NOW this is the Law of the Jungle — as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip; drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting, and forget not the day is for sleep.
The Jackal may follow the Tiger, but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a Hunter — go forth and get food of thine own.
Keep peace withe Lords of the Jungle — the Tiger, the Panther, and Bear.
And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair.
When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken — it may be fair words shall prevail.
When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again.
If ye kill before midnight, be silent, and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crop, and your brothers go empty away.
Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man!
If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide.
The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack. Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies.
The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf. He may do what he will;
But, till he has given permission, the Pack may not eat of that Kill.
Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling. From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same.
Lair-Right is the right of the Mother. From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter, and none may deny her the same.
Cave-Right is the right of the Father — to hunt by himself for his own:
He is freed of all calls to the Pack; he is judged by the Council alone.
Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open, the word of your Head Wolf is Law.
Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is — Obey!
I think I’ll go ahead and read the Jungle Book now…
A tall man goes to a bar where he orders a beer. When he’s about to take the first sip, another man storms in and cries. “Sir, I believe that’s mine!”
So bewildered was the tall man that he halts the mug at his lips and is soon snatched from his hand entirely.
The other man gulps up the beer in one heave and lets the empty mug rest beside its previous owner.
The tall man opens his mouth to say something, then shuts it, then opens it again, before he closes it for a while longer.
Should he be mad? Undoubtedly, but what if it indeed was the other man’s beer? How unlikely it may be… He decides to let the matter rest and instead, after collecting himself, ask. “Was it any good?”
The other man turns and says. “Best I ever had.”
“Because it was yours.”
The tall man gawks and without trying to make sense of it all, he ask. “I’m sorry, do we know each other?”
“No, but you will, soon enough.”
Before the tall man could say anything, he watches the other man leave, and without any reason to do so, he follows him out the bar and to a dark alley. Not many people was out at this hour, mostly because of the drizzle and the autumn chill, but he continued on. At around the around a corner, the other man disappears into a one way street. The tall man hesitates and looks into the dark alley, wondering why he was following this man?Maybe it was all just a trick to get him alone to be mugged, or worse? But as he stood there, he was compelled forward, too curious to how this story would end, even at the cost of his own safety.
It was the last time our hero ever set foot upon this earth.
© Christopher Stamfors
I’m sorry for being away for so long, (if anyone indeed cares) but the novel I’m working on is taking up all of my time. It is my very first novel size project and I find that I’m doing so many mistakes but it is, nonetheless, a learning experience!
I’m going on a conference in Stockholm in April where I’ll have my first five pages evaluated and I’ve entered part of the introductory chapter to a contest, so I only think it’s fair that you atleast get to read the prologue of my fruits work.
Across the field of golden wheat, a woman walked a path separating the land of her neighbour from her own. Her heart was heavy as she lumbered towards the end of the meadow and at the edge of the forest. She stared into the woods where no light reached, where the trees grew dense and the branches curled into each other. And for a moment, she stood there, listening, hesitating. She heard voices calling in the distance, from the glades to the east and the rapids to the west, and even back at the village to the south.
“Johan… Johan!” They called.
She quirked her mouth, knowing that their calls were in vain for she knew there could be only one place her boy had headed. How many times hadn’t she told Johan to avoid these woods? Too many, and that may be why he’d felt enticed to go there. A flash of guilt washed over her, making her groan from the possibility that it was her own fault her son was gone. But she soon straightened her back and stared into the blackness, steeling herself for what she might face.
She swallowed and stepped into the woods.
The further she went, the darker it became, until the light at her back utterly vanished and there was only her and the forest. If she hadn’t known that she was but a few paces in, she might have assumed she was miles away from the meadow. Now a fair distance inside, as far as she was comfortable going, she drew breath and called for her son. But her voice came out weakly, and she tried again, and again, each time louder than the next.
But there was no telling how far her voice would travel in the densely grown woods and after a while, with no response, she perked her ears and listened. Then, she heard a twig break, leaves rustling, and she froze as whatever was out there, came closer. Cold sweat trickled down her back and she glanced behind and considered running away. But she was already determined to face what was out there, and she stayed her ground.
With her hands trembling, and a scream ready to be shout, she only managed a small whimper as a boy emerged from the leaves. She fell backwards, her heart racing, and the boy, never acknowledging her, walked passed without stopping. She stared wide-eyed as the boy disappeared once more into the darkness, and as she collected herself, she whispered. “Johan?”
Then she stood, and hurried after him, catching him in her arms. It was her boy, wasn’t it? But his body, it was stiff and his eyes were wide and vacant. As she clung to him, his body slowly became limp and warmth returned to his gaze.
