Monday, May 31, 2010

Writing Prompt #19

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!

You find a magical garden where money really does grow on trees.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

#fridayflash: The End of It All

The End of It All
by Eric J. Krause

"In the meantime, I want no one in or out of this building."

Valarie looked up at the guy in a power suit striding with purpose out of the office and wondered if that was for real. She was only here at the law offices of Chambers, Powell, and Burke because she needed the entry-level data entry position listed on She didn't want to get involved in any sort of international incident or anything. Besides, Mom needed her to run a few errands this afternoon. This was only supposed to take twenty minutes, tops.

She looked down at her almost complete application, and then up at the secretary, whose face looked a bit pale despite the heavy amount of makeup. Valerie put the cap on her pen and walked up to the desk.

The secretary gave her a smile that seemed a bit forced. "Hi, hon. All finished?"

Valarie shook her head and whispered, "No. I was just wondering about what that guy said. We can't leave?"

The secretary's eyes darted around the room, and then she motioned Valarie to lean in close. "Something big is going on out there. I don't know what, but you wouldn't want to leave even if you could."

"Should . . . Should I bother finishing the application?"

That earned her a weak smile. "It'll help pass the time until we know more."

Valarie's head swam. She had dozens of follow up questions, but this secretary--Janice, her nameplate read--didn't seem to know much yet. Instead she nodded, whispered a thanks, and sat back down. It only took another five minutes to finish the application, but by that time, another suit walked into the office.

"Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention for a few moments?"

Valarie looked around at her fellow applicants--two middle-aged women, a guy she guessed to be in his mid-20s, and another girl who, like her, appeared fresh out of high school. She assumed they were all here for the same data entry position. She noticed they each wore a twinge of fear on their faces. Had they heard her conversation with Secretary Janice, or was it from the original suit?

This suit had an air about him that said he was used to speaking in front of audiences in high-pressure situations, but even he was having trouble forming his words. "At 12:07 Pacific Saving Time, a chain of events began that signaled the end of our planet."

This brought out gasps from everyone, including Secretary Janice, but no one said anything. Like Valarie, it must've stunned them numb.

The suit cleared his throat, obviously expecting a multitude of questions, but when none came, he continued.

"This building has enough supplies to last us for a hundred years. You five are now part of the team, so you will, of course, be given a full share of rations."

The 20-something guy managed to find his voice. "But if the earth is going to be destroyed, what good will that do us?"

The suit took a deep breath. "It's already blown apart. We launched into space six minutes ago."

All six of them, including Secretary Janice, stared at him with mouths gaped open. Later, as she looked back on the moment, Valarie couldn't help but chuckle at how absurd they all must've looked.

The suit again must have expected outrage and a barrage of questions, but when only shock met him, he powered on. "We have a destination in mind. It's a small planet, much like Earth, in a nearby solar system. The scientists assure us that we'll thrive there, and that we'll arrive within 50 years, well before we exhaust our supplies. Other select buildings from around the globe will rendezvous with us."

"Is this some sort of sick joke that's part of the application process?" the girl her own age asked. "I didn't feel us blast off."

The suit shook his head. "I wish it was. The building was designed to be absolutely stable during take off. It seems to have worked perfectly, which gives us hope that we're in for smooth sailing."

He gestured towards the door. "There's a window at the end of the hall. You can go see for yourselves that I'm not fabricating any of this."

Everyone, including Secretary Janice, filed out to look. Except Valarie. She knew it was true. The suit's eyes promised he wasn't lying. When she was alone, the tears started. Not for Momma, Daddy, or any of her friends. Their loss still hadn't hit her. No, these tears flowed because she realized she'd have to spend the rest of her life shacked up with lawyers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Writing Prompt #18

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 strange voices while listening to your iPod.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

#fridayflash--The Security Guard

The Security Guard
by Eric J. Krause

Why did this shit always happen after midnight? Garcia never had to deal with this crap. Todd reached for the distress button, but paused. Maybe it was just a drifter looking for a warm, dry place to bed down during the thunderstorm. Since the craze of super villains in trashy trench coats started, it was hard to tell them apart from the bums.

