NaNoWriMo Day 3



I’m having to guess at my word count today, since while writing my mouse run out of battery.

While I could have kept writing using my tab keys to navigate around, I was already a little stuck on how to introduce and define my magic system.

I am excited for the part of the story I’ve got coming up after, the magic stuff, a new character will show up, some bad stuff will occur and choices will be presented to characters. It’ll be great.

So for now, I’m writing this update on my phone and planning to buy more batteries tomorrow.

Hopefully your NaNo day didn’t have any bumps, and hopefully tomorrow goes even better!

– Zairron

NaNoWriMo Day 2


Goal: 3,334 Total, 1,864 Today
Achieved: 3,541 Total, 2,071

At the end of yesterday’s writing I stalled short of my daily goal of 1,667 when my story suddenly and unexpectedly offered me the perfect opportunity to feature a fairy tale. Unfortunately I had no fairy tales in me at the time, nor had I decided, in enough detail, the theme I wanted to take the story on to create one.
So I slept on it, and while sleeping, I came up with nothing. But with renewed energy and vigor I was able to throw something together, which gave me an idea for the actual fairy tale I ended up with. I’ve still got more ideas on how to tweak it in the future, but it’s NaNoWriMo so word count is king and revision comes later.
So by the end of the fairy tale I’d actually almost reached my goal for the day including the deficit from yesterday. At this stage my story has an introduction for the perspective character, a world-building story within the story, and the beginning of a scene to expand the perspective characters home. I have a vague idea I may introduce some of the shakeup in this scene, but that may also come later.

I’m certainly enjoying the experience a lot so far, I really like seeing all the enthusiasm and creativity coming from all the other people partaking in the experience as well. One particularly inspiring friend has already passed 12,000 words, putting her well on the way towards her goal. The story she’s writing will likely be her second novel, you can find out more about here, called Turning pages which should be the first in a series called The Arbiter.
I don’t know if I mentioned the name of my story, it is Morphogenesis, literally meaning “beginning of the shape”. Without giving too much away, I chose a scientific name for my fantasy novel because I’m want to be inspired by a lot of the philosophical and speculative ideas behind Science Fiction in a story with room for internally consistent magic, elves, and the fantastical. For that reason I like to think of my story as a Science Fantasy story.

If any of you are doing NaNoWriMo feel free to add me as a buddy or comment with your experiences, or even leave advice or ask for some,
Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron

NaNoWriMo (Day 1)

This blog marks the end of my first day of my first attempt at NaNoWriMo.
Daily Target: 1,667
Achieved: 1,470

This is my first serious attempt at writing a full length novel, a vague goal I’ve had for most of my life but never properly acted on. Inspired by a friend of mine and self published author Brhi Stokes, I decided to finally give it a serious go earlier this year.

I started out writing short stories on this blog so I didn’t go into it completely unprepared, and I’m really happy with what I’ve achieved here and plan to continue as long as it continues to bring me joy.

The story I have chosen to write is one that I’ve carried with me for many years now. The name I use on this blog, Zairron Plaguestrider, shares an origin with this story.
Back in high school, I used Zeron as my name while playing video games. When we moved to World of Warcraft, I found the name was taken so I altered it’s spelling and to Zairron.
Eventually we played some RPG video games which asked for a last name, since my character in that game was an elven necromancer Zairron became Zairron Plaguestrider.
My friend who hosted the LAN’s we played at got the idea to write a book, staring his character “Emperor Drienn”. I got excited by the idea and Zairron Plaguestrider, the Necromancer became my character in the story we played around with.

During this time period my favourite games were Neverwinter Nights, Dungeon Siege and Dota.
I loved books like the Inheritance Cycle, Artemis Fowl, and anything by Tamora Pierce.
I followed more webcomics than I can remember. One that stuck with me was Dominic Deegan: Oracle For Hire, for it’s character of Rilian Blight. It was the first sympathetic representation of a necromancer I’d encountered, and I loved it.
I wasn’t really into much TV or Movies, but I did enjoy anime. Particularly Naruto, I was a kid, don’t judge me. While far from my favourite character, I found Orochimaru strangely compelling. I could understand why he did the evil things he did, unlike most of the other villains, and I liked that.

