The Warrior’s Path – #MenageMonday

Source: Dreamstime

Jeremy stopped looking for easy answers. There weren’t any. Not for him. Maybe the shaman had a point. His life would be less difficult if he didn’t fight.

“Fighting is a way,” he told him. The wise man smiled and nodded.

It is what brought him here tonight, his latest fight. The latest obstacle standing between him and success was fifty feet of bridge. Simple. Except the damn harvest moon illuminated the world brighter than a cloudless day at high noon.

Cables groaned and the planks spanning the abyss twisted, swaying in the wind. He couldn’t see them, but they were there. Eleven o’clock, at the ridge’s cleft where the tree line provided protection yet afforded a clear shot. It was the site he’d chose. Easy as shooting fish in a barrel.

“Why are we waiting?” his second asked.

“I figure we’ve got about a twenty-five percent chance of making it to the other side.”

“Better than zero.”

“I promised to keep you alive.”

“No, you said you would try. These last weeks, we’ve had more freedom than we’ve ever known. You’ve gotten us this far. Considering where we started, we have already won.” The faces behind him smiled and nodded.

Jeremy let his breath explode through his lips.

“We should wait.”

“We should let the devil dogs catch us?” An angel’s face confronted Jeremy.

“We knew the risks and made our choices. It is our only way. The question is… Are you ready?” she asked. Jeremy smiled and nodded.

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

https://ko-fi.com/johawkthewriter#

Running on Empty – #MenageMonday

Source: Dreamstime

Daylight faded and the gas gauge’s needle dipped ever downward. I alone followed the black ribbon which wavered, shimmering as it grasped at the horizon. Flat, desolate county rolled past my windows, a study in beige monotony. The only interruption was the occasional posts on the roadside. Shoes dangled there.

With nothing better to do and the sound of my own wheels driving me crazy, I counted them, noting the numbers on my odometer. Mile markers, they marched in tune with my evaporating gas.

Three, two, one…

Lights materialized at the roadside. Gas. Food. Lodging. Last rest stop next 247 miles, the sign warned. My car informed me we were coasting on fumes.

“Guess we’re stopping,” I said aloud.

I gassed up, paid, parked and headed inside. The truck stop was full of people. They packed the greasy diner. The door’s bell tinkled, and the room grew silent, as everyone turned to stare. “Hotel California” crackled from the overhead speakers.

“H’bout we get you checked in and a blue plate?” an attractive face asked.

“Checked in?”

“You’re not going out in the dark, are you?”

I sensed the blackness behind me and quickly turned away.

“Got somethin’ to lose?”

I shook my head.

“He’s why you’re wearin’ those shoes,” he said to my stiletto clad feet.

The straps wound around my ankles like the chains encircling my heart.

“Don’t worry Darlin, we’ll help you to forget. Perhaps one night you’ll see the light and realize you’ve always held the key.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Befriending the Boogeyman – #MenageMonday

Source: Dreamstime

Stacy walked a fragile line. It was a precarious balance between her two worlds. Light and dark, right and wrong, battling for her soul.

She kept going, doing the work of living while she waited for the voices. Lights flashed, and a cop stepped from the squad car. She glanced into the shadows. She saw him lurking there, watching.

“What are you doing here?” the officer asked.

Stacy checked the darkness again but didn’t answer.

“Are you lost?” he tried again.

“Everything is black and white for you, isn’t it?” she asked.

“I only want to help you, my friend.”

“You’re not my buddy, cop. Hell, you’re acting like my father, and that isn’t a compliment.”

“Let’s get you home, somewhere safe,” he reached for her, touching her elbow.

“Safe? At home?” Stacy sniffed and twisted free from his grasp.

She felt the shadow figure smile, and she smiled in response. He was everywhere, always watching.

But he wasn’t the one she feared. He had threatened her for years and told her he would punish her if she did not behave. She lived in fear of making him angry and inflicting his punishment. She was small and delicate, and she bruised easily.

When she was nine, her mother died, a casualty of a stern hand too heavily applied. During the day, dark corners were her refuge, and the creature whispered secrets. He swore to protect her.

His white-gloved hand extended from his coal-black uniform.

Stacy hesitated, then descended into darkness.

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Cutting Deep – #MenageMonday!

Title: Cutting Deep
Source:  #MenageMonday! Challenge Week 2x 41

Source: Dreamstime

I struggle, fighting tangled sheets, I reach for my phone, knowing it’s him.

“Hey,” I answer. My speech is thick and breathless.

His voice sounds distant in my ear.

“You sound so far from home,” I hear myself say.

There is laughter, his friends shout hello to me as he shoos them aside.

“You’re so far away from me. We’re half a world apart,” I explain facts he already knows.

A door closes. He is alone now, and I am his desire. Beneath the almost imperceptible slur, his voice deepens and sweet memories tingle on my skin.

“We only make out on the telephone. It’s not the same,” I tell him.

