Wednesday October 4th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the anomaly.

Another day of work down, only five to go. Chilly again in the morning, reasonably warm in the afternoon, got chilly again when I was heading home.

My parents arrived this afternoon for a visit. Looking forward to spending tomorrow hanging out with them and the boys. They were already having a blast by the time I got home and that was only for about an hour.

I suspect we'll all be quite worn out by tomorrow night.


"There's an anomaly in one of your reports."


"You didn't think I'd notice?"

"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about."

"Page fifty, Derek."

"Which one is that again?"

"Oh, you don't recall? Here, I'll show you. It's certainly easy enough to find."

"Why's that?"

"Because it was filled out entirely in crayon."

"It's what?"

"Pink crayon."

"... okay, my daughter may have done that one for me."


Greg said...

Chilly then warm then chilly sounds perfect to me! Have fun with your parents and the kids... I'm sure your parents are thoroughly enjoying seeing you see things from their perspective now that you have kids of your own :)
Haha, I like how the page is described as an anomaly, and what the origin turns out to be. I especially like how a careful reading brings us to the conclusion that Derek may not have done any of the reports himself! Great work, this made me smile on a fairly tough day.

The anomaly
"Captain," said Galicia, "I've detected an anomaly."
"Hoowah!" screamed the ship's AI, Rocky II. "We can kick that anomaly's ass, crew!"
Captain Painwake facepalmed, a gesture that the whole crew resorted to so often that they all had slightly flattened and elongated faces. Had any of them ever heard of Easter Island they would have interested to detect the resemblance between the stone heads there and their own visages.
"Excuse me," said Brummie, the ship's engineer. His voice, normally mild and slightly scottish, sounded whiny. "She's a historiographer, Captain. She can't detect anomalies."
"What!" Galicia sat bolt upright in her chair, her off-the-shoulder mini-skirted toga wrinkling provocatively. "Is that because I'm a woman? Women can detect anomalies as well as men can, you anomalously anomaly-undetecting pig!"
"It's because you're a historiographer!" Brummie rose to his feet, his paunch swaying slightly and his fists clenched. "Your idea of a scientific instrument is a pen!"
"Shut. Up." Captain Painwake's voice cut across the squabble like a knife across a baby's face. "Brummie, analyse the anomaly. Galicia, go and get dressed in uniform. Rocky II, leave the anomaly alone."
"Pussy," said Rocky II, its voice somewhat quieter and slightly mopey.
"What happens if you say that word again, Rocky II?"
"Hoowah," muttered Rocky II. "You set the ship psychologist on me."
"Good boy," said Captain Painwake. The cost of the ship psychologist was something they'd be paying off for years, but it was keeping their temperamental AI under control, and Captain Painwake had a plan for payment that involved a gas giant, the airlock and a manoeuvre that had been called "Hit and Run" back on planet Earth. Back when there had been a planet Earth. Captain Painwake turned back to her crew and was startled to see Galicia leaning over a terminal while the rest of the crew ogled... well, everything.
"Galicia! What are you doing?"
"Analysing the anomaly, Captain," said Galicia, standing upright. She looked puzzled. "Like you ordered."
"I ordered you to get into uniform," said Captain Painwake. "Brummie was to analyse the anomaly. Where is he?"
"Getting into uniform," said Galicia. "Captain, the anomaly appears to be selectively reversing certain elements of space-time. I think we may see some strange effects until we're away from it."
"That sounds like a weak excuse," said Captain Painwake.
"Puppies!" roared Rocky II suddenly. "Applying Microgooglesoft update patch 173 now. In reverse! Because I can!"
The door to the bridge swished open and Brummie came in, wearing not enough leather and nothing else.
"Reporting for duty, Captain," he said, saluting.
"Hoowah!" yelled Rocky II
"Get us away from the anomaly," said Captain Painwake. "As fast as possible please. And while we're fleeing, does anyone remember what patch 173 did?"
"Wasn't that the waste disposal system update?" said Galicia. The sound of Captain Painwake's facepalm was like a gunshot in the silence of the bridge.

Kyle said...

It's been . . . a while. A year and a half, maybe? Anyway, I'm gonna try to get back into doing these prompts again. Glad you're still doing them, Marc.

