Blog, Short Stories

Short Story: “Directions”

Res Arcana: The Advent of Choice - Short StoryShort story to celebrate the release of my book Res Arcana: The Advent of Choice.
“Directions”

The saturated soil squelched under his feet and mosquitoes buzzed around his head. He tried to ignore them and focused on the nigh on invisible path instead. These marshes were treacherous under the best of circumstances. What had possessed him to cross them with less than a full day’s light ahead and after heavy rains, he couldn’t say, but he cursed himself for it.

Before every step he prodded the swamp ahead with his long walking stick, searching for the next bank of solid ground. More often than not, however, the tip of the stick sank so deeply under its own weight that he dared not use it for support, even when he was about to lose his balance. If he fell, he might not be able to get up again.

Short Stories

“Paradise” – short story

 

When the lonely road through the barren desert dunes led his pick-up truck into a luscious green village, Abdel knew he had taken a wrong turn. Which wasn’t possible on a road that had always been straight.

He stopped his truck in the village square to consult his map. By the well in the centre of the square, a group of women in traditional garb interrupted their nattering to observe his arrival. He ignored them and checked his route. It wasn’t new to him, but this oasis was.

A tap on his window. He rolled it down.

“Hello. Lost your way to Al Nadah?”

“Yes,” said Abdel, “although I can’t see how.”

“Do not question fate,” the man replied and opened the driver’s door of the truck. His hands, like his face, seemed old without showing wrinkles or other signs of age. “Come, you must be thirsty.”

Short Stories

“Statue” – short story

Once upon a time there was a sculptor named Kumar, who carved statues of spirits and deities for the temple in his village. One day, the pujari of the temple brought him a block of marble bigger than himself. The marble was cold when Kumar first touched it. The gaze of the pujari was cold and factual, too, but unlike the gaze, the stone warmed under his hands. He felt its grain, caressed its surface. Finally he put his ear to the marble block and listened.

‘Let me out.’

A yakshini they asked for, and a yakshini whispered to him from the stone. So he took up his hammer and chisel, and began to sculpt.

Short Stories

“Payment” – short story

Dry land was scarce since the Flood. What remained were thousands of islands scattered about the endless ocean. Of them, only few were large enough to support a town this size. Fiorello recalled the stories his grandmother had told him, the ones her grandmother had told her in turn. Stories about fields of grass and grain as far as the eye could see; stories of people who travelled by land to the cities that housed millions. Fantastic tales, but little more. All he had ever known was this island, this town. As a child, he had thought these shores were the end of the world. How much he had learned since then.

He stood on the terrace of his house and stared out over the ocean. It was a quiet day today, with a calm sea and pleasant breeze to dispel the heat. A promising day, too, because yesterday he had spotted a tiny black dot on the horizon that hadn’t disappeared when he blinked. This morning, it was considerably larger and growing still. If the wind didn’t change, it should make landfall by noon. Fiorello intended to be there when it did.

Short Stories

“Prize” – short story

Albert’s chest swelled with joy to the point where he thought he would break the buckles of his battered harness. Such a fight! Such a victory! Even the King was content at last! Albert had won many a tournament like today’s, but never before had his father’s approval been among his prizes. The King hadn’t smiled since the elder of his sons had exiled himself, but after today Albert would no longer be the runt, only suffered in his brother’s stead. Today, his skills and speed had been the downfall of the strongest knight on the field.

Divested of his armour, Albert retreated to his chambers to prepare for the customary banquet in the victor’s honour. His honour! He held the defeated knight’s sword, by right of tournament rules now his, close to his chest. Years ago, as a boy and his brother’s knave, he had carried Gerhard’s prize swords. Now the honour was his own, as was his growing collection.