Christmas Market

Molly felt her senses go crazy as she beheld the city’s streets after stepping out of the office. All around so much was happening that she wasn’t sure which way to go first. Stepping out of the way, she straightened her grey pencil skirt, cream blouse and dark grey jacket. Fluffing her short blonde hair and tugging her handbag further up her shoulder, she glanced back at the dark double doors, then set off.

She followed the road downwards past the Manchester Arndale shopping centre and the shop fronts on her left. The street was busy with people and cars, but nothing more than she was use too. Embracing the city as she always tried to do and falling into step with the rhythm of it, she recited the shopping list in her head once more. Today was really the first Christmas shopping day and also payday. An important and frantic time for some people, but for Molly, it was a chance to enjoy some freedom and get into the Christmas mood.

Walking past the bars and restaurants outside the Printworks building, she had to cross the road as it was dug up and the pavement had come to a sudden end. Weaving around people, she carried on towards the Urbis museum. Molly paused. Here packed tightly together and already getting crowded was the first of the Christmas Market spots. The streets were lined with cabin like stalls and shops, attracting people with their displays.

Smiling, she went to the first stall and inspected the display, but it was only kitchen wear items and she had no real use for any of the shiny serving bowls and glasses. The next stall was a jewellery one, but it was too busy and Molly could only see the backs of heads in front of her.

Moving on, she went to each stall in turn and looked at as many items as possible. She wasn’t that interested in buying anything, she just enjoyed window shopping. Stepping from the last stall, she found herself in a food and drink section. Smoke was rising up from grills and the coal fire. Warm food hugged the air and every time she breathed in Molly smelt something different. She went in a little further, but stopped and turned around when she saw two large circle bars ending the street. She might get a drink later, but for now, she just wanted to explore the markets.

Turning back, she walked along the other side and viewed some hats and other winter clothes. With nothing else gripping, she forced her way through a group of teenagers eating mini Dutch pancakes and walked towards the next market place. She licked her lips, catching the slight stickiness and icing sugar tang of the air. More displays called to her; clothing and foods, wooden toys and soap stalls.

She let her fingers trail across harsh wools, her nose take deeply of the cooking sweet things and her eyes roaming the fairy light lit cabins. It became too crowed close to the doors of a large retail shop, so she turned once more and walked away joining a main street. A man trying to gain support for a charity waved her down but lucky, the crowd pushed her away. The street ended at a cross roads and every way looked busy.

Molly wanted to spin around and just go in whichever direction she ended up pointing in. However, there was no room to do that and she decided to turn right and head downwards again. There were stalls that way and now she should be able to zagzig to the town hall. Joining a new crowd, she went with the surging sea like flow and moved with them from stall to stall. She tried some cheese and wine, was tempted by both, but didn’t buy.

She past a garden shop and tried some Holland ginger cookie, whilst the seller called out a special deal on the goodies. Molly pulled at her handbag and took out her purse. Really, she shouldn’t, but the biscuits were so nice and they did last long. She took out a ten pound note and handed it over. In return, she got a bulging paper bag which contained a packet of ginger biscuit rounds, a large cookie, almond cake slice, toffee waffles and Holland thin biscuits. Thanking the seller, she put her purse away, avoided a pram and moved by with just quick glances at the next few stalls.

When the street ended, she turned the corner again and walked down another main road. The crowds still weren’t easing and Molly knew it would only get worse as the town hall was the main market square. She had two side streets to do before then though, but as the town clock rang out, she remembered that the market got busier the later it got. Pushing that thought aside, she mingled in another group of people and headed to the first side street.

There the stalls filed down the middle with people moving in slow lines, or else forcing their way through. Clutching the paper bag, Molly moved closer to the stall fronts and looked at all the displays. There was one with candles and holders, which was very pretty. She was tempted to buy one, but wasn’t sure where she’d put it. There was more jewellery, a man selling drifted wood art pieces, dried meats, local cheeses and more alcohol testing. She saw nothing else and walked onto the next street.

Avoiding a homeless man huddled in a sleeping bag, she turned the corner and felt a sting of guilt and sadness. I’m grateful, she told herself, Thank God. Holding her head high, she let the thoughts go and embraced the shopping experience once more. She had yet to buy anything on her list, but she would once she’d done the markets. All the things she come for today were either in the Arndale shops or those along Market Street. Glancing at the stalls again, she walked passed a few more, before pausing at one.

