Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"From Beyond"


Allison sat crosslegged on the floor of the old barn, sobbing. "I can't help I miss you so much. You left so young. I just wish you could come back. Even if it was just for a day." Even tear stained eyes seeing between snot covered fingers couldn't miss the flickering light. A chill wind blew her brown hair back and dried some of the moisture from her face.

"Here, sis. Coming to you." The voice was crackly, like static from an old radio.

Allison fought to her feet, ankles and toes complaining from the loss of circulation from two hours of sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce. She giggled at the saying from when they were kids, even as she looked into the jagged black hole in space. Through it, she could just make at a girl dressed in blue, dark hair covering her face. "Mel. Melissa is that you?" The dress looked like the one she'd been buried in.

"Yes. Keep talking. Helps me." The voice was stronger, but there was still some kind of distortion.

"I've missed you so much, honey. How is this even possible?" She shook her head. Now wasn't the time to worry about that. "I've come here every day since the accident. I felt so bad about what happened. I know part of it was my fault. Playing with that game we found in the attic was my idea."

"Couldn't have known. The game was older than anything. Opened the gate." Her voice was stronger and the glow increased.

Allison could make something else out behind her sister. "Run, sweety. I think something's chasing you. Come faster." Her voice took on an edge of panic.

"Already got me. Now going to get you." The body that might have once been her sister shuddered and whipped its head back. The eyes were little mouths with pointed teeth. When she opened her mouth to scream, tentacles with eyes instead of suckers wormed their way out.

Behind the horror that had been her sister, a massive creature moved in shadow. It had its own tentacles tipped with hooks and lined with barbs.

"No. No. It's not my fault. I couldn't have known." Allison walked back from the tear in space. There was no way her sister or the thing using her as a puppet could make it through.

The air shimmered and ropy, slime covered masses forced their way through and pried open the doorway.

Allison didn't notice the blood trickling from her eyes and ears. "Not my fault. Not my fault."

"You cheated at the game." The Melissa puppet's voice rasped from its eye sockets. "This should be you and not me. You would be the key. You would feel my terror and pain."

Allison whirled around and began running for the barn door. Instead of getting closer, every step took her further away. "I didn't want you to win. You always won at everything."

The Melissa Puppet sat foot on the cracked floor boards. "It's okay, my sister. It used me for the key, but you will win the consolation prize. It also needs food for its young."

Screams echoed off of the trees, frightening birds into the air.

Art Source: Horror by Kredepops on Deviant Art
Story and Characters (c)/by Scott Roche

#Horror, #Lovecraft, #Gateway, #ScottRoche, #Cheater

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Shomriel."


"Shomriel."

The voice, though unspoken, nearly destroyed the fallen. Just the utterance, directed solely at one being, was far too...large, far too...significant to be borne by just one living thing. In truth, if the word had been directed at a mortal creature, the poor, piteous thing would have exploded into a fine red mist.

As it was, Shomriel was groveling on the ground, clutching its odd, insect-like head in its six pairs of hands. The fallen angel spluttered, its mandibles clacking and jerking in pain and abject agony.

"Master....please....your....v..v....voice...."

Stygal shoved another handful of screaming souls into his massive, garage-sized gullet. Their screams were the perfect seasoning for this particular gory repast, and he was enjoying himself far too much to bother himself with thoughts of his servant's sufferings.

"Shomriel, my Worm. Report," Stygal thought. Mental words whipped across the planes of existence to find their mark in the mind of the demon, Shomriel.

The six-armed demon flailed like it had just stuck its tail into a 220 volt outlet. "M...m....master! A...Ah...all goes....a..ah...according...to plan!"

The Demon Lord barely heard his servant's cries for pain. Somewhere, hundreds of Christians were being martyred, their heads sawn off by men in dark robes. Stygal, He-Who-Brings-Death, could feel his power growing with each arterial spurt. He gloried in the unspoken, yet abject and outright, worship of his name. Stygal lost himself in the deaths of the martyrs, and for a while, nothing else in all the universe existed.

Finally, he came back to himself and snatched up three more handfuls of souls. As he brought the first handful to his mouth, he surveyed the writhing, small, insignificant, yet tasty things. For a moment, he almost considered pausing his feast, but....

"What of Olarus, Worm?" Stygal asked, his mouth full again of heady smells, flavors, and screams.

Shomriel was nearly mad with pain. The fallen would have given anything...anything...if his Master would cease speaking directly into it's thoughts. If it believed that any would hear it, it would have considered praying to the Almighty for the smallest pause in the torture, but Shomiel knew better.

"Oh...oh...Olarus ssssss...suspects nothing my Lord! Ssssoon...my....legions...will be in....plaaaaace....to ah...ah...aaaact!"

"Well done, Worm," Stygal replied, crunching with satisfaction. "Put your legions in place and stand ready for my signal."

"Yessss! Y...yyess, Master!"

The Demon Lord severed the connection with his servant and surveyed his domain. He was unhappy to see that many of his favored snack was fleeing from him. No great matter, Stygal thought to himself, soon I will have both the souls and the bodies upon which to dine...soon, when his legions tore down the Curtain from within, and opened all worlds and reality to him. Then, Stygal would again be known by the name which he'd received in the Time Most Ancient.

He-Who-Brings-Death would again rule from on high....

Art Source: "He, of Genocide" (c)/by andrewmar
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth,  #fabricofreality, #Olarus, #Makes, #Me, #MMWW, #TheCurtain, #Shomriel, #Meltsar, #Tenet, #TenetsTales, #Stygal, #DemonLord, #HeWhoBringsDeath

Monday, August 29, 2016

Olarus turned from his task, irritated.


Olarus turned from his task, irritated. The Curtain was beset from all realms and upon all sides, and despite his most valiant efforts, the Once-Angel was barely able to bridge merely the most critical of the tears. All around him, the tendril-world of Between--the Space-Betwixt-Space--flickered and flitted like unending ribbons of intertwined existence set against colliding fields of oscillating light and shadow.

As he walked, stones that looked more ancient than the stars themselves coalesced from nothingness into substance, providing a solid footing for his strides. To Olarus, this amazing event was utterly unremarkable, as Between was an integral part of him and of his existence. He had been created when this place was created; he was made to make safe, make sure, and maintain the Curtain. Between, or at least this area of Between, was as much an extension of his being as were his three sets of arms. To the Once-Angel, this simply was the way things were. But things were not now the way they should be as it related to Olarus and the Curtain...they had not been that way for some time, in fact.

And the Once-Angel was going to do something about it.

"Show yourself, Shomriel!" Olarus bellowed. He did not attempt to hide his anger or his frustration. The strands of Between shivered and quivered in a reflection of Olarus's rage.

