Cloister

cloister

© Roger Bultot

A terrified Sandoval Carson treaded across rough, ancient stones paralleled by pitted archways and shrouded by overgrown vegetation. The cloister was just ahead, and so, he hoped, his salvation.

Once he had stepped through the dark mirror that had once been a patio window, he was young again, though, he suspected, only here. He had to find the one who could help him correct all his life mistakes.

“Hello, Sandoval.” The voice was behind him.

“Can you help me?” Carson pivoted and then faced himself.

Dark Carson lunged at him screaming, “I’ve always hated you.”

“Me too,” he gurgled, dying.

It’s been a while, but this morning, I decided to contribute to Rochelle Wisoff-Field‘s weekly photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

The color adjustment of the photo made me feel apprehensive, as if I were looking at a horror film, one where the hero was about to be pounced upon by the monster at any moment. In this case, the monster is himself.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

EDIT: Forgot to add a title and to mention that this is just one of many “Dark Mirror” tales I’ve written over the past few years. Usually, they take a person to their greatest desire or need. It obviously meant something grim in Sandoval’s case.

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Facebook Author’s Page

ff author page

James Pyles’ Facebook Author page

Yes, I’m engaging in more shameless self-promotion. However, a number of people have been encouraging me to create an author page on Facebook now that several of my stories are on the cusp of publication. I’ve already got an Amazon Authors page, but that promotes mainly my non-fiction work, at least until several days after the Zombie Pirate Publishing’s anthology World War Four publishes and I can add a link to that page from the eBook.

I only created the Facebook page less than an hour ago as I write this, so there’s not much content at the moment. Still, I hope you stop by and click “Follow” or “Like.” You could even add a comment or two. I could use the company. ūüėČ

Film Review: “The Mummy” (2017)

mummy

Promotional image for the 2017 film “The Mummy.”

I hadn’t meant to watch the 2017 film, The Mummy starring Tom Cruise and Annabelle Wallis, but I recently read a brief blurb that the “flagship” of Universal Studio’s Dark Universe line of films, which were meant to reprise and update the original Universal Classic Monsters series of movies, wasn’t all that bad.

Okay, I’ve also recently written a short story I plan to submit for possible publication about an ancient, evil woman in Egypt, so the topic was on my mind.

In short, it really wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t that great, either. I’ve seen the original 1932 film The Mummy starring the incomparable Boris Karloff on numerous occasions, and the 1999 remake with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz (and I do like Weisz as an actress) and was somewhat “underwealmed.”

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Raquel By Night

silhouette

© Sue Vincent

“Well, damn. It’s too late now.” Dale Hunter watched the last rays of the sun disappear behind the western peaks and he was still nowhere near the Safe Zone. He might survive the night, but he had to bank on none of them picking up his scent, and it absolutely meant he couldn’t build a fire against the cold.

The sixty-three year old range walker had been tracking the Adversaries down in the wilderness outside the Safe Zone for over forty years, a full century after the first of them appeared. He’d only been caught out in the open twice before in all that time, once because he was young and had misjudging distance and timing, and the other because bad footing on a slope with loose rocks resulted in a twisted ankle. That first time, he’d gotten lucky, and when he was struggling to make it home that second time, something else happened entirely.

Tonight, he had been careless, and in his zeal to find one of the Adversary nests rumored to be hidden in one of the canyons below Pine Bluff, he’d gotten lost just long enough to delay his return. He never did find that nest.

“Good evening, Dale. It’s been a long time.” Just as before, her voice was like touching velvet and silk, or the warmth he felt after his first swallow of fine bourbon on a winter’s night. He figured it must have been close to midnight when she found him huddled under a pile of pine needles at the base of a tree trunk trying to stay awake.

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Oh Captain!

spacecraft

Image credit: iStock – Found at numerous sources including thepromiserevealed.com

Vanessa struggled to climb out of the Salubrious Pod, sickly yellow and greenish jelly oozing off of her smooth, dark skin. She rolled over the low rim of the tub onto the cold metallic floor of the eight-by-twelve foot featureless chamber, her nude body dimly illuminated by the few flickering light tubes in the ceiling ten feet above. She shivered as the gel evaporated, and she watched a thin mist rising overhead from her body, though some of the goo clung to her short-cropped black hair, and she blinked as one drop fell from her lashes into her left eye.

“Good morning, Captain Chapman. How are you feeling?”

They’d made Sophia’s voice feminine, but the echoes coming from multiple speakers¬† in the ceiling still made her sound inhuman.

“Like shit, Soph.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” The AI’s reply was meant to communicate concern, but of course, as a machine, she felt nothing at all. “It is important you recover from hibernation quickly. There is a situation.”

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The New Dragon Saga: Dark Quest

dark woods

Found at wallpapertag.com

Chapter 7: He was seven years old, alone in the dark, and he could hear breathing.

“Who’s there?” His voice quavered and he was shivering with cold and fright. “Daddy, is that you?” He felt like he were in a large room somewhere, but when he breathed out, he could see frigid mist as if he were in a gigantic freezer.

“Grandpa?” How did he get here? The last thing he remembered was…then he realized that he shouldn’t be seven anymore.

“This has got to be a dream. I need to wake up. Wake up.”

Then there was more than one something breathing in the darkness, a lot more somethings, and they were all around him.