That was all around a decade ago, in that time I’ve done a lot of things, consumed a lot of stories and learned a lot. I still don’t really consider myself a real adult, more like a technical adult.
I’ve gained a lot of experience in story telling running tabletop games and Vampire LARP’s for many years. At this point I have the time, energy, confidence and desire needed to start. Every story begins with a word, every journey begins with a single step.

During October I took a swing at plotting, and I confirmed for myself: I am not a plotter. But that’s okay, I still managed to gain some things from the attempt, primarily that I didn’t have a story, I had a backstory and a world for a story.
So during that outlining phase, I managed to tease out the seeds of an actual story, as well as some protagonists to drive it. I’m still lacking a vision for the conflict, as well as pretty much everything else. But it’s a start.

This morning I got up, had breakfast and spent a few hours writing the story for my blog which has been uploaded here. After that I took a break for lunch and to reset my  brain.

Now finally we make it to the point where my NaNo writing actually begins. And it was rough, the start of a story always is for me. Up until the moment I have to put something down on the page, the story is perfect. With limitless potential, anything can happen. The moment I lock one character, plot point, or even setting description in place, that potential is infinitely diminished.
It’s hard to do that, to destroy every story that it might have been in favour of just one. Not this one, because who knows how many times the story will change while writing and revising. But the feeling remains the same.

But it got easier as more words came out. It always does, the foundations provide structure to build on. Ephemeral concepts become real, and that’s kinda beautiful.

I didn’t quite make my daily goal, but that may have been largely due to time spent researching. The story as it stands so far, isn’t terrible. I don’t hate it. I’m cautious to criticise it yet, because most artists I know are overly critical of their own work and end up putting themselves of, so I may wait until I let someone else read it before I get harshly critical.
But for now, I’m enjoying it!

Hope your NaNo is going well if you’re doing it,
Future blogs won’t be half as long as this I think, but the backstory I think is nice.
– Zairron

Beyond the Trail

A story of one who has heard the voice of the ancient world. Within whom a seed of darkness grows and pulls them away from humanity. The product of a fragile human mind, or something of a more unknowable nature, that’s for you to decide.

If you like short storieshorror, cyberpunk, fantasy or fantasypunk, I have plenty of stories you might be interested in checking out.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron

The leaves rustle softly in the slight breeze of the morning. The suns glorious yellow rays drift luxuriously down onto the rainforest, but by some magic the distant atmosphere seems to cover the ground in a deep, ephemeral blue. All this beauty. For miles, only the other hikers share this tranquil experience.
With the gradual shift in temperature I can feel spreading through my muscles, warming me to my bones. The thin early morning fog that characterised the drive here has faded, altering the feel of the air. My blood already pumping from the exertion of the walk, I can feel the gentle radiating heat on my skin developing a sheen of sweat. Stopping to sip from my water, I take the moment to admire the strange quiet beauty of these Blue Mountains.
The valley below manages to seem small in the shadow of the mountains, but I know from experience that it covers many miles. Reaching as far as I can see in all directions the rainforest is a dark and mysterious expanse of nature beyond human comprehension. So many people have walked this same trail every day; tens, hundreds, even thousands during tourist seasons. Wisely most keep to the trails. For the most part common sense and guidance from officials of the park keeps people from straying from the paths, and beyond that is the deep instinctive understanding we all carry deep inside us of the primordial danger that exists in the wild places of the world. Still, some choose to ignore both the explicit and implicit warnings given to them and walk beyond the reach of civilisation. Perhaps these are people who honestly wish to die, perhaps they carry some vestigial trait held by our ancestors that compel them to scout beyond lands we control or perhaps some madness beckons to them, singing a sirens song from the deep places. Whatever reasoning drives us, I have never been able to completely deny that little voice that compels me.

