Category Archives: short stories

Megaladon [Flash Fiction]

Ocean swells over four meters tossed the timber long boat from left to right. The Watchmen, Hans, son of Vorge’s thick, furry hands gripped the figurehead as the sea crashed across the bow.

“Heave,” came the cry from the back of the ship. They had taken in sail and lowered the oars. The team of Nordemen rowed in perfect rhythm. “Heave.”

Lightning broke across the deepened blue clouds as rain begun to spray on the crew. “Heave.” Hans grit his teeth and held on tight, his fur cap flapped in the wind.

They had been sailing south for nearly eight days. Their target, the Southern Grasslands and the bounty of its arable lands. In the north they had no crops, and raising livestock was tough even in a long summer.

Hans knuckles whitened as he gripped the bow. Another wave crashed across the figurehead, sprayed his matted beard and stung his eyes.

“Brother,” Hans shouted back as a wooly man with a thick jaw responded from the side-mounted rudder at the stern with a nod. Hans continued, “Something roams these waters.”

“What do you see, Hans.”

“Top fin, near the size of our ship!”

The eyes of the crew shot wide as they continued to pull on the oars. As one man dropped his oar, Hans’ brother was on him. “Row you dog, the sea witch toys with us. There is no beast! Row!”

The crew grunted as they heaved, and the ship cut along the ridge of a towering swell. “Harpoon!” Hans cried as not more than twelve meters to his right, a beast the size of a house tore up out of the ocean. It broke through the surface and with what almost sounded like a wolf’s growl it flipped in the air then fell back into the deep.

His brother hurled Hans a two meter harpoon. He cut the rope that tethered it to the ship with his short sword, and locked the figurehead of the boat between his thighs.

Sweat mixed with sea water as the Hans raised the spear and beast revealed itself once more. What it looked for he did not know, but first the tip of its nose appeared, followed by a hollow black eye the size of a man’s fist. Thousands of teeth came forth from its gums as Hans stared straight down its pinkish throat.

He steeled himself. Kissed the rune of water that hung around his neck, his muscles tautened as he hurled the harpoon. It soared through the deepened sky and embedded itself in the animal’s gullet. The beast twisted fiercely. It would not die, but perhaps the wound was enough to scare it off. The creature descended into the abyss once more and Hans grit his teeth. Despite of the darkness he could still see the animals shadow beneath the surface of the water.

Hans called for another harpoon.

—-

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

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Old Magics [Flash Fiction]

flash fiction“Geoffrey, I have found another one,” Erys called from across the dig sight. The lean archaeologist stood up and ran her thumb across the stone. Round, and smooth, it sat in the palm of her hand, smooth imagery depicting a crescent, wrapped around a circle had been carved into its face. She had not seen one like this yet.

Geoffrey marched across the site, he hopped over a ditch and rounded a boulder at the centre. The crew of ten Mes Leonirian archaeologists had stopped work and slowly meandered toward the young woman who held the rune stone.

Erys handed it to the man and Geoffrey took out his looking glass. A steel disk, a little bigger than a man’s hand with a magnifying class set at its middle. “I have never seen this rune before,” he said.

The crowd murmured and nodded their heads. The dig sight, some sixty leagues north of Stena had been filled with these things. The sight of a High Elven tower during the immortal age, the budding historians had expected to find swords, gleaming armour and beautiful artwork. But, amidst the rocks, all they had found was more rocks.

“Put it with the others,” Erys said.

Geoffrey nodded as he wiped the rune stone on his cloak. His brow furrowed as he looked at it and turned away as the group went back to their work.

They had a pile of them, thirty, maybe more. The rune of fire, stone, water, wind, strength, sleep, longevity, life and even beer. They were dwarven relics, and their purpose seemed purely ornamental. “Maybe we can sell them,” Geoffrey called as he walked.

Erys laughed. “Perhaps, but they belong to the university now. They will probably release them once–” Erys trailed off and she dropped her pick onto the dusty ground.

The entire dig sight went silent as they looked to Geoffrey who stood over the pile of rune stones. All now glowed. Reds, greens, blues, purples, they lit up like a Summer’s End festival night.

“What is –” Geoffrey started but was cut off by a flash of light. Out of the pile it curved, like a fat, luminous serpent, then spread itself like frayed leather. The lights danced across the dusty ground, assailing the archaeologists. They turned to run, but as the light streaks hit them, they fell to the ground.

Silent as they grave they fell. Erys ran, her hips swayed and her arms pounded. Tears welled in her eyes. She did not want to die, were they dead? A read serpentine light streak coiled itself around her leg. She shrieked. It wrapped itself around her body before working its way into her screaming mouth. As it did, her vision faded to black.

