The Fourth Horsemen Vol. 3

“Is anyone out there?”, He called past the white film in front of him, half expecting gunfire to be the only response from the outside world, “I need some help!”

No response, only a silent world called.

He called out again, louder this time, “hello? I need someone to help me!”

Only the wind responded as it brushed against the white film covering the house.

It was time, he thought to himself, time to leave this place. He pulled back the film, revealing the world behind it. Everything was so beautiful, it seemed like everything was so filled with life, the grass long and green, every tree emblazoned was with leaves, birds sang from their branches, the world of nature was at peace and at its most beautiful. There was no one, not a soul for blocks around. He expected to see government agents patrolling the streets, looking for people who may have broken the quarantine, looking for people to shoot, but there was nobody, there wasn’t even evidence that any one had ever even been there.

Maybe they expanded the quarantine zone to the city limits in order to better control the plague, he rationalized to himself, perhaps the virus got out of hand and the agents needed to flee to avoid getting sick themselves. Whatever may have been the case, one was still certain, a certainty that he was still unsure how he felt about; he was still alone.

He walked down the street, enjoying the fresh air as it blew past him. Being stuck inside that house for almost a month put a great burden on his heart that the cool breeze of the earth was quickly relieving. It was a clear day in June, a slight wind was in the air but despite that the day very warm. He walked through the neighborhood, he observed the houses as he walked by. Some houses had the quarantine film covering them, others didn’t. Those who didn’t, David assumed were vacant, which gave him hope that the covered houses may still have people inside.

David stared at the quarantined houses in mysterious wonder, if he had survived the Quarantine, then surely others had survived as well he thought to himself. He knew he had to start looking for other survivors, but deep down, he admitted to himself he really didn’t want to find anybody. The people (or rather person) he loved most were gone and never coming back, that was an absolute. He didn’t want to find anybody else, he didn’t need a friend to be okay he told himself over and over, no stranger could ever fill the void in his heart that she no longer could fill.

This is part 3 of The Fourth Horsemen series that I’m writing.

Part 2: https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/48105977/posts/1546004598

Part 1: https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/111064575/posts/81

I also have a patreon where you can help support my writing, I would greatly appreciate that

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/MichaelBKubly

Thank you for reading!

The Fourth Horsemen Vol. 2

For the past four days, he hadn’t heard even the slightest of noises come from the outside world. It felt as though civilization itself had disappeared overnight and David was there, left behind, trapped in the house he had come to hate.

He hated that house, the house where bad memories grew like a mold. He wanted nothing more than to leave, but he didn’t know if he could or really should. The rules were simple: do not leave the house, violators of this rule will be shot. But David admitted to himself that this punishment didn’t bring him much fear. if he to stay another day in that house, he would gladly shoot himself.

After briefly thinking through his predicament, he decided what he was going to do: he was going to wait till 3pm, the time they usually came, if they don’t come, he was going to poke his head out his front door and yell for help, if no help comes and he doesn’t hear anything, he was going to leave the quarantine zone.

He impatiently waited till the right, which to him felt like an eternity. It wasn’t until 2:45 that he began to get to get nervous, the minutes counted away, and David’s heart began to beat. Were they going to come? He asked himself.

2:59 finally hit the clock. His heart was racing now.

3:00 came. But it was followed by silence.

A small disappointment covered in joy wrapped his heart. Joy because the silence could mean that he could leave the dwelling he hated, the silence hinted that the quarantine was abandoned and the rules it dictated no longer applied. But the disappointed that followed was inspired by the fact that the silence also meant he had to face his fear of leaving the quarantine zone, for all he knew the agents could have very well been outside the whole time, if this were the case then him leaving the quarantine zone could result in his death. All these things he knew all too well, but he didn’t care, he needed to take a risk.

He walked to the door, working against the gravity of fear that tried to drag him away into somewhere, anywhere that was safer. But he persisted, and opened the door.

 

The is Part 2 of the Fourth Horsemen series. If would like to read part 1 the link is right here: https://terranovadotme.wordpress.com/2017/06/03/the-fourth-horsemen/

I also have a patreon where you can help support my writing, I would greatly appreciate that

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/MichaelBKubly

Thank you for reading!

Ash V. 3

He looked down into the valley towards the ruins of Seneca Falls, a small mountain town he felt confident that he had visited once before. Even at the distance he was at the extent of the destruction that laid waste to the town was clearly seen. Every building looked like an old cardboard box, each with it’s walls either fallen or eroded away. The streets were littered with mud, rubble, and ash. He walked down into the valley, praying the town still bore resources to exploit.

As he continued, he thought he could sense something in the silence. Yet, he quickly dismissed it as a mere hallucination induced by loneliness. Soon the noise was louder, it was like a high pitched chirp and Marcus soon realized the noise was no hallucination. He stopped where he was and listened. The chirping grew louder and soon he could hear it near him. He bolted around in fear as to what it might be, but as soon as he found the noises’ source his fear melted away into amazement.

