Esme V. Fire

Quite happy with this one! It has magic in it, which I always enjoy.

Fireman? Firewoman? Fire…person?

Esme sighed as she approached her firetruck. The trouble with magic, she reflected, was that while it got you where you need to be quickly, that sometimes meant that you skipped over important parts of the path.

It had been a simple enough spell of purpose; she paid her fifteen hundred dollars, and in return she got given her perfect career. The career that she would enjoy the most, be most suited for…the career that would make her happy.

Purpose was a popular spell-type, and it had definitely resulted in a happier populace, but no one had mentioned to her that when it gave her the career, it would skip over everything to that point.

She knew that she was a fire…girl? No, that couldn't be right.

She knew that she worked for the fire department, for instance. The spell had given her everything she needed to know to start work – it had skipped her through training, given her all the knowledge she needed to put out fires. It had dropped all the vital information of where she worked and who her boss was, but it didn't tell her what kind of relationship she had with the chief fireman, for instance, or whether he was the sort of fellow who would appreciate a good chuckle.

But at least she'd found the job that guaranteed her the greatest amount of happiness, without having to sit in a dusty classroom (did you learn how to save people from burning buildings in a dusty classroom? She didn't even know) or worry about whether she'd make the grade or not.

So while Esme was grateful to the spell for putting her where she needed to be, she was starting to wish that she'd taken the slightly longer path. Not for the vital information, just for the details, the little bits that told her who she'd be fighting fires with.

Firefighter! That was it. She was a firefighter.

 

6MS: The City

So, uh, how obvious is it that I’ve been reading¬†Discworld?

He was obviously part of the mob.

If you didn’t know the mob like Claudia did, you would have said that was a foolish statement. You would have looked down and not seen a mid-level member of the criminal organisation that secretly ran more than four-fifths of the city.

You would have seen a dog.

But Claudia had been a beat cop for more than a century now, and if you survive that long, it’s because you know things. You know how to look past class, how to look past species.

You saw the stance, the attitude, the carefully positioned hind-legs.

And more than anything, you looked into the eyes of the beast, and you saw the criminal mind at work.

Claudia was walking a new recruit, Jacques, around the scummy side of the city. It was dangerous, but Claudia wasn’t worried – she’d been here for long enough that the people knew not to mess with her. Even the mob wouldn’t touch her, as long as she didn’t interfere with their business.

(after more than a century on the job, Claudia had learned that upholding the law and interfering with the mob’s business were, more often than not, mutually exclusive.)

And so their walk-and-talk had led them past what looked like nothing more than a dog to the untrained eye.

Claudia wasn’t sure whether to smile or roll her eyes when Jacques bent down to feed him a scrap. The dog just stared at her; to Jacques it probably looked like disinterest, but Claudia recognised the disdainful stare of a mobster being patronised by a cop.

“Howzit, Jerr?” Claudia asked, and Jacques almost fell backward in surprise when the dog answered.

“But…ze…I…”

“Ye

6MS: Good for her.

I had technical issues while writing this, got a phone call at the end, and didn't actually see the text on the photo until I'd finished…but excuses aside, I don't think it's too bad. Enjoy!

It was her masterpiece.

Jutting out of the water, everyone around could see what she'd created – what she had created.

Some, she knew, would say it was ugly. Some would say it was an eyesore. Some would say it was totally unnecessary, but she wouldn't let any of that bother her.

It was her creation, her mark on the world, and that was all that mattered.

She wouldn't live to see it, but as it happened, she was right. She left her mark, and as she'd ignored, everyone hated it. Everyone, by extension, hated her, and rarely did a day go past without someone asking “why would anyone create such a monstrosity?”

As part of the elegant simplicity of her statement (or lack thereof, depending on how you looked at it) it had no practical function. It sort of looked like it did, but that just added to its infuriating nature – at a glance, you'd wonder if someone lived there, or if it was a shop, but once you were familiar with the area, you'd know that no, no one did. No one could.

It got to the point where the locals would roll their eyes as soon as anyone asked.

“Oh,” they'd say scornfully. “*That*. Yeah, it's…no, it doesn't do anything.”

And so in a way, she succeeded. Her creation outlived her. She left her mark, she ensured that no one would ever forget her, that no one who saw it would ever doubt that she was there.

It was knocked down over two hundred years later. But two hundred years, that's more than most people get.

Good for her.

 

6MS: Forensics

Officer Malone stopped at the doorway of the house.

“Do you smell that?” she asked.

The rest of the team paused as well. There was no reason for any unusual scent to be present, but they’d learned over time to trust Malone’s senses; she’d built up such a reputation for her instincts that some of the newbies were actually afraid to go near her, afraid that she’d be able to unearth some deeply-buried skeleton in their past.

No one did, but just to be safe, gas-masks were applied to everyone but Malone herself, and the team pressed forward.

The first body was laid-out neatly; hands across her chest, carefully placed on the bed. As if to contrast her, the other body hadn’t been cleaned, hadn’t been moved – and definitely hadn’t been preserved.

