Secret Santa Story

My prompt (my choice of which to use):

Ghosts and Witches, Possession, An Unexpected Gift/Package, A Haunted Place, or Something Involving an Ouija Board

 

THE STORY: 

 

The windows glittered with fine webs of frost, the ground outside was snug under its fluffy white blanket and most creatures great and small snug in their homes. Marlaena should have followed suit and snuggled under a warm blanket in front of the fireplace of her cabin. Instead, she was standing in the middle of the forest, a white candle in hand as she stared up at the gray sky. To the west and north evergreens filled her peripheral with green while the trees to the west extended crone like fingers to the sky. She had hoped to spend her day reading and cooking a stew. Instead, she had been summoned by the spirits to the middle of the forest.

“Can we go home yet? My feathers are nearly frozen.”

She shook snorted and shook her head at Damocles, the small white owl sitting on a log nearby. He was barely larger than a house cat but crankier than any auntie she had ever met. She focused on the elements around her, hoping to feel of the pull of something, anything.

“No one’s here, Marls. They aren’t foolish enough to come prancing around in the snow.”

Again, she ignored the bird and focused. Finally, when she was about to give up and admit Damocles might be right, she felt the slightest tickled at the edge of her mind.

“Shush, I feel something. They are here, probably spooked off by your whining.”

The owl huffed at that and turned his back to her, grumbling under his breath as he ruffled his feathers and hunkered down on the log again. She reached a hand out, beckoning to the presence she felt. Tendrils of the spirit tickled her fingertips before enveloping her hand and sliding slowly up her arm. A warmth settled against her chest and clung there. Setting her candle down carefully in the snow, she embraced the feeling and closed her eyes. Focusing inward, she took a deep breath.

“Now then, what do you want?”

She spoke out loud, but the presence knew her question before her words ever left her lips. It hesitated, shifting slightly against her. For her part, Marlaena held still and waited. Holding her hands against her chest, she willed it quietly to answer her.

Present. Give you. Speak again.

Marlaena frowned but nodded slowly. The presence left her, but she could feel its pull as she followed it through the woods, carefully dodging fallen trees and sunken soft spots. At last, they stopped and she looked up for the first time since they had started walking. She stared at the back of her house, the windows were shuttered and the yard bare. It was exactly as she had left it early that morning.

“I don’t understand, what are we doing here? If you wanted to talk at my home, why didn’t you just come to me.”

She wasn’t angry, not exactly at least. Exasperated was more like it as she sighed and tried to listen for the spirit once again. This time she didn’t feel it. Instead, she saw something glittering near her back door.

Stalking closer to her home, she saw that it was a package wrapped in brown paper and tied up in a wide, glittery, red ribbon. The bow was lopsided and the ends dragged in the mud near the door, but the rest of the package was clean and dry. Picking it up carefully, she brought it inside. Setting the package on the table, she gingerly unwrapped the paper and laid it to the side. What sat before her was a large wooden box, stained dark brown with scrolling and twisting designs carved into the wood. Animals were painted in dark gold along the top, their bodies formed through the braiding and curling of thick and thin lines.

“Whoo sent you that?”

She could only shake her head. She wished she knew. It was a gorgeous old box, nearly as large as her small table, though only a few inches tall. In the center was an old lock of what looked like dirty gold. There was no key, only the lock with a small keyhole taunting her. She picked up the paper again, shaking it and hoping a key would fall out. Nothing did. She huffed and frowned.

She tried picking at the lock, hoping it wasn’t actually locked. It was. Holding her hand over the lock, she whispered a small spell, but to no avail. She checked the ribbon, just in case. Still nothing. Finally, she flopped down in a chair and stared at the dark wood. Brushing a strand of hair from her eyes, her finger brushed a hairpin and she grinned. Quickly pulling it out, she slipped the thin metal into the keyhole and jiggled and wiggled it until the box unlocked. A soft moan seemed to come from it opened the lid. It split down the middle to reveal its contents. Inside was a dark purple cloth encasing a wooden board.

“A spirit board. I haven’t seen one of these since I was a kid. My aunt had one she let me try before my training.”

She fingered the board gingerly. The writing on the board was painted in dark red and covered in a shiny lacquer. The board itself was a golden wood, the grain fine and smooth.

“You… you don’t think this is from her, do you?”

Her aunt had passed nearly three years prior, but no one else she had ever known had used a spirit board. She picked up the small paddle that sat beside it, a triangular bit of wood with a lens set in its middle, the whole thing was roughly the size of her hand. It felt warm to the touch, its smooth edges felt at home in her hand.

“Auntie, are you there?”

Nothing happened at first, then slowly, she felt the paddle begin to hum under her touch. Letting it take her where it willed, it slid over the word yes in the upper corner. Then slowly it slid over several other letters. Telling her beyond a doubt her aunt was her mysterious presence and gifter.

“I have missed you so much, Auntie.”