Sitting on a burnt out tree stump sat a little white bird. It sat perched gently on the blackened wood, innocently singing its song. Marcus inched forward as silently as possible full of curiosity. Why would a bird be hanging around here? He thought leaning in to get a closer look. It had been years since Marcus had heard a bird. The small critter turned its head still singing and Marcus glimpsed its sad brown eyes.

Then it dawned on him, the gentle bird’s song echoed in Marcus’ heart as a desperate plea of hope and longing. With every note sung the cry could be felt for at least one of its brothers to hear him and come to cure the bird of its loneliness. Marcus marveled at the creature, it had been so long since he had seen an animal of any kind. He was beginning to believe they had all left the world. As quickly as it came, it left, flying into the distance.

 

This is apart of a series, if you’d like to read the previous posts there are links below:

Beginning         |            Previous            |            Next

A special thank you to Alan K. Jackson who worked as my scribe in this short story.
Check out his New YouTube channel: A.K.Jackson Channel

Featured Image: http://interactioninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Seneca-Falls-.jpg

Proxima

His eyes darted back and forth like lightning bolts as he struggled to understand what was happening around him. The room flashed red in intervals as an alarm rang throughout his bedroom. It felt like the ground was dropping from underneath him, his stomach leapt,and his body utterly weightless. He seized his ear bud, shoving it into his left ear. Through his ear bud’s microphone he tried to make contact. His panicked and quickened voice was almost inaudible.

“Vox! Vox! What’s happening?!”

No response came as a loud crash thundered throughout the steel city and the lights went down.

The previous days hadn’t been as shocking. Steel walls creaked as the city began to wake. Richard lay in his bed thinking of what he was going to do today. Since leaving earth he’d come to find that his daydreams of adventures on a new world were just that, dreams. The only reason he was there was because his uncle (who was a very prominent scientist with quite a lot of power in the new colony) had given Richard the ability to come to the colony. When his uncle first told Richard’s family that he wanted his nephew to visit the new world they were ecstatic.

“This will be such a great opportunity for you, Rich” they had all been saying before he left. It was a truthful lie, yes he was able to go to a new world(that alone had its merits) and yes he was in the presence of some of the greatest scientists humanity had to offer, but all he did to pass his time was try to find things that brought him entertainment. After weeks of his stay had passed, entertainment was increasingly hard to find. He would often wander the many halls of the metal city, which he still hadn’t completely mapped out, and continued to look for things to do.

The city itself was a massive metal structure perched on a platform that floated a mile and a half above the surface of the “habitable zone” on the planet Proxima B of the Alpha Centauri System. Proxima B currently has no surface colonies due to the harmful radiation that blankets the planet’s surface. The floating platform was just high enough to be outside the radiation zone. Even with the cities’ location, nobody was allowed outside without the proper suit to protect them from the elements. Things like the cold weather that almost always was around 40 degrees below zero or the radiation dust that had the rare potential of making its way onto the platform. The buildings that made up the city were composed of a reinforced steel that protected the inside world from the outside one. The problem with this design was that the whole city had no windows, causing it to feel much more like living in a giant submarine than a city.

Richard arose from his bed to greet the day that awaited him on the strange new world. “Perhaps I’ll go to the observation deck and read,” he thought to himself. He really enjoyed going to the observation deck. It was one of the places in the entire city that actually had a window, and a large one at that. It was a large recreation room with several benches that faced the windows to look out, revealing a beautiful view of the landscape of Proxima B. Rich always enjoyed going there, there was something about the scenery of the alien world that brought the 17 year old a sense of peace, despite being so far from home.

He changed from his pajamas into his standard clothes that were provided by Xcorp (the main financial backer of the colony). It was a boring gray jumpsuit that branded the company’s logo on over his left pectoral. The material of the jumper was subject to debate as the outside of it was a stretchy plastic feeling material that Richard couldn’t place, but the inside liner was some form of soft polyester. Rich always hated wearing the jumper but  didn’t have anything else to wear so he couldn’t argue.

After getting dressed, Rich put in his A.I. Bud (or A.I.B. for short) in his ear. The A.I.s name was Vox and it helped Rich with anything he needed whether it be connecting with someone he needed to talk to, opening the many sliding doors of the city, organizing his agenda, and reminding him about things that needed to get done.

“Hello, Mr. Daniel, how are you doing this morning?” Vox asked as Rich put the ear bud in.

“I’m good, Vox, anything I should know about today?” Rich replied.

“I’m sorry, sir, nothing new for today, did you want me to schedule something in particular for today’s agenda?”

“No, Vox, but could you please brew me a cup of coffee?”
“Yes, sir” and at that moment a cup dropped from the coffee machine in the corner of his room. Hot coffee began to pour into the cup filling it close to the brim.

“Thank you, Vox,” Rich said as he grabbed the cup and took a small sip to test the temperature before drinking fully. He took another sip and let out a sigh of approval. After finishing the cup, he grabbed his tablet and headed out the door.

