Original Works

The Myth of Politicus and Zhen [12 Genre Months]

“I’m here to see Professor Lin. My name’s Rob Whelan–I made an appointment.”

The secretary–who looked like a student of the university itself–scrolled through a list on his tablet. When he found my name, squeezed between a Professor Doherty and Doctor Lyon, he rose from his seat and gestured at the oak door to my right.

“She’s expecting you,” he said.

Already late for the appointment, I thanked the young man and stalked into the mahogany-themed office–a uniform decor of the historical establishment.

“You’re late,” she stated.

Lin was seated behind a polished wooden table, surrounded by books stacked high on the carpeted floor–the bookshelves against the four walls offered no space for the newer editions.

“Sorry. Bad habit,” I replied.

“Have a seat,” she prompted.

Lin’s dark straight hair, deep set eyes, and thin lips were the same as how I remembered them to be. But on that sunny afternoon, Lin wasn’t in a pink, silk gown. She donned–what most educators in a place as such would–a dull, black and white suit.

“It’s been awhile. How’s your book doing?” she asked.

“Not good. My publisher wants another. Soon,” I admitted, planting myself on the velvet armchair across her desk.

“And… that’s why you’re here.”

“Partially.” I smirked.

Lin chuckled. “So, what do you want to pick my brain on?”

“The myth of Politicus and Zhen.”

“What about it?”

“I have a few ideas to run by you.”

“Something you could’ve done via email.”

“True. But I wanted to see you–it’s been awhile, like you said.”

Lin and I met when we were ten. She lived with my family for two years, while her parents had ‘some issues to sort out’. We kept in touch after she returned home. And, once in a few years, our families would get together for Christmas. But since she began teaching at the university, it was almost impossible to meet her–she was a fourteen-hour flight away and always working on the holidays.

“We can catch up later. Let’s get to work first,” she said.

“Right. So, Politicus and Zhen–do you think they could’ve actually existed?”

“The Empire of Chrysus isn’t in any historical records, neither is King Politicus and Queen Zhen. I would say their story is parallel to Greek mythology.”

“But, I did some reading online, and some people theorise that Queen Zhen was the youngest daughter of Emperor Gaozu.”

“None of Emperor Gaozu’s daughters left their country. That’s a fanboy theory, Rob. But, a good one to roll with. Is that your intended direction?”

“No. I just wanted to know what you think.”

“I don’t think they’re real.”

“I see. Personally though…” I hesitated.

“Personally what?”

“I believe otherwise,” I stated. Lin raised her eyebrows. But as her lips parted to question my belief, I continued, “Anyway, do you think it’s possible for Politicus to retain his memories after each life?”

“The original tale didn’t say he could. But since you’re writing fiction, anything goes.”

“Do you think, that with his memories, he can help Zhen remember their past?”

“How–with true love’s kiss?” Lin chuckled. “Wait, is this new book a romance novel?”

“A little romance doesn’t hurt.”

“The themes of this myth are greed and violence. The consequence of Politicus’ brutality was an eternal curse–witnessing the death of his lover in each life cycle, with no hope of happiness. You can toss in a little romance, but a happy ending will be far-fetch, not to mention, cliche.”

“He can break the curse.”

“By wakening Zhen’s memories?”

“That’s a good idea, isn’t it?”

“Not really. It doesn’t quite make sense.”

“Why?”

“Is your story set in the twenty-first century?”

“Yes.”

“Then first off, Politicus claiming to be Politicus will make him seem insane. Nobody will believe him, let alone Zhen. Secondly, Zhen recalling her memories won’t save her since thematically, the myth isn’t about love. What I logically foresee, is Zhen living in an endless loop, well aware she only has twenty-nine years each cycle. And, the idea that Politicus helped her remember–under the pretense of breaking the curse–paints Politicus as selfish as he was before. It won’t be a show of love. Making the love of your life aware of eternal damnation isn’t love. Love is Politicus suffering alone until he breaks the curse, which is unlikely to involve wakening Zhen’s memories.”

“Right.”

“But, that premise can make quite an adventure–Politicus and Zhen working together to free themselves from the curse.”

“It just… doesn’t make logical sense to you.”

“It doesn’t.”

I sighed. Why couldn’t I see it before? Still, I had to ask. “One more question,” I prompted. “If you were in Zhen’s shoes and Politicus awakened your memories-”

“I might grow to resent him,” she interrupted.

I nodded. “Well, I guess it’s safe to say romance isn’t my forte.”

Lin chuckled. “Stay away from romance, Rob. Stick to your action-adventure-treasure-hunting stuff. It’s what you’re great at. Honestly, I thought you were going to ask me about Politicus’ sword of vengeance. The sword makes a good set-up.”

I forced a smile. “It sure does.”

There was no need to ask about the sword–I knew a lot about it already. And she was right; the sword did make a good set-up. It brought upon a curse I could only blame myself for. But trust me, I’ve tried. No matter how far and wide I’ve searched–in this lifetime and the ones before–I’ve yet to find anything that will break this eternal damnation. But admittedly, I am selfish to wish I wasn’t alone. Is it wrong to desire recognition from the one I love? I’ve lived more than a thousand lives with her by my side, but not once has she looked at me the way she did when she first died. Even in this twenty first century life–a month and fifteen days before her death–there was no love in her gaze. And, if I didn’t want her to resent me, I will have to watch her die… again.

“Free for dinner tonight?” I asked.

“No questions about the sword?”

“None.”

“I should be free tonight.”

“Great. It’ll be awhile before we get to meet again.”

Lin chuckled. “That’s life, isn’t it?”

I nodded. “That’s… how it always seems to be.”

Perhaps in our next life, I’ll finally break the curse—ending this vicious cycle–and make what Zhen calls a cliche ending… our reality.

