Flash Friday

Time was a figment in a lab. Talia stood between an office chair and the stainless steel table, files stacked in neat piles and samples in vertical racks. The clock on the wall read 23:09, but the lights above held a steady morning glow.
She ran a hand through her cropped hair and set back to work. Dr. Folante had done thorough research in expansive studies. Years passed with subjects entering, sometimes fading, all before Talia could catch up.

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[Copyrighted © February 5, 2016, Jam Blute]

Flash Friday

It’s kind of a sad story, but there’s a pet bird in it. Silver lining.
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This stretch of city, tight and dark, was home to people like Runt. He blended in with a worn sack over one shoulder and a carrier’s “uniform”. None of them were ever truly the same, but there were enough common elements to make it close enough. Dirt stains spotted his clothing, which was padded in places for a fight-or-flight situation, and Runt never went without a hidden knife or two.

Or three.

He traversed knotted alleyways with native familiarity, winding up in the peddler’s stretch. Some good wares, some hot, and it was a task to tell the difference. Mess up, and you’d disappear with the real thief.

But he knew a guy, as Runt always did, and he wove through the crowd to a covered cluster of tables and barrels. Suo had done well for herself, scraping by to finally settle in peddler’s stretch. The fog of incense floated around her stand, and Runt crossed through it on his way in.

“Suo,” he greeted as he reached the back, and a gaunt man locked his sunken eyes on him immediately. He was tall, lankly, and his shirt hung loose from his scratched up neck. He sat where Suo normally perched on her table, chittering to her bird.

“What you on about? Shop or leave.” The man’s watery eyes fixed on Runt, waiting. To his right, Suo’s bird squawked inside a cage, pecking at the bars. People came and went in this city, here more than ever. Happened dozens of times to friends and strangers alike.

He wondered what this man framed her for, or what bribe he accepted. Might be just this shop she fought so hard for, a gathering of tables and everything Suo made herself. Not anymore, obviously.

Runt nodded to the bird. “How much?”
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[Copyrighted © January 29, 2016, Jam Blute]

Surprise Saturday

Yikes, it’s been forever.
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“Mr. Barnett,” she spoke, breaking the padded silence of the waiting room.

He continued filling in the sudoku puzzle book he got years ago and only just now started. Pace had a lot on his plate at any given moment, but some of them were sweet. And these easy puzzles reminded him that he was a genius. How could that be anything but sweet?

“Mr. Barnett,” the woman patiently repeated. “The doctor will see you now.”

“Hm,” he answered, looking up. It finally clicked – that was him. No one used his legal name, and Mr. Barnett was his father anyway. “Right, I’m coming.”

He grabbed the pen and book, standing to meet the nurse for his psychiatrist’s office. ‘His’ used loosely – he saw a new one often enough, cycling through just in case. But Dr. Gertler was a staple. She knew what he wanted, what he needed, and he trusted her.

That made him want to throw up a little, but trust was trust.
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[Copyrighted © January 16, 2016, Jam Blute]

Surprise Saturday

These are getting less surprising as we go.
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Her mother always said to be careful in parking garages. Alex whistled as she passed 2B, 2C, and 3A to her van wedged in section 3B. Luckily this client paid well for deliveries or she wouldn’t deal with this mess.
The van’s lights flashed when she unlocked it, and that’s when she heard him. On the opposite side of the van, he almost fell over getting up, but Alex was already there. A hospital band on his left wrist, his hood pulled over white hair, and a hunch like he could make himself smaller. Alex shook her head.
“You lost, kid?” It was a mall parking garage at 5:00 a.m., and this kid looked fresh from rehab. She’d made worse mistakes and gotten out fine.
“No,” he rasped, breathing shakily. “I’m where I need to be.”
“That right?” She stepped forward and he tensed, but not in fear. She finally his eyes, red irises looking out at her. No drug did that, or at least none she knew.
“You need a place to go, kid, I know ’em all. Name what you need and I’ll take you there.” She nodded to the van. “First ride’s free.”
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[Copyrighted © November 7, 2015, Jam Blute]

Slug Sunday

This week’s belated post is brought to you by my over-excitement during my first Halloween handing out candy.
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Commuters boarded and left as she sat there, reading and doing puzzles in last week’s paper. An earthquake across the sea kills two hundred people. Four businesspeople sit and talk into cell phones, never once seeing where they are before they’re off again. The economy is improving, studies say. A college couple makes out on the other end of the car, finally stumbling out on the stop for the orange line. The sun goes down and neon signs turn on. Another row filled in Sudoku, and twelve down is ‘era’. These were Dana’s connections to the world. By choice.
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[Copyrighted © November 1, 2015, Jam Blute]

Slug Sunday

You’ve seen Flash Friday, you’ve heard of Surprise Saturday. Now you have #SlugSunday. You’re welcome. ❤
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The world betrayed him. It had been as simple as it had been efficient. In the course of a few months, he lost everything to exile in the swamps. Even that exile was stolen, a precious gift he had to take or else die. Rahim, deposed King of Sand, sleeping in a humid swamp hut and dreaming, dreaming sweet nightmares.
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[Copyrighted © October 25, 2015, Jam Blute]

Surprise Saturday

This weekend snuck up on me, I swear.
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He was the last to leave the shuttle. The bags bumped off every seat and clattered through the doorway to the port. Wind crossed over the bridge, cold, and clouds swirled like mist underneath. In the open patches, Ashton saw clustered cities from there even smaller than the sidewalk life from his parents’ offices. At least back home, he could go down to the sidewalk if he wanted to. Even though he never did.