He walked out of the Residential block 14-C (the place where his room was located) into the main halls of the city. As he was walking down he couldn’t help but notice a confrontation beginning in the hallway in front of him. He saw a man in a lab coat get stopped by two Sentinels. Rich was too far to be able to hear what they were saying but it was obvious that a crime had been committed. The man in the lab coat seemed greatly distressed and the two Sentinels both had their hands on their holstered pistols, ready to fire at a moment’s notice.

Just then, the man in the lab coat pushed one of the Sentinels aside and tried to run away but was quickly grabbed by the other Sentinel who threw the man to the ground and in the same moment the man was put in handcuffs. Both men proceeded to bring the man down the hallway (most likely bringing them to their station where he would be processed for whatever crime he had committed). As they passed by Rich, one of the Sentinels announced in a robotic yet commanding voice, “Stand aside citizen” and they disappeared around the corner down a separate hallway.

Curious about what he’d just seen, Rich quickly turned his attention to Vox, “Vox, what was that all about?”

“I’m not certain, sir, no report has been made public by the Sentinels yet, but I will let you know when a report has been made.”

Rich, content with what little information he was given, continued on to his planned destination.

“If you don’t mind, sir,” Vox began, “where are we headed today?”

“I’m heading to the observatory to read.” Rich replied. A response that prompted Vox to reply with a,“Very good, sir.”

After about a mile of walking through the intricate hallway system of the steel city, he finally arrived at the observatory room. A rather large room with the sole purpose to be more of a lounge than an area of observation. It got its name because of the large window against the wall that allowed viewers to see the landscape of Proxima B for miles. Rich loved going there, it was a very relaxing spot where he often found peace in gazing at alien world down below. He always wanted to go down to the surface but was never allowed to. Only miners and scientists had clearance to go down to the surface. Rich was a civilian and could do nothing.

He arrived at the room and reclined on the couch that faced the main window. He looked out into the landscape. The surface was a wasteland, filled with many cracks and crevasses, the ground was a deep brown that looked cold and inhospitable like that of Mars the planet (or at least the area he was in reminded him of Mars with its rocky and desolate look to it). The only difference was that instead of being red, the surface was a dark cold brown. Despite this, the scenery was beautiful to Rich, but what made the whole scene was the Eternal sunset of Proxima B that filled the whole land with a rusty orange. He stretched back on his favorite chair, perfectly positioning himself in front of the window, and began to read.

To Be Continued…

A special thank you to Alan K. Jackson who worked as my scribe in this short story.
Check out his New YouTube channel: A.K.Jackson Channel

Featured Image: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/files/2016/08/proxima-b-surface-1024×665.jpg

The Fourth Horsemen

Sunlight peaked through the window, a small pillar of light crept onto the bed, illuminating David’s face just enough to rouse him from a light sleep. His nights rest was always short these days. Sleep was now an exhausting task to him, not a pleasurable one. David hated sleeping now, at least during the day he could do things to keep his mind off the pain he harbored inside, but at night, while he lay in that dreaded bed, he had to face the demons that would dance like fire in his head. His brain and heart burning with each thought as the demons would ceaselessly sow bad memories inside that would bring him so low he that he would believe that he was never going see the light of day again. Never remember what it was like to be happy.

He would lay there and torture himself as painful thoughts crept into his brain like a maggot on a fresh corpse, all he could do was pray for rest, which would thankfully come thanks to the sleep medicine he would abuse before going to bed.

The young man laid in bed, in a sleep induced stupor, but he could feel, and what he felt was happiness. In that brief stupor, he discovered that oblivion brings joy, but alas, after a few seconds the oblivion faded and memories flooded his brain like water splashing out of a broken dam. He remembered who he was and the pain he was now very familiar with. It gripped his heart painfully, an emotional pain that was so intense that as far as he was concerned it was physical. He recounted everything in his head, but made an effort to leave out the painful details. His thoughts began to flow:

It has been 17 days since the quarantine, 14 days since my friends left, 13 days since she got since she first started feeling ill, 9 days since I lost her, 8 days since they took her from me, 4 days since the last came. Why haven’t they come back since? Where are they? 

He walked up to window, and tried to look through the window, not to look out though, the whole house was covered in a plastic film that was designed to keep any bacteria inside the home. The film obscured everything outside so visibility was out of the question, but he could still hear the world around him and that’s what he planned to do. He opened the window and tried to listen for any sounds of life. He didn’t expect to hear much, every since the government declared martial law the town had become very quiet, as though it were a ghost town, but the government was always at work and David could always here their vehicles in the distance.

He listened for about half an hour.

Nothing, he heard nothing.

Is there anyone even out there?

Update

Beginning this month I’m going to be much more consistent with publishing more short stories in a more organized fashion. I will posting a new story every month and be posting on the 15th of every month. Like always I appreciate your support. Thank you.

