Dexter Liu’s flight

(Part 1 of this serial is here.)

Dexter Liu’s heart thudded wildly in his chest as he turned to the left. He raced down the hallway, the lights flickering on and off in response to his flight. He ignored the solidly closed doors to either side, knowing that they were dead-ends, single occupant rooms.

In his panic, his thoughts jumbled together. He slowed to a jog, then a walk before finally stopping his head-long rush. Dexter looked around himself, trying to determine where his frantic flight had landed him.

His roving eyes saw, several feet down the hall, a ship schematic hanging on the wall. He hurried to it, his eyes scouring the map for a route back to the bridge. No matter what he believed he had heard or seen, he needed to access the bridge. His whole future depended on that.

Dexter Liu studied the map for minutes, committing the best route to his memory. He reviewed two other routes, as well, in case something unexpected occurred in his journey.

He turned from the map, gazing back along the hallway from which he’d come. Nothing seemed amiss, now, and he chided himself on his panicked flight of fancy. But, preferring to be safe rather than sorry, he twisted on his bare feet to continue along the metal-walled corridor.

As he walked, Dexter ran over his course in his mind. He counted one junction as he passed by, then the next. At the third junction, Dexter turned right. A few steps in, however, an uneasy feeling washed over him. He hesitated. The small hairs on the back of his neck shivered in an imagined breeze.

Past where Dexter Liu knew the next branching corridors to be, down the hall he hesitated to continue into, the low-energy lights flickered.

Once.

Twice.

Then several flared at once, brightening to an unbearable level, then suddenly failing altogether, plunging the distant portion of the corridor into an inky blackness.

Dexter considered the path ahead, then considered the longer, more roundabout route that would take him through the medical bay, with its occupied sleep pods, to the bridge. He turned around, looking across the junction to the longer route. His feet carried him back into the wide area where the corridors met.

His instincts urged him to flee from the darkness, but his desire to finish his work pulled him toward the well of inky blackness.

Dexter Liu worried over both options. He could take the direct route, through the pool of dead space, where the lights had suddenly gone out, or he could make his way through the medical bay, where several of the ship’s officers slept. Either way could be dangerous. One way could put his plan back on schedule, while the other risked putting his plan, and his life if he was caught, in danger.

Which way should Dexter Liu take? Straight through the menacing darkness to the bridge, and completion of his dread plans? Or should Dexter Liu avoid the darkness and its possible dangers, to risk total disruption of his timeline by going through the medical lab?

You decide.

The plight of Dexter Liu

The silence on board the ship was deafening. Dexter Liu strode through the empty corridors with purpose. The entire crew was in space sleep, the hibernation pods locked with time locks, so even if they had been aware of his plans, they couldn’t stop him.

Dexter’s slippered feet swished quietly along the organic metal floor. Pulsing low-energy lights illuminated the area within five feet of him. Each light brightened to allow easy visibility as he moved within range, then lowered again to a soft ambiance as he departed.

The plush gown the man wore kept him warm enough in the lowered temperature of the ship. The barest of chills swept across the few patches of bare skin as the ship’s circulatory systems refreshed the air around him. He smiled to himself, anticipating his arrival on the ship’s bridge, only a few hundred more yards away.

A whirring sound behind him intruded on his thoughtful anticipation. His steps slowed. Dexter turned his head to the side, angling his ears toward the sound. He didn’t hear it again.

Shrugging his shoulders, Dexter picked up his pace once again. He turned his attentions to the sounds of the ship, listening for anything peculiar. But nothing seemed out of place. Besides his presence, of course.

He smiled once again, reviewing his plan for the millionth time since he hatched it. Dexter’s steps carried him to the lift, which dutifully opened to allow him entrance. He selected the bridge level, four stops up.

A flash of light appeared in the corridor he’d come from, just as the lift doors closed. Dexter wondered at it, thinking perhaps the ship, feeling his presence, had opened a security officer’s pod early.

But as he considered the possibility, he realized that none of the low-energy lights had brightened behind him, as they were programmed to do when a physical being was present. Vaguely disturbed by the phenomenon, Dexter mulled it over during the short ride to the captain’s deck.

