Category: 101 theme challenge


91. Video Game

Laura hit the ground with an almighty thud. Dazed, she struggled to her hands and knees, and was bewildered that nothing appeared to be broken, even though she knew she had fallen from a great thud.

There was another thud from behind her, and as she turned to look another two thuds behind that one.
She got up, and stumbled over. Adrian was sprawled on the floor.

“Ow.” He complained, twitching in the dust.

“You okay?” Laura asked, as she looked round at the other two, and spotted Emma trying to get up and stumbling over again. She ran over to her to help her to her feet.

“What…what happened?” She asked, one hand held to her head.

“I…I really don’t know.” Laura replied.

Andrew was shakily walking over to them as well. “The last thing I remember is…being at my computer. We were all online.”

“Guys!” Adrian yelled out, “Come look at this”

He was standing at the lip of the gentle hill. Except when they reached the top, it wasn’t so gentle on the other side. A familiar town lay at the bottom of the gorge, with the bridge leading up to a gate they had passed through before.

“Guys, I don’t know how, but I think that we’re in the game!”

90. Number

“Pick me up, pick me up!” A five year old Willow demanded, grabbing Adam’s trouser leg and pulling on it.

Adam smiled at the young girl, and obliged by picking her up. He threw her into the air as if she weighed nothing, and she shrieked in delight.

“Again, again!” She giggled.

“Again, huh?” He threw her higher this time, and was rewarded with an even louder shriek of joy.

“Again!”

“No princess, I’ll make you sick. Now, what did you want?”

“How old are you?”

Adam raised an eyebrow. “And why do you want to know that?”

“Because I said that you were younger than Dad, but he says you’re older, and I think he’s lying.”

“How old is your dad?”

“He’s thirty two. There’s no way your older than thirty two.”

Adam smiled and tickled her tummy. “I’m afraid he’s right, I am older than him.”

“No way! He looks older than you. How old are you?”

“I’m six hundred and twenty four.”

Willow’s eyes widened as she looked at him. Then she crossed her arms and huffed. “This is one of those vampire thing, isn’t it?”

“Age is just a number princess. You live in a world where age really doesn’t matter.”

Rose pushed through the crowd as she spotted a very familiar back, which a sword strapped to it.
“Excuse, me. Pardon me. Can I get through please?”

She broke through the front of the crowd. “Esme!” She called out as she jogged up to her.

Her sister turned to face her, and gave a very small smile as she raised her hand in greeting and then took a step to the side.

Rose gasped as another women was revealed to be standing behind her.

“Mama!” Rose flew over to her and flung her arms around the mother that she hadn’t seen in months. “What are you doing here?”

“Helping out my girls, of course.” Katherine hugged her daughter back fiercely. “I do hate break this apart so soon, but have you seen your sister?”

“Danna? Last I knew she was at the engine rooms, but that was a couple of hours ago.”

Someone coughed behind her mother, and all of the women turned to see that a bald man with a chain of office around his neck had made the noise.

“Ah yes, Councillor, meet my youngest daughter, Rose.”

Rose gave a curtsy to the gentleman, whom she now recognised the chain of office as one of the five councillor who ran the city.

He gave her a short bow in return. “The pleasure is all mine. Although I must say, I am surprised.”
“May I ask why sir?” Rose enquired.

“I’ve known Katherine for a very long time, but only this morning did I discover she was a mother.”
Rose smiled. “She’s the best mother in the world.”

“Oh I don’t doubt it. How many children to you have Katherine?”

“Esme, my eldest, you’ve already met. Danna is my middle child, and Rose here is my youngest. Three was enough for me.”

Her mother smiled at the councillor as she took Rose’s hand and gave it a squeeze. “Shall we?”

Daniel rushed up to his mother, face alight with excitement.

“I got it mama! I got it!”

Lara opened her arms wide to embrace her son. He hit her and she swept him up and round to place a big kiss on his cheek.

“I’m so proud of you baby boy.”

“Mom! I’m not a baby anyone.”

“You’ll always be my baby boy though.” She planted another kiss on his cheek.

“Should you really be proud of him?”

