Every day, like a moth to a flame, I revisit this spot, eager to see it again. Leaning back against the tree, I gaze out onto the horizon. My eyes scan left to right, right to left. It was here, on this small protrusion of land, I saw it hovering silently, deliberately above the Atlantic water. Mechanical, organic, frightening and alluring all rolled into one. For hours I watched with morbid fascination until it finally disappeared into the sky. Since then, my dreams, every waking moment, have been obsessing over it. So here I sit, waiting, hoping, for its return.
Burn To Your Core
Joseph A. Pinto
And still I survive here; and I am charred; and I am lifeless without ever having died. You surround me with portrait skies my limbs can never touch; only the water to nourish me, delivered by beak of bird and sob of storm. Yes, you planted me in barren ground, but I chose to take root. Strove to blossom. More than ever, I realize I cannot. How deathly I must appear against the backdrop you manufactured, an obstruction to all you’d thought perfected. An eyesore so startling I am beauty in my own right; it must burn to your core.
Rest In Peace
Last night I ate with my family for the last time. My brothers and sisters drank, danced, laughing as they have laughed for centuries while gorging themselves to sate the endless void. Let them. I can’t remember ever feeling so full, so monstrously sick of it all. Dawn approaches. Over and over the sea heaves itself against the grey shingles. I was born here; it seems right that I should end here too. Standing on the shore, I watch the waves and the ash floating over them. Birds scream. The sea sighs. I am here, now, and it is beautiful.
It’s been years since anything has blossomed. Sure, an overly ambitious weed may sprout from time to time, or a sporadic leaf may unfold from the tip of a naked branch, but the inky blackness from the soil strangles any attempt to splash color onto its infected landscape. Mankind and nature alike have been smothered by the rot that has stolen the color from the ground and seas. The sky remains the only hint of color in our decimated world and even that will soon be gone. Each day grows shorter, every night becomes longer. We did this to ourselves.
Duel at Dawn
A gentle breeze carries the stench of rot to this seemingly idyllic park. Voices, agitated, from both sides, toss curses at each other, bellowing out that the other will get what is coming to him. They back up to each other, take the ten obligatory paces, turn, and aim.
Lightning strikes the little piece of land jutting out into the river as it has for hundreds of years, ripping through the soil. Both men drop to the ground without a shot being fired.
There will be a duel at dawn once more. Until there is a victor, neither can rest . . .
Finally, a precious moment alone. Staring into the vast emptiness of sky her troubled thoughts churn. The afternoon sun glares in the distance. She frowns as she watches it, an uneasy feeling creeping over her. It is not the sun. It is moving, hurtling towards her quickly. It comes to a sudden halt above her, a huge and gleaming object. She clutches her ears as a deep grating hum fills her head. She thinks to run, to scream, but she can’t move. Her body begins to rise, sucked by a stream of blinding light into the belly of the craft.
She was hanging from the lone tree by the sea, the very place we first made love, our sweat crystallizing with salt, the ammonia scent of our urgency sticky between us. Her limp body presented a dark silhouette against the setting sun. I saw her clothes in a wrinkled pile beneath her feet, toes pointed to where we once lay, a jumble of limbs and satisfied orifices. The surf crashed, imperceptible flecks of foam plinking into the pores of my face.
Her body jerked.
One cut. She gasped.
Into the sea, my love. I promised you a beautiful death.
That was the day our greatest fear came true. A slow build war neither cold nor vigorous. The talking heads had spewed their hype for months, only exacerbating the arrogant, heavy-handed mistakes of the politicians. Cultures clashed causing egos to surge up and trample all over rationale. It wasn’t surprising that international spite and jealously is what pushed the button in the end. When the alert hit the airwaves and our government admitted their diplomatic errors, it was far too late–death was on the way. No sense in running. I just sat down and watched the mushroom cloud form.
