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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Short Story Contest (45) Theme: Fallen Hero

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, May 16, 2009.

    Short Story Contest 45
    Submissions & Details Thread
    Theme: Fallen Hero



    Open to all, newbies and established members alike. Please post your entries as replies to this thread. At the deadline I will collate all entries and put them forward for voting in a seperate thread. Sadly there are no prizes but honour on offer. The winning entry will be stickied until the next competition winner.

    Theme: Fallen Hero (courtesy of member -NM-). Any interpretation valid.

    Suggested Wordlimit: 500 - 3000 words.
    Deadline for entries: May 30th 2009 10.00 am (UK local)


    If you would like to prepare entries in advance, the next contest will be themed '1st Person Narrative - You Are A Wall' (LordKyleOfEarth), the next after that '1st Person Narrative - I Wish I Were Someone Else' (themotions), and finally, the contest after that will be themed 'Comedy (an open topic)' (themotions). Do not submit an entry to any of these contests until instructed to do so.

    There is a 10% leniency with regards to the wordlimit. Please try to stick within the limit. Any piece outside of the suggested limit will still be entered into the contest but flagged as such, and eligibility determined by vote alone.

    Try to make all your entries complete and have an ending rather than be an extract from a larger one and please try to stick to the topic. Any piece seeming outside of the topic will be dealt with in a piece by piece manner to decide its legitamacy for the contest.

    Submissions may not have been previously posted on this site, nor may they be posted for review until voting has closed. Only one entry per contest please.

    Please try to refrain from itallicising, bolding, colouring or indenting any text to help avoid disappointment. These stylistics do not reproduce when I copy-paste them into the voting thread.

    Please remember to give your piece a title and give its word count in brackets at the top of your story.

    If there are any questions, please leave me a visitor message or PM me. Please do not clog up this, or any other thread, with your questions.


    Thanks and good luck.
     
  2. JohnBonham
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    JohnBonham New Member

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    Summer Rain

    [2,038]

    A summer rain is a fine thing. The mystic ways of nature often converge by drastic means to produce such overlooked phenomena. The rain is like the suddenly adult expression a child gives you during play, or the bird that walks close to your feet when you go wandering. It has been known to change your situation drastically, and it is indifferent. It is bold, it is daring, and it is beautiful.
    The ozone smell drifts from every part of the road, rising evidently through the lazy mist. The water itself is almost non-existent, only a little more wet than a humid day, but the villages on goers recognize a lost afternoon openly. The children can be seen slouched upon windows, staring sadly out into the grey. Like every day in this small town, the sun can still be seen easily. Somewhere miles away, an old man by the name of Percy Everett sleeps uneasy.

    Percy wasn’t just old, he was damn-near buried.

    There is a difference between legends and myth’s, and that difference rests solely on how the children tell the story during hazy summer nights. His house sits just below the tip of a low hill, a few dirt miles away from the main roads, surrounded by barren land. The steady deterioration of his lawn is a juxtaposition of his life, and the roots become weaker each year. His home is small. The paint chips, the wood sags, and the windows no longer reveal any clue as to the inhabitants of the small dwelling. The house is red in color.
    The inside of the dwelling is dark and pungent with mold. Windows let in dim light, and what little rays break through now shine upon the old man’s bed. Each wrinkle of his face look like they are filled by dust, and sometimes they are. Lining the walls are shelves upon shelves of unexplainable memorabilia. Newspapers, awards, old telephones, tattered books, railroad spikes, and all manner of implacable trinkets litter his home. No alarm clock wakes the old man, and as morning rolls into afternoon, he slowly gains consciousness.

    It is very important now to understand that Percy Everett was not a good person. The basic level of compassion every soul contains more than fills his capacity for kindness. He is a miser of his emotions, and he would probably never be understood.
    Slowly and steadily, another day is carried out by the old man.
    Percy’s shaking hands find his face in the gray light of his bedroom, and begin to sink deep into his eyes, rubbing sporadically until they fall silently to his side. Staring at his sagging ceiling in disgust, he thinks in short bursts of emotion.

    I need to use the bathroom.
    I have to go to Town.

    At the second thought, Percy gave a grim reluctant scowl, than began to carry out his morning routine. His refrigerator door swings open only halfway, and as he leans in to retrieve an egg he feels horrifically aware of his old age. Tendons squeal and bones shudder as the old man’s body prepares his meal. Silence fills the space in between his brief actions, and he is so accustom to such silence that any unknown noise is burdensome. The morning plays out as any other.
    It takes almost a full half-hour to drive into town, and his small truck barely makes the commute when need be. His back is hunched over the steering wheel with concentration, and the deepest untouched part of Percy Everett still enjoys driving along the open roads, past the rolling flats of green and gold. His truck dutifully pulls into Main Street without many complaints, and the old man forces his neck left to right, scanning the area. Dust billows from under the tires as he parks near a deli, the kind of store that is left mercifully alive in the spread out parts of America. Percy slowly steps down, and shields his ancient eyes against the misty sun. He is aware of the light rain, but is hardened against any of nature’s tricks, and so he marches through town angrily.
    Passer’s by stare quickly at the old man’s dirty overalls with disrespect. Percy Everett is not known for any great crime, conversely, he is known for a total lack of social existence. Stories that are bred from the minds of perverts and children, and sometimes perverted children, rarely make it to the ears of the average citizen. Still, men and women pass by Percy with awkward indifference, there speed mocking his swollen knees. Percy looks to the ground.

    “Sir?” a tiny voice behind the old man timidly protruded through the steady hum of commerce.
    Percy, after years alone, moved on slowly. That voice couldn’t possibly be for him.
    “Excuse me, Sir?” A little more persistent and now closer, the voice struck Percy.

    The old man turned around slowly, putting up layers of emotional and social defense on top of his excitement. More than anything, he just wanted to be home, but he was not so far gone that he couldn’t feel the instinctual rush of brief interaction come upon him in waves. His face hardened automatically.
    A boy of about nine years stood at Percy’s feet. He had a handsome face, with piercing brown eyes. His clothing was dirty, like normal children, but held a worn quality that most don’t live to see. He was tough looking, and too old for his body.
    Percy looked at the boy for a long time, waiting for him to speak. Realizing this, the boy spoke bravely.
    “Listen Sir, I have a little brother with me. His name is Samuel” The boy looked down at his feet, thinking. Suddenly, as if It mattered dearly, he said “And my names Jacob!”
    Percy did not speak.
    The boys words fell over themselves clumsily, but his eyes never faltered.
    “We have little money, but our mother is at home sick and we’ve been looking all day for some food for her and I don’t know how we’re going to buy any and I’m, well what I’m asking is that uhm-“
    Percy looked shocked, but did not tear his face immediately from the boy’s eyes.
    “-well, I don’t know if YOU have any money but if you did you can come meet my mother she’d be really happy if you just gave us a little money for bread and milk?”
    His faced crinkled in hope, and the silence after the boy's last words lasted for a lifetime.
    Percy gave no more time to the child, and he turned away as quickly as he could. His slow footsteps pushed forcibly away from the scenario.
    The boy’s face broke for just a second, but his powerful hope replenished the sharp gleam that gave his dark brown eyes their strength. His voice was defiant, strong, and understanding.
    “It’s OK mister, really!”
    He shouted to Percy’s moving back, and then ran away with renewed determination.
    The rain stopped.

    Percy’s thoughts were vivid with motion. His feet pushed on without him knowing, and his fists were balled up in frustration. An arrangement of concepts flooded his mind, and for a moment he was unaware of his constantly aching body.
    Who does that boy think he is askin’ for hand-outs?
    He repeated the line over and over in his head, his voice getting slightly softer each time. As the angry mantra quickly faded, he found himself picturing the boy’s eyes. Without knowing, he thought of Jacob’s courage. He remembered the determined look in his eyes as he waited for a response. Overlapping his thought of his bravery, he thought of Samuel, the unknown brother. Did they look the same? Did the mother have that firm jaw, and those determined brown eyes? I bet she ain’t sick, he thought, I bet he was just tryin’ to hustle a soda. The old man smiled a little to himself.
    Handsome little kid, he thought.
    Percy was suddenly aware that he stopped walking. Shaking his head slightly, he walked into the nearest store and pushed his face back into a grimace while browsing the shops wears. Various biscuits and decorative cakes occupied the clean glass showcases, giving off sweet and hearty aromas. Even in his flustered state, he could not help but to enjoy the smell of the warm bakery, and even the sight of the other shoppers as they happily purchased their treats. A sudden thought ran across his mind, and it intertwined with two other thoughts to reach one conclusion. They sounded like this:

    That boy would probably like something like this for his mother.
    When is the last time I had a cake.
    I will purchase some for myself.

    He picked out a fist-sized chocolate cake for himself, and then spontaneously, he asked for a big loaf of bread. Bag in hand and feeling content with himself, he walked outside. Without knowing, Percy was scanning the street for the little boy. Walking quickly back from which he came, he stopped dead at the sight of two small figures talking to a man who was middle-aged. Percy’s old eyes recognized Jacob, and he smiled knowing the child next to him must have been Samuel. He must have those same eyes, the old man thought, as his feet took him within hearing range of they’re conversation.

    “-and she’s not feeling good and all we want is to bring her some food honest mister.” Jacob was pleading avidly.
    The man looked at the two boys and smirked.
    “I’m gunna go ahead and tell you this so no one else has tuh’ son.”
    He squatted down and stared into Jacob’s brave eyes. The man spoke coolly
    “Ain’t anybody ever gunna’ give you a damn thing. You hear me you little punk?”
    The man smiled cynically to reveal large healthy teeth. With his hand, he gave a light push to Jacob’s shoulder and laughed. This was too much to handle, and in the face of his little brother, Jacob’s strength crumbled as he burst into silent and painful tears. The man walked away satisfied as Jacob’s head lowered to the ground, sobbing.
    Percy watched this take place in a matter of seconds, and he was appalled. Not Jacob, the strong boy who just minutes ago asked so kindly for a little bit of food! The very boy who stood his ground against giants, with old and deep brown eyes! Quickly, he rushed over to the boy, bag in hand, and was ready to give him the treat as consolation. He knelt down and placed a warm hand on his head. Jacob looked up at him.

    “Here’s-“ Percy suddenly stopped, thinking for a moment. “I uh got you something.”
    His voice was hoarse with concern.
    Jacob’s wet face turned into a defiant frown. Violently, he swatted the bag to the ground, and took his brothers hand in his own.
    “I don’t want nothin’ from you!” he yelled, “you… you mean old man!”
    With that, Jacob turned and ran as fast as he could, dragging his confused brother along behind him.
    Percy watched stunned as they quickly ran along the sidewalk out of sight. After a minute of standing, he turned quickly, and walked back to his truck.

    The bag on the ground shifted slightly in the summer breeze.


    The truck moved upon the dirt-road steadily, fitting in seamlessly with the rolling countryside. The sun shone bright in the sky, and cast a warm orange shade upon the hilltops that Percy drove by, of which he had no recognition of. His fists were tight around the steering wheel, and he was hunched over with impatience.
    Percy Everett parked the truck in front of his old red house. His dark faced moved left to right slowly, taking in every loose board, rusty nail, and dirty window. The mind that was earlier filled with excitement and curiosity, now settled down into a dry, barren state of discontent. His eyes glared forward, his mouth hardened into a thin emotionless line, and his body ached with pain.

    After a while, he got out of his truck, and walked into his house.

    It was mid-day, and already there were no signs that it had even rained at all.
     
  3. Zieki
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    Zieki Member

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    The Fading - [500]

    The steel arrowhead hit with a thud and exploded out the other side in blood and muscle and bone; a primal explosion. It had pushed through the man’s breastplate where it was already dented in the middle of his chest, most likely put there by one of the score of men he had left as a pile of corpses in front of him. Geoffrey hadn’t missed the weakness from close range.

    The man arched backwards, propelled by the force of the arrow, graceful despite the circumstances. The tall, sparse grasses mimicked him, flattered him as they bent beneath the wind, arching and bowing before the man. Were it to have been a true representation, the grasses would have been a great oak tree, a sentinel, something with heart and strength and vigor that only grows with age. His hair was auburn, autumn leaves, blown messy by the chaos around him yet still refined. His arms, spread wide, were limbs and branches, lean strength, hard as iron.

    It was uncertain whether the man knew he’d been pierced through at all. His face was more relaxed than most; his eyes still that frost blue of the North, piercing in their own right. Amidst that chaos, a hurricane of human movement, the thunder of horse and man and death, this one man either didn’t notice or didn’t care; a god come among the trivial tribulations of human beings. The shouts of thousands were reduced to whispers and less, their movements’ stopped, their minds’ numbed and the world remained still, ready to erupt in encore or agony.

