Once upon a time in a land far away there lived a little girl called Rachel. Rachel was out walking by herself in the woods when she heard someone singing. The songs were so joyful and beautiful her ears drank them down and begged her to seek out this delicious singer in the wood. She crept up to a small clearing and peeked through the undergrowth expecting to see a woman singing. However, the clearing was empty, empty but for the biggest fairy toadstool she had ever seen. At first she thought the toadstool was singing, but as she looked more carefully she noticed a stone perched right at the apex of the toadstool.
Rachel watched and listened to the song until at last she could not contain her curiosity anymore, she stepped out from the undergrowth and asked politely who was the one singing such beautiful songs?
But at once there was silence in the grove. Rachel was undeterred and walked up to the stone perched on top of the toadstool. She gazed down upon the stone, which looked so common to her eye, and considered if indeed the wonderful singing came from such a humble stone? Continue reading “The Enchanted Singing Stone”
In a far off land there stood a great tower constructed of mostly animal bones. Certainly not the bones of the animals commonly found in our world, the bones used to build this tower were the size of dinosaur bones. The tower had five pentagonal platforms each on top of the other, and each supported by five pillars. The first four platforms were essentially the same as each other, each had a broad ladder running up to the next platform; with the exception of the fourth platform. The ladder for this platform was lying flat across the decking, both its ends protruding over the edges. Without the ladder in place it was a four metre drop from the fifth platform to the fourth platform below. Thus no one could get up to the fifth platform, and more importantly, no one inside the fifth and final level of the tower could get out without risking a deadly injury.
The fifth platform wasn’t a simple flat deck of ribbed bones like the others, but a room with five walls insulated with mud tightly packed between the ribbing. The room protruded out from the central axis giving the tower the shape of a lollipop. Indeed during the daytime the tower might have looked a little like a lollipop perched atop a crag in the middle of the stony desert, but only to a keen observer because thanks to the yellowing of the old bones the tower merged almost completely into the surrounding landscape and sandy coloured sky. At night time the desert was particularly dark because this world lacked a moon like our own. The tower was hidden in plain sight, the perfect place to keep prisoner a fourteen year old girl. Continue reading “Bella and the Tower of Bones”
Returning to the town, there was a great garden at the centre where pious people used to go and pray. However, a witch had crafted several statues and placed them all about the garden. These statues were enchanted and whispered to everyone who entered the garden things they did not wish to hear. The garden that had once been the spring rejuvenating the spirits of the people was now no longer visited, even by the gardeners. The garden had become over grown and full of weeds.
Shaylen took his party into the gardens and he ordered them to help him to pull the statues down and removed them from the garden. But soon the statues started whispering to him and his companions saying spiteful sounding words they did not want to hear.
“You are unworthy of your rank!”
“Your father has always been disappointed in you; he will never be pleased with you!”
“You are hideously ugly, and although you say you do not care, you actually do!”
“You are a party to the queen’s cruelty, an accomplice to all her crimes!”
“You’re a filthy whore with no standards! You are so pathetic that you have slept with a homeless man for but a crust of bread!”
“Your husband has been cheating on you for years; he does not love you anymore!”
“You are an idiot and don’t know what’s good for you!”
“You are weak and lack the will to be a better person and so you drink too much because you are too lazy to sort out your real problems!”
“You are only fat because you won’t control how much you eat!”
On and on the statues whispered into the ears of his companions until they could not stand it any longer. Distressed and demoralised they started deserting the prince one by one. Eventually only Shaylen was left behind to endure the whispering off all the statues.
Continue reading “Shaylen and Bellandria – Part Two”
Lady Envira was ambitious and longed to rule the kingdom so she courted the young king and successfully seduced him. Once queen, she thought she could rule but her husband proved more difficult to control as time went on. She was clever and popular with the nobles and sought a way to depose her husband. The nobles were supportive but only on the condition that she had a male heir. The queen feigned her love for the king until she became with child.
Queen Envira gave birth to a healthy boy, thus securing the succession. Realising her good fortune, she seized the opportunity to depose her husband, the king. Once divorced, disgraced, and cast out into the wilderness beyond the kingdom, the king could no longer thwart the queen’s ambitions. Envira ruled as Queen Regent until her son, Shaylen came of age and demanded his father’s crown.
Fearing that she might lose her power through a conspiracy, she curtailed the freedoms of all in the land and was both hasty and cruel in her punishments. She lived every day on the throne fearing it would be snatched out from underneath her and although she held the reins of power through her son, no one posed more threat to her than her son.
The queen loved her son, but she loved power even more. She never wanted her son to come of age and usurp her position on the throne. She gave directions that her son must be raised entirely by women of the softest and most agreeable nature. Furthermore, he was never to struggle for anything that he wanted. Everything was to be made simple and effortless for him.
