• Jabe Stafford

One Page Worlds - Gorgon Timeflow Operations

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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I slither along cobblestones dusty with horse-trodden hay. The serpents atop my scalp peer seventeen directions at once. Stone dwellings draped with vines seem to press in on me like jail walls.

Eight uniformed Temporals chase me through the empty, narrow streets toward a packed market square. Four Temporals behind. Two approaching from each side along roads adjacent to the market road. Their uniforms will make them appear as legionnaires of this age to commoners. I, Destona, have no such disguise.

A head full of snakes screams ‘monster’ no matter the era they Backsend me to.

Relying on the reptiles’ thirty-four eyes, I leap the first mounted soldier between me and the crowded square, then open my own eyes for a fraction of a second. The mare’s wild gaze had rolled onto me before the leap. When I land, the mare is a priceless work of statuary art. The armored soldier’s momentum drags him to the stones where he lands with a wet crack atop one Temporal.

Another “soldier” keeps his eyes on my backside and not on the horse I’d leapt. He eats stone for his last meal, neck snapping against the petrified mare’s thick neck.

Six men left that could stop me from ending my target. I will keep the timeflow clean for my sisters’ sake.

I shut both eyes and plow through the backs of fruit stalls into the square. The lead serpent on my scalp spots the target-Cardinal Leon-passing out coins to wretches among the shoppers. Two serpents track the Temporals from the side streets as they pelt toward the Cardinal’s side.

They arrive first. All four draw disguised shocknets and take stances around the target, ready to cast them the way Greek gladiators fought with fishing nets and tridents.

Women and men drop foodstuffs and flee into the alleys with their children. Each Temporal calls to the other, announcing my location in relation to the Cardinal. “It’s Destona. South of Leon. Launch nets in two, one—”

I leap high and toward the target’s front. Electrified nets surge past beneath me, missing and snagging the two Temporals pursuing from behind.

Two more "soldiers" cry out my newest whereabouts before I meet their gazes. Statues. Both of them. Scales thud against stone planters when I land, and I roll over twice before rising.

One tumble times thirty four eyes equals whiplash squared.

Twin shocknets descend on me and I judder and twitch, flopping to the cobbles. My hair serpents flail outside the nets and in. Some are pinned. Others determinedly seek the man who would give the order to eradicate gorgons during the Renaissance.

Cardinal Leon. Spitting on me, disgusted. He sees Destona. The unholy monster he couldn't know is a Backsent sleuth.

I cannot get him to meet my gaze. He knows better.

Murder in the timeflow is irreparable. I can only petrify the engineer of gorgon genocide. My sisters had better be up for Backsent vandalism.

A smile slides along my teeth despite the pain of the shocknets. We gorgons are the best sleuths alive.

Every tyrant imprisoned in art is the proof.

I squeeze both eyes nearly shut and weep.

The Cardinal sees the first tear. Not the second.

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