Hello, Darkness Lurkers and Nightowls!
Did you hear that? What do you think it was? Have you heard anything like that? I want to check it out, but I don’t want to go alone… can you come with me? But you’re going first, because…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
Little Sounds in the Night
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
Ah, nothing like lying in bed, peaceful and snug and almost asleep… and then hearing a creak in the hall when no one should be out there. Was it your imagination? Was it the family pet? Maybe dad is getting some water? Are you brave enough to go investigate?
There are plenty of things that make noise in the night, and just as many stories can be conjured up from such an idea. Perhaps a thief has snuck in through a window in search of money or jewels, but wasn’t counting on such a lavish house to have such creaky floors. Maybe a young child is unable to sleep because of the storm outside, and the wind is causing the house to settle. It creaks and groans under the force, making the little one hide under their blanket with their stuffed toy guardian. Or maybe you choose a group of friends having a slumber party, and decided horror movies right before bed was a fantastic idea.
What if those little sounds are from something not so small? A tiny, faint scratching at the door. Must just be the cat, right? But then you open the door, and something else is standing there. Something much bigger, and much more eldritch looking. Maybe you write about someone woken from their slumber by their sibling sleepwalking. Or perhaps instead of sleepwalking, they’re sundowning. It could even be as simple as a child sneaking out of bed at two in the morning for cookies, completely forgetting how every step makes their little ankles crack.
One tiny, out of place sound is all it is, but oh, how it can make the imagination wander and spiral out of control.
So go on. What are you waiting for? Get your flashlight, put your feet on the floor, and go check it out. I’m sure the under-bed lurkers will thank you later.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
Tune into the stream this Saturday at 3:00pm CST to see if you made the cut!
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Rules and Guidelines
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Cold dew settles on my shoulders as I look up at the fiery-orange sky. Slowly, it turns crimson as the sun vanishes behind the hillside—strewn with the yellow, red, and brown splotches of late autumn—to my west. The dark blue of night slowly crawls over the heavens, slowly unveiling the brighter of stars as the sun sinks below the horizon accompanied by the last songs of the birds. Somewhere a crow lets out a lonely caw. At last, the voices of the birds give way to an orchestra of chittering bats and chirping crickets and night finally lays its dark veil over the world. I look down the empty street. Blurs of shadows now hide the rubble that is strewn about every corner of the town, and the empty window frames of the surrounding houses stare down on me like the hollow orbs of a fleshless skull.
I bow down to pick my backpack off the ground when I hear a light scratch to my left. It sounds like the tiny claws of a careless rat, although the sound has a deepness to it that seems suggests something bigger. Perhaps just a rat in one of the knocked-over rubbish bins. My heart squeezes slightly in my chest as I back away from the origin of the sound and, when nothing jumps at me from the darkness, turn to make my way through the rubble-littered streets back to my decrepit family home in my desolate childhood town. A muffled thud makes my head jerk around so suddenly that I nearly lose my balance. My heart jolts with trepidation. I squint as though I could then better penetrate the nightly shadows.
Minutes pass as the air steadily cools, and apart from the chirping crickets and the lonesome call of an owl the night is quiet once more. Despite my racing heart, a laugh escapes me.
They were just little sounds in the night.
Or so I tell myself.
“Scratching at the Doors”
[An entry in the field journal of Francis Plantagenet, Captain General of the Inquisitorial Dæmon Hunters]:
First night of our vigil in the American state of Arizona. As I began preparations to retire for the night, I heard a tapping at the window. The untrained might have thought it was merely the branches of trees or grains of loose soil, caught in a sudden breeze. I know better.
Sure enough, the door to my bedchamber was thrust open, and in came Michaël.
With a salute, he began to speak, “Captain General. It has come to my attention that Private Thomas has laxed in his blessing of the perimeter.”
I responded, “I’ve noticed. We will have to decide on a penance after the expedition.”
“I am afraid,” he said, “that he has already reaped the fruit of his negligence.” Michaël’s eyes lowered. I would only later find the body of poor Thomas, his skin flayed off, apparently while he still lived. How his screams were kept from us I cannot say, such is the danger of our foes.
“I see. Let us pray, then, for his swift passage into Heaven.” Thus, we held a minute of silent prayer for our fallen soldier. “Rouse the others if they’re not already aware. There’ll be no rest tonight, it seems.”
Michaël gave another salute, and departed. The night was spent in tense vigilance. Cries and howls echoed in the night, some more animalistic and others too human. Sebastian thought he heard the sobs of his mother, five years deceased. At the edge of the cabin’s lights, shapes haunted our vision – twisted forms of beast and man that stalked like hyenas in the cold night – filling the air with an odor of blood and rot.
Among the horrors, I know I saw the face of Thomas, stretched and distorted over a canid muzzle in a sickening grin.
The confrontation subsided by morning, and we wasted no time in blessing the perimeter, and steeled ourselves for the nights to come.
[End of entry.]
