TestamentThey say that all the great stories only have one plot. The ancient tales tells of the struggle of heroes to greatness, the fall of villains. The same thing over and over, on bark or hide or clay, the fight between good and evil.
But this story begins with a simple man. Begins with, though perhaps no further, because being a simple man does not make things simple. And remember what else they say, that even the devil himself was once heaven's greatest angel.
He found it in a pawn shop. There were no horror-movie-esque histrionics, the shopkeeper warning him against it, begging him not to buy it, he just handed over a couple of notes and that was that. He was shopping for a present for his girlfriend when he found the small porcelain figurine, sitting innocuously on a dusty shelf surrounded by all other odds and ends that defied classification. It took a little frowning while he tried to work out was it was, a kind of warped angel, form twisted and blood-red wings streaming down i
The SketchHe loses his first kiss in autumn. He's twelve, she's just turned thirteen, and at the time he isn't sure what all the fuss is about but knows how special it is anyway.The Sketch1 year ago in Short Stories More Like This
She's gorgeous, pale-skin, brown hair, dark eyes always filled with happiness and joy the way he wishes he could be. She doesn't want to be there any more than he does, and they grouse to each other about how they don't need a 'special school.' It's the first time he's worked up the courage to say it.
She carries a book too, just like his sketchbook, but she says it's a diary. It's hung with a little lock on the front and he jokes about it being the key to her heart, a little boy's poor attempt at flirting but she laughs anyway. He wants to hear that laugh again, and he does, when he shyly asks if he can draw her.
It's half-way through his sketch that she leans in and presses her soft lips to his. It's a little clumsy and awkward, given how she's standing up and he's cross-legged on the ground, and nowhere as romantic l
Russian RouletteThey take her on her honeymoon.Russian Roulette1 year ago in Short Stories More Like This
The wedding was lovely, or as lovely as it could have been with a couple that were more polite acquaintances than anything else and two sets of in-laws as stuffy as a dusty pile of money. They grab her when she sneaks out for a walk one night, two men, beefy, not even bothered to arm themselves. Her last thought before the bag is shoved over her eyes is to wonder how much this would ruin her parents' plans.
She comes to in a small brick room on a sallow mattress, windowless and lit by a cool yellow lamp. There's a man there, standing just outside the barred door.
"Kelly Shale," he says, voice nasally, greasy greying hair half-covering his forehead. She's not sure if it's a question or a statement.
She counts the days by watching the guardsone on day shift, one on night. They're probably the same men who took her, but they stay too much out of her field of vision to really tell. It takes until the third day for the woman to come.
'Meil,' they call h
A Butterfly Flapping Its WingsThe letter was clutched in strong fingers which, had they belonged to a lesser man, might have been trembling.A Butterfly Flapping Its Wings2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
It wasn't happiness or elation that he felt. There was a vindication that scratched on the edges of his thoughts, but the only thing really resonating in his mind was, 'what now?' It was the first time in a long while since he had heard anything beside the scornful echoes of his father's words.
It was a dream.
Almost a decade had passed since they'd been said. He'd shyly expressed his fondness for art as a schoolboy, and his father had promptly crushed his meek hopes with an iron tongue. "Fool," he had said. "Dreamer, head in the clouds." He'd laughed then, coarse and cruel. "You'd never make it." And the next semester his star-gazer of a son had been enrolled into technical school.
It started with death.
Standing cold and numb as his father was buried, it was his mother that convinced him to apply that first time with her soft word
Across No Man's Land0900 hours, December 25Across No Man's Land3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Her name was Anna," the English soldier said, "our wedding would have been today, if I hadn't been drafted. She was always religious, said her childhood dream was to get married on Christmas."
"I had a wife," the German soldier replied in barely accented English. "Broke her heart when the conscription letter came."
It was an odd scene, this was, two people who had previously been trying to kill each other, talking now like old mates.
1200 hours, December 25
"I get letters from my mother every few weeks, she just can't seem to stop worrying."
"Me too, and my son as well. Always warning his daddy not to get hurt."
