New Home

We are taught to explain away the supernatural, what adult truly believes in ghosts any more? Of course, we also explain the unknown with stories of superstition. So which is it? Is a strange series of coincidences just that? Or might it be something else?

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


Stepping down from the moving truck, Bidelia stands on the curb looking proudly up at her new home. From the beginning; finding the listing online, walking through, applying and being approved for the loan, even when signing the papers, it had felt more like a dream. But now that feeling was beginning to fade. The solidness of keys she holds firmly in her hand, the movers carrying furniture and boxes inside, the reality of the moment is finally dawning on her. Feeling excitement bubbling up inside her chest, after so many years believing she’d never be able to afford to own her own home, she’s almost too scared to express her happiness, in case it all comes crashing down.
She wasn’t the first of her friends to own their own home, but they had all built there’s far out in the suburbs or the country, often with help from family and spouses. The market is prohibitive for first time buyers without taking on a lifetime of debt, that’s why she’d been so shocked to find this house listed at such a low price for it’s incredible, central location. From a young age she’d been careful with her money, squirrelling every spare dollar away towards her dream of owning her own place. No more sharing a bathroom, putting up with housemates dirty dishes, or having to ask permission before having people over, or a party, or anything. Chuckling to herself she gleefully wonders, if this is what it means to be an adult, why does it feel like such a childish joy?

“Miss?” one of the movers’ voice from just behind her, “We’re done moving everything inside, the big stuff is all in the rooms you wanted. Did you want our help setting up the furniture, or is that all you’re wanting?”

“No, thank you, I’ll manage it from here,” Bidelia smiles, after the first hour they charge by ten minute intervals, so keeping their time here short was preferable. As she pulled her wallet from her pocket to pay him, she notices one of the movers with a bloody rag wrapped around his forearm that hadn’t been there before. Directing the movers attention to the injured man she asks, “What happened to him? Did something happen inside?”

With a reassuring shrug, the mover answers, “Scrapped his arm up on the fridge, just took the top layer of skin off, didn’t even start to bleed until long after he got the bandage on. Nothing was damaged and there was no blood on anything of your things.”

Humming with suspicion, Bidelia leaves it as is, preferring to just let them leave and if there’s any damage she can complain later. Opening her wallet, she trades money for receipt absently while focusing on the injured man waiting by the truck, there is something off about him that she can’t quite determine.
Even as the senior mover thanks her and returns to his partner, their exchange just seems weird. They exchange a few words too quiet to hear before climbing up into the truck, she could have sworn the injured man had looked back at her, or possibly past her. He seemed frightened. It was unnerving, but likely nothing, so with a polite wave, she pushes the concerns to the back of her mind and tries to retrieve her previous feeling of triumph and excitement as she enters her new home for the first time since it was hers.

The inside hadn’t changed since the inspection, other than the inclusion of her furniture and worldly goods cluttering up the place, making it feel much smaller and less empty. By no means ugly, the house is generally quite plain. The cream white walls and dark brown floors leave it feeling like a blank canvas, something she can easily build on to feel more like hers. She’d been thinking about it a lot since the purchase had gone through, her mental image clear as crystal, she opens the box left by the front door and lifts out the artwork her best friend had painted for her birthday so many years ago. One of her most prized possessions since it had been made specially for her, she knew she wanted to make it the centrepiece of the entire house.
Taking the hammer and nails from the same box, she carries them and the painting to the lounge. Dragging and positioning the furniture to give the placement better context, she holds it up and visualising the complete room set up, she confirms the decision in her mind.
Placing the picture on the floor, she taps carefully a the wall, searching out the higher, solid tone of the stud. Finding it she carefully holds the nail to the wall, lining the hammer up to strike when suddenly a shiver runs along her spine disrupting her concentration. Suddenly feeling less secure and alone, she turns and looks around. As before the room is empty and silent except for her.
After a long pause, she turns back to the wall. Lining up the hammer and nail, the feeling of unease returns at a lower intensity. Bidelia deciding it must be apprehension at the thought of putting a hole in her new home, takes a calming breath and brings the hammer down on the nails head.

“Fuck!” she exclaims, dropping the nail and hammer and clutching her painfully throbbing thumb. She’d messed up with the hammer struck her thumb, blood painfully welling up beneath the nail. Whimpering in pain and fury, she can hardly believe she could have missed her strike. From her childhood she’d been helping her dad building and fixing things out in the shed, she couldn’t even remember the last time she’d missed the mark like this before.
Glaring up at the wall, the anxiety from before now passed, she reflects on her memory of the strike. With hindsight she was still confident in her strike, cursing and clutching her thumb, it was almost as if the wall itself had shifted at the last moment to force her to mess up. Recognising the absurdity of the thought she immediately buries it along with the tiny ember of worry, thinking to herself, Must have been distracted by that mover hurting themself, I’ll come back to it later… 

Hatred

This story is open to some interpretation. I’ve attempted to leave it open as to whether it is Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Psychological, with a couple possible endings.

