Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

There once was a princess who lived far away.

She was in love with a prince so they eloped one day.

On the way to the church, they received terrible news.

A dragon was loose so the prince had to choose …

PNB

The much loved poem, The Princess and the Beetle, joins the Myths and Tales web series and we couldn’t be more excited.

The official release date of the web series will be released soon so don’t forget to check back.

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Click HERE to read the full poem…

It was my thirteenth birthday and I was spending it with my Aunt Lola. She was a quirky old lady who had known me since I was born. She wasn’t really my aunt at all but she had been such a close family friend she earned herself the title. I had come to live with her after an unfortunate accident with a moose and a very high cliff claimed the lives of my parents.

Well Loopy,” she said. (This was just a nickname she had for me. My real name is Lucy) “I can’t believe you are thirteen years old already.”

Given that I was so accident prone, having broken several bones several times, I was pretty mesmerised that I had reached teenage years too. Aunt Lola always made a big fuss of me on my birthday. She had no children of her own so all of her affection was aimed towards me. She gave the most random and strange gifts each year so now that I was a little older and a little more ready for her antics I couldn’t wait to see what was in store. She put an envelope into my hand and kissed my forehead. “I hope you like this one.”

My hands began to shake. Given my aunt’s fondness for all things odd there was no telling what the envelope contained. Therein could lie the secret to a number of mysteries. It could hold the key to eternal life. It could be a coupon for 10% off at any local clothes store. I tore open the envelope excitedly. A shining slip of paper fell onto my lap. I picked it up allowing the coloured paper to delight the eyes. On that special paper read the words, ‘Special Access to the Museum’. Well it wasn’t the secret to the universe but it was a great idea none the less. I was the strange kid who would rather sit in the corner of the playground reading about battles of old than play with the other children. I would much rather hear what ancient Greek philosophers had to say than my fellow classmates who stood at the edge of the football park picking their noses.

There was no time to lose. I had heard on the radio the week before that the local museum had just opened a new exhibit on Ancient Egypt. I grabbed my shining red rain jacket that was water proof but still light and airy. I pulled on my backpack which had the emblem of several superheroes embroidered on it. Aunt Lola had been complaining of what she called ‘the hardships of older ladies’. I wasn’t sure what exactly this meant but to combat it she had to lie with her feet elevated and a piece of silver on her forehead, counting backwards from one hundred.

I decided to leave the Egypt exhibit to the end. It had been busy when I arrived with business men awing at the new set up and mothers being dragged by their progeny because they thought it looked ‘cool’.

The day began to wind down. The museum emptied itself of the day trippers and quietened. As I walked through the main foyer the rubber soles of my shoes squeaked. I saw the fresh sign that directed the way to Ancient Egypt.

There was a lot of gold around. The walls were covered In hieroglyphs. I couldn’t tell if the curators had actually read the hieroglyphs or if they were merely there to impress the visitors because from what I could read they told of a bathroom disaster somewhere off the banks of the Nile.

As I absorbed all of the knowledge that the exhibit had to offer I heard the doors to the section close. I was the only person around, living at least. The lights dimmed except on the large mummy that was encased at the end of the hall. His face had been preserved all that time in a stern expression. The accompanying information explained that his name was ‘Ahmose’. He had been a fisherman but not a particularly good one. His people saw him as cursed, a jinx if you will. Ahmose was responsible for all the ill fate that befell them. Poor Ahmose. It seems he was accident prone like me. Because he had bumped into a builder, causing him to fall, destroying the temple that was in construction it seems he was now preserved for people of my year to gawk at his stupidity. They took jinxed folk very seriously in those days.

My head was buzzing with all the warmth, knowledge and dusty artefacts that the museum had to offer. I made my way back out to the main hall intent on catching the bus home. I pulled open the door but it was locked. ‘Surely they would check everyone had gone before they locked up,’ I thought. There was a heavy smash. My heart leapt from the steady thud of a tortoise to the gallop of a hare. I could feel a presence looming behind me but I couldn’t bare to look.

