Monday, March 29, 2010

Writing Prompt #10

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as horror, but as always, you can take it whatever direction you so choose (and this one can go in any direction at all). Have fun with it!

An Internet virus affects your computer in a strange way.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

#fridayflash--Alien Invasion

Alien Invasion
by Eric J. Krause

I watched the video in the office of the director of the ASD, the Alien Security Division. Like everyone else in the world, I'd seen it often enough over my lifetime. This time, however, something was different.

"How come I've never seen this feed before?"

The director cleared his throat. "That's why you're here. Keep watching and I think you'll see."

My eyes never left the screen. I saw the hundreds of nuclear missiles from all over the world shoot up towards the sky, aimed for the airspace above the equator. The huge mothership of the unknown alien invaders hovered above the atmosphere, ready to strike out at other countries. In every feed I'd ever seen, the missiles disappeared from view, and the explosion filled the screen. Nothing useful was ever gleaned from the monstrous clean-up effort in orbit around the planet.

This time, the camera rose with the missiles, and when it got through the layers of atmosphere, the spaceship detonated before impact. The nukes exploded into what was left of the giant craft. The now-tiny pieces of ship scatter into space. Those few that did fall to Earth were miniscule and burned up before reaching the ground.

"It self-destructed," I said. "They knew we were going to get it, so it chose to go out on its own. Or maybe its weapon systems overloaded and malfunctioned, like they pushed it too hard. Maybe they didn't expect us to retaliate. But I can't imagine that's why you called me here. I'm sure your people could have figured something like that out."

The director shook his head. "We already know what happened to the ship. That was just background for what's coming."

I frowned. "What do you mean?"

He looked at me for a few seconds, a stare that bored past my eyes and into my brain. "We built that ship behind the moon where no one could see. Our plan was world peace, and we achieved it."

"What do you mean world peace?" I asked, the words heavy on my tongue. "That ship took out Italy. Literally wiped it off the face of the earth. How can that be a proponent for world peace? How could the ASD do that?"

He pointed to the screen and the video of the historic world meeting flashed on. This might be the second most famous televised shot in the history of mankind, where every nation of the world agreed to band together to stop the alien menace. More than one leader brought up that if it hadn't been for the destruction of Italy, they wouldn't have shown up to the summit.

"You destroyed Italy for world peace?" This had actually happened? "Why Italy?"

"You've heard of Program: Minus Earth? The old terrorist group?"

I had. They wanted to find like-minded individuals, ferry them to an interstellar spaceship, and detonate Earth. The planet had grown too polluted, too overpopulated for them. From what I understood, they felt it easier to save just those few they deemed worthy and destroy everyone and everything else.

"What about them?" I asked.

"They took refuge in Italy. We knew where they were, and we saw an opportunity, not only to rid ourselves of the menace, but to unify the world."

I shook my head. "But all of those innocent lives. They were just cannon fodder? Expendable losses?"

The director sighed. "It wasn't an easy choice for us to make."

I stood up and paced the back of the small room. "So what do you need me for?"

The director shrugged. "You have the ear of the entire world. You're trusted by all. They'll listen to you."

I didn't say anything. I had no idea where this was going.

"What is the name of our organization?" he asked.

"The ASD," I said. "The Alien Security Division."

He looked at me like I should make the jump. It took me a second--I wasn't quite sure--but I took the stab. "You're saying aliens are coming? Real ones?"

He shook his head. "No. They're not coming. They're already here. I need you to bring the news to the people. Tell them lay down their arms and welcome them into the fold."

The director yanked on his face, and I screamed as it tore off in his hands. A furry gray head with huge red eyes looked at me. "If you help us enslave your race, you'll be treated as one of us."

My mouth felt like it was full of cotton. "What happens if I refuse?"

The director laughed. It no longer sounded human. "We eradicate you and go to war. We won't lose."

"So why did you go through the trouble of the alien invasion ruse all those years ago?"

I could sense it smiling, even though I couldn't see for sure. "With world peace, with no enemies for anyone, your people became soft. Who's going to stand up to us? They may try, but who really can pull it off? You're no military leader, my friend."

I sighed and sank into a chair. What could I do? He, it, was right. A war would mean genocide for the human race. Through tears, I said, "Fine. Tell me what you want me to do."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Newest Published Story

I have another story available today. This one is in the March issue of Forever Nocturne magazine. My story is called "The Tellian Law," and it's a horror story of sorts loosely based on the legend of William Tell. In order to read the story, you need to by the magazine for $1. For that price, you'll get 46 pages of speculative fiction--9 stories in all (what a bargain!). The price will hopefully mean that Forever Nocturne will be a paying market for us writers in the near future, which is a great thing.

