Grease Monkey

She was sat alone, cross legged, in her in her father’s old aluminium garage, just off of to the side of her parent’s ranch homestead, when I found her—were I would usually always find her. Alexa was the engineering type, even when we were kids; she would play around with her toys, taking them apart or modding them beyond recognition. She was a bit of a loner too, only tolerating a few people; she was rather selective in her friendships. I always consider myself fortunate to be her friend.

As I walked up to the garage, you could smell the tang of protium emanating out from the large doors, well before I could reach them. Protium was that ‘fuel’ like substance that replaced crude oil, when it finally ran out; made from the algae farms that now littered most of the sea’s surface—or at least that’s how it was all explained to me by Alexa.

I walked up and leant against the frame and remained silent, while I watched Alexa as she tinkered away with wrench in hand. She wore her hair in a ponytail, and her crop top was stained blue from the protium and grey with grime. I was always fascinated with how in tune she looked around machinery, as if she actually speaks ‘machine’.

Alexa never realised my presence, so engrossed she was in what she was doing. Then I noticed her arm give way, as she turned the wrench with her ‘hand’. She took the wrench with her other hand and threw it against the wall, hard in anger that it rang against the aluminium.

She left out a scream of pain and frustration, louder than the crashing sound ringing in my ears, then rubbed her shoulder with her now free hand.

After the sound died down, I said: ‘Hey, grease monkey,’ feeling concerned.

‘Oh, hey,’ she said, turning to face me briefly.

‘The prosthetic still giving you trouble?’

She looked upon her skeletally bare arm.

‘Yeh, the damn thing still doesn’t fit correctly. And the nerve endings still haven’t healed properly. Or at least that’s what the cyberneticist said—the fucking hack,’ she said as she looked at her shoulder, where the metallic merged with her supple pink, but dirt covered, skin. She rotated her shoulder multiple times, outstretched her arm slightly, which produced a electronic whirl, then opened and clenched her skeletal hand, which clinked together, as her new metal fingers closed.

‘I guess…I guess I should be grateful. At least I’m not dead,’ she said, with a sigh.

I moved behind her, knelt down, then hugged her. Wrapped my arms around her, tightly. I couldn’t help but feel guilt and pity, but also mainly relief.

‘We all are, everyone that loves you,’ I replied, as I tightened my grip. Her softer hand gasped my arm lightly. ‘Besides, I’m sure you could do better,’ I added, trying to console her.

I let go and sat down beside her, with my back against the corrugated wall, which dug into my back slightly. Alexa chuckled and smiled, then her gaze became distant slightly. I could see that she was remembering that ‘something’, which she would prefer to forget.

‘Thanks, but I doubt that,’ she said. ‘I only just managed to afford this old model. I suppose I should be grateful that I could. The newer models have advanced nanomesh interfaces, which bind to the nerves better. Maybe when I can work on robots again, down the factory, I can save up for an upgrade. Until then—’

‘Don’t you think you’re over doing it though?’ I urged, as I knew Alexa could be really stubborn sometimes.

‘The cyberneticist said I need to try and use it as if nothing was wrong. So that’s what I’m gonna do,’ she replied, nodding once, as if to convince herself of her plan.

‘Fair enough. Just don’t forget we’re all her for you—if you ever need a hand,’ I joked. Alexa laughed, shaking her head.

‘You bitch,’ she replied. And we both shared in the laugher. I can only hope to understand what she must be dealing with, but I know that I’d always be there for her.

‘Come on,’ she said, ‘let go in, I’m hungry.’

‘Sure,’ I replied, and stood up, dusting off the dirt on my bottom. I reached out and offered my hand out to help Alexa up. She took my hand with her prosthetic. I could feel the cold, smooth, lifeless touch of the metal fingers clutch in my hand. It was a strong grip but didn’t hurt; perhaps she still hasn’t realised how strong it is, but I didn’t mind. I pulled her to her feet. She gave me a look as if to realise that she forgot, if only for a few seconds, that it was still there.

We both walked into the house to make dinner for us both and her mother, for when she returned from work. I chose to crash at her’s that night, spending the time talking about my recent travels. We had one of our sleep overs, just like we used to when we were kids.

Wedding Day

It was one of those rather blissful warm days. The sun was in and out with the patchy clouds and when the gentle breeze kissed the face is was joyfully pleasant. As it is customary in these social outings, people gathered and grouped, talked and chatted; about how perfect the day was or how well the location was ideal. Its doubtful that they actual mean any of it, it’s just one of those trivial pleasantries you get at a wedding these days. ‘Oh my look how lovely she looks’, you can hear being on occasion, when if fact chances are they think the entire dress is ghastly. Or ‘look at that, doesn’t the bridesmaids looking stunning!’, while quite clearly they are wearing dresses so otherworldly you’d think clowns had been booked for the event. Some of course would argue that is the point of them; to be the ultimate sacrifice that is expect of best friends; that is they get to look like a twat, so the bride looks ten times better than is physically possible.