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


Stepping determinedly over the patches of burning embers smoking at the front of the building, Konstantin approaches the ruined building, nudging the door unsteadily hanging on its broken hinges open revealing the building’s charred innards.
Within, the burnt out corpse of his childhood home awaits him. Kunigunde, he decides immediately, unwilling to consider any other possibility. It is silent but for the strained groans of the desiccated supports, no-one would interrupt his investigation until it was too late.

Entering cautiously, he is wary of the risk of imminent structural collapse but resolute in his need for answers. Blackened and charred, the walls have been weakened but unbroken by the fires touch. What remains can hardly be recognised for what it once was. The moment he passes the threshold he can feel the extreme fear and agony underpinned with pure malicious hatred that lingers.
His throat burns with every breath of the hot air, lingering smoke coils lazily within his nostrils and rests there. Hidden within the powerful smells, another is present. A too familiar mixture of scents tell a grotesque story. Like meat and fat burnt on charcoal, it is suffused with the sulphurous stench of burnt hair mingling with strange traces of coppery, metallic components, and sweet, musky perfumes. Unmistakable, the fire had trapped someone inside. He has no doubt that this had been the goal of the fire.
Idiot and Coward that he is, even Konstantin knows better than to ignore the torment that haunts this place.

Quickly surveying the debris he finds the two unrecognisable burnt bodies, a man and woman. Sascha and Lena, his assumption, the kind folk who had raised them. He didn’t cry for them, he had run out of tears long ago, but he ached, their suffering clear.
They had been protected, of course, but it had moved past times when such attempts might have worked. Placing his hand lightly on his chest as if to support the weight of the delicate chain hung from his neck, perhaps feeling his guilt added to its burden.
He prays they can forgive him for how he used them, Sascha and Lena were far from perfect, but he cannot believe they had deserved this. He whispers that tired mantra to himself again, “It is necessary.”

Drawing a small, clear glass bottle from his pocket, he removes the cap and covering the opening with his thumb, upends the bottle. Whispering a prayer he touches the cool water on his thumb to the foreheads of corpses, with the gentle offering the tormentous atmosphere gradually settles and fades, leaving only the distant hostility.
Rising slowly to his feet, brushing absently at the ashes on his knees, only succeeding in spreading them. Sweat mingles with the soot, creating a cloying layer of filth upon his exposed flesh. He hardly notices however, his focus fully on finding something he had hidden years earlier.
His focus suffers in the heat and smoke, sapping at his energy and leaving him dizzy. Closing his eyes, he conjures an image of his sisters to mind, remembering the last time they had been here together, the location of the lock comes eventually to him. Drained and invigorated simultaneously, he feels his guts twist and shock with cold, but continues to move towards the place they had hidden it.
Hidden inside the crawlspace, the doorway down to the secret place was locked by a special lock. Around his neck hung his copy of the key he shared with Maja’s, they had sworn never to open the door, but repeating his mantra again he placed the key in the lock, turning it is met with an audible click.
Raising his hands, palms face down, he whispers the words that open the second lock.

“It is necessary”

He feels the second click which carries no physical sound, accepting the key phrase. The secret place now opened for what should be the first time in years, his determination falters momentarily.
He battled with his choice in the final hour, before turning back would no longer be an option. They locked the door for a reason, his thoughts so obvious he may as well have spoken them aloud, Maja had understood the danger, she had convinced him to lock the door and  now it was her absence that had driven him to return. He could either trust in Maja and walk away, or press on and take responsibility. Deep down Konstantin is a coward, he had already broken his promise by opening the door and this is why, in the end, he came to join me in the darkness.

***

Within the secret place proper, the door slams closed behind him. I can feel his terror rise. A pure, animalistic panic overwhelms him as he struggles with the door, screaming and pounding on it with everything he has. For a moment I savour his reaction, I understand the futility of his struggles better than anyone, the door will not open.

“Welcome home brother,” he freezes, the touch of my voice almost having been forgotten, “I missed you.”

Filling with dread he turns back towards me, the fear he feels for me somehow even greater than of being trapped here forever. His relief palpable at the sight of my restraints.
Idly I wonder if he can feel my emotions as clearly as I can feel his. In him fear, uncertainty and guilt rule, but I am calm. Whether he understands or not, soon it will become clear.

“Where is Maja?”

“Not here, brother,” I answer, as soft and soothing as a snake.

