The Complete Aalen’s Saga: The Hunter (fiction)

I was originally hoping to publish this as a small e-book with illustrations, but I could never find an illustrator for it…

Aalen’s Saga: The Hunter

Part One: The Forest

I

The crystal had shown terrible things. The Elder walked slowly out her dwelling. She clapped her hands and the entire village looked up at her.

“Humans are coming with axes to destroy our forest. We must protect it! All remaining archers need to go to our northern border. Falnek, take the children to the sacred Bloodwood.” There was sudden activity in the village. “Aalen, when the humans are defeated come back to us.” Aalen nodded and left with her wolf bounding in front of her.

The Elder looked over the village and her people. The crystal had shown terrible things.

II

Aalen was hidden in one of the trees. She stood at the base of a large branch with her back against the trunk watching the army of humans about to enter the forest below her. The way they were armed suggested they were heading for her village still some miles away from here.

As soon as they set foot into her land she nocked an arrow and then aimed her longbow at one of the men. She knew her companions in the other trees would be doing the same. None of these trespassers would survive. She waited for the signal.

III

Something seemed strange when Aalen returned to her village in the heart of the forest. She had returned now the human attack on the borders of their land had been repelled. But it was too quiet, and Aalen couldn’t see any sentries hiding up in the trees with her sharp eyes. Then Aalen cried out dropping to her knees in despair.

In the centre of the village, where there was a natural colonnade formed by a double row of trees, were all the villagers hanging from them. All of them dead.

The attack on the borders had been a diversion.

IV

Aalen cut down all the bodies from the trees in the village. She spent some days burying her kin in the village outskirts. Every time saying a prayer to the Goddess while wiping away tears.

She removed the sacred crystal shards from around the neck of the village Elder and buried her last. She cupped the largest one in her hands praying for a way to find the killers of her people. The shard glowing brilliantly in her hands showing her the way.

A rage filled her heart. She grabbed all her weapons and followed the path she had seen.

V

Aalen’s path took her northwards. As she went further the trees became sparse until she came to the shoreline of a wide sea.

She had never seen the ocean before and although her sight was partially obscured by the sea-mist around the shore, it looked as though it went on forever.

Standing there, Aalen began to realise the world was far larger than she had ever dreamed. Where there other distant shores? Her heart yearned for revenge, but also to explore this world she barely knew.

She watched the tumultuous waves and then finally turned away following the tracks eastward.

VI

Aalen followed the tracks of the human soldiers through the forest. Along the way she began calling out:

“Vilja! Vilja! Where are you?” But there was no response, the only sound was the breeze sighing through the branches and usual forest life. Aalen wondered where Vilja had got to. He had accompanied her to the border, but then a short time later he ran off back into the forest. She hoped no harm had come to him. Aalen continued following the tracks. A sizeable army had come this way.

“Vilja!” she called out again. Where had her wolf got to?

VII

Aalen found herself in a thicket. Coming into a clearing she found two dead bodies before her. Both were human soldiers dressed in similar garb to the ones she killed on the borders of her land. Probably scouts of some kind. One had an arrow through his throat, while the other had one through the right eye. Pinpoint accuracy. Both arrows painted black. She was unaware of anyone who did this. The fact that someone else seemed to be hunting them, Aalen took as a sign she had taken the right course.

Somewhere out there did she have an ally?

VIII

Aalen had made camp for the night. Not feeling like sleeping, she had found a piece of wood and used a sharp stone for a chisel. She began chiselling it into shape, though she had no idea what she was making. She then heard movement in the bushes near her and suddenly there was a loud panting by her ear.

“I wondered when you were going to show up.” Aalen said as she looked at Vilja. “They’re all dead Vilja. Killed in cold blood. We need to make things right.” She hugged her wolf and wept. Vilja licked her face.

IX

There was a figure hiding in the bushes. Aalen knew they had an arrow trained on her, just as she had one trained on them. With her heart beating loudly she slowly rose. The other figure did the same. It was a human female with long black hair.

“My name is Aalen. I’m tracking some humans who slaughtered my village.”

“My name is Ashalla. Also known as The Black Arrow. I’m hunting down this group of soldiers too.”

Though her heart was full of hate, Aalen slowly lowered her bow. Ashalla did the same. They both stared at one another.

X

Aalen and Ashalla were hiding on an outcrop looking down on the soldiers in the distance. Aalen’s wolf Vilja lay between them.

“Last year there was a drought and game was scarce. These soldiers came to our village demanding food. When we refused because we needed our food stocks for the winter, they began killing all the hunters until we acquiesced. I came back to find my brothers had been murdered. I painted my arrows black and started hunting them down.” Ashalla told her.

