Character Creation Contest #115: Summer

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Edited By cbishop
Summer, by Lois van Baarle
Summer, by Lois van Baarle

Hola, peeps! It's time for CCC #115! I wanted something cool, so I went and looked at one of my favorite artists, Lois van Baarle on inprnt.com. She does really cool stuff, and gives general permission to use her pics on her website. Honestly, I was torn between about NINE of them, but I finally got it narrowed down to one: Summer.

Summer is your OC, and that is her name. BUT: give her a LAST name as well! She doesn't have to be the only OC, but you at least have to have her.

The rules:

  • Give Summer a last name.
  • Write a story about her.
  • No word limit.
  • Deadline is Monday, January 3, 2022, @11:59PM New York time (click the link if you're unsure). Why? I figure everybody's going to be busy the week from Christmas to New Year's, so I'm giving you extra time! Even two days to recover after New Years, should you need it! ...Plus, honestly, I have to find a job, or I am going to die, so I'm allowing myself time to find one too.

I look forward to your entries. Have fun, and see you in the new year!

Remember: deadline is Monday, January 3, 2022, @11:59PM New York time!

I'm glad you're here! Please join us for the fun, and enter your story! -cb

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@wildvine: Will you please pin this, and unpin the CCC 114 Voting Thread? Thank you.

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Coolio

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Cool cool

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Cool Runnings?

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Cool as a cucumber.

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Warning: The following story may be edited to a large degree between now and the deadline. I'm posting it now because I'm pretty happy with it, and I dig having my contest entry drop fast, but I may feel different next week. So far as I remember edits are allowed up to the deadline so that should be fine. I'm just saying the version you read here and now may be tweaked when you read it later on the voting contest. So you may want to wait and read it there. Anyway, happy contesting, fellows

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#8  Edited By wildvine

Summer St John of Oz

It was not long after their fateful meeting that it was almost unanimously decided that Go'way must ride. It was not for want of trying, or such as it seemed. Go'way did make a fair pageant of protesting special acknowledgement, but it was very much overridden. Sister Goose had little in the way of patience or alternate worldviews. One may say it was her way or the highway but seeing as the trio were on the highway regardless, well, the logic falls through a bit.

"Tell me please, and do forgive my forward-ness, but what brings strangers as yourselves to this oasis among the four deserts?" Go'way had settled himself comfortably on Sister Goose's hat brim, and leaning against the once straight point, now bent and twisted by too many fights against the gale.

"Ah, we were actually trying for the Kingdom of Dreams. By the way, given your advanced line of sight there, do be a dear and report any strangeness you see skyward."

"What sort of skyward strangeness?" the Insect puzzled, not quite inclined enough to be nervous about this odd request.

You know, things of noteworthy report." Sister Goose replied non-committedly. "That sort."

"That is to add" Ozymandias added "We... bring a message of import from the Applepie Princess, for the King of Dreams, you know."

"THAT'S RIGHT!" Sister Goose enthusiastically said. "And some devilish pirate-types would assuredly wish to know such a secret message. No doubt for nefarious purposes. That is what I meant when I said be looking out."

Now you might be thinking this is rather a lot to keep up with, but that was before they met the unusual girl with the long hair that was blond and goldenrod and orange and red and all of it cascading into a fanciful blend of cool blue shades. Her skin was a golden tan, her eyes had orange irises. She looked as though she had been kissed by the morning dawn itself, and indeed she had. The girl was walking ahead of the group, unawares and seemingly uncaring as she drifted over the road of red bricks. The flowers of the fields turned to watch as she passed them, as if the very grass of the field was in silent adoration of this strange girl.

Sister Goose quickly flipped through the aged pages of the Grimmoire, but she could not decide if this was a Faye or a goddess, though she surmised no Faye would take insult at being called goddess, and thus chose to err on the side of safety.

"Hullo fair goddess. Please do not mind our approach. We only wish to share the road." The trio did not realize this was Summer St John, the daughter of the Sun, and avatar of the season. But they were steered to right fair quickly.

"Hello in return. I'm summer St John, the daughter of the Sun. Not to boast, though if anything were worthy to boast of..." the girl flashed an easy and immediately disarming smile. "Shre the road all you wish. I am only doing my yearly tour of the fairylands, looking at this and that. It's nice to keep in touch with the lower plains. Helps keep one humble. Though a minor correction. I am no goddess. merely a celestial."

She said merely in the same way one may admit to being a dust maid. Though if Sister Goose recalled proper - celestials were to gods what gods were to witches. Not a position one would boast for superstitious dread.

"Not to appear critical but there seems to be more monsters about, and less of anything else, based on prior visits. I can't say it's an improvement I particularly agree with."

Ozymandias performed an awkward goosey bow (its rather something to behold) and Sister Goose suddenly remembering her place manage a simple knee bow herself.

"Oh now, cease that!" Summer St John radiated a blush. "I mean, thank you. Its proper and fine but oh it embarrasses me so."

"Pardon but we are not from these parts specifically-" Ozymandias said.

"I'm from here." Go'way added quickly. "My companions are important messengers from far lands away, besought by sky pirates, and too injured to complete their mission at this time. I have elected to join their band to help them through this trying time."

"How very noble of you, Sir Insect. You are a credit to your kind. But how will you now complete the mission to deliver this message?" Summer St John tilted her head as she met each of the travelers' eyes in kind.

"We're going to st-"

"Hi, please go scout the path ahead, noble friend." Sister Goose said, removing her hat and tossing it down the road, the hat spinning on the air and going a fair distance. "He wished to look ahead lest a horror find us unawares."

"But he is so small." Summer St John marveled.

"So small but so brave." Ozymandias said dryly.

"We have yet to fully ascertain a path forward of our predicament." Sister Goose said. "Perhaps you could advise us in this matter." She all but clasped her fingerless gloved hands together hopefully.

Summer St John put her chin to her fist and stared hard at the red bricks, but found nothing of note there, and the entire exorcise seemed futile. "I'm quite sure I have nothing of value to add to your experience." Summer St John said regretfully. "I have no call of the rainbow, or I could send you on your merry way straight now."

This was not the answer Sister Goose nor Ozymandias had hoped for (and presumably not Go'way either, but he's still a way off) but Sister Goose kept her frustration under her hat (metaphorically speaking) for an insulted celestial was going to be in no one's favor.

"May I say you have the most interesting hair." the girl said. "It shows a blue luster that rivals my own!" Summer St John enthused.

Ozymandias turned to look at Sister Goose, who feebly covered her hair with one hand and tried to avoid looking discomfortable. "I was... I have a distant relative to... the Man in the Moon... s'wife. Twice removed." Sister Goose said. "In fact, I find it hardly curious, hence it is ordinarily hidden 'neath a hat."

"Perhaps we should go find Go'way." Ozymandias said.

"And perhaps I will join you. We go the same direction, and I wish to converse further with Sir Noble Bug." Summer St John said.

