Short story Wednesday!

Kris here,

It’s sadly been a while since I’ve posted any short stories, so I figured I’d give it a go. I saw a 30 minute writing sprint pop up in a discord channel I’m subscribed to and Tina said “do it!”, then told me to write a Snowflake story. All I had were a pen and paper, but if my ancestors could do it, then dangit so can I. Snowflake is a snow wolf in the novel I’m writing and she’s been a favorite of anyone who’s read the story so far, so I wrote her last day before meeting our protagonist::
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Birds chirping merrily in the treetops were her first sensation.

Damn birds she growled.

She’d been up until the sun shone through the treetops hunting, those birds better have a good reason for making this much noise. Yawning quietly, she stretched liberally and padded off to find her pack.

Striding into the clearing, she sniffed tentatively. The strong haze of blood smothered her nostrils, stinging in the frigid air. The wind ruffled her fur pleasantly and took the odor with it, leaving her wanting for the spoils of last night. Curious, she allowed herself to follow the scent on the wind, keeping an eye out for her pack. They should be around here somewhere. The screaming started then, tingling along her spine like an itch.

Seemingly coming from nowhere and everywhere, the high pitched wail suffocated the forest with its persistence. The savage squealing was getting louder with every passing day, alongside whatever screeches and echoes it had accompanied these many, many days. Her pack had discussed hunting down the annoyance before it could become a threat, but surely they’d have awoken her before leaving? The unearthly wail cut short, a deafening silence rising to take its place. Snow crunching beneath her feet seemed to echo in the trees.

She returned to the cave to look for clues, and food. The place smelled heavily of fresh kills and dominance, but nothing abnormal. While she poked around, that shrill screaming started up once more, the caverns around her suddenly feeling much more threatening and malicious as they carried the echoes to and fro. She stalked outside, pinpointing the sounds’ source, determined to do whatever it took to shut it up for good.

A single howl, its baritone note piercing right through her, stilled her feet. The warning call signaled trouble.

Her pack!

The thought of her siblings blazed in the front of her mind. Flying off in a blur of powder and permafrost, she’d gone a hundred steps before she even realized she was moving. Ducking and leaping from side to side to avoid the thick, twisted branches that threatened to ensnare her frenzied journey, she sped at a breakneck pace until she could make out individual yelps just over the ridge. Relying on sound now to guide her path, she rounded the hilltop and ran into a fog of stench like a cave wall – the copper and earth smells mixing into an overwhelming cacophony of death. She bounded out of the scraggly winter foliage into a clearing and the blood froze in her veins.

In the valley below she made out a few of her own brothers and sisters alongside many pack-mates from further away. They were all locked in a lethal struggle with hideously deformed, yet diminutive little creatures. Their broad tails and beady eyes were but deformed mockeries. Wicked fangs jutted from every jaw, and dirty, clawed hands all gripped long branches that they used to keep the wolves at bay. She watched her only younger brother clamp down onto the throat of one of the monsters proudly. Her pride was replaced with grief, and then rage as he was surrounded and stabbed over and over with those same sticks.

Racing downhill like a scream, she barreled into the monsters attacking her brother in a flurry of teeth and claws, maiming 2 and feeling the snap of another’s neck before they backed out of range. She felt, more than heard, the growl of thanks from beneath her, and glanced down to see his eyes close for the last time. Her ears rang with the din of the anguished howl she didn’t remember starting. Anguish fueled the rage boiling inside her. She felt the sharpened spike scrape against her ribs as the monsters approached.

Come to me

She revealed the grin only the feast of a wolf can ever see, and tore one of the creatures in half before he could raise his accursed stick. The others raised theirs to ward her off, but she lodged them into herself with a leap and crashed down into the middle of them. The creatures hissed and snapped at her, the expression they kept when she separated them from their heads. Time slowed down and skipped by her all at once. Nothing existed outside this clearing, nothing mattered but revenge against those who dared to hunt her family. To hunt HER.

Seeing two of them carrying a dead wolf on their flattened tails, she sprang through the air, determined to kill them all at any cost. She crushed one beneath her into a fallen tree and watched it impale him, before realizing too late that she was next. Refusing to show pain, she motored her arms and legs, demanding them to work through sheer will. Those limbs refused her orders, weakly scratching the dead brute she lay atop.

Damn it!

