Category: writing prompt response

(WP) Daisy in the Sky with Diamonds

(WP) Daisy in the Sky with Diamonds

               Her dream had always been to fly. To climb higher than the clouds, to shatter the Earth’s atmosphere. To go where no one had dared before, past even the stars.

               What answers awaited her up there?

               Daisy was so absorbed in her own thoughts, her eyes on the sky, that she crashed into someone on the sidewalk and end up falling, her butt meeting the rough concrete painfully.

               She lay down on the sidewalk, breathing hard through the pain.

               Why, oh why, couldn’t she just watch where she was going?

               “Oh! I’m so sorry!”

               A deep male voice sounded through the fog of her pain. She’d definitely have a bruise in the morning from this collision.

               “I didn’t see you there! Are you all right?”

               When the fog cleared, she blinked up at the unfortunate person who had run into her. With her head in the clouds, she hadn’t at all been paying attention to where she was walking. Daisy felt a pink flush beginning to climb, from her chest to her neck.

               “I’m fine!” She said, starting to stand up. Before she realized what was happening, there was a warm hand wrapped around her forearm, helping her to stand up straight.

               “It was my fault,” She added, laughing shyly. “I didn’t see where I was going. I’m so sorry.”

               Now that she was standing, she could see his face.

               He was so handsome that it should have been made a crime. Or he should’ve come with a warning label. He had skin that was kissed by the sun; the tan lines around his eyes and on his shoulders told Daisy he spent a lot of time outdoors. His face was covered in freckles, and his eyes were a brown so dark they reminded Daisy of black coffee.

               “How rude of me,” She said, feeling her blush grow from her neck to her cheeks. “I bumped into you and I didn’t even introduce myself!”

               She held out a hand, smiling. “I’m Daisy. Daisy DeLuca.”

               Her new companion smiled, and she decided she liked the way his eyes crinkled at the corners when he did so.

               “I’m Seth. I’m happy to meet you! Although I wish it had been on better circumstances.” He laughed, putting a hand behind his neck and rubbing it in a self-conscious manner.

               “It’s wonderful to meet you, Seth. Would you please allow me to buy you a coffee? It’s the least I can do after crashing into you like that.”

               “I’d like that, Daisy. And you can tell me what you see in the sky that looks so interesting.”

               **

               “And that’s how your mother and I met,” Seth said at the dinner table one night, telling the story to their two children, Lily and Rose.

               Seth had insisted on naming their girls after flowers, in tribute to their mother.

               Daisy smiled at her husband, blushing warmly as she remembered their first meeting. Of all ways to meet the love of your life!

               She had received so much in her life. First Seth, and then the sky.

               She couldn’t ask the universe for anything more.

               **  

Regular

(WP) Death’s Last Dance

               One minute, the room is full of laughing, talking people, and my partner and I are dancing through the crowd, parting the huge ocean of people. It’s almost overwhelming, all of my senses firing. I can smell his cologne, and he smiles down at me.

               “You look lovely tonight, Lyra,” He purrs into my ear, and I shiver, holding onto him tighter as we float through the crowd. “I cannot wait to make our announcement. Everyone will be so excited!”

               Then, within the next moment, everything is gone. The music cuts off abruptly, and the room is empty. The floor is pure, white marble, and my dress, a confection of blue silk, is suddenly red, as wine or as blood.

               The darkness is so complete I can see almost nothing, but from above, two spotlights appear. The white light shines down on me, blinding me after the darkness.

               On the other side of the room, a shrouded figure stands under the other spotlight, silent, watching me. And when its glowing eyes find mine, I know what’s happening.

               “It’s my time, isn’t it?”

               “Yes, it is.” The voice is impossible to identify, heavy and full of so many timbres that I can’t figure out whether it’s male or female, young or old.

               “May I finish my dance? Please? If this is the last time that I am to have on Earth, I just… I want to say goodbye. Please.”

               Perhaps it is selfish, asking Death for one last dance, but I can’t help it.

               For once in my life, everything was starting to go right. But I’ve known this was coming, I knew it wasn’t last.

               Why, then, does it hurt so terribly?

               I guess even for the most prepared soul, no one is ever really ready to die.

               My new companion watches me, hands folded across the handle of a long, wicked scythe. The blade gleams brightly under the spotlight, a purple so dark it looks almost black. There is a pregnant pause, and for a moment, I fear that my request will be denied.

               “Know that I don’t grant requests like this often,” It says, so quiet I have to strain my ears to hear it, “but as you have done so well in preparing for my arrival, you may.”

