fantasy fiction Middle Earth short story


michael-mroczek-Cu5DGsdpQv4-unsplash.jpg“I think the vampires are the fucking weakest if you ask me,” Jack said, picking his teeth with his dagger. Savage glared at such an improper act; the man’s plaque was going to make the blade blunt very soon.

Pup snorted and shook his huge head, contrast to his small body. “Fucking idiot; that’s why no one asked you.”

“Think about it!” Jack exclaimed, spreading out his hands and looking shocked that no one agreed with him, the equivalent – he believed – to no one believing that the sky is blue. “Last dude we nailed was cherry pie; baited the poor fucker out of the house and let nature run its course.”
Pup took a hard swallow from his cup and slammed it into the ground.

“Cherry pie ain’t easy to make, Jack, and neither was that fucking job. Lost five men in the process. We were damn lucky dawn was breaking fast, lest we all would be dead.”

Jack shrugged. “Not how I remembered it, Pup.”

Savage snorted, hawked and spat yellow spittle unto the already wet floor. “That’s because you’ve got a turd for a brain,” he said, tearing into his chicken lap.

Jack rolled his eyes and scratched his wild hair, no doubt ridden with lice. “No one can survive with a turd for a fucking brain, Savage, cause then you’d think about nothing but shit.”

Sypo raised his brows. “Ah, yes, that’s why turd can’t replace brains, not cause they can’t perform the functions of the brain, but because they would make you think shit.” He said sarcastically.
Pup and Savage barked out a laugh while Duck made those quacking noises he always said was his form of laugh. They had called him Duck because of this, even though his real name was Samuel Grey – only thing similar between the names was the ‘u’ in Samuel and the ‘u’ in Duck. Pup too, was called Pup because of his small stature and his all bark and no bite attitude when it came to their circle, but he was rabid when things became fierce. Duck, however, called him Runt, and Pup, in turn, called him Daffy.

Jack was the only one who was called by his actual name, simply because Jack was a well suited name for anything and everything – Jack of all trades, recall?

The moon was bright and full, fat like an overripe fruit ready to burst, the woods lit by the white glow, giving it an eerie feel. The fire only existed to cook their food and warm their bodies. Sypo glanced up at the moon as a howl split through the air, low, distant but loud enough and close enough to reach their ears. The group became alert, though not visibly so. Savage rose to his feet and stretched. “Need to take a piss,” he said, scratching his crotch area.

“Don’t,” Jack said with a sly smile, “you might lose your cock to the beasts of the night.”
Savage snorted. “Bitch, I am the beast of the night.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Pup said, “dude doesn’t wash his anus after shitting; nasty beast.”

The group laughed as Savage walked deeper towards a bush, unknotting the laces to his pants and letting out his cock to release a long jet of yellow piss. The howling was closer now. When Savage returned, Pup said, “Heard werewolves mark their territory by pissing, telling other werewolves to piss off, so maybe they’d smell yours and make a run for it.”
Duck quacked and the rest roared. Savage smiled. “Funny,” he said when the laugh died down, “I thought that was your lot, Pup; woof-woof.”

More laughter. The howls ceased; they were here. Savage’s weapon was a very peculiar one indeed. It was a curved blade made of moonsteel, which was a deadly weapon for all supernatural forms, with the handles – yes handles, not hilts – at the sides, the blade was held in such a way that it resembled the mandibles of a beetle, and Savage fought by slashing and ‘biting’. His weapon was dropped carelessly on the floor, a long way away from him. So was Jack’s twin blades, Pup’s slingers and Sypo’s bow. They were easy prey, or so they appeared.

One wolf leapt unto the broad back of Savage, biting and clawing, aiming for his throat to claw out, but the wolf survived only five seconds after the jump, a moonblade had buried itself in its forehead, killing it instantly. Smoke coiled from the wound as the beast slid down from Savage’s back. The rest were unto them, giving no breathing room. A ball from Pup’s slingshot punched a hole into a wolf’s skull, lodging itself into the brain of the poor beast. The twin blades of Jack bit into the hearts of two separate wolves. When the hunters, the real hunters where done, nothing but corpses remained of the wolves.

Savage glanced around at them. “A small pack.” He observed.

“Green as summer grass too,” supplied Jack.

“Fresh, barely matured. I’d say five more years before they became a real problem.” Pup said, pulling out his balls from the ones he could. Savage always believed that the lad’s ammunition was very annoying to deal with. Unlike Sypo’s arrows which could be easily yanked out, Pup had to dig out his balls, which was difficult and made him very hesitant to let them loose, sticking to his hooked daggers instead.
“Not his then,” Duck said, stating the obvious.
“No,” Savage replied, disappointed. He sighed and shrugged. “Oh well; who’s up for wolf meat?”


Thanks to Michael Mroczek for making this photo available freely on @unsplash 🎁

Featured fiction Sci-fi short story


Staring at the sun, he had no doubt, would be an awesome sight, basking in all its light and glory as the absence of gravity made it seem that he hovered above it. He twisted gently, the force however, setting him into a slow spin. It was a very daft move, considering there was nothing he could use to stop it, but as the sun came into view – and his visor suddenly grew darker to prevent his eyes from burning out – Franklin spoke through his com.

“That was a daft move, you know,” she said, chagrin evident in her voice.

“Of course,” he said, as the sun wheeled out of view before he could actually view it. But that was alright; he would spin towards it soon. His visor returned to its original position. “You are the third person to tell me this.”

“Third? Who’s the second? First even.”

“I’m the first, Kisha’s the second,” he answered as he spun towards to sun once more. Only this time, at the far left of his vision, a shape hung in space, having no Vac-S.

Her sigh was sad and betrayed her exasperation. “Naseph…” she began.

The sun again, his suit’s AI told the faceplate that separated his face from the cold harsh void of space to reduce the star’s glare, by polarization. “No, don’t. I had to do this.”

“The least you could have fucking done, was hopped out of the airlock and saved us the fucking trouble,” she snapped.

He chuckled. “You know that couldn’t have happened, right?” he said, referring to the ship’s AI that had been programmed to not open the outer airlock if any occupant did not wear a Vac-S. A quirk that worked, by the suits sending messages to the ship; any person with vital signs – monitored by the chips within them – without the suits pinging the ship, was, presumably, not wearing a suit and so the airlock could not open. A handy way to prevent suicide. Not enough to stop hers though.

“Christ Naseph, how stupid are you?”

He had to admit, his choice of death was…painful. There were more painless ways to join Kisha in oblivion, but in the heat of the moment, he had picked this one. He glanced at his HUD. Two minutes of oxygen left, five minutes before Franklin reached him with the extra air bottles. That was close. Too close. He would have to speed up his death somehow. Daft as his suit was, it wouldn’t let him pop open his helmet unless it felt air pressing against its surface, matching the ship’s or at least one that wouldn’t cause his lungs to explode. So, that was gone. He sighed sadly. Franklin was going to save him, but not Kisha. It was too late for her.

He sighed once again, and his eyes widened as he thought of an idea. I shall meet you yet, my love, he thought as he rushed to action. He had, the chicken that he was, brought air bottles that would be sufficient enough for the journey back. They hung in space beside him. He reached out to the closest, his fingers knocked it into a slow, lazy spin. He cursed, waited and tried again. He nabbed it this time.

