Abaak Lajjad

The form sat partially obscured by the mismatched building edges on the store fronts of South Fork’s downtown area. He was caught between the bakery and the theatre. He was a relatively new fixture in this town of just a little more than five thousand. His hands, folded on his bent knees were red from the elements, flaked with weariness. On his feet were dingy sneakers and were the only thing that said he was of this world. The rest of him was covered with a burlap-looking, dark brown body-length robe, including a hood that only let his chest-length, gray but streaked with street crud beard show. Many passersby had visions of a medieval friar when they saw this homeless soul.

Demeter's Corpusules - by Jackie Fedyk

Demeter’s Corpusules – by Jackie Fedyk

He rarely looked up at those who were trying their best to ignore this creature crouched on the street. However, when he did, you could have sworn his eyes were rust. Not brown. Not red, but the same kind of rust on your uncle’s 1976 Caprice Classic left out and abandoned in too many Detroit winters.

When the streets were empty except for leaves being blown by the gusts into a devil’s whirlwind, he would slowly rise. He would walk around the back of the shops and see what sustenance he could find in the dumpsters and trash cans, his hands not ever losing their red tinge. The things he picked from the trash were not always easily identifiable as food. If you watched closely you might see him gnawing on bones and discarding the seemingly more satisfying flesh. At moments he moved so quickly, you’d have thought you’d mysteriously missed whole moments of time. He would lick on broken bar glasses and suck on pieces fractured plates. If an alley cat or rebel raccoon competed for treasures in the rubbish, the cloaked vagabond would hiss with a level of hatred only hell beasts are capable of producing. For that brave living thing which resisted the hissing and secondary swatting from the cloaked figure, would surely incur a fatal swipe from his one long gray thumb nail on the cloaked figure’s main hand. If you were the spider above the doorway where this creature’s shadow crouched out of the inevitable Pacific Northwest rain, you would know that the blood of those rebellious vermin was his wine.

On this particular night, a young buck police officer saw the hooded figure behind the bakery. The rain poured, muting out the sound of the unlucky rat that tried to bite the unfortunate man the cop observed on the street. The officer watched, but his thoughts kept telling him to leave well enough alone. It was more work to incarcerate this man than to leave him be.

Although another thought battled inside his mind, saying that what he saw was not quite right. He could not really see clear to a reason that he should act. As he drove away, however, he could have sworn that those eyes below the hood were not merely rust, but radiating.

A simple whisper, “Abaak Lajjad,” would be the only thing that the spider in the doorway’s corner would hear before it also was captured and swallowed into the wide mouth full of too-long teeth shadowed beneath the brown cloak.

Casondra Brewster is a writer, editor, literary teacher and mentor, as well as the founder of SnoValley Writes! She hopes one day to make the valley more famous than Forks, Wash.

Excerpt from SECOND THOUGHT. Published with Permission. Find out more about Casondra Brewster. This excerpt and other writings available in literary journal FALL INTO STORY.

Please Don’t Lock Us Away Again

Please Don’t Lock us Away Againplease-dont-lock-us-away

Here in the dark

Since who knows when

Lid closed tight

Tucked securely in

Wrapped in tissue

To keep us free of dust

It mint condition

Not mussed or fussed

Day after day together inside

You couldn’t possibly imagine our vicious fights

I’m enclosed with an absolute fiend

My dear evil sister can be so very mean

Now that you’ve opened our nightmarish sarcophagus

There shall be no way of stopping us

We will rule the demented world of men

No please we beg you

Don’t lock us away again…

Excerpt from ALLEGORY OF THE DOLLS by Jackie Fedyk  Published with permission.   Learn More about Jackie Fedyk, Featured Author

Photo Credit: Jackie Fedyk

Secret Order of the Overworld

The time came for Majeska to go. The Brothers were to send her in their traditional way to the Void. They didn’t explain how they could do this without a Catalyst Block, but Majeska was to stand outside in their courtyard, face west, close her eyes and meditate. After a gracious farewell, she had once again been asked not to speak. She hugged the decoy SOotO Front Cover Finalbook and thought of the other book she was leaving behind.