The mist-strands of a particularly dark area of Between circled slowly, like dark ribbons floating on the surface of a muck-filled pool; vine-coated stones and strange, oddly marked cylinders of stone began to grow and form out of the darkness. Across those stones came crawling an abomination.

The Once-Angel shuddered. Though he found it hard to believe now, Olarus knew that he and this thing were once of the same ilk. They were both of the Meltsar, but Shomriel had fallen long ago and had become a horrific, twisted thing indeed. Now, the pale-skinned creature scuttle-crawled like a lower thing, scrabbling with both its legs and its three sets of horned, clawed, and armored arms. It had a long, prehensile tail that ended in a wide-knife blade bone that whipped and slithered like a thing with its own perverse will. But most changed to the eyes of Olarus was the visage of Shomriel. Long ago, they had both been among the most beautiful to behold of the Hosts of Heaven, but no longer for the pale-skinned Shomriel. Now, the fallen had a twisted and inhuman countenance - a terrifying cross between devil, nightmare, and insect.

The corrupted walkway of ghastly stones met the precise and ordered walkway of Olarus, and the fallen creature scamper-scuttled before the blue-skinned Once-Angel. It drew itself up and the semblance of the two fallen, one recent and one ancient, was chilling.

Shomriel cocked its strange, alien head and hissed, "Greetings, brother. What aid might Shomriel bring thee?"

Upon being referred to as 'brother', Olarus took an unconscious half-step back and Between shivered in response. Some of Shomriel's mandibles flexed, a motion sign that Olarus would soon learn equated into the fiend's smile, and the fallen twisted its head in the other direction. The effect was...unsettling.

Finally, Olarus spoke. "I...I am in dire need of your help, Shomriel. The Curtain is being ripped and torn at a rate that I cannot maintain by my own. I would ask that you and...our other brethren...the Meltsar under your command, would aid me in defending the Curtain."

Shomriel shifted its uncanny head first in one direction and then the other, so far so that it almost looked as if the creature's head would snap off. After staring with its unblinking ebon eyes for a long, silent time, it finally hissed a reply. "Yes, my brother. Shomriel shall help thee. But Shomriel has a price."

"Name it," spat Olarus.

"The next time the Betrayer passes through the Curtain, he shall not leave."

Olarus did not reply, but merely nodded.

"Shomriel will claim his prize...This time, Tenet shall not escape."

Art Source: "Guard of Sanctuary" (c)/by D8P
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth,  #fabricofreality, #Olarus, #Makes, #Me, #MMWW, #TheCurtain, #Shomriel, #Meltsar, #Tenet, #TenetsTales

Sunday, August 28, 2016

With the horn he drank his last Supper's Wine


"With the horn he drank his last Supper's Wine, His libation pouring through feeble bones, still he holds his justice close, while he waits an alabaster Throne..."

"Do not mock the dead," Tenet answered harshly.

The fleshless voice replied, "I do no insult to a fallen blood brother. An oath I swore and uphold."

"This is a holy man! He would bear no allegiance to a Fallen," Tenet protested, his beard against his chest as if pressed down by a crown of iron.

Cold burning eyes studied him. "It is no shame to confess lament. Our brother walks openly behind the Tapestry from which you finally wandered out."

Tenet's shivered under his thick cloak. Silver streaks slipped over his grey face. He finally let the truth break free with his grief, "I come too late."

"In his first steps beyond the Tapestry, he desired to tell you he held no grudge in your absence," the spirit consoled.

Tenet wandered closer to gaze upon the thick beard under the Grecian helmet. He stared upon the waxy face and realized how long he had been away. "Too long...," he muttered into his own goat-beard.

A cold hand fell on his shoulder and, despite his native distrust, the weary wanderer accepted the solace of the undead. "Our friend awaits the Day of Returning."

The spirit sighed and mournfully added amid Tenet's quiet vigil, "It is for us to respect those as brave as Giovanni to stare their dread Foe in the face and call Death friend."

Art Source: "King Specter" by BorjaPindado
Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship, Tenet and Giovanni (c) Brannon Hollingsworth

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Xye leapt, simultaneously heating and charging her twin stingerz as she did so.


Xye leapt, simultaneously heating and charging her twin stingerz as she did so. “Death comes to you, Pheres!” she screeched, landing mere hairs-breaths behind her prey. She immediately leapt again, trying to catch him mid-air.

The purple-skinned mutant growled, bounding in mid-air off the carcass of a rusting tower of ruined autos. He reversed his momentum and slammed into Xye’s yellow-and-black carapace in the empty space above the arena.

The crowd went wild.

He was inside the reach of her stingerz now, but not her mandibles or her deadly abdomen sting. Xye wrapped her arms around his back, locking one stingerz over the other and tried desperately to plunge the venom-laced, two-foot long hollow spear into the mutant’s flesh.

“You will die, foul thing! I'll find my freedom from the DeathDome!” Pheres spat. Two massive claws shot out from the odd otherworld device on his wrist and plunged into the completely surprised Xye.

The wasp-woman screamed, golden blood flowing from the deep puncture in her slender waist. Pheres's brutal attack had nearly severed her in two. She answered the mutant’s sting with one of her own, driving her abdomen stinger deep into his thigh. Her glassy eyes glittered with instinctual hunger and learned pride as she pumped the viscous venom into his flesh. 

It was now the mutant’s turn to bellow. He did and the crowd responded in turn with a titanic roar of their own.

The two combatants slammed heavily into the bedrock arena floor, long-since stained black with the combined blood of those countless thousands who died within the gladiatorial arena. Neither of the normally lithe beings managed to dodge or roll away any of the momentum from their fall--they both hit like wet sacks of concrete.

Thousands of voices all around them went up in a titanic wave of adoration and approval of the show...and in arrogation of it's continuance.

Pheres groaned, spitting blood out of his mouth and nose. "I...will...be...free...beast!" Each word was ripped, kicking and screaming, away from the pain inside him.

"You are a fool, Pheres! You will never be free! Listen to the crowd!" Xye paused, drawing breath in past her weakly flexing mandibles.

The purple-skinned mutant did as his opponent said and perceived the crazed faces of the throng around them. The mob was indeed mad for blood, and realization slowly began to dawn.

Xye continued, the words coming in ragged rasps, "They will drink you in like a flagon of water and toss the ruined husk away when you are spent. Mark my words, mutant, I may die here this day, but you will die here in a day soon to come."

Like a sinking ship, the truth of the Wasp-woman's words finally hit the bottom of Pheres's brainpan. His pale blue, pupil-less eyes widened with the inexorable weight and inescapable actuality of it all. He growled, pushing himself up from the bloody bedrock. Slowly, painfully, he began to crawl towards his opponent.

