The Carpet

I wake to a fight breaking out between Hector and Ramona. He refuses to stop singing that stupid song. Ramona decides to force him. It’s not smart of Hector, forcing her like that.

Ramona is a survivor and mean as an old man’s spit. Protected only by a can of kerosene and a few matches, she saw the carpet eat the rest of her family alive. Something like that gives nightmares in the day. Memories which make us scream when eyes are open. We all have them to one degree or another.

The rest of us only make half-hearted attempts to stop her as she cuts him over and over again. Hector sang the song for days. We were tired of it. He doesn’t stop singing–even his screams are sung words.

We gave him lots of warnings.

At least Ramona does more than her fair share of cleaning up the mess. We cut the body into smaller chucks, more manageable in size, just like the books say we should. Use chemicals and brushes to clean up real good. Some weak jokes about the cleaning. A few laughs which poorly hide the pain.

If only our parents can see us now. How clean the bunker is. Walls and floors, even the ceilings, kept spotless. It isn’t just what the books say. We’ve seen it. Seen what happens when floors are dirty.

The carpet comes.

“Bodega. Toptop. Josie. Lacy. Help with the parts,” the Big Book suggests. “Time to feed the animals.”

I put away my little book. It tucks into the pocket made from the folds of the table-spread I use as a satchel. When I was rescued, they named me after the lacy thing. None of us keep our Before-Time names. It’s been so long since I’ve said or heard my name, I’m not sure I can pronounce it.

The books say it’s a coping mechanism.

Maybe it works. The Big People kept their names and titles and they are all gone. Well, except for Auntie Sally. She stays outside, though. When she comes inside, she does things the books don’t like.

I carry an armful of Hector outside.

Going outside takes a while. There’s a lot of doors with short hallways until the next door. It’s important we never open more than one door at a time. We check the little hallways carefully, always two sets of eyes. A book is used to take pictures which the Big Book examines. Toptop is extra careful–he comes from another bunker. They weren’t as cautious there.

The books at the final door say the abattoir is safe. It’s a funny name for a place so scary. We do the cranks and levers to open the big door. It is bright outside—though weven when it is dim and cloudy it seems bright to me. Like underground is darker, despite all the lights. We scurry across the abattoir to lower the drawbridge.

The moat it leads over is shallow but filled with icky, smelly stuff. Chemicals which are supposed to burn the carpet if it finds the bunker.

The hike across the apron to the farms takes several minutes. The bunker is surrounded by a flat expanse of the gray-white concrete. Tall posts topped by watch towers spear the sky at regular intervals. Bridges, made narrow by the height, link some together. Sally lives up there.

To the south the jagged teeth of ruined buildings interrupt the sky along the horizon. The old city. There were fewer teeth now. The tallest buildings are falling, one by one, as months and years pass.

The Big Book says the carpet doesn’t eat buildings, but it sure seems like it to me.

We lug our packaged Hector east. The rising sun makes my eyes squint. The farm doesn’t resemble the pictures in the books. It’s a crescent-shaped collection of fields sectioned off by fencing. Horses and cows mingle in some areas. Pigs, goats, and sheep in others. Chickens dash under the feet of everything larger.

At least this isn’t a collecting day. I hate those. We have to wear special covers while we slaughter animals or harvest grains. Even in the coldest weather it is hot and sticky inside the suits.

Then we have to clean everything. Over and over. If even the slightest hint of a trail is left to the bunker the carpet can follow. Then we’ll be trapped inside forever.

If the carpet of ants doesn’t dig inside and eat us all.



Inspired by [WP]Ants, which have a staggering population of 10 billion billion, suddenly decide to turn on the humans, creating an all-out war between man and ant.

Magical Girl: Part 5

Part One, Two, Three, & Four


After my sister destroyed the world things got really strange. Yellowstone was the first of the Earth spirits she woke. If it weren’t for the happy spell in my head, it would have scared the piss out of me.

