Tales of the World: A Story of Day and Night

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So the legends goes that the War that lead to the end of the world and yet the beginning of the other was between the Church of the Night, Mor’Chai’u’Mua and the Church of the Day, Sh’Tol’u’Mua. The stories amounting to the war are shrouded in mystery and in terror, all of their properties lost in the thousand years that passed. However, the Incarnations of Day and Night still inspire.

“But when will I meet with the elementals?” Chad asked one night.

The m’chs’duas shrugged and lit another candle. “Only the Father knows that, halfling.”

Chad sighed and riffled through the book he had on his lap. He stopped at a page at random and read out loud. “The Day and the Night.”

“Ah, that is an interesting tale,” the Bull said. He turned his head and looked at Chad. “If you want, you can read it out loud as practice.”

Chad looked down at the flowing script and cleared his throat. “‘Truth to know,’” he said in the native tongue, the liquid rhythms lingering in his mouth, “‘in the time before the War, the Day and Night were one. They knew each other as friends and spoke to each other in friendly tones. The world was at peace.’”

A sharp wind rattled the wooden shudders and let in a cool draft.

“Continue,” the Bull said, walking to the window to fasten it shut.

Chad nodded and went back to the story. “‘One day, the Absolute of Darkness crossed into the world and decided to undo the peace the two have brokered.’” His forehead furrowed. “Absolutes?”

“Indeed,” the Bull said. “We have eight of them.” He ticked off his fingers. “Good and evil. Order and chaos. Creation and void. Fate and destiny.”

“What do they do?” Chad asked, fascinated.

“They are merely representations of what happens to this planet.” The m’chs’duas finished with the window and turned to Chad. “The most ancient scrolls speak of them being the ruling forces in the universe.”

Chad nodded and went back to the story. “‘The Absolute went to Mor’Chai, Master of the Night and the Seven Moons, and said unto him, ‘Why must Sh’Tol have the light of the sun, the warmth of the world? Why should he be controlling them? Go, claim them for yourself, and be their ruler.’

“‘The words brought a corruption to Mor’Chai, and he went to Sh’Tol, Lord of the Day and the Sun, to claim his part. Sh’Tol, not knowing of the corruption, tried to calm Mor’Chai. But to no avail, the corruption was too deep.’

“‘Then the Absolute, in an effort for further corruption, went to Sh’Tol, and said unto him, ‘Why must Mor’Chai have the calm of the night, the moons in their splendor? Why should he be owning them? Go, claim them for yourself, and be their ruler.’

“‘The words brought a corruption to Sh’Tol, and he went to Mor’Chai to claim his part. Mor’Chai, knowing of what he wanted, instead fought with him, friend against friend, to battle for what Sh’Tol had.’

“‘The Absolute, pleased of what he had done, spread himself across the lands, like ink in water, bringing the peace of the world to an end, and therefore starting the War of the World.’”

Chad lifted his head, puzzled, and said, “This doesn’t make sense. Why couldn’t the both of them share?”

The Bull smiled sadly. “You are not the first one to ask that, halfling. Our philosophies challenge the story, although it is our duty to retell it.”

Chad looked at the pages and flipped a few pages. “‘How to summon the night’?”

“Hm?” The Bull glanced down, looking at the diagrams of scripts and the golden pictures. He raised an eyebrow. “What is this? Where did you get this?”

“From the shelf over there,” Chad said, pointing at a dusty alcove of the library wall.

The Bull looked. “Hm. Those are books not for us, halfing. They belong to my brother.”

“Oh. I didn’t know.” Chad closed the book and passed it over to the Bull, who walked over to the bookshelf and slipped the book back.

“I wonder if I can meet them, also,” Chad said.

“Who? Mor’Chai? Sh’Tol?”

Chad shrugged. “Either. Both. It just gets boring here. Even one of these Absolutes would-”

“Do not dare, halfling,” the Bull warned, holding up a finger. “The Absolutes are not to be summoned, even in jest. They are not like us, and they will not be mentioned in such a fashion. Do you understand?”

