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Our Only Hope (Flash Fiction Challenge: The Subgenre Smash-and-Grab)

Flash Fiction Challenge Picture Sword
Via https://gradypbrown.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/magic-swords/

So for this week’s Flash Fiction Challenge, Chuck Wendig gave a list of 20 subgenres to choose from. Out of the list, you are to choose two of these subgenres and write a short story that mashes up the two subgenres you chose.

So I used a random number generator to pick which two subgenres I’d write about. The number generator gave me sword & sorcery and biopunk. So for this short story, I’ve begun to weave a tale about a young thirteen year-old girl named Liza Fitzgerald born into a dystopian world who goes on a quest to find the missing sword Alexandra, which is supposed to be a sword that can be used to both heal and destroy the world of Terra.

Oh, and just to let you know, this is only the beginning of the story. I haven’t come anywhere close to finishing this piece because I believe what I’ve written has the potential to become a novel I write in the near future.

Liza’s Journal Entry #1: Going on an Adventure

It’s the year 2032, and our country is at the brink of collapse. Most if not all of us are poor, due to lack of health care, and having to constantly work to put what little food is left on the table. The government is controlled by the rich and wealthy, who use all their power and wealth to help themselves, resulting in the eventual collapse of the middle class.

 Our country Terra is constantly at war. Our evil tyrant in charge Jafar sends out military troops over to other countries to kidnap and steal their people to put them to work as indentured slaves.

Every day, Terra’s populace increases, but there’s still not a lot of food and places for these people to go, due to the wealth’s need to own everything, yet not feed the population they have under control. So these people who’ve been taken away from their homelands live on the streets, which are nowhere near safe for anyone to live.

 Living on the streets is dangerous because people are becoming desperate, stealing from each other in the hopes of being able to make a little extra money. Some have even gone so far as to kill, hoping they can make some money by selling the body parts of their victims.

 Even the news and media, who used to be on our side, have completely turned against us. Every day, the media broadcasts live video of our inner city, boasting about how far Terra has come in advancements of technology. Trying to tell us how great our leaders are, that we should be thankful for living in Terra. And because our media has been paid for by our wealthy leaders, they then make bold promises that they’ll lead us out of war, and that those of us who’ve remained loyal to them will be paid for it when the time has come.

 We’ve come such a long way in technology, yet we can’t even feed our own people and make sure everyone is safe? Yes, that definitely makes perfect sense.

 But despite these terrible conditions, we have one last hope that everything will be alright. In the news many years ago before they’d been paid off, there was talk about this magical sword called Alexandra that would bring this horrible tyranny to an end. Alexandra was created by one of our mad scientists who goes by the name Rafiki in a genetic lab. Word has it that this sword has both the power to heal and destroy, making it an item our tyrant leader really wants to get his greedy hands on.

 Luckily for us though, nobody knows where Rafiki has put it. Because on the day the news mentioned Alexandra to the world, Rafiki and the sword vanished, and haven’t been seen ever since. But ever since that day, Jafar has vainly sent his men in search of this sword only for them to return empty handed.

 What Jafar doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one looking for Alexandra. When word got around that there might be a way to end this tyranny, the leaders of our city got together to discuss the best way to search for this sword without Jafar knowing about it. Upon reflection, our leaders made the decision to send some of Terra’s children to go in search of the sword upon their thirteenth birthday so that Jafar wouldn’t be suspicious of our city’s inhabitants. But like Jafar, the children who’ve gone before me have returned empty handed.

 Hello, my name is Liza Fitzgerald, one of the city’s children. Today, I’ve turned thirteen years-old, and have volunteered myself to go on this journey to find the missing sword. I know the trip will be difficult, that there’s a risk of me not coming back, but I’m not at all afraid.

 Ever since I heard about Alexandra and the trip children here take in search of it, I knew this was my destiny. I know I might never find it, since obviously none of the other kids here have, but I have faith that everything will be okay. For I am Liza Fitzgerald, and I’m not at all afraid.

With a loud thud, I closed my journal and stowed it away in my black backpack, which is within arm’s reach of the bottom bunk of the bed I slept on.