Malone reeled in disgust as the smell all but overwhelmed her sensitive nose, but didn’t run from the room, didn’t don the gas mask hanging around her neck. She gave herself a few minutes to adjust, and then sniffed once more.

“Mint,” she mused, but before she could investigate the unusual smell, spotted the gun.

She gestured with her eyes, and a member of the forensics team reached down to

6MS: Herself

For reasons beyond my feeble understanding, I’ve been exhausted for a few days. But now I’m back, and full of pep and vigour! Here, have a six-minute story. I quite like this one.

Until now, she’d never thought of herself as pretty.

Truth be told, until a year ago, she’d never thought of herself as all. The concept of self was one that she’d been struggling with for the past twelve months, and she was finally starting to get a grip on it.

The first step had been coming up with a name for herself. Her entire life, she’d been referred to as “that lot”, or, at best, “the taller group”. She’d been part of a team…a slightly taller team than the other teams, true, but a minor difference in height does not self-identity make.

When the Crob had come and shut down the entire operation, they’d been let free.

Most of the girls hadn’t coped well.

But her, she was resolute. It was a quality she didn’t know that she had, but now she was starting to recognise that it had been within her all along. She was going to make it through, and if that meant coming to terms with her own identity, then that was what it was going to take.

“We’ll make it through,” she’d told herself for the first six months, before finally breaking the habit. The rest of the group, the other very-slightly-taller girls, they weren’t with her any more. It was no longer “we”, it was “I”, and that was the hardest thing to cope with.

The advantages had been hard to notice, for a long time, but eventually she had begun to take delight in her talent. She had skill…she did, individually, personally. It wasn’t her team that were responsible for the fact that she could do things well, it was just her.

And so she’d come up with a name. “Talent”. It was perhaps a bit egotistical (another concept that she struggled to wrap her head around) but she’d been assured by the counsellors that if anyone could err on the side of arrogance, it was her. Her and the rest of the girls.

And today, for the first time, Talent had realised that she was pretty. Not gorgeous, not stunning…but definitely pretty. She’d been aware that some of the men her team served were more appealing than others, that subjective appraisal of attractiveness existed, and she even knew that the taller group were occasionally chosen for exactly that reason…but the idea of her, Talent, being pretty?

Until now, she’d never thought of it. But once the idea come into her head, it wasn’t leavin

Ambition Is

It’s a writing day today! The current trend in erotica is BBW – Big, Beautiful Women – so I’m going to try my hand at a story about a large woman having some sexy, sexy times. To warm up, here’s a six-minute story about death:

The chill of the water slowly crept up his trunk, until it reached his tusks. He couldn’t move…not that he even wanted to, any more.

They had won.

He’d faced adversary ever since he’d announced his intentions. At first from his parents, then from his friends, until he was the laughing-stock of the whole herd.

“How are you going to pole-vault?” they’d sneered. “You don’t have any arms!”

“You think they’re going to let you in the Olympics!? Ha! You don’t even speak the same language as the humans…how are you even going to communicate your intentions?”

His parents had tried to discourage his dreams, and eventually turned away from him in disappointment. His friends had laughed, and soon been joined by others, until it was no longer the friendly laughter of mates, but the cruel jeers of a group of bullies.

But Trey had been undeterred.

He’d left the herd, he’d started off towards the nearest human village, and on the way he’d practiced. He’d vaulted over ice banks, and walruses…he’d vaulted over everything he could, and tried to vault over several things that he couldn’t.

The mammoth had been so enthused, so blinded by his passion that when the snakes – mortal enemies of his kind – had promised him that they had an “in” with the committee, he’d believed them.

And look at where it had left him. Under the water, freezing to death.

6MS: Hardly Daring, But Daring Enough

Today’s SixMinuteStory. This is the first time that I’ve reached the end of one of these and gone “Oh man, I want to know what happens next!”. Here’s the prompt:

The daring were punished.

It seemed almost contradictory, but that was how They wanted it. Ever since the capital-t-They had taken over it, a systematic reduction of risk-taking had been put into place, until the daring were trained not to dare, the mavericks removed and replaced with the mundane.

My sister Joan had wanted to be a baker. You would think that was sufficiently uninteresting for Them, but you’d be wrong – I have no idea how They found out, but after a few bottles of wine at my house, she told me her dream of opening her own bakery. She hadn’t even applied for a loan yet, but They took her.

They took her, and They whipped her.

My sister Joan came back broken. She still smiled, but the laughter was gone, and so was the dream. When she was offered a position at one of the big chains, assistant baker in the back room, she leapt at the opportunity, and she even seemed happy.

Fortunately, I’ve never been daring. I’ve never had lofty dreams, never wanted to fly too close to the sun. I’ve always been happy enough with the status quo, and so for the longest time I assumed I was safe.

And then, of course, I met him.

