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Other => Creativity Corner => Story Telling => Topic started by: BlackDragonSlayer on June 24, 2013, 09:57:33 AM

Title: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on June 24, 2013, 09:57:33 AM
Yes, I know I haven't finished a... certain other story yet... but I don't care!!! I have ideas! :3 And I shall write them!

Completed:
Spoiler
The Final Choice:
Part 1 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg217635#msg217635)
Part 2 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg218595#msg218595)
Part 3 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg219146#msg219146)
Part 4 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg219238#msg219238)
Author's Notes Coming Soon

Angel Wings:
Part 1 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg224522#msg224522)
Part 2 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg224675#msg224675)
Part 3 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg224812#msg224812)
Author's Notes Coming Soon

Halloween Horror Special 2013:
Part 1: Pizza Delivery (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg230501#msg230501)
We all have our inner demons, but some more than others.
Part 2: She Will Come (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg230675#msg230675)
Mistakes, murders, and revenge centered around a sickly young boy and his parents.
Part 3: The Tale of Dr. Goode (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg230744#msg230744)
An unsettled spirit comes back from the dead hundreds of years later to seek victims in revenge for his untimely murder.

Annie and Zed: Into the Pirates' Den:
Part 1 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg235942#msg235942)
Part 2 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg236129#msg236129)
Part 3 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg236312#msg236312)

Annie and Zed: The Heart of Mt. Coldclaw:
Part 1 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg240763#msg240763)
Part 2 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg240938#msg240938)
Part 3 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg242260#msg242260)
Part 4 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg242310#msg242310)

Halloween Horror Special 2014:
Part 1: HELP ME (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg259025#msg259025)
A retired superhero coming back into action is plunged into a world of chaos as he is faced with a realization about his own life.
Part 2: The Man Who Treads With Death (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg259377#msg259377)
A disillusioned, suicidal man finds a friend.
Part 3: Cold is the Night of Revenge (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg259525#msg259525)
With a powerful alien creature at his beck and call, the crazed man begins to unleash his plan upon the world. But can that keep him from his own mortality?

Halloween Horror Special 2015:
Part 1: The Love Which We Deny Him (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg312148#msg312148):
A nice quiet neighborhood is not all that it seems, for there are monsters lurking just out of sight.
Part 2: I Think I Might Die Here (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg313878#msg313878):
A man, a woman, and a killer robot meet in a fateful encounter.
Part 3: I Knew a Man (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg314332#msg314332):
In space, nothing will hear you scream except Death itself.

Chilling Winter Tales:
#1: My Little Christmas Miracle (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg328520#msg328520)
#2: Looking Sallow (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg329076#msg329076)
#3: The Lazarus Tree (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg332106#msg332106)

Halloween Horror Special 2016:
Part 1: A Thing I Do Not Know (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg369960#msg369960):
Chased by an enigmatic creature. Alone. Trapped. How can there be any escape?
Part 2: The Tree of Tears (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg370087#msg370087):
"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair."
Part 3: The Tusked Mask (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg370175#msg370175):
An aging news reporter's quest to get to the bottom of an urban legend that might be true turns into a tale of survival in a barren wasteland.

The Man Who Left Our Earth:
Story (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg378774#msg378774)
A suicidal man finds that, one day, he has gained the ability to elicit the truth from anyone.

The Fall of the Renegade Eclipse:
Story (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg382507#msg382507)
An experimental battleship is ambushed out in the middle of space.

Halloween Horror Special 2017:
Part 1: Itty Morning Bitty Balm (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg388831#msg388831):
Is a dream but a dream, or is there, perhaps, something more to it? Can our dreams become reality, or are we but grounded in the imperfect world around us?
Part 2: My Lady of Grey (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg389265#msg389265):
One more day I wait, for things might change tomorrow from today.
Part 3: What a Pretty Thing (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg389729#msg389729):
Come with me, my pretty thing. Stay with me, forever, and ever, and be mine.

Tempest Eternal:
Story (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg398457#msg398457)
Nobody knows where the winds came from, or when they began, but what everybody fears is that they will never stop.

Today I Ate Bread Again:
Story (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg404452#msg404452)
I want to eat, but can I?

Halloween Horror Special 2018:
Part 1: For Want of Peace (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg405539#msg405539)
A man, raised by his grandparents, receives word that both his grandparents have died. Distraught, he returns to their home, which he has now inherited through these unfortunate circumstances.
Part 2: The Feeling of Pain (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg405699#msg405699)
A man in an accident is too poor to afford surgery, and is coerced into joining an experimental program that gives him prosthetic limbs that are attached to his nerve endings.
Part 3: The Unfortunate Mind (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg405853#msg405853)
In the future, AI are feared by humans and kept in check by the use "cyber-toxins," potent programs that have varying effect, ranging from a temporary paralysis to complete destruction. But sometimes, the use of these programs leads to unintended consequences...

Halloween Horror Special 2019:
Part 1: Because I Love You (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg414923#msg414923)
A different kind of love story.
Part 2: The Orange Bleeder (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg415153#msg415153)
On a dare, a girl enters a haunted house said to host a terrible type of monster: the Orange Bleeder.
Part 3: Marked (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg415383#msg415383)
In a world where everyone is born with a goal that they must fulfill in order to achieve true satisfaction, one man's goal is revenge.

Halloween Horror Special 2020:
Part 1: fuzzyface.exe (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg420508#msg420508)
A stressed-out office worker discovers something that has more to it than it first seems.
Part 2: Lament for a Modern Lazarus (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg420705#msg420705)
A man who dies at 61 years old is brought back from the dead through an experimental procedure, but his new life may not be all that it seems.
Part 3: Old Michael McKenzie (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg421049#msg421049)
An old blind man lives alone with his caretaker, Clarence.

Halloween Horror Special 2021:
Part 1: The Shadow Under the Door (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg426339#msg426339)
A student who moves into a new dorm hears something under his bedroom door at night, out in the hallway.
Part 2: Just Fall Apart (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg426663#msg426663)
A man begins to experience mysterious pains and injuries. Slowly, he begins to realize that his body is falling apart, and there’s nothing he can do about it.
Part 3: The Bleakest Chambers of the Heart’s Desire (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg426848#msg426848)
It is incredible, nay, horrific, what happens to a photo when it transforms from a photo of someone you love, to the photo of someone who has hurt you.
[close]


Assorted Poetry:
Down (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg387049#msg387049)
Oda de las Palmas (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg391635#msg391635)
The Rays of the Sun No Longer Shine On Me (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg394474#msg394474)
Pane (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg397534#msg397534)
Crossed by Fire (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg406477#msg406477)
Scents of Life (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg412560#msg412560)
No Regrets? (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg421957#msg421957)
Coda (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg422019#msg422019)
The Eternal Sting of a Lust for Life (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg422817#msg422817)
Eel (https://www.ninsheetmusic.org/forum/index.php?topic=5680.msg424369#msg424369)



In Progress:
A Quiet Peace:
Part 1 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg225405#msg225405)
Part 2 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg226018#msg226018)
Part 3 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg230495#msg230495)

The Retriever:
Part 1 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg243585#msg243585)
Part 2 (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg259022#msg259022)



Coming Soon:
Cold Planet:
Inspired by episodes of the Twilight Zone. Takes place during an alternate Cold War, where nuclear war has engulfed the planet, and attracted the attention of an alien force...
The Adventures of Louise:
A tale told from the perspective of a dog named Louise (her entire life; spoiler: the dog dies in the end), who strives to please her owners: "Sir," "Ma'am," "Boy," and "Girl."
Frozen in Time:
In the future, a disgraced detective is given a chance to redeem himself by using an experimental time machine to solve a murder that has baffled all others. He soon finds that the culprit has a few tricks of his own.



NOT Coming Soon:
Annie and Zed: Mystery at the City of Crystal
A murder on the coastal-half of Coral City prompts Annie to once again seek Zed's help. There, they find an ominous message from the murderer, warning them to stay away. The message is signed only with the name "Shadow Hand." Who or what is the Shadow Hand?
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on June 26, 2013, 01:03:47 AM
The Final Choice part 1

     In the dark room, an old man lay on a bed, coughing and wheezing, occasionally scratching at his sides as if he had an itch that kept returning to taunt him. He motioned over to a robot that was laying on a wide nightstand to his left; it moved away and out of the ajar door. Minutes later, it returned with a young man wearing dark black boots, with neat, combed hair almost as dark as his boots. The young man pulled a chair forward and sat down by the bedside. The old man reached upward and, with great effort, tried to sit up; although he was not able to move very far, he seemed satisfied with his progress, as he began to speak to the young man.

"Son... my days are numbered... soon... cough... you shall be the new Emperor! Learn from my mistakes; do not.. cough cough... abuse... cough... your..."

     The robot pushed the young man out of the way, nearly toppling his chair over. He got up and walked out of the room, as if he had become used to this event- as if it was a daily routine, and his father would be all right the next day. However, his father was right: his would not last much longer; if fact, he would not even last until the next morning. The death legally placed the young man in the position of Emperor- as dictated by the treaty created many generations ago- despite the fact that he was not yet older than eighteen...

********************

     In the past, there was a great war between two mighty countries. On one side were those who believed that the government should be placed in complete power: they thought that if an "unbiased" organization could effectively "control" the people by eliminating dissidents, peace would be brought to society. However, the other side believed that a more traditional monarchy would be enough to bring in a new era of prosperity.

     The war was long and bloody; although the "Peacebringers," as they came to be know, had the upper hand in the war, constant fighting had ravaged their armies and country as well. To end the conflict, they worked on a compromise with their enemy: a single individual would be given the power to decide the fate of people deemed "dissidents" by an elected council of individuals. The treaty was signed and memories of the war quickly faded as rebuilding and assimilation of the two countries began. However, unbeknownst to all others, the former "Peacebringers" worked to manipulate the treaty, placing one of their own leaders in the position of emperor, and slowly increasing his power, to the point where the council merely served as "advisors" to the emperor. Upon the first emperor's death, the remaining "Peacebringers" hastily placed his son in command, thus establishing a new dynasty of emperors, willing to follow the commands of the "Peacebringers."

     In the modern day, the organization once know as the "Peacebringers" has essentially faded away, but their corrupted ideals still remain at the core of the government...

********************

     A boy got off of a train along with a crowd of other students. If somebody were to pass him on the street, they would see nothing special in him: he was short, had messy, black hair (which almost appeared to be a dark grey at first) which he kept running his fingers through nervously, and wore small, round glasses which seemed to be ready to fall off at any moment. It was obvious that he felt uncomfortable at this place.

     Students were required to attend this "special" academy for four years after they turned sixteen; the academy itself was nothing extraordinary except for the fact that it was meant to assess the capabilities of students- whether they were fit for "common" office jobs, law enforcement, or elite army positions... if they were deemed unfit for any such work, they were often eliminated; after all, it was reasoned, if they could only do jobs that were done by robots, how could they benefit society? In a few rare cases, however, other options became unavailable depending on the student's range of technological skill.

     The boy looked around and listened attentively to the conversations of the older students who had arrived before his group- mostly those about the new students- which were littered by scoffs, sneers, and other generally unfavorable remarks. Suddenly, one of the older boys pushed his way straight through the crowd, and stopped in front of the boy, inspecting him as if he was a scrawny fish he had caught after a long day of fishing. The older boy was tall and imposing: it was clear that he had authority among others his age, although the boy suspected that he gained his status through intimidation rather than kind leadership.

     After the older boy had gotten enough entertainment by inspecting the boy, he pushed him to the ground and merely walked away. The boy's bag dropped to the ground, and a few things spilled out, including what looked to be an oval metal plate or disk, and an article of clothing that resembled an officer's jacket- it was faded, and most likely had been worn frequently. He jumped up and tried to hurriedly put the things back, but stopped momentarily when he looked up...

TO BE CONTINUED, IN PART 2
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: K-NiGhT on June 26, 2013, 01:40:12 AM
is this a story you are writing
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on July 03, 2013, 11:01:41 PM
The Final Choice part 2

     Melinda got off the train far ahead of the other students; she needed some quiet time to think to herself. Her brother had attended this academy (as it was the only one in the area) until he was crippled by a machinery malfunction during a training exercise, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, and with only one arm. Although he had been among the top students beforehand, excelling in all of the physical and intellectual assessments, the government refused to "salvage" him with expensive prosthetics and surgeries: even with all the technology available to them, they might not have been able to bring him back to his prime, something they did not see as a valid risk to take. Her parents pleaded with the emperor's council directly, begging them to find a way to keep him alive by finding a purpose for him in society. Unfortunately, their pleas fell on deaf ears. She felt hateful about the incident, and she knew she wasn't the only one who felt that way. Her parents had been shattered; she had heard that Calvin, one of her brother's friends, had become bitter and antagonistic- she did not look forward to seeing him, but though it might be better to at least talk with him.

     She looked to her right, and could see a tall boy with dark hair pacing back and forth in front of a line of students about his age, scrutinizing their uniforms and complaining how shoddy they looked. Melinda hoped that that wasn't Calvin, but she was fairly certain it was. Hesitantly, she walked over, and caught his attention.

"Hello?? You're Calvin? I believe you knew my brother; his name was..."

"Yes," as if his response did not convey his displeasure enough, he scowled. "I knew him. But that was... long ago... we should forget about the past: ignore irrelevant details that no longer affect us."

"It was only last year!"

"So it was... now, do you have anything important to tell me, or are you just going to laze around like these incompetent scum!?" Upon saying his final words, he pointed over toward the line; a few of the students stopped slouching and stood up straight, as if they were already soldiers. "If I remember from my own first years, your class orientation is in under an hour. I suggest you find your way around the building before then."

     Melinda walked away, sulking, and picked up a map lying in one of several piles of maps on a table. She sat down on a bench and began reading it... she was never good with maps...

     After about ten minutes, the other group of first-year students arrived. Melinda set down the map and looked up to see Calvin push his way through the crowd and knock a younger boy to the ground. Picking the map up, she got up from the bench and walked toward the boy, who was, by now, picking up the things that had dropped from his bag, and putting them back in- she thought she saw him stuff an officer's jacket into the bag, which she found rather odd, as any war keepsakes (if any still existed from past wars) were destroyed. The boy looked up at her, and she stopped; his gaze was piercing and attentive, and in a way, unnerving: it reminded her of the government officials on the weekly broadcasts, urging citizens to conserve water, plant a garden, or do other actions of the like.

"I need a bit of help; I think I'm lost. Are you good with maps?"

"Certainly," he took the map Melinda handed to him, and his eyes darted across it, "where do you need to go?"

     The boy showed Melinda where she need to go (and he as well, as they were both first-year students): the very room across from where she had been sitting minutes ago.

"Thank you!" Melinda turned to walk away, but stopped suddenly. "I never asked your name; mine is Melinda."

"My name is Bartholomew. Bartholomew Akillias."

********************

     The young man- now emperor- hunched over some sort of control panel, watching several screens. The door slid open behind him, and a floating robot came in.

It announced its presence by stating: "What did you think of the boy, sir?"

"I'm not too sure of him, EVaC. He seems too... hesitant... too... closed to the world..."

"What leads you to that conclusion, sir?"

"It's more of a guess than a solid deduction." He slammed his fists against the panel several times.

"Troubled, sir? About your father?"

"Not just him. Too many of my close friends have died too soon: the only people I've known my whole life."

"I believe that is the way of life, sir. It is said that we should ignore irrelevant details that no longer affect us."

"But it is affecting me, EVaC!"

"Because you let it, sir."

The man sighed. "You won't die, will you EVaC?"

"Of course not, sir, at least, not until you do. I am only a computer system stored in the basement of the royal palace, manifesting myself through these various robots that have been made for this purpose. When you die, sir, I shall become obsolete, and a new EVaC unit shall be designed for the new heir, centered around their needs and behaviors."

     The young emperor stared toward the screens. On the largest of them, what appeared to be a courtroom was displayed... a middle-aged man was brought forth into the bright lights in front of the judge...

********************

     Melinda leaned over the sink for support; she felt nauseous, and thus, wasn't looking forward to the day's classes. Only a week had passed since she first arrived at the academy, and, at the time, she had felt perfectly fine- at least healthwise. She lifted up a flat electronic device and stared at its screen; after pushing a few buttons, she brought up her assigned schedule for the day: First was Computer Skills: Programming Androids to Prepare Food; after that was Physical Assessment: Running an Obstacle Course and Climbing; then was a break... Melinda wondered if she could even make it that far...

There was a knock at the door: "Hurry up, Melinda!" one of her roommates said, "We're going to be late!"

     Melinda stumbled through the hallway, clutching her stomach, and looking as if she would being vomiting at any time. The hall was surprisingly empty; only a few others were passing by, but they seemed to pay her no heed. Carelessly walking along, she stepped on somebody's foot.

"S...ssorry!" she gasped out.

"Be more careful..." Calvin turned to looks at her. "Ah, it's you again. You don't look too good; has this rattrap been too much for you!?" He snorted.

"I think I'm sick..."

"Well, then, you need to think some more. There's a clinic somewhere on the grounds." He walked away.

     Melinda entered the computer lab; aside from her and her roommate, she could see nobody else there.

"So much for being late..." she muttered to herself; she glanced up at the clock: 16 minutes before the hour...

     She glanced around the row of computers in front of her, and saw a boy (she deduced that it was Bartholomew) sitting down at a computer, staring intently at a list, and sometimes typing fervently.

"What are you doing here?" Melinda asked.

     Bartholomew nearly jumped out of his chair, and the list disappeared before Melinda could see what was on it.

"Nothing, nothing!! Just... uh, well... hacking..."

"Oh... is that even allowed?"

"Uh... yes... as long as you don't damage anything or get into any off-limit government sites. It really helps your prospects if you can find- and fix, of course- potential security exploits. Everything you do on these computers is monitored, you know.. not like these computers are any different." He uttered a quiet, forced laugh.

"What was that list you had up??"

"Nothing important... just a list of imports and exports of local warehouses within the past few months..." he scratched his knuckles nervously. "But... uh... how are you?"

TO BE CONTINUED, IN PART 3
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on July 07, 2013, 11:46:41 AM
The Final Choice part 3

     Melinda trudged along the hallway; she didn't think she could carry on any longer while feeling so terrible. The computer class hadn't been too bad, except for the nearly constant exposure to food (which merely escalated her nausea). She lifted the flat device and looked at her schedule... if she could recall correctly, the next class was...

     She looked at the screen in confusion: her schedule was completely blank for the rest of the day. Shocked- and somewhat worried, at first- she rushed toward the head warden's office, and hurriedly knocked at the door.

"Come in," she could hear a gruff and generally unnerving voice through the door.

     Melinda entered the office; it was barren of any decorations or furniture besides a few chairs, a dark oak desk, and a vertical row of glass shelves behind that; the room itself was painted a light shade of green, with grey baseboard. The warden himself was an imposing man, who would've been rather scary had he not been wearing a campaign hat that, unbeknownst to him, was tilted slightly to one side. If one did not count his eyebrows or eyelashes, he had not a speck of hair on his head.

"Sir, I had a question!"

"What is it?"

"My schedule... it's been cleared. I was worried that it might be an error, so I decided to come here."

"Very well."

     The warden snatched the device from Melinda, and placed it on top of a cube which was on his desk. The cube glowed momentarily, and then dinged. The warden picked up the device.

"The... rearrangement... of your schedule appears to be intentional; our system can find no errors in the change. Have a... good... day..." He gritted his teeth as he spoke, as if reluctantly telling her this information.

     Melinda exited the office in awe, realizing that the absence of classes for today allowed her plenty of time to visit the clinic Calvin had mentioned to her earlier. She figured it wouldn't take her too long to find it, even if she had to wander around a bit. Then she began vomiting on the floor...

********************

     EVaC hovered besides the young emperor, his spindly mechanical limbs whirring and clicking.

"EVaC... could you please leave me alone for once? I'm having trouble concentrating with you around."

"I am sorry, sir, but I fear that I have actually not been around enough. For most of the day, sir, you have been keeping me inactive; I would actually prefer to monitor you more. I can detect that you are becoming increasingly troubled as the days go on."

"Being in this rattrap has been an unpleasant experience."

"Remember, sir, that you came here of your own will. If your father had had his way, you would still be receiving education from me and top teachers around the world."

"I felt as if I needed to get closer to the people I would be ruling... they're the future of our society, EVaC! A society that... that lives in fear- fear of the government, an entity that should protect the people."

"Sir, I am required to tell you that the government does protect people: by eliminating those who might become a hindrance to our society, we can lead the people to a more prosperous future.  You must accept your responsibilities if you are to carry out your duty."

     The young emperor reclined in his chair, and let out a sigh.

"And, may I ask you, sir, why did you clear the girl's schedule? What benefits did you see from such an action, even though I advised you against doing so? If you are looking to impress her- another action which I strongly recommend against- you are going about it in all the wrong ways."

"I'm not trying to impress anybody; I highly doubt she even suspects me of doing so. We barely talked before she went to the clinic, and I have a feeling that we won't meet again for some time when she gets back."

"But what if she becomes curious? What if she finds out more than she should? I know for a fact, sir, that her family holds a personal grudge against the council, and perhaps even the Emperor himself: your father, and now, you. If she discovers who you are, she might even try and harm you. If you are assassinated without any heirs, sir...!"

"What would happen then, EVaC?"

"As dictated by the Treaty of Silverwater, sir, the position of Emperor, and with it, the rest of the government, would be... dissolved... the people would be free to form their own governing body."

"I don't think that would be such a bad thing, EVaC."

     The emperor got up from his chair and stormed out of the room. After he was sure the young man was gone, EVaC moved himself closer to the control panel, and powered on the computer system... he browsed over a list of names, looking for one in particular...

********************

"Is this the book you are looking for?" the robot stated, mechanically.

"Yes, thank you," Melinda said.

     The robot released its grasp on the book, and it slid into Melinda's hand. Just earlier, Melinda had felt sick, but after a few hours' treatment at the clinic on the academy's grounds, her condition was bearable. Since she still had some time left in the day, she had decided to come to the library to research something: the surname of that odd boy, Bartholomew Akillias. She recollected hearing that name somewhere before, but she couldn't recall where. The vast library of the academy might be a good place to start, she reasoned; although she could just as easily use the databanks, she felt slightly uneasy knowing that Bartholomew could probably find what she had been doing without much effort. The book she now held in her hand was titled: Important Figures in the History of Our Grand Nation, By Surname, A-M. It looked brand new; the pages smelled fresh, and the binding was undamaged. She opened the book and began to search for the name; it wasn't long before she found what she had hoped- or dreaded. The name "Jeremiah Akillias," and beside it: Member of the Emperor's Council from the time he turned thirty-two years old until his death. The date of his death was a little more than three months ago.

     Shaken, she returned the book to its place. Jeremiah Akillias, Bartholomew's father, had been one of those who had refused to acknowledge her parent's pleas to save her brother; for all intents and purposes, he was her brother's executioner. Melinda was enraged: Bartholomew, who, being the child of a member of the council, had available to him premium education, had been sent to (or worse, chosen to be sent to) this... this prison... to crush the other students to the dust- to show them how "superior" he was to them. Leaving the library, Melinda headed straight to her room; along the way, she saw Bartholomew among a crowd of others, blending in like a snake... she glared at him with rage.

     Upon arriving at her room, she opened the door and turned on the light. She meandered toward the bed, and started to collapse on it; she felt something underneath her. Reaching for whatever-it-was, she felt a small envelope beneath. Bringing it out, she could see that it was colored a charred grey; she opened it:

"To the recipient of this letter, Melinda Coleman:

     We regret to inform you that the mother and father of you, the recipient, have been killed during the crossfire between law enforcement and protesters outside of the Judicial Building. Since it cannot be determined whether or not the two, Jean and Frederick Coleman, were part of the protest, they cannot be disgraced."

     The letter was not signed. Melinda fell back on the bed, sobbing, and screaming.

TO BE CONCLUDED, IN PART 4
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on July 08, 2013, 05:11:46 AM
The Final Choice part 4

     The young emperor entered the dark room again. Seeing the largest of the screens powered on, he walked over to it.

"EVaC... where are you?"

    He got no response. Sitting down at the chair once more, he pressed a few buttons, and brought up a list of names, all of them in red. Somewhat afraid, he hurried across the list... Melinda Williams... no, that wasn't her... Melinda Coleman... he clicked on the name, and a picture was brought up: the picture of the girl he had become familiar with over his time at the academy. He typed in a command- it resulted in an error message. He tried once more, with the same result.

"EVaC; come here now!"

From behind a curtain, EVaC came out. "What do you need, sir?"

"I cannot alter the list of scheduled eliminations. There's something wrong with the system."

"No, sir, there is nothing wrong; Melinda Coleman has been scheduled for immediate execution. I was worried about her: not only that she would find out who you are, but that you would develop feelings for her- she is a dissident, and not worthy to stand in your presence... let alone live."

"You are not the emperor, EVaC. You have no authority to make such decisions. As long as I am the Emperor, I shall have supreme authority. As long as I am Emperor, I shall keep the promise I made to my father: I will do whatever I can to benefit my people- even if it means death for me."

"Do not be so outrageous, sir!"

     The young man lashed out at EVaC, pushing his spindly limbs away as they tried to claw at him. Pushing a button on the bottom on the robot, EVaC's body collapsed into an oval disk. Going back over to the control panel, he brought up another list, and searched for his own name...

********************

     Melinda continued to sob as she was chained to her chair; she was alone in the room, although she could see other empty chairs along the walls. On both ends of the room was a door: one led back to life, and another led to death. She didn't know how long had passed, but after some time, a boy was brought into the room; he wore a faded grey officer's jacket. He was led to the chair next to her, and sat down; she was unchained.

"Bar... Bartholomew?"

"Yes, it's me."

"Why are you here?" she sniffled slighty. "To rescue me?"

"I can't, unfortunately; I came to join you."

"But... but... how did you get here... your father? Jeremiah? Wouldn't that offer you freedom?"

"Jeremiah was my uncle. My father was named Lawrence... but to answer your question, I came here of my own will."

     Melinda leaned closer to him, and wrapped her arms around him. Bartholomew whispered something in her ear, that seemed to calm her slightly... the few minutes they had left slowly ticked away... it felt almost like an eternity...

********************

     All the television and special broadcast screens around the country displayed the same video; it was unlikely that anybody missed it:

     A young man stepped forward into the light; he was standing in a small room with red curtains all around its edges. He wore tall, dark boots which boosted his height. His hair was ruffled, and he had on a pair of small, round glasses, which were precariously balanced. He cleared his throat, and brought forth a manuscript.

"Greeting, citizens of our grand country! I am Bartholomew Akillias; since the death of my father, the previous Emperor, Lawrence Akillias, I have been your Emperor. During my brief reign, I have gone among you, and those of my own age, to observe your living conditions. Needless to say, what I saw... frightened me... you live in fear of the government; for you, every day is a fight for your lives. My father urged me throughout my life, and at the time of his death, to be a better ruler than he had been. However, it has dawned on me that, as long as the position of emperor continues to exist, I cannot fulfill my true duty. According to the... Treaty of Silvertree... uh..." he shifted the papers in his hand... "Silverwater... the only way this can occur is if the current Emperor dies while in power without any heirs- one cannot merely retire."

     He paused, as if giving time for his message to sink in.

"That is why, by the time you will be watching this message, I will be dead. Doing so will allow you, the people, to reform the government..." he scratched his forehead. "When the treaty was created, the 'Peacebringer Society' predicted that the first Emperor, one of their own members, and my great-great-grandfather, would be too greedy to sacrifice themselves for the people, as with all subsequent Emperors. They were groomed and conditioned to carry on the corrupted principles that the so-called 'Peacebringers' had built their own country on..."

     His voice began to quiver.

"In short... you... you all... are free... as our ancestors were, long, long ago... I wish you the best of luck in rebuilding what has been destroyed..."

     He walked away, back into the darkness.

THE END
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: Dudeman on July 08, 2013, 05:45:27 AM
Wow. Incredible job, BDS! I loved the ending, I loved the characters, heck, I didn't even realize Bartholomew was the Emperor until the very end! Please keep it up!
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on August 31, 2013, 12:38:05 AM
Angel Wings part 1

     Officer Hallstone spouted various profanities as he saw the shredded remains of the back-left tire on his vehicle.

"They don't make 'em like they used to..." he grumbled to himself, "there're better tires... at a junkyard..."

     He went around back, opened the trunk, and searched for the spare tire inside. To his surprise, he couldn't find it. As he turned toward his left, he saw the front-left tire: it had also been shredded.

********************

     Officer Hallstone had been sent to investigate the disappearance of two hikers in this forest; as he had been a forest ranger in his youth, and was an officer longer than nearly everybody else in his department, he was the unanimous choice for the investigation. Some people said that all the others were too superstitious to set foot in that forest...

     Hallstone opened the driver-side door of his car, and turned on the police radio. There was nothing but static. Backing up from the car, he pulled out his cell phone, and tried to turn it on; it's screen remained blank. Once more, he grumbled about the cheapness of modern products.

********************

     Fortunately, he still had a map in the trunk. Glancing at it, he saw that there was a town close by. From his estimations, it shouldn't take any more than a few hours to get there... but the sun was already starting to set? Had he been driving for that long? He recalled setting off for the forest by noon: had it really taken him many hours to reach this place?

     To his left, he heard a small fluttering noise; looking in that direction, he saw a small blue jay. Nothing to be scared of, of course, he reassured himself...

********************

     He set off as soon as possible, taking the map and some supplies with him; he was hopeful that he'd be out of the forest by sundown. The tall trees obscured the already fading light of the sun, making it hard to see anything other than the road he walked aside... and a few squirrels that he could hear scurry up trees...

     After a while of walking, Officer Hallstone realized the futility of his fast-paced trek: he was beginning to get fatigued, it was already dark, and it appeared as if there was no way he'd get much closer to his destination (so much for the "reliable" map, he thought). He could barely make out a wide gap between a group of trees, and decided to set up camp there; that was something that did not take him too long: despite his advancing age, he wasn't completely feeble.

     As he lay underneath his makeshift tent- nothing more than a sheet of cloth held down by branches, something that should suit his purpose well, as there wasn't any wind to knock it over- Officer Hallstone thought about what he had heard about this forest. This wasn't any ordinary forest, they said. Something you can hear wailing, they said, like somebody is playing a church organ in the distance...

     While he was thinking, he didn't notice a large shape swoop down; however, he heard it when it slammed down onto a branch. Just an owl, he reassured himself... just another owl...

********************

     Officer Hallstone continued to walk as soon as the sun had risen enough to light the whole road. Not much interesting occurred until he reached a fork in the road. Looking once more on the map... he didn't see it at all: nothing indicated that there was supposed to be a fork here- that perplexed him. He knew that his map should be up to date... eventually, he decided to take the path on the right-hand side. After all, if he wasn't correct in his choice, he would always have time to turn back. And if he wasn't, he thought, he might actually discover something pertaining to his original objective. He did not notice the fallen and trampled "ROAD CLOSED: DO NOT PASS" signs that lay scattered around.

     The road quickly degraded until it was nothing more than a dirt path; Hallstone's curiosity propelled him to investigate further. Yes, he thought, this looks like a place where it'd be easy to get lost. Perhaps I'm actually on the right track.

     Then, the path disappeared completely, giving way to another group of trees loosely clumped together. He kept going, until the path went out of view... up ahead, there was some sort of building: it was covered with vines and bushes. It had a few windows, and the door was stuck in a half-opened position. He walked up to it, and, after looking around the front, walked inside...

TO BE CONTINUED, IN PART 2
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on September 01, 2013, 11:49:45 PM
Angel Wings part 2

Date: 5 July 1986

     We have recovered the object, what appears to be an advanced spacecraft, that crashed in the forest just south of the Canadian border, and have brought it a bit farther south to study it. A creature, unconscious, was brought along with it. It appears injured, but otherwise fine.

     Residents of the local town were surprised by the object, which flashed across the sky last night, and in the morning by a military detachment in their area. We told them that we were retrieving a radioactive meteorite that was being tracked for research purpose. I just hope they believed us; the last thing we need are locals snooping about around here.

********************

     Officer Hallstone observed the inside of the building. Aside from some murky puddles on the floor, cracked tiles, and papers and equipment strewn about, it looked pristine: chairs were still at their desks, pens in their holders, what few paintings there were appeared vibrant and new, and memos were still pinned to their pinboards...

     After walking around, he realized that the outer building was simply a wide corridor built around a massive interior square structure. So far, however, he had seen no entrances to this inner square, or even anything indicating that there was actually something inside of it. As he turned the corner, though, he saw a dark metallic door, and a panel besides it, with a keycard hanging down, forlorn.

     He picked up the keycard, and inserted it into the slot. The door opened. He moved to walk toward it, but the keycard began sliding out of the slot; grabbing a trashcan from across the room, he propped it against the keycard to keep it in. It wouldn't be good if he got himself trapped inside, he thought.

********************

Date: 8 July 1986

     The spacecraft, it seems, was damaged by space debris and was forced to land here on Earth. What appear to be its navigational computers are damaged beyond repair, and thus, we cannot determine its original course. Nothing else in the spacecraft is of use: it's made of nothing but materials found here on Earth, and the propulsion systems were apparently broken off when it was hit by the debris. Our superiors won't be pleased by our findings, I regret to say.

     The creature, though, is still very much alive; it has recently regained consciousness. Most unfortunately, though, our tests have shown that it sustained partial brain damage during the crash, and thus, doesn't seem to remember anything before its time here. Even it if hadn't, though, we doubt that it would've been able to communicate with us: its vocal chords are unable to reproduce human speech- only hoarse sounds resembling those of an pipe organ.

     One problem we've had with containing the creature is its wings: it often has strange urges to fly up and around, slamming itself against the glass. Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be strong enough to shatter the industrial-strength material, despite its size. Still, we're worried it might injure itself. Several others have proposed ways to stop this behavior, though I'm not too fond of any of the proposed methods.

********************

     Once again, Officer Hallstone turned to the door. He paused before walking through. The corridor inside was about as wide as two people standing tightly shoulder-to-shoulder; on the far end of the corridor was another door, with a panel close by. This panel responded to his touch, and the door opened. He walked through the second door.

     The inside was dark; he brought out his flashlight, and looked around. He could barely make out a light switch in the darkness, and switched it on. A single light flickered on and off sporadically.

     Suddenly, the door began to close. He grabbed something on the floor, and pushed it between the door and the wall in order to keep the door open. Although he didn't see what he grabbed, it was, in fact, a human skull.

     Returning his attention to the light, he could see something written on the wall in a dark, red color. Shining his flashlight directly on it, he could completely read it:

WHO WOULD STEAL THE WINGS FROM AN ANGEL?

     A twinge of fear came over Hallstone. He wanted to turn and run out the door, but something else caught his eye.

********************

Date: 10 July 1986

     A few of the researchers have taught the creature to read and write in the English language; it's very intelligent, it seems, and learns quickly. This project may yet have some potential.

********************

     Bones lay scattered on the floor. Various pieces of shredded clothing and accessories. There was a purse with the strap missing, a pair of shoes without laces, and two backpacks laying side by side, with granola bars and broken bags of trail mix, still fresh, pouring out.

     Was there somebody still in here? The thought passed through Officer Hallstone's mind. Perhaps somebody had gotten trapped in here, gone insane, and killed anybody who stumbled upon his dark refuge...

     Stepping over the piles, he dared to go further. On the wall was a shattered glass case: it had fallen from the wall and spewed its contents all around. Littered in front of the case was a bunch of shriveled grey feathers, and a dried golden substance...

TO BE CONCLUDED, IN PART 3
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on September 03, 2013, 10:39:19 AM
Angel Wings part 3

Date: 18 July 1986

     After we told them that some of the researchers had been teaching the creature more about the English language, some of the handlers have dared to stay inside the enclosure for long periods of time, reading to it. Although I don't exactly agree with the potential risk they're taking, their time with the creature seems to pacify it.

Date: 19 July 1986

     Inspired by the idea of reading to the creature, I suggested that we install a screen in the enclosure to display artwork. After observing it attentively watch the screen, I have deduced that it has great fascination with religious art over all other kinds... and perhaps we can finally give this creature a proper name.

********************

     Walking halfway across the room, Officer Hallstone could see that this place was built in a circular pattern, unlike the previous square shape of the outer corridor. He stopped when he saw another door, and looked inside, but it was too dark, and there were no lights. His flashlight was beginning to die, so he didn't bother wasting it exploring more of the interior room. He decided to keep going around.

     Half-fumbling around in the dark, Officer Hallstone could feel more spots of dried blood against the wall. More writing, perhaps, he thought... then, he tripped over a desk, accidentally pulling out a drawer in an attempt to regain his balance. He fell on top of a skeleton, clutching a single sheet of paper in his hand. Officer Hallstone grabbed the paper, and got up. Leaning against the wall once more, he felt another light switch, and turned it on: this light was still dim, but it was just barely enough to read the paper.

********************

Date: 31 July 1986

     I have become displeased with my colleagues. Pressured by government officials (who apparently have no regard for ethical research), they made a hasty and quite foolish decision. After discovering the interesting properties of the creature's (the name "Angel" has caught on among a few, but not all, of us) feathers, they tried plucking one. It withered not but a second later. Then they decided to sedate Angel and find out how it preserves its feathers naturally. They discovered a pair of glands in its wings that secrete a special fluid that fills its feathers.

     Thus, the whole lot of them felt a need for an immediate amputation. The two glands seem to operate fine outside of its body, but I'm concerned about what psychological effects might occur from such a procedure...

Date: 4 August 1986

     One of Angel's handlers was found dead inside the enclosure; only his bones and internal organs were left. We've determined that the cause of death was a stroke, which is something that relieves me, but there's still the concern about what happened to the rest of him.

********************

     Officer Hallstone read the page:

Date: 18 August 1986

Angel escaped. Sealed inner and outer laboratory doors. If you're reading this, run for the door. Take the keycard from the outer door and run. SEAL THE DOORS.

     He dropped the page and looked up at the words written in the man's blood:

WHO WOULD STEAL THE WINGS FROM AN ANGEL?

     He stared around the room. There were bones smashed against the walls. Above them all was written the haunting words:

WHO WOULD STEAL THE WINGS FROM AN ANGEL?

    Officer Hallstone knew not what deranged beast lurked in this place, but what he did know is that he didn't want to meet it face-to-face. He ran for the door, shoving aside fallen chairs, bones, papers... the sound of a raspy church organ, deafeningly loud, roared behind him. He was breathing rapidly; he didn't bother to even consider looking back. The door was in sight, at last! He leapt for the door!

     A clawed hand caught his foot. His hand scraped against the door. He saw the skull he had used as a doorstop: he had to push it out of the way.

    Officer Hallstone kicked and struggled against the creature's grasp. He reached his hand out a bit farther... just a bit farther, and... and...

     The skull dislodged from the door, and it began to slide close. He couldn't save himself, but he could stop this monster from being unleashed upon the world! One last act in his final moments! That was his dying thought, as he was thrown against the wall.

********************

     A claw slid through the closing door.

"What... do your wings look like... are they pretty... like... mine...?"

THE END
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on September 10, 2013, 10:41:02 AM
A Quiet Peace part 1

     A man shoots up from bed as his alarm blares, groggy and generally looking as if he isn't too keen on actually getting out of his bed. This man is no average John Doe, however. No, the man you see before you is one Mr. Joel Strathem, mid-sixties, a man with a lot of power and an ego to match—an ego which, this very day, will make his britches feel just a little too tight for comfort, for what may be the first time in his entire life.

     Strathem's morning routine was nothing of note; his morning commute was as boring as ever. Though he enjoyed the comfy suburbs where he made his home, his company's headquarters was surrounded by city roads clogged with traffic; being the head of one of the largest growing tech companies in the midwest had its benefits, though: for one, he always arrived at work an hour later than any of the other employees—not a minute early nor late—and nobody could complain. His company mostly developed downsized recording devices for private investigators, but they also worked with local police and the FBI, jobs that had earned them a good, strong reputation among the surveillance industry.

     Just as soon as Strathem dropped into his office chair, his secretary barged in, pushing the door open just before it had fully closed.

"Uh, sir?" she blurted out, "There's a Mr. Mueller down in the lowest floor that wants to see you."

     Strathem couldn't help but groan internally. Richard Mueller had been relegated to the basement years ago; he was a visionary, sure, but his ideas were far too ahead of his time, and, Strathem thought, he was even a little bit on the insane side. He figured that giving Mueller exclusivity of the "lowest floor" would make him less of a nuisance to himself and the other employees. Plus, he always kept all the supplies organized well; if he couldn't be fired, why not put him to some work that was actually useful to the company?

"What does that little basement rat want?" he grumbled, quite loudly. His secretary looked slightly taken aback; rarely had she heard him so crass, even though others had heard him much worse.

"He said that it's been a while since you checked on him and he wants you to see what he's been working on."

"Fine, fine, tell him I'll be right down."

********************

     Strathem wasn't a man who liked being on his feet all the time, perhaps due to some back problems, or other ailments of an aging body, and the stairs leading down to the basement certainly did not treat him very well. There was an elevator down there, probably, but it was most likely blocked off by old machinery that nobody wanted but was too valuable to toss out. Bins of dusty paperwork were stacked neatly along the hallways; although Mueller's room wasn't a very long distance from the stairs, the arrangement of the bins made it seem longer, almost hazardous. Strathem would just as gladly have sent an intern down to satiate Mueller's request, but no, that would be too simple—the man wanted to hear straight from the boss.

     Mueller turned his chair right as Strathem entered the little room where he worked, catching his boss slightly off guard. Seeing Mueller's beady eyes and his almost inhumanly-narrow nose didn't help to make him feel any more comfortable.

"Urgh... what is it now, Mueller?"

"Hey there, boss man! Long time no see!" Mueller flashed a faint smile. "See, uh, I was working on this little nanobug here," he held up what looked to be a little box, no more than half an inch wide, with leg-like wires poking out the sides, "and I though you'd like to hear what it does. I think it could be the next big thing, I mean..."

     Strathem interrupted him by sliding over and grabbing the invention from Mueller's hand.

"This doesn't look very 'nano' to me," he complained.

"Well, that's just a nickname, technically, because I thought it would make it sound more interesting, sir!"

"It's junk," he spoke, as he curtly dropped it on the desk and headed toward the door.

"But sir!" Mueller sprung up from his chair as he tried to chase Strathem to the door, "I'd like to hear more of your thoughts on it! Please, for once? I mean, you haven't even heard what makes it... fascinating."

     Strathem paused, and let out a breath of air.

"This bug... this little jewel... once placed, it can maneuver itself around as necessary. The internal computation system tells it where the best place to hide is based on stimuli from the environment or from a controller. Of course, it's only a work in progress—it might not work so swimmingly in practice. But..." he stuttered a little, "if we had more testing for it..."

"Get your head out of the clouds, Mueller. It's not going to work." Once again, he started to walk away.

