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Nobody knew his name.

A giant, he towered over everyone. Over seven feet tall, bare chested and bedraggled, blood lust in his eyes and a man-sized broadsword in one meaty fist. His men stood apart from him, afraid of both the creature himself and the havoc he would create once battle commenced.
Known only as “War” because people were convinced he was one of the Worldenders, the barbarian feared nothing. Destruction was his birthright and he revelled in it.
He looked out over the plain, beyond the dirt and dead grass, surveying the enemy host lining up opposite them. Numbering nearly a thousand, they would have been even in number if it weren’t for him.

 

 

 

It has been a long time since my last post here. For one reason or another, writing had become difficult for me and my confidence waned. Now that I have dealt with that and am becoming happier in my writing beliefs, I hope to write more.

I have many ideas rattling around in this brain of mine, one of which is seen above, at least the beginning of it anyway.

Fear Itself came from an initial attempt at writing a 750 word story for submission to a competition but ultimately grew into something much larger, something that I may develop into a much longer story.

I have started a new short story, again finding that it has already grown into something much larger. I will post an excerpt of that too, in the very near future.

 

Make no mistake, this is a resurrection for both my writing and this blog.

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The night had been uneventful. Perhaps they had finally learned to fear him, the way it should be.

He stalked the rooftops anyway, watching the humans scuttle about like insects on the street below. Scared shadows darted through circles of light beneath street lamps, knowing their place at the bottom of the food chain.

A lone truck headed toward town, bright headlights preceding its speedy arrival.

 Too speedy.

The ground began to shake, shockwaves causing the buildings to tremble and knock him off balance. Steadying himself, he watched as showers of dirt and concrete spat from the earth behind the speeding truck, concealing some terrible form, its colossal shape lunging in and out of the ground in the ever-expanding storm of debris.

Another explosion of dirt detonated behind the truck, causing the driver to lose control. Tyres squealing, rubber grinding uselessly against uneven ground, it jackknifed.

From the shower of asphalt and earth, a screaming beast emerged. A wyrm, its maw unfolding like toothed wings in an unholy shriek, reared out of the ground. Time seemed to slow to a crawl as the monster arced through the air, its snake-like body a skyscraper in length and girth. With impossible quickness, it crashed through the concrete road, the truck obliterated by the cataclysmic force.

Watching the spectacle unfold below, he grinned. Breaking into a run, then a sprint, he calculated where the wyrm would emerge. Sure enough, it shattered the asphalt below, the violent quake almost obliterating the structures around it.

Pulling the barbed metal whip from his belt, he leapt from the crumbling rooftop.

Aiming for the beast’s gaping maw.
The night was about to get interesting, after all.

 

 

Once again, I’d like to apologise for the poor formatting. No matter what I do, WordPress makes a mess of the formatting, creating odd spacing between lines and often completely ignoring indentations and the like.

Hopefully you’ll forgive these issues and just enjoy the story.

New year, new writing.

This year will be one of creativity and forward movement. I have a novel to get published, another one to start writing and I’m also going to be starting my career in gaming journalism (there will be a new blog for that soon, so keep an eye out if that’s your thing!).

 

But it’s time for the new stuff. Here’s my latest short story, which began as an experiment with a new writing style and ended as a new idea for one of my existing characters.

It’s a bit darker than my usual material, with more swearing and violence than you might normally see, but I hope that doesn’t offend you enough to stop you having a read!

Please feel free to give feedback (in fact, I actively encourage it) though I will apologise now for the formatting – I’ve had no end of trouble trying to format it for WordPress, but this is the best I could do for the moment…

 

 

Fire In Her Eyes

“Goddamn it!” Jorl was complaining about something again. He was always annoyed about something. Give him a world filled with beautiful women wanted fucking, he’d find something wrong with it.

He had a point this time, though.

Our target was down at the bottom of the valley, where the snaking dirt road met a small village. Rocks and loose stones would make the trip down dicey, but the worst part was the dozen mercenaries camped within the mass of log structures.

Thade’s men.

“Goddamn it,” Jorl complained again.

