Category Archives: Fantasy

The Ring. Flash Fiction.

Jenny held the ring in a beam of sunlight, watching as the afternoon light glinted across the diamonds. It really was a breath-taking ring and she wasn’t surprised she’d never seen her grandmother wearing it. Her grandmother seemed to favour subtle jewellery, nothing more than a pair of small, diamond stud earrings and little else. Jenny slid the ring onto her finger, marvelling at how perfectly it fit. She, unlike her grandmother, loved wearing jewellery the more it sparkled the better as far as she was concerned. She moved her hand about in the light, this ring would definitely be added to her rotation, only for special occasions of course, she didn’t want to lose something so beautiful and so precious. She considered the ring on her finger for a moment, it wasn’t a special day, not really, but the ring was just too perfect to take off.

Jenny reached for her coffee, ring shining in the harsh lights of the coffee shop. A man nearby smiled, Jenny didn’t notice as she doctored her coffee, adding a splash of milk and a dash of sugar. Without looking she left the coffee shop, the man stood and followed, hardly able to believe his luck. He had been searching for that ring for years, decades and here it was, in some unremarkable coffee shop worn by an unremarkable girl. Sure, she was pretty enough if one noticed those kinds of things but as the years went on the man found himself noticing them less and less.

The man followed her through the day as Jenny wound her way through her errands. He was finding it frustrating how she never seemed to find herself alone, not even in the aisles of the grocery store. He just needed a moment that was all, just long enough to snatch it from her finger. Jenny exited the store, arms laden with shopping bags. She walked through the car park, she reached her car and put the bags down, seeing his chance the man lunged. He pulled her down and kept her close to the ground, “Don’t scream, don’t make a sound and I won’t hurt you.” His breath was hot against her face and carried with it a fetid stench that reminded her of spoiling meat. His hands scrabbled at hers as he stripped the ring from her finger. She realised what was happening and snatched her hand away, but the ring was already gone. She moved to hit him, before she could he struck her hard across the face, an open handed slap that disorientated her. “it isn’t worth your life. To you it’s just a thing.” With that his crushing weight left her body and he was gone. Shakily Jenny stood and looked around the car park, people were milling around but there was no sign of the man. Her hands were shaking and her heart was beating heavily in her chest as she scrabbled to open her car, once inside she locked the doors. After a moment she burst into tears, once she had calmed herself she turned on the engine and pulled out of the spot, not remembering the bags of groceries she left on the ground.

The man looked at the ring in front of him, he had actually found it after all these years. He slipped the ring on and felt a rush of anger through him. The man glanced down at the ring, “I’ve missed you too sweetheart.” with a small smile he stared at the ring, it was almost as beautiful as the soul of the woman he had made it from.

Possessed. Short Story.