—-

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

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Life bringer [Flash Fiction]

flash fiction

Mikel’s frail form heaved with each heavy cough. His mother, Lian, pressed a handkerchief to his mouth, but once she removed it, it was stained red. She grimaced beneath deep brown eyes and wiped sweat from her brow.

The boy’s fever had only gotten worse since he awoke in the middle of the night less than a week before. Wracked with pain, he cried out that creatures crawled under his skin. But he made no cries any more. Either he had grown accustomed to the pain of Red Crawl Fever or the parsites had burrowed deeper, and he would pass during the night.

Mikel’s mother folded the handkerchief and patted him on the head, when a knock finally came at the door. She had sent of the life-bringer, an eccentric healer. Considered a hack, and a con-man by many, but there was no know cure for the Crawl, and Lian would try anything.

She opened the door.

Because of a hunch, the life bringer stood shorter than five feet, his staff in one hand and leather satchel slung over his shoulder. His moustache bristled as he scratched his grey stubble and frowned at Mikel who lay with his eyes shut on the bed.

“How long –” Lian started.

“Leave us,” The life bringer said.

Every motherly instinct in the broad woman told her not to, but leave she did.

—-

No noise came from within the locked room. No talk, no scratching and no coughs. It felt like years before the life bringer finally emerged.

His staff dragged along the floor as he stepped from the room. His bones creaked and his moustached bristled as he shook his head. “I have done all I can.”

“What – What have you done? Will he live.”

The man scratched his stubble. “He may. If he survives the night, then he will live. Do not touch him, though you make speak with him. He should have strength enough for that.”

Lian fought back tears, but thanked the life bringer. She stepped into the room to see Mika, still in bed but breathing easily. She stepped to his side and looked down at his closed eyes, around his neck hung a stone amulet with rune of life emblazoned on it. It glowed dimly in the candlight, a light green light illuminating the child’s palid face.

“Duos, help me,” Lian said softly, then sat on the small timber stool next to the bed.

——-

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

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Into the Firelands Prequal – The Underland [Flash Fiction]

melisande wayfarerThe Underland

Crackling of distant fires echoed across the plane. Melisande Flamestouch pulled her cloak tight as she ran, but the distant figure followed.

Her breaths came in heavy pants and her boots kicked up grey pebbles that danced along stone ground. A sky streaked with red, and orange, and grey loomed over head. Slow turning maelstrom’s curled in the distance, perched above jagged mountains.

Still she ran.

What she ran from, she did not know, but it had pursued her for days. A figure, perhaps a shadow. Black as night. It would get close enough that she could smell it. Brimstone, ash, fire. The beast was fire, black fire, or was it ash? Whenever it drew close, she would pull away, and so the pursuit would continue.

It continued for days, maybe weeks. She could not tell.

The ground rumbled, and pebbles were tossed. Not round pebbles presently, now jagged obsidian stones. As a black as a moonless night.

There came a distant screech. Like a thousand birds spooked by a hundred horses. It was no noise Flamestouch had ever heard before. No noise she had heard during the pursuit, but it was the noise of the beast. She knew that much.

She could feel its breath on her neck. Hot. Like her mother’s stove. It stank of brimstone.

“Flammmestouch,” it howled like the wind, perhaps. No, not like the wind, like the wind had been stabbed by a serrated blade.

Melisande spun around and her eyes went wide. She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out. The beast’s eyes glowed red, before purple, then burst into flame. It’s teeth gnashed like pieces of flint, its hair dripped like sticky magma.

“Go to the Firelands, Flamestouch. Unos Wills it–”

“Melisande – Melisande!”

“What!?” Flamestouch screamed as she awoke to Lorena’s green eyes staring down at her in the dim candlelight of their bedroom.

“You were dreaming… You were yelling. Was it…”

Melisande shook her head. She often dreamt of her torture at the hands of the Light’s Voice, but not this night. “No, Lorena.” She paused and rubbed the brand on forehead. The scar shaped like the rune of fire itched and burnt. “We must travel north, to the Firelands,” she finished.

“Why?” Lorena said.

“I do not know.”

——-

Thanks a lot for reading,

Cortez

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Between Somewhere and Nowhere [short story, pt.3 of 3]

rune

The thrilling conclusion to the winner of writingforums.org weekly short story contest, and the story from which this blog took its name. Enjoy!

Taco was assailed by visions. Falling to his knees, he saw the Liriads extending their hand for friendship after a Federation craft landed on their home-world. Then fire. In a moment, he experienced the two hundred year conflict between his own kind and the Liriads. Liriad children, cut down by machine gun fire, women raped, men enslaved and driven by laser whips into gas mines. Liriads racked by diseases introduced for the soul purpose of annihilation. Gun ships tearing across Olier, their home world, a blue world, with soaring cliffs and crashing oceans. A beautiful world. A beautiful world on fire. Flesh sizzling over the faces of men, women and children. Children screaming. Children crying, their parents lost. Interplanetary missile strikes incinerating cities, annihilating villages and burning… So much burning. He felt hot, like he were there. Amongst the flames. The collective sorrow of a race enslaved was not imparted, but felt. Felt like it were Taco’s own.