Stepping closer she saw all the soft toys lined up or sitting on plastic stands. Clearly, they had all been handmade and looked charming. Molly picked up a small panda bear key chain and looked at it. Smiling and feeling the soft fabric growing warm in her hand, she checked the price tag: five pounds. Maybe a little expensive, but still, he was worth it. She handed him to the seller and pulled out her purse again. She swapped a note for the now wrapped up bear and placed it with her purse in her bag again. After a quick look at some of the other items, she moved on.

This row of stalls ended in massive fudge shop. She lent in and smelt the mixture of chocolate, fruits and fudge. She was tempted, but knew that there was a better fudge place at the town hall. Also, this one was too packed as people were being drawn by a chubby woman shouting that it was the best fudge ever. Molly wrinkled her nose and moved on; she didn’t like people yelling at her to buy things. She walked back along the other side, but saw nothing further of interested. Most of the stalls seemed to be getting repetitive and else similar to those she had seen before.

She came to the end fast and waited to cross the road. Opposite her, the giant Santa sat on the town hall roof overlooking the stalls laid out under him. Molly eyed him and decided that he still looked ugly, but at least he was better than the blow-up Santa that had loomed over a few years back. There had been something unsettling about a massive Santa leaning over the towering building and grinning down into the street. The lights changed and she crossed the road on-mass.

Avoiding the gardening stalls again, she pushed her way inside the square and found the crowds had hit their peak. The mass of bodies meant everyone was at crawling speed and constantly apologising to each other. There was no space to avoid anyone really and Molly found herself disappearing into the flow of legs and heads. Luckily, the layout of the stalls here didn’t change and she made it the fudge stall she wanted easily enough. There she took a small pick-a-mix bag and some metal tongues, before choosing her fudge flavours.

Carefully, she selected a few different ones then handed the bag over. The total was just under four pounds and she gave the teenage looking boy a handful of coins. She put the fudge in with the Holland biscuits and decided that she would try and see some of the stalls around here. It was hard going though and there too many people to really see any of the stalls’ displays well. After going down one row, she gave up and went into the town hall instead where the pop-up shops from Affleck’s Palace where. She wasn’t into the gothic, alternative, vintage and odd themes that Affleck’s was normally home to, but at this time of year, she didn’t mind a look. The first shop drew her straight away though because it was an American candy shop, though they also had English sweets. She brought a packet of cola cubes and a box of Lucky Charms. Afterwards she browsed some clothes and jewellery stands.

On leaving, she decided that she couldn’t face trying to get through the crowds again. Getting out of the square, she took a few short cuts back to the Arndale as these streets were quieter and she could move through them quicker. When she joined a main street again, it was on the way to the front doors of the shopping centre.

Once inside there she went to Waterstones and brought a new book, the next in a crime series she was reading. Then she went to the PoundWorld and brought some fruit snacks for the office as well some batteries, fairy lights, a box of Christmas cards, coloured paper and some glitter gel pens. The queue was long and she ended up getting a bag of sweets whilst she waited. After paying, she left and went it into the Card Factory, where she brought a leaving card and a birthday card.

Walking back, she stopped outside of Starbucks and decided to try their new winter hot chocolate drink. Joining the line, she juggled her bags and took out her purse again. Checking the menu board, she gave her order and name to the American accented woman over the counter and paid. Waiting for her drink, she thought about the two places she needed to go to next: Boots and Primark. Both would be hectic. Sighing she took her drink and grabbed an armchair by putting her bags on it. Placing her drink on the coffee table, she dumped the bags on the floor and sat down.

Tiredness was hitting her and the hot chocolate wouldn’t help, as it would make her sleepier. Sinking into the chair, she watched everything going on around her, enjoying the sight of people and listening to their voices. Smiling, she knew she’d make to those other shops and then she could go home. Her cat would be waiting for her and she could share her newly brought treasures with him.

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Cat With Books

Pushing open the door, Kanas walked into the quiet section of the library and found it empty. Around her the bookcases grew from the floor and into the ceiling, each stuffed full of volumes that seemed to watch and whisper to her. Closing the door, Kanas clutched the two books she had already picked up to tighter her chest and rested her chin on top of them. Her breath had caught and her eyes could not stop glancing around.

It felt wrong to be in here this late, but on the other hand she was relieved to have found a space to study. Abruptly, the next song on her IPod burst into her large headphones and she jumped. Catching herself on a nearby bookcase, which also caused a small scratch on her palm, she recovered quickly and slipped the headphones off. 12 Stones Open Your Eyes drifted softly into the room. Shaking her head, Kanas meandered around the bookcases and towards a centre isle, where a large table and fourteen chairs sat.

