Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category


Past Story

October 21, 2009

London 1666

James ran down the cobbled street pulling Fiona after him. The sweat was running down his face and he used his free hand to wipe the sweat from his eyes.

“Did you see it?” he gasped. Fiona was still trying to keep up so that her arm wouldn’t be wrenched from its socket and did not answer. James continued running, with his eyes to the heavens. Fiona had seen something but wasn’t sure what but it had sure caught the imagination of James, she had never seen him so energised. She was really starting to struggle and James had to let go as she was slowing him down. Fiona was feeling tired which was unusual for her. She saw that James was getting further away and so started to run after him. He wouldn’t be hard to find, the streets were so empty these days.

The sun was setting and the sky towards St. Pauls was a fiery red. Fiona could just make out the Tower to the east, its dark shape still visible in the ensuing darkness. Fiona slowed down. She knew that they were getting closer to the river but had now lost sight of James.

James was still running with his head looking towards the sky even though he had long since lost sight of the fiery trail he had spotted in the sky. He had to slow down as the darkening day made footing treacherous and he knew the Thames was near. He stopped for a moment and thought he heard a splash. God, he hoped that it wasn’t the object from the sky falling in the river. How would he retrieve it then. He paused, realising that he was alone. He listened for Fiona but heard nothing. The city had become deathly quiet over the last year. Those in power had left, desperate to escape the deaths, only to return earlier in the year but the deaths continued.

Fiona saw a shape up ahead. As she got closer, she saw that it was James. He was standing at the bank of the river, head bowed. Fiona rested her hand on his shoulder making him jump.

“I wondered where you had gotten too, you’re slow today” he teased.

“I’m just a little tired” replied Fiona.
James pointed at the river.
“It fell in the water” he said, then turned his back on the river, a look of disappointment on his face.
Fiona looked to where he had pointed. She could not see anything other then the surface of the river. Her eyes were beginning to water from the foul stench that seemed to reach out from the mighty river. She blinked away her tears, and then blinked again.

“Did you see that?” Fiona asked.

“See what?”

“I thought I saw a ripple on the surface” said Fiona.

James looked back at the surface. It was hard to see in the gloom but he thought he saw something. He held his breath, hoping he wasn’t letting his imagination get the better of him but then something emerged from below the surface. James felt himself torn between keeping an eye on the object and looking around for something he could use in order to fish it out. Fiona could sense his turmoil and looked around for something that might be of use. There were a few pieces of wood that when tied together would be able to reach the object but something was needed to bring it to shore. Then she saw something that would be suitable, a rusted piece of metal. She pulled it free from the loose stones that had hidden it.

“Do you have anything to tie the wood together?” Fiona asked.

James took a moment to look round and saw what Fiona had gathered. He smiled, grateful that he had such a wonderful friend. Sometimes she seemed as if she could read his thoughts. He rummaged round in his pockets and pulled out a small piece of twine. He passed it to Fiona and turned back towards the floating object.

Fiona had used all the twine but the grabber was too short still. They did not want to step into the Thames. Fiona was amazed that James had not taken his gaze from the object. Fiona had been grateful to escape the foul smelling river; she had already vomited several times as she looked for bits and pieces for the grabber. She massaged the back of her neck. That was odd, thought Fiona as she felt a small lump there. She had a horrifying thought. She had succumbed to the Black Death. A tear welled up and the rolled down her cheek, who would look after James now? she wondered. She took a deep breath and walked into the water. James heard the splash and spun around with a look of horror on his face as he realized what Fiona was doing. Using the makeshift grabber, she managed to retrieve the object.

When she emerged from the water, James didn’t know whether to scold her or kiss her. As he moved towards her, he smelled to the stench and decided that the former would have to do, but he just couldn’t keep the smile from his face. He gave her a hand to grasp as she stepped out of the river. She handed him his prize, it was spherical and in need of a clean. James removed a kerchief from his pocket and got to work at cleaning the object. It seemed to be covered in a crust. Some of it had burned away and in places, James could see a smooth surface beneath. He picked at the stone like crust. It came off relatively easily and soon, James was holding an almost smooth sphere. It was a dull metallic grey colour that was slightly bigger than his hand. It felt heavy and as he rolled it in his hand, he felt as if there was something inside but he did not know what. He looked for any signs of a way to open it but couldn’t find any.

