Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ring of Power Anthology

Ring of Power

It was a simple ring; nothing extraordinary. Just a plain band with tiny etchings around it, but it had caught her eye and drawn her in immediately.

She had stumbled into an area of the city that she was not familiar with; a dark and shadowy section of the city that seemed to have sinister eyes in its various corners; watching her as she walked hurriedly down the narrow streets.

A chill ran through her as the feeling that the watchful eyes were moving in closer fell upon her, so she had ducked into a little curio shop that, despite having strange odds and ends in its window, had a warm glowing light that seemed to be safer than that of the shadow-casting street lamps outside.

Inside was a clutter of knick-knacks and old curiosities that, although looked as though they were from a time long forgotten, had been cleaned and polished and cared for so that they could have been crafted recently.

Making her way through the maze of strangely carved furniture, statues, and other such items, she found a glass case near the back of the shop which held a variety jewellery set with various gems of all colours and shapes.

Her eyes scanned over the wonderfully shimmering pieces as they caught the light from the multiple crystal chandlers that hung from the shop’s low ceiling, each one casting a rainbow of colours upon her soft-skinned face.

And then, there it was. Amid all the fancy, elegant rings, broaches, and necklaces, a plain and simple, silver ring with its tiny black markings crisscrossing its surface.

A strange smile spread across her pink lips as she gazed down upon the ring. The others were glitzy and glamorous from a bygone age, but this simple, unassuming band seemed to be timeless. And it gave her the sense of warmth and comfort.

A rustling from the doorway leading to the shop’s back rooms startled her as she looked away from the ring to see a little old man coming out to her. He looked as though he too belonged to the shop; an old curiosity, a little stooped over but still in fine working condition.

His smile settled her startled heart and she smiled shyly back. He came to stand behind the jewellery cabinet and looked down at the rings with her. She looked back down at her ring and knew that she had to have it; it called out to her to possess it.

She pointed to it cautiously and the old man’s smile broadened as her cheeks went flush with embarrassment. He opened the case and gingerly took out the ring and laid it on the counter atop a small velvet cloth.
She put out her hand to take it and hesitated for a moment; warmth seemed to radiate from the ring and touch her finger tips with energy.

Slowly, her fingers made their way to touch its smooth surface. Thinking it would somehow be a hefty weight, she was surprised to find it a light as a feather in her palm.

Looking at it closely she could see the etchings are diamond shapes that seem to be endless pools of darkness; the far-reaching eternity of space within each etch.

Fumbling, she nearly dropped it as she slid it onto her middle finger. It fit perfectly.

Immediately, she was filled with a sense of energy; of power. All the fear and uncertainty that had filled her before she had entered the old shop washed away in the wearing of the ring.

She breathed in deeply and looked up at the old man who smiled and looked kindly into her shining blue eyes. She began to ask how much the ring would cost but he held up his hand and shook his head slightly.

Taking her by the hand on which she wore the ring, he kissed it gently and patted it kindly. She blushed once again as the old man nodded gentlemanly and led her back through the shop to the front door.

She opened the door and turned back to him as he waved goodbye and closed the door behind her. She walked slowly away turning back to see the old man still waving from the shop window as he turned the open sign over to indicate the shop was now closed.
She walked along the street, her hand held up in front of her as she regarded it with love and awe.

Even though the light of day had grown dimmer, she felt as though there was now nothing to be afraid of. Not here along the strange streets, not anywhere. Not now that she wore her lovely ring; her ring of power.

Ring Indeed

As she slept, the ring rested peacefully on her bedside table.

There had not been a day that had passed that she was without her little silver ring since she had found it in the curios shop. And there had not been a night when she had not slept soundly knowing that it was laying beside her; watching over her as she slept.

When she wore it upon her slender finger, she felt stronger, more secure, and confident. It was silly to think that the ring could endow her with some sort of magic power. But she still felt as though it was her little ring of power.

Going about her daily routine she would give it very little thought; yet, every so often during breaks in her activities, she would look down at the simple ring and smile.

In the morning, she would put it on even before going to the bathroom, and carefully put it into the little seashell dish she had purchased especially for it by the sink while she showered and did her make-up; donning it quickly again after she was done. And only taking it off again at night when she lay down to sleep; its tiny silver light protecting her in its reflective glow.

And so, it was, as she slept one night, a shadowy figure came creeping into her small apartment, uninvited.