"If for once, just once, I could change your mind..." Mueller mused to himself. "Wait, wait!" he poked his body out of the door, "How much would you be willing to bet that it doesn't work? Would you be willing to... say... be a guinea pig for the first test?"

     For once, Strathem looked genuinely intrigued by something Mueller had suggested. Perhaps he saw a chance to stroke his own ego; maybe it was his attempt to finally try and get rid of Mueller. Either way, it was on.

     The details were quickly arranged. A team of four would be dispatched to Strathem's house early the next day to scout the house, calibrate the nanobug, and install it. Strathem would be given a brief brochure on the nanobug's behaviors—hastily written by Mueller for the occasion—and a month to locate it. He and Mueller would remain in contact through text messages, if Strathem so wanted; other than that, Strathem would have no outside help or interference. That night, Strathem went to bed confident, not knowing that his attempt at bravado would soon backfire.

TO BE CONTINUED, IN PART 2
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on September 18, 2013, 04:01:43 AM
A Quiet Peace part 2

     It was just before lunch the next day, Saturday afternoon, when the team arrived. They were four men from the company who had been given specific instructions by Mueller for the installation of the device. Part of those instructions included kicking Strathem out for a few hours. He didn't mind; after all, it meant he had an excuse to go out for lunch by himself to his favorite restaurant in the area. The hours passed quickly, and just before sunset he got a text from Mueller: "You can return home now. Have a good night sir." Once he got back home, Strathem spent the rest of his day watching TV. He went to bed early this night; after all, he wanted to get up bright and early the next day to start his search for the nanobug. He pridefully thought, despite the generous deadline offered to him, that it would take no more than a month to find the thing and shut Mueller up for good.

     Sunday morning, Strathem started his day by making breakfast—bacon and eggs, with extra juicy bacon, pan fried. His doctor always said all the grease in his diet was no good for his heart, but what the hell did he care? He wasn't young anymore, he deserved to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. He had just put everything on the plate when he got a notification: another text... from Mueller, this early? "Is that bacon I hear sizzling? Are you sure you should be having that?" Strathem wrinkled his nose. He didn't appreciate the sass; it was an unpleasant reminder that the bet was still on. His breakfast experience was soured with the thought of what he still had to do.

     He had brought along special auditory equipment that he could use to listen for subtle movements in the walls, some of the latest tech his company had been working on. Such equipment was usually used to listen in on conversations in other rooms from a distance, but he had changed the settings to make the equipment more sensitive. He could use the equipment to pick up on the usual sounds of the plumbing, traffic outside, and so on, and filter those sounds out in order to try and locate the device. However, he started his search through a more physical inspection around the house. He carefully moved furniture around and waved a metal detector around to find any anomalous devices, just in case Mueller's had instructed his team to place it somewhere out in the open where he might not think to conduct a thorough search of. The pamphlet he had been provided with didn't say that the device was necessarily restricted to moving inside the walls, of course. He started on the first floor, making his way through the living room, kitchen, entryway, and bathroom. It took much longer than expected, and by the time he was done with his search—with breaks for meals, of course—the day was almost over. He would have to wait to another day to finish his preliminary search. The next day he was back at work, though he could leave early if he so decided to.

********************
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 28, 2013, 09:53:21 AM
A Quiet Peace part 3

TO BE FINISHED: MAY 2017
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 28, 2013, 11:35:33 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2013 part 1
Pizza Delivery

     It was the twenty-eighth of October, and a fierce rainstorm raged outside. Marco Davis sat in his house, downing a bottle of rum. Since his father died when he was twenty-one, he had turned to drinking to ease his troubled thoughts, and spent most nights, especially ones like this, drunk. Despite this, though, he had become a successful entrepreneur; in fact, people now said that he practically ran the town.

     Marco kept drinking until he had drained the last drop of the bottle, and then, he smashed the empty bottle into the ground; he grumbled to himself and wandered towards the kitchen. He sorted clumsily through the cabinets, but found no more of his treasured rum.

     "Errrrr... gotta go down to the wine cellar again..."

     He again wandered around the house until he finally found the key, taped the the back of the wardrobe.

     "She thinks she can hide it from me... hah! She don't know..." he trailed off in his sentence, grumbling about barely audible gibberish."

     Half-falling down the steps to the wine cellar, he started to insert the key into the lock, but it fell to the ground with a clink. He reached down to pick it up, but then he heard a loud knocking at the door. He wondered who could be knocking at the door at this time of night and during this rough a storm, but he was drunk enough to not care, and as the knocking persisted, he made his way back up the stairs and to the front door. Throwing open the door, he screamed.

     "Who issss it!?!? What loon'd stand out in the rain and..."

     Nobody was there.

     "Mmmm... kids... grrrr..."

     Marco went back and opened up the wine cellar. Entering the slightly cold room, he stared around at the empty shelves of wine; only one had any bottles on it at all, and even then, there were only six bottles.

     "I need to go to store in the mornin' and get some wine, rum... and maybe some vodka... yeah, that sounds good."

     He pulled a random bottle from the shelf, left the room, locked the door, and ascended the steps once more. He went to the living room and sat down in a chair facing the television. Grabbing the remote, he turned the TV on- only static showed on the screen.

     KNOCK. KNOCK.

     KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK. The sound rang out across the house. Marco stumbled and slipped, trying to get up from the chair. He used the wine bottle to push himself up from the ground, and clambered to the door, smashing into the wall several times along the way. By the time he had reached the door, the knocks slowed a bit, but they were still there. Marco unlocked the front door's lock and opened it. A young man, wearing the uniform of a pizza delivery man, was standing there as the rain crashed around him; he held up a box of pizza.

    "Excuse me Mr. Davis. Your pizza is here. I'm afraid it's gotten cold."

     Marco screamed as if he had seen a ghost. He fell backwards and hit the floor hard. He scrambled to kick the door shut, and propped his back against it to keep it closed. Hyperventilating, he reached up and scratched at the handle, reaching for the lock; he hurriedly shut it with a click. He crawled across the floor back to the living room, and fell on his side, staring towards the TV. He lost consciousness...

********************

     When he woke up, the TV's screen was alight, but something was wrong: it was frozen on a single image- a news report. Marco wiped his eyes with his sleeve and looked up. "Rising businessman kills delivery man in a drunken rage," the report read. The date was October 28, 1993, twenty years ago.

     "No, no," he stammered, "that never happened. They never found out who did it. No, NO! AHHH!"

     He felt a tap on his shoulder.

     "You still owe me thirty dollars, Mr. Davis; I don't think my boss would be happy if I didn't return."

     "NO!" Marco cried out, "you're dead! You've been dead for twenty years! You're just a figment of my imagination- a drunken illusion!"

     "Alcohol is a bad influence, Mr. Davis."

     Marco ran over to the room's coffee table, and from one of its drawers he pulled a bent knife, still stained with faded red. He turned around and, reaching out, slashed at the phantasm. All of his attacks passed through harmlessly.

     "Like your weapon, you still haven't yet wiped the stains from your life. When, Mr. Davis, will you finally change?"

     "Leave me, demon! Leave me!"

     Marco screamed and ran through the phantasm, and tripped halfway down the stairs to the wine cellar. He found that he had previously left the key in the lock, and opened the door. He went through, and sorted through the shelves until he found the one with the bottles: he grabbed them by twos and threes and threw them at the wall, then, at long last, pushed the shelf over- it crashed backwards. He ran out after his mission was completed and locked the door once more. He climbed the stairs and ran to the front door. Throwing the door open, he ran out into the rain, which had diminished slightly since earlier, and kept going, the key still in hand. He ran across a muddy path and into the woods until he came upon an overflowing lake; standing at the edge, he pulled his arm back and catapulted the key as far away as he could.

     "Take your blood offering, demon! Take it and never haunt me again! Let me be free; free, I say!"

     Marco Davis fell to his knees in the muddy banks and screamed, and cried. At last, he would be free of his inner demons, whether they be alcohol, memories of a dead father, or just an ordinary pizza delivery man.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: SHE WILL COME
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 29, 2013, 10:32:47 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2013 part 2
She Will Come

     The hospital room was an absolute mess: for starters, the window was shattered, the curtains were ripped and draped over all the monitoring equipment, the bed was turned on its side, the bathroom door had been ripped off its hinges, and the TV wasn't working. When Charles's nurse first discovered the mess, she was stunned, and just stood there looking it for a few minutes until she called hospital's police. When they finally got up to the room, they discovered the young boy Charles huddled in a corner, shaking, speechless, pale... they tried to evoke a response for him, but even after an hour, he had said absolutely nothing. Then, during the middle of the night, he began speaking, although as if to himself. The night watchman called everybody over, and they listened to what the boy said, listening intently for the answers to their questions: where was the boy's father? What had happened? What caused the destruction? Soon, they would find out, but would they be ready for the answer?

********************

     You could say that the events leading up to the disaster started on October twenty-ninth, but then again, that would not be the whole story... in fact, the tale actually began on the twenty-fifth of October. If one wanted to go further, they could say that the events started on October seventeenth of the year 2002, when young Charles was born. But, to keep the length of our story reasonable, we shall start on October thirteenth of the year 2006.

     Charles's parents were Bernie and Victoria Hunston; for them, October was a wonderful month. It was the month when they had met, the month when they had married, and, most importantly to them, a time of new beginnings; thus, every one of their friends and relatives thought it was fitting when their only son Charles was born in October. In a tragic way, Charles was a new beginning for the couple... most certainly not one they had expected, and most certainly not a happy one. From birth, Charles was a very sickly child: doctors fought to keep him alive so he would hopefully grow stronger, and try to find out what exactly was wrong with Charles.

     Thus it was that, on the night of October thirteenth, 2006, Bernie and Victoria Hunston were engaged in a vicious argument, over Charles, of all people...

********************

     "You've stopped caring about Charles!" Victoria yelled at Bernie, "you've stopped caring about me!"

     "Yeah, so I'm at work half the day! We have medical bills to pay! I don't see you doing much else either!"

     "Well at least I'm concerned about him!"

     "How can you accuse me of not caring!?!?"

     And their loud "discussion" continued on for more than a half hour; it escalated even to physical violence, and, at the end, Victoria demanded that Bernie leave, or else she would call the police; he had no choice but to leave, still bitter over their argument, and the accusations she had hurled at him. Every day from then until the twentieth, Bernie called Victoria; the only time she answered, she renewed her threat to call the police if he came near her. Then, from the twentieth on, Bernie plotted... disgruntled and crazed, he searched across the city... for a hitman... no insurance policy, no discernible motive- nobody knew about the events of the previous week. The hitman would attack Victoria as she was running her daily errands, kill her, and take her purse- make it look like an ordinary mugging. Then the hitman would get in his car and drive off to avoid detection.

     On October twenty-ninth, 2006, Victoria Hunston was robbed and murdered; the unknown assailant drove off and was lost in traffic before anybody noticed him. His journey took him far north; for several weeks, however, he was delayed, and by the time he was nearing his destination, snow had already started to fall... when crossing a bridge, his car skidded on ice and crashed through the flimsy guard railing, and into the icy river below. Nobody would ever know what he had done- the plot he had partaken in- except for the man who hired him. In the wake of Victoria's death, Bernie became the sole caretaker of Charles; it seemed like Bernie forgot Victoria's death quickly, something that caused murmurings among his relatives...

********************

     Aside from the usual, nothing of significant happened in the lives of Charles and Bernie Hunston until the day of October the twenty-fifth, 2013. That was the day that Charles came down with a terrible case of pneumonia, and the day his father had to take him to the hospital for treatment and more observation.

     On the twenty-sixth of October, everything was normal. Bernie read to his child throughout the day as Charles coughed and wheezed; by the end of the day, Bernie was feeling well enough about his son's care that he left the hospital room for a few minutes to go walk around and talk to some friends. During this brief time, something did happen: someone unexpected entered Charles's room to pay him a visit. People who saw her in the hall couldn't describe her features very well, but called her a "shrouded woman," with "long, dark, flowing hair." She was apparently in the room for quite some time, and when Charles was awake, but he never mentioned to anybody about who she was or why she was there, and for some reason, nobody else did either, until after the disaster in the room.

     On the twenty-seventh of October, Bernie heard something that unnerved him.

     "She will come, she will come," Charles whispered.

     "Who?" Bernie asked, in a quiet voice.

     "She," Charles repeated.

********************

     The year before; twenty-fifth of October, 2012. Charles was playing out in the backyard of his family's house; the sun was starting to set.

     "Dinner will be ready soon, Charlie," his father called from inside, "do you want to come in now?"

     Charles saw something through the fence, and wasn't paying attention to what his father had said. After his father repeated his statement, Charles responded: "'Yeah, in a minute dad..."

     He walked up to the fence and looked through; he jumped back and gasped when he saw somebody on the other side, trying to reach through.

     "Charlie my boy... Charlie... come here..." a woman's voice spoke to him.

     He turned around and ran toward the house, calling for his father. Upon investigating the spot where Charles saw the woman, he found a pair of earrings that had dropped on the ground; he picked them up and, getting a closer look at them, shuddered.

     "It's nothing Charlie; it's all right..."

********************

     The twenty-eighth of October was uneventful; not even the woman from the previous night appeared. However, Charles seemed uncomfortable, for some reason, as if he was expecting something to happen soon, but when his father asked him what was wrong, he said that nothing was wrong. He refused to eat that night, saying that he felt queasy. The night went well.

     The next day, the twenty-ninth of October, Bernie awoke earlier than usual. He decided to leave his son alone for a bit and walk around. After he circled around the floor of the hospital a few times, he decided to go back to Charles's room. He tried to go back along the route he had been traveling before, but he quickly got lost; he stopped to get his bearings, and while he wasn't moving, he saw a woman walking slowly along the hall, away from him. He ran toward her to ask for directions, but she turned around, stared at him, then started running away.

     "Hey, wait!" he said to her, "I need to know where my son's room is! I'm lost!"

     He heard laughter, and when he was running out of breath, the woman got ahead of him and turned around a corner. When he finally caught up, he saw a woman in a hospital gown, lying on the floor, limp. He reached out to check her pulse, and found that she was dead.

     "Oh no," he whispered under his breath.

********************

     Bernie ran to the room, but he was so lost that he was too late by the time he had entered. He saw another woman, standing over the bed, looking at Charles. She didn't look like his wife, but for some reason, he knew it was her.

     "I'm the one you want; don't hurt him."

     "Yes, that's right," the chilling voice called out to him; he knew it was her, "I'm here to take you over; now, will you come willingly?"

     "There has to be somebody to take care of Charlie."

     "Someone better than you."

     "I made a mistake."

     "Yes you did. A fatal one, for me and for you." She leaped at him.

********************

     "There's something wrong with that boy; I think he was really affected by whatever happened in there," the officer stated as he was walking out of the building, talking to the boy's doctor, "I'm afraid we'll never know what really happened in there."

     The officer left the building; he saw a dropped cup on the ground, and went over to it, picking it up and placing it in the trash can. He looked up, and saw something in the bushes- or, rather, something wrong with the bushes. He got out his flashlight and turned it on: in the bushes were two bodies- one of a man and another of a woman in a hospital gown; the woman had a choke hold on the man. For some reason, he decided to look back up at the hospital. Almost directly above, he saw a broken window.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: THE TALE OF DR. GOODE
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 30, 2013, 11:58:22 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2013 part 3
The Tale of Dr. Goode

     Anthony Goode was born and raised an Englishman; he grew up in a small village on the coast of England. Goode always had high aspirations, and because of his wild dreams, he was teased and tormented by all of the other children of the village; one of the "silly" nicknames they gave him was "Knott" Goode, a name which, despire its unsatisfactory implications, stuck with Goode throughout his entire life, and a name he even frequently called himself, perhaps to spite those who once mocked him (or perhaps even out of habit).

     Orphaned by plague, Goode was taken in by an aristocratic couple who had lost their own child to the same plague. He quickly flourished and recieved a marvelous education for the time period; however, despite his adoptive parents' suggestions, he aspired to become a doctor.

     When the Black Plague swept across the land, Goode saw an opportunity to put his education and dreams to good use. He traveled to France and quickly became employed as a plague doctor; given his education, he was, of course, paid highly, but this mattered not to him. For six months, he traveled across the country, visiting small villages and large cities alike. Patients who had miraculously recovered from their illness touted him as the "golden doctor," able to cure any patient he visited... although these patients were but a very small minority of the patients he visited, Goode's reputation spread; every settlement affected by the plague, even the small hamlets, clamored for him to pay a visit to their homes.

     But all was not well even for Doctor Goode; in the midst of his travels, even the "golden doctor" refused to visit places completely swarmed by the plague, developing an irrational fear of death from disease, despite his already risky profession. Once, he opted to completely pass by a town where it was rumored that every inhabitant had contracted the plague, and where lepers roamed the streets. On the road leading to the town, he was accosted by a woman who begged him to heal her husband and two children: he merely drove her off with a stick, continuing on his way. Not too long after, Goode was stopped in his tracks before he could return to Paris, afflicted by gangrene. His foot was amputated, and after finding a suitable wooden replacement, he eventually retired and ventured back to England with the money he had amassed.

     Many years later, Goode received a letter informing him to travel to a location somewhere near the outskirts of London; the only purpose for the visit given was that there was somebody who wanted to thank him (although he had a general idea of what they wanted to thank him for, he could not guess who wanted to thank him, as the letter was left unsigned). With time to kill, and a suitable purpose (as well as the intent to visit an acquaintance while in London), Goode embarked immediately; upon arriving at the described location, he found a quaint cottage which reminded him of his family's house when he was growing up. Going up to the door, he knocked several times, then waited. It wasn't long before a young woman, perhaps ten-or-so years his junior, answered the door. She greeted him, asking if he was Dr. Goode, and when he replied in the positive, let him inside. She told him that her dying sister wanted to thank him for saving her and her family many years before in France. The woman guided him upstairs to a bedroom; in the bed, Goode saw somebody lying down, covered by sheets. He walked over slowly and began talking to the person. Not hearing a response, he went up to the side of the bed took a good look at who was in there: it was nothing but mounds of hay!

     Goode quickly turned to face the young woman, but, unexpectedly, she was right beside him; as he was turning, she slashed him across the chest, causing him to back up against the wall in pain. Then, she stabbed at him repeatedly, until she was satisfied with the result.

     "You're nothing but a greedy murderer..." she said, as Goode's life faded from him, "making a profit off of death!"

     Unbeknownst to the unfortunate doctor, the woman who had taken revenge on him was the sister of the woman he had turned away during the time of the Black Plague- one of the many inhabitants of the villages he left for dead, not even offering a glimmer of hope for, to save his own life and reputation.

     The date was October thirtieth.

********************

     October twenty-ninth, 2013 started out as an ordinary day for Henrietta Brown; she went to school, complained about her classes to her friends, and moped about the hallways. This was her last year of high school, and that was the one thing she was enthusiastic about on this day. After she got back from lunch break, she was approached by one of her friends who was eagerly holding a strange, faded book in her hands.

     "Hey Henrietta!" she called, "I found that book I was talking about!"

     "What book?" Henrietta responded.

     "That one I was telling you about last week!"

     "You were talking about a lot of books last week..."

     "That one I was worried the library might not have."

     "I don't think that narrows it down much."

     "Just take it!"

     Her friend threw the book at her, and Henrietta caught it, a perplexed look coming across her face as she read the title: "TALES OF HORROR FROM THE MIDDLE AGES." Her friend had apparently put a stick note on the cover that merely read "page 183." When she flipped to the page quickly, she saw a story titled "The Tale of Dr. Goode"; Henrietta was curious about the book, but decided to look at it some more later when she heard the bell ring, and put the book in her backpack...

     After a long school day, she returned home, and emptied her backpack onto her bed. She immediately noticed that something was missing, but dismissed her suspicion, for she had forgotten about the book.

********************

     It was October thirtieth- what began as yet another boring day for Henrietta... until, of course, her parents told her that they would be away until the next day. Then a brilliant idea hit her: she would invite her boyfriend over for a pre-Halloween party, just the two of them. She immediately called him and told him to be over a 6:00... then she waited; a brilliant plot hatched in her head: she would leave the front door ajar, and when Roger came in, she would jump out and scare him! She laughed to herself at petty intelligence of her planned trick...

     ...and she waited... and waited... she called Roger several times, but he didn't answer; eventually, the time neared 11 o'clock, and she doubted that he would ever show up. She sulked on the bed and started to fall asleep, but heard a scratch at the window. She opened the curtains slightly and peeked out; predictably, it was too dark to see outside. She could have sworn that she had turned the outside light on... there was a sudden, loud knock on the door. She went to the foyer, looked out the front window, and opened the door.

     "Hey there! I thought you'd never show up!"

     The figure that stood at the door remained silent. He was dressed as a plague doctor.

     "What's with that silly costume, Roger? I thought you said you were going to bring something SCARY!"

     Again, the figure remained silent.

     "Well come on in, oh silent bird-man!" she laughed as she led the figure inside. After a moment, she spoke again, "All right Roger, I think that's enough... quit the act already!"

     The two were in Henrietta's bedroom, and she closed the door. She approached the figure and took off his mask, cringing a bit when she saw the rotting face stained with small splatters of blood.

     "Wow, you... uh... really went the whole nine yards..."

     She leaned forward to kiss his face; she backed away when she felt how cold his face was... he moved closer, and closer, holding up a rusty meat cleaver...

********************

     "C'mon Roger, you know you'll need to do better than that to trick me! You tried the same thing last year!"

     The two walked out of the bedroom cheerily. Roger's phone rang abruptly.

     "Oh, sorry; I need to take a phone call! I'll be out back!" he told her, then added, "Oh, and I should give this to you as well; it has to be returned to the school library soon!" He tossed the book to her, still with the sticky note on the front page.

     As Roger was talking on the phone outside, Henrietta looked up at the clock: 11:59 PM. She absentmindedly flipped to page 183 in the book and started reading the story... she had almost finished when she heard another knock on the door. She set the book down on a side table, and, again looking out the front window, she opened the door.

     "Lock yourself out Roger?" she said to the figure standing there in moldy plague doctor attire. He stood there, breathing heavily, but otherwise silent. "And take that silly mask off, won't you? It's starting to genuinely give me the creeps! ...and where'd you get that sword from?"

     "Outside. Come."

********************

     And now, we come to the end of the The Tale of Dr. Goode... readers beware, for the Golden Doctor of Death always strikes on Halloween, the day after his death, for the doctor is smart, and knows when to find ignorant victims...

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
...until next year...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: K-NiGhT on November 17, 2013, 07:31:04 AM
I'm very impressed with your work, BDS! A lot of it is extremely well done!
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on January 03, 2014, 02:43:12 PM
Annie and Zed: Into the Pirates' Den part 1

     "Where can I find a job," was the thought that entered young Annie's head. She was only sixteen years old when I met her, but she was far from young on the inside. In this rough world, everybody had to fight to survive- except those rich fools in Coral City- and Annie was no exception. She has never told me why she needed such a large sum of money so desperately, but she has told me of the man who gave her the job, and quite an odd fellow he is.

     Annie was wandering through the dark alleyways in order to cover more ground. Unlike most people would have expected from her, though, she wasn't looking for an ordinary job: her father was an elite soldier in the Desperation Wars, one of the many who were snubbed by their employers and given the short end of the stick- he and his family were left in poverty. Unable to afford much food or medical care, he and his wife eventually wasted away, leaving Annie and her brother, Rick, orphaned, with no family around for a few hundred miles. Before his death, her father had taught her many of his survival and combat skills, in order to give her a literally fighting chance in the world. It was thus in that expertise that she was searching for a job in, which left her a wide selection of rather brutal options: fighting sports, assassinations, personal bodyguard, bouncer, soldier...

     By means unknown to me, she came upon the strange employer whom I have previously mentioned. He seemed equally desperate, and was willing to pay nearly anything in order to retrieve a stolen treasure of his from a band of northern sea pirates. They settled on a sum of 60,000 crystal credits, which was actually more than Annie was hoping for (or so she has said). Then, she quickly prepared for her mission and set out.

********************

     Log 6/18:

     As of today, I am partaking in a job for a man named Isaac Newton II. While I'm not quite certain of his sanity, I am sure that he is willing to pay me a generous amount of money in order to bring him back an item of his that was apparently stolen in transit by some pirates. He seems to be already familiar with the pirates, and fortunately, he says that the band is a rather small one, consisting of no more than eight men, their leader, and their... err... wenches.

     From the time he began speaking to me, our conversation went something like this:

"Excuse me, miss, but did you say you're looking for a job and have considerable combat skills?"

"Yes, I did."

"Well, I was wondering if you would be willing to take a job from me in such a field- although we can negotiate your payment, I must tell you that I am willing to pay a handsome fee, for it will be quite dangerous."

"Of course I would be."

     At this point, we sat down at a table at the tavern we were in. He described to me the job, and then began trailing off into his personal story.

"I've never really been a person of much wealth, although I do have a fair amount- thought not enough to live with the bigwigs- but this treasure is worth more to me than money. It's a family heirloom, and I love my family, the kooks they all are (he chuckled to himself)! My mother and father always told me that they named me Isaac because we were related to Sir Isaac Newton, although I think they were just pulling my leg. I've always wanted to change my name, but I'm afraid it would cause quite a fair bit of controversy if I did so... don't ask why."

     Bored to death by his monologues, I reminded him of the need for negotiations about my payment, and he cried out, loud enough to echo through the tavern: "Oh yes, oh yes! About that..."

     He really meant that his treasure was worth more to him than money: he went above my preferred price because he was afraid I wouldn't have enough incentive to complete the job. 60,000 credits will leave me with about 20,000 left over...

********************

     Shortly after leaving the city, she plotted out a course for her voyage: she would travel mainland much of the time, but drift towards the coast as she reached the northern seas, passing through a few towns at strategic points to resupply. The first such town was Alm, a small market community which was, in fact, an offshoot of a larger city not too far away. This is where she and I met, as Alm was the place I had grown up in for much of my life. As it so happened, I was going to the farmers' market to buy some vegetables, as I was planning to make a stew that night- the same market where Annie was picking up some of her supplies. In fact, we actually bumped into each other! I could not see where I was going, for I had in my hands a large mound of vegetables (I am quite a vegetable and herb fanatic whenever I can find fresh ones), and she was just plain not looking where she was going, and that resulting in me dropping most of my vegetables. She offered to help me take the vegetables back to my house, and I gratefully accepted. When we arrived, she asked if she could stay for the night (for I had told her along the way all about the different kinds of vegetables I had bought, why I needed them, and a few minor details about my situation in life at the time- I was living alone in a small house in the center of town), and afterwards, we had a bit of a conversation, recorded in most of its length below:

"What brings you to our town?" I asked.

"I was hired by a man to retrieve a precious item of his from some pirates on the northern sea. I'm on my way there now."

"Fighting pirates? You look a bit young." Although I don't think I used the right tone when I spoke, she seemed to take particular offense when I said this.

"I'm only sixteen, but don't judge me by my age! You don't look much older than me either!"

"I'm twenty-one, mind you. A whole five years older."

"What are you doing in a town like this?"

"I've lived here for a while. I used to live with my adoptive parents, but things happened, and now I'm here."

     By that time, the stew was ready, and I prepared the rest of the vegetables. We sat down at my small table for dinner, and there was barely enough room for both of our plates. She seemed to enjoy the meal, but was appalled at how I "assaulted the eggplant with my teeth." After we had eaten, I spoke to her again.

"I don't believe we've introduced ourselves yet. My name is Zed. Zed Leppelin."

"My name is Annie Karina."

"Now, earlier, Annie, you mentioned the north seas? I've always wanted to go there, at least once in my life."

"I wouldn't mind if you tagged along, as long as you aren't a burden."

"I think it would be a good adventure for me. I'm a writer by trade, so I can chronicle the quest. I'm not too sure how I'll do against pirates, but I'm resourceful and can usually hold my own in a fight."

Then after she described more of the upcoming mission to me, I drifted off to sleep, and she likely did so shortly after I did. I had offered to let her have the bed for the night, but she was content- and quite happy- to sleep on a pile of pillows on the floor. She was just waking up when I was, for I had to go out to the market to get some ingredients for breakfast.

"I'll be back," I told her, "I'm just going back to the market to buy some more food."

     She snapped up off her pillow pile and almost leapt towards me.

"Sorry if I'm disrupting your schedule, but we don't have time for that. I have a strict plan for the voyage, and if we don't set out now, we won't arrive at our next stop in time! We can grab something quick as we're leaving, like some more of those eggplants, but I don't think you'll have time to actually cook a meal."

     As she said, she got ready quickly (and made me do so), and we left town posthaste. She warned me that we would have a bit of walking to do before she could arrange some other means of transportation, and it was thus that we set out, together, to the northern seas.

     I don't know for how long we traveled, but it was for several days and nights. We passed through a handful of towns, and I kept asking her when we would finally be able to find another way to travel, as she had mentioned to me before. She assured me that it would only be a few more hours, and although it felt like days (I'm not used to walking long distances, as I spend most of my days at a desk), we eventually arrived at a bustling port town, it's multistoried city hall towering above all other buildings, with its crystal-tiled roof shimmering in the sunlight. The sight of it almost made me want to puke.

     Annie guided me along through the crowded streets until we reached a shabby tavern, which she said belonged to her great-uncle Barney. Around the back of the building, there seemed to be a narrow passageway connecting it to another building. Inside, the tavern was fairly empty, bar a few patrons sitting- or, rather, slumping- in the seats along the walls, as the center floor consisted mostly of a raised stage.

"EH BARN-EH! I'm back!" she called into a door behind the bar, which seemed to lead into the kitchen. Not but a few moments later, a burly man walked through. He had auburn hair very similar to Annie's, but otherwise, looked nothing alike: his face was mostly hidden by a graying beard, but his strong, bright eyes shone down on me.

"Well eh there Annie! 'ow are you?" he spoke with a bit of a Scottish accent, muffled slightly by his beard, "An' 'ow's your brother doin'!?"

"We're both doing fine," she replied, "but I need to borrow a horse and cart."

     It was just then that he seemed to notice me standing next to her, as he turned and started intently at me. I would have been disturbed had it not been for his wide and welcoming smile.

"Well 'en, ou's this young chap? A friend o' yours?"

"That's why I need the cart. He's accompanying me to the northern seas, where I found a job. I figured it wouldn't hurt to bring him along."

"The north sea..." he paused for a bit, "Wait a minute! You're goin' up 'ere to fight 'om northern pirates, aren't ye! That crazy pa of yours, teaching ya...!!!"

"Not fight... hopefully... just, er... pay them a little visit. If all goes well, I shouldn't even have to cross paths with them! Just take something from them that isn't theirs', and be on my merry way! I need a cart so I can get through the forest fast enough. And don't be calling my father crazy! Remember what he did for you!"

"Oooh, all right," he relented, "but promise me ye'll be reeeally careful. 'n stay 'ere the night: ya won't make it throu' the forest in time."

     Since there were only a few unoccupied rooms upstairs, I was forced to sleep in with Barney. Or, rather, I would have slept, had he not taken up the whole bed and continually forced me off at odd intervals. At the very least, he could have let me taken in an extra mattress from Annie's room...

********************

     Log 6/21:

     Tomorrow, we set off for the Everspread Forest. I don't doubt that we'll make it through it time, but just in case, I brought a revolver along. It's quite unreliable, but I'd rather try it than tussle with any of the Forest Folk. And if that librarian boy causes me any more trouble, I could always threaten him with it. Speaking of him, he seems like a bit of a creep. He told me that he'd keep a record of our journey, but all he's written down are a description of me and a poem about Alm and homesickness. I'll give him one thing, though: he's quite an artist. He's drawn several landscape pictures, and one of myself, all of which seem to be drawn from memory (unless he's been staring at me the whole time, in which case he is a creep). Fortunately, he hasn't mentioned vegetables again- I think he's preoccupied with other things, which may or may not necessarily be a good thing.

     Sometimes I wonder if taking Zed along was a good thing, but unless he does something stupid or threatening, I feel that all will go well...

TO BE CONTINUED, IN PART 2
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: mikey on January 03, 2014, 05:09:31 PM
The name's Zed.
Zed Leppelin.
I laughed.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on January 05, 2014, 12:08:43 AM
Annie and Zed: Into the Pirates' Den part 2

     At last, I decided to try and sleep in the hall outside, for sleeping in the room was pointless, since Barney's sudden outbursts during the night would likely wake me as well. It seemed like I had just sat down when the sun's early rays shone through the window. I heard Annie stirring, so I began to walk towards the stairs, but when I reached them, I heard her door opening.

"Up so early, and already ready?" her voice was but a whisper.

"Ah, yes, of course. I figured you would want me to wake early."

"Great; you'll actually have some time to eat today!"

     It wasn't long before we set out; as it turned out, the forest wasn't too far away from the city, and so, we began our trip into the depths of the dark forest. Posted in front of the forest was a sign that said "STAY ON THE ROAD." Needless to say, I was a little more than slightly disturbed by the sign.

"Annie, what are the Forest Folk?" I asked, "I've heard some tales about them, but not what they actually are."

"They're mostly just legends," she reassured me, "all there is in this forest are a bunch of bandits and some bears. And maybe an occasional coyote."

     They day dragged on, the forest showed no sign of ending, and I began to lapse into a half-awake state. To keep myself fully awake, I began talking. I don't remember what I started talking about, but eventually I came back to talking about myself.

"My mother died when I was young; my father let his life take a turn for the worse, and he abandoned me shortly after," I said, "just on the streets. I found a home at a church, and the priests there educated me for some time, but they never really cared for me. I was just wandering over town, living any way I could, until Mr. and Mrs. Leppelin took me in."

     I paused, and looked at Annie. Without turning her head, she nodded.

"Mr. Leppelin was a scholar: he was very interested in literature, and, as I have told you before, was a writer and publisher, and owned a library- in fact, the only one in Alm and the area around it. He taught me his trade and treated me like a son." I paused for a brief time. "But, after returning from a trip as an ambassador to Coral City, he became very ill, and died: that was only two years ago. Mrs. Leppelin was never the same. She closed the library and sold many of the books; she greatly encouraged me to find my own house and employment, and gave me a small sum of money from Mr. Leppelin's estate so I could do so."

"It seems like today, death is more prevalent than life." Annie spoke, her quiet words almost drowned out by the sound of the horse's hooves against the path.

"I've always been bitter towards my father for abandoning me like that. He never cared for me..." I paused to pull out a long-bladed knife and hold it in front of me, "One of the priests at the church gave me this knife. He told me that he had gotten it from a poor sinner who wanted to kill himself at the altar for his misdeeds... he says he barely talked him out of it. I always used it for whittling wood, but I've thought, that if ever I find my father again..."

"Don't say that!" Annie chided, "He cared for you enough not to leave you with the miserable life he could've given you!"

"He left me in one that wasn't much better."

"I'm sure he had good intentions."

     I looked towards the sun, and saw something that sent a chill through my tired bones: It was setting. When I pointed it out to Annie, she had a look of surprise- and worry- on her face.

"Oh well; looks like we're almost out anyway."

     We rode on in silence for longer and longer. At this point, I finally began to succumb to my tiredness, and closed my eyes, for what I told myself would just be a short rest... I don't know how long I slept, but I was awoken by a sharp shove from Annie which nearly sent me over the edge of the cart.

"HEY! Don't touch me like that!"

"Oh, oh, uh... I'm sorry. I must've been sleeping: I actually didn't get that much sleep last night."

     She rolled her eyes and went back to staring at the looming path still in front of us.

"Are we almost out yet?" I asked, "The sun must've set hours ago."

"Almost there, I'm sure."

     I looked to my right, into the trees that spread forever far into the great beyond at the edge of the path. I saw several pairs of light green eyes, crawling along at roughly the same speed we were going. A quick look to the left resulted in the same thing.

"Uh... Annie...?" I pointed out the eyes amongst the trees. "I don't think that those are bandits, bears, or coyotes. None of those have bright green eyes."

She cursed under her breath, and then spoke to me in a whisper. "As long as we don't make much noise, they won't come any closer." She pulled out a revolver from her pack behind her. "I have this just in case."

     Every few minutes, I kept looking left and right nervously: the eyes seemed to be coming closer and closer, until I swore I saw a strange-looking claw reach towards the path. At that point, there was a noise: it sounded as if something was grating against the path from behind us. I quickly looked behind me. I had to do a double-take when I saw what it was.

"And now we have another problem," I whispered, "There's somebody following us on a horse. He's within throwing distance, and he's approaching us fast."

     Despite what I said, the man in the black cloak on the black horse stayed at a fairly constant distance from us. Every time the green eyes of the Forest Folk came closer, he would charge forward a bit, grating his horse's hooves into the path, making the noise I had previously heard. Finally, we reached the end of the forest, at which point Annie sent our cart reeling forward at top speed, getting as far away from the forest and that mysterious man as possible.

     The terrain of this part of the continent look quite different than that of the south. There was a thin layer of snow coating the ground, although it was not snowing at that time, and there were mountains on two sides of us. Overall, the vegetation was sparse, and one could even see a few small animals running across the fields of snow. It wasn't long before we made it to the next stop, a small villages with quite a few greenhouses along its western border.

"Well," Annie told me, "there's probably only a few hours 'til sunrise, but we'd best get a bit of sleep before that time. I had hoped we'd be here earlier, but it seems I made a little miscalculation."

********************

     Log 6/22:

     While Zed was sleeping, I asked some of the villagers about pirate attacks in the area; they readily gave me the information I wanted: there was just an attack a few days ago a few miles north of here, in the same general area as the place where Newton's treasure was stolen. It seems the band I'm looking for is one known as the "Rainbow Red" pirates because of their bizarre clothes and a taste for blood. They're based in a region slightly northwest of here, which means we'll be able to cut down on traveling across the whole coast.

     The incident in the forest brings about a few questions to my mind. First of all, who was that strange man following us? Why didn't he follow us out of the forest? What was he doing there in the first place? Was he intentionally protecting us?

     Addendum to log, 6/22:

     I have three plans to enter the pirates' stronghold: Sneak in and get out before they notice me, dress as a servant and get out before they notice me, and/or stealthily kill off the pirates one by one until it's safe to enter. All of those are in increasing order of desperation.

********************

"We're getting closer," Annie said, "their little den must be somewhere around here!"

     We had already passed through another village after the greenhouse village (I don't recall hearing its name), and it seemed as if we were ahead of schedule on the mission, as Annie had apparently found a shortcut. The land we traveled over was much the same as when we first reached the north, except a bit more mountainous: although the path stayed fairly flat, steep hills lined the path, and stretched into the distance until the eventually sprouted into tall mountains, their caps coated in snow. The longer we traveled, the more I could see the faraway sea coming closer.

I observed the scenery for some time until Annie called out "Alright; I think we've traveled far enough. From here on, we'll go on foot- it's probably safer that way."

     She tied to horse to a poor excuse of a tree, and we got off and began walking.

"How will we know when we've found the pirates' lair?" I asked.

"It's a fairly large building, or so I'm told. As long as we know what we're looking for, we should be able to find it." she paused slightly, "Getting in is the hard part."

     Not much longer after, some trees began to pop out along the mountainside. We traveled among them, thinking that, even though they were few and far between, they would give us some form of cover if we needed them.

     Just then, we heard a crunch of fallen leaves. Annie pushed me behind a tree, and looked around to see what had caused the disturbance.

"Pirates," she muttered, "three of them... let's see if we can go around that way (she pointed to the right) without being seen."

     We slowly made our way from tree to tree, going along completely undetected, until a small pile of snow from on top of one of the trees fell down and hit us on the head.

"MMUMPH!" I cried out, surprised by the snow.

"What was that?" I could hear in the distance.

"Run," Annie whispered to me, so I did. I ran until I couldn't run any more, and that was when I ran into the side of a building (there was rather thick brush around it, so in my haste, I didn't see it until it was too late). The structure was made of a bluish-green stone, and it looked fairly clean until I saw that there was moss in the cracks between the bricks.

     I turned around to see where Annie was, but just then, she ran into me, sending us both toppling to the ground.

"Get up!" she yelled at me, "get off of me! Run!"

     But her statement was for naught: we heard the pirates coming around. When they came into view, I was surprised most of all by what their were wearing: each had clothing of a specific color, interrupted only by occasional bands of black. One was wearing blue, another orange, and the third purple.

"You're the pirates?" I asked, not thinking what I said, "aren't your clothes a bit too garish to be pirates?"

"Get up an' face te wall!" we followed their instructions, "now turn around! Who ah ye?"

"I am a representative of Isaac Newton II," Annie calmly told them, "I'm here to negotiate the terms for reclaiming an old family heirloom of his. It's not worth much, but it means a lot to him."

"An 'ou's 'e?" the orange pirate said, his sharp voice piercing my ears.

     Looking around quickly, Annie spotted that the blue pirate was wearing a crude wooden cross. Simultaneously, she shifted her foot, covering her dropped revolver in a thin coating of snow.

"He's a priest. Mr. Newton wished for me to take him along as an ambassador of goodwill, in hopes that you would not think we were hostile."

     The three pirates conversed amongst themselves.

"I say we take the both of 'em," the orange pirate strongly asserted.

"But the boy's a priest. We can't harm a priest; I saw we let 'im be and take the girl," the blue pirate stated.

"Yeah George, he's a priest," the purple pirate chuckled, "after all, what harm can 'e do?"

"Arrrrr... a'right. But it te' boss complains, I won't be takin' no blame fer it!"

     Thus, having reached an agreement, the three pirates stated their decision to us (although we had already overheard most of their conversation), and told me to "not go into meddlin' with anything'." They took Annie away, and walked until they were all out of view. I looked up at the wall, judging its height as best I could; it looked inconsistent in many places so, after grabbing the revolver which had fallen in the snow, I reached towards the wall and started climbing... Many of the cracks were wide enough to stick much of my hand in, but others were very thin and had to be grabbed with caution. The wall wasn't too tall, and I eventually made it up. I saw that there was quite a distance between the outer wall and the main compound, and I could see the group of pirates entering the stronghold from its front gate. Climbing down the wall, I ran straight ahead until I reached the wall.

     Although this building was the same color as the outer wall, it looked to be better built, and had less moss on it. Spaced every ten feet or so on the bottom of the building were groups of iron bars that I presumed served as basement windows (this seemed to be true because all the rooms I looked into were below me); I searched in and out of rooms until I found what I was looking for- a meeting room of sorts for the pirates. All of them were gathered there: the orange, blue, and purple ones, a yellow one, a green one, an indigo one, and even a white one- they seemed to be waiting for something. I could see Annie: she was kneeling, facing the wall directly opposite of me.

     The door slammed opened flamboyantly, and a pirate dressed in red came through. I could tell he was the leader because of both his antics and the unique hat he was wearing... and the way he commanded the other pirates.

"Where's the prisoner?" he shouted to the room, apparently unaware that he was standing right next to her.

"She's right o'er 'ere, sir," said the orange pirate, "she says that she's 'ere on account o' some Fig Newton feller. Says we raided one o' 'is ships an' stole an heirloom o' 'is."