Odd indeed, but today it was a scene that was being replicated all along the Western Front, enemies brought together by the day of our Lord.
1500 hours, December 25
"Could I join you for lunch? Our next shipment of rations hasn't come in yet."
Men who had been fighting so brutally the day before, laying down their wea
The PianistA warm, lilting melody wafted through the nightclub, nimble fingers dancing over crisp black and white keys as the song of the grand piano drifted down from the stage, filtering between the irregularly spaced tables to fill every niche and recess of the dimly lit room. The lone figure in the spotlight moved gently with the music, her long chestnut hair billowing down her back in loose waves and her wine red dress fanning out around her knees as she sat on the worn leather stool. It was not a complex song she played, with no difficult notes or intricate rhythms, but there was something about it that was so enthralling, so entrancing, as if each sound touched you, clung to you, whispered to you.The Pianist3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
As the tune swelled, as the notes danced, and as music came alive beneath her fingers, the pianist began to remember.
She met him at a cheap, backwater club on a cool autumn evening while playing yet another of those low paid unambitious jobs that she hated but needed to make ends meet. While
Second Street El stands under muted chrome lights, legs splayed apart and left hip cocked out like the jagged end of a lipstick smear. The soft undercurrent of voices drifts from the club crowd up to the stage, quiet murmured conversations below the chink of glasses and clicks of the mike stand slotting into place. If she listens close enough she can almost hear the bare echoes of a young man's laugh, a woman's soft tinkling sigh, the swell of a family's conversation.Second Street1 year ago in Short Stories More Like This
"All ready," the man before her grunts around the toothpick hanging out the corner of his sun-cracked mouth. El reaches a hand over to tug at the length of color-faded silk knotted around her left wrist, stepping forward to take the place he vacates. The same hand rises to wrap around the cold silver shaft, glossed lips parting as she ghosts them towards the microphone.
The crowd has dropped in volume, calm falling over the haphazardly arranged three-legged stools and half-rickety tables. It's a quiet she's felt
One More Drink"You want to get a drink?"One More Drink3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Six words. Six little words casually spoken by an innocent man without any idea of their implications.
"You want to get a drink?"
It was only a reunion with an old friend; it was not supposed to become a battlefield. One moment I'm strolling down the street chatting light-heartedly with a mate from school, the next my world is threatening to crash down around me.
"You want to get a drink?"
To him it may mean nothing but a simple boy's night out, but to me it means much, much more.
"You want to get a drink?"
Anxiety, depression, obsession, not caring what I did, who I hurt, how much I lost as long it got me a pint. Bystanders attacked and robbed when cash ran low, barmen beaten and stabbed after refusing to give any more, and every last cent, possession, and shred of dignity sacrificed.
"You want to get a drink?"
Often I woke in pain, sometimes in strange places with no memory of how I got there, sometimes in
Breaking Fall The morning rain fell around me, shining slightly in the light of the small sliver of sun that was beginning to peer over from the East. The movie set I was shooting on was located on a picturesque stretch of grassland, which would have appeared like a Garden if Eden of sorts if it wasn't for the plumes of dark grey city-smoke on the horizon. The cross-country train station was completely deserted. Perfect. There was no one to see me, no one to find me, no one to recognise me...Breaking Fall4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Mr Parker, Mr Parker!" came the shrill cries of the paparazzi as the world famous movie star fought his way from the set back to his trailer. "Could you answer a few questions?" He ignored the onslaught and pushed his way past the hordes of fans, journalists, and magazine photographers. He didn't need this, not now. He had just received the worst phone call of his life and they wanted him to interrogate him about it? "Will you give us a quote?" He
MilagroShe lay on the narrow bed, connected to an almost frightening array of tubes, needles, and drips. Snatches of conversation flitted in and out of her awareness.Milagro4 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
" massive internal injury "
" close to death "
" no response "
" organs will fail if she does not wake soon "
She wanted to wake up. She tried so hard, but after two days of trying the small sliver of consciousness she was struggling to reach was only moving further and further away. And she was tired, so very tired.
On the fifth day she stopped fighting.
* * *
That voice. His voice.