Aalen looked down at the army. Once they set up camp, that’s when they would attack.

XI

The sentries were taken out silently. Aalen and Ashalla moved quickly into the camp. In the centre a fire-pit still smouldered. While Ashalla took care of the drunken stragglers, Aalen spied the largest tent and silently went inside. She roused the leader awake. He looked confused.

“I thought we had killed you all.” he said.

“Why destroy my village?”

“I was only acting under orders. We wanted to cut down your forest for timber, but we knew your people wouldn’t allow it. So we decided to kill you all. The Baron sent us.”

Aalen stuck her knife in his throat.

XII

“Beggars can’t be choosers!” Ashalla said as she tried on a pair of boots she had taken from one of the soldiers. They almost fit.

With their leader dead, the army had become fragmented and disorganised. It wasn’t hard to pick them off in smaller groups.

“Now all we need is to find the person who sent them. The one they call The Baron.” Aalen said as she washed herself in the river and Vilja hungrily crunched on a joint he had found.

“Not an easy man to get to, but I’m sure we can find a way.” Ashalla replied.

XIII

Aalen and Ashalla traveled southwards. Aalen could hear Vilja ahead bounding along.

“In my village we do what we’re best at. If you’re good at protecting the borders, than that’s what you do. It doesn’t matter if you’re female or male.” Aalen told her.

“Where I’m from it tends to be the men that are the hunters and use bows. When I told my parents I wanted to be a hunter, it raised a few eyebrows.” Ashalla responded.

“Why do you only let men be hunters? Do human bows need penises to operate them?” asked Aalen.

Ashalla laughed out loud.

XIV

They had spent the entire day walking south and now they were both exhausted. In the darkest part of the night Aalen kept watch since she could see perfectly well in the starlight.

She looked at the sleeping form of Ashalla covered with a blanket. She had grown fond of this human and had thought that could never have been possible. All her life she had been trained to keep humans out of their forest, or hunt them down if they dared to enter. And now she was friends with one. Maybe they weren’t all as bad as she believed.

XV

As Aalen, Ashalla, and Vilja got nearer to the city they saw the land become more cultivated and ordered.

“How many years do your people usually live?” Ashalla asked.

“We don’t measure time the same way as you.” Aalen replied. “So I don’t know. As we get older our responsibilities increase. I helped protect the borders, so little was expected of me, but if I survived I would have eventually become an Elder of the village who were the sources of our wisdom and knowledge.”

Aalen looked out at the land. She knew that future was now gone for her.

XVI

Aalen was suspended above the Bloodwood, the most ancient and sacred tree of their forest. The tree was part of their spring rites when they celebrated the fertility of the villagers and the natural world. As she hung there, she saw there was huge crack in the Bloodwood that went down the entire tree, as if it was ready to split open.

Aalen awoke with a start. She could hear Ashalla softly breathing beside her. Vilja was curled up beside the glowing embers. Bleary-eyed she got up realising they hadn’t set a watch.

In the dark she pondered the dream.

Part Two: The Keep

XVII

“What are your names?” The sentry asked.

“My name is Ashalla of Woodhall.”

“My name is Aalen Liadon.” As soon as she spoke the sentry looked at her.

“Please remove your hood miss.” He ordered. Aalen complied revealing her long golden hair and bright green eyes.

“I’m one of the forest folk.” Aalen admitted.

“And presumably that wolf is yours?” Vilja stood there with his tongue hanging out.

“He’s my companion. He’s good-natured and won’t harm anyone unless provoked.”

“Fine.” The sentry said. He waved them through.

As Vilja happily ran through the narrow streets many small hands patted him.

XVIII

“We’re going to have to wait, The Baron is away for a few more days.” Ashalla informed her.

“I can wait.” Aalen replied looking around the crowded streets. She hadn’t realised there were so many people here in this city. Where had they all come from?

They were standing in the city square. Above them all, the Baron’s Keep rose like a giant solitary black tooth. Aalen spied the walls of the fortifications. She thought she could scale them with no problems, and reckoned Ashalla could do the same.

Revenge would come. She could wait. What was a few days?

XIX

Aalen and Ashalla stayed in an inn. They sat on the bed while Vilja curled up on the floor. Ashalla had brought back some bread after scoping out The Baron’s keep a further time.

“If only I had some cheese.” Ashalla said as she ate the bread.

