My Scarred Guardian Angel

Reader Submission: The Trench Coat Man

I have a guardian angel. Although, he’s not exactly divine. He stalks the streets with a charcoal leather trench coat. His long black hair blows behind him with the breeze. The left side of his face hides in the blackness of the void, and a wide-brimmed hat shadows the right side.

He calls upon the darkness and dashes away light with a simple thought. The demons tremble at his name. He can dissolve into obscurity, become a glimmer of the moon. His sense of right and wrong holds blurred lines. But you’ll never hear him lie. He values truth almost as much as he values me.

I am his creator, you see. His heart and his soul. His saving grace. He follows me everywhere, keeps me safe from the evils of this world. For he is evil incarnate. He’s my living shadow, the watcher of my back, my guardian angel.

He’s quick to patience and even quicker to wrath. And when he slides his precious length of chain from around his shoulders, every being knows to flee, lest they become the next victim to the spear head at the end. His true love is pain, and he’s an expert at causing it.

But he never hurts me. Why would he? He’s my protector, after all. I can live my life with confidence.

He has a smile the Devil himself fears.

Advertisements

Spooked by the Lake

The last rays of light reflect on the rippling water before me, a millions stars twinkling overhead.

The moon nowhere to be found.

A chorus of crickets rises to greet the night sky with a bass of frogs ascending in. A soft breeze tickles my back, brushing my hair along my neck. It sends chills down my spine.

An inky darkness creeps along the edges of the water. Dried corn stalks rustle behind me and make me check over my shoulder.

I am alone and unarmed.

A perfect target for a wanting predator.

The remnants of day completely fade, plunging me fully into the night. The stars my only guardians.

And the only witnesses to whatever may happen now that the protective sun is gone.

The Augur Dragon Comes

dc44e0ca74759413ae53057192ec076c

 

Sirens echoed through the kingdom tucked away in the middle of the great mountain range,  stirring residents from their peaceful slumber. Particularly, the mechanical whine woke the young queen.

Swift steps carried her to the balcony. Each footfall illuminating a LED tile in the glass floor. She had only heard the sirens once in her life, when she was a small child.

It was the day more than half the kingdom was destroyed.

Her breath caught, and she clasped pale hands against her silken night dress. Gold hair whipping about her face. But the wind was not from a storm.

A great, midnight blue dragon landed on the tower facing her balcony. An augur of the cosmos. Drawing back his glittering feather wings, eight unblinking eyes glowed with the magic of the aurora borealis. Electric blues and purples pulsated along his various spikes as he spoke. “Will you heed my words?”

She swallowed. Those before her hadn’t listened to the dragon and brought down sparking fires. And perished. Now, she clutched the stone balcony for support. Voice squeaking compared to the dragon’s ethereal one. “I-I will. Yes.”

His tail wrapped around the tower. “A plague will come upon you all. One not even your technological advances can cure. Your paradise has been discovered, and your time has come to pass.”

The queen blinked several times as she fell to her knees. A plague? As in a disease? Their scientists had the best nanotechnology. Their doctors had long cured cancer. Their kingdom was all but self-sustaining with no harm to any environments. How had their time come? Were they too advance? Was there such a thing?

Her plum eyes lifted to the night sky, the sirens blaring continuously. Large vessels emerged from hyperspace. Tears blurred her vision, and she turned back to the enormous yet lanky beast. Their kingdom didn’t have any kind of military force to combat enemies from the sky. “Can you not fight them? Our lasers are not meant for war.”

“Just as I am not.”

“What would you have me do?” she hoarsely cried. The administration regarded her as still a child. She was nothing more than the face for the crown to sit on. She had no real experience with ruling.

His eight eyes winked out of turn, and he stretched out his wings in preparation for flight. “The only thing you can do. Save yourself.”

Coffee Mishaps (Pt. 2)

The continuing saga of Thornne, Rosalee, and Hyalus…. 

A familiar knock rapped on the door of the closed coffee shop.

Thornne’s head shot up from inspecting her still neon pink tattoos. “Don’t you dare open that door. I mean it. Don’t let him in. Don’t you dare do it.”

Rosalee scrunched her nose. “Oh, please. He’s not going to make fun of you.”

She grimaced. “I know. That’s why I don’t want you to let him in. It would be more humiliating to have him fawn over me than criticize me.”

The modern magic user waved a hand as she glided to the front door. “Hey, Hyalus. Please come in. I locked the door only a few minutes ago, and I still need to finish cleaning up, so I’ll be here for awhile.”