“But you know.”

It wasn’t a question. If I could, I would have smiled, “How could I? I am trapped here, you and her made certain of that.”

“Don’t lie to me, Kunigunde.”

I remain silent, he knows I cannot lie to them, less deny them. Not restrained as I am. He still believes I started the fire. Even now, with me as I am, he fears me.

I hate him for that.

“How-”

“I didn’t.”

Poor fool. He knows I cannot lie, he knows I cannot leave, he knows I did both. I don’t care to follow at his pace, so I continue.

“Why did you and Maja lock me down here, brother?”

Confusion. He never needed to be smart, Maja liked him better that way.

“You were dangerous!” he exclaims, truly believing it, “The things you did to that boy…”

I remain silent as he pauses, expecting me to speak. He needs no further guidance.

“God, do you think it makes me happy to keep you here? What choice did we have? You were stronger than us, you did horrible things. When Maja told me what you’d done, I could hardly believe it.”

“Why did you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Why did you believe her and not me?”

He has no answer. He’d always feared what we could do, and feared me because I hadn’t. When Maja told him I was evil, he had been all too willing to believe her. Together they ambushed and trapped me here.
Hot rage fills me. Because he was too much of a coward to even face me, I had been trapped in this purgatory for years. I loathed him.
But we were together not. Brother and sister, trapped for eternity in the dark. He looks at me like I am insane, perhaps he can feel my emotions. My glee must seem like madnes to him, but he has never hated someone like I have. In time, I think he will.

 

Deep Woods and Dark Water

The second instalment of the ‘Short Scary Story – Halloween Horror Challenge’. Almost didn’t get this one done in time, been struggling to write these past few days. The experience pushing through the struggle is valuable however.

This story is about a primordial fear in a modern mind. The analysis of that fear from the victim, and the possibility of the truth being beyond what we consider to be possible in modern nights.

If you enjoy horror you can follow this challenge here.

Hope you enjoy it,
– Zairron


The burnt orange horizon of the tree line holds the romantic autumn spirit on its chilly late afternoon breeze. With my beautiful golden boy Captain by my side, I stroll happily through the park following the path through the woods. With the sun still in the sky the moon has risen to peek through the haunting glow of sunset. As the transition of day to night begins in earnest, the chorus of birds cries loud and bats spiral upwards like shadows across the moon. I’ve always loved the way that the colours of the evening, even more when framed with the vibrancy of autumn.
Captain bounds along beside me off the path, sniffing at leaves and trees, chasing squirrels and keeping an eye on every little thing while never losing sight of me. Runners pass me in both direction, their numbers increasing with the cool air before light fades. So many gorgeous sights and sounds accompany the season.
Wrapping my scarf tightly around my neck and face I bury my hands deeply into my pockets to keep away the cold. The fading light lets me know its time to leave. Calling out to Captain as he is investigating something at the edge of where I can see, he looks back at me and barks before continuing sniffing.
Frowning, I shout for him to come again being met with him determinedly ignoring my call. Vocalising my annoyance, I step off the path to fetch him. The moment he notices me approaching he bounds off deeper into the woods, stopping every few meters to look back to be sure I’m following. My first thought is just to leave and trust him to follow, but this strange behaviour has me curious for what he wants to show me so I follow.

Eventually he comes to a halt by a lake I’d never known was here. In fact by the undisturbed appearance, I’d even say that no-one knew it was here. Captain was sniffing curiously at the water’s edge, running up and down anxiously.
Moving up beside him I rest a calming palm on his back, he pushes against my legs without turning away from the still water. Something about the area makes me feel nervous and I keep a few feet from the edge as I look in. The sun has set almost completely now and only light from the moon peering through the branches casting dancing shadows on the water that undulate and writhe entrancingly.
My heart races in my chest as the hypnotising shadows dance on the unmoving surface of the lake, forming distantly familiar shapes. Long forgotten memories stir within me, their details still beyond recognition but the feelings of terror, sorrow and helpless anger resonate within me making me feel smaller than I had felt since being a child.
Captain whimpers. Pushing himself harder against my legs, his enthusiasm for exploration seemingly spent but now I can’t bring myself to look away despite his whines making me realise the complete isolation and silence of the area.

The shadows in the lake begin to grow in depth, the reflections of light vanishing under the true shadow of something large and physical rising up from beneath the surface. Captain barks loudly, and shoves me with his full weight causing me to stumble and shaking me from the paralysis I’d been trapped in.
A ripple forms on the surface of the unnaturally still lake. The simple sight I know without a shadow of a doubt the deadliest thing I had ever witnessed. My body ignited, flooded with adrenaline driving me as Captain and I run. Not daring to look back for even a second as the sound of something breaking the surface of the water behind us breaks the silence.
In the treacherous darkness I can hardly see the trees, without Captain faithfully guiding me I would have surely fallen and injured myself in our flight from the woods. The illumination of the path heartens me to run faster, bringing myself to the safety of the late evening joggers who guide me gibbering from the woods.

