in the end, i’ll be
f r e e
birthed from the tar
soaking my bones and
drowning my lungs in
in the end, i’ll be
f o u n d
voiced from the ache
haunting my heart and
gutting my soul with
in the end, i will
f a d e
come to a close,
breaking the mold and
reflecting my life in
in the end, i will
s e e
the real me
from beyond the thoughts
plaguing my mind and
veiling my eyes with
in the end, i’ll be
free, i’ll be
and i’ll fade
when i see that
in the end,
I gather myself to you
pouring tears into secret rivers
unfolding my heart with every feeling
desperation in every tear falls in the rain
all of the time waves are leading me to you
Sand wishes, for our hurts to be healed
Watering prayers for our dreams to be freed
Reflective mirrors in place, releasing pieces
It is together, we gather clearer reflections
Chain Smoke Screen
You and I have eclipsed in our lonely totality
We keep tripping in the air of a chain smoke screen
A drift of a stumbling obscurantism in masquerade
All of our words fall into black holes. Darker seas of
our nights have the deepest meaning. The direction of
our dreams blow in the wind of a mere confabulation
Yet, our love is by far an illusion we've ever fabricated
Covering up with a blanket full of holes that never fit
You and I have never smugly fit lies into harder times
We lose our breath, pull away, and come together
We gather each other to survival, alive in the oxygen
United in our breathing, we live as one
1. RUNNING FROM MISERY
Trickles of ice cold water seared my trembling skin, biting my flesh with its ruthless assault. Reminding me that I'm not alone...I'm never alone. Counting the wall of small blue tiles—fitted in a pathetic attempt to replicate a mosaic of the ocean—I systematically went through my familiar motions to ward off yet another panic attack. Curling into myself, I breathed heavily against my bare knees. After having spent several nights in cheap motels, I began to notice the subtle details that gifted each patron with an eerily depressing atmosphere.
The tasteless bulk-buy mints staged on every eggshell coloured pillow. Mini fridge's dwindling in over priced hard liquor. Old Cathode ray tube television sets decorated with hideous doilies, distracting us from the half a dozen channels playing B grade black and white films. Dingy showers with low water pressure set to only one temperature, negative zero degrees. Two flickering lightbulbs—one glimmer away from giving out—lighting the shoebox they call a deluxe room. At least they're consistent.
Fuck, even death would shy away from this place.
The rapid pounding of my heartbeat against the confines of my ribcage slowly began to calm, my laboured breaths falling into a familiar rhythm. Sweeping my tongue along the several droplets of water dribbling from my lips I shakily staggered to my feet. My limbs were achingly stiff from the near paralytic nightmares that kept me caged within the horrors of my past. Fisting the slimy shower curtain, I yanked it back. Stepping over the small bathtub's soap scummed rim I stared at my reflection in the stained mirror above the tiny basin.
'You want this, stop fighting me-you want this!'
Curling my fingers around the basin's edges, I glared at my reflection. The sound of Mr Hale's growl rang in my ears, mocking me, taunting me...reminding me; he's always here.
'Fucking bitch...you little cock tease...'
Wincing from the memories clawing to the surface of my mind, I gripped the cool porcelain harder. I was losing the fight to suppress them...I was surrendering, again.
'I'm always here...'
Feeling the sharp jabs of his index finger against my temple I abruptly shoved away from the basin. Slamming shut the the doors in my mind, leading to pure darkness, I snapped back to reality just barely saving my sanity. "Gia?" Macy's sleepy rasp echoed through the thin door I'd haphazardly pushed ajar two hours ago. Stripping out of my drenched singlet and night shorts I wrapped the small towel, hanging from the lopsided drying rack bolted to the wall, around my shivering torso. Pulling the door back I padded across the floor—covered with a rough industrial brand carpet—to the slab of concrete they had the portentous audacity to call a bed. "Did you get any sleep?" She asked gently, lowering the bedsheets as she brushed her finger through her sleep tussled hair.
"No." I managed to choke out a reply, swallowing past the lump in my throat, the aftershock of my nightmares always left me feeling reserved, closed off...miserable. Macy had become well accustomed to the signs and understood not to push for anymore.
"Let's hit the road early today, I'm feeling this motel about as much as the last four." Shuddering dramatically she pushed out of bed to crouch in front of one of the smaller suitcases she'd insisted on bringing with us. Dragging the zipper open noisily she pulled out a fresh set of clothes and her flamboyant toiletry bag. "The shower any warmer in this one?" Shaking my head, no, I dug through my duffle bag. "That's cool, it's not like I've been having fantasies about steaming hot showers or anything." She groaned shuffling into the cubicle that encased both the toilet and bathroom. "Fuck..." She grumbled. Based on the faucet's ungodly squeaking, that preceded her cursing, I assumed she'd discovered the disturbingly low water pressure in this dilapidated shit hole.
Linking together the three metal hooks on my plain maroon bra, I slid a pair of plain black panties up my thighs. Stepping into a pair of distressed, washed blue skinnies I pulled a grey, long-sleeved cotton shirt over my head. Yanking my arms through the maroon sleeves I took a seat on the lumpy edge of the mattress. Rolling my sock over my toes, I slipped each of my feet into a pair of warn Converse sneakers. "I swear motels are where souls go to die!" Macy hissed tossing her damp towel into a dark corner of the room. Unclipping her long hair, she skilfully brushed her fingers through each silky strand. "Ready?" She huffed, perching her hands on her narrow waist.
"Yeah, lets go." Zipping up my bag, I pulled the double straps over my shoulder. Packing up her suitcase, Macy dragged the wheeled bag behind us as we left the seedy room- bedsheets frighteningly as strewn as we'd found them. Walking down the row of half-a-dozen beat up cars and pick-up trucks I sidled up to my utility vehicle or ute. The second-hand repair yard I'd found it at had mentioned it was favoured in Australia.
"Hand the keys over babe. You haven't slept in days." Macy pointed out, her tone left no room for argument. Dropping the keys into her extended palm I circled around the front and climbed through the passenger side door. Hauling my duffle bag into the back, I slumped against the threadbare leather seat and sighed heavily. Lifting her bag into the back she jumped in and smiled brightly. Keying the ignition, she strapped on her seatbelt as she reversed. Macy's near miss with a battered Mazda, as we drove out of the complex, didn't even enlist a blink from either of us—I doubted any new dints or scratches would go noticed by the owner either way.
Heading towards the highway I made an effort to contribute to the conversation we were having. At times my attention faltered and I found myself studying the blur of cars speeding past us on the lanes to my right. Drawing my knees close to my chest I considered how far we were from what I'd always know as home, East LA was a blur almost like the vehicles whizzing past...unfortunately the hellish memories remained fresh and imprinted in my brain like a stain, a branding that owned me. We'd been on the road for five days, stopping at shabby motels to sleep and shower. I could no longer deny that this was exactly what it looked like, running, I was running. From my past, my mistakes, my fears...and the evil I'd let into my life.