Book Update: Chapter 1 rough draft

Chapter 1

He stretched out his pale shackled arms towards the dying fire, trying to keep himself as warm as possible as the cold of winter froze his weary skin. He was emaciated and covered in dust and grim. Around him several other slaves groped towards the fire for warmth, the first slave was a little bit taller than his companions. The camp around him began to stir as the morning slave drivers awoke and left their shacks. They approached every slave and made sure they were awake with the assistance of whips and violent yelling. The camp was a slave camp. It sat at the edge of a steep mountain that had a network of mines that the slaves had been working for almost a decade. They were the personal field slaves of the liege Lord Grenweld the Kind-hearted, Ruler of the Kathara Isles. They worked the fields outside his castle during the summer and they worked the mines in the winter.

The camp itself wasn’t that large. It had six large shacks that served as the slave drivers quarters. Throughout the camp there were metal poles that stuck out of the frozen ground, attached to each of poles were chains that held a group of slaves together like a pack of leashed hounds. Around each pole was a fire pit that was routinely filled with bundles of firewood throughout the night to keep the slaves warm enough to survive.

The land was still dark as the taller slave was wrangled with all the other slaves to go work the mines. They were escorted by the slave drivers, who were on horseback, each armed with a bow in case a slave tried to run, but no one ever dared try. They lead them alongside the snowcapped mountain on a narrow trail. The land was still dark, but the tall slave could see the dawn cracking over the horizon

Finally, they arrived at the entrance of mine, which was about half way up the mountain. Each slave was then unshackled and given a tool. They began chipping away at the cold mountain stone. All day long they did this, but at the day’s end were brought down to camp to eat and sleep but then were brought back up in the morning. Every day they did this until the frozen streams of the Katharan range melted and the camp was flooded with river water.

The tall slave was weary, his hair was long and matted, filled with dust. His hands were blistered and broken, his back was covered with scars from whipping.  He looked completely unrecognizable to how he once looked. He was a broken spirit, and he longed for freedom.

Months went by, and the streams began to flow down the mountain, flooding the slave camp down below. The slavers began to pack up, the slave’s services in the mountains were no longer necessary, they were needed now to work the King’s fields outside his castle.

The camp was flooded with icy water, flooding in the outskirts of the Fiecheon, or Great Range was normal during spring time, water gushed from the melting mountains, filling the valleys with mud and ice cold water.

Because the camp was now filled with a foot of water and the slaves could no longer sleep on the ground without the imminent threat of freezing to death, the slaves were locked into a small shack until the slavers were ready to leave for the Kings estate. The shack was small and cramped. Its original inhabitants had left a week earlier to clear a path back to the Castle. The winter months and waters of spring always overtook the path to the castle that was made the previous year. Because of this, a new path had to be made every year.

The tall slave stood on the porch of the shack. It was a Monday morning, and it had been eight days since the path-finders had left, they would be back anytime now. Since they left, the slaves only duty was packing up the camp, which they made quick work of. So, with no work to be done, the remainder of their time was spent resting. This was one of the very few times the slaves were able to rest, and they greatly relished it.

Eventually, the path-finders return, and it was time for the camp to depart. The tall slaves stepped from the porch into the water, the cold biting his feet. He joined the other slaves as they grabbed everything from camp, all the supplies, firewood, and resources they had dug from the mine and marched up the path away from the camp. The path was dry but often zig-zagged to avoid water logged areas.

The march was a little more than a day’s journey in total. They reached the castle at the break of dawn. The castle was magnificent; it was called Castle Parnassus and it was surrounded with a tall stone wall.

The slaves were marched around the castles wall to the south entrance, during the journey, the tall slaves observed the great castle, hoping to gaze upon the castle. most of the castle was out of the sight because of the walls, but the slave could still see the roof of the immaculate great hall of the king, which resembled a cathedral in the nature, with great flying buttresses and stained glass windows depicting kings of old and their deeds. They were brought into the dungeon that sat underneath the Staff living quarters. It was a musty underground room filled tightly with cells in which to house the slaves. They were told by the slavers to rest for a few hours after their journey, but were quickly put back to work.

Each was given a tool and was put to work in the large fields, they tilled the land and planted the crops. Each day from dawn to dusk they would work on whatever needed to be done on the estate, whether it be working on the fields, picking fresh apples from the orchards, cleaning the stables, repairing weathered parts of the castle, or even washing the dishes. The steward would often put slaves to work in the kitchens to help alleviate the stress of the kitchen chefs and servants who were notoriously understaffed and always worked questionable as hard the slaves did.

The steward was a portly old man by the name of Titus. He claimed to be descended from House Coiron, who had governed the lands of Morwatch in days’ past. Many questioned the legitimacy of his birth, but few could disprove it. The House was broken up after the Battle of the Clemtence Canal, all family records were lost concerning the old House. If one claimed he hailed from Coiron, no man could prove nor disprove the others claim. Even still, the king chose to believe his claim and Titus Coiron served him for more than two decades as his steward and royal advisor.