Lara turned around. “Why on earth shouldn’t I be. He’s managed to sneak in to the targeted location, evade all the guard, disable a couple of traps, lifted the item he was supposed to get, and managed to get out again without alerting anyone that he was there and something was amiss.” She ruffled her young sons hair. “I think being proud of and praising something that grown adults sometimes find hard to do is something I definitely should do.”

Moran threw his hands up and shook his head. “Thieves!”

Falen stood on the balcony, looking down at the garden. She could see them down there. The mother and her daughter.

It wasn’t fair.

Why could she have time with her mother? Spend time with the person that had bought her into this world, why Falen couldn’t.

Here she was, half the geographical world away, and so much further than that away in spirit.
She wanted to be beside her mother. Wanted to be with her as she slipped away from this world. Falen knew that her mother didn’t have long left in this world. And it was tearing her apart to be here.
She looked down at the couple in the garden, just wondering around and looking at the flowers. Green envy clouded her vision, and she gripped the balcony harder.

And then all the tension left. Just drained out of her. She sunk to the floor and le the balcony support her weight.

It was out of her hands. Simple as that.

She had done what she had done, and these were the consequences for it. Falen just wished she knew what lay at the end of this path. Her mother had the power to see the future, but she had not inherited it. How she envied her mother now, able to know what would happen if one did this, or one did that.

How she envied the girl down there, who could spend time and touch her mother. Falen just wanted to go home, to her mother. Just to see her, one last time.

Lydia beat her hands upon the glass prison that she was trapped in, her tiny fists making no noise to the outside world.

“Help! Let me out! Please, let me out of here!” She was almost sobbing, pleading with someone that she couldn’t see.

The room outside was dark, and empty. The only thing she could see was her own prison, softly lit by some unseen source.

She continued to beat upon the glass wall, but nothing happened. The glass didn’t even vibrate, it was so thick. Lydia slumped back from the wall, and started to sob. Pulling her legs up to her head, she wrapped herself up into a ball and let the tears flow.

A time of indeterminate amount passed, when Lydia cried herself to sleep. A sudden knock against her back woke her up. She uncurled, and turned around. Valerion was the other side of the glass, trying to mouth something at her as he bashed against the glass with unnatural strength.

“It’s doesn’t work it’s too thick!” She said to him, hands on the glass and desperation in her eyes.
He tried a couple more times and then stepped back to look over the cage. It was shaped like a tear, with a point at the top, rounded sides but a flat bottom.

Valerion said something to her, which she couldn’t hear. He then made a back away motion with his hands and took out a short staff, which he expanded out into a spear.

Lydia backed away from the wall, and as he hefted the spear over his shoulder, she realised his intentions and covered her ears and went to the ground in a protective ball.

The sound of the glass shattering around her tore through her sensitive hearing, and she whimpered with pain as the sound of breaking gave way into the tinkling and crashing of shards of glass falling through the air.

Survival instincts kicked in, and hands still over her ears, Lydia turned to run, as something hit her from behind and swept her up.

Valerion jumped through the falling glass and landed on the other side of the shattered prison. He got to a safer distance away before he stopped and them put her on her feet again.

“You okay?” He asked, his voice fading in and out.

“My ears are ringing, but yes. Thank you.”

He held out his hand. “Come on, some others came with. Let’s find them.”

They were just turning to jog out of the room, when a voice came from behind them.

“Oh no no no. I spent far too much time getting you here to just let you break out that easily.”

85. Touch

The two blood mages stepped around each other carefully, avoiding the cracks on the floor that they had already made.

Francesca stretched her fingers and refreshed a spell that she held there with a quick mutter.
Narissa did the same, but her mutter wasn’t quiet enough, and Francesca caught a syllable. Oh how predictable she thought, as she freighted a step and then lunged.

The air literally crackled around them as the curses went off. Francesca opened with something obvious, and as expected it was countered.

Both women were light on their feet, and fast. You had to be in duels, otherwise you were dead. They had both fought each other before, but this time was different. This time, they were aiming to hurt each other, it wasn’t just for practice.

Narissa let of a couple of curses which we deflected away, cracking some of the circular seating around the room. The dance of curses and deflections and counter curses was so familiar, Francesca was beginning to enjoy herself.