"Evelyn, it's me, Adam."
Goodbye Adam. I'm sorry, I can't go on.
Something soft and small slipped into her hand.
"Remember the orange blossom I gave you on our wedding day? We both made promises that day. Fight this Evelyn. Wake up. Come back to me."
I can't fight anymore.
She felt something warm wrap around her fingers. Instinctively, they tightened.
"I know you can hear
I Once Was BeautifulTime, 'tis he who allows the flowers grow,I Once Was Beautiful4 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
Then throws them away as dust on the ground,
Time, 'tis he who lets beauty come and go,
When he spins and whirls the seasons around.
He changes the living things in the world,
Steals away from us our looks, our beauty,
Leaving only ancient ruins unfurled,
Though he is doing naught but his duty,
He is no villain, no not in the least,
Only he compels us to learn and grow,
With age comes wisdom, like sun in the East,
He will teach us all we will ever know.
I remember yes, remember I do,
Of a time when my mind was still young,
When I laughed and played in the water blue,
And each and everyday I danced and sung.
I do not resent that he took my youth,
Otherwise I'd be forever a child,
I'd rather be old, and know of truth,
Than live ignorant, juvenile, and wild.
But indeed, for this I have paid a price,
Now my air, my energy has faded,
But no, this exchange has no major vice,
For never will I ever feel jaded.
Now I am aged and may seem pitiful,
SliverThey say that if you stand in front of a wall of glass at exactly four minutes past midnight and tap your fingers on it three times, you can open a door to the void beyond this world. It has to be somewhere you can see your reflection, and see through it, hovering like a ghost over the darkness beyond, somewhere dim enough that you can't quite tell the difference between light and shade. And unless you hit the glass where you touched it, shatter the half-formed image before the fifth minute strikes, that door will never close.Sliver1 year ago in Short Stories More Like This
Celia Gray has never been one for urban legends. So much so, that she would never turn down a chance to prove one wrong.
The girls are in the middle of their third round of Truth Or Dare when it's brought up for the first time.
"Come on, Angie, it's almost midnight!"
"What's wrong, scared?"
"No, II just ...it's my house! I'm not smashing my balcony door."
"Jeez, guys." The five faces turn at the third voice. "We're fourteen no
Lady DeathThey think Death is the Reaper,Lady Death4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Carrying his scythe,
Able to disappear into vapour,
Like a shadow in light.
But no, Death takes the shape,
Of a person, a woman at that,
With a pitch black cloak a flowing cape,
A crucifix of coal, and grace like a cat.
On rhinestone boots she treads the land,
With midnight eyes she tracks her prey,
A spear of onyx in her hand,
Her hair of ink soaking up every sun's ray.
She dons a studded ebonite vest,
With denim of iron sitting on her hip
A blood stained cutlass at her wrist,
Rings of beryl through her lip.
Her ears are pierced with needle sharp bone,
Her eyelids smudged with ash,
Her mouth a deep, blood-red tone,
the colour of night on each eyelash.
So who is this Queen of Darkness?
Who can she be?
An answer finally comes to a question ageless.
Death, is me.
In the Shadow of the GuardAmong the many wonders that lie scattered over the length of the realm today, there is none so great as the mysterious lone tree which grows out from the middle of the Rik'yin desert. Gnarled roots and an ancient trunk that twists and twines, it reaches up from the midst of the lifeless plain towards the heavens, a towering beacon over the flat sands. There is a name for it, 'The Guardian,' an anomaly on the face of the world from a time that has passed.In the Shadow of the Guard2 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Once, so the tales tell, the land was reigned over by a great empire which stretched down from the northern Cekom mountains, past the eastern forest of Phangrul, and to sea of Cha'kyye. The emperors ruled in a golden age of unimaginable wealth and power, knowledge and culture. Generations passed in peace, son succeeding father, but those years lie forgotten in lieu of the one who broke the chain.