               **

               Just as suddenly as everything stopped, it all starts again. I’m still in Patrick’s arms, held tightly against his body as we waltz.

               All the noise filters back in, and I wince, resisting the urge to cover my ears.

               Patrick’s lips are moving, but everything else is so loud I can’t hear him.

               “I need to tell you something!” I say in his ear, and he pulls back, staring at me, eyebrows knitted in concern.

               “What is it, darling? You look so frightened.”

               “I have to go, Patrick. I have to leave. I’m sorry. Goodbye.”

               I lean forward and kiss his lips, briefly, trying to memorize the taste of him: wine and salt and something uniquely his.

               When I pull away, it all disappears again, and the figure appears in front of me, holding out a hand to guide me home.

               And I take it.

               **

(WP) Mysterious as the Dark Side of the Moon

(WP) Mysterious as the Dark Side of the Moon

               This year, it had been she who’d been selected to journey over to the dark side of the earth.

               Everyone knew that it wasn’t habituated to humans; only the legends had told of what lurked in the darkness on the other side.

               All her life, she’d been bathed in light, safe and happy and content. For the most part. There was a part of her that yearned to explore it, to unlock its mysteries.

Even the old books in the Library’s archive did little to shed light on what had been there before.

There had been rumors, of course. A plague or virus that killed off the human population and mutated the plant and animal life. Human hubris that had ruined all, turned the fertile land to sand. Tales of crops withering and dying, and then the people became crumpled, lifeless husks themselves. No one really knew for sure.

The night before she was supposed to set out, she was allowed a brief repast with her friends and family, on the chance that she didn’t make it back. In her tiny apartment, her family and friends crowded over a meal fit more for a queen than an explorer, even an intergalactic one.

But everyone in town had asked for special privileges for her. The table groaned under the weight of all the food: tureens of hot soup, a whole haunch of real beef, garnished with herbs and spices and horseradish sauce, thick, dark bread with melted butter, even some Earth alcohol that had been discovered in someone’s old cellar. It was a bounty that Ruby felt she didn’t deserve, even if she did die in uncharted territory.

At least her family, her parents and sisters, enjoyed it. And she knew that she should have been enjoying it as well, but she was too worried about the journey ahead to really savor her last night on the part of the planet she knew intimately.

Even though this had been her dream for years, she found that she was still scared; it permeated even through her excitement.

What awaited her, out in the great unknown?

When Ruby lay down to sleep that night, it had taken almost until the early hours of the morning for her anxious mind to quiet.

**

Barely managing to wake up on time, Ruby checked her supplies again: plenty of food that would keep regardless of temperature or atmosphere, water, clothing, and most importantly, her tech: Flashlights and computers and breathing devices, knives that would make killing, if necessary, easier. Mementos of her family and friends, and if distraction was needed, a few old books that were so well-loved that pages were threatening to fall out like yellowed autumn leaves.

In a strange rule, no one related to the explorer could so much as say goodbye: preparation for the mission ahead, she supposed.

When she walked out of the house, she found an old man waiting for her, standing in the grass, eyes on something far away.

“I’ve come to see you off,” He said, his voice whispering like the wind.

“But the Council doesn’t allow that,”

“They made an exception, in my case. For I’ve been in your shoes, missy. I was an explorer, too, one of the only ones to make it back.”

**

(WP) Little Orphan Monsters

(WP) Little Orphan Monsters

               When she’d spent years studying the dark arts, particularly necromancy, she’d made grand plans. World domination. Being worshipped as a dark goddess, with the power to raise the dead at her command.

               But it turned out that the universe had a wicked sense of humor, because she was able to raise the dead, all right.

               But the god she’d summoned had sensed her nurturing abilities, left over from when she’d been human, centuries ago. He’d given her the responsibility of raising young vampires, ghouls, ghosts and goblins. He’d been more than generous; a building had been procured for them, and no one wanted for anything.

               Except for her. This wasn’t what she’d pictured when she had finally acquired her powers, after years of planning and practice.

               Even the thought made her feel ungrateful, and her mouth twisted as if she’d bitten into a sour lemon.

               What did it mean, if you were a woman and you didn’t wish to dedicate your life to caretaking, to raising the next generation of monsters?

               It seemed, in all society, that you were nothing if you bucked against its expectations. No matter if you belonged in the world of humans or monsters.

               The unfairness of it all was enough to make her scream.

