The Conveyed

It was a moonless night and an ominous low rumble filled the steppes. Thick clouds loomed heavy overhead warning of an impending storm.

We had only just concluded the days trek and pitched a tent to weather the coming rainfall. It was my job to set a suitable fire while my mentor prepared our nights rations. With flint and steel, and a little determination, I made quick work of setting a small fire.  I triumpantly congratulated my work and looked up to my mentor with a grin splayed across my face, in hoped of catching her approving eye; however, she seemed preoccupied, her aged eyes fixed on the sky.

Her lips parted – half hushed, “put that out.”

Curious, I mirrored her skyward gaze. “But I just – ”

“Now, Ealora.” She practically hissed just as the underbelly of a massive vessel pushed aside the nebulous sky and an array of searching lights bathed the steppes in streams of revealing white.

In urgency, I did what I was told. I haphazardly kicked arid dirt over the kindling flame and rushed to scrounged what salvagable wood remained.

Over my own haste and the pounding of my heart, I did not hear my mentors words until she grabbed me by the arm.

“Listen.” She commanded and pointed into the night at a distant outcropping amongst the flatlands. “Go. Wait for me there.”

She freed me and I offered little more than a nod before taking up my survival stick and slingpack. I could hear her working feverishly to dismantle our campsite in the wake of my fleeing stride.

I skid and slid through the dirt and low bushes in a barely controlled scamper down the small hill of our abandoned campsite. The low rumble from before had crescendoed and the massive vessel loomed ever closer, its flood lights methodically hunting. It was nearly overhead.

I cast a wary eye over my shoulder in search of my mentor but my sight was obsured by the glaring white of a search light looming ever closer. following the hazy cloud of coarse sediment left floating in my wake. I barely turned my head forward in time to recognize the thin crevasse cutting through the drylands, still, I toppled over its brim.

Down I tumbled against the loose sand and eroded rock until I finally came to a stop at water’s edge. My dust covered boots quickly became encrusted in mud from the slow flowing stream and as I looked up and caught the prowling eye of my titanic pursuer beaming down on me. Just then, a figure vaulted across the crevasse an drew the attention of the seeking gaze. A thin mist of dust showered over me and the light shifted away from me.

“Ealora”

Her voice came to me at the edge of the crevasse. My mentor seemed to bleed into existance where she had not been before. She beckoned to me.

Hand over hand, with the aid of my stick, I clambered up the wall of the crevasse and she pulled me up and onto my feet.

“Stay close,” she said just as the world around his turned bleek.

Her calous brown locks turned ashen and her eyes emptied to a sightless black. I felt life leave me – the thundering of my heart ceased.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Conveyor

Word of the Day: fenestrated

Advertisements

Something More

I stared inattentively out of the front viewport of the buzzing transport. A slow, encroaching fog clung tight to the damp forest around us; however, our angled lights helped reveal the well-trodden path before us. Ever since we had crossed over from the dry flatlands into the swampish forests of Coalwood, I had felt a nagging at the fore of my thoughts and a dead weight at the center of my chest.

Movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention – a hand from the back seat. I turned my head and my eyes onto the gloved hand, the knuckles of which were densly reinforced – in it’s grip, a small package, flipped open with thin edible strips lining the inside. My gaze trailed up to the man offering, his form likewise covered, from neck to toe, in a reinforced uniform.

In my hesitation, he flashed a gentle grin, the comfort of the gesture slightly marred by grafted replacement of his right cheek which remained motionless. I gave a scrutinizing glance back to his offer and he responded with a chuckle and rolled his eyes.

“It’s just a little pick-me-up we use – B12’s, amino acids – ” He moved to tap the shoulder of the driver of our transport, the Corporal, who reached a hand over his shoulder to take one of the clear wrapped strips. The last of our unit, sitting directly behind me, reached out her hand as well and sat back silently.

My squadmate, Davenstraite, continued, “it’ll keep you alert. If we run into any trouble, a little boost goes a long way; besides,” he grinned and chewed on his own helping of the energy supplement, “we leave the recreational stuff at home.”

I caught the glare and near silent sigh from the Corporal. “There won’t be any trouble,” wether he was simply attempting to console me, he seemed sure of that fact. “We’re just here following a rumour.”