The police are called and they question me, thinking I had been assaulted or worse. In the company of other people, and explaining the experience out loud I’m forced to realise the silliness of my reaction. The officers offer me a lift home, no doubt thinking I was on drugs or something.
I decline, letting them instead walk me to the parking lot where I’m parked. The whole time the strange memory of the experience already like a distant half forgotten dream. As I pull out of the park with Captain in the back seat, I make it half way home before my hands start shaking and I’m forced to pull to the side of the road and sob uncontrollably.

I can’t explain what it was we found in that lake in the woods. I’ve spoken to a psychologist and she suggested it may have been a repressed memory of childhood trauma. I hope that is the case, and mostly I’ve managed to convince myself that that actually was the case. I haven’t gone back to the park since, and whenever Captain has strange moments I am brought back to that day and feel like whatever the creature beneath the surface has found us.
The world is a deep and ancient place. Legends of dark things in the deep places of the woods and under the water are some of the oldest in human history. I’m not saying I believe in those stories, but simply that I understand the feeling our ancestors must have known so much more intimately before we tamed the world with technology and numbers.

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,
-Zairron


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.

 

Sleep Paralysis

You wake in the midnight darkness of your room, adrenaline flush in your system from the terror of your nightmare riddled sleep. You struggle to open your eyes but the leaden veil of sleep lays oppressively heavy crushing the strength from your body leaving you empty. Unbidden the thought arises that you have been restrained or drugged, the image assaulting you with waves of frustration and panic. Inhaling as deeply as you can manage, fighting to maintain calm, the feeling of weight on your chest is preventing you from taking a complete breath. With each failed attempt to regain some sense of control in your own body you are left feeling more helpless, your eyes grow hot with tears which well up but even they lack the strength to flow.

It feels like you’re trapped in the prison made from your own body for hours, though in the silence and dark you have no sense of the passage of time. After the longest time you swear you feel a twitch in your fingers and you realise that at some point your eyes had managed to partially open without your noticing. Emboldened you struggle again without success before surrendering to the futility once more.
Beyond the door a nearly inaudible creak pierces your heart with an icy shard of terror. You imagine that there is someone in your home, here where you should be alone, as you are unable to move and utterly helpless. Another creak, closer this time, and louder. You fight with every fibre of your soul, pleading and crying within your own mind to the implacable indifference of your body. Betrayal, more painful for its source. Fear, discomfort and emptiness, define your being. Just beyond your door you feel the presence come to a pause, the subtle shift in the floorboards, in the air pressure, all the more obvious in the utter isolation of the night.

The door creaks, gently. So soft and subtle that it almost could be your imagination. From the corner of your barely opened eyes you can see it drifting open, the glacial momentum every bit as imperceptible as the sound. Surreal and dreamlike, if you can’t move your, you wish at least you could close your eyes again, or look away, anything to escape the indescribable horror you feel just out of sight. A single hot tear streams down the side of your face.
You watch the door as it creeps agonisingly open with steadily building anxiety growing in your chest, seeking to burst from your throat but unable to form a whisper, let alone a scream. A hint of movement stirs in the shadows that surround the door, almost completely open now, only the complete darkness prevents you from seeing it. The shadows undulate in rhythmic motions, growing steadily as they approach the foot of your bed.

A heavy imprint pushes down on the mattress. You feel the weight on your feet as it climbs with the same unrelentingly slowness that opened the door. A flicker of something in a sliver of moonlight that peaks through the window, what could have been a hand or a claw appears for only a second before being lost to the shadow once more. The weight had crested your legs, the all unthinkable nature of what is happening to you blurs the sensations into a storm of abject terror, culminating with the mass comes to rest upon your chest. You cannot breath, hyperventilation and the asphyxiation crush strangle you and you feel spots appear in your vision one by one blacking out even the faintest traces of light. In the last moment of fading vision you witness a face approaching you, the hideous grin and foul breath sparks with in you the will to battle one last time to throw off this paralysis. Screaming and thrashing in your mind, you feel a twitch in your fingers, heat flowing upwards from them enters your chest and shatters the spike impaling your heart and with a scream you tear yourself from the mattress and…

It is morning. Drenched in sweat and dizzy from your rapid breaths, you look around. The door to your room is closed, the light shins thinly through the cracks in your curtains and you are alone. The tears finally come and your sob bitterly in your bed.

