S-Drive by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013


Hello Travelers,

If you’ve been reading my work thus far, thank you! Your continued readership means more than I can say. Double thank you to all who’ve commented routinely. If this is your first time reading my work, no worries, I love you too. This marks the end of my piece of Coffin Hop 2013, so I’ve decided to go out with a bang.

Today I bring you the opening to a novella I’ve written, and though it’s on the back burner, I do want to revise and publish it, so you won’t be seeing the full story here. In this, I managed to blend all my favorite themes- horror, science fiction, and psychology. You’ll see why I say that…

#

Jack Trelawney leaned against a crumbling brick wall, ignoring how the decades-old dust from the crumbling mortar stained his pea coat, and crossed his arms over his chest. Though he kept his ankles crossed and his head pointed toward the ground, pretending to fall asleep from how little he cared, his eyes darted from Zach Burns to Chuck Rawhide and back to the mouth of the alley in which they hid. He thought about their objective, his fingers gently brushing over the metal plate that covered the USB port embedded in his chest, and idly tapped it twice. Zach and Chuck caught sight of this and nudged each other, knowing their boss needed help coming to a resolution.

“Hey, boss,” Zach said, lumbering over. The man had a perpetual slouch, as if as if he had so much muscle that his skeleton could not support its weight. “Who’s this guy again?” He hoped a little Q&A might jar his boss into action.

“Marcus Smith,” Jack said, straightening up.

Zach’s companion glanced over. “But why do we want him again? For research or something? I thought we had enough test subjects.” While he was much more intelligent than Zach, Chuck had a copy of his personality. To be more accurate, they were both copies of some long forgotten person whose personality had been digitized and filed as ‘security personnel type B.’

A gust of wind shrieked to the alley, ripping at Jack’s coat. He smiled knowing that its sleeves covered the goose bumps that raced along his arms. Neither Zach nor Chuck would have questioned him if he showed weakness, but it still made him uncomfortable to know that he might react to things while they sat still, not appearing to have recognized that the wind had blown. Worse still was that the coldness, the way it seemed to penetrate right through to his heart. It was a constant reminder of the monolithic figure whose shadow he had always lived in and whose height he’d always aspired to reach.

Unbidden, his grandfather’s voice echoed in his head. I know you love him, but he will never understand this. He sold his soul long ago and is no longer capable of understanding what it means to love or have family. You need to live for yourself, not for him.

“That’s classified,” Jack said, shaking his head and levering himself off the wall. “Do you see him?”

“Uh, let me check.” Zach leaned out, then pulled back in and began to nod. Jack waved and they stepped out into the deep orange halo cast by the overhead streetlight. Jack looked at it briefly thought of how it looks like the harvest moon, something he hadn’t seen or even looked for since the night he had to say goodbye to the Melissa he loved several years earlier. He followed his escort team, listening to the clack of his dress shoes on the broken sidewalk echo down the deserted Boulevard.

“Marcus Smith?” Jack’s voice was a little sharper, a little colder than he intended for it to be. Maybe it is just nerves, or maybe he was jealous of the smiling man strolling down the street.

“Jack Trelawney? What are you doing out here?” Marcus began to shake as Jack moved behind him. The trio closing in, causing him to press his back against the front of the boarded up toy shop.

“Nothing much, I just been thinking about the Jericho group and all you’ve done to fight my father’s company over the past few months.” Jack remove something sleek and black from his pocket. It only weighed a few ounces, but it was the heaviest thing he’d ever held, as the weight of all that had ever been done with it was dragging it down into the earth. Or maybe straight into hell.

“Yeah, why? So what?” He lowered his hands, flexing them as his voice steadied.

Jack forced his face to grin despite how unnatural it felt. “It doesn’t matter. What matters is why you’ve done all this work for so many people.”

“Why I help those who you’ve destroyed? I don’t follow – do you have something against those who do what’s right because it’s the right thing to do?”

