The Blessing

This Writober didn’t go exactly as I had planned. One text a day is obviously not going to happen this year, but hopefully one text every week. Here is the first one, inspired by H.P Lovecraft and a writing prompt which might be a bit of a spoiler. I recommend you read the text first. Also, feel free to comment!


I can hear the waves rolling against the outer walls, the sea crashing towards shore with the ferocity of a maddened deity. The floorboards creak underneath my feet as I move over to the window. There is light outside, bright whiteness leaving a burning rectangular shape across my broken retina for minutes after I step back into the darkness. It is the waning light of day filtering its way through the heavy clouds, but I can tell it as such only due to my knowledge of deeper darkness – I have never seen the sun.

There is fire in the furnace but it is for warmth purely – that, and the limited comfort provided my senses by the homely crackling of the burning logs and the amber glow it gives to all other nebulous shapes in the room. Comfort is otherwise of limited supply in this godforsaken place at the edge of existence, and even the fire is burning low now for lack of fuel.

I find my way over to the door; rough, weathered pieces of wood keeping the elements out and my sparse sanity inside. The tower has many doors but in the way of keys I have only one. Its chain rattles in my grip as I let it find its way into the lock and provoke from the rusted mechanism a tortured groan by forcing it to turn. The storm immediately pries its salty fingers into the small opening and tears the handle from my grasp, slamming the door against the outer wall with a sound that is instantly devoured by the thunder from the sky.

I move down the three stone steps onto firm ground and start to count as I make my way towards the shed. The hurried rhythm of the waves helps me keep my pace as I step over well known obstacles and duck beneath familiar branches and structures. Their shapes reveal themselves as faint silhouettes against the otherwise white nothingness that reign all around me. I reach the small building and hurry inside, relieved to be on safe ground once more. Though I have lived on this island for as long as my memory stretches I have yet to map all its winding paths and parts. Venturing outside is always a gamble with fate and on a storm ridden day like this the well known might very well have taken on unanticipated changes. It is on days like this – and on nights like the one approaching even more so – that I most strongly regret the fact that I cannot see.

I collect the logs while the elements conduct Stygian symphonies outside the flimsy walls. The roof rattles, threatening to tear from its anchors at any moment and fly crashing into the awaiting void. It is going to hold, however. This storm is neither the first nor the worst to ravage this island and its timeless buildings. They have been standing since long before I arrived and are going to last for decades, if not centuries, after I am gone. My arms full and my mind set I gather my resolve and my courage and step once again out into the ravenous and blinding nothing.

The rhythm of the waves has intensified but I still try to keep its pace as I count my way back across the familiar unseen. The thunder is right overhead now and every third heartbeat is accompanied by a flash of searing lightning temporarily wiping out even the contours of my well known obstacles. I have covered half the distance when I lose my count once and then twice. Then I lose my footing and fall onto the wet ground.

I scratch my hands on the uneven rocks and the logs are scattered everywhere. I can feel that I am bleeding, warm stickiness trickling down my palms and my wrists and into the already soaked sleeves of my sweater. Another flash of lightning is immediately joined by the roar of thunder. The sound of the waves is different from my sprawled position, closer, hungrier. Panic rising in my mind I struggle to get back up but I trip on a fallen log and fall again. I search around with my injured hands but I cannot feel the path anymore and I have lost count of my steps together with all sense of direction. Worse still, the sky is darkening by the minute and soon I shall not be able to see even the silhouettes around me.

When once again I manage to get to my feet I am completely lost. The only familiar shapes are the few wooden logs scattered around me. I cannot be far from the path but for the life of me I cannot find it. Well knowing that I am alone I am still unable to stop myself; I scream for help and hear my hopeless call being at once swallowed by the furious wind and rain tearing the warmth from my face and fingers. There is no one here to help me, I am alone and if I don’t find my way inside before long the darkness will rob me of any chance to find shelter from the storm.

It is then that I realize what is going to save me. I have not mapped all the island’s winding paths and parts but I have walked around it several times over the years and I know how to get back to the tower from the water’s edge. The sea can not be far and all I have to do is to follow the rocky slope as is descends towards the roaring waves. I regather as many of the logs as I can find and start walking, careful where I put my feet. Being close to the water during a storm such as this one is dangerous but it is a measure I must take in order to get home.