The steward was often cheery and friendly around the king, always willing to help and never wishing to be burden to anyone around him. Outside the king’s earshot, he was quite the opposite. he was a cruel and inhospitable man who’s only chief concern was himself. Most all of the castle suffered under him, but the slaves received the worst treatment from him. Beating were very common, some would even be beaten to death depending on the circumstances, but mercy was a rare thing to receive from Steward Titus Coiron.

The role of dish washer was often sought after by the taller slave, not only because it was a relaxing task but also so he could share the same room as a maid whom he found very fair. She was a slender, beautiful lady with a thin innocent looking face and pale skin. Her hair was the lightest of browns and was often tied up. Her eyes were a deep blue close to that of lapis lazuli. He greatly loved her, and would often daydream of them together in a life that could never be.

There was a particular day when the king was off on a journey and the Titus oversaw the castle. the taller slave was ordered to work in the kitchen to help them prepare for a party that in the great hall. The first that needed to be done was the dirty dishes had to be cleaned, he did this efficiently and picked up the many dishes to transport them to the kitchen closet. But, while walking to the closet, but he was then surprised! Out of the corner came the maid whom he loved, and then loves’ anxiety griped his heart and he tripped on the moist floors of kitchen, the dishes breaking. The slave arose instantly in horror, he and the maid tried to salvage anything they could of the broken dishes, but it was no use. Then to an even horror the steward came into the kitchen after hearing the crash, he observed what had happened and then with a great fury, grabbed the slaves by the hair and dragged him outside into a courtyard. He threw his to the ground, out of his pocket he pulled a whip.

He then addressed the workers who were in the courtyard at the time, “Behold! This slave you see here is guilty of breaking our Sovereign lord’s dishware and his punishment shall be a warning to any who is careless with their duties”.

Titus then began to violently beat at the slave. Each blow stung with excruciating and his back began to bled, covering the grass below him with spots of blood. He took the punishment with great humility, but after it was over he lay on the ground, groaning in pain. The steward then ordered the slave to get up, but when no response was made, he started to kick him until he finally got up.

“Good, now return to your duties!”, Coiron ordered sharply.

In severe pain, he got up and went to the fields. he tried his best to appear like he was working. The open wounds stung and the summer sun was beating down on him. He worked the rest of the day and was thankful to return to his slave cell. He shared his cell with another slave. They would often whisper in the night to make conversation, and they had become quick friends throughout the summer months. His cell mate, who was named Simeon Ratsherr, was a stocky man with dirty blonde hair, he had a scraggly beard and was a bit shorter than he was.

“I saw what happened earlier, are you alright?” he whispered to the tall slave.

“Yes”, he replied, “I was working in the kitchens and I broke some dishes.”

“I see; I am sorry my friend.”

The tall slave then then exclaimed, “If I were to be completely honest with you, and I only tell you this because you are my friend and I trust you. I hate this life; it has brought me much pain. Because of my forced occupation, I have no freedom no comfort, and no way to express my sorrows. So I must stay silent, holding my pain down for no one to see. And as I hold it, it only grows worse with every day. I feel as though I am losing my mind. I do not pray for death, no, I pray for a solution to my pain. I pray for freedom.”

“I understand your toil, I have been a slave for eighteen years, at first I was much like you. I was bitter and angry, but as time went on, it grew much easier. I promise, trust that The Remembered One has a plan. You’ll be alright.”

The way Simeon spoke and felt about certain often made the tall slave believe him to be Aurelian. The slave frequently spoke with Aurelian’s who traveled through his home so he became very familiar their culture, this was of course before he became a slave.

The Aurelian’s were a people group that lived in the south west portion of the Heart of the World; The large continent to the east of the Kathara Isles where many empires lay.

The two fell asleep in their cots, fast asleep until dawn. The morning light pecked through the dungeon window, waking both of them up for the day. They arose quickly as one of the castle guards came around the dungeon, yelling at each slave to get up. The guard released them from their cells and they were all brought to the fields and were told to work. They began to work and it wasn’t until midday when they were told to stop. They were stopped because it “feeding time”, and it was one of the few times when they could stop working. The chef of the castle would bring out a barrel of burnt or rotten food for the slaves to eat, once the barrel was devoured. Food given by the chef was often terrible, but the slaves didn’t care too much, they would take what they could get, sometimes they would be so hungry that they would never even notice the bad taste of the food. After they finished eating they ordered to return to their work.

Today, unlike most days though, the steward of the castle personally oversaw the slaves as they worked. The guessed the reason for this was because of the incident that had happened the day previous, with the tall slave and the broken dishes. The steward had a strong sense of anxiety about the slave making mistakes that could personally affect the King. So, whenever a mistake was made, the steward always tried his best to make sure it would never happen again, even if that required the killing of a slave.

Eventually, one of the guard came into the fields holding a mop and a bucket of water, he walked up to the closest slave to him, who happened to be the tall slave.