Mr. Teddy wants to play
The small child woke up to the sound of small footsteps and giggling. He pulled his covers tighter around himself wondering what could be making that noise. As he woke up he realized the sound was coming from next to his bed and his teddy bear was missing. Finally curiosity got the better of the child and he leaned his head over the edge of the bed. On the floor was Mr. Teddy. He was the one walking around and giggling.
The child reached out to the bear, “Mr. Teddy, you’re alive? What are you doing out of bed?”
The bear stopped dancing and looked at the child with a grin slowly coming across its face, “Hello Timothy. I wanted to go for a little walk but now that you’re awake we can play.”
Timothy picked up the bear and hugged it to him tight, “You scared me at first Mr. Teddy. I thought you were a monster. We can’t play right now though. It’s sleepy time. We can play in the morning.”
The bear’s eyes turned red as it hugged the child back. Tighter and tighter it squeezed with far more strength than any stuffed animal should possess. The child’s breath started to come out in wheezes, “No Timothy it’s time to play now.”
The child woke up again screaming. He looked around wildly for Mr. Teddy and found him laying right next to him like normal. It had just been a bad dream. The child snuggled into his bear now, “It was just a bad dream. You’re not alive right Mr. Teddy?”
The child saw a red glow coming from the bear’s eyes
Silvia was fully alert, miles away from her tribe’s village located in the heart of the Howling Woods. She had fled the night before, slept high in the trees during the safety of the daylight, and now picks her way carefully through the knarled tree trunks and wild underbrush. Every few minutes she pauses to sniff the air and her ears never stop swiveling. These woods are known for its wolves. Luckily, the moonlight is bright enough to see by. Barely.
She drops to her stomach, wincing slightly as white-hot pain radiates from her shoulder blades. Focus. The sound came from ahead and slightly to her right. Roughly 80 feet away. She strains her ears but there’s nothing but the wind.
Curiosity wins over what little self-preservation Silvia has left and she begins her slow crawl toward the noise. 20 feet later another SNAP pierces the air and she freezes. Calculates. Whatever is making them isn’t moving. Odd. She closes another 15 feet with excruciating slowness, pulling her way under bushes and brambles, biting her tongue to not cry out in pain when her wings get snagged. The fifth time they get caught she decides to make her way using the intertwined lower branches of the forest.
Part of her notes that these branches aren’t as tightly woven as the ones in her village; part of her recoils at the thought of her village in general. A much larger part of her notes the smell of cooked meats nearby. Fear forgotten, curiosity strong, Silvia pushes through to the source of the noises and finds herself in a small clearing occupied by a human… who isn’t screaming at the sight of her or cursing her like she’s used to. She blinks at him, stunned. He blinks back.
“Hello.” His voice is… kind. She’s more confused. “Are you hungry?”
She nods and he smiles with delight.
“You can understand me then?”
“…yes.” Her voice is quiet, uncertain.
“That’s amazing.” She’s never heard that word before. It sounds… not mean. Maybe he’s a friend.
The Sound of Heartbreak (C.W. child abandonment)
Paldacer’s fur bristled against the cold, and he held his treasure closer to his chest. The angry voices had died off long ago, replaced by the soft crunch of snow under hoof. His weary eyes scanned the forest for any sign of shelter. Surely the must be a cave or something… there. The glow of fire drew him close like a lost dog to its master’s voice.
It was a small inn, typical of those along the roadside. A carved wooden sign with the image of a spotted boar’s head creaked as it swung gently in the night breeze. Paldacer’s lips eased into a relieved smile… they’d be safe here…
Then the muffled clinking of glasses and laughter rang out from inside and snapped him out of his stupor. Those voices… belonged to humans. He shuffled to behind a pine tree and slumped against it, cursing his luck. His eyes drifted from his newborn foal’s sleeping face to the tattoos on his arms. Green marks screaming to all louder than his bestial form ever could.
Here be a monster. Fear him.
A monster who dared to love a human woman too recklessly. And… now…
His daughter’s weak whimper brought his eyes back to her. “I know it’s cold,” He whispered and rested his forehead against hers. “There is no shelter for me here, but….” He looked back at the inn, hope stirring courage within. “They might have grace for a monster’s daughter….”
His heart screamed at him with each step towards the door.
No. Don’t do this. Don’t let her go. She needs you.
He pulled off his shirt and wrapped his foal tenderly in it over her swaddling cloth. His arms felt heavier than stone as he gently set her down on the steps. He closed his eyes and kissed her forehead for… possibly the last time.
“I promise to always watch over you, my treasure.” He whispered before tearing himself away to knock on the door. He then hid behind the corner of the building as the door opened.
A woman gasped. A man spoke. A child cried.
The children of the night
A story by Dreamer of worlds
Ethan lay in his bed watching the tattered purple curtains flicked from this way to that. He sighed frustrated at his inability to sleep shattering the deafening silence that had persisted all evening. He clambered out from under his blue football duvet and made his way towards the door of his room. He reached towards the door handle but snatched it back when a tiny scratching came from what seemed to be the other side of his door.
