Archive for horror

Friday Flash: Gargoyle

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 31, 2010 by David Robinson - Freelance Writer & Novelist

Will it be this year?

I thought it would be last year. And the year before. And the year before that. Every year I think it is the year; every year I am disappointed.

Not for myself. It’s for them: my children who adorn this monolith, their young lives frozen in stone before they had properly begun.

Crowds are gathering below. They come every year in their numbers, offering praise to whatever deity it is they believe in, by singing their hearts out. Bells ring, orchestrating the harmony and with each toll of those bells, each note of the hymns, I feel the stone carapace that has trapped me for over five hundred years, crack a little more. One day it will split completely and I shall be free.

Many years ago, they fought amongst themselves. During the six years of that conflict, bombs fell from the sky, and I prayed that one of the missiles would strike the spire where we are entombed, free us, let us feed on them. They consider themselves the lords of creation, yet they are mortal. They squabble amongst themselves. They fight and kill each other for no good reason. They are food for immortals like me and my babies.

And yet, it was one of their number, one skilled in the mystic arts, who sentenced us to an eternity trapped in stone. Of them all, he probably deserved immortality … until that night when he turned his practised skills on us and perpetrated this obscenity.

What was our crime? What had we done to deserve such punishment?

Nothing. We ate. That is the truth of it.

Unlike most sentient beings, we do not eat to survive. We are immortal. But what use is immortality if you can develop wisdom to go with it? And for that wisdom, we need food.

We lived on such as we could find: small mammals, rodents, and when we hunted in flocks, larger mammals such as cattle or horses. The finest delicacy were humans, but relatives from other parts of the world had advised caution.

“If you must hunt man, do so discreetly. Take them one at a time, when they’re alone, away from their breeding grounds, those vast areas they call cities.”

It was advice we accepted for many a century. We would come across the occasional traveller or maid working the fields far from her home, and we would enjoy the feast. Food to excite even the most jaded palette. And they were never missed other than by a few of their kind.

They begin to sing now. Glory to their god. And those appointed to the task, begin to pull on the ropes. The clappers strike, the bells ring, the vibrations emanate through the vast cathedral. I can feel my stone surround shivering in the oscillations. Tonight, my children, your patience may be rewarded.

I recall that terrible year 1503 (as they count the years). A poor summer followed by bitter winter drove the mammals and rodents underground, safe away from us. Humans did not stray far from their homes. Food was scarce. Hunger gnawed at our bellies. I had babies to feed. I could find no food for them. They whined, growled, chirped at me, pleading for a meal. In desperation I took them to the heart of the humans’ main settlement, and there we found rich pickings: hundreds and hundreds of people revelling in the coming of another new year.

Casting caution to winds, disregarding the long held counsel of my distant cousins, I led my sons and daughters to the feast.

Oh the joy of eating after such a barren season. My children gorged themselves on the hapless humans in that square. We were deaf to the screams (all animals scream when they are on the point of death by mastication, it is only humans who put it into words.) So frenzied was my own feasting that I forget to tell my children to avoid the head. Not that there is anything wrong with the head, but it is mostly useless bone with little in the way of meat.

My beak dripping blood, I watched in satisfaction while two of my daughters cut a woman down and took out her entire chest in a matter of seconds.

It was only when he appeared that I felt the first trickle of fear. I knew the moment I laid eyes upon him that we would never get to him in time. He spoke his magic words. Stone came, as if from nowhere, to surround and encase me. Squawking with impotent rage, I watched through the eyelets while my babies were wrapped in the same impenetrable armour. Over the coming days, we were hoisted one by one to perch on the spire of this great church, where we would watch over the centuries while men gave thanks to their deity.

The bells ring, I feel the stone coat trembling. It is going to crack! It is tonight! I will be free and even if my children are not, once I am flying, feeding again, I will use every ounce of my energy to peck them free of their stone sarcophagi.

No. It cannot be.

The bells have fallen silent. The faithful file from the cathedral. But I am not free. I am still entombed.