Not many people realised it, but Jorl was no regular warrior. No regular man, as it happens. He had spent many years as an elite soldier for the previous King of the Northlands, only no records would ever tell of Jorl’s exploits. Only myth and legend remained.
His massive hand covered my shoulder – and then some – as he drew up behind me. “Stay here,” was all he said. After that business in the Drift, I knew to listen when he said that.

Jorl was almost a caricature of a man, his size would be comical if he weren’t so damn fearsome. He stood a good couple of feet taller than any normal man, with shoulders broader than a man is tall, arms like tree trunks and hands that could reach fully around the waist of many a serving wench – and had, time and again. With fingers thick as his, it’s no wonder women loved him.

His caricatured looks weren’t solely confined to his torso, neither. His mouth was hidden behind so much beard that when he spoke, you’d swear there was an echo off the cavernous hair. His legs were amusingly stumpy too, or would be if he wasn’t so unnaturally fast on them. I’ve seen him outrun deer, leaping on them like a ravenous lion, though at least he used a blade to kill them quickly rather than sinking his teeth into them.

His size belied his stealth, however, as the mercenaries below would soon discover.

Jorl had trained me to see like he did, like the fabled cat people of Athrine, seeing in the dark almost as easily as in daylight. It was the only reason I could see him stalking his prey.

The sun had left the world in gloom, ghostlight taking its place and leaving the village a grey mass of shacks, the odd burning ball of orange signifying the torches illuminating the dirt roads between.

Dressed in his darkest browns and greys, Jorl was a shadow moving through the trees to my left, down the treacherous slope toward the village. He pulled the bow from around his chest, lifting it over his head and knocking an arrow in one smooth motion.

The man was an artist with a bow. He just knew the strength of the wind, its direction, the precise distance of his target, the exact downward curve of the arrow’s trajectory. He called it training. I called it magic.

The first merc met his maker silently. The shaft protruding from his eye socket had killed him instantly as the steel bit into his brain. He fell into shadow, his companions oblivious to his demise. The second fell just as silently, left sitting against the dark timber of the nearest shack.

The third one was the problem.

Some people are just born lucky. The third mercenary definitely was, although luck eventually runs out. Jorl’s arrow would have pierced the man’s skull if it weren’t for the drunken sickness causing him to double over, splashing vomit over his boots. The arrow clattered noisily off the rocks behind.

Then all hell broke loose.

The village exploded with life. New mercenaries, clad in mismatched armour of leather, iron and plate, poured from inside what must have been the tavern, their comrade’s panicked shouts alerting them to the presence of the as-yet-unseen archer.

Jorl calmly looped the bow back over his shoulder, letting it rest on his back as he hunkered down in the brush and unsheathed his knife. I held that knife once, felt like a longsword to me.

I honestly pitied those men. They never stood a chance.

In no more than a minute, the colossal assassin had made his way soundlessly down into the valley and looped his way behind the group of six mercs. He cut the first one almost in half, the knife cutting from waist to shoulder and spraying gore all over his companions and killer alike. Curses and cries of vengeance filled the next few seconds as the other five men moved to surround Jorl.

Gods, I pitied them.

Three of them attacked at once, blades coming in at all angles. Jorl swatted one of them away like a fly, sending him sprawling into the dirt, as he ducked under another. That one went careening into one of his friends, the two of them tumbling to the floor with a shriek – the swiper had been skewered on his friend’s spear. The final blade in the opening salvo came at an awkward angle but Jorl easily grabbed the attacker’s arm in his massive fist, twisted it violently and threw the screaming merc away like he was nothing.

The two left standing gave each other a look, unsure of what to do against such reckless ferocity. That look was about a second longer than Jorl needed to stick his knife through the windpipe of one and twist the other’s head so hard that his neck may have shattered. I’ll carry that sound to my grave. Just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine.

“That’s far enough, old man.” Two more of Thade’s men had emerged from a building down the road, dragging an unconscious teenage girl between them.

Jorl shot a look at the prone survivors of his massacre and, knowing they didn’t dare get up, turned to the new arrivals. “Son,” he sighed, “don’t be stupid.”

Oh shit, this was gonna get ugly.

“Way I see it,” the biggest of the two mercs, still only as tall as Jorl’s chest, began, “you move, she dies.” He put the point of a dagger to her throat.