The slope is steep but I manage to keep my footing and soon I can feel the polished pebbles rattle underneath the soles of my shoes. I start walking along the shoreline, carefully feeling my surroundings in order to orient myself and determine where I must begin to climb to reach the tower. I let my hand fumble across the rock surface on my right as I walk forward. The din of the storm is deafening down here and the froth of the crashing waves splash against my face as I walk.

Everything is different from the last time I was down here. The wind and the sea must have moved driftwood and other objects to a degree where I can no longer tell if I have walked too far or have a long way yet to go. I have never felt so alone as I do now when the last of daylight seeps from my world and denies me even the blurry outlines of things around me. Despairing I realize that I could walk along the shore for hours and still be caught in the storm and cold and rain. For the first time the realization strikes me that I might actually die tonight. Then my hand touches something even colder than the wind and I stop in my thoughts and my steps.

It is a small metal box. I have no idea how old it is but the rust on its surface tells me that it must have been sitting here on the rocky shelf for many years. My cold fingers fumble as I open the lid and feel what is inside. The box is empty save for one thing and my heart skips a beat. Two thick glass lenses connected by bowed metal wires; I am holding a pair of spectacles in my shaking hands. Breathless, not knowing what to expect, I put them on and immediately the darkness around me changes.

I can see the shore, the waves, the clouds on the darkening sky. The cliffs on my right are weathered and polished by thousands and thousands of years of elemental abuse and the pebbles underneath my feat all have different colors in the gloom. I stare, forgetting to breath for several seconds. The world is dark but for the first time in my remembered life I can see it. And high above the cliffs in front of me, looming amongst the thundering clouds, I can make out the topmost pinnacle of a tall tower. In a frenzy of newly acquired ability and determination I start climbing the cliffs, all the while marveling at the cracks and crevices that I am now able to experience with more than my cold, fumbling fingers. I am not going to die, I am going to live. And when I reach the summit of the cliff, I will see for the first time what my lifetime world actually looks like. My heart is racing in my chest, exhaustion and excitement fighting for dominance. But before any of them emerges victorious I reach the top and my heart stops entirely.

Before me stretches a world I know so well but yet not at all. I have felt it, smelled it, heard it. I have ducked under its dead branches and climbed over its fallen architecture. I have walked along its broken paths and I have harvested its resources. But never have I guessed, never have I understood. The looming tower, my borrowed home, stretches towards the sky like a giant’s misshapen finger. The buildings around it mirror its unfathomable design with their geometric profanity. A million paradoxical windows stare down at me from heights so distant as to make the thought of them vertiginous.

I find myself unable to close my eyes. With blinding clarity the ungodly city where I have lived my life reveals itself to me and I realize with rising nausea that this place has not been built by the hands of man. And then I see the light shining from the windows at the top of my tower, and I also realize for the first time that I am not as alone as I have believed. Lightning moves across the sky and someone, something, briefly blocks out the light in one of the tall windows. The horrendous shape of it etches itself onto my broken retina and can never be unseen.

The hungry sea and its sharp stone teeth rise up to meet me as I let go of the cliff and throw myself backwards. And even when I close my eyes in those final moments I still see that silhouette burning on the inside of my eyelids, reminding me that in the face of such madness blindness is a blessing. Then a sharp pain before all is merciful darkness once more.

On Blood And Dreams II

This text works as a stand-alone, but if you want to read the first part you can find it here.


The brave new world she stalked through was filled with brave new lives and brave new loves, but not for her. Never for her. She would taste the warmth of innocent hearts and let it awaken in her for a moment memories of a time when she as well had felt and dreamed and hoped, only to leave them just as empty and dying afterwards as she had been left herself so long ago. But whilst the blankly staring eyes of these new lives were doomed to fade not long after she walked away, her own two eyes were cursed to remain forever open.

She saw cruelty, she saw suffering and death and all of these were far worse than the pain her own hunger and cold would ever be able to afflict upon a humanity that was slowly torturing itself into hardened submission.

Sometimes she took lives in the name of souls too defeated to extract their own vengeance upon murderers and oppressors. It was during such brief moments of chimeric justification that she came close enough to feeling to actually remember that the word had a meaning attached to it.

