Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 9

Chloe stands up and shoves Dani into the pantry. They shut the door just as the kitchen door breaks. The sound of energy crackling fills the air. The two girls kneel in the darkness. Something passes near the door. A heavy breathing fills the air. The doorknob begins to turn.

”Come out, come out to play.” A raspy voice whispers through the wall, ”Come out and join me out here. You cannot hide. You cannot run.”

A moment passes in silence.

”I know why you are here. I know why you left your home on the coast. You ran and you ran because you made your choice. But you can’t run from what you have done. I know what you did on the night of the August Fifth.”

Dani looks at her sister with wide eyes. Her sister cups her hand over Dani’s mouth to keep her from crying out.

“It doesn’t know.” Chloe whispers hoarsely, “It doesn’t know.”

“Yes, it has to.”

”I know what you did. He died screaming. Alone and afraid. Because you refused to be with him. He died because of you!

Dani squeezes her eyes shut and curls into a ball. She clamps her hands over her ears. The creature on the other side cracks laughter. Dani whimpers. Chloe pulls her close but her sister shoves her sister away.

”You are alive and he is dead! Why do you steal the lives of others!”

Dani shudders and crawls towards the pantry door. Chloe struggles to keep her sister from reaching the door.

“Let me!” Dani chokes, “Please!”

“No! I won’t let you!”

The girls struggle while the shadow laughs. The door rattles and the knob slowly turns.

“NO!” Chloe kicks at the door with her feet. She keeps the door pin. Dani fights again to open the door.

“Please!”

“It’s lying!”

“No! I know it’s true!”

Without warning, the ground drops out from below them.

X

“I found something!”

The boys look up and Val raises a hand. He pushes off from the wall he was leaning against.

“This guy here. He says that he found the symbol and some kids drawing them. The symbol was used according to a fellow in the ancient world. According to this fellow, he and who ever he works with discovered that certain humans… could create golems. These humans could make things come alive, creating life with their history as their essence. It seems that these special humans continue even today. However, only those involved in constructing things with their hands are able to bring stuff to life. The humans have long since forgotten to truly make them alive. Instead, they become aware.”

“Okay. So… some guy who can build things that make them alive made these houses.”

“It would seem so.”

“So why are the houses suicidal?”

“Maybe because of bad stuff? If their history is bad then maybe their personality is bad?” Jacob asks, “Is that what they mean?”

“Maybe.” Anthony says quietly, “I don’t know.

“What do we do? To kill the house? Burn it?”

Val flips through the book, “I am not sure. He doesn’t say. Just a list of observations over a week or something.”

“I think I have the answer.” Anthony says as he pages through a book, “I remember seeing something about humans possibly triggering stuff.”

“What?”

“Here. It didn’t make much sense to me either. Okay. Here. We observe a man painting a symbol on the houses who were behaving alive. The house then became hostile. Several houses have become sources for haunted stories. We have not discovered why these men are painting the symbols or their motivations.”

“Okay. So a human can make a house alive without realizing it. Then they are other houses making them angry?” Val says, “I feel like we are saying a bunch of stuff but not really going anywhere fast.”

“Maybe but that is how our little story is going.”

“Fun times.”

“Mike?” Val says, “Are you okay?”

“I… I there was a man in town. He had old books with hand made notes and images in them.” He takes a deep breath, “That’s where I got the idea of the symbols from.”

“You mean there is a man, in town right now, that knows about what is happening?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Great! Then let’s go talk to him.”

“How, Jacob?” Val waves his arms, “We’re still stuck in a shack in a space of three feet by five feet! Or have you found a way to get us out of here?”

“Um. Not yet.”

Anthony turns to Mike, “You know what you need to do now, right?”

“Yes.” Mike mutters, “I need to focus and remember what the guy looks like.”

“Wait. If houses are coming alive. Wouldn’t this person be watching this house?”

“True. So why hasn’t anyone come for us?”

“I don’t know. There is a lot I don’t know.” Anthony looks at the cramp space then back to the books, “Apparently we haven’t found what we are supposed to find yet.”

“Then we need to keep reading.”

“And hope the author wrote down the solution.”

To be continued…

Monday Stories: The House- Chapter 7

The boys land in a pile. Among the groans and moans, Anthony feels cold. He straightens up. The brothers lie in a tangled mess. Mike pulls himself out from underneath.

