• Jabe Stafford

One Page Worlds - A Shifter's Lies

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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“Look for the least useful transformation you could expect,” said Agent Grafton, ignoring his partner’s presence as she skittered in scorpion form along the outside of the pub windowsill.

Seven or eight other trainees leaned closer to the smooth-dressed Agent, eyeing him up and down or looking for significant out-of-place features on his person. What wasn’t plain about him was what he placed there deliberately. Earring in the left ear. Expensive cigar between chapped lips. Sinuous snake tattoo covering his adam’s apple, which he usually kept covered with a tie or turtleneck.

Agent Cole Grafton inhaled cigar smoke and tasted the mellow flavor filling his mouth. Before he could enjoy their puzzlement, Erin Akers spoke over the pub’s clamor. “A cricket. One of those loud, annoying ones.”

Grafton shook no, his chocolate brown ponytail swinging. “Those could be of use as spies mid-Shift, or assassins post-Shift. Remember, The Restraints mean no mammals, no birds.”

“Guess better y’all,” Erin urged. “His partner’s probably in her Shifted form already. Y’all want to lose again and miss your shot at earning a Shift yourself?”

She was steering his charges into losing focus. Or perhaps they’d perform better under the stress. Enemy officers would be less easy to read than he. Inability to spot a Shifted Agent, whether the Shift was on or off, meant death behind enemy lines.

Grafton’s partner slipped between the crack in the open window and pricked her way down Erin’s bomber jacket sleeve. It was Erin’s fault for making too much light of this day. She probably wouldn’t have seen the scorpion even during daylight hours.

The deadly insect raised its sting to strike.

Erin sipped beer from the bottle by its neck, then slammed the glass onto her shoulder where Grafton's partner clung. Her Shift erupted, the scorpion becoming six-foot-tall Bethany Cox, body covered in scorpion tattoos.

Bethany flopped bodily down to the pub floor, crunching peanut shells beneath her weight while Erin barked, “Rattler Grafton’s what they call him, guys. Ain’t y’all got ears? He’s a snake. Always B.S.ing.”

Grafton grinned at the group and drew out a folder, opening it to the tattoo art inside. “Erin Akers just earned her first Shift. Now let’s see if she’s clever enough to keep it. Pick an insect.”

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