As the doors on the main deck swished open, the man heard scuttling noises coming from a nearby corridor. The hairs on his neck stood up and chills scattered across his spine.

“Hello? Who’s there,” he called. There was no answer, but the noise stopped.

Ignoring the closed bridge doors beside the lift, Dexter Liu moved outward, toward the noise-containing corridor. The lights, as low-energy here as in the rest of the ship, behaved properly at his advance.

The entrance to the metal hallway was brightened by his presence, but none of the lights, further along, brightened to indicate anything was amiss. Slowly, Dexter bent to slide the slippers from his feet. Cocking his arm back, he threw the shoe as far down the corridor as he could. In response, the lights flickered uncertainly, due to the size of his shoe, but Dexter determined the sensors were working properly.

Unease set in. Dexter stepped sideways, keeping his eyes trained on the length of the corridor.

One step.

Two steps.

Then a barely audible, incoherent whisper brushed past Dexter’s right ear.

Startled he whirled, wide eyes looking in vain for the source. But the vestibule was empty except for him.

His nerves wrecked, he raced to the doors of the bridge, but they refused to open for him. Frantically, Dexter punched in his key code on the door’s manual lock. Still, it refused to open.

Feeling eyes on his back, he tried the override code he had paid his family’s fortune for, but it, too, was rejected.

From the corridor, furthest right in the vestibule, Dexter heard his name whispered.

He ran. Down the center hallway, the lights flashing on and off, before and behind. His whispered name chasing his flight.

His heart pounded and ached. His legs cramped from overuse, but still Dexter fled. Until the corridor branched off in two directions.

Dexter Liu stopped, panting, as he considered his choices. Left? Right? Which way was safe? Which way led to danger?

 

You decide. Which way should Dexter Liu run, to the left or to the right? 

 

(Part 2 is here.)

Patreon

Again, not a flash piece, but news.

I’ve started a Patreon page. To share my worlds, my ideas, and my works in progress.

If you’d like to check it out, it’s patreon.com/lumosvox

I’d be happy to have you join me. I’ll be posting flashes, chapters of my novel in progress, and other stuff.

I’ll still be posting here, so never fear. I’ll be back to posting flash fiction and serial shorts in the next few days.

Happy reading!

No flash for you!

Today, I’m not posting a flash piece. Instead, I’m going to tell a little bit about why my blog is suffering from repeated non-posting.

I have fibromyalgia. Usually, it’s alright. I have aches and pains, twitches and spasms, and brain fog when I get tired. But right now, I’m having a flare. Flares cause me to have extreme pain, muscle weakness, increased twitches and spasms, and major brain fog.

This flare started on Easter weekend. I had three days of running non-stop, which included shopping, swimming and a TON of walking.

Flares sometimes only last for a few days, but sometimes, a flare can last for months at a time. I’m hoping that this one won’t last multiple months. Although, it might, since I keep doing a lot of the things I shouldn’t that prolong flares.

Like going to the Renaissance Festival for my birthday. Or going to extra swim practices for my youngest. Or doing all the laundry, cleaning and yard work that hasn’t really gotten done since my flare started.

In short, although it could’ve been shorter, I’m flaring so I’m not writing nearly as much.

I’ll get back to more writing as soon as I can clear some fog.

The fallen god’s messenger

With his chair rocked back on two legs and his booted feet propped up on the table, Malcolm Eady looked like any one of the other dozen men in the department’s morning meeting. The captain, a smugly serious man, glared at the withered arm dangling at Malcolm’s side while he handed out morning assignments. Like every other morning, Malcolm Eady just grinned his devilish grin at the captain.

“Eady,” a voice from behind whispered into his ear.

The raven-haired god dropped his chair to the floor and let his feet slam hard against the cold tile. He turned as another officer, a desk-jockey, hand him a scrawled message. Malcolm nodded his thanks, dismissing the junior officer from his presence and his mind.

The note was short, hastily scrawled and unsigned, but it told the god everything he needed to know. Malcolm Eady rose to his feet, ignoring the startled stare his captain shot at his back. Then he sauntered out of the meeting room and out of the station.