And being there no reasonable purpose to leave her behind, the party moved forward, added by one member.

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115 contests and this is my second time being the first entry. I'm on a roll, baby!

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#10  Edited By cbishop
@wildvine said:

Warning: The following story may be edited to a large degree between now and the deadline. I'm posting it now because I'm pretty happy with it, and I dig having my contest entry drop fast, but I may feel different next week. So far as I remember edits are allowed up to the deadline so that should be fine. I'm just saying the version you read here and now may be tweaked when you read it later on the voting contest. So you may want to wait and read it there. Anyway, happy contesting, fellows

Yes, edits are fine all the way up to the deadline. :)

Edit (see?): I like it so far. I'm really enjoying your Oz stuff. :)

@wildvine said:

115 contests and this is my second time being the first entry. I'm on a roll, baby!

Dangit, I was hoping to be first! (...for once) lol

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#11  Edited By cbishop

3,859 words <winces> Sorry, y'all- I did go on...

Solomon Seal: Summer Bries & Bubba Gum

"...this is your new client?"

"You're sure this is your new client?" Jeanine shoved her cellphone in my face as soon as I walked in. So close I jerked back reflexively, and stepped off to the side.

"Yes, Jeanine. I sent it to you, remember? I took the pic myself for her contact photo."

She gave me a dubious look.

"Give me a break, will ya? She's almost young enough to be my daughter."

All she said was, "Hold on a minute," and she walked back to her office. She came back a minute later, and shoved a couple of pages torn from a notebook at me. "Read this."

I'd been with Jeanine Fairchild long enough to know when and when not to argue with her. I took the pages, sat down at my desk, propped my feet up on the corner of it, and leaned back, settling in to read.

I got a call today from my ex-partner's sister, asking me to meet her in the park. I'd have done it just because of him, but this was Summer Bries. Cole was alright, sure, but whenever he was around, you had to brace yourself. You just never knew what days he might be too much. But Summer? Whenever I crossed paths with her, it was the best part of my day.

As it happened the best part of this day was about to arrive. She was walking down a shady sidewalk to where I was sitting. Like out of shape men tend to do when they see a woman they have a thing for, I was feeling kind of lumpy and squished to the hot plastic seat. I peeled myself off of the bench, standing so I could straighten my suit jacket. I smiled when she noticed me, and had about fifteen seconds to just enjoy her coming my way.

Well, I ain't gotta tell ya- she was quite the picture. She had legs that were wanted in ten states, lips to die for, and a body as hot and satisfying as her name. She carried herself just right too- light and easy almost like she was floating. Wherever she went I'd swear that the trees moved with her. As good as it felt to have her heading in my direction I could tell that there was a heat that was coming with her. I'm not sure what was sweating more- me, or my bottled water. If I'd been on my front porch with a glass of lemonade and a rocker my day would've been complete.

When she was finally standing before me, she swayed slightly as if she might turn and leave suddenly, but then she said, "Thank you for meeting me here, Mr. Gum."

"Summer, I knew your brother a long time, and I've told you before about that 'Mr. Gum' stuff. We're nearly the same age. So it's 'Bubba' or 'Gumshoe' to my friends." She looked a bit quizzical at that, and I said, "Hey, I didn't pick it. It's not the flashiest nickname I suppose, but it's what I am and what I do, so it does save me a lot of explaining." I winked at her, and said, "Usually. Please, have a seat."

Almost smiling, she settled next to me on the park bench. She sat as light as she walked, and so still I could tell that things were about to get hotter. She was quiet for a minute, but I needed this sweetheart to sing just like she does down at Flower's joint. Voice like you wouldn't believe. The words drift to your ear easy as you'd please, and you'd swear a hint of her perfume comes with 'em. It takes you somewhere else, and let me tell ya- ya don't mind going neither. Right now though, neither of us were going anywhere, so I started. "Well, kid, the call was your ten nickels. What's on your mind? Rayne giving you trouble again?"

She looked down at her purse, and her hair slid past her ear and across the right side of her face. "No. No, it's nothing with June," she said. She took a long, slow breath, and let it out easy. Brushing her hair back with one hand, she pulled a photo and a personal tape recorder out of her purse with the other one. "I got this today," she said nervously. "It's from Braggadocio."

My ears perked up at that. This guy- Braggadocio- he's an ego who likes challenges- the kind that tear down successful people. Whether competing, gambling, blackmailing, or manipulating, he doesn't care. He thinks it proves how big a man he is. I've been looking for him for months. The last time he issued a challenge, The Cask went the way of the dodo. Now he was up to the same thing at The Paper Umbrella. Coincidence? Maybe, but I know some people who'd like to send him an instant message on a bullet just the same. Don't get me wrong. Amontillado's place was a dump, and if Braggadocio did cause its demise, he did all of Larsen a favor. Still, a lot of the wrong people with the right connections miss that place, and they want to know what he had to do with it. Truth is the guy's a grunt. He had about as much power over The Cask as I had a chance with Summer.

Then she played the tape. "As you can see from the picture, I know who you are, and what you can do. If you don't want everyone else to know, you'll meet me at Canary's place on Wednesday night. I think we could... uh... help each other out. I'm looking forward to seeing you there."

Summer turned the tape off, and looked up at me, tears falling like a hot rain. "What am I going to do?" She was pleading, more than asking.

I leaned back on the bench for a moment looking at the photo, and brushed a finger across my lips while I thought. Then I touched her gently on the shoulder - almost afraid that my movement would push her away. "By the sound of that tape, he just wants to talk about something. Probably nothing good," I said with a nod. "Still, there's really only one thing you can do, kid. Go to Songbirds- take the meeting. Find out what he wants. We can figure out the next step after that. And we will. Trust me."

I looked up at Jeanine who was just standing on the other side of my desk with her arms crossed, waiting.

"Okay? So, she's got the same name," I say with a shrug.

"Come on, Solomon! You don't think that's weird?" she demanded.

"It's danged sure a heck of a coincidence, but this can't be about the same girl. It's from what? The late Seventies? Early Eighties? I mean, late Eighties, earrrrrly Nineties at the very most. She couldn't have been born before the mid-Nineties," I said, handing the pages back to her.

You'd have to know her like I do to tell, but she was upset that I didn't think it was as weird as she did. "How did you know that?" she asked. "I didn't tell you where I got this. Narrow it down."

I chuckled. She knew very well how I got that. She just liked hearing it. "He was sitting on a plastic park bench, so I assume the water bottle was plastic too, and those started in the Late Sixties. Not really much help since they're still around today, but plastic recycling didn't start until 1972, and recycled plastic in park benches wasn't a regular thing until they started using it more in playground equipment. That was what? Late Eighties?"

Jeanine shook her head. "That's shaky."

I laced my fingers behind my head, and said, "He wrote this out on paper. Even I stopped doing that when I finally got a computer. And by 'finally' I mean the early Nineties. This guy likes to get his thoughts down, and tell the whole story, so surely he had one by then."

