The Thief of Moons

This week’s Chuck Wendig challenge concerned a random story title, and the instruction to write a fun, easy story – see here. I don’t know about fun and easy, but it was very cathartic. Enjoy, or endure, The Thief of Moons.

He’s dressed in an expensive suit covered in zippers made by the best tailors in the business. The suit fits like a glove, gleaming red and blue over his taut, muscular body. Underneath, his body is a hollow, misshapen oval, fragile and androgynous, a maze of inlets and outlets. His arms and legs are thin, hard and segmented, and he moves like an insect that has been subjected to too many amputations. Only when he moves can you hazard a guess at where his face might be, for it is indistinguishable from the suit and the zippers. In his left hand is an overnight bag, like the ones doctors carry. Tiny, empty specimen jars are packed neatly in the bag. Floating in each one is a moon. Sickles, crescents, quarters, halves. But never full. He is the Thief of Moons, and he sets his sights this month’s new prey.

A scarless, deep salmon sun sets over the horizon of his hunting ground. Light bleeds over a septic world in dire need of a saviour. The land is littered with debris from where the sea inside burst long ago. A giant beached whale lies on the shore, its body striped and mottled like a failing liver. The air is thin and faintly poisonous.

As the shadows loomed taller, the Thief of Moons scurried from cover to cover, in search of that perfect circle of light. The grounds were sodden and flooded, and his feet and free hand made uneven splashes in the water as he held his bag high, keeping his precious moons dry. The light retreated for good. Now he had his chance. He placed his bag down and rubbed his red and blue hands together in delight and anticipation.

“Soon, soon.” He opened his bag and started removing the jars, arranging them in order of the size of their contents. The little slivers first, followed by crescents, eighths, quarters, and so on. There was one empty jar, filled with clear water. He took it in his hand and went on to the place where he would get the best view of the moon. There, he would hunt it down, subdue it, and capture it. Keep it safe. Nurture it to fullness if I have to.
“Oh moon,” he called in a soft, authoritative voice. “It’s time to come with me.”

There it was, hanging in the place where the sun had been. “No.” It called back. “I want to save this world.” Not quite full, the Thief of Moons observed. One more night maybe. Then, I should have bought sweets. Moons love sweets.

Still, the tantalising, shining oval remained out of reach. Slowly, the Thief of Moons unzipped the area where his mouth would have been and began to bleed. His blood mixed with the swamp slime, his weakened state bringing stars into the black sky. The waters rose, and he grew closer to the moon. He saw surprise morph into fear in its tiny craters, and saw some resemblance to someone, somewhere. A goddess perhaps. How the face of the moon looks almost human. He’d never noticed this in the sickles, the crescents, or even the halves.

“I know you.” The moon cried. “You were once the sea inside. Once you ruled these lands… why?” He whispered. ”How could you let them go to ruin?”

If the Thief of Moons had eyes to cry, he would have. None of them had spoken to him before, let alone confronted him with questions that it would pain him to try and answer. He zipped his mouth and wordlessly reached out with his jar, shaking his head. The moon seemed so small in the jar as is flitted around in apparent anguish at being in a space so confined. The sky was so vast, both in size and possibilities. Soon, there would be another moon. And soon, he would capture it for his collection.

The Thief of Moons left the place where the moon had been but no longer was. He piled his little jars back into the bag and picked them up. Shaken from the blood loss and inner existential turmoil, he tried to lift the bag but dropped it instead. When did I become so weak? He watched helplessly as water, light and fragments of glass cascaded out of his bag and ran down the thighs of the night like a waterfall.

Once, he ruled these lands as the sea inside. He could have saved them all. But he was not made to be a ruler. As the last of the moons disappeared, the sting of his own failings pierced his heart.

The Thief of Moons zipped his mouth open and shrieked, and shrieked and shrieked. Somewhere, the goddess flat lined.

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Benjamin 2.0

This week’s Chuck Wendig challenge was called “Invasive Species” in honour of his new book called “Invasive.” You can read about the challenge here

Also, a big thank you to everyone who has read and liked or commented on my work so far. I will make the effort to keep going with these challenges as well as work on my own stuff (offline for now). I enjoy reading all of your work too – keep it up!

