October 10

Fictober, Prompt 10 – “It’s so quiet.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: horror, implied monster, implied violent death.


“And you’re sure everything’s all right? I don’t like you being out there alone,” Anna said.

I tucked my cell phone more firmly between my ear and my shoulder, thinking for probably the hundredth time that I really needed one of those little Bluetooth earpieces or something. “It’s fine, I promise. It’s so quiet, what could possibly happen? And besides,” I cut her off when I heard her take another breath to protest, “it’s not like I’m staying out here. Just stopping by the house once a day to make sure everything’s okay.” Carefully, I stepped up onto the chair and tilted the little battered tin watering can over the last of the house plants. Why I left the most difficult to reach one for last was anyone’s guess, but it always worked out that way. Probably subconscious avoidance, or something like that.

“I guess,” she agreed, sighing. “I just wish you wouldn’t go after dark.”

“Not much choice, at this point,” I muttered, then sighed myself, stepping down off the chair and dragging it back into the kitchen. “It’s getting dark so early these days, and you know I don’t get off work until six-thirty.”

“All right. Text me when you get home?”

“Sure,” I promised, and she let me hang up. “Okay,” I said to myself. “What else?”

Nothing for today, when I checked the list they had left for me. Today had been plant-watering day, and I’d brought in the newspaper and the mail, and made sure the traps were empty of mice. This house-sitting thing was pretty easy, really, mostly just a chunk of time out of my evening, and even that wasn’t a big deal for a couple of weeks. I didn’t know the Carters well, but had seen no reason to turn down their request, being one of the nearer neighbors out here; they didn’t have any pets to worry about, and were even paying me a little bit.

The house creaked and settled around me, which I was more used to now after a week. It was an older house, a farmhouse originally, though the neighboring fields were now owned by a neighboring farmer. I couldn’t remember what the Carters said they did, but it definitely wasn’t farming.

“Well, that’s it for today, then,” I told the house. Shrugging my coat back on and sliding into my shoes, I flipped out the lights near the door. There was one lamp, distant in the living room, that they had left on a timer, but that light didn’t really reach this far. Still, I hesitated.

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October 9

Fictober, Prompt 9 – “There’s no right side to this.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: threatened violence, non-graphic discussion of blood magic.


A steady stream of pleading and whimpers fell from the man’s lips as the guards threw him at my feet.

“Silence!” I snapped, and quiet descended, at least momentarily.

This was one of the men responsible for the theft. As if it was not enough that they had stolen from me in the first place, they continued to skulk around, as if waiting for more.

I paced for long minutes while my guards waited patiently, and my prisoner continued to cower. At last, I thought I could be calm enough to keep him alive. Pausing before the fire, I turned and strode back, allowing my staff to tap commandingly against the floor, the hems of my robes swirling dramatically around my feet. Since it seemed that intimidation might get me the answers I sought, then so be it.

“You have stolen from me,” I said, coming to stand before him. He flinched, deliberately bowing lower toward the floor and I sneered. “Sit up and pretend you are in possession of a spine, at least for the next five minutes.”

“What- What will happen at the end of five minutes?” He whispered, making some effort to straighten in spite of the manacles binding his wrists at his back.

“That remains to be seen.” He flinched again, and did not keep his shoulders from curling in. “Speak. Tell me why a thief dares to return to my lands.”

“I did not—”

“You wear the same colors and crest as those that did,” I cut him off. “Speak truthfully or I will not need the remainder of the five minutes to make my decision.”

“We were commanded so by the Voice!” His words now almost tripped over each other in their haste to leave his mouth. “Blood magic is forbidden, and he commanded that no such spells—”

“If it is forbidden,” I cut him off again, voice low and quiet, “then why do I find that your precious Voice also commands his men to use it? Why do I find that my spell has been taken from me to be used?”

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October 8

Fictober, Prompt 8 – “This is it, isn’t it?”

Original fiction.

Warnings: threatened murder/blood sacrifice, implied violent death (nothing graphic).


It was difficult to explain how I knew.

We were about a third of the way into the next field, walking in on the side that had been harvested already, the corn still standing tall to the left, dry with both the lack of rain and summer’s passing, rustling in the breeze. I stopped dead between one step and the next.

It was startling, to just know suddenly, like he said I would.

“Ah,” he said, sounding pleased.

