“Honey, are you sure this is the right way?”
“Yes, yes, it should be right around the corner.”
“But, look, the road has stopped. You are driving on dirt!”
“We are supposed to… It’s a short cut, alright!”
She looked over at her boyfriend who kept his eyes on the road while glancing on a map that rested over the steering-wheel. The car swayed back and forth like a ship on the uneven ground; and the further they went, the more the forest enclosed them and the road disappeared in the undergrowth.
I come from a prosperous family. This allows me to travel a lot. I’ve traveled along the great rivers and seen vastly different cultures with strange customs. But one thing they have in common, (as with my own) is they all worship the sun. Indeed, there’s never a time when the sun does not shine. It gives life and I could never imagine a land where it did not exist, unless it was dead and void.
I am here, in this room, a kitchen of a small apartment in suburbia, Sweden. There’s a small kitchen table in the middle of the room. Before me is a window. On the windshield there’s a toaster, a cacti, a lamp, and a mixer. The blinds are pulled halfway and the window is slightly dirty. They will never be cleaned, has never been cleaned, as far as I know. Outside people pass. To where? I haven’t a clue. It is Sunday morning. Where do people go on Sunday mornings?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
It was dark, really dark. There were grey metal walls surrounding me. There was equipment… What were they again? I did something with them – once… Yes! It’s the hydraulics, and, that… that’s for the cannons! The cannons… Wait…
I looked around myself again, saw a hole in the wall. The hole was contrasted by the total blackness around me and I peered out. A large shadowy figured dashed by and I staggered back into the dark (…)
The floor was cold as I awoke. My jaw was sore and my body was stiff, and when I opened my eyes, I couldn’t tell where I was. It was dark. The walls were pitch-black but I could see a bed without a mattress. One of the springs were loose… I tried to stand, with some difficulty, and when my senses had gathered I endeavoured to move. I had no recollection of where I was or how I ended up here (…)
On the street we crowded, staring upward at a tower. We huddled with our loved ones. There was darkness all around, even the heavens was black. The girl in my arms shivered, the woman behind me, her teeth they clattered, and the man beside, he murmured, his breath felt upon the vapour.
Then, a small glimmer shone through a slither, in the cracks of the wall of the tower (…)
The bar was dark and dreary. The chairs and tables were almost full, and there was no music, as far as Joseph could tell. He couldn’t even hear the conversation on the table next to him, only managing snippets of words that didn’t make sense. His companion, a man named Robert, sat across to him. He was a thinly man, with a tortured expression. It always infuriated Joseph when he saw his friend, who by any measure should be as happy as could be (…)
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 (…)
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 (…)
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 (…)
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 (…)
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 (…)
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 (…)
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 (…)
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 (…)
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… (…)
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 (…)
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 (…)
Rain drummed on the copper roof, dripping through that which was missing to hold it together. Water streamed through the cracks onto the moulded wood, soaking through the third floor, then the second, onto the first. The musky smell that had been overpowering upon entry subsided as he ascended the stairs to the top floor. The wind was fresh but chilling and howled in between the gaps where the wall had once been whole. A mist came out his breath as he looked through old books, vials and trinkets (…)
Gusts of wind sprayed water upon the wall, the wind howled between the narrow windows that looked down at the shore.
The walls had protected the city for many years, but this night no invaders would dare to show, for walkers roamed in the darkness and everyone stayed indoors.
The streets were empty, there was silence, only the wind grew louder with compliance. Yet a lone woman scurried down the hall, her steps echoed hollow on the marble floor (…)
Have you ever walked a lonely road at the dead of night? When a few leafs still sway on the naked branches, refusing to be whisked away by the wind? When all that is ahead of you, and all that is behind you, is darkness? Making you wonder why you braved such an ominous night, to begin with?
I have, and I wouldn’t have dared such a venture if it wasn’t for the charm that I clutch to my chest whenever I’m out and about. Looking at it now, it’s a strange item, for several reasons: it’s shaped in a perfect sphere with inscriptions in a tongue that look far too foreign to be pronounced. Not that I would be able to read it properly, anyway, for the charm is scorched in black, giving a scent of burnt flesh and lavender (…)
I don’t know why I feel the need to write this. Perhaps it’s a desire to be understood, perhaps it is just one of those selfish acts which we human are so famous for? All people are born sinners, after all, and even men of God are not free from sin, however, some sins are more grave than others, naturally. Perhaps this is why I write? For the small chance of redemption in the eyes of at least one person? Indeed, that would be enough; and if this letter finds itself in the hands of a heathen, or a denier, allow me to preach God’s world to you (…)
The mist churned on the paved street, engulfing the road until their was nothing but misty fog beneath our feet. People rushed inside their homes and barred the doors – like always when the moon was full. Was there ever a time when the mist was seen as nothing more than force of nature? When the imaginary mind could conjure the illusion of drifting high above the clouds as the mist was thick and all encompassing?
To my knowledge, this had never been the case (…)
The sky glittered in the moonless night, its rays hidden beneath the horizon. Things had gone well for Mr. Harrison, his business boomed in the absence of the king, and his daughter was out of the house, married to a sweet young man who would honour their trade.