She rocked the tree side to side in a vain effort to break it. She’d gathered quite a crown now and warily eyed the remaining bastards who encircled her. They tightened the circle just the tiniest bit too far and paid for it as she bit into the eyes of the biggest one. His screams rang into the darkening sky as he clutched at his face, yelling and hissing at those nearest him. They each backed away now, keeping a healthy distance. They squeaked and hissed at one another, before finally climbing the hill at her back. After a moment, the air was filled with the crunch of wood and an explosion of splinters rained all around her as they brought down a tree on top of her.

She watched as they stacked monster and wolf alike into a wheeled wooden box and disappeared into the shadowed wood. She growled, then whimpered, and sank into the darkness.

____

The snap of a branch whipped her into reality. Such a nice dream she was having, a pity she still lived.

She honed into the scent of an approaching…human? She watched through droopy eyes as it came closer. Another snapped branch made her twitch, setting off a river of pain flowing throughout her entire body. Growling, she narrowed her eyes as it approached, waiving a chunk of flesh…

Mark – 3 – Short story Saturday

Hi Ya’ll, Tina here again! I know you missed me.

Yeah last week was kinda left to the side lines. Kris was cleaning, I was getting to be mother to both of my boys at the same time and deal with my Still in training crazy pupper Izzy. Well, Now I am back home in my amazingly beautiful house(Thanks Kris!!!) and ready to get back to work. School has started back up and I am excited to finish out my very first year of college! Now, To continue the story of Mark and see where it goes.

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Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding. The bell chimed five times. The smell of smoke filled Mark’s nose as he took a deep breath in, waking up from his nap. He blinked his eyes and slowly looked around. The room was a deep rich brown color filled with Victorian looking decorations. It looked as if he had just stepped into a Sherlock Holmes novel. To be sure, it was one of his most cherished books as a kid and well into his adulthood. He could recite the various titles by heart and give you a run down of each one. He looked around the room and then down to his own two feet.

His shoes were nothing but some very soft looking house slippers. He was wearing loose fitting pajamas and a robe over a night shirt. He looked at his hands. The long lines and tawny strength of them gave him the faint memory of his teen years working around the small town he grew up in fixing things and helping with general projects. He was missing some scars that he had rightly acquired as a young man and they seemed to be much softer then he recalled.

The soft click of the door being opened brought him out of his self evaluation.

“Master Mark, Your dinner and Ms. Arthur are waiting in the dining room.” The soft, older voice of a woman called.

