Category Archives: fantasy

Continuing a tale: Part II of The Wardrobe Monster

I’m participating in another challenge from Chuck Wendig at terribleminds, but it’s a bit late. This one has been brewing…Part II in a three part colaboration. 

The Wardrobe Monster (Pt I) by Mozelle

The power had gone out soon after the storm started up, and pretty soon after, her e-reader died too.  She looked outside and noticed the whole neighbourhood was in darkness. Sighing, Savannah showered by torchlight and went off to bed.

But not for long… only a few minutes after she switched off her torch, she started hearing noises coming from her wardrobe – noises she had never heard before.

Unnatural noises.

Her folks had told her there was no such thing as monsters when she was a kid.

That was crap.

She knew it.

But then, she had seen this thing destroy people’s lives in a split second, and now she was sitting up in her bed terrified of it.

Savannah knew it was crap, and closed her eyes, “It’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real…” she kept chanting to herself to see if it would make the noise in her wardrobe stop.

To make her mind from going crazy…

To make her nerves from being on edge…

…to make her relax again.

She pulled the covers of her bed up to her chin and watched the door handle of the wardrobe as the shadow of the trees moved across it, “Crap, I’m in my twenties and …” she swallowed dryly, “I’m too fucking old for this shit!” kicking off her covers, she pulled on her Ugg boots, dressing gown and grabbed the waterproof torch she kept by her bed when storms like this hit and switched it back on.  Walking toward the wardrobe, she followed the large circle of light.

Five feet out, the noise started to sound like a grunting pig.  She thought it was cute – but weird – seeing it came from where her clothes were stored.

Three feet out, her gut cooled as she heard scratching coming from inside… along with screams.  The grunting was gone.

One foot, and Savannah noticed smoke was seeping from underneath the doors as she reached forward to open the door…

The door handle suddenly rattled loudly… clearly… and…

The whole door shuddered as though somebody bashed against it!

Savannah shuffled back, tripped over her glory box at the end of her bed, and sat on the end of her bed as the two wardrobe doors opened…

Part II (moi)

Silhouetted in the doors, a man in jeans and a leather flack jacket dusted off his sleeves. He looked up, with a sly little half-smile. “Savannah.”

Under the mischievous glance of big green eyes, Savannah found all her words dried up, her lips gaping like a fish.

“I know, I know.” He strode into her room, a bounce in his step. “I’m not what you were expecting. But you should know, that was a monster sent direct from the deepest levels of hell.”

“But…why?” Savannah gaped at him.

His eyes ran over her and Savannah pulled her robe tight, a fiercely hot blush on her cheeks. The smirk said everything. “Not all is as it appears on the first sighting.” He took her hand and the blush felt like it crept further down her body. “You, my dear, are the Turnpoint, the one who will change the balance of power in the spiritual world.”

His earnest gaze unsettled her. “And who do you represent?”

“Myself.” That bright flash of smile again, the mischief in blue eyes. “Me…I prefer the delights of chaos.”

“Are you–?”

The only answer was that smile again, and he inclined his head, the smirk rising from his lips to his eyes. He brushed a lock of dark curly hair out of his eyes. They understood each other, Savannah was sure.

“What does that mean for me?” Savannah asked, peering into the wardrobe.

Elegantly, her guest gestured at the open doors. “We enter the spiritual plane.”

Savannah drew back from the mist that curled cooly around her ankles. The idea made the hairs on the back of her neck prickle.

“I’m certainly not dressed for the occasion.” She drew back towards her bedroom door, surreptitiously kicking some discarded underwear under the bed.

“That won’t be a problem.” With a shrug, Loki clicked his fingers, and she had on her favourite jeans and sweater. He quirked an eyebrow, gauging her reaction with a thoughtful look, before he extended her a hand.

Nervously Savannah smoothed back her hair. Why her?

A beating began at her bedroom door, when Savannah knew they were alone in the house. The door bent inward with the ferocity of the attack as a high-pitched yowling that descended into a deep growl.

“Or you could wait here, to meet the envoy of the planes of Hel.”

With a gulp, Savannah took Loki’s hand. The frenzy at the door intensified, as with quick steps, Loki lead her to the door. Holding her breath, they passed between the planes, where the crossing burned and froze in the same searing moment and the howling fury of life and death rang in her ears.

His hand gently squeezed hers. “Welcome to the other side Savannah.”

Savannah opened her eyes to a darkness of the deepest fog. Flashes of light illuminated standing figures, frozen in a moment of time, the hue of light flickering.

“Who are they?”

“People in the throes of the choices that may cost them their souls…Or free them…”

Savannah looked at the figures with sadness. At that moment, out of the darkness, strode a young woman, her features resolving as she moved closer.

“Here’s trouble,” Loki mused under his breath, his easy half-smile emerging once again.

Finding Foxglove

Another challenge from Chuck Wendig. I really liked this one. It was pick 5 words to incorporate into your story. Mine are: djinn, foxglove, orphan, topaz, whalebone.  I also feel like this could be a longer story, maybe a novella or a novel, I will have to see. Going in the story file…

I really encourage anyone wanting to write to read Chuck’s blog. It’s funny, it’s got great advice for writers, and this weekly writing club ensures that I am writing often. And that’s what you need to become a writer.

Anyway, without further ado, I present…

Finding Foxglove

Her father’s shrouded body was barely in the ground when the Ahdia felt his presence behind her. Ahdia had not told her father that she didn’t need to close her eyes, that she could feel their heat radiating when they were close by, and could see their faces cast in fierce blue light when she looked. It was his blood coursing through her veins that meant she could. A Prince of the People of the Pyre could not hope to contain that power from the blood of his blood. She could not be protected, as she could never be unseeing.

There is always one way for humans to know a djinn, her father had told her, again and again, the feverish grip on her shoulder always too tight. If you can close your eyes, feel for that extra-perception field that is inside you, and when you slip your fingers in that oily and tricky thread, you turn that eye and the djinn will glow with the blue flame of life. Ahdia knew the feel of the perception; it covered her own skin like wet paint, sucking and pulling at her.

“Marid,” Ahdia’s voice took on the resonant inner voice her father had taught her to use and addressed to djinn directly. “Why do you intrude at the height of my sorrow?”

“Ameera Abaza.” The reply was like sand shifting against sand, rasping, warm. “I have come to honour your father.”

