Mirror of the Nine Halls (Part 3)

Be sure to read parts one and two below before reading this one, as this is a direct continuation of my previous posts. Enjoy!

Mirror of the Nine Halls part 3

Kalgan was not feeling well by the time he got home from clearing his head. The cut on his right hand was throbbing… Alternating ice cold and burning hot.
His mother was watching her favorite show on TV when he walked in. He kept his injured hand in his jacket-pocket.
“Have a nice walk?” she asked, not really taking her eyes off the television.
“Yeah. Nice sunset out there tonight. You should have seen it.”
“I did. Looked out the window while doing the dishes.”
“Ah.”

“Look… Kal… Are you sure you want that mirror in your room? Your sister says she doesn’t like it. It gives her the creeps.”
Kalgan rolled his eyes. “I don’t think her opinion really matters when it comes to my stuff,” he replied. “If she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t have to see it. It’s in my room, not hers.”
“Very well. I won’t pester you about it anymore.”
“Thanks.”
Kalgan hurried off to his room before his mother could question him anymore. He sighed in relief when he closed the door behind himself.
He then decided that he should try to get some sleep, hoping that a good night’s rest would make him feel better in the morning. He glared once at the mirror, then changed into his pajamas and fell on his bed.
Sleep didn’t come for some time. Now that he was relaxed, his hand was throbbing even worse. He felt his pulse in every throb of hot and cold. It was strange. One throb–cold. the next–hot.
Cold, hot, cold, hot, cold, hot.
When sleep finally hit him like a dark blanket over his consciousness, he felt like he was slowly being immersed in a cold, oily pool of liquid. It clung to him, enveloping his entire body.
He gasped and sat up suddenly, throwing his blanket off. The pulsing of hot and cold in his hand was now an insistent hammering, beating at his hand, arm, and up into his neck and forehead. He felt feverish and weak.
“Fuck me,” he said. His voice was hoarse.
He got up and noticed that the clock on his bedside table said it was two-thirty three in the morning. Neither his sister nor his mother would be up at this hour. With a pounding headache, he made his way laboriously across the hall and got a glass of water. He gulped the entire thing down, then filled another. This one, he took with him for later.
He stopped by the bathroom on his way back to bed. He really needed a splash of water on his face.
He stooped over the sink, and after rubbing the excess water off his face, he looked into the mirror.
“Damn. I look like shit,” he said. His face was pale, and his eyes looked sunken into his head. He blinked once.
Suddenly, his pupils were different, slit like a cat’s or a reptile’s. He blinked again and took a startled step back.
His pupils were back to normal. He took a deep breath. “Great. Now I’m hallucinating.”
He thought it was probably best if he went back to sleep. His fever was getting worse. He could feel it.
When he got back into bed, his hand, arm, and head were throbbing even worse.
Nevertheless, he was pulled into sleep fairly quickly.

Kalgan rose up to a sitting position to find himself on a cold, hard surface. It looked to be some sort of marble floor. There were marble columns surrounding him as well, and on each column, there was a torch.
Each torch alternated blue and orange fire. One second, the fire would be orange as normal, then it would change to blue on the next.
Other than that, there was nothing in this large chamber except for… the Mirror.
It was directly ahead. But instead of being black, it swirled with orange fire. The fire swirled down from the outside of the mirror, into its depths.
Kalgan watched as the fire suddenly changed color in time to the color change of the torches.
Blue fire. This was one heck of a dream.
Kalgan frowned. This didn’t feel like a dream. First of all… If it were a dream, shouldn’t he be unable to tell it was a dream?
Also, his whole body pulsed in agony. Ice cold and burning hot… Perfectly in time to the color changes in the fire.
He grasped his head in two hands and sat there breathing hard in agony for a moment.
Then he rose to his feet and headed in the direction of the mirror. It was a good hundred feet away, and his entire body was now pulsing in agony from the fever.
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold.
He took several more steps toward the mirror.
Was the path sloping downwards? He hadn’t noticed when he started walking.
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold.
There was now a pronounced downward slant to the path. The pull of gravity was undeniable.
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold.
His blood was cold like glaciers colliding in the antarctic. It was like molten steel being hammered into shape.
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold.
The path became a cliff, with the mirror at the bottom. It was inescapable.
Suddenly he found himself falling towards it.
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Hot cold hot cold hot cold hotcoldhotcoldhotcold.
He screamed at the agony that was his life. Sweet oblivion was so far out of reach. The mirror was pain. The Mirror was all.  The Mirror. The Mirror!
He watched, unable to close his eyes at the inexorable approach of that swirling vortex of hot and cold.
The alternating hot and cold increased in speed until there was no difference anymore. Just the agony. The searing agony of extremes.
He struck the surface of the mirror what felt like an eternity later, but it was not the end. He felt a moment of strangeness as his body was stretched to infinity, then his eyes flew open.
He was awake!
He ran to the bathroom as quickly as he could, and was barely in time to vomit up last night’s dinner into the toilet.
Once his stomach was empty, he laid down on the cool floor. His fever was gone, but his body was still tingling from the nightmare. It had felt so real. The heat and cold, the feel of marble stone under his bare feet, the sight of those orange and blue flames flickering as if alive.
He’d never had a nightmare like that before.
Kalgan stood up and grabbed the glass of water he had saved for later. He took one mouthful and swished it around to get the taste of vomit out of his mouth, then spit it out.
He did this several times, then refilled it from the faucet and gulped it down.
Afterwards, he almost felt like his normal self again.
He started to unwrap the cloth strip from his hand to clean it, but after unwrapping the entire bloody cloth, he was met with unbroken skin. The wound he had received just last night was gone! Not even a scar remained.
“Huh,” he said, then shrugged. He guessed that it hadn’t been a very bad cut after all.

He looked at his face in the mirror. He looked gaunt and a bit starved, but otherwise normal. No weird-looking reptilian eyes. That was always a plus.
Kalgan returned to his room to find that it was barely four in the morning. He felt exhausted, so he fell back into bed.
“Fuck being sick. Fuck weird dreams. And above all… Fuck that stupid Mirror!” he said before drifting off to a blessedly-dreamless sleep.