By Nina D’Arcangela
Raised are the seas that stood calm before me; quelled are those that traveled by wing to mock me; desiccated is all that once grew to surround me – I stand alone. Arms raised toward the heavens, I pulled upon God’s wrath to sear man’s attempt to staunch my avarice, my deserved ferocity. Tarred may be my flesh, but my spirit stands rooted in this land; untouchable. I thrive not for my glory, but for the one I have served eternally. Each leaf bloomed; yet another tear of poison shed. Each leaf fallen; yet another drop of the demon’s blood spread.
Each piece of fiction is the copyright of its respective author
and may not be reproduced without prior consent. © Copyright 2015
Image © Copyright Dark Angel Photography. All Rights Reserved.
His left arm hung from its socket, the blood running from deep gashes down its length, dripping off his fingers in a steady stream and collecting in a pool on the ground next to his foot. Hunched over, tired, with labored breathing, he still held his axe tightly in his right hand. Blonde hair, caked in dirt, sweat and blood, hung in front of his hardened face covering blue eyes that had yet to concede defeat.
With a Viking’s defiance, Anders Randalson looked into the eyes of his opponent.
Wolf like and taller than the average man, the creature was made in the very image of Fenrir.
The beast was not without its own battle scars. A deep cut ran from its right ear down the face, narrowly missing its right eye and ending at the snout; its torso decorated with lacerations and contusions.
“You have fought bravely, Norseman,” the beast hissed, foam dripping from its parched and thirsty lips. “It is over, though. Accept your fate and I will make it quick.” It swallowed hard before continuing. “The Valkyries are here to take you to Valhalla.”
Anders let his eyes depart from the beast to take in his surroundings. Bodies littered the coastal plains, with the earth itself a crimson brown thanks to the liters of spilled blood. The trees that sporadically grew from the ground were bare and void of any vegetation, almost serving as markers of the fallen.
A caw caught Anders’ attention and he looked up to see two ravens land on top of one of the dead trees.
“They aren’t here,” Anders said, returning his gaze to the Son of Fenrir. “Not yet.” He grinned as he readied his axe, preparing for another clash.
The beast hesitated briefly, sighed, and quickly regained its composure. It smiled, baring dozens of razor sharp teeth. A guttural sound rumbled from deep inside its throat, erupting into an ear-splitting howl of rage as the two combatants charged towards one another with death on the line.
Anders raised his axe and swung it towards the beast’s head but his opponent was quicker. It dodged the axe’s blade and raked its claws along the side of Anders’ chain mail, slicing his skin underneath. The beast snapped at Anders’ face with its enormous mouth, its breath hot and foul on Anders’ skin, just missing him by inches.
Seizing an opportunity, Anders head butted the beast between its eyes and managed to strike it in the jaw with the blunt edge of his axe.
The Son of Fenrir roared in pain and anger, jumping out of the way at the last second as Anders tried to split its skull.
Wincing as the fresh cuts on his side burned, Anders could feel his strength draining with each labored breath.
“Look around you, Norseman,” the Son of Fenrir taunted, slowly circling him. “I can bring the end about quick and painless. You have earned your spot in the Great Hall.”
The ravens flapped their wings and cawed again.
“Almost,” Anders replied.
In a sudden burst of power and quickness that caught Anders off guard, the beast charged, throwing its shoulder into Anders’ chest. The blow sent the wounded Viking sprawling onto his back. Before he could push himself up, the beast was upon him. It tore through his chainmail, driving its claws deep into his gut. Anders screamed as the beast maneuvered its hand around until it was able to grip the bottom of his ribcage.
“I gave you two chances for a quick death,” the Son of Fenrir snarled. In a motion that sent agony rippling through Anders’ body, the beast lifted the Viking into the air. “Now I will make you beg for death in such a manner that the All Father himself will be ashamed of you.” It lifted him higher and Anders rolled his head back as he screamed.
In one final surge of strength, Anders swung the axe with all he had, surprising the beast. It tried to dodge it but was too slow as the blade cut into the skull, lodging itself inside the beast’s head.
Howling, it ripped its hand, along with shreds of entrails, out from Anders’ stomach, dropping the Viking onto the ground.
