June 24, 2019

The palace would have been immaculate, if not for the bodies.

Gleaming marble floors, polished banisters, light spilling in from the few stained glass windows unobscured by thick curtains. It was beautiful.

But those damn statues of death everywhere…

I had been on excursions like this before. All of us had, as part of our training— a full tour of the sites of the old war.

But this place… This place was different.

Nowhere else could you still see the soldiers, frozen mid-battle. Nowhere else could you see the last of the rival royal families as they fought or fled, locked in the last move they ever made, the last breath they ever took.

The last of the vampires, cursed to a second death that wasn’t death.

It had been eons since the spell was cast, with a strength of magic never seen before or since. And to this day, no one has been able answer the questions of why, from where, by whom… and most importantly, for how long. Fear and superstition abound across the kingdom, many still believing the vampires would one day awaken.

The point of the visit was to dispel those myths, and see for ourselves what truly became of the titans of old. Walking amongst them, however, it was hard to hold on to the objectivity required of a historian. The stories I had been told growing up replayed unbidden in my mind, and while I usually shied away from superstition and fancy, I could not shake the unease that had wrapped itself around my heart from the moment we entered.

The vampires may have been cursed to stillness, but the stillness did not feel like the lifelessness of death… It felt like the crouch of a tiger, waiting to strike.

“What fools.”

…Clearly, I was the only one who felt this way.

“Quiet, Garrick. We still don’t know whether they can hear us.”

“I don’t care. It’s not like they can do anything about what we say. And they were idiots, fighting amongst one another like uncivilized rats rather than the superior race they claimed to be.”

With each word Garrick flung so carelessly, my panic rose.

“Garrick,” I hissed, eyes darting to the statues closest to us. Of course, they had to be the former princes, the Wairf’s wings gleaming, the Pyr’s sword still raised to cut them off. “Not. here.”

Always one to enjoy making things uncomfortable, Garrick laughed. “Fine, out in the courtyard then. I have something to show you all anyway.”

I followed, more relieved to be out of earshot of the vampires to be concerned about whatever Garrick had planned.

Until I heard the screech.

I’d read the records. I had pored over the descriptions of our former kin, and the noises they’d make to strike fear in their enemies during battle.

But I never, ever thought I would live to hear a Wairf’s scream.

I whirled to face Garrick, who was far-too-smugly leaning against the garden wall. “What have you done?”

His smirk made me wish I was close enough to plunge my sword into him.

“I made a better vampire.”

My heart was plunging to the depths of hell as he continued to speak.

“I borrowed some DNA, and I cast a little spell. They were stupid. Wairfs… Pyrs… Even the names. It didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. They fought for nothing, just so one could claim superiority when neither deserved it. Combined, however… Combined they create a new breed. Stronger than both. Smarter than both. And released right here, for them to see where their petty war got them.”

As if timed, the hybrid’s shadow cast over us as he flew screeching through the open palace doors.

The elders are going to be so mad when they wake up.

And suddenly I knew. They were going to wake. They were going to wake because of what Garrick had done, and our people would pay.

“You idiot!”

I ran. The king would be the first. The others were already beginning to stir, droplets of their entrapment dripping to nothingness. But I had to find King Alareiks.

Behind me, the demon screeched again, looping overhead. Garrick’s magic was nowhere near as advanced as his ego, yet even I could see that his creation was truly a hybrid. The strong wings and tail of a Wairf, the lean musculature of the Pyr, the standard wolf’s head of the advanced Pyr warrior who transforms in battle.

It would have been impressive, if it wasn’t so damn stupid.

He found King Alareiks before I did, landing on the balcony overlooking the ballroom just as I skidded in, his eyes shifting between me and the nearly-awakened King of Wairfs. I kept him in my field of vision as I approached, eyes cast down as was the old custom.

After the War

2nd June 2019

You joined the fight so you could stop feeling helpless. And yet now, as the world crumbles around you, the anguish is worse than it’s ever been. All you can do is watch, and follow, as they drag them into the chamber, chained and blindfolded, silent in the face of death. Your allies. Your friends.