My story is a bit more serious this week. I hope you enjoy Benjamin 2.0

Ben wasn’t really a people person. He didn’t even think much of himself really. But he was good with animals. And so it was that he was charged with curating the zoo’s latest attraction. She was expected to draw visitors from all over the world, they said. And so she should, for her kind had not been exhibited in 80 years, and had been declared officially extinct for 30 years.

That’s longer than I’ve been alive, Ben thought. He’d observed Hope for the past three days in her enclosure, which had been painstakingly recreated in the likeness of a Tasmanian wilderness her kind were thought to be accustomed to. She had done little to investigate her surroundings – her activities were limited to pacing back and forth, sleeping, and devouring the raw chickens Ben brought to her twice a day. During feeding times, she had stayed well away from Ben, eyeing him warily.

Today, he would spend a little time in the enclosure with her. She was still a joey, after all. Officially, she had been found in far North Queensland and nursed back to health by zoo staff. Unofficially, Ben had stumbled upon the truth. She had been commissioned by the zoo and created in a laboratory, the product of genetic material gleaned from her ancestors and raised in a numbat surrogate with the aid of ectogenetic technology. Whatever the hell that means.

They were working on a mate for her, but that might take a few years. Officially, there were more of them out there, and it was just a matter of time before they captured a male and the zoo could start their conservation program.

He opened the gate to the enclosure and walked in. She was a bit bigger than Splinter, the Jack Russell that Ben had owned as a child. In many respects, she looked like a dog, except that she had a long thick tail which tapered to a point and hung down like a kangaroo’s, and a pouch, obviously. A line of faint black stripes ran horizontally down her back and gave her species its namesake, the Tasmanian tiger.

Hope. He called out softly. She darted into the bushland. Ben felt a surge of joy and disappointment. While he was delighted that she was finally exploring her habitat, he longed to pat a Tasmanian tiger just as much as everyone else. His boss also wanted Hope to become tame.

Imagine how much people will pay to take photos with her, he’d said. If she can warm up to anybody, it would be you.

Ben listened and surveyed the enclosure. Although he knew the terrain better than she did (he’d designed it), he had no chance of finding her amongst the burrows. He walked through the paths, looking left and right, but did not find her. She did not surface for dinner and his dread grew at the thought that the last Tasmanian tiger may have once again died in a zoo. And this time, he was responsible!

The following morning, the chicken was gone. Encouraged, Ben laid out some fresh chicken and waited. After 15 minutes, it seemed that Hope was not going to be lured, so he went into further into the bushland. He heard birds squawking and looked up to see feathers falling, and Hope, in a tree, a crow in her jaws. She was a larger than she had been yesterday, and the stripes on her back and tail were darker.

She was hunting! Ben did a little happy dance right there on the path. So little was known about the natural behaviour of this species, and yet here he was, the only person in the world to witness it first hand! I knew they could jump, but this is remarkable. But how could she have changed like that over night?

Hope’s sudden increase in size made him more than a little uneasy. And why would she hunt when there was food freely available. He watched her bite down on the crow. Weren’t their jaws supposed to be quite weak? She stared down at him. Ben backed away from her as though she was an aggressive dog. She jumped down from the tree and advanced a few steps towards him, then yawned, opening her jaws to 80 degrees.

That night, Ben couldn’t sleep. He thought about the footage he had watched on the last Tasmanian tigers in zoos. The creatures in those films were a pitiful sight to him, reminding him of Splinter standing at the fence as he left for school, or dogs in shelters waiting to be adopted. How they had paced back and forth, rested, and yawned over and over. At one point, he looked into their eyes cried and what humans and introduced species had done to them. Maybe it’s just the old zoo environment. Still, every time he rolled over that night he expected to see her face in a wide yawn.

That morning, his boss was waiting for him.
“Hey Ben, how’s things going with Hope?”
“She seems to be settling in ok but she’s strong and not as timid as I thought she’d be. I don’t know about parading her around for pats and photos.”
“In time I’m sure she’d be ok. Say, did you know that the last Tasmanian tiger was called Benjamin?”
“I know, spooky huh?”

