At the Office

Bob was walking down the hallway to his office when he heard a raised voice coming from one of the other offices. He listened for a second to figure out which office it was before he stuck his head in. The office belonged to a man named Tom. Though Bob found Tom to be a little odd, he thought he was a good guy and wanted to help if he could.

At first glance, however, he noticed that something wasn’t right. There was nobody else in the room with Tom. The light was off on the office phone, so he wasn’t using that, and Tom didn’t have a Bluetooth earpiece that he could be talking into. So, who was he talking to?

It wasn’t the first time he’d caught Tom talking to himself, but it was the loudest he’d been while doing it. The frequency of them had been rising too. This was probably the third time in the past couple of weeks it’s happened. Usually, it was in the break room, though.

“Everything all right?” Bob asked the agitated man.

Tom slowly turned his head until he was looking at Bob out of one eye over his shoulder. It was eerie, sending a chill up Bob’s spine. “Everything is fine,” Tom answered after a few seconds. “I’m just trying to work something out and it helps to hear it out loud.”

Bob relaxed a little. It was an explanation that made at least some sense. Still, he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the way Tom was looking at him. He thought it best to just walk away and let Tom deal with whatever the problem was on his own. “Ok. I hope you get it figured out.” Bob should have left it there, but he inexplicably added, “Let me know if I can do anything to help.”

Bob cursed himself for saying that. Why had he said it? He certainly didn’t want to help Tom. Sure enough, as soon as he turned to leave he heard Tom say, “You know what? I probably could use some help.”

Bob rolled his eyes before whipping back around with a fake smile. “Sure, buddy, what are you working on?”

“No!” Tom screamed.

“No? No what? Do you want my help or not?”

A wicked grin slowly worked its way onto Tom’s face. “He knows.”

The whole thing was starting to irritate Bob. Tom was acting crazy and he still had that uneasy feeling that he’d gotten when he first entered the room. “Stop playing around,” Bob snapped. “I don’t have time for this. I’ve got other work to do.”

Bob stepped toward the door only to have it slam in his face. He jumped. The door had shut by itself. “How did you do that?” he demanded.

Tom took a step closer, the grin still on his face. “He knows,” Tom repeated.

“I don’t know anything,” Bob countered, taking a step back.

“You’re not allowed to know. You must be punished.”

Before he could ask what the punishment was, a shadow flew from out of Tom and hit Bob squarely in the chest. The force of the impact threw Bob backwards into the door. Wood shattered when he hit and the door blew apart. When Bob landed, he had a burning sensation in his chest. His heart pumped faster and faster until it felt like it was going to explode.

Then, it did.

Bob’s head lulled to the side as his last breath left his body.

Tom shook his head, wondering why he was at work. The last thing he remembered was opening the door at his apartment for the pizza delivery man. He took out his phone to see what time it was, and was shocked by what he saw. Not the time, but the date. According to his phone, it was a week later than he thought it should be.

All of that flew out of his mind when he looked up and saw Bob laying in the middle of the hallway, surrounded by pieces of the broken door. “Oh my God,” he said as he rushed to Bob’s side. “Are you ok?”

Tom breathed a sigh of relief when Bob started moving. His relief was short-lived when Bob grabbed his arm and tried to bite it. Luckily, he managed to pull his arm free before the teeth clamped down. Tom jumped back and shouted, “What the hell, man?”

When Bob started moving after him, Tom saw that something was very wrong. Bob’s movements were clunky. It was Bob’s eyes that made him cringe, though. They were completely dead and, while he could’ve been imagining things, Tom would’ve sworn he saw a black shadow pass briefly over them. Tom backed away as Bob started to crawl towards him.

“B…br…bra…” Bob stuttered before finally finishing the word. “Brains…”

Tom turned and ran.

Fantasy Football Part 7

“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

This was only the second morning he’d had to deal with it, but Plex already hated the cylindrical contraption that his coach used to amplify his voice. He wasn’t sure how long he would be on this team. At the end of that time, though, he vowed that he would destroy that annoying thing. When combined with Coach Sprout’s high pitched voice, it gave him an instant headache.

