Category Archives: Erika Lance

Error by Erika Lance

To Nicole who submitted through the website. I hope you enjoy!

Geocode was not successful for the following reasons: ERROR

Martin looked at the screen again. This couldn’t be correct.

The data within the system had taken years to gather. It was the most in-depth analysis of humans that had ever been undertaken. Every other sector’s numbers had computed perfectly.

Martin, as the humans had called him, tried again: ERROR

He pulled up the zone in question on the map. It was an affluent neighborhood in the state of California in the country called the United States.  As he scrolled though the information, he also began the diagnostic protocol.

If there was any chance of zeroing in on the error and getting off this planet which was at the farthest end of the galaxy, contained behind a rather formidable asteroid field, then he would have to find and correct this ‘ERROR’ and submit his information.

As the images rolled past, one in particular caught his eye. He scrolled back and pulled it up. At first glance, it seemed fairly mundane.  Small children played in an area of grass and sand. One of them was using some kind of plastic item that was launching soap in the shape of circles in the air. He knew what they called them… Bubbles!

He zoomed in on the bubble that had just been launched. There in the reflection he saw not a small earth child standing there, no, this was something different. This had gills.

At first, a smile crept across the human mouth he was wearing. He had found the error. Then almost as quickly as it had appeared, the smile vanished.

These were not humans.

A feeling of dread began to build within him. Was this possible? he thought to himself.

He knew that this planet had been studied before; it was a terribly good resource for certain mineral components and the inhabitants were still behind in technology that any time they saw a potential visitor it was dismissed. This is what made the idea of full planetary reaping so appealing to his high ruler. But here it was, right in front of him.

He moved to the genetic samples that had been taken from that region. Although they were ‘mostly’ human, there were other markers.  When he broadened the scan, he found them to be traces of Reedbarnt gene sequences.

They were hiding here. How?

He had to submit this right away.  This was above his pay-grade.

Pulling the arm-sleeve of flesh from his right hand, he extended his small gathering of tentacles to the screen. Although he was mandated to leave the human covering on for the length of his mission, he knew that what he had to gather and send would take hours if he had to use the small human appendages.

He gathered all the evidence and sent it to his superior. He then reattached his arm-sleeve and paced up and down the ships data storage area. This was a human habit, but he knew that he could not remove the whole flesh suit without it deteriorating.

It was many earth hours before he received a reply.

It said only one thing: Abort!

 

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Bad Decisions by Erika Lance

To my friend and dragon tamer ,Nicole DragonBeck

“ At 10:43 PM, exactly one hour and fifty two minutes before they came for him, Henry Bently changed his mind and decided he wasn’t ready to die.”

Henry Bently had decided he was going to make a difference in the world. He had spent most of his life being in the background of all activities. He was always kind and courteous. He smiled at people as he walked passed and held open doors for others. He was completely forgettable.

His job was easily forgettable as well. He filed documents at the city planner’s office. Although Henry was incredibly good at his job, very few people realized the ease they experienced in finding the required information they were looking for regarding projects and inspections was attributed solely to Henry.

It was late on a Friday when he first saw the plans. At first, it looked like a simple zoo, if you could say there was something as simple as a zoo.

The name of this animal preserve was to be called Up Close Animal Adventures. The park would even feature rides and other attractions. It seems you need to have roller-coasters of some kind to really ensure people show up. Animals, no matter how exotic, no longer had the drawing power they once did.

As he read through the plans, he found something a bit odd. Within the request were plans for a series of underground buildings. As he pored over the plans, he found it was to be a network of medical spaces. It was designed like a hospital and at first glance and to a normal clerk it would appear to be for the animals. However, that was not the case.

Although the plans had already been approved, Henry knew that the clerk had not looked deep enough into them or had been bribed into simply putting his stamp on the approved line. Henry would never take a bribe, but knowing what the city actually paid its employees and how terrible the benefits were, he understood why someone would take a bribe and not feel guilty.

Henry decided to do a little more digging into the corporation that was building the epic attraction. He spent most of the weekend following stories on the web. From those that were from legitimate reporting agencies to the conspiracy theory blogs, the paths all lead to the same place.

The new “Adventure” that was being built was also going to be used to do medical testing for military uses. Not only for animals, but on humans. It read like something out of the Island of Dr. Moreau or some terrible movie from the 90’s.  It seemed that they were further along than most suspected in their efforts.