Benjamin shook his head and took some chicken from the refrigerator and went to feed Hope. This morning, she was nowhere to be seen. He looked up in the trees and poked sticks into the bushes. Nothing. He took his torch and walked towards the burrows. There were three, and they were all connected at the back. They were just the right size for him to crawl into, but it was a tight fit. He stomped his foot outside.

“Hope.” He called, then “Hope,” again. He turned his torch on and put it in his mouth and began to crawl into one of the end burrows. They are supposed to be fearful creatures, and run at the sight of people. That’s why nobody has taken a clear photo in over 80 years. But then, this was no ordinary Tasmanian tiger. This one was grown in a lab, and made to look like a Tasmanian tiger. Who knew what it really was? Damn thing reminds me of something out of Silent Hill…

Then… HER FACE! She was in front of him, blocking his path. She was bigger… darker… than the day before. Her wide mouth opened, and Ben thought of sharks and crocodiles. Their jaws were weak… That’s part of the reason why they all died… He put his arm out, and Hope’s mouth chomped down hard. The pain, and the flowing blood seemed absurd to Ben, like silly streamers flying out of a magician’s sleeves. He tried to shuffle back, but he was so far in… Hope pulled on his arm, and he remembered playing tug of war as a boy with Splinter… Cut it out boy, that’s not funny. He drifted off, there in the burrows, and awoke several hours later.

The zoo staff found Ben’s torch and clothing abandoned in Hope’s enclosure the next day. They called the police, who were unable to solve the mystery of Ben’s disappearance. Unable to find any next of kin, Ben’s boss arranged to have his car towed away. Everything had gone according to plan – they had their male tiger now. Outside the enclosure, the zoo staff hung a sign: Meet our newest addition: Tasmanian Tigers Hope and Benjamin 2.0.

Planet Dave

Today’s silliness is brought to you by a Chuck Wendig challenge. You can read all about it here

Princess Murderpaws rubbed her eyes and opened them. Casting an eye over the wreckage of the Skyjin 5000, her gaze settled on her trusty steed sprawled beside her “Narwolf, are you ok?”

He stood and shook himself like a wet dog. Just like that, he was ready to do some spearing. Over the past few days they had battled demon circus clowns, zombie pizza delivery drivers, and most recently a giant space worm. That last one had almost bested them, swallowing the Skyjin whole and excreting them in this god forsaken, yet serene, place. They were in a woodland, only all of the plants had been pruned in the shape of the letter D.

“It might be nice to have a few quiet days. Still, I do miss my gold leaf plated bed.” She climbed onto the back of Narwolf’s back. “Narwolf, we need to find food and lodging. I don’t know who or what inhabits this planet but they must be neat freaks.”

They rode through the forest of D’s when they came to a road. A car was abandoned there, licence plate no DAV14. Up ahead, there was a large building. As they road closer, they could make out the sign outside. It read: Hotel David.

“I guess it must be run by a guy called David.” Murderpaws said to Narwolf. “Wonder if it’s the same David who abandoned his car?”

They walked through the doors straight into a bar. Up the back, a band was playing an eclectic mix.

“We are Iron David.” The singer declared to shouts from the crowd. “And that” he added, pointing to Narwolf, “Is the most metal thing I have ever seen on Planet Dave. Am I right?”

“YEAH.”

“Why don’t you come up here?”

Narwolf rushed to the stage. Princess Murderpaws held on for dear life. He was a dog at heart, and would do anything for a pat or a scratch between the ears. Still, perhaps she could grab the mike and have their needs known.

“What’s your name buddy?” Murderpaws only just leaped off Narwahl’s back before he went belly up for some pats. While the singer was crouched down scratching Narwalh’s belly, she commandeered the microphone.

“I am Princess Murderpaws from Otopia, and that is my steed Narwolf. We can pay good money for lodging or a ship home.”

A hush went over the crowd.

“ARREST THE OTTER.” Yelled the bartender.

Narwolf tore through the crowd and out the door. During the confusion, Princess Murderpaws hopped onto a bar stool, ran across the bar and hid amongst some liquor bottles. Looking through the amber liquid, she could see two police officers approaching.

“What say you, Constable Dave?”

“I don’t know, Sargent Dave. It looks like a case of not being called Dave or David to me.”

“Indeed, Dave.”