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The Mirror of the Nine Halls (Part 2)

Here is the promised second part of my new project. If you haven’t already, please read my previous post, as this is a direct sequel to it. You can find it below!

Mirror of the Nine Halls (Part 2)

After scarfing down his dinner, Kalgan returned to his room and the Mirror with a few new ideas to try to figure out what this thing was.
“Alright you silly piece of…” he started to say as he turned back around from closing his door, but then stopped.
The mirror was sitting upright, and it looked like the books he had used to prop it up were now sliced through completely to the ground.
Kalgan hurriedly ran over to the mirror and put a hand on either face of the mirror so it wouldn’t fall, then gently tried to lean it up against his wall once more.
Only it wouldn’t move. He couldn’t even budge it an inch! He leaned against it harder, but again, no movement whatsoever.
He began to strain against it, pushing with all his might. He moved his right hand to a better position and pushed again.
His hand slipped and ran across the edge. He felt it slice into his flesh and felt a liquid warmth flowing down his arm.
“Son of a bitch!” Kalgan said, wincing as an icy shock travelled down his arm from the wound on his palm.
He quickly clasped his left hand onto his right to stop the bleeding and awkwardly opened his door to go to the bathroom.
He put his hand under the water and watched crimson streamers flow down the drain in an inward-spiral.
Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt like a cut normally would. It was just cold. But it was quite deep. Kalgan knew he wouldn’t be using this hand for quite some time. Good thing it was Summer, and school was out, otherwise, he would have had to learn to write with his left hand.
“Bastard mirror!” He cursed in annoyance. The thing was becoming more dangerous to have around than it was worth. Maybe he should get rid of it?
No. If anything, it was becoming more strange. More interesting. He couldn’t leave this mystery alone. No stupid cut was going to keep him from solving it. Especially when he only had himself to blame for the cut.
He wrapped his hand as well as he could and resigned himself to using only his left hand for a while.
After returning to his room and closing his door, he looked at the mirror once more. How was it able to stand on edge like that without support? Internal gyroscopes, maybe?
Or maybe it was aligning to the Earth’s magnetic field? He grabbed a small bar-magnet from a drawer in his desk and approached the mirror slowly, but after pressing the magnet up to it, and finding it wasn’t magnetic at all, he was even more puzzled than ever. Was it gyroscopes, then?
He tapped the magnet against the surface of the mirror and was puzzled to hear no sound whatsoever. At the very least, there should have been some kind of sound from the magnet at least from the sound-waves passing through it.
He tapped it harder. Still no sound.
“Hmm…” he said, examining some of the items around his room. There was a large polished rock he was quite proud of. Oh well.
He picked it up and rapped it against the mirror. Very lightly at first. He didn’t want to break either the mirror, or his favorite rock. It was a large red agate geode that was open and polished on one side.
No sound whatsoever. He struck it harder.
Nothing. This was getting weird. He sighed, then slammed the rock against the mirror with all the might he dared to muster.
The rock shattered into several pieces without a sound, then fell apart in his hand with the sound of rock sliding against rock.
Up until that moment, he had been motivated by curiosity. But now…
A cold spike of fear travelled up his spine. This thing wasn’t right. Not at all. What the hell had he gotten himself into?
He stood there for a long moment, just staring at the thing. He didn’t know how to get rid of it, let alone destroy it.
He let out a long breath, then heard a strange sound. It seemed to come from the opposite side of the mirror. It reminded him of when he had thrown a stone into a long, deep cave he had gone to as a child with his mother and sister. The sound of a stone striking something with great force, and the resulting echo as it took a long time to come back.
Kalgan knew that there was something terribly wrong with this thing. He felt a sudden unreasoning fear he had never felt in his life. When he had heard that sound, he had gotten the sudden impression in his mind of a vast cavernous space on the other side of the mirror.
He took a step back as he felt vertigo and rushed over to his closet. He grabbed a blanket from within and quickly returned to throw it over the accursed thing. Then he vowed to himself to find a way to get rid of it in the morning. Perhaps he could call up his best friend, Karl, and they could toss it off a cliff, or something.
Until then, might as well ignore the thing, and…
A sound, strangely familiar began to emanate from under the blanket.
The fluttering of countless wings, and the shrieks of bats. The mirror shuddered and shifted slightly as countless small objects struck it from… somewhere else.
Kalgan hurriedly stepped over and propped it up so it wouldn’t fall. The last thing he wanted was this thing to punch a hole in his wall if it fell over.
The shrieking of bats and the bucking of the mirror continued for well over a minute.
“What in Earth is happening?!” Kalgan said to himself in fear.
After a moment, when the mirror was no longer being assaulted from some unseen force, curiosity began to overtake the hammering of his heart.
He slowly pulled the blanket off the mirror and gazed into its dark depths.
There was a small shrieking sound as a bat sent out an echo-location ping and Kalgan saw it pass within inches of the surface of the mirror! But on the other side!
This was no mirror! It was a window… Into some other place. A pitch-dark cave of some kind.
Kalgan hurriedly pulled the blanket back over the window and raced to his bedroom door. He threw it open and made his way out of the house. His mother and sister were nowhere in sight to stop or question him, thank goodness. He just needed some air… And to go take a long walk to settle down his pounding heart.
“It wasn’t real,” he repeated over and over as he headed down the street. The sun was setting, and the world was becoming painted in oranges and reds. On another day, he might have admired the incredible sunset, but he was too shaken to do that.
He didn’t know how long he walked, but before he knew it, he was nearing the end of his road.
“Come on. Think this through, Kal,” he said to himself. “It could just be a really weird television set. Showing what some kind of camera is seeing somewhere else.”
The explanation didn’t satisfy him, but he needed to think of something logical to slow his pulse down. He had blacked out several times in his life previously from stressful situations, and he didn’t need it to happen again. Not out here so far from home.
He sighed and doubled back. Nothing for it. He would just have to go back in there and see what else he could figure out about the “mirror” in his room.
A new determination was beginning to build within him. He was going to discover what the thing really was, and more importantly, where it was showing him.
He laughed suddenly. This could very well be the discovery of the century! A strange mirror that didn’t follow any known laws of physics, and was a window into some unknown space inhabited only by bats and darkness! Didn’t he have a duty to uncover its secrets?
He supposed he had no choice now. The thing wasn’t going anywhere. Then a terrifying thought came to him.
What if the thing never left? Would it inhabit his room forever? Perhaps even long after he was dead?