____________________________________________________________________

12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Original Works

Cave of Dreams [12 Genre Months]

It began with a curse, passed down from one generation onto the next–a curse many of his ancestors called a gift. Yet, in the mind of this boy king, he was condemned–condemned by the boy in the mirror. For unlike his father and the kings who ruled before him, he loathed his reflection.

What he saw, even in his human state, was a beast. His deep-set eyes hung tired from the fear of death. His youthful grin lost in the kingdoms he had conquered. His sword-wielding arm stained by the blood of his enemies. Never was he just a boy–always, he was a monster hungry for the next victory, the next throne, the next war. What a miracle it would be, if he stopped swinging blades for a day. And, a miracle it was.

“This will be my last battle,” he said.

Sheathing his double-edged sword, he strolled to his steed with his royal army behind him.

“This will ruin your empire,” his advisor replied. “This will ruin you, your majesty.”

“I’m already ruined.”

“You are more victorious than the kings before you. And, you can do so much more.”

“This isn’t me. Before I lose myself again, I must do this.”

During the battle at Vita, while his men pillaged the kingdom, he heard of the Cave of Dreams. Some of the citizens of Vita had braved the beast within in order to flee the war. Alas, no one knew what became of the courageous few. But as Vita crumbled to ashes, the folklore reached his ears–what seemed like a myth was hope.

“Your majesty-”

“I am a monster. I have no control over this body and what it becomes.”

“You are a warrior–a king–not a monster. What will our kingdom become if this beast takes your gift?”

“Gift?” He chuckled.

Arguing with any of the men in his royal court was a futile endeavour. They were the first to reap the harvest of war and would say anything to stop him. Deciding he had wasted enough time with the pointless debate, he excused his advisor and mounted his horse. Reining his stallion East, the journey began.

The Cave of Dreams nestled within the Eastern volcanic range, by the foot of the tallest mountain in the snow-capped massif. From the ruins of Vita, he rode through the pine-dense timberland, crossed pebble-shored rivers, edged around slippery cliffs, before reaching the valleys of the mounts. The tallest of the mounts rose at the head of the range–the colossal grey rock was both daunting and magnificent. But unlike its siblings lined behind it–all birthed from the same phenomenon–it homed the gift only bestowed upon the first born: the cave.

From above the valley, the cave was invisible to the human eye. But as the entourage descended into the first basin, stirring with a bone-chilling breeze, the cave made its presence known. Its mouth, as wide as his kingdom’s iron gate, opened to an unwelcoming darkness. No sound escaped its cracking lip. Nothing living grew within. If he was a common boy, who had never faced death, he would’ve rode by without hesitation. Unfortunately, he was a king–owning a list of enemies before he even became a man.

Dismounting his steed, he strode to the mouth of the cave. But as his men lit their torches, ready to go before him, he had the strangest thought. It wasn’t his own–or at least, it didn’t feel like his own.

Taking a blazing torch, he said, “I’m going alone.” The captain of his army parted his lips, but before the soldier could insist, he repeated, “I’m going alone.”

His men knew not to challenge him. Retreating to their horses–possibly wondering if his nine year-old brother could fill his shoes should he never return–he turned his back toward them. Then, with determination to break the curse, he pushed forward.

He had no fear. He had seen darkness far more consuming than the one before him. He had swam in silence far more lifeless than the hollow engulfing him. He lost his soul at the age of twelve, when the weight of the crown was placed upon his fragile shoulders. And though he had feared death for the past three years, he didn’t fear it anymore. With each step he took, he set his eyes on salvation. But, how many steps were there? The walk down the burrow felt like an endless journey. The entrance of the cave had long vanished–only blackness surrounded him. When he finally spoke, as a question to himself, he found the answer.

“When does this end?” he murmured.

“It ends… when you want it to end,” a deep voice echoed.

“Are you the beast?” he asked the disembodied voice.     

“I am… what you want me to be.”

“Then grant me a wish, as the people say you will do.”

“What do you wish for?”

“I wish to be human.”

“Human? You look human.”

“I am not. There’s a curse upon my family–the men who wear the crown become monsters on the battlefield.”

“Then… take off the crown.”

“I can’t–I will only be passing the curse to my brother.”

“I will grant your wish, if you take off the crown.”

“You will break the curse?”

“Yes.”

“Very well.”

Without contemplation, he lifted the gold, ruby-encrusted crown off his head and placed it on the uneven ground.

“Good. Now,” the voice said, “wake up.”

He opened his eyes. The bright light, streaming through the window of his doctor’s office, blinded him for a second.

“How do you feel?” his doctor asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied, blinking his eyes into focus. “Am I supposed to be a different person?”

“Hypnotherapy doesn’t reflect immediately after a session. Let’s see how your week goes before we give it another try.”

“Sure. I can do that.”

His doctor grinned, before swiftly scribbling on a page in a leather-bound book.

“What are you writing?” he asked.

“You said, you can do that.”

“Is that… odd?”

His doctor merely smiled. “I’ll see you next week. Same time?”

“Sure, doc. I can do that too.”

____________________________________________________________________

12 Genre Months © 2018 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.

(Click HERE for the list of stories in this writing challenge.)

Fan Fiction (Novel)

FHB: Chapter 28

FHB Chapter 28

It was a letter, one he wrote and mailed out with no idea if it would reach its recipient. He had to use his own owl to play it safe but he was not even sure if his owl would be able to make the delivery. The only thing he was sure of, was that his letter was well written, if one could even consider ‘I need a favour’ as well written. At least he knew nothing could go wrong if a stranger read it.