“Trust me,” from the woman behind me, “if they’d expected any real trouble they’d’ve sent a Conveyor, not a sim-trained novitiate and chuckle-fuck over here.”

I saw the two glare at one another but the Corporal’s tone cut through the hostility.

“Enough! ETA in five. Leighfield – the rookie’s with you; ask around, but I don’t want you provoking them. We aren’t here to accuse them of anything, got it?” He cast an eye over his shoulder and Leighfield nodded in response, pulling her helmet over her head.

“I hear ya.” She practically grumbled.

The next few moments passed in silence aside from the clatter and strapping of equipment backed by the engines gentle purr. We slowed to a stop just outside the limits of the small town which was surrounded by a crudely crafted wall and a moat of sorts. A pair of search lights aimed down from the walls over the nearby land but nobody appeared atop the walls to greet us.

Our craft lowered to the ground and a depreciating hiss followed the ebbing engines and opening doors. We piled out with our compact rifles in hand. An eerie silence hung in the air as if all motile life had abandoned the area.

I stood, unmoving, my boots slowly sinking into the forest bog. My mind raced for an idea of what could cause a deathly quiet like that.

“Order’s withstanding, kid. On me. Now.” Leighfield’s sharp tone came muffled through her helmet.

What served as the gate into the town hung wide open in perfect condition with no signs of a struggle. The town inside, albiet a far stretch from the sterile sectors within Imperial jurisdiction, was likewise undamaged with no sign of any assault that may have been. The houses, propped and stilts and linked by elevated walk ways, appeared abandoned, doors hanging open and generators long since left unrun.

“Bandits would’ve at least left bodies…” Davenstraite’s near whisper picked up on our squad comm.

Leighfield and I had entered one of the quaint single story homes. The hut had been left mostly intact but stripped bare of essentials such as clothing or food. I knelt down and fished out a carefully crafted leather jounral from beneath a toppled over stool – it had seen little wear and, I imagined, was previously well-kept and guarded. A small lock held the cover taut.

“Got something?” Leighfields footsteps slowed behind me and she leaned over my shoulder to see what I had found.

I showed and handed the journal over, she gave it a once over before unceremoniously prying it open and completely tearing the lock from the leather. She flipped to the last page, skimmed, then flipped to the page prior before reading the passage aloud over the comm.

“Pa says she weren’t like any Pilgrim he’d ever met. He ain’t like her much and I could tell a bunch of the others around didn’t either. He didn’t trust her, he said. Says she was the reason all those folks were gone missing. But that didn’t make no sense. She says she was going to help us find them. I don’t know. She’s always been nice to me and teaches me how to stand up for myself. She even told me her real name before she was a Pilgrim. She lets me call her Kibby.”

~~~~~

“That fog is still hanging in the air. The sun ain’t been able to shine through it and the birds stopped chirpin some time back. Pa says its cuz of Kibby and called her a witch. I told him he was full of it. He ain’t like that. He gave me a thrashing and grounded me and forbade me from speaking to Kibby or going to the forest. He tried to get me to tell him about her cottage in the forest so that he in the rest of the big mouths of the town could have a word with her. I ain’t tell him nothing. I wasn’t going to betray my friend. I wasn’t going to let them suppress her.”