Kalgan shuddered from the chill traveling up his spine.
The sun set shortly there after, turning the bottoms of the clouds a rust-tinged red.
“It’s going to be a long night,” he said as he turned down his driveway and reentered his house.

 

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Mirror of the Nine Halls

It has been a very long time since my last post, but I’m looking to get back into writing on a regular basis once again. So here it is: My first foray in some time back into the world of Fantasy I created in previous posts. With a few differences. There will be more. This is but the beginning of something much larger. A story that is only beginning to force its way through my mind and onto the page. Enjoy!

Mirror of the Nine Halls

Kalgan rubbed his eyes in frustration as he prepared to tell the same story over for what felt like at least the tenth time in as many days.
“I told you before. It all started when I looked in that strange mirror.”
The psychiatrist nodded and wrote a short note on his pad.
“And then?” he said.
“I saw my own reflection, but it was wrong. Different. The me in the mirror was wearing a resplendent set of Gold and Silver armor. He carried a matching helmet under his arm. The helmet was stylized like a dragon’s head. The other me also wore a cape. It was red. He… No I looked like a prince. Instead of being terrified, I was… intrigued.”
“And you see this every time you look in a mirror?”
“No!” Kalgan retorted, slightly annoyed. “Just the mirror I found in the old antique shop on Ninth Street.”
“Just trying to get the facts right, Kalgan.”
“Facts you should have got straight the first time I told you this story!” he replied, slightly angry. He didn’t like repeating himself over and over.
“Right. Continue with your story, then.”
“Whatever,” Kalgan said, and sighed. The sooner he finished his tale, the sooner he could get out of here, and back to his life. “At first, I didn’t even know it was a mirror. The surface was pitch black, as if it were a window into a room closed off from the world. No windows and no doors to let in even the slightest bit of light into whatever was on the other side. There was something about the quality of that pure-black polished surface that drew me to it instantly. I had gone reluctantly on this trip with my mother and sister so they could window-shop, but it was I who decided I needed this silly thing. I begged my mother for it. She raised an eyebrow when she looked at it, but shrugged her shoulders and gave me the money.”
“How much did it cost?”
Kalgan rolled his eyes. “I don’t remember. Less than a hundred bucks.”
“Quite a bit of money to spend on a glorified blackboard, don’t you think?”
“If you’d have seen this thing, you would have understood. It was special.”
“Very well. Please continue.”
“I see this is going to take a while. Again.”
“It’s going to take as long as it must. You’re the one who asked for these therapy sessions, Kalgan.”
“And now I really wish I hadn’t. It’s been a total waste of time.”
“That’s yet to be seen.”
Kalgan shifted slightly in the chair. “Anyway… There was something else weird about this thing that I noticed almost right away when we rolled it out to my mom’s car. It was heavy. I mean… All mirrors that big are pretty heavy, but this… It took all three of us to roll it out, and we barely got it up into her car.”
“And how big was it, exactly?”
Kalgan sighed, but decided it couldn’t hurt to answer this one. “Six feet tall from its base to the top. Maybe three feet wide. It was oval, and its surface was flawless. Not a scratch. Not a blemish. Not even a warping anywhere on it. The quality of the workmanship was astounding, but the wooden frame was crap. It looked almost like an old painter’s easel. I decided right away when I took it home that I would liberate it of that shit and find a way to simply mount it on my wall. Something about that pure black fit my mood at the time. I simply needed this thing in my life.”
Kalgan waited for an interruption, but one did not come, so he continued. “When we finally went home after my mother and sister window-shopped a few more stores, we laboriously rolled it into my room. Both of them thought I was either insane or stupid for wanting this thing, and left me with the monstrosity without another word. Then I set to work. I removed all the screws from the back that held the mounting to the crappy wheels, then started ripping the newspaper off the back.”
Kalgan closed his eyes and sat back in the chair. “I wish I hadn’t done that.”
“Oh?”
He was getting into his story again, and ignored the shrink’s interruption. “There were two layers of old newspaper protecting the back. When the first came off, it revealed a much older layer of newspaper, and on it was written ‘GET RID OF THIS MIRROR NOW!’ in great big letters. All caps. It looked like it was written in red marker, or maybe paint. I wasn’t sure. It could even have been blood, for all I know.
“That kinda freaked me out. I almost decided to shatter the thing right then and there, but even the idea of doing that to this remarkable piece of art was unthinkable. I grasped the last layer of protective newspaper and ripped it off with a single, fluid motion.”
There was silence for a moment. Kalgan debated within himself whether to tell the man what he really saw on the other side. instead, he decided, once again, to tell the lie he had told every other time he had told this story.
“And?”
Kalgan shook his head in sadness… Faked, of course. “Turns out what I thought was the front of the mirror was the back, and the back… was the front. It was just a regular mirror. I saw myself as I normally was. I was deeply disappointed, but I tore off the rest of the wooden frame. This thing was mine, now. Might as well pretend I was proud of it. I didn’t want my mother thinking the wrong thing.”
“What about what you said earlier, about seeing a prince-like version of you in the mirror?”
Kalgan sighed. “That only happens when I fall asleep. Every time I sleep, it’s nothing but the mirror, and that strange reflection. But in the morning, after waking up, it’s just a regular mirror again.”
“And so we get back to the root of your particular issue, Kalgan.”
“Oh yeah?”
“This recurring dream of yours, in my opinion, is due to a lack of excitement and adventure in your life. You desire a life different from the one you currently lead, so your subconscious has latched onto this mirror as a plot device to escape this world, and your boring life.”
Kalgan nodded. It did make sense, but only in the context of the lie he had told.
If only the man knew the truth.
He smiled. The truth was not for this man, or any of the other mortals of this world.

