Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fence Jumpers: Part 32

(Image courtesy of Pinterest.)

It took them four days just to reach the other end of the city. They had to wait out a Nabber sweep, which cost them a day, just to be on the safe side. They didn't resume their search until they passed the general area of the Coyote hideout. The trio searched the area outside of the city, foraging or hunting for food as they searched.

Skyler's mood didn't improve much. He was sullen and moody, and eventually Jonah and Grace avoided talking to him at all. He knew he was being a jerk, but he couldn't help it. He was tired and frustrated, and it didn't look like there was anything good waiting for them.

On the fifth day, they had almost made it to the northeast corner of the city. There weren't many roads around here, but sparse forest. The terrain was hilly, however, which could provide some cover.

"Skyler, we're gonna have to go back," Jonah said as they wandered away from the city, exploring a very old and very overgrown cemetery. The fencing had been piled with trash, rusted metal, and storm-torn trees and boughs.

Skyler sighed tiredly, slumping against a tall grave marker. The cool breeze helped calm him, but he didn't feel any better.

"Skyler?" Grace called. "Come on, Jumper, let's hit the streets home."

Skyler sighed again and pushed off the gravestone. A strong hand suddenly gripped his shoulder by his neck hard, making him gasp. Grace yelped for Jonah in alarm, and Skyler felt the barrel of a pistol press against his head as a strong hand wrapped around his neck, making it hard to breathe.

"Hey!" Jonah cried out. "Let him go!"

"Our land, our rules, boyo." the man holding Skyler at gunpoint said. "Now do as we say, and your friend won't get a hole blasted through his head."

Grace looked ready to panic. Skyler strained at the man's arm, trying to steady his breathing. Which was hard when you had a gun to your temple, but trying was better than letting his mind focus on fear.


Hannah hadn't been in the poor district in months. She could never stand the smell, and she had passed out the last time she had gone there. She and her friends hadn't had the special masks before, since those had been at the old hideout, so searching that district for their captured friends had been minimal.

Today they had the masks, but they weren't searching for Jumpers. They were visiting a friend of Wes's. She and Kate were going with, and they would be attempting to get this "friend" of his to help them stake out the new facility Horatio had started.

Wes hadn't been thrilled at the idea Kate was going along, but he couldn't argue she would be helpful if things went south. Hannah understood why Wes didn't want Kate along, besides the fact he had always disliked her since day one. Visiting someone from his past would be painful. No one but Hannah and Kip knew about it, and confronting it with Kate around would be awkward.

Hannah held her breath for a few seconds, letting the metal canister attached to the mask filter the air for another few breaths. They walked carefully through the streets, alleys full of garbage, and gross puddles in the potholes.

Wes tapped her shoulder and pointed. Hannah turned to see a short alley. "That's where we found Skyler, when you guys first came." Wes smiled a little. "Kid was terrified of us. Cody gave him his mask to breathe, and Skyler pitched a fit."

Hannah smiled slightly. It seemed so long ago now, joining the Fence Jumpers. They had been just two kids running from home caught out on a Nabber sweep. Hannah had tried to keep them away from Skyler by pushing him down a hill into the poor district and running off to draw them away. Then she met Cody, and he went to find Skyler. He hadn't even known either of them, and he was willing to risk his own neck for her kid brother.

Cody had saved Skyler's life more than once after that, and he had kind of become Skyler's hero. It had taken Hannah long days to help Skyler recover from the shock and grief once it had caught up to him. After they had jumped off the train and found their little mechanic's garage, Skyler fell apart. But it had built him back up again, and now he was teaching kids how to jump fences. It was his turn to be the one kids looked up to. And he was good at it. Hannah admired his strength. She wanted something like that. She wanted to be strong for others when everything looked really crappy.

"Hannah," Wes said, pulling her from her thoughts. "This way, daydreamer."

Hannah followed him and Kate down a narrow street to a dilapidated trailer home. Hannah reached into her pocket for her switchblade, scanning the surrounding houses, as Wes pulled off his mask and went up the two stairs to the tiny porch and knocked on the door, then scratched at it with his sneaker. Then they waited.

And waited.

Without warning, the door burst open. Kate and Hannah snapped open their knives, and Wes jumped back. A huge man stood in the door, wearing jeans and a green muscle shirt. His dark skin nearly blended in to the dim interior of the trailer home, and his dark eyes locked onto Wes.

