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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by ceilster in portal Fiction

Excerpt From My Book

Chapter Thirteen: Uwa and Tyf

They chased the sun across the sky, the night licking at their feet until Uwa and Tyf’s house appeared in the fading light. They lived on a large rounded rock in the middle of the ocean that reminded Anne of the small islands in Thailand, covered in moss and trees. There was a small pale house sitting on top with an orange roof and as they flew closer and closer, Anne could make out the pale purple color of the door, the round windows and arched roof. The Hawdirs hesitated when they got closer but Anne and Aaron steered them forward.

They landed at the edge, the winged deers huffing uncomfortably, their hooves scraping crumbling rocks off the edge. A man and woman stood just outside the door, arms wrapped around each other. Anne got off her Hawdir and stepped forward for a closer look.

The woman had a very stern face, pale lips tilted in a frown, lavender eyes narrowed. Her hair was long and white and her sundress black, a glimmer of silver constellations revealing themselves in the breeze. The man was different with warm bronze skin, and bright golden hair, almost orange. He greeted them with his welcomingly red eyes and wide grin. The woman continued to frown, the silver gem on her forehead glinting in the fading light. They bowed when they got closer. Anne looked to Aaron, not sure which one was which god.

“Uwa,” Aaron bowed at the woman, “Tyf,” he nodded at the man, “we have come--”

“We know why you are here,” the woman waved her hand, silencing them. Her body looked frail, broken, especially next to Tyf, who was broad chested and open. “My sister sent me a message.”

“So…” Aaron drawled, glancing at Anne. She turned to Uwa.

“W-we need your shard.”

“And you may have it,” Tyf smiled.

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“But,” Uwa glowered at her fellow god, “we cannot just hand it over to you.”

Anne frowned. “W-why not?”

Uwa gestured to the ground. “It is below us.”

Aaron looked around. “Like, in the water? Or…”

“We built a labyrinth.” Tyf was super chipper, swaying on his feet. “Underground.”

The woman pinched his side, glaring. “Only those with pure intention may enter and only those with nerve shall leave.”

“How big is the, uh,” Anne looked down at the ground, searching for the entrance, “labyrinth?”

“Big,” Colin said, shifting. “It keeps going down.”

“And it’s dangerous too,” Tyf grinned. Anne was beginning to hate his grin.

“We have our treasure heavily guarded, so that scoundrels like you,” Uwa scowled at them, “do not steal our shards.” Anne wasn't sure who was better or worse, Uwa for her lack of faith in them or Tyf for being super excited about all of this.

“What…what do you mean by heavily guarded?” Uwa grinned sharply, her mouth twisted in a way that revealed too much teeth. Uwa was definitely worse, her smile giving Anne goosebumps. Anne shook her head, not really wanting to know the answer now. Colin closed his eyes, sighing deeply.

“The Qookas and the Fuermas of course,” she said.

“What’s…” Anne leaned over to Aaron, not really expecting Colin to know. “What are those?”

Aaron shivered. “My uncle ran into a Qooka and it almost mauled off his face. They’re like raccoons.” Aaron frowned. “Fuermas are like…phoenixes, they’re fire birds.”

“Oh, um…okay,” she leaned away. Uwa was staring down at Anne, a glint in her eyes. The sky was darkening and her skin was glowing, Tyf’s smile fading. His bright red eyes were turning into a dull orange and Uwa’s into a pale lavender.

“Just behind the tree,” she pointed to a tall cherry blossom. “Only the strong will survive.” Uwa grinned that uncomfortable smile.

“Try not to die,” Tyf waved. “Good luck guys.” He turned to Uwa and kissed her cheek, “See you inside, honey.” Uwa nodded and he went inside

She waved in the direction of the tree. “Go on.” Anne looked at Aaron and then Colin. Aaron was frowning and Colin’s eyes were still closed, exhaustion clear on his face. Anne nodded and started walking.

The cherry blossom was tall and pink, but in the dark, it was different, a more purple shade. The trunk was twisted in knots and its roots looped in and out of the rock, moss growing around it. On the other side of it, away from the house, was a patch of smooth black rock with a rune carved into it. They huddled around it, eyeing the lavender color of the rune.

Anne opened her mouth, “What…” then she closed it, frowning, before opening it again, “What do we do?”

Aaron’s frown was morphing his face, his brow creasing. “Colin?”

“Hmm?”

“What’s there?” Colin leaned down, hand extended. Aaron rushed forward, “Wait! Don’t touch--” Colin’s palm pressed down on the rock. It glowed brightly beneath his palm and the ground crumbled away into a long ramp of smooth stone. Aaron and Colin fell into the darkness. There was a soft thump at what was probably the bottom. Anne’s mouth opened and scrambled after them, sliding down the ramp. The rock was smooth and cold, slightly damp and behind her, the hole hatched itself up, sealing up the fading sun and rising moon.

They were just at her feet, faces still pressed to the stone. Anne stood up and looked around. The natural light from above had disappeared, but the tunnels were dimly lit by ink on the walls. Swirls of orange looped and traced down the path, one constant line, as if Tyf had come down there and run through the halls, waving his arm up and down like a little kid. Anne wouldn’t be surprised if he had.

She helped them up. Colin was scratched up and the bandage on Aaron’s face had peeled off, the cut reopening. Aaron quickly made another bandage before Anne could try and hastily smeared it onto his face, wiping away the blood. “I was gonna say,” Aaron wiped his hands on his jeans, “that the ink might be poisonous.”

“Oh…” Colin looked down at his hands. There was no ink there, only dirt. “Well, I’m alright.”

“Okay,” Anne nodded. She looked further into the tunnel. “Should we…go?”

“Yeah.” Aaron made three sunblades and handed one to each of them. “We’ll need these.”

“W-what for?” Anne asked, pocketing the knife.

“The Qookas since they’re shadow creatures.”

“What about the Fuermas?” Colin frowned, twisting the blade. “Didn’t you say they were like phoenixes? That doesn’t sound shadow based.”

“You’re right.” Aaron shaped his hands together, staring at the orange ink on the walls. “There’s this…type of khopesh, I might…” he closed his eyes, brows scrunching, “I think I can--” A burst of light flashed in the room and a curved sword appeared in his grasp.

The khopesh was made of silver, unlike the golden sunblade, and cast a dark shadow when Aaron swung it. It had a long strap and on the blade were inscriptions that Anne didn’t know how to read that glinted in the light. Anne pulled the knife closer to her, staring at the runes. “And this will kill the Fuermas?”

“It should.” Aaron slung it behind his back. “I’ve only heard that Khonwas can do the deed. But I’ve never had to use one before.”

Anne nodded and turned to Colin. “Lead the way?”

“What? Why?” he narrowed his eyes.

She gave him a look. “Because you’re a Vibrem? You’d know the way? You can sense where things are going?”

“Oh,” Colin blinked and nodded, “okay. Yeah. It’s pretty much--” he closed his eyes for a long moment. “One route, but there’s,” he pointed further into the tunnel, “something, that way.”

“Like, right ahead?”

“No, it’s just in that direction. We have to go down. But there are...I think Fuermas, east of us.”

“Okay, lead the way,” Anne shooed him forward.

Colin walked slowly, but surely, keeping his ears trained. Aaron kept his sunblade out, holding it wearily. The other boy made no move to warn him of any danger, so Anne felt less inclined to hold her blade, pocketing it in her purse next to the collected key parts, but understood that they were in a dark tunnel where unknown monsters could attack at any moment. At the end of the tunnel, there was another slide, similar to the one they entered the tunnels through.

Anne wished for a moment, while squinting in the dim light, that she could use her Irahn abilities and make a constant flame to light the path more, but was also worried that if she could, she would probably burst into flames and end up doing more harm than good. 

They slid down and then turned west. They walked a stretch of tunnel before coming to another edge. Anne looked forward and found long platforms leading down, the glowing ink splattered on the ledges.

“Why?” Anne frowned, not like the effort needed to jump off of things, but moved onto the platform and jumped down to the next one, scraping her knee on the ground. Aaron helped her up and they moved along, jumping down the next three platforms before landing at the bottom. They went east again and found another set of platforms. Anne grumbled as they went down more platforms, moved west, down another set of platforms, and then back east.

Then they had to go up since the path shot straight up, the ink on the walls twirling up like a spiral. There was a single rope ladder that reached the top. Colin stopped and pointed to the top. “The Fuermas are up there.”

“How many?”

“At least three.” Aaron touched his Khonwa and moved towards the ladder, jerking on the two ropes and testing the strength of the wood steps by raising his one foot onto it. He nodded and gestured to Anne to climb it.

Anne’s stomach coiled, staring up at the rope. “I’m not--I can’t,” she scowled. “I have no upper arm strength. I can’t climb this. I’m too heavy.” The ladder went far up and it swayed more than Anne would have liked.

Aaron patted her back. “You can do it.”

“No, I can’t.”

“Yes you can.”

“You can,” Anne gestured at him, “you’re a fifteen year old boy. You’ve got biceps--I’ve got,” she touched her sides, “flubber.” Colin and Aaron opened their mouths to say something, but she waved them aside, not wanting to hear their words. “Fine! Whatever. But you’re catching me if I fall.”

“Here, you’ll need this,” Aaron took off his khopesh. He handed it to her and she put it on her back. She nodded and moved towards the ladder, stepping up one. She climbed up the rope, slow, uneasy steps since it swayed slightly and she was always afraid that it would twist around and her body would hang precariously upside down, but it never twisted and it never broke; she never fell. Colin was climbing five steps below her and Aaron three steps below him.

She somehow hefted herself onto the ledge at the top, rolling onto the ground. Down the tunnel, where the light was brighter, she could hear the flap of wings and sharp squawks. Colin came closer; she helped him up onto the ledge and they helped Aaron when it was his turn. Aaron took the Khonwa from Anne and held it up threateningly, edging slowly towards the bright light.

She was just about to ask him for a Khonwa of her own when a Fuerma hobbled out, its pink eyes narrowing at them. It squawked three times then hobbled into the bright light to the other birds. The Fuerma was a crimson flamingo with golden and orange feathers and wings that drooped down to the floor. It had long tail feathers, similar to the wings, and a large golden plume on the top of its head. The beak was curved and black. When it came back with two more birds, the Fuermas squawked at them and then lunged.

The problem with fighting the Fuermas was that Aaron had only made one Khonwa and there were three birds. Anne was going to hit him. Aaron swung smoothly and sliced off the thin neck of a Fuerma, the bird dissolving into black ash at the floor. Another one lunged for Anne and Colin and they both ducked away. Heat swelled in her hands and she clapped her hands together, imagining a big shield. Two extras popped out and Anne handed one to Colin, who rolled away, and tried to throw one to Aaron but ended up hitting the Fuermas he was fighting in the head. It stopped, turning its beady eyes towards her, and Aaron took the chance, swinging the khopesh down on the bird.

The last Fuerma squawked and flapped its wings at them, a burst of fire zooming towards all of them before they held up their shields in protection, squatting down. The bird flew away, down the tunnel and further, taking the bright light with it. Anne stood up from her crouch, the boys doing the same.

“Nice throw,” Aaron held out his fist for her to pump. She grimaced and looked down at the shield.

“I was trying to give it to you but then it just…”

“Well,” he grinned, “still.”

Anne nodded and then jabbed his arm. “Y-you need to give us Khonwas.”

“Oh,” Aaron nodded, but then frowned. “Why don’t you do it?” They started walking again.

She shook her head, “I’ll just mess it up.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean,” she gestured at Aaron, “you’ve seen me. I can’t--I’m not good at control or making this stuff.” There was another slide. Colin went first, Anne and Aaron trailing behind.

“But that was like,” Aaron frowned, “two months ago? I’m sure you’ve improved.” Anne shook her head.

“I haven't. I'm--I'm the worst, I'm just--” 

They slid down, picking themselves up from the bottom. They went west. “C’mon, why don’t you just try? It’ll be okay.”

Anne sighed, exhaustion weighing on her. Today had been such a long day, she wondered when they’d get out of the tunnels. Would it be in an hour, two hours, six? They needed sleep. Aaron looked wide awake, energetic even, but Colin’s steps were slower, more hesitant, shoulders slumped. Anne held out her hand. “Let me see it.”

“The Khonwa?”

“Yes, the Khonwa,” she rolled her eyes. Aaron handed it to her. They went down a set of platforms, jumping from end to end, Anne making sure the edge of the blade was pointed away from her. They moved back east. She looked at the silver metal closely under the hazy glow of the orange swirls and loops, memorizing the exact curve. There was a set of stairs made from the tunnel stone, black and gray granite going up. They went up ten steps before it evened out to flat ground, before it slid back down. At the bottom of the decline, was another set of platforms to go down. They went down one set, walked left a few feet, went down another set, turned right, and then jumped down another set of platforms. Anne handed the blade back to Aaron, panting. She rested against the tunnel wall, right underneath the glowing ink,

“Be careful of the ink,” Aaron pointed to the spot above her curls. “It might zap you.” Anne nodded.

“I hate this maze.”

Colin slumped down next to her. “I agree.”

“I’m not built for exercise.”

“Don’t be such wimps.” Aaron turned to Anne. “Let’s see it?”

“Oh,” Anne looked down at her hands. Heat sizzled at her fingertips. She closed her eyes. “I--yeah, probably.” She brought up the image of the Khonwa in her head, her forehead creasing. The heat swelled, forming in her hands. The khopesh started to form, but then the magic fizzled and cracked, and two more blades erupted and fell to the floor, one dented, the other gold. The third one, the one in her hands, melted and seeped through her fingers.

She huffed, smearing the goop on her hands onto the walls. Aaron sighed and Colin frowned at the knives, picking up the gold one. It was useless, just an ordinary knife without any runes, but he shouldered the long strap anyway. “Why don’t you keep trying?” Colin suggested, Anne nodded, and they started walking again. They walked up another set of stairs.

Anne thought about it and tried it again, five small khopeshes clanking on the ground. She kicked them out of the way. There was another slide. Her butt was hurting from going down so much, but she went down anyway. The slide zigzagged and Anne squawked, slipping backwards and landing hard on her bottom, her hair falling in her face. Colin and Aaron fell on top of her, Colin’s elbow on her thigh and Aaron’s face smushed in her stomach. Anne scrambled up, swiping her hair aside. Colin clenched his eyes and got up, Aaron groaning next to him.

“Here,” Anne offered her hand to Aaron. He took it and Anne realized how much older and heavier he was when she had to haul him up herself, Anne stumbling forward a bit. Aaron swiped his hair out of his eyes and Colin readjusted his blue jacket, huddling under it. Aaron thanked her and they moved down the tunnel, still following the orange ink. It trickled up some stairs, across another stretch of flat ground, and down another set of platforms. Anne made another khopesh and swung it in the air, the blade flinging out of the hilt and imbedding itself into the wall, four other knives falling onto the ground around her. Anne frowned.

Colin slowed down. “You might not be able to make a Khonwa before we see more Fuermas.”

They were stopped at the foot of another ladder. Anne frowned because she didn’t know what Colin meant and because ladders meant more climbing. “What do you mean?”

Colin pointed down at the ground in the far corner in front of them, at the wall the ladder rested against. “There in that direction. They’re below us a few levels.”

“Do you know how many?” Aaron asked, but Colin shook his head. Aaron turned to Anne. “Can you try one more time?”

Anne nodded, clenched her eyes shut, and curled her fingers around the heat, a ball of light forming in her palms. She shaped it, remembering everything, the weight, the inscriptions, the curve. The Khonwa appeared in her hands, perfect and beautiful. Anne moved it in her grasp and swiped it in the air, just like Aaron had with his to make sure it was real, but when she did, the blade snapped off the hilt and to the ground. Colin made a noise and Anne growled, throwing the hilt at the wall. Aaron moved to touch her but she shouldered him off and started climbing the rope.

She wasn’t thinking about the strain in her arms or the ache in her feet until after she climbed to the top, had to go up a flight of stairs, and stopped at the edge of one of the platform sets. Aaron handed her and Colin a Khonwa each. Aaron opened his mouth to say something to her, but Anne glanced at Colin.

“What’s down there?”

Colin peered over the edge of the platform. “We need to jump down, go down a slide, and jump some more. There’s a bit of tunnel, some more jumps, and then I think the Fuermas are down there.”

“Really?” Anne sighed. She didn’t really want to jump or fight, more like sleep, but they had to. They had to keep going, had to get out of these tunnels, get the key piece, move onto the next stop, get all the key pieces and everything, and then go save her dad and stop Trusde or else the entire world would probably be destroyed and they’d all be dead. The tunnel walls suddenly felt smaller and her foot on the platform wobbled. She felt like her chest was caving in on itself, a sudden spike of a headache at her temple.

She blinked and stepped forward, hopping down. She followed Colin’s directions, down the two sets of platforms and closer to the tunnel’s edge for another set of jumping down. There was more squawking below and when she stepped onto the platform, peering over the edge, a brighter light filled the chasm. Colin stopped beside her and looked down at the Khopesh in his hands. “Is this a bad time to say that I don’t know how to use this?”

Aaron stood next to Colin and swung out his own blade. “Just gotta swing it around. Later, I’ll teach you some more moves.” Colin nodded and they watched Aaron swing some more times for demonstration. Aaron hopped down. “I’ll go down first.” He disappeared into the glow and Anne followed him.

At the bottom, there were thirteen large Fuermas swarming around Aaron. He sliced at two birds in one smooth motion before he disappeared from view. Anne was immediately attacked, a Fuerma biting down on her shoulder and flapping fire at her clothes. Her jeans caught aflame and Anne swung the Khonwa down, a shadow slicing one of the wings off. The Fuerma roared and dragged its beak down, wrapping its leg around hers. Anne’s heart pounded, trapped. Another Fuerma came at her other side, pecking at her neck, heat piping hot on her skin. She swung wildly, cutting the second Fuerma’s neck off and then stabbing the first one in the chest, where its heart was. They fell to ash around her and she patted down her jean legs against a wall, muffling the fire.

Colin was fighting two Fuermas and Aaron was fighting five of them, the other two running for her. Aaron made a second Khonwa in his hands and sliced off more bird necks. Anne did the same, taking out the first one with one swing, and then ducking away from the other and cutting at its thin black legs. She was following some kind of instinct that was surging up inside of her, like she had always known how to fight. It rushed through her veins and pummeled in her fists, raising her khopesh to swoop down and cut off another wing. The Fuerma cried out, one wing and leg missing. It hobbled, flapped its fire wing at her. The flames singed the top of her raincoat and licked at her neck, searing her jaw in heat. Anne cried out, slammed the blade down, and the Fuerma dissolved to ash.

She breathed in through her nose, panting, holding still. Tears bubbled at her eyes, the burn hurting so much. She wanted to poke and prod at it but Colin was whimpering, his back and hair on fire. He had the khopesh raised, caught in one of the Fuerma’s beak while the other one bit down on his shoulder. Anne ran forward, taking out the one with the Khonwa in its mouth, and Colin swung wildly down on the other one. Ash pooled around them. Anne took off her jacket and patted his hair and clothes down from the fire.

When she was done, Colin was staring at her, mouth quivering. She could see a burn on his cheek and tears welling in those black slanted eyes. She was going to wipe them away but then remembered it would probably be too much and then Aaron was shouting something and they twisted away, moving towards him.

Aaron had killed two of them, burns littering his arms. His jacket was roped around a Fuerma’s head, stopping it from moving its beak. The other one was stabbing his back with its beak and the third one flapping fire at him. Anne lunged forward, slicing the flapping Fuerma, flames tickling her face, and Colin swatted at the one pecking at Aaron. Colin wasn’t very good at fighting, swatting hazardly everywhere. Anne took the jacket from Aaron, pulling the Fuerma toward her. Aaron plunged the knife into its neck just as Colin swiped at the other one, covering them both in ash.

They stood there, panting among all the ash. Colin suddenly sneezed and Aaron started laughing. Anne rubbed at her eyes, exhaustion weighing down on her again. She rubbed at her eyes, touched her burnt jaw, and hissed, jerking her hand away. Aaron stopped laughing and pulled them both closer, taking in their injuries and his own. His face was bleeding again and the boys had some particularly nasty gashes on their backs and necks. Anne was lucky enough to really only be burnt on her face.

“Here,” Aaron dug into his jacket pocket and pulled something out. It was a small rounded phial filled with an amber liquid. He took off the cork stopper and started pouring it onto his fingers. Aaron reached for Anne and smeared the liquid onto her skin.

Fizzling heat swarmed at the burn, but this time the heat didn’t hurt, just sizzle and spread. It covered her skin and made it feel better. It smelled sweet too. Anne took a deep breath of it. The liquid smelled a lot like. “Is that…honey?”

Colin breathed into and scrunched up his nose. “And lavender?”

“Yeah,” Aaron poured a liberal amount on Colin’s hands, who immediately started to apply it even though he winced at the first touch of it. “And some ginger. It’s, uh,” he dabbed it on his cuts and burns, “a remedy. For minor injuries.”