~~~~~

“I don’t believe it. I spoke with Kibby today! Pa woke me this morning and told me I had a guest and there she was sitting in our living room. She told me that he had gone to her cottage and they had come to an understanding. Many of the others seemed pleased with her as well. Pa and I are leaving soon to visit her and celebrate her acceptance into community so I’ll leave this off here and be back to jot down all the fun!”

~~~~~

“None of it is date.” Leighfield ended.

The Corporal’s voice came through next, his tone distant from his usual, “bring that journal to me, Specialist. It could be useful for the Empire.”

———-

Daily Prompt: Bewildered

Word of the Day: lenity

Means To A Generation

I ground dirt and blood between my teeth. Face down, a foot on the nape of my neck, my futile attempts to escape and fight were met with ever-increasing pressure and, eventually, the barrel of a crude firearm pressed to my parietal.

“Ain’t’cher pa teach you nothin’, boy?” The coarse cackling of many bandits stung my ears.

I squirmed again, attempting to rise to my feet, and was met by heavy boots kicking and stomping at my limps, ribs, and back. The foot at my neck let up only to shove me over at the shoulder. I rolled onto my back and blood caught in my throat.

“Humour me, boy – ”

Through swollen eye and the pain of bruised bone I looked up to the man standing over me, his grisly maw painted with a satisfied grin and his eyes wild with glee.

“How’d’ya dream yer end’d be?”

All I wanted was to take one of them with me. I hoped it would free me of the crushing hatred which hounded me.

I had no plan. I gathered a handulf of dirt and sand and twisted my body to launch it at the bandits face. I had barely flinched before he stomped down on my elbow and trained his weapon on my writhing face. I clenched my eyes shut.

The impact of the bolt shook the earth beneath my head. I felt the pressure of the bandit’s heavy boot leave my arm followed by shrieking horror. My blood ran cold, my heart thundering in my chest. Curiosity clawed at my mind but fear froze me in place – my eyes ancorched shut.

The wailing terror waned, the sound of fleeing steps – one and then many. As the noise died down, and my nerves thickened, a women’s voice broke the silence.

“You’re an idiot.”

I opened my eyes only to meet her cloaked back and thick braided hair- in her hands, a hefty stick, roped and nocked, held low on the grip like a spear.

“You’re a Pilgrim!” I blurted, scrambling to my feet. Her gait did not hesitate as she continued to walk away from me and away from the now abandoned bandit campsite. I gathered myself to follow in her wake only to fall to my knees again from the shooting pain of my extremeties and battered frame.

She stopped and turned back to me; knelt down next to me. I remember looking into the ebon voids of her eyes and but for a moment I felt something far beyond myself – a deep calling to a place outside my knowing.

“Did yer pa teach you nothing – ” She trailed, easing me to sit still and musing over my wounds. “All the Pilgrims died in the War.”

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Sympathize

Word of the Day: moxie

Forgotten Ideals

He kicked his legs enthusiastically, his eyes filled with glee and locked down range at a target pincushioned by tens of fletched rods. A second later and another rod whizzed througover the sunbleached clearing. The force and accuracy of the shot rocked the stuffed burlap mass and the rod slammed home with a resounding thud and shook bright orange leaves from the tree. The young boy threw his arms up in cheer, excitement boiling, nearly toppling himself off of the short fence on which he perched.

His outburst caught the ear and eye of the lone archer, a man twice his height and age, who turned and grinned and beckoned him over – an invitation the young man hastily accepted.

“I can teach ya archery, but ya better listen careful.” To which the boy nodded and the man passed to him his maticulously crafted bow of wood and metal. The weight alone cause the boys frame to sag, not to mention the bow was nearly stood taller than he.

The archer chuckled and reliquished the boy of the hefty weapon, “of course, you’ll need yer own. You’ll need strong, pliable wood and metals to create a worthy base, then you’ll be on yer way ta craftin’ yer first bow…”

~~~~~

“‘Bo…”

The airy echoing voice pulled me toward wakefulness only to be followed by a resounding boom and subsquent thunderous cacophony of crumbling infrastructure which shocked me upright. My eyes opened on carnage and my ears filled with the innumeral voices, yelling and screaming and groans of dispair. The cobbled streets were ablaze with smoldering rubble and the bodies of those life ebbing one way or the other. My mind raced for answers, my eyes searching for a guide amongst the chaos but the tall, close-knit buildings and taut streets offered little.

“‘Bo.” Sharper, louder this time. My eyes cut to the weathered streets and fell upon a tattered stick bound with rope, tools, and grooves, and it was strung up from one end to the other like a makeshift bow.

“I’ve got one here!”

I snapped my head in the direction of the voices rounding the corner to the right of me. A handful of men clad in mismatched uniforms of leather and iron took aim with cumbersome rifles. My voice caught in my throat and my heart skipped a beat. I did not recall the where nor the why but I knew that moment would be the one in which I would die.

I simply closed my eyes. The thought of death, unsettling as it was, I could not contrive a purpose for my own life.

———-

Daily Prompt: Puzzled

Word of the Day: oblivescence

Resolute Hounding

Call it an inkling, but I knew some thing was wrong.

It was not irregular for him to be away for long stretches of time – I had come to expect it, even, and grown accustom to extended stays at whatever half-baked hovel he could find to drop me at while he was on an “assignment.” It was the nature of his work – I had come to understand that. It was thankless work: “a job best done alone without distractions or sentiment.” And so I waited, patiently, meditating and training my mind to replicate the same biasless continence he embodied.

