Flash Fiction Collection
Flash Fiction Collection
Published by Christian Reisig at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 Christian Reisig
Table of Contents
What do you get the guy who has everything?
A change of pace, I suppose.
“We have a transfer student,” the teacher says.
It’s a classroom setting, packed with uniformed students in six columns, all facing me. It’s indicative of the Prussian-Industrial compulsory model, created to mandate a standard of education among serfs. A constrictive model, to be sure, but peasant children being sent to industrial and rural labor wasn’t uplifting, either. Ultimately, the end-results were good—it did do wonders for Prussia’s literacy rates. The model even went on to be adopted by nations like the USA and Japan.
Of course, there was room for improvement.
I nod my head to my peers—I can barely contain my smile at the thought—and in turn, meet their gazes.
“My name is Oz,” I lie.
The teacher, a clean-cut, bright-eyed man, returns my smile and says, “And tell us, Oz—what do you hope to get out of this class?”
My eye tracks the girl in the back of the classroom, her visage only slightly obscured by the holo-screen in front of her. Her dark eyes are still, locked onto me, small, peach-colored lips compressed together in an oval porcelain face. She is exceptionally beautiful, and the back of my neck prickles with revulsion.
“I hope to get along with you all,” I say, meeting the gazes of everybody else again. “I’ve always been interested in our era’s history, and I truly believe we live in the most prosperous of them all. I hope to learn what made it like so and to contribute properly to it in the future. For the glory of Sion.”
The students salute at the mention of my name, and I try to contain my giddiness. What am I, a little schoolboy?
The teacher clears his throat. “Very inspirational, Oz. You can take your seat—”
A screech sounds from the back of the room as a chair scrapes across the floor. Lily is standing, a look of resolute fury distorting her crystalline features, like the façade is ready to crack. Her full height is hilariously pitiful—she is barely half my length, like a child.
“Why did you come here?” she demands, jabbing an accusatory finger at me.
“Lily, sit down,” the teacher says, his voice rising to match her intensity.
“Do you not recognize him?” Lily shakes her arm at me, as if they don’t know where to look. “That is Sion.”
Her tiny hands fly across her desk, tapping at keys only her AR-sight can see, and the opacity of her holo-screen hardens—and she brings up a 3-dimensional image. It is Sion in a white suit, white boots and gloves. A flowing white cape hangs from the shoulders, almost blending in with the New Order flag swaying in the background. Sion’s face is regal, a strong jaw jutting forward, his eye looking imperiously down on the surrounding students, the other masked by an eye-patch.
I reach up and brush the silver hair around my patch. A grin has split my face without my recognizing it. What a crude gesture.
Yes, the image is of I, Sion. It’s a good one, too. They got all my good sides.
Of course, the expressions of my peers—subjects, I should say—are of shock.
“What are you saying?” I say, loudly and clearly . “Student Oz and Leader Sion are not the same person.” I outstretch my arms. “Is that not self-evident?”
“Yeah,” a student says, his reverential mien gone without a trace. “Are you kidding? They look nothing alike.”
“I don’t see it, Lily,” a girl says.
“Please sit down or you’ll receive a demerit,” the teacher says.
Lily’s mouth is open with disbelief. She tries to issue a sound, anything at all, but can only manage an indignant squeak. I laugh without meaning to.
When I get a hold of myself again, she is stalking down the columns of desks toward me.
“Lily,” the teacher says again, mustering the last of his sternness. “This is your final warning.”
I turn to him. “Pay her no attention.”
He nods, a dimness falling over his bright eyes like a curtain. “No harm done.”
Lily reaches me and has to crane her neck to communicate her righteous glare. “Why have you come here? What have you done to them?”
Indeed, the class has become non-responsive, the students adopting glazed eyes as they subconsciously attempt to ignore Lily’s outbursts.
“I can direct bits of ‘code,’ I say. “My voice triggers bioelectrical signals, and can infect their programming. No, ‘infect’ isn’t the word to use—override, maybe.”
Lily seethes. “You’re controlling them?”
“Don’t be so surprised. Do you think they were really controlling themselves? Does a robot input its own commands?”
“They are not robots.”
“Aren’t they, though?”
We are in our little bubble as the teacher starts doling out page numbers and our classmates start rifling through their textbooks. Though Lily and I stand center-stage in the front of the class, we are invisible to them. Student Lily no longer exists to them—and so long as she is interacting with me, I might as well have been blotted out.