To download the magazine for $1, click on this link: Download March 2010 Forever Nocturne

I hope you have a chance to get the magazine, and I hope you enjoy my story! If you do buy it, let me know what you think!

Writing Prompt #9

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as horror, but as always, you can take it whatever direction you so choose. Have fun with it!

You hear a nearby train whistle. There are no railroad tracks anywhere close.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Newest Published Story

I have a new story in the March 2010 issue of Aphelion Magazine. It's called Fast Food Zombies. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

#fridayflash: Random Acts

Random Acts
by Eric J. Krause

Once, when no one was looking, I murdered a man. Not because I particularly wanted him dead. Heck, I didn't even know the guy. He hadn't cut me off, didn't give me a rude stare, or done anything out of the ordinary. No, I just wanted to see if I could get away with it.

And do you want to know something really scary? I did.

Yep. No consequences. Not one, unless you count the few sleepless nights I had. The police would figure it out. They'd bust down my door at three in the morning with their search warrant and haul me in.

Didn't happen.

The local fishwrap picked up the story of the dead businessman the next day, but in the end they reported that the police, with no leads, had to consider it an unfortunate random act of violence. Sleep came easy after that.

Some may ask about my eternal soul, and I have an excellent answer. Maybe most wouldn't agree, but it keeps me sane. I perform random acts of kindness. I've received even less press for those than my single murder, and I've given hundreds of random niceties. Does that get me down? Not at all. This is my soul we're talking about.

A lady with three kids ran for the stop light. She wasn't going to make it in time to hit the walk button, and that'd mean missing the bus. Though I wasn't crossing, I pushed it, and she didn't acknowledge me as her clan legally dashed across the street. A young man dropped a twenty out of his pocket at a fast food joint. I picked it up and laid it on the counter in front of him. He didn't notice, but the girl at the cash register did. I knew he'd get it.

Those are just a couple of things. Do they balance out the murder? No, not by a long shot. But if I keep it up for the rest of my life, maybe it'll help. The only problem, though, is that my mind keeps going back to that night. The guy's blood dripping down my knife and onto my hand. His breath laboring. Pinpointing the exact moment his existence on Earth ended.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I might need to double my random acts of kindness . . .

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

New Story Published

I had a story published today for St. Patrick's Day. It's in an anthology called "Unluck of the Irish," published by Soft Whispers magazine. My story is called The Pit and you can find it on page 18 of the anthology. When you click on the link, you can either read it right there on the screen, or download it as a .pdf file (handy!). I hope you enjoy my story, as well as all the other great ones in there!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Writing Prompt #8

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as fantasy, but as always, you can take it whatever direction you so choose. Have fun with it!

The court jester has a sinister gleam in his eyes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

#fridayflash--The Stand-Up Act

The Stand-Up Act
by Eric J. Krause

I killed 'em. Absolutely slayed 'em. All except for one guy in the back. I don't know what his problem was, but no matter what I said, no matter how many people laughed--and I don't want to break my shoulder by patting myself on the back, but it was most of them--this guy heckled the heck (har, har) out of me.

My lion in Manhattan joke, everyone but him loved it. My slew of sister-in-law jokes, same thing. Didn't matter what I brought, he hated them all.

As my set came to an end, but before the light flashed me off, I couldn't take it anymore. My biggest joke came up, one that never failed to bring the house down, but seconds before I dropped it, he yelled out the punch line.

Oh no he didn't!

Everyone murmured to their neighbors and looked around to see what was going on. I'd done my best to not look towards him, but this was too much. Not only had he ruined the act for me, but he'd ruined it for everyone else.

I leapt off the stage and stormed to the back. People parted out of my way, smiling up at me. I think they thought this was all part of the act. If they only knew.

I got to the back and looked around. No one. What in the world? Who was here, I asked, but people shrugged and gave me blank looks. They'd been here the whole time he was screwing with me. Someone had to have the balls to rat him out. Of course not. I sighed and headed back to the stage, but the MC had already called up the next act. I stormed backstage. I'd have left altogether, but I wanted to get booked again, so I figured I'd wait till the end of the night and talk to the manager. Maybe an employee had seen the guy.

There were only a few comics left, so I came out and sat at the bar, steaming into a beer. No one else got heckled, and I don't mean to sound like a self-centered prick, but I was the best comic up there that night. When the show finally ended, the manager gave me a look that said some nights are better than others. I asked him if he or anyone else had seen the guy who'd been riding me, but he hadn't. He'd even sent someone over to take care of the guy during my set, but no one could find him.

As I headed for the parking lot, a man in a baseball cap came up to me and apologized. He had a sad expression on his face. I asked if he was the heckler, and he said he was. My heart started to race, and I wound my hand into a fist, thinking I might clock him. Then he said something that made me stop.