    As he fell, more elegant than any still standing, his arms closed above his head and, for a moment, he held the sun between his hands; that big, red, setting sun was his to give and he held it without fear, without regret, and certainly with love. It was either that the sun quickened its descent or the man slowed his – both were possible – because the sun fell with him, perhaps another mocked bow, more suitable this time. The lights of the world kept lockstep with each other, setting, diminishing, dying.

    A single red drop fell faster than the man himself, the blood hurrying to feed the soil. It seemed to shine a brighter red than it should have, still infused with life and reluctant to lose its warmth, headstrong in the face of Nature’s plan. It touched the ground without a noise and was gone; the earth drank the man’s blood eagerly, more nutritious than water, perhaps able to sustain an oak rather than grass. It was not alone. Its companions followed slowly, first one other and then a few more, still fewer drops than corpses the man had sent below the dirt, still fewer than men who would die today, still fewer than men who would never return home from here or, instead, those who would return home. Dust to dust.

    The ground received him lightly with a quiet thud and an exhale of breath.
     
  4. Fox
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    Fox Member

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    Justice [2015]

    Justice.

    If you look it up in a dictionary, you will find that it means one of several things.
    The quality of being just, moral rightness.

    But Justice is nothing more than a term used in order to describe a slap on the wrist, of criminals, by the people who supposedly uphold the law.

    Justice is never really present in the world of today.

    Justice will never prevail if someone does not stand up for the people who cannot do so themselves. Yes, there are some people with strong morals and just drive, but they are simply swept away by petty laws that bind them more than it does criminals. Laws seem to protect criminals more than it protects those who fight for the cause of Justice.

    Someone who is not afraid to stand up against the laws that are stopping Justice from being implemented, must rise to protect the lives and humanity of those who cannot fend for themselves. Such a person has never appeared. Or if such a person has, he or she was simply branded a lunatic, traitor, heretic or terrorist and was promptly put down. Perhaps if they were given a chance to implement their plans, there would be true justice. True laws. Truth.

    People brand the word Terrorist so easily these days to anyone who has an opinion that includes the death of someone. They do not even think twice as to why the person did as he or she did.

    Justice is dead. Or maybe the more correct term would be unborn.

    Justice needs to live. In each and every person. For that to happen, a leader must rise. Someone who will protect the innocent and punish the evil. Someone that will not be afraid of being branded a terrible name, and that will continue to fight for the cause of Justice through the branding and persecution. But mostly, someone that can live.

    There are two kinds of people who want to change the world. Those who succeed and those who die.

    We need a person to succeed. Someone who is strong enough to issue Justice and live.

    We need a hero.

    We need the birth of a new Justice.

    One that has no loop holes.

    No soft slaps for hard crimes.

    Judgement must be passed.

    - An extract from a thesis written by a student.


    “What do you mean you dropped out of law school?”
    Raphael looked up from the paper he was writing on.
    “It means that I ended my enrolment as of today, Mother.”
    The woman was in shock it seemed. With every word, her face was getting redder.
    “Maybe if we call them now, they would reconsider letting you back in.”
    “I do not want to get back in, Mother. Wasn't that part obvious?”
    “I'm calling your father right now. You're going to talk to him. He is going to make you change your mind.”
    Raphael shook his head.
    “Is that so, Mother? Wish him luck for me then.”
    “I am starting to get tired of your lack of respect, young man!”
    Raphael stood up from his chair and started to collect his things. He seemed to purposefully leave the paper he had been writing on the table.
    “If I am not welcome here, I'll find somewhere else to stay.”
    His mother moved to block his path to outside. He gently pushed her aside and left through the back door. He closed it softly behind him. Only a soft click signalled the departure of Kate Linden's son.

    “And is that the last time you saw him, ma'am?”
    Kate was still sobbing after telling the police officer how she saw Raphael leave. Mark Linden put his arm around his wife, whispering comforting words to her. The officer made some notes on a notepad and thanked Kate for her time. He walked over to the detective in charge of the investigation. Detective Michael Storm was busy talking to a neighbour outside. The officer walked over to him as Michael thanked the neighbour and came in the direction of the house.
    “Dean, what do you have for me?”
    The officer told Michael what Kate had said about her missing son saying that he would find another place to stay. Michael nodded and took out his cell phone. He speed dialled Joe Scott, a forensic analyst that worked with him many times before.
    “Hey, it's Michael. Have you matched the samples?”
    He nodded and looked at his feet.
    “Yeah, okay. Thanks. You too.”
    He closed his phone and walked up to the house. He crossed over the living room to the Lindens.
    “We matched the samples. The finger is definitely your son's. There is a good chance that if we find him, he might not be alive any more.”
    Kate burst out in tears and Mark pulled her closer. She cried on his chest and Michael decided that it was time for him to leave.

    It was a month after these events occurred, that the murders started happening. Five or six in a week. There were no clues left behind.
    No witnesses.
    Or at least, none who would speak of what happened.
    The victims of the murders were all criminals, seemingly killed after being caught in the act of crime. They all bore the same killing stroke. A single bullet in the head from behind; execution style. Their hands were tied behind their backs and the bullet was always in the exact same place. Mostly, all the possible witnesses were saved by this murderer and would not speak a word.
    No evidence.
    Until the last murder.
    It seemed that the victim in that particular case fought back just before he died, getting some DNA under his nails. With that in hand, Michael Storm hurried to the forensics lab. He handed the specimen over to Joe and asked him to try and match it with any known DNA samples in the database.
    “Sure thing, Mike.”
    It was late, so Michael headed home, thoughts running through his head. Maybe it was at last time to catch this murderer.

    When Michael was awakened the next morning, it was his cell phone that was ringing. He picked it up and answered groggily.
    “Michael Storm.”
    “It's me, Joe.”
    “What do you have for me?”
    “You won't believe who the samples match. Remember that student who went missing a few months ago? The one whose finger we found. It's him.”
    “What?”
    Michael pulled himself upright. This was a very unexpected development.
    “I'll be there in twenty minutes. Call the chief.”

    “If he's missing, how are we going to find him?” the chief asked flustered.
    He was a balding man and wore a perfect suit and tie.
    “We already tried handing photos around. This guy does not want to be found. We have to get him at his next crime. It's the only way.”
    The chief shook his head.
    “There is no pattern in his killings. The only thing that the people have in common is that they all committed crimes in the New York area. And some of them were first time offenders.”
    This posed a problem indeed.

    A week later, the problem's solution presented itself. All it took was for Michael to think as Raphael Linden did.
    Michael walked into the evidence department. He quickly went in and retrieved the thesis that Raphael had written. He flipped through the pages until he got to the part he was searching for.
    Justice.
    That was the goal of Raphael Linden.
    Michael only then started looking more deeply and in another way, into the different targets. And finally he had found a pattern. It seemed that Raphael had been travelling around, cycling through areas. In each area, he killed three criminals, then moved on to the next area. Since the entire New York had now been covered there were only two options left. Start the cycle from scratch, or move on to the next city. Michael hoped that Raphael would start at the first area again and quickly went to his car to get there.
    The time spans between deaths had always been one or two days, but now three days had passed since the last killing. If the time that it took from one killing to another was calculated and compared to the distance between the last killing and the new one, an average speed could be worked out.
    By his calculations, the next killing would be on that very day.
    Raphael had always killed in the evening as well, thus Michael could still hope to catch him.
    It was only six pm, but the heavy rain caused more darkness than there normally was. The sheets of water made it difficult to drive, but Michael sped onwards.
    He just needed to figure out where in the area a crime would be committed, just like he guessed Raphael would have to. Because New York was so crime-infested, the chance of a crime happening there was large.

    When Michael finally arrived, he didn't even have to look very long.
    He drove a few minutes in the area and saw the silhouettes of a person on his knees with a gun to his head inside a house.
    He parked his car and got out. He pulled out his cell phone and called someone.
    A gunshot pierced the sound of the torrents of rain, causing Michael to drop his phone and pull out his gun.
    “Police! Come out with your hand in the air and your weapon away from you!” he called out.
    “Raphael!”

    At the sound of the name, a figure jumped out the window and started to make a dash for it. Michael shot once, grazing the man's side.
    “Stop!”

    The figure stopped and turned around slowly.

    Michael looked Raphael straight in the eyes, through the curtain of rain that was falling between them.
    “How did you find me?” Raphael asked. His face was completely neutral. Not interested, not scared, not angry.
    “It wasn't easy. I had to think like you.”
    Michael desperately thought of something else to say, to keep Raphael busy. He was not a good shot and did not know if Raphael was.
    “If you thought like me, why would you try and stop me? This is justice.”
    “This is your justice. Not all people agree with you.”
    People who had heard the shots were starting to come out of their houses, looking at the spectacle in the rain.
    “The only people that don't believe in this justice is criminals.”
    Michael looked intently at the man in the cross-hair of his raised pistol.
    “Are you a criminal?” Raphael asked.
    “No, you are.”
    Raphael's hand moved so quickly that Michael didn't have a chance to react. Raphael drew his gun from a holster on his hip, lifted the pistol and fired.
    Michael saw red as the blood flowed freely from his wound. It was a perfect shot between the eyes. He tried to aim but his body didn't respond. His body crumpled below him and he fell on his back, wishing that he could have stopped this murderer from further destroying not only his own life, but the principles of society.

    A sniper's bullet ripped through Raphael's head an instant after Michael toppled to the ground. Raphael blinked and immediately fell to the ground. His face hit the street in a splash, soaking in the puddle of water that had gathered because of the rain. The people that had been watching the showdown all stood far away. Some of them were people who were saved by Raphael, but most were just passers-by who knew of Raphael's deeds.
    Joe came forward with the sniper rifle in hand. He knelt by Michael's body, whispering something to him.
    “Looks like I came a second too late, Mike. Sorry, mate.”
    As Joe knelt by Michael, the watchers came from the shadows and shelter. They started to gather around Raphael. Someone turned him around so that his face was turned upwards, as if looking towards heaven.

    The people had lost their hero.

    Their justice.

    Judgement could no longer be passed.
     
  5. Delving
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    Delving New Member

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    Thaelving (word count: 1499)

    Thaelving led the band of Tripoli soldiers. More than anything he wanted to return to Aheron. His thoughts strayed to his wife, and his son. He fingered his precious Lewhe longbow nervously. The Naeglim could come any moment. He might not ever see his family again. This outpost would be useless against the machines he had seen them roll out against Farath Dûr.

    The wind swept through the small outpost. The palisade walls rattled against its heavy beats. The men shivered in their metal suits. Some bowmen were lucky enough to enjoy the boiled leather which was not as cold against the skin. The short brown-skinned Naeglim were appearing out on the fields. To Thaelving’s dismay he could see them reconstructing the catapults. It was a doomed resistance. He wished he could teleport away. Home. A warm home with the family he loved. He sighed heavily. Duty. He hated it. Maybe death would just be a liberation from the longing that had been haunting him for so long. No. He would fight. He would fight for his family. For his country. The air was melancholic and already the rank of death and doom spread through the area. An old proverb struck him, ‘Death is lighter than a feather, but duty heavier than a mountain’. Yet there was honour in completing one’s duty. There was no honour in death. Not self inflicted death at least. If they died tonight at least they would be remembered as heroes who fought for their country. But then again who would survive to tell their tale? No-one.

    Thaelving shook the thoughts out of his mind. He had to focus. The Naeglim were coming. The general had already left with his elite cavalry units. They would warn Tripoli while the unit here had to “hold back” the Naeglim. Like that would work. It was suicide.

    The sun had disappeared behind the western mountains. Dark clouds hovered in the night above. A lightning struck out on the plains. To Thaelving’s surprise a few howls erupted. Maybe El Elyon was watching over them after all. Thunder rolled heavily, as if a hammer had struck an anvil. The rain struck down like large ballistic arrows crushing the earth with its heavy impact. The strides of the Naeglim echoed the rain as they charged.

    “Brave men of Tripoli! I will not lie to you, tonight we will die! But it is up to us to decide the manner in which we will die and be remembered! Tonight, we will show these cursed Naeglim how to fight! Tonight, we will bring honour to our family names! Tonight, we will shape history! Tonight, you will fight for all that you are worth and we will bring down as many of these demons as we can! For tonight my friends, we fight for all that we are worth. And we fight as men. Tripoli is famous for its strong and fearsome soldiers, and tonight, my friends, we will be that definition and we will prove it true!” Adrenaline rushed through Thaelving as he caught his breath. The men cheered. They would fight. And they would fight well. The previously gloomy mood had been destroyed by the determination to be something. To shape history, and be remembered.

    “Archers, ready!” Thaelving roared and checked to see the response. He heard the shuffling of arrows and bows being drawn and ready. “Legionnaires form up at stations!” Again he glanced to certify that his order was fulfilled.

    “FIRE!” Bowstrings twanged. Arrows pierced the wind, soaring through it with a will of their own.

