Four Words

OK, so this (very) short story is dark. Some would say it doesn’t even qualify as a story. But hey, it has a beginning, middle and end, and that’s good enough for me.

I wrote this at a very dark time in my life. If you’ve been there, you’ll understand. If you haven’t maybe this will give you a glimpse….

 

Four Words

“How are you today?” she asks.

The words fly through the distance separating them, like a vulture’s beak seeking putrid flesh to satisfy its hunger.

And within….

The scream echoes, everywhere and nowhere, its owner lost in dark obscurity: running without feet, hyperventilating without lungs; blindly seeking an escape from a torment that possesses neither form nor space.

The relentless pursuers grasp with chains, unfailing in their efforts to capture not hands and feet, but rather guts and chest. Metallic bands tighten in vice-like grip, wrenching all hope from his soul. Only despair is left untouched, permitted to sing of extinction’s allure.

A melody of horror – sounds so sweet to gods of pain – sends evil tendrils through heart and mind. Like sirens sent from eternity’s black fires they coalesce and then capture him, merciless as they feed off his unending anguish.

They taunt him, laughing.

You’ll die like this, they call.

Will that end it?

For death might not offer relief. What if his spirit lived on, a mortal demise securing nothing but unending despair?

Briefly he rages against his tormentors, streams of his fury lashing in every direction. But the succubae of his soul inhale deeply, his anger’s substance offering fuel to their ruinous power.

Their mockery transforms his tirades into howls. As devils are empowered by the fists of his mind, so heaven becomes his target. Maybe angels will heed if demons will not. But heaven’s silence matches hell’s noise, his wails only amplifying the sounds of the fiery pit that is his home.

Sapped of soul’s energy, he finally succumbs. Like evil sprites his tormentors leap to his shoulders, from where they may evermore feed him destructive lies… or truths.

But all this must remain hidden.

And so, smiling he replies, “I’m fine, thank you.”

 

© Copyright Jeffrey Collyer, 2015

Short Story: Shadow’s Poison

I’ve taken a short break from my novels. I’m partway through going through the edits for my fantasy book Dreams and Shadows, and about 40,000 words into Book 2 (tentatively named Woven Peril). There are parts of Aylosia’s history that won’t get explored in my novels, though, and I thought it would be fun to explore a little how some of the creatures came into existence.

This short story looks at the creation of the Chet’tu; a species of wild canine. (It’s had no professional editing, so apologies if there are typos I’ve missed – rest assured my novels are getting the professional treatment.) There are glimpses in this short story to more than just the Chet’tu in the main novels, and there’s more to the Chet’tu back-ground of course, but that may be for another day….

 


 

 

Shadow’s Poison

A short story set in the land of Aylosia

 

“Fools see only sunshine.” The words hissed from between his lips; cracked from countless ages in the toxic air that permeated the deepest reaches of the earth. Immortality granted his body only infinite life, not complete immunity from the poisonous effects of his habitation.

“But, Sire, the mirror. The clouds are banished. No darkness descends from the sky to dampen the hearts of men.” Kai knew he was treading on dangerous ground. His master, Hasa, was in no mood to be challenged. If he said that the smiles that fell from the faces of the humans far above them betrayed their foolishness, then such was the case regardless of whether Kai was able to sense it.

But he had walked such a treacherous path before. He had learned it was all in the tone. If his words sounded as if they disagreed with Hasa, then life would be quickly ended, or worse – for things far worse than death existed here. But if his voice achieved just the right inflection, the same words could portray self-awareness of his ignorance; a recognition that his Master was nigh omniscient. Hasa would feed off that, and would teach him of his dark ways.

Hasa knew that his First Servant played his words to ingratiate him, of course. He both loved and despised Kai for it, but mostly he tolerated it. Kai’s desire for power had made him thoroughly loyal, for there was nowhere else he would learn of the ways to seize a soul. And his desire was, for the most part, matched by his talents: naturally gifted in all of the ways of destruction. Most of those who braved the dark caverns seeking his knowledge had proficiency at only one of the methods he used; but not Kai.

No, he had mastered all the arts he had been taught.

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Short Story: The Gloston

My children’s Primary School asked parents to write a 500 word story, and I decided I probably ought to submit something.  Looking around for some quick inspiration I remembered that the day before I had set a fire in our fireplace to ward off the cold from our sub-zero temperatures outside.  And as I pondered, an idea formed…

 

The Gloston

The air was perfectly still. The silence so complete that it could almost be touched. You might think that it is impossible to touch silence, but not for the Gloston. The Gloston could reach out without reaching; touch all within the small room in which it lay without anyone consciously realising.

Cat in front of fire
But now there was little to touch. The family who lived here had departed from the room shortly before, extinguishing the bright balls of glass that gave the light they seemed to crave. Now the only illumination in the room came from the small Gloston itself, along with a handful of its companions; their soft orange glow radiating gently, carrying an ebbing warmth. The only creature it could touch was one with long honey-coloured fur that lay stretched nearby; the dark tips of its ears occasionally twitching as if to shake off imaginary fingers.   The strange being gave the appearance of being in bliss, soaking the warmth that was offered it in comfortable joy; and the Gloston smiled to itself, knowing that even now in the dark hours of the night its gifts were still being gratefully received.

The Gloston itself was just beginning to tire, and it warmly remembered its awakening a few hours before. It distantly remembered lying in cold slumber; a slumber than had lasted an eternity or more. Then… oh, then there had been a tickle. Not a tickle that makes you squirm, or laugh, or seek escape. Rather, it was a gentle tickle that carefully coaxes; that leads you willingly to seek a firmer touch.

As its awareness had grown, the Gloston realised that the tickle was coming from small flames that were dancing here and there; occasionally leaping to share their bright energy with their surroundings. The fiery tendrils were coming from rolled up pieces of paper, from small twigs, and soon from larger pieces of wood. And all the while the small Gloston watched the burning objects consume themselves in happy play. You see, the Gloston must lie in the warmth for longer before it is able to emit its own flames; but when it finally decides to release its inner warmth to the world, its glow is more enduring; its heat able to touch more hands and cheeks than its more combustible neighbours.

And so it was that when the Gloston was fully awake, it welcomed the flames that had skirted it, and made them its own. It remembered exulting in its power to shoot flame high above itself; recalled the wide eyes of the children that watched it, their voices cry, “Mummy, look how high it goes!” Even now such memories made the small Gloston smile to itself.

It no longer had the strength to cause flames to flicker. It knew that its power was now passed; that it would soon return to a slumber from which it would not again awake. But it did not mind. The Gloston was at peace for it had given itself as it should.

 

© Copyright 2015, Jeffrey Collyer

 

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