There had been several break-ins in the building over the past few months, but no one had been home at the time. Unfortunately, this was not the case now.

As she slept peacefully, the shadowy figure moved noiselessly though out her darkened apartment. To get to at a stack of DVDs high up on a shelf, the thief pulled a chair from the dinning table across the hardwood floor.

The chair scraped loudly upon the floor's surface and at once she was awake in her bed; a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach.

She lay frozen for a moment and listened for further noise. She heard the shifting of items on her shelves that lined the living room walls. She sat up and automatically slipped on her ring. Her first thought was to call the police, but reaching for her phone she remembered it was out on the kitchen counter charging.

She would have to slip out there and grab it, unnoticed by whoever was out there ransacking her apartment.

Cautiously, quietly, she moved to her bedroom door and pulled it open as gently as she could. The noises of the intruder became louder without the closed door to muffle their movements.

She was afraid, but felt confident that she could quickly grab the phone from the counter in the kitchen and run back to her room before the thief even heard her.

She waited until it sounded like the thief was at the far end of the living room, then took a deep breath and dashed out of the hallway and around the corner to the narrow kitchen.
Knowing exactly where the phone sat, she grabbed for it and snatched it up quickly.

Having her cell in her hand she made to head back to her room. However, she had forgotten that the power cord was still attached to it.

The cord reached its end and snapped the phone out of her hand. It bounced off the tiled floor loudly and the shadowy figure quickly turned to see her standing surprised in the hall.

Before she had a chance to react, the intruder had made a dash for her, growling in anger at being disrupted so abruptly.

Not thinking, she held out her hands to shield herself from the attack and screamed. A flash of silver light erupted from her right hand and engulfed the darkness in light.

The light quickly faded and she opened her eyes; surprised that had been no attack. There was only her, alone in her moonlit apartment.

She turned the light switch beside her on and saw no one else was with her. She looked to see that the chain lock on her door had been cut and a few items were knocked off the shelves. But there was no intruder.

Looking down at her feet, there were the soldering remains of a black hoodie, black jeans, and a pair of black sneakers.

Her gaze moved from the smoking clothes to the silver ring on her middle finger of her right hand. She held up her hand and marvelled at how the simple ring seemed to glow warmly around her slender finger.

There was warmth radiating from the little ring; warmth that made her smile broadly; her ring of power indeed.

Ringless

She awoke upon the rocks at the bottom of the mountain that she herself had created, a scar blinding her left eye, and her ring of power gone.

The details of the battle that had transpired atop the mountain where veiled in a haze of pain, all she could remember was that he had taken her ring. IT had taken the cursed ring of power.

The ring that had shrouded her heart in malice was gone; the darkness that had crept into her heart had drained away.

What lay in her heart now was not darkness or revenge, but sadness and remorse. She had caused so much destruction. She had caused the world to war with itself; her and her selfish need for attention. And now she had given the demon the means to destroy the world, once and for all.

Her body broken and bleeding, she stumbled back through lands she had been the inspiration to turn into barren wastes; their old beauty torn apart by men's' lust to conquer for her.

Only remnants of civilization now remained, and she was now no different than any of the other poor retched that scrounged the scorched earth just to survive.

How could she have let this happen? She had only wanted to help with the powers the ring had allowed her. But the demon had twisted her dreams into nightmares, and she had let it.

Now it would fashion the world into its own vision of hell, enslaving the remaining humanity for its dark pleasure.

Huddled in a rock hovel, shivering in the cold of the constant rain, she vowed to make things right once again; vowed to rid the world of the demon that had plagued it for so long.

So, a patch over her scared eye and purpose in her heart, she set out across the world to gather up those she could, to band against the evil of the demon.

Though she was without her ring, the passion she had roused in those before remained; having been inside her all along. She found that she did not need the power of the ring to capture the hearts of those she met, but only her own inner strength to convince people to join her in her fight against the demon.

Seeing that they too were guilty in letting their hearts be taken over with darkness, the people of the world came together under one banner to revolt against the ancient evil.
Upon her steed, she galloped, the armies of the world behind her, crying out her return amidst the deafening thunder of hoofs as they charged upon the demon's mountain.

She would get back the world she had helped fall into darkness, and now, she would not use the power of the ring, only the power that had always been hers alone.

Ring Thief

She gritted her teeth in a begrudged smile as he offered his hand to her.

Her one good eye glared with apprehension and embarrassed fury, looking from the scoundrel's outstretched hand, to where her men sat around the flickering camp fire.