“You have no idea who that is, do you?” Jorl took a step back, a strange mixture of fear and amusement in his voice.

“Oh fuck,” I whispered to myself in the darkness. If Jorl’s afraid, you better believe you’re in the shit.

Jorl’s gaze was fixed on the girl now, mine followed suit. She was skinny, probably around fifteen years on this godforsaken world, dressed in battered rags that might once have been a dress of some description. Her brown hair had been shaved on one side, exposing some kind of inked marking that ran over her ear, but long locks tumbled freely down the other side. More inked symbols ran down her left arm, visible even through the dried blood and bruising, and there was a hint of something similar through the tears in the back of what used to be her corset.

The two bumbling kidnappers were paying too much attention to Jorl, not noticing the girl stirring in their grip. Not noticing the inked runes beginning to glow about her skin.

Until it was too late.

The mouthy one got it the worst, his hand literally melting away as the girl’s flesh turned to flame. His screams bubbled as she seized his throat, his eyes lighting up like lanterns as he expired in several kinds of agony.

The silent one tried to run. The teenager turned to him and I finally saw her face clearly, saw the fire in her eyes. No wonder Jorl was afraid, I’d never seen a rage like it. Her hand shot out and fire burst forth from her palm as if it were a dragon’s maw, leaving behind a charred skeleton that crumbled to ash on the breeze.

“Move.” The girl stalked past Jorl, leaving a trail of smouldering footprints in her wake. The big man stepped aside immediately, not even daring to look into the girl’s eyes. The remaining men were scrambling to their feet and trying desperately to get away from this fiery incarnation of Death. In a brilliant blaze of light, wings of light spread at the teenager’s back, spitting sparks onto nearby huts.

An inferno ravaging most of the village, she floated toward the mercs and whispered something to them, allowing them to flee in absolute terror. I still have no notion of what she had said, or why she had let those few in particular escape, but there was obviously some control to her chaos.

“You can come out now.” Those burning eyes fell on me, glowing bright in the fire-limned silhouette against a backdrop of hell.

For an eternity I couldn’t move. I’m ashamed to admit that I almost wet myself in fear as the girl started toward the base of the hill.

“It’s okay, girl,” Jorl’s reassurance brought me back to my senses.

As I stepped from the brush, I once again saw the teenager as I’d first seen her: skinny and bruised, covered in tattoos. Not a revenant of malice or rage, but a fragile girl of flesh and blood. Jorl unravelled the cape he’d wrapped around his face and draped it over the naked girl, her clothing burned away in the inferno.

He seemed to relax as she smiled and nodded her thanks. She was obviously weakened, resting heavily against the big man’s open palm, holding her upright.

“Lizza,” Jorl said, “meet Kyra.”

Not an easy one this week, but Madison’s prompts often get me thinking!

With that in mind, here’s the picture we had to base our 100-word flash fiction stories on this week:

And here’s Madison’s story: http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/flash-fiction/old-truck-100-words/

It took me a long time to find my story this week and I know it isn’t my best work, but I enjoyed the challenge and just the process I went through to get it written.

Here it is:

Out of Gas

James gasped for breath, his heart pounding. He’d been running for what felt like hours, though it was only a few minutes. He wanted to run forever, but even that wouldn’t be far enough away from that nightmare.

     That faceless…thing back at the motel.

     He looked back. The jagged, greyscale curtain shifted endlessly, the downpour concealing lurking shadows.

     Casting around James saw the old truck by the roadside. His heart leapt as he hopped the fence, hoping to hot-wire the truck and escape.

     He froze as his hand touched the hood.

     That featureless face watched him from the passenger seat.

It’s Friday Fictioneering time again – amazing how quickly it comes around each week – and our gracious host, Madison Woods, has put forth the photo prompt for our 100-word stories this week:

You will find Madison’s story here: http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/flash-fiction/blank-100-words/

My story this week is only loosely based on the picture and, coming in at 113 words, it’s a little over the limit this week.

As always, please leave any feedback you can as I appreciate your help in the learning process – after all, no writer is ever satisfied with what he/she can write. There is always room for improvement!