“What just happened?” Val mutters.

“The house just went monster on us,” Jacob growls.

“Maybe.” Mike looks around, “Where are we?”

“I think we’re outside.” Anthony answers.

“What makes you say that?”

“This looks like a shack.”

The boys turn their attention from their aches and pains to the room. Like the house, the dust covers everything. There are tools attached to the walls. Their surfaces are coated with rust. There is an oily smell in the air. The windows are coated in grease.

“Okay.” Val mutters, “Stupid question. How do we get out of here?”

“Really?” Mike replies, “I thought it would be, ‘how did we get here?’.”

“Oh, I skipped that one since we don’t actually have an answer.”

“Good point.” Mike looks towards the door, “First. The basic solutions.”

“And if that doesn’t work?”

“We try breaking the windows.” He looks back, “I assume none of you tried to break a window to get out, right?”

“Also true.”

Jacob lifts a shovel and slams it against the glass. It bounces off with an unnatural thud. He tries three more times before giving up.

Val turns towards the others, “Plan C?”

“I got nothing.”

“Maybe we can go get out another way.”

“Really?” Val snaps, “Really? Because if you haven’t noticed, we’re in a shack outside a house that is coming to life. What do you think we are going to do?”

“Actually.” Jacob asks while raising his hand, “Why did it stick us here?”

“I don’t care.” Mike answers, “I want to get out of here and back to reality.”

“What about the girls?”

Mike takes a deep breath and slowly shakes his head, “What can we do stuck here?”

“I don’t know.”

“Any ideas?”

“Well. What do you all remember?”

Anthony frowns, “It was cold.”

“And fast.” Val glances out the window, “It shouldn’t have taken that short of time to get here. Do you know what I mean?”

“Yes.” Jacob replies, “What does that mean for us?”

“I think that means we’re in trouble.”

“Agreed.”

Val stomps his foot in frustration. The ground echoes metallically under the blow. The boys look down and stare curiously at the ground. Val and Anthony drag away the dirt, revealing an old metal door. Together, they pull the door open and reveal a black chamber with a ladder inside.

“Okay.” Jacob says, “Who wants to go down the ladder first and die?”

“I think there is a light switch.” Anthony reaches over and feels around the edges.

“How do you know?”

“Dad used to have something similar with our storm shelter.” At a soft click, yellow light fills the chamber below, “There it is.”

A cement floor is covered with dirt and boxes line the sides of the walls.

“What do you think?”

“I think we need to be careful,” Anthony says as he begins working his way down the old ladder.

In a few short minutes, the teens are underneath the shack. The boxes cover the entire left side of the wall. Opposite of the boxes is a metal door. Between the two of them is a desk covered with leather-bound books.

Anthony wanders over to the desk while the brothers examine the crates. Mike studies the lock on the door. The walls shake and tremble for a moment. Dust falls from the ceiling. The boys look up then at each other. Val turns to Mike.

“Can we get through the door?”

“Nope.” He says, “There is some freaky combo lock there.”

“Fun.”

“I might have found something.” Anthony raises a hand.

“What?”

“These journals.” He glances at the different corners, “They are about the house over the past few decades.” Anthony flips to the back, “Quite a few decades.”

“How far back?”

“Almost a hundred years.”

“Wow.” Jacob replies, “What is it about?”

“The house. It seems like someone has been watching the house and noticing weird stuff.” Anthony turns towards the others, “June 3, 1875. The house is once again changing. We haven’t discovered why but the house is alive. We are worried that the disease is spreading. The house has tried to kill three occupants. However, it was unsuccessful.”

“That’s good.”

The teens pick up different books off the desk.

Val flips through the book, “This one is talking about the house. Says here that the writer thinks that something is triggering aberrant behavior. But he also states that a house can change behavior by the events happening within the house.”

“And this one.” Jacob says, “There are markings that may be triggering the changes in the house behavior. Oh, they even drew a symbol.”

Jacob turns it and shows it to the others. A triangle with a half circle underneath. A single line goes from the top of the triangle to the bottom of the circle.

Anthony notices Mike has grown pale.

“Mike? What is it?”

“That symbol.” He points with a shaking hand.

Val raises an eyebrow, “You’ve seen it?”

“I drew it.” He steps back and puts his hands on the back of his head, “Today before everyone got here. I painted it so to scare the girls. The last big thrill before the end of the night.”