Jacob stood at the gate, looking at the house, it was two stories tall and made of red brick, the garden was quite large with an abundance of flowers, all of which were wilting and dying. The houses either side were easily twice, if not three times the size of the house in front of him. He took a slow breath, then opened the gate, it creaked as he pushed it in. He walked up the path and knocked on the large, black door. It opened a few seconds later to reveal a woman in her mid-fifties, her hair was in a messy bun, her eyes were red and swollen, it looked as though there had been an attempt at putting on make up but most of it had streaked. “Are you Mr. Vander?”
“Yes, I am and please call me Jacob.”
“I’m Meredith, please come in. Do you want to see him straight away?”
“No, first I’d like to have a quick chat with you and your husband, I need to know what I’m dealing with before we start anything.”
“Of course. Michael’s in the kitchen, would you like some tea or coffee?”
“Water would be great, thank you.” she lead him down a long hallway, her slippers whispering along the hardwood floors. The house itself seemed gloomy, despite the large windows and sunshine outside. Meredith opened the door to the kitchen and stepped inside, Jacob followed after. The floors and counter top seemed to be made of marble, everything in the kitchen gleamed in the light. A man was sitting at a small table, he stood as they entered, “Hi, Mr. Vander? I’m Michael”
Jacob shook his hand, Michael had a firm grip, but his palms were sweaty, “Please, call me Jacob. It’s nice to meet you Michael, I wish it was under better circumstance.”
“Me too.”
“Have a seat, are you sure you just want water?”
“Yes, thank you.”
He wouldn’t have turned down a shot of vodka or two, but it was still early, the vodka would come later, to help him forget.
Jacob sat at the table a second later a large glass of water was placed in front of him, ice tinkling gently against the glass, Jacob took a sip. “So, when did this all begin?”
“About eleven months back, right?”
“Maybe a year ago. We’re not sure. The change was gradual, we thought maybe it was just work stress or maybe he was fighting with his girlfriend again.”
Jacob nodded, “Yes, most people think it’s something like that at first. Has he seen doctors?”
“Yes, as we said on the phone he’s seen multiple doctors and psychiatrists and he’s been on multiple medications but none make a difference.”
“I know, I just have to be certain. What kind of behaviours did he exhibit?”
“Well, at first he was just more distant, he was closing himself off from us, then he started making mistakes in work, simple ones here and there. He was fired, he wouldn’t tell us why, just kept ranting about them not knowing how to take a joke. Since then he hasn’t really left the house unless he has to, mostly he stays up in his old room. He bathes regularly, he eats healthily, he seems normal enough.”
“But?”
“The things he says. Awful, horrible things. My mother” Meredith paused, her voice hitching slightly, she pulled a crumpled tissue from her sleeve, “My mother died in a car accident ten years ago. She was driving home and swerved to avoid hitting something, we think it was a deer.” She paused and took a sip of her tea, “She wasn’t found until the next day, it wasn’t a well travelled road, they told us that it had been quick. That she hadn’t suffered.” she paused again.
“I know it’s difficult but it would be helpful to know what he said, take as much time as you need and if you need a break that’s OK too.”
She nodded, took a slow breath, “he said that she hadn’t died straight away, that she’d slowly bled out, that she was just sitting in the cold, calling out for help for hours.” She shuddered, “he started calling out in my mothers voice, I don’t know how but he did. He called for help, then he started coughing, he stopped then and grinned at me, “She was coughing up blood, cold, trapped and scared, waiting for help that wasn’t coming.” I ran from him then, I couldn’t help it, I just had to get away and as I ran he started laughing, this awful screeching laugh.”
“He’s told us how every single person we’ve ever known has died, the fear they felt, the pain.”
Meredith looked at Jacob, tissue tightly clutched in one hand, “If that monster didn’t look like my son I’d have killed him myself long ago.”
Jacob reached across the table and gently put his hand on hers, “this is an extremely difficult thing to experience for anyone but you need to remember that it isn’t actually your son in there any more. It’s just a thing, a cruel, heartless thing that’s just looking to hurt you. It feeds off pain and misery, now it’s still young, still a baby that makes it easier for me to get rid of it, but it also makes it dangerous. The older ones fall into patterns, they become predictable, the young ones could do almost anything. What other behaviours has he exhibited?”
“He um, well, we think he has killed some of the neighbours pets. There’s no proof one way or the other but they started going missing the same time this all started. He’s also had issues with vomiting, this black bile hat has stumped the doctors. He has also experienced diarrhoea and incontinence.”
“Has he ever gotten physical with either of you?”
“He’s never hit us if that’s what you mean. Son or not if he had he wouldn’t be living here any longer.”
Jacob nodded, “That’s a good sign. It means it’s more likely to be a lesser demon, more of a pest than a true physical danger.” Jacob took a sip of his water, “I’ve to ask you something and I know you’re not going to like it but we need to be honest with each other. Do you want your son back?”
“How could you even ask something like that?”
“Look, you’re not the first family to go through this and you wouldn’t be the first family to want nothing to do with the possessed after it’s all finished. They can never look at their family member the same way again after all the things they’ve said and done, even if it wasn’t really them.”
“We want our son back, no matter what.”
“I do have to warn you that while you will get your son back he won’t be himself. He’ll be depressed, despondent. Some come out of it on their own, others don’t. I’ll give you the number for someone experienced with this kind of thing to talk to him. However, of those possessed, over 95% of them go on to commit suicide.”
Meredith gasped, her hand going to her mouth, Michael hugged her to him.
“He’s been through a lot, mentally, physically and spiritually. He isn’t really aware of what’s going on at the moment, he will remember once he’s free again, but to him he’s experiencing another world.”
“Oh my poor baby, it must be so terrible, what is that foul creature doing to him?”
“Unfortunately it isn’t that easy. You’re son isn’t living in hell at the moment, he’s in a sort of paradise. His life is going exactly how he wants it, he’ll have gotten promotions, money, he could even have a family in there. There’s just no way to tell until he comes back. We know that that life was never real, but to him it’s as real as this kitchen is to us. We don’t know how much time has passed for him either, it could be around eleven months or it could be a week or even twenty years. He’ll be distant when he first comes out and in mourning. It won’t be like flipping a switch, there’s been a lot of psychological damage and he will need time and support to recover, if he ever does. The procedure is mostly safe however that doesn’t guarantee that he will survive this, he may die, are you willing to take that risk?”
“That isn’t our son, but we want him back. If he doesn’t…doesn’t make it, well, we’ll be putting him to rest.”
“OK, I think it’s time I see him. I want you to both stay here, I shouldn’t have any trouble but it might have a trick or two up its sleeve. It won’t take me long, ten, fifteen minutes and then it will be over.”
Meredith grabbed his hand, “No matter what happens, thank you.”
Jacob nodded, “Where is his room?”
“upstairs, down the hallway, last door on the right.”
Jacob stood and left the kitchen.

The stairs creaked beneath his feet as he climbed them, the floors upstairs were also hard wood, paintings hung on the wood walls, mostly landscape scenery and a few family portraits. Jacob paused at the last door on the right, he could smell it from out here, a faint stench of rot, a slight tickle of sulphur, as though someone had just lit a match. Jacob didn’t bother knocking, he opened the door and walked in.

Douglas sat on his bed, as Jacob walked in he turned his head slowly and smiled at him. Douglas looked like a normal twenty-five year old, his hair was scruffy and there was stubble across his cheeks. “I was wondering when someone like you would show up. They warned me of you you know.”
“Really? I didn’t know I was famous.”
“More infamous than anything. Oh there’s a lot of people who want to get their hands on you. Just you wait.”
Jacob closed the door behind himself, despite Douglas looking normal, there was something off about his eyes, they seemed oddly flat, they were a pale, washed out grey colour.
“So where’s your bible? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do, splash holy water on me while reciting scripture? I hear it burns so good.”
Jacob shook his head, “I’m not a priest. Those aren’t the tools of my trade. I come from something different.”
“Oh?”
“Yes, but my secrets are my own.”
“You’re no fun. Where’s the banter, the wit? Or are we just going to get down to business?”
There was a yowling screech from the closet, Jacob recognised the sound, “So you were the one taking the pets then?”
“Well, I figured Mr. Snuffles from next door would appreciate a few…changes.” there was a heavy bang on the closet door. “you know, make him bigger, badder, sharper claws. That kind of thing.” the banging on the door continued, “I’m getting stronger you know, every day. I’m still learning how to use this body, but I’m getting there. I’m starting to get sexual attraction too, that mother, she’s looks very fuckable, doesn’t she? Might have to show her what her son is really made of. I’m sure she’d enjoy it, she looks like a filthy bitch.”
“First time in a human?”
“How’d you know?”
“Sexuality is one of the first things the old hands get started on. You’re taking your time, getting a feel for things.”
“You got me. I tried to be subtle, keep things normal enough. I had them going for a while, they thought it was some kind of mental disorder.”
“They’d have kept thinking that too if one of my sources hadn’t spotted you.”
“And who might that be?”
Jacob shrugged, there came a crack from the closet door as it started to splinter. Douglas grinned, “You might want to go ahead and do something, my little friend there isn’t going to be stopped by that door for much longer.”
Jacob shrugged, “I’m in no rush.”
There was another crack, Jacob slid his hand into his pocket and pulled out a small vial.
“What’s that?”
“You’ll see.”
Jacob uncorked it and as the door shattered he downed the contents of the bottle in one gulp. A heavy wind filled the room, ripping old posters off the wall, sweeping things off the desk. The cat had been changed, it was about four feet tall and packed with heavy muscle, patches of different coloured fur covered its body along with thick, ropey scars. The cat jumped at Jacob, as it hit him it started screeching, its paws were stuck to his body. The cats body became rigid, then it dropped to the floor leaving nothing but a pile of meat and fur. Jacob took a step forward, Douglas screeched and scuttled backwards off the bed and onto the wall. Jacob reached out for him, Douglas shuddered then collapsed forward onto the bed, Jacob reached out and took his hand.