Last Night (Update)

Hey guys, you might remember a couple nights ago I uploaded a post asking for some advice about something a bit weird that happened. Well a bit more has happened since then that I wanted to let you know about. My first post was written in a panic just as the phenomenon began again on the second night and I couldn’t think of anything else to do. That was a week ago now and I think I’ve learned a little bit more about the phenomenon which make it seem even stranger than it first seemed. I’m sorry it took me this long to update you all on this, I hope it will become clear as I explain why that is.

I’ll start with what happened immediately after the first upload. It’s just passed midnight on august the 27th and I’m at home with my housemates all asleep in their rooms when seemingly every dog in the area just starts going absolutely nuts, barking and howling like they’re fixing to kill someone. I’m paralysed by the memory of the fear I’d felt when I saw the figure in the dark on the street the previous night. I’ve convinced myself that its some kind of monster that because I’d seen it it was going to come and do something horrible. Too scared to leave my room and with no other ideas of what to do I just lay there silently in my bed, like a child hiding beneath the covers for safety, listening to the racket and just praying it’ll stop and whatever is causing it will just go away.
Eventually the howling stops. I’ve got no idea if that means that whatever was causing it is gone, or if this was part of it, or anything and despite all my fear I somehow manage to fall asleep.

The next morning I ask my housemates how they were affected by the nights noise, but claim not to have heard anything out of the usual. I know that this makes it sound maybe I’d just imagined the whole thing and trust me, by the light of day with the distance given by sleep, that’s exactly was what I thought as well. I figure I’ve just had a nightmare or something from eating junk food too late at night, so for the next few nights I decide to go to bed earlier and for that time I don’t hear the dogs once.
I wish that was the end of it, but last night my girlfriend stayed over and she’s even worse at getting to sleep early than I am. That night I get to sleep early just like the other nights but in the morning she tells me that she’d been kept up by dogs howling at midnight and she couldn’t believe I’d been able to sleep through it.

So that’s why I hadn’t posted anything for a little while, and why I finally updated you all now. My girlfriend went home today and I’m thinking of staying up to see if it happens again tonight and if it does… Well, I don’t know, I’d really appreciate any ideas or suggestions, if this is going to continue any night at midnight I’m not already asleep, its not really something I can just ignore.

Alike in Dignity

The air and everything that stood within a hundred yards of him ignited in flames. The oxygen was ripped from her lungs, killing her screams before she could make them. Collapsing to her knees, the flames parts before, the smoke and scorching heat banished from her around her leaving a bubble of reprieve in the centre of the sea of chaos. She coughs feebly from her section of the floor, her throat and lungs ache from the momentary heat that seemed likely to burn her alive, inside and out.
Stepping through the raging inferno, he joins her there, watching her struggle with a detached serenity. His body, indistinct in its corporeality flickers in conjunction with the waves of rippling heat, his eyes smoulder with the emberous seeming of cherry coals. The fire of his being fleeing as she crawls towards him, parting and revealing the man beneath as she reaches up to touch his leg. With unrelenting determination she uses him to drag herself back to her feet, the flames returning wherever she releases him until she stands tall before the humanoid column of flame, meeting his cool gaze with her own burning intensity, all the while the flames continue to dance harmlessly around them.

“You’re a bastard,” she whispers, gripping him by the collar that appears in the wake of the departed flames, pulling him in close. The flames billow away from her, only barely retaining their attachment to him as far from her as possible. His gaze continues to match her accusatory glare with a passive indifference, allowing her to hold him limply in place. His lack of response provokes a furious yell from her, shaking him fiercely in place, “You’re a bastard and a murderer! I can’t believe you! You coward! Say something!!”
She throws him back, the force of her shove driving him back sending him stumbling to a knee and catching himself with a hand against the floor. Paralysed by her own fury, she can only glare at him, her breathing erratic and tears streaming down her cheeks as he calmly stands and brushes himself off, the fire consuming him entirely once more.
“He would have hurt you,” the mans voice is as cold as his gaze, completely lacking in uncertainty or remorse.
“So what!?” she wails back at him, throwing herself completely into the action as if she hoped to injure him with the power of her voice, “He had a right to!”
In that exchange her body wilts, all the fury that had fuelled her spent. Weakness crept into her body and she crumples once more, her sorrow completely overtaking her, her voice growing hollow and distant, “It should have been me.”