He shoved it into the hole in his back, made for air bottles. The suit nabbed it with its magnets and began letting in air. On his HUD, the timer shifted from one minute ten seconds, to one minute thirty seconds and climbing. He yanked the bottle out, the force shoving him towards the sun, spin increasing. His suit began to protest, telling him to replace the air bottle. The timer rapidly declined to forty seconds before the hole was automatically sealed.

It had worked. He had done it. He had reduced his air supply and he was going to die before she reached him. That was good. He closed his eyes, shut down his com and waited for death to seize him by his lungs…

“Almost had me there, Naz,” a voice whispered as he came to. “Almost had all of us.”

He blinked up at the blurry form of Franklin Jesus-Lives. “What the..?”

A smile was on her face. A smile. “Got there just in the nick of time. Actually, no; surprisingly, your suit suddenly had extra minutes of air left. Then I saw your air bottles.” She shook her head slowly. “You couldn’t do it, could you?”

Yes I could! I did! Extra minutes? How..?

“Thank God you got cold feet right? Thank God,” she said before leaving the medic-bay. He paused for a few seconds before yelling obscenities at the ceiling.


“You slouch,” she repeated with an amused smile.

He shrugged. “Yeah…”

“In zero-g, you slouch.” She shook her head, puzzled. “How? No, why?”

He shrugged again.

She kissed him full on the mouth. “I love it,” she said, after pulling away.

He began to cry.

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Introvert. Extrovert.

Lovely stuff, this!

musings of a garlic bagel

Photo by Kim Myten on Unsplash

I pull open my locker and half-heartedly rummage through the pile of textbooks. It’s only after a while that I realize my earphones have gone silent. I take out my phone and press the skip button over and over again until I land on the perfect track. I smile, as proud as if I was the singer herself. I am such a nerd.


It’s muffled, and I can barely hear it through the music, but I would recognize the voice anywhere. Cadence’s voice has a low hum to it that takes everyone by surprise: probably one of the many reasons why she’s so popular. I don’t pay attention, though, because even though I’m supposed to be her best friend—or at least, I’m pretty sure I am—she could be talking to anyone, that anyone rarely being me.


This time, I turn around. It

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fiction short story


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The coughs that racked his Nana grew increasingly worse with every fall of the yellow orb. With each day that passed, bright at its dawn, dull at its end, and with each night that crept away, chased by the brightness at the horizon, Ash grew more and more pessimistic of his Nana’s chances of survival. And he was not the only one.

“I do not believe she would survive another week,” Tara said, pounding the tasteless tuber that would become the sweet paste they would use to eat green soup. Ash added the sweeteners – brown coloured powders that were gotten from the pounding of husk-like objects hanging from certain plants – once she had passed the pounded pastes in the bowl to him.

“I know,” Ash admitted sadly, painfully aware of the tightness in his throat and the blurriness of his vision as tears welled up in his eyes. He gasped once, twice, trying to dislodge the large lump in his throat. He didn’t even know when he began to sob, but he knew when Tara embraced him and spun reassuring words for him: Its okay, she’s going to be with the elders; she shall dance the dance of the peaceful in the Vale; hers would be a tale of joy; no more would she feel the sorrows of the world. All well strung words, but they did nothing to make him feel better.

He stared down at her shrunken form, her skin wrinkled so badly it looked like a site of fold mountains, rising and falling. Spittle, red with blood, slowly oozed down her mouth, journeying closer and closer towards her ear. Her eyes were shut tight and her body twitched every once in a while, evidence that she was still alive, that she was still in their world. He approached her, reaching out to touch her fingers, which were now claws. He sobbed again, but he forced himself to stop. He cradled her claws in his palms and kissed the back of her hand.

“Nana,” he whispered, “do not leave me.”
She did not respond. “Please, please do not leave me.” He made these statements his mantra, and when food was ready, Tara found him, lying by her side, embracing her tightly.

“Ren, you must leave her at once; it is time to eat,” she ordered. He glanced up at her and saw her arms were folded across her chest, her lips pulled downwards in a hard frown and her eyes slightly wide. She did not understand his grief. Why should she? She was not him. She was not her favourite. She believed Nana’s time was long overdue, and she believed her words should have been enough to shatter the bounds of grief. How ignorant.

“I shall not eat. I shall not!” He moaned.

She snorted and shook her head. “When you grow hungry, the food shall be out on the table, waiting. Be sure to reheat it before you eat lest you give yourself an illness.” And like that, she was gone.

Minutes, though they felt like hours, passed and he found himself hungry; his stomach pinched painfully and protested, demanding food. He cursed himself for going against his vow, but he was afraid if he waited any longer, his stomach would be wounded as Papa’s was. He made his way to the eating room, and when he sat before the sweetened paste, he began to recall his best memories of and with Nana.

He would be lying, if he said that his grandmother was perfect, that she was a gentle soul, a kind soul, a merciful one. In fact, he believed that she would not dance the song of peace in the Vale, but scream the songs of pain in the Pit for all her dastardly deeds, and he believed Tara believed this as well. The wish was out of courtesy and not of hope. Their Nana was no altruistic person; selfish to her cold bones she was, never lent a helping hand to anyone other than her tribe. And not the tribe, her tribe, which consisted of Papa, who was long gone but before his departure – he, Ash believed, would dance the song of the peaceful in the Vale – Mama, who died two weeks after her beloved husband, Tara and himself. Anyone short of that list could, in her very own words, “Suck the balls of a donkey”.

He smiled sadly. Nana had always been a figure in his life, that he believed would live forever. After all, she had been old for as long as he could remember, and he had deduced, however wrong that deduction, that she would remain old long after he was gone; his grandchildren would smile up at her wrinkled skin, and theirs would tug at her white hair. But reality had proved him wrong.

Nana was not the best person, yes; she went against all Fa’ga’s teachings, but she took good care of her tribe and, frankly, that was all Ash cared about. He swallowed the ball of paste dipped in green soup and chuckled sadly.

“My tribe,” he recalled her saying, “I care for mine and mine alone. That includes you and your sister, your children but not your mates, and it included your mother, and – unbelievably — your father; my daughter and her mate. No one else.”

Nana, he thought, don’t die. He swallowed another ball of paste and began to cry.



A scene of a house captured from afar, with trees crowding the view so the house is just within sight.
Photo by David Hertle on Unsplash

Smith’ren stroked his new bruise and felt warm tears slowly well up in his large, disk-shaped eyes. His master must have extremely displeased with him to use violence before his guest. The man had always said that violence was not only for the animals, but employed by the animals.

“We are perfectly sentient creatures, are we not, Smith?” he had asked as he buttoned the cuffs at his slim wrists.

“Yes, my master,” Smith’ren responded, polishing the black shoes his eyes were glued to.

“Yes indeed, Smith, even though some sentient creatures are more intelligent than others,” he added.

At the moment, he was snarling at his elf, spittle slowly making its way down his pink lower lip in a chain that flashed as it caught the lamp lights hanging from the roof above. “You have made me a fool, elf!” The way he snarled the word, the amount of venom, the amount of bile and loathing that was injected into the word made Smith’ren shiver badly.

Elf, he thought, whimpering, dearest Gaia, when did that word turn into a form of insult? A brand to be slapped upon our kind so the humans would look at us as nothing. Elf, once a proud name, a name that put awe and wonder into the very humans who enslave us, the same name that was whispered to children to keep smiles on their faces; ‘St. Nicholas comes to give you good gifts, along with his jolly holly elf helpers!’ Gaia, Earth Mother, why have you forgotten your children in your slumber!