“Sorry, sir.” Chad said.

Still, he was curious.

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Story Short No. 20

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I found out Diane was a Scorpio from Ross, who heard it from Sancha, the Spanish dancer here. At the time, she was with Diane, teaching how to lead for a complicated samba movement.

“That explains why she’s has that mystic air about her,” Ross said, nodding. Ross always was a sucker for anything supernatural.

I sipped the coffee, and I reached over to get another Equal packet from the chipped sugar holder. “What I don’t see is why Madame would want to know her sign.”

“Well, Scorpios are supposedly exceptional sexual creatures.” Ross raised an eyebrow expectantly. “And we all know Madame’s tastes in women.”

“I guess.” Diane was slim and willowy, a perfect dancing partner. That apparently rated highly in Madame’s book.

Ross looked around and waved to someone off screen. I turned to see Madame, dressed in her usual gown of navy bombazine, but with slim stripes of gold and white slashing across the shoulders and lower chest.

“Darling!” she said, waving to us. “You are here early!” She came up, gathered up the striped shawl from her shoulders, and draped it across the unoccupied chair. She sat down and reached over to the coffee pot. “What brings you here?”

I shrugged. “Boredom, I guess,” I said. I moved the sugar holder and the milk jug closer to her elbow. “We were talking about Diane.”

“Oooh!” she squealed as she helped herself. “Yes. Such a fine figure. I saw her with Ms. Liz a couple of nights ago dancing with Bobbie. They were quite the couple. All that hip swaying.” Her eyes went distant for a moment, and a small smile played upon her lips. “Yes, they were…lascivious.”

Ross and I exchanged a glance.

“Oh, but where are my manners?” Madame cried out, snapping out of it. “Have you had breakfast yet? No matter. Marisse!” Her maid appeared from wherever she was before. “Breakfast for three, please. And bring some more coffee while you’re at it.”

Marisse bowed and left the room.

Story Short No. 00049

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“I need no exorcism, thanks for asking.” He pushed the Bible away, which smoked slightly in his hands. “Mike and I are doing okay.”

“Mike?”

“Well, he goes by M’chokdem, but I thought Mike would be better. More up to date. Hip. Goodness knows he needs updating.”

The priest raised his eyebrows, and he exchanged a glance with the other one. “Really now?”

“Certainly.” The possessed leaned back on the bed and belched fire. “Sorry.”

“Anyway,” he continued as he closed his eyes, “he is hopelessly outdated. He hasn’t possessed anyone in centuries, and now—“

“What?”

“Yeah,” he sighed out. “One would think that the demons of hell would be constantly on trend, you know?” Another voice, tinged with souls screaming in agony, issued forth:

“I have told you many times that we have not been really up here since the Protestant reformation. We found the situation too hazardous even by our standards.”

The priest shuddered and crossed himself.

“Please don’t do that,” the demonic voice said.

Story Short No. 00043

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“Magpie music?”

Freya nodded and pushed a stray lock of hair back into place. “All glitter, glitter, glitter. Sparkle and shine. At least it makes your brain that way.”

She took out a laser pointer from her jacket pocket and turned it on. “Here we have the waveform,” she said, flashing the light at the wall. A squiggly line formed: Tightly packed valleys and troughs in a one-foot segment. “It is a mix of several frequencies, set into an ultrasonic wave pulse.”

Brian looked at the projection. “This is causing the riots?”

“No.” She turned to the officer. “This pulse can be easily broadcast as an underlying signal. I would say that the signal is then added to something else to make it palatable to the public. In turn, the brain goes haywire.”

“Explain.”

“The frequencies cause various parts of the brain to go into a peaceful trance state. Anyone listening to it usually turns into a blissful zombie.”

“Until it gets turned off.”

“Exactly. The pulse acts as a drug. It is rather addictive and somewhat hazardous if taken in large doses. It is one of the reasons why the military shut off the funding. Too much of a good thing, kind of deal.”

