A multi-genre collection of short stories and flash fiction including: speculative, dark romance, psychological thriller, and more. Click to read linked titles.
Don’t Stop! (2012)
Science fiction flash fiction in the midst of an alien invasion; 590 words.
The Scientist (2012)
Science fiction/horror flash fiction; 190 words.
The animal was already dying and as more and more fluid entered its lungs, the scientist knew it would soon be the end. He watched as the mass of fur, bones and blood gasped for breath, before coming to an inevitable stop. This had been experiment number eight and though each of the tests had ended in gruesome death, he knew he was closer now than he ever had been when all he’d had were his theories.
He pulled off his latex gloves, barely making the metal basket as he threw them across the room. His assistant said something to him but he was too deep in thought, carefully contemplating his next move, to hear or care enough to listen.
The scientist was unlike many of his colleagues who saw things like the rotting animal before him as failure. He didn’t believe he ever failed, no matter how many were maimed or killed in the process. He’d just have to begin again.
He eyed his assistant now, her mouth moving quickly, though he wasn’t really hearing the words that were escaping it. He wondered briefly when human trials could begin.
Paranormal/psych thriller short story; 1, 955 words.
Inside my head. That’s where it all started. Well, that’s not quite right, it really started weeks ago on the corner of a wet street as the rain fell and I stood on the sidewalk cursing myself for not having brought an umbrella. I always tended to do that — complain whenever I remembered I needed something.
So there I stood in a drenched summer dress and wedges, tears mixing with the green stuff pouring from my nose. I could barely see. Barely hear what was going on around me. Random people pushing past, angry at this crazy woman taking up the walking space as they hurried from work, to homes, to lovers, to bars. I couldn’t move though. I couldn’t move because; this was where it started. I was going to die.
I was going to die and there was nothing anyone could do about it. I would die and I would leave everything behind. My new condo. My dog Sam. It was all going to disappear as I was buried under six feet of crumbling dirt. No one would even care enough to help me. When death came for me he would come smiling, ready to embrace me as he had so many before.
I was standing somewhere between a department store and an abandoned alley. My hands clutched my purse and hair stuck unceremoniously to my face as I considered my fate. No, I didn’t have a disease. I hadn’t been threatened and no one was about to run me over, but my mind held on and it wouldn’t let go. It ruled in that instant and in those moments it was bigger than anything, bigger than me and it was saying . . .
“You are going to die.” It didn’t care about anything else. Not the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day. Not that I missed my husband immensely and wanted to touch him, anywhere. That voice cared for nothing but those words. Over and over it jeered while I begged it to play another tune.
“You have to move.” That was me I think. Somewhere deep down I was telling that person in my head to shut up because I was going to have to leave. I had to get home quickly. Sam hadn’t been fed and he’d be cranky. So with the image of that miniature ball of slobbering fur in mind, I started to walk.
My pace was ridiculously slow because to go any faster felt like I would fall. I slid in my wet shoes and tried to maintain my balance. This was difficult as I fought against the heavy downpour, blinded eyes and slippery feet. I envied those protected from this watery attack and endured the weird looks from those smart enough to seek shelter. Then, just as I was getting the hang of walking on water, the inevitable happened — I started to fall.
I reached my hands out looking for something to grab hold of, anything at all.
“Babe what’s wrong?” I could hear his voice. My hands were stretched out in front of me. I gasped as I sat up, gulping as if I had swallowed too much liquid too fast. Asleep? So that wasn’t real? Jason had already switched on the bedside lamp and I knew I must’ve looked a wreck because his concerned expression spread. I said nothing to him and jumped up making a hasty retreat to our bathroom, locking the door behind me. I turned on the light and accessed my bewildered expression. “Honey?” I could hear him, but it was as if I couldn’t answer. As if I couldn’t quite release myself from the unreal just yet.
I breathed deep. Considered myself for a moment longer and opened the door. Jason stood there, anger having replaced his previous concern. “Why wouldn’t you answer? I was worried.” I started to speak, tried to tell him sorry, looked for the words to appease him, to make him love me again.
“You are going to die.” I looked around. No, why was I looking, I knew nothing was there. I watched way too much television to think I’d see a man coming from the shadows. A figment sent to drive me mad. No. This was something within me wasn’t it? It was or, was I still? No, I was awake, wide awake, because Jason was shouting at me now. He was shouting and I knew that when he started to shout pain usually followed.
Again I tried to speak. Words though; words seemed wary of me. It was as if I was petrified in movement. I looked away from Jason, which only served to make him angrier. He shouted obscenities as I turned away from him. As I turned away walking towards our bedroom door. He wouldn’t follow though, for some reason I knew he would not follow me. I’m not sure how I knew. I was right.
Next I heard scampering feet and looked down to see Sam smiling in his dog-like fashion, begging for attention. I didn’t want to acknowledge him though. I had to get outside; had to get real air flowing through my lungs. I had no time for furry objects with scratching paws and licking tongues. Reaching the glass door to our condo’s patio, I slid it open, wondering ever so briefly if Sam had been fed.
The night air. Or was it early morning? I wasn’t sure, I hadn’t consulted the time and it was still dark. There were no moon or stars as both of these were covered by a blanket of menacing clouds. Clouds which would soon send the rain. This thought took me back to my dream. Was it a dream? Yes of course it was. The voice was nothing but a repeat of what I’d experienced in my nightmare. Nothing more than residual effects. I became calmer as I rationalized. I would explain this all to Jason and he would understand. I would kiss Sam lovingly as I always did on the tip of his nose and he too would no longer be offended by my indifference.
“You are going to die.” This time I did not move. I would ignore it. It was only a thought. The after-effect. I experienced this at times. Vivid dreams that took over everything. Dreams that ruled for days in my mundane reality. They came and went. This was just another of these. So I ignored it. Ignored the voice that tried to destroy me. That tried to wreak havoc on my mind.
An apple tree heavy with fruit, swung wildly in the wind. It was close enough to reach out to and when the season was right, we sometimes picked and ate them straight from the tree. They were Jason’s favourite and for a moment I thought of getting one for him. I was cautious of the high wind though and quickly abandoned that idea. I’d find another way.
The first rain drops came hard and fast. There was no warning. They just fell, wetting the patio’s floor in all of an instant. Why was I up there? I was on the ledge now; the ledge that connected our condo to two others, just four feet from the ground. I was wet already. I knew I had to get inside. Instead. I jumped.
As I fell I could hear laughter. I didn’t know if that was strange or not. It felt comforting, but somehow I knew it shouldn’t. I hit the grass laden with pebbles at the bottom and felt a sharp pain flow through my body. It seemed to go from end to end; head to toes. Then I felt nothing. Felt nothing as the rain poured down on me. Drowning me.
“She tried to again?” I could hear them. They were talking about someone. Who were they talking about?
“Yes, we let her out to paint and she went over the second floor balcony. It’s a pity, she seemed as though she was getting better.” This was a woman. The first speaker sounded like a man. I could tell the gender differences, yet they both sounded the same. This made me laugh. Made me laugh out loud; but they couldn’t hear me so it was alright.