‘They are my children as well, Smith’ren Oupio,’ a feminine voice whispered.

“Gaia?” he asked out loud. A very daft mistake. His master’s snarl worsened and the hand was back, slapping Smith’ren’s face with enough force to send him spiraling, towards the marble floor, face first but luckily, his hands prevented his face from slamming against the floor. He spat blood unto the clean stone floor and when he realized this, he licked it off.

“I apologize, Earth Mother; I had forgotten,” he whispered to the floor, ignoring his master’s outrage and speaking to his creator, to his mother who slept an endless slumber. “But surely you do not condone their acts?” From that question, he received no answer. Had he truly been spoke to by Gaia, The Sleeping Mother, or had that been a delusion? His master answered with a kick to his side. Smith’ren groaned in pain and twisted in agony, folding inwards like a truck jack-knifing. He gripped his bruised side and found his vision slowly fading to black…

He sipped gingerly from the jug and swallowed with a struggle; elf brew was not known to be sweet, but it was still tremendous. It was not, however, the reason he found it hard to swallow. “Christ,” he said in awe, and when he realized what he said, he apologized to Michelangelo and the rest of the elves who had gathered to listen to the older elf’s tale. Mickey, he was called, shrugged with a frown.

“Not your fault kid; damned slavers been pounding us with that blasphemy for years…only a matter of time.”  Mickey took a deep swig from his jug and asked the fair bartender to fill it up once more. The heavily haired lady frowned at him and shook her head, sending her long coils of hair flying, whipping across her backside.

“You had too many already, Mich’ey,” she reprimanded, referring to the elder elf by his elven name, a name the man himself had no doubt forgotten, or would have, had Yal’ter, the bartender and barkeep, not constantly reminded him. He was slave to Smith’ren’s master’s mother, who did nothing but lay on her bed and recount her earlier days.

Mich’ey snorted and pulled a flask seemingly from nowhere. “Mother always said keep a spare,” he said in a sing-song voice as he popped open the lid and threw the contents down his throat.

“Continue the story, dear Mickey!” Beh’moit implored.

“Story? This ain’t some moonlight gathering, you daft screw!” The elder elf cussed like a drunken sailor, an expression Smith’ren never understood, but always heard his master say when someone acted as old Mickey just did. The swearing was pure human, not a hint elven. “Fuckers flayed him like he was a bloody damned pig for hide!” And so was that. “Least that’s what I think they do to pigs anyway,” the elder added, looking puzzled.

Beh’moit’s lips were split in a wild grin. “And then what happened?” He asked. They all knew that their dear friend was not right in the head; he had taken too much beatings from his previous masters, seen so many terrible things happen to those he cared about and lost most of them. So his brain’s way of dealing with the trauma the Earth Mother’s children had caused him, was to constantly secrete enzymes that always kept him in an elated state. Always. Of course, it was stressful work, but it was either that or complete shutdown of all biological activities, a.k.a., death.

Zah’na patted his brother on his back three times before taking a huge gulp out of his jug. Beh’moit giggled and began gnawing on his battered fingers. “Earth Mother have mercy upon us,” the saner brother whispered.

Earth Mother. Smiith’ren wondered why she had reminded him, personally, that they were her children too. Was she siding with them? Were they her favorites? But the Earth Mother didn’t take sides, well, she wasn’t supposed to; according to their Sh’ra, the Earth Mother loved them all equally, it was, in fact, the love that had doomed her to eternal slumber. So maybe she was simply reminding him, why she could not intervene. He felt a sudden rush of rage; his teeth suddenly clenched painfully together, the jug in his hand began to shake – subtly – in anger, his throat felt red hot with rage, slowly closing up as he thought of the injustice, the unfairness of it all. So she could not help her children halt their suffering, because she wanted to prove she loved them all equally? So she was going to let the elves, an elder race, suffer at the hands of the newcomers, because she made a daft vow to love all her children equally, and so not pick sides?

What kind of retarded thinking is that? If –

“You okay there, Smith?” Mickey asked, a frown on his face. Smith blinked and glanced around; all the elves were looking at him with concerned faces. All except Beh’moit, who was nowhere to be found.

Smith’ren cleared his throat and shook his head. “No, no I’m not okay,” he said, voice coarse as he spoke through his clenched teeth. “I just thought, of how, silly not picking sides is! I mean, the Earth Mother is letting this happen to us, all because she wants to prove a point to a god who laughs at her – her – ”

Stupidity, he completed in his mind but held his tongue.

Mickey nodded solemnly and pulled out yet another flask, the previous one sat on the counter behind him, no doubt empty. Yel’tar gaped at the elder elf while she shook her head. “I won’t drag your limp body to your smelly quarters again, you old fart.”

“Ah, I know that’s a lie, Yel’tar dear,” he gasped after he swallowed a swig, “never have you stepped foot in my haven. If you had,” he turned to face her, grinning and revealing his distorted teeth, so plagued with yellow plaque it seemed a dark shade of gold. Holes could be found in his sad teeth, ringed with black crawling organisms that thrived within and secreted enzymes that ate through his teeth. The elder man ought to be proud; his teeth was home for all sorts of critters. “You would have said it smelt, like the freshly bathed buttocks of a baby.”

She made a gagging noise and pinched her nose. “Oh, it does alright; if the baby bathed in horse dung, and Earth Mother’s birthing; do you not have an ounce of dentine hygiene?!”

Mickey snorted and tapped his front teeth with the long nail on his pinky finger. “Strong as they been when I was a little elf.”

“Fellows! We stray from the subject at hand!” Zah’na pointed out just when Smith’ren was thinking of a subtle way to lead them back.

Mickey took a gulp from his flask and burped. “What else is there to say, Zah’na?” he shifted his gaze to Smith’ren and shrugged. “I feel you, Smith’ren, I understand what it is you feel; anger, abandonment, loss, loneliness, these are feelings that plague every single elf. These feelings never leave us, no matter how hard we try to shake them,” he frowned sadly and shook his flask, “or try to drown them with hard liquor. Our only hope, is to learn to live with it or find a way to reduce the feeling. My method is quite obvious, but many would argue it is a very stupid one.”

“It is,” Yel’tar said, nodding sagely.

“Oh really? Well tell the lad how you handle yours,” Mickey snapped.

Yel’tar’s expression suddenly became sad and tired. “I slip out of my quarters in the night, head towards the nearest grove and sing to the trees that stretch towards the sky. I sing of sorrow and despair, of lost love and of agony, of anger and hatred, whatever I feel. The logic is, to give some of the burden to the trees, who would in turn, give it to the Earth Mother to hold. Perhaps when it becomes too much to bear, she either wakes up to end it by whisking me away, or killing me.”

Smith’ren blinked. He felt like his heart was about explode in grief. The fellow elves that were gathered took it in, sympathy plain in their faces. Even Mickey was weeping silently.

“Mother, hear us,” Zah’na whispered.

Yel’tar smiled sadly. “So far, she has been deaf to us all.”

Until recently, Smith’ren spoke in his mind.

