This is the place to write stories if you can't log in often or don't want to read back so far.
Each post will be a complete story - a short, short story - think something someone can read in a couple of minutes.
To make things even easier, the person before you will pick the character and the setting after they finish their tale.
You may do anything you like with what you've been given, add characters (especially characters from above stories to give the feeling that all tales come from the same world) move the character from/to the setting but:
the main character MUST the one chosen
and the setting MUST be used at sometime in your short tale
and the story MUST be horror, fantasy or science fiction with an element of evil.
Allow me to start the ball rolling:
CHARACTER: Nagathra the witch.
SETTING: Atop a hill, above a town, at midnight.
October 2nd, 2003, 01:38 PM
Atop the hill above the town at midnight, Nagarathra considered the nature of her universe. As she did so, Nagarathra practiced her favorite uni-nostril breathing technique breathing first through her right and then her left nostril. She was a firm believer in the research that indicated such techniques increased her ability with spatial tasks. She needed all the help she could get as her universe was under attack from an unconstrained space bar.
Many people in the town below thought the space bar was no more than a minor irritant, had trouble dealing with Nagarathra’s continuous complaining and dire warnings, thus reminding the witch of the ancient proverb about a bitch garnering no respect in her home town. Nagarathra knows this space bar attack is more than it seems, she can feel it in her tab keys.
The alternating breathing provides a side effect; it calms the witch as nothing else has done. With calm comes focus; with focus comes a picture; with a picture comes a solution, practical, achievable, doable. Affirmed, Nagarathra remembers to bless the guru who recommended this particular yoga exercise. She remembers with fondness the guru’s assurance that this technique was nothing to sneeze at, the guru’s down home means of instilling deep understanding with harmless bromides.
Armed with knowledge, blessed with power, Nagarathra stalked down from the hill to the town below to have done with the evil of the unconstrained space bar.
Throwing open the swinging doors, Nagarathra marched to the center of the dance floor, her progress spewing couples left and right from her passage. Like a modern battle tank, she was not to be forestalled by minor impediments. Center stage, so to speak, she waved her wand creating a spiffy lightning strike that jolted the jukebox to a standstill, the lights to fiery brightness, and the crowd to resentful hush.
“This is not my mid-summer’s night’s dream, folk. To bring in – God shield us! – aliens among ladies is a most dreadful thing.” Not an uneducated crowd, mind you, but no one in attendance that picked up on the reference. Undaunted, Nagarathra continued. “A space bar belongs where a space bar belongs, between alternate universes or Alt keys as the case may be, and this space bar is definitely not located there. This space bar must go!”
The gesture she used was more like a pointed finger that struck downward, her index finger darting, then stopping as if meeting resistance, then bouncing back just a smidgen. Around her the building disappeared, the bar disappeared, the dance floor disappeared, the juke box disappeared. Everything but the people disappeared. It might have been better if they had disappeared as well. Several women found themselves without partners where moments before had been ardent admirers. One young maid of 49 summers and just as many winters expressed her displeasure with an emphatic “shit!” rounding on Nagarathra with murder in her eyes. “How the hell did you do that? And much more importantly, undo it!”
“I did it with a standard carriage return,” came Nagarathra’s smug reply, followed by an even more smug: “and this keyboard has no undo function.”
At that point, Nagarathra did what uncountable prophets before her had done; she left home.
For the next challenger:
Character: Santo Bernardo
Setting: An Alp in December
Inpiration for this was from RS' name, Nagarathra, and this website: http://www.yogasite.com/research1.html
October 2nd, 2003, 06:51 PM
He took the train, of course, everyone who visits the Alps these days takes the train. It was just a short ski from the station to the first of a long series of ski lifts up the alps.
As Santo Bernardo joined the throng of commuters escaping the station, jostling skis and poles, he thought of how much more romantic it had been for his ancestors. Every year a Santo Bernardo had to climb the alps on December 1st and make a sacrifice to the Gods of the Mountain to appease them and make the mountains safe for the crowds that flocked to the ski fields each year.
Great Uncle Santo had once refused and the Gods' retribution had been swift. Massive avalanches had swept down from the mountains sparing nothing in their path. Thousands had died. Santo knew that sacrificing one for the lives of thousands was a small price to pay.
Santo's own father, Santo, had been incarcerated for appeasing the Gods the year before last, and the job had become Santo's. He was the only Santo Bernardo alive and free.
And last year.. oh last year, Santo could still see his victim's face, the horror in her eyes. Those eyes haunted him constantly. Today her eyes stared at him accusingly from each of the commuters beside him. Each of them a possible victim. Santo took a swig from his whiskey flask.
