Hephaestus Sanctuary – Short Story

A door opened and a man stepped out, squinting at the sun. The day was clear and he let the sun fully engross him. It had been a long winter, he thought as he went out to inspect the field. Much of the snow had melted, but the ground was still hard. It would be another month before he could sow the seed for this year’s harvest. He glanced up at the mountain that was tall in the distance. It was still covered in white but he knew (as sure as spring would come) that they would come knocking on his door.

And so the people tilled their land and sowed their seeds. The harvest was good and the air was mild. The farmer went to bed early, knowing that tomorrow, they would come. And he was right, for later the next evening, a tall man knocked on their door. He wore a black cloak and a sombre expression. The farmer knew they weren’t much for talking and went to business. They exchanged food for silver. The stranger raised a large sack, filled with various animal produce, over his shoulders and was gone. The farmer stood by the doorstep and watched the stranger lumber away, carrying much more than any normal man ought to. He didn’t think of them during the winter, he didn’t like to, because they were not men, they couldn’t be. A cold breeze caressed his forehead. The summer was at an end and it would be another year before they descended the mountain.

**

In a small, dimly lit room, she was staring at a fire. The flames engulfed the pot that hung over it and she waited for it to settle before she’d pour water into it. She was not used to sitting alone, and her mind drifted away. She was reminded of her husband, sitting next to her, being silly and making the time fly by. The fire settled into a hearth and she poured the ingredients into the boiling water, tasted it, and waited.

She knew nothing of what was happening outside:

The sun had almost set, casting purple twilight over the horizon. Men in dark hoods wandered between the houses, disappearing and reappearing as they became invisible in the shade.  There were several of them, dashing ghostly from wall to wall, some standing like a sentry, watching the horizon. On the southern end of the village, one of those Sentry’s kept his eyes peeled, when a figure emerged from the horizon. Snow, that had collected on his cloak, crumbled as he dashed towards the stranger:

The stranger was a weary soul. Each step felt like a ton as his feet were buried knee deep in the snow and he did not notice when two dark hooded men emerged in front of him. They seemed to tower over him as he himself stooped to keep the wind from his eyes. “Are you lost, friend?” One of the Sentries asked in a dark sort of way.

Was he lost or had he found the right place? He wasn’t sure. The only thing he knew was that something drew him, something burning inside him that forced him to go on. The stranger glanced up at them and saw that half their faces were covered by a hood, their left and right eye respectively. When they saw his face, their one eye widened as if transfixed by his appearances. But nothing else revealed what they were thinking as their expressions remained cold and neutral. The stranger touched his face, wondering if there was something wrong with him when he realised he could not picture what he looked like. After a moment, the dark hooded men collected themselves and gently placed their hands on his shoulders, urging him to follow them to a small cabin where he could rest. But the burning did not allow him to rest. Feeling close to his goal, he quickened his step, but the two black figures lurched on him and grabbed him by the shoulders, insisting that he cooperate.

They pinned him down, and his chest burned more brightly, glowing in bright red and orange through his clothes. His weariness melted away and with new found strength, he broke free from their grip and rushed towards the village. The Sentries didn’t hesitate and drew their weapons. Beams of light zoomed through the air, hitting the walls on the houses, harmlessly melting the ice and snow that caked on the walls. They all missed and it seemed like the stranger would get away when he felt a pain through his ankle and he collapsed around the corner of a house. But when they came to collect him, he was gone.

Do you remember the woman from before? She had heard the commotion and she looked out to see what it was about. It was almost night now, only a slither of light still remained in the sky and it took a moment before she realised a stranger sprawled on her doorstep, half covered in snow. She stared at him for a while, conflicted. She wanted to help him, but what if he was dangerous? He squirmed in the snow. Her heart could not bear see him suffer and she opened the door and dragged him inside. Black liquid streaked on the floor from his ankle which she patched with linen as best she could. His clothes were soaked and she undressed him, wrapping him in blankets near the fire. For a moment, everything was still as she gazed down at the stranger on the floor. She noticed how his face was in perfect symmetry; his chin was strong and his hair curly and yellow. Everything about him was perfect and she thought he must be a god. She felt her cheeks flush and she forced herself to look away. Maybe this was a bad idea? He was a stranger and they were sure to come looking for him. What would they do if they found him here? As she contemplated her choices, there was loud knocking on the door that made her wince.