“We’re going to have to up her meds.” It was the woman-man again, talking about some girl on medication. Where was Jason though? Where was he? The room was foreign to me. It was brightly lit, with only a bed and desk. This was ridiculous. Who could possibly live in here? I tried to speak. Tried to tell them that I’d fallen off the ledge at home and I needed to get back because my lover would be worried. I couldn’t though. It was the strangest thing. Every time I tried to speak nothing came out. It’d been happening for hours now; I would definitely have to go to the doctor’s in the morning.
I saw the man coming towards me. He looked friendly enough. He spoke to me in the most comforting tone I had ever heard. “Okay we’re going to remove this, please don’t bite your tongue this time Anna.” Remove what? Bite my tongue? Was he crazy? And, how did he know my name? I had never met him before. I felt my head pulled forward slightly as something was taken from my mouth. My hands I realized now were also bound, as were my feet. What was this a sick joke? I wanted to go home. Now!
“I’m sorry Anna we can’t release you. I don’t feel you’ve made enough progress yet.” Progress? I was getting more and more confused and it showed, because he tried to explain himself. “Remember dear, you’ve been with us for over a year.” He looked so sincere. He was delusional the poor man. I needed to get out of these restraints. I didn’t want to see what he’d do to me when he was in a bad mood. I decided to play along until I could get myself out. “Remember, you killed your husband Jason and set fire to your home with him and your pet inside?” What? Now I knew he was crazy. I’d just left there and everything was perfectly fine.
The man smiled patronizingly at me. I could feel a prick and saw the woman who he had been speaking to lodge a needle into my arm. I panicked slightly when I saw this but didn’t want to arouse whatever sick ideas the two might have, so I remained silent. “See Anna, the mere fact that you don’t remember your crimes shows me that you definitely are not ready to be integrated, even among the other inmates.”
Crimes? Now this was taking it too far. I had never committed any crimes. “Yes Anna, murder and arson. Those things are wrong.” I hated the smug tone he used. It started to annoy me a great deal. I tried to move my arms but they were still bound. I did not care what they did to me anymore, I just wanted to slap that cocksure expression off his face. I could only take so much, even if I was being held prisoner here. After all, I’d just fallen off a ledge trying to reach for some orange or other fruit.
“No, not quite dear.” That damn voice. She felt good though. She could speak, I’d let her speak for me; let her explain to this asinine man that he didn’t know what he was talking about. She opened her mouth, a smile spreading as she spoke. A refreshingly beautiful tone.
“You’re going to die. You’re all going to die.”
Flies Gotta Eat (2012)
Dark fantasy flash fiction; 154 words.
The fly crawled into the open mouth, still sticky with blood and settled spit. Finding the scene less interesting than the nest his friends inhabited outside, the fly joined them, traipsing in and out of the ear canal where a tasty meal could be had. Five hours before, that ear had been listening to the radio which was now silent, the head had been bopping intermittently to favourite songs and the eyes had been checking makeup, just to be sure everything was perfect. Everything had been, until they came. The violent humanoids from underground.
The fly recognised the shift in power and had no quarrel with these new beings. He had eaten well in the last days and even when he passed on and became nothing more than a corpse on the ground, the others would reap the benefits.
The fly moved on, there were other delicacies to be enjoyed on this vast highway.
Jacob’s Apocalypse (2012)
Science fiction/psych thriller short story; 9, 363 words; one of my weirder stories.
Part 1 – So It Begins
I question the future when I barely remember the past. Sometimes I sit in those moments, thoughts filled with the possibility of a before and wonder to myself if the expressions that once haunted my countenance will ever return. I think they were there, moments where I was not this zombie-like creature I am now. At times I even feel it is a game, that I am a part of some strange reality swarming with violent carnivores adding to the bare landscape of the place I now know.
It had to be different before right? There must have been a time when there was a feeling unlike what I have now. I’m not even sure what my emotions are most of the time, so fickle are they. One moment, a sensation of spreading joy that never quite reaches the surface and another, the deep wanting to have it all end, without ceremony.
I feel as if I have gotten ahead of myself and forgotten that you cannot walk around in my head. You have no clue what goes on there, nor do you have the faintest understanding of what I’m talking about. I promise I’ll try my very best to convey my purpose. Purpose? I feel I should change that, because it seems more likely that I am reaching for some kind of help, from this place, this thing, this me, that I cannot run away from . . .
There it is again. The humming. Relentless in its quest to someday destroy me? Save me maybe? Whatever the case, it’s there and I sit up, thinking for a moment that this is one of those times when she will appear along with it. She calms it somehow, as though it is a kind of pet to her and her presence strokes it into obedient silence. I know you’re wondering who ‘she’ is, but I won’t tell you that yet. She’s too important to speak of in a passing thought.
I’m awake now and blink rapidly for no other reason than that it is the equivalent of a pinch to prove this is no dream, then leave them open, taking in the blanket of darkness that has become so familiar to me. You cannot imagine the shock one experiences when as you sleep all you see are vibrant colours in every shape and form, yet wake to a place that knows nothing of this. Dreary landscapes, stretching far beyond the line of sight, dull, dirty looking surroundings. Yes, each time I wake is another surprise, not usually a good one, hence my love for sleep. Hence my love for my time with her. She brings colour to me. She was the one who showed me that there could be more beyond the confines of this place I live in; who made me aware of their presence. Were it not for her, I would have nothing.
Sitting up I decide I might as well continue the journey and stand, legs a bit shaky as always, almost as though they need to remember how to carry the weight of my body each time I use them. Walking is another matter and this theory continues as I try to step forward, making the tottering steps of one who does not know himself and what he’s capable of. Not quite different from every other thing in my life.
I asked her once about this, why she decided to choose me for her revelations. Asked her in a quiet conversation while she tiptoed round me, peering intently, refusing to touch, yet captivated by what she saw. Captivated by me. I could tell she was as she looked at me, her translucent eyes wide with almost amused fascination. She hadn’t answered, had instead laughed prettily before disappearing from my sight and grasp. That was my second meeting with her, the first, well, I don’t think you’re quite ready to hear about the first.
There is a lull in the humming and I see that though she hasn’t appeared, it’s stopped on its own, as if startled by my stance and intimidated by me. This thought sends a kind of shiver through my stomach, not entirely unpleasant, but one of the feelings I associate with the probable time before.
Movement, then shuffling feet. It breaks my concentration and the feeling deep inside evaporates. I become tense, body taut as it has become accustomed at times like this. Every movement, every sound in this dark place means something. Whether they are ominous or not is often the question that the answer, some are too late at finding out.
The initial sound turns into an almost rhythmic beat along the ground. Were I not so focused on keeping completely still, barely breathing to avoid any noise coming from my own body, I might have found some enjoyment in this strange kind of music. It comes to a halt a ways off from me. A voice, clear and high speaks.
“Finally you wake. Come, we must gather the others. Quickly.”
