Prologue from Aes: Book 0.1 – The Blaze

Written by Rae-Chan


Blazing flames sent shadows dancing around the buildings, the sounds of people’s screams mixing with the noise of gunshots. Freya Park cowered behind her mother, clinging onto her older brother Jun, eyes tight shut, tears leaking out from under her eyelids, and coughing from the smoke that was making its way through the shirt Jun had pressed over her mouth.

Jun was doing his best to hold his breath, he only had one shirt to use as a gas mask and he was much more focused on keeping his little sister safe than himself. He was crouched low where the smoke wasn’t as thick, feeling light-headed as he took shallow breaths, black spots starting to appear before his eyes.

“Jun, take your sister and run,” whispered Kanya Park, stepping away from her children and walking towards the front door.

“Mum, don’t!” Jun cried, immediately his lungs burned as he lifted his head, letting smoke into his lungs.

Jun could hardly see anything anymore, the smoke that was flooding the room already starting to swallow up his mother. He held Freya close to his chest as he choked on the acrid air, her small little hands clinging onto him for dear life.

“Take Freya and run,” Kanya repeated, looking back to offer her son a teary-eyed smile.

Tears spilled from Jun’s own eyes as he bit his lip, pulled Freya closer, and rose just enough to be able to move. Freya whimpered against his body as he sprinted out the back door. He ran as fast as he could, dodging the flames that were quickly spreading from house to house. He heard a gunshot from close by and felt his heart skip a beat. He knew what that gunshot meant.

The noise startled Freya and she buried her face into her brother’s shoulder, sobbing uncontrollably.

“It’s alright, Freya,” Jun lied, trying to stop his sister from hearing the tears in his voice. “It’s alright.”


Rae-Chan’s gripping prologue from her upcoming Aes series was written on behalf of the Half Hour Challenge in January. Focusing on a traumatic beginning, the prologue simply titled “The Blaze” is a great reflection on strength and how it affects characters both physically and mentally. And as such, it’s fantastic work to close our strength-themed content on this month. If you enjoyed Rae-Chan’s prologue, feel free to view her additional published pieces, including “Remembering War” and “Ignite”. 

Featured Image CC // Kaibab National Forest

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Short Poetry Spotlight – Strength in Mind, Body & Spirit

Written by Katie Allen


Menkind

Society embracing the fast-paced life,

Although immersed in conflict and strife

Without time to marvel at wonders of the earth,

We grow either optimistic or cynical since our birth.

 

Multi-tasking is the norm,

Constantly busy even after we are worn

Developing competitive streaks, cut-throat and ruthless

These minutes flash by, let alone the weeks.

 

Craving love, acceptance and security,

Instead we may receive hurt, mockery and pity

Despite this we are strong and able to cope,

Only by believing in true faith and hope.

 

Clichés although they may conquer,

While the superficial and material consumption is paramount…

Empty disposable gratifications – our world is crying out

Gaining no internal satisfaction, are we becoming crazy?

Yes is fact – plus slightly stoic, complacent and lazy.

 

So in the midst of personal turmoil and chaos

Stay true to yourself, be authentic otherwise you are truly lost!


Tiger

The Tiger may be beautiful and mysterious

But his huge sharp teeth are certain to make you nervous,

As he communicates while stretching his paws

You mustn’t make a single sound otherwise he’ll open his claws,

Towards doing something extremely notorious!

 

He releases an enormous roar making everything rumble

His almighty power can make anything crumble,

Able to prance up and down to the pulsating beat

Although when he’s camouflaged he ducks low to his feet,

In this humid psychedelic kaleidoscope jungle.

 

He cunningly scours in search for distant prey

As he reaches in for the kill – he targets those that lay,

The sleuth carnivore is still on the prowl

To discover and catch a meal using his dark nose to smell,

Patience is virtue, he instinctively thinks.

 

The tiger’s pride, dignity and reputation

Make all the other creatures have a scary sensation,

Just gaze at him cutting through the foliage

As sharp and deep like the blade of a knife,

Causing no end of chaos and strife

Especially when this ferocious figure is hunting for a female!