I return my water pack and heft it back over my shoulders. Silent claws of anxious disquiet scratch inside me, bubbling up with an animalistic desire. The feeling is always there, but when I come here it is like a living thing has awoken and strains at its chains. Moving forward soothes it but when I stop it grows fierce.
This trail is more familiar to me than the lines of my own face, I have walked it more times than I have looked at my reflection, after all. I don’t remember how young I was when I was first brought here by my family. It was a family holiday with my parents and my brother, I don’t have strong memories of it, but something about it planted a seed in me that spent years waiting.
I came back for the first time when they died.
At my parents funeral, memories of that holiday came back to me for the first time in years. At first they were just passing memories, but as the days went by, executing their will, dealing with the well meaning attentions of family, I couldn’t stop thinking about the mountains. It was strange, of course, I’d never cared much for hiking, nor really thought of the mountains. In the end I decided to come, feeling it was perhaps my subconscious mind telling me to seek closure with a fond memory or something.
That first trip was just for a weekend. I took a bus, got a hotel, did the tourist thing and went home. For a time I thought that was enough, the feeling faded and I felt refreshed. I still grieved my parents, of course, but it was easier now. Like I’d laid them to rest somehow by following their memory.
But that wasn’t the end of it. The memories came back, this time with a deep gnawing hunger to them. I felt like I was starving. I didn’t recognise it at first, I thought I was depressed. Drugs and counselling didn’t help, other than to help me realise the source of my emptiness.
The second time I came for a whole week. I rented an airbnb, but hardly saw it. I felt more alive that week than I had ever remembered feeling. I walked the trails, and drank in the serenity. I filled myself with the energy of the place and was content.
When I went home I was hollow. Like someone had scraped away everything that had made me whole and left just a shell.

When I came back this time I brought a camper. I’ve been happy here. I don’t know what it is that drives people like me to come here, to seek out deep places beyond the reach and sight of civilisation. I know I am not the only one like this. I have seen others who walk the trails, I can recognise them by sight now. There is something in our eyes, or in the way that we walk, something I can’t quite define, but something quite real.
There is a woman, I don’t know her name, I’ve never spoken to her, we rarely talk to one another, we understand well enough without having to say anything. She was here before I came, I first saw her walking the trails on my second time. She’s further along than I am, her hunger is deeper and more visceral. I don’t always see her on the trails any more, I suspect she doesn’t stop and turn back when she reaches the deepest points of the trails, like I do, any more. She just keeps walking.
She always comes back eventually. I wonder what exactly she is looking for. What she is finding further in the forest than I am brave enough to go. I wonder if her hunger is sated. If one day she won’t come back. If one day my fear of leaving the trail won’t be greater than the hunger that urges me to keep going.
But I don’t wonder too much. These beautiful blue mountains are far too tranquil to loiter on such thoughts for long. For now, I enjoy the weight of my pack on my shoulders, the gentle sounds of nature, and the pleasant exertion the hike puts on my body.

For now I am happy, that is enough.

Rainbow (pt. 6)

Part six in the Rainbow series:

Rainbow (pt. 1)
Rainbow (pt. 2)
Rainbow (pt. 3)
Rainbow (pt. 4)
Rainbow (pt. 5)

How was it?

Alcatraz’s message appears in the corner of the tablet. The only social interaction Sonorous engaged in beyond Faith were the friendships she forged over online. The community of hackers convened in hidden corners of the network. These forums are invite only. Sonorous had received hers from Alcatraz after vandalising the online hangout of the slum gang the Miserable Club.
He, at least she assumed they were a guy, was one of her most trusted contacts within the community. Heavily involved in a number of forums, he had been invaluable to her for establishing a presence in the undercity. Among others he had given the suggestion to contact Faith as a teacher and the first person she’d told about the lesson.

