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January 15, 2020

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One Page Worlds - Monster Safety

January 8, 2020

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!

 

* * * * *

 

You key faster, knowing monsters get slain for showing their faces on the street during the day, and during the night.

 

Anything—and anyone—that disturbs their rhythm must be removed. Fellow monsters clack away at keyboards to your left, your right, three cubicles away from you. A cage was your co-workers’ worst fear. It is now their greatest chance of survival. They may have removed you from their day, but you are still here.

 

Jakraal snarls from the desk across the aisle from yours. Probably fur stuck in his keys again, and that would set her keyboard on fire if she got too angry. The half-dead fox demon should know better, should be in the habit of self-grooming. 

 

Your carpals cease clacking against your keys as you rise, navigating the workspace through memory more than with the LED light hitting your ruined eyes. Moldy cheeses, half-sprouted legumes, and spoiled fruit lay on party platters on a fold-up table in the middle of the aisle. A survival anniversary celebration Ritan is partaking of with her crooked beak and matted feathers. The decay only makes it smell better.

 

But Jakraal. She is no longer yowling from her workstation.

 

She is gone. You did not see, nor sense her leave.

 

Her raging at the computer typically stops only when you come by to calm her.

 

You crouch, muscles tensing, pulling taut against bones you may need to use to end the life of something that could be worse than you. Worse than Jakraal can be.

 

An abyss. It hovers where the monitor your co-worker was doubtlessly using seconds before used to be. It yawns, consumes, inhales.

 

You squint your desiccated eyes and watch the maw devour Jakraal’s desk chair.

 

Not an abyss. A hunger spirit. Inside the monitor, and thus, the computer, and thus, the network. 

 

No time for a phone call. Bones in your neck crackle and snap as you rasp, “Hunger spirit. In the machine. Am I the only plasomancer in the building?”

 

“Oh yeah,” Ritan squawks from the table. “Plasomancer. I was wondering what you studied in technical college.”

 

Plasm oozes down your wrists and into your carpals, first taking the shape of ebon skin, then of something volatile-on-command. A flesh of weaponized flame that Jakraal was made of and used when she was not caught off guard.

 

You raise a fist and shout, “Nothing to see here. It’ll all be over in a minute.”

 

Reaching into the hunger spirit’s jaws, you seize a furry, writhing something.

 

But the plasm is melting into that maw. Faster than you can keep it going.

 

Your other hand is worth a night’s productivity. Plasm can be regained.

 

The cage cannot. It must survive.

 

For the monsters.

 

You shove the other hand deep into the invader, through monitor and space, reaching for your friend.

 

And you connect.

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