His tutorly tone echoed in my mind – a persistant earworm nagging my every action: “a gut feeling is only enough to get you, or someone else, killed.”

So I went to the Council for an explaination for the dread I was feeling. They offered little, even refused to see me time and time over. My curiosity turned to fear and that fear to anger. On the thirteenth night I demanded and audience the Council begrudingly saw.

By that point I was practically quivering with anger, completely fed up with their thumb twiddling bureacrap. My inquires had become blatant commands.

“Just tell me where you sent him!”

“Outbursts won’t get you any answers here, Ally.” Magnus Grey stated, her tone primed to quell rather than command.

“We ain’t friends, so don’t go callin’ me like we are!” I spat back. To me, then, she was no better then them.

Magnus Grey turned down her brow and opened her mouth to reply but was cut short by Centermass who stood up from his seat, commanding attention. The other four council members turned their eye to him.

He peered down at me, daring to be further challenged. “Alheart, The Council hears your inquiry into Moth-Hound’s whereabouts and while we recognize your concern, his assignment is a fragile one which you are incapable of assisting.” He paused long enough for me to huff and open my mouth again before he intejects, “you would only further endanger him with your presence. Trust that we are fully aware of the situation and -”

I turned my back on them at that very moment, fuming.

“You are forbidden to pursue him, Ally.” It was Magnus Grey again, almost pleading. “You will be excommunicated.”

I did not turn and only threw up a single finger over my shoulder. The Rail be damned; I was not going to lose family to appease an ideal.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Inkling

Word of the Day: earworm

Ever Seeking

The waivering flakelets of snow let me know that I was near the ends of my homeland. Soon I would cross the unmarked border into the inscrutable Infinite Oasis where my hunt would begin in earnest.

It was not until the humidity began to cling to my skin that I truly felt like I was in a foreign, uninviting land. I was forced to remove the many layers of our Order to accommodate the near swamp-like biome; it was unlike anything I had ever experienced and my previous studies hardly touched the surface of the taxing weight I felt just attempting to move in such a land; however, despite the fatigue and unease of my body, I felt a clarity of mind and I knew that I stood in the sacred land surrounding Panguur’s Heart.

I had nearly dragged to a stop before I heard a gentle ‘tsk’ tug at my ear and when I turned my head I found a daunting creature looming over me, hanging by its tail from a a tree over head, its tooth-filled maw hung agape and its golden eyes locked firmly upon me. After a moment, it seemed to grin.

“You can see me then, hm?” It offered a wheeze, something akin to a laugh, its tongue looming from its mouth as it lowered and flipped around to stand level with me.

“What is it you seek, simalucrum?” I wrinkled my nose and turned my brow.

“Why, your material vessel, of course; afterall, it won’t do you much good here.”

“And what do I get out of this trade?”

The creature “hmm’d” and paced momentarily. “To finally be free of this confine…” It appeared to weigh its options. “I could lead you to the quarry you track.”

“The Hermit of the Oasis.” I clarified, not to be sleighted by this immoral sprite.

“Yes, I can lead you to him. Whether he wishes to deal with you, however, does not involve our deal.”

“Lead me to the Hermit and you shall have my physical body.” I clarified again, weary still of any tomfoolery.

“Yes, yes. The contract is written,” It turned down its lips in displeasure, annoyed at my thorough approach. “For you mortal flesh I shall provide the location of the Hermit.”

A verbal contract was all that was needeed.

The ethereal creature of the Void led me through the taciturn lands of the Oasis until we came to the remote corner that was revered as the hermitage at which my prey sqaundered his time. It was underwhelming, at the least, little more than cave hole in the side of a mountain wall. The most remarkable feature was the massive elder entenpyr lounging amongst a field of kept grass. It turned his head up toward us and bore a weary glare.

“This was our deal, I have shown you your hunt – ” The creature what had shown me the path seemed eager to be on its way.

“You will reap naught ’till I see the face of my quary!” I stood strong against the trickery of such a sprite.

It was then that the creature lurched and pinned me beneath his weight. He bore down, teeth bearing, eye ablaze and claws digging into my arms and thighs.

