brought her own sereneness to her surroundings. While a nice change of pace for her life, Nola expected nothing exciting to happen. She was lost in her own thoughts when the Queen spoke, so she missed whatever had been said.
“I’m so sorry your highness, could you please repeat that?” Nola hoped she had not offended the Queen.
“Please, call me Ama. I only wished to get to know you better. You are always so quiet and reserved, I want to know the elf behind the sheltered exterior. One so young should not be so sad.” Ama looked at her expectedly, kindness shining in her eyes.
Before she could stop to think, the truth began to spill from her mouth. “I have no desire to be a serving elf. I want to be a warrior, I was top of my class in everything back in the academy, yet Zanna looked at me as if I were inferior because I am not a pure blood.” She clapped her hands to her mouth in fear. How could she have insulted the Queen’s very daughter in front of her? She had no idea what kind of punishment she should expect for such an infraction.
Ama instead gave her a sad smile. “My daughter often places too much importance on blood. She must either learn to become more humble or I fear it will be her downfall. I can arrange for you to change ranks if you would like. I hate seeing a sole so miserable.”
“You would do that for me? I’m just a servant. How would Zanna react?” Nola didn’t know if she should dare hope for a change in her station. Could it ever be possible for her dream of being a warrior to come true?
“I am still Queen and Zanna will respect my appointment. Is it something that you wish for me to do?”
“Yes, my heart desires nothing more.” Nola answered.
Nola felt happier than she could ever remember while they continued their search for rare plants. She amused herself thinking of the horrified look on Zanna’s face when her mother forced her to recognize Nola as an equal. It took all the self-control she had to not start laughing at her own musings. She needed to keep it together, she didn’t want to make Ama doubt her sanity before she made her dreams a reality. She became so lost in her own daydreams that she didn’t notice when the Queen moved out of sight, it wasn’t until she heard a scream that she realized something was amiss.
“Your majesty, are you alright?” She called, running in the direction of the noise and hoping that she wasn’t too late. She couldn’t let her fondest wish crash and burn before it even came into fruition. She drew the dagger she always kept hidden in her boot and slowed her pace when she saw movement up ahead. There was definitely someone or something other than herself and Ama out there in the forest.
Nola stopped making noise and inched closer to Ama. She could hear some soft muttering and tried to make out the words. “No… Why are you… You can’t…” She could only catch bits and pieces of what Ama was saying to her assailant and all she could hear was a low, muffled rumble from the attacker, enough to let her know that she as dealing with a man. Be he elf or human she did not know.
As she got closer she could see Ama on the ground, kneeling awkwardly as if she were injured. A form covered head to toe in a black robe stood before her, brandishing a spear. If only she had the weapons of the elves, a bow and arrow, she could take care of this right now. Instead she had to chance getting closer in order to deal with the threat. She only hoped she could get the jump and not put the Queen in anymore danger.
Luck and fate must have been on her side, for the hooded menace seemed to be paying her no attention. All of his focus was on the Queen. Ama did however see Nola sneaking towards her assailant and tried to distract him even more. “You will never get away with this. My daughter and all of her top fighters are here in the forest, there will be no escaping them.”
The man laughed. “Your precious daughter is far away from here and she only left a mere servant elf to protect you. Makes you wonder how much she really cares about her mother, doesn’t it? No matter. I will not even be in this dimension when she finally finds you. Now give me the key, I know you always carry it on you. Hand it over and I promise to make your death quick.”
“You don’t know as much as you seem to think. Do you not think our halls aren’t protected by more than keys? You will never get through and be able to steal our riches, key or no key.” Ama stood, defiant and distracting at the same time.
“Fool, it’s not your riches I am after, it is your power.” He drew a knife of his own and moved towards the Queen.
In position and out of time, Nola pounced. She caught the man unprepared, jumping on his back and placing her dagger to his throat. “Drop the knife or I’ll slit you ear to ear.” He dropped his weapon and Ama quickly grabbed it. Nola however didn’t budge, she was ready to kill if need be. “Now would you care to explain why you tried to kill the Queen? And let’s just take this hood off and see who you are.” Not moving her blade from his neck she ripped his hood off so that at least Ama could see the face of who had tried to attack her.
Ama let out a gasp. “No! Kraven? Zanna and Kalan said you were dead!”
“More like the chosen two left me for dead!” He spat. “Couldn’t be bothered to save a lesser elf, or have him take some of their glory either. That’s why I came after you, if I could get to the scepter of power I could make them pay for nearly killing me. They would have to serve me! I could ruin them!” Kraven laughed, the sound of a crazed man with nothing to lose.
Ama lowered the knife she held, sorrow seeping into her face. “Kraven, I am sorry that you must have suffered greatly being left behind, but surely you know that there is no way for you to control the scepter of power. Not even Zanna has proven herself worthy of that, only Bael and myself can touch it. You would be destroyed even attempting to lift it.”
