Graveyard Shift – Retail

“So, you’re starting up tonight at that new clothing store huh? Strange that place has a graveyard shift, but whatever. I’ve heard some stories though, you want to hear?”

“Well first off, you’re not supposed to go in the back, where they keep the mannequins? That’s a nono, manager only apparently. You’ve been back there huh? Best keep that to yourself. I’m not sure why they’re weird about it, but the last girl that went back there? Well, she didn’t fare too well job wise after it.”

“After that, the clothing they sell? It’s all leathers, good leather but still an all leather clothing store open 24 hours? That’s just awkward, yeah fucking creepy really, seeing all those bone white mannequins all dressed in dead skin more or less.”

“Another thing, don’t go messing with the mannequins, those things are normally creepy enough but that place? I don’t know but they give me the…oh shit. Your manager is right there, staring at us. What…oh fuck…fuck…shit fuck hell! Run! Run damn i-”

“Where are we? The store? Why the fuck-oh hell…nononnon-”

The girl’s voice cuts off and your manager stands before you,  a smile stretching their mouth into a macabre grin.

“I have to thank you for being such a dedicated worker, if you wanted to work overtime as a model, well all you had to do was ask. Since you’re doing it pro bono though, I have to say thanks dear. Oh don’t worry, kill you? Oh no, no, none of my girls are dead. They’re out on the floor, just as pretty as you please, see look I’ve kept their faces, why? So you could see them smile. Now dear, hold your breath, it’s your turn.”

“Skin? Oh you’ll have your own lovely jacket to wear, your skin seems smooth enough for it. Don’t you worry about a thing.”

Graveyard Shift

(Just so its here –  strong language and violence after this line)

Hey can you let me in dude? Thanks, you new here huh? You ever work graveyard shift at a gas station before? Just started huh? Well, I’ll tell ya man, it gets strange. I’m not talking someone wearing something funky, or people with just odd habits. We’re talking sci-fi b movie special on prime time strange.

Examples? Well shit, oh hey, just two nights ago had a guy pull in, bought some oil and some gas and some paper plates, I’m not thinking anything of it ya know? Whatever needs some oil, some gas for his mower and some plates, no biggie. Then, then it gets strange.

Some creepy as dogs, think they were dogs anyway, they start barking and baying, and the place gets cold, like I wanted to go into the beer cooler and warm up cold. The lights flicker and all of sudden that guy outside has all that stuff in a super soaker and I’m just seeing these balls of flame and hearing yelping and I’m thinking, I’ll call the cops. Doesn’t work, phones are out, shoulda been obvious right? No dude, no shitting ya phone was out, not even a busy signal. Then one of those mutts burst in through the window, seriously ask the manager, he’ll tell ya drunks did it but you should be knowing better if you’re working here.

Where was I? Oh yeah, so I’m covered in glass and that things blood and it fucking burns man, it’s like I got bleach on me and that guy comes in, douses me in alcohol, and sets the other thing on fire. I’m thinking I’m toast, literally, this guy is gonna light me up. He just smiles, hands me an envelope and asks if any of em got to me. I tell him no, he nods, says to give that to the manager for repairs and what to say and he tells me if I see someone looks like they got bit not to let them in. Apparently it’s like some vampire shit ya know?

What? Me? Oh well, might have lied. Really shouldn’t of let me in dude.

Cause I’m fucking starving.

 

Scarecrows (Muffled Cries)

The family stands in the field, the cold wind of the northern farmlands blowing across their faces as they look at their start towards making a scarecrow, muffled cries can be heard.

The father turns towards the two children, he hands them a coat with a smile, the two children and put the coat on the scare crow, muffled cries can be heard.

Smiling the mother hands them a hat, a large hat, but its something they’d wear to keep the sun off the their face, the children put the hat firmly on the scare crow’s head, muffled cries can be heard.

The father pulls out a tool, to the give the scare crow the proper face. The muffled cries get louder and the children smile. They make the face, the muffled cries getting weaker until they go silent.