“Unheard of!!! Where is the giggle of our retarded fool?! The harsh words of our fair ladies and the sulkiness of our grandfather?! Perhaps, too, the Earth Mother rises from her slumber? Stirs ever so slightly in this queer hour?! Yes? No? Maybe so!”

Smith’ren moaned as the new elf sat beside him, munching on raw meat. “Ho, Krugga,” he greeted the newcomer grudgingly.

“Damn you, Smith! Do you not learn?! I am to be called Bird, for I am free as one!” Bird replied through a full mouth.

Yel’tar’s hard expression was back in full force as she stared at the elf. “Your freedom is simply walking willingly into a more severe set of bondages.”

“Well someone is jealous!!!” he yelled, wagging his knobby index finger at the barkeep. “Not to fear my darling, I shall secure your freedom if it is the last thing I do. This I swear, by the Earth Mother herself!”

Mickey snorted. “Of course you do, and she does not hear you, so you get to keep your pitiful life when you fail to fulfil that careless vow.”

Bird chuckled like a man who had been nabbed, his tricks unveiled but couldn’t care less. He finished the piece of meat in his hand and began to lick his fingers. “Be a darling, darling, and hand me the toughest of your brews; I deserve to drink hard as I have worked hard.”

Smith’ren snorted. “Who are you fooling, Bird? Your mistress’s the one who does the bloody work for you, isn’t she? While you lie on your crooked back and eat berries all day, drink beer and the finest wine all night, pushing your belly to its max.” Smith’ren heard, in his own voice, a tinge of envy and he hated himself for it. A free elf was not a happy elf. The only damned reason Bird was happy was because he had all his shit done for him; he didn’t have to worry about his mistress’ moods – well not as often as working elves did anyway – he didn’t have to work for his food, shelter and – as unnecessary as it was – clothing, everything was handed to him – and Smith’ren could finally use this expression – on a platter of gold. The rest of the freed elves, well, that was an entirely different story; they did not have things handed to them and they could not work for their basic needs – a certain Poe Djon had made it illegal for freed elves to be put back to work, voluntarily or involuntarily – so their only option, was to return to the old ways, hunting for food in the rapidly deteriorating woods. Another problem for the free elves, were hunters. Hunters who hunted elves for slavery and – if they had the freed mark – their skin, as Mickey had been discussing earlier. So really, the life of a freed elf was far worse than an enslaved one, and every elf knew this.

Bird grinned like a fool and tapped the counter three times with his knuckles, indicating that Yel’tar bring forth his order. She rolled her eyes and sighed, performing the task assigned. “Well, that takes hard work too! And besides, I think I deserve it after the service I rendered – “

“What, shoe-shinning and mouth rinsing?” Zah’na asked sardonically. The gathered elves laughed at the joke while Bird fumed.

“Very funny, yes.” Bird said, a savage grin replacing his scowl. “And how is your brother? Still feasting on his own dung?”

The punch that sent the elf into Smith’ren, and both unto the cold, hard floor, was so sudden that neither elf realized what had happened until a few minutes later. Smith’ren was perplexed as to the crushing weight that was poised on his small chest. He grunted and tried to shift but found himself pinned, unable to move.

“Motherfucker! You broke my nose!!” the voice belonged to Bird, who, he finally realized, was the cause of the constriction.

Get off me!” Smith’ren yelled, struggling.

“Broke my nose! He fucking broke my nose! Blood! Fuck blood!”

Sudden rage fueled Smith’ren, giving him the strength he needed to shove the elf aside and struggle to his feet. Zah’na stood before him, left hand held in a fist, raised above his midsection, a snarl on his face. Smith’ren glanced down and saw the pitiful figure of Bird, moaning and writhing on the floor as he gripped his injured nose. “Fucker broke my nose!”

The elves simply stared at him, frowns on their lips. Yel’tar finally spoke. “I take it then, that you wouldn’t be drinking this?” she asked, gesturing to the jug in her left hand. Mickey gently took it from her and she did not protest.



On Misophonia.


For silence is a sound,

If not,

Then how can we hear it?

Silence, that was all she wanted. The sweet sound of no sound. But the voices in her head wouldn’t let her, wouldn’t give her peace, wouldn’t leave her be. They whispered, but their whispers were uncannily loud; like the buzzing of a thousand bees, and those were just the whispers. Imagine how it would sound, should they increase their voices to the volume of regular conversations. Alice could imagine it all too well, and she dreaded that day like sinners the end time.

She held her head with her hands, fingers gripping her golden locks fiercely, body rocking forwards and backwards on the balls of her feet. She couldn’t stand their noise anymore, their unintelligible garbles. She stopped rocking back and forth, pulled her hands from her head, and screamed for the voices to leave her alone.

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Phoenix Squad.

Try not to die.

That was their mantra, their motto. It was a clause that was repeated again and again whenever they were about to make landfall. It was repeated now, by their Reformer as the dropship slowly descended into the air choked by rounds fired by fighters, missiles sent from the air to the ground, vice versa, and air to air. The ship rocked as it made its way to their designated destination, effect of their pilot attempting and failing to avoid rounds. Turbo checked his armor once more, out of habit, a way to deal with his growing fear. You’d think after facing death for months and biting its nipples, you wouldn’t be afraid of it anymore.

That was not the case for Turbo Swift.
“Hitting ground in five people!” their pilot yelled over the speakers.

“Remember,” Reformer Crank’s voice cut through their com, harsh, tough and coarse like he had been screaming his throat out for hours, “we’re going to land in a Quiet Zone, a few meters north-west our current direction in the Action Zone squad B-78 is stuck in. We assist them however way we can and then we go our separate ways and we make our way back here for extraction!”

The dropship began to slowly decelerate, the shuddering resonating through Turbo’s bones. Turbo glanced at his right, where Peter, his first, sat. The elder triplet nodded at him, and Turbo nodded back. “Try not to die,” he said through their private com.


The ship stopped moving, landing pads gently kissing the ground before bearing the full weight of the ship, which was not as much as it used to be due to the <g gravity the planet had. The engine whines reduced, though they were ever present, just able to hear. The hatch before them popped out and slid aside and Crank was on them, yelling that they moved out in twos. When it was his turn, he made the sign of the cross as he left and said his prayers to Saint Bathledo.

Newest saint, made in 2048, Saint Bathledo was the saint of survival, having survived many snares the devil had laid for him. Turbo prayed the man was watching him now, guiding his feet. . .

The only things that seemed to be looking down on him, were the three moons that lit the world in a bright blue glow, shadows cast thick as mud, dark as night. Yet lights were set up around landfall. A man was talking to Crank, who was shaking his head and pointing at their dropship. The taller man snarled something and set off in a brisk walk towards it, bumping into Turbo. The man's armor was not as thick as Turbo's; white thin armor, probably indicating that he belonged to the lower class infantry. The pawns of chess, except imagine if there were three rows of pawns; they would be the one who felt and took in the brunt of the battle. Turbo snorted as the man hopped into the ship.

Poor guy’s gonna die soon, he thought.

“Alright squad! Head low, eyes cast about, be vigilant not jumpy, and you may very well keep your bloody head,” Crank yelled. “Let’s go!”

They set off in a trot. They passed through dried up basins and emptied lakes, ditches and huge boulders flanking them, hills beyond getting closer while the fire line ahead remain at a constant distance between them. Seemingly, anyway.

Seven minutes later, and Link began to moan and complain, breaking the silence they had kept.

