A Thousand Waking Moments

            

Again with the challenge from Chuck Wendig’s TERRIBLEMINDS. 

You will pick two genres from this list of sub-genres I give you. You will mash up those two genres into a piece of flash fiction, ~1000 words long. Easy like Sunday morning.

Here, then, is the list:

Southern Gothic

Cyberpunk

Sword & Sorcery

Femslash

Black Comedy

Picaresque

 

 

With a start, Glory awoke, flushed and dripping with sweat.  She tossed aside the bed clothes to find the mattress was soaking wet.

                The nightmare seemed so real, her hands were still shaking.  The attackers were masked and so angry.

                Glory felt as though she was supposed to be somewhere else.  Her stomach told her she was supposed to be eating.

              She made her way to the lift, gave two sharp tugs on the descend pulley.  She idly shuffled her feet as the gear work platform grinded to life and lowered her towards the kitchens.  Outside the window of the glass lift, Glory could see her cousin Bromhold’s Gearwing brigade going through maneuvers.  They were forming an attack pattern.  Glory frowned as she watched them head over the castle walls towards the Mountains of the Dragon.  She strained to keep them in view.

                Black dots on a sky of red.

                Glory tried to maintain her genteel breeding and not break into a ravenous run when the lift stopped at her desired floor.  The guards were as always polite and lowered their sparkspears in deference as she shuffled by.  Their mumbled, “Your Highness” still had a hint of shame to it.  Her brother the Heir Apparent had been killed over a year ago; you would think they would be able to get over it.

                Mebold the Cook was not in the kitchen, when Glory arrived so she helped herself to some fruit and started walking toward the dining hall.  She heard her father before they saw each other and quickly hid herself in a Maidwalk, a small door way that lead to secret passages that hid the servants from the eyes of her King Father.

                “How goes the front Reginald?”  Her Father’s booming voice was in complete Monarch bellows today.

                “Not good, my liege.  And if you want to get a report from the front you can look out the window.  The enemy is camped within a day’s ride.”  Reginald was Lord Cog, chief war advisor.  “Our last sortie was a disaster; two full score of clockkights are dead.  Probably eaten.”

                “Two SCORE!”

                “Yes, Your Majesty.”

                “How did this happen?  Did you not consult the Oracle Engine?  The Number Warlocks said the calculations were perfect.”

                “Yes your Majesty, but again I stress, we are mistaken to trust the machines to strategy.”

                “I tire of this argument, Reginald.”  Glory winced.  Her Lord Father was most unpleasant when tired.

                “With respect, Your Majesty, the difference engine works on variables that we are used to.  Your empire has grown tenfold since our mastery of the Oracle.  The Number Warlocks are true pioneers, but we are not facing a familiar threat.  The enemy has a true wizard leading them.  And they fight with primitive weapons.  Swords, spears, and mounted horse.  Our pistoleers and magazines cannot hold the line.”

                Glory heard her Father curse, loudly, and throw a glass against a wall.  “My army has conquered the Five Nations of Umpuntu.  The Steppes of Kron and the Hegemony.  A few peasants who fight with sticks and swords against bullets and our flying Gearwings?  These are excuses for your leadership my Lord Cog.”

                “I beg forgiveness, Your Greatness, but I come with other news.”

                “Changing the subject Reginald?  This better be good.”

                “The Witch King Morgaz has settled fifty Orlock legions inside the Basilisk Forest.  Rumors are spreading that the Wizard has control of the Dragon.  All this power is within a day of this castle.  Our supplies are falling short and our men bleed.”

                “Get to the point!”

                “I have received terms from the Wizard.”

                “Terms!”  Glory’s Father’s rage was unintelligible.

                “My Liege, not terms of conquest.  Terms of Peace!”  Reginald screamed the last words to get the message over her Father’s bellowing.

                “Peace?  PEACE?”

                “Yes, Morgaz will retreat to the other side of the Mountain of the Dragon and never step foot under the shadow of the Ticking Tower, your family’s ancestral home.”

                “What will it cost us?”

                “My liege, it will cost us Glory.”

                Glory’s gasp was so loud, louder than it would seem as silence had settled in after Reginald’s last words.

                “GLORY! Get in here.”  Her Father knew she was listening and will most probably beat her, or send her to study.  Glory hoped it was a beating.

                “Yes my honorable Father?”  The curtsey was half textbook, half sarcastic.

                “How much did you hear?”

                “I hear that to save our land and peoples I am to be given to the Witch King Morgaz.”

                “Y-yes, My Lady,” Reginald always stammered when Glory looked at him.  “The Witch King will take you to bride and hostage to ensure we will not act against him.

                “They say Morgaz is a Wizard over 7,000 years old.”

                “They say a lot of things, your Highness, some of which may be true.  P-peace, is a t-truth we must all believe in.  Though the loss we shall suffer will be most unpleasant.”

                “Reginald,” Her Father baleful eyes fell on his chief consoler.  “Why would Morgaz retreat, he is winning.”

                “I do not know, but if there is a chance I feel we must take it.”

                Later, Glory found herself being fitted for a bridal gown, a long bath, and lessons on spousal etiquette by a nun that although was about as old as Morgaz had no experience in what she was talking about.

                Glory spent the rest of the evening in her apartment surrounded by her friends, daughters of the court.  She did not pay much attention.  There was an itch on her neck and a dull headache that was growing stronger just above her left eye.  Maddening it was but not as much as the feeling that, Glory was missing something.  Somewhere she was supposed to be.

                “Married, you are so lucky, even if it is with Morgaz the Bloodless.”

                “Quiet, Diroa, you are just scaring her.”

                “Glory, how do you feel about this?”

                “Hmmm?”

                “I asked you, how do you feel about being married to that corpse?”

                Their voices were shrinking to whispers, and a great blinding light was enveloping the apartment.  It was focused through the door, a portal opening that shone the brightest light.  There was a pulse to the light that matched the throbbing above her left eye.  A compulsion pulled at her, a cloying feeling of bliss through the strange light.  Glory was supposed to be somewhere and that light seemed to be the way.

                Glory heard screaming as she succumbed.

*     *     *

                “Nametag says Gloria.”

                “What are we looking at?”

                “Shot through the skull, above the left eye.  Glancing blow to the brain, bleeds all over the place.  Probably took a few minutes to finally pass.”

                “She the teller that pulled the alarm?”

                “That’s what the bank manager said.”

                “Any personal effects, any sense of who she was?  She died a hero.”

                “Her coworker, Martha said she was leaving early to go to a dance recital for her daughter tonight.  She usually doesn’t make it, so it was going to be a surprise.”

                “Take her to the morgue.  Poor woman, we never seem to get to where we need to be”

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