“Some guests spilled some wine over in the hallway near the kitchen, go clean it up, now!”, the guard ordered, handing him the mop and bucket.

The Slave did as he was told, and walked towards the castle. it was almost dusk now, and a gentle wind filled the air, the sun filled the sky with a beautiful orange. If he wasn’t a slave, perhaps he would have enjoyed it, he thought. He arrived at the spill and began to mop away the mess. He was keeping to himself when he could help but notice something. He noticed that the steward was sneaking into the kitchen. Strange, the slave thought, at this time of day only the Castle Chef would go in the kitchen, but that was only to grab something particular, like a special bottle of wine or a dessert for the king to enjoy.

Curiosity gripped the slave, the sense of rebellion that once plagued his mind plagued him once more, he walked up to the kitchen door mop in hand, he gently opened the kitchen door and looked in. Inside he saw the steward opening a bottle of wine, he then pulled out a tiny vial filled with an unknown substance. He opened the vial and poured the substance into the bottle. The slave shocked and confused by what he was seeing, pulled away and returned to where he originally was. He acted like he was moping while he thought about what he had seen. What was in the vial? Was it poison?

Eventually, the steward appeared from the kitchen and walked quickly towards the Great Hall, not even noticing the slave down the hallway. Again, curiosity gripped his mind. Making sure no one was watching, he headed into the kitchen. The wine bottle was placed in an empty wine rack. The vial on the hand, was hidden behind one of the stoves. The slave smelled the vial and recognized its contents instantly, it was tyleleaf. A poison notoriously used for assassinations. The slave remembered his father teaching him about when he was younger.

“It’s a perfect poison, it doesn’t kill quickly, it will stay in the body until, completely at random, it kills you.” His father would always say concerning it.

His father, who was nobility, had a paranoia about assassinations so he knew poisons very well, and made sure his sons knew it too.

This was tyleleaf, a notorious poison, in the king’s wine. He thought about what he should do, and he considered something sinister. Perhaps he should do nothing at all. He recalled all the suffering he had endured under the king’s rule, he decided to walk away, believing what he was doing to be completely in the name of justice. He walked down the hallway trying to not think about what had just happened, but he couldn’t help it. He began to feel guilty, he knew it was wrong to let the king die like this. He became very conflicted and he knew it still wasn’t too late to prevent this. He made his decision, he was better than this, he couldn’t let him die. He turned around and quickly headed back towards the Great Hall. He had never entered into it before; slaves weren’t allowed in but he supposed that this would be an exception. Before going in, he looked the kitchen to see the wine was still there, it wasn’t. He grabbed the empty vial and he ran into the Great hall. It was almost too late; they were handing the king his cup.

“No!” The slave shouted at the king. “It’s poisoned!”

The whole room went silent, everyone looked at him with puzzlement. The slave looked to the king, and was relieved to find that he had not yet taken a sip from his cup but what about to be served Royal Drink Taster. A man whose job consisted of drinking and eating from the king’s meals to check for poison.

“What is the meaning of this servant?” the Steward finally said to the slave.

“You poisoned the kings wine! I saw you in the kitchen.” The slave exclaimed.

The king then spoke up in a silent yet booming voice, “Poison? What is the meaning of this Titus?! Explain yourself. Now!”.

“Sir, my dear lord, this servant of yours is trying to frame me, I would never do such a treasonous task as assassination.” The steward replied with confidence in his speech, but fear in his eyes.

“If I may speak sir,” Begin the Drink Taster, “I did in fact taste your wine, I can assure you I feel quite well and I don’t believe there is any poison at all in this drink”.

“That’s because it was tyleleaf! A poison I am quite familiar with, it’s a very subtle poison that kills very slowly and is difficult to detect in drinks.” He then revealed the empty poison vial to king as evidence against the steward.

A look of fear filled the Drink Taster’s face, he sat down in his chair and was silent. Then the steward talked into kings ear, “do not listen to this servant, he is a-“

The king interrupted him, “Servant? This is no servant of mine, he’s in rags! I’d sooner believe him to be a beggar than a servant of the King. Who is he?”

“Well sir, he is a field-hand.”

“I do not believe you Titus. I will ask him myself”, the king then turned to the slave, “Who are you?”

The slave replied, “I am Hadrian, son of the lord Benjamin, 12th heir to House Cassius in Westhold. But despite my gentle birth, I am now a slave under King Grenweld of the Kathara Isles.”

The King’s face lit up with rage, “What? Slave?! There are no slaves in my court, it is forbidden. What is the meaning of this?”

Hadrian was confused, did the king not know that there were slaves in his court? When he thought about it, it all made sense, the steward always kept the slaves as far from the king as possible, perhaps the steward had bought the slaves without the king’s knowledge.

“Sir, I can assure that I am in fact a slave, we are held down in the dungeon of the servant’s wings, we’ve served you for years.”

One of the guards standing vigilant spoke up, “My king, if I may so bold as to speak, I can testify that what this man says is true, I have personally guarded the slaves under the orders of Steward Titus, this man is a slave.”

