Darkness, hidden in light, makes a meal.

Bella stared out the window, her brow wrinkling as she slowly caressed the purple cloth cover of the book in her hands. Outside moonlight turned the world into painting of silvers, blues, and blacks. The stars faded in the glow of the full moon, only the brightest making their presence known. Around her the room was dark. She had turned off the lights when she realized she no longer needed to read what was contained within those purple covers to know what was there. The words forever seared into her heart.

It was one of her mother’s many journals, written in her neat hand and still holding a trace of her perfume even after all these years. Bella smiled and held the book to her chest. Of all of her writings this was the briefest. A single sentence placed in the very center, surrounded by pages of the purest white. 

‘Darkness, hidden in light, makes a meal.’

One Halloween (Short Story) Update

It was a cold and blustery night, the kind which caries the fore runners of Winter upon its back. Looking out the window Bella could see the harvest moon, full and orange in a cloudless sky. She had lived through many such October nights, why then did this one bring a feeling of foreboding?

She thought for a moment to step outside then decided against it. In here it was warm while outside she knew the temperatures  were slowly falling. There was a frost warning for the home gardeners. Yet there was another, more important reason to stay indoors, or specifically inside her own doors. In here she was at the center of her power, surrounded by wards and guards. It wasn’t a perfect defense, but she stood a better chance right here than anywhere else in this world.

Returning to the kitchen, Bella glanced at the refrigerator. It was shut tight and she knew the portal was sealed, yet it remained a weak point in her defenses, this connection with the Winter realm. She began to move toward the sink when something made her turn and place her hand on the freezer door.

It vibrated against her touch.

A frown creased her brow and she whispered a few words, satisfied when a new layer of blue warding began to settle against the cold, white metal.

The house was silent except for the gusty growls of the wind and the hiss if dry leaves brushing against one another. Bella sat in at the kitchen table, tea cup turning cold in her hands, as she tried to block out the the growing sense of discordance which filled the air with an electrical buzz. She had checked and rechecked all of the castings, like a spider checking her web. Everything remained tight and secure yet her nerves refused to be soothed. It was enough to keep sleep a distant dream.

 The only warning she received was a sudden tug as one of her wards was ripped away, gasping at the unexpected sting she whipped around in her chair to stare at the freezer door which now stood wide open, ice cold air seeping into the room as a seething wave of vapor. She reflexively cast out a holding spell, hoping to gain enough time for her defenses to kick in.

Vapor seemed to explode from the dark entire of the gaping freezer, filling the room with a heavy, frost laden haze. It took several moments and a breath held too long for her sight to clear enough to see what had come through the portal.

It took a moment for her mind to decipher what here eyes were seeing. Standing there mumbling some very unbecoming human curses,  stood an elf with a pumpkin resting on his shoulders where his head should be. She watched as his two, small arms reached up and slowly lifted the squash clear of his anger filled eyes, one of which was covered, along with his hair and most of his face with pumpkin guts.

He looked down at her where she lay on the floor laughing so hard she had tears streaming from her eyes and she had to gasp for breath.

“I fail to see the humor in this situation.” He said with as much dignity as he could muster… until a large glob slid down his nose and hit the tile floor with a ’PLOP.’

A special ‘Thank you’ to Sindy for this writing challenge. Check it out: Spook Up Peeps

The Grimm (Short Story)

Belladonna found her eye kept sliding past Jerrico, her mind refusing to acknowledge what he held loosely in his hand. Something in the back of her mind was threatening to tear loose and rip her to shreds just be away from… from, that. She was having trouble controlling her breathing, she trembled, and her skin was slick with sweat.

Within his grasp was a matte black, thing was the only word she could come up with. It was somewhere between a circle and an oval and it moved. It slithered and seethed while not moving at all. Though it didn’t reflect the light, it seemed to glisten wetly and she was sure it made a low, ominous scratching sound, like dry bones rubbing together.