The Son of Fenrir tried to grab the axe’s handle and pull it out, but the blade had been buried too deep. It staggered a few steps to the left then limped to the right. The beast’s breathing became shallow as it dropped to its knees. It turned its head and looked into Anders’ eyes one last time, then fell forward.
It did not move again.
Anders turned his attention to the grey sky and saw the ravens flying overhead. With a final caw, they acknowledged the fallen warrior as the Valkyries flew down to carry Anders home to Valhalla.
~ Jon Olson
© Copyright 2015 Jon Olson. All Rights Reserved
The calm evening teemed with latent purpose. Warm lights glowed in the windows of surrounding suburban homes as families finished their supper and settled down in front of their televisions for the night’s sitcoms and news casts. Nothing moved outside, but the gentle scraping-tumble of fallen leaves along the curb.
Nothing moved, but much was watching. More than a dozen pairs of eyes peered from the shadows of cold cars and unlatched sheds, all focused on the same house.
Inside, a wrinkled man stood under the yellow light of a bathroom sconce. He selected a couple pills from the medicine cabinet and downed them with an oversized swallow of scotch. With a trembling hand, he wiped the overflow from his chin. Deep creases, darkened by time and things that cannot be unseen, underscored his faded blue eyes. Averting his own gaze, he frowned and tossed the glass into the sink. The etched crystal clamored against the porcelain basin. He slipped his arms into a thick fleece robe before walking out of the room and down the unlit hall.
Outside—a few moments later—dormant purpose awakened.
The tranquility of the neighborhood remained intact despite the sudden flurry of activity. Gear strapped men poured from vehicles, storage sheds, and various points of cover like wasps from a disturbed hive. Within seconds, they traversed the property’s uneven walkways, forsaken lawn, and unkempt flower beds, charging toward the old man’s house in utter stealth. Carbine assault rifles led the way as the men gained entry and navigated to the man’s windowless bedroom.
The entire SWAT team converged on their rendezvous point and fell still, weapons trained on the single location. All attention shifted from the unoccupied bed to Captain Sutherland, who wasted only a brief moment to incredulity before throwing hand signals to each group. As the team scattered—skulking room to room, rechecking the entire house in continued silence—he whispered into his shoulder radio.
“Eyes, the Intel is bad. The target may be aware. Any exterior movement?”
The response came with a soft click, “None, Sir.”
“Sir!” The terse whisper came from an officer behind him. The Captain turned to see the man pointing at the floor next to the room’s only nightstand. He moved closer with slow, deliberate steps. At the wall’s base, a faint seam of light pulsed in the darkness.
Sutherland clicked the recall on his radio three times before approaching the area. With the measured precision of a bomb squad technician, he ran his hand up and down the wall, then the legs of the small, adjacent table. His fingers slid along the surfaces with uninterrupted fluidity until he reached the narrow space between the nightstand and the plaster. He signaled to the arriving team with a fist over his head, pointed at the wall, and then depressed the unseen button.
A portion of the wall pivoted open, oozing more light into the bedroom. Sutherland signaled again, this time wordlessly ordering only four of the men to action. One officer approached the flickering light and peered through the gap with a mirrored wand. Then, pushing open the door with the muzzle of his rifle, he entered the space; the exploratory team and their Captain following close behind.
It was a tapered, unfinished hallway that terminated after a few feet. At the end, a rectangular hole in the floor glowed with faint yellow light; a quick, mirrored view revealed a descending staircase. From somewhere below, a muffled voice spoke in hurried tones—muffled, but distinctly German.
The leading officer reached for a stun grenade, but the Captain stopped his hand as a second voice emerged. After listening for a few moments, Sutherland indicated to move onward with artificial eyes. The stairs took them one story below the home’s basement level. At the bottom, heavy curtains shielded their descent, but also the activities and occupants on the other side.
Though still unintelligible to the team, it was clear the two voices were very different in pitch, yet both spoken in similarly swift and harsh demeanors.
Captain Sutherland peeked through the fabric. After a brief view, he stepped back and faced his team.