Now only the laughter of children remains, as the cold wind blows across the form of the new scarecrow and the children’s faces. Father drags the old scarecrow away, silence remains now, and the children go back inside. There is no more muffled cries, only weeping and the wind.

A Reading  (Read by me)

Account of the Kingdom of Gera: History and Current Day

Unlike the other tome titled “Tales from the Kingdom of Gera” this tome is simply titled “An Academic Account of the Kingdom of Gera: History and Current Day” and is in much better condition, though some pages have been removed, other pages glowing unable to be read, through censorship of some mage against the information contained or a mishap from the spells preserving the tome is unclear. The writing inside is quite neat, tidy even, and there are several illustrations in place, some having words below them that when said creates a minor image in scale that can be manipulated and observed in detail. Several battles, recreations from the founding of Gera, can be found this way, observed and recorded through the hard work of several diviners no doubt.

The kingdom of Gera itself is an ancient place, a place that contains more environments than a single plot of land should have really. The magic of the place is old, older than the elves that once lived there, and alive in a way that even humans and dwarves can’t discount it. The Kingdom itself, in many ways, predates most of the established countries on the continent, likely being at least as old as the Isles or the Dynasty Lunaris, though both of these two countries might feel this claim to be unfounded or up to debate.

The above text has several illustrations with dates predating the current accepted calendar by several hundred years, as well illustrations of both elves and the fey that offered comment on the history of the place as they remember it. The interviews and comments actually have the dialogue recorded but between accents and time sound is fuzzy and hard to understand, partially due to spell decay of some kind though one would have to know the kind of environment and the area in which the tome was kept to be sure.

Back before the kingdom was as it is, the land was a place of chaos, ruled by warring Lich Lords the general people had no real freedom, though the lich lords did their best to give a perception of such. The first king of the land, Alric the Young, was also Alric the Betrayer, called such by the Lich Lords who had trained the young man in magic and the arts he used to free the people. While he himself was only a kinder tyrant than the lich lords he destroyed his family has generally been overwhelmingly kind to their people, starting with his daughter Cassandra the Benevolent. While in this day and age many things are lost on to how they ruled, it was know that much of Gera was ruined at that time due to the spread of necromancy and other foul magics. During the first war, the war for freedom from the undead kings, the land itself bucked and changed, the myriad waves of magic used interacting violently with the lands own living, primal, magic.

This bit shows several views of the land, seen through scrying the past, most of which is bloody or blackened. Several of the more consistently available rivers, like Silver’s Run and Magi’s Font are seen clogged with dams consisting of broken bodies and skeletons, the living and the dead piled high upon each other as the undead kings fought for total control of the land and it’s magic. Other things detail the harsh backlashes the primal magic of Gera inflicted upon the people and it’s foul rulers.

Now while there are still old growths of forest to be found in places like Irist’s Stand, called such for Alric’s right hand, Irist, a priest of Magic itself that stabilized the place and raised the land to fight for them and their cause, and the Blood Crags of the southern waste, other places don’t have weather so much as they have changes in environment, during the colder months towns might be found on mountains that hadn’t been there the last year, or in valleys filled with deep snow drifts. Summer might find one having a shore to a ocean that doesn’t exist, or hadn’t the week before. Each year brings new changes and hardships to the people, which might be why there is such acceptance amongst the common folk, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you worship, Gera is a harsh land with a hard people, however friendly, and despite their hardships, or because of them, they’ll welcome a friendly face and a helping hand.

This part reads more like a pamphlet for reasons to immigrate than anything else, showing pictures of current Gerians bringing in the harvest, or helping another family affected by a surge, people of all races and creed helping on another. Several interviews with deacons among the Church of Gods and The Fallen can be found here, as well those more known people amongst the University within the capital, as well as a note that anyone with the capability for magic or the desire to learn can come and do so without worry of any charges for the learning, which is offered by the kingdom for free to any citizen that wishes the knowledge.