You curse the powers that drew you to the war in the first place. Being unseen, unheard unless made aware, was incredibly useful for intelligence gathering, for stealth missions where slit throats were better than the cacophony of gunfire. But now, though desperate to be seen, desperate to show that you haven’t abandoned them, desperate to die by their side, something within you – always beyond your control – won’t let you.

The anguish gives way to anger. You scream, but the soldiers calmly piling your friends in a room too white to be pure remain impassive. Just following their orders, unknowing, unseeing. You follow them out the door.

“You’ll kill them! You’ll kill children and old men! But you won’t kill me? Not young enough? Not old enough? Look at me!”

Nothing. Not from them. Not from your friends.

Then a small gasp from behind you. The doctor heard something. She sees something. You whirl, are on her in a second, a knife nearly severing the artery on the side of her neck before you realize with horror that she’s pregnant. They’d send someone pregnant to do this, someone carrying life to take it clinically and without thought. Does her line even deserve to go on, if she’s here? But no. You won’t kill a child. A mother. Not even one of theirs.

“How can I help them? Where are the keys?” You press the knife in just a little more, just enough to make her think she’s going to die. “Where?”

“Next room over,” she chokes out. “They always keep the keys in the next room over, to collect the chains once it’s done.”

You let her go. Grab the gauze on the tray next to her and wrap it around her throat. She says nothing, and you know she won’t betray you.

Then you’re there. Some focus, a short run, and you’re in the next room but you’re not alone. The keys are in the general’s hand but there’s no time for stealth, no time to make sure you’re still unseen. You grab. She resists, grabs for you, calls for guards, but you wrench yourself away.

You will not fail them. Not when you’re so close.

Out the room. Back to the next. Hands working fast, keys shaking and chains clinking to the floor. You can hear the guards – much less impassive now as they rush towards you all – but you don’t care as long as they get out first.

You drag them away, weary, broken, confused, but running for the lives they so nearly lost.
Then it’s over. The war.

The rubble remains. The ash still in the air despite how many months it’s been. Despite people out amongst the ruins everyday, trying to rebuild.

There’s a new leader now. You remember him. Fought with him, once. He’ll be good for the world. Already trying to make amends.

You listen to him speak, simple words from a man who spent more time using his hands. The world listens. All over, from crumbling skyscrapers to burnt villages.

You know they do, because you turn and walk away, find yourself in Tokyo, his words echoing in Japanese through the larger-than-life holograms.

Another step. The same in Russia.

Another step. The same in Dubai.

It feels like a movie. Cut-scene after cut-scene. Nation after nation. Showing what remains of the world as they listen to the one person who can give them hope.

You come to the street of the last battle. Where you struggled so hard to save your friends. The barricades have been removed, but it’s not much of a road, still. Still churned up concrete and stains you want to forget. You can’t breathe. You can’t move. But you can’t leave.

So you scream, rushing forward, seeing the horses and the enemies on top of them again, dark helmets and vests, before you’re back to reality, and the lights on top of shotguns turn into lanterns as food deliveries are made.

Food. Food sounds nice.

You wander, finally deciding on a small family-owned place. But when you walk in you realize you’re still crying. Turn just as the little boy locks eyes with yours. Curious. Concerned. Then he runs past you, yelling for his parents as you ignore him and rush to the bathroom, pour water over your face again and again.

You need to get clean, but you know you’ll never feel pure again. Still, you take off your suit, ignore the scars on your skin, try to cool your burning skin with wet cloth.

You’re about to get dressed again when she bursts in. Clearly the locks here are useless. You avoid her eye, grabbing your clothes and hoping she’ll just leave.

She looks scared. You hate that you notice. You know it means you’ll do something about it.

She notices you then. Takes a breath, puts on a charming smile. Glances at your body then lays a hand on your chest, groping. “I didn’t know you were a woman under there. That’s kind of exciting. What if we…”

You don’t let her finish. You grip her wrist, move it away. “You and I both know that I’m not your type.” You don’t tell her you’re offended she thought this what she needed to do, to get help from a soldier. You don’t tell her you’ve been used and manipulated enough to not want something as sacred as this tainted by transaction. You don’t tell her she’s pretty, and tempting, and that you might have let her continue her thought in another life, one where she wasn’t so obviously straight.

Instead, you say, “I heard the boy. I know you’re all in trouble. Just let me get dressed.”