It’s currently early morning here, with many more hours left to go before I leave this crammed city to go in search of the sword.

Wow, I can’t believe it, I think to myself. I’m finally thirteen. I’ll finally get the chance to leave this horrible place for a little bit. Get to explore, maybe even see what some of the other cities look like. I know anything is better than my life here anyway, living here so close together it’s almost hard to breathe.

 I spend the next couple hours between staring at the one window that looks to the outside world, and looking at the bunk bed ceiling above my head. I try to ignore the smell of decay and death surrounding me as most of my roommates are either sick or haven’t taken baths in weeks. Not too surprising though, considering our water rarely works and Jafar and his wealthy buffoons don’t care about whether we have good hygiene. As long as we can work all day, he could care less if we are physically or mentally stable.

Looking outside the window, all I can see is a downpour of rain washing along the foggy streets. Also not very surprising because it rains here in Terra every day ever since Jafar took over. We rarely get any ray of sunshine. When we do, it’s always when we least expect it or it comes right before another downpour of rain and storms takes over. But as I take this opportunity to look outside, the rain slowly clears away to reveal a ray of sunshine peaking its head around the corner.

As the sun slowly lifts above the clouds, I get myself changed and ready for this journey. I pack what few belongings I own, including the staff that was given to me by my mother to channel my magical abilities.

You see, some of the inhabitants here in Terra have magical abilities, powers they can use to their advantage whenever it suits them. I’m one of those people, born by two parents who use their powers as their second set of armor before going out into the world. Being magic wielders, we are both respected and feared by those around us. But we are also the most protected because we are much harder to kill or injure, even when facing the most dangerous of foes, making us perfect targets for Jafar’s evil purposes.

Which is another good reason for me to leave. I don’t want to be a pawn for whatever else he might have in store for Terra. I’d rather die out there than continue to stay here and be used in whatever way Jafar sees fit. So I better leave now while I have the chance. Before it’s too late.

With my backpack full to the brim and staff in tow, I leave the cramped bedroom, trying the best I can not to wake up my comrades. I tiptoe from the hallway into the kitchen, which is in total darkness.

Then all of a sudden, the blinding kitchen light is turned on, and I hear a loud chorus of “surprise!” shouted by all of my loved ones.

Great. It looks like they’ve thrown me a surprise party.

 

 

 

The Knock on the Other End of the Door

The Knock on the Other End of the Door Image

“Knock, knock.”

A little girl heard a knock from the front door on the other side of her parent’s house. It was an insistent knock that caused her to jump out of her bed in fright.

It was dark out, almost midnight. The lights in her room weren’t on so she immediately ran out of her room into the darkened hallway. She ran past various rooms in her house until she got to her parent’s bedroom where she could see both her mother and father asleep peacefully.

“Knock, knock.”

She jumped because the knock continued persistently. It didn’t go away and she knew she wasn’t dreaming.

She was scared and wanted mommy and daddy. She wanted them to hold her, tell her everything would be okay.

It was dark out. Why was someone knocking on our door close to midnight? We never have visitors late this night. It must be a mistake, a misdirection.

Maybe if I answered the door, the person on the other end would go away? Maybe.

“Knock, knock.”

I really wanted mommy and daddy to comfort me. So I awoke mommy first to see if she heard the knock too.

“Ughhhhh,” Mom mumbled as I attempted to wake her up, still half asleep. But she did open her eyes and looked around in their dark room for the source disturbing her slumber.

“Oh, honey,” Mom said to me. “What’s wrong? Why did you wake me up? It’s really dark outside right now. Did you have a really bad dream or something?”

“Mommy,” I responded. “I keep hearing a knock at our front door. Could you please go and see what it is?”

At that moment, however, the knocks ceased to stop. Almost as if mentioning the sound caused it to end.

Mom strained her ears, trying the best she could to hear the knocks I was hearing since I’d woken up. But since the knocks stopped, there was no sound. Only silence. As if the person at the other end of the door were mocking me.

Instead, however, I felt hope. Maybe the person went away, realizing how late of an hour they were knocking on our door and decided to leave us be and come back later?

