• Jabe Stafford

The Emberskin Killer

A whole world on a single page!

The short story morsels of One Page Worlds are flash fiction adventures of all flavors. Every Wednesday will feature a complete story in one page, or the first page of what could be a novel or novelette.

Sharing the fun and geekery is the best part of writing! Please tweet or comment with your guesses on what genre, character, and job is central to each tale. Enjoy touring new universes each week with One Page Worlds!

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Another pair of eyes in the crowded street slid off his hooded form and he grinned.

Men in hooded clothes at night got dismissed. Ignored as part of the urban habitat.

Charred flesh filled his nostrils in anticipation. Any minute now and he’d smell it again. The proof of how right he was, and how wrong they’d always been. They were here for his use.

Embers coated his left palm, pulsing orange and ashen. He kept the hand and the wavering heat inches from the brick wall of the Midveil Fitness Center. Above the doors, its well-kept plastic sign showed buff stick figures in front of Midveil’s half-crooked Skyline. The air-bound leylines lit the city with a mystic, dim illumination. They were better sources for light, fuel, and magic than last decade’s streetlights.

Still not enough for pedestrians to give a damn about hooded figures in the dark.

“They caught The Emberskin Killer,” said an employee in a tight polo shirt as she shoved the doors open. Evelyn. Her husky voice. The over-muscled body, backlit by the cone of light from within, would prove him right for the final time.

They should have known what their behavior would lead to.

Evelyn clomped down the sidewalk, gabbing into a smartphone. Dust devils danced between diners and shops, swallowing her voice whole.

He slipped between parked ley-cars and crept closer.

“I’m leaving sparring practice,” Evelyn announced. “Jet stream hasn’t been the same since they installed them Skylines last month. Screws with the wind and reception. I’m putting you on speakerphone.” She tapped her smartphone with a meaty finger the same moment the gym’s glass door shut behind her.

Gusts whipped against the gym wall, greasy and thick. One caught his hood, making it patter against his face as he followed. That wind devoured half the words from the other end of Evelyn's phone. “—berskin because that’s all he leaves of your skin.” A pause. Then, “Then I'll beat him with what's right. If he escaped, he’d get my fist before you, Lynz.”

The Skyline cut sprawling shadows into the street between buildings half a block ahead.

The bodybuilder looked over her shoulder as she hung up the phone.

Evelyn crossed into the first shadow.

The sorcerer pounced.

A sizzling, a sound and a scent flooded the street.

Right again.

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