"I haven't seen Joey in forever, God I miss him." She sighed. "Seeing each other every six months is torture..." She whined. It still astounded me to no end that Macy and Joey had made it this long, despite the distance. Relationships are hard enough without the added obstacles they'd faced. "I can't believe he has his own place now." She was beaming and that managed to bring a genuine smile to my lips. I was happy for her, for them. "Okay so he shares it with his cousin but that doesn't count." Chuckling softly at her clarification I tilted my head to face her.
"I don't know about this, Mace...I mean won't it be weird shacking up with your boyfriend and his cousin?" Toying nervously with with my tattered shoe lace as it came loose, I debated the potential for how uncomfortable things could get. Joey and I had gotten along fine on the two separate occasions we'd met, but this cousin of his...was a stranger to me. Nightmares, panic attacks and paranoid tendencies aside, I'd never met the man. That alone would be probable cause for apprehension. "This is kind of a big step in your relationship...I don't want to fuck this up for you, again." Cringing at even the thought of keeping Joey and Macy apart any longer I internally punished my own naivety, the afflictions of my past had forced her to choose between her loyalties as my best-friend and commitment to the love of her life.
"Stop, Gia. Joey knows you're heading out with me. He offered before I even had the chance to make my demands." Swooning, she grinned. "He know's I'm not about to move to a new city to shack up with my boyfriend when my best-friend needs me." Lifting one hand from the faded leather of my steering wheel, she theatrically flicked her strawberry blonde curls over her shoulder before holding out her pinkie and wiggling it about. "I have that man wrapped around this perfectly manicured little finger of mine..." She sang with a pitch to her voice that amplified the trophy wife persona she often enjoyed mocking.
Macy was basically that perfect mix of girly-girly and sophisticated independent woman that drove guys crazy. She was breathtaking on a bad day and something else all together when she put in effort. Her beauty was both every man's best dream and worst nightmare. Headstrong, stubborn and sexy. The only thing that shocked me more than the prevalence of their relationship was how Joey had survived my best-friend.
"It feels like I'm intruding..." Trailing off into silence, I returned my focus to the shoe lace tautly wrapped around my finger.
"Babe, it's just till you get sorted." Pouting she gave me a pointed look. "Besides, we both know as soon as a room opens up in the dorms, you'll ditch me." Glaring at me quickly she returned her attention to the four-wheeler cutting lanes as though it were an Olympic sport. Tensing I eyed it carefully, it looked familiar. "It's only fair that you make up for your neglect of my sensitive emotions by spending as much time as humanly possible with me." Sighing her eyes flicked to mine briefly before pinning the four-wheeler again. "I'm going to hate not living two doors down from you." She admitted, tears welling in her pale green eyes.
Pouting as we fell back into a comfortable silence, she swiftly merged between the two furthest lanes, leaving the asshole in the four-wheeler in a cloud of pollution—informing me that a tune up was long overdue. Resting my temple against the cool glass window, I closed my eyes, resolving to idle between napping and taking in the "scenic" ambiance of the highway. My brain's reluctance to subdue the constant torment my life had been for the past year kept me in a continuous state of mental and physical lassitude.
Because sleep, came plagued by the debilitating memories— that I had no doubt would haunt me till the day I die—of Mr Hale's endless abuse. And consciousness, brought the striking horror of the possibility that he will find me again.
Jerking awake, I glanced at the empty seat beside me. The distinct stench of petroleum drifted into the vehicle, awakening my senses further. "We almost there?" I croaked unattractively as Macy climbed back into the ute carrying a bag full of snacks.
"Almost, we're about thirty minutes out." She explained, planting the bag in my lap. Nodding, I scrounged around in the bag for ice cream. Frowning I turned back to face my best friend who should have, by now, known that my idea of a road-trip snack is a tub of ice cream. "Their fridge was broken so that shit melted hours ago." Glaring at her skeptically I fell back into my seat. "I'm serious." Rolling my eyes, I glanced at the side mirror.
Macy's phone rang loud enough to be an alarm, pulling it out of her front pocket she held the small device between her ear and shoulder. Pulling the car into one of the three lots beside the air pumps she exhaled, clearly exasperated. "I'm good daddy, we just stopped to get some petrol." Closing her eyes frustratedly, she toyed with the ends of her hair. "Yes we're being safe, we've taken enough rests." Macy found her father's overbearing fussing a nuisance, I on the other hand couldn't help but find it comforting. You appreciate the love and care a parent has for their child when you grow up never having experienced the same from your own.
Smiling warmly at the rapid fire questions, Mr Taylor was no doubt worriedly, sending her way I lent my attention to my side mirror once more. I watched as a frumpy woman hooked the petrol hose back into its port before wobbling around her Toyota Corolla and towards the small kiosk type shop. "God, it's like I'll be five for the rest of my life!" Macy groaned tossing her phone into the glovebox rather roughly.
"Mace, your parents just love you like crazy. They've watched over you for nineteen years...there's going to be an adjustment period, especially with their baby girl moving across the country to live with her boyfriend." I tried to explain, wishing she could see the love I could in their concern. "Shit, I can't even believe they're letting you do this." Nibbling her lower lip she fluttered her eyelashes innocently in my direction.
Tensing I lowered my feet from the ratty upholstery, of my seat, in order to better read the guilty expression on her face. I could have sworn that I felt my heart drop. "Your parents did agree to this...right?" I just barely rasped, unable to swallow away the dryness in my mouth. Panic dawned on me as she tilted her head to give me a lopsided grin. "Mace..." I warned. Combing my fingers through my hair, I leaned forward so that I could breathe. "This is the part where you say; of course I told my over protective parents about my plans to move across the country and live with my boyfriend, Gia."
"Well...sort of-" glaring at her, I shook my head. "-you know my father, Gia. He'd chain me to the goddamn house if he found out I'm moving in with Joey!" She quickly defended, gripping at the steering tighter than necessary.
"Mace." I scolded, suddenly more reserved about our decision to move out here.
"My father is dramatic about everything." She groaned. "He practically dismissed what we have for a one time fling. He point blank said that I'm not in love and Joey just wants to defile me, since nobody can "fall in love" within a week-" I could see her gearing up to go on the defensive and swiftly cut her short before she could emotionally sway me.
"He's not wrong, Mace! We don't even know for sure what he was doing in East LA." Violently unclipping my seatbelt I moved to shove open the door.
"He was there for his cousin; Rayne was working the LA circuit, you know this! I don't need a lecture from you too!" Pulling on my arm she gave my steering wheel a short break from her assault, before returning her lean fingers to wring the groaning leather. With a sigh, she looked dead ahead. "It's hard to explain...when you feel it, when you find him...you just know, Gia." Smiling softly she wore a unique glow exclusively reserved for when she thought about Joey.