"Well." he crossed his arms. "How much money do you owe, Hawk, and which one of them is the mother? I ain't helpin' you if it's both of 'em."


"What is it you want?" Jonah asked, trying to keep his voice even. "Can you just lower the gun?"

"Hand over your food and cash," the man barked. "Now!"

Skyler winced as the pistol pressed harder against his head. He choked when the arm tightened. Jonah backed up, swinging his backpack across the short space of grass between him and Skyler. Another man hurried forward and rummaged through the bag. His clothes were soiled and torn, and his beard seemed to sprawl untamed as much as his hair did.

Spots danced in Skyler's vision. He gasped, but only a strangled click came out.

"Let him go!" Grace pleaded. "You're hurting him!"

"He's fine," the man said. "Toss yours over too. Or bring it over. You're a pretty thing."

Anger burst through Skyler, and he tried to twist away. The arm tightened, and the cold pistol muzzle dug into his head. Skyler coughed, unable to breathe now. His legs buckled and he clawed at the man's arm. Grace tossed her bag over, and it too was searched.

"What's this?" the man pulled a very wrinkled magazine clipping out of the bag. Skyler recognized it as one of Madison's articles. The man skimmed it and looked at Grace. "You this Madison who writes these?"

"What? No." Grace shook her head. "She's a friend of ours, though. Have you read her articles?"

"Yeah." the man nodded. "Is it true?"

Blackness closed in on Skyler, and he didn't hear Grace reply. His tense muscles relaxed as he slipped into unconsciousness.

Something shoved against his chest. Skyler coughed and his brain realized he could breathe. He gasped sharply, inhaling and coughing.

"Easy, easy!" Jonah's voice came through the fog. Skyler coughed again, grabbing at the first solid thing his hands found, which happened to be Jonah's arms. "Easy, Skyler. You're okay. Relax and breathe."

"I told you!" Grace was shouting. "He couldn't breathe!"

"--appened?" Skyler rasped, looking around. What was he doing on the ground?"

"Don't try to talk," Jonah said. "That guy had you in a tight headlock. You were unconscious for a few seconds." He gently pushed Skyler back down on the grass. Skyler inhaled slowly, savoring in the ability to do so.

"Sorry, boyo." a man looked at him. "Didn't mean to knock you out."

Skyler nodded and coughed again. Jonah gave his shoulder a squeeze. Skyler pushed himself slowly upright, swaying a little and catching hold of Jonah for support.

"You three are friends of this Carter woman?" the man asked. Skyler nodded, messaging his throat a little. "Is what she says true? I've read her articles in that new fancy magazine. That's some worrying stuff."

"It is." Jonah nodded. "Skyler's seen it firsthand. He and Grace both were in the hands of the mayor, and he pretty much told them."

Skyler got to his feet. Jonah stood beside him, watching him carefully. Skyler looked at the man. He had holstered his pistol. The backpacks were by his feet, and at least a dozen other men stood behind him. All dressed in threadbare clothing and wild hair.

"Anything being done about it?" the man asked.

"We're working on that," Grace said. "We three have been looking for a place that we and our friends can stay. It's not safe in the old sector anymore."

The man nodded. He looked at Skyler.

"I know you got no reason to trust us," he said, "but we'd like to help. This cemetery is big, and we can fortify it. Far enough from the city so no one would know."

Skyler stared. "You're serious?"

"Serious as I was putting the gun to your head," the man said. Skyler swallowed and nodded. The man held out his hand. "Victor Maron. Now come over a get yourselves a bite and we can talk."


(Image courtesy of Pinterest.)

Hannah blinked. She leaned over to Kate. "One of us looks--"


"Neither," Wes said. He grinned. The man in front of him grinned and pulled Wes into a tight hug. Hannah was sure the man could crack a rib with just a hug.

"Where have you been, kid?" the man asked. "You went off one night and I never saw you around again."

"It's... It's a long story..." Wes said quietly. He cleared his throat. "Girls, this is Fred James. Fred, this is Hannah and Kate."

"Hello." Fred nodded to them. "Well, come in. Don't stand out in these streets. My boy and I have to talk."

