When I was a child, my friend and I would often swim in the local lake that was a fair distance from any village. It would take us over an hour to walk there, but it was worth it, for even in the hottest summer the water would be cool and refreshing. There was a reason why nobody had ever built near that lake, or made use of it in any way, and that reason begins with a tale:
Once upon a time, there was a great dragon that made this land his own. The dragon had always been here and he enjoyed the domination over the land. But for centuries, man had grown and spread across the continent, eventually coming to the dragon’s domain. The people sought the land for it was beautiful and bountiful but the dragon would have no trespassers. Among the people, there was one knowledgeable in magic, and he crafted a magical spearhead that would be able to penetrate the dragon’s scales.
But who would dare come close enough to hurl the spear at the monster? This is where the story gets muddy and there are many names for the hero that threw the magic spear. But no matter the version, the dragon was always killed. On his last breath, the dragon put a curse his own body as he crashed into the lake, making it plague ridden and putrid. Such goes the tale which all in the area takes to heart. However, the age of superstition is past us and a new era of science have begun! We knew this already as children, thus we dismissed this tale.
Alas, my friend and I grew healthy into our adult years (even though we swam in the cursed lake), and we would return upon our childhood lands, riding in what would be the ultimate proof of the change of times!
Soaring across the sky, we sailed the current with what they called a Hot Air Balloon. People gasped as we passed and we waved at them, passing many places me and friend often played. It was humbling to see the view of the lowlands which we’d grown up, a view no man had ever seen, except the dragon himself!
As we closed in on the lake, hidden in the wilderness, we saw nothing man made, only unspoiled virgin land. The water was still and dark. We were unable to see anything below the surface, and as we sailed away I saw something at the corner of my eye. There was a shimmer, not that of the sun reflecting on water, but a clear, single red glare in the darkest depths of the lake.
I stared at the light, and it seemed as if it stared back, glaring at me. Suddenly, my legs barely held me up and my mind was swirling. A voice echoed in my head. “Ye who has not suffered upon my curse shall bare witness to the folly of man.”
Then, the voice stopped and my mind became clear once more. My friend stooped over me and wondered what had happened, but I could not tell because I didn’t know myself. Had I succumbed the so called Altitude Sickness which they warned? Or had the voice really been there, warning me of a great evil set on man?
We landed in a nearby town, a few hours later. It was not my hometown, thankfully, for chaos would soon ensue. A sickness ravaged the town which forced us to flee. But even as we came to the next town over and the next after that, the disease would follow us and soon the bodies piled on each other. I didn’t want to believe it, and only when my best friend caught the ailment did I face the reality of those words the dragon had spoken.
He died shortly after.
I knew then that man cannot hope to look to the future without understanding its past, of that I am certain and living memory. I write these last words as I will end my life in the darkness of the greatest ravines and on the highest mountains, hoping that nobody will find my remains which carries the Dragon’s Curse.
© Christopher Stamfors
Art by ChrisCold
Tension was high as James and his men skulked along the undergrowth. The air was thick and hard to breathe; and they had to be careful not to sink their entire feet into the soggy earth lest their shoes would disappear into the mud. He and his unit had become lost along the offensive and all contact between them and the main force had been lost. Despite sending many scouts to find their way, nobody returned and the soldiers were getting nervous.
Talks of them being surrounded circulate among the men and nobody dared to go anywhere unless they were in sight of the others. It was pointless to send anymore to their deaths and rather than risking going even deeper into enemy territory, he decided to dig in and wait for relief. They found a hill which they fortified as well as they could, giving them view over the endless forest jungle. James wanted to scream out in frustration, but he couldn’t; he was an officer, and an officer could never complain, at least when his men saw, which was always.
The air was particularly still that night. James was used to deafening sounds of the jungle, at night; the bellowing monkeys, the shrieking birds and the endless buzzing of thousands of different insect species. They had become but a hiss in his ears, unnecessary sounds they wouldn’t aid his survival. But in their absence, there was something ghostly about the jungle. James couldn’t fully relax that night, though he heard his men snore and whisper.