“Damn it, the fear is killing me and the silence ain’t helping. Someone better sing or I’ll blow my brains out,” he complained.

“I got a song,” Bolts said, “called Link The Fucking Tool.”

“Very funny,” Link said, sarcasm evident. Turbo grinned.

“Sing for us, Bolts,” he said, putting more effort into his pumping, making him break from his partner by a few feet, forcing Gum to run faster, which made the train behind them pick up the pace as well.

“Once a tool,

Made by a fool,

For a fool,

To a fool,

Wasn’t cool,

Didn’t school,

Fuck what else,

Goes with tool?

It thought it could fly,

Oh how stupid,

It wondered why,

Oh how insipid,

Poor tool, poor tool,

No purpose, fool,

So it decided to,

Join the army too,

Be a man who,

Fought true!”

Turbo laughed hard while Link flung obscenities at Bolts. He glanced at him map on his HUD, they were close. He could see, just ahead, blooms of explosions, sparks of gunfire.

“And so into,

His death he rode,

Without a clue,

Oh, poor fool!

He thought he fought,

For me and you,

But instead,

Fought for her,

The one who ruled,

With an iron tit,

And a dusty cunt!”

“Ey!” Crank yelled, cutting Bolts short. “Stop that at once!”

“Oh! I forgot, it ain’t dusty no more, is it? No, no Crank’s made sure of that!”

Turbo stumbled, his laughter rocking him and disrupting his flow.

“That’s enough soldier!”

“Fuck you, you old dick-sac,” Bolts said, “I’m gonna sing my song!”

“I swear—”

“So the song goes,

But on to Crank,

When he was born,

Oh how he stank!

Nurses shrank,

Noses shrunk,

For he was a great big turd!”

Crank only insulted him. What else could he do? Discipline him? At the moment? No, later yes, but not then.

“Shredders!” Sip yelled and Turbo’s heart froze. He searched for them on his Threat Map and saw nothing, the only indication of their presence was Sip’s yell and the sharp reports of gunfire.

“Gum, Toy, Snaz, Chin; rip ’em up!!!” Crank yelled. Turbo searched for them wildly, and saw a rolling dark mass make its way towards him. He brought his gun around and aimed at it. When the shredder sprung open.

The Monarchdom of Avex had an advantage there; brilliant mind Davey Chosewell – terrible last name he inherited – had been the designer and programmer of the shredders or rippers. The man had been able to make robots that could barely do menial tasks, into killing machines with complex algorithms. The robots’ appearance had been designed to look like a demon from hell; it had red ‘eyes’ that throbbed every few seconds, teeth that jutted out of mechanical jaws at awkward angles, slim insect-like body that could curl up into a ball, which could roll into a ball and race towards its prey. Blades could be sprung from many parts of its body at many angles at blinding speeds. The robot could transition from ball to full on bipedal form in a flash, and cut through prey before pain could be registered in their brain.

He let his gun do the screaming. Bullets tore into the robot’s head even as three heavy rounds punched through his armor and got stuck in his large intestine, left lung and sternum. The robot turned into a rolling disk and raced off. Despite its absence of head, it still operated normally.

Turbo on the other hand. . .

He could feel his left lung slowly fill up with blood. It was getting difficult to breathe, the pain he felt made colors dance across his vision. The force of the bullets had forced him to stumble backwards and drop to one knee. His gun dipping to the floor. All around him, his men screamed in pain as they were cut down by the rippers.

Gum barely registered the collapse of his partner, as his attention was focused on the one who had caused it. There it stood, putting holes in Bolts, who yelled out in pain, the sound echoing sickly in Gum’s ears. Gum pulled the trigger. The ripper erupted in a storm of detritus, flinging charred metal into the air. His head turned to locate another menace. . .

And watched as a ripper put bullets through him.

Snaz screamed as Gum fell to the floor, dead. She aimed at his killer and pulled the trigger, but the ripper was already gone, the fired explosive plasma striking a boulder and reducing it to grains of sand. She tracked it with her gun, vengeance blinding her to the ripper that rolled towards her from her right side. She didn’t even know when she died.

The killing machines tore through the relief squad as easily as knife cuts butter, Toy and Chin tried their best to put down their oppressors. When they finally did, their squad of twelve was reduced to four, barring the injured, which numbered five, and they were in no shape to go on, or head back on their own. Among the survivors were Chin, Toy, Peter, Link, Crank, Turbo, Harry, Jest and Riddles, out of which only Chin, Riddles, Jest, Harry and Link were able to stand and walk about, searching for more to oppose them.

“So what do we do, Riddles?” Chin asked their second in command. The man thought deeply on it for what felt like hours before his annoyingly calm voice broke the thick blanket of silence.

“We head back to landfall,” he said.
“What?” Jest snapped. “Are you mad? So we just abandon the mission?”

Riddles turned to face him, helmet suddenly retracted, cold dark eyes staring through a sea of brown skin regarded Jest. “The question is, are you mad? You want us to continue with the mission, even after we’ve suffered this much?” the man asked, gesturing at everything.

“We have to, lest our men die for nothing, and the ones pinned down too!”

“Use your brain, you pillock! What if we encounter another squad of rippers, what then? We die for nothing too. And our injured? You ask we leave our injured to die? No, Jest, I shall not be as thick as you are. We head back, treat our wounded, replenish our lost strength and radio for another relief squad.”

“And if we don’t get?” Jest sneered.

Riddles did not answer.

The planet’s gravity made it easier to carry their wounded; they were fastened to their backs with ropes that hooked the holes allotted which were magnetised. Riddles had decided to carry two of their injured; Crank and Turbo were hooked at awkward angles, but it was either that or he left one of them to die. Chin was on point, his db-45 gun cocked, scanning the wasted land for any sign of rippers. The only gun in their arsenal that could stop the monsters in their tracks, the db-45 was a thing of beauty. The nuzzle of the gun was unlike others; wide and deep, it shot not bullets, but large balls of superheated plasma, the first of its kind – guns that shot plasma were not produced by the opponents, a joke went thus; “We got robots made from the pits of hell,” went the opponents, the members of the Monarchdom.  “Yeah, well we got hell itself!” went the citizens of the Empire – the gun was their trump card, one that never grew old. Four guns handled by four of the active survivors, hopping across the desert towards a Safe Zone.

Mid-hop, Riddle heard the call. “This is Jakob to squad c7-89, Jacob of squad B-78, where the fuck are you?”

Riddles hissed as his feet touched down. He hopped again and he was, once more, in the air. “We got hit hard by rippers, Reformer Jakob; heading back towards a Quiet Zone now to—”

“Are you fucked? You’re going to leave us to die?” the reports of guns very audible in the background.

“Can’t do a fucking thing, Reformer; as I said we’ve been hit and hit hard; more than half our squad is inactive, just us four hopping to safety now. We have injured and—”

“Fuck, so do we!”

Touchdown, liftoff.

“I doubt four persons would do little to turn the tides at your end, so—”

“You got db-45s yeah? We don’t, so if rippers come we’re fucked. Surprised they aren’t even here yet.”

“What is the ratio of how they outnumber you?”

Do I sound like a cold Data-Stat Officer to you? I mean, you do, but I don’t—”

Touchdown, stumble, grunt, pitch, balance, liftoff. “Take a fucking guess,” Riddles hissed, his patience thinning
“Twenty to one,” the man at the other end snapped.