Made of magma, smoke and steam, ash and burning air, the thing is taller than the clouds. The air turns to ice near the top. It wanders North America, stomping with its magma legs, suffocating with its blanket of ash, and blasting with lightning.

My sister also woke air and water spirits. They scoured the sky and water in vast, snake-like shapes.

Her orders were simple: Kill the monsters. Set the kids free.

They set about their missions with ruthless efficiency.

It didn’t take long before the President and other governments stopped throwing nukes at us.

I kind of wish it had ended there. But my sister had more spirits to wake. It was like she couldn’t stop once she started.

At least these were smaller. Not as scary. Most were even helpful, in their strange ways. Titania was the nicest, though I could tell she didn’t trust us. Something about my sister worried her.

I couldn’t blame her. I loved big sis, but she worried me, too.

It was hard to be sure, but I think she was crazy.

She had always been a little odd. But now she could make anything she thought of happen.

The Moon looks like a sleeping cat. With wings. Every now and then it wakes to chase its ball of string through the sky.

Despite all her power, there were things beyond her grasp. She could make most things we needed with her power—food, shelter, weapons, clothing—yet seemed incapable of making undies. Or socks. Stockings and shoes she could make, but not socks.

She was also unable to see any adult—human adult anyway—as anything other than a monster. Even the kindest people caused her to recoil. It took me weeks to get her to change her orders. The colossal spirits were watchful and minded the ‘monsters’ rather than acting as agents of destruction.

There was more to sis, though. According to her, she was created to fight a war. Also according to her, the true enemy had yet to appear.


Nights were no longer things of darkness and mystery. The Gray and Green sky spirits which wreathed the Earth glowed softly, adding their gentle radiance to the bright Moon.

The small city before me glowed with faerie lanterns and enchanted electrical lights. I could sense the confluence of ley lines and filaments of power snaking around the buildings from magic-craft. It feels like a content, if not happy, place.

I wonder if it has a name yet. The sense of it is loose, off kilter, so it probably doesn’t. Which means its residents haven’t managed enough of a consensus for it to gain an identity.

Sometimes that makes my job easier. Sometimes harder. It depends on the personalities of those who lead.

I drop from the sky to land on a path and begin walking to the city. I don’t have my sister’s ability to warp reality with a whim, but Titania and others have taught me magic. My sister couldn’t give me her kind of magic, but she made it easy for me to learn the magic of Faerie.

“Be careful,” she says. “There’s a lot of monsters in there.”

“It’s okay,” I reply. “They’re small fry. I can deal with them.”

She frowns, pensive.

“Let me worry about the little ones,” I say. “You have the big ones to worry about.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I have wards and charms.” I pat at the medallions and rings. “And a company of rangers if I need them.”

She glances at the tall blades of grass to one side. Each is a disguised elf ready to come to my assistance in an instant.

I give her a small smile. “I need to do this, Jessie.”

Her frown weakens, gradually turns to a smile. “Alright.”

She glances at the elves. “Keep Princess Emily safe.” She doesn’t say what will happen if they fail. They already know.

I wave with more cheer than I feel before turning to walk to the city gates.

“You’re the who here to what?” The old woman’s voice is incredulous. Gray hair in a bun, blue eyes behind little glasses, and a face full of wrinkles, she is the picture of a grandmother. Her hands and apron are dusty with flower. Almost a dozen people, most children, are packed behind her.

Their clothing is worn, but well maintained. Patches and stitches. Stains are few, with most being new from recent play. Almost as important, the people in the clothes are clean as well. Evidence points to this being one of the good towns.

“I’m Princess Emily,” I gently repeat. “I’m here to find your witches and teach them to talk to the spirits.”

Her expression is confused. It’s a good sign. Better than anger or false acceptance.

“The world is different now. Magic is back. You need to learn to use it before the spirits grow troublesome.” I gesture at the lanterns floating in the air.

