Posts Tagged ‘fear’

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Audhyld looked out at the horses, waiting in the windswept white.

“How long are you staying?” asked the tavern-keeper, looking from Audhyld to her four companions.

“Just an hour or so,” Audhyld replied. “Enough time to eat, to get warm…” She adjusted the sword hanging from her belt. “Then we’ll be on our way.”

“Off to your war,” the tavern-keeper said. “Fighting the Winter Queen.”

“Yes.”

“Are you afraid?”

“I’ve been in battles before.”

“But are you afraid?”

“Terrified,” Audhyld whispered, watching the skeletal limbs of the tree be blown back and forth by winter winds. “Every time, I’m terrified.”


Word Count: 100

This is for Friday Fictioneers. Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for both running the challenge and providing the prompt photo!

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Jan knew he should have felt honored by the great Lord Nirinberk asking him to serve at his side. He knew he should have felt eager for the glory of battle ahead.

But as he stared at the mail coat – the coat he was expected to wear, the coat he might die in – he was terrified.

Jan walked over to the swords and picked one up. The steel was cold and heavy, like a winter storm. Giving it a swing, he tried to imagine himself as a bold knight. He tried to fall back into childhood dreams where swords gleamed and proud warriors came home victorious to the sound of the trumpets.

But all he could imagine was death: blank faces watching the skies, maybe his own amongst them, all the breath gone from his lungs, the last beat gone from his heart.

The sword dropped from Jan’s fingers, clattering like thunder. Jan collapsed to his knees.

“It isn’t easy, is it?”

Lord Nirinberk put a hand on Jan’s shoulder, no longer looking like a storybook hero but rather a man ravaged by battle and memory.

“I was afraid too,” he said. “Fear doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human.”


Word Count: 201

This is for Sunday Photo Fiction.

(I’m very glad to be back and able to do these challenges again. I’ll be putting up a more detailed post about that sometime this week. Thanks to all the readers who read, commented, and liked the content that went up while I was away. You’re all fantastic.)

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A gut-wrenching fear of heights and a job in construction had not, in retrospect, been the best combination. It was George’s first day and he was already regretting every choice he’d made since being born. The fear that tore through him was snake venom, leaving him shaking and frozen, unable to go down and terrified of spending another second where he was.

The scaffolding creaked under his weight and he let out a whimpering sound that he was glad nobody could hear. Unfortunately, nobody could hear it because nobody was there.

He looked down at the ground below and tried to remember how his legs worked.

A window opened and George breathed a sigh of relief as a woman poked her head out.

“You all right there?” she asked.

“It’s the height,” he admitted.

She raised an eyebrow. “You’re only ten feet off the ground.”


Word Count: 145

This was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Thanks to Priceless Joy for running the challenge and Ellespeth’s friend for the photo!

 

Happy 1st of Halloween to all our followers… and yes, Halloween is a month long event, spilling over to November 1st and 2nd to include Dia de los Muertos. In honor of my favorite month and holiday, I am going to only make posts that are dark and creepy and Halloween-y (as if 6 out of my 10 posts haven’t been dark and creepy). So no more romance for a long while, at least not from me. This here is a little writing exercise I made myself do. I just free flowed, and didn’t think or edit much.

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She runs, but can never run fast enough. Her eyes scan all around her, but she cannot see through the darkness. Her chest heaves as she breathes, but she is constantly out of breath. And he is always behind her. He is around every corner, ducking next to every bush, standing just inside of every shadow. And unlike her, he can run fast enough, he can see in the dark, and he doesn’t need to breath. His flesh is dead, polished like white marble. His eyes are cold, forged of diamonds that shine with their own light. The path in front of her is endless. The cold scratches at her face and the trees snag her by the hair. The dirt clamps onto her feet, and the darkness wraps her in its crushing embrace. Still she runs with her frail legs and empty lungs. Her screams are silent. The sun is gone. There is nothingness in front of her, and oblivion behind her. Her heart isn’t strong enough to hold her, but has the might to burst from her chest. She is sprinting down a black road leading to nowhere, and always his breath crawls down her neck. Her nightmare. The only one that can take her from this place, but she doesn’t want to go. She is too afraid. She is petrified, though her legs keep moving, burning, moving. There is no end to her struggle. No end to the road, slick with rain and tears, reflecting the glow of streetlights that are non-existent. And yet, she knows this place. She knows it as home. This winding road that goes on and on with a treeline on both sides gating off the paths that don’t exist. The asphalt disappears with each of her steps. The Earth and the sky collide at the horizon behind her and erase themselves.  He will catch her. She knows this. He will catch her, and she will wake. But she is too afraid to leave the darkness. At least nothingness is not the unknown. At least he is not the unknown. He is everything. He is her mind, hidden in her eyes, and the reason her heart still runs. Forever, she will run. But he will catch her.