She smiled as she felt the warm presence settle against her once again, this time hugging her and settling on her shoulders. She had been so lonely, but now it seemed she was once again home. She once again was with family.

 

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Back From Hiatus

I know it has been quite a while since I posted on here. I apologize for that. I recently completed my master’s program and unfortunately that took away quite a bit of time from my writing. The holiday season also stole away with some of my writing time. The results were a very minuscule amount of time left over for writing.

But, now that both of those thieves have passed, I once again have time to write. I was recently part of a Secret Santa on a Discord writing server and I will post up the story that came out of that.

New Year, New goals: 

It is my goal to complete at least 1 short story each month, more would, of course, be better, but I do not want to overcommit when I am not sure what the future holds for me.

I also want to work towards completing a novel again. It has been far too long since I published my last work Banshee Haunting. I currently have a couple of novels in progress so it’s not a matter of coming up with ideas but rather following through and completing those I already have in progress.

 

Goals – Do You Have Them? I DO!

I realized that it has been quite a while since I posted anything on here. I’m terribly sorry about that, life sometimes has a way of getting away from me.

So the latest challenge issued by the lovely Amanda is about goals. Goals for writing and for the blog, and dare I say even life.

I’m a strong believer in goals, they are what help keep us on track when life throws a few too many distractions at us or when it feels like we’re just spinning our wheels in a giant mud pit. They are also what helps us figure out where we’re headed and to see how far we have already come.

So, my goals….

1. Why do you have a blog? What do you want to accomplish with it?

Honestly, the purpose of this blog has changed slightly since I first started it. Initially, I started a blog in the hopes of promoting my writing and possibly boosting sales of my currently published works. As time has progressed though, it has become a platform for me to share short stories with others and a place to share my thoughts, and goals with the world.

2. Why do you write?

There are quite a few reasons for why I write.

The first answer is because I enjoy it, I enjoy creating new worlds and characters that I and others can relate to. I enjoy taking ideas from my head and putting them onto paper for others to enjoy as well.

I write as an outlet or an escape as well. I think this is a common answer for a lot of people who write, or really who do any form of art. It’s a way to explore the world, feelings, struggles, and even pain in a world that is safe. It’s safe because it’s a world that I as a writer create. I get to make up the worlds and decide how things play out in the end. Sometimes, though, even though I have complete control of my story, I still have to let things be painful and difficult for my characters and maybe even my readers and myself. It’s part of making it believable…something that touches a bit on reality too. As much as we want to avoid pain in life, sometimes it has to be there to help us appreciate or enjoy other parts of life just that much more.

So why do I write?

In a nutshell… because I need it, the stories are a part of who I am and through them, I have grown and learned and improved. Through them, I have had the joy of touching other lives and sharing the joy of a good story with countless others.

3. Where would you like to see yourself as a writer 5 years from now, 10 years from now…

I’ve never really planned on writing being my career or making me a millionaire. I know the likelihood of writing and selling the next bestseller are pretty slim, especially if you have things other than writing going on in your life.

So where does that leave me? Well here’s what I hope for….

I hope to have a few more stories published, whether through self-publishing, as part of an anthology or whatever. I hope that in 5 or 10 years I’m still able to create and share stories and characters that are interesting to others.

Given that I will be done with my Masters soon, I have another goal to add to this, since I will likely be writing non-fiction, history material, I hope that I can get at least a few of my papers published to journals, or maybe even a book published and available to the public.

Curious about the goals of the other writers doing these challenges? Check them out: 

Haven of Chaos

Writing Kennel

Flying Kitty Studio 

Blog Challenge #5: Truth and Death

This round of the Blog Challenge has arrived.

Amanda has challenged us to write a story using three little words. No, not those three little words…. These three little words:

Honesty. Hatred. Bed.

After some percolating and consideration, here is what my brain popped out, I hope you enjoy:

STORY TIME:

Honesty tasted like ashes on her tongue as she stared at the broken bed. Hatred swirled deep in her heart as she kicked at the remains of their love nest. It seemed like only that morning she had held her lover in her arms, kissing every wrinkle and freckle she could find. Instead, it was another lifetime, an eon ago.

“Til death do us part, right? Seems Death got jealous.”

She kicked another charred chunk of wood and twisted metal for good measure. Tendrils of smoke still curled up from the debris on the ground as a slight breeze teased and tugged at the ashes and half-burned papers strewn about.

“You tried to warn her. You did what you could.”

Fingertips pressed firmly against her shoulder, urging her to turn and walk away. She couldn’t though, not yet. There were no words left to say, but oh were there feelings to feel and pain to feel. She let herself feel all of it, think all of it, but all she heard was the silence and the rustling of what remained of their home. All she felt was the twisting pain eating her heart bit by painful bit.

“You had to tell her the truth. The truth is what sets us free.”

She clenched her teeth, willing herself to hold it all in. She already felt too much. She had already said too much. If this was being set free, she wished someone would cram her back into her cage and turn back the clocks.