Douglas woke a few minutes later, his head pounding and his mouth dry. He looked around slowly, “What? What am I doing here? Where’s Samantha and the kids?”
Jacob shook his head, “They never existed, you were possessed, they were just creations of the demon.”
“What? What the hell are you on about? This isn’t funny where the hell are my wife and kids? Why am I in my old room? Mom!? Dad!?”
“Just take it easy for a few minutes OK? Your parents are downstairs, you’ll start to remember bits and pieces soon, just rest for now.” Douglas’ eyes rolled into the back of his head and he collapsed onto the bed.

House Arrest. Short Story.

Fred moved around the room slowly, counting under his breath as he went. The library itself was large with book cases coving the wall. The windows were stained glass blues, reds and yellows all depicting awful, terrifying scenes. One showed a man being burned alive, another showed a woman being ripped limb from limb by demons. Fred stopped counting, then he reached out and pulled a book from the bookshelf, he didn’t bother looking at the title, instead he flicked quickly to page 43. He read the first two lines then put the book back, feeling satisfied. The security measures were still in place here, he was protected. He felt himself relax a little as he put the book back. They had told him that the system would not fail, but he had heard that before. When people were that confident it made him nervous because it seemed likely that they’d simply overlooked something. He left the library, weaving his way between the large plush chairs and tables that dotted the room. He walked along the carpeted hallway to the kitchen. The kitchen was large, with marble counter tops and tiled floors, everything seemed to gleam in the morning light. He hated the kitchen. It was too big, too open and far too cold. Whoever had designed it hadn’t taken into account the rather impossible task of keeping the room warm. He went to the fridge and pulled it open, he examined the contents for a moment, it was too full to see everything clearly. He closed the fridge over, he was too stressed to eat. He’d been in this house a week already and it was starting to grate on his nerves. He wanted to be outside, in the fresh air, feeling the grass under his feet while birds sang as they flitted from tree to tree. He wanted his freedom back, he wanted his life back. He turned from the large, glass doors that opened to the perfectly manicured garden. They had promised he’d only be here for two weeks at most and they’d have the entire problem sorted by then. Not that he fully understood the problem either, but when some lunatic who can teleport and throw fireballs comes after you you stop questioning and just start running. Apparently he had the good fortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and some demon had decided he was a good target and even better, demons didn’t stop until they, or their prey, were dead. The man who’d rescued him, Paul, and his girlfriend, Tessa, had dumped him here while they were out hunting. Fred had yet to see anyone else, but somehow the fridge and cupboards were fully stocked at all times and his dirty plates seemed to clear themselves away if he left the room.

Fred turned off the TV, he could have sworn he just heard a bang from somewhere in the giant house. He stood from the couch and cautiously made his way into the hall. There was a dull thud from the back of the house, towards the kitchen. He started towards it then paused, was that blood on the carpet? The carpet was a pastel green colour and there was a trail of dark drops leading down the hall. His heart thudded heavily in his chest as he followed the trail. Maybe those people were back, maybe it was a trap. He paused outside the kitchen door, he leaned over and peered around the door frame. Tessa was sitting at the large kitchen table, blood streaked down her arms and legs, her head was resting on the table. “Oh my god are you OK?” Fred rushed over to her, she didn’t respond. He moved her red hair from her face and neck, her pale skin was covered in scratches and bruises, he carefully felt along her neck for a pulse, it was there but it was weak. What the hell was he supposed to do? He ran to the sink and quickly filled a bowl with warm water, then he grabbed a cloth. First things first he needed to find out where she was injured. He bathed the blood away from her face and arms, there were numerous cuts but they were all shallow, nothing seemed too deep. When he had finished wiping off most of the blood he carefully picked her up and carried her upstairs towards the master bedroom.

He lay her down gently on the bed, her chest was rising and falling slowly, at least he knew she was breathing. As far as he could see she had no major wounds, but if that was true why was she unconscious? Tessa opened her mouth and started screaming, Fred jumped back, letting out his own startled yell. There were no words, just screaming that echoed through the house. It died slowly, fading away to nothing and then she was completely still. Trembling slightly Fred reached out to her neck again, there was no pulse. Her chest was still. CPR, he needed to perform CPR and ring for an ambulance, he should have done it the moment he saw her. He lay her flat on the bed, what was it? 5 pumps then a breath? No, that was TV, it was more than that. He put his hands on her chest and started pushing up and down, Fred heard a low voice behind him “I wouldn’t bother with that if I were you. Her soul has long since departed her body. There’s no coming back from that. She’s dead.”
Fred whirled around, “Jesus Paul, what the hell happened?”
Paul shook his head, “It was too strong. Stronger than we ever imagined. We were split up, it chased me so I thought it let Tessa go. I barely managed to get away myself.”