The crowd, sensing the coup de grace to come, cheered louder and louder with each of the purple-skinned mutant's unrelenting movements.

Pheres clapped a thick hand on Xye's thin neck. The Wasp-woman flailed weakly, golden life-blood gushing, but it was a foregone conclusion.

The savage swarm of the DeathDome leaned forward collectively, almost holding their breath as one, massive, bloodthirsty beast. It was as if they were straining to hear the crick-crack of Xye's neck breaking.

"No one is dying here today," Pheres said, his odd golden tattoo flaring to life. With a grunt of effort, will, and mystic energy, he leaped...

Then, both he and Xye where just...gone.

Art Source: "Wasp Warrior" (c)/by Enigmasystem
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth, Pheres (c) by Corey Blankenship

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth,  #dimensions, #Freekrok, #Makes, #Me, #MMWW, #paranormal, #Pheres, #Wanna, #Write, #Xye, #WaspWoman, #DeathDome

Friday, August 26, 2016

"Damn you, Deacon," Rachel growled through clenched teeth.


"Damn you, Deacon," Rachel growled through clenched teeth. She had no idea how the man did it, but somehow her partner had a knack for getting her into the worst situations. Soaked to the bone, stalking a psychotic murderer outside an abandoned meat packing plant, this time was no exception.

The man--Deacon called him "a fiend" and refused to refer to him as anything else--had already murdered seven homeless people and an entire family: three little girls no less. He had to be stopped. The man seemed to have a penchant for torture. All of his victims had been found in positions of subjugation and terror, mouths frozen in silent rictus screams. What they'd not been able to figure out what exactly how they had died, none of the victims had a mark on them, but that didn't make them any less dead.

Rachel was pretty sure that Deacon had an idea of how they'd died, but he wasn't giving anything up. They'd been partners for a long time: going on seven years, or was it eight? She could not remember, but she'd spent enough long, tension-filled nights with the man to know a thing or two about him. The first was that if he didn't want to give something up, you were wasting your time trying to break or make him. She'd never seen a will so strong in another human. She said will to herself, but she'd never admit that to Deacon, if he were here, she'd call it thick-or-hard-headedness. Despite her mounting terror at what she was about to do, Rachel allowed a small smile to peek out at the edge of her mouth.

Rachel wished that he was here with her.

"Damn you, Deacon," she said, getting a tighter grip on her Glock 22, she flung herself away from the single street light and into the shadow of death and darkness.

Art Source: "Red Light Heat" (c)/by Benef
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth, #Deacon, #Fallen, #Imran, #TenetsTales, #Sector7, #Sectof7, #Cleatus, #Rachel

Thursday, August 25, 2016

All I could see was Rachel’s face: blood-spattered, pale, and still.


All I could see was Rachel’s face: blood-spattered, pale, and still. It was the stillness that gives a body the feeling that someone has driven a spike of frozen iron into your lower back. The kind of stillness that is simply NOT natural. All things move, even when they are still, if you get my meaning. If you don’t believe me, try staying crouched and hidden sometime--you’ll quickly begin to waver and tremble, your body making tiny, subtle movements as you try to remain still.

I bet Rachel had crouched somewhere in the dark, trying to hide from the Imran. I bet she’d shivered and trembled, legs and body quaking. I bet she’d stifled her cries. Hand over her mouth, snot running out of her cute pug nose, pushing back the gasps, tears streaming out of her bewitching hazel eyes.

I bet the Imran--that was the old name for it--had lapped up her fear. They’re known by many names: Popobawa, Khalid Khanzada, Zain Haiders--I had my own name for them, but it was the sort of name that isn’t used in polite society. Regardless of what you called them, they were sadistic, sinister, and sick-and-twisted fu… -- sorry, again, old habits, you know. In the Grand Scheme, they were roughly classified as Mid-listers among the Fallen; they feed off of raw fear and they delight in the causing of it among mortals. Metaphysically speaking, they are the wine-snobs of fear: they know how to make it, and the love everything about its production and consumption. And the sonufa… --sorry...it...it...it had gotten my girl.

I closed her eyes with one hand and with the other, pulled Donkey, my custom built .500 Linebaugh, and mechanically dropped out its normal load (my 385 grain “Mulekickers”). I crossed her still-warm arms across her chest while simultaneously popped in six rounds of my hand-made 535 grain “Derailers” with my speed-loader. My old, steel grey eyes drooped shut, and I bowed my head, whispering some soft words and wiping some water off my gritty, stubbled cheeks.

Like I said, my eyes are old. They leak sometimes.

I felt the thrum of the Power slide into me. It’s an ambient thing--like standing too close to highly charged power lines. I had a pretty good idea where the Imran had gone to hide. It would be waiting for me, in the place where I’d first encountered it, three days ago. If only I hadn’t been so stupid and so damned cocky. If only I had burned the old meat-packing plant to the ground. If I’d’a done that, then maybe the Fallen would not have been able to gain strength, take on a mortal form, and cross-over into our world.

It was on me - all of it. Rachel; the homeless folks downtown; that poor, unsuspecting family. It was all on me. Sign me up, teacher, and put my name on the board.

‘Deacon did it, Teacher! It’s Deacon’s fault!’

With a flick of my anaconda-thick-wrist, I snapped Donkey’s chamber back into place and slipped it into its well-worn holster in the hollow under my left arm. It felt good there, a reassuring and constant weight--and old friend beckoning from beneath my threadbare trench coat.

Yea, it was my fault; my mess.

I grinned sardonically.

But that meant I got to clean it up, too.

Art Source: "Horror Art" (c)/by Jan Ditlev
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth, #Deacon, #Donkey, #Fallen, #Imran, #TenetsTales, #Sector7, #Sectof7, #Cleatus, #Rachel

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Red ran for her life.


Red ran for her life. She stumbled, she scrambled, she fell and clambered back to her feet again. Whatever she had to do to put as many miles of Martian hardpan in between her and the Agency Outpost as possible. She knew that she had precious little time. Sweat blossomed inside her EXOS-1, pouring in rivulets down her face and spine, pooling in the small of her back. She wished that she could just rub it away and out of her eyes, but breaking the seal of the External Operations Skeleton would end her far quicker than anything the Agency would do to her. While the EXOS-1 made her far stronger, faster, and more resistant to damage—even the tiniest crack in the rubber seals or the reinforced T-glass would result in her horrifically quick and painful asphyxiation.

‘Which…’ she mused grimly to herself, scrabbling over a red ridge of iron-oxide rock, ‘…might be a preferable option to slow torture and death at the Agency’s hands.’ That is, if she was able to make it to the Drop-off.

