Flash Fiction: Amy C.

VESSEL

By Amy Carpenter

“Is that blood on your knees?”

Mother Sanesh lifted my skirt with her pencil and stared with narrowed eyes and pressed lips.

I looked down at my dusty shoes, trying to quiet my thundering heart. “Yes,” I murmured.

Mother Sanesh dropped my skirt with a disgusted tsk. The hem scraped my barren, bruised knees before it settled across the top of my drawn-up stockings. My hair tumbled forward, mingling with two fat drops that fell from my eyes.

“Look at me, young lady.” The steel-haired woman yanked my chin up, forcing my burning eyes to look into her cold ones. “Did you go to the Pit?”

I choked on a whimper as it slipped past my vocal cords. I shook my head. Mother Sanesh’s clawed fingernails dug into my chin.

“Do not lie to me, girl. I am a servant of the great Eye of Jenua. I am her vessel. I know all as she knows all.”

Her fingers tightened, despite the tears falling on them like hot rain. I changed my shaking head to a nodding one.

“Just as I thought.” She released my chin with a satisfied huff. “You will learn the proper way to bloody one’s knees. Kneel before the Eye and offer one hundred oblations, hands to the sky, then forehead to the ground. Grovel like the worm that you are, and ask her forgiveness for seeking out the Demon of the Deep. Let the blood from your knees color the prayer mat and bring it back to me as proof of your devotions. If you return to the Pit again, I will have you whipped until your skin dissolves and all that is left is blood and bones.”

Another strangled whimper escaped my lips. Rage boiled beneath the treacherous fear. I clamped it down. What could a fourteen-year-old girl do against a powerful shaman like Mother Sanesh?

I shuffled from the room, barely staying upright. Mother Sanesh poked her head out into the darkened hallway, her falcon-like eyes following me as I headed toward the sanctuary. As I parted the veil covering the sacred hall, the door to her room closed. I let the veil fall again and turned away, running like lightning out of the abbey into the summer fields.

Children played wolf and sheep in the tall grass. A gong sounded in the abbey tower, signaling the call to supper. Farmers laid down their scythes, removed their hats, and wiped away sweat and grime. I ignored all, intent on making my way back to the source of my bloodied knees.

The Pit.

The gong had made its second and last call as I topped a crest and found myself looking down on the blackened slopes of the Pit. No grass grew in its foul soil, not even a weed. Steam rose in undulating waves, dissipating into the scorched, late summer air. I ran down the sides of the Pit, oblivious to the rock and dirt that slid beneath my feet. I had to get back to the sleeping Demon, had to escape. I would not kneel before the Eye again, would not submit to praying to a god I loathed.

I collapsed at the nadir of the Pit. The blood on my knees flowed into the soil, and I ground myself down further into the sharp rocks, opening myself, giving myself. Bubbles emerged from the dirt, exploding upward like earthen geysers. My breath left as I was thrown onto my back. I stared up, dazed and dizzied.

A specter hovered over me, shimmering like a mirage in the heat. I blinked my eyes, willing the image to come into focus. It fell to the ground like a swan landing in a lake before gliding over to me.

A feathered hand lifted me by the elbow, and a voice like lava glass coated my soul. Elesia.

I stiffened. It knew my name, said it with such intimacy, as if it had known me all my life.

Elesia, it said again. You have called me with your blood, with your rage. Too long have I watched you from beneath, waiting for you. But now you have finally freed me. I am yours to command. And you are mine to use. Your god. My vessel.

“Who are you?” I croaked, half in terror, half in anticipation.

I am Rejork, Brother of Jenua, innocent and condemned to a never-ending death in the bowels of the Deep. But you have freed me, and I am in your debt. You have suffered much at the hands of my sister. Your pain is my pain, your revenge my own. Accept me into your body, take me as your own spirit.

I did not have to think, to debate. My clandestine visits to the Pit had prepared me for this, though I had not known at the time what I sought. This was what I needed, what I had always desired. Communion with a god other than Jenua. To be a vessel like Mother Sanesh, yet not like her.

“I accept you, demon god Rejork. Take me as a vessel of your wrath.”