Though being cautious was a virtue in war, James was but a man and he soon succumbed on the dry floor of the officer’s tent. He’d never liked beds, or anything soft, for that matter. Perhaps he’d been born a soldier, definitely not meant for modern conveniences. His eyes and ears were keen and his men depended on him, like a guard dog, which was another layer of responsibility on top of the commanding one. It was as if he was the hound and the human, at the same time.
His eyes felt heavy and he was near blissful unconsciousness, when he heard muffled voices at his ear. Are they crazy? Talking so loud on enemy turf?! But as he rose to tell his men off, the muffled voices vanished. He stared at the ground for a moment, not wanting to believe, but as his ear reached on the ground anew, he heard the muffled speech of the enemy.
And before he could shout out a warning, there was already an explosion and gunfire. Bullets whined through the tent, ricocheting on his canteen and then, a burning at his throat. James stumbled out of the tent only to fall with blood rising through his mouth. The last thing heard was the screams of the men and those that tried to bring order to the chaos.
It didn’t take long before the cries silenced and the animals and the crickets returned to their usual calls…
© Christopher Stamfors
My last Blog Update was terrible and I’m rectifying it now...
This has been a particularly long Hiatus and I think I should explain what I have been up to for the last 8 months: Flash Fiction is a hobby of mine, it gives me pleasure to handle such a small text and it gives me an opportunity to improve my writing and to be truly creative. Flash Fiction works very well for experimentation on style; explore scenes and characters and I will probably never stop writing them. But, as I found, writing snippets of stories doesn’t make you any good writing novels.
A year ago, I dove into a story (aiming for a novel) without a plan, hoping I’ll be led along this broken tale with no direction – the same strategy I’ve been going for with my Flash Fictions. Though this is a good thing when drafting, this is not advisable when trying to polish a story. Write the draft down, then write it again and again, never commit to a scene until you have worked out as much as you are able! That is what I’ve learned. You’ll undoubtedly make changes along the way, either way, that’s unavoidable, but hopefully, you’ve created a solid foundation to build on at that point.
I knew this on a surface level long ago, but it takes practice, and many mistakes, to fully understand the craft. I’m not saying I know how to write novels now but I am confident that I know enough to put some time into my short fictions again.
I will not make any promises, however, because I know I am not a creature of habits. I might post two stories one week or none at all in another. At least you can be certain that I’m working on them and hopefully you’ll stick around to read them.
Knowing that at least somebody reads my stories gives me enormous satisfaction.
Thank you for existing.
I swam alone in the vastness of the ocean, where there were neither reef nor island to orient me. But I didn’t need any direction for there was only one path that I chose, and it was down. The water was calm as I dove as far as I was able, struggling with the forces that pushed me back to the surface.
As I did, a wall of flesh graced my hand and I knew it was the beast I was looking for. With a hook, I cut into the creature’s skin and I was immediately pulled along with it. The creature was too massive to notice such a tiny pin, and as it reached deeper waters, it dove straight down.
I struggled to keep on from its awesome power, but I was determined to reach the bottom and I held on. For an hour I struggled until I was pulled no more and could loosen my grip on the hook. The surrounding was dark, impregnably so, and I would have seen nothing at all hadn’t a light source blessed my journey. Beside me, a small coral-like creature illuminated the depths and cover the skin of the giant creature, making it glow in a marvelous light! Indeed, the light was so strong that I saw the seabed below which I scanned with a skittering heart.
But all that I saw was muddy sand; dead and colorless; plain and flat, as far as I could see. My journey would have ended there hadn’t the creature moved once more, dragging me along the wasteland. I searched, of course, for any signs of life, but as I found none, my heart sank and I considered letting go and let the current take me wherever.
But then, the creature dove even further.
Deeper I went until it stopped suddenly. It did not move for a long while and as I lay floating thousands of miles under the sea, the water became dark. One after another, the coral was dying and I knew then the massive creature was dead. There was no way of turning back, nor was there any use to continue my search without a lightsource, and I became complacent with my fate. I slowly sank with the giant creature onto the seabed to let the creatures of the depths have their due course on my flesh.