In the past, when people believed in Gods, victims were chosen. They were informed of their role and prepared for it. They accompanied a Santo to a large rock on the Mountain and begged that he carry out the ritual so her family and home would be spared. But these days, finding a victim demanded stealth. No one would willingly give up their life for others. Santo took another swig. People today were selfish. They were selfish and evil and they deserved to die. Santo scowled at them all as he donned his skis and moved into the path of a ski lift.
Two young girls got on beside him. Pretty and dressed in bright jackets and cute woolen hats. They chatted enthusiastically, they grinned as they giggled and pointed out a glorious world passing below them. Santo found it hard to reconcile his need to see them as selfish and greedy. But he had to do it. One of these girls must die or all those people below would die.
Santo gulped and smiled at the girls. "Where do you ski?" he asked.
"Just on that slope there." One of the girls pointed.
"There is a much more interesting slope on the otherside of the rock there. I could show it to you."
The girls looked at each other and smiled. "OK!" they said together.
The day was bright and sunny. They were together. There were a lot of other skiiers, why should they be suspicious?
So they followed Santo, skis and poles over their shoulders up to the rock. Santo took another swig on his whiskey flask only to find it was empty. No more Dutch courage.
"Do you know about the Gods of the Mountain?" Santo asked.
"No, is it a folk tale?" one girl asked.
Thunder sounded far off.
Santo looked up at the clear sky. "No. They are real. They are mean and angry Gods and they hate people clambering all over their domain. So every year we must give them one to keep them happy." Santo stopped at the rock and waited for the girls to catch up.
"What do you mean?" they asked.
"We give them one person and they let the rest live. Only these days people are selfish. They don't want to save other people... only themselves."
The girls looked at each other then one girl said. "The Gods are selfish for not wanting to share the mountain."
"Yes. But they are Gods. The mountains are theirs."
"Shouldn't they lead by example?" she said.
"But if you don't do as they say. They send avalanches."
"You should never give in to tantrums," the other girl said and crossed her arms.
Santo realised then that the girls were right. Out of the mouths of babes... It was the Gods who were wrong. He drew his knife. The girls backed away.
"You will have no more sacrifices!" he screamed at the sky and plunged the knife into his heart. "No more Santos to do your dirty work..." Santo's voice whispered as blood bubbled up in his throat and he fell into the snow.
Lucky Santo. He didn't feel the avalanche that rocked the mountains that day. He didn't know about the thousands that died. He wasn't buried for days under the snow huddled against a cold rock like those two girls were. Those two girls who vowed to appease the Gods next year and every year.
NB. No yoga was abused in the writing of this story
CHARACTER: Joylene the Innkeeper's daughter.
SETTING: The Inn on a dark stormy night.
October 3rd, 2003, 12:10 PM
A wind blew through the common room signalling the arrival of another lonely traveller into the orbit of a warm fire and a good meal. It was a beacon to those who ventured far from home, nobody ever questioned why Griswald had ever set up his Inn in the middle of nowhere, the Waylander had always been there, so it seemed. On a stormy night such as this when warmth, food and a bed for the night were offered at a reasonable price no-one thought to question it.
Barik was one who never questioned things, he didn't need to, have axe will fight was his motto and despite several grotesque scars it had served well up to this point.
"Keep the wine flowing woman."
The wine in question was a big part of the Waylander's attraction, it was the best for miles around. The woman in question was also a big attraction. Joylene was Griswald's daughter. If it needed to be mentioned further she was to all and sundry, off limits.
Barik didn't believe in limits. Wasn't his style.
"Damnit woman if I have to come over there I shall put you over my knee and spank you."
At this ribald, and overly loud, comment a normal inn would have exploded into laughter and merriment. In lieu of this, the silence greeting Barik was even more profound.
It never ceased to amaze Barik's simple mind how despite Joylene's instant attractions, drunk or sober, that she had bewitched so many hardened men into being so much like her brothers that the intent to bed her was greeted with anger.
Barik knew all about anger, he was baresark after all.
At the point of explosion Joylene appeared with a full caraf and a smile that drained away the rage, if only he could bottle that.
He took her hand and apologised sincerely under the multiple pairs of watching eyes. Who could be mad at Joylene.