For the most part, however, she took lives in the name of her own vices and did not discriminate between the guilty and the innocent any more than the blind distinguish between light and darkness. It was during such moments of liberating numbness that she realized that feelings and principles were constructions belonging to the living, and that monsters such as herself were meant to thrive and thirst in the regretless shadows of apathy. And so she did, until the night when she heard again the words of a monster long dead being spoken into the night like painful phantoms of the past.

The boy was young, but still older than she herself had been when the night had swallowed her heart and slowly begun hollowing her from the inside. He had dreams in his eyes and fight in his voice when he recited verses forgotten by the new world but remembered in the hearts of lovers and warriors, and she stood in the shadows and waited and hated as memories too painful to keep but too precious to lose struggled towards the frozen surface of her soul.

His borrowed words were embraced by those who heard him speak and she realized that he was known and loved and respected for knowing and speaking them. She also realized that he had broken something inside of her by doing so, something that was bleeding and would not mend on its own.

Mad with memory she stalked him through the night. She learned his name and his passions and saw him dance and laugh and live. He was a poet and a dreamer, but unlike the monster whose words he worshiped he was no thief and would not steal another’s heart unless freely given. She realized she saw in him something she had vainly looked for in her long dead killer and lover, and she hated him for it because the thought frightened her more than she wished to admit.

Nights went by and unseen she followed him through them even as the wound inside of her kept bleeding. For full a year she listened as he spoke the words of others and of his own, and watched him struggle with life and words and dreams. She was drawn to him in ways that she could not explain and for a time forgot to be the thirsting monster in the regretless shadows.

But time affected him as it did all mortals, and she heard his words and thoughts growing heavier and deeper for each moon that passed. The dreamer boy was turning into a man, and she knew that soon he would be old and withering and dying. His inspired words and dreams would slowly harden into pragmatic philosophy and then he would die, like they all did.

But he had made her feel, if only just so slightly. She knew that the uncaring apathy was ready to embrace her again, but having seen the light anew through this living thing she knew she would have to die all over again if she let it. So in order to save her mind and her memory of a soul from drowning, she stepped out of the shadows.

She stared into his eyes, she touched his face and she watched cold realization creep over him. Then she snapped his neck and drank his blood and listened as he drew his final, chocked breath.

And as she watched him die she slit her own wrist and let the red darkness pass from her to him. He would never grow old and die, and his words and dreams would never change.

“I have all the time in the world”, she whispered as life left him and made room for something new. ”Make me love you.”


This is the second part of an installment of three. It was inspired by a writing prompt, and you can find the first part here. Stay tuned for the third and final part, and feel free to leave comments!

On Blood And Dreams I

She was born in shadow and in blood, but that was long ago when the tall firs were sprouts and the ways of men were different. She was taught to live and let die by a monster with a heart, and the years saw her changing and hardening with every drop of red that forever stained her gentle hands and lips.

Her monster was a poet and a thief, and he had stolen her life without a second thought after hearing her recite his work in the house of God, and instantly falling in love with the sound of her voice. She herself was a singer and a romantic, and she had let herself be stolen without a struggle, after drowning helplessly in his eyes and instantly realizing that this was a death she did not wish to be liberated from.

Every night was dark poetry as the monster guided her through a world transformed by her hunger and by her innocence lost, and every day was sweet oblivion as he cradled her dead body in his just as lifeless arms. There was no shame, there was no remorse. If there was anything, there was art and they both reveled in it just as they reveled in each other’s company and in the blood that flowed like ample wine wherever they went.

The sprouts grew into saplings and men learned to worship the gods of science and enlightenment. There was never a shortage of affection in her still heart, and she looked with anticipation into this new night where she would follow him unafraid and with eyes wide open. He, however, the monster who had stolen her heartbeat and brought her this far beyond the life spans of all she had ever known and loved, who had seen her bury parents, sisters and brothers and who was now her only anchor in a world gone mad from industrial hubris, was silently losing faith.

He was a poet, but in this new world there was no room for words like his. The stories of this new century were not his stories, and the proud name that had once been on everyone’s lips was now only whispered by her, his stolen love, as she desperately tried to ease his pain and sorrow.

There was war, there was revolution and nobody any longer remembered the rhyme and verse of a dead monster whose words had once given birth to the thoughts of dreamers and the bravery of lovers and warriors. Together they had defied time and seen the fall of kingdoms, but now she was slowly watching oblivion do to him what death had never been able to accomplish. He was withering away before her eyes, and despite her best efforts to drag him with her into the brave new world it soon stood clear that he lacked the bravery – or the will – to follow her there.