No. She shut it down. Concentrate. Now is not a time to enjoy it. Save it and gloat later when you win.

Eventually Narissa was worn down to one spell left hanging. She muttered and free cast one spell, which Francesca twirled around and then spotted movement out of the corner of her eye. So that was her plan. She feinted, going in the direction that Narissa thought she would go in, but suddenly turned and leant back at the same time.

She felt and saw the hand, crackling with black lightning, pass just over her chest, and in the snap second of surprise from Narissa, came back up and her own hand connected with Narissa’s chest.

A touch was all it took for her own curse to go off, and Narissa’s soul was hers.

“So we have a cigarette butt which has given us a DNA sample, but not hits in any of the databases. A scrap of fabric which looks like part of a shirt, but a mass produced one which anyone could buy from their local Primark and a drop of oil. So where does that leave us?”

“Without a clue I would say.” Leah leaned back in her chair and put a cigarette into her mouth.

Chris reached over and took it out. “No smoking in the office, how many times do I have to say it?”

“At least once more.” Leah crossed her arms and gave him a look.

“We know that someone was there. And I consider it pretty unlikely that someone would be there by chance. We were careful setting up that drop, and we choose that location because it was remote. Someone must have been there to spy. The question is who or what agency?”

“Why do you think it’s an agency?”

“Because I can’t see any solo individuals or smaller parties slipping under our radar. We swept that place before and after.”

“Maybe someone was there earlier in the day?”

“The cigarette was still warm when we found it.”

“And it was cold out that night. It was definitely smoked very soon before we found it. Let’s go over the schedule again of what happened. See where and when someone might have been able to get through.”
It didn’t help. Natasha even drew a diagram up on their whiteboard.

“Yup. We’re clueless.” Leah said unhelpfully when she was finished.

“Happy birthday sweetheart.” Rhydian said as Rose walked through the door to the living room. She smiled at him, and walked over to his chair. Kneeling down beside it, she wrapped her arms around her father and buried her head in his lap like she used to when she was a small girl.

Rhydian smoothed the waves of her hair back.

Turning her head slightly so that she could talk properly, Rose asked “Just us two? Nobody else came home.”

“I’m sorry sweetheart. I’ve got cards from all three of them, but none of them managed to make it. It’s just us two. I hope that’s okay?”

Rose cuddled him harder. “It’s fine. We’re just very apart a lot of the time. I do wish they could make it home once in a while.”

“I know sweetheart. They promised to all be home for Winter’s Fest.”

“That’s only a month and a bit away.” Rose rested her chin upon her father’s knee. “It’ll be nice to see everyone again.”

“Did you want to have your presents then? Or maybe a bit of cake first?”

Rose smiled up at her father. “Of course I want my presents Papa. Presents first, and then cake.”

“I hope you like the cake, I baked it yesterday.” He moved his cane as he leaned over the side of his chair and bought out the first of the presents he had been hiding down there. “This one is from me.”

Tess was the first one off the longboat they had used to come ashore and the first one to feel the sand of the beach beneath her shoes. She breathed in deep, the hot air filling her lungs as she got the first breath of a new continent.

Turning back, she helped the other scouts to pull the boat up fully onto the beach so that they could start unloading the supplies they had bought with them.

Darren had a hand over his eyes, shielding them from the beating sun.

“It’s rather bare, isn’t it?”

“Have you ever seen a beach that wasn’t?”

“I’ve never really seen a beach before.” He picked up his feet and looked down at the sand. “It’s not very walkable is it. How do we expect to pitch tents?”

“You get used to it. And we’re not going to pitch here. We’re not going to be using tents in the normal sense. There’s a sort of wooded bit a little further on. It’ll be good to start with.”

Darren gave her an accusatory look. “You said that we would be able to build here. I don’t see how if what we have to build on is sand.”

Tess smiled at him. “There’s a cave system. Do you really think I would have bought an entire generation out here if I wasn’t sure of what I was doing? Give me some credit for thinking ahead.”

Darren stumbled as he tried to walk on the sand. “You can have some credit when I get off this beach.” He grumbled as he wiped sand from his face.

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