"You're going to be the greatest stand-up comic ever. Your humor will unite the world, regardless of race, age, or gender. Every society will come together in peace. Wars will be abolished. Scientists worldwide will be able to focus on hunger, diseases, and overpopulation. It'll truly be one nation of Earth."

I started at him, not knowing where he was going with this. I sensed a punch line, and I wanted to step all over it as he'd done to me.

"On your way to your car tonight, a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting hits you. The physical therapy is so draining that comedy is the only thing that keeps you sane. You're able to hone your act so tight during this time that everyone has to take notice."

I couldn't take it any longer. I had to ask what the joke was.

"No joke. I'd attempted earlier to drive you off stage and home early to avoid that bullet. With a united Earth my people cannot conquer your planet. We have to settle for the uninhabited Mars, and it's just not the same. If I could physically interact with you, I'd kill you myself. My only hope now is that by talking to you, I'll somehow get that bullet to miss."

It took a few seconds to get my brain around all that nonsense, but I came up with a good zinger. It almost passed my lips when I heard the crack of the gun and pain exploded in my stomach. I collapsed, but before I screamed, I looked up at the man. The bullet had passed right through him, and I wanted to know how.

He was nowhere in sight.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Writing Prompt #7

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm labeling it as horror, but as always, you can take it whatever direction you so choose. Have fun with it!

You're alone, but there are footsteps in the hall.

Is it a ghost? A monster? A robber? Something entirely different? Let your imagination run wild!

Friday, March 5, 2010

#fridayflash--The Jumper

The Jumper
by Eric J. Krause

A chilly breeze blew past me as I stepped out of the elevator. Crap. Was the heater busted and blowing cold air again? I thought Mr. Woo had fixed it last month. Guess I'd have to call him again. It was about time to put his number on speed dial.

As I turned towards my place, I saw it wasn't a broken heater at all, but instead an open window. Those had all been bolted shut since the 30's when a rash of people had taken flying leaps out to escape the Great Depression. Or at least that's the story I heard.

I walked over to both close it and see why someone had forced it open when I saw legs outside on the ledge. Shit. I should've just gone inside and called Old Man Woo. I contemplated doing that anyway, but I couldn't do that.

"Hey, buddy, come on in. Whatever it is, it's not worth jumping."

He didn't answer, so I stuck my head out the window. The guy was looking up, not down.

"Do you hear it?" he asked.

I heard only the normal city sounds. "Hear what?"

"The music."

I listened again, but no music entered my ears. Too many heavy metal concerts as a teen had wrecked my hearing, but by the looks of this guy's face, I doubted that was the problem. Whatever music it was, it was likely only playing for an audience of one.

"He told me I could fly. He said when I could hear the music, I'd soar off into the sky." The guy paused and made a straining face. "The problem is I can't tell if that music is for me or someone else. It's so distant."

If he jumped, it wouldn't be suicide, but killed by crazy. "Come on, buddy, why don't you try from the ground? If it is your music, you'll still take off."

The guy turned and looked at me for the first time. "He said you'd say that. He said you'd do anything in your power to keep me from flying. He said you'd try to steal it."

I put my head on my cell phone and turned it on. If I could dial 911 without him knowing, maybe I could pepper enough info for the operator to get what was going on. Careful, though. If Crazyman knew I was on the phone, he might jump just to spite me.

"Listen, I don't know who you're talking about, and I'm guessing he wasn't meaning me specifically. I just don't want to see you get hurt." My finger found the emergency button on the keypad, and I pressed it. A muffled voice came from the earpiece, and I prayed the jumper couldn't hear it.

"He said you'd be crafty, and no matter what I did, I couldn't let you take my new power. You won't use it for good like I will."

I prayed the 911 operator could hear. "Please don't jump off the twelfth story of the Copperstone Building. I don't want to see you splattered all over Central Avenue." Lame? Sure, but at least I'd informed the authorities what and where. Hopefully the 911 operator didn't think this some strange prank call. Besides, this guy was so bonkers, he probably didn't think anything strange about it. After all, wasn't that how all super villains talked in the comic books?

"You'd like to see me fail, wouldn't you? That would be the easiest way for you to get my powers. In fact . . ." He stopped and looked back up. "No mistaking that. It's my music."

I pulled my cell phone from my jacket pocket, no longer worried if Crazyman saw it or not. I could hear the operator talking, but couldn't make out the words. I only hoped he or she had figured out what was going on.

"Come on, buddy. Enough of this bullshit. Come in off the ledge. I don't want to see you get hurt."

He turned towards me one last time and said, "No."

He jumped.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Writing Prompt #6

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. This one's in honor of St. Patrick's Day coming up in a couple of weeks. I'm labeling it as fantasy, but as always, you can take it whatever direction you so choose. Have fun with it!

You find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.