The feathered glass sharpened and shot into me like a spear of fire. I screamed in agony, then gurgled and sputtered, my gasps turning to breaths and then, calm.

My heart was a sea of fire, my mind as clear as a desert sky. I lifted off my back and righted myself, then rose in the air, extending my arms and finding leathery, flexible webs hanging from them, connected to my ribs. My fingers and toes were talons, ends sharper than a tiger’s teeth. Like a bride’s train, a powerful tail whipped behind me, lashing at the dirt. Sulfur belched from deep inside my gullet, erupting in flames that snared the trees at the edge of the pit.

I smiled a serpent’s smile and flapped my webbed wings, turning towards the abbey.

Supper would be a little burnt tonight.

Flash Fiction: Timeline by Kay Pal

Timeline

There was a violent shift in atmosphere. Nothing in the room moved, but the sheer momentum of it woke Andrew from a dead sleep. It felt as if he had been flung across the room by his belly button. And yet, everything was the same. Nothing had moved and he remained tucked into his bed. He turned to glance at his bed-side clock. 2:12AM. Even though it was the middle of the night, he knew he was never going to get back to sleep. Not when his skin felt like it was vibrating. A sense of impending doom made Andrew decided he would get online. He opened his laptop and navigated to check and see if there was anything new going on in the world. He felt as if something bad had happened.

At first, he couldn’t quite pinpoint what was wrong with the web page. There was nothing new, but the page looked different. It was off somehow. After a while, his eyes landed on the ticker at the bottom of the screen that was usually moving. It remained still, clipping off the end of a sentence that began with “Thousands of bees were found-” What had been found? he wondered to himself, moving the laptop to the foot of his bed and reaching for the TV remote. He turned on the television and punched in the number for CNN. Wolf Blitzer appeared on his screen, frozen mid sentence. Nothing was moving. Andrew let out a frustrated sigh and flipped through the channels. Each appeared frozen mid-stream. Something odd was going on. He had felt ‘off’ since he had been violently woken by that strange swing of centrifugal force. It had felt as if his guts had been swung around and placed back into his midsection backwards.

Andrew padded barefoot down the cold hallway, headed for his room-mate’s bedroom. He knocked softly at the door and waited a few beats. No answer. Timidly, Andrew pushed open the door. His room-mate Steven was asleep in bed. Andrew walked over to him and gave his friend’s shoulder a shake, or at least, he tried to. It was as if Steven was made of stone. There was nothing Andrew could do to move him. More worrisome still, Steven wasn’t breathing. At least, not really. There was a steady stream of air coming from Steven’s nose, going on and on without end. There was no inhale, just air, like a leaky tire with infinite supply.

With his heart in his throat, Andrew ran down the hallway and burst out the front door of his home. He tried to scream but no sound came out. In fact, he hadn’t heard a sound since the moment he had woken up. Not a cricket, not a car alarm, not even the sound of wind blowing through the trees. It was like a crypt. He tried knocking on his neighbor’s doors and windows. No dogs barked, not a one. He tried running down to the busy street at the end of his cul-de-sac. Cars were at a stand-still in the middle of the road with open-eyed drivers that were completely un-moving. They took no notice to him pounding on their doors and windows. After what felt like hours, Andrew wandered back into his home.

He sauntered back into his room defeated and flopped down on his bed. He hit his head against his cell phone that had been buried in the covers. He attempted to dial 9-1-1, but he wasn’t expecting it to work. Just like he thought, the call wouldn’t even connect. Andrew navigated to his email, but there was nothing new on it. His last email was just a notification from Facebook confirming with him the decision he had made before he went to bed. Absentmindedly he re-opened it. It read “Your decision to deactivate your profile will go into effect in five hours. We have frozen your time-line, so if you ever want to come back, you may always reactivate and stay connected!” Realization came over Andrew like a tidal wave.