While the forests of Irist stand tall in the north, and change rarely, the Eternal Fields where the capital city of Sanctum is found is the most unchanging place within Gera. However the method to which they made this place so stable is a secret from most, if not all, of the Gerian people. The last great working of necromancy, held in place by the dying wishes of a thousand good Gerian folk during the last days of the war. This stabilization would later prove to be the foundation of the greatest city of magic in the known world, and the greatest working ever to be seen on the continent of Elegris.

With the plains and farmlands found in the middle of the country one can go north and find the Irist Forest, with the small village of Irist’s Stand found within. One must be careful to follow the path, as while the forest doesn’t change drastically, the forest is much larger than what it appears to be when one goes off the past. The last scholar to attempt to map the forest was found years later, in the company of the fey who had saved the poor soul and attempted to do their best to restore him to health. Thankfully for him the dryads of the forest are a friendly sort, now there are new paths that can be found to the Scholar’s Grove, which has turned into a sort of outreach to the fey populace of the forest.

Here they show the dryads, and some of both the Seelie and Unseelie court conversing with those people that wish to talk to them. Somehow the author got an interview from several of both the court and the visitors at the time.

One of the largest reasons that Gera remains so peaceful and well adjusted to their chaotic land is due to the Royal Messengers and the Traveler’s Guild, while one operates under strict supervision of King and Country to protect and stabilize, the other is the adventuring sort within Gera. Both do a great deal to stabilize certain areas, and clean out nests of unsavory things that find their way to Gera due to the changes. Making use of the Traveler’s Waystation, a series of connected portals that connect to the Waystation Hub in the capital which is in reality an extra dimensional space, constantly maintained and monitored by both the Royal Messengers and the Traveler’s Guild. Passage for the common folk can be purchased at small sums of a few silver, however this small fee makes it more readily available and enables trading across the entire kingdom at a rather rapid pace, which generates more than enough funds to pay for the upkeep of the Waystation network itself.

This bit continues on, showing several towns with Waystations and the central hub itself, along with a map of its many rooms and places in such a way to be a working model of the building itself at the time this tome was printed. Other such images were likely here at some point but seem to have been removed, leaving only mundane illustrations, though they lack labels and dates on these pages. The tome continues in this vein, talking on other parts of Gera such as tourist attractions and the royal family, but in nowhere near the detail the above parts mentioned.

Tales From Gera – Lore Building

The book before you is a fine thing, bound in supple black leather with a simple gold lettering on the front. The pages aren’t paper, but fine vellum, the ink faded and light but still clearly legible. The first page seems to be a forward of sort, having no name of the author but containing a simple message, scrawled in an imperfect script.

Perhaps I should call this the ramblings of an old man? Or maybe not, I’ve not written something I’ve assumed would be read you see. Most of what I write will never, should never, see the light of day.

But this will, for whatever reason. Perhaps, hopefully, in sharing this you’ll find some amusement, something to be distracting ye from yer troubles. Either way, I suppose it’s a fitting memoir, the stories of others from a man never known by the world, whose own story should never be told.

C.

There are several pages missing from the book, but a bit of the tome still remains, the fine pages preserved somehow from the ravages of time and civilization, the first story, a collection of events and personal knowledge, is simply titled “On the Matter of Slavers” and refers to a country that borders the kingdom of Gera, that kingdom of wild and unstable magic.

Really, when one thinks of slavers one inevitably thinks of the Pits, and who or what they are, but well, while the tools that feel they run things can be described I hesitate to say such a strong word as describe can be applied to that which they serve, and don’t seem to realize they serve at all. You see it started quite some time ago, when Arthur and Roland weren’t yet even born, that was, around, nearly six hundred years or so again from this day and age. Gera wasn’t yet truly unstable, there had been no need for a Sanctum yet and the country that would be known as The Slave Pits to all but those that live there hadn’t even been formed.

You see that area had always been a bit dark, a bit wrong, those wastes. Even the magic that caused Gera to bloom left that place untouched, barren and scarred. Suppose that shoulda been a sign, but nay, we didn’t take it. Those that were there, meself included, or a me I can barely recall, we were bandits, just rogues looking for a place the Guard couldn’t, wouldn’t get to us. The land was hard though, and the only way to get things to grow was with sweat and blood, and yet more blood.