If any of them had so much as a smirk on their face, she would have slashed them in half with her blade; yet wisely, they all seemed to be very busy being preoccupied with the pretty maidens and handsome lads that filled the bandits' hideaway.

She looked back to their leader, whose hand was still awaiting hers; The King of Thieves asking her to dance. Ha!

His roguish smile matched the mischievous glint in his green eyes, as he looked down at her where she sat upon one of the felled logs they used for benches.

Raising her hand she started to reach out for his, but changed directions in mid-motion to run her fingers through her short-cropped, auburn hair.

Snapping her eye patch strap as an unconscious habit she had adopted when wary of a situation, she gave a snorting smirk and took his hand roughly, pulling herself up almost before he had a chance to back up.

The villain was quick on his feet however, and swooped gracefully into a deep bow at her acceptance to join him. She bowed slightly in return, keeping her azure blue eye on him.

They began to dance; him with a jovial spring in his step, while she countered his moves with the quick caginess of a jungle cat, stalking around a rival.

The minstrels' music roiled with their lutes, flutes, and drums, on which they fervently played as they twirled and spun around the flames of the fire that danced to its own licking rhythm.

Her men now watched blatant as she let the Thief King lift her into the air with a spin and bring her gracefully down again in one fluid motion.

As they dance and the music played on, she found herself lost in the moment. She felt herself as a young girl again, not the fierce and harden warrior she had become.

Feeling as light as air on her twirling feet, she even thought she heard herself laugh along with the handsome scoundrel whom continued to spin and toss her wildly as the music grew more frantic.

The camp scene spun round and round until she was not sure which way she faced and she made herself stop at once with sudden embarrassment.

Looking around the camp, the music no longer played, only the crackle of the fired could be heard, its pops a stark contrast to the silence that now hung in the night air.

Her men stirred from their log seats as if they had just woken from a deep slumber.

Only her men stirred.

The camp was empty, save them. The band of thieves and their king had vanished into the night.

With a snarl she snatched at the five bejeweled rings she kept hung around her neck on a chain at all times; her ancient and powerful treasures, for which she had quested all those many years ago; had sacrificed so much to find.

Gone.

Letting out a rage-filled roar, she drew her sword and barked at her men to mount their steeds as she ran to her own black war horse that stood lashed to a near by tree.

The stallion reared as she swung herself up with another guttural bellow. She turned to find her men already upon their horses facing her, awaiting her command.

"Find them, all of them. And destroy them! But leave the Thief King to me." She ordered in a dark, dangerous voice and they all galloped off with the speed of a pack of wolves setting out to hunt their prey.

As they all disappeared into the darkness just beyond the fire-lit tree line, she looked down at her left hand that gripped the reins. Still resting upon her finger, her most prized possession glowed fiercely with shared anger; the sixth and most powerful ring of power was hers still. With it she would find the others again.

And as for the King of Thieves, he would pay for his mistake of taking them from her.

She clenched her fist and the ring's massive gem stone seemed to radiate its glow outward, causing the camp fire to extinguish, letting the blackness of the night enshroud the scene; only the light of the ring and the intense blue of the warrior's eye gleaming in the darkness.



Sunday, March 19, 2017

Glitch

She runs desperately down the rain-soaked street; hover cars zooming passed in the dimming light of evening.

The magnetic field beneath each passing car pushes the water that covers the road with its force and causes waves of splashing water to further soak her as she continues running through the chilly autumn rain.

Yet the wet cold of the rain water being dowsed upon her seems not to faze her in her loping search among the rows of identical-looking, compact apartment building units that line the narrow streets; jumbled jigsaw blocks stacked upon each other in order to maximize the ever depleting space in the downtown city core.

All she can think of is the next mind-numbing stab of pain that is undoubtedly coming to pierce her brain like an icy blade in the front of her forehead. The cause of which, she runs in desperation to get to the source of.

As if merely anticipating the coming pain could manifest it, a shooting jolt of white heat sears through her brain and she staggers, almost falling to her knees as she cradles her head in order to balance herself against the wave of dizzying pain that has overcome her.

With a guttural grunt of pain, she steadies herself as the pain subsides again and she looks slowly up at the apartment unit looming in front of her. This must be where it was emanating from, though in her state of mind, she's not quite sure.

Lurching forward, she pushes her way passed an exiting resident of the building through the security entrance and makes her way to the lifts, patting across the concrete floor in her soaking and bare feet.