Brian nodded, feeling the pieces fall into place. “So. The signal acts as a drug. Anyone listening to it turns into a druggie, wanting more of it. Willing to do anything to get another hit of it. Including violence maybe?”

Freya’s eyes widened. “That would explain a few things.” She snapped her fingers. “Assassins.”

“Pardon?”

“Eleventh century.” She noticed a motion at the corner of her eyes, and she turned to find Carlos coming in with a wheeled mop pan. She eyed his latest headset with distaste and turned back to Brian. “Legends state that someone gave people psychedelic drugs, then get lead into a so-called paradise, promising them more if they were truly faithful.”

“So?”

“It’s happening again.” She pointed to the projection. “What if whoever is broadcasting the signal is repeating incidents. The people listening to it are turning into assassins.”

“We have yet to hear of any reports of that, but I see your analogy.”

“The only problem would be the distribution.” She reached over to switch off the pointer. “How would the signal be broadcast in such a way that a random set of people would be affected?” She took a step back as the mop handle swooshed past. “Carlos, can you move out of the way, please? We’re busy here.”

He didn’t pay attention and instead kept mopping the area.

“Hold on,” Brian said. He reached over to tip the earphones off.

The handle moved quickly to block the movement. “That’s okay, chief,” Carlos said, focused on the mopping. “I got it under control.”

Brian’s eyebrows rose. He tried again to shove the earphones off, and he was blocked by the wooden stick.

“It’s okay, chief,” Carlos said again. “I got it under control.”

The movement was so quick, so surprising that the two were in shock. Carlos whipped out a revolver from a coat pocket and aimed it at Freya.

“You move, chief, and she dies.” The other hand was holding the mop handle, cut halfway and tipped with a green-tinged blade. “You move, chief, and you die also.” He raised his head, and Freya noticed his eyes were glassy. A faint grin played over his face.

“Oh god, Carlos. You’re addicted.”

“Don’t I wish,” he said. He eyed the two. “I just got a small dose of what everyone else had. He promised me so much more if I stopped the two of you.”

“You don’t have to do this, kid,” Brian said. His hand nonchalantly drifted to his hip holster.

“Nuh-uh-uh!” Carlos jerked the blade to the officer. “Hands up, both of ya,” he said. “Don’t want to hurt either of ya.”

Freya slowly raised her hands. One of them held the pointer, which she flicked onto Carlos’ face.

He cried out, blinded by the bright green laser. He dropped the handle-knife and covered his face with the arm.

Brian move like a flash, wrenching the gun from Carlos’ grip and quickly cuffing his hands behind his back.

Freya turned the pointer off. She looked at the struggling figure with a furrowed forehead, then reached over to pull off the earphones.

“NO!” Carlos cried out as she did so. A blare of music issued from the earphones.

“Give them back!” he continued, struggling more. “I want more music!”

“Music?” Freya wondered, then a light bulb flicked on. “Of course! Stupid of me to guess otherwise!”

“What?” Brian said.

“Don’t you see?” She picked up the earphones and reached over to pull out his player. She looked at the display, which was emblazoned with a number: 105.6FM. “The signal. It is broadcasted as a radio station.”

Bar Jocks short no. 003 (Part 2)

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“Hi honey, I’m home,” Joe said as he walked into his home. He tossed his keys onto the side table and looked at his uncle, Brian Lee Moose, who was busily weaving a string of lights around the framed photos hanging on the walls. Another person was crouched down against an opposite wall, fiddling with a power supply strip.

“Alright, kid,” he said in his Brooklyn accent, “let it rip!”

The lights flicked on, showing a grid of sparkling lights that illuminated every frame. Joe noticed that the doorways were covered with bright, silvery garland and clear glass ornaments.

Brian took a step back and nodded. “That’s pretty nice, kid.”