She sighs out a thank you, grateful and ashamed in one breath. You ignore it.

You put your clothes back on, listening to the noises outside. Loud, confident men barking orders and laughs and making the waitresses squeal in fear. You know the gangs that have emerged since the war. You know the way they’ve clawed into small businesses like this one.

You wonder if that was partly why you walked in here.

Then you walk out the door, to the large center table, and you remind yourself what it’s like not to feel helpless.

The Escape

I slip back into reality with no memory of who I am, nor what has transpired before this. I’m not alone, either; two armed guards are walking beside me. It seems I’ve been a willing prisoner (am I prisoner? For some reason, I feel like one…), because I am not restrained. However, they do seem ready to pounce if I make any sudden moves, so apparently I am an escape risk. Wait… Escape from where? What is this place? It’s outside… but not outside… Oh, we’re walking along the perimeter of a building. High wall to my left, government-looking facility to my right… Why are they always these sleek, chrome, grey-white buildings? Governments never have any imagination… Strange thought. Was that me? Must be, these guards certainly aren’t saying anything.

There’s someone up ahead. She’s standing by a door. Is that where I’m being taken? Must be. Something is bubbling up inside me, with more and more urgency. Panic. Why am I panicking? Is something bad about to happen? No coherent thoughts in my head anymore all I can think of is escape. I must escape. How? The guards are speaking to the woman now. She looks young. My age, maybe. …How old am I? I don’t feel like I’ve been alive very long. She says something about vents. Vent… I get flashing images of being huddled up in one, wrapped in a blanket… It’s comforting. Did I used to live in a vent somewhere? That’s strange. I must have been homeless. NO! Focus! Escape! I have to get out, fast! The guards are leaving me with her. I’ll get my chance soon. They need to go away first. But I can’t let her take me too far into this place or I’ll get lost. All these bright lights and identical hallways. Oh, there’s a vent here. That’s funny. Maybe she was just saying there was something wrong with it… Why can’t I think properly? What’s wrong with me? We’re approaching a door. It is the only door that is different and the panic has reached fever pitch. I need to get away. I need to get away NOW. RUN.

I do. I turn around and make a break for it, taking the same path we came from. The woman is yelling for me to come back, yelling for someone to stop me, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone else here. Yet. They’re going to come for me. The thought makes me run faster. I get to the vent and yank it open, intending to hide or find a way out. It’s blocked. I whimper in fear and frustration. Of course, that must have been what she was saying. I’ve done this before. They know. They don’t intend to let it happen again.

I keep running and get outside, a giant wall glaring right at me. Another to the right, meeting it at a corner. The sliding doors are behind me, with that woman getting closer. She is armed with back-up, now… I can sense it like the hot breath of a predator on my neck. In my peripheral vision, I see the guards who had escorted me here coming in fast from the left. It’s a long yard and they had left me eagerly, so they are still far off. I have time to make a decision. Get over that wall. Without pausing to think about it I rush forward, slapping my foot against the right hand surface of the corner and thrusting myself up, twisting my body to grab at the other ledge. Using both my legs and my arms I pull myself up and over, hearing the dismayed yells of my pursuers as I make the jump down. I have no idea how I did what I just did but there’s no time for me to think. They’ll be out soon, and they’ll be armed. I run.

It strikes me as odd how fast I seem to be, and if it weren’t for the fact I was being chased, I’d probably enjoy it more. I like this. Feet pushing the ground back and away, air rippling at my clothes. Then I see them in the distance, standing in their oncoming jeeps with guns drawn, trying to close in on me, and I forget everything except needing to get away. There are houses and buildings here. Quick as a rabbit, I flit to the right, leaping over a fence and finding myself in a small complex. I suddenly realise how winded I am and begin to pant, bending over to rest for a few moments.

“You seem like you’re in trouble.”

I snap back up so fast I hear my spine crack, searching for the source of the voice. One of the little house doors is open wide, a man sitting on the floor with some food, his side facing me. He must have been eating, or about to. My stomach growls a little. He hears, and chuckles softly. Long, slim hands attached to bony wrists toss two small scones across from him. I feel strangely safe for now, so I walk inside cautiously, shutting the door, and sit down. He smiles. He has a kind face. Weather-beaten skin and a thin, wiry body. But he doesn’t seem to be very old. I remember that I still don’t know how old I am. I don’t even know my own name.