Like nothing else

Lingering exhaustion broke her focus clouding her thoughts like cobwebs. The sentinel’s coding ordinarily would be a simple task now frustratingly difficult. The desire to procrastinate and chat the catalyst that drove her to stubbornly, but ineffectively push on. Attempting to remain focused on the goal of earning the money to return for her next lesson, she continues to discover her mind and eyes wandering towards those messages. Three days working over night behind her, logic told her she would need a week before she had both the money as well as the time to recover in time.
In the back room of Leon’s All Needs Boutique the warehouse is alive with all manner of mechanical creations, organised like the aftermath of a storm. Collections of Drones, Sentinels, Appliances and Computers rows deep. Any product someone in the city is willing to throw away can be found here. Most of the products in the back room are non-functional, or at least only operate for their designated owner. As permanent a fixture as the building itself, Leon rules his kingdom with an iron will. Having augmented his memory he is capable of perfectly tracking everything aspect of his store like it were an extension of his own body. Paid based on some internal logic only known to Leon while largely left to their own devices, as far as work in the slums can be the job is far from the worst.
Wall mounted security turrets monitor the workers. From the storefront Leon can be heard cajoling a customer into the purchase of something undoubtedly useless. Looking away from the screen for a moment, Sonorous rubs her weary eyes. Looking around her, her fellow workers are focused on their screens with a variety of levels of focus. She had worked with most of them for the entirety of her time here but many of them she didn’t even know their names. The kind of worker that Leon preferred were the desperate. One of the girls who’s name she knew, Nico Escobar, was addicted to Simulacrum. A second life simulation game, it projected the user into the world of the game. The scars beneath her eyes proof of unmoderated use. She could understand the appeal of the game for those who lived in the slums, at the same time it still disgusted her.

And Faith?

The alert sounds in her ear, drawing her attention back to the screen. The message from Alcatraz causing her to smile.

Very interesting woman

The diplomatic answer a small test for information about Alcatraz’ relationship with Faith. Only knowing each other through the network, like most hackers their lives in the physical world were taboo topics for conversation. The cat and mouse games, teasing out secrets with deduction and manipulation a favourite part of Sonorous’ online friendships.
Already confident that Alcatraz were a man, that he likely had augmentations of his own due to a syndicate relationship. She couldn’t be certain of any of her suspicions, relying on intuition until he lets slip something concrete. The thread that can allow her to unravel the mystery.

When are you visiting her next?

She smirks, he already holds so many more cards than her in the game. Finding her on the back of her search for a teacher, before they even spoken he had the advantage. Giving her Faith was just another clue for him. It’s possible he could have already found her, if he felt inclined. Perhaps they had already spoken in person, unbeknownst to her. As fun as the game could be, it could prove dangerous in the future. Netwalkers lived and died on anonymity after all.
Before she replies with something thoughtlessly, Sonorous takes a moment to assess. Straight from the network training into three straight days of work with hardly any sleep, she’s cognisant enough recognise the danger in continuing the conversation. The question was audacious, the best option is to shut it down before she makes a mistake.


The answer marked the end of that conversation, an yield in that exchange. The tension in her head and shoulders has begun to pass the limits of her endurance. Collecting in the nape of her neck, tugging continuously on her scar and showing the symptoms of her fatigue as a tremble in her hands.
Releasing a slow, measured breath she closes the program she’s working on. Packing away her belongings and returning her equipment she scans her subdermal identification chip, opening the door out onto the street. None of the other workers even look up as she goes.
Rolling her neck and shoulders, she steps into the artificial sunlight that simulates the early morning. The glare of the natural inspired lighting forces her to squint hatefully as the light aggravates the pain in her head. She’d gone too long without sleep, even with the aid of Punk Onyx she can’t go indefinitely. Usually a couple weeks were no problem, the dive must have had a more serious effect on her body than she’d anticipated.
Arriving at her capsule Sonorous ignoring the population of poor families, single business men and junkies, locks herself inside. The sounds of the world outside are immediately silenced, but rest remains just out of reach for hours of restless  weariness until the drug is finally passed from her system.

The Age of Magic

A nice happy story after my last one. A conceptual imagining of a world like our own where magic exists, but there is room for the same technological advances we had (albeit in an entirely different fashion to reality.)