She shrugged. "Maybe writing things out helps him focus on the problem."

I scoffed. "Okay. Personal tape recorders died out for the most part when voice recording came to cell phones. Late... Nineties? Early Two-Thousands? So, again, those pages had to be from earlier than that."

Jeanine scrunched her nose up and wagged a finger at me, "Ehhhh. She got the recorder from a thug. He wasn't going to send her a voice recording that could be traced back to his phone."

I threw my hands up and sighed, mildly frustrated. "Fine. 'Ten nickels' for a phone call? Calls jumped up from a dime to twenty cents, and then twenty-five cents around the late Seventies, early Eighties, up to fifty cents by the late Eighties, and today they could be upwards of three dollars just for the first few minutes with additional charges after that. So, the call had to be late Eighties which fits with the plastic park benches."

Holding the pages in front of her, she looked at them, and then to me, nose scrunched into a stink face. "That the best you can do?"

I thought for a second, and said, "No. He said 'instant message on a bullet.' People call them 'private messages- PM's,' or 'direct messages- DM's' today. 'Instant message' is definitely early cell phone, very early Internet. So, okay, has to be early Nineties."

Jeanine swiped the pages in my direction, and crossed her arms in a huff. "That's just showing off." For her, that's giving in, but I had the feeling she was holding something back on me.

I smiled. "If I didn't catch those things, I would have guessed the Forties rather than later! It reads like a pulp detective story." I kicked my feet off the desk, and sat up straight. "Since you brought it up, where did you get that? Where's Larsen? And who is Bubba Gum? And who does that to their kid? 'Bubba Gum.' For crying out loud."

"Hey!" she laughed. "Bubba was sweet. See that dollar on the wall," she said, pointing to a small frame. "He was my first client."

"He paid you a buck? So, you did pro bono?" Now I was giving her the dubious look.

She smirked. "It was a formality. He 'hired' me so I would be bound by attorney client privilege."

"And gave you this?" I asked with a little confusion.

Jeanine reached in her pocket and brought out a dollar, handing it to me. "Now, I'm hiring you."

I shook my head. "I'm your investigator. I'm bound by your attorney-client privilege anyway."

"Aw. You've been paying attention," she said with a smile, "but you didn't investigate this for me. Now, you are." She held out the dollar again.

I took it, and said, "I feel like I should charge more."

Her head jerked back, a look on her face daring me to go on.

Naturally, I did. "At least ten, I'd think."

"You can take my parking spot for the week," she said dryly.

"You don't have a personal parking spot," I said, intentionally making my eye twitch.

She shrugged and said, "That's why I don't mind you taking it. Now, shut up and listen."

Now, I jerked my head back, looked at her for a few seconds, and leaned back in my chair. I gave her a look telling her to spill, and said, "Okay, Jeanine, why do you think my Summer Bries is connected to your Summer Bries ...and Bubba?"

"...I don't get it. It's just this."

She gave me a tight shake of her head. "Uh-uh," she said, holding her hand out palm up.

I looked at her seriously, and then handed her back the dollar. "Hey, Jeanine, you wanna be my lawyer?"

"Yes, Mister Seal. I will be happy to take you on as a client." Pocketing the dollar, she clasped her hands in front of her, and said, "So, tell me about your case."

"Summer Bries. No more than mid-twenties, but I didn't ask. Someone has a photo of her, and she wants it back."

"Did she have a copy of the photo? Did she show it to you?"

"Yeah," I said as I pulled out my cellphone again, "and I don't get it. It's just this."

She took the phone, and looked at it for a few seconds before saying, "A picture of her flying." She didn't sound surprised.

"Right? I mean, we have umpteen-hundred fliers on this planet. Dragon Men? People with wings? The Accord Refugees? Gods? Superheroes? Aliens? Who cares that she can fly?"

Fairchild just stood there, fists bumping against her hips, eyes searching the corner of the room, her mouth drawn tight, and clearly at war with herself over something.

"Jeanine?" I almost sang. "Didn't Gum's pages say his Summer handed him a photo with the tape recorder?"

She slid my phone across the desk, and hustled back to her office. She came back moments later with the photo, and handed it to me without saying a word. If you knew Jeanine, that was cause for alarm right there. I took the photo, took one look at it, and looked at Jeanine. She still didn't say anything. I looked at it again, looked back to her, and said, "What the heck?"

"This looks like the same girl."

"I know," she said.

"This looks like the same girl," I said, incredulous.

"I know."

"But she's only a few years younger," I argued.

"I know," she agreed.

"This photo is in black-and-white! It looks older than those pages!" I balked, trying to make sense of it.

"I know," said Jeanine.

"She's flyi--"

"I know!"

"Would you please say something else?!" I snapped.

"It's from the Fifties."

"Shut up!" I said in disbelief.

"You just told me to say something else," she said seriously.

I huffed with irritation, followed by a low growl. "She can't be twenty-something today, and in her teens in the Fifties."

Jeanine just threw her hands out to her sides. "Why not? We can."

I laughed, but not because I thought it was funny. "So, what? You're saying she's a vampire?"

She looked at me like I was stupid. "Come on. Look at those pictures. We can't fly during the day."

"What then?"

"I've wondered... Ghost?"

"I've wondered that for a long time," she said sadly. "Ghost?"

"Why would a ghost care who had her picture, and be worried about blackmail? What are they gonna do? Kill her?"

She shrugged. "Shapechanger?" she said weakly. With doubt, she added, "Alien?"

I shook my head. "Mighty slow aging." I perked up, and snapped my finger, pointing at Jeanine. "Goddess! She wants to keep it a secret, because she's afraid of being hounded for the secrets to her immortality!"

Jeanine blew it off with a shake of her head. "No. Cupid? Most of the staff at Holiday, Inc.? That guy from the Secret Service? Nobody bothers them. For that matter: us?"

I looked at her like that was preposterous. "We don't tell people how old we are. And we're not immortal."

She looked a little petulant. "We're longer lived than the average mortal."

I nodded. "Ideally, yes- I'll give you that. Then... what?" I looked back-and-forth across my desk for a few seconds like the answer was going to be in the wood grain. Then I looked back up at Jeanine, and said, "What about Bubba Gum? Why did he bring this to you?"

She rocked a little more, clearly not wanting to say, but she did. "He was on the run."

"Fr--"

"--Don't ask me that!" she snapped. "Solomon Seal, you do not ask me that!"

"But you came to m--"

"--They can make us disappear, Solomon! Us! For real," she said, and she sounded scared. That scared me.

Very calmly, I said, "Jeanine. We're working for each other here, and we did that so we couldn't tell anybody anything. Time to lay it all out- what are we talking about, here? Who is Summer Bries? Who is Bubba Gum? And who was he running from?"

She looked unsure.