A weapon is thrown to me, long, sharp blade, contrasting against the dull outdoors. I catch it deftly at the wooden handle and looking at it, I’m taken to another place inside me. It is here that I am brave, alive and ready for anything. In this case, I must help in the hunt. If we don’t do this they will come after us. It is a kind of understanding between us and the animals, a species that looks similar to us, but are different in more ways – whether real or imagined – than I could hope to explain to you, or that you could try to understand. Oh, I forgot and don’t want to confuse you, the one who spoke? It isn’t she who brings colour, but my sister, Mara.
In the dim light I walk towards Mara, feeling my bare feet touch the smooth ground lightly. Realising that I approach my elder sister turns, unsheathing her own sword as she does. So this was it. There had been a few days where nothing had happened, where all had been well, but now everything was as it always was. We’d have to fight again.
We walk to a place where a fire is dying into the ashes of one that was there the night before. Here others stand ready. Though I am their leader, there is no need for me to speak, to utter words of inspiration. They all know what we must do either way, so, gripping the handle of my sword tighter, feeling it hold onto me, become a part of me, a part that knows no mercy, just survival, I take off at a run.
It seems the more often we meet on the battlefield, the closer the animals come to our lands. It’s funny that I pretend even a part of this world belongs to anyone, as I’m somehow sure no one could ever tame the animals, except maybe her. Then again, even she must have her limitations mustn’t she? Or, is it possible that she rules even more than the sacred stones that she protects?
I realise I can be frustrating, not mentioning the name of the one who I hold in such awe, but that’s just the thing, she’s never told me her name and so I’ve had to conjure one for her though I never say it to her face — Celeste. I’m not sure why this resonates with me and can only imagine that it is because of the almost heavenly, celestial if you will, light she brings each time she comes to me. If I ever called her this in person, no doubt she’d laugh at both it and my reason.
Just thinking of Celeste warms my heart. She is a vision of absolute beauty, skin sheer and unblemished, waves of cascading goldenhair, eyes that easily see deep into my soul. This image of her I take almost everywhere with me. It strengthens me somehow, makes me able to . . .
“Jacob?“ Mara. This is the only time my sister pulls herself from her subservience to me. These moments where I forget the task at hand and revert to other places deep inside me that no one else touches, that I myself am too scared to harness, that I don’t genuinely think I can. I can see the lines in her face etched with anger and were I Mara, maybe I would be the same. If you had not already realised, the encounter I mentioned before has begun and as my thoughts of Celeste thoroughly possessed me, I quite forgot that I was meant to be helping . . . leading, this group.
There aren’t many of us, just enough to count on a few sets of hands and feet. Well, not if it were the limbs of the animals. They are not made quite like us though they try to blend now and then in order to eat away at us from the inside. I say eat and I quite mean it. They enjoy the taste of our raw flesh. Love to pull the skin viciously away piece by piece as we endure the suffering, unable to escape.
Horrified are you? Sorry, I’m surely not trying to scare you and honestly, I don’t blame them so much. Imagine if you were hungry, in a place where food was difficult to attain and you needed sustenance, tell me what you would do? Yes, I know you’ll pretend now, but deep down the truth is there. As for us? What do we consume daily?
Asserting myself again after Mara’s commanding shout, I charge into battle once more. The menacing growls of the animals no longer impose the same threat they once did and I bare my own teeth as though I would rip them to pieces just as they would us. We do, it’s true, but we prefer to put fire to our meals. I think it may have something to do with the old way, the time before.
I feel I must add to that assessment. Along with my courageous spirit, weapon in hand, pretentious as it may be, something else happens whenever we meet the animals. It is the only time I feel truly real, like a thing that has a story, a past, present and future. Like a thing that you can really see and touch. The only time I allow myself to be submerged into the belief that I was once held in loving arms, that there was a man fiercer than me who did his battles behind closed doors and over hot beverage. That there was once another besides, Mara and me. A brother.
He was the one that caused it all apparently. Mara seems to believe this fiercely and speaks with unveiled venom about him. When I first listened to Mara tell the tale, long before I met Celeste, I felt, how beautifully horrific. Now that I have made her acquaintance, I cannot help but wonder if it was all her doing. If it was as Celeste wanted it to be — all the pieces falling into wondrous place.
A claw-like fingernail rips at my already tattered tunic and I quickly lean the weight of my upper body back, before pushing my blade resolutely into what appears to be thin air. This isn’t the case and it doesn’t take long before I hear the guttural sound of tortured gasping from the gash I inflicted across a throat and hear the body fall, warm liquid splashing my feet.
There are other sounds, no humming mind you, but of the others as they kill or be killed. We all know the rules out here, we go as one but when you die, it is alone. I remember saying that a long time ago, or maybe it just seems that way and only happened yesterday or, maybe it has not happened at all. Either way, I remember the utterance. We seldom help each other when fighting the animals, though they hunt us in packs of at least five to one.
Don’t be alarmed, it doesn’t matter what they try, it appears we are of superior intelligence to the animals and evasive techniques coupled with commendable skills with our weaponry, aids us in returning alive most times. Not always mind, but most.
As for my leadership? I know you’re dying to find out how I got such a title, how I became leader of the Lost. Yes, I’ve taken to calling my band of illusions this — the Lost. I suppose it has to do with Celeste again. I hope you don’t tire of my mentioning her but she is very important in all this you see and if you bear with me, I shall reveal all I think, I know.
The spirit stones as she calls them, give me something as I hinted before, a kind of strange power. What shall I call it? Gift? Ability? Whatever the term, I possess it and it makes me simply, better, more efficient, more necessary, than most others. Refrain from thinking that I am arrogant, it is what Celeste told me and I am inclined to believe her. Wouldn’t you? No, you probably wouldn’t.
“They’ve pulled back!” A voice booms deep across the plain. Looking around, feeling the blood dripping from my face, I see the shouter speaks the truth. The animals are retreating to wherever it is they come from, far to the east. I drag my hand across my face, just because I like to see the small black pool form in my hands. It reminds me of holding the stones, of feeling that burning sensation they create throughout my body.
I’m never so sure of the blood’s actual colour, each time I see it, it is only black. I find this strange, as ours runs red and often decide that the animals’ appears black only because of the dark of the day.
The shouting voice belongs to Kale, one of the two that look the same. Isn’t that amazing? Two entirely different people, identical in appearance in every way. These kinds of phenomena make me think I really must be in some kind of dream world.
“They’ve pulled back!” Kale shouts again, harder this time, making sure that any who had gone too far from the group will hear his calls and return to us. There was a time when these words generated cheers. At least, that’s what Mara told me. It was this way in the days before I was old enough to rule, before I was old enough for Celeste. My sister said that there used to be rejoicing and happiness, things I don’t understand in my own emotional spectrum, but make me feel strange when she speaks of them. Now she says, it has become a routine, a dangerous but monotonous chore we take part in so we survive another day, week, month? Who knows in this place?
After Kale’s message to regroup, I feel my people gather around me. On some of their backs are the spoils of the day, meat that will last for some time. We lost no one in this run. This is good, as it means that I do not have to perform the queer ritual the old ones insist upon, the traditionally grounded elders who say they remember the before. They like to dig into the earth and cover the dead with piles of dirt. They say that is how it was meant to be done. I think they are merely trying to gain control of me in any way they can, but, Celeste will not allow it. At least, I don’t think she will.