Our Short Poetry spotlight this month twins two extraordinary poems written by returning contributor Katie Allen. Blending together seamlessly despite their stark subject differences, both works of poetry take on strength of the mind, body and spirit. While Tiger was inspired by a trip to the zoo, Menkind was written by Katie as a way to explore the often cut-throat state of our world and, in particular, how people feel, consume and behave within it. Sometimes strength can take the shape of the tiger, seeking out its prey, but we also harbour it within ourselves. If you enjoyed Katie’s poetry, feel free to view her superb poetry published last month, “L.O.V.E“. 

Featured Image CC // Frank

Waterworks

Written by Ashcloud


It starts as a trickle, deep within the ground,
One day bursting from dark caverns, moaning silent sounds.
The water erodes the toughened ground and carves wrinkles in its face.
Flowing wild, furrowing down, to find a new hiding place.

It gushes down the mountain, with speed and power as a guide.
It begins to slow and mellow coming nearer to the tide.
From waterfall to river, from river to gentle stream,
As quiet as it came to be, the water vanishes under the evening beam.


Ashcloud’s beautiful poetry gives us a sense of strength and salvation through powerful emotion. Water works in wondrous ways, twisting and turning, filling up holes, eroding rock, and then submitting to the powerful sun rays. But water is also in our tears, and sometimes we need them, particularly to combat the darkest of days. If you enjoyed Ashcloud’s poetry, you can view some of her other superb work such as, “Is it Wrong?” and “A New Star is Born“.

Featured Image CC // Kim Seng

The Ascension of the Pilgrim

Written by Dice


The gong rang through the old temple.

“Almighty Orlin from the Great Ringed World of Phorlin, you look over us.” Chanted an old priest in practiced rhythm and certainty from his position on a high dais, as he looked over the gathering crowds filling the large main chamber of the temple.

“Blessing to the almighty Orlin,” came the replying chant from a kneeling man dressed in a simple white cloak.

Upon finishing his reply, the man named Damus returned and bowed low, placing his forehead on the holy floor. He knelt in the middle of the six pronged star, each point of equal distance from him. At the tip of each point there stood a thin, three-foot high pedestal. Behind these pedestals, at least from Damus‘s view point, stood a high priest or priestess dressed in the vibrant colours of the Divine One they served.

According to religious teachings, the seven Divine Ones were demi-gods. Once mortal, they had been hand chosen by the Great God Orlin to rule and protect each of the seven Shift Worlds; six moons that orbited the large gas planet named Phorlin. The Divine Ones were Orlin’s representatives in the mortal realm and they lived in their temples on their respective worlds, which they shaped and changed as they saw fit.

Damus risked a glance forward. The pedestal directly in front of him had no priest stood behind. Instead, about five yards back, upon an ornate golden throne sat Alynne, the greatest of the Divine Ones. This was his temple, his moon, his world.

Above Alynne the old priest, his High Priest continued the ceremony.
“O’ Pilgrim, you have travelled to each of the six worlds and have received the favour of each of the Divine Ones.”

The gong sounded again and the priest standing behind the first pedestal, and left to the one directly in front of Damus, lifted a small – perhaps fist-sized – shining green orb above his head. The High Priest of Alynne continued.

“Endu, The Young, lover of life and children.”

The gong followed and the next priest to Damus’s left raised a similar orb, but her orb was yellow and slightly larger than the last.

“Sudale, Protector of the Weak, lover of re-balance.”

The High Priest named each of the Divine Ones, Ilture, Galaine and Ninsune, and each respective priest raised their orb. When the High Priest named ‘Alynne, Orlin’s Second and Lord of All’, Alynne himself stood. Raising one empty hand, he breathed into his open palm and an orange orb formed.

“Stand Pilgrim,” demanded the High Priest.

Damus stood, tall and proud, though with a slight shiver.

“Pilgrim, are you ready?” asked the old man in a powerful voice.

