June 2020 WEP Contest piece

With the Urban Nightmare chosen for June’s Write…Edit…Publish…challenge, I had a few different ideas. Before realizing I could alter the un-submitted piece from February’s challenge, to fit the current theme. Deriving inspiration out of fiction and reality alike. Employing a fictional version of a notorious late 19th century serial killer, Jack the Ripper. Combining that with elements of Gothic fiction, and a hodge-podge mix of mythology to craft a monster that stalks the cobblestone streets and alleys of Whitechapel. Inadvertently giving rise an age old question, which inspired the title for this entry. I humbly present, Man or Monster?

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The sudden creak of the door behind being pushed open revealed my guest had surprisingly agreed to this unusual evening meeting. In silence, I waited for him to take the seat to my left. While I waited, I took advantage of the opportunity to pour two glasses of whiskey from a nearby bottle. I let him seize one of the pewter glasses, allowing him a moment to gather the doubts and questions that filled his mind since my letter was delivered.

Watching him swallow some liquor before commenting, “I most admit your letter gave me a start if your claim of identity isn’t a falsehood. Your chosen spot for this meeting is a strange, perplexing, curiosity.”

I remarked, “You speak true, on both accounts, Cheif Constable Redding. I am indeed the man the newspapers have dubbed Jack the Ripper. Yet, I would not be so quick to summon your fellow officers that lurk inside this bordello,” taking a moment to alter my mask to partake a subtle sip of this spirituous liquid. “I have studied your history enough to know that you pursue the truth, even if that answer is impossible. That inquisitive nature has bequeathed you a peculiar air, given your impressive rank. I press upon a startling revelation that those I have butchered carry a deadly gift besides possessing potent feminine charms and striking beauty. A troublesome and dangerous gift that burdens them with an insatiable lust for blood.”

Constable Redding commented, “The mortician did find some abnormalities that were left undocumented. Despite the focus the papers have on your murders, there have been additional deaths of an even more unusual nature. Oddly enough, they have decreased some since the demise of Mary Nichlos. Supposes I believe that your killings have some unforeseen benefits to the citizenry at large, proving that to others would be troublesome, neigh impossible affair. I should place you in shackles, to ensure that the murders of alley girls cease. Yet, I will grant you one to chance to offer proof of something paranormal stalking the cobblestone streets.”

I had to repress a manic grin at the constable’s expected response. “Then let us meet again at the catacombs of St. Mary’s church just before sunset,” emptying my cup and placing it beside the bottle. “I would suggest you come prepared with the blade you carried in your youth while serving the empire. What the two of us will hunt is an entity born without mercy. Till then, Constable Redding,” parting myself from the lawmen’s company, to finish the necessary preparations.

*****

Dusk had barely past over this sacred place by the time Constable Redding arrived alone. The pale glow was emitting from a lantern casting out a soft orange hue, revealing the handle of a sheathed saber at his left hip. Suppressing a smile, I lit a second lantern with a swift strike of a matchhead. I placed the aflame torch on a weathered tombstone to reveal an almost undetectable trail of dried blood speckled amongst the dirt and stone. The stone path leads to a broad set of doors decorated with religious symbols, rust, and additional dried blood. A pungent stench of decay and ammonia poured out from within the narrow crack between the two doors. Using my right hand, I adjusted my temporary facial covering to mask the rancid odor.

I commented, “You’re auspiciously late constable. However, fortune smiles upon us as this monstrosity remains inside its crypt,” hearing a sudden, short, inhuman growl fill the air. “Prepare yourself without delay. It has awakened,” quickly unsheathing the pair of kukris resting at my hips.

Observing something burst forth from inside, nearly removing the doors from their hinges. This entity refused to spare me a glance, charging immediately at the constable. By divine grace, the lawman managed to raise his blade to parry the creatures menacing black talons. I took advantage of the monster’s distraction to sprint forward. Observing how fluidly this abomination moved, it’s pale skin somehow reflecting the moonlight. Close enough to strike at the creature, I sliced horizontally at the demon’s left thigh. In response, it howled out, ignoring the viscous black substance that was flowing down its leg. Constable Redding took swift advantage of its exposed chest, cutting a large, horizontal wound across its lower abdomen. The monster swatted the lawmen with the back of its left hand, forcing him off his feet. The beast altered its focus to me and began to stare at with hollow, burning red eyes. It was opening its jaw to reveal two rows of sharpened teeth before running towards me. Somehow oblivious of the blackened blood escaping the large wound on his chest. Bracing to defend myself, I raised my curved daggers, hoping my crusade would not end here.

Suddenly a deafening cracking sound brought the creature to a complete stop. Only then did I smell the distinctive odor of gunpowder hanging in the air. The loud noise repeated itself in quick succession, enhancing the scent of powder that clung to the atmosphere. I approached the creature keeping an attentive gaze for any sudden moves, taking note of the three circular wounds on the creature’s left breast. One, or perhaps all of the bullets must have pierced the monster’s heart. In its final moment, the beast released a thunderous roar, before falling to the ground.

Stepping around the fallen demon, I walked towards the constable. Taking immediate notice of the smoking revolver clutched in both hands.

Constable Redding asked, “Is that paranormal monstrosity the end of the strange deaths, and your killings?”