After that night with Severus, Lucius did two things; one was the vague letter and the other was making Severus swear to secrecy. The secret was not regarding the Dark Lord but his father. Severus swore on his own father, which Lucius knew carried little weight as he did it without blinking. But Lucius decided to trust him anyway. After all, he didn’t have a choice. As for the conversation about the Dark Lord, Lucius told him to be patient. One day, Severus will get his chance to meet the Dark lord; one day when he’s older.

Lucius had took upon himself the duty of making sure Severus was far from this dark world as possible. He would hate to admit it, but he wanted to give Severus some form of childhood. Severus might think it glorious to fight for the Dark Lord, but having grown up in a family always surrounded by the ‘cause’, Lucius knew there was not a single ounce of fun or glory in it all. Sure, Lucius would continue to do the Dark Lord’s bidding and recruit children, but he would decide how much these children would be exposed to.

A whole week after those secrets were shared, Lucius did not see his feathered friend. Lucius was almost convinced that the Dark Lord could not be reached at that moment. So when his owl finally returned with a letter, Lucius assumed it was his own. It was only when he untied the letter that he realized the envelope was of different material. With scepticism, Lucius tore the envelope open and read its contents.

‘Let’s meet. Same place.’

The letter felt so familiar. Assuming that the letter was referring to Potage Cauldron Shop, was it implying that he would be meeting with his father again? Dread immediately swept over him, as he had no intentions of meeting his father. But just like the previous letter, Lucius had not choice but to go with it.

When the weekend visit to Hogsmead arrived, Lucius joined his friends before excusing himself as usual. None of his so-called friends questioned him, even though he knew they were very curious. He could only hope that none decided to follow him out of curiosity. Killing the cat would be so messy.

Just like before, the cauldron shop was empty. There was no one at the counter and the back door was slightly ajar. Lucius did not hesitate as he descended the steps leading towards the dark basement. When he was at the bottom, he pulled out his wand ready to chase the darkness away, but before he could, the basement door slammed shut. Lucius jumped at the sudden sound before the hair on his nape began to stand.

“I’ve been waiting,” a voice said, cutting through the silence.

Lucius recognized it, and it was not his father’s. There was also a soft hissing that floated around the room, and Lucius immediately knew he was in the presence of the Dark Lord.

“I came as fast as I could,” Lucius replied.

“Have you spoken to any of your friends about me?”

“One, but there will be more,” Lucius said, wishing there was a hint of light to tell him where the Dark Lord was at.

“Good. What is this favour you need, Lucius?” the Dark Lord asked in a rather friendly manner.

“My father, he has been cursed.”

“I know.”

Lucius could not help but wonder why the Dark Lord did nothing to help his father. What was the Dark Lord’s definition of loyalty?

“Can you help him?”

“I can, but it won’t be easy. The curse he acquired while he failed to do my bidding is a dark one.”

That was why the Dark Lord was not lending a helping hand. His father had failed a bidding and not helping was his punishment.

“I’ll do anything. Please help my father.”

“You’ve done a lot for me Lucius,” the Dark Lord stated.

There must have been a reason for that statement, because it made Lucius foolishly think he did not have to do anything for that favour. Just when he thought it was really a ‘favour’ as per the original definition, the Dark Lord redefined it.

“But I need you to do one extra thing, if you want me to save your father,” the Dark Lord added.

Holding back a disappointed sigh, Lucius asked, “What do I need to do?”

“I need you to join my Death Eaters on a special mission.”

“What kind of a mission?”

“A mission to strike an agreement with my hooded friends. I think you know them as Dementors.”

Lucius swallowed hard at the sound of what he needed to do. It was a special mission all right, because Dementors were not creatures to be messed with.

“I-I have school,” Lucius managed a reply.

“I know what to do. School will not be a problem, unless… you’re using it as an excuse. If so, I will not help your father.”

Lucius stood in the darkness, not sure on what to do. He wouldn’t be alone on the mission, so everything would be fine… right? It was stupid to even consider his next thought, but was his father worth it? Two things could happen with his decision, either his father looses his soul or Lucius looses his.

To Be Continue…

(Leave a comment below or vote on whether should accept the mission or decline it!)

Original Works

Curse Of Royals

Curse of Royals

I sat on a cracked windowsill, watching the stars in the night sky. My legs dangled high above the mad waves that crashed against large deathly rocks, but that did not bother me. I was immune to the danger. Nothing could kill me, so I feared nothing.

As my mind drifted off to what my life was, I wondered if I would have done things differently. The answer was always the same; a definite ‘yes’. But despite my desire to relive my life, I knew I couldn’t. Curses don’t give you second chances, especially curses you inflict upon yourself.

Let me start from the very beginning.

I was born into a well to do family, with riches and power. My family ruled a kingdom with my father as king. Since the day I was born, I was pampered, loved, protected and treated the way a princess should be treated. Commoners would have said I had the perfect life, but I saw it differently. Everyday, I woke up to the thought of being shortchanged of being a royal. I had 4 older brothers and 2 older sisters, which made me the 7th in line for the throne. Unless all of them died, I was never going to rule.

Call me greedy, call me envious, but I really wanted the throne. I was not going to kill my siblings unlike the others I know, but I was planning to out live them. So, when I was old enough to leave the palace to take strolls among the people, I began searching for a way to live forever… or at least until all my siblings died. Yes, it was a foolish quest, as you may probably know that my siblings would not die without leaving heirs. But at that time, it did not dawn on me.

After years of search, I finally found a witch who offered immortality. She was very clear on how it worked but I was too blinded by jealousy to see how destructive it was. As I sat in her small cabin in the forest, the witch explained, “Take a drop of your brothers’ and sisters’ blood and boil it with pig’s fat. Then add a drop of your own blood into the concoction and drink it. The next day, you would be immortal.”

“That simple?” I asked, wondering why I did not have to chant a spell.

“I wouldn’t call it simple. But be warned, this is not a blessing.