The king began to calm down from his anger, “Court Stewart Titus of Coiron, I regret to tell that you must be arrested, I have reason to believe you are at fault.”

The Steward shook with anxiety, and stammered in his speech, “Sir, uhh, I umm, you can’t possibly, uhh”.

“Enough! Now, guards arrest him until the grand inquisitor can completely prove if he is guilty.”

The guards pressed forward to arrest him, but then the steward let out a scream.

“No!” and he pulled out a knife and went to attack the king but he was too late, the guards unsheathed their blades and sliced the knife out of the Steward’s hand, taking several fingers off without. The Steward let out a shriek that soon became a death filled grunt as a sword was thrust into his belly.

He fell to the floor, blood pooled around him. He was dead.

The Creature

He drank his coffee slowly as he watched rain trickle down the windowsill. Dark days like this always made him depressed and often would discourage him from having any desire to go to work. And yet, he almost always went regardless of his mood. He sipped the last drop and put the cup in the kitchen sink. He went into his bedroom and changed into his suit and tie. He grabbed his briefcase, and umbrella, and some loose change for lunch and headed out the door.

He took the elevator down, and walked out of the building into the streets. The streets were filled with people all heading in different directions. He opened his umbrella, and walked down the sidewalk. Rained poured from the sky, filling the streets with water. He walked to the building where he worked, which was a few blocks down the road. His walk always consisted of the same thing every day: he’d walk down Hilgoth Street, ignoring all the people around him, silently until reaching 5th avenue, where he would always see the same homeless lady sitting there begging for change, he would toss her some change and continue his walk. Finally, he’d reach 9th Avenue where his office was. But today was different, this time the lady was not there, nowhere to be seen, but even so, he cared little. It was not his concern, being on time was his concern at that moment.

Arriving at the office, he made himself at home inside his little cubicle. He hung his jacket on a rack and sat down in his chair. He looked at a picture of his parents in the corner of his desk, he wondered how they were doing and if they liked living in Kilter Beach. He promised himself he’d call them tonight if it wasn’t too late, after all they were three hours ahead.

He got to work, he would analyze paperwork and check for any errors done by the people above him. Most of the time there would no mistakes, they were very good at their jobs. Very rarely would they ever make a mistake, maybe only once a year would a mistake be made. And if there was a mistake, it would never really be a big deal.

He’d do the same thing every time: review, recheck, sign at the bottom. Every time, every page. And he got very good at it. By 6 o’clock, he had run through all his paperwork and was finished for the day. He was just about to leave when his boss, walked around the corner of his cubicle.

“Hey Stephen, I really hate to do this to you, but there was a mistake. A large pile of paperwork was misplaced. We found them, but they need to be reviewed and ready by tomorrow. Can you please do them? We’ll pay you extra.”

Stephen, already exhausted let out a sigh of defeat, “Yeah, I’ll handle it.”.

Then he grabbed a cup of coffee, and returned to his work. The pile was big and it took him awhile but he finally finished a little after ten. By then, the entire office was dark, only his cubicle emitted light in the building. Everyone else had gone home.

He packed up his stuff and left, but as he was walking home he walked past the place where the homeless lady usually sat, he wondered where she was. Every day she was there begging, he couldn’t think of a single time he didn’t see her there. Where had she gone? Out of curiosity, he walked down the alley way near where she usually sat. He walked down it, and saw behind a dumpster that was slightly against the side of one of the buildings, leaving enough room to walk comfortable behind the dumpster. Behind it, he saw the lady, who was in a tiny little shelter made up of trash. She sat there, shivering, as pale as fresh snow, she looked quite ill.

“Ma’am, are you feeling alright?”

No answer.

“Alright then, here,” He threw the rest of the money in his pocket, “get yourself to a doctor!”

After that, he began to walk out of the alley but was stopped by a long thundering noise coming from behind him. He quickly turned around, and saw that the dumpster which had concealed the woman’s shelter had been thrown against the side of the building on the other side of the alley. He looked at where the dumpster once was and there was the woman, but she was different.

Stephen let out a gasp, she had turned into some sort of monster. Her teeth were jagged and pointed out of her lips, her eyes were a glowing red, and blood poured from every orifice of her face. Then she let out a loud, terrifying, scream into the night and began to sprint towards him.

He jolted, and turned around, sprinting away into the streets. He was terrified, but only one thing filled his mind: run. And that he did, he ran down the street. He could hear the creature getting closer to him, it was much too fast for him to outrun. It was just about to spring onto him when he heard a loud bang. He ignored it, and kept running. Eventually he had run out of breath, he looked behind him and saw nothing chasing him. He hid in an alley to take a rest when a limo drove up next to him. The back door swung open, revealing a man wearing a very nice suit with a red tie.

“Stephen Galo? We need to talk immediately”. The man said.

Stephen looked behind him to see if the thing was still coming.