She felt a subtle shift as she was transported—a slight difference of quality to the air as she opened her eyes to the familiar open plain of the Void. There was no apparent change in the light. The noonday sun of the desert gave way to the forever-noon and open expanse of grass in this timeless, in-between place. She absently pushed the remaining booklet inside her tunic.

It’s intriguing that the Brothers have a link here. It’s said they’re charged to remove the bodies of the many men who perish on their journeys from Underneath. And it would be a problem if they were just left here, but how do they know they’re here, and why aren’t they charged to remove them before they die? So many questions and so few answers. I really thought I was going to get direction from the desert colony, not just sent to the land of the lost. With a sigh, she hoped they would call on her very soon.

Majeska turned toward the only visible feature interrupting the green of the grass and blue of the sky—the mountains. As she walked toward them and came over a small rise, the massive Catalyst Block appeared and grew before her as she continued forward. She became anxious at the greeting she would receive from Gabrell at her return. No doubt he would scold her for putting herself in danger and for leaving him alone. Of course he would be relieved, but she knew only too well the agitation that mounting worry created, and she knew she would be the target of its release before he could relax and embrace her. By the time she reached the enormous dark mass, she was sweating and parched with thirst. The booklet chafed against her skin—not so soft as the other had been. Majeska leaned against the Block and hesitated there. The life-like warmth of the Catalyst’s surface soothed her, quieting her mind.

Yes, of course, there is an order to all things. I’m glad it’s not all up to me. I wish that I was returning with the answers, but I guess I’m returning with new hope.

Excerpt by Kennedy J. Quinn  Published with permission

NEW RELEASE! SECRET ORDER OF THE OVERWORLD. Find out more about Kennedy J. Quinn

Mistress of the Dancing Bones

Francois appeared to Ashia’s right and slashed his dagger at one of the spears. The metal tip flew off. Then he was gone. He reappeared at her left and thrust his dagger through an opening. It bit at her side and she hissed in pain. Gripping thedancing-bones-cover wound, she spun around to face left but she knew he wouldn’t strike there again. Ashia thrust her spears behind her, trying to catch him, but true to her father’s training, Francois was adapting to her already.

Francois appeared crouched down at Ashia’s feet right in front of her and swept her feet. She tumbled down to the ground on her side, the one that was already bleeding and it sent an intense jolt of pain through her body. Ashia again tried to blow Francois back, but he rammed both blades into the ground and held onto them tight. Though his body lurched back, she couldn’t quite shake him loose.  Once her blast ended, he leapt back to his feet and landed on top of her with his blades crossed at her neck.

“Surrender or die!” Francois shouted to her playfully.

The crowd groaned in fear for their favorite Ashia. She just smiled. “Never!” Her lifeforce was already sinking into Francois draining his life force. She had a good reserve she was building already from him. Now with him so close, her lines were weaving into him everywhere. She slowly pushed his arms up away from her and towards his own neck. His brows furrowed as he fought back against her. His strength was formidable, but ever so slowly she was winning out.

Francois backed away from Ashia and she leapt up to the balls of her feet. “What are you doing?” he asked in a strained voice.

“Trying to win!” Ashia said with a smile. As he backed away, her control weakened, and within a moment, he pushed his arms out in front of him. She still couldn’t maintain such tight control for long at a distance.

He stood back up, but stumbled as he did. He was starting to feel the lifedrain. Francois shook himself to clear his mind and focus. Ashia backed up and gathered her scattered weaponry to her. They spun around her again in a tight formation as she watched his face for any slight betrayal of his next move.

He was learning quickly. Francois’s face betrayed nothing. His body tensed and he seemed about to flicker away, when Camille spoke.

“Enough!” she said in a quivering tone Ashia had never heard come from her lips. “I’ve seen enough!” Her hands ran through her hair and she looked away, her eyes scoured over everything other than Ashia.

They settled on Etienne. “What did you do to my daughter?” she asked, though she and Ashia were not technically related.

Etienne said dryly, “I stepped out of her way.”

Camille’s heels echoed through the silent courtyard as she approached, visibly shaken.

“I came here to collect a wayward child and I find… this,” Camille said.

Excerpt by Thomas Alexander – Featured with permission

NEW RELEASE! MISTRESS OF THE DANCING BONES – See More About Thomas Alexander

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