“Uh, Okay. Thank you very much!” The door shut and Mark stood up. As he did he spotted himself in the mirror above the fireplace. A younger looking man with the breath of youth still in his eyes was looking back. Mark realized that this dream was a nightmare, he was 16 again. No one wants that.

~~~~~

Walking into the dining room Mark took note of the man standing off to the side looking like a proper butler. Seated at the table was a beautiful young woman with golden waves of hair and an elegantly styled bun upon her head. She looked up and smiled. The smile and crinkle of her eyes reminded Mark of something foggy in the back of his mind.

“Oh, Mark dear! Have a seat, you must be famished.” The woman cooed.

Mark started to take a seat in the chair across from her on the side of the table. A curt cough echoed the room from the man near by. He lowered his hand and walked over to pull out the chair at the head of the table. Ms. Arthur’s face broke into a small grin. Mark scurried over to the chair, feeling slightly odd about taking the head seat at the table.

“Um, Ms. Arthur was it?” She nodded as plates were brought out. “What is going on? Why am I sitting at the head?”

Ms. Arthur’s smile faded, “Do you not remember anything? The conversation, the Trip, the conversion?” Mark shook his head. “Oh, dear, you must be so confused. Well, after we got here they gave you the age you had asked for and then reviewed your tastes to see where we might be best placed. I didn’t really have any preferences but they said for the job you were here to do, This would be the best setting and time placement.”

Mark shook his head as food was placed in front of him. A warm soup that smelled slightly sweet and savory. “I-I’m not quite sure what is going on. Can you explain more?”

Ms. Arthur thought for a moment and seemed to jump slightly in her chair as she though of an idea. She reached over and picked up a book from the floor next to her.

“Here, they said this should help you understand.”

Mark took the book and saw the words that were so familiar to him. ‘Tales of Sir Sherlock Holmes’.

Short Story Saturday the June’th

Kris here,

Komona is the final, unintroduced character played by our lovely roommate Watson. She’s a lady of …..quality, and, mystery.

_____

 

Komona’s bleary eyes opened hesitantly against the bright sunlight. She draped the comforter back over her head and stretched warmly in the darkness, soaking in the silence.

Her client was supposed to have woken her up before he left for the day, but she couldn’t hear any sign of him from her perch.

Hmm.

She rose and dressed, using the full length mirror against the wall to fix her mussed hair. It’s not like she were late for anything, but it would be nice to get out of here before the streets filled with people. Sighing, she crossed the room to her shoes and, after some last minute glancing down the halls, took the nicer pair hanging by the dresser and replaced them with her own. If someone noticed, she’d have to give them back. If no one noticed, she had a new pair of shoes. No harm in trying!

“Oh yes. OH YES.” They felt like wearing a masseuse made of clouds to rub your feet after every step. Time to make herself  scarce.

Komona floated through the hallway and down the stairs, moving through the house like a whisper. No sound from the front or the back. She strained her ears, listening for sounds of life. As she approached the kitchen, she heard a muffled banging from below.

What was that?

She entered the bright kitchen warily, cautiously stalking over to where she’d last heard the noise. Something felt…off. Where was the noise from the streets? The housekeepers?  Finally getting a good look outside, she was shocked to see it was already mid-afternoon. How long had she slept! Had her client found the sleeping poison she hid and used it on her?

She yanked the small knife holding her hair in place and checked the secret chamber. It looked full?

Yes, something was amiss.

CRACK

She leapt over the island behind her as the wall under the marble counters slammed itself almost in half.

“Who’s there?!”

She grabbed a heavy knife from the block on the island and came back around to investigate. What in the-

CRACK

Komona stared into a pair of lifeless eyes, frozen by fear. The maid’s pallid face pierced her with a hungry stare, lacerations and gouges covering the rest of the horrific head. Where did all that blood come from?

“Are you…Are you okay?”

The angry older woman growled at her and flailed at the rest of the wall keeping her trapped in the cellar, splintering it to pieces.

Wide-eyed and fearing for her life, Komona flew from the kitchen and out the front door as fast as humanly possible. She slammed the door open and bolted into the empty streets.

Wait. Empty streets? Her mind whirled a mile a minute. She stowed the knife she’d been fleeing with into a bag. Probably for the best something terrible was happening, it would’ve gotten her arrested to run about the rich quarter with a giant knife at hand. She made for the gate – best to get home to stow her payments.

But the gate was closed.

“Why is the gate closed!” She said it aloud more to make a little sound in the creepy stillness hanging over everything than to get a response. The gatehouse was closed anyway.

“That’s what we’d like to know too, but there’s nobody around to ask.”

The slender woman nearly jumped out of her new shoes. She whirled to face the woman who answered. Strong and dour, with two holstered cats at her side. The woman glared for a minute, sizing her up.

“Where did you come from anyway? We’ve been looking all over for anyone still living. Any others locked up where you came from?”

