Free Story

A 199-post collection

Challenge #00978-B247: The Prying Eye

The unusual phenomenon of people that can’t help laughing when you point a camera at them

(Prompt from CallMeGallifreya on Tumblr)

"You're not only on trial in the courts, but you're also on trial by the media."

Pam was still stunned and shellshocked. "...all I did was defend myself..."

"Yes. I know. Pam. Pamela. Focus. Look at me. We need to work on this right now."

Pam struggled to take her gaze away from the endlessly-replaying past in her head. Made herself look at her lawyer. She looked exactly like the kind of woman Mark would cheat on her with. And then bruise her for being herself and, if she wasn't already pregnant, force himself on her.

Tears fell anew. Mark... he was gone. Dead. She'd...

"Pam. Breathe. You're okay. We need to train you. It's important."

"...train... me?"

"Yes. Because of this," the lawyer pulled a camera out of her bitch bag and pointed it at Pam.

Pam instantly summoned a sunny smile and a giggle despite her emotional turmoil. Had to smile for the cameras. It was a survival instinct. If things didn't look good, Mark would keep hitting her until she passed out. And possibly afterwards.

She was shaking and hyperventilating after the camera went away. Her eyes fixed on the police officer who, despite being another woman, reminded her of Mark. If that officer so much as hiccoughed, Pam would probably scream. And then attempt to duck and cover under the table.

The lawyer was saying, "Pam," over and over again. Pam snatched her focus away from the officer and tried to give it to the lawyer.

"People all over America are going to see you laughing at the cameras. They're going to see a complete lack of remorse. And that means death threats. Snipers. Bombs. Hackers. Everything the public can throw at you, they will."

"...maybe i should die..." Pam squeaked. "...i killed him... I didn't mean to kill him. He's gonna be so mad..."

The lawyer's perfectly-painted face twisted up like she wanted to cry. "No. No. Don't believe that, please." Her hand was warm when she touched Pam's trembling hand. "It's going to be okay. We just need to get you ready for the cameras."

"They took my dress. And I don't have any makeup."

"That's not what I'm talking about, but we have one of your friends - they're babysitting the kids - pick out something comfortable and camera-friendly for you."

All this time. All this time and she hadn't thought of the kids. "Are they all right? I left such a mess..." Did they see the blood? Did they think she was dead?

"Your friend Cammie is keeping them over at her house."

Oh good. The kids practically lived at Cammie's anyway. "I didn't even think about them. I... I don't know what time it is..."

"It's time to focus. This," she flashed the camera briefly, "is your enemy, now. You don't smile at it. Do you understand?"

"...i don't know... he's going to hit me again if i don't look nice..."

"Mark isn't here. Remember? He's gone."

All she could think of was the complete shock in his face when her nail file pierced his ribs again and again. Until the pink foam bubbled out of his lips and he finally fell. By that time, he'd broken a cheekbone and her nose again. And cracked the orbit of her left eye. The doctors said something about mild internal injuries.

At least she wasn't pregnant any more. And the understanding ladies who'd initially looked after her had given her some pads to use. And new underwear. Mark had told her that nowhere had her size. The people who'd helped her had had no trouble.

"What am I going to do without him?" she quavered.

The lawyer sighed. "You're going to carry on. Remember his long business trips?"

Where he went to spend time with his other women, thought Pam. Oh yes.

"Remember how you dealt with that? How you paid the bills and fed the kids and kept the house together while he was away?"

Pam managed a nod.

"It's the same thing. Only he's not going to come back and turn everything upside-down. No more punches, Pam. No more 'two for flinching'. No need to hide supplies for the girls by pretending they're for the boys and letting the receipts fade in the sun. You don't need his authority. You can do this for yourself."

Her heart pounded at the very concept. There was not enough air.

"It's okay. You're going to be okay. I promise. Cammie and I are going to help. I have a team of forensic accountants tracking down all the other women. In court, I can show the jury what kind of man Mark was. But outside? The media is waiting. They have hundreds of cameras. And if you go giggling at them, they're not going to like it."

"...i can pretend they're all men," she quavered. "...mark didn't like it when i smiled at other men..."

"Good. Good." The pin on her chest said her name was Wendy Delain. "Let's try. I have a camera. It's a man, now."

She brought it out again. Pointed it at her.

An entirely different reflex took over. Look away from their eyes. Do that thing with her face that Mark said always made her look ugly.

"Okay," said Ms Delain. She put the camera away. "I can work with abject terror."

(Muse food remaining: 17. Submit a Prompt! Ask a question! Buy my stories! Or comment below!)

Challenge #00977-B246: Rictus

By the time one reaches adulthood it is almost reflex to give a sunny grin when someone points a camera at you. This can have unintended results.

(Prompt from CallMeGallifreya on Tumblr)

"And worse, this creature had the audacity to bare its teeth at me!"

Adjudicator Shyn'len leaned over hir desk. "Have you had much education on the habits of humans, Cogniscent P'rel?"


"That's a nervous baring of teeth. It's not a threat or a show of amusement. And further to

Read more »

Challenge #00954-B223: Careful How You Wish...

(Discussing being granted superpowers, Person #2 doesn’t want them)
Person #1: I’m sorry, but whether you want to or not… this is something that is going to happen. The next time you fall asleep-
Person #2: Then I just. /Won’t/. Sleep.
Person #3 (Full of cheerful sarcasm): That sounds like a solid long-term plan!

Irde glared at Bianca. “No. No. This isn’t a solid wish.”