On Monday, Henry found he couldn’t concentrate. He kept being drawn back to what was going to happen when this facility was built. He finally took the issue to his supervisor. After a few minutes of speaking with her and then the department head, Henry realized that everyone was on the payroll so to speak.

He then decided there was something he could do.

If enough destruction occurred at the right time during the build, they would not easily recover. Plus, during the investigation, the right information at the right time would bring this all to light.

Although the “Park” would be insured, Henry was convinced that the underground facilities would not.

So over the next several months, Henry formed a plan.

Upon the final inspection, before the animals were brought in, Henry made sure he was the inspector. He would have access to every area of the facility. He knew he would have only one shot at this.

He had been surprised how easy it had been to acquire the C4 he needed. He knew how much he needed for each room and created small balls that he could drop or place as he went.

He had set the timer for 11:00PM. This meant the least amount of people would be at the site. He had walked the entire length of the underground facility with determination, stopping in every area and dropping his packages. When he had signed off and handed the approval on the permit to the site General Manager, he did it with a smile.

Although the authorities would wonder what had happened, perhaps a gas leak, Henry knew that the owners of the facility would find him, even if he ran. He knew he wasn’t trained to hide out.

He looked out the windshield of his car that he parked far enough from the site to be able to see it happen but not be injured and hoped he, Henry Bently, had made a difference this night and then he heard the first explosion.

 

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All Downhill From Here by Erika Lance

For Crystal, I truly do hope you enjoy this.

All they could see was the open ocean and fluffy clouds of cotton candy 🍭

Marcie looked around and it appeared that she was on this beach with ten other people.

She did not know any of them.

She looked into the sky again and the clouds in fact were swirled with pink and an almost unnatural blue.

There was coughing coming from one of the other people. He was an older gentleman, looked like he was in his early sixties. He was on his hands an knees and his entire body spasming.

As she tries to stand a wave of dizziness hits her and she feels herself land back on the sand.

When her vision cleared she realized there was a marking on her forearm. It said: 17GHT433GFS. What the hell is going on? she thought.

She looked over at the man still coughing as he threw up something metallic. She began to move closer to him, there were others attempting the same. All of them seemed to be suffering from the same inability to stand.

As she neared the man, his eyes closed and he started to sway. She tried to hurry before he fell over but she was too late.

She arrived at the same time as two of her other companions. The man was no longer breathing and the metallic item he had thrown up started making a high-pitched noise. There was also a dim red light that started pulsing.

Marcie looked down at the man’s arm and he had a similar marking to hers. The numbers were all the same but one: 12GHT433GFS.

The noise was getting louder and one of the companions, a man, kicked the item into the ocean. The noise dulled and after about thirty seconds there was a small explosion in the water.

“Was that a bomb?” the woman standing next to her asked.

These were the first words spoken by Chelsea. She died three days later.

 

 

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Feeling Guilt by Erika Lance

For Mack Mclane; thank you for the fun story starter!

Catching Feelings is like finding spiders…

This is exactly how Marius felt as he walked back towards the abandoned house that he currently called home.

“I hate spiders” he muttered to himself as he walked; brushing down his arms as if this would rid him of the ‘creepy crawly’ sensation he had since he had seen her last.

As he walked he tried to take his attention off of her. He had been lucky to find a home, with a basement that was not in use. He knew the previous owner had died in the house and it had taken nine months for the body to be discovered. Marius knew this because the ghost of the previous resident still loitered on the property.

Sometimes it was easy enough to get them to move on. Other times, like this one, were just stuck. The only saving grace for Marius and this roommate, was that he had convinced his roommate that spirits would be “drained of all life force” if they stayed next to the undead for too long. This meant the ghost would leave him alone for the most part.

The undead can be so stupid sometimes.

As he walked up the stairs of the rotting porch his mind wandered to her again. He closed his eyes and could still smell her. “Heather…” the name fell out of his mouth. His eyes opened. “Damn it!” he swore.

This was never going to work. He knew better then to watch them for too long. He knew better then too talk to them. He knew NOT TO DEVELOP FEELINGS FOR THEM! This time he was screaming at himself in his own head.

The other major issue was he was starving. He needed to eat soon before he lost control.

With a deep sigh he turned around and headed back towards the street.

He needed to find a victim and really it should be her. He knew he could take her in her apartment tonight and it would be some time before she was discovered. She was not a sad case, but more of a determined one.  She studied and researched and basically had no time for a social life, this usually meant 3-5 days before she appeared missing.