Komona looked around the stout woman to see the old man and small girl she was traveling with. “No. I suppose you three are the first living people I’ve seen today too. What happened around here? Where is everyone?”

The trio took a few minutes filling her in. A plague cure, people littering the streets like rats, the deafening quiet smothering the city.

“Wow, a lot of things happened while I was asleep. Is it really Tuesday? I’m beginning to think I overslept more than I realized. What are you guys planning from here now with everyone gone?”

“Ah, they’re around here somewhere all right. Damned rich folk always have a contingency plan up their sleeves somewhere. What are you doing here anyway? Surely you’ve seen something. Colby-Jack by the way, these are Tess and Fenton. What’s your name girl?”

Komona introduced herself. “I’m a …messenger. I was. Messenging?”

Fenton cackled until he couldn’t breathe. “A messenger she says!”

“Well Komona, you’re welcome to tag along with us if you like, especially since everyone in the main districts seem to be dead.”

“Just as long as she washes her hands!” Colby-Jack smacked Fenton’s arm and he collapsed into laughter once more.

 

Short Story Saturday

Tina here.

I don’t know about all you guys, but I am freaking loving the retelling of the campaign I play with my friends. If you don’t know already…. I am the pervy shoemaker. This week I have been feeling pretty gross and under the weather. So, as far as my story goes, I don’t know that I can really do any justice to providing a story. But bet your sweetest honey I am gonna try! Be warned, I asked my son for the type of story I am going to write. Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~MARK~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The flames flew high as Mark ran down the hallway to the last room. This apartment complex had been in need of some dire upgrades to keep this kind of thing from happening but in this part of town, upgrades were not high on the list of priorities.

The last door was registered to a Mrs. Karhu, an 80 something year old woman who had lived here for longer than anyone could remember. Mark checked the air flow under the door to be sure he wasn’t running into a bigger inferno and opened the door. The flames were not yet invading on this apartment that seemed to be stuck in the 1940s, but the heat from the rest of the building being on fire was making itself known.

“MRS. KARHU” Mark called out though his mask, then quietly listened for a response.

He walked toward the back and checked the other rooms. In the back bedroom was the old woman, dressed in her Sunday best and laying on the bed with a suitcase next to her. Sitting quietly next to her was a small girl with long white hair, who turned to look at the fireman as he marched toward them.

“We have to get you out of here!” He closed the door and opened a window to wave down the ladder truck. When he turned back around the old woman was gone along with her suitcase. Mark had not heard the door open or felt any of the things that might happen if they had with the windows open. “Where did she go?” The small girl just watched Mark move around the room looking in the bathroom and closet. The heat was increasing greatly and they were running out of time to escape.

Mark grabbed the small girl and headed to the window to the waiting firefighter. “I can’t find the old lady!”

“No time, your backed in, let’s go before the building comes down on you!” The firefighter hooked a harness to the girl and instructed her to start climbing down.

Mark took one last look around the room and went out the window.

Hours later and the fire had been quelled but the building had been damaged so badly that it could no longer stand on it’s own. With a small rumble and little fanfare, the building came down. Everyone was mostly accounted for and escorted to a temporary shelter as they got things in order. The little girl had been alone the whole time and when everyone started to part ways and find a bed the girl just stood there. Mark watched from afar and waited to see what would happen. The landlord had said that there was no record of the girl in their files and that the old woman had always lived alone as far as he knew.

The night wore on as the girl continued to stand in one spot and observe everything that was going on around her. Then at 3 am Mark looked over to see the girl staring right at him. Her eyes seeming to almost glow with a pale blue light.

“You must come back. They won’t move on.” An eerie voice called out. With that the little girl opened her hand and touched a small necklace.

The flames flew high as Mark ran down the hallway to the last room. This apartment complex had been in need of some dire upgrades to keep this kind of thing from happening but in this part of town, upgrades were not high on the list of priorities.

The last door was registered to a Mrs. Karhu, an 80 something year old woman who had lived here for longer than anyone could remember. Mark stopped. This – this was familiar. Had he not been here already?

The door swung open and an old lady and little girl were standing there holding hands. “Hello Mark.” The old lady ushered in the firefighter as if he was just paying a visit. Mark walked in and shut the door behind him. Suddenly the heat of the fire was gone.

“Mark dear, won’t you sit with us a moment?”

Mark looked around quickly, the carbon monoxide must have messed with their heads. “No ma’m, there is a fire and we need to get you two to safety now.” Mark made his way over to the windows in the living room and looked out. Outside it was a dark night with the city going on as it always had. Where were the trucks? The flames? The other rescued people?