Argh!’ cried a dusty, throaty voice.

Slowly I did turn. Ahmose was now standing upright for the first time in many years. The paper that gave me special access to the museum slipped from my pocket. Ahmose reached down to pick it up with a crunchy crack of his mid section. He clasped it between the remains of his fingers and held it out to me.

Leave me alone!” I screamed. “Help!” Surely the museum wasn’t deserted.

Argh!” Ahmose replied.

With a quiver of my extremities I reached into my pocket and took out my mobile phone which Aunt Lola insisted I carried in case of emergencies. I was pretty sure that being attacked by the undead could very well be considered an emergency.

Hello?” Aunt Lola answered.

Help me!” I cried out.

What’s wrong?” she asked still calmly balancing the silver on her forehead.

A mummy! Its came to life. I have to get out of here!”

Most people when they tell their aunt something like this they either think they are crazy or attempting a practical joke. Not my aunt. She returned as though it was an everyday occurrence. “Do you like him?” she asked.

Like him? Its a mummy! He’s going to kill me!”

Aunt Lola groaned. “Oh don’t be so dramatic Loopy. He’s your birthday present. Don’t you like him?”

I stared at Ahomse. He stumbled backwards almost tripping over his own left foot. “Argh!” he groaned again looking at his left leg. “How many people can boast having their own mummy,” continued my aunt.

Not many,” I agreed.

Enjoy,” she said and hung up leaving me alone with the dial tone and my mummy.

Ahmose lifted a piece of pottery from the shelving. It slipped from his fingers and smashed on the floor.

My most immediate problem was devising a plan to get out of the museum that looked possibly locked, take my mummy on the bus and get home whilst not getting caught for thieving from the museum.

Next birthday I’ll just ask for clothes?

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I was just a little kid when I first realised I had the power to bring things back from the dead. It’s not a skill that I would put on a job application or anything but it is definitely something not many people can do.

My beloved gerbil, Flower Pot, died and like most kids losing a pet I was distraught.

We’ll put him in a nice box and bury him,” mum had said softly.

Just put him in the bin.” My elder brother was not so sensitive.

I hadn’t been able to bring myself to move Flower Pot. When he started to stink we all agreed the time had come.

I lifted Flower Pot from his cage.

He was a good gerbil,” I muttered ceremoniously. Then I felt his little foot twitch.

Don’t be silly,” said dad. “That gerbil is long gone.”

I was almost at the point of agreeing when Flower Pot twitched again. I almost dropped him when he flicked his little ears, opened his beady eyes and turned over.

He’s alive! He’s alive!”

Mum, dad and my brother all shared a shocked expression that could only have been heightened if it had been me who had come back from the dead.

I grinned. My pet was safe and sound. His furry little body was warm again. He gave a squeak. I gushed. Then he sank his teeth into my finger. I had to shake him off. It took dad and my brother’s strength combined to pull the blood thirsty rodent from me. Flower Pot fell to the ground. He ran across the room. In the commotion the chair was knocked over, landing on the gerbil. Flower Pot still ended up in a box in the yard that day.

When word got out that I could bring pets back to life I was inundated with requests. I tried to explain that Fluffy and Snowball wouldn’t be the same but people were so attached to their animals who was I to stop them?

When Mrs Albot at number twenty four asked me to bring back her boa constrictor George, I had to call it quits. There was already a monster rabbit terrorising the local kids and a vicious goldfish in the pond in the park. We really didn’t need a 7ft reptile with a taste for flesh slithering around.

I hung up my walking dead pet business and life carried on as normal. That was until I met Harry.

Walking home, clutching the straps of my backpack and whistling to myself I passed the church. There was a teenaged boy sat on the steps. He was weeping behind a mop of black hair. His arms were tucked inside the sleeves of his hooded jacket.