Reaching the lift door, she slaps the call button as another lightning bolt of pain shocks her mind and this time she does fall to her knees, clutching her head, and moaning in agony.

They were getting more intense, which could only mean she was in the right place. All she needed to do was find the right apartment unit; as long as her brain didn't scramble itself beforehand.

The lift bell dinged its arrival and she got to her feet to stumble in and stab at the fifth floor button. A guess at this point, but it felt like the right one.

Once the lift opened onto the fifth floor, she shambled out into the hallway and used the featureless concrete walls to guide herself along the corridor of numbered doors that no doubt led into tiny, cramped apartment units. In one of which, lived the person she was after.

A high pitched ringing started to grow in her ears as she made her way along the hallway until it was deafening with a pain that filled her entire mind with red, blotching colour.

With a heave, she slammed her shoulder against a door that had a bluish glow emanating from unearth it, and surprisingly, it gave way, even under her slight weight and frame.

Inside the unit, almost hidden amongst the clutter of shelves that lined the walls, filled with knick-knacks and porcelain figurines, a little, old lady sits in front of her computer screen which shows a bright blue screen with a warning pop-up across it.

The woman's glasses magnify her eyes into googly-eyes that fill the entirety of the glass frames, yet she still squints to read the words on the alert message.

The bare-footed girl stumbles haphazardly to where the old woman sits at her tiny wall desk and pushes the surprised senior aside to hit the control-alt-delete buttons and clear the computer screen's message, replacing it with the black reboot screen.

She sighs with relief as the pain in lifted and she stumbles back to lean against on of the trinket-filled shelves.

The elderly woman blinks as she tries to focus her eyes on the young woman in the soaking wet blouse and skirt, her hair dripping and clinging to her damp cheeks.

"Oh, Judy, dear." The old woman greets her with recognition. "I was trying to send you a letter on the computer and that darn message kept coming up again and I forgot what I was supposed to push."

"It's ok, Grandma," Judy replies breathlessly. "But I've told you, you have to reboot the system when it freezes, or it will send out that signal they installed in my Occ-Unit app. I wrote it down for you."

Judy moves over to the wall above the computer and taps the piece of paper that was tacked there, which read: CTRL-ALT-DEL.

"Oh, dear, I forgot." Judy's grandmother said apologetically. "Well, would you like to have a cup of tea? You looked soaked, is it still raining out there?"


Monday, January 2, 2017

Raine

It had been some time since the world moved on; all that remained of the great civilizations that had once been, were are ruins and desolation.

Those that have survived eke out a desperate existence, trying to live in dying world; trying to remain hidden from those that have come after. Half-human nightmares that hunt down the innocent for sport, terrorizing an already horrific wasteland in which there are worse things still, laying in wait; watching out from the darkness.

Yet, there are some who bravely fight against the murderous hordes and the rising darkness that have grown stronger with each passing year, while the remnants of the old world corrode away in the unforgiving winds that whip across the land.

Lone warriors that have found a new life after the catastrophes of the old, helping those in need as they roam the wastes; heroes some call them, though they only think of themselves as fulfilling a duty to protect the precious good left in the world against the evil that now fills it; defending the light against the dark.

Like the master-less knights of old, they are Ronin.

Or at least that's how she pictured herself, but for the most part, Raine just escorted groups of families through the more treacherous areas of old Tokyo as they made their way to the oasis on the other side of the Nagoya ruins. She was little more than a babysitter, making sure they didn't get lost in the maze of vestiges of what was once the great metropolis of Japan.

She knew all the paths to take, but what made her such a good escort through the old city was that she knew all the routes not to take. The best way to stay out of trouble was to avoid it completely.

It was a sound practice, even if it did make the jobs she took tediously dull, she thought as she leaned upon her bow staff, watching the line of travellers clumsily make their way over the rubble pile that blocked the way to the next clear street.

One of the travellers slipped on a cache of loose rocks as they walked passed Raine and without thought, she quickly grabbed them by the arm to keep them from tumbling down into those that were already making their way down the other side of the hill.

The noise of the falling rocks echoed between the hollowed-out buildings, Raine, however, heard a second echo, coming from beside them and to the east. She scanned the open windows above; all seemingly empty, until a slight movement caught her eye.

