I hope you all have been enjoying the GRL Featured Blog Tour this year. We at Prism have been honored to be a part of it! As part of our #TeamPrism countdown to GRL I issued a challenge to the authors who have visited us throughout the year on the tour. Some couldn’t participate, but many took the challenge. I gave them each the same prompt and asked them to write a flash fic of 500 words, give or take a few hundred.
Benders by Angel Martinez
The digs are top shelf, no denying. They give us clean linens every day, swanky beds, more pillows than any one man could use, food I would’ve killed for off registry. Would be great if we weren’t “subjects” and if the damn trials weren’t so awful. Better than being labeled unstable and put down like a dog. At least it’s some kind of living.
Benders, the media decided to call us a few years back. It happened after that weird, huge sunspot. Some people just started being able to change weird shit about the reality around them. Never big things or useful things. I melt concrete. It goes liquid under my hands when I think hard enough. Stupid, right? The guy sharing my suite? I don’t know what he does. It’s not like they let us talk to each other.
He’s asleep now. That’s why I can watch him through the glass door of our communal bath. I get to have the bathroom when he’s on sleep cycle and the door locks on his side. He gets it when I sleep. I don’t know if I hope he watches me too or not. It’s kinda creepy. I can’t stop watching him, though. Perfect. Art perfect, you know? Right down to the tattoo on his arm, and his face, at least in sleep, looks like someone you could trust.
I just finished jacking off to that face. Again. Stupid, yeah, but I’ve always been good at torturing myself. He’s the one good thing about this place, the reward I give myself for surviving the day. His day must’ve been a bad one. The muscles in his legs and back twitch, his forehead is creased like he’s having a bad dream. Poor guy. Probably some kind of electrical torture today.
His fists clench, legs moving restlessly. I realize I’ve pressed both palms against the glass, wishing I could comfort him. And where the hell did that come from? Jer doesn’t care about anyone but Jer.
The lights go out. Crap. That’s never happened before. I can still see, though. Light filters in through the barred window, so it’s not a citywide blackout. There’s a snick to my right and I wonder…yeah, the door opens for me. I’m in his bedroom, where I’ve wanted to be for days now.
“Hey?” I take a step toward the bed.
He jerks upright with a strangled cry. “Fuck!”
“It’s okay. Power went out. I’m your, ah, roommate. Shower mate. From next door.”
“Oh. Hey.” His teeth flash in the dark. I guess that’s a smile. “I’ve wondered what your voice sounds like.”
He did? Huh. “I’m Jer. Short for Jericho. I melt concrete.”
“Good for you.” He sounds more confused than sarcastic. “I’m Max. Short for…Max. I think I made the power go out.”
“You think you did?”
“I only do bendy stuff when I sleep. When I have nightmares.”
That’s gotta be the weirdest one I’ve heard yet. “Do the Institute assholes know?”
Max shakes his head. There might have been a little hitch of breath, but I’m not sure. “No. The brainwave scan says I’m a bender, but they can’t figure it out. They…escalated the research today.”
“Figured something like that. Didn’t look like you had a good day.” Pisses me off something fierce, too, and I don’t know why. They can do what they want to me. I never expected to live past thirty. But this man with the beautiful face and the soft, puzzled voice? No. They’re not allowed to hurt him anymore. Not gonna let it go another day.
I take another step into the room. “Hey, listen. While the power’s off, the zappers on the windows are gonna be down. We’re only on the third floor. Wanna get out of here?”
His head jerks up. I wish I could see his expression. Then he sighs. “We still can’t get through the bars.”
“Concrete melter, remember?” I crack my knuckles. This would be the time to do it. When the power comes back on, I’d get zapped across the room if I tried it. “You game? We can run, far and fast. Get out of the city. Find someplace to hunker down in the wild.”
“But it’s…” He gets up and starts pulling on the track suit they give us to wear here. “All right. I was going to say it’s dangerous out there, but we’ll die in here soon, right?”
“Right. Don’t nobody ever come out of this place. Like a roach trap.” I’m hurrying back to my side of the suite as I talk, getting my clothes on, too. “Benders walk in, they don’t walk out.”
I open my window and rip the screen out before I start melting the concrete around the bars. Sweat drips from my forehead, my arms shaking because I have to hurry. The concrete only stays soft so long and I have to get all the way around. Then Max is beside me, wrapping his hands around the bars and pulling, hard biceps bulging.
“We got this.” His whisper near my ear sends a shiver down my back. “Keep going.”
With a grunt and a last yank, the bars fly free and Max ends up on his ass next to my bed. A laugh gets away from me as I help him up, but he’s smiling, too. I keep hold of his hand—can’t seem to help that either. “Ready to blow this dump? No more electrodes and probes? No more ‘discovery sessions’ to push you to your limits? No more weird drugs?”
Max leans in and plants a quick peck on my cheek, just a brush of lips but it burns clear through me. “Let’s go.” He hesitates, then pulls me to the window. “Even if we don’t make it—”
“We’re gonna make it. There’ll be others trying to get out. They’ll have their hands full. But no one knows this city like Jericho Jones.” I nudge him with an elbow. “You first. Right behind you.”
With a bright laugh, Max shimmies out the window and drops safely. The landing jars my ankles, but nothing breaks. I grab his hand and we race off into the night as the sirens start to wail from the Institute’s roof. This might even work, this whole saving Max thing. Even if we don’t make it, this is worth it, to feel alive again.
About the Author:
Angel Martinez, the unlikely black sheep of an ivory tower intellectual family, has managed to make her way through life reasonably unscathed. Despite a wildly misspent youth, she snagged a degree in English Lit, married once and did it right the first time, (same husband for over twenty-five years) and gave birth to one amazing son (now in college.) While Angel has worked, in no particular order, as a state park employee, retail worker, medic, LPN, call center zombie, banker, and corporate drone, none of these occupations quite fit.
She now writes full time because she finally can, and has been happily astonished to have her work place consistently in the annual Rainbow Awards. Angel currently lives in Delaware in a drinking town with a college problem and writes Science Fiction and Fantasy centered around gay heroes.
Facebook Author Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/495188947277007/
Author Tour Stops:
|J. P. Barnaby||23-May|
|Jamie Lynn Miller||11-Sep|
As part of the countdown to GRL, one lucky commenter on the #TeamPrism Flash Fiction posts will win a $25 All Romance eBooks Gift card!
Contest ends 25 Oct 2014 at 11:59pm CDT. Must be 18 or old, void where prohibited.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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