    Naeglim stumbled in their charge, lethal arrows puncturing their armour. Raging and whimpering howls pulsed out from the charging horde. Some Naeglim attempted to flee but were immediately pierced by the dark, hooded, Naichar. Thaelving had seen a Naichar before. Their accuracy with the bow was legendary.

    Three more volleys followed the first one. Naeglim fell, yet more filled their place. They were like cockroaches crawling out after someone had lifted a rock. A massive boulder flew over Thaelving’s head and crashed into the wooden tower that had stood proudly behind the gate. Men screamed and bodies cracked as they fell. The wooden outpost had been obliterated into four jagged poles that had been its foundation. Smoke and dust erupted violently as walls were struck by the catapults. As the walls failed the Naeglim were suddenly amongst them. Thaelving threw his bow and drew his simple, standard Tripoli long sword. Running down the simple palisade stairs he joined the legionnaires and swordsmen who were slowly pushing back the short, scar-faced Naeglim.

    The legionnaires’ spears with the large square shields were able to keep off most of the Naeglim from even coming close. The coarse, black-feathered arrows thumped against the silver-blue shields, but were unable to penetrate them. Lightning struck the fields again. More howls erupted amongst the battle cries. Thaelving saw the legionnaires fall in front of him and rushed out.

    “Attack!” He thrust his sword into a confused Naeglim. A strike just missed him at the side. He turned to face the Naeglim which snarled and struck again. “For our families!” He dodged and finished with a thrust. The Naeglim’s eyes bulged open in surprise. Black blood poured out. “For our country!” He slashed another one at its arm and then spun to complete with a stab. “For the good of this world!” He yelled as his men fought beside him. He saw men shielding each other by picking up fallen legionnaires’ shields. Some where even risking their lives for their comrades by extravagantly exposing themselves to save each other. The Tripoli soldiers were becoming berserkers but with each others’ survival solely in their mind. It egged them on to fight for their lives. Thaelving would have cried at the bravery and heroism his men displayed had he not himself been in the midst of battle.

    Thaelving’s sword broke as he blocked a Naeglim’s black axe. His shoulder shook violently as the axe sunk through his armour, but luckily the sword had taken the heavy part of the hit and it only just scraped him. The Naeglim pulled the axe out and Thaelving grunted as he stabbed the sharp broken sword into the Naeglim. He picked up a nearby two-handed sword to continue fighting. Sweat poured down his face. He rapidly beheaded a charging Naeglim. His arms bulged out of the strength that was needed to fight. An arrow struck him. He felt his legs fold underneath him. Clenching his teeth he yanked the black-feathered arrow out of his thigh. He thrust his blade through another Naeglim and then fell to the ground again. Another arrow stood out of his other leg. He tried to push himself up but fell again, tasting the bitter, bloodied earth. He spat out a clot of blood and phlegm. As he got himself to his knees he looked up. The two-souled Naichar stood before him, arrow drawn to the place where its ear would have been.

    “Do you wish to live?” It snarled cruelly.

    “No-one wants to die,” Thaelving replied cautiously.

    “Look around you.” He tried to turn his head slightly. His soldiers were dead, a small battalion of fifteen men were still fighting in a tight circle, but it was a doomed cause. “You have lost. But my master Beliar offers you life. He is convinced that with some training you would make a perfect Deirm in his army.” The Naichar’s voice had a high but sharp tone to it. It felt like an arrow piercing itself into his mind. Thaelving felt himself consider its words. Then his thoughts returned to his wife and son. No. He would die with honour. He would prove his family name’s worth. Only worthless wrecks betrayed their cause and country.

    He heard his faint voice barely echo his thought.

    “No? You refuse my master’s act of mercy?” The Naichar laughed. Its hood as always covering its face. Thaelving thought he almost saw a bit of it and shuddered out of fear. No-one survived seeing a Naichar’s cursed face.

    His mind drifted back to thoughts of his family. Faintly he heard an arrow being released. Then again and again. Blood flowed down the remains of the outpost. Pain screamed into his mind. The burning, piercing arrow wounds all burst out in pain, telling his body to stop it. Thaelving saw his wife in front of him, imagining the smell of her hair and the tone of her loving voice. Then he saw his son as a toddler walking towards him a wide smile on his face as he took his first steps. Memories flowed into him filling him with peace. He forgot the pain and surrendered.

    “Fool,” the Naichar murmured, surprise in his voice as he watched the dying man smile faintly. It released its seventh arrow to finally end the man’s life. Thunder rolled, the storm echoing the battle’s harshness. A rain of tears dropped heavily from the skies.
     
  6. Anir
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    Anir Senior Member

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    A Hero's Ghost (word count: 561)

    They once called me their hero.

    They once called me their hero, so what am I now? A broken, purposeless husk of a man, trapped in this cage of dying, rotting flesh, more so than in the cage of iron which surrounds me; waiting, always waiting for death, the sweet key that will unlock this horrid prison.

    When I was strong, I was their champion, the one who led them to victory time and time again. I was their warrior, the one who led their armies and the one who overthrew kings for them. And now I am not strong, just an old man waiting for death, betrayed by the very people who called me their hero.

    When they came to claim me, at first I did not believe it. How could they mean such a thing? I, Belthazir, the veritable king of the people, called before the Court of Justice? Surely it was a mistake; surely they were about to award me some honor or the title of King. But it was not so. There was no mistake for them, only one for me. The Justices of the Court were growing weary of me. They called me traitor, blasphemer, murderer of the people.

    I denied such charges, but I truly had no say in them. Who could deny the Court of Justice, when its very council had led my country to victory and glory so many times? The lies spread, and poisoned the ears and minds of the people and turned their hearts against me. I could no longer walk down the streets of the Great City and be hailed as a champion. Instead, I was whispered about and shunned; stones were hurled at me and I was chased from my home by fire and sword while my wife and child burned inside.

    My hatred toward the Court grew, but I was powerless. I no longer found favor with the King or his Queen, and my pleas of justice for my wife and son were unheard. How could I stay my hand from my sword in revenge, if no one else would answer my call for retribution?

    I hunted down the dogs that slew my family and killed them in the same way they murdered my beloved and my child. But such an act brought my final fate to fruition.

    The Court of Justice sent soldiers to arrest me. I resisted and they overwhelmed me, beating me with clubs until I lost my senses. I awoke in the town square, bound by iron manacles and locked inside a great cage, like the ones used upon fierce animals. The Justices were reading my crimes and my sentence. For the crimes I had committed, I was to be imprisoned in the cage until Death took me from this life.

    And so they have kept me here, a broken man, provided with food and water, but only enough to keep me from dying immediately. For seven long years I have sat here in this cage, rotting slowly away as the people of this place torment and mock me. My deeds are no longer sung by minstrels; my name is no longer spoken by any. I am a forgotten ghost; a ghost who is still trapped by flesh and blood and bone to this life. I wish to be free. I wish for death.
     
  7. SMcKenzie
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    SMcKenzie Member

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    Hero~1337 words

    “The way I see it, your life is my property,” said Mitch, staring up at the newspaper clippings. He would never forget that day, couldn’t forget that day.

    “Please, this is crazy,” said the man, staring wildly at Mitch from behind the metal bars.

    Mitch didn’t look at him, just kept studying the old papers stapled to the wall. His hand reached up and scratched his mangled cheek. His skin has been really itchy since that day, sometimes making him scream out loud in frustration. He studied the pictures of the building, remembering how the flames consumed it.

    “I have money, lots and lots of money,” said the man, pleading with Mitch, his arms stretched toward him through the bars.

    “Money is meaningless now,” said Mitch, finally directing his eyes toward the man, “maybe at one time, but not anymore.”

    The man breathed deeply, staring at Mitch with a helpless look. Tears began running down his face, his lip quivering as he began to speak again.

    “What did I do? Why am I here?”

    “It’s not really anything that you did, more of what you failed to do.”

    Mitch directed his attention back to the wall, a clipping showing a person wrapped in bandages caught his attention. He reached up and touched the image, his face grimacing. He slowly turned his head back to his prisoner.

    “All I ever wanted was to help people, you know that?” he said, his hand still on the picture, “since I was just a kid, even if it was helping a little old lady cross the street.”

    He ripped the clipping from the wall, trudged toward the cage, and tossed it in with the man.

    “Pick it up and take a look.”

    He did as he was instructed, doing his best not to anger this strange person. He shook his head, staring deeply at the photo.

    “I don’t understand.”

    “Of course you don’t, once your ass was safe, you thought nothing else of it, right?”

    Mitch reached into the cage and snatched back the paper. He examined it again, a small smile crept onto his disfigured face.

    “They told me I was a real hero, made me feel like a million bucks, even though I was in the most intense pain of my life.”

    “Look, this has nothing to do with me, you have to let me go.”

    “This has everything to do with you, don’t you see?”

    The man pressed his body against the metal, looking as pathetic as possible. His hand reached out to Mitch, his voice cracking between words as he spoke.

    “Please tell me what I did, I want to resolve this.”

    Mitch laughed out loud as he stuck the paper back to the wall. He tore another from the collage and walked toward the man. Again, he tossed the photo into the cage.

    “You recognize that building?”

    “I know this building burned down. Just because I lived there doesn’t mean I had anything to do with it!”

    “I could care less how that fire started, that is irrelevant.”

    “Then why do you have me here?”

    “I rescued six people that day. The others refused to go back into the building, told me I was crazy, but I couldn’t give up.”

    “Wait, are you saying what I think you are?”

    “I pulled you from your apartment. You were unconscious when I found you, smoke was everywhere.”

    “You saved my life, I owe everything-”

    “Shut your ****ing mouth, don’t start with that!”

    The man quieted, staring up at the mutilated man.

    “The ceiling collapsed on me when I was bringing out the last. Just a kid, maybe six or seven, her family forgot she was asleep in her room.”

    Mitch paced the room, all the while scratching his face. His emotions were overflowing, his hands shaking.

    “She didn’t make it, she died in my arms while I was burning alive. They did what they could to get me out, everybody thought I was dead already.”

    The man slumped down, resting his head on one of the bars. His mind was full of questions as his rescuer continued ranting.

    “I remember how they told me what a great thing I did, even though the little girl died, I had saved six others. I was fired from the department while I was still in the hospital, told me they couldn’t afford to wait for me anymore. I didn’t have much in this world, but that job kept me going.”

    Mitch grabbed something from the ground and began walking toward the cage again. The smooth skin of his face was glistening in the light.

    As Mitch approached the man, he realized what was in his grasp. He jumped up, ramming his body against the back of the cage, trying to put as much distance as possible.

    “Look, I’m sorry for what happened, I truly am. Don’t do this!”

    “While I was layed up in the hospital, I kept wondering what I was gonna do. They told me that my insurance was refusing to pay, that I had no business running back into a burning building, can you believe that?”

    “That’s terrible, nobody should go through that.”

    “My thoughts exactly. So I wrote letters, wrote them everyday. I sent at least three to you, did you get em?”

    His brow furrowed as he dug into his memory. He slightly recalled getting letters in the mail, but couldn’t remember exactly what they said.

    “I-I can’t remember.”

    Mitch splashed the contents from his jug into the cage, drenching the man from top to bottom.

    “Stop, please stop! I’ll do anything, just stop!”

    “I begged for help, couldn’t figure who else to turn to. I figured if nobody in the world wants to help me, at least six people would. But I was wrong.”

    More splashes of liquid, the smell stinging their nostrils. The man still tried to push himself as far away from Mitch as possible.

    “What can I do to fix this? I can give you anything you want!”

    “I lost everything, my job, my home, all of my belongings. I gave up my life so you people could go on with yours, and for what?”

    “Because you are a good man.”

    “Maybe I used to be, until I saw how things really are. I never got anything back from any of you, not one ****ing letter.”

    The empty jug hit the floor, bouncing on the ground in front of the cage. Mitch reached into his pocket for his matchbook.

    “You let me outta here God damn it! I’m sorry, I’m truly sorry!”

    “I’m not going to kill you, I’m just taking back what I gave you.”

    The crazed look in Mitch’s eyes made the man scream out loud. He looked like an animal, circling the cage, pawing at the bars.

    “Don’t do this!”

    “You would be dead already if it wasn’t for me, I am the reason you are breathing today. The second I needed some help, all was forgotten, is that how it works?”

    “I admit it, I ****ed up. I had the money to spare, but didn’t give it to you because I felt like it wasn’t my problem. I promise I will change, anything you say, just let me out.”

    “That’s funny, that’s what the rest of them said, that they would change. It’s really easy to change when it’s forced on you, isn’t it?”

    His face was lit up as he ran the match across the rough edge, his skin wrinkled and shiny.

    “No! Don’t do it, please!”

    As the match bounced on the floor of the metal cage, Mitch remembered the little girl. He wondered how different things would be if he grabbed her first, left the rest of them to burn.

    As the engulfed man danced in his prison, Mitch walked into the next room. He felt a sense of accomplishment as the five charred bodies came into view. He reached up and scratched his face, then put the barrel of the pistol between his teeth.
     
