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Hidden Auditorium

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  • May 05, 2015 12:32:04 AM
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A Little About Us

A collection o short stories, poetry, and fictional snippets, covering an assortment of genres, from urban fantasy to horror and science fiction.

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Nano-bit: Beyond the Land of the Dead

Still plodding along through Part VII of my Empyrean epic. Here’s another glimpse of the alternate reality I’m slowly–but steadily–constructing. Micah and his cyborg companion lurch forward, deeper into the western wastelands. The below lines are the start of a new section, imagery of their transition from one landscape to the next. My initial thoughts...

Still plodding along through Part VII of my Empyrean epic. Here’s another glimpse of the alternate reality I’m slowly–but steadily–constructing. Micah and his cyborg companion lurch forward, deeper into the western wastelands. The below lines are the start of a new section, imagery of their transition from one landscape to the next. My initial thoughts are always, “Oh, this next section will be short.” Then, it ends up being 20 pages long. It’s my M.O. I don’t know when I’ll just throw my hands up and accept this. I draw my inspiration from Tolkien. I have such a huge passion for building out the physical surroundings of my characters. Anyway, here you go…enjoy.

***

dunes

The ensuing leg of their journey was short and, although not quite pleasant given the awkward silence draped over the two of them like a rain-soaked wool blanket, quiet. The Necropolis was but a few kilometers from start to end, a shallow valley pockmarked with eroding traces of Egypt’s lost Queens and Kings. It was a nothing more than a landing strip laid parallel to the once-mighty Nile, a testament to the people’s fear of venturing too far eastward into the cursed desert.

Not surprisingly, they found only one road leading eastward out of the Necropolis—a narrow and crumbling concrete strip one could barely call a road—lined on one side with leaning or toppled utility poles. While dodging rusted power lines and protruding slabs of pavement, the pair followed the road a scant kilometer or two before it dissolved into the steaming powder of the Sahara. They had left the striated hills of the Nile’s western bank behind them and descended into a seemingly endless expanse of rippling dunes. Just a day before, Micah had longed for the desert and the possibilities that lay beyond it. But now, as his feet melted into the sand with each and every step he took, as the smoldering heat of Aldebaran II seeped through his mantle and scalded his nape and scalp, he longed for the skeletal remains of Thebes, ghosts and all. Behind them, the hills of the Necropolis were nothing but a thin layer of rose-tinctured haze floating above the horizon. Ahead of them, desolation. Dread.

Hopelessness….

 


Nano-bit: Guardians of the Sahara

Part VII is still a work in progress. It’s hard to find a balance between writing and…well, life. Lately, I’m finding my way back into my craft, and I’m hoping to finish Part VII soon. In the mean time, here is a glimpse into Micah’s and his cyborg friend’s journey into the depths of the...

Part VII is still a work in progress. It’s hard to find a balance between writing and…well, life. Lately, I’m finding my way back into my craft, and I’m hoping to finish Part VII soon. In the mean time, here is a glimpse into Micah’s and his cyborg friend’s journey into the depths of the Western Desert.

***

road

“It’s no use!” Micah screamed over the sounds of rushing sand—it sounded like the world’s largest hourglass, tipped over on its head—and grinding stone, like a million teeth being ground together, endlessly, until they were nothing but a powered pile of calcium. “There’s no way out!”

“Fuck that!” his companion shouted in return. “I’m not giving up without a fight. Not after everything we’ve been through to get here.”

The two spun in circles, their backs pressed firmly against one another, their dirtied boots tracing a furrowed ring around where they stood. Above them, an army of shifting shadows loomed, gathering, closing in.

“Well then, if you have any bright ideas, now would be a great time to share them.”