If you like this story you can find more fantasy stuff here

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron

“How can you tell when it’s working?” the student’s question for the the master showing his ability to sense the limitations of the ability.

“You can’t,” his master replies with his dry disinterested drone, “without an observer the effects are entirely unknowable. Magic is a risk, when you cast the spell you roll the dice.”

Julian internalises his reaction to the answer, knowing that Master Jaxon would have no interest in further discussing something he considered decided. He returns to the concentration exercises set by his master while he privately considers  the shortcomings.
Seeking Master Jaxon’s tutelage had been a risk. In the past magic had been the most influential factor in world politics, the nobility sponsored at least one practitioner for appearances sake at the least. Users were treated with suspicion by the ordinary people, for the chaotic nature of magic could cause as much harm as good sometimes even in line with the intentions of the wielder. With the mystery that surrounded their powers their presence at the top of society was simply accepted. It was this privilege that Julian had sought, exchanging ordinary life for power. However change advances steadily in all things, technological advancements reduced the reliance for magic in daily life. Innovations in agricultural techniques and technology allowed the dense populations of cities to be sustained without the aid of witches’ weather magic. The scholastic monopoly of the church and magical lineages had been broken by private institutes that collected and distributed knowledge as their business. Even the very nature of the home had changed with the advent of roads and clean flowing water. While the raw power of magic in warfare and its miraculous capabilities when focused on a specific skill remained far beyond the reach of mundane people, the idea that the age of magic was coming to an end was growing in prominence.
The shortcomings of this spell further fuelled Julian’s concerns. He was learning how to apply the principle of magic as an change in natural energy to rendering a subject effectively invisible. By injecting magical energy into a system he could twist the motion of light to shift around a location. However two significant flaws limited the application of the principle. First when the vortex was created, if centred on the user they would be plunged into darkness. Since the light is prevented from touching him, his eyes are prevented from receiving any information from the world around them. Second if the vortex was imperfectly crafted, while still blinding him instead of being untouched by light the subject would simply appear as a chaotic knot in space. Once the spell was cast, the only way to tell if it was successful was to look at it. The intricacy and complexity involved in perfectly altering the passage of light to seamlessly replicate a straight line while curving was frustrating to Julian, to say the least.
After turning the visual information of the pebble in his hand into a headache inducing contortion for the umpteenth time, his frustration at last overwhelms his ability to focus. Failing to centre his breathing, the unexplainable sensation of grasping the power eluding him completely, he hurls the stone at the floor in anger receiving absolutely not reaction from his bored looking master.

“This is bullshit,” regretting the outburst as soon as it is voiced. Master Jaxon already leaving by the time the sentence is completed. Julian grits his teeth, cursing his metal weakness. His lessons ended the moment he removed himself from them, was Jaxon’s explanation. There would be no contact with his Master until the following day, regardless of whether he can regain his focus.
With most of the afternoon still available to him, Julian retrieved his pack from the base of the tree where he’d left it. Might as well find something useful to do with himself, trying to practice in this state would be simply a waste of time and energy. From the pack he pulled his coin purse; two gold medallions, twelve silver coins and a hand full of copper flakes to last the month. Not a sum to be sniffed at, but still an amount that would require careful consideration if it was to last comfortably. The biggest obstacle to using magic was stress, that’s why the greatest users were often seen as eccentric at best or more commonly dangerously unstable. Without an iron sense of purpose couple with relaxed indifference magic could be either unreachable or unstable. A user of his level was simply incapable of reaching for the power, a user with a more intrinsic sense of the power could still call it but without control. Those users were where the reputation for danger came from for magic.
Shouldering his pack, Julian made his way back along the path towards the city. It was a nice day, he should appreciate the mixed blessing his free time represented. He couldn’t properly afford to go drinking and besides it was too early in the afternoon. He didn’t have many friends in the city either, having come here entirely for an apprenticeship with a Master. There was little to do for fun in the city when you didn’t know anyone. Watching street performers or gambling held very little appeal to him. A meal enjoyed in the park the choice he settles on.