I replied, “Perhaps lawmen. Have the mortician burn the body, before rumors of its appearance can spread further. Only time will tell if this nightmare is truly over, or if its the beginning of something far more horrifying,” departing the constable’s company. Hoping that this was indeed the end, for I have more than quenched my thirst for death.


Word Count: 987 Critique level: Full

WEP December 2019 “Footprints” challenge piece

The “footprints” theme for this challenge proved more difficult than I originally thought it would be. Initially, I considered writing a narrative focused on the pursuit of a dangerous monster into the ancient woods it calls home. Telling the tale from the perspective of hunter, as he tracks the creature using the impressions left behind in the snow. Which after I wrote the introduction paragraphs, I realized that it wasn’t a feasible option despite how it catered to the theme. Building on that idea, I pondered transforming it into the story of serial killer fleeing the police. Unfortunately, I ran into the same problems as the previous idea.

Erasing the metaphorical idea board, I starred at blank page uninspired. Managing to discover an idea from a place I overlooked without much thought. My imagination channeling my love of Punk Rock, and its ideologies into something I could shape to fit the theme. Taking inspiration from the songs of various bands and musicians including Beans on Toast, Chuck Ragan, Against Me, Frank Turner, and many more. Telling a tale of a musician who lives on the road and on the stage, acting as a pilgrim of music. Along with taking slight lyrical insight from Frank Turner’s song The Road, which can be listened to below. Underneath that, I humbly present the tale I titled, A Pilgrim of Punk.

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A Pilgrim of Punk

The rain bombarded the bus window, creating a faint melody with each drop that landed against the tinted glass. In silence, I watched from my seat at the passing of the blurred city-scape. Noticing how close we were to the town, I removed my earbuds before casually placing them into my jacket pocket. The screen of my phone brightening as a reaction, allowing me a moment to see it was just past three a.m. Rubbing my thumb and forefinger over my eyes, I glanced around the sparsely full overnight bus. My six fellow passengers strangers following their invisible roads of fate on this gloomy night. All of us would soon depart this bus, leaving behind a ghost of our current selves.

Just before dawn, the Uber pulled into the familiar motel parking lot. The driver popped the trunk before, stepping out to unload the single, worn suitcase that accompanied me when I traveled. In silence, I exited the vehicle with my time-tested guitar bag in hand. I thanked the driver for his assistance in unloading my luggage. I wrapped my hand around the short handle of my duffle bag before, making my way towards the hotel’s front desk after walking through the set of automatic doors. Sitting behind the hotel counter was well-dressed women in a dark red blazer, with the miniaturized version of the hotel logo on the left breast pocket.

She stared up at me through wireframe glasses, asking, “Can I help you, sir?”

I responded, “I’m here to check-in to my room. The reservation is under the name Skibba.”

She nodded and typed the name into the computer that rested in front of her. The blue light from the screen was reflecting into her glasses, casting a brief silence between the two of us. A short ding erupted from unseen speakers, likely built into the monitor.

She said, “I found your reservation, sir,” digging something out from within the desk, handing me an unsealed vanilla envelope, with a few pieces of laminated papers protruding from it. “You are in room number 212. Take the stairs to your left and then turn right. Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”

I responded, “That should be all for now,” grabbing the envelope and tucking it inside my empty jacket pocket.

The woman nodded, dismissing me with a simple gesture. I walked away before heading up the split-level staircase, following her unneeded directions. I traced the footprints of memory, while I made my way towards my room for some much-needed sleep.

*****

Squashing the dying remains of a cigarette under my boot backstage, a habitual ritual I performed every time before, stepping onto that evening’s stage. I starred out at the audience, aware that I was retracing the footprints of a forgone youth. Grabbing the microphone, I said, “This isn’t the first time I have played this familiar stage,” strumming softly on my guitar. “I see some familiar faces, and some unfamiliar faces here tonight. Hopefully, all you enjoy have enjoyed this evening so far and will continue to,” starting to play the intro for Shackles and putting every fiber of emotion into the song, belting out the lyrics.

I refuse to imprison myself in your shackles.

Instead, I choose to follow my own path traveling the road to unknown places.

Playing overcrowded pubs and undersold stages alike, tracing footsteps that aren’t my own.

Having drinks with strangers in dive bars the world over, understanding that living on the road was the key to my freedom.

Creating new paths in cities familiar and mysterious, traveling the road a pilgrim of music all my own.

Watching the crowd near the stage start to stir, jump, scream, mosh, and dance around, creating a simple, primitive display of musical jubilance. In my several hundred, if not thousands of times playing this song, the meaning of the tune had transformed over time. When I wrote the lyrics for the first time, it was about the horrible terms of the unfair contract and how the legality of it controlled my art and life. Now, it represented something more than that, standing for the roller-coaster, nomadic lifestyle of a musician. I continued to play, moving my fingers about the nickel-plated strings of my guitar without a thought. The individual strings of my guitar acting like an old friend that brought me a constant stream of pleasure and pain. Each chord I played a cathartic release of raw emotion, that metaphorically left me exposed to the world. Yet, I found myself reinvigorated by the relentless energy of the frenzied crowd. That ethereal sustenance a spring of strength I used to perform each night.