“It’s not good-”

“No, it’s bad. It’s known as the curse of royals. The old kings used it on treacherous brothers.”

“Why is immortality a curse?” I asked with a chuckle.

“Because this immortality does not protect you from pain. If you are wounded, your wounds won’t heal until you chant a spell, a very long spell for that matter.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure I know how to protect myself. Thank you for your time,” I said. I gave the witch a bag of gold as a consultation fee and left.

A month later, I placed the curse on myself and saw it as a gift. But as the years went by, I realized the witch was right. The spell to heal wounds was long and difficult to pronounce under pain, and living forever while I watched my brothers produce heirs that pushed me further away from the throne was tearing me up inside. I was never going to be crowned ruler no matter how long I lived, and I was losing out in life.

I never found a charming prince to marry, my family shunned me when they discovered my secret, and when I left home, I was alone for many years. There was no need to feed myself but that was the only purpose I had in life. So I wondered, hunted, and questioned my existence. I thought that I was going to live like that forever, but a few years ago I stumbled upon a royal like myself.

Home was now oceans away and this young looking prince offered me a new home. We related to each other through the black scars on our bodies that came from wounds healed from a spell. When he introduced himself as Prince Kalton, the 11th son of King Aton, ruler of Withermore, I knew his story immediately. Both he and I were the result of envy.

You might think something exciting happened after that, but my story ends there. Everyday is the same, waking up and watching the sun till it sets, then watching the moon until I fall asleep. Everyday is as uneventful as the day before, but just as I was about to conclude the same for today, I heard a scream.

Turning to see who it was, I saw Prince Kalton dragging Prince Jaer up the tower steps and into the circular room. As he dropped the bloody prince on the ground, Princess Frey brought in Prince Jaer’s arm.

“What happened?” I asked, not at all surprised.

“He went back and threatened his grand nephew again,” Princess Frey answered as she threw the arm on the ground.

“Don’t! Throw! My! Arm!” Prince Jaer shrieked.

Prince Kalton was the kindest of us all as he picked the arm and placed it where it should have been. He then waved us over to help speed up the spell. Reluctantly, I helped.

Once the spell was done and Prince Jaer had his arm reattached to his body, he began to weep. We all left him then, and I returned to the windowsill. As his sobs echoed down the ‘royal’ tower, tears began escaping my eyes. No matter how tough I had grown over the years, I still cried when one of us sobbed. Those tears are a reminder of the life I could have had; a life happy and mortal, a life I lost to envy.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Envy is known as an insatiable desire that pushes individuals to covet what they cannot have. Just like a royal too far from the crown, he/she feeds their desire by finding ways to obtain it. Some kill and some curse, but at the end of the day, the one that suffers is the one that’s envious.

Chasing after what you cannot have blinds you to what you can have. You miss out on all the good things in life because you’re so focused on that one thing. When you finally come to your senses, you are only left with regret for the time and opportunities wasted. Simply put, envy is not your friend… it’s your enemy.

Well, this short story wraps up the 7 Deadly Sins collection. If you have not read the rest, head on to the short stories page and check them out. And as always, let me know what you think of this story in the comments below!

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

Original Works

The Idol

The Idol

I had just returned from my trip to India when I found an idol sitting in front of my house door. It was made of dark wood with ruby eyes and cupped hands. I had no idea who left it, and living up to my own conviction of never bringing a foreign item home, I decided to step over it as I entered my house.

As a professor with a dream of being a full time archaeologist, I’ve read enough books and watched enough Indiana Jones to know that artefacts belong in a museum, not a home. There are a few reasons for that and one being superstition. I was never superstitious, but I found no reason against being a little careful when dealing with artefacts. After all, curses are real.

The following day, I left my house with the idol still at the front door. I was not going to touch it until I knew who left it. So during class that day, I asked if any of my students decided to leave me a gift. When no one lifted up their hand, I promised extra credit. Still, not a single hand was raised. I admired their honesty but I also hated not knowing the origins of the idol. By the end of the day, no one claimed to have left me the idol and I was forced to step over it once again.

That very night, I could not fall asleep. Something did not feel right and it was churning uneasiness within me. I tossed and turned, and even played a sea breeze track to calm me down, but nothing worked. After an hour or so of attempting to sleep, I heard something that got me to my feet. It was the sound of three knocks on my front door.

Don’t ask me how I heard it or why I got up to answer it. Even though I remember heading downstairs and opening the door to nobody, I still do not know why I did it. I regretted it of course, because that night I took the idol in. Strangely, once it was in my house I managed to sleep the moment I hit the bed.

When the following morning arrived, I woke up feeling rather horrible at the lack of sleep. But I managed to pull myself together as I headed to work. During the first class, I snapped at five students and blamed it on the lack of caffeine in my blood. Once that day was over, I went to bed not at all thinking about the idol.

The next day, I had a meeting with the school board. I spent the whole morning touching up my trip report, but when I presented it, the board was not impressed. In fact, they were appalled at my writing. When I reread my report, I found it horribly written and did not understand why. Did my ‘touching up’ make it bad? At that moment, I could not even recall writing it. I usually wrote my reports way in advance, but this time I don’t even know if I did.

What I was going through seemed rather ordinary when I spoke to a fellow colleague. He said stress had its way of messing with my head, but when I claimed I was not stressed he told me to take a few days off.  After our conversation, I began to ponder on his words. Something was indeed messing with my head, and at that thought everything clicked.

The moment I returned home, I went looking for the idol. There was nothing wrong with me before I brought it in, and the problems only started after I did. I was sure the idol had a hand to play in everything that happened the past few days. But after searching for a few hours, I could not find it. I turned my house upside down but the idol was nowhere in sight. After exhausting myself, I decided to look for it the next day.