"Your boy?" Hannah repeated as she and Kate entered the cramped trailer home. It was nicely kept, but still not a place Hannah wanted to be in. Fred closed the door after them. She was very glad Wes considered him a friend, and that Kate was there.

"Yeah." Fred nodded. "I knew Hawk's brother, and I looked after his kid brother when he died. He's always had a place to crash here if he needed it." he looked at Wes. "But then he disappeared, and I never knew what happened to him."

"Sorry." Wes shuffled his feet. "I... had stuff I needed to do..."

Fred looked at him. "You tried to overdose, didn't you?"

Wes didn't reply. Fred nearly swore. "Hawk, you idiot--"

"Don't, Fred," Wes snapped. "I was an idiot, yeah, but someone found me... He took me in and straightened me out."

Fred stared hard at Wes. "You didn't think to let me know? I was worried."

"I'm sorry," Wes mumbled. "I wasn't exactly in the right mind to let you know... then things came up..." Wes looked at Fred. "But now we need your help."

"What's wrong?" Fred asked.

"You hear about the mayor's new correctional facility?"

"Some. Why?"

"The guy who saved me is in there," Wes said. "But he hasn't done anything wrong, and he's probably being tortured. The mayor's a jerk, and we need to take him down. We need to get someone on the inside of that facility, or at least stake out the place for my group to go in and get him out."

"Your group?" Fred shifted. "What've you gotten yourself into, kid?"

Wes considered for a minute. He looked at Hannah and Kate. Hannah saw something like ferocity in his eyes. An anger that had been boiling beneath the surface and was ready to rise up and attack full force.

Wes looked back at Fred. "A war. And we need every dang man we can get."

Fred's expression didn't change. He watched Wes thoughtfully. Wes stared right back.

"You've grown up, kid," the man said at last. "Now pull out a seat for the ladies and we'll talk. I hope there's a plan behind the tough-guy attitude."

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Writing Moods

This was a writing exercise I did for school, where I had to pick a mood/emotion and write a scene to communicate the emotion. :D The mood I chose is below, so you can read the scene before you see the emotion I chose if you like. (Excusing any errors. I was to write/submit it without stopping to edit.)

(Image courtesy of Pinterest.)

Neil stared at the board. He gripped the edges of the table.

"Two minutes," Zach murmured. Neil grimaced and lifted the metal cube brought it towards its slot.

"Careful, Neil-"

"Shut up, Beth," Neil growled through clenched teeth. He dropped the cube into the slot and flinched when it landed with a metallic click.

Neil looked up at the door. The obnoxious buzz went off again. Neil scowled and ran his hands through his hair, examining the board.

"One minute," Zach said.

"I don't know!" Neil exclaimed. "I've tried everything!"

"You still have time," Beth encouraged. "Try the blue cube."

"You want to drown us all?" Neil cast her a sharp glare. "Think, Beth. It's always been color coordinated!" Neil froze. He looked back at the board, his eyes sped over the board, eyeing and dismissing each cube.

"Thirty sec-"

"Shut up, Zach, I know!" Neil shouted. He snatched the wooden cube painted silver. Punching the button by his hand the metal cube was ejected out of the slot. Neil swiped it away. He jumped when the slow, methodic beeps began. Neil shoved the cube in the slot, but it went in point first.


"Working on it!"

The mood I chose for this one was anxiety. :D

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Character Interview: Westly "Wes" Hawkins

Well, here we are with our second character interview! :D I've had a few readers submit some excellent questions for Wes, and I hope you all will enjoy. :)

(Image courtesy of Pinterest.)

Inkspots: Hello Wes. :) Take a seat, make yourself comfortable. How are you?
Wes: *sits* Hi. I'm fine... A lot of stuff going on.

Inkspots: *gives him a glass of water* I see. Well, just relax. We have quite a few questions for you. These first four are from Miss Kya Lightwing. The first: What's your favorite color?
Wes: Color? o.O Uh... I like dark blue. The way the night sky is sometimes.

Inkspots: That sounds peaceful. Next question from Kya: What do you like to do in your spare time (if you have any...)?
Wes: I like going out for a run. Hit the streets and just run. In the old sector there's debris, so running and avoiding rubble keeps my mind focused and busy. And exercise is a bonus.