“If I can’t get people to remember me, then what do I have?”, he said to her by twilight on that fateful, final night. ”We are creatures of shadow outside of time, doomed to watch the world change and our footprints in the sand fade away. I do not know this new world, I do not understand its struggles and its victories. Even my name has been taken by the waves, there is nothing left for me here.”

She silenced him and sang to him. They cried together for everything that had been lost along the way. They kissed and they loved and then she fell asleep on his arm, content that she had been able to reach him in his darkness and that everything would be alright. She would help him find the words that he had lost, just as she would make the world again know his name.

When again she woke, he was gone. In the moonlight outside she found his golden ring, resting silently amongst ashes that were slowly being carried away by the wind. He was gone. The new world was beginning, and she was alone.

The saplings grew into tall firs and men learned to worship the gods of machine and profit. She was born in shadow and in blood, but that was long ago when she was taught to live and let die by a monster with a heart. Now the years saw her changing and hardening with every drop of red that forever stained her gentle hands and lips, and she had long since sworn by that same red that she would never love again.


This text was inspired by a writing prompt, and is the first part of a story split in three. Stay tuned for the next part!

A Late Night Distraction

I like writing prompts, as you might have guessed by now. Here is another text inspired by one, and you can find the prompt here.


The night was late and silent. Outside her window the large city was going to sleep and inside her office she was alone. A security guard had passed her door half an hour ago, but since then nothing had broken her solitude. Good. She didn’t like being interrupted in her work, and she had plenty of it. Running a country this size was not a full time job; it was a life. She hadn’t gotten to where she was by wasting her precious time on such petty trivialities as sleep and other useless things.

The clock struck midnight. She looked up. She didn’t have that kind of clock in her office.

”You had me killed.” The voice came from the chair in the corner, now draped in shadow. A tiny glow pierced the gloom and revealed the end of a cigarette.

She remained seated, her eyes struggling against the darkness until she could make out the face of the man staring back at her from across the room. ”Oh, it’s you”, she said and turned her attention back to the screen. She didn’t like being interrupted in her work.

Quiet laughter, not really amused but almost. ”So I’m not the only one? There are others? Jesus, you’re cold.” He rose and walked over to her end of the office. Leaned against the window and continued smoking his cigarette.

A distinct scent of old tobacco smoke started spreading in the room. It had not been easy to get that same scent out of the walls when first she had taken over this office, and now she would have to do it all over again. She sighed. ”What do you want?”

”Sharp words from a vice president towards her superior, don’t you think?”

She almost lost her temper, and abandoned her work to stare at him. ”I would think that, yes, if I hadn’t been promoted and you hadn’t been dead. Now go back to resting in peace or whatever it is that you people do, and let me do my job.”

”Wow. I had expected at least some little show of remorse from you. But I’ll tell you what I want. I want retaliation or an apology, or at least an explanation. I won’t leave until I get one of them.”

She resumed typing on her keyboard, ignoring him. ”Then I’m afraid you’ll have to make yourself comfortable, because you’re not getting any of them from me.”

”I suspected as much”, he said and returned to the chair in the corner. ”That’s why I deliberately chose tonight for my visit.”

”Is that so?” She only listened with half an ear now. She didn’t have any time to spare for ranting, vengeful ghosts. She had to work on her next promotional speech.

”Yes it is.” He blew out some smoke and put one leg over the other. Leaned back. ”That’s quite some campaign you’re running there. Water proof, even. Your opponent won’t stand a sorry chance.”

She met his eyes, surprised and somewhat disarmed. ”Thank you. I guess. That actually means something, coming from you. I know I won’t be losing to him.”

The ghost nodded, a vicious smile playing at the corners of his moth. ”And he knows that too. That’s why I’m not your only visitor tonight.”

She frowned, opening her mouth to ask him what he meant. But then the door to her office burst open and all that escaped her lips was a scream in fear before everything became pain and chaos.

And he did just as she had asked him to and made himself comfortable, as he revelled in the violence that played out before him. She stopped screaming eventually, and the killer left the office as soundlessly as just another phantom.

”Retaliation it is, then”, the ghost of her predecessor laughed quietly from his chair. Then he drifted back into the shadows and the late night became silent once more.