Dragging myself to my room, I was hoping for one peaceful night. Sadly, I was kidding no one. Just as I shut my eyes, I was pulled from the darkness by a splitting pain in my chest. It was so painful I literally rolled out of my bed and crawled to my phone. I called 911 immediately and then I called a friend. I told him to come over and find the idol, as I still believed it was the cause of everything. When he and the ambulance arrived, I was immediately taken to the hospital. I don’t really remember much of the journey, because the pain was crushing my insides. All I do remember is wanting for it to stop.

Once at the hospital, a doctor checked my pulse and asked what I was feeling. Despite him repeating the question over and over again, I turned to my friend and kept muttering about the idol. My friend shook his head and said there wasn’t any, but I insisted he was wrong. I insisted until I was deemed out of control and had to be sedated.

One would think that being sedated puts you at rest, but my experience was quite the opposite. I was still in pain, my head was spinning, and there were voices screaming at me. In the darkness of my eyelids, I searched for the idol but it made no appearance. When I finally gave up and prayed for the pain in my chest to stop, a moment of clarity hit me. Was it really all my own doing and not the idol? Just as I was willing to accept any reason for my situation, the pain vanished.

Suddenly, it was all over. Whatever the reason was no longer mattered. Why? Because the flat tone from the heartbeat machine stopped it all. I was no longer living to feel anything. There was nothing left, except for one thought; I let the idol in… and it killed me.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Wrath works like this: First, it finds a situation that agitates you into feeling angry. Once you give in and let anger in, it then finds every opportunity to show itself. The more anger you release, the more it lives in you. As you let it grow it begins to affect your emotions and thoughts, and eventually it attacks your heart. Wrath is a curse that affects you mentally, emotionally, and physically. The moment you let it in and allow it to make home in you, it’s going to take over. To be safe, never let anger in. Just step over it.

This short story is part of my 7 deadly sins series. If you have not read the rest and would like to, visit the short story page, hover your mouse over the titles, and click on the one that says ‘7 deadly sins’.

Anyway, do let me know what you think of this story in the comments below! I really appreciate the feedback 🙂

© 2014 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

Original Works

As Silent As Day

as silent as day

A ghost town, that was what most people thought when they rode past Old Dune. But those who actually lived in this little cowboy town knew the dead silence only reigned in the day. For when night came, the saloon would overflow with guffaws and the dusty streets would light up with songs and food. Old Dune was the quietest town when the sun was up, but the liveliest one when the moon clocks in.

I grew up in Old Dune. My father was the town sheriff and my grandfather before him. My older brother was to continue the family tradition, and that made me a little envious as a child. Unlike my brave and outspoken brother, I was known as the boy that pored over mystery novels with an imagination that would make people laugh. But even so, not all my imaginations were tickling.

These imaginations came from a secret Old Dune cleverly hid. But if you are as unfortunate as me, then you would know that every end of the month, the bell tower would ring and everyone would skip the partying to hide in their homes. The day after that would be a day of mourning as we bury the dead of the on going massacre. Who killed our people on those still nights? No one knows.

Growing up, the image of the killer was a ghastly sand beast entering houses and choking people to death. But that was just my imagination; reality could be far more horrifying… as horrifying as the day I woke up to find my father dead.

It was a scorching morning when my mother’s screams filled the air. My brother and I rushed to her side and wept with her the moment we saw our father’s pale face. Soon after my father’s burial, my brother took my father’s place as town sheriff. But five years after my brother took the post, I woke up to my mother’s screams once again.

As I comforted my mother who was beginning to go paranoid, I was approached to take up the post as sheriff. It did not take me long to decide as I wanted to make my father and brother proud. But unlike them, my first mission was to find the murderer and end the horror once and for all.

I did not tell anyone about my mission, as everyone would think it was a waste of time. There were many who attempted to solve the mystery before me, but none found the answers. Most went with the notion that Old Dune was cursed and would continue to stay cursed for hundreds of years to come.

Though many found it easy to accept such a fate, I was not one of them. So the first week in office, I went through old files of crime cases and deaths. But the unorganized trunk full of dusty parchments did not help, as it was hard connecting the dots when everything was scattered. After the week was up, I found nothing. When I knew I could not neglect my real duties, I juggled between keeping the peace and my research. It was not until I attended the mayor’s birthday that something finally clicked.

The mayor threw a grand feast in the main street of my town. I was there with my deputy, keeping an eye out for any trouble. Being so predictable, three men found their drunken heads out of the saloon and stirred up a fight. Soon, I had to shoot my pistol in the air and lock them in a cell for the night. Two weeks after that, the bell tower rang and the following morning was greeted with three deaths. They weren’t the same drunkards, but the coincidence sparked me to dig deeper.

I went back to reading parchments until I found a report on two murders. It dated over a hundred years ago and it read, ‘Two girls were raped and murdered by five men. The girls were daughters of a travelling native couple that left the town soon after.’ It was such a short report, but from what I had, I formed a theory that I immediately tested.

That month, I put 2 men in the cell and let off 4 boys with a warning. When the end of the month arrived, the hair on my nape rose at the official death count of six. Though my theory proved true, I kept it to myself to investigate further.

A few months later, a grand wedding of a wealthy old man and a young girl took place. The ceremony in the morning was rather peaceful, but by night chaos broke lose. Everyone had too much of everything and a fight took place. It was one that I could not even control with firing my gun, but it eventually stopped when more than half of the town were either too bruised or too tired to throw another punch.

After that day, a new fear arose within me. It was not the fear of my mother losing her life when the end of the month came, it was the fear that there would not be a town left when it was all over. When the day arrived for me to face that fear, I stayed in my office and waited for it. Maybe I could convince whatever it was to stop? I thought.