They called her the Warrior Daughter, the greatest glory and terror that the empire had ever known. She fought her way along the borders agai
ShellsThe fucking psyches tell him to look within and all that bloody jazz, but it's all bullshit. He's killed guys, and that's the end of it. Guys, and girls, soldiers and civilians, until the sound of gunfire drilled into his head and out the otherwise and took everything in the way with itShells1 month ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
It's like those stupid shells his mum showed him once when he was young. 'Course, he didn't think they were stupid then, but what did he know. Just a kid who had no idea what it felt like to hold a cold piece of steel in your hand that explodes in hotness and judges whoever's in front with a wham bam and kiss goodbye, say hi to God for me and give him the finger because I'm a murderer now and I guess I'll be having fun in hell thank you Uncle Sam. Sound like the sea, the story went. Like fish and sharks and shipwrecks and dumped human shit and everything, when all it really is is a couple of swirls of air and a gullible little ear.
Maybe he should just go ahead and turn himself into a shell with it's li
Witchcraft"It is rather unnatural for me to be here right now, but there are not natural times," the farmer said with a grim countenance. "I have come to you because I am going to die."Witchcraft3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
The witch leaned forward, surveying her guest. He was not unlike the other men who regularly came to her for advice, with simple clothes that were slightly torn and ragged but still adequate, tanned skin from his outdoor labour, and strong calloused hands from his work in the field. "And why do you believe that?"
"I have seen omens," the farmer replied. "My crops, you see, which I constantly tend to ensure their prosperity, that were grown on the same field that had grown many plentiful harvests in the past, have failed without reason. And last week I went down to the paddock where I keep my cows to find them all lying on the ground, strewn about, as they would have been standing before their lives were taken so suddenly and with no discernable cause. My farm is dead. And it is all in preparation for when I will
Spectrum of the TidesThe union jack flapped in the cool morning breeze as newly commissioned First Lieutenant Thomas Buckley stood on the prow of the Peracles, his pulse racing with anticipation as he watched the last sailors make their way aboard the magnificent ship. His joining of the Royal Navy had been a rather rushed affair, pushed along by a mixture of his own keenness for adventure and his father's influences among the higher powers. As the second eldest son of Lord Samuel Buckley he'd realised early in his adolescence that there would be no title or inheritance for him, but second or not he was still the child of a powerful man. His decision to enlist to serve his country had been met with great enthusiasm by his family. He had easily passed the lieutenant examination, and within a few months his father had pulled some strings and managed to bypass the requirements regarding prior experience on a ship, placing him as the First Lieutenant on one of the fleet's finest.Spectrum of the Tides3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
"Ready to sail, Mr. Buc
On the Sea Beneath the SkyGolden flickers danced on the pale faces of the circle, hushed whispers wafting out from the gathering by the glowing coals. It was the third night of the coming-of-age, the no-longer-little ones from each of the surrounding tribes taken out together in the openness of the untamed world. There were a few in the group that stood out, discernible even in the thick coverings of the night. There was Jiu-yeil, son of the carpenters, impressive form already bulging with strength and muscle more fitting of a man twice his size. The brothers, Senniare and Elieten of cloth-maker, sat donned in simple but the finest of all their travelling robes. And very slightly apart from the throng of a dozen others was the quiet Meiella, orphaned as an infant, niece of medicine woman.On the Sea Beneath the Sky1 year ago in Short Stories More Like This
The air was cool, but the wind only light. As the flames burned low, a tall figure stepped out of the shadowsOch'jiana, the leader of the rite. She was neither old nor young, hair pulled back in the habit of the femal
FearI stand, the night closing around me,Fear4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I stare into the dark whirlpool of black,
I feel the cold wind lash at my skin,
I am afraid.
Nowhere to turn,
Nowhere to go,
Lost in the woods,
Stranded in a void of nothingness.
Rustling of leaves,
Frozen I stand,
My heart racing in my chest,
The silence like a thick blanket,
There is a tap on my shoulder.
I force myself to move,
The FieldsCarl,The Fields1 year ago in Short Stories More Like This
Remember that time, brother, when we were young? When we took off before I was even though high school in your beat-up old whatever-it-was without so much as a goodbye note, dreamed of travelling the country?
There was a place we stayed at, the night before we finally gave up and turned around. It think it may be my last clear memory of you.