“What about the burns?” Anne gestured to her face. She could feel the skin shifting and stitching itself back together, but when she touched it after the fizzling stopped, it was still rough and tender, scabbed. When she looked at Colin and Aaron, their skin was the same.

“It’ll heal on its own. The balm just speeds up the process.”

“Why didn’t you use that earlier?” Colin gestured to Aaron’s cut from underwater, which had now disappeared.

He touched where the cut was and sighed. “It should be used sparingly. I didn’t want us to run out.”

“But can’t you just make more?”

“No, I don’t know how. Potions like these…they’re very difficult to just make. And yeah, if I could I would, but then we might’ve taken too much of it and that wouldn’t be good.” At their blank looks, Aaron sighed. “It’s like normal medicine. Too much of it and,” he made a gurgling noise and marked a line across his neck, sticking his tongue out. Anne scoffed at his choice of description, but nodded. Aaron shoved the phial back in his jacket.

They picked up anything they dropped and started walking again. They went down a slide and started walking up two sets of stairs, silent again. Anne rubbed at her eyes again, yawning. “Hey, Aaron?”

They slid down another slide that gave way to a set of platforms. “Yeah?”

“Is there any way we could take a nap?”

Colin yawned and nodded, dragging his khopesh against the wall. Aaron slowed down, scooting off the platforms to the next ledge instead of jumping. He shrugged. “Yeah, but not for long, we gotta keep going. Let’s keep going for a little bit longer.”

Anne nodded. The platforms led to another slide. She was tempted to roll down it or go head first down the pavement, but brushed that thought away, sitting down, sliding, and then picking herself up again. At the bottom, there was a smooth tunnel, but there was a ladder at the end, so Anne sighed and trudged forward, her shoulders drooping. They climbed up one set, Anne’s arms hurting, Colin wincing behind her, and then when they reached the top, there was ten feet of ground before another ladder became obvious. Anne huffed, starting to climb up it.

As she started getting higher and higher up, the orange line of light swirling around the tunnel walls started fading, dimming the tunnel, dulling into a dark yellow and then a brown. When she reached the top, it was pitch black and she almost bumped into Colin, before he sidestepped around her. Aaron stumbled into the both of them, whispering apologies.

Anne tried to look forward and found that at the end of the tunnel, there was a faint gray light. She stepped towards it and found it to dip down. She realized there was a slide up ahead and when she followed it down, the light got brighter and then curved up again. This white glowing line was different than the orange one, with straighter and smoother strokes. It didn’t loop wildly or zigzag in random places, staying at one place in the wall. Anne slowed down, noticing that the light was getting brighter.

“We should stop here.”

Aaron looked past her, down the hall, and then back to her. “Why?”

“It’s getting brighter, so it’ll be harder to sleep.”

The blond nodded and sat down. “I’ll keep watch.”

Anne sat down as well and took off her raincoat, balling it into a makeshift pillow, pulling down the red sleeves of her shirt to cover her forearms. Her fingers brushed the ink on her wrists and the skin felt hot to touch, hotter than her palms when she was making things. She blinked, shaking her head, and sat down, laying the uninjured side of her head on the coat. Colin was settling against the wall as well. She looked up at Aaron. “You’ll wake me up in half an hour?”

She couldn’t see his face all that well, but she could make out his nod and slight grin, the tufts of blond illuminated in the white glow. Colin had disappeared into the darkness, his breathing gone quiet. “Of course.” Anne nodded and settled in on her side. Her jeans would be damp when she woke up, but she shut her eyes, trying to relax. It didn’t take long for her to fall asleep after that.

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by ceilster in portal Fiction
Excerpt From My Book
Chapter Thirteen: Uwa and Tyf
They chased the sun across the sky, the night licking at their feet until Uwa and Tyf’s house appeared in the fading light. They lived on a large rounded rock in the middle of the ocean that reminded Anne of the small islands in Thailand, covered in moss and trees. There was a small pale house sitting on top with an orange roof and as they flew closer and closer, Anne could make out the pale purple color of the door, the round windows and arched roof. The Hawdirs hesitated when they got closer but Anne and Aaron steered them forward.
They landed at the edge, the winged deers huffing uncomfortably, their hooves scraping crumbling rocks off the edge. A man and woman stood just outside the door, arms wrapped around each other. Anne got off her Hawdir and stepped forward for a closer look.
The woman had a very stern face, pale lips tilted in a frown, lavender eyes narrowed. Her hair was long and white and her sundress black, a glimmer of silver constellations revealing themselves in the breeze. The man was different with warm bronze skin, and bright golden hair, almost orange. He greeted them with his welcomingly red eyes and wide grin. The woman continued to frown, the silver gem on her forehead glinting in the fading light. They bowed when they got closer. Anne looked to Aaron, not sure which one was which god.
“Uwa,” Aaron bowed at the woman, “Tyf,” he nodded at the man, “we have come--”
“We know why you are here,” the woman waved her hand, silencing them. Her body looked frail, broken, especially next to Tyf, who was broad chested and open. “My sister sent me a message.”
“So…” Aaron drawled, glancing at Anne. She turned to Uwa.
“W-we need your shard.”
“And you may have it,” Tyf smiled.
“Really?”
“Yes.”
“But,” Uwa glowered at her fellow god, “we cannot just hand it over to you.”
Anne frowned. “W-why not?”
Uwa gestured to the ground. “It is below us.”
Aaron looked around. “Like, in the water? Or…”
“We built a labyrinth.” Tyf was super chipper, swaying on his feet. “Underground.”
The woman pinched his side, glaring. “Only those with pure intention may enter and only those with nerve shall leave.”
“How big is the, uh,” Anne looked down at the ground, searching for the entrance, “labyrinth?”
“Big,” Colin said, shifting. “It keeps going down.”
“And it’s dangerous too,” Tyf grinned. Anne was beginning to hate his grin.
“We have our treasure heavily guarded, so that scoundrels like you,” Uwa scowled at them, “do not steal our shards.” Anne wasn't sure who was better or worse, Uwa for her lack of faith in them or Tyf for being super excited about all of this.
“What…what do you mean by heavily guarded?” Uwa grinned sharply, her mouth twisted in a way that revealed too much teeth. Uwa was definitely worse, her smile giving Anne goosebumps. Anne shook her head, not really wanting to know the answer now. Colin closed his eyes, sighing deeply.
“The Qookas and the Fuermas of course,” she said.
“What’s…” Anne leaned over to Aaron, not really expecting Colin to know. “What are those?”
Aaron shivered. “My uncle ran into a Qooka and it almost mauled off his face. They’re like raccoons.” Aaron frowned. “Fuermas are like…phoenixes, they’re fire birds.”
“Oh, um…okay,” she leaned away. Uwa was staring down at Anne, a glint in her eyes. The sky was darkening and her skin was glowing, Tyf’s smile fading. His bright red eyes were turning into a dull orange and Uwa’s into a pale lavender.
“Just behind the tree,” she pointed to a tall cherry blossom. “Only the strong will survive.” Uwa grinned that uncomfortable smile.
“Try not to die,” Tyf waved. “Good luck guys.” He turned to Uwa and kissed her cheek, “See you inside, honey.” Uwa nodded and he went inside
She waved in the direction of the tree. “Go on.” Anne looked at Aaron and then Colin. Aaron was frowning and Colin’s eyes were still closed, exhaustion clear on his face. Anne nodded and started walking.
The cherry blossom was tall and pink, but in the dark, it was different, a more purple shade. The trunk was twisted in knots and its roots looped in and out of the rock, moss growing around it. On the other side of it, away from the house, was a patch of smooth black rock with a rune carved into it. They huddled around it, eyeing the lavender color of the rune.
Anne opened her mouth, “What…” then she closed it, frowning, before opening it again, “What do we do?”
Aaron’s frown was morphing his face, his brow creasing. “Colin?”
“Hmm?”
“What’s there?” Colin leaned down, hand extended. Aaron rushed forward, “Wait! Don’t touch--” Colin’s palm pressed down on the rock. It glowed brightly beneath his palm and the ground crumbled away into a long ramp of smooth stone. Aaron and Colin fell into the darkness. There was a soft thump at what was probably the bottom. Anne’s mouth opened and scrambled after them, sliding down the ramp. The rock was smooth and cold, slightly damp and behind her, the hole hatched itself up, sealing up the fading sun and rising moon.
They were just at her feet, faces still pressed to the stone. Anne stood up and looked around. The natural light from above had disappeared, but the tunnels were dimly lit by ink on the walls. Swirls of orange looped and traced down the path, one constant line, as if Tyf had come down there and run through the halls, waving his arm up and down like a little kid. Anne wouldn’t be surprised if he had.
She helped them up. Colin was scratched up and the bandage on Aaron’s face had peeled off, the cut reopening. Aaron quickly made another bandage before Anne could try and hastily smeared it onto his face, wiping away the blood. “I was gonna say,” Aaron wiped his hands on his jeans, “that the ink might be poisonous.”
“Oh…” Colin looked down at his hands. There was no ink there, only dirt. “Well, I’m alright.”
“Okay,” Anne nodded. She looked further into the tunnel. “Should we…go?”
“Yeah.” Aaron made three sunblades and handed one to each of them. “We’ll need these.”
“W-what for?” Anne asked, pocketing the knife.
“The Qookas since they’re shadow creatures.”
“What about the Fuermas?” Colin frowned, twisting the blade. “Didn’t you say they were like phoenixes? That doesn’t sound shadow based.”
“You’re right.” Aaron shaped his hands together, staring at the orange ink on the walls. “There’s this…type of khopesh, I might…” he closed his eyes, brows scrunching, “I think I can--” A burst of light flashed in the room and a curved sword appeared in his grasp.
The khopesh was made of silver, unlike the golden sunblade, and cast a dark shadow when Aaron swung it. It had a long strap and on the blade were inscriptions that Anne didn’t know how to read that glinted in the light. Anne pulled the knife closer to her, staring at the runes. “And this will kill the Fuermas?”
“It should.” Aaron slung it behind his back. “I’ve only heard that Khonwas can do the deed. But I’ve never had to use one before.”
Anne nodded and turned to Colin. “Lead the way?”
“What? Why?” he narrowed his eyes.
She gave him a look. “Because you’re a Vibrem? You’d know the way? You can sense where things are going?”
“Oh,” Colin blinked and nodded, “okay. Yeah. It’s pretty much--” he closed his eyes for a long moment. “One route, but there’s,” he pointed further into the tunnel, “something, that way.”
“Like, right ahead?”
“No, it’s just in that direction. We have to go down. But there are...I think Fuermas, east of us.”
“Okay, lead the way,” Anne shooed him forward.
Colin walked slowly, but surely, keeping his ears trained. Aaron kept his sunblade out, holding it wearily. The other boy made no move to warn him of any danger, so Anne felt less inclined to hold her blade, pocketing it in her purse next to the collected key parts, but understood that they were in a dark tunnel where unknown monsters could attack at any moment. At the end of the tunnel, there was another slide, similar to the one they entered the tunnels through.
Anne wished for a moment, while squinting in the dim light, that she could use her Irahn abilities and make a constant flame to light the path more, but was also worried that if she could, she would probably burst into flames and end up doing more harm than good. 
They slid down and then turned west. They walked a stretch of tunnel before coming to another edge. Anne looked forward and found long platforms leading down, the glowing ink splattered on the ledges.
“Why?” Anne frowned, not like the effort needed to jump off of things, but moved onto the platform and jumped down to the next one, scraping her knee on the ground. Aaron helped her up and they moved along, jumping down the next three platforms before landing at the bottom. They went east again and found another set of platforms. Anne grumbled as they went down more platforms, moved west, down another set of platforms, and then back east.
Then they had to go up since the path shot straight up, the ink on the walls twirling up like a spiral. There was a single rope ladder that reached the top. Colin stopped and pointed to the top. “The Fuermas are up there.”
“How many?”
“At least three.” Aaron touched his Khonwa and moved towards the ladder, jerking on the two ropes and testing the strength of the wood steps by raising his one foot onto it. He nodded and gestured to Anne to climb it.
Anne’s stomach coiled, staring up at the rope. “I’m not--I can’t,” she scowled. “I have no upper arm strength. I can’t climb this. I’m too heavy.” The ladder went far up and it swayed more than Anne would have liked.
Aaron patted her back. “You can do it.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Yes you can.”
“You can,” Anne gestured at him, “you’re a fifteen year old boy. You’ve got biceps--I’ve got,” she touched her sides, “flubber.” Colin and Aaron opened their mouths to say something, but she waved them aside, not wanting to hear their words. “Fine! Whatever. But you’re catching me if I fall.”
“Here, you’ll need this,” Aaron took off his khopesh. He handed it to her and she put it on her back. She nodded and moved towards the ladder, stepping up one. She climbed up the rope, slow, uneasy steps since it swayed slightly and she was always afraid that it would twist around and her body would hang precariously upside down, but it never twisted and it never broke; she never fell. Colin was climbing five steps below her and Aaron three steps below him.
She somehow hefted herself onto the ledge at the top, rolling onto the ground. Down the tunnel, where the light was brighter, she could hear the flap of wings and sharp squawks. Colin came closer; she helped him up onto the ledge and they helped Aaron when it was his turn. Aaron took the Khonwa from Anne and held it up threateningly, edging slowly towards the bright light.
She was just about to ask him for a Khonwa of her own when a Fuerma hobbled out, its pink eyes narrowing at them. It squawked three times then hobbled into the bright light to the other birds. The Fuerma was a crimson flamingo with golden and orange feathers and wings that drooped down to the floor. It had long tail feathers, similar to the wings, and a large golden plume on the top of its head. The beak was curved and black. When it came back with two more birds, the Fuermas squawked at them and then lunged.
The problem with fighting the Fuermas was that Aaron had only made one Khonwa and there were three birds. Anne was going to hit him. Aaron swung smoothly and sliced off the thin neck of a Fuerma, the bird dissolving into black ash at the floor. Another one lunged for Anne and Colin and they both ducked away. Heat swelled in her hands and she clapped her hands together, imagining a big shield. Two extras popped out and Anne handed one to Colin, who rolled away, and tried to throw one to Aaron but ended up hitting the Fuermas he was fighting in the head. It stopped, turning its beady eyes towards her, and Aaron took the chance, swinging the khopesh down on the bird.
The last Fuerma squawked and flapped its wings at them, a burst of fire zooming towards all of them before they held up their shields in protection, squatting down. The bird flew away, down the tunnel and further, taking the bright light with it. Anne stood up from her crouch, the boys doing the same.
“Nice throw,” Aaron held out his fist for her to pump. She grimaced and looked down at the shield.
“I was trying to give it to you but then it just…”
“Well,” he grinned, “still.”
Anne nodded and then jabbed his arm. “Y-you need to give us Khonwas.”
“Oh,” Aaron nodded, but then frowned. “Why don’t you do it?” They started walking again.
She shook her head, “I’ll just mess it up.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean,” she gestured at Aaron, “you’ve seen me. I can’t--I’m not good at control or making this stuff.” There was another slide. Colin went first, Anne and Aaron trailing behind.
“But that was like,” Aaron frowned, “two months ago? I’m sure you’ve improved.” Anne shook her head.
“I haven't. I'm--I'm the worst, I'm just--” 
They slid down, picking themselves up from the bottom. They went west. “C’mon, why don’t you just try? It’ll be okay.”
Anne sighed, exhaustion weighing on her. Today had been such a long day, she wondered when they’d get out of the tunnels. Would it be in an hour, two hours, six? They needed sleep. Aaron looked wide awake, energetic even, but Colin’s steps were slower, more hesitant, shoulders slumped. Anne held out her hand. “Let me see it.”
“The Khonwa?”
“Yes, the Khonwa,” she rolled her eyes. Aaron handed it to her. They went down a set of platforms, jumping from end to end, Anne making sure the edge of the blade was pointed away from her. They moved back east. She looked at the silver metal closely under the hazy glow of the orange swirls and loops, memorizing the exact curve. There was a set of stairs made from the tunnel stone, black and gray granite going up. They went up ten steps before it evened out to flat ground, before it slid back down. At the bottom of the decline, was another set of platforms to go down. They went down one set, walked left a few feet, went down another set, turned right, and then jumped down another set of platforms. Anne handed the blade back to Aaron, panting. She rested against the tunnel wall, right underneath the glowing ink,
“Be careful of the ink,” Aaron pointed to the spot above her curls. “It might zap you.” Anne nodded.
“I hate this maze.”
Colin slumped down next to her. “I agree.”
“I’m not built for exercise.”
“Don’t be such wimps.” Aaron turned to Anne. “Let’s see it?”
“Oh,” Anne looked down at her hands. Heat sizzled at her fingertips. She closed her eyes. “I--yeah, probably.” She brought up the image of the Khonwa in her head, her forehead creasing. The heat swelled, forming in her hands. The khopesh started to form, but then the magic fizzled and cracked, and two more blades erupted and fell to the floor, one dented, the other gold. The third one, the one in her hands, melted and seeped through her fingers.
She huffed, smearing the goop on her hands onto the walls. Aaron sighed and Colin frowned at the knives, picking up the gold one. It was useless, just an ordinary knife without any runes, but he shouldered the long strap anyway. “Why don’t you keep trying?” Colin suggested, Anne nodded, and they started walking again. They walked up another set of stairs.
Anne thought about it and tried it again, five small khopeshes clanking on the ground. She kicked them out of the way. There was another slide. Her butt was hurting from going down so much, but she went down anyway. The slide zigzagged and Anne squawked, slipping backwards and landing hard on her bottom, her hair falling in her face. Colin and Aaron fell on top of her, Colin’s elbow on her thigh and Aaron’s face smushed in her stomach. Anne scrambled up, swiping her hair aside. Colin clenched his eyes and got up, Aaron groaning next to him.
“Here,” Anne offered her hand to Aaron. He took it and Anne realized how much older and heavier he was when she had to haul him up herself, Anne stumbling forward a bit. Aaron swiped his hair out of his eyes and Colin readjusted his blue jacket, huddling under it. Aaron thanked her and they moved down the tunnel, still following the orange ink. It trickled up some stairs, across another stretch of flat ground, and down another set of platforms. Anne made another khopesh and swung it in the air, the blade flinging out of the hilt and imbedding itself into the wall, four other knives falling onto the ground around her. Anne frowned.
Colin slowed down. “You might not be able to make a Khonwa before we see more Fuermas.”
They were stopped at the foot of another ladder. Anne frowned because she didn’t know what Colin meant and because ladders meant more climbing. “What do you mean?”
Colin pointed down at the ground in the far corner in front of them, at the wall the ladder rested against. “There in that direction. They’re below us a few levels.”
“Do you know how many?” Aaron asked, but Colin shook his head. Aaron turned to Anne. “Can you try one more time?”
Anne nodded, clenched her eyes shut, and curled her fingers around the heat, a ball of light forming in her palms. She shaped it, remembering everything, the weight, the inscriptions, the curve. The Khonwa appeared in her hands, perfect and beautiful. Anne moved it in her grasp and swiped it in the air, just like Aaron had with his to make sure it was real, but when she did, the blade snapped off the hilt and to the ground. Colin made a noise and Anne growled, throwing the hilt at the wall. Aaron moved to touch her but she shouldered him off and started climbing the rope.
She wasn’t thinking about the strain in her arms or the ache in her feet until after she climbed to the top, had to go up a flight of stairs, and stopped at the edge of one of the platform sets. Aaron handed her and Colin a Khonwa each. Aaron opened his mouth to say something to her, but Anne glanced at Colin.
“What’s down there?”
Colin peered over the edge of the platform. “We need to jump down, go down a slide, and jump some more. There’s a bit of tunnel, some more jumps, and then I think the Fuermas are down there.”
“Really?” Anne sighed. She didn’t really want to jump or fight, more like sleep, but they had to. They had to keep going, had to get out of these tunnels, get the key piece, move onto the next stop, get all the key pieces and everything, and then go save her dad and stop Trusde or else the entire world would probably be destroyed and they’d all be dead. The tunnel walls suddenly felt smaller and her foot on the platform wobbled. She felt like her chest was caving in on itself, a sudden spike of a headache at her temple.
She blinked and stepped forward, hopping down. She followed Colin’s directions, down the two sets of platforms and closer to the tunnel’s edge for another set of jumping down. There was more squawking below and when she stepped onto the platform, peering over the edge, a brighter light filled the chasm. Colin stopped beside her and looked down at the Khopesh in his hands. “Is this a bad time to say that I don’t know how to use this?”
Aaron stood next to Colin and swung out his own blade. “Just gotta swing it around. Later, I’ll teach you some more moves.” Colin nodded and they watched Aaron swing some more times for demonstration. Aaron hopped down. “I’ll go down first.” He disappeared into the glow and Anne followed him.
At the bottom, there were thirteen large Fuermas swarming around Aaron. He sliced at two birds in one smooth motion before he disappeared from view. Anne was immediately attacked, a Fuerma biting down on her shoulder and flapping fire at her clothes. Her jeans caught aflame and Anne swung the Khonwa down, a shadow slicing one of the wings off. The Fuerma roared and dragged its beak down, wrapping its leg around hers. Anne’s heart pounded, trapped. Another Fuerma came at her other side, pecking at her neck, heat piping hot on her skin. She swung wildly, cutting the second Fuerma’s neck off and then stabbing the first one in the chest, where its heart was. They fell to ash around her and she patted down her jean legs against a wall, muffling the fire.
Colin was fighting two Fuermas and Aaron was fighting five of them, the other two running for her. Aaron made a second Khonwa in his hands and sliced off more bird necks. Anne did the same, taking out the first one with one swing, and then ducking away from the other and cutting at its thin black legs. She was following some kind of instinct that was surging up inside of her, like she had always known how to fight. It rushed through her veins and pummeled in her fists, raising her khopesh to swoop down and cut off another wing. The Fuerma cried out, one wing and leg missing. It hobbled, flapped its fire wing at her. The flames singed the top of her raincoat and licked at her neck, searing her jaw in heat. Anne cried out, slammed the blade down, and the Fuerma dissolved to ash.
She breathed in through her nose, panting, holding still. Tears bubbled at her eyes, the burn hurting so much. She wanted to poke and prod at it but Colin was whimpering, his back and hair on fire. He had the khopesh raised, caught in one of the Fuerma’s beak while the other one bit down on his shoulder. Anne ran forward, taking out the one with the Khonwa in its mouth, and Colin swung wildly down on the other one. Ash pooled around them. Anne took off her jacket and patted his hair and clothes down from the fire.
When she was done, Colin was staring at her, mouth quivering. She could see a burn on his cheek and tears welling in those black slanted eyes. She was going to wipe them away but then remembered it would probably be too much and then Aaron was shouting something and they twisted away, moving towards him.
Aaron had killed two of them, burns littering his arms. His jacket was roped around a Fuerma’s head, stopping it from moving its beak. The other one was stabbing his back with its beak and the third one flapping fire at him. Anne lunged forward, slicing the flapping Fuerma, flames tickling her face, and Colin swatted at the one pecking at Aaron. Colin wasn’t very good at fighting, swatting hazardly everywhere. Anne took the jacket from Aaron, pulling the Fuerma toward her. Aaron plunged the knife into its neck just as Colin swiped at the other one, covering them both in ash.
They stood there, panting among all the ash. Colin suddenly sneezed and Aaron started laughing. Anne rubbed at her eyes, exhaustion weighing down on her again. She rubbed at her eyes, touched her burnt jaw, and hissed, jerking her hand away. Aaron stopped laughing and pulled them both closer, taking in their injuries and his own. His face was bleeding again and the boys had some particularly nasty gashes on their backs and necks. Anne was lucky enough to really only be burnt on her face.
“Here,” Aaron dug into his jacket pocket and pulled something out. It was a small rounded phial filled with an amber liquid. He took off the cork stopper and started pouring it onto his fingers. Aaron reached for Anne and smeared the liquid onto her skin.
Fizzling heat swarmed at the burn, but this time the heat didn’t hurt, just sizzle and spread. It covered her skin and made it feel better. It smelled sweet too. Anne took a deep breath of it. The liquid smelled a lot like. “Is that…honey?”
Colin breathed into and scrunched up his nose. “And lavender?”
“Yeah,” Aaron poured a liberal amount on Colin’s hands, who immediately started to apply it even though he winced at the first touch of it. “And some ginger. It’s, uh,” he dabbed it on his cuts and burns, “a remedy. For minor injuries.”
“What about the burns?” Anne gestured to her face. She could feel the skin shifting and stitching itself back together, but when she touched it after the fizzling stopped, it was still rough and tender, scabbed. When she looked at Colin and Aaron, their skin was the same.
“It’ll heal on its own. The balm just speeds up the process.”
“Why didn’t you use that earlier?” Colin gestured to Aaron’s cut from underwater, which had now disappeared.
He touched where the cut was and sighed. “It should be used sparingly. I didn’t want us to run out.”
“But can’t you just make more?”
“No, I don’t know how. Potions like these…they’re very difficult to just make. And yeah, if I could I would, but then we might’ve taken too much of it and that wouldn’t be good.” At their blank looks, Aaron sighed. “It’s like normal medicine. Too much of it and,” he made a gurgling noise and marked a line across his neck, sticking his tongue out. Anne scoffed at his choice of description, but nodded. Aaron shoved the phial back in his jacket.
They picked up anything they dropped and started walking again. They went down a slide and started walking up two sets of stairs, silent again. Anne rubbed at her eyes again, yawning. “Hey, Aaron?”
They slid down another slide that gave way to a set of platforms. “Yeah?”
“Is there any way we could take a nap?”
Colin yawned and nodded, dragging his khopesh against the wall. Aaron slowed down, scooting off the platforms to the next ledge instead of jumping. He shrugged. “Yeah, but not for long, we gotta keep going. Let’s keep going for a little bit longer.”
Anne nodded. The platforms led to another slide. She was tempted to roll down it or go head first down the pavement, but brushed that thought away, sitting down, sliding, and then picking herself up again. At the bottom, there was a smooth tunnel, but there was a ladder at the end, so Anne sighed and trudged forward, her shoulders drooping. They climbed up one set, Anne’s arms hurting, Colin wincing behind her, and then when they reached the top, there was ten feet of ground before another ladder became obvious. Anne huffed, starting to climb up it.
As she started getting higher and higher up, the orange line of light swirling around the tunnel walls started fading, dimming the tunnel, dulling into a dark yellow and then a brown. When she reached the top, it was pitch black and she almost bumped into Colin, before he sidestepped around her. Aaron stumbled into the both of them, whispering apologies.
Anne tried to look forward and found that at the end of the tunnel, there was a faint gray light. She stepped towards it and found it to dip down. She realized there was a slide up ahead and when she followed it down, the light got brighter and then curved up again. This white glowing line was different than the orange one, with straighter and smoother strokes. It didn’t loop wildly or zigzag in random places, staying at one place in the wall. Anne slowed down, noticing that the light was getting brighter.
“We should stop here.”
Aaron looked past her, down the hall, and then back to her. “Why?”
“It’s getting brighter, so it’ll be harder to sleep.”
The blond nodded and sat down. “I’ll keep watch.”
Anne sat down as well and took off her raincoat, balling it into a makeshift pillow, pulling down the red sleeves of her shirt to cover her forearms. Her fingers brushed the ink on her wrists and the skin felt hot to touch, hotter than her palms when she was making things. She blinked, shaking her head, and sat down, laying the uninjured side of her head on the coat. Colin was settling against the wall as well. She looked up at Aaron. “You’ll wake me up in half an hour?”
She couldn’t see his face all that well, but she could make out his nod and slight grin, the tufts of blond illuminated in the white glow. Colin had disappeared into the darkness, his breathing gone quiet. “Of course.” Anne nodded and settled in on her side. Her jeans would be damp when she woke up, but she shut her eyes, trying to relax. It didn’t take long for her to fall asleep after that.