Crimson Sunset

Niiko stood atop the hill, her red hair flowing in the breeze. She gazed down at the shadowy forest below, the last remnants of sunlight softly glinting off thousands of leaves.

     You know what’s down there, the devil rasped within.

     She did know.

     But how had they got ahead of her? She’d been so careful to keep the creatures behind her. Facing them again might kill her.

     She had no choice. Her sister’s life depended on it.

     She took a deep breath and allowed the demon’s power to course through her, feeling her grip tighten on the bejewelled sword in her hand.

     One way or another, death would reign in the forest tonight.

Part one, Arrival at Green Gate, is here: https://garybaileywriting.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/arrivingatgreengate/

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Part Two

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That’s close enough.” Dante knew this guy wasn’t normal but something in his mind, maybe the part that wanted to stay sane, told him to keep calm and let the ex-cop take over.

     The man with the torn-away face limped toward him slowly, inexorably. His arms hung at his sides, swinging lightly as he moved, only his fingers kept twitching.

     “Last warning, pal.” Dante had his gun up now, thumbing the safety off as he levelled it at the oncoming man.

     Just metres away, Torn-off Face’s arms reached forward suddenly and a frenzied gurgling erupted from what was left of his throat as he lunged toward Dante.

     Two shots rang out and the crazed man hit the floor, smoking holes left in his chest.

     That got the attention of the other two shufflers.

     Like the first, these two had horrible lacerations on their faces. But they also had an almost grey pallor and their eyes were completely blood-filled. Dante raised his gun again and moved forward, reflexively switching from target to target as they shambled toward him, their bodies writhing unnaturally as they moved.

     He heard a gurgling moan behind him.

     “What. The. Fuck.” The ex-cop’s brain couldn’t work out what was happening.

     Torn-off Face was sitting up.

     Dante was unsure of himself now, his composure shaken. The bloody mess of the man he had just shot was now standing and making his way toward him again. Swivelling his aim behind him, the other two were bearing down on him too. Turning again, he saw Torn-off Face readying another lunge, his arms stiffening and his twitching hands almost pointed at their target.

     His already mutilated head exploded in a shower of misty red and brain matter.

     As Dante turned, he saw the other two suffer a similar fate, mere seconds apart.

     “Up here!” The drawling voice belonged to an older man, leaning out of a second floor window with a scoped rifle in his grasp. “So, stranger…what brings ya to our fair town?”

*  *  *

     There were only a handful of exhausted-looking people left inside the old Town Hall. Two women, one in her late teens, ginger hair, the other probably in her late thirties, with dusty blonde hair, had let him in through the heavy gate out front. The older man with the rifle was descending the stairs at the back of the reception area, passing the last two residents, a young man and what may have been his younger brother.

     Every one of them was armed.

     “You wanna holster that sidearm, son,” the old man began, “makes folk nervous.”

     Dante hadn’t even realised he still held it, though he had at least remembered to take the safety off. “Sorry, I’m still a little fuzzy on what’s going on here,” he said as he slid the handgun back into the holster on his belt.

     “How’d you even get out here?” the ginger girl enquired.

     After a slight pause and a puzzled look, he replied, “I, uh…I walked.”

     “You walked?” The blonde woman this time. “From where?”

     “I’ve been out of the world for a while. Only been in and out of gas stations and the like, picking up food and water before moving on. The odd small town put a roof over my head for a few nights, here and there, allowing me to shower and wash my clothes.

     Been a while since I hit any towns though,” he finished.

     “That makes sense,” the old man stated. “You’ve missed an awful lot, son.”

     The ginger teenager nodded at the old man, before turning back to Dante.

     “You missed the end of the world, sir.”

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Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this second part, please feel free to leave any feedback. I’m always looking to learn!

The familiar violet hue of the sky went dark once more and the people prepared themselves for another rough ride.
    Whenever the skies were blackened, the world heaved and pivoted on its various axes, throwing its inhabitants around and destroying homes, places of business and even taking lives in the process.
    They had tried praying, building monuments of faith and even resorted to sacrifice at one point. Nothing helped.
    All they could do was prepare themselves and trust to hope.

    “I swear,” Gillian announced, turning the amethyst over and over in her hand, “I hear screams coming from this thing.”