The Lost look expectantly at me and nodding my head, I give the signal that we should return. They immediately obey and start to make their way quickly back. Mara falls into step beside me and instinctively takes my weapon away. Though older than me, she treats me as she would an elder. I know why she does, it is for the same reasons they all do, though from her I feel it holds deeper meaning.
“Oh brother, for want that you could see the man I now see before me.” She is always saying things like this, things I cannot reach out to, or put into a context that makes me better understand her. Sometimes I wonder if she is really my sibling, or if this is something I have been saddled with as part of an elaborate manipulation. I suppose our looks point to the truth, both with curls of dark hair and eyes clear, blue, green, grey? Which is it? You tell me, you probably see me better either way. “Mother would have . . .”
My head snaps round to look at her and the fierceness I feel flashing in my eyes makes her pause. She knows how I loathe her speaking of this ‘Mother’, of the ‘Father’, of the ‘Brother’, in ways that describe how they would have felt about me. These beings I know so little of, that I have only heard tales about, all who were members of this little group she calls the ‘Family’.
I don’t want to know what they would have thought, or how they would have lived. I dread listening to it time and time again. Listening to things I have no comprehension of. Do you see why I fear this is all so surreal? Just a trial to eventually send me mad, if I am not already? Do you see?
By the time we return to our camp it is completely dark again and the faint light from the village fire beckons us home. The elders will be sitting around it by now, awaiting the return of the warriors to eat. Those not fit for battle do most of the cooking and look after those elders who can no longer care for themselves. We have few children in the camp. Most women see being with child as an incredible burden, as something to be feared as it weakens them and the father who must try to protect them. Yet, it sometimes happens nonetheless.
Though I wish nothing more than to lie in my bed consisting of the tattered clothing of those already passed and sleep — the thing I am best at, it appears as though this won’t be the case, as the Lost bid me to speak with them. They have decided we need a better strategy, we need to find a way to rid ourselves of the animals and they want to talk about it all, now. This instant. With me just a few yards from my rest.
“We should go as a group and not return until we have wiped them all from this area,” Luca says. He is a frail specimen who cannot fight anymore as he is missing an appendage, yet loves to lobby for other more able bodies to run charging into the fray.
“Their numbers are far too great, it would take much time and unable to rest during such an attack would mean disaster for our side.” Ashe, the one who is Kale’s double speaks from a place of wisdom and understanding of the animals, resulting in general agreement among the group. Subsequently they ignore Luca’s rallying, making it clear that his voice is no longer welcome.
“You must say something Jacob, they will only follow your word, you know that,” Mara whispers the truth deep in my ear. All that the others have said holds no weight, in the end it is me they look to for guidance and whatever I decide, they will obey.
It isn’t easy. Do you think it is easy for the fate of all those before me to be placed solely in my hands? I admit there have been times when I have strongly considered taking the road Luca suggested, just because I know we would most likely meet our grisly ends. I must rephrase. I say ‘we’ and ‘our’, but really I should say ‘they’ and ‘their’. There is a part of me that knows, not thinks, that believes without a doubt, that Celeste will not allow me to die, not until her will whatever it may be, is done.
It is for this reason I have not led them into a battle of death and carnage. Celeste is not often with me and I cannot bear the thought of being left alone in this place. Though their allegiance is sometimes a burden to me, especially in times like this when I wish sleep to take over, it is better than hearing only the voices she wants me to hear, of having no physical contact, of seeing nothing but my own limbs and touching only my own face always.
I know that sentiment is somewhat ironic especially coming from me, one who shuns physical contact, who has no reason to be close to others or feel their heat against my own skin. Think though, you know how it is, how easy it is to decide to miss something you have never understood or felt, just because it is no longer there. Yes, I would dread being alone. There, I have said it! Now let us move on as thinking of this weakness makes me sick to my stomach.
“Jacob, you must speak to them,” Mara whispers more urgently. For the second time today I have lost my mental bearings and now see that their eyes, little black balls bouncing weirdly as the fire moves, staring at me intently, suggest that they wait for my order. A response. Anything that can soothe their fears.
This is always a problem for me. I have never been much for talk, feeling the way one’s tongue must move constantly, grazing over teeth meant only for eating, to be uncomfortable and disagreeable. However, I realise that if I wish to continue onto the land of dreams and colour, I must entertain them. What I say next I admit I pull from the proverbial hat of mistruths. I say something that I know many of them have wondered about and thought me unwise to avoid. My speech, like my steps when I first wake, begins stilted and slow.
“I . . . will . . . find wisdom, from the . . . sacred stones. Their power will work through me.” The Lost don’t need to know how ridiculous this comment is, how two-faced the conviction of my words are. I have no way to use the spirit stones. Celeste has not allowed me the knowledge needed to harness their power to the potential capable. Nevertheless, their acceptance of my words is worth the lie as they shuffle away, leaving me to the inevitable.
No, I don’t feel any kind of remorse for deceiving them. Why should I? Don’t they deceive me each time they pretend to respect and adore me? Each time they come to me for advice and wisdom, like tonight? It was you they truly loved, you they really wanted to lead. Too bad Celeste chose me.
Kneeling on my bed, the smell of blood and decay a constant reminder of its origins, I run my hand across it, smoothing the creased folds there. Turning slightly, allowing myself to descend and relax into the only comfort I know, I realise that standing above me is Celeste. She made no sound as she came, just appeared as she always does, with her light never ceasing to warm me and win me over. No one else sees her, she only allows those she chooses this honour. At least, this is what I have told myself in the past. She smiles at me, an expression I know well because it always reminds me of my sister’s own smiling face. An expression I envy, as it never graces my own.
“You will do all you said.”
I sit up now, not understanding what she means. So I ask her, timidly, ask her, afraid she will grow tired and disappear from my sight. “You will do all you said. The spirit stones, I will make them come alive for you.” My breath quickens and she gives me one last broad smile, teeth whiter than any I’ve ever seen, before vanishing.
I lie back, allowing her to sink into me. Not just her words, her. Having her come to me is surreal and after each visit, I must return to the twisted reality I inhabit. The place where she lives must be beautiful, where anything can happen and is possible. This time, she has told me what I have long dreaded, yet deep down wanted to hear. She’s ready for me to continue her work. She would let me be one with them. One with the trapped spirits of those gone long before I was even born.
As I doze, I cannot help but wonder if she was just waiting for me to speak it into existence, before pouncing. Almost as though I needed to invite the stones into me, accept them before she would allow me to use them. I quickly abandon this idea. I cannot believe that she would play such a cruel game.
It has been a few days since she first told me of her willingness to let me have control of the stones and now, standing with them before me, I feel my breath catch. They seem to shine with the colours from my dreams, the humming too fills my ears but it is not unsettling as it usually is, it is almost as if it has accepted me as she has. Finally.
I look at my hands. Then down at my feet, past my tattered garments. I always do this when I stand in the cave of the spirit stones. It is in these times I get to see exactly what my body looks like. The paleness of my skin identical to those in the village, fine dark hairs barely covering the surface, muscles forming elegantly the more I grow and feet veined almost as much as the elders.