“Eat,” he says, tearing a piece off one of his scones and taking a bite.

Hungry as I am, it strikes me that this is a very small house in an old complex. Even the rug we were sitting on felt thin and worn out. He may be sharing the only food he has for the night. “What about you? Is that enough?” I marvel at the sound of my own voice. It’s quiet, raspy from lack of water. Not too high-pitched, not as deep as a man’s. I realize I do not know how I look. The need to see my face is rising.

The man watches me. He can tell I’m struggling with something, but says nothing of it. “I always buy extra. Don’t worry. Please eat.”

I gratefully reach for one of the scones when the door bursts open. In an instant, I am across the hall and in the kitchen, hiding behind the fridge. I hear a yell, then a thud. My heart races. I’m terrified and guilty. No. No, no, no please let nothing have happened to the man. Please let him not be dead. Grabbing a knife from the counter I glance out towards the room. Only one of those men, coming this way. As soon as he walks through the door I growl as my arm swings out and I stab him as hard as I can. Not waiting for anything, I get the hell out of there. There’s no time to check on the kind stranger. I can only wish he’s okay, and make sure to stay away from people. Their kindness could get them hurt. Those who were kind, anyway.

I run without a single break in stride, slowing only marginally as tiredness makes me lose momentum, then speeding up again a second later. There’s no one out but me and the men coming after me, though I have yet to see them. I know they’re out there. I change directions. Climb over walls. Vault over any obstacles in my way. Hide, and then break into a run again. I don’t care where I go, so long as it’s far, far away. I still have no idea why I ran. All I could say for sure was that I knew that once I walked through that door, there was no going back. I am a liability. Whatever they wanted from me, they did not get. And we all know what happens to liabilities. I nod my agreement and pick up speed.

But the night drags on, and soon I am too tired to continue. It strikes me as odd that it has taken me this long to tire out. Adrenaline, probably.  Find a place to spend the night. Yes, I need to sleep. I see a large villa close by. It’s big enough that I think I can risk hiding somewhere on the grounds. I can leave in the morning before I am discovered.

Exhausted, I climb the gate slowly, trying to keep my movements controlled for as little sound as possible. At this point, the temptation to just let myself crash to the ground and sleep where I land is almost overpowering. Only the thought of what would happen if I did keeps me from it. Luckily for me, the only lights on are those in a few rooms on the higher floors, so I can sneak about easily, crouching low and close to the walls of the house.

Then I stumble across the children. They spot me right in the middle of their play, and curiously make their way over. Probably heard my labored breathing and turned to look. Crap, what the hell are they doing up so late? Why aren’t they afraid of me, a stranger who’s broken into their house in the middle of the night? I don’t even care anymore. The exhaustion is taking over. Just as they reach me, saying things I can’t quite hear, I slump to the ground and it all goes dark.

Robbery at Point Lame*

Child abduction. Really? Of all the crimes in all their varying degrees of intensity that the Mob could accuse me of, they chose child abduction. You had to hand it to them- that’s the quickest way to discredit anybody. Even murderers and most serial killers can’t stand child abductors. Sick, twisted beings.

I’m not, by the way. A kidnapper of children. Sick and twisted, on the other hand… let’s say the jury’s out on that one.

I don’t even want to be here, in this dreary little suburb where the most exciting thing that happens is someone letting their grass grow over the height limit. Scandalous. Well, it was scandalous until I showed up and the Mob accused me of being one of the lowest of the low. Ironic, considering what they are. They didn’t even need proof. In this world, with all its evils, an accusation is enough. No one would take the chance of assuming the talk is wrong, whether they had kids or not.

Anyway, like I was saying. I don’t WANT to be here. I just have to because the Mob is here. And where the Mob goes, I go. There must be more to this town than meets the eye if they would go through the trouble of setting up shop and then making sure no one would come near me. Except the kids. Kids don’t believe adults half the time. They go with their gut. But cuz they’re kids no one ever takes them seriously and given the nature of the sign floating on my head, no one would ever let them get close enough. The Mob have made sure that not only am I viewed with utter suspicion, but that I have no allies. I’m surprised the cops haven’t shown up with a surprise warrant because a kid is a minute over curfew.