And all that remained was blood and a fading scent of old tobacco smoke.

In the Heart of A Star

Yet another text in response to a writing prompt. You can also find an audio version of this story here. Feel free to leave a comment!


She stepped over broken and rusty things as she made her way through the old and forgotten room. She had followed him here, where he had obviously come to lick the wounds they had inflicted on him. The bloody trace of her terrible, cold creation had led her across the world. Now she had finally found him.

The light from the single window fell upon him where he lay in the rubble, almost possible to mistake for part of the rubble himself. For several heartbeats she just looked at him in silence. Though broken, he was still beautiful, just as she had made him. But the beauty was deceiving – she knew that now. His heart was cold as the distant stars, and he had not been the loving remedy for her immortal solitude that she had wished for him to be.

”I did not make you for this”, she said coldly.

The cogs in his head were rusty and chipped, but tried their best to turn. “You’re my mother?” The voice was cracked and discordant; the steel wires in his throat had slackened and worn down.

”There was a time when I would that you be my timeless companion, my sole comfort, my immortal lover. And yes, it was I who once made you. Thus I am your mother.” She knelt beside him and took his once so flawless face between her hands.

His one remaining eye met hers and she almost drowned in it. When he blinked a single, oily tear rolled down his cheek, leaving a black trail in its wake. ”…lover?”, he rasped. It pained her that a voice once made for singing now derided the art with its very sound.

”Yes, lover”, she whispered. ”I have searched for you, followed in your steps, traveled the world in quest for you. But you are broken now, my love, and you have done terrible things. The time has come for you to rest.”

His porcelain face contorted in fear, but there was no strength left in his body. With strong arms she cradled his upper body close to her. He tried to struggle as he saw her removing the chain with the little key from around her neck, but she held him firmly and began singing to him softly the tunes she had once learned from the sky.

”Hush, hush”, she whispered gently. ”I’m sorry for everything. I was just so lonely, drifting through the endless ages with no one by my side. But I know now that stars were never meant to walk the Earth.”

She put the small silver key into the hole in his chest, just as she had done that night so many years ago when she had first brought him to life. As she turned the key the little door in his chest opened, revealing the still pulsing piece of eternity that shone there. Its light illuminated the cluttered room and painted flowing nebulas upon the slanted ceiling.

”Please, don’t do it”, he said. It was barely more than a whisper. ”I’ll be anyone you want me to, just let me keep it. Please.”

Deep in his bottomless eye she could see the galaxies and suns of yore slowly spinning around the black void of his pupil.

”I wanted to love you”, she whispered and closed her hand around his borrowed heart, the heart of a fallen star. He tried to grab her wrist, but she was stronger and pushed his hand away. She never let go of his gaze, her sorrow meeting his fear for the very last time.

When she removed the pulsing star from his chest, all lights of nebulas and novas instantly left his staring eye and the broken chords of his voice silenced. His limp, lifeless body collapsed in her cradling arms and she was again alone in the world.

In her hand the fallen star still pulsed with all its secret life, shifting in its searing light that was too strong for all but another star to look at. She turned it between her fingers, allowed herself to bask in its familiar light one last time. She had been desperate for a companion, but a heart like this was a heart destined to grow cold and cruel. It had been a dream, but now she must wake up.

With tears streaming down her face she lifted the little lump of stardust to her lips and gently blew it out, extinguished it with her breath. Its light went out, its warmth slowly faded in her hand. The room went dark again, no universes painted on the slanted ceiling and no secret life in the eye of the clockwork lover in her arms. Just her, alone, as it had always been. Stars were never meant to walk the Earth, and still she remained.

And outside the small, broken window the distant and unblinking lights looked down at her and continued singing the ageless, soundless tunes of the cold and uncaring sky. She closed her eyes, clutched the dead stone in her hand and silently sang along.

Without Their Horses

Another story written in response to a writing prompt. I tried to work some symbolism in there, I hope you find it. Feel free to leave comments!


The white, streamlined vehicle came first. I reacted as the bright headlights sliced through the darkness outside and came to a stop in the parking lot. It was midnight, and this was not a well-traveled tract. Also, the car and it’s driver didn’t fit into the regular clientele at all. I muted the stereo and yawned, trying to kick myself into service mode.