“I am already destroyed! Your Zanna saw to that! Do you have any idea what the humans did to me? The experiments I was subjected to? Not once did I give away our secrets. Not only that but I escaped and destroyed all those who had studied me and all of their records. I protected the realms! I am worthy! Worthier than your heartless daughter!” He laughed again and the sound chilled Nola to the core.
With no warning Kraven flung himself forward with Nola still on his back. Instinctively Ama raised the knife in her hands and not only did Nola’s dagger dig deep into his neck, but he impaled himself as well, his blood gushing out over Ama’s hands. He still laughed even as he died, “Now my blood is on your hands as much as on your daughter’s. May it bring a curse upon your family.” A few more gurgling sounds and then he finally laid still.
Nola jumped off his back and rushed to the Queen. “Your Highness, are you alright? Were you hurt?”
Ama shook her head, but she still looked shaken none the less, “I am fine. This poor soul. What he must have suffered. I knew him, such a good elf and soldier. Zanna told me he was lost, killed on a mission here in the human realm. That must have been seven or eight years ago. Something terrible must have happened to him to turn him into what we just saw, someone with no care for themselves or others.”
“His mind was gone. Only thoughts of revenge remained. In a way I understand that.” Nola answered, busying herself cleaning off the Queen.
“Yes, so can I. We must summon Zanna here. She has to see him with her own eyes and then I will ask for the explanation of this.” The Queen concentrated, clearly contacting her daughter telepathically. She then turned back to Nola, “I must thank you for saving my life Nola. If not for you Kraven would have killed me on his death quest for revenge. Now I am really pleased to offer you a warrior position among our ranks.”
Just then Zanna walked in out of nowhere, traveling between dimensions to reach them sooner. She must have caught the last part of their exchange for she laughed. “A serving elf elevated to warrior? What madness had taken you mother?”
“Nola saved my life. I also hear that she was top of her classes in warrior skills yet you passed her over because of her lineage. But that is not why I have called you here Zanna. Kraven just tried to kill me and Nola fought bravely to stop him. You told me Kraven had been killed, did you not?” Nola had never seen the Queen look so scary. Even the always unflappable Zanna cowered from the power radiating from her mother.
“Kraven? But that’s impossible. He was shot several times, beyond our healing capabilities. We hated to leave him, but…” she trailed off as her eyes wandered to Kraven’s lifeless face, still frozen in a silent but malevolent laugh. “No, I don’t understand.” For once her confidence and bravado were gone.
“He was mad, that much was clear, but as you can see until very recently very much alive. He said humans had captured him and that he had been subjected to tests and tortures for years. He blamed you for leaving him behind and his hate corrupted his mind. Can you please explain to me how you left him for dead? How could you leave an elf in the hands of the humans all these years? How could you leave a member of your team without being certain that he was indeed dead? Not only did Kraven suffer a fate worse than death, but you also risked the exposure of our kind and the magical realm to humans! How could you be so careless Zanna?” Anger radiated from the usually calm Ama. Nola stepped back, scared and happy all at once, seeing Zanna tremble gave her a feeling of satisfaction.
“I told you, he was shot too many times. We thought there would be no hope of survival. We had entered a human medical facility where it was rumored they had elf DNA. We were caught, Kraven protected our backs while we gathered what we came for, we did not think he survived. He should have died and his body would have returned to the magical realm…” The unflappable Zanna actually shed a tear and kneeled before her mother. “Forgive me. What I did was inexcusable as a leader and as an elf.”
“Yes, it was. Your pride will be your downfall Zanna unless you learn some humility. You must return to the facility where Kraven was taken, make sure there is no evidence of our kind left there for humans to study. I will go speak with Kraven’s family. They deserve to know the truth of what happened to him.” Ama turned as if to leave, but thought better of it. “And Nola will go with you. You will treat her as an equal or I will know about it. I will be watching you very closely Zanna. Remember your position is a place of honor, one that can be taken away. I know you thirst to rule the realms yourself one day, but until you prove that you are indeed worthy of the trust and magic that comes with that responsibility you will do as I say.”
Eyes downcast Zanna answered. “Yes mother.”
Ama turned towards Nola, “I ask you to be my point of contact on this investigation Nola. Consider it your first assignment as a warrior and law enforcement elf.”
“Yes your majesty.” Nola nodded.
“Zanna, I expect you to act befitting someone in your position. You are a leader and that does not make you better than those you command. Take that to heart from here on out, learning humility and to value others is the biggest lesson for you yet to learn.”
Zanna nodded and then Ama disappeared, entering the magical realm. Kraven’s body had already disappeared. Nola was left alone in the forest with Zanna. She expected attitude and disdain now that the Queen had left. What she got instead was shocking. “Thank you got saving my mother. I fear that I misjudged you when you were ready to be placed Nola. Forgive me, I fear my mother is right and I have let pride and the idea of blood purity cloud my judgment for far too long. I need to change but I am not sure I even know how.”
Nola didn’t know what to say. An apology from Zanna? Something in her softened ever so slightly towards the elf she had hated for so long. “I went from being a servant to a hero and warrior elf in a matter of moments, so anything is possible if you just have confidence in yourself.”