“You did use the words ‘I wish’, said the Djinn. What she had

Read more »

Challenge #00946-B215: The Houyhnhnms' Arrival

A new species  arrives on the station, and the humans Will Not Stop Staring.

New species is worried. Did it offend them somehow? Is it edible?

Meanwhile all the humans are thinking is “Holy ***,. a unicorn.”

G’pux soothed her new companion by petting her neck. “There, now. It’s all right. It’s natural to be a little tense when meeting the Galactic Alliance.”

Thrass tossed her head and stamped uncertainly, Though she fit the pattern for Horse, she was undoubtedly

Read more »

Challenge #00940-B209: Arachnophilia

An alien aware of the general human reaction to spiders runs across someone whose first response to an Oshit is “how cute!”

“Being cautious, please, Engineer Murray,” K’teth warned as she unlocked her vessel. “Security measures on vessel mine being non-standard.“

The brown-skinned human grinned. “No worries. You can call me Baz. Everyone does. Now… I know you were knocking around Pirate Turf for a year or so?”

“Yes. Learning fast, am I, there are few tech solutions to hackers.

Read more »

Challenge #00931-B200: Bunkmate From Hell

In the name of it’s late and eventually we both want to sleep, I agree to that deal.

“You ever really think about cats?” asked Sam. “You know. Really
think about cats? Like they’re a solid animal, but they act like a fluid and they can expand to fill the space they want to take up…. And
the super-fluffy ones always shock you when they’re wet because they’re all like those hairless skeleton things underneath all that

Read more »

Challenge #00896-B165: Instruments of War

The gentle breeze softly ruffled the hair of the Spine as he lay in the field

[AN: This fic is inspired by Photographic Memories and may contain The Feels]

reached over and picked it up. The fastening clips were still intact. Good. He didn’t like being bare-headed. It made people stare and treat
him like a thing.

The downside to always wearing hair was that he
was not used to putting it on, so it took him three tried to

Read more »

Challenge #00891-B160: Nil Mortifi Sans Lucre?

FAQ Assassins

- Business hours are 9:00 to 5:30
- Please deposit last will and testament in box below
- Knock and remove shoes before entering

They say that life is cheap on Ghiisham, and they are correct. Life is cheap. You get one for free. Living can be expensive and death, though inevitable, is much more expensive than taxes.

Especially if you want it tailored.

Junior assassin Mykoss looked up at the client. They were all over sores and

Read more »

Challenge #00848-B117: It Just Goes

About the EM Drive, a possible new space drive that no-one has a coherent theory on HOW it works, but as long as no mistakes have been made in the experiments, it seems that it does. …Somehow.

“Well, the future space programs will no longer need propellants. However, they should probably investigate this thoroughly, this looks like an accidental discovery of summoning…things. While using Cthulhu as a propellant sounds hilarious no one wants to know what happens after that. ”

[AN: The

Read more »

Challenge #00847-B116: The Diving War

This battle would be much more intense if both sides weren’t trying to lose.

“If we do not win for the glory of the emperor, we will be executed as criminals.”

“But we can’t win! The odds are stacked against us.”

“Have no fear! I have bribed the other general to lose to us. All we have to do is make sure that we don’t hurt his men.”

Meanwhile, in the other camp…

“The emperor told us to

Read more »

Challenge #00844-B113: In Vino, Vastitas

Now, I’m not a philosopher, but I AM drunk at this moment, so I’ll attempt to discuss philosophy within my own limited eckshp- expewir- …Stuff.

“Na, na, na, na, na, na. Y’ can’t do that,” said his drunken mate. “There’s a rule, right? Anything you attempt drunk, right? Anything… you try t’ do drunk… ‘S gonna end in d’saster.”

“She’ll be right, mate,” said Kevin. “Ph’los’phy’s jus’ words, innit? Can’t

Read more »

Challenge #00843-B112: Relics of a Previous Age.

I think that I’ve never seen anything so stupid and so practical in all my life.

They called it The Archive of Earth. A massive tomb devoted to the Twentieth Century. And Shayde had, through adventure and misadventure, inherited the lot.

“How much of this stuff is plastic?” wondered Rael.

“Uh. After the Twenties? Loads.” Shayde was particularly uninformative, unpacking the vaults and sorting random objects. The swarming Archivaas had left her to deal with everything they didn’t recognise. Which

Read more »

Challenge #00842-B111: Complaints Department

Person who brought the bomb: ‘You’re genuinely offended by the fact that we didn’t bring big enough bombs?’
Person they were trying to blow up: ‘I’m offended by any job poorly done, but that’s not the prime issue.’

“You call that an explosion,” griped the target. Lord Bottomsbury. “You call that an explosion?”

“Er,” said Kieth, would-be assassin. “I thought it’d work?”

“Honestly. This is not the death I paid for.”

“I’m sorry, it’s my

Read more »

Challenge #00839-B108: Infodump

You know you’ve over explained something when you make a robot’s eyes go glassy.

“…and when he looks out the window, there’s this long shot that doesn’t make any sense? ‘Cause they’re in a left hand? But it’s a right hand? And that’s how you know that it’s another ship?”

T0B0r blinked. Dazed. “…this does not answer my question…” ze managed.

“And then when she escaped? You can clearly see she’

Read more »

Challenge #00828-B097: Homicidally Annoying

Ethics. Of all the flaws for a crew member to have, why did it have to be ethics?

Do’jii had to wonder why he was carting this human around. Sure, his actions were often in a confounding chain of cause and effect that came out with profit at the other end, but at other times…

Like this time…

It was hard to see the profit at the other end.

“Let me understand the chain of events,” began Do’jii.

Read more »