The two Daves pushed behind the bar and began shifting the bottles. Murderpaws noticed that all of the bottles were called Dave’s something or other. She crouched behind a keg and waited to pounce or run.

“Aha!” Constable Dave stared down at Princess Murderpaws. She leapt at his big, red, moonface.

“Aghh. Get it off. Get it off.”

Sargent Dave scooped up Princess Murderpaws by the scruff of the neck and carried her out to the patrol car.

“Don’t you know who I am?” She said.

“If you’re not David, you’re nobody.”

The cell was not befitting a princess. The bed, toilet and washbasin were distinctly lacking in gold leaves or cleanliness. Outside, someone thumped on the wall. Murderpaws looked up to see some guy. Where the heck was Narwolf?

“I can help you.” He whispered in a heavy Liverpool accent.

He didn’t look like a lawyer. He was dressed like some kind of space bum, with a deerstalker hat and a tattered leather jacket. He looked like he hadn’t seen a barber since the middle ages. His t-shirt looked like it was stained with blood.
Princess Murderpaws thought she’d seen him somewhere before. On TV perhaps. But he didn’t look like a celebrity. She jumped onto the lid of the toilet, then onto the washbasin. Again, not befitting for a princess.

“Smegging hell.” The guy said. “They’re even locking up otters now. How can otters be named anything?”

“Watch it, I’m Princess Murderpaws. And my Narwolf is looking for me.”

The man looked at her in disbelief. “I don’t think I even need to bust you out. Can you sort of flatten yourself down a bit, like a cat?”

The princess sighed. She’d been through so many indignities already, what was one more?

A moment later, she found herself tucked under a jacket which stank of curry.

“Welcome to the secret hideout of the not Daves.” Said Murderpaw’s rescuer, as he set her on a table of TV cops, doctors, lawyers, psychics, and comedians.

“Years ago,” started one, “the world was overrun by Daves and Davids. There were simply too many people called those names for life to be sustainable on earth. So the government started sending them to a new planet.”

“Planet Dave,” said another. “Only they made a terrible mistake.”

“Yes,” said a third. “They sent the famous Daves as well. Actors who were better known as a factional David. Your rescuer over here is really called Craig.”

“That’s right.” He smiled. “Here I’m known as Space Dave.”

“My real name is Paul,” said one, “but I dare not say it here.”

The others nodded their heads sagely.

“So we live here in our secret headquarters, and rescue any not-Daves from the police.”

“I’m working on an escape plan though.” Said Space Dave. “I learned how to fly space ships on my show. All I need is a ship.”

“I know just the thing.” Said Murderpaws. “Follow me, not Daves.”

And they went off in search of Narwolf, the Skyjin 5000, and a way home.

Cat vs Evil

Oops, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? I noticed that I’ve had a few visitors in the last month or so. Thank you!

This week, I have taken on another Chuck Wendig challenge. You can read about it here

Basically, the challenge is to write a story of approximately 2000 words about X vs Y. I got cats versus evil. So, here is my take on that theme. I hope that you enjoy it!

Jupiter stretched and stood up from his mistress’ plush towelling bath robe, leaving a perfect cat sized dip in the pile.

Humans are strange. He thought as he passed by the shower. Though he spent long hours wondering while she was at that place called Work, he couldn’t fathom her habits and routines.

Why did She voluntarily step into a glass refrigerator and pour hot water on herself for half an hour every morning? Why did She pull hairs out of her skin and paint her claws?

Why did She own so many clothes when she could wear so few of them at one time? (He’d found out the hard way that they weren’t for scratching or sleeping on)…

THUMP THUMP THUMP! A visitor… and a chance for escape.

“YIAW!!” Jupiter said.

“What is it Juju?” She yelled from the shower. “I just fed you.”

“YIAW!!”

With a loud sigh she turned the taps off and snatched her robe off the floor. Too late. The door thumper was gone.

There goes another chance. Jupiter thought.

“Did you hear something Juju?” She peered out the glass window by the door. “Huh. A package. Back in the bathroom with you, mister.”

She scooped him up, one arm around the middle, the other under the butt, plonked him in the bathroom and shut the door. Jupiter sat by the door and listened.

“Huh. Wrong address. I’ll take it to the post office tomorrow.”