Which was a big ‘if’; a really big one.

Red checked her Inth-gauntlet, swiping away all of her bio-stats and enviro-readouts that appeared by default. Her fingers danced across the built-in screen, summoning the satellite imagery of her current location and calculating the distance to the Drop-off. She knew that it would only truncate her timeline. The moment that the Agency detected the satellite linkage, they would track it back to her, find her position, and if they’d not already discerned what she’d stolen, they would quickly begin putting all the pieces together. In short, Red had just upped the ante in a major way. It didn’t matter, however, as Red had to know where she was and where she was headed. She was flying blind. The Agency had rarely let the Agents outside of Areas, and they never let them enter into the Deserts, not even with an escort.

To make matters worse, the sun was beginning to rise.

Red depressed her thumb and index finger together on her right hand and the EXOS-1 deployed its Sol-shield Unit: large, mantra-ray-like-wings extended from the neck of the suit, affording dorsal protection from the fierce, sizzling solar radiation while simultaneously using the sun’s blazing rays to add to the power cells within the protective suit. Ironically, the end effect of this cutting-edge advancement looked like something out of the Middle Ages: an old-fashioned hood and cloak.

Red keyed her built-in mic. “Red to Black. Red to Black. You out there, Black?”

The reply came in thready. Black was using that low-powered portable unit. “Black here. We are in place, awaiting your arrival. What’s your outlook?”

Agent Red galloped-slid down a scree-filled hill, scattering rocks and dust in a mini-avalanche. Panting from her exertion, Red replied, “Not good, Black. Coming in with company. Still one klick outbound.”

There was a long pause and then the single word, “Damn.”

Red didn’t bother to reply, opting instead to channel her precious breath towards furiously pumping her legs to drive her up out of the crater, beyond the next rise, to the expanse of stone-strewn flats beyond. Every step decreased the distance. Every breath drew her closer to her destination. She had to make the Drop-off. She had to get there in time. Too much depended on it. The future—everyone’s future.

Like a comet, a black object rocketed down from the hazy red Martian sky and slammed into the small crater like the punch of an angry god. The sheer force of the impact blasted Red forward, tossing her like a straw-filled doll. As she scrambled back to her feet, still crab-walk-running towards her destination as quickly as possible, a massive ebon behemoth rose from the cloud of dust and ash.

A booming voice that caused the very rocks to shudder and vibrate stormed out of the titanic robot. “Cease, Officer-Agent Red 13. By the Authority of the Agency, you are under arrest for theft of Agency Secrets and High Treason. Cease now or be annihilated.”

“Bite me, Bucket-head,” Red replied, making sure she keyed her mic for external projection. She knew it was an empty threat. With what she was carrying, there was no way they would take her out.

Emotionless blue eyes blazed like lightning behind a thunderhead with a surge of raw, churning power. Massive legs began pounding the red Martian soil like colossal jackhammers, sending plumes of white, red, and grey dust into the air. The Wayward Officer Locator/Fetcher, or W.O.L.F., gave chase to the rogue Agent Red.

Red ran.

Art Source: "Robot Chase" (c)/by Gerezon
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth, #scifi, #chase, #Red, #Black, #W.O.L.F., #Mars

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"You have found the Hall of the Headsmen..."


Anishkar stroked the feline head that crowned his staff. He gazed at the shrouded figure before him, who knelt because of the spear against his back. Another prisoner hung its head, chafing its chin on the iron collar around its neck.

"You have found the Hall of the Headsmen, but I do not think it is to join us, as your friend says," the priest told the two.

"You are correct," the bald man on the ground confessed.

"Why do you come, One-Who-Cannot-Lie?" Anishkar asked.

The prisoner raised his head. Despite the bruising around his eyes, the priest noted how black they were, flecked with silver. "How do you know what I am?"

The priest leaned forward over his staff, staring into the prisoner's eyes. "The eyes tell everything about a creature. Yours betray honesty, while your friends are filled with lies."

Tenet picked up on the emphasis in the man's words. He glanced around the cut stone throne room and noted the moss in the grooves. His wool cloak kept most of the chill of the air from his body. He shifted his gaze to the amethyst eyes inset into the black jaguar figurine. They glowed with an otherworldly light that hinted to ageless intensity. An intensity matched by the insatiable hunger in the priest's eyes. An intensity Tenet knew too well.

Tenet spoke, "So it is true."

Anishkar tilted his head, "What do you deem to be true?"

"You are among those who have taken a taste for Fallen flesh, and I am right to have come," Tenet answered.

With a sleight gesture, the spear that was behind Tenet was in his hands and he leaped at the priest. His partner took the signal and emitted a soul-piercing shriek at her guard, who crumpled into death's embrace. Anishkar had seen all of this.

Anishkar the Headhunter came prepared.

Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship, Tenet (c) Brannon Hollingsworth

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Alien powers linger in their bodies?"


"Alien powers linger in their bodies?" by Greg Orikson (Printed Posthumously)
Orbis Observer vol. 92

Ever read the Monkey Paw? It's based on a "true" story. That's Alkaev's hand, in which the alien shapeshifter has been trapped since someone ate his body and turned him into a good luck charm. That's ok. Alkaev granted the dude his every wish, to include a swift death after all the heartache his first hundred wishes brought him.

After extensive research, I discovered that Alkaev once haunted the long-lost Rus kingdom between the Baltic and Black seas. A Norse inscription in a Jarl's tomb tells a cautionary proverb, "Beware the Heart-Giver of Garðaríki." Curiously, the runic inscription was written on a stone heart next to the corpse whose ribs were expanded, suggesting its own heart had been forcibly removed.

The alien shape-shifter features in a monastery's logs. Near Inkerman the monastery of St. Clement lurked in a cave as a hideaway for Byzantine religious refugees. They brought many relics, to include the bones of St. Clement. They also speak of securing the "cursed hand of the Seducer" until the British looted the place in the 1850s. Alkaev had been reduced to a single paw by a ritualistic "god-eaters" guild and passed down as an heirloom of authority. They lost this powerful totem somewhere before these monks became guardians of the hand. It is rumored that another Orbis favorite, the Grey Man, had a hand in this transfer.

Once in British possession, the artifact switched museum vault to museum vault. Apparently, each research team had terrible tragedies. Some ended in mortuaries, others in bedlam. In a curious event, the Paw changed hands across the Pond to an American novelist, H.P. Lovecraft, for a short time before making its way into another family's collection after his estate sold.