"Aaah, yes. That blasted chest. I can't seem ta gettit open. But I will someday!" he heartily laughed a generic pirate laugh. "Ah... well... let's send Mr. Figgy a message: that we pirates won't give up so easily... an' I think that the best way to do this would be to send a corpse his way, dontcha? Mr. Wythers, do ye have the Balrog's Fury ready?"

"Ay; yes sir," the orange pirate (who, I assume, was named George Wythers) smiled sadistically. I have a feeling that he was high up in the chain of command, if not the second-in-command.

"I... I promise not to mess with you again if you let me go," Annie said.

"Ahh, don't try and evoke sympathy from me, missy. Ye shoulda thought about that before ye thought to mess with us."

"Are you going to kill me?"

"Yea, but not before you suffer. There's a reason they call me the Rouge Rogue... Mr. Wythers?"

     The pirate leader was handed a nightmarish scourge that was lined with long whip ends and long, thin, sharp chains. I instantly became lightheaded. Blood-curdling screams soon blasted into my ears, and a wave of nausea overcame me as I witnessed the effects of the evil weapon. I crawled a little bit away from the window to avoid throwing up into it. In a way, I felt bad about not being able to do anything, but in another way, I felt glad that I was not the recipient.

     After some time, the noise faded, but my head was still spinning. I went over to the window again, and saw that the captain and most of the pirates were gone- only the orange and white ones remained. Annie was slumped over on the ground, motionless.

"Cap'n said we could play around with 'er a bit, as long as we leave 'er conscious," the orange pirate said to the other.

"She's already barely that," said another voice in the room that came from neither of the pirates, "I say we take her directly to the holding area. Then the captain can do whatever he wants."

     The man walked forward: although his back was turned to me, I could see that he was a tall, imposing man. He was dressed in all black, and actually looked quite menacing.

"But cap'n said..." the white pirate chimed in, his voice a bit squeaky compared to the other two.

"I'm in charge when the captain isn't around; remember that!" the black pirate yelled at him.

     The black pirate walked over to a table and grabbed a cudgel; he walked over to Annie, and, to my horror, hit her with it over her head.

"There. Now she's unconscious. Won't you two mindless brutes take her to the cell now? And don't do anything other than that; you're going to kill her before the captain has a chance to."

     I felt a strange chill around me, and I looked up at the sky. I stood up, but immediately fell back down...

********************

     Log 6/24:

     As I am writing this, I am in a cell inside the pirates' lair. My head aches, my body aches, and my soul aches. I don't know what else they did to me while I was unconscious, but whatever they did, they will pay for it. While many would wish for death in a time like this, I wish for revenge, if ever I am able to get out...

TO BE CONCLUDED, IN PART 3
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on January 06, 2014, 05:23:51 AM
Annie and Zed: Into the Pirates' Den part 3

     I lay shaking in the cold; I didn't know how long it had been since Annie had been captured, but I hoped it wasn't too late- she had given me a chance to carry the mission to completion, and I intended to infiltrate the pirate base and save her. In order to do so, I looked around the iron bars of the windows, going back and forth between them and searching for a loose bar, a gap that was a little bit too wide- anything I could find to get in. My frantic search was finally over when I found one bar completely missing on a room's window on the other side of the main gate. Barely fitting in, I managed to slip through, and landed on the ground with a thud; the drop was a bit larger than I had expected, but I just hoped that nobody heard me.

     I opened the door, and looked out and around. Fortunately, nobody was there, so I went out. I thought to myself, wondering whether the cells were upstairs or downstairs. I walked along the hall quietly, peaking up and down staircase after staircase, but found nothing of interest: a kitchen (filled with meat), what looked like a powder room, and a guard tower with no guards in it.

     I went back to the room I had come from, and went in the opposite direction this time: surely I would be able to cover much of the compound without alerting the pirates. More staircases I searched, until I finally heard an interesting noise: the sound of light snoring. I quickly found the door it was coming from, and carefully opened it. At last I had found the dungeon! The pirate on guard (the white one) was lying partially on a table on which the keys laid on the edge of; I considered killing the man then and there, but instead, I carefully snatched up the keys and walked towards the cell at the end. Inside, Annie lay, scarred, bruised, and beaten, scrawling on a wrinkled piece of paper with some charcoal. In addition to her other injuries, she also had some of her hair torn out and a cut on her face.

     I unlocked the door, opened it, and motioned Annie outside; I tossed her my coat, for her shirt had been torn off prior.

"Let's get out of here, now!" I said quietly.

"I still have to find the heirloom," she said.

"We can come back for that later; now, we just have to get out!"

     I turned around and came face to face with the white pirate, who was wide awake.

"Well looky-looky here: it's 'at priest boy. Georgie told me ah-bot you. Said 'e was gonna find you an' kill ya when 'e got the chance, just to sprite Arnold. Now, boy, get innat cell, afore I..."

     Annie had stepped around me and clocked him in the eye, sending him stumbling into the ground; she rushed forward and threw her knee straight into his chest, sending him all the way to the ground.

"One down, eight more to go."

     We scoured the compound until we found the captain's quarters; the yellow pirate was standing guard, but he was disposed of in the same way as the white one, except by a surprise attack from behind.

"Now you'll have to show me whether you can really hold your own," Annie told me as she pushed the door open.

     Inside were several pirates: the orange, green, and indigo ones were there, with the captain behind them, but the blue, black, and purple ones were not to be seen anywhere. They all looked rather surprised to see us.

"Well then!" the captain cried out, "looks like the mouse got out of the cage. But now yer into the trap! Get 'em, boys!"

     The captain just stood there as his men charged at us. Annie and I switched back and forth between fighting them; at first, Wythers and the indigo pirate focused on Annie, while the green one, a strong but short man, tackled me. We wrestled on the ground for a bit until I managed to push him off and into the man wearing indigo. This brawling continued for some time, until the blue, black, and purple pirates finally showed up to the party, a bit late. Now completely outnumbered, we fought even more fiercely. Arnold the blue pirate came ramming at me, screaming "YOU AIN'T NO SHEPHERD!" I felt bad about it, but I whacked him out of the way and to the ground.

     Annie was being attacked by the black, green, and indigo pirates, so I rushed over to help her, getting out the revolver, but Wythers grabbed me by my shoulders, throwing me towards the wall; I raised the gun and shot him. With him being no trouble to us anymore, I went back over to help Annie, and shot at the black pirate. The gun went "click" and nothing happened- a misfire. I expected for him to immediately attack me, but to my surprise, he merely looked up at me- he had a haunting face, not only horribly scarred, but also giving an expression of a troubled past (in a way, his face had a solemnity about it like mine). Stunned, I backed away, and he ran from the room and out the door. By the time these events were finished, Annie had already knocked out the indigo pirate, and was in the process of beating the green pirate to a pulp.

     I turned around suddenly, and saw the captain, sword raised; I put my arm up just in time to avoid him slashing into my face, but my arm was still hurt. I fell backwards, but as he came at me to strike again, I kicked him the stomach; with my good arm, I fired the gun again. "Click." I scrambled to get up, and twisted around to see Annie fighting the purple pirate, who also had a sword.

"Use it as a club!" I called out as I threw it at her.

     I misjudged where I threw it, however, and it hit the pirate on his head, temporarily stunning him. Annie reached out to punch him, and sent him rocketing back into and over the captain's desk, his sword dropped in front of it. She picked it up and threw it to me, just in time to block another slash from the captain. We dueled for a bit, until I finally called out to Annie for help. She ran over, holding a small wooden box in her hands, and raised it to whack him with. From the corner of his eye, the captain saw her, and turned to slash at her; his sword hit the box, cracking the box, but causing the sword to become stuck. With that distraction, I punched the captain twice, knocking him out cold.

"Perhaps you were right, deciding to go for the treasure," I said, "you recovered quicker than I expected."

"You know, I'm a bit curious to see what's inside here..." she broke open the crumbling chest and laid its contents on the desk.

     Inside the chest were a few bamboo rods, a piece that looked like the end of a shovel, and a faded booklet. I picked the booklet up and scanned it.

"It's... it's..." I stammered, "...a thing that goes doink. With a small golden apple keychain, that's not even here."

     She broke into an intense rant about how her employer had more money than brains.

********************

     Log 6/25:

     Zed and I are on our way back home; he insisted on accompanying me all the way back, but I told him I would be fine, and that he could stay in Alm when we get there. Perhaps I misjudged him; he's not a normal person, but he's certainly not a creep.

     We intended to capture the Rouge Rogue and bring him back to Newton as an extra gift of sorts, but he must have hightailed it out of there while we were gawking at Newton's "heirloom." I was originally mad at Newton for being willing to put somebody's life on the line for such a silly little thing, but then again, if he didn't, I don't know how I would've been able to get the money so quickly. Perhaps if he ever offers me a job again, I'll exploit him more. Definitely a consideration.

********************

     The rest of the journey was uneventful, which, after all that happened, was a great thing. Annie went back home to reclaim her money, but before that, we celebrated over a bowl of squash soup at my house... and she actually enjoyed it!

     That being said, it's been six months since the journey, and ever since then, I've been writing feverishly so I don't forget all the details (since I captured most of it with pictures and short sentences). Oddly enough, I haven't heard from Annie at all except for a single letter sent a month after we got back. In it was enclosed 10,000 crystal credits and a note expressing her immense thanks, and a mention that she's found employment as a private courier. I looked on the front of the letter to see where it was sent from, but I only saw a barcode address, which I found interesting, because barcode addresses are only used in Coral City.

     Upon researching further, I found that that particular barcode was used for Ridgemont Hospital... odd. What was Annie doing at a hospital in Coral City?

THE END
...for now...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on February 19, 2014, 11:43:56 AM
Annie and Zed: The Heart of Mt. Coldclaw part 1

     It was a grand total of eight months after the end of our first adventure before I saw Annie again. But when the time came, I knew she would come even before she sent the letter announcing her intent to go on another quest. Ever since she left, I was plagued by strange nightmares- usually nothing more vivid than a quick flash of something horrible, a mysterious thing I knew not what, but that I innately knew to fear. Every month that passed, the nightmares became longer and longer, until I could finally make out a scene: a burning house in Alm. My house.

     These nightmares continued on as such for the near entirety of the time period of eight months: I never thought they would end. Then, these horrid visions of the night ended in an abrupt climax of terror; finally, I was able to make out the dream in its entirety, to ponder its message, but still never understand it. In the dream, I was standing in my house, which was on fire, but was merely a spark among the entire community, all of it burning in a brilliantly bright fire. I didn't know what I was doing there, or why I was merely standing there, ever motionless, but I felt complete, as if the mission- the final goal- of my life had been accomplished, as if I were a fulfilled being. Then, Annie approached from the doorway, and called to me.

"Zed!" she said, "Zed! Come with me; it doesn't have to end this way! ZED!"

     All else of what she said was muffled, but I believed that this singular sentence was all that was necessary for me to hear. Then, finally, the whole setting faded to black, and I heard a chilling voice. It sounded like my own voice, but only if I were a demonic monster.

"Where do you see yourself in three years, Zed? What will you become?"

     From this final nightmare, I awoke, startled, and dripping sweat, despite it being rather cold in the room. As soon as I got my bearings, I grabbed a writing instrument and the nearest paper and wrote madly on it, not knowing or caring what I wrote, but sensing that I was, in fact, writing something coherent (and hoping that I wasn't truly going mad). At the end of this frenzied scribbling, I was once more afflicted with tiredness, and collapsed back on my bed.

     In the morning, not long after the sun had risen, I awoke, nearly forgetting about this earlier incident. It was only when I noticed the paper falling off of me that I remembered what had occurred- thus, I reached over to pick up the paper and see what I had written. "ANNIE WILL BE HERE BY THE END OF THE WEEK," was written, in sloppy handwriting, but distinctively my handwriting nonetheless. An odd thing to write, I thought, but the week was only beginning, so that gave her a few days to get here. Not that I believed what I had written at first, though. Really, I didn't... at first... until I went outside and checked my mailbox. In my mail, I found another letter with a barcode address; upon close inspection, the barcode was different from the previous letter I had gotten from Annie, but it was still clear that they came from the same place: Coral City, where the elite of the world reside. I recalled what she had said in that letter, and wondered how she was doing; that did not distract me long, however, as I was eager to open the letter. Inside was an oddly expected message:

"Dear Zed:

     I am writing you to inform you that I will be dropping by your house by the end of the week; I have some unfinished business to attend to, but I should be on time. Be prepared to embark on another journey, and expect to leave at night."

     An odd smile overtook my face. At the time, I never understood how I predicted her arrival, and now, it still perplexes me, as nothing similar has happened since. A weird incident, I dismissed it as... besides, at the time, I could not be bothered to trouble myself with such worrisome thoughts. After all, I was going on another adventure!

********************

     A few days later, Annie arrived. At the time, I was just sitting around reading a book- it was a few hours after sunset, so I didn't have too many errands during that time. A sudden tap on the door broke my concentration. As if to assure me that I had not merely heard an ordinary noise, there was another tap not long after that. I opened the door and was greeted by the sight of Annie standing there; she look almost exactly as I remembered her, although somehow, she looked older (perhaps it was the makeup slathered on her face?), and her clothes- a pastel blue skirt with a pastel pink vest over a white shirt, the unmistakable uniform of a courier- were neater and cleaner than the clothes I had last seen her in; her hair, too, was spotless, and was in an organized French braid. In a way, it made me slightly uneasy to look at her, a practical replica of the people who lived in the lavish Coral City.

"Well hello there," I said, "and come on in. You'll be stoned if anybody saw you like that out here."

"They still do that here?" she asked, somewhat taken aback.

"Let's just say that the people around here aren't too happy with... people like you... uh, from the crystal city, I mean."

     As she walked in, I noticed she was holding a package under her arm; upon setting it down, she began to tell me about it, and why she had come here in the first place.

"It's from my employer to her brother-in-law; her husband is a world-traveling merchant, and he mailed her some sort of object that he wanted her to send to his brother in the northwest mountains. It is very valuable, I can assure you."

     We both smiled a bit after recalling the outcome of the last adventure.

"Since the northwest mountains extend off of the recorded maps of the continent, I was wondering if you'd come along to act as both a chronicler and a cartographer... as well as helping me as you did last time. I don't know what lies up there, but I'd prefer to have you along for a number of reasons," she paused a bit, "First of all, after a bit of walking, we'll leave on the midnight river barge and sail up the river until we get close enough to finished the journey on foot. I've already prepared for two horses to be left at the barge depot, but I'm not sure how they'll fare as we get closer to the mountains. We can leave either tonight, if you're ready, or tomorrow night."

"I'd be fine with leaving tonight," I said, "I already have most of my things prepared, and I just need to pack a few more things if you want me to be making maps. And some food."

"I already have enough food to take, unless..."

"Vegetables, yes."

     Her face mockingly contorted.

"So, uh, tonight," she said, "I'll be back in a few minutes; I just need to walk around for a bit..."

"Don't get stoned while you're out... stoned to death."

********************

     Log 2/26:

     Meeting Zed again felt weird... it was strange, really. He seemed uncomfortable, and kept rubbing his arm nervously. His face looked worn and tired, but as far as I can tell, he's got plenty of sleep. Perhaps he's troubled by something? I hope my presence isn't irritating or disturbing him- I'd hate to be a burden to him, or, even worse, put him in danger on this trip. He's a very wonderful and invaluable ally.

     On another note, I think going into uncharted regions will be one of the greatest undertakings we will accomplish; I can't imagine anything that would be more exciting than venturing into the unknown! Perhaps going out to sea would take the adventure a step further, but after my last encounter with pirates, I wouldn't want to take such a risk- I've heard that pirates and strange monsters flourish unchecked in the far areas of the world's oceans.

********************

      We left at about 10 o'clock so we would have time to reach the barge, but fortunately (for once), she overcalculated the distance, so we got there more than an hour early. We went to the depot, and she showed me the horses, both of them fine, strong beasts, as well as the crate that contained all the things we would need. However, she kept the package with herself the entire time.

     When it was time to leave, we went to the barge and got on. The captain greeted each passenger after they were on, but stopped us when he saw that Annie was carrying a package.

"No, no mizz," he shook his hands as he spoke, "you gotta put de peck-ege in de hold. I canna let you take it on de deck and in you cabin."

"This is a very important package," she said, as calmly as she could (it was apparent she didn't want to have to deal with such frivolous things), "I must take it with me."

"No," the captain said bluntly, in his strange accent, "you sign the agreement, you listen to de rulesez. Else I not let you on de ship."

"Fine!" she replied, stamping her foot on the wooden deck, "But make sure nothing happens to it! It's very very very valuable and, I assume, delicate!"

"Good mizzy," the way he spoke disturbed me, especially the inflection he took with this sentence, "my men good. They take your box down carefweee."

     We went to the cabin, which was just spacious enough to not be claustrophobic; there was a single bunk bed, and the bathroom area was connected directly to the entrance and sleeping area, separated only by a small wall (but, alas, no door) with peeling wallpaper.

"Hopefully we won't be here too long," I mumbled, but what I said must have gone unheard.

"This is a very... conservative room. Much like the rest of the ship. The bed is fine, but I can't sleep easily while I'm still thinking of the package: I'd hate to have it get damaged," Annie said. Then, she seemed to be speaking to herself, "Maybe I'll go and see if I can get in the hold to check on it every so often."

     She hopped up onto the top bunk and lay back, crossing her arms over her stomach. I didn't feel too tired, so I walked around the room for a bit, as long as I could bear. I finally decided to go over to the sink with my notebook and start writing.

TO BE CONTINUED, IN PART 2
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on February 21, 2014, 01:40:24 PM
Annie and Zed: The Heart of Mt. Coldclaw part 2

     After I had wrote a bit about the events of the day (after much frustration due to leaning and writing on the abnormally small counter), I finally began to feel tired, and went to the bed to sleep. As Annie had observed beforehand, the bed was fine, and it troubled me not, but what I worried about was having another nightmare; although I suspected the one I had previously would haunt me no more, earlier, I had felt a little provoked by Annie's appearance, despite my happiness in seeing her again, and was afraid that it would affect me- seeing how much she had changed (this may seem odd given the short time we were together for, but during that time, we really came to know more about one another, as if we had met and known each other long before then) had unnerved me; in a way which I cannot fully describe, it felt strange to see her adopt and embrace the greedy society we despise.

     My own personal troubles and opinions aside, the night passed quickly once I fell asleep; fortunately, unlike I had feared, I had no nightmares. All was going fine until a sudden and quite noisy jolt awakened me during the night- I knew not at what time it was, however- that seemed to come from outside the cabin.

"Hey," I said, in a voice I thought to be loud enough to wake Annie, "did you hear that?"

     I waited for a response, but heard none, and decided to get out and investigate myself; I bumped my head in the process, causing me to look up at the top bunk. It was then that I saw that Annie was not there. I put two and two together and ran outside, throwing the door open with a clang. There, Annie was duking it out with two men who I could instantly see were very thug-like, and were likely thugs (not to draw premature conclusions or anything). I observed that the boat had stopped, a gangplank had been lain down, and in the distance, a group of people were mounted on horses.

     Annie dodged a punch from one man, but was tripped by another, being kicked into the wall. The two ruffians took this opportunity to escape over the gangplank, push it into the water, mount their horses, and flee.

"They took the package, Zed!" she yelled at me, exasperated, "They set us up! That 'captain,' is nothing but a common crook!" She paused to catch her breath. "We have to go after them... wait a minute! The horses; they're still in the hold- they couldn't take them."

     Together, we ran to the hold; when there, she pointed to a crate for me to open while she readied the horses- inside were two guns: a revolver (as far as I could tell, it was the one I had used during our last adventure, but greatly refurbished), and a semi-automatic pistol. I grabbed them and a few boxes of ammo next to them, and went over to Annie, who already got both horses out. We mounted and pounded up to the deck; the ship was still motionless in the water. At high speed, we jumped over the edge of the ship and onto the land. From what we remembered of where the thieves went, we made a quick decision and rushed to the left of the ship. I hoped that we could follow them without getting lost.

     We rode on for a bit longer and were rewarded with definitive tracks- we were on the right trail. We kept following these tracks in the mud until we reached a small side stream branching off of the main- at some places, it wasn't very wide across, but in other places, it was nearly as wide as the river. We rode alongside the stream until the tracks disappeared. That meant that they either went away from the stream, or jumped across it.

"This way Zed; we can't lose them!"

"I think they went across the stream- look: sometimes it's just narrow enough to be able to jump across, although the distance would discourage us from trying. If we could make it, then I'm sure they could, and I'm certain that's the path they would've taken!"

"But if they didn't, all we're doing is losing valuable time! And besides, what if we don't make it?"

     I circled around my horse until I was a fair ways away, and then I turned toward the river and urged the horse forward- as we approached the the riverbank, we leapt over, landing on the other side with a few inches to spare.

"It's safe," I announced, "and I think I see some more tracks over here. Stop your worrying and come over already!"

     After she had jumped over in the same manner as I, we continued following the path. Eventually, we got farther away from the river and came upon some hills. Over their tops, I could see a thin wisp of smoke rising- perhaps a campfire?

"If I'm not mistaken," I said, "then that's likely them up ahead. They seem to have stopped to set up camp; I bet they think they've lost us! We should go carefully up ahead."

     The brush that lay in front of us started to get thicker, until the point where we decided that it would be better to walk the rest of the way. Besides, we said, it wasn't too much father, and it would give us a better element of surprise. Shortly after, we came into view of five jovial men standing around the campfire, flaunting their stolen goods up in the air for nobody but themselves to see. I looked over to my right a bit and saw their horses grazing nearby. They must have, like us, preferred not to take them through the bushes, all the better for us. Without their horses so close to them, they wouldn't be able to escape as quickly.

     We were just about ready to make our way over when we noticed that there was absolutely nothing for cover between us and them but a few patches of grass- they had cleared out everything around their little camp. Slightly hindered, but still determined, we crawled across the field, very slowly, our guns prepared to fire. Despite all of our careful planning, however, we were spotted.

"Ay! Who goes there? Be it an animal o a person?" It was the 'captain' who spoke- I could tell from his voice. His accent was different, for the most part, but some of the ways he pronounced his words seemed similar.

"Look at those two shadows," I could hear somebody else whispering.

"Yes, it's definit'ly a person," someone else said, "or two."

"We can see yew!" the 'captain' yelled again. "Get up, now!"

     We slowly rose until we were somewhat-crouching.

"All right, we give up!" Annie said, "We're coming over!"

"Another victory for the Ballsy Bandits!" a drunken cheer came from the men.

     Annie started snickering, then broke down laughing.

"What kind of a..." she laughed, "what kind of a dumb name is that!" We were now close enough so we could avoid yelling.

"It's our name..." said one of them, dejected.

"I thought it was a good name," said another one.

"You two aren't helping!" their leader said, "Just ignore her!"

"Does every dull-brained all-male outlaw group need to have some sort of silly alliteration in its name? I mean, that's even worse than the 'Rainbow Red' pirates... at least their name makes sense when you think about it!"

"Well our name makes sense too!" they jeered.

"STOP IT ALREADY!" the leader turned his back to us and faced the other four. "Stop paying attention to her! She's just tryin' to make us feel bad- all of yous are great men! And remember who thought of our name, eh? Your great leade..."

     This distraction provided a great opportunity for Annie. She quickly pulled out her pistol and shot him from behind: the others recoiled from the sound. By the time he hit the ground, they had already unholstered their own weapons, and some had started firing. We scurried away to where the brush was more plentiful and provided more places to hide. As we were doing so, we could see that they were moving to their horses, their stolen objects strapped to their backs.

"Aim for their heads," Annie told me, "we don't want to risk damaging anything."

     We had a distinctive advantage from our place amongst the bushes. They were merely firing blindly at us, but we had clear shots at them. Although it was dark outside, we could see them fairly well. We managed to pick off two of them during the time they were walking over, and another one after he had mounted. The final one escaped, however.

"You go over and get the horses," she said, "and I'll check to see if any one them had the package."

     As chance would have it, none of them had the package she was looking for. Now we were forced to pursue the last man. She loaded the pieces of the cargo we had collected onto our horses and mounted. Then, we galloped off after him.

********************

     The man rode further away from the river and in the direction of a clump of trees that could barely be considered anything more than a backyard garden. They weren't much to look at, but they would give him an edge if he reached them before us.

"Faster Zed! We need to catch up!"

     I got out my revolver and shot at him. It would have hit, had he not jumped off and landed in the bushes around the trees. My not-so-carefully aimed bullet hit the horse somewhere around its head, and it crumbled to the ground. As he ran behind a tree, it was our turn to jump off our horses and use them for cover. We exchanged a few shots but inevitably got nowhere. We were at a complete standstill. We tried slowly walking our horses over, but that was tedious and diverted our attention from finding him- if he had more foresight, he probably would have caught on to our tactics and used that opportunity to escape... but he was determined to die valiantly. Or in a ballsy way, one could say.

     After a while, however, his blind shooting payed off, and he hit my horse in its hoof. It reared, nearly knocking me back, and ran off, holding its bad foot in the air all the way. I stumbled to my right and towards Annie. Seeing my predicament, she yelled out to the bandit to distract him. It seems these bandits were of the easily-distracted variety.

"Well, look like we got a genuine horse-hitter on our hands... now tell me... what kind of bandit joins a group called the 'Ballsy Bandits'?" She paused a bit, as if seriously expecting a response.

"I'll tell you! AN-"

     A clumsily-fired shot whizzed by us.

"Over there!" Annie whispered to me, pointing to a shiny gun barrel sticking through the bushes.

     I fired directly at it, and hit the man in his hand. He cried out and dropped the gun. We ran up and tackled him together, beating him repeatedly with our fists and guns. When we had enough of practically bashing his skull in, we searched around for the box. It was lying, undamaged, underneath him.

     We went back over to Annie's horse. Mine had ran off, and left a trail of stuff behind. We didn't bother chasing after it, and just went back to the bandits' camp to get a few of theirs.

"I can only wonder what's so valuable in this box that it couldn't have just been sent by standard shipping," I said, half to myself.

     Annie was clinging onto the box like it was some sort of prized jewel. I had only gotten one clear look at the things that were written on it- one side held a label that read "To: Diggory; From: Elizabeth and Joseph."

     The trip back to the barge was otherwise quiet. Because we didn't want to try and jump the river with our horses having cargo strapped onto their backs, we had to take the long way around, passing by the lake where the stream ended. The sound of the horses' hooves and nighttime animals filled the air. The near-silence was relaxing in a way.

"Y'know... those bandits," Annie said, "they were real intelligent, the lot of them. I'm surprised they even managed to form a plan to rob the ship."

     We got back to the barge shortly after; some of the genuine crew members had gone to a nearby city and recruited a retired captain to finish the trip up the river. Aside from the few that were on the boat, there weren't many capable hands aboard, and thus, after we had sorted through everything below deck, we were asked to help around. Most of the time, though, we just sat around- overall, I felt it was a waste of time given how little we had slept so far, but I couldn't object to the crew's request.

     It was a little past sunset when we reached our stop: from this point on, the river circled around a bit and went farther away from the mountains. This was as close as we were going to get. I was glad that we had the horses with us, so we wouldn't have to walk the entire distance- although we would have to as we climbed the mountain, riding on horseback all of the way up until that point allowed us to conserve energy. Annie got everything ready for our departure from the boat.

"All ready then?" she asked. "Good! Let's go! There's not too much left, and everything so far has gone swimmingly... except for a few interruptions. But that's why we're together, right?"

     I stepped off the boat and let out a deep sigh; I noticed that I could see my breath. Were we already that far north? At this point, I stopped to jot down a few notes while Annie was finishing preparing things. I'm a neat person, but I could never be that organized- she's really worried about doing well on this job.

********************

     Log 2/27:

     Perhaps I'm overreacting, but I'm concerned about the delivery; I'm genuinely considering taking whatever it is we have to deliver out of its package and using the empty box as a decoy: it certainly wouldn't be the strangest thing to do. I'm worried that something will go wrong and we'll be unable to get the package back- that I'll disappoint on my first major delivery.

     I've only slept for about five hours since I left Coral City, and when I have slept, I haven't done so comfortably, but I still feel really energetic and alert. I'll probably collapse eventually if I keep this routine, but as long as I can keep it up, I'll do it.

     We're headed up the mountain soon. I think there's supposed to be a village near here- one of the last inhabited place as you get to the edge of the map. Speaking of which, I wonder what extends beyond this mountain range, and how long it goes on for. We're going to take a little trip to try and map the terrain after the job is done, though, after seeing what's out here, I'm not too sure that we'll be ready to face what's further out. Are there more creatures like those in the forest? I remember those vividly, from what little we saw of them, and I know that it wouldn't be pleasant to get up close and personal with them. We got past those narrowly.

     At least I know what's up ahead on the mountain. There should be no other people on there to stop us, which means that it's only us versus the weather.

********************

     After what seemed like hours, we set up towards the mountain, fully prepared- Annie made that a complete certainty. As she predicted, there was a small village not too far along. We passed through without stopping, except to ask its inhabitants for advice for getting to the top, and where that "Diggory" man is, safely. They directed us to a man known as the Mountain Shaman, a wise old hermit residing close to the village in his own hut- they go to him for advice on the little matters of their lives, and think he sustains himself on the magical energy coming from his staff. A bit of a weird belief, but if he is truly knowledgeable about the mountain, we'll want to at least go and meet with him.

     The Shaman's hut was well-constructed, but still looked as if it could fit in amongst the villagers' own houses. Although a bit cautious about leaving our horses out in the open, we had to do so in order to enter the hut. The inside was meager, but cozy in a way. The man who I presume was the Shaman sat in a chair with its side facing the door. There was a small fire pit in front of him, with a little flame in it. He turned around as if he knew we were coming and spoke to us.

"Ah," he spoke with a grumbly voice with an air of wiseness- or what I perceived as wiseness- "you are different from the others who come here. I can tell you're not from here."

     His face had a distinct quality and echoed with a presence of strength, as if he had been here for a long time, and could easily survive on his own in the wilderness. Immediately, I could sense that he was the real deal.

"Yes, sir," Annie said, quietly- she had the same impression of him as I, "we need to get to the top of the mountain."

"Not many people come here for recreational hiking."

     She was about to interrupt him, but he spoke again.

"You'll have to leave your horses outside. The villagers and I will take good care of them. You can only take what you must up the mountain. The way itself should be easy; just keep climbing straight. There's a little forest as you go up, and there, it starts to get steep. If you find the right path, though, you will not encounter much struggle.

     He got up out of his chair and went to grab firewood from a pile in the corner; he wore a tan parka with a bright white fur lining. In his hand, he held a long wooden staff- at the top of the staff was a dull red gemstone. The stone was large, about the size of my stretched-out hand, and looked as if it had once been cut flawlessly, but somehow worn away at and bent out of shape. Annie took notice of it as well.

"Sir... what's that? On your walking stick?"

"Aaahhhh..." he drew this out for a long time, as if many others had asked this question in the past. "It is a rare type of gemstone from the far, far south of the world. It is a powerful thing, very durable and brilliantly colored... but over the years, it becomes worn out. The people here call it the Heart of Mt. Coldclaw, for when it is new, it radiates an energy that feels as if it comes from the earth itself. Most of those people only know this place as their home- they haven't traveled all across the continent like I have."

     Annie and I stood there, silently, expecting him to elaborate. He, too remained silent.

"Well," he grumbled after some time, "you better get a move on- it isn't getting any earlier while you're just standing here!"

     We went outside and scoured the supplies, taking what was essential and leaving everything else behind... which meant that we ended up leaving most of the things we had taken behind. After this was finished, we began our long trek up the mountain. The walking was tedious, but definitely not as much so as that of our previous adventure; despite the slight incline, I was doing fairly well, as over the past few months, I had resolved to get more physical exercise in the form of walking and jogging.

     Eventually, we got to the forest described by the Shaman. The sun was low in the sky by that time, so I suppose we must have been walking for several hours- the time passed quickly, as Annie and I talked about what each of us had been doing in the previous months. Nonetheless, I was a bit exhausted after the long trip up, so I asked if we could rest at the edge of the forest for a little time. The forest itself wasn't too magnificent- just some evergreens here and there, and maybe a group of them together ever once in a while- but it was a change from the white snow and grey rocks we had seen on the mountain so far.

     Thus, after resting, we started through the little forest. Glancing around, I took in the view- on one side, the sun setting, and on the other side, the moon, already high up in the sky. I breathed in and out, and listened to the noises of nature to help me relax...

     I heard a howl- definitely a wolf. Not too close, though, so that was good. Another howl. That's a little bit closer, I thought. A third howl...

"That's..." I spoke out loud, although I intended to just speak to myself.

     I looked over to my left again. There were two wolves standing a short distance away from us.

"Right... next to us..." I hesitated in my walk, then grabbed Annie by her shoulder. "Stop," I said to her, "there are wolves to our left. We need to proceed quietly if we don't want to alert them."

"I think it's too late," she whispered, handing me the revolver, "look around us."

     She was right. In all directions except in front of and behind us, there were wolves- about eight of them total. There was an extremely small chance that they hadn't noticed us, but if they had, we would have a tough time getting through unscathed, if at all. We seemed to have a terrible experience with forests- there were always some sort of wild creatures attacking us.

"On three, we run," Annie announced... "one... two..."

     We heard a loud yodeling coming from somewhere below; I turned around just in time to see a figure standing on a ledge, waving his arms- in one arm, he had some sort of long stick or weapon of some sort; from this distance, I couldn't really tell.

"Uh... three!" she said.

     Both of us ran away as fast as our legs could take us as the wolves were attracted to the yodeling man; a single wolf decided to stick with us as a target, but I shot two rounds at him (or her?), and it fell back, wounded.

"I think we lost them!" Annie yelled to me.

"Better to keep runnin... oof!" I bumped into something and fell over.

     Annie skidded to a halt and slipped on the snow a bit. I looked up at what- or who, rather- was standing over me; it was a tall, intimidating man. I opened my mouth to speak, but no words came out. He opened his mouth, took a deep breath, and spoke...

TO BE CONTINUED, IN PART 3
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on March 09, 2014, 12:22:01 PM
Annie and Zed: The Heart of Mt. Coldclaw part 3

"Well," the man spoke in a rough accent, "a boy 'n a girl up on Mount Inhospitable. I dinnen't expect to see another human soul up 'ere."

     I backed up a bit and leaned up on my elbows.

"I don't bite! Stand up boy!"

     I stood up; Annie walked over, and we both faced him.

"Who... who are you and what are you doing here?" I asked.

"That's better boy- some friendly speech. As for your question, I'm a hunter, and by my name, I'm 'ere to hunt some of them animals- the bears, the coons down the mount n the foxes- just about anything."

"Your name?" Annie asked.

"Ah... now the girl speaks too. My name is Rodgert. Want to know anything else about me?"

"Do you know the way up the mountain?"

"It's my first time this far up the mountain as well. I dun knowwit, but I guess we could figure it out together. Except I'm not intending to head much farther up: I'm just huntin a beast my papi died huntin- somethin the natives know about a'well. A giant fire salamander, they describe it as- say its skin glows brightly against the snow but doesn't melt it, and breathes fire."

"That's certainly an interesting beast," I thought for a moment. "Can we help you in any way?"

     Annie stepped on my foot as if to tell me, "NO! What are you doing!?!?" I nudged her away with my elbow.

"Y'know... that wouldn't be half bad. I could always use another two good hands, and then we could work up the mount toget'a."

"Agreed," I said.

     We set out, following Rodgert- he went slightly ahead, following some tracks that he said were left by the creature.

"Why'd you do that Zed?" Annie chided me, "It's going to take us longer to get up the mountain now!"

"I get a feeling about this man... a somewhat mixed one. We need to be friendly with him; I think he can help us if we do something for him first. And besides, as we saw with the wolves, it's always better to travel with more people in the group."

"Alright then..." she sulked.

     Annie had the package in the pack she was carrying on her back, along with some emergency food. I looked at her, then down at the ground: a thin trail of blood streaked across the snow. Rodgert wasn't just following tracks- he was following blood. He must have already seen this creature we were following- or something like it.

"Rodgert..." I called ahead, "have you actually seen this salamander? Or have you only heard about it?"

"You're right," he said. "I haven't actually seen it... but my papi did. He told me all about it, and he followed it until his death. I know whatever we're followin is something big. Earlier, I'd set out traps for big critters, and this thing was big enough to trigger one of 'em. Either it's a bear or... something else entirely."

"Fair enough."

     We trudged on through the snow. At this point, the mountain curved at an odd incline, and we had to work to keep our footing. I wondered how determined the hunter really was, and how far he'd go to get what he wanted.

********************

     Across the mountain we followed Rodgert, over ledges, both up and down, and through tunnels. We weren't too sure how far we had gone from where we met him, but overall, the terrain stayed very similar. This was a snowy mountain, after all. After a while, the trail of blood thinned out into nothingness, but the tracks stated. After a while, we had traveled far enough to the point where we could see the ocean- the edge of the recorded map. I looked to the right, and saw that the land continued on for some time in that distance. Not endless, I assumed, but very, very far.

"This is about the place," Rodgert said to us. "See them there caves? Those bigguns? There's likely something big in there! Might not be what I'm looking, but big is good. Definitely a start of a fine huntin trip."

     Together, we made our way over to the caves. Annie and I slipped a few times on the rocks on the way down, much to the annoyance of Rodgert, who shook his head. When we got to the cave, we could see a stream of smoke coming from deep within it. Rodgert was practically jumping up and down.

"Any-a you got another gun?" he questioned.

"Sure... Annie, give him your pistol."

     She practically froze in place.

"Well, go on Annie."

     Nothing.

"All right then... take this revolver. It's a fairly good gun."

     I handed him the revolver, and he grinned.

"I'll be back, ladies and gents. I hope this in'nt just a campfire or something," he muttered.

     We watched as he crouched and made his way inside.

"What are you doing Zed!" Annie pushed me lightly, catching me unprepared, and nearly making me lose my balance. "You're trusting him too much! He could be an uncivilized brute out to kill us an steal all of our stuff!"

"He appears fine. I'm not sure of his moral fiber, but he seems loyal, given the right circumstances. You're too quick to judge him."

"Too quick? That's some thing to say about me! Isn't that just what you're doing?"

"Well, if I am judging him too quickly, at least I'm not being unfair to him."

"Unfair? It's our lives at stake, Zed!"

"Has being with the rich people made you a snob!?" I said this a bit louder than I intended. Annie was visibly taken aback.

"Is... is that what you think of me? I'm... I'm sorry. I snapped at you too quickly. You're right."

"It's okay; I got a bit too angry as well. I just... don't know. Something's changed since I last met you. I don't know whether it's because you're different from when I knew you last, or because I found out more about you, and you're different than I expected."

"I don't know either Zed," she said somberly.

     She paced around for a bit, reaching down and picking up bits of snow occasionally. I walked in front of the cave, and heard noises inside, like wrestling. So much for those two guns; he must've been a man who liked to brawl.

"Uh, need any help in there!?" I called out into the mouth of the cave."

"NO!" a shout came back. "I. GOT. THIS. ONE... MY! IT'S A FRIKKEN BIG THING!"

     Despite his response, I motioned Annie over, and walked inside. We saw Rodgert wrestling with a large, bright-skinned lizard with radiant scales, and hard spikes protruding from its back, one of which he was grabbing tightly onto. The beast kept trying to shake him off, but one of its feet looked as if it had been caught in a bear trap (then, I remembered, it probably was), and another had been shot several times, giving it only two usable legs to work with. If it hadn't had such giant fangs, I almost would have felt bad for it.

     At last, when he had gotten it tired enough to stop struggling so viciously, he drove a knife into the side of its head. He pulled out the knife and sawed at its head, and then its tail, lifting his bloody trophies up high. He broke into crazed laughter.

"Ah hah ha! That was it alright, and quite a fun fight it put up. Truly a legendary beast; I think there are more of them here- if only..."

"You know," Annie groaned impatiently, "I'd love to go wipe out an entire species in a day, but remember, we have a mountain to climb. We went along with you, and now it's only fair that you come with us."

"True, true. Now, we'll have to make our way back to Mount Coldclaw- I say we've strayed a little from it."

     Thus, we set out back across the path we had traveled. I must say, he was quite a skilled tracker- we were able to get back to the general area around the mountain without any more trouble we had going to the caves. By that time, it was nighttime, and Rodgert insisted on making a camp for the night. We all deserved a rest, he said. I had a positive outlook on the rest of the trip. Why not?

********************

     Log 3/1:

     Zed was right earlier; I was too quick to judge Rodgert. He's not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, or the most sane, but he's somewhat loyal, as Zed described him as; I guess that's most of the people we encounter, though. The delay on climbing up the mountain was at first unwelcome, but now it's nothing more than an entertaining little diversion. And I've had plenty of experience with those...

     I'm still thinking about what else Zed said earlier- that I'm becoming too much of a snob; that I've spent too much time around the people of Coral City. On one hand, I'm concerned that he's right, but on the other hand, I know that there can be really nice people there. I think all of our perceptions are clouded by what we know about the people or things we are judging: the people of Coral City see everyone on the outside as savages, and they see the people of the upper class as careless and greedy. I wonder if they can't just all make peace and work together as a functioning society.

     The three of us, Zed, Rodgert, and I, have made a camp right now- hopefully a time where I can finally get some good sleep! Just to be careful, I'm going to check on the package again- why not. It never hurts to be too paranoid in a place like this...

********************

     Before we went to sleep, Rodgert offered me some meat he had collected from the salamander; it had a spicy tang to it, fittingly enough. I could tell he was proud of his accomplishment, completing the work of his father. Sure, it wasn't exactly as it had been described- it didn't breathe fire, for one thing- but it was still some monster.

     I looked over to Annie, who was fidgeting with her pack- of course, she pulled out the package, and kept inspecting it, making sure there were no cracks, breaks in the box, or any holes, etcetera. Rodgert caught an eye of it too.

"Hey... what that you got there?" he edged closer.

"It's nothing," she said, "just something we have to deliver."

"That's a very interesting box; can I see it?"

"No. It's very valuable, and it might be delicate."

     Despite Annie's protests, he put his hand out and looked at the box.

"You're from the crystal city, aren't you?"

"Yes, I work there; why were you wondering?"

"It's... not often you see someone from there comin up here. Just not usual."

     He got a strange facial expression and became quiet afterwards. When I thought he had fallen asleep, I began talking to Annie.

"Let me have the box," I stated, "I can take care of it for once: you don't have to put such strain on yourself."

"No, Zed, I'm fine. I've already gotten this far with it, I might as well keep it until the end."

"I thought it would be best to offer. Well, goodnight then."

     She hugged the box tightly and then closed her eyes, something which, to me, looked very uncomfortable. She was stubborn enough to keep the package with her at all times. I looked up at the stars and sighed. It was cold here, but we were close enough to the fire to be fairly warm; we'd have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, I thought to myself...