“Wait a moment.” Aalen said producing a vial from her belongings. “When the fruit in the forest ripens my people make this.” Ashalla spread some on her bread.

“Yum! You can taste all the forest berries!” Ashalla said.

“It reminds me of home.” Aalen replied wondering if it would ever be made again.

XX

Exploring the city Aalen was surprised by how many different races were here. There were humans, dwarves, half-people, and even some human/elf hybrids living and working together in this city.

“You Elf!” A voice suddenly called out. Aalen turned to see a group of soldiers observing her.

“You talking to me?” Aalen asked while lightly touching one of her daggers.

“What are you doing in this city?” one asked.

“Just passing through.” Aalen told them. The soldiers kept a close eye on her as they moved on.

Soon the Baron would be dead, and she would be gone from here.

XXI

This morning Aalen and Ashalla found the streets were packed with people. It seemed as though the entire city’s population had turned out. Soldiers marched towards the Keep.

“What’s happening?” Aalen asked.

“I think the Baron is finally returning.” Ashalla replied trying to see over the crowds.

The people cheered as a carriage drawn by six horses passed by. Inside was a man with dark hair and a neatly trimmed beard. He wore a red coat with gold filigree. He ignored the crowds that had come out to see him. Aalen stared at him.

“Perfect!” Aalen said. “Tonight we attack.”

XXII

They waited until dark. Silently as shadows they slipped over the wall unseen. The Keep now stood before them. Aalen and Ashalla climbed up the side. It was steep, but fortunately they found places for their hands to hold on to as they ascended.

Once they clambered over the ramparts, there were two sentries who hadn’t seen them. One got a well-aimed throwing knife in his throat, while Aalen was upon the other before he could make a sound. They both sneaked to the doorway and came into a room with a stairwell.

They were now inside the Baron’s Keep.

XXIII

“The Baron will be on one of the top floors.” Aalen said. They moved quickly up the stairwell. Aalen went to the very top floor, while Ashalla searched the one below.

Aalen came to a large set of ornate wooden doors. She quietly opened them and saw The Baron seated at a long wooden table eating his dinner. Unexpectedly, he looked up at her.

“Ah! Aalen Liadon, I have been expecting you!” He said smiling at her. All the doors behind Aalen suddenly burst open and she quickly found herself surrounded by soldiers. “Perhaps you will join me for dinner?”

XXIV

“Come a little closer Aalen.” The Baron ordered. As the guards moved her into the room, Aalen tried getting one of her hands free, hoping no one would notice. Another group of soldiers appeared with Ashalla. “And now we have Ashalla!”

“So I guess you’re planning to execute us?” Ashalla asked belligerently. The Baron laughed.

“You’re both far too valuable to kill. The two of you wiped out my army single-handedly. You have a range of skills that are useful to me. Rather than kill me, have you considered working for me instead?” The Baron asked. Aalen’s mouth dropped open.

XXV

“Work for you? You killed my people. You destroyed my home. How could you think I would ever work for you?” Aalen asked. The Baron just shrugged.

“In my experience, everyone has their price. What would yours be Aalen? I can provide you with anything.”

“I want my people back.” Aalen replied.

“That’s beyond my abilities. What about you Ashalla? What do you want?”

“You killed my father and my brothers. I want you to be dead.” Ashalla responded. The Baron looked disappointed.

“My death won’t bring your loved ones back.”

“But it will stop you killing others.” Aalen replied.

XXVI

The Baron looked at both of them disappointed.

“Obviously you are both still very angry. I think some time in my dungeons will cool you off. Maybe then you will have a change of heart and be more reasonable.” He motioned with his hands for the guards to take them away.

Just then, Aalen managed to get one of her hands free. She pulled out a concealed knife and, before anyone could stop her, she threw it The Baron. The knife quickly embedded itself in his throat. He gave a surprised look and then fell forward onto his dinner plate.

XXVII

In the confusion following The Baron’s sudden death, Aalen managed to free herself from the soldiers who had captured her. She swiftly recovered her bow, and stepped back a few paces while quickly loading arrows and shooting the soldiers before her at point blank range.

With soldiers starting to fall, Ashalla freed herself and drew her broadsword. They both managed to clear a path through their opposition and ran out the hall with the remaining soldiers chasing them.

“Hopefully most of the guards were up here waiting to capture us.” Aalen stated as they quickly ran down the winding stair.

XXVIII

Running down the stairs they met little resistance, but they heard the soldiers from above following. Once they were far enough below, they went through a window and, with series of jumps, managed to get free of the Keep. As they ran they heard a voice behind them.

