Thicker Than Blood

This was where they had met, a cold winter night. It had been lying there with the others, another log in the stack. He had gotten it out, put it up on the chopping block. Grabbed his axe, lifted it high. The log spoke.

“What are you doing!?”

Gerald jumped back. Held his hand to the wall, catching his breath. The other hand tightened around the shaft. Was he going crazy?  Either that, or something fishy was going on.

“You… speak?” Gerald couldn’t believe what he saw and heard. “Logs don’t…”

“Yeah, I know. We don’t. But still, here we are talking, aren’t we?”

Gerald couldn’t argue with that.

They chatted for a while. The log told Gerald about his former life as a tree, and how he had ended up where he was. He asked a lot of questions, and seemed genuinely interested in Gerald’s life, his childhood, his marriage. Gerald told his story, and it felt good to finally have someone to really talk to again.

He took it in, cared for it. They became good friends, they were happy together. The log was a great pal, they had many laughs, so much fun.

His wife didn’t understand. She never saw the log speak, somehow it just kept quiet when she was around. She hated it.  She hated how her husband spent long afternoons in the sitting room talking to the stupid log. She hated the log.

The log was worried.

“She doesn’t like me, does she?” it would ask, looking out of the window. “I don’t see why? I never done anything to her.”

Gerald would try to make him feel better. “Maybe that’s the problem,” he would say. “She doesn’t even think you’re alive. Why don’t you speak to her?”

The log went silent.

Gerald spent more and more time with the log. Who would ever have guessed a log would have so much humour, be so smart? He knew things Gerald had never imagined.

He took the log on long walks. They went fishing together. It was driving his wife crazy.

One day she gave him an ultimatum.

“It’s either the log or me! Get rid of it! Chop it up and burn it, or I will!”

So here they were. He put the log on the chopping block, facing away. He couldn’t look it in the eyes.

“What are you doing, man? Why are we here?”

“I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry…” Gerald couldn’t hold the tears back.

“It’s her, isn’t it? She told you to do this! Can’t you see? She’s manipulating you!”

Gerald grabbed his axe with a shaking hand… (more)

Return of the Dragons

-Look, up there!

-You know my eyes are not what they used to. The old man twisted his neck back as far as his worn back would permit. – What is it?

-The dragon’s! They’re back!

-Oh, my…It’s been so long. Hopefully they’re back to stay this time.

The faun jumped up the walls of the castle side, ran up from stone to stone where no man could ever  walk.

She straightened her back, took a deep breath of fresh air. Underneath people were gathering, all looking up to see the dragons circling the skies. Wherever they had been, they were back now.

The song was a song of welcome, a song to let them know they had been missed. Her voice, soft and powerful floated over the castle, over the town, out beyond the fields and forests. People came out of their houses, dropped what ever they carried, stopped what they were doing. Everyone looked up at the sky and listened.

The dragons danced… (more)

War of the Woods

Ling hid down by the river. Waited. Listened. All she heard was the breeze whispering in the treetops.

She got up on her feet. She was the only one who had survived the attack, the shame ripped her soul. Her troop was gone. Her Sargent. Her mates. She didn’t know where she was, the map and the compass had been in the backpack.

The sun was going down. Southwest. She knew the base camp should be to the east.

Darkness invaded the forest, the bushes got denser as she walked. She heard the sounds of little animals jumping from tree to tree, birds flying in the leaves. They sounded unquiet, stressed. Tree-trunks were scraping together somewhere in the dark.

There had ben gunshots, but she hadn’t seen any enemies. The troop had been separated by the dense vegetation. Then the shooting had started.

 Between some bushes she hid to sleep. The night was cold and dark, the moon could not be seen.

She hadn’t seen any enemy since the attack. Strange, she was deep into enemy territory. They should be swarming. She walked with caution.

Further ahead there was some kind of movement. She went closer. It could be enemies, or it could be her own. Maybe some large animal. She was starving.

She got down, crawled under the bushes. Got a view. There was a cluster of plants. Human bodies were hanging from the trees. Animals. The branches moved, but there was no wind. Roots unattached from the ground… (more)

Big Fish

Where the river met the sea, he waited. He had been waiting for three days, from morning to night.