Fred rushed over to him, “You shouldn’t be in here, you need to sit down, rest.”
Paul looked at him, “no, I don’t want to leave her.” he shrugged off Feds hand and approached the bed, he sat down beside Tessa’s body. Gently he reached out and stroked her face. There was a sudden, wet ripping sound as Paul’s other hand forced its way through Tessa’s stomach. “She has something of mine. Something valuable.” Paul’s hand groped around blindly for a moment, Fred felt bile rising in the back of his throat. Paul pulled his hand from her stomach, it was coated in blood and gore, he held something small in his fingers, he rubbed it against the sheets, cleaning it. As he held it up again Fred saw it was a small, metal ball. Paul stood from the bed, “Thank you for letting me get on with my work. It makes everything so much easier when people cooperate.”
Fred opened his mouth, then closed it. “I knew eventually they’d come after me if I just killed enough people. They were always so protective of their kind.”

Fred’s heartbeat filled his ears, he felt light-headed, he turned to run.
“There’s no point in running, I’ll always find you. You’ve been marked.” He held his hand out flat, the metal ball resting in the centre of it. It rose from his palm then shot after Fred.

Fred reached out for the door handle, he pulled the door open and ran out into the fresh air, there was no sound of pursuit behind him. Ahead of him he could see his car, he was so close to freedom, he was going to make it. The metal ball hit the back of Fred’s head, it exploded almost instantly his body dropped to the ground with a heavy thud. The ball stopped, hovered for a moment then sped off back to Paul.

A Chair Fit for a King. Flash Fiction.

The throne was made of iron with a thin gilding of gold, over time it had worn away along the arms of the throne, but the rest shone brightly. Ornately carved vines twisted their way around it, sprouting leaves and flowers along the way while delicately carved animals gambolled and frolicked, the carvings were so intricate and small that it would take hours of viewing to see them all. Despite the small nature of the designs they did not look overcrowded or busy, instead it was a delicious feast for the eyes. Jonathan sat upon the throne, though it had been years since had seen it properly he still remembered the carvings, as a child he would sneak it and gaze at them all until he was finally caught and shooed away by one of the servants. The ropes that bound him to the throne were made of material that felt like soft velvet, but they were stronger than steel. He had spent many hours struggling against them, as the raised scars on his wrists and ankles could attest to. The one across his chest hadn’t done much damage, but that was mostly because he couldn’t move his chest all that much, there was just enough room for him to breathe deeply. Every morning and evening servants came and bathed him with cool, damp cloths, they would empty his waste bucket which was artfully hidden by small black curtains that were pulled tightly closed between the legs of the throne. He had been sitting here for almost twenty years, his legs had already atrophied, more thin sticks of bone and skin than anything. His stomach hung heavily in his lap, he ate frequently, it was the only thing that helped pass the time. As a child he had looked upon it as a noble sacrifice, despite his fathers insistence that it was awful, but Jonathan could not understand how awful it truly was, not until he too was bound to it on his sixteenth birthday, the day his own father died of infection along the sores of his back and buttocks. The chair still smelled of rot and damp and sweat when they tied him into it. Somewhere along the dark and dimly remembered halls of the palace a clock struck ten, soon it would be time for the Royal Maiden, she would come nightly until she conceived another child. Jonathan found the act itself more one of duty than pleasure, he didn’t like the way he couldn’t move his body to match her rhythm, or reach out and stroke one hand softly down her back. No, it was nothing more than a mechanical act, he did it simply because it was his duty.

He heard a noise in the darkness, he didn’t bother looking to see what it was, probably another servant. He remembered his father calling out, his voice booming in the large room and echoing through the halls, asking if it was an assassin come to finally end him. Jonathan had never entertained the hope, why would he? There hadn’t been an assassination in over seven hundred years and even then it could be argued that it was more a case of a bad chef than an intentional killing. A servant walked into view carrying a tray, he hadn’t realised it was already time for his evening meal. Time stretched out endlessly here, but it was a duty that needed to be fulfilled. The people were bound to him, just as he was bound to them.

Moth to the Flame. Flash Fiction.

Liam stood in the middle of the field, staring at the fire. The sky was a dull grey, it had been threatening rain since the morning and a cold wind had been blowing steadily all day. He shivered and moved closer to the fire. The flames jumped and danced, blues and yellows and reds all competing for dominance, it was mesmerising. The fire had appeared two days before, he had spotted the strange flickering light and had come to investigate, there was no smoke and as far as he could tell nothing was actually burning. The fire seemed to be on the grass but the grass was unmarked, there were no scorch marks, no burned circle, nothing. Since he had found it he woke each morning and made the trek out to it, about an hours walk in all, and each night he would walk home. The fire never seemed to grow or diminish and it gave off a pleasant heat even when you were standing right next to it. Liam pulled one hand from his pocket and slowly moved it over the top of the fire, it felt warm and comfortable, he held his hand a few inches above the flames and it was the same. He pulled his hand back and stared at the palm, expecting to see scorch marks or ash but his palm was smooth and clean. He took a slow breath, pulled up his sleeve, then carefully moved one trembling hand into the fire. Still it didn’t burn. He watched the flames lick his finger and palms, watched as it flicked up along his wrist. Liam pulled his hand out and started at it, why wasn’t he burnt?

