Category Archives: Fiction

Cracks – 4 – Pain

Cold.

Was that the word? The body, this body-that-was-hers-but-that-was-not, this trembling body, remembered the word.

“C-c-cold,” Sirja said through chattering teeth. “Cold” did not exist in her world.

Pain.

One of her white fangs plunged into the soft flesh of her lip, and blood began to flow down her bare chest, the warmth of the black fluid spreading across icy skin.

Pain. Pain was familiar. Her world was pain. Her pain, the pain of others, the pain of the world itself.

Delicious pain.

A whistle cut through the dark night. Sirja turned to its source. Far off, at the other end of the strange stretch of smooth stone, a lone figure, a man, watched this-body-that-was-hers-but-not with predatory eyes. The stranger stood at the edge of the cone of light projected by one of those little fires trapped in glass and metal cages, as if hesitating to expose himself.

So easy.

Sirja expanded her chest with icy air, shook her profile in a serpentine manner, nodded at that man with this body-that-was-hers-but-not-really. And then, she crossed the portal into that place that she had heard passers-by calling a “restroom.”

There was more light here. Sirja looked at her reflection in the cristal wall. The body that mixed her shapes with those of the … other creature … It was beautiful, curvy, the perfect bait. How well had this place treated her, yes.

But all the blood, the blood of her previous prey, the blood that covered most of this body … No, it could not be, it would not do, it would scare away the one whose footsteps echoed ever closer.

Sirja pricked one of her nails-which-were-hers-but-were-not, a sharp, pointed nail driving into her right breast just below the clavicle.

Pain.

Black blood began to flow, and more and more, as she wiggled her finger, as she opened the wound further, pierced a hole in the half-lent body.

Pain. Pain. PAIN!

And the light from the restroom lamps was sucked like a liquid by a straw, sucked into the black hole that was her self-inflicted wound.

The man stepped into a pitch-black public restroom.

The predator smiled a fanged smile.

The Arrival

Aurora spread her arms over her head and stretched, savoring the shadow cast by the stone archway. The construction stretched across the skies above and blocked the intense sun of the arid plains of Jahaara. The priestess undid the gray turban that covered her head and face, and shook the sweat of her curly brown hair. I must look just like my partner when he shakes after coming out of the water. She thought.

Aurora had never seen the tiger-man behave as he did now. Standing in front of the gate of his homeland, Jamaal was a different, more upright, more powerful creature – and she had never imagined a situation were 200 pounds of tiger might seem more powerful than usual.

The feline stood with his back straight, his black-and-orange striped arms crossed over the chest that bore the same pattern. He usually walked with a slight crook, at times even on all fours, and his face rarely showed any emotion as perceivable by any human being. Here and now, he smiled a smile of a thousand sharp fangs, his whiskers taunt.

The priestess was about to ask him if anyone was going to open the door for them – if anyone would even come out and ask them who they were – when she heard the stone roar. Slowly, the colossal stone gate began to open.

On the other side waited three tiger-men, also with their arms folded. They wore nothing but gray thongs, and belts where they had sheathed the characteristic curved swords of Sala’hadan. It was not the first time that Aurora noticed the influence of the desert people in feline culture.

The guards remained immobile, mimicking Jamaal’s position. Aurora smiled and waved.

From behind them came a middle-aged man, rotund as a particularly cherubic baby. Of course, almost all human males looked short when next to the tiger-men, but the top of this one’s head, even accounting for the green turban, barely reached the height of Aurora’s chin.

The man half walked, half rolled in her direction. He stepped up to her, stopped, and pulled a dirty monocle from a pouch of his earth-green tunic, which he promptly wiped on a sleeve, before thrusting it between his eye and the priestess’s smile.

“I was not expecting to see a man from Garm here. You’re far from home, my friend!” Said Aurora.

The man almost fell back, and the only thing that prevented the monocle from shattering on the floor was the silver chain that found it to the pocket.

“A thousand pardons, my lady.” Said the man from Garm. “I’ve been here for many years, and as I lose the habit of speaking our language, I find my manners dwindling.”

He offered his hand to Aurora. “Oskar Hoffritz, at your service, my lady. Manufacturer of hourglasses. “

The priestess offered her hand back. “Aurora. Enchanted. “

With the air of one who remembered something important, the little man straightened, and resumed his inspection, monocle in hand.

“Huummm.”

“Can I help you, good man?”

“I beg your pardon, Miss Aurora. It’s mere protocol. “And with that, the man turned to the three guards and made a noise that, to Aurora, sounded like the sound of a person with shallow breath trying to snuff our a huge birthday cake’s candles; a series of short, breathless puffs: “Fufufu, fufufu.”

“What is he saying, Jamaal?” Her companion wiggled his whiskers slightly, and nothing more.

The guards moved sideways, visibly more relaxed. Jamaal spoke for the first time since they had arrived at the gate.

“Aurora-gh’tar, we were talking. Winning entry. “

“Oh? I did not hear much. “

“Smell, small movements, occasional noises,” Oskar replied. “I studied the vocal part, and that alone makes me sort of an ambassador.”

The priestess laughed. “So all these years, that smell… Were you trying to communicate, Jamaal?”

The tiger man rolled his eyes, and advanced to cross the gate.

“Gh’tar, if you could smell yourself the way I do, you’d spend every day scrubbing.”

Aurora followed behind him, her mischievous smile beaming.  Oskar trailed close behind. 

Finally, she was going to witness the city hidden behind the thousand-year-old wall of the cat people.

Cracks – 3 – Hell

Alison opened her eyes, and tried to sit up, tried to break the surface of the bathtub’s water, even before forming the thought that she must have fallen asleep in the bath.

Then, greater panic: no matter how hard she tried, she could not reach the surface. It was as if the tub had become a bottomless pit.

Increasingly distressed, swallowing more and more water, feeling out of breath, instinct took over. Even without understanding how she could be doing it in a bathtub, Alison began to swim toward the light.

She felt great relief as she broke the surface, inhaling a stream of hot air. For a moment she stood in the water, arms resting on the edge of the bathtub, alternating between spitting water and breathing deeply.

Only then did she realize that she was leaning not, in fact, leading against the edge of her bathtub, but on hard, rough stone that bit through the skin of her elbows. Reflexively, the young woman shoved herself away, to float on the lake’s surface. Her eyes drifted upwards and saw the sky for the first time.

The sky was burning.

There was no sun. There were no stars. Just an expanse of incandescent orange, punctuated by coal-black clouds.

Around her, the colors of the sunset of the sun that did not exist covered everything as far as the eye could see. A dull expanse of gray and black rock stretched to the horizon, with no signs of vegetation, or any other hint of life.

This can not be happening, she thought. Where am I? This can only be a dream.

But she was a long way from the semi-conscious state of uncontrolled control that we feel when we dream. No – she knew full well, deep in her soul, that she was wide awake. And this drove her to deeper despair than the earlier, sudden feeling of drowning.

She rested her arms on the edge again; naked, lost, with nothing resembling civilisation close by. She started to weep, barely registering the damp, hot air that started to burn her eyes and lungs. But her weeping was soon interrupted by a hiss.

In front of her was a snake, its head raised level with Alison’s. Reptile and human eyes crossed for a moment, and Alison felt a shiver run down her spine. Then, an intense pain assaulted her right cheek.

The world began to spin. The girl was on her back, she was rolling on the shore of the hot lake, screaming, frantically trying to grab the huge body, the slippery body of the animal that was stuck in her face.

Alison felt the blood trickle down her chin, down her neck and into her breasts, the intense pain in her cheek. She felt herself growing weaker and heavier, until she succumbed once again to unconsciousness.