“That wasn’t the contract.”

~~~~

Daily Prompt: Inscrutable

Word of The Day: Flakelet

Fight The Machine

Forgive me, Lunaaro, but I feel I must speak these words directly to you: this day – this ‘All-Father’s Day’ – will never be one on which I may revel.

I stand amongst your hopefuls and I see naught but the dangers they bring in their brazen pursuit to ennoble your teachings on this illiberal plane.

They gather, en mass, annually, donning their Planar-inspired regalia, positively littered with vibrant colors and crude stones; they bring with them their cherished trappings and all there talent and dreams; but more importantly, they bring with them the dictatorial hand of the Commonality.

Bloodshed is inevitable.

“Spots…” the moniker drew me out of my glaze and my eyes unto the dazzling ambers of my cohorts gaze. He wore a distressed twist on his lips and a brow wrought with concern, a far cry from his typical sanguinity.

“You’re pouting.” To which he flashed a wry grin, his voice barely carrying over the emphatic trill of the nights festivities.

I sighed gently and force what I hoped would serve as a passable smile. It only took a tilted and raise of Grincrow’s brow to chastise my poor attempt. He followed with a sigh of his own, a heavy breath to match the one I had given before, and I cast my eye out over the field leaving a dry silence between us.

Toghether we watched the jovial antics of fellow Pilgrims and those who were fresh faces to the Order, and even gleeful sprites guising themselves as creatures native to the Material Plane. A handful of practiced Pilgrims had gathered at the center of it all and channelled through the Viel ethereal orbs of glittering light that streamed and sparkled through the air lighting the evening sky in brazen glory to be seen for leagues; an invitation to all, ally and foe alike.

We were not to be silenced.

“Let them come,” Grincrow uttered, gripping the freshly wrapped shaft of his nomad staff. “And if we must fight for our void-given freedoms then may the Vieled Railway guide us to our final stop.”

I turn my eye to him and he bore a calmed smile on his stubbled face. In his eyes I saw the same fearless determination that had become characteristic of that generation of Pilgrims. The same determination I had seen snuffed out year and year past.

A steady roar rolled in just over the cacophony that was the revery of The First of The Pilgrims and we both drew our eyes toward the mountains overshadowing and enclosing the village in the valley. Had come to equate that thunderous hum with tension and loss.

I turned up my own staff and, producing a scrap of flint, I struck at the flare candle affixed to one end.

“May the Vieled Railway see us through to another journey.” I corrected my cohort and let the smoldering flare sail out over the valley and bathe the festival in glaring orange.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Trill

Word of The Day: Reverie

The Hollow Men – Part Two

Previously

…“Fair warning though,” she looked over her shoulder, “she doesn’t much get along with living people.” She added with a smirk that made me hesitant to trust her…

~~~~~

“You’re not going anywhere alone with that harlot!” My mother from across the table at breakfast the next morning.

“I could go with her – ” my eldest brother offered.

My mother scoffed. “As if! You’re not allowed anywhere near that girl.”

“It’s not like I’m going to start being her next partner in crime, ma,” I chimed in, “we’re just going to visit the crematory she’s studying at.”

My father returned to the table with a steaming cup in hand, “what for, Nic?”

I stammered, “…curiosity – ”

“Nic’s been going on about hearing voices and spirits in the courtyard.”

Both my parents and the rest of my siblings turned curious and weary glances on me. I shot Khaleef a snarling glare.

My mother started again, “well you can forget it, we’re not going to let you go off and fill your head with more nonsense like that.”

“She doesn’t even believe…ugh whatever.” I had no sooner resigned to finishing breakfast in silence before a knock came to the side-door.

“Got it!” My younger sister shot up and rushed to the door. We all turned our heads and her voice came back, “oh, hello; speak of the devil – ”

“Jun!”

Both my mom and I snapped at the same time and I shot up out of my seat to meet my sister and our guest at the door. Olivia stood there with a curious look across her dark brows. The scent of smoke wafted in with her. I nudged my sister out of the way, “thank you, Jun,” to which she wrinkled her nose and returned to the breakfast room just around the corner.

“Uh, come on in. We’re just finishing breakfast.” And I stepped to the side to allow her in.

Olivia seemed hesitant and she shook her head gently with a nervous chuckle, “I’ll pass.” She then thumbed over her shoulder and kept her voice low as she spoke, “I’ll keep the ol’ croon company while she waits.”

