Odds and Ends that have been posted online elsewhere
A one time flash challenge by DLThurston 12-29-2011
Two hundred years was a long time, but still, she wondered how much longer she would live? If you could call it living, that is.
Roxy Braunhauf jangled down the sidewalk with rings and pins sticking out of her flesh from over twenty places on her body. Her mohawk stood up four inches and was dyed a dark red. The sides of her head had a millimeter of jet black stubble. Across her back she carried an electric bass guitar in a thin, hard shell case. The case was reinforced against the metal spikes on the shoulders of her leather jacket
Being undead, a vampire to be specific, was nowhere near what it was made up to be in movies and books. Sure, you went on functioning year after year after year, but to what end? For Roxy it was the music, the louder the better.
At five foot two and ninety-five pounds she looked tiny. But when she rocked, she rocked gigantic. On stage, she loved seeing the punks puking and slamming at her feet.
Late for a gig, she jangled louder than usual, heavy boots pounding as she stretched out her stride to make better time. She turned into an alley to take a short cut, and immediately sensed something was not right.
She was not alone.
Reflexively, Roxy turned to retreat and found herself face to chest with a mountain of muscle.
She jumped backwards.
The man was well over six feet tall. Under his leather vest, his torso bulged from juiced up muscles.
“Well hello there little girl,” he said. His mouth broke out into a lurid grin and Roxy could see a few teeth missing.
“Fuck off asshole,” she said. As she spoke, she reached up slowly and removed her sunglasses and put them in her coat pocket.
The irises of her eyes appeared to glow a bright yellow-gold when contrasted by the heavy black eyeliner she wore. Most people thought she wore some kind of decorative contact lenses. She didn’t.
“I got no fuckin’ beef with you.”
The man howled with laughter. “Is that right?”
He moved as if to step closer and she pounced.
Two hundred years is a long time to live, and Roxy had resolved to keep herself busy. Over a century of studying martial arts in a body that never aged? Well, that was one way. But what really caught the man off guard was how high she could jump.
One hand struck at his eyes while the other grabbed the back of his head and pulled. The extra leverage combined with a perfectly aimed knee was all there was to it. Roxy could feel nose cartilage and bone crunching as she struck. She released and dropped, quickly moving away as blood gushed out of the man’s face.
As he crumpled to the pavement, Roxy pulled out her cell phone and checked the time.
“Fuck!” she cursed as she turned and ran down the alley. “Now I’m really fucking late.”
It was the oddest thing. Alfonso abruptly sat up in his bed, awake for no reason that he could discern.He thought he had heard a noise. He sat for a moment listening. Nothing. His mind slowly tried to make sense of just why he was awake, as memories of the evening before drifted through his thoughts. Or were those dreams?
Often, when waking from particularly vivid dreams, Alfonso had difficulty discriminating between reality and dream memory. He would usually try to jot down notes about any particularly vivid dreams he had just in case they should translate into a story. He realized that he must have been having a particularly pleasant dream because the face of a beautiful young lass, laughing, flitted across his mind. He smiled knowing that was a dream for which no notes were necessary.
Alfonso glanced at the clock on his bedside table and saw that it was just past three in the morning.
“Christ!” he swore. He’d only been to bed for a couple of hours! He reached for the glass of water he usually kept on his nightstand and found, to his surprise, that it was not there. Instead, there were two sherry glasses and one of them was still half full. He pondered this for a moment. Odd, he thought. He picked up the half full glass and downed it in a small gulp. Right away he realized that he could still feel the alcohol thrumming through his system from the evening before. He got up, put on his robe, and began to make his way to the kitchen.
His kitchen was a disaster area. His mind, still numb from sleep and alcohol, seemed to be in a state of shock as he realized in a hazy memory that it was a crashing sound that had woken him. The roof was caved in with shingles and timbers having fallen through at sharp, odd angles with a large scaly foreleg and a reptilian head on a long slender neck drooping down to rest on the floor next to a large, overturned pail with what looked like milk spilled around it. The odor of unclean animal combined with a sour and bitter dairy smell slammed into him like a physical thing. He recoiled from its impact as all of a sudden his brain registered: scaly, foreleg, reptilian head, dairy.