Inkspots: Okay. Third question: Have you ever wished you weren't in the Jumpers and living a "normal" life instead?
Wes: *hesitates* ...Yes. Not many Jumpers come from full, intact families, but those who do talk about them, and... it sounds nice. But then sometimes, no. Because I wouldn't be fighting to keep those who do from losing the family they have because they have run. No kid should have to leave that.

Inkspots: Aww. Okay, Kya's final question: Any dreams/ambitions?
Wes: *smirks* Good one. Let's see... well, if there was any hope of it, I would want to be a professor or teacher of some kind... high school or college. But right now, I want to make sure the Jumpers will all have a place to go once this is over. I'll start a place if I have to.

Inkspots: You seem to care for these kids quite a bit... Now we're on to Miss Kay J. Fields' questions. Her first question is: Living on the run, is there one thing in particular you miss having/doing most?
Wes: Oh, man, one thing? Coffee. Or pizza. Probably pizza.

Inkspots: Nice. B) Next question: Do you like music?
Wes: Yeah, if it's not too loud. I'd prefer it not too loud, but not slow and soft. We had a radio in my house, and my mom and I would listen to all the new hits on Friday nights.

Inkspots: Aww, that sounds like fun. Kay's second question comes in two parts: Can you describe what you think of as happening on a really bad day, and then on a really good one?
Wes: Ooh, yes I can. A really bad day is if we got caught on the streets during a Nabber sweep. Us older Jumpers had to look out for the younger ones, and make sure they get back safe... *looks like his mind is wandering, but he clears throat* A good day... we bring in new kids. We bring them in safe and give them a hot meal and a warm bed. It's good to see them settling down. And gives the rest of us a kind of morale boost.

Inkspots: Interesting. Last question from Kay: Last, what do you like to do just to chill, relax, or hang out?
Wes: *smiles* Talk with friends. Or listen. It's fun to talk about our day, even though it's kind of all the same for everyone. Comparing notes on fence jumping techniques, where to hide. It was fun.

Inkspots: That sounds fun. The last questions are from Anonymous. His first: What do you think of Skyler taking charge as the leader for the past two years?
Wes: *snorts* That's a good question... I suppose I don't mind sometimes. He's got a good head, but sometimes he's an idiot... but as he's grown up, his judgment got better. :) So it's alright. Kind of weird having one of the youngest lead, but he's stubborn. He's got a good heart, and he's fit into it well. I probably wouldn't make a great leader anyways.

Inkspots: I'll bet, and I'm sure you would have (you have Hannah to keep you in line. ;) ). Second question: What do you think of the Coyotes?
Wes: They're alright. They've done good work where we left off, but they're not as actively delinquent as we Jumpers are. They're just a shelter for kids. But they seem like good people. Even the one (won't say who) who knocked me out. =_=

Inkspots: Ha! They sound like good allies to have. Alright, Anon's last question and last question of the interview: Do you (fully) trust the two outsiders, Madison and Emma?
Wes: Madison, yes. I didn't at first, but now... she's been the best thing that happened to us in a long time. She's almost like a mom to us, like Kip is a dad. *pauses* Emma... I'm not sure... I do, in a way, but there's still that bit of doubt... you know? After Claire, I don't want to trust so easily. She helped Grace, but... it's different. Her knowing Kip helps, but I don't want to throw in all the chips yet.

Inkspots: Fair enough. Well, that about wraps it up. Thank you for joining us Wes. It was great getting to know you.
Wes: *grins* Thanks for having me. Thanks Kya, Kay, and Anon. You three had good questions. B)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fence Jumpers: Part 31

(Image courtesy of Pinterest.)

"This is all two years old," Darcy explained as Skyler watched over her shoulder. "Horatio must've shut it out of the main computers, so it's never updated. I can't get into that yet without giving out our location, but I did take a look around at the files, and guess. What. I. Found."

Darcy expanded a tab of a map. Skyler scanned it over and recognized it as a map of Cincinnati. Darcy pointed to the gray edges. "The old sector." She pointed to the green within. "The inner city. Red is government buildings – including the factory – blue is businesses and all the boring stuff but..." Darcy zoomed in on a red. "This one, I realized, is very nearly into the old sector, but still an active place, as of two years ago. I did some digging, and guess what it used to be?"

"Doesn't the map say?"

"A hotel." Darcy grinned. "But it's red."

