Over on the 2000AD forums the bimonthly 500 word short story contest continues. the most recent theme was for a mash up of two different Prog series. The winner was Mark the Legendary Shark with his story “Old Dreads, New Hopes” and he has given us permission to post it up here.
The new theme is 2000AD at the movies so if you are feeling creative head over there and write away.
Congratulations to the Shark for the following winning entry.
Old Dreads, New Hopes
Johnny ran, tears stinging his eyes, welts across his back hot and sore.
‘Come back here, you snecking little mutie freak!’ The voice came from behind, the speaker hidden by trees. Johnny knew there were six of them, older boys. Normal boys. With sticks and knives.
Tears in Johnny’s weird white eyes made the forest shimmer and blur. He wiped a sleeve across his face, kept running; ignoring the slashes and snags of brambles and branches.
‘Johnny Weird Eyes! Gonna cut those eyes right outta your head!’ The voice was still behind Johnny but further away and to his left. He followed his instinct and turned right.
‘Here! He’s over here!’
Johnny glanced back and his stomach lurched. One of the teenagers, armed with a scatterpult, crashed out of the undergrowth. The calls of the other boys echoed out of the forest – from his left and his right. Small steel ball-bearings from the scatterpult slapped into his back like supersonic wasp stings. Johnny yelped and ran faster until, suddenly, he was out of the woods and into a clearing. In the middle stood a log cabin with a wisp of smoke trickling from its chimney. Johnny ran towards the cabin, shouting for help.
The teenagers, all six of them, achieved the clearing before Johnny got to the door. Ball-bearings slapped into his back and buttocks and rattled against the cabin.
‘Got you now, freakshow!’
The door flew open even as Johnny got close.
‘Incendiary,’ a grizzled voice said. A gunshot smashed through Johnny’s ears and a section of the forest erupted in flames. The teenagers ran, uninjured but terrified, back into the trees.
Johnny saw little of the old man in the gloomy doorway. He was tall, wore a very old, patched sleather one-piece and a wild, grey beard. The rest of his face was in shadow but his eyes flickered in the darkness. The telltale sign, Johnny knew, of a failing bionics system.
‘Th… thank you, sir.’
‘Welcome. Now git gone, kid. Ain’t safe around me. Never was, never will be.’
Johnny paused, pains in his back stinging hotter. ‘Sir, will you teach me to shoot like that?’
‘How old are you, kid?’
‘Hmph. Well, you’re the right age but no, I ain’t got time.’ The old man pushed the door.
‘Please, sir! There’s six of them!’
The old man grunted. ‘So?’
Johnny dropped his eyes, trying not to cry. ‘I’m afraid, sir. They want to kill me.’
‘Hmph.’ The old man paused. ‘You want teachin’? Okay, here’s all I got, kid. Six of ‘em come after you; go back at ‘em like there’s seven of you. Never give up, never give in, never back down an’ never – ever – take no for an answer. Now get lost, kid, I ain’t got all day.’
The door slammed shut. Johnny stood watching the fire burn out, pondering the old man’s words. He rubbed his palms into his eyes, sniffed deeply and spat.
Ignoring his pain, the young mutant straightened up, set his jaw and marched back into the forest.