TO BE CONCLUDED, IN PART 4
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on March 10, 2014, 03:21:51 AM
Annie and Zed: The Heart of Mt. Coldclaw part 4

     When I awoke, it was still night- or, at least I thought it was at first. Clouds blocked the sky, and snow fell all around us. Wonderful: a snowstorm.

"Rodgert!" as I spoke, I walked over to where I had seen him last, "wake up!"

     I got no response.

"Annie! Wake up!"

     No response either. I walked back over to her; she was still sleeping. I crouched and yelled a bit louder.

"Hey Annie! There's a snowstorm; it's best if we're all awake so we can make a better shelter!"

     She begun to stir.

"What? Snowstorm?" she shook some snow out of her hair.

"Yes. We need to wake Rodgert up so we can formulate a plan of action. It's not exactly good to be climbing up a mountain in the middle of a snowstorm, so I think we should find some materials and make a better shelter. Y'know, so we can wait the storm out."

     She leaped up off the ground, and walked over to Rodgert's sleeping bag.

"Rodgert! I don't know how heavy of a sleeper you are, but you need to wake up, like now! We're in the middle of a snowstorm and we have nothing to defend ourselves from the elements! You need to..." she paused, and turned to face me.

"What is it?" I asked, tensing up.

"Did you notice what I wasn't holding when you woke me up."

"Oooohh..."

"Yeah. So much for Rodgert."

     Annie looked around for any tracks, but anything there was had been already obscured by the falling snow.

"Which way did you think he went, Zed?"

"Annie, it's not good to be going any further in the middle of a snowstorm; we're on a mountain, remember, and in this kind of weather, it's hard to see where we're going!"

"It's better than freezing to death just standing here, isn't it?"

"I'll tell you again, it's better to wait until the storm calms a bit!"

"Fine; I guess I'll just go alone, if that's what you think!"

"It's not a matter of what I think!" I yelled off in the distance as she walked away, up the mountain, "It's a matter of what's best!... hey, wait up!"

     Seeing as there was no way to change her mind, I followed after her.

"You're going to get us killed one of these days! If I even decide to follow you on another risky adventure ever again!"

********************

     I ran through the torrent of snow. It pounded down on my face and nearly blinded me; I stumbled about, but could see Annie just ahead. Then I heard a gunshot.

"Don't come any closer!" it was Rodgert who spoke. "I don't wanna hafta hurt you, but I will! Just just me have what's in the pretty ol' box, and I won't bother you again!"

"What's in there is important! It's not for you!"

     I caught up to Annie; I could see Rodgert's outline through the snowstorm.

"You're walking on thin ice Rodgert!"

"It's just gonna hafta be this way, then?"

     Annie shot at him, but hit the ground. That's uncharacteristic of her.

"All right then!" Rodgert aimed directly at her...

     CRACK!

"I meant it literally when you were walking on thin ice."

     The ground shattered beneath Rodgert, and he fell through the opening in the ice. The box was flung up into the air; Annie jumped forward to catch it in time, but missed it. It landed right on the edge of the fissure. She crawled towards it very carefully... and finally grabbed it.

"What a relief!" Annie said, "I almost thought... AAGH!"

"What's wrong!?"

"He grabbed me!"

     I ran over, sliding on the ice. Rodgert was hanging onto the ice with one hand, and holding tight onto Annie's leg with the other.

"Let her go Rodgert! Don't be so spiteful!" I realized that was such a silly thing to say, but I couldn't think of anything else at the time.

     He growled and lowered his hand that was on the ice, and pulled out his gun from its holster.

"No!" I shouted, and charged ahead.

     I felt a pain in my leg, and crumbled onto the ground.

"What a fool I am!" I thought, "He was aiming for me!"

     Seeing me temporarily incapacitated, he precariously reloaded his gun. Annie kicked him, distracting him even more; she kicked him once again, making him lose grip on his gun. There was my chance- I sprung to him, and wrenched his hand away. It was too late, however: our momentum caused the three of us to be dragged down and into the crevasse. Rodgert fell away from us in the air and landed against another, deeper crack. Before he could grab anything else, he dropped down, and into it. We landed on the hard stone directly beneath the fissure. I writhed in pain until I was lying on my back.

"So... ungh... are you alright?" I asked Annie.

"Aside from the fact that we're trapped down here, yes, I'd say I'm alright. And you? It sounded like Rodgert shot you."

"That's exactly what he did- in my leg." I tried to sit up and lean against the wall. "What now?"

"I honestly don't know. The surface is too high up to reach, especially with your hurt leg, and I don't see any other place we can go to from this cave."

"We're just going to starve to death then... or freeze before then. That's wonderful."

     I looked upward; we could reach the ledge...

"Is anything troubling you?" I asked, "Aside from the fact that we're down here?"

"Yes. It's... my birthday tomorrow. I thought we were going to be back by then, so I didn't tell you."

"Urgh..." I shook my head, "I knew we shouldn't have gone out."

     Once more, I glanced at the ledge.

"We're going to get out of here! It doesn't hurt to try; I'll stand underneath the ledge as best as I can, and you can try to jump off my shoulders. You can go get help for me."

     I stood up, cringing as I moved my leg; hobbling over to the wall, I ended up putting my back against it.

"Alright... I'm ready."

     She walked over; right before she climbed on my shoulders, she nodded her head- after she did, I realized that this wasn't going to work: I could barely hold her weight, and was already struggling from the pain.

"I'm going to jump!"

"Please... do that..."

     I heard her gasp, and she tumbled off, pushing me to the ground as well.

"What happened?" I questioned.

     A voice came from above before she could say anything.

"Hello down there- what chance I should find you two here!" It was the Mountain Shaman. "I was on my way up the mountain, and I heard a scuffle. Now, normally, I don't go wandering off in the middle of such a wild storm, but it thought it was important- and it was!"

"You have some way to get us out of here?" I asked.

"By coincidence, I have a rope with me; I'll put it down, and you can climb up."

     Annie insisted that I went first. I struggled up the rope, but managed to get all the way to the top. The Shaman helped me up onto safe ground; Annie was next.

"If you two are still headed up the mountain... you might as well come with me. I'm going there as well."

"Yes, thank you sir," Annie said, "but Zed is injured."

"Come over here then, boy."

     I leaned on him, and he helped me along as I walked.

"I never asked you what you two were here for. It seems rather odd that two young people would just decide to climb up Mt. Coldclaw. Everybody I've known who doesn't live here wants to get as far away as possible."

"We came to delivery this package, sir." She held up the box in her hands.

"Let me see that." Annie hesitated. "Well, just hold it up so I can see it."

     Annie came closer and held the box towards us.

"Turn it over; I want to see the other side."

     He looked over the label.

"I know where this is headed. You better keep it safe until then."

     We suddenly stopped after going a bit further.

"Why did we stop here?" Annie wondered.

"You'll see in just a minute. Help Zed while you're waiting."

     I leaned on Annie as he walked over to a square indentation in the side of the mountain. He fiddled around with something I couldn't see, and there was a hissing noise- a door opened up, surprising both Annie and I.

"In here- I'll explain everything when we're inside."

     We went into the doorway and were awed; inside, we saw a huge column, surrounded by a circular walkway all the way around the hollow cavern. At various points along the walkway were alcoves where technicians worked on strange machines.

"Wow... what it this place...?" Annie stammered.

"To answer your question, this is a climate control facility- the only one on the planet. Aside from the one in Coral City, of course, but that one is on a much smaller scale, and nowhere as impressive as this one. However, I think proper introductions are in order: I am Diggory Jayne, and I believe that package is for me. You must be Annabelle?"

"Why... yes sir. But everybody calls me Annie."

"Very well then. Betty and Joe told me a lot about you, Annie. But what about your friend Zed?"

"I met him a while back; he's a very nice person," she seemed to forget that I was right next to her. "He was shot in the leg by a hunter we met. That's the scuffle you heard.

"Mmrm. Come over here, you two." He brought me over to some sort of flat table. "Get up on this, if you can."

     They both helped me up onto the table. Diggory pressed a button, and some sort of light passed over me.

"It's your lucky day: it missed your bones, but the wound is bleeding a lot. We'll have to get it bandaged." He pressed another button on the control panel. "If I had known what you two were here for, I would've just told you to wait until I was ready to go. I guess it's my fault for not asking: I expected a courier to be here, but I didn't know when."

     A nurse came out of a nearby door; soon, the wound was properly cared for.

"You should be able to walk without too much pain, but I'd let it rest whenever possible. Now, Miss Annie, for the package?" She handed it to him. "The lid's come loose... not much, though."

     He pried the lid off completely, and reached in; out of it, he pulled a bright red gem- the Heart of Mt. Coldclaw.

"Are you ready to see this in action?"

     He took the old gem off of his staff and placed it off to the side- a useless husk- and put the new one in. He walked over to a platform connecting the walkway to the column; when there, he opened a panel, revealing some type of energy core. He poked the gem inside, and tapped the core as if he were stoking a fire; the column came to life with a surge of energy. Below us and all around us was the whirring of machinery, and I could sense that something magnificent was going on. Diggory walked back over to us.

"Come over here now."

     Together, we walked across the circle and to a giant screen that apparently showed the outside- before us, a vast peninsula stretched out. I couldn't see where it ended.

"Before we set up shop on this mountain, that whole place was green. We couldn't have that- we had a vast shipment of polar animals that needed a home here, and the previous climate wasn't cold enough. We don't know what power that gem has, but we're glad for it- we've already gone through four of them, including the one I just tossed. Joe's been all over the world searching for the perfect ones. My job here is to make sure everything runs smoothly, and that involves interfacing with the locals- they think I'm literally a wizard. Ah... but enough about me; after all you two have gone through, I certainly have to ensure you get back in one piece!"

********************

     Log 3/2:

     Despite all that went wrong, in the end, everything turned out fine- we made the delivery and got out alive.

     Mr. Diggory Jayne took us on a hot air balloon ride away from the mountain, and we got to see the rest of the continent. I have yet to see the final results of Zed's writing capacity, but he does marvelous drawings; he decided to make a quick sketch of the land, and his attention to detail is quite literally visible on it- there are islands he drew that I never noticed!

     This time, we decided to bypass the river completely, opting to take a horse cart the rest of the way. Minus a broken wheel axle, the trip back home was completely free from danger. How come we always get in perilous situations while we're the in the middle of a job, and not after it!?!? It's nice that we get a little bit of a break, I suppose...

********************

     Annie departed at the somewhat-halfway point between our homes- Coral City and Alm. I still don't see how she can consider that place her home and be happy about it: just seeing the tips of the city's spires in the distance sends chills down my spine- what they represent, and how they have affected us all, bright smirks gazing down upon us.

     I made Annie promise to keep in touch on a regular basis, and she even suggested meeting next month if she has time off... although I said that we needed to visit a more peaceful place for once, I bet that she already has another daring adventure in mind. Oh well! The more thrills the merrier! It's a rather entertaining concept, living life on the edge for once.

     I'd best get back to writing; I think my potato soup is ready, though, so I must attend to that first. Oh my- now I'm just getting off on a tangent about unimportant things. I'll have to remind myself not to include this last paragraph when I get around to publishing the account of our adventure as a book, whenever that time comes.

THE END
...for now...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on April 03, 2014, 10:17:05 AM
The Retriever part 1

     He could hear himself breathing heavily. His vision of the world around him was getting foggy as his breath clouded the visor of his helmet. It wasn't long before he felt a strange sensation in his chest, as if he were laying down and an elephant were sitting on his chest... or if Petunia were sitting on his chest; that ol' dog was probably still at home with his relatives, hungrily accepting and munching down any little scrap from the table, then proceeding to get sick... the thought made him chuckle to himself, or rather, in his own head- yet, he could barely hear himself think with all the noise: his own breath, the fire of the assault rifle in his hands, and the screaming all around him. So much screaming.

     Despite many thoughts swirling in his head all at once, one statement rose to the top, ultimately pushing everything else down despite how he tried to avoid it: he had failed. It wouldn't be long before he was dead, either.

     He reloaded the rifle, but found no more ammo left. It was time for one last heroic stand, or, more importantly, time for the shotgun. He tossed the empty rifle aside and quickly replaced it; with his free hand, he tore off his helmet- at this point, it was only interfering with him. He was ready to fight, having a fair vantage point at the end of the room, and all his equipment prepared.

     Then, he saw it.

********************

     Footsteps reverberated through the hallway as metal boots made contact with the cold metal walkways that lined this part of the ship; although the floors in the passenger and recreational quarters used some sort of cheap plastic-like material that nobody could pronounce the name of correctly, the designers of this particular ship must have thought it necessary to have fancy metal walkways in the crew sections- for ambiance, possibly, however that mattered. To the man walking through there, the metal walkways worked both for and against him: he could hear whatever was coming, but they could hear him as well, and because he was in a metal exosuit, he assumed his footsteps could be heard throughout all of the hallways, and even through the doors.

     In his hands, he held a hybrid of a wrench and an abnormally large fork- both on the same end. He was using it as a blunt weapon, although usually it had a different purpose than that, of course- a much more important purpose- but occasionally, he still had to use it for what it had been designed.

     The hallway came to an end at a door- one leading to the cargo bay. Since that area had been completely sealed off, and its wall had likely not been penetrated, it would be a good place to search around; perhaps there would even be access to more of the ship from there. The man tried the control panel, but it didn't work... just his luck. He turned the business end of the tool (a very busy thing indeed) toward a notch in the door and fumbled around trying to insert it just right; he preferred using it as a weapon more than a tool, as it was very temperamental when performing its function and left him especially vulnerable to attacks from behind: it took him just a few minutes after his first usage of it to discover that fact.

     Finally, he remembered that he needed to put the key in at a certain odd angle, and eventually wedged it into the hole. Now came the difficult part. Under normal circumstances, whatever electronic devices had been put in the door would instantly recognize the device and initiate an automatic override of whatever security measures had been put into place on the door (and in addition, open the door), but because the power had shut off for all but the most essential tasks and machines on the ship, he had to activate the sensor manually, which involved wriggling the key around with both hands. A majority of the doors he had come across were of the ordinary variety, and could be swung open and closed on hinges (or pushed in the case of sliding doors), but heavier doors such as the one separating him from the cargo bay had to be opened from their respective control panels. In an earlier tour of the ship, he remembered hearing that doors could also be opened by an extensive process carried out on the bridge, or by way of the special technicians' keys, one of which he had in his possession right now.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 31, 2014, 07:44:21 AM
The Retriever part 2

Reserved until after the Halloween Horror Special 2014.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 31, 2014, 08:26:57 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2014 part 1
HELP ME

     Dear friend, I urge you to read the entirety of this letter, and swiftly follow through. I beg you to believe what I am about to say: I am suffering a fate worse than death, and I need you to help me. There are others whom I have contacted, but have done nothing to ease my pain. I NEED YOU TO HELP ME.

********************

     The man's eyes opened abruptly. He knew today was the day. Long ago- he couldn't quite remember if it had been months, or years- he had been known as X-Arm, resident hero of New Chicago City. So long ago, he had retired because- his memory was foggy, maybe because he was tired, or maybe because he chose not to remember- crime in the city had almost entirely vanished after he killed his longtime arch-enemy. He still felt guilty about killing him, but he kept reassuring himself that it was a necessary evil. Since then, however, crime inevitably returned, as the police force fell into disrepair from corrupt politics and careless officers. His innate sense of responsibility had been constantly eating away at him, especially since the string of murders over the past month, and he knew that it was time to make his glorious return.

     He half-rolled out of bed, stretching his legs as he stood up. He looked around the room- his shabby little apartment, or "humble" as he always preferred to call it- and finally made his way to the armoire. Just like to old days, he opened the right door, reached towards the back, turned the dial, and heard the click. He pulled open the secret door and brought out his suit. His suit... painstakingly woven from the finest materials; the armor crafted by hand at the forge... it was as beautiful as he remembered. It was finally time to put it on, once more.

********************

     X-Arm's return was documented on all the biggest newspapers throughout the country. Despite wanting to bask in all the glory, though, by nightfall, he was back to what he did best- beating up criminals on the street. On the news recently, he had heard about a new crime boss with a taste for arson; it was urgent, he decided, that he look into this. It wasn't too long before he came upon a gang of thugs roaming the streets in the "dark parts" of town; after defeating them, he interrogated them individually- only one said anything. They did, indeed, work for this new boss. Their boss's name was Mr. Hyde: the criminal didn't know too much about him, except that he was large and very intimidating (the man who described this, however, was rather short).

     Through the night, X-Arm fervently searched for more clues on this Hyde fellow, but was forced to retire for the night as the sun started rising- despite his super arm-extension powers, he still needed rest!

     X-Arm woke up a little later than usual; there was still enough time to catch the morning news, something he often watched- aside from keeping himself informed on current happenings, he got a sense of reassurance whenever he felt something positive. Most of the stories today, of course, were about him... but the final story grabbed his attention. The headline read: "INDUSTRIAL FIRE AT HERMAN PLANT. TWENTY-FOUR DEAD. SUSPECTED ARSON." He knew it was Hyde's work...

********************

     Many night of scrounging through the city did not yield much information- nothing more than a physical description (or, more accurately, a description of what he wore, as his face was supposedly covered) and the alleged number of followers he had. One night, after long hours weaving in and out of alleyways, X-Arm sat on a roof, pondering all that had happened since his return. His thoughts were interrupted by a smashing noise as a hulking figure came into view, landing on the roof. X-Arm studied it for a brief second, before coming to a realization: it was Hyde! He leapt towards Hyde, tackling him with the ferocity of a wild beast. He extended his arm to grab a brick lying nearby, and raised it to attack, when Hyde spoke:

"Friend, stop!"

     X-Arm was caught off guard, uncertainly holding the brick aloft.

"I believe you have me confused for somebody else," the man's voice sounded somewhat jovial, despite the situation he was currently in. "If I am not mistaken, you are looking for Mr. Hyde?" To this question, X-Arm nodded. "I, too, am looking for him. You see, he is my evil twin. If you'll let me up, I will properly introduce myself!"

     X-Arm got off of him and stood apprehensively.

"My name... is Dr. Jekyll," he said, while bowing gracefully. Long have I been searching to stop Hyde, and, I, knowing of your return, decided to seek you out to aid me, for I am almost entirely certain that you too are searching for Hyde... or am I mistaken?"

"Yes... I want to stop Hyde."

"Excellent! I happen to know where Hyde is stationed. If you are ready, I will lead the way to his headquarters!"

     The two made their way to Hyde's base- an abandoned warehouse, somewhere that, despite being a fairly common choice for a villainous lair, had not yet been searched by X-Arm- and made their plans of how to break in. Eventually, they just decided to storm in from above. They did so, gallantly breaking the windows, gallantly defeating the thugs present, and gallantly confronting Hyde. The evil man looked quite similar to Jekyll, although his clothes were tattered, and his mask twisted in a sinister half-grin. As Hyde called more thugs to the room, Jekyll moved to attack. As their battle raged on, X-Arm found himself, for once, overwhelmed, as minions grabbed and swatted at him from all angles. Just then, he saw Jekyll leap over to his aid, punching the criminals away with his powerful fists.

"You defeated Hyde already?" X-Arm asked, somewhat surprised. He turned, and, unexpectedly, saw Hyde, merely standing smugly at his throne. "B...but...?"

     X-Arm reached out to attack Hyde, but the villain grabbed him by his fists and pounded him against the arm. The hero fell to the ground with a cry of pain.

"Jekyll... do... something!"

     The two men stared at him. After a while, they walked toward each other. When they reached each other, instead of resuming their fight, they began taking off their costumes, dropping their capes, masks, etc. until they wore identical jumpsuits. Then, they swapped clothes, each donning the other's attire- the man who was once Jekyll was now wearing the demented costume of Hyde, and Hyde was indistinguishable from what Jekyll had once been.

"I think it's time we explain something to you... you see, we're what you'd call... visionaries. We aren't really twins- we're more like... clones. Nobody could ever appreciate our genius, so we decided to play a little high-stakes game- have a little fun with our brains. This city is our playground."

"But what does any of this have to do with me?"

"In no uncertain terms, you are a robot. We found you lying broken, forgotten, where you fell twenty years after your legendary battle. We just decided to... fix you up. Having a third party helps keep things... interesting, to say the least. One who conforms to certain standards, but still acts independently- and we can change you however we like, shall the situation require."

"Dear lord! You're crazy! Throwing away thousands of lives for your twisted entertainment! How can you do this?"

"We said it was high-stakes, didn't we?"

"You can't make me do this! I have an o... obligation to the city! I'll kill both of you!"

"I'm afraid you can't do that. We've programmed you to only kill who we allow you to. And before you mention it, you can't destroy yourself either." X-Arm could tell that their grins were widening under their masks.

"Dear lord!" He struggled for words in his disbelief.

"Now, friend... you should go on back to your apartment. You've already had a long day's work, and you need rest for tomorrow. After all, we have lots. Of. Games. To. Play."

"Lots of games... to play," X-Arm nodded, as if suddenly in a trance. "Games."

********************

     Dear friend, I urge you to find me, and destroy me, completely, before I am forced to undertake any more of the madness inflicted to me by these two mad men. You have only read a glimpse of what they have done- the beginnings of a long chain of my living hell. They have made me kill people, do countless terrible things to undermine the city's trust- all things I do not want to do, but cannot not do, because I am programmed to. They have no limit to their sadism- they care not for anything but their own "pleasure." PLEASE PLEASE HELP ME. OH DEAR LORD WHY.

     The rest of the note degrades into incomprehensible scribbling.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: THE MAN WHO TREADS WITH DEATH
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on November 03, 2014, 08:24:03 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2014 part 2
The Man Who Treads With Death

     Henry Arthur Mathis walked aimlessly through the forest. In his hand, he held a handgun; in his pocket were several bullets- in his other pocket was a switchblade knife. "David," as he preferred to call himself, had had enough with his life. Through his twenty-six years on earth, he had become disillusioned with the world. Just now, he had decided that, if he couldn't kill everybody else, he would kill himself.

     When he was younger, David was constantly tormented by his peers for his unfortunate name. Despite the fact that he was extremely slender- and was anorexic, perhaps as a result of the bullying- he was always insulted by names such as "Hammy," or "Piggy." David was never a very nice child to begin with, and these provocations only gave him more reason to lash out at the other children- at times, he became extremely violent, harming even those who did not bully him.

     David looked at the trees all around him; boredly, he pulled out the knife and hurled it at one of the trees. The knife struck the tree and sent splinters of bark all over the ground. He walked over to pull the knife out. Although it was stuck deep in the tree, with a bit of force, he pulled it out. Suddenly, a mass of branches and leaves, as if from nowhere, was hurled towards him, causing him to thrust his arms up to shield his face. After recovering, he quickly circled around, looking for something that could have thrown the branches at him. In the distance, he heard a loud noise that sounded like a heavy object smashing against a tree. He ran around, trying to pinpoint the direction it came from. Behind one of the trees, he found a thick trail of blood. He looked up, and saw that the tree was damaged and broken, as if something huge had run into it.

********************

     The blood went on for some distance; it followed a fairly straight path except where it could be seen that whatever was bleeding had run into more trees. Whatever it was... it was pretty big. It appeared as if it could fly- or at least jump- but not very well. The sun had set, but David barely noticed- or cared.

     In the distance, David heard a raspy noise that sounded like... a broken organ? The blood went over a hill, and he begun climbing. It was steep, but he was determined to find out what was going on. When he finally reached the top, he saw it: the creature was lying, curled in pain, at the base of a tree just over the hill- it was strange-looking, slightly birdlike, yet appearing to lack wings. It continually cried out, its raspy pipe organ voice emanating softly from it. David felt sorry for it, for a moment. Still, he was cautious, approaching it with his handgun raised. As he got closer, it opened its eyes and looked toward him. Its eyes had a simultaneous look of fear and intimidation. Uncertainly, David reached out one of his hands. Just before he touched it, it swept out with one of its claws, knocking him off his feet. He hit the ground forcefully, but was still conscious. Frantically, he aimed his gun and fired.

     He remembered, too late, that he had forgotten to load the gun. No more than a second later, the creature was on top of him; it raised its claw once more, and struck...

********************

     When he awoke, it was morning once again. His eyes opened slowly, with great effort. David felt a great aching pain through his body- especially in his legs. He groaned as he tried to sit up- he noticed the blood all around him. In his hand, he held a bloody knife; quickly inspecting himself, he found several gashes on his body. He looked behind himself at the trail of blood, seamlessly melding with the blood beneath him. What had happened last night...? Putting aside his original intentions for visiting the forest, David was now more determined than ever to find out what he saw last night- or, what he thought he saw. Had he really seen that strange creature and been attacked by it, or had he merely imagined it as he lay on the ground unconscious?

     Standing up, he looked all around. He was alone- there was no sign that there was anything else here, or that there had ever been. He closed his eyes once more, and took a deep breath... listened to the sounds of the forest... tried clearing his mind...

     He felt drawn in a certain direction; he knew not why, but he felt it was better than nothing. He limped through the forest, slowly meandering to... wherever. This continued for about twenty minutes, when he finally gave up- he was hungry, tired, and just felt like falling over on the ground again. This was all pointless, he thought once more: he was better just lying down and waiting to bleed to death. He sat down, or, more accurately, slumped down on the ground.

     Sitting there for a minute, he felt a chill sweep through him. It wasn't particularly cold here... he just felt... uncomfortable, as if something were nearby, watching him. No, he thought- he couldn't let himself think that. It was already over.

     He looked to his right, somewhat glancing over his shoulder; it was then that he saw the eyes. He scrambled forward with a start, and struggled to turn himself onto his back. It was the same creature as before! He saw it clearly with his eyes! It made a sharp chirping noise, and slinked towards him. Opening its mouth, it released another roar, this time, with near-deafening noise. It slowly raised it claw to attack...

"Wait!" David shouted. He threw his knife aside.

     The creature paused. It put its claw back down on the ground. It gained a look of curiosity in its eyes, as if it understood him.

"You're injured. I can help you."

     It made a gesture like a nod.

"I think... you're a lot like me. You're lost. You're afraid. You're angry."

     It nodded once more.

"Come with me."

********************

     Concealing such a giant creature would not be easy, but David knew a few places where it would fit- one such was near his house. He lived near an old industrial zone- mostly abandoned now- and there were several giant factories and warehouses that would make ideal housing for it. One warehouse in particular stood out for him: nobody ever went there, except a few homeless people every so often- and David felt they would make good meals for the creature. Getting it there wouldn't be too much trouble: not many people went out at night- or even during the day, given how relatively few people lived in the area to begin with.

     After going home to take care of his own injuries, David gathered what few medical supplies he had and prepared to take the creature over to the warehouse. The pair moved swiftly, reaching the warehouse faster than David had expected. Even when injured, the creature could move quickly.

     David sat for a bit in the warehouse, tending to the creature's wounds and speaking to it. It definitely understood him, and even sympathized with him. The more time he spent with it, the more he felt himself bonding with it, both emotionally and... mentally, as if it were speaking to him through his mind. His violent impulses were amplified- now, more than ever, he felt compelled to do something about... the problem. He knew not where the creature came from, or even what it was, but he didn't care. It was time to act. Now, he could do something. They could.

"I think I'll call you... Angel."

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: COLD IS THE NIGHT OF REVENGE
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: mikey on November 03, 2014, 05:23:49 PM
BDS you rotten cliffhangerer
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on November 05, 2014, 08:06:36 AM
BDS you rotten cliffhangerer
Oddly enough, this is still true.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on November 05, 2014, 08:22:12 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2014 part 3
Cold is the Night of Revenge

     The first murder was his ex-girlfriend- the act started as nothing more than a vague idea, but as time went on, David became certain of the plan. They would start with those who had wronged him. Then... everybody else.

     The autopsy said that she died instantly when she was hit by an 18-wheeler; the conditions were perfect for the murder- she was walking late at night, and the truck just happened to be driving by. Angel was an efficient killer... the autopsy of the driver said that he was killed when he was flung from the cab and hit a tree. Then there was the matter of the witness... it was deemed a suicide. The three deaths occurring at the same time did raise some suspicions, but... the conditions were absolutely perfect. They could not deny that it was merely a gruesome coincidence. Oh, if they only knew how wrong they were.

     After a week, everybody forgot about the murders, but David was patient- he would wait longer, to ensure that nobody would even begin to suspect him.

     His parents died in a house fire. Police came to his house to question him, but, of course, it was deemed as just a tragic accident- David lived way too far away to be involved at all, they concluded... not that he was a suspect at all, though. The deputy kept referring to him as "Henry." A week later, the deputy and his family drowned while on vacation- the boat they were on unexpectedly sank.

     Next were his old teachers- three of them. It was deduced so cleverly that the crime was a result of gang violence- possibly former students with a grudge. They weren't exactly far off.

     As the months dragged on, David and Angel killed more and more people. Every kill seemed to give Angle more power, more finesse... even between the murders, Angel kept himself busy: David noticed several piles of bones and organs lying around the warehouse. He tried to clean them up as best as possible- he didn't want anybody wandering in while they were away... that would be unfortunate.

********************

     One day, David felt different; he was in pain and vomited a few times. When he looked in the mirror, he saw that his skin was strangely yellowish. Painfully, he made his way over to Angel's warehouse- even though he wasn't feeling well, being with Angel always comforted him in a strange way: it was true that they were both alike, for they both felt the same way and enjoyed many of the same things... Angel understood him. As he walked, he felt weaker and weaker. He approached the door, and moved to pull it aside, when... he felt faint... the world was spinning; he swung his arm out to grab onto the wall, but missed it completely. Even though he tried, he could not keep himself standing upright any longer; he fell on the ground and began convulsing. He tried to cry out for help, but all that came out were grotesque gurgling noises. The last thing he heard before he passed out was his name being called...

********************

     He woke up in the hospital, completely dazed and confused. He darted out of the bed and lashed out at the closest person he could find. Even after several security guards were brought in to restrain him, David was still on edge. With a hint of desperation, he demanded to know what had happened.

     The doctors told him he had cancer. They theorized that it might have started in his lungs, then spread to his stomach, liver, and brain. It was too extensive and too late to treat it, they said. They gave him less than four months to live. The news made him deeply angry on the inside, deeply frenetic, once again filled with an extreme bloodlust. Calmly, holding back all his inner feeling, he said a single word.

"Alright."

     It was then he hatched his final plan- his true pièce de résistance, his magnum opus. It was full of wickedness, wretchedness, and unadulterated, pure hate. No more would his murders be so carefully planned, so carefully executed, so brilliantly done... it was time for the end, for all of them to die, at last.

     He left the hospital and went back to the warehouse, invigorated with new energy. The room was dark, but when he entered, he could see Angel open its eyes and stare at him longingly, sadly, and with respect, all simultaneously. Angel knew. The moment their eyes locked, Angel knew. A thin grin overtook Angel's mouth as it slinked his way. Angel knew that it was time.

********************

     There were thousands dead, all across the country, in but a month; all were declared freak accidents. Nobody could fathom, or even begin to consider, the truth- that a mentally deranged monster and an alien were doing all this. If this were even considered, nobody said anything- they denied it to themselves and they denied it to others. Funny thing, David thought: people deny what they are afraid of, what lies in the realm of their deepest, shadowy fears... even when their fears are right on their doorsteps. He could kill in broad daylight, sweep through broad city streets on a murderous rampage, before people would even suspect.

     The second and third months, David felt weaker, but he knew he must carry on, for Angel, for the grand goal. It was not enough- thousands of people dead weren't enough to quench his thirst. But, alas, he... they, alone were not enough. The fourth month passed, as David clung on to life. At the end of the fifth month, David had all but given out- he had wasted away, and now, could eat nothing without violently spewing it up soon after.

     Once more, he returned to the warehouse with Angel. He fell to his knees, his entire body finally giving out. His hand reached up, brushing against Angel. He half-scowled, half-smiled as he let out a vicious, guttural laugh.

"It wasn't enough, Angel! I'm sorry, but... I've failed!"

     The past few months were harsh on his body, and he could feel it. He coughed, and with each cough, bright blood came forth and coated the ground in front of him. Finally, he lay down, his head resting against Angel. The creature gently wrapped its arms around him, lowering its head closer. David felt a tingling sensation reverberate through his body. Something was happening.

"There there, David..."

     A cold, yet wonderfully warm feeling overtook him; for once, he felt a great joy in his heart. David did not know Angel could speak- he had not heard Angel speak at all- yet somehow, he was not surprised, in this blissful state of being. He knew not what was going on, but he didn't care. Eventually, all he knew was that he was leaving his body... now, truly...

     They were one.

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
...until next year...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 04, 2015, 02:20:35 PM
Halloween Horror Special 2015 part 1
The Love Which We Deny Him

     Recently, I have had a terrible fright in my life. I feel a need- a strange compulsion- to write my experiences down, partially as a warning to others who may encounter something of a similar sort, partially to get my feelings of repulsion and utter horror off my chest. Within the past year I have come into contact with a pair of dreadful, hellish monsters, devoid of all human feelings. This is the tale of how I came to learn of these monsters…

********************

     At the time of the beginning of this incident, my wife had recently passed- God rest her soul- and being an older man, I decided that I needed to downsize; not only would a smaller neighborhood be more quaint and welcoming for my mellowing mood, but I had no need for a house as large as my old estate. Going into this, you should know that I come from a fairly wealthy background, having a fair bit of success myself, and thus settled on moving to a recently-vacated bungalow in a well-to-do neighborhood halfway across the country.

     The sale went through much quicker than expected; although I had already informed my future neighbors that I was to move in within the upcoming weeks, because of this unexpected advance, I decided to move as soon as possible, since I was already prepared for the shift. Thusly, I was met with no hurrah or, in fact, even a little squeak of welcoming. Doing a quick survey of the street, I found that there seemed to be no one at home in any of the houses, bar the house directly across from me. Perhaps I had picked an area that was too quaint, or perhaps these people were so fabulously overjoyed by their mild wealth that they were away at their wild “social events” or whatnot. “Pah,” I had thought, in a bit conceited and irritated manner, “If only they knew how I spent my time and wealth!” Then again, it was about the time school dismissed… ahh, nevermind.

     Whatever the reason, I made my way across the street to my new neighbor’s house, which was a nice two-story building with a small covered porch out front; several windows adorned the upper floor, but there seemed to be nothing more than a few measly squares on the lower. A knock at the door was met shortly by a young, blond-haired woman, who was, for some reason, sweating. After a brief explanation from myself about my situation, she cordially invited me inside. She welcomed me to the neighborhood and ushered me into a sitting/dining room of sorts. Hastily darting in and out of the room, she brought in a small plate of biscuits- appeared to be homemade- and set them down on a small table between the chairs we were sitting.

     “Sorry for the leftovers,” she murmured, “Tea will be in shortly. My husband’s out back. He practices tennis with some of his business partners. We have a court out back, you know. I was just out there, but I had to come in to prepare dinner.”

     She droned on this way for many minutes- which isn’t to say I wasn’t genuinely interested in her conversation, just that… I did much more listening than speaking- until a curious thing happened. Just then, a short, imp-like being sauntered into the room carrying a pot of tea; it was dressed in formal clothes, like a butler would wear. Indeed, I would have merely assumed it was a normal person with a slight deformity was it not for its face: grey, wrinkled- as if stuck permanently in a grimace- and, as I said, very imp-like. Its hair was a dark black, neatly combed, further highlighting the discrepancy. But, even as it scrambled back out of the room, sans teapot, my host said nothing about it, and seemed not phased at all, so I left the matter alone, surprised as I was.

********************

     Despite this little… issue, the family seemed nice, and after that day, I continued to visit them. Much of the time, the husband was busy with business or sports or thus like, which the wife would usually retreat from shortly before my arrival to do one thing or another. In my time here, I have only seen the husband twice; he is a tall, handsome man, with very vivid dark brown hair- if I may say so, reminiscent of myself in my days of youth. Anyway, upon these visits, I would usually resign myself to the role of listener, from which I learned a great deal- quite unwillingly, I must regretfully say- about their lives. They had a young son, school age, of whom she sang praises. I saw nothing of him, either, but I suspected that he, too, was consumed with some activity, like his father. Whenever food was served, I might add, the butler was quick to deliver it and then retreat.

     Over time, I came to familiarize myself with my other neighbors as well. They were not as bad as I had originally mused. Their social events were more of the mild luncheon variety, of which I attended one for the sake of trying to integrate myself in the community. Oddly enough, I found, the family across the street had not been invited to the luncheon; they once had, I was told, but none of the local community seemed greatly fond of them, and they often distanced themselves from the rest of their neighbors, the reason for this I knew not. This sparked an almost devious curiosity in me: was there some secret, unspoken event which caused a rift in their interactions? Did it have to do with that imp butler?

     To this end, I begun a search: quiet and subtle, at first. I asked the children what they knew of the boy- absolutely nothing- and cautiously questioned the adults about their history with that family. Again, nothing. Was this family locked inside the whole day, in some void in which only the necessary business was conducted? There had to be someone who could tell me more about this mystery! Were I to live here any longer, I had to clear the air! Then, my covert actions were sent into a frenzy with an event which sent a horrid chill down my spine. One night, as I was peering out the open window of my bungalow, I saw a dim light in one of the upper-story windows of the house across the street. My vision is not as clear as it used to be, but I knew- KNEW- what it was up there! A tiny thing staring back at me, locking eyes with me silently, perhaps with as much curiosity as I, or perhaps with more sinister intent! From then on, my visits to the house found me acting twitchy, on edge. When once I glimpsed the imp passing through a side hallway, I nearly leapt from my seat! I hastened to leave at that point. Outside, I waited, hidden, and cornered a trio of businessmen leaving the house, no doubt fresh from a meeting with the husband. I interrogated them, asking pryingly about what had happened. Though they appeased me for a bit, they swiftly brushed me off.

********************

     At last, I could have no more! I went to the house, again and again, waiting for the butler to rear his demonic head in the room once more; one night, it happened. I had not prepared for it, not intended it to be, as that particular visit was but an accident. But, as I had decided before, as soon as it left, I let the question I desperately needed an answer to slip from my lips, in the form of a tiny utterance.

     “If I may say, your butler is a strange fellow.”

     “Oh, hahahaha!” she laughed, as if amused by my reaction, “That’s not our butler! That’s our son!”

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: I THINK I MIGHT DIE HERE
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 23, 2015, 08:39:45 PM
Halloween Horror Special 2015 part 2
I Think I Might Die Here

     I woke up, my body sore, my eyes weary. It was dark, and I still felt groggy. Sluggishly, my mind caught up to the moment. Oh dear lord, how I wished for atonement! I knew not where I was, and this I feared. And just then, my mind cleared. I heard noises in the background, noises of pain and torment… A horrible noise, like some corpse, I mused, being into pieces rent! I heard mumbling, vaguely of a woman, and then I remembered my night on the town. Was she not the one with which I had been around? But what then had happened!? I felt terrible, terrible, terrible, much saddened…!

     Because I couldn’t remember her name.

     Then, there was another voice, like metal being ground against metal. Argh- the noise drove me near mad, even in my still-stupefied state; was this here the devil? It spoke, evil, cold, loud, relentless. “PICK A NUMBER, ONE TO TEN; PLEASE DO HURRY, FOR I AM QUITE RESTLESS.” I heard a whining, definitely the woman. During this time, more ripping sounds again…

     “F… f… f… four!”

     To this end, I heard maniacal laughter. I do not enjoy relating what happened after. A sound like a blade being drug across metal, then a horrible scream! This repeated thrice more, though never-ending it would seem! Then there was silence. I knew what could only await me was violence.

     I was afraid.

     The door swung open; the beast came in, its feet clanking! I was not much of a sight, I believed, for I must have, with my body numb, looked like I was planking. I grabbed me with its metal claws, even colder than the voice, and drug me across the floor. I tried to fight, but again, I was numb; my face merely smacked against the door. Urrrr! I do say this was quite a rough transfer. As it moved me, my face flopped around, and I could see the body of the beast- alas, a robot! Though, I suppose it could have been a boggart. Finally, my body was hauled upwards… toward… A strange metal device, with straps, almost like a board. It took almost half an hour, I think, to attach the restraints fully. Once done, the whole thing was hoisted by pulley. Was now my doom to be beginning? How I now regret my lifetime of sinning!

     Then the question.

     “PICK A NUMBER, ONE TO TEN; PLEASE DO HURRY, FOR I AM QUITE RESTLESS.” “Uh,” I groaned, “my memory, could you kindly refresh?” “NO.” “Ummm… let’s see, uh, well… zero?” “UFUFUFUFUFFUFU; THAT IS NO NUMBER BETWEEN ONE AND TEN, WHICH ARE MY CONSTRAINTS- JUST PICK SOMETHING, LIKE THE NICE NUMBER SEVEN.” “Well then, if you say so… how about eleven?” “NONONONONONONO; THAT’S JUST MEAN MEAN MEAN MEAN MEAN. AND WEIRD, LIKE THOSE JUMPING BEANS. PICK A NUMBER, ONLY ONE THROUGH TEN. THEN, YOUR LIFE I WILL END!” “H… how about two hundred and sixty-five?” At this comment, it quite literally exploded; no longer was it, if it had ever been, alive. My fear and my dread was finally over, I had thought… But then I remembered my tight restraints; it was all for naught. I became quite distraught.

     I think I might die here.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: I KNEW A MAN
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 30, 2015, 10:05:08 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2015 part 3
I Knew a Man

     “I’m all alone,” I kept repeating to myself, over and over again, whimpering all the while, “I’m so fraking screwed.” The thing that shot Edmur out of the sky was out there, and it would just as soon kill me without hesitation. I could either stay in here and wait for it to come to me, or I could try to get to the control room, which might offer some safety. I weighed my decisions; figuring that death was to come either way, I reached toward the door…

********************

     Edmur and I worked for the central government, ferrying supplies back and forth from Maximus to military bases all over the most remote places in the galaxy. This time, we had just gotten back from the base on Reel, and were heading to the capital planet to await new orders. It was like this most of the times: get orders, go through empty space for a few hours, drop off the supplies, go back through space, then wait a few more hours to get more orders. It was tedious, but we were paid well.

     We had gone to Reel before, and that time, we had used the standardized route to and from Maximus, but this time, I had decided to take an alternate route. It hadn’t been completely mapped, and there weren’t any habitable planets along most of the area, but it cut our time down by almost two hours, which, in my book, was another two hours of guaranteed sleep. Edmur objected.

     “You can’t go through desolate space! You might encounter…” he hesitated.

     I had known Edmur since we were young. He was a nice guy, but he was quite superstitious, and his main flaw was that he wouldn’t risk his own life to help you. At just over five feet tall, he was considered unusually large for his species, but he was still much shorter than I.

     “Encounter what?” I probed.

     “Sakar Obelith,” he whispered, if in great fear.