I thought of the gun trained at my back – the only reason I had come this far at all – and swallowed. “This is it, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Much closer than I had hoped.” Acres of fields stretched out behind us, and then stretched on for acres and acres yet ahead, burnished in the last streaks of dying daylight from the west. To the east, a silvery glow behind the distant tree line threatened the moon’s rising.

Doubt and despair overwhelmed me. I had known, just like he said. Did that mean— Was his plan the right one after all? Should I- Should I let him sacrifice me?

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October 6

Fictober, Prompt 6 – “Didn’t we already have this conversation?”

Original fiction.

Warnings: nothing much, a very vague, passing allusion to past abuse of a side character.


I swept into the front hall as the footman opened the door, his timing as impeccable as always. I gave him a slight, grateful nod. The chill of autumn followed me in, leaves swirling as several more people followed me in. I would have preferred to leave them outside, but my temper had not quite tipped over into outright rudeness.

Yet.

“Your Grace,” my butler bowed, stepping forward to take my cloak and gloves as other servants materialized to help my guests, uninvited though they might be.

“Thank you, Julian,” I told him, catching his eye. He would see the tension and annoyance in my own furrowed brow, but the lack of true fear would let him know that all was well enough for now. The slightest hint of tension eased from his still perfectly upright posture, and he bowed.

“If you and your guests will follow me, Your Grace, I took the liberty of having hot drinks prepared.”

“I have always envied your household staff, Duchess,” one of the hangers-on simpered as we settled into the parlor.

“Too kind,” I murmured, sipping my tea, into which Julian had kindly slipped just a little something extra. Extraordinary man. It had already occurred to him, as it should have occurred to me before now, that with the hour already so late, they would all undoubtedly have to stay the night, which meant that I would have to host them again in the morning, my least favorite time of day.

My manor was not large as such things went, and my lands were deliberately isolated. This worked well for discouraging guests in the general sort of way, but worked against me once they were already here.

At least I could probably get them all packed off to bed relatively soon, and retire to my own rooms.

“Daria,” Aled murmured, coming over to sit in the chair closest to me with his own cup, his voice lowered. “Can I please ask you to reconsider?”

“Didn’t we already have this conversation?” I asked, voice low but crisp with renewed annoyance. “I will not.”

“But the other lords…and the Temple—” He stopped as rage flashed over my face. I had myself under control a breath later, but I should not have let it happen.

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October 5

Fictober, Prompt 5 – “I’m not saying I told you so…”

Original fiction. Turned out to be a continuation of Day 1.

Warnings: nothing in particular, passing mention of past blood sacrifices.


“I’m not saying I told you so…”

“But you told me so,” I groused, sighing as Vivi stepped carefully into what remained of the lab. “It would never have worked if I’d had anyone else with me, especially not another mage.”

“I know,” she said, then whistled as she took in the state of the room. “Hard fight?”

“Yeah,” I admitted, frowning. I’d won, but I’d had to kill her in the end, and still had several bandages on even three days later. It was even stranger because I still didn’t have any idea what her real name was. She had given me an obviously false one when we first met, but every system here was strangely devoid of anything that identified her personally. “The rest of this would have been easier if I’d been able to capture her. I still have no idea what she was trying to do here, or what’s so special about this planet. Several unidentifiable ships have come sniffing around, and given how much monitoring equipment she has set up for tracking exactly that kind of thing, I don’t think it’s new.”

Vivi patted my shoulder and then peered over it at the one screen that had remained intact. “Weird. What did she say she was doing?”

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October 4

Fictober, Prompt 4 – “Fine, I give up.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: implied battle, vague injury descriptions.


Gasping, I fell, my left knee giving out at last. Only my sword, sunk into the earth, kept me partially upright.

Although there was no possible way the gods looked on me in favor, I had no other explanation for why I was still alive at all, truthfully. My ki was too low to manage any more spells, and I was no warrior, was not trained to the sword, not the way those who had pursued us for so long were.

Not the way she was.

I knelt, and panted for air through burning lungs, and stared up at her through one eye that was beginning to swell shut, the other stinging with the sweat and blood dripping down my face. Her eyes, dark, intense, met mine and held.

A strange moment of hush descended around us, even as fire crackled in the distance, mingling with the shouts of those still fighting.

Her face under her horned helmet was unreadable as usual, but there was no anger in her eyes, no hatred, no contempt. None of the emotions that should have been there. I had betrayed her, betrayed my promise. That I hadn’t had any other choice was irrelevant. She would tolerate no such breach of honor.