 

 

Two Years Ago:

 

 

Kalgan tore the newspaper off his new mirror. That stupid message written in fake blood wasn’t going to stop him! He didn’t believe in horror stories to scare small children.
Part of him was disappointed that he was met with the same pitch blackness on the back of the mirror as the front, but he still liked it, nonetheless. The darkness called to his soul, or at least some deep part of himself he couldn’t identify.
He started to pry off the wooden frame. It came apart in his hands bit-by-bit. It was weak as balsa wood. He was surprised that it had remained intact for all these years with such a crappy frame! He couldn’t understand why the previous owner would do such a thing, but whatever.
Kalgan frowned as the edges of the mirror were revealed. They tapered off to a razor-sharp thinness. The edge was not flat at all, like he had expected. He was going to have to be very careful not to cut himself on this thing.
Very carefully, he managed to tear off the last of the frame. He kept it propped up against his wall, and on top of a couple of old books. He stepped back and admired his mirror. It was like a vertical puddle of dark water at midnight. It was perfect.
Now what to do? He wanted to mount it on his wall, but the thing was really heavy, and would cut him terribly if he so much as slipped an inch carrying this thing.
He stared at the thing for a minute or so, but finally decided it would simply have to sit here for a while till he thought of a solution.
“Hey! Celine!” Kalgan yelled out his door to his sister. “Can you come in here for a second?”
His sister came into his room a few moments later. She stopped in front of his new mirror and stared at it. “What is it you want?” she said without looking at him.
“Any ideas on how I can get this thing mounted up on my wall?”
Celine remained silent.
“Celine. Celine. Earth to Celine. Earth to Celine, this is Houston. Over.”
Celine shook her head and tore her eyes away from his mirror. “Sorry. What was that you just said?”
Kalgan rolled his eyes. “Any ideas on how to get this thing up on my wall safely?”
Celine shook her head. “No. I don’t like this thing. I think you should get rid of it.”
Kalgan looked at his sister disdainfully. “I’m not going to do that. I like it.”
Celine shrugged. “It’s your funeral,” she said, then promptly stepped over the bits of wood on his floor and left his room.
“Some help you are!” he yelled back at her as she turned the corner to head to her own room.
“You’re lucky it’s almost our birthday, and mother was in the mood to buy you an early sixteenth birthday present, Kal,” she said just before he heard her door close behind her, followed a few seconds later by the distant reverberations of loud music.
Kalgan idly tapped the mirror once with his index-finger. He expected a sound, or at least the sensation of some kind of resonance, but he may as well have been tapping a granite boulder rooted to a mountain. There was nothing.
“Hmm…”
He tapped several more times. Nothing. This thing was seriously weird. For the first time, he wondered who made this thing, and what purpose it served. It obviously made a terrible mirror, but he had no idea what else to call it.
“Well, mirror. Let’s see about unveiling a few of your secrets.”
He grabbed a flashlight out of his closet, and shined it directly at the inky-black surface. There wasn’t even a hint of a reflection. Not a single glimmer of color-change either. This thing was strangely as black with light shining on it as when it wasn’t, like shining a light up into the sky at night.
The confounding thing was mysterious, he gave it that. He walked up to it and rapped it with a knuckle. Again, no reverberation, no sound.
He put his hand up to it and splayed his it onto its surface. It was cold. Just like a real mirror would be. He waited a few seconds, then removed his hand. He frowned as he realized that there was no condensation from his hand on it. No handprint. Nothing. It was as flawless and clean as before.
This thing was seriously beginning to weird him out.
He took a step back… and that’s when he saw it.
A slight shimmer… As if something were moving in the background of the darkness. And then it was gone.
Kalgan jumped a bit, and moved forward again, trying to look deep into the blackness. He kneeled before its surface, but did not see it again.
“The stupid thing is so dark that I’m starting to imagine things in it,” he concluded.
He sighed and got up to leave his room. It was nearly dinnertime, and he was getting hungry. Any further mysteries would have to wait until after he ate.
A few moments after he left his room, the mirror sank down through the pages of the books holding it up until it touched the ground. Then it tilted itself up to a perfectly vertical position. And there it sat. Implacable. Inscrutable.
And Dark.

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The Demon Graveyard

This story has been brewing in my head for a couple weeks now, and it took Chuck Wendig’s challenge (http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/08/23/flash-fiction-challenge-another-ten-words/ ) to motivate me to type it down. This week’s challenge: Another Ten Words that have to be placed somewhere in the story. This time it clocks in at 1,121 words.

Funeral

Captivate

Deceit

Brimstone

Canyon

Balloon

Clay

Disfigured

Willow

Atomic

The Demon Graveyard

            Talunir woke to the sound of dogs barking. This was the third night in a row. It was beginning to really piss him off. He rolled off his pallet and groaned in displeasure. Tonight he was going to do something about it.

He got up just a bit too fast, triggering the headaches that always seemed to lurk just beneath the surface at all times. He clutched at his head as he dropped back down to his knees. He waited for a few moments until it passed before rising to his feet once more, this time more slowly.

Talunir pushed on the only door to his one-room shack, letting in a wisp of moonlit mist that curled around his leg as if to grasp him, and keep him from taking a step outside.

The mist always seemed to pervade the graveyard this time of night, lending an aura of mystery and foreboding to every evening. Talunir liked living out here. People left him alone… Until someone died. Then they would reluctantly ask for his help.

As the graveyard’s groundskeeper, he lived a simple life. The position was, unfortunately, hereditary. He was only eighteen years old, and had inherited this position from his grandfather not even a month before. He had had to bury the old man himself, under the old willow tree. It had been a simple funeral. He had been the only one to attend, and dug the grave himself.

The second he stepped outside, the dogs stopped their incessant barking, as if they sensed his growing displeasure. In the distance, the small hill topped by the lone willow tree rose up out of the mist like a small island in a sea of fog. Talunir saw a large dog limp up the hill and collapse at the top, underneath the willow. He sighed in annoyance. The poor creature had likely got in a fight with the other dogs, causing all the commotion this evening.