It was called the Beaumont Farm.
The petrol gauge has been sitting below empty for the last hour, and Carl Levine doesn't bother trying the key again when the engine splutters one last time before falling silent. He shivers in the cool air as he opens the door, pulling out his phone and cursing when he sees the reception bar empty. The last station he saw was before he turned off the highway two towns back, the last car before that.
The letter from Alicia lies folded in his inner pocket, as it had come in that innocuous envelope. There had been no return address, postmark almost illegible under a dark smudge that covered half the front
Bed Time StoryI told this story to my two-and-a-half-year-old sister tonight, and if anyone is wondering who on Earth tells stories like this, just keep in mind that young children enjoy stories of just about any subject matter, as long as it flows and contains elements they like. As for my sister, she likes the planets, bunnies, paintings, and has a habit of memorising names that she hears regularly (say, politicians perhaps).Bed Time Story3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
If you think this is ridiculous, well, just think of it as a very serious postmodern stream-of-consiousness piece.
You know how Mercury is a rocky ball? Well it's very small, so small in fact that it was carried by a bunny. The bunny and Mercury decided to journey to Saturn where they met a television who told them that a bird was going to land on Pluto. And then another bunny joined them, so the two bunnies, the television, and Mercury went to Pluto, where they found the bird that was landing and it was an eagle. They also found a Kevin Rudd Memorial Bunny and a Tony Abbott
Portrait of a SpeciesWeapons, science, technology, knowledge; for thousands of years the human race had dominated the planet. We walked the land, sailed the seas, and even travelled the skies. With our machines and our computers and our millions of databases of information, we were even almost beginning to see ourselves as all knowing.Portrait of a Species3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
We thought we could rule the universe.
In the middle of a jungle in Africa, among the lush green trees in the Middle Palaeolithic Era, the Earth changed forever. The long processes of natural selection and survival of the fittest had finally created one race fit to reign over the world: Homo Sapiens. Crude at first, just hints of what they would become, it took another hundred-and-fifty thousand years before they developed language, music, and culture. They were hunter-gatherers, dwelling in small nomadic groups around the world, and living like this for another forty thousand years until the advent of agriculture. Farming and crops led to more food, which led to perm
Date a girl who drawsDate a girl who draws.Date a girl who draws1 year ago in Short Stories More Like This
You know the one. Her bag will be filled with discarded pencils and pens, scraps of paper with mindless doodles on them and blank books sticking out of her bag. She's the one who spends an hour trying to find the perfect sketchbook, only to pick up three more because she just couldn't help herself. She's the one hunched over in the coffee shop, rain or shine, the gears in her mind turning and turning while her hands move to catch up with every idea she has. She's the one who's too focused on what she's doing that her coffee's gotten cold and the people around her peek over her shoulder but she doesn't realise.
Compliment her drawings.
Ask to see more.
Turn the pages carefully, gently. Look at how hard she pressed the pencil into the page, the failed drawings, the successful ones. Look at the careful lines, the messy ones, the ones that give the drawings life. Linger on the pages you like but don't touch the drawings. Look at them carefully. Remember them.
ForgottenPast tears, memories fading in time.Forgotten3 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
Time, in fading memories, tears past.
Happy EndingsHappy Endings Are Just Fairytales That Haven't Finished YetHappy Endings3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
They stand in the courtyard in their finery, the Prince of the land dressed in a majestic black tunic and the daughter of the kingdom's richest Lord draped in the glorious white silks of her gown. The people cheer as they walk past, throwing ribbons and flowers at the newlywed couple. The Prince basks in the attention, smiling and waving at the crowd as he leads his bride toward the castle gates.
It should be me.
It should be me at his side, wearing his ring, spending his wedding night. How many times had he told me that? How many times had he whispered words of love in my ear, telling me that I was the only woman for him, promising that we would be together forever?
And how many times had I believed him.
I should have known, I should have realised that a Prince like him would never marry a common girl like me. But I didn't. Instead, I lived thoughtlessly by his side as his mistress, his paramour, oblivious to the whisp