Molting

Kate checked the clock on the wall for the seventh time in the last hour. It ticked too slowly for her racing heart. She pulled the note out of her pocket, its edges worn from being folded and unfolded so many times, even though he had only given it to her that afternoon.

Meet me in our field, just before sunrise. – Nate

Pulling the curtains back, Kate searched the sky for signs of sunlight. It was too early – only 4:21 AM – but she couldn’t help feeling like she should leave now. She ran through every possibility in her mind.

What if she got lost in the dark?
What if one of her siblings woke up and caught her before she got out the door?
What if someone followed her and stopped her before she could get there?
What if she went through all of this trouble and Nathan never showed?

He’d been acting strange for weeks: canceling their plans at the last minute, never returning her calls or texts, skipping class, making weak excuses for everything. She knew he had been under significant stress between school and working nearly 30 hours a week. Kate had watched as his responsibilities piled up, leaving cracks in his façade. She was afraid that this time, the cracks ran deep enough to break him in two.

A crow cawed outside, not three feet from her kitchen window and Kate nearly jumped out of her skin. She looked at the clock again. 4:26 AM.

Screw it, she thought. Kate grabbed her coat and walked out the door.

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May Stories at the Confabulator Cafe

The Confabulators are always looking for different types of prompts to fuel our creative endeavors. Thus far, we’ve used both themes and specific words for our stories. We thought we’d try something different this month. For May, we are using a photo prompt.

The Confabulators have played with the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words before. This time, we all wrote a story in response to the same picture. The internet fairies chose this photo for us to write about.

Enjoy this month’s stories, and think about where you might have taken a story based on this photo.

Join us every Monday in May for new fiction. You can find the schedule below:

Monday, May 4: “Molting” by Christie O. Hall
Monday, May 11: “One Last Harvest” by Jack Campbell, Jr.
Monday, May 18: “When Dawn Breaks” by Eliza Jaquays
Monday, May 25: “The Boy with the Golden Eyes” by Sara Lundberg

The First Step

This short story takes place in the world I created for my 2012 Nanowrimo novel, There’s No Place Like Hell. The novel is still unfinished, but this short story uses the main character, Kit, and would take place between the first and second book of this series. I do hope to write Kit’s books someday, but there’s a bigger plot involved that hasn’t completely revealed itself to me yet. I have other projects to finish up before Kit gets her turn, but when the Confabulator Cafe was assigned the “three steps to world peace” prompt, Kit raised her rifle and told me this story needed to be about her. How could I refuse?

Once upon a time, there were three steps to world peace. In the end, only the first one mattered.

Kit checked her weapon for the hundredth time. The damn thing was still jammed, of course. She still carried it for show, although it was useless as far as a projectile weapon. But it was a rifle, so it was useful as a blunt force weapon if nothing else. And it kept her from looking helpless.

She snorted. Nobody would ever mistake her as helpless. Not with the mercenary reputation she had built for herself.

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Copy Rights

“Isn’t that you getting punched in the face by Ron Artest?” Cinco watches a YouTube video of the brawl on his workstation while I try in vain to walk a woman through the technical issues she’s experiencing on our open enrollment system. I mute my call. The woman continues on like I am still listening. I know what she is saying. I’ve dealt with this same call hundreds of times, maybe thousands.

“His name is Metta World Peace, now.” I release the mute. “Ma’am, did you log in with your PIN? Yes, your personal identification number. Okay, I’ll wait while you look for it.” Continue reading

The Monologue

I’m Doctor Samuel Tan. You probably recognize me from my numerous interviews, my now-defunct talk show on that awful cable channel, not to mention my picture on the cover of Omni Science magazine’s “10 Scientists to Watch in the New Millennium” issue back in 1999.

I dropped off the public’s radar for a few years, because I’ve been working on a special project.

What I’m doing is intended to bring peace. That’s all I ever wanted—all any of us ever wanted. Building a utopia isn’t easy, not even for me.

As a child, my IQ had been measured beyond genius level—the largest ever recorded. With proper schools and training, my brilliance grew. I graduated with several doctorates, in a variety of sciences, and moved into research.

Fate had given me the mental acuity to solve some of the universe’s most challenging problems, and I met each one head on. I won grants and awards. I felt as if nothing was beyond my grasp. Along the way, I invented a quantum constructor that revolutionized industry by building machines from the atom up. Soon, I had the money and the resources to do anything.

I wanted to do something big. I needed a challenge. Idle hands, as they say.

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