Phantom Queen

Three young women stood watching the sea. Footsteps too far to hear alerted them of a man approaching. Their wait was at an end. They all turned in unison and walked toward the small cottage they would call home for today. Two of the women turned toward the third and merged with her, disappearing like ghosts into the earth. The lone woman kept walking toward the cottage. Each step she took aged her until she was grey and slow. Hours passed before the young man came into view.

“Hello Madame,” he called as he approached, his leather armor defining his muscles more than hiding them. A long spear lay strapped across his back. The smile on his face dispelled any intimidation his figure would have normally held.

She stopped milking her cow and turned toward him in crafted surprise. This was the first time he had recognized her after many attempts to capture his attention. “Oh, hello young man. You must be weary to have come all this way. Please, have some bainne. There is too much for just me.”

He approached and graciously accepted the offer. He drank three full glasses of the fresh milk.

“Thank you for your kindness. This will help my strength in future battles.”

“You shall be the strongest warrior,” she said knowing the truth of her words.

“Alas, I cannot stay to enjoy a proper exchanging of words. Please accept my deepest apologies.” He bowed to her.

“No need for such formalities. Young men are naturally making use of their constant vigor, as they should before age strips it of them.”

The young warrior continued his path and the old woman watched him go until he was lost to the horizon. Then her body burst into a murder of crows scattering across the sky.

Living Space

“She lived here?” Jen asked as she waded through piles of miscellaneous junk. Piles of clothes, stacks of papers, a table covered in old toys and broken gadgets.

The room smelled of cat piss and dust, as if the door hadn’t been opened in decades. The carpet was stained and torn. The floorboards were showing in one corner, which Greg avoided for fear of falling through the rotted wood.

“It would be easier to just burn this place down,” he said.

“We need to find at least a few reminders of her. The rest can be trashed.”

Reminders. That was why they were there. To find an untarnished object to induce memories. Good memories of his mother. Before she moved here. Back when she smiled and he would visit her. Back to good times.

“I can’t believe this is how she ended.” His voice caught as the guilt set in.

1440 Minutes

Everyone wondered where Matthew’s ideas came from. He always answered as if he didn’t know himself, and there was some truth in that answer. The part he always omitted was something he didn’t think anyone would believe. He never understood it well enough to explain it in detail.

Matthew only knew they came at night like spiders through the window climbing up to whisper in his ear. He would sit down at midnight, every night, and write the words as they came to him. The quicker the words came, the faster he would write, and every night the words would halt at 1:00am.

What Matthew didn’t know was his ideas originated in his blood. He didn’t know it takes one minute for blood to fully circulate throughout the body. He never knew that in his right femoral bone marrow, a new white blood cell was created every day, at 11:59pm.

A Gem Full of Living Things

She watched the horses prancing through the fields below and smiled. The sun’s rays warmed her while the breeze was barely cool enough to notice. Lunch had been a plate of carrots, potatoes, and chicken. Now, in the afternoon daylight, she let herself wonder the hills and take in the land.

The plains were beautiful and green and the mountains beyond them were a dreamlike backdrop she once imagined could only exist in movies.

She sighed and sat down, running a hand down her dress to prevent it from bundling beneath her. Days like these made her believe this whole world was made simply to exist. No higher meaning. No explanations. A place where she could simply sit in the sage grass and look at all the wonderful things and be happy. It was all peaceful. Even the storm crawling over the mountains was beautiful.

Tonight’s Entertainment

He opened his eyes to see a bulky, metal globe floating above him. The sphere turned to reveal drawn-on eyes and large, endless smile that filled the surface.

“Hello friend,” the metal face said, its eyes unblinking.

“Where am I?” he groaned.

“You’re at the best place this side of the universe my friend. Before it’s time, what’s your name?”

He sat up and ran a hand through his hair. His head felt heavy. “I…I don’t know. I can’t remember,” he finally answered.

“That’s too bad. I like to get people’s names, but when you forget you forget. Oh, we’re starting.” The metal head disappeared.

A roaring filled his ears as he stood up and took in his surroundings. He was in the middle of an arena. Twenty-foot walls surrounded him. Above the walls were thousands of creatures cheering and jeering. Littered amongst them were his own kind. A small group of which had formed near the crest of the wall farthest from him.

“Welcome,” a voice boomed over the noise, “to the one, the only, ABATTOIR!!!!” The crowd erupted. The announcer waited a moment before continuing, “Without further delay, I give you the opening round.”

The noise drowned out everything. He spun in time to see the metal face charging at him with six writhing, mechanical legs. Two of which threw him across the enclosure. He hit the ground hard. Before he could react, he was lifted off the ground and slammed against the wall. He looked up and saw the small group from his world. He could hear their curses through the din.

He looked down at the metal arm holding him against the wall. The metal sphere filled his vision. The hollow eyes and endless smile mere inches from his face.

“Goodbye, friend.”