He doesn’t move to contradict her or console her. He knows he cannot share her pain, though he wishes he could, that her emotions are a raging inferno which must be allowed to burn themselves out with time, so instead he waits and watches over her as she grieves.
He has known her since before she was born, he had loved her mother as he loves her now. She resembled her mother so perfectly, though her mind held more of her father. So strange and beautiful to him she was, he could see her soul and it shone so brightly, the all too familiar mote of living crimson that slumbered so sweetly, enshrouded deep within a shining white crystal lattice interconnected with gently pulsing neon blue veins that felt as alien to him as her core was familiar. Never could he have imagined her in all the thousands of years that his fire had burned, and for all his wisdom and experience, he could no more imagine what she would become than the men he had taken her from.

“Godfather,” her voice was so quiet as it broke through his thoughts that it may not have had any sound to it at all, but he heard her, he would always hear her.
He knelt to meet her at her level, his hands reaching out and resting upon hers where they held her knees to her chest, “Yes, Lia?”
“Will you take me away from here?” she asked.

“Of course”

Beyond the room emergency workers battled the inexplicable inferno, unable to understand the futility of the struggle. The researches had been evacuated, a number of them had to be dragged as they pleaded for the rescuers to save the young woman who’s room had been in the centre of the conflagration. It was impossible, they had said, the fire was too hot, anyone inside would be beyond saving, that trying would simply lead to more dead.
A man who shared the girl’s eyes stepped away from the crowd of survivors and emergency personnel. His mind raced with the calculating precision of a machine, considering every variable available to him to understand what had happened. He was the only one present who understood the fire, and he hated it with a deep intensity. It took less than a minute for him to understand what had gone wrong, He understood that there was nothing he could have done to prevent it, and less he could do now. He didn’t afford himself the seconds it would take to resent that knowledge, but filed it away for later. He pressed an icon on the interface of his watch and waiting for the report to be uploaded. Only then, when there remained no constructive action available to him, did he allow himself the feel the anger, sorrow and regret that was within him.

The Price of Small Things

Beneath the solemn gaze of the full moon, the custodian, Romero, deliberates from his cabin overlooking the San Julius Central Cemetery. Nursing his beloved double-barrelled shotgun, Persephone, in the crook of his arm, he ritualistically chambers the handcrafted slugs with care. His stare is intense, but distant, as he watches the mist creeping in over tall iron gates, seeming to discerning some hidden meaning from it.

“Fog’s coming in thick this evening, my love,” he croons, cigarette hanging loosely from his lip, its smoke drifting lazily from its cherry tip. Uncharacteristically young looking man was the the custodian and largely unknown by the townsfolk. The role of custodian would be considered by many to be one more suited to an older man with less prospects for the future. Little enough was offered in the way of compensation or prestige in the role, after all. If one had paid more attention, one might have realised that Romero had been caretaker here for more years than his youthful visage seemed to carry. But excluding funerals and the proclivities of morbid teenagers, the cemetery rarely has any visitors and rarer still do visitors cross the custodians path.

This misty evening was one such rare occasion as a strange pale man carrying a baseball bat saunters confidently through the mist, up the cemetery path to Romero’s vantage. Seemingly unnoticed in his approach the pale man comes to a halt at a respectful distance. Snapping Persephone back together, Romero turns to face The Pale Man. The pair take a moment to take the measure of one another before the caretaker’s posture shifts in an almost imperceptible acknowledgement to the seemingly apparent authority held by the visitor.

“Isaac send you?” Romero breaks the silence, there’s a hint of something strained in his voice, something akin to desperation or hope. The stranger just stares back at Romero and without acknowledging the question walks over to peer out across the graveyard.

“I need something from you,” the voice is smooth like iron wrapped in crumpled velvet, he stands with a predatory strength leaning comfortably on the bat.

“What could I have that you need?” Romero’s tone is guarded now, fear can be found in his body language but fear he can master should he need to. The silence that follows is long, weighted by some wordless exchange. Minutes pass before The Pale Man sighs, managing to carry violence and also a perverse lust somehow in the subtle motion. Lifting a small chain from his neck he reveals a small key, before turning back to face the cemetery, “Isaac said you would have it.”

Romero stares hard at the strangers back, a fierce conflict raging within him. The sound of cracking wood and guttural groans from below force him to decide, “Yeah I’ve got it, but I don’t have it here. If you want me to get it, you’ll need to handle the mess here while I go get it.”

“Of course,” the words pass The Pale Man’s lips with relish. With the sense of a man having entered a pact with the devil, Romero turns and runs down the path towards the road just as the mist completely enshrouds the cemetery. The custodian doesn’t dare look back, knowing his life is at stake and every second he takes may be the one that damns him. From behind him, the sounds of conflict just barely escape the mist telling the tale of a brutal massacre that reaches only to the cemetery limits. With reckless disregard for the laws of the road the custodian retrieves the lock-box concealed in his storage unit like the hounds of hell are on his trail, he races to make it back to the cemetery.