               But for now, she had an orphanage to run; she could complain to the man in a far-off dimension later. She got the coffee-pot going. Even as old as she was, she couldn’t go without caffeine. If she were still mortal, it would be a problem worthy of intervention.

               Already, the children were awake. Most of them slept during the day, being nocturnal creatures, but there was an odd bunch of kids that preferred to frolic in the daytime, and so, Rouge was constantly on the clock.

               Of course, there were some people that had been recruited by her master in order to help her with her workload, but it didn’t help that numbers were climbing every day.

               It wasn’t that this servant was ungrateful, blind to all her master had done for her.

               She was just overwhelmed.

               “Miss Rouge, ma’am!” A voice cried, flying into the kitchen as she waited for her coffee to brew. “Matteo hit me!” The child was literally flying; he hovered above her slightly, beating his little bat wings, crimson eyes narrowed with dislike.

               A little goblin followed in his wake, stomping into the kitchen. He was so tiny that he barely reached Rouge’s waist.

               “I did not! All I wanted was a turn with the little toy car and he’s had it forever!” Matteo whined, the words coming thick from behind his sharp, serrated teeth. “Why can’t I have a turn?”

               “Boys, boys,” Rouge murmured, instinctively going into mothering mode.

               “Why don’t you guys find something that you can do together? You could read a book. Or watch a movie, or play a game… You could play hide and seek.”

               Both of the boys were appeased by a game of hide and seek and a snack: a cup of blood for Heath and some jerky, and a fresh human heart for Matteo.

               A mother’s work was never done.

               **

(WP) The Dark Goddess and the Prophecy

(WP) The Dark Goddess and the Prophecy

               Everyone knew the old story. It had been told since the founding of the kingdom and the countries surrounding them. The prophecy had predicted that there would be six heroes that would face the old, dark god. They would all be chosen from different walks of life. All with different strengths and weaknesses, but united, they would overcome the god’s tyranny and free the people from under its thumb.

               Well, as it turns out, the prophecy was only correct about some things.

               First of all, it was not a god, but a goddess. One of unimaginable darkness and rage, twisted by all of the negative emotion she’d repressed when she was a human, several centuries ago.

               The whole of humanity cowered under her cruel rule, but there were some who had willingly helped her rise to power: assassins, criminals, those dissatisfied with the law and the people who had ruled before.

               Second, only five heroes showed up.  No one knew what had happened to the sixth member of the group. There were rumors, of course. They’d died, been assassinated, or worse, even become one of the goddess’s spies.

               The first of the heroes, a young man named Nikolai, arrived at the abandoned palace, where the goddess and her cohorts were rumored to be hiding out. He was astride a handsome stallion, and he himself was adorned with furs. There were weapons hidden everywhere on his person, and he frowned. He couldn’t help wondering, if, indeed, he should wait for the others: the people said to help him in this monumental task.

               But he already had so little time. Perhaps it would be better to wait until the sun set, to hide in the lush, green foliage that surrounded the old palace.

               It was so different from his homeland, frigid and cold, where snowflakes and ice decorated everything like a pale, glimmering veil.

               Sick of thinking instead of acting, he directed his horse to the thick, leafy trees, and there they hid, waiting until the next hero in the group showed up.

               Never mind that they all didn’t know each other, they were said to save the world.

               **

But the newcomer had doubts that could not be silenced.

                 Eris knew that she came from nothing. Her family had been poor all their lives, and what chance they’d had of glory and comforted had gone up in smoke, thanks to their mother’s leaving to serve The Dark Goddess.

               It didn’t matter that she’d sent extravagant gifts, bolts of silk from which to make gowns, heavy gold and silver coins, jewelry studded with real precious stones instead of the false ones that were pasted on in the village, or that she’d done it for their family’s safety.

               That meant nothing to their proud, bitter father. He’d been so certain when Eris’s mark had shown up, inked across her back in glittering runes. He’d even asked their neighbors to donate things she needed so she could get to the palace. But even with all this planning, she’d been late.

               There was a mean, ugly little voice that spoke in the back of her mind.

               If even your own family did not want you, did not think you were capable of anything, what makes you think you will be able to unseat the Dark Goddess?

               But she, and all the others mentioned in the vision, had little choice in the matter.

               Destiny and fate seemed to have their own plans.

               **

(WP) Galaxy’s Most Wanted

(WP) Galaxy’s Most Wanted

               She was
the most wanted fugitive across the galaxies, and she felt a sort of
bittersweet thrill run through her.