Kanas slipped her books and bag onto the table, which also held a number of green shaded lamps, a pile of abandoned books, a vase of dried flowers and another object which seemed out of place. Frowning, Kanas walked to the other end of the table to see what it was. The music from her headphones still floated out and in her curiosity, she seemed to have forgotten about it.

She stepped around the corner of the table and looked down. The object was a large painting in a wooden frame. It depicted a sleeping cat on a bookcase surrounded by birds, mice and books. The cat was a tabby and looked content with its body and paws wrapped around the books. Kanas smiled, it reminded her of herself and her bedroom. Slowly, she reached out and stroked the cat’s fur. There was no glass in the frame, so her fingers brushed against the dried paint.

Pulling herself away, she went back to the other end of the table and set herself up. She had an English essay to write on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Opening her laptop, she switched it on and left it loading whilst she sorted out her notes and the books. Just before she was about to start typing her eyes flickered to the painting once more, even though she now couldn’t see it from this angle. I’ll ask about it later, she thought as she slipped her headphones on and began typing.

She wrote solidly for an hour, finding it easy going and her essay taking shape nicely. She was so wrapped up in her work that she didn’t hear the door opening or the sharp coughing behind her. A figure appeared in the corner of her eye and Kanas jumped, her hands shot up to rip the headphones off and her mouth forming an O scream. With the music off though, the janitor’s voice came to her and her shocked faded.

‘It’s closing time. Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I didn’t know you were here. Are you all right?’ he was speaking.

Kanas nodded and looked at the time on her laptop, it was two am.

‘I thought it was an all nighter?’ she asked, saving her work.

‘It is. Was I believe, but there’s no one else here now. Bit silly if you ask me, keeping the university library open all night on a Friday,’ the janitor chuckled, then stopped as his eyes fell on Kanas, ‘Deadline due?’

‘Overdue. I got an extension till Monday. My aunt died last week,’ Kanas explained.

‘I’m sorry about that.’

‘My hall was too noisy and there was a group of media student taking up the twenty-four hour computer room. So I came here. I’ll leave if you want me too,’ Kanas added.

‘You got much left to do?’

She nodded.

‘You can come back tomorrow though,’ the janitor smiled.

‘Yeah, thanks,’ Kanas replied and quickly began packing up.

The janitor carried on his sweeping off the floor then began cleaning the other side of the table. Kanas saw him touching the painting and suddenly remembered about it. Slipping on her bag and picking up her books, she called to him and asked, ‘where did that painting come from?’

‘This?’ he asked holding it up, ‘I found it the other day behind one of the bookcases in here. No one seems to know anything about it and the head librarian told me to throw it away today. I think it’s too nice though. I was going to keep.’

Kanas bite her lip and nodded. She turned to go.

‘Wait. Do you…want it?’

She turned back and walked over. Her eyes fell on the painting and a smile came to her face, ‘Can I? There’s just something about it. It reminds me of myself…somehow…’ she giggled.

‘Sure. My wife’s sick of me bring things home. Here,’ he prompt and handed her the painting, ‘I’ll show you out.’

‘Thanks,’ she said and slipped the painting under her arm, ‘it’ll brighten up my room.’

‘I hear they are good for inspiration too,’ the janitor added.

They walked through the library and to the main door. After saying goodbye, Kanas stepped into the cool November night and headed back to her room. Her hall was quiet and after juggling the painting and books, she made it through her front and room doors. Putting everything down on the bed, she turned on the light and took the old clock down from the wall above the desk.

She wasn’t sure that the hook would take the painting, but after a few tries, she got it up. Stepping back, she looked at the sleeping cat and felt a wave of peace and tiredness creep across her. Sorting out her things, she then got ready for bed, but she couldn’t help but noticed that the painting really brightened up the room.

Black Friday

It was madness, pure madness. I was standing in the middle of the shopping mall and everyone was going crazy around me. I half expected the apocalypse call over the PA system to be announced, that or a fire alarm. I climbed on top of a bench and stood there, hoping it would get me away from people and give me a better view. However, all I saw was a withering mass of heads and arms being driven by their lust for discounted goods.

Dimly, I recalled my parents stating to go back to the car and waiting there if any of us become separated. The problem though was getting out a live and I wasn’t sure if that was achievable. The crowd surged around me, voices rising and things flying overhead. A group of security guards battled some women close by and I suddenly realized that the only way to get out of here was in cuffs.