  8. Silque
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    Silque Member

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    Love is everything.

    You've never felt true pain, until you've had your heart wrenched from your chest, and trampled into the floor with vehemence. You've never felt true loneliness, until you've looked into the eyes of your hero, and in one twinkle, realised, that he's an hero no more.

    My tender heart trembled as I waited with my mother, it trembled, but it had not yet been ripped from it's place of residence, but still, it throbbed and ached and yet, it yearned. Seated in a little booth, just a little higher than the rest of the many people who had gathered there. I let my eyes caress the masses who sat, motionless, waiting like I, waiting for him to enter the courtroom.

    He entered with two guards, who stood either side of him, looking straight forward with stern faces and menacing eyes. He didn't look like an hero; but he was, to me, anyway. The orange jumpsuit was at the other end of the spectrum to what he wore on a regular, normal day. His perfect suits, with his perfect shirts, adorned with his crisp, perfect ties. He carried a briefcase, he got in his car, he drove to work, only to return some hours later to his loving family, to his worshippers.

    As he stood in the square chamber that had been allocated to him, I couldn't take my eyes from his face. His eyes were fixed on the ground; had been since he entered, and again, it was a far flung difference from the usual straight-walking, confident, eyes-looking-forward idol that I had grown accustomed to over the years. His shoulders were hunched over, in turn, wrinkling the orange suit that now adorned his frail body. His face was scratched up and black in patches, he cast a forlorn shadow.

    A man appeared at the front of the room wearing a black robe, and a silly looking wig. He had an hammer in his hand, and after banging it on the desk a couple of times, he uttered "Silence"... The room was still. Filled with emptiness. Nothing.

    I sat, staring at the man who for many years had taken me for walks. Learnt me to ride my bicycle. Taken me fishing. Played soccer with me. Put me on his back and ran around the garden until we both fell over, laughing and aching from the excitement. I sat, staring at the man, the man who in the space of a few minutes, had fallen from grace, and now looked nothing like the hero I had once loved and worshipped.

    The man with the silly wig began to speak, he said words that I did not understand; uttered things that made me wince and grab hold of my mother, who in turn, was crying and trembling. We held each other, tears trickling down our cheeks as we watched, and waited.

    I glanced over at my father; my long lost hero. In a rare moment, he was looking straight at me, with sorrowful, grief-stricken, mournful unease in his eyes, and for the briefest of moments, I felt an hand tug at my heart, as if to pull it from my chest. He blinked, and in return, a little tremor of tears cascaded down his cheek as he slowly returned his glance to the floor. My hero; no more.

    There was some commotion in the room; a young woman had screamed something at my father, who in turn had shied away from the insults and the accusations. I wanted to stop that woman, I wanted her to stop screaming at my hero. He was still my hero; I loved him.

    After order was restored, and the young woman was back in her seat. The man with the silly wig began to speak.

    "John Clayton - you have been charged with murder of the 1st degree; how do you plead?".


    My father gradually moved his glance from the floor, and looked towards the judge.

    "Guilty, your honour. Guilty..."


    He broke down into tears.

    "Mr Clayton; after hearing all stories, seeing all evidence, I think it's clear to all just what you are capable of doing. You strike me as being a very clever, cold, remorseless man. And by doing what you did; by taking a meat cleaver to your wifes throat...and...by taking an hammer to the head of your nine year old son. Well, I can only give you the most terrible sentence that I can think of...House arrest; in the house that you and your family shared for so long. You will remove nothing. NOTHING! You will have no provisions, only the basic, most fundamental ingredients for you to sustain. You will be surrounded by pictures of your family. Your son; your wife. You will forever live with this heinous, terrible crime. And should you think of ever, ever trying to escape from your sordid little grief hole, then you will be returned swiftly by the many guards that will patrol your house".


    "Noooooo! Give me death! I want to say sorry to my family..."

    The hammer banged down for a last time.

    I looked up at my mothers face. It was littered with gaping, yawning wounds which sliced down her once pretty face. Blood oozed from the orifices and trickled down onto her summer dress, that she had been wearing on that da...

    ...I shot my hand towards my face, quickly trying to feel for my nose, eye sockets and...no, all gone. My face had been caved in, smashed, shattered, ruined by my once loving hero.

    As he was helped from the booth in which he was chained, I saw the look on his face. Tears rolled down his cheeks and he looked up tentatively towards me...No, he wasn't looking at me. He couldn't have been.

    A man was trying to get past the people who were seated next to us, but without even motioning for me to get up, he walked straight through my legs, and passed by as if we just weren't there.

    I sat there, with my mother, in silence. The room was empty now and the lights had been turned off. The darkness engulfed us. We held each others hand. We were scared. We didn't know where we were. We knew why we were here, but we didn't know where we were.

    We wanted our hero. We forgave him. We still loved him. No; he was my hero no more. Why had he done it? Why?

    I kissed my mother on the cheek, and we drifted slowly, slowly away, into the darkness.
     
  9. Andrius
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    Andrius Member

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    His face is pale; his protection from the harsh cold is only a thin blanket from the trash can. He doesn’t know where to go or what to do, his hope is completely lost. All he can do is sit there and hope that someone will give him at least a penny for his survival of this harsh world. People of all sort of nationalities walk past him like he’s not even there, like no one needs him. He’s like an invisible spec in this huge busy world while the people completely ignore him and let him suffer there alone, completely disserted. Thought our story starts of an absolutely different perspective. A boy named Jack lives in a rejected violent family; his dad is an alcoholic and never has any respect for him or his mum. What leads Jack to doing puts him in to a critical situation in which he must use all his intellectual and physical powers to survive the greatest fight for survival.


    It was always like this, go do that, wash this, do your homework. I always hated dad, he always shouted at me and never gave me a chance to speak and he wasn’t good with mum either. Mum was nice, caring and always helped me in difficult times while Dad didn’t do anything; he just sat there on the couch and watched TV. I certainly knew that I was born in the worst family that I have ever known.

    It was a bright and sunny day, birds were singing and the grass was as fresh and glittering from the sunshine. I just came from school; I muddled in my pockets until I found my keys and got them out, I started to put the key inside the hole while a thought rushed through my mind and a big sad sigh appeared. I walked in and was petrified. Mum was lying there with a big bruise on her cheek, “What the hell happened here?” I shouted out in a nervous loud voice. Dad replied “None of your bloody business Jack go to your room right now!” in a very mad way; his eyes were filled with pure rage. I couldn’t believe how violent Dad was until this right moment but I couldn’t do anything about it either. I was in their house and if I protested it would definitely get me in serious trouble. I hurriedly ran to my room with a felling of rage and hopelessness, I forcefully slammed my door and sat on the bed while drop of tears shed through my eyes. I couldn’t believe how dad could do such a thing. That was just outrageous. I knew what was coming next; I knew that I couldn’t stay in this forsaken family forever and I needed to do something, so I did.

    I woke up as the alarm went off; a bright sunshine hit my face as I looked at the clock, and so it was 6.00am. I sat on the bed thinking for a few minutes. “Should I do it?”
    I’ve looked around the room to see what I could bring. I knew I had to take my saved money which was supposed to be the money to buy that long wished PS3 but this wasn’t the time. It was time to decide to stay in this hell hole or to look for a new life, a better future. I took my school bag and my money; I wore the warmest clothes I could. My parents were still sleeping so I carefully opened my creaky door and sneaked out of the room. I’ve also left a note in the kitchen saying “I’m sorry but I think…this is not the place for me to make my future. I’m leaving behind all my feelings here and now. I love you mom and please don’t ever listen to Dad, he never knew how hard it was for me. Your much loving son, Jack” as I opened the front door a sad thought rushed through my head like a dagger “You’re going to regret it” but something was telling me to do it, it felt like I had two personalities. I smashed my head against the door, “You’re going to regret this if you stay here anyway!” I slowly opened the door and ran out of my only shelter or so I called it now. The cold breeze went through my skin as a chilling experience. I never felt this way, like I was independent, like it all started to come along. My first step into a better future has been made, and what lies ahead is a mystery but I can’t turn back, I must always look forward. As I crossed over the gate, the sun light up my face and I was thrilled to be free.

    Does it count?
     
  10. Lyssa
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    Lyssa Member

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    Word count: 663

    A Daughter's Hero



    “Lindy, you have to let me go. It is time,” he said, in a voice that was barely above a whisper. At his words my eyes filled with tears. I didn’t know how, though, I’d cried so much over the past week I figured my body had just….ran out. I looked through the window, where the rain had made the world as wet as my face felt. I wrapped my hand around my father’s and laying back next to him, I became a child again.
    Memories flashed by me, and through me. I was 3 and falling off the swing before I was ready, but he was there to catch me. Or I was 5 and scared to death of school, but he promised it would be ok, and he was right. I was 7 and covered in scars from learning to ride a bike, but I also had a grin a mile wide cause I could do it. Then I was 10, my first plane ride, holding his hand the whole time. Or I was 13 and off to my first dance, and then I was 14 and off to my first date, out until 10 but he stayed up anyway….he always stayed up anyway. I was 16 smiling for my driver’s license picture. And then suddenly I was 18, graduating with honors and driving away for college. And 24 and falling in love, watching him cry at my wedding and again when his first granddaughter was born, a perfect pink baby.

    But now he was dying. I was 48 and perfectly capable of being on my own. But that didn’t mean I wanted to be on my own. Suddenly, I began to talk, remembering some of my fondest memories of him, “ Do you remember when I was 4 and we went canoeing on the lake? And it was so windy, so the canoe flipped and I fell. I was flailing around screaming and crying, and you jumped in to save me? We swam to the shore, me clinging to you the whole time? Or do you remember when I was 7 and I had to have my tonsils out? I was so scared, but I fell asleep with you right there, and I woke up with you there too? And you never left me once unless I was asleep?” I sighed, a shuddering breath. It was so silent I could hear the heartbeat of the clock, and the machines beeping were the loudest noise. ‘Tell me why you called me Linda,” I said just like I used to when I was little and he was tucking me into the night.

    I could feel him smile and he began to talk, “ You were my first little girl after your 3 brothers, and I loved you from the moment I saw. You were screaming at the world and I knew you’d be a strong baby. And of course, your name was a big deal, but the moment I saw your beautiful blue eyes I knew you were Linda. And so you were my Lindy.”

    I smiled, but that made me cry even harder. We lay there for a while until I could hear him fall asleep. I got up slowly, but as soon as I did his heart rate became a long bleep and I stood there, frozen with fear. There was a blur of doctors and nurses around him suddenly, but I knew. I knew he was gone.

    An hour later the doctors knew too. I wasn’t allowed in his room, but that wasn’t stopping me. I walked in and gave him a kiss on the cheek, “ I love you, Daddy.”
    I knew he was watching over me, a smile on his face. I also knew he wasn’t a real hero. But to me he was, and I knew he’d say that’s all that mattered. So I kissed him one more time, a silent goodbye to my fallen hero.
     
  11. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    Classified Files of A "Hero"~~~Words:2,190

    Classified Files of “Hero”

    I hear several of their voices at night. Several at a time. Their constant bickering and their constant changing of the plan. Their constant hitting and slapping each other. At times I see their figures walking around in the kitchen or anywhere in my home. Sometimes they just turned around and stare at me.
    “Watcha up to sonny,” Don would ask me.
    I know he's dead, but he somehow seems to always talk to me. But I cannot even reply to him. Because I know he's an hallucination.

    But then again the thoughts of the kitchen and the thoughts of the hallucinations are hallucination in a way too. I'm more strapped to a padded room these days. Given medication to help the bending of reality and unreality. They say the monsters we fought together never existed. And that I am just having trouble coping with their death. Even several of the others who fought the invading aliens threw me in here. I don't really care. I talk to counselors and I talk to shock therapy. That's when the memories come back the most.

    I fight maybe just a little against them bringing me to the shock room. Only cause I don't want to forget the things we have Don and Sherry and me. Of course there were others, but I don't trust them enough any more. The pain of everything being buzzed through my head is tremendous and when they say things like, “It will all be over” or “It will be okay”
    Are their brain cells being fried? I don't think so.

    I don't know if this even makes much sense to you little does it make any sense to me. I just write what's important in my daily life. I guess being shocked and seeing hallucinations is the most important thing. But then a thought occurred to me as I sat on here. If it is true that I have powers and that I fought villains, then why do I let this happen to me?

    Oddly enough I stopped writing and now covered in blood I am writing again. It feels kind of nice to get revenge. It will be okay, it won't hurt you that much. It kind of feels good to be in power. I think I will use this against my fellow friends. I have forgotten the fleeting feeling power felt like.
    I think I'll start writing again when I have killed enough of the ones that threw me in that mental asylum.
     
