Recently I started cranking out flash fiction, just for fun. This kind of thing is how writers sometimes relax; pulling together a short piece, usually around 1,400-1,500 words. Mine are all going up on Reddit, because Reddit’s a major thing for me when it comes to the internet. Also, there’s a fairly vibrant sub for Writing Prompts that is a pretty steady flow of ideas to run with. Find something that sparks my fingers to start typing, and about half an hour later, poof; finished flash fiction piece. I call them flash fiction because, to me, even a “short story” is going to be at least three or four thousand words. Your mileage may vary. Anyway, enjoy.
This one’s called One Good Day. The prompt was “a demon decides to focus on creating hope.”
I … kind of took it into a slightly darker place than the prompt probably envisioned.
“Oh my poor John,” Eisbeth said, closing the door behind her. She rushed across the chamber to the man who hung from the chains in the middle of the room. Blood ebbed and oozed from his most recent wounds, softening the scabs of older ones as it dripped down his torn flesh. He was breathing, but didn’t stir. Not even when she touched his arm on one of the few spots that wasn’t lacerated, bruised, or broken.
He didn’t move. She sighed and placed her hand on his forehead. Energy appeared, wispy and ethereal; surrounding her hand and his head both. As she concentrated, the flows of white and gold began submerging into the man’s skin. Probing deeper. Spreading out across his broken form as it hung from the chains. Finally he groaned.
His eyes fluttered open, and she smiled as they focused on her. Carefully she lowered her hand to his cheek. The energy began fading as he took a deep breath that shuddered with effort. And rattled around in his chest painfully.
“John? Hi, hello,” Eisbeth said, caressing his face. “Remember me?”
“Close enough,” she said, very carefully not shrugging.
“You need to … get out of here,” John wheezed. “Just run. Before they come back. They’ll take you. Torture you.”
“I’m here to help you,” she said.
“No … run.”
“Shhh, it’s fine,” she said, patting his cheek tenderly. “They’re busy with something else. I’m here to help.”
“I got in touch with your people. They’ll be coming to get you out. All you have to do is hold on. Can you do that for me? For them? Hold on a little longer?”
He blinked against a trickle of blood that was descending through one of his eyebrows. She smeared it away with her thumb, before it could start exploring his eye. “The Agency?” he asked.
“Yes, the Agency. They’re already on their way. It’ll just take them some doing to fight through the outer defenses. So, whatever these bastards do to you, just hang on a little longer. And everything will be okay.”
He nodded, the barest of movements; but she saw it. There was a glow of acknowledgement in his tired eyes as he met hers. “They won’t break me.”
“Good,” she nodded, then looked over her shoulder. “I’ve got to hide. Before they come back. So I’m ready to open the inner security layers up when your people are in position.”
“Go,” he said, sagging against the chains. But his eyes stayed open, like he was diverting most of his energy into them. Instead of his body. “Don’t worry about me.”
“Okay. Stay strong,” Eisbeth said, patting his cheek again. “I love you.”
“I love you.”
She walked around behind him. Her form shimmered abruptly, and by the time she walked through the wall like it wasn’t there her blonde hair and voluptuous curves had become brunette and a harder, leaner, slimmer body. In the hallway on the other side of the torture chamber, she straightened her beret and walked briskly until she reached a doorway that stood open.
“He’ll talk,” Eisbeth told the man who’d turned to her. He was the only one standing; everyone else present was seated around a table, studying a map. They all wore berets identical to hers, though that was the only uniformity in their attire. Which ranged from a mishmash of military fatigues to simple jeans and shirts.
She nodded. “I am. You might have to step up your efforts on him, maybe get really creatively cruel, but he’ll talk.”
“Good,” the man said, clenching his fist. “Then we’ll have the location of their headquarters, and can strike directly at them.”
“Power to the people,” Eisbeth said, clenching her own fist.
“Power to the people!” everyone in the room immediately echoed.
“One issue. He got a warning out, just before you captured him. You should step up your security and defense patrols, just in case his people come looking to retrieve him.”
“They will not penetrate this base unless they’re prepared to level the city.”
“I just thought you should know everything.”
“Good work,” the man told her with a nod.
“That’s why I take the tough ones,” she said, smiling. “Speaking of which, I need to return a call to the Sacramento cell. They’ve got a tough one of their own.”
“Go. We’re fine here.”