To Be Continued…

Monday Stories: The House – Chapter 6

“What are you talking about?” Val growls impatiently, “I am getting sick of this stupid plan of yours. I knew I should have stayed home but no, I had to let you talk me in.”

“Look!” Mike says and he points towards the wall.

The teens crowd around the hall. Mike pulls out a flashlight and shines it on the lower part of the hallway just before the stairs. Barely readable in the weak light are the carved words “Seal it. Free me. Undo what was done.”

“Oh wow.” Jacob mutters, “That makes so much sense now.”

The brothers glare at the taller boy.

“What? I didn’t do this!”

“So you claim.”

“Would I do this? Seriously?”

Without warning the house shudders. A great creaking noise fills the air. Cracking of noise accompanies each teen as they disappear out of sight. Dani’s wheels her arms as the floor beneath suddenly shifts. She lands on her back as the floor seems to move away from the others. She turns back just to see Val and Mike slide down the stairs. Anthony is swept into a room by a door. Her sister disappears through a wall. In an instant, Dani finds herself alone and in the dark.

A moment later, weak lights appear in the distance.

She winces in pain and checks herself for injuries. Save for a few scrapes, she is unharmed.

“Chloe!” She yells. Her voice oddly muffled in the thick air, “Anyone?”

Only silence answers her. The air seems heavy. It lies on her like a thick blanket. Carefully, the teen stands to her feet. In the distance, a lamp flickers on. In its light, a red desk is revealed.

Dani pauses, debating whether to follow the light or not.

“Well.” She mutters to herself, “I always say to the people in the movies and books don’t do that so I’m not going to do that.”

The light of the lamp is enough to walk down the hall. Like before, the walls are worn and dust lies heavy on the surfaces. But there are no doors. Only a cross section. With a sigh, Dani takes the right hall.

Once out of sight of the lamp, she is left in total darkness. Slowly she feels her way along in the dark. Occasionally her hands brush across the hard shell of a bug.

She turns away and wanders down the hall. She feels around with her hands. She rounds a corner and is suddenly blinded. She blinks her eyes as spots float before her.

After a moment her vision clears. At the same time, her heart drops down into her stomach. It is the same lamp that she turned away from. The same red desk. The teen turns around and looks back where she came from. However, only a closet stands open.

Slowly, the teen turns back to the desk.

It is unremarkable save it is extremely old. Like any desk, it has a surface to write on and drawers to keep things. There is no chair.

Dani turns away from the desk but the doors slam shut, even the closet. The light flickers for a moment.The young teen steps back from the desk. The darkness grows thicker and she feels an urgency in the thick air.

X

The ground suddenly moves and Chloe feels herself being thrown across the hall. The blonde teen braces herself to slam into the wall. To her surprise, she passes through the wall. She notices the very boards bending as she passes by.

She turns her head and Chloe can see her sister being dragged away.

“Dani!” She screams as the wall shuts in front of her. The ground drops out from below her and she rolls along. With a sharp pain, Chloe slams into a cold wall.

The girl slides the floor with a groan and she rolls onto her back. A naked light bulb burns overhead. The walls are made of stones with wood rafts overhead and cement flooring. The girl sits up and tries to get her bearing. She peers through a nearby window. The teen finds the world still dark and that she is facing the empty backyard. Chloe tries to open the window but it refuses to open.

With a sigh, she turns around and begins looking for the stairs.

The basement is simple in design with stone pillars holding the ceiling up. Like the rest of the house, there is dust and cobwebs lying on everything. Her steps sound strange to Chloe as she wanders through the room.

After a few moments, the girl finds the old boiler and the place where the washing and dryer once stood. Confused, she looks around the basement again. She counts the rooms and looks for unique markings in each of the rooms.

Four rooms. Four minutes. No stairs.

“What is going on around here?” Dani mutters to herself, “Hello? Anthony? Dani? Can you hear me? Anyone?”

The house rumbles and dust fall from the ceiling. One portion of the wall crumbles and a chest falls to the ground. Chloe stares at the ceiling. Fear fills her. The house shivers again and the ground moves. In a blink of her eyes, the chest and the teen are side by side. Another shiver and the walls close around her, trapping her with the box.

For a moment, Chloe stares at the chest.