“Stop or I will shoot!” They turned to see a soldier in a red cloak with a crossbow in his hand aimed directly at Aalen. Vilja suddenly leapt up and bit down on the soldiers arm.  The soldier screamed, dropping the crossbow.

Aalen and Ashalla ran to the city wall. Vilja followed.

XXIX

Once they were over the city wall they quickly found some cover amongst some trees and hid there a while.

“Thanks for helping.” Aalen said as she gave Vilja a long hug.

When the sun rose, they crept away from the city using trees and rocks as cover and hid quietly when patrols appeared.

After a few days passed, and they hadn’t seen any further patrols of soldiers for a while, they began to feel safer.

“So with The Baron dead, what do you plan to do now?” Ashalla asked. Aalen surveyed the land around them.

She hadn’t considered that.

XXX

“I guess I should go back to my village. The border guards should have survived.” Aalen answered.

“I want to explore the world,” Ashalla said. Aalen looked at the mountains in the distance. She wondered what lay beyond them and found herself yearning to also explore a world she barely knew.

“I’m sure my village can wait. Maybe I can tag along with you? You’ll probably need my help anyway.” Aalen found herself saying. Ashalla smiled and took Aalen in her arms.

“I would like that.” Ashalla replied.

The three of them set off in the direction of the mountains.

THE END

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

The Oracle, prologue (fiction)

The Oracle

Prologue

And so humanity spread out among the stars.

At first colony ships were sent out to planets deemed to be habitable by our orbiting long-range telescopes, but then stellar engineers began to build wormholes, and eventually more stable ones that allowed our starships to pass quickly between star systems, and this opened up the entire galaxy to our civilisation.

So far a quarter of the galaxy had now been colonised and while we had found life in varying forms, we never found any other intelligent life or signs of it. As far as we were concerned the galaxy was ours, maybe even the Universe too. It was our destiny, our prize, our salvation.

What could go wrong?

Joanne Fisher

Please donate! 🙂

©️2021 Joanne Fisher

The Big Reveal, part one (fiction)

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The Big Reveal

1

“He must have exploded!” Carly said wide-eyed in wonder.

“Yeah, we don’t need a mop and bucket so much a spatula.” Bob replied.

“Why build a giant microwave anyway? That’s just asking for trouble.”

“Well it is a popular fast food business. They just make everything beforehand and heat it up in the microwave in large lots when the wave of customers hits.” Bob explained. “Remind me to never eat here again.”

“So this guy must have walked in and then someone else must have closed the door and turned it on. Makes you wonder why.” Carly commented. Bob just shrugged his shoulders.

“It’s not our problem. We’re just here to clean up the body, or what’s left of it.”

“He certainly got into every crevice.” They both looked at each other and sighed.

“Well let’s get to it then!” Bob suggested.

They brought in their mops, buckets, squeegees, spray bottles, and industrial cleaners and then got to work. Within a few hours they had completely removed any trace of the poor unfortunate who had been splattered all over the insides of the giant oven. Before leaving they did a routine check they hadn’t missed anything, and carried out what remains there were in a black plastic bag. They then went down to the car park completely ignored by anyone they saw. Bob liked being a cleaner, since no one really paid much attention to you. You were both visible and invisible at the same time.

They loaded everything into the back of their white van with the words ERAZE printed on the side, removed all their protective equipment, and then drove off. Carly preferred to drive since she was relatively quick, but stealthy at the same time, which was important for people working in a business like theirs, particularly one they would rather not draw attention to. Once on the freeway they both relaxed a bit.

“Any plans after work?” Carly asked.

“No, I was just thinking of heading back to my apartment and collapsing onto my bed. It’s been a tiring day.”

“I know! Three bodies today! Who would have thunk it? People be cray cray at the moment!” Carly agreed. “I need to unwind first. I was thinking of going to the bar and shooting some pool. You’re welcome to come with.”

“You mean tag along and spend what’s left of the night watching you beat everyone? I think I’ll pass.”

“Your loss.” Carly replied shrugging her shoulders.

Carly parked the van in the Warehouse. She opened the back door and went inside to check the body remains had been correctly stored. Bob joined her, closing the door behind him.

“Why did you close the door?” Carly asked.

“Privacy.” Bob replied.

But it’s self-locking.”

“I thought you had the key.”

“No they’re still in the lock. Shit! Now we’re locked in!” Carly informed him.

“Crap!” Bob added. “How do we get out?” Carly squeezed past him and tried opening the doors, but they wouldn’t budge.

“I have no idea!” Carly replied. “What I do know is that once we leave the van, it is taken back to Headquarters and serviced.”