“No. Get away from me. I won’t let you hurt me.” He tried to think of a spell, any spell that might get him out of here. The light spell. It was the first one he’d learned a long time ago when he was…seven. How could he be seven again?

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The Castle’s Secrets

bran castle

Found at bran-castle.com – Image credit not given

“Mommy, why are we staying up so late?” twelve-year-old Ileana sat anxiously on the edge of her mother’s bed while Queen Marie of Romania patted her hand.

“I want you to meet someone, but he only comes late at night.” She made her smile look comforting, but she too was nervous, and in her case, with good reason.

The door to the Queen’s grand bedroom in her Bran Castle retreat slowly creaked open. The servants were forbidden to come unbidden at this hour, so it could only be one man.

“You are welcome to enter, Vlad.”

He was dressed in black, though the white of his shirt showed through the cloak’s dark collar.

“Thank you, my Queen. Is this the little Princess?”

Ileana stood and bowed. “It is good sir. How may I address you?”

A moment of uncharacteristic compassion glimmered in the Impaler’s eyes as he whispered, “Father.”

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to take a Google Maps image/location and use it as a prompt for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 148.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Bran Castle, Romania. I looked it up and found it has a tangential association to the Dracula legend, although it’s doubtful author Bram Stoker knew of its existence when he penned his famous novel.

That said, I dipped into the histories of Princess Ileana of Romania and her mother Queen Marie, who indeed used the castle as her personal retreat.

Ileana was born in 1909, and although it was alleged that she was really the child of Marie’s lover Prince Barbu Stirbey, Marie’s husband, King Ferdinand I claimed paternity. Here, I’m suggesting another father entirely.

Can a vampire, a member of the undead, impregnate a living woman? Probably not if you think of a vampire as an animated corpse with no living biology (in spite of the Twilight movie series), but I recall when Marvel Comics ran their Dracula title in the 1970s, in one issue, they did have Dracula on a throne seated beside his living Queen, who was enormously pregnant, so some have suggested the possibility.

And I suppose if a demonic Incubus can have “relations” with a woman, so can a vampire.

Anyway, it makes good Halloween fodder.

To read other stories based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Night of the Succubus

stone in the woods

© Sue Vincent

Trigger Warning: This story is at least PG-13 with a little R thrown in (I tried to be as circumspect as possible and still retain the overall imagery of the story), so if you’re offended by sensual language with a touch of horror, you might want to stop reading now.

Lilith was always the first to arrive, but as the great mother, she was responsible for preparing the holy site for the others.

“Mother!” Naamah ran into the clearing, and with a gazelle-like leap to clear a fallen log, she fell into Lilith’s arms. If mother and daughter were human, their embrace would appear lewd and obscene, their hands and tongues sliding sensually over each others supple, lightly clad bodies, but for the most ancient of demons, this was a standard greeting, especially after being parted for an entire year (though at their age, a year wasn’t considered very long at all).

They parted as Rahab and Vashti arrived. Then Shelomit, Helah, and Jezebel joined them. As the sun hung low on the western horizon, the others came, and after engaging in the same ritual greeting, which stopped short of becoming a frenzied orgy (for that was yet to come), the hundreds gathered in several concentric circles around the tall, verdant phallic idol.

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Scorned

stone house

© Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

This house was my prison for seven centuries, ever since Lord Jaime Caruthers incarcerated me here. Then, the will of the Caruthers clan was invincible.

But long centuries passed, and the Caruthers descendants became weak, while the stone and mortar slowly crumbled.

The last Caruthers died last month, and with him, the fading spell that bound me.

Now, on this final day of October, as the moon rises, the would-be bride of Jaime’s son Ian will walk free. I renounced my heritage for my beloved, but Jaime wouldn’t have it. Now let all men feel the wrath of the succubus.

I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields photo challenge. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is 100.

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d write a wee horror tale, though I imagine it’s not particularly scary. Of course, the short definition of a succubus is:

A succubus is a demon in female form, or supernatural entity in folklore, that appears in dreams and takes the form of a woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual activity.

I guess she can capture the souls of men in revenge for what Jaime Caruthers did to her one conquest at a time.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit InLinkz.com.

The Grayland

spectral

© Sue Vincent

At first Alise Egan thought she had been trapped in a cursed painting of herself facing an ocean wave, but then she realized it was an interdimensional gateway to another reality. In the painting, the twenty-two year old MIT graduate looked much as she appeared in real life, tall, what her billionaire benefactor, the painting’s owner Keyne Harlan and men of his generation would call “curvy,” long, blond hair streaming behind her along with her extravagant crimson gown, a ostentatious gift from said-benefactor, the man who adopted her after her parents died.

But once across the chaotic field of alabaster and sapphire, she entered the realm of the dead. Well, that’s what they had wanted her to believe, all of the non-corporeal entities who inhabited that realm. Two of them had initially passed themselves off as her dead parents, but then she saw them for what they truly were, invaders intent on using her as a bridge from their world to hers for reasons unknown and undesired.

But one of them said, “Physical laws don‚Äôt apply here. There‚Äôs no difference between science and magic.” That’s when she realized she could do anything, and so she did. Alise pushed back, at first driving a few away from the threshold, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally all that there were, millions and tens of millions.

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