Squeezing her shoulder I reassured her with my eyes that I would see this through no matter what. Macy had supported me through the darkest moments of my life, at a time when I would have willingly embraced death in order to escape the horrors of my reality. I owed her this. Softening at that she gave my poor steering wheel the reprieve that it was in desperate need of. "You have to tell them eventually." I offered. Nodding, she started the engine—excited once more. Smiling with her I leaned back into my seat, my eyes drifting to the side mirror yet again. Stiffening as the image of a familiar vehicle, pulling into the petrol pump where the Toyota Corolla had moments earlier been, filled the small glass mirror attached to my door. "The four-wheeler..." I breathed, feeling the fine hairs along the base of my neck spike and my skin crawl. My subconscious reprimanded my foolish decision to rest and failure to stay alert.
How did he find me? Had he been following me all along...lurking in the shadows and biding his time till I let my guard down again? He was playing another game—he hadn't fled, he'd simply camouflaged his existence—waiting till he had me at a disadvantage. My heart hammered against my ribcage...screaming for me to hide. Glancing around frantically I panicked.
Too many windows... He can see me!
There's nowhere to hide.
Target audience: Intended for a mature audience, above eighteen as the content includes; coarse language, sexual references, drug and alcohol use, abuse and violence.
Bio: My sister introduced me to the inspirations behind many of my favourite movies, close to three years ago— since I've been reading anything I can get my hands on. Around this time I found my way onto a popular writing platform where readers and writers can connect—Wattpad. Trying my hand at writing I found people are asking for more.
Platforms: Wattpad, Radish Fiction and Prose.
Education: Having completed my primary and secondary schooling in Australia, I'm now on my final year of a Bachelor of Arts— majoring in criminal justice and Italian— before I complete my graduate diploma in education.
Experience: Payed experience includes Radish Fiction and recently the Wattpad Futures program.
Personality/ writing style: My readers love me for my sass and sarcasm. I'm quite headstrong and my female leads often depict this quality with their spitfire attitudes and stubborn nature. My writing style varies depending on the book and characters, I prefer first person, past tense when it comes to romance dominant novels but often turn to third person for more complex plot lines.
Hobbies/ likes: As far as hobbies go I'm not too adventurous, I've spent most of my university experience studying and working. I would say karaoke qualifies as a hobby, as does dancing— I excel at neither. I enjoy playing hockey, netball, basketball and touch...but only to discredit accusations of being a couch potato.
Location: Brisbane, Australia.
Saints & Sinners
Cast of Main Characters (So Far) of the Sins of the Father stories
Meet Lu, or Lucifer, or Satan, or the devil. Call him whatever you'd like just don't call him late for dinner. Banished from Heaven and now the big boss of Hell, a fact that he flaunts every chance he gets, Lu's business is making deals with humans in exchange for their souls to be tormented forever, and business has been good, however, it did get lonely. Then one day he met Carmen and her own pair of hellions and felt something that even he never knew he could feel: love. Now that they are married, he can freely cause whatever chaos he pleases; just so long he remembers to take out the trash every other night, and pick the girls up from school.
The matriarch of the Gravely family and often the voice of reason. All Carmen ever wanted to do in life was to be a wonderful mother, a loving wife, and work as a TV host for a popular local cable show What's Hot in Brimstone. Sadly, two of those prayers were answered when her first husband died suddenly in a car accident. Then one day she met the second man (or in this case devil) of her dreams in the form of Lu. Even she couldn't have predicted that she too could fall in love with the devil. While she refrains from being addressed as the Queen of Hell, Carmen does her best to maintain order and raise an awesome family.
A ten-year old goth girl with an attitude. She dresses in black, wears a beanie on her head, and has her raven-dyed hair covering half her face, typical preteen angst. Rosemary, or Rosie as her friends call her, can rock a guitar and own noobs on her favorite video game Major Rager. Being the new stepdaughter to the devil, Rosemary has a new audience to rock out loud to, and a never ending adventure to endure around every dark cavern of the Inferno.
The adorable five-year old ball of sunshine and rainbows of the family. Regan is the youngest of the Gravely family. She's got the face of an angel that melts away the coldest of hearts. Regan loves unicorns, dolls, stuffed toys, her family, and her pet albino python Slinky. Being the new stepdaughter to the devil to her means that there are an endless number of unfortunate playmates for her weekly tea parties.
The devil's number one assistant and punching bag. Scrugs is a dedicated servant to the boss, and always willing to endure all sorts of pain to get the job done. He'll do anything he is told to do. Pick up dry cleaning? Can do. File your taxes? Done. Feed the hellhounds? Sure thing... just be sure to have an ambulance and clean up crew on standby.
The sexy succubus secretary under Lu's employment. Lilith is kindhearted, cheery, and speaks with a British accent. She is also independent, wise, but can sometimes be a little ditzy. She absolutely loves hanging with the Gravelys and working for the devil. Plus when the parents need a babysitter, Lilith is the first they call (especially when it means getting paid overtime).
The eldest son of God, older brother of Lu, and one of the nine archangels of Heaven. Mike spent a long time mourning the days that he and his little brother were once close until their biblical battle. Now he returns to his brother's life in hopes to reconcile the bond they had. And serving as the girls' cool uncle, Mike has a place for himself on Earth. If you ever want to see the wings, be sure to wear sunglasses.
The Gravely family's pet albino rock python. He doesn't do much other than sit inside is fish tank and stare with his blank, pink eyes. But once and a while he'll get out of his tank, forcing the family to search high and low for him. Despite what people believe, the devil and his demons don't associate with snakes. In fact, most are down right afraid of them.
The eldest daughter of God and older sister of Lu. Like her older brother Mike, Gabi is also one of the nine archangels of Heaven. She loves kicking ass and kissing the ladies (sometimes doing both). While she struggled with alcohol in the past, Gabi is still loyal and dedicated to her family, especially to Lu and the Gravelys. If you're ever in a jam, you'll definitely want her by your side.
Regan's kindhearted kindergarten teacher. Her full name is Malaika Katan, but she prefers to be called as Ms. Kat by her students to make things easier. She is also Muslim-American, while not traditional, she still practices some beliefs such as not eating pork and sometimes wearing a hijab. Now that she has more interactions with the Gravely family when she started dating the archangel Mike, it's a never ending adventure for this teacher, which she is always excited to be apart of.
Mrs. Gloria Wordsworth is the strict, disciplinary principal of Rosemary and Regan's elementary school. Devoted to her Christian faith, she despises the Gravely family, especially the new husband. She loves her son Joshua as much as she loves the Bible, and doesn't mind if her son wishes to hang out with the Gravelys. But she'll keep praying that he'll return safely... or that the Gravely family will move away.
The Demonic Trio
Consisting of Balthazar, Ghuul, and Moloch, these three are often the practical jokesters and Lu's closest friends. There jokes are often dark but they each have a good heart. The hooded Balthazar loves to party, the skeletal Ghuul loves to play video games, and even the hulking Moloch is a proud husband and a father to 23 three children. Looks are very deceiving in the Inferno.
