Potato Chip Prompt ~~ Keep Going

The yellow lines on the highway sped by in a blue, and we flew through the night, and we felt free. But we weren’t, and we knew it. We were running from something, and running away was never the path to freedom. I thought about telling John to turn back. I thought about suggesting he leave me, and save himself. He might do the latter, since I’d forced my company on him, but he would never do the former.

“The Master will be furious,” I said in a whisper, barely even able to say that much out loud.

At first, John said nothing. He concentrated harder on the highway than the empty stretch of road really needed; either gathering his thoughts or avoiding them altogether.

“You forced me to take you along, and in doing so agreed to my terms. If you won’t go through with it you can get out of the truck, but I’m not going back.” He growled the last part.

I bit my lip, trying to keep down the fear welling inside. He made no mention if I would be alive if or when I got out of the truck. Dead men tell no tales, and such.

The life of a regular slave and a fight slave were as alike as a river and an ocean: similar, but vastly different. There was no love lost between the two kinds, but as our paths intermingled like deltas of the aforementioned bodies of water, we did our best to not make each other miserable. Most of us.

The demons in charge did that well enough on their own.

There were different types of fighting circles to cater to the desires of the demonic: human, non-human, and a bloody mix of the two. Last, but not least, there was a circle purely for disgraced demons. Like ‘John’.

He’d done something to piss off some higher ranking demon hundreds of years before I was born, and was thus thrown into the fighting pits. When he’d taken the opportunity to escape, I had demanded to go along.

“So?” he asked.

His hands gripped the steering wheel, knuckles white from the pressure, and it caused the ghostly scars that littered them like corpses piled over one another to disappear. We’d stolen the truck, because car theft was more difficult to track than John’s demonic teleportation. They also couldn’t summon him, because when he was thrown into the pits they’d flayed his personal summoning symbol from his shoulder. That way a human couldn’t accidentally help him escape.

A sharp pain followed by the coppery taste of blood filled my mouth. I’d bitten too hard. My lip throbbed and I licked the pooled blood before it spilled down to my chin. Running away might not bring true freedom, but sure as the Hell we were running from, we could try.

“Keep going,” I said, the words breathless and out of my mouth before I could stop them.

He nodded, and drove on.

Potato Chip Prompt ~~ Not a Chance

Reporters are trained to develop a sixth sense, a nose for when a story smells fishy. And something about this one wasn’t right. First of all, werewolves can’t swim. Something about their mass and water didn’t work well together. They could in human form, of course, but the werewolf floater–read dead, drowned guy–was naked. Werewolves had incredibly flexible rules on nudity, but the middle of a Michigan winter was a bit much even for them.

Which brought me to point two: by all rights, the lake should have been frozen. In fact, most of it was. Every part except a perfect circle of liquid around the dead Were, as though someone had pointed a huge hairdryer downward and melted the ice.

“They’re sayin’ his higher than normal body temp caused the ice tuh melt, as he was shiftin’ back,” the gruff, older Detective Larson spat. He was sitting by my desk, slumped down, an ever-present scowl on his grizzled face.

“Well, you know the Shrews–they’d try to cover up a war by saying it was a minor disagreement over cheese,” I said, and scoffed. The SRU–Supernatural Response Unit, or Shrews–were notorious for downplaying everything.

But even they were reaching with this one, because reason number three was sitting right by my desk. Every detective I knew would rather eat his pension than talk to a reporter. Especially one barely above Townie status.

“Yeah, but they were really tryin’ tuh play this one off. Not to mention…” He paused.

“What?” I prompted, politely. Detective Larson was already irritated he had to come to a reporter about this when he hated my ilk. He hated me, too, just an iota less than the others. Or maybe being an out-of-towner was my advantage.

He still scowled at me. “The lake still isn’t frozen. Not even the tiniest bit on the surface.”

“Sounds like magic, not some cockamamie accident with a drugged out Were,” I agreed. “Maybe you should let the Shrews handle it?”

This time he scoffed. “Not a chance. That kid was my nephew. Like I’d leave this investigation up to those backbiters.”

Potato Chip Prompt ~~Fool for Love

“How did you know?” I asked, not sure I wanted the answer. I thought I had been careful. I thought she wouldn’t notice the signs.

I was a fool.

“Really? You have to ask me that? I was trained since birth to hunt and kill your kind. We both know you have a better question to ask,” she said, her eyes lit by a fire only mortality could provide. Vitality. Life.

Indeed, it was that warmth that drew my kind like moths to a flame. She had been no different than countless others, when she’s caught my gaze from the other side of the room, amber eyes sparkling with mirth.