Ahdia paused, tilting her head, observing the shadow and feeling for the brightness of the flame the djinn possessed. “No one has come to us since Abi was disowned for loving my mother. Why would the Peoples of the Pyre come now?”

The chuckle was warm, real. “They come not now. I once was a great friend to your father. There is a plot against your life, Ameera, and out of love for him do I come.”

Adhia pivoted, her topaz eyes flashing. “Where was that love when they were slowly draining his flame with the Sentinel’s voodoo? They allowed him to be consumed, against all of the laws of our people.”

“Ameera, I begged for him to run. To leave this land and go across the seas, to older lands, where their power would be ineffective. But he would not leave you, nor the home he shared with your mother.” The tall and solid djinn shifted, staring out towards at the red sands, his loin cloth flapping in the hot desert wind. He was out of his element here. The carved whalebone jewellery he wore about his neck and in his ear spoke of a life of richness and joy, of seas and wet sands; not the hard and bitter life on the edge of the desert.

“You are an orphan now,” his eyes and voice were gentle, protective, as he turned his gaze back to her. “There is no one to protect you.”

“Why would I need protection? They killed my father. There is nothing that they have to fear from me.” Adhia’s breath caught traitorously as she acknowledged the reality she faced; being alone. But she would not cry. Her father would not have wanted that.

The djinn bent his great bulk so that he was eye to eye with her, his face appearing  tinted blue like moonlight to Adhia. “Because you, Ameera, are an upset in the balance of life. In the combination of your father’s blood and your mother’s human blood, a great power was created. Your father knew it, and used his own power to protect you. You will scare the People. That is why they will hunt you.”

Gently, he took her hand. “I extend the offer to you. We will travel across the world, to where your mother’s grandfather came from. Examine his history. Then we will have the truth.”

Ahdia searched his face, seeking duplicity. “How do I know you speak the truth?”

“In the words that your father gave me and that clue which will guide you on our journey.” He opened his dark, meaty hand and inside was a necklace that she recognised; her mother’s. It had been a long time since she had seen this, but she remembered it around her mother’s neck.

With trembling fingers, Ahdia took the necklace and looked at it, at the strange flower painted on the yellowing surface of the ovular china surface. Purple tubes, hanging down, with dark spots like a leopard from her books.

“What are they?” Ahdia asked, tracing the beautiful paint strokes with her fingertips.

“Your father’s words to me were: Find the Foxglove.” Even the giant djinn looked perplexed. “I believe that is the name of the flower, and the insignia of your grandfather’s house.”

Ahdia nodded, staring at the piece, reliving the scattered memories of her mother, who had died trying to give birth to a younger brother, who had also died with her. Her eyes smarting, she looked back at the djinn. “I do not even know your name.”

His smile was broad and beautiful. “I am Emir Hafiz Najjar, Ameera, from the islands of a distant sea.”

“Hafiz, you may call me Ahdia.” Ahdia bowed, slightly to him. She turned back to the open gravesite. “There is one thing I need to do before we can leave.”

Feeling her fingertips warming with the flame, she took out the taper, holding it between her fingers. Closing her eyes, she concentrated, feeling the beat of her heart, the heat of her body and pulling it to that one spot. With a puff, she felt the taper catch, and opened it to see the tiny flickering fire dancing in the wind.

Kneeling by the edge of the grave, she touched the flame to the shroud, and moved away. She watched as the redness crept from the spot she had touched along his body, like a coal, and burst into a white-hot flame. Ahdia watched as the blaze ate through his earthly body, brightening to a blue as his remains crumbled. Ahdia watched the embers lift from the pit, to be carried out into the world, so that somewhere, a piece of her father could live again.

“Goodbye Abi,” she whispered, as the last of his body crumbled to ashes.

Knowing her duty was done, she turned away from the last remnants of her life before, and followed the stranger who offered her answers.

Foxglove flower (Digitalis)

Foxglove flower (Digitalis)

A few small things about the unusual words used (all anglicised versions of Arabic words):

  • Ameera is the word for princess
  • Emir is a title used for noblemen
  • Djinn or jinn are not devil as such in Arabic mythology; they’re pretty complex from the little reading I have done
  • Abi is father

Chinatown rebels

Another flash fiction challenge over at terrible minds! Detective, Ghost, Chinatown, unsolved murder were what I rolled.

Randy didn’t even know he’d gotten out of bed this morning. He ran a hand over his grizzled jaw in frustration. He hadn’t even remembered to stop for coffee. And he wouldn’t be able to get a double-double and breakfast at least until the body was in the bag. If he could even get through the endless lines and the computers at Tim’s hadn’t broken again.

His partner, Detective Dave Turner, bent over the faceless figure against the wall, deep in discussion with the ME. Jane Grant was talking animatedly pointing to the peaked roof of the Millennium Gate, before returning to the body. A shooter then, from the roof. In the middle of Chinese New Year celebrations. This was going to be a messy case. The Chief walked over to them, her hand on Dave’s back. That was interesting…Both had been divorced in the last couple of years. Maybe…Nah, it was none of his business what two consenting adults got up to.

He was musing when a soft voice behind him said, “I saw it.”

Randy turned to see an old friend. “Mr Foo!” He pumped the hand of restaurateur. “Long time no see.”

Foo smiled. “You’ve been a stranger, Sergeant Miller.”

“It’s Detective now,” Randy said with a grin, “and that’s because you closed the store. How’s Toronto? You just back visiting?”

The old man looked perplexed. Randy’s brow furrowed; the old man had retired, maybe he had been diagnosed with dementia. Still, he was prepared to hear the old man out.

He flipped open his notebook. “So what did you see Mr Foo?”

“In the morning there was a cleaner, climbing up with ropes. It was strange, because it would be bad luck, cleaning out all the good built up during the maintenance last week. But they didn’t stop, just climbed to the top, and then the ropes were pulled up.”

People were gathering around them. The news had spread. Randy lead Mr Foo to a shadowed alcove. “Did you notice anything else closer to the shooting?”

“While we were waiting for the blessing of the lion dance, I saw a reflection. I thought it was a photographer.” Mr Foo’s face fell. “Then there was the shot.”

“Did you tell any of the officers on the street?”

Mr Foo’s expression had desperation in it. “I tried! There was chaos. No one listened.”

“Did you see where the person went?”

“Yes. They slid down behind the pole and ran down toward the park.”