"Fairchild! What the heck? You've gone from 'Wow, what a coincidence' to 'They're out to get us!' I'm a vampire that's been around for a bit, and you're a vampire that's survived for centuries. What are you afraid of? Where is Larsen, and why was Bubba Gum running from it? Why did he come to you?"

She rolled her lips between her teeth for a few seconds while she thought of how to tell me. "Bubba was in Witness Protection."

I just looked at her, confused by this new information. "He worked for WITSEC? The pages read like he was a P.I."

Giving me a tight shake of her head, she said, "He was a P.I. He didn't work for WITSEC. He was in Witness Protection."

"And he was placed in Larsen?"

She nodded.

"And Larsen is where?"

She shook her head.

"Come on now."

She shook her head, and shrugged. She wasn't telling.

"Fine, but we're coming back to that. Then what's this got to do with Summer Bries, and a picture of h... Wait a minute. Was she in Witness Protection too?"

Jeanine nodded.

"And she was also in Larsen?"

She nodded again.

I sat there a few seconds, index finger pressed to the black-and-white photo, moving it back-and-forth slightly as I thought. "So, she wasn't worried about this photo, because it shows she can fly. She was worried about it, because it shows her face."

She nodded again.

"Braggodocio tells her he knows who she is, and what she can do," I mused, tapping the photo. "Again, she's not worried about the flying, so... he was telling her that he knew what her testimony could do, and he was threatening to give her up to whoever was looking for her."

Another nod.

"So she went to Bubba Gum- private investigator, friend of the family, who also happens to be in Witness Protection?"

"She knew he was in Witness Protection, and he knew she was too." Jeanine answered.

"She speaks!" I said with surprise.

She just scowled, biting on the tip of a fingernail. Then she winced like she thought she may have said too much.

I threw my hands up in the air, and threw myself against the back of my chair. "Ah, dammit, Fairchild! Help me out here! We're both protected by privilege! Why are we still playing this damned guessing game?!"

Jeanine clasped her hands together at waist level, looked at me wide eyed, and just said, "Guessing game?" Then she looked off to a corner of the ceiling and back to me.

I closed my eyes in frustration for a few seconds, pinched the end of my nose between two fingers, and then rubbed the bottom of it with a knuckle. Sighing, I looked back to Jeanine, who just stood there waiting. She was starting to freak me out, but I tried to keep that to myself. As I looked at her, staring back at me, but stubbornly not sharing any useful information, it hit me. "There's a third issue of privilege here, isn't there?"

Jeanine raised her eyebrows, and tilted her head sideways. The slight smile told me I was on to something.

"Okay. Braggadocio somehow finds out who Summer Bries is, and threatens to out her location to whoever she was going to testify against if she doesn't have a meeting with him. She goes to Bubba Gum for help, because they know each other are in Witness Protection, and he advises her to take the meeting, but says they'll figure out the next step. Then he came to you."

Fairchild nodded.

"Why did he come to you?" I mused, lost in the thought. Then, looking back to her, I said, "Were you a lawyer then?"

She pointed over her shoulder at the framed dollar.

"First client. Right. So, you're a newly minted lawyer, and Bubba Gum comes to you." I squinted at her with confusion. "Why does a seasoned private eye think he can trust a rookie lawyer to help him and a girl in..."

Jeanine just cocked her head and leaned in a bit, waiting for me to finish my sentence.

I wracked my brain for a few seconds, and then raised my eyebrows with the realization. "Were you in Witness Protection too? Bubba knew they could trust you, because you all three had something to lose!"

She huffed, slightly irritated, and shook her head.

I just looked at her, a little exasperated. "Well, then why... the guy's in Witness Protection, and needs for not that many people to know about that. He comes to you for help- a nobody lawyer with no rep yet- and you're not in Witn-- oh my God!"

"You were with WITSEC?!"

Jeanine leaned a little closer, anticipating my conclusion.

"Oh my God! You were with WITSEC?!"

She let out a huge huff like she'd been holding her breath, and threw her hands up in the air. She hustled off to her office for the third time, and came back with a clipboard, paper, and pen that she slapped onto my desk. Before I could even look at it, she put her hands on her waist, and said, "Why, Mister Seal, I don't know how you came to such a deduction all on your own," she said with a meaningful nod, "without anyone telling you anything, but that represents a serious security risk to persons who may be under the protection of the federal government."

I found myself nodding along with her nods, and looking at her without blinking. I'd have laughed if she wasn't freaking me out so bad just then.

"I'm afraid you have left with me with no choice but to have you sign this non-disclosure agreement, agreeing to be read in on the particulars, and effectively becoming a temporarily deputized federal marshal of the United States of America until such time as I can alert the proper people about the change in situation, and resolve the present matter," she said very businesslike. Then she added, "For the safety of those under the protection of WITSEC."

I just looked at her, wide eyed, and without saying a word.

She matched my look for a couple of seconds, and then made a writing motion in the air, whispering, "Sign the NDA, Solomon."

"Oh! Right!" I said back, fumbling the pen into the floor. I started to reach for it, and she plucked mine from the breast pocket of my jacket. I took it, signed the NDA, and handed it back to her.

Looking at the form briefly, she plopped it back on the desk.

"Is that even legal?" I asked, pointing at the NDA.

"I've been with WITSEC since shortly after it started in 1970. I have the authority," she assured me. "Now, we have to talk about Summer Bries."

I just chuckled, almost noiselessly. "Yeah. Yeah, we definitely need to talk. I have so many questions right now."

Sitting on the corner of my desk, Jeanine said, "Fire away."

To be continued.

*******

Story and original characters owned and copyright Chris Bishop 2021.

Notes: OC's for this one are Summer Bries, Bubba Gum (Gumshoe), Cole Bries, June Rayne, Braggadocio, and The Cask.

Reappearing are Solomon Seal, Jeanine Fairchild, Amantillado, the Paper Umbrella ("Flowers' joint"), Songbirds ("Canary's place"), Dragon Men, Accord Refugees, "that guy from the Secret Service" (Heironymous), Cupid, Larsen, and Holiday, Inc.

The Witness Protection symbol was found via Google. The rest of the pics are all by Lois van Baarle. The first one is "Summer," reduced in MS Paint to fit the cellphone frame (cellphone frame found via Google). The second one is "Sky," reduced in MSP to fit the cellphone frame. The black-and-white is "Rise." The girl with the flowing hair on the black background is "Ghost."

And I'm just going to tell y'all this, because I like the way it worked out: the pages from Bubba Gum's notebook are something I actually wrote back in the mid-1990's, just practicing developing characters off of wordplay. I tweaked it a bit to fit this story. Solomon getting all the clues out of it was me Googling stuff to see how outdated or correct the info was lol.