I eyed the man suspiciously as he entered the Diner. Expensive suit, expensive haircut, expensive smile. ”What can I get you, sir?” A fed or a gangster, I didn’t know which of the two I preferred. The bow-tie, however, belied both theories. Who was this man?

He smiled at me and looked to his expensive watch. ”Nothing right now, thank you. I’m meeting some people here. I’ll just sit down and wait.” He paused. ”A cup of coffee would be perfect, though.”

I started pouring him one from the batch I had made earlier. ”I haven’t seen you around these parts before. Are you traveling?”

”You could say that. But I’ve been here before, many times. It has been a while now, but me and my associates come together at a regular basis, and every time that happens we meet here.”

I was confused. I had been working in that diner for ten years, ever since it opened, and I had never seen this man before. I could have missed him, of course, but I was pretty sure I would have heard about him from my coworkers. But it didn’t really matter. I settled for a polite smile and a knowing nod. ”How do you want your coffee? Milk? Sugar?”

He laughed softly. An expensive laugh. ”No, thank you, I take my coffee black. Black as tar.” I didn’t get the joke, but it was something in his eyes that told me he expected me to laugh. So I did, although stiffly. It seemed like the wisest thing to do, like this was a man used to having things his way.

I handed him his coffee. ”Nice car”, I said just to break the uncomfortable silence. ”Ferrari?”

He accepted the cup and afforded me a condescending smile. ”Maybach Exelero”, he replied and settled down by the window.

A few minutes later the night was again flooded by bright lights as another car, this one larger, pulled up beside the first one. Even after the headlights were turned off, the deep red of the hood still reflected the Diner’s lights and gave the vehicle an almost fiery impression. I watched as a man climbed out of the huge SUV. Even from where I stood I registered his muscular build, and his attire gave him away for a military man – perhaps of some rank.

He entered the door and nodded in the direction of the other man before walking up to me. His features were rugged and sharp, and there was no warmth in his eyes, nor in his voice, when he addressed me. ”I’ll have the steak of the house”, he said. ”And make it bloody.”

”Certainly, sir”, I said as I wrote down his order. Not that I needed to do so, I just wanted an excuse not to meet his fierce eyes. ”Anything else?”

”No”, he replied. ”And skip the vegetables and all the other wastes of time. I just want the meat.”

Then I jumped as he slammed his palm against the counter. ”And you look at me when I’m talking to you.” From pure chock I met his eyes and I could have sworn there were fires burning there. ”You shouldn’t be working in a shithole like this, under these fuck shit conditions. You have to stand up for yourself. You hear me?”

I nodded slowly, and tried to keep my voice from shaking. ”I hear you, sir. Your order’ll be right up.” He eyed me for another eternity before releasing me from his attention and marching over to the table. I could see him adjusting the sheath of a huge army knife on his belt before sitting down.

I tried to regain my composure as I went to work preparing the coarse steak plate. In the background I could hear the two men conversing across the table, but I was not able to make out what was being said. They seemed to know one another well, however, and when a third car pulled up outside they both looked up in silent anticipation. This car was black, and I was surprised to see that it was of a model I knew. Audi A6 was fancy according to my standards, but it posed an almost mundane contrast to the two extravagant monsters that stood parked beside it.

As the driver entered the Diner I registered that his looks matched the price level of his vessel. Smart and professional, but not overblown. He eyed the menu on the wall with a displeased frown before stepping up to the counter.

”I see you are giving away free wheat bread together with the salad buffet”, he said. ”That cannot be tolerated.”

I was completely taken aback by the strange statement. ”What do you mean? Everybody does that. Or do you mean you’d rather have gluten free bread? That’s no problem, we have that too. We just don’t keep it up front because –”

”No, that’s not what I meant. You just can’t go giving out free bread. I’ll look into this, if it’s true that ‘everybody’ does it. Then I’ll get back to you. But for now, I’ll just have a glass of wine and a single slice of bread. With lots of olive oil on it.”

I just stared for a moment. What was this man, some kind of food inspector? Was I in trouble? Instead of asking more questions, however, I just poured him a glass of red wine and took note of his strange order. ”Here you go, sir”, I said and handed him the wine. ”The bread and… olive oil will be right up. That’ll be five dollars for the wine, and the bread is on the hou…” I caught myself when seeing his stern look. ”Eh, that’ll be seven dollars all in all, sir”.