With trembling hands, he navigated to Facebook. He tried to re-activate his account, but no matter what he did, he was unable to effect change. He glanced at his bed-side clock again. 2:12AM. The time-line was stopped. Frozen. The phone fell from Andrew’s hands to the ground, and he took a few deep breaths. ‘Calm down’ he thought to himself. ‘You just need to calm down. You will figure this out eventually.’ After a few steadying gasps, Andrew reached down and picked his phone back up and navigated to his email. He noticed a google document he didn’t remember making next to the message from Facebook. He opened it. Inside were three lines.

2:12AM+3 Days: I will figure this out. -Andrew

2:12AM+8 years, 42 days: So alone in the frozen world. Will anyone know I was here? – Andrew

2:12AM+ 900+ years: There is no end. -Andrew

Flash Fiction Lori F.

 

It’s been 15 years, but I still regret what happened at the lake that night. It wasn’t supposed to play out that way. All I had wanted was to fit in. To be more than a nobody. Experiencing the aftermath of that night though, I realized more than ever that I would always be the odd one out. It started out as a dare. Something to prove that I could be as “normal” as all my other classmates. And it ended with me taking the life of the only person that had ever tried to befriend me. A freak accident caused by me, the freak.

Darcy was the only other one at our high school that looked like me, other than that we were polar opposite. She would always smile at me as I walked down the hallways. I hated school so there was never a time when I didn’t look like a zombie wandering the hall seemingly hungry for brains. That never held her back from waving at me and saying “Hey!” every time she saw me. It came as no surprise that she attached herself to my hip on that stupid overnight field trip. I remember it like it was yesterday…

Darcy tried to make eye contact with me as she walked down the aisle of the school bus. I sank lower in my seat digging my earbuds deeper in my ears hoping to avoid conversation.  She must have considered that a challenge because before I could blink she was scrunching in next to me on a seat the size of a baking pan. She knew that we were the odd ones out on that field trip. In a sea full of jocks and cheerleaders we were the only outcasts at our school. Both of our haircuts were chopped short and matched our wardrobe consisting of all black, with thick eyeliner surrounding our eyes, the studs in both of our noses and our pale white skin shone bright in contrast. As you can imagine, in sunny California we both stuck out like a sore thumb. My mom used to scold me saying that I wore “too much make up” and said things like “honey, if you took some of that junk off I’m sure more people would want to be friends with you. You would definitely get more dates!” I knew that Darcy went through the same thing…I heard her mom yell from the car once as she was dropping her off at school, “see if you can make friends with some of the popular girls!” There was no question that we were both considered the outcasts of Newmont High.

I shook my head as if trying to dismantle the thoughts of so long ago that seemed lodged in my head like a bullet that if removed, would kill me. I pulled the mail that had been stuffed tightly into my apartment mailbox and headed up the 3 flights of stairs to my apartment. I had been gone for the last week attending my mother’s funeral. It was no surprise that she had taken her own life. She had made my life so miserable that I can’t imagine how she felt about her own. Frankly, I’m surprised it hadn’t happened sooner. That thought brought me back to my previous memory. Unlike me, Darcy always seemed to enjoy life. She never seemed to care what people thought of her. Despite her own mother that must have been just as overbearing as mine. She chose to be happy. She chose to be kind and trusting. And that was how it all began… and why her life ended.

“Hey, Lana..Laaaanaaaa, “ Darcy stuck her hand in front of my face waving it around as several skull bracelets around her wrist jingled in unison with her chipper tone. The annoyed expression on my face didn’t phase her as she flung her “Seconds After Death” backpack underneath our seat. I was impressed that she even knew that band. I didn’t let that deter me from rolling my eyes and doing my best to scoot as far away from her as possible on the tiny bench we shared. It was nothing personal I just wanted to be left alone. She shook her head at me, “lighten up will ya? I don’t bite.” Just then Kathryn Jones, captain of the cheerleading squad peered over the bench in front of us and sneered “or do you!? Freak..” She giggled as her friend sitting next to her high fived her. She flung back her long blonde pony-tail and it shook from side to side. Oh, how I would have loved to grab that pony tail and give her a piece of my mind. Ignoring her, Darcy grabbed her backpack and dug around in it for what seemed like minutes. She smiled as if she had pulled “The Sword from the Stone” and revealed a pack of Dubble Bubble gum. “I can’t get enough of this stuff”, she said stuffing a piece in her mouth. “Wa some,” she offered chewing loudly. I shook my head and turned away from her as I turned my music up full blast. I hoped she would get the hint. I sighed with relief when she shrugged her shoulders and sat back humming to herself. I felt kind of bad but couldn’t help it. I liked to be alone no matter where I was. Blame my strangely overbearing parents, or my pest of a little brother who didn’t know when to quit.  To me, music was the only thing I could stand listening to.