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by Hugo_Cloyd in portal Fiction

The Affair

It was just another PowerPoint presentation; a task with a tight deadline. Perhaps he would scribble it down on a to-do list, or type “How to write a Eulogy” in the search bar. His chest would deflate slightly when wikihow popped up at the top of the search results. Oh, look, he might think, they even provide examples.

Three days later, six young men bore the coffin down a gravel path, under the meager morning rays of a pale winter sun. He stood at the sidelines, listening to the crunch of rubber soles on fine gravel. They laid his brother to rest in the small chapel, open-casket. He kept his distance, watching her hunched form. A few rebellious strands of gold slipped from the elegant knot at the base of her neck, veiling the pinched expression of not-quite-grief as she leant closer. Three small figures clung to her legs. She made no move to protect her young brood from the sight of their father’s sewn eyelids. Young children didn’t believe in the intangible.

After a few moments, he walked towards the casket, stopped, and rested a hand on her shoulder. She glanced up, and, quick as lighting, looked to the ground. He watched her go.

A moment passed. He sighed and turned back towards the bier, observing the waxen, sunken face of his brother. It had taken two weeks to get him back. God knows how they’d masked the smell. He thought he felt something flicker in his chest, but then it was gone, and he looked away.

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Donate coins to Hugo_Cloyd.
Juice
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by Hugo_Cloyd in portal Fiction
The Affair
It was just another PowerPoint presentation; a task with a tight deadline. Perhaps he would scribble it down on a to-do list, or type “How to write a Eulogy” in the search bar. His chest would deflate slightly when wikihow popped up at the top of the search results. Oh, look, he might think, they even provide examples.
Three days later, six young men bore the coffin down a gravel path, under the meager morning rays of a pale winter sun. He stood at the sidelines, listening to the crunch of rubber soles on fine gravel. They laid his brother to rest in the small chapel, open-casket. He kept his distance, watching her hunched form. A few rebellious strands of gold slipped from the elegant knot at the base of her neck, veiling the pinched expression of not-quite-grief as she leant closer. Three small figures clung to her legs. She made no move to protect her young brood from the sight of their father’s sewn eyelids. Young children didn’t believe in the intangible.
After a few moments, he walked towards the casket, stopped, and rested a hand on her shoulder. She glanced up, and, quick as lighting, looked to the ground. He watched her go.
A moment passed. He sighed and turned back towards the bier, observing the waxen, sunken face of his brother. It had taken two weeks to get him back. God knows how they’d masked the smell. He thought he felt something flicker in his chest, but then it was gone, and he looked away.



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Donate coins to kecogan.
Juice
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by kecogan in portal Fiction

Until Death Do Us Part by Karen Cogan All Rights Reserved

Karen Cogan

All Rights Reserved

UNTIL DEATH DO US PART

At the edge of the water, white-capped waves began to break, harbingers of the wrath to follow. A short while ago, the clouds had been merely gray. Now they boiled with ominous darkness as they sank toward the cowering earth. The wind whipped off the lake causing the tops of the trees to sway, as if groaning under great weight. Annoyed at having his fishing trip cut short, Joe turned the car away from the lake and the storm that brewed above it.

The road back to the main highway was ravaged with ruts. He steered between potholes, aware of the heaviness in the air and the darkening of the sky. He grimaced. Everything was going against him lately, even the weather.

Rounding a sharp curve, he saw an old man trudging along the muddy roadside with a fishing rod and tackle box. The man’s face was hidden beneath the wide brim of a frayed straw hat.

Beside him, ambled a short-haired mutt of a dog. It had once been a handsome creature. But now, age had grayed its fur, caused its legs to bow and its skin to fall in loose folds.

Joe drew alongside the old man who plodded steadily along as though he were unaware of any human presence. As the thickening mist engulfed them, Joe had an odd feeling of inexistence, or, at the least another dimension.

He banished this crazy thought. The old fellow probably had bad eyesight and didn’t see Joe. He had to be soaked to the skin and in need of a ride. Joe rolled down his window. The old man turned his vacant eyes on Joe, as if he could see through him. The weathered face held a pale, ghostly pallor. A rainy night and an old ghoul made Joe’s mouth so dry he was unable to speak. He struggled to banish the foolish idea and remember he had only stumbled upon an old man who was caught in a storm.

The man looked away, dismissing Joe’s presence. As he continued his lone trek into the mist, Joe let out the breath he had been holding and pressed the gas pedal with a panicked desire to hurry down the road. There was something strange about the old fellow. As Joe left him behind, he couldn’t shake the feeling he hadn’t seen the last of him.

No more than five miles down the road, the car began a familiar shake and rattle. Joe knew the screws in the carburetor often worked loose. Why hadn’t he checked them before he started this trip? He knew the answer. He was anxious to prove to himself he wasn’t the overly cautious and predictable person Tina accused him of being.

He pulled to the side of the road and opened the trunk. Rain pelted down in huge drops that stung his back and chilled him. Nothing indicated it was going to let up soon. Fishing around in his tool box, he made one quick discovery. He had neglected to put the short-handled screwdriver inside.

Without it, he couldn’t maneuver to reach the screws on the underside of the carburetor. He used his pocket knife to tighten them as best he could and got back in the car.

He started the engine. It jolted like a mechanical bull and died as he rounded a curve. It was raining harder now. He glanced down the road, hoping not to see the fisherman. How long since Joe left him? Ten minutes, perhaps? He shivered at the thought of having the apparition catch up with him.

An old, two-story house sat across the road. Dashing through the rain, he reached the cover of the porch. The house was in need of repair. The paint was peeling off the front door and the doorbell wires hung loose outside the buzzer. The front windows were criss-crossed in spider web veins of broken glass. Joe hoped someone still lived here. If it were vacant, he would be stuck here with a dead car.

He knocked, shivering more from nerves than the chill of wet clothes. A sound of stirring came from within. The knob turned and an elderly woman peered through the crack. Her eyes went wide with surprise and Joe knew, soaked as he was, he must be quite a sight.

“My car’s broken down and I wondered if I could borrow a screwdriver. If you have any tools, that is,” he said.

The woman’s crinkled face broke into a kindly smile. “Why certainly, you poor thing. You’ve gotten all wet. Come inside and I’ll see what I can find you.”

Joe glanced at his muddy feet. “I better not. I’ll get your floor dirty.”

“Then pull your car into the garage. You can work on it out of the rain. I’ll show you where to find the tools.”

“Thanks. I really appreciate it.”

He raised the rickety garage door. The garage smelled musty, like the rot of an ancient forest. An old Buick was parked inside. Joe pulled alongside and got out, glad of shelter. Now, if only she had the right screwdriver.

The old woman appeared, carrying a cup of coffee. “Drink this. It will warm you up.” Joe sipped the hot drink gratefully.

She studied him a moment, and then said, “Now let me see. I have to think back to when I used to watch Walter work on the car.”

She squinted as she surveyed the garage. “I think you’ll find some screwdrivers in here. “

She pointed to a metal box that sat atop the workbench. Joe opened it and found a short- handled screwdriver that looked like it would do the job.

“Walter used to work on the car all the time. It was his pride and joy. I used to come out here and read the paper to him while he worked. If I were the jealous type, I would have taken a tire iron to that car.”

She tilted her head towards the Buick. “When he wasn’t fishing, he was working on that.”

Pausing, her face softened and a small smile parted her lips. Then she added softly, “I miss him a

lot.”

“Was Walter your husband?”

“Yes. We were married forty-six years. It’s hard being parted after so long.”

Joe felt a twinge of pain. Would he and Tina be together to celebrate forty-six years?

He sighed. “It’s hard, no matter how you part. My wife moved out last month. We’ve only been married two years.” He was surprised to hear himself blurting this to a stranger.

As he maneuvered around the carburetor, she said, “Walter and I broke up once. We hadn’t been married very long.”

She gave a soft chuckle. “Nowadays, they’d say we were incompatible. Our dispositions were very different. Walter was a precise person. Everything had a place. It used to drive him crazy when I’d

move things around and forget where I put them. Anyway I got tired of his constant harping about being organized and moved back with my parents. They weren’t surprised to see me. They thought I’d made a mistake marrying such an intolerant man in the first place.”

She paused, lost in the past.

Curious, Joe prodded. “You must have decided you could make it work.”

“We did. We missed each other terribly. All we could agree on was to work on the things that bothered us most and ignore the little things. It’s funny, after a few more years, those things didn’t seem important anymore.”

“I wish Tina and I could make things work. She complains I’m not spontaneous. But it drives me crazy when she does things without planning. Last month, she talked me into going on a weekend trip. It turned out there was a convention in the town she picked. We had to stay in a ratty hotel in a crummy part of town. I told her she should have let me handle the arrangements. I guess that was the last straw.”

She smiled softly. “Love sometimes means you have to accept someone and stop trying to change them. Goodness knows, Walter put up with my sloppy housekeeping for years.”

Joe tightened the last screw and rubbed the screwdriver across his jeans. The old woman was right. He had been trying to change Tina. Being an independent woman, she had resisted. He glanced at the old woman. She had a far-away, wistful look on her face again. “I wish I could touch Walter, kiss him one more time. I miss our life so much. I even miss that old gray dog he took fishing. I used to watch him come down that road while I did my knitting by the widow. He’d come in and tell me, ‘Aggie, I caught us some fish.’ He’d clean ‘em and I’d fry ‘em and that dog would wait for the scraps.”

“Old gray dog?”

“Yes. He was Walter’s most constant companion, if you don’t count that old straw hat.”

The hair rose on the back of Joe’s neck. The old man walking along the road had an old gray dog.

Was his ghost coming back to his beloved wife? He was seized with a desire to get away from here.

“I appreciate your loaning me the screwdriver. Will you take a little something for your trouble?” Joe spoke hurriedly as he reached for his billfold.

“Goodness, no. I just hope you and that young lady get back together. Don’t grow old alone. You have so much life to live together.”

“Thanks. I won’t, at least if she’ll have me.”

Joe jumped into the car and backed out of the garage. He could see the old woman looking down the road. She was waiting for Walter. She knew he was coming. In his rearview mirror, Joe saw the ghost trudging along, unaware of the soaking rain. He was heading for the house.

In less than a half hour, Joe made it to the nearest town. He stopped for gas at a truck stop. Still shaken from his near miss with the apparition, he decided another cup of coffee might calm his nerves.

The café had a homey atmosphere with checkered tablecloths and a counter where the country folk could sit elbow to elbow and talk. It made him long for Tina. He hadn’t talked to her since she left. He’d been too proud to admit he missed her. When he got home, he would give her a call.

He sat down at the counter and waited for the matronly woman who was serving food. She glanced his way and gave him a quizzical smile. “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”

“I did. There was an old man coming home with his dog from fishing at the lake. He had the strangest expression I’ve ever seen. It still gives me the creeps.”

“Oh you must mean old Walter,” she interrupted.

“Yes. That’s his name. He was heading back to his house to see his wife. Have you seen him since he died?”

The woman smiled. “Wait a minute. Old Walter may look like a ghost, but he ain’t one. At least, not yet. He’s just an old fellow who likes to go fishing.”

She paused. A sad look filled her eyes. “He ain’t been the same though, since his wife Aggie died."

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Written by kecogan in portal Fiction
Until Death Do Us Part by Karen Cogan All Rights Reserved


Karen Cogan

All Rights Reserved





UNTIL DEATH DO US PART





At the edge of the water, white-capped waves began to break, harbingers of the wrath to follow. A short while ago, the clouds had been merely gray. Now they boiled with ominous darkness as they sank toward the cowering earth. The wind whipped off the lake causing the tops of the trees to sway, as if groaning under great weight. Annoyed at having his fishing trip cut short, Joe turned the car away from the lake and the storm that brewed above it.

The road back to the main highway was ravaged with ruts. He steered between potholes, aware of the heaviness in the air and the darkening of the sky. He grimaced. Everything was going against him lately, even the weather.
Rounding a sharp curve, he saw an old man trudging along the muddy roadside with a fishing rod and tackle box. The man’s face was hidden beneath the wide brim of a frayed straw hat.
Beside him, ambled a short-haired mutt of a dog. It had once been a handsome creature. But now, age had grayed its fur, caused its legs to bow and its skin to fall in loose folds.
Joe drew alongside the old man who plodded steadily along as though he were unaware of any human presence. As the thickening mist engulfed them, Joe had an odd feeling of inexistence, or, at the least another dimension.

He banished this crazy thought. The old fellow probably had bad eyesight and didn’t see Joe. He had to be soaked to the skin and in need of a ride. Joe rolled down his window. The old man turned his vacant eyes on Joe, as if he could see through him. The weathered face held a pale, ghostly pallor. A rainy night and an old ghoul made Joe’s mouth so dry he was unable to speak. He struggled to banish the foolish idea and remember he had only stumbled upon an old man who was caught in a storm.
The man looked away, dismissing Joe’s presence. As he continued his lone trek into the mist, Joe let out the breath he had been holding and pressed the gas pedal with a panicked desire to hurry down the road. There was something strange about the old fellow. As Joe left him behind, he couldn’t shake the feeling he hadn’t seen the last of him.
No more than five miles down the road, the car began a familiar shake and rattle. Joe knew the screws in the carburetor often worked loose. Why hadn’t he checked them before he started this trip? He knew the answer. He was anxious to prove to himself he wasn’t the overly cautious and predictable person Tina accused him of being.
He pulled to the side of the road and opened the trunk. Rain pelted down in huge drops that stung his back and chilled him. Nothing indicated it was going to let up soon. Fishing around in his tool box, he made one quick discovery. He had neglected to put the short-handled screwdriver inside.
Without it, he couldn’t maneuver to reach the screws on the underside of the carburetor. He used his pocket knife to tighten them as best he could and got back in the car.
He started the engine. It jolted like a mechanical bull and died as he rounded a curve. It was raining harder now. He glanced down the road, hoping not to see the fisherman. How long since Joe left him? Ten minutes, perhaps? He shivered at the thought of having the apparition catch up with him.