               It
seemed like merely yesterday that she had been cowering in her uncle’s inn,
forced to serve her aunt and cousins as if she were not family herself. But she
had gained the courage to leave that life of drudgery and servitude behind her.
Oh, if her wicked, awful family could see her now. They’d cower before her,
begging for mercy.

               Lucky
for them, she was not the type to hold grudges.

               And
anyway, where was the fun in life without a little risk?

               She
slunk through the city, edging toward the tavern, smirking to herself when she
saw her own image smiling merrily back at her, middle finger raised high at the
viewer in naked defiance.

                For a single moment, she was tempted to throw
caution to the winds entirely and throw her hood away from her face, revealing
her identity.

               But
even for Freya Starsinger, that was tempting fate a little too much.

               Waiting
until the reckless urge passed, she kept close to the edges of the streets,
letting the crowd carry her toward the inn.

               When
she could finally see the sign, depicting a flag with skull and crossbones on
it, she broke away from the crowd and slipped inside.

               Thankfully,
the bar was so crowded that no one so much as looked up when she walked in,
still cloaked.

               Finding
a spot at the back of the room, she sat down, the air heavy with cooking smoke
and the stench of unwashed bodies. Freya did not stay in one place for long;
even if she weren’t wanted by the corrupt government chasing her, she could not
stand being confined. It reminded her, too much, of her past.

               She had
escaped, but the scars had not yet healed.

               Her feet
and her ship could carry her as far as she liked, but she could not leave behind
her pain, or her memories.

               The
thought made her more than a little bitter.

               In
order to avoid detection, she’d cut her hair and filed her canine teeth to
points, but her armor and swords weren’t nearly as easy to conceal.

               She was
jolted from her melancholy thoughts by a serving girl appearing at her elbow.

               “Would
you care for something to eat or drink? Our inn boasts the best wine this side
of the cosmos,” She said, smiling winningly.

               She was
very pretty, and a few years older than Freya herself. She had long, strawberry
blonde hair that was piled up into a bun at the top of her head. Freckles
dotted her face like fiery red stars, all around her nose, mouth, forehead, and
cheeks. Her eyes were the bright blue of a clear Earth sky.

               “Yes,
please,” Freya said, making her voice deeper than her usual alto. “A bowl of
stew, some bread, and some of that famous wine of yours.” She set down a few
fat gold coins and slid them toward the other girl.

               She
blushed pink and took the money, thanking Freya before taking her order to the
kitchen.

               Freya
would have to set out, again, after a night of short rest.

               As
tempting as it was to let her guard down, she couldn’t afford it.

               There
were eyes everywhere, and there would be worse things waiting for her than her
aunt and uncle’s house if she were caught.

               **

(WP) Blood Like Poppies

(WP) Blood Like Poppies

               The
Queen has summoned her executioner to her chambers for a ‘private audience and
repast’.

               The
page kneels before the woman, so petrified that the parchment, sealed with
bright green wax, trembles in hand.

               “Thank
you,” She murmurs, slipping him a couple of coins for his trouble.

               The
missive is short and to the point, “Meet me for dinner in my private chambers.
You and I have something to discuss.”

               Something
tells Poppy Bloodletter that this is not exactly a social call.

               Perhaps
her luck has finally run out, and her queen has discovered one of her many
secrets.

               She
goes to her room and changes her clothes. When she comes out, she is dressed in
black, as if she is attending a mourning ceremony. Gloves, shot through with silver,
adorn her hands, to mask her fear.

               There
were many different kinds of armor, she has learned, and she will be a fool not
to protect herself in what little ways she could.

               The
queen is not a patient woman, and there is no use in delaying the inevitable.

               **

               Poppy
is announced by the queen’s page, and after several long heartbeats, she is
allowed inside. She is escorted through the sitting room and brought to the
queen herself, and there she is, pouring tea herself.

               Poppy
realizes that there is not a servant to be seen, and she can feel her heartbeat
all through her flesh, but especially in her throat. She doesn’t dare speak;
she just waited, the minutes stretching out like taffy.

               “Do you
remember, my dear, when you first came to my castle, when your father demanded
you be trained in the arts of killing and assassination?” The Queen looks up at
her, beckons her to sit at the small table, across from her.

               The
Queen was dressed in a gown of forest green, with emeralds dotting the bodice.
Along the hem, there is a ring of garnets. To Poppy, she looks like spring
embodied, given human form. With her dark skin, dusted with subtle glitter, and
black curls, the color is a stunning contrast. Her eyes, though, are the red of
the poppies that gave the executioner her name. She is beautiful, terrifying,
and arresting. More like a goddess than a monarch.

