By Nick Zarayna:
Some fear is good, some is not. Some fear is purgative, some so pollutive. I don’t know which one my current emotion.
Let me explain. Do you ever have that feeling that there’s something really big and really terrifying just out of your eye-range? Yeah. Let’s add a twist. You don’t know what it is. You don’t know if it will hurt you or help you, love you or hate you.
It’s going to hurt you! That’s what everything says. Everything, that is, except for something deep inside you that tells you maybe things aren’t so bad. Maybe this thing is really here to give you a hand. It’s just big because, well, that’s how it is. I’m not big, that’s just the way I am: a scrawny kid in a torn aketon, the gashes in my only armor colored with blood. My spear? Broke a while back. My shield didn’t exist. All I have is a knife. Against something that big, I don’t know what it is.
It’s not my fault, maybe. Who drafts a stableboy into battle and then expects him to die like a knight? Maybe a knight would be lying in this fright, hiding around a corner of the keep, too scared to look at the thing. It wouldn’t be so bad if I could see it. But I can only hear it. Are the sounds familiar or alien? The jingle of equipment could be anyone’s.
Maybe it’ll just go away. There are plenty of other corpses for it to loot. The castle has fallen. There really isn’t any hope left. I just want to die, but my wounds aren’t that bad.
Should I move? Maybe, maybe not. It’s deathly quiet, and my legs are covered by a corpse. I shudder a little, glad its face isn’t looking at me. I don’t need another reminder of my probable future. Maybe, maybe I can inch out slow enough. The noise around the corner is louder; is the thing looting bodies now? I wish it would pick a better place.
I pull my legs towards me and stand up.
Bad move. I didn’t realize I was dealing with a leg wound. Or that the corpse that pinned me had a loose helmet. The iron cap clatters away even as I bend over with a suppressed gasp, clutching at my leg. The thing is silent.
Oh God. He’s seen me. Oh St Micheal he’s heard me!
Footsteps approach. The thing I only heard for so long is looking at me. I stumble back into a wall, looking at it with my frightened eyes.
Him rather. The old, battlesoiled knight is definitely not an it. My eyes are fixated on his chest, where my master’s coat of arms is blazon.
One fear less for me.
What is it about the dark that gives me chills throughout my skin? My
breathing increases and I become more sensitive to sounds. I hear them
all bouncing off of the walls. A twig breaks, the wind howls, my
footsteps sound like lead with a “thump, scrit, scratch.” I never
noticed anything like that before. The pale moonlight makes it so
difficult to navigate. Is that a snake or a branch down the path?
Perhaps it’s just a crack in the walkway? That’s when the explosion
Well, that is to say it sounded like an explosion. It’s true that
there was no fantastic display of light and fire. No, that would have
been much too calming for me. Instead there was this loud booming going
about. It was like thunder without lightning. Instead of a brilliant,
illuminating flash to lull my curiosity and suspicion, instead I am left
totally in the dark, forever guessing as to what it was I had heard.
Perhaps it was a gunshot? Was it slab of marble hitting the sidewalk two
blocks down? Maybe it was a monster. Perhaps it was just my imagination
or maybe it was something strange and unnatural that could never be
explained. All of these thoughts ran through my head as I continued to
walk, looking over my shoulder from time to time to be sure I wasn’t
It’s not that I’m a member of the mafia; dropping some money in an
isolated spot in return for the services of another organization.
Heavens, no! I could never handle that kind of stress. I simply hate to
be followed when I’m on a quest for solitude. Unwanted companions are
the only thing that could ruin my journey this night. That’s why I’m
wearing black. Black pants, shoes, a long onyx coat and a fedora over my
head and black gloves. It’s cold outside in January, so I have reason
to bundle myself up without looking too suspicious. Actually, I’d prefer
not to be seen at all if it could be helped.
The fear of my own mortality calls out to me in so many ways now. I
suppose that’s to be expected, though. The trees are all barren here
looking beyond comatose. The smell of the decay of leaves wafts through
the air along with a light fog that looms past the pail light of the
moon. It seems almost peaceful in a way, really. Ah, here’s my
That night, a man in black laid a bouquet of flowers down on a grave that read;
Caring Wife, Devoted Friend, Loving mother”
BONUS Theme: Game Over
“The true culprit… is you!”
The man pointed his index finger at the culprit. Why was the man pointing the finger at the culprit?
It was because of the picture on the floor. Shards of broken glass
lay scattered around a golden frame that was now facing down. The
picture, which was slightly torn here and there, depicted a lovely
elderly woman smiling at the camera.
Why was the picture on the floor? It was because it had been knocked
down from the mantle. The mantle had a few knickknacks such as
decorative china and family group shots.
Why was it knocked down on the mantle? It was because that was where
the murder weapon had been taken. The shining, golden sword was taken
from its perch above the mantle and was stabbed through the back of the
Who was murdered? That would be the butler of the manor; one Gerald
Moris. He’d worked for the family for some forty years now. His hair was
grey and he kept himself well. Even his fallen position on the floor
looked dignified and proper.
Why was Gerald Moris killed? It was because of the small trinket that
had been around his neck. It is true that such a thing was not there
now, however it was clear there was the mark of a chain that had been
pulled until it had broken. Small, beaded marks could be seen. It was
likely the chain put up a valiant fight before it had been removed.
Where was the trinket now? It was in the hands of the daughter of the
late Lady Lavender. She had been an heiress to a great fortune left by
her ancestors long passed. The entire family seemed high-brow, and the
middle-aged woman who was Lady Lavender’s daughter resembled that fact.
Her hair was dyed to a perfect hue of chocolate brown and she wore a
brooch as green as emerald. A diamond ring lay upon her finger.
Who had given her the ring? That would be the culprit. Yes, the
culprit who had wanted justice. The estate was to be handed over to the
late Gerald Moris; the witness to the late Lady Lavender’s will. The
culprit believed that she had been threatened, had been tricked. Such a
thing would not; could not be tolerated.
With a sigh, the culprit fought hard, but he had been caught. In the
end, he handed over a small bottle on a silver chain. What had been in
the bottle? It was the poison that had killed the late Lady Lavender.