“Look; we have hit the Quiet Zone, we’re about to pass through the gate. Once through, we’ll send the message to—”

“And if they can’t spare more? And if we can’t wait?”

“Damn it, there aren’t other options! We can’t do anything else!”

You can bloody well act like a fucking soldier, and fucking help—”

There was a strangely loud gunfire, a wet splat and then silence. Riddles’ heart sank as he feared the worst.

Touchdown, halt, walk. He cut the connection as he arrived at the gate. The sentries that guarded the gate straightened at his approach. Riddles activated his loudspeakers. “We have injured men and women on our backs, open the damned door!” he yelled at them. They saluted briskly and tapped the buttons on their forearms, prompting the sliding apart of the large metal doors. They peeled apart smoothly, kicking pale dust into the air. Riddles walked briskly through the portal, pace steadily increasing.
Before them was a small encampment, with an impromptu landing pad at its center. The designer of the camp had been smart enough to place the Medi-bay a few meters away from the portal. Riddles and his men stepped through the door leading into the dome and were greeted by a man in all white armor, tapping something into his long forearm. He glanced up at them and grunted through the speakers of his helmet. “Just place ’em in beds, we’ll attend to them. Riddles walked towards one bed and unhooked his load. Released, they drifted towards the floor. His arms grabbed them and gently laid them upon opposite beds. He glanced around; his squad members did the same. Men and women in armor began to attend to them.
The one who had spoken to Riddles simply stood, tapping away on his arm.

“So what now?” Jest asked as the nurses used an assortment of tools as they worked on their injured friends.

Riddles shrugged. He glanced around and set out of the Medi-bay, Jest in tow, the others simply standing and watching as the nurses operated. No doubt, they would be sent away soon.

Ahead, the wind was alive on the landing pad, dancing wildly as a dropship approached. He wondered if it was stocked with supplies or men, he prayed to whatever gods existed that it was the latter.

“In contact with B-78?” Jest asked with a snarl evident in his voice.

His heart felt like it was being ripped apart. “Yes.” He answered, voice tight. He halted and watched as the ship drew closer and closer to the pad.


Riddles tried to hail them as the silence spoke to Jest.

“Fuck,” he hissed. “We should have fucking—”

“Fucking what? Huh?” He asked, whirling around, helmet retracted, eyes hard and glaring. “Run towards danger, guns blazing, only to be gunned down or torn to shreds by rippers!”

“How do you know that?!”

Riddles shook his head, amazed at Jest’s stubbornness. No, he thought, this isn’t stubbornness, this is stupidity. He turned around, headed for the landing pad that was now occupied by a dropship, who’s hanger door popped open, a squad of, one, two…thirteen, eighteen, twenty able-bodied soldiers hopped down, guns cradled in their arms. Their Reformer was a head taller than Riddles at least. He backed his squad as they formed a line behind the closing hanger door.

“There’s reinforcement,” Jest observed. Riddles frowned. The lad was not listening; what was the point of reinforcement, if there was no one to reinforce?

There was a soft click as someone connected to his channel. “This is Jared of squad B-78; bloody fucking miracle is what happened. There we were, pinned down, our Reformer dead and the three after him as well, numbers diminished to a barely capable force, when out of the fucking blue, a fighter comes, tearing through thick clouds, backside on fire, unleashing bullets in hails unto the enemy before crashing in their midst. The rocks we hid behind survived the full brunt of the explosion…to a point. We’re less than a quarter of our original team, four in all including myself, but we fucking breathe!”
The shock that rocked Riddles prevented him from speaking.

“Hello? There anyone there? Fuck me and my loquaciousness, been talking to a dead end ping is what I’ve been doing. Damned is what I am; still—”

“Jared this is Riddles of codename Phoenix Squad, your relief team. You been speaking to a newly made Reformer who was so shocked he couldn’t find his tongue.”

“Relief team? Shit. Where the fuck are you?!”

“Got cut off on our way to you. Lost a lot of good soldiers, couldn’t move on. Able-bodied soldiers numbered the same as you do now…I take it you are a Reformer, Jared?”

“Shit,” he said, ignoring Riddles question as the newly arrived squad marched towards the gate. Riddles intercepted their Reformer as Jared continued. “Sorry to hear that, us. Fuckers planned it, do you think?”

“Hold on please,” he said.

“No problem, I’ll talk to static is what I’d do, don’t—”

Riddles put him on hold. He raised his brow at the Reformer who had her helmet peeled back, eyes betraying the confusion she felt. “Something the matter, Reformer?”
she asked, taking him in.

“Where you heading, Reformer?”

“Action Zone; we’re a relief team for squad codename Balderdash.”

Riddles frowned. They numbered more, about eight more than his squad did at the beginning. Jove, we could have used eight more. . . “Where’s that?”
She tapped a few buttons on her forearm and a holographic display was projected a few inches above it. It depicted a large crater with red and blue dots indicating the allies and foes. By the side were the crater’s coordinates.
What a string of luck, Jove, he thought, just a stone’s throw from Jared and his three.

“I need you to split your squad.” He said.

She blinked. “Why is that?”

“Meters away is a battered squad of four who need to be extracted. I need you to perform the extraction.”

She thought for a moment. “Four? Sorry, but I can not do that. I can not spare any of my squad members; Balderdash is choked with heavy infantry troops, along with a score of rippers. They’ve been riding things out in a cave but they can’t—”

“It’s a win for you, Reformer. Think on it; four able-bodied soldiers—” he had no idea if Jared and his three were badly injured, but the loquacious man had said nothing on that, “—along with mine, that’s eight in total. Eight would do wonders in a war like this.”
She hesitated, but her hesitation was a good sign, it meant—

“No, I still can’t do that, I’m sorry, but if I split my numbers and try to liberate Balderdash, I will fail without a doubt, and—”

“Fine; three is all I need, three plus my four, seven, plus the other four, eleven. Eleven of us would meet up at Balderdash’s location and turn the tides should there be need. Surely you can release three?”

She glanced back at her soldiers, who were no doubt curious as to why they weren’t killing anything yet. She sighed and nodded.

“Fine, three of my picking.” She turned towards her squad and addressed them, explaining the plan.
“Nigel, Sparks and Lit! You three, follow the man to the pits of hell if need be; you’re under his command for now.”

The soldiers groaned audibly. Riddles knew they could have done that through their private channel, but they just wanted to show their discomfort to him.

“None of that! Rest of you, follow!”
The rest trotted away, leaving the them to it. Sparks – he could tell it was, her or him, by the painting of sparks on his or her armor – stepped towards him and retracted her helmet, showing a calm baby face, scalp lacking hair, like the rest of them, eyes brown and bored, lips twitchy like she couldn’t decide which position they ought to be in. “Kesk,” she said with a solemn salute. She glanced behind him, eyes squinted and lips settling for a frown before  grinning savagely. “Jester! That you there?!”

Riddles glanced back and saw the man in question, who had been behind him all along, flush as she recognized him. “You know her?” he asked.

Jest made a quick nod
“Know me? Fucker’s my brother!”

“Ah. Let me allow you catch up on lost times as I inform the rest of the plan. Remain.” He turned around and walked away, the sound of their conversation reaching his ears.

“Its Jest now, sis.”