               “How could
I forget?” Poppy murmurs in reply, smiling in spite of herself. “It was the day
that my life changed forever. You told my father that I would be taking up his
trade, once he retired.”

               “That
is also the day that you swore fealty to me, my children, my house and kingdom,”
Queen Kali whispers, and a cruel, sharp smile graces her full, lovely lips.

               “I
feel, my darling Poppy, that you have lost sight of your duty. Are you unhappy
here? Is there anything you need that I have not provided?”

               As she
speaks, her voice grows dangerously lower, more like a growl than a purr.

               As if
to give Poppy more time to answer, Queen Kali quickly uncovers the food she has
ordered for them both: a tureen of spiced lentil stew, a roasted haunch of
beef, crusted with mushrooms and spices and served with a rich wine sauce,
thick, dark bread slathered with butter and still warm, and for dessert, meringue
lemon tarts.

               She’s
really pulling out the big guns, Poppy realizes.

               “No,
not at all, Your Majesty. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”

               “Then
why, my dear Poppy, have you spent all of these years lying to me? Betraying myself and the Crown? I know
what you’ve done, and consider this your last meal. You will die for your
crimes against the Kingdom, Poppy Bloodletter.”

               **

(WP) The Color of Secrets

(WP) The Color of Secrets

               Indigo
was her name, but no one could figure out exactly why she was the way she was.

               As a
baby, and later, a toddler, she’d literally turn blue, either out of frustration
or heat.

               She’d
taken her strangeness, her peculiarity, as a fact of life. All her life she’d
been told she was special by her parents, weird and freaky by her peers. She’d heard
versions of both kinds of comments for so long that they bounced off.

               For a
while, people left her alone; it wasn’t any fun to a bully if you didn’t react.

               Until
this morning, when she’d tripped on the way to her locker and skinned her knee.

               That
all too familiar current of low laughter followed her, spreading through her
classmates like a virus.

               Much to
her own chagrin, she could feel her cheeks heating, darkening to a shade of
sapphire. She tried to cover the wound; it stung like hell. Much to her shock, the
blood that seeped through her fingers was bright, electric blue, the color of a
clear sky.

               For a
moment, she was stunned by the sight; it hit her like a blow to the chest.

               Was she
hallucinating? How was it possible for a normal human being to have blood that
was blue?

               She was
bitterly reminded of her cruel nickname: ‘Blue Blood’. It was ironic,
considering and she and her family were one of the poorest families in town.

               Cruel
laughter and whispers followed her, all the way to the nurse’s office.

               **

               After
an admonition about not running in the halls and watching her step, Indigo walked
out of the office, intending to return to class.

               Instead,
though, there was a pair of people, a boy and a girl, barring her way forward.

               “Hello,
Blue,” said the girl, dressed head to toe in different shades of green.

               “It’s
lovely to see you with my own eyes, at last.”

               She
grinned at Indigo, and her teeth were sharp, pointed. Something stood out livid
against her neck—gills?

               Indigo
was pretty certain that she had hit her knee, not her head. But it felt as if
she were in a movie, or a frightening nightmare.

               “Way to
sound creepy,” The boy murmured, rolling his eyes.

“You realize we’ve never met this
girl before?” He added.

“You don’t want to scare the poor
thing. This is going to be enough of a shock as it is without you intimidating
her, Emma.”

“I’m Porfirio, and this is my
sister, Emerald. Emma for short. It’s a pleasure to meet you. We’ve heard so
much about you.”

“How did you find me?” Indigo replied,
looking in between the two newcomers.

“Our father demanded that we find
you. We have a mission, you see. Emma, you, and I.”

“What are you talking about? This
all sounds like a bunch of nonsense.”

Emma piped up at last, bright eyes
on Indigo.

“Hate to break it to you, Blue, but
this is real life. Sounds like a comic book, though, doesn’t it?”

“We need to see you after school.
We have a lot to explain, Blu—I mean, Indigo.”

**

(WP) Phoenix’s Fire

(WP) Phoenix’s Fire

               The mansion that had once stood proud on the hill was nothing more than a pile of burned wood and stone.

               The family that had lived inside were all dead, burned to a crisp in their own beds.

               Still, this wasn’t exactly an open and closed case.

               The only member of the de la Fuego family that was unharmed was the youngest of them all, an infant named Phoenix.

               The firefighter who had saved her, a young woman by the name of Stone, was in shock. She’d even spoken to several local news stations about the incident.