“That’s just it, Mr. Smith. You work for those who can’t defend themselves — for those who you claim have been destroyed by Personex technologies. For those people who willingly and knowingly abused an otherwise safe process, isn’t that right?” Zach looked at Chuck and began guffawing, but was cut off by a sharp look from Jack, who then closed in on Marcus.  His right hand began to shake so he dug the nails of his left hand into his palm.

“That isn’t quite how I’d phrase him it, but yeah, that’s my goal: to seek restitution for everyone damaged by Personex industries him. What of it? What do you want from me?”

“What do I want?” It was the first time anyone had ever asked him that before, and for an instant, he’d almost forgotten what he was doing there in the first place. He heard his grandfather’s voice in his head again. I know you can be a good person. Promise me you’ll be one someday.

Jack shook his head and bit back a sudden sting of tears. Marcus opened his mouth to question him again but Jack stepped forward and, with the soft snick of a blade, sliced away the fabric of Marcus shirt, leaving a thin red line across his chest. Marcus was too surprised to feel the pain and realized too late that his assailant had plunged a Drive into the USB port in his chest. It began to hum as Jack pressed the download button, leeching out Marcus’s personality. The thin black strip was soon filled with glowing bluish white light while Marcus his left with a cold desolation that seemed to radiate further with every pulse of his shuddering heart. Unable to fight the process, he sank to his knees as he gradually stopped noticing the cold air around him, the screaming gale that rushed between the buildings, and the fact that he was being attacked. Soon he was no more afraid of the men in front of him as a fish is afraid of water. There was nothing left of him but memory, a name, and organs. A human in theory but not an application.

Jack remove the Drive from Marcus his chest. “Thank you for your donation to Personex Industries. I’ll be sure to put your personality to good use.” The trio walked away, but Jack stole one last glance at the man they were leaving behind, the scraps of his torn shirt blowing in the wind.

***

Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

Ashes to Ashes by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013


Hello Travelers,

This story is far too long to have posted here; it simply wouldn’t have been fair to you or the other Hoppers to expect you to read it. I’ll clue you in to the fact that this is an apocalyptic piece with some obvious subgenre work going on. Enjoy, my friends…

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Dr. Calvin Dent rested his chin on his elbow and stared through the window at the front of Marie’s Coffee Emporium. It was a quaint little shop known for serving half-priced drinks to college students and weekly poetry slams, affordable and atmospheric, but not so much so that it would seem cheap or overpowering.

He watched vehicle after vehicle pass by without so much as slowing, then bit his lip and whipped out his phone. It was 9:20 in the morning, an early time for her, so she was probably running late. More importantly, it was her, so she might not show up at all.

Then she did. Jewel Alvarez stepped out of a beaten-up taxi and onto the cracked sidewalk. It had been two years, but he’d recognize her anywhere. Her light brown hair was stacked in a bun, but she’d left just enough free to frame her angular face. She had sunglasses on, even though the coffee shop’s side of the street was shaded. Though now into her mid-thirties, her body retained the lithe shape she’d developed in her youth, partially because she was athletic but also because she would often get so wrapped up in her work that she’d forget to eat. Jewel was the type of girl some men spent their lives dying for: shapely, exotic and out of their league.

Calvin enviously wished he could say the same. Though not particularly heavy, he had no muscle to speak of. His skin had a pasty hue from having spent the majority of his life inside. Add glasses to the mix and you’ve got the spitting image of a man whose mind was his greatest- and only- weapon. He wore a light jacket over a long-sleeved shirt, despite the temperate weather. No one had any idea how he’d managed to wind up with Jewel in the first place- he was almost certain he couldn’t pull that trick off a second time, but he was ready to try.

The tinkling of a bell announced her entry. She spied him and walked over. Jewel was dressed in her signature paint-stained jeans and a black t-shirt. Calvin had already pulled her chair out prior to her arrival. She smiled and removed her sunglasses as she sat across from him.

“Hello, Calvin.” Her voice was by no means melodious, but he could listen to it for hours.