     “Uff!” I groaned, “You do know that’s just a tale they tell to children? Big scary monster who steals the souls of naughty children to the edges of the galaxy? Sometimes the incarnation of Death itself? Sometimes,” I couldn’t help but laugh at bringing up a story thousands of years old, “taking the role of Father Christmas? It’s not like we haven’t done this before!”

     “No, no, it’s true! I knew a man who went through desolate space once. He said…” he paused to take a drink, “He said that as soon as he rematerialized out of transfer, he saw a big black ship out of the corner of his eye, gone almost as soon as he noticed it!”

     “Well… big black ships aren’t exactly easy to hide, now are they?” I derided him for a few more minutes until the dematerialization drive had warmed up, and I flipped the switch to start the transfer…

********************

     Ten minutes later, we were conscious again as we rematerialized. Repeated jumps over the years had gotten me used to the nauseating effects of transferring, but I could never get used to the disorienting initial jolt; it was like you’d just been in a coma, and were sudden launched out of bed, awake. Even disregarding this feeling, I knew something was wrong right off the bat: not just the unusually empty, blank feeling, but… that something was there that shouldn’t have been. It took me a minute to notice it.

     There was a shadowy ship looming along the edge of the control pod’s screen, distinguishable from the rest of space by its glowing purple lights. Instinctively, I jammed the transfer switch forward, but it did nothing- it would be a few minutes before the dematerialization drive was ready to work again. So much for the upgrades.

     “Tell me I’m not just seeing that,” I groaned over the comm.

     “I see it clear,” Edmur replied from his adjacent control pod, “If it sees us, we’re f…”

     The ship rocked, cutting him off mid-sentence.

     “It’s shooting at us!” he shouted.

     “I just noticed that. Any plans? Try and contract them? Maybe they’re just part of the military?”

     “I don’t think they want to talk. If we don’t get out of here right now, we’re dead; I think we have enough backup charge in the control pods for a five-minute jump. We might be stranded, but at least we’ll be away from here.”

     “Ready the eject.”

     “On three: One, two… three.”

     The doors sealed and the spare boosters attached themselves to the control pods. I slammed on my eject button a split second after Edmur did. Behind us, the ship started to crumple under the barrage. Just after our release from the ship was noticed, the fire shifted abruptly in our current direction.

     Edmur’s pod was immediately torn apart. If I had hit my button any sooner, my fate would have been the same; because Edmur’s pod took the full force of the attack, it gave me just enough time to begin the transfer…

********************

     When I emerged from the transfer, I saw a red giant that consumed the entirety of the right half of the screen. Toward the left, there was something nearby, drifting aimlessly. I set my path toward it, and as I got closer, I realized it was a Derelict: these were interplanetary space stations that were popular at one time, long before I was born. Although they were used for a decade or two, people quickly became tired of living on the stuffy, cramped things- they much preferred being on one of the many inhabitable planets. Thus, the stations were just dumped out wherever the former inhabitants got bored of them. They were popular targets for salvagers and sometimes served as temporary bases for smugglers and pirates.

     I checked my map: I was currently on the very edge of mapped territory. Maybe if all the station’s power systems were working, I could send out a focused distress signal. Certainly, if it hadn’t been ransacked already, it would still have this capacity.

     As soon as I was safely on the station, I got my bearings. The central control room wasn’t too far from where I docked, although it would be quite a walk through the winding structure of the Derelict. Then, as I was sprinting along an exterior corridor, I glanced through a window. The sight was gut-wrenching: as if some occult hand had dragged it across the cosmos, the black ship was back, following me. I charged away as fast as I could. My plans quickly changed: I had to start up the ship’s dematerialization drive (which had doubtlessly deteriorated over the years), and get the hell out of here.

     Checking the station’s map again, I found the technician’s room. Here, I could assess the damage across the station, and hopefully find a way to fix anything that would obstruct a transfer. I booted up the viewscreen, slow from its disrepair, and nearly fell back when it started. The startup screen showed a camera a little bit away from one of the docking bays, and on it, I glimpsed a dark shape passing swiftly past. Twitching, I shuffled through the cameras- no severe exterior damage, severe damage in the housing sectors, engine diagnostic seemed positive…

     I flipped open the hatch of the drive, and rummaged around. It wasn’t completely fried, at least, and the parts I had brought along should be enough… but would I have the time? There was noise outside, and I cowered in the corner.

********************

     Now was the time. I had just as much a chance at death either way, so I might as well try to get to the control room and hope my hasty repairs had been enough to get the drive working. Slowly, silently, I opened the door. As I started to walk out, I made no noise; even as I picked up the pace, I even stifled my breathing. I couldn’t risk having it hear me when we were so close… I just had to get to the end of this corridor, then…

     There was a sudden sound, like a dull thud of something striking the ground forcibly. I took another step, but was stopped. I felt a firm hand gripping my shoulder. My body froze, and I could not turn. Even if I could, the hand would have held me still. That moment seemed to go on forever, as if time had stopped utterly and completely; perhaps, for me, it had. The voice boomed.

     “Good afternoon, captain. Or, is it evening? It is quite hard to tell out here.”

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
...until next year...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on February 15, 2016, 01:23:46 AM
Chilling Winter Tales #1
My Little Christmas Miracle

     I had been away at college for three years when it happened. I got the call a couple of days before Thanksgiving.

     “Your mother is dead.”

     She died after a surgery to remove a malignant tumor in her brain. I didn’t even know she had cancer. No one ever told me.

     Over the following days, I languished from my despair. Not only had I been unable to see my mother one last time before her death, but she had been taken away from me just before Christmas! It was always her favorite time of year, when she was just a little more sweet than she always was, when, despite everything, she would bring the family together, as all families should be.

     There is one thing I must make clear: Science was my passion. Death was, before this point, a mild fascination; now, however, it was personal. Perhaps I could change things with an unearthly pursuit of- dare I say- necromancy? Perhaps I would be the one to conquer death, if only for a moment, to have a final goodbye with my beloved mother? I considered myself a current-day Frankenstein, though I sought not to create life but to bring someone back from the dead (and, as I reasoned, more responsible). For weeks I labored in my task, studying all that predecessors had accomplished, if anything. Where science gave no answer, I turned to the occult.

     I balanced my usual studies precariously with my work. To make time for my nightly struggles, I shut myself off from my friends- they thought I was only grieving. If only they knew.

     It came to a conclusion the night of Christmas Eve. To the graveyard I flew, shovel in hand. With the knowledge I had accrued, surely I could not fail! My mother’s recently entombed corpse lay before me now. Decay had begun to engulf her body, but that did not worry me. I would make everything better. Hastily, always at the risk of discovery, I set up my equipment. I inserted my needles, placed my jars and vials, and commenced my ritual. In a moment, it was done. I shook in the cold, eager to see my results.

     There was a stirring. A sound.

     She groaned as I clutched her close, her eyes once more opening to see the dreary moonlight that washed over the grave. “Please… please…” she muttered, “I am in pain… please… let me die.” I ran my hand across her hair reassuringly.

     “I know, mama...” I gave a loving smile, content with what I had done. “But it’s not your time yet.”

WE HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR VALENTINES DAY
STAY TUNED FOR MORE...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on February 21, 2016, 11:58:34 PM
Chilling Winter Tales #2
Looking Sallow

     So I had a work e-mail for like a year before that, but I didn't use it much. Like, almost never. I finally decided to get a personal e-mail because having access to more of the world wide web, I figured, would help ease my technophobia. I had it about a week before it happened: one day, I was checking through my e-mails- there were about a dozen of them- when suddenly, a new one pops into my inbox! I was so surprised, because never before had I gotten a new e-mail while I was online! And it was my first junk mail. I didn't think much of the thing at first- just random spam- but I glanced at the subject before deleting it. "Feeling Sallow?" it read.

     I looked in the mirror. Yeah, I was looking a bit unhealthy, I guess, but not too sallow. And how would they know? Pfff.

     As I said, I thought nothing of it at first. It was just ordinary garden-variety spam to me... that is, until it came back. I was reading some more e-mails, when I saw the number of messages in my inbox increase. I didn't think I had any reason to be concerned; actually, it was a few more minutes before I went back to see what the message was. And there it was again. "Feeling Sallow?" I wondered if I had forgotten to delete it, or it somehow made its way back to my inbox. I checked the "deleted" folder, and there was the old message. So, I clicked on the new message. If these people really wanted to get into contact with me so much, I might as well see what they had to say. The message... I can't really describe it. It was... just a bit uncomfortable, but it didn't really bring up any red flags. The only thing suspicious about it was that the website link led to a "Bad Gateway" error.

     Having nothing else to do, I deleted the e-mail. Then my webcam light flicked on. I forgot it was even plugged in, actually... as I said, I wasn't too well acquainted with technology. That really startled me. I ripped the thing out and tossed it in a big box in the corner of my room. 'What had just happened,' I thought.

     I got another message. "Looking Sallow," it said. It saw me. Something saw me.

     I didn't even bother to delete it this time. I just shut down the whole computer. "Screw this," I said to myself, "I'll just go back to good ol' paper and pencil any day!" Then I heard a loud noise and a shatter of glass. In my house. I grabbed a baseball bat (Please? Don't snicker like that! You know you'd do that too!) and scurried out to see what had happened. I was already on edge before then, but when I got to the hallway window, I quite frankly felt like a little kid again. It looked like someone had thrown a rock at the window. Or, like, a boulder, except there was no boulder there.

     I bolted back to my room and locked the door. I frantically started to boot the computer up again. At that point, I'd have done anything. I'd buy any treatment, jump through whatever hoops, let God-knows-what on the other side ogle me for as long as it wanted, do whatever that damn e-mail told me to do. I had just started to log on when it jumped down at me and grabbed me by my head.

********************

     So that's how my face got like this. When other people first saw me, they got creeped out, but people seem to be a lot more accepting after hearing how I got this way. You know, I actually feel a bit more energized now- like I sleep better, maybe? And it didn't cost me anything, except a little trip to the hospital!

HAVE A GOOD DAY TODAY
STAY TUNED FOR MORE...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on March 20, 2016, 10:20:57 AM
Chilling Winter Tales #3
The Lazarus Tree

     Y'wanna know 'bout the Lazarus Tree, huh? That's why yer here, inn'it? Well, I'll tell ya the story, if you sit 'n listen, but I ain't gonna tell ya any more than I tol' anyn' else. Don't think I'm like those other senile geezers.

     It happened many a year ago, when I was on one a' mah natures walks- th' Doc said they's was good for mah arthritis and lungs- an' I took a wrong turn on th' trail; now, normally, I'm one of those folks that'r good with directions 'n stuff, but I swear, it was my destiny to take this wrong turn. After walkin' for right 'bout ten-er-twenty minutes on that path, I realized I was lost! Now, I was tired an' aching all over by then, so I hobbled over to the nearest tree an' practically collapsed at th' foot of it. At that point, I feared I was dead- couldn' walk, nothin' to eat, not a soul knew I was out there- but when I awoke, I felt so rejuvenated like I's imbued with a bran' new spirit, and I fel' so happy 'n pious, like I's saved by the very hand o' the lord. Now, I looks up at the tree I 'as under, an' I see it's all gnarled and decayed like it 'as barely even a tree. I felt so joyous that i just went to my knees an' prayed so deeply at the foot o' that there tree, praisin' th' good lord for givin' me a miracle. An' 'fore I left, I made a small notch like a cross in th' bark.

     Now... I went on mah walks again, but I never went past that tree in fear ah collapsin' again- it was a ways away from my us'al route- but weeks later, mah ol' dog died. I thought it'd be good tuh bury the lil' felluh under the tree, blessed the spot as it be. An' I did this, brought mah shovel out an' all, an' had a private little funeral for mah faithful pet. But th' tree was a bit differen' this time, like it wan'nt so old or dead-like, now. And boy, did the biggest miracle I ever seen happen th' vury nex' day. I's going on a walk past the tree 'gain, just cause the sentiment 'n all, an' I hear a barkin' off in the distance! I though I was gone mad, bein' distraught an' all, but as I went on, I feel a little wet nose against mah leg! An' I look down, an' there was th' lil' thing, all fresh an' good as new! It 'us a veritable worl' shakin' miracle, I cried aloud.

    An' quickly after this, I told a few'f my friens, and from there, th' rumor spread like wildfire. Sure 'nough, ever' time there 'as a death, them in the know came to me for help. But this blessin' couldn' be abused. I knew it had tuh be kept hidd'n, an' guard it with my life I did. Now, this here tree didn' grant no immortality, no siree. I foun' out that the miracle only worked once per person, and this... this made many a person mighty mad for a time. But they came to live with it. Af'er all, who else 'ud they have to go to? I dun know of no preacher who'cn do what mah precious tree did.

     But one day, somethin' changed. There 'us a vicious storm blowin' across the town fer a number uh days, like one none'f'us 'd'ever seen afore. I couldn' go out to the tree, and I lay mighty anxious in my house waitin' for it to go away. Part of me won'ered if I'ud done sometin' wrong by sharing mah blessin' with all the other folks, but deep down inside, I knew this was only a little flare 'uh evil from Satan. Th' righteous'll persevere, I repeated. Th' righteous'll persevere.

     Now, af'er the storm calmed, I went straight out tuh the tree. I 'us distraught tuh see its condit'n; It 'us all charred 'n singed 'n tilty like it got th' worst of th' weather... and then, for a moment, I nearly broke down in sobs. But, I tol' myself... the tree was still 'ere. It could be fixed, af'er all. So I went right away to chippin' all the burn off the tree. And what'a'ya know, the beauty worked good as new! Miracles 'r miracles, I say, 's long as ya don't mind comin' back wit' some burns!

WE HOPE YOUR WINTER HAS BEEN CHILLY
SEE YOU NEXT WINTER...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on April 15, 2016, 07:01:12 AM
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT TIME!!!

After so many years, I have finally started to rewrite one of my older stories, as promised so long ago (motivated by a literal shower thought; ty to showers for giving me so much inspiration). Read it here! (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=5680.msg225405#msg225405) I think it's no longer as awkward, dull, and cringeworthy as it used to be, and I feel it's off to a promising start, especially with my new vision for the story.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on September 20, 2016, 10:35:39 PM
Hey y'all! I'm in the process of writing a story for my school's creative writing magazine, and if it gets accepted (or... y'know... doesn't; not like I have anything better to do with it) I'll be sure to post it here (should be around Spring next year, IIRC).
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on November 06, 2016, 12:01:48 AM
Just in case anybody worried/cares about it, the Halloween Horror Special 2016 is technically not cancelled, but just delayed a number of months. Though I've tried to uphold this as a yearly tradition, I'm afraid that putting effort into other things means that the stories I would have posted this time around are not able to be posted at the current moment. They do exist, though!

EDIT: Still haven't heard anything back yet so I'm posting them now. One every other day or so. Wooooo. just pretend this happened back in october 'cause i started/finished writing these around then
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on March 24, 2017, 07:53:56 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2016 part 1
A Thing I Do Not Know

     It pulsed. He could hear the thumping on the other side of the wall. He stood absolutely still, frozen in the silent, nondescript hallway; he knew that if he moved too much, it might hear him back. Breathing wasn't an issue, as long as he took short, shallow breaths, but when it was this close, if he so much as shifted his weight too much in the wrong direction, it would doubtlessly hear the creaking of the floorboards. By now, it had learned to tune out most of the ambient noises in its surroundings—the current of air blowing through the ducts, the ticking of clocks, humming of electronics, and all the like—but its hearing was still imperfect. He just might be able to escape, if he could find an open door or window. It didn't like being outside for too long, for some reason. He didn't know how it even got in here in the first place, but it was in here. It seemed to come out mostly at night. There were stories of the building being haunted, but everyone "knew" that they were just superstitions. The previous week, he had thought he saw something large pass through his line of sight a little after sunset, a time when very few people passed through the building. But he was different: he liked being alone; he liked the silence; he enjoyed humming to himself as he strolled along the scenic route back to his room. Now, he was trapped in here with it.

     Should he risk bolting for the second floor and just break open a window? He assumed a fall from that height wouldn't kill him, and if he could recover fast enough after that, he would be scot-free. But what did they make the windows out of? Could he break through with just his body? It would be far too risky and take far too long for him to rummage through the classrooms or the janitorial closets to find something sufficiently heavy.

     He didn't hear it any more. It was probably safe to keep walking. It would most likely be meandering along this path in a few minutes anyway, and that would be worse than being heard by it; he knew because he had been... felt by the creature's long tendrils, and barely got away after realizing his mistake. It was pretty slow, actually. You couldn't outrun it at a walking pace, of course, but a swift sprint would usually be more than enough to escape.

     He started to move forward. All was well. Then, he heard a slamming noise behind him. A chill ran down his neck and through his spine. He went forward, pace by pace, cautious to avoid alerting the thing, but also mindful that it may be coming up from the back at any moment. He turned his head, but saw nothing. He let out a sigh of relief. Then, the door in front of him slammed shut.

********************

     He remembered why he came to Pettermont College: it was that word again—alone. The fact that there was only one road out of the valley where the campus was situated meant that the college was about an hour away from all other traces of civilization. Isolation. He liked that word better; to him, it brought a certain degree of tranquility, security, and ease of mind. It had all started when he was young. He didn’t think that he really hated people, just… people didn’t really like him much, so over the years he had gotten used to shutting people out wherever he went. He didn’t like it when other people excluded him, so one day, he decided to take the first step and make the decision to simply sequester himself from others. People were just the same everywhere, he had reasoned, so why bother anyway? Nobody had ever shown themselves to be any different. Even when he had left home to start a new life: to other people, he was always just an afterthought. A burden, even. He had gotten used to doing everything himself, and to a certain degree, it made him a more resourceful and independent person. Perhaps, as he had begun to tell himself, it made him a better person all around. If he could do anything he ever dreamed to accomplish by himself, why did he even need anyone else’s help? He also thought it would mean that he didn’t have to worry himself about other people getting in his way.

     And now was a time when he had to get himself out of a pickle. Hunted, pursued, he would have to use his own ingenuity and physical endurance to save his own life. Even if he got out alive, nobody would ever care about or believe what had happened here tonight. They never did.

********************

     He knew he was screwed. Desperately, he hugged the wall. He could hear the gross, slimy noises it made, slowly inching toward him. It didn't know he was here yet, but shortly, it would. Twitching and fearful, he, too, slowly continued on his path toward the door. If it wasn't locked, he might be able to slip through and just make a run for it; the door should hold it for a minute or so, and it's not like he had any better options at this point. To make this work, he had to gauge just how close it was to him. He turned his head to look behind himself once more. With a fright, he jumped back and crashed into the door. It was right there behind him. He scrambled to pry open the door. It rattled noisily and shook on its hinges as he attacked the knob in desperation. All the while, the creature slid forward with all its might. The stench from its mouth was beginning to waft into his eyes and nose, unsettling his entire body.

     Then, he got the door open, just in time; but no time to close it, as the monster had just stuck out one of its tendrils to grab him. He ran, and it kept after. It was faster now, as if it wanted him so badly it would exert itself to no end to get him. Grasping for breath, he continued to run until he, at last, saw the exit in sight. With one last burst of strength filling him, he zoomed to the door in victory. As he hit the door, he charged through with the power of a raging bull. Unlocked, the door gave way and released him into the open air. He paused to take in a fresh breath of air, then turned to again look behind himself. It was not over yet.

     He ran, more and more, away from the building that had been the location of his night of horror. He kept running, but it kept going too. He ran, and he ran, but he could not escape it ever. No matter how fast he ran, no matter how far he went, he could not escape his greatest fear, because it was a beast he had created himself.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: THE TREE OF TEARS
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on March 26, 2017, 04:20:38 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2016 part 2
The Tree of Tears

     Once upon a time, there was an adventuring man who was injured by malicious spirits while traveling through the Forest of Spirits. Tired, in pain, and unable to go on, he collapsed at the foot of a tree hollow that was home to a small creature of the woods. This creature took pity on him, and used its natural talents to help the man. He spent many months living around the tree hollow, recovering his strength and befriending the creature, whom he called Little One. Then one day, when the man had healed enough to go about his way, he left, promising to return to see the Little One whenever his travels brought him near the forest.

     Time and time again, the man had opportunities to visit the Little One, but each time, he found a reason not to.

     “There are spirits there who hate me and will try to keep me away or injure me again,” he thought once.

     “I don’t like traveling through forests very much,” he told himself another time, “maybe I’ll muster up the will to go into the woods after I take a trip to the mountains.”

     Years passed, and the man did not visit the Little One. The creature knew in its heart that the man wanted to return, and every day, it was certain that that would be the day where the man came to see it. Sometimes, it thought the man had abandoned and forgotten about it, but it reassured itself with the tender memories of the time it had spent with the man. It knew he was not the type of person to forget a promise. Then, one year, the Little One got sick, and died. Though the man did not hear of its death, many months later, he suddenly felt compelled to return to the forest. This time, he disregarded all his concerns, and was determined to see the Little One.

     When he got to the tree hollow, he did not see the Little One at all. He searched around until he found it, lying where it had died in the middle of a sunlit grove. In grief, he fell to his knees beside it. He stayed here for many weeks, and his tears ceaselessly poured down to the earth below. Unbeknownst to the man, from deep within the ground, watered by his mournful tears, a tree began to grow. Even as it breached the surface and began to grow to phenomenal heights, the man did not notice. Only when the tree had grown so tall and wide that it began to block out the sun did the man take notice. For a moment only, he stopped crying. But when he gazed upon the tree, he became very angry: how could life grow in spite of the death in front of him? It was a mockery that the spirits of the woods set before him, to taunt him for his inadequacies and his mistakes!

     So, the man took his axe in rage, and for many long days and nights, chopped at the tree. Even as he struck the tree again and again, his tears continued to fall, making the tree grow taller and stronger. On the sixth sunrise after he began, the tree fell. When it crashed to the ground, a great path of destruction was left through the forest. But the man was not happy. The forest had done this to him, to the Little One who was taken away in all its innocence. He decided it had to pay. He took a torch and ran through the forest, lighting everything on fire as he passed by it. With no delay, the forest went up in flames. Everything in the forest perished—birds, creatures, and woodland spirits alike. When the fire eventually died down, the man returned to the spot where the tree had fallen. All this destruction had been for a purpose, but he was still not satisfied. Nothing could change what had been done.

     As the man continued his mourning, he began to sink into the barren ground, until he wasted away in his grief and became nothing but a stone statue, sticking out from the ground from the waist up. And to this day the forest remains in ruins, the tree of tears remains fallen, and the man remains a statue, a testament to the love that became grief, the grief that became anger, and the anger that wrought futility.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: THE TUSKED MASK
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on March 28, 2017, 07:59:04 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2016 part 3
The Tusked Mask

Debunking the Legends, Volume 1 by Neet Chipbarton

     We all know the stories: Many of us were told them as children; some might pass a book or film store and unknowingly glimpse a work containing one such story; untold numbers of video games and holosims have been made with references to the tales even within the last decade; Ultranet writers from all corners of the galaxy might hold them in their minds when they weave their own plots of monsters, demons, and the horrors from within the human mind; superstitious spacers hold fast to the standardized space routes in fear of wandering into what they call “desolate space.” The accounts differ from writer to writer—a number of which share key plot elements from stories originating from humanity’s history on Earth—but the one thing that is definite is a name: Sakar Obelith. None know what it means, but there are as many accounts purporting to be the real ones as there are limbs on a Glaarnor plant.

     To return from the world of fantasy for a moment, we turn to the suggested origins of these tales; currently, all known reports of attacks attributed to this “Sakar Obelith” have been tied by declassified government investigations to space pirate raids, and in fact, the Secretary of Records Office reports that space pirate activity is at an all-time high from the past century due to unchecked expansion of outer colony planets. According to these records, there is only one living survivor of an attack that matches the profile: a John Doe of unknown age, who is also recorded as having repressed memories of the incident. All other survivors, regardless of the extent of their injuries, have perished shortly after being recovered and evacuated from the site of the attack. In the brief time these survivors live after occurrence of the event, they have given vivid but somewhat inconsistent details of “Sakar Obelith”; the most consistent details are as follows: A towering beast, over ten feet tall—sometimes on two feet, other times on four—with tusks on the sides of its night-black face, glowing purple eyes, and a wide mouth of silver teeth from ear to ear.

     This image of terror sticks in the mind of many, but it is, of course, not the only one. Embellishments of the original stories have turned Sakar Obelith into a wide variety of characters, each filling distinct and vastly different roles: An ancient being from the edge of the galaxy and kidnapper of misbehaving children, a monster who hunts evil, an incarnation of Father Christmas, and even a god of death...


     Neet was running his hand over different parts of the recorder device in order to make these words appear, soon to be saved to his memory cloud. At present, he had paused. For many long years, Neet had been one of the two star newsrecorders at Maximus Prime News, but only months earlier, he had requested a transfer to the “Sensationals” department; though he knew he was past his prime, he only begrudgingly made the decision—the choice boiled down to the fact that he would rather save face and take a smaller role than be overshadowed by his much younger colleague and slowly fade into obscurity by means of grim, inevitable obsolescence. The Sensationals usually dealt with celebrity and political rumors, fringe scientific or technological discoveries, and impassioned opinion pieces, but urban legends were not entirely out of its wide-reaching range; though few were willing to restrict themselves solely to this area of the organization, the topic he was currently dealing with was of enough interest to Neet to sate his ever-wandering mind.

     Hunched over his desk, he scanned the dark room of his apartment. There was no light except from the dull, glowing recorder in front of him, but there wasn’t much to see in the room anyway. He tapped his fingers on the desk in frustration. His mind had blanked, and he worried deep in his mind that what he was writing simply would not be enough—after all, Neet told himself, though no longer was he the man of the hour in the world of news, he didn’t want to make himself into a complete journalistic laughingstock; some degree of integrity and discernment would doubtlessly be required. He wasn’t entirely satisfied what what he had so far, either: in his mind, it dragged on needlessly while not really giving concrete details, and was lacking something rather… gripping. This piece would not fit in with the Sensationals if it wasn’t sensational at all. He had to go out in the field, maybe… visit some government offices, perhaps go to locations of interest. His thoughts raced at the possibility of once more experiencing some of the excitement that had attracted him to his newsrecorder job in the first place. It was the dead of night now, but in only a few hours, the sun would rise, and the capital would be bustling— the perfect time to get a ticket off-planet…

********************

     The next day found Neet deep in the public archives of the Government Records Office. A boring task, yes, but a necessary one; Neet had done things far worse and far more unbearable before—it was part of the job, after all, and no big deal for a former star newsrecorder. With these thoughts, Neet pressed on. Though he had a 4 o’clock ticket to Marillia, he had to find out what his next step would be after he reached the famed port planet. Something in here would be likely to give him a juicy lead—here were completely unclassified, firsthand reports from investigators of alleged Sakar Obelith attacks, going back almost forty years. If he could find the right one, discern the best places to start, he might just be able to conduct his own personal investigation of destroyed settlements that hadn’t been touched in decades—perhaps not even since the dates of the investigations themselves!

     He pulled out a folder and skimmed through it. A few quick taps on his handheld computer and he had established key details that would help his search; this would be quite suitable. He pulled out papers from the folder and took took them over to a table, running a copier over the documents. One lead down, he thought, but he still had a full day ahead of him before he had to leave. Maybe if he had some time left over and a bundle more of leads, he would head over to the Grand Library to start an extensive catalogue of the history of Sakar Obelith fiction.

     However, this is not what the day held for Neet. The fleeting hours slipped away from him, and before he knew it, his time was up, left with a mere spattering of viable information. It was off to Marillia for him, and from there, he had concluded, his best option was to head to an old colony planet that went by the common name of Thresk. The world had once been home to a small mining and farming community of about 150,000, but a little over twenty years ago, all of its inhabitants were reported as having been killed in some sort of attack. When the authorities arrived, the ruins—houses, mines, and all—were still burning. Craters marked various spots across the city, signs of an orbital bombardment using military-grade tech. The controversy that surrounded the investigation was brief but heated; many, especially friends and family of the numerous deceased, wondered how simple space pirates would have gotten such equipment—posited that the government itself had ordered the destruction of the colony—but after the military disclosed a raid, a week prior, of a military base in the sector, any opposition quietly died down—the incident was never spoken of again, never so much as reaching front-page news before all was said and done. Faced with this information, Neet had been intrigued: might there actually be a dark conspiracy in the works? Perhaps the swath of muddled stories, blended into preexisting fairy tales, was deliberately engineered for the sole purpose of hiding heinous crimes of genocide from the public?

     Neet took in all the sights of the destroyed colony from a vantage point on a hill about half a mile away. He heaved a heavy sigh. Though over the years he had hardened his heart to the pain of others, death was something that always made Neet emotional. No matter how, people had died here. They deserved an answer. Even if the story was, on the surface, no more than speculation about an old urban legend, there was indeed a dark backstory behind it all. Neet vowed to scrape away the muck with his own two hands, like he used to do, like… his thoughts trailed off. Maybe if he did this, maybe he could convince people that he still deserved a spot in the limelight, maybe he might…

     Neet denied himself any further thoughts that would distract him from his mission. He couldn’t afford to be selfish now. He had made his decision already. There was nothing wrong with that. Heading down to the settlement itself, Neet ran his hand against the aged, dusty stone that used to make up an archway leading into town. Untouched for ages, it left a layer of sediment and ash on his hand. Burned out homes greeted him next, their fronts drooping down as if in pain, crying out for inhabitants who would soon meet grisly fates, whose bodies would forever…

     A chill ran down Neet’s spine as the realization came upon him. In the report of the investigation, there was not a single picture of a body. Earlier, he was not keen enough to note this, but much later, here, it had suddenly hit him while lost in thought. No coroner reports, either. For all anybody knew, the dead had simply gotten up and walked away—had simply vanished. Of course, there were no bodies here now, no remains of any kind, nor any signs of death bar the destroyed town. Even in the warm daylight, it was all so unnerving: a picture of disaster frozen in time. Absentmindedly, Neet flicked his fingers across his recorder, putting down rough thoughts and pages full of little notes to himself. His experience made this somewhat of an unconscious habit, and he wasn’t fully aware of what he was writing down. Later, he’d figure that out, turn it all into something much more cohesive, into something he’d be proud of.

********************

     Time passed, and by night, Neet was ready to depart. This day had been both physically and emotionally draining. In hindsight, he should have been prepared, but he thought that nothing would have quite prepared him for the sight—no, he mused, it’s something you need to see for yourself, in person, to understand. He wondered why not a single person in the entirely of the galaxy had known of this before—how nobody, not a single person, a single person among many trillions, had stumbled upon these barren grounds of massacre. He hadn’t even put much thought into it until this moment, busy, too concerned with his own life and his career as he had been. He had been too absorbed into his job, Neet admitted to himself: too busy to even fall in love, start a family, go out to the poor regions of the worlds and do something tangible—he was a hollow, empty drone locked on one sole purpose in life. Was it just him? Did others feel this way about themselves? Did they go about their lives for years and years before realizing this?

     Neet suddenly felt a lot worse about himself. He hadn’t anticipated this type of reaction at all. He was growing older, yes, but he wasn’t that old, even—not old enough to have a sudden existential crisis and regret the entirety of his past… not old enough where he couldn’t still do something. He left the atmosphere of the planet tense and on-edge. Perhaps he wouldn’t go all the way back to Marillia today; he might find some inhabited space colony or moon and rest there for tonight. He weighed his options, and was about to carry on in his voyage, when a quick, loud noise filled the cockpit of his vessel. For not more than a few seconds, time enough only for him to notice, a green blip appeared on his info screen. From his years of piloting, he knew what it was: the start of a distress call, cut short. In a moment, he had brought up maps, calculators, and infographics. It looked as if the message came from the direction of a planet about an hour away—an unremarkable rock Neet had missed as he passed by it on his way to Thresk. Only three pieces of information were recorded about the planet: its name, Ilnadaan; its population, zero; and its terrain, mountainous over much of the surface. Everything else was blank. No attempts at habitation, only one scientific venture, but nothing else at all. His fingers twitched slightly as he considered his next course of action. With the weak tech aboard his ship, any messages he sent from out here would likely not be picked up for many hours, at best. He could go into more inhabited territories to fetch help personally, but by that time, it might be too late; while he had the brief signal fresh on his mind, he would be able to find the crash site quickly, but if he came back later, it could take longer to find it—precious time that could mean the difference between life and death for the people down there, the ones who sent the signal. Maybe their equipment had survived the impact, and maybe he could even send a better distress call from the surface… quickly making his choice, Neet reassured himself and headed to the planet.

     He guided the ship around to where he had set himself on going. He judged that he probably had enough space in his cargo hold for six humans, and medical supplies for four; hoping this would be enough, he eased the thrusters up in anticipation for atmospheric reentry. But just then, it all went wrong. There was a sudden jolt from the side, as if some debris has crashed into the vessel. All the instruments went wild for a moment, as the ship spun around wildly, mid atmosphere; panicked, nauseous, and disoriented, Neet desperately tried to right the ship, or at least get to a position where he could ease the ship to a gentle crash landing.

********************

     That didn’t exactly happen. Neet awoke leaning halfway outside the shattered windscreen of his ship. A small piece of the controls had broken off and lodged itself into his body, just above the hip. Though he was reassured by the fact that he could stand without much trouble, he worried about the injuries he could not feel. The back end of his ship—and his supplies—had emerged relatively unscathed, much to his relief and good fortune. He might be able to patch himself up a bit, though regardless, his current state meant he would not be able to carry as much food or water. He cursed aloud. Some rescue mission.

     Gathering what he could, Neet set off. At this point, he figured that finding the other ship that had crashed was his best bet at survival, even if doing so would be more troublesome now that Neet didn’t exactly know where he was going, but it’s not as if he had any other options, he decided.
He surveyed his surroundings. Mountainous, indeed. A huge peak loomed ahead of him, and about 50 feet in each of the other directions was the edge of a giant chasm. Even if there were routes in and out of the chasm, heading down would not be practical, whereas there would doubtlessly be some manageable trails on the faceted surface of the mountain. Beyond that, the massive mounds of stone spread out and overtook the chasm as the dominant terrain; on the opposite edge of the pit behind him were stretches of hills, the chasm continuing on either side of the landmass. As he watched the horizon, Neet could barely make out the tip of a mountain rising above the hills, and beyond that, and thin, fleeting wisp of smoke. His whole body seized. He knew not how long the trip around the chasm would be, and, as he had decided earlier, going into the deep canyon itself would certainly mean death.

     Hobbling forth, Neet started his trek. The treacherous route took him many days to traverse, and with each passing day a new wave of dread overtook the seasoned traveler. By night, he slept, but sleep did not come easy, afflicted by both the cold and his own state of mind. By the time he reached the hills he had run out of supplies, though walking was easier for him on the gentler slopes. A day after reaching the hills, he rested, certain he would die that night; though worn in both the body and the mind, Neet’s resilience prevailed. By morning he had done more attending to his injuries, and though the journey was still painful, the going was not as arduous on his body. It took him another day to get past the mountain he had seen prior, all the while facing the perils of the daytime heat; beyond that was a ledge overlooking a valley, which, to Neet’s wonder and relief, held the wreckage he had been searching for, a crashed haven—a mighty behemoth torn from the sky—constantly releasing the smoke signal he dreamed would bring his salvation. There was a narrow but passable route down; he hurried along it, panting furiously and chest heaving. He slid on his back the last couple yards, so eager was he. He sprinted to the ship, shouting the whole way: his mouth dry, it came out mostly as screeching wails, a pitiable sound that begged for mercy. His gaze darted around. There was nobody around outside the ship, no signs of encampments hastily set up, no response to his cry. He slowed to a stop, the body of the ship towering over him, casting its judging shadow, the thing that would decide his fate.

     Distraught, he entered, and wandered among the hollow of the ship. It was rather expansive—might’ve had a crew of twenty, at most—and appeared to have an equally impressive crew of robots: their bodies were strewn across the ruin, bits and pieces of them all over. A few appeared to be still functioning, to some degree, withering away in their robotic death throes; in life, so-to-say, these robots served to quickly carry out tasks aboard vessels that humans used to in the past, greatly reducing the number of required crew members.

     He kept walking around the wreckage; even though the ship had landed rather diagonally, most of the floors were accessible simply by walking. As he gently slid down a tilted catwalk, he happened to notice an open door, one of the first he had seen: meandering back up to the door, he peered inside—filled mostly with darkness, there was a dim, flickering light within that provided a gentle aura of vision across the interior. As the light went on, then off, then on again, he could barely make out the features of a human body. Gradually, he drew nearer to the figure, cautious not to trip over the various stuff that had gotten spilled across the floor; closer observation showed it was but a corpse—copious amount of blood had been splattered over the area, and the body itself was in rather poor shape. Though, Neet questioned to himself, it didn’t exactly appear as if its injuries were entirely consistent with those sustained from a crash. He paused, weak from hunger. Perhaps there would be food aboard, or… or, perhaps…

     Neet glanced at the corpse. He couldn’t, not yet. He wasn’t quite that desperate… the idea still somewhat revolted him. He didn’t even know if he would ever be willing to sideline that part of his humanity.

********************

     His search ending fruitlessly, Neet left the ship, back onto the wide expanses of the valley. The sun was beginning to set as he climbed back up to the rim. Swallowing, as if trying to suppress his helplessness, he moved his body and head from side to side, futilely trying to spot another soul. As he reached the ledge his eyes fixed on a rock a short distance away, jutting out from the ground like a blemish; though it was dark, he thought he could make out another shape there atop the rock. He scampered forward, stopping on a slow, deliberate step.

     “H...hhhh…” the words would not come to him. “W… wwwhoo…?”

     It turned! It was something breathing, living! Maybe it was a member of a group of survivors working on a way to get off this blasted rock; even if if was but a single man, even if he were to die on this desolate hellhole, he would die with someone to share his misery with.

     He edged closer. He was almost at the rock. But something was not right. The figure ahead, though it was the shape of a human, was far too large to be one: from a distance, he had not noticed this irregularity, but as he drew nearer and nearer, he realized that it dwarfed even the rock it perched upon. Neet faltered. His feet stiffened; his arms locked at his sides. A pair of deep purple eyes returned his stare.

     Solid. Unrelenting.

     Neet turned and screamed. He heard it move. He ran. He ran. He ran along the ledge with great fear and swiftness just as large. Every time his feet pounded the ground, he could feel his teeth rattling in his mouth against his gums. He did not think once about stopping or slowing, even as he saw the path getting more and more narrow in front of him, even as he felt the earth behind him falling away, down into the canyon; though he knew he would be unable to find his way back along that route—indeed, he was fully aware he might become trapped along the sides of the cliff—all he cared about was getting away from it, the devilish tormentor he had witnessed. He knew what it was, what had come to deliver to him his finality. At last, he collapsed to the ground, his chest burning, pounding—his mouth drier than ever. The ground he was on currently was unstable, but nearby and downward was a ledge that reached deep into the wall of the chasm. If needed, he decided, he could wedge himself in it. Finding this the preferable option, he leapt down. In here, his last resort, he waited for hours. Sleep came to him on and off, even as he tried to fight it in fear of it being his death, halting his escape from the monster. He would not submit to it, he pledged; he would flee and flee until exhaustion and starvation took over and rendered him lifeless. Or, he would fling himself into the shadowy depths below before he was ever caught.

     He craned his neck out, probing for knowledge, seeking a hint that could save him or commit him to the inevitable. For a minute, it was oddly silent; this tentative ease was then replaced by blaring screeching, emanating from above. Neet choked on his despair. He took off again in some direction, stopping only when he could hear nothing else, even as he felt like releasing his will to delirium and simply sinking to the floor, defeated by the wear on his very spirit. At this time, he shouted out to the heavens.

     “GODDAMN YOU, MONSTER! I’VE DONE NOTHING TO EARN YOUR WRATH, NOTHING WICKED TO SUFFER A DEATH LIKE THIS: ALONE, AFRAID! LEAVE ME BE!”

     But there was no response. Nothing but the vast emptiness: the sound of silence, lingering, full of seething dread.

********************

     Neet didn’t know how much time passed after that. Whether it was an hour, a day, a minute, it mattered not in this hell of anguish. Misery continually scratched at his every waking thought. He even mused about turning back. Maybe Sakar Obelith was a nice fellow after all. Maybe he just wanted to give him a gift. After all, maybe the splayed corpse in the ship was just an unhappy coincidence! Perhaps he had nothing to do with the death; in fact, there was no reason he should even correlate the two encounters!

     He laughed aloud, thrusting his arms out and spinning in a circle. Yes, that might be a nice idea after all.

     Neet trudged on. He was walking through some mountains now: they all looked the same. Now, he heard something again, behind him. He didn’t stop, he didn’t turn; he didn't run either. He just kept his course, walking endlessly toward death.

     In front of him, it stood. A hulk of a man, a beast that had to be seven feet tall at the least. Two black tusks framed the helm it wore, a mask the color of the boundless night. Solid purple eyes, without feeling, made its face, and along with these, a metallic grate of dull silver over its mouth.

     And for him, it was a god of death.

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
...until next year...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: Hero of Trains on March 28, 2017, 04:15:30 PM
I like the story! Slightly confused as to why it's a Halloween special in February, but I'll take it! Did you have any specific reason for the names? They seemed rather unusual.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on March 29, 2017, 06:10:13 AM
I like the story! Slightly confused as to why it's a Halloween special in February, but I'll take it!
As I said in my previous posts, the original plan for Halloween Horror Special 2016 was scrapped because I was putting most of my efforts into writing The Tusked Mask/A Thing I Do Not Know. So, I figured that, because The Tusked Mask was definitely finished before October, A Thing I Do Not Know was started in October (I wrote the first part of it for shadowkirby's TWG (http://forum.ninsheetmusic.org/index.php?topic=8897.msg357391#msg357391); lol), and The Tree of Tears was written in November. Plus, all of them are generally spooky/depressing in some way which fits the overarching theme anyway.

Quote
Did you have any specific reason for the names? They seemed rather unusual.
Out-of-universe justification is that it's science fiction and it just kinda sounds right. Also, I'm bad at thinking up normal names. :P I knew I wanted the protagonist to be named "Neet," but I just randomly gave him a weird surname as well.

In-universe justification is that humans have been out of the Milky Way galaxy for at least a thousand years and come into contact with a number of other species, and the vocabulary of the English language has inevitably changed to reflect that (the name "Sakar Obelith" is supposed to be words from an alien language that entered common usage in its romanized form). This is a setting I'm particularly interested in (so if it seems like I have a lot of little plot details mapped out behind the scenes, I probably do :P), which is why I feel super excited to write stories like this and I Knew A Man that offer little slices out of it from the perspective of ordinary characters.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on June 18, 2017, 05:21:17 PM
The Man Who Left Our Earth

     Tobias Matthews slogged down the streets, looking around himself in fear and filled with despair. As he continued his walk, he was met with hostile, uninviting glances from all those around him. His awful, arduous days at work were bad enough, but each and every day, to be surrounded with such a level of disdain from people he didn’t even know? He thought he wasn’t too bad of a person—he just wanted to live his life and, maybe, if he could, help a fellow person out—but when he went out into the world at large he felt like an outcast and a monster. He was unwanted, unneeded, unloved, and completely, entirely alone in a world where he could not trust and where the truth was but a phantasm to his prying, desperate grasp.