Are you okay?” I asked. I loathed to see a stranger in trouble.

He looked up at me teary eyed. His eye liner had smudged.

It’s my girlfriend Zoe. She’s gone!”

He removed a photograph from his pocket. It was of a girl who would have been very pretty if it weren’t for the black curtains of hair almost concealing her entire face. Two blackened eyes peered out and black painted lips pouted.

She was so young. There was so much ahead of her.”

I felt sorry for him. My aunt said my ability was a gift. I wasn’t so sure. She hadn’t seen Flower Pot almost rip my finger off. Then again, I hadn’t tried it on humans before. Maybe this time it would be different.

The boy led me to the open casket that Zoe lay in. She looked peaceful. Her face was as pale as it always had been. She wore her signature black. Judging by the photo the girl had been preparing for her funeral her entire life.

I touched her forehead. Harry gave a gasp that echoed through the church as her eyes opened. She sat up like a villain in a vampire movie. Zoe reached her hands out and Harry helped her out of her satin bed.

It was quite a romantic scene really until she lunged forward and tried to chow down on his neck.

Yeah, she may get a little bitey,” I warned.

Are you feeling okay?” he asked her.

Urrggh,” she replied.

Harry turned to me. “What is wrong with her?”

Considering she was dead not a few moments ago I think she looks great,”

Urrrrgghh!” she agreed.

She won’t make much of a conversationalist and you will have to stop her biting people, but all in all you have her back. She looks zombielicious!”

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Run child as fast as your feet will carry you.

Don’t pause for a breath or stop to tie your shoe.

You can look around, cry for help if you like

But this is one time the monster will strike.

You can run deep into the forest, you can hide in the dark,

But we will always find you, for you have the mark.

You will never survive; you’ve already begun to rot,

You can gather wood, set camp just like daddy taught.

It all seems so fruitless now, so close to the end,

When a monster lurks behind every bend.

Our paths are made from the bones of the others,

Somewhere waiting for them are weeping mothers

You will discover as they did, there is now way out,

Burst your little lungs trying to scream and shout.

Just listen please

To the noise of the trees.

They will warn you of what lurks in every inch of this place.

Creatures waiting to snatch you, all eager for a taste.

They won’t wait long, for they are hungry indeed.

Only the blood of a child will fulfil their greed,

All roads lead to the same place in the end.

We all go without a coin, a care or a friend,

So look up child and see what lies in wait.

Thank you little child, for taking the bait.

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Did you know that there is an inspirational message behind THIS PLACE?

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So I admit, it gave it more than a second thought. Holding the card tightly between my fingertips wondering ‘who was this woman from my home land who seemed to know me?’ I had left Westcliff at such a young age that I don’t remember meeting anyone there and they most certainly wouldn’t remember me. Then there was the club – The ‘knock, Knock’ club – that I had been invited to. I had never heard of it before that night either yet it seemed strangely familiar.

Why don’t we go out and celebrate my new job,” I suggested to my wife.

She was apprehensive. “Where would you like to go?”

I raised my eyebrows and offered a wry smile. “I hear there is at least one club open in this town. I may even be on the guest list.”

Theresa slapped my shoulder playfully. She managed a smile. “That isn’t funny Sam. That woman threatened you. She was horrible!”

I put my arm around her. “Don’t worry. Nothing is going to happen to me. It will give me the chance to find out what she wanted. Would you rather stay here?”

Theresa shook her head. “No I don’t want to be home alone again.”

I’m sure you will find that it was all for nothing. They probably just have something to do with the mayor and are trying to scare me from the story.”

Theresa hesitantly agreed…

***

Around eight, Theresa and I wandered the rain lashed streets. Most clubs and restaurants in the town were closed but none of those open were called ‘Knock, Knock’ The rain had stopped so I carried a large black umbrella under my arm.

Let’s just go home Sam. I don’t think we are going to find that club,” Theresa said.

