Sometimes

Sometimes life forces your hand.

The pooling tears exploded through their levee. Rivers that followed the contours of her face ended in a sparkling shower onto the pillow she squeezed like her heart.

Sometimes life makes you choose.

“I don’t want to break up.”

Sometimes life makes you die a little bit.

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Despot

The woods gave way to a bald hilltop. Buildings with thatched roofs and smoking stone chimneys flanked the dirt road ahead. Victor pulled back on his reins, slowing his horse to a standstill. He leaped onto the grass, ripping the blood-soaked cloth sack from the saddle. Aubrey followed suit, relieved to be through with the chafing of the ride. She massaged her aching thighs. Wearing a dress was not a good idea. Victor passed her by, swinging the bag at his side. The blood oozing through the twine mesh caught Aubrey’s eye. She was curious, but hesitant to ask. Understanding that the contents were terribly gruesome.

“People of the Hills!” Victor called out as he paced towards the houses.

Peasants clad in furs gradually wandered out of their shacks. Stretching their joints after being woken from their slumber. Victor waited for them to gather. Aubrey noted that these people did not look at them with fear. They seemed more confused by their sovereign’s sudden arrival.

“Hear me!” Victor announced. “Anyone who dares lay a finger on a Romanov.”

He flipped the back upside down. A pair of severed hands dropped at Victor’s feet. The still gathering crowd gasped. Aubrey winced silently before looking away.

“Will lose it.”

A man in the front row fell to his knees. He wept openly, consumed in his anguish. Others nervously murmured to each other. It seemed to Victor that the message had it’s intended effect.

“Send your tributes to the castle by the end of the week.” He spat.

Victor placed a hand on the small of Aubrey’s back. Nudging her back to the horses. He was eager to take her away from the squalor of the countryside. Back to the creature comforts of Castle Romanov.

“No.” The crying man rose to his feet. “We have nothing. You cannot draw blood from a rock.”

Though he still blinked away tears, he stood resolute. Victor noticed the impact it had on his kinsfolk. Fear quickly shifted to bitterness in a growing sentiment. Men were starting to run back to their houses, most likely to grab their hunting spears and bows. He redoubled his efforts to herd Aubrey away. She looked around nervously at the narrowing gap of encircling tribesmen. He slid a hand onto the hilt of his sword as a warning to them. Victor knew he could take this tribe by himself, but he was not sure if he could protect Aubrey if they all rushed at once.

“Run.” He hissed.

An arrow whizzed towards them. Victor drew his blade with blinding speed and sliced it out of the air. The mob stepped back instinctively. All except for the man with tears still running down his face. He stood his ground in an act of defiance and pounded a fist in the air.

“Victor Romanov! My name is Anton Krylov! And I am the man that will kill you!” He cursed.

The men and women of the tribe cheered in support. Victor grabbed Aubrey’s hand. They were completely encircled.

“Stay close to me.” He growled to her.

She trusted his judgement and obeyed. The swelling anger manifested verbally at first. Victor deflected the occasional arrow and hurled rock with short strikes with his sword. He realized that it was only a matter of time until the mob gathered enough courage to swarm them. He needed to think of a way to escape, fast.

“Watch out!” Aubrey yanked urgently at Victor’s sleeve to get his attention.

Victor spun around in time to catch an elderly woman mid-thrust. Dodging the spearpoint was a simple matter of timing. He gripped the extended shaft of the weapon with a single hand and barred his fangs. This was his opportunity to escape.

“Follow me closely.” He instructed.

Aubrey complied and wrapped her fingers into his coat tail. She was not sure what to expect, but she was drawn to his sudden certainty. Victor whipped the spear from the old lady’s grasp, redirecting the bunt hilt squarely over her chest. He shoved it into her firmly. Not enough force to impale, but enough to push her back through the crowd. Creating a fleeting path through the rows of people. Victor and Aubrey charged into the opening. The faces of snarling peasants blurred past. In a few seconds, they were clear. Victor released the spear. The momentum left the woman stumbling backwards.

“Hurry!”

Aubrey untangled her hand from Victor’s jacket. The two sprinted to the horses with arms outstretched.

“We are done cowering!” Anton roared behind them.

The mass of bodies stampeded in pursuit, emboldened by Anton’s fierce words. Victor was fast enough to escape easily, but he needed to keep pace with his struggling wife. Her breathing was erratic, and her strength was fading fast. Victor winced in annoyance. He dug his heels into the dirt. Aubrey shot him a puzzled look as he skidded to a stop. The mob was getting closer.