He nodded, and when he handed me the money I noticed that his golden cuff-links were shaped like small balancing scales. He then brought his wine to the table and instantly started talking to the other two.

The conversation at the table died completely, however, when the fourth car showed up. It was nothing like the others and resembled a hearse more than a private car. Its headlights were a strange tint of pale green, and the carriage body was grey. An eerie silence settled inside the Diner as the driver got out, followed by a large, black dog. The man’s walk was supported by a cane with a curved metal handle, and the lamp light fell strangely on it when he entered the door.

”You cannot bring animals in here”, I hurried to say as the man and the beast walked towards me.

The slender, darkly dressed man just looked at me, held my eyes in a calm, cold grip. I felt all the color drain from my face and my throat tighten. ”Hades follows me everywhere”, he ascertained flatly before joining the others at the table. The dog granted me with another ravenous, piercing look before proudly sitting down on the floor beside his master. From then on the voices at the table took an a more serious and respectful character, and even without knowing the subject I could tell that they were getting down to business.

I really didn’t want to walk over there with the plates, but I knew that I had to. The steak in one hand and the bread in the other, I took a deep breath and forced a smile on my face. They were paying customers and, also, for all i knew they might kill me if I attended them poorly. As I came closer, more of their conversations could be heard.

”…and placed a considerable part of my assets into companies such as Marlboro and Prince”, the man with the expensive haircut said as he sipped his coffee. ”It is already paying off – in every way, I might add.” The others nodded and offered words of approval.

The man with the cuff-links cleared his throat. ”You always were the flamboyant one, my friend. I, to the contrary, have focused on exploiting the possibilities of economization. In the last week, I have moved several departments of lucrative, western companies to Third World countries where production in cheaper and working conditions poorer. The result is unemployment here, and inhuman exploitation there. Both of which serve my purposes perfectly. I have also been looking into the potential of out-sourcing, but I’ll come to that later.”

They all looked up at me as I arrived at their table, and all those eyes at once were almost more than i could bear. ”Your steak, sir”, I murmured as I put the plate down in front of the man with the knife. ”And your bread.” I put the other plate down as graciously as I could, but couldn’t stop my hand from shaking.

The pale man with the dog grabbed hold of my wrist as I turned to leave. His grip was cold as the grave and I froze, felt my fingers go numb. ”You are afraid, dear”, he creaked hollowly. ”Don’t be. You have many years yet to live, and it would be a true shame to waste them in fear of us.”

Caught in his grip I could do nothing but stare. At him, at the monstrous dog, at the faces of the other men around the table. And that’s when I knew. Suddenly I understood everything.

Panicking, I tore myself free from that icy grip and backed away in chock. Then I ran. The last thing I heard before I slammed the backroom door shut behind me and locked it was the roaring laughter of the four strangers at the table.

I remained in that little room for hours, until dawn approached and I could hear engines starting outside. Then I opened the door a crack, just enough to be able to see the four men and the dog getting into their cars and disappearing into the twilight, as if they had never even been there. But I knew that they would always be out there, watching, waiting, wallowing.

They had replaced their steeds with the carriers of the modern generation, but I still knew them for what they were. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Conquest, War, Famine and Death, with Hades in his wake. And even though I had believed the words of Death when he said that I had many years yet to live, I realized that from that day onward I would live my life always fearing them and their inevitable victory.

What He Heard In The Mist

This text was written in response to a writing prompt, and I suggest listening to this music track while reading it to get the right atmosphere. Feel free to leave comments and feedback!


Second lieutenant Steward Whitewall of the offshore patrol vessel USCGC Carolla watched from behind his desk as the thick fog on the other side of the window engulfed the craft in a grey nothingness. He could hear the engines slowing down their pace somewhere in the depths below him to match their careful cruising speed, and checked again that his equipment was active and working. He was the radio operator of this ship, and would have to be extra attentive now that the visibility was limited.

On his radar he could discern smaller vessels out there in the unknown void, but they kept their distance and seemed to be already making for shore. But the Carolla was a steady thing, built to last through conditions much worse than these, and they had a broad perimeter to screen before returning back home. Their equipment was top notch, and they should not encounter any problems navigating through the mist.