  12. Luminous
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    Luminous Member

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    Your New Home

    [597 words]

    During your service, someone asked me why a hero’s death was always so romantic. You saved the world, or you fell in slow motion to the ground with the sun on your face and a smile in the sky. She thought it was cliché. I could only argue its logic, how one would end his life with style if given the choice. She didn’t speak to me again. You deserved someone to stand up for you, especially in your absence. Common curtesy, you could call it. It was beautiful, you know, how you died. Poetic.

    Flowers cascaded the walls and scented the room with a lovely fragrance. People dressed in black entered slowly and cautiously, some laughing, some chatting, and even more crying. One by one, they claimed seats along the church benches to either side of the cathedral, carefully placing their belongings underneath and readjusting their dress bottoms as they sat. I sat in the back, knowing you wouldn’t mind. All the world’s a stage, and that night I would be your audience.

    The service was perfect. So many people cared about you, a lot you probably weren’t aware of, so many that there was never a shortage of speakers. So many stories were told in that hour, heroic stories, love stories, death stories, and funny stories. I laughed many times; I cried a few, also.
    The sun peaked as they carried you away, and as you were swept down the aisle, a ray of light shone onto the wood of your casket through enormous stained glass windows. The light turned into a rainbow of color, and I stared in awe. This is what death should be. For you, this was reality, and after hearing those stories, I was envious. However, it wasn’t my day.

    They lowered you into the ground, leaving you to rest surrounded by more flowers, sunlight, and warm, green grass. I didn’t know if that’s what you wanted, but it was so calming, I couldn’t imagine you upset. A few people who didn’t know you well cleared the cemetary with a small, sad nod towards your family. A tear fell down my cheak when I saw them, their completely genuine sadness. I could barely bring myself to look at such sadness. It was so pure and real, nothing like what I was used to. My world rotted away from corruption and decay, but yours gleamed with hope. That escape would be the highlight of my year, and I already knew it. I wish I could thank you for that, properly. I would look you in the eye, smile with more emotion than I could muster, and shake your hand. Being the gentleman you are, you would say how I was welcome anytime. Maybe we would be friends.

    As a final gesture, I walked to your family’s side, water filling my eyes as well as theirs, and expressed my great sorrow for their loss. One of them, an older woman, extended her hand, allowing me to cup it in my own. She said she was your mother, and I smiled. We stood for long moments, silent, until the woman who was your mother spoke.

    “We are very greatful for you and everyone who came.” she said, barely managing the words from her tear damaged voice, “How did you know my son?”

    Sullenly, I smiled a sad smile and released her hand.
    “I didn’t.”

    With those final words, I left, giving one glance back to your new home. In the next life, we will have more time.
    It was a pleasure meeting you, stranger.
     
  13. Idiot
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    Idiot New Member

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    [737] - The Dancing Ferret

    The other day I woke up, and took a piss right outside my cardboard box. It was freezing outside and I was pissing out blood, or maybe it was ketchup, I don't know. I do know it hurt coming out. So while I was standing there, next to my home, my cardboard box, pissing out blood, or maybe it was ketchup, or maybe it was red wine, I was thinking about this girl, this stripper, who worked at The Dancing Ferret, this club I used to frequent when I did a lot of drugs. I stumbled into the place one night with a gun in my back pocket and a poopeating grin on my face. I was smiling because I felt that I just did a good deed. Well, I guess now, I should explain the deed.

    Earlier that very night, I was leaving the local bodega after picking up my pack of cigarettes, and all of a sudden this man was in front of me. No it wasn't a man, just a kid, just a youngen, standing there in front of me. I didn't realize it at first, but the kid was holding a gun. He wasn't pointing it at me, he was just holding it in his, like in an open palm, looking at me, shaking. The kid looks around then he says "Sorry, excuse me sir, it's not mine I promise, look, I jus-I just don't know what to do with it. I don't know what to do."

    The kid was scared out of his mind. He was moving the gun around in his hands, he didn't even know how to hold it. I was worried about the poor kid, he looked no older than 14 and he was running around with a gun. I didn't say anything for a while but I didn't leave, I looked him right in the eyes. The kid says "I just don't know what to do."

    "Just give it to me, I'll take care of it"

    So that night I walked into The Dancing Ferret with a gun in my back pocket and a grin on my face. I did a good deed, and dancing tonight was this girl, my girl, my stripper, who went under the stage name Barbie, she was my favorite. I always liked to talk to her while I was there, she liked Star Wars, like me, and I liked to hang out with her and get bombed. I sat at the bar and ordered myself a drink, waiting for her to get off stage. As I was sitting there I farted a strong and powerful fart. I thought it was going to be quiet but it wasn't. It felt like I was farting out bullets, like there was gunpowder in my butt. I guess it was the combination of having a gun in my pocket, gas, and alcohol in my system.

    When Barbie got off stage she came right over to me and we got talking. Every time I was with her, she would talk about how she wanted to be a female professional wrestler, which I thought was a very odd dream but she was quite adamant about it. The night went on and I got a few lap dances from her. But she would bring up her dream as much as possible, I felt bad for her, I really knew this girl well, I wanted her to have what she wants. I was really drunk too, but I don't regret what I did. Doing good deeds made me feel great. I went over to the ATM, took out my full savings, 1,500 dollars, and gave it to her. I gave it to her so she could pursue her dream.

    So, now I'm where I am now. After giving all that money to Barbie she left, moved away, she went out of her way to say bye. It was hard for her to find me, I really give her credit for that. She had to look me up in the phone book. She said she was moving out to Florida or something, to be trained to be a wrestler. I had no money to pay for next month's rent. So now I live in a cardboard box across the street from burger king. I'm a little bit delusional. As I said, sometimes my bodily functions don't seem to release the proper things. I sometimes think I'm literally pooping bricks.
     
  14. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    George (1300 words)

    George (1300 words)



    The first night I met George, I was working as a manager at the Bronco Brooke apartments in San Antonio, Texas. He was the latest in a long line of short lived security guards. Our complex was located near the local university and, as such, was occupied primarily by young students. The young residents' constant partying and hate of authority caused most of the over-worked guards to quit after their first month.

    That night, as I was checking him in, I paused to take a good look at the guy. He was middle aged, overweight, wore glasses, and had a funny sounding voice. 'This guy is toast', I had thought, 'he'll not last three weeks.' I have never been more wrong about a person.

    Days became weeks, weeks became months, and George was still there. Night after night he came back, always smiling, ready to check in and watch over the complex. He was good too; parties were broken up, fights avoided, theft rates plummeted. I began to believe that we'd finally had a stroke of good luck and gotten a guard who was worth his salt.

    As time passed George and I got to know each other better. He was married, had no children, and was a former state trooper from Louisiana. He had a few health issues which, from time to time, required him to take a break from his patrols, but he never missed his hourly rounds and never called in sick. I grew to like him quite a bit.

    Sometimes, we would sit outside after doing rounds and just talk. His wife had some mental issues, and was constantly leaving him. He loved her and was constantly taking her back. He'd light another cigarette and tell me, through a cloud of smoke, that this time was the last. I think we had that very conversation a dozen times.

    One night, while walking, I asked him why he left he force in Louisiana. He fell silent and his cheery demeanor seemed to fade. “I got tired of working there. I, um, decided to retire.” He flatly replied. I didn't buy that excuse. I pried a bit more.

    “There was this one night”, he began, “years ago. I was in pursuit of a robbery suspect.” We stopped walking. “He was in his early twenties, and had hit a stop-n-rob on the outskirts of Baton Rouge. I was the nearest unit, so I was the first on scene.”

    “You catch him?” I asked.

    “Yeah, yeah. I was the first and only guy there. We didn't know if he was armed, but the store owner had seen him run off into a field.” The inflections were different now; he seemed pained by the memory. I'd never heard George sound like this. “I spotted him and took off chasing after the guy.” His words trailed off.

    “So... he got away?” I asked in a tone that betrayed my doubt.

    “No.” He ran his hands through his short hair. “You gotta realize that it'd been a long week. It was the end of my shift. I was tired. You do things that you wouldn't normally do when you get like that. All tired and on edge.”

    I started to ask what happened, but he continued.

    “He was getting away. I wasn't as fast as the kid, and I didn't know where we were going. Without thinking, I drew my weapon and fired.” There was a pause. “I didn't want to kill him, just stop the guy, you know?”

    I didn't say anything. I mean, what do you say at a time like that?

    “I missed. I was too tired to shoot straight, and it was dark.”

    I breathed a sigh of relief.

    “The kid stopped running and surrendered, but my precinct chief. He asked why my weapon had been discharged. The force was feeling a budget crunch and we'd recently taken some bad press from a SWAT raid that had gone to the wrong address...”

    “So they asked you to resign?”

    He nodded. “But once that's on your record, no department will hire you. Private security firms are your only option.” Disgrace was palatable on the last words as he spoke them. We finished the round in silence and said our goodbyes for the night.

    George had previously shown me some of the awards he had received while working in Louisiana. It amazed me that a decorated officer like him could make such a poor decision. That he could lose his job like a common screw up. He was a hot-headed guy who had allowed himself to get carried away and then over-react. It had caught up to him and landed him in a menial rent-a-cop job. How the mighty had fallen.

    ***​

    There comes point in every relationship, where you see who a person really is. When people react without thought, and a person's true nature shines through. That night for George and I, was December 12, 2008. I was on call, George was on patrol, and midterms were looming. Exhausted by an all-nighter, I was midway through my thermodynamics study guide when the office phone rang. I answered to find a frightened resident reporting that someone was trying to break into her apartment.

    I sprang into action and darted out the door. While en route, I dialed George on my cell and reported the call. I reached the building and paused to collect myself before rounding the corner. The pounding of boot colliding with door pierced the night. The assailant said nothing, gave no clues who they were, or why they were there. Just a steady rhythm of kicks.

    The door frame shattered. A woman screamed. There was no time to wait for backup. Foolishly, I dashed up the steps and in the broken door. Inside, a tall man was holding a young woman by her neck. He wanted the money he said. We later learned she was a petty drug dealer, and that the assault was, somehow, connected with business.

    “Let her go.” I demanded. The guy was twice my size. A chihuahua confronting a great dane. He tossed the girl aside. She fell awkwardly through the dinning room table. The suspect swiftly pulled a pistol from his pant line and aimed at me. I ducked out the door. He followed.

    Before I knew what was happening, I was backed against the hand rail, a pistol to my head. The man was saying something, but it didn't register in my mind. I was about to die. I closed my eyes. There was a series of rapid footsteps. A groan. Loud impacts down the stairs. A single shot. I opened my eyes to see George on the ground, the dazed suspect pinned below him.

    While my eyes were closed George had come up the opposite steps and tackled the suspect. They had both fallen down the stairs, and at some point, the pistol had discharged.

    “George?” I called, “are you alright!”

    “I got 'em buddy.” he responded weakly. His arms moved clumsily through the well practiced routine of drawing his handcuffs and securing the wrists of the suspect. “Call an ambulance.” His head fell limp onto the sidewalk. Blood began to pool under his shoulder.

    Chris Deleon was arrested for, and later convicted of, one count breaking an entering and two counts aggravated assault. I visited George several times in the hospital while he was recovering. A week after the innocent he excitedly called me over to his bed side table where he proudly held up a box with a white velvet lining.

    Inside it was the Louisiana State Trooper's Association metal of valor. His old precinct chief had heard about his heroics and nominated him for the award. The smile in his eyes revealed years of shame melting away. He had been redeemed.
     
  15. nativesodlier
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    nativesodlier Member

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    Fresno, CA
    [641 words]

    “The Later days”
    Where are they now?​

    In a large field filled with toppled carriages, fallen soldiers and the chard remains of what use to be a small village, through the smoke and fog, a figure sat upon his horse. Galloping at full speed, they barreled towards a large, wooden fort that lay about a half mile away. Large, flaming boulders launched from behind the fort walls, and smashed around the figure hitting just a few feet behind him singeing the horses tail. Still, they came. Another boulder ripped apart the rest of an already destroyed carriage sending splinters of wood in all directions. The man ripped a large piece out of his shoulder that found its way between the flanks in his armor. Blood poured from the wound, but he did not slow. He reached inside one of the horses satchels pulling out a length of cloth, and wrapped it around the gash.

    His horse grew tired. A simple mistake yes, but the mans experience told him that this was unacceptable. He unlatched the satchel and heaved himself forward,off the horse, landing in a roll and carrying at full speed when his feet hit the ground again. A moment later the horses backside was smashed flat against the earth by a flaming boulder, while the rest of it burned alive.

    Still he came

    He was in closer range now, the boulders stopped. The arrows began. An endless stream came over the wall like a solid rainbow of brown and silver landing only a few hundred yards out. One after another arrows shattered against his dark plated, armored chest, bits flying to either side like the parting of the red sea. Still he advanced. Unwavering, unshakable, he came closer and closer no slowing in his step, no change in his stride. His target was now in arms reach and he would not fall now.