To Be Continued…

Monday Stories: Dangerous Waters – Chapter 6

Ash and Talon walks down the street. The road is silent. The birds and the insects have fallen strangely silent. The air is still and heavy. The two teens draw out long blades and holds them next to their legs. Ash raises her left hand and holds out a silver disc. She focuses on it. Her eyes glow slightly. The surface of the disc glows with equal light in a Celtic-like design.

“Do you think we should have talked to them?” Ash asks quietly.

“You are worried that they will do something foolish?”

“Yes.”

Ash frowns, “You’re worried?”

He nods his head.

“Why?”

“Because if it is what I think it is, there is a terrible damage.”

A triangle brightens at the center. It points to the upper left corner.

The light fades from her and the disc.

“I don’t like this.”

“What?”

“The idea that we are going to confront the reason behind everything that is going wrong at this passageway.”

They reach the edge of the city block. An office tower rises up in the dark. They move across the street. They open the door to the building.

No alarms sound.

No guard calls out.

“Not good.”

“You want to take point?”

Talon nods his head.

In a moment, the boy moves through the building. He becomes more like a shadow than a person. His feet make no noise against the tiled floor. Ash can barely see Talon as he makes his way across the room. After a few moments, Ash moves equally through the building.

Together, Ash and Talon make their way up to the upper floor.

Ash notices Talon standing just outside the door of a custodian closet. She arrives next to him. He pushes the door open and nods his head. Ash peeks in and feels her gut collapse in on itself.

The body of a janitor lies on the floor. His face is a frozen mask of terror. His belly has been ripped open from side to side. The edges of the wound is blackened and scorched. There is no sign of blood.

Ash kneels next to the body and hovers her hand over the wound.

“I sense blood.” She looks up at him, “Black blood.”

“His?”

She shakes her head.

“Then we must go.”

Talon leads the way back towards the center of the building. A wide and ornate stairs wind around and up towards the upper floor. Instead of walking up the stairs, the two teens leap from a lower rail to a higher one.

They reach the upper floor with ease.

They come to a stop at the top of the building. Both are perched on the railing. Talon looks around one more time before nodding his head. Ash taps gently to the floor. A low moan comes from an elegant office.

“That is the mayor’s office,” Talon says wordlessly.

“It could be her.”

“And it might not be.”

“I will be bait then.”

Talon takes up a position in the shadow.

Ash moves forward. A man lies on his back. His chest is ripped open. But like the janitor, his wound is blackened and no blood has been spilled. Ash feels her hearts begin to pound in her chest. The man tightens her grip on the sword. She finds the source of the moaning. A woman lies on her back and clutching her arm. Blood flows freely down the length of her arm.

The woman notices the girl.

“Help me.” She says in a hoarse voice.

Ash kneels next to the woman. “Talon. It is the mayor.” She looks at the middle-aged woman, “What happened?”

“He attacked.” She gasps out, “I didn’t even know it was able to change its shape.”

The girl glances over towards the door then back at the woman. Talon stares at her, his face pale in the weak light. Ash begins treating the wound while Talon keeps watching on the woods.

“Who?”

“I don’t know who.” She says as she cradles what is left of her arm, “It came years ago. My great grandfather made a deal with it. That it will have a safe harbor as long as it never killed any of the citizens.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. But my whole family has been carrying on the agreement.”

“What changed?” Talon asks.

The woman starts at the sound of his voice.

“It’s okay.”

“I don’t know. It only killed once a year. Always a stranger.”

“Then it started to kill multiple times. What. Three years ago?”

Her eyes flicker between the two teens, “How did you know.”

“Research. We know what… this is. But why did it attack you?”

“I don’t know.” She whispers, “I didn’t know it could change shape. I thought it was… someone working for me.”

“It is changing its skin.”

“Then that settles it.” Talon’s eyes harden, “Where does it nest?”

“What?”

“Where does it nest?”

“By the lake.” She leans up against the wall, “But why? Why did it attack me.”

“Because it needed your blood. It always needs the blood of its host.”

“I don’t understand.”

Ash helps the mayor to a sitting position. Talon punches the number into the phone for the emergency services.

“Do you know what it is?”

Ash glances at Talon. He gives her a short nod as he speaks to the emergency dispatcher on the phone.

“What is it?”

“The creature has a mate and it has begun to spawn.”

The woman’s face pales. A second later, she slides over to her side and passes out. Talon joins Ash.

“Probably shouldn’t have told her that.”