“Trust me.”

“O-Okay.” She panted.

With a swoop he ripped Aubrey off her feet. Then took off in a burst of speed. Moments later he had reached his mount. Victor grunted and tossed Aubrey onto the saddle. He pulled himself up with ease and slapped his feet against the horse. It whinnied gruffly. Sharp pebbles flew into the air as they raced down the road, retreating into the forest. Aubrey looked over her shoulder at the hill tribe slowly fading between the trees. Shuddering at the thought of what they would have done to her. She wrapped her arms around Victor’s torso with interlocked fingers. Letting out a relief laden exhale and gazing out into the passing woods.

“Are you hurt?” He asked.

“No. I’m fine.” She laid her head onto his shoulders.

Victor sighed. He had never imagined himself running away like he did. Of course, he was thinking of Aubrey’s safety. But he could not shake the feeling that a fire was started here. One he would be hard pressed to smother. He thought back to the man that had incited the violence. The man that had promised to kill him. Anton. Anton Krylov.

Victor was certain that they would meet again.


This is a bit from a writing project I abandoned a while back. My laughable attempt at a vampire romance novelette. I ended up just losing interest. This encounter was supposed to be the moment when the newlywed Princess Aubrey and Victor Romanov spark the rebellion that brings the couple closer together in order to defeat it (She hates him initially). Maybe my next attempt at romance will be less cheesy haha.

Framed

I DIDN’T DO IT

A puddle nestled between the gaps in the cobblestone road splashed as I sprinted past. Soaking my aching feet. The shopkeepers looked up from their wares at my racing figure in horror. It seemed that the news traveled faster than I could run.

My stepfather always had it out for me. Though he was pillar of the community, he was a cruel man. It started with little things. My mother’s ‘stolen’ necklace stashed under my pillow to turn her against me. A local grocer’s till found under the floorboards of my room to portray me as a criminal. He took care to never abuse me. At least not in any way that could leave a mark. He would always say the same thing: “Who are they going to believe?”

But it had never gone this far before. That man wanted to ruin me.

“You! Stop!” A policeman yelled from a passing alleyway.

He shouldered a flintlock rifle to scare me into submission. I didn’t stop. Even when my leg exploded in pain at the cracking of the gun. I collapsed onto the ground, clawing my way down the street. I had to escape.

“Get him!” An orchestra of fast footsteps grew louder.

I felt a boot press against my bloody leg. Though the agony was unbearable, I pushed the impending screams down to the pit of my stomach. I looked up at the grizzly man in uniform.

“Alan Whitaker. You’re under arrest for matricide. You fucking scum.”

I could hear the ferocity in his growling voice. He was right to be angry. A woman was dead. My poor mother. I found her head under my pillow when I got home, her hacked up body was crammed under the floorboards. When I confronted my stepfather in his study, he only laughed.

“Who are they going to believe?”

Dig

The foot squeezing my rib cage kept me pinned to the ground. A soil spattered edge of the shovel pressed against my trembling throat. My Adam’s apple struggled to gulp repeatedly, stopped each time by cold steel. The man standing above me in a jet blue suit stared into my soul with squirming pupils. He pulled the spade away, releasing me. My body convulsed with involuntary coughing and wheezing.

“Do we understand each other then?”

“Yes.” I wiped away tears with a hand caked in dirt.

“Get diggin’ then.”

I reached for the shovel, but the well dressed man pivoted it out of my grasp. He gave me a disapproving look with empty eyes.

“Your hands. Use them.”

I nodded obediently, then I rolled onto my knees and sunk my nails below the withering grass of the forest floor. Tearing into the earth’s crumbly flesh. Buried rocks and roots cracked against my knuckles, insects wriggled from out their furtive burrows. Occasionally I looked back at the man. He leaned casually against his shovel, tapping his foot impatiently.

“You done yet?”

The pit was barely a foot deep. My spine racked nervously.

“We got all day.”

I dug til the clouds bled orange and purple. The evening breeze whistled its way between the twisting pines. I was sure to take it all in. Memories of the most mundane variety were increasingly precious to me.

“Stop.” The voice boomed, echoing through my core.