He desperately wanted a cup of coffee, but this was not the time to go get one. He would have to wait until he was relieved in another thirty minutes, and settled instead for chewing at a mint toothpick to ease his restlessness. It was not his main responsibility to keep track of the radar – the people in Navigation took care of that – and Steward focused instead on listening in on the various messages broadcasted across the ether by other operators like him.

The yacht Sabrina was having engine problems two MI to the east, but was shortly aided by a nearby cabin cruiser called Sunset Dream. Other smaller vessels could be heard calling for help with navigation, and Steward dutifully called out the Carolla’s position to avoid risking a collision course. He, of course, knew that none of the civilians were even close to their coordinates, but had been taught to be thorough in the performance of his task.

He checked a couple of other frequencies just to be sure about not missing anything, and reported ashore about the distress of the Sabrina just for the sake of it.

”This is Second lieutenant Whitewall at USCGC Carolla, of the United States Coast Guard. We have just picked up a distress message from the S/Y Sabrina at N 41° 37′ 36.986” W 66° 29′ 21.328”, over. Reportedly aided by the civilian vessel Sunset Dream, over.”

When next he looked to the radar screen, all the smaller vessels seemed to have left the area. This was of course a good thing, but something didn’t feel right. He had only looked away for a couple of minutes – there should be at least a couple of ships still out there, even if most of them had made it to shore. He checked his equipment again, but everything seemed to be in order.

Steward looked to his watch and sighed. Still ten minutes until the arrival of his replacement. He would have to deal with this. He pressed the microphone button of the ship’s intercom and called out for Navigation. Only static awarded him from the other end of the line. What the hell was this? Did they have some real technical problems, after all?

Then everything went completely silent as the rumbling of the engines slowed up even more and finally stopped completely without explanation. He tried the intercom again, switching to the general channel this time. He could hear indistinct voices amidst the deafening static, but was only able make out incoherent snatches of what was being said. One thing was made clear, however: there really was a problem, and it seemed to be serious.

He hastily switched back to the outward communication channel and started sending out information about their coordinates, their speed and an indication that they might be experiencing some kind of problem. He could not be more specific than that without being further informed himself, and waited impatiently for the ship’s command to send him a message or a runner to inform him of the situation. Because one thing was obvious, at least: he could not abandon his post under these circumstances. But no message came, not even a response to his broadcast. And outside his window the mist was thickening, embracing the vessel and making him feel completely isolated from the world.

Then the silence was suddenly broken by a crackling in his headphones. Someone was trying to reach him through the radio, someone from the outside. Frenetically he tried to tune in on the message, desperate for a human voice to break the deafening silence that closed in on him from all sides.

At the same time he suddenly noticed a single dot on the radar, approaching the Carolla at a steady pace. He had to warn them, he had to tell them they were there in the mist. Couldn’t the strange vessel see them on their radar? It seemed like a large ship, surely they must have equipment to match their size? And that’s when he finally found the right frequency, and realized that the message was being broadcasted from the approaching ship. And his blood froze.

”…the United States Coast Guard. We are on a collision course. You have to veer starboard. I repeat, veer starboard, over”, the voice on the radio said.

Steward Whitewall just stared in horror as a large shape drifted forth from the heavy mist, straight towards them. He could hear the shrieking sound as parts of the Carolla’s broken machinery struggled painfully to life, trying to make one last yaw – but it was too late. The dot on the radar closed in on them, and on the other side of the window the other vessel now towered over him like a growing nightmare from Hell.

But it was not the imminent collision that made him numb with fear. No, it was the voice in his headphones – a voice he recognized very well. He slowly stood up as the other ship made a sluggish attempt to veer away, and that’s when he saw the impossible. On the vessel’s larboard side was written in high, crumbling letters its name. He took a deep breath, and the message repeated in his ears.

”This is Second lieutenant Whitewall at USCGC Carolla, the United States Coast Guard. We are on a collision course. You have to veer starboard. I repeat, veer starboard, over.”

Then the broadcast lapsed into static again, just as the rumbling impact shook the entire ship and threw the world into chaos. Stewards screamed with the dying ship, picked up his chair and smashed it against the radio transmitter. A horror he had never thought possible took hold of him, and he ran though the door, desperate to get away from this impossible nightmare.

And in his head continued to ring the voice that had spoken to him across the ether. The voice of the operator at the ship which had stolen the Carolla’s name. His own voice.