She opened the bathroom door, and a whirlwind of hair drying and foul smelling cosmetics ensued. Jupiter ensconced himself on the bed. She followed soon after, pulling the wardrobe doors open.

“Where is that little black dress?”

How would I know? I’m just a helpless little kitty cat. Jupiter smiled. Fur never lets you down.

“Of course you wouldn’t know. If you did you would be sleeping on it.”

Clothes. What a source of misery! She was much happier without them. As if to prove his point, his mistress frowned in the mirror before she left wearing a white blouse and black skirt, muttering about how she wouldn’t look as good for her lunch date.

Jupiter rolled over and released an effortful purr. He slept for another three hours.

There was something strange about the apartment when he woke up. He jumped off the bed and walked down the hall. About halfway, it hit him.

A siren smell like lady cats and salmon. Had She plugged in the Feliway again? Was Gus the moron back?

Fourteen cat years ago, his mistress had decided that her Juju was lonely and needed a companion. Jupiter had hoped that She would find him a mate that would be his intellectual and philosophical equivalent. Sadly, this turned out to be Gus, whose repertoire of behaviour consisted of accidentally locking himself in cabinets, falling behind furniture and getting stuck (ok, so maybe I pushed him a few times), and staring at the wall. To add insult to injury, she had also purchased a male cat. After Jupiter beat him up a few times, she tried a pheromone diffuser, which smelled heavenly but did not diffuse Jupiter’s disdain. After a few weeks, Gus the moron was tearfully rehomed.

No, it wasn’t Gus the moron, Jupiter thought, relieved. He followed the origin of the smell and found himself in front of the large package on the table. He inspected it thoroughly, sniffing the corners, and jumped on top of the box. Only a thin layer of packing tape separated him from the lady cats and salmon. What else could it be?

He raked his claws across the top, the cardboard coming away from the box in satisfying strips. Closer to the prize, he tore at the box like a dog digging for a bone (such an ugly analogy) and chewed at the remaining cardboard. He had to admit that it was somewhat tasty.

Beneath him, the box began to shake. It opened and something came out like a jack in the box, throwing Jupiter to the floor, where he scattered a bowl of cat biscuits. He looked up and saw the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.

It was round, and maybe twice the size of Jupiter. Its surface rippled as it floated about three feet above the table. Jupiter thought of things he’d only seen on television: a lion’s mane, a soaring eagle, and the languid glide of a veil tailed fish. He had a sense that he saw both predator and prey in this thing. The beautiful smell had evaporated, and in its place he smelled rotten food. A new toy it was not.

“Yiaw.”

JUPITER.

He started, his eyes grew wide. This thing was talking to him. Yes.

GOOD.

Who are you?

FIRST. TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT.

A mate that will be my intellectual and philosophical equivalent.

CLOSE YOUR EYES.

Jupiter followed the strange instruction. In his mind’s eye, he could still see the thing floating.

NOW OPEN THEM.

“YIAWWW!” The shapes of the furniture, the food bowl, and the dust bin were all the same, but they were somehow brighter and more distinct from one another.

COLOURS. THEY ARE COLOURS.

Jupiter turned to face the thing and saw a kaleidoscope of colours: reds, blues, purples, and pinks. The colours have names too? How did I know that? He stared at the thing in awe. He closed his eyes and found his memories filled with colour. He was six weeks old, alone in the pet store. His brothers and sisters had been sold. Next to his glass cabinet, there was a fish tank. There were six fish, only they weren’t swimming free. They were locked in little compartments like him, and each was a bright colour. One was crimson, another turquoise. The others were violet, sky blue, or a mix of colours. He saw the label on the tank and could read it. SIAMESE FIGHTING FISH – $11.95.

That was what the thing looked like! Hey! Hey thing! What about my companion. Will she know colours too?

In response, the thing began to swim through the air, from one side of the kitchen-dining to the other. The light reflecting through the venetian blinds reflected off its surface, exposing scales from some angles, and feathers from others. Jupiter watched, transfixed, lost in memories from his kitten-hood.

OH YES, SHE KNOWS THOSE THINGS. SHE KNOWS THEM EVER SO WELL.

It began to spin on the spot now, a windmill or a wheel of colour. Then it turned on its side and shot out a window She had left open.

