Fact or Fiction Stalemate

Fact or Fiction Stalemate

by Trulynd W. Hall

Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, July 2022

 The fireworks display of explosions didn’t help ease my tension while I sat in my cockpit. A stealth attack. Of all the missions his had to be my first. Our enemy this time were the Neo Martian Alliance Corps, NMAC is what they call it. This skirmish took place near the martian moon. I stare out into the open space where the main fleets were battling. I glance around the cockpit of my fractal, recalling when I first got into it.

“Rick! Rick!” A woman in a space suit shouted at me.

“Ah! Sorry Major Carmen.” I replied but anyone would be awestruck upon your witnessing their first Fractal. As the Major chattered on my attention paced back over to the giant robot in the hanger. Fractals, a two story robot used for warfare but that wouldn’t seem likely if you saw it in person. They resemble a giant bean with stubby arms and legs.

“Ehehe.” I giggled to myself at the contrasting design and purpose of the machine.

“Something you want to share officer Rick?” Major darted at me. I stiffen up and shake my head in protest. She turned back around and restarted the briefing. Even with her back turned I could still feel her glaring eyes.

My recollection ended as my Squad Leader Flash flew up to me in in Fractal.

“Keep your chin up Rick! We won’t fail this mission!” he reassured me. Failing wasn’t much of a threat to be fair. It was almost foolproof.

Phase One, hide in an asteroid belt several kilometers away from the main skirmish. Phase Two, wait for a signal of a fake retreat. Phase Three, use our Claws, special tools used to grab large objects, to hurl asteroids into the NMAC fleet.

After that it’s easy pickings. It’s almost too easy if you ask me. I glance back over to see my Squad Leader flexing his Fractal’s arms. I couldn’t help but laugh seeing him attempt the pose with the stubby arms and one cartoonishly large claw. We got this, I thought to myself until a certain thought rolled into my mind. A thought that created a chain reaction of anxiety.

What if I miss?

What if the main fleet loses?

What if they have a secret squad also?

…What if I mess up?

A flood of anxiety drowned me in doubts. Before I could voice my fears I saw it. A glimmer weaving in and out of the asteroid belt. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief, it was too fast to be a Fractal.

“B22T” “Run” B22t” My radio went off with commands from Flash.

“Rick Run!” I heard him clearly this time.

“What’s going on?” I frantically radioed back.

“The mission “B22T failed…”. Flash murmured. Failed? Failed! Before I could process my feelings a volley of lasers rained upon the stealth team. My comrades Fractals were struck with pinpoint precision. I grab my controls and sloppily maneuver behind an asteroid.

“B22T” It’s Rosenthal. “B22T” Flash remarked in horror. A shiver hit my spine. Rosenthal….

“There’s one unit you must not engage with. Rosenthal, piloted by Jack Love, an Ace pilot with over 30 skirmishes under his belt. “Major Carmen said with uneasiness. “His Fractal is a special unit that can easily outpace any normal Fractal. I repeat. Do not Engage!”

The Major’s words echoed throughout my head to the point my lips were mimicking her words.

Do not engage.

My fingers mash my radio buttons as I try to get a reply from one of my comrades. Nothing but silence. I grit my teeth and swallow my grief. I contemplate what to do. I stand no chance against an Ace. Then something caught my eye, one of my allies silent Fractal floating in space like debris. I traced over the robotic cadaver and spotted my chance for at least a single blow on the Ace pilot.

“B22T”. Hello? Hello? Can you hear me? “B22T” an unfamiliar man’s voice hits my radio. The voice was deep yet comforting. I slowly reach for my radio. If I reply he’ll know my position. I contemplate on responding to his call. My eyes dart up to one of my monitors which showed the vitals of my squad. Red was dead and green was alive. All red but me. Witnessing the reality of war made my emotions swirl.

“I CAN HEAR YOU ACE!” I screamed over my radio. Now I have no choice but to confront him. I grab my controls in anger and prepare my attack.

“UUUUUOOOOGGHH” I shout in my cockpit. My Fractal glides out of it’s hiding spot with an asteroid in my claw. Once my vision sees past the asteroid, Rosenthal was already there.

“Found you kid!” The Ace smoothly replied.

Before I knew it my claw arm was blasted off.

“Fooled you Ace!” I exclaimed. A second claw grabs his Fractal, this claw was one I took from my allies Fractal. Now if he dares blast his laser we’ll both go out.

“Remarkable kid.” The Ace sounded shocked if he’s never been in a pinch.

The explosions in the open space continued as I remained stuck to my number 1 threat. It was excruciating sitting here waiting. As my mind drifted off I heard a familiar static.

“B22T”. “Hey kid…I give.” The Ace whispered.

Huh? Was he being serious? He was being serious. All of his weapons were released from his Fractals hands, left to float in space.