They’re not the real Mob, by the way. Not the Mafia, I mean. They just picked the name for the confusion and fear it would strike in the hearts of men, when it was mentioned. And it’s not like the real Mafia would be too eager to claim copyright infringement, so the name stayed. Pretty clever, these guys. Just never clever enough. And I’ve been keeping a very close watch on them in my time here (while the rest of the town keeps a disgustingly close watch on me. I can’t even go to a park).

Riggs, the unassuming rookie, has been working as a school bus driver. Honestly, he’s the best man for the job. He looks like the kid you’d bring home to your parents, if you were the type. Baby-faced bastard. All blue eyes and blond hair, like he was carved by angels. How he turned so rotten as to work for the Mob is anyone’s guess, but what do I care? He did and he does, and that’s enough. Anyhow, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that whatever the Mob is up to, it has to do with that school and the bus Riggs drives. And they obviously want me nowhere near either, hence the child abductor rumour they threw into the air the minute I walked into town.

Or rather, flew. Well, not that either. Something in between, I suppose you could say. Brilliant for getting around, it really is. Saves on gas and plane tickets like you wouldn’t believe.

So now I’m in this tiny suburban town basically next door to all the wilderness, tracking a nationally notorious gang, with the entire population against me and no intel on what the heck these jerks are up to.

I love my job.


*I don’t remember why on earth I titled it this. Or even where the idea for this came from. A dream, probably.

They were sitting on a bench overlooking the water, the city’s bright lights and impressive skyline reflected on the ever-moving surface. It was cold, and they both felt it, yet by unspoken decision they moved no closer to each other.

Finally, the silence became unbearable and he had to speak, if only to remind himself that he still could.

“Are you really sure it will work this time?”

His companion glanced at him, then went back to staring at the water. “I am.”

“How?” The word was out of his mouth before he had the chance to stop it. He sounded disbelieving and he felt horrible for it.

To his surprise, he caught a small smile flit across his brother’s face. “Because I don’t believe it will.”

He looked at him in confusion, wondering if this time, his brother really had lost his mind entirely. He could tell that he was trying to find the right words, so remained quiet.

“Before, I would work on my projects fully convinced that I would succeed. That this would be it and I would never have to worry again. I was tireless, exhilarated. I had complete faith. And every time, I would be proved wrong. This time, though, while all other emotions remain the same, I no longer have that conviction. And that is how I know it will work.” At last he turned to face him, the small smile back on his face. “I know it’s a strange idea. But it makes sense, somehow.”

He smiled back, understanding, and they both returned to staring at the ripples running across the city.

Witches’ Storm

{Inspired by a dust storm.}

“Get away from there!” Nat yelled. The double-glazed glass gates were shaking ominously, despite the many hands of other students pushing against them. She was terrified they would come crashing down on their heads.

She was the eldest, so they did as they were told, stepping beside her while their eyes remained fixed on the doors. Nat cursed inwardly. She was deeply her regretting her choice of transparent curtains. A set of dark thick ones would have kept them from having to look at the sight ahead, maybe even muffle the noise, which was bad enough as it was.

The ghosts of burned witches past continued to howl then attack the doors all together, their wails and screams combining to form one mournful, blood-curdling sound. Beneath her terror, Nat couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. All they had wanted all those years ago was salvation, and even now the doors were barred to them.

It went for hours. After a while, the others grew used to it. The novelty wore off and they continued with their work, but Nat gazed on. She felt like she owed it to them. That to ignore them would be disrespectful; like their torment meant nothing.

She watched as they raised dirt and dust until nothing could be seen. She watched as they gathered storm clouds, speeding them up and pushing them to crash together and thunder their rage. She closed her eyes, shaking, every time they launched another attack, convinced that they would break through.

Finally, she watched as they faded away one by, one each with a mournful wail. Then she made the mistake of looking into the eyes of the last witch to go; the last to have died. As the sun returned, a single tear rolled down her cheek at the great sadness she’d seen within them.

“At least the town will never forget what they’ve done. They won’t let them. And we too shall always remember the betrayal of our ancestors, which is why these gates are made of glass. We must never forget, no matter how far out into the world we may one day reach, how we turned our backs in fear and pride.”

