Again continuing with the season of reflection theme

The Judge

This week's judge is author Lisa McCourt-Hollar, Mistress of Jezri's Nightmares.  Visit her website at

The Prompt

It was an act of mercy
  1. The story must start from the prompt.  This means the prompt must be the first words in the story.
  2. No more than 500 words (not including the prompt).  No less than 100 words.
  3. Any genre (in fact an unexpected genre will get you more points.)
  4. Entries must be submitted by Tuesday Noon EST
  5. The winner of each week's competition will be invited to judge the following week and post the winner's badge similar to the one on the right.
  6. Have fun!

Ryan Strohman
3/12/2012 04:17:59 am

It was an act of mercy. The monster had shredded the elderly woman’s legs, and not even the best surgeon in a sterile operating room could repair the damage. She had no chance at surviving, and so they shot her.

I stood and watched for several long moments, watching them discuss her fate and then ultimately take her life. I remained silent, choosing not to partake in their conference. The leader, Mike, and his cohort, Will, seemed to convince most of the others. I personally would have tried to do more for her, but that was my opinion.

They began to pack up, loading their guns and supplies into the pickup trucks. I walked up to Andy, the little one, and patted him on the shoulder. He turned, frightened, and then just simply walked quickly away. Apparently he hadn’t yet witnessed that callous side of humanity as of yet.

I sprung up into the bed of the black pickup and took a seat beside Lou, the military man. Why he wasn’t leading, I had no clue. Maybe it was the fact that he was older, slower than the two younger men. Maybe he just didn’t want to. Or maybe his decisions long ago had led to the deaths of others.

As the truck lurched forward, I leaned over toward Lou and slit his throat.

Spurting blood covered me instantly, and for a few moments they could spot me as my cloaking device had to compensate for the new mass and material. Mike and Will, up in the cab, began screaming and shooting out the back, but their efforts were still fruitless. Even with the vulnerability of being visible, these humans and their puny weapons were no match for me.

“Stop!” I said, and then there was the transdimensional pull as I felt myself being sucked away, back to Azzeraxcyz.

“What year was that, Earth time?”

“2028, Sir.”

“Then we need to go later. Try 2050. If we’re going to conquer these people, we need to know what they can do when their small arms firepower and defenses more closely match ours. We need a better idea of how they think, react, and kill. As one of their philosophers once said, it is absolutely imperative that we ‘know thy enemy.’”

379 words

Nancy P
3/12/2012 04:40:51 am

It was an act of mercy. I had knuckled under the pressure of my own conscience and had stepped in front of the proverbial bullet. All for the woman I loved. I knew that I could not have stopped her from fulfilling her destiny. She would hate me for doing what I did. Still, I could have done no less. Under any other circumstances, I would have been more than willing to allow her to fight her own battles. This one, however, I’d known she would lose. So I had gone willingly in her place. When it came down to it, I would have sacrificed it all, carved every bit of metal from my own body and gone back to being a plain man, even a cripple, all for her. I had no regrets about what I had done.

I hated to admit it, but I was thoroughly whipped. Then again, most of the time, I enjoyed it.

Hannah made her way through the parlor, moving with that lithe grace only achievable by those enhanced by Magesmithing. She was music given form, a piece of art to watch do something as simple as walk.

She threw me a look from the side of her eyes, a little twitch at the corner of her mouth hinting at a promise for later. Even those tiny messages were enough to have my heart pounding in double-time and my mouth suddenly bereft of moisture. She passed from the parlor to the kitchen, and I took a moment to relax, breathing in silent relief that she was out of my sight. It was hard to see her smiling at me, given my actions.

A moment later, Hannah returned. There was no indication of anger, but I knew she had discovered my interference. Her gait had changed – she had been silken smooth before, now she had the strong, patient stalk of a predator. Her green eyes locked onto my face, holding my form perfectly still on the settee. I was helpless as a mouse before the sheer power of that viper’s glare. She was going to make me pay for my insurrection.

Hannah straddled me, pressing me deep into the brocade. One of her hands planted itself right by my head. She lowered her face, perilously close to my lips, and I knew the end was close. She closed those eyes and gave a delicate little sniff.

“You bastard, you ate my cupcake…”

Nancy P
407 words

3/12/2012 05:01:53 am

"If People Were Horses"

It was an act of mercy. That's what they had said, anyway.

Margaret Green had just finished eating lunch when the phone rang. It was Miss Martin, the nurse at the grade school that Margaret's son, Timothy, attended.

"How's Tim doing?" his mother asked. "He's been getting really good grades, lately. I'm so proud of him."

"Yes, Meg - quite a scholar, that's for sure. That only makes my calling you even more difficult."