    A voice boomed loudly over the chaos demanding the bridge be raised, and the bridge began to raise. At that moment the man leaped with all his might and landed a hand on the edge of the partially raised bridge gripping tight. with a quick swipe of his sword the lines were cut, and the bridge came crashing back down.

    The dust cleared.

    Soldiers arms fell limp, many dropping their weapons in disbelief, as the man walked slowly across the moat coming ever closer. There was nothing the soldiers within the fort could do but wait.

    They stood. they waited, watching from the tops of the high walls.

    He walked up to the door and disappeared out of view

    A cold, dead silence.

    A knock.

    A soldier cautiously slid open the peep hole

    “Mighty Knights pizza delivery.” the knight said, producing some boxes from his satchel, “I got your hog meat and goat cheese pizzas hot and ready for you.” He looked at his wrist and faced north. “and only five minutes to spare. That will be eight gold pieces.”

    The soldier dug into his belt pouch and payed the knight, opening a larger slot to accept the delivery.

    “have a great day.” the knight said as he trudged back towards the flaming wreckage from which he came.
    “yeah you too.” the soldier said. He turned to another soldier with a disappointed look on his face,“That's the third time this week! We use to be able to make them as late as we wanted, but ever since they hired that.......that GUY, we always end up paying.” the soldier kicked the the gate in frustration, “who the hell is he anyways?”
    “no one special I don't think. I heard he goes by the Black Knight. Use to be some kind of adventurer or something I dunno. Who cares, lets eat.”

    They opened the boxes and began to eat.
     
  16. de_budding
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    de_budding New Member

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    The Tragic Hero

    The Tragic Hero
    [2958]

    ‘… and in local news: a third robbery this fortnight has the residents of St. Ives concerned and upset with local authorities.
    ‘That’s right Colet. Over the last fortnight there have been two break-ins reported from Abbotts Crescent and a third, reported last night, from Spinney Way. More importantly though, is that this third robbery confirms suspected trends. Namely, that the perpetrators are targeting elderly residents, and that all break-ins have occurred shortly after midnight.’
    ‘So how will authorities begin tackling what my producer insists we dub The Midnight Pension Pilferers?’
    ‘Well, PC Walker has released a statement that: “crimes of this magnitude take time to process strategically.” And furthermore, that “authorities don’t want to risk anything, and as such will not be releasing further reports or strategies until next month.’
    ‘That will be the last thing residents will want to hear. Any idea what has prompted such procrastination in the face of public unrest and turmoil?’
    ‘Honestly, no. It is always suspect under such circumstances when police don’t act immediately and, to be quite frank, the public consider it the actions of a police force that have no idea what to do. If they want to maintain the trust of St. Ives they will have to confirm some preventative measures’-
    -‘and quickly.’ The reporter chuckled, lightening the tone in preparation for the sign-off…
    ‘Well that’s it from us tonight; you can catch us tomorrow morning at 6:00 with the Breakfast News’-
    -‘Where we will have the latest updates and weather… Thanks for watching, this has been the Ten O’clock News; I’ve been Dick Masters-
    -‘and I’ve been Colet Linley’
    “Good Night” both reporters announced in unison as the studio lights dimmed.
    Stevie always liked to watch the anchors fiddle and rummage through their papers, feigning conversation as the music faded in. But on this occasion Stevie’s dad, eager to get him to bed, launched off the sofa and practically destroyed the ‘off’ button in another of his enthusiastic attempts to be authoritative. ‘Bed. Now!’ He bellowed, hands on hips glaring down at Stevie, whose attention was elsewhere as he stared into the now black TV screen. ‘Stevie?! Did you hear what I said? Bed mister!’ But it was no good, once Stevie had the glazed look in his eyes it was tough to get anything out of him; Stevie just sat staring, his lips mouthing in awe and amazement the words: ‘Midnight Pension Pilferers’.
    When Stevie’s attention was finally drawn away from the all so intriguing idea of super villains – with proper super villain names n’all – his father was most the way through a countdown… to what, though, Stevie had no clue. ‘3… 2… 1… That’s it!’
    ‘Argh! Dad!’ Screamed Stevie as his Dad’s shovel-hands loomed over him.
    ‘Too late now son’ proclaimed Dad as he grabbed then man-handled Stevie up the stairs over one shoulder, Stevie squealing and giggling all the way. That was Stevie’s favourite thing about his Dad, every disciplinary action eventually crumbled into fits of laughter or play fighting, regardless of the charges.

    Once Dad had tucked him in and retired to his own bed, Stevie set about gingerly untucking himself, handling the sheets with care so not to make a sound. Once free, he sat on the end of his bed, leafing through one of his 1,212 Mysterion comics, eyes glistening with excitement: he’d hatched another plan.
    Mum was out that night ‘till two in morning and Stevie remembered this, it would be important; it was the reason his Dad had let him stay up ‘till so late, and the reason he’d got to see the Ten O’clock News until the end, regardless of being only eleven. However, it meant something much more important, Mum was yet to come home: the door would be unlocked.
    Stevie listened for his Dad’s sleepy wheezing to turn into snoring while he quietly ransacked his wardrobe, flinging odds and ends over his shoulder. ‘Where’s it?’ he pondered, it just wouldn’t be the same without it, and who ever heard of a- ‘Yesss’ Stevie hissed to himself as he extracted and examined his Mysterion cape, which was a highly luminous green considering the stealthy persona portrayed in all the comics. Stevie put them on immediately, still waiting, until… ‘Snoooooooore.’ It was time.

    Making his way downstairs in the exact style of Mysterion, or at least what felt like the exact style, he avoided the squeaky steps and banister. He made it to the bottom undetected where he paused anxiously. There wasn’t a noise or anything to prompt it, but Stevie did feel that a dramatic pause made for good hero-ing. He stood like this for a good few seconds before motioning to an imaginary sidekick using SAS hand signals he’d learnt from the telly.
    In the kitchen he got a piece of note paper off the table and found a pen in the jumble-draw (a draw for all things drawless). He made a plan:

    .Cach Midnit Penson Pilfers
    .Take To Police Stashun
    .Collect Reward

    Satisfied with his efforts Stevie procured a packet of smokey bacon crisps from the larder and checked the clock - 11:20pm - before making for the door. It creaked open to reveal a black, still night; chilly on account of the cloudless sky and windless. ‘Favouring conditions’ he thought before taking that first adventure filled step outside. No time to waste, he made for Spinney Way, walking to the end of his own driveway then heading out onto the high street.
    It was calm, noted Stevie, glaring up at street lamps as they arched miles above. You could probably see the whole world from up there, but there really was no practical means by which he could ascend- he’d always said life would be easier if he was a giant. And as for the atmosphere… well, if nothing else, Stevie was disappointed. He’d expected much more wolf-baying, or at least for the wind to whistle and groan like ghosts through some reeds or something. But then he realised, halting himself in his tracks. It was all so obvious, and it certainly called for his best shifty-eyes impersonation for, if nothing else: ‘It’s too quiet.’ Whispered Stevie to himself…

    -------

    Something foul must be afoot, the air hangs too thin tonight and even nature had taken its leave: no birds, no wolves, no cats… not even a badger. Something must be near, something stomach-churning, something so fiercely grotesque that even the wind had found somewhere to hide. It was too quiet. All of a sudden I daren’t explore too far, and now I was out of Dad’s eye shot there was really no need to rush, I’d left plenty of time and something was abrewing in the air tonight.
    First I heard it: its foot steps resonating from beyond the dark end of the street. Then I smelt it: it smelt like toilets and swamps. So before long my nerves got the best of me and I hid in the bushes outside number 12: 12 was a good number, a safe number and, above all, the smallest composite number with exactly six devisors. Here I could at least wait in cover until I had some idea what was coming. I always favoured the advantage that surprise offered.
    Under cover I waited on my knees, I could smell the beast’s stench more than ever but its mighty footsteps had ceased some while ago. Fearless, I enquired, parting the leaves that obscured my view to investigate.
    Confronted with a wall of rotten fur my eyes began to water. Matted, sticky fur as far as I could see up or down… what was I to do? Or… what would Mysterion do? Well that was easy: improvise. Calculate trajectories and angles; whittle and fashion, think then act. Sadly, however, my bushy covert had little on offer in the way of resources... but there was this one sharp stick. I snapped it away from its branch without thinking: ‘SNAP!’ the stick protested… I froze… waiting for the creatures murderous suspicions to die away.
    It felt like hours, even days before I’d mustered up the courage to turn around and see if the wall of fur remained, I sure could still smell it and still and no idea exactly what is was. I turned my head, followed cautiously by shoulders and body with stake in hand, and there it was. Perhaps the largest eye in existence, blood shot and full of demonic hatred. I saw its gargantuan pupil dilate as it focused in on me. I knew then my time was short and if I didn’t act now I wouldn’t be acting at all; it began to growl, baring its teeth as I steadied the stake and readied my aim.

    -------

    ‘Honey? You awake, love?’ Mr. Simpson shook his wife, there was urgency in his voice.
    ‘mmm? Wah?’ mumbled Mrs. Simpson as she fell back to slumber.
    ‘Christine!’
    ‘What?! I’m up’
    ‘I heard something. There was a terrible screaming and yelping, we need to alert the neighbourhood watch and take a look. Come on, they will kill us if we don’t and there’s another break in.’
    Mr. and Mrs. Simpson – the wolf keepers – made their way to what used to be their son, Tristan’s, room. Mr. Simpson got to the window first, which overlooked the high street, but was rushing downstairs and out the door with a ‘sh*t!’ before Mrs. Simpson was even fully in the room. She took a look, shaking on approached before first seeing her husband slamming the front door behind him, sprinting like a madman, and then seeing why and whereto. Mr. Simpson ran over the road to number 12, falling on his knees next to the favourite of all Mrs. Simpsons’ labradors, Miffy.
    Miffy seemed still, but Mr. Simpson was obstructing her view, arched over the dog. What she did see, however, was blood streaming toward the gutter. Her heart apprehensive, Mrs. Simpson watched as her husband cradled their dog back to the house before abandoning her watch post and making for the stairs, meeting her husband at the door. The sight she was met with was appalling by any standards: Miffy was dead in Mr. Simpson’s arms; a 12inch stake forced most the way through her left eye.

    -------

    I’d barely made my escape from the wretched beast and was still trembling with the excitement of hero-ing. But I had to move, blood on my hands or not. It wouldn’t be long before the Midnight Pension Pilferers found their monster dead, and the last things I needed was their alerting, so, checking the plan and adjusting my cape, I sped off.
    I ran for some time, and just as a stitch started to develop in my side I saw – “Spinney Way” – the sign was dirty, but now I knew it would soon be time, so I slowed, allowing time for reflection; always a good idea before any sort of showdown. As I paced the last few hundred meters I couldn’t help but feel the silence of the night shift. It was still a calm and quiet night but no longer too quiet. It was now more of a haunting silence, a foretelling silence compared to earlier; a bad omen? Worse still, the street lighting was getting weaker and the moon’s glow phasing on and off as clouds drifted across its face. For a moment I thought I heard the sound of wood being dropped on paving.
    Walking I caught what remained of my breath before reaching the sign, I wasted no time making for cover in some conifers while I scoped out some more plausible vantage points, I knew They would be close, and there was no room for error now.
    Amongst all the houses and shrubbery Number 32’s garage roof was perhaps the best vantage, from there at least I’d be able to see the whole width of Spinney Way, and if I lied flat I would be as good as invisible.
    As luck would have it, number 32 had left their car parked close enough to the garage so I could clamber unto the bonnet; walk onto the car roof; and from there pull myself onto the garage.
    Once up, I was about twelve foot off the ground and able to see the entire width of Spinney Way despite the low light. It was your classic, flat garage roof with that rough black covering and few protruding nails which kept catching my cape, but none the less a perfect hide out. I checked the plan one last time before-
    ‘Dong… Dong… Dong…’
    The clock tower, only about a quarter mile south, began to strike twelve and I smiled, this must have been about the third ‘12’ tonight, which could only mean good things: 12 was a safe number. With an almighty volume, filling the whole town with its atonal hum the bells rang out. You couldn’t hear a thing over it… but you could just after.
    Each ‘Dong’ was followed by an uncanny glistening sound… like… like glass breaking!
    ‘Ah ha!’ I proclaimed standing to my feet, index finger raised; pointing to the heavens authoritatively (that’s how Dad would have done it). A clever plan to mask the sounds of injustice which explained why the break-ins had been so consistently timed but not so clever that-
    My attention was stolen by a menacing troop of masked men as they stormed towards me. I was so inspired by own hero-ing that I forgot to hold my cover- amateur mistake- but it was too late now.
    ‘Dong…’
    Three doors down and still advancing, the posse were all wielding baseball bats and donning the most intimidating balaclavas I’d ever seen. But, I couldn’t lose my nerve now. I drew in as big of a breath as my lungs could hold: I had to let them know who I was and they’d soon be off.
    ‘Dong…’
    ‘In the name of Mysterion, cease and desist!’ They paused, hesitating momentarily to exchange confused glances, lulling me into a false sense of accomplishment; for a moment I surely thought they would turn and run… but what did I expect, these were the Midnight Pension Pilferers, not some no-good band of hoodlums. It was going to take more.
    ‘Dong…’
    One raised his bat pointing the tip towards me and I caught his gaze as he did, he harboured more hate than the foul beast they’d set on me.
    ‘Cease and desist!’ I screamed, startling myself: the tone of my own voice had allowed the seriousness of the situation to dawn on me.
    ‘Dong…’
    Following one other’s example the small mob burst in to a jog
    ‘Dong…’
    This was bad, really bad. Had things gone too far again like Dad warned?.. No! I must concentrate, now was time. I reminded myself: If one doesn’t act one is forced to react and that is no good way to take up arms. I’d have to make my dismount quick, wait for them to start to climb then descend. Meeting the ground before them would secure an advantage for now.
    ‘Dong…’
    The boom and rattle of the tin garage door was loud and made me jump as the first of the Pilferers crashed into it and ascended clumsily, dropping his bat on the way; lights were illuminating in windows close by.
    I readied myself. I turned away from him. I eyed the ground for a second and then glanced over my shoulder at the sight all four men now clambering upwards. I gave them a smile over my shoulder before jumping down… I could have sworn I heard a rip.