Unlike the previous night, there was a foreboding silence in the air. There was no wind to hint death’s arrival and not a single sound to give a warning. I sat facing the window, which looked down the main street, and waited impatiently. Then, when the clock ticked two, I saw something heading down the street. Braving myself to meet the enemy, I took a lit lantern and exited my safe house. I stood at the steps watching it come closer, and when it got close enough I finally knew what it was.

Standing not too far away from me were two young girls. They were made of sand, yet everything about them was so clearly defined… everything but their faces, that is. At the sight of the faceless girls, I stood frozen in fear with sweat trickling down my forehead on that chilly night. Strangely, the two girls stood frozen as well, as though waiting for me to defend my town.

“I-I beg you,” I said with a croak. “Please, please stop.”

Being they had no lips, they remained silent to my plea. But after a few minutes, an eerie whisper floated to my ear. It said, “It ends tonight.”

The voice sounded as though it came from behind, so I spun around immediately. When a small relief greeted me with the absence of death, I turned back only to see the two girls dispersing into a trail of sand that shot towards the houses.

Not thinking twice, I ran straight to my own house. I eventually past the trail of sand, but I did not turn to see if it followed. When I finally made it home, I stumbled up the steps and stood blocking my front door. If I could not protect my town, I could at least protect my mother.

It did not take long for the dusty death sentence to sweep through the houses and make its way to mine. The moment I saw it exit the house across the street, I held my breath. No, it was not a ghastly beast, but terror still resided in me as I watched it stop at the wooden steps. A second later, it shot straight towards me and when it was inches from my face it began forming odd shapes like a contortionist in a freak show.

At that moment I was ready to accept death, but at the same time, it surprisingly decided to spare me and sharply turned towards the next house instead. Exhaling as though I nearly drowned, I was filled with relief of being spared. Unfortunately, everyone else was not.

When the ‘curse’ was finally done, it shot into the sky and an intangible wind blew it away. It was right. That night was its last, and nights at Old Dune would forever be as silent as day.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

This one is pretty long and I didn’t expect it to be. I did expect it to be pretty predictable though, so I’m guessing most of you already know which deadly sin this is. Yes, it’s gluttony. Gluttony was not the easiest sin to write about, being that it is uncommon yet common at the same time, but I did try my best 🙂

As the story shows, gluttony is more than just ‘overdoing’ something. The moment we ‘overdo’, we don’t just harm ourselves but others around us. The innocent bystanders are affected whenever we overindulge, overspend, overreact, etc. Gluttony may not seem like such a big ‘sin’ to be considered deadly, but the fact that it is an act that causes harm to others, on top of the harm that it does to us, justifies its deadliness. So the next time we want to overdo something, let’s take a step back and see if it would do more harm than good, because the moment we do it, we have no control over what happens next.

Well as always, let me know what you think of this short story in the comments below!

© 2013 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

Original Works

Beautiful Monster

Beautiful Monster

I can still remember what happened.

I don’t remember everything, of course, but what I remember are the worst parts.

It was a Sunday night. I was driving home, after a little reunion with my university friends, when a freak explosion in a petrol station sent my car flipping sideways and on to the opposite lane.

My memory is still fresh with the sight of flames engulfing my car and the strange feeling of being pushed into the air by the heat waves. When my car made a full 360° flip and landed on the ground, I thought it was over. But before relief could sweep in, I knew I was wrong.

Cars were swerving to avoid me, and even though the road was not as heavy as it was on a Monday morning, there were enough cars to cause chaos and panic. It was terrifying to be stuck in a car while many others  approached head on in your direction.

Strangely, I don’t remember screaming or attempting to free myself at that time. I was awake, yes, but I felt powerless. In those few minutes, as I held my breath hoping not to be killed, I lost my consciousness.

The last thing I can recall is looking down at my seatbelt, and everything went black after that. I never really knew how I ended up in the hospital and what had happened to me, until a nurse told me about it.

A truck was not able to swerve in time and it crashed into my car. I was trapped for hours and when they got me out, I was barely alive. How I wished I wasn’t.

I knew I should be thankful for being alive, and I was, until I met my doctor. As I lay on my hospital bed, unable to move, my doctor told me I suffered from broken bones, minor burns, and disfigurement. That explained the bandage on my face and the strange feeling in my lips. But that news never hit me until a few days later, and that was when I stopped seeing him.

He had been by my side since I was admitted to the hospital. He never left… until I forced him to. He kept assuring me that I would look fine and that he still wanted to marry me, but I convinced myself it was a lie. He had not seen my face, neither had I, and I had a bad feeling I was never going to look ‘fine’ ever again.

After he was gone, I was all alone in bearing the horrible news. I would cry every night and dream of ripping the tubes from my body so that I could die. I even tried to suffocate myself once, but I backed out at the last minute. I was so afraid of the day where I had to remove the cloth and look at myself. Would I recognize me? Could I live with me? Will I be able to accept myself?

That dreaded day soon came and when the nurse placed a mirror on my lap, I hesitated for a very long time.  I remember watching my shaking hand reach for the mirror, and I remember regretting it.

When I saw myself, I was too shock to look away. I was ugly; my lips were not where it once was, my nose was crooked, and the flesh on my right cheek was stitched on as though it had fell off before. I hated myself and that was not me. I immediately went into a frenzy and screamed at my doctor to give me back my face.

“This is not me!” I yelled, over and over again. They had to calm me down with sedatives

The next day, a nurse told me he was waiting to see me. She said family and friends will help me get through this nightmare if only I let them in.

I told her ‘no’. How was I going to face them when I could not even face myself? How could I bear the sympathetic looks and the shocked expressions? I knew many would have to put up an act when approaching the hideous creature that I am, and I knew they will never look at me the same again.