"Run!" she commanded as she spun around, swinging her bow staff over her head and down to her side, blasting two shots from its pulse-gun tip, both hitting their mark as the limp body of a Cybred sniper fell from their perch in one of the windows overlooking the plaza they had just crossed through.

Murderous shouts came from the neighbouring buildings as she saw more figures move quickly in the shadows of the open windows above; those dreadful voices that were a mixture of enraged humans and screeching mechanics which had come to mean death in the new wastelands.

Not hesitating to think of the horrors she had witnessed at the hands of the Cybreds, Raine spun her staff and shot its grappling hook-shot from the other tip. Catching the frame of one of the windows, she retracted the cable and flew through the air while drawing her blaster with her free hand.

Shooting two more of the gang members out of the building opposite of where she now repelled to, she was able to holster her weapon and tumble through the open window with a somersault into a full run to smash another surprised Cybred sniper in the face with a swing of her bow staff.

Not slowing down, she leapt out of the next window and onto the rubble-litter roof of the connecting building, where two more screaming Cybreds fell victim to her spinning bow attacks.

Another grappling shot to the building across the narrowing plaza and she was leaping away to meet the four gang members who were moving to pounce down upon the still fleeing travellers.

As she landed with another roll, Raine let fly two of her bandoleer knifes to hit the first two charging Cybreds dead center in each of their cybernetic eyes. Small electrical bolts fizzled over their heads as they fell to the ground, their fellow marauders leapt over their dead bodies to get at her.

Raine swung the grappling tip around and shot the pointed hook out and through the flesh and metal chest of the front runner as she ran toward the second and veered to the side with the cable strung between her and the Cybred that now stood looking down at the harpoon in their chest.

The cable caught the still charging Cybred in the neck and Raine pulled the razor sharp wire tight, slicing their grotesquely enhanced head clean off their diseased body.

Retracting the hook with a button click on the side of the staff, the already dead Cybred fell to the ground and she turned to look down to see that a couple of the Cybreds had gotten to ground level and were screaming toward the terrified caravan like rabid wolves.

Quickly judging the distance between the building she now stood on top of and the one beside it, she ran toward the edge of the roof and engaged the thrusters in her boots to give her the extra boost she needed to reach the side of the other building.

Hitting the crumbling wall, Raine quickly rebounded and hit the thrusters again to make the leap back down to the wall of the building she had just left.

Making a few jumps back and forth, she made her way down the sides of the building to land with the last of the thrusters' fuel to soften the impact into a dead run towards her caravan, trying to head off the attackers before they reached them.

The one closest to her she managed to pick off with her blaster, but the other was nearly upon the straggling traveller that had almost fallen down the hill only a few minutes ago.

The Cybred marauder was aiming their rifle as they ran and Raine dove to tackle the stumbling caravanner.

Luckily the Cybred's targeting implants must have been deteriorating because its shot went wide of their heads, but Raine felt the searing pain of the laser blast hitting her hand as she went down, covering the screaming traveller as they both rolled across the gravelly ground.

With blurring speed, Raine was back up on her feet and had drawn her katana as the Cybred fell upon her. With a deft up-sweep she caught the cybernetic monster in the chest, and then decapitated them with the down-stroke.

Both the body and head tumbled forward and careened to the ground as Raine stood still in her stance, sword blade dripping with black, oily blood.

The caravan of travellers had stopped their frantic escape and was now looking at their guide as she caught her breath and checked for anymore threats.

When no more came, Raine bent down to help the fallen traveller up, and as she held out her hand, the traveller recoiled in horror at the blast mark on Raine's out-stretched hand.

For, instead of cauterized flesh and blood that should have been there, the exposed robotics of her cybernetic mandible could be seen through the hole in her glove.

"You're one of them!" The shocked traveller screeched as they rolled away from her and scrambled up to join the others. "She's a Cybred!"

"I am NOT..." Raine started to protest against being called one of those filth, but the rest of the caravan started to scream and run away from her as she stepped toward them, bloody sword still drawn.

"She led us here to be slaughtered and used for parts by those monsters!" The feeling traveller shouted. "Run! Get away from us, you animal!"

Raine started after them, but stopped after a step with a sigh; what's the use, she thought, they've been hunted too long, they wouldn't believe her if she told them her robotics were from before the world had moved on; that they had always been apart of her.

So she let them run, they had paid half up front and since they had only come half of the way, it wasn't a total loss.

