Caligation

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,
Zairron


Free preview of the first chapter of Caligationhttps://instafreebie.com/free/Kn3Is
Free anthology of short stories Out of the Darkness & Into the Nighthttps://www.instafreebie.com/free/IIDz6

WordPress: https://brhistokes.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brhistokes/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/brhisauthor
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brhi.stokes.author/

Imagine Monsters

Imagine if every story you’d ever been told about magic was true. The Fairies, beautiful and capricious, lay in wait with tricks and traps to steal what you didn’t realise you had. Monstrous people, like werewolves and skin-changers stalk the wild places of the world, driven by instinct and rage. Where magical people peddle prophecy and power from their tall secret towers and cottages concealed deep in the woods.
Imagine, how utterly unremarkable such a world would seem to the ordinary folk like you and me. For how would we ever know of the tithe of blood taken by immortal lords in the night with their hypnotic eyes and their seductive words, or that the innumerable hikers in the woods, or children lost for scarcely a moment, aren’t just lost, but taken. We would have no reason to suspect such a thing, for the world is a reasoned and sensible place, governed by laws and rules that we understand and sometimes control with the power of numbers and science.
To our long distant ancestors who lived in the times of monsters and mystery, our mathematical theorems and computational code, must seem completely indistinguishable from a witches spell, or a fairy’s glamour. But such beliefs are the realms of the uneducated and impressionable, in the modern day we are all far too clever and informed, to believe in such antiquated notions.

But if we did pretend, just for a moment, that the stories were true, we could see where they ancient mysteries have hidden themselves in the modern world.
We would notice and become wary of the timeless places that lure us from the path and entice us with their strange deals, and clever games. Quaint cafe’s and windowless stores that sit timelessly separate from the real world are the goblin markets of The Fair Folk who have long since learned the profit in modern commerce. You are safe as long as you pay for what you take, and agree only to terms you understand. But remember that seemingly innocent contracts and complimentary samples and upgrades will carry deliver unseen consequences beyond the ken of good folk.
The perceptive of us would see the secret works of sorcerers and soothsayers who have translated their gifts of prophecy and learning into the language of computers and the internet, peering beyond the sight of, and into the minds of, ordinary humans, they conceal their enchantments and spells behind the label of algorithms. There’s nothing a wizard longs for more than knowledge and secrets, so in exchange for offering you what you desire before you know you desire it, they gather your information in caches and metadata. Perhaps there is no harm in this, but heed the old stories’ warnings to be careful of the unkindness’s you send out into the world for it comes back thrice.
The concept of Old money has ties to creatures older than money to whom blood is thicker than all. Once they lorded over us on high from their gothic castles and lured maidens from their beds, and devils waited at the crossroads for their cut of your soul. Now corporate money and political influence can be leveraged to slake even the most refined thirst.
And far out in the wild places the monstrous werewolves, and predatory skin changers hide from the inexorable advance of civilisation and progress. They prefer the dark and primitive places, their rage growing stronger as they are pushed ever back by deforestation and strip mining. As we destroy their homes and hiding places, for now they are content to take their revenge on the isolated hikers, but the fury of nature has its limits.

Of course, such things are purely the work of an uneducated mind. But wouldn’t that be exactly what such magical predators would want us to think?

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.

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