Swamp Thing

There’s a certain stench that accompanies stagnant water. Waters that have risen and fallen with the same stretch of green floating across the top. With the same moss hanging off the trees. With the same plants rooted in the muck. There’s a certain stench to swamp water—waters that don’t churn very often.

And the stench is horrendous.

Uncomfortable.

I claws up, into your nose, whether you like it or not, and it tends to linger long after you’ve left the swamp. In the smell, you can sense the old age of the water, the different types of mold that creeps along tree roots, the green muck that adorns the backs of the gators you pass by—their beady eyes lit up in the light of my lamp, glowing like dying coals.

Swamps, to put it nicely, are disgusting. Places to go and stay stagnant. Places to be when one wants to smell what dying is like. Places that have nothing new to offer.

Places that hold old, old waters.

And the old beasts that come with them.

Continue reading “Swamp Thing”

Dark Horse

They say he means death.

That seeing him ends your life. Or means that you’re going to die very, very soon. If you can hear his gallop, or can see his silhouette, it’s best if you get your affairs in order.

That’s what I’ve heard.

The tales they’ve always told about the black horse. The one that vanishes before dawn. He has no rider, and they say its because he’s only an omen. Only a warning.

He comes back later, they say.

Rider on his back.

And, guess who they say his rider is.

Guess who they say he belongs to.

Continue reading “Dark Horse”

Rise Again

For a while, I believed I was forgotten. That my skill and my hammer and my forge were all lost, somewhere beyond myths and legends. Dark in the minds of man. For a while, I believed that they’d stopped telling the tale. Stopped speaking of my works. For a while, I thought I’d never have another visitor.

And then, he showed up.

Him.

And when he walked into my forge, he knew where he was going. What he was doing. I realized then that it wasn’t a matter of being forgotten, but, rather, a matter of being feared.

Why else would you memorize a land not of your own?

For the sake of keeping your head, yes?

As he approached my forge, his eyes shifted around the room. Cataloguing everything in sight. Ready for something to pounce, to jump at him. To make an attempt on his life.

He walked into my forge—my home—fearful.

Terrified.

Determined, and yet:

Very much afraid.

…good.

At least they’ve got that much right.

My works are nothing to scoff at. My hands building only the finest of beasts. My forge brutal, a fire that shows no mercy.

Mercy makes for weak metal, anyway.

For making creatures that are not-quite-so-mythical beasts.

There is no room for a cool fire.

Not in my forge.

He walked in, afraid, and yet…

He knew exactly what he wanted.

Though I don’t think he realized what kind of hell I’d have to make first, in order for him to get it.

Ha.

Foolish mortals. Continue reading “Rise Again”

King of Crows

There is a tale I’ve heard told about an ancient king. Glendower, the Raven King. He sleeps in the forest somewhere, or so I’ve heard. Waiting for the waker—waiting to join us, the living, once again. Somewhere, Glendower sleeps, dreaming of the day he will be woken. Eager to walk through his lands once again.

Eager to grant the waker a wish.

That’s the tale I’ve heard told.

The tale of The Raven King.

A magical king. A wish-granter. A sleeper whose quiet breaths are full of life.

I’ve heard the tale of that king. Heard it several times, actually.

But…

There’s more to the story than what there appears.

You see, I believe that something isn’t adding up.

There are… things… that can’t be explained by that tale.

Things that we, the listeners, have screwed up.

Things that we got wrong. Continue reading “King of Crows”

Faint of Heart

“It’s… eerie.”

Fog coated the ground, oozing from some unseen place. Skirting along our feet as it snaked its way over the dead, dry ground. Souring the earth further with its muggy breath, leaving a chill to nip at my spine as leisurely as it pleased.

I hated it.

Honestly, I did.

This place…

You could hear something in the air. Whispering to you. Or maybe it was something yelling. Screaming. I couldn’t be sure. It was just a whimper of a sound, nothing more. Skating by my ear so quickly, so quietly, that I couldn’t be sure what it was.

Except:

It sounded pained.

Agonized.

