So I thought I’d include in this third post a piece of writing. I used to write short stories quite a bit growing up, though stopped over the years as I worked on novels. I’ve always been terrible at small projects, as huge worlds and long stories always flow from them and distract me.
I’ve written one or two new stories recently, but I’ve also been going over some of my old ones and re-writing them if I like the premise enough. I’m not sure how long ago this one was written, I only started leaving the date a few years ago but it was written in comic sans ms, which means I was pretty young!
Happy Friday 13th, everyone. Hope you have a delightfully spooky day.
And enjoy the tale.
It was her bane, her own little ordeal to face. Every month she drove out to the tiny cottage in the woods, the one she’d begged him not to sell when his grandmother had died. The one she’d found ‘quiet’ and ‘relaxing’ for small retreats. Every month she waited, her back against the thick vines on the southern wall. They almost covered the entire cabin now, ensnaring the old wood with their creepers and tiny flowers, leaving trails of pale, new wood when their tendrils were pulled away.
Seth hated the place, he refused to come out there with her. Memories of boring fishing expeditions and forced interaction with a family he was glad to have left plagued him on visits. When he had first taken her out there, to see if it was still in one piece, the vines had draped themselves across all openings, and the interior had smelled of mould and disuse.
Farah had instantly fallen in love with the place, she drove out whenever she could to re-varnish and clean and dust until the interior of the cabin was clean and cosy. Until rugs and pillows replaced the dust and fungus. She left the outside how it was, though, creepers down the walls, small, willowy ferns sprouting from the awnings. She used to nag Seth to come out there with her, spend the evening with a glass of wine in front of the fireplace she had spent hours gutting and rebuilding.
When her condition worsened, however, she became grateful for his reluctance. The cabin was her own private menagerie for one. Her own isolation tank.
It had been harder to slip away tonight, and Farah was worried that Seth suspected the worst.
“Oh… she needs me now, babe, I have to leave right away.”
“Farah, wait. Just stop for a sec. Is there anything you want to tell me?”
She had forced a laugh, hoping it didn’t sound too bitter.
“Of course not. I’ll be back in a few days. …I love you.”
He must have thought that her secrets were mundane. That she had grown bored and wanted increasingly more time apart. It was hardly the case. She loved that man just as much as the day they’d met. The day he’d swept her off her feet.
She was just waiting for a visitor.
She felt her guest as it swayed through the darkness around her, on toes as silent as the dead. As it approached, Farah righted herself against the back of the cabin and stood to face it. It was easier this way.
The dark figure swayed and jerked, its limbs hanging at odd angles from its slender body and, without fanfare, it was upon her. Farah felt the cold seep into her bones – her blood – felt her body twist and snap, listened to the cracks and pops as her limbs contorted.
It always hurt. She let the pain and anger wash over her, focussing on the sharpening of her senses, instead. Fire in the distance, the cool, wet ground beneath her feet and the rustle of the breeze across her fur.
Just as suddenly it was done and the creature could pace, restless, beneath the trees. She felt wrong, awkward, as the wolf. Her limbs were too long and they hunched at odd angles, while her snout had too little skin, pulling it back across her maw, baring crooked fangs.
She closed her eyes, breathed, felt the presence inside her shudder and adjust to being whole once more. Then it forced open her eyes and a violent rumble left its chest. It turned, the sound drawing it near, the scent of fresh meat spurring it into action. Its deep, golden eyes narrowed into slits as it approached its prey and it leapt-
Farah’s eyes snapped open and she let out a desperate gasp. She rolled to her side, panting and struggling for air, whimpering in pain as her nails found purchase in the damp earth.
“Oh God…” she whispered, gasped and coughed up something onto the ground in front of her. “What-”
Strong hands gripped her shoulders and rolled her onto her back. For a second she panicked, tried to back away, she knew she might attack, otherwise. But the anger and lust that drove her forward when the Wolf was with her had disappeared. Instead, she looked up into a pair of bright blue eyes and froze.
They were her favourite thing about him: a startlingly pale blue that always seemed to shine for her. The rest of his face came into focus as he stroked her hair.
“Seth?” she whispered.
“Shit, it worked. Thank Christ.” He pulled her to him, then, strong arms around her back.