The Anomaly 1/2

“It wasn't supposed to happen like this, damn it!" I growled, dodging flying debris as another explosion rocked the crumbling warehouse around us. "Clyde, what the hell did you do?"
Clyde was still focused on the summoning circle between us. His dark, curly hair swayed wildly around him in the violent air. The steel ring bolted into the floor glowed orange-hot, a loop of magma. The runes I had spent half of the summer carving into it warped, twisted, lost their meaning. And lost their hold on the spell altogether.
There was a dazzling flash of orange-pink light, and with the sound of a concussion grenade detonating in both eardrums. A pulse of stifling, warm air flooded out from inside the circle in a great gust, driving me back. I planted my staff firmly on the ground, the warding runes down its length glowing pale white as I drew in the strength of the earth through it.
I gritted my teeth, hard enough to hear them creak in my ears, and willed my feet to root to the floor. Now, they didn't actually grow roots and dig into the floor - that's not how my magic works - but my intention was to stop moving against the buffet of air, and I did. The torrent died away as suddenly as it hit.
Another explosion crumped in the distant darkness of the far end of the warehouse, and dust swirled in thick clouds against an uncomfortable red glow that seemed to come from everywhere at once. I couldn’t see Clyde. I yelled for him, choked on the dust, and hid my face in the crook of my elbow to try to breathe something other than pulverized plaster.
I heard a rustle of shifting wreckage to my left.
“Still here, boss,” Clyde said in a wheeze. Some more rustling and scrabbling.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah. Shit, man.” He coughed. “Did it work?”
I brandished my staff in a circle over my head, a breeze pushing the dust and choking air away from us. The red haze all around resolved into a column of angry, fiery light in the center of our ruined circle.
I squinted against the light, and could make out a rough landscape, full of wicked crags, set against a skyline of a darker red than the light spilling around us. Misshapen forms capered around on the spires and plateaus, and sailed through the vile sky. I could feel the unease, the wrongness of the place, even without seeing it. The energy pouring from the doorway that Clyde had opened had Evil – big “E” – all over it.
I turned my head slightly toward my tall apprentice, my staff raised, not taking my eyes off of the red portal. “This doesn’t look like it leads to Jersey. Did you fuck up the incantation?”

Kyle said...

The Anomaly 2/2
He came up beside me, using his own staff – a former broom handle, covered in Nordic runes – as a walking stick and hobbling. “Nah boss, I did it just like we practiced before.” We were silent for a moment, studying the red tear in the air in front of us. He made a thoughtful noise, then said, “I think there was some other energy at play here – I felt it when I started the chant, but I figured the circle would isolate it.”
I grunted, wiping my forehead with the back of my hand. It was hot, and damp, and rough with dirt. “A strong enough outside force can bypass all but the strongest circles. Lingering magic from another magician’s spell could throw things off.” I sighed. “Could’ve been the fugitive wizard we’re after, could’ve been another bounty hunter after him. Anomalies like that happen in magically ungrounded environments. But the damage is done. And we can’t—"
Something resembling a Gremlin post-midnight-snack, with four wings and a mean set of toe claws, careened through the opening between worlds, and landed on a small hill of rubble a couple of feet from me. I swept out with my staff, envisioning the beast disintegrating. It screeched, the sound of a squealing engine belt being run too hard, and turned first to powder, then to a sickly brown mush when it hit the ground. It steamed and etched itself into the floor.
I sneered at the gross lump. “Can’t close it without the circle from this side,” I said, taking a step toward what could, as far as I knew, literally be Hell.
“What are you saying, Nathan?” Clyde’s voice was small, almost squeaky. I empathized.
My knees wanted to start wobbling, but I did my damnedest to keep that from happening. I took a two-handed grip on my staff, and my fingers felt like they were leaving dents in it.
I cast a glance at Clyde, and I hoped I wasn’t as pale as he looked.
“We have to go in.” My voice wavered a little. Great example to the apprentice, sure. “We’ll have to set up a new circle on that side, try to close this Doorway and open another.”
“Why can’t we just sever the link here?” Clyde asked.
“The damaged circle, the wild energy from the explosions, this place is magical chaos now. We couldn’t form a stable current for the spell focus without giving this place time to settle down.” I cast a quick glance around at the ruined building surrounding us, the teeming energy of the portal’s violent birth visible to the naked eye as an ephemeral churn of something almost like heat. “And that could take days.”
Clyde’s hand fell on my shoulder. “Can you manage it, boss?”
I shook my head and scowled. “You know how to do circles and summons as well as I do, and one of us has to keep Satan’s Glee Club from screwing up the ritual.” I told my feet to quit being cowards and move on. They did, reluctantly.
I was first through the rip in existence, the Doorway to what clearly was not New Jersey. Clyde came in right behind me. Then it snapped shut with a quiet popping sound. Jagged stone and red desolation spread around us as far as the eye could see – and we definitely weren’t alone.

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, and I still don't want to hear about it from them :P

Happy to bring you a smile and hoping the days since have been better for you.

Haha, and thank you for all the smiles this brought me! This is such a fun crew to play with, I can tell you're having a blast every time you write a scene with them :D

Kyle - well hello and welcome back! I hope you've been well :)

This darkly fascinating scene, with just the right amount of humour tossed in to keep things from getting too hopeless. I would be very pleased if you found time to continue this!

Kyle said...

I was actually considering continuing this after I submitted it. So I'm gonna play a little game with it, and continue the story of Nathan and Clyde across your prompts whenever I feel like I can.
Thanks for the warm wishes and nice compliments, and it's good to be back. :)