“Yes, High Priest,” answered Damus confidently.

“Do you accept the honour placed upon you?”

“I accept and thank the Great Orlin for the honour he has granted me.”

“Are you pure in heart, innocent in life and free from any bonds?”

“I am free to serve.”

“Do you welcome the blessing of the Divine ones?”

“I welcome and thank them for their Blessings.”

“And will you take up service to the Almighty Orlin, who has hand chosen you to serve by his side for one hundred years, after which you will bathe in the glory of his heaven?”

“I will gladly serve.”

“Then may you ascend to his side and serve him well.”

The gong sounded again and the five priests and Alynne stepped forward. In the order of their calling, they placed the orbs upon the pedestal before them. But when Alynne placed his orb, a coloured beam of light erupted from each orb. The beams then connected the orbs together and blended to create a perfect circular beam of white, intersecting each of the orbs.

Damus held his arms outstretched, as a symbol to welcome the light.

“I go to serve Orlin,” he chanted.

There was a great flash of white light from the orbs, which dazzled all in attendance for a brief moment before it vanished. And with it, Damus and the orbs had disappeared, too.


Written on behalf of our Hallowe’en Trick or Treat Fiction Frenzy, Dice’s short fantasy excerpt was originally planned for a NanoWriMo entry. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way he had expected, but we did get a great entry for our Fiction Frenzy competition. If you enjoyed Dice’s piece, feel free to view his other published work on Inkblots, including “The Game Parts 1 & 2” and his most recently published Alexander short, “Summer 1943”

Featured Image CC // Zach Dischner

Hold My Hand

Lyrics by Miss Smiley


Verse 1:
I’m not asking for your tears
Don’t want you all upset
I don’t want to drag you down at all.
I don’t need a pool of salt
Or shouts of justice spent
I just want you to catch me when I fall.

Verse 2:
I don’t mean to be a nuisance
I don’t want to be a pest
But, baby, I just need someone to know.
Darling, I don’t want to make you
Lose one moment here
But honey, I just need a hand to hold.

CHORUS:
Hold my hand, guide me through tonight
‘Cause I just don’t know where I am and which light is my light
Baby, I’ve lost the eternal struggle here against my fright
And all I want is you to hear my plight
I’m sorry, honey, but tonight in your arms I’m going to fold,
Baby, I just need a hand to hold.

Verse 3:
I don’t want to drown your hopes
Or rain on your parade
I’d never want to drag you down as well.
But what I need is someone who
Will fold me in their arms
And let me maybe dampen their lapels.

Verse 4:
I’m sorry, my love, my love
After this, I’ll leave you be
I don’t mean to hamper you, my man.
But oh, my love, I need you now
To hold me in your arms
And if it’s not too much, to hold my hand.

CHORUS:
Hold my hand, guide me through tonight
‘Cause I just don’t know where I am and which light is my light
Baby, I’ve lost the eternal struggle here against my fright
And all I want is you to hear my plight
I’m sorry, honey, but tonight in your arms I’m going to fold,
Baby, I just need a hand to hold.

Verse 5:
And it’s so hard to see the light when darkness crowds around
Darling, do you have a torch to burn the shadows’ ground?
Can I steal one ounce of life from you to kindle mine again?
I’m so scared and mine’s blown out, my friend.
Yes, I’m terrified and mine’s blown out, my friend.

CHORUS:
Hold my hand, guide me through tonight
‘Cause I just don’t know where I am and which light is my light
Baby, I’ve lost the eternal struggle here against my fright
And all I want is you to hear my plight
I’m sorry, honey, but tonight in your arms I’m going to fold,
Baby, I just need a hand to hold.


Although it was written some time ago, the charm and appeal of Miss Smiley’s lyrical ballad has never faded. Hold My Hand, for those with musical ears, should be sung 4/4 in a minor key – preferably E minor – and is a regular, slowly sung ballad featuring a natural rhythm. But for those, like me, who are a little tone-deaf, it’s a beautiful ballad nevertheless. If you enjoyed Miss Smiley’s lyrics, why not check out her musical ensemble, “The Laurel”. 