“Headquarters?” Bob gasped in horror and went pale. “We’re not meant to be there.”

“I know!”

“This is really bad isn’t it?’ Bob asked with a rising sense of panic. They both made for the doors and tried to force them open, but to no avail. Then suddenly they both felt they were going downwards, like they were in a lift. This sensation went on for some time. Once it stopped, they then felt the van move slowly forwards, as though they were now on a conveyor belt.

“Well, we’re definitely on the way to Headquarters. Thanks for ruining my evening bitch!” Carly remarked, feeling really pissed with Bob.

“Where abouts is it?” Bob asked.

“No idea. In fact I don’t think anyone knows, apart from the people that run this service obviously.”

“What will they do when they find us here?” Bob asked fearing the worst.

“Don’t know, but considering we work for a business that deals with erasing any evidence of dead bodies I’m not sure we’re going to walk away from this.” Carly replied. She sat down on the floor looking unhappy. “I should have been killing it on the pool table by now.”

“I’m sorry for closing the door on us. I wasn’t thinking.” Bob admitted.

“Damn right you weren’t!” Carly agreed.

All of a sudden the van came to a halt.

to be continued…

Joanne Fisher

This was originally a story I wrote for a competition, but then when I rechecked the rules I found I had got it horribly wrong, so I never submitted it. As it’s over two thousand words I thought I would post it here in three parts.

Please donate! 🙂

©2020 Joanne Fisher

My Life In Darkness, part six (fiction)

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previous episode

 

My Life In Darkness, part six

 

6. The Bar

 

Music flooded from out of the building. Astrid opened the screen door and we came into a smoky bar room. There was a pool table in front of us with a couple of guys playing and a small crowd watching them. Along the sides there were wooden tables that were mostly empty. As soon as we walked in all eyes fell on Astrid. Tonight she was wearing some tight blue jeans and pumps along with a black tank top. A waitress with long brown hair tied back and wearing dark blue jeans with a bright red top came to greet us. Her name tag said Beth.

“Evening girls! You just sit yourselves down wherever you want.”

“Thanks. Could we see a menu, if you have one?” Astrid asked.

“Sure thing hun!”  All eyes were on us as we went to one of the tables at the side. We sat down and Beth returned with a couple of menus. “Do you wish to order some drinks?” she asked.

“I’ll have a red wine.” Astrid said. “A Pinot Noir if you have one.”

“I’ll have a beer.” I said. Astrid shook her head at me.

“I need to refine your drinking habits.” She said. I shrugged my shoulders.

“I drink wine occasionally, but everyone seems to drink beer here.”

“So you wish to fit in?” she asked as she suddenly grabbed my hand from across the table.

“I guess. But if we hold hands here we may get attacked.” I told her.

“I don’t think so.” She said. Maybe in Norway they didn’t have redneck bars where you could put yourself in danger by just holding hands with someone of the same gender, but they did have them here. Astrid continued holding hands with me. I noticed a few people around the pool table were looking in our direction and muttering. Beth came back with our drinks and seemed to ignore it.

“Would you like to order some food?” she asked.

“What do you want to eat Melissa?” Astrid asked. I snatched my hand back and stared briefly at the menu stopping myself from saying “you”.

“I’ll have a burger and fries please” I said.

“And for you hun?” the waitress asked Astrid.

“I’m not hungry.” She said. Beth quickly took our menus and walked off.

“Why do you never seem to eat anything?” I asked Astrid. She just laughed and took a sip of her wine.

“Don’t worry I get enough sustenance. I had a big meal earlier and I’m not hungry at the moment.”

“I can pay for my food if that’s an issue.” I said. She looked at me darkly.

“It’s not the issue.” She said to me in a serious tone.

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to offend you.” I replied as delicately as I could.

“It’s alright.” She said in a soft tone staring into my eyes. “If I don’t want to eat, I won’t eat okay?”

“Okay.” I answered.

I don’t know whether it was because of the cook they had here or the drink Astrid had given me earlier, but the burger tasted different from any other burger I had ever eaten before. I could taste a variety of complex flavours. Even the fries tasted like the best fries I had ever eaten. I offered my burger to Astrid.

“Do you wanna bite?” I asked holding out the half-eaten burger in front of her.

“Of the burger?” she asked frowning.

“Well yeah” I said. “It’s the best one I’ve ever eaten!”

“Will it make you happier if I do?”

“Yes. It will help me feel less guilty about eating a meal in front of you.” I looked expectantly at her. She sighed and grabbed my burger and took a bite out of it. “And help yourself to the fries as well.” I added.