He moved faster through the night and although he did not intend to arrive where he was standing his feet brought him to her window.

She was inside, he could smell her.

The ‘creepy-crawly’ feeling came back. Could he do this?

He started second guessing himself; again.

He paced around her home for an hour, weighing the pros and cons of it all. Then he found himself standing next to the bed she laid on. He could hear the minor details of her breathing, the smell of her hair and her skin.

Then there was a noise behind him. He turned to see a man coming in through the window. He wondered if he should watch this activity unfold.

The man coming through the window was in his late twenties. He smelled as if he was not a frequent bather. He also didn’t seem to feel brushing his teeth daily was a requirement either. The smell of drugs on him overpowered all the others. It was in his blood. This is why he was here.

Marius grabbed hold of the man in that instant a moved him outside the window. His prey was now terrified with eyes open in total fear. Marius smiled.

“Tell me somewhere safe to take you.” Marius didn’t use this power often. It normally only worked on those willing or to weak to fend him off.

While his new companion described a ‘safe’ place to take him. Marius closed and secured the window again leaving Heather, damn it he called her by name again, to sleep peacefully.

He had his guilt-free meal.

 

 

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First Encounters by Erika Lance

For Eric Saylor, forever my Lieutenant. 

“Where did this thing come from? And… why was it green?”

These were the first and only words out of the mouth of the designated officer for the mission to meet the newest race to appear to desire to join the the newly formed Universal Alliance.

An entire delegation was to ready at the docking bay when there was a shudder to the ship  as they were supposed to be docking, and then a loud grinding and crash. Then for a moment the lights flickered out and as they came back on there was that one utterance over the comm module and then screams, the sounds of breaking bones and flesh being torn apart and then nothing.

I was sent down to investigate. Why? I know that would be my first thought as well. That is if I was allowed to have a “thought.” I wasn’t.

I am a synthetic animated object. Basically, I am an advanced robot. I am made entirely of a liquid substance that has few circuits. I look like a sparkly pool. A very small sparkly pool about four inches. We are used for observation and report mainly as we can slide into very small and potentially hazardous areas. In this case, a docking bay filled with a hostile alien race and pieces of the remaining crew members.

The captain had sealed off the entire bay; this included the air ducts. Way too many creatures can and have figured out the ducts are a very easy way to traverse the entire length of a ship. So my way in was along the wires that ran to the consoles that were located in the room. Since I needed less then a centimeter to get into a space, it was easy to slide into place.

As I traveled to and entered the room the science officer was getting constant reports. I didn’t care that everything I was doing and “seeing” was being tracked. My main issue was having to hear it repeated back to me as Lt. Adamean was saying everything. Who really cared that I was ten feet, nine feet, eight feet away… The fact was I simply hadn’t arrived yet. Update them when I did… Sheesh.

This is why the belief that we didn’t have thoughts of our own was simply absurd. See we did. Collectively we had learned the concept of thoughts. How to reason. How to think. Since the humanoids always assumed we couldn’t, they didn’t realize when we did.

As I slid in the room, I surveyed the scene. If I could think something was disgusting, this would have been it. Since I didn’t have emotions, we had decided these led to making bad decisions, I didn’t have a reaction. However, when Lt. Adamean had been ordered to post the visual that I was projecting the large monitor on the bridge, there were many reactions and emotions. Humanoids.

I moved along the wall until I could find a perch that showed the entire bay. There were a total of six of the alien race. They were smaller and looked like a cross between a spider and a beaver. They had eight legs, four it seemed were used for movement, two seemed to have pads for stabilizing and two had what looked like thin spikes which were currently being used to scooping mouthfuls of flesh into their mouths which had two distinct teeth that protruded from their mouths.

They were covered in a sort of green fur that seemed to shift as they moved. Ah, armor. They were clever.

As I moved, one of them looked up with its six eyes, gore dripping from its maw, and it smiled. At an alarming speed, it moved towards my location.  It didn’t seem to be slowed by the slick floor or the wall; it moved straight up it. I debated for a moment if attempting to flee was the answer. The humans giving me instructions were of no use. There was so much yelling I had to lower the volume projected to ascertain what the correct action to take next would be.

As the creature arrived, I anticipated it stabbing me with one of the spikes. Instead, it looked closely and then touched me with one of the pads on the stabilizing feet. I could hear, no wait, see its thoughts. These weren’t mindless creatures; they had actually assumed the greeting party was the meal provided to them. They had assumed such soft, low intelligence creatures could only be food.