“A terrible omen for the new year.” Mr Foo shook his head sadly. “Attempting to kill those who were going to bring some life back to Chinatown.”

A chill ran down Randy’s body. His girlfriend Mai was working on the redevelopment and she was here. He vaguely remembered her in the shower as he left. He had been here too. Why couldn’t he… Randy shrugged it off. He needed to focus.

He gave Dave a slap on the back. “I have a witness describing our shooter heading down Carrall Street. I’m going see if we have any more witnesses.”

Dave turned and glared. He always hated to be disturbed when contemplating a crime scene. He looked particularly haggard today.

Randy took the hint and backed off. He looked down at the streamers and bits of cabbage littering the street and trudged around Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s classical garden, which was locked up tight today. He snuck up to the one of the ornate wall decorations and looked into the cool and green space. He overheard some angry whispers in Chinese.

“They’re saying that a target was missed. That they got the boyfriend instead.”  Randy swirled around to see Mr Foo beside him.

He held a finger to his lips and shook his head. Mr Foo continued, albeit in a whisper, “The shooter is being sheltered by Chen, who hired him from Shanghai. He has family connections to the Triads at home.”

“They say he will be brought out of hiding tonight and fly home. If he can’t finish the job first.” Foo spread his thinning and still dark hair back over his head.

Chen ran the Chinese Cultural Centre. He’d been outspoken about not destroying the heritage of the area, even when the shop fronts were to be updated but remain in tact. Randy had witnessed more than a few of Mai’s heated exchanges in Mandarin with Mr Chen.  He had a few businesses on East Pender that stood to be shut during the closures and he was unhappy. Randy wouldn’t have thought it was worth killing for.

Randy looked up to find Foo had gone. He sauntered casually around to the cultural centre, past the red rimmed doors and windows. He doubled back and quick as a lick, jumped a metal fence beside the centre. Quietly he crept into the back, which adjoined the garden and was cool and quiet. He spotted a man exhaling the smoke of his cigarette, the garden filled with the spicy fragrance. This man was a stranger.

In front of him was a tablet, and on it was a face Randy was overly familiar with. He reached for his radio, but found it wasn’t responding. As silently as he could, he retreated, climbing back over the fence. The wind gusted and shook the mesh, but Randy was already off and running.

He raced to the crime scene, to find only the techs still finishing up the cleaning. He swore. Where had Dave gone. Up the street, he saw a familiar dark blue truck. He sprinted up there.

Dave sat curled in the front seat, his eyes glassy and unseeing. Randy knocked on the window. Dave looked right at him but didn’t acknowledge him. He looked down to his hands. He was rolling Randy’s badge over in his fingertips.

Randy’s hand went to his belt, but there was nothing there. He looked down, and noticed the dark spreading stain on his shirt. The world whirled and suddenly there were flashes of images. A dancing of colour as the dancers moved past. The pop of what he knew was a gun, and Mai’s boss crumpling to the ground. Moving to get directly in front of Mai, get her into a protected doorway and the sudden aching in his chest. Mai, white and screaming at him, her hands soft as ever on his face. Then the darkness.

He remembered now. Mr Foo had died, a few months after leaving for Toronto. A massive coronary. He remembered the flowers out the front of the store, the white streamers.

It was so cold to suddenly realise he was dead. And that there was nothing he could do to help Mai now…

Whispering Encyclopedia

Chuck Wendig’s at it again. His challenge is to roll a d20 (or use a random number generator) and get a title. 

Knowledge is never ultimately bad or ultimately good; it depends on the person who wields it.

Under the protection of the Medici in early Florence—for the Medici liked the power that came from controlling the collection of the rare and beautiful items—a young magician created a secret book of all he knew in the world, all the dark secrets of the family. He’d only meant to get them out of his head, where they caused him many sleepless nights and a crick in his neck from looking over his shoulder always.

In an airy room, high above the stink of the river, he toiled with a recipe that would remove the secrets from his head and protect them from anyone but himself. With the appropriate ideas, and a dash of flair, he cast the spell.

His Master had always been on at him about his grammar.

But instead of making the book beholden, it emboldened it and gave it a voice. A voice much like that of the youngest daughter of the reigning head of the Medici, in fact. She would have been charmed, if she’d ever known of its existence.

In a flash of premonition, the young wizard realized that this was not a sin that would be forgiven, and seeing as he had no idea how he’d created the spell, he would have no way to remove it. Excusing himself from the house, he disappeared from the city and was never seen again. His name was never known because the idea that he had ever existed had the Don in paroxysms of fury.

The Don had it buried with the Great Don, Cosimo, deep in the family crypt. He put in sound-barriers, had it sealed, but it never strayed far from its mind. In fact, the only time it got near him, it revealed to his wife that he was the one that had made her original betrothed…disappear.  So he buried it.

When archeologists discovered the lost crypt a millennia later, they didn’t at first find the book. It’s voice was old, cracked with underuse, and its tongue almost incomprehensible to the speakers of the modern language.

It was one young assistant who finally heard its calling, left when the head archeologists went to examine the exhumed bodies of the old world’s most powerful family. Beneath the decay of centuries, it fluttered its leaf, blowing the softest puff of dust, leading her straight to it.

She held the tome, caressing the ornate leather cover reverently with her gloved hands. It began to whisper to her, to woo her. At first Catherine Mendicino did not hear the words, but could not comprehend what it said; her experience with the written word held no sway with the unique pronunciations of the 13th century.

Gently, the book probed her secrets, relearning the language. Dizziness swept over Catherine, so she decided to call it a day, wrapping the book in protective coverings and putting it into her kit bag for delivery to the laboratory when the dizziness had passed. It was only a block away from the room she was staying in.

Lying in the cool room, a breeze wafting the curtains gently, the book spoke.

“Signora Caty,” it said to her in hushed tones from the bag on the table, “your mind is wonderful.”

Caty sat bolt upright in bed, almost falling off. “Who’s there?” She trembled.

“You have seen so many places. The world is so changed.” The book marvelled, the voice smothered a little by the confining wrappings.

Caty got out of bed, tip-toeing towards the corner of the room where the book lay. She looked out of the windows, behind the curtains, in cupboards. There was no one to be found. A tinkling laughter behind her and Caty whirled.

“Over here!” This time she could see the bag moving about as the book flapped its cover.

Caty was sure this had to be some kind of prank. Scientists were known to do that. She was fairly new to the team. That had to be it.