“Maybe.” Ash stands up, “But she is partially at fault for what is happening.”

“Maybe.” Ash looks off into the distance thoughtfully.

“What is it?”

“Do you think Chloe tried to fix it herself?”

Talon nods his head, “She was the elite guard.”

“And she wouldn’t have known that it was mated.”

Emergency sirens begin to wail in the distance. The flashes of the red, blue, and white lights dancing off the walls of the office.

“Let’s go.”

X

Talon moves along the edge of the lake. His breathing is heavy but his hands are steady. The lake looks almost peaceful. The full moon gives plenty of light to walk by. His blade is held steady. The young teen waits in the shadows of the trees.

He can see Ash standing near the edge of the lake. Her body’s markings are fully aglow. Her green markings are a strong contrast to the blue-white moonlight.

Her eyes scan the lake’s surface.

Out of the opposing treeline, another Ash appears.

The first Ash turns towards her. The second Ash flicks her wrist, allowing a blade to appear in her hand.

They leap forward and attack.

Both blades clash and ring through the night. As the swords sing through the air, they trace out green lines of light through the darkness. Asides from the sound of battle, Talon doesn’t hear any other sound.

Talon’s hearts twist in his stomach as he watches the battle unfold next to the lake. The second shadow rises from the water. The attack catches Ash off guard. The second attack slams into her back, pitching forward and slides across the ground several feet. His friend lies still, unmoving. The second Ash and the second attacker study Ash.

Together, they drag Ash into the nearby woods.

“Be safe my friend,” Talon whispers in the dark. He carefully stands up and moves across the field. His hearts pound away while his hands grip his sword.

X

Ash groans as she wakes up. Although her torso aches, her arms and legs are numb. Only the slight tingling sensation gives her the confidence that she hasn’t suffered permanent damage.

The young teen winces in the memory of the fight. It was disturbing to battle herself. It felt less like an opponent and more like her own subconscious. The fight had taxed her skill. Even if Talon had fought beside her, the ambush of the second attack would have negated the advantage of numbers.

In all likelihood, Talon would have been captured as well.

Ash shakes her head, “Focus girl. You gave a job to do.”

Her eyes adjust to the darkness. She barely sees the stone outcroppings. The air is damp and a foul odor hangs in the air. In the distance, she can hear something heavy work its way through the cavern.

Crude, metal bars block off the small crevice that she is trapped in.

Carefully, the fae leans towards the opening.

In the weak light are dozens of nests. Each one holding at least fifty glowing spheres. Moving among the nests are two figures. Each has four thick limbs, a muscular tails, and massive jaws.

At the moment they are more interested in the spheres than anything else.

The only other thing that Ash can make out is the presence of at least one other light source. However, the bulk of the creatures prevents Ash from determining what that source is.

“Hello?”

Ash is startled by the noise. She turns her head and sees another girl peering through her own bars. Her brown skin is streaked with mud. A scar runs across her forehead to her chin.

“You are Fae?”

She nods her head, “Ellia of the Northern Frostlands.”

“Ash of the Southern Woods.”

“Did they capture you as well?”

She nods her head, “In a manner of speaking.”

“Has the council not noticed?”

“I was sent by them.”

Ellia breathes a sigh of relief.

“How long have you been here?”

“A year or so.”

Ash stares at her wide eyed, “How many have been taken?”

“Since I have been here? A dozen. They take whoever they can get their hands on.” She shudders, “There were others here longer but they took them.” Her voice cracks and the Fae covers her mouth.

A low growl from the opposite side of the chamber puts a stop to their conversation. One steps forward, careful not to hurt the eggs. After a few moments, it turns back towards tending the eggs. The teens relax slightly. They lean closer so they can whisper.

“I thought they were extinct.” Ellia whispers.

“They’re supposed to be. We weren’t sure what was happening until recently.” Ash replies, “Some did not believe, even with the evidence of cycles and manner of disappearances.”

“But then how did you get here?”

“One of the Fae who choose to remain in the human world. She was one of our more constant writers. Then she sent word that Fae passing through were not reaching the portal.”

The cave shakes slightly and the two creatures rise up. For a moment they chitter at each other. A moment later, they assume the shape of two humans. Without a noise, they disappear through the caves.

“Ah good. Time to go.”

The second Fae stares curiously at Ash.

“Came with a Guardian.”

Her eyes grow wide in surprise.