It didn’t help that Plex was tired. He had spent a long night trying to get to know his new teammates while they ate. While he walked among them, he noticed that they had three extra players on their team. Originally, they were told that each team was to have a fifty-three person roster, just like the teams on the realm in which this sport originated. Plex counted fifty-six players. He assumed that it was done that way to keep the number of players from each race even. Sure enough, after counting, he found that there were seven players from each race on his team.

Plex also noticed that despite the bonding experience they shared at their previous meal, the majority of his teammates had reverted back to sitting with those of their own race. There were a few mixed groups, the offensive line all sat together, but most of them stuck with their own kind. Plex made his way from group to group with mixed success.
The gnomes and the rest of the elves were incredibly nice to him, though he suspected that the gnomes were just happy that someone from a higher ranking race was acknowledging them. Kalant left when he saw Plex approaching, but the rest of the dwarves were cordial with him. The minotaurs, trolls, and ogres weren’t nice to him, but they were respectful. In particular, the minotaurs were only concerned about with winning and they thought that Plex as quarterback gave them the best chance of doing that.

Orcs, however, were another matter. Continue reading

Fantasy Football Part 5

Plex and the offense ran the running play after their coach left the huddle. His new dwarven acquaintance Kalant, playing with the second string defense, came in and stopped the running back for no gain. Coach Sprout came in and made a few slight changes, shifting the play’s direction from the right to the left and making it an outside pitch instead of an inside handoff. When they ran that play, Kalant once again stopped it for little gain.

He shook his head at the dwarf’s uncanny ability to sniff out the running plays. Plex wanted to question Coach Sprout about the wisdom of putting Kalant on the second string defense. He didn’t want to openly criticize one of the coach’s decisions, though. Perhaps later, when they were alone, he’d ask about it. Instead, he listened to the coach describe the passing play he wanted them to run.

The center snapped the ball to him as he started the play in the shotgun position. He surveyed the field. Both receivers to his left were covered fairly well. His eyes snapped over to the rightt, but stopped in the middle of the field. Traag, his ogre tight end, was wide open after running right past Kalant. Plex threw the ball and hit Traag in stride. The dwarf caught up to the ogre, tackling him from behind.

Counting it off the hashmarks on the field, he saw that they had gained thirty-two yards on that play. He pumped his fist and exchanged high fives with a few of his offensive lineman. They moved down to the new line of scrimmage. Their coach ran down the field to relay their new play to them in the huddle. Plex rolled his eyes at this tactic. He couldn’t wait until they knew the plays well enough to just get the signals from the sideline.

The next few plays were almost exactly like the first ones. They ran twice with Kalant stuffing the plays both times. Then, on third down, they passed. Plex hit Traag on another deep route after the dwarf misplayed his pass coverage assignment. This time, Traag managed to evade the dwarf’s tackle attempt and made it into the open field. A couple of defenders had a chance to tackle him, but Traag bowled one over and used a stiff arm to perfection.

Touchdown.

Plex jumped up into the arms of his closest offensive lineman, a troll named Chear. He and the rest of the offense congratulated each other as they walked over to the sideline. When he got there, he looked across the field and saw that Kalant was staring at him. From the look on the dwarf’s face, it was clear that he wasn’t happy with Plex at the moment. Plex felt bad for making Kalant look bad, but he had an obligation to the rest of the team to do his best to get them ready for tomorrow’s game. He wasn’t going to sacrifice his offense’s cohesion just to spare the dwarf’s feelings.

The first string special teams unit went onto the field and after even more instruction from Coach Sprout and the special teams coach, the whistle was blown and the point after attempt was made. There was more fanfare from the first string offense and then directions were reversed and the first string kicker launched a ball down the field to the second string.

As the plays went on, with the second string doing a decent job of moving the ball down the field, Coach Sprout interrupted less and less. It seemed like the players were getting the hang of what he wanted to see. It helped that he kept repeating the same plays. As with the first string, the second string wasn’t having much success with running plays but were finding open players downfield to connect with and pick up some yards.