“Thank you sir.” The lights switched off, and the figure straightened up. He turned, giving a sharp double profile of Joe. “Anything else?”

“Nah, kid. I think we’re done here in the room.” Brian turned to find Joe. “Heya, nephew. What’s shaking?”

The other person turned to focus on Joe, showing a somewhat carbon copy of him. His antlers were already gone. “Hey.”

“Brad and I were decorating the room,” Brian said, waving a hand to the lights and the garlands. “How went Bar Jocks?”

Joe shrugged. “They want me to dress as Santa. I saw the costume they want me to be in.” He gestured with his hands. “It’s…kinky.”

Brian had to stifle a grin. “No doubt.”

“In the meanwhile, I have to go later today to get a harness measured.” A choking sound had Joe look at Brian. “Eh?”

He shook his head and covered his mouth with a closed hand. “Nothing,” he said as he cleared his throat. “Just a bit of dust.”

Brian smiled. “That’s your father right there, kid. Did that all the time when he was your age.”

Joe blushed. A week after the fateful meeting between him and Brian left him at a loss. How was he to deal with the situation?

“It’s a damned shame you ain’t old enough to see him in action,” Brian continued. “I’d happily get you in if you wanted to.”

“Uncle!” Joe exclaimed. Brad went into a fiery blush.

“Heck, he could get a few lessons from those two rats.”

“Really, uncle!”

Brian held up his hands in mock surrender. “I’m just saying, nephew. Just saying.”

Joe sighed heavily and gave his uncle a steely glare before going up to Bradley. “Anything you want for Christmas?”

Bradley shrugged.

Joe reached over and pulled his son into a tight hug, which was returned with interest.

“It’s been tough on you, I imagine,” he said, rubbing Brad’s back. “I don’t even know how you celebrated the holidays. But I’ll make it up to you.” He hugged tighter, giving his son a trademark moosesnug. “I promise.”

“Mmmph!” Brad said, waving his hands a bit.

Moose immediately loosened his embrace. “Oh yeah, sorry.” He chuckled a bit. “I get carried away sometimes.”

“That’s saying something, kid,” Brian said. He was standing next to the power strip and pushed the button there, illuminating the room. “You always get carried away.”

Joe stuck his tongue at his uncle, then focused on his son. “Alright, tell me what you want to do, and we’ll do it. Deal?”

Brian nodded slowly. “Deal.”

Bar Jocks short no. 003

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“Alright,” Joe said as the trio slipped into their seats at the Steerbucks coffeeshop. He steadied the table to prevent the cups from slopping over. “Why are we here?”

Mr Huxley, owner and manager of Barjocks, looked at him and Mike, who looked far too out sized with the seat. “We thought to have a meeting away from the bar to inform you of what is to be happening in the coming week.”

“Alright…?” Joe adjusted his hand-knit blue and yellow striped sweater with a quick shrug.

“As we all know, it’s going to be Christmas in another week, New Years a week after that. That gives us a certain chance to…show off.”

Mike picked up the thread. “Nothing in jocks, thankfully, but we do expect a bit more conservative dress.”

“Speedoes, I guess?” Joe questioned.

“Not only that, but, er…” The ‘roo fumbled with the rest of the sentence.

The giant bison cleared his throat. “What the assistant manager is trying to say is that you have been voted by the staff to be put as Santa this year.”

Joe loudly choked on his coffee, causing a few people around the trio to look askance. Mike reached over and patted the moose’s back. “Santa?!?” he wheezed between coughs.

“Yes,” Huxley said. “That means a certain change of clothing for the next week or so.” He reached into his pocket and took out his tablet. He riffled through the contents there and turned it to show a certain photo. “This was Michael last year.”

“Oh hell,” Mike said, blushing. “I forgot you had that pic.”

Joe reached over to take the tablet from his employer’s hand and looked dumbfounded at the photo for a few moments. He then looked at Huxley, who was calmly sipping his coffee. “I am to be wearing this all this week?”