               “Unfortunately, I did not arrive in time to save the rest of this poor child’s family. But I climbed what was left of the stairs, and I could’ve sworn that I heard a baby crying. I walked into her bedroom and there she was, sitting in her crib, unharmed, crying her little lungs out.”

               Stone looked away from the camera, a comely blush darkening her cheeks. Tears ran down her cheeks at the memory.

               “That little girl has some lucky stars, she does. She’s a living miracle.”

               **

The infant was placed in the care of Child Protective Services while the police and fire department investigated the circumstances of her family’s death.

The case grew more perplexing as time went on.

In the care of a social worker, Phoenix grew. She grew from a tiny infant to a chubby, apple-cheeked toddler with a cap of dark curls and bright amber eyes that were the same color as honey.

The social worker taking care of the child began to notice strange things about her ward.

The near-constant smell of smoke faintly wafting off of her, reminding Miss Haypenny of a campfire.

The way Phoenix’s eyes glowed whenever something went wrong or she was denied what she wanted.

Miss Haypenny began to suspect that the little girl she’d taken in was extraordinary.

**

Eventually, the investigation was put on hold. There was no accelerant used, nothing to suggest that the fire had been more than an unfortunate accident. People throughout the city donated to pay for the de la Fuegos’ funeral, though they had mostly kept to themselves and were called eccentric by the kinder folks in town, and weird and unfriendly by the others.

Miss Haypenny put the papers through to have Phoenix adopted, though if she were being honest, she had grown used to the little girl in her own home.

But perhaps it was better that she be adopted by other people. There was only so much of herself she could give.

And, if she was being completely honest with herself, Phoenix scared the hell out of her.

She suspected, somehow, that the girl had started the fire that had killed the rest of her family.

But that was crazy, the stuff of fiction. After all, this wasn’t a Stephen King novel.

Still, she could not quiet the voice inside her mind, that said that something was deeply, irrevocably wrong with Phoenix de la Fuego.

**

(WP) The Price of Power

(WP) The Price of Power

               “Your mission is to neutralize the superheroes that have been corrupted by their powers.”

               My boss looked up at me from her place at her desk, frowning silently.

               “I’m sorry to do this to you so soon, as you’re so green. But alas, time isn’t exactly on our side. Depending on how powerful the superhero’s abilities are, the more quickly that they are corrupted.

               Hate to break it to ya, kid, but you’re part of our last line of defense.”

               “All right, Captain. Who’s the mark this time?”

               I knew it sounded cold, but I couldn’t have done my job, had I seen them as anything more than a mark. All too often, I’d seen humanity corrupted by power they could not even begin to control, but until now, I’d been the sidekick. The second banana. The comic relief.

               Now, though, it looked like it was high time to step into a hero’s shoes.

               Still, I couldn’t ignore the fact that eventually, I’d be just like the monsters that I made a living taking out.

               I bit back a shudder; it would not do to show nervousness right about now.

               The Captain stared at me for a moment, studying me as if looking for holes in my armor, then turned her chair around and began to rifle through her filing cabinet, swearing quietly under her breath.

               Finally, she pulled out a thick file and pushed it toward me across the desk.

               I opened the file and was greeted by a snapshot of a slender, pale young woman with fanged teeth and a bloody grin. Below that were pages and pages of reports, photos, psych evals, scientific testing. It was all here.

               Still, I wanted to hear it from the captain.

               “She calls herself The Red Lady,” She said quietly. “Her powers were initially for healing. Used to be a nurse, one of the best in her field. But when she became corrupted, her blood began to infect her. She grew strong and eventually insane, and everyone else we sent to apprehend her was gravely injured or killed.”

               “No pressure, huh?” I deadpanned. She gave me a sad smile in return.

               “Go get ‘em, kid. And try not to die.”

               **

               When I arrived at the hospital that The Red Lady was holding hostage, the whole place was (understandably) in a panic.

               She was standing on top of the check in desk, clad in a tight scarlet bodysuit. Her face was covered by a white mask, and I couldn’t see if it was really her, but the holdup was confirmation enough.

               “Stop!” I yelled, and everything, all the sounds, narrowed to just that point. Her head swiveled in my direction, and a manic laugh bubbled up from behind her mask.

               “They’ve sent another wannabe to try and take me in?”

               I didn’t exactly have time to exchange pithy banter.

               After all, it was only a matter of time until my own internal clock began to tick toward my own implosion.

               In the meantime, I had a job to do.

               **