“Mark, I think you had better sit down. Allow me to explain.”

Mark looked around and shook his head. Something was wrong. With long strides Mark reached the front door again and reached for the knob. However there was a strange little girl blocking the way.

“Mark, she doesn’t want you to leave. I think it would be best if you listened to us first.”

The man looked back at the old woman for a moment and thought about sitting down. This big suit was extremely heavy. He shook his head and turned to the door again seeing that the girl was now gone, he turned the knob and pulled it open.

“You must come back. They won’t move on.”

The flames flew high as Mark ran down the hallway to the last room. This apartment complex had been in need of some dire upgrades to keep this kind of thing from happening but in this part of town, upgrades were not high on the list of priorities.

The last door was registered to a Mrs. Karhu, an 80 something year old woman wh-, wait. This door. This woman. This feeling. Mark felt as if he had something crawling under his skin. He shut his eyes and upon opening them found himself sitting inside an apartment he had never been to before but seemed to know where everything was. Across from him sat an older lady who was pouring tea for three people.

“Mrs. Karhu?” Mark questioned.

“Hello again Mark.” the old woman smiled.

“What is going on?” Mark took off his helmet and sat it next to him.

“Well, it appears that you are expected.” The old lady smiled. “You see, I was one of those working class women. The few who never had a family because my job was my life. Well, my dedication and experience led me to be the best in my field. I started working for the government and well. Long story short, I met her.” Mrs. Karhu nodded to the little girl standing to the side.

Mark watched the small girl as she walked over and sat next to the elderly woman.

“Mark, You are exceptional.” She paused waiting for him to watch her again. “You are like myself. Someone who is needed. We have something that is missing from people like this girl.” The woman patted the girls hands that were folded on her lap.

“Sorry, but, I don’t think I understand. I am a firefighter. I am needed during emergencies.” Mark stated trying to shake this groggy feeling.

“That’s right Mark, but you are also a leader. Waiting to emerge from your cocoon.” The woman smiled. Mark noticed a suitcase next to the couch. There was another one that looked just like the one he used for his sparce traveling. “Mark, they want  you to come with us.”

Mark looked back to the woman and saw that standing behind her were three other people, two men and a woman, all dressed as if out of the 1940s and watching Mark.

“Where?”

The old lady giggled, “No, Mark, when. We are needed in the future.”

Mark looked the people over and figured he was just dreaming. “Sure. Why not. Do I get a T-shirt as a prize afterward?”

The old lady smiled. “I don’t think you really understand but they take everything at face value, so your approval has been accepted and we will start the process to leave soon. Right Elanor?”

The small girl nodded. Mark laughed and picked up his tea cup.

The lady from behind the couch spoke up. “What age would you like Mark?”

Mark looked shocked for a moment at the monotone voice that came out without any feeling. “Age?”

The old lady stepped in again. “Yes, you can pick what age you would like to be when we get there. Technology is so amazing! I am going for 25!”

(To be continued)

Short Zombie Saturday

Colby-Jack wiped the sweat from her eyes for the millionth time as she removed two more crusty loaves from the oven. The morning rush was frenzied and she was doggedly determined to catch up for the lunch rush. Although, judging from the sun, it should’ve started already. She cursed and remembered the rude city watchman who’d told her to clear out a few hours ago. Did he put a sign or something on her door? Better investigate. That son of a…You have the presence of mind to tell someone off one time in a position of power and they-

Bodies littered the street outside her door. Dead eyes open, uncaring, staring into the abyss of the sun. Well this doesn’t seem like it was the watchman’s doing. She waved her hands in someone’s face for a moment, but there was no reaction. His eyes didn’t even twitch. She pulled him bodily away from her shop; she didn’t want to be disrespectful to the dead, but she couldn’t have these people dying all over her livelihood.

Colby-Jack spent a few minutes investigating the streets a few up and a few down from her own. As far as the eye could see, rivers of motionless citizens polluted the pathways, lying face-down and face-up, however they fell she assumed. She retreated back to the store to gather some supplies. If there was a plague after all, then she’d better get to that East church. She wrapped up as much bread as she could comfortably carry and stowed it in a travel bag, then attached leads to Parmesan and Cheddar. The two cats were not pleased to have been awakened, and meowed grumpily.

“Get on with it, you lazies. It’s not like you’ve actually done anything that would necessitate the need for a nap in the first place.” She briskly walked the streets, the two cats keeping pace easily. The streets were devoid of any moving body, so it was relatively easy going.

The further East she got though, the more she found herself being forced to step over the bodies as they grew more and more densely populated on the city streets. “Jeez I bet the rich people probably just all rode carriages, the good for nothing-” Colby’s eyes narrowed. She scanned her surroundings quickly, looking for splashes of color, or at least clean clothes. All the souls surrounding her now were dressed in tatters and smocks, workman’s clothing that was shredded and dirty as sin.