Skyler stared at the screen. "The Jumpers..."

"Exactly." Darcy nodded. "We had checked over there. It's on the opposite end of the city, but from your map and Coyote searches, we haven't been around there yet since it's too close to the city."

"Darcy you are brilliant." Skyler gripped her shoulders. Darcy grinned and sat back, looking incredibly proud of herself, but then leaned forward again.

"Oh, also this." She clicked around and brought up several diagrams. "Cyborg developments. Schematics, technical stuff, ordering parts, and how the process is done. Kind of gross, but it could be useful if it's not already outdated."

Skyler nodded, his heart tight in his chest. They had found them. They found their friends. "I'm gonna grab the Jumpers and head that way."

"Whooaaaa slow down." Darcy swiveled in her chair and grabbed his wrist. "Skyler, we need to think about this. We need to watch the place first. And we need to focus on Kip before Horatio starts whatever he plans on doing to him."

Skyler slumped. Darcy watched him. "We'll rescue them, Skyler. Don't worry. We just need to be careful."

"I know..." Skyler nodded. "I just want this all to end."

"We all do." Darcy smiled. "And we're making that happen. You guys have held out this long. I'm pretty sure the rest of your friends are as tough as you are." Her hand slid down into his to give it a brief squeeze before she pulled away and turned to the computer. "Now go fetch your Jumpers and Conway. And possibly Kate."

When Darcy had briefed everyone on her finds, the Jumpers were ecstatic. Conway and Skyler set to planning while Skipper ran to tell Wes and Hannah. Emma was still trying to figure out a rescue plan for Kip, but having a new plan to figure out made the Jumpers feel like they had a chance again.

"Say any plan works without hiccup and we get everyone out," Conway said as they sat around. "How do we get everyone back here? Let's say the Coyotes captured the other day are there too. We have maybe fifty or sixty kids we need to transport from the hotel to here. It's all the way on the other end of the city. Horatio's gonna have Nabbers sweeping the streets, and with those new firearms... it's going to get ugly."

"Where did those guns come from?" Jonah asked. "How did he get so many? You'd think someone in town would've heard that the mayor has new toys."

"He's managed to slide cyborg creation under the people's noses for years," Skyler said. "More or less, depending on who believes Madi's articles. And judging by the lack of riots, I'm guessing not even the magazine idea we tried has worked."

"We don't need riots," Conway said. "That's going to endanger more lives. This us against him. We don't need to draw the populace into it. We need to start thinking like an army. Horatio has one, and it's only a matter of time before he unleashes his cyborg forces."

"How do you know?" Skyler asked.

Conway shrugged. "He's going to see us as a threat who won't go down via Nabbers. He's going to bring out the expert exterminators, and he won't care what people think because he has the power to stop them too."

"What would you suggest?"

"We sabotage his resources," Conway said. "I'll do some digging and figure out where the guns are coming from. Darcy can get us access into the main computer systems, and we can do whatever damage we like in there, or use it to pull info, including anything on Kip."

Surprised yelps from the cavern made everyone jump. Kate rushed to the cavern. Skyler's heart raced. Not again. Please, not again. They were safe. They had to be.

"It's just Madison." Kate came back. Madison followed her.

"Oh, thanks, hon." Madison rolled her eyes. "'Just Madison' has some big news. And it's not good."

"What?" Skyler slumped. He didn't know why bad news still surprised him. He should be used to it by now.

"Watch," Madison said, turning her tablet screen to face them. "The mayor had a special announcement this morning."

She touched the screen, and a video began playing, showing Horatio's face.

"Today," Horatio was saying, looking out over what Skyler assumed was a crowd of people, "our city's crime rates have been far too high. Theft runs rampant, muggings occur, putting civilians at risk on the streets. Our local shops and larger businesses have been vandalized, but even with the capture of these young delinquents, crime still occurs.

"Criminals have taken refuge in the outer edges of our city, in the old sections of the city. But today, we are going to fix that. We will begin to clean up the old sectors, to perhaps one day make way for reconstruction and bring it to its former glory.

"Of course, any project like this needs people. To both clean up the old sectors, and control the crime in our city, we will be creating a program that will employ the criminals we have in custody. Under close supervision they will work to clean the old sector, to help them back on the path of honest, paying work."

Madison paused it.