“I thought they were…”

“So did I but they called one back.”

“I knew… they were evil. But to call out a Guardian?”

Ash nods her head, sober by the thought.

“Are you…?”

“Come on. We need to leave.”

“What about the others?”

“Others?” Ash frowns.

“Yes. They are more.” The Fae’s face pales, “I think they feed on them.”

“Let’s go.”

X

Talon waits, perched in the treetops.Two humans appear out of the cave. They walk slowly into the open field. Their eyes scan the field. One slowly moves across the field. The other remains close to the cave entrance.

Talon takes a deep breath and steadies himself.

Without warning the tree shifts.

He looks down and sees one of the humans. However, a large scythe has replaced its arm. He howls and slashes again. The tree tilts crazily to the side.

Talon leaps free with ease. As he spins in the air, he lets his power flow. Energy crackles around his forearms. The Fae hits the ground. The earth peels back from his landing point. The human’s flesh rolls and writhes across his flesh. In seconds, the creature’s true form appears. Thick limbs with an armored body. Its tail hammers the ground.

The creature leaps forward and with claws held out.

It howls, a chilling cold voice.

Talon sets his jaw and charges forward. Energy swords explode outward and forms a pair of long blades in his hands. In an instance, they clash. They exchange blows in rapid succession. The creature’s powerful tail swings, falling three trees in quick succession. However, Talon is able to block the attacks.

The creature flexes his limbs and tosses Talon fifty feet across the field. Talon lands easily. Symbols burn to life along his lower legs.

He suddenly accelerates, faster than any human. He sweeps underneath the other’s attack. The creatures howl. It spins back with an attack towards his head. Talon falls to one knee. He flexes and leaps to the sky.

Then the battle begins.

The creature spins and reels back on his hind legs. Its tail slams into the ground. The motion sends the creature upward.

Talon slashes down. The blow sends the creature back down, creating a crater.

A gout of fire explodes out of his mouth. The flames reach but encounter a transparent shield formed by Talon. The shield divides the flames and he drops towards the creature. The creature snarls and rolls away. Talon leaps towards him and slams the blades into the creature’s chest. The animal howls in pain.

The animal lets out one last ragged breath as it falls to the ground.

As the creature falls to the ground, the second creature howls in anger and grief. Talon spins and sees the creature charging across the open field. Halfway across, the creature has changed into its true form.

Chunks of earth toss up into the air.

Talon releases more power into his body. The energy crackles around his body as he begins his attack. They meet fifty feet shy of the woods.

The resulting the clash sends shockwaves rippling through the air. The resulting tears apart the earth. The earth is torn apart. The scythe and the swords clash. They move back and forth across the clearing. In moments, the once lush meadow becomes little more than a torn field. The attacks are brutal with no holds.

Talon struggles to block the clawed arms, barbed claw, and armored feet. As quickly as he can, he lashes out with his blades singing.

A sudden blow sends Talon skipping across the ground.

He rolls back onto his feet ready for an attack.

However, the creature rolls to its side. From numerous wounds black liquid pours. The creature’s body compresses as it breathes its last.

With a groan, Talon picks his way through the mauled ground. He eases way into the cave opening. As his eyes adjust to the darkness, the cave slowly becomes brighter. To a human, it would seem as if the light of a full moon filled the cavern.

He walks deeper into the cave system.

A hideous smell fills his nostrils. Talon feels his stomach lurch at the horrid stench. As he rounds a corner, he feels something crunch underneath his foot. He glances down and realizes that it is a piece of bone. It glitters in the dark.

He bends down and he realizes that it is a Fae bone.

Talon continues, passing bones of animals and humans. Occasionally, he finds a Fae bone mixed in with the rest.

Talon hears soft noises coming from the end of the hall.

Monday Stories: Dangerous Waters – Chapter 7

Ash groans as she wakes up. Although her torso aches, her arms, and legs are numb. Only the slight tingling sensation gives her the confidence that she hasn’t suffered permanent damage.

The young teen groans at the memory of the fight. It was disturbing to battle herself. It felt less like an opponent and more like her own subconscious. The fight had taxed her skill. Even if Talon had fought beside her, the ambush of the second attack would have negated the advantage of numbers.

In all likelihood, Talon would have been captured as well.

Ash shakes her head, “Focus girl. You gave a job to do.”