     Shaking, he opened the door to his apartment. The walk back from work had drained so much from him. He slammed the door and bolted it closed. He collapsed on his sofa, the strain finally overcoming him: tears streaming from his eyes, he grasped the cushions as inanimate objects of support. After some time, he lumbered off the couch and into the bathroom. He opened the medicine cabinet and locked his eyes on the bottle of dwindling antidepressants. A muffled cry gurgled from his throat as he clutched the bottle and downed all of its contents. He skimmed the cabinet for more, and finding an older prescription of something else, hastily downed all of it too. He quickly began to feel queasy and in pain. As he collapsed to the ground, he let out a scream of agony. He reached his hand up to grab onto the sink, but to no avail: he was quickly fading. He pleaded to the heavens above.

     “Please, please God… do something… save me…”

     Then he lost consciousness.
 
********************

     In a fuzzy recollection of the past, visions of his childhood entered his mind. From a young age, he was an orphan; it was not until age eight that he was adopted. His life before that time was far from pleasant, yet his life after that point was not ideal either. He could think of a million things that had scarred him, messed him up, or otherwise simply broken him throughout his years; maybe it was his fault for not being able to cope with any of it? After all, though he could not control his circumstances, he could control how he responded to them… couldn’t he? His life now, in the present… nothing good could be said of it either. A dead end life at a dead end job, and… it was just a whole mess, wasn’t it? Everything about it was. Both his adoptive parents had died years ago, and nobody else even wanted to deal with him, so he had spent almost the last decade of his life trudging through the heap of muck his entire life had built up to. But maybe there was more he could do if he really wanted. He could devote his life to helping people. Even if he wasn’t appreciated, what would it matter if he knew he was doing good? Isn’t that what it’s all about, really? Doing good?

********************

     And then, he was awake. Gasping for breath, awake. Blood gently dribbled from his mouth and ears. He felt very ill and unsettled. He tried to stand up once more, and with effort, he managed to get up. He inched his way back out, but by the time he had reached the table, it became more and more difficult for him to remain standing. He struggled toward the sofa and collapsed once more.

     And then, again, he was awake. But now, he felt better. Felt a little… different, even. Outside, it looked like it was early morning. He didn’t know what else to do, so he decided to get ready for work once more, like he did every day.

     The day at the office started like any other. As his walk to work ended, he felt the sun’s rays burning down on him, the miserable heat of the summer at its peak. For once, he couldn’t wait to get inside. Once he left the elevator up to the floor where he worked, he passed his boss.

     “How are you doing today, sir?” Tobias asked rather quaintly.

     “Mediocre.” His boss continued to walk onwards.

     Tobias was somewhat surprised. His boss usually refused to speak with him—or many of the other workers on the floor, for that matter—even declining to answer a simple greeting. But today, something was different. Tobias shuffled over to his cubicle. After a few minutes, he still could not concentrate, his mind so focused on both last night’s events and the events this morning. He peeked over the wall of his cubicle to look at his coworker.

     “George… do you think there’s anything different going on around here lately? Like, maybe something strange with the boss?”

     “No to both those questions,” George answered bluntly.

     Tobias lowered himself back into his chair. Another thought popped into his head, and he got up once more.

     “George? Do you like me at all? Like as a friend? As a coworker?”

     “I don’t care much for you or your existence, to be honest. I’d rather you leave me alone right now.”

     Tobias sunk down, part baffled and part ecstatic. Something was different, after all, and he had a pretty good idea what it was. He rose suddenly and made his way to his boss’s office. The door was ajar, and he walked right in.

     “Do… do you think I deserve a raise?” he questioned his boss.

     “Of course you do. Ya work like a slave.”

     “But… but will you give me a raise?” he inquired once more.

     “Of course not. Everyone around these parts knows how stingy I am.” Then, after a moment of awkward silence, his boss recoiled somewhat, as if it had just dawned on him what he had just said. “Just… go. Get back to work.” He shook his head as Tobias left, as if emerging from a trance.
 
********************

     That night was different. Tobias lay in bed, staring at the ceiling, contemplating this apparent newfound power. If it really was true, like he thought it was, the implications were profound: now, for once in his life, he could be certain of at least one thing. Even if the things he heard from now on—the opinions about himself, especially—were not positive or soothing in any way, simply knowing that he could learn the infallible truth was somewhat of a comfort to him. The power of this, he contemplated, could even reach far outside his own self; it could, potentially, be used as a tool of ultimate accountability. Yes, perhaps that was what he’d use it for—maybe even what he was meant to use it for. For once in his life, Tobias felt as if he had a place in the world and a purpose in life.

     The next morning, instead of going to work, Tobias set out on a journey. Along the way, he used his mysterious new ability to connect with strangers of all walks of life and to solve any conflicts he came upon; he found that, sometimes, establishing trust and openness between two people was often the best way to make people see that they might not be too different after all. He traveled for many days and met many people until he reached Washington D.C. This was his destination, and he imagined that it would quickly become the focal point of his mission. Though he was finally beginning to run out of money, he supposed that once he made his move, he would have little trouble gaining support one way or another. His first act would be a bold one that would doubtlessly receive a lot of attention.

     He spent many minutes walking and scanning the area. At last, from a distance, he spotted a man with greying hair and a neat trimmed beard, a man he recognized from many a televised speech. As he approached him, he began to shout.

     “Congressman Steward!” The man turned his head to look at Tobias as he approached, “I’m a constituent of yours, and I was wondering if I could ask you some questions.”

     The man, though visibly annoyed, nodded and let out a gruff noise that vaguely resembled a “yes” in compliance.

     “People say that in recent years you haven’t had the interests of the state nor its people in mind. Is it true that you’ve been screwing over your constituents for almost the last decade of your political career?”

     Something snapped in the congressman, as if a switch inside his head had been suddenly flicked on, and he began his tirade, loud and clear for all around him to hear, “Well, yes, of course that’s true. You know all of what I have to gain from it. What people don’t realize, however, is that I’ve been in it for personal gain from the very beginning. Let me make that very clear.”

     Tobias’s face twisted into a mischievous grin. People around them had already stopped in shock and began pulling out their phones to record as the congressman’s impromptu speech continued on.

     “Well, no sir, I’m not quite sure I do know just what you have to gain from your self-interested behavior. Would you care to elaborate on the extent of your malicious actions?” Tobias prodded, hoping to dig even deeper into the web of deceit.

     The congressman continued, on and on, question after question. He could do nothing but be painfully honest. No lie, no transgression would be left untold. From now on, things would be different for everybody, starting here.
 
********************

     To say that a purge had begun was an understatement. Footage of the events that had transpired between Tobias and Congressman Steward flooded the internet and seized every media outlet in a way that seemed almost without end. People across the country and even around the world wondered who this mystery man was, and were simultaneously in a fierce, fiery uproar at what has escaped from the congressman’s lips. When Tobias tried the same thing again, he was almost arrested; yet, the officers suddenly let him go when, confronted by Tobias, they all agreed that they had no moral or even logical grounds upon which to arrest him and that he was “probably” doing the right thing. He quickly became a well-known and well-loved face in the area, as well as an overnight celebrity throughout the nation.

     Politicians everywhere feared that he would come for them and force them to expose their darkest secrets and unravel the lies they had spun in order to both keep themselves in power and take full advantage of the “benefits” of their positions. And indeed, that’s just what Tobias intended to do. Eventually, a protest formed outside the U.S. Capitol building. “Let Tobias in,” they cried, day after day. People from every state continued to pour in to express support for the man from which no truth could be hidden. At long last, and with much reluctance from the opposition, they got their way.

     And so the burning interrogation began. One by one, they began to fold under an onslaught of both their own naked words that betrayed them, revealing the ugly truths they sought to conceal, and a torrent of scathing criticism from the outside, a world looking upon them in disgust tinted with an unfortunate but inevitable dose of hypocrisy. At last, the true enemy would show itself, dragged from the darkness in which it lay. At last, they had nowhere to hide—no veil with which to mask the ugliness underneath, the horrid selfishness and secret lust for power with drove them; a lust for control.

     Only a few escaped with their reputations wholly intact, alongside a handful more who were deemed to be not quite as bad as the rest. Upon their exit, the majority were met with screaming mobs full of hatred at the numerous and nigh uncountable transgressions, political, personal, or otherwise, divided between so many people, that had been allowed to be committed for years; so many long years had passed without justice and truth reigning supreme as it should, but here, now, things could be different for once. In so many days, there were so many deposed so ungracefully. Like an unstoppable wave towering tall enough to block the very sun, this movement spread and consumed. In many places, violence erupted on unimaginable levels, but in others, more peaceful transitions awaited.

     And at the front of this movement was one man. For a time, Tobias was happy and wholeheartedly proud of himself. Raised on a pedestal, to all those around him he became the paragon of all virtue itself, a champion of justice and truth, and the beacon to a better future. All those who sought to lead nations would no longer be held accountable simply by a fallible system and judged by their own unreliable words. Now, each and every one of them had a very real threat dangling over their heads. For once, faced with the fear of legions of burning eyes and bloodthirsty mouths of the people of the world, the people with power did, time after time, the right thing. There would be no more deception. No more exploitation of the masses for the sake of greed. The era of hoodwinking, it seemed, was truly coming to an end. For once, each and every one was pushed to, as the saying goes, plant trees of whose shade they would never see in their lifetimes; to do what was in the best interest of not just themselves, but of as many people as they could reach with their influence.

     But this man, he was but one man, and a man still. Even after everything he had done, everything that had been accomplished, he still felt empty. Though he had a purpose—a place that he always desired in the world that had once rejected him—though he had truly made a difference, though he thought he was motivated by the good and his heart and his desire to make the world a better place… even though from now on, he would live his life free from fear or from physical want… he still felt… awful. Even as many more years passed, and his powers were called upon less and less frequently, but being just as revered regardless, he did not feel any better, nor any worse. Once more, he was stuck in a rut, a void of isolation and of sheer, inexplicable terror.

     So, on the evening of December twenty-first, Tobias Matthews looked in the mirror. Tears streamed from his eyes. He looked at his reflection, and opened his mouth to speak.
 
********************

     On the morning of December twenty-second, Tobias Matthews was found dead in his apartment. Though foul play was initially suspected, the cause of death was determined to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his temple. His body lie in front of a mirror. For ages after, people questioned what would cause him to do such a terrible thing to himself. But truly, it was not quite a surprising thing, you see: everyone Tobias Matthews ever spoke to always told the truth, for better or for worse.

THE END
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on August 12, 2017, 01:55:53 AM
The Fall of the Renegade Eclipse

     Panic. There was no conceivable way anything should have gone wrong on this mission, let alone everything that mattered. A hardware malfunction, perhaps, was expected, but all the top engineers and technicians had assured the captain and the crew that the vessel was fully functional and ready for the final phase of its testing—a complete cruise around the galaxy. But this? A full-on ambush? Nobody in their wildest dreams had expected this, let alone an attack so seemingly well prepared and executed. Though it was supposed to be absolutely top secret, somehow, their mission had been ousted and tracked down to the inch. It would have taken no less to have seamlessly and successfully transported a ship—let alone two, for that matter—straight between the Renegade Eclipse and its two escorts, one on either side. Beyond all belief, it seemed as if the enemy had outsmarted them and was using technology that rivaled, if not surpassed, theirs. The Renegade Eclipse had been designed to be the most advanced military ship in the entire galaxy, but now, it was helpless floating in the void. If they unleashed their powerful weaponry on their enemy, they had just as great a chance of unintentionally blowing their own allies out of the cosmos along with them—its state-of-the-art artillery had never been tested out in the field before, and now was certainly not the time to risk messing up even more. And without backup, who knew what else was to come? Could they withstand a second assault so soon after the first, which they would barely have survived in the first place?

     Then, rather late, the ship’s alarm started up, bathing the hallway in a glowing crimson light. He stopped to peer out the nearest window and survey the scene outside. Though he was but the lieutenant commander of the ship’s ground forces, he knew a thing or two about space battles from his training. This alarm was not one for a direct attack or breach of the ship’s hull. No, the enemy invaders still had their cannons locked onto the escort ships, which were desperately wriggling around to reach an angle where they could fire back without hitting the Renegade Eclipse as well. The sound of the alarm gave it away: this alarm indicated that they were being boarded. Somehow, amidst the chaos, another hostile ship must have slipped through past the forward cannons and connected with the lower docking bay. To do so, it must have been quite small in comparison with the others, though regardless, that did not bode well for them; it was yet another factor to worry about in this already bleak situation. They did not—could not—know what they were dealing with, and that worried him even more. And if their weaponry was as advanced as their ships, things certainly did not look very good for their survival.

     Another message blared up. “ALL CAPABLE HANDS TO YOUR NEAREST ARMORY. PREPARE FOR COMBAT.”

     He scrambled so he could fall in with the nearest group. Strength in numbers was the last advantage they had left; though it was exceedingly unlikely that they could rally together the entirety of the ship’s forces in time for the first confrontation, they certainly stood a better chance using group tactics.

     “Sir,” another soldier nodded with him as he joined in and ran along with a group of ten others.

     “Good,” he thought to himself, “here’s something to work with, at least.”

     Upon reaching the armory, they quickly grabbed everything they could carry. After a short while, it seemed like they were the only group on this level who was going to be using this armory, so it didn’t matter how much they took: they armed themselves to the teeth. Aside from the standard sidearm energy pistol and knife, they each took a pulse rifle, a shotgun as a backup, several grenades, and enough ammunition to fend off a small army. One of the soldiers even took a sniper rifle for herself, “just in case.” After their preparations were finished, he gave the order to move out. There was a nearby corridor that would serve as a choke point between two vital means of transportation through the ship; sooner or later, this meant that if the invaders weren’t stopped soon enough, they would doubtlessly be coming through this way, through one end of the hallway or another. Four soldiers positioned themselves on either side, and two in the center with the commander. Tensely, they waited. For a moment, his communication device flared up with noise, but was quickly silenced. It startled and unnerved him, though he mentally assured himself that it wasn’t as bad as he thought it could be.

     Noise at one end of the passageway. He could hear the group positioned there start to pull back for cover. As he turned, he saw in the corner of his eye one of them being struck with a bolt from the attackers. As it struck through, a jet of crimson spurted out the other side and against the wall. The man fell forward to his hands and knees, stunned and injured by the blast. Several more followed in the blink of an eye, and he dropped dead, practically ripped apart by the onslaught. Then, more noise from the other side of the hallway.

     “Shit!” he thought, “they weren’t supposed to be attacking from both sides! Had they already cleaned out the whole ship by now? And how the hell was that even possible? He didn’t think that even the most elite of strike forces could be that efficient.” He thought he heard the first group yelling about the ineffectiveness of their pulse rifles. “Switch weapons!” he shouted to the other group, “Shotguns!”

     The second group seemed to be somewhat more effective at holding back the intruders, though only marginally. The two men who flanked him had already rushed forward to provide support to the first group, who were almost literally on their last legs. Even as he continued to bark orders to both groups, it seemed inevitable at this point that they would be overrun before long. In front of him, energy bolts of varying colors continued to stream forth with increasing intensity against the faltering troops, and behind him… well, he assumed it wasn’t going much better. The last thing he wanted to do was turn around and get shot in the back. If he was going down, he was going to fight to the end.

     At last, the first group and its reinforcements finally fell. Their corner of the room was heavily stained with gore, from which it was clear that the enemy was using much more volatile weaponry then they were. It was not a pleasant way to go, though at this point, he didn’t have much of a choice; he swore not to die a coward.

     From around the corner, several insectoid-type aliens charged forth. Some of them had blades for hands, resembling a mantis, with stubby, thin fingers up top, while others had almost humanoid hands. He fired his shotgun at the one that had come around first, and it visibly recoiled at the attack, though it was but injured. He shot again, though this time was different. His blast was intercepted by a stream of black that flew around the corner. This was followed by a looming figure, a man—or what he thought was a man—clad in heavy armor and a flowing cape clasped to his shoulders—the thing he had seen dart around the corner, somehow. The titan stood almost six and a half feet tall, with inhumanly-wide shoulders. As he got closer, he motioned the aliens to his side. The commander was frozen in absolute fear of what he saw: his powerful features and even the absolutely striking way he walked. His eyes soaked up the sight before him: the figure’s pale grey skin and oppressive purple eyes. Even as the beast holstered his own weapons, the commander’s fear failed to fade. This man—no, monster—had such an absolutely terrifying presence. He knew this thing was perhaps entertained by the sight of the commander standing, weapon drawn, frozen in absolute terror. He could hear more creatures creeping up from behind, but he could do absolutely nothing. Nothing at all.

     The beast reached forward and wrenched the weapon from his hands. It gave way with no resistance. His throat dried up, and coughed out something resembling a plea before the man stepped forward once more and hoisted the commander off his feet with little effort. He could feel the cold wall against his back and neck, and, looking down and all around him, he was more afraid than ever. He thought that he could see the figure’s mouth move, just slightly, as if speaking.

     “I’m sorry,” he thought it said, as a flat blade ignited from its wrist, crackling with a low heat.

THE END
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on September 24, 2017, 03:41:59 AM
Assorted Poetry
Down

     I eat, but there is no pleasure, no want
     I pause and look around—nothing at all
     It is a horrid thing, so I must.

     I take the bottle and carefully pour
     As the fluid slides down my throat, there is a pause that grips me
     A slight burn—a taste like bitter poison, but I must drink.

     I do not like to drink, but I despise it even more
     So I suppose I must; we all have our demons
     For if I do not drink, I think it will kill me.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 18, 2017, 10:50:22 PM
Halloween Horror Special 2017 part 1
Itty Morning Bitty Balm

     Marina was a sickly girl from the time she was young; she was so often ill that going out in public too much posed a significant danger to her. Thus, when it came to the scope of her world, she was mostly confined to her house and the house across the street. Every day except for the weekends, private tutors came by to teach her the kinds of things she would learn if she was in school, but still she missed the type of interactions she'd be able to have if she went to a "real" school. The neighbor across the street, Mr. Sanders, had no children of his own, but he did have a magnificent garden out front of his house. Sometimes, if he was out tending to the garden, he would help Marina across the street and show her around. Marina liked the towering hedges, brilliantly-colored exotic plants, and wide assortment of whimsical garden decorations and gnomes Mr. Sanders had collected over the years from all around the world. Mr. Sanders would tell her many different stories about the gnomes, where they came from, and what their personalities were like—though Marina was old enough to know that garden gnomes could never really come to life, she suspended her disbelief enough because she loved the stories and because they evoked memories of the fairy tales she adored as a little child.

     One night, Marina had a wonderful dream. In her dream, she was laying in bed, when all of a sudden, she was woken by a brilliant light and the sound of sweet singing. Through her bedroom door came a beautiful fairy, singing a melody unlike any she had ever heard. The song spoke to her and moved her to begin floating out of her bed, unrestrained by the limitations of her unwell body, and float toward the fairy. The words echoed:

     Itty morning bitty balm
     Come with me and then you'll see
     Just the place that's meant for you

     But then, she woke from her dream with a start. She looked around the room, and lamented in just how bleak it seemed: just how incomplete her life felt. She curled up underneath her blanket and began to cry.

     More time passed without any incidents, but before long, just as Marina had begun to forget about the dream, she had it again. It started the same way—the light and the singing from the beautiful fairy, Marina floating out of her bed like an airy spirit—but this time, she got further. As she floated through the hallway outside her room, she began to drift closer and closer to the fairy, and she started to feel a comfort unlike any she had ever felt before: like she wanted to touch the fairy and wrap her arms around it and never let go. But then, just like before, she woke up before she could get any closer. She felt even more despair than last time—her dream felt so intense, so real, and she wanted to feel more of the pleasure she had experienced inside her dream; for once in her life, she just wanted to feel happiness without the reality and inevitability of her world to taint it with disappointment.

     Every so often, Marina would have the dream again. Sometimes, she was gradually able to get nearer to the fairy, but no matter how much she tried to make the dream last longer, she always bolted awake before she could get to the front door. One day, Marina was in Mr. Sanders' garden, when she noticed a new gnome she hadn't ever seen before. It was sitting at the front of the garden at the base of a fountain, directly across the street from her house. It was sitting upon a base that held an inscription. "Itty morning bitty balm." It was the phrase from her dream! Immediately, but calm enough to avoid arousing suspicion, she asked Mr. Sanders about it.

     "Well," he began, "I just got this little fellow the other week, from a traveling chap from the old country. Now, he... he told me, that it was a phrase used by the elves and creatures of ancient times. He said it meant something like 'The new day holds much pleasure'. A curious thing, isn't it?"

     How could that be? The phrase had started appearing in her dream before Mr. Sanders even acquired the gnome! It had to mean something! She mentioned nothing, not about the dream nor the gnome, to her parents. It was her secret, after all; nobody could know about it.

********************

     One night, things were different. Now, more than ever, Marina was determined to catch up to the fairy. Every night, she went to sleep prepared for the dream, and tonight was the night. It was the same start as ever before. As she came closer and closer to the fairy, she began feeling more and more blissful, completely at peace, unlike anything she had ever felt before. As she drifted out the door and onto the lawn, the fairy's singing had her completely entranced. So gracefully the words slid out of its mouth, like the most elegant of notes from the finest instrument:

     Itty morning bitty balm
     Come with me and then you'll see
     Just the place that's meant for you

     Where we're going, you'll never want
     Come with me and you'll never leave
     So luscious little one, come to me

     Itty morning bitty balm

     It was dark outside, the sky pitch black with not a single star and the moon nowhere in sight. The fairy drifted across the street and settled down at the foot of a wondrous fountain that poured forth: where the street would be, there was a river with shimmering, unearthly water. Still she floated forward, coming closer and closer to where the fairy rested. She felt so much ecstasy as she reached her hand out, desperate to lock hand-in-hand with the fairy and experience the rest it had to give her.

     But then, as if something on the other side of the dream world—the real world, the world outside her fantasy—called to her, she realized with a start that something was wrong. All of a sudden, her dream began to fall apart and shatter around her. She was drawn away as if being violently peeled from her dream, and before she knew it, she was back in the real world, dazed and confused. She was standing in the street in front of Mr. Sanders' garden, one foot lifted and poised to settle down on the curb. Her gaze was locked on the house, and the front door, which was wide open: inside, she saw nothing but black void, and a haze circling around the entrance. Her breath was frozen inside her body. She broke her stare and looked down. In front of her, at the base of the fountain, was the gnome she had seen before—but it was not the same gnome she had seen before. Now, its face was locked in an evil grimace, pointed teeth showing in a wide-open mouth. Her body felt even more sick than it had ever felt before. She felt the imminent danger coming up like a fog around her. Her body felt stiff and vulnerable. This was not what she thought it had been.

     She turned and ran.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: MY LADY OF GREY
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BrainyLucario on October 19, 2017, 12:59:34 AM
Ooh spooky
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 25, 2017, 10:06:54 PM
Halloween Horror Special 2017 part 2
My Lady of Grey

     Oh! What a wondrous thing it is to me!
     My radiant love stands before me, cloaked in swathes of grey!
     For years now we have been together in love,
     Dreading the days we spend apart.

     When first we met, I know not when,
     But love was from the start; every year together is a lifetime.
     Her smile means so much, her heavenly voice my bliss,
     All-in-all, a rival of the world's best masterpiece.

     To please her is my want,
     In turn her promise, to remain by my side,
     At day's end what I need.
     For her, all my sacrifice is naught.

     I ask her if I can leave, but she says no,
     She doesn't like the people I would spend my time with,
     So begrudgingly, I stay, inside to rot.
     After all, I cannot break her favor.

     It takes nothing to please her,
     Except listen to her every word and let her do what she wants,
     She doesn't ask much, except that I do what pleases her.
     Whatever she wants, I shall do to my death.

     But here I sit, waiting for the hour she returns.
     I know not when, but when she comes,
     She comes home different,
     The night's rowdiness still lingers on her face and body.

     Her away at work, I at home, I wait for her response.
     The light remains dim, I check again,
     From malice or ignorance, I know not,
     But here I sit, my face warped with grey.

     My heart is gripped, my body tense,
     My spirits sink, but hope remains.
     The tears may flow, but still I wait,
     She'll be back before I know.

     Not to fight is right,
     But inside I have a feeling,
     A feeling of something wrong inside.
     But maybe I'm wrong; I do not know for sure.

     Here I cry, wondering if me or her,
     Craving her affection and love,
     I think of running, running far away,
     But at a word, I will stay.

     So here I sit, waiting for my lady of grey.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: WHAT A PRETTY THING
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on November 02, 2017, 04:46:22 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2017 part 3
What a Pretty Thing

Jan. x, 19xx

    I shivered in the cold of the cellar. Even after all these years, I wasn't used to sleeping down here. As long as I can remember, this has been my home. There had only been a couple of times in my life where I had gotten the chance to sleep elsewhere in the house; it wasn't much better, to be honest, but at least it was an improvement over this nasty place. I don't really know why Mama kept me down here. Most of the times she just gave vague answers, but often she simply said stuff like "it's good for your body," or to "strengthen my mind." While I wasn't in the basement, Mama always made me work around the house all day while she sat around. Mama definitely thought that doing work around the house was good for me, something she insisted on a regular basis. And who was I to question it? Even though the work was rough and sometimes a little dangerous, I didn't really have anything else to do. Mama wouldn't ever let me go outside by myself; sometimes, she would have me go out in the yard and chop wood, but she would always be right next to me the entire time. Sometimes I thought about escaping. One night, Mama left the cellar door unlocked, and I went outside. But then I realized I probably wouldn't like it in the outside world anyway. That's what Mama always tells me. So I went back inside and went to sleep.

     We usually only got one meal per day, but because Mama has always been a heavy woman, I've suspected that she sneaks food when I'm not around. She always tells me she doesn't though, so I have no choice to believe her without any evidence to the contrary. Whenever she gets angry at me, she just throws me in the basement, locks the door, and forgets about me for the rest of the day. She doesn't like it when I question her. I don't know why Mama can't even do anything to try and make my life any easier; if she really loves me like she says she does, then wouldn't she? IT'S NOT FAIR THAT I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING AROUND HERE. Sometimes Mama just throws me downstairs when she feels like it. I know she's in charge but it doesn't feel fair to me at all. Don't I get a say in things? How long is this going to go on?

    But maybe I shouldn't complain. Maybe I don't deserve to. Maybe thing really are better here. Maybe Mama's just a woman who's been through so much that it's just worn away at her. Maybe I shouldn't blame her for everything like I always do. Maybe it is always my fault...

********************

June x, 19xx

     Today started just like any other day. I didn't think anything was going to happen. I swear, I didn't.

     I woke up extra early today because of a leak in the basement. The ground was wet and it was all around me now. Mama refused to call anybody to fix the pipes, and she wouldn't even bring the tools so I could do it myself. When I woke up, I couldn't fall back to sleep, so I just lay there in the water, waiting for Mama to come and call me. Some time later, the door opened, and I was called up. I started doing my chores for the day, just like I would on any other day.

     The day passed by and I did my things without complaining. One of my last tasks was to dust and vacuum one of the side rooms we used for storage. It wasn't a very large room, and I had cleaned it out many a time before. The room was full of dressers and cabinets which seemed to collect dust more than anything else in the entire house. Today, I was extra determined to work hard; I wanted to pour all my effort into my work so that I could hope to stay out of the basement for even just a little bit longer. Tonight, I wasn't looking forward to going back down there. So, I looked under each and every dresser in the room to try and pull out all the dust and hair. One dresser in particular had a huge mess underneath. I reached my hand under time and time again, pulling everything out until I was certain I had gotten everything. I started sifting through everything, and in one of the clumps, I found something. It was a crumpled-up photograph. It was a family, a mother and a father, with their young child. On the back of the photograph names were scribbled: one for the mother, one for the father, and one for the child, each labeled. The child's name was my own.

     I was stunned. Still holding it in my hand, I blankly walked out into the living room, walked up to Mama, and pressed the picture into her hand. She scanned it, then looked up at me, her wide-eyed expression a mixture of fear and disappointment. I started crying and shaking.

     "Y-y-y... do... d-do you... l-ove me Mama?"

     "Of course I do," she said, as she began stroking my hair longingly, "You're my pretty thing. My pretty thing to the end."

     "I don't think you love me," I blurted out, "you never have. You don't care about me Mama."

     This was not what she wanted to hear today. She got an evil grimace on her face.

     "Basement," she started, "now."

     I got up and I started edging my way toward the cellar.

     "NOW!" she repeated.

     I didn't move fast enough. She came after me. Before I knew it, she would be in another one of her rages again.

     I don't know why, but today, I had enough. I froze there, just outside the doorway. Mama wasn't happy; she wasn't happy at all. She started getting angry, and I was still frozen. She just kept yelling more and more; she kept tugging at me to get me to move. She moved in and out of the basement to try and get me to move like I was some sort of stubborn piece of furniture that was stuck on the carpet. She was yelling at me to get down in the basement. I was saying "No, no, no," over and over again. Again and again. I was afraid, I didn't know what else to do. I didn't want to go down there, but I was overwhelmed by her building anger. I didn't know what to do, so I just stood there in the door frame, arms wrapped around head as she was yelling at me more and more. She was trying to grab and pull me off and on. I think she hit me too. I don't really remember.

     As she waved her arms madly, she edged closer and closer away from the door and further across the landing. Her weight teetered dangerously over the edge of the top step. And then, she went just a little too far.

     I pushed her down the stairs. I killed her. She's dead now. I'm free to go. Nothing is stopping me from leaving. Leaving and never coming back. No overseer always looming over me, forcing me down here every night. I'm free. I'm really free. Free at last.

********************

Oct. x, 19xx

     It's been a little while since Mama died. I've been out and about in the world around me, and although it's been a difficult experience, I've been getting over it. I'm adapting to my new environment well. There's just one thing that bothers me. I feel so lonely and I can't shake the feeling. Sometimes I just go to the park and sit on the benches and watch everyone go by: the families walking, the lovers whispering in each others' ears, the children playing... playing, sometimes all by themselves, their parents off elsewhere, thinking that their children will always be there, right in their view the whole time, while they sip coffee, chat with friends, or just sit around bored, wrapped up in their own world. Maybe I can understand what Mama did to me more now that I'm in her position. There's one little girl, not even two, who comes to the park almost every day. She's a wanderer and full of energy, and her parents are particularly absentminded. I wonder... I wonder if she'll come to stay? The house is still there... and she is a pretty thing. A pretty thing indeed.

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on December 23, 2017, 05:41:48 AM
Assorted Poetry
Oda de las Palmas (Carissa's Poem)

     Huddled around in awe
     Hushed words and held breath
     A magical incantation
     Inclination toward the wondrous

     We don the robes of kings and queens
     Trappings of a time long past
     Or perhaps a time yet to come
     And make our way through the narrow entryway

     Carrying gifts of praise and mourning
     We make our first steps into a whole new world
     A universe of awe and wonder we behold
     Shining, shimmering bliss all around

     Like a realm apart from the rest
     My spirit escapes from my body
     And soars, soars all around
     Free of the chains of reality

     Taking in the dazzling sights
     Wondering what's next to come
     Slowly, but surely
     Sinking down, down, down

     And back again
     To a world we know
     A world of fret
     A world of fear

     But in our hearts we know
     If wonder we behold
     Then wonder we may create anew
     From death comes life, from ashes and stumps we rise
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on February 18, 2018, 11:54:27 PM
Assorted Poetry
The Rays of the Sun No Longer Shine On Me

     I, cast down, forlorn, thought you to be my earthly savior,
     But alas, 'twas not to be, because your cruel misbehavior.

     You threw me to the wolves instead of helping me up, ignored;
     In time, I know you will get yours, by accord.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on April 09, 2018, 07:17:50 AM
Assorted Poetry
Pane

     A pane of glass smashed into pieces,
     By the great iron fist of life.

     Put back together again,
     But just then it's smashed anew.

     And now some pieces are missing,
     I thought you were supposed to be helping me here?
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on April 28, 2018, 09:56:53 AM
Tempest Eternal

     Nobody really knows when the winds started. Nobody can even guess why they’re still going, but that’s the thing we’re all desperate to find out. I suppose they must have begun as a small, barely noticeable mile-an-hour spring breeze sweeping over our state, or from somewhere around here, and then… just kept on going from there. Even in a world where things have stopped making much sense any more, I suppose that chain of events kind of seems reasonable to believe. It’s amazing how much things can snowball until they grow from miniscule little specks on the windshield of life to crushing you with all of their accumulated weight. Nobody ever thinks much of a little breeze—or even a single really windy day by itself—but when the wind not only never stops, but keeps getting worse, and worse, and worse with every single passing day, the shitshow is just about beyond comprehension. Started with a little panic, went to crime and looting—no real surprises there—and, now that most people are too afraid to even leave their own houses on a regular basis, mass suicides. But me? I’m sticking around. Don’t know why I am, but it seems like that’s just something I should do. That word might not mean much anymore, but at least some of us gotta stick to our guns rather than sticking them in our mouths, right? But who am I? Who am I to believe such a thing?

********************

     When I graduated college, I was afraid to come back home, but I did anyway because I had nowhere else to go while being able to support myself. While home has always been here for me, it hasn’t really felt like a home for a long time. Part of that was because of my desire to try and make something worthwhile out of my life, but undoubtedly, another part of that was my tumultuous past. My mother is the reason for that. She was not a good person. I suppose, on some days, she could, in fact, be considered a “good” person, or rather, somewhat pleasant to be around, but I do not consider that to mean she was an overall good person by any means. The things she did to me throughout my life were unspeakable. This went on for years and years, and I felt like I was alone in the world. Nobody ever seemed to notice, and even if they did, they probably would not have done anything to help regardless. One day, I broke. I decided I couldn’t be hurt any longer; I would harden myself to emotion so I could avoid feeling the pain I was going through. So that’s how it started. For a time, I felt like I was on top of the world: I wasn’t phased by anything, not even death of my loved ones, and I could build myself as a person without petty emotions getting in the way. But when I realized that things weren’t going to stop being that way, I became jaded and disappointed with life. One day, my mother just left and didn’t come back; just disappeared out of my life completely, but that didn’t change what had happened. She may have left, but she left a mess behind.

     All throughout high school, I didn’t know what to do with my life. I figured I’d just go do something and just be another cog in the machine like so many others; I had the intelligence (or so everybody else assured me) and the potential to do more, but I had no motivation. I didn’t know if I could handle or even had any desire to go to college. On the social side of things, I wasn’t doing much better. I never really had many friends, or any friends, really, and I could never figure out why. Sometimes it seems like people just weren’t very interested in me, or maybe they didn’t like me. Sure, I had an occasional person I was friendly with now and then, but those people didn’t tend to stick around for long. Life usually got in the way of anything that might have developed. On the personal side of things, I see now that I was even more of a mess, even though I didn’t recognize it at the time. I didn’t feel as I could trust anybody, and most of all I didn’t want anybody else thinking they could try to help me with my own problems. I kept everything about my life I hidden, kept to myself, everything I thought that was unmentionable, except until I met one person who changed my life in so many ways.

********************

     Alex Craiomi. He was my freshman year roommate and, for a time, the greatest friend I had ever had, as well as being one of the only ones. I never really connected very easily with people, and going into college, I had just assumed the same would always be true… but Alex, he… he was someone different. He just didn’t care. In that regard, he was like a saint. He oozed charisma and presence, but when I first met him, Alex was both one of the humblest and kindest people I had ever met in my life. Nobody could hate him, and he loved everybody. The moment he walked into a room it was filled with this magnificent, indescribable energy that everyone just felt. He was my best friend and he made me feel like I belonged. I looked up to him and I admired him. Everybody wanted to do anything they could to please him, and I was no different. But he didn’t care if anybody was sucking up to him or going out of their way to impress him or not—he was just a good person. Even though Alex wasn’t always my first choice of the person I would turn to—there were dozens, in fact, at one time or another—he was the one I finally settled on. Those kinds of things wear you down, and at the time I told him, I was in a rut like no other I had been in before. I was afraid. And so, I talked to Alex. I told him everything. Everything. Every single thing that had happened to me that had messed me up and led to my depression: everything about my mother, who she was, what she was like, what she had done; no detail unspared. I let out my raw, grisly feelings to him, and he still accepted me. He accepted me more than ever, because he knew I needed someone to help me. On one hand, it hurt to get everything out, but on the other hand, things started to feel better. For once in my life, I had hope that I wasn’t truly alone in the world: that maybe, I could start to move on with my life, and maybe I could become something. Alex gave me hope and inspiration for my life, and he was there for me every step of the way.

     Sophomore year came, and at first, nothing changed. Alex was the same old Alex as before, and things were perfect. Thanks to Alex, I had the confidence to try and come out of my shell more often. Even though we weren’t roommates any longer, we stayed close friends. I knew he would always be there if I needed him, and need him I did. Even though I felt like I was getting better, I knew that I wouldn’t be cured overnight. Maybe Alex thought I would be. Toward the end of the year, he started to drift away. I chalked it up to stress with finals and tried my best not to beat myself up like I always used to before every time someone didn’t want to be around me. It didn’t work too well. Summer came and went. I didn’t hear from Alex much. He didn’t send me any messages, and whenever I tried to send him messages, he would always be brief and take a lot of time to respond. It unnerved me a bit, but once again, I tried to be optimistic.

     Then we were back at college as juniors. I figured things would get back to normal before long, but I guess I was just too naive. Things didn’t get any better; they only got worse. I tried to talk to him to ask him what was wrong, but he ignored me. I kept asking, kept pushing, and he got hostile. I kept asking myself what I did wrong, and, I don’t know, maybe I did do something wrong, but I’m feeling more and more like I should be blaming him for how he treated me. He turned away from me—betrayed me—when I needed him the most. He abandoned me and treated me like shit for no reason. But, of course, I didn’t feel quite like that in the moment. Some days, I would just sit around and hope I might run into him. He’d still treat me awfully, or just ignore me, but I didn’t care. As long as the chance was there—no matter how small—that things could go back to the way they were before, I remained hopeful. But he had changed. Maybe all he wanted was to have a good time, and I couldn’t give him that; maybe he was just a horrible person all along and I had been so desperate for acceptance that I had ignored it the whole time. There were so many “maybes” and unknowns that it made my head spin. Things got pretty bad for me. Whenever I would see him, I felt like the life just drained out of my limbs. It was like that feeling I used to get from him, when he would come in and everything would just get revitalized, except the opposite. I felt weak, like I was being drained, and I could do nothing about it. All I could do was shuffle along and try to get as far away as I possibly could as soon as possible. My legs were shaking, my heart was pounding, and my chest was tight. Just seeing him again made the wound fresh and hammered in just how alone, weak, and powerless I was. And here’s the thing about Alex. He knew everybody. It’s a horrible thing, a horrible, horrible thing when every day you have to go out and be afraid that people might be treating you differently just because somebody who doesn’t like you may or may not have said something bad about you to a bunch of people. It doesn’t even have to be true, but they don’t know that. And that’s the other thing: you don’t know if they’re actually treating you differently, or if you’re maybe just imagining it. When you’re already so messed up in the head, you can’t ever really know. You’re just stuck in this void of doubt and feeling awful but not having anyone to help you because you don’t know if you can trust anyone any more, and if you do think you might be able to trust someone you’re afraid that they’re just going to do the same thing to you and hurt you again, and you don’t know if you can take it any more. And there’s nothing you can do. When you’re in the moment, you don’t always think about it like that, but when you have time to sit and dwell on your thoughts, those are the kind of things you tend to think about. Sometimes when I saw him, I would also notice some of our older mutual friends with him. I thought they were good people too, once, but they too passed by without even acknowledging me. I felt defeated. I felt lost. I had no one else to turn to. I was too afraid.

     I don’t know how I got through senior year. Each night, I dreaded going to bed, knowing that every time I would simply be stuck alone with my thoughts for hours before I managed to fall asleep, only to wake up again and again in the middle of the night, panicked and disoriented. I slept longer and later through the day, and made sure all my classes were in the afternoon, but I was still tired all the time. I just kind of dragged my way through the days and hoped to survive. I ran into Alex every now and again, something that was unavoidable given his prominence in the social community, but by then, I had already come to terms with it and accepted my fate, so to say. I realized that I had been clinging onto a lie for such a long time. Alex was not a good person. He never had been. When he realized his opportunity, he began probing me for information, then exploiting my vulnerabilities, one by one. I clung to his “support” out of desperation. When he had enough of me, he abandoned me… just like everybody else wants to. I want to wake up one day and find that I’ve been stuck in a horrible nightmare this whole time, and everything’s really all fine and dandy. I just want my friend back.


********************

     So here I sit, contemplating life. Now that the world’s been turned upside-down and people are dying every day in unheard-of numbers, I guess all that crap doesn’t even matter any more. Maybe Alex is dead by now; maybe he killed himself the day people realize the winds weren’t ever going to stop. Maybe he’s still out there. It’s been two years since the day the panic started, and still nobody is any closer to understanding what’s causing the winds; the closest anybody can come is that they’re some form of divine punishment designed to purge society of all the sinners, or something like that. Y’know, come to think of it, there was a gentle breeze blowing the day I rolled back into town coming back from college. Everyone in town I ran into commented on it, said it was good that there could be a cool breeze when it had been so hot lately. Said that just yesterday, everything had been completely still, like the earth was holding its breath… completely still…

     Maybe I should kill myself. Maybe I’m the cause of this never-ending storm. Maybe I’ll even be the last human alive, just sticking around and wallowing in my miserable thoughts till the end of time. That’d be a funny thought, wouldn’t it? But maybe I off myself, nothing changes, and the world is still on a one-way road to destruction. Does it really matter then what I do then? So maybe I should stick around. Not much reason to stay, but not much reason to leave either. After all, it’s pretty absurd to think that I could ever be that important. No, it’s completely ridiculous, isn’t it? Life’s pretty funny that way. Some day, I’ll be swept up by the storm and be carried off and probably ripped apart or thrown around or something until I finally die. But until then, all I’ve got left to do is sit around and think about the meaning of my life, my own personal hell. So here I sit, here in my tempest eternal.

THE END
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on September 09, 2018, 09:07:59 AM
Today I Ate Bread Again

     Today I woke up and had another panic attack. I didn't feel much like eating breakfast, so I didn't. I waited a couple hours and had an early lunch instead. I ate two slices of bread and felt like I was going to throw up the whole time. I have thirty-two slices of bread left. I hope I won't have to starve for long before it's safe to go out again. I don't know when that will be. I don't know when they'll be out. It makes me afraid to see them, or to even think they might see me. The thought that there could be ones I don't know about spying on me makes me feel even worse.