"Well that sucks," Wes said. "This place is gonna be crawling with criminals and security."

"We'll need to get out of the old sector," Skyler said. "Head out into the woods. They'll find our hideout here sooner or later."

Madison nodded. "That's what I thought, and we can scout out places later. But... there's more, guys... I need you all to stay calm and rational for this next bit."

"What's wrong?" Conway sat forward. Madison tapped the play button again.

"But you may ask about the criminal whose records deem them far too dangerous to be let out," Horatio said. "The ones whose psychological instability makes them unable to be let out to work.

"For these people, we have developed the Cincinnati Correctional Facility. We have developed methods and therapies to help them recover, and it is our hope that they will eventually be able to join the work, and the exercise will help reinforce the treatments."

Wes shifted. "I don't--"

"To show you how successful the facility's treatments are, we will be starting with a criminal who has aided and abetted the delinquent vandals. He has had previous history in a government position, and his state of mind has made him dangerous." A picture appeared in the corner of the screen as Horatio spoke. "Christopher Oliver will be--"

Madison had to pause because of the outcry from the Jumpers. Skyler felt panic shoot through him. There was no telling if these "treatments" weren't just a nicer way to say torture. This was Horatio's "plan" for Kip. But why?

"I said calm and rational," Madison said over their voices. "Kip's already been transferred there. The rest of the video is just more propaganda about crime rates and stuff and how Kip's 'example' will pave the way for future therapy for criminals."

"We have to get him out of there now," Skyler said.

"Skyler, that's exactly what Horatio wants," Madison said. "He's trying to draw you out."

"I can't let him hurt Kip!" Skyler cried out. Two years of stress. worry, fear, and exhaustion were catching up to him. "Who knows what they've done to him, or what they're doing to him now, or going to do--"

"Skyler." Madison looked at him steadily. "We need to stay calm. We're all worried, I know, but we can't just charge in. He was in a mind to be able to talk to Emma and tell her covertly if he was alone. We can guess he's alright for now."

"I can't wait." Skyler shook his head. "I've waited two whole years, and now we know where Kip is and where the others are."

"Skyler." Hannah stepped over to him. "We need to be careful. We can't lose anyone else. We will rescue them, we will do everything we possibly can. But we need to do it right, not charge in guns blazing. We need to be smart and reasonable about this."

Skyler's shoulders slumped. He knew they were right, but he didn't want to wait. He wanted this to end. He wanted his family back.

"First, we find someplace safer for you guys," Madison said. "Emma knows about this, and she's keeping track of Horatio's movements. We need to clear out before there's too many people around. Good news is we probably have time enough to clear out all of your stuff here, and maybe the Coyote hideout."

"I'll check it out," Conway said. "Kate?"

"Yep." Kate nodded. "If it's all clear we'll get our stuff."

Skyler, Jonah, and Grace headed to the outskirts of the old sector and then outside the city altogether. They couldn't risk living in the city anymore. They searched the forest for a place that would have enough room for everyone, plus the rescued Jumpers and Coyotes when they rescued them, but there was nothing closed in enough yet big enough for them.

"How far around the city do we want to search?" Jonah asked, handing a water bottle to Grace.

"I don't know," Skyler groaned. "Transporting ourselves and our stuff to the opposite end of the city is gonna be a nightmare, but we shouldn't travel too far from the city here to find a place..." Skyler flicked a twig away. "I hate Horatio."

"I think we all do," Jonah soothed. "Just calm down. We can get Madison and Emma to drive us and our stuff to the other end if we have to, like a shuttle service."

"Worth a shot." Grace stood up. "Come on. We weren't told to come back after a day, so we can travel and camp out."

Skyler pushed to his feet and headed off. Grace ran to catch up.

"Hey." she fell into step with him. "We'll be ok--"

"No, Grace, we won't," Skyler cut her off. "I hate when people tell me we're gonna be okay. We don't know that, and we're probably not going to be sooner or later."

"Sure," Grace frowned. "But there's this thing called hope. The Skyler I knew would at least have a little bit of have that."

"Well, he grew up," Skyler muttered, not looking at her. Grace frowned deeper, letting her pace slow down to match Jonah's. Skyler didn't care. He just wanted this to be all over. He was done with hiding. He was done with running away, with Horatio, with everything.