That she held herself to even higher standards was the only reason that I did not hate her for her part in this pursuit.

But I knelt still, only not at her feet for the short distance still between us, and still she stared, making no move to finish me off.

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October 2

Fictober, Prompt 2 – “You have no proof.”

Original fiction.

Warnings: magical battle of sorts, non-graphic description of someone being dead.


The man clutched the scroll to his chest and looked at me as if I had just insulted all of his ancestors.

“Of course I won’t hand it over to you! It is mine, and acquired only at great trouble and cost!”

“And you didn’t stop to think about why that might be the case?” I asked him, keeping my voice even and my face calm. He had no idea what he was holding, and it was going to cause trouble for more than just him if I couldn’t stop him from using it.

“Obviously, because it confers a great boon to the user,” he huffed, as if this was obvious.

“It was stolen,” I said, losing a little bit of my temper, “out of one of the most secure magical facilities in all the known lands. I know that you know this, because that is why the thieves you hired to steal it charged you so much, and why you had so much trouble finding anyone to even attempt the theft in the first place. Has it not occurred to you that it was under such heavy guard because it doesn’t do what it claims to do, rather than because it does?”

A brief – very brief – flicker of doubt crossed his face, but then it settled into a scowl again.

“You have no proof,” he spat at me, “no proof at all of those rumors! Have you ever even seen it yourself?”

I had not, of course, looked at the scroll myself. Its rolled-up exterior was all anyone I knew had ever seen.

“No one,” I said slowly and meaningfully, “who has ever looked at that scroll is around to tell us what exactly happened to them.”

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October 31

Fictober, Prompt 31 – “Scared, me?”

Warnings: monsters, implied hunting. Some Halloween spookiness to finish things off.

Acknowledgment: This whole piece was inspired by a creepy Halloween night description that LiveJournal user eryne-chan wrote many years ago in an LJ RPG. I really liked the description and saved it, and wanted to do something in tribute (though this story is entirely unrelated to the original RPG post). The last half of the last line is borrowed directly from her description, because I could not get it to sound quite right with any other wording. The rest is merely “inspired by.” Happy Halloween!


I always patrol the streets on Halloween. I start early, before the sun is fully down, as the little children and their parents make their trick-or-treating rounds. I’m well known by now, and many of the children wave excitedly when they see me, exclaiming over whichever guise I have picked to wear this year. Their parents nod to me in thanks for the extra pair of watchful eyes.

There are some monsters that would snatch children away.

I nod back, but do not speak to them.

Dark comes early here, at this point in the dying year. Soon enough the streetlights are flickering on, pools of warmer golden light, a safer companion to the cold light of the moon, rising above.

Some of the streetlights continue to flicker, never quite coming on.

The parents with children avoid those streets. The older children, the ones allowed to walk together without adult supervision, make an appearance in greater numbers now.

They do go down the streets with flickering lights, encouraging each other toward the lighted doorways and spookily welcoming decorations.

“Scared, me?” they ask each other brashly, and do not listen to the instincts that tell them to stay away from darker paths.

I do not stop them. That is not my purpose, and in any case, it is mostly safe.

The moon is thin this year, its light weak.

Darkness steals into the spaces between houses, thickening between the pools of lamplight, creeping up to fill the treetops. With true darkness, the children are not the only ones on the streets anymore. More figures, costumed and masked as is appropriate, join the children, following in their footsteps, accepting candy at doorsteps but never taking their eyes from those they follow.

I follow them, and they are forced to nod in acknowledgement. They follow the children, as is their nature, but they do nothing else.

Adults begin to return to the streets, costumed themselves now, heading for restaurants and parties and bars. Other figures join them and are complimented for their costumes. They smile realistic sharp smiles, and nod in thanks, and wait.

They too are forced to nod in acknowledgment as I pass by. They follow the adults, as is their nature, but they do nothing else.

For now.

If the adults notice anything amiss, they brush it off as a product of the atmosphere.

“Scared, me?” they ask each other jokingly, and do not ask why the atmosphere feels the way it does.

Hours pass, and still I patrol the streets. Parties wind down, and people make their way home. Those that know, or sense, that they are not alone hurry. Many hurry. Some move more slowly, unaware, or too inebriated, to realize they should be watching the time.

The seconds tick by. I can hear them in head, though the large clock on the main street counts only minutes and hours, silently.

Almost.

I hold my breath, and many others hold theirs (or not) with me.

The clock strikes midnight.