    -------

    …And in news: a local autistic boy was found dead last night after reports were filed by his father that he was missing.
    ‘Yes that’s right Dick, the boys father phoned police after he was himself phoned by neighbours warning him that a dog had been attacked then killed the same night. Presuming the Midnight Pension Pilferers to be responsible, Neighbourhood Watch associates acted fast, warning and alerting neighbours.’
    ‘And their quick actions certainly paid off. Subsequently the Pilferers where found climbing on garage roofs down Spinney Way in the early hours of this morning by both residents and local police-‘
    ‘-who’d been alerted in plenty of time.’
    ‘Arrests were made then and there in front of a small cheering crowd and the gang are now being held by police on three accounts of breaking and entering; damage to public property; criminal damage, and, the charge which has shocked police most: the killing of a local dog which had escaped home that night; most likely being attacked after trying to alert its owners to the gang’s presence.’
    ‘But, tragically, investigations had to be halted three hours after arrests were made this morning as the body of an eleven year old boy was discovered behind the same garage which the gang were found scaling. Officials have reported that the cause of death is speculated to be a fall from the roof, based on trauma analysis and fabric from a green super-hero cape found on the body, segments of which were also found snagged on a protruding nail on the same garage roof as the gang were found scaling’
    ‘Police reports state that: “the boy was local and has been accounted by his father to have left home late at night on two occasions in the last year. He also informed us that, subsequently, the boy was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. As well, a packet of smokey bacon crisps found on the body is suggestive, but we are investigating kidnap and manslaughter as possible charges.”’
    ‘Investigations continue. We will be return with more updates on this story and more after these messages-‘
     
  17. chirography
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    chirography Senior Member

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    My Entry

    1439 word count


    A Froward Reap

    fro•ward (frō'wərd, -ərd)
    adj. Stubbornly contrary and disobedient; obstinate.



    They say that your life flashes before your eyes when you die. Like the speckled frames of an old movie reel spinning quickly through your happiest memories, you sit grandly in your own personal movie theater reliving the swan song that was your life. My death was less than climactic, rather a paled odyssey compared to what has been told. I saw, suddenly, a flash of light bright enough to blind me before a raging inferno slammed into my body throwing me face down with great force. I knew with dread that my head and neck were at an impossible angle, my very essence flowing onto the ground seeping from my destroyed back leaving it both sticky and warm. I searched for my images, my last profound vision, but found only darkness. My body began a twitching not unlike the marionette jumping in its strings, played jerkily by an unskilled hand. My physical continued this fight with its morbid animation, struggling, though my mind did not reject the notion of my fate. Cycling in my brain as if set on repeat, were only two words. Un eloquent and profane as they were “oh sh**” seemed apt to my situation. Shouting this mantra whether out loud or not, I awaited the pain that would never come. Finally, my limbs ceased their jerking, and my heart beat became the only sound drowning me in its pulsate, a now irregular tattoo. As death reveled in triumph over its sadly outmatched adversary, my thoughts sputtered to a sudden stillness but for the finite realization of my ending. The reaper had come and was there evermore, my life, a setting sun never to raise aga….

    “Professor?” Duncan raised his eyes from the passage to the girl in the front row.

    “Yes Cheyenne,” he said, perturbed at the interruption.

    “The man, the man in the book, how did he give this account?” Looking down at the book, she searched the back cover “The book is autobiographical, and I mean he’s dead right?”

    Duncan sighed and searched his classroom, “Can somebody please catch Miss Mullins up on the reading assignment? Obviously the American Idol finally was too great a temptation last night.” Laughter rang through the lecture hall and a young man raised his hand.

    “Yes Conal, please” Conal leaned back with a grin eager to give his own rendition.

    “Well you see this dude was a grunt in the army or something, and he runs a bunch of miles to this building to warn them of an air raid. He gets everyone out and is a hero and sh…stuff and then BOOOOOOM while he was getting the hel.. er.. heck outa there the enemy planes carpet bomb the place. The guy gets hit in the back by some shrapnel and while he lies in the hospital dying…” Conal lifted the book like a prop, waggling it at the class.

    “Eloquent as usual, Mr. Marks, anyone else?”

    “Yeah, me” Jenny raised her hand

    “Shoot”

    “Well there was this girl in the book that the guy really really liked and he was in the war because of her, I think it said”

    “Yes. Well, you obviously strayed off of the actual assignment skipping forward to tonight’s reading.” He set the book down marking his place, “Any other ladies take to reading the romantic parts ahead of schedule?”

    Several hands were raised sheepishly.

    “Gentleman, any of you perchance read the fight scenes already?”

    More hands.

    “Ok, well, let’s do the general discussion today then” he said with a sigh leaning back against his desk.

    “His wife, she was the reason he went to war?” Cheyenne asked jumping right in.

    “She wasn’t his wife she was his brother’s girlfriend,” Jenny argued.

    “She sounds hot,” Conal said propping his feet onto the desk in front of him.

    “She was a nurse!” Jenny said angrily,

    “Exactly, Haa-aaht!”

    “Conal, put your feet down. Does anyone else have something to add about this woman besides her temperature?”

    “Her name was Marianne, and she was his brother’s girlfriend, but he loved her anyway. It doesn’t say, but I think he joined the war because watching Marianne and his brother was too painful for him” Cely said in her quiet way.

    “Very good Cely, and the part I just read about his death on the battlefield?”

    “Anyone besides Conal” he said dryly “Thomas, please feel free to join us at anytime”

    Thomas cleared his throat looking embarrassed, “Well he uh, died in the end, I think. It’s sorta a tragedy about an unsung hero right?”

    “He didn’t die!” Jenny almost shouted.

    “Why don’t we decide for ourselves?” Duncan gave Jenny a warning look, “Thomas please read to us the second death passage if you would, page 372 I think”

    Thomas found the passage and began to read quietly, “Death comes for me again, as I sit here a hostage to my ailing body. Already visited by this mistress before, the poetry of this second act is somewhat lacking. Slow as a leaky facet, and heavy as the coffin I will no doubt leave this place in, she is ugly and languid in her unveiling. No instant blow this time around, but rather a seeping from this life to what lies after. The pain I did not feel in my first experience, now is a constant companion reminding me that I am very much alive, for now. I know deaths face as well as my own, for I was told that I had in fact died and been revived on that battlefield. I saw that face again clearly now in my sleep, watching over me like a guardian angel of another kind. I know, I cannot escape its clutches this time, and I whisper my assent to it as the pain worsens. Pain has its purpose I have learned, without it I would not long for death as I do now. It will be over soon.”


    “Did anyone feel it was narrated a bit indulgently?” Cara said into the silence that followed Thomas’ read. Both she and Thomas were majoring in English and took the dissection of pieces more seriously.

    “Yes, it was a bit dramatic, but still, the words of a dying man” Thomas said strongly.

    “It’s not dramatic it’s romantic” Jenny said almost sighing, oblivious of the disgusted looks the two sent her way.

    “I’ll leave it to you young ones to say such things of death,” Duncan said somberly. The class grew quiet for a moment as if deep in their own thoughts of mortality. Finally, he broke the silence, “Anyone else…” the bell cut him off and he glanced at his watch.

    “Professor, real quick, a question?” Cheyenne asked, still thoughtful,

    “Yes?”

    “Was he in the same war as you, the one that you hurt your leg in? Did you know him?” the class paused in their gathering of things

    “Both the man in the book and I were in Vietnam, Yes. Many people heard his story”

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


    Mail in hand, Duncan slowly climbed the few short steps to his front door. Its new bright color of blue wasn’t his favorite, but he smiled at it anyway. He loved his home and was usually eager to grab his smoking jacket, maybe have a finger or two of drink before dinner, but tonight he found himself instead wandering towards the noisy kitchen, towards her.

    Leaning heavily on his cane he watched as she bustled back and forth grabbing spices and vegetables and dropping them into a large pot on the stove. He never tired of watching her at work in their home. Her grey hair, pulled back into a youthful pony, bounced slightly as she danced to an old song playing on the radio. Her body’s graceful lines still held defying her age, her profile was still as beautiful as the day they’d met. She turned sensing his perusal.

    “You look tired,” she said turning down the music

    “I feel tired”

    “Sit down dinners ready in a minute” she looked him over steadily “Your legs bothering you”. It was a statement.

    “It’s fine.”

    She raised her brow and he stood quietly until his eyes began to mist.

    “What is it?” she said, concern furrowing her brow.

    “Did I ever thank you?”

    “For what?”

    “For saving me”

    Her face softened and a sweet smile curved her lips,

    “Yes,” she said softly “every time that you say you love me, Duncan,”

    “Well then, I love you… Marianne”






    “Though the reaper comes to take his hand, he will not go, this froward man” Chirography



    .
     
  18. BabelFish42
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    BabelFish42 Member

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    Falling Stars [3,243 Words- Over Word Limit]

    He never should have called. In retrospect, he didn’t know why he had even bothered. Did he really expect help? But there was still some tiny, stubbornly optimistic part of him that wanted to give it a try. Maybe it was the weather. It was hard to be cynical on a warm summer night with a gentle breeze and a million stars overhead.

    Keison dialed the once-familiar number and held the cell phone to his ear, while he used his other hand to steer his ancient Ford pickup out of the nearly deserted Kmart parking lot. It had been a long, boring shift, and he was eager to get home and collapse into bed. At least the roads would be mostly empty this late.

    “Hello?” said an unfamiliar, decidedly feminine voice.

    “Hey,” Keison replied uncertainly. “I’m looking for Mr. Fisher. Is this the right number?”

    “Sure is. May I ask who’s calling?”

    “Keison. Is he there?”

    “Oh! Hi Keison! How are you?”

    “Fine,” he muttered. “So is he there or not?”

    “Yeah, he’s here. Just stepped out of the shower. I’ll let him know you’re on the phone, ‘kay?”

    Before Keison could respond, he heard the woman’s voice speaking to someone nearby, and a moment later his father’s voice greeted him.

    “Hi, Dad. I have a favor to ask. They’re going to discharge Mom tomorrow morning at ten. Do you think you could bring her home? I know you’re busy. If you can’t get her, I can always bring her home after school, or skip a class or something.”

    “Oh. Tomorrow morning? Well… I wish I could, but I’m going out of town. Business trip.”

    Another business trip, Keison thought. Figures.

    “Don’t worry about it. I’ll get her.”

    “I’m sorry. I wish I could help, it’s just-”

    “Forget it, Dad. It’s fine.”

    An awkward silence filled the next few seconds.

    “So how’s everything with you, kiddo? And Nick? School okay?”

    Keison winced. Kiddo? Wasn’t he too old for that?

    “Everything’s fine. Nick’s spending the night at Tyler’s. School is okay.”

    “I miss you boys.”

    “Yeah.”

    “Glad to hear the operation went all right. And you let me know if you all need anything. I’m always here for you.”

    “Sure,” Keison replied, gripping the steering wheel much more tightly than necessary. “So who was that lady who answered the phone?”

    Long pause. “That was Cindy.”

    “Oh? Who’s she? I don’t think I’ve met her.”

    “She’s… a friend.”

    “I see. Look, I gotta go now. Bye, Dad.”

    He hung up without waiting for a response.

    Friend my ass, Keison thought furiously. His knuckles had turned pale; it seemed as though he was trying to choke the steering wheel. The arrow of the speedometer crept higher and higher, but he barely noticed, and certainly didn’t care.