“YIAW!” Jupiter jumped at the gap, but it was too small for him to fit through. It was gone.

His stomach began to rumble. In frustration and hunger, he knocked over the dustbin. A rainbow of tins and packets fell out. In the past, this had been one of Jupiter’s favourite things to do. This time, he found himself able to read the labels. The mystery of the packets was all too transparent for him: Arabica coffee, sardines (yum), Mars Bars.

He ran down to his mistress’ bedroom and tried to sleep, but his thoughts and memories overwhelmed him. He had seen so many colours and words in his life.

At 5:30pm, Jupiter heard the key in the lock. She’s home!

“Juju. Have you been a good kitty today?”

Jupiter ran into the hall. His mistress was there. She looked so radiant with her dark lashes, pale skin and red lips. And that blouse… it wasn’t white at all! It was blue, like the sky on a summer’s day! Just looking at her, he knew so much about her. She had bought it last winter…

Mistress. I know. I know so much. He ran around her ankles, leaving fur on her stockings.

“I hope that you’ve been a good kitty, because mummy is having a friend over tonight.”

A man stepped over the threshold. His large hand was reaching down. Jupiter instinctively pulled away.

“Hey buddy.” The man bent down and scratched his head. It was an affectionate gesture, like an adult would do to a cherished child. “I know we’re going to be friends.”

The colours on his t-shirt started to swirl and ripple…

“YIAW!” Jupiter said. It was all that he could say.

A Scary Story Part 3: Witching Weather

It’s week 3 of Chuck Wendig at http://www.terribleminds.com’s scary story challenge. Thank you to those of you who have stopped by to read some of my work – I really appreciate it.

This week I have taken it upon myself to write the conclusion to a little story called Witching Weather, started by Rebecca Douglass and continued by Vicente L Ruiz.

Part 1: http://www.ninjalibrarian.com/2016/10/friday-flash-witching-weather.html
Part 2: https://medium.com/@VicenteLRuiz/more-witching-weather-342a0e424f72#.gmkq9ltlw

Mr Hadley stood at the window. He smiled like any proud grandfather watching his grandson tearing around the yard on a shiny new BMX, or his granddaughter bouncing around on a trampoline.

All they had wanted was some sweets. Life was full of bags of sweets, he had once told Jill. She had gasped then, and relaxed at the sight of his reassuring face and soft, gloved hands.

“Some bags are just harder to open than others…”

He closed his eyes, savouring the memory, and listened to his grandchildren as they began to sing.

“Jack and Jill went up the hill…”

“Can you hear that Mason?”

“Yeah, it’s that nursery rhyme. Only the second part sounded kind of garbled.”
“I know… it sounded like ‘something, something, daughter.’”

“Really? I got ‘an inch and a quarter.’”

“You’re a creep Mason.”

“What? That’s what I heard.”

“You just did it again.” She slapped him.

“Ow. Stacey. I didn’t do anything.” He turned around and saw her frightened eyes in the torchlight. Something moved behind her.

Hadley looked in the mirror beside the door and practiced a smile. His eyes were vortices that had seen a millennium (and would see another) but his smile appeared kind, inviting even. He looked down at his hands. They had been strong once, adept at twisting a human neck 180 degrees, but in this new body they were weak and soft. He pushed the door open and soft light spilled into the overgrown garden and bled into the fog. His grandchildren covered their eyes, the backs of their hands grazed by the arc of light.

“Hello. Is there someone in my garden?”

“Uh, sorry, yeah – we were just lost and… and…”

“Google Maps led us here. We were looking for a restaurant.”

“Not at all.” Said Hadley. “Please don’t apologise. In fact, why don’t you come in? I would be glad for the company and you two must be starving.”

“Uh, no that’s ok.” Mason took Stacey by the shoulder and began to lead her away. In that moment, Jack dived at Mason’s ankle and bit through his jeans. He came away with a sizeable chunk of denim and flesh.

“Agggh! You little bastard.” Mason kicked out with his other leg and fell over. Somewhere, a child giggled.

“Oh my God. I knew there was something here!” Stacey tried to pull him to his feet. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Through that fog? Young man, I insist that you come to my house for first aid.”