Hours pass and the mist is beginning to lift when Romero makes it back, his breathing ragged and his legs jelly from his flight. The Pale Man is waiting for him where he had been when Romero left, deep lacerations resembling bites on his exposed arms rapidly knit themselves back together. An outstretched hand greets Romero expectantly, receiving the box with determined purpose. Immediately The Pale Man removes the chain from his neck, the key sliding smoothly into the lock, clicking once as it is turned and releases the lid. Within, sits a single solitary fragment of ancient parchment inscribed in a long dead language. The pale man smiles widely, his sharp wolf-like canines prominent in the moonlight.

“Such a small thing, in the end” he muses solemnly.

“That’s right,” Romero replies, feeling the sense of danger beginning to grow deep in the primal part of his brain, “You’ll tell Isaac I kept it safe ’til he sent for it?”

“Hmm? Oh I’m sure you’ll see him long before I do,” the strangers tone is hypnotic, along with his gaze binds Romero frozen in terror and awe as The Pale Man saunters over to him, the box vanishing into a pocket. Raising one of his cold pale hands, the stranger gently strokes Romero’s cheek with the back of his fingers. Barely able to muster the strength of will to reply through the icy chill of death that has gripping his heart, the caretaker chokes out a response “What- what do you mean?”

“Isaac is already dead, sweetheart, but don’t worry, I shall send you to him now-”

*BOOM*

Persephone’s roar erupts in the night, the caretaker having managed to bring the shotgun up to The Pale Mans chest. The Pale Man glances down at the gaping hole in his chest, and back up at Romero. With a chiding click of his tongue, he lunges, fangs extended, burying them deep into the caretakers neck.
Years drain from the caretaker, his youth giving way first slowly at first, then all at once. Collapsing in a heap on the ground, Romero’s last gasps of life are spent watching as The Pale Man steps over him before disappearing into the night.

Last Night

I need advice, something strange happened yesterday that I don’t know what to do.

It was an ordinary Saturday evening, I live in a suburb fairly close to the city in a residential area which mixes old style houses with new apartment complexes in this trashy mixture of old and new. I’ve lived here for over a year now and I’d never noticed many dogs kept in the area. I assumed that for most of the places the owners didn’t allow pets.

I was the only one still up, my housemates were mostly around but I don’t always keep the most reasonable hours and the ones who weren’t out were all fast asleep by then. I enjoy the quiet isolation of the early, early morning. I find it’s nice for  listening to music, reading or getting some writing done. I was in my room, lit only by my computer screen and listening to atmospheric sci-fi instrumental music when suddenly this violent outpouring of dogs barking and howling broke through my headphones.
Like I said, it was weird, so I got up from what I was doing and looked out my window to see what might be causing the commotion. From where I was sitting, nothing seemed too out of the ordinary, so I put my headphones back in and tried to ignore it. I mean, it was odd, but not that odd. Dog’s bark, it happens.
So I’m getting some writing done, and I’m really liking what I’m working on, it’s a short little story about a kid home from college. I’m sure you could find it if you’re interested. When suddenly the howling goes silent. Just dead quiet.

I take another look out the window, and still nothing. This time I’m a little more invested in finding out what’s going on, so I decide to go take a look out the front door, since my window is on the side of the house and can’t see much except the neighbours house. It’s winter where I am, so I pull on a jacket and step out of my warm room into the cool, dark hallway.
I have to admit I was feeling a little spooked by this point, so maybe my judgement was a little impaired but I’m a firm realist so I try to ignore the strange vibe I’m getting. I make it to the front door and open it, the porch light left on like usual, and I notice that it’s not just the dogs that have gone quiet, but everything is deathly quiet. My gaze is immediately fixed on this guy walking along the street towards my house. I can’t make him out through the darkness, but something inside me just freaks out and I just slam the door, lock it and run back to my room.

This started last night at midnight. It’s just hit midnight here, and I can hear the dogs howling again. I’m scared, what should I do?

Childhood Memories

It’s overcast when the taxi drops me off outside my family home. The storm-clouds which had held off on raining for the entire day finally broke open and drench me in the time it takes to hurry up the path and take cover on the front porch. The outside light is left on, illuminating the late afternoon gloom and allowing me to see one of Mom’s trademark note, hanging on the front door. I shake my head, chuckling under my breath at the sight of it, already knowing what to expect. I deposit my suitcase by the entrance and take the note, quickly opening it and regarding its contents. It reads;
“Dear Kris,
Welcome home sweetie, sorry I couldn’t be here when you got in, work called. Left you dinner in the freezer and your room is all set up and ready for you.
Love, Mom”