The thirteenth born son of Moloch, Dominic is a demon child from Hell and a very good friend of Rosemary. His parents being a pure blooded demon father and a succubus mother. Like his father, he is also gifted with dark magic that he is learning to control under the teachings of the demonic sorcerer Legion. He also developed a crush on Rosemary since the first day they met, and who knows, perhaps she feels the same for him.
The Devil's royal adviser and high priest/sorcerer of Hell. He looks scary with his arachnid-like appearance and dressed as a demonic pope. Yet his devotion to the king is never questioned. He is also very skilled in all forms of magic, making him one of the most powerful demons of Hell, even stronger than Lucifer or the archangels. Legion is also the oldest demon in existence, having been around to serve the king for many eons. In fact he's so old he could recall that Hell looked much different than it was now.
Horrid, decrepit creatures that were once souls damned in Hell. When a soul cannot endure the torments and live up to its service, Hell's influence takes over, corrupting them into a nightmarish horde. Scavengers are often feared and hated by the rest of the demons as they are not seen as a different species of demons but a disease. Fast, agile, violent, and always in large numbers, the scavengers are the most dangerous creatures in the Inferno, next to the hellhounds. You don't want to be caught in a dark place with one of these things.
The main antagonist of the series. Mephistopheles was once the majordomo under Lucifer until he became sickened with the devil's love for the Gravelys. He's been imprisoned since before the start of the series; yet he waits in the shadows, plotting his revenge against Lu and his family. He is known for his satyr-like appearance and having three eyes on his face. But his most notable trait is his affinity for apples, always seen carving and eating one. Whatever you do, don't trust Mephistopheles.
Cries in the afternoon
A light. A figure cast out of the darkness. A twist of the neck revealed the feminine coil of her hair. Outside the shrouded window at her back, rain was falling intermittently, without rhythm, as though it had just begun or abated. The woman appeared weary, aged by exhaustion beyond her years, stillness beyond that of a sleeper. She lacked the sleeper’s deepness of breath. Sitting, as she was upon the sofa with the shades drawn about her, she bore greater resemblance to mere shadow than to life. She looked akin to sorrow, yet her face bore no tears. Did tragedy call out to her? Or some conflict of the great unknown?
But listen! Can you hear it?
Someone does call out to her and has been calling all this while. Somewhere in the echoing, cavernous distance of a large, sparsely furnished house, a baby was crying, soft, solemn and soulful, not shrill. The cries matched the beating of the rain upon the window outside.
The woman stirred not. She let the cries of the child consume the silence which enveloped her. The cries elicited no pity from her, no compassion.
It is unknown, or rather unknowable, how long she had sat there as such, how long the child had been crying, and how long both would have continued, had a knock not fell upon the door.
The woman turned her head startled by the closeness of the rap, the impertinence of it, as if it was into the window of her soul the knocker was entreating entry. She rose abruptly, caught in indecision a moment, unsure if she ought to answer the child’s cries before the door. Unashamed to leave the child crying, she chose the door.
She hardly cracked it open, when in came a whirlwind of activity. The woman who burst through was older but not old, short and stocky, bearing a force beyond her stature. The new arrival crossed the room and passed through the darkness into the kitchen beyond. She unburdened herself of the three grocery bags she carried, before returning to her point of entry to switch on the light and throw back the curtains.
All the time she moved about, she spoke, her words rapid and somewhat ineffectual for their ceaselessness. There was not time to take in the first words before a mess of continuation had followed, no time to respond, barely time for the words to pass from ear to brain.
“Good Lord, Mare” came the words, “I just don’t see how you can stand it. Colic, the doctor says. Can’t do anything about it, the doctor says. Makes you wonder what those doctors know, if they know anything at all. I know you told me not to but I brought these few things over, so you don’t have to be going out. Don’t worry it’s not much. A bit o’ this and a bit o’ that. You need some light in here it looks like the grave. What? It’s three in the afternoon and you’re still in pajamas. It can’t be as bad as all that. You go get dressed. You’ll feel better. Put on a little make-up even. Brighten yourself. I’ll see to the child. Perhaps, she’ll take a bottle from her old Aunt Eliza today.”
Mary opened her mouth to protest but Eliza had already vanished down the hallway. Mary sighed deeply and followed her older half-sister. She passed the kitchen where the unpacked groceries, covered the small table, the nursery where Eliza was rocking and shushing the now screaming baby, and entered her bedroom, her sanctuary, where she could stuff towels under the door, turn up the radio to drown out the baby’s cries. If that did not work, she could run the vacuum.
Mary resented her sister’s intrusions. Twelve years Mary’s senior, Eliza had always acted more the part of mother towards her younger siblings than sister. Mary wanted to wallow in her sorrow and self-pity. Everyone, Eliza included had told her being a mother was the most wonderful thing. Having a child brings love and joy unimaginable, they had said. Mary did not feel love or joy, she felt only tired and hopeless, a failure. The hours of crying each afternoon, were burdensome and endless. Mary believed she could endure a great many things, but not this. This was unendurable. She did not want to get dressed. She did not want to face the world, even the small part of it within her own home.
A great many years later, Mary would see that Eliza had saved her life. For the moment, she felt bitter, yet too weak in her exhaustion to fight back. She did respect Eliza for never telling her to take a nap, which seemed to be Mary’s own mother’s sole words of advice. A nap would not make her child stop crying. A nap would not fill the void in her heart created by her inability to comfort her offspring.
The pediatrician had made a point of telling her not to blame herself. “It is not your fault,” he had said. “You have done all you can. Wait it out and it will pass.”
She was waiting but time moved slow. The afternoons dragged on into eternity.
She slipped off her warm, fuzzy pajamas. Weak from the effort she sat down upon the bed. As she did so, Mary noticed a change in the tenor of the baby’s cries. She took a deep breath. Slowly, she let it back out, releasing some tension. She rose and dressed, knowing the child would soon fall asleep, knowing a couple of hours of peace were at hand. At the same time, she feared Eliza’s lingering presence in her few peaceful hours.
She slid into a pair of jeans and pulled a green sweater over her head. Silently, she opened the door and returned to her spot on the couch. She wanted to turn on the television, to watch something mindless, though she knew Eliza would not approve of the kind of show for which she longed. Instead, she grabbed the top magazine from a towering stack on the floor and pretended to read. The only thing she noticed in the magazine was an advertisement featuring a bikini clad model, for it reminded her of the scar across her stomach, and how she would never again feel comfortable in such an outfit at the beach.
Five or ten minutes passed in silence, Mary did not know which, before Eliza appeared in the doorway. “Tell me what you have eaten today,” She commanded. Mary focused her attention on the magazine and shrugged. Eliza crossed her arms over her chest. “I’ll make you something. What do you want?”