“Is someone there?” He whispered. The scratching stopped but there was no answer. Ethan frowned and gave a small shudder, his parents should be asleep. “Moses?” He asked, The family cat moses had never asked to sleep with him before he opened the door wincing as it creaked open. Suddenly the door was slammed into him and Ethan stumbled back as something made its way into his room.
Ethan dived towards his bed and looked back at the thing and froze. The thing was around the same size as him and had black flaky skin that left a blackened trail wherever it walked. Long claws hung limply from thick scaled hands twin tails twisted and turned behind it as if performing dance. The most unhuman part of it was its face. Snake like slits housed neon green eyes which stared cunningly at him. A thin line with no lips showed teeth like knives stuck unevenly from its mouth.
It advanced till a few paces away from him blocking the door. It made a deep throated noise. It took Ethan a few moments to realize it had said “you will join us” Before being able to object, the thing bared its teeth and lunged.
After The Slaying
Adrian limped from the ruins of the gothic castle, the bloody stake cracking in his white knuckles. The deed was finally done. The devil of the night was dead. The hordes of the night were without a master. The people were safe.
Exhaustion and blood loss finally overtook him. Adrian collapsed in the woods, his chainmail losing whatever cohesion it was holding on to. His weapons and vials of holy water unhooked from his belt, the boiling blood of his latest triumph rotting them to nothing, his holy symbols of the Lady of the Night fell to the barren earth.
The silence around him didn’t last long. He felt them more than heard them; the last vestiges of adrenaline keeping him alert and aware. The snarls and growls of the wolves. The shambling and shuffling that was the perversion of life made to walk again. The chittering of insects large enough to consume a man whole.
They were coming. And Adrian had very little to defend himself.
He shuffled his way to the trunk of a gnarled tree and began speaking one last prayer of peace and serenity. The sounds continued to grow. Adrian felt no fear or terror from their approach. His soul was prepared and his heart was content. They couldn’t terrorize anyone anymore. What’s one more life weighed against an entire country’s future?
The cacophony of nocturnal predators continued to bear down on Adrian. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, accepting his fate.
Twigs snapped. Pebbles clattered. The pattering of paws grew in urgency. It was all over.
The next thing Adrian felt was the wet tongue of a hunting hound on his face. The hound’s master recalled him shortly after, hobbling forward with his cane.
Without a master indeed.
The harbinger of darkness, the villain of unknowable evil, the looming threat that brings wrath and ruin -the night – pulsed to the beat of a boy’s broken heart. It pulsed to the beat of sorrow, suffering, and sadness. It pulsed to the beat of protection, shielding, and health. It pulsed against its own rhythm in its desperate attempt to help that sad boy.
The night saw what few else could. It knew the world in all its detail. It saw the ants scurrying in the sand and the tides raging in the sea. It saw the mighty mountains standing ever-stalwart, and it saw the seeds of flowers gently dancing in the wind.
It also saw the horrors that unfolded when it touched the world. It knew the creatures that lurked under its shadow. It heard every scream and felt every wound. It felt that terrible sensation of claws ripping through tender flesh, that burning, visceral fire that paralyzed the mind.
Those beasts always hunted, seeking their next victim. The night ached for those slain by its denizens. It did not ask for such creatures, yet they always came.
They came now, hunting the young boy whose heart beat in tandem with the night. The night heard the cracks of branches, the rustling of leaves, and the salivating growls that preceded an attack. These things the night knew well.
Lightning splintered the dark sky, and the beasts pressed forward, the lone boy in their sight. They circled their prey.
The boy cried as he heard, but could not see, his predators. A final tragedy for the boy, a final cruel act to conclude his play. He clutched a small teddy bear and knelt in the storm, awaiting his execution.
The night rumbled with a vengeful fury.
Raining bolts of electricity smote the beasts, their anguished howls mixed with the night’s own suffering, for he felt their pain too.
Each agonizing bolt shredded the night’s soul.
But the night saw that the boy was safe.
That was all that mattered.
That was all that ever mattered.
English is not my first language, sorry for any mistakes.
By Samurai Jackson
I’m hearing a child’s voice, a very familiar voice, one that I hear in my dreams every night since that day, a voice that I wish I could hear again outside of my dreams, it’s my son’s voice.
I open my eyes thinking that the voice would go away, but I’m still hearing it.
“Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” I hear, but I can’t believe it.
“Johnny are you really here my son?” I say while getting up of bed in an instant, knocking of countless bottles of cheap Whiskey. I look frantically at every corner of my room until I lay my eyes on him again, a tiny kid holding a super hero toy. I always see him in my dreams, but his eyes were always lifeless.
“Johnny it’s really you, my son!” I look at his eyes, they are full of life and joy, it’s been soo long since I saw his eyes this way. I hug him tightly, his hair feels like before in my hands… I start crying, it’s my son!