Watching the energy of the crowd wax and wane throughout my two-hour set and short encore. My callused fingers playing the last few chords, while the stage lights began to dim, the speakers echoing out the final note of the evening to an exhausted audience. I was carrying my guitar backstage, walking along a well-traveled invisible path. Ready to create more footprints on the endless road that was my lover and life-long friend.

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Word Count: 853 Critique level: Full

WEP June Challenge 2019 Entry

Being considerably occupied with Z Publishing House pieces when last months challenge was going on, I choose not to participate in the April challenge to concentrate my creative energies on those pieces. Knowing I would return for the June challenge instead.

With the challenging theme for this month being “Caged Bird,” I realized I could interrupt that in either a metaphorical way, a literal way, or a combination of them. That being stated, I quickly disregarded my first thought of doing a Faustian style story where the demon acts as the bird. Switching gears to something more imaginative and partly inspired by love of old fashioned science fiction, where unexplored alien worlds are common. Modifying that idea with some more modern thinking shaped by problems like climate change and resource depletion. Crafting a piece of flash fiction I hope you enjoy, titled Hope’s Fragility.


Looking through this self-tinting glass screen, I looked out at this alien landscape. Strange double helix looking trees covered in magenta colored bark, and having deep purple ellipse shaped leaves rested on the western horizon. Their roots obscured by layers of a pale tan soil, that darkened in color as it descended the ragged broken-toothed cliff. Breaking black waves from the adjacent dark sea bombarded the base of the cliff.

I was beginning to slowly stagger forward with caution, attempting to get a sense of any injuries from my forced crash landing on XR-ELP8. The probes I had been sent to retrieve indicated this celestial body had the potential for successful terraforming barring there was a vacancy of sentient, intelligent life. Any proven signs of civilization would cause an uproar in the media if we attempted terraforming in complete disregards to them. While only a few truly understand how our home, had slowly transformed into a rotting cage of increasingly toxic air, corporate control, and rapidly depleting resources.

I was ceasing to move when a high-pitched wail filled my airtight helmet. The noise was immediately drawing my attention to the flexible computer on my right arm that displayed the data it was processing from the endless array of sensors built into my spacesuit. Looking down at the dark screen, I saw that my less than smooth landing had torn three holes in my suit. I was cursing under my breath at my astounding ill fortune, quickly trying to repressurize my spacesuit. Knowing how important it was to maintain a constant internal equilibrium to minimize any changes my body would go through as I adapted between various shifts in gravity in my journey throughout the cosmos.

I managed to temporarily stabilize my suit before heading towards the wreckage of my ship. Stumbling forward into the smoldering crater hoping I had bought enough time to salvage the communication system and send an SOS signal back home. Gravity forcing me to slide downward for a few seconds before I forcibly stopped myself by placing my hands outward. Emitting a brief grunt between my teeth in my pain, as I stood up, stepping over a few pieces of blackened metal alloy plates that slashed through the foreign soil leaving tiny grooves behind.

Feeling briefly grateful when I noticed that the communication panel was still fully intact, and appeared to be in working order. With all the strange circumstances behind the crash, fortune had given me some leeway, giving me some chance I had a way home. Carefully stepping into my seat before connecting my suit’s computer into the ship’s mainframe and running a quick diagnostic to confirm that communications were still operational. Forced to wait in tense silence for a few minutes, thoughts of desperation, panic, and the chance this mission had become suicidal raced through my head. Hearing the steady pulse of my heartbeat begin to accelerate, thumping away in my head like a thousand bass drums being played at four hundred beats a second. Forcing a seemingly infinite amount to pump through my skin and soak my face and armpits.

What felt like a few hours passed but, it was likely it was only a few minutes before three short beeps emitted from the ship’s small onboard speaker. Taking multiple breathes before I looked down at the screen of my suit’s computer. It seems my worst, darkest nightmare had quickly overtaken and consumed any optimism I had left, filling me with a depressing sense of dread. With the primary communication antenna missing and presumed to be in an unknown distant location, I resigned to myself to a grim fate. My protective spacesuit was quickly transforming itself into a doomed cage of nylon, spandex, and synthetic polymers. The high-pitched wailing returning indicating I had inadvertently created more tears in the outer layer of suit. Compromising it beyond any repairs, I could do without proper assistance.

It left this mission that once gave hope to a dying world, into a task that could cost humanity its future. This planet was becoming one elaborate reluctant cage for an Earth-man who only wanted to serve the world. That was my last thought as this alien world fell dark around me.

Critique level: Full Word Count: 705

WEP June 2018 “Unraveling Yarn” Entry Piece

I debated continuing my raypunk inspired piece for this month, but rapidly realized it was difficult for that to fit within this month’s theme. Taking a departure from the aesthetics and retro-futurism of raypunk for this month WEP contest piece, without managing to fail at the self-assigned challenge. Rethinking what I could create within the context of the theme, going towards Greek Mythology.  Taking some inspiration from that, and realizing how quickly I could fuse those elements with the Clockwork Punk ideals. While Clockwork Punk is similar in aesthetics to Steampunk,  the former takes a heavy focus on gears. In addition to that Clockwork Punk works within a great symbiosis with magic and alchemy. Combining all those elements, I began to shape the tale below. A story I titled, “Fixing Fate.”


Fixing Fate

Someone faintly knocked on the door to my workshop, barely audible over the sound of moving gears. With reluctance, I got up to answer the door, curious to know who could be knocking at this late hour. Opening the door a smudge, seeing scrawny women dressed in a tight-fitting white dress. Her face obscured under a thick white veil, held in place with an ornate antique band of gold. The flames from gear powered torch reflecting against her dress.

With a raspy voice, she asked: “I’m seeking Cornelius Flamel, are you he?”

Glancing past the women to make sure she was alone before answering “That depends on who is asking,” since I had decided to hide my family’s name from all but a select few.

She responded “A woman whose existence is older then you can imagine. The Greeks called me Clotho, while your father knew me as Amaryllis.”

My father had told me once of a mysterious woman with the name. He didn’t say much about her, other then she imparted great knowledge to him. Opening my door farther waving her in, knowing that if my father trusted her, she possessed great character. Grabbing a brass lever by the door, rotating it clockwise. Using its mechanical energy to brighten the ceiling lights of my workshop. Locking the door before glancing at the woman, whose eyes seemed to be scanning the room. Now noticing she had brown patchwork clock bag over her shoulder, that was glowing faintly from the inside.

Amaryllis said “While I’m uncertain what your father told you about me, I know he taught you privately. Sharing his vast knowledge on various subjects,” walking over to a big machine hidden under a cloth. Dropping the bag before grabbing the dirty cloth, pulling it off with a flourish. Revealing a steel loom, that was empty of fabric. Intricate gears ran throughout the machine’s interior. Engraved into the metal were alchemic symbols, that had been filled in with white paint. A golden lever ran itself out the center of the body. “While I regret sharing the designs for this machine but, I’m glad it now. While this may appear to be an ordinary loom Cornelius, this one only works on one particular material. I need you to rebuild the strings of fate that are within the bag. This machine will restore their potency, allowing the world to continue it’s onward,” kneeling some and placing something inside the interior mechanical workings.

Walking toward the loom, I could feel a strange power radiating off the machine I couldn’t explain. The energy the device was emitting was forcing a powerful tingling sensation to ascend up through my right arm. Its focal point seemed to be the ring I inherited from my father.

Amaryllis said “It is time for you to get work Cornelius,” stepping back from the machine. Walking out the door, without saying another word.

Reaching into the bag, she left behind pulling out split clean-cut golden threads. Feeling a slight warmth come off the thread as I fed it to the machine. Pressing down on the brass pedal with my right foot, pulling more of cloth into the loom. Watching the machine re-weave the thread as more of fate’s strings were slowly pulled into the loom. The alchemical symbols engraved onto the loom beginning to match the glow of the strange jewel Amaryllis placed it. Somehow the combination was restoring the golden glow of the strings. Being mesmerized by the lights as I worked on the fractured yarn.

Losing track of time as something tapped me on the shoulder. Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw Amaryllis had returned. Looking almost revitalized despite the white veil that covered her face. Walking over to the where the loom had collected the restored thread. Placing the bundle inside in a black wooden box with antiqued brass hardware, with great care. The bin was free of any symbols, or carvings that could indicate how the container would hide the restored energy of the string. Slamming the box’s lid down, before vanishing into the dark again. Leaving the strange jewel, she placed into the loom behind. Its glow barely a flicker of what it was previously. Making it appear as if it was nothing more than an ordinary ruby, despite its size. Lifting the ruby carefully, I noticed it was the exact match for small ruby in my father’s ring.

With the ruby in hand, I walked towards an old trunk I had uncovered a few days ago. Setting the jewel on an old cloth I placed on the vault. Patiently wrapping it around the gemstone, before opening the chest. Putting it in the chest, knowing it should be forgotten. My father had inadvertently bound our bloodline with this jewel. For better or worse, I would have to protect the strange jewel as well; even I didn’t want to. It seems I had inadvertently altered my destiny by repairing fate’s string. Wondering if this was something else I inherited from my father’s passing.


Critique: Full Word Count: 840

Another picture is worth almost another thousand words

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Ancient Shrine by Macro Gorlei

 

My long pilgrimage into the Archiani dessert comes to an end as the statue of the god Suirtop appears before me. The crumbling city of Archoi resting at its feet obscured by layers of sand. Bowing down unto the hot sand, whispering a quick prayer of protection before walking forward, leaving a trail of footsteps behind. My own sense of exhaustion and thirst starting to get to me with each step. Tightening the tightly wrapped damp cloth around my head before the intense heat of the twin suns could strengthen those feelings. In awe of the skill, the ancient craftsmen of Archoi had when they made this statue. Feeling the fixed protective gaze of Suirtop look down at me as I moved forward.

Pausing at the entrance of the city to whisper a silent prayer for those lost their lives when the desert decided to reclaim it. Uncertain of where to step from where I stood. Taking a deep breath before taking tentative steps into the ruins of Archoi. Surprised and relieved by the resilient sturdiness of the stone buildings. Taking more certain steps forward until the shadow of the Suirtop statue covered the buildings below. Sensing this was the place I would receive the guidance of Suirtop. Sitting down near the center of the roof, closing my eyes.  Slowing my breathing and heart down feeling my head to begin to clear. Listening for the voice of Suirtop to appear on the wind, hoping I had the strength of body and belief to hear it.

Feeling a soft breeze as the heat from twin suns began to dissipate. Hearing a subtle whisper being carried on the wind, that I couldn’t understand. Waiting with great determination for it to return more audible. The shamanistic tattoos inked into my body beginning to tingle enough to guide me out of my state of mediation.  Opening my eyes to see the glowing bright blue ethereal spirits of my ancestors floating above the sand. Recognizing the few that were closet to me as my grandfather, and father. Thier eyes transfixed on me, staring at me in light of the twin moons. Glancing up at them to see they were mirroring each other one moon waxing and one moon waning. This was a good sign that Suirtop would have the strength to speak to the pilgrims and shamans of my tribe. Taking a deep breath, I called the spirits of my ancestors toward me. Breathing in the wisdom and knowledge, they failed to pass on to their sons. Feeling stronger and warmer as the wind returned. Carrying a single mighty hum that began to encircle me. Bolstering the tingle from the shamanistic markings on my skin. Leaning back, I let the mixed sensations envelop my body.

Moments later, I saw Suirtop had appeared before me. Dressed in unordained garments that ran down to his feet. A dark glowing halo focused itself around his head. The mighty blade Irusk hung on the right side of his hip. Without moving his lips, he asked: “You have traveled far like your ancestors, Arco. What guidance can I offer the son of Arsoilo, from the line of Arsch?”

I responded “Almighty Suirtop, I decree unto you to grant me the wisdom to help lead my tribe to avoid the conflict that is sweeping over the land. Our warriors are ailing, with something that is a mystery to my people. Without brave and skilled warriors, I fear my people will be wiped out,” pleading and praying for divine aid in helping my people.

Suirtop commented “Arco there is much I could do to aid your people. Yet, without a channel to possess, I lack a proper form to do so,” pausing for a moment. Placing his hands on my shoulders, before continuing; “There is lost knowledge your ancestors once possessed that kept your people safe. While I cannot aid, this dangerous ancient knowledge may be able to save your people,” before moving his hands to the sides of my face. Staring down at me in silence, doing something I couldn’t understand. Forcing my body to shake rapidly for several long moments. “It is done, Arco,” before vanishing in front of me.  Taking the spirits of my ancestors with him.

Looking up to see twinkling stars had filled the sky. Aiding the moons in illuminating the dark desert sky. Slowly standing up, feeling rested, almost reborn. Feeling nothing more than a slight chill on my skin as I began to walk out of the ruins. More confident of the path that lay before me. Stepping down onto the soft desert sand that surrounded the ruins. Using the night sky as a map to lead me back home. Trying to avoid getting lost in the endless hills of sand.

The suns had risen and set three times before I found myself on the outskirts of my village. Seeing the tip of the Pioli mountain where my home was. Beginning to sprint forward eager to see my family. Still at lost for what the gift was Suirtop gave me, on my pilgrimage. Only hoping it would be enough to save my village from the outside world.

 

 

Another picture is worth another thousand words

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Sanctuary by Rashomike

Vines crept in through the broken window, dropping down like an organic rope.  The light from the sun revealing the broken floor and rotten crumbling. Nature had taken parts of this church back following the Gaea event. Yet there was an odd silence that hung in the air. Following the careful steps of my companion Milton down the rotten looking wooden stairs. Hearing the occasional creak as the three of us descended the staircase. Pausing as something rustled in the dark green brush near us. With quick glances at each other, we ran taking tactual positions in the area. Aiming our rifles at the bush, our hands shaking with a mixture of anticipation and fear. Watching the bush through the sight of our guns. Listening to something growl from the bush. Setting the barrel of my rifle on the banister staircase, before feeling around for something to toss at the bush. Managing to grab on to something that had a rough texture. Hurling the item at the bush, attempting to draw out what was hiding in the bush. Quickly putting my hand back on my rifle as the object flew through the air.  Watching a blur of movement as something caught the brick in mid-air.  Slowly the beast crawled forward, revealing long skinny dark green legs that pierced the floor. Milton glancing at Alex and myself before giving us a slight nod, the three of us know the danger of an Archanis. Within seconds all of three of us opened fire, breaking the sacred silence of the old church. Watching in horror as the Archanis continued to crawl forward, emitting a deep growl in the process.  Revealing the organic layer armor, the covered its body. The twisted face of both the human and the spider staring out at us layers of white eyes. A small gold chain with a small cross still hanging around its bent neck. Holding onto a remanent of its former life like it was still human. Launching its entire body forward into the rain of bullets, almost like it wanted to die. Continuing to fire my rifle until I saw the thing had stopped moving forward. Its body twitching and spurting out a thick dark fluid that could have been the thing’s blood. Staining the area around for a few seconds before turning the ground a soft green color.

Alex shouted “Masks now,” sliding the filtered gas mask around his mouth.

Quickly doing the same before the body could begin emitting lethal spores. Noticing Milton do the same seconds prior to the body releasing small lethal white spores into the air. Being careful moving around the corpse, we walked down the stairs. Pressing down on the plastic clip on flashlights, letting the light cast itself in front of us. Glancing around for anything else was hiding in the nearby foliage.

I shouted through the mask “Finding anything else that can kill us, or should we begin looking for supplies?”

Milton yelled back “Not yet, Jess. The supply cache I heard about is supposed to be in the far back of the church,” turning towards us. “I think the door should be around here somewhere, keep an eye out for it,” pivoting on his feet before resuming his walk.

Alex fell in behind him, leaving me to take up the rear. Walking backward slowly, scanning the plant life with the sights of my rifle.  The wind begins to pass through and down the open window some in the process.  Almost making me fire my weapon as the plants moved.

Milton shouted “Damn it the door is jammed. Alex help me try to force the door open, Jess watch our backs.”

Nodding I stopped walking, observing the plants.  Hearing Alex and Milton slamming themselves into the door. Listening attentively to something moving, trying my best to ignore the creak of the something being pushed back from behind me.  Continuing my watch for several minutes before I heard a series of loud bangs behind me. Pivoting quickly on my heels I saw they had opened the door. Forcing several boxes to collide with the ground in the process.  Pausing midstep once I heard a large monstrous growl, that sounded terrifyingly familiar.

I shouted “We should get moving if my gut feeling about what heard is correct,” reaching for something a little more explosive I packed for this trip into the ruins.  Feeling around before pulling out an old wine bottle filled with a mixture of alcohol and gasoline. “Grab anything light and salvageable you two,” peering around the room quickly for signs of movement.

The ground beginning to shake under my feet a few minutes later. Hearing Milton curse under his breath, as him and Alex shoved stuff into their backpacks. Sprinting to the staircase with all the energy I could muster, trying to find higher ground. Seeing out of my peripheral vision Alex and Milton quickly following my lead. The frequency and ferocity of the ground shaking rapidly increasing. Managing to drop large pockets of dust down from the ceiling that sparkled in the sunlight.

Milton taking control back by testing the strength of the knot and rope we used to get in here. Alex and I kept a tight watch on everything as the ground continued to shake. Noticing something was pounding hard on the large arched barricaded door at the back of the church, trying to force its way in. Lighting the Molotov cocktail with a matchbook, before tossing it hard at the door. Watching the door begin to burn as Alex climbed down the rope first. Milton followed behind him a few seconds later. The door being broken forcing large shards to fly through the air, as the monstrous Behomethes entered the room. Knowing I wouldn’t survive long even with the flames delaying that abomination, I reached for the rope. Tightening my grip before starting to descend down. Keeping my gaze straight ahead as a precaution incase the Behomethes tried to follow.

 

Well…..there is another idea

Do you ever write something, and think to yourself, where on Earth did this idea come from? It seems to be happening frequently to me, as I try to keep my creative juices flowing. Either that or I’m in a state of creative overflow. I guess it could always be worse.


In silence moved to the back of Restir, taking a seat at a small round table. Ignoring the disgusting smell of cigarette smoke, and piss that lingered in the air, as I observed. Enjoying the experimental jazz music that was playing through carefully hidden ceiling speakers. Disregarding the bar’s other customers, focusing my gaze on my target. Watching the strange man sip a black bubbling drink in a short clear glass, at the bar. Two other clear glasses rested upside down on his left side, the black drink still sticking on the sides in small spots. Hiding parts of his face under a wide-brimmed black cowboy hat. The raised red collar of a long black trench coat hid what remained. Knowing with certainty that he was armed with at least two handguns, several short knifes, and the Marsekoh blade I was after. I didn’t know why my client wanted it, but, considering how much he was paying me I didn’t care.

A short, narrow-waisted waitress approached me. Dressed in short eggshell white button-up dress, with a black and red belt around the waist. The dress fell from her shoulders enough to reveal the tufts of her breasts. Narrow blue eyes peered down at me through rose red glasses. With a flirtatious smile, she handed me a menu, before running her hand through her short dyed blue pixie haircut. She smiled before another customer called out for her, forcing her to walk away. If I wasn’t on the job, I would have considered flirting with her. Setting the menu aside, I resumed my observation.

After I saw him down his fourth drink, I got up. Lightly pushing people aside, as I approached the bar. Taking a seat next to my target, lifting my phaser without revealing it. As he watched the bar-bot make his fifth drink I made my escape plan. With a slight turn, I pushed down on the trigger. Releasing three short burst low energy plasma, intending to stun him. His body began to unsteadily shake as he fell to the ground. A surprised look on his face. Reaching down I quickly grabbed the Marseketi blade from the right side of his waist. Sprinting into the kitchen, almost colliding with one of the cooks. Pushing him aside, racing towards the back door. Running through the door, before jumping off the edge of the delivery dock. Feeling the exhilarating rush as the air pushed around my face. Letting the air expand the gliding flaps that were custom sewn into my coat. Slowing my fall some, allowing me to navigate through the resting traffic of flying cars. Being careful to avoid a collision and the seemingly endless array of surveillance cameras that littered the city. Hoping the Obscura tech was working, as I made my way to the bottom of this colossal metropolis.


As always comments, are welcome. Thanks for reading.