Celeste hasn’t come to me yet, but I know she soon will. I told only Mara that I was going to the cave, others would have tried to accompany me had I mentioned it. To protect me they say, but I know it is only so they can try to glimpse the stones. It is so they can somehow touch the power they possess. It is no use though, no one else has ever been able to penetrate the mouth of the cave. It is as if some kind of force keeps all but me at bay.
I will not lie to you. This alone makes me feel superior. It is the one thing that makes me feel like I truly deserve to lead and have the lives of near fifty souls in my hands alone. If this is not so, then why would the cave want to spit everyone else out? I have to be in some way special, right?
“Follow me Jacob.” Celeste has come. I turn at the sound of her voice and already see her disappearing further into the cave. I don’t waste any time following her, wanting to hold onto the light that trails her very steps. When I look back to where I came from it is nothing but more darkness, but Celeste is like a beacon leading the way.
The walk is not long, but the meandering and constant changes in the path make it seem that way. I know where she’s taking me, she’s taken me there once before — the heart of the cave, where the spirit stones rest embedded in the walls.
My heartbeat quickens, a welcome feeling as I seldom get excited about anything at all. Watching her steps, bare feet seeming as if they seldom touch the ground, my own desecrating hers, this excitement grows. Ahead of me Celeste glides as she moves forward, everything about her light and carefree. Her hair floats behind her, sheer dress falling to her knees delicately and moving gracefully each time she does.
I take a moment to take her in when she finally stops. Her dress that was moments before moving like watery waves around her is still, hair settles like golden dust to her shoulders and her seemingly floating feet connect to the ground. Turning to me again she smiles with those teeth that must never have ever eaten of the animals and speaks. “Are you ready?” I nod yes quickly, not wanting to take the chance and have her change her mind. She turns again, then rounds a corner. Taking a breath, I follow her.
What’s on the other side makes me shield my eyes. It had nothing to do with the brightness of the stones, as in truth they do not shine brightly at all, it is the many dancing colours that I am presented with that take over all my senses. I slowly take my hand away from my face and look properly round. Each stone seems to be exactly in the place it is meant to be on the smooth, gray walls and they are numerous. They seem to pulse, which makes it seem as though they are growing as I get closer. I’m not remotely afraid of any of this, just awed.
Looking over at Celeste I see that she is pleased with my reaction. Her smile does wonders for my spirit and would she stay with me always, I think I would never need the stones.
“Go.” I know exactly what she means. She told me she would allow me to take of their power and now I was going to be able to touch them for the first time. The many emotions rushing through me right now are . . . ? I wish you could tell me, as I fear I cannot even verbalise them myself.
I step forward, knees shaking with the prospect of what is to come. The thing I sometimes feel in my stomach has reared its head now and I almost buckle under the pressure of the constant churning I feel there. Reaching my hands out I brush the surface of three stones bunched closely together. Then, gaining more confidence, especially with Celeste looking at me, I grab hold.
At first I feel nothing at all. Nothing different, no alarming or sinister presence taking over my body and definitely not as if I was now the all-powerful being I somehow expected to become. I look back at Celeste puzzled and, though I would rather not knowing how she dislikes me asking her questions, ask,
“Am I doing something wrong? It doesn’t seem like anything is . . .” Jolt. My body, as if being shaken, pushed and pulled simultaneously, takes on a life of its own. Celeste’s face blurs and fades. This must be the beginning. This must be the stones finally ready to give me their power. This must be . . .
“Did he come out of it? Is he out? Answer me,” Mara? This is the first voice I hear when I open my eyes again. The brightness of the lights affects them and I wonder how Mara could possibly be so close to the stones.
“It looks that way,” a voice speaks and a face blocks out the ‘sun’. It is Kale, peering down at me with a grave expression. I try to move my arms, then my legs, but find I’m somehow trapped. My first instinct is to panic, thrash about violently until I’m released, but I realise even the strength to do so has left me. Obviously the stones not only gave me their power, but took much of my energy in the process. I can only assume that somehow Celeste transported me back to the village, though, my bed of rags seems much softer than ever before.
“Good. That was a close one, check his vitals Kale.” Mara again. Her voice comes from far away, somewhere above me. “Celeste, how close are we?” Celeste? She’s here and talking to Mara? With Kale in the room no less? I don’t understand what’s happening. I try to move my tongue past my lips to speak. A female voice, not entirely human, booms out instead.
“Subject 3904, Jacob, has completed four of the five tasks.”
“Not bad, one more time and we’re home-free,” says Kale excitedly, who I now see is wearing some kind of silver jumpsuit, a garment that I have no idea where he could have attained it.
“We can’t send him back in, we barely got him back that time,” Mara again and this time, her voice comes from someplace further away. She sounds sad, the way she does when she talks about the Family.
“Celeste,” she says quietly, “Diagnosis of Subject 3904, Jacob, bring results up on screen.”
“Generating diagnosis of Subject 3904, Jacob,” says the mechanical Celeste voice. I hear a low whistle from Kale who’s still standing next to me,
“Will you look at that. How he came out this time I have no idea Mara.”
“Do you see why we can’t send him back? If we do it’ll ruin . . .” Celeste cuts Mara off.
“Correspondence from General Matthews, do you accept?”
“Of course Celeste patch him through.”
I listen to the voices as they go back and forth. The gruff tone of one that is unfamiliar to me and Mara’s going from low to high as she becomes more and more agitated. I barely understand any of it, but at the mention of Celeste, I cannot help but try harder.
“Celeste, your results for Subject 3904, Jacob.”
“As indicated from Subject 3904, Jacob’s brainwaves, the subject can no longer separate reality from fantasy. Subject believes he is being attacked and has been restrained for his own protection. Subject is a danger to himself and others.” Celeste stops and Mara asks,
“Subject 3904, Jacob must be removed from Apocalypse program immediately. Subject 3904 Jacob has become immune to treatments. Further treatments will terminate the life of Subject 3904 Jacob.”
“See General? How can you ask me to put him under again? This just isn’t right, we have to try something else, he’s my brother and your son for goodness sake!” I try to move my tongue past my lips for the second time and this time I hear a whisper escape,
“Where? Where am I?”
“He’s speaking, Mara he’s speaking,” Kale. The gruff-sounding tone, General Matthews, ignores Kale’s exuberance at hearing my voice as he gives his orders.
“He’s showed the most promise of all the candidates Major Matthews, a breakthrough in this war. Your study must continue at all costs, he could very well be the hope our nation needs.”
“But. . . ” Mara, who the General calls Major Matthews tries again . . .
“You will continue!” he bellows interrupting her. I don’t know what Mara says next because Kale is busy filling my head with too much information than I can process at once and little of it makes any sense. A test he’s saying, some kind of mind-altering technique. This world he says is overcome by people who have gone completely mad. Mad to the point that they kill for no reason and only the strong survive. Kale stops talking for a moment and I hear Mara whispering something to him before she comes to stand over me, picking up where he left off.