“Those are made by faerie. They are lighting streets and warming homes, lighting fires, right now because of kindness and the Knight has told them to. It won’t last, though.”

She glances around, frowning. “Like the old tales.” Wonder touches her voice. “That my grandma told me.”

“Probably,” I say. “Depends on what she said, where she was from. So far I’ve not seen any fairy tails which were hundred percent right. It’s been bits and pieces.”

“I know it’s strange and confusing,” I continue. “But so is this new world. I’m here to help with the mess it’s turned into.”

“You seem to know a lot about what’s going on,” she starts.

I put on my biggest smile. “A lot, yeah. I’ll answer as many questions as I can while I’m here.”

Magical Girl – Part 4

Parts One, Two, Three, Four, & Five

“It’s so beautiful,” I whisper as I watch death spread across the continent. North America swept below the space station, the beauty of greens, browns, and white of clouds marred by a smudge of off-white over the Colorado Rockies. The destruction of Cheyenne Mountain was numbing, but we paid little attention to it.

Our eyes were fixed on a bright red and yellow spot. The eruption is so huge I could stick my finger against the porthole and still see the edges. Over a hundred miles across.

A vast cloud rose from the Yellowstone Supervolcano, a mixture of impossibly bright colors from space. Anyone on Earth’s surface would see a pitch-black cloud, darker than the depths of space. If they live long enough. Heat, toxic gas, and choking ash—the cloud is made of death.

Static in the cloud creates sheets of lighting which spread hundreds of miles. Secondary explosions rip through the cloud.

“The compressed gasses, expanded enough to ignite,” speculates Kristoff. The Russian scientist spent half his attention on the station inventory.

“You can see the shock waves in the Pacific,” murmurs Jordan.

I look to see ripples spread from the west coast. “Holy shit.”

“I can’t imagine how horrific the tsunamis in the Pacific Islands and Japan will be,” I say. My words are meant for the microphones, Mission Control is listening. They will try to get warnings out but communications are being disrupted by the Electromagnetic pulses from the lightning bursts. Satellite electronics turn to slag as they hit the cone of EM energy spreading into space above the caldera.

The rest of the low and mid-orbit satellites are out of position. Emergency directions from owning agencies expended propellant as their owners strive to change orbits enough to miss the danger.

The atmosphere in the station is rich in ozone. The additional shielding to protect us from solar storms saved us as our orbit brushed the zone earlier. Bad luck put us in position to see the catastrophe. We were slingshotting around the Earth to steal momentum on our journey to Ceres. A five year mission with less than an hour close to Earth and the planet almost fried us

It isn’t like the movies, our ion-propulsion engine is burning at full strength but the thrust is barely perceptible. No shaking or clattering. We can freely move around the cabin.

We’re over California now. Clouds shimmer over cities in otherwise-pristine skies.

“The eruption triggered fault lines,” comes Jordan’s explanation. “Seismic activity is going to be off the scale for a while.” She pauses a moment, brow wrinkled. “Well, not off the scale. It’s logarithmic. It’s going to be bad though.”

My attention is drawn eastward. The Earth’s curvature gives me an almost profile view of the Yellowstone eruption against the horizon. What I see sends a chill deep through my body.

“There’s something wrong with the cloud,” I tell the others. “The shape is,” I swallow thickly, “wrong.” The camera strapped to my temple is sending a live feed of what I see to Mission Control.

“Are you guys seeing this?” I start to ask.

“Mother fucker,” comes the reply.

The cloud looks more like some kind of ungainly creature. Limbs made of lighting strike the ground as claws of molten stone spread through the air. Volcanic ash spreads from it like a cloak. The size of the thing is measured in miles.

My last view as it passes over the horizon is a collection of bright green-blue specks glaring in my direction. “I swear it was looking at me—at us.”

The others are silent until Kristoff speaks. “Mission Control? Request dispensation of Vodka.” The Russian’s normally level tone is cracked with strain.

