Short Story: First Among Equals

“How could you rise anew if you have not first become ashes?”

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

~oOo~

Night had fallen heavy and soundless over the sands. The air, which only hours before had been so hot that he felt his lungs might burn, now stung with bitter cold. Zoraster shook silently. The cold still surprised him; the way it crept over the dunes like a wraith, seeming to strip both warmth and life from everything it touched. He wondered if the cold would kill him. Would he notice if it already had? There was no one here to tell him that he was still alive. He had become a restless shade, refusing to lie down at the end of the day. Every lifted foot was an act of will, every jarring step one of attrition.

It would be easier, he supposed, to rest for a while. Sleep would be the end of him, but it would be a faster death than the one he was enduring now.

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Flash Fiction: Pax Imperator

Eighty seven twelve lies breathless under the last hammer blow of the summer’s heat, brought to compliance in a bloody extravagance of war and death.

The Pax Imperator stands in the rubble of a city whose delicate spires once reached elegant and ornate fingers towards the cloudless skies. Scorched lines and grooves, the desperate efforts of the city’s gun emplacements, pepper the observation platform high above. The air here is thin, and my respirator clicks on with a low hiss. At this height, the shattered glass of buildings and landmarks glitter like minerals in so much fine sand. We are detached from the world, separate and aloof. We are carried across the field as the angels of old legends, and the tread of our feet brings doom.

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Shenanigans: Fantasy Fight – Choose Your Team

Breakfast yesterday led to some strange discussions about MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) competitions, and odd rules for disqualifications. We agreed that in theory the world was crazy, and that including a Thai kick-boxer in a competition where blocking and or striking with the shin is disallowed and then not telling them about it is a bit silly, since Thai kick-boxers are made entirely of shin.

Given that my thought process runs on cartoons, I asked a question. Who would be on your fantasy fight team? The company was made of two committed nerds and one person who likes to think he isn’t as bad as the rest of us (but is), so we came up with some interesting combinations, and I wanted to share them and see what other people came up with.

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How NOT to D&D… #4

how_not_to

It’d been nearly a year, and I thought they might have forgotten. No such luck. Every time I saw one of the players from my previous catastrophic attempts to run D&D, they asked when the next session was. Eventually, after three house moves in 12 months and a serious consideration of whether or not to hire a professional hit-man to take out my next door neighbour in house number one (provided they also took out the plug on the stereo system), I found myself living in a nice little semi-detached rental in a suburb of Nottingham. It was peaceful. I made net curtains, and botched putting up actual curtains. Unpacking took weeks.

Then, finally, at the bottom of the last box, I found the 3.5 Players Handbook.

I’d run out of excuses.

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Short Story: Another Life

My heart is broken beyond repair. The fractured pieces of it are so small that they seem like dust in a stray line of afternoon sunlight, and I can do nothing but watch them hang motionless in the air.

I didn’t believe in magic. Not really. And in a way, I suppose it wasn’t magic the way a lot of people imagine it. Magic leads to happy endings. Magic is rainbows and pixies and the handsome prince.

Those are lies.

I’ll show you what magic really is.

I’ll help you see it.

All I need you to do is imagine something for me.

I want you to imagine you’re travelling, and you decide to break your journey in a major city. Let’s say you spend the afternoon there. You buy coffee, you see the sights. Then, for no real reason, you feel sleepy. You lean back on the little park bench where you’re feeding pigeons while you sit and look at some random sculptures. A woman pushing a pram down the gravelled pathway yawns and just sits on the floor. The kid over there on his bike fights it too long and topples sideways onto the ground.

You don’t hear his skull crack as he hits the floor.

You’re already asleep.

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Short Story: The Nursery

When Leibowitz was young, and the world was golden, he’d built a nursery on the west side of the house. Then the war came and brought down with it cradle, baby, and all.
The nursery sat empty while the bombs fell, and once the sky cleared, there was no one left but Leibowitz himself; a sad and lonely figure stalking the desolate hallways of the great house, while dust motes span asymptotic to the ground, disturbed by the fading echo of his presence.

He watched, silent and uncaring, as those few people he’d known stopped calling on him, turned away by the unanswered bell, and by the resolute ignorance of the thick oak doors which he never opened. Under the thin sunlight, he became a ghost whose passage no longer prevented the fall of dust, while the whisper of starlight glittered on the empty cradle, rocking under his watchful and eternal gaze.

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