As the bus pulled up to Camp Trodger a cheer let out on the bus as everyone began talking about heading to the lake. To me just the thought made me shudder. I hated the water. I think Darcy could sense my uneasiness because she playfully shoved my shoulder and said, “what, are you afraid of the water?” I shrugged my shoulders and quietly admitted, “I don’t know how to swim.” I tried to step past her to get off the bus before the herd of teenagers came stampeding through the campground like a bunch of imbeciles. Darcy blocked my path and excitedly said, “Let me teach you how!” I just shook my head and pushed past her. Did she not understand that I didn’t want to be on this trip to begin with, let alone make any friends. I had thought to myself then that if I made it back alive from this field trip it would be a miracle. That thought now filled me with chills and a deep longing for the life of my would be friend. She had been the one who didn’t make it out alive.

A knock at the door drew me back to reality and I sighed deeply as I flung several bills into the trash can and grabbed a Dr. Pepper from the fridge. It was most likely the superintendent letting me know my rent was overdue. I didn’t care and didn’t bother answering the door. I sat in my favorite big comfy chair and put my ear buds in. My favorite song from Seconds to Death blared in my ears. I closed my eyes and a single tear rolled down my face looking for an escape I knew it would never find.

Secret of Souls Pre-order Incentive

Hey everyone! As you know, Secret of Souls got a release date, YAY! November 24, 2017 on BLACK FRIDAY!!! I am so excited to share this dark and twisted world with you all!

Now, as a reader one of my FAVORITE things is SWAG and preorder incentives. So I knew that when I was publishing, I would want to do a preorder thingy for ya’ll! Plus you know how much I like SWAG! I am the QUEEN of SWAG. Taught by the original Queen herself, Martina Boone.

SWAG: Stuff We All Get.

“Dark, enthralling, and so thrillingly beautiful! This book will have you on the edge of your seat and over the edge with needing the next! Aubrie_s debut is one that will knock you

Bookmarks, buttons, pens, magnets, posters etc…. ALL OF THE THINGS! Anyway, I am adamant on doing SWAG for all of you who preorder while supplies last! All you need to do, is preorder Secret of Souls. Send a copy of your receipt to my email aubrienixon@gmail.com as well as well as your mailing address. 5 of you will win an additional Grand Prize along with your SWAG Pack! YAY!

If you preorder from my local bookstore One More Page, you will receive an extra piece of exclusive SWAG. Here is their website if you have any questions: OMP.

 

Hurry! While supplies last!

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

BAM

Book Depository

 

 

 

Flash Fiction: Sacrifice by Tenaya Jayne

Sacrifice

By Tenaya Jayne

The pain woke me. I clenched my hands on my stomach, the shredding pain made it hard to breathe. I stood up, heat running down my thighs. The heavy moon pushed its light through the window. The blood blossoming on my nightgown looked black in the pale moonlight. I understood what was happening to me. I was a girl no longer. Life would change when the sun came up. Fear gripped me harder than the pain.    

Mother never cried, yet her eyes were bloodshot as she held up my new dress.

“Do you like it?” her voice shook and her bottom lip trembled.

I nodded. The lace on the skirt distracted me from her behavior. I’d never seen anything so fancy, not even on any of the other, wealthier girls in the village.

“Put it on then.”

It slid on over my head and mother laced up the back. Her fingers trembled as she combed them through my hair and braided it.

“What’s wrong?” I whispered.

“Nothing…You didn’t tell your father did you?”

I shook my head.

“Good. That’s good…You’re ready. We need to pick some red flowers. The ones that grow in the forest.”

