Eluria awoke with a start and a touch of panic in her chest.

She whipped her head back and forth and quickly took in her surrounds. The last thing she could remember was screaming at Travis as bowling balls hurled through every obstacle around her at the bowling alley and now she was… in a hospital. Definitely a hospital. Everything was white, she had an IV line in her arm, flimsy paper gown, hospital bed, little machine blooping at her about her vital statistics next to the bed.

Her stomach gurgled with hunger and unease – why was she in the hospital, what had happened? Eluria could feel her heartbeat increasing at an alarming pace. Where was Travis? Her breathing became short and quick. Was he okay? Little waves of energy rippled around her, invisible to the naked eye, as her body succumbed to its own fight or flight response.  Was she okay?  She took stock of her body, mentally feeling out her limbs and her insides before physically rubbing herself down. Comforted that she still had all her extremities and couldn’t immediately feel anything abnormal with her body, she calmed down some.

A nurse burst through the door and froze as she saw Eluria sitting up in her bed, wide eyed.

“You’re awake?!” She yelled at her, half a question.

Eluria reached out her hand in a grasping motion and the nurse felt the squeeze of a giant hand around her mid section.

“Who are you? Where am I? What happened? Where’s Travis?” Eluria let loose a stream of questions with no thought to the fear of the woman she was interrogating.

The nurse squealed in terror and the legs of her pink scrubs darkened as she lost control of her bladder.


A few rooms over, Travis heard a scream and knew without knowing that Eluria was awake and stirring up trouble.

He dashed down the hallway, careening through doors almost out of control and slammed into the back of the nurse suspended in the doorway of Eluria’s room, sending a crunch resounding through the room and a gout of blood gushing down.

“Eluria – it’s Travis! What’re you doing, what’s happening? You’re okay!” He screamed in confusion, desperately trying to stop whatever was happening. After the bowling alley, Travis regarded Eluria with a new found caution and he didn’t want anyone innocent getting hurt because no one in the Facility had the common sense not to let the murder machine wake up alone and disoriented in a strange place, even him.

“Travis? What’s going on, where am I? What happened?” Eluria called out to Travis, a tinge of fear running through her speech like veins barely visible under the skin.

“Everything’s okay. You’re fine, I’m fine, Krans is fine – I just need you to put this woman down and we can go over the whole thing.” Travis fired back, still in active damage control trying to keep the body count at zero.

As the nurse ceased to levitate and her clothes were no longer bunched under the force of an invisible hand clenching her, it felt as though the entire room took a collective sigh of relief and the energy level dropped an octave or two closer to the normal baseline of polite society.

“Everything’s fine? This isn’t bad?” Eluria asked, cautiously. She’d relaxed her hold on the nurse, but not entirely let go – she was still rooted to the spot

“Everything really is fine. The short version is that we had to run after you lost your shit at the bowling alley, but we’re back in the Facility now. I’ve talked to Director Phleer – we’re good. We’re all alive, we’ve all still got our jobs – but that doesn’t make sense and I was hoping you could help us figure some of it out, so it’d be just fuckin’great if you could actually let this woman go and we can talk for real?” Travis made sure Eluria knew he was aware of her hedged bets in this soft hostage situation.

The change in the nurse’s posture was immediate, Eluria had actually let her go, and she ran from the room in terror.

“Okay. So get me out of here. I’m happy to help, but I don’t want to be stuck in a hospital bed with no clothes on and hooked up to a bunch of wires.”

“I don’t know that I can strictly do that, kiddo. You had a seizure, I think you’re going to be stuck in the bed for a minute…” He trailed off, sheepishly and feeling somewhat ashamed for withholding that admittedly major detail until after Eluria had calmed down. It had been necessary, but still slimy.

Eluria’s tone was full of alarm again as she shrieked at him about her seizure, but Travis quickly assured her she wasn’t in any immediate danger and that a specialist was being brought in to examine her and that he should arrive in a day or two. In the meantime, he had to get in contact with Director Phleer and continue to work on the confusion surrounding their disappearance and return.

Travis stepped out of the room and made his way down the hallway, the medical wing of the Facility made him uncomfortable with it’s pristine whites.