“I’m so sorry Johnny, daddy wasn’t able to save you.” I look him in the eyes “Could you forgive me, my son?”
“Daddy, it’s okay, mommy and I understand that you failed us…” he holds my hand “You were suppossed to have died with us. Just say the words daddy, and you will be with us again.”
He’s clearly my boy, he came here to take me with him. Me surviving that day was a mistake, and my suffering over the years was my punishment, I hold his hand tightly, look him in those eyes full of life and joy.
“I want to go with you my son.”
I close my eyes.
By: Arith Winterfell
I can hear them. The small whispers in the darkness. They swirl around me amidst the darkened trees, children of the night even more so than wolves. The spirits of the dead. Most people can’t even hear their whispers. Some few who have learned the secrets of necromancy become attuned to such things, even if like me our hearing is poor in other matters. It isn’t exactly sound, but something more ethereal.
Their voices crawl and writhe into the consciousness of those who care to listen. Sometimes the dead share knowledge we wouldn’t otherwise have. Sometimes they only bemoan their existence or their longing for something lost. Sometimes they even share things humans aren’t meant to know at all. The dead themselves don’t exactly stay human really.
I imagine that raised up your curiosity. At first, the spirits of the dead are very much the people they were in life. They cling closely to their lives as if they continue living them. Yet, something curious happens with time. When we are alive, we are always changing, in death we are no different. Even more so when we are divorced from bodily needs.
The spirits of the dead slowly become more and more entangled in themselves, in their own flaws or virtues. Often becoming obsessed in some fashion or another, making the spirit world their own private heavens or hells so to speak.
Some simply forget themselves. Time rolls on like an ever-rolling stream. Those who knew them in life pass away, and eventually their name erodes out of living memory. Those who forget themselves utterly, however, lose themselves as they slowly fade away into nothing more than wisps of spiritual energy. They lose their voice becoming even less than whispers in the night. Yes, that is a terrible fate indeed.
And so, here I remain to ponder, which is it a worse fate to have? To be obsessed ever pursuing endless urges or longings? Or to fade away into nothingness, extinguished like a candle?
by Johnny Saguaroseed
Shinnaninam, the wandering wizard, reclined on one of Magistrate Tuskh’s opulent couches scattering cheese crumbs on its jacobean upholstery. The magistrate had paid Shinaninam five copper styca to watch his bedroom door and determine why—(“I suspect a jinx has been placed on me by my opponents in the Cortes,” he had told Shinnaninam, “I caught Rexpedius discerning me with what I believe to be an evil eye just last Tuesday.”)—he woke each morning feeling phlegmatic and stale. Lads! never cheat a wizard or gibe a beldame; but Tuskh had grown imperious in the soft bosom of abundance and so when Shinnaninam, sometimes called Shirnaninan, passed the styca under a weir-light he saw them for snail shells.
This is why, when Shinnaninam heard a clattering from the baseboard, he returned to the Mimolette.
Presently an ambulatory skeleton, no more than three inches tall, emerged from a mousehole carrying an apparatus of arcane design. The skeleton was misshapen, with overlarge skull and too short limbs. It had something of the marmoset about it, but also something of the rat. The apparatus was a Macairion, a type of scalpel with long bone handle and short but sharp flint blade that, when cut into flesh, impelled the wounded to follow any single command. The night-spirit clacked across the antichamber floor looking like a hoplite tramping its way to battle or perhaps an early morning fisherman dreaming of its first catch.
It scrambled under the bedroom door and Shinnaninam rushed to push his eye against the keyhole. He witnessed the spirit make a small incision under the magistrate’s left ankle and then climbed inside. Immediately, Tuskh rose and proceeded to a hidden passage and down into what, Shinnaninam following, found to be a lab for necromancy. Here, Tuskh put the finishing touches on a Macairion of obscene size. It was a type of zweihänder with long horn handle and short but sharp granite blade. Nearby loomed a massive skeleton that had something of the gorilla about it, but also something of the josephoartigasia, and it waited to make an incision in the world.
A girl dies…
Drip, drip, drip went the distant sounds of water dribbling in from some far off hole no doubt promising a false and fleeting freedom to the young girl laying beneath a fallen bookcase. For 3 days had she lain there, arms too weak to lift the massive heavy piece of wood, slowly getting weaker and weaker with each hour that passed with no food, no water, and no relief from the mind shattering pain in her leg.
Drip, drip, drip the dripping sounds had started on the second day as if to taunt her with its promise to relieve the dryness in her throat if she could only summon the strength to free herself, but she knew that was something beyond her reach. The first day had been filled with struggle and tears, tears she no longer had the water to shed, now there was only numbness and immobility. The girl smacked her lips, she knew the end was soon, she had prayed to the gods for salvation, for freedom but each in turn and made themselves clear with her continued entrapment.
She summon what effort she could and prayed one final time in a voice like sand on stone,” Oh, Ni, Goddess of death I beg of you please free me from this torment, take me, and let me know your sweet icy embrace”, and with that the girls eyes slipped shut and darkness took her. The girl had hoped that Ni would take her, she who brings relief to the pained and dying, she who takes without mercy, without warning and without hesitation surly she would give the girl what she so desperately desired.