“The spell,” he told her as he pulled back, helping Farah to her feet, “to get it out of you for good. To stop it coming back.”
He gestured behind her, but Farah didn’t need to look to see the Wolf stalking through the darkness just outside of the light from the cabin’s windows. She could feel it, the clench of its incorporeal fists, the fuming of its darkness.
“How… did you know?” She had kept her secret so well. “Why are you not freaking out?” Her voice trembled as she clasped her hands.
“I’ve known for a while,” he explained, leading her towards the cabin, keeping an eye on the dark figure at the edge of the cabin’s safe glow, “just needed a way to figure out the right components, magic can be tricky like that.”
“…magic,” she repeated, fixing him with an incredulous look.
“Yeah, Far, magic. You gonna turn into a huge carnivore every new moon and tell me that magic isn’t a thing?”
“I…” Farah frowned, she felt cold and tired and defeated.
Seth saw it, she knew. “C’mon,” he put an arm around her shoulders, “I’ll explain more about the Society in the car. Let’s get you home.”
As they stepped towards the car, she let a little giggle rise up in her throat. This was too much – the ‘Society’? – she needed a few glasses of wine and a long bath to deal with this. “I expected you thought I was cheating on you.”
Seth snorted, “I know you better than that, baby.”
Life changes a little when you find out your boyfriend is a magician. If it hadn’t been for her own secret in the cabin, Farah might have felt a little upset that Seth had never told her. Regardless, he had still remained reluctant to tell her much about the Society over the last two months. Safer if she didn’t know as much, he said, and no he wasn’t going to make them win the lottery, and no she wasn’t allowed to meet the other Societarians. She wondered what sort of word that was for it, or if it even was a word. English wasn’t her native language, but she doubted it.
Still, she felt a calling, a beckoning at the edge of her senses. The next new moon had been terrifying, but the Wolf had stayed away and she had been able to sleep blissfully that night. This time, the call was even weaker but it seemed different, somehow. It was not the commanding tug of an impatient master, it was softer. Desperate.
Seth had disappeared this time, said he needed to check in with the Society and left her for the evening. It was after dark now, and the Wolf was nowhere to be seen. Yet Farah thought she could still feel the call. After an hour of pacing, she made her decision. She hopped in the car and drove.
There was no light in the cabin, though some small part of her expected to see it lit, and she could no longer feel the Wolf. Farah stepped up to the front door and searched for her keys in the darkness. Beneath their jangling she caught a low scraping sound.
Very slowly, Farah turned until she could place her back agains the door of the cabin. In the darkness, she could make out several sets of glowing, golden eyes. They were familiar. Recognised from the few times she had approached the cabin before dawn and caught sight of her hideous maw in the window. The molten, angry gold of the hunter, of all-consuming bloodlust.
“Oh no… oh no no no,” she whispered, watching as two of the creatures ventured forward. They were huge, Farah could hardly believe that she might have been so large when the Wolf was inside her.
With each step they drew closer, viscous liquids dripping from their mismatched teeth. For a few seconds, she remained completely still.
Then, she was running. Blind panic fuelled her on. Leaves rushed around her as the creatures thudded behind. They made no sound, no howl of the hunt, no snarl. They were… God, they were in control. But how? And how were there so many? There had been only one visitor, one Wolf. Were any of them hers?
Seth would find her. He’d given her the necklace for that very reason, to know where she was, if she was safe. It was magical, he’d said.
But her boot caught a rock or a root and Farah went tumbling to the ground, something slicing her cheek as her head hit rock. Frozen, she breathed only as much as she dared, though she knew it was pointless: they would find her.
The soft crack of leaves beneath paws signalled their arrival, she could hear panting in the darkness. How were there so many? Trembling, she raised her head and prayed that Seth would be here soon, that he would know what to do.
The nearest creature padded forward. Ir lowered its twisted maw and the scent of blood and fetid meat washed across her face. She knew without looking that they hungered, she had felt it herself, after all.
She also knew with thunderous clarity that Seth was not going to save her. The beast in front of her cocked its head to the side as it advanced, maw opening wide, but it never took its shockingly pale blue eyes from hers.
tl;dr: The most important life lesson is that mages are assholes.