Alfonso stood gaping, his jaw hanging open as his eyes strained to clarify what his mind seemed to be trying to register. Alfonso ran his hands through his ragged, black hair. It was then that he realized they were shaking.
Fear or alcohol? Good God.
Hallucinations, he knew, were a sign of severe alcoholism.
Despair muddled his thoughts. Alfonso stood for a few minutes and then, with a resigned spirit, walked out of his house and turned towards the pub.
When he got to the pub, the owner was just finishing up that last bit of cleaning and the last customers were exiting.
“Well well,” the bar owner said with a gusto that contrasted sharply with Alfonso’s frame of mind. “Still up and going I see. I envy you young men at times. I remember being young and free, yes I do.” He smiled as he spoke and Alfonso could only stare at him.
“Are you all right?” the owner asked.
Alfonso stared for a moment and then said, “Yes, yes I’m fine.” He ran his hands through his hair again and looked around at the empty pub. “Do you suppose I could get one for the road? A growler perhaps?”
The owner’s face took on a sort of serious twinge but after a seconds hesitation he said, “Sure Al. But then go on home and get some rest, okay?”
“Sure thing,” Alfonso replied with a forced smile. “Just one to finish off a late night.”
Alfonso headed back out into the street, bottle in hand, not thinking of anything specific. A nightcap, he thought. Surely with some rest things would not seem so dire.
Across the street in front of the local Inn, a group of young people stood waiting as a tour bus roared into view.
“Alfonso!” a voice called out. “Alfonso, wait!”
Looking up he saw a young woman dashing across the street towards him. Suddenly he realized that she was the laughing girl from his dreams!
“Hello,” he said. Rachel. Her name was Rachel. “Hello Rachel.”
“Come to see me off, have you?” she laughed.
“Why yes,” he lied.
She laughed at that as well, and Alfonso realized that she was very beautiful.
“You know I don’t usually jump into bed with strange fellows in foreign countries but I thought for you I’d make an exception, what with being a dragon hunter and all.” She winked as she spoke and he wasn’t at all sure as to which part of that was in jest.
“So,” she asked, “did your dragon finally show up? Sorry I couldn’t stay longer but had to make sure I was here for the bus.”
“Uh, why yes. Yes, as a matter of fact the dragon did show up. Uh, how,” he began, “how exactly did you know about that?”
“You goof! I thought you were going to break your neck climbing up on your roof with a bucket of buttermilk! Who knew buttermilk got dragons drunk?” She laughed again. Her face took on a serious look. “You were great fun last night. I’d love to stay in touch with you. Besides, I want to see this dragon of yours.”
Alfonso looked into her face and felt his heart flutter a bit.
“That would be grand,” he said.
They exchanged email addresses. She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before running back across the street to board her bus. Alfonso stood and watched as the bus pulled away and they waved at each other.
As the morning began to brighten, Alfonso’s world suddenly felt much better and he smiled.
I’m going to need more buttermilk.
The door swung open - and we jumped. We had only one chance to make it and we knew that the odds of us all making it were slim to none, but still, all four of us jumped. Zero gee meant we could get there, but it was all a matter of timing. Once the reactor blew we had to be on the other side. Period. Forty seconds to detonation.
The disc was like a massive, gear works balance wheel. Video analysis showed the circumference to be approximately four kilometers with two openings in the wheel, our doors, one hundred meters across at disc edge. Speed of rotation was approximately 1 rpm. That meant that each opening was available for about 1.5 seconds. We had enough air for a single attempt. For two of us.
Two had volunteered to jump manually. Tech Meacham would operate the air propulsion nozzle and attempt to carry Lt. Phipps since she was the lightest. That left Cpl. Sims and me, Sgt. Crane.
We launched across.
Opening appeared, I slid through. Lt. and Tech, space suit caught, the opening’s edge rushing - Cpl. Sims shoved them through, pushing himself backwards – and the door swung closed.