Bending down to wipe her sword off on the tattered pants of the dead Cybred on the ground; she looked at its mangled body, a horrific mix of rotting flesh and corroded metal. She then looked at her own hand; the exposed metal wasn't even marked from the blast, it glistened in the noon sun.

Soon the bio-flesh would begin to heal itself over the wound and it would be good as new, not even a scar.

No, Raine was nothing like those creatures that had come after, she thought as she sheathed the sword upon her back, picked her bow staff off the dusty ground and began walking in the direction the travellers had run off in.

They were stupid and afraid, but she had still given her word that she would see them through the city safely, even if she had to do so from the shadows.

In truth, she wasn't like anyone; a prototype from a dead past, a relic in a dying future. A Ronin.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Shadow Dive

Looking down as he stood waiting for his bus to arrive, Alan regarded his shadow, cast on the ground in front of him.

The morning sun at his back shone down all around the concrete of the sidewalk at his feet, except for the dark void of the area blocked by his body.

He knew it was because the dense material that made up his solid form did not allow the wave lengths of light coming across the expanse of space from the yellow Sun to pass through to the surface of Earth's crust he now stood upon. That was the science of it.

Yet, he could not help but wonder if the shadow on the ground was merely a dark doorway to another side; another dimension that radiated with the dark light of a black sun its own.

Where, perhaps, a shadow version of himself was looking down at the patch of light that stretched out on the ground before them. Wondering, as Alan did, if it were possible to simply drop through one's own shadow and arrive on the other side; on the opposite side of light.

Craning his neck down further, without actually bending over, as to preserve his shadow's integrity, Alan looked closer at the silhouette on the ground.

Could he... could he see into the shadow?

Or was his imagination getting the better of him?

For a moment he thought he was just tired from the events of the passed weekend, but then he could have sworn he caught a twinkle of movement within the darkness.

Like looking into a dark pool of water, he could almost make out shapes in the inky depths within.

Unconsciously, he leaned down even closer until he was almost doubled over, staring deeply into the mysteries of his own shadow. Yes, he could do it; if he just fell through he would be in another worl...

Alan came to as a crowd of people looked down at him, their distant voices becoming clearer as he came back to consciousness.

Lying on his back his focus narrowed on the woman leaning down closer to him than the others in the circle.

"Hey, are you alright?" she asked Alan in a practiced voice that said she was used to this line of questioning. "I'm a nurse; can you tell me your name? Do you know where you are?"

After a moment of trying to form his thoughts clearly enough to get out of his mouth, he responded slowly, "What, what happened? Am I through?"

The question made the woman as well as the crowd look even more concerned.

"Through where?" The nurse asked. "You just fell over and hit your head on the sidewalk pretty hard. Maybe harder than it looked..."

Alan looked up passed the crowd to the sky above and saw the bright, yellow sun still on its morning ascension.

"Well, that answers that question." He said to himself aloud as he let them help him up.

As their bus pulled up and they filed on, the group of bystanders made sure to keep well away from the strange man they had just watched seemingly try to do a head first dive into the pavement.

This city is getting weirder everyday.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Mother's Helper

The young girl pulled her wagon behind her as she walked with purpose down the sidewalk toward the little grocery store that was only a few blocks from their house.

Jostling and clattering along the concrete, the little red wagon was empty save for its lone passenger; her stuffed teddy bear, Sam.

Sam the bear bounced haphazardly as she continued on her journey to the store with the determination of a child set on a mission.

Unnoticed by the girl, passersby smiled to each other at the adorable child with her stuffed animal and toy wagon on her errand.

Arriving at the quaint food market, the little girl entered and went unseen by the busy cashier as her head barely peaked over the edge of the partition that separated the entrance and exit doors.

Taking out her list from the front pocket of her overalls, written out in coloured pencils, the child went up and down the aisles gathering the grocery items printed with careful penmanship on the lined paper.

Once Sam the bear was crowded with apples, crackers, milk, cereal, and an odd amount of meats from the butcher's counter, she trundled her wagon up to the check out and began arduously lifting each item up onto the conveyer belt.

The teenaged cashier had to peer over the counter to see where the groceries were appearing from, and smiled a little unsure at the small girl unloading her wagon-full of food stuffs to be scanned.

The little girl looked up from her task and smiled brightly back at the wary grocer.

"My mom's not feeling very good, so she sent me to pick up some things while she rests in bed." She offered matter-of-factly.

"Oh, I see." The cashier responded, a tad dumbfounded, but began scanning through the assortment of items as they moved along the conveyer.