“I don’t know,” Mary replied. “I’m not really hungry.”
Eliza’s keen eyes bore through the top of her sister’s head. Mary bemoaned her inability to stand up to her sister. They had vicious wild fights in their youth with hair-pulling and punches thrown but now Mary hardly had the energy to say no.
Eliza stood there, all five foot one, one hundred fifty six pounds of her. To Mary she was as immoveable as a six foot seven, three hundred pound linebacker.
“Pancakes?” Mary asked.
“With strawberries or blueberries?” Eliza queried in return, her voice softer, her concern showing. “I brought both.”
“With both, then.”
“And whipped cream?”
Eliza nodded but instead of retreating to the kitchen, she lingered. Mary looked up and saw an unfamiliar softness upon her sister’s face. It was love, but painful love. The kind mixed with sorrow. Mary wanted to run to her, to hold her sister in her arms, to do anything to offer comfort, to not be a burden, a weight upon the shoulders of this woman, who stopped to check on her baby sister after working in the high school office all day, before going home to her own three children. Mary envied how her sister could assess the needs of all those who depended on her and put her effort towards the most dire situation. It was what a mother did. Mary felt herself the least of all mothers for she could not manage on her own.
Her eyes darted to the corner of the room, there beneath a layer of dust lay her violin case and her music stand. Eliza noticed the glance. Her eyes asked the question. Mary spoke the answer, “I can’t play for you, not today. I just can’t even imagine . . . but soon, my dear sister. I can feel it coming.”
Eliza smiled. “Take your time, sweetheart,” she replied, “take your time.”
Eliza turned back into the kitchen and soon Mary heard the sound of batter being whisked.
My sister, dead three months on the 28th, is gone forever. She isn't coming back, no matter what I think or wish or scream at God that it isn't fair. Not fair for her that is, not me or us or even her myriad friends. It's not fair that she never got to go to Ireland, or Rome or Austria and Germany. It's not fair that she won't be able to visit thrift stores in search of some perfect oddity for the house. Not fair that she will never read any of the thousand books she collected for this special time when she would have time. None of it is fair for her. None of it. People try to help but no one can bear this burden unless they've been through it with you like my other sisters and I did. When I was in high school a classmate wrote a poem about those friends who "just stand by" and I still remember most of it. At times like this, I think that's what friends do if they can do nothing else. Sometimes just knowing someone is standing by should you need a good cry or a talking to, or just to stand in the background shadows like some weakened angel waiting to be called upon. Sometimes you don't have to say anything, write anything or do anything. You just stand by like that angel waiting...
Higher Above Death
“I saw the heaven
when it makes
a gloomy sense in the blues sky
I felt the heaven
when I wander
silent in your sleep
Moon in the outside
reading your dream
And I’m searching
the piece of poetry
that supposed to be
the higher sense of the heaven
In my head,
I’m watching the clouds
rolling over in my sight
In my vein,
I’m pushing the torment
feeding the hungry blood
I can’t be the spurious mind
I would be a ramble silence
Moon in the outside
Reading your dream
And I’m looking for free highway
that supposed to be
Freedom footing above the heaven”
Written on: 24 May 2017
Tribute to Chris Cornell
Excerpt from Stone Souls
Fire tore away at the wooden huts. Water dripped down the tin-roofed sheds and onto the scarred, bloody ground. The wind howled and snapped at the remaining survivors. The streets were torn apart. Houses - shredded. Every street, path and road were encrusted with blood and grime. Bodies lay everywhere; human or Spirit, no one could tell. No one cared. Everybody had their own lives to fight for.
Raindrops dotted his eyelashes, dust and grit coated his silvery hair. The wooden stairs shuddered beneath him as he stood up, starting to splinter. Taking care to avoid the broken glass, he stepped out of the doorway and onto the street, although it did not do much difference to change the view.
Zey-shell. The name was sounded unfamiliar to his ears. It had been a long time since he had heard his own name. His parents had been washed away when the floods had come. He had been visiting cousins in the next country. When he returned, there had been nothing left. Then the fire came, the fire that so greedy it took everyone away. Winds followed from storms at sea. They were constantly waiting for the next attack. It could be anytime, or there could be no attack at all. No one knew what was going to happen, and it terrified them.
“Please, help me.”
His neighbour was trapped underneath his concrete wall, his legs pinned underneath his house. Zeichel pitied the human - almost as much as he pitied his own kind. But he remembered the times when they had struggled, and the neighbour had stared out of the window at them without sympathy. And after all, the world was ending. Everyone would die soon anyway. Crouching, he stared at his face. It was unlike theirs in so many ways. The humans were weak. They were stripped of all power the Spirits had.
“Please, just pull me free. I can help you.” He begged, stretching his arms out like a toddler.
Slowly, Zeichel began to smile. “Help? Like what? Money, food? Open your eyes. The world is dying. We don’t need those things anymore. You might as well burn it all if you’ve got anything left. Your race is dying.”
The man gasped in agony, scrabbling to regain his crushed limbs. “Please, I will do whatever you ask-”
Zeichel crouched down and gently traced patterns into the stained ground. Closing his eyes, he let the power burn behind them. When he opened them again, he could feel the fire in them and knew that his eyes had become milky-white jewels. But the humans were afraid of what they couldn't have. They were afraid of what they couldn't claim as their own, and so they tried to take it away with force.
The neighbour gasped and turned away from Zeichel in surprise. He wouldn't accept Zeichel's help anymore, knowing that it was his kind that had done this.
“Monster,” he choked, blood trickling out of his mouth.
“No,” Zeichel stood. “Spirit.”
* * *
He kept moving, believing that one day he could find his parents again. Although they had never been close, they were family. Together, they could maybe escape. Everywhere he turned, all he saw was death, destruction, the remains of war.
But war required fighting between two sides. They were just the ones who were dying. All the places he had visited had been broken, empty of life. The only survivors he found were other lost Spirits, like him, who were immune to hunger, thirst, and sleep. None of them wanted to work with him, or anyone else, for that matter. Each Spirit had their own ways to go. The world was crumbling like sand, ridding Earth of the humans but keeping the Spirits alive.
At one of the towns, he stopped to gather provisions. Natural water was polluted, and food was scarce.
Sighing, he shoved open the door to a department store. It had remarkably more goods than other places. People, like him, had to take whatever they could find. Zeichel tried not to think of it as stealing. Grimacing at the ominous stains on the floor, he reached up to take a black backpack from a shelf. He waited for the alarms to start blaring, but nothing happened. Someone had already deactivated them.
Most of the food had already been taken, but he found an unopened pack of granola bars and two bottles of water. He slung the bag over his shoulder and made his way to the register. Cashiers usually kept radios or TVs for their breaks. Zeichel occasionally used them to listen to the news, if he could get the right signal.
He found a small TV concealed in one of the cupboards. The cable was still attached to the wall, which meant that no one had tried to steal it yet. The screen was dusty but it flickered to life when Zeichel pressed a button. Most of the channels were cut off but a few of the news channels worked.