There is no chime, as there might have been in older times, but all know that it has come. Even the drunkest people feel a sudden chill, and the darkness deepens as the moon slips behind the trees, acknowledging that the time of its pale light is done.

There is a moment of stillness.

I smile.

Masks begin to slip, and other smiles grow sharper.

Those humans who have not made it safely home must now make their way through streets that are less friendly. Some will not make it unscathed. Some will not make it at all.

The darkest hours of All Hallows Eve are our time…and dawn is a long way away.

October 30

Fictober, Prompt 30 – “I’m with you, you know.”

Warnings: general weirdness, brief mentions of stabbing and beheading, but nothing graphic. Fantasy of some sort.


I passed down an old road.

Once, I would have done so alone.

I wished that it were still so.

“I’m with you, you know,” he reminded me from behind. “I will always be here.”

“Not always,” I said. “I know of always, and you do not.”

“I have the means to follow you no matter where you go, or how you may try to escape.”

“For now,” I agreed. Already, long years had passed, and thus far his words had been true. I had given up attempting to escape or evade him. No matter what power or path I tried, by the next night, he always dogged my trail once more.

Acceptance had given me patience, and strength. I had not stopped looking for a way to sever the connection, just as he had not ceased to try and destroy me.

I was not indestructible, none of my kind were, but the means to end my existence would never be within his grasp. He had corrupted his own soul to gain the power for this…this leash. The power that he would need to destroy me had to be gained by other means, ways now closed to him.

Perhaps if I told him this (if he believed me), he would go away.

But I was cruel, and since he tormented me, I had chosen to silently torment him. At the end, he would know that all of this had been in vain, and despair. But only when I could be free of him.

He would not have believed me, in any case, though lies had never once passed my lips.

That was why all the others I had met, those who did have the power and will to destroy me, had never done so. We spoke, and they let me pass on, walking the old roads as I had always done.

I was older than humankind, and no friend to any. But that was not always the same as being an enemy, and my sustenance I could take in various ways. That this human did not understand that there were differences in my kind, just as in his own, was another mark against him.

This road, this was one of the oldest. I did not allow myself to hope that what awaited us at the end of it might allow me to be rid of him for good. I had had such hopes before and been disappointed.

But I would continue to walk this road, and the others, and he would follow me unwittingly, unlearning, uncaring, and long forsaken of the chance to have been something more than he was.

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October 29

Fictober, Prompt 29 – “I’m doing this for you.”

Warnings: monster, creepiness, not much else. Horror, of sorts.


I reeled in another clump of lake weed, and pulled in a deep breath, cultivating patience. Fishing was not my favorite pastime, a feeling exaggerated by the fact that it wasn’t going well today.

“How much longer must we sit here?” the monster asked from the other side of the boat.

Frustration surged up despite my best efforts, and I spun around to face it, scowling.

“I’m doing this for you,” I pointed out, “because you desperately wanted panfish for some unexplainable reason, and even more inexplicably you wanted me to do the fishing. You are well aware that I’m bad at this.”

“The contract—” it began, scowling back.

“The contract,” I interrupted sharply, “states that we will provide you sustenance in the form of livestock, once every two weeks. Anything additional to or apart from that is on a voluntary basis only, and I’m fast running out of a desire to continue volunteering. If you still want panfish caught by me, then shut up. If you don’t, then tell me so we can both go do other things.”

Not that I knew what the monster did with its time when it wasn’t bothering someone in town, but at least it might stop bothering me.

It bared sharp teeth (the one thing about its form that it couldn’t hide or change) at me.

I bared my blunt, human teeth right back at it, snarling. “Well?”

The teeth vanished behind something that was dangerously close to a pout, and it turned away, apparently unwilling to call it quits.

If part of me was less disappointed about that than it should have been, I saw no need to acknowledge it.

Rebaiting my hook, I cast my line back out into the lake, and waited.

And waited.

The monster continued to…sulk? Its semi-furred back was to me. It had chosen a weird shape today, vaguely humanoid but with fur and other, almost cat-like features, though no cat had ever looked like that. It almost reminded me of that one musical with the weird cat costumes, now that I thought about it. Did the monster know about that? Had someone given it access to the internet? That was a truly terrifying notion.

“Why did you want me to catch your fish?” I asked to break the silence and my own increasingly weird train of thought.

Its head turned slightly until one gleaming eye was peering at me over its shoulder. “Because you smell the best.”

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