"Really? What happened?"

"At recess, today, your son was running with group of other boys and he tripped. There was something he obviously didn't see and his foot caught on it quite hard. The other kids even said they could hear it happening."

"Oh, my! Is my baby all right?"

"Well, Meg, of course the teacher on duty at the time brought him in to see me. His face was so contorted from the pain I almost didn't recognise him. This was certainly not just a sprain, but I took some X-rays to assess the damage and discovered that his entire lower leg had just shattered with multiple breaks. As I said, he must have been running very quickly and hit whatever it was with quite a bit of force."

"That doesn't sound very good, does it?" Meg managed to sob.

"He was only ten, and showed a lot of promise. Who knew this kind of thing would come up this early in his life. Of course, I hate to have to say this and I'll spare you the details, but I can assure you that Timothy was humanely destroyed."

3/12/2012 05:08:48 am

268 Words

3/12/2012 05:07:36 am

It was an act of mercy. I had rescued others, including my Angel, by snatching him to the flames of judgment. He tormented my Angel. He cheated on her. He believed he could do whatever he wanted with no consequences. My Angel had cried as he beat her; cried as he tried to turn her child against her. If only I had been there to save her those ten years he spent with her. I spent those years trapped in a world of his making, trapped in his shadow. I scurried from post to post, always in the dark. My Angel had been brave, but she became a shadow of herself. She too trembled, in the thunder of anything that moved. She looked at even me with fear.
I condemned him to a fiery hell and yet he still tried to escape. Didn’t he know I would do anything to stop him, even kill him? He protested oh how he protested. Excusing himself with tales of childhood trauma. Didn’t we all bare the pain and trauma of childhood? Why did he think that excused his behaviour? He used his fists on those lesser than he Did he think I would excuse that behaviour?
I looked through the glass at him. He seemed harmless but I knew better. I would keep him in the flames of judgement he wouldn’t escape. I was his judge and jury. I heard them but I ignored them only hearing their voices as they talked softly. I needed to keep my wits to keep him prisoner.
“The patient seemed agitated today, should we up his dosage of Thorazine?”
“Yes another episode like yesterday would be most unfortunate.”
“What is his story anyway?”
“His neighbours complained to the police about an obnoxious smell from his apartment. The police responded to find him holding a decomposed body of his wife .When they investigated they found a small child dead in another room, food piled up beside the bed. The weird thing they had been dead for ten years. They judged him and sentenced him to a mental facility for life.”
“How did he explain his crimes?”
“He screamed and cried that it wasn’t him. He claimed his twin brother had committed the crime.”
“Does he have a twin brother?”
“He did once but he killed him about the same time as his wife. They found his body in a closet.”
Nonsense these people were mistaken I wasn’t dead. I existed within him, keeping him in the flames of judgement. He would never escape my judgement.
428 words

3/12/2012 05:22:03 am

“It was an act of mercy,” is what the Darkness tells me to think when I anger over my countless victims. “We took them out of their retched lives and set them free.”

I do not see it that way, no matter how hard I try. These people were the sons and daughters of someone. How could I pretend otherwise? I live to feed the hunger; there is nothing more of my life. I cannot find more meaning to my life than that.

I was happy in the ground. At least there, I did not chase after one victim to the next to feed the never filled hunger that burns in my gut. There I lay in mourning of my departed love; a life now so far away from what I am today. To reenter the labyrinth under the city is my greatest wish, but all the gates and entries are once again closed. Its depths of comforting darkness, I miss the most, lost to me. I cannot return. I cannot die. I cannot love. I cannot do anything but feed. The Darkness wishes me to put all other thoughts away but feeding. How can I do that? I am not the vermin it once nested in I am a man.

The woman I ran from, no more than two weeks ago, haunts me; the way she looks so much like Fine frightens and excites me. I stay, always, out of her sight. I do not wish her to see this sorry excuse for a man that can only bring her grief, but I watch her. Yes, I watch her. I know where she lives, whom she speaks with and where she works. I feel some sort of comfort in her and… hope.

Obviously, the Darkness says, “take her. Feed on her flesh. She can be part of you for eternity.” Then its howling laughter echoes in my head as it pushes me out of the shadows toward her.

“You,” she says not surprised at all to see me face to face but a statement of affirmation. “I’ve been looking for you, but you seem to vanish every time I chase after you.”

I am at loss for words. I feel the hunger shake my every nerve; it wants fed. The Darkness continues its insane laughter.

“Are you all right? You look pale.”

“I’m fine,” I fight back my instinctual growl that comes normally when I speak.