“It’s bad,” he whispered, shaking his head.
The officers exchanged wide-eyed glances.
“We take Hausser alive—use restraint. Possibly armed.” Sutherland hissed at his men and clicked his shoulder radio three times. “Take him alive.”
Turning back to the curtains, he brought up his Carbine and took a deep breath. He counted down with his fingers, then burst through the hanging cloth.
The scene was fairly static, but the nature of the in-progress events made it feel like chaos to him. Adrenaline prickled along every nerve as his eyes darted around the room—trying to process it all while remaining focused on safety and containment.
His men were shouting.
He was shouting.
SS General Wilhelm Hausser sat at room’s center, kneeling amid an extensive arrangement of half-melted candles, lines of carefully placed sand, shallow bowls of cloudy liquid, and a variety of chalk-drawn symbols that looked to Sutherland like modified pentagrams, stars, and swastikas. A massive stone sarcophagus, draped with fabric, bordered the main wall. Atop the altar was several silver pans bloodied with corporeal offerings and the human remains of what once was a young woman. Nazi banners lined the walls, flanking the altar.
Hausser held his blood covered hands in the air, one of them still clutching a dripping, ornate dagger.
“No. No, you don’t understand,” he said, the sleeves of his robe shaking as he yelled back at the officers, “Wait. Ju—just wait.”
“Put down the weapon!”
The Captain joined the shouting match, while motioning to his team with an open hand that his query took precedence. “Who else is here? Where are they?”
“Please,” the German replied, rising to his feet, “I must be allowed to finish—it has never been left unfinished.”
“Stop! Drop the knife, now!”
Hausser pivoted, moving forward, pleading with the speaking officer, “You don’t understand. We must—”
Deafening shots echoed through the chamber.
“No!” Sutherland shouted. “Stop firing!”
He dropped to check the German’s pulse.
Amid a bloody coughing fit, the war criminal forced out his last words, “Must finish. Read book out loud. Do… it. Or… or… he’ll…”
“Fuck! We needed him alive, God damn it!”
“But the knife…” the officer argued. “Sir, he was—”
As if in the throes of an earthquake’s seismic wave, the chamber rumbled. A deep, booming voice intoned in an unknown language, “Hasturyar nglui uh’e tharanak li’hee tharod.”
Cracks split across the walls like lighting. Dust sifted down as the house above them groaned. For the first time in his long career, Sutherland didn’t know how to instruct his men. He saw the wild panic in their faces, and was certain his looked the same. Any blind hope he held in regaining control, in helping the team, fell prey to the unthinkable.
The voice spoke again, but this time it had a source. Knocking the offerings—her own flesh and organs—to the floor, the corpse sat up and stepped down from the altar. “Kn’aoth ee grah’nnyth sgn’wahl!”
Her empty eye sockets glared at the officers. She raised a finger to them and one by one, they suffered. They screamed—a high pitched, unnatural scream beyond the agony he’d heard from any wounded soldier in Vietnam. Blood poured from their eyes, filling their goggles, and by the time they brought their hands up to their faces the blood and viscous fluids rained down from under their helmets.
One after another, his men died; none made it more than a few feet.
The corpse stepped close to the Captain, her empty sockets now aimed at him. He tried to speak, but the air grew dense in his throat, constricting his lungs like icy water. A searing light flashed in his eyes and burned through the synapses of his mind—his brain afire with a torrent of whispering voices and ritual scriptures and symbols.
Sutherland felt something wet running from his ears, from the corners of his eyes, down his throat. He could feel the force and vibration of his own screams, but only heard the painful whirlwind of voices as they converged into one. The booming voice consumed his senses. It spoke in the same archaic language, but now, somehow, he understood.
“Rhagyth ekn—but you, I will keep. Go wreak chaos upon the mortals; announce my arrival. Announce extinction.”
A sudden wave of numbness consumed his head and flowed down throughout his body. The burning pain was gone, but something else took residence in its place. Like an itch, it nagged at him—a prickling thought, that told him to act.
It had to be scratched.