A couple disappeared down an alley way. The woman clutched the man’s arm. She was giggling. She was dressed for a night out. Far more fancy than necessary for an alleyway tryst. I silently urged Theresa to stay as I followed them. The knocked on an old metal door. As the metal door opened a rush of music escaped. The couple went inside. It had to be the ‘Knock, Knock’ club. A lot of clubs had gone exclusive to avoid licensing that were crushing other establishments. Perhaps it was my own apprehension, or maybe empathy for my wife’s concerns but I found myself asking, “Are you sure about this?”

Theresa gripped my arm. “We are just going to see if we can find some information aren’t we?”

I smiled and sighed, the nerves gathered as a fluttering in my chest. We approached the heavy door. The main street seemed one million miles away. The door wasn’t particularly welcoming for a cabaret club. The sign above offered a light humming drown as the bulbs committed tirelessly to their duty.

I knocked heavily – twice for the irony. After a few tense moments the door was finally opened. A tall man with a cigarette between his lips greeted us. He was adorned in a sharp – well tailored black suit, a power red tie and a white shirt.

Evening,” he muttered without removing the cigarette. “Table for two?” With a flick of his wrist a scantily clad young girl dashed over and ushered us to a vacant table. She offered us a menu each. They were simple, black with the name of the club on it. It was sticky and well used. A stage as the main focus of the club. The band was deep in their music. The chorus girls were dancing in a parade of sequins and feathers. The ‘Knock, Knock’ club was actually so homey it was a pleasant place to be. Theresa even began to settle. We ordered some food. It wasn’t fine dining but it was effective none the less.

The man who had greeted us at the door stepped onto the stage. He had replaced his suit jacket with one from an outfit of evening wear. His red tie was now a black bow.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” his voice boomed over the soft playing of the band. Most of the room looked up from their conversations and offered him their full attention – including my wife and I. “Welcome to the knock, knock club. It has now come to that part of the evening that we love. I know it’s my personal favourite. Please welcome on stage – knock, knock’s finest – Miss T.” In a rush of drums and wind instruments, like the welcoming flag parade of a queen, the man rushed from the stage. The spotlight caught a very striking woman in its clasp. She was met with a thunderous applause. I turned back to Theresa just as one of our waitresses laid down a plat of strange meat. I thanked her and she replied in the way of a well taught serving girl who can offer politeness without saying a word. I looked at Theresa. Her already pale face had drained of all colour.

What’s the matter?” I asked.

She reached her quivering hand out and pointed to the stage. “That’s her! That’s the woman who came looking for you.”

***

I turned back to the stage. Miss T was singing a melody with a touch of old school cabaret and the smallest hint of raunchiness. She wore a silver dress which glinted underneath the stage lights. Her voice was sultry and deep. It was a pleasant tone, soft and warm like honey.

Theresa remained frozen in her chair, staring at Miss T until the performance was over, complete with appreciative calls from the crowd. I stood.

Where are you going?” Theresa cried gripping my arm.

I’m going backstage to find out what she wanted.”

Theresa shook her head furiously. “Please don’t. Just leave it. Let’s go home.”

If I’m not back in ten minutes alert the police.”

Theresa’s hand instinctively went to her mouth to conceal the true level of her grief.

I was surprised that no on stopped me as I slipped backstage. At the end of a long hall, carpeted in a very rich shade of purple, lay a door with the letter T on it. I assumed it to be Miss T’s dressing room. I knocked.

Come in,” came the same silken sound to match the singing. As Theresa had said, her voice was sprinkled with the harsh but musical tones of West cliff accent. I pushed open the door. The cabaret singer was facing the mirror so she spoke only to my reflection.

You are very lost, my man,” she said. A smile formed. There was a larger than normal gap between her front teeth which gave her an almost child like quality. She had removed some of the pins from her hair so her chestnut brown tresses were in disarray.

I’m Sam Crusow,” I said with some severity. “You came to my house.”