How much longer? How many more years, how many centuries must I endure before I feel the wind in my face, enjoy the freedom of the skies and salivate at the thought of food?

I stare down at the crowds leaving the cathedral and bury my useless anger. Enjoy your New Year, unworthy ones. It may be your last.

Friday Flash: Tis the Season To Be Jolly

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 10, 2010 by David Robinson - Freelance Writer & Novelist

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly.
Tra-la-la-la-laa-la-la-la-laa.”

The chirruping of choristers niggles as I wander the icy streets. Why holly? Because it is a perennial. I am perennial, too, so why not lily?

“Tis the season to be jolly.
Tra-la-la-la-laa-la-la-la-laa”

I am jolly when at my work and I am at my work now. As I amble along the crowded pavements, I carry out my work with the same good cheer I have displayed since … how long? Forever?

Here’s a jolly one coming towards me. Jolly and drunk, bidding everyone a gurgled, “Happy Christmas.”

Does he wish the same for me? Like most of them, he doesn’t even see me. They never realise I’m there until …

There’s a bus behind him, filled with more seasonal revellers. The driver takes his time negotiating the narrow street where shoppers and partygoers spill from the pavements into the road.

It’s so tempting. One nicely timed nudge and the jolly drunk will be …

I cannot. He is not the one. I never know who is the one until we meet. Then I know instinctively. Then I carry out my work. Then I am jolly, at peace in the light of a job well done.

“Merry New Year,” warbles the drunk as he passes me.

His greeting is not directed at me but at a crowd of young men and women outside the entrance to a busy bar. They return his compliment and laugh at his inebriation. Others will laugh at them in a few hours when they have drunk themselves into a stupor.

A brass band stands on the street corner. They play O Come All Ye Faithful. I scan their faces, red with the cold and respiratory exertion of producing the music. She’s there. I recognise her immediately. The one. She plays the flugelhorn, the notes resonating sweetly in my ears. Perfect pitch. More soothing than the warbling of the choristers further down the street.

She is young and pretty; slender, curvaceous, and I guess she would be alluring if it were not for the dour navy blue and gold braiding of her band uniform. Her fair hair sweeps gently over the collar of her jacket, her fine boned fingers, so delicate, deftly manipulate the valves in a manner that is at once skilful yet arousing. The baby blue eyes focus on the music, scanning the scales left to right, down, left to right, down.

Long buried memories of passion stir inside me. I want her. I want to possess her, let her possess me.

But I am beyond such lust. She is the one. I must carry out my work. It is the only medium through which I can be jolly in this season of joy.

All I need is the instrument. I study the flugelhorn. Could I? The inevitable pun strikes my mind. The flugelhorn is the instrument of …

A crowd of merrymakers are coming towards her. The young man at the head of the crowd, worse for wear from alcohol, staggers and leaps about in a bizarre imitation of jollity, showing off to his friends. He is not watching where he is going.

The instrument.

I cannot touch him. I can only walk by, let the chill of my passing divert his course. And as he sways to one side or the other, he bumps into her. His friends and other passers-by shout warnings. One man tries to put himself between the reveller and her. Even if he does, he will only be cannoned into her and the inevitable will take its course.

The push in her back thrusts her forward. She loses her footing on the icy pavement and topples, face down. The survival instinct removes the horn from her sensuous lips. She puts out a hand to save herself. It’s too late. As she falls, she lands on the trumpet, its stem striking between those fine breasts. She let’s out a cry, quickly stifled to the wheezing of breath forced from her tortured lungs. Her ribs are crushed in exactly the right place, and her heart is ruptured. Blood trickles from her mouth, stains the pavements a pale pink.

They turn her over. She looks up and she sees me. I smile and as she drifts into terminal shock, I move on.

My work is done and I feel jolly but the joy in my soul at a job well done will not last long. I have to be elsewhere to meet the next one. The thought takes the edge off my jolliness. Death’s work is never finished.

“Deck the halls with boughs of lily.
Tra-la-la-la-laa-la-la-la-laa”

It has a certain ring to it.

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