As you fellow enthusiasts for truth know well, I could not let this mystery go unquestioned. I located the family and obtained a first-hand look at the paw on condition of anonymity (I was in central Romania--read Transylvania--at a former Count's family castle. Hint, hint.). Its shriveled, five-digit shape has long, coarse hairs along its back. This gives it an anthropoid appearance, whether man or monkey is hard to tell. Golden chain links mount the wrist where it seems to have been sheared by a finely sharpened blade. This chain is 6 to 8 inches in diameter, enough to place around an average head.

The owner warned me not to touch it, which made me suspect it was a forgery. However, upon pretense of requesting tea, I allowed myself to be left alone with the artifact. I touched it and immediately felt a hum as though some form of energy emitted from its surface. I slipped the necklace over my neck and, as the paw touched my chest, I simultaneously heard a voice in my mind and felt that same electric warmth all over me. The voice asked, "What is your heart's desire?"

I had planned a clever response you see, but it didn't ask my mind. It asked my heart. Of course, I wanted to know the truth. Every.Bit.Of.It. Now, I'm telling you: Beware the Paw before it kills you.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"You're too late, Investigator."


"You're too late, Investigator."

Soot and embers whirled in a lazy vortex around the cave opening. The voice bounced off the walls in a gravelly tone akin to basalt grinding against itself. The accused slipped off his grey woolen cowl, peering deeper into the gloom in hopes of spying the speaker without having to step into the smoky tunnel.

"How have you activated the volcano?" Tenet wondered aloud.

The smoke puffed and carried the creature's mocking laughter. "I wasn't speaking to you, Betrayer."

Tenet became aware of another shadow against a towering boulder. A roughly man-shaped form leaned against the stone with a wide-brim cover blocking its face. The shadow shifted to glance at the cave mouth and gave an emotionless response, "You have broken the conditions of your parole, leaving Seram."

"Do you think you can stop me? I have become King of Krakatau, House of Fire and Peril. You cannot hold back the death due your pets."

A rumble vibrated from the mountain below them. Tenet gawked as the shadow answered in his deadpan manner, "I am not charged with stopping the mess you've made, Orang-bati, whatever trumped up titles you give yourself."

"You can't leave these people to perish!" Tenet protested.

"It is not for me to question the charges from the Courts," the Investigator replied.

Laughter like the first tremors of an eruption spewed from the tunnel. "Don't you see, Betrayer? They have abandoned man into our hands."

"Now," the voice menaced as something leathery flapped and stirred the smoke into a gyre. "Join them in their fates."

Twin coals lit by an infernal flame glared from the back of the tunnel. The ground split beneath Tenet's and the Investigator's feet. Tenet instinctively snatched hold of the crumbling lip as he tumbled and swung himself back onto a standing column of stone. He looked to where the Investigator had been and saw a great chasm of darkness and leaping tongues of lava. Tenet drew his sword Sicol and looked for a path into the cavern that didn't lead into a lava bath.

Drawing on the Power within, Tenet cried out, "You widen a place beneath me for my steps, and my ankles do not give way."

Then he ran as fast as he could, trusting each stride to bring him into the mountain of terror alive. A glance above showed vents brimming with fire, lava, and black smog. He had moments before the whole volcano blew. How he was going to face an engorged Fallen, the Investigator, and a volcano, he didn't know.

Tenet almost prayed that a miracle would find its way into this earthly mouth of hell. If not, he knew that he would demand answers from the Judge Himself this day.

Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship, Tenet (c) Brannon Hollingsworth

Saturday, August 20, 2016

"A Boogaloo," Tenet said


August, 1685
Port Royal Island, South Carolina

"A Boogaloo," Tenet said, glancing up from his near-prone position in the soft, powder-like sand. "I'm almost certain of it."

"How kin ya tell?" James Reston, Sheriff of the newly established Stuart Town, spoke quickly but did not move. He was the sort of man who quickly gathered his ingredients but took some time before deciding what he would do with them.

Tenet pointed to the oblong footprints, each with three bulbous toes. The ubiquitous grey sand, softer and finer than talcum, was perfect for holding prints, the trouble was they were quickly marred by even the slightest breeze or movement. As fate would have it, the breezes coming off of Port Royal this evening were strong and constant. "I am sure of it. These footprints are near proof."

Reston's red face, made more so by exposure to the tropical-like glare of the sun of the South Carolinian days, scrunched up. "Alligator?" he queried, turning his head too and fro like a confused hound.

Tenet nodded slightly, shrugging his wool-shrouded shoulders. "Could be, but I don't know of any alligators that also have hands." The pale man pointed to a pair of other prints, farther apart from the strange footprints and distinctly hand-like. One appeared to be nothing more than a smudged imprint, but the other, which had trailed off the powdery sand and into the thick, grey pluff mud on the river bank, clearly displayed long, clawed fingers.

Reston spat out a curse. "So what be these Boogaloo?" He turned to watch the sun slip below the western horizon. The sky was aflame with golds, scarlets, oranges, and purples and the air was filled to bursting with the evening song of the cicada and frog.

Tenet opened his mouth to answer, but in that instant the sun was gone, and an odd, shivering hooting sound joined the cacophony in the hot evening air. All around the two men, who stood on a promontory overlooking the mouth of the Broad River, a force of things emerged from the gnarled pines and veiling Spanish moss.

They looked like twisted caricatures of miniature men crudely crafted from the sticky grey pluff mud. Their arms were far longer than they had any right being and their hands seemed purposefully fashioned for throttling. Each Boogaloo was different from their brethren, reflecting the hand-made nature of these beings, and each bore signs of their crafter's marks: necklaces of oyster-shell, bracelets of beads and feathers, or mismatched armor made of driftwood or coral. Regardless of their individual features, each of them bore a sign that marked them as totems - hand-carved faces of wood, with glowing red eyes.

As the two score and more of the creatures closed in on the two men, Tenet answered Reston, "Hand-crafted death..."

Art Source: "The Boogaloo" (c)/by GaryLiabArt
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth, #TenetsTales, #Tenet, #SouthCarolina, #Boogaloo, #Gullah

Friday, August 19, 2016

A Little Tinkering


A Little Tinkering
by J.K. Miles

Well that most definitely, did not work.

This one thought passed through Meander's mind as he huddled behind his hastily chosen cover. Sizzling bolts of super heated gas whizzed overhead. The sound of discharging rifles was rang in his ears

--Again.

Four attempts. Four failures to stop this damned war. The Kifari were lumbering, vicious numskulls devoid of any scrap of wisdom, but you had to give it to them: they were enthusiastic warriors and excellent marksmen.

The last three times Meander had materialized on the overlook, the hostilities were escalating but it was still a manageable project. The weapons were bronze swords at first. A century or so later the Kifari graduated to crude slug throwers. Except for that one clumsy attempt at chemical agents, Meander's vantage point had always been safe--well, safe for him. After his latest adjustment to the time stream, he should have seen some decrease in hostility. The rumble of tanks proved otherwise.