An old, two-story house sat across the road. Dashing through the rain, he reached the cover of the porch. The house was in need of repair. The paint was peeling off the front door and the doorbell wires hung loose outside the buzzer. The front windows were criss-crossed in spider web veins of broken glass. Joe hoped someone still lived here. If it were vacant, he would be stuck here with a dead car.
He knocked, shivering more from nerves than the chill of wet clothes. A sound of stirring came from within. The knob turned and an elderly woman peered through the crack. Her eyes went wide with surprise and Joe knew, soaked as he was, he must be quite a sight.
“My car’s broken down and I wondered if I could borrow a screwdriver. If you have any tools, that is,” he said.
The woman’s crinkled face broke into a kindly smile. “Why certainly, you poor thing. You’ve gotten all wet. Come inside and I’ll see what I can find you.”
Joe glanced at his muddy feet. “I better not. I’ll get your floor dirty.”

“Then pull your car into the garage. You can work on it out of the rain. I’ll show you where to find the tools.”
“Thanks. I really appreciate it.”

He raised the rickety garage door. The garage smelled musty, like the rot of an ancient forest. An old Buick was parked inside. Joe pulled alongside and got out, glad of shelter. Now, if only she had the right screwdriver.
The old woman appeared, carrying a cup of coffee. “Drink this. It will warm you up.” Joe sipped the hot drink gratefully.

She studied him a moment, and then said, “Now let me see. I have to think back to when I used to watch Walter work on the car.”
She squinted as she surveyed the garage. “I think you’ll find some screwdrivers in here. “

She pointed to a metal box that sat atop the workbench. Joe opened it and found a short- handled screwdriver that looked like it would do the job.
“Walter used to work on the car all the time. It was his pride and joy. I used to come out here and read the paper to him while he worked. If I were the jealous type, I would have taken a tire iron to that car.”
She tilted her head towards the Buick. “When he wasn’t fishing, he was working on that.”

Pausing, her face softened and a small smile parted her lips. Then she added softly, “I miss him a

lot.”


“Was Walter your husband?”


“Yes. We were married forty-six years. It’s hard being parted after so long.”


Joe felt a twinge of pain. Would he and Tina be together to celebrate forty-six years?

He sighed. “It’s hard, no matter how you part. My wife moved out last month. We’ve only been married two years.” He was surprised to hear himself blurting this to a stranger.
As he maneuvered around the carburetor, she said, “Walter and I broke up once. We hadn’t been married very long.”
She gave a soft chuckle. “Nowadays, they’d say we were incompatible. Our dispositions were very different. Walter was a precise person. Everything had a place. It used to drive him crazy when I’d

move things around and forget where I put them. Anyway I got tired of his constant harping about being organized and moved back with my parents. They weren’t surprised to see me. They thought I’d made a mistake marrying such an intolerant man in the first place.”
She paused, lost in the past.


Curious, Joe prodded. “You must have decided you could make it work.”

“We did. We missed each other terribly. All we could agree on was to work on the things that bothered us most and ignore the little things. It’s funny, after a few more years, those things didn’t seem important anymore.”
“I wish Tina and I could make things work. She complains I’m not spontaneous. But it drives me crazy when she does things without planning. Last month, she talked me into going on a weekend trip. It turned out there was a convention in the town she picked. We had to stay in a ratty hotel in a crummy part of town. I told her she should have let me handle the arrangements. I guess that was the last straw.”
She smiled softly. “Love sometimes means you have to accept someone and stop trying to change them. Goodness knows, Walter put up with my sloppy housekeeping for years.”
Joe tightened the last screw and rubbed the screwdriver across his jeans. The old woman was right. He had been trying to change Tina. Being an independent woman, she had resisted. He glanced at the old woman. She had a far-away, wistful look on her face again. “I wish I could touch Walter, kiss him one more time. I miss our life so much. I even miss that old gray dog he took fishing. I used to watch him come down that road while I did my knitting by the widow. He’d come in and tell me, ‘Aggie, I caught us some fish.’ He’d clean ‘em and I’d fry ‘em and that dog would wait for the scraps.”

“Old gray dog?”

“Yes. He was Walter’s most constant companion, if you don’t count that old straw hat.”

The hair rose on the back of Joe’s neck. The old man walking along the road had an old gray dog.

Was his ghost coming back to his beloved wife? He was seized with a desire to get away from here.

“I appreciate your loaning me the screwdriver. Will you take a little something for your trouble?” Joe spoke hurriedly as he reached for his billfold.
“Goodness, no. I just hope you and that young lady get back together. Don’t grow old alone. You have so much life to live together.”
“Thanks. I won’t, at least if she’ll have me.”

Joe jumped into the car and backed out of the garage. He could see the old woman looking down the road. She was waiting for Walter. She knew he was coming. In his rearview mirror, Joe saw the ghost trudging along, unaware of the soaking rain. He was heading for the house.
In less than a half hour, Joe made it to the nearest town. He stopped for gas at a truck stop. Still shaken from his near miss with the apparition, he decided another cup of coffee might calm his nerves.
The café had a homey atmosphere with checkered tablecloths and a counter where the country folk could sit elbow to elbow and talk. It made him long for Tina. He hadn’t talked to her since she left. He’d been too proud to admit he missed her. When he got home, he would give her a call.
He sat down at the counter and waited for the matronly woman who was serving food. She glanced his way and gave him a quizzical smile. “You look like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
“I did. There was an old man coming home with his dog from fishing at the lake. He had the strangest expression I’ve ever seen. It still gives me the creeps.”

“Oh you must mean old Walter,” she interrupted.

“Yes. That’s his name. He was heading back to his house to see his wife. Have you seen him since he died?”
The woman smiled. “Wait a minute. Old Walter may look like a ghost, but he ain’t one. At least, not yet. He’s just an old fellow who likes to go fishing.”
She paused. A sad look filled her eyes. “He ain’t been the same though, since his wife Aggie died."



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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by EstherFlowers1 in portal Fiction

The little pine-tree.

Most of the deciduous trees in the forest had shivered off their leaves when a pack of strange animals came to chop me down. They took me into a heated dwelling and stood me up in a corner, donning me with extravagant necklaces of sun-strings and packaged up offerings of peace.The heat from the fireplace was drying my needles. I started drifting in and out of consciousness while the strange creatures had feasts and performed bizarre rituals. Finally I drifted off for the last time, watching in confusion as the smallest of the animals clawed at the packaged offerings, emitting a squeal of elation.

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by EstherFlowers1 in portal Fiction
The little pine-tree.
Most of the deciduous trees in the forest had shivered off their leaves when a pack of strange animals came to chop me down. They took me into a heated dwelling and stood me up in a corner, donning me with extravagant necklaces of sun-strings and packaged up offerings of peace.The heat from the fireplace was drying my needles. I started drifting in and out of consciousness while the strange creatures had feasts and performed bizarre rituals. Finally I drifted off for the last time, watching in confusion as the smallest of the animals clawed at the packaged offerings, emitting a squeal of elation.
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by casteleijn in portal Fiction

Mudfish

The city pulls me in as I flop around like a mudfish without my protective mucus in the growing sun. I lie flat on my stomach and am puzzled. The graffiti on the side of the transformer house puzzles me: “Jail.” Why am I even here?

I just came from the forest. I know that I never was doubtful, it taught me that. I know I remember the things I recognize, I know I dream my comparisons, I know life is not real. I know everything just happens. Yet here I am staring at this.

So I get up and cross the road. My bare feet on the black cold asphalt is a shrill contrast to the desert sand I left before I entered the forest. Before I entered the city. Yet it does not speak to me. It is as dead as the sky.

In the bus stop sits a young woman. Her white dreadlocks are tied in a bun on her head, a piece of metal through the top of her nose. She smokes a cigarette while her eyes dart over the concrete in front of her. In her frailty lies strength; she was broken before. She fixed it herself. She knows that my lingering stare is on her, yet she does not heed me. A tremor filled with noise and dark smoke propels a tin box alongside us. So much traffic at such an early hour. I shudder. I made the forest my own, the city will take me if I do not learn fast.

“What does that mean?”

The girl ignores my question.

“What does that mean?”

She looks up with a short glance. She squints against the bright light and follows my pointing finger. She shrugs.

“Why is that a Jail?”

She tilts her head now, hails the next bus while she gets up and flicks her cigarette in the street. When she passes me she whispers my first lesson.

“You know nothing of the wizards, go back from where you came.”

Before I can reply I am alone. At least in the forest I learned how to connect. Here is nothing to connect with. So I walk to the transformation house. It drew me in, it has to mean something. The large wooden box in front of it can open. I check its content and it is filled with tiny stones. Then I circle the building. Each side is marked with white words: Jail. Then I am back at the box. My corner of my eye catches movement. A man walks from some apartments to the bus stop through a small wooded area straight towards me. He is fox like, silent he moves.

“Hey, why is there no door in this building?” It really makes me wonder.

The man looks at me. My heart skips a beat as a deep vibration moves through my belly. Yellow are his eyes, his tongue forked, tattoos display his affiliations on his neck. He spits once in the sand. I expect a snake to sprout from the mixture, yet nothing happens. If he is a guard he is doing his job well.

“What do you think?”

“I do not know. That is why I am asking you.”

“Listen here old man, if you cannot figure out what this building is, then who would know?”

The way he says ‘you’ annoys me immensely. 

“Hey, the way you…” Already gone. What kind of trickery is this? I decide to find out from where he came, so I walk through the bushes away from the transformation house to stumble on a school’s playground just next to the apartment blocks. Some kids are dancing in a circle and singing a song.


“Wizards with fame, fallen angels some man say.
 Cloaked among people their works collide 
with the resurrection of mystics in men. 
“Ah”, would the philosopher say, 'is that not the burden of men', 
but no one knows how the wizards play…”

A rather elaborate song for young kids I do think, so I move to the teacher to comment just that, when she herds the kids in quickly. I look behind me. Is the weather turning? Am I being chased by a lion? I press on.

“Please, we have been over this before, you frighten the children.” The young woman looks at me with concern and a bit of fright.

I am flabbergasted. I walk back slowly with my mouth open. A mudfish on land way too long. Why is the air thicker here than in the forest? Why does it feel hotter here than among the seas of sand, where even I could pet a lion’s mane?

I trod and trample a small plant in the bush. Trickles of tiny droplets fall of the leaves all around me. This Amputee part of the forest is trying to talk to me. Whispers of steel, fragments of stone, a hint of smoke and fire. Dreams of older days. I back up until I hit the transformer house. Out of breath I wait until the sun sinks lower. Then footsteps in the dirt. Soft, with trepidation they come up to me and softly pass me. Snake man is going home. How many lizards did he kill today? I really do not know.

Then a hand on my shoulder. The white witch returned, her eyes kind, her lips hard. Ice all the way through. She offers me water. That’s it! I forgot to drink.

“I am sorry I am a burden.” Why I mumble this I do not know. Yesterday I ran from the forest all the way to the city. With strong legs and hard muscles. How is today so long?

“Here take this, hold on to it! Now touch the walls old man, feel the hard stone. Think and then leave the city.”

So full of hate she is, yet there rings truth in her words. Magic trickles under this building. I feel it, there is an earthly glow impossible not to notice. I feel stupid. Now I see, why not earlier? Water flows from the forest to the desert, but it all starts here.

“Look old fool!” She is really going at it now, the ice-witch. Why have metal in her nose if she is not scared for flying objects?

Before me a door that was never there before. Heavy steel set in stone. I can almost imagine the smoke, the flames, but then I open it. I step inside. Or did she push me?

Inside one fluorescent light hums visibility. The ceiling is blackened. The floor is sand, nothing here but me. I look around the four walls. I count them over and over again. Four, four four four. On each wall one written word.

“Trapped.”

Then I remember I am the old fool, the druid who entered the city. Twenty-one wizards with fame played this trick. Now they are gone or old and demented. I will sit here long forgotten.

Wait! She gave me something. In my hand a spray can of ‘Redwood red’. The bitch. Here now I spray my story, fellow druids! Head my warning: “never visit the city!”

- END

(c) Casteleijn MG. 2015-2017

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by casteleijn in portal Fiction
Mudfish
The city pulls me in as I flop around like a mudfish without my protective mucus in the growing sun. I lie flat on my stomach and am puzzled. The graffiti on the side of the transformer house puzzles me: “Jail.” Why am I even here?

I just came from the forest. I know that I never was doubtful, it taught me that. I know I remember the things I recognize, I know I dream my comparisons, I know life is not real. I know everything just happens. Yet here I am staring at this.

So I get up and cross the road. My bare feet on the black cold asphalt is a shrill contrast to the desert sand I left before I entered the forest. Before I entered the city. Yet it does not speak to me. It is as dead as the sky.

In the bus stop sits a young woman. Her white dreadlocks are tied in a bun on her head, a piece of metal through the top of her nose. She smokes a cigarette while her eyes dart over the concrete in front of her. In her frailty lies strength; she was broken before. She fixed it herself. She knows that my lingering stare is on her, yet she does not heed me. A tremor filled with noise and dark smoke propels a tin box alongside us. So much traffic at such an early hour. I shudder. I made the forest my own, the city will take me if I do not learn fast.

“What does that mean?”

The girl ignores my question.

“What does that mean?”

She looks up with a short glance. She squints against the bright light and follows my pointing finger. She shrugs.

“Why is that a Jail?”

She tilts her head now, hails the next bus while she gets up and flicks her cigarette in the street. When she passes me she whispers my first lesson.

“You know nothing of the wizards, go back from where you came.”

Before I can reply I am alone. At least in the forest I learned how to connect. Here is nothing to connect with. So I walk to the transformation house. It drew me in, it has to mean something. The large wooden box in front of it can open. I check its content and it is filled with tiny stones. Then I circle the building. Each side is marked with white words: Jail. Then I am back at the box. My corner of my eye catches movement. A man walks from some apartments to the bus stop through a small wooded area straight towards me. He is fox like, silent he moves.

“Hey, why is there no door in this building?” It really makes me wonder.

The man looks at me. My heart skips a beat as a deep vibration moves through my belly. Yellow are his eyes, his tongue forked, tattoos display his affiliations on his neck. He spits once in the sand. I expect a snake to sprout from the mixture, yet nothing happens. If he is a guard he is doing his job well.

“What do you think?”

“I do not know. That is why I am asking you.”

“Listen here old man, if you cannot figure out what this building is, then who would know?”

The way he says ‘you’ annoys me immensely. 

“Hey, the way you…” Already gone. What kind of trickery is this? I decide to find out from where he came, so I walk through the bushes away from the transformation house to stumble on a school’s playground just next to the apartment blocks. Some kids are dancing in a circle and singing a song.


“Wizards with fame, fallen angels some man say.
 Cloaked among people their works collide 
with the resurrection of mystics in men. 
“Ah”, would the philosopher say, 'is that not the burden of men', 
but no one knows how the wizards play…”

A rather elaborate song for young kids I do think, so I move to the teacher to comment just that, when she herds the kids in quickly. I look behind me. Is the weather turning? Am I being chased by a lion? I press on.

“Please, we have been over this before, you frighten the children.” The young woman looks at me with concern and a bit of fright.

I am flabbergasted. I walk back slowly with my mouth open. A mudfish on land way too long. Why is the air thicker here than in the forest? Why does it feel hotter here than among the seas of sand, where even I could pet a lion’s mane?

I trod and trample a small plant in the bush. Trickles of tiny droplets fall of the leaves all around me. This Amputee part of the forest is trying to talk to me. Whispers of steel, fragments of stone, a hint of smoke and fire. Dreams of older days. I back up until I hit the transformer house. Out of breath I wait until the sun sinks lower. Then footsteps in the dirt. Soft, with trepidation they come up to me and softly pass me. Snake man is going home. How many lizards did he kill today? I really do not know.

Then a hand on my shoulder. The white witch returned, her eyes kind, her lips hard. Ice all the way through. She offers me water. That’s it! I forgot to drink.

“I am sorry I am a burden.” Why I mumble this I do not know. Yesterday I ran from the forest all the way to the city. With strong legs and hard muscles. How is today so long?

“Here take this, hold on to it! Now touch the walls old man, feel the hard stone. Think and then leave the city.”

So full of hate she is, yet there rings truth in her words. Magic trickles under this building. I feel it, there is an earthly glow impossible not to notice. I feel stupid. Now I see, why not earlier? Water flows from the forest to the desert, but it all starts here.

“Look old fool!” She is really going at it now, the ice-witch. Why have metal in her nose if she is not scared for flying objects?

Before me a door that was never there before. Heavy steel set in stone. I can almost imagine the smoke, the flames, but then I open it. I step inside. Or did she push me?
Inside one fluorescent light hums visibility. The ceiling is blackened. The floor is sand, nothing here but me. I look around the four walls. I count them over and over again. Four, four four four. On each wall one written word.

“Trapped.”

Then I remember I am the old fool, the druid who entered the city. Twenty-one wizards with fame played this trick. Now they are gone or old and demented. I will sit here long forgotten.

Wait! She gave me something. In my hand a spray can of ‘Redwood red’. The bitch. Here now I spray my story, fellow druids! Head my warning: “never visit the city!”

- END

(c) Casteleijn MG. 2015-2017
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Chapter 30 of Scenes From a Dusty Mind
Written by dustygrein in portal Fiction

Behind the Closed Door

July 18

I feel as if these walls are actually moving closer to me. The air seems to have grown a little thicker now, and the smoke from my cigarette lies heavily between the desk and the windows. The weak sunlight does little to dispel my gloom.

I used to love this little room. The magic that flowed so effortlessly from my head onto the page whenever I came in here. Hell, even the cork-board Harold bought me used to make me smile. Now the damn thing just hangs there, sagging under the weight of its burdensome array of yellowing pictures and unused research.

Mocking me, the enormous piece of blank paper sits in the typewriter. It awaits something—anything—as it stares back at me. That clean page, nestled between the platen and the keys on the damnable typewriter, seems to grow as the room shrinks.

The old typewriter was once a portal to the many worlds of my characters, but now it seems they have closed the door. I can almost hear them laughing at me from their hiding places; they taunt me, daring me to find them.

I know they are doing something, but they are hiding it from me. I can’t write about what they are doing on the other side of the door. How can I share what I can’t see? I had heard of writer’s block, but I had no idea that it was the characters’ fault!

I knew that the casts of my many stories had grown quiet, but having them all turn their backs on me at once is almost more than I can bear.

Maybe I should have taken up painting instead.

(c) 2017 - dustygrein

** Truth is oft times more surreal than fiction - or so the characters in my head tell me...

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Chapter 30 of Scenes From a Dusty Mind
Written by dustygrein in portal Fiction
Behind the Closed Door
July 18

I feel as if these walls are actually moving closer to me. The air seems to have grown a little thicker now, and the smoke from my cigarette lies heavily between the desk and the windows. The weak sunlight does little to dispel my gloom.

I used to love this little room. The magic that flowed so effortlessly from my head onto the page whenever I came in here. Hell, even the cork-board Harold bought me used to make me smile. Now the damn thing just hangs there, sagging under the weight of its burdensome array of yellowing pictures and unused research.

Mocking me, the enormous piece of blank paper sits in the typewriter. It awaits something—anything—as it stares back at me. That clean page, nestled between the platen and the keys on the damnable typewriter, seems to grow as the room shrinks.

The old typewriter was once a portal to the many worlds of my characters, but now it seems they have closed the door. I can almost hear them laughing at me from their hiding places; they taunt me, daring me to find them.

I know they are doing something, but they are hiding it from me. I can’t write about what they are doing on the other side of the door. How can I share what I can’t see? I had heard of writer’s block, but I had no idea that it was the characters’ fault!

I knew that the casts of my many stories had grown quiet, but having them all turn their backs on me at once is almost more than I can bear.

Maybe I should have taken up painting instead.

(c) 2017 - dustygrein

** Truth is oft times more surreal than fiction - or so the characters in my head tell me...
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Juice
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by TheOrange in portal Fiction

Prisoner

Author's Note:

This shit is pretty long so if you want to jam to something while reading along, I suggest you check out Tame Impala's "The Less I Know The Better" as it is the inspiration for this not-so-short short story. 

--------

The air was dank and muddy as I stepped out of the hospital.

I was sweating all over and there’s a dull ache in my shoulders, but nonetheless, I felt the best I had in sixteen years.

It felt good, honestly – the soft touch of autumn coming in, the smell of dried leaves beneath the soles of my worn out boots, even the howling of the sirens. All of it, I thought, was the calling of freedom. All of it were the things a man should feel. All of this, including the pain and exhaustion, are privileges honored to men who are crazy enough to be called “functional members of society.” I’m not saying I’m one of them, but it sure did feel good. It felt good to be alive.

I didn’t stand on ceremony for too long. I walked casually towards the guard post by the big, metal gates separating the “patients” from the “functional members of society.” There was portly man, probably in his forties, chomping down a Big Mac through his pig face, seeming to not mind that Code Red was being blasted through the speaker. I tilted my cap a little to hide my face and knocked on the door. It was starting to get quite chilly outside. For a moment, I wished I was back inside my cell, with a nice wool blanket and the ever-pleasant company of rats. I pushed the thought away when I saw the ol’ porkchop finally stand up and open the door.