The writing in the following bits grows a bit sloppy, as if written by a shaky hand, the diction of the words changes as well, more anger showing in the harsh lines of ink set down by the quill, the splatters of ink across the faded vellum. Its obvious that, whoever the author is, this part is close to home, and closer to the soul. Merely writing this bit was hard, thinking about it, remembering it, must have been a thousand times so.

Ye see, in Ulsir, the name the Slaver’s have for their own kingdom, the land isn’t fertile unless you feed it. That’s what we did then, all those years ago, we fed it, and then we were fed. We thought we’d find a new calling ye see, that perhaps with this we could be farmers, away from Gera and magic and just have a simpler life. Should have known it wouldn’t be that simple, it could never be that simple.

The brambles grew in a week, the forests coming in quicker. A haze, the blood mist, rolled in with it all and then, well, then the thoughts started. The idea of having others work it for us, having others do our toil.

Having more to feed that hungry land.

The writing, already scrunches together here, pulled tight on itself, as if the author was fighting against the next lines, forcing them to be small, to go unnoticed.

It gets in yer ‘ead ye see, draws ye in pulls on ye and ye hear it, hear it, and it echoes, and repeats nigh constant it is.

Blood for the land, souls for the dark.

Blood for the land, souls for the dark.

Blood for the land, souls for the dark.

The lines Blood for the land, souls for the dark continue for two pages after this, a large portion of pages have been torn from the binding before and after this bit before the next bit of legible writing can be found, continuing the story being told.

Every day that repeats, and every day we listened, and things just…got bad and even here, talking as I am, ye can feel the pull of that can’t ye? The corruption of it all. It turned a bunch of bad men worse, and they’re all still there. All of us that’d gone and been making that place into a power, we’re all still around ye know. Sem of us, well, some of us learned, some of us went to feed the land, unable to take the voice of it all. Idiots don’t realize we can’t stay dead, we don’t go that privilege. As long as that land is fed, we’ll be here, it’s gift to us for waking it.

Let that be a lesson to ye, ye find something left alone by near everything else? Leave it the hell alone. Else ye might just find out why it’s left alone…and that reason?

That reason might just be hell. Still don’t be knowing what be claiming me, don’t be knowing what caused the change, or near anything else, but that’s one thing I learned fer sure. Ye find something like that, something wrong, something, a bit off? Ye can be sure there is a thrice be damned reason for it. I can put a name to it, tell ye what it is, but describe? Give a reason to it? Ye might as well ask why we exist at all to ask such a question.

What is it? That’s simple, it’s Evil, what else could it be? Don’t be going thinking we were misguided men mind you, weren’t no good then, ain’t no good now. If there is one thing a bad man can be claiming well..

I know Evil when I see it, and that? That’s about as evil as it gets. If you value yer sanity, and yer morals, I’d say leave well enough alone and let em sort themselves out. I’m sure they’ll be dead or monsters, jes give it a few more centuries.

While there are yet many more pages that aren’t torn the writings on later pages seems to move and change, blurring or simply forming the lines Blood for the land, souls for the dark, visible on each page before you blink and the writing clears for a time. Whatever it was the author talked on, one notices it once they read of it, once they view it clearly. The issue stands however that when one does notice something so vile, so foul as the corruption of that place…it notices you in turn.

A Letter – In Reply

Dear Ms. James,

I appreciate you telling me about your mother, perhaps, appreciate is the wrong way to say it, but I’ve no other way to word it. By the time you receive this letter, I’ll likely have visited her, I have the time after all. I have always liked your mother, perhaps that was a sign of some sort.