“We must leave. Now. Before they return.”

She nodded numbly, this time letting those firm fingertips on her shoulder guide her away from the remnants of everything she had lost.

“They will not understand. Truth is not in their language. Only fear and pain.”

She could only shrug. If the language of the Others was pain and fear then maybe she would understand them at last. She felt enough pain to fill the entirety of the Galactic Void. Fear, that was harder. She did not feel it, she was beyond any tendrils of fear that may have once hoped to grab hold of her.

A soft whirring filled the air, the only warning the Others were approaching. Bracing herself for a fight, she nearly fell face forward when he pulled her after him through a crack in the wall.

“Fool, they will eat you like they did her. Honor her and live.”

She could only growl her frustration at him as she felt the walls around them shudder and groan at the approach of the Others. She knew Them, she had seen Them up close and personal. She felt no fear, only hatred. Her only desire was to rip their mandibled heads from their lanky, insectoid bodies. To rip their wings to shreds and dance on their twitching corpses. She could almost feel the viscous green gel that passed for blood of the Others dripping from her fingers.

“Get it together. We need to move.”

His whisper was harsh against her ears. He was right, she knew, still, she held her ground, one hand pressed against the wall beside the crack they had slipped through.

“There are too many for you to play hero.”

Grunting, she nodded and followed him out, promising to someday repay them for all they had given her. Pain for pain, loss for loss. Bodies for bodies. She would never forget.

“We will never forget. They will pay.”

She followed him between the rotting slats of their old home, replaying the last moments of her love before the incineration fuse had run out.

She had tried to warn her, had told her the truth about the Others. Had begged her to run while they still could. But nothing would move her love. Nothing. Not even when she had shown her love the truth. Not even telling her she was an Other.

She had removed the flesh suit and showed her spindly legs and faceted eyes, but still, her love begged her to stay. To let the lie stay.

The truth will set you free, but a lie would have let her live.

-end-

I hope you enjoyed. Feel free to leave me a note in the comments.

Want more to read? Check out these other authors:

Flying Kitty Studio (VERY NSFW) 

Writing Kennel 

Heather R. Stephens 

Prompt Night- Guardian

Came as a result of this prompt:
STORY TIME: 

“Just… just be careful, D. If you wake the guardian be respectful. Here, take this staff, it was my grandfather’s… they liked him.”

Her voice trailed off as he looked at her with a bemused look. Fidgeting with her talisman, a dark orange and white stone with coiled copper holding it that hung around her neck, she sighed.

“I know. You don’t have to say it, I know.”

He said nothing, only smiled down at her, staff in one hand and a small satchel of stones in the other.

“Lizza, I was selected for this. The elders wouldn’t have picked me if they didn’t think I could handle it.”

He shook his head, then kissed her forehead and walked toward the mouth of the river.

She trailed behind him, muttering to herself and wondering if they hadn’t selected him just to get rid of him. He was her betrothed, but he was also an idiot. Something she was fully aware of.

She stayed several steps behind him, not wanting to be caught up should something come at them. Moments after the thoughts passed her mind, the waters at their feet, began to swirl and bubble up.

“Who dares disturb the Guardians of this forest?”

Several large boulders near them rumbled and rolled closer to them, colliding and pressing together until a great being of boulders and water stood before them. Pale blue light carved intricate designs across its surface.

“We are of the Tra’an tribe. I have been sent to strike an accord with you.”

The being laughed, a deep rumbling sound that shook the ground beneath them. Reaching forward, it picked D up and dangled him in the air. The staff dropped from his hands as he swung around, yelping and babbling incoherently.

“They send this mewling whelp to strike an accord? I have eaten braver rodents for my snacks.”

With a grunt and disgusted huff, the Guardian flung D across the water and against a rock. His body slid down the rocks and into the water with barely a splash.

“Lizza, daughter of Aganon. It is good to see you again. You were so small when last you came. Why have you brought such a soft and dull-eyed fool?”

She bowed deeply to the Guardian, then picked up her grandfather’s staff where it had fallen near her feet.

“It was not I who picked him, but the elders. They did not feel a female was a suitable supplicant to your greatness. They are fools and blind to the ways of the forest. We must protect them from themselves Great One.”

Again she bowed and smiled quietly. Her grandfather had taught her the ways of the Guardians, he had raised her to take his place. The elders were fools if they thought she’d let this insult pass.

“They are indeed. The greatest among us is the Mother. She would see them reminded of that, I will make sure of it.”

She nodded, keeping her face smooth and emotionless.

“But for this accord, you and your line will always rest well in our embrace. The others… will prosper as well as they follow you. Let them hear these words and eat their own.”

For a being made of rock, his grin was all the more chilling. She bowed and thanked him before turning and returning the way they had come. She left D to his watery bed, if he lived he would learn. If he did not… that was the way of nature.

 

-END-