Thanks again to Madison Woods for setting up the #FlashFictioneers prompt for us all, you can read her latest story here:
http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/flash-fiction/sapphire-rhapsody/

Please feel free to leave any comments for my learning benefit, it will be very much appreciated!
Also, please excuse any issues this week as I had to post this up with my phone!

This is my first pass at a little serial I decided to write. I hope to make it a regular thing, with each part no longer than a page (or just over) to keep it running quickly and smoothly, plus challenging myself to write something interesting within a limited space.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling…I hope you enjoy this little taster, please feel free to leave feedback – I’m always looking to learn and improve in my writing!

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Dawn was breaking over the town, sending shadows sprawling over roads and walls as the first carmine tendrils stretched from below the horizon.

     Green Gate was usually a sleepy town, but even at this early hour it seemed unnaturally quiet. The wind moaned and an empty soda can rolled and bounced noisily across the street, the tinny clattering sounding like thunderclaps in the silence.

     Dante looked around. He had been walking for hours, all hope of hitching a ride lost long ago when not a single vehicle had passed him on the narrow road that cut through the green countryside. He pulled a bottle of water from his bag and unscrewed the top, unable to shake the uneasy feeling in his stomach. The water quenched his thirst in the warm air, when even the stirring breeze did nothing to cool him down.

     One of those days.

     Returning the bottle back to his bag, he took another look around. Seeing nothing, hearing nothing, but smelling an acrid odour on the breeze, he pulled the handgun from his belt holster.

     Something felt wrong here.

     He pulled back the slide, securing a round in the chamber but leaving the safety on for now. After all, if he shot at everything that made him uneasy, he’d be in prison for shooting his ex-wife.

     And cops don’t do well in prison.

     Being a cop was what told him to be prepared. He hooked the strap of his backpack over his shoulder before rubbing his hand over the fuzz of short blonde hair atop his head, shaking out all traces of tiredness as he made his way into the town proper.

     Further into the town his uneasy feelings came clear.

     Shop windows were smashed in or left with spider-web cracks covering the tougher ones, others were boarded up weakly, judging by the splintered holes left in doorways and house fronts. One building toward the end of the main road, about half a mile from where Dante stood, was still boarded up and intact. Shielding his eyes from the morning sun and squinting into the distance, he could just about make out the shapes of a few people milling about the boarded-up building. He shrugged and made his way down the street.

     As he approached the building, he realised it must have been the town hall or perhaps the police station, judging by the old white concrete and the scalloped pillars holding up the semi-circular veranda at the entrance.

     The normality ended there.

     A huge fence of jagged metal ran around the veranda. Pieces of rusting iron and steel had been grafted together hastily, with an old iron gate lashed across the front, held in place by heavy chains.

     A few rough-looking people shambled around what used to be the car park of the building, drunk by the looks of things, and Dante kept a wary eye on them as he approached slowly. He was about to speak when one of the men spotted him.

     Dante froze.

     The man’s face was torn to shreds, the flesh hung from ragged wounds and the blood had congealed within the lesions.

     How is that possible? How’s he even still standing?

     The man exhaled hungrily, blood dribbling from his lips, and his silvery irises locked on Dante with a mixture of wildness and…nothingness.

     His eyes were dead.

     He looked dead.

     What’s wrong with this place?

The inspiration for today's flash fiction story, courtesy of Madison Woods.

 

It’s the god-damn water!”

    The realisation struck Dante like a slap in the face. Those creatures stumbling around the wilderness had once been human, but the virus had twisted them into murderous monsters. This creek supplied the whole colony’s water, it was the only explanation for how quickly the disease spread.

    There was no time to think about it as inhuman screams cut the air and two of the creatures leapt through the brush, all jagged claws and mangled, bubbling flesh. Hissing and screaming in mindless fury, they sprinted at Dante.

    No time to think.

    Gunshots echoed through the forest.

 

 

 

This is part of a weekly Flash Fiction exercise put forth by Madison Woods, wherein a photo-prompt engages writers in creating a 100-word story based on an image such as the one above. You can read Madison’s story here: http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/flash-fiction/lorelei-100-words-audio/

 

Thank you for reading and please feel free to comment on my story. All feedback is welcome!

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