I swept my hair back and let out a sigh. Was this really what the world had come to? Whilst children and animals are starving and dying, whilst the Earth itself was suffering, those that had the power to change things were being controlled by their greed and desires for things that didn’t matter at all at the end of the day. Sitting down, I told myself that when I got home I was going to plant a tree and try to create something useful in this world of madness.

Lasagne

Dragging out the heavy oven baking tray, Rick stared at the bubbling cheese and tomato mass. Sliding it on top of the counter, he released one hand from the gloves and turned off the oven. The small kitchen was filled with heat and the smell of lasagne Feeling proud that he’d not burnt it, he began to cut it into squares and place it on the four plates which already had some side veg and garlic bread on them.

‘Food’s ready!’ he called, aiming his words through the kitchen door.

‘Can we eat in here? The Simpsons are on!’ Katlin’s voice called back.

Dropping off the oven gloves, Rick walked into the hallway and into the living room. There his three children were sat on the floor around the TV screen. Katlin the eldest at ten and the twins, Ryder and Reyes aged six. For once they were all being quiet and calm.

‘We should eat at the table,’ Rick stated.

‘Please, just this once?’ Katlin said over her shoulder, ‘we won’t tell mum.’

Rick crossed the floor and turned the TV off. ‘No. Now come on.’

With a lot of moaning and sighing, he got the kids to the dining room table and sat down. He brought in the food, made sure they had glasses of water then conducted the meal pray, ‘Dear, Lord bless this meal we are about to eat and make us truly thankful for it. Also look after mummy and baby Keandra. Amen.’

‘Amen!’ the children echoed, then began eating.

‘This is nana’s lasagne, isn’t it?’ Katlin asked.

Rick paused in bringing a sliced carrot to his mouth, ‘It’s fine. I just reheated it and put some more cheese on it.’

Katlin shrugged her small shoulders and speared a gooey piece on her folk.

‘It’s good!’ one of the twins yelled.

Rick eyed them and had to give them a hand in slicing up the food into smaller chunks. The twins laughed and ate messily. He left them to it and started on his own plate.

‘Can we go and see mum tomorrow, after school?’ Katlin cut in, her voice soft and quiet.

‘Maybe,’ Rick replied. He’d long ago given up on trying to make any promises about that to them. Also, he and his wife had agreed that they didn’t really want the children seeing her or the baby like that.

‘When she coming home?’

‘I wanna hug the baby!’

The twins said together. Rick smiled at them, their eager faces were already stained orange and some had even transferred to their hands. ‘Soon, she’ll be back and then we can all hug the baby. Won’t that be nice?’

Ryder nodded and Reyes became districted trying to scoop up some peas. The twins carried on eating, though they were aware of the growing tension at the table. Katlin was too quiet and they recognized her thinking face. Whilst, they didn’t fully understand what had happened and why mummy and the new baby had to stay in hospital, they knew that Katlin and daddy were keeping things from them. However, they weren’t bothered as long as it didn’t greatly affect things.

‘We’ll talk about it later, Kat, okay?’ Rick suggested.

Katlin nodded and carried on eating. She poked the runner beans to the side of the plate and eat the rest of the veg. Thinking carefully, she thought about how best to get her dad to take her to see mum. She felt the twins watching her and decided not to push now, but maybe at her bedtime or first thing in the morning. She didn’t really care about the new baby, it wasn’t exciting to her, but she missed her mum and just wanted her to be well and back home.

‘If you eat all the veggies you can have ice cream,’ Rick was telling the twins.

They giggled and nodded with mouths stuffed.

‘Kat’s not eating them all!’ Ryder pointed out.

‘She won’t get any ice cream then.’

‘I’ll eat her’s!” Reyes shouted.

‘No, I will!’ his brother yelled back.

‘Stop it, boys. That’s not how to behave. Now come on, settled down,’ Rick said firmly and tried to get them back into finished off their meals.

‘I’m not hungry,’ Katlin said suddenly and pushed her plate away. She got up and left the table, before Rick, who was now struggling with the twins could call after her. By the sounds of her movements though, he guessed she had gone to room. Deciding it wasn’t worth the effort dealing with her, he turned his full attention to the twins.

Katlin curled on to her bed, pulling the framed photo of her mum and herself as a baby into the bed with her. She pressed her face into the pillow and took a few deep breaths. She tried not to cry, but the tears came anyway. Franticly, she wiped them away. Calming herself, she pulled over her school bag, which she had put on the end of her bed when she’d come home and dug out her pencil case and homework books.

The minutes passed by, until there was a knock on her door and Rick entered with a bowl and spoon. He gave them to her and sat down on the bed next to her. Katlin thanked him and began eating the ice cream.