“This is how you do it,” she sneers. “This is how you stole the world.”
“Stole it?” I hum thoughtfully. “That would mean it belonged to someone before me.”
“Let them go. Give them their minds back.”
“I haven’t taken anything from them. They are free to refuse my suggestion at any moment. Just as you have.”
“That is a lie,” Lily hisses.
And she isn’t wrong. Never has a human refused a direct order from me. As soon as I learned words, they became the actions of others. Strong though this girl’s will may be, it’s extremely doubtful her insusceptibility stems from it. My ability is innately biological, which can only mean there is something about her make-up that makes her unique.
I tower over her, and for the first time since I entered the classroom, looking at her doesn’t give me chills. Now, she appears like a fidgeting mouse, caught in the cat’s snare.
“You are a prideful girl,” I say. “But that’s not enough. Eventually, you will break, too. They all do.”
“Don’t talk to me of pride,” she says. “You’re a demon.”
“Maybe I am,” I say, grasping her shoulders and squirms in my grip. “But even Lucifer didn’t descend for pride. He fell because he was pushed.”
With a light shove, she falls backward and our bubble dissipates.
Own Little World
As the morning sun crept over the horizon, piercing the veil of the forest trees, Leif knew his trepidations were correct: nothing had attempted to eat him even once.
Leif rose to his feet with a grunt and dusted the pancaked dirt from his pant legs. More and more, this seemed like a waste of time. But what other alternative was there to him?
With a flick of his wrist, an ember of light materialized, only a flicker, and so transparent that the little sunlight penetrating the darkness made it hard to make out. Leif was glad, then, that he was alone in the darkness of the forest.
He’d never been proficient at summoning mana, and at eighteen years, he’d finally given up on any burgeoning hopes of that changing. Some people had it all, some people did not. He understood that.
But still it infuriated him.
He had so little mana in him that, apparently, even the orcs infesting the forbidden vestiges of the Outer Forest were disinterested. He’d waited since the witching hour, in plain view of any beast, for anything—anything—to make a move on him. For nearly six hours.
Not even a rustle.
This was the story going back a week now. He’d wait for his father to finally wrap up preparations for the bakery and settle down for the night, sneak out, take the trek into the forest, find a good, open spot amongst those creepy, ominously beckoning trees—and wait.
He was ready, of course. He didn’t go too far into the depths of the forest—he wasn’t that desperate. He remained only on the fringe, waiting for one of the weaker varieties of orc. The orcs were said to be large, but slow and fumbling. He’d never seen one before, but the combat mages back in town certainly didn’t think too highly of them. Maybe he’d run into a goblin this far in—they were smaller but slightly craftier, though he’d never heard of a lethal run-in with one. Any further into the forest might very well be suicide, but perhaps it was time to consider it?
No, Leif reprimanded himself. He needed target practice—being the target practice for beasts faster than he could ever hope to be wasn’t conducive to that. At least, that’s what he was telling himself for now. It was a real hit to the self-esteem when even an orc didn’t deem you worthy of mauling.
Leif studied his mana materialization—a flat square tablet that glowed a faint blue, with the usual Altorian runes plastered across it. His personal interface, he called it, or PI, for short. His spell was still running perfectly in standby mode, which raised his spirits a little. If any beasts had stepped within ten meters of him, it should’ve gone off, sending a coordinated barrage of firestreams at it. Well, not that he had the mana reserves for a barrage, or, well, actual streams—maybe one or two decently sized fireballs. Enough to put down an orc, he wagered. And it would’ve done it automatically, without his direct input.
Of course, if a mage slayed an orc in a forest without lifting a finger and nobody was around to see it, was it still a spectacularly awesome feat? Leif let the interface dissipate, deactivating the fire spell. It would be enough. There was a reason he was out here alone, and it wasn’t because Mr. Miller wouldn’t let him use his straw to make combat dummies.
This is illegal.
Maybe. Only a little illegal, if at all, Leif reassured himself. What he was doing—or trying to do—was technically consider mana-manipulation, which was . . . frowned upon, to say the least.
But only because they don’t know what I can do with it. A self-activating spell—it would be revolutionary. A first in all of Altorian history. Sure, there were magic circles that only activated when imbued with mana, but a spell that activated itself when an “if-then” condition was met?