Talunir grabbed the shovel leaning up against the doorframe, and set off for the hill. He would likely have to put the dog out of it’s misery. Not a task he was looking forward to.

His feet sent puffs of mist scurrying away as he trudged through the mud to the hill. The poor dog was whining and squirming in pain as he reached it.

“It’s okay, boy,” he said soothingly as he reached the injured creature. “Let’s take a look at…”

The dog whimpered pitifully, as it’s head ballooned outward, as if air were building up underneath it’s skin. Talunir took a step back in horror as the dog took its last breath and its head popped with an exhalation of gasses. He covered his nose as the smell of brimstone reached his nostrils. He had become used to the smell of death, but this was far worse. The unnatural scent caused him to take another quick step back while holding the shovel before him to protect himself.

The dog suddenly took a shuddering breath and twitched once. Talunir watched, captivated, as the creature got up onto its feet and shook itself, as if it had just had a bath. Pieces of rotting flesh flew off, and it turned toward him with an unearthly growl, an atomic green glow in it’s undead eyes.

Talunir wasn’t stupid. He knew it was time to run, so that’s what he did. Unfortunately, he wasn’t fast enough, as he felt something clamp onto his leg with unearthly force. He screamed as he fell to the ground.

The demon dog growled savagely as it tore into his flesh. Talunir felt his tendons snap, and teeth grinding into bone. By some miracle, he had managed to hold onto the shovel, so he quickly swung with all his might at the beast.

He struck it on the neck, severing it halfway through, and causing black blood to squirt out from the wound. The dog released it’s grip, and Talunir managed to shuffle away from it as it fell, convulsing to the ground.

He used the shovel as a walking stick to lift himself up out of the clay to a standing position, then quickly began to hobble away from the horrific creature. He knew that he had to get to town as quickly as possible before it was too late to save his leg. He didn’t know how he was going to get through Mist Canyon alive, but he had to try. The town mage might be able to heal him up as good as new, but being permanently disfigured was more than a distinct possibility.

Talunir stopped as he heard a growl in front of him. Three hideous, fleshless dogs rose up out of the mist, and blocked his unsteady retreat.

“By the three!” he said, imagining the dogs tearing the entrails from his body, and sharing the rest of his guts out among them. “I don’t want to die!”

He wanted to run, but knew that he would not get far, so he picked up the shovel to defend himself. It seemed much heavier than before, and his injured leg screamed in agony, threatening to drop him to one knee, but by some miracle, he remained standing.

The dogs circled around him, preparing to strike. He knew that this was the end, but through some form of bravery, or stupidity, he stubbornly held his ground.

The first dog, it’s former breed unrecognizable with the flesh on it’s head gone, leaped at it’s prey. Talunir struck it’s face, shattering bone, but the beast struck him with its weight, bowling him over hard onto the ground, letting go of his shovel. It was in that moment that Talunir knew that he was going to die. Knew it with certainty.

He released the last breath of his life and closed his eyes, giving himself over to his fate, but it didn’t come. He heard a yelp and a metallic thud, then another.

He opened his eyes to see someone standing over the corpses of the dogs, the strange, green lights in their eyes gone. Talunir wept in gratitude that the stranger had come just in time.

Then the stranger turned around, and the true horror of the situation became apparent.

It was his grandfather. The flesh on his face falling off, a sickly green light shining out from his eye sockets, and a maggot crawling around in his exposed nasal cavity, but undeniably him.

“You have a strong spirit,” the demon said, speaking in Talunir’s grandfather’s voice, dripping, not with deceit, like the tales of demons would lead him to believe, but with an insatiable hunger instead. “Your soul is mine.”

Talunir didn’t even have time to scream.

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Genetipunk!

Special thanks to Chuck Wendig at http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/08/02/flash-fiction-challenge-somethingpunk/  for providing this week’s writing challenge, and to Mark Gardner for his invaluable advice and help! A little short at 859 words, but complete!

Genetipunk!

Walter sat down at one of only two seats at the reception area.

“The Directors will be ready for you in just a moment, Mr. Selwari,” the beautiful receptionist said needlessly. Walter was no stranger to this particular chair, in this particular situation.
But this time was different.

He impatiently began to tap his heel on the carpeted floor, while gripping the handle of his briefcase as if it were life itself. He knew it wouldn’t be long before…

The television screen caught his eye. It was a news broadcast. He shook his head in wry amusement. “I’m sorry miss, but could you turn that up, please?” he asked the receptionist.

“Of course, Mr. Selwari. Anything for you, sir!” she said in reverent tones, taking out the TV remote from one of her drawers and pressing the volume button several times till the news broadcast could be heard.

“…Which also marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Gen-Olympics. Marcus Denjoli is under investigation for allegations that he has refused to modify himself, saying that he is more than ready to compete against his peers in next-year’s summer games without the need for modifications. He faces immediate expulsion from the games unless he complies with the GEC’s regulations…”

Walter sighed. This was yet another reason why something needed to be done immediately.

“I don’t understand people like that,” the receptionist said. “Why doesn’t he just use modifications? He’d be an even more incredible athlete if he did. Everyone else is doing it these days.”

“Including yourself, Miss Randall?” Walter asked, trying to make conversation, even though he really did not want to talk at this time.
The receptionist blushed, but smiled. “Well… Not as much as you’d think. I don’t get paid nearly enough for the mods that I really want.”

“Ah. I see,” Walter said, gripping his briefcase even harder. He felt his knuckles pop.

“Is there something wrong, Mr. Selwari?” Miss Randall said, concerned.

“Not really,” Walter replied evasively. “I’ve just got a lot on my mind right now. It need not concern you.”

“Okay. Let me know if you want a glass of water, or anything else, Mr. Selwari. Anything at all!”

Walter remained silent. It was all his fault. He was the father of modern genetics. Recognized the world-over as the man who brought forth a genetic revolution. Affordable modifications for anyone. An end to disease. An end to cancer. The beginning of a new age of mankind…

…The beginning of a new age of persecution for those who could not afford it.