Watching the clouds roll by, Julian marvels at how differently the world seemed from when he was a boy. The stench of the city was almost unnoticeable, sanitation and hygiene for his grand-parents would have been like a fairy tale. Even in his short lifetime the change was noticeable. Perhaps this was the end of the age of magic, and if it was, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. With the serenity of that realisation he lifts a new stone in his hand, reaching out and gripping the power he casts it like a net over the stone and smiles as it seemingly vanishes from sight.
Magic would always have a place in the world. If the world didn’t need the power to find serenity, that doesn’t seem so bad.


Another Stranger Me

Well holy damn, this story was not at all what I set out to write. I wanted to write something relevant to the real world in a slightly dystopian future. This ended up being a lot more based in reality than my usual writing.
I usually avoid writing this far beyond my experiences, but I’m fairly happy with how this turned out so I’ll release it. I hope I’ve treated the characters with respect.
The title is a tribute to this completely unrelated song.
If sad stories are your dig, you can find more of mine here.

Hope you enjoy it,

The future is uncertain. The world is racing towards an age when our parents’ generation will no longer be able to recognise it. When I look back on things now, I marvel at how much things have changed over the course of my lifetime while at the same time, so much has remained the same.

I never knew my father until I was already old enough to remember meeting him. The memory is vague but the day he first came home is one I carry with me. I remember that mum was excited. I don’t think I properly understood why, but I knew that something was going on. It’s strange, my memory of that day is dark but my mum insisted it was a sunny day whenever I asked her about it.
We were in the lounge room, playing or something. The sound of the door opening sent my mother screaming and running to meet him. It was an exciting moment so I chased after her. There he was, in the hallway dressed in that uniform I would always think of as a part of him. I felt frightened to see a strange man in our home lifting my mother off her feet. Mum says I was shy at first but quickly took to him, I remember he was difficult to see in the darkness that exists only in my memory of the event. He knelt down to my eye level and held out his arms with a smile. I have the most vivid memory of his teeth, to this day I can picture how I saw them as a child, like the jaws of a monster.

He stayed with us for just a couple of months. I think he meant to stay longer but finding work was difficult for him, so in the end he reenlisted for active duty. A family costs money and my younger sister had been an unexpected result of their reunion. As an adult with kids of my own, I understand how he must have felt making that decision, but as a kid I never quite got it.
Growing up with my Dad away so often really altered my relationship with him. When I was younger I revered him, he was my hero. He fought bad guys so that I would be safe. As I got older I started to resent him for not being there for me. I never thought of it that way, but I had a lot of anger inside me towards him that I couldn’t put into words. Whenever he was home we fought a lot. He became more distant while I lashed out more every day.
When the hurricane came, he was away with work. The storm tore through the country and hit us before we could evacuate. No-one ever thought it would be strong enough to make it this far inland. There was a lot of damage, but compared to most we were fortunate. The military was mobilised to aid with the recover effort but my father wasn’t among them. For me, this was proof that he didn’t love us any more. I was a teenager, I knew that everyone was my enemy and the only tool I had for connecting with other people was violence.

People on the news argued about the increasing frequency and destructive power of storms like the one that hit my home, whether they were natural, human driven or punishment from heaven. They said that global war was just around the corner, with Russia, Asia or the middle-east. I didn’t care about that, why should I? No-one I knew was worried, it was just something that happened on the TV. I had my own issues to handle. Mostly I wanted just to get drunk, high and laid. In effect I spent a lot more time getting drunk, high and into fights.
They say with enough practice you can get good at anything. I had gotten good really at hurting people. I didn’t plan on going pro with it in any way, but it was my main source of entertainment and stress relief. I didn’t like coming home those days, mum was the only person I didn’t like hurting and at the same time the only one I couldn’t stop hurting. Knowing I disappointed or upset her hurt, and I was still way too immature to actually do anything to change. So instead I stayed out, couch surfed and got into even more fights to release the self-loathing that gave me.
It was a pretty shitty cycle.