Last time he'd alerted the Hero Department, it turned out to be a simple vagrant. Luckily one of the level-headed ones answered the call, and no one had been hurt. As the masked man--Super Stud? Marvelous Man? Hell, he couldn't keep these guys straight--left, he'd admonished Todd, telling him his building had security sensors for a reason, and it wasn't to call heroes to give homeless guys the bum's rush. He'd felt dumb for a week, and thanked his lucky stars every night no one else had been here.

Tonight he wouldn't foul up. He watched the trench coat man stumble about in the huge lobby. Yup. Good call. Not a super villain, but a drunk. Todd grabbed a stun gun and his heavy-duty flashlight and headed downstairs. Hopefully this'd be an easy one and he could shuffle the guy outside. But, Christ, how had he gotten in? None of the perimeter alarms had sounded.

He reached the lobby floor and just about crapped himself. That wasn't some random bum, but an honest to god super villain. (Killbot McGee? The Masked Bandit? Dammit he was bad with names!) Todd turned to bolt back upstairs, but the villain spotted him before he could get away.

"Stop right there or I'll blast you. No one gets away from the Masked Bandit that easily."

Hey, the Masked Bandit. He'd gotten it in just two guesses. Though he doubted that would get him out of this jam.

"Which one did you call? Which mask is coming to thwart me?"

Todd shook his head. "I . . . I didn't call anyone. I was about to go back up and do that."

"Don't you lie to me!" The Masked Bandit pulled out a huge handgun, one that looked like it shot missiles instead of bullets, and shoved it in his face. The barrel was as big as his head.

Todd took a deep breath. "I'm not lying, I swear. I didn't call anyone."

The Masked Bandit lowered his oversized gun. "Yeah, right, like I believe that. You're just trying to buy time. So who was it? The Jailer? Wendell the Wonderkid? Corporal Awesome and the Awesome Brigade?" He turned and gazed out to the street. "Yeah, you probably realized you needed a whole team to deal with me."

"Or not." Todd pointed the stun gun, and before the Masked Bandit could react, shot him full of volts. The super villain flopped around for a few seconds, and then fell to the ground, unconscious.

He grabbed his cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. Maybe this superhero gig wasn't so tough. Maybe he could go vigilante. But who would he be? Captain Stun Gun? The Stunning Avenger?

Nah. He already had a gig to be proud of. He was . . . The Security Guard.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Writing Prompt #17

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 king requests an audience with you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

#fridayflash--The Raffle

The Raffle
by Eric J. Krause

The doorbell rang. Jerry abandoned his fried chicken frozen dinner, and walked to the door. A smiling man, probably in his mid-40s, balding, and wearing a cheap brown suit greeted him. "May I help you?" Jerry asked.

The man smiled, showing a row of perfect but fake-looking teeth. "Hello, Mr. Reed, I'm happy to inform you that you've won the raffle. If you just hand me your ticket, I'll leave you with your prize and let you get back to your dinner."

"What raffle are you talking about? I haven't . . ."

"Oh, but you have. I remember you quite clearly. Outside Food Shopper's Paradise last week. Tuesday, if I'm not mistaken."

Jerry rumpled his brow and thought back. Last Tuesday he'd done a quick grocery shop after work. As he left, a few kids in some sort of organizational uniform asked him to join the raffle. He had a five in his pocket from lunch and handed it over. He never won those sorts of things, so he didn't listen to the sales pitch. He was just happy to do a bit for charity.

"I remember, but I don't know what I did with my ticket. Anyway, I was just happy to make a donation. What organization was it again?"

"The Kid Scouts," the man said, his smile bigger than before. The guy definitely wore dentures.