“Caty, get me out of here.” The bag shifted itself.

“Dio mio!” Caty went to the table, opened the bag and dropped the book on the table like it was on fire.

The book seemed to sigh happily as its pages rustled. “Thank you for freeing me.”

It flipped on its end again, the artwork of the cover facing her. “Now, put away those thoughts of trying to return me to those dusty old professors. This brave new world looks just like what I’ve always wanted. And if you do, I will tell them all about the blackmail you used to get on to the team here.”

Speechless, Caty’s mouth hung open. Her hands worried at her dusty tunic. “You have no proof. And, you’re a talking book!”

“That’s just the secret I will start with, Signora Mendicino. People will believe, eventually. But not if you take me everywhere with you. Let me explore the world, as you have.”

Caty stared out at the cityscape from her window, focusing on the famous dome of the Cathedral of Florence. The afternoon light was soft on her face, her brow furrowed as she chewed on her lip and thought about her next move. She was definitely going to pray at the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore later today for deliverance from her sins, which is definitely what brought this book to her.

“Did you know, you look an awful lot like Lorenzo Medici? Have you looked into your background? There’s definitely him in the shape of your brow and lips…”

Caty looked out the window at Florence. What was she going to do with a chattering show and tell of all her secrets?

“Don’t worry,” the book called to her. “It’s not just your secrets I know… You want to be a world famous archeologist?” The pages fluttered alluringly. “I know where all the bodies are buried…”



Best laid plans

Round four of Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: 200 Words at a Time. I took on one a few others had done, because it got under my skin. I may even finish it off if no one else takes it up, because I’ve got a clear ending in mind. 

The first 200 words were by Meagan Wilson and the second 200 were by Wanderer. The third batch by dangerdean. I had to give this a title; Round 4 is far enough along.

“Yes, this penthouse view is quite breathtaking,” I turned to the luscious blonde before me, “but not nearly as lovely as—”
A thunder clap, and then I was standing in a small, glowing circle, surrounded by a gaggle of chanting fools in robes.
“Oh great Sorasel im Palat, lord of fire and darkness, fell devourer of the innocent, conqueror of—” Arcane symbols covered the speaker’s robes, nearly obscuring the heavy crimson fabric.
“Yes, yes, get on with it.” I gestured with my gin martini.
He paused, then finished in a post-pubescent squeak, “We invoke thy true name and bid thee do our will.”
“Oh you do, do you? Well I want you to send me back. I was having a smashing time, and that girl may not have two brain cells to rub together, but she looked quite likely to do some rubbing together. If you know what I mean.”
The robe-wearers shuffled, and whispered amongst themselves. The leader piped up again.
“O great Sorasel im—“
“Stop that, stop that,” I interrupted. “Only my dad calls me that. I prefer my middle name. If you must speak, call me Stewart.”
More shuffling and whispering from my summoners.


“Oh great and mighty…Stewart….” the leader—whose pasty face was mostly spots—began again. “We bind thee to our will.”
I took a sip of my martini—extra dirty, extra olives—and raised an eyebrow at the little prat. Summoners used to know what they were doing. I looked at the floor where their demon trap was sloppily drawn with what smelled unmistakably like fresh, store-bought spray paint. I sighed. What happened to the blood of a virgin? Or even the vital fluids of an unwilling Christian priest? 
I noticed their silence; I could practically smell their fear—a mixture of piss and that foul deodorant that promised them flocks of women. I took another gulp of the martini—it was perfect. Almost as flawless as my blonde client who was no doubt currently working her minimal intelligence into a sweat in an effort to find me.
“Well? Get on with it.”
“We bound you, oh great Sora—er—Stewart.”
“I heard that part. So,” I made sure to smile with all of my teeth. “You’ve bound me. Congratulations. Now, what do you plan to do?”
“Jaime, this was your idea.” One of the other robed figures poked the leader.


“Yes…Jaime? You masterminded this escapade?” I drained the martini, and stared directly at Jaime.

“Oh great Stewart, we sumoned you because…um…” Jamie looked sheepish. “We want to get laid, like, a lot.” The chuckleheads voiced their agreement with grunts and high fives.

“You seriously summoned me because you want sex? Personal hygiene and asking a girl on a date didn’t work, so you decided ‘Meh. Let’s just summon a demon’?” A couple of them laughed, but were quickly silent.

“Well, you’ve taken the trouble to bring me here, and I’m bound to your will, but just because I’m feeling generous, I’m going to give you a short primer on demon invocation.” They looked at each other warily.

“There are five elements of a proper invocation. Three you have managed admirably. You have consecrated the space. I personally would have used something a little more visceral, but there’s no accounting for taste. I’m here, so obviously you have successfully invoked me, and of course, you have bound me to your will.” I looked down my nose at Jaime.

“The fourth element, however, is constraint. You must constrain the actions of the demon. That, my young friends, you have not done.”


I stared forlornly into my empty glass, twirling the delicate stem in my fingertips. I pursed my lips in thought, until I came to a fitting punishment.

“So here it is,” I drawled, pointing my glass slowly at each of them. “I’ll give you what you want, all the tail you need for the rest of your life.”

The goons grinned lasciviously and nudged each other, their eyes lit with the joy of their victory.

My own nasty smile emerged. “Tail being the operative word.”

Low and swift, the incantations curled into the still air of the basement. A fog swirled around the boy’s ankles, wrapping swiftly around them. Their grunts and looks of panic amused me. One even tried to run for the stairs.

As the smoke dissipated, I looked proudly upon the five antechinus bounding around my feet, chirping. I’d read an article about these sex-crazed marsupials* the week before. Sexual suicide; how fitting.

About to conjure up the female that would be their undoing, I was distracted by a set of delectable female legs descending the stairs.

“Stewart,” her voice purred. “How lovely to see you again.”

“Sorceress.” I inclined my head with a genuine smile.

Siren song

Irresistible temptation. A prompt from 642 things to write about.

With a voice and face like his, Joe Crash was born to be a star. Those baby blues peering out from a slightly weathered and shadowed face, a sly smile on that square-cut jaw. He could have been a poster-boy, but he employed a little select facial hair and a just-out-of-bed, tumbled, longer hair to turn him into just enough bad boy.

Anyone who’d ever seen him perform had quickening pulses at the fluidity of his svelte hip gyrations. His voice brought tears to eyes, brought people to their knees, had them frothing with sexual excitement. Even critics had problems finding flaws in his work and governments everywhere worried that his notes might be turned against them.