The total came up on the display screen and before the teen could ask how she was going to pay, the little girl dutifully held up a fan of bills to cover the cost.

After making change and bagging the groceries, the cashier helped load the wagon back up; being careful not to squish Sam the bear in the process.

The little girl thanked them and tugged on the wagon handle roughly to start off on her way out to the exit and back outside.

Making her way back home, the girl trudged a bit heavier-footed with the now full wagon, but with the same steadfast determination she had had at the start of her journey.

Reaching the big house with the wrap-around porch her mother and her called home, the girl turned up the walkway and stopped the wagon at the foot of the wooden porch steps, letting it bang against them to a halt.

Leaving Sam alone in the wagon, she slowly lugged each plastic bag full of food up the stairs and brought them all into the foyer of the old, yet well-maintained house before beginning to unpack them and put each item into their place, either in the cupboards or refrigerator.

As she put the last of the groceries away and was bunching up the plastic bags into the bag holder under the sink, a noise from the floor above made her look suddenly upwards with a worried look upon her youthful face.

A noise like someone moving across the wooden floor in the room directly above; her mother's bedroom.

With a heavy sigh, the now weary little girl went back to the fridge to pull out a package of bloody hunks of meat she had purchased from the store.

Slopping the red meat chunks into a clean bowl, she carried it out to the hall and up the creaking stairs that led to the second floor.

The noises grew louder as she neared the closed door of her mother's room at the front of the house, along the narrow upstairs hallway.

Sounds of someone moving cumbersomely mixed in with a strange metallic noise came from behind the door as she put her hand on the knob. As she turned the antique crystal doorknob, the noises cut off abruptly and the door opened upon creaking hinges into the dark of the room.

The opening door let the sunlight in from the well-lit hallway windows; a slowly widening wedge that revealed a heavily scuffed and scratched hardwood floor. Marks made by heavy metal chains and sharp animal-like claws.

Standing silhouetted, the girl's figure was tiny and small in the doorframe.

"Mommy?" She spoke barely above a whisper. "I brought you dinner. Are you feeling any better?"

She held out the bowl of meat and cautiously peered into the still dim corner of the dark bedroom. The smell of rotten meat filled the room and the girl tried not to gag as she took a timid step forward.

Movement in the shadows at the far side of the room stopped her advance and she bent down, never taking her eyes off the darkened area where something waited, watching in the shadows.

Placing the bowl on the floor and slowly pushing it along the marred wood, the little girl tried to move it as far into the room as possible without actually moving closer herself.

Instantaneously, an inhuman screech came from the shadows and a hideous figure lunged out with skeletal arms and razor-like fingers that no longer resembled human hands, but a creature's claws.

The monstrous creature was a twisted nightmare of how her beautiful mother had once looked. Her skin, grey and almost translucent; her once lush, dark brown hair had all but fallen out, leaving only patches of thin wisps on her otherwise bald head.

Gaunt and wiry, her soiled clothes hung off of her in rags; ripped and torn with slashes upon her skin showing underneath. Slashes and cuts that were self-inflicted as though she had been trying to ripped her own skin off.

Yet it was her eyes that held the most terror for the young girl. They had always been a bright emerald green, but now they were a solid black that seemed to seethe with hatred and rage toward her from the darkness of her maddened mind.

Jumping back outside the door, the little girl narrowly missed being snatched by the monster who had been her mother before the chain around its neck ended and stopped the thing in its tracks.

Swiping and gnashing its sharpen teeth at the girl, the creature continued to struggle against its chain shackles, wildly trying to attack its only daughter.

"You eat your dinner, mommy." The little girl stammered, "Eat it and maybe you'll get better soon, okay?"

Snarling madly, her mother knocked over the bowl with her stamping feet and she noticed the bloody meat for the first time as it spilled out over the floor.

Ravenously, she attacked the chunks little a starved animal, as her daughter watched on with tears welling up in her own green eyes.


"Please get better, mommy. I love you." She said as she closed the door upon the monster as the noises of it eating grotesquely in the dark masked the crying sounds from the little girl as she slumped to the ground on the other side.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Butterfly Sanctuary

Sitting quietly amongst the flowers that filled the air with their peasant aromas, she allowed herself a moment to relax; a small repose from the usual turmoil that had filled her life as of late.

Taking in all of the exotic plant life hidden away in the forest garden she had stumbled upon, she felt a smile spread across her face that lightened her pretty features, which had been darkened with grief and worry as of late.