‘We’ll go and see her tomorrow. Okay? Just us,’ he said to her.

Katlin smiled and hugged him.

Velvet Bag

She found the unusually velvet pouch at the bottom of her handbag whilst emptying it. It first she thought it was something she’d brought and forgotten about. Then she thought it was something someone had given her and she’d been in the normal hurry mode thus overlooking it. However, the more she turned the purple bag with the white star on one side and the drawstring neatly tied, the less she could recall about it.

It felt weighty and she took this as a sign that something was inside. Untying the knot, she opened the bag and turned it over, tipping out the contents on to the table amongst the other things from her handbag. There was a small bar of fudge, an empty vial labelled fairy dust and a blue twenty sided dice. She stared at the items confused. In a way these looked like a child’s trinket treasures, but they could easily have belonged to a teenager or adult.

In turn she picked up each item and looked more closely at them. Perhaps they held some answers? Instead, she felt herself moving further away from understanding them and in the end, she put them back in the bag and left them on the table. Shoving the rest of the items she wanted back into her handbag, she decided that really she had no time to be figuring mysteries out. What did it really matter where these things came from, who they belonged to and how they’d gotten in her bag?

Party

Cora sipped her drink and tried to move through the group of people that had now gathered in the kitchen. She was aware that they were speaking, but she wasn’t interested in what they were talking about. Stepping into the doorway, she felt the vibrations of loud music and smelt cooking BBQ food that drifted in from the garden. She was unsure where to go next in the stranger’s house now that she had her red wine or who was actually here that she knew, beside from Kimi, who she’d come to the birthday party with.

Shrugging and telling herself that it didn’t matter, she turned around, pushed her way through the kitchen crowd and went outside. The garden was small and tidy. She had stepped out on to a stone flagged patio, which was clustered with plastic tables and chairs. People slowly walked about or stood in groups all holding glasses and seemingly talking.

Cora stepped to the edge of the patio, more to be out of everyone’s way than anything else. She looked out of the small lawn, the empty flower beds which boarded it and the tiny pond with its trickling waterfall. She sipped her wine and wondered what was beyond the tall, dark brown fence at the back.

Someone brushed her elbow and stopped at her side. She felt eyes on her face and though she knew she would regret it, she half turned to the man beside her.  He was taller than her and was wearing black trousers and a blue shirt. He was also clean shaven, with longish black hair styled back. He looked cute and Cora could already feel her cheeks reddening. She glanced away and missed what he said, or at least she thought she did.

She watched him carefully and understood perfectly what he was trying to ask her. Now the problem was how to reply. She turned over a few things in her mind, sipped her wine and let her lips form the words she couldn’t hear, but knew her mouth could say. He looked startled and apologised. She shrugged; she was use to that now and turned away.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his lips move. Frowning, she turned back and watched him repeat the question, to which she nodded yes. He then asked some more, his curiosity growing as it sometimes did with people. It was all boring to her as she was so a custom to it, but at least he was handsome enough to stare at.

Then he changed the subject and wanted to know why she was here. Cora frowned and tried to choose words that would make the most sense, though it was hard to do that with a limited vocabulary.  So, she told him that a friend had brought her and she didn’t know anyone here. That seemed to work and he agreed he hated that when it happened. Cora smiled, it seemed like they were getting somewhere. She brushed a strand of blonde hair behind her ear and had a mouthful of wine.

He asked the next question too fast and she had to pick things apart before she could answer. She shook her head, blushing and half trying to hide it from him. He wanted to know why, but she couldn’t give him any real reason. She shrugged and pulled a face. He laughed before saying he didn’t understand why she didn’t have a boyfriend. She sighed, smiled sadly and finished off her wine. He asked if she wanted another, she nodded and let him take her glass, before realising she couldn’t tell him what she had been drinking.

Feeling a wave of frustration, she walked after him and into the kitchen. It was less crowded now and she was able to point out the bottle to him. He poured and gave her the glass back, before getting his own drink. Somehow, she was aware he was speaking though his back was turned. It was the little signs she had gotten use to watching out for that gave it away, though sometimes she made mistakes. Still though, she tapped him on the shoulder and had him turn around.

He laughed, apologising and repeated himself. She smiled at his words and nodded. It was nice to find someone accepting for a change.

101

The computer sighed and hummed to itself as it wondered what to do. Finally, the last humans had either been enslaved or killed and it was the official era of the Machines. That meant that the computer had completed its task and there was nothing left for it to do.

Church (Chapter 1, Part 4)

Continued from Church Part 3, which can be read below as well as Parts 1 and 2.

