The Mark

The Mark

Chapter 1:  Foundling:

A gibbous moon pressed down on the sky like the thumb pad of a jaundiced god. A ragtag band of villagers chased a boy into a forest clearing, surrounding him, but not rushing to seize him.

He felt every inch the trapped animal, save he had no claws or teeth. There was only a single knife which he clutched more as a talisman than a weapon. Crackling torches forced him to put up a hand to block the glare, and the mark on his cheek became visible again.

Murmurs of curses, prayers, and amazement buzzed and hummed in his ears. The light in the mark was fading but he could still feel its heat.

An elder couple stepped forward as a walking keg of a man thrust his torch closer to the boy’s face, making him drop the knife as he stepped back and put up his other hand. From what he briefly saw of them, the woman seemed to hold some concern for him, lightly pressing her husband’s wrist down to lower the torch; she wouldn’t stop him from doing much else, but for that at least, the boy was grateful.

Walking Keg had bristly brown and gray whiskers, the moonlight a nimbus in them as he leaned forward and glowered, his free hand poised in the air, uncertain of its purpose. He seemed to want to touch the mark, but didn’t.

The fear in his eyes belied the gruffness in his voice. “How came you by this mark, boy?” The uncertain hand now pointed a meaty finger at the mark.

The boy swallowed, and when he spoke his voice was small in his own ears. “I killed my little sister.”

*************

Thunder had ever frightened him, and this storm had proven no different. In the small cottage at the top of the hill, where he lived with his parents and younger sister, they were more vulnerable than most to lightning strikes.

Seeking his parents for comfort as he always did, the tableau he walked in on shook him to his core with horror.

      His little sister was out in the rain, naked, arms outstretched to the sky, eyes closed and a beatific smile on her face. She seemed to be speaking, or praying; he wasn’t sure, but she had a knife in her hand with blood and rainwater dripping from it, washing the blade clean.       Stomach lurching, heart pounding, he ran toward his parents’ bedroom but stopped when he saw the small, bloody footprints that lead from the open door.

      “Nylii, what have you done?” He ran from the house toward his sister, and when he came to she was dead beneath him, his hands on her throat, his cheek sliced open from the knife, and the clouds clearing to reveal the dim light of a sickle moon. Her eyes were open, and save for the fact she wasn’t breathing, she looked like she was about to tell him a secret.

      Revulsion and horror made him scramble up and make it to the edge of the wet, dank woods as he heaved up the contents of their last dinner. Gasping for air, burning with thirst and wanting to scream, he wiped the stringy, rank spit away with a handful of leaves. His cheek was on fire, and there was blood on his chest and shoulder. He touched the wound to see how bad it was, and it flared, searing under his touch.

      He opened his mouth, but the ensuing pain had him back on the ground unable to scream. He felt something go wrong with his blood.

      She’d cursed him, marked him. For what, the gods only knew.

     “Nylii, what have you done? What have you done?” He realized he was shouting. Panicking, leaving the bodies for scavengers, he ran and never looked back.

                                                 ************

     More murmurs, louder this time as what he said was conveyed to those who couldn’t hear. He’d played whisper-down- the-line with his friends; he’d be a legend or a monster by the time it got to them.

      The couple stepped back.

     “She was afflicted?” the woman asked.

    He wasn’t sure what ‘afflicted’ meant, but he nodded: “She killed our parents at Reaving Moon. A blood sacrifice.”

      Cries and gestures against evil rippled outward through the mob.

     “What should we do?” the woman asked her husband.

      “Kill him, is what we should do…”

      The boy was tired, thirsty, hungry, and his adrenaline from running had spiked and dipped several times. Now he was just scared and angry.

       “I’ve done no harm to you! You came after me!”

        The husband glared and stepped closer. “Yer damn scar was shinin’! We din’t know what the hell ye were!”

       The woman spoke again. “We’ve children in th’ village, boy. Not much older n’ yew. Y’understand?”

      The boy fell to his knees. “I beg you, for one night, let me sleep. I’ll sleep here, outside of your town, and I won’t come in. I promise. Please just go. I’ll be gone in the morning.”  

      After some hesitation, the wife took the husband aside, away from him and the crowd. He stayed on his knees; the weight of the rabble’s stare was almost palpable as they openly regarded him with an unhealthy mix of fear and fascination. The couple’s conversation, judging from gestures and faces, was brief but heated.

 Read more at the link below on Niume. 

Source: The Mark

Broken Bells

Hear the toll of broken bells

Over hillsides

Down the dells

Angels sing in seven hells

Dead things crawl up out of wells

Demons crack their human shells

Ringing din at midnight swells

Night air’s rife with graveyard smells

Devils laugh discordant knells

At the sound of broken bells

 

Cara-Cell

 

As autumn dies,

the bitter night wind

seeps into the stone walls

of what has become my

new home.

Hope of leaving

abandoned me.

She peers into the defeat

replete within my gaze,

and smiles

with

pleased and mocking scorn.

Dressed in midnight,

she comes,

a cream-skinned shadow

in silvered fog,

and tells me her name

is

Cara,

as if I cared,

as if defeat had somehow

changed to affection.

A Murder follows her,

and obeys her every gesture.

