The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part XVI

Novel: Occult Adventure

I convinced her to go out and bring us some food before she left.  After all, we didn’t have much of a chance at winning on an empty stomach, and she wouldn’t want her customers dying on her right after receiving product, right?

“You know,” I said, taking the bag.  “I think you’re okay, for what it’s worth.  I don’t think you’ll use that other watch against Sam.”

She tossed her head to the side and suppressed a smile.  “I think you need to be less trusting.”

“No, I can tell.  You’re a good person, if a little stuck up.”

She frowned.  “And you need a brain-to-mouth filter.”  She glanced at Sam, still asleep in the bed.  “There’s so much more I could tell you.  I think I even should tell you.  But perhaps you shouldn’t hear it from me.”  She sighed and turned, waving as she walked down the corridor, as I stood there puzzled.  “And besides, you have nothing else I’d want in exchange for such information.”

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The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part XV

Exposition tiiiiiiiiime.

Novel: Occult Adventure

I left him and went back to the chair I had been sitting in for much of the day and night.  Gin yawned wide and shook her head, red curls bouncing back and forth.

“Why is he so exhausted?” I said, even more distrusting of Gin after seeing how Sam had changed.  She clearly wasn’t concerned about his state; she just kept on building the watches, moving back and forth between them, working on one, then piecing together the other.

“He’s just recalled all his happiest and most distressing memories and gave them form in his breath.  It was like a day-long psychiatric session, but with the result of building a house rather than just talking.  A house of emotions and memories.  It isn’t done in one day, but you two are in something of a hurry so we sped up the process.”

“Will he be alright?”

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The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part XIV

Novel: Occult Adventure

Flipping her hair over her shoulder with the back of her hand, Gin unslung her bag – a garish orange thing with an blue elephant stitched onto the front – from her shoulder.  She pulled a wrapped bundle from it and spread it out on the floor.  Inside were gears, cogs, pins, screws, casings, all the components of a watch.  Of several watches in fact.  She brought out a smaller bundle of rolled leather, which she unraveled to reveal a number of tiny screwdrivers and tweezers and all sorts of other tools I didn’t recognize.  She sat cross-legged on the floor before all this and began to pick certain parts of the pile from the opened bundle.

“Sit here across from me,” she told Sam.  Her voice was firm, all business now.

For a moment I thought he would change his mind, maybe throw her out.  He certainly paused long enough, standing like a statue before the gears and cogs laid out to change his fate.  But then he sat down in front of the pieces.

“What exactly does this entail?” he said.

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The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part XIII

Novel: Occult Adventure

Sam scoffed, but kept silent.  I suppose he had voiced his displeasure at needing the help and could now accept it, or by my accepting it the matter was taken off his shoulders.  “Who told you about me?”

She pointed to the ceiling.  “Angels, Mr. Sam.”

“Preposterous.  What would they care?”

“There are some big bets going on around about your little job.  I suppose not everyone is being scrupulous about it.”

“Angels gamble?” I broke in.

“Who wouldn’t, over something like this?  Who are you in all this anyway?”

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The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part XII

Novel: Occult Adventure

I was awakened two hours later by a knock on the door.  I jerked upright in bed and Sam, restringing his bow on the other side of the room, leapt to his feet.  I slipped naked out of bed and picked up my gun from the table.  Then we just froze, staring at the door as if it would blow open.

The knock came again.  Sam glanced at me and, after I nodded and pointed my weapon, he inched over to the door.  There was a peephole, and he looked through it but came away looking puzzled.

“Hello?” called a voice through the door.  It was female, young, and had a slight accent I couldn’t place.  She kind of sing-songed the word.

I silently questioned Sam, but he shrugged.

“Hi, I’m looking for Sam?”  She said it like it was a question.

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Give It Back

Short Story: Sci-fi Horror

She woke on Monday without any idea that anything was missing.  She opened the curtains and ate breakfast and rode the train to work as if nothing was wrong, because nothing seemed wrong.  Even the news she pulled up on her implant was the usual – crooked politicians, another bombing in China, second contact with the alien life expected in 3,000 years.  As usual she noticed the other people in the car checking the weather or reading on their phones, and smiled at the thought that soon everyone will be doing all that in their heads like she was.

It had been pricey, but she hadn’t been able to wait.  Being one of the first had its thrills.

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Midnight Train

Flash Fiction: Horror

At first, the soft choo of the train’s horn came to him from far away, as it always had before.  Were he not lying in bed with silence all around him he wouldn’t have heard it at all.  The sound of it always calmed him and set him at ease, because even if he couldn’t sleep up until midnight the train was there to reassure him that everything else at least was running right.

But the next night it had seemed louder, the horn blaring closer.  It made him uneasy, but he convinced himself it was only the wind blowing in the wrong direction, bringing it to his window.

But the next night it was so loud it frightened his old cat from the covers, and he could swear he heard the rattle of the tracks in between blasts of the horn.  This was no trick of the wind.

And then last night, the tracks had rattled enough to shake the house, and it had blown its horn loud enough to shake his eardrums.  It was right outside his window, passing by at its regular time as if all were normal, and as it left he shook under the blankets.

Tonight he lies in bed, shivering, waiting for the train.

The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part XI

Novel: Occult Adventure

His voice was frantic now, a low feral growl moving quickly.  “And Sam, Sam had it all the time.  I’ll see him dead next.”

He looked at me all of a sudden, and his eyes were mad and on fire.  He walked towards me and it took all my effort not to step back.

“And you two,” he growled, “such companions.  So much in love.  I can feel it.  It feels just like that worm of sadness that was my sister.  And shouldn’t I kill you now, to make him suffer?”

He put a hand to my neck, wrapping his long delicate fingers around it but not yet squeezing, still deciding.

I didn’t move.

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The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part X

Atsel talking here.

Novel: Occult Adventure

“I was born normal enough.  This was back when the land was green, when deserts were dust instead of snow.  When the sun rose and fell unshrouded and dazzling on the horizon.  Fruit fell from the trees and greens grew in the earth without aid, and nothing was wanted for.  I had no need for any watch.  I moved and spoke and thought as quickly as anyone.

“I had a sister.  She was older than me, and sad.  So very sad.  And everyone she came into contact with would drink in all that sadness and experience some sadness of their own.  Just seeing her bedewed eyes and downturned mouth and hearing her hopeless words sent people reeling.  But it was different for me.  I could feel what my sister felt.  It wasn’t a look or word or bit of sympathy.  Some terrible link had been established between us that ran in one way only.  Whenever she came near me I would be nearly immobilized by the most overpowering misery, and the only way I could even begin to escape it was to put some distance between us.  At a young age I would go wandering into the wilderness, finding only a small slackening of hopelessness, finding in the woods or the open spaces some small solace.

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Give Me That Back

Drabble: Horror

I can’t remember.  You took it from me.  I don’t even know whether it was a good memory or bad.  Whether I would really want it back or not.  Whether it was from my childhood or teenage-hood or just yesterday, whether it was about you, whether it was about you and me.  It’s just one blank in my mind but it feels like you stole everything.

I can’t remember.

What was it?  Was it something you don’t want me to know?

Was it something you did to me?

What have you done to me?

Oh god please, give it back.