Featured Image CC // Chris JL

Man’s Salvation

Written by Rob


Popular wisdom says one should never discuss religion or politics with a friend. Jed and Mark were definitely not friends and threw insults at each other, across the office, all day, every day. It had all started as a theological discussion but no one could remember when. Little Mark was a devout Catholic, and incapable of allowing any opportunity to profess his faith pass unfulfilled. Jed Smith, built like a brick house, loathed all things religious with a burning passion. These were two minds that could never meet, nor indeed agree to disagree. So the status quo was protracted jibes at each other’s beliefs, whilst their colleagues laughed and pointed. No one seemed to mind as this sideshow eased the dreary days of accounting practice.

When Arthur – the company secretary – retired, they all went out for a beer. A dozen employees commandeered an alcove of the pub and swapped anecdotes of Arthur’s peccadilloes from forty years’ service; all good-natured banter. It was getting late when Mark overheard two lads outside their circle discussing crucifixion in a not too reverent manner. Off like a lurcher, Mark was out of his chair, citing blasphemy laws, quoting gospel chapter and verse, wagging his finger. The lads were clearly taken aback. Mark returned to the group, looking smug, but saying it was probably time to “call it a night”.

Mark said his goodbyes, shook Arthur’s hand and ambled out of the front door. Jed noticed one of the lads nudge the other and follow. Jed couldn’t have told you why, but something in their demeanour had the hairs on his neck erect. On instinct, he followed, too.

Outside, Jed looked up and down the High Street: no sign of Mark or the lads. Then a noise, maybe a muffled voice, drew him to the alley at the side of the pub. Pinned against the wall, little Mark looked up terrified into the faces of his tormentors.
It was all over in seconds. The lads looked up at Jed’s challenge, saw his huge frame nigh-on blocking the light from the High Street, and took to their heels.

Monday morning, to an outsider in the accounts office, nothing had changed. Jed and Mark still belittled each other’s beliefs at every opportunity. But the passion and hurtful edge had gone, replaced by a “this is just a game” undercurrent, a performance for the benefit of the onlookers.


Inspired and written on behalf of May’s half hour challenge theme ‘Salvation’, Rob’s flash fiction hits the point hard. Though religion may come between many people, sometimes it’s refreshing to get a different opinion and have an open mind. And sometimes it can make the difference between a friend and a foe. If you enjoyed Rob’s HHC, make sure to view his other great pieces such as, “Ending at the Start” and “Coach”. 

Featured Image CC // Fusky

May Editorial – Lending Strength & Salvation to those in Need

Hey Inkblotters,

With the recent earthquake crisis in Nepal, it appears mother nature isn’t quite on our side over the past few months. Although I’ve personally witnessed an earthquake having been close to the epicentre, it was nothing compared to the 7.8 magnitude in Nepal. It’s still a scary experience, however, and feeling the earth and the foundations of your own house move beneath you is something equally terrifying and incredible. But for those that lost their lives in the tragedy, a little strength and salvation is needed, especially for many left without family and in desperate need of aid. If you would like to donate to the appeal, you can do so over at PayPal.

So with the warmest thoughts being sent out to those in need, our content for May reflects strength of all kinds. This month we begin with Rob’s half hour challenge entry on the 5th, following up with Miss Smiley’s beautiful lyrical ensemble “Hold My Hand” on the 10th. We also have some absolutely wonderful poetry from returning contributors Ashcloud with “Waterworks” on the 20th, and two from Katie Allen on the 25th featured in our Poetry Spotlight. As usual, we also have a few surprises popped in for good measure.

In keeping with our content theme, the half hour challenge hopes to inspire and give Salvation to many. Sometimes all we need is a little dash of hope to carry us through the day. If you’d like to send us your HHC entry for May, all the important details can be found on our submissions page.

And with that, have a lovely May and enjoy the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend.

– Colette, Inkblots Editor

Featured Image CC // Slalit