Joe created hysteria where ever he went. Not since The Beatles had people lined the streets. Of course, he waved with unconcerned casualness, signed all manner of autographs and generally kept to himself. Occasional dates with other celebrities ended up splashed on the tabloid pages but his private life remained remarkably private and he kept his past in the shadows.

Meredith had used all her industry favours to get a one-on-one interview with the man himself, while he was on tour in Sydney with his band, The Crows. She’d done her research and she was ready.

She took in her look in the mirror. Her dark hair was tousled, the outline of her eyes a smoky haze and her tight black pants and sweetheart spotted bustier topped it off. She slipped her red cropped jacket around her shoulder, splashed her favourite red on her lips and strode out the door.

Backstage she waited for an hour while Joe played a long encore for his fans. She could hear the distorted sounds of the band. She heard the click of his boots as he strode down the hall, the sounds distorted by the shuffle of another’s foot. Meredith was waiting next to a pillar, as still as the shadow that covered her. Joe saw her last minute and startled. Quickly, he collected his cool, and turned to the dainty blonde who he was leading backstage.

“Cleo, you’re going to have to excuse me. I forgot that my agent set me up with an interview.” He stroked her cheek gently as her face fell into a pout. “I’ll see you at the after party, sweet.”

Deftly, he slid the rectangular invite into her jeans pocket. She couldn’t have been more than 20, with this man whose age was pinned at around 35, and when she turned away, she looked dazed and confused. Joe whispered in her ear and she shuffled down the corridor.

“Helps with the image,” Joe shrugged as he entered the dressing room, gesturing to a spare chair for Meredith. “If you people want to be with you, or be you.”

With a clean pull, he yanked off the stage-sweaty t-shirt, of course deliberately giving Meredith the unadulterated view of his lithe body. He smirked and remarked, “I probably should have asked first. Sorry, not used to having professionals here after my gigs.”

Meredith waved it off, made a deliberate effort to get out her notebook. “But you are used to having women in here after though?”

Joe’s grin turned predatory for a moment before he dialled it back to an expression they used in her business called “boys being boys”; a fake apologetic grin followed by a look of helplessness. “I’m single, hopefully they are too. Life is too short for hang-ups, Miss…”

“Meredith.” She leaned forward, extending her hand, so he had to come to her. The stiffness in his back afterwards showed she was ruffling his feathers a little bit. He turned away from her to wipe his face with a towel and shrug into a shirt.

Joe buttoned up the wrinkled, grungy collared shirt, before flicking his hair up in the mirror and turning back to her. The wickedness was gone; clearly this time he was going for the open and honest assault. “So, I guess we’re here to talk my tour and the upcoming album.”

Meredith’s smile was correspondingly warm. “I thought we’d actually have a chat about the little chits you’ve been killing.” She watched Joe’s eyes harden as she continued, “I guess Chloe, or was it Cleo, is your next mark.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” His voice held a threat equally as deadly as the hissing of the cobra.

“I know who you are Mr Crash. Or should I say, more specifically, what.” Meredith leant back, her eyes never leaving the singer.

“And what is that?” His arms crossed, surprisingly well-muscled for a man of his weight.

“A siren.”

His laughter was too loud, too hard and too sudden. “I think you might just be mad, Meredith.” He picked up a phone. “Last time I do any favours for Stan.”

As he dialled, Meredith played a video. One she’d paid a lot of money to get her hands on. The edge of a show, about two years prior, a girl escorted from the crowd. In the darkness at side of stage, you could see him. His face in picture perfect quality. And as they turned away together,  he transformed, becoming the monster she knew he was.

“Killing James McGrath without having the proof was sloppy,” she said as she stroked her iPhone and he put the phone down. “But leaving a trail of missing girls behind your tours is worse.”

“That is fraud, that video,” he said, his exterior calm a signal to let her know he was getting ready to attack.

“It’s no fake, Joe, or should I say Okeanos.” She did not fail to see him start. “It’s a long way to fall from Olympus.”

Meredith stood, near the door but close enough to strike if needed. “Not enough sacrifices to keep you in these times?”

Joe turned back to the mirror. “A God has to survive somehow.”

“So you know the truth.” He turned again, flung his arms out wide. “You know, now I have to kill you.”

“You can try.”

Ever so softly, Joe sung as he circled. Meredith recognised the ancient words; he was singing of weakness and frailty, appealing directly to her human body. He didn’t recognise then, the jewellery she work, the ear cuffs that protected her from the beauty of his song.

She came back at him, singing the song back, twisting the melody back on him. He began to slow, looking tired and old. When he realised, he threw a chair, which Meredith nimbly dodged, causing it to crash and shatter the mirror behind her. She sang further, weaving the molecules of his body out, pushing the supernatural to his periphery. She would get only one shot at him.

His lunge came, his hands aiming for her throat. She dodged and he went sprawling on the ground. Swiftly, she pinned him there, fastening him tight.

“What are you?” he whispered into the tiles, still in disbelief at where he was.

“Once, I was one of your many slaves. One of the beautiful women your seas stole and turned into the nymphs, the sirens.”

“When your power dwindled, it freed me. But I never forgot the horrors you made me watch, the sailors you made us drown in your incessant drive for power.”

“I promised myself that when I escaped, I would find you.” Meredith gently stroked his hair back from his face. “Don’t worry, your end will be a lot less painful than theirs.”

Meredith opened her mouth and began to sing. The story of the thousand ships, of the lives ebbing beneath waves escaped from her. She went on to talk about the drawing of power, the stealing of a soul.

He was grey beneath her when she stopped, his chest heaving with his last breaths. A faltering smile crossed his face before it stilled forever.

Meredith removed herself, taking the back passageways out. No one would remember she was here, that she got this interview;  her melodies had made sure of that.

When the news reported Joe Crash’s death of a heart attack the next day, Meredith leaned back with a smile, feeling his invincibility in the singing of her blood. Today, her revenge was complete.

Scarlet woman

Thin tendrils of mist writhe over the gently lapping water and I stand on the dock, waiting. In my blood, I can feel the thrum of the waiting evening, the dark things uncoiling in the grey, moving unseen in the falling night. Beside me, my malamute Loupe watched, his sharp blue eyes on the shifting around us.

