Was it a hard sentence to work with? I would think so, since it was pretty specific to our judge’s new book, A Line in the Ice, which has a sci-fi setting. But I loved that scene, and in a large part because of that line, within the context.
Hard or not, you guys pulled it off, as usual. Thanks again to our judge, Vivien Dean, who is one half of the writing team, Jamie Craig, @jamiecraig, for her efforts and for being so easy to work with. Don’t miss this Thursday’s post when they make a stop here on the blog as part of the Novel Publicity blog tour for A Line in the Ice.
But now: finalists.
Honorable mentions go to Jessica Olin, @olinj and Brian Cortijo, @briancortijo who would have been finalists if they’d begun their entry with the prompt sentence, rather than just including it within the entry. 🙁
Now, congrats to you all, congrats to everyone who participated! You can read the entries here and vote in the poll below until 8:55am Eastern tomorrow. At 9:00am I’ll announce the winner! Be here!
“You point it at a group of people and it’ll obliterate everything in its path.”
Karl was certain this was a put on. He looked at the kitten, a slightly wall-eyed tabby, as it started cleaning its face. “This thing?”
“Research and development has been at work for years on ‘this thing,’ Karl. It’s the latest in crow control technology.”
“Control?” Karl asked, horrified. “Obliteration isn’t control. It’s…it’s…it’s god damned obliteration. And anyway, this is a kitten!” Karl picked up the furball, which started purring from the moment he made contact. It snuggled into his arms and fell blissfully asleep. “How are people supposed to be afraid of this?”
Mitch recoiled. “For gods sake, don’t point that thing at me!”
Karl repositioned the kitten so his hands were under its front legs, and lifted it to eye level. “He’s a cute little guy. Does he have a name?”
The kitten mewled, and opened its eyes. They were yellow with thin black slits. Except. Karl looked deeper into them, and saw within the slits little pinpricks of light, light the stars in the night sky. He could feel a heat come from the kitten’s gaze, but couldn’t look away.
The kitten’s pupils dilated, and more of the abyss flooded Karl’s mind and vision. “It’s beautiful Mitch. I can see it all. It just goes on forever. It just goes on…”
Karl felt a small click in his mind, and was no longer aware of what he was. The kitten fell to the ground with a squeaky grunt, and immediately curled back up and fell asleep. Mitch could only watch, transfixed by what he’d just seen.
Those boys in R&D had outdone themselves this time.
“You point it at a group of people and it’ll obliterate everything in its path.” Diego explained.
“I thought it was illegal to handle and use those weapons, so how do you know?” Thomas asked as he eyed the small ball resting in Diego’s hand. The ball reminded Thomas of the Thermal Detonator that the Bounty Hunter threatened Jabba The Hutt with in Return of The Jedi.
“I found my grandfather’s diary talking about it.”
“And what did he call it in his diary? Little Ball of Boom?”
“No, dumb shit. He called it the most destructive weapon our species has ever seen.” Diego carefully put the ball back in to it’s velvet lined case. “Can you imagine what that weapon did to soldiers during the Civil War?”
“Yes, I can. It obliterated them. Which is why we have the monument of missing soldiers.” Thomas was grateful that Diego was no longer holding the weapon. “I want to know is how that technology was developed during a time when no one had electricity.”
“I didn’t read all of my grandfather’s journal. Maybe there is some clues in that about how this weapon ended up buried at a Civil War battle site.” Diego closed the box and carefully locked it. “Let’s go inside and read that journal.”
Thomas reluctantly followed Diego in to the house. Unsure if he wanted to know the answer.
“You point it at a group of people and it’ll obliterate everything in its path.” The mageware salesman smiled broadly as he held the wand out to the young man.
Jonuz gingerly took the rod of steel in his slender fingers, and was surprised at it’s warmth. But, he supposed he shouldn’t be. It was a fireball wand, after all. “How much?” The young mage, asked.
“Fifty gold talons.”
“Fifty???” Jonuz extended the wand back, and the salesman reluctantly took it, his smile only slipping slightly.