Her eyes adjust to the darkness. She barely sees the stone outcroppings. The air is damp and a foul odor hangs in the air. In the distance, she can hear something heavy work its way through the cavern.

Crude, metal bars block off the small crevice that she is trapped in.

Carefully, the Fae leans towards the opening.

In the weak light are dozens of nests. Each one holding at least fifty glowing spheres. Moving among the nests are two figures. Each has four thick limbs, a muscular tail, and massive jaws.

At the moment they are more interested in the spheres than anything else.

The only other thing that Ash can make out is the presence of at least one other light source. However, the bulk of the creatures prevents Ash from determining what that source is.

“Hello?”

Ash is startled by the noise. She turns her head and sees another girl peering through her own bars. Her brown skin is streaked with mud. A scar runs across her forehead to her chin.

“You are Fae?”

She nods her head, “Ellia of the Northern Frostlands.”

“Ash of the Southern Woods.”

“Did they capture you as well?”

She nods her head, “In a manner of speaking.”

“Has the council not noticed?”

“I was sent by them.”

Ellia breathes a sigh of relief.

“How long have you been here?”

“A year or so.”

Ash stares at her wide-eyed, “How many have been taken?”

“Since I have been here? A dozen. They take whoever they can get their hands on.” She shudders, “There were others here longer but they took them.” Her voice cracks and the Fae covers her mouth.

A low growl from the opposite side of the chamber puts a stop to their conversation. One steps forward, careful not to hurt the eggs. After a few moments, it turns back towards tending the eggs. The teens relax slightly. They lean closer so they can whisper.

“I thought they were extinct,” Ellia whispers.

“They’re supposed to be. We weren’t sure what was happening until recently.” Ash replies, “Some did not believe, even with the evidence of cycles and manner of disappearances.”

“But then how did you get here?”

“One of the Fae who chooses to remain in the human world. She was one of our more constant writers. Then she sent word that Fae passing through were not reaching the portal.”

The cave shakes slightly and the two creatures rise up. For a moment they chitter at each other. A moment later, they assume the shape of two humans. Without a noise, they disappear through the caves.

“Ah good. Time to go.”

The second Fae stares curiously at Ash.

“Came with a Guardian.”

Her eyes grow wide in surprise.

“I thought they were…”

“So did I but they called one back.”

“I knew… they were evil. But to call out a Guardian?”

Ash nods her head, sober by the thought.

“Are you…?”

“Come on. We need to leave.”

“What about the others?”

“Others?” Ash frowns.

“Yes. They are more.” The Fae’s face pales, “I think they feed on them.”

“Let’s go.”

X

Talon waits, perched in the treetops.Two humans appear out of the cave. They walk slowly into the open field. Their eyes scan the field. One slowly moves across the field. The other remains close to the cave entrance.

Talon takes a deep breath and steadies himself.

Without warning the tree shifts.

He looks down and sees one of the humans. However, a large scythe has replaced its arm. He howls and slashes again. The tree tilts crazily to the side.

Talon leaps free with ease. As he spins in the air, he lets his power flow. Energy crackles around his forearms. The Fae hits the ground. The earth peels back from his landing point. The human’s flesh rolls and writhes across his flesh. In seconds, the creature’s true form appears. Thick limbs with an armored body. Its tail hammers the ground.

The creature leaps forward and with claws held out.

It howls, a chilling cold voice.

Talon sets his jaw and charges forward. Energy swords explode outward and forms a pair of long blades in his hands. In an instance, they clash. They exchange blows in rapid succession. The creature’s powerful tail swings, falling three trees in quick succession. However, Talon is able to block the attacks.

The creature flexes his limbs and tosses Talon fifty feet across the field. Talon lands easily. Symbols burn to life along his lower legs.

He suddenly accelerates, faster than any human. He sweeps underneath the other’s attack. The creatures howl. It spins back with an attack towards his head. Talon falls to one knee. He flexes and leaps to the sky.

Then the battle begins.

The creature spins and reels back on his hind legs. Its tail slams into the ground. The motion sends the creature upward.

Talon slashes down. The blow sends the creature back down, creating a crater.

A gout of fire explodes out of his mouth. The flames reach but encounter a transparent shield formed by Talon. The shield divides the flames and he drops towards the creature. The creature snarls and rolls away. Talon leaps towards him and slams the blades into the creature’s chest. The animal howls in pain.