Plex found that interesting. Why were the defenses better at stopping the running game? They were all tall and fast. They shouldn’t have a problem keeping up with the wide receivers and disrupting passes. Yet, time after time, the second string quarterback converted a pass on third down until he too managed to get a touchdown.
After their kicker tied the game, Coach Sprout blew his whistle and called everyone over to him at the sideline.

“Great job, everyone. As you may have noticed, I was focusing on just a few plays there and just working with the offense. Quarterbacks, I want you to run those same plays again, and this time I’m going to work with the defenses and see if we can figure out how to keep some of those passes from turning into completion.”

Plex didn’t want to question what his coach was doing but he had to ask, “Why are we only running these plays? If we do that in a real game, the other team will surely figure out how to stop us and then we won’t have practiced anything else to beat them with.”

The gnome once again flashed his knowing smile and responded, “The day is still young, Plex. We are starting small. You’ve run these plays only a couple times and already you’ve got them memorized. That’s great. Now I can call these plays from the sidelines. Each string will get one more run out while I work with the defense and then the next time through I will be calling new plays.”

The elf blushed. The answer was so obvious now that Coach Sprout had said it he was embarrassed he hadn’t been able to keep his mouth under control. He needed to work on that. It sure was seeming like the gnome had an answer for everything. Coach Sprout was certainly more organized than the elven coach had been before the teams had been split up.

Coach Sprout looked around and asked, “Any other questions?”

Plex saw Kalant flash a glare towards the gnome but the dwarf said nothing. None of the other teammates seemed interested in asking anything after they’d seen Plex get embarrassed.

“Great, let’s get back to it. Second string get out there and kick this thing off.”

The teams ran back onto the field and lined up. Coach Sprout blew his whistle and the second string kicker sent the ball flaying across where it was snatched out of the air by the first string running back on the eight yard line. The running back darted forward, angling towards the sideline. A pair of trolls and a dwarf provided cover and then the running back was off, eating up the yards until an elf managed to catch up to him, tackling the runner near the fifty yard line.
Plex pulled his helmet on and trotted onto the field.

They ran through the same process as the first drive. This time, the defense was a little stiffer against the pass. Plex and the offense still managed to punch the ball in for a touchdown. A few of his teammates were a little frustrated at the extra work it took to score that time, but Plex took it as a good sign. It meant that the defense was getting better. The better their defense was, the better their chances at winning the games.

He ran over to the sideline with the rest of the offense. While the second string offense went up against the first string defense, Plex started running over the plays with his teammates. By the time the scrimmage was over, he was confident that they had all of these first plays down pat. He was going to suggest that they go back to having the receivers run routes with him, to continue building a rapport with him, but the coach’s whistle stopped that idea before it began.

“Gather around,” Coach Sprout yelled through his cone shaped contraption.

The players did what he asked, although the minotaurs did so at a much slower pace than the rest. It was clear that they still didn’t like that they were being forced to take orders from someone they considered a far inferior being. If Coach Sprout noticed the slight, he didn’t acknowledge it. Plex gave the gnome credit for that. If their roles were reversed, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep himself from being irritated at their actions.

When they had all finally circled their diminutive coach, Sprout smiled. “That was a good practice, ladies and gentlemen. While there are still a lot of things that we need to clean up before this season is over, I feel like we took a few good strides forward today. If we keep working as hard as we did today, I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll win this whole thing.

“For now, we’re going to break into groups and do a few sets of cooldown exercises. Once we’re done with those, the cooks will begin dinner and you’ll have the rest of the night to rest your bodies. Along with your meals, the cooks will be handing you the updated version of the playbook. While you’re resting, you need to be studying these new plays. I don’t expect you to have the whole thing memorized by the time the game starts tomorrow, but the quicker you learn them, the better off we’ll be.

“That’s all. Have a good night, guys. If any of you want to talk to me about anything, my tent is always open.”

The team began to disperse. Plex asked some of his teammates if they wanted to practice some more on their own. A few agreed, but most laughed at him. There weren’t enough willing to participate to make the extra practice worth it, so Plex just dropped it. The others began making their way towards the cooks, but the lines were too long. He decided to let the lines die down before he went up there.