The obligatory walk down the isle from the bridesmaid and father linked together in that traditional giving away; I wonder just how many dads actually think ‘thank fuck for that, they aren’t my problem anymore’, I’m sure a few have. Still, the saying of the vows and the exchange is the main thing. The bashful smile, as they look deeply into each other’s eye like they are drawing strength from each other’s very own soul. The final caressing of each other’s hand, as they say the ‘I do’s, as they slip on the precious golden ring and finally become one…

…It’s the ‘does anyone have any reason why’ part, I’m waiting for…


Laura Steel © 2015

The holiday home

I always loved coming to this little hideaway for our little holiday breaks. For the past fourteen years our family always house shared the third from the bridge. Me and my brother always loved playing football on the grass, unless one of us hit the ball into the river or running through the woods behind the houses til dark.

I remember one time we knocked a ball into the far house garden. We took turns daring who should get it. We were told it was never lived in but when we tried to retrieve our ball we could swear we saw movement inside, when we tried looking beyond our reflections in the window.

I recall asking an old man about it a few years ago, he said it hasn’t been lived in for sometime; since he was a child in fact.

Apparently, the story was, a couple used to live there. A young woman use to wait at home for her husband returning from the mill further down the river. She could always be seen riding a blue bike with a wicker basket, when ever she rode into town.

However, one day the husband returned home only to find an empty house; he waited for his wife, even searched everywhere for her, but she never did return…

…I wondered if he meant that blue rusty frame in those bushes me and my brother found in the woods?

Prompts used:

1. The Visitor by Janet Mayled

2. Theme prompt: Reflections on a window

Laura Steel © 2015

First day of work – (2)

An abrupt alarm sounded, it’s irritating pitched scream stopped with an half unconscious hand that had rose aimlessly to destroy it. A nagging morning headache followed Bret around his room as he readied himself for his first official day in security.

Lead by a hovering info-droid, Bret’s induction took form of brief unmemorable walk through the lower residential sector of the mine, dodging mindless dirty faces and other droids, ending with him being shown his desk at the security station and an explanation of all the amenities.

** asked the info-droid in it’s broken mono-tone voice.

“No that’s all.” replied an irritated Bret, as he sat down at his predecessor’s desk. Looking around the room to what will become his second home from now on.

*!* The info-droid acknowledged with the pre-programmed politeness before hovering off.

“So you must be my new partner? The name’s Sarah.” Spoke the female officer rather huskily in front of Bret as he sat down.

“I guess so. I’m Bret.” he replied, as they politely shook hands.

“Alight everyone!” Announced the chief office. Bret looked up at his slightly grizzled and overweight boss. “We have two new officers joining us today…even though I asked for six…not that the company gives a shit. So make ‘em feel welcomed and all that bollocks.” The chief waved off his statement almost as disinterest as he spoke it. “…apart from that…it’s the same thing as usual.” He re-entered his office to the barrage of calls that expected him.

“Come on.” Sarah instructed by nodding to the exit, putting on her slightly worn leather jacket and holster…“Time for work.”


Laura Steel © 2014

Fond Firework Flashback

I stretched my head back with the first whoosh, it stayed there for the rest of the display. With each bang and flash that followed the memories of my youth flooded back; nothing else mattered. Those days are so far behind me now, and yet I remember; I remember clearly how I watched similar patterns stretching across the sky in a rainbow of colours, that heavy nasel smoke that blanketed down, the glowing trails left by sparklers held in gloved hands that would burn into the back of the eyes. It was just like I was ten again.

Now I am here doing the exact same thing as I once did with my father. My ten year old was huddled in front of me, taking the exceitment. I can only imagine she is wearing the exact same face I did when I first saw fireworks for the first time, only she seems to be braving them far better than I did. Funny how history repeats itself in its special little ways. I hope in time when she’s older she gets to experience the same joy I’m feeling now with her own.


Laura Steel ©2014


Inbound shuttle – (1)

While remaining firmly unconscious and strapped in with their harnesses, the new crew were about to land on the new Mars colony. The shuttle rattled as it pierced the upper atmospheres and it’s thrusters burned white hot as it headed for the beaconed pad. Those who were napping were abruptly woken.

“So how long you here for?” asked a unfamiliar voice noting his waking neighbour.

“…huh?” murmured Bret. Slowly aware, regaining conciousness.

“How longs your stretch?” re-acquired the voice.

“…Oh?…uh…I’m moving here.” Mumbled a still croaky Bret, trying to ease his tired headache with his palm. His one free eye glanced over to the opposite side to focus wearily over to the person who was annoying him.

“Ah career man are ya.’” The antagonizing voice continued. “Me I’m only here a year…got lucky in the work lotto…names Daniel, just call me Dan.”