“The fuck you want?” He said, spit flying from his slimy, pink lips.

“Seen anyone suspicious?” I kept my voice low, mimicking the owner of the uniform I was wearing.

“No and even if I did, there’s no way they could get past the gates” He said with a chuckled and took a huge bite from his goddamn Big Mac.

“How so?” I took a quick glance inside the small room. Atop the small desk, I could see his walkie-talkie amidst the clutter. It was turned off.

“Mate, you’re stupider than the poor blokes in here!” The porkchop laughs again. “I got the password, yeah?” He leaned in close as if he was telling a secret. His breath smelled like tuna, cannabis, and stupidity. For an employee of a high-security facility, he was surely way too slow for the job.

“I need to get out. Open the door.”

“Why should I? You got a key doncha?” He pointed to his left eye and gave me a quick wink. He burst out laughing, spraying chunks of meat from his mouth.

I stayed silent.

“Come on, lad! Why the long face, hmm?” He started pouting like the idiot that he was and mocked me.

He looked at me with his mouth agape and with a puzzled look on his face.

“You do have a key, right?” I saw one of his hands move slowly from his burger, to underneath the table, but it was too late. The events went by in a flash, too fast for me to react. First, he dropped his burger to the floor. Then he grabbed a gun that was apparently strapped under his tiny desk. The next thing I know, he was aiming a pistol between my brows with his fingers ready to pull the trigger.

“Take the fucking hat off, or I’ll shoot.” He said.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, love.”

“Put your hands behind your h-head!” The porkchop managed to splutter as he took the safety off the gun. The gun rattled between his fleshy palms as he tried his best to intimidate me. Like a good person of the law, I did as I was told. I put both of my hands behind my neck and took my hat off. He glanced at the table beside him and saw the device. Without a second thought, he moved his hand away from the gun and reach out for the walkie-talkie.

Then I pulled out a shiv.

He was too slow. One moment he had a gun pointed at my face, next moment he was lying on the floor, trembling in fear as he held the flabs of his neck together with his hands. With my hands behind my head, I managed to pull the cold metal off the back of the coat. The blade slashed across the fat and flesh around his neck, spraying blood across the small room.

“I told you it wasn’t a good idea.” I said as I took off the police hat and knelt beside his head. He sputtered out blood and saliva as he tried to string together phonemes through his small mouth. Without a second thought, I poked his eye with the shiv. Starting from the corner, I worked my way in to take the ball out of the socket. He flailed his limbs in agony as I slowly took off his eye. The sounds he made were nothing human. His agonized wails sounded like that of a boar in a slaughterhouse. Amidst the carnage laid out in front of me, I managed to grin. As he tried to scream out, a mix of blood and saliva sprayed from his small mouth.

“Not nice.” I said as I wiped the blood off of my face. Finally, his eye popped off. His other eye was starting to fog when I cut the veins off the other. 

As I slowly stood up, I started to hear barking from the corner. The hospital is awake. Sitting by the door of the room was a small scanner, barely the size of a child's fist. I quickly polished the eye against the wool of the jacket and put it against it.

Ding.

In a loud roar, the main gates of the hospital spread open. I grabbed ol' Porkchop's gun and tucked a pack of ammunition on my coat. Without a second thought, I bolted out of the room and through the gates just as the dogs and the other guards rounded the corner. 

I know what you’re thinking. I must be crazy, right? Let me tell you that I, Greger Anton Tomasetti, am far from it. 

You go into Sacred Heart a man, you leave as an apparition - mirror image of who you once were. Funny. They say they put wankers with loose screws inside psych wards. The truth is, the only time you truly go nuts is when you actually enter the four walls of Hell. If you ask me, every other man outside of it only have their screws driven in way too tightly. 

I’m not crazy – I’m just a man with a reason.

And there’s one more asshole I need to teach a lesson to.

-----

It was 2 in the morning when I received the most chilling message in my entire life.

Greger Tomasetti escaped Sacred Heart Mental Hospital.

“Come back to bed,” Loretta purred from the sheets.

I ignored all her calls and put my clothes on.

He’s coming. I can already feel it.

I ran to my car and drove to the hospital, with the feeling of the world slowing collapsing behind me.

-----

I ran as fast and as far as my legs could take me. My worn out legs sped through mud and undergrowth until I finally reached the nearly desolate main road. I could hear the barking getting louder and louder behind me. I know I should keep running but there’s no way I could outrun a pack of dogs and live to tell the tale.

I did what I had to do.

I signaled a passing car.

I waved my arms around like a madman when I saw headlights coming down the road. A bright blue Mustang pulled over the side of the road and the driver, a young man in his 20’s, rolled down the window.

“You okay, mate?” He said, eyeing my bloodied clothes.

“Please, sir you have to help me please! They’re chasing me, they’re trying to kill me! Please I just need to get to the police station!” I tried my best to keep myself from laughing at how stupid I sounded, but then again, isn’t this how they do it in the movies? 

“Okay, man, calm down…tell me what happened.” He said as if he was talking an idiot. Behind me, I could hear the dogs closing in on my blood trail, their barks getting louder and louder as the clock ticks.

“Alright that’s it.” I pulled out Porkchop’s gun and shot his face. Bits of bone and brain splattered across the dashboard and windshield, creating a morbid masterpiece of the human body. I quickly went around the car, with the feeling of dread behind my feet. I could already feel the four walls of the hospital around me.

No. Not this time.

I opened the driver’s side and pulled off the poor bloke’s body from the car.

“Sorry, mate. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.” I blew a kiss to his face and got in the car. I drove off as the guards got to the road.

----

It was too late.

I got to the hospital way too late and Greger Tomasetti was officially out of the grounds.

“YOU IDIOTS! YOU BLOODY, PIG-HEADED IDIOTS!” I yelled at the 4 remaining nurses on duty that night. "Are you telling me that one man - I repeat, ONE MAN - escaped a hospital with FOUR OF YOU IDIOTS ON DUTY?" All of them held their tongues.

“Well? Tell me?”

“Dr. Fausner!” Dr. Raymund Keller yelled as he ran through the hall. “Dr. Fausner! You have to see this. Now.” I followed the young man to the security room. Inside, the guard in charge of the security cameras appeared to be sleeping. Instinctively, I slapped the back of his head to wake him up. Only problem was, he didn’t. He barely even moved.

“No use doing that, Doctor. Guy’s dead.” A policeman said from the door. He looked to be about 60 and had a thick mustache covering his mouth.

“What the hell is going on in my hospital?”

“Apparently, a patient escaped.”

“Tomasetti is not just a patient, he’s a criminal on the loose!”

“Yes, yes I know. Guy murdered his wife’s lover with a broken bottle of wine. Old news, Doctor. Old news." He was holding a file - which I assume was Tomasetti's criminal record - and idly flipped through the pages. "So he was brought here for mental instability...shouldn't this place be a bit more guarded than it is now?"

“Excuse me?”

"With a nutcase like him on your list of patients, shouldn't this place be - I don't know - a bit more secure?"

"This is a hospital, not a high-security prison."

“Before you go barking mad like everyone else here, you might want to check this out first. I’ll take it from here, son.” He gestured for the doctor to leave. Once we were alone in the room, he closed the door shut.

“Do you care to explain exactly what happened, officer?” I pressed on, crossing my arms.

“Watch.” He pointed at the monitors.

And I did, and I sincerely wished that I was dreaming. In camera 16 – the camera inside Tomasetti’s room – a playback was running. It showed Tomasetti patiently waiting for two nurses to give him his dinner. It was already 9:30 in the evening. He was facing the wall and did the usual drill: hands behind his head, knees apart, and quiet as a rock. I recognized both of them: they were the most useless pieces of shit I have ever worked with. 

All of a sudden, as one of the nurses placed his dinner on the table right beside him, out comes a long, sharp piece of metal and pierces his throat. Before the other one could react, he stifles his shouts with a blade to the neck as well. He then takes a bite of his dinner and goes out of the room, closing the door behind him.

In camera 7, down the hallway of his room, he’s seen sneaking past the few nurses on call that night.

In camera 5, the guard inside the security room - probably seeing that a patent has escaped -hurries out just as Tomasetti turns into the corner. The guard shoots him in the shoulder and Tomasetti throws the piece of metal at his head. He toppled down like a big sack of meat, spilling blood everywhere. Tomasetti is seen dragging the body into the room and then sneaks off to the exit. 

For a brief moment, I glanced at the man in front of me, rotting on an office chair.

In camera 3, near the exit, he’s seen shoving the same piece of metal down a guard’s throat from behind. The guard was caught unawares and all he could do was flail his arms in a futile attempt to injure the criminal.

In camera 2, he’s seen dragging the body to a nearby closet. Moments later, a man emerges from the room wearing a coat and what appears to be the guard’s clothes.

In the camera outside of the building, he’s seen walking towards the guard post. Not even 2 minutes later, the windows of the room was covered in blood and the hospital gate open moments later and he’s last seen running out as the other doctors and guards chase after the madman.

I was pale all over as I watched the footage. I sunk into the chair next to the dead man. 

My hands were trembling and my heart felt like it was about to burst out of my chest. Right now, I wish that this is all just a terrible dream. I wished that Greger Tomasetti was back in his room, rotting as he should be. I can’t bear the thought of all my skeletons ripped out from my closet. This can’t be happening…let this be a dream...let this be a terrible, terrible dream.

I glanced at the man beside me. There was a huge, gaping hole in his head. His mouth was agape and filled with blood. His dead, brown eyes were rolled back and his face was contorted in pain. From behind, he looked like he was sleeping. Somehow, I saw myself in his position. I shuddered at the thought.

“Why? Why would something like this happen?” I was almost in tears, but I dare not show weakness. Not now. Especially not now.

“That’s what I wanted to ask you in private, Doctor.” He pulled out a white envelope from his coat.

“We found this in Tomasetti’s room. It’s addressed to you.”

I felt my heart drop to my stomach.

-----

“Wise men say…only fools rush in….”

“But I can’t help falling in love with you…” My god. She was beautiful.

I watched Loretta’s lips curl at the edges. Her hair was a beautiful, red waterfall behind her. Her eyes, a striking blue against her fair face. They were the type you’d long to stare at for hours on end. Her big, beautiful, blue eyes were the type that would make you want to wake up every morning just to see them again. I used to always tell her that they were the most beautiful out of all her breath-taking features. She was magnificent. If perfection could take on a human form, no doubt it would be her.

I remembered the first time I met her. It was at a fair. I don’t remember what it was about, nor do I remember where it was held. But I do know that I met the most beautiful lady in the world there. She was a walking enigma, born to entice every soul she meets into her world. She was genetically engineered to captivate a man with nothing but a stare, and make him fall in love with just one word. Loretta Reed was a natural born heartbreaker.

I sped through the roads with the police coming close at my tail. I can feel it now. The adrenaline, the sudden rush of energy bursting through your veins. It made me feel alive, like how heroine is to an addict. I pressed my heel down to the gas.

She had shorter hair then and a younger face. She had a laugh that could make you euphoric. It was the kind of laugh that would make you want to keep her laughing. It was the kind that made you wonder how something so simple can be so beautiful.

And no doubt he thought that too.

I was standing by the door of our bedroom as I watched her caress the intruder in our “love bed,” as she used to call it. He was a handsome man, with a perfectly chiselled body and a face of an Adonis. He was all the things I wish I was—all the things I wasn’t and will never be. No doubt she thought that too.

They were kissing now. There was a dull ache at the middle of my chest where my heart is supposed to be. My head was foggy with alcohol and my vision is growing faint. I raised the half-empty bottle of wine to my lips and watched them.

I was getting close now. I knew that she wouldn’t stay in our old apartment, so I took a quick turn to the house of an old friend of mine: Doctor Mitchell Fausner.

Who would’ve thought that the very man you grab a beer with every Friday night and shared your deepest thoughts with could turn you over like yesterday’s laundry?

They were beautiful together. A beautiful woman and an equally beautiful man. It was a perfect match. Perhaps, that hurt more than the infidelity itself. The fact that a girl like her could never be with a guy like me was the plain truth that I couldn’t face in our brief year of marriage. She never loved me. I was nothing but an experiment—a detour from the main course. Maybe in her heart, I was the lover and he was her husband. I was too ambitious to think that I could ever be deemed worthy of such a love.

“Happy anniversary, love.” I said as I entered the room. Both of them jumped in surprise and I watched the feeling of dread slowly sink into their beautiful faces.

“What are you doing here?” Loretta said. She had a beautiful voice.

“I live here.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be on a business trip?” She had pretty eyes.

“Cancelled.”

“Greg…I…” Her freckles were a constellation, artfully dusted across her cheeks.

“Shhh…it’s okay. I just came here to grab my stuff. I’ll get going in a bit.”

And I did exactly that.

As I stumbled in the room, I accidentally dropped the bottle. I was too heartbroken to care about that. I grabbed some clothes, my toothbrush, and went out of the door.

And I never went back.

I felt the tears run down my face.

How can a man be so fucking cruel?

Mitchell Fausner was a man I thought I could put my faith on. We were practically inseparable. He was one of the very few people I’ve let into my life. Yet he was the first one to stand against me in court - in the time I needed him the most.

I was charged of murdering Frederick Goval, Loretta’s lover, on the day I caught them in bed with each other.

“He is mentally ill. I am his therapist and I can confidently stand by my statement. I am not saying that he is innocent of the crime, but I know that he has been going through a lot lately and I have proof of that.” I watched Mitch in utter disbelief as he stood there looking a like precious white knight. He knew that I never did anything wrong.

The night I left our apartment, I went to his house and stayed the night there. I promised him that it will only be for about a week, just until I could find a place of my own. The next morning I didn’t see him. The next thing I knew, the police came by to pick me up, and then there I was, in court, standing in trial for murdering a 26 year old delivery man in my own home with a wine bottle. That was exactly what I had told the judge.

But they wouldn’t listen. No one would.

No one will listen unless you have a pretty little face or maybe some pretty little cash up your coat jacket.

I parked the car in the driveway and hastily got to the door. I turned the knob and luckily, it was still open. Why doesn’t she learn to lock her doors? I carefully tread the way to Mitch’s room. I knew this place like the back of my hand; the hardwood floors, the faded green wallpaper, even the mild scent of cornflower in the air. It felt as if I was back in our carefree days before all the evil played out.

I stood right in front of his bedroom door. I knew for sure who was on the other side. I took a deep breath and pushed it open.

The room was small. It was illuminated by a single lamp that she left open. Lying on the bed was Loretta, naked in all her beauty. Despite the breath taking view of her, I felt nothing but loathing. I used to honour her body like she was a goddess. Now, she just looks like another face in the crowd - a part of the common rabble. Once you’ve seen the Devil’s horns, you’ll never forget the sight of them.

“Why are you here?” she murmured against the pillow. Her eye was open and she was staring at me across the room. There was no love in them.

“I came to see you.” She was beautiful.

“Aren’t you supposed to be rotting in a cell?” She smirked at her own sly remark.

“Well, supposed to be, until your boyfriend sent me to a mental hospital.” I took a few steps into the room.

“Did he now?” She rolled to her back so she can fully face me from the bed. “Oh yes, I remember. I told him to.” This is news.

“Why?”

“So you wouldn’t have to rot in a prison.” She raised a brow at me as if that was the most obvious reason in the world.

“Excuse me?”

“The night you caught me, Mitch came here and saw me with Fred. One thing led to another and a simple argument turned into a brawl, and a simple brawl led into…well I guess you already knew where I let to, right?”

“So you’re telling me…that Mitchell…Mitchell Fausner, killed your fuck boy?”

“It was an accident.”

“And you pinned it on me?”

“Your fingerprints were there, no one else’s. What else could we do? And you should be thankful. If I hadn’t dropped a word on his ear, he would have gladly watched you get dragged into prison. Plus, he thinks that it was in good nature to send you to his hospital so he could keep a close eye on you.”

“So he can watch my world slowly fall apart…” I was angry now. My ears were ringing and I could feel my veins popping in my neck. How can someone be so cruel?

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Mitch always used to tell me that the best way to control your anger is to stop and breathe. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breath out. Breathe in, breathe out.

"Why did you do it?"

"He had always wanted me, Greg...he always have"

"And he wanted you for his own...didn't he?"

"That was obvious enough, wasn't it?"

“Loretta…did you love me?” She didn’t answer. “Loretta, answer me please.”

“Might have.”

“Might have?”

“Might have.” I opened my eyes to look at her. My god, was she beautiful.

“Okay, thank you.”

“Why are you thanking me?”

“You gave me some courage.”

“Courage?” I heard something click.

“To do this.”

I took out the gun and blasted it away at her pretty little face.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

One bullet for each year.

Seven. Eight. Reload. Nine. Ten.

I could hear the sirens in front of the house.

Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen.

“Freeze!” I heard them yell.

Sixteen.

There were feathers flying everywhere. Her body looked like a mangled piece of red meat, sprawled in an unimaginable position against the blood-stained mattress. Her body was left exposed and oozing with blood, her once beautiful face now in ruins. Still, her beautiful blue eyes remained, still breath taking even as they bulged from their sockets. Amidst the chaos in the room, I can’t help but notice how striking blue looks against the red.

I barely felt a thing as the men tackled me down to the floor and cuffed me. The gun slid halfway across the room and stopped short beside Loretta's yellow dress - the same dress she wore when I first met her. No resistance came from me that time. There is no elaborate plan of escape, no blueprints hidden up my sleeves. I couldn’t have hoped for a better release than this.

Loretta…

My god, was she beautiful.

--------

With trembling fingers, I reached out to take the envelope from his hands. I was sweating bullets in spite of the chill in the room. No doubt that the man could see that.

It was a simple, white envelope. At the back, it read “To Fausner, with love” and nothing else. I could scarcely breathe as I read what the madman had to say.

My dearest Mitchell Fausner,

First and foremost, I’d like to congratulate you on your promotion in the past month. I’m sure it was quite a task, getting that fancy little nameplate and that fancy little office in your fancy little hospital. I wonder, how many patients did you have to choke to get there? How many soles did you have to lick? Most importantly, how many of these things did the board members knew about you?

I could feel the pit in my stomach growing. My breath is falling short. I hardly felt anything as the officer tapped my shoulder.

Enclosed herein is a compilation of all the atrocities you’ve committed in the past 16 years, complete with documents to prove your lack of professionalism and morale.

I opened the envelope once again, and there it was. A thick folder containing all the horrors I could only imagine. I can’t begin to perceive how a man like Greger Tomasetti managed to get the best of me, or better yet, how a man like him managed to get his slimy paws on things like this.

“You look a bit pale there, Doctor.” I could barely hear the officer standing only a mere 5 feet away from me and my demons. “May I ask why?”

“It’s probably the lack of sleep, sir.” I prayed to God that he believes that.

“Do you want some coffee, son?” He had his brow raised this time. I could almost see the gears turning in his head.

“A cup of coffee would be lovely. Thank you.” He turned around and left the room. As soon as the door hit home, I turned the lock and blocked the handle with a chair. I took of my jacket and covered the camera, not minding that all of it was being recorded. Once I was assured that I was alone in a room with a rotting corpse and a deadly envelope, I took out the folder.

It was a thick brown folder, with its contents threatening to spill. I sat down by the door and flipped it open. It felt as if the room was shrinking around me. Everything was spinning and the very air felt toxic. Inside contained letters and photographs, each one more horrifying than the other.

The first photograph was of me savagely beating a patient with a baton. Her face was all bloodied as she tried to shield it with her thin, frail hands. Her hospital gown was hiked up, showing scratch marks and bruises around her thighs. The zipper of my slacks were down, and my belt undone. The floor under her was littered with splatters of blood and teeth. Her face showed nothing but fear. My face showed nothing but contempt. It wouldn’t take a genius to know what was happening here.

I took out a flask from my coat hanging on the camera and flipped through more of the images.

There were only 5 pictures, and all of them seemed to have been screenshots from security cameras. The only people that were allowed access to security records were the guards and me. If there was a case that required the help of the police, they too have the right to rummage through the files. No doubt that they had already done that. How the fuck did a bastard like Greger Tomasetti managed to get his hands on these? There had to be an accomplice. The computers were all encrypted and if anyone tried to hack it, an alarm would be set off.

And then it clicked.

I quickly ran to the guard’s desk and saw that the playbacks were all running. Only the guard here would know the password so it would be impossible for the policeman to open and run all of this…unless someone did it for him.

I looked at one of the screens and saw that it was pitch black. That’s the camera inside this room. I checked the playback from hours ago, and my jaw dropped to the floor.

There he was. Tomasetti was placing the dead guard’s body on the chair. He turns around and he seems to be fiddling with the computer for a bit. He then glances at the dead man beside him and takes his hand. He places his dead fingers on the scanner, and I could see the computer loading something. He turns around and sees the camera.