Plex grabbed a ball off the ground and launched it at the goal post. Just as the ball pinged off the pole, just where he had aimed it, the air exploded out of his lungs. He wasn’t sure what had just happened, but he found himself on the ground with a sharp pain in his chest. Above him stood Kalant, looking down angrily at him.

“You think you can make me look like a fool and not pay the price for it?”

Fantasy Football Part 3

Here is the next installment of the blog hopping story by Matticus and myself. Sorry it took so long to get it to you. There was a delay caused by a miscommunication between us. There’s no point in assigning blame (it was actually my fault, but since this is my blog, I’m still going to say it was his). Let’s just sit back, relax and enjoy Part 3.

***** ***** *****

“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

Plex jumped up reaching for a sword. The voice was so loud, and so insistent, that he thought they were under attack. When he was awake enough to take in his surroundings, he realized that he was in his team’s training encampment. It was his new coach who had awakened him. His coach was yelling into some cone shaped contraption that somehow amplified his voice.

A quick glance around showed that none of his teammates appreciated the wake up call, especially since it was still dark outside. Many of them appeared like they were going to protest this intrusion, but Plex doubted that it would come to that. The vision of what the dragon did to the minotaur when he complained was still fresh in their minds. They might grumble under their breaths, but they wouldn’t voice their displeasure out loud. They didn’t want to be Lavalandinarial’s next meal. Continue reading

The Return of Captain Procrastination?

He looked over the paper in front of him and sighed. Being the mayor was not something he’d ever envisioned for himself. The only reason he had the job is because the last mayor was killed by a crime lord who called himself The Boss.
Despite the unimaginative name, The Boss had successfully taken over the city’s underworld after the death of its costumed superhero, Captain Procrastination. The city’s lame replacement hero, DICO, managed to score a couple of minor victories against The Boss, but he disappeared after the mayor was killed while under his protection (for the full story of DICO’s disappearance, please see his new story arc… that I haven’t written yet).
“Excuse me, Mr. Mayor.”
The voice from behind made him jump. He turned to see a figure standing in front of his office window, but the glare from the sun blocked his full view. All he saw was the outline of a head and a body wearing the costume of…
“Captain Procrastination,” he breathed in disbelief.
The mayor rolled his chair to the side to get out of the glare and got his first real glimpse of the person standing there. It was clearly not Captain Procrastination. “You’re not him,” the mayor said.
“I’m not the original, no. I’m the new one, and I’m better.”
“Oh really?” he asked, playing along with the clown dressed in the Captain Procrastination costume. “The first one was super fast. Can you do that?”
“No.”
“Then what’s your superpower?”
“I look good in tights.”
While the mayor had to admit that the man had the body for the outfit, he didn’t have time, nor the inclination, to keep the charade up. “That’s not a superpower.”
“When you look this good, it is.”
“Get out of my office. And how did you get in here? The door is on the other side of the room.”
“Captain Procrastination away!”
The mayor watched in confusion as the man in the costume jumped out the window. When he heard the sound of the man landing on metal, he remembered that there was a fire escape outside. “Captain Procrastination” ran down the stairs with his arms out in front of him, making an airplane noise with his mouth as he went. The mayor shook his head, closed the window, sat back down, and went back to work reviewing the documents, hoping to never see that idiot again.

Fantasy Football Part 1

Hey everyone! A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (yet still kinda close), Matticus and I did a story called Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom. We both wrote on each part and then rotated on whose blog the next part would be published on. Well, we’re doing a new one. This is just the first part of our new blog hopping story. The next part will be published over at The Matticus Kingdom

We hope you’ll enjoy it.

—————————————————————————————————————————

The ball felt good leaving his hand. He watched as it flew through the air in a nice, tight spiral. Accuracy was the only question now. It was aimed correctly, but did he judge the distance correctly?

His receiver’s hands wrapped around the ball mid-flight. It was placed perfectly. Two feet touched down, in bounds, as the receiver fell out of the back of the endzone. He pumped his fist. Touchdown!

The whistle blew and it was followed quickly by his coach saying, “Good job, Marapleksian.” After a pause, the coach turned to the sideline and hollered, “Backups, it’s your turn.”

