Beyond the Places We Dream

Courtesy Ameer Basheer Unsplash.com
Courtesy Ameer Basheer Unsplash.com

The lure of the darkness draws this moth to its moonlight eclipse. There is no room for silver in a shadow’s imagination. There is no need for light where I must travel.

The caverns ring with the sounds of the damned and their children: Is this the silence she promised? I think not.

Onwards, I press. Deeper, I probe.
She sits on an obsidian throne, shrouded by glimmering mists. Like a Black Widow on her web.

“You came,” she coerces.

“How could I not?”

There is a dream beyond the wild places, beyond the oceans, the dead, and their dreams. There, I sit beside an eternal, praying for endings, but living the dream. The question is as it always was: Whose?


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

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The Shivering

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash
Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

The shiver began at his navel and radiated out like a pebble tossed in a pond. Uneasy sensations swept through the boy’s torso, down his limbs to tingle his fingertips, rattle his teeth, curl his toes. Just when he thought there was nowhere else to go, the shiver shook the earth at his feet, shattering a rock as though crystal and dislodging several worms.
“Am I dead?” he asked no one in particular.
“No.” The voice came as even more of a shock than his shivering, which for now had departed.
“Then what?” he asked, undeterred.
“You are changing. You are… how does one put it politely, on the move.”
The boy hung his head as though ashamed, seeing his shiver had cracked open the ground, into which he descended. This was not a plummet by any means, rather, a falling leaf caught by a breeze.
He watched as the light of the sun he’d grown so used to shrank back into a pinprick star. This, too, soon vanished, leaving him all alone in a smothering darkness. Every sensation of movement had gone.
The boy imagined himself to have fallen asleep because he woke to a fog and his shivering having returned tenfold. His arms shook like a hummingbird’s wings. His head vibrated like a shaken cocktail mixer. A grey gloom pulsed around him as if to help, like the sponge packing around a box containing a priceless vase.
“All out of questions?” came the voice again. Definitely female, and smooth as velvet, it coerced the boy with uncomplicated kindnesses.
“No.”
“Not a one? You are an unusual young man! Most of your kind are so flummoxed all they can do is ask questions. Most of which I cannot answer,” she added, as an afterthought.
The boy placed a hand on his tummy. He grimaced and chewed his lip.
“Sure?” The voice was almost in his ear. “It is my burden to explain the unexplainable.”
“Well, I suppose there’s one thing.”
“Anything, dear boy. You shall have an eternity to dwell upon the answer, as has all mankind. For no one, not one soul, enters the realm above or below without first passing through purgatory. You might as well ask something to tide you over until you’re judged.”
The boy felt a stale wind assail his nostrils, heard the smacking of lips. It sparked something he just had to know.
“Tell me, Death, if that is who you are, was it the kippers or the eggs?”


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Compunction

Courtesy Sharon McCutcheon Unsplash.com
Courtesy Sharon McCutcheon Unsplash.com

Author’s Note: Corrine and the narrator here are current characters in progress for my next body of work. I hope you enjoy


I have no compunction to acquiesce to her wishes. Despite the provocation, I still love her. It is a dilemma.
The night surges around me like a redundant coal mine, the memories of such excavations as to tire an army of dwarves recalled, but discarded. It closes in. I am surrounded.
Her eyes appear first, always her eyes, flashing from this false midnight like two black holes. They hover, darker than dark, drawing in those vestiges of light surface dwellers take for granted, gorging. I would have them gorge on me, too, but have not the energy to ask.
Corrine has a flair for the dramatic, always had, in both life and death. She whispers sweet promises, offers life eternal, a never-ending dream, but is this not what God promises, too? Whether corporeal or incorporeal, one exists. The only decision to make, one unfortunately decided whilst the former presides, is where.
This deep darkness pools like a subterranean sea, tugs with a relentless persistence, one which wears. I capitulate. Corrine wins.
She is here, everywhere. I breathe her, filling my lungs with sorrow. She circulates my system, sluggish in blood made unctuous, taking a slow perusal of all I have to offer. I have nothing to offer, but it still takes time.
When I wake, it is to her raven self. She looms over me in a burgundy chamber, lit by a single black candle with a putrescent flame.
“Make it easier on yourself,” she coos, like a demented dove.
“No.”
“I ask nothing.”
“You ask everything.”
“I could take it.”
“No, my once darling, you cannot.”
I lay for interminable aeons debating this simple truth, as the cosmos unfolds around me, suns blinking in and out of view, universes unfolding like paper swans set loose in time’s ocean. She thinks it will break me, but it only strengthens my resolve. She should never have awoken me.
Corrine enters my perfect prison with a cup of cold water. Condensation drips down the glass like diamonds-made-emeralds in the unnatural light.
“Drink,” she says.
“I’d rather watch it.”
“You never gain anything by watching.”
“No, you gain everything.”
She throws the glass to the floor, but it fails to smash or spill a drop. It is as illusory as she, yet more substantial than ever I’ve been.
Light arrives in the form of a tangerine dawn. I soak up every vitamin, savour every second. There is something about a sparkling new day that transcends description. One must feel it, taste it, love it like there’ll never be another.
She is here.
Corrine snatches the memory from my thoughts and swallows it whole. A slug-like tongue circles her lips as if to ensure every atom sampled. She laughs the laugh of the lost, this demoness. She glares, flares twinned supernovas and is gone.
It takes time for reality to realign.
I climb from bed as though it just another day, throw aside the curtains to the orange skies of my dream.
The sun sits amongst them. It is black.


