This is the first in a series of short stories set in a shared universe: Earth has been pummeled by heavy storms for twenty years, and the governments left over have adapted by genetically manipulating (and in some cases, Inventing) creatures to help them survive the onslaught of rain and wind. After two decades, the storms have diminished, but the changes are too significant to return to the status quo so easily…

Rain pelted the hardtop like a fiendish beast, each hit deafening inside the vehicle. Here and there, signs of habitation: a small electric hot plate on the dash, plugged into a worn and bleached solar panel collection; clothes folded neatly into the glove compartment; an unmade bed stretching from a reclined driver’s seat to a pillow-laden middle bench; milk crates and bins filled with rows of plants in the back.
Through the pounding rain and driving wind came a scraping, fumbling sound of metal against metal; a click, the turning of a lock, and a rush of cold air as a figure slipped in through the sliding door, slamming it behind them. Shrugging out of a wet poncho and hanging it above the plants, they hung their rucksack next to the door and sighed heavily. Slowly, they began the arduous task of removing their sodden clothing, revealing a body hewn from survival and struggle.

Shaggy hair tied loosely with hempen twine, skin burnt by the wind and sun of countless days in the wild. Crisscrossed tattoos and scar tissue decorated every inch of their body, shifting like smoky paintings with each breath and movement in the dim interior. Three fingers missing on their left hand, covered over by a thick band of dark ink. Thick-rimmed glasses balanced in front of heavy green eyes. Thick patches of hair from their torso to their feet, wispy black plains with thin streaks of red and white playing amidst it.
Kettle on the hot plate, towel over the bed, and a set of lumpy candles lit to warm the cool interior. A dream-catcher idly bobbing above the flickering flames, a book set against the pillows and the kettle steaming alongside a cup of similarly hot herbs and water. The rain continued to pour.


 

Stormworld is an experiment on my part to write multiple short form stories in a set place. The events that take place in one story inform the next, each iterating on its predecessor and building up a catalogue of weird monsters, new habits, and oddly familiar locales. They will be short, barely a page or two long at most, so they resemble sketches more closely than finished pieces. A way to flesh out a setting at my own pace.

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