Zanna smiled. “You do not have to be kind to me, I know how I have treated you in the past.”
“Yes and I despised you up until now. However your mother’s kindness to me and the way hate twisted a fellow elf has taught me forgiveness and to let go of old hurts. Learn from this Zanna and then none of this will be in vain.”
“You are right. You know Nola, I think you are going to make an excellent warrior elf.”
“I know.” Nola smiled, her new life was already starting off on the right foot.
I'm back with another free short story for you all to read and enjoy! I actually quite like this one and I think that it may end up being part of a much longer story in the future. I hope that you are all doing well and staying safe. Enjoy!
Next Drink is on Me
By Sheri Velarde
Gwen slammed the whiskey in front of her as she waited for the bar to close to mortals and the real drinks to start flowing. “God I miss hunting. Stupid new laws.” She mumbled to herself. Truth be told, she missed a lot of things about the old days. Gwen longed for the shadows, for the friends that can only be made out of need and trust. Everything had become far too open and fake for her liking. Maybe she didn’t belong in this century, maybe she should take a long sleep and hope that when she woke up things had changed.
As she sat there lost in her morose thoughts, she barely noticed someone sit down next to her. “You look like you could use another drink.”
“Piss off.” Gwen said not even looking up.
“Now is that anyway to greet an old friend?” Gwen turned and nearly fell off her stool, which only made the man sitting next to her laugh. “You’re still the only clumsy vampire that I have ever come across in all of my long years.”
“Jacob! It’s been over a hundred years! What are you doing here in a secret vampire bar in Chicago of all places? Last I heard you would never leave Europe for the new world.”
“It’s been closer to two hundred years actually and I said I’d never sail to the Americas, there is this thing called an airplane now and it makes travel much easier, not to mention quicker so that I can get back to my ancestral lands before I start to lose the magic of my blood.” Jacob signaled for the bartender to bring them more whiskey.
“I still can’t believe it’s you. I haven’t seen anyone from our old crew since I came to America. You still haven’t answered what you are doing here.” Gwen said as she regained some of her senses. Jacob was actually here sitting in front of her after all this time. Once upon a time she had begged him to come with her, but he wouldn’t leave his homeland. He also wouldn’t go against his clan and have a romance with a night walker like her. Truth be told the man sitting next to her now was the reason she had never returned to Europe and her old friends.
“Would you believe that the seer of my clan sent me here?” Jacob shrugged, though his eyes told that there was much more than he said.
“That Cassandra pretender actually let you leave? Last I remember she tried to keep you on a short leash, mainly because she thought that if she threw herself at you enough that you two could pop out a couple of pups.” Gwen took another shot.
“I can see that you have lost none of your bite over the years, still as snarky as ever. You know that could be why you are drinking alone in a bar, you send out unfriendly vibes.”
Rolling her eyes, Gwen turned to look at him, “You used to find me friendly enough once upon a time, until the opinion of others swayed your way of thinking. Funny that your seer would send you to me of all people, she had to know that I lived here. So spill it, what are you doing here Jacob?”
“Do you remember when I used to tell you the legends of the werewolves? Of how the magic in our blood has certain demands?”
“Of course I do, we were just talking about how you can’t leave your homeland for long or you might start aging despite the magic of your kind. What of it? So you can travel more freely now with planes, what does that have to do you with showing up here after all this time? Just spit it out, you know I have no patience and it’s still an hour before my kind get the good stuff to drink and I’m getting crankier by the moment.”
“Aren’t you at least a little happy to see me? You used to be quite fond of me, are you telling me all those feelings have disappeared?” Jacob reached out and brushed a finger down her cheek, sending a shiver throughout her body.
“Please Jacob, tell me why you are here. I don’t like to be teased.”
To her shock Jacob seemed to grow nervous, clearing his throat and shifting in his seat like he didn’t know what to say. “You see my kind, all shifters to be told, we are not meant to be solitary creatures.”
“Yes, yes, you are pack creatures, will you please get to the point?” Gwen interrupted.
“To truly be happy we need more than our pack, we need love to truly live.” Jacob lifted her chin so that she had to look at him. The look in his eyes, it couldn’t mean what she thought it did.
“And what does this have to do with me?” Gwen gulped as she waited for his reply.
“I think that you know what that means. I was wrong to let you go all those years ago, never has a werewolf found his match in a non-shifter, I deluded myself that I had to let you go in order to find the one I was meant to be with. As it turned out you and I were meant to be all along and I was an idiot to not see that.” He leaned closer, his voice now barely a whisper. “Can you ever find it in your heart to forgive me?”
“You know that I have not truly felt alive since I left you.” Gwen whispered.
Jacob frowned, “I will spend the rest of eternity making that you to you if you let me. I am sorrier than I can ever convey for hurting you, I…”
Gwen leaned in and pressed her lips against his, “Next drink is on me.”
Jacob smiled and kissed her back.
Author, artist, jewelry maker and all around creative person. I write in many genres and have a lot of fun doing so. Please take a look around and enjoy!