The Truth Sayer – Very Short Story

They talked. The strangest group there ever was of four creatures of childlike stature. Their eyes wide on the man that sat across to them. Well, in reality, it was he who talked and they listened. He were their patron, showering them with words of value, of truth, which is valuable. He said many things, spellbinding things, things only he would say.  They were also words of truth for if there was one thing all four of them had learned is that he always spoke the truth. He was also the handsome sort, with a fair complexion; straight nosed, tall, and well built. The opposite of them. He was a rare breed, in these parts. Yet, with all his fairness, he hid his face under a hood. His visage always partly shaded wherever he sat or stood. One would never see his true countenance, not at once. But they, who had listened to his words of truth on many occasions were not concerned with his appearance but what he said, what he could do!

There’s a reason they believed his words and it was because he never said what he couldn’t do or show. There’s profit to be made from his words that danced from ear to ear, their grotesque deformed ears… The room was dimly lit by the hearth of the fire place and murk from pipe smoke that surrounded them in a mist. It was starting to get cold, or maybe it was his words that made them shiver, for this day he spoke of terrible things, things gruesome and void. And what we have already established, he only spoke the truth, which made it all the more terrible, terribly real!

There was a peculiar quirk about his words and that was they could never be recounted. They were words one felt. You didn’t hear them, not a singular word but the whole tale at once. It lingered and only they knew what was said. The stranger left that night, like he always did at the first howl of the night, and left the four ugly creatures to lament. They looked at each other. They knew what the other thought for they had heard the same thing, and they were friends, at least as friendly as creatures, such as them, could be. On the left end of the table, smoke rose and evaporated from the lips of one of them, the one quickest to words, and he said. “He must die.”

The others knew this as well, and nodded slowly in agreement. But the question was how and when? Next time, they agreed. The next time he came to speak, and they to listen, the stranger would die. Then how was he to die? With the means that they were able, for they were all able. Even creatures as small has them had their own ways to make problems go away…

The night came and they acted well enough, as if nothing was out of the ordinary. It was not a difficult feat for whenever they gathered they simply listened, and they listened, like always. And it was in that moment they realised: the ‘when’ and ‘how’ had been determined, but ‘why?’ Why had he to die? Like the strangers tales, it was felt, not understood, and now when they heard his words once more speak of pleasant things, their determination wavered. Why must he die? A man who made their hearts stir so? The only thing they knew was that he must. And so, as they were creatures of emotions, they struck the moment the wolf howled, breaking them from the strangers spell.

The one nearest stabbed the stranger on the side with a long nail hidden in his coat. The one on the left, furthest away, threw acid on him and the one to the right simply stayed his hand, for he was last and he saw that there was no one there. And more horrifyingly, it was not air that they smote, but themselves. Dumbfounded they looked, blood trickling from their sides, their ugly faces melting away until they were no more but one, one remaining horrified and frozen. For a full day, he waited, until there was night again, and the stranger emerged from the shadows. The stranger spoke as nothing had happened, and the creature listened and was lost in the magic that was his words. 


© Christopher Stamfors

A Tall Tale – Very Short Story

The man in front of him was the nervous sort. The sort of man that had seen things – still saw them. Someone who didn’t want to believe what they saw, for nobody else did. It wasn’t the first time Arnte had interviewed such people, in fact, he’d built a reputation on them. He didn’t really care if they told the truth because they always had good stories for him to use. He eyed the young man who looked like any other peasant boy; strong built with a bowl cut, only, his mannerism didn’t match his appearance. The young man looked nervously from side to side, his shoulders timidly raised over his ears and sipping sparsely on his beer, even though it was provided for him. Arnte licked his lips and brought out his notebook and said. “So, Herr Frans. I’m ready when you are.”

Frans gave him a quick glance then jerked his head to the right, then to the left. Arnte noticed that Frans body was never fully still, as if he was constantly shuddering. Arnte was getting impatient and he cleared his throat. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I’d like to remind you that you requested this interview. You’re wasting both our time.”

Frans suddenly heaved the contents of his drink in one great gulp and placed the mug back on the table. Arnte noticed that Frans stopped shuddering. Arnte sighed and gesture the waiter for another beer. If I’d help him talk… He thought.

Frans touched the mug and drew his finger around the edges and then lick his finger, as if to test if it was poisoned. Then said. “They are in the walls, you know, under the floorboard and even in our pockets if they want to.”