“Not bad.” She said.

I looked around and noticed the guys at the pool table were still giving us occasional glances. A few more people had entered the premises while I had been eating. I was trying to work out what town this was. I was pretty sure I had never been here before. There did seem to be a reasonable cross-section of people here. I got the feeling a lot of them were just passing through like us. The music blaring out of the jukebox was mostly classic rock with some occasional country. The guys around the pool table or at the bar I suspected were locals. They were laughing, drinking beer, and smoking, obviously having a good time. I felt like staying close to Astrid, this place made me feel uneasy.

“Can we go soon?” I asked Astrid.

“Sure finish your drink and we will head off.” Astrid pulled out some cash and left it with the bill. I was ready to go so I got up to leave and Astrid followed. As we walked past the pool table one of the men gave a long look at us.

“Maybe you girls should hang out with us and you’ll get to know what it’s like to be with a real man.” He said. He was tall and heavily built wearing a white singlet and jeans. He had tattoos on his muscly arms and close cropped brown hair. Astrid turned around and looked at him with a penetrating gaze.

“Whatever you have, it wouldn’t interest me.” She responded. The man looked angry and picked up a pool cue and approached us.

“Listen girl, you don’t talk back to me y’hear?”

“I’m not afraid of you.” She replied as she stood in front of me. “And if you come any nearer I’ll make you regret it.” The man laughed.

“Is that so?” he said as he continued to approach her. There was a sudden flurry of movement and within a second Astrid had pinned down the man’s head on the pool table and forced his right arm behind his back.

“I could really do some damage to you right now.” Astrid said darkly. The entire bar seemed frozen. Everyone stood there watching the unfolding drama. A feeling of tension quickly built up.

“Astrid.” I said weakly, my small thin voice trailing away into the air. Astrid stood up and in one movement pushed the man away. He landed against the wall in a loud thud.  There was a look of shock on everyone’s faces. Beth approached us.

“We don’t want trouble around here!” she said to us. I could see she was shaking. Astrid gave her a derisive look and walked out of the bar. I turned around.

“I’m sorry. “ I said to her apologetically and then I quickly left following Astrid.

 

Next episode: In The Dark

 

I’ve been debating whether to post this today. To be honest the last thing I feel like doing at the moment is creative writing, but I’ve posted this story at the same time and day for the last five weeks so I thought I would continue doing so.

All I want to do is grieve for the people lost and for my city 😦

 

Please consider donating to: Christchurch Shooting Victims’ Fund

 

Night Talk (fiction)

Night Talk

I awoke in the middle of the night. My neck was sore. I moved my fingers to where it hurt and found the area was wet with a warm liquid. I stumbled out of bed and flicked a light on only to find my neck and sleepwear were covered in blood. My blood. It was slowly flowing out of a wound in my neck. I looked to my bed and saw the sheets were also covered in blood.

“How did this happen?” I asked myself. I then noticed some movement and saw that in the corner of my bedroom was a woman I had somehow missed seeing. She had long blonde hair, pale skin, and, of course, blood dripping from her mouth. I guessed the blood was mine.

“So you’re awake then?” She said in a surprising nonchalant way, given the circumstances.

“Who are you and why you in my room?” I asked. I decided asking why she had bitten my neck could come later.

“I’m a vampire.” She answered, again a little too nonchalantly as I would have liked, as though that was all she needed to say.

“And you decided to snack on me?” She smiled at me and licked her lips which I found strangely unnerving.

“Hmm you taste good, but no, I actually came here for a reason.”

“Which was…?” I asked trying to prompt her.

“I’ve been sent here by the Council to kill you.” She answered.

“The City Council?” I asked incredulously. Hadn’t I paid my rates promptly or something? The blonde vampire laughed.

“Funny. No I meant the Vampire Council.” She explained.

“Vampires have a Council?” I asked. “Why do they want me dead?”

“It’s all those vampire stories you’ve been writing. The Council is concerned that you might be making people a little bit suspicious about our actual existence. So they sent me here to finish you off.”

“Just like that?”

“Yep.” She replied in a matter of fact manner.

“Won’t people get suspicious if I’m found dead covered in my own blood with bite marks on my neck?”

“Nope. Because after you die the Fixers will come and clean the area up and they’ll take your body away and eventually it will be found a few months later somewhere and everyone will just assume you killed yourself or something. I mean let’s face it, no one would be that surprised would they?” She told me. I had to reluctantly agree.