“Ohhhhh.”

She huffed once, turned herself right around, and marched West. “I’ll bet those cheeky bastards are beside themselves right now, sitting around and sipping iced wine or reading a book about working or something. Ugh!” Grumbling to herself more for the noise than any actual anger she felt, she made good time and found herself back at the city center before long. The rich folk were all locked up in a walled section of the city, but surely one of them needed a new baker while everyone was dying in the streets?

“What’s an ankle like you doin’ in a shoe like that, girl!”

Colby stopped short. “Ex..Excuse me?”

An old guy with a smaller pack stood hunched over in the street, examining her footwear.

“Y’got no arch support. Where’s the cushioning? Your shoes ain’t got no sole. Eh HEH HEH!” The old guy rubbed his hands together greedily while he chuckled to himself.

“Ugh, who are you?” Colby-Jack took a few healthy strides, taking care to hide her cats.

“Ol’ Fenton Shoemaester, at your service. I’ve got a 6 at my place with YOUR name on it missy, let me take you home right quick.” Grunting with oldness, Fenton heaved himself to his feet and started leading the way East.

Colby noticed they weren’t actually the only two walking around – she must’ve been more distracted than she realized.

“Uh, thanks Fenton, but no thanks. There’s a bit of a situation happening right now in town, not sure if you’d noticed. Nobody with fancy clothes is lying around so I figured those guys are holed up behind their wall, living the high life. I’m heading that way so I’m afraid I don’t have time for shoes.”

Fenton gasped in reply to her sacrilege and opened his mouth to reply.

“Excuse me”

A sweet voice drifting over the breeze shut his mouth before his reply, however.

“Have either of you seen any of the officials around? I was hoping to get some information that might help the congregation at THE LORD’s church. Everyone is so sick, I’d heard there was a cure.” A young lady in the soft layers of a church’s apprentice approached tentatively.

Fenton’s eyes did some wandering while Colby spoke up. “Nay girl, I’ve not seen anyone coherent until this man here started talking about- GET AWAY FROM THERE!” The baker brandished a baguette, beating the old man’s grubby hands from the poor girls’ feet. “She’s been through enough without a wackjob trying to get her out of her shoes so early in the day, Mr. Shoemaester if you please!”

Fenton guffawed into the quiet streets as he allowed himself to be shooed away. “Now now baker woman, either we’re all going to die, or we’re going to be on our own for some time. It would be nice to have some comfortable shoes either way – wouldn’t it? Make ya feel better. Give you spunk! My place is right on the way to the rich folk, c’mon let’s swing on by and I’ll prove it.”

***

An hour later, the two women sat in his small sitting room atop comfy chairs.

“Old man, I’m a bit taken aback. It’s like walking on air.” Colby paced the room in the new boots, somewhat at a loss. “Did you have to put these giant holes in the sides though? It feels a might chilly to be wearing things like this around.” Glancing to the younger girls’ shoes, she wasn’t surprised to see it cover even less.

“Fenton they’re wonderful, how much do they cost?”

He waved the young lady’s hands from the laces. “Don’t be silly, don’t be silly! It’s the apocolypse, I wouldn’t dream of charging you. These weren’t for sale anyhow, I was just waiting to meet the right feet. What’s your name, anyhow?”

“Tess Prees, from the church of THE LORD by the north wall.”

“Lovely to meet you Tess.” Colby stood and moved to the door. “I was just on my way to make the rich people let me stay with one of them. If the cure is anywhere, it’s going to be holed up with those fools, not distributed to the poor people now conveniently as far away from the wealthy district as they can be. Don’t you agree?”

It did make more sense than the Vitsuata church handing out tens of thousands of antidotes for free. “I suppose you’re right. So you think they’ll listen to us though?”

“I don’t care, that’s where I’m going. Come along if you like.” With that, Colby-Jack whisked out the door, cats in tow.

“Okay sure, might as well try something.” Tess hurried out the door after her.

“Wait for me!” Fenton snatched up the sketchbook under his desk and shoved it into his bag as he rushed after them.

Shrt Stry Strdy

Tina Here

Well, It is here again. Saturday. Right after Friday. Like clockwork. Can you tell I have nothing much to say today? This post is late because I was working with Pflugerville Pets Alive at their adoption event and was bogged down with the task of playing with 16 puppies. It was so terrible, I loved every minute of it, doing it again next week. With that being said, I did boast a little about my writing so I guess I better put up or shut up.

So today will be a spooky one, since it has been awhile for one of those.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

The old wooden floors moaned at the intruder. The shadowy figure paused to listen. No other noises started up, so he continued toward the bedroom. Secure the parents, secure the kids, take the load, get the hell out of town. Simple job, rich family, easy money. The thoughts flowed out of him like a mantra. Really, he should consider himself more of a robin hood type. He was taking back the riches given to this blowhard normally given to the guys who hired him. Not that they would ever take responsibility for hiring him, but that was the norm.