The entire shuttle jolted, shunting everybody in their harnesses.

“So what you doin’ here career man?” Dan persisted, as the computer alerted to every to remain in the shuttle while the hanger re-compressed.

“I’m the new security officer.” All of the harnesses lifted, freeing the crew. “Hopefully I’ll last longer than the last one.” Bret added.

“Oh?” Dan inquired.

“I’m gonna try not take a fire axe to the head like they did.” Bret smirked towards a now uneased Dan, as both headed towards the shuttle ramp.




Laura Steel © 2014

The Wicked Wisp

On the most devilish of nights, in the darkest reaches of Impium wood, an unholy grove exists. Rumours are foul of it’s inhabitant. Fouler still? The smell; rotten, musky, with just a little bit of mould.

Haunted by non other than the Wicked Wisp of Impius; unspoken by the locals. Tales tell of a spirit most horrid, named of a place so dreadful such as this. Radiator of that oh so sickly orange aura. It’s wickedness, told by drunken truth and basked in sobered doubt. 

It’s cheeky grin and evil emanating eyes are the first and last to be seen by those curious looking fools. Distance of miles nor dodging of trees will not save those foolish enough to enter it’s realm; the twisted woods both dead and undying. The eater of lost souls, the devourer of bone, knows where you roam.

You may have heard of it’s charm, that sweet childlike laughter, but do not be fooled it’s not there for games.

No sword can fend it off. No shield or armour can save your hide. No magic can disperse it’s malevolence.

Reader please beware!
This is your only warning!
Do not proceed on!


Laura Steel © 2014


The Ex-Communicated Champion (Part 2) – The Hagiren’s Call

Having walked for days, the far reaching plains had turned into rockier hills. The grass was thinner and the ground was steeper. Aryron hesitated. His ears picked up on something strange, it was the sweetest of sounds. It was hard to determine what it was, it sounded like the gentlest of voices from a most angelic seraphim. He looked towards the darkened cave to his right. Focusing on the entrance, the ringing melody in the air grew louder, this is where it was coming from.

He entered the cave with very little concern. The sound echoed through the jagged mossy walls. Navigating through the twists and turns, stepping over outcrops of rock that would have tripped him or almost slipping on the dusty gravel that poked through his thin leather shoes. 

The cave opened out into a sunlit cavern, it was a hidden oasis of beauty. The roof was open and a ray of brilliant Sol light cascaded down into a column. It bathed a magnificent tree; full of the most vivid pink blossom, which rained its petals in a haze, from it’s base and grew towards the opening of the ceiling above. Through out chamber there was thick grass and flowers of the most vibrant of colours and shapes.

Under the tree sat the most beautiful of creatures. Her flowing gown flowed with the air. Ayron walked closer, his heart was now tethered and was being pulled ever closer. He knelt before her, trying to see beyond the weave of golden shiny hair.

As he reached out too uncover her face, she stopped. The seemingly fragile face turned; radiant blue eyes turned raging blood red, perfect porcelain smile into a toxic razor maw, soft smooth skin into grey wrinkled leather.

She screamed with an ugly high pitch and with her dirtied claws reached for his face – She pounced! 

Without thinking, Aryon took hold of the nearest branch by his feet and lodged into the beasts neck. 

The sweet echo was reduced to a gargled moan as it slumped across the tree’s roots. Shaking his head he had realised what he had done, the deathly error that almost was. Around him the deception faded. The green grass wilted, the flowers had dried to dust and the tree was but a mouldy husk of a stump. The branch was a femur of a past victim now dripping purple and reeking worse than death. Hagirens were not known to inhabit these parts, atleast to Ayron’s knowledge, but here one lay motionless. 

Ayron came full to his senses looking around to see the previous victims of the Hagiren’s call. Stepping over their remains both new and grayed, all gnawed clean, crunching under foot. He walked back out in a daze. Outside the cave that was nearly his tomb, he collapsed against the rocks, he sighed and cleansed his sweaty face with his bare palm. Having learnt his lesson, he looked skywards and thanked the divines for their aid, gratefully continuing to walk on.


Laura Steel © 2014

The Geneforged Sorceress (Part 2) – Lost in Silvasung Forest

It was days after Anya first entered the Silvasung forest, losing the danger of being hunted by the guards and the hissing, the ominous hissing which sound fell upon her stubby ears gave her a boost of adrenaline, enough to sprint faster and further into the forest’s depth. She was lost, surrounded by vegetation and had no clue or indication as to her location. The summit of Caldera could act as a point of reference but only during the day and only if the weather was clear enough that the cloud ceiling wasn’t obscuring the steam spewing beacon. Using the main road would have been too risky when she had first escaped, even if she did know it’s location she dared not return to it.

