Joe2stories

Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: October, 2014

Fear Of Death

In the beginning of the world, there was magic everywhere. It seethed through the world from the deepest ocean to the very top of the highest peaks. It made everything, it controlled everything and, in time, people learned to control it.

They called themselves, wizards, witches, sorcerers or enchanters. They possessed the power to manipulate the magic of the world to whatever whims their hearts would desire and they could have ruled the world but for one fatal flaw.

Those with magical powers could not stand the idea of others who had similar power. It rankled them that they might possibly have to share, or worse still, be outdone. In true Highlander fashion, there could be only one. Whenever two people of magic met they did battle, at first trading blows as well as spells, either of which were as damaging with the other. Whenever one fell, his or her power was transferred to their opponent so in time there were fewer and fewer fighters, each with increasing levels of power.

After years and years, there were only two left. One grizzled wizard and one deranged sorcerer. For months and months they cast spells and enchantments at each other to not much effect, the magical energy being absorbed by protective forces or being deflected away to wreak some strangeness on far-flung parts of the world, some of which remain to this day. But in the end the sorcerer looked out from his tower to find a young lady seeking time in his bed. He let her in only to be brutally stabbed by the wizard after he quickly cast off his disguise. He was the only one left.

With all the magic in the world the wizard could now turn his attention to what he desired most in the world. Not power, not money, but eternal life. He cast his spells and for three hundred years his body stayed young and healthy but mortal flesh is not meant to last forever and he had an accident, he died, his spirit was released from his corporeal body.

At this point Death, who comes for us all, appeared to usher the wizard’s spirit to the next world. But one of the spells that the wizard had cast was to keep away death and when Death came close to the wizard it was filled with fear, an emotion alien and unpleasant so it fled without harvesting the wizard’s soul. His spirit was free to wander the Earth, unmolested, forever.

But forever is a long time. The wizard quickly got lonely of simply wandering through existence, he sought companionship. In the end he found it in the form of a simple baker, a man with nothing special in his life. The wizard found this man’s presence soothing and decided to follow him. The baker himself was unaware of the wizards presence accept for the occasional chill that would pass through his bones.

This lasted for many years while the baker lived a long and successful life, augmented on occasion by intervention by his invisible companion, until, in the end, the baker’s body succumbed to time and his life ended.

As before; Death arrived to perform his duty but once again saw the spirit of the wizard and was driven away by terror. The baker’s spirit was left where it was. The wizard was overjoyed, his companion was now of the same as him, they could be together forever. But there was a problem.

The baker’s spirit did not have the infusion of magic of the wizard that kept it very much alive and vital. Without it the baker’s spirit was simply a shade, without true awareness or form, rooted to the place where it had died. The wizard tried every power it had, but changing the spirit was beyond any magic. The baker’s spirit was staying put.

The wizard stayed for many years with the shade of his former companion, but it is a vital, active world out there and he wished to see more of it so he bade a final farewell to the spirit of the baker and went back into the world.

The wizard’s spirit sought another mortal to accompany and this time he found solace with a soldier, he helped his new companion as much as he could but even with magical help the life of a soldier is a dangerous one and he died on the battlefield after only a couple of years.

Death appeared and Death fled and the soldier’s spirit was rooted to the battlefield never to move again. The wizard now knew better than to stay so he moved on quickly and found someone else, and someone else after that, and so on and so on.

And that is how it is up to this very day. The wizard’s spirit still travels the Earth, seeking whatever kind of person would interest him, providing perhaps minor help in life but in return leaving a empty shade of a soul after they eventually die.

So if you find yourself with a chill in your bones perhaps you have found one of the abandoned souls left by this eternal wanderer. But if the chill follows you; finding you at the most unexpected times, then you may very well be subject to a new admirer. One who may be a bit of a help in life, but who will in the end cost you a ghostly existence, for all eternity.

Picture it and write: Once in a lifetime

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is no it mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway enjoy.

Once in a lifetime

When the world famous artist Enrico Garibaldi decided to turn his hand to tattoo artistry and was looking for volunteers to be his “natural canvas” Linda could not believe her luck. She already had a number of tattoos and was a lifetime fan of Enrico’s work. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

There was stiff competition for the place but with a mixture of determination and no small amount of luck Linda was able to get one of the much coveted places.

It took nearly a week of thirteen hour sessions for Enrico to do his work. He had to work on Linda’s arm and hand in order to avoid tattoos that were already there but that was no problem, he turned it to his advantage. He drew an elephant whose head covered the back of the hand with its trunk extending down the middle finger allowing her to manipulate it giving the impression of real movement. It was very, very good.

The public agreed. Along with her fellow volunteers, Linda was brought to galleries and society parties in order to show off Enrico’s work. It was required that they wear as little as possible “in order to show the artwork in line with the beauty of the human form”. There was a lot of interest and people came from far and wide to see Linda and the others. She was having the time of her life.

In time however; the public tired of the novelty of Enrico’s body art. He soon decided to move on to new media and his adoring public went with him. Linda and her fellows found themselves left at the wayside, they found it difficult to go back to their old lives, the tattoos were all too big to hide effectively, especially from themselves, every look a reminder of the fame they had lost.

One day Linda was working in her coffee shop when a well dressed man came in and asked specifically for her. This was not too uncommon, there was still a small trickle of interested art fans who would come and admire Enrico’s work, though no where near the numbers it used to be. Linda didn’t care much, they were usually quick and left a nice tip afterwards.