It was time to put an end to all this. Before it became more a curse than a blessing; before the miracle became humanity’s undoing.

Walter was a proponent of learning from history’s mistakes. Every revolution carried within it the seeds of it’s own destruction. He brought forth this revolution. Now it was the time to bring about it’s end…

“Mr. Selwari, the directors will see you now,” the receptionist said, pressing the hidden button that cracked the door open.

Walter stood on shaky legs, but took a deep breath and entered the conference room, where his fate, and the fate of humanity would be changed.

“Walter!” Director Johnson greeted him from the head of the table. “It’s so good to see you in good health. Welcome!”

“Thank you for seeing me on such short notice, Directors,” he addressed the table of twelve men and women. “I promise I will be brief.”

“For you, Walter, anything. Anything at all. I feel confident that all of us at Geneticorp, and indeed the world, owe you a debt of thanks for everything you’ve done for us.”

Walter bowed his head, and clicked the first lock open on his briefcase. He took a deep breath as three small ports opened up on the sides of the modified case. Then he clicked the second lock open, and a fine mist hissed out of the holes, dispersing into the room.

“One day, I hope the world forgives me for what I have just done,” he said in regret as he opened the briefcase. “My greatest mistake was thinking that what I was doing would help more people than it hurt.”

“Walter!” Director Johnson yelled, coughing once as he breathed in some of the tiny particles into his lungs. “What… What have you done!”

“Only what I had to do. I’m sorry. Perhaps one day you will understand, but… I don’t think you will. I have just dispersed a virus that has now infected each and every one of you. completely nullifying any genetic modifications you may possess, and making it impossible for any further enhancements to fuse to your DNA. You cannot hope to contain this infection. It is not deadly, but it is highly contagious.”

“By all that is holy, Walter!” Director Phillips yelled, “Why have you done this!”

He pulled the .45 pistol out of the briefcase, and put it up to his right temple. A single tear fell down his cheek.

“I refuse to watch all that I have created become a tool for enslavement and persecution,” he explained just before he pulled the trigger.

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A Discussion Among Officers

This week brings another writing prompt for the ages. Four random items. I decided to make this one a sequel to last week’s post, so you may want to read that one first if you haven’t already. Again, thanks to Chuck Wendig! http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/07/26/flash-fiction-challenge-four-random-items/

 974 words this time.

An unopened envelope

A road sign

An animal skull

A police officer’s badge

 

A discussion among Officers

            “What the hell do you mean, he made bail?!” Officer Jackson screamed at the other cop behind the desk at the police station. The other officer merely lifted an eyebrow and shrugged.

This wasn’t supposed to happen! Impossible, in fact. He had been told that there was no possible way the boy could make bail. His father was conveniently out of town, and he had no other living relatives. Officer Jared Jackson was hoping to have this be an in-and-out job, so he could go home to his pregnant wife, but it seemed that this would not be the case. Go figure.

Jared sighed. “Okay. I suppose this was bound to happen eventually. Who paid for him to get out?”

The other officer looked down at his sign-in sheet, then frowned. His face drained to white as he looked back up at Jared. “Genghis Khan?”

Jared scowled at the other man. “You do realize that this is not a joke, right? What’s the real name, officer…” Jared leaned over the counter to read the name on the man’s badge. “Collier?”

The man simply handed over the clipboard, and pointed to the bottom signature. Sure enough, it read “Genghis Khan.”

Jared flipped the clipboard up in the air and shouted. “Goddamnit! Are you a complete incompetent? You just let someone come in here and take the boy without proper identification?”

“I don’t understand…” officer Collier said defensively. “I watched her sign it. I remember… It was some other name she put down, but… I can’t remember what it was! Someone must have changed it after she left…”

Jared suppressed the urge to lean over the counter and punch the lights out of this incompetent asshole of a cop. “Fine. Whatever. You have security footage. I want to see it. If I can’t get her name, I will settle for her face.”

Officer Collier motioned for Jared to follow him. Through a security checkpoint and a locked door, he followed the incompetent officer into the room where they kept the security footage. The man sat down at the only computer and logged in. “We store all the security footage digitally. Give me a moment while I access today’s video.”

Jared crossed his arms and waited. The computer began to make an ear-grating shriek, as if the internal fan was getting caught against something at high speed. Officer Collier smacked the side of the thing and it quit making the noise. “Ah. There it is. Now just give me a sec while I bring up that woman’s pretty f…”

Officer Collier never got to finish the sentence. Jared found himself on his back, with his ears ringing. He looked over to see Collier convulse once as blood gurgled out of a hole torn in his neck from the explosion of the computer tower. He convulsed once more, then was still.

Jared ran over to the man, and clamped his hands on the wound, but it was too late. Collier’s eyes were now filled with the glaze of death.

He cursed, but did not hear any of what he himself was saying. His ears were still ringing. He quickly checked himself over, but luckily found no wounds.

The desk was on fire, and the rest of the room was quickly becoming too hot for continued occupancy. Jared made himself scarce. No one was supposed to know that he was even here. His contract stated that he must never be apprehended, or found out, or he would be immediately terminated. He knew that it likely meant that he would be quietly killed in his sleep by his employer. What he was doing was not entirely… legal.

Or natural, for that matter. Such was the situation as the world’s one, and only, time cop sprinted out of the small-town police station as it went up in cleansing fire. He only hoped there was no one else in the building, because he knew when it came to fire… he was a complete coward, and there was not a chance in hell that he was going back in there.

*       *       *

Karl took the letters from Mrs. Rhendron as she left him at the bus station.

“One is for you, the other is for Kalgan when you see him again,” she said. “Please don’t open them quite yet. There will be some interesting… news… on television in about a week or so. I want you to open it up, then.”

“What do you mean? I’m so confused!” he complained. “Why do I have to get out of town like death is upon my heels?”

“Because it is!” Mrs. Rhendron said, tears streaming down her face. “I’m sorry I can’t tell you more. There’s no time. You would ask too many questions. Questions that would take too long to answer. It’s all in the letter. Now please, go. Go!” she cried, pushing him toward the doors of the bus.