The next day the girl woke up, not even death wanted her pain to end, the gods had truly abandoned her, so she abandoned them in turn. That was the last anyone ever saw of the girl, only a beast of rage remained.
Of Royals And Resolve
‘Thwip,’ came an echo down the cave.
‘Thwip,’ again. Tara thought back to yesterday afternoon.
She had been sitting with Princess Matilda around a campfire Tara built, deep in the woods. Lord Tennyson’s forces were a day or two behind them now, so they could afford the light.
“I… I wish I could help.” The princess was sitting with her knees to her chin, and she spoke softly.
“What do you mean?”
“With anything. I can’t build fires or hunt like you can. I can’t run or climb like you, so we’re slower, and I know you’ve been eating three-quarter rations.” The princess sucked in a breath. “I couldn’t even- when Tennyson attacked, I couldn’t even fight. All those lessons, but my rapier was useless against a proper sword. If it weren’t for you, I’d…”
“Well, I am a royal guard, your highness. It’s my job.” Tara gave a lighthearted shrug, but the princess just curled in on herself more.
“And now look at me, sitting around your campfire crying over my faults, when you’re doing all the actual work. I just- I’ve got no resolve.” Tara couldn’t even see Matilda’s eyes anymore, hidden behind her arms.
Tara frowned, then sighed. “Here. Take this.”
“What… what is it?” Tara had taken from her pocket what looked like some kind of small leather pouch, with pieces of string tied to either end.
“You’re not strong enough to use a bow or sword, but you can use a sling.” Tara placed a rock in the pouch, then began to swing it around her head. When she let go of one of the strings, it made a quick ‘thwip’ sound, and a nearby tree branch exploded with a loud ‘crack.’
“It’s no crossbow, but it’ll crack skulls at short range. Here, try it.”
The princess looked at the sling with slightly puffy eyes, and took it.
‘Crack,’ came the echo down the cave.
As the princess tiptoed back and climbed quietly into her bed, Tara couldn’t help but think that secret three-hour nightly practice sessions were an odd habit for someone without resolve.
Awake In The Night (Chronicles of The Dragon)
The house was old and, despite the luxury it offered, creaked like it.
On windy days it was exceptionally egregious.
Sera didn’t mind though. She could easily afford an actual penthouse in any of the highrises in the city, but there was something about being able to point at the old mansion and say, “I live there,” that made it more appealing. Even if the only part of it that was actually hers was the attic apartment, and she was responsible for maintaining the lower floors and their historical accuracy. When she’d first come to the city, this job had been a godsend. Now it was barely an inconvenience and the creaks and howls were a comfort.
As she lay in her bed, half asleep and wondering why, she listened to the house. It creaked and squealed and shook. She imagined it was trying to sing and rock her back to sleep.
But then there was a rather distinct scrape of a door, and the complaining of the floor as it was stepped on. There was silence from the floor for a moment, and then half a squeak. She rolled over and smiled.
He always tried to sneak in, but no matter how careful he was, the house would always tattle on him.
There was no noise beyond the shaking of the house for several moments. She sighed and stretched before sweeping her hand across the bed and pushing the blanket back. “John. Don’t just sit in the shadows.”
There was a sigh. Then he stepped through the door into her bedroom. “I wanted to surprise you.”
She smiled and ran her hand across the bed. “You already have. I wasn’t expecting you tonight.”
He walked over and sat on the edge of the bed.
She reached up and pulled him into a kiss.
After some time she pulled away and ran a hand across his face. “You’re hurt.”
“It’s just a bruise.”
“But still a rough night.”
He nodded and she pulled him into the bed.
Midnight Trick (Sword Isles)
By Connor A.
“Would you mind explaining yourself?”
Tasha gingerly tugged at her head wrap so it stayed over her ears, taking extra care not to mess with her best attempt at keeping her curls up and out of her face. She stared a hole into the plate in front of her to avoid looking at the hole in Dara’s chest.
“I didn’t think it was your home,” she admitted. “Mama told me it’s bad to break into a Wyld’s home.”
“And I am sure she will be relieved to know that I do not wish to see a child go to prison for attempted robbery. Do you remember where you saw her last?”
She let her eyes fall to her balled-up fists. “She went through the tear in the sky.”
Tasha did not want to look up, but she knew she had to eat. Dara made no sound as she scarfed down her food. It was nothing fancy, but she found herself feeling a lot better than she did before.
“Do you have another parent?” Dara spoke again.
“I have a father, but I never met him. All I know is that I can do tricks like him.”
Tasha stopped moving and closed her eyes for a few seconds. When she opened them, she found the courage to look at Dara as he looked around the room. She pushed herself up so she could stand on the chair and leaned over to grab the cup in front of Dara. The creak of the chair broke her concentration and made Dara turn to look her in the eye.
