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    Ogre in the Playground
    banjo1985's Avatar

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    May 2007

    Default Re: Playground Writers Workshop (Read 1st Post)

    Time for my first prose contribution, now I've actually written something I don't wince at too badly when I read it back. It's a two chapter Prologue to a full length novel I have in mind, in which the main character doesn't even make an appearance:

    Inner Demons
    Modern Fantasy/Horror
    Word Count - 1650(ish)

    Prologue Chapter 1
    The crypt was deathly cold, despite the summer warmth outside. It had been a blistering July day, and it was still humid even with the sun half dipped behind the horizon, but the suns rays had done nothing to thaw this particular place. A crypt like this would never thaw, not whilst the gate remained open far below. It was a bit of a mystery really, how the gates made places so cold when they opened up onto what they did. The man in the cream suit stretched out a pale hand and placed it on one of the large grey slabs that lined the walls. The stone was almost freezing, it chilled and numbed his hand in the few seconds between him touching it and pulling away.

    “Frigid today, aren’t we?” Sebastian Pewter smiled to himself and strolled over to the three stone coffins that sat against the far wall, each engraved with the names and epitaph’s of the supposed interred. He read the inscription on the tarnished brass plate of the middle coffin, just as he had so many times before. Edward Arch, for him the Gate is Always Open. It was strange as far as epitaphs went, and no lifespan, no clue as to how old the coffin or the crypt around it actually was. The dull grey stones of the crypt were ageless and gave away nothing. The cemetery itself was supposedly at least three hundred years old, but local records were notoriously sketchy. True or not, the gate had always been here, and that was what mattered. The other coffins were apparently home to Alice and Victor Arch, also without age, and apparently not important enough even for a tagline. But it wasn’t them Sebastian was interested in, it was the middle Arch that he had come to see.

    “Hi again Eddie, care to share some hospitality?” He moved to the head of the coffin and gave the lid a light tap. Immediately the heavy stone slid towards the foot of the casket, as if on a cushion of air, revealing a cold and sterile interior. Sebastian doubted the stone casket had ever been occupied, and he was pretty sure Edward Arch had never existed either. Even if he had, he’d never taken up the option of this particular bit of eternal real estate. Alice and Victor on the other hand, they might well be around, though he’d never opened up the other coffins to find out. The dead had earned their rest after all, and Sebastian wasn’t about to disturb them without good reason. There were too many troubles in the living world to mess around with what might come afterwards.

    The lid stopped silently almost halfway down the coffin, about where the resident’s waist would have been. Sebastian stepped in and sat down, sliding his legs down into the darkness. When he was comfortable he lay back and closed his eyes as the coffin lid slipped soundlessly back over him, cutting him off from the world outside. That was alright though, it wasn’t anyone in this world that he wanted to talk to.

    Prologue Chapter 2
    It was all a matter of concentration really, just one little thought and you were there. You just had to know what you were doing. Before he even opened his eyes he knew from the dramatic change in temperature that he was there. Dry heat stroked tenderly at his exposed skin and he immediately started to sweat in his suit. Sebastian stood up and dusted himself down as best he could, though the parched red earth seemed to stick like glue despite the arid conditions.

    He was standing on a small patch of ground surrounded by a crowd of jagged black rocks that towered over him on all sides. The rocks bathed the tiny area in deep shadow and blocked out most of the watery grey light of the place, making it feel like night. A narrow trail picked a path through the rocks to the east, where the ground started to fall away sharply towards a dried up riverbed far below. He’d been down there a few times before, but there was no need today. The reason for his trip was much closer to home.

    “Come on out my little friend, I know you’re here.” Something shifted behind one of the smaller rocks off to the left, but kept itself hidden. Sebastian smiled. “If you’re going to hide you at least need to make sure you stay quiet.”

    He slipped a hand into the breast pocket of his shirt and bought out a battered yellow and red badge, its pin bent and broken. There was a rough face printed on it, the yellow half smiling, the red half scowling with rage. Both halves were marred by spots of dried blood. He held the badge between thumb and forefinger, then flicked it onto the ground several yards away from him. He waited.