One of the dark hooded men stood on the other side, asking if she’d seen any strangers pass by? The woman glanced at her neighbours houses and saw that they were knocking on all the doors. She realised they had no idea where the stranger had gone and that they did not suspect her. “I haven’t seen anything,” she said and the hooded man nodded, thanking her for her cooperation and went away. Now, you might find it strange that they didn’t search her home? But you must realise, this sort of thing had never happened before. They did not question the villagers loyalty and they certainly did not expect it to be broken by a kind heart and a beautiful face.

When the door closed, she pressed herself against it. Her heart was at her throat and she breathed heavily. She had never lied before, but now that she had, there was no turning back. The stranger did not wake up that night, nor the following morning. The feast, that she had prepared for, came and went, and during all this time, she could think of nothing else but the stranger. But one night, when she was asleep, she heard bustling downstairs. She rushed down and saw the stranger rummaging through her drawers. He was completely naked and in any other situation, she’d look away, but now, she simply stared. His limbs were in perfect symmetry… and his muscles… He was perfection! Except for the bandaid on his left ankle. It took a moment before she became aware that she was staring and she quickly looked away and covered her face with her hand. “I’m sorry!” She shrieked.

He stood there, silently observing her. “Where are my clothes?” He said.

She pointed to a coffin next to the cupboard. When he was dressed, he turned and said. “Thank you.”

Silently, she turned to meet his eyes. It was the first time she’d looked directly into them and somehow she could not draw her gaze away. He observed her too, for a moment, when he suddenly hissed and clenched his teeth, moving his hand towards his chest. “I must go,” he said and turned towards the door.

“Wait!” she said, placing her hand on his, hindering him from turning the doorknob. He glanced down at her hand, noticing she was missing her ring finger. She removed her hand as if burned by his gaze and hid it behind her back. She didn’t know why she did so; she had never felt ashamed about her missing finger, but seeing the perfection that was this man… She wanted to hide it. “I— They are still after you, you know. They’ll catch you if you leave,” she said.

But the stranger just looked at her vacantly and made another effort to leave. “You can’t!” she shrieked and embraced him around the waist. She didn’t know what had come over her. Why was it so hard to let this man go? She didn’t know, but, for whatever reason, she knew that if she let him leave, she’d never see him again and the thought alone made her tremble. The stranger did not resist her at first, but as she refused to let go, and the burning in his chest became stronger, he tried to force her off. Then, it all stopped. All the energy that had gathered within him drained and he collapsed on the floor. She held onto him, still, and he fell into her lap. For a while, he didn’t open his eyes, but when he did, it was as if he saw the world for the first time. His mind was clear and the urgency was gone. He noticed how pleasantly the room smelled of firewood; how the furniture was half-moon shaped to accommodate the rounded walls; how her front teeth peaked behind her lips; and how her soft breasts pressed against him.

They didn’t move from that spot for a very long time. Only at dawn, when the light shone through the windows, did it revive them. She was the first to rise. She held out her hand and led him upstairs to her bedroom. They spent all day in that bed, and only the next morning, did they finally talk: She felt his chest rise and fall and she thought there was nothing in this world that could make her get out of bed. A pang of guilt clenched her hand, scratching the stranger’s skin over his stomach. What would her husband think if he knew? How would she feel in his situation?

“Is something wrong?” the stranger asked.

She glanced up at him and their eyes met. Somehow seeing them made the guilt wash away. He was a god, she was sure of it, only a deity could make somebody feel this good. She sat up and locked her hands together and took a breath. “I have a husband,” she said.

There was no reaction from him, which surprised her. “He… He was buried in an avalanche a month back.”

“I’m sorry,” he said and placed his hand on hers.

She held it and caressed his hand with her thumbs. “Don’t be, he’ll return, eventually.”

His eyes grew wide. “Excuse me?”

“The Maker will get him back to me, when he’s ready.”

Her whole body quivered and she stared down her hands. How would he react to this? Would he leave her, or… would she make her leave her husband? Her cheeks flushed at the thought, both embarrassed and guilty for thinking it. But the stranger’s mind was somewhere else. He was seeing back to a time when he was still searching the world. He’d seen people die. He’d seen people buried or burnet when their bodies won’t carry them anymore. He’d seen people crying over the dead because they knew they would never see them again. The dead do not return, he was certain.