“-Recent events at the city centre resulted in the deaths of four brave men, who sacrificed themselves in the fight against the demons.” A news reporter held up four pictures. “Their deaths helped us recapture the demonic individuals, who we have locked away. The location of the prison will not be published.”
Images of faces with gemstone-like eyes showed up. Some of them were contorted in pain, while others were scowling in fury.
“If you see anyone with these eyes, report them immediately. Our telephone number is 4093-8203-0001. Do not engage. We will determine whether they are demon or human. This is a live conversation with Edan Tersi, the man who invented this testing process.”
The news cut to a blurry video of a middle-aged man wearing dark clothes, sweat plastered against his forehead.
“Mr. Tersi, how did you develop this machine?”
The man pulled at his collar nervously. “Recently I discovered that one of my closest childhood friends was a demon. She attacked my family, killed my children. None of these demons are human. We can't trust them. The test determines whether a person is a demon or a human. If they are a demon, they react like they are being burnt-”
An explosion in the building behind him shook the camera to the ground. Flames roared up and touched the smoky sky. Behind Edan Tersi, a door exploded off of its hinges and a group of people - Spirits - came running through. Their faces and hands were covered in dirt and blood. Zeichel watched, horrified, as military troops rushed to the scene. Some of them were blasted away by fire and energy, while others started shooting.
Tersi grabbed at the camera, the veins in his forehead protruding. “Turn it off!”
The screen went blank. Breathing heavily, Zeichel turned to face the cash register. How could anyone treat others like that? Edan Tersi thought that they were demons. Spirits and humans were the same species. One just had magic, and the other didn't. Clenching his fists, Zeichel took a deep breath. Once they were taken by the humans, there was no escaping.
Someone had obviously broken into the cash register before. The drawer was smashed like it had been hit with a hammer. Coins lay scattered on the floor, and there were trails of crumpled paper everywhere. Zeichel left them there. Even if he did take it, there would be no reason to use it. Money was useless, just scraps of paper. Pushing away price lists, he found a drawer with a gun and a pocket knife. He slowly lifted the pocket knife. It seemed like a good weapon, but he didn’t feel like fighting. The war had to stop.
The sound of shattering glass startled him. A gang rushed into the store. One of the older girls clutched the end of a broken bottle. Heart hammering, Zeichel ducked underneath the counter, grabbing the gun from the drawer. He didn’t even know how to use it, but he pulled back part of it, making a distinct snapping noise. He froze.
For a second, nothing happened.
Then, the girl with the broken bottle slammed Zeichel against the drawers. His eyes flashed, and the gun almost slipped out of his hand. None of his muscles wanted to work, but his mind was screaming orders. The girl, seeing the gun, jabbed the broken part of the bottle upwards, aimed perfectly at the artery in his throat.
“Hand over your money,” a guy held his hand out. “Now.”
“There’s some in the cashier,” he said hoarsely, trying to plan out what he was going to do. He knew his magic wasn't close to strong enough to defeat them. As soon as they saw his eyes, they would kill him.
The girl frowned and pulled open the cash register, waving the money at the others. “We need more. If you think we’ll let you go because you let us have some, you’re wrong. Give us the rest.”
“I didn’t take any of it!” Zeichel spat at them. He tightened his grip on the gun, but one of them snatched it away, pressing it against his head. "You’re not going to need it. Money is useless.”
The back of the gun slammed down onto his head, but he didn’t feel the pain. This seemed to infuriate them even more.
“Don’t you know anything? There’s an escape pod. But we gotta pay up. So hand overyour money.”
Zeichel flicked the wrist, throwing them back. Grabbing the gun, he pointed it at them. "Let me go."
Snarling, the girl threw the broken bottle at him. The jagged edges grazed his cheek. Without even flinching, he pulled the trigger. A bullet ricocheted off of a beer can, narrowly missing a gang member’s foot. The scar on his cheek had already begun to heal. Though it was slow, the others noticed.
“You’re one of them,” a girl hissed. “Demon.”
They began advancing towards Zeichel.
“Stay back,” he warned. He aimed at one of their legs and pulled the trigger, but it only made a dull click sound. Cursing, he tossed the gun aside and held both hands out. ”I have nothing on me, I swear. Just let me go, and you can go back to mugging people.”
The others laughed, but it was hollow. “Let one of you go? We’ll be heroes for killing one of your kind.” A boy whipped out a switchblade, while another set fire to an alcohol-drenched newspaper and held it like a detonating bomb. Although Zeichel wasn’t one to back down from a fight, he was outnumbered. He jumped up and over the counter, shoving open the exit doors of the store. There was no time to look back. Beer cans and pieces of garbage rained down on his back. The backpack was weighing him down, but he couldn't stop moving. Jumping over overturned trashcans, he ducked into an alley.
After a while, the footsteps stopped. Zeichel ran to the town centre, panting. Touching his cheek, he felt a scar forming. Furiously, he kicked an empty soda can. It skidded across the ground, clattering out of sight. The humans had never treated them equally. Swinging his fist, he punched a wall, almost breaking his hand. His chest rose and fell with each breath, and he clenched his fists, wanting to scream.
“There’s another one,” a voice called.
Startled, he turned, his hand still throbbing. Two people were behind him. Not people. Spirits. Fire flickered in the woman’s hand, tendrils of it stretching out lazily. Zeichel blinked.
In a second, they were by his side, gripping his arms tightly.
“Hey, what are you-?”
“Be quiet,” the man grumbled, though his voice was soft. “Don’t try to fight us. You’ve seen only a little of what we can do. If they like you, they’ll keep you. And if they don’t, you’ll still be rewarded. You're one of us, aren’t you?” His fingers dug into Zeichel’s arm.
“Of course he is, you idiot,” the woman snapped. “We’ve been taught how to distinguish their Auras. Can’t you tell? We’re wasting time. They’re waiting. Let’s go.”
“What are you talking about?” Zeichel planted his feet. “Let me go.”
The woman patted him gently on the back as if trying to console him. “Calm down,” she hushed. “We’re like you. We’re fighting back against them.”
“What? But I'm not-”
The man laughed. “You think we’re humans?” He started chuckling, the thought pleasing him. “We know exactly who you are, Zeichel Crea. You’re like us. We’re like you. We’re Spirits.”
* * *
There were other people - roughly around his age, sixteen, lying around him, looking confused. He didn't know where he was, or why he was there. Where they all Spirits, like him. He had tried asking the man and woman what they had meant, but they had simply dropped him at the clearing and had left.
“What are we doing here?” He turned to the girl next to him, who was glaring menacingly at the others. Her chin-length black hair was wet like she had been swimming. Blinking her brown eyes, she frowned and tilted her chin towards the centre of the clearing, where the man and woman who had ‘escorted’ Zeichel were talking to others. Were they all Spirits?