“What the Hell is going on down there, Steven?” I ask Mission Control. I try to blink away the spots left by the thing in my eyes.

“We’re not sure,” comes is reply through rising static. “I’ll unlock the liquor cabinet.”

“Oh my God.” Jordan’s voice is filled with horror. She’s staring out the other observation window. “It’s Hawaii.”

I can’t turn to look. My own eyes are filled with a spattering of bright lights along the West Coast.

“They’re all erupting,” I say. “All the volcanoes are erupting.”



Three days pass. The clouds of volcanic ash move around the globe. Not in a “nuclear winter”, but as thinking creatures which wreak havoc on civilization. Infrastructure is ruined. Loss of life in the millions.

Earth hangs in our largest display courtesy of the main telescope. It is no longer the thing of beauty and wonder from our approach—or even the nostalgic home from the start of the mission last year.

Bright lights from volcanoes loop around the planet. Smudges of colossal creatures darken its surface. Ash clouds grip the planet like constricting snakes.

Other screens show the lines of mission updates.

“We have new mission,” Kristoff speaks. There is a odd sense of finality to his words. And regret. We were full of regret, the pain of seeing the destruction of our home, but his seemed more immediate. More personal.

He swallows a measure of vodka from a drink bulb. The liquor cabinet held a single liter of vodka. Kristoff drinks it a tiny sip at a time, too little to become drunk, but seemed to take comfort in the flavor.

“Four years left in mission,” Kristoff murmurs. I glance at him, but his eyes are closed, his expression closed in thought.

Part of our mission is to leave a library on Ceres. Made of crystal which can endure hundreds of millions of years, it is supposed to be a gesture for future civilizations. The library itself masses less than a kilogram. The reflecting mirrors to make it more detectable in space mass considerably more.

“We’re an ark now,” Jordan states. “We’re bringing Alexandria back.”

“How much will it help?” I ask. “It’s not like we can take it down. We won’t have enough supplies and consumables to last more than a few weeks. Maybe six months if we start rationing now.”

“It is not if it will help,” says Kristoff. “You must try.”

He kicks off from the bulkhead and drifts down, as much down as we have at one hundredth of Earth’s gravity, towards the engineering bay. He takes the rest of the vodka with him.

Jordan starts to say something, alcohol isn’t supposed to leave the galley/rec area. Her protest turns to a sigh and she shrugs.

“It’s not that I think we shouldn’t try,” I say. My words sound lame to my own ears. “There’s so little time left once we return to Earth.”

“They know we are returning.” Jordan is thoughtful. “There’s no telling what they will do with the Mars-fleet infrastructure. There were a couple dozen missions in orbit when we passed. By the time we get back—” she shrugs.

I can’t think of anything to say. I reach out and we hold hands during the silence.

An alarm sounds. The airlock.


It takes us only a few seconds to reach the door. It is sealed tight. The display shows the pressure dropping beyond. Kristoff isn’t wearing a suit.

“I am geologist. Astronomer. Astrophysics. ” His voice is hollow. “I am not necessary for new mission.” He takes a long pull from the bulb. Smiles.

Jordan slaps at the controls as she tries to override the system. Kristoff has locked it.

“Don’t do this, Kristoff! Don’t give up!”

“Am not giving up,” he says. His voice is quiet and eyes are wet. “I give you time. Years. Extend mission by third.”

“You don’t have to do this now!”

“Yes. Longer I wait, the less effect.”

We can barely hear him. Not much air in the lock for his words to reach the microphone.

He pushes against the deck with a foot and drifts from the airlock, the bulb of vodka held in a salute.

Magical Girl: Part 3

Parts ONETWO, Three, Four, and Five


I said a crude word during a lull in the argument filling the situation room. The update on my tablet filled my eyes.

“We’re so fucked,” I whispered.

Even a few seconds earlier the statement would have been unheard, an undercurrent in the room’s noise.

“Perhaps you would care to enlighten us?” The voice sent shivers along my spine. I’d attracted the attention of the Vice President.