© Christopher Stamfors
It’s about time I posted regularly on the site again. I haven’t been idle, this past 9 months. I’ve been working on a novel (in Swedish) and I was hoping to finish it before I started writing flash fiction again. But, nothing ever goes as planned. I’ve gone back and forth with my tale, continuing to polish it until it’s a precious gem.
I couldn’t tell you how far I am with the story, but I’ll continue as long as is necessary. I am improving along the way and that’s what matters
Hopefully the next story will go much smoother…
Richard was a simple man. He wanted nothing more than to spend time with his newly wedded wife in peace and quiet. But soon after the marriage, his father-in-law turned ill and Jessica (his wife) visited him every day at the hospital. Richard told her every day that he wished he could be there with her, but he didn’t really mean it. The old man was shrewd. He was a business tycoon with a large conglomerate who always wore a blank expression on his face. It was impossible to tell what he was thinking. Richard supposed that’s why the old man was so successful, because he was ruthless. Richard recalled the first time they met. He couldn’t prove it was the old man that started the fire but every time since, there had been small disasters whenever they came to visit. And Richard began to fear the old man was a sociopath…
Because of this, the first few years with Jessica was the most stressful time of his life. Which was why Richard wished, no matter how morbid it seemed, that the old man would stay at the hospital for a long while. But the time of calmness would last longer than he thought for the old man suddenly passed away. Richard felt guilty for his ill wishes, but he couldn’t bring himself to be sad at the old man’s passing. There was only pity towards his wife, who was devastated, even though she didn’t show it. She had her fathers same expressionless face.
At the sermon, the priest was talking on and on about heaven and hell. Richard thought the concept to be silly. If there was a hell, the old man was surely dancing with the other demons as one of them. Afterwards, they came to the law firm to hear the old man’s will. There was only the two of them, which Richard thought strange. He knew for a fact the old man had other living relatives. What were their names again? Bianca, Beatrice? As he tried to recall, the lawyer read from the will which stated that all his worldly possessions, and the control of the company, would go to Richard. Richard’s jaw hit the floor. It must be some kind of joke. But the lawyer’s expression was without humour and as Richard turned to his wife, she smiled graciously.
“Congratulations,” she said.
They didn’t linger at the office and they didn’t speak on their way home, at least he thought they were on their way home, but instead, they pulled up at the company.
“What are we doing here?” Richard said, still bewildered.
“It’s time to claim your right,” she said and exited the car.
“Wait, what? Now?” he said and followed her.
She walked briskly through the building with him on her tail. All the staff greeted her respectfully. They all seemed to know her and Richard thought it odd that nobody tried to stop them, as if they were expected. They turned several times into different hallways and the building seemed to go on endlessly. After a long while, they reached a dimly lit corridor and they stopped at a large steel door. Two burly men were guarding it. They looked at Jessica, nodded and stepped aside and let them in. The room was even darker than the corridor, with only few lights on the walls. Jessica walked confidently, as if she’d been here many times before. Eventually they reached another room. There were about a dozen people in there and they all rose when she entered.
“Welcome, ma’am,” they said without acknowledging Richard.
Richard was about to ask what was going on when there was a dull bang on the wall. The wall was hit rapidly for a few moments until it stopped. Everyone had stood frozen during the duration and then returned to their seats.
“You must be confused,” Jessica said.
“That’s a word for it.”
She smiled. “You mustn’t think ill of my father. He never did anything out of sadistic enjoyment, but towards a goal. A goal that would benefit humankind.”
“How does making my life miserable benefit humankind?”
“I’m sure you were aware that he put you through many tests, and the fact that you became his sole heir is proof that you have what it takes to carry on his legacy.”
Richard couldn’t believe what he was hearing, those small disasters were tests? Richard wanted to be furious, but the fact that he’d passed those tests, stroked his ego and he let the matter rest. “Ahem… even if that was true, what did he hope to accomplish?”
She smiled, ruefully. “Father never told this to anyone outside our family, but when he was young, his father murdered his mother in a drunken rage. They never knew why he did it and it was a question that my father had battled with for his entire life. What makes people turn evil? He never got the answer from his father before his passing, but he never gave up on finding the answer. He gathered riches and talented people for the task, however, they could never find a human test subject without breaking the law. It was important for him everything was within the realm of legality.”