“They brought us here,” she shrugged. There was something different about her accent. Zeichel wasn’t used to it.
“Yeah, I realise that,” he rolled his eyes. “Where are you from?”
The girl narrowed her eyes as if she wasn’t sure whether he was genuinely curious. For a second, she hesitated. “Japan,” she paused. “But half American, too. I’ve been running for three years. We have to get out of here.” Her eyes flickered, changing to orange sapphires. She was a Spirit.
Shuffling backwards, Zeichel pointed at the others. “Aren’t they Spirits?”
She scowled. “Are you stupid? Humans are always lying. Can you reach my hands?” She twisted her back, and Zeichel realised that her hands and legs had been tied together with metal cuffs. Seeing him staring, she rolled her eyes. “I was trying to get away. Help me. We can escape.”
Zeichel frowned. “Why? I don’t even know you. And besides, I want to hear what these people have to say. If they’re human, I’ll untie you. If they’re not, they might be able to help us.” He motioned at the others around them. “We can fight back.”
The girl opened her mouth, her caramel eyes burning like fire. “But-”
There was a sudden, high-pitched noise, like a metal fork against a ceramic plate. The noise stopped almost immediately, but it had caught everyone’s attention. Nobody made a sound. The girl next to Zeichel stood, but the others flicked their wrists and she fell down. She turned to Zeichel with a murderous rage in her eyes, as if to say, "See?"
A sleek black car pulled up into the clearing. The engine was so quiet, none of them noticed it at first. Others stepped up to open the doors.
Two young men around the age of seventeen got out of the car. Their startlingly white hair contrasted against their dark attire, and their white-iris eyes flashed menacingly. Twins. If they hadn’t been wearing different coloured hoodies - blue and black - nobody would have been able to tell them apart. They were beautiful, like marble statues. Both of them wore star-sapphire rings. Zeichel stared at them, eyebrows furrowed. He had a feeling that he had seen them somewhere before, but he couldn’t remember.
“Sorry for the trouble,” one of the brothers, the one in the blue hoodie, grinned devilishly. “You can call me Romar Braus. Br-a-oo-s. My brother is Broo-a. Romar is our sort of . . . honorary name. You may have heard of us.” He opened his hand, and flames rose out of his palm. Zeichel crossed his arms, unimpressed. Many of them could do it, and it wasn't that hard. But Romar Braus splayed his fingers, and the fire grew larger.
“We are descendants of one of the first Spirits that ever existed, and our power is stronger than most. We’ve grown up surrounded by magic, while you have not. You have witnessed what the humans have done - what they are still doing - to us Spirits. We’re fighting against it. This is our world, too, and we deserve our lives.” With each word, the fire in his hand got larger and larger. Flicking his wrist, the fire shot across the clearing and the nearest house went up in flames with a loud bang!
People began muttering. None of them had grown up with the luxury of living with magic; that was something nobody could achieve. Zeichel turned to the girl next to him.
“No human could do that,” he whispered. She scowled in response.
Romar Brua waved his hand, and a small glass screen appeared. “In case you are wondering,” he projected his voice. “We are looking for recruits. Anyone can join us if you are strong enough. Those that are not will be free if you wish.”
The brothers stepped towards them, who were being hustled into rows by the older Spirits. Zeichel needed time to plot out what he had to do. Would he join them? Would he stay away? They claimed to be fighting against the humans, but Zeichel had never fought before.
While Braus scanned the teenagers by touching the screen with their hands, Brua kept talking.
“The humans have realised what we are. They’ve tried stopping us more than once, and this is only one fight of the war. As usual, we’ll just fight back harder. This,” he gestured to the screen. “Can scan your abilities and strengths. If we think you’re strong enough, you can join us. You’ll be able to fight for what we stand for and reclaim this world as ours. And those of you that don’t feel strong enough, don't worry. Stay out of sight, where you won't be hurt.”
Braus helped the first Spirit up to his feet, whispering something to him. Nodding, the guy shuffled forward to join the other Spirits, who were waiting for the brothers. There was no cheer or hearty welcome; only a small pat on the back, a pitiful smile. Zeichel watched curiously as they went down the row of Spirits. Some chose to leave, looking nervously at them as they left. One by one, each of them made their decision.
The girl next to Zeichel paused when they came to her, her eyes landing on the crystalline daggers sheathed at their waists.
“Hold your hand out,” Braus said, a soft warmth in his eyes. “We won't hurt you.”
Narrowing her eyes, she gingerly held out her hand. Braus grabbed her wrist and pressed the glass against her fingertips. Zeichel saw it light up with information. He wondered what kind of magic it used; he had never seen anything like it before.
“Kaoru Takahara, will you be joining us?”
Kaoru blinked. “I can choose?”
Brua nodded. “You will be welcomed by us,” he motioned to the others. “We can teach you how to defend yourself and how to use your magic. Or you can stay out here, in the remains of civilisation, and find your own ways to survive. If you leave, we can't protect you. You can't change your mind.”
Zeichel had to admit, they did have the skill of persuasion. They knew exactly who to target and how to influence them. If they had been human, this war would have finished centuries ago.
Kaoru glanced at the others, then back down at her feet. She shook her head slightly. “I-I’m sorry. I just can’t fight. Can I go?” Shakily, she stood, her eyes lowered, shoulders drooping.
The brothers nodded, looking disappointed. “Stay safe.” They watched as she turned, trembling, and ran back into the shadows. Zeichel respected her decision, though he thought it was a foolish one. The only way to increase their chance of survival was to keep fighting.
Without being instructed Zeichel held up his hand. The glass felt cold, and a jolt of electricity went down his spine as he touched it. Aware of the fact that the brothers were staring at him, he lowered his hand tentatively.
“Zeichel,” Braus sounded interested. “You are strong for your age, and your soul has potential. Will you join us? We can teach you things-”
“I don't need the speech,” Zeichel muttered tiredly. “How does my soul have potential?”
Romar Braus tapped the screen. “It means that your powers are excellent if used correctly. Your soul is what improves your magic. Without it, you will still retain your powers, but they won't progress. Each soul can contain a specific amount of power. So, will you be joining us or not?”
Dark drops of rain started to splatter the ground. Slowly, Zeichel rose to his feet. The sky rumbled in a hushed warning. If he made the right choice, he would survive the war. And if he didn’t, he would be persecuted. Taking a step forward, he slowly made his way to where the other recruits had joined.
Looking back, he saw the brothers nod simultaneously, their jewelled eyes flickering.
* * *
Over time, the Romar brothers became like family, as promised. They taught the new recruits how to strengthen their magic and how to fight with weapons. They were more like family to Zeichel than his parents had been. He felt safer fighting by the brothers’ side. Over the course of a few months, they managed to destroy many of the human testing areas. Zeichel never saw Edan Tersi again. He hoped he was dead, but he had the feeling that he was just hiding, waiting for the chance to get them.