The animal lets out one last ragged breath as it falls to the ground.

As the creature falls to the ground, the second creature howls in anger and grief. Talon spins and sees the creature charging across the open field. Halfway across, the creature has changed into its true form.

Chunks of earth toss up into the air.

Talon releases more power into his body. The energy crackles around his body as he begins his attack. They meet fifty feet shy of the woods.

The resulting the clash sends shockwaves rippling through the air. The resulting tears apart the earth. The earth is torn apart. The scythe and the swords clash. They move back and forth across the clearing. In moments, the once lush meadow becomes little more than a torn field. The attacks are brutal with no holds.

Talon struggles to block the clawed arms, barbed claw, and armored feet. As quickly as he can, he lashes out with his blades singing.

A sudden blow sends Talon skipping across the ground.

He rolls back onto his feet ready for an attack.

However, the creature rolls to its side. From numerous wounds black liquid pours. The creature’s body compresses as it breathes its last.

With a groan, Talon picks his way through the mauled ground. He eases way into the cave opening. As his eyes adjust to the darkness, the cave slowly becomes brighter. To a human, it would seem as if the light of a full moon filled the cavern.

He walks deeper into the cave system.

A hideous smell fills his nostrils. Talon feels his stomach lurch at the horrid stench. As he rounds a corner, he feels something crunch underneath his foot. He glances down and realizes that it is a piece of bone. It glitters in the dark.

He bends down and he realizes that it is a Fae bone.

Talon continues, passing bones of animals and humans. Occasionally, he finds a Fae bone mixed in with the rest.

Talon hears soft noises coming from the end of the hall. He rolls his shoulders to relax his tense muscles. Carefully he peers around the corner. Sudden light hurts his eyes. For a moment, his eyes adjust to light. He sinks to his knees at the sight.

“No.” He whispers. “No, it can’t be.”

The Writer’s Tale

When a writer writes
He tells two tales
One he writes to entertain
One he writes for other’s sake

Yet a second tale he tells
Not by his hand does he say
But by the words he chooses
Does he tell this tale

Where one he writes by hand
And is for the masses to read
The other is read
By those who can see

For the second tale is written
As a window to the writer’s mind
To see the heart and soul of him
Who pens the words

Monday Stories: Blue Light Hall

In a town much like any other, an old building once stood alone.

Once brightly painted and full of life, it now lies abandoned and empty. Doors and windows are boarded. Crude words are painted on its sides while trash lies in its gutters and sunbaked parking lot. Faded letters proclaim the building to be the Blue Light Hall.  A trashed decorated chain fence blocks the lot.

Through the few windows, one can see a wide room broken by narrow pillars. Dust and left over trash clutter the floor. A short stage in the corner while an empty bar dominates the far side.

Most pass by without notice. Others wonder when they will tear it down. Only the old will recall the hall in its prime.

Children and college students will enter its dusty hall on a dare or out of boredom. They find nothing more interesting than a dead rat or an old broken bottle.

But turn to the homeless and the teens who wander late at night. Talk to the explorer or the lonely and they will tell you a different tale.

They will tell that late at night, the broken lights will shine once more. The smell of fresh popcorn will fill the air. Music can be heard once more, issuing from speakers long turned to dust. Yet the strangest thing that can be heard, is the laughter and sight of people. Cars will appear as if issuing from the fences blocking the road. People will pass through closed doors and

People will pass through closed doors and lean through boarded windows. They wear the dancing clothes of the roaring twenties.

They will tell you three things without fail. The sight and sound and smell will vanish at first morning light. Those who go to see if it is real or not will vanish within those walls.

And if you risk coming a little close, you can see amongst the crowd of dancers people who do not belong. Where the dancers wear bright, glimmering clothes, they wear clothes from another time. Where the dancers wear bright smiles and seem at peace, the strangers wear terrified looks.

When four teens disappeared one late night the townspeople grew afraid. The order was given and the building was torn down. A slab of cement now covers where the building and parking lot stood. The chain linked fence has been replaced by cinder blocks.

If you go back now during the day not much can be seen. Modern buildings line two of the sides while a parking garage stands on the other. Graffiti mars the sun bleach walls. The lot stands empty and unused.

But if you return at night, you will see the Blue Light Hall once again in all its glory. The sounds of laughter and the smell of popcorn wafting on the air. Yet four teens can be seen standing by the road as if they waiting.