 

“What is it?” She asked, almost choking on the words.

 

“A talisman.” He replied.

 

“What does it do?”

 

“It eats The Dark.”

Jerrico: Part Two (Short Story)

How long had he been watching? He remembered her as a child, a tiny thing almost lost in the drifts in which she played. Her giggles echoing across the distance like crystal bells on a frosty morning. He had looked on as she grew and changed, becoming her own person, confident in herself and her abilities.

 

It was with a bitter smile that he moved to his usual place beneath a towering pine. The lower branches touching the ground, keeping the space beneath free from snow. A deep layer of needles forming a soft cushion on which to sit. There were times when this place seemed more home to him than his own rooms, the scent of pine and cool winter air mixing with memories of cold stone, cotton, and wool. 

 

He adjusted his cloak and settled against the trunk, letting his thoughts float free.He didn’t realize he had drifted off until the sound of a footstep startled him awake. He reached for his knife knowing it was already too late.

 

“It isn’t there,” said a soft, feminine voice.

 

He opened his eyes to find himself looking into blue eyes as hard and cold as ice. 

 

“Belladonna.” 

 

The word slipped from his lips before he thought it. If possible, her eyes became harder, colder.  

 

“It seems you have me at a disadvantage.” It was a statement, as flat and metallic as her gaze.

 

She didn’t know how true her statement was. However, now was not the time or place for her to learn that lesson. The issue now was going to be communication, he had the means to understand her but without a little help she wouldn’t be able to understand him and all he could do was hope she wasn’t skittish or their first face to face meeting wouldn’t end very well. He slowly opened his arms away from his body and then pointed toward his ear with one hand. 

 

A scowl crossed her face, turning her lips downward.

 

He repeated the gesture, bringing his hand closer to his ear. She didn’t relax in the least, backing up a few steps, his own knife held steady in her hand. Again he reached up and touched a loop clipped to the outside of his ear. He raised a questioning brow.

 

She never wavered, simply giving him a single, tense nod.

 

He slipped the ring from his ear and extended his hand toward her. Not taking her eyes from his, she reached out and took it then slipped it onto her own ear.

 

“Can you understand me?” He asked and watched her eyes widen slightly, though it was the only sign of her surprise. 

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good,” he said, relaxing a little. It was a beginning.

Jerrico (Short Story)

There was something about this world which put his teeth on edge. Every time he came here it was different. Sometime cold, another hot and everywhere in between. Just thinking about it made his stomach hurt; these things the locals called “seasons.” 

 

There was more of course, the air was wrong. A dirty, stinging thing which left his throat raw and his lungs burning for days. The sunlight was too harsh, a nasty yellow-white which burned the eyes, forcing him to wear protective covers of tinted glass and the water? It tasted of metal on his tongue. Never mind what passed for food here, he had made the mistake of trying it once and thought he was going to die as a result. Now he brought his own supplies, even though it was troublesome.

 

A indelicate sound escaped his throat as he thought back on the scouts report which had made this sound a virtual paradise. He had seriously questioned the man’s senses upon his return. How could anyone with eyes, nose, and tongue ever think of this as anything approaching paradise?

 

The portal was located in a wooded area not far from a human town. This wasn’t typical procedure, not by a long way but there had been little alternative since much of the surrounding countryside had been cleared for farming and raising livestock. He shook his head, as many disturbing things as there were about this world, the worst had to be the first time he found himself staring across miles of cleared land. It looked like a sea of mud which stretched as far as his eyes could see, broken only here and there by small stands of trees an brush. Little islands of green sinking into brown. The effect had been immediate and disastrous. Everything swung and tilted until he found himself face down on the ground. 

 

Of course he had never heard of agoraphobia or vertigo. It would take meeting her before such things made sense.