The god-man stopped at a street vendor for breakfast, steamed sausages floating in fragrant cheeses and topped with a pile of sliced tubers. He slipped a chilled bottle of fresh spring water into his pocket, along with a wooden spoon, then he hurried on his way out of the district.

At the edge of his precinct, he slowed his pace, glancing around to make sure he wasn’t noticed. Sensing no prying eyes, Malcolm Eady slipped between two buildings, into an alley barely wide enough to allow his bulk.

In the morning shadows, the fairy girl’s platinum hair stood stark and shining. Her sapphire eyes landed on the food the god-man held. Malcolm Eady grinned, then shoved the food at the girl’s outstretched hands.

“You’ve done well,” the dark-haired man said. “You see, when you provide results, I provide for you.”

The frail girl wolfed down the food, nearly choking herself in the process. She nodded, never looking directly at Malcolm. When she was finished with the biodegradable carton, she tossed it carelessly to the ground.

“Pick it up!”

Malcolm Eady’s voice was sharp, low, and menacing. Startled, the girl snatched the refuse from the ground, hugging it to herself. Her teary eyes turned to his.

“This,” he snarled, anger getting the better of him, “isn’t your slum. This is my district.”

The fairy’s tattered wings wrapped around her body, a futile attempt to guard against his ire. Her body trembled and her eyes dripped tears, but Malcolm could tell neither was from fright but righteous indignation.

He chuckled, his anger flying from him. He beckoned the child with his good arm, pulling her to him by his force of will.

“Now, my pet,” he purred, “tell me all about your gathering of my army.”

The god’s proposal

The scream twisted in the night, shuddering from a high-pitched terrified shriek to an undulating, moaning complaint of extinguishing life.

Malcolm Eady heard the scream, but he ignored it. None of his business. Not tonight, anyway. Tonight, the raven-haired god was on his own time, not the department’s.  He intended to find some fun, well away from the suffocating restrictions of his civilized district.

In the bowels of the old city, laws ceased to have meaning. Here, with warlords battling over ever-changing territorial boundaries, law and order were only words to be cast aside. Deep in the heart of Valora, even a god could find the sweet release of death, if he wasn’t careful enough.

Malcolm crossed the broken pavement of the nearly deserted street, careful to avoid the shining pools of light cast by the regularly placed gaslights. His finely carved face broke into a devilish grin when he saw a scantily clad woman ahead. She held her fingers in a gesture at her side, showing those in the know that she had more than just her body to sell.

The beauty of the god that approached was not lost on the tired-looking woman. She straightened her stringy hair and slipped her many-times-broken toes back into the torturous spiked heels she kept nearby. Her smile revealed surgically implanted squared teeth. She was careful to keep her identifying canines hidden behind the taut skin of her lips.

“Evenin’,” she cooed. “I got everything you need, god-man.”

Malcolm Eady stopped short, keeping his muscular frame from entering the lighted area where the consort stood. He beckoned to her with his strong right arm, letting his withered left arm dangle at his side.

The woman laughed, low and silky, then moved to stand with her supposed-client. The eyes she turned to him, once they were out of the glare of light, were drug-blank. Malcolm smiled to himself then shook his head. He slipped a pair of gold coins into the woman’s hand then moved on, leaving the consort to wonder at his back. His fun wasn’t to be found in a drugged-up whore.

Malcolm Eady’s meandering path took him deeper into the ruins of the city. He crisscrossed territory lines without thought. The rare tender he encountered ignored the god’s progress. Even bearing a lame limb, Malcolm Eady was no push-over.

Nearing dawn, the deity found his fun. In an alley between two warlords’ boundaries, in a no-man’s land, a slim platinum-haired child slumbered under a pile of ragged blankets. Malcolm Eady sank to his knees beside the girl. His right arm lifted the blankets, revealing the tattered wings folded protectively around the frail body.

When his roving eyes finally focused on her face, he found startled sapphire eyes staring at him. His roguish grin brought no returning smile from the girl.

“I have a proposition for you, fairy-ling,” Malcolm Eady purred.