“Shortened it, have you? Soon it would be Joke now wouldn’t it? Or Jay, ey? Bloody pillock, come here!”

“We can’t hug!” Jest yelled, voice shrill.

“Sure we can! Better hug lest I tell the world about Mr. Pan-Pan! There, that so hard? No-no! Don’t pull away so quickly! Oh how I’ve missed you. Your panda-bear doll says hello, from Lisa; mom’s lent it to her to help her sleep.”

“She what?!”

“She made me swear not to tell you, but I figured you’d best know in case we all die today.”

“Very reassuring.”

“Optimist, me.”

fantasy Featured fiction Middle Earth short story



Walking towards the red door was a task that seemed impossible. His legs felt like lead and the floor like one giant magnet, resisting Ted’s lift, greedily wanting his feet all to itself. His eyelids dropped with each passing second, their permanent states half lowered, his shoulders haunched, his jaw slack, every muscle in his body screaming that he simply let go, relax. He glanced down at his hand, held over his belly, applying pressure to the wound, trying hard to keep his intestines in place.

He staggered on, the cackling of his tormentor filling his ears. The thought that gave him hope floated past his mind;

Just behind the door, is safety. Just behind the door, is safety.

He had no idea why he believed it to be true, but he did. Perhaps it was desperation; he wanted an escape so badly, he’d take anything. . .

A dark form suddenly appeared before him, obstructing the path between him and the door. It was him; his tormentor, his torturer. He stopped abruptly and found himself pitching forward, face coming closer and closer to the floor until it struck it hard.


He knew that it ought to sting like a motherfucker, pain dancing across his reddening face, but he felt nothing but tingles.

Well, he thought as he began to slip into the abyss, at least I won’t feel it as the beast devours me. . .

Get up! A voice screamed, the same voice that had promised salvation on the other side of the door. Get up! Get up! Get up get up get up get up!

The annoying mantra continued, like a fly, consistently buzzing at his ears, but even that began to fade away. . .

The beast stared down at the slap of meat that had delivered itself to him. His fixed grin widened, drool dripping upon the concrete floor. Enough savoring. It bent over, grabbing the man by his hand, and dragged him. . .

To the red door.

Image Credit:




Walking towards the red door was a task that seemed impossible. His legs felt like lead and the floor like one giant magnet, resisting Ted’s lift, greedily wanting his feet all to itself. His eyelids dropped with each passing second, their permanent states half lowered, his shoulders haunched, his jaw slack, every muscle in his body screaming that he simply let go, relax. He glanced down at his hand, held over his belly, applying pressure to the wound, trying hard to keep his intestines in place.

He staggered on, the cackling of his tormentor filling his ears. The thought that gave him hope floated past his mind;

Just behind the door, is safety. Just behind the door, is safety.

He had no idea why he believed it to be true, but he did. Perhaps it was desperation; he wanted an escape so badly, he’d take anything. . .

A dark form suddenly appeared before him, obstructing the path between him and the door. It was him; his tormentor, his torturer. He stopped abruptly and found himself pitching forward, face coming closer and closer to the floor until it struck it hard.


He knew that it ought to sting like a motherfucker, pain dancing across his reddening face, but he felt nothing but tingles.

Well, he thought as he began to slip into the abyss, at least I won’t feel it as the beast devours me. . .

Get up! A voice screamed, the same voice that had promised salvation on the other side of the door. Get up! Get up! Get up get up get up get up!

The annoying mantra continued, like a fly, consistently buzzing at his ears, but even that began to fade away. . .

The beast stared down at the slap of meat that had delivered itself to him. His fixed grin widened, drool dripping upon the concrete floor. Enough savoring. It bent over, grabbing the man by his hand, and dragged him. . .

To the red door.

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fantasy Featured fiction

Our Hero.

The festival was supposed to be a way of chasing them away; binding the ancient wraiths and the send the lost souls back to their graves and help them crossover. It started, as usual, with the clan-wide fasting of meat; every member of the Al’goba clan was to abstain from devouring meat of any kind until the final day of the festival, a fasting that lasted until their one and only god, N’gku, gave a sign to his priests and priestesses. Next, was the preparation of the virgins captured from other clans and tribes, by giving them the royal treatment, feeding them succulent food till their stomachs burst, keeping them in the dark, metaphorically of course, for ignorance counted as virginity.

Around this same period, boys who would be turning to men would be given the task of Manhood. As Ohyo was given. He sat on the fallen tree, his eyes searching for intruders. It was three days till the festival yet their trials were far from being completed. He knew the elders and the priests and priestesses would be shaking their heads and tutting at them, for theirs was the latest set in the clan’s history.

Usually, the trials of boys ended long before the festival; a week, five days at least, but three? No, it was too close for comfort.

And what would happen should our trials not end a day to the festival’s last day? Ohyo shivered, a chill crawling up his tiny spine. He did not want to know. What exactly was the cause of their extraordinary lateness, he was not sure; it was not his place to ask. Sure, Zyn would be able to hazard a few guesses, should he be asked, but Ohyo did not care to ask.

Rustling of leaves, snapping of twigs, the peeling back of branches. Whispers, soft as a mother’s hand, caressing the body of a new born. Ohyo pulled out his blade, gently, so as to not announce his awareness of the intruders. His eyes searched for the source of the sound. . .

An arrow flew at him, ripping a hole into his ear, close to his cheekbone. Ohyo yelled out in pain, startling his mates. They roused from their sleep instantly, their faces alert, eyes wide, hands searching for weapons. Ohyo gripped his injured ear, felt blood between his fingers. His eyes searched for the bow that shot the arrow. Another arrow whizzed past, this one further away from his head. His eyes traced it back to where he believed was the source. He screamed with fury and rushed towards the bush. No arrows shot out of it, but a lad, younger than Ohyo with blades made of kyobo horns, face painted in what could have been blood or red paint, eyes wide and feral, lips peeled back in a snarl, hands slashing out at Ohyo. . .

Ohyo put his anger, his pain and frustration into one stroke of his mighty bnoga stone blade, and the younger lad was sent sprawling to the left, blood streaming down from his caved-in face. Ohyo screamed with rage and searched for more to oppose him. He suddenly felt a weight on his shoulders, and the weight sent him crumpling to the floor, blade forgotten.

Blades of metal tore into his puny flesh, slashing, stabbing, cutting, the user’s intention to make him bleed out, to die a slow death. Stupidity.

Ohyo snarled and rose, flinging the weight off his bleeding back with one powerful heave backwards. His heart raced, his blood escaped and with it, his strength. Ohyo searched for his blade, found it and used it to wack the woman who had perforated his back once, twice, thrice on her small head until it was nothing but mush.

The lad with the ivory blades was back, and this time, he was with a friend, a friend who riddled Ohyo with arrows. They came as punches to his chest, stomach and sternum, burying deep into flesh, barb and all. Ohyo stepped backwards as the crossbowman reloaded. The ivory wielding man ran at Ohyo, blades at the ready. Ohyo steadied his blade, ready to parry, but a well aimed spear stopped the lad short as it struck his forehead and punched through flesh, bone and brain, both on its way in, and on its way out. Ohyo glanced back and saw Marla running towards him, second spear cocked backwards, ready to be released. A bow struck her in the eye and Ohyo watched her stumble and fall gracelessly to the floor, face first, arrow pushed deeper into her skull by the fall. Ohyo screamed with anger and grief as he wheeled towards his lover’s killer. The lad was out of arrows. He was discarding the bow and stealing the ivory armed lad’s weapons. Ohyo wacked him hard with the edge of his blade, sending him to the floor. Ohyo had to yank out his blade for it had buried itself in the lad’s skull.