The flames jumped higher for a moment, startling Liam, he looked up and realised the night had fallen, how long had he been standing here? Dark clouds covered the sky in every direction. He could hear noise in the distance, a steady, heavy clanking that was steadily getting closer. He reached into his pocket and took out his phone, it was dead. He squinted into the darkness, he knew it would be dangerous to cross the field at night, it was rocky and full of places just waiting to trip the unwitting, but he didn’t like the sound of the clanking, it sent shivers up his spine and made it feel as though something was squirming inside his stomach. Without hesitation he turned and began to walk slowly into the darkness. As he walked he kept his hands out in front of him, he carefully dragged his feet along the ground, testing for anything that might trip him, by the time he reached the hedging the noise was almost unbearably loud. He turned and looked back, the fire was still burning, but there was something else too, something immense and hulking. Flickers of light danced off metal, as he watched a large hand reached out and carefully cupped the fire, blocking out most of the light. There was the rusty creak of hinges and then the fire was visible again, illuminating the creature. Liam gasped in horror, the creatures hands and legs were made of rusted and pitted metal, the body of the creature was made of what appeared to be crushed human bodies, arms and legs stuck out from the creatures stomach at odd angles, he could see faces dotted through out, some of them were opening and closing their mouths as though trying to speak, others looked like they were screaming but no sound came out. He spotted other limbs sticking out from the arms and legs, poking out between gaps in the metal. The darkness kept the creatures head in shadow, for which Liam was thankful. Slowly the creature turned, the screech of old metal filling the air, and then it began to lumber back the way it came. Liam stayed still until after the sounds finally faded, it was only when dawn began to break on the horizon that he felt safe enough to move. He walked home quickly, jumping at sudden noises, he had this awful feeling that the creature was hiding somewhere, waiting for him.
He turned into his driveway, feeling himself relax, he was almost home and he was safe. He stopped in the middle of the driveway, the fire was burning merrily on his front doorstep. He approached it slowly, he felt as though he was being watched, as if that creature was just waiting to pounce on him. He paused at the fire then looked around the garden, there was no where that thing could be hiding and no sign that it had even been here. Maybe the fires were spontaneous rather than controlled by it? He reached out and put his hand over it, he was cold after the night outside and the soft heat was quite comforting. The flames suddenly rose up and wrapped themselves around his hand, Liam cried out in surprise and tried to pull his hand back, but it wouldn’t move. He struggled against the fire but his arm was stuck. He called out for help, already knowing that no one would hear him, his closest neighbours were two miles away. He continued to struggle against the fire as it moved up his arm and spread across his chest, before long he was covered in it and completely immobile. In the distance he could hear that harsh clanking sound and it was steadily getting closer.

Through the Cracks. Short Story.

“Hey, was that there before?”
“What?”
“That big crack over there in the rock, it’s new isn’t it?”
Sarah turned and looked to where Harry was pointing, “Yeah, maybe. I never noticed it before anyway.” She turned back and took another bite of her sandwich.
“Look at the size of it though, it’s huge!”
Sarah swallowed her food, “so?”
There was silence. She looked behind herself and found she was alone, “Harry?” there was no answer. A faint breeze picked up, carrying with it the rustle of the trees and the sound of the children playing in the nearby playground.
“C’mon Harry this isn’t funny, I only get half an hour for lunch, I don’t want to waste it because you’re dicking around. I already gave up a fancy lunch in the office to have lunch with you. Stop messing around Harry!”

Harry picked himself up off the ground, as he stood he brushed off his jeans with his hands, well, that was stupid. Thankfully no one had actually seen him go on his ass, he was sure it looked hilarious. He wasn’t even sure how he’d managed to do it, he was leaning into the weird crack in the rock, it seemed impossibly deep and then somehow he’d lost his footing. Obviously he’d gotten turned around during the fall, he looked up, expecting to see Sarah laughing at him, but she wasn’t there. He frowned, “Sarah? Where are you? I’m not that boring am I?” he glanced down at himself, looking for injuries, he hadn’t hurt himself during the fall, not really, and he didn’t have any memory gaps, at least not that he could tell. “Sarah?” There was nothing. He took a few steps forward, their stuff was gone too, their food and his coffee were no longer on the stone bench Sarah had been sitting on. Sure he’d been distracted by the crack in the wall, but not enough to not notice her leaving. Maybe she was hiding, getting ready to jump out at him, it wouldn’t be the first time she’d done that. He turned in a slow circle, scanning the trees. There was no sign of her. Sighing he pulled out his phone, getting ready to ring her. No service. He sighed, “Ok, I get it, very funny. C’mon I want to have my lunch, I’ve to be back soon…Sarah?” He felt a thin thread of unease winding its way through his stomach. Something wasn’t right about this place, but he couldn’t quite place it. Somewhere a bird cawed, causing him to jump. He shook his head and chuckled, he was just being stupid. Sarah was around here somewhere. Maybe he’d gotten all turned around when he fell, he turned and froze, there was just rock behind him, as it had been every day before today. No cracks, nothing at all. He ran his hand over the rock, it was smooth and cold despite the heat of the sun. He must have gotten disorientated or hit his head when he fell. Sure this place looked almost identical to their usual spot, but then there were so many of these little seating areas dotted about the park, he must have wandered away without realising it. Sarah was probably freaking out too, he glanced around but couldn’t see any obvious place he’d have come from. After a second of indecision he started walking towards the path. It was the same as he always remembered, a slight curve through some trees, then into a large seating area. This was a large square that had been cut into the rock, the floor had been slightly smoothed, around it were benches, the square had one exit in each side, a path meandering from each one into the trees. The square was completely empty, normally there were always one or two people here at the very least. He stood in the middle of the square, trying to remember the last time he had seen it empty. He turned and looked at the path he had just come from, it was definitely the path that he always took. The feeling of unease grew deeper, something strange was happening but he couldn’t figure out what, there was no logical explanation. Sarah wouldn’t just leave him lying there if he was knocked out and that didn’t explain what had happened to the other people. Maybe this was a dream or some kind of delusion brought about by a knock on the head. He pinched the back of his hand, wincing at the pain of it. What ever was happening he wasn’t dreaming.