Darkness had descended completely when James finally gave up and placed the sphere on the ground beside him. He looked at Fiona, who had fallen asleep while he was playing with his new toy. He stood up and walked towards her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. Fiona stirred. She felt an ache that seemed to envelop her entire body but she smiled as she saw James peering down at her. He helped her to her feet and handed the sphere to her. As her hand touched it, the sphere began to heat up. She was grateful for the warmth it provided but then it opened and a wisp of green vapour escaped. Unable to turn her head away quickly enough, Fiona inhaled the gaseous content. She dropped the sphere as she felt that her insides had just burst into flames. She felt a pain so intense and unlike anything she had encountered before. She had to get away. If this was the plague and something else, she had to keep James safe. She ran.

Fiona felt as if she was on fire. But fearing that she may infect James, she ran with a renewed energy. As she ran, she felt her strength returning but with her new found energy came another strange feeling. No, it was stronger than that, it was a craving.

James started after Fiona. She was out of sight already. The darkness engulfed her. James ran in the direction that he last saw Fiona but he stopped occasionally to see if he could hear her. When he heard to footsteps, he raced towards the sound. But it wasn’t long before he lost track of her completely. It was then that he realised that he had left the object back near the Thames where Fiona had dropped it. He was about to go back for it when he heard a scream.

It seemed to be coming from a street up ahead. James ran towards the sound. He turned the corner and stopped dead. James looked up into a wall of smoke. His breath caught in his throat, He removed a handkerchief from his pocket and covered his mouth and walked to where the screaming was coming from. As he passed, he saw people start to escape from their houses. He had to be careful not to be knocked over. He kept going and going. The sound of panicked Londoners drowned out the initial scream. More people were rushing past, like rats deserting a sinking ship. James stepped into a doorway and let the rush of people pass. He wondered why no one had emerged from this house. He turned and saw the mark on the door and realised that the occupants wouldn’t leave alive. The street was quiet once more and James walked past the houses. The smell of burning was pungent even beyond the handkerchief. Then he heard the scream once more. Only this time it sounded different. James saw a house ahead that was barely aflame and the sounds seemed top be emanating from there. He walked toward the door and stepped in.

James pulled the sleeves of his shirt down to give his hands some protection from the heat. He could no longer hear any screaming and so he had to search the house. He could find no trace of anyone on the lower floor and looked at the stairs.

James looked around for anything he could us to dowse any flames he would find but found nothing but rags. He grabbed the biggest pieces and wrapped his hands in them and headed up the stairs. The first room he entered was empty but there was a bed that looked as if someone had been sleeping there recently. He patted out a few flames that were burning the curtains and left the room, closing the door behinds him. He opened the next room and what he saw chilled his blood.

On the floor was a small child, lying in a pool of dark red blood. Then James heard a strange squelching sound. A figure was kneeling on the ground cradling the body of a bigger figure, the child’s parent perhaps, thought James. Then his world collapsed. Looking up at him was Fiona. Only it wasn’t Fiona, she looked different and it wasn’t the blood dripping from her mouth. Her eyes had lost the sparkle of life and looked back with barely a hint of recognition. James felt a numbing coldness around his heart. What had he done? What had he unleashed from that fallen entity. He had to get out of there.

Fiona let the lifeless body fall from her lap as she rose. She had feasted on brain and was now hungry for more and she knew this human would have a tasty brain indeed.

James ran to the stairs but tripped and fell. He cracked his head badly on one of the stairs and the house disappeared around him as he fell into unconsciousness. Fiona followed him down the stairs and sat down on the floor gently resting his head in her lap. The hunger was almost uncontrollable now but she did not deliver the killing bite. She turned her head and noticed that a burning ember had taken hold and that one side of the house was catching alight. She would need to leave soon. But she did not move.

A tear rolled down her cheek as she tasted James’ brain and did not move even as the flames engulfed her…

THE END (of Past Story)