Winter Queen: Part 4 (Short Story)

Time slowed to a crawl as she waited. She knew this was yet another test, but it irritated her none the less. Each encounter had increased in tension as they took the required steps in a dance which was older than time its self. The danger also increased as her opponent gained knowledge of her abilities and limits. One day in the not too distant future, he would win. It was never a matter of if, only when.

 

There was a bitter taste in her mouth thinking such things. Of course she had known the price she would have to pay the moment she had found his little book tucked away in her mother’s library, where, no doubt he had arranged for it to find someone just like herself. Young, foolish, ambitious, and willing to do anything for power.

 

She doubted he had expected her to best him in a contest of wills. The fact he had underestimated her had been a pleasant surprise, but as she quickly found, he was a poor loser indeed. Everything she gained was done so only through these painful, brutal contests. Winning gained her knowledge, loosing would cost her soul. The annoying part? He had to win only once.

 

At last a shape appeared on the far side of the ring, indistinct at first, then resolving its self into the figure of a man, apparently at his ease, slowing walking toward her. He was of indeterminate age, wearing a wrinkled black suit. His shoes scuffed, the tie crooked and hanging loose. His black hair was in need of a trim, just over the ears and hanging in his eyes. One might think it a trick if the light, but she knew, those eyes were black as night and totally inhuman. He stopped at a respectful distance and bowed low, his hand touching the ground, a blue stone twinkling on his ring finger. It was a gesture meant to be as mocking as the smile which played across his lips.

 

“It brings joy to my heart whenever you deign to grace us with your presence, your Majesty.”

Winter Queen: Part 3 (Short Story)

“Enough, indeed.” Came the hissed reply from the darkness, vibrating through her bones.The pressure lifted, but only slightly. Gritting her teeth, her eyes closed to mere slits, she steeled herself. Without warning she lashed out with a mental lash which sizzled through the air. It wasn’t a directionless attack; no, it had a definite purpose and it carried it with unerring accuracy into the void to her left. A cruel smile twisted her lips as she was rewarded with a surprised gasp of pain.

 

“You should know better,” she hissed in return. 

 

The pressure released so quickly she almost staggered. The smile turned to a frown. This was another play to gain control and she couldn’t afford to let her guard down for even a moment. She brought a vision of a black stone to mind. Set in silver, held in the mouth of a serpent  which wrapped around an enormous neck. Directing power of her own, she twisted her will around the stone and thought of only crushing it in her hand.

 

“Enough!”

 

One word, stretched out by pain, lacking in its former power. She kept the pressure up for another heartbeat, two, then released it with a snap.

 

“I think we understand one another.” She crossed her arms across her breasts and waited.

Winter Queen: Part Two (Short Story)

She took a deep breath and stepped through the doorway,her skin prickling as the wards etched into the frame crackled and hissed. A chill ran down her spine and she shivered despite her best efforts. The space beyond was a void, lightless soundless. It was impossible to tell its limits, if it had any. In all the times she had come her she had respected the restrictions she had been taught for its use, the first and most important, contain your curiosity. The second, refrain from casting even the most innocent of spells. Wearing enchanted items such as her cloak were one thing; active magic was whole other thing entirely.

 

Her hesitation lasted only an instant, but she feared it would be seen as weakness. She redoubled her mental shields and set a look of bored indifference over her features. Her eyes like flecks of blue diamond. She set on foot in front of the other and began walking. With each step the stones underfoot began to glow with an unwavering blue-white light which somehow conveyed a sinister intent all it’s own. She didn’t bother counting, the number of steps required changed with each visit. 

 

At last she reached a predetermined point and the glow spread outward from her feet to create a circle which seemed to be floating in the empty space. Here, more than anywhere, the silence seemed to have a physical weight which pushed against her shoulders, trying to force her to her knees. She stopped, setting herself, refusing to buckle. She would maintain her stance even if it killed her… then again, giving in assure something much worse.

 

“Enough,” She was proud to hear the strength in her voice as that one word rang like a bell calling priests to prayer.