See y'all on the voting thread. :^D

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No Caption Provided

“Look at Summer Van Barf!” shrieked Indigo Locks as the mixture of milkshake, toilet water, glitter, and ketchup flew from her hand and hit Summer van Baarle square in the face. The seventeen year old girl was aghast as the foul liquid washed down her face and clung to her hair. The cafeteria at Sky High was in two distinct camps from the incident; those who were shocked and silent and those who shocked and with cellphones. Summer glared at Indigo.

“Why?”

Indigo dropped the extra large cup onto the floor. “I told you to stay away from my man.”

Summer clenched her fists. Indigo’s supposed boyfriend was Patrick Moyle, son of Bull Man and Lady Liquid, and her assigned partner for chemistry. “You have gone too far, sk...”

“Really?” She bit her lip which activated her power of metal spikes popping out of skin like she was a heavy metal porcupine. “I don’t think I’ve gone far enough.”

No Caption Provided

Summer’s eyes rolled back in her head as a ghostly fire emanated from her, forming up into a dozen angry fists and hurtling towards Indigo. Suddenly the cafeteria was bathed in sound and light. Indigo flew backwards as did Summer as Principal Powers landed between the pair of them, arms folded. “Seems you two ladies have forgotten our Positive Behaviours for Learning?” she stated as the energy around her dissipated revealing a striking older woman who had run the school.

Indigo got to her feet, as did Summer. “She threw a milkshake at me!”

“She was creeping round my man!”

“I was not!”

“You liar!”

Principal Powers let off another comet burst which ended the petty argument. “That is just about enough! Spikestorm, Ghostblossom, you now both have detention and will march yourselves up to my office. Do you understand me?”

“Yes ma’am.” They replied in sheepish unison.

Powers looked around at the rest of the student body. “As for those of you who decided that being a bystander and not an UP stander by filming and standing on the sidelines, let me remind you of Sky High’s cell phone policy.”

A torrent of bleeping sounds occurred as phones went into delete mode. Powers smiled. “Have a great day. Comets AWAY!”

Indigo looked at Summer who glared back at her. “When were you able to make ghost fists?”

“When some skank throws milkshake on me!”

“Did you just call me a…”

“Are you deaf, SKANK?” Summer snapped as she stormed off to Powers’ office.

“At three, I’m going to kick your ass so hard your teeth fall out, you boyfriend stealing &!+*#!”

Summer threw a no look bird behind her. It was a great start to her first week at Sky High.

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@batkevin74: Ahh, now the FB post makes sense. lol Nice.

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@cbishop: sometimes I foreshadow via social media :)

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Hey you all still have near about two weeks to write something.

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#16  Edited By batkevin74
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@batkevin74: Thanks for the reminder. I am working on something, and while it won't be done until after Christmas, it will be done before the deadline.

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Entries due Monday night, peeps! Come one! Come all! Everyone is welcome to join! :)

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#19  Edited By mrmonster

Summer Robinson: Nightmare of Port Wentworth

By mrmonster

"Summer Robinson!" A goon shouted from the other side of my apartment door. “If you’re in there, open this door, now!"

"What's the rush?" I asked.

“Summer, you’re already in deep shit with my boss. If I have to get in there myself, I’m gonna mash up that pretty face of yours. Is that enough of a rush for you?”

“Nah, not really.” I said. “Futurama is on, and I’ve got a Tattooed Chef meal in the microwave. Can I see you in about half an hour?”

“That’s it.” He said as he kicked down my door.

And there he was; a 6’4, and jacked local mob enforcer. Pretty sure his street name was Chainz, which I thought was pretty stupid, but whatever.

Chainz reached into his pockets. One hand pulled out a six inch blade, the other pulled out a twelve inch extendable baton.

“You could’ve just let me in.” He said. “I could’ve just collected what you owe my boss, and been on my way. But I do love it when you slum trash put up a good fight, it makes my job so much more fun.”

He came at me and tried to hit me in the head with the baton. I ducked underneath, weaved around his arm, and then came back with a left hook that landed right in his gut.

He winced over in pain. He clearly had no idea how hard a smaller woman like me could hit.

Nonetheless, he clearly wasn’t out of the game. He then tried to stab me, but I blocked his arm, and pulled him in for a wrist lock that forced him to drop the knife.

“You little bitch.” He said as he then grabbed the back of my head and pushed me into a wall. From there, he landed a powerful haymaker across my face.

“Make no mistake, I will kill you tonight.” He said as he threw another punch. “But not before I put you through all the pain I can.”

I blocked his next punch, and then created space using a push kick. One I had a little room between us, I quickly spun around and threw a reverse side kick that landed directly in the right side of his rib cage.

“Damn.” He said as he stumbled back in pain. I could tell just by the way he was breathing that I broke at least one rib, maybe two or three.

And then, I finished him off by taking one step forward, twisting around, and throwing a powerful tornado kick that finished him off.

My neighbor, Vanessa Gutirrez, heard what was going on and came by.

“Are you alright?” She asked as she walked in.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I said. “I took a few hits, but I’m okay.’

She took one look at the unconscious thug and said “Need help getting him out of here?”

“No.” I said. “I actually wanted him to come, I need to ask him some questions about his boss.”

“Oh, I see.” She said. “In that case, let me get some duct tape.”

Vanessa always struck me as a no-nonsense type of woman. She was a Marine corps veteran, a mechanic (the only woman in her shop), and a big motorcycle enthusiast. Her daily life was to go to work, come home, do all her own maintenance in her apartment (our landlord was more than willing to do it for her, but she insisted on doing it herself), and relaxing with scotch and cigars.

“Here you go, kid.” She said as she tossed me a roll of duct tape.

“Thanks.” I said. “Mind helping me lift him up onto a chair?”

“No problem.” She said.

I should probably give you a little more context. Port Wentworth was a small, working class suburban town who’s two biggest industries were manufacturing, and organized crime. Mob bosses from the city would base themselves out here because they knew the police in Port Wentworth could be bought with a few hundred bucks, and the occasional night with a prostitute.

The one redeeming part of that shit town was that in Port Wentworth, poor people knew they had to look out for each other. Which is why I knew I could expect help from Vanessa.

Once we had our thug securely taped to a chair, Vanessa said “I’ll go get my power drill, we’ll need it to fix the door.” She said. “And then, we can crack some cold ones and talk about what you’re doing here.”

“Sounds good.” I said.

We knew it would take the loan shark a while to wake up, so we had time. First, we rescrewed the hinges on my door back into place. Then, she brought over a cold six pack and we hashed things out.

“Three ex-wives have taught me the value of a good case of beer.” She said as she popped open one of the cans and handed it to me. “So, talk to me; why’s a girl like you trying to get the attention of a loan shark’s boss? And how’d you beat him?”

“Because he killed my brother.” I said. “A longtime ago, but still, I never got over it.”

“When we were kids, we had nothing. Our Mom worked day-and-night at the diner just to keep us alive after our dad ran out on us. My brother joined the local mob hoping to make some extra money, even though I begged him not to.”

