Web of Lies – a microstory

Their hold on me had long since loosened. 

One year had passed since I walked out the door. I was beginning to feel like my own person, like I’d finally escaped their spider’s web. 

I didn’t realize until it was too late that I had replaced theirs with my own.



Image Source: imgur

Hopeless Conviction

Image by _Marion from Pixabay

If I could change one thing, it would be sharpening that knife. I had never needed it that sharp before, but then again, the shadows were becoming bolder too.

Dusk was settling into dark, when I handed it to Terra. I barely knew her. She looked maybe twelve. But I sensed the same magic in her as I had. 

She was all arms and legs and not much else. Her hollow cheeks were nothing compared to the protruding rib cage beneath her paper thin shirt. She survived, it seemed, for years on the streets. I’m sure she had a sad story to tell, but I was more interested in how she endured. And how the shadows had not taken her. 

I took her to Marnie’s Diner. The dulled street sign let out a cantankerous hum, challenging whatever electric god it served. Marnie stood behind the counter in the empty restaurant, her hands hidden under the benchtop, probably holding the shotgun I’d given her.

Marnie’s shoulders relaxed, “Boy, am I glad to see you today, Fox! We gotta lotta activity in tha street this evenin’.”

I wondered if Terra was to blame for that.

“Good health to you, Marn,” I smiled at her. “This is Terra.”

“Hey there, sweetpea,” she said. 

I led Terra to my normal spot and let Marnie feed her.

Marnie’s Diner sat on a crossroads. Most businesses closed before this hour, but today, the florist looked open. His robust frame stood motionless in the doorway.

I leaned over at Terra and whispered. “This place is safe, but it has its limits. Keep that blade close.”

Her eyes gave away no terror, only understanding. She glanced at the bar and back at me.

“She’s good,” I explained. “Marnie and her husband were clients of mine.”

“You help people,” she said, stating a fact. I wondered how long she had watched me before asking for my help.

I nodded.

“How?”

“Magic,” I whispered.

Movement caught my eye. Four more shadows appeared at the florist. 

I pushed myself out of the seat.

“Listen, kid. There’s no time. The shadows. They want you. They want you because you’re like me, only you don’t know it yet.”

I could see the gargoyles now. From above, they controlled the shadowmen with puppet-strings. 

“I can protect you, but you have to do exactly as I say, okay?”

A sixth man dropped in the middle of the street. His hunched form and deformed hands told me he was the leader, and the human-puppet he handled had been his for decades.

Terra used her arms and legs to frog-jump off the diner sofa onto the floor in response to my question.

“If you see the strings, cut them. It will sever the link. The shadows’ power comes from the control.”

I didn’t bother to check if she understood. I stepped forward, but before we walked into the street, they transported us to a desert wasteland. 

I wondered what game the shadows were playing. There was nowhere for them to hide.

I clapped my hands, sending a shockwave of blue and white energy towards our pursuers. I knocked most back. With my left hand, I summoned an astral blade and prepared for combat.

The earth cracked beneath our feet.

“Stay with me, kid,” I commanded. 

Terra grabbed my arm. Before I could push her away, our minds melded. Flashes of memories told me of a life I hadn’t lived, and I wished she hadn’t. In the darkness, voices seduced me. No! Her

“I know what you are,” she said to me. “And I know who I am.”

By then, it was too late.

I shouldn’t have sharpened that knife. I shouldn’t have given it to someone I thought was innocent.

Darkness enveloped me. I hoped for – embraced – death.

Only death did not come. 

I woke in the desert, surrounded by shadows, unable to move even my head.

“You will teach me all I need to know,” Terra said.

“No,” I whispered, grateful to have control of my mouth.

“I think you’ll change your mind.”

“My conviction is stronger than yours,” I said. 

But my broken body had other plans. Without want or warning, I stood up, spun, and bowed to her. She clapped. “Actions speak louder than words, Fox.”

That’s when I saw puppet strings on my arms and legs and the body of the previous shadow leader lying in a crumpled heap before me. 

It was at that moment I lost all hope.



Prompt for this week’s fiction grid included the first line and the attached picture. Check out other stories at the link above. 🙂

Yellow Tracks

“Okay, racers, start. your. engines!” 

Bwaaah!

The whistle blows.

“Annnnddd they’re off!” Mommy commentates. “Callum takes an early lead. But what’s this? Liam is closing in. Folks, he could win!”

Callum grabs the track. “Earthquake!”

The Hot Wheels tumble to the carpet as another match begins on foot.



Grief – a series

0. Death
My Choctaw grandpa died
one cold January morn,
surrounded by his son,
his family,
and his wife.

1. Isolation
In a nursing home,
She had left him,
had overcome her grief –
moved on –
Long before we did.

2. Anger
Less than a year,
she remarried at the VFW;
he reminded her of Grandpa,
she said.
We did not share her belief.

3. Bargaining
She married a Mexican;
He moved into her house,
cooked us tamales to earn our trust.
We relented,
but only for her sake.

4. Depression
It would not last;
The inheritance dwindled
She married a conman,
Dad said;
But no words got through.

5. Acceptance
She was convinced she needed him.
That we were just jealous,
So, we left her with him,
disowned her,
and never saw her again.

Let’s be super honest here. It’s obvious, I’m not a poet. This poem, a series, is part of the June poetry slam over at YeahWrite. The month is over, but still, I encourage any and all criticism. (Hint: I know it’s not good) (Discussion points: is it clear that we were racist? That we were in the wrong here? That it’s written from the perspective of an unreliable narrator?)

Basil’s Adventure

Basil fidgeted with the gold coin in his pocket as he quietly walked into the open door. It was dark inside, the way he liked it, but it was too cavernous. He was exposed, laid bare by its lack of papers and boxes to keep him secret, safe.

He turned his head, widening his eyes to take in the room. Outside, a car sprung to life, and it took all the courage he had in him to not squeak.

Basil kept reminding himself, that he only had to make it through this room. That’s what Justin had told him. The Grand Rat, his fierce visage burned in Basil’s mind, had targeted the mousy desk-clerk because of his stature. He was unassuming.

Back home, his wife and kids were waiting for the cheese and bread he’d gotten earlier, but instead of going home to them, he was here, traipsing through his office building, looking for one vent sitting beside a filing cabinet. Apparently, only he could fit into. Worst yet, The Rats had his family hostage as collateral.

Finally, he was there. Opening the vent meant using a screwdriver. Basil dropped his coin in his pocket and pulled out the Leatherman he had squirreled away in his cluttered desk.

He slipped it in the grooves. The lights turned on.

This time, Basil did squeak. And just like that, he couldn’t move. He was fear-frozen, lips trembling, eyes panic-scanning the room. 

His gaze fell on two pairs of brown suede shoes. They belonged to the boss.

“Basil, what are you still doing here?” 

Basil stammered. He couldn’t think, couldn’t move.

The boss lifted him to his feet. His cat-like whiskers moved with his mouth.

“Basil?”

Basil burst into tears. “The Rats. They have them. My Gus and Phoebe.”

“Stupid Rats,” the boss said with a shake of his head. “Gone too far this time. We’ll get them back for ya, Basil. You just wait here. Well, not here. But in the front office.”

Basil choked back some snotty remains and nodded, “Oh, oh, oh, -kay, Mr Patch.”

The boss led the way out of the room, closed the door, and locked it behind them. Basil settled into a tight corner with his coin in hand, and waited.