This person, lying in the hospital, is no longer Christeen. This person is a monster. That was what I told myself day and night, and I soon believed it wholeheartedly.

When I was finally able to get back on my feet and return to the real world, I ran from my family and the man I loved. I started going for all the plastic surgery I could afford, just to fix this ugly face. But none of them did much, as it seemed like my entire future was now scarred with the curse of an accident.

All was lost at that time. I dreamt of happiness once in a while, but reality crushed it. Reality kept squeezing me up against a corner until I pinned my last drop of hope on my final attempt at plastic surgery.

I can still clearly remember sitting on the bed and getting my face unwrapped. I was hoping that I would look better this time, but when I saw my reflection I threw the mirror against the wall. I screamed and demanded my money back, but the doctor said it was the best he could do. I couldn’t accept his answer, but I managed to pull myself together before the nurses had to pull out a needle.

Everyone left me after that, and I thought I was alone again. But just as I was about to drown myself in hopelessness, I heard my room door open. I immediately demanded for privacy until I saw who it was. He was walking towards my bed and I quickly hid my face in the pillow.

“Get out! I don’t want to see you!” I said.

“But I want to see you,” he replied.

“Just get out!” I yelled. I was ready to call for a nurse when he reached for my hand.

“Christeen, would you look at me?” he asked in a gentle voice.

I did not answer. I really wanted to look at him and to see his face. It had been so long since I last saw him and my heart was aching to turn to him. But my mind told me not to.

“Christeen, I don’t care how you look like. I just want to see you. I’ve missed you so much.”

I attempted to pull my hand free from his gentle grasps, but instead he pulled me. He managed to pull me up into a sitting position, and I was angry. I didn’t know why, but I was so angry.

“You want to see me?!” I yelled. “Well, look at me now!”

His concerned expression did not change into horror when he laid his eyes on mine. He just looked at me so intently as though he was looking at a painting he admired.

When he took a seat on my bed, he wiped the tears that began rolling down my cheeks. What he did next shocked me, as he cupped my face in his hands and planted a soft kiss on my lips.

For a brief moment, I thought I was dreaming. I wanted the moment to last, so I shut my eyes and hoped it would not end. But of course it did, and when he finally pulled away, I heard him whisper, “You’re beautiful.”

My ears could have deceived me, but when I opened my eyes, he was still there. Only then I realized that he had never once left me, and in his eyes… I was always beautiful.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

We are all beautiful. Our emotional scars, past hurts, bad decisions and everything that might make us a monster cannot take away our true beauty. Even if no one else thinks you are beautiful, SOMEONE does.

They say beauty is skin deep, I say beauty is soul deep. Despite our flaws and failures, we are beautiful. No one and nothing can change who we really are inside and that is all that matters.

If only we all know how precious we are, we would not hurt ourselves and drive the world away. If only we all know that someone cares, we wouldn’t beat ourselves up for our past. We are not perfect beings, but we all have a value. It’s time we all believed it!

Well, as always, leave a comment and let me know what you think of this story!

© 2013 Jeyna Grace

(For more short stories, click HERE)

Fan Fiction (Novel)

FHB: Chapter 4

FHB Chapter 4

“Hey, why don’t we ditch the crowd and I’ll show you around?” Lucius suggested.

“I can’t do that!” Tanya answered with an expression of shock.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot you’re a mudblood,” Lucius replied, hoping it would change her mind.

“If a mudblood means doing the right thing, then I would rather be a mudblood,” Tanya stated, before she turned on her heels and went back to her duty.

Lucius was left standing with an eyebrow raised. He concluded that she was a goody two-shoes despite being almost completely ignorant. Lucius convinced himself that that little failed attempt was not entirely a failure as he had learned Tanya’s weakness. This made him rather sure that the next time he acted, it would not be a failure.

As he slumped onto the sofa in the Slytherin common room that night, he heard a couple of fellow 5th year Slytherins murmuring about a surprise potions test. Lucius had not heard of it, so he eavesdropped a little.

The test was supposedly happening within the next few classes and those 5th years were terrified. According to their source, which Lucius doubted was at all reliable, the test would determine if they were required to take extra classes. Well, that made Lucius shrug and turn his attention else where.

Lucius was rather good at potions and Professor Slughorn always complimented him. He had never failed a test, but that was because Slughorn often whispered tips in Lucius’ ear when other students weren’t around. That was a perk of being in the Slug Club and a teacher’s pet. The test would be a piece of cake, as long as he continued being Slughorn’s favourite.

The next morning, classes commenced. Slytherin and Ravenclaw had potions as their first class together, and Lucius was determined to hear a tip before the class ended. As he and his so called friends waited outside the classroom, Tanya came up to them with a wide smile.

“Good day!” Tanya greeted.

She was carrying a few thick books in her hand that were completely unrelated to their first subject.

“Ready for class? I’m so excited!” Tanya added.

“I’m always ready,” Lucius replied as he casually slid his hands into his pockets.

None of the other Slytherins said a word as they gave Tanya expressionless stares.

“Your friends are not very friendly are they?” Tanya leaned in and whispered.

“Where are YOUR friends?” Lucius asked in reply.

Lucius had noticed Tanya alone during breakfast and she was also alone now. Had she not made any friends yesterday?

“Friends? I’ll make friends today,” Tanya answered with a smile.

Tanya started looking around her, as though looking for someone to befriend, when she pointed at a Gryffindor girl standing alone.

“I could be her friend,” Tanya told herself out loud.

“Are you sure?” Lucius asked, as an ingenious idea came to mind.

“Yup, why not?” Tanya innocently asked.

“Are you sure you want to pass your mudblood curse to her?”

“Mudblood curse?” Tanya sounded confused.

“Yea. Whoever you talk to is at risk of getting it. It’s dangerous you know,” Lucius said seriously. This immediately caught the attention of his fellow Slytherins around him.

