Category: Fiction

Last Stand

  I’d never given death much thought, never had much reason to despite the fact that I kill people for a living. When you’ve been killing people for as long as I have, you’ve seen it all. Death isn’t some mysterious thing to be scared of, it’s some guy in a bar sticking a rusty knife in your guts while you try to throttle him, or a guy with an axe knocking your brains out as you lie in the mud, or any number of other scenarios. I’d been death for enough people that I’d grown comfortable with the idea that, some day, someone I met would be mine. After that I guess I just put it all out of my mind and got on with the work of being other people’s death. I didn’t think about dying, not until that last day when I knew it was inevitable. I know, I’ve often said that nothing is impossible, nothing inevitable, but I lied. Some things are. The Captain told us that General Borgensen had chosen my mercenaries to be the rear guard. We were to hold the pass as long as possible and give the rest of the army time to retreat and regroup. That was shaite, and we all knew it. The general’s feet hadn’t touched the ground once between him hearing that the enemy was coming and him clearing the edge of camp. The regular army, mostly green recruits who couldn’t hold a spear straight let alone use…

Vampire Hunter

    Jonathan saw the demon’s eyes glaring balefully through the dark and the snow while he was still only half-way up the path. Their glow, glinting off the heavy brass ring in the demon’s mouth, followed him as he stepped carefully though the snow drifts towards the front door. He stopped at the bottom of the portico stairs uncomfortably aware that the demon could probably see the steel barrel of the Remington derringer through the heavy material of his right coat pocket. He had to screw up his courage before he could approach the demon any closer. With every step he took its grin grew wider, its eyes more sardonic. By the time he stood in front of it, his shirt was soaked with nervous sweat. The demon was even uglier and scarier when seen up close. He stared in fascination as the demon strained, soundlessly, to work itself free from the heavy oak door in which it was buried up to the shoulders. Its skin was covered in bronze edged black scales that seemed to ripple in the lantern light. After staring at it for several long moments, Jonathan grasped the ring clenched between its teeth and raised it. The demon’s tongue rasped across his fingers and he jerked his hand away, releasing the knocker which fell onto the demon’s fore claws with a heavy clanging thud that echoed through the house. Jonathan jumped away from the door. His fingers, already burned from where he had carelessly handled…

Yukihime

  Long ago, before mortal foot had touched the earth and Fuji-sama was still shaking the ash from his head, Yukinomau-O-Kami, Goddess of Winter, and Kitanokaze-O-Kami, the God of the North Wind, sported amongst the islands of the blest, dancing together in the swirl of the blizzard-tossed snow. In those days of endless dance the love Yukinomau and Kitanokaze held for each other knew no bounds, and neither did their joy in the icy storms with which they played. There came a time, however, when Amaterasu-O-Mi-Kami called together all the deities of heaven and earth and proposed the creation of mortal beings. The proposition was greeted with acclaim by many of the gods, for they sorely felt the lack of worshippers. Kitanokaze and Yukinomau, however, laughed at the idea thinking that they had no need for mortal playthings when they already had the mighty blizzard with which to play and no need of the love of mortal beings when they already had each other’s. Amaterasu was not pleased with their laughter, however, and, concerned lest the two cause havoc with her plan, she conspired with Susano-Wo, the mighty Lord of Storms, to entrap the two troublemakers in mortal forms until her plan had reached fruition. The Lord of Storms agreed for he believed that Yukinomau and Kitanokaze had stolen the great blizzard and unleashed it unseasonably upon the southern lands, for which the other gods had blamed him. Susano-Wo called Kitanokaze and Yukinomau to his great palace, feigning sympathy with…

Golden Kangaroo

We hated the road even before they made it, but there was nothing we could do. A big shot in the city decided the track we had wasn’t good enough so the graders and steamrollers came leaving the scars of progress behind in a stinking black oil slick that cut through my fields. It was a long time before we learned to live with the rush and roar of the late night trucks. The house always shook when a particularly heavy load went past and plaster would fall from the ceiling into our breakfast, or into our eyes. We sometimes saw them with little red kangaroos painted on their doors, like the fighter pilots in the war, proud of their kills. The garden was never the same. The flowers didn’t like the fumes any more than we did, and our kitten was roadkill before it was a cat. That should’ve been a warning, and it was, though we didn’t see it that clearly at the time. We kept the critters indoors after that. We should’ve done the same for the kids. “Go out and play,” we said, “but keep away from the road.” And they did, usually. But a garden is no place to learn to ride a bike, so our son went out on the road. The first we knew of it was our daughter’s screams and we thought, “Just another fight,” but it wasn’t. We went out and found his bike — squashed flat, wheels bent at odd…