It was one of those days when the brothers came up with an idea. They were very secretive about it, but they asked to talk to Zeichel. They tried not to favour some Spirits over others, but Zeichel had the feeling that they were about to tell him something they wouldn’t tell anyone else.
“When we recruited you,” Brua began cautiously. “We said your soul had potential.”
“Yeah,” Zeichel nodded, wondering where this was going. “And my magical power cannot grow without it.”
Braus grinned. “Precisely. Let us tell you something, something the others do not know. Souls have magical value.”
Closing his eyes, Zeichel felt the familiar surge of power at his fingertips. He could almost tell where this was going. “I understand. And you want me to give up mine for our cause.”
The Romar brothers glanced at each other. “The humans have started to understand our genetics. They are learning how to manipulate us, how to limit our powers. We need to introduce new threats.”
“How would my soul help?”
Braus twisted the silver ring on his hand. “Stronger souls have stronger power. Humans have next to no power, but ours can grow. When a soul is separated from its owner and converted into pure magic, it releases a massive amount of energy. This energy can be used to jump-start potent spells.”
Zeichel tried to wrap his head around it. He didn't mind giving his soul if it meant he would be helping the Spirits. The only thing he worried about was what being soul-less felt like. “Won’t I lose all of my emotions?” He asked. “I’ll just be a shell. Human.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Brua briefly touched the crystalline dagger at his waist. “Think of it this way. You have a family.” His expression softened. “And one day, you lose them. But you don’t lose the experiences you’ve had with them, right? You still remember everything that happened, the memories are intact. Losing them only stops you from growing those memories and experiences further, from making more. Do you understand?”
“You’re saying that if I give up my soul, I won’t be able to grow my magic, and I won’t be able to grow new emotions?” Zeichel wondered why they had chosen him, of all people. There were plenty of other Spirits that were probably waiting right outside of the door, ready to give their lives for the Romar twins. “So if I’ve never fallen in love with someone-”
“Then you never will,” Braus said stiffly. “This is your choice. You'll keep all of your magical talents and emotions, like anger, sadness, happiness, family. You just won’t be able to grow them. Soulless people also tend to experience stronger emotions than normal, because your soul isn’t there to control it.” He hesitated, and gently placed his hand on Zeichel’s shoulder.
Zeichel sighed. “I understand that our situation is getting worse. I can do it. I am strong enough to survive without it.”
The Romar twins grinned in unison. “Thank you. You will be remembered a hero.” They patted him on the back, smiling.
Taking a deep breath, Zeichel nodded. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”
* * *
A week passed.
Then two more.
And before they knew it, it had been a month.
The brothers had not returned.
It took them a while to realise it. Maybe because they were hoping to hear from them again. Maybe they didn’t really believe it. For a while, they waited, but most of the newer recruits started to drift away. Soon, most of them had disappeared. Almost nothing was left of their army.
Using Zeichel’s soul, the twins had released the seal that had been placed on the gates of Hell. Demons had crawled out and had destroyed what remained of Earth. The humans were not heard from again. After everyone else had left, Zeichel had gone outside to look for the twins. The only thing he had found was their rings, half-buried in the dirt. Grief consumed him. Nothing mattered anymore. For a few days, he sat there, the rings clasped between his fingers. The war was over. Demons roamed the Earth, but none of them bothered him. They didn’t see the fight in him. Maybe they pitied him. Maybe they knew his life was as good as over.
The only reason why he had gotten back up and kept walking was so he wouldn't forget what they had fought for. Once returning to their base, he gathered the information they had and read them over and over. Even though the brothers had said that he would not be able to grow his magical strength without his soul, he realised that they had taught him just enough to learn what they had. None of the others cared that he had taken it - they were either dead or close to it.
Zeichel had bumped into Spirits who were relocating the humans while wandering around. They had taken one look at him, written his name down, and had told him that Spirits who had worked with the Romar brothers wouldn't be allowed to leave. Zeichel didn’t care. The Spirits and the humans, allies. Most of the humans being teleported away looked dazed and confused. They had had their memories wiped. They had the luxury of forgetting their pain, forgetting the carnage they were leaving behind.
Almost everyone who had survived the war had left or were dead. Earth was abandoned. The only people who were left were Spirits, like him, who had worked with the Romar brothers. The ones that had been cast away. No one dared bother Zeichel - they knew how much they had meant to him and the anger that was consuming him.
Zeichel swore to himself, no matter what obstacles stood in his way, he would finish what the brothers had started. He would destroy humankind and create an entirely new world for them, the Spirits, the pure. He would let only the strong ones survive, the ones who were fully Spirit. The humans would perish.
* * *
Title: Stone Souls
Genre: Fantasy fiction
Age Range/Target Audience: 13 - 16
Word count of excerpt: 4702
Author name: Amy Phelps
Why is this a good fit? This is an excellent choice for those who enjoy reading fantasy and magic novels. It is set in a completely different world where humans and Spirits live in peace. The plot follows a Spirit named Lira with the help of her newly-made friends tries to stop those blinded by hatred destroying the human race.
The hook: The message of this book is that all living things should live in harmony, no matter their race or differences. Although the humans and Spirits are essentially the same species, they fear one another because they are different. This hatred of one another creates wars between the two, leading them to believe that only the better race will emerge unscathed.
Synopsis: When Earth was destroyed in the battle between humankind and Spiritkind, the Spirits relocated them to their new planet, Ziaro. Those with the intention of getting revenge on humankind were left on Ruined Earth. All is peaceful until a Spirit blinded by hatred invades Ziaro, determined to wipe out humankind. Lira Schyros is a Spirit, who, like others, will protect what she believes in. Growing up without support from her family, she must find a way to protect the world she loves and show her true colours.
Bio Platform: I was born in Hongkong, but I live in Tokyo, Japan. I love writing and have started many stories on www.storybird.com, where I am known as starrywriter10. I've loved writing since the third grade and have always tried to take part in writing stories in any way I can. However, I have never published a book, only shared them online. For the past four years I went to an international school in China, but now I am going to one in Tokyo. Whenever I have the time, I study vocabulary on my own and try to keep improving my writing skills. My hobbies are reading, knitting, playing badminton, writing, cooking, and making crafts.
When I first stood over the
grave of youth, uncertain
a crow perched himself
upon the crooked cross
motioned his beak as
if to give last rites and
“Do you know, fool boy,
what to say to the ferryman?”
I crossed my chest, considered
his question, shook my head
“Not coin, nor offering.
Not blood, nor bravery.
“It is but a word, yet still
a weapon, a danger.
“Utter this, fool boy,
and you will know.
“The garden. The valley.
The soil of creation.
“The man at the gate
fancies himself a saint.
“He will ask a question
scripted in iron, in stone.
“Do not let your eyes
waiver and say ‘No’.”
I thanked him and
went on my way
telling him that
I would rather burn
in the truth
than sing with the