The ferry chugs toward me, drawn by the scarlet allure of my hood, the single point of brightness in the fog. A quiet and drawn young man holds the boat as I step on, and I make small talk as we cross. The flickering of the light on the water gives the youthful face a gravity and solemnity as he talks sparingly. I can see what sort of man he would become in a snapshot.

My footsteps on the boardwalk are a hollow sort of sound, lonely, until my companion’s crisp  scrapes sound beside me. We take a break at a bar, where I nurse a vanilla vodka on the rocks, crisp and clear on my palate, the sweetness my balm to the workings of the world.

I watch a couple inside, intimacy drawing them together over the cliche flickering candle, a warmth and relaxation in their faces evident from what I assume is the wine in those glasses. Loupe’s dark-rimmed ears flick back and forth, his black nose twitching. I rubbed him with my foot; I could feel it too.

Leaving my tumbler empty, I walk. We cross the old tram tracks, over the cobbled streets, wandering along deserted shopping strips. The silence fills the cracks here; it is preternatural and wrong, out of place even on a lonely night like this.

Slipping out of the darkness a girl, her dark head down, wanders into the space. She seems not to notice the stillness, the emptiness. Behind her, it rises, its form neither masculine or feminine, much like the mist surrounding the island. The girl walks on, heeding neither me nor what stalks her. From an alley I watch as it gathers, coalescing, congealing, into a form like a human.

Long ago one of my forebears had been told to watch for the wolf, but it was never the wolf that was the trouble. Oh, the stories they tell all involve the wolf now. People prefer not to be reminded of what waited in the dark, what the small parts of our brain are afraid of when we can not see. The wolves are not that to be feared; treasured companions and keepers.

With a soft rustle of fabric, the girl pass me by, the blue light picking up the soft features of her face. A still forming hand reaches, and the ragged flash of glacier blue, sharp and hungry through the eons.

Charging with energy, my axe, that slid so well and familiar into my palm, lit the alley with silvery light. My nemesis turns a head as they glide past, and I see myself reflected, red coated and glowing, Loupe growling softly beside me.

I step into the cobbled alleyway, sounds lost in the vacuum that the fey brings. Justice sings in my blood, coursing through my limbs. It turns from its prey to face me, gashes for eyes glowing in the darkness.

“Little guardian,” in a voice like age coiling serpentine in the air, “you are far from home and all alone.”

“Not as far as you, fey, and not as hungry.”

It laughs, crisp and cold, with a mouth with the blackness and emptiness of space, as the expected face starts to devolve. “What will you do? Scratch me? You’re just a little girl. I am as old as time, older than your ancestors.”

“You’ve lived far too long then,” I heft my axe. “You need to be released back into the stars.”

It gathers and rushes at me, its edges a thousand slivers of glass. I may have a chance while it is still in a humanoid form. It limits its capabilities and I know where it will be hurt. Swirling out of the way, my cloak takes most of the damage, but a sliver slides cold against a cheek and my blood trickles warm against the cold of my skin.

The pike at the end of my axe has gashed it, a tar-like substance oozes from its malformed leg. With a hiss, it rushes again, icicles pelting through the air at me. A weave of garment lighter than mail but similar in strengths knocks aside the small ones that escape the pendulum of my axe but the bruises flower against my skin beneath. I step forward slow, wind gusting and howling. A well timed one-handed swipe and the body is slipping sideways. A growl of triumph and my companion, treading in my footsteps, shielded by my body, launches forward, his teeth bright daggers in the dark.

There is the sound like the ripping of wet sheets and with a judicious swing, crunching glass. Collapsing downward, a sail released and without the wind, it falls. Black goo bubbles and steams, burning up to nothing, released from existence.

My axe slides deftly beneath my coat, onto my back, and the wolf spits out the chunks he can. I acknowledge his service by kneeling, bending my head to his, and scratching the scruff of his neck.

“Why do they always say just a little girl?” I muse as we walk, the silence disappearing around us. “Do they not know what a girl can do?”

Loupe whines in what feels like sympathy.

I smile down at him. “Clearly, they haven’t met enough little girls.”

We walk into the night, side by side, the wolf and I.

Ingenuity and its fickle heart

On this week’s challenge at terrible minds, it’s mash-up time! I rolled16 &17 for Dieselpunk zombies!

“C’mon Jas,” she begged. “We need to get that foil running.”

Jas rolled out from under the foil, goggles glinting up at her. “May, I can’t do this any faster. But do scream if you see the chompers.”

May cocked the pistol, her wavy dark hair reflected in the shiny barrel. The last thing her Daddy had given her before the girls had left the compound. She aimed her barrel over at the edge of a deserted building, tested the sight. She turned quickly focusing on another crumbling and greying building, and halted, heart hammering in her throat. Tentative exploratory steps began a shuffle shamble. They were coming.

“Uh Jas,” May said, taking a faltering step backwards into the foil, “I think you’re running out of time.”

Jas rolled out and adjusted the lever on her goggles, zooming on the street. “Bugger. One sec.”

With some thunderous clunking under the foil, shaking the mast, the light-weight solar sail undulating and snapping, Jas got to fixing. May watched with increasing trepidation as the hoard closed in on their position.

“Jas…” The drawn out note of fear was enough, she hoped to get her friend moving.

There was a gentle hum as the sails came back on line, a flash on neon blue as they activated. Jas rolled out and jumped up, swinging to pick up the dolly. “See? I knew I could do it!” The smudge of grease on her cheek above her broad smile was adorable.

“Boat now. Gloat later.” May swung her long lead over the side and with ungainly movements slid it.

Jas turned. “Right.” With an elegant bound, she threw her light frame over the side of the foil.

With a flourish Jas stepped in behind the wheel. With a small lurch, the foil slid away from the sidewalk, sliding down the city streak, uneven where plants had forced themselves up through the bitumen, cracking it like a scab.

Only meters away, their shuffling and stumbling footsteps audible, the Lost followed them with glazed eyes in ravaged bodies, torn and the grey-green colour of a gangrene they didn’t feel, the slack-jawed gnawing of their incessantly hungry maws.  It was always the rusty blood on them that chilled May’s blood, or the red flag of a recent feed.

Once, the Lost had been people too; they had felt and laughed and danced. But all the evidence suggested a pruning off in the higher brain areas, reducing the Lost to base instinct. Their bodies sought to repair what was being lost, so they turned cannibal to ingest the easiest source. None of them lasted beyond a year; the flesh at the end became too decrepit.