I crumple up the note and put it in my pocked. Retrieving the spare key from its usual spot under one of Mom’s potted plants I let myself in, locking the door behind me. I head straight for my room to drop off my stuff, hitting every light switch along the way in the hope of making the place feel less empty. The only thought on my mind is getting out of these soaked clothes and into a warm shower.
The instant hot pressure of the shower is heavenly compared to the shitty dorm showers at college and in that moment I decide to stay in here forever. From my new steamy shower home I think about how good it feels to be back, my freshman year of college had been the first time I’d been away from home for any extended period of time and I’m happy to be back for the holidays. It’s lame that Mom had been called in to work and couldn’t meet me at the airport, but at the same time it was kind of nice to have the house to myself for a few hours.
In the end my hunger forces me out of the loving embrace of my shower home and I quickly dry myself and dress, heading downstairs to investigating the freezer dinner, I’d been promised. And as expected there’s another note from Mom attached by a magnet that I read as I the leftover lasagna reheats in the microwave,

“Was going through your kid stuff in the attic, if you wanted to go through some of the stuff and help me decide what to keep I’d appreciate it, Mom”

I’m a little surprised, ever since Mom and Dad split she hadn’t been particularly interested in going back to old memories. I mean, she wasn’t being unhealthy about it, she just preferred to keep her focus on moving forwards. I really respected that about her, I could never let anything go.
I figured I should probably do what I can to help out while I’m in town, so after washing my plate and leaving it to dry, I made my way up to the attic. Mom never let anything get too out of control around her house, and the attic was no exception. There was no layer of dust you might expect in storage, instead I could see the handiwork of Mom’s cleaning and two big boxes marked “Kristian’s Kid Stuff” had been separated from the rest and waited for me.

Opening the box I start going through plenty of nostalgic books, toys, clothes and more. It’s not long before I’m sitting there, surrounded by piles of stuff, completely having forgotten what I was there for. I’m flicking through what was once my favourite book when I notice a photo album at the bottom of the box. Putting aside the book for now, I pull the photo album out and open it on my lap.
I don’t think I had ever seen a photo album from when I was a kid before, neither Mom or Dad had ever spent much time taking photographs that I could remember, so this was certainly an interesting and unexpected find. The first page has pictures of my parents when they were younger holding a newborn baby I assume was me at the hospital. It’s nice seeing how they used to be happy together, I have fond memories of a birthday party when I was something like six when Mom and Dad first let me try to ride my bike without training wheels. The memory is hazy because I was so young, of course, but I can remember being super proud of myself when I managed to ride from Dad to Mom unaided on the road.
I flick forward through my early years, continuing to be surprised by just how many pictures there are, relative to how rarely I remember seeing a camera. My first day at pre-school, a trip to the zoo, five birthday parties and finally I find my first day of school. I don’t remember anything really from then, but somehow the pictures still bring a nostalgic smile to my face.
Next comes the pictures I’ve been looking for, my sixth birthday party. I’m surprised by how accurately I remember everything; the cake, the decorations, and even the type and size of the bike are exactly like I remember. There were some things that I don’t quite remember, like who this one beautiful couple were that showed up in number of the pictures. The final picture documenting the party is an absolutely stunningly beautiful picture taken from behind. In it I’m holding the hands of the beautiful couple and we’re walking away from the camera through a door I don’t quite recognise.

And that’s where the album finishes. I flick back and forwards through a few of the blank pages that followed expecting to see more, but the remaining pages are completely blank. I’m more than a little confused by this sudden and dramatic change, but there’s nothing I can do until Mom gets home so I can ask her about it.
I pack everything away, sorting the boxes into the important stuff and everything else. I keep the photo album with me, carrying it back downstairs under my arm. I’m still leafing absently through it when Mom gets home. I’m so engrossed in the album I don’t hear her come in and startle at the sound of her voice greeting me. We hug and talk, about college for me and how work was for her, when I turn the conversation towards the photo album.
Mom seems just as surprised as I was by the existence of the album, telling me she has no memory of it and that it must have been my fathers doing. We sit together in the lounge and go through the album. Mom is getting all sappy and maternal, telling me about how cute I was as a baby and filling in the blanks in my memories of the pictures. At last we make it to the pictures for my sixth birthday party and Mom suddenly starts crying uncontrollably. I ask her what’s wrong but she says she doesn’t know, and that she can’t explain why she’s suddenly so distraught. I close the album and comfort her, she quickly regains control now that the pictures are out of sight and apologises.

We decide to put the album aside for now and look at them again in the morning. Mom suggests we could call Dad and ask him about them, but I tell her I’ll wait for another time. It’s strange, I think to myself as I turn the light off for bed. The doorway in that last picture kind of looked more like my wardrobe than any of the other doors.

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