“Hopefully that’s proof enough kid.” He begins another broadcast. “This is Jack Love, Rosenthal is out of commission, operation failed.”

I slumped down in my seat, my body loosened and my mind cleared. Major Carmen called in to my praise my efforts. I released Rosenthal and after a moment of silence we turn away from each other and fly away.

The Last Cryptid

The Last Cryptid

by Trulynd W. Hall

Third place, Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, July 2022

 “Is he dead?” the boy in a green tracksuit asks.

“Poke him with a stick again.” The girl with fiery red hair says while standing a safe distance away from the possibly dead body. The boy grabs a nearby twig and before he prods the lanky man stuck in the mud.

”Jay wait!” She exclaims. “What if he’s dead?”

“Jesse that’s what we’re trying to find out!” Jay tiredly expressed. Jay turns back to the body about to poke it.

“OK here goes.” He shakes his arms ready for the body’s reaction.

“Joy wait!” Jesse adds again. “What if…”

“Jesse please! Do you want me to poke it or not?” Joy asks while turning to Jesse. Only to find her now pale and pointing behind him. Jay made a guess to the reality behind his back. If it wasn’t a supposedly dead man walking it was way worse.

Jay nervously starts to turn around and witnesses the tall lanky body stand upright.

“He’s alive!” Jesse screams while flailing her arms in the air. The man didn’t look right, his proportions are out of place. Arms too long, legs too short and a particularly slim head. His left arm was twisted in the wrong direction as well.

“Are you OK?” chattered from Jay’s mouth. The man glances around before noticing his broken arm. He reaches for his arm.

“Stop it’s broken!” Jesse shouted in worry. Before her next sympathetic plea could release, the man grabs his arm and readjust it back in place with a loud snap in the process. The kids went and shuddered at the sight and sound.

“Hello?” Jay whimpered while backing away. Finally the man met their frames in his sight. His recently broken arm swings up and the kids flinch at the idea he was going to attack. Instead he reaches the back of his head and scratches the back of his shaggy hair. His baggy eyes meet theirs.

“Who are you brats?” he muttered.

“Brats!” Jesse shouts. “We found you lying in a ditch! Thought you were dead.! Jay let’s go! Never should have helped him!”

“You wanted to poke him, actually wanted ME to poke him,” Jay sarcastically added. Jesse gives him a glare that could cook bacon. The man interrupted the theatrics of the kids.

“It’s not safe here. Go home, he said while diving in his pockets. Jesse was about to add another angry retort but almost as if the man already knew her response, he cuts her off.

“No arguing, there’s something dangerous lurking in these woods.” He replies after pulling an object out of his dirty pants.

“Jay we’re outta here!  We don’t need to help some smelly old guy!” Jesse proceeds to stomp away. J fixates on the man’s hand which was now holding a yoyo.

“Jay let’s go!!” She shouts, already a few paces ahead of him. But Jay couldn’t look away, he felt like something amazing would happen in the next few moments.

“Jay Parker Williams!” Jesse voice yells from a distance. He hated when she used his full name. Jay turned around to berate her use of his middle name. That’s when it happened. As his back was turned a thunderous explosion boomed from behind him. The sound was loud enough to lift the kids a few inches in the air. Once again Jay looked at Jesse pointing with an even paler face them before.

“Jay. Don’t move.” Jesse mouthed. “Stay still.” Jay felt a breathy air behind him. His knees started to wobble and teeth chattered. He then heard a low growl right next to his ear. There was something behind him, something big and possibly hungry. A familiar voice yells sharply.

“Run it’s Bigfoot!” The lanky man starts while prepping his yo-yo. Jay finally glances back and sees the bigger than a bear, wilder than an ape creature looming over him. The man reiterates his command.

“Run!” He pleas to Jay.

“Hey! Hey! Over here smelly!” Jessie shouts waving her arms, attempting to look big. Bigfoot’s attention flies to her. Jesse frozen in fear attempts to flee but only manages to stumble to her feet. Jay in a hurry to save Jesse tosses rocks at the beast. The man from afar takes this chance a[nd] hurls the yoyo at Bigfoot. The rope was too long, yards long. It wraps around the beast leg stumbling it.

“Catch the yo-yo!” He shouts to at Jay. “Toss it around Bigfoot you two.” He added. The duo play catch with a yo-yo until Bigfoot was entangled in what seemed to be miles of rope. Bigfoot falls to the ground with a loud smash accompanied.

“Good job team!” The man gave a thumbs up.

“Team? Jesse snorted, waving her finger at his face.

“Is that really Bigfoot?” Jay asked, killing the argument. The man nodded. Jay’s eyes lit up!

“Cryptids are real?” Jay jumped gleefully, while Jesse rolled her eyes. The man makes a small smirk.

“Want to see?”