They rose as one, a great swelling wave of hunger and desperation, gaining on the foil. Others trickled out, joining the surging mass, their pursuit the drumbeat that underscored the fearful beating of the girls’ hearts. The Lost were gaining.

Levelling her pistol, May swallowed her guilt, knowing that they no longer could feel, and started to pick off the leaders with potshots. They went down, rolled right under the feet of the crowd, but others surged forward.

“Don’t mean to hurry you or anything Jas, but they’ll be on top of us in seconds if we don’t HURRY THE HELL UP.”

Jas turned, her long honey brown hair trailing in the wind. “This just turned into a fun outing!”

With a wide swing around the corner, Jas turned the boat down a side street, the foil rolling faster as gravity pushed her with ardour. May could see the shining mass they were barrelling towards.

“Jas.” Her tone was wary, her hand gripped a hand hold, her gun waving at the end of her outstretched arm as she took out another few of their pursuers. “Jas!”

Cackling loudly at the wheel, Jas steered them directly at it. Any moment now they would crash into the water.


They flew in the air for a moment, before slamming into the surface of the water, a green wave washing over them and the deck. A family of ducks, disturbed, buffeted them with the air from their wings, quacking angrily at being disturbed.

As May removed herself from being moulded about the central cabin area, she looked up to see Jas’ triumphant expression as she flicked a switch. Behind the foil came a little burble as an engine somewhere rumbled to life with a little puff of smoke, and they began to move forward.

May picked a piece of stinking weed from her hair and flung it over the side in disgust. “You couldn’t have just told me?”

“More fun this way.” Jas set her goggled eyes at the centre of the lake.

The girls lazed in the sun, their undead friends watching ravenously from the lakeside. Some tried to swim, but between their lack of coordination and lack of buoyancy, none got further than the shallows. Spread out, the rays warming and drying their young bodies, they rested quietly and contently with their shades on.

May sat up, and looked at her friend. Even with the sun on them, her friend’s skin had distinctly gotten paler.

“You feeling alright?” May stroked the silky waves Jas was drying on the deck.

Jas propped herself up. “Just fine, no problems.” The smug look returned. “Want to see what I’ve saved for the grand finale?”

May sat back, preparing to be amazed. It would have to be pretty special. Their hungry friends waited on most areas of the lake bank now. Jas unfolded a handle from the side of the wheelhouse, and as she cranked, the sails retracted and a spoked overhead propellor appeared. With a couple of hard and fast cranks, the engine growled into life, and the blades began to spin. They started to move forward on the water, and Jas pressed a button, allowing their wheel more freedom of movement for steering.

“Hold on.” Her eyes sparkled as May was relegated to a seat with a jerk. She circled around the lake, gaining momentum. On the last lap, staring down the Lost, she gunned it, pulling the wheel towards her. Slowly, ever so slowly, they gained altitude, passing close enough to knock over several of the waiting.

May laughed with joy as they rose up; the freedom, the ingenuity. In the clear and crisp air, they were soaring with the birds. This hadn’t happened since the Blood Years, when the Lost had first appeared. Flying was an art thought lost.

As May looked out, she noticed the foil listing slightly. She turned to Jas, slumped unmoving over the wheel.

“Darling!” Pulling her up, May set Jas on a seat, and pulled the foil to a wavering level.

“I think our day is done,” Jas shouted weakly over the rush of air. “This little clockwork heart has had just too much excitement.”

“Daddy can fix you!” May shouted, fumbling for the throttle. “Just hold on.”

With a small chuckle in the back of her throat, Jas watched her love take the wheel, always level headed in a crisis, even though she wasn’t sure where she was going.

“Second star on the right and straight on ’til morning.”

Jas’ eyes closed, her happiness all around her as together they touched the sky.


Like fluffy cotton wool, dyed grey and absorbing the sounds and smells of the world about, the fog descended on the city. Where it went, they went, silent footsteps down the streets and alleyways.

She is walking all alone, her confidence worn outside in the studded tattered vest with the patches of half a dozen angry punk bands on the outside and with the unbrushed, unwashed hair, dye faded over months, shoved under the dark beanie. It was the brash conversation with a friend, speaking of illicit things in a tone so loud people three back could hear, to this suddenly quiet person slipping down streets alone; it was this sudden change between that had attracted them.

Those that crept beneath the cover of the fog were the ones of legend that had been preying on the solitary, the weak, or those that would give them sport; these others had been driving the fog for thousands of years, feeding from the luckless around the Thames and in the deep, dark forests that the Hellenic and Celtic feared for exactly these predators and tricksters of lonely places. For centuries, they had drawn the fog with them like a screening cloak, used it for play and to disorient.

The girl turns, a sneer on her face. “All right. Who’s there?”

Her voice drowns in the muffling mist. A clang echoes by her feet, and she shrieks as something leaps out. A cat, a grey streak against the ground, yowling as it runs, as she should. But she lets go of her breath with a gush and laughs at her stupidity. But that feeling of eyes on her still lifts the sensitive hairs at the back of her neck, gets her heart hammering.

She continues on her way, distracted by the noise behind her, like a thousand autumn leaves tumbling together and crunching.

“Whoever you are, cut it out and piss off. I can defend myself, and I am not afraid of you.”

It’s like a hiss, the sound of their laughter, like the howling winds sneaking through a chink in the brickwork, chilling you to the bone.

The girl stalks onward, determined to get out of this alley. Ignoring all her instincts, the fear flooding through her veins with the adrenaline, she presses on.

Around her, tendrils of mist probe at the edges of her vest, tangle the strands of her hair. She jerks, a puppet dancing at the pulling of their strings.

“Who are you? Leave me alone.”

Frantic now, she stumbles into a run, desperate for the cross street she knows is ahead. Coalescing from the mist in front of her, swirling atom by atom, the shadowy figures form, laughing at her panic. Their shapes are grotesque, twisted, gnarled and deformed; millennia of their depravity transforming their outward appearance to match what lay within.

With taloned limbs, they reach as one, hissing with laughter as she screams and jerks from them. Surrounding her now, fog in between a barrier from the outside world, they creep in as she spins like a top, searching for a weak point. With a ferocity they enjoy, she launches herself at the littlest one, her fists flailing.