Generals, advisers, my own boss, both in the briefing room and telepresenced around the world were focused on me.

I knew better than to hesitate. Politicians and Military alike were waiting for a target to vent their frustration on. They were the least of my worries.

“We have it wrong. I mean backwards. We haven’t been reacting to Her attacks. She’s been reacting to ours.”

“I’m not exactly seeing the difference,” the Secretary of the Navy started. The Vice President raised his hand for quiet.

“We’ve been spinning our wheels for hours. I’m willing to hear something new.” He nodded to me.

I held up the tablet, more for my boss than the others.

“We’ve managed to piece together reports tracking her activity, but more importantly, the triggers to her attacks. We worked with the basis of what the other girl said. ‘Stop being monsters’ and ‘stop kidnapping her little sister.'”

I keyed up images on the main monitors. Clips of the meeting—interrogation, really—recorded a few hours ago.

“Confused the hell out of us at first. We thought this was the first attempt to explore the connection with the younger girl. It wasn’t. It was the first we knew about because the destruction was too complete after the earlier attempts.”

The Secretary of Security, my boss, was going through his laptop. He started throwing other images on the screen. Maps of North America. Blotches of color to show the Unknown Aggressor’s attacks. Bright pinpoints to show possible earlier attempts at interrogation. Summaries of the probable events floated next to the maps.

“As close as we can figure, it started with a police report in the outskirts of Atlanta. Several officers and a detective missing. Then a SWAT team. The officer down response moved hundreds of Local Enforcement Officers and Federal agents into the area. All went missing. City blocks were destroyed. A National Guard unit responded.”

The last pinpoint blossomed to cover most of Atlanta. Hundreds of thousands were missing.

“We don’t know how this started. But as far as we can tell, each time She escalated her reaction after she or her sister were attacked. By an order of magnitude or more.”

I looked around. More than one ashen expression met my gaze as my meaning sunk in.
The Secretary of Defense spoke up. “We collected the younger girl and the Unknown after hitting them with a cruise missile. What’s worse than a nuke?”

“Oh, fuck.” My boss. He pushed the map from the latest update to the main monitor. It showed the meeting of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. It was a live satellite feed, a blinking triangle showed the girl’s current position. A dark smudge in the corner marked Cheyenne Mountain. A cloud of dust.

Red X’s marked the crash sites of helicopters and jets.

“She’s going to Yellowstone? What’s there besides vacationers, bears, and hot springs?”

I swallowed. Explaining was harder than I thought.

The National Science Adviser said the words.

“Yellowstone is a volcanic caldera. It’s the largest one in North America. She’s going to trigger a super volcano.”

The Craft

From this writing prompt:


The Craft is both a particle and a wave. Time and space are exchangeable. The time it spends as particle and wave doesn’t exist–the concept of time is null from its point of view. The Craft snaps out of its dual state to a more singular, normal combination of wave forms, quite often. It does this millions of time. Whether it moves through the Universe or the Universe moves around it is immaterial.

In its singular state, The Craft observes the region it drifts in meticulously. It measures and evaluates sensory data against its purpose and parameters. It determines relative position by the expanding patterns and temperature changes in cosmic background radiation.

The Universe ages over six billion years by the time The Craft’s sensory data meets its parameters. The bulk of The Craft is tucked away in a spiral of space-time. It slowly unfolds, extruding material from its quantum state as it observes its stellar neighborhood with a cloud of nano-structures.

The additional information proves suitable, even fruitful. With a glacial progression easily mistaken for caution but is programmed deliberation, more mass unfolds from the twist of internalized space-time. The mass is laid out one atom at a time, a painstaking creation of structures which, in turn, create more. The process begins to accelerate as the number of assemblers increases.

The structures condense, interlock, build upon another. They grow from millimeters to meters, from meters to kilometers. Looping and whirling, staggering amounts of mass is turned into mega-structures the size of gas giants. The churning mass turns again, momentum imparted by other structures.