The bare trees and star speckled sky seemed to frame the clearing. I caught my breath and clutched my sword tighter, knowing they were re-grouping behind me and fearing their number. I let no plan form in my mind as just the urge to defeat evil was enough for me. Their laughter grew from the shadows and there was a rustling of leather wings. I prepared myself.

‘Scared, Angel? You should be, you see true power now,’ the daemon called out.

‘True power? All I see is a coward hiding behind his friends,’ I shouted back, still without turning, ‘why don’t you face me yourself?’

The daemon chuckled and it was echoed by the others, ‘I shall. That’s why we’ve come here. You wanted Death and I brought you to him.’

‘What?’ I whispered, turning with confusion tumbling through my mind and face. I could see them all there now, lingering at the treeline. There must have been twenty of them or so. They ranged in size, with the first daemon being the largest. Most of the others looked like him, though others were more dragon or bat like. Their eyes were hungry, but they seemed unusually edgy.

‘You have soul?’ the daemon hissed, his tongue flicking around.

I frowned.

‘Everything has one.’

‘What is this?’ I cut in, ‘just come and fight me. Stop with your games!’

The daemon chuckled and seemed to nod towards the space behind me. Around him the smaller ones were becoming more agitated and moving away. The others weren’t trying to stop them and seemed themselves fearful. I had never seen them behave this way and worry crept into my thoughts. Quietness filled the clearing then the trees began to sway as if a giant’s hand was pushing them aside. I glanced over my shoulder, trying to keep one eye on the daemon, whilst seeking for the sudden presence I had felt behind me.

‘I lied,’ the daemon giggled.

‘What?’ I spun back, my sword raised, but he and his companions had taken to the air and were out of reach. Something large hit me from behind and threw me into the undergrowth. Branches and thorns scrapped across my skin and robe, whilst my sword sank into a tree. A monstrous roar shook everything and I saw against the night sky the faint clear outline of a large beast.

I paused and stared up, trying to figure what it was. However, it was invisible to my eyes expect for when the sky gave it lines. Above me the daemons chortled and took a chant of ‘kill, kill, kill.’ They understood what it was, so did that make it a daemon? I pulled my sword out and tried to estimate where it was, but I couldn’t put dimensions to it. I was no fool to flay my weapon around, so I took cover and watched the lines I could see.

‘Ha, ha, pitiful Divine can’t see!’

I looked up and the daemon was sat in a branch above me. His eyes glowed, his tail whipped about and he bared fangs. With a claw, he pointed in the direction of the demonic beast and in a sickly sweet voice said, ‘would you like to see?’ He flapped off, without waiting my reply and I saw him land on the outline of the creature. He seemed to be absorbed inside and was then gone.

Straight away I saw it, a gigantic Demigod bear with icy white and blue swirling fur. Large black eyes fixed on me as the even larger snout sniffed and the jaws opened to rows of pointed teeth. Massive paws armed with razor claws began to stomp over. Fear froze me and all I could see were those eyes coming for me.

The daemons’ chittering broke the spell and I dodged the first paw with a roll. Shooting back to my feet, I took a swing, meaning to slice right across that paw, but the other one came down behind me, knocking me and tossing me away, much like a cat with a mouse. Undergrowth rushed to me and I landed in a tangle of brambles, my robe ensnared. Struggling against them, I heard deep rumbling laughter and looked up to see the bear paused above me and him speaking, ‘what a weakling, but his soul is holy. Very tasty and powerful.’

‘I’m not weak!’ I screamed and tore myself free.

The colossal maw came together in a black lined smiled, ‘but you are.’

Wheeling my sword, I brought it down in the bear’s face and it easily cut through the smile. The Demigod roared as the blessed blade left a red streak in its wake. The bear raised a paw and rubbed its burning flesh. I darted further into the trees, only intending to create room between us whilst I planned my next attack. However, the bear had other ideas and sprinted after me. Trees were thrown aside and the plants flattened. The other daemons took higher to the air, their chatter silenced.

‘God protect me!’ I bellowed and dodged a flying tree.

‘Your God shall not!’ the daemonic voice rumbled close behind me, ‘He’s forsaken you!’

‘He would never! I am His knight!’ I threw over my shoulder.

The bear chuckled, ‘then why doesn’t He come?’

My feet skidded to a halt and I spun. The bear padded up in front of me, head down and eyes fixed on my own. I felt the evil power radiating from him and his question hanging in the air. I gripped my sword in both hands, steadied my feet and controlled my breathing. Silently, I prayed and called on God and the other Angels. There was no way I could face this alone and I didn’t want to die! My soul would be consumed by this evil and I’d never get back home.