The challenge was to write a 1000 word ghost story. I’m a little over at 1079, but I think that still qualifies. Warning- this story was intended to be scary. If you don’t like things that are scary, you probably won’t like it.

Consider yourself forewarned.

The Man in the Mirror

Eustace Clarence had been a thin man with the sort of mustache that belonged on a recruitment poster. Everything about him had shouted military in a quiet, dignified way.

That was the way he had been. As he examined his features in the mirror, he found them quite changed.

His eyes were wild and darting. His precise mustache was gone, replaced by a wild growth of stubble and hair. His tailored suit had been exchanged for a white straightjacket.

There was nothing quiet or dignified about him now.

He saw his visitor enter.

“I was expecting you to drop by,” Eustace said.

“How have you been?”

Eustace shrugged. “Not well. But one can’t expect world-class treatment in an asylum, can one?”

“No, I suppose not.”

“I want to tell you the story,” Eustace said. “You know most of it, of course, but I’d like to tell you anyway. You’re the only one who might believe it.”

The man nodded. “If you think that would help.”

“Yes, I think it might.” Eustace paused, gathering his scattered thoughts. “It all began about a fortnight after I returned from the war…”

I lay in my bed, tossing and turning. I wouldn’t normally admit that, but, well, I have little dignity left to preserve.

I’d seen it in other men, but I’d told myself that they were weak, that a strong-willed man wouldn’t break so easily. I told myself I was made of sterner stuff- a true officer of the empire.

I was wrong.

In my dreams, I was back in Europe, back in those trenches. The fog was pouring over us and the bullets were roaring through the air. The dead were everywhere. Their unseeing eyes stared up at me.

In my dreams, they weren’t just dead. They reached up for me with cold hands, grasping at my feet, at my hands, at everything. They pulled me down, down into the mud….

I would wake up covered in sweat. It drenched my clothing, my sheets- everything.

Sometimes, I’d wake up screaming.

I’m sorry. That’s- It isn’t particularly relevant. It just- it feels good to talk. To tell someone. I hope you understand.

This particular night- this night when it all began- I woke up with a scream to wake the dead. It took a moment of stone-cold reality to bring me back to my senses, to tell me that I was safe in my home, not back in the trenches.

I don’t know what possessed me to go over to my drawer, to open it. My medal was lying there on top of the socks. Just lying there.

I picked it up, turned it over in my hands. It shone so brightly, catching the reflection of the electric light bulb. That light bounced into my eye, flooded it with brilliance.

I blinked. The glare was too much for me.

But in that moment- right as I blinked- I thought I saw it, standing in the corner of the room, just… just watching.

It was the shape of a man, but it was like no human being I’ve ever seen. It was a solid black. Not just dark-skinned, mind you, actual black, black like midnight and coal. The face was black. The hands- more like claws- were black. Those knife-like fingernails were black too.

Everything was black except the eyes. They were white, bright as the moon.

It was a nightmare-thing. A monster.

My vision cleared and I spun around, staring at the corner.

It was gone.

Just my imagination. That’s what I told myself.

It was a nice, easy lie.

I put the medal back and tried to get some sleep.

I saw it again the next day when I was at my writing desk. I was scribbling away some letter- I can’t remember to who. My pen had run out of ink and I was about to get some from the inkwell when I looked up at the window.

It was there, reflected in the glass. Not doing anything. Just there.

I dropped my pen, stood up, turned around.

There was nothing.

My imagination, I decided. The war. Only temporary. Soon be right as rain.

I looked back at the window.

It was still there in the glass, reflected as clearly as anything else in the room. Still there in the glass.

I fell to the floor, knocking over the inkwell on my way down.

It shattered, black splattering over the dark red carpet.

The maid- Molly- she came rushing in at once. She pestered me with questions, but I didn’t give her any answers.

I looked at the window. The thing in the reflection was gone.

I saw it more and more frequently- always in reflections. It was on the side of the teapot, inside the spoon, on the barrel of my gun, in the polished wood bannister of the staircase.

It was always in the house, always in reflections. It was never there when I turned around.

I didn’t know if I was imagining it or if it was there. I didn’t know who to talk to.