Barik drank most of the night as was his want, quaffing bottles of wine like water. His constituency was stronger than any politicians. But eventually the malaise of road-sore feet, too much alcohol and sheer exhaustion, though he was loathe to admit it, drove Barik to bed. Which was occupied. Even in his state Barik knew there was something amiss, he spun clumsily on his heel bringing his oak-handled, butterfly axe to bear. It took Griswald clean through the waist, exiting via the left hip and the pelvic girdle. Griswald laughed, the wound healing itself before Barik's eyes. But in that moment the spell had fallen, Barik saw the wasted skin of Griswald, the worms crawling from eye sockets. He screamed a manic cry, a cry of madness and rushed past Griswald, not daring to look back at what Joylene might be. He ran like no sane man could, half falling down the stairs and into the common room. Where they waited. Brothers he had thought, aye brothers in darkness.
A sinister, mocking laugh echoed from the top of the stairs, reverberating through the high-ceilinged building.
"I see your charms have a high cost lady."
The succubus stood magnificient in the candle light.
"And it is time for you to pay Barik."
He awoke as if from a deep sleep, there was fresh meat in the common room, after all the wine must flow.
Apologies - thanks for the cover Cnaeus
October 3rd, 2003, 01:15 PM
Oops, Kater forgot to name a character and setting. How about:
CHARACTER: Castor Niall, Assassin
SETTING: Secret passage leading to the King's bedchamber
October 4th, 2003, 12:51 PM
For the third time Castor hit his head on the low roof of the tunnel. He swore to himself and took a deep breath.
"Calm down," he whispered. He forced himself to stop, he could feel his heart racing in his chest, it always did when he was on a job, he knew it wouldn't stop until he was safe in his bed, but that wasn't going to happen unless he could keep his nerve.
He was glad of his cloak, not only did it cover his weapons but it kept the cold out. Considering the tunnel ran through the walls of the royal residence it was bloody cold and damp. He drew his cloak around himself and started walking again. Foolishly he hadn't brought a lantern this time, he'd thought he knew the route well enough but he was going to have a couple of spectacular bruises with no believable reason.
"Ah well," he thought, "Cross that bridge when I get to it."
He reached the end of the tunnel, pressing his ear against the oak panelling he held his breath listening for sounds of movement. After a few brief moments he started to run his fingers around the panels searching for the hidden switch. It took longer than he expected, the cold making his normally nimble fingers stiff and numb, and every second wasted was a second closer to being caught. He could just imagine the uproar if he was caught, the people he had killed over the years. The ambassador from the Low Countries was the last. He'd been easy, just slip into the room, cut his throat and slip out again. The dificult thing was not to get caught. That was his problem now. The chances of the Kings bedroom being empty were pretty low, and if there was anyone there he would be exposed for sure.
He stepped quietly into the room taking the dagger from his belt, the deep carpet muffling his footsteps. The door slid closed behind him. Silently he walked across to the royal bed only to stop as the door ahead of him opened.
He dropped the knife onto the carpet and kicked it under the bed and turned to the opening door to see a liveried servant rush into the room.
"Your Majesty!" the servant said before seeing the grubby cloaked figure stood in the room.
Castor Niall threw back his hood and looked the servant in the eye. "Yes?" he replied "What exactly is the problem?"
The servant bowed "The Ambassador has been killed your Majesty"...
Character Colerne Longford, Master of the Guards
SettingAn empty stable block
October 4th, 2003, 09:18 PM
Colerne Longford stirred. His ears rang. He sat up and shook his head. Still his ears rang. What had he drunk last night? He looked around. As his vision and hearing cleared, he realised he was in the stable and the ringing was the church bell.
He lept up. "To arms!" he shouted and immediately doubled over holding his head in regret. He stumbled to his trusty horse, only to find him missing. The entire stable was deserted. Colerne staggered out into the bleary morning light.
"Nagarathra!" he yelled, stumbling into the yard.
Seated cross-legged on an upturned swill-bucket, gazing serenly at the rising sun, nostrils flaring alternately, Nagarathra ignored him.
"Nagarathra, you ugly trollop of the devil, where is everyone?"
Nagarathra held up a hand and began counting under her breath. "10, 9, 8, 7..." with each breath a nostril flared making the wart on the top of her nose wobble alarmingly from side to side like a fat woman on a galloping camel. "... 3, 2, 1. Yes, Master of the Guards what knowledge is it you seek from me?"
Colerne, whose newly regained ability to focus had unfortunately chosen the wart to start with, snapped out of a trance. "Where is everyone? Where's my horse? Can't you hear the bells?"
"Perhaps they are all rejoicing in the dawning of a new day?" Nagarathra ventured.
"No, you twisted snake-eyed tart!" Colerne grabbed her bony arm and shook her. "They are not rejoicing! Quit the zennish new-age clap trap and tell me what you saw."