“You were among thousands who decided to take part in the experiment meant to end this war we’ve been fighting among ourselves. The Apocalypse program, which I developed,” I can hear the sadness in Mara’s voice as she tells me this, almost as if she is ashamed of her part in it. “In the beginning we had no doubt it would work, a serum that could make people remember the happier times, that would block out the pain and suffering and one day bring us back to some semblance of peace after the turmoil was long forgotten.” She holds my hand now and I wonder why I could never feel its warmth before now. “You’re the only one who’s survived the treatment so far Jacob, but it’s killing you. I know what father says, but I just can’t let you go on.”
Father, Mara from this strange dream says, but the Father is dead so I know this cannot be real. A dream given to me by the stones, a dream of a time before, that is the only explanation. Celeste must have wanted me to see what it was like, to help me understand myself so I could better wield the power of the stones.
The Mara touching me, her hand hot upon mine, her pulse beating against my flesh, this Mara, Major Matthews, is not real. She cannot be.
“Jacob, I’m going to let Celeste remove your restraints. You must be very weak so please don’t try to move.” She does not release my hand but says in a commanding tone, “Celeste, release him.” There is a loud click, followed by my arms and legs feeling freer than they were before.
“What . . . is happening?” I ask in something above a whisper as I stare up at Mara, who is cleaner than I have ever seen her. She smiles at me, an expression that stirs something in me that I could not hope to figure out.
“It’s okay Jacob, you’re safe now, mother has been worried sick, she won’t let father send you back, not after what happened to John.” Your brother. I feel are the next words on her tongue, but she never says them. She expects me to know who he is and this brother, with a name I’ve never heard, just somehow pops into my head the minute she said it.
“This isn’t . . .” I begin,
“Celeste, lower the temperature,” says Mara, then turning her conversation to Kale, “He just started burning up.” She directs her attention to me again, placing a hand meant for comfort on mine. “What was that? Still feeling strange? It’s because you’ve been under for more than two months Jacob, it’ll take time to readjust, if you . . .”
“This,” I interrupt, stronger now, “Isn’t real. None of it, none of it!” Convulsions. Those are what I feel coming from my body now. Mara is shouting. She’s screaming at Celeste to restrain me, using her own body to try and keep me still. I feel the strong arms of a man, Kale’s I assume, holding my legs, a brave feat considering how violently they’re flailing about.
The metal restraints are on again, but the violent shaking does not stop. I feel something coming from my mouth, not words, but thick and wet. Mara, her body almost flattened across mine, Kale’s hands pressing even more firmly on my legs, seem further away than when the animals watch us from a distance. When across the plains all we can see are their gruesome outlines, waiting for their chance to strike.
When next I open my eyes it is to the dim lighting that I am accustomed to. I hear talking outside the flap of old cloth that I use for a door and listen. It’s difficult to hear what’s being said and soon the struggle proves too much and I know I must get up. I make the usual movements to extract myself from bed when I see the outline of a woman at the opening of my tent.
“I thought I heard you wake. They want to speak to you about the stones.” My head spins and my stomach tries to grasp hold of itself as I remember all. The power of the stones had overpowered me somehow and Celeste had forcibly pulled me away from them. She’d left me to fend for myself then and I’d managed to make it back to the mouth of the cave where I’d been led back to camp and had slept until now.
I find myself wondering how long I’d slept. At first, stepping out into the open and seeing another night descend, it seems like days, but as I catch whispers from the Lost here or there, I realise I have slept for a very short time. This night, is far from over.
Mara and the two that look alike walk in front of me, leading the way towards the pyre. They built a bigger one it seems and everyone, down to the last child, has gathered to hear what the stones said to me. What they demanded of me, of them.
I sit in the place of authority among them, on a smooth stone that is set higher than the rest on other, smaller stones. At first I don’t say anything, staring into the fire and feeling the same electricity surge through me that did when I touched the stones. In a similar fashion, the fire seems to flow into me and fills me to the brim, causing me to overflow with its sheer power.
I know this has nothing to do with the fire and everything to do with the spirit stones. They told me exactly what we should do and how we would do it. They gave me a power that I feel as surely as I feel the wind on my bare legs. A righteous power that makes me know without a doubt that no one, animal or lost, can harm me in any way.
“Jacob, you must . . .”
“Sil-ence Mara.” My words are as stilted as they always are when I first sound my voice, but it does not matter. Mara says no more and waits for me to speak.
I look around at them, the uncomfortable feeling I always have whenever they stare at me so intently fleeing as the fire, the stones, my true strength, make a home of my body, mind and soul. I can feel my face stretching into a strange expression. Strange because it is something I seldom do. In the past, only Celeste makes this happen, this face, this smile. But now, as I think of the glorious path ahead of us, I share one. Fleeting and over before the Lost can think to return it.
“The animals, must be destroyed.”
Heomish, an elder, speaks, “Tell us what we know not,” his words are met with agreement by those gathered around me and I raise my hand slowly for them to be silent.
“We must all go. Down to the last child. It is the way the stones have told me.” This obviously does not sit well with many and the verbal attack begins. They argue among themselves, to themselves and with me. They ask if this is not what Luca suggested, a foolish plan that we had all disregarded. I say nothing, listening to snippets of the outbursts, unconcerned with the grumbling, knowing that none of it matters. My will, the will of Celeste, the way the stones have showed me, will be done.
“Jacob, is this wise? Leaving the camp to travel so far is foolhardy at best.”
“We will not go to them Mara,” I say turning to her, “They will come to us. We will offer ourselves up and defeat them all.” I see she is unconvinced and wastes no time in telling me this,
“We are a small force and the children . . . the elders, they cannot be expected to face such enemies. Can you not see that?”
“It is the way of the stones. Their will be done.” I stand now, having nothing more to say to Mara who posed the question, or anyone else. I see no reason to continue with this farce. They will do as I say whether they want to or not. The Lost are my people and I am Celeste’s. The stones are my power and would protect us all from the animals. The path had been made clear, everyone must fight. Not just the warriors. Not just the strong. Every single one of the Lost.
Part 2 – The Surreal Battle
Some time passed before we made another move and when that day came, I found that it dawned no brighter than any other. Time had been spent formulating tactics, teaching those not made for battle what could be learnt within limited time. The elders would lead the first charge or rather, be the bait. A distraction until we had launched our true attack. This had caused even more distress among my people, no matter how often I tried to explain that no harm would come to these, the old leaders of our society.
Mara too tried to convince me to change my mind. To change my plans, but I could not be weak. I would not be. There was just too much at stake and I refused to give in to any of their complaints or become a disappointment in the eyes of Celeste. She had showed me the way and so far had not failed me. Leading me to the stones, letting me have their power, were things she had not needed to do. She could have chosen another for this task, but she chose me and I would not divert from the path they told me to walk.
“They are ready,” Kale said coming towards me. Though there was no contempt in his eyes, I could feel his disapproval even as he handed my weapons to me. I’d added an axe to my personal arsenal. It was heavy in my hand and felt unfamiliar, even though I’d practiced with it as much as I could in the last days. I closed my fist tighter around my sword, glad that this at least was not foreign to me. Mara was coming up behind Kale. Her hair was braided and fell across her chest, freshly sharpened knives jutted from various parts of her clothing and a great sword was strapped across her back. My sister was ready. I looked at her expectantly.
