Another 55 hours, another 500 words. The tight schedule was even more compressed this time by two day trips to Sydney – one for work, the other for the So You Want To Be A Writer Live event – but I managed to get it done, and I’m cautiously optimistic this can be expanded into something else. There was a bit of experimentation with second person I don’t think I’ll continue with though.
Conditions: Had to be at a party, had to contain the phrase ‘The air was thick with. . .,’ and had to include a button. Enjoy!
Long, yellow fingers reach towards you, close enough to smell the nicotine that had stained them over the years.
“It used to be a giant fishbake, once a jacket got it.”
You slap the offending fingers away, the Cursed man barely noticing.
“Sarge, don’t engage.” Snider. You scowl darker than a Cursed life at your partner. You’re no rookie, you know how to deal with him.
“Get out,” you order him. Georg, you tell yourself. He has a name. You knew him, before the Curse and Gift. He was a cop too. Your squad. Before.
“Where is it?”
“Out,” you repeat. He doesn’t move. Blank eyes stare back, innocently expecting help. You stare back, looking for a semblance of the old Georg behind them.
“Curse did a number on him.” Fuck’s sake, Snider, it did a number on us all, you think. She’s Gifted though. Almost indestructible, she only sees him as Cursed, the price of her unwanted Gift.
“What can’t you find?” you ask.
Georg’s eyes light up. You’re probably the first to take him seriously in years
You ignore Snider.
“My button! Where is it?”
“Out there.” You point to an exit, and the man follows, babbling gleefully to himself.
She’s scared. Understandably so. Your mission is critical to her as much as other Gifted. The fact she has to work with and Un – Ungifted, Uncursed – must irk her. After all, only an Un would plant a bomb so highly engineered to harm Gifted as well.
“Let’s go.” She’s perturbed but follows you to the stairwell anyway.
“Where to?” Her tone’s light, but you hear the background seriousness. She’s in mode. Hyper-alert and tense.
“Third floor. Main ballroom.”
“You taking me to a party, Sarge?”
“We can dance later. Look for a trigger. It’s an Un bomb, they’ll want to detonate remotely.”
She grunts back.
You climb the stairs, ensuring you stay behind her. For a moment you wonder if the Curse was worth it – no armour could match the protection offered by Gifted. What about the price though? Does it make it okay because you aren’t Cursed?
You enter the ballroom to find music, dancing, and Gifted generally celebrating their underserved talents.
“Police,” – you show your badge – “Please evacuate in an orderly fashion, we need to sweep for explosives.”
Some hear, some laugh. All of them ignore you.
“Told you they wouldn’t listen,” Snider mutters. Of course. They think they’re invincible.
“The air was thick with light and juices.”
What the hells?
“Sarge! What’s he doing here?”
“Hey! Your button is outside!” Get out! you plead internally.
He cocks his head to the side, looking amused.
“My button? But I found my button!”
Delighted, he opens his hand to show a small cylinder with a red button.
“Georg! Give that here!” You and Snider simultaneously lunge for the trigger.
“My button!” Georg sings as he dances out of reach. “My button,” you hear as a long, nicotine-stained finger slowly presses down.