How do you say a thing like that without seeming mad? How?

The staff noticed my behavior. I heard them whispering when I was out of earshot, gossiping away about their mad master.

I could see it in their eyes as they walked past- that fear. That concern.

None of them mentioned it to me, of course. It wasn’t their place.

Then came the night when I woke up to another scream. This time, it wasn’t mine. It was a woman’s, high and shrill.

I ran as fast as I could, my dressing gown trailing behind me.

Molly was lying on the bathroom floor when I came in- perfectly still. I reached down, felt for a pulse.

She was dead.

I looked up at the bathroom mirror and saw it there, the dark shape. Its night-black face split in a blood-red smile.

It walked away, out of frame.

They found me sitting there with the body.

The police didn’t take long to make their judgment. Man comes back from the war not quite right. Found with dead woman.

It doesn’t take Mr. Holmes to make the leap, now does it?

So they put me in here.

“So tell me?” Eustace asked. “Am I mad?”

The blood-red mouth split open as the dark figure in the mirror spoke. “Would you believe me if I told you?”

“No,” Eustace muttered. “No, I suppose not.”


If you enjoyed this story, check out some of our other posts. If you really enjoyed it, please consider buying a longer piece of short fiction, Spiral: A Death Foretold, available for only 99¢ on Kindle or FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

As a writing exercise today, I was inspired to experiment with writing in second person. This was heavily inspired by the similar sections in Matt Stover’s Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith Novelization, which may be the greatest novelization ever written- certainly a massive improvement on the film.

It was also inspired by my interest in history and myth, giving a brief look at some of my interpretation of the Arthurian tradition, which is a little more influenced by the original Welsh than most, though I did include elements of the later stories- primarily Lancelot. I also linked Arthur to the historical figure of Riothamus, one of the candidates for the “real” King Arthur.

Again, this was just a quick thing I did for fun, not a fully polished piece. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it.

Riothamus

This is how it is to be Arthur.

You are constantly afraid that you will not be enough. The kingdom is fragile, fragile like an eggshell. A single strike and it will fall apart. Every battle, every dispute, you wonder: will this be it? Will this be the day you finally fail?

You hear the roaring and the cheering and you know you cannot show your fear, your weakness. You must be strong. You must be their hero. They call you Riothamus, High King of the Britons, dux belli, Hero of Mount Badon. They look at you like a saviour and you know you cannot let them down.

That’s the outside, the shell. Inside, you are still that scared young boy, pulling a sword from a stone. You are still just Arthur, still just a child.

You are alone even though you are surrounded.

Your friends… They are separate from you, as if kept out by a wall as great as Hadrian’s in the north. They see you as a king, a sovereign, not an equal. Even Kai, who was like your brother, sees you like that. Gawain, Lancelot, Bedwyr… they all see you like that. You have no friends, only subjects.

Your half-sister… she is your enemy. Morgaine, the sorceress, the servant of the faeries… She sees you only as an obstacle, opposing her rule. You are a boulder in her path, nothing more.

Your old mentor, the wise man, the Myrddin… He’s gone now. You can’t rely on him anymore. It’s all on you.

Your lords and your vassals would kill you the moment your back was turned. They would stab you and claim your land for theirs.

And your wife… Your beloved Gwennhywfar… She does not love you. You know that and you have always known it.

You have known it from the moment you were wed, when her father Leodegrance sent her to your court. You had never met her, never known her. She was a stranger to you and you were a stranger to her. And when you were wed, it was not your eyes she met. It was his- the dark rider, the greatest of your knights.

Some days you hate him as a Saxon. Some days you love him as a brother.

And every night as you lie by Gwen’s side, you know that it is him she loves and not you. As you watch her breathe softly in and out, see her chest rise and fall under the sheets, you know that is him she is dreaming of and not you. She is bound to you by duty, by law, by bonds she cannot escape, but she is bound to him by love.

And you know this.

This is your world: fear and loneliness and responsibility and jealousy.

This is the world you cannot let them see. To them, you are Riothamus, King Arthur, and that is all you can be.

That is your crown and your prison.

About Jaden

Posted: July 2, 2015 by Jaden C. Kilmer in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

I like to ground my stories in the real world and then inject it with a touch of the strange or unnatural. I like to write about instinctual human fears: The Dark, unknown, death, loss, and dodge conventions when I can. My characters are not words on a page to me. They are children, and like all fathers, it is my wish for them to grow, mature, and in the end become better versions of themselves. Well, most of them.

-Jaden