He wasn’t even a high risk, but if Joan’s experience had taught me anything, it was that barely daring is too daring, and so as soon as I saw him, as soon as I realised my heart was fluttering and nervously wondered if he’d noticed me noticing him, I knew I was screwed.

He worked in painting, I was an accountant. It’s not Romeo and Juliet, but it’s daring enough…

6MS: The Sepia Girl

I like today’s. I didn’t feel any need to rush. It’s a repeated piece of stimulus, but quite a different story to the last time I used it.

The sepia girl smiled at me as I tucked her photograph back into my wallet.

I’d found it several years ago, inside a book in a box on a table at a garage sale. I hadn’t ended up buying anything from the sale, but I’d taken the photo. I suppose you could say it was stealing, but I’ve never thought about it that way.

She seemed lonely. I was just taking her from a life spent between pages on the Ottoman Empire, with me. I travel a lot, and a part of me wanted her to see the world.

I know it’s just my imagination, but ever since I’d rescued her from a life spent reading the same few historical paragraphs over and over, something about her smile had seemed more genuine, less forced.

The first time, I’d been in the middle of Morocco, and I’d pulled my wallet out to pay for a trinket or a coffee or something, and seen her there tucked between my US bills and the local currency. I’d pulled her out, and shown her the world, so different from the one she was used to.

Since then, any time I had to use cash or show ID, I’d show my sepia girl where I was, what I was doing. The photograph of the smiling girl had probably seen more of the world than the real girl ever had. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I wasn’t sure about how I felt about how attached I was to her, either.

It’s just a photograph, I know that. But I gave her a name, and showed her the world, and it made me feel good. I’m not crazy, I’m normally not even sentimental. But why stop yourself from doing something silly and pointless if it makes you feel less lonely?

I call her Jane.

6MS: Snips and the Rats

This one started autobiographically but then the inspiration sparked and it went in a different direction.

When I was a child, we used to have pet mice. The first one was called Snips and I don’t remember how or why, but we had it for a few weeks and then it died.

According to Grandpop, who is not the most reliable storyteller…no, that’s not quite true. He’s a reliable storyteller, he’s just not the most reliable truthteller. According to Grandpop, Snips didn’t die of any ordinary mouse cause of death.

Snips died because he got in with the wrong type of animal.

Again, I’ll stress that this is all according to Grandpop, not something I saw with my own eyes. Grandpop will swear black and blue that it’s true, but he says that on the first night that Snips arrived home, the little creature found a way to escape the cage that my sisters and myself lovingly made for him, and worked out how to gnaw his way into the wall.

Into the wall where, in Grandpop’s words, “the rats abide.”

I never saw these abiding rats, but I did once or twice see mum putting rat poison out, so there might actually be a kernel of truth in the centre of Grandpop’s elaborate tale. Grandpop says (and I never questioned how he knew the details, but I’m sure he would have been able to give me an answer if I had) that Snips entered as the rats were playing cards in their abode.

Snips, being the friendly sort, asked to be dealt in, and to everyone’s surprise (not least of all Snips’) he was good. No, more than good. He was practically Rain Mouse. No matter what the game, no matter what he was dealt, Snips managed to bluff his way through, play the odds expertly, and by the end of the evening, the abiding rats owed Snips more than a house full of cheese.

The next morning, our first full day with Snips, I do remember him being tired, but I’m not saying that means that Grandpop’s story was true…

6MS: The Girl At The Market

I’m in a strange mood today, and don’t really want to do anything. So I’m forcing myself to write; I think today’s 6MS reflects that, not in quality, but in tone. Enjoy?

Sixteen years, almost to the day. He wasn’t sure what was worse: how sad it was, or the fact that he knew how sad it was.

If only he could be one of those losers who didn’t know¬†they were losers – a self-deluded idiot. Sure, they get laughed at by the world, but at least they’re happy in and of themselves. They don’t know that their dream is unreachable, that they’re doomed to spending the rest of their life watching something they can’t have.

Tom Hamil had been selling flowers for sixteen years at the same shop, in the same market, staring at the same girl. At first it had been a sort of cute crush – he’d look at the tanned beauty, imagine what it would be like to go over and talk to her.

Once the six-month mark had passed, he knew that he couldn’t go and introduce himself now. It had been too long, and he was okay with that. He didn’t know her name, but in his mind, he’d summoned up the courage to go over and chat, and now they were dating, “going steady”, maybe even talking about love.

After two years had gone by, Tom had started to grow aware of how sad his crush was. He’d started dreaming about the girl, picturing them moving in together, getting engaged. He sometimes wished that the dream wouldn’t end, that he didn’t have to wake up to a world where he’d never even said “hi” to the girl, where she knew him only as the guy in green…if she even knew that much.

After five years, she’d disappeared for a few weeks, and he’d simultaneously been crushed and pleased – he missed her, sad though that was, but maybe now that she was gone he could move on with his life.

When she’d returned, it had been with a wedding ring on her finger, and he knew that whatever infinitely small chance he’d ever had was now also gone.