“Invisibility,” he stated. There was an odd look of apprehension and curiosity on his face. “If you are willing, I would like to hear more about what you know about your father. Perhaps I can be of some assistance.”
Tasha backed up slightly and held out her hand. “Deal.”
Dara chuckled and shook her hand. When she yawned he said, “For now, it would be wise to sleep. Senan can show you to a room.”
Tasha smiled back at him. “Thank you.”
Just a gem
By Tamela Redfin
The thought of Radon Cecilia didn’t leave me. It was starting to worry me. Suppose Feldspar Augen found out. That meant I could lose a lot, but something about her scarred face, her beautiful grey skin and that rogue attitude kept bringing me back. What was I to do?
It was a few days after my birthday, and it was getting late. Would I ever get a response from Sulfur Cora about my research? She was usually much faster to reply. Maybe I could speak with my supervisor, Phosphorus Max, tomorrow.
As I was drifting off, I heard an ever so quiet noise. It was a scratch, I concluded. “Haha, very funny, Phosphorus Valerie. I’m half asleep over here.” That dumb little prankster, but she was new to the place, so maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh.
But she didn’t do or say anything, and the scratching only got louder. I knew it wasn’t a cat. Something or rather someone was trying to get my attention. Well, they had it. “Who’s there? Show yourself!”
I heard a giggle on the outside of my house. A child? “No, I don’t wanna.”
I gasped, “Wait a minute! You’re Radon Cecilia’s cousin, aren’t you? Well if you won’t see me, I’ll go out to you.”
There she was, a young cypha sitting down. Unlike her cousin’s jet black hair and pale silver eyes, she had brown hair and sapphire yellow eyes.
Sapphira waved. “Hi Cameron! I had to dodge a lot of lights tonight to get out here. You’re creeping out my cousin. If you hurt her…”
“I don’t mean to hurt her.” I replied.
“I don’t believe you! Cecilia told me humans are bad. Well, she said a different word, but that doesn’t matter. Leave her alone.”
“I promise I won’t hurt her. I’m trying to help her.” I love her too much, I thought.
“She doesn’t need your help, okay? Now I have to get home before mom notices I left.” She stood up and ran off, leaving me in shock. Was I that open about this?
“An Authoresses Apotheosis”
By: Lydia Santiago
Constant click and clacking can be heard in one midnight eve, despite the tantalizingly comfortable bed right next to her the Authoress would rather spend her caffeinated spent nights with her typewriter. A fascinating invention she could get with the times but the sounds were too addicting much like her coffee.
There’s an audible snap from behind just outside her window, which must have been a tree branch. Then another and another the snapping continued in an agonizingly irritable pace mockingly so as the snapping sound grew closer.. As the snap turns sickeningly horrific as the branch turns to bone followed by the stretching, stripping, ripping of fabric no skin..?
There’s a sense of dread suffocating the room; the gravity itself pulls you closer to the earth, beckoning you to join the soil as intended.
“Why.. have you come here..” she knows but she dares not say, spinning her chair to meet the mangled amalgamation of flesh in a pale imitation of a praying mantis. Scythe – like bone paired with a mouthless visage towering over with a hissing cackle.
It tilts its head sideway in a dog-like manner, boney arms raised over imitating a hug creeping like a centipede.
Its voice is like chalk on a board straining in a sing-song tone, mockingly.
“Little.. Author.. Poor Autho..r.. You Write…our Stories… Not Knowing.. Every Word.. makes.. You… Beacon… I Will..Savor… every Bite Little.. Litt..le.. Moth.”
The lamp desk shatters, casting the room in darkness, crashing sounds echo in the night.
Green light slowly glows dimly revealing her hand securely choking the being’s neck that wrecked her beloved typewriter her third eye opened, eldritch symbols etched on her forehead framing it like a halo painting the room green as the earlier feeling of dread heightens tenfold her voice distorts.
“You could have left me alone.. I would have Immortalized your name in Humanity’s Memory This is the thanks i get? no… you are the moth little one. there’s always a bigger fish you lot’s seem to forget.. You will always be prey and..”
“I. Am. Hungry.”
Music to our ears…
Luna wakes, rubbing her eyes sleepily. She’s looking out her window. It’s night outside?
The 6 year old tilts her head as a wonderous melody reaches her ears.
“That… sounds amazing…”
The kid grins as she gets up. She goes to grab her coat from the chair before starting to climb down, going outside. A childish curiosity making her go explore the source of this wonderous music.
Even though it sounds distant, she starts making her way towards the source. “If I can find the people playing, I can bring them home to let mom and dad listen!” She thinks as she follows that wonderous music through the tall, edgy woods.
Along the way a little Raven, a swift Fox and a rotund Hedgehog join our brave little miss Luna. Keeping the little girl entertained with all sorts of games: racing through the woods, hide and seek, … But always making sure to follow that joyful, pleasing melody.
Soon, the night turns into day… and Luna has found numerous other animal friends. Creatures being as big as bears, and as small as little mice.