The streets were empty as she and her husband hugged the wall of their house, seeing but a few faint lights from windows further down the road. Scanning the street for any movement, she corrected her grasp on her boy that slept in her arms and then looked at her husband. He nodded and they hurried out of sight. There was no road where they were heading, none that had been used in ages, for the path was one that only desperate people took.
“Are you sure this is for the best?” Her husband said, now a fair distance from the village.
“It’s the only way,” she said, looking at the boy who slept soundly. “I won’t let it have him, not now, not ever.”
Her husband nodded softly and placed his arm around her. They walked leisurely down the path until they came upon rubble of bricks and mouldy wood. They walked around it and treaded as quietly as they could. She saw her husband glance nervously round the ruins of the ancient town which normal people avoided. She stopped at a tower that stood tall with the full moon partly covered behind it.
Her husband tried to enter first but she stood in his way.
“They’ll only listen to me,” she said.
He gave a worried look. “Let me at least carry him up the stairs.”
She smiled and kissed him on the mouth and headed into the tower before he had time to protest. The tower smelt musky with age and each step creaked dangerously as she ascended alone to the top. She took every step with care, feeling the wood before putting her whole weight on it. On the top, the moon shone through the glassless window that peered over the landscape. A box rested near the window and she laid her boy softly beside it. She closed her eyes and whispered. “Jerros, Farie; Jerros Farie,” repeatedly.
After a while, a presence was known to her and she listened.
She chose her words carefully as her lips moved but her voice was silent, and then, she rose; carrying her son back down the tower where her husband waited.
It was the crack of dawn and she handed the boy back to him.
She did not return with them.
© Christopher Stamfors
His breath was heavy as Karl stumbled down a hill, with branches whipping his face through the thicket. Hoarse voices echoed his surroundings and men rushed down beside him. Karl grit his teeth as blood trickled from a gash on his forehead into his eye, turning the world red around him. But he carried on, even as men without breath fell along the way. At the base of the hill, the reached the banks of a river and Karl fell on his knees in the soft sand and wheezed. For a moment, there was nothing but him and the roaring river. But the serenity faded as battered men stormed out of the woods and feel to their knees in the sand.
Karl rubbed the blood off his face with his sleeve and the gash stung painfully. Other pains (wounds he’d not noticed) surged as his body rested and exhaustion crept over him. Karl looked at the men around him, recognising nobody.
None of his friends had survived…
Embers float near their faces and Karl jerked his head around and stared at the raging fire that burned their homes up on the hill. A tear tricked and he shivered; the man next to him cursed into the air, another stared blankly at nothing – their grief expressed in a multitude of ways.
Then, somebody shouted.
“For the Turda!”
Then there was a gurgle and blood coursing over the man’s chest that puddled the sand. The men looked at each other with hard expressions. No words were uttered, and they drew their knives, placing the egg of the blade at their throats.
Death on our own terms, Karl thought, and did the same with a trembling hand. He fumbled with it, and as the roars of the fire and the coursing of the river drowned every other noise, men on horses burst out of the thicket, trampling a man next to him. One of the men, furthest from the woods, stood and roared, bolting towards one of the riders. With an inch to spare, he dodged the blade that came for his head and he dragged the rider off his horse. They both fell on the sand, and he pierced the gap in the armour of their enemy, mercilessly stabbing until he was decapitated by another rider. All this, Karl saw as he huddled near the woods, unseen.
One after the other, his comrades fell while they downed more than a few of the riders in the process. But Karl could not move, seeing the madness of death anew, he wanted to live. He looked to the river, and without hesitation, he threw himself into the water. He sank quickly and he reached desperately around himself to remove his chest armour, but it was no use. Death drew nearer and he stared up at the surface. Bodies sank around him with the fire in the background, turning the night into orange. Blood trailed as his comrades sank to the bottom – their eyes wide and fiery.
He would not be able to face them in the underworld.
© Christopher Stamfors
Featured image by ChrisCold
Madness is simply the description given to those that refuse to be a product of their time; to think boldly and to dream of things yet existing. This sort of madness can occur at anytime, almost always in quiet contemplation, for only alone, (and at a distance) can we look upon the world with sober eyes.
As I sit here in my elder years I cannot help but reflect on my life. I was a curious child. I saw things that got me into a lot of trouble, beatings, and even visits to the doctor a few times, before I learned what is and isn’t there in this world. It was difficult, at first, to not notice the strange lights whisking, the creatures scurrying, and the voices whispering; but as I forced myself to ignore them, they ignored me…
I had to constantly question my reality as I grew up and needed to be careful what I said and did. And though my strange sightings were completely gone around my 18th birthday, I did not fully trust what I saw and I became a nervous adult. I was easily startled and was unsuited for must work, and eventually, the stress got the better of me and I had a nervous breakdown. I was taken to a doctor that advised me to spend time out on the country every so often, as the fresh air would rejuvenate me. I cherished the idea and I spent every weekend from then on, on the Lonely Hills, a few miles north of town.