“Hi, Jewel.” He realized with abject horror that he had no idea how to conduct such a meeting and fumbled for something to say.

“Thanks for the coffee,” she said, wrapping her hands around the steaming cup in front of her.

“N-no problem,” he chuckled nervously. “Do you still take it the same way you used to?” He paused, then stammered, “No! I mean, take your coffee? Do you like, you know, two creams, one sugar, in your drink, like before?”

She laughed as he blushed. “Yes, I still like it just like I used to.”

“Oh, good!” He breathed a sigh of relief. “Some things never change, huh?”

They stared at each other for a dangerous minute. For a moment, Calvin was sure she’d get up and walk off. He’d come on too strong, he was sure of it. He hadn’t meant to, but some things just slip out. Then again, she wouldn’t have met with him if she didn’t have SOME kind of feeling for him, right? But even so-

“Yeah, some things don’t.” Her voice was almost quiet enough to hide her feelings- but not quiet enough. “…I’m… glad you called, Calvin.”

He gave a half-smile. “I am too. …I guess I have trouble letting go, huh?”

“Sometimes, it’s ok to not let go,” She laid her hand on his, her thumb gently stroking the top of his palm. “How’s work been going?”

“It’s… oh, you know… space. It doesn’t change much, so… Well, actually, the sun has been giving off some strange readings lately, but we’re not sure what they mean yet.”

“Really?” She arched her brow and, to his shock, seemed genuinely interested. “I’d love to hear more.”

“I’d love to tell you,” he stared into the pools of amber and, like a prehistoric mosquito, found himself trapped by their depths. “How… is work, for you?” he managed to whisper. Her perfect lips curved up in an all-too-recognizable expression. Whenever something really, seriously great was happening, her face would inexorably shift to show off an impish grin.

“I’ve actually published two books: my first is on painting with ash, the second is on the human body as a canvas for artistic expression.”

“Painting with ash?” he tilted his head.

“Ash is… often overlooked. It is uniquely beautiful; it’s the remains of something that has perished in flame, but isn’t really a symbol of destruction. It’s a symbol of making way for something new, something greater, that will soon come to be. It’s like with forest fires; those fires only occur so new life can spring up in their wake.”

***

Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!

Better than Ever by @AlexChaseWriter @CoffinHop 2013


Hello Travelers,

For this one, I won’t tell you when I wrote it. Those who know my writing well enough should have an advantage, but let’s see if you can guess in the comment section. I’ll confirm soon enough who’s right… but until then, enjoy this most recent tale.

#

Vincent checked Penelope’s restraints, ensuring she wouldn’t thrash about and hurt herself. She was nude, but didn’t seem to mind. A fierceness radiated from her though it was a stark contrast to her withered, pale body.

“This process is going to hurt, do you understand that?”

She shot him a glare. “I know. I’m willing to take that risk. The benefits…”

“I know, they are tempting, but if you have even the slightest doubt, the entire process could fail.”

“Tempting?” She laughed, “don’t sell yourself short… you… if what you said is true, then you could turn a sick little wretch like me into a god.”

“You wouldn’t be a god, Penelope,” he chided, “and if successful you must take care not to let your superior state inflate your ego.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not the type to go power-crazy. I was a CEO in a Fortune 500 company before my final diagnosis, remember?”

“Yes, I’ve seen your file. That’s why I chose you.”

“Because I was a CEO? Isn’t that elitist?” She chuckled, “like I care either way.”

“No, because you have such a conglomerate of conditions that to heal them all through this process would be undeniable proof of its success. Now, if you don’t mind, we must get started.”

“Go ahead, Professor.”

Vincent stepped out of the test chamber and made his way to the sealed monitoring room. It had a wide, shatter-proof window through which he could observe the entire process. He began flipping a few switches. After his computer began displaying Penelope’s vitals, he pressed a nearby button.