Sutherland lifted his rifle and fired a round into the woman’s skull and her corpse dropped to the floor. The itch cooled for a moment, but came back stronger. It dug at his psyche like a necrotic rash eating away his sanity. It pushed him, urged him to do as commanded, and to start with the rest of his team.
He looked down at the rifle in his hand. “No. I—”
“Go!” The voice shook the room, further cracking the foundation, and exacerbating the urge in his mind.
It had to be scratched.
The Captain raised his rifle under his chin, “Do it yourself!”
He pulled the trigger and crumpled to the floor. Blood and pulp trickled out of his helmet. Dead eyes stared at the wall.
His hand twitched.
Then, he pushed himself up off the floor, grabbed the nearest rifle, and slapped a fresh magazine into place.
— translation: “My pleasure.”
~ Tyr Kieran
© Copyright 2015 Tyr Kieran. All Rights Reserved.
The ground below your delicately formed feet begins to shift, sending you tumbling to within a breath’s width of the insanity you know awaits you should you ever truly fall; you struggle to maintain your hold – a hold that for eons has treated you so kindly, so reverently, so graciously. You suckle and gasp for that earlier delight that still echos through your now destroyed body. This gaping new view of the emptiness you see around you leaves you wondering which part of this horror-scape is to be accepted as a horror of your own making, and which part is far too horrible to be allowed existence any longer. How does one go about choosing their individual horror without having a previous grasp of their own tenuous reality? A reality stroked so gently; consumed so fully; torn to pieces in such an eloquent display of cruelty… naive, silly girl, you never did pay attention to anything other than your own wants – why did you not heed the danger when you still had the chance to do so?
Existence in this newly scorched reality is – other. You breathe in the foul tainted air, retching vile fluids from your own rotting organs while desperately reaching for handfuls of once moist, rich soil; the soil that continually sifts through your small clutching fingers; for you cannot hold what is no longer there. You weep for a blanket to shroud you from the view of your newly exposed self.
Can you no longer feel the gentle caress of the sun’s offered warmth? Have you, like the insignificant creatures that feed from your lush womb, begun to shrivel under his now harsh and ever seeking glare? No, not you; for you will offer yourself to this beast who brings the searing pain only to weep at its feet while its brilliance burns you from within; laying to waste the wretched thing that you are. You will seek to undo this cruel fortune that has been bestowed upon you, but in that seeking, you will yourself be undone. You are a creature of will, one foolish enough to forgo turning your face from the ever increasing blindness the searing light brings; you are a creature that believes herself to be the worst of all things in his eyes… worthy.
This all consuming brightness, this overwhelming luminescence, this addictive, abusive wave that pounds its putrid nourishment into you – how you will suffer for it… begging for his mercy, a mercy that he does not pretend to offer, but you will beg nonetheless… and in doing so, you will try to rise upward; growing closer to the light believing yourself to be his equal – this giver of all things; this taker of pure souls. But your soul is not pure, is it? Your soul is tainted by the ecstasy of existence. You, who have fed off the offal that has been lain down upon the altar before you; you, who have sipped from the chalice with the proffered blood of those baring no shame, the untainted, the yet to be ripened; you, who have ripped the meat from the bones of the small bleating sheep with your bared teeth and ragged claws as it lay there staring up at you with trusting, unknowing eyes. All the while, glorious creature that you are, you feel nothing; not an ounce of remorse for your glutenous act of satisfaction, feasting on the dying embers of the slowly dwindling soul before you.
The feathered one who tainted the sweet nectar – the devourer of forbidden fruit – the selfish wretch who cannot exist without consuming the flesh of the gentle, the deserving; you are these things and more. You are the speaker of lies – muttering those sacred and meaningless words while they are being whispered every so seductively into your own arrogant and self-indulgent ear. You are the reason the soil shall burn; you are the reason the soil is already burning.
You are a thing not worthy of worship, though you have had much of it, but now the beast has come to set you to rights; your penance shall be to worship him with the blind devotion you once commanded for yourself.
© Copyright Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved