Nigh invincible

Day 29: Bone
No Novel November 2019

The cold only bothers him first thing in the morning. Once he’s up and moving, he barely notices. But right now, lying in his empty bed surrounded by an Eastern seaboard winter, his body aches to its marrow.

The other agents at the Supernatural Cases Division think he’s invincible, but it’s only half true. Inside, he’s a patchwork of grafts and mends. He may not need casts or bed rest, but broken bones magically healed still leave their mark, still remember their weakness when the weather shifts.

He grunts with the effort of swinging his legs to the floor. The comminuted femur complains as he stands, his slight weight too much for the patch yet. A trio from the left foot creaks in agreement, chorusing with ribs six through twelve as he stretches, hitching at a shoulder dislocated so many times he’s lost count.

Moving warms the blood in stiff muscles as he washes his face. Long fingers with round knuckles slide over a thin jaw calloused at the hinge, glide across fine hair hiding sutures opened and closed. Thankfully, brushing his teeth doesn’t raise any alarms.

Body done with its complaints, Jack Alexander slides on his ubiquitous black suit like a second skin that covers his fractured skeleton and steps out into the frozen DC air, wondering how today will try to break him.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

How do you like them apples

Day 28: Rotten
No Novel November 2019

Johnny surveyed the orchard full of naked trees and sighed. Every year, the harvest was less, the waste more. The apples of belief bloomed each spring, swelled in summer, ripened in fall, and hit the ground to rot before the first frost. Months of back-breaking work for nothing.

He spent the day clearing the ground the old-fashioned way. For their anniversary, Demeter had bought him a fancy cart off Amazon that sucked them up automatically as he walked, but it stayed in the garage. Some things needed doing by hand. Besides, ten acres was nothing compared to what he used to work.

As the sun dipped below the branches, Johnny threw the last bag of mealy brown apples into the barn and himself into the armchair in front of the fire. He reached for his phone and the red-labeled bottle on the end table, opening both.

“Yeah, D, I think this is it for me. Nobody quests anymore, especially not for enchanted produce.” He took a swig from the bottle and grimaced. “Time to retire to the big orchard in the sky. Two hundred years is a good run, right?”

He paused for another pull. “Good gods, this is terrible,” he coughed. “Why do people like it?”

As Dionysus expounded on the wonders of scotch, Johnny’s attention faded. Something about the red label and the burning in his sinuses stirred up an idea.

“Hey, D,” he interrupted. “What do you think about Johnny Appleseed’s Hard Cider—‘So Good, It’s Magic’?”

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.

One last thing

Day 6: Address
No Novel November 2019

Painting of a low-rise apartment building complex - Israeli Apartment House by saltytowel on DeviantArt

Cora leaves the black suit at home and covers her shock of red hair with a stocking cap despite the summer heat. Although no one would likely recognize her after what’s happened during her time away, she’s not taking any chances. The last thing she wants is for some former “friend” to shanghai her down memory lane as she wraps up this final piece of unfinished business.

This used to be their apartment. She feels a twinge of heartsickness looking at it, sweet nostalgia for another life in which she thought she had everything she wanted. But it’s easily silenced. That’s exactly what she came here to do, after all.

She closes her eyes, draws a lung-bursting breath, and lets it out one molecule at a time.

I forgive you, Jeremy. For not understanding. For being weak when I needed you to be strong. For running away without leaving. I release you to yourself and take back what’s mine.

The air is fresher somehow in the next breath. Lighter, freer.

She reaches into her pocket and pulls out a handful of gravel that she hucks at the bottom right window. The familiar face that appears there drops instantly from anger into gobsmacked disbelief. His eyes widen, his jaw drops.

Cora grins and waves.

Then there’s a crack of blue lightning so bright he falls away from the window. When he scrambles back through the curtains, she’s gone.

He wonders if she was ever there at all.

This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.