    It was the pretense that infuriated Kesion more than anything. If only he had the guts to admit the truth, instead of trying to convince himself and everyone else that he was still the perfect father and husband. Kesion replayed the conversation in his head, as the trees and telephone poles zoomed past on either side of him. ‘I’m always here for you.’ Bull.

    Keison spun the wheel fiercely to the left, turning into a residential neighborhood, where the branches of the enormous trees blocked out the stars.

    Why she doesn’t just divorce his cheating ass already… But Keison knew why. She couldn’t pay all the bills herself. His dad still helped with that, which, in his mind, probably meant he was fulfilling all his family obligations.

    The narrow road curved sharply to the right. Keison’s truck zoomed around the bend. At the last possible second, his headlights illuminated the parked car, but by then it was too late. Keison was thrown violently forward by the impact while the deafening noise of twisting metal, screeching rubber and shattering glass filled the air around him.

    He was alive. That was his first thought when the world finally stopped spinning. He was in very deep s***. That was his second thought. He had a whiplashed neck and the beginnings of some bruises where the steering wheel and seat belt had slammed into his chin and torso, but otherwise he was physically okay. His Ford was relatively unharmed too. The bumper had fallen off, but he could replace that. The other car, however, was not okay. Possibly totaled.

    Keison mentally cursed himself for being so stupid. Would insurance pay for this? When it was clearly his fault? He doubted it.

    He hopped out and tossed the bumper in back of his truck. His palms were so sweaty that he nearly dropped it. What would he do? He didn’t have several thousand dollars to spare. His mother didn’t have several thousand…. His mother. Oh God, his mother. What would she say? He glanced up and down the deserted street, amazed that none of the inhabitants had come out looking for the cause of the noise. Just then, in the house that the car had been parked in front of, a light came on upstairs.

    Keison froze. Then, without further thought, he jumped in his truck, fired the ignition and sped away. On the way home, he checked his mirrors again and again. At any moment, he was sure, he’d see the headlights of another car, maybe even a police cruiser, in hot pursuit. After what seemed like hours, he pulled into his apartment complex and breathed a sigh of relief.

    Then it hit him. He had broken the law. Badly. He leaned his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes. He’d hit… and then run. Didn’t they take your license away for that? Or worse? He swallowed.

    No, he was not going to let that happen. Keison opened his eyes, grabbed his backpack and jumped out of the truck, locking it behind him. It was a serious offense IF you got caught. But there were no witnesses. It was too dark for anyone to identify him from an upstairs window. As for his bumper… maybe he’d just hit a tree or something. Yeah. That’s what he’d say. No one would ever know.

    A lump of guilt rose in his throat as he climbed the stairs to his apartment, but he pushed it back down. It had been an accident. An honest mistake. There was no need to feel guilty about it. Besides… what would happen if he didn’t keep quiet? He could never pay to replace a car, let alone deal with whatever other consequences there might be.

    Keison paused on the landing of the top floor, gazing out into space, as the voices in his head argued with each other. Impulsively he climbed another set of stairs, leading to the roof of the building. The door that blocked his way was locked as usual, but, after a few moments of jiggling the lock, it opened for him. This lock had needed replacing for a long time. Keison and Nick had long ago discovered they could sneak out here and shut the door behind them when they left.

    When he was younger, he’d come out here to play games with Nick and lean over the side railing to gaze down at people and passing cars below. Now, Keison came out here to clear his head with a breath of fresh air and a panoramic view of the sky.

    Keison walked over the rubber mat he lugged up here a year or two ago and laid down on it, using his backpack as a pillow. He rubbed his sore neck and gazed up at the stars.

    He couldn’t say a word about the accident, he decided. That would be best for his family. His mother had more than enough to deal with. And what about Nick? Somebody had to be a role model for that kid. He couldn’t let Nick know about this, of that he was certain. No, it would be better to pretend it had never happened. That would be the right thing to do. It was the right thing. It was. He kept telling himself that again and again, until at last he almost believed it.

    The stars were so bright tonight, he thought wearily. Keison had always liked the stars. They were… dependable. Constant. The same familiar constellations following the same old paths across the sky, day after day, year after year, century after century. You could count on the stars… to be where they were supposed to be, to do what they were supposed to do. He wondered if maybe that was why people used to connect the dots to imagine pictures of heroes in the night sky.

    An enormous yawn escaped Keison’s lips. With each blink, his eyelids grew heavier and heavier… and heavier…

    Sunlight glinted off the surface of the water. A solitary boat drifted in the middle of the lake. Inside the tiny vessel, a man and a small boy were hooking wriggling worms onto the ends of their fishing rods. Lake Rainier. Keison had no trouble recognizing it. How many times had his father brought Keison’s elementary school self to this place to go fishing? Too many to count.

    The little boy tried and failed to impale the earthworm on his fishing hook. He dropped the worm, picked it up, and managed to drop it again straight into the water. He wiped a drop of sweat off his forehead and pulled another worm from the bucket. A moment later, he cried out when the sharp metal hook missed the worm and pierced his thumb instead.

    The boy’s father, who had already baited his rod and cast it into the water, looked over at the child with pity. He gently took the boy’s rod in his large hands, baited it, and, with a powerful swing of his arm, cast it far across the surface of the water. Smiling, he handed the rod back to the boy, who was staring up at him with an expression of awe. Holding the rod almost reverently, the boy sat down beside his father, his hero, the man who could do anything.

    Clouds drifted in front of the sun, and the surface of the water darkened. The boy inched closer to his father, then-

    A pull! The boy’s s line went rigid, the plastic pole bent, and the rod nearly slipped out of his small hands. He jumped to his feet, bracing himself against the side of the boat, and tightening his grip on the pole. His father was grinning, laughing, cheering the boy on.

    The boy tugged on the line with all the strength of a determined seven-year-old. A triumphant smile spread across his face as he reeled the fish closer and closer to the boat. His father would be so proud…

    The boy lurched forward, nearly losing his balance grip on the rod once again. How was the fish suddenly ten times stronger? But he wouldn’t give up. He yanked the rod, and the fish yanked back. All the while, his father laughed and smiled. The boy held onto the rod with all his might, stubbornly refusing to let go, but the fish was too big, too strong…

    With a huge splash, the boy fell headfirst into the lake. Still holding the fishing pole with one hand, he kicked his way to the surface of the lake, coughing up water and gasping for breath.

    He waved his free hand and called for help. His father continued to smile and laugh, urging him to bring in the fish. But he couldn’t! Did his father see? He needed help! He let go off the rod; it was only pulling him down. He tried to call for help again, but he choked on a mouthful of brackish lakewater. He couldn’t swim, where was his lifejacket, he couldn’t swim, his arms were flailing uselessly, his shoes and denim jeans were too heavy, he couldn’t swim, he couldn’t swim, he was sinking, sinking, sinking! The last thing he saw as he disappeared below the surface was the laughter on his father’s face.

    CRASH!

    Keison awoke with a start, gasping for breath and looking around for the source of the noise that had woken him. It had sounded like a boulder crashing to the ground. He looked around frantically, but the rooftop was completely deserted, except for…

    Keison blinked.

    About ten yards to his right, a gigantic man sat in the middle of a large dent in the cement surface of the roof. He shook his head as though to clear it, causing his long black hair to swing back and forth across his massive shoulders. Keison blinked again. Not only did this guy look like he could be a pro wrestler, but he was also actually, literally glowing. A soft white light radiated from all over his muscular body. There was something seriously wrong with this guy. Possibly something involving radioactivity or alien abduction.

    “What the hell happened to you?” Keison blurted out.

    The human glow stick turned and looked at him.

    “What does it look like, kid?” he grunted, rubbing his bruised shoulder. His glowing, NFL quarterback-sized bruised shoulder. “I fell.”

    Keison glanced around the roof in confusion.

    “You fell? From where?”

    “The sky,” he replied, as though this was obvious. “What? You never heard of falling stars?”

    Keison gaped at him.

    The glowing giant sighed. “Trust me, it happens. We all lose our balance every now and then. I’ll head back up before long, but first I want to rest. I’m a little burnt out right now; too many millennia in the sky will do that to you.”

    “So… you’re a… fallen star?” Keison made a valiant effort to keep the disbelief out of his voice.

    “Fallen constellation, actually. The name’s Heracles.”

    “Uh, I’m Keison. Heracles, huh? That sounds familiar…”

    “Also known as Hercules.”

    “Wait a minute. You’re that Greek mythology guy? The big hero?”

    “Yes.”

    “… okay,” Keison finally managed to say. He struggled to think of some way to make conversation. If he didn’t say anything, the giant just stared at him, which was more than a little creepy. “So… if you don’t mind me asking, why are you wearing that… what exactly is that?”

    “This thing? It’s the skin of the Nemean lion. It makes a good cloak- invulnerable to all kinds of blades and arrows, just like the lion it belonged to.”

    “That came from a lion?”

    He smiled proudly. “Not just any lion. The Nemean lion. Supposedly invincible, until I choked it to death.”

    “You mean you wrestled a lion? What, just for fun?”

    His smile vanished. “No. It was one of many tasks set for me. I accomplished the feat, as well as many other difficult assignments, to atone for a terrible crime that I committed. At least, to atone for it as much as I possibly could.”

    Talk about cruel and unusual, Keison thought.

    “Damn. That’s a harsh punishment. What did you do?”

    Heracles sighed, looking sadly at his powerful hands. When he spoke, his voice was so quiet Keison had to strain to hear it. “I murdered my wife and children.”

    “What?”

    “You heard me.”

    A long silence filled the rooftop, until Keison finally broke it.

    “Dude. I thought you were a hero.”

    “The greatest.”

    “But you seriously f***** up man! No offense” -please don’t hurt me, he added silently- “but who decided you were a hero, after everything you did?”

    “You think heroes never make mistakes?” Heracles shook his head, as though confused. “I’m not in Greece, am I?”

    “Er, no.”

    “I was a hero. I was human too.” Heracles continued, shrugging his massive shoulders. “Maybe things have changed in recent centuries, but in my day, heroes were far from perfect.”

    “But still, murdering your family? That’s way, way below your average human imperfection. I mean, how did that even happen? Why would you do a thing like that?”

    He sighed again. “You could say I have an evil stepmother. My father’s wife has always hated me. She drove me temporarily insane.”

    “Oh. So then it was just an accident.”

    Heracles stared at him. “Just?”

    “Well… you didn’t mean to do it. So it wasn’t really your fault. You shouldn’t be held responsible.”

    “Yes, it was my fault. I wasn’t thinking clearly at the time, no, but what does that matter to the people who suffered at my hands? It was entirely my fault. And only worthless cowards hide behind excuses, refusing to admit their mistakes and accept the consequences.”

    Keison said nothing. He glanced down at his mat and began mindlessly tracing patterns on the soft rubber. Neither spoke for a long while.

    “Does something trouble you?” Heracles asked at last.

    “It’s… nothing,” Keison replied. “Just thinking. I used to have heroes. I used to believe in them. I thought they would always do the right thing. Never let me down. But you’re right about no one being perfect.”

    Heracles gazed intently at him for a long moment before responding.

    “Listen, kid. Sooner or later, everyone falls. Not everyone picks themselves back up again. Even good people can make terrible choices. It’s how you deal with those failures that says a lot about the kind of person you are.”

    Keison kept his eyes on his mat.

    Without warning, Heracles leapt to his feet. “Right, then. I’ve been down here long enough. Time to head back up. You might want to shield your eyes. This night’s about to get very bright.”

    Keison looked up in surprise and immediately wished he hadn’t. The soft glow surrounding the giant became a blaze of blinding white light. Keison reflexively shut his eyes and turned his head in the opposite direction, but the light didn’t fade. Even with his eyes shut, the light shone brighter and brighter until-

    Keison opened his eyes. It was morning. The stars were gone, and the bright orange sun was just coming up over the horizon.

    “Huh?”

    He sat up and looked around. Why was he on the roof? Then, the events of the previous night came rushing back to him. He groaned. What had he been thinking, letting himself fall asleep up here? He was supposed to be in school. He was supposed to be picking his mother up in a few hours. But first… there was something else he needed to do.

    He grabbed his backpack and ran towards the door. He couldn’t resist pausing briefly to let his gaze sweep over the rooftop. There was no crater. Of course not. He felt like an idiot for looking.

    Half an hour later, he pulled up in front of an old wooden two-story house. Half of his brain was screaming at him to turn his car back on and drive away. Instead, Keison took two deep breaths and got out. He forced himself to walk to the front door, one agonizing step at a time. He did not turn around. At the door, he took another steadying breath, raised his fist, and knocked three times. He did not turn around. Keison stood still and waited, listening breathlessly until he heard the sound of approaching footsteps. Even then, he did not turn around.

    The door opened, and the wrinkled face of an elderly woman gazed at him curiously.

    “Good morning,” she said. “May I help you?”

    Keison swallowed, forcing down his fear and pride as best he could.

    “Hi. My name is Keison Fisher. There’s something I need to tell you.”
     
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