He ran off the field, shaking his head at his coach’s insistence on using his whole name. Everybody else just called him Plex. Even his traditionalist parents had relented and began calling him the shortened middle part of his name. They didn’t like it, but hearing his friends call him that for 123 years finally wore them down.  Continue reading

What’s Inside

His alarm went off, signaling the start of another day he would spend at work. He brushed the loose strands of his light brown hair away from his eyes before opening them. If he were being honest, he’d admit that he didn’t like his hair being long enough to fall into his eyes, but the longer hair seemed to be more popular with the ladies. That’s the only reason he kept it.

He rolled over to the edge of the bed and sat up. A yawn escaped as he cursed his lack of sleep. Not only had he been up late putting his hair to good use last night, but what little sleep he did get was fitful. He tossed and turned. While he sleeps, his mind bombards him with images and memories of the times he’s been hurt. And the times that he’s been the one hurting another. Those are the moments that haunt him the most.

Lately, those feelings of hurt had escaped from his dreams and they started attacking him throughout the day. Whiskey and women helped push the feelings away, but they were a temporary fix. Once his bed was empty, or his sobriety returned, the feelings would come back to try to break him down. If things stayed the way they were, his breaking point would come soon.

“It’s too early in the morning for this shit,” he mumbled to himself as he stood up.

He walked into his bathroom and turned the cold water on in the sink. Cupping his hands, he splashed some of the water on his face before looking at himself in the mirror. The water on his hands wet his hair, which pulled back as he ran his fingers through it. Red ran through the whites of his green eyes. Stubble covered his dimpled chin. He needed to shave, but didn’t feel like it. A little bit of growth on his face for a day wouldn’t kill him.

As that thought ran through his mind, his reflection in the mirror smiled. He jumped. That shouldn’t be possible. He hadn’t smiled. Only his reflection did.

A nervous chuckle escaped his lips. I’m just imagining things, he thought. It’s just a manifestation of too much to drink and not enough sleep.

He splashed another handful of water on his face, hoping the cold liquid would wake him from whatever stupor he was in. After staring at his face in the mirror for a minute straight, waiting to see if something else would happen, nothing did. He wrote it off as his mind playing tricks on him. That’s when he got the most excruciating headache he had ever felt. His brain felt like it was on fire.

He grabbed at his head and cried out in pain. His body thrashed about uncontrollably. Tears formed in the corners of his eyes and threatened to block his vision. Somehow, through all of that, he saw what had started this whole thing in the first place. His reflection in the mirror didn’t match his movements.

While he writhed in pain, his reflection stood motionless, with its arms crossed, as if bored by the whole display. He tried to hold still long enough to get a better look at it, but he couldn’t. His body wasn’t responding to his commands. The pain was too much.

To his surprise, and horror, his reflection moved. Its hands shot out of the mirror and grabbed him on either side of his face. “Be still,” his reflection ordered.

His uncontrollable body responded to the demand instantly. “What are you?” he asked when he finally found his voice.

The reflection laughed. It began changing in front of his eyes. He watched as it kept growing darker and darker until it was devoid of all color and light. His reflection was nothing more than a human shaped area of blackness. It laughed even harder as a chill of fear rolled down his spine.

“You wish to know what I am?” it purred. “Then I shall tell you. I am every hurt you’ve ever felt. I am every hurt you’ve ever given. I am every fear that has shaken your soul or has come from your actions. I am your every wrong. I am the part of you that you don’t wish the world to see.”

“What?”

“I’ll simplify it for you. You know how everyone has inner demons that they wrestle with?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, your inner demon isn’t very ‘inner’ anymore.”

Before he could ask what that meant, the dark form lunged at him. Right when it looked like it would hit the mirror, it disappeared. The hands holding his face went away too. Then he felt a thud in his chest and couldn’t breathe. It suddenly felt like he was drowning. He fell backward, the blackness that made up his reflection pouring out of his mouth and nose.

The impact with the ground made him see stars. A black shape appeared in his blurred vision. “Thank you for birthing me,” it said. “Thank you for feeding me and making me so strong.” It paused. “Unfortunately for you, you’ve made me strong enough that I don’t need you anymore.”

The last thing he saw was a surge of blackness coming for him.