He makes promises. I can recite them. I have repeated them so many times, cried countless nights, and believed in him. Will I never stop?

“You’re sitting in the sun,” I repeat, blinded by his accounts, truly happy for his triumphs.

“While I’ve been in the rain,” I say, but perhaps those words are only spoken to myself.

I wait for the call to end; a click and the line is dead. Laying the phone in the charger, I feel his arms around me, pulling me close. I roll towards him, eyes closed. His scent is asphyxiating as the tendrils snake into my mind, they wind down my throat and ensnare my heart. Our kiss is filled with longing, hope, undeniable love, and tears.

“You should tell him,” he whispers.

“Trust me.”

It is a promise I must keep.

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Ascension – #MenageMonday!

Title: Ascension
Source:  #MenageMonday! Challenge Week 2×35
Word count: 250 words

To Camp, by Zhong Fenghua
Source: deviantart

I was alone. The campfire crackled and popped while the swamp echoed with chirps of tree frogs and trills of the moorhen. The barred owl’s distinctive call signaled the end of a day to remember. One I could never forget.

Pulling my coat collar tight around my neck, I moved closer to the fire. Cold, exhausted from the journey, I missed Sōshō. I wasn’t ready for the responsibility and I beseeched him to stay. He only smiled, patted my arm and handed me the massive leather-bound tome.

“You will record the entries now,” he said.

The weight threatened to crush me. “I can’t do this. Please, Sōshō,” I begged.

“I have written your destiny.”

He took his place on the rocks and began the incantations that would meld him with the earth. He left me no choice, and I performed the rituals with him. The transformation required the entire day. When it was complete, his chrysalis appeared as if it had stood on this spot for thousands of years. As my final act, I inscribed the sacred message on the monument’s base.

We had passed hundreds of stone statues on our journey. At each shrine, we repeated the prescribed devotions. He had taken his place among them. Tomorrow, I would strike camp, pack everything on the two mules, and return to the Eagle’s Aerie as the new Sōshō.

Pulling the book onto my lap, I opened it. I caressed the words he recorded only yesterday, then I turned the page.

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Initiation – #MenageMonday

Title: Initiation
Source:  #MenageMonday! Challenge Week 2×27
Word count: 250 words

Source: Dreamstime

It took me two years to convince Sammi to hire a runner for the boneyard. When she broke, she made it clear. The kid was my responsibility.

The teenager was eager, and he took his job title to heart. I chucked when I saw him sprinting towards me. He stopped a few feet away, resting his palms on his thighs as he sucked air.

“You okay, kid?” I asked.

He looked at me and raised his right index finger. I tapped my foot and waited.

“I’m fine,” he panted sliding his hands to his waist as he straightened.

“Sammi sent a message?” I prodded, eager to hear her latest edict.

“Hey, she said this was the plane that started it all,” he motioned to the shell in front of us.

“She said a bomb went off, killed everyone on board, and it crash-landed here.”

I laughed, and he looked confused.

“Sorry kid, we make it look that way. Some movie people paid to shoot footage. The rest we cannibalized for parts.”

“Oh, I see, and like a fool, I believed her,” the kid said.

“Gotta take Sammi with a grain of salt. She’s a jokester.”

The kid shook his head.

“She also said the lost keys are no excuse.  We have to get it started.”

I purposefully looked at the plane, before turning to face him again. I could hear the gears working in his head. He wasn’t stupid.

“Let me guess? Never any keys?”

“Happy April Fool’s Day, kid.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Scavenger Hunt – #MenageMonday!

Title: Scavenger Hunt
Source:  #MenageMonday! Challenge Week 2×26
Word count: 250 words

malaysia rain on window overlooking the city

Source: Malleni-Stock

I arrived late to the party.

“Jon. You’re here. Let’s pair you with Abby,” Miriam pulled me toward the rain-drenched window and a quiet brunette in a grey trench coat. Miriam introduced us, shoved a paper in my hands and left.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“Scavenger hunt,” Abby said indicating her crumpled page.

Rex completed our group, and we began.

“A circus elephant?” Abby read as we reached street level.

“Dude, I’ve got this. Follow me,” Rex smiled and headed south. Abby shrugged, and we followed.

Rain pelted us as we shot photos of the items on the list.  After one photo, Abby pulled me aside and pointed to her list. Where the raindrops wet the page, words appeared.

“Look in the windowbox,” it said.

Abby nodded at the planter affixed to the front of the shop. Searching among the flowers she retrieved a gun. I stared in disbelief as she let her coat sleeve drop, concealing everything except the gun’s silencer.

“Rex. This way,” she said as she stepped into the dark alley.

Rex followed while I hesitated. Halfway along the ally, Abby turned, aimed, and shot Rex in the head.

“Holy shit,” I screamed. “What the hell?”

“Read the next item,” Abby said as if Rex’s corpse had disappeared.

“Kill the King? But that’s a song. Right?”