I wonder now what I might have done if things had been different. Maybe I could have gotten over myself eventually and outgrown my self-destructive nature, I wish I’d had that chance.
We got the visit while I was out avoiding coming home. Mum was alone, already worried about me when the soldiers knocked at out door to tell her that dad was dead. They said it was a terrorist attack, they were wrong but they didn’t realise until later. Mum never really recovered from the news. She got sick and was taken to hospital. The one thing I don’t regret from that time was that I came and saw her before it was too late. We didn’t talk about me, or about dad. We didn’t talk about any of the problems, because they didn’t matter. I kept her company but I had no idea how to connect with her, so mostly we sat in silence. I think she appreciated the effort at least.

She didn’t last much longer. My parents death really shook me out of the selfish pit I’d dug for myself. I won’t lie and say I got my life on track right away, the road out of hell is treacherous and slippery, after all.
Joining the military seemed like my only option at the time, now it seems like it was some kind of symbolic reconciliation with my father. Whatever the reason, I hope you’ll learn from my mistakes my daughter. I can’t promise you any certainty for the future, except that I will always love you.



Hey guys,

This blog post is recommending the work of an author and friend of mine, Brhi Stokes. Her book, Caligation, is one of the big inspirations behind this blog. So if you enjoy my writing and are looking for more stuff to read I’ve got some links below directing you to where you can find her and I hope you check her out.

If you’re not interested, rest assured stories shall be continuing as normal. And you can check out my two most recent stories: Here and Here

Thanks for your time,

Free preview of the first chapter of Caligation
Free anthology of short stories Out of the Darkness & Into the Night



They roar their fury to the heavens. Hurled bottles explode in flame to whooping choruses of cheers from the mob. Standing firm against the onslaught of rage, black clad officers rally against the press of bodies. Plastic shields deflecting the bricks and bottle missiles. Tear gas, water guns and smoke grenades fire into the crowd, driving them back with efficient ruthlessness.
The people’s rage cannot be denied. Broken into smaller groups they strike at the line again and again. Shifting from a single overwhelmingly large crowd into innumerable smaller more mobile groups. They hover a safe distance from the line, an amorphous crowd of anger, arbitrarily forming into militant fists and charging.

The clash has continued for days, morale and fatigue cracks the military and police line. The makeshift masks have grown familiar. The line grows thinner every day as reinforcements simply do not return with each loss the furious crowd is bolstered, swelling in the face of continued resistance.
Within the parliament convenes to approve the use of harsher actions against the crowd. The order for live rounds is the straw that finally broke the camels back.
Fire upon your families, kill your friends without mercy! The soldiers are well trained and a great many obey. In the first wave of fire hundreds fall, a massacre. Screams of terror and rage fill the night. A country bleeds…

That night the country died. The line broke at last. Some soldiers refused to fire. Others succumbed to the last desperate retaliation of the grief-stricken civilians. Weapons changed hands as those who held the line were driven back. A clash of bodies becoming a fire fight.
By dawn politicians had been strung up, homes and business torn and burned down. The fires that tore through the streets in the wake of the devastation ate the city from the inside out. For a further month fury reigned but eventually even anger found its limit. The death throes of the city lasted another week as people struggled to survive.


“Grandpa, why did the they fight?”

“It’s hard to be sure my son, I was a boy even younger than you back then. My parents were lost in the collapse like everyone else. Likely it was due to greed. Such things so often are.”

“But, why?”

“It is human nature, to have what we need and want more. Greed will drive us to take and take until there is nothing left.”

“I don’t understand, Grandpa”

“Neither do I boy,” the old man nods sympathetically, placing a tough wrinkled hand on the boys shoulder, “Neither do I”

The light from the campfire flickered weakly from the makeshift brazer. They hadn’t eaten that day, and didn’t haven any guarantee they would eat tomorrow. So many years since the fall and the struggle to survive had only grown harder. The winters seemed longer, and colder. The summers seemed inhospitable and filled with malice. Nothing could grow beneath the paved soil of the city and it had been decades since relief had come. Perhaps the rest of the world had died that night too. Not even Grandpa knew, and with each night he grew quieter about the future.


