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.
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.
It sounded pained.
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.
“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.”
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”
It wasn’t safe.
It had never been safe.
As I stare at the climbing trees and listen to the birds toss their remarks back and forth, I realize that.
It’s never been safe here.
And, honestly, I think I knew that all along. Because, really:
This is a jungle, after all.
A burning jungle. Continue reading “Burning Jungle”
“It can’t snow forever.”
That’s where you’re wrong. Continue reading “Snowfall”
Glowing yellow eyes.
Glistening teeth set to snarl, to snap.
Fur bristling, angry to the touch. Pointed, directed. Speaking clearly.
It bunches up its shoulders, the massive beast. I see more pink flesh as its lips pull further back, pearly in the moonlight. It’s jaw is slightly ajar, drool beginning to pool at the sides of its mouth.
Against its tongue.
Dripping from its massive, sharp teeth.
It snarls again, the sound jagged as it rips through the air. Warning me once more.
The beast’s claws snap a branch, reminding me that there’s more to him than fang and fur. More damage he can do. More ways than one to skin a cat, so to speak.
But I see what lies under the snarls, too.
Under the bristling fur, there’s a softer coat.
Those eyes that rove the landscape behind me, that sift through the trees, they’re not just suspicious, not just threatening.
They’re scared. Continue reading “Chimaera”
It was a leaf.
One singular leaf.
And it fell.
Speaking only in a whisper as it went. Its last cry carried on the wind that took it from its place, its home. It was just the one leaf, falling through the breeze. Calling to me, warning me, as it did.
He is not the same.
That’s what the leaf said.
He is not who you think him to be.
Was the echo the wind gave. Words that spoke of fall, of seasons changing. Words that carried truth to them. A resounding, hollow ring.
I will tell you something that few know:
A forest on the verge of death can only speak truth. It has been that way since always. Since forever. An ancient law, as old and bright as the sun. Which is how I knew:
He was not who I thought he was. Continue reading “Cold Comes the Lie”
The thing about being a Nightwalker is:
You have to face the terror.
Visceral, pounding blood. Bones that crack beneath the weight of too much adrenaline. An impending knowledge that you, among these toothy tombs, are as strong as a twig against a mighty wind.
You are a Nightwalker. One who walks through the dreams of the despairing. Who can clamber up, and down—move among the dwelling horrors of the twilight hour.
A Nightwalker sees a nightmare.
And he can’t look away.
A Nightwalker, in order to survive, must keep moving. Must keep burning. Must keep fighting.
You must face the terror.
Perish. Continue reading “Nightwalker”
When you feel the need to take flight—that itching in the back of your mind, a tingling through your nerves, shooting into your bones with urgency—the best thing you can do is:
Continue reading “Goose Chase”
It was that day in the rain.
It didn’t mean much to me then, but I keep going back to it. Like wandering through the same roads. Converging at the same points. That day in the rain didn’t mean much then, and, even now, it probably still doesn’t. Or, at least, it wouldn’t.
If it weren’t for the fact that:
I keep going back to it. Continue reading “Silent Knight”
Awareness is a commodity. Not something that everyone has. It’s a skill that can’t really be learned, so much as grown. If you aren’t born with an innate sense of awareness, then it takes years—years—to cultivate. And, believe me, it’s a skill that you want. Something you should aspire to acquire. A skill that is quite useful.
Well, the very nature of awareness is useful.
Awareness is the feeling of someone’s eyes watching you. Knowing there’s something lurking in the shadows. Awareness gives you sense enough not to walk into a dark alley in the middle of the night. To keep your distance from groups of strangers. To cross the street when there’s a ruckus up ahead. Awareness is the thing that keeps you—in most accounts—alive. If it weren’t for awareness, you’d simply walk into any dark corner and never make it back out. Awareness is knowing that you are not always the hunter. Sometimes, you are the prey. Awareness is what gives you a mind to think proactively in your own defense.
Quite a useful thing, if you ask me.
There is a point.
A place where awareness deepens. Sinks into the very fabric of your soul. Causes your sense to dive further.
Awareness can keep you alive, yes.
It’s not always a gift. Continue reading “Lingering Awareness”
The key to scavenging is:
Recognizing something with potential value.
If you’re ambling around a wrecked city, you can’t stop to look at everything. Wrecked cities are chock-full of nasties. Monsters that have been mutated, people that are hungry enough that they’ll eat anyone, falling debris. Havocked Cities—or, as we call them, HC’s—are extraordinarily dangerous. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with that planet’s history. And, as a scavenger, it’s not that often that you can get your hands on a reliable, sturdy, in-tact history of a planet. So, instead of muck around, we get right to business:
We make assessments.
Eyeball where the valuable things are, and head out for those. Taking apart the whole city is a waste. HC’s are way, way too dangerous to play around in. You’re likely to lose a life or a limb trying to pick the whole place apart.
We learn a few tricks.
After all, it’s always been said:
A scavenger’s eye can’t be beat.
Continue reading “Boxed Value”