Love cannot be taken, nor shared unwillingly, nor even explained. One might see it and snatch it momentarily, nothing more. My love for the dawn was not my love for her, if ever it was love at all.


I resist the temptation to sleep this moonless evening. “Not tonight,” I say, as the devil tucks this damaged soul into bed. “I have no compunction to acquiesce to your wishes.” I haven’t. No, I haven’t. 
But I have.

The End.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Richard M. Ankers
Author of the brand new steampunk extravaganza Britannia Unleashed.

Another Dawn

Another Dawn by Richard M. Ankers

A thin veil of mist delays the dawn. The stars sense it, blazing a trillion semi-permanent goodbyes. Glitter applied to the night, a decorative destiny, the bats fly higher as the swallows awaken, but neither feels fulfilled. A familiar feeling, one I’ve known far too long.


I love these moments, these hints of the beyond. My own private purgatory without having to suffer the indignity of demise, I inhale the damp air, laugh as it laps at my lungs, imagine the soil above me. Somewhere, a barren soul remains as arid as ever.


The spiders have the right idea, hanging their nets to capture the moment. They toil in relentless circles, the dew doing nothing to dampen their spirits. If spiders have spirits, that is? I really ought to know.


A blood-red sun emerges like a sliced tomato atop a decaying salad. This distant giant pulses through the clouds, pours through the mists and fruits in tangerine as a dispelled dawn. My grey nowhere is gone.


I hide in the shadow of an ancient oak. Well, ancient compared to most, anyway. Here, where night’s shawl lingers in a cool kiss, I observe the sparkling gold between the leaves. Like drifting embers, I think. Like the world’s burning. But burning isn’t my job. Never has been. That’s for someone else entirely.


The first arrives later than usual after most people have had their coffees and lunch. She is followed by more, a steady procession of once life. I greet them with a sickle smile and a hollow hello. This is the best I can muster. I try, though. Really, I do.


The rest of the daylight hours are busy, bordering on suicidal. I manage them as I always have, with grim determination.


There is no respite at night, if anything, it’s worse. It’s like they await obsidian in the same way I do grey, intensifying their efforts at self-persecution, war, murder, capitulation. But who am I to judge, as that’s the job of another. Who am I? Yet, I do. This is what they’ve made me. Me! This is what I’ve become.


Dawn, and all is still. I breathe in every peaceful moment whilst the night dwellers tuck themselves in to sleep and the day roamers rub their eyes. I wish I could stay here forever, stood between the sun and the stars.


The tears pool in my amphitheatre caverns.


I am the one you all must meet. I am the darkness glimpsed through the mist. If you hear me, you’re elsewhere. If you see me, you’ve arrived. I will welcome you as best I can, but the truth is, I couldn’t care less.

Yours forever.
Death.


Thank you for reading

Richard

Noctivagant Press

Today, I’m pleased to introduce you to a new UK Fantasy Magazine named Noctivagant Press. Here’s a little of what they’re about.


Noctivagant (adj)  That wanders or roams about at night.

Oxford English Dictionary

Noctivagant Press is a quarterly online fantasy magazine dedicated to the world of the fantastical. We want to escape the ‘real’ and go into the dark to travel beyond the veil, landing in your imaginary worlds. You can take us there with your prose, poetry and visual art. 

Themes we love, but not limited to: trees, magic – both dark and light, portals, dragons, fairies, monsters, hidden worlds, colours, stone circles, myths, legends, enchanted woodlands, mountains, magical plants, the sky and the stars, horror (with fantasy), will-o’-the-wisp, barrows, curses and re-imagined folklore/tales.


As a writer of speculative fiction, I don’t often get the opportunity to have work published in my own country, so Noctivagant is a breath of fresh air. My short story ‘Ancient in Ultramarine‘ is included in their premier issue.

I hope anyone with an interest in the above gets the opportunity to read some of the great work – I’ve seen it and it is – because every story deserves to be read. Please help spread the word.

Thank you for reading and see the link below for more information.

Find Noctivagant here.

Thanks again

Richard

Celestia

Photo by karen kayser on Unsplash

Celestia

She went unseen for the longest time like a black hole traversing the night. A girl with twinkling, fibrous hair so delicate as to rival the stars, she crept in through my window and sat cross-legged on the carpet. There she remained just staring at my bedside table, as I, in turn, stared back.

If she meant me harm, I did not sense it. If she meant to pry, her eyes betrayed her. She wept, you see, like a little lost kitten, and I shared her sorrow completely.

The celestial girl stayed for hours. Not until the moon dipped below the windowsill and the stars popped out of existence, stolen away by the incoming dawn, did she climb from my window. One brief glance back was all she left and a trembling, translucent hand.

I removed our family photograph after that. I hid it in a box on an unused shelf in the least used part of the garage. Celestia, the lonely stranger, never returned, and it would have broken my heart to go looking.

The End.