“Why?” I asked.

“For the tea. It’s important your drink it tonight before you go to sleep.”

Her hand was icy as she laced her fingers through mine and led me out of the house. We moved swiftly through the village and out into the forest, not speaking to anyone as we passed.

“I love you. You know that don’t you?” she asked.

I nodded. “I know, mother. I love you, too.”

We walked for an hour in silence.

She huffed in agitation. “I don’t see any flowers. Maybe we should split up to look for them, otherwise, we might not get home before dark…I’ll go this way, you go that way.”

“But what if we lose each other?”

“Just sing. I’ll hear you.”

She kissed my cheek abruptly and turned to the side. I watched her back as she wound through the trees. I scolded myself. I was a woman now, childish fears must be put aside.  

I stopped in a bright sunbeam and closed my eyes for a moment. The sunlight pushed through my eyelids, scorching black dots in my retina. When I opened my eyes again, all the color of the forest was gone. Everything was black and white. I blinked rapidly as I walked, trying to force my vision to readjust. Against the colorless landscape, bright red flowers began popping up like smears of blood on the ground. A sense of relief washed over me. I’d found the flowers.

I leaned down and began picking them. Mother didn’t tell me how many we needed. I moved on to another place and picked more. “I found some!” I called out. I listened for her to call back. Nothing. I inhaled, about to sing as she’d instructed me, but my breath stilled in my lungs.

Silence. I’d heard quiet before, but never true silence. I hadn’t noticed the singing birds or the whispering, gentle breeze until they were gone. The flowers in my hands fell to the ground.

“Mother?” I whispered so quietly I barely hear it myself. “Mother, please…”

I turned in a circle. I was surrounded by red flowers. My eyes locked on the tree in front of me. The symbol carved deep into the trunk caused my heart to still and tears to slick over my eyes.

“Why?” I screamed.

I wasn’t lost. I’d been left. Offered. I was the sacrifice and the beast would be here any second to claim me.

His growl vibrated through the silence. I backed up until my back hit a tree. He shifted through the shadows as he came to me. I pinched my eyes shut. I didn’t have the courage to look upon my death. His breath fanned hotly across my tears. All my muscles braced. The moment stilled in time, dragging out mercilessly. From a great distance, I heard my mother, weeping. It was the last sound to touch my ears.

 

 

 

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Reading my bio, huh?
Real life sucks. I bet you feel like that sometimes, maybe even right now. That’s why I write fantasy. I need to escape depression, bitterness, bills, illness…18838836_1162581987181410_2581988992898486333_nI could go on, but you get it. In the pages of fiction, I can slay the dragons, triumph over the bad guys, be immortal, and never struggle with love handles. For a short time, I can let it all go, and be everything I can’t be in real life. Maybe you’re hurting right now. Maybe you’re in the waiting room of the hospital, or just stuck in traffic. I’ve brought a portal. Come with me…Let’s ditch this crappy popsicle stand and go somewhere great, where we can forget all this, at least for a while.

That’s why I write. I’m not an author, I’m an escape artist.

Guest Post: Flash Fiction

I am so excited to announce that this month I will be featuring a few writers on my blog for June! I am obsessed with Flash fiction, and I love featuring new voices. So without further ado….. my friend and fellow writer Melanie M!

 

 

Forget everything you know about the affair between Ares and Aphrodite.

Ares wasn’t always the God of War. He was once a mere mortal, a powerful leader of armies that wiped out entire nations. His black heart was known throughout the worlds, both on Earth and Olympus. Even the great Hades appreciated the destruction that Ares caused. This, of course, meant nothing to Ares. The heartless man cared for naught but blood upon his sword and the feeling of sheer triumph. Ares found comfort in the chaos. He never felt fear, only caused it.

When Ares was but a young soldier, his cold heart was in the hands of a young maiden. He trusted her completely and loved her deeply. While he was away on a distant battlefield, ruin fell upon his homeland. Blood flowed through the streets. No man, woman, or child was left alive. Including his lover. As he held her dead body, he shook his fist to the heavens and declared that he would never fall in love again.

