Flash Fiction Challenge: Continuing Someone Else’s Story, Part 5

Post-Christmas salutations, y’all! I hope your holidays have been splendid so far and that your eggnog and pie are sitting with you quite comfortably. Me, I ate too much, but let’s just not talk about that, eh?

In author Chuck Wendig’s December flash fiction challenge, we’ve now arrived at Part 5, in which we’re writing the final 200 words of four other people’s story. To me, this is the toughest part of the challenge, since I have to take into consideration all the elements the other four writers have brought into the story, *and* I have to pull it all together into a satisfying conclusion.

THIS IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. Don’t try this at home. Keep away from water. Keep away from children. Do not use while operating heavy machinery. This product is not intended for use as a flotation device. Do not eat. This bag is not a toy.

My entry for Part 1 is here. Genre: fantasy, coming-of-age.

My entry for Part 2 is here. Genre: horror? There’s a vampire, anyway.

My entry for Part 3 is here. Genre: paranormal. Witches, a priest, and mutant skeletons.

My entry for Part 4 is here. Genre: sci-fi comedy.

And here’s my entry for Part 5!
Joe Donahue wrote Part 1.
Morag Donnachie wrote Part 2.
Jeremiah Boydstun wrote Part 3.
Justice wrote Part 4 and gave the story its title, “The Veteran.”
My concluding Part 5 follows Justice’s part.

The Veteran

by Joe Donahue, Morag Donnachie, Jeremiah Boydstun, Justice, and Courtney Cantrell

Joe wrote:

Lying nude in the middle of this cotton field, I sense things differently than I have in sometime. I’m cold. It’s the first time I’ve felt cold since she died. The air flows over my body like ice cold water from a stream. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I can’t help but to hope that I die in this field. I’m, however, smart enough to know that’s not going to happen.

Nothing has felt the same since they killed Adrianna. Every day I roam from city to city, hoping beyond hope that someone will recognize who I am and decide to take my life away. It never happens. Every now and then someone will recognize who I am, but usually they are too frightened to do anything about it.

I don’t blame them. I did some very nasty things at the end of the last war. Several countries banned me from entrance. I, however, did what I needed to do to make sure that the war ended. I did what I was paid for. Little did I know that the immortality they offered as payment would be spent in exile, trying to come up with ways to bring back Adrianna.

Morag wrote:

I lay there vaguely enjoying the sensation of feeling again after having been numb for so long. I was pondering my next move – I’d heard a rumour of a woman in a nearby village who might be able to help me – when I heard voices calling in the still morning air.

I moved quickly, careful not to disturb the cotton in my haste, on to my front bringing my knees up under me so I could spring up quickly if I needed to. As I did so my hand darted to the pile of clothes by my side and the slender yet deadly blade concealed beneath.

As the voices moved closer I sought the quiet place in my mind,the place where I could leave my self behind. I needed to disengage my emotions, to leave my humanity behind and find the monster within.
I had hoped to be able to leave that part of myself behind but it seemed I would have to hold onto it, for now.

I stood slowly, aware of my nudity and how it would affect my seekers, and held my blade out ready for whatever was thrown at me. Every sense on high alert.

“Over here. We’ve found her,” a voice called.

Jeremiah wrote:

The morning sun filters through a ragged line of trees to my left, laying bands of apricot light across the field of cotton, and the cold morning air feels charged with the energy of a million lodestones.

About fifty yards to my right another voice takes up the call, and then another, transmitting across a line of a dozen men who wade slowly through the thorny sea of cotton. Some cradle their rifles, others walk stockade-style with their arms hanging loosely over the ends of the weapons slung across their shoulders.

I keep the knife handle tucked into my palm so that the blade rests against the length of my forearm and conceals it from view. I want to cover myself but reaching for my clothes right now isn’t a good idea.

When the men are within ten yards they stop and form a half-circle around me.

“Put down the knife.” A tall, flinty man with grey hair steps forward.

“And if I don’t?” I’m ready to spring. To see blood. To feel the pulpous give of fat and muscle.

“Then you’ll never see Adrianna again.” His smile parts the thin lips enough to reveal a pair of sharp, white canines and my blood turns to ice once again.

Justice wrote:

“Put it down,” the man commands, “or I’ll tell ’em to really let your pretty little girl have it this time.”

I place the knife on the ground.

“Kick it over here.”

“I’ll cut my foot,” I say, my voice even. “Aren’t antibiotics getting pretty expensive these days?”

“Christ,” the leader mutters. He gestures to a younger man nearby – a kid, really – who darts out from the circle and grabs the knife. I see beads of sweat glisten on his forehead, and he purposefully avoids my eyes.

Good – I need fear; perhaps it will be catching.

