And the moon looked on…

Another inspiring challenge from Sonia – Moonstruck, another little story…Actually its not as little as it should be  – but at 564 words its my best effort at brevity! I hope you enjoy…

The raggedy face of the moon loomed large over warm night’s happy revelry. Lovers coiled and blood red wine sloshed noisily among the swaying trees.  They danced to celebrate the passing sun in shadowed time with hidden sins, becoming by night what day would judge with too much black and white.

Michael the pock faced boy darts amongst the drunken hoard. His quick fingers harvest fearlessly. The lord has opened his gates to all and Michael means to take his due from those of better birth. They won’t keep him down tonight, not whilst the moon is crowned with the smoke of a passing squall, in from the sea like a hungry crew out for mischief. He is out for mischief too, if only Sofia the pretty barmaid would return his stare.  But Sofia looks to that pleasant copse where the blacksmith’s son followed like a man possessed the redheaded stable-girl. If only that were me she sighs, between these thighs I’d make him happy. Her dimpled smile briefly dazzles a passing guardsman.

‘Ho there pretty!’ he cries. ‘I do find myself in love…’ his eyes drop, ‘with one of your finest ales!’

No love for me tonight, Sofia sighs, unless you count the thief who moons so long he almost drops his ill gained wares.

‘Come pretty wench,’ the soldier drawls,’ Serve me a beer, and if you’ll sit on my lap, I’ll give you a child to bounce on yours!’

His companions laugh as she grows pink. Let him have his frothy beer, she’ll not crawl.

‘Leave her alone!’ the thief boy declares, ‘Sofia is made for better.’

‘Is that so?’ retorts the soldier, one arm snaking around her waist as his sword snakes for the boy’s throat.

‘I’ll cut you to ribbons man. I’ll paint you red with your own blood.’ His point draws aside the thief’s shirt, ‘A haul to make a rich man blush. Get him boys!’

And so the fox bounds from baying hounds, through dancing trees and frozen humans. Time suspends its next tick. The boy rounds laden tables and pitches into the forest, floor all adorned with lovers. Shouts startle the redheaded girl from encircling arms.

‘What’s that?’ she cries as a pale shape passes by.

‘It’s just the moon’ says the blacksmith’s son.

‘Only if it’s on two legs,’ she replies, ‘and fleeing swords of dawn.’

The moon looks on with a crooked smile. The night’s entertainment has her in good cheer even as she surrenders the sky hated sister bright.  Let her have the day, when night’s in such wondrous disarray!

The prince of thieves, pock faced as the moon herself, springs free from the sheltered copse, soldiers cursing in his wake, and jumps, falling, flailing over the cliff side all in gloom. Past gloaming waves he crashes, beyond fierce rocks, and into the sea’s cold embrace.  He struggles in the deep dark. These coins will kill me, he thinks as they fall like sand beneath his kicks. Lightened, he rises like a bubble. A little skiff, white as his love and cunningly harbored, meets his drenched, desperate hands. He slithers aboard the little ship, catching breath. In his pockets nothing remains, the sea has taken all…save a single gold coin. He holds it up – this King’s ransom, this sun bright coin, and with it all thoughts of moon and night are put away.

Out Beyond the Wall

My thanks again to Jenny Matlock’s Saturday Centus, this prompt was way too good to resist…

This wall was built long ago…
Too much life for the straight and narrow way,
Great and crashing waves of existence,
Too strong for the emerging mind of man.
 
And so a wall was built deep and high
To keep out the night of unconsciousness,
To hold back the forgotten dread,
That sneaks  in through quiet times
To take us unawares,
Or breaks over ramparts,
And soak us in the icy brine of prehistoric life.
 
What am I, who am I and what does the wall hold back? we might ask,
It protects us from too much life,
It contains the other side we cannot abide,
But now like all good adventurers I must go out,
Out beyond the wall,
Into the camp of night , into winter’s shadowy grip,
And bring back that jewel of the hidden north,
Bring back myself: whole and full.
 
Pray that I return-
Pray that The Wall lets me pass,
Back to warmth and comforts of the mundane…
Or on moonlit nights look out for me;
A knot of night in the passing gloom,
Forever calling you…
Out beyond the wall.
 

No more does the bell toll

And now for something a little different…

I’ve been inspired once more into storytelling by Sonia at Doing the Write Thing. June’s challenge: a flash fiction piece about ‘mythical’ creatures. Here’s my take on a favorite creature of hers…

Newsflash:

‘It’s Sunday 26th June and I’m Jenny Beaker with this breaking news. Police patrols have clashed with large groups of people roaming the streets. Our science correspondent Robert Raiman reports from central London. ‘

‘Thanks Jenny. Since the advent of fully immersive VR life chambers the sight of large crowds on the streets has become a rarity. But now, with a new condition scientists are calling ‘vacant life syndrome’ crowds of apparently mindless people have begun to congregate into roving packs. I have with me Dr Rubecker. Doctor what is causing this?’

‘Well Robert it seems that in advanced cases of mental detachment, such as when a subject is plugged into an immersive reality for long periods, the unconscious begins to reassert control of the body, following the basic of urges: to establish territory, to seek out a mate and to eat…’

Screaming interrupts the interview.

‘Does this explain the violence we have seen?’

The Doctor glances nervously over his shoulder. ‘Well yes Robert. You have to understand that in the absence of conscious control the laws and conventions of society cease to have meaning.’