Nat looked up at her mentor and nodded. Taking her outstretched hand, they walked together to continue their Potions lesson. She turned back one more time to where the witch had been, and promised to never forget.


With a smile, I push off the edge of the bridge, plummeting straight down into the rocks below. I can hear exhilarated screaming, and soon realise it’s me, my voice being carried up by the wind. My eyes stay open despite the sting of rushing air; I want to see it all. The world blurring past me, the ground rising to meet me, the bridge moving away, as if not wanting anything more to do with me. I feel my body cutting through the air, scattering the molecules, making them envelope me as I feel them run up my sides, from a singular point on my head. I am an arrow heading straight down. Gravity pulling me towards it gleefully, glad of the great prize it has captured, eager to share it with the earth that grows ever nearer.

And then, with a jerk, I stop, just inches over the ground. Before the bungee rope thrusts me upwards, I’m just able to reach down and touch one of the outcropping stones.

I’m pulled up, removed from Gravity’s grasp. I don’t have time to wonder how disappointed it must be, as the crowd claps and pats me on the back, congratulating me on my first jump. I nod and smile, then look at my instructor, who is beaming with pride. “Again.”

His smile falters for only a second. Surely such a thrill would be enough experienced only once? I can almost hear him think it. But then he nods, and announces it. Everyone looks at me as if I must be insane, or a thrill junkie, or just plain daring, but I ignore them and climb over the ledge once more.

This time, I don’t scream. I don’t even keep my eyes open. I simply feel myself falling. Enjoy the sensation of being completely out of control. There is nothing I can do. Nothing I want to do. I hear the air whispering in my ears, imagine those rocks growing closer and closer, almost anticipate what it would feel like if the rope snapped and I came crashing down with the full force of the momentum I’ve been gaining all the way.

But then I feel the jerk of the rope once more.

I’m almost disappointed.

The Catalyst

“I am an Events Catalyst. When I’m around, things… happen. Faster. With more consistency.”

You meet her eyes, but she looks away, choosing not to elaborate quite yet. She’s sitting across from you in a leather chair a tad too big for her, her legs tucked beneath her thighs and hidden by the folds of her crimson red cloak. Little Red Riding Hood, you think, and can’t help but chuckle softly to yourself.

Her eyes dart back to you. She smiles wryly. “I know what you’re thinking. My cloak does resemble that of a famous fairy tale character.”

You look at her in surprise and she lets out a small laugh. “I read people, darling,” she explains. “Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Besides, you’re not the first person to make the comparison.”


“Why the get-up?”


“This is a Catalyst’s uniform. The red represents what we do. Red is passion, red is chaos, red is love, red is blood. Red can mean energy, or more rarely, a calm of sorts. We catalysts have no control over what we instigate into being. It could be any of the above, or something else entirely. We wear red to symbolise that.”

“And what is it that you do, exactly? What is an ‘Events Catalyst’, in more detail?”

“We are human, mostly normal, simply born with the special capability to make things happen. We’re everywhere. We come into people’s lives at a crucial time – usually a transition of some sort – and our presence triggers a chain reaction of events. Some are good, some ill, but ultimately we bring a person to where they’re meant to be, and once we’ve taught them what they need to know… We fade away.”

“Fade away? And how do these ‘events’ affect you?” You’re more intrigued than ever. You begin to look back on your life to see if you’ve ever come across a Catalyst yourself.

“I’m not really sure how that one works myself. Something happens, or something changes in the dynamic, or both… And we fade away into the background. Still somewhat present, but never in the same way as before. Our purpose in their life is over. For the time being, at least. So it becomes time to move on.”

She stops, taking out a cigarette case from her trouser pocket. As she lights up, she glances at you questioningly, silently asking if you mind.

“Not at all,” you shake your head to her, and she closes her eyes to take a long drag.

“We’re allowed one vice, to help us handle the environments in which we work. This is mine.”

You can’t help but mention that smoking kills, surprised at your daring. “We’re all going to die someday, darling. If in my case it’s sooner rather than later, then all the better.”

You aren’t sure whether or not she’s joking.

Later, as you look over your notes, you realise she never did answer how she was affected by it all. You run the interview back in your head.

Well… Not directly.