“But I’m talking to you!” Tanya gasped.

“Well…” Lucius had not thought of a reply for that. Thankfully, Tanya added, “You are such a good friend!”

“Er, yea, I am,” Lucius said with a shrug.

“And I don’t even know your name!” Tanya said in such an alarming tone that heads turned to their direction.

“It’s Lucius,” Lucius simply replied as he took a few steps away from her.

It did not help that all eyes were now on them and no matter how many steps he took backwards, she took the same number of steps forward.

“You are such a good friend Lucius! You said you knew a cure for mudbloods, would you help me?”

“Sure, after class,” Lucius quickly answered.

Professor Slughorn had just arrived and Lucius quickly hurried into class leaving Tanya behind.

Class went pretty well despite Tanya smiling at him every time he looked at her direction. Just as he had expected, Slughorn did spill the beans on the surprise test while everyone was gathering ingredients for the day’s potion. The test was unsurprisingly a polyjuice potion, which would only be taught in his 6th year. Professor Slughorn loved ‘challenging’ his students, or at least that was what he said.

Lucius knew it was not going to be an easy test, and it would take more than just showing up. He needed to get his hands on the instructions, not just any instruction but the one Slughorn wrote down himself. That was the only one that wouldn’t mess up, and he intended on memorizing it before an ugly cauldron is placed into his arms (Slughorn never allowed personal cauldrons during tests).

Now the tough question was, how was he going to get it? He was definitely not going to do the dirty work himself. Just then, Tanya walked past him and said, “Look! I’ve got porcupine quills!”

Lucius immediately knew it was either her or a scared first year.

To Be Continued…

(Leave a comment or vote on whether Lucius should get Tanya to do it, or find someone else more trustworthy!)

Fan Fiction (Novel)

Chapter 36

Chapter36

Joanna ran into the streets, right in the middle of firing spells.

Joanna concluded it was impossible to find Tom, when she saw all of those on his side. They all dressed in black with a mask over their faces. What she was told earlier, on there being only 30, Joanna knew there was a major miscalculation. The ministry and the opposing force were equally numbered, heck, they were possibly outnumbered.

How did Tom gather such an army? Joanna asked herself as she attempted to run out of the crossfire. She fired a couple of spells and defended many more as she tried looking for Tom.

It was a stupid idea to even attempt a search, but Joanna was stubborn as a mule. She was not meant to be in this fight but now she was. Soon, she found herself trying not to die, and her previous goal was abandoned. One spell after another, Joanna could not even take a breather. There were just too many of them, and a rainbow of deadly spells were constantly above her head.

Joanna was certain she couldn’t keep up and tried to flee from the angry clash of good and bad, but being right in the middle of it all, Joanna was stuck. She was physically stuck, and her position was all too familiar.

She was stuck in the middle all these years, with Tom being bad and her desire to be good. It was only then, did she realize that she was never going to be able to get out of it. Because no matter how hard she tried, every turn led her right back to the center.

I can’t do this anymore, Joanna thought. She wanted to give up, and not realizing it, she stopped firing spells.

“What are you doing?” someone shouted at her.

Among the screams and yells, Joanna wasn’t sure who that was.

“Joanna!” the same person shouted at her, before grabbing her wrists and pulling her deeper into the crowd of masked men and women.

Oddly enough, she did not even struggle. Was it at all wise to be walking towards the enemy?

By the time she realized it, she was already behind enemy lines. And then, Tom pulled off his mask and yelled, “Get out of here! Now!”

“Come with me!” Joanna replied immediately.

“No. You have to go!”

“I won’t go without you!”

“Joanna, please!”

“Tom, I can’t leave you,” Joanna said.

The enemy’s line was slowly retreating and they found themselves in the battlefield again. Joanna could see the struggle in his eyes and she was certain he would go with her. But her hope of saving him was trampled when someone called at Tom from behind her.

Joanna quickly turned to see who it was, and when she did, she did not know how to react.

Dumbledore had his wand pointed at Tom with a merciless look on his face.

“End this now, boy!” Dumbledore ordered.

Tom laughed and replied, “Make me!”

Dumbledore raised his wand above his head before bringing it forward with a spell. Joanna watched as a string of green light escaped the tip of Dumbledore’s wand. It traveled right towards Tom, and as though time had slowed down, Joanna saw how unready Tom was for the spell. Not thinking twice, Joanna pushed him out of the way and took the hit for him.

No, it was not the killing curse. It was something else. Probably Dumbledore’s very own spell. A pain shot through her body from where the spell hit her. It reminded her like the Cruciatus curse, but this one was different. Joanna screamed as she felt the pain travel through every vein in her body. It was still bearable until it shot out from every direction, like growing thorns along its branches. And those thorns felt as though they were piercing through her skin from the inside out.

In the midst of the on going chaos both externally and internally, Joanna felt someone pick her up and within a blink of an eye, the shouting of spells sounded distant. Her eyes were watering and sight of where she was, was nearly impossible. All she could think of was dying, because the pain was ripping her apart, literally.

She could feel her blood trickle down her arms and her clothes were getting damp. Those thorns really ripped through her skin as puncture wounds started forming.

Who would cast such a spell on anyone? Joanna thought.

As the thorns made their way to her chest, breathing became too difficult. She found herself suffocating on top of the agonizing pain.

“You’ll be o.k. Don’t worry,” a faint voice said.

Joanna attempted to reply but her throat had tightened up. No matter what that person said, Joanna knew she was not going to be o.k, and all she wanted was to see Tom, even if it was for the last time. But if indeed she was taken by her fellow colleagues, Joanna knew her dying wish was never coming true, and the pain in her heart became far worse than the thorns.

To Be Continued…