Meander closed his eyes and shut out the cries of troops charging the enemy line. He instead imagined atoms swirling in the void. He cracked open one of those atoms. Peeled back the ripe nuclei. The quarks lay inside, buzzing and blinking on and off in Planck time. He brushed the quantum field gently and felt the wanton coupling and uncoupling of bosons and fermion strings vibrating in a rhythm no one, least of all time-travelers, understood. Meander slipped into the stream of quantum entanglement.

He was no longer anywhere.

He was somehow localized and yet impossibly expanded. He felt what time-travelers have felt since the very first time anyone had dared pierce the quanta. He was pulled and then released by some unknown hand. He vibrated like a plucked harp string in the void.

A million years or a millisecond later the pulsating string that had been Meander managed with great effort to form the will to cease the harmonious tremolo. Meander stretched himself into the quantum field and then into the atomic swirl and by stages into himself.

His first sensation was waist-high grass brushing against his fingers. It was the same species of grass in the very same field. Without fission powered tanks to grind it flat, however, the primeval grassland flourished, filling the air with a faint lemon scent.

His research indicated that the species he was looking for was a small, slightly pudgy mammalian creature, less than a meter tall or long with a prominent, but flat nasal cavity, cauliflower ears, and six beady little eyes.

After a short walk he found some milling about and scavenging on the remains of prehistoric reptiles. They scurried when Meander strode among them. At first, their timidity made him think he had erred in his research. How could the thick-headed and bloody minded Kifari evolve from such a timid species? Not wishing to make a mistake and because he literally had all the time in the world, Meander erected a perimeter to pen the little creatures and observe them. After an hour or two there was no doubt.

He had not made a mistake.

Without places to hide, the behavior of the little grass dwellers changed dramatically. The little buggers became crazed and vicious. Some of them threw themselves into Meander's barrier until they lay bloodied and spent. The rest began to fight. It was remarkable.

Over several nights Meander sat by his fire and watched as the things rapidly developed complex social orders. When he observed rudimentary clan formation one morning, he was both startled and mesmerized. Never had he seen such social adaption so quickly in a species. Within a fortnight, some of the clans had united and squared off over limited resources. A very familiar battle field was forming right before his eyes in miniature.

Meander had seen enough. He had been commissioned to stop a genocidal war. He had tried less drastic measures. He had toppled a dynasty here and there. When the fateful battle still happened, he adjusted the development of trade and technology at key points. This had been unfortunate. Something he tinkered with had led to the chemical agent fiasco. He abandoned the strategy immediately but he still bore the scars from chemical burns. Targeted killing of military instigators hadn’t worked either. The bloodthirsty little tactical geniuses just would not take the hint!

With a grunt of determination, Meander stood up and reached down into the pen and picked up one of the Kifari ancestors. She was cowering in a corner seconds from being devoured by several strong males because she wasn't good breeding material. He held her up to his face and squinted at her in the firelight. The wiggling creature shivered in abject fear, its odd shaped nasal organ sniffing left and right just trying to make sense of it all.

Meander closed his eyes, and then he was sorting amino acids and fiddling with mitochondria. He found the hitch in the genetic code fairly easily. A snip here and a tuck there in the chain of nucleic acids and the female was devoid of the aggressive sequence causing all the trouble. He did the same to a hearty but relatively docile male who wouldn't have seen the sunrise if a phalanx of dominant warrior mammals managed to break the enemy line. He placed them in his tent for safe keeping. By the time he had dealt with the rest, his two prototypes had already started mating. After the second litter, he tagged and released them.

It only took a few days to hunt down all of the strays and vaporize them. Meander smiled at the irony. The weapon of choice was a certain super heated gas discharging rifle.

Art Source: "Genetic Engineering" (c)/by cozgames
Story and Characters: (c)/by Jonathan Miles

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #JonathanMiles, #geneticengineering, #Kifari, #Meander

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Serrated pincers clacked in the dry air



Serrated pincers clacked in the dry air. The creature’s leathery throat vibrated, emitting a hiss into the night. It opened its mandibles and the atmosphere pulsed around its saliva-laced maw. Its audience did not hear its will as words; rather, they felt its thoughts burrow under their skin and bore into their minds.

“Kh-it is time to advance our plans with these goat-herders.”

The one with a bull’s head snorted, “It has been a long time since these hairless apes pushed herds over the dunes. They worshipped us then.”

“And they will worship us again,” followed the third, its words sliding like a well-greased wheel into the other’s retort. It stole away the Θevrumineś’ tirade, parrying the seemingly inevitable argument. “The seasons shift into our favor, Vorace. The Curtain weakens.”

Vorace cocked its sloped skull to the side and then buzzed in reply. “Kh-I can taste its fraying. I have long savored the Weaver’s impotence and rage.”

“Kh-still...The time to hunt in the open is not yet. We need these servants to rebuild the gate.”

“Theros will handle motivating their cooperation,” the oily whisper on the wind replied. This elicited an amused grunt from the beefy second.

“Kh-and what will you do? You Who-Stalks-Kings-and-Plays-Puppets,” menaced Vorace as it scraped its scythe-like forelimbs against each other.

The third creature arose from the recess in the sand dune and blotted the pale moon from the night sky. The others shivered. “I will ensure those goat-herders who have more sense than most don’t remove you from this phase of the world.”

Its words burned deeper than any venom Vorace possessed. Vorace bowed its oval head to the darkness and hissed softly, “Kh-But they are weak and blind. They do not even understand where this portal leads--the rip in the Curtain their own hands have made!”

As if Vorace's rebuttal had been the ancient password, golden streaks burned in a counterclockwise manner in the midnight sky within the decrepit archway. Like condensed daylight each strand stabbed out of the darkness, though each stopped short of making a complete circle. Band within band they burned around a golden sphere which pulsed and rotated. Then the core exploded, generating a feeling to their senses like that of glass breaking from the punch of a bullet. Sand erupted outward, scattering with chunks of the archway and choking the brilliance into muted dawn.

An armored figure strode out of the epicenter, carrying a large weapon in its left hand and wearing two swords on its back. Its helmet scanned right to left, quickly taking in the desert night. The barrel of its weapon swung instantly toward the horned member of the triad. “I’ve located the minotaur and awahando. Right where the Core said they'd be. Now where is--”

The darkness pressed into itself and glided like a bolt through the air at the intruder. The warrior reflexively pulled the trigger, golden bursts ripping through the night. The shade shrieked as each round punched through it. Staying its charge, the living darkness separated into a thousand shadows and rushed toward each cardinal direction.

Theros bellowed and charged, “Coward!”

