The Secret Garden

(About 1000 words)

“You sure you’ll be okay, honey?”

Danny looked up from his copy of The Secret Garden. Again. He smiled and nodded. Again.

“Come on, Winnie! The market closes in an hour and a half!” His dad called from the other room.

“Coming!” She looked at her son. They’d be back in an hour or so, sure, but this was the first time they were leaving him alone. She had every right to be worried.

“There’s some leftover meatloaf in the microwave if you get hungry,” she said for the twentieth time, “and remember—”

“Don’t let in strangers, don’t go out into the backyard, and if Doormat barks, only check from the balcony. I remember, mom.”

Winnie smiled. Her little boy was growing up fast. It seemed like yesterday that she was teaching him to say his name.

Meanwhile, John came in. “Winnie, let’s go.

“I was coming, just—”

“Danny’s a big boy now.” He went in and ruffled his son’s hair. “Almost eight, am I right?”

“Yes, daddy.” He smiled.

“You be good, Dan.”

“I will.”

Danny saw them off and bolted the door. Their deep blue Chevy screeched away and finally, for the first time ever, he was alone.

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Marked Difference

(About 1000 words)

“Uber for Mark?” the handsome middle-aged passenger peeked through the front window. The driver took one look at him and almost fainted.

“You’re… you’re Mark Romero, right? Agent Mark Romero?”

Romero sighed. It had been fun at first, but now it was starting to get seriously annoying. Damn that Tina for convincing him to get on TV.

“That’s the one.”

If the driver could’ve jumped, he would have.

“Omigod, sir, big fan, sir, big fan—”

“Thanks, now, I need to—”

“The way you busted that coke ring, sir, saw it on TV sir, heroic, absolutely fantastic.”

“Yes, thank you, flattered; now listen to me—what’s your name?”

“Kevin, sir, at your service.” The man actually saluted.

“Look, Kevin, I have my nephew’s wedding to get to, now, and Juárez’s nearly three hours away. I’m running an hour late already, so I’ll make you a deal– you step on it, and I’ll tell you about that cocaine ring on the way. How does that sound?”

Kevin took a second to take the panicked man’s information in. “Very good, sir, very good. Hop in.”

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Platypus

‘Say the word and there is light, say the word and dead bones rise…’

Nick turned it off. What a load of crap. This was the exclusive, yet-unreleased music Ralph was going on about?

He took his earphones out. Why was he listening to it again? He’d already listened to it once, been appalled by it, and was now replaying it. Gabe, Mike, Ralph- they’d all be proud of him if they knew what he was listening to, but Nick didn’t want them to be proud. All he wanted… he let go of that thought. He’d been over it multiple times. It was clear they weren’t going to listen to him.

Nevertheless, he walked over to where Big G was tinkering with his toolbox. Not to try and tell him- not now, anyway- but to get something to do. He was bored, and he couldn’t listen to the crappy music on Ralph’s Walkman anymore.

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Killing the Creator (part 20)

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“She knows, Al.”

I closed the door of the motel room behind me. Al was sitting cross-legged on his bed with his eyes closed and his brow slightly furrowed. He looked like he was meditating, but I knew better. He was going through the pictures in his iris-cam.

He opened his eyes to look straight at me. “What?”

“She knows.”

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Killing the Creator (part 19)

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Reminder: If you haven’t yet, submit your entry for The Raw Poetry Contest. The deadline’s 14th June 11:59 P.M. IST, so hurry.

It’d been a week since Al almost died. He was back to normal now and seeing how much he’d missed out on the ‘fun’ activity of researching in my absence, I’d convinced him to look up more about the midnight man at the cyber cafe, while I went to play with the girl we’d tried to kill. Correction: were trying to kill.

But the Creator wasn’t playing today. Pragya had gone to visit a relative with her parents, and that left her just me to play with.

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Killing the Creator (part 18)

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My thoughts were interrupted by Al’s harsh whispers from the inside.

“Spruce!” He sounded quite tense- like he’d messed up something.

Oh shit. Not again.

I hurried in. The Creator was still asleep, thank god, but Al looked like he’d seen a ghost. He was clutching his left arm, the syringe lying half-empty on the floor at his feet.

My hand automatically clapped over my mouth.

“Did you…”

“Yes. Now hurry.”

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Killing the Creator (part 16)

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Katherine Marlow sat down against a cybernetically-enhanced ash tree, clutched her knees and put on her best helpless face. Frankly, she was offended by the fact that in spite of being a silver-badge warrior, she was chosen to do this lowly job. But of course, orders aren’t meant to be questioned.

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Killing the Creator (part 15)

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Al gulped. “Tell me you’re just messing with me, Spruce.”

“I wish I could, Al.” I spread my hands. “But that’s what they all said.”

“They could be lying,” he said hopefully.

“I hope for our sakes they were.”

“Isn’t there any way to, like, sever the connection?”

“Not that I know of.” I sighed. “I think our best course of action now would be to poison the Creator and get the hell out of here soon as we can. Maybe the midnight man will abandon us if we travel to a different world altogether.”

“Maybe? We can’t risk our asses on a ‘maybe’, Spruce.”

“I personally prefer ‘maybe we’ll live’ to ‘we will definitely die’.”

Al gave his trademark slight frown which indicated he agreed with me but didn’t want to say so.

“Right then. Let’s see where botox gets us.”

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