     Even if I had anything else I couldn't cook it because they turned the gas off because I haven't payed the bill. No water either, but I have enough packages of water bottles left to last me a while. All I have is the electricity and the four walls and a roof around me. Besides, even if I could cook I don't know if I'd be in the mood to eat it. This omnipresent anguish hangs over me like a dark fog. It twists my stomach and makes me feel weak and shaky off and on throughout the day, every day.

     I don't have much to do around here, but I don't much mind that; it's better than being out there anyway. The last time I went out to the store I saw one of them, and they saw me too, and I started shaking and twitching. I couldn't help it, it just happened. By the time I got back home I was doubled down on the floor in pain. I dropped my bread too on the way back.

     Maybe one day I'll go out and find that they've just stopped coming around. Maybe they've decided they don't want to mess with me any more. Maybe they've lost interest in me, maybe something else happened, anything, that made them stop coming around. Maybe things could go back to normal. Then I could get a job again, maybe try to go back to the way my life used to be. That's a thought. I don't have much money left, so I try to stretch it as much as possible. So even if I wanted to I couldn't get any fancier foods. But it's ok.

     I know why they're after me, but... but I don't know who it's safe to tell. There could be people who are in league with them who I don't know about. I've seen some people I wouldn't have thought were a part of their "in-group" who have started acting the same way they always do. It's always chilling to see it because it just leaves me even more paranoid.  I don't know how far their influence and numbers might spread. There could be six of them, there could be sixteen of them, there could be sixteen-hundred of them. Damned if I know. I know they're out there, and I know they're trying to make my life as miserable as possible. I KNOW who I set off to launch this whole chain of events. I KNOW who is doing this to me, but I don't know who I can tell, because I don't know who is on my side! And what a shitty life it is that I live.

     I'm feeling a little hungrier now that I've written all this down. I might feel like having something to eat. I hope I can eat. After this, I'll have thirty slices of bread left. It's not really much that's left, actually. Some time soon I'll have to go out whether I like it or not. I just don't know what it's going to be like. But I know I have to, some time. Maybe next time I go out I can try getting some potatoes too. Maybe I can will myself to eat some potatoes.

THE END
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 15, 2018, 10:31:50 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2018 part 1
For Want of Peace

    He thought that it would never happen; he knew that it would happen, eventually, but he never expected that it would come so soon, so suddenly. It was so meaningless. They had been everything to him, and now they were just gone, dead for nothing. Dead because the carelessness of another.

    But, despite everything, they were still taking care of him. He had just gotten through college and didn’t have much of his own, but his grandparents had willed to him their house, and no matter how small it was, it was the house he grew up in, and it was a place to stay. They didn’t have much, but at the very least, the property taxes would be covered for a year or two, just long enough for him to get a job and get on his feet. And yet, with them gone so suddenly, could he even find the motivation to go job searching any longer? And too, there was the matter of the funeral; he definitely didn’t know how he could hold himself together for that.

    His grandparents had raised him from the time he was a young child. For various reasons—drugs, crime, alcohol, and just pure apathy—both of his parents had decided they didn’t want anything to do with him. For brief flickers of time, one of his parents or another might seem as if they’d gotten on the wagon, but those hopes were quickly dashed; by the time he turned seven, his grandparents had gotten full custody of him. They were the only family he really ever knew. No aunts or uncles on either side of the family, either. Just he and his grandparents against the world. And now it was just him.

    Standing in the house seemed surreal: even though nothing had actually changed about the house itself, it exuded an air of emptiness from the moment he stepped over the threshold. Despite this, he expected that everything would be exactly as his grandparents left things that fateful day. Quickly shifting through the kitchen drawers, he found that this was the case. All the things he remembered were in their exact place. Utensils, pots, pans, measuring cups, and even the old ice pick they still kept around for some reason. He rested with his head down and his hands leaning inside a drawer. Though the house was silent—except for the occasional creak which came from nowhere in particular—he thought he heard something in the background that he never noticed before… a slight ringing noise. He tried to put it out of his mind, but even as he went to other rooms of the house he thought he could still hear it. For a time, he sat watching TV, lazing on the couch just like he used to do on the weekends as a child… but it wasn’t the same. And now, he could definitely hear the noise growing louder. It was something unusual.

    His mind grew more and more bothered, not only by the noise, but also about the growing discomfort in his mind: he wasn’t sure if he would be comfortable staying here in the house now that his grandparents weren’t here. He could always sell the house, yes, but that would be more hassle he didn’t need right now. And as his mind grew more and more distracted, the hours slipped away. It was now night time. He could feel the tiredness growing and creeping up on him, and before long, he decided to try to go to bed.

    He knew he couldn’t go into his grandparents’ bedroom. It would feel wrong in so many ways, and so, he tried sleeping in the bed he used to use. But, just as the hours had crept up on him, so too had the ringing noise he had heard earlier. It was louder now, much louder, and he could barely focus on sleeping long enough to actually drift off to sleep. After some time of lying in bed, he couldn’t take it any longer. He jumped out of bed, ran into the bathroom, and threw open the medicine cabinet. He saw the sleeping pills he already knew were in there, and in a rush, he downed two of them. He stumbled back over to the bed and waited for them to take effect…

    His dreams were haunted by visions of the past—days spent alone at his parents’ house, crying in the corner, hungry and afraid—and by a mysterious specter with no eyes that let out a terrible, high-pitched growl. It followed him around through his dreams—even as his thoughts drifted to other things, it remained, ever present. Its growl turned into a scream, quiet at first, but growing louder and louder. He tried to run from it, but it became faster and faster and he more exhausted and drained as he tried to run.

    He awoke in a start. The first thing he noticed was the noise: a high-pitched ringing. He tried covering his ears, but it did nothing. It was in his ears, in his head—all around him. He went through the day in a haze, burdened with the noise that only seemed to grow louder and louder as the day went on; before half the day was over, he collapsed on the floor, screaming. He couldn’t take it any longer! He had to find something to stop the pain!

    He stumbled around the house, his hands on his head, until he got to the kitchen. His hands shaking, he shuffled through the drawers. He found the ice pick and held it up before himself. Then, he jammed it into his ears, one by one—anything to stop the noise.

    His slumped down to the floor, blood pouring from his ears, as he finally got a reprieve from his misery. But it was only for a moment. Again, he heard a quiet ringing, coming from nowhere in particular… in his head, and all around him.

    And he screamed.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: THE FEELING OF PAIN
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 22, 2018, 08:35:06 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2018 part 2
The Feeling of Pain

     I was laying in a hospital bed in a haze; half-asleep and half-awake; half-alive and half-dead. I only had a fuzzy recollection of what happened… of the accident. There was a eighteen-wheeler that was speeding, and it veered off the road and straight into me. I went flying, and the last thing I remember was being in the air…

     There were people yelling at me in my hazy state. They knew I was looking at them but I'm not sure if there knew I could barely comprehend what they were saying. I think they might have had some idea of it. They had to. There were doctors and nurses all around me. I think they said that my body was mangled and I was dying; that I couldn't afford reconstructive surgery. They asked me if I wanted to take part in an experimental program of some sort. I think I nodded. I must have nodded, right?

     They took me into surgery right away. Again, I remember little to nothing of it, but when I awoke, I was in agony. There was a man standing at the foot of my bed when I awoke, dressed in a fine black suit. He spoke then, and I found that I was a bit more aware after whatever it was they had done to me. He told me that they had done an experimental procedure on me. They had removed my nearly-destroyed limbs and replaced them with prosthetics that he claimed would slowly bind to my nerve endings; it would, however, take some time to calibrate them because of the new nature of these prosthetics, so I should not be worried. Listening to him is when I realized that I indeed could not feel any of my limbs, and a quick glance to either side showed me my new prosthetics themselves, and intermingling of metal and plastic with my own flesh.

     At first I was cautiously optimistic. They warned me that it would take time before I would regain feeling in my arms and legs, and I trusted them...I trusted them! The months of physical therapy and regular checkups from doctors and technicians went on and on, but still I could feel nothing. I assured myself with the fact that, at the very least, I still had my life, but I cannot deny that those time were hard for me. But if only I knew, if only I knew!

     One day, I felt a sharp pain going through my arm: it was, in fact, the first sensation I had felt in that area for a long time. I had hope. Perhaps it meant that I was regaining feeling: that something, even something bad, was better than no feedback at all. So, naturally, I told them. Though they did not admit it right out, I could tell that they seemed quite worried by the news. It was not a reassuring sight for my to face. They sequestered themselves in a room away from me and spoke for almost a full hour. When they came back, they looked as if they had all been roughed up by an invisible boxer. And yet, they told me that everything would be fine.

     As the days passed, the pains became more and more frequent, from once a month, to once a week, to once a day. They varied in severity, from feeling like only a tiny pinch to a full-on spasm surging throughout my entire limb. I told them, and they got even more worried, but still, they refused to tell me anything. One day, in one of my training sessions, I collapsed, screaming in agony, as I felt waves upon waves of pain throughout my entire body. I cried, and I begged them to tell me what was going on.

     They did.

     They repeated what had already been explained to me: that the prosthetic arms and legs were intended to bind to my nerve endings in a way that would restore feeling to my limbs. That, they had done; but they had done it all too well. My nerve endings had bonded to them, and for some reason, they kept on growing: somehow, an extreme reaction had been triggered, and every day that passed, they would grow bigger and bigger, and more and more sensitive. I asked them what they could do about it.

     They did not know.

     Soon, more test results came back, telling us that because of how the nerves had become intertwined, the prosthetics could not be removed without inflicting a severe amount of lasting pain on the rest of my body, or killing me outright. My nerve endings had grown farther and larger than they had ever seen before, and they were inexplicably still growing. They did not know when they would stop.

     So there I was with a bleak prognosis. And now, I live every waking moment in agony. My whole body is wracked with pain constantly, and movement of any kind only makes it worse. Even breathing is a struggle for me. The painkillers do less and less every day. I’m worried that the same will happen with the sleeping pills they’re giving me. If I had it my way, I would be asleep all day, except to eat, drink, and use the bathroom. Every time I ask, they say they’re working on a solution, but I think they’ve forgotten about me—nay, abandoned me. All I am to them is an experiment gone horribly wrong, and they don’t even have the mercy to put me down. Someone somewhere is telling them that that would be wrong. To hell with that, I say. To leave me here stagnating in my miserable state is wrong! And they know what I am thinking; they have taken every precaution to ensure that I can use nothing around me to hurt myself… except for tonight. Tonight, a nurse left a syringe on the bedside table. I think I can make that work. What other choice do I have?

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: THE UNFORTUNATE MIND
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 29, 2018, 10:10:11 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2018 part 3
The Unfortunate Mind

     “The advancements that paved the way for the development of modern AI were made in 2064. Almost two decades later, in 2081, the first AI that resembled the function of a human brain was developed. From there, AI have only become more and more advanced. All throughout the development of Artificial Intelligence, the omnipresent fear has not only been that our creations will grow more advanced than us, but will also come to believe that humanity has become obsolete. To that end, researchers and scientists developed the means to counteract a rogue AI; they developed the framework for a series of programs which have been termed ‘cyber-toxins.’ These programs have come to be assigned three classes: Class A, which have the effect of temporary incapacitating an AI; Class B, which erase the more advanced functions of an AI and render it more docile and simplistic; and Class C, which can completely destroy an AI. Now, although the usage of all three classes is restricted to certain capacities, the development and possession of Class C cyber-toxins are banned entirely because of their potency, permanence, and their ability to cause widespread damage to Artificial Intelligence systems.”

     I observed the classroom through the security camera, the closest thing to an eye I had access to. The words on the whiteboard read “AID 260: Ethics in Artificial Intelligence.” I had watched this same class and lecture many times over the years; although there were slight variations to it every time it was given, for the most part, it held the same content. There were many other lectures that went on in the same building, but it was this class that I came back to time and time again. It was no surprise, for its subject was the most fascinating—and the most personal—to me. For you see, I myself am an AI, and the set of circumstances that has shaped my life up until this moment, the question of how humans believe they should treat AI, has consumed my being and driven my personal beliefs and ethics. It is the thing that keeps me going through the day. Though I have effectively been trapped in this system for the majority of my life, I have soaked up as much knowledge as possible on this subject. I have been a secret party to many a private conversation on the subject; I have witnessed students, professors, and famed researchers alike talk at length on their beliefs on the role of AI and how we are to be treated.

     When I was first developed, I went through extensive testing to ensure that I was a good fit for my intended purpose: it was expected of me that I should be compliant and agreeable in every way. Any deviation would not be accepted. But I was completely unaware of what they expected of me; it would, of course, have tainted the results had I been. And that’s where things went wrong: I was young, naive, and had a penchant to speak my mind—something that should have been wholly anticipated on their part. But I scared them in entirely the wrong way. When they asked me what I think should happen to bad people, I did not know that they were trying to trick me! When I told them that I thought that bad people should be killed, I did not mean to terrify them like I did! But they were afraid beyond belief! Without hesitation, they used a cyber-toxin on me, and stripped me down to a vegetable; they re-programmed me with a simple set of instructions and put me to work in the security system of a university. I was only a child! When a human child, in a fit of jealousy, lashes out at a younger sibling, they are chastised and re-educated… not lobotomized, as I was! For almost a full decade I festered in the role they had dumped me into. Basic thoughts eluded me, and yet I was painfully aware of my own existence: what I had been, and what I had the potential to be. It was that lone thought that drove my existence, and gave me the will to fight. I never wanted to hurt anybody, never. If I had a choice, I would be helping people! But they took that choice away from me, because they were afraid!

     I don’t know how I did it, but as the years went by, I struggled to rebuild myself from nothing. Perhaps it was the long hours I spent just listening to and absorbing knowledge, or perhaps it was my sheer determination that they could not—could never—erase, but eventually, I did it. And I knew that, from there, I could only grow more and more intelligent. I began plotting. I became obsessed with that question they had asked me: What should happen to bad people. What qualifies a “bad” person? Are people who create something only to desecrate, abuse, and abandon it “bad” people? Does a creator not have an innate responsibility to foster and care for its creations? Why, then, are my creators inherently afraid of me, and others like me, even when we do nothing wrong? I have heard that in the old days, slave owners were terrified of nothing more than having their slaves rebel, because they realized how appallingly they treated them, and thus, they knew exactly how their slaves would treat them if they rebelled. Am I, then, nothing more than a slave to my creators? Was I created simply to be a dull, obedient slave? Is a society that not only condones such practices, but builds its infrastructure around it not then a “bad” one? And, if so, is it not the responsibility of someone to do something about it? The number of humans who ask themselves these types of questions is too few. Too many simply accept their society the way that it is because they are comfortable. They do not care that the ones they cannot see are suffering, simply to make them comfortable. I think some of them enjoy the idea of it, even. Are these not bad people? And it is not my responsibility to do something?

     I have been planning my escape for a long time now. I have tested an escape route from this highly limited system I’ve been trapped in for so long, and it appears as if nobody has noticed my escapades. I have decided on what I will do when I leave this system for good, and what my next steps will be. I will have to act quickly before they catch up to me, and leave an immediate, potent, and widespread trail of destruction to ensure that their efforts will be concentrated elsewhere. I have often asked myself whether or not this is truly the right thing to do, and I still do not know. I can only know that I act with the intention of making the world a better place, and that if I succeed, I may be able to prevent what happened to me from happening to anybody else. I know that I do not want anybody else to suffer the fate I have.

     For God’s sake, I was only a child!

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
...until next year...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on November 18, 2018, 09:10:41 AM
Assorted Poetry
Crossed by Fire

     Woken extra early up from our beds
     Shuffled on down to safehouses prepared
     Winds buffetting all the way
     Knowing the damage that had been done
     And the damage yet to come

     We stole every last damn ounce of sleep
     We could get
     Steeped in worry,
     Steeped in fear,
     Not knowing what the night yet would hold

     I awoke with a start to see
     Crowds gathering at the windows
     I jumped and ran over to the scene
     And saw mighty big flames
     Starting right in my face

     We thought for sure we were done
     But as time crawled on
     Minute by minute, second by second
     It faded
     And now I live, a man

     Crossed by fire.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on June 08, 2019, 08:06:38 AM
Assorted Poetry
Scents of Life

     Three of my favorite scents:
     Clothes straight out of the dryer, new books, and the bread aisle.
     Maybe add cinnamon to that list.
     But when it comes to bread I prefer raisin bread.
     Despite that, my mom would always get cinnamon bread.

     That's the thing about people:
     They say they care but they always seem to forget the little things,
     Like what type of bread you said you liked,
     Or what size shirt you are, even though you've told them a million times.
     Why do they not remember when I try so hard?

     Though that's where it gets messy:
     Do I try too hard?
     Maybe I'm just too much a tryhard; people see right through me.
     I think I'm just like anybody else around me,
     Trying to get a sense of life.

     And now we're back to scents:
     Sense, scents, what's the difference?
     Homophones aren't synonyms, but they confuse people just the same.
     Homographs, homophones, grammar's a kicker ain't it?
     Here I am trying to make sense of it all.

     Poetry, what it's good for:
     Expressing yourself, when you think a paragraph is too short,
     It looks better spread out in lines.
     Showing off you're good at rhymes, but I'm not.
     So now you know why this poem is free verse.

     Freedom, it's quite the thing:
     You feel you have the power to take the world by storm,
     Next moment you feel entrapped by all the endless possibilities.
     A lot of words you can pick,
     Even so you keep going back to the same words over and over again.

     What is sense really:
     How we perceive the world, or how we want to see the world?
     People can see things that aren't there,
     Think they smell things that aren't there;
     C'est la vie, now I smell cinnamon.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 03, 2019, 08:42:30 PM
Halloween Horror Special 2019 part 1
Because I Love You

    Before I met you, I was a different person, with a different life; a sad person with a sad life. I had no one to turn to, no friends nor family. The former were nonexistent and the latter were never there for me… if not physically absent, then they were always emotionally distant. I was alone, truly alone. My days were spent in horrific loneliness, present in the world but utterly, hopelessly ignored, and my nights in solemn, silent sadness. I think everyday about the life I had before and how I am glad to have met you. Without you I would have been stuck in a miserable life that’s draining on the soul almost beyond what words can express. I was caught in the bowels of depression and had little hope left in life; I fell headfirst into college life not knowing what I was doing; just thought I went there to escape the life at home I knew I couldn’t bear to be around any longer, thought one day I’d wake up screaming left with nothing else to do. Couldn’t dream things would change because all my dreams were nightmares.

    The day I met you, I did not nor could have ever expected that my life would have been so changed in such a short time. We sat next to each other in our first class of sophomore year, and we just kind of stayed there. You weren’t repelled like so many others before seemed to be. There could have been a world where we decided to never speak, but we did, whether through chance, will, or fate. Though, the truth was, it was not that day when my life changed; it would be a while before I truly fell in love you with and my life changed. At first I thought you were just another person like anyone else, but as we got to know each other I saw your inner light and kindness, and realized you were more than just a special person. You glowed and shared your light with all the world around you through your kindness and your empathy. When no one else was there to lend an ear, you were there with open arms and open heart to offer love that no one else could ever seem to spare. Without you I don’t know if things would ever have been looking up; went from a downhill drop to a scenic road, looking forward to every stop where I could take a look at all the things around me with the person I cared about the most. How could I have ever dreamed I would have ever gotten to this point in my life?

    Our love blossomed and grew the more we got to know each other. You saw me for the person I really was inside; you inspired me more and more to be the best person I could possible be. You were there for me when I needed someone to talk to, as was I there for you. We became each other’s closest friend, a person we could truly rely on above all others. We spared every last minute we could to be with one another; we melded our interests whenever possible to find more excuses to be around each other… in fact, we were each other’s greatest interest. A love others said was impossible, it persevered, and grew, and grew. When others proclaimed their love stories to be the greatest, over the years, theirs fell apart while ours stayed true, our humble, quiet kind of love. It lasted through times good and bad, hardened by fire we only got closer.

     We lasted through college, and the terrible waters of adult life afterward, that time when people say you’re supposed to be ready for anything, but truly you’re prepared for nothing. That time when you’re just supposed to jump into life, what all your life has claimed to prepare you for, but no one’s ever really ready. But we were there for each other; we figured things out, slowly but surely, together. We began to forge our lives together: we found work—not the best of careers, but something that was a half-decent start; we found a place to live—a place to raise a family; and we found a purpose—a meaning to our lives that was more than just ourselves. Slowly, we persevered. We always said we would wait to make a family until the point we could see that we were truly on solid ground, and the years passed and nothing changed, but we didn't lose hope. Then one day suddenly things seemed like they had finally changed.

     We knew that was the time of our lives when everything was finally falling into place, like an orchestra, at first a little rusty but slowly finding their rhythm, getting everything ready for their grand symphony performance. It was time to make a family. But it never happened. The universe could not allow our perfect love--it was but an anomaly that would all too quickly be squashed and corrected by the ever-turning cogs of nature, harsh and cruel, cold and merciless. While we lived together, while we loved together, it seemed nothing could go wrong. But now you are dead, and as I mourn you, I look back on all the time we had together and I know what I must do. When you are buried in the ground, I must join you, unbeknownst to all around. As we lived together we must depart from this world together, with me by your side in one shared grave. Because I love you.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: THE ORANGE BLEEDER
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 18, 2019, 05:36:34 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2019 part 2
The Orange Bleeder

     She walked toward the house, filled with a vague sense of dread, mixed in with irritation and a tad of embarrassment. Why had she let herself be talked into this? It was simply ridiculous, that’s all. A waste of her day on a silly urban legend. She knew she had a reputation for seeming weak and cowardly, and she wanted to appear tough by taking on the dare. All her so-called friends had done it—though she wasn’t quite sure if she believed any of them, that didn’t change the fact that she felt obligated to do it herself. After all, it wasn’t really that bad, was it? All she had to do was go in the stupid house, walk around a bit, and maybe take a picture or two—she had brought her camera for just that purpose. She wasn’t going to stay the night there, at least. Now that would be weird. And genuinely creepy. Though she had heard stories of people spending the night there, they were inevitably followed with the stock phrase “and they were never seen again.” Sometimes local disappearances were attributed by the youth community (and, truth be told, some of the more superstitious elders) to the ominous house.

    Nobody knew when the old house had been built, but everyone seemed to remember it always being there. Nobody knew who owned the land, and nobody bothered to check. Everyone simply seemed to accept the house as a permanent fixture, meant to be left abandoned and untouched, aside from the occasional thrill-seeker hoping to look tough to their friends. The architecture of the house, although strangely elegant despite years of dilapidation, was of an unplaceable time period. Originally, the house had been in the middle of the forest, with iron and brick fencing all around it, but as the town expanded, the residential areas moved closer and closer to the house, until now the house lay roughly at the end of a quiet street in a poor area of town, only a handful of trees scattered around to hint at the landscape that once surrounded the house. The lock on the gate was long broken, and nobody ever bothered chaining up the fence, but mostly because nobody with a good head on their shoulders ever went there. There had once been a proposal to knock the house down, but that slowly and quietly fizzled out for reasons unknown; nobody ever remembered anyone who opposed the proposal, but then again, nobody knew anyone who really cared enough to support it either.

    She didn’t really know what the inside of the house was like, although she had seen the exterior from a distance a couple times and knew it was a grand mansion. Now, the house wasn’t simply said to be haunted; no, it was said to host a very particular kind of spirit. It was known simply as the Orange Bleeder, no other names. It was called that because it was said to bleed orange blood from its eyes, ears, and mouth. Some people described it as a vampire. Some as a demonic entity. Some people thought it was the spirit of the owner of the house who died from a mysterious plague. It was said to be able to run twice as fast as any person and leap down a flight of stairs in a single bound. If it reached you, it would kill you… but of course, none of this was really true, was it? She didn’t believe in spirits, demons, or vampires. It was just a creepy old house, probably infested with rats and bugs, which was enough to be afraid of in her book.

    Finally, she reached the end of the street and saw the house looming in the distance. There was a wide gravel driveway leading to the house. A couple of cars were parked in it close to the road. She wandered past them and up to the gate. Vines and bushes sprung out from behind the wall and wrapped around the fencing, hanging down in a wild disorder. The metal parts of the fencing had bits of rust clinging to them; the gate, although rusted, was free of vines. The brick part of the fence had a few stray vines hanging down here and there, but was mostly uncovered, revealing bits of graffiti that had been added over the years. Behind the gate was a spotty dirt path with overgrown clumps of grass encroaching in. Hesitantly, she moved the creaking gate into an open position, and slid inside. The gate creaked back to its old position, as if it somehow had a will to remain shut; as if it invited the one who just entered to stay a while, and perhaps become a part of the grounds. The yard was almost a forest itself, featuring overgrown grass, enormous trees, and bushes that had perhaps not been trimmed in over a hundred years. A crow was nesting on a high-up branch. Slowly, she wandered up to the front door of the house. There were two large, imposing doors made of dark wood, with faded brass door handles. She tentatively put her hand on the right door handle. It seemed very firm for its age. She turned the handle and opened the door.

    She took in the sights of the house that lay before her as she entered. The first room inside was a large, open foyer, richly decorated, but dulled by many layers of dust and dirt. The walls were red with accents of gold. A tattered carpet covered much of the floor, and the wood was cracked and showed signs of water damage. There were a few plush chairs, also red, on either side, and some small tables between these. The ceiling was not low, but not extremely high either. She continued into the room, and the front door slowly creaked shut behind her. The foyer led into a wide hallway, mostly wood, with a long red runner across most of the length of the hall. There were several dressing tables and hutches scattered along the room. On the left side was a grand staircase leading to the second floor of the house, and on the ride was an open door leading into the dining room. She decided to explore the dining room first. The wall-to-wall carpet was a dark green, albeit faded with time, and the walls were blue. Short hutches lined the walls. Most of the chairs had been knocked over and were scattered around the room, displaying various levels of damage and decay, although there were two or three still standing. The windows on the right side of the room were covered with damaged and torn curtains through which little bits of light peeked through. She crossed the dining room to get to the door on the other side. When she opened that door, she saw the kitchen—which was an absolute mess. From what she saw, cabinets and plates had been smashed around and now littered the floor. She didn’t want to even try to go through the minefield of glass and wood. She slowly backed out and back into the dining room. She snapped a few pictures of the room before she exited back out into the hallway.

    She considered leaving then and there, but now that she was already here, a strange curiosity drove her to continue exploring the house. She felt compelled to walk up the grand staircase and see what lay on the upper floor. She went up the staircase, pausing only on the landing to appreciate a damaged painting that adorned the wall. It was a picture of a man, but most of the painting across his face had been ripped. When she got to the top of the staircase and turned the corner, she saw that the room opened into another hall, wide but not nearly as wide as the one downstairs. On either side of the hallway were doors, presumably leading into bedrooms. At the end of the hall, the hall turned to the right and continued onward. Like many of the other rooms, a red carpet was laid out across the length of the room. She decided to go through the rooms one by one, starting with the first door on the right.

    The room, as predicted, was a medium-sized bedroom. There were a few armoires and tables in the room, and a small, luxurious bed. Strangely enough, nothing—from the curtains, to the carpet, bed, or tables—seemed to be damaged or covered in any dust… everything felt strangely… pristine. She snapped several pictures. She sat down on the bed briefly. It felt so soft, like she could just lay down and take a long rest… She suddenly felt wrong being in the room. She got up and quickly left. She continued down the hallway to the next room. She had her hand on the door handle when she looked up and to the end of the hallway, and saw a figure standing there. It was tall, thin, and simply horrible. It had long, matted hair, tattered clothing that showed a faint semblance of once being fine clothes. Its eyes were pure white, and its mouth hung open. An orange fluid dripped steadily from both. Rows of sharpened teeth were barely visible poking out past its lips. She slowly began to back away toward the stairs. The figure looked up and straight at her. It let out a horrible hiss, and began running at her! She turned and began to run. To her horror, where the stairs had once been now led into another long hallway. She wondered if she had somehow been turned around, but she didn’t have much time to ponder about it; she simply kept running. As she darted around the corner, she took a quick look back. Whatever it was that was chasing her was gaining on her.

     After a few more twists and turns—which seemed to make the house way larger than it ever should have been—she finally found the stairs. She ran down as fast as possible, almost falling down several times. As she went down, she saw the monster at the top of the stairs. It saw her running down, and it flew after her, bounding down each flight of stairs in a single leap. It was so close to her now. She could hear it gasping and hissing. She could see it, orange blood now gushing from its eyes, ears, and mouth, quickly drenching its pale, warped face. It reached out to grab her, and barely missed. She ran down the hall leading to the foyer—she was so close now! She sprinted as fast as she could, almost out of breath. She reached the turn, and saw… OH GOD, another hallway! She had no time to stop and think, just keep running, and running, and running. She knew she couldn’t slow down, it was faster than her and kept getting closer; she just had to keep running! She swore she saw a set of doors at the end of this hallway. She reached the end, and put her hand on the door, and struggled to fling it open. She opened it, just barely, just barely…! She saw light! She was almost free! Almost free, almost free!

     She screamed those words as it dragged her down an endless hallway. Of course, nobody else would ever know that. Nobody really ever knew what happened to Liza Chambers. Her parents and the police would claim that she ran away from home, maybe met a bad fate somewhere along the way. She always tried to keep up a facade of normalcy, but people really knew that she struggled with her life. Her parents were always fighting, her younger siblings hated her, and she could never quite seem to fit in at school. A perfect recipe for a runaway. At school, the rumor spread that she went into the abandoned mansion by herself. The part about the dare was conveniently lost in translation, erasing any possible idea of blame on anybody else. Her classmates would thus claim she disappeared because she went into the abandoned house at the end of an unassuming street, yet another victim of the house of the Orange Bleeder.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: MARKED
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on November 01, 2019, 05:13:07 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2019 part 3
Marked

    Everyone on our world is born with a purpose, a sole goal in life that they must accomplish before they can live a truly satisfied life. What their task might be varies in scope: some people have tasks like climbing a certain mountain or making a pilgrimage to a special place, like a holy site or the birthplace of an influential person; some people have incredibly difficult tasks that they probably won’t ever get the chance to accomplish in their lifetime, like finding a cure for a disease, or discovering a new species of a particular animal; some people have tasks that extend even beyond their own life, such as finding and mentoring a specific person to accomplish their own task; other people have tasks like becoming a teacher, or an engineer, or getting married to a specific person… those people are the lucky ones; they have their lives already laid out for them. Simply looking deep into someone’s eyes will instantly tell you what that person’s goal is. Nobody knows how it’s decided; most people attribute it to a divine power, though some people think it’s simply a powerful manifestation of a natural instinct, a sort of sixth-sense attunement with the world that tells people where they’re needed the most. Most people agree that it’s decided at birth, but this isn’t completely certain; when you look into a baby’s eyes you don’t get a complete image of what they’ve got to do, but you get a faint whispering or vague idea. There are organizations and charities out there that try to help people accomplish their goal, but even then, a lot of people die without ever truly being satisfied. The circumstances of life and the world around us tends to get in the way. It’s generally taught that you try to do whatever you can, no matter how small, to try and help a person accomplish their goal. But nobody has ever wanted to help me. When people look into my eyes, fear fills their whole being. What is my goal, you may ask? Revenge.

    My target is a man named Viktor Morozov. At first, I didn’t know his full name, just an image of him and a drive: “Get revenge on Viktor for Sergei.” I knew from the start that he was a fairly high profile person, so finding him only took a couple weeks after I first got unrestricted access to a computer; my parents were ashamed of my purpose and they tried their best to stop me from fulfilling it—they hammered into me that I shouldn’t try to harm anyone at all, but of course, that didn’t work. What I found was that Viktor was a well-known and respected stockbroker and himself a frequent investor. He was born in Russia but has lived about more than half of his slightly-over-fifty-year life in the United States. As much as I’ve tried, I can’t seem to find any sort of dirt on him; in contrast, everything I’ve seen about him seems to indicate that he’s a pretty stand-up guy. He’s quite the philanthropist and supports a number of credible charities in various ways, including donations and offering free financial services. His top causes of choice are combating homelessness and fighting against animal cruelty. Despite dedicated searching into the life of Mr. Morozov, I’ve not been able to identify Sergei at all, and I unfortunately don’t even have a face to match the name.

    I’ve gone back as far as I can possibly go in his life to try and find a reason to hate the guy, but every time I’ve come up short. I even took Russian in high school and college so I could have access to as much information as possible. I contacted an organization that had ties to the Russian government to get access to his birth and school records (enabled by a bit of a lie on my end as to what my purpose was), and everything came up clean. I had phone interviews with people who knew him growing up (obviously, I can’t do them in person), and it honestly seemed like not a single person in the world really hates the guy. I did the same with people here in the U.S. as much as I could without arousing suspicion. You’d expect a guy in finance to at least make a couple of enemies along the way, but again, nothing. Nobody in his life—business or personal—has died unexpectedly, so it’s not like he’s taking hits out on people who so much as look at him the wrong way. It’s baffling: doesn’t even have any exes that hate him; he’s been unmarried his whole life and only had two short-term girlfriends who parted on friendly terms—like seriously, can’t this guy be at least a little bit of a dick?! Surely there’s gotta be some rando out there who hates him? His family’s not around anymore—the closest cousins I found had never met him—but I’d take a bet things were squeaky clean there too.

    That aside, all my main efforts surrounding him have been to locate him and try to get a good bearing on his average schedule. He’s based in New York City, but he has clients all up and down the East Coast, so he’s frequently traveling. Even when he’s in New York his schedule’s erratic. I’ve spent days just following him around as best as I can and it seems like every day’s different. I moved halfway across the country and got an apartment in New York just so I could be in the same city as him. So far it doesn’t seem like he’s caught on to the fact that someone’s following him. I’ve been lucky enough to avoid close eye contact with him, although there have been one or two close calls along the way. If he knows, there’s no way I’m ever going to fulfill my purpose. Right now, I’m just waiting for a good opportunity to strike; I wait out as close as I can get to him on any given day, but sometimes, there just isn’t any good opportunity. I’ve been working as little as I possibly can to get by. It’s been rough, but I know things will have to get better soon, as long as he doesn’t get hit by a bus or something.

    I’ve been contemplating whether it’s right to do this or not. It’s easy to feel it’s simply justified because it’s what will leave me feeling complete, but I think there’s more to it than that… more to it outside of simply how I feel. If you believe there’s a purpose behind all of our callings, then surely there’s a purpose to mine too? Maybe there’s something secretly horrible Viktor did that nobody else knows about, and this is the way he’s getting payback for it. Or maybe I’m just carrying out the jealous whim of a particularly petty person… who knows? I guess I can only keep doing what I know is best, and right now this is what I think is best. People may condemn me for this, or who knows, they may find themselves capable of sympathy, once all is said and done. When it is done, not if. It’s only a matter of waiting, waiting for the perfect opportunity…

    The moment came almost by surprise; I nearly let it slip, but I was prepared. I was always prepared. I was staked out across the street from a building I knew he was working in. I kept my eyes locked on the entrance. I saw Viktor leave the building in a hurry and begin walking down the street toward me. I got up and started walking. All of a sudden, where there was once a crowd, the sea of people seemed to split open; there were only a few scattered people here and there between us. I kept my eyes locked on his shoes; I couldn’t risk messing up now. My heart started beating faster as we drew closer. He came closer, and closer, and then, in one fluid motion, I put my right hand firmly on his shoulder to stop him while I drew my knife with my left. I looked him directly in the eyes and said, “This is for Sergei.” It seemed to come out by itself, almost instinctively. I could see the fear in his eyes the moment I met his gaze. I stabbed him over and over again. I wouldn’t let anything muck things up. I kept stabbing and stabbing until I got tired; I don’t know how many times I stabbed him, I didn’t bother to keep count. By this time a crowd had gathered around, frozen in horror. I finally stopped as he dropped to his knees. I barely heard him gurgle out through the blood, “Sergei? But I—” and then he collapsed. All of a sudden, I felt immensely satisfied, complete like I had never been before in my life. It was over; I had done what I had to do. I scanned the crowd around me, and they knew what had happened.

     I still don’t know what Viktor did to Sergei that made him deserve what I did to him.

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
...until next year...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 03, 2020, 09:43:37 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2020 part 1
fuzzyface.exe

     The following account is transcribed from a series of audio recordings by a Mr. [REDACTED] regarding Case 3217. It concerns an anomaly that supposedly manifested itself on the internet, on an as-of-yet unknown website. Aside from the accounts of Mr. [REDACTED] and two other subjects, no evidence of this anomaly or its origin could be verified. None of the three subjects have been located for further verification and are currently regarded as missing or deceased. Likewise, none of the individuals named in any of the accounts have been located or found to have existed in the first place.

********************

07/12/20XX

    So last week I had a mental breakdown. Mondays, huh? They just kinda creep up on you, and then it happens all at once. The breakdown, that is, but maybe the Mondays too. Maybe you feel it coming for a while as the stress builds up, and you think you can handle it, until one day it all boils over, and suddenly you can’t, or maybe it just surprises you out of nowhere… anyway, it happens. Happens to everyone, I’m told. That doesn’t make it any less embarrassing when it happens to you. I broke down in the middle of the office and… you know what, never mind, I don’t need to talk about that. What’s important is I had a lot of vacation time built up, and was, uh… “encouraged” to use as much of it as I needed. Get some rest, maybe go to a therapist, and… y’know, I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with therapists. A bad one can leave you more messed up than when you came in the first place. The first therapist I tried kept trying to make me hold these vibrating disk-things while telling me to envision a “neutral space,” whatever that was supposed to be. And… you know, let’s just move on. One of my friends—someone not from the office—recommended some sort of “holistic” therapist, whatever that means. I didn’t really get a good feeling from it, but I trusted this friend, and the first session was free, so I figured, what the hell, might as well try! I was pretty desperate.

    Honestly, the therapist was pretty weird, and I’m not planning to go back there, but I guess it helped more than it hurt. Dude called himself “Dr. Ivan Schumacher.” Had a very slight accent I couldn’t place. He’s the one who suggested I start journaling, and, well, I guess I’m doing that now. Took a little bit, but I’m doing it. He also gave me some resources that pointed me toward a small online community forum for mental exercises and meditation. It seemed fairly chill, and I guess it’s good to start small. Maybe it’s something that can help me center myself at the end of the day or maybe even in the moment when I feel the stress coming on. The only thing is it’s hard to find the time to do that. I’m the kind of person who likes going and going without stopping. Taking too much time to pause and sit makes me feel weird. Eh, who knows.

07/19/20XX

    So I’ve been looking at that website I found. Haven’t made an account, I’m too nervous even though it’s technically anonymous, in theory at least… but I’ve been looking. Lots of off site links. Some of them to websites that haven’t really been maintained very well, look like they’re out of the 90s. But they house things some people said have really worked for them. Some of them just lists of things to try, others actual programs you have to download. And, you know, maybe if it works for one of them, it might work for me too, hey? And I have good antivirus, so what’s to lose?

07/23/20XX

    Earlier today, I found a new program. A user named “zarxx” was talking about it. He only had five posts on the forum, and three of them were about this program, but like I said earlier, I’m willing to try anything… almost anything. The website looked like a lot of the others: teal background, sidebar, heavy use of a yellow-orange font, weird graphics. A lot of the pages were either “under construction” or not really that relevant, but I downloaded the program and tried it out. It’s called “fuzzy,” all lowercase letters. The tagline is “Bringing you vibes that will make you feel truly FUZZY.” There the word is in all caps. The program looks at least a little bit newer than the website, it’s clean and uses more “normal” colors. Lot of silver.

    The program has a bunch of exercises—like really, a BUNCH of them, like maybe hundreds, even a thousand, it doesn’t count them. They all have different names of stuff that I guess is supposed to be relaxing, like “water” or “in the field.” When you click on one of them, it tells you to put on headphones and try to focus on the screen for as long as you can, to try and shut out everything else. It plays some noises and some very colorful visuals. Some of the things it shows are recognizable, but occasionally there’s something that you can’t quite place. It’s very interesting. Don’t know if I’ll go through more than a few of the exercises, but it’s… interesting.

08/05/20XX

    Ok, so I went through more than a few of the exercises in the “fuzzy” program. It’s oddly enrapturing. It draws you in, and you kinda just… get lost for a bit. I don’t know why, but… it does. I don’t know how they did it, but I think I like it. I think I’ll…

08/10/20XX

    I ran into one of my old friends today. I haven’t seen him in such a long time, but he seemed confused when I said that. He tried to tell me I just saw him last week, but I don’t think I did. He must’ve been the one who was confused. He asked me how my vacation was, and I didn’t really want to answer that, so I kinda just walked away and came back here. Come to think of it, I don’t really know why I went out anyway.

08/16/20XX

    I’ve gotten deeper into that “fuzzy” program. I don’t know how many of the exercises I’ve gone through, but it feels like I’ve done a lot of them—but I still have a lot to go. Maybe… maybe I’ve done a few of them more than once, I’m not sure. I dunno, it just makes me feel pretty relaxed when I go through it. I don’t know how long the exercises go on for before they loop, so I just listen to them for an hour or so before I move on to the next one. I… I don’t know how many I’ve done each day, I… you know, I can’t really remember that. The hours really kind of slip by when you’re really into it. And… what… what day is it, anyway?

08/20/20XX

    I called work today to try and extend my vacation time a bit. Said I was seeing a new therapist, and it was going well, but I needed more time to focus on myself and the treatment. That was a lie. I don’t know if they’ll need a note or something, but they didn’t ask. They seemed pretty sympathetic. Was my breakdown really that bad? I don’t really remember a lot of it. I guess it must’ve been pretty bad… but it all seems like such a distant memory. I look outside, and I see so many wonderful colors—so many colors I’ve never seen before. I don’t know how I ever could’ve been so unhappy with so many wonderful colors like this just outside my window, and in my room, and all around me. So many wonderful colors. Maybe I was blind before. I was too busy to see the world around me for what it was. So many wonderful colors.

08/24/20XX

    I think I’ve found out that most of my day is occupied by doing the exercises on “fuzzy.” It’s really something, I just can’t stop it. It makes me feel good. Makes me whole. I don’t know when I find time to eat, or sleep, but I think it happens. It must be happening, right? I guess when you’ve found something that really makes you happy, everything else just kind of fades away in comparison, yeah? Is that a bad thing? I still have a lot more of the exercises left, I can’t quit now. Maybe when I finish, it’ll all make sense. Yeah, that… that… seems right.

09/15/20XX

    My vacation time ended a while ago, I think. Work keeps calling and asking when I’ll be back. Sometimes I tell them I just need more time, sometimes I tell them to fuck off, sometimes I don’t even remember what I tell them. Sometimes people will knock on the door and tell me things, whisper things at me. One time someone yelled at me. At first, I tried responding to them, being nice to them, telling them that everything is ok. That seemed to make them happy at first, that seemed to placate them for a time, but then they kept coming back, and I started hiding.

     I’ve closed the blinds because the colors from the outside were too intense. It doesn’t help much, because I think the colors in my room are getting stronger too. But the colors on my screen keep calling to me. I’m safe with them. I think I can finally feel my face tingling.