Gliding down the hallway, he stopped at the sound of harsh breathing. His heart raced as he turned his head, fearing the worst. There stood a small boy, no older than 7. His light hair and dark eyes shadowed in darkness. His smile, however, was as bright as day.

Panicking, he almost yelled in surprise. The boy shook his head and smiled, leading the man down the hall. His hand was cold, and clammy. Like he had just washed them after a midnight pee. Did this boy think he was here to play? Why didn’t he alert his parents? The boy pointed to his room with the door slightly open. They continued to the room as the man thought of ways to secure him without alerting the parents.

The boy walked into a room that was decked out with all the latest tech gadgets any young boy dreamt of. He stood over the fish tank near the bed, watching with intensity. The man, true to his profession, searched the room for ways to secure the child. Something to mute his cries, something to hold him still. He had zip ties he could attach after getting him quiet. His eyes wondered the desk littered with game systems, a jar of money, action figures. Comic books covered the bookshelf with abandoned educational books. He spotted a closet that was slightly ajar, a jump rope leaking out the bottom like a forgotten snake. The man smiled as he eyed a basket of laundry with freshly rolled socks on top. Picking both up, he turned back to an empty room. The boy was gone.

Panicking that the boy had gone to wake his parents, he ran out the door, almost bowling over the boy looking up a set of stairs that had been hidden behind a door. The man grasped empty air as the boy dashed silently up the stairs. Swearing at all the saints he remembered, he took off up the stairs. Cursing his luck and this kid. Cresting the stairs, he saw the child looking at a wall. The boy smiled and walked out of sight. As the man gave chase, he stopped short at the edge of the pool of blood. Mother, Father, Sister and Brother all embraced on an old couch in a loving family pose, mussed hair and pajamas worse for wear. Upon further inspection, he saw the father and mother were bound. Sister was leaning on the mother’s shoulder. The boy sat holding a jump rope. The man looked to the jump rope in his own hands only to find a crowbar, dripping with blood.

Dropping the crowbar to the floor, he looked up to find them all staring at him. Smiling like he was a photographer, about to snap a picture. He took a step back into something solid. Turning his head slowly to keep the family in view, he noted the door was now directly behind him. The one from down the stairs. The man whipped back around to find the boy in front of him again, offering the jump rope. The man shook as warm liquid trickled down his leg. He noticed the rope burns around the boy’s neck. Looking back to the family, he saw they were all looking angrily at the boy. He looked backed to the smiling child with the jump rope. Terrified, he found the other family members had now risen, standing much closer, as if coming for the child. The man couldn’t blink, couldn’t move. Suddenly, he felt tight. The boy had his arms wrapped around his waist. The man glanced at the boy’s smiling face, while the boy wrapped the rope around him. His eyes darted to the family, frozen even closer. Reaching for the child, as if to snatch him.

With that, the man was pushed backwards, and just kept falling.

Police lights flashed against the marbled main entrance to the beautiful home. Four body bags were taken out by gurney and loaded up, on their way to the morgue. The police stood by and watched large men in smocks buckling the last latch on the stranger they found hanging over the bodies, speaking gibberish.

“You know, I’m almost keen to believe him.”

“What, that they set him up? That they fought over him? Or that the boy was saving him?”

“Nah, that he was breaking in here to steal stuff, but that they stole from him.” After a sip of coffee, “Seems to me that alive or dead, they stole his sanity.”

Huffy laughter followed as they followed the muzzled and bound perpetrator out of the house.

Short story saturdays, Z(ombie) style

Kris here,

Remember that one time a long time ago when I wrote the start of what I wanted to make a little mini-series of? The guy with the friend and he was sick, and his friend, well, ate a guy? Yeah that one. Forget all about it! I mapped out a story pretty far, but I wanted to write a different story instead and since it’s about zombies too, well that’s too much zombie. It doesn’t work in stories like in real life; you can’t swarm a reader with zombie stories to eat their brains.

So here’s a different story don’t even worry about it. I stole found a cool idea for a Pathfinder (TTRPG) game and I went for it! Now I’m going to write about it in a hopefully entertaining manner, though even I’m not 100% sure how the story will go.

_____________________

THUD

Fenton Shoemaester nearly jumped out of his skin as something plowed into the other side of his front door. He hastily stowed the sketchbook full of ankles he’d been rifling through and went to the door.

“Yes?”

Dark rimmed eyes gazed through him, the heavy man on the porch breathing heavily a moment. “Kind sir, I need to buy a pair o’ shoes to wear. Do you have any in hand?” Heaving for air, the ragged stranger wheezed into the front sitting room and sat against the wall.

“Oi lad, sure I can cobble something up for you quick enough, how’s about a week from today?”

Those dark eyes widened in alarm. “Can ye do it any faster? My old pop’s funeral is to be today I’m afraid. Passed sometime overnight-” Stopped briefly by a fit of coughing, he spit blood onto the floor and continued. “He passed sometime overnight I’m ‘fraid, the whole family is in a state just like me. We have to do it while we still have the strength. We can’t just leave him in bed for weeks like old ma!”

