Monday, July 24, 2017

RustCity Flash Fiction: Nancy Northcott

Please welcome Alpha Heroes first-timer Nancy Northcott to the blog!  Nancy writes in a number of genres, including paranormal romance, historical fantasy, space opera, and romantic suspense. There's something for everyone!

Glad to have you here, Nancy!  Are you ready to play?

I sure am, Nicola!

Alright then! Your challenge words from Azriel are: real, mustard, backpack, tape, and demon; bonus points for using "hirpling" - which I had to google, I'm not gonna lie.

The Hunters

Part 1, by Stacy McKitrick
Part 2, by Suzanne Sabol
Part 3, by AJ Norris
Part 4, by Jillian David
Part 5, by Stephen Osborne
Part 6, by Azriel Johnson

Part 7:

Shocked froze everyone. Pain gnawing its way up Rick’s arm jerked him out of it.

“Mustard,” he snapped, shrugging out of his backpack. He fell to his knees beside it but couldn’t open the zipper with his left hand alone.

Suzie dropped down at his side. “Let me.”

Timmy stood still, staring down at his hands. “This can’t be real. I couldn’t have—I didn’t mean to.”

“We know, buddy,” Rick said. He gritted his teeth. His arm was black above his elbow, the pain already blazing in his shoulder.

Suzie flung aside duct tape, stakes, silver cross, jacket, camera, holy oil. Despite her steady, quick hands, fear tightened her face. “Rick, I can’t find—”

He rarely used the stuff, so… “Try—bottom.” Hurry, he thought but didn’t say. She was doing her best.

“Why mustard?” she asked, coming up with it at last. She popped the cap on the yellow, hourglass-shaped squeeze bottle.

“Squirt—on my arm,” he ground out. “Don’t…touch.” He had no idea what would happen if she touched that black, rapidly withering flesh, and he didn’t plan to find out.

“Don’t be an idiot.” She applied a wide, zigzagging strip up his arm. As he reached to rub it in, she grabbed the tape. “Wait. Just a second.”

Wait? When the pain was clawing into his chest, his arm turning black around his biceps? Compared to that, the pungent odor stinging his nose was nothing. Why wait?

Tearing the heavy tape with her teeth, she yanked off four strips, each four or five inches long and three wide. “Give me your hand.”

When he did, she slapped the strips across his palm and fingers, each overlapping the one before it.

“Go.” He rubbed desperately, spreading the yellow stuff. She taped her left hand and helped him.

“Your chest,” she gasped. She grabbed the rounded neckline of his worm-stained tee and yanked down hard, ripping it to the hem. More mustard went onto his chest and shoulder. Suzie spread it up his neck with great, sweeping strokes.

“Your neck’s not turning black.”

Good. The mustard had stopped the progression.

“Back,” he managed, acknowledging her with a nod.

The pain in his hand might be easing. He couldn’t tell with it roaring into his neck. His jaw.

Suzie muttered something emphatic, squirted mustard onto both hands, and slathered him with it, front and back.

“That’s all there is,” she said, frantically spreading the stuff. “I wish we had an old-fashioned jar. I can’t get the dregs out of this. Opening’s too narrow.” Again, he nodded. “’S okay,” he choked. The pain was throttling back, though slowly.


“It’s better,” he choked. “It’s better. But Suze, your left hand. No tape. You shouldn’t have.”

“There was no time. Besides, Timmy’s magic has never hurt me.”

In the haste to spread the mustard, Rick had forgotten Timmy. He looked up. The boy’s crafty expression turned to distress. Tears welled in his eyes.

Too late, sucker. I saw you. Rick pushed himself to his feet. The blackened skin was flaking off of his hand. New, pink, healthy skin now lay beneath it.

Lower lip trembling, Timmy backed up. “I’m sorry, Rick. Sorrysorrysorry.”

“Rick?” Suzie, too, stood. “What is it?”

“Mustard’s a powerful herb, Suzie. Funny thing, though. Its only use to immortals is as protection against demon magic.”

“Demon? But…” She turned to her brother.

Timmy scrambled backward, the hirpling, or limping, gait another giveaway. Rick hadn’t noticed that earlier, thanks to savoring his private moment with Suzie. And now that he thought of it, the kid’s sudden appearance was a giveaway, too.

“Timmy?” Suzie asked.

“Don’t let him hurt me,” the boy wailed, still backpedaling.

“I’m not going to hurt Timmy,” Rick said. “The demon inside him is another matter.”

I have to admit, between the blackened skin and squirting mustard, I can't help but think of the last wiener roast I took my scout troop on... but demons are no laughing matter, am I right? Come back soon to see what our next contestant makes of all this.

To read more from Nancy, check out her website - but brace yourself for a TBR influx, there's a lot going on!

Con Information:

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