“Don’t worry, we took care of that creature for you, but come come, it looks like there’s much to discuss.”

Then without thinking, Stephen got into the limo. And they drove away into the night.

End

Church

In a home in a particular town, a couple frantically paced back and forth throughout their kitchen, a look of anxiety plagued each of their faces. Outside, the whole town stood, yelling obscenities and screaming for the ‘sinners’ to come out. Torches blazed throughout the streets, filling the whole neighborhood with a red glow.

“What are we going to do John?” The women asked.

“I don’t know”, John angrily exclaimed to Stephanie, “I guess we’ll just wait it out tonight, then leave in the morning, but we can’t stay here”.

He then looked at his love and saw the fear in her eyes and pitied her. “Listen, I don’t want you to worry too much about this, it’s not good for the baby, you should go to bed and relax, I’ll take care of this.”

Stephanie, exhausted from her night of fear, took John’s advice and went to bed.

With her now gone, the living room felt so empty, he silently sat alone on the couch thinking about how his life had led up to this moment. He spent his whole life in this small town. It was the kind of town where everyone knew everyone. But the most important thing in the town was its Church and its new Reverend, who had just earned the honorably position six months prior.

Originally John was an acolyte at the church and was known for always being full of righteousness and would spend most of his time serving in both the church and the community. To the whole town, he was blameless. As was his friend Henry, who was also a church acolyte. Henry, despite his faith and reverence towards the church, had a fatal flaw, he was in love with a young woman to the point of near-obsession. This women’s name was Stephanie, and she knew his feelings for her all too well, but felt nothing towards him.  He knew this and it crushed him, but it seemed that every rejection he received from her only fueled his love for her.

John, on the other hand, was loved by Stephanie, and he loved her very much as well. But sadly because of his friendship with Henry, they both decided to keep their love a secret for the time being. They would secretly go on walks together and would always meet under the old stone bridge outside of town. There, they would have picnics and talk for hours about anything. And they both loved every moment of it. But they stayed away from anything involving physical touch outside of marriage, for they both agreed it would be wrong to do so.

It was on one particular day though, when their love and passion became too great, and their accountable was at its lowest, that they gave into their carnal pleasures and made love for the first time. After the deed was done, they were both ashamed and repented for what they had done. It was then after two weeks, that Stephanie found out that she was pregnant, and it was three months after that when the whole town found out.

Everyone was horribly disappointed in them. The current Reverend, after finding out about the incident, excommunicated John from the church, and the whole town began to look down on the couple with disgust. But of all the disappointed people, Henry was the worst, who, after finding out, broke inside. He hated John with a burning passion and was happy to see him out of the church. With him gone, Henry became the new Reverend of the town church after the old one ordained him.

In most of the Henry’s messages, he would vilify and condemn the couple, often suggesting that “god wants someone to do something about the sinners of this world”. And Henry’s messages began to change the town, it seemed that with each message, the town hated the couple more and more. Soon they would wait outside the couple’s home, waiting to spit and hurl rocks at them if they came out, which they never did. But every Sunday it got worse until it finally got to its breaking point.

John sat on the couch, loading his shotgun, when he heard a load clang at the door. They were trying to break in! He bolted forward and tried to hold back the door but it was too late, in seconds the whole house filled with angry faces. It was chaos, they were screaming and destroying the house around him in fits of anger, they ripped out the drawers and stole their contents, in only a short period of time, the house was unrecognizable. He seemed to have just disappeared among them as they looted and destroyed. John needed to do something, he grabbed the loaded shotgun near him and fired at the ceiling. Dust and debris sprayed down from the roof.

In one second the room went silent, but in the next second they all ran towards John and began to attack and beat him. His body filled with pain as they kicked and punched him. But to John’s horror, as they were beating him, he noticed that in the chaos, the curtains had caught fire, perhaps by one of their torches. The fire spread, and there was nothing he could do about it. None of them realized it until the couch, which was near the window, was completely covered in flame. They all fled for their lives, dropping their torches on the floor, escalating the fire even more. They all left the burning home, dragging John with them. Only John remembered that Stephanie was still inside. They dropped him on the lawn, and he painfully tried to drag himself back in to save her, but then to his complete disappointment, Henry walked up to him, face filled with rage, and he kicked John in the face, knocking him out cold.

The fire trucks came, but it was too late, Stephanie suffocated on the smoke and died in the fire. John moved out of town the next day, to where, nobody knew. But six months later, he returned, just to see the town one last time. He came in on a Sunday morning, while everyone was in church. He walked up to the church and listened to the message from outside. The reverend, now no longer fueled by his crusade against John, spoke of how we are to love our neighbor and treat our fellow man with respect, to live a life of love and forgiveness. It was a typical sermon.

After he stopped by the church, he stopped by the ruin of his old home. He walked inside, kneeled and prayed that God may forgive those who wronged him. He spent the night in the ruin thinking only of Stephanie and longed to see her one last time. After that, he left and never returned.