Ohyo glanced around, looking for more to send to their graves. He saw, instead, his surviving friends, picking through the dead, picking theirs and dragging them close to the put out fire, arranging them in a circle enclosing it. Ohyo sheathed his blades and walked towards Marla, eyes already welling up with tears. He crouched low, rolled her so she laid on her back and yanked out the arrow that had done her in. Then remembered that he too, had arrows punched into his torso. He frowned at them. The strange thing was, he felt no pain. Not until he attempted to yank one out. The attempt made him black out.

When he next woke, Zyn was tending to his wounds, sprinkling ground herbs unto his numb torso, rubbing thick balms upon his wounds, muttering strange words to him. But Ohyo went under again, beneath the abyssal waters of unconsciousness, and our hero did not return.

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Featured fiction short story

A Two Party Con


Captain Nero Gold snorted at the joke and took a sip out of his cup of tea, which was, surprisingly, already warm. Damn, he thought, that long? He smiled his tired smile and indicated to Rose, by pointing with his stumped index finger, that he needed a tea change. She rolled her eyes at him and said, “Can you at least stay for the end? I mean, if you’re going to pour that tea down the drain,” she gestured at it by tilting her head forward, “it wouldn’t matter if it were cold now would it?”

“Ah, well, you see, the tea is just an excuse,” he explained, his smile fixed, “I really am bored of your company, and I would rather pry my eyes out of their sockets with a plastic spoon than listen to another word.” He winked at her.

She rolled her eyes and made a shoo gesture.
“Love you!” he called.

She brought out her tongue and pinched her nose. Nero laughed while shaking his head as he turned around and headed for the cafeteria. He truly did love Rose; he loved that she got all his jokes, that she understood him better than anyone.

Even better than Shaw?

He frowned. It had been four days since the Head of Security had spoken to him intimately, and even though Nero knew that their jobs were getting in the way of a proper relationship – it had been reduced to nothing but sex and little pillow talk – he couldn’t help but feel that they were no longer giving their relationship all, like they had given up on all the things a healthy relationship ought to be; sharing of thoughts and emotions, time.

He arrived at the cafeteria, cup empty, and walked towards the nearest tea dispenser, which already had a patron. . .
Speak of the devil, and he shall appear.
Shaw held a tea mug over the small faucet, eyes distant as the milky liquid cascaded from it, slowly filling up his cup.
“Hey,” Nero called, a sad smile on his face. Shaw blinked and glanced at him. He didn’t even bother to smile. He’s cutting me off already, Nero thought, his heart clenching in his chest, pain ripping through it. His throat felt tighter all of the sudden. It was hard to swallow.

“Hey,” Shaw responded, moving his tongue around in his mouth.

“Funny thing, I was actually thinking of you,” Nero confessed, unaware of the sudden nervousness creeping into him. Is he going to drop the bomb here? Now? I’m not ready. Fuck I’m not ready. Even though their relationship was a mere phantom of what it was, it was no excuse to just give up on it, it was no excuse to stop seeing each other. They could make it work, he knew it in his bones. Maybe they can make compromises, cut work some slack, or maybe even take a vacation, anything to keep their love living again.

“Really?” The faucet had stopped puking out tea and Shaw was slowly sipping its piping hot mixture, steam rising from mug, doing a little dance before Shaw’s baby blue eyes before disappearing from view.


Shaw pulled down the mug and smiled. The smile put Nero at ease for a beat, and that was when he realized it was strained. “What was I doing in your mind?”

Nero shrugged. He was hyperventilating now; shallow breaths but Shaw didn’t notice because they were not audible. Not yet. “I don’t, I don’t get that question luv,” he said.

Shaw shrugged. He glanced around and his voice dropped to a whisper. “I mean like, what was it about, your thoughts? Was it sexy thoughts? So sexy it was brash or. . .” His hand rose, his index finger stroked Nero’s left cheek gently. His eyes were suddenly lit, his lower lip vanished, teeth in its place originating from his upper jaw. Nero felt a bulge in his crotch and he cleared his throat. His nervousness was suddenly replaced with ecstasy, and for a second, he wanted to rip off Shaw’s clothes and have sex, right there, next to the tea dispenser, for the few occupants in the cafeteria to watch.

He felt something touch the bulge lightly, and glanced down to see the belly of Shaw’s thumb, pressed gently against the tip of his…

He licked his lips. “You know,” he began, eyes resting on his lover’s, drowning in the sea of blue, “this isn’t healthy.”

Shaw frowned, puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“Like, we need more in our relationship than just sex,” he explained.

“But, it is more than sex; we talk, we share our deepest thoughts, we take comfort in each other’s company I mean, what else is there?”

Nero suddenly remembered they were in public and suddenly realized he was too close to Shaw, intimately close, close enough to kiss. He pulled back and cleared his throat, glancing around at the more or less empty cafeteria. No one was watching, but that didn’t no one had been.

“Let’s do this somewhere private,” he said.

“Yours or mine?”


“Like, I know we do all what you mentioned earlier, but we only do in after sex,” Nero explained as he sat on the edge of his bed. What this bed has experienced…
The bulge returned.

“Is that wrong?” Shaw asked, confused. Nero found that the man was cute when his face was contorted in confusion. He told him this and received an eye roll.

“No,” he said in answer to his question. “No it isn’t wrong, but it is the only time we talk, and that is what is wrong.”

Shaw shrugged. “You’re the one who doesn’t want our relationship to be public.”

“For credible reasons,” Nero stressed.

“And I’m not complaining, just pointing out that this is what you get when you set a condition like that.”

Nero sighed. He was right. He was right. It was his fault. If he wasn’t so. . . He shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“So what would you have us do?” He asked.

“A vacation.”

Shaw frowned. “That’s a short term solution,” he pointed out.

“I know,” Nero moaned, cradling his small head in his hands and groaning with frustration. Shaw rubbed his hand gently against his back and made soothing sounds.

“Hey, relax, alright? Relax.”

I don’t want our relationship to go on like this!” Nero wailed. “Not like this, not in the shadows, Shaw; the shadows are getting slim!”

“I get you, okay? I get you. But what can we do? Our only option would be to come out, into the light, and the light burns.”

“But so does the shadows,” Nero countered.

“Not as much as the light. Trust me, Nero, I’ve seen it destroy people.”

“So are we going to remain like this? Cease from giving our relationship the nourishment it needs? Do nothing but patch it up temporarily, until it can’t anymore? Until we drift? I don’t want to lose you, Shaw. Hear me? I don’t want to lose you!”

Shaw made soothing sounds as he embraced his distressed lover. Nero continued to cry in his lover’s warmth, but soon the crying stopped and he just sat there, loving and being loved. He had no idea what was going to happen in the future, what their relationship was going to turn into as time went on, as it starved, but he knew, that in that moment, it was the best he could wish for, the best thing to happen to him. In that moment, he felt happy, his heart swelling in his chest, threatening to burst. In that moment, he didn’t give a damn what would happen in the future. In that moment, he felt extraordinary, and it was enough for him…
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