When no answer came, she tried to lead the conversation elsewhere. “A— Are you going to tell me about yourself?”

Broken from his revery, he blinked.

“Where do you come from?” She asked.

“I’m… I’m not sure,” he said, gravely.

“You don’t remember?”

“I…” He tried to recall, but all he could see was him walking, climbing, swimming; sometimes alone, sometimes with a group, but he was always moving, searching. “I don’t know… I have never considered it before…”

She looked at him, quizzically.

“It’s like I have never existed until now,” he said and placed his hand over his heart. He couldn’t feel it and he smiled. “It’s thanks to you,” he said and turned to her. “It must be… I wanna know more about myself, about you and this world.” Her heart skipped as he beamed at her. To make another person this happy…. She’d almost forgotten what it felt like. In her head, she decided that she’d do anything to help this man. “Do you at least remember your name?” she asked.

He shook his head.

She laid her head back on his chest. “Don’t worry. We will find out, together.”

He drew his finger through her black silky hair and thought of nothing when he asked. “What do you call yourself?”

“Jessica.”


Continue reading HERE

© Christopher Stamfors

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.

Ocean Depths – Very Short Story

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

 

The Father-in-law – Very Short Story

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.”

“D-Demon?”

“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!

That’s Mine! – Very Short Story

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.”

“How come?”

“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

Terrifying Beauty – Very Short Story

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. My inner mind told me to step away as they came nearer, and when I did, another took my place as she reached out her hands to catch it. Such is the mind of humanity, irrational and filled with hope, hope that the globes (that poured over us), did not have evil intent.

All around the people watched as she made contact with the orb. It floated on her palms like it weighed nothing despite being twice her size. Yet the wind did not catch it, indeed, the woman was not sure if it was there at all for she expressed that she felt nothing of what she saw.

Others gathered around and drew closer for it had been a while and no evil had emerged, or of any blessing. I heard others yelp in the vast crowd around me, and I do not know if others caught the globes, nor did I witness what happened when nobody caught them, for my attention was fixated at the woman.

As nothing of malice occurred, people dared to touch the light the orb emanated. But when many hands felt it, the globe popped like a bubble; and all its rays, that were harboured within, shot across everything and our bodies. At first, it was pleasant, for the lights warmed wherever it touched in the cold autumn night. But screams soon engulfed the area as the burning of those sparks grew more intense. I felt it all over my torso, head, arms, and legs for I had faced the light when it burst. The pain was searing and I could no longer make use of my legs. It was as if the very flesh melted off my bones… but it was there… it was still there attached when I rose and the burning dissipated. Screams, that had engulfed us, soon faded and we all rose to find darkness all encompassing. People shouted, the stars were gone! Others that the moon was too. Indeed, I saw nothing of any kind as I wandered in the darkness, touching and stepping on those in my path. It was only later, when the people who had hid from the strangeness, and thus had not been burned, emerged, that we learned the stars were still there and that the moon still shone brightly in our path.


© Christopher Stamfors

Featured image by ChrisCold

Fantasy – Poem

On the run

A boyhood lost

His future uncertain

And his past,

an inferno

Is he alone?

In this world most frightened?

Where danger lurk

At every quirk

Ney, for she leads him away

To her home

He was astray

Adventure called their name

To find the legacy

Both their people sought,

with dismay.


To the uninitiated: this site was created, at first, for the purpose of one story, that is called “Book of Legacy.” I’ve been working on it for two years, (on and off) and though it may take many more years before I’m satisfied, please enjoy this synopsis of the first few chapters written in verse.

 

God of Truth – Very Short Story

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.

How they were able to build such magnificent structures with simple stone tools was simply baffling. As he stroke the stone blocks that had turned green after centuries of neglect, James felt the sun’s warming rays on his neck as it rose above the trees.

It was another day, another opportunity to unearth the mysterious of this place. For so many years they’d believed the Aztecs and the Mayans were the creators of the pyramids, when in reality, there was another people predating them both – the architects of the entire Mesoamerican world.

Continue reading “God of Truth – Very Short Story”

Chamber of Knowledge – Very Short Story

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.

“Amazing, professor!” Ivan said. “You were right all along.”

The professor, having gone deeper into the darkness, ignored Ivan’s remark. Unconcerned with their approval, the professor just stared into the nothingness.

I was right… I was right… he repeated in his head.

Continue reading “Chamber of Knowledge – Very Short Story”