She smiled. “You are mistaken. I don’t make house calls.”

I became more frustrated. “My wife is outside waiting on me. She recognised you. She told me you were from Westcliff.”

The woman’s smile widened. “I’m not the only one to leave dear old rainy Westcliff for the opportunities of the big city. Look at yourself.”

I could feel tension building in my shoulders. “Just stay away from me and stay away from my wife!”

As I proposed to storm away the singer finally turned herself to face me. She pulled me back with a ferocious grip. “Now, Sam, let’s not get excited. Your name, is it a family name?” she asked.

I found myself replying, “My grandfather was named Samuel.”

My name is Tabitha. I’m sorry if I frightened poor little Theresa. I’m not going to harm you. I’m trying to protect you.”

There are people out there who would seek to destroy what your father built.”

Having never known my father or anything about him, other than his name, this came as quite a shock. “What do you know about my father?”

Tabitha lowered her eyes. “Nothing that I can discuss with you now. I’m due back on stage in a few minutes. If you go outside you’ll find that Theresa has already left. I believe you told her to alert the police. She doesn’t mess around does she? I suggest you stop her before she does something childish like tattle to the authorities. If you come back to the club tomorrow I will give you everything I have.”

***

I managed to catch up with Theresa just outside the club. She embraced me tightly and kissed my cheek. “What happened?”

Nothing, it’s fine. Like I said just someone playing silly beggars trying to stop me covering the story on Mayor Feltz.”

Theresa wrapped her arm around mine and brought herself close to me. She still seemed to be a little shaken but the crisp night air did some work in taking away our cares.

We found our bright green door lying ajar. We both stopped suddenly.

Wait here!” I instructed, leaving her and venturing into the house to assess the damage.

The door hinges were broken. The furniture overturned. In the initial inspection it appeared that nothing had been taken. Someone had been just trying to shake me up. What was clear though was that whoever it was, they were relentless.

Wiley reporter Sam Crusow has gotten himself in way too deep.

Missed the previous episodes? Read the story from the beginning.

EPISODE 1 

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The story continues!

EPISODE 3 (LIVE NOW)

 

 

There was no one sent to help him so he had to find the stables himself in the dark. His feet sank heavily into the mud. Mercy was still limping although the bold steed that she was, she never complained. As Edgar felt the warmth of the hay that he fed to Mercy he was in two minds whether to return to the house or settle down beside the animal and be off before anyone awakened in the morning. He even got as far as throwing his hat onto the ground before a shiver fired up his spine to remind him just how cold it would get. 

When he returned to the house he found that the rear entrance was open. Had it been left open for him or had it been open all night? He didn’t know. The staff saw him approach yet he still politely knocked on the wooden frame of the open door. A man with a large protruding stomach tucked behind a well pressed white shirt zipped past him almost knocking Edgar back outside. He was among the household staff. Edgar had never had staff of his own but it looked like the staff were mixing with the guests far more than was socially acceptable. 

“Miss Abigail has had a plate prepared for you, sir,” the rushing man called to him over his shoulder. When the only response Edgar could give was a vacant stare he placed the plate he carried down on a table and pushed Edgar from the kitchens with a firm hand on his back. Edgar spotted Abigail. She wasn’t sat in her place at the table but stood behind it. An empty seat was beside her with a fresh plate of stew awaiting the new comer. Hunger pangs gargled in Edgar’s stomach. He sat himself beside the Mayor’s daughter. 

“Daddy!” Abigail rudely called across the conversation being passed back and forth. “This is the man who came to the door. Edwin…”

“It’s Edgar.” Edgar murmured beside her.

Abigail looked down as he found his seat. “I’m sorry,” she said. “This is Edward.”

The Mayor was a tall, slim man who still held a great deal of vitality despite his progressing age. His hair was snow white and he had a full white beard. “It is nice to have you with us Edmond. Enjoy the food. Perhaps you can tell us all about yourself. Where are you from? What brings you here? We don’t tend to get many passersby in these parts.”