She watched as fat bumble bees lumbered from fragrant flower to fragrant flower, filling the sunny garden with a happy buzz.

A fluttering movement above made her look up to see a multi-coloured butterfly come floating down from the clearing that opened up into the clear blue sky.

The beautifully delicate creature flitted down to where she sat upon the smoothed stump bench, situated in the middle of the soft, green grass of the garden lawn. It descended until it finally came to touch gently down on her shoulder. She marvelled at the intricate patterns covering its wings.

Before she could study the butterfly that had just landed with more scrutiny, another fluttered down from above and she watched it pass in front of her face to come to a rest upon the sleeve of her blouse.

Almost immediately, another appeared above her head and as she looked up again, she saw the air filled with a kaleidoscope of colours from the multitude of butterflies that now swirled quietly around her.

Her smile widened and she let out a delighted giggle as she held out her arms for more of the lovely creatures to perch upon. Curiously, the landed insects did not stop flapping their tiny wings but continued beating them rhythmically.

More and more of the butterflies began to land all over her paisley blouse, their delicate-looking legs clipping onto her clothing securely. Unsettlingly secure, in fact.

Finally examining the first one that had landed on her shoulder more closely, her blood ran cold as she saw that the set of tiny mandibles were actually made of a black metallic material; the body of the thing, she now also saw was just a metal cylinder made to mimic that of a butterfly's.

The tiny mechanical abomination's wings were not at all frail or organic, rather, made of a translucent, parchment-thin alloy themselves; light-weight, but clearly strong.

She began to struggle in panic against their miniature vice grip, but the multitude of robot creatures upon her was too powerful en mass to fight against, and she felt herself being lifted off her stump seat.

Slowly, their strong little wings lifted her into the air even against her struggles to break free.

Soon, she was ascending above the tree line of the surrounding forest, into the blue sky, leaving the green sanctuary of the hidden garden below.

Now, she hoped the nightmarish little creatures' hold on her did not loosen as she watched the ground fall further away.

The fear and panic that had stolen across her heart at the realization the electro-machines were not as they seemed now drained away and was replaced by the seething hatred and rage that came with the knowledge of who had sent them, and where they were now taking her.

There was no need to look up to know what she would find in the distance upon the horizon; he had sent these horrid things for her, and now they brought her to their evil master.

Far off on the horizon, upon one of the many balconies of his mountain fortress, he stood scrubbing his hands together maliciously.

Soon, he thought with a mad grin upon his crooked face, soon his tiny winged minions would be bringing her to him, and she would finally be his!

The evil Dr. Otto Van Noort let out a cracked laugh that echoed across the skies as the tiny speck of a figure against the vast blue of the horizon floated closer; his lovely bride being brought unwillingly toward his foreboding mountain lair.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spectre

He felt the presence of a shadow behind him, moving in unison with his own footsteps as he walked home along the dimly lit street.

Its spectre had been there throughout the day, yet in the sunlight it was diminished, faded into the background so he had almost forgotten about it.

Now, in the night hours, the ominous entity was a dense sensation behind him, following just out of his field of vision so that each time he dared a look back over his shoulder, nothing was there, except the foreboding dread that he knew to be hiding beyond the street lamps' light glowing borders.

Hurrying along his way, he arrives at his house and enters the front door in an almost frantic state.

Safely on the other side of the big wooden front door, he leans against its solidness, catching his breath as he laughs at himself for being so worked up over nothing.

But had it been nothing? Perhaps, but that feeling of dread as if his phantom follower was closing in him; ready to envelop his very self in its dark, shadowy abyss did not feel like nothing.

He locks the door and walks down the hallway to put his coat in the closet under the stairs that leads up to the second floor.

Turning quickly around at movement out of the corner of his eye he catches the sight of his own reflection in the hall mirror and startles himself, and he laughs once more at his foolishness.

Jumping at shadows, he thinks to himself as he shakes his head and walks away from the mirror's reflection.

Yet, his reflection does not move with him; indeed its familiar visage becomes stern and menacing as it watches its unsuspecting doppelganger move down the hallway.

Slowly, a chilling sneer spreads across its lips and it moving as swiftly as a shadow, it blurs out of sight of the mirror's frame.

Outside the still darkened house, a scream breaks the calm of the evening, only to be cut off abruptly once again, retuning the quiet to the sleepy, shadow-filled street.