The trees here were decrepit. Creepy. All gnarled, knobby branches. Naked and lifeless. Dragging their twigs across the air like tiny, desperate, old hands. Clawing their way out of the bark—

It was eerie.

Very eerie, indeed.

At my remark, The Master scoffed. His glowing purple eyes were hard to decipher usually, but, in that moment, I saw something clearly within them.

Doubt.

“If you find this eerie, you’re going to want to stop now. There isn’t a single thing about what I do that isn’t eerie, creepy, or grotesque. You might as well quit while you’re ahead.”

But…

I didn’t.

Instead, I straightened my shoulders. Ignored the voices. Got a firmer grip on the bag I carried.

And followed The Master into The Grave. Continue reading “Faint of Heart”

Between the Tides

“Well… since you’ve come this far, I’ll let you inside—but don’t touch anything.”

“Uh, okay,” I replied.

“Not ‘okay’. You say ‘yes’ like you mean it.”

“Yes!”

Huffing, the guy turned and walked back into the cottage. Not even bothering to make sure I was following.

I was.

“Shut the door on your way in,” he called over his shoulder, moving down a flight of steps.

I could feel it.

My nerves were bubbling. Oozing. All my veins were dancing, jittering against my bones.

All my life I’d waited for this. Looked for it. Sought after it.

And now?

Now…

I was finally here.

The Ocean Library. Continue reading “Between the Tides”

One Raging Lion

He was older when I took his pelt.

That’s why it was an easy kill. Why tearing his jaw off wasn’t as hard as it should’ve been. In that moment, I wasn’t akin to Hercules, not like I wanted to be. Instead, I was only proving that I was a brute. Strong, yes.

But not like a god.

Not like the son of a god.

Not yet.

People stopped believing in the beasts forever ago. Lost faith in the lore. Took to science, to thinking that superpowers were a thing of biology. Left mythics behind. Left it to crumble, to rot. Do whatever it was that old, abandoned things had to do in order to cease.

But.

They were fools.

In their lack of understanding—their strive for solid, concrete knowledge—they cut themselves off at the knees. Made themselves weak. Turned off a faucet that granted power, that granted real, true understanding.

Fools.

But, not me.

Not me.

When I killed the lion, I still had to rip the fur off his body. Still had to skin him. Still had to prove I had enough strength to pull even the invincible apart.

On that day, my proving began.

And it continues.

Even now, it continues. Continue reading “One Raging Lion”

Consequences

Whiskey burns the back of my throat as I exhale, settling my gaze on the placid man before me.

A shadow of what he was before.

Because, before, he had light. Had life. Something to look forward to. Something to hold on to. Back then, he thought he was tough-shit. Thought he was the bee’s knees. The cat’s meow. Thought he was something better than the rest of us, stepping on anyone and everyone to get his way. Rabidly pursuing any who thought differently, who dared to try and make him face fact.

Before, he was confident.

Stood proud. Stood tall.

But, now…

Now?

Now he cowers, a glare dying in the corner of his eye. Weak, because he knows.

I am the one who snuffed that light.

The one he should’ve left alone.

The one creature that he wasn’t tougher than.

I was the one who showed him that he wasn’t anything special. That he was no bigger than a sneeze. And, I’ll be the one to seal his fate, too.

To steal the son. Continue reading “Consequences”

Marvel

I hear your name, whispered against the dark waning moon.

It calls to me.

Spurs me onward, encourages me.

I dive in.

That swirling abyss that brings me to stars. That brings nebulas to their knees. That cracks the very foundation of Jupiter, itself.

I dive into that darkness. That depth.

And I expect to see nothing.

Nothing but you. Continue reading “Marvel”

Armored Dragon

“You could be brave.”

“I could be.”

“You could be strong.”

“I could be.”

“And you could be the champion.”

“I could be the champion.”

“So then… why not?”

I can’t help but laugh a little at how incredulous he sounds. How perplexed. It would make no sense to him, being a former champion and all, but:

It makes sense to me.

Turning from the ring of fighters, I walk away as I tell him.

“Not all things that could, should.”

Besides.

I have better things to do than win titles.

I have a king to slay. Continue reading “Armored Dragon”