Aphrodite herself took it as a challenge.

~~~

Many wars and many years passed. Aphrodite sent numerous ladies to the stubborn man. None tempted him. He only lusted for the thrill of an enemies’ death. If he did take a woman to bed, it was for one night. He refused to stay till sunrise.

After too many failed attempts, Aphrodite’s pride began to hurt. She was the Goddess of Beauty and Love, dammit! She would prove the fool wrong! In a moment of irrationality, Aphrodite traveled to the human world and right into the camp of Ares and his vast army. Without thinking, the Goddess stormed into the commander’s tent.

Luckily, Ares was alone. Had anyone else been in the tent, they might have gone blind from the sheer exquisiteness of Aphrodite. Her beautiful face was enraged, her eyes narrowing on the man hunched over a shield he was shining. He lifted his gaze and slowly rose, only a small bit of surprise showing on his handsome face. The two appeared to be complete opposites in appearance: Aphrodite with liquid sunshine hair-Ares with sleek midnight coloring to his curly locks. Her eyes were a deep amethyst purple while his were a clear crystal blue. His facial features were sharp and strong: tall in stature and muscular, seeping masculinity. Aphrodite was a dainty and well-developed female, the absolute definition of beauty and grace, her face soft with full red lips.

“You idiot!” the goddess shouted, striding to the man who simply watched her. His face had returned to its unfeeling expression. That stare usually sent men running in the opposite direction. But not her. That was what surprised him. She was not the first Goddess to come to him. Athena had visited several times. Aphrodite was a much more desirable deity though. That he would not deny.

“What brings the Goddess Aphrodite to my humble encampment?” his voice remained bored, only infuriating Aphrodite further.

“I came to discuss the contest you issued.” She took a step back as she realized the size of him. Gods…He was massive. As large as Zeus himself.

“What contest are you referring to milady?” his voice was deep and smooth. It seemed to caress every inch of her. Aphrodite paused, confused by what she was feeling. She knew lust and desire better than anyone. But Ares was not hers to have. She needed to find him someone else. A companion to prove him wrong, right?

“You swore you would never love again. That was clearly a challenge to me.”

“Surely you’re joking.” His voice had a note of amusement. Aphrodite crossed her arms over her chest, drawing Ares’ attention to her voluptuous breasts.

“I suggest you do not question a goddess.” She was rather lovely when she was angry. Ares was enjoying this.

“I suggest you leave before I show you how I am not just a god of war.” His vibrant blue eyes roamed over her every curve with hunger. Gods above, she was superb. Ares’s hands twitched from the urge to touch her. Everywhere.

Her aura was seductive and alluring. His mouth watered as his eyes darted to her blood red lips, begging to be kissed. Aphrodite gave a smirk, obviously aware of her effect on him. But, he was also aware of the effect he was having on her. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes bright with desire. Ares took a step towards her. He raised his hand to her cheek, running a calloused thumb over her cheekbone. Her ivory skin was so smooth, so different to his bronzed coloring.

She tilted her head back slightly to gaze up at him through thick lashes. In her eyes, he saw the stars of other worlds. He saw every shade of lust and love. And as he leaned down to kiss her softly he tasted the sweetest wine, the honeyed treats he loved as a child. She smelled of never-ending meadows that were made for lovers. The kiss turned ravenous and Aphrodite melted against Ares’ firm body. Heat flowed through her, yearning that she had never felt in her immortal life. Ares bit her lower lip that caused her to whimper softly. He placed his hands on her hips, digging his fingers into her skin. What a flimsy gown she was wearing, so easy to shred. She twined her fingers through his thick hair, forcing him to kiss her harder.

A horn sounded, interrupting the couple. The sounds of battle quickly erupted around them. They pulled apart, both panting.

“We are not finished.” Ares snarled, meeting her gaze. He couldn’t tell if his blood was rushing because of her or the upcoming fight. Could this goddess truly make him long for her more than combat? Aphrodite gave a seductive grin.

“I accept your challenge.” With that, she was gone.

Aphrodite returned to Olympus and Ares returned to the battlefield. That is how love and war truly began.