Stories for Samhain #6: Fate’s Warning

It is that time of the year again. Enjoy a short story in time for All Hallows’ Eve. Happy Halloween. x

Tonight, the city bathes in the light glow of stars. Long absent from the night sky, they flicker like weak bulb lights through window drapes festered by time. From the lonely hill where Emil stands, the metropolis looks miniature. It seems ideal, faultless, and even alive if he dares hope. But the guise of the urban sea is deceitful of all things.

Emil knows, because he has seen what is left back there. Roads have turned sand-yellow from neglect. A closer look will reveal crusted bits of red flesh and broken nails amidst the dust. But even without squinting, you can smell death in the air. Livestock and humans alike in death, their rot blending as one.

Rags and bones drag along the muddy grounds of where he used to have a home. Monsters stagger along abandoned streets. Bodies howl in sorrow, as their desperate spirits attempt escapes in vain. Safe at a distance, Emil can still hear the guttural screams that never fade. He can no longer tell if the cries had come from the decaying throats of the undead, or the living on the run.

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Watching The Umbrella Academy (and enjoying the heck out of it) reminded me of a short story that I once wrote on superheroes. Hope it’s halfway decent. x

Stolen from their cots in the winter of 1989, five involuntary orphans grew up knowing neither their parents nor of the world outside. Instead, they were raised by nameless Guardians in the mansion that had everything they needed. Or so they had believed.

It was true that the kids had food, warmth, shelter, and Guardians who were kind to them. They even had the occasional luxury of Sinatra records, which arrived at their doorsteps in unmarked parcels. Still, they grew up lonely in the company of each other.

None of them were close; they weren’t allowed to be. The Guardians kept them apart with rumours and half truths that made them wary. They had distinctive daily schedules too, replete with studies on more languages that they needed, complex mathematics, scientific explorations, and above all, their inborn capabilities.

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Stories for Samhain #5: The Dark of Night

The Dark of Night, an original short story to celebrate Samhain, as always. Happy Halloween to all.

At night, there exists a brief time here where impossible silence thrives. Echoes of stillness swell into a heavy mass of air, imprisoning my shallow breaths. There is a peace in that which only lasts a moment, until I start to hear the voices in my head.

In their cells, the boys pound on the sturdy bars. Against my cranial bones, their fists pummel hard and uncaring. Their persistent voices scrap against the roof of my skull like sharp, jagged nails. All four of them let out dissimilar screams, melded as one.

They are young and faceless. They never age. They scream childish, unintelligible screams, such that I wish I had been patient. Patient enough to have endured them alive for a little longer. But patience was never my strong suit.

I shout back. They do too. It never ends. Their confused thoughts are shrill and louder than mine. They pierce through my own in a blameless skull that begs to be removed. Yet there is nothing in this cavernous room that I may saw my head off with. This is my punishment due. The sanatorium made sure of it.

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City of Ghosts

Light streamed in from the windows as morning greeted. Shelly woke up to the heavy sound of silence. Grey skies in her mind played contrast to the sky blue ceiling in the room, empty save for the bed that she laid on and a vase of withered flowers. It seemed like such a long time ago, when she had last felt alive.

She tried to wrest her voice out of her dry throat. Finding no words, her soft gasp went unheard. She moved her fingers, barely, then her big toe. When she felt confident enough, she lifted herself off a sunken, stained mattress. Her bare feet touched the cold floor that was layered with dust. What happened? And how long had she slept?

She stood unsteadily, figuring out where she was. The hospital was as quiet as the deepest ends of the ocean, and equally lonely. The air smelt bad, and stale. She peered out before she stepped into the empty corridor. Her skin was drowning in sweat. Rhythmic drumming weighed upon her head, rearranging her features into a set grimace.

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Stories for Samhain #4: The Midnight Lullaby

Few things made Luciana happier than watching the world go by from her window. There, she could look down at the pavement and imagine her tiny feet upon gravel. She could watch the blue skies above turn dark as the hours passed.

On lucky days, she could even catch a glimpse of birds weaving through the fluff of clouds. More often, she peered into the her neighbour’s home, although her father forbade her to. Still, she kept watch on the house, claiming interest in the night sky.

No one knew much about the old woman who lived there. Stories have it that she never left her home, and had lived on the street longer than anyone else did. A young nurse came up to visit her three times a day – at eight in the morning, twelve in the noon, and seven in the evening.

In the hours between, the old woman had only the company of her grandson. The boy – no more than six – would sit in the old rattan chair next to her bed. Every night, she would sing him to sleep.

Luciana never knew the words to the lullaby. But she did always hear the faint hum of the mournful tune, consonant with the grim sorrow that she saw on the woman’s face. She could never forget it, she thought.

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The Lonely Hunter

Aina saw and felt nothing, as though she no longer existed. Then, everything came back to her at once. Her senses were overwhelmed. An acidic scent of smoke swam in the air, attacking her dry throat.

Where she laid, she tasted metal on her tongue and spat out blood. She wished she would have had a bottle of water on her right then. But rules were rules. Belongings of any kind were forbidden on a time trip. All precautions against paradoxes had to be strictly observed, Aina had been warned yet and again.

Black spots danced around her vision as she tried to figure out where she was. She blinked hard through sore eyes, and stumbled along the alley. Conscious of her nakedness, she peered from behind the wall. Surrounding screens lit the familiar city in shades of blue and green.

It took a while before she remembered what she was here for. This was the right place. Aina was right where she needed to be.

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