Ashton hunched deeper into his expensive brown windbreaker, hauling the bags up the stairs to an almost empty hall. Two students, a girl and a boy, it seemed, stood at the far end of it. The air shifting outside prevented him from smelling anything in this hall aside from the sharp scent of high altitude and the occasional hint of birds’ feathers. Only if he paid close attention, and he tried not to because the smell of most birds was dreadful.

When he was close enough, Ashton called out to them. “Hey, do you mind helping?”  So they likely weren’t waiting for him. And he wasn’t really asking, since he held out the two lighter bags in his right hand. To pass them the shoulder bags, heavier as they were, was just too inconvenient. But he couldn’t be expected to do this alone, he was Ashton Victors. He was meant for greater things than ferrying his own luggage to the dorms.

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[Copyrighted © October 15 2015, J.M. Blute]

Stop It Sunday

I pay my internet provider too much for all this broken internet.
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This facility wasn’t that different from his homeland. The place was isolated and cold and mostly barren. People here had a tendency to regard him with a mix of respect and distance that rang of home. Korbin sat at the oak desk, finishing an initial report of the weeks leading up to opening day. He would send it tomorrow when the first day of operations was complete. Setting it aside in the top right hand drawer, he stood and gathered his black coat from a hook on the wall. He considered it entirely suitable to the weather, but the rare staff member asked if he was cold and offered a spare puffy jacket. Korbin politely declined over the first few days and eventually, they stopped asking.

The hall was softly lit and soundless except for small shuffling from the floors above. He locked the door behind him and headed for the staircase. Passing another official’s room as he went, Korbin was greeted with a closed door as he passed. That same official arrived late yesterday and still didn’t seem adjusted. His plan was to find her before dinner and offer his friendship as means to that end. As head of the project here, he took responsibility for making sure his people were reliable and objective.

She had already taken leave to a nearby town earlier that day. If she continued on this path, there wasn’t much he could do. The group had been carefully selected. Not many were eagerly awaiting a position at a mountaintop military base, so replacements would be scarce. He would have to make this work just the way it was.
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[Copyrighted © September 6 2015, J.M. Blute]

Surprise Sunday (x2)

The internet only works when I don’t need it. Such is the way.

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Arman had always been early to rise. Even if the morning’s crisp air hadn’t crept into his room, he would wake with the sun. As servants came to him, helping prepare him for the day, guards switched posts in the watchtowers and the kitchen clattered with life as the first meal came together. This had become the normal morning. The men silently went about attaching his armor, both sophisticated and durable, as Arman’s thoughts carried him to distant days.

Or not so distant, as the rebellion outside the castle walls threatened. At this stage, all anyone could think of was the day ahead. He could recall a time when disasters were conceived of as weeks or even months out. How it had been reduced to days, that was the mystery.

“Anything else, milord?” He glanced down at the servant, already certain of his answer. “That shall do for the moment.” With two courteous bows, they left to tend to their responsibilities and he left to his. He would hope that the king would be in the throne room with his advisers, but the odds of that were far less than him being in one of the libraries. For a boy of such ignorance, he certainly enjoyed his readings.
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[Copyrighted © August 29 2015, J.M. Blute]

Surprise Saturday

It’s what happens when I have no internet on Friday.
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Who in their right mind would elect to ride in such a contraption? Esmé kept a firm grip on the carriage’s frame, stepping out onto the capital’s stone pathway. She still felt the rocking in her legs, which the frigid spring air did nothing to alleviate. At least if the carriage couldn’t give a smooth ride, it was warm in comparison. However, the daylight in the castle’s plaza was an improvement from the dark insides of a carriage. All the same, Esmé was grateful she didn’t have to live in such a place.

“Princess Esmé,” her chief servant greeted her. “Your belongings will be brought to your room. Feel free to explore the castle and meet your peers.” He was fairly young, but he’d earned his position. The true head of staff could not be whisked off another nation’s capital, not even for the destined Queen of Light, but he would not send a fool. Rens was short for a male, only about half a foot taller than Esmé, but efficient and well-dressed. Rumors travelled quickly about him because of his contained demeanor. His blue-white marble eyes met hers, and he blinked. “Please be cautious.”

She smiled, gliding toward the castle. It was elegant but formidable, a towering architecture built to impress while being relatively easy to defend. Some of those particular changes struck her as afterthoughts rather than part of the intended design. “Have I ever been careless?” Rens trailed close behind, dark servants of Light carrying her embroidered luggage bags beyond them and into the castle. “You are new to me, Rens. I will forgive you.” They entered the great hall as servants directed them into the ballroom. He walked as she hovered, her layered dress barely touching the sandstone floors beneath her beaded winter cloak. “This once.”
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[Copyrighted © August 22 2015, J.M. Blute]