When everything is ready, the tiny, quantum aperture, the original source for the vast machine, unfolds a last time. A world takes its place, with a single, huge moon. Orbital elevators are present, linking to the vast rings around the world and its moon.

The mega-structure that surrounds the world and moon impart momentum, the assembly orbiting the star.

Craft begin to buzz around.


The Earth has a new home.

Magical Girl: Part 2

Parts One, Two, Three, Four, & Five



“Are you people insane?” My voice is rough, barely louder than a whisper. Tears make my eyes damp. I have a hard time focusing on the two women and the man across the shiny steel table. Drugs again. One of those needle things they can shoot from a gun, probably.

I almost laugh. A nine year old girl put to sleep like a rhino or tiger.

“Why would you do this again? Didn’t you learn the last time? Or before that? How stupid are you?”

They frown, look between each other. They didn’t expect my anger. They never do. The woman on the left starts to speak. I interrupt her.

“Why do you keep making her mad?” I shout the last word. Spit it in their stupid adult faces.

I test the bonds holding my legs and arms. The cuffs at ankles are tight but my hands are loose. I can move them several inches. Good.

“We want to understand what is happening,” the woman says. “The things your, ah, friend can do. They defy all known physics.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I mutter. I taunt them. I can’t help it. “Conservashion of energy. E equals eem cee squares. Square root laws. I’ve heard it before.”

I stare at them. They are taken aback. Not by my hostility—anger isn’t on my face. It’s pity.

“You have to let me go,” I tell them. “Whatever you drugged her with won’t last. That crystal shell covering her will open and she’ll come out. And she’ll be pissed.”

“We have time,” the other woman says. “She’s surrounded by a—”

“Stasis field? Electromcnugget barrier? Lasers? A ton of C4? Entombed in concrete?” I smirk when expressions change. “Concrete? Are you serious? That’s what you dick heads tried the first time!”

My laughter fills the room. Shrill, but I don’t care.

“You’re going to die! You’re all going to die! Again!”

The man swallows. “Give her a sedative.”

“Won’t work,” I tell them. “She made me happy.”

I lean forward. Another smirk as they twitch back. “She’s been quiet before. Several times. You know that with your satellites. Didn’t you twits realize this has been done before? Don’t you realize every try failed?”

I sigh. “I’m a princess. It’s her duty to protect me from the monsters. And you people are the monsters.”

The room shakes. Dust drifts from the ceiling.

“She’s awake.”

The first women reaches across the table, her hand falters. “We’re being broadcast across the world. Tell us how to stop her.”

“You’re monsters,” I remind her. “You have to stop being monsters.”

The room twists. Crumbled concrete flows from the walls like water.


Symbols flow through the air, seeking me out. They form layers on me like glowing bandages. Other lines touch the adults. Their blood sprays out.

None of it touches me.

“Be a pretty good idea to stop kidnapping her little sister.”

Jessie turns the mountain to rubble as she lifts me from it.

Writing Prompt: Magical Girl

Based on the following writing prompt:

[WP] You’re a teenage girl who discovers she has magic powers and is the chosen one. However, while the powers are real the quest and monsters you thought you had to fight are hallucinations.

Parts One, Two, Three, Four, & Five


“You can’t be serious,” Emily said. It’s not like I could blame her, I could barely believe it myself.

“I’m totally being honest, I swear!” I replied. I moved my hand, feeling the flow of power, as shapes and diagrams formed around me.

Emily gaped, made a squeaking sound, and stepped back.

“See? It’s not just pretty lights, either. I can make things and do things.” I spun in a circle, the figures flowing through the air to settle on my body. In seconds I went from wearing a comfy, over-sized t-shirt and shorts to an elegant, almost Chinese-style top, a pleated skirt, matching stockings and gloves, and some real cute shoes. All were covered with magical symbols.