The warrior drew a blade, flicking its body as much as the weapon into the attack. The massive beast crashed into the sword, expecting it to shatter like all mortal weapons on its impervious hide. Bulging eyes stared hard as the fang slipped effortlessly into the night air on the other side. Its lower half sunk to its knees while the remaining mountain of muscle and gore fell the other way.

Vorace, alone, stared from a thousand lenses upon Theros’ corpse, the shade’s departure, and the warrior’s immaculate blade. It bowed again, this time to the soldier. It struggled to speak in what it felt was a meek tone. “Kh-have mercy, man-that-walks-the-Curtain...Let me serve you.”

The barrel leveled with what the person called an awahando and rebuked the creature, "I am no man."

The trigger finger squeezed without hesitation, adding a smoking eye to the many on Vorace’s head. It sank to the earth, its blood burning the soil and Theros’ furred hide.

The lone gunman returned the sword into its scabbard and removed the helmet. She let her chestnut hair billow in the fading sandstorm her jaunt had created. She took a breath once the dust settled and stared at the two slain monstrosities. Looking up at an unblemished moon, she asked aloud as if speaking to another person nearby, “Now that I’ve stopped this age of the world from ending, where can I find the one they call Tenet?”

Art Source: "Bounty Hunter" by OakKs
Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship, Tenet © Brannon Hollingsworth

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Invasion - Picnicus Interruptus


The war was over, had been over for decades, but everywhere we looked there were remnants to remind us of how close we came.


I spread the picnic blanket out and Sam put the basket on one corner. Our perch gave us a bit of a windbreak if we sat down, but a freak gust could still flip the checkered plastic fabric up. Better safe than sorry. I stood and stretched my long limbs, luxuriating in the bright sunshine. The plains stretched out as far as I could see. I knew they went on for miles at least. Mountains were a gray blur at the very edge of the horizon going east.


"Hey." Arms came around me and Sam's body heat radiated into me, chasing the chill of the cool breeze away. "Whatcha thinking about?"


I grinned. "How lucky I am to have you in the midst of all this." I turned and we hugged until the embrace became lingering kisses.


Sam giggled into my mouth. "We do this too much longer and the food is gonna get cold."


"Can’t let that happen." Things were still scarce and good food was one of those. The waving grain forty feet below was testament to the fact that food production was coming back online. This generation was the first to come up looking like something worth eating.


We sat in the bowl made of the mecha's gun platform. The soy noodles and sauce were still warm. Freeze dried veg made up the bulk of the nutrition. Clean water from a jug tasted better than any wine and my appetite was whetted by the fresh air. We ate and drank noisily, slurping and smacking. I leaned back against a console and belched loudly.


"Gross. And thank you." Sam grinned at me, mouth and eyes wide. A flash of red light reflected in those pools of green and white.


The roll of what sounded like thunder rumbled across the open sea of grain. It wasn't thunder, though. The sky was as bright blue as it ever was. I popped my head over the metal lip. "What the hell?" A massive ship of some kind was landing about a mile away. I'd lived on these flat lands long enough to know my guess of distance was good, even if just a guess. "Give me the..." The telescope slapped into my outstretched hand. I brought it up to my eye and focused on the thing.


It was all shards and angles, like some broken glass and barbed wire sculpture. Not human make, at least not any human I knew about. There were stories about aliens, we told over the campfires. Could this be them? Fire licked at the grass around the landing site. It would soon become a blaze eating up so much of the precious resource. Of course, if whoever was in that ship wanted us dead, it wouldn't much matter.


"What is it?" Sam's voice was afraid, but not terrified. We were both soldiers, or as close to it as anyone was. We'd fought hard for our supplies and our home, killing when we needed to.


"Hard to say. A ship obviously, but I don't know who or what..." That's when I saw them start to crawl out and down. They had four limbs, like we did, but they were attached at odd places, nearer central mass than the four corners. "Can tell if they're creatures or 'bots." Either way, this meant our picnic was over.

Art Source: Summer Love on http://www.simonstalenhag.se/
Story and Characters (c)/by Scott Roche

#action, #Suspense, #PostApocalypse, #Invasion, #Love

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My name is Fuscata.


My name is Fuscata. I am the defender of Jigokudani, what some in the distant past have named "Hell's Valley". Once, this was a place of peace. Once this was a place of spectacle. Now, these mountains are a place of conflict. The cliffs drip with gore. The rivers run red with blood. Monsters roam freely and destroy all that is in their path. Now, this place is truly Hell's Valley.

My master, Macata, told me that this was not always the way. The ancient writings here seem to support his stories. Macata told me that the change began with the Rain of Rock. Macata said that the sky torn apart and the strange stones fell from the heavens. Macata said that many called them freekrok, but I do not know why. I know only now that the land is not what it was. The waters are not what they were. My kind are not what they were.

But now, I patrol the edges of my home. My goal is to make it peaceful again. Only I, and my whispering blade, Zenko, stand in the gap. I will slay any who come to my borders. I have lost too many to the claws and the fangs of the horrors that stalk these mist-and-snow-shrouded peaks.

None shall enter my realm.

Art Source: "Saumray" (c)/by volkanyenen
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth, #Freekrok, #Fuscata, #Jigokudani, #Zenko, #Macata

Monday, August 15, 2016

"You're cornered, Jimmy!"


"You're cornered, Jimmy!"

He stood in the shadows twitching. I could smell the Bulleit on his breath even at this distance. I could also smell the thick perfume of fear underneath that stench, mingled with several doses of meth. The rail-thin perp clawed at his face, trying to block the high-beams from my cruiser. Blind fingers nearly dared to gouge out his eyes to relieve the pain.

"Ji-Ji-Jimmy's not here," he rasped.

"I know you're in there, Jim," I countered. "I know you've been trying to drown your demons. They feed on that. Fear, too. I'm here to help."

The clawing paused as a rheumy laugh cackled in his voice box. The deliver boy-turned-junkie garbled out, "Funny you speak of fear, Investigator. You're the one behind that circle."

I didn't glance at the black line I had scrawled before chasing Jim down this alleyway. "That's not for me. It'd be best you come with me and leave Jim alone."

The shadows around Jim deepened as a voice like a baffled coal furnace sputtered, "On what authority do you dare collar me?"

I shot back in my deadpan manner, "The Highest."

Another burst of laughter bubbled up from this deeper source. "You're a fool if you think you can take a Prince of Poverty on your own."

I struck my lighter and lit a cigar. I took a puff as I dropped the igniter onto the dark line in front of me. The flame kindled a golden light which converted the black sigils into living emblems. They came to life both in the air and on the ground. The golden coil slithered across the alley and traced itself around Jim and the shadows.