Taco cried. Heavy, streaming tears, he clawed at his helmet. He needed to wipe his face. If he wiped his face the tears would stop. That didn’t make sense. He curled up on the ground, clasping his head. Screaming, he begged for the creature to stop. 

His spine tingled as the visions faded. They stopped and he was filled with longing. Like a toy, taken from a child, he wanted them back. Why did he want them back? 

Eyes twitching, he looked up. Sweat covered his stubbly face and the involuntary tears had ceased. Wracking mental pain persisted. Taco no longer felt human. Or perhaps he felt more human than ever. The Liriad looked at him from the air lock’s interior door. Her ethereal eyes simmering in the distance. As he’d experienced the suffering of a race, she had casually strode past him.

‘Thank you,’ said the echo. Not his mothers voice, nobody’s voice, he simply knew that was what she said. Like the notion of thanks. The very idea of it had been conveyed.

Taco shivered as he watched her step into the chamber, locking the door. A momentary flicker of the lights told him that when he opened the airlock, it would be empty.

Six months later…

Taco dusted the remnants of freeze dried Chilli Con Carne from the glowing dash of the Battle Hammer II. The glossy display glowed as he lit a cigarette and the photo of a woman with potent green eyes and dyed green hair appeared with blip. He tapped the photo, accepting the call. 

‘Yo, Taco my man, how’s the new girl working out? Over.’ April’s sultry voice slid through the speakers, clean and smooth.

‘Stella, a real treat. Over.’

‘Well it was about time. Anyway, mate, heel it. Nowhere’s gone. Feds are evacuating. Over.’

Taco narrowed his eyes, scratching at his matted hair. ‘I haven’t heard anything about it – ‘With a blip the image of a letter, with an exclamation point at its centre appeared on the dash. ‘ – Scratch that, just got it now. Hold? Over.’

‘Affirmative. Over,’ April said.

Taco tapped the letter, the the screen filled with text:

E.F.D.F. [Earth Federation Defence Force] Order, to the attention of: All

All craft ordered to exit Sector H123453443D6. Status amendment 3245: No Fly.

[VIEW REPORT]

Taco wasn’t one for military reports, they didn’t make a lot of sense to him. But he clicked it anyway… And it made perfect sense.

Sector H123453443D6 Status: Code Red.
System S88743 Status: Code Red.
System S88745 Status: Code Red.
System S88746 Status: Code Red.
System S88747 Status: Code Orange.
System S88748 Status: Code Red.
EFDF Fleet CODE X1123 – 125th Marines: M.I.A.
EFDF Fleet CODE X3398 – 1023rd Marines: M.I.A.
EFDF Fleet CODE Q4432 – Archer Class: Stricken
EFDF Fleet CODE Z3245 – 1922nd Airborne: M.I.A.
EFDF Fleet CODE Q9983 – Excalibur Class: Stricken
EFDF Fleet CODE Q8402 – Excalibur Class: Stricken

It went on, and on and on. Hundreds of ships destroyed and countless divisions missing. Something horrific had happened in Nowhere. 

Lighting a second from the tip of the first, Taco dragged on the fresh cigarette. A thick plume of smoke whispered through the cabin. ‘Well fuck it,’ Taco said indifferently.

After a short moment of silence April’s voice came through: ‘What? Over.’ 

Taco chuckled, remembering he did not have to hit a switch to communicate on his new craft. ‘Nothing, April, I got it. Turning back now. Over.’

‘Convoy? Over.’

‘Affirmative. Over.’

As the Battle Hammer II swung in space like a tossed stick, Taco popped the lid to yesterday’s bottle of Mic Mannigan’s Wiltin’ Whiskey. Taking a swig, he looked out into the star studded void and wondered what, if anything, he had to do with plight that had befallen his race’s expansion.

Taco smiled as the cabin shook, the thrusters propelling him back towards Somewhere.

Between Somewhere and Nowhere [Short story, pt.2 of 3]

rune

Winner of writingforums.org short story of the week contest, and the story that this blog took its name, enjoy.

The light faded as April’s photo disappeared from the screen and she drifted out of range. Taco rubbed his face, digging in his nose momentarily, he flicked the crusty wad on the floor before reaching under the dash. He tugged at a drawer, but the metal stuck, he shook it violently before it finally ground free. Going Back of House, as they say, required a little more courage than Taco had on his own. 

He cracked open the snap-lock bag before pouring the white crystals onto the flat drink rest, on the rightside of the dashboard. Chopping at it with his ID card, he leant in.