The man fiddled his fingers playfully. A wicked smile revealed his festering teeth. The blade of his shovel scraped a trail as he walked toward the pit. I stepped out to face him. I had resigned myself to die, but my fists disagreed. They squeezed around the sharpest pebbles I could find. The man met me at the edge of the hole. He had swung the shovel over his shoulder. His wrist twitched with anticipation. There was not a moment to lose.

“Thanks for your-“

I threw the rocks with the force of a coal train. They clattered harmlessly off his surprised expression. All I needed was an opening. I sprung low to the ground, tackling the man off his feet. A pained exhale exploded from his chest as he slammed to the ground. I took advantage of his shock and wrested the shovel from his grip. He laid there, breathing heavily as I rose to stand. I used the shovel to finish the job.

Thinking back, I should’ve called the police. Instead I buried the mutilated corpse. And stuck the shovel into the ground. It was all I knew about him. I thought it a fitting headstone.

The Bigger They Get…

I was a world class magician. Night after night, I performed sold out shows in Las Vegas. The girls, money, and recognition came easily. People claimed I was a prodigy, that great performers like me only came once every generation. And it was true. I had my time in the spotlight. But my career ended abruptly after 12 years. That’s when “Maxx Magic” came on the scene.

He was a nobody for the longest time. Just finishing up high school while I was making six figures a month. But he was young, and by the time he started performing I was old news. I never blamed him, nobody wants to see the same trick twice. But I sure as hell resented him.

That’s why I used the last of my savings to buy a ticket to every show on his nationwide tour. I just sat back and observed the first couple shows. And genuinely enjoyed this kid’s magic routine. But he ruined my career, so I also took notes on his most dangerous stunts. The ones with fire and sharpened blades.

I settled on a trick he called “Ticking Inferno”. From what I gathered, it was a simple misdirect. Maxx stepped into a glass room, and while it filled with propane gas his assistant locked the only door. Or so it would seem- Maxx dropped down a trapdoor right as the glass box filled with flames. Predictable, but admittedly well executed.

At the show in Sacramento I made my move. I got there a few hours early and slipped past security. Once my preparations were complete, I blended with the audience filing in. I nearly fought a middle aged woman for my seat. After all, I deserved a good view.

The show proceeded identically to the past few I’d seen. My eyelids drooped, I was beginning to fall asleep. Nobody wants to see the same trick twice. But I perked up when Maxx’s assistant rolled out the glass room. I relished the gasps of the crowd as the oversized padlock clicked into place. He fumbled around for a second, acting helpless. It was all an act.

Then it happened. All the confidence drained from his smug face as he stomped on the trapdoor. It refused to budge. I had crammed crates underneath. He pounded his fists desperately against the glass. Stage techs rushed to his aid with the key. They tried shoving it in but to no avail. Glue in the locks. Maxx Magic let out one last blood curdling scream. Then the fire engulfed him. His writhing silhouette pressing up against the glass walls.

While the spectators wailed in terror, I left my seat. No doubt they would check the CCTV footage from before the show. And I needed to get a head start on running.


Side note: I actually won a competition on the ‘Mcscribes & Mcscribblers’ Discord server with this story! The prompt was “The bigger they get the harder they fall”. It’s the first writing competition I have ever entered! I’m 1 for 1 guys! 🙂

-Stay frosty

Tired Fantasy

I threw the covers off my sweaty body in a fit of discomfort, but I still felt a warm tickle along my skin. It was clear to me now that I wouldn’t sleep tonight.

With care not to wake my girlfriend, I crawled out of bed and grabbed my cigarettes from the nightstand. I cringed at the sound of the door to our room squeaking open. But the gentle breaths of my love assured me that I had not woken her.

I stepped out onto the back porch and flicked my lighter. I got a taste of butane with my first puff, but it went to the back of my mind as a wave of endorphins suffocated my thoughts.

I sat for a moment, enjoying the simple pleasures of a calm night. But was interrupted by the clanging of our garbage cans to the side of the house.

Curiosity got the better of me, and I stamped out my ashes to investigate. My socks were soaked as soon as they glided through the dew touched grass. Each step became slightly more burdensome and muddy.

Rounding the corner, my eyes darted around the trash cans. Wondering what had caused such a racket. But nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

“Hey you!” A high pitch voice squeaked. “Human! Over here!”

I had a hard time placing the source of the words until I looked down.

“Yeah you!” A small man about two inches tall, dressed in a bright yellow toga hailed me with a frantic wave. He had a rotten apple core in his hand like an oversized scepter. “Come closer so I don’t have to yell!”