“Why didn’t you kill me that first night? Why string me along for almost a year?” I asked, getting to the heart of the matter, though mine no longer beat. Even being dead couldn’t keep the pain of heartache at bay.

She shrugged, and broke eye contact first; so confident in my feelings for her she assumed I wouldn’t attack. She likely wasn’t wrong. I was a sucker for love, even at five-hundred years and counting, and she’d strung me along like a lovesick pup. My Maker, were she still among the undead, would probably ask to be staked all over again at the stupidity of it all.

“What fun would that have been?”

Seduction was chief amongst the hunters’ tactics, preying on our need to feed and bask in the glow and life of humans. However, it was also a weapon that could cut both ways, at times.

I stepped in close. She tensed, but made no move to grab a weapon. Her mistake.

When I leaned in to kiss her, she relaxed into my embrace. Our lips met, eyes closed, and for a few moments more I could pretend she wasn’t here to kill me.

Quicker than human sight could follow I grabbed both her wrists in one hand, and the back of her hair with the other. The silky, dirty blond strands were soft in my grip, and her familiar scent enveloped us both.

Yet, instead of struggling she smiled. Cold, cruel, and satisfied.

Pain like I’d never experienced in life or undeath radiated through my chest. In my haste to one-up her I’d forgotten something about hunters:

They worked in pairs.

Potato Chip Prompt ~~ Don’t Wake Me

Perhaps it was a dream, she thought. Perhaps, if she pinched herself, she would wake up. But she didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay in this dream world where laughter, soft and sweet, washed away the pain in her chest. Like waves over the sand with words etched into it, each rush over the shore took more and more of the writing away, leaving it clean and unmarked. Helping her forget.

She lay beneath a tree, the leaves rustling in the wind and dappling the sun and shade across her face. Her eyes were closed, and she soaked in the sun’s warmth, the cool breeze across her skin, and the sense of utter joy that surrounded her. Whole. Complete.

The voices of two children floated around her, and they were making up some nonsensical game as children were wont to do. It was lyrical, as though they spoke, played, and danced to some music only they could hear.

A noise sounded in the distance, jarring, like the needle scratching across a vinyl record, and she frowned. Not the distance, but THE DISTANCE. The outside. Real.

The wind died, and with its disappearance so too went the voices of the children. She bolted upright, her eyes shooting open.

“Seth! Jocelyn!” she said, crying their names into the night air, which was stale and slightly humid in her bedroom. Thunder rumbled and rain pattered against the window. She rubbed her eyes. The storm must have woken her. Yet, this pain in her chest and rising panic in her throat were not caused by nature’s intrusion on her dream.

She threw back the sweat-dampened covers and padded down the hall, her bare feet silent on the hardwood floor. She skipped the board that creaked, the instinct to avoid it as ingrained in her as the whorls on the wood.

As she made her way down the short hall and to the only other room in the small house, her breathing came faster and her heart raced. Something wasn’t right. She opened the door, the well-oiled hinges swinging it open as silent as cat’s paws.

A short sob left her constricted throat, punctuating the night like a knife in the gut as she remembered. As she saw.

Boxes.

No children.

Gone, like the dream.

Potato Chip Prompts ~~ Get Rich or Die Trying

At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money. Our first choices were the usual, to buy a big house or a fast car. Jack decided to get a nice combination of both and go with a yacht. Then a strangled cry rose through the night from the direction of the oil, where we’d left Owen to guard the site.

Before we could do more than stand in response to the sudden noise, Owen burst through the treeline at the edge of the camp. He stumbled, fell, and rolled once down the small hill before coming to a halt, rocking back and forth on his back. His hands covered his face and he was keening, high and piteous, like a screaming rabbit. It sent goosebumps along my flesh, and raised the hairs all over my body. Our shadows were thrown large across him, making it difficult to see what was wrong. A couple of us moved, so the campfire light could illuminate him, and the bile rose in my throat at the sight.

His hands were burned, but not like that from a fire, but a steam-type burn. They were red and angry, like a lobster coming from the boiling pot still alive and thrashing. The skin and flesh were engorged and falling away from his hands. Between the trees rustling in the ominous wind and Owen’s moaning, we approached in trepidation. Rey got to him first, and with his hands trembling he reluctantly pulled Owen’s away from his face. It was something out of a nightmare.

His hands had only caught some of the damage, and he was missing the flesh over his right cheekbone. There was nothing left to save of his right eye, ear, and scalp, either, like they’d been blasted away.

He was babbling incoherently, and we leaned in close. We could only make out one word: run.

It was too late by then, we just didn’t know it yet. A roar echoed through the night like some slavering demon come up from the pits of hell, and my heart stopped. What broke through the treeline this time made Owen’s injuries look like sunshine, kittens, and happy thoughts.