Leif’s disappointment was already being thrown to the wayside, replaced with a giddiness he could barely contain, though he’d managed for a week so far, since he’d used a self-activating spell to light the bakery ovens. It’d burnt the bread inside to a crisp, and nearly blew the oven out, and yes, his father had been furious for days, but his father didn’t know the extent of what Leif had accomplished.
They’ll see. Leif smiled to himself, patting his pant legs one more time. Once he confirmed his spell worked on something live, something moving, he could be sure. He’d keep coming out here ‘til he snagged something. He had to.
Leif stopped, a concern in the back of his mind. Didn’t he have—?
His heart skipped a beat. The flour.
If an orc wouldn’t try and kill him here, his father would finish the job. He’d every intention of getting tomorrow’s flour a couple of hours ago, but that wasn’t as interesting to think about as being in the history books, you know?
Leif ran for his pack, buried beneath some foliage outside of the range of fire. He yanked it out of the leaves, not bothering to brush what stuck to it, and pulled out his other “invention”—a mana scooter. It was of two pieces: a flat board, long enough to accommodate two feet, and the handle bar, which would connect to the footboard when enough mana was poured into it, and guide the scooter as it hovered. He couldn’t be seen in the city with this, but it’d get him out of the forest faster than his feet could.
Leif threw the board to his feet and concentrated on the handlebar in his arms, willing his PI to activate the spell to power it. He didn’t have enough mana to go very far, but it should be enough. After several seconds of nothing happening, Leif began to break out into a sweat.
C’mon . . .
He finally felt a surge of mana in his wrists and the link between the board and the handlebars connected. The board swiftly rose to a few inches above the dirt and righted itself beneath Leif’s outstretched arms holding the handlebar. He maneuvered his feet onto the board and with a push with one leg off of the dirt, he was zipping past the trees.
“A new quest is available for you. Will you accept?”
I stare at her through my hair, disheveled from lifting my forehead from the surface of my desk. It smells of the desk’s disinfectant.
My latest imposition looks down on me, dark eyes still, small, peach-colored lips compressed together. She is beautiful, and my hackles rise. Does she expect a window to pop open for me with the options to accept or decline? What kind of ridiculous proposal is this?
In my peripherals, the world is slowing around me, a singularity forming around my desk. All eyes focus on the event horizon. They are shocked into quiet murmurs. “Him?” someone says.
“I thought he was—?” goes another.
My mind races. Escape routes, plans of attack.
“I decline,” I say to the girl, returning her impassive stare. The girl’s brow rises. An intractable flash of anger surges through me. My skin prickles with fire.
I don’t know the girl’s name, but I know of her—even those outside of the freshman grade are aware of her. She is the Quest-Giver, and it’s not uncommon that when she delivers unto somebody a quest, that they are richly rewarded in attribute points for their undertaking. It doesn’t hurt her popularity that she is an almost unparalleled portrait of feminine beauty, with long, dark hair pouring down a slender back. As a result of all these things, her presence throughout the school is strong—she’s a favorite topic of conversation with the players. They affectionately call her the Quest Queen. I can’t recall her actual name.
My low profile was endangered the moment she came within a foot of this desk. When she spoke directly to me, it was like a magician throwing the sheet off of a caged bird, presenting me a-fluttering to the waiting audience. My misdirection, built up over the entire year, is gone.
The Queen’s face, however, tinges slightly—whether out of frustration of embarrassment, I don’t know.
“Upon completion, the reward will be great,” she says.
I see. If at first you don’t persuade, peer pressure should be adequate motivation. The stares bore into me.
I stand and she’s much smaller than I gave her credit for, at least a head and a half below me. Taking her fan base into account, though, I am very much dwarfed. I take her by her arm, and I’m surprised by the frailty of her, how thin her upper arm is in my grip. I ignore it and begin dragging her out of the classroom.
“Hey, stop that!” a girl squeals at me, but I ignore that, too. A strong hand clamps down on my shoulder and I stop in place.
“What are you doing?” a considerably deeper voice than before asks.
I turn on Greg, looking down my nose at him. Nice fellow. I want to snap his arm in two.
The Queen says, “It’s okay, Greg. I have something to discuss with him.”
Greg squints at me with skepticism, and with one more dominance-asserting shoulder squeeze, releases me. I tighten my hold on the Queen and pull her through the door.
