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Latest Stories

May 19, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jo Carroll

The Curl and Vampire

She was a pretty thing to be sure, the little girl with the curl. Her cheeks were as red as blood and her skin as smooth as porcelain. And yet there was something odd about her clear blue eyes—something empty and soulless. She sat atop her throne of building…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Nicole Robb

New Frontier

Still groggy from her hibernation chamber, Stacey checked the readings once again on the ship's control panel.She had read them right. "Tom! Something's wrong." "What is it?" Tom emerged from the back where he had been checking on the twelve hundred sleeping…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Laura Ellison

Remedy

The smell of death hung heavy and pungent in the air. Sickness touched the skin and covered it in a dewy glow that in any other situation could have been attractive. Castellan held a scented handkerchief over her nose as she walked through the village to the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Dylan Thomas Nichol

Forged in Shadows

Screaming was all that could be heard through the bone chilling halls of the dungeon. This was what the supposedly great nation of Hace really was. An ugly abomination lay underneath the stunning Admor Keep, and Caelin made the long journey through it, his…
May 17, 2018
Mystery Stories Isabel Schwaak

Something Stronger

A thick grey stone wall separated the village of Telly Fenn from the wilderness. A narrow path led the way out of the village and melted into a crossroad, from which a crooked path strayed far into the dark forest. The inhabitants of Telly Fenn were content…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jade De-Terville

A Light Bulb Called Tink

“This is more than just a bloody mid life crisis,” Karen said clutching a tattered red book, until her knuckles started going white. She savagely threw the book onto the chequered dining cloth, and ran her hands through her untamed hair. “Oi, mind the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories April Winters

Area Twenty Four and a Half

I, Jim Roberts, got fired today. I didn’t realize Mr. Kerr, my boss, was standing behind me when I referred to him as Kerr-mitt. He failed to see the humor, and now I have no source of income. Looks like my journalistic aspirations are out the window. I…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Jeremy Szal

Crimson Snow

16th Day of Regon, Year 455 of the First Dawn I could feel the cold as we climbed higher, the chill reaching into my bones. The wind whispered across the grassland, flapping my black hair over my face. I wanted to lie down. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories B.J.Neblett

Forever

“Segue the next couple of records with a jingle then go into a stop set. I’m gonna get some air.” Hy Lit flashed his agreeable smile, adjusted his trade mark tinted glasses and winked. “You’re a natural, kid.” Then he disappeared out the studio door. The…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories BJ Neblett

Pockets Full Of Wishes

“Don’t put your hands in the pockets!” Jimmy looked at his sister. It was just a winter coat, a used one. It was all his parents could afford. But it was his. He picked it out. Now he stood proudly before the store mirror admiring the blue denim coat with the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Laura Ellison

Consumed

Arlia knelt down on a silk cushion in the middle of the room. She took a deep breath and centred herself. Gramps always told her to do this, sometimes he jabbed her in the sides with his walking stick if he thought she rushed meditation. In front of her the…
May 17, 2018
Fantasy Stories Paul Magnan

Scorned

I grasped the rough edges of the tombstone and pulled it from the strands of thick, yellowed grass upon which it lay. I set it in an upright position. The words “Dear Love” were carved along the top of the stone. I had carved those words. For a few seconds…

 

 

Bathing in the light of magnesium, the shrine resembled a giant lamp drawing moths from the darkness, glowing brighter for the poorest of moths like Daniel standing by the gate.  He looked at the buildings behind him as if he could see his father in their hovel, sleeping away his latest binge drinking.  Then he remembered that he was in a city away from his father and his belt and broom.  He looked behind him one last time before walking inside on his good leg.

 

Dan, get dressed. His mother used to whisper to him.  We’re going to Baclaran.  Daniel would immediately abandon his toys and playmates for the shrine that her mother and other people called Baclaran.  He had asked his mother if it was Sunday because all that he could see from the shrine’s gate were people.  Wednesday was her reply.

After cutting through the thicket of worshippers that stood between the gate and the church, she would unravel her chaplet at the narthex and kneel, approaching the altar on her knees.  He would walk behind her, sometimes cheering her when she was faltering, oftentimes hopping on the aisle’s beige and green tiles.

Sometimes they would reach Baclaran close to suppertime and she would finish her weekly devotion late at night. Those were the nights when he would see the ragamuffins and homeless elderly retaking the shrine like natives reoccupying their land after the invaders’ departure.  He heard the children laugh more than talk, and their laughter could jolt the bereaved back to living.  They called playfully to him more than once.  His mother’s chastising look burned each invitation.

Daniel and his mother had witnessed the shrine’s Liguorian Congregation rolling out casseroles of soup and watched the elderly queuing serenely while the snickering children would push one another off the line.

Just one bowl, mama. The aroma of the soup was so thick and inviting.  They’re so excited to eat it.

I’ll tell your papa.

After Daniel’s mother had left her mortal shell, many Wednesdays passed without him straying to within sight of Baclaran.

It was not a Wednesday, so Daniel could see the church from the gate.  Baclaran was wearing the same beige paint and none of the outlying buildings looked new.  Children were frolicking in the courtyard but they had adults hovering nearby.  He looked deeper, sighing from not finding a ragamuffin.  He strode inside on his good leg, the left leg unmolested by his father’s belt.  His right limb was leathery from the welts that ranged from his knee to his ankle, with some old and fresh welts forming hazy boundaries.  Ridges of skin thickened by the belt also crisscrossed his upper limbs and torso.

Daniel limped around the church, checking every pew where soiled blankets covered snoring bodies.  He looked closer and saw that they were the homeless elderly.  He saw children in the church, but they were clean and escorted by an adult.  Where are you? He sat on a pew and scratched a fresh welt on his right knee, his father’s reward to him for leaving their supper’s dishes on the sink.  Beside it was skin broken by his belt when Daniel did not wash the laundry.  His calf was tender where his father had pummeled him with a broom for feeling dust biting at his bare soles after ordering Daniel to sweep the floor.  Yet he was not a total beast to Daniel.

A boy and girl were playing on the chancel, waving at the altar and the portrait of a woman above the tabernacle his mother called Mama Mary.  Daniel thought of joining the children, but a man called them.  The boy genuflected while the girl blew a kiss to the altar before jumping off the chancel.  One by one, the washed children were heading to their clean homes and beds.

Daniel circled the courtyard.  It was free of the playing children and the spot where the Liguorians served soup was clean.  Where are you? He whimpered.  He thought of screaming to attract them but his mother’s screams in her battles with his father had brought half of their shantytown to their doorstep.

With his eyelids coming together more frequently and sticking together longer, he returned to the pew and stretched on the varnished plank.  Baclaran never closes its doors.  His mother had said when he asked her where the homeless go at midnight.

The wild children could frolic around him, but he would not run and play with them tonight.  He would seek them in the morning.  Perhaps they would remember him as the boy with the woman in the sweater.  Many devotees had sinned from taking humorously at his mother’s wearing a sweatshirt in summer.  If only they knew of the bruises and welts beneath the warm fabric.  If only.

 

END

 

BIONOTE: Prospero is from the Philippines where he works at home and tries to write fiction when he can. His prose and poetry have appeared in print and online local and foreign publications.

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