She was a bout to pull up her sleeve when the man stopped her. He said that he represented a wealthy group of clients, people who collected artworks of unusual provenance for both their own private display and public donation. They were willing to pay a considerable sum for the tattoo works of Enrico Garibaldi so that may be “preserved properly for future generations”.

Linda was about to explain that the tattoo was in her skin and that she couldn’t just sell it when the expression on the man’s face stopped her cold. “My clients have the best surgeons in the world on their staff. You will not want for medical care. They will also ensure that you will be  adequately compensated for any ‘inconvenience’  it may cause, including loss of livelihood.

He wrote a figure on a piece of paper. Linda took a look and nearly gasped. She had never thought that that much money actually existed, not in real life. She looked at the man, he looked at her life, she looked at the tattoo on her arm.

Perhaps she could live without her right arm.

image

Waiting

“Why am I waiting? Why are they making me sit here, in the middle of this busy corridor, where the whole school can see me? Why are they doing this to me?

“I know what I did was wrong, but I wasn’t thinking when I did it, it was a spur of the moment, beyond my control, nothing wrong with that, ask my mother, she had me tested.

“This waiting is getting out of hand. What has it been? Six minutes? Far too long. With no one looking I could get up to anything.

“I am a boy after all.”

##########################################################

Written for the Light and Shade Challenge for Monday 20th October 2014

Picture it and Write: Find

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, this picture is not mine, this one is by Steve Rosset, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway Enjoy.

Find

“Look here! I’ve found something.”

The small girl ran into my office, something precious cupped in her hands. She must have ran all the way from the fields and was panting heavily, shaking from a mixture of exertion and excitement.

“What have you got?” I asked her, expecting the unusual rock or pretty flower that she usually brings to me.

“This!” She breathed out, opening her closed hands so that I could see. “I found it just at the fence.”

After nearly twenty years you would have thought that a man could have forgotten the little details. That was a false hope. That little pod still filled my nightmares so I knew exactly what it was.

I had to be sure “Hand it here.” I said taking a knife from my desk. With my usual skill I sliced open the leathery skin, careful to avoid the spines. I shifted my head to let more light shine on the insides.

“Dammit!” I cursed softly and watched as the unhatched larvae, still too young to survive on their own slowly moved and died in the open air.

“Cool!” The girl said and moved to touch the little worms. I shifted my hand quickly to keep her off.

“No!” I said firmly. “These are dangerous.”

I ordered her to go to chief”s office, bring him back here quickly and to then take me and him to the exact place where she found this. She ran out as fast as her legs could carry her.

I looked at the now dead wriggling things. This was bad. No egg case could have survived this long, there must be an adult around, inside the fence and everything.

If we move quickly maybe we can kill it before it strikes.

Provided it hasn’t struck already.

image

Six word stories 10

Surrounded by chaos “I did nothing!”

Lone teddy bear, inside rundown house.

Old couple, giggling like young lovers.

Cute little puppy, high heels destroyed.

Door opens. Prays it’s not daddy.

Armed robbery. Gun club all packing.

Alone

It had changed, changed utterly when I went to visit the home of my childhood. Gone were the clear blue skies and the clean air of my youth. It was constantly overcast and instead of freshness all I could smell was the musty stench of decay, of a lack of life, of a town dying.

I was disheartened as I went back, past the welcome sign that was close to falling over in its state of disrepair, past the empty houses, and past the pot-holed streets. I had come there to try to find someone, something I could relate to.

I left as alone as ever.

Sign to Nowhere

Written for the Grammar Ghoul Press Challenge number 1.

Picture it and Write: Untouchable

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine it is by Mancity, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway Enjoy!

Untouchable

On the arid plains around the townships outside Nairobi cars, planes, or anything metallic in general don’t last very long. There is an entire industry involving everyone from the local street urchins to the heads of the great crime gangs revolving around the stripping down metal and then selling it on for scrap. Needless to say, the scrap merchants in Nairobi don’t have very strict controls rules over asking questions and unless there is a person still in the car when it arrives, shouting in protest or, better yet, brandishing a gun to the same effect, they will hand over good currency regardless.

In such a corrosive environment, it is inherently unusual to find anything, either on two or four wheels, just sitting there, being allowed to rust in peace. Something has be to special about those particular rust buckets, something that keeps people from stealing them.

Often it is lore or superstition that protects the object, certain symbols or objects denote magical or demonic protection and most of the locals are well versed in them. No sum of cash is worth toying with the other world so if there is even the slightest resemblance to the occult than everyone will refuse to go near it. Of course, there have been occasions were a car has been already half-broken up before these omens are seen and in that case everything is dropped and just left where they are, which I suppose for the owner may in fact be somewhat worse.

Illness in the course of demolition can also be a contraindication and someone coming down with a fever during the course of demolition can lead to practically a panic amongst the people. Instances of bad luck also cause many to think twice.

Sometimes, however, even those are not seen and it is virtually impossible to find exactly why people stay away. When asked, people will say, “It is cursed!” or “Protected” but no one will be able to tell you how they know that. It seems to the observer to turn into a wild goose-chase of “someone else said so”. The startling conclusion being that no one started the rumor, that there is no good reason to stay away other than that everyone else is, a supernatural version of not taking the last cake in the box just in case there is something wrong with it.

For the wrecks themselves this is all irrelevant, for they just sit there, stuck beneath the burning sun, gathering dust and rust, unmoving and in general, untouchable.

image