Karl dragged his feet. He hated to see his best-friend’s mother like this. She needed his help in finding her son and daughter! He turned around one last time as he put his first foot onto the bus.

“You’ve always been like a second son to me,” she said, looking as if she were going to break down into complete sobbing. “I wish things had turned out differently… Go on.”

Karl sighed and walked onto the bus, taking an unoccupied seat in the back. When he looked out the window, Mrs. Rhendron was nowhere to be seen.

Karl stared straight ahead in a daze for the first hour of the trip. He looked out once or twice, but all he saw was a sign proclaiming that the next town of any size was 347 miles away, and a cow skull, bleached from the sun, with empty eye-sockets staring into the setting sun.

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The Last Dragon. Part 1

Here is another short story I wrote. If one of the names seems familiar to my other posts, that’s because it is! I leave it up to the reader to try and discover the meaning behind this strange coincidence… Clocking in at just under 2500 words, here is The Last Dragon!

            The old man’s boots made crunching noises as he trudged through the Salt Flats. His ridiculous outfit of animal furs and raven feather cape swished in the breeze, but seemed to fit him somehow, as if it belonged on him, and he to it. The air seemed completely silent of all life, but of course, the old man knew different. The sun beat down mercilessly on his head, likely in a bid for his attention, but he ignored it completely. He had important things to do.

            He ground the bottom of his walking staff into the ground as he examined the strange footprints he had been following for some time. The evidence seemed to suggest that the person who made them had suddenly appeared in the salt flats, as if from thin air. No. Exactly as if from thin air.

            The old man scratched at his prodigious beard, as he always did when pondering a mystery. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the wind. The wind held secrets. Secrets that few knew how to delve. He was the only one whom he knew that had such an ability, and he prided himself in having known a lot of people in his time.

            One minute…

            Two minutes…

            Three minutes…

            The wind finally spoke a name to him.

            Kalgan Lanselius Rhendron.

            The old man’s eyes snapped open. It couldn’t be! Not yet! He gripped his staff as if he were trying to strangle the life out of it, or more like he was holding on to it for dear life. He started walking again, this time not even trying to keep up the illusion of a crotchety old man. Such a thing served no purpose now that important things were afoot.

            He marched down the trail of wavering footprints, putting to lie the image of old man. He walked as if he were a man in his twenties, not the man in his seventies he appeared to be. The footprints weaved left and right, as if the person who made them were injured, or confused, or in shock. Perhaps all three. The old man sped up. If the wind was correct about who this was, he needed to find out what exactly happened. He didn’t know what would be worse: If this Kalgan Lanselius Rhendron was dead, or was still alive, and wandering this world unaccompanied. Neither possibility left very much hope for this world.

            The footsteps suddenly became less erratic, and veered off slightly more toward the North. The old man looked up and smiled. How ironic.

            He stopped as he came to the head of an old, massive statue sticking out of the ground. It was an old representation of the Aureon-The Golden God of ancient Aetillaan. He looked at the ground and smiled. Kalgan had rested here briefly, in the shade of his grandfather’s head.

            The old man had no time to ponder the irony of the situation, and picked up the trail once again. This time, the footsteps pressed into the salt flat with purpose. He followed them until they came to a stop a short distance away. He was surprised to find evidence of horses-at least five of them-intersecting his quarry’s path. It took him a while to find Kalgan’s trail once again.

            This time he was running. Perhaps away from the men on horses. Suddenly, the old man dropped to his knees at the bloody stain on the ground. He reached out a shaky hand toward the dried blood crusting the salt flat, but came just short of touching it. He said a silent prayer to the Three, and even to the Aureon for good measure. He couldn’t be dead. He must not be!

            He examined the ground of the surrounding area, and was surprised to discover evidence of more horses; three this time, but only two riders. The horses continued on, but there were no more footsteps.

            Perhaps there was a chance that Kalgan had survived. Whoever had picked him up may have been able to get him to a healer in time, but he doubted it. There were no people for miles in any direction.

            The old man ground his staff into the ground in anger. He hoped that the people who had injured Kalgan died in this desert, but he doubted that as well. No one came into the salt flats unless they were well prepared for the dangers posed by heat and dehydration.

            He sighed and looked up at the sky, gauging the height of the sun. He supposed that he should be going. He had a long way to go to get back to Korlan before the sun set. It was there that he hoped to find more evidence as to whether Kalgan was still alive, and to also prepare the world for his coming. If only the Empire would hold off invading for a few more months. Something told him they would not be so lucky.

            The old man closed his eyes, and a moment later he disappeared, to an accompanying popping noise. In his place was a large black raven. The raven took off into the sky and circled around once to confirm that the horses were headed North, to Lendal, before wheeling off to the West, and the Northern tip of the Sima Laghda Mountain Range.

 

            The raven looked down upon the small mountain hut. Something wasn’t right. Lorovard should have been waiting outside for him. A hawk screeched a short distance away, and a dark darting object thrust it’s way through the raven’s left wing.

            He plummeted to Earth, and waited to transform until he was safely on the ground once again. There was another popping sound, and the old man suddenly stood where the raven had been before. He clutched at his arm and stood transfixed at the sight of the bloody arrow sticking out. He snapped the arrow off and drew it through the wound and clapped his hand over it to stop the bleeding.

            There was the sound of bowstrings being drawn as twelve bowmen stepped out from behind the trees and from inside the small shack. They all had their bows trained on him, half-drawn and ready to fire at a moment’s notice. Their leader stepped out of the shack next, pushing the hogtied Lorovard onto the ground next to the old man.

            “I’m sorry, Arkelen,” Lorovard said dejectedly. “They attacked as soon as you left.”

            “It’s not your fault, Lorovard,” The old man, Arkelen, replied. “They must have followed me though the rupture when I got here.”

            “Stop talking!” the leader yelled. “You’re both under arrest. For high treason and rebellion.”

            Arkelen laughed. “I don’t think you know what you’ve gotten yourself into.”

            “Be quiet! I know exactly who you are! Spawn of demons. As filthy as the creatures you turn into!”