“It was fine for the first two years or so. He made enough money to where we wouldn’t go to bed hungry; even had enough to take us out for dinner on our birthdays. But then, everything changed when he was arrested for robbing a pharmacy that refused to pay the mob its protection fee.”

“The day after he signed a plea deal, he was found dead in his cell. Conveniently, the prison’s security cameras malfunctioned at the time, and they never found his killer.”

“I know they killed him; I know that they knew one of their members pleading guilty would be bad for their public image, so they had him killed before he had the chance to say anything that might have gotten them in trouble with the feds.”

“That was ten years ago, when I was just 14 years old; and ever since, I’ve been training myself to take revenge.”

“I dropped out of high school and worked two jobs to have enough money to start training, and boy did I train; I spent almost every second of my free time at boxing gyms, martial arts schools, and shooting ranges. By the time I was 17, I had black belts in taekwondo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and had won three amateur boxing tournaments. By the time I was 21, I won a statewide pistol shooting tournament and a statewide rifle shooting tournament.”

“And then, a month ago, on the tenth anniversary of the day he was killed, I decided to finally get my revenge.” I explained. “I found out where the mob loaned out money, took out two grand, and never paid any of it back, knowing they’d send one of these guys after me. Now, it’s all a question of how I can take out his boss.”

“Well damn.” Vanessa said. “I only got one question; how can I help?”

“Helping me interrogate him once he wakes up would be a good start.” I answered.

Once he got up, the first thing out of his mouth was “I’ll give you whatever you want, just don’t kill me.”

“Oh, you’re definitely right about the first part.” I said as I turned on my electric carving knife. “You will give me all the information I want. As for me not killing you, that’ll depend on if I’m satisfied with what you give me or not?”

“Okay, okay.” He said. “Please, just tell me what you want to know?”

“I want to know where I can find your boss.” I asked.

“My boss, Mr. Johnston, works out of the Matheson Distribution center.” He said. “You know, the big grey building over on 32nd street.”

“I’m familiar.” I said.

“That’s where Mr Johnston’s office is.” He said. “But if you think you can get to him, you’re in for a Hell of a surprise. The ‘night shift’ crew is actually just a select team of really tough enforcers who get paid extra to be Mr. Johnston’s personal bodyguards. You’re not getting past them without a small army.”

“Yeah, we’ll see about that.” I said as I made a new piece of duct tape.

“Hey, what are you doing now?”

“Now, I’m putting this over your mouth so you don’t scream.” I explained. “Not that anyone in this shithole would come help you, but still, better safe than sorry.”

“If your information is good, then I’ll come back, untie you, and set you free. After tonight, it’s not like you’ll have a boss to collect debt for anyway.”

“Or, if your information ends up being a bunch of bullshit, I’m gonna come back.” I said as I picked up my electric knife. “And make sure you tell the truth next time.”

I then turned to Vanessa and said “You don’t have to come with me if you don’t want to. This is obviously going to be dangerous, I can understand if you don’t want to come with me.”

“You kidding?” Vanessa asked. “This sounds like the most fun I’ve had since my dishonorable discharge.”

“Alright alright then.” I said. “Let me load up some of my guns, and then we’ll head out.”

Half an hour later, we drove out to the plant with a sedan full of loaded guns. That being said, there was one very specific weapon Vanessa insisted on taking.

“Summer, trust me, you want to take out the first dude with this.” She said as she showed me her crossbow. “It’ll be quick and, if you hit him in the first place, quiet. It’ll give us the chance to take out at least one before the others catch onto us.”

“Yeah, just one problem.” I said. “I’ve never fired a crossbow before.”

“Well, I have.” Vanessa said. “My second wife was a turkey hunter, we’d go crossbow hunting all the time.”

“Great.” I said. “You take the first shot, then I’ll sneak up and get in range of the others.”

“Deal.” Vanessa said.

At any given point, there was at least one guy sitting at the end of the loading dock, smoking a cigarette. If you were just driving by as an onlooker, you’d think he was just a night shift employee taking a smoke break. But once we knew that this whole joint was just a front, it was obvious that he was a guard on rotation, stationed there to watch for anyone approaching the building.

There was a locked gate, but nothing we couldn’t get through with bolt cutters. If this were a normal robbery, I’d be worried about getting seen on a security camera, but mobsters tended not to want any footage of their comings-and-goings to exist.

We approached the building, and once we were in range, Vanessa whispered “Get ready.” and I silently ran to the side of the building. Then, Vanessa shot a bolt that landed right the center of his neck.

He spent his last few moments trying to scream for help, but he couldn’t. And just seconds later, he collapsed on the ground, dead as can be.

Then, I ran up to the building, with a shotgun in hand. I opened the door, and made my way inside.

“What are you doing?” Someone asked. “Your shift isn’t over until eleven…”

Then, he saw that I was not the same guard that was now lying dead on the concrete outside. But before he could do anything, I filled his face with buckshot.

Before his body even hit the ground, I could hear two more coming my way from behind. I ran to take cover behind a forklift, and once they were in range, I fired two shots.

One of them was an instant kill; but the other only grazed his arm. He then took cover of his own behind a shipping container and shouted "All hands on deck, we have a hostile in the unloading area."

I heard guns being cooked and footsteps headed in my direction. I fired three more shots, and then ran out of shells. I didn't have time to reload, so I then drew my semi-auto handgun and kept moving.

I was able to get three shots off before getting overwhelmed and having to take cover again.

"Surround her." One of the thugs shouted, and the thugs dashed to positions around me. I was able to get off three more shots, killing two of them, but I couldn't get most of them. And by my counts, there were another eight.

I had no choice but to stay covered and shoot as best I could, but it wasn't enough. Just from what I could see, all of the remaining eight were armed. Ultimately, I just ran out of ammo.

"Alright, I surrender." I said as I put my hands up. I was taking a big risk, but it was my only option left.

"Cuff her, and bring her to the boss." A thug shouted. "He'll want to deal with her personally."

Two of them came in close to grab me. I then sidekicked one in the chest and punched another in the face before darting away.

But it didn't work. They grabbed me, pulled me to the floor, and kicked me in the head. "You're not getting out of here that easy."

And then, a man in a suit came out and said "Before I slice you to pieces, I want to know. Why did you want to kill me? I have no idea who you even are."

"Thomas Robinson." I said. "Do you know that name?"

"No." He answered.

"Yeah, figured." I said. "He was my older brother. Ten years ago, he was a new recruit in your gang. Your gang landed him in federal jail, where he was killed in the showers before he had the chance to strike a plea bargain. I came here for revenge."

"Well, you ain't getting it." He said as he pulled a knife out of his pocket.

Moments before I was gonna get stabbed, Vanessa burst in with an AK-47. She then fired at the two goons holding me in place before some of the others started firing back at her with handguns.

The mob boss tried to stab me, but I blocked his arm, and then threw an uppercut that landed right across his jaw.