Another pair of hands, not unlike her own, reached out from the fog and helped Stay lift Mason to his feet. It was another teenage girl, skinnier than Stacey and unkempt. She stayed out of the light the whole time. They went into the house, followed by a small boy who stayed behind them like a wary guard dog.

Inside the house, Stacey was feeling decidedly chicken. The old man and the little boy had Mason laid out on a long couch. Stacey and the teenage girl sat together on a coffee table. Mason’s wound had already begun to take on a hot, rotten stench.

“He’s going to be like Jack soon.” The teenage girl said.

“Is Jack the little boy?”

“Mmm. We used to be friends.” She looked to the window. “A long time ago.”

Holy shit. The girl was Jill.“Hey, maybe we can do something.”
Stacey’s stomach rumbled. She felt around in her pocket and took out a packet of M&Ms. As she munched, Mason screamed and Jill started to cry softly.

“All we wanted was our own Halloween lollies. Our parents wouldn’t let us trick or treat. I thought he couldn’t possibly do anything worse to Jack than what he did to me.” She squeezed her hands together and Stacey saw that they were burned.

“Jill.” She whispered. “I want you to come with me.”

They retreated deeper into the Hadley mansion in search of the kitchen. It was past the looming staircase at the back of the house, and looked like nothing had been prepared there for several years. Stacey closed a couple of cupboards hastily as maggots and mice sprawled out upon opening them. Her stomach lurched. There was a gas oven, but no sign of anything to start it with.

“Jill. Are there any matches?”

At the sound of this word, Jill’s eyes widened and she covered her ears.

“Lighters?”

This word was met with a piercing shriek, and Stacey heard a scampering in the hall. She leapt into a low cupboard, hoping that the mice had cleared out. The maggots, she would have to live with.

“What is it Jill?” Jack’s voice was a demonic rasp.

Stacey could make out a few words through Jill’s tears. “The girl. Burn us.”

Crap. Inside the cupboard, there was an old china jug. Stacey fumbled around for the handle. A mouse scampered up the inside of her leg, but thankfully veered off when it reached her inner thigh. She gritted her teeth and gripped the jug, readying herself to strike. He was opening cupboards above her, and she kicked the door open, knocking him off balance.

He snarled, his face a whirl of Halloween paint, and she smashed the jug in his face and ran. Mason’s jacket was heavy on her, and began to slide down her shoulders. She pushed her hands in the pockets to keep it on, and found a cigarette lighter. As she neared the living area, she began to limp.

“Hadley.” She groaned. “Jack bit me.”

“Oh you poor dear. Let me see.” He started towards her, grinning. Behind him, Mason was turning grey on the couch. As he advanced, Stacey slipped off the jacket and set fire to it.

“He bit me right… HERE.” She yelled, and thrust the burning jacket onto him. His clothing lit up immediately, and Stacey felt her eyebrows singe. It was like throwing a ball of newspaper on a campfire. Their eyes met, and for a moment, she saw eternity. Then the body that housed those eyes turned to ash, and Hadley was gone.

Inside the kitchen, a small boy’s voice rang out. “I just want a Snickers bar Jill.”

So there you have it – the conclusion to Witching Weather. Thanks to the authors of part 1 and part 2 for such a cool set up. I hope you enjoyed it!

A Scary Story, Part 2

As per the scary story Flash Fiction Challenge by Chuck Wendig http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2016/10/14/flash-fiction-challenge-a-scary-story-part-two/ we have to pick up another author’s part 1 and write out own part 2. I picked Martin Perlin’s story. Read part 1 here: http://mywrite.martinperlin.com/2016/10/flash-fiction-challenge-scary-story.html. And now, without further ado, here is part 2! I think we should call it simply “You’re Next!”

Daniel shook his head and got into the roller coaster carriage. His sister Katie and another boy scooted in beside him. The woman pushed the safety bar down to hold them in place when the ride went upside down. Katie reached for his hand and he grabbed it absently. All he could think was, she had touched the goo too.

It couldn’t really be a bad thing could it? It had healed the gash on his leg, seemingly like magic. His shoulder and leg itched a little. Katie let go of his hand as the roller coaster train lurched into motion.