            Arkelen just shook his head and sighed. “You are a spirit mage, are you not? Have you never heard of druids?”

            The mage lifted his right hand, and Arkelen stiffened as a wave of agonizing pain passed through his entire body. When it was over, he gasped, and found himself on his back, with the mage sneering in contempt above him.

            The hawk screeched again, this time much closer, and the mage lifted his eyes to the sky, just in time to see a brown blur plummeting towards his face.

            He screamed as blood ran down his face in a collision of face and feathers. The hawk had scratched his eyes out. There was a popping sound, and a man in a black cloak appeared where the hawk had been before.

            The mage fell to the ground screaming, and the black-cloaked man unsheathed the two swords from across his back, just as the first arrow started to fly towards his face. He smiled and simply stepped aside, ramming one of his swords under the sternum of the first bowman.

            He ducked as the next arrow came at the back of his head, embedding itself instead in the head of the man he had just killed. The black-cloaked man kicked the bowman off his sword, and flowed across the ground in a blur of swords, cutting three more bowmen off at the legs. He sprinted at the next group, who had just seen how the battle had turned away from their favor, and were heading for the safety of the trees. The first bowman launched an arrow, and the strange man just leaned away from it while still running.

            The man in black reached the first bowman and stuck him in the neck with his left hand blade, while throwing his right hand sword at the next one’s back. It speared the man through the ribs, killing him instantly. He pulled his sword out of the first’s neck, and left him to drown in his own blood, while advancing on the last one in the trees.

           The last of the three bowmen fell to his knees and faced his pursuer. “Please! Mercy! I beg y-” before the man in black took off his head in a single, nonchalant swipe. He then went back to retrieve his other sword, and calmly returned to the shack, where Arkelen was dusting himself off and untying Lorovard.

            “Master, are you injured?” the man in black asked Arkelen in concern.

            “No, Porantus. I’m fine. You missed a few.”

            “No. I’ll get to them later.”

            Porantus walked over to the mage, and savagely stabbed the man in the heart, stilling the man’s pained whimpers.

            The rest of the bowmen had taken refuge in the small hut, and one had nocked an arrow and was prepared to fire it out of the window. Porantus’s back was turned, but he was ready when the man released the arrow.

            He turned around suddenly, and split the arrow down the middle with his sword, completely unconcerned.

            Porantus sighed in disappointment. “I thought of leaving you alive. Oh well. I guess you’ll have to die like the rest,” he said calmly as he marched toward the front door. He kicked it open, and marched inside with deadly purpose.

            Arkelen turned away as the screams started, and focused on untying his friend. They were over soon enough.

 

            “Why are you here, Porantus? I thought I told you to stay at the palace and continue your studies.” Arkelen said once they had set the shack on fire. Porantus had left the place an uninhabitable, disgusting mess when he killed the rest of the bowmen, so they had little choice.

            “They killed Mara as soon as she sent you here, then that mage and his entourage followed the rupture here. I waited a bit, then followed them through as well.”

            “Mara? No!”

            “I’m afraid so.”

            “Damn it! It seems the Empire is catching up with us at every turn. I fear Korlan’s time is near.”

            “We must return immediately. Can Lorovard transport us back?”

            Lorovard nodded. “I think so. The rupture is still there. It shouldn’t take long to reopen it. I’ll just need time to gather my spirit.”

            Porantus nodded and turned back to Arkelen. “I hope whatever you found here was worth risking your life. If I hadn’t followed you through…”

            “I didn’t need your help. Don’t forget, you’re my apprentice for a reason, not the other way around. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve as well, you know.”

            “Of course, master.”

            Arkelen sighed. “As for my reason for coming here… I’m afraid we have a serious problem.”

 

            “One thing’s for sure: This Kalgan Rhendron must never be allowed to free the Dragon,” Arkelen explained to Porantus. “Doing such a thing will herald the end of the world. The Dragon was imprisoned for a reason, and should stay imprisoned.”

            “But can such a thing even be done? I thought the beast was trapped in magestone, of the unbreakable variety, no less,” Lorovard interjected.

            “What was created, can also be destroyed. Even magestone.”

            The silence continued for several moments. They were all thinking the same thing. The dragon had sworn undying enmity on the human race for exterminating the rest of his race, and if ever freed, would destroy this world, and everything on it. The oldest prophecies even warned that such an event could one day occur. With the help of a descendant of the Aureon.

            Arkelen was going to make sure that that never happened. If it was the last thing he ever did. And it might very well be.

 

            It was later that night before Lorovard was recuperated enough to teleport them all back to Korlan, hundreds of miles away. First, they buried Mara, who had given her life for the cause, and said a short prayer to the Three to see her safely to the afterlife.

            Then Arkelen and Porantus made their way up to the Palace. Arkelen had a plan, and needed all the help he could get, from ALL of his mages, and get a better bandage for his bleeding arm, of course

            The guards at the gate saluted him and he passed through into the palace. No one would be getting any sleep tonight. He summoned his seneschal and ordered him to gather everyone together for an important announcement. Then he turned to Porantus.

            “I have an important job for you. You will be leaving in the morning, as soon as my plan is ready. I want you to bring this Kalgan Rhendron back here, to Korlan, where he can be protected from the Empire, and the dragon.”

            “What? No. I refuse to be an errand boy any longer…”

            “No. You will go. I don’t trust anyone else to bring him back safe.”

            Porantus sneered in annoyance. “What if the empire attacks while I’m gone?”

            “We can protect ourselves well enough here. Don’t worry. There will still be a Korlan by the time you get back.”

            “Very well.”

            “Good. Get your stuff together then. You leave first thing in the morning. Once I’ve given you the details of my plan.

            “I am ready. I don’t need to prepare.”

            Arkelen just shook his head. “Ask the requisitions officer if you change your mind, he will set you up with anything you might need.”

            Porantus bowed to his master and left, without another word. When it came time to do what must be done, he never seemed to have much to say. Arkelen sometimes worried that his apprentice’s upbringing had completely scarred him somehow.

            But who wouldn’t be scarred if they had spent most of their life as a slave?

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