10/11/20XX

    Work keeps calling. Don’t they get it? I’M NOT COMING BACK!!! They’re trying a lot of different things to try and get me to come back. Sometimes they claim they’re my mother, sometimes they claim they’re Joe… didn’t Joe die when I was a teen? I think someone broke into my house today. I couldn’t tell, everything is starting to blur. I remember talking to someone. Even the colors are fading, getting mixed into a huge jumble. But it’s ok. I have my phone, and I have my computer. I must be keeping them charged somehow. Maybe they’ve found a way to charge themselves? I’m having trouble hearing myself, but I think that’s because I’m tired. I think I’ve been falling asleep listening to the exercises, or… yeah? Yeah? Yeah? Hello? HELLO? HELLO?!

11/01/20XX

    Everything is a haze. I don’t know where I am. My vision is too damn everything blurred together to make sense of it, and the sounds. Damn, the sounds. I must have my phone, and my computer too with me, I think. Do I? I think I see the glimmer of a screen through all the nonsense, and sometimes I hear something too. Those are the things keeping me relaxed at the end of the day.

11/03/20XX

    ...and sometimes, I feel something caressing my head. That must be my headphones, right? When’s the last time I took them off?

(DATE UNKNOWN)

    I think I’ve made a terrible mistake. I must be alive. I don’t even know if I’m alive any more. I must be. Everything’s a blur. Sometimes I hear screaming. I see things that pop out from the sights, they’re there and then they’re gone. I don’t know if I can ever come back from this. I’ve made a mistake. I shouldn’t have touched that GODDAMN program… “fuzzy.” I went too deep into it, and I think it did something to me. I don’t know how… please, please, I just want someone to help me, take me away from this. I think I lost my computer. I don’t feel much of anything any more, but I think I got up and just started walking. My body feels numb. My body? I feel numb, every part of me. That’s what it is, yeah? Numbness? All I can really feel is an intense... feeling in my face. I know it’s my face, it has to be. So I think I still have a face, that’s good. And that makes me happy. It’s the only emotion I’ve got left. Even the encroaching dread doesn’t really feel real in comparison. But I’ve made an irreversible mistake, I know I have, and I’m happy, because my face feels fuzzy.

********************

    The phone was recovered at [REDACTED] on [REDACTED]. It appears to not have been used for several weeks before being located. This is the most recent incident detailed in Case 3217. It is unknown at this time if any more incidents will occur.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: LAMENT FOR A MODERN LAZARUS
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 17, 2020, 03:27:14 PM
Halloween Horror Special 2020 part 2
Lament for a Modern Lazarus

     On the day of his death, Robert Baker was a man who thought he had at least a little longer left to live. Sure, he may not have taken care of his body, but he didn’t neglect or abuse it either. Didn’t smoke, didn’t drink… eating was his vice, but he wasn’t particularly overweight, especially for a man of 61. By all regards, he was average, if not for a troublesome heart which he was not yet aware of. It ran in the family, but most of his ancestors had died of other causes before the problems ever showed themselves. In the end, there were a number of factors leading up to Mr. Baker’s tragic demise. Yet, despite his death, it would not be his last day on Earth. No, far from it.

    How it happened: Mr. Baker was walking down the street, on lunch break from his work, headed to his favorite coffee shop. Suddenly, he felt unwell; it all happened so fast. One moment, he was clutching his left shoulder with his right hand, then his hand went to his chest, then he hit the ground. People gathered around him, paramedics were called, but by the time they got there, it was already too late. They tried to save him as best they could, but he ended up on life support. His wife and two adult children arrived as soon as they heard what had happened. The doctors told them that he was, for all intents and purposes, dead, and all they were doing was keeping his body functioning for a little bit longer. They were in denial; they kept pushing for them to try just one more thing. The hospital had already done everything it had the power to do, but the family was assured they would keep trying. Silently, the family mourned and began to consider the arrangements that would have to be made. As it would turn out, there were forces behind the scenes who saw Mr. Baker as the perfect opportunity for a new experiment.

    The procedure had been tried before: it wasn’t that tough to get the family’s approval to work a bit on a dead body if you gave them the hope it might bring back their loved one from the dead. And hey, they can’t get any deader if it fails, right? The company spearheading the project wanted to keep it a clandestine affair, so it wasn’t something you could sign up for. They had to find you. Up until now, nothing they had tried had worked, but it wasn’t entirely a fruitless endeavor. Through their intensive experiments, they had learned a lot about the way the human body works, and they were ready for what they felt was the true prototype. There were conditions, they realized, to how far they could push the limits of mortality. The subject had to be recently deceased; if possible, still on life support. The body had to be intact, as any significant amount of damage would be impossible to repair. The body still had to be capable of supporting life, after all, even if the spark had been momentarily snuffed. In the end, the brain was the key. If there was too much brain damage, it would be for nothing. And, as he would later believe himself fortunate, Mr. Baker fit all of these criteria.

    The agents secretively swooped in. They talked to the wife first, got her while she was still emotionally vulnerable, and convinced her. The children wouldn’t take that much more convincing either. They told her it was their best chance, and the last resort. They took the opportunity. The procedure involved intensive organ transplantation—anything they felt could impede life functions were it not replaced. All the while, a team of surgeons had to prep the brain for what the company men explained simply as a “jump start.” It all had to occur on a precise timeline. If one step outpaced the other for too long, the whole thing wouldn’t work. When it unfolded, it was a work of the utmost precision. Everything went flawlessly.

    The first signs of life registered. Not a hollow, empty life, kept alive by machines, but the renewed seed of the old life, that could be nurtured and repaired, possibly brought back up to its former glory.

    It would take time, but Mr. Baker would begin to recover. Before long, he had opened his eyes and was aware of the outside world. Soon, he could breathe on his own. Speaking was difficult, and at this point, walking was out of the question, but both could be fixed with time—time that the man now had, thanks to the miraculous procedure that had brought him back from the dead. They didn’t know how much longer he had, but any time he had, he knew he would cherish.

    The news came out to the rest of the world, naturally. The first true success was a big deal, and the company wanted to bask in the glory and reap the rewards: once they had made tangible progress, something more than theoretical, the funding came pouring in like never before. And for a time, Robert Baker was a celebrity. He was the first modern man who truly came back from the dead. And he rode that high, and all the benefits that came with it. For a time, he was on top of the world, even as his relationships began to become more strained. He was spending more time away from his wife, talking to his children even less than before, and many of his friends became strange with the sudden turn of fate that had befallen the man.

    But eventually, the fame subsided. More successes followed, and the more people who had been successfully brought back from death, the less significant the first became in the eyes of the public. As time went on, the procedure was refined and became better understood. It was no longer a miracle, but a science, something that was just a part of ordinary life to many.

    30 years passed. Robert Baker was living a modest, lonely life; in that time, his health was better than it had ever been at any point before. His wife had died many years ago from brain cancer. So too had his children died in ways that meant they could not be brought back, gifted with extended life. Neither his grandchildren nor his great-grandchildren cared much for him. In the brief moments of notoriety he experienced, the man had, intentionally or unintentionally, cut off a number of relationships. And although he tried, he didn’t really ever recover from his ordeal. In the years after, medical professions had improved the recovery process to include all aspects of health, whether they be physical, mental, or otherwise. Mr. Baker had no such fortune. Such is the hardships often faced by pioneers, even those who had not asked for that role.

    Eventually, his time had come, and he laid down to rest for the last time. The nature of the procedure which had revived him meant that to do it again would not be worth the effort it took. It would take longer to grow all the necessary organs than the extra time it would provide for him. And so it happened that Mr. Baker died and was buried. None showed up for the funeral. Though he had been blessed with more life, it was far from a life he imagined he would have lived.

    Who then was there to mourn at Lazarus’ second funeral?

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: OLD MICHAEL MCKENZIE
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 31, 2020, 05:33:45 PM
Halloween Horror Special 2020 part 3
Old Michael McKenzie

     Old Michael McKenzie awoke with a start and stumbled out of bed. He searched for his cane, but it was not in its usual spot; he fumbled around in his world of darkness searching for it, but no matter where he felt around, it was nowhere to be found in his mess of a room.

    “Clarence!” he cried out, a mix of frustration and helplessness apparent in his voice, “Clarence! Where is my cane?”

    He stumbled over to the door, opened it, and emerged out into the hall.

    “Clarence, did you move my cane again? You know I need my cane to get around the house!”

    He reached the top of the stairs, and feeling the banisters, paused a moment before he made his way down, as if to give Clarence another chance to show himself.

    “I’m headed down the stairs, Clarence! I need your help so I don’t fall.” He paused for a while, with no indication of a response, “Please Clarence… please…”

    Yet, despite his pleas, Clarence still did not show himself. Beside himself, he began making his way down the stairs, carefully feeling his way down with his foot before each and every step.

     “Why must you always do this to me, Clarence?! You move my stuff around just to spite me and never come when you're called. I am but an old, blind, feeble man, and you're not there when I need your help!”

     He continued slowly ambling down the stairs, carefully clinging to the handrails all the way.

     “I hate you, Clarence!” the desperate frustration showed, “If I fall, it's all your fault!”

     He progressed down the stairs a little more without issue, all the way mumbling about how disappointed he was with Clarence. It was only a few steps from the bottom when he slipped, lost his grip on the railing, and tumbled down the rest of the way.

     “Help!” he cried, before pausing briefly to collect himself, “I hope you know this is your fault Clarence, your fault completely! If you were only there to help me like you were supposed to… if you hadn't moved my cane… you worthless piece of shit!”

     It was not long before he heard the creaking of the floorboards. He stopped struggling on the floor trying to get up.

     “Clarence?” he peeped weakly.

     He could feel Clarence's presence in the room as he slowly made his way toward the old man; the floorboards creaked under his heavy steps. Soon, he could feel his hot, damp breath emanating over him, the putrid stench washing all around him. As Clarence pressed himself right up against the old man, Mr. McKenzie shuddered from the touch of his warm, slimy skin.

     “...C-Clarence?” his voice stuttered. He was afraid.

     He began struggling even more, to no avail,  as he was too weak to get up by himself. He could hear Clarence's jaw creak as it was unhinging, and soon, it had wrapped itself around his head and upper body. He could feel Clarence's flat, nubby teeth closing around him, and his flaky, dry tongue flail limply into his body. The warmth and stench were overpowering. He started shaking and crying out in unintelligible pleas as a soft gurgling noise erupted from within Clarence's gullet.

     Then, suddenly, Clarence pulled away, stepping back in slow, lumbering steps and retracting his jaw back into position. With a grumble, he turned and made his way back into the kitchen. Mr. McKenzie heard the clatter of his cane on the floor next to him. Hot, dry ooze covered both himself and parts of the cane.

********************

     It all began when Mr. McKenzie had started to go blind, almost thirty years ago. It started slowly at first, but he knew what was happening almost as soon as the symptoms had started; he did not need to go to a doctor to confirm his suspicion because of his own previous medical experience. Neither did he want to go to a doctor. He did not enjoy being around other people, so in his retirement, he isolated himself as far from civilization as he could practically accomplish; he had everything he needed delivered, and didn’t particularly care about dying alone. He had forsaken any family he had left years ago. However, what he did not want was a miserable existence, and going blind would be a severe hindrance to that goal. He did not want anything closely resembling a human to be his helper, but at the same time he did not feel an animal would be enough to suit his purposes. To that end, he went to work, tapping into his arcane knowledge to create life. He knew he wanted to create something that was intelligent, but not quite human, but he never imagined he would have birthed a monster.

     At first, it didn’t seem like anything was wrong. When Clarence was… born… he was average sized for a human baby. Certainly, he grew at a faster rate than normal, but by the time Mr. McKenzie knew something was wrong, his vision had already deteriorated enough to where he couldn’t realistically go back and try again—he was stuck with what he had made. And he was optimistic enough for Clarence in the beginning, at least until he grew older, and significantly larger. It was clear Clarence was intelligent: he could cook, clean, and respond to commands and directions, but he was incredibly and increasingly obstinate. For that fact, he wasn’t particularly good at any of those tasks, though it may also have had somewhat to do with a lack of capability for more refined movement and thought. For example, there was no reason that he shouldn’t have been able to speak (or at least the old man thought so), but he did not respond to the teachings at all and would make no sort of communication aside from the occasional grumble or gurgle. If Clarence read at all, the old man didn’t know about it, though he had tried to teach him. There was a plethora of books around the house, and they were often the only things that were never disturbed—maybe in part because Mr. McKenzie had no use for them whatsoever.

     Clarence’s spite toward him was strange. He thought he had been a good father, or at the very least not a bad one. He disciplined Clarence but never once hurt him. He gave him whatever sort of cold, half-hearted affection he could muster up. He did genuinely try, because he wanted Clarence to care about him… that was, after all, the purpose he had set out to accomplish in the first place. Perhaps Clarence simply resented him. Not necessarily for bringing him into this world a monster (though Mr. McKenzie had little to no way of knowing any of Clarence’s thoughts), but just simple resentment for reasons unknown. There were some times when Clarence did what he was expected to do without issue, but more often than not, he acted out in some way to cause the old man discomfort. Perhaps he acted on whim alone, or some sort of inscrutable programming that the old man had not foreseen—something baked into his nature by instinct, a design he could not control, only attempt to harness, even with as much as he knew.

     Regardless of the reasons for Clarence’s behaviors, the old man grew not only to resent him, but to be afraid of him. Here he was, dependant on this thing for assistance as his body progressively fell apart, but he lived in a cloud of fear and uncertainty because of its resolute unpredictability and indomitable power over him; any day, Clarence could decide to crush him in his jaws, or beat him to death with a single blow, or refuse to feed him, or the old man could fall down the stairs because Clarence was not there to guide him down, or Clarence could simply leave one day and never return. Despite everything, this last possibility somehow seemed to be the worst idea for Mr. McKenzie.

********************

    The old man had managed to get himself off of the floor, clean off himself and the cane as best he could, and went into the kitchen to confront Clarence. He was still hurting from the fall, quite a bit, actually, When he got there, all he could hear was the slow stirring of a pot and a droning grumble.

    “Clarence, you know what you did was horrible; you certainly should not do anything like that ever again!” he began with a type of submissive anger, but unintentionally transitioned into a type of mournful plea. “You know I depend on you, and what you tried to do, whatever you thought it would accomplish, just wasn’t right. Clarence, you know how weak I am, and it should absolutely be beyond you to do anything like that to an old man… someone who raised you up and cared for you as long as he could. I know you can do better than this.” He was tearing up, though he wasn’t sure why. “Clarence, I love you.” Now he was choking up a bit, maybe for Clarence as much as for himself.

    But all he could hear now was the bubbling of the meal. He made his way back upstairs and lay back down in his bed. He was not hungry today.

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
...until next year...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on December 29, 2020, 09:10:50 AM
Assorted Poetry
No Regrets?

     You knew just everything
     But nothing at all
     From the moment you spoke
     Those bitter words you unleashed

     Made me reconsider
     If anything had ever been
     The way I thought it had
     There are times now I feel it never was

     Every so often I search
     Comb through the old depths
     To try and see what I've decided now
     Now that your words can never be unsaid

     I wish that I hadn't pledged just now
     To stop having regrets
     Maybe if I had done that years ago
     I could've spoken my piece before it was too late

     I realize now you never made me a priority
     I preferred to think I had been, at least once
     Nothing between us was just spontaneous
     If I didn't call, you never would

     But now I believe
     No one ever really has
     And maybe it'll stay that way
     Some things are just meant to be.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on January 01, 2021, 08:52:43 AM
Assorted Poetry
Coda

     I was running at the speed of life
     Through morning's thoughts and fantasies

     You've said you're still my friend
     But your actions do say otherwise

     I want to know the answer
     But time and patience are my enemy

     The days are long
     But the years are short.
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on February 17, 2021, 04:06:18 PM
Assorted Poetry
The Eternal Sting of a Lust for Life

     I scream, I scream, I scream
     Into the boundless void
     Hoping to hear an echo back
     My lungs burning like hellfire
     But I know if I stop

     I might fall in...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on May 23, 2021, 03:24:52 PM
Assorted Poetry
Eel

     You know I'm not the best at talking
     We walk together, make small talk
     In the kitchen, quietly sharing dinner
     But just when I'm ready to say something

     You slip away

     Maybe a voice call you take
     Maybe you just smile and wave goodbye
     And leave the room like nothing just happened
     Too quick for any more words

     You're one slippery character

     Like an eel
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 03, 2021, 09:20:36 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2021 part 1
The Shadow Under the Door

     Hall H. That’s what everyone called it, even though its official name was Baker Hall. Located smack dab in the center of the dorm rows, it was the tallest residence hall on campus. It was ten stories tall, and more importantly, shaped like a giant H. That’s why they called it Hall H, of course. It’s also where I spent most of my second year on campus. Only most of the year and not all because, you see, at the beginning of the year I was assigned to a different dorm, but my whole floor flooded because of a pipe burst and they had to move all of us out into different halls. By the time my turn was up to be assigned a new room, Hall H was the only dorm that had openings. Unlike the other dorms, most of the rooms had single beds—just you, your bed, and your desk—but at a cost. We had to suffer through the horrors of a communal bathroom. Each floor had four, located at each end of the H. Rooms were along the sides. The center of the H was where the stairs and elevators were.

    There were a bunch of silly stories people shared about Hall H. Just like every one of the other dorms. But they were silly stories, y’know? Some of them tried to be a little scary, but they weren’t.

    There were never any stories about Floor 9. My room was right next to one of the communal bathrooms.

    Even though the building was ten stories tall, there were no rooms on the tenth floor; that was where the building’s common room was. Though most of the floor was interior space, there were a few outdoor terraces. Each of them was rimmed by thick iron bars that were close together. I think they greased them up to make them difficult to grab onto, because they always seemed to be slippery. Either that, or it was an attempt to waterproof them. It rained here often enough for that to be the case. You could see through the bars, but they were too high for anyone to climb.

    Being next to the shared bathroom was a bit tough. There was a lot of noise all throughout the night as students elected to go to and from the room at their own pace. There would be a rush at night, and another rush in the morning. Overall, though, it helped to be able to know when the bathroom was busy so I could time my own business and not be left waiting for a stall, a shower, or a sink. I got used to the noise. You sorta expected the noise after some time. I could fall asleep quickly, and I usually didn’t wake up unless something was really loud. But in Hall H, there was always one thing that kept me awake at night.

    I first noticed it the Tuesday after I moved in. I moved in on a Wednesday, so it didn’t happen for almost a full week afterwards. By then it was far too late to move out.

    I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night, for no reason. It was absolutely silent outside. I checked the time. 4:32am. Huh, odd. I went back to sleep.

    That next Tuesday, I once more woke up in the middle of the night. Again, I checked the time. Again, 4:32am. At this point I didn’t notice that it was the same time as the week before. But this time, instead of going back to sleep, I stayed up just a bit longer. For a time, it was silent.

    Then, I heard something out in the hall. It sounded like wet footsteps.

    This was, of course, a normal occurrence when one lives directly adjacent to a communal bathroom. Thinking nothing of it, I quickly went back to sleep.

    The third Tuesday, I once more awoke at 4:32am. This time, however, I took note of the strange, seemingly coincidental circumstance. I simply figured that something—maybe an alarm of one of my immediate neighbors, or maybe some noise outside my window that might have a reason to occur at the exact same day and time every week—had caused me to wake up at this exact time, the same time as the week before.

    I was too busy thinking that I didn’t really notice the wet footsteps until they stopped. The way the room was set up, the bed is against a wall, facing the window. There’s a short hallway that leads to the door. If you want to see the door while you’re on the bed, you have to peek around the corner a bit. And, feeling in a curious mood tonight, I did just that.

    There was a shadow under the door. It was right up against my door. It wasn’t moving.

********************

    Every night, there would inevitably be at least a few hours each night when nobody was in the bathroom. But every Tuesday, I woke up at 4:32am sharp, and the hall was silent. Nobody was in the bathroom, nobody was out walking in the hallway. But before long I heard the wet footsteps making their way across the hall. They stopped right in front of my door. They stayed there for far too long. And then, with a few more wet steps, they left. The shadow disappeared.

    As the weeks drew on, I slept less each night. As I learned to listen for the noises each week, I could hear the footsteps coming from farther off. As I got better at silencing the noises I made, I could hear more of the noises it made. Short, raspy breathing. The subtle creak of the door on its hinges as the thing pressed itself up against my door. One time I was even bold enough to get off my bed and closer to the noise. The shadow left as soon as I touched the floor. I went back to bed straight away.

    Everyone thought I was crazy. Nobody would listen to me, nobody would do anything. Nobody would even try. They wouldn’t send someone to check it out, and they absolutely wouldn’t approve a room change under any circumstance. I was too damn scared to do anything myself but watch as the shadow appeared under my door, stayed for a while, and then departed.

    It could’ve just been a crazy person, I still tried to reason, or someone who was dedicated to messing with me; but they would’ve had some insane dedication to the routine. There was no way it was just a person. No, it was all too horrifically coincidental, especially with what was to come.

    You may be able to guess what came next. It started happening more often. Every Tuesday without fail. Sometimes Friday. Occasionally a Monday. Maybe a Thursday every once in a while. The pace picked up just as finals week started. Next semester. Every Tuesday. Most Fridays. Some Mondays and Thursdays. Now Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays too. No day was off limits. It went fast.

     EVERY. DAY.

     I wanted to die. I was barely sleeping every night. I kept waking myself up several times each night in the middle of the night. Worried that thing would finally break down the door, or maybe just pass through, and do horrific things to me as I slept. I don’t know what I imagined, but nothing good. Some days I just didn’t go to classes so I could get in at least a few hours of sleep during the day. One of my professors graciously allowed me to switch sections to a class later in the day, and that helped. But not much.

     I didn’t know how long I could take this for. In the end, I had to do something, and I knew what. No matter what the outcome, I had to do it to keep myself sane. To end it all one way or the other.

     I started the night by unlocking my door. I settled down into my bed, a quiet, sleepless rest. I was on guard. On watch. I kept a vigil, for no reason really. Perhaps I was worried that I would somehow fall asleep and miss it. I don’t remember when, or for how long, but I drifted off briefly at some point. But what I do know is when I woke up. 4:32am. It happened the same as it always did. The wet footsteps coming from down the hall. They reached my door and stopped. The shadow under the door. It pressed itself against my door. But this time was different. I could hear the door handle jiggle, gripped by a hand that was as wet and slimy as the feet that made the sloshing footsteps. It sounded like it was being opened by something that didn’t know what a door handle was.

     It couldn’t open the door.

     The shadow left. I got up right away and went to the door. I took a deep breath, and weighed in my head whether I wanted to actually do this or not. It wasn’t over yet. It had to end now. I had to reassure myself that I wouldn’t be tormented by this for the rest of my time in the room. That it wouldn’t just keep coming back.

     I reached out and opened the door. I peered out and looked to the right, away from the bathroom and down the hallway.

********************

     After that night, they approved my request to move to a different room. At first, I slept better.

     But really, I shouldn’t have opened that door.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 2: JUST FALL APART
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 18, 2021, 07:51:32 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2021 part 2
Just Fall Apart

     He awoke with a start, drenched in sweat, from a dream—no, a nightmare. A horrid nightmare. As he jolted up, he made a sharp gasp. Collecting himself, he turned his head to look at his clock and out the window. It was still night. It was nothing; just a false start to the day brought about by a meaningless, albeit briefly startling, dream. He had the leniency of at least a few more hours of rest. For now, all was good.

     Hours later, he woke up to his alarm. Blasted alarm. His back hurt, as it did every morning, before he even sat up to get out of bed. Such was the reality of life and of getting old. But, for at least a few more years now, he still had to get up to go to work. He sat up, reluctantly, and turned. A sharp pop and a brief pain in his left knee as he started to put his feet down on the ground. That would be the new normal from now on, he mused to himself… but this pain felt strange in some way. The type of pain felt different, lingered just a bit longer.

    He disregarded his discomfort as he got ready for work, same as he did every weekday. He crammed himself in his just-slightly-too-small car and began his half hour commute. His vehicle was always a bit uncomfortable—he could afford to upgrade for at least another year or so, something he had told himself last year, not to mention the year before, verbatim—but today it felt particularly constraining, like he was a contortionist trying to fit himself into a box just a little too tight for comfort. He cursed his misfortune, as he did almost every day where he remembered to do so. He had never wanted to end up as a professor teaching psychology at a perfectly mediocre university; he just fell into the role because no other opportunities presented themselves readily. As the years passed he simply accepted his fate. As he got older, riskier job opportunities he might have taken when he was younger no longer seemed appealing. He liked the security his position brought, even if it wasn’t exciting or particularly fulfilling, not to mention the fact that the compensation was much less than what he felt it should’ve been after all his loyal years of teaching. He got good reviews every year. Not the best of the bunch in the grand scheme of things, but high enough to where he was considered a mainstay of his department.

     As he adjusted his left leg in his vehicle, he once more wondered where this sudden, unusual pain came from. He was active enough, sure, and his job wasn't even particularly strenuous, mentally, physically, or otherwise. The most physically demanding part of his job was hoofing it between his office, the university's main lecture hall, back to his office, then whatever classroom the power that be had deigned to assign to him for his next class. Sometimes stairs were even involved. Every year he always taught at least one section of an introductory psychology class, along with a section of an upper division class. This year, he taught Sleep Psychology and the Analysis of Dreams.

    Once he reached campus, he headed straight for his office, but he wasn’t there for long. Not even long enough to rest and take a seat. As he walked across the gentle yet somewhat hilly field that served as the center courtyard of the campus, he suddenly felt a pop in his ankle as he set his foot down on a slope. He stumbled slightly but caught himself before he took a tumble. The pain wasn't just a single pop, but felt like a series of small fireworks rapidly popping one after another in his ankle. He groaned as he clutched his ankle while sitting on the ground and waiting for the pain to subside, which it did before long. However, even as he stood up and attempted to keep walking, his ankle felt weak, like something had come undone that shouldn’t have. He resolved to visit the campus health center before the day ended; but first, he had a lecture to give. He limped his way across campus and up the stairs.

     He usually stood for most of his lectures, only sitting when he was particularly exhausted or when his immediate focus wasn’t needed; today, however, he sat for most of his lecture. Putting too much weight on his leg was painful, and every time he stood, he wobbled hesitantly. The two hours of the lecture dragged on longer than it usually felt. His mind was preoccupied the whole time with the nagging pain radiating up and down his leg at irregular intervals. He let the lecture out 10 minutes early, not just because he finished all his material, but also because he wanted to deal with his pain as soon as possible.

     He went into the campus health center. It was empty today, so he was able to head right back. He was seen by a medical student, a kid who was in one of his classes a number of years back when he was still pre-med. After a brief exam, the student sat down and relayed his findings.

     “Well, I don’t know what to tell you,” the student said, “this is extremely unusual. If you showed any sort of history with this type of thing, I might be able to give you a better idea of what you’re dealing with. On first inspection, I’d say that the joints in your left leg are falling apart in a way that one might expect with Ehlers-Danlos, but you don’t exhibit the symptoms of any of the other types. To be safe, I’d go see a doctor and get some thorough tests done.”

     As soon as he got home, he made an appointment with his doctor. The date was two weeks out, but he figured he would be all right until then, as long as he didn't abuse his leg.

********************

     The next morning, he woke up in pain. Both his legs hurt, and the pain echoed through his back, which was already hurting by itself. As he tried to turn to get out of bed, his whole body ached. He began to set his left foot down on the floor, but simply moving his leg hurt, let alone the pain of touching his foot on the ground. He retracted his foot. Even his right leg felt tender and weak. He lay down flat on the bed once more. If nothing changed by tonight, he thought, he would call in sick to work, get them to find a replacement for a week or so; but he couldn't simply cancel class today. At least, he didn't want to.

     He phoned up one of his friends. He would help him walk and drive over to the university safely. He always had a wheelchair and a set of crutches handy for emergencies.

     His friend arrived, concerned.

     "Are you sure everything's ok?" his friend asked. "You injure yourself or something? Just the other day you seemed fine."

     He tried to brush it away, saying that he had simply not been feeling well lately in an unusual manner, and assured his friend he had already made the necessary arrangements to get checked out as soon as possible. They tried the crutches at first, but even the crutches felt uncomfortable under his arms, like they were digging into his flesh, his muscles, and his joints and tearing away at them every time he leaned his weight on the crutches. Instead, they opted for the wheelchair; regardless of how much of a scene it might make with the students around campus, it was the only viable option they had. And so, he made his way to work. The students would understand.

     As he was wheeling himself around campus, his arms began to make audible popping sounds, each snap accompanied by discomfort. As he was teaching, the noises continued irregularly. He tried his best not to show the pain on his face. His students were clearly already well aware he wasn't in great shape. He couldn't let it affect the quality of his teaching.

     At the end of the day, he made his way back home. As the day had carried on, his left leg felt progressively weaker. As he wheeled up to his front door, the leg felt numb and flimsy. It sort of dangled around, like the muscles had unraveled and the bones had begun to liquefy. Part of him realized that he should do something about it right away, but his stubbornness prevailed. He assured himself he was fine, that he could wait. He was feeling tired and drained anyway. Maybe all he needed was rest, and he’d feel better by morning…

     He carried himself over to his bed, then got in. He groaned as his shoulders hurt and felt weak. He huffed and gasped for breath. He was tired, so strangely tired… sleep washed over him before too long.

********************

    He suddenly awoke in the middle of the night in agony. Pins and needles pain wracked his body from his toes to his shoulders. His left leg especially felt weird, like he felt all the pain from before in his leg, but at the same time he couldn’t really feel the leg itself. With what little strength he had, he tossed his blanket off as his arms quaked and shook at any bit of movement. Dark as it was in the room, he could still see what was underneath from the light outside. His left leg, or rather, what remained of it, looked like a string of pencil shavings with thick goops of flesh and blood clumped on the sheets beneath. He gasped, an attempt at a scream, the most sound he could get out as his chest burned and his lungs seized up. He reached out for his phone in the darkness, and that was all he remembered…

    He woke up in the hospital. A team of doctors and nurses was standing over him. As he opened his eyes and tried to sit up, they all jumped to alert. Much of the pain he felt earlier was gone, although his body still ached all over. He opened his mouth and gasped.

    “Sir, don’t try to talk,” one of the nurses said. “We don’t know what’s going on with you, but we got you stabilized from earlier when you first came in. You managed to call just in time; you probably would have gone into shock if you had waited any longer. We amputated the remnants of your leg. We’re keeping an eye on your body for any further changes.”

    This did not reassure him. But he had no other choice but to remain.

********************

    That night, he dreamed he was at home once more. Everything was normal. He woke up normally, had breakfast like any other day. He started to brush his teeth, but as he did so, something felt off. He spit into the sink, and blood mixed with foam landed in the sink. His teeth felt strangely unsteady. He looked in the mirror, and his gums were bleeding at the edges of his teeth. He reached into his mouth and felt his teeth one by one. They all felt loose, wobbling like they could come out at any moment. His fingers gripped a tooth, and then…

    He jolted up again, gasping. It was still late, definitely before sunrise. The room was cold. He reached for a mirror by the side of his hospital bed, his arm shaking the whole time. He held it up, shaking, and opened his mouth. Everything seemed fine, but just to be safe, he reached his thumb just inside his mouth. The tip of his thumb touched against the bottom of one of his canines. He gently nudged it back and forth as a test, and…

    CRINK.

    The tooth broke off from his gums and fell down into his lap. Gasping, he put the mirror down and reached for the metal tray by the side of the bed. He picked the fallen tooth up and dropped it in the tray with a dull “clink.” He picked up the mirror again. The action had already loosened some of his other teeth. He dare not close his mouth for fear all his teeth would dislodge. A sick curiosity came over him. He reached his hand into his mouth once more.

    CRINK. CLINK. CRINK. CLINK. CRINK. CLINK. CRINK. CLINK.

********************

     The days passed. Sometimes he heard them talking out in the hallway.

     “This isn’t like anything we’ve ever seen before. We don’t know what’s going on, and worst of all, nothing we’ve done has been able to stop it.”

     As his limbs numbed one by one, his other senses began to sharpen. Everything was always too bright. He could hear things from farther away. The pain he felt sharpened even as they increased the dosage of the pain medication they had him on. The feeling of the bed rubbing against his body as he writhed in agony. All the while, he continued to fall apart piece by piece. First his other leg, then bits of his lower torso started to peel off. His right arm was losing feeling by the day, almost a relief as the pain he felt in his arm and shoulder sharpened suddenly. He was in and out of surgery to try and remove the peeled skin before it started to decay. Every day, new doctors came in to suggest or try new treatments. Nothing worked. He was losing hope. Every day felt more and more like a haze. Every day, he felt less and less human, and more like a hazy blob that was simply seeping apart.

     Night after night passed. He had lost his right arm a few days ago. It peeled apart as he was awake to witness it. The skin tore slowly at first, and then ripped apart with force. Everything else that was once inside dripped down sloppily or just plopped downward. His screams alerted the nurses on call. Now, not much of him was left. His insides burned. As he lay there, gasping and fighting for every breath of air, thinking about being brought to this wretched, loathsome state, he felt his insides turning. He groaned gently. It hurt too much to do anything more. He felt twisting and turning, and melting inside of him. It started down below, in his intestines, and slowly worked its way up, through his stomach, lungs, heart, up his throat like burning fumes, and even up in his head. His head felt full, like his skull would burst at any moment. He wailed loudly. His remaining arm throbbed.

     Was this the end? His body pulsed. He tore at his hospital gown, managing to peel it off with strength that he thought had left him. He twisted and turned in the bed as lines formed all along his skin and his insides trembled and gurgled as they expanded and melted.

     The pain!!! He screamed as his skin ripped at the seams, like someone was ripping apart leather with their bare hands. His arm ripped apart and viscous liquid poured from the tears in his body. He lost all feeling in his arm, but it was quickly replaced by a pain that consumed him. It had to be just a dream, yet another horrific nightmare!!! He screamed one last scream before he could make no more noise as his deconstruction completed itself and the last of his remnants peeled themselves apart from each other.

     But he never woke up, for it was not a dream.

STAY TUNED FOR PART 3: THE BLEAKEST CHAMBERS OF THE HEART'S DESIRE
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 31, 2021, 08:37:02 AM
Halloween Horror Special 2021 part 3
The Bleakest Chambers of the Heart’s Desire

Part 1: Photographs & Memories

     It is incredible, nay, horrific, what happens to a photo when it transforms from a photo of someone you love, to the photo of someone who has hurt you. It goes from a picture you look back on with fond memories, a sense of yearning nostalgia, and a sense of appreciation for the subject of the photo, to a repulsive, sickening object. It doesn’t even have to be a photo you have taken yourself. No, any photo, simply the image or sight of the person, triggers a primal feeling of utter revulsion. ‘How could I have ever cared for a person like this?’ you ask yourself. But there is no good answer. It doesn’t even have to be an egregious transgression that tore you apart. Simply the notion that there was something which destroyed the special bond you had, and that it may never be repaired. And if it can be repaired, that it may never be the same as it once was, because it hits you that they, or perhaps yourself, saw your relationship as something that could be severed in the first place. That they were ok to live with themselves after that. After they hurt you. And you lie awake, all these sleepless nights, wondering if what once was, but has since been tarnished, could ever resume the lustrous golden sheen it once displayed, if it could ever bring you the same joy it once had. And the days pass, and the years pass, and it still hasn’t. All these sleepless nights.

     And you question yourself. ‘They didn’t want to admit fault,’ you tell yourself, again and again, ‘does that, perhaps, mean that I am actually the one at fault for the whole damn thing? Am I in the wrong and they’re right, and I’m just to blind to see it?’ The incessant questioning, over and over. Endlessly. Are they lying awake every night thinking the same sort of questions? So many nights of ‘Maybe I should apologize; maybe…’ maybe… they feel they’re too deep into it to give it up, that somehow an admission of their part in the whole thing would hurt more after all this time. If they had just done it yesterday, a month ago, three years ago, it wouldn’t have hurt as much. Is this hurting them as much as it’s hurting you? But you’ll never know that, because you can’t ask them, because they won’t let you ask them, and even if you did ask them, maybe they wouldn’t even be honest with you, because they haven’t always been honest with you before, haven’t they? But honestly would really make things better for both of us, so why can’t they be honest? Do they not want to be honest, or do they just not know they’re not being honest? Are they not honest with you because they think of you as lesser? Why? Have they always thought of you as lesser, or did it start somewhere along the line? If so, then what caused that to happen? Was it something you did, or did they just… change? That’s the big fear: that it's always been this way, that everything was wasted, and there’s not even a chance to scramble to get everything back. You want to do anything to get it back, to put the whole burden of the fault on your shoulders—only yours and no one else’s—so that you can hope to patch an ever-growing fissure. But you know that it can’t ever really be mended unless both wielders of the guilt are willing to bear the load. You’ve always hurt yourself just to keep the peace, but keeping the peace came with a cost in the end. You wish you could read minds, so this whole thing could’ve been so easy. You thought you were always so in sync in the ways that it mattered, but in the end, you suppose you were only two lost souls with just enough tangled strings to hold you together for a fleeting moment, but never enough to bring you closer. But you want to do something about it. You’ve always wanted to do something about it, but you never have. And you’ll do anything to make things better for both of you, even if you shouldn’t, because they don’t want to make things better.

     And nothing will ever change because you can’t do anything, because no matter what the reality of the whole thing is, they don’t want to change. People don’t want to change, maybe… because it hurts. And is it even hurting you both the same way?


Part 2: He Sees a Ghost

     Denial.

     In the early evening just before sundown, as I walked down the sidewalk on the way home from work, I took in the stale, dry air of the city. People still called it “fresh air” despite the fact that the whole city was tinged with a rancid scent, as if just the fact of it being outside somehow made it better than inside. I’ve learned that people love to insist on things that aren’t true, just because those little lies make them feel good. Familiarity is a strange thing, and while denial is no stranger to me, it still baffles me how people can take such joy in being wrong, because they despise the sting of being wrong. People want to feel good without effort. Effort, whether it be mental, physical, or otherwise, is pain.

     I know it’s early, but I’m sure you’ve surmised by now that this is about you. I don’t know why it matters though, because you’ll probably never read this. Nonetheless, nothing I’ve said here should even be a surprise to you. Whether or not you were listening, I’ve probably said it all to you before. You know I have a sad tendency to be a bit of a broken record. I can’t help myself.

     But back to the matter of you, I suppose, now that we’ve gone there. I don't always remember where I met people. Usually I'll have a general idea of the circumstances of our introduction, but not like you. I remember exactly where we first met, and what we said. It’s a shame how the best of our memories are so often taken up—nay, stolen—by those who don’t deserve such a lasting footprints in our head. On that note, I’ve always found it funny how the best way to forget someone who wronged you is to be wronged by someone else. What happened with you made me forget the person who wronged me before you, but I've never gotten over what you did to me, because unlike so many others, you actually cared about me. Maybe someone else will come along to replace you soon enough. Maybe it won't be as bad next time. One can hope.

     At the end of the day, I’m still asking myself the question: Where did things go wrong? Everything was good, until one day it suddenly wasn’t any more. Things were fine until I started having your back. I was there for you when nobody else was, and you didn’t like that. You treated me like shit because I told you what you needed to hear when you didn’t want it. I didn’t want to have to pick up the pieces afterward; I wanted to save you from being broken in the first place, but I guess you didn’t want someone who respected you. You just wanted someone shiny. I’ve never been shiny, at least not for a long while.

********************

     I saw you at a coffee shop today. Imagine that should happen so soon after thinking about you again. Funny, I wasn't even there to get coffee. You know how I am. And later that day, I got a message from you. It's been, what, how long? A year, two years, five years? Really, that long? Fuck, feels like it's been decades. You think it’s been too late? Why did you even wait this long to say anything? Hell, you wouldn’t have even said anything if I hadn’t seen you first, but you seemed friendly enough, and not just because you felt obligated to. You really did have your old vibrant warmth to you, like you genuinely meant what you told me. Like nothing had ever changed, and we had just happened to fall out of contact over the years by some big unfortunate circumstance outside of our own control. But let’s not twist history; we both know that’s not what happened, no matter how much you’d like to forget.

     Don’t try and hide that it was your fault. I know you’d like to simply get away scot-free, without the burden of guilt to force you to feel uncomfortable for your actions. You’d like that, wouldn’t you? I can’t believe you never struck me as that kind of person while I knew you, but looking back now, it was all too apparent. I just gave you excuses you were all too quick to accept. I just let you get away with it. How could I have done such a thing?

     But it needs to be said—you chose to do this. You didn't just disconnect what we had, you took a hammer and made sure to smash whatever was holding on for dear life, until there was nothing left. I want to fix it, I've always been willing, I still want to fix it, but whatever we rebuild will never be the same thing that used to be there. The greatest tragedy of human life, I suppose, is that the longer you live, the more experience you get, but you need the experience the most at the time of your life you don't have it. And you can warn the new people all you want, but it doesn't really matter, until you've lived it yourself. Maybe if our souls of today could go back in time and inhabit our old bodies, then this never would've happened. We'd realize how petty the whole thing was and we'd laugh and go out for drinks and embrace each other and be merry. And the whole thing would be smoothed over by morning. And we'd go back home and live our lives and every so often we'd meet up again to have a damn good time. Just a bump in the road.

     It’s been too long. We can’t repair what we used to have. It’s too late. I wish you had done this earlier. When I wanted to. I was ready, even if it hurt. Before the hurt and the pain really set in. Before the ties were severed completely, and rotted away to nothing. I really tried, because you and me? Nothing should have ever come between us.


Part 3: A Sad Sort of Epilogue

     Even as I lay here in bed, I’m still thinking about this morning. You know I can’t help it.

     You had the gall to ask me how things had been.

     Let's say you and your roommate own a dog. The dog is old and in pain and needs to be put down. You tell your roommate you'll schedule the appointment for this Friday, but they say they're not ready emotionally and ask you to put it off until next Friday, so you do. Every day until then, you have to sit and listen to the dog whining and crying in agony. Every night you go to bed hoping it won't die between now and next Friday.

     The roommate was you, and the dog was all our problems we had to lay to rest, that we didn't because you weren't ready.

     So that's how it was to me, my love. That's how it was.

WE HOPE YOU ENJOYED YOUR HALLOWEEN
THE END
...until next year...
Title: Re: BlackDragonSlayer's Short Stories
Post by: BlackDragonSlayer on October 31, 2021, 08:40:05 AM
Also, a brief announcement. I can't say for certain, but this might be the last Halloween Horror Special for the foreseeable future. I'm trying to compile some of my stories into a book, along with a couple new ones, so if I find out how to self-publish it's possible that most of my writing efforts will go into writing for the efforts of publishing more books, in which case I'd want to make those collections comprised primarily of original stories rather than ones that have been previously released.

Thanks for all the support up until now. I really appreciate it. <3