Harry started walking again, he couldn’t just stay standing around in the park forever. He’d get to the bottom of what was happening one way or another. He walked down the small path that brought him out into a larger part of the park. As he walked out from behind the screen of trees he stopped. Everything was overgrown, he hadn’t noticed it so much when it was just trees, but he could see it clearly now, the concrete paths still meandered through the park, but now the neatly maintained grass was growing rampant, it was at least three feet tall, if not taller and mixed throughout were tall weeds. Another gust of wind came, rattling its way through the trees, with it he realised what was missing. Sound. Sure there were birds calling out to one another and the lazy, low buzz of bees, but beyond that there was nothing. No children laughing and screaming in the playground, no dogs barking, not even the sound of traffic from the city that surrounded it. A ripple of goose bumps made its way up and down his body. Where the hell was he? After a minute he started to follow the path, after all he had no other options and he knew how to get back to where he had first appeared.

When he reached the street he paused, abandoned cars littered the road, some were parked, most seemed to have just been left. Some of the shops had smashed windows, but for the most part everything looked intact. There were no bodies and not much in way of rubbish, though he could see plants starting to take hold in the cracks of the pathways. He raised his hands to his mouth “Hello!” the noise of his voice seemed impossibly loud as it echoed off the buildings around him, almost as soon as he had shouted he regretted it. It felt wrong to be making so much noise here, like it would attract the wrong kind of attention, though he had no idea as to what that might be. Suddenly he felt very exposed standing out in the open like this. He quickly moved over to the doors of a shopping centre, they had been left open and pools of water had gathered on the tile floor, the carpet at the entrance was sodden and covered in green moss. Most of the shops had their shutters open, though without the lights it was eerily dark inside and Harry was reluctant to go in any further. The skylights in the ceiling provided a good amount of light in the main part, but each of the shops looked like a large, looming maw, ready to consume those unwary enough to enter. Harry jumped as he heard something, a faint noise, like someone shuffling their way across concrete. He froze, trying to listen over the sound of his own heart booming in his ears. What ever it was, it sounded like it was coming from outside. He peeked around the entrance and scanned the street, he couldn’t see anyone or anything. Maybe it was just an animal, with the city apparently abandoned they’d have to be breeding like crazy, though he had yet to actually see anything larger than a bird. His stomach grumbled sullenly, he wished he had just sat down and eaten his lunch before this had all started, it might not have prevented it but at least he wouldn’t be hungry now. He moved deeper into the shopping centre, scanning all around him as he did so. Everything seemed to be in surprisingly good condition, things were damp and a little mouldy but nothing as bad as he would have expected. Up ahead he knew there was a supermarket and hopefully some canned food he could eat. He walked in the middle of the thoroughfare, not wanting to get too close to any of the shops. He turned the corner and saw the supermarket up ahead. He stopped ten feet from the entrance, visions of zombies lurching after him suddenly came to mind. He took a deep breath and told himself he was being ridiculous, then stopped. Was it though? He was in another world completely unlike his own where humans had apparently just vanished, leaving behind nothing, not even corpses. He could see food stacked up inside, another thought struck him, the entire place should stink of rot and decay but it didn’t, it smelled a little musty, but nothing close to what it should be like. He moved a little closer to the food, fruit was stacked in containers against the wall, none of them appeared to be rotting, where were the animals? The flies? The mould? Anything at all. He gently reached out and prodded an apple, he expected his finger to just sink into the flesh, the apple was hard. His finger knocked it from the pile and it fell to the ground, it bounced once or twice then rolled further into the darkness. Harry took a step back, then looked around himself, he felt like he was being watched. There was something off about the food, it wasn’t rotting, he couldn’t eat any of it, it could be dangerous and the stuff in cans might be no better. He could deal with the hunger for a little while. Besides, it was getting time to figure out how to get home. He started to turn, then paused, he spotted a row of newspapers, without moving too much closer he scanned the headlines. They seemed like normal enough articles, nothing about disease or war. Most of the headlines were gossipy and inconsequential, one talked about some singer he was vaguely aware of and something about their twitter beef over an award. The only one that seemed to be in any way of note proclaimed “The Hunt for the Woodsman Killer Continues!”, it made him feel a bit uneasy and he had no interest in reading into it further. He turned from the display and Harry walked out of the shopping centre quickly, scanning the shops as he passed, the feeling of being watched was only growing stronger with each passing second. He paused at the entrance then carefully peered out at the street, it was empty as far as he could see, and there was no sign of anyone in the other shops. He stepped outside into the street, feeling very exposed.

Back in the park Harry walked along the familiar path, the feeling of being watched was still there but not as strong, every few feet he looked around himself, it was the only way to keep himself calm. He tried to keep his breathing slow and steady, he could feel panic bubbling just under the surface and he knew he couldn’t give in. Part of him was still curious as to where this place was and what happened, but the curiosity wasn’t strong enough to keep him there. He glanced behind himself and froze, someone was standing in the tall grass, watching him. It was a man of about average height, he was too far away to make out his face correctly, but something felt wrong about it. Harry’s heart was beating heavily in his chest, “Hello?” The man didn’t respond, nor did he move. “I’m just passing through ok. I won’t give you any trouble.” The man just kept watching him. Harry took a step backwards, not taking his eyes off the man, the man didn’t move. Unsure what to do, Harry turned and started walking, picking up the pace a little. He glanced behind himself again, the man hadn’t moved from his spot. Harry felt himself relax a little, maybe he’d just be left alone and he could get back to where everything was sane and normal again. Back to the real world. Just before he reached the trees he looked back, the man was gone. There was no sign of him. Harry felt a sudden, sick feeling in his stomach, at least before he knew where the man was, whatever his intentions had been. He took a slow breath, he needed to stay calm, rational. The man had probably been following him for a while now and could have attacked him at any point. He was probably just some guy trying to survive after what ever had happened here. Heart still thudding in his chest he turned and walked into the trees.