Arnte noted it down. “Who are they, exactly?”

Frans snorted. “I envy your ignorance. They might have left the consciousness for most of you, but they are still around, even if you don’t see them.”

Arnte raised an eyebrow. He was well spoken despite looking like a peasant. He noted that down too. “Can you tell me what they look like?”

Frans took another greedy gulp of the beer and his shoulders slowly slumped back below his ears. “Unfortunately, it would be pointless to describe them since they have no form. They appear differently from person to person, they change shape, and even then, they don’t like to be seen.”

“Have you ever seen one?”

Frans glowered at him. “I see one right now. In the crack on the wall there. Ah! too late, it’s gone.”

Arnte crinkled his lips. This was a mistake, he thought, and reached for the tab when Frans stopped him. “Look, you can’t see them unless they allow themselves to be seen.”

Arnte leaned back against his chair. “What makes you so special, then?”

Frans eyed his empty glass and Arnte called for the waiter, reluctantly.   

Frans licked his lips. “Special is not the word that I would use. They keep me reminded that they are always watching… Where I come from, they are normal. It’s a place where few outsiders visit, or leave for that matter… You remember the tales of elves and trolls from your childhood, surely your parents must have told them to you?”

Arnte nodded.

“Well, my village, is where it all began, the origin of these creatures in our world. It is where they like to be, nowadays, now that men are everywhere. Even on the tallest mountains and the deepest forests they cannot be alone, which is what they want in the end… Alone I mean.”

Arnte wasn’t sure what to make of all of this but was intrigued. “Then why did you leave?”

“Look, there are some nice creatures, I’ll admit. And I suppose I could’ve gotten used to the terrors at night once in a while; things disappearing and having to be extra polite to a certain stub near my house; however, I could never get used to the whispers. That was the worst of it. I never understood how the others managed. Perhaps I was just weak like that, perhaps their zealously towards her shields them somehow. Yet, I cannot put my faith in her. I know what she is. How the others didn’t run away with me is a mystery.”

“Where is this place, exactly? What is it called?”

Frans eyes grew wider. “What would you do if I told you?”

“To verify your story, of course.”

Frans started laughing and rose from his seat. “How can you do that if you haven’t even listened to a single word I’ve said?” He finished his beer. “Thanks for the drinks,” he said and walked away.

Arnte scratched his nose and looked as he walked away. He read his notes again and crossed them over with his pen. A bust then… he thought. He paid for the drinks and was about to leave when he turned and peered at the crack in the wall which Frans had alluded before. There was nothing in it and he sighed and looked down at his notes again. His eyes flashed as images popped into his mind and he began to furiously write down his thoughts. It was almost morning before he finally put down his pen. 

They had appeared to him.


© Christopher Stamfors

Liquid Soul – Very Short Story

A boy wandered upon an empty road in the middle of the night. The air was cool and fresh and the leaves were turning yellow. After a couple of miles, he turned left into the thicket and went along an old path that had almost disappeared in the undergrowth. After some minutes, he came upon an open field. It was hilly and difficult to grow anything, thus it was abandoned for other, more dreary, purposes. He glanced by his feet and looked with a blank expression upon a wooden cross impaled in the ground. It was half decayed and tilting, yet he could still read the markings on the wood. “Gyordic was favoured by the gods and his life was a happy one.”

The boy smiled ruefully and continued on his path up one of the hills that overlooked the small valley. There were thousands of such crosses scattered across the field. And there were even more of them over the hills which he could not see. He sat on a rock, made himself comfortable, and stared blearily out on the view. His mind was empty, his life void of any great dramas or concerns. His life was simple and he took joy from simple things. He considered himself blessed to be able to take these strolls, while so many others could not. No, they were in no position to move at all.

The wind that had coursed through the leaves had become still and everything was quiet. He heard two dogs bark in the distance, but their howls soon died and the night was still once more.

A yawn escaped him.

Then, suddenly, there was a flash between the trees. It grew slowly, steadily becoming brighter until it shot into the air, almost as if a drop of water falling in reverse. The soul was much like water, he thought, and the light in his eyes became more lively, more awake. He now looked attentively across the sea of graves, hoping to spot another soul being released onto the heavens.


© Christopher Stamfors

The Darkness that Remain – Very Short Story

Deep in the dark there lay a man. This man has no name, indeed, no memory of his past. He simply is, peering and listening to whatever catches him, for the darkness is always there, like a weight that keeps him from moving. Many years ago, this his man came upon his resting spot, silent and confused. Sometimes he makes noises, sometimes he gets replies, but the voices are low, and broken, but they are words nonetheless.