The ceiling opened up, metal pieces separating and revealing a device the size of a small car. It was adorned with a series of lasers mean to manipulate her body on a genetic level.

The smaller lasers emitted a variety of colors that began etching their way across her skin. Her heart began to race as she began to twitch and contort herself. Other monitors showed Penelope in closer detail. Her mouth was set in a hard line; sweat broke out upon her brow.

Even if she hadn’t been moving, it would have been easy to see the changes her body was going through. Muscle began to bulge and return to a healthy size. Her skin blushed. Her mouth was no longer a white line but plump and pink. Vincent thumbed through her file to a picture from 2006, before she began her chemotherapy. Penelope was beginning to look like that young, healthy self again.

Seeing the machine was reaching the peak of the alterations, he reached over and flicked two adjacent switches.

Three scythe-like portions extended down from the center of the machine. A thin tube emerged from the center of these blades as they began to spin. They began whirling, making a circle above Penelope. Thin blue arcs of electricity began dancing between the blades and the main portion of the machine.

A brilliant white ray shot from the center tube and down into Penelope’s abdomen.

Penelope screamed, thrashing against her bonds. “Let me out! What are you doing to me?” Her agony reverberated off the steel walls, prompting Vincent to look with more care at the monitors.

Penelope’s muscles were seething and shaking beneath her skin. They were twice the size they’d been a few moments ago. Her skin was beginning to tear apart, blood spurting from the open wounds. The more delicate microphones could register her bones breaking beneath the strain of her growth.

Vincent began cursing himself for not building an emergency deactivation protocol. There was nothing he could do. He watched as bone spurs grew through her body, jutting out from her torso, her limbs, even her neck. Blood poured down her arms and legs. Penelope struggled to free herself, managing to slip her hands from her bonds, but she had grown at such a rate that she couldn’t

She was steadily growing taller, but Vincent knew this could not last. Her chest began breaking open, her ribs parting to expose her racing heart. Vincent blanched as her heart burst, showering the machine in blood. She reached up towards the racing machine, shaking as the remainder of her blood gushed to the ground.

The spinning blades dug into her tormented flesh, tearing it to ribbons. It pulled her entire body off of the table, shredding it and flinging the pieces across the room. Her skull was thrown into the observation window with such force that a series of thin cracks twisted away from the impact.

Vincent gaped, eyes wide as the shrill whine of the heart rate monitor rubbed in the atrocity he’d committed. His hands experienced violent tremors as he reached for some nearby switches. He deactivated his monitors and sent the machine back into its storage area in the ceiling.

With the whine silenced, Vincent noticed the slithering. It was a thin, fleshy sound that made his skin crawl. Looking about the test chamber, he saw every individual scrap of scattered flesh forcing their way up a wall and into an air vent. He turned and raced for the door. Bleeding scraps of muscle had clamped the door shut.

Vincent fell back against his machines as Penelope reassembled in front of him. Torn muscle clung to severed sinews. Her organs were missing; it was easy to see this, as Penelope’s skin had been left behind. He had a growing realization that she didn’t need her skin anymore.

The macabre woman glided towards Vincent, reaching out her hand. It extended from her body, stretching across the room to caress his face. As she did this, he felt her force the hand down his throat and begin to tear him apart from the inside. He gagged as he felt her acidic flesh sliding across his tongue.

Vincent stared into her bulging eyes during his last moment. A lipless smile danced across Penelope’s face. “What did you say about not becoming a God?”

***

Walk with me from October 24-31 as I post some of my work in honor of Coffin Hop 2013. Some of this is quite old, some of it not–guess which is which, Traveler. Perhaps a right answer will earn a stroke of fortune for you…

For this tour, I’ll be giving away one signed anthology in which a story of mine has been featured. Which anthology is up to the winner. Keep in mind, I reserve the right to award additional gifts as per Coffin Hop rules. Who knows–if I get a lot of hits, you might see a lot of rewards in the future. Be sure to click the badge at the side of my page and visit the other Hoppers!