I followed her signal, leaning slightly out of the door frame to peer down into the courtyard where there sat a figure bundled up in a huge shawl cross-legged on the bench underneath the tree where I usually studied.

“I reached out last night to give her a heads up. She kinda just showed up this morning. So, yeah, we’ll just wait out here…I think she’s enjoying the fresh air…”

At that point, Khaleef eased his way around the corner carrying his dirty plate and heading to the kitchen. “Olivia…hey.”

She flashed a grin in a somewhat dismissive wave as she turned and made her way back out to the courtyard. He twisted his mouth and hung his shoulders continuing onto the kitchen, though, at the moment, I could not bring myself to much care considering his jealous betrayal of late. I shut the door.

“What was that about?” My mother as I reentered the breakfast room.

“Turns out the plans for the crematory are off anyway.” I shrugged and took my seat again. My mother perked her brow and questioned: is that so? I nodded, simply, and finished my breakfast in silence.

It was my day to clean up after breakfast. I was slowly working my way through the plates and casserole dish, listening to the sound of my family bickering in the living room, when another knock came at the side-door.

“Got it!” I chimed out over the voice of Jun from the other room claiming the same. and dried my hands on a spare rag as I quickly made over to the door. I expected Olivia again. She was not alone.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Simmer

Word of the Day: hypogeal

 

The Hollow Men – Part One

I was sixteen when I began to hear them.

Their voices came to me, for the first time, within the quaint courtyard tucked quietly between my family’s home and the next over. When we were not entertaining there, the intimate common area offered a calming escape from the intricacies of my psuedo-aristocratic childhood amongst trees and the gentle crackling of the fire-pit table.

Gentle moonlight brushed my skin pouring in through withering tree leaves blowing and tumbling in the wilting Fall winds. I sat with my neck craned downward, hunched over my studies illuminated by a single flickering torch candle in the small stand next to me.

At first, I thought it was the hollowing of the wind.

A low and slow chorus of incoherent tones caught my ear. I turned up my head from my studies and cautiously scanned around me, my shifting eyes scouring the faint darkness.

…beware fowl men…

My heart turned and I slammed my book shut – I shot to my feet and searched – a part of me hoped that it was just the neighbor twins up to their usual tomfoolery; unfortunately, I found myself alone in the courtyard and the voices continued to hum from places incorporeal. Still, I was convinced it was some sort of prank and resolved to resign for the night.

The following night, the voices came to me again, and so, I decided to tell my brother.

“Show me!” He spouted, forgetting his studies at his desk and eagerly following. We sat down in the corner underneath the drooping leaves of the tallest tree and I bade him be silent. We listened for a time before, again, the words came to me:

…shackled children; beware fowl men…

“I still don’t hear anything…” My brother turned a brow up at me and I back at him. I explained the voices as best I could: a slow harrowing breeze of gentle words, separate and disinterested in being heard, a stream of consciousness from somewhere beyond. He seemed to give it the college try before he shook his head, “I don’t have time for games and ghost stories, Nic,” and rose to leave.

I watched him exit the courtyard, walking the stairs and returning through the kitchen side-door. I was left in the dark, alone – or so it seemed. A presences stuck with me, keeping me from returning to my studies, and I sat with a book splayed over my lap, watching the candle fire flicker and my own foggy breath break on intangible shapes surrounding. I shuddered and closed my eyes.

“You always sit out here in the dark like a creep?” The faint scent of tobacco and theine reached me just before her voice. I opened my eyes and turned up to see the neighbor’s eldest, Olivia, leaning against the stair rails by their side-door and slowly puffing away at a slim cigarette. Our eyes met and I froze underneath her studious scrutiny.

She expelled a long drag, impatiently waiting me to speak. “Nichelle, yeah?” She broke the silence and sauntered down the steps toward me.

“Yeah…” I turned down my head and my eyes away from her, staring down at the densely packed words of my textbook. I could feel her gaze hovering over me and the mixed aroma of her rolled cigarillo tickled my senses. She made a disgruntled harrumph as she plopped down next to me on the bench. When I looked up at her she was leaning toward me and peering down at the open book on my lap.

…wayward…

“So, what have they got you pegged for?” She looked at me and we met eyes again. I looked away.