Different voices comes and goes. Once, he spoke for a very long time to a man, or a woman, he couldn’t tell. The person said that they wanted to be touched, to feel the warmth of skin. He, who did not otherwise move, lifted his arm to reach around them, but there was nothing to feel, not even cold.

The voice disappeared like all the others, eventually, leaving him to be the only constant in this strange world of voices. One day, when he cast his voice out into the dark for anyone to hear, a woman’s voice responded. He knew it was a woman’s voice because it was even lower than the rest, barely a whisper. The voice said that all she wanted was to be heard, and he listened, very well so, for her voice was soothing. Suddenly, things seemed almost well in the land of the voices and his heart began to stir, a single beat of blood coursed through him and when the voice stopped, she was gone.

But she had left something with him, for he now felt cold, in place of nothing. He felt he could move a little, but not by much. Even so, when the next voice came and disappeared, he could move a little more, and even more still, and when he finally stood, he too was gone.

And there was nothing that indicated that he had ever been anything but the darkness that remains.


© Christopher Stamfors

Art by ChrisCold

Upon the Sky – Poem

Upon the sky I put my gaze

A new light, 

beside the sun,

had entered the frame

*

Upon the sky I put my gaze

Still shining brightly,

What could it be?

It’s a thing of beauty

Lets watch it with glee

*

Upon the sky I put my gaze

Two stars now shine upon our gates 

Where did it come from?

Where is it going?

It shine so brightly,

in things unknowing…

*

Upon the sky I put my gaze

My eye they burn without shades

The land is dulled,

Nothing is green

It is so hot I cannot breath

*

Upon the sky I put my gaze

My hallow skull is the only shade

The light shine so brightly,

What do you know

Has the world been swallowed up?

Has the world become a stove?

*

Upon the sky my eyes remain

The sky is brightness

It is it’s domain…


© Christopher Stamfors

If you like this one, please check out Ghostly Creed.

To Hunt a Demon – Very Short Story

The wind rose to a storm. Rain drummed on his armour, soaking the clothes underneath. His eyes were heavy, and his body sluggish, as they walked on the paved dark, street. They had been up for many hours that night. They had trained for the danger they sought, the enemy that always lurked in the slums. He recalled the time of his boyhood when screams of anguish echoed through the night. Nobody would come to save them then. He thanked the stars when he proved himself and was able to join the army, only to curse them again when he realised which unit he’d end up with… The beast was rare outside the slums and he had prayed, morbidly, that it would stay there within his lifetime.

He spat on the ground and clutched his halberd tightly, determined to survive the night. 

Their unit was split into groups of four; too few for what they were hunting, he thought, but he had no say in the matter and followed his captain away from the others. At least he felt a bit safer when they were forced into a line on the narrow alley. He was at the centre with one man behind him and two in front.

He glanced up at the dark windows. Nobody would be out this night, not until their job was done. Earlier they had been surprised by a cat that had sprung from the shadows. They had to kill the poor thing, their nerves on edge. They reached the end of the alley and they stopped. Street Light shone in the distance but they did not look directly at it to preserve their poor night vision. The beast could not be heard or smelled, and when it was seen it was often too late.

It boggled his mind that man had made it this far into creation with their poor senses. Perhaps they really were protected by God? He said a short prayer beneath his breath that he recalled from childhood. He thanked his grandmother for teaching it. After some hesitation, the squad leader stepped into the open and left the alley. He had barely gone a few feet out into the open before he was flung away, his body arching through the air. It took a moment before he crashed loudly in the dark somewhere, his armour hitting the pavement. The light turned suddenly dark and the men screamed; some in defiance, others in fear. He was silent. Weapons were drawn and swung wildly. He felt himself being struck over his shoulder, then on his back. His knees buckled from the pain until he felt a force on his head and everything went black.

He awoke many hours later with a throbbing head. It was daytime and people murmured from the windows, keeping their distance. Around him, the mangled bodies of his comrades lay scattered. He slid in the blood as he tried to stand. When the people saw that he was alive, they swarmed on him, knives high. Everyone knew what happened to survivors after the beast’s attack.


© Christopher Stamfors

Deathly Glare – Poem

My sight of deathly glare,

that drains away that which makes you sane.