By now, they all have travelled miles through the woods. After a bit more walking, they finally catch up with the mysterious source of the luring music Luna and the others were following. It seems to be… a single woman, playing nothing but a simple lute.
“Aaaah, I see you lot finally made it, did you now? Please… why don’t you beautiful creatures go rest from your epic journey? After, we can play together even more!”
Too exhausted, Luna and her animal friends agree. One by one, everyone falls asleep next to this kind stranger. This’ll become a better home than home…
On a morning in September 1996, one topic rose to haunt the town of Bredon forever. The disappearance of all children under the age of 11. None of the families had found their children in their beds when they woke up in the morning.
Up until today, no-one has laid their eyes upon any of these missing children. Nor heard from any of them.
A Needy Little Devil (A Tiefling Tale)
C. M. Weller
Lord Kormwind Arachis Felbourne Whitekeep IX, age four, had never slept an entire night in his life. This was a point of contention amongst everyone he knew. He had learned not to seek out Papa in the grey of night, lest he be called ‘Demonspawn’ or worse. Nani, his nurse, would give him lines to write by the light of one candle, which just made the rest of the dark even worse.
Mama was with Papa, so he could not seek her out. Which only left Bothari, his guard.
One problem. Kormwind had no idea where Aelechi Bothari had his bedroom, and the castle was immense. Second problem, he was already afraid of the grey of night. ANYTHING could be out there beyond the circle of his vision.
Nevertheless… he needed somebody.
Walking in the middle of the hall, navigating by furniture legs and the hems of tapestry because Nani hated it when he gawked about at everything. Kormwind firmly believed that Nani would catch him at any time. In the grey like this, it may well be a relief.
Knockings and squeaks seemed to follow him as he wandered. Cracks and snaps made monsters in his mind. Sneaking out from closets and under the bed or inside the privy.
A voice in the dark, “HALT! Who goes?”
Kormwind remembered the scar he’d got from surprising a guard once. He put his hands up. “Viscount Kormwind, son of the Earl.” And, because he was not a dishonest little demon-kin, he added, “I can’t sleep and there’s noises. I’m scared.”
The glare of a dark lantern burned colour into his world. Turning him from grey to blue and showing him he’d wandered into the Red Wing.
“YOU’RE scared?” said the guard.
Kormwind held on to one of his stubby horns with one hand and his tail with the other. “There’s monsters under the bed. There’s monsters everywhere. I want Bothari. Do you know where he is?”
It became a hullabaloo. A seneschal was summoned. A co-ordinator was summoned. Eventually, Bothari arrived in his nightshirt.
“Oh, lad,” he sighed in disappointment. “Again?”
The Final Farewell
By Adrian Solorio
Two weeks had passed since Noah left home. Two weeks which had become an eternity. He felt like a stranger, and hesitated before he entered. Inside the house, everything was quiet, nothing had changed, and Noah wondered if he’d be able to wake Rita.
From the sofa, Yuri, Rita’s cat, meowed. The yellow-eyes of the big black tom glowed like embers, and he licked between his padded pink-paws before he spoke. “It’s best to move on, Noah,” he said. “No good can come of you returning.”
Noah’s eyes sharpened. “Nice trick, but this one’s not gonna work either. You almost had me with my dad, maybe you should have saved that one for last.” He stalked towards Yuri, and the cat raised up before bolting into the shadows.
“You don’t understand what you’re doing,” said Yuri, from the darkness.
“So why don’t you explain it? Everything you’ve said since”—he paused—“everything you’ve said has been a puzzle. I’m gonna see Rita no matter what the hell you say.”
Yuri stepped from behind the TV, stretched, arched his back, and then stared at Noah. “I’ve tried to explain, but you don’t listen,” he said. “Purgatory is what you humans call it, but it’s worse than that.”
“Purgatory be damned,” Noah glowered.
“Those who stay past their time are consumed by their pain and anguish. The dead aren’t meant to be in the world of the living. Do you really think rattling cupboards and shattering dishes will change anything?”
“You said some can communicate—”
“Some. Very few, actually. Most lose their sense of being, and wind up wandering for eternity. I’ve guided you your whole life—that small voice that kept you out of trouble—but only when you listened. Two weeks ago, you didn’t listen—and you’re not listening now.”
Noah frowned. “It doesn’t matter. I can’t leave it the way it was. I need to say goodbye.”
“Noah!” Rita awoke. Although she saw nothing of her dead husband, she sensed him in the room, felt his presence, smelled him even, and by some miracle, heard him when he said his final farewell.
The Night is Dark and Full of Beauty (Forsaken Universe)
By Alex Nightingale (aka Spectre)
Rain sat on the ramp of the shuttle, staring into the darkness ahead, her kaempii eyes seeing perfectly in the night forest of the planet Ozymandias. She saw the shapes of the animals rushing through the tree line, too nervous to approach their lit shuttle.
But she didn’t want to see. She wanted to listen.