Back at the rock, he ran his hands over it again, trying to find where the crack had been. It had been here, he knew it was, it had to be and it had to be how he had gotten here, it was the only thing he could think of that made sense. There was a faint sound behind him, Harry spun, the man was standing at the end of the path. Harry moaned, now that the man was closer he could see what was wrong with him. His face was blank, where there should have been eyes or a mouth was smooth skin, someone had drawn on top of the mans face crudely adding eyes, red lips and small black dots around the nose for nostrils. From a distance it was realistic enough that you wouldn’t notice it. Harry’s back hit the cold rock and he realised he had been backing away from it, it took a step towards him, then another. The man raised his hands slowly, Harry saw he was wearing oddly misshapen gloves, gingerly the man plucked at the fingers of one and pulled it away. Harry’s stomach clenched as he saw the mans fingers, each one had a thin, sharp blade along the length of it, they glittered in the sunlight and seemed to be part of the mans flesh. The man took another step forward, Harry saw that the mans fake mouth was doing something, stretching out, shifting. After a second he realised the man, the thing, what ever it was was trying to smile. Harry moaned as a slit appeared on the mans face, stretching out the fake lips, revealing rows of sharp, inwardly hooked teeth. It lunged at him, the blades sunk into his flesh, Harry started to scream and he wouldn’t stop for a long, long time.

A Beautiful Gift. Flash Fiction.

Christina opened the small package, she reached inside and pulled out a wad of paper, followed by another, her hands hit something hard and cold, she wrapped her hand around it and pulled out a small glass sculpture. She turned it in her hands, studying every inch of it, watching the way the light bounced off the colours, following the swirls and whorls with her eyes. It really was a beautiful piece, even if it was a fairly simple design. She put the glass onto the table and looked back at the box, there was no note that she could see, no receipt or card, nothing to indicate who had sent it to her. She emptied out the box to be sure, then refilled it with the balls of paper and closed it over. She looked at the label again, it was definitely addressed to her. Maybe it was Joe? He liked to surprise her with small things like this when they were dating, it could have been something he had ordered months ago and forgot about. It wouldn’t be the first time it happened. She considered ringing him for a moment then shook her head, no good would come of that phone call. He’d probably take it as a sign or something, he had only begun to stop pestering her in the last month or so.

She picked up the glass again and turned it over, looking for a sticker or mark that might tell her where it came from or who made it, but there was nothing. The light glinted through the swirls of colour and caught her eye again. At first glance it appeared simple enough, but the more she looked at it, the more she could sense a kind of depth to it. The colours really were beautiful and it almost seemed like they were shifting constantly inside it. As she placed it on the table she felt a sharp sting in her finger, Christina snatched her hand away, sticking her finger into her mouth. After a second she looked at the cut, it was small, almost like she had been stuck with a pin. She felt a little woozy looking at the blood, she always had a thing about that. She took a step towards the cupboard, she needed a plaster from the first aid box, she took another step, the kitchen seemed to list to the left, then the right, the entire room was tilting back and forth, Christina felt herself falling and then there was darkness.

She woke a short time later, feeling sore and disorientated. Why was everything cold? She blinked her eyes, trying to fix whatever was wrong with them, she wasn’t seeing things right, couldn’t be seeing things right. Had she been crying? Everything looked fractured and out of place. She tried to move and her entire body ached painfully, she let out a groan but there was no sound. She tried to move but she could only wriggle a little before something was stopping her. A face appeared above her, it was all twisted and strange, a large hand descended over her eyes, she felt something warm wrap around her and then the giant was looking directly into her eyes. There was something familiar about it. She could hear words, they were sharp and painful to her ear. “I’m sorry. It was the only way. You’ll see.” She recognised that voice, it was joe. “We’re meant to be together, forever. It was the only way.” He moved past the mirror  and she she caught a glimpse of herself, no, not herself. He held the glass sculpture in his hands, not her. How was that possible? She had to be dreaming, it was just some kind of weird nightmare and any second she would wake up on the cold tile of the kitchen floor. Joe put her down on the table, she watched as a large finger moved towards her, she saw the brilliant splash of blood as he cut his finger. She watched as he fell backwards, his eyes closing. Pain all around her, magnificently bright, it felt like she was being crushed on all sides. She could feel something stabbing through her body, she screamed silently as she was torn apart, her body pierced by Joe’s.

Christina looked out at the world, she couldn’t move, couldn’t speak. All she could do was exist in this constant burning agony. She knew Joe was in here too, crammed through her body as she was crammed through his, but they couldn’t communicate. Could talk or touch. All she could do was stare out at the world and hope that someone, anyone, would knock the cursed glass sculpture over and perhaps, when it shattered into a million pieces, she would be shattered too and she would know blessed peace from this never-ending hell.

Beneath the Surface. Flash Fiction.

Jessica looked down at the swirling water below, the road was quiet now and the sound of the rushing water was oddly alluring. She was unable to look away from the glittering surface of the water. She felt the cold metal of the bridge on her hand, but it didn’t really register, suddenly wind was rushing past her as she fell. She hit the water with barely a splash, the shock of it startling her from her trance. She struggled against the current as it tried to pull her deeper, her water logged clothes were too heavy, the water was too cold, already she was exhausted. A face appeared in the dark water, that of a woman, she smiled at Jessica, Jessica felt hands gripping her face, pulling her towards the other woman. Their lips met for a brief second and then the woman was gone. Water filled Jessica’s lungs, but it didn’t burn like she expected it to, already the exhaustion was fading from her limbs, her body began to move through the water with ease. Jessica broke the surface and gasped for air, but it burned. She coughed and spluttered, it felt as though she couldn’t breathe. As she sank beneath the surface again she struggled for one last gasp of air, inhaling water instead. Immediately she felt relief. She took another breath and another.

The body of the woman washed up along the riverbank, as it hit the air it began to rot, within a minute her body was gone, leaving nothing but bones and after a few minutes they too blew away on the wind.

Punishment. Short Story.