The man with the glowing orange eyes peered upward as a band of living—well, perhaps not living, that was still to be determined, but they were certainly moving, and fast—stone figures surrounded them, forming an ever-tightening ring as they pressed forward, trapping them, swallowing them. The man continued moving in a circle, his feet shifting effortlessly in a grapevine motion, his face as stony as those he was now analyzing. His mechanical eyes buzzed and whirred—silently, too faint to be heard over the onrush of their assailants—as he scanned the statues from head to toe and back up. Pixelated numbers and letters danced across his vision, a snaking, slithering tickertape of information. There were seven of them, each more than fifty meters in height. They were naked except for a pair of carved sandals and a skirt with its “hem” floating above their sculpted knees. They were human—humanoid. Their bodies were immaculate, chiseled to male perfection. Each was an Adonis in his own right, with a detail so fine their lithic exterior looked almost like skin, the rosy tint of the crimsonite giving their hides a lifelike sunburnt tint. But from the neck upward, they lost all relation to Homo sapiens. Each donned the head of a different animal: a jackal, a cat, a vulture, an owl, an ibis, an ox, and a fish, all prominent symbols of Ancient Egyptian culture.

But most curious of all was the light. At every joint—at every line and curvature of their bodies—were thin slits emanating a sharp red light. It was as if the stone was but a guise…a suit of limestone armor concealing something much more intricate and sinister underneath.

“Still waiting!” Micah shouted into his companion’s ear. He gripped at the pocket of his cloak and felt a moment of reprieve as the outline of the hexagonal crystal pressed against his palm. But it was cold. So cold. A shocking sensation in the intense heat of the dunes. Why wasn’t it awake? Why weren’t its light and heat and color there to reassure and protect them? Why? He looked up as more than a dozen sandaled feet lumbered toward them. Each was larger than a tank, sinking beneath the sand upon contact, then lifting up, up, up, leaving a gulping sinkhole in its wake.

They were surrounded. Blockading them were seventy immaculately manicured stone toes, the smallest pinky toes larger than an adult human. Micah’s cyborg companion ripped the sidearm from the stained leather holster dangling at his waist, a rusted-over junk scrap scavenged from the trash heaps outside Ravenpool. A third-generation OmniCo photon concentrator, an outdated piece of shit, decades old and not worth a bucket of warm spit, according to the man who’d swiped it. But beggars can’t be choosers, he’d also said. Turns out, there was still a bit of charge left in the thing, and it was the best they could do with the Flatfoots hot on their heels during their escape from the Alcazar. The only thing Micah came away with was a tarnished dagger, the blade dulled and dented.

The cyborg lifted the piece to eye level and flipped the detonator switch. Nothing. He slammed his palm—all metal—against the barrel of the gun and tried again. Nothing.

“I thought you said that thing still had a few shots left in it?” Micah shouted above the din.

“That was fucking weeks ago,” he snapped back and tossed the gun aside. Even if it had worked, best-case scenario, it would have left a few dents in the shin of one of the giants but nothing more.

The cyborg waited, watched. Zeroes and ones danced across his field of vision. Slight movement as the man-ibis shifted to the right.

“What do we do?” Micah shouted. “What do we do?”

The cyborg waited, watched, did not respond. The man-ibis leaned to the left, the weight of the statue shifting, causing the thing’s left sandal to sink lower into the roiling sand.

“Are you fucking listening to me? Some advice would be really great right about now.” The man was here to protect—it was the only reason he’d caved to Xen’s advice, to let him tag along as his sidekick. He’d done it for her. And if he wasn’t going to do his job, then what use was he to him?

The cyborg waited, watched, did not respond. And then it happened. Just as he’d calculated. The right foot shifted, and then lifted.

“Aw fuck,” Micah grumbled and, in a panic, broke from their back-to-back embrace.

“Wait,” the cyborg commanded, throwing his arm out and practically clotheslining Micah with the weight of his artificial arm.

“Are you insane?” Micah struggled to free himself, but the cyborg held tight onto his cloak, his grip too powerful for Micah to overcome.

“Wait.”

Micah tensed, and then relented. He collapsed into himself, his shoulders hunched and caved inward, succumbing to the whims of Fate. He clutched the pocket of his cloak, the imprint of the crystalline shard calming his nerves just enough. But it was cold, even through the thickness of the fabric. Too cold, considering the intense desert heat. It wasn’t right. Something was wrong. Very wrong.

“Wait,” the cyborg said once more. The right leg of the man-ibis was directly above them now, the bottom of the sandal blocking the glare of the afternoon sun. “On my command, you go right, I go left.”