Only at nothingness may my eyes peer,

and as such,

my curse be sealed.


© Christopher Stamfors

Curious Gaze – Very Short Story

In the woods, along the river Great, there was a cottage far from any other homes. The forest was dark, with deep chasms and gnarly roots growing in a patchwork of threads, and nobody would set foot in these parts. Yet there the cottage lay, lonely from any curious gaze; which was how they liked it. In this home, there lived three witches, and their powers were only rivalled by themselves, for they had passion in what they did – to outdo the other – and surely, there was none more passionate than they.

They knew secrets about the world (and others yet conceived by any other) and they loved to outdo one another in their spells. Puffs of green and red would spark in the night, for nighttime was the only time for magic, they often said. At day, the world was as it has always been – it is what we all see. But at night, it is different, and many secrets can be found where normal people don’t look. And normal, they were not, at least not in the eyes of one man; a straggler that had wandered poorly, taking paths he thought he knew – moving against common sense towards the witches hut.

At first, the puffs of colours had sparked his amaze! And without knowing its source and intent, all he saw was the beauty that was manifested. But as he got closer, seeing now the cottage in its dilapidated glory, shabby, and part of nature, he heard the cackles of the three witches as they congratulated one another on another successful spell. But their congrats were only half sincere, for they were proud beings and they would do better than the other and show who had the greatest powers. Though his heart new the voice only spelt trouble, he moved forward for he had not listened to his senses from the very beginning, why start now? It was not hard to get closer unnoticed, for though the witches were powerful, they were not without fault. They did not expect any strangers to brave their forest, much less approach, thus they expected none.

The man, now trembling, peeked through the glassless window, showing as little of his face as he could, and gazed only with one curious eye. The inside was as dark as the forest, but every now and again, when puffs of colours engulfed the room, he could make out what the witches looked like. At first, he had a clear picture of their countenances, resembling more that of a rat and hog than a human being. But in other moments, and between spells, their faces were different and they laughed in their cackling ways as they outdid one another.

“Good, good,” one of them said, only immediately to supersede the other by a motion of her hand and a few choice words. PUFF! The colours sparked, and their faces were different anew. Indeed, the entire inside was not as it were before, but a burning landscape of charcoal trees and panicked animals skittering! The witches laughed and peered at their making, delighted in what they saw. But the man who had seen all of it, his nerves finally broke and he sent out a shriek as if his very flesh was burning of his bones. But as he lost his grip on the wooden frame, he landed in the grass and felt the cool wind blow against his face. The cottage was again lifeless and part of nature. But it was also silent, as if though none was ever there.

Indeed it might as well be, for the man did not recall what he had seen. He tried hard to recollect but as he came out blank, he began to wander home, whichever way he thought was right. But within just a few steps, he crashed into a tree on the left part of his face. He was baffled, how had he missed the giant tree? He felt upon his left eye, the very same he had spied upon the witches, to only find a hollow where the eye should have been. A spark of pain shot through him, for though his mind was lacking, his body recalled, and he listened for once to his senses and ran as fast, and as far away as he could, leaving once more the witches to practice their craft without any curious gaze. 


© Christopher Stamfors

Artwork by ChrisCold

Where’s the Light? – Poem

So the light had vanished,

and nothing could be seen.

What was left of the world we knew?

Where could it be?

We search the land,

the ocean and the sky.

Perhaps it was all our imagination,

written down and succumbed to our mind.


© Christopher Stamfors

Tools of Escape – Very Short Story

I try not to look at their faces as they gathered around me. It was difficult to imagine that they once were living people with fire in their souls. Now their eyes were vacant and could fixate on nothing anymore. Their skin was white as snow… They were most certainly dead. I question, at times, whether they had once been alive at all; whether they were born soulless. But these are just thoughts to ease my mind – makes it easier to look at them, to use them.

The device was strange. I found it along my route and it was a headgear that made ‘my’ movement ‘theirs.’ They mimic it exactly. I will not lie, I had sacrificed more than a few. I had crushed them because of my mistakes; tumbled them into the abyss and burned them into cinder; all for the goal of my escape.

I do not believe they are capable of drowning…

Those unscathed will stay here, frozen, until a new master arrives, or, more likely, until the end of time. I’m not even sure why I struggle. Where am I going? What hope is there for me beyond?

Survival is all on my mind. I won’t give up. I will die before they catch me.


© Christopher Stamfors

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