"Kid Scouts? Never heard of it. Is it affiliated with the Boy or Girl Scouts?"

"No, we're our own group. But back to the raffle. I think you'll want to find your ticket, Mr. Reed. You'll really enjoy the prize."

Jerry shook his head. "Just give it to the runner up. I have no idea where I put it." Jerry paused. "Hey, how do you know my name and where I live? I didn't leave any of my information."

"Oh, but you did, Mr. Reed, you did." The guy gave one of those creepy, serial killer smiles, and Jerry wanted nothing more than for him to leave.

"I didn't." Jerry inched the door closed. "I remember handing over five bucks and getting a ticket. That was it. I put it in my pocket and left."

The stranger gave an exaggerated sigh of relief. "At least we know where your ticket is. Check your pocket."

Jerry shook his head. "Different pants."

The man winked at him. "Humor me, will you?"

Jerry reached into his right pocket. He didn't feel anything at first, but then his knuckles brushed the edge of something. "What the . . . ?" He pulled it out and found the raffle ticket. He had no idea if it was his or not, as he'd never bothered to check the numbers. It couldn't be, though. The guy was pulling something on him.

"Excellent, you found it. Now you can claim your prize." He pulled a small wooden box out from behind his back.

"What is it?" Jerry asked.

"You need to open it to find out." The man blinked. Not his eyes, but his entire body, right out of existence. Just for an instant, but long enough for Jerry to notice. The man stood there, smiling as if it hadn't happened.

Jerry shook his head. "I'm not taking that thing unless you tell me what's inside. I don't want a bomb to blow up or a dozen scorpions to fall out at my feet or something."

The man laughed. "I doubt the thing you want most in life is for something to hurt or kill you." His face melted, the skin bleeding off his skull as if made of wax. Jerry clenched his eyes shut and then opened them. The man stood smiling, holding the box.

Jerry didn't say anything else. He slammed the door shut and locked it. He turned to head back to the kitchen, prepared to ignore any knocks or doorbell rings, when he found himself nose to nose with the stranger. He let out a scream and stumbled backwards into the front door.

"Sir, I don't know what's got you so spooked. This prize is a good thing. Anything your heart desires."

Jerry's heart beat so hard his chest hurt. There was no possible way this man, or whatever he was, could get in the house so fast. "I just want you out of here. I want you to leave me alone."

The stranger laughed. Jerry noticed his teeth again. The dentures must've slipped because this time they looked neither fake nor perfect. This time they looked like animal (or monster) teeth, sharp and ready for tearing.

"That can't be your heart's desire," the stranger said. "Most men want an unlimited supply of money or the undying love of a supermodel. Open the box and see what you really want."

Jerry shook his head and fumbled behind him for the doorknob. "Please, just go."

The stranger held up the box. "I'll tell you what. Usually the winner has to open it, but I guess we can bend the rules just this once."

He pulled the top off. Jerry winced, expecting the worst, but nothing happened. The man looked down into it. "Hmm, I guess you were right. You do want me to leave. Peculiar wish, but it's my command." The stranger vanished, and the box dropped to the floor.

Jerry waited a minute or two, but nothing happened. He looked out the peephole in the front door and saw no sign of the man outside. Finally, he turned to the box. He picked it up, tensed for anything, and looked inside.

A perfect tiny replica of the man stood inside. It waved at him and disappeared. A few seconds later, the little man came back, only to wave at him again and disappear. This cycle went on for about a minute until the little man didn't reappear. Then the box popped out of existence. It, too, didn't come back.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Writing Prompt #16

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 walk through cobwebs.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

#Fridayflash--The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow
by Eric J. Krause

Teddy lifted one strand of barbed wire high enough for Cal to scoot through unscathed. They'd thought earlier the full moon would hinder them by illuminating their shenanigans, but the bright light had thus far proved to be their ally in sneaking onto the Johnstone farm.