“Go right where? There’s nowhere to go. We’re blocked in.” For just a moment, Micah felt a reprieve from the feverish heat as the foot of the man-ibis cast a dark shadow over them. But just for a moment, because then the foot was coming down, down, down.

“Now! Go!”

Micah cut and ran to the right. The limestone appendage plummeted into the cushiony bed of sand like a torpedo. The impact set off a detonation that blasted Micah’s eardrums and sent him sailing through the air. A shower of sand blasted his exposed skin, rubbing raw his exposed skin. He scrambled onto all fours, pushing himself free from the blanket of sand covering him. The atmosphere was filled with a series of echoing thuds. The ground rocked beneath him and shadows danced around him. A sudden wave of nausea overcame him and his body tensed, ready to vomit.

Then he was floating. No, pulled. His friend was there, dragging him to his feet, and the sickness passed. The cyborg was yanking at Micah’s arm—Too hard, you don’t know your own strength, Micah thought, feeling as if his humerus would be pulled free from its socket at any moment—and shouting. But he couldn’t understand a word. His companion’s pleas were nothing but a stream of vibrating muffles that tickled his numbed eardrums. But he was pointing franticly in one direction, and that was all that Micah needed. The man-ibis was in the center of the ring now, scrutinizing its escaped prey. A gap in the cincture has appeared. But it was shrinking as the ibis’s two flanks—the owl and the fish—closed in.

They ran.

And then they were free, fleeing across the desert, a yoke of oxen driven by an army of animate, anthropomorphic skyscrapers.

But their attempt was futile. It took but a few bounds for their pursuers to catch up with them. The man-ox—all muscle—crouched into a squat and threw down a clenched fist to their right. The ground rippled outward, like a pebble tossed into a pond, and brought the pair quickly and easily to their knees. They were toying with them. A game of cat and mouse—knowing your prey didn’t stand a chance, but why not have a little fun while you were at it? No sense in ending things too quickly. No doubt these fellows encounter few, if any, trespassers—this was a feared place. No man’s land. Anyone with half a brain—regardless of what you actually believed in, if you believed in her or not—steered clear of the Eastern Desert. Life was a lonely existence out here.

Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to play with your dinner! Micah thought as he scrambled to his feet.

They were barely stumbling forward again when the man-cat was upon them, crouched in a predatory feline stance, looking as if it were ready to pounce at any moment. In a swift blur—looking very unnatural for a stories-high stone statue—it lanced one arm forward and above them. Down it came, its fingers spread as they pierced the sand and raked backward in a brisk motion. Micah and the cyborg, caught up in a wave of sand, were swept between its fingers and nearly buried alive.

The cyborg, with his unnatural strength, burst free from the ridge of sand and, grabbing Micah by the collar of his cloak, pulled him—with seeming ease—along with him. Micah, choking on sand, faltered.

“Get up!” the cyborg commanded. Maybe they could have made it. Or, perhaps, they never stood a chance at all. But Micah’s hesitation cost them dearly. In but a moment, they were surrounded again, this time with the man-jackal taking the lead. With its knees bent, it raised one arm above it. Micah craned his neck upward, using one hand to shield his eyes from the glaring sun. For one brief, comical moment, he thought the creature was begging for a high five from one of its pals.

And then its palm was coming down, down, down.

And then, only darkness.


Stick ‘Em Up: What Goes Around Comes Around

Here it is…Part 3 of the three-part series. Read them all together and you’ll discover the predicament our protagonist has found himself in…

Here it is…Part 3 of the three-part series. Read them all together and you’ll discover the predicament our protagonist has found himself in…

What Goes Around Comes Around


Stick ‘Em Up: Early Bird Gets the Worm

This one is a continuation of the last Stick ‘Em Up entry–part two of a three-part series.

This one is a continuation of the last Stick ‘Em Up entry–part two of a three-part series.

Early Bird Gets the Worm


Stick ‘Em Up: That Which Lies Below

Happy Friday the 13th!  

Happy Friday the 13th!

 

That Which Lies Below


Stick ‘Em Up: Flight-or-Fall Response

Flight-or-Fall Response


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