Richard was tempted to make a snarky comment on the fact that they were situated in a secret facility but stayed his tongue and listened on.
“When father learned that he wouldn’t survive the illness, the decision was simple,” she said and made a motion with her hand. The metal wall rose slowly, revealing another room. Richard moved forward and felt a glass wall that separated him from the blackness on the other side. From the darkness, a set of teeth flung at his face and he staggered and fell backwards. The creature squirmed midair for a moment, like a leech with arms and legs, until it disappeared into the void once more.
Richard remained frozen on the floor. “What was that?!”
“A demon. Father’s demon, to be exact.”
“We all have one, Father knew. This one is small but that is to be expected. Father wasn’t an evil man,” she said and tried to help him up.
But Richard remained seated and stared into the void. “Demons doesn’t exist,” he said.
“Really, then what did you just see?”
Richard tried to come up with any number of possibilities, but he couldn’t picture any creature of the size that he saw. “Still… a Demon? Like the Christian one?” He asked.
“Call it what you will, but this is what came out of my father and, I don’t deny certain ‘Christian’ rituals were used. Among other things…”
Richard couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Did that mean there was a Heaven and Hell? The very thought struck him with a paralysing fear. She tried to help him up again but he wouldn’t move. He was eventually ignored and people stirred around him, doing things and saying things he was only partly aware of. Suddenly, there was a scream and people scurried and shouted around him. One tried to grab his arm but he remained anchored on the floor. Then, everything went quiet. A set of tiny feet walked up to him and as he looked up he was greeted by a huge grin. Saliva and blood dripped from its teeth.
His last thoughts were for a proper curse for the old man.
He wasn’t able to finish.
© Christopher Stamfors
I challenged a friend to do a Horror story set in Victorian England with the limit of 1000 words. He returned the favour and this story was the result. He didn’t stipulate a word limit, but, he gave me three guidelines that I had to follow:
1: A Married Person
2: Engaged in an enterprise and becoming involved with the occult and the fantastic
3: Reverses certain opinions when their fallacy is revealed
You can read his story, HERE. I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Fair winds blow on my back
I shout and my voice carries far
Everyone can hear it
Everyone can tell me I am wrong
How bad I am
The world is simple
Only two voices can be heard
Opposite of mind
One is right and the other is wrong
Nothing is diverse.
Most is interchangeable
And everything is convoluted.
© Christopher Stamfors
We sped onto the highway, me and my family, as we were eager to get home after a weekend at my grandmother’s. I don’t particularly remember what happened that weekend, but my parents told me I had fun. It wasn’t too young to remember either because I remembered vividly what happened next. It seemed like any other trip as we rode along the highway, me not paying attention to the outside and playing with my Game Boy I had got a year earlier.
I still have the thing as it can survive most anything…
Out of nowhere, a motorbike driver came into our lane and crashed on the front of our car. The windshield shattered and the motorbike driver flipped over the car and crashed behind us. Luckily he didn’t land in the other lane.
I was frozen in fear at the initial crash, what else could you do, especially as a child? But I believe that is how most people would react no matter their age – when you’re not in control. Indecently, my father had the wheel and he turned into the railing. I had never lost my breath so hard since that day – it was like all the air escaped my body and I gasped desperately to refill my lungs.
My parents had a similar reaction because it took them awhile to stumble out of the car and check on me. I remember the eyes of fear and blood trickling over my father’s face. He didn’t take note of his own injury and asked if I was all right. I answered weakly that I was. My mother lifted me from my seat and we leaned against the car while my father hurried to the motorbike driver.
My father told, years later, that the helmet had saved the driver’s life and was the only thing that had held his brains together. I’m glad he didn’t share that detail with me at the time. There wasn’t much my father could do for the driver, however, but he remained by his side even though he was the cause of the accident. We heard later that, apparently, one of the bolts to the back wheel had been missing; a mechanic supposedly forgot to put it together and the wheel came loose on the road.