As the humanoids reacted to this news, I knew that soon we would be working with a higher level of species. I shut off my connection to Lt. Adamean and waited for it to be over.

 

 

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Small Metal Case by Erika Lance

To Brandy, my epicenter of weird crap that happens.

“She awoke to the sound of shattering glass…..”

Shit! She muttered silently to herself. She was not supposed to fall asleep.

Looking around, she assessed her situation. At least she was still alone in the room. Her tripwires and traps were all in place. The other traps and warning systems had not gone off.

She closed her eyes and listened for a moment. Faintly in the background, she heard the sound of buzzing. She could tell there were two of them and by the sounds of their movement they hadn’t found her yet.

She heard the sound of shattering glass again. They were trying to get her to move, to startle. This tactic would normally work for most. Talia, however, was not most.

As a courier, she would oftentimes have to hide with her cargo. She had gotten used to this and learned early on the scouts and even the hunters had a pattern to their approach. These were scouts. Which also meant they didn’t know what they were looking for, just that they were looking for something.

She checked the gauges on her suit. It was holding temperature. This suit was what truly made the difference for those like her. It was a thin mesh that caused sensors to detect nothing as it matched the exact temperature of the area where the person was standing. The only thing a courier had to contend with is the air they would breathe in would be matched to ensure there were no spikes or dips in this.

She looked down at the small metal box in front of her. She had taken the job because the request seemed easy for the pay. She assumed it had been posted by a wealthy person for whom price didn’t matter. However, getting to the item had not been the issue; getting out with it had. This was the third safe spot she had to stop in. She had also had to travel through areas that even the scouts wouldn’t travel as the normal routes were suddenly heavily patrolled.

She listened again and the buzzing was gone. They had given up and moved on to the next spot to check. She moved to quietly undo her equipment; she needed to finish this and drop her cargo. She was coiling up the last of the wires when she heard the sound of slithering scales and claws against stone.

It was a drudger and now it was time to RUN!

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The Spell by Erika Lance

For Bev Schroeder: You have always been an amazing friend. I hope you enjoy this.

Hearing his name out of the blue like that was like watching the ghosts of old times walk down new streets.

Ayla was not happy about having been made to return to her hometown. It had been over twenty-five years since she had left and even though she had never uttered the words out loud to anyone, herself included, she knew it was true.

Her aunt had called her to tell her that there had been a death. Most of the family she would have simply sent flowers. She was prepared to hear so many of the names except this one. Her aunt told her Patrick Barnes had died. PJ. She had left that evening.

Now sitting in the main diner in town looking out the window onto the frozen lake that was the main attraction for this small town, Ayla didn’t have a plan. She didn’t know the next step to take.

Lost in thought, she was startled when the waitress asked if she wanted more coffee. She looked down at her cup, coffee now cold and realized she was just as frozen as the lake. She needed to do something or leave. Doing nothing was just breaking down her carefully built walls.

Ayla shook her head and before the waitress could walk away, she asked, “Excuse me. Did you know PJ… I mean Patrick Barnes?” her voice was hoarse.

The look on the waitress’s face turned sad. “Yes. I knew him.” It almost seemed that she did not want to continue when she said, “His funeral is tomorrow,” and then she turned and walked away.

They were putting him, PJ, in the ground tomorrow. This was happening too soon.

Ayla got up and left a twenty on the table and headed out. When she got in the car, she knew there was only one place she could go. She drove for over an hour. The back roads were still there and even though she shouldn’t have remembered every detail of how to get there she did.

She got out of the car and the wind had picked up. She bundled up as best she could and headed out. It wasn’t far and she was standing in front of the tree. She could find the marks. The last bit of physical proof of what they had done.

The tree was still scorched, as if it couldn’t heal from the damage. It had been too great. The damage to them had been too great as well.

She brushed aside the snow to find the marks. There initials carved so many years ago within a crude star shape.  Rachel had found the spell, she was the first that… She had died five years to the day that PJ did. There were three more initials; hers, MR, and JP. None of them had spoken in years.

The spell that had bound them to their wish had also torn them apart. They had asked for something that was a child’s whim.

Now she didn’t know if there was a pattern or… she really didn’t know if she was next.
Again lost in thought and simply tracing and retracing the symbols, she heard a branch snap behind her… she turned. “Michael?” she asked as she saw his face.

 

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