"The horses seemed to rejoice when I set them free, admittedly the guards seemed less pleased..."
"I don't care if you do make the best bat stew this side of the black stump, you are out of a job if you don't call them back here right now. I know your hometown and how anxious they are to find you."
Nagarathra eyed him, coldly. "That's blackmail."
Col smiled. "Fill in a complaint form and I'll deal with it after I've dropped you home."
Nagarathra slotted two bony fingers into missing teeth slots and let out a ear-splitting squeal.
Colerne doubled over clutching his head. "A little warning..." he groaned. His head pounded... no.... the ground pounded... oh thank the Gods for that. Steaming horses galloped into the yard and surrounded Nagarathra, snorting and panting. The ground still pounded and steaming guards stumbled in panting and wheezing.
"You sorry excuses for guards! Can you not keep your horses under control! Look at you, all flab and flatulence! Now mount up the bells are ringing. The town needs our help! We should've been there ages ago. They will lose faith in us!"
A couple of the guards protested between wheezes but their protests mainly consisted of bouts of coughing and the word "but".
Colerne swung onto his mount and wheeled around on Nagarathra. "You goat-hipped sow-bellied wench, amend the delay your mischeiviousness has caused and you may keep your job and your santuary within these walls."
Nagarathra smiled. There were fresh bouts of coughing from the guards but Colerne stifled them with a shout of "Mount up!"
Nagarathra closed her eyes, spread her arms and pointed her bony talons at the horses. Instantly, they sprouted wings and soared into the clouds.
"This is more like it!" Colerne whooped.
They touched down outside the city square in an instant. The horses wings folded in and disappeared and they went from flying to galloping without missing a beat. The guards thundered towards the crowd of townspeople gathered on the church steps.
"Thank God you are here!" the priest called. "We had to take refuge in the church. We were beset by terrible flying horses. They chased us and bit us and herded us like animals. The beasts have only just left, up towards the Guards' Station. If you hurry you can catch them!"
Colerne rounded on his men. Their sheepish looks told him it was true. "Don't say a word," he growled as they turned their horses and galloped back to the stables. A high cackling sound drifted down from the clouds and Colerne thought he caught sight of his prize sow flying west with a bony figure perched atop, but he didn't really want to know.
CHARACTER: Thadrock the Troll
SETTING: The Fishmarket.
October 5th, 2003, 04:29 AM
Thadrock the Troll sat against the wall at the far end of the fishmarket, He sat because if he stood his head would be in the rafters of the building some 20 feet above. Carefully Thadrock was watching the proceedings over the top of his large horn-rimmed glasses.
He noticed each movement, each box of fish, each call as the lots were sold to the highest bidder. He took careful note of the signs of the ships as they were displayed on the boards above the boxes of their catches.
The air was full of the shouts and the smell of fish as normal and Thadrock too was doing what was normal, watching and waiting.
"Why are you standing there?" A small voice asked. It's owner, one Sidney Oicklesnout,shifted his clip board out from under his arm and bid on the catch of the Queen Mab. The small man was almost bouncing from side to side. Never still, never waiting, never completely watching everything
Thadrock carefully turned his head and looked down, blinking slowly as his eyes adjusted. "I am watching and waiting."
"For what?" Sidney asked.
Thadrock sighed a heavy sigh. It sounded like the wind from the mountains and ruffled the hair of his small questioner.
"I said for what?" Sidney snapped." Stupid troll..."
"For things." Thadrock said
"You will miss the best catches. " Sidney waved his clip board again and hissed, as the bid for the Queen Mab's catch went across the hall.
"No.... I won't"
"Stupid Troll..."Sidney hissed, not noticing as he again bid for the Queen Mab's catch, that Thadrock had stood up and moved forward to stand right over him.
"Yes the catch is mine! " Sidney cried and bounced as small boy brought him his collection ticket. He took it and slipped it on to his clip board. It was then Thadrock sat down. Sidney's squeals were lost in the sound of the next lot beginning sold. Thadrock had timed it well, no one had seen, no one had heard. He reached under his bottom and pulled out Sidney's clip board, removing the stuck eyeball from the paper tickets. He then called over a number of porters.
"Here are the tickets for the catches I have bought" Thadrock said smiling very slowly.
"By heck... you got the Queen Mab's" One of the porters declared.
"Aye... I just sat down, after I had watched and waited." Thadrock smiled.
CHARACTER OSWALD THE RAT CATCHER.