Kelly had her hands wrapped around her tea mug, the woman across from her hadn’t touched her own cup. They sat in the small kitchen, light streaming through the window above the sink, outside birds chirped over the gentle rumble of traffic.
“Are you sure this is what you want?”
“Yes. I want him to suffer, I want him to know what it’s like.”
Kelly took the hairbrush from the woman and placed it on the counter, “There can be some blowback from this kind of thing, you might get hit with something too.”
“I don’t care. He ruined my life, my parents won’t speak to me, I was fired from my job. At this point it couldn’t make things worse.”
Kelly nodded, “Ok, I’ll get started then. Any specific requests?”
“Just make it awful. Maybe something to do with his looks, he always was a vain bastard.”
Kelly nodded, “I have a few ideas. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure he’s punished.”
The woman reached into her bag and pulled out an envelope, “It’s all there.” Kelly took the envelope and slipped it into her pocket without checking.
“If there are any side effects for you I can’t change them, or fix them. Things will just have to run their course.”
The woman nodded, “Don’t worry, I won’t come back complaining. I know the risks. When will it start happening?”
“This evening.”
The woman nodded, “Thank you.”

The room was small, but it had more than enough room for what she needed, the walls and floors were painted a bright white. In the middle of the floor was a bowl of dark liquid, a circle was drawn around it, seven candles were placed along the edge of the circle, the ground and candles both had arcane symbols on them. Kelly sat down in front of the bowl and pulled some hair from the brush, it was shorter than she would have liked, but it would do. She dropped the strands of hair into the bowl of dark liquid and started chanting, the liquid in the bowl rippled slightly, then lay still. A short man stood in front of her, “What is it this time?”
“Need a guy punished, cheated on his girlfriend, spread around her nudes, got her fired, her parents won’t speak to her.”
“OK, any requests?”
“Something about his looks. I suggest making him fat, maybe some acne.”
“Yeah, they’re good. I could just remove his skin though.”
“I think that might be a little too far.”
“Hmm, you’re right, too suspicious, what about a disfiguring disease? Like leprosy”
“We’ve a cure for that now.”
“Not for the kind of leprosy I’d give him.”
“We’re not trying to kill him.”
“Says you. I get a commission on everyone I kill, I need to wet my beak every now and then you know.”
“I know, but she wants him to suffer, she didn’t say she wanted him dead.”
“Why not both? I could drive him to suicide, be the voice in his ear.”
Kelly shrugged, “We both know I can’t really control what you do once you’re set loose on someone, if you want that go for it, the only request was suffering.”
“And the woman? She knows about the potential blowback?”
“I explained it to her, she’s aware of the risk.”
“Good. I’ve some nasty things in mind, there’s bound to be a few hiccups on the way.”
“Do whatever you need to.”
The man smiled at her, “Thank you for this gift, I will cherish it.” With that he was gone. Kelly tidied up the bowl and blew out the candles that were burning. She had known him for twenty years now and he always got results. He’d be gone for a few hours while he sorted everything out, then he’d come back to give her an overview. It was always good to have something to tell the client, even if most of them never came back after the first meeting.

Kelly was sipping a cup of tea when he appeared again, sitting across from her in her kitchen. “It’s done.”
“Oh?”
“He’s going to start gaining weight and he’ll have some terrible acne. In about a week or so he’s going to screw up royally and get fired, no one else will touch him with a ten foot pole when I’m done. I’ve given him a few choice STD’s, I’m just going to let them run their course. He’s going to develop a nasty coke habit and lose pretty much everything. He’s going to get robbed and beaten a few times, maybe tortured a little. Then it will all end in some sad little motel somewhere with a gun or a knife. I’m leaning more towards knife as it’s more poetic, he can cut up his face a little, maybe try peel it off. I mean who knows what the drugs will do to him?”
Kelly nodded, “And the woman?”
“She’ll get an STD or two, I was able to shield her from the worst of it, she’s in a bad place, ripe for a drug addiction or three. If she goes near him she’ll get sucked down with him, if she stays away she should be fine.”
“I’ll make sure to tell her.”
“I prefer it when you don’t. More fun and exciting that way.”
The man disappeared, Kelly closed her eyes for a second, they always felt weird when he did that. As usual she tried to recall what he looked like, but she could never remember specifics, part of her suspected that he changed his appearance each time. He was always friendly enough to her, but Kelly knew that was just a lie, he was waiting for her to slip up, so he could escape, but she wouldn’t let that happen, her mother had taught her well.

Crawling from the Earth. Flash Fiction.

There was a gentle rumble along the ground, a crack appeared in the dry soil, slowly it expanded until it was almost three feet across. The rumbling died down and everything was still, a long, impossibly thin hand reached from the hole and grasped at the soil, it pulled itself upwards until finally it was free. The creature was ten feet tall, a mottled black and red, its body was similar to that of a human, if one had been stretched out on a rack. It looked around, squinting in the harsh sun, after a moment it started walking. Behind it another crack opened in the ground, then another. The creature didn’t slow nor look back, it just kept walking. The second one peered after the first, then began to walk too, this time going in a different direction. All around it more holes were opening up and more creatures were clawing their way to the surface.

After an hour the creatures stopped coming, the ground was littered with tears, there was another gentle rumble and all the holes began to close over until there was no evidence of them to begin with.

The creature moved steadily, never stopping or pausing for rest, occasionally it would spot an animal in the distance and take off running, its long legs enabling it to catch up quickly. Once it had the animal in its grasp it would tear at its flesh, ripping off chunks and devouring them quickly. With each meal it seemed to shrink slightly, the colours of its skin evening out, the features becoming less sharp and jagged.

The creature stretched, it wasn’t used to this body yet, it was certain it would blend in with the humans, but it held no concern if it didn’t, its kind didn’t feel pain, not in the same way these things did. Besides, even if it was caught there were hundreds, thousands of them already out there. The humans wouldn’t catch them all. In the distance it could see the glittering buildings of a city, the creature began to walk towards it, smiling as it went.