Cal pointed at the paint cans and brushes. "Pass those over, and then I'll help you through." Teddy complied, and less than a minute later they headed towards the main barn.

"This'll teach his ass," Cal muttered under his breath.

Teddy nodded but said nothing. Cal hadn't explained how Farmer Johnstone had messed with him. But if Cal said the farmer was in the wrong, that was good enough for Teddy.

"There's the barn. Think of good cuss words to paint on the side."

Teddy frowned. "Cuss words? I thought we were just going to give it a crappy paint job."

"Yeah, that'd show him. Let's do his chores. The paint job on there now is so piss-poor, I don't think it's possible to make it worse."

Teddy's retort died in his throat. The scarecrow was looking at him. But that wasn't the weird part. Its eyes glowed ruby red. And they followed him.

"What the hell's up with that scarecrow?"

Cal looked over at it. "What? It's a scarecrow. Now you're afraid of scarecrows and cuss words?"

Teddy felt himself blush. "No, no. It just . . ." What? Looked at him? He glanced back and saw it was nothing but a crude, lifeless face. "Never mind."

Teddy thought he heard Cal mutter that he should have brought Dean instead. He gritted his teeth and promised himself he wouldn't disappoint Cal.

"Alright. You got some good words?"

Teddy nodded and tried to catch his breath. He was nervous, but not as much as this warranted. It felt like he'd just run the mile in PE. He glanced back and saw the scarecrow staring at him again, its glowing eyes back.



Teddy wanted Cal to look at the scarecrow to tell him he wasn't crazy, but he caught himself. He didn't want Cal to start hanging out with other people because he was a chicken.


"Uh, what if we just did one cuss word per wall. I mean, we'll write it a bunch of times, but each one will have a cuss word theme."

Cal thought for a second, then smiled. "See? This is why I brought you. That's brilliant."

Teddy could only nod. His whole body felt like it was being pushed to the ground. He looked up at the moon. Did it look bigger than normal tonight?

No, the moon wasn't the problem. The scarecrow . . .

Teddy looked back at it and had to stifle a scream. Its face. It was . . . different. He shook his head. Wasn't its mouth straight across before? A piece of string? Now it looked almost real.

"Come on, bro, we need to finish before we get caught." Cal was already painting "shit" over and over on one wall. "Either help me or pick a different wall to start on."

Teddy decided to head around the corner to get away from the scarecrow. Neither his feet nor the paint can wanted to lift up. He glanced over his shoulder and tripped, spilling the paint.

"Dude! Watch it! Now we won't have enough."

He opened his mouth to apologize, but couldn't. The scarecrow. It moved. It couldn't be the wind, as there wasn't so much as a breeze. No, it'd shifted on its own.

"It's moving, Cal, it's moving!"

Cal dropped his paintbrush. "What? Old man Johnstone? Crap! Grab your stuff and book." He grabbed his paint can, shoved the brush in, and took off the way they came.

Teddy watched him go. He wanted to follow, but couldn't move. He couldn't even scream. He found that out as the scarecrow stumbled towards him, the hay and leaved stuffed inside shuffling about.

It reached him and smiled. How had he ever viewed its face as anything other than real? The odor emanating from it, though a pleasant harvest blend on the surface, had a decay underneath that had nothing to do with nature. It reached out and brushed his cheek with an outstretched finger. It felt like a mix between a dried-out leaf and a squished slug. If he had any control of his muscles, he'd have retched and spilled his dinner down with the paint.

"Your turn," it said in a barely audible whisper.

It pushed its palm onto his forehead, and the world blinked. When everything reappeared, he found himself standing in the middle of the Johnstone field. At least he thought he was standing. He couldn't feel anything at all.

After a few minutes of trying, he flopped his head around, though he wished he hadn't. Not only was he wearing the scarecrow's clothes, complete with hay and leaves, but someone who looked exactly like him was hightailing it out of the field.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Writing Prompt #15

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

A tiny spacecraft crashes through your bedroom window.