Huxley nodded and took the electronic back. “Keep in mind that is the usual bill of fare, as it were. Being your manager, I am fit to change the outfit in any way.”

“The year before me, it was Sirius and Arc who were Santa,” Mike said. He looked haunted. “Never again.”

A faint smile hovered over the bison’s muzzle. “Yes. I believe we made a lot of money that week.”

Joe snapped out of his fevered daydream of the fluffmonsters in the Santa outfit. “Money?”

“Ah yes,” Huxley said. “I did not know why I didn’t tell you this before.”

He cleared his throat. “Every year, the city has an annual toy drive. Unwrapped toys and such, but we usually give money for a local orphanage. We usually give about twenty five or so hundred to the Teddy’s Home place down the road.”

Joe nodded.

Mike piped in. “Of course, people are free to donate the toys if they want to.”

“So what am I to do?” Joe said.

“Wear the costume, of course,” Huxley said. “The rest of the staff is to be your elves.” The smile appeared, wide and wicked. “We are to be getting extra help this week to help with the donations, of course. Which means more elves for you to order around.”

Joe rolled his eyes and drained his cup. “If I didn’t know any better, sir, I’d say you are enjoying this.”

“You might be right,” Huxley said, rising from his seat. “Which reminds me, you need to come over today for a fitting.”

Joe’s jaw dropped a bit. “A fitting?”

“Of course. We need to see how big the harness will be.”

Joe sputtered for a response as Huxley went on. “If you can be so kind as to come over at five so we can get you prepared.” He motioned to the ‘roo.

“Gotcha, boss,” Mike said. He stood up and gently patted the moose on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.”

“I guess,” Joe muttered as the two walked out of the place. He peered into his cup. “This calls for a refill.”

Story short No. 21

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Inspired from this photo

“Alright, how do I look now?”

I turned from the mirror, a brush in my hand. Madam was in a pale chiffon silk dress that decorously draped from neck to floor. I say it was pale – the color of vanilla buttercream. I was reminded of McArthur Park for some reason, all that sweet icing flowing down.

“Superb,” I said, eyeing the decadence.

She twirled. The fabric gently shifted in the overhead lights, changing from buttercream to champagne and back. “I don’t know.” She turned to a triple set of mirrors and eyed herself critically. She reached up to loosen a few curls from her coiffure. “Hm.”

I turned back to the useless endeavor to comb my hair into a passable style. “Personally, I think it is nice.”

“You do not know fashion,” she chided. She sighed and shrugged. “No, I do not think this will suit me.” She went back into the voluminous closet/dressing room.

I looked at my reflection, trying to pat my hair down, but the bouncy mat kept on springing up. Maybe a bit of styling gel will help, I thought to myself. I glanced down at the assortment of pomades and chose one at random. I squirted a bit of the green gel in my palm and started to work it into my hair.

A few minutes later, I heard the rustle of fabric. “How about now?”

She was wearing a beautifully graphic gown. It was comprised of layers of aged ivory silk that graduated to charcoal. A strap of the fabric twirled around her neck, covering her formidable torso. A large tuft of black silk flew out in front of her waist, causing shadows and shades to scatter across the bottom half.

“You like?”

I blinked a few times, and I nodded.

“A Marchesa,” Madam said. She moved, the fabric shifting and making the ensemble look like a low-resolution photo. “I was fortunate enough to attend the spring shows, and I snagged this lovely number from them.” She turned to the mirrors and shifted a bit. She smiled and nodded. “I think I will take this.” She glanced to me and frowned. “Why are you using my bleaching gel?”

I looked back in horror to find swaths of my hair slowly turning to brassy tones. “Hell!” I swore. “I thought this was styling gel!”

“Marisse!” Madam called. A small, tight-corseted women in a maid’s outfit appeared from another room. “Take Phil to the washroom so he can wash off the gel. And try to do something with that hair of his?”

The maid bowed and touched my elbow. “This way, sir,” she said. I had no choice to follow.