The sides of his mouth curled into a sneer. His eyes were dull white orbs, full of menace. He knew I was going to watch this. He’s always too smart for his own good.

In the video, he’s seen writing something on a piece of paper and raises it to the camera.

HELLO, FAUSNER AND FRIENDS. I THINK THE WHITE ENVELOPE HIDDEN IN MY ROOM WOULD BE OF INTEREST TO YOU.

I felt the tears trickle down my face.

Tomasetti turns around and types something on the computer. On the side of the room, the printer is ejecting what seems to be the very images that I am holding. When he was done, he turned around to give one last smile at the camera and leaves.

Only one question is left unanswered now.

How did the pictures get in the envelope if the envelope was in his room the whole time?

I glanced at his letter once again and saw what else he was hiding.

Secondly, I just want to give you a heads up. By the time you read this, your girlfriend (who is also my ex-wife, you dipshit) is probably dead, if not dying. I advise that you bolt your doors and close your windows for now. Think of it as a friendly gesture from me. After all, you did went through all that trouble to "fix my head."

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’d offer a hand while you’re sinking in the pit that I so lovingly dug up for you. See, you’ve helped me in a way. No you didn’t eradicate the disease in my head. If anything, you just gave it a supporting nudge. I do not condemn you for that, since there is nothing to condemn in the first place. The damage, if you would allow the term, only helped me build the courage I needed to burn some bridges. 

And for that, I thank you.

Sincerely not yours,

Greger Tomasetti

P.S.

Money can never buy you loyalty, Mitch. It was fairly easy getting all their testimonies, especially when they’re so stupid to think that you were going actually going to trial.

My head snapped up when I heard someone rattling the knob.

“Open the door, son.” The officer said along with three sharp knocks. Come on, Fausner! Think! Think!

I can’t jump off the window, since there were no fucking windows in here. I can’t escape the building considering that by now, it must be swarming with police. This leaves me with no other option.

Inside the folder were letters showing proof of my exploits. That encompasses bribery, to silence curious listeners, and doing favors for those who I deemed well enough for them. All of that was done inside Sacred Heart - the very institution that sought to help those in need. I used to think that no one could trace them all to me. But I’m mistaken.

All of the letters were testimonies of bribery from men I thought I could trust. Enclosed within each one was believable proof of my exchange with them. What’s even more baffling is that they were all written as if they were addressing a judge and jury. Greger Tomasetti was known to be a smart man before he entered Sacred Heart, but I never truly believed it. Until now.

I laid out all of the contents of the envelope on the ground and fished a lighter from my pocket. Let the flames begin.

“Open the damn door, Fausner. Don’t make this harder for yourself!” He banged on the handle, and before long, it broke loose just as I was arming myself with the guard’s gun.

“Come in and I’ll shoot!” I could hear other people outside of the door now. Gruff whispers and people hushing each other. I felt like a shy animal inside a cage with people eager to see me. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through my cold, sweaty body like a hot drink on a cold night. The ringing on my ears were getting louder and louder. My heart is seconds away from bursting out of my chest. I was left with no other option.

“Easy now, son. We don’t want to hurt you. We just want to talk.”

“I’LL FUCKING SHOOT!” I could feel the hot tears running down my face. I nervously flicked the safety off the gun and tried to focus my unsteady hands at the door. At the other side, I could hear them whispering.

“Officer? What’s your name?” I could feel myself shaking all over. I could see all of my patients’ faces looking at me. I could hear them sneering at me, their breath cold at the nape of my neck. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

They’re calling me.

“Sam. My name is Sam.” I could hear the uncertainty in his voice.

“Sam? Okay, Sam. Do you have any children?” I was sobbing at this point. I can’t do this.

“Yes. A wife and a daughter, Mitch. Can I call you Mitch?”

“Yes, please…please call me Mitch.” I felt my knees buckle under me. Everything was a blur. Amidst the commotion inside my head I could hear someone tallying the names. Isabella, Coral, Jeremy, Dwight. All the names I thought I buried. Jonathan. Denise. Rene. France. All the names I thought I could forget.

I am left with no other option.

“Mitch, I’m going to go in now. Can you promise me you won’t shoot?”

“Sam, go home. Go to your wife, tell her you love her. Tell her you’re sorry. Hug your children. Kiss them. Tell them that daddy is with them. Tell them you love them. Can you do that, Sam? This might be the last time they’d hear it.”

“Mitch…calm down. You’re going to be fine.”

“Sam, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for doing this. Will you ever forgive me?” The air felt all too suffocating. My lungs felt like balloons threatening to pop. My eyes felt like red hot coals, oozing out of their sockets.

“Mitch, you’ll be fine.”

“How are you sure of that?”

He did not answer.

The door swung open like a hurricane, and five armed and armored men emerged.

“Freeze! Drop your weapon!” The old man said.

“I’m sorry.” Garreck. Priscilla. Jane. Vicky.

“I am so sorry.” I pointed the gun to my head and I—

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by TheOrange in portal Fiction
Prisoner
Author's Note:
This shit is pretty long so if you want to jam to something while reading along, I suggest you check out Tame Impala's "The Less I Know The Better" as it is the inspiration for this not-so-short short story. 

--------

The air was dank and muddy as I stepped out of the hospital.

I was sweating all over and there’s a dull ache in my shoulders, but nonetheless, I felt the best I had in sixteen years.

It felt good, honestly – the soft touch of autumn coming in, the smell of dried leaves beneath the soles of my worn out boots, even the howling of the sirens. All of it, I thought, was the calling of freedom. All of it were the things a man should feel. All of this, including the pain and exhaustion, are privileges honored to men who are crazy enough to be called “functional members of society.” I’m not saying I’m one of them, but it sure did feel good. It felt good to be alive.

I didn’t stand on ceremony for too long. I walked casually towards the guard post by the big, metal gates separating the “patients” from the “functional members of society.” There was portly man, probably in his forties, chomping down a Big Mac through his pig face, seeming to not mind that Code Red was being blasted through the speaker. I tilted my cap a little to hide my face and knocked on the door. It was starting to get quite chilly outside. For a moment, I wished I was back inside my cell, with a nice wool blanket and the ever-pleasant company of rats. I pushed the thought away when I saw the ol’ porkchop finally stand up and open the door.

“The fuck you want?” He said, spit flying from his slimy, pink lips.

“Seen anyone suspicious?” I kept my voice low, mimicking the owner of the uniform I was wearing.

“No and even if I did, there’s no way they could get past the gates” He said with a chuckled and took a huge bite from his goddamn Big Mac.

“How so?” I took a quick glance inside the small room. Atop the small desk, I could see his walkie-talkie amidst the clutter. It was turned off.

“Mate, you’re stupider than the poor blokes in here!” The porkchop laughs again. “I got the password, yeah?” He leaned in close as if he was telling a secret. His breath smelled like tuna, cannabis, and stupidity. For an employee of a high-security facility, he was surely way too slow for the job.

“I need to get out. Open the door.”

“Why should I? You got a key doncha?” He pointed to his left eye and gave me a quick wink. He burst out laughing, spraying chunks of meat from his mouth.

I stayed silent.

“Come on, lad! Why the long face, hmm?” He started pouting like the idiot that he was and mocked me.

He looked at me with his mouth agape and with a puzzled look on his face.
“You do have a key, right?” I saw one of his hands move slowly from his burger, to underneath the table, but it was too late. The events went by in a flash, too fast for me to react. First, he dropped his burger to the floor. Then he grabbed a gun that was apparently strapped under his tiny desk. The next thing I know, he was aiming a pistol between my brows with his fingers ready to pull the trigger.

“Take the fucking hat off, or I’ll shoot.” He said.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, love.”

“Put your hands behind your h-head!” The porkchop managed to splutter as he took the safety off the gun. The gun rattled between his fleshy palms as he tried his best to intimidate me. Like a good person of the law, I did as I was told. I put both of my hands behind my neck and took my hat off. He glanced at the table beside him and saw the device. Without a second thought, he moved his hand away from the gun and reach out for the walkie-talkie.

Then I pulled out a shiv.

He was too slow. One moment he had a gun pointed at my face, next moment he was lying on the floor, trembling in fear as he held the flabs of his neck together with his hands. With my hands behind my head, I managed to pull the cold metal off the back of the coat. The blade slashed across the fat and flesh around his neck, spraying blood across the small room.

“I told you it wasn’t a good idea.” I said as I took off the police hat and knelt beside his head. He sputtered out blood and saliva as he tried to string together phonemes through his small mouth. Without a second thought, I poked his eye with the shiv. Starting from the corner, I worked my way in to take the ball out of the socket. He flailed his limbs in agony as I slowly took off his eye. The sounds he made were nothing human. His agonized wails sounded like that of a boar in a slaughterhouse. Amidst the carnage laid out in front of me, I managed to grin. As he tried to scream out, a mix of blood and saliva sprayed from his small mouth.

“Not nice.” I said as I wiped the blood off of my face. Finally, his eye popped off. His other eye was starting to fog when I cut the veins off the other. 

As I slowly stood up, I started to hear barking from the corner. The hospital is awake. Sitting by the door of the room was a small scanner, barely the size of a child's fist. I quickly polished the eye against the wool of the jacket and put it against it.

Ding.

In a loud roar, the main gates of the hospital spread open. I grabbed ol' Porkchop's gun and tucked a pack of ammunition on my coat. Without a second thought, I bolted out of the room and through the gates just as the dogs and the other guards rounded the corner. 

I know what you’re thinking. I must be crazy, right? Let me tell you that I, Greger Anton Tomasetti, am far from it. 

You go into Sacred Heart a man, you leave as an apparition - mirror image of who you once were. Funny. They say they put wankers with loose screws inside psych wards. The truth is, the only time you truly go nuts is when you actually enter the four walls of Hell. If you ask me, every other man outside of it only have their screws driven in way too tightly. 

I’m not crazy – I’m just a man with a reason.

And there’s one more asshole I need to teach a lesson to.

-----

It was 2 in the morning when I received the most chilling message in my entire life.

Greger Tomasetti escaped Sacred Heart Mental Hospital.

“Come back to bed,” Loretta purred from the sheets.

I ignored all her calls and put my clothes on.

He’s coming. I can already feel it.

I ran to my car and drove to the hospital, with the feeling of the world slowing collapsing behind me.
-----

I ran as fast and as far as my legs could take me. My worn out legs sped through mud and undergrowth until I finally reached the nearly desolate main road. I could hear the barking getting louder and louder behind me. I know I should keep running but there’s no way I could outrun a pack of dogs and live to tell the tale.

I did what I had to do.

I signaled a passing car.

I waved my arms around like a madman when I saw headlights coming down the road. A bright blue Mustang pulled over the side of the road and the driver, a young man in his 20’s, rolled down the window.

“You okay, mate?” He said, eyeing my bloodied clothes.

“Please, sir you have to help me please! They’re chasing me, they’re trying to kill me! Please I just need to get to the police station!” I tried my best to keep myself from laughing at how stupid I sounded, but then again, isn’t this how they do it in the movies? 

“Okay, man, calm down…tell me what happened.” He said as if he was talking an idiot. Behind me, I could hear the dogs closing in on my blood trail, their barks getting louder and louder as the clock ticks.

“Alright that’s it.” I pulled out Porkchop’s gun and shot his face. Bits of bone and brain splattered across the dashboard and windshield, creating a morbid masterpiece of the human body. I quickly went around the car, with the feeling of dread behind my feet. I could already feel the four walls of the hospital around me.

No. Not this time.

I opened the driver’s side and pulled off the poor bloke’s body from the car.

“Sorry, mate. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.” I blew a kiss to his face and got in the car. I drove off as the guards got to the road.

----

It was too late.

I got to the hospital way too late and Greger Tomasetti was officially out of the grounds.

“YOU IDIOTS! YOU BLOODY, PIG-HEADED IDIOTS!” I yelled at the 4 remaining nurses on duty that night. "Are you telling me that one man - I repeat, ONE MAN - escaped a hospital with FOUR OF YOU IDIOTS ON DUTY?" All of them held their tongues.

“Well? Tell me?”

“Dr. Fausner!” Dr. Raymund Keller yelled as he ran through the hall. “Dr. Fausner! You have to see this. Now.” I followed the young man to the security room. Inside, the guard in charge of the security cameras appeared to be sleeping. Instinctively, I slapped the back of his head to wake him up. Only problem was, he didn’t. He barely even moved.

“No use doing that, Doctor. Guy’s dead.” A policeman said from the door. He looked to be about 60 and had a thick mustache covering his mouth.

“What the hell is going on in my hospital?”

“Apparently, a patient escaped.”

“Tomasetti is not just a patient, he’s a criminal on the loose!”

“Yes, yes I know. Guy murdered his wife’s lover with a broken bottle of wine. Old news, Doctor. Old news." He was holding a file - which I assume was Tomasetti's criminal record - and idly flipped through the pages. "So he was brought here for mental instability...shouldn't this place be a bit more guarded than it is now?"

“Excuse me?”

"With a nutcase like him on your list of patients, shouldn't this place be - I don't know - a bit more secure?"

"This is a hospital, not a high-security prison."

“Before you go barking mad like everyone else here, you might want to check this out first. I’ll take it from here, son.” He gestured for the doctor to leave. Once we were alone in the room, he closed the door shut.

“Do you care to explain exactly what happened, officer?” I pressed on, crossing my arms.

“Watch.” He pointed at the monitors.

And I did, and I sincerely wished that I was dreaming. In camera 16 – the camera inside Tomasetti’s room – a playback was running. It showed Tomasetti patiently waiting for two nurses to give him his dinner. It was already 9:30 in the evening. He was facing the wall and did the usual drill: hands behind his head, knees apart, and quiet as a rock. I recognized both of them: they were the most useless pieces of shit I have ever worked with. 

All of a sudden, as one of the nurses placed his dinner on the table right beside him, out comes a long, sharp piece of metal and pierces his throat. Before the other one could react, he stifles his shouts with a blade to the neck as well. He then takes a bite of his dinner and goes out of the room, closing the door behind him.

In camera 7, down the hallway of his room, he’s seen sneaking past the few nurses on call that night.

In camera 5, the guard inside the security room - probably seeing that a patent has escaped -hurries out just as Tomasetti turns into the corner. The guard shoots him in the shoulder and Tomasetti throws the piece of metal at his head. He toppled down like a big sack of meat, spilling blood everywhere. Tomasetti is seen dragging the body into the room and then sneaks off to the exit. 

For a brief moment, I glanced at the man in front of me, rotting on an office chair.

In camera 3, near the exit, he’s seen shoving the same piece of metal down a guard’s throat from behind. The guard was caught unawares and all he could do was flail his arms in a futile attempt to injure the criminal.

In camera 2, he’s seen dragging the body to a nearby closet. Moments later, a man emerges from the room wearing a coat and what appears to be the guard’s clothes.

In the camera outside of the building, he’s seen walking towards the guard post. Not even 2 minutes later, the windows of the room was covered in blood and the hospital gate open moments later and he’s last seen running out as the other doctors and guards chase after the madman.

I was pale all over as I watched the footage. I sunk into the chair next to the dead man. 

My hands were trembling and my heart felt like it was about to burst out of my chest. Right now, I wish that this is all just a terrible dream. I wished that Greger Tomasetti was back in his room, rotting as he should be. I can’t bear the thought of all my skeletons ripped out from my closet. This can’t be happening…let this be a dream...let this be a terrible, terrible dream.

I glanced at the man beside me. There was a huge, gaping hole in his head. His mouth was agape and filled with blood. His dead, brown eyes were rolled back and his face was contorted in pain. From behind, he looked like he was sleeping. Somehow, I saw myself in his position. I shuddered at the thought.

“Why? Why would something like this happen?” I was almost in tears, but I dare not show weakness. Not now. Especially not now.

“That’s what I wanted to ask you in private, Doctor.” He pulled out a white envelope from his coat.

“We found this in Tomasetti’s room. It’s addressed to you.”

I felt my heart drop to my stomach.

-----
“Wise men say…only fools rush in….”

“But I can’t help falling in love with you…” My god. She was beautiful.

I watched Loretta’s lips curl at the edges. Her hair was a beautiful, red waterfall behind her. Her eyes, a striking blue against her fair face. They were the type you’d long to stare at for hours on end. Her big, beautiful, blue eyes were the type that would make you want to wake up every morning just to see them again. I used to always tell her that they were the most beautiful out of all her breath-taking features. She was magnificent. If perfection could take on a human form, no doubt it would be her.

I remembered the first time I met her. It was at a fair. I don’t remember what it was about, nor do I remember where it was held. But I do know that I met the most beautiful lady in the world there. She was a walking enigma, born to entice every soul she meets into her world. She was genetically engineered to captivate a man with nothing but a stare, and make him fall in love with just one word. Loretta Reed was a natural born heartbreaker.

I sped through the roads with the police coming close at my tail. I can feel it now. The adrenaline, the sudden rush of energy bursting through your veins. It made me feel alive, like how heroine is to an addict. I pressed my heel down to the gas.

She had shorter hair then and a younger face. She had a laugh that could make you euphoric. It was the kind of laugh that would make you want to keep her laughing. It was the kind that made you wonder how something so simple can be so beautiful.

And no doubt he thought that too.

I was standing by the door of our bedroom as I watched her caress the intruder in our “love bed,” as she used to call it. He was a handsome man, with a perfectly chiselled body and a face of an Adonis. He was all the things I wish I was—all the things I wasn’t and will never be. No doubt she thought that too.

They were kissing now. There was a dull ache at the middle of my chest where my heart is supposed to be. My head was foggy with alcohol and my vision is growing faint. I raised the half-empty bottle of wine to my lips and watched them.

I was getting close now. I knew that she wouldn’t stay in our old apartment, so I took a quick turn to the house of an old friend of mine: Doctor Mitchell Fausner.
Who would’ve thought that the very man you grab a beer with every Friday night and shared your deepest thoughts with could turn you over like yesterday’s laundry?

They were beautiful together. A beautiful woman and an equally beautiful man. It was a perfect match. Perhaps, that hurt more than the infidelity itself. The fact that a girl like her could never be with a guy like me was the plain truth that I couldn’t face in our brief year of marriage. She never loved me. I was nothing but an experiment—a detour from the main course. Maybe in her heart, I was the lover and he was her husband. I was too ambitious to think that I could ever be deemed worthy of such a love.

“Happy anniversary, love.” I said as I entered the room. Both of them jumped in surprise and I watched the feeling of dread slowly sink into their beautiful faces.

“What are you doing here?” Loretta said. She had a beautiful voice.

“I live here.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be on a business trip?” She had pretty eyes.

“Cancelled.”

“Greg…I…” Her freckles were a constellation, artfully dusted across her cheeks.

“Shhh…it’s okay. I just came here to grab my stuff. I’ll get going in a bit.”

And I did exactly that.

As I stumbled in the room, I accidentally dropped the bottle. I was too heartbroken to care about that. I grabbed some clothes, my toothbrush, and went out of the door.

And I never went back.

I felt the tears run down my face.

How can a man be so fucking cruel?

Mitchell Fausner was a man I thought I could put my faith on. We were practically inseparable. He was one of the very few people I’ve let into my life. Yet he was the first one to stand against me in court - in the time I needed him the most.

I was charged of murdering Frederick Goval, Loretta’s lover, on the day I caught them in bed with each other.

“He is mentally ill. I am his therapist and I can confidently stand by my statement. I am not saying that he is innocent of the crime, but I know that he has been going through a lot lately and I have proof of that.” I watched Mitch in utter disbelief as he stood there looking a like precious white knight. He knew that I never did anything wrong.

The night I left our apartment, I went to his house and stayed the night there. I promised him that it will only be for about a week, just until I could find a place of my own. The next morning I didn’t see him. The next thing I knew, the police came by to pick me up, and then there I was, in court, standing in trial for murdering a 26 year old delivery man in my own home with a wine bottle. That was exactly what I had told the judge.

But they wouldn’t listen. No one would.

No one will listen unless you have a pretty little face or maybe some pretty little cash up your coat jacket.

I parked the car in the driveway and hastily got to the door. I turned the knob and luckily, it was still open. Why doesn’t she learn to lock her doors? I carefully tread the way to Mitch’s room. I knew this place like the back of my hand; the hardwood floors, the faded green wallpaper, even the mild scent of cornflower in the air. It felt as if I was back in our carefree days before all the evil played out.

I stood right in front of his bedroom door. I knew for sure who was on the other side. I took a deep breath and pushed it open.

The room was small. It was illuminated by a single lamp that she left open. Lying on the bed was Loretta, naked in all her beauty. Despite the breath taking view of her, I felt nothing but loathing. I used to honour her body like she was a goddess. Now, she just looks like another face in the crowd - a part of the common rabble. Once you’ve seen the Devil’s horns, you’ll never forget the sight of them.

“Why are you here?” she murmured against the pillow. Her eye was open and she was staring at me across the room. There was no love in them.

“I came to see you.” She was beautiful.

“Aren’t you supposed to be rotting in a cell?” She smirked at her own sly remark.