She nodded and left the room. In the hallway, she looked around, then closed her eyes. When she opened them, she was in a different hallway. Her clothing had changed to a crisp uniform, beribboned and hung with rank insignia. She straightened her name tag, then strode toward the nearest corner. Turning left, she walked down to a set of double doors at the end, guarded by a pair of identically uniformed guards. They nodded to her; one opening the doors.
“Major Ells,” a tall woman with four stars on her shoulder boards said after she turned and glanced at Eisbeth. “We’re ready to go in. Do you have a location for us?”
“It’s easier if I just mark it,” she said, gesturing at the big screen on the wall. “There are a number of checkpoints and hidden entrances that you’ll need to cover.”
“Please,” the general said, waving her arm at a console next to her.
Eisbeth leaned over the console, expertly manipulating the controls. The map on the big screen shifted, and zoomed in to encompass a smaller area. Icons began lighting on it; just under half of the actual entrances and checkpoints that guarded the rebels’ secured areas. She finally straightened and looked at the general. “Be prepared for heavy resistance. But if you move quickly, I think you should be able to take them by surprise. Before they realize they’re unprepared.”
“I have units standing by now. We’ll break that cell, and that’ll end the resistance in this entire sector. Good work Major.”
Eisbeth nodded and saluted. “I’d better get back, before they suspect I’ve left.”
The general nodded, turning to one of her aides. Eisbeth left the command center and walked around the corner. Once out of sight, she closed her eyes again. This time she opened them to a fire strewn landscape filled with wind swept wailing, bloody rocks, and open pits filled with shattered corpses. A trio of heavy winged demons stood looking into a roaring bonfire being stoked by a dozen enslaved souls; studying the images suspended in the flames.
All three demons turned, and they smiled. “Eisbeth. Is it ready?”
“It is. The resistance should become open war within the hour.” Her clothing had vanished, leaving only tightly folded leathery wings, ebony scales, and horns that had been carved with dozens of mystical symbols. She walked toward them, her hooved feet crunching across the bones of countless prior fallen mortals.
“Yes,” the shortest of the demons said, clenching his clawed fingers into a fist the size of a good sized dog. “Thousands of fresh souls to feed the forges.”
“And the Heavenly Hosts won’t know what hit them when we bring that power to bear upon then. Finally the stalemate will be shattered,” the second demon said, grinning toothily.
“Thank you Eisbeth.”
“Hail Satan,” she said bowing low.
“Leave us. Your task is complete.”
She nodded, and closed her eyes. When she opened them, she looked around at the vast expanse of white she now floated amid. Her heavy demonic form had softened to the gentler, less aggressive lines of a seraphim. Unfolding her wings, now feathered, she flew over to a particularly large cloud, and entered it.
“Hope, welcome,” a melodic male voice said as she passed through the cloud wall.
“Gabriel, it is done,” she said, alighting next to the cluster of angels. “They think the human conflict will grant them the power they need to break your defenses. But you must wait, giving them time to position themselves thinking there will be an advantage to seize. If you strike too soon, it will only lengthen the stalemate.”
Gabriel nodded, fingering the hilt of the sword hanging from his belt. “We will wait. But when they think themselves inviolate, the Host will end this war once and for all.”
“Then my part is done,” she said, bowing.
“Take your ease. You have done well.”
She smiled and floated out of the cloud, leaving the angelic war council to make their final plans. When she was outside in the sky, she teleported home and assumed her true form.
“Honey, is that you?”
“Yes,” she called, stretching her arms over her head. Here, in her own space, she didn’t have to posture and could assume the form she preferred. Which was a simple human woman, with comfortable casual clothes.
“Dinner’s almost ready. How was your day?”
“Pretty good,” Eisbeth said, padding barefoot toward the kitchen and the delicious smells emanating from it.
“You seem happy,” James said, turning as she rounded the corner. Her husband, a mortal she was foolishly fond of, was just setting a tray of lasagna on the counter, fresh from the oven.
“I had a very good day,” she said, stepping close enough to slip her arms around his shoulders. His went around her waist. She smiled as pressed herself against him, enjoying the contact. Simple pleasures were often the best, she’d found.
“Well, let’s just say the power off this should see you and me safely through the end of the century.” She could already feel all that building confidence, all that expectation of victory and success from the misled combatants, flooding into her. And the best was yet to come. Power and then some, more than enough for her purposes. “At least. Come on, let’s eat. That smells amazing.”