Behind her, she heard some beeping noises, followed by footsteps.
“I’ve run the plants we found through the scanner,” Newton reported, sitting down next to her. “No detectable toxins, so… they might be safe to eat, unless the scanner just doesn’t recognize them.”
Rain nodded, letting her companion talk.
“Rain? Are you…”
“Shshsh,” she put her finger to her lips. “Do you hear that?”
“The… rustling leaves?”
She closed her eyes, as a soft chirping mixed with a silent hooting and the occasional howl. Together with the rustling of the wind and the scuttling of tiny rodents, it merged into a symphony of the night.
“The sounds,” she added. “They’re so… soft.”
“They’re barely distinguishable.”
“I know. They’re quiet. A calming kind of quiet.”
“So is the ship’s engine.”
“Yes, but that just…” Rain sighed, her gaze shifting downwards. “That just brings back memories. Bad memories. I need a break from space and machines, okay?”
“I understand,” Newton put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry, Rain. It is peaceful out here.”
“Thanks, Newton,” she smiled at him.
A soft screeching rang out and Rain laughed out loud. It was a clear, powerful sound, she hadn’t heard out of her mouth in weeks.
“That’s a sound I haven’t heard in a while,” Newton said.
“I know, right? Sounds like a sirsian, from Obsedia! Like that… what do you call it? Owl?”
“I meant the laugh.”
Rain gave Newton a sideways glance, smiling.
“Didn’t know I still could.”
“Neither did I,” Newton chuckled.
Rain leaned her head against him.
“I miss Obsedia.”
Newton put an arm around her shoulder.
“I miss Earth.”
For a moment, they forgot that they were stranded far from everything they knew and just enjoyed the alien forest.
He stepped onto a branch, it was dead for a long time and dry, snapping like an oversized twig. The sound sent shivers down his spine, especially since he knew what would happen next. The forest was too calm until now, too quiet, he knew what will happen.
On weary legs he took a step forward, nothing yet happened, then suddenly, a scratch under the leaf of a nearby plant. Then a scritch just up on a branch. Muted, quiet, it was only just beginning, he began hyperventilating, attracting even more sound, he was panicking, for he knew what happens next.
Then a bzzt just next to his ear, a snarl off to the distance, muted, mocking laughter in the tree roots, a bang behind him, rumbling below him. But most importantly, there was the indescribable sound of pure shimmering, as if a hundred tiny fly wings, all flapped in unison, coming closer. He began to calculate his chances, running would only worsen it, generate more sound as his panicked stampede would crack even more twigs. Yet that was his only option, for he knew what happens next if he stayed in place.
With the click of two insect’s fangs behind a newly grown pear, and a click and clack of a toy just before him, he started to run. Snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, snap, twig after twig snapped under his boot. A bell just under him, a crack from the branches slowly subsumed as the sound of shimmering was getting ever closer, to him it looked as if the entire forest was getting closer towards him. Yet he spotted his end goal, his home village just after the tree line, he could see the shimmering lights off in the distance. He rejoiced for he didn’t need to experience what always happened next.
And then the next happened, and villagers would for a long time talk about the thing they found just at the edge of the forest they never wandered into.
You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means
There were times when Daisy almost appreciated what Alex had turned her into. Her eyes shot open as beyond the snoring pair of bodies beside her, she could hear the soft footsteps in the distance. Someone was coming towards them and they were moving much faster and quieter than a human.
Quietly leaving her sleeping companions, Daisy made her way to the door and out of the house, squinting in the direction of the noise. Daisy could see her now, about a mile or so in the distance. The first thing that stood out to Daisy was the girl’s smile. It only grew when she realized Daisy was waiting for her. There was a sudden burst of speed and then-
“Hi sister! I’m Sabrina!” She exclaimed, appearing in front of Daisy with her hand extended.
Daisy looked down at the hand and left it there. “Firstly, I’m an only child. Secondly, even if I wasn’t, my family is dead. Thirdly, keep your voice down. Fourthly… go away.”
Sabrina’s eyes glowed a familiar gold that mirrored Daisy’s own. The smile never left her face, nor did she lower the offered hand. “You are most certainly NOT an only child. Nor is your family dead. There aren’t many of us, but the strong remain. Baptized in his love. Bathed in the pain only he can bring.”
Daisy’s eyes immediately narrowed. “You’re… Alex’s? One of his thralls? I thought they were all dead…”
Sabrina’s smile faltered for a moment. “He allows you use his name?”
“He doesn’t ALLOW me to do anything anymore. I’m free of that asshole. I want nothing to do with him and no offense, but I want nothing to do with you either. I can barely keep my OWN crazy under control. Really not trying to deal with whatever it is you have going on.”
Sabrina seemed frozen in time before her smile slowly returned. “I understand now. You don’t yet realize how much he loves you.”
Daisy almost laughed in Sabrina’s face. “Alex only loves himself. I… genuinely pity you if you don’t get at LEAST that much…”