“The elders?” I asked. Her expression was blank as she responded,
“They are making their way to the plains now. Ashe shadows them.” Relations between us had been strained, emphasized by the absence of Celeste, who I had not seen since I returned from the cave. Mara was the only one who seemed to accept me for all I was and her indifference had not been easy to miss. I knew she felt I spat on her council, where before I had always listened.
“This is good,” I said simply. We will follow them now. Kale, make sure the children stay hidden behind the boulders. They can practice their archery from there. Mara, with me.” In all the battles I had led, this was the first where I felt truly in charge, even though it was also the first time my people were not in agreement with my actions. Still, this could be overlooked, all that mattered was that despite this they were willing to follow me. For a moment I thought my face would try to do the thing it found so difficult, but as soon as I thought it, the smile retreated.
“Very well, I’ll round up the others,” Mara said stiffly.
“No,” I said putting my hand up for her to stop, “We will go together sister.” Mara’s expression showed her confusion, as if she was unsure how she should respond. Then, as if she’d decided all was well, she showed me the smile that had been hidden from me since the last time we’d all sat around the fire. I nodded my head in reciprocation. “Come,” I said now, walking towards our army.
I wished the screaming would stop. It was like this never-ending sound that no matter how I tried to block it out, broke its way through all my audio barriers with little effort. I swung my sword, taking the head of one of the animals, it was a clean cut but I slammed my axe into the headless body anyway. It fell in three pieces to the ground, kicking up dust as it did.
They had taken our bait just as the stones said they would and had come as a horde far larger than what we had ever encountered before. However, their numbers did not make up for lack of skill and killing had been relatively easy. At first.
When the elders had done their duty, they had been instructed to fall back. Retreat as quickly as they could to our home. Many had tried and failed, just not fast enough to escape the clutches of our enemies. The children were unskilled, but supplemented the trained archers in the way that we had hoped. They shot at only those animals that were afar off, cutting them down in their tracks, inflicting wounds that would be hard to recover from.
Mara had not left my side and together we took many at a time. She was as vicious as ever, her movements fluid and without pause. I fed off her energy and the energy of those around me. I could feel the stones’ power deep within me, fuelling me and pushing me forward and those that fought with me amplified this ten-fold. This however, did not change the fact that we were losing.
No matter how many of them we managed to conquer, replacements were endless. They came across the plains in a flood of dirty flesh and bared teeth, wanting nothing more but to take us all for their own pleasures. Their lust to feed upon us was more intense than it ever had been, it was as if they had somehow heard of our plan and decided to oblige.
“We’ll have to fall back Jacob. They won’t follow the fire, let us fall back!” Kale shouted when he was within earshot. I gutted an animal with my axe, spun round and stabbed another through the chest with my sword.
“No.” I answered, “The stones were clear we must . . .”
I ducked at Mara’s warning, feeling the wind from her great sword as she slashed it across the neck of one who had tried to take me from behind. There was no time to thank her as I stood again, chopping my axe into flesh and yanking it out with the new strength that had seemed to possess me throughout this fight.
“We must fall back,” Mara yelled, echoing Kale’s sentiments as she did her best to stay alive. “We must!” She screamed almost and in the fleeting moment I was able to look at her face, I was sure I saw tears mingling with the blood on her cheek.
“No,” I answered again, even though I could see them dying. Whenever I chanced to look at anything other than those that were attacking me, I could see them. I could hear the screams. Screams that did not stop. The archers had tried their best, but with children making up most of their numbers, it had been difficult to stave off the animals. We were surrounded, a small group of the Lost in the midst of grabbing, clawing, killing animals. Maybe some of the elders have escaped, I thought to myself, the irony of the bait being the only ones to survive the onslaught not escaping me.
“Jacob, we can make a path, we can still make it back, there’s still time,” Mara beseeched me, her sword returned to the sheath on her back as she used her knives. She liked to do so when in close combat and the animals, were close and closing in.
I could not see Kale anymore and assumed that he too had been lost. It was happening, one after the other I knew. Those I had known for as long as I could remember were giving their lives for my precious stones. Could it be that I had believed in vain? Could I have misunderstood what they intended me to do? Surely they did not mean for all to be killed, leaving me alone.
“Jacob?” Celeste. Hearing her voice cast away all doubt. She had come back for me and would make sure that no harm came to me. I used my sword to take the heads of a few more of the animals before looking frantically to see where she was. I could feel the animals tearing away at my clothing, grabbing me in my distraction, but they would be nothing compared to her. Celeste would destroy them all.
“Jacob, what are you . . .?” The screams I heard next come from nearby and looking over, I saw Mara’s dark head disappearing into an animal’s clutching hands. I felt something for a moment, but . . .
“I never gave up Celeste, I knew you would not betray me, I knew the stones would not lead me astray.” I reached out my hands to her, feeling them grabbed and pulled by the animals. The pain I should have felt as they tore my flesh with their claw-like fingernails was eclipsed by her beauty. She smiled at me, suspended above the carnage, reaching her own delicate hands out to touch me, to take me with her, away from it all. I felt my knees buckle, felt myself sink to the floor, the animals beating at my head and body with violent abandon. Yet, all I saw was her.
She touched my hands, pulling me up and taking me to her bosom and as if tired from the fighting, I found myself falling into a relaxed state, almost sleeping, immediately realizing that there are no more screams.
Mara watched as the fire consumed what was left of Jacob. It was hard for her to close the iron door of the incinerator, closing the door meant that he was gone forever.
She wished everything had been as it was a year ago, when she would have been able to bury her brother, most likely in the plot next to their other sibling, John. He’d been riddled with the disease and in a fit of unfounded rage had tried to kill their mother, before their father had mercifully ended his life. She soon crushed these thoughts, knowing that had that been the case and everything was as it was, their family would never have experienced all it had and knowing this, was harder to bare than the experience of losing another brother.
Everything would be the same as it always was. Wednesday night dinners at mother and father’s house, where she and her brothers would come together and talk about their mundane lives. Mother and her older brother went on and on about so many things. Mara and her father often joined, but there was one subject they never broached — their work. The army didn’t look kindly on those who spilled the proverbial beans.
Jacob had always been the least talkative of the Matthews family. It was almost like pulling teeth for him to tell tales of his day to day life. It was because of this and so many other things, that Jacob had been secretly Mara’s favourite. Her littlest brother, with so much to live for, reduced to ash in a matter of minutes.
No one else had come. mother, too distraught to face another of her children’s deaths now refused to leave her room and a nurse had been commissioned to sit with her day and night, should she try to end her own life. As for father? Mara’s fists tightened in anger when she thought of him. Father was already choosing another subject. Another one to find a cure for their despair. Another one like Jacob, sent unwittingly to death.
Paranormal fantasy flash fiction; 212 words.