Lip curled as he eyed the mess, Fenton thought quickly. “Aye, I suppose you’re about what, a seven? A nine? I bet I’ve something I can use to get rid of you with. That you can use I mean.” The old man perused his storeroom for several long minutes during which he desperately hoped the man survived. Finally, he found the pair. “Here we are good man, I believe these will suit you just fine. I take 2 silver for the pair or if ya only got one leg, you get half off! Ah ha! Ahahaha!”

Blearily the other groped his pockets and fished up two silver coins, not even a courtesy laugh the whole while. Another fit of coughing later and he shut the door with an old pair of shoes in hand. Fenton snatched up an old rag ready to be thrown away from a dusty corner and tossed it at the mess on the floor. “There better be plenty of young ladies needing shoes this season, I swear. This shop will be the death of me!” Growling and grumbling to himself, the old man hurled the filth into the early morning streets to be washed away by the river of people that would break through in a few hours.

Noticing the clothier next door to him was sitting on her porch, Fenton invited himself over and took a quick peek down. Ah, that leather-and-lace affair he’d crafted up for her some years ago. Perfection! “Hello Claudia, little early isn’t it?”

“Ah, Mr. Shoemaester it is good to see you. I sleep warmly in my down blankets these cold nights, but a man come and does not read my ‘go away’ sign. He ask me to make a suit for a pittance by this afternoon! Pshaw I tell him, I have nothing for you here, begone! I think he carries a dark sickness in him and I do not want him infecting the spirits of the lace.”

“Oh yeah that would be a real shame. Lace is hard to make! He came over to buy shoes a few minutes ago too and I felt the same way. I didn’t want him in there taintin’ up the soles ya know.”

Claudia slowly leveled her gaze at Fenton while he guffawed himself right off the porch. “Mr. Shoemaester, it is good that you have such a source of laughter. It is a pity you cannot share this with the rest of us.”

The geezer sauntered back over to his shoe shop wiping a tear from his eye, waving goodbye to his old friend until next time.

 

*********

 

“The LORD hath delivered unto ME… a message, my people! A message for YOU! He doth guide me the righteous path of…RIGHTEOUSNESS I say, to protect all of you! All of you powerful common folk who come into his house. I recognize each of you, let me tell you. I know everyone, and we love each of you dearly. Myself that is, and THE LORD above!”

Tess wiped the droplets of sweat from her brow as she finally finished sweeping the nave. How oddly silent it was today. She paused a moment to listen to the sermon before stepping to the front porch to beat out the broom. She could never fathom how dirty the inside of the church could be after being cleaned once a week. Surely someone must be tracking dust in purposefully?

“Miss, can you help my dear mum? She is unwell!”

She was jerked from her daydream by an older woman standing over an elderly woman laying against the steps to the church. “I worry her time has come, but we weren’t able to reach inside the church in time. Might you help me get her inside?”

Tess took a step down the stairs but halted. She’d been caught up in her reverie a few minutes before and had missed the bodies lying in the streets. Glassy eyed and staring to the heavens, young and old alike sat against the close-knit buildings or just lie uncaring in the streets as far as the eye could see. “Dear woman, I’ll gladly help. I’ll lift her arms and chest, be sure her feet don’t drag or catch on the doorframe.”

Grunting and heaving ensued. The old woman was surprisingly heavy and the two women had trouble just lifting her to the top of the stairs. After a moment, a new voice joined the fray.

“‘Allo madams, might I lend a hand here?”

A strong youth fitted in hard leather and bearing an unlit torch strode in from a side street. He hefted the semi-conscious old woman onto his shoulders easily, setting her inside on a pew near the door.

“Thank you so much for your assistance kind sir.” Tess curtsied and retrieved the broom leaning against the outside of the door.

“My pleasure miss. I’m making the rounds this morning anyway. His Lordship has called for all citizens to make their way to the Eastern church of Vitsuata with all haste. As you’ve noticed, there’s a plague spreading through the city, and the Vitsuata alchemists have devised a cure I’m told. That’s what his Lordship told us all anyway. We’re to gather near the east church to be given the cure. Please inform the Father while I continue my rounds.”

“Of course officer, I’ll let them know right away. Thank you!” Tess escorted the young guard back outside and saw him off, then returned to the marble pulpit at the center inside.

“Dear father, I don’t wish to interrupt you today but I thought you ought to know, -” She delivered the guards’ words to the priest atop the stage and told him her own observations outside earlier.

“So a plague is it? That must be what’s wrong with the crowds today Tess. I was sure of it, not a single cheer for the LORD has been risen today. That hussie of a god Vitsua must be responsible of course, why else would they offer a cure? Bah!” Father Maximus wrung the sweat from his long beard and then used it to wipe his face. “I should have known those good for nothing leeches would cause problems one day, I must obtain an augurie before we leave the safety of our home. Tess, protect our flock!”

With that, the sturdy old man whisked himself to the basement.