Thursday, July 20, 2017

RustCity Flash Fiction: Azriel Johnson, Part 2

Azriel Johnson is back for an encore presentation of Five Words, this time for the Hunters story. I think he's getting the hang of this!

As it turns out, Mr. Johnson isn't the chattiest of players so we're going to jump right into the story, which, admittedly, is pretty exciting. So here we go!

Challenge words:  Furnace, Silver, Schoolyard, Drumming, and Chili.  Bonus points if you can work in the word kumquat.

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:

Tommy’s face illuminated in kumquat shaded fire. He barely heard his sister call for him to turn around, rather, something instinctual moved him, like drumming in his crappy garage band. A rhythm beat in his chest, and even with the furnace fire heat, he wasn’t afraid.

Before the two of them stood a scaled, spiked-skinned demon. Rick ran at the short wall of the grave, bounding off of the mud wall and landing on the grass behind Tommy and Suzie. He recognized the beast’s form immediately as a Jikininki, a Japanese corpse-eating ghoul, but the coloring was wrong. Typically, they presented with purple skin and no fire surrounding them. Rick had never seen this variety.

“Tommy, get away from that!” Suzie yelled. She rushed forward, almost as if in slow motion. Rick, too, felt a sluggishness he had not felt before.

The beast had no hindrance whatsoever. With a roar it brought its huge, clawed hands down towards Tommy. The boy, instinctively, punched forward into the chest of the ghoul. The roar caught in its wretched throat. The beast crumbled to dust, like silver staking a vampire.

Rick and Suzie stopped in their tracks. Tommy brushed off the ghoul dust. He coughed a little. It tickled a little, like chili powder. “So, that was weird, huh?” Tommy said, to slack-jawed Suzie and Rick.

“Tommy,” Suzie asked. “How did you learn to do that?”

“Learn to do what?” Tommy asked. “I don’t even really know what I did.”

Rick asked, “So Tommy, those stones you were talking about over by the crypt. Take us to them.”

Tommy lead his sister and her mentor to the crypt. Surrounding it were a few different tombstones which did, indeed, look like they mottled with holes. Rick said, “Let me see your hands.”

Tommy held up his left hand. Rick grabbed it and held the boy’s pointer finger up to the holes. Each hole matched the size of Tommy’s finger. The one tombstone Tommy started to mention looked like it had been reduced to dust. “Tommy,” Rick asked. “Were you poking these tombstones?”

The boy looked sheepishly at Rick. “Yes, sir.”

Rick looked at Suzie. Suzie was baffled. Rick turned back to Tommy. “I need you to poke them again.”

“Okay,” Tommy said quietly, ashamed. He pressed his pointer finger into a tombstone. Immediately, the stone his finger touched turned to dust.

Rick examined Tommy’s clothes, none of them looked burned. “Are you wearing cotton or polyester?”

“Cotton, I think, why?”

Rick looked at Tommy’s shoes. They were sandals and looked leather.

“Rick,” Suzie said. “What’s going on?”

“I think Tommy...” Rick paused, “has the ability to break down dead objects and creatures by touching them.”

To Tommy, Rick pointed off to the left and said, “Go put your hand on the tree.”

Tommy looked nervous. “A-are you sure? I don’t want to hurt it.”

“Trust me,” Rick said. Tommy walked to the tree and lightly laid his hand on the bark. Nothing happened.

“That explains a lot,” Rick said. “If something is living, it’s safe. If something’s dead, it turns to dust. That explains why Suzie was okay when you pulled her out.”

“I’ve touched, not… alive…, things before,” Tommy said. “Monkey bars in the schoolyard, for example.”

“Maybe this is a recent development, sometimes puberty can be a trigger for latent abilities. When did you start noticing weirdness when you touched objects?”

Tommy kicked at the ground. He wasn’t exactly comfortable with puberty talk.

Rick let the matter drop for now. “Tell you what, we’re going to find out what exactly is going on and we’re going to learn to control it. Maybe even harness it. Who knows, Tommy, you might become more welcome on our hunting trips than you ever imagined.”

Rick reached forward to shake hands with Tommy, his previous annoyance dissipated with this new conundrum. Tommy smiled and extended his hand to meet Rick’s. They clasped hands, and Rick’s almost immediately turned black.

Well that seems awfully inconvenient, now doesn't it? Is this the end for Rick the Worm Hunter? You'll have to come back here to find out!

For more information about Azriel Johnson, check out his webpage

Con Information:

Don’t miss your chance to meet some amazing authors at Rust City Book Con next August! Come join us as we celebrate the authors who write the stories we love to read in the Motor City!
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