The courtyard is empty at this time in the school day, the manicured green lawn bereft of lazing students. The fountain gurgles, wetting the white stone surrounding it. Above, engraved in the central spiral of the main school building, the clock is ready to strike 11, and the bell will soon ring for the next class. Behind it, the sun is blotted out. In the tower’s shadow, I release the Queen and she stumbles, catching her balance on the fountain’s edge. A spike of guilt pierces through me and my stomach churns, but it passes.
“What are you doing?” I ask the Queen. Her shakiness is gone, and she stands at her full height, meager though it is.
“I have a quest for you,” she says.
“Cut the shit,” I say. “I don’t have an interface. I can’t accept quests—much less complete them.”
The Queen’s expression remains unchanged. “I saw the point over your head and I—”
“That is a lie.” I narrow my eyes. “I don’t get markers. I don’t even have a quest journal. Those things don’t apply to me. You know what they call me, don’t you?”
The Queen looks away, unable to meet my eye.
“I’m an NPC,” I say. “I don’t get quests. No EXP, no skill trees—nothing. Not even an HP bar.”
“This isn’t the first time this has happened. You’re not trying anything original, and this isn’t going to work.”
The Queen’s eyes shift from side to side and her mouth tightens into a pressed line.
“I don’t want any trouble,” she says.
“Good.” I smile. “Neither do I. In fact, I want the opposite of trouble. So let’s just pretend this never happened.”
I turn on my heel and take a shortcut through the grass
“Please, wait,” she calls after me. There’s the soft pad of her feet in pursuit. I whirl on her and she stops in her tracks, three meters separating us.
“Is there anything else?” I ask, my voice neutral.
She straightens her stance and meets my eye. “I will destroy you,” she says.
She stands stock-still, and I watch her, careful not to let a facial muscle so much as twitch. Half the battle is posturing.
My face breaks out into a jagged grin. I can’t help myself.
“You’re under-leveled for this fight.”
Her expression is a mirror reflection of my own. “Every boss has a vulnerability. I’ll grind you down ‘til you expose it.”
My grin falls and I take a step closer to her. “Do you think a world without enemies can exist?”
The Queen tilts her head as she backs away with a step of her own. “They have to run out sometime. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
I shake my head. “An eye for an eye won’t leave the whole world blind. It’s a nuclear deterrent—that people don’t attempt to poke out an eye in the first place. “ I take another step closer to her, and she takes another back. “If you let the eye-pokers run free, the world goes dark.”
Another step forward for me, another step backward for her.
“What’s your name?” I ask, real gently.
“Lacie,” she says. The glint of metal shines in the light peeking around the clock tower. Bringing a knife to a boss fight? A bit insulting.
“Lacie,” I say, and continue my approach, “I just want to be left alone.”
Lacie backs into the fountain and nearly loses her balance. I’m already upon her when she tries to straighten out. The knife slides neatly below my collarbone while my hands wrap perfectly around her neck.
Her eyes widen, but she’s not looking at me, but at a point just above. Ah, my health bar. You have to do some real damage for that to show up. But it doesn’t matter. She puts up a good fight, but she doesn’t have the leverage to lift herself above water level. She splashes and splashes, dousing my uniform. My blood washes into the fountain. And then she goes still, all but her dark hair, which splays outward in thick tendrils. I get down from the fountain and straighten my uniform. The knife protrudes from my chest still and I yank it out in one quick motion. Hot, burning pain—god, I just can’t resist this game.
The words “Continue?” flash above my lifeless Lacie, and I laugh until my throat goes hoarse.
“Fine,” I rasp. “I accept your quest.”
The world goes dark and the smell of disinfectant fills my nostrils.
About Christian Reisig
Christian Reisig is a student at Full Sail University and an aspiring writer. He graduated from the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities’ Creative Writing program in 2010. In the following years, he has continued to study to improve his writing.
Sion Says is the first chapter of a larger story. It's your average tale: boy takes over world, boy grows bored, then boy meets girl. In Sion's case, however, the girl wants nothing to do with him. Own Little World is also a peek into a larger story about a young man named Lief who is trying to combine science and magic in spite of the Magical Capital's law. The NPC is a short piece about an ordinary young man attending high school. Problem is that he's the only one; everyone else is a character in an RPG world with class types, attribute points, and EXP. In turn, they consider our protagonist an NPC. Until one day, the most popular girl in school, the Guest Giver, delivers to him his own quest.