Yes, things were looking well for Mr. Harrison and life was good.
He brought out his celebratory pipe that twirled in a fashion suited for the occasion and filled it with a blend of roots and herbs, gifted by his friend the Herbalist (…)
I stared in awe at things of imagination, for what else could they possibly be but a fabrication of my mind? Yet I was not alone gawking at the sky that bloomed in light of shaded blue, illuminating the night like the stars we were used to. The people boomed their thoughts of evils lurking and blessings approaching, the only two possible explanations such a magnificent, yet terrifying, display could reveal.
Though nothing we said that night could accurately describe what we saw, we neither ran nor cried for help when the orb like globes descended upon the earth (…)
Step by step he climbed the stone stairs that reached towards the heavens; blocks forged by an unknown maker – an unknown civilization – in the Latin American jungle. Taking a breath to rest, James marveled at the precision the blocks had been placed. Without cement, or anything else to bind the structure together, they have managed to build something to stand the test of time. It was truly doing more with less; creativity fueled by limitation. (…)
The darkness, all engulfing. The silence – thought to be everlasting – penetrated by a continuous thumping. The muffled noise drew nearer as the walls of limestone slowly cracked until it crumbled into bits. Wind gushed inside, drawing fresh air into a surrounding that had laid dormant and stale for untold millennia. From the opening, a man appeared. Wrapped with a piece of cloth around his mouth and his hair turned yellow by the dust, his flashlight scanned the interior, revealing only more darkness in its depths. Making an effort to remove the rubble from his path, two more people appeared; one a man, the other a woman. The woman, named Olga, clutched her husband’s arm, who was named Ivan, both grinning excitedly as they entered. (…)
My father was a very kind man. Every year in midsummer, instead of going to the King’s annual banquet, he made sure to arrange a huge party for his subjects at his own expense. I lived in another noble house at the time, such as all young noblemen do to acquire knighthood, and had never experienced one of my father’s celebrations – not one that I could remember anyway. As a result of being away from my family, I had been taught to despise my father’s practices. But I had also heard great things about my father and I was determined to give it an open mind once I returned a man and a knight. (…)
The village looked like a dream, sitting by a large lake in the middle of nowhere – the trees growing tall and dense. I had not planned to seek civilisation while traversing this remote region, but upon finding the road that led me here, my inner voice told me to follow it; and like most of my adult life, I listened. (…)
The knife pierced through his flesh, burrowing deeper and deeper until only the handle stuck out of his chest. The victim gurgled as his lungs filled with blood and with one last act of desperation, he grabbed the handle and tried to pull it out. But all his strength soon seethed out of him and his hands fell to the side. (…)
The sounds, oh the sounds that old houses make. Some of them he recognised, some he didn’t. But it wasn’t the sounds that worried him, but the how the very walls seemed to move as a particularly strong wind hit against the house, the house bending to the will of nature. (…)
The fire flared in bright red and yellow, casting tall shadows on the grove surrounding him. With a step, he backed away from the flames as it was reaching towards his face, burning against his skin. He quirked his mouth in amusement, imagining his wife striking him beyond the dead. She and the fire had many similarities, he realised; they were both beautiful, energetic and unpredictable. (…)
The people waved and cheered at the soldiers marching through the town. Commander Vergan moved his hand back and forth in response, grinning excitedly at the crowd. They had expected fierce resistance from the populous, but as none came, he, and his men, could not help but laugh at their fortune. Battle in towns and cities was something to be avoided at all cost. (…)
The hill rose before them as they struggled on the rain-soaked field. Mud cluttered against their shoes, weighing down their already tired legs. He panted heavily and he could feel his throat drying up, despite the humidity in the air. The wind blew across his face and foul stench filled his nostrils, making him snort in disgust. (…)
He jerked his head up towards the sky and let the warming rays of the sun rejuvenate his spirits. With a deep breath, he returned to his notebook and scribbled skilfully the lines and shapes of what he saw. An hour went by and the sun slowly hid behind tall buildings that surrounded him. (…)
The tempo was high and her breath stable. The wind chilled comfortably on her sweaty skin and filled her lungs with energy, making every breath propel her feet forward. It was almost nightfall and the park was virtually empty, save for one or two couples on the wayside; but she ignored everything around her, focusing on a bench ahead.She grit her teeth and sped up. As she passed the bench, her chest swelled with pride and her legs kept running. (…)
The music and the motions of the violinist mesmerised him. The beauty and the skill in creating those notes were unmistaken. It formed the perfect atmosphere for the purpose of the party. He glanced around, finding people in fancy suits and pretty dresses that mingled amongst themselves; bowing politely as they discovered the prestige and wealth their conversation partners. He had never understood this overly polite culture (…)
I groaned in pleasure as I stretched out my limbs and felt blood stream back into my lower back. With a yawn, I entered a quaint, yet shaggy, diner next to the road. I hadn’t eaten since last night, too afraid to stop at any other diner on the dusty roads of Arizona. It should be fine, however, I must eat eventually. The diner was surprisingly crowded for such a desolate area. Perhaps there’s a town nearby? The holster chafed against my side as I sat in one of the stalls by the window. (…)