A bag drops to the ground with a thud. Above, a window opens, a head pops out. There are no more disturbing sounds. Shuffling painfully down an alleyway, an old man long down on his luck finds a bag. He rifles through it, takes the few notes, looks around. He drops the bag again, and scuttles off, tugging down the beanie and wrapping the jacket tight about him, cherishing the anonymity.

From the fog they watch. And they wait.

Whisper, continued.

This is a first and a real challenge for me. I have never written the ending to someone else’s short story, though I did collaborate when I was much, much younger (one day we’ll write that best-seller together, Maryam). 

This week, I am continuing in the challenge with Chuck Wendig over at his terribleminds blog to take someone else’s cliffhanger and continue it. I chose to write the ending to a story called Whisper, an intriguing piece by writer Margit Sage. Please take a look at her story before you read mine.

Raina picked her way timidly down the dank and dirty alley, looking sideways at the dingy bricks, hoping to find a door between the scrawling tags and tattered notices. Stepping over a murky puddle, she stumbled on the uneven ground and crashed into garbage, pieces of paper and refuse flying everywhere.

Picking herself up, and pulling a piece of towelette from her–what was that; don’t think about it–she turned with disgust and spotted the door. It was innocuous, badly faded boards with the scraps of what might have once been red paint, now a rusty streak here and there. As she got closer, she could see the gouges from where someone had tried to open it, probably with a crowbar. Beside the door, there was a plain black button beneath a grilled opening. Was it a buzzer?

Silence followed. A loud crackle made her step back. Somewhere overhead she heard a grinding, machinery on the move.

“Who’s there?” Almost as friendly as the reception she’d had in the cemetery.

“Ms. Edwinson. I am the executor of James Edwinson’s estate.”

The door creaked open. Raina wished, the first time she ever had, that there was–somebody–anybody waiting for her at home. She supposed she should have told her landlady, just in case. She peered into the dark opening, hearing clanking and the sliding of a big metallic door. A hush followed the gush of a hydraulic device, leaving Raina awkwardly contemplating escape.

“Ms. Edwinson?” A professional woman’s voice echoed from the chamber within.

Pressing her courage to the sticking-place insistently, Raina cleared her throat and stepped into the darkness. As her eyes adjusted, she could see a plump woman, hair drawn back, the highlighted edge or a pair of librarian-style glasses.

“Follow me.” With a sharp turn on her heel, and a quickness of step that had Raina almost running after her, the woman delved deeper into the building, to the light at the end of a wide corridor.

Catching up to the woman, Raina could see she was in her sixties, but sharply dressed. Definitely the gatekeeper.

“Excuse me, but I don’t think that I caught your name.”

With the tiniest smile, the woman replied. “You can call me Doctor McTaggart.”

Stepping into a light so bright it seared her retinas, Raina and the Doctor came to the end of the corridor.

“What is this place?” Raina could see people in private consultation rooms, their identities protected by frosted glass. An assistant came out, holding a vial of rich red blood.

“What we sell here, Ms. Edwinson, is a chance at immortality.”

Doctor McTaggart guided her into an elevator. Raina made sure she watched for the floors, so she knew her way out. At their floor, she drew aside one of the frosted doors and ushered Raina in. The room was comfortable, well appointed, sedate in dark browns and greens.

“Are those Mr. Edwinson’s ashes?”  With an authoritative gesture, she indicated that Raina was to hand them over.

“There’s a video for you to watch.”

Slowly, the room darkened and the temperature cooled. A screen dropped slowly from the ceiling. There was a blip, and there was her uncle, full of life. Raina guessed it had been made about 5 years ago. Probably around the time he was initially diagnosed with the cancer.

“Hello Raina. If you’re watching this, I’m probably dead. You probably have no idea what you’re doing here or what this facility is. I’m sorry about the secrecy but it’s part of my contract with them. Life Industries offer to make sure your memory is retained.” His laughter was tinny in the speakers. “I wish I could see your face right now. You’d have that serious little expression, with the knitted brows and wrinkle in your nose.”

Raina self-consciously changed expression, feeling as if someone were watching.

“Take it easy, Raina. Let an old man have his memories. This is part of my last will and testament, and accordingly, I bequeath my entire estate to the last surviving member of my kin, my niece, Ms. Raina Edwinson.”

A little knot in that had been building in her stomach since that discovery in the safe loosened. She hadn’t wanted the family estate or responsibilities, but the thought of it going to someone who didn’t understand the significance of their history would have upset her.

“I assume someone will be along with the all the corresponding paperwork soon, my dear. Now let me tell you what I’ve done.” The image of her uncle began playing with a dirty, great gem. “With my ashes, that by now, no doubt, the resourceful McTaggart has taken from you, I am to be formed into two gems. One will be for you to remember me by. The other my dear is going to be inscribed with some details about my honourable self; about what made me, well, me!”

“Take a look out the window,” he chortled, having a great time. “Look I say!” The image paused, and sighed. “Raina, you haven’t got all day.”

Hesitantly Raina made her way to a curtain on the far side of the room. Drawing it back, she saw a burning trail in the sky, a smoke tail lingering behind as it punched through the heavy grey cloud layer.

Her uncle’s video crowed, “Shot into space in a miniature rocket. My inscribed gem, some of my blood preserved for posterity, and a data chip all about me.”

Raina shook her head. Her uncle had some crackpot ideas, but this one really took the cake. A diamond on a rocket into space. Apparently he’d had too much time, and definitely too much money.

“Raina,” the voice was gentle, caring. “Take care of yourself. Look after our family’s legacy.”

The video blipped out, and Doctor McTaggart was back. One hand held a bulky envelope which undoubtedly held the will, an edited copy of the recording, and the gem they’d made from his ashes. In the other was a clipboard with a non-disclosure agreement.

Weary of forms, Raina scratched her name on the page and turned to leave.

With a strange and alarmed look on her face, Doctor McTaggart pressed her hand to her ear. “If you’ll please excuse me, there’s been an incident I have to attend to. One of my staff will collect you and escort you out momentarily.”

The door shut behind her with a decided click. Raina leaned against the wall. The door opened within a minute. “Time to go, Ms. Edwinson.”

In the silence of the elevator, the assistant hummed. Raina was exhausted and it was only as she was being left again in the dirty alleyway that she recognised it as Ride of Valkyries; her uncle’s favourite tune.

She looked up and into a face that appeared right out of her childhood memories.

“Uncle James?”

There was a crinkly smile, a wink, and the gentleman ducked past her and ran down the alley.