“Well, go on,” I say. They put a bag over my head but do not let me dress. I walk naked through the field. There is a slice against my bare skin and a trickle of warm blood. The sound of rotating blades approaches and a dart punctures my neck. I swat at it like it is an annoying gnat.

“Told you it wouldn’t work!” A voice cries out.

“She’s immortal, not invulnerable,” their leader says. “Triple it.”

When I wake, Adrianna is beside me.

Not breathing.

I wrote (210 words):

We’re alone. I recognize the white-and-pink tile of The Facility’s central room. Since I ended the war, they’ve repaired the two-way mirror.

I smile. They’ve hunted me as I’ve hunted to bring her back. And now they want me to try.

Oh, the fools shall have what they’re asking for.

I roll to my side and cradle my daughter. We’re both still nude, but it doesn’t matter. We’ll wear the skins of our enemies soon enough.

I lay my lips against her cold ear. Within, I plunge into silence and face the monster. It waits at my core, hearing my thoughts of blood, and it is already slavering.

I let go, and the monster comes forward.

HEAT.

The heat whispers into Adrianna’s mind, calls to her soul, calls her back. The moment she returns, the heat intensifies. My sweat hisses when it hits the metal table white-hot beneath us.

Adrianna breathes.

I reach out.

Beyond the two-way mirror wait the minds of our “captors.” The monster’s heat enters them. Pillages. Their screams are like those of the ones I mind-raped to end the war.

“Mama?”

YES.

“Can we go home?”

YES.

The monster and I lead my daughter from the central room as, once again, the mirror shatters behind me.

THE END

Cowards, Silence, and Innocent Blood

As I write this, I am watching the kids get off the bus at the stop outside my house, and tears are streaming down my face.

I had decided not to write about this. I had decided that I would put out a few links on Twitter and Facebook, briefly state my opinion, stop reading news articles, and turn my attention to happier things in order to preserve my sanity.

But I can’t.

My heart hurts too much, and for this moment, I cannot look away.

When, as an adult, you come come across another adult raping a small child, you should a) do everything in your power to rescue that child from the rapist, b) call the police the moment it is practicable.

–from John Scalzi’s Omelas State University,
November 10, 2011

There was the rapist. There was the 28-year-old man who witnessed the rape. There was the father of the witness. There was the coach who heard it from the father. There was the school administration who heard it from the coach.

Not one of them stood up and stepped between that child and his tormentor. To be clear: A 67-year-old man was anally raping a 10-year-old boy in a university locker room shower. Within days, at least five people knew about it, and not a single one of them reported the rape to a law enforcement agency.

The silence of these men rips my heart to shreds.

Now, there is a campus full of at least 1,000 university students who rioted over the firing of their beloved coach — their beloved coach who knew his friend and co-worker was raping young boys and did nothing to stop him.

Some of these students, according to the sister of the boy in the shower, are turning that boy’s torment into a joke. They talk about getting “Sanduskied.” They laugh.

Don’t tell me that this is unlike German civilians ignoring clouds of ash above a concentration camp.

Don’t tell me that this is unlike audiences of young Americans in the 1990s, laughing at the nakedness of imprisoned Jews in the movie “Schindler’s List.”

Don’t tell me dear old “JoePa” did what he could by reporting the incident to his administration. Don’t stand there and tell me he fulfilled his legal obligation by telling the university.

What of his moral obligation?

What of these men’s collective moral obligation to that child?!?

To that child, the report of the rape to university officials means NOTHING. They left that child in the cold, and the other victims with him. They turned their backs on that child and shook hands with the man who raped him.

Oh, cowards.

How can you justify remaining silent when the blood of the innocent calls out for justice?

Want me to get graphic about it? How about the anal blood of the innocent?

How can you justify the culture of silence surrounding this horror?
How can you justify the seed of awful darkness that grew in this silence?
How can you justify supporting a man who supported a child rapist?
How can you make jokes about the rape of a child?
How can you look away?
HOW CAN YOU WITNESS THE RAPE OF A CHILD AND LOOK AWAY?

__________

Some of you know that I’m involved with the Kindle All-Stars project, a collection of short stories in support of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. All proceeds from the anthology will be donated to the Center.

It is a small, small thing I do, donating a story to help prevent the rape of children. I feel humbled and thankful that I can help even just a little bit. I pray that I will have opportunity to do more.

But my small contribution doesn’t make my heart ache any less.

I feel like I’m in mourning.

Either in the near future or in the distant future, the rapist and his accomplices in silence will pay for what they have done. In the meantime, there are at least several thousand young adults who care more about their school’s and one man’s reputation than they care about the sexual torment of at least 8 innocent children.

That breaks my heart into more pieces than can be put back together right now. God, please save all of us from this corrupt generation.

As I write this, I am watching the kids get off the bus at the stop outside my house, and tears are streaming down my face.