“What if I try to bite you and drink your blood so I will be turned if you kill me?” I put to her. She just shook her head.

“Then as soon as you awoke I would have to hack your head off. The Council doesn’t think you’re vampire material. It was discussed.” She answered.

“Why am I considered not to be vampire material?” I asked surprised.

“You’ve been observed. You have no self-control. Whenever you eat your favourite salt and vinegar potato chips you just gorge on the entire packet unable to stop.” She replied.

“So my chances of ever becoming a vampire is based on my potato chip eating habits? Also, don’t you think you’re being just a little bit too judgemental?”

“Well the reasoning is if you can’t control yourself eating potato chips, then what would you be like as a vampire? You would just go on a blood-gorging frenzy. You would keep the Fixers very busy!”

“So if I had just eaten potato chips over several days, rather than just one sitting, then I would possibly have been considered good vampire material?”

“Exactly!” She confirmed.

“Fine! I guess you should come over and kill me then!” I said as I lay on the bed again exposing my neck to her. She rolled her eyes.

“You don’t need to be so dramatic!”

“Well you’re here to kill me aren’t you?” I said dejectedly. She rolled her eyes again.

“Look I’m just here to do a job. I’m sorry.” She said beginning to approach me. She looked at me hungrily.

“What if I promise not write about vampires ever again? Would the Council consider letting me live?” I asked in a last ditch effort. She stopped advancing towards me and looked at me thoughtfully.

“Possibly. Though you know now that we actually exist.” She considered.

“Yeh but if I don’t ever talk about it then it won’t matter.” I reasoned with her.

“Hmm…”

“And if I’m still alive you can come and feed on me occasionally.” I added in an attempt to sweeten the deal. She smiled again and nodded her head slowly.

“Okay, but if you ever write about vampires again, including what happened here tonight, then I will come back and carry out the Council’s wishes. So, do you promise you will keep quiet about vampires from now on?”

“Absolutely.” I replied.

Joanne Fisher

As Halloween is fast approaching, expect a few more horror-themed stories over the next week.

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The New Plague

Written with the story prompt plague provided by The Dragonspire. Her blog site is worth checking out by the way.

The New Plague

us like brains us like going out and eat brains us like brains brains are yum us like going out eating brains or bite and scratch make more of us when dark us go out to find brains many of us go out and eat brains others run from us others scream others fight us we eat others brains or make others us brains are yum not many of us now us get few need to make more us and eat brains yum us chase other down road other scream it goes black us wake in white room us not move others in white other hurt arm it goes black us wake in small room us not get out us wants brains brains are yum us not leave room us want out us want brains other look through room us try scratch other it goes black us wakes in big white room us not move other hurt arm it goes black us wakes up in small room again walls are see through us can’t claw way through wall others in white robes look at us through wall us fed meat nice red juicy meat meat ok us wants brains but meat ok us not hungry now everything black again us wake in white room tied to table others in white coats looking down other sticks needle in arm everything goes black again I awake in small room with bed I am in bed wearing white robes two others come and put me on table that moves they take me to the large white room this time I am not tied down one of them puts needle in my arm I ask where am I? they smile and probe me and I am taken back to small room I fall asleep when I awake I get out of the bed there is a mirror on the wall I see my reflection I look pale my hair is long and matted my nails are long and sharp I smell. Where am I? What’s happened to me?

Joanne Fisher

I’m not the greatest fan of zombies. My preferred undead are vampires, if you hadn’t noticed that by now. That said, I do like George Romero films as mindless zombies are a great tool for social satire, as his films can show.

When I saw the prompt I thought rather typically of a plague of zombies, but I thought why not have it from the zombies perspective and their cure being perceived as a plague by them? At least as well as they can perceive it. That was the initial idea. I thought this might be a bit difficult to do, but I love a challenge… I wanted the zombies to have a herd like mentally, with no or little real sense or awareness of individual identity.

Jo want to finish novel, but Jo need new computer. Support Jo. Make Jo happy 🙂

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H. P. Lovecraft

1984

Recently I watched a quite informative documentary on H. P. Lovecraft which included various writers, such as Neil Gaiman and Caitlin R. Kiernan, giving their thoughts on him as a writer. This has got me re-reading some of my favourite stories of his over the last week (if things weren’t hectic enough at the moment!). I would like to write about my own thoughts about Lovecraft and the effect he’s had on me.