The cherry glow of the cigarette illuminates the figure beneath the awning. The cold breeze bit even through his heavy coat and flecked him in the rains light caress. He was cold and stiff with discomfort, the culmination of the hours spent waiting in this one place had burrowed inwards with their claws to claim him. The early morning dim clung greedily to the city, the single street lamp barely casting a pinprick in the darkness. Though a pinprick was all the waiting man needed.
The rain relented at last, replaced with a pervasive shroud of mist which conveyed the same oppressive dampness as the rain, but without the clemency of cover. Taking his last drag, the figure grinds the embers of the cigarette into the damp stone beneath his heel. She had appeared at last.
From the house beneath the street lamp she came. She was immaculate. Her hair was tightly curled and dyed a deep but almost natural auburn shade. Even in the low light the brilliant red on her lips and nails stood out against her milky pale flesh. Her hourglass figure perfectly complimented by her practical but form fitting dress and the sharp click of her heels on the pavement conveyed that she was had no time to waste on you.
Having locked the door behind her the determined pace of her steeps rang loud in the silence of the morning. Through the haze the figure followed briskly in her wake. She led him to a cab rink. He followed her in a second car far across the city. For the money he had paid him, the cab driver said not a word. Finally they stopped. A mere span of yards from the river she alighted the cab with the grace only she could manage. Cutting through an alley on foot when he rounded the corner in pursuit she was waiting for him, pistol leveled at his chest.

“Why are you following me?” she demanded coldly. Her voice like moonlight and dancing. Despite that it held no sign of recognition, it felt good to him to hear it again. Hands raised in surrender, he showed her he was unarmed. For a moment he admired her beauty from beneath the wide brim of his hat and almost forgot how to speak.

“It’s been a long time Isabella,” he said, “This how you greet an old friend?”

Confusion became recognition and gave way to anger and fear. He took pleasure at her response. Testing her resolve he took a half a step forwards, but was driven back as her grip on the pistol shifted from casual to professional.
“Stay where you are Logan,” she commanded, “I don’t know how you’re still alive, but you’ve got the wrong idea coming after me.”

“You’ve got it all wrong, baby doll.” Logan crooned menacingly, a sadistic grin curled his lip, “I ain’t come for you at all. I’m looking for Mia. Where can I find her?”

The barest sliver of tension receded from Isabella’s posture, though she didn’t relax her grip on the pistol an inch. Face to face with a dead man, her survival instincts were pushed to their limits. Staring down those terrible pale blue eyes like shards of cracking ice. She directs her words down the barrel of her gun to him, “Last I heard she and Ethan had gone straight. Left the city and started over somewhere up north.”

Silent fury burned in his eyes at the revelation. She gripped the pistol tighter as her heart pounded like thunder in her chest. With slow and steady movements he drew and lit another smoke. With a deep breath he steadied himself, allowing her to relax again. “Where up north?”

“I don’t know, they kept it secret. Can’t escape if everyone knows where to find you. You knew her best,” she answers, there’s something to her words almost sad as she continues, “Logan, I… I never knew things would go as far they did. You have to believe me and I was so sorry when I’d heard you’d died. I comforted your damn Mother at your funeral.”

“I know you did Belle,” the man replied quietly, tenderly. For just a second her grip on the pistol falters, the barrel dipping just slightly. Like a coiled viper he dashes forward. The deafening crack of a gunshot echoed through the alley as he wrestled her to the ground. Blood ran down his arms and stained his fingers as they wrapped her neck with a grip like iron. Her eyes rolled back and her struggles weakened until they finally ceased. For a further minute he throttled her to be certain. Until at last, satisfied, he stood to leave. With a final look over his shoulder at her body he whispered,

“And I forgive you.”

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