Wednesday, 18 April 2012

303: Angelic, Retribution, Guardian.

by John Xero

You may have seen me mention Lily Childs' Friday Prediction here before. Through her the ancient black tome speaks three words which must be incorporated in a story of less than one hundred. It's a great challenge, a wonderful little community and many of my 101s have germinated there. Sadly the Prediction will be closing in a few weeks, I urge you to hop on over and give it a go while you still can.

This week, three 101s that were all born from the same three words.


“I will scratch out your eyes and curdle your blood,” the cherub screeched from its gravestone perch, clenching a chubby, broken-nailed fist.

The thing looked like a podgy child about two years old, but for the disdainful snarl of its lips, its bloodshot eyes, and its wings, with feathers fading from black to white as if soot-stained.

Unimpressed, John Harley locked eyes with it, “War’s over Anaeus. Give it up.”

The cherub stretched its wings wide in threat, “I will gut you.”

“I don’t think so.”

Harley pulled the trigger.

Roaring buckshot ripped through Anaeus, shredding flesh and feather alike.



The plague first presented as a raised rash from spine to shoulders that itched irresistibly. The few survivors were called Cherubim for their angry, red wings of ripped, scarred skin.

Without thinking, Ellen scratched her back. She flinched as a scab tore beneath her fingernails. She felt the fresh, wet blood well up.

The only survivors were all carriers. As the death toll rose, Humanity’s compassion curdled; the Cherubim were locked away.

Ellen waited for the blood to congeal, another feather to her wings. Then she dressed and strolled calmly into London’s Safezone, a serene angel of vengeance and death.



Orlov hung over London in a web of tubes that pumped curdled fluids through his transmuted body.

“Sp(ai)der mechs at Marble Arch,” the interface whispered in his mind.

He saw scuttling machines clambering over the broken buildings and cracked tarmac of Oxford Street. He heard the New Baker Street Irregulars panicking.

Orlov remembered being human.

“Launch cherub bombers,” he commanded.

London span into twenty Londons as his consciousness fragmented between the bombers. The Orlov/ Cherubs swept down from the clouds and unleashed a hailstorm of micro-explosives that ripped through the sp(ai)der mechs. The Irregulars cheered.

“Thank you,” the interface whispered.

(The three words were: cherub, curdle and rip)


  1. These were all great, I think my favourite was no. 1 Somehow I could picture that podgy angel ^__^

  2. I enjoyed them all too. For me it was number 3, it felt the most distinct. And I liked the "web of tubes" a lot.

    Have you considered releasing a 'A 101 101's: Splinters of the Xeroverse' or, y'know, something like that?

    Maybe you should.

    1. Hey, who knows what the future holds, Pete? Just think, come Christmas I'll have been doing this two years, at about one 101 a week that will give me just over a hundred stories... ;)

      Thank you. ^_^

  3. You are spoiling us this week John, three 101s, I liked them all too, but my favourite was number 2, Retribution. I just can't resist the lure of a nasty plague in a story.

    1. It's nice to see people's favourites (and nice that it's all even, right now). I can't really pick one, I like them all for different reasons. =)

      I have a soft spot for plagues myself... ;)

      Thanks, Steve. =)

  4. I like how "Angelic" feels more personal, two characters going head-to-head. "Retribution" feels a little bigger. We're with Helen, but a plague speaks of a more national/global scale. "Guardian" just feels insane. It set my mind on fire with crazy-wild imagery. Great stuff all round.

    And 3-for-1... Very generous of you!

    1. Thanks Jack, glad it all worked for you. =)

      I just thought since they were born together, they vibe nicely together, like unidentical triplets. =D

  5. Sweet stuff. I like how you did one drabble for each of the words. And I got a chuckle out of the "New Baker Street irregulars" reference. ;-)

    1. Thanks, Larry. =)

      All three drabbles have all three words in (in variant forms). I hoped people would like the little reference. =)

  6. 'Angelic' definitely the one that grabbed me most - a diabolical triplet for sure and kudos to you for the fact that the repetition of the prompt words is invisible.

    1. Thank you, Sandra. Good to see you over here. ^_^