It was a special place, rich of lore and with a significance to my people. Stories of our struggle for independence and the very origin of our kind, with gods and everything. Unfortunately, there had been a lot of logging over the years and large swaths of the forest was now gone because of the industrial influence from the very people my ancestors fought to keep away. Though, despite its barren appearance, it still retains its magic – at least to me.
I liked it so much that I was miserable whenever I had to go back to town, and after many years, I’d seen everything on those hills… Or so I thought.
War is never ending, always looming. You can never let your guard down, even when things seem the brightest, for this world will take more than it offers.
I lived in a small town out on the country, far away from the struggles of power and ideologies; things that I, nor anyone else in my village, could care less about. Even so, war found its way to us. I didn’t understand how it came about, at the time, why those horrible men did what they did, why they just couldn’t leave us alone. But now I understand that they were a product of their time, a time of chaos and unrest. Even to this day, I don’t fully understand how the Order came to an end; giving up the power to the strong rather than the just.
Shortly after the fall of the Order, a Warlord came to our remote village, whose name I’ve forgotten. He was like any other marauder, oppressive and ruthless. Though, later in life, I’ve heard he was far from the worst… We weren’t treated as badly as could have been, I’ll admit, as we had two (disgusting) meals a day and was allowed a few leisurely hours to tend to our own. But in the end, we were slaves and we were expendable.
My father died before the unrest, leaving me and my mother to fend for ourselves. She died shortly after the occupation, however. Before her death, she’d all but given up as the light from her eyes slowly faded, leaving only a husk and an empty expression. I haven’t forgiven her, to this day, for leaving a young girl to the cruelties of the world. Fortunately, I was not like my mother and vowed to escape. I had to simply wait and let opportunity present itself.
Several weeks later, it happened.
I know it’s a strange thing to say coming from someone who prides himself for his imagination, but to speculate how technology will evolve over time is an impossibility, at least, in any original way. There’s going to be more sophisticated robots, for sure; there’s going to be holodecks, i.e. Star Trek – but those aren’t my ideas.
I don’t even think I can write a science-fantasy because the limitation in imagining something that seems plausible and would make sense. I’d rather imagine implausible things that make sense, if that makes sense?
What I mean is: it is implausible in our reality but makes sense in the one I created.
Post-apocalyptic worlds is a different matter, because they use technology that has already been, at least, they would be in my stories…
I came to this realisation after finishing the draft for my novel, which was going to be a sci-fi. But, the tech I envisioned was so outlandish that it might as well be magic. You know, something that doesn’t seem like tech but does things nobody understands.
Luckily, the transition between sci-fi and fantasy will be easy because of this. I’ll just have to revamp the backstory a bit to make it more appropriate for the theme.
Anyway, this is what I’ve been up to and I just figured I’d share my process.
Oh, also, I hope you have a great New Years and may you have a wonderful 2018!
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. In the darkness I hear the walls whisper my name; water drip upon the floor, having coursed its way through the age-old walls. I kneel before the damp stones and taste the outside. It has a hint of moss and fungi flavour – the taste of home.
I am not bound by my limbs and can move freely within these room. Though my world is small, there’s a larger one within those walls that enclose me. I can hear them as I press my ear against it, the scurrying and the skittering. I moan when they do, wishing to be heard, but a response never comes. At least hearing my own voice is a reminder that I exist.
On rare occasions, the door opens and forth come men with heavy steps. There is no light on their presence for they know of my power; even so, I can hear their nervous breathing for I am one with the darkness.
They move clumsily within my domain and I encroach upon them, almost touching them, then I exhale my cold breath in one ear and then the next. They start and give off a shrivelled shriek, a short and manly one, but a shriek nonetheless. I picture their faces twisted in anger… the only warmth I ever receive.
The door close with a great clang. Left on the floor there’s a bowl of something vile, but I do not need it. I let it rest and I retreat back to my corner, feeling the scurrying through the wall.
They emerge and feast on my bounty.
Some nibble on me, as well, but they soon give up in distaste for there’s nothing inside me worth devouring. Strangely, I do feel pain, though, it’s not a displeasing feeling, one that I cannot recreate myself… I’ve tried.
Only teeth, or sharp objects, can penetrate my skin.
Such is the life of the cursed and here I’ll linger long before the Keepers had enough of me, when the walls will crumble and I once again roam the earth, catching eyes with those around me and savour their terror.
© Christopher Stamfors
Featured image by ChrisCold