It took a while before I could express my fears as I was still in shock; but the tears eventually welled, out of nowhere and I bawled loudly in my mother’s arms. She let me cry as much as I wanted. She told me later that she wanted to cry too, but I cried for the both of us. The police came before the ambulance and they must’ve heard there was a family involved in the accident because one of them gave me a teddy bear, fresh out of the wrapper. It’s apparently common practice in Holland and still is.
It’s probably a good practice… It did comfort me a little.
I still have it somewhere in a trunk at my parents, along with all the other childhood items I kept. It took a long while before I relinquished that bear – longer than I care to admit. It invoked such strong feelings whenever I saw it – conflicting feels that I did not understand, at the time. But, whenever I did recall that horrible day, it never let the bear escape my embrace.
© Christopher Stamfors
I post Short Stories every week. Please check out my other fictions HERE.
Parents know best, we all know this, for they have lived their lives, they know the mistakes and how to avoid them. So did their parents and their parents-parents. How could any child be so irresponsible to not cherish the wisdom and the path their parents had set for them?
Why would anyone set out on a difficult journey to find a truth that had already been found? To seek that which have already been sought and discovered a thousand times over? Perhaps this time, the answer will be different? Perhaps I am special and my path is set elsewhere, were glory and wealth can be found!
Why would anyone seek such a goal when happiness is easily attained, already provided for you? For happiness is bliss! Not knowing that which you could have – not knowing what others have.
Are you willing to poison your mind for this quest where the ultimate end will be your downfall? Your distraught?!
Your happiness will fade and you’ll return home, knowing that you did not stack up to the world – that your parents path is all you can hope for.
And when you have children, will you tell them the truth? Of what you’d wished you had done? Or do you keep silent and hope that the next generation will reach that which you never obtained?
© Christopher Stamfors
I remember vividly the time before my mother’s death; everything seemed fine as we were touring the beautiful Linnaean Garden when mother suddenly started to cough violently – becoming pale as the cough persisted. There had been a recent outbreak of the White Plague, at the time, which was why we rushed to the doctor as fast as we could. But there was nothing that could be done and she died a few months later.
I never thought that I would recover from her death, and I suppose you never do altogether as you find yourself crying in bed many years later. My father did not aid me in my grief as he hid away in his study rather than confronting reality. I believe it was because of him that I conquered my sadness as I was forced to take on the responsibilities he neglected, such as household finances. But, as it was his money, I could do nothing to prevent him from doing frivolous purchases, mostly books of different kinds that I rather not describe for fear of scrutiny. He was very secretive about his studies and he wouldn’t let me on what his purpose was, even if he had one.
One day, he used all of his savings and bought a house out in the country, in the wilderness to the north. His reasons were that our home reminded him too much of my late mother and distracted him from whatever he was doing. I didn’t want to forget about mother, but I saw new light in my father’s eyes and I didn’t want to take that away from him so I went along, young and unmarried as I was.
The house was very big, bigger than one might expect so far from civilization. There was a small village beside it which harbored no more than a couple hundred people. I remember them looking strangely at us as we passed in our carriage to our new home, their gazes were almost blank which sent shivers down my spine. The inside of the house was rather murky, as one would be expected of such an old building. Father spent the remainder of his money to restore it to its former glory and I have to admit, when the renovations were done, I grew to like our new home.
The villagers weren’t at all as creepy as they seemed, as well, as they were mostly reserved because we were outsiders; or more specifically, “rich” outsiders, which we incidentally were no longer. We were more or less broke and we ate very sparsely to sustain ourselves. I was content, for a time, until father began to act strangely. He began to speak ill of me and was very destructive when things didn’t go his way. His behaviour worsened as time went on and it was apparent that he was searching for something that he couldn’t find. He destroyed the floorboard, in several places, and dug beneath the foundation, and when he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he came after the villagers.
He was very condescending towards them, when he spoke, and I was impressed how the villagers contained their anger, or perhaps they simply didn’t care what my father thought of them? In any case, it became clear I could not live under these circumstances and I made my escape. It was many years later that I returned to the house, but I found it was yet again abandoned. The villagers pertained ignorance of my father’s whereabouts, of course. Though I wouldn’t have blamed them if they were somehow responsible for his disappearance. In my mind, father died the moment my mother did.
© Christopher Stamfors