It was too late to correct it now so Edgar went along with the name change. “I’m from Elgany,” he said. “I was travelling through on my way to the trading ports in Navaria.” 

A man sat directly opposite him sneered down his  thin pointed nose. “But you have nothing to sell!” he said noticing Edgar was empty handed. 

All eyes now became fixed on the stranger among them. Edgar shuffled in his seat. “I was going to purchase supplies. I have my own trading post back in Elgany,” he said.

The man was relentless. He leaned forward on the table and affixed his beady black eyes on Edgar. His pointed elbows pushed his plate away from his looming  body. “You decided to travelby horse? It would have been much quicker and much easier to sail down the coastline.”

Edgar’s gaze quickly surveyed the others and his surroundings before returning to the man  asking him the questions. “It would have been but my horse – she’s out in the stables – was one of the things I was selling. She doesn’t like the water.”

“So what happened to you Ed?” asked the woman next to the man with the beady eyes. She was much more forthcoming. She had a rounded face and her hair hung close to her scalp in tight curls. Edgar assumed she was the wife of Mr. Beady Eyes, judging by their closeness and body language. 

“Unfortunately on the road I was attacked by highway men. I had to divert and that’s when my horse was hurt.”

The man with the beady eyes raised his top lip slightly in a sneer. “There are no highway men about here,” he stated. 

The woman patted her hand against his arm as though scolding a small child. “Now Bryan, stop giving the boy a hard time. He has been through enough.”

“I’m only trying to find out where he came from Martha,” Bryan ‘Beady Eyes’ complained. “I would only give a hard time if he had something to hide.”

Edgar affixed his most pleasant smile. “No harm done,” he said through gritted teeth. 

Martha and Bryan returned to their own conversation leaving Edgar alone. The rest did likewise. Edgar stabbed a fork into the meat and had a small piece. He had lost most of his appetite and just wanted to sleep. He turned to Abigail to find she had rested her head in her hands on the table but her eyes were firmly closed and a soft wheezing was escaping from her nostrils.

Edgar managed to clear most of the food on his plate, just through politeness. When he wanted to excuse himself he approached the Mayor. It had been the first time since his arrival he had managed to have an audience with him alone. The Mayor had spent most of the evening dancing with the local women and singing bar songs with the men, including little ditties with the staff. 

“I just wanted to thank you for your hospitality. I’m very tired from the journey now, if I could trouble you for somewhere to sleep for the night?” Edgar enquired politely. 

The Mayor looked up at him, large white teeth made a wide grin. The room on the first floor, second on the left should be vacant. Do you need someone to show you the way?”

Edgar shook his head the negative. He was just approaching the doorway that lead upstairs when Bryan called after him. “I am surprised the Hangram didn’t get you…”

Edgar turned back. His patience wearing to the thinnest it had been all evening, including when the robbers were behind him. “Excuse me?”

“The Hangram  hunts down criminals.”

Martha smacked her husband’s arm again. “You are scaring the boy!” she exclaimed. “You don’t know he’s a criminal.”

In the midst of the conversation Edgar hadn’t noticed the music stop. Everyone was staring at him again. He had never before felt more like a stranger. Even Abigail had stirred from her slumber and was watching him with blurry eyes. 

“What … The hell …. Is the Hangram?”

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I was incredibly proud of Myths and Tales Volume 1. I always loved short stories and poems so to write my own was a thrill.

First off the bat was the poem – THE MAN WHO WOULD NOT DIE. It was the first poem to be added to the collection and it was also the first that was ever read out loud to those who were kind enough to listen.

It is amazing to hear from readers who, after all this time, are still reading Myths. It is ambitious in that it caters for a variety of tastes and different genres so hopefully you can all find something enjoyable in it.

“The tried to rid of him, it took twenty tries,

For he was the man who would not die!”

Click HERE to read the full poem!

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