Her lacquered black nails point,

and soft eyes are

plucked like jewels from bone settings,

the screams

drowned by the eldritch music

of their raucous cries.

Why do you stay? she whispers in my mind.

Do you not see there are no stones to bar your path?

No chains, no locks, no guards to block your way?

Blind,

I stumble past

the warring scents

of lavender and carrion,

to roam

the shrouded night.

Exhausted,

helpless,

and alone,

by dawn

I find myself

returning

once again,

to where she freed me.

And barefoot, shivering,

crying ice-laced tears,

I walk the frigid riverbed

back to my

Cara-cell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winged Moonlight

 

 

This pale raven,

prepared to shine,

this ivory plumage

s p a n n e d

beneath

the cobalt sky.

Alabaster wings

scatter stars,

red-gold talons

grip tight

the silver moon.

In silent flight

rising

above the

shadowed world,

breaking chains

of spirits,

herald of the

mist,

and emissary

of a

sunless realm,

nevermore

to shine.

 

 

Kairi’s Serenade

Kairi comes down

by the

moonlit water

to play for

me

on random  summer evenings

 

Not of this world any longer,

I cannot hear her,

but I can see.

 

Ah, there she is.

Fair and dark are her features,

Dark and fair is her song.

 

Spinning, playing a bright flourish,

she smiles at a memory,

and I feel the press of its

warmth against my molding bones

as if she hugged my spirit.

 

I wonder if she feels

my presence?

 

At times, when she plays,

there are tears.

 

I long to take them away, to

wipe them tenderly

and tell her all is well,

before we kiss,

before we part.

 

I hold onto that moment

that never was,

never will be,

and it will ever have to be

enough.

 

As Kairi turns to go,

the melody is severed,

and the notes are interwoven

with the stars.

I feel what I can only call

a smile pervade my being.

No, there will be no tears tonight,

just the song, dark and fair, it’s plaintive echo

traveling through the lichen covered

headstones of the forgotten, as Kairi, fair and dark,

vanishes into the mist, and over the hill.

Night Roads

This is a WIP currently being written in serial form at the link below.

Please check it out, and feel free to comment.

Be honest, but kind.

If you troll me, I will send zombie vampires to hunt you. In a novel, of course….

We all know there’s no such thing as zombie vam– (OW! Get back down there, you stinking–!)

 

http://channillo.com/series/night-roads/

My Floozy Muse

My desk lamp was flickering, and the laptop screen had a crack in it, but I was determined to finish this thing, once and for all.

The honeyed whiskey glowed invitingly in the bottle I opened, not bothering with a glass.

I could hear the rain on the window, and the slushy sound of tires on the shiny black road spattered with neon down below.  Two cats fought in an alley, and people were out who’d otherwise go stir crazy indoors.

I had nothing but whiskey and nothing else but this novel, and nobody until she appeared. Smooth, slender hands slipped over my shoulders and chest, and a tongue tip flicked my earlobe.

“Maxine.” I grinned like an psychiatric inmate. “Long time no kiss.”

She laughed, soft and low, like a piano in the dark after midnight. “Against the rules, handsome, you know that.”

“Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

She poured herself a drink, and sat down, crossing legs from Heaven.

“Whatcha got goin here, sweetie?”

“A crossroads.”

“Ahhh,”she said, covering her ears in mock pain. “Honey don’t use polysyllables this time of night; they hurt my head.”

“Anything for you, cookie. I’m stuck.”

“That’s better. How can I help?”

I told her where I was in the story, and where I wanted to go next.

She came over, sat in my lap, squirmed around a bit, getting comfortable.

“Having fun?” I said.

“Loads, sugar. Oops,” she put her hand over her mouth. “Was that naughty?”

“Not even close. What’s with the wings?”

“A girl can’t accessorize?”

“Probably, if I knew what it meant.”

She laughed, kissed me quick on the lips, tasting like cinnamon cigarettes.

“I like you, Al. Wish I knew why.”

“Because I made you up?”

She considered that, her finger in the corner of her mouth.

“Nah, that’s not it, ’cause you can’t be sure who made up who.”

“‘Whom.’ That story’s been done, Maxine. Let’s get to work.”

“So grumpy,” she squirmed a bit more and leaned over, looking at the screen.

I poured another drink; she moved her lips when she read. How’d I miss that?

“Ah, right here. That’s where the problem is. I see it.”

“Can you help?”

She put an arm around my shoulder. “Anything for you, cookie.”

I don’t know how long we worked, but the bottle grew empty, the page grew full, and the sky grew lighter.

“Oh, sweetie, I have to go.”

“Bathroom’s over–”

“No, Al. I mean it’s time for me to leave.”

“Aw, c’mon Maxine…”

She kissed me, and we both tasted like honey-whiskeyed- cinnamon cigarettes.

“Baby,” I said, catching my breath when she was done.

“You know the rules.” We said it together, like schoolkids: “No hanky-panky!”

“Can I ask you a question?” I said.

“You just did.” She winked at me.

“That hanky-panky thing, is that sex?”

She put her finger in the corner of her mouth again.

“I don’t think so….”

“Good.”

“Whee!” she turned on my lap, facing me, and my chair went over backward…

She stayed with me through the morning too, but not a lot got done.

Well, not a lot of writing…but that’s another story.