“Perhaps you are looking for something a bit more economical…” he placed the rod back on the shelf absently as his eyes scanned the many different instruments in his magic shop. He kneaded his short, tight beard between his beefy fingers, his eyes roving across the wall, occasionally landing back on Jonuz appraisiningly.
Jonus stood patiently, doing his best immitation of Master Denholdt, in his infinit patience and wisdom-laced gaze. Of course, he knew that the salesman could see right through the facade. It was plain as the newly-purchased robes about his slender frame that he was a neophyte. Just graduated from apprenticeship and given full Wizard status by the Guild.
Normally, Jonuz would not have even bothered to come in here. But, dammit, he was a wizard now. And if he planned to adventure with a party seeking fortune, he had better be prepared for whatever he could be. And that, in his mind, required a good, offensive wand. There were orcs and goblin aplenty, these days…
“Ah!” The salesman’s sudden oath startled Jouz from his musings. “I have just the thing.” The portly man retrieved a small, wooden wand from a lower shelf, and held it forth with the same reverence he had the fireball wand. “The Staff of Headstrumm. Said to have been used by the only pixie-wizard in history.” He smiled, as Jonuz took it, eyes alight with wonder. “None know it’s full capabilities, but an astute wizard like yourself should have no problem plumbing its secrets. And all for the meager price of a single gold talon.”
Jonuz thought for a moment, then sighed. This was it. He knew it. The best he could hope for was the staff of a miniature wizard, dead a thousand years. As he reached into his pocket for the gold talon, he absently handed it to the salesman, suddenly wishing to be done with all of this.
As he left the store, he whispered to the wand-like staff in his hand. “Please do more than just throw fart noises across the room.”
“You point it at a group of people and it’ll obliterate everything in its path.” Cal Heddinger laughed maniacally for effect, twitching as he threw his arm out, laser pointer gripped in his bony fingers.
The boys jumped and screamed. The copper bell above the door mimicked their panic when they shoved out onto the sidewalk, jumbling over each other in their haste to escape Cal’s sonic death ray. Well, the FAA certainly considered them so, but they were really just a tool for suits giving boring Powerpoint presentations.
“Scaring more little kids?” his wife asked, her hips sashaying side to side to like a great galleon. She’d been watching her soaps, probably, but she couldn’t resist checking out any loud noises in the showroom.
He grinned and nodded before setting the pointer back in the box. “I’m not sure what it says about rugrats these days that they’re so willing to believe that I can kill ‘em dead with a big of plastic and red light.”
“Count your blessings.” She shoehorned herself behind the counter, huffing out a soft sigh the second her ample buttocks hit the stool. “The day kids don’t believe is the day it all goes straight to hell.”
His shoulders rose and fell, just like his wife’s bosom as she breathed around her fat. Despite it all, he loved her still. Thirty years seemed like nothing and everything.
“Too bad we couldn’t have any of our own,” he said, his voice barely a whisper.
She smiled across the register and absently scratched at her neck. “Yeah, too bad.”
“You point it at a group of people and it’ll obliterate everything in its path.” A gleam of jubilant self-satisfaction shone across Doctor Bradbury’s dark brown eyes and a crooked smile formed as if it were his first such attempt. That’s what he had been hiding behind his cold stoic demeanor all these years. It made me sick.
I considered the ramifications of this– this device. I gulped for air. “And how many of these did you say you made?”
“Forty thousand thus far,” Bradbury said, “Fifty thousand by the end of the week, and after that a production capability of twenty thousand more each week thereafter.”
“With a capability of destroying–” the words caught in my throat. I was getting dizzy.
“Thousands,” the gleam came back to Bradbury’s eyes, “Hundreds of thousands in the right hands.”
“The right hands,” I said turning the device around in my hands. “The right hands.”
“Aren’t you pleased?” Bradbury said. “This will end the war.”
“No, Doctor,” I said pointing the device at his crooked smile. “I will end the war right now.”