‘You can see it in their eyes! Oh god you can see it in their eyes.’

‘Excuse me young lady, I am trying to conduct an interview here.’

‘They bit me, they bit me!’ the girl frantically waves her bloodied arm and missing fingers.

‘Back to you in the studio Jenny…Jenny?’

‘They’re coming for us!’ screams the girl as an animal roar builds and crashes down the street.

‘Where’s your car Robert?’ asks the Doctor.

‘Robert!’

The good doctor spins just in time to see the empty eyes of the horde, all clutching hands and bloody, broken teeth, before the wave of what was once humanity sweeps over them.

In the houses and living rooms across the country there is no-one to see the television stations falling one by one into fizzing chaos, only doors banging in the wind and in the distance, the occasional sound of screaming. Solemn Big Ben rings out once, twice, three times as if this were any other Sunday. Then no more does the bell toll.

The Seven Races of Man

In addition to poetry and other writings on the subject of Zen, I have also been known to dabble in writing fantasy novels. Here in the UK however Fantasy has entered a somewhat serious phase. With the novels of Steven Erikson and others it now seems that fantasy can no longer be about beautiful elves, treacherous goblins and blood thirsty orcs. In this brave new world the forests are burning and the elves are all now in brothels, the goblins have opened casinos and are making a packet, and the bloodthirsty orcs are in fact a muddy reflection of ourselves; sadly out-competed and forced by desperation to pillage. Steven Erikson is probably my favourite fantasy author of the last ten years so this is certainly not a criticism of his or subsequent fantasy, yet part of me thinks something has been lost. The well-worn clichés of fantasy, or tropes as Sonia Medeiros of Doing the Write Thing calls them, have something archetypal about them. There is a stubborn magic in such tales, a magic that talks to our unconscious. We have come so far, this human race, but in our journeying have we left one half of ourselves behind? So in response to Sonia’s May Challenge to give old fantasy tropes new life, and to attempt to reinvent and redirect my own faltering fantasy novel-in-progress, I present the following poem-stories. Imagine a world where not one but seven races of man still walked, each striving for dominance of the earth. Such a place is where my story is told. See if you can spot where my races come from in traditional Tolkien Fantasy, and where they have taken their own, new paths. (Apologies the word count Sonia is 588 – editing was never my strong point!)

Seven races of man were born,
Grown from void filled with earth licked by flame,
Each made in dark to strive,
For the light of lasting dominance,
Each in turn to taste victory and ashes,
As time grinds its hoed furrow on the world,
This is their story.

 *

First came the Camlock,
Lizard skin, bleached eyes unblinking,
Sinuous and cold,
Their mastery long as forgotten eons,
As they are now forgotten,
By those once enslaved.

*

Across the seas they came,
As if the waves could not
Fill them up with cold forgetfulness,
With whip and fire they came amongst us,
As if with heavy brows and strong limbs slow to strike,
We were no more than chickens
Cuckolded to their frigid care,
With our seeds mixed down to nothing,
Held in chains beyond where sea meets sky,
Yet the blood still flows,
Where Burmid eyes rise with fire,
And brutish hands long to strike and tear,
Long forgiven yoke upon his neck,
From then till now rage shall become us,
Until we find ourselves once more in clear meadows,
On the other side of the sea.

*
 
Old ones,
Fast ones,
Childar blood ages like wine
In the deep forests of the world,
We who are of one mind
With nature’s covenant,
The childless-
One born for every lost,
But if we brew for war,
The world brews with us,
And if our coven grows dark,
A most unpleasant broth for the world over
To swallow,
Let them know our peace,
Or let them know our end.

 *

The Runtar run
With fire cupped hands,
The gift of life and blood
To the long legged hunters with seeking spear,
May this plain never end,
Until the lightning laces with fire
The long grasses,
And it is time once more-
To run.

*

Sharp toothed,
Sharp eared,
Fox minded,
Let mine be mine and yours be mine,
Gamster country over,
And if in back stabbing,
I do stab around the world,
To my own back,
So be it-
Let the games go on.

*
 
We the little people,
The tunneling, hiding, laughing people,
Let us be or see us disappear-
Between the blink of an over-large eye,
The grasp of an overreaching hand,
We own the corners of the world,
There are more of us than can be guessed,
But what Dareen build none shall know.
 
*
 
Humanus knows not what he knows,
Orphaned child of disowned parents,
Glistening eyes for future only,
Mind like the edge of a blade,
Blood that wets the world with endless strife,
The possessed people,
Behind the castle walls the darkness growing,
Ambition to topple the gods,
Heedless of the ticking of the clock,
And chapters written by foreign hand.

*

There comes a final reckoning,
As each generation proclaims their feted years,
Yet on these times is placed the weight of centuries,
Drawn from well of worlds yet to come,
When the players of games shall cast their die upon all the lands,
When those slow to anger will be brought to frothing rage,
When the lost coven will burst like a boil in the midst of peaceful nature,
When the tall wanderers will wander no longer and plant their spears in city streets,
When the hidden ones shall have no sanctuary,
When the orphaned ones shall dream the memory of chains,
When the forgotten shall be remembered in the flames of vengeance,
Then in chaos shall reign the perfect storm,
And even the gods shall be as motes of dust,
About the seven crossed roads of destiny.

(C) Copyright Mark B Williams 2014
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