I’m trying to keep any, hostility, from this letter, considering the news. I, wish things had gone differently, I still do, though I know it won’t make it so. I can safely say the anger is mostly abated at this moment. Really, I’m just, sad, I suppose. I never did like an empty home, and that’s really all I have. My friends were all your friends, and it seems I lost them in the split. Strange to realize that I never had friends of my own, and seemingly they all appear to think I’m a horrible person for being angry at you. I don’t get it personally, what did any of you that knew what was happening expect? I mean, I’ve never been one to hate a person, but I hate that, man, you’re with. He has an infantile grasp on language, the one time I’ve met him, he came with the movers you know, he acted as if you were a prize.

Who does that? Who does that to a person, that just had their world torn apart?

Now I have news that a person I’ve known all my life, or a large enough portion of it, is dying. It’s terminal and she has months to live, and it’s one thing after another.

So, it seems I rather failed at keeping the hostility out of the letter, maybe I’ll send a different one, and just keep this one for myself, but that would be rather like lying, or leaving a post it note with call me on it. (Yes, that was in reference to your actions, so perhaps the anger isn’t totally gone, but well, I can’t say I blame myself for this.)

As it stands though, despite my anger at this situation, despite what you’ve done. I’ll be there for your mother, and should you need it, I’ll help you with anything you need help with.

I won’t however submit myself to the presence of that asshole, yes, asshole, you decided was more fitting. It makes me wonder though, if that’s what you wanted in a man, how lacking was I in our relationship? No accounting for taste I suppose, apologies are to be extended however, as this letter has become exceedingly rude. It wasn’t my intention when I started writing it, but well, here it is. You however understand quite well my view on the worth of an apology, so perhaps even this final bit is rude.

Sincerely,

Elliot S. Jacobs

P.S. While I’ll be around your mother when I can if I’m not there when something happens please call me my number is (555)-275-000. Really I am, well, Lyn has always been kind to me, I’ll do whatever I can for her in this time and I mean that, truly I do. I’m sorry that this comes after what is perhaps one of the rudest letters I’ve ever written but, I felt it should be said. You know the schools number, call that during school hours if something happens, please.

 

 

Retired – The Kingmaker

Ya know, I used to work for a living, in a matter of speaking anyway. Well, that got old, hell, I got old. Lets see…shit think I stopped counting about, oh fuck, around the sixth or seventh Henry got put on the throne,wait no it was the eighth one. He was the one that did the whole chop to the heads to wives if I remember right. Bit of an asshole really. Then again most kings are assholes, they’re the king.

Though I suppose I’m not one to talk eh?

Retired now though, moved out to the middle of fuck it all no where Texas, why? Cause guns are interesting, cool, and explosions? Shit I’m ancient and I think explosions are fun. When ya own all the land for miles, no one really gives two rats ass what you do.Besides, no one really expects a gun nut Texan of anything other than that really. Stereotypes can work for you at times really, now can’t they?

So I spend my days sleeping, and my nights blowing shit up. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it’s not dealing with the assholes that actually have known me for any amount of time.

People think being around a while means you’ll find a reason to like someone. Well, people are stupid, damn stupid, and the longer you’re around someone the more you’ll want to tear their heart out, stamp on it, before hitching them to a car and dragging their still twitchin body round for a few miles.

Yes that was oddly specific, no I’ll not explain. This is dinner and a show, sadly, you’ll not be having dinner. Or rather, maybe you can…

Ya see, there are these assholes that just don’t get I’m retired, so here’s what you do, you go, and you tell them I’m retired, I don’t give a shit. However, wait, whats you’re name again darling? Beatrice? Who the hell still uses that dumb ass name? No matter, Beatrice, shit your parents hated you, did they beat you too? You don’t have to nod, just sit there, you go and you explain, that I don’t care that they don’t like me, they can do the village with the pitchforks and torches all they damn well please.

Just keep the hell off my property. I’m old, I’m angry, and I just want to be left alone. Don’t feel that’s too much to ask, what do you think? You can talk now honey, there you go. See? This is the beginning of a wonderful working relationship. Call this number, tell them you’re on retainer, name? Shit, call me King, nah, I’m kidding, names Al, least anymore. No last name, whats the point? No one to remember it but me anyway.

Go on now, git, before I start feeling hungry again.