Random Musings #7.9

Previous entries: Random Musings #7, Random Musings #7.1, Random Musings #7.2, Random Musings #7.3, Random Musings #7.4, Random Musings #7.5, Random Musings #7.6, Random Musings #7.7, Random Musings #7.8


Raising my group after a quick breakfast, I sat down across from Martin, Beth, and two other members of Martin’s group. Max sat on my right, Beth on my left.

Martin said “The storm has passed Jack, which puts me in a perplexing situation. Without your groups’ assistance, last night would have had a severely bleaker outcome. For that everyone in my group is incredibly grateful. Yet I gave you a verbal contract about sheltering your group, and I have fulfilled it. Which makes it your priority to leave, completing your half of the agreement. However, after a late meeting with my advisors, I have a proposal to make on behalf of my group. While you will be told shortly what that is, I’m most curious to know your plan when you choose to leave.”

Glancing over at Beth, before switching my gaze to Max, for a brief moment. Looking at Martin, I asked, “How much have you heard about Quietus, through these barricaded walls?”

Martin responded “Much and yet very little simultaneously. I believe people exaggerate what they hear through whispers and white noise radio, the apocalypse just amplifies it. If the rumors are to be believed, this place is where humanity has taken its final stand. Some place where the snow is filled with snow, hope, and gunpowder. For a place seeking to preserve humanity, I’m curious to know why they reveal as little as possible about it. I imagine there is more to it than that, but that is what I believe.”

I said “Fair enough. That was where I was hoping to lead my group before you encountered us. I would prefer to continue the way there if we leave. ”

Martin said “Interesting Jack,” scratching his chin a little. “The proposal I offer extends to everyone in your group, but that will only be once. Out two groups merging, becoming a fellowship of sorts. Your group will have to work and defend this hospital like mine does. That being stated, Max and you would be given leadership positions, and spots on my council. Keeping things running smoothly, as everyone gets used to having more people around. I will give you two hours to think it over, among your group,” standing up. “Everyone in my group please follow me out. Send everyone from Jack’s group in for their private discussion,” walking out of the room. Followed quickly by the two members of his group that sat beside him.

Beth lingered behind, as my group slowly made their way inside the room. Making me wonder if she was going to follow us if we left. Trying to fill the parental role for Jet and Jillian.

Random Musings #7.8

Previous entries: Random Musings #7, Random Musings #7.1, Random Musings #7.2, Random Musings #7.3, Random Musings #7.4, Random Musings #7.5, Random Musings #7.6. Random Musings #7.7


Following the sound up the stairs, at a breakneck pace. Trying not to trip on our own feet in the process.  Wishing I had my gun on me as I pushed on the door leading to the roof. Seeing three of the predators were on the roof alive and to more dead. Taking turns to fire on them from the limited cover. Keeping them at a safe distance. The creatures didn’t seem to notice us, as they were bombarded with bullets and rain.

Somone I didn’t recognize, waved us over. Sprinting over the slippery rooftop, I made my way over. The others following quickly behind.  A large scoped rife was forced into my hands before the creatures were pointed at. Making the fire motion with his fingers, before resuming to fire. I didn’t recognize much about the rifle, but it looked military.

Relying on outdated military training I did my best to line up the weapon properly. Feeling around for the bolt release and trigger. Gripping the bolt release carefully, I pulled it back releasing a spent cartridge. Letting the bolt go forward by itself. Peering down the scope, keeping my eye a few inches away.  Taking careful aim, knowing the wind could move the bullets intended trajectory. Finding a decent shot at the creature on the left side of the roof. Holding my breath, I fired into the monster’s neck. A little right of where I aimed. The creature growled deep in pain, before boldly charging forward. Letting its dark green blood leak down its body in the process. Chambering another round, I readied myself to make another shot.  Before I could fire the creature slide forward, landing on its neck hard. Releasing a loud crack as the monster’s neck broke.

The other two monsters’ released a fierce-some high-pitched howl, as their wings sprouted out of their backs. I could tell if that meant they were fleeing or doing something else.

Before they could manage to do anything I quickly fired another round. Aiming for the wing in an attempt to keep them grounded. Either one escaping would be dangerous. The others seemed to follow my idea, as the one I hit starting falling back to the roof. Quickly chamber another round I did the same thing to the one still aloft. Releasing another howl, as it began slowly plummet. Laning with a thud, that kicked up a circle of water.

Without fully realizing it, I managed to fire four shots in rapid succession. Wounding them once more, before killing them with a second shot. Believing so anyway, since I had seen these things take a lot of bullets before being killed. There were vulnerable parts on beneath their armor like skin.It seemed biology failed in shielding any joints, and the wings from what I noticed. Maybe these things had different stages of their existence.

The rain continued to pound the roof as everyone returned inside. Drenched, tired, and yet reeking of gunpowder, fear, and adrenaline. The scent following us down the stairs. Hopefully not infecting the air, with its odorous mix. A disposal method would have to be agreed to if the storm ever lets up.

Finally, we enter the door to the third floor. Martin somehow managed to get ahead of everyone. Hobbling toward the center of the room, as if it was his personal stage. I had to admit the man was highly charismatic.