“Well, supposed to be, until your boyfriend sent me to a mental hospital.” I took a few steps into the room.

“Did he now?” She rolled to her back so she can fully face me from the bed. “Oh yes, I remember. I told him to.” This is news.

“Why?”

“So you wouldn’t have to rot in a prison.” She raised a brow at me as if that was the most obvious reason in the world.

“Excuse me?”

“The night you caught me, Mitch came here and saw me with Fred. One thing led to another and a simple argument turned into a brawl, and a simple brawl led into…well I guess you already knew where I let to, right?”

“So you’re telling me…that Mitchell…Mitchell Fausner, killed your fuck boy?”

“It was an accident.”

“And you pinned it on me?”

“Your fingerprints were there, no one else’s. What else could we do? And you should be thankful. If I hadn’t dropped a word on his ear, he would have gladly watched you get dragged into prison. Plus, he thinks that it was in good nature to send you to his hospital so he could keep a close eye on you.”

“So he can watch my world slowly fall apart…” I was angry now. My ears were ringing and I could feel my veins popping in my neck. How can someone be so cruel?

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Mitch always used to tell me that the best way to control your anger is to stop and breathe. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breath out. Breathe in, breathe out.

"Why did you do it?"

"He had always wanted me, Greg...he always have"

"And he wanted you for his own...didn't he?"

"That was obvious enough, wasn't it?"

“Loretta…did you love me?” She didn’t answer. “Loretta, answer me please.”

“Might have.”

“Might have?”

“Might have.” I opened my eyes to look at her. My god, was she beautiful.

“Okay, thank you.”

“Why are you thanking me?”

“You gave me some courage.”

“Courage?” I heard something click.

“To do this.”

I took out the gun and blasted it away at her pretty little face.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five.

One bullet for each year.

Seven. Eight. Reload. Nine. Ten.

I could hear the sirens in front of the house.

Eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen. Fifteen.

“Freeze!” I heard them yell.

Sixteen.

There were feathers flying everywhere. Her body looked like a mangled piece of red meat, sprawled in an unimaginable position against the blood-stained mattress. Her body was left exposed and oozing with blood, her once beautiful face now in ruins. Still, her beautiful blue eyes remained, still breath taking even as they bulged from their sockets. Amidst the chaos in the room, I can’t help but notice how striking blue looks against the red.

I barely felt a thing as the men tackled me down to the floor and cuffed me. The gun slid halfway across the room and stopped short beside Loretta's yellow dress - the same dress she wore when I first met her. No resistance came from me that time. There is no elaborate plan of escape, no blueprints hidden up my sleeves. I couldn’t have hoped for a better release than this.

Loretta…

My god, was she beautiful.

--------

With trembling fingers, I reached out to take the envelope from his hands. I was sweating bullets in spite of the chill in the room. No doubt that the man could see that.

It was a simple, white envelope. At the back, it read “To Fausner, with love” and nothing else. I could scarcely breathe as I read what the madman had to say.

My dearest Mitchell Fausner,

First and foremost, I’d like to congratulate you on your promotion in the past month. I’m sure it was quite a task, getting that fancy little nameplate and that fancy little office in your fancy little hospital. I wonder, how many patients did you have to choke to get there? How many soles did you have to lick? Most importantly, how many of these things did the board members knew about you?

I could feel the pit in my stomach growing. My breath is falling short. I hardly felt anything as the officer tapped my shoulder.

Enclosed herein is a compilation of all the atrocities you’ve committed in the past 16 years, complete with documents to prove your lack of professionalism and morale.

I opened the envelope once again, and there it was. A thick folder containing all the horrors I could only imagine. I can’t begin to perceive how a man like Greger Tomasetti managed to get the best of me, or better yet, how a man like him managed to get his slimy paws on things like this.

“You look a bit pale there, Doctor.” I could barely hear the officer standing only a mere 5 feet away from me and my demons. “May I ask why?”

“It’s probably the lack of sleep, sir.” I prayed to God that he believes that.

“Do you want some coffee, son?” He had his brow raised this time. I could almost see the gears turning in his head.

“A cup of coffee would be lovely. Thank you.” He turned around and left the room. As soon as the door hit home, I turned the lock and blocked the handle with a chair. I took of my jacket and covered the camera, not minding that all of it was being recorded. Once I was assured that I was alone in a room with a rotting corpse and a deadly envelope, I took out the folder.

It was a thick brown folder, with its contents threatening to spill. I sat down by the door and flipped it open. It felt as if the room was shrinking around me. Everything was spinning and the very air felt toxic. Inside contained letters and photographs, each one more horrifying than the other.

The first photograph was of me savagely beating a patient with a baton. Her face was all bloodied as she tried to shield it with her thin, frail hands. Her hospital gown was hiked up, showing scratch marks and bruises around her thighs. The zipper of my slacks were down, and my belt undone. The floor under her was littered with splatters of blood and teeth. Her face showed nothing but fear. My face showed nothing but contempt. It wouldn’t take a genius to know what was happening here.

I took out a flask from my coat hanging on the camera and flipped through more of the images.

There were only 5 pictures, and all of them seemed to have been screenshots from security cameras. The only people that were allowed access to security records were the guards and me. If there was a case that required the help of the police, they too have the right to rummage through the files. No doubt that they had already done that. How the fuck did a bastard like Greger Tomasetti managed to get his hands on these? There had to be an accomplice. The computers were all encrypted and if anyone tried to hack it, an alarm would be set off.

And then it clicked.

I quickly ran to the guard’s desk and saw that the playbacks were all running. Only the guard here would know the password so it would be impossible for the policeman to open and run all of this…unless someone did it for him.

I looked at one of the screens and saw that it was pitch black. That’s the camera inside this room. I checked the playback from hours ago, and my jaw dropped to the floor.
There he was. Tomasetti was placing the dead guard’s body on the chair. He turns around and he seems to be fiddling with the computer for a bit. He then glances at the dead man beside him and takes his hand. He places his dead fingers on the scanner, and I could see the computer loading something. He turns around and sees the camera.

The sides of his mouth curled into a sneer. His eyes were dull white orbs, full of menace. He knew I was going to watch this. He’s always too smart for his own good.

In the video, he’s seen writing something on a piece of paper and raises it to the camera.
HELLO, FAUSNER AND FRIENDS. I THINK THE WHITE ENVELOPE HIDDEN IN MY ROOM WOULD BE OF INTEREST TO YOU.

I felt the tears trickle down my face.

Tomasetti turns around and types something on the computer. On the side of the room, the printer is ejecting what seems to be the very images that I am holding. When he was done, he turned around to give one last smile at the camera and leaves.

Only one question is left unanswered now.

How did the pictures get in the envelope if the envelope was in his room the whole time?

I glanced at his letter once again and saw what else he was hiding.

Secondly, I just want to give you a heads up. By the time you read this, your girlfriend (who is also my ex-wife, you dipshit) is probably dead, if not dying. I advise that you bolt your doors and close your windows for now. Think of it as a friendly gesture from me. After all, you did went through all that trouble to "fix my head."

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’d offer a hand while you’re sinking in the pit that I so lovingly dug up for you. See, you’ve helped me in a way. No you didn’t eradicate the disease in my head. If anything, you just gave it a supporting nudge. I do not condemn you for that, since there is nothing to condemn in the first place. The damage, if you would allow the term, only helped me build the courage I needed to burn some bridges. 

And for that, I thank you.

Sincerely not yours,

Greger Tomasetti

P.S.

Money can never buy you loyalty, Mitch. It was fairly easy getting all their testimonies, especially when they’re so stupid to think that you were going actually going to trial.

My head snapped up when I heard someone rattling the knob.

“Open the door, son.” The officer said along with three sharp knocks. Come on, Fausner! Think! Think!

I can’t jump off the window, since there were no fucking windows in here. I can’t escape the building considering that by now, it must be swarming with police. This leaves me with no other option.

Inside the folder were letters showing proof of my exploits. That encompasses bribery, to silence curious listeners, and doing favors for those who I deemed well enough for them. All of that was done inside Sacred Heart - the very institution that sought to help those in need. I used to think that no one could trace them all to me. But I’m mistaken.

All of the letters were testimonies of bribery from men I thought I could trust. Enclosed within each one was believable proof of my exchange with them. What’s even more baffling is that they were all written as if they were addressing a judge and jury. Greger Tomasetti was known to be a smart man before he entered Sacred Heart, but I never truly believed it. Until now.

I laid out all of the contents of the envelope on the ground and fished a lighter from my pocket. Let the flames begin.

“Open the damn door, Fausner. Don’t make this harder for yourself!” He banged on the handle, and before long, it broke loose just as I was arming myself with the guard’s gun.

“Come in and I’ll shoot!” I could hear other people outside of the door now. Gruff whispers and people hushing each other. I felt like a shy animal inside a cage with people eager to see me. I could feel the adrenaline rushing through my cold, sweaty body like a hot drink on a cold night. The ringing on my ears were getting louder and louder. My heart is seconds away from bursting out of my chest. I was left with no other option.

“Easy now, son. We don’t want to hurt you. We just want to talk.”

“I’LL FUCKING SHOOT!” I could feel the hot tears running down my face. I nervously flicked the safety off the gun and tried to focus my unsteady hands at the door. At the other side, I could hear them whispering.

“Officer? What’s your name?” I could feel myself shaking all over. I could see all of my patients’ faces looking at me. I could hear them sneering at me, their breath cold at the nape of my neck. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

They’re calling me.

“Sam. My name is Sam.” I could hear the uncertainty in his voice.

“Sam? Okay, Sam. Do you have any children?” I was sobbing at this point. I can’t do this.

“Yes. A wife and a daughter, Mitch. Can I call you Mitch?”

“Yes, please…please call me Mitch.” I felt my knees buckle under me. Everything was a blur. Amidst the commotion inside my head I could hear someone tallying the names. Isabella, Coral, Jeremy, Dwight. All the names I thought I buried. Jonathan. Denise. Rene. France. All the names I thought I could forget.

I am left with no other option.

“Mitch, I’m going to go in now. Can you promise me you won’t shoot?”

“Sam, go home. Go to your wife, tell her you love her. Tell her you’re sorry. Hug your children. Kiss them. Tell them that daddy is with them. Tell them you love them. Can you do that, Sam? This might be the last time they’d hear it.”

“Mitch…calm down. You’re going to be fine.”

“Sam, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry for doing this. Will you ever forgive me?” The air felt all too suffocating. My lungs felt like balloons threatening to pop. My eyes felt like red hot coals, oozing out of their sockets.

“Mitch, you’ll be fine.”

“How are you sure of that?”

He did not answer.

The door swung open like a hurricane, and five armed and armored men emerged.

“Freeze! Drop your weapon!” The old man said.

“I’m sorry.” Garreck. Priscilla. Jane. Vicky.

“I am so sorry.” I pointed the gun to my head and I—
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by Broken_Toe in portal Fiction

Mountain Game

PROLOGUE

Eyes-of-an-Owl's gaze was drawn to the heavens. The starry sky he knew so well was forever changed. The prophecy was about to unfold. The first sign had appeared. The new star... the bringer of death. The star that drifts aimlessly with its brothers. It marks the coming, the warrior’s omen. The time of the rebellion. Eyes-of-an-Owl knew it to be a time of dishonor: a time of impasse. The old medicine man dipped his fingers into the black paint at his side and began the chant - the chant of silence, as he smeared on the cloak of death. The time had come. The star would fall.

He closed himself off to the world and allowed the chant to overtake him. The mantra was to help him drop into a state of meditation; from there he could seek answers from the other realm. He whispered for help from his spirit guide. Would the answer come for his plea?

The smoke of tobacco and the heat of the flame swallowed the small chamber as the old man drifted into a clouded vision amid the dark tunnel of change. Things were hazy at first as the patterns unfolded in a maze of illusion under the mask of sleep. Blinded by the fog of a trance, a scene unfolded as a sense of reality raised the shroud of hesitation and focused the dreamer’s perception to receive the quest. The layer of mist hung in the air and it seemed to billow at his feet as he stepped through the warren. When he reached out and touched a wall he found it hot to the stroke and smooth as a knife blade. The sight gave way to a large darkened cavern with flat walls covered in drawings and designs that he could not distinguish.

The air stunk of musty sweat and animal rot mixed with the smell of white trapper stink: the bait used in their trapping. Yet the odor had a unique twist he could not place. He walked forward through the sultry tunnel, the fog rolled at his feet and swelled as he passed. The tunnel in which he walked opened into a large room with tall smooth pillars that lifted in columns supporting a contoured canopy of soft glowing light with interrupted patches of night sky. Through the haze of the picture came the feeling he wasn’t alone.

He could not fully understand what he saw next, for who could understand the spirit realm? Ghostly shadows moved through the misty room, at first distant, then closer, as the man was pulled through the chamber like he was falling, yet vertical. Immense figures passed by the haze, out of focus, without form - then took shape with abrupt clarity. Taller than a man and well muscled, their skin looked as if it were covered in scales. Was the perception misleading? The tough hide was smooth to the touch and metallic in color. Spots of various red hues blanketed the flesh, but seemed out of place over the silver backdrop.

As he looked upon a face he felt fear overtake him. For surely it was the face of a demon. The thing had no lips, but protruding from the upper jaw the savage, oversized fangs of a cat froth amid the otherwise small toothy mouth. Icy red pupils burned beneath large round reflective orbs like narrow slits of evil that studied the environment with complete maliciousness. Long knotted branches of black jointed cords appeared as numerous spider legs, twisted and gnarled, encircling the skull and skirting the crown of its head. Truly ugly and evil - never had he seen a creature quite like it.

The demon turned towards a body hanging helpless from a limb. Then the revelation transposed to the scope of the demon’s view as the visionary focused on the treachery. The man was screaming in the agonies of the torture. A massive forearm supporting numerous hooked daggers dragged across the victim’s back rendering the flesh and tearing the skin. A hand, clawed and menacing, pulled the loose hide free as the giant raised his eyes skyward in triumph. The devil reveled in the screams of the vanquished.

“The gatherer!” Whispered the dream, as the visualization revealed its scope.

The visionary knew the sign. The Demons to come for the quest of men... Stealing the soul… harvesting the pinnacle.... 

 “The gatherers have arrived.”

The ground below him tossed and he found himself thrown from his feet. The floor then buckled once more and he watched other demons fall. The purge had come. The star would descend. Sucked from the scene to a rock over a cliff, a streak tore the night sky with flares like branches that spread in a shower from the heavens above.

Then, Eyes-of-an-Owl awoke in his chamber. The dream ended in a haze of the fire’s smoke. His quest had revealed many secrets, and the sign had been uncovered. In the night’s sky was the answer. 

 He stepped out of his lodge into the cold air of the intense starry night. A new light glowed bright; it was the hunter’s star. Proof once more that the time was soon. How many would die this time? The star intensified then passed into fiery streaks of luster that pierced the expanse. The luminary was falling, forever sealing his people’s fate. 

 The time of the gathering had come.  

(The first chapter)  https://theprose.com/post/142765/mountain-game 

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by Broken_Toe in portal Fiction
Mountain Game
PROLOGUE

Eyes-of-an-Owl's gaze was drawn to the heavens. The starry sky he knew so well was forever changed. The prophecy was about to unfold. The first sign had appeared. The new star... the bringer of death. The star that drifts aimlessly with its brothers. It marks the coming, the warrior’s omen. The time of the rebellion. Eyes-of-an-Owl knew it to be a time of dishonor: a time of impasse. The old medicine man dipped his fingers into the black paint at his side and began the chant - the chant of silence, as he smeared on the cloak of death. The time had come. The star would fall.

He closed himself off to the world and allowed the chant to overtake him. The mantra was to help him drop into a state of meditation; from there he could seek answers from the other realm. He whispered for help from his spirit guide. Would the answer come for his plea?

The smoke of tobacco and the heat of the flame swallowed the small chamber as the old man drifted into a clouded vision amid the dark tunnel of change. Things were hazy at first as the patterns unfolded in a maze of illusion under the mask of sleep. Blinded by the fog of a trance, a scene unfolded as a sense of reality raised the shroud of hesitation and focused the dreamer’s perception to receive the quest. The layer of mist hung in the air and it seemed to billow at his feet as he stepped through the warren. When he reached out and touched a wall he found it hot to the stroke and smooth as a knife blade. The sight gave way to a large darkened cavern with flat walls covered in drawings and designs that he could not distinguish.

The air stunk of musty sweat and animal rot mixed with the smell of white trapper stink: the bait used in their trapping. Yet the odor had a unique twist he could not place. He walked forward through the sultry tunnel, the fog rolled at his feet and swelled as he passed. The tunnel in which he walked opened into a large room with tall smooth pillars that lifted in columns supporting a contoured canopy of soft glowing light with interrupted patches of night sky. Through the haze of the picture came the feeling he wasn’t alone.

He could not fully understand what he saw next, for who could understand the spirit realm? Ghostly shadows moved through the misty room, at first distant, then closer, as the man was pulled through the chamber like he was falling, yet vertical. Immense figures passed by the haze, out of focus, without form - then took shape with abrupt clarity. Taller than a man and well muscled, their skin looked as if it were covered in scales. Was the perception misleading? The tough hide was smooth to the touch and metallic in color. Spots of various red hues blanketed the flesh, but seemed out of place over the silver backdrop.

As he looked upon a face he felt fear overtake him. For surely it was the face of a demon. The thing had no lips, but protruding from the upper jaw the savage, oversized fangs of a cat froth amid the otherwise small toothy mouth. Icy red pupils burned beneath large round reflective orbs like narrow slits of evil that studied the environment with complete maliciousness. Long knotted branches of black jointed cords appeared as numerous spider legs, twisted and gnarled, encircling the skull and skirting the crown of its head. Truly ugly and evil - never had he seen a creature quite like it.

The demon turned towards a body hanging helpless from a limb. Then the revelation transposed to the scope of the demon’s view as the visionary focused on the treachery. The man was screaming in the agonies of the torture. A massive forearm supporting numerous hooked daggers dragged across the victim’s back rendering the flesh and tearing the skin. A hand, clawed and menacing, pulled the loose hide free as the giant raised his eyes skyward in triumph. The devil reveled in the screams of the vanquished.

“The gatherer!” Whispered the dream, as the visualization revealed its scope.

The visionary knew the sign. The Demons to come for the quest of men... Stealing the soul… harvesting the pinnacle.... 

 “The gatherers have arrived.”

The ground below him tossed and he found himself thrown from his feet. The floor then buckled once more and he watched other demons fall. The purge had come. The star would descend. Sucked from the scene to a rock over a cliff, a streak tore the night sky with flares like branches that spread in a shower from the heavens above.

Then, Eyes-of-an-Owl awoke in his chamber. The dream ended in a haze of the fire’s smoke. His quest had revealed many secrets, and the sign had been uncovered. In the night’s sky was the answer. 

 He stepped out of his lodge into the cold air of the intense starry night. A new light glowed bright; it was the hunter’s star. Proof once more that the time was soon. How many would die this time? The star intensified then passed into fiery streaks of luster that pierced the expanse. The luminary was falling, forever sealing his people’s fate. 

 The time of the gathering had come.  

(The first chapter)  https://theprose.com/post/142765/mountain-game 
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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by RERichardson in portal Fiction

The Green Room

                                                                  I

    They called it a Green Room, but Gerald knew a holding cell when he saw one. The walls were painted in mucus green, but they were built out of large cinder blocks, and there were no windows. A single fluorescent bulb glowed from the ceiling. A small square vent near the floor pumped in cool air. He considered the vent, but it only six inches square. He wouldn't be able to squeeze his head in there, much less his entire body.

    All he could do was wait. He shifted himself on the narrow bench for better comfort. He thought about taking a nap, but his brain wouldn't shut down. His last meal sat like a lead weight in his stomach. Roast chicken, scalloped potatoes, and buttered peas. At least they knew how to cook here. The peas were fresh and delicious. The chicken was moist and tender. He wondered if there was roast chicken in Heaven. He then considered if he was going to Heaven.

    Gerald stopped that thought. It wasn't quite the end. He still had a chance. That was the reason that he was here. The odds were still against him, but it was better than having your demise determined by a group of random strangers. 'Jury of your peers' was complete bullshit, he thought. There was no question of his guilt. He killed that guy in the bar. He didn't plan on killing anyone that night. He was just out celebrating the victory of his favorite football team for winning the Super Bowl. It was a crime of passion, that was what the press called it. That didn't matter. What mattered was that if he had done this just twenty years ago, his options were either filing appeals while sitting on death row, or spending life in prison, where he would have to avoid getting gang-raped in the shower, and not breathing free air until he was an old, used-up con.

    The game didn't resolve any arguments between the pro-death penalty and the cruel-and-unusual punishment groups, but it did give a condemned man some choice in his fate, and Gerald took it. He agreed to play. He signed all the release waivers, affidavits, and other paperwork that the system wanted, and he now waited for his turn to play the game that millions of his fellow citizens watched across the country. God bless the U.S.A.