The delivery boy's eyes bulged. He went into a frenzy as though trying to pat invisible flames off his clothes. The shadows danced and the diabolical voice boomed in rage, "What sorcery is this, Investigator?!"

I flicked the burning coal off the end of my cigar, collected my lighter, and answered, "No sorcery at all, Tenebrae. You should remember that. Then again, you did just get back from your last visit to the Courts. Your parole's been suspended."

Three things happened all at once. A shriek. A flash. A vanishing act.

Jimmy stood in the alley, staring all around him at the decaying urban landscape. He wondered how he hadn't OD'd and where the stranger and the terrible voices went. He didn't wonder why his pants were soaked. He'd seen to that.

It didn't take him long to run home to tell his estranged mother he had been wrong and that he loved her. Guess you can chalk that up to a win-win case. Too bad they aren't all as rosy.

Art Source: "Noir Detective- Video Process" by Hideyoshi
Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Most people learn via crawl, walk, run. I jump.


Most people learn via crawl, walk, run. I jump.

I always jump.

First, it was jumping into houses engulfed in flame. Then it was jumping out of planes to combat forest fires. Then, I jumped through the inferno to reach that smooth slab of rock. All because the veins in it glowed. That's when I changed. I didn't just jump from place to place.

I jumped right out of reality.

Now I'm adrift in this place full of stars, mists, and monsters. You'd think I'd want to go home. But here's the thing. I can't go back to being me. I'm different. That stone or this place did something. I'm part of something more. If I do make it home, I'm not going to stand by and let the monsters there keep pounding on my people. It's time someone stepped up and took the fight to the invisible fight.

This place I call Nowhere changed me. I can see those who hide, and I've found or made all types of tools to fight them. My journey here hasn't made me less prone to leaping. I've become quite the hunter-of-tears as the locals call me.

You can call me Pheres.

Art Source: "Kairth" by OakKs
Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ten faces populated the rail car around me, each lost in their personal revelry


Ten faces populated the rail car around me, each lost in their personal revelry. I watched each sift through their personal thoughts and plans, awaiting the much distant destination. As a mother and her two children adjusted their warming blanket, I closed my eyes and slipped into Dreamscape.

The train lights flickered and each particle in the air glistened. I stood in the back of the rail car, right behind my own wide-brimmed form, which sat motionless and asleep. I scanned the unemotional faces around me. None registered my mirror image standing against the far wall. I leaned into the gut feeling that told me seven of the ten were passengers. Three were stowaways from another realm. This realm.

Three porcelain masks with painted smiles and slit eyes stared at me in the corner. They shared the same black shroud. I knew it. The family wasn't as benevolent as they had appeared. Too bad this was about to get messy in both worlds. My slumbering form half-opened its eyes as both right hands slipped to twin hilts.

I drew my katana and went to work.

Art Source: "Train Station - Episode 5" by Hideyoshi
Story and Characters: (c)/by Corey Blankenship

Friday, August 12, 2016

"You do yourself no favors to come here."


"You do yourself no favors to come here."

The voice filled my ears like the void itself spoke, even as it emptied my soul. The entire space caused my eyes to defocus, blurring into grey and blue. I felt like an atom wedged into a great wall of gunmetal, cold and alone. Alone, except for the voice.

"You open secrets you are not ready to hear."

This accusation angered me. I have always been ready to hear a secret. This thing didn't know me. I belted out, "Try me."

I felt a shiver run down my soul and blinked.

Then there it was. A thing I couldn't name if words existed to describe it. My body froze as my pulse raced. Again my eyes reflexively flickered and it was closer. So close it could reach and touch me.

The Thing extended one of its terrible arms and spoke once more, "Let me Illuminate you."

Story and Characters: (C)/by Corey Blankenship

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Lord of Fall shook his head.


The Lord of Fall shook his head. "No, my daughter."

The Fall Lady was not pleased. "But, Father, I want him!"

Again, the massive rack of horns shifted back and forth. "No, and that is my final word, Lia."

Almond-shaped eyes dimmed and it seemed that the entire form of the Fall Lady was somehow diminished. "But I do not think I can survive without him, Father. He is the very nature of a primal: strong, brash, unstopping, and filled with zeal and zest. I need him to survive the Winter!"

Nearby, the primitive human stood frozen and enraptured by the Lia's sorcery. If only the brute had paid heed to the words of his village shaman and avoided the Shadow Wood, he would not be here now. Despite all his fierceness, all his sheer raw strength, the man could do nothing against the spell that had totally captured him and transformed him into Lia's willing thrall. The sheer, unearthly beauty of the Princess of Autumn had utterly possessed the man's soul.

Long moments of silence passed, their otherworldly perfection marred only by the dry, sibilant rasping of falling leaves. The stately rack of antlers that served as the Lord of Fall's crown finally dipped. "And what would you do with him, my daughter." The Lord of Fall's deep amber eyes did not hide the fact that he well knew what his capricious daughter's answer would be...

...and that it shattered his aged, immortal heart.

"The same thing I do with them all, Father. I will send him back, into his filthy, cold, horrid reality. He will convert his fellows into my abject followers. They will see me and love me and they will worship me as a god!" Lia's almond-shaped eyes glittered with the madness that was rooted deep in her soul of soot and pitch. The Lord of Fall knew that the Lady, his daughter, was likely right--it would not be long before she was more powerful than any of his brethren--including him.

"Or...they will all die beneath his hands, and I shall shower in the blood of those slain in my name!" Lia turned her glittering eyes on her Father, as if daring him to challenge her. For a moment, a sliver of fear ran down the Lord of Fall's spine. He wondered if she might, in fact, be far more powerful than he at that very moment. Something screamed in the back of his mind and warned him that he should be very, very frightened of his little girl. Resigned, the Lord of Fall could do little more than nod in his silent acquiescence.

Lia smiled and then spun towards her mighty, simpleton thrall. Over his head, she placed a token of her power: an emerald shard of her reality known only as FallsHeart. The crystallized-power-in-gem-form held many magics, but mostly, it created a tangible link between Lia, her thrall, her world, and his'. As it touched his skin, it began to pulse with an corrupted green light of its own.

The Lady of Fall leaned forward and kissed the brute lightly upon the forehead. The man's eyes rolled back beneath his heavy brow and he trembled like a man possessed.

"Go, my priest. Bring me the abject love of many followers...or bring me their hearts."

He departed her realm with a snarl stretched across his features.

Art Source: "Broken" (c)/by Yuanheng Li
Story and Characters: (c)/by Brannon Hollingsworth

#MMWW, #Makes, #Me, #Wanna, #Write, #BrannonHollingsworth, #LordofFall, #LadyofFall, #FallsHeart