“Smother my dear boy with the softest down of motherly charity. Let him never know want, heartache, or despair. Never criticise his ideas nor discomfort his temper,” the queen ordered. Continue reading “Shaylen and Bellandria – Part One”
Today was my birthday. I turned ten and everyone in the family was with me in the family room to celebrate it. Everyone except Dad; he went downstairs to get grandpa out of the cellar. This is the best part about my birthday; it’s the one day of the year that I get to see my grandpa. He lives there underneath the house for the rest of the year. No one ever goes down there except my dad, and sometimes my aunty, too. We live in a big house; it has fourteen bedrooms, two kitchens, a study, a reading room, a classroom, a rumpus room, a family room, and a dining hall. My house is on a big property surrounded by gardens and trees. I live here with my parents, my five brothers and sisters, my aunt and uncle, and my four cousins. My grandpa also lives here of course, locked away in the cellar unseen by all except my dad, but for one day every year dad opens the cellar door and lets grandpa come up to see me on my birthday.
Grandpa didn’t come up right away, he needed time to wake up, eat some breakfast, and for Doctor Allenson to run some tests on him. Dad also said he needs to explain to Grandpa what’s been happening since he last saw me and the rest of the family. Then when it’s lunch time, up comes grandpa. He looks exactly like I remember him being the last time I saw him. He smiles warmly and always gives me the first hug, then he hugs all my siblings and cousins. We have lunch together in the big dining hall. As the birthday boy, I sat at the head of the table, my grandpa sat in the middle, and asks everyone in turn what they have been doing since my last birthday.
We spend the afternoon out in the garden, some of my friends come over and we go off and play by the creek. My dad usually comes with us, but he spends all his time with Grandpa today. I thought that funny because he checks in on Grandpa every other day of the year, yet he talked to grandpa today like he’s not seem him all year! I think it’s unfair that Dad gets to see Grandpa so often, but I only get to see him for one day. I remember when I used to see Grandpa every day. After my friends leave, we have a family dinner together and Grandpa falls asleep. I really miss Grandpa. I kissed him goodnight and, as I went up to bed, I knew during the night my father will take grandpa back down to the basement and I wouldn’t see him again until next year.
Continue reading “My Grandpa is Locked in the Cellar”
After the first month on Hollandia, things started to gradually go downhill for the colony. Up until that time, we had been living mostly off the fruits, roots, and vegetables native to the region. Because there were so many of us, we had quickly exhausted all those natural resources. The colony had to be broken up into twenty smaller colonies and each colony moved to a new part of the island with their own access to fresh water and food resources. Spreading out the population helped reduce the over-harvesting of the island’s ecosystem at the cost of little further technological advancement. For the time being, we were locked in the Iron Age. It took about a month to resettle everyone and then each colony set about trying to solve the problems caused by so many people living off uncultivated land.
By the end of the third month, it was clear to my father and the leaders of the other nineteen colonies that despite our efforts to cultivate the local vegetation, it just wasn’t going to be as high a yield as the crops we grew on the mainland. We needed the crops our ancestors had selected, modified, and cultivated for us over hundreds of generations and brought to this land with them. The blacks on the mainland have no history of farming and no idea where the crops they eat come from. The wheat, barley, quinoa, and corn they depend on each day are the blessings of the white settlers to Zakhanda— blessings they are seldom, if ever, grateful for. If the supply of roots and berries on Hollandia were to run out, we would be forced to rely on fishing and goats, which might keep us alive to the end of one year, but after that, famine would overtake us and our population would collapse just as President Muza had wanted to see, albeit a year later than he expected.
One morning, I was walking along the beach with my brothers, looking for crabs and clams to boil for dinner. My younger brother, George, started shouting, pointing to a great wooden head moving behind the crags that looked like a dragon. We scrambled up the beach and hid in the undergrowth, watching what at first looked like a sea monster. It turned out to be a great wooden boat being rowed by two dozen men at oars and a single sail made of vines and goat’s wool. The men manning the boat were all like us: blond with blue eyes, so we reasoned it was safe and started to approach the vessel as it was coming to shore. My father soon appeared on the beach and joined up with us. Continue reading “Hollandia – Part 2”
“Millie, wake up! Wake up, my precious!” I heard my father’s voice whispering urgently to me. I was confused because it was still the middle of the night. Why was he waking me up now? It was then that I heard the sounds of people shouting in the distance. I quickly got up and started putting on my clothes just like my father had trained me do in dozens of drills. I grabbed my bug-out bag; each member of the family had one; mine was small, as was my younger brothers’ bags. Mother’s was bigger, but Father’s was so big it made him look like a dwarf when he carried that thing on his back. We were all assembled in the kitchen of our shack and by this time the shouting had grown quite loud. Outside the window I could see torches and fires glowing in the distance across the eastern horizon. They were distant, but coming closer to us. There were people and children on the road outside, mostly staring dumbfounded at the fire glow.
Looking back, it beggars my belief that these people were still not prepared for the government attack. Just a few years earlier, they’d been living in cities, in comfortable middle class homes, and working jobs as teachers, accountants, and engineers. The Zakhandan government, under black majority leadership, had taken away their right to work and forced them to live in this shanty town. They were not protected by the law anymore and robbers and murderers preyed upon them all night and day until they dared not leave their corrugated iron sheds. The murder rate was so high here it was worse than during war time. All this because of their skin colour, because they were white. Yet despite years of systematic persecution against them for being whites living in Africa, they stood there gaping incredulously that the government was now actually burning down their shanty town. Such is the poison of thought crimes: it paralyses the victims so they are unable to act in their own self-interest anymore. Continue reading “Hollandia”
Gods walk this land, it is hallowed by their footprints. He who dies in this land will die only in their body; their spirit shall live on. If they have lived a life of virtue then Osiris will guide them out of this realm to the after life. No Egyptian travels far from his homeland for if he dies in a foreign land his spirit will be cursed to wander the Earth in eternal lamentation. No Egyptian would ever willingly leave this land blessed by the gods.
Yet high in the mountains south of Elephantine, the farthest boundary of Egypt, the desert sun was beating down upon a man covered in dirt and bruises. He struggled to climb up from the river valley below. He moved like an ant his thin body hauling a giant pitcher of water on a makeshift sled. Up he went dragging himself and the clay jug through a narrow passage between the sandstone rocks. He eventually reached his destination: a small alcove on the summit looking over the river valley. Here lay a small garden organised in two long beds in the only part of the alcove exposed to the midday sun. In this garden grew some shafts of wheat and a few vegetables. The thin man set the water jug down and rested for a few moments. Unfastening the stopper inside the top of the jug, he started to carefully hoist it up to pour the contents into a small pan that ran along into a canal that fed out to the garden beds. The journey up the hill had weakened him too much and he struggled under the weight of the jug.
“Let me help you with that,” said a voice and the man flinched as two strong hands appeared from behind him and gripped the jug. The jug would have fallen if the other man were not so strong that he could support the full weight of the jug by himself. The thin man scrambled backwards along the ground and watched the intruder carefully pour the contents of the jug into the irrigation channel for his gardens. Continue reading “The Egyptian Expedition”
In the town of Kaladon there lived a sculptor renowned throughout the land for the beauty of his statues. Vergan, for as he was known, made statues of dogs, lions, owls, fish, and bears that were used to decorate all the great buildings of the nation. Vergan was rightly proud of his work, and the crown prince himself had come to thank him for his services on more than one occasion. He believed in excellence above all else and worked long hours perfecting his skills.
However, the sculptor was now old and had no wife, and the loneliness of his days weighed heavily upon him. In the basement of his home he had built a large underground workshop where he put all his passion into a statue of a woman. The proportions and features of this woman were perfect in every way. The stone woman was young, fit, and sublimely beautiful. There was no living woman as outstanding as this statue which he kept hidden away from the eyes of the locals.
Vergan was feeling deeply sad one day as he gazed upon his work, and so he prayed to the god Archen.
“Lord Archen, god of excellence, your servant Vergan has laboured hard in your name to create works of beauty, come here now to gaze upon the most wonderful work of art that I have ever created!” Continue reading “The Marble Beauty”
“Eric,” huffed Steven, “You’ve got to come and see this! There’s a woman in the old farmhouse!”
Eric regarded his friend carefully, Steven was a slightly chubby twelve year old boy with a reputation for exaggeration. Eric was also twelve years old, but was wary of any story that seemed too incredible to be true. Since no one had lived in that big old farmhouse for years, he was duly suspicious of Steven’s account immediately. However, Eric was secretly afraid of going to the farm house on his own and since Steven was willing to do it that gave spurs to his courage to go there too.
Steven lead Eric around to the backyard of the old two story weatherboard house. The summer heat had killed off the garden leaving it a shrivelled and brown. There was a rectangular depression in the ground near a window of one of the back rooms. Eric looked at the weathered grey husk of a building and shivered. The atmosphere of emptiness within the building was so great that it seemed to be drawing the boys into its jaws. Steven was moving towards the back door as though in a trance so Eric tapped him urgently on his shoulder and pointed to something written on the waterboards next to the door. Steven looked groggy for a few moments before he focussed on what Eric was pointing out to him. Just faintly the word “WITCH” could be traced on the exposed wooden panels. Continue reading “The Old Farmhouse”