    “Y-you...bought an offering?” The voice that came from behind the rock was high and cracked, like a young girls singing voice made hoarse by too many forced performances. It was weak and needy, every syllable seeming to reach out and grasp for attention, for reassurance. Sebastian said nothing, just waited patiently, a knowing smile playing across his features.

    After a few moments a dark shape detached itself from the shielding bulk of the rock and scuttled cautiously over to where the badge lay on the ground. It was a small creature, about the size of a Labrador, bipedal but hunched over so that its arms dragged across the floor. More than anything it looked like a cross between a hedgehog and a chimpanzee, all bony spines and long wiry limbs. Its pock-marked skin was midnight blue, except for the places where red sores and lesions opened like wounds, dripping with yellow puss. Its face was surprisingly human in a bestial kind of way; two beady little red eyes peered out from underneath a protruding forehead studded with horns and sores. It snuffled around the badge then looked up at Sebastian, its eyes glowing like fiery embers. Sebastian’s smile faltered, but he held his ground. As grotesque as the creature looked, he’d met with it enough times to know it was utterly spineless. It snatched up the badge in one long fingered hand and retreated a few yards.

    “What do you want White Suit Man? I’ve been good, very good I have! Stayed away from crypt, just like you said! Longing stay on this side, not cause more trouble I swear!”

    Sebastian laughed a little, he couldn’t help it. The demon was afraid of him, it was actually quite perverse when you compared the threat posed by an unarmed man to that of a three foot tall humanoid porcupine. “It’s cream actually. I’m not here about that anyway, I know you’ve been a good boy. I’ve got far more important things on my mind.” The creature rubbed its hands together nervously and stared up at him, seemingly unconvinced. “What’s going on down here, someone pour boiling water down the anthill?”

    The creature shifted on its splayed bird-like feet and looked down at the ground. “The masters are restless. Disturbed. The demons all on edge, smaller one’s been forced out, consumed even! Longing scared...something been happened.”

    At least that explained why his workload had gone up so much recently. There was one obvious question to ask, so Sebastian asked it. “What’s happened then Longing? It’s bleeding through into our world, in the last few weeks there’s been more of your kind coming through the gates than there have for years. It’s only a matter of time one slips through the net, and some poor drunkard sees something. There’s only so many sightings of the Stanbrook Cemetary Cougar that people can take before they start asking questions. More importantly, I’m starting to run out of bullets.”The threat wasn’t lost on Longing, The little beast began to gibber and quail, and held its spidery hands up in a gesture of surrender.
    “I not know! Longing not know! I nothing, masters not even notice me...Please, I good! Tell White Suit Man all I know!”

    Sebastian sighed and shook his head. Longing wasn’t lying. The poor wretch didn’t have it in him, there wasn’t a malicious bone in his twisted little body. The demon had the higher level intelligence that most of his kind lacked, but none of the physical strength or predatory and murderous instinct. He was also an awful liar and a hopeless coward. All in all, Sebastian had been very lucky to come across a demon weak and spineless enough to be threatened into being an informant, and bright enough to actually articulate what he’d seen. “Have you got nothing for me little guy? Think for a minute, work the grey matter a little.”

    The demon nodded, eager to at least seem helpful. Sebastian waited patiently while Longing doodled on the ground with a ragged claw and muttered to himself. Just as he was about to give up Longing squealed in triumph, his beady red eyes glowing. “Longing remember! Something pass through city two lights ago. Not demon but not man, went towards other gate. Longing scared, but followed anyway, think he might have offerings. Not Man had big demons with him, said something to one and Longing hear as well!” The demon pointed at himself proudly, almost like a dog that’s just performed a trick.

    “What did the Not Man say, his exact words?”
    The demon thought for a moment, then his horned brow furrowing as he spoke proper English for probably the first and only time. “You will find and hunt the key...and the gates will be blown open.”
    “Two lights ago you said?”
    Longing nodded. “Two lights, one dark.”
    Seb stalked away without another word. He might already be too late.
    Last edited by banjo1985; 2009-09-19 at 08:41 AM.

    Excellent Elan & Yoshi avatar by Mr Saturn