The other children screamed as the rickety train rose and fell with the track, then almost went upside down. Katie was screaming too, but the only thing Daniel found scary about the ride was the way the supports felt like they were going to give way at any moment. It stopped there, and Daniel guessed that they were about 10 feet up in the air. The little roller coaster that could, Daniel thought.

He looked down, and saw the woman and the old man staring up at them. She seemed to smile only at Daniel, and she saw him beckon him with her index finger. Daniel had seen videos on the internet of people standing up in roller coasters and falling (to certain death, the videos had promised). But this train had stopped, and was starting to slide backwards a little. It was slightly angled to the right. And the goo had healed him before. Daniel was sure that if he fell, it would heal him again, and Katie too.

“Hey Katie. Want to get out of here?”

She looked around nervously. “I just want mom and dad.”

“I know. If you hold onto my hand, we can go ok?”

He pushed the safety bar up despite protests from Katie and the other boy that he would get into trouble. He stood and pulled Katie to her feet. She held onto his waist as he started down the track. After they had gone a few feet, he glanced back at the rollercoaster train, wondering if it was going to come back to life and chase them.

“We have to hurry.”

Behind them, Daniel heard screams.

“SHIIIT. RUN KATIE!”

A cry, then “Daniel! I’m stuck.”

She had pitched forward, her leg trapped between the tracks. The train was coming. Daniel pulled her out and jumped off. As they fell, he thought of how he had escaped the old man and the woman earlier that day.

Daniel managed to shield Katie as they hit the ground, but he wasn’t so lucky. He bent his knees just before he hit the ground. There was a snap like a branch breaking, then the bone tearing through his shin. Katie was screaming again, and Daniel was not sure if she had even stopped.

“MOMMY! DADDY! I WANT MY MOMMY!”

Daniel searched through the glaring lights, brighter now, and whirling rides for their parents. He was a big boy now, he thought ruefully. Their parents would be eating dinner, maybe strolling through the art gallery, confident that Daniel was old enough to take care of his sister for an hour or so.

“Honey, are you alright?”

“Mom?” Daniel looked up. Of course it was the woman. The bride of the vampire, he thought.

“Oh my, that’s a bit of a scratch isn’t it? Hector come and take a look at this.”

The old man was shuffling over now, too fast for a man of his apparent age. As he approached, Daniel saw that his hands were slimy with that green goo. As bad as the pain was, Daniel would rather spend the summer with his leg in a cast than let that creep touch him.

“Mister, you look like a vampire.” Katie said.

The couple laughed and exchanged a glance. “Oh sweetie.” The woman said. “Hector’s not a vampire. There’s no such thing. He’s going to make your big brother better.”

Hector now stood with his hands outstretched like a mummy. The goo seemed to be alive, surging down his hands and leaping from the tips of his fingers onto the open fracture on Daniel’s leg. He watched as the droplets of goo surrounded the injury like ants surrounding a dead animal.

Slowly, the bone began to retreat back into his leg, as though a magnet somewhere, somehow was guiding it into place. That same force seemed to join the two sections of bone back together. The injury disappeared as the flesh surrounding it took on a liquid quality. Daniel thought about how he stirred Milo into his milk in the mornings.

“Wow, cool.”

Some of the other children had gathered around. The woman looked around nervously. “Hector, we have to leave now.”

Daniel stood, looking Hector in the eye. “Th-th-thank you sir.”

“You’re next.” He said.

Hector and the woman started off away from the crowd, ignoring the inquisitive children.

Daniel turned to Katie. “Don’t say anything to mom and dad about any of this ok?”

“But why? Won’t it be on the news?”

“No. It would only be on the news if somebody died.”

“Can we get fairy floss.”

“Sure.”

They walked through the sideshows, surrounded by people laughing, screaming and winning crappy little toys. Daniel might as well have been in a bubble made from those words: “You’re next.”

Hector had saved him twice now, intentionally or not, and Daniel felt like he now owed the man something. He didn’t think a “Thank you sir” was going to cut it.

“Mom! Dad!”

Katie broke away from his hand and ran towards their parents. They were both crouched down, arms outstretched.

“Did you have fun sweetie?” Said mom.

“Yeah, we went on a roller coaster.”

“That’s great honey.” Said dad. “But what’s this?”

Daniel froze. They knew something.

The words “You’re next” echoed in his mind.