“And the next one.”

My hands shook as I scanned the list, watching the words appear.

“Meet your new partner,” I read, then looked back at Abby. She smiled.

“Howdy, partner.”

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Subjugation – #MenageMonday!

Title: Subjugation
Source:  #MenageMonday! Challenge Week 2×23
Word count: 250 words

Black And White, Chess, Board Game, Chessboard

Source: Dreamstime

Emma affixed the ends of the stethoscope in her ears.

“Let’s take a listen to your heart, shall we?” she said leaning over Nergal.

Nergal, strapped to the hospital bed, was wary and surprised at his inability to vanquish her. Instead, he shrank from her.  Long dark hair tumbled over her shoulder as she leaned forward. She had smudged eyes, and eyelashes blackened with heavy mascara. Despite her white lab coat, she exuded darkness. The corner of her lip curled.

“Funny, no heartbeat,” she said. “I never dreamed it would be this easy.”

“I’ve heard your minions, ‘she’s a marvel’, they say,” Nergal said, mocking her.

“Too bad you didn’t take them seriously,” Emma said tucking the stethoscope into her pocket.

“It is a game to you, isn’t it?”

“I call it ‘work’. Life and death. Serious stuff. Can you blame a girl for wanting a little fun?”

“I do when I’m the target of your ambition.”

Emma laughed.

“Your time has come Dark One. Great run, though. Inspirational, you might say.”

“You want to depose me?” Nergal countered.

“That’s the plan. It’s a good one, don’t you think? Though, I have wondered where the devil goes when he is dead.”

“You can’t kill me. Remember? No heartbeat.”

“Not the way you kill other beings. More of a checkmate, leaving me with your power,” she laid her hands on his chest, chanting as the fire faded from Nergal’s eyes.

“The king is dead, long live the queen,” her minions cried.

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Inner Conflict – #MenageMonday!

Title: Inner Conflict
Source: #MenageMonday! Challenge Week 2×22
Word count: 250 words

the_fallen_cherub_by_charllieearts_dd0j9ye-fullview.

The Fallen Cherub by CharllieeArts, source

Crouched behind the building’s jutting column, I accessed the alien landscape. Cold, stark and silent they had transported me into a hidden world. We were trapped between reality and dreams.

In the street, stood a glorious black angel his wing unfurled, confronting a monster straight from my nightmares.

“Why don’t you run?” the monster growled.

“I should fear you?” the angel sneered.

“You know my reputation.  I hold life in my hands.”

They circled, searching for a weakness, an opportunity to strike.

“My words echo in her mind long after I have gone,” the monster said licking his lips.

“Your words fall apart once removed from the dark,” a fireball erupted from the angel as he spoke and hurled toward the monster.

The monster saw his opening, rearing back he lunged at the angel. They rolled in the street and I watched in horrified fascination.

“Submit, dishonored beast, you won’t gain your redemption with her salvation,” the monster howled.

“I won’t let you win,” the angel roared as another fireball propelled the monster back.

I couldn’t stand the self-mutilation of my fallen cherub and my noble monster. I stepped from my hiding place and screamed.

“Enough. Neither of you will win, and we all will die. The decision is mine. We must learn to live together,” I said. “We are two sides of the same coin, and neither side is fully right nor fully wrong.”

Sheepish expressions met my gaze, and I knew we would live to fight another day.

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

Invocations – #MenageMonday!

Title: Invocations
Source:  #MenageMonday! Challenge Week 2×21
Word count: 250 words

red-votive-candels-burning-

Source: Dreamstime

Breathless, Sandu entered the sanctuary, slamming the door behind her. Staggering forward, her trembling hand grasped the taper, and she closed her eyes while she recited the invocation, then lit a candle. Safe now, she replaced the taper and entered the nave. Silent gods greeted her, easing her tension.

A commotion behind the alter snapped her back to high alert, as the monster materialized, stumbling toward her. Its weapon aimed at her chest, it paused at the end of the aisle.

The hideous beast flickered, phasing between two forms. Its tortured scream echoed in the nave’s vastness and Sandu recognized Doron’s contorted face as he fought to control the monster.

“Sandu. Help me,” his voice, half monster, half Doron, growled at her.

Sandu ran to him, grabbing the weapon, she tossed it behind her. Doron collapsed against her, his weight dragging them to the floor. She cradled Doron as the visage of the monster seeped away.

“They must be rescued.”

“From the Kalaraja? That’s impossible,” she said.

“No, Sandu. There is a way. I’m proof.”

“Proof? Doron?” Sandu’s voice trailed off, refusing to say what they both knew. Doron clutched her hand gripping it with all his remaining strength and stared at her.

“It’s in you,” he said as his grip weakened, “You can help me escape.”

Sandu lowered her head, begging the gods to save him. Words she had never heard collected in her throat and flowed from her lips. The sanctuary glowed crimson, flickering gold, and Doron smiled.

__________________________________________

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer