The third of four short stories from the Void is now up for your reading pleasure. I won’t say much except that there is a lit bit of XXX going on. Not much, but maybe just enough to keep the Valentine’s celebrations going.
The sun was bright and hot. It hit his face with warmth and strength while glinting off the horse’s bridal. The beast was huge, black as midnight and eighteen hands high; it made easy work of Benyst’s weight on their long rides. They had spent the day tramping through the forest hunting wolves and stags, the latter now lay dead, draped over the horse’s haunches.
He called his horse Cloud, a name laughed at by his brothers. A name for a girl’s horse they said, but it was the beast’s prowess at the hunt, his speed on open ground, that reminded his brothers that clouds also brought storms. Cloud had a dark disposition; he did not enjoy the company of other horses and when left in the pasture with the others, he stayed far away, stamping his hooves if another got too close.
With Benyst it was different. From the first moment the two clapped eyes on the other, they had been as one. Although Benyst was only a young man of seventeen when his father gave him Cloud, he had ridden him with a maturity beyond his years.
The two had grown together; the connection between rider and stallion becoming a deep-symbiosis in the field and forest.
And so, Bensyt spent his young man’s days learning to ride and chasing prey through the forest, but now as he approached his twentieth summer a new animal had caught his eye.
Last year I joined a writing group. We met through a Facebook-for-writers type site and worked together for about 5 months. We were all working on series, so we made our focus really pushing each other to refine the concepts and worlds our stories lived in. Our goal was to delve deeper and push our concepts as far as possible. I found the experience both inspiring and, at times, extremely frustrating. Having one’s blind spots revealed is educational and humbling.
During that time I wrote many things that opened my heart and mind to the far corners of the Void and the characters that live there. Some of these things have appeared in the short stories I’ve been posting and some found their way onto FemaleoftheSpeciesband.com
This piece was written purely as a love letter to the Void; the complicated world that appeared fully-formed in my mind as walked through the American Museum of Natural History in New York. (The museum is one of my favourite places in the world. If you ever get the chance, go! You won’t regret it.)
So here it is.
The ground is a deep gray. It is pliant and yet impenetrable, walking on it feels like moving through a dream. This feeling is heightened by the gray sky, only two shades lighter than the ground. The vistas move and undulate, hills and valleys morph with no heed of physics or time. Cool black streams cross the landscape and leafless trees claw at the sky.
This is the Void. This is the portal to all of Time. This is the place Travelers call home. These creatures are the amalgamation of moments of evolution both seen and unseen throughout the galaxy. Here they meet and prepare to watch us.
They are invisible in our world to all but the extremely sensitive, animals can sense them and the trees know they are there. The Travelers move in and out of our history, as at home crawling through a WWI trench as they are on the streets of New York City.
It is through Phoenix that the worlds combine. Watch as a mind raised in our linear mortal time is forced to embrace the fluidity of the Travelers’ world.
I was a little girl of four years old living in a suburb of Winnipeg. We had lived there for over a year, but after the mild dampness of my previous English home, I still wasn’t used to the changing seasons. The dry summer wind cut my bare legs and I was seriously regretting my clothing choice as I stood beside my father in the backyard.
He was barbecuing. I’d watched earlier as he’d set it up. Stooped over the round, red orb he’d built a pyramid of coals, covered it in lighter fluid and struck a match. Now I was only vaguely aware of the party going on around us as I watched him remove the metallic red lid and begin to flip burgers over the hot coals. Clutched in my hands was my new pool toy; an inflated plastic ring. Just a cheap dollar store item, but it was bright and colorful and felt pleasantly firm in my tiny hands.
I stood there silently as my dad flipped the meat. I was fascinated by the sizzle each patty made as the new side hit the hot grill. I could see the juices sputter and dance before falling to the hot coals. I looked down at the ring in my hands and was suddenly filled with a question.
“Dad,” I asked. ”What would happen if I put my ring on there?”
I was always asking my dad questions like this, Winnipeg was proving to be a place of extremes that necessitated many inquisitive moments. The previous winter I had learned what the giant chunks of ice were that had fallen from the sky, how dog poop had become suspended in ice in the backyard and where his mustache had gone. But the barbecue had sent my mind racing with possibilities.
He laughed and in an offhanded way that only Dad’s can deliver, said:
“Why don’t you do it and see.”
Four year olds don’t get sarcasm.
I tossed the ring onto the grill.
The effect was instantaneous. Where the previous moment there had been a bright, shiny floatation device; there was now a foul smelling, flattened mass that covered the entire grill. I could see the shape of each burger under the plastic.
I stood there filled with fascination and wonder as the ring continued to melt and the air was filled with the sound of plastic crackling as it hit the coals. My dad let out a shout of despair and somewhere in the background my mom screamed “Why did you tell her that, Norm?”
It was the best thing I’d ever seen.
Here is the second short story that explores the lives of the creatures of the Void.
Beauty in the Water is about Noiryn, the meek siren that Phoenix meets early on in Female of the Species. In this story we travel to a time before Female of the Species, the novel and learn of Noiryn’s secret place, a cenote she retreats to after Phoenix is banished from the Void.
Another delectable goodie for your Halloween enjoyment. A haunting song for a long dark night…
Love You Madly
And if you’d like to download it, for free…
Written by Sarah McCully & Justin Abedin
Vocals – Sarah McCully
Guitars – Justin Abedin
Piano – Kevin Adamson
Cello & Percussion – Kirk Starkey
Mixed by John Beetle Bailey
Mastered by Harry Hess
Additional Engineering by Jeremy Darby
Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and girls!
Here it is, the first treat for this oh so creepy holiday season.
Since Halloween is one of my favorite times of year, I thought it fitting to mark the occasion with the first of four new short stories that delve deeper into the Void and the creatures that reside there.
This first tale is a slice of life, an ebony glimpse, into the world of Yeren, everyone’s least favorite yeti.
Welcome to my new website!
Holy smokes, this has been a long time coming. With the help of my awesome brother-in-law (it still feels weird to say that, when did we all become adults) I have left the clunky world of iWeb behind and enter the new, sleek world of WordPress.
And it feels so good. : )
A fantastic redesign of my Female of the Species website has also taken place, it looks so beautiful. Check it out:
Female of the Species