PLACE THE CELLAR OF THE GUGGLING POT INN
October 6th, 2003, 02:27 PM
His full name includes Friedrich and Wilhelm but everyone in these parts knows him as Oswald. They see his very large self appear every morning outside the door of the Guggling Pot Inn , be allowed entry at his knock, and realize that some time during the night he must have departed. No one ever sees him leave.
Not easy to miss, either. Great, hulking brute of a man taller than the door lintels and almost as wide as the door itself. Must cost some pretty pennies to keep the man alive but no one sees him eat.
Fact is, when most folk get to talking about him, they wonder where he is. Sure, he entered the inn this morning but did anyone see him leave? And if no one saw him leave, where is the man? Eventually, good common sense will cause the puzzlers to ask the innkeeper. He just rolls his eyes. They press him but the man is closer than Miss Missy Mistwort’s knees. Just can’t get an answer from him.
Halfmost Anything is not normally reticent. The man who owns the finest wine cellar in ten countries has no need to be reticent. In fact, his need is to shout from the rooftops that his wine is the best there is and he never runs out. You hardly ever catch him doing that these days but there was a time that most locals remember when that was the order of the day. Old Halfmost would be up there starting at about noon time trying to send his voice up and down the trail to lure folk to his inn. He was so good at it, the locals named the practice after him: called it wierd-of-mouth advertising.
That wine cellar, though, is another mystery. Only one door known to the locals, the one that leads from the main room down. No outside entry at all, there’s pretty much agreement on that fact. How then, folk wonder, does the wine get down there? Oh, certainly, grapes get delivered through the kitchen but no wine. The grapes arrive at the end of the season, one enormous shipment, and down they go never to be seen again. They come back up as wine. To the locals that sounds pretty normal; they let it go at that. They do not worry that no fermenting agent has ever been seen to go through that kitchen door to the cellar nor water barrels, nor sugars. Halfmost takes his keg down and comes back up with wine. To their quiet, country minds it isn’t worth mentioning.
Sooner than not, some bright young outlander will taste the wine, realize it is the finest he has ever tasted and want to purchase some to take to his home country. Halfmost Anything does not do doggy bags or carry outs of any kind. That young outlander will sometime put six and three together. He’ll think to himself that Oswald comes in the morning, the world’s best wine comes up in the afternoon, all very straightforward. He’ll observe that no one comes or goes into the wine cellar after the day’s delivery comes up the steps. Sooner or later one of those outlanders will be the kind that doesn’t mind a quick fortune at someone else’s expense. He’ll figure to make his own fortune by slipping into the cellar and relieving the innkeeper of some of the burden he carries. He knows he’ll need some equipment so off he goes to the town’s store and buys a handful of flasks, an item the storekeeper keeps in stock as the foreigners seem to always be short of them. He buys his from the innkeeper who always seems to have taken a delivery about the time the storekeeper runs low. It’s a fine business relationship.
The afternoon crowd picks up, the noise level rises to mildly stunning, and down goes the thief, totally unobserved, as if the innkeeper did not keep watch on purpose. Down around the curves and bends, deep into the ground the steps lead until at last a candle’s glow welcomes the prospective thief. Before him is a row of vats, a dozen or more, all covered save one from which rises the bewitching scent of wine. The flasks come off the thief’s shoulder as he ascends the stairs resting beside the open vat. He has one filled, starting the second when, from behind, a shadow engulfs him in darkness.
The thief nervously turns to discover the broad grin smeared across Oswald’s face. “Welcome! Welcome!” Oswald effuses, “I’m so glad you came. Was just about to turn a new cat of wine and it wouldn’t do at all without filling the cat’s list.” Noticing the confusion, Oswald sympathetically clarifies: “You’d probably understand the new terms, much like the old, just that people got lazy saying them. Wine needs a ferment, you know, a reagent in terms of these days, a catalyst so to speak. Me, I’m too old fashioned for them terms, I spose. I stick more to the tried and true names like a thief is a rat and cat’s needs rats and that’s why they call me the rat catcher, I guess.”
Character: Philomena the Oracle
Location: The Caves of Delphia
October 7th, 2003, 07:23 AM
Philomena did all her best work in caves. Deep silent places, removed from the world above. Deities were shy in the harsh light of day, or in the glittering temples where worshipers bowed and called, demanding attention, but underground, with the soothing sound of water trickling down from rock walls deities could be tempted to leave a whisper in the dark perhaps believing it could have no bearing on the real world. This was where Philomena quietly went about her business, tempting deities and collecting the whispers. (Sorry, after a lot of work I sold this story, so thought it best to remove it)
CHARACTER: Dysil the undertaker
SETTING: The sausage factory.