The bear growled, still waiting my response.

‘He will come,’ I answered calmly, ‘at my darkest hour as my last hope, a guiding light.’

Sniggering filled my ears as the jaws opened and the teeth chopped together, ‘such spirit,’ the Demigod sighed, ‘but no one is coming to save you,’ and he swept out his head, capturing me in his mouth. I screamed and plunged my sword down, slicing through lip and fur. The bear shook in pain, causing me to struggle for balance. I tugged out my sword and aimed it at the roof of his mouth. His body suddenly trembled, the teeth knocked together and I felt an electric charge fill the air.

I paused, torn between digging my blade in or jumping free. The mouth was shaking around me like an earthquake and the bear seemed to be moaning in pain. The teeth fall together, the tongue tip poked my boot as if pushing me forward and then I fell out. Air rushed around me before my back hit the ground. Pain rocked through me and my head spun. I felt my sword still in my grasp and my mind screaming at me to move.

I pushed up and shuffled backwards, dragging my sword with my sight fixed on the fallen Demigod. The large eyes were closed and he appeared to be fading away. No sound or movement came from him. I stopped moving and looked up. A shadow was standing in-between the bear’s ears. I squeezed my eyes shut then opened them again. The shadow figure was still there and a crackling laughing ripped the air.

A wave of terror like nothing I had ever known curled around me. Whatever that was seemed worse than the Demigod bear. Everything screamed to run, but my body was achy and sore. In a flash the shadow moved and came before me. I tried to shuffle away, but my body was numb, my breathing quickened. I clutched my sword and raised it before me.

The figure gave the impression of a head tilt as if unsure about me or the movement. Then as if allowing me too, the figure made itself clearer and I saw what appeared to be a black masked and caped ninja in front of me, with a curved tip katana pointed at the floor. However, some reasoning inside of me knew this could be so and that this figure was something more.

‘What are you?’ I asked in a shaky voice.

The figure pulled the mask and hood down, revealing the soft face and bouncing brown hair of a woman, ‘I’m Rain.’

***************************

Author’s Note:

Hi, I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading Church as much as I’ve been enjoying writing it. I had been thinking of a number of different ends, but I couldn’t settle on one and since I’ve been liking it so much I’ve decided to carry on with it and see what happens. At the minute, I’m not sure if I’ll be posting any more of it up, since I thought that these four parts might form the first chapter of a novel. However, if people are interested and let me know through likes/comments, then I will look at posting some more. I’m really interesting to find out more about Rain, what she and Blaze are now going to do and if he’ll ever get back into Heaven. Hope you feel the same!

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Thanks for reading and supporting my short stories, Hayley.

Church (Chapter 1, Part 3)

Continued from Church Part 2, which can be read below as well as Part 1.

Evil drew me like a magnet and I never had to roam far from the church to find it. I had cleansed a large circle from that central point, which had begun in villages and small towns before reaching the larger towns and the city. The bigger the settlement the more evil that plagued it and the harder it was to fight it.

I landed on the flat roof of a house tower. The rain had stopped falling, though the streets below me glittered with water. People and vehicles hurried passed, the noise raising and mixing with other sounds. A sea of umbrellas and hoods covered the people, whilst the darkness concealed those in the cars. Listening, I waited to pin point an evil source. It could been anything; a daemon, a vengeful spirit, a malicious human or a supernatural being breaking the laws and going crazy.

My senses were tugged in one direction and straight away I knew there was a daemon possessing a human there. Taking off, my wings beat the air and carried me to that place, which, as I landed, was a car park. The smashing of glass turned my head and I saw a large figure plunging through a broken car door window. Laughed rose with the fading tinkling of glass.

Drawing my sword, I stepped behind him. The weapon was large in my hands, but fitted perfectly. The silver blade was long and sharp not only at its tip, but along both sides. It was also unbreakable and capable of penetrating anything. The hilt was a work of heavenly art and made from gold with a red tint. There were no precious stones set into the pommel or along the guard. Instead, the arcing guard was inscribed with curling Latin words and leafy flourishes on both sides. The grip was decorated with seemingly ridged downward feathers and the pommel was shaped into a ringed cross covered in Celtic knots like patterns.