But as Mom was telling me she couldn’t hear the knocks, they started back up once more. But they were even louder, more insistent this time.

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

I jumped again, shaking in fear, holding onto Mom with dear life.

“Honey, what’s wrong?” She asked me again. “Are you sure you just didn’t have a bad dream? I’m telling you I don’t hear this knock your talking about.”

I whimpered and continued shaking in response, continuing to hold onto her. The knocks continued and there was nothing I could do about it. I knew this wasn’t a dream and that I wouldn’t be waken up from it anytime soon. I just had to hope these scary knocks would seize and I’d be able to go back to sleep once more.

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

“Mommy,” I whimpered, hoping I could convince her to stop the source of the knocking because it was getting so loud I could feel the ground underneath me shaking.

“Are you sure you can’t go to the door and see who it is?” I asked, completely scared out of my mind.

Mother looked at my scared form with a sigh.

“Okay, fine honey,” Mom said. “I’ll go check the door then to see whose knocking. But once I do that and come back, promise me you’ll go back to sleep.”

I nodded my head in understanding, finding myself more comforted by Mom’s words of concern.

“Okay. Good girl honey,” Mom said as she patted my head. “I’ll be right back in a minute then and let you know if I see anything.”

I watched as Mother got out of bed and unattached herself out of my grip as she left the room. I still heard the knocks but was also able to hear Mom’s footfalls as she went to the other side of our house to answer the front door.

As she went towards the door, I heard the knocks stop and let out a breath of relief as I heard our front door swing open. The silence continued enough to where I could hear Mom’s voice from the room.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” I heard my mother say as she opened the front door.

But I didn’t hear anything more as I heard footsteps coming back to the room. I held my breath, not sure whether it was Mom coming back or something else.

However, Mom was fine. She came back and got into bed next to Dad. She then turned and looked at me in the darkened room.

“Honey,” Mom said with a sigh. “I checked outside and there was nobody there. I think you were just dreaming so just go back to sleep okay?”

I nodded my head in understanding because once Mom opened the front door all of the knocking stopped as if it never happened. As if the repetitive loud noise I kept hearing was all just a part of a dark dream.

“Okay, well goodnight honey,” Mother said to me in the silence as she got back into bed. She immediately settled herself comfortably in bed and went back to sleep, snoring very softly as if she were in a deep dream.

The knocking really is gone, isn’t it? I thought to myself as I slowly walked back to my room. Finding comfort that Mom had checked the front door and found nobody there, I settled back into bed. But just as I was getting comfortable, the knocking came back in full force. Just like it was when I first heard it.

“Knock, knock.”

“Knock, knock.”

I immediately sat back up in my bed. It definitely wasn’t my imagination at all. The knock was still there, no matter what Mom said.

I don’t know why the knock stopped when I mentioned it to Mom nor why nobody was there when she checked. But the knock was still there, just as persistent as last time.

I needed to find out what was making that loud noise. Nothing could stop me from investigating this noise.

“Knock, knock.”

“Knock, knock.”

The knocking continued as if daring me to adventure towards the source of the noise. It was dark out, but I was no longer afraid. I knew where I was going. I knew this knocking wasn’t all in my head. It was real and I wanted to know where it was coming from. So I’d do the best I could to find out.

I left my bed, treading carefully around the house so as not to arouse my sleeping parents. The darkness was growing more intense with each step I took, the knocks growing even louder the closer I got to the door.

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

I got more nervous with each step I took towards the door. I wanted so badly to turn around and go back to sleep in my room. To wake up the next day not remembering what happened and find comfort in the morning rays of the sunlight.

But I can’t. I’ve already made my decision and there’s no going back. As I head towards the front door, I nervously look around me one last time before I go to the door. The knocks as I go to the door are so loud I can feel the door shaking as I grab the handle.

But as I grab the front door, I notice something different about its appearance. Our front door is actually white in nature, recently painted. But the door standing before me is of a wooden hue, with black patterns decorating its frame. However, I still grab the door anyway because I want the knocks to cease.

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

“KNOCK, KNOCK!”

I slowly open the door as the shaking continues. And as I open the door, I find myself in a place far away from home where there’s no way for me to turn back.

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