The thing that got me intrigued about Lovecraft’s writings, initially, was a game called Call of Cthulhu, which is a horror role playing game that uses the Cthulhu Mythos. When I was around 16 years old I came across this game but didn’t know who Cthulhu was, or even Lovecraft for that matter. The game looked interesting as the artwork showed it was set in the 1920s and mostly set in the New England area from the look of the buildings. At that time it was difficult to find any of Lovecraft’s writings, but I did look for them. I actually found two of his stories in my book collection from two different collections of horror stories I owned: “The Evil Clergyman” and “The Dunwich Horror” and amongst my father’s books I found the stories “The Music of Erich Zann” and “The Rats in the Walls”. And that was all I knew of his works for a couple of years. Out of all of those “The Rats in the Walls” was the one that affected me the most. Just before I went to University I found The Lurking Fear and Other Stories in a second-hand bookshop. It contained about eleven stories, mostly early ones including the disturbing “The Picture in the House” and “Cool Air”. However the last two stories, and by far the longest ones, were from his later period: “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “The Shadow Out of Time”. I’ve always loved the atmospheric buildup in “Innsmouth”. I feel it goes to an obvious conclusion, but the story contains some quite memorable images. There is also an implied threat to it all: if one town has been taken over by Deep Ones, what’s to stop them from doing the same to every other town along the New England coastline? And maybe elsewhere??? “Shadow Out of Time” deals with the idea of other races with quite advanced civilisations living on Earth during different epochs. I recently saw on article which explored this idea for real…

1988
Great Cthulhu

These days I have Lovecraft omnibuses which have most of his stories (annoyingly they miss out about four of them) and on my phone I have a more complete version. I’ve read all of his stories now, many of them multiple times. I think my favourite Mythos story of his is “At the Mountains of Madness”. Guillermo del Toro wants to do a film version of it and I desperately want to see him do it. It’s all about a scientific expedition to Antarctica which investigates a newly discovered mountain range only to find the ruins of an ancient city which turns out not to be as dead as they think… It would make a really good movie, especially in the hands of the right director, such as del Toro. My other favourite stories of his include: “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath”, “The Whisperer in Darkness”, “The Outsider”, “Dagon”, “The Cats of Ulthar”, “The Dreams in the Witch-House”,  “The Colour Out of Space” and “The Strange High House in the Mist”.

There is something I don’t feel comfortable with regarding Lovecraft, and that is his racism. I usually avoid writers I know to be racist (or are extremely right wing) and yet I seem to give Lovecraft a free pass. Why is that? Some people say he was a man of his time, with all the prejudices they had back then, but there are many other writers and thinkers around that time who weren’t racist, or at least not as blatant as he was. In his stories, in-particularly the ones he wrote in the 1920s, people with dark skin or from Eastern Europe, or Asia are described as being inferior and are often in league with the dark powers. Lovecraft was from a well-off family and was fairly reclusive in his late teen years onward.  I think these views developed from a person who was shut off  from the real world and would often correspond with people of like mind. It’s interesting that after his marriage fell apart and he moved back to Providence his views began changing. At the time the population of Providence was becoming more diverse and Lovecraft had started traveling around North America and the effect of seeing other places broadened his mind. He also had friends who didn’t hold with his views, and so slowly his views became less extreme. If you look at his fiction in the early 1930s the various Mythos creatures from beyond our world become the threat, not people, as these creatures are an anathema to all humanity. He makes that clear. You could say he started looking outwards rather than inwards. Like him I can be a bit of a recluse and I also wanted to be an astronomer as he did, so I feel a connection, and I still read Lovecraft because basically I think highly of his work, even though I don’t like his views. Some of  his stories are genuinely disturbing and terrifying. And at least he did begin to change. Unfortunately in the 1930s he died of cancer and I do wonder what would have happened if he had lived another twenty or thirty years. Would he have continued to develop and grow as a person? I also wonder what else he would have written.

1985

I’m not sure what effect he’s had on my writing. Though I guess we are a sum of our influences in many ways. In my early twenties I tried writing a Mythos story. It ended up being quite long and I only got half way through it until I gave up writing it. Not that it was a great loss to literature as it was rather derivative of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”. The Sky-Pirates of Durn story I’m working on and currently serialising I think has a Lovecraftian influence, and while I don’t want to give too much away it will become more obvious as the story progresses.

Do you have a favourite Lovecraft story? What other horror writers do you like?

1992
Cthulhu was keeping an eye on me as I wrote this.

 

By the way things have been a bit hectic for me over the last few days. I was hoping to write another Sky-Pirates installment, but I’ve had little writing time so far this week. It’s my birthday in a few days and I’m organising a party (which is really out of character for me), and have some other things planned, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be online in the short term.