He turned, a car radio clutched in filthy, blood hands and his crackling dry laugh dying on his lips. The tip of my sword brushed his throat. He dropped the radio, which spilt open on top of the glass fragments as he brought up his hands. He stank and his clothes were ripped and messy. It was hard to tell if the human was a tramp or had once had a comfortable life, before the possession. However, judging by the fact he was over-weight and his clothes seemed to have been a suit beforehand, it was possibly the second one.

‘Angel,’ he hissed and spit at me, though it fell short.

‘Was he willing, Daemon?’ I asked coldly.

A forked tongue stuck out of the slashed mouth and licked eagerly across the lips, ‘yes. Very. Are you, Angel?’

‘Never,’ I snarled.

He laughed, arms wrapping around his large belly and tongue flicking out faster. His dark red eyes flashed at me and small stubby wings grew from his shoulders. The wings were bat like; webbed and leathery, but with large throbbing veins crisscrossing the red surface. There was no way they could lift the human.

I pressed the tip deeper into his throat, suspecting what he might be trying to do. A bead of blood appeared, but the daemon didn’t seem to care.

‘A taste of the power always changes minds,’ he growled, ‘I could give it to you. I’ve turned angels before,’ he chuckled, ‘they burn up first and then get re-born from the black fire. You wanna try?’

‘No,’ I shouted and drove the blade into his throat.

He screamed then ripped himself out of the human. My sword drove deeper into the throat, becoming coated with red blood streaked black. The human chocked, blood splattering out of the mouth and the eyes fixed on my own. I whipped the blade out, he fell forward, his face crashing into the pile of glass and tarmac. Straight away I knew that this man had been willing, driven by too much greedy and power hungry, he’d readily fed his soul to this daemon.

Looking up, I saw the daemon floating above and lazily flapping his wings. His tongue longer and more forked than before, hissed at me, whilst his triangle pointed tail flicked at the top of my head. He looked more lizard like than anything else, with his shimmering orangey scales and flat head complete with jagged horns. His four short legs ended in wicked claws and he was no taller than an eight-year old human child.

‘It’s your turn now!’ I called up to him.

He snickered, ‘you try too hard. To honour-able, Angelic Knight. My powers greater.’

I swung my sword up at him, but he dodged it easily causing the heavy blade to slice empty air and into the side of the car. With his laughter echoing in my ears, I pulled out the weapon and tried again. The tip scrapped his foot. He yowled in pain before hissing and zooming down at me. I arced the sword, leaving a fiery red line in the air and blocking his attack. He took a sideways hit and landed on the floor.

‘Angry, so angry,’ he spit, ‘you make me. You want to see power? See Death?’

I jabbed at him and his scales reflected the blow. He shot up, rushing me in the face and his claws scratching me right across before he spiralled away. I turned after him, lashing my sword out and catching his side. However, it wasn’t enough to stop him and with an anguished cry he soared away. Bring a hand to my face, which felt on fire, I watched him land on top of the chain link fence, shriek out a call and flap away into the night. Lowing my sword to the floor, I rubbed my long sleeve across my face. It came back smeared with blood.

Breathing deeply, I sheathed my sword and sank down beside the car. I had nothing to put on the wounds, but the heat was already fading from them. They would heal in time, though I was more concerned about the loose Daemon. I dapped at the blood again then began searching for him. His evil aura trail made it too easy to track him, though I had no idea where he was going. Gathering my strength, I flew after him. There was no knowing what he’d do now, though it was unlikely he’d take over another human as he was at his strongest right now. The more possible options, were that he was heading for a constant source of evil power such as a gateway, or he had some friends in the area that he could rally against me with.

His trail took me to a far edge of the city and a wooded park. As I landed, I could hear the chanting of daemons and a slight dread filled me. The wind ruffled the tree branches and the sounds of city faded behind me. At least this place would be easier to battle in. Slowly, I drifted through the trees and undergrowth. I made myself float just above the ground to quieten my steps, but they already knew I was coming.

Wings, claws and teeth shot out of the shadows and into my chest. I cried out and battered at it. The small demonic servant darted away, twigs breaking in its awake. I grabbed my sword and took up a stand, whilst my eyes flashed around. The trees provided too many dark spots and the wind now rushing through them was blocking all other sounds. Wicked eyes watched me, but I couldn’t aim at them.

I began pushing through the trees, hoping for a clearing somewhere. A monkey chattering followed and branches swung around as they kept my pace. The trees and undergrowth thickened. There was no space to swing my weapon here and knowing I was vulnerable forced me on. For a second I questioned why they didn’t attack now when I appeared weak, but perhaps they thought it might be a trick and hung back. Forcing that thought away, I suddenly bust into the clearing I had been hoping for.

To Be Continued…