The lights faded as the spell ended. I jumped up and down, danced and skipped around my little sister, “isn’t this awesome!”

She was covering her eyes.


“You forgot panties!”

I felt my cheeks turn bright red, the blush working its way down my neck.

“Oops! Um. Just a second.” I concentrated, letting the current of knowledge pour through me. Huh. That was weird. I grabbed a pair from my dresser. “Guess I still need some wardrobe stuff!”

“Jessie, this is crazy. What happened?”

“Dunno,” I told her. I was preening in front of my mirror. I couldn’t believe my hair. Sparkles and dancing motes of light shifted through the dozens of elegant braids below a rakish beret.

“Something had to happen!”

“Well,” I admitted. “I had a weird dream.”

“What kind of dream?”

“Um. Hard to remember,” I admitted. “There were these things outside the house. Ruffo started talking to me, asking me something.” My voice faded as I tried to remember.

“What?” Emily picked Ruffo off the dresser. The stuffed animal looked like an elephant, though it had a lion’s mane and legs more like bird’s. I’d been in a sullen mood when I picked the toy at the end of our vacation in Rome. Now he was my ally!

I winked back at him as he held still in Emily’s grasp.

“I’m not sure any more.” I tried to frown, but found I couldn’t. I was too giddy. I grabbed Ruffo and twirled again, laughter bubbling from me–literally! Effervescent purple and green bubbles drifted around my head.

I tossed Ruffo on my bunk before grabbing Emily’s hand and pulling her to the door. “Let’s show Mom and Dad!”

“Should we?” Emily questioned. “Aren’t these things supposed to be secret?”

“Ruffo said there wouldn’t be a problem.”

“Why’s it so quiet?” Another question from Em. Usually her incessant questions irritated me, but not today! Besides, she was right. Zoe, our aunt-turned-babysitter should be up by now chatting with The Parents. Even a lazy Saturday morning would be a minor riot between the adults and the dogs.

We were on the landing, with the stairs a dozen feet away. Emily tried to hang back, but I skipped around to half hug and half push her to the stairs.

“What’s that–” Emily’s voice stopped. We both did.

The hardwood floor at the base of the stairs was stained dark. It had a sticky look to it which made my stomach lurch. Yet at the same time, the metallic scent drifting from downstairs caused a rush of hunger.

Vague memories teased my mind. Last night was pretty hectic. “Did someone spill some Ketchup?” I skipped down the stairs.

As the state of the house became apparent, my steps slowed. Scorch marks covered the floors and walls. What was left of them. Holes and tears everywhere. Bits of ceiling fell, passing through the gaping holes in the floor to join the debris in the basement.

“Wow!” My pace quickened. “That was some fight.” I flashed a grin up at Emily. “Wish I could remember it better.”

Her eyes were wide and fixed on something past me. I turned and looked. “Oh, yeah! One of the monsters got inside somehow.”

My feet were light on the stairs. In moments I was in front of Emily. “Don’t worry, Em! It’s really, really, dead!”

I took her hands and led her down. A touch of magic and we drifted through the wreckage to the kitchen. “We can get breakfast and–Hey. What’s that noise?”

I left Emily at the table and danced to the sink to look through the window. “Oh crap!” There were several monsters creeping around the yard. Were they trying to resurrect the two I’d slain by the garage? Magic popped and sparked beyond them, blues and red harsh in my eyes.

I gathered magic, feeling my skin tingle with the rush of power. “Don’t worry, Em! I’ll take care of them!”

Her face was pale, her eyes wet with tears. She couldn’t take her eyes from the pieces of the monster’s carcass strewn across the front hall. “Zoe?”

I gathered her up in a hug, placing a mild euphoria spell on her. “Wait here, Em. Those orcs don’t look very strong! Not like the ogres last night!”

She started to smile as I turned do to battle. Power lanced out from me, collected the ruined walls and floors, and converted half the house into a mass of gleaming weapons.

There were only a few of them. This wouldn’t take long.