“Director Phleer, she’s awake and seems to be normal as far as I can tell.”

“Will do.”

Travis hung up with Director Phleer, hoping that her issuing the all clear code phrase over the usual channels would bring in the rest of the team that’d left from the bowling alley. Travis was worried about Krans and hoped he wouldn’t be made a liar of after he’d already told Eluria he was fine. In the meantime, he had to prepare for Dr. Laoton’s arrival.

Datura watched the Facility proceed with its investigation and knew her fun was drawing to a close. And she hadn’t even really done anything yet. She’d have to change that.




Author’s Note: So there’s something. Still sick, still picking up extra shifts at work, still feeling burnt out on this project. I’ve made tons of mistakes. Lots of plot holes, unnecessary characters. Lots of shit to clean up if I ever manage to do anything else with this if I ever manage to finish this.


4 thoughts on “1.18”

  1. Hey! So I whipped right through this tonight (woohoo!) and I’ll post my full review on Web Fiction Guide tomorrow, but I wanted to flag something here before I forget: I’m not following the logic of Travis and the others going back to the Facility and NOT being promptly killed, locked up, etc. in an attempt to keep things quiet after the botched sanitization. (I’m assuming that they only escaped the bowling alley in the first place because Eluria stopped time or something. I’m gonna reread this one more time after I get some sleep. Yay for working on political campaigns in early November!) Is Datura still pulling everyone’s strings in an attempt to keep Eluria alive? I got that she was pulling Travis’ strings, but is she currently pulling Director Phleer’s too? Or maybe now that the arson story has caught hold in the community and the cover-up seems to have worked, there’s no need to finish them off?

    Either way, I think maybe there’s a way to instill a bit more tension/fear around them going back to the Facility (or maybe you’ll get to that in the next chapter? muahaha!) Or maybe you’ll be clarifying everything in the next chapter, but I think it may be worth editing both 1.18 and 1.17 to clarify things sooner.


    1. I’ll definitely be clearing some things up in the next few chapters. I intend for most people involved to have a formal sit down and go over the various points of view because there’s some conflicting information coming in. Eluria, Stein and company all appear to be alive, but the cleaners are also positive they did their jobs and have evidence to prove it, or so they’ve said.

      However, great big however, I’m still new at this and it’ll probably be a pretty clumsy explanation lacking most of the tension and fear you’re ideally going to want to see.

      For now, as in Tananari’s review, I’m unfortunately asking readers to just kind of go with it and make the best out of this bumpy ride. I’ve got some early readers from when this was a writing prompt response on Reddit who don’t mind that a bit, I think. I know that’s a lot to ask and others won’t be so happy with it, but at this point I feel like going back and unfucking this shitshow is a project of it’s own and I’m really looking to just finish this before I go back and make it better.

      There’s so many points in this I can see now that are just wrong or need to be reworked. For instance

      • Johnny’s wife is meaningless and doesn’t need to exist
      • Phleer has no reason to be connected to Stein
      • Phleer should be based off someone else, I saw once I discovered her “voice”
      • The antagonistic coworker Phleer has confront Stein about not mucking up the defense contract needs to be given real teeth or done away with completely
      • Datura and her introduction is clumsy and needs to be redone. She’s one of my favorite plot points, but needs serious work
      • Norton Bellmore needs serious work and needs to come into play earlier in the narrative to give him proper “umph” when he does make his appearance.
      • So many other things I’m not thinking of at this point.

      The plan is to finish this beast, take a little time off, most likely begin a new and unrelated project to give this time to settle and then go back and start at the beginning and reread the whole thing, distill what was good out of it, expand upon that, and chop the dead weight. Oh, and fucking describe absolutely ANYTHING, which I largely have not done so far.

      Also, as it relates to you specifically, I just finished Tananari’s Blue Steel, next up I’ve got Team Contract’s Once Giants and then I’m on to Maywitch. Once Giants has 26 chapters so far, I don’t read too terribly slow and I take long breaks at work, so I should be starting on Maywitch sometime next week for sure, possibly sooner.


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