The wind was loud, pushing against the shutters as she sat in the otherwise deep quiet of the room. She was perturbed, her discomfort washing over her like an infection that had no intention of being cured. They had all left after the big reveal, leaving her to her own devices and haunting memories of the night’s events. If for any reason she couldn’t recall on her own, the one light still flickering happily, cast shadows that showed her roaming eyes the mess that had been made.
But really, she didn’t need to look to know the damage that had been done. Should she close her eyes, she could see the images as clearly as if they had occurred moments before, not hours.
The simply inhuman strength and speed exhibited by her family, people she had known her entire life, had terrified her. Their explanation had been even more unsettling, especially when she had learnt that her time of change loomed just months away. After her fifteenth birthday she wouldn’t be mortal anymore, she’d have to suffer through the pain they had warned her about. A prospect that gave her chills.
“A family of vampires,” she whispered to herself, absently touching her teeth. She wasn’t sure she wanted to be a member.
Journey to the End of the Path
Thriller/paranormal short story; 663 words; inspired by a night spent searching for a party.
The thudding of Ren’s head against the car window as she slept was unsettling. It wasn’t actually audible, but each time we ventured over one of the numerous bumps in the road, I imagined I could hear it.
Sasha’s voice interrupted my strange reverie, “Is that it?” she asked from the front passenger seat as we drove past the first sign for miles. We had been trying to find an abandoned barn for the last hour and so far had come up empty. It was supposed to be the site for the biggest underground party that month and there was no way we were going to miss it. At least, that’s what we’d thought half hour before, somewhere around the time we’d left civilisation far behind.
“The sign said Martin’s Bend, that’s the one isn’t it?” Matthew asked anyone who was paying attention. He was the driver for the night and finding it more and more difficult to rely on our navigational skills.
“Better turn back and make sure,” I said now, sneaking another glance at Ren. Thud, her head went as Matthew made a sharp turn on the empty road.
“Yea, it’s here,” Sasha said excitedly, “I don’t see any lights or anything though.”
“So do you want me to turn?” Matthew asked. I leaned forward, inspecting the sign closer. It was old, crooked and covered with moss.
“Yea, we can try at least. Maybe it’s further in,” Sasha said with less confidence and I could tell that she too was a bit put off by the sign’s appearance. Matthew complied.
Seconds later we were on a dirt path, walled in by bushes. A closed wooden gate loomed ahead and something inside me went cold. Immediately I knew we needed to get out of there.
“Let’s not do this guys, every single movie I’ve seen says that we die out here if we go on.” Nervous laughter from the two up front; the car inched forward.
“Maybe we have to ring a bell or something at the gate?” Sasha asked the air.
“I don’t see a house, or anything else behind that gate, so I don’t think that’ll work,” Matthew responded, still driving forward. A thought occurred to me,
“All this bush, yet the path is totally clear. It’s obviously used pretty often.” I shivered involuntarily, “Guys, let’s go, let’s just turn around and go.” I looked over at Ren, who still did not stir. I had no clue how she was staying asleep through all of this.
“I don’t get it, the directions in the text said it should be here. Head up to the gate Matthew, just to be sure,” Sasha said, her voice quieter than before. She rolled her window up, though I doubt she even realised she’d done so. The car came to a stop in front of the gate, which had horses with sinister red eyes carved into it. Beyond that were just shadows, created by the headlights shining into the bleak darkness. My apprehension grew as Sasha read the notice hanging from the gate,
“Enter at your own risk,” she said, barely above a whisper.
“Okay, I’m turning around,” Matthew said a little too loudly, obviously trying to abate his own discomfort. I sighed with relief and listened as the two chatted about who could own the place and what was really behind the gate. Matthew was just about to make the final turn on the small pathway, when a man came to stand at his door. On his head was a rubber fisherman’s hat and his nearly toothless grin was eerie in the dim light. In his hand he held a wooden mallet.
“Do you not read signs?” He asked as we looked at him almost too shocked to move. From the fog of fear that was threatening to grab hold of me completely, I heard another voice,
“What’s happening,” Ren asked, finally awake and rubbing her eyes sleepily. Sasha screamed.
Fantasy; 89 words.
The lone box of tissue had seen tears and anger. It had seen people of all shapes, colours and sizes pull from its depths, wanting to find comfort in what it could offer. The purple and white box did not discriminate. It enjoyed the attention bestowed upon it. It was wanted, needed, which was more than it could say for some who used it. The lone box of tissue would revel in its place of honour until the love it gave —- its tissues clean and white, ran out.
The Climb (2012)
MG fantasy/Carib speculative short story; 1497 words; memories of tree climbing back in Barbados become fantasy.
Dark romance flash fiction; 407 words
“Do you care for me?” Julia asked, looking down at her scuffed boots. Lars stared at her for a moment, as if considering his answer,
“Only when you are very, very quiet,” he said finally. She looked up, forehead creased into a frown,
“I don’t understand, why do you play with me so?” Lars’ interest turned to a passing child, he answered absently,
“That is two questions, we agreed you could have just one.” Julia could have screamed with anger at his response and she did somewhere deep down, but as she looked at him, his smug expression threatening to cloud her own judgement, she chose another approach.
“You haven’t answered the first.” He looked at her again, brown eyes boring into hers,
“Yes, I did, it cannot be helped that you refused it.” Julia opened her mouth, closed it again. Then, through gritted teeth,
“You care for me only when I am very quiet? So shall I remain silent so that your precious love can wash over me?” Keeping the sarcasm from her tone was not easy, but she plodded on, “I suppose it is best to assume that as I speak, your affection wanes?” He looked at her, obviously amused,
“You can assume whatever you wish.” Julia fought to keep her frustration at bay, but it proved too fast for her,
“I cannot return to my father without an answer, will our families be joined or not?” Lars simply laughed,
“Now the count is three. I think you might have asked the wrong one first.” It was Julia’s turn to look away. Her eyes rested on the stump of tree that acted as a public seat for anyone tired on long days. Her voice was quieter when she spoke again,
“I told him,” she began, then stronger, “I told him I would never take one who did not truly care for me, but now, with all that’s happened . . .”
“You cannot pick and choose,” Lars finished for her. Julia nodded. She didn’t need to explain. Her father would not live through the spring and in their little town, a woman left alone was a dangerous thing. Lars took her hand, gripping it tightly,
“It will be as you wish.” He let go, nodding at her resolutely.
“Does this mean . . . ? She ventured, wanting him to say anything other than what he already had,
“It means whatever you need it to.”
Caterpillar Dreams (2012)
Fantasy short story; 1511 words
Journal of Tea (2012)
Paranormal thriller flash fiction; 63 words; first flash piece I wrote.
She was late to the party and unconcerned with boys, trains or interludes where tea was served in prim cups, set on flowered oriental ceramic. The journal she held clutched to her chest was not hers, but from it, she had learnt things that made her distrustful of them all . . .
Fen’s Safari (2013)
Science fiction; under 500 words; This is a bonus selection and from a competition I’d done. The link leads to one of my archived posts where the story sits :).
Dark clouds spread across the sky and sun struggled against them.The Climb
“So shall I remain silent so that your precious love can wash over me?”Tough Love
Peter’s stomach folded and twisted into knots. He tried to move…Don’t Stop!
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