I overcame my nerves and decided to do as he said. Kneeling with my ear hovering over his tiny body, I awaited his response.

“Good! Good!” The little man seemed pleased, and tossed the apple core over his shoulder. “My name is Grayson, and I’m on a quest! The Tomato Kingdom is sick and it is up to me to find a cure! And to do that I have journeyed to the world of the humans to ask for their help!”

I turned my head to see him smiling at me sheepishly. It took a few moments for me to realize that he was talking about me.

“Oh! Um- What is it you need help with?” I asked.

“My people are in trouble! No matter how hard they try, the people of the Tomato Kingdom can’t sleep on their own! Is there any medicine in the human world for this ailment?”

I laughed to myself. He sure picked the wrong guy to ask.

“Listen Grayson. If I knew the secret to a good night’s sleep, I’d be in my bed right now.”

The little man looked disappointed. He kicked a pebble along the ground and shrugged his shoulders. Grayson picked up the apple core once again and slung it over his shoulder.

“Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to make a few hundred trips for rotten fruit.”

His last statement sparked my curiosity.

“Wait, you need food now?”

“Yeah. We discovered that a cure for insomnia is to eat to the point of bliss. Not that a dumb human like yourself would understand, but- Consuming that much food triggers a serotonin release in our brains. Only problem is that there isn’t that much food left in our reserves. We’re all going to starve unless we can start getting to sleep without eating more food than we can manage. That’s why I was hoping you humans had a drug to help us out.”

I snapped my fingers in a moment of clarity. Of course! I always fell soundly asleep after an afternoon at an all-you-can-eat buffet! Beaming down at the little guy, I scooped him in a cupped hand. He seemed uneasy with being carried.

“I’ll do you one better! We’re going to the Walmart down the road! It’s going to blow your mind. Seriously.”

Grayson seemed confused, but excited at my burst of optimism. He pumped his fist in the air.

“TO WALMART!!” He cried triumphantly.

It crossed my mind as I skipped to the store in my pajamas with a two inch tall man in my palm that I might be dreaming. But I didn’t mind. Either way I would wake up tomorrow morning well rested.

Rockstar

The amp hummed as the roadies finished hooking up the sound system for tonight’s show. They were cutting it close. It was only twenty minutes till. I plopped on a stool provided by the venue and continued obsessively tuning my bass guitar. I spied Ben out the corner of my eye, he was practicing some riffs lightly on his drums while checking his Instagram. A lone neon green electric guitar sat center stage, stealing the limelight. I had to stop looking at it.

“Any idea if Chris will grace us with his presence?” Mac, the manager of the bar tapped his foot impatiently. “People are already lined up outside.”

“Don’t worry about it Mac.” I chuckled to ease the tension. “Chris always pulls through.”

Mac shrugged. My assurances seemed good enough for him. He threw a dirty rag over his shoulder and headed back to the bar.

Though I wasn’t so sure he would show. Chris’s behavior had been getting out of hand recently. It started with the drinking, then the women, and now drugs. We made it on the radio once and he was acting like he was bigger than John Lennon. We had our fair share of fights over it.

“Aye Ben!” I shouted at our near deaf drummer.

“Mmmph?”He grunted in acknowledgement.

“Can you call Chris again? He won’t answer if it’s me. We only have-” I eyed my watch face. “Jesus! We only have 7 minutes till showtime!”

Ben nodded his head solemnly and fished his phone from his skinny jeans.

Suddenly the doors burst open. The sound of ambient chatter and the smell of sweat filled the room immediately. I threw my hands up in exasperation. We still had 7 minutes!

“Sorry guys! They were getting unruly out there! I had to let ’em in!” Mac called from somewhere in the sea of flowing faces.

My heart pounded like the intro to an AC/DC song. Chris was out of time. I looked down at the instrument I had meticulously tuned for the past hour, and then at Chris’s green guitar. It’s glossy coat glared from the spotlights shining down on it. I realized what I had to do, and it terrified me.

I handed the bass off to a roadie off stage and approached the guitar. The moment I assumed the spotlight, my anxiety magnified. I could feel the wandering eyes of the crowd fix on me. I slung the green beauty over my chest and fidgeted with the frets. I looked back at Ben nervously.

He cracked a half smile and slowly raised his drumsticks above his head.

As he clacked them together, I let out a shuddering exhale and counted down.

OneTwoThreeFour

Atomic Stories and Lovecraftian Writings.