The crystals slid up the steel straw. ‘Ohhhhh, yeeeah,’ he said as a half sigh. Taco stretched out and his back crackled as he stood up. Pressing his palm against his cheek, he snorted hard again. His throat tight he licked his lips and turned the tunes back up, to full volume. He could barely hear himself think. Perfect. 

The double kicks pounding, the base heaving. He swung the locker open, revealing the only piece of modern tech found on the Battlehammer, his Vapourgrind Spacesuit. 

Barely able to keep the grin from his face, there was something about heading through the airlock and into space that still got his motor running… Or perhaps it was because it was always preceded by a thick rail of Ermaine. A somewhat hallucinogenic drug that made a person feel like they could break mountains and walk through walls… He wouldn’t be sleeping for a couple of days. 

The Vapourgrind started as a baggy red jump suit with a bauble helmet. he zipped it up. Folding the front flaps down and hooking them in. A flick of his wrist engaged the locks, sealing him in. Then the magic happened. He pumped the button on the wrist and the suit began to shrink. After ten pumps, the suit was pulled taught across his muscular body. 

The red jumpsuit hugging his form, he scratched at his head before remembering the helmet. Entering the airlock he engaged the Mag Tether, the device that would keep him from flying off into space. Shouldering the Battle Hammer’s laser rifle, he pulled the lever. Though his suit shielded him from the brunt of it, he winced under the force of the pressure change.

If his ship hadn’t told him otherwise, he’d be inclined to believe he stood stationary. Reds and blues shimmered on the distant horizon, stars twinkled amid dust clouds as he stomped, his boots clinging to the hull. Mind swimming from the drug, he walked along the causeway skirting the first cargo hold. Ten meters high, the monstrous rectangular prism had no intention handholds. Bolted together by rivets as big as his fist, the carriages were hardier than the craft that pulled them.

Taco scanned his ID badge over the lock and the door to the carriage opened sideways. The container’s lights flickered into life as the airlock sealed behind him… Normally a carriage this size would be laden. The walls lined with crates and boxes, with a thin causeway along the centre. But this one, curiously, was empty save for a white box at its centre. A single clamp holding it in place.

Taco narrowed his eyes and, again, scratched at his head only to meet the glass dome. He unslung the rifle and progressed forward. He shook his head violently as his sight began to tunnel. The Eramine playing with his brain, drowning his focus and honing in on the peculiar crate. A perfect cube, it had no lock, and seemingly no opening.

‘This is fucked,’ he whispered to himself before rolling his eyes. It wasn’t a stow-away, and that was good enough for him… Or was it?… Something stopped him. Curiosity? Perhaps. The drug pumping through his system? More likely. 

Taco traced his palm along the box but swallowed thickly as the cube began to glow. It’s matte white exterior turning luminous before his eyes. He thought to turn. Turn to run. But he did not. Taking two steps back he watched as the cube unfolded like a blooming flower. He raised the rifle as the form of a girl, no older than ten, emerged. Her pallid body was locked in place by steel arms, her head wired with more than one hundred thin cables coiling out of rubber pads. 

‘Oh, shit!’ Taco snapped unconsciously. Filled with hurt and worry he began frantically tearing at the claws, and pulling off the cables. He placed a hand on her chest. The girl was breathing, her cotton wrapped chest only just moving. He cradled her head, staring at her closed eyes. Through his glass dome he had a realisation… A horrible realisation… The carriage was pressure controlled, yes. But there was no oxygen. How could she?…

Taco’s eyes shot wide, as the girl’s opened slowly. Hollow, glowing blue eyes.

‘Liriad!’ Taco shrieked. He dropped the girl. ‘Fuck, fuck, fuck.’ 

The man got to his feet as fast as possible as understanding hit him like a Fed Sweep and Destroy. The Battle Hammer’s I.R.L.F.D. Wouldn’t detect a Liriad. His mind reeled back, back to the orbital warehouse, the grizzled quartermaster: ‘Six million dollar job, Taco. God knows why they want this piece of shit. But they were specific.’

Who was specific? Who the fuck was specific? Why don’t I ask questions… fuck, Taco thought as he turned to run.

The Liriad began to move, it’s face vacant, emotionless. Her race was the human kind’s latest conquest. Taco knew the stories, but that was it. He’d never seen one. The race, physically, appeared to be human, save for their curious eyes, but they possessed telekinetic and psychic powers, far surpassing any of the human Chosen. They were the something, the Federation had found in Nowhere.

‘Why flee?’ A voice stung Taco’s brain. Like it were all around him, it echoed. Almost his own voice at first but broke into a woman’s, an old woman, his mother. It sang again and again, stinging his drug addled mind. As his mag boots hammered the steel ground, he turned from his flight, meeting the creature’s eyes.