Friday, February 20, 2015

2-20-15 Writing Warm-up
10:43 AM

2-20-15 Writing Warm-up

2-20-15 Writing Warm-up
Artwork © Felipe Sorbreiro, All Rights Reserved -
Story and Characters © Corey Blankenship, All Rights Reserved 
Brought to you by Four Fools Press: “Crazy Good Stories”

Diesel is the magic of the new age.

Pure. Powerful. Flammable.

"The big wheels keep on turnin' / Proud Mary keep on burnin' / And we're rollin', rollin', Rollin' on..."

"Please stop singing. I'd rather pass my last moments in silence." The old man finally found some steel to put in his tone.

I cocked him a glance. "Fair enough."

Besides songs I wasn't big on words. And I wasn't too much on singin' myself. But today was the last day I'd be doing either. Poor pops, I forgot this was his last day, too, so I owed him that little respect. And more...

The freight engine gobbled rails faster than a man could chew. I had laid a fair share of my own in my time. The road and tracks had been my home since I could curl up in my father's cab. Now, I had one final route to run. I smiled. This should be fun.

The path bent around a scree flanked bend, walls of trees bristled above the white gravel. After the curve, I saw what I looked for. Metro city, aka "Meat Factory." Or, as I'd like to think today, Proud Mary. The towers would be mad hives, and the streets filled with walking corpses. She stood thick with cord wood, dried by a life sated only by blood frenzy. It made me think of my father's great-great-great-great-great grandpa. Way back when blood fury had respect. And fear. I had lived to see courage become fashionable again.

Soon I'd be amid my fore-pas, tellin' tales and swiggin' ale.

I rolled down my window, letting in a refreshing winter wind. Time to get the man-beasts attention.


My horn howled my rage and rang the dinner bell. The blasts leaped from rock to rock, house to house, tower to tower. In the quiet of a dead planet, I may as well split the earth or let loose thunderbolts. My smile grew bigger. Thunderbolts. That's family talk.

Suburban Hel fled behind and the spires of Proud Mary advanced. All the while, black blobs bubbled into view between buildings. Each time a gap opened I saw them. They kept getting larger and faster. I drove slow to let them keep up.

"Keep comin', trolls!" I jeered over the engines.

"You know they aren't trolls." Pops pouted, face staring ahead.

"They'll eat you like one, and they burn like trolls. They're trolls today."

"If you insist," he piped back.

"I do." I thundered.

Today I would not be cheated my glory. Especially by a broken weakling.

I pulled the freight train right to the center of the city. The engine ceased its buffet. I patted the gearbox. I hoped the last meal had sated the steel wyrm. I reached below the seat and yanked up my proud sledge. It gleamed dully in the faint sunlight. The old man stared at the steel head, and then spoke his mind. He'd gotten used to that these last few days.

"So that's your fabled hammer," he stated without enthusiasm.

I lifted it and studied my reflection in it. Beard and hair gleamed gold. Fierce blue burned in my eyes. Yes. The blood still ran true. Our pride. My glory. I stared beyond the modern exterior to the core, the real birthright of my family. There, recast in this simple sledge, a flake from Thor's own lived. It had passed to me. Last son. The first in a five hundred years to take this hammer into war. I frowned.

"I'm sorry, Rivka's father," I confessed.

He hissed air as if I had crushed his chest.

"I thank you for giving me thunder...I wish she could see this day," I offered.

He roared, "How dare who used her and left her to these monsters. How dare you! Go to Hel where you belong!"

"Hel is for these beasts and weak fools who can't defend their own!" I bellowed back.

The frail elder curled against the wall. I had jumped to my feet at his curse. My hammer hovered next to my head. Damn the milk-drinker for provoking my anger on this day.

I pointed the sledge at his chest. "You curse me when I confess. Rivka was worthy of a better father."

Pops sobbed into his drawn knees. I took an iron hook and slipped it over the horn wire. The pipes challenged the damned. They would come. They always do.

I pulled out a knife and scraped a fresh cut into my shoulder. A fourth mark to match the top three. Three times I had lured the beasts. Three times I had slain them in fury and fire.

This time would have Pop's mythic Sodium.

This time would blend water and fire into thunder.

This time would be the last.

As I jumped onto the first car, the husks crawled, limped, and charged toward my train. My thunder. I raised Thor's Seed and cried my hatred. The frothing sea shrieked in a banshee chorus. A bone-thin troll managed to tumble off a platform onto the car. My sledge turned his chest into dust and he flew into the waves of hungry claws below. They tore into each other for a chew of his bones.

The valve stood on top of the tank. I swung the hammer against its blocky side. The valve turned a quarter-inch. I struck it twice more, twisting the head slowly around. Then a blood-stained skull appeared in front of me. Long black vines hung around a pointed face. She had been a beauty once. Now she leered through hollow eyes and torn lips. I split her skull with a hammer blow from my fist. These shadow-men had nothing on a son of thunder.

The first valve groaned and then steamed. I ran to the next and raged my steel weapon against its soft iron skin. I had to finish quick. The old man had said the thunder would come quick. Three husks crawled along the catwalk. I broke them with backswings as I moved the cap with blows. The second whined and whistled steam. I raced for the third and final valve.

All around the train the trolls swarmed. They bit and tore at each other until piles choked the wheels. Up they surged to face me, and down I threw them back with Thor's Seed and my fists. Their poisoned blood caked my hands and hammer. My pure blood sung in my veins. The fire in the sky burned full. The moment had come and it was glorious. Three valves spat tongues of mist. I had only moments until the thunder roared.

Two small barks rang out over the deafening roar of the horn. I turned and saw him. The old man braced against the rail as he wielded a double shotgun. Pops slid cartridges into the breech with a sure hand. Gone was the whimpering fool. It seemed threats of Hel had raised the warrior in his bones. I laughed as he blasted two more into death. He walked calmly down the catwalk. When a beefy husk charged him as he reloaded, pops grabbed the gun by its nose and smashed the brute in the head. It staggered and tumbled into the horde. I may raise a glass with him yet!

His cold grey eyes met my own. His face looked as grim as Odin and fierce in his fury. The All-Father burned in this man. Though I could not hear his words, I knew in my heart what he had said.

For Rivka.

"For Valhal!" I answered.

Then I launched from the heights, hammer in hand. I laughed. I roared. I flashed. I thundered.

Proud Mary burned.


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