While Vanessa kept firing at the remaining goons, I continued fighting them close quarters. I charged at one of them, grabbed his gun with one hand, and then used my other hand to punch him in the stomach. Another thug came at me, but I stopped him with a side kick before knocking him out with a crescent kick.

Four unarmed thugs then faced me. One of them tried to grab me around my back, but I back elbowed him before raising my foot and delivering a powerful back kick right to his nuts.

Another two of them came at me. One got in a powerful right hook that sent me stumbling into a wall. The other guy tried to roundhouse kick me, but I ducked out of the way, and he ended up slamming his foot against the bricks. I then grabbed him and made him fall over on his head, then turned to his buddy, pulled him in, and then slammed his head against the same wall he just slammed me into.

There was just one left. Only problem is that he was the biggest guy yet. Probably the smartest too; he'd watched his friends get the asses kicked, and now knew all my moves.

I threw a jab-cross-roundkick combo at him. He blocked every single strike. Then, he pulled me in close and shot a powerful knee strike right at my torso.

I ducked down, grabbed his leg, and took him to the ground. I was running on fumes at this point, I couldn't keep punching and kicking him, my only chance of winning was to subdue him.

Before he could try to get up, I was choking him out with my legs and putting him through a powerful armbar. After about thirty seconds or so, I was decently sure that he had succumbed to brain damage from lack of oxygen, and I left him there.

Mr. Johnston tried to run away, but I grabbed him by his shirt collar and threw him against the wall.

"I'll give you anything you want." He said. "Money, drugs, I've got it all."

"Buddy, all I want is you to be gone." I said as I stabbed him with the same knife he tried to stab me with.

By the time I was done with him, Vanessa had already finished mowing down the others. Once we were sure it was safe, we ran up to each other.

“You okay?” She asked me.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I said.

“Did you get the boss?”

“Yes, I killed him with his own knife.” I answered.

“So, what now?” Vanessa asked. “You feeling satisfied now that you’ve gotten your revenge?”

“Not really.” I asked. “There’s still plenty of other scumbags like him in this town. What do you say we make this a permanent gig; you and me versus all of them?”

“Count me in.” She said as she lit a cigar. “I know of a pimp who could use a good beating.”

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@mrmonster: Nice story, but fix this...

And by my counts, there were another eight.

I had no choice but to stay covered and shoot as best I could, but it wasn't enough. Just from what I could see, there were still nine of them

...and I think you're all good. Nice work. :)

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@cbishop: Oh shoot, thanks for pointing this out.

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#23  Edited By Oscuro

Summer Reign

A young, blonde-haired woman sits in an airport terminal, smiling down at her cell phone. She'd just posted a new profile pic to her social media page. The photo is her on the beach, the sun angled to give her hair an ethereal glow. Underneath the picture is the caption "Until next time" #Sunkissed #JapaneseSummer

Until next time #Sunkissed #JapaneseSummer
Until next time #Sunkissed #JapaneseSummer

Her cell begins ringing, a phone call from her mother.

"Hey mom. What's up?"

"Hey hon, I was just checking in. There haven't been any delays with your flight, right?"

"Nope everything seems to be fine. I'll actually be boarding in about fifteen minutes."

"Okay. Then I'll try to leave early, so you won't be waiting too long."

"Okay. Sounds like a plan. Love you."

"Love you too. Watch out for creeps."

"I will mom. I can handle myself. You and dad taught me well."

"I know, but I still worry. Safe travels sweetie. See you soon. Bye."

Not too long after, her plane was ready to head out and she boards the flight. Natsu had taken her fair share of plane rides throughout her childhood, so turbulence was nothing new. This latest trip back home from visiting family in Japan was becoming increasingly rougher by the minute. Her fellow passengers were getting agitated and soon folks began to grow nervous.

The intercom beeps as the pilot's voice filled the cabin: We advise all passengers to fasten your seatbelts and please remain calm.

"There's something wrong. Something they're not telling us," The woman beside her said.

Natsu did her best to ignore this statement, but her stomach sank. Something didn't feel right. Unfortunately, she was over thirty thousand feet in the air with no means of exiting her current situation

The skies had been relatively clear since they departed the airport earlier that morning. Although the forecast hadn't called for any sort of storms, the sky was suddenly growing dark at an unnatural pace.

The sudden darkness begins throwing the entire plane into a full-blown panic, the shouts and screams making it difficult for Natsu to even hear her own thoughts.

As quickly as the darkness came an eerie silence soon followed. The shaking of the plane, the screams, it all just disappeared. It felt like she was being suspended in a void of nothingness. A feeling of hopelessness overwhelmed her. Maybe this was it. All she could think to do was pray.

"Please, please let us get through this. Please. Not like this."

Then a came a rumble. Soft at first, then progressively louder to the point of being deafening.

Natsu covers her ears, assuming the plane was coming apart piece by piece and the wind was rushing in to fill the now depressurized cabin.

She waits and waits for the bright light at the end of the tunnel....

A light does appear, although it was far from what she could've ever expected. In a flash of lightning, the odd darkness is totally swept away, replaced by storm clouds. Her relief is short-lived as she notices what looks like luminous cloud making a beeline for the plane.

What the 'Fug' is that?!

In the split second she takes to question her own sanity, the cloud is now right at her window. She shrieks as she takes a closer look and sees a man within the cloud. She quickly pulls the window cover and shuts her eyes. All she hears is a WHOOSH!! like a strong gust of wind passing by and then chirping birds.

"It is quite beautiful, isn't it?" -Susanoo

She opens her eyes to see a small shrine underneath a red tree, whose branches were covered in birds of every color. Waves crash against the rocks below, as she looked to see that she was on an island that stood about one hundred feet above sea level.

"It is quite beautiful, isn't it?", a man's voice said from behind her.

The brief moment of wonder and amazement she felt had passed in a split second. Natsu nearly jumped out of her shoes from sheer fright. Quickly whipping around, she sees the man that had appeared in the cloud. He was a bit disheveled, his blue and green kimono hanging haphazardly off one shoulder. He gave her a nod as he sat down on the ground, combing his beard. Resting on his lap is a sword, that looks very sharp.

It was at this moment that she remembered that: A) She was supposed to be on a flight back home. B) There was a logical explanation for how she had gotten to this spot. C) She was alone with a strange man, with a sword.

Watch out for creeps. Right.

"Where are we? Who are you?", she asked nervously as she took several steps away from him.

"Save your questions," he said dismissively. "I can't stay here very long, but someone will be here to collect you very soon."

Natsu didn't like how that sounded one bit. She contemplated taking her chances by jumping, but that idea seemed ill conceived.

"Don't be foolish girl. You wouldn't get far...Assuming you survived the jump at all."

"At least tell me what's going on." she demanded.

"I see you're a bit hard of hearing. Although my thunder may not have helped in that regard. Hmm...In any case, just sit quietly. Let me have a moment's peace."