He waited for every member of both groups to be in the room before clearing his throat. “The storm brought the abominations to our door and we repelled them. Yet, we were not alone in this endeavor. With aid of strangers, we managed to push the creatures back, before eliminating them. Granting us a brief respite as the storm continues to rage on. If we need their help again, we may not have time to fetch their weapons. Which is why I will allow them to hold on to them, ” receiving a mix of cheers and boos after saying that. “Yet, at the same time, two of those strangers managed to bring two of our own back to us. Along with valuable medical supplies, from beyond the quarantined door. Now some of you may have your suspicions about them, but these people worked to no-longer be strangers but friends. I would suggest to everyone who can, rest up and clean your weapons after you get on some dry clothes. Everyone else, change into to some dry clothes and warm up before resuming your duties. This storm isn’t over yet, and we are still are high alert,” raising his pistol into the air. Shouting “We will endure,” receiving cheers from the room.

 

Random Musings #5.10

Previous entries: Random Musings #5, Random Musings #5.1, Random Musings #5.2, Random Musings #5.3, Random Musings #5.4, Random Musings #5.5, Random Musings #5.6, Random Musings, #5.7Random Musings #5.8, Random Musings #5.9


Two days had passed before Chronos and Minerva decided the fate of our prisoners. With the sun beginning to set both of them approached the captives. Genesis and Pierce on Minerva’s right, while Frigar and I were on Chronos’ left. Everyone else following behind however they wished.

Minerva commented “This is your final chance to share anything useful you know and still be granted mercy. Some of your brethren took up the first offer when it was offered originally. Thos that didn’t saw how generous we can be,” pausing a few minutes to test the loyalty of the remaining members of the Order of Holy Light.  Despite being bound, none of them shouted to take it. “Stubborn and loyal to the end I see. Under normal circumstances that would be commended, but these aren’t normal circumstances.  We will not grant you a trail like our forbearers, captured and tortured,” her voice in anger. “like monsters. By refusing our last offer of mercy, you will be killed as monsters deserve. Pierce, Genesis, Frigar, and Earolis you will be doing the execution. Be merciless but swift if can. How all of you choose to that is your choice,” surprising the others and myself as we glanced at each other.

Pierce was the first to step forward, extending sharp claws out of his fingers. Touching them against the steel bands on his shoulders. Forcing the claws to adapt the metal’s properties.  With a slight grin, he walked towards the first captive. Teasing the captured guard some before slicing his throat. Releasing a spray of blood onto his face.

Frigar and I walked forward together. Drawing several sharpened staffs, from the earth. Working in tandem to execute the nearest prisoners, knowing we were more than capable of killing them. Spearing the heads, or chest of the captives to give them what little mercy they deserved.  Out of the corner of my eye, spotting Genesis walking towards the captives last. His hands glowing with a mirage of colors before I lost sight of him. Dividing my focus on what everyone was doing. Trying to avoid giving into my own notions of vengeance.

I wasn’t sure how much time had passed before Chronos’ booming voice interrupted, “Enough,” stopping all of us with a single word. “Step back you four, the captives are more than dead. Now to just gather the bodies and dispose of them. Gibil will handle the disposal and help move the bodies. Once they are gathered we can a send a message to the order. Frigar and Earolis excavate a hole for them to dump the bodies in, as they do.”

I nodded before glancing at Frigar some. Trying to get an idea of what was going on in his head. He nodded some before taking a few steps away in silence. With little choice, I followed a few seconds behind. Knowing I would need his assistance to open a decent sized crater. Trying to make sure it was done without causing injury to the others if the placement was off.

Frigar stopped a few feet away from the others, glancing away from them. I stopped maybe six steps away. In silence he turned around, looking directly at me. Feeling the subtle wave of energy he was emitting. Relaxing some, I countered with a wave of my own. Letting them merge after a couple seconds. Increasing their power drastically as the earth below us started to give way. Shaping it with care for several minutes until a deep bowl was formed in the earth itself.

Stepping around the hole, I watched as the corpses were dragged here. Tapping my foot some as I waited. Glancing up at the stars in an attempt to distract myself, as my own exhaustion was beginning to catch up with me.

The moon took its rightful place as the last of the bodies were tossed into the hole. Gibil stood on the edge of the pile. His hands engulfed in flame, waiting for the order to be given. While the others took various spots around the hole.

Chronos shouted “The order things our resistance is an act of annoyance and futility. With the successful capture of this remote orphanage, we strike back. Even if we have to comment atrocities to survive, against the ones they send to kill us like they did our predecessors. Now on this historic night, we will give the oppressed hope. Tonight the resistance will give rebirth to the second age of heroes. Gibil please ignite the bodies and let the world know that the powers have returned,” as Gibil erupted the flames from his hands. Shooting them around the crater, lighting a beacon for a new age.

Staring into the flame, I began to wonder where the resistance would go from here? Would the world fight with us? Did the world still remember heroes were once real? How many of us would fall before the Order of the Holy Light was destroyed? Would history paint us as heroes like our forebeares, or as villians?


I think I’m leaving the ending as it is. While it may open-ended, it does allow for me to continue if I wish. Even adopting the premise into a small novella series, or graphic novel if the opportunity presents itself. Any comments on the entries overall are appreacited.