He waited for a fish. A fish so big it would feed all the village. Many times he had seen it. They all had. When They were fishing smaller prey, he saw it swim in from the sea. Swim up the river, always out of reach. Aware of their presence.

This time it wouldn’t be.

This time he let the smaller fish pass. He was motionless like a rock, silent as a tree when the air was still.

Birds flew by. He heard a monkey scream in the forest. A snake dropped into the water on the other side. It swam with its head surfacing. It disappeared.

A big form emerged where it had been. It was here.

Mark sharpened his senses. His heart beat faster. He watched. He waited.

It was gone again.

The sun started to go down, giving the sky a reddish glow. He would have to go home empty handed yet another day. He would need to go back to the small fish again tomorrow. He couldn’t waste more time.

A shadow came in from the sea. Moved along the shore, swam into the river. He could see it clearly now. Its gracious moves. Its eyes, conscious, almost rational.

Too far away. It went into the river, took a turn. Came back. Looked around on the ground. Hunting little creatures between the rocks. It came closer.

Marek lifted his spear… (more)

Keep It Down

-Turn it down! The broomstick was banging hard on the ceiling downstairs.

Disco John turned up the volume. Music should be loud. If that grumpy old man didn’t understand, it wasn’t his problem. Lazy old chump, he never went out. John hadn’t even seen him, ever, the four years he had been living here. What did he know about disco?

John rocked around the floor, trying out his latest moves. Soon he’d be back out there, impressing the chicks.

-Turn it the fuck down!

John didn’t hear it anymore, he just felt the pounding in the floor. He kept dancing.

Between songs he heard a knock on the door. Probably the neighbor again. The door was locked, so it didn’t matter. His brand new Audio Research D-150 amplifier made his hair fly, his blood pump. The knocking got harder. He could hear it over the music now.

-Keep it down, will you? John mumbled, turning the music up to full volume. The bass made the floor shake, the walls, his mind and heart. He kept dancing.

There was something disturbing the rhythm. Something off balance, the room was shaking out of style. Disco John looked at the door. It was moving. Out of the entrance window he saw the neighbor standing on the veranda outside. Damn, was he ugly. No wonder he never went out. The slamming got harder, so hard the door was threatening to break.

-Hey! Be careful with the door!

The edges  were bulging in. The neighbor was making some horrible sounds outside, screaming louder than his speakers. Damn, was he pissed. And strong. Too strong. John held on to the door.

It was giving in. Tentacles came in over it, around the edges. John put his weight on.

-OK, OK, I’ll turn it down! Relax, dude!

The door gave in. John fell back, holding the door to keep the neighbor away as he came pouring in through the opening like toothpaste out of the tube.

-Calm down, dude! John crawled backwards into the room. The neighbor came in, his tentacles holding on to the walls.

-Calm down! I’ll turn it down, OK? John couldn’t be heard over the music.

The neighbor looked around the room. His eyes locked on the stereo in the corner. John’s new Skyfi Audio system. A grin spread over his hideous face… (more)

Bonfire Stories

“Your turn, Nico. You tell a story.”

“OK, I’ll tell you a story.” Nico filled his cup from the bucket of water. How he loved being here, deep into the forest, where the water was fresher than any water you’d buy in town. “I’ll tell you a story you’ve never heard anything like. And it’s true. All of it.”

“Yeah, yeah. Just tell the story, asshole.”

Nico shut up for a moment, took a deep breath. His eyes moved to Gerald, then back into the fire.

“There was a forest, pretty similar to this one. A forest where no one knew what lived and lurked. It was too dense, too strange, too dark.”

Gerald giggled. “Yeah, just like this one.” Nico sent him a glare. His smile faded. “Go ahead.”

“One night, a hunter went into the forest, walked far and long, looking for beasts for trophies. He went where no man had ever walked before. He found a lake. There he waited for the beast.”

“What kind of beast?” Bill was enjoying the story

“Any kind, just as big as possible. The biggest, fiercest beast in the woods.. And he waited. The sun went down.”

The darkness was getting denser. Gerald put some more logs on the fire. Nico stared into the shadows between the trees.

“He heard a roar. A deep, dark roar from somewhere far into the woods. He smiled in the darkness, knew the time had come. He got his horn out, blew it. It made a long, organic sound. The sound of prey.”

They heard something in a distance… (more)