"You a$$-" she begins to say before stopping herself.

The man glares at her, the sky beginning to darken, thunder rumbling overhead.

"Do not try my patience child. I had very little to start with."

The birds sitting on the branches all begin to take flight and head off into the distance. The bearded man spits and begins combing his beard once more. Natsu watches and wishes that she too, could fly away from this place.

"This type of attitude is why you're not welcome home in the first place." a voice says.

They both look to a man sitting atop the hut. As strange as things already were, they had just gotten stranger. The man's head looks sculpted out of jade, his eyes shining like two jewels. He is dressed in all white armor, save for a dragon-like emblem on his belt being silver. As fearsome as he appeared to be, Natsu felt a sense of calm wash over her.

"You'll have to forgive Susanoo. He can be a bit tempestuous."

Susanoo snorts. "Very funny. I saved the girl from them. You're welcome."

"Yes. We are all thankful that she is safe. We hadn't anticipated them returning this soon."

"Well, I guess I'll just be on my way then. I could use a drink or seven."

The jade headed man simply shakes his head in disapproval. "Don't imbibe too much. The sword requires a steady hand."

Susanoo simply grunts. He stands and walks towards the edge of the cliff, briefly looking back at Natsu. He gives her a nod and in a flash of lighting disappears. Natsu stands there dumbfounded.

"I must be hallucinating. Lack of oxygen or something."

"Ahem. Pardon my rudeness, my name is Kazuhiko." the man says before leaping down, extending a hand in greeting.

"I'm Natsu...Natsu Mori." she says as she eyes the water below once more.

Kazuhiko lowers hand and gives a bow. "Summer, indeed...A fine name and very apropos. I wish I could explain everything right now, but we must get going. Once we've arrived, you'll get all the answers you need."

"You're not taking me home, are you?"

"Yes, although not the home you're thinking of."

"Then I'm not going with you."

"Susanoo is not the only one who must answer the call to arms." Kazuhiko says with a look of apprehension on his face.

"Like a fight? No thanks pal. I'll just sit here until I wake up or something. This has got to be a bad dream."

Kazuhiko chuckles and gives a respectful bow.

"I assure you that this place and I are very real. I do apologize again, but we must get going." he says as he taps his belt lightly.

At that very moment a pillar of golden light encompasses the two of them and they disappear without a trace.

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@oscuro: That's funny that you named her "Reign." I mentioned a "June Reign" in my entry before I edited it- now it's "Rayne." :)

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25 hours left peeps! Get your entries in. All are welcome! :)

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The Sisters of Lakesford, Mass.

“‘The Bomb Squad 2 is an incredibly overrated sequel to an equally underrated movie.’” Summer Halfmoon read aloud. “‘Half of the characters are completely wasted, and the obnoxious amount of blood and guts makes it seem as though the director put his fourteen-year-old son in charge of the screenplay. By the half hour mark, you will probably stop caring what happens to the protagonists entirely.’”

The blonde girl put down the newspaper she was reading from. “Honestly, I think they’re being WAY too nice.”

Her sisters, Winter and Autumn, were busy finishing their breakfast.

The raven-haired Winter gulped down the last of her cereal. “Hey, did either of you find my house keys yet? I’ve been looking all over the place for them.”

Autumn had finished the last of her eggs and was now tying her bright red hair into a ponytail. “Uh, yeah, I found them in the laundry. Let them right by the sink for you.”

“Thanks,” Winter smiled. She then turned her head to the kitchen counter and spotted her keychain. She aimed her hand at it and snapped her fingers. The keys suddenly leaped across the room and landed right in her open palm.

“You know, some might consider that an abuse of magic.” Summer noted, her eyes not leaving the paper.

Winter crossed her arms defensively. “Hey, I’m just trying to stay in practice.”

Autumn checked her watch. “We should get going if we don’t want to miss our classes.”

~~~~~~

As the three sisters walked down the front steps of the Victorian house, they felt the cool air washing over them. The quaint northeastern town was always so beautiful, especially so early in the morning.

“Remind me again why WITCHES need to take University courses?” Summer asked, hoisting her book bag over her shoulder as they casually strolled down the sidewalk.

“The whole idea of magic is bending the laws of reality, right?” Winter explained. “So obviously it would really help to actually KNOW those rules, first.”

“That still doesn’t explain the English classes.” Summer argued.

“Those grimoires don’t write themselves, y’know.” Autumn pointed out. “Oh, that reminds me, I need one of you to help me pick up some potion ingredients later tonight at the usual place.”

“The one in the Lycan part of town?” Winter asked, raising an eyebrow. “You sure do seem to like going there often.”

“They carry a lot of good stuff.” The redheaded sister responded, a little defensively.

“I’ll bet she has a crush on someone who works there.” Summer giggled. “Is it that tall guy with the braid in his hair? No no, wait, it’s the girl with all the tattoos, isn’t it?”

“Did you make sure our ceremonial garbs were all clean?” Autumn asked, trying to change the subject.

Summer froze in place as her face went pale. She uttered a rather loud swear word before she continued down the street.

“You’ll still have time to do it later today.” Winter comforted her.

“Yeah, I know,” Summer groaned, “but there’s a new episode of Hyperions on tonight and I wanted to have my afternoon free for it.”

“Tell you what,” Autumn began, “you help me pick up the ingredients I need and I’ll help you with the laundry. If we help each other, we can knock them both out in half the time.”

“Deal.” Summer shook her sister’s hand. By now they had reached the university. They had arrived ahead of time, as evidenced by how very few other students were about. The three sisters departed and went off to their separate classes, each making a note of their chores for later in the day.

So this is just a little story concept I’ve been working on for a while now, and I just thought it kinda fit the whole seasonal-themed naming. I love all the classic Halloween stuff like witches and werewolves and so on. The main point I was going for here was trying to show how the supernatural stuff is just a part of everyday life for witches, like anyone's morning routine and conversations. And yes, that review she was reading was mainly just me letting off a little steam about a certain movie that came out over the summer which I REALLY didn’t care for.

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(also, sorry it's so short at 608 words)

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@cbishop: The story shall be called Summer Reign, since I couldn't think of anything clever lmfao. Her name is Natsu (Summer) Mori

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@oscuro: I wasn't suggesting you change anything. I just thought it was funny.

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12 hours left, everyone. Get your entries in- all are welcome! 11:59pm New York time is the deadline! :)

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(also, sorry it's so short at 608 words)

Don't sweat the word length. He hasn't shown up in awhile, but 4donkeyjohnson is known for short entries. I think his shortest was 12 words. ...Now that I think about it, I don't think he's shown up since he won lol... maybe once or twice after that. He won, and for his contest, he made us all write about "fire" in 50 words or less. lol

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@cbishop: great minds and all that jazz :)

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Well, I've been on an alt account doing other things, and completely forgot to call time. TIME! I'll have the voting thread up soon.