                                                               II

    The steel door that led into the Green Room opened, and two beefy guards walked in. Gerald was instructed to stand up, face the wall, and place his hands behind his head. He complied and was patted down for any weapons. His hands and ankles were shackled, and when they were satisfied that he was no longer a threat, they walked him out of the room, and down a long corridor. It was dark, but Gerald could hear the excited rumble of hundreds of people from the thin stage wall on his left. People reserved their seats months in advance for the big show, and each show was sold out every time.

    The guards stopped him as they approached a heavy curtain, but he could hear the amplified voice of the host. The show had begun.

    "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen! I'm Justice Nathan Powell from the Supreme Court of Texas, and it's my great pleasure to host America's most popular reality show...HANGMAN!"

    The audience clapped and screamed with approval. Gerald listened while Justice Powell continued with his opening speech.

    "That's right! This is the show that let's condemned criminals test their skills to see if they get to live, or let justice prevail! All proceeds go to fund the state's prison system, so the taxpayers don't have to foot the bill!"

    The crowd roared at this announcement, and Gerald couldn't blame them. He put his own signature on the petition that allowed this game to be created. Who knew that he would wind up here?

    Justice Powell said,"Bob, please introduce tonight's guest!"

    A deep voice boomed through the loudspeakers. "Your Honor, tonight's guest is Gerald Smith. Mr. Smith is thirty-two and was working as a drywall contractor when he got into a heated debate with Bill Liddell at a local Hooters. Both men were legally intoxicated, but things turned deadly when Mr. Smith slammed Mr. Liddell's head into the bar with enough force to cause Mr. Liddell's death. Mr. Smith was tried and convicted of first-degree murder, and here he is, ready to risk it all.."

    The heavy curtains separated, and the guards pushed him through.

    "Ladies and gentlemen, Gerald Smith!"

                                                                   III

    Gerald was blinded by the harsh stage lights, and when his vision cleared, he faced a huge crowd of people that wanted him to lose. They booed and ranted curses at him. Some held their fists above their heads and mimicked being choked in the noose. Thank God for the plexiglass shield that blocked the audience from the stage.

    The gallows was on his right. It was a raised platform with an overhanging steel beam. The hangman's noose dangled from the beam and waited to be wrapped around his neck.

    The guards led him up the stairs to the platform and positioned him over the trap door.

The noose was wrapped around his neck, and Gerald could feel the nylon threads scratch his skin. The heavy knot was placed behind his right shoulder blade, so his neck could snap if he lost. A wireless mic was snapped to his collar, and with that done, both guards stepped off the platform. Gerald was able to look down at Justice Powell, who stood beside a massive screen that showed a blanked out message:

__ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __   __ __ __

    Justice Powell said,"Now Gerald, let me explain the rules. As you can see, there is a hidden message on the screen, and the message refers to a person. You have to choose the correct letters to solve the puzzle. You have thirty seconds to choose each letter. If you choose incorrectly, you lose a point. You can lose up to five points, as seen here."

    The message was replaced by a stick picture of a man being hung. Gerald understood the concept. If he chose a wrong letter, or if he took long, one leg would disappear, then another, then the arms, and the torso, and...

    The Judge finished with,"If you lose all six points, then..."

    "YOU HANG!" the crowd yelled.

    Justice Powell smiled at the audience, then looked back up at Gerald. "That's the bad news. However, for every letter you get right, you win a hundred dollars. Vowels are worth double, and if you want to solve the puzzle, just yell 'Go for Broke', and give the answer. If you win, you'll be given a full pardon, a new set of ID, and a relocation to any city of your choice in the U.S.A. But if you try to solve the puzzle and fail, then what happens?" Justice Powell looked at the audience.

    The crowd yelled,"YOU HANG!"

    Justice Powell asked,"So, Mr. Smith. Are you ready to play?"

    "Yes," was all Gerald could say.

    "OK! Bob, please give us thirty seconds on the clock...now!"

    A clock face appeared on the upper right corner of the screen and started counting. Gerald concentrated on the blanks. A person. There were too many words for a regular name. Maybe it was a celebrity.

    He looked at the clock. Shit, he only had fifteen seconds left. In desperation, he yelled,"M!"

    Justice Powell looked at his answer card. "Yes! There are two M's. That's two hundred dollars!"

    The letters appeared on the screen. The puzzle now read:

__ __ __   __M__ __ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __   M__ __

    The clock was reset to thirty seconds and started again.

    Gerald stared at the puzzle. The rope had started an itch on his neck, and he knew it would do more than itch if he lost.

    "W!"

    The Judge said,"Sorry, there is no W. That's one point gone."

    The right leg appeared on the hanging stick figure. The clock reset itself and started over.

    "O!"

    "Sorry, no O's. That's another point!"

    Both legs appeared on the screen, and Gerald had to stop his own legs from buckling as he studied the puzzle. Time to try another vowel.

    "A!"

    The Judge yelled,"Outstanding! There are three A's. Double points mean that you now have eight hundred dollars!"

    The puzzle now read:

__ __ __   AMA__ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __   __ MA__

    This gave Gerald more confidence as the clock started over. He decided to use another vowel.

    "E!"

    "Excellent! There are two E's. You are now up to twelve-hundred dollars! Remember, you can solve the puzzle at any time!"

    The clock started ticking again. Gerald could feel sweat running down his face. A drop went into his eye, but his hands were chained to his waist. His vision blurred. This wasn't fair!

    A buzzer sounded, and the Judge said,"Sorry, Mr. Smith. Time's up. You have now lost three points."

    The torso lit up on the stick-figure hangman, and the crowd cheered.

    The clock started again. He was getting lucky with vowels.

    "I!"

    "Correct! There are two I's. You now have sixteen hundred dollars!"

    The new letter was added:

__ __ __   AMA__ I __ __   __ __ I __ __ __   MA__

    Gerald tried to keep his focus. He was so close now. If he could solve it, he would win his life, his freedom, and sixteen-hundred dollars.

    "U!"

    "Sorry, there are no U's. That's four points lost now. Keep trying!"

    Lord have mercy, he only had one point left. His heart was thumping hard in his chest.     He stared at the puzzle. The last word was MAN, so it wasn't a name of a person. A title?

    The buzzer sounded again, making him jump. He could feel the trapdoor shift under his weight.

    Justice Powell said,"Sorry, Gerald. Time's up again. You have no more points left. You can Go for Broke at any time."

    The left arm lit up, and the clock started again. This could be the last thirty seconds of his life. His mind wanted to go into Panic Mode. He didn't want to die. He was so sorry that he killed that guy. It was amazing how fragile life is. Anyone could...

    The rest of the puzzle clicked in his mind, and he knew he had the correct answer.

    He screamed,"Go for broke!"

    The crowd went silent. Gerald saw the clock was stopped at twenty -six seconds. He was just four seconds away from death.

    The Judge said,"May we have the answer please?"

    Gerald screamed,"The Amazing Spider-Man!"

    The Judge looked at his card. "Gerald Smith...that is CORRECT!"

    The rest of the letters appeared on the screen, and the audience howled with disappointment. Justice Powell yelled his judgment to grant Gerald Smith a full pardon, and have a check written for the prize money...

    But Gerald didn't hear any of this. Black spots appeared before his eyes and started to grow. He felt his knees give out. His last thought was this is what fainting feels like, as the rope tightened, and everything went dark.

                                                                  IV

    The show was over, and Justice Powell knew that he would receive a shitload of calls, emails, and hate-texts on this one. There were press conferences that had to be scheduled, meetings to attend, and that meant no evening of relaxation. No steak for dinner, and he would have to cancel the appointment with his masseuse.

    He marched into his office and ordered everyone out. His secretary informed him that the Attorney General was on line one. Fine, he would deal with the big boys now, and everything else later. 

    He sat behind his oak-paneled desk and picked up the handset. The line connected, and he dived right in. "Hey, Jimmy! How's life in Austin? Did you catch today's show? What? Hey-C'mon, Jimmy. How were we to know he would faint on the stage? Yes, we tried to save him. I was told that when Mr. Smith fainted, the weight of his body was enough to crush his windpipe. I know some will love it, and some will hate it. How's that any different than our past shows? C'mon, not that old 'cruel and usual' argument. We don't force convicts to play. We still have hundreds of prisoners just waiting to get on that stage. Look, don't worry about anything. I'll take care of the press."

    He saw his secretary open the door. He said,"Hang on, Jimmy. Give me a minute."

He pressed the receiver against his chest.

    His secretary said,"Just FYI, it looks like this is going to be our biggest show ever. We've broken our own rating record from previous shows. Viewers are already fighting over if it was 'tragic irony' or 'poetic justice'."

    He waved her out and lifted the receiver back up. "Sorry about that, Jim. I just got some good news. We can go with the 'poetic justice' angle. That's right. I mean, the man was sentenced to be executed, right?"

    The judge continued, and he knew that he could sell this to even the bleeding-hearts that hated the show. Maybe he could get that steak after all.

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by RERichardson in portal Fiction
The Green Room
                                                                  I
    They called it a Green Room, but Gerald knew a holding cell when he saw one. The walls were painted in mucus green, but they were built out of large cinder blocks, and there were no windows. A single fluorescent bulb glowed from the ceiling. A small square vent near the floor pumped in cool air. He considered the vent, but it only six inches square. He wouldn't be able to squeeze his head in there, much less his entire body.
    All he could do was wait. He shifted himself on the narrow bench for better comfort. He thought about taking a nap, but his brain wouldn't shut down. His last meal sat like a lead weight in his stomach. Roast chicken, scalloped potatoes, and buttered peas. At least they knew how to cook here. The peas were fresh and delicious. The chicken was moist and tender. He wondered if there was roast chicken in Heaven. He then considered if he was going to Heaven.
    Gerald stopped that thought. It wasn't quite the end. He still had a chance. That was the reason that he was here. The odds were still against him, but it was better than having your demise determined by a group of random strangers. 'Jury of your peers' was complete bullshit, he thought. There was no question of his guilt. He killed that guy in the bar. He didn't plan on killing anyone that night. He was just out celebrating the victory of his favorite football team for winning the Super Bowl. It was a crime of passion, that was what the press called it. That didn't matter. What mattered was that if he had done this just twenty years ago, his options were either filing appeals while sitting on death row, or spending life in prison, where he would have to avoid getting gang-raped in the shower, and not breathing free air until he was an old, used-up con.
    The game didn't resolve any arguments between the pro-death penalty and the cruel-and-unusual punishment groups, but it did give a condemned man some choice in his fate, and Gerald took it. He agreed to play. He signed all the release waivers, affidavits, and other paperwork that the system wanted, and he now waited for his turn to play the game that millions of his fellow citizens watched across the country. God bless the U.S.A.
                                                               II
    The steel door that led into the Green Room opened, and two beefy guards walked in. Gerald was instructed to stand up, face the wall, and place his hands behind his head. He complied and was patted down for any weapons. His hands and ankles were shackled, and when they were satisfied that he was no longer a threat, they walked him out of the room, and down a long corridor. It was dark, but Gerald could hear the excited rumble of hundreds of people from the thin stage wall on his left. People reserved their seats months in advance for the big show, and each show was sold out every time.
    The guards stopped him as they approached a heavy curtain, but he could hear the amplified voice of the host. The show had begun.
    "Welcome, ladies and gentlemen! I'm Justice Nathan Powell from the Supreme Court of Texas, and it's my great pleasure to host America's most popular reality show...HANGMAN!"
    The audience clapped and screamed with approval. Gerald listened while Justice Powell continued with his opening speech.
    "That's right! This is the show that let's condemned criminals test their skills to see if they get to live, or let justice prevail! All proceeds go to fund the state's prison system, so the taxpayers don't have to foot the bill!"
    The crowd roared at this announcement, and Gerald couldn't blame them. He put his own signature on the petition that allowed this game to be created. Who knew that he would wind up here?
    Justice Powell said,"Bob, please introduce tonight's guest!"
    A deep voice boomed through the loudspeakers. "Your Honor, tonight's guest is Gerald Smith. Mr. Smith is thirty-two and was working as a drywall contractor when he got into a heated debate with Bill Liddell at a local Hooters. Both men were legally intoxicated, but things turned deadly when Mr. Smith slammed Mr. Liddell's head into the bar with enough force to cause Mr. Liddell's death. Mr. Smith was tried and convicted of first-degree murder, and here he is, ready to risk it all.."
    The heavy curtains separated, and the guards pushed him through.
    "Ladies and gentlemen, Gerald Smith!"
                                                                   III
    Gerald was blinded by the harsh stage lights, and when his vision cleared, he faced a huge crowd of people that wanted him to lose. They booed and ranted curses at him. Some held their fists above their heads and mimicked being choked in the noose. Thank God for the plexiglass shield that blocked the audience from the stage.
    The gallows was on his right. It was a raised platform with an overhanging steel beam. The hangman's noose dangled from the beam and waited to be wrapped around his neck.
    The guards led him up the stairs to the platform and positioned him over the trap door.
The noose was wrapped around his neck, and Gerald could feel the nylon threads scratch his skin. The heavy knot was placed behind his right shoulder blade, so his neck could snap if he lost. A wireless mic was snapped to his collar, and with that done, both guards stepped off the platform. Gerald was able to look down at Justice Powell, who stood beside a massive screen that showed a blanked out message:

__ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __   __ __ __

    Justice Powell said,"Now Gerald, let me explain the rules. As you can see, there is a hidden message on the screen, and the message refers to a person. You have to choose the correct letters to solve the puzzle. You have thirty seconds to choose each letter. If you choose incorrectly, you lose a point. You can lose up to five points, as seen here."
    The message was replaced by a stick picture of a man being hung. Gerald understood the concept. If he chose a wrong letter, or if he took long, one leg would disappear, then another, then the arms, and the torso, and...
    The Judge finished with,"If you lose all six points, then..."
    "YOU HANG!" the crowd yelled.
    Justice Powell smiled at the audience, then looked back up at Gerald. "That's the bad news. However, for every letter you get right, you win a hundred dollars. Vowels are worth double, and if you want to solve the puzzle, just yell 'Go for Broke', and give the answer. If you win, you'll be given a full pardon, a new set of ID, and a relocation to any city of your choice in the U.S.A. But if you try to solve the puzzle and fail, then what happens?" Justice Powell looked at the audience.
    The crowd yelled,"YOU HANG!"
    Justice Powell asked,"So, Mr. Smith. Are you ready to play?"
    "Yes," was all Gerald could say.
    "OK! Bob, please give us thirty seconds on the clock...now!"
    A clock face appeared on the upper right corner of the screen and started counting. Gerald concentrated on the blanks. A person. There were too many words for a regular name. Maybe it was a celebrity.
    He looked at the clock. Shit, he only had fifteen seconds left. In desperation, he yelled,"M!"
    Justice Powell looked at his answer card. "Yes! There are two M's. That's two hundred dollars!"
    The letters appeared on the screen. The puzzle now read:

__ __ __   __M__ __ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __ __   M__ __

    The clock was reset to thirty seconds and started again.
    Gerald stared at the puzzle. The rope had started an itch on his neck, and he knew it would do more than itch if he lost.
    "W!"
    The Judge said,"Sorry, there is no W. That's one point gone."
    The right leg appeared on the hanging stick figure. The clock reset itself and started over.
    "O!"
    "Sorry, no O's. That's another point!"
    Both legs appeared on the screen, and Gerald had to stop his own legs from buckling as he studied the puzzle. Time to try another vowel.
    "A!"
    The Judge yelled,"Outstanding! There are three A's. Double points mean that you now have eight hundred dollars!"
    The puzzle now read:

__ __ __   AMA__ __ __ __   __ __ __ __ __   __ MA__

    This gave Gerald more confidence as the clock started over. He decided to use another vowel.
    "E!"
    "Excellent! There are two E's. You are now up to twelve-hundred dollars! Remember, you can solve the puzzle at any time!"
    The clock started ticking again. Gerald could feel sweat running down his face. A drop went into his eye, but his hands were chained to his waist. His vision blurred. This wasn't fair!
    A buzzer sounded, and the Judge said,"Sorry, Mr. Smith. Time's up. You have now lost three points."
    The torso lit up on the stick-figure hangman, and the crowd cheered.
    The clock started again. He was getting lucky with vowels.
    "I!"
    "Correct! There are two I's. You now have sixteen hundred dollars!"
    The new letter was added:

__ __ __   AMA__ I __ __   __ __ I __ __ __   MA__

    Gerald tried to keep his focus. He was so close now. If he could solve it, he would win his life, his freedom, and sixteen-hundred dollars.
    "U!"
    "Sorry, there are no U's. That's four points lost now. Keep trying!"
    Lord have mercy, he only had one point left. His heart was thumping hard in his chest.     He stared at the puzzle. The last word was MAN, so it wasn't a name of a person. A title?
    The buzzer sounded again, making him jump. He could feel the trapdoor shift under his weight.
    Justice Powell said,"Sorry, Gerald. Time's up again. You have no more points left. You can Go for Broke at any time."
    The left arm lit up, and the clock started again. This could be the last thirty seconds of his life. His mind wanted to go into Panic Mode. He didn't want to die. He was so sorry that he killed that guy. It was amazing how fragile life is. Anyone could...
    The rest of the puzzle clicked in his mind, and he knew he had the correct answer.
    He screamed,"Go for broke!"
    The crowd went silent. Gerald saw the clock was stopped at twenty -six seconds. He was just four seconds away from death.
    The Judge said,"May we have the answer please?"
    Gerald screamed,"The Amazing Spider-Man!"
    The Judge looked at his card. "Gerald Smith...that is CORRECT!"
    The rest of the letters appeared on the screen, and the audience howled with disappointment. Justice Powell yelled his judgment to grant Gerald Smith a full pardon, and have a check written for the prize money...
    But Gerald didn't hear any of this. Black spots appeared before his eyes and started to grow. He felt his knees give out. His last thought was this is what fainting feels like, as the rope tightened, and everything went dark.

                                                                  IV
    The show was over, and Justice Powell knew that he would receive a shitload of calls, emails, and hate-texts on this one. There were press conferences that had to be scheduled, meetings to attend, and that meant no evening of relaxation. No steak for dinner, and he would have to cancel the appointment with his masseuse.
    He marched into his office and ordered everyone out. His secretary informed him that the Attorney General was on line one. Fine, he would deal with the big boys now, and everything else later. 
    He sat behind his oak-paneled desk and picked up the handset. The line connected, and he dived right in. "Hey, Jimmy! How's life in Austin? Did you catch today's show? What? Hey-C'mon, Jimmy. How were we to know he would faint on the stage? Yes, we tried to save him. I was told that when Mr. Smith fainted, the weight of his body was enough to crush his windpipe. I know some will love it, and some will hate it. How's that any different than our past shows? C'mon, not that old 'cruel and usual' argument. We don't force convicts to play. We still have hundreds of prisoners just waiting to get on that stage. Look, don't worry about anything. I'll take care of the press."
    He saw his secretary open the door. He said,"Hang on, Jimmy. Give me a minute."
He pressed the receiver against his chest.
    His secretary said,"Just FYI, it looks like this is going to be our biggest show ever. We've broken our own rating record from previous shows. Viewers are already fighting over if it was 'tragic irony' or 'poetic justice'."
    He waved her out and lifted the receiver back up. "Sorry about that, Jim. I just got some good news. We can go with the 'poetic justice' angle. That's right. I mean, the man was sentenced to be executed, right?"
    The judge continued, and he knew that he could sell this to even the bleeding-hearts that hated the show. Maybe he could get that steak after all.
















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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by TheAllenPoe in portal Fiction

Angels In The Attic

This house was built of elements,

That settled heavens score,

Now there's angels in the attic,

And there's devils neath the floor.

And with every unseen hour,

Is a tear shed once before,

As of every waking midnight,

Cries the spirits at the door.

Oh What wicked could befall us,

That the board these walls so bore,

Bleeds of sins so ever deadly,

Washing bloodshed ore the shore.

Be there not one soul untouched enough,

Amongst both rich and poor,

To free the angels from the attic,

Now the devils hide no more.

End

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To celebrate the release of my new book, I am inviting you all to participate in a contest. The concept: Explore a person's struggle to come to terms with a strange, sinister, or surreal reality. This is a broad theme to encourage you to be as creative as you choose. Flash and full length stories welcome in horror, fantasy, surreal, or any hybrid genres. The only rule: Prose fiction only. Three winners will be chosen, who will receive 2000, 1000, or 500 coins + a signed copy of my collection.
Written by TheAllenPoe in portal Fiction
Angels In The Attic
This house was built of elements,
That settled heavens score,
Now there's angels in the attic,
And there's devils neath the floor.

And with every unseen hour,
Is a tear shed once before,
As of every waking midnight,
Cries the spirits at the door.

Oh What wicked could befall us,
That the board these walls so bore,
Bleeds of sins so ever deadly,
Washing bloodshed ore the shore.

Be there not one soul untouched enough,
Amongst both rich and poor,
To free the angels from the attic,
Now the devils hide no more.


End




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