She extends her hand to me and says, “I’m F…”

I cannot take the sweet look she gives me any longer and most of all I cannot hear her name. I turn on my heel and run, again, from her.


446 Words #WIP

3/12/2012 10:54:47 pm


It was an act of mercy. They had overrun cities like the little vermin they were. Devouring anything that was placed in front of them before running off to the next thing to catch their attention. It hadn’t been bad before. Twenty years ago, there were some that had been smart but it was so small, it was thought to just be a fluke.

Then more picked up as technology got more advanced, the more they seemed to breed.

Gen’s lip curled down as he sat on the rooftop, swirling a finger in a bowl of water. Behind him, the plants and potted trees reached their branches up to the sky. Wood creaked as moaned as they expanded, swallowing up brick and stone as the roof was overcome, verdant.

He looked up at the sky as clouds pulled together, giving a cackle of laughter that held a razor edge of madness within it. Leaves trembled. They were all vermin, spreading and spreading until they swallowed all the open spaces. Cutting down trees, killing off wildlife, destroying habitats of his friends. Green eyes flickered and tears welled up, spilling down his cheeks. The tears landed on the edge of the roof he was sitting on. He had lost so many friends to the pestilence. It needed to be cleansed. He knew it would go slowly, but he and his kind were strong.

The creatures thought they were the top of the food chain. That nothing could stop them. The only thing that they warred against was each other. Everything else they slaughtered without mercy.

Gen took a breath and scrubbed at his face, picking up the rose that was blooming by his hand. “Come, come. It is time to get to work. There is so much to do. They will learn to respect us.” The sadness evaporated and he grinned, big and wide. The rose wound its stem around his arm and his skin color changed to match that of the plants he was with. Pottery broke as the roots of the trees pushed free, every growing.

“It’s time to take things back from them. They think they are so pious. They will know that I am doing this for the greater good.” He leaned his head back and cackled as a storm rumbled in the distance, lightning flashing in the billowing clouds. “We will take back this city and the humans will rue the day when they destroyed forests and homes without thought. Killing the beings that nurtured and lived in the wild.” His hair grew and darkened from the dirty blonde, ears shaping to razor points. He bared sharp teeth as he looked down on the so called humanity, vines and branches stretching out as the plants behind him grew, responding to him. “They will thank me for taking them back to the beginning, without all the electronic interference.”

480 words

3/13/2012 07:00:30 am

I'm not eligible, but I wanted to play along anyway. Thank you Wakefield for letting me be judge this week. I wasn't an easy decision.

An Act Of Mercy
By Lisa McCourt Hollar

It was an act of mercy. That’s what the doctors had told her when she’d agreed to take her mother off life support. It wasn’t mercy that Tara was after. She hated her mother. The woman had been the cause of all her misery, until she ran away at the age of fifteen.

Even then, the woman haunted her. Every time Tara looked in the mirror, she saw her mother’s cold blue eyes staring back at her. And right below, the scar from the cigarette burn she had inflicted on her, when she caught her new husband…the third one in as many years, looking at the young girl.

It wasn’t the only scar her mother had left. Her body was covered with proof that not every woman was fit to be a parent. Tanya and seen Tara as competition, even when she’d been as young as seven. Her jealousy eventually drove her husband away. He had tried to get custody of Tara, but the courts always favored the mother. A few well placed rumors, some pictures the ‘loving’ mother had found in the back of his closet and no judge in the world was going to let him anywhere near his daughter.

Tara leaned over her mother’s bed and looked deep into her eyes. The blue had faded over the years. She had lost her beauty long ago, the effect of alcohol and a life lived too fast and hard. Her last boyfriend had beat her, damaging her spine. Her mother was only alive because of the machines. She would never walk again, never be able to eat solid food. She couldn’t even breathe on her own. Now Tara hoped to get some satisfaction, seeing her mother take the last few breaths of her life, before the doctors disconnected her. She was looking for fear. Instead she saw relief. Her mother knew what was happening and was looking forward to the end of the pain. This really was an act of mercy.

“Stop,” Tara said, reaching out and staying the doctors hand. “I can’t do it.”

“I promise you, she isn’t ever going to recover. We can leave her connected, that is your right as her next of kin, but your mother will be in constant pain. There’s nothing we can give her to ease her suffering.”

“I understand that, but she’s still my mother. If there’s any chance at all…”

The doctor nodded, understanding. He had seen this before. It was hard to let go of a loved one. “Perhaps after some time has passed…”

“Perhaps,” Tara said, feigning a sob as the doctor left the room. When he was gone, Tara leaned back over her mother’s bed and looked into her eyes. “Hell will have to wait mother. I get a go at you first.”

Now Tara saw the fear she was looking for.

Word Count: 476


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