Her feet were in agony and went into spasm frequently while she tore fresh pieces off her cloak. Taking the self made bandages off her feet stung relentlessly. Is was the best attempt she could do to protect the open sores that were created through the exertion of running practically barefoot. The ash that was buried under the leaf litter still managed to find it’s way into the wounds and caused a minor sting that to her concern became duller by the day. Stepping on the smallest of stones however sharp was still noticeable and when dug into her fleshy soles provoked the pain to continue.

However bad the hurting she felt, it was mild compared to the bitter coldness of the nights. The first night away from the ambient warmth of Caldera was a drastic change for her body. Being a cold blooded creature the slightest change affected her, lethargy and depression kicked in, an almost minor sense of regret crept into her mind. ‘Was this really better than her life before escaping?’ While she was adept in survival the change in environment would prove to be a tremendous challenge, a far cry from the hazed alleyways and sewers of the city. Trying to start a fire was next to impossible because of the wood’s high resistance to burn and trying to ignite anything flammable would instead consume more energy than it would take for it to combust, something she was in short supply.

There was a strange lack of flesh based life for a forest of this size and with no clear indication as to why. Anya’s stomach was demanding, yet another ache brought to the forefront of her mind and required a sacrifice however small, to end it’s torment. The only life apart from the young drake herself was and assortment of insects found under the deadwood and moveable moss covered rockery. All the little morsels could be hidden under nearly every inanimate but moveable object and just required a small effort to overturn their protective homes.

Lifting a chuck of decayed wood revealed a plater of scurrying miniature life in an assortment of shapes antenna and many many legs, it would take a deft hand just to provide a small mouthful. For a carnivorous race like the Calderani, insects were not the palatable choice for those who become accustomed to dine of the meatier farmed livestock. Living rough in the shadows of others and the alleys of the Calderan streets, food wasn’t handed out a plate. So the feast before her was more that she would have eaten normally over the course of any week.

Greed filled her mind knowing that it still qualified as edible food, the requirement she needed to sustain herself. While the numerous appendages and frittering of many legs would have deterred many, Anya’s instinct and desire to survive kicked in. Hunger closed out of her mind the hideous sensation of each of them crawling around the inside of her mouth and over her dry forked tongue. There was no hesitation to chew and their wriggling bodies were brought to an abrupt end with her pointed teeth shearing through their carapace, barely mashed into a paste before being swallowed.

After a few cringing moments and cracking of abdomens, her belly filled enough that she felt content that starvation wouldn’t claim her, something she very rarely enjoyed. She continued her journey further into the forest. After many days walking with the agonising pain, fear set in as she knew that she could no longer continue. While her mind had the determination her body had no energy. Her legs froze stiff and could no longer hold her fragile weight, she slumped to the ground almost splitting her head open on a sharp outcropping rock, the war she fought against the pain had come to an overwhelming conclusion. Anya’s last conscious moments were of the horrible sound she tried sparing herself from the first days of her forestry hike.

…the hissing had returned.

From out of the bushes appear a blur of white hideous maws of miniature razor sharp teeth with legs and eyes attached. The hissing was the sound of millions upon millions of these small bug like creatures pouring over one another, struggling to be the first to their next destination. It almost appeared as a liquid slushing through the undergrowth where they slivered over and through everything in it’s path. They meandered towards Anya as incarnation of Ignaria and saw no resistance to their devastation, just as one would expect a creation of the Goddess of Destruction who would see to the end of everything good or bad. No remorse, no guilt. Just an eternal wave of devouring macro plague looking for a new host.

Reaching just inches beyond her feet a blinding light flooded the area and a strange force shield blocked the creatures which was just as close from the opposite side. The white mass piled up against the bubble, damned up by a protective magik. Anya was inched away hands first by an entity unknown towards an unknown destination…


Laura Steel © 2014

The priestess’ prayer

The priestess rested upon the gold metallic rail with a sadden contemplation, her mind was quiet and free of distraction.

She looked out across the balcony towards to the sea that stretched out beyond Solaris’s northern harbour. Staring at the Sol with narrowed eyes, she hoped that it would reveal something to her that she was otherwise unable to contemplate.

She rested her forehead of the cool metal and it drew from it the relaxing soothing properties that helped focus her mind.

The priestess’s prayers would be cast to the heavens unknown.

It slowly become overcast, a rarity in these lands and the yearly raging storm of Tempia the Unrelenting Goddess was on her way to renew the lands of it’s much needed hydration. 

Sol was setting and it’s remaining warmth skipped across the waves and was failing to continuously light the day and the light from the wall held torches was flickering sporadically.

She felt the cold droplets caught upon her face. The carved stonework of the balcony was changing colour with every new puddle and each rain drop could be heard with a subtle clarity. As the rain poured more readily, soaking through her silken gown, she looked up at the last light of the setting distant star…and smiled.



Laura Steel © 2014