“Social Work & Substance Counselling…”

“Ah,” she puffed, “a model for all the people of the Commonality; a regular urban angel.” It was easy enough to tell she was mocking me – not personally, I figured. I returned the question.

“Cremation,” she offered dryly.

I must have turned my eyes on her with a little too much enthusiasm. She perked a brow and gave a wry frown. I attempted to quell some of my enthusiasm. “Have you…ever heard voices before?”

Now she was really giving me the eye, “like…what? Ghosts? Spirits of the dead?” She smirked and began to chuckle, shaking her head. I twisted my mouth and dropped my shoulders and after a moment she spoke again: “my mentor goes on about spirits sometimes, but I think you’re a little young to be going senile, yeah?”

I pushed passed her snark. “What does you mentor say?”

Olivia pondered for a moment, tapping away the ashen embers building up on the end of her cigarette. She gave a light shrug, “you’re genuinely interested, eh?” I nodded in response. “Well, I’m supposed to be on ‘vacation’ but the old coot is probably lonely without me anyway. If you really want to talk to her we can take the tram out to the crematory tomorrow.” She snuffed the rest of her cigarette then pocketed it for keeping before standing and beginning to head back in. “Fair warning though,” she looked over her shoulder, “she doesn’t much get along with living people.” She added with a smirk that made me hesitant to trust her.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Mystery

Word of the Day: bonce

 

Desire Faces Resolve

My heart raced and I could feel my knuckles whitening around my survival stick. As soon as I entered the treeline of Coal Wood, a blanket of darkness took the sky suddenly and the trees seemed to close in behind me. A mist thick as smoke conjured in surrounding and shrouding all from sight leaving only vague shadows slowly shifting in the night. When at first I thought them just trees, the further I walked the more I began to see that the shapes were moving in tandem with me. I could feel eyes closely watching.

The once bright light strapped to my stick now illuminated little more than a few feet within the consuming smog encircling me. I could, however, make out a dim floating light in the distance – the only real goal I had – and resolved to keep moving toward it hoping that my target lay there.

“How many more of you foolish Pilgrims are they going to send here, hm?”

The implant in my skull screamed to life just as the voice came as a cacophony of tones sharing words. It echoed from the mist, not omni-directional but constantly shifting. I twisted my head attempting to follow it but the fog would divulge nothing. It almost sounded amused.

I refocused my attention forward.

“Not that I mind much,” it continued, “though, the least they could do is send more than one at a time. Ya know? Give me a challenge!” The voice surged joined by glowing orbs like eyes what blinked to life within the fog, each locking onto me.

I froze and gripped my survival stick like a spear, ready to be set upon. Only the voice followed again – a mocking chuckle and “oooh.” They phantom eyes continued to rest on me.

I twisted my lip into a snarl and though I could feel the sieging grasp of fear pulling at my every nerve I willed myself to speak, hopefully containing the shaking anxiety I felt within, “I ain’t leavin’ here ’til you’re dead, Reaver!”

Another echoing cackle, “then we are in agreeance. I never planned on letting you leave, anyway.” The tone drawled out just as a creeping sensation ran up my legs.

I looked down at the blackened dirt and attempted to shift away but my legs would not move. There was nothing there but my legs were anchored to the forest floor. Just then the veil of fog began to peel back and the once shadowed forms revealed themselves as shambled figures, dirty and tattered, with empty eyes.

One shambled form threw itself at me, aiming its body to impale on my spear-like weapon, and the blade tore through its flesh with ease until it pushed up to my hands, its arms well within reach of me. Fresh blood spilled out over my hands and onto the tarred dirt. Unable to move otherwise, I pulled my weapon to one side to topple the twisted human to the ground and it was then that the others swarmed around me with vicious devitalizing intent.

Scrapping nails at my back and tearing teeth at my arms and legs, pain washed over me but my body was paralyzed in place form the hip down, unable to move or topple over. I bit my own tongue against the pain, unwilling to give Reaver the satisfaction of my pained screams. She would not taste even an ounce of victory.

I twisted one arm violently until I could wrench it free of the grasp of one of my assailants then reached over and with that freedom I jammed my fingertips into the eyes over another, latching onto his skull through the sockets, and began to feed off of the writhing soul inside the body.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Ghoulish

Word of The Day: heebie-jeebies