The man with the glass right arm smiled and entered, looking around the empty coffee shop. “How’s business going for you, Rosie?”

“It’s been great. A lot of repeat customers, which has been increasing word-of-mouth. And I promise, no addicting or mind control potions slipped into my drinks.” Her salmon eyes studied the bar stool that just had a patron. “So what brings you by?”

Hyalus ran his hand through his black hair. “Oh, I just wanted to wish Thornne a happy birthday. She wasn’t at her house, and I saw Mr. Sexy in the parking lot, so I thought I’d try here.”

Her eyes narrowed. “It’s her birthday…?” But she soon straightened. “You know what, Hy, take a seat, and I’ll go get the birthday girl. Enjoy that drink on the counter.” With a short smile, she ducked into the back room behind the counter. “Thornne, are you in here?”

The woman with lime green hair had wide eyes searching the preparation space filled with vials, potions, and ingredients. “Rose, we need to talk. Are you…a witch?”

Rosalee sighed. “We don’t use the ‘w’ word here. And to answer your question, no. Even though I don’t know why it would change our relationship if I was. My magic is in my blood, and I channel it through coffee. I’m more of a…beverage sorcereress. How does Hylaus know today’s your birthday, and I don’t?”

Thornne sighed. “Get this pink off me, and I’ll tell you.”

“Have you tried your shapeshifting abilities to make it look black?”

“What do you think I’ve been doing for the past hour?”

The mage rose a dark brow. “I’ll get something to try to help. How does he know your birthday and not your best friend?” She went to a shelf full of partially used containers and grabbed an empty mug.

Thornne waved a hand. “It’s from our government experiment days. Dad always had to parade me around on my birthday like I was some type of god. I hated it. But I’ve always hated both of my parents.”

Rosalee handed her a concoction. “Oh, that’s right. I got out before you and Hyalus were acquired.”

She paused while downing the drink. “Say what?”

“Nothing! How you feeling?”

Thornne squinted an eye. “Why?”

“No reason. What’s your favorite color?”

“Lime green.”

“Your first love?”

“Mr. Sexy.” Thornne stumbled a bit. “What is this?”

Rosalee smiled. “Truth potion. I want you and Hyalus to have a good time. There’s a side effect. It causes drunkenness without the need for alcohol. It’s not harmful. More for my entertainment than anything else.”

She hiccuped and searched for something to support herself on. “Y-you really…suck.”

“I know,” came the chipper reply. “I also know you love me anyway. Now, get. Your non-romance awaits.”

 

The Day the World Turned Orange

“Hey, Hun,” Elise called, pausing as she grabbed her keys off the counter, eyes transfixed out the window in front of her.

“Yes?” Michael responded as he popped his head out of the bathroom. He followed his wife’s gaze. Toothbrush hanging out of his mouth.

She stood unblinking. “What’s wrong with the sky? Why’s it like that?”

He moved beside her. “I don’t know. Perhaps the clouds are reflecting the sunrise. It is almost five thirty.”

“Right. Almost five thirty?” Eyes widening, she trotted down the stairs. “I’m going to be late for work. I can’t get fired!” She flung open the door leading to the garage then elbowed the button to retract the large garage door. Placed her lunchbox in the passenger seat of her bright green Jeep.

However, her pace slowed to a crawl when she caught a glimpse of the outside world as she rounded the back of the Wrangler. Yes, the sun may start rising before five thirty, but it was never this bright. Nor was the entire air tinted orange. And that’s what it seemed like. As if someone spray-painted the air itself with a transparent, faint orange color. Never had she seen such a thing in her years of life.

“Whoa,” came Michael’s response as he stood in the doorway leading back into the house. “Were we transported into a video game in our sleep or what?”

She gave a short laugh. “Well, if we did, it was Fallout, and this is just after the bombs fell. But I guess I better get going. I can spectate this on my way.” After giving her husband a quick peck on the cheek, she pulled herself into the taller vehicle. Carefully backed out into the orange haze.

Honestly, the atmosphere was eerie. She wanted to declare this was an unbelievable phenomenon, but there was something about it that made her not want to make any final decisions on it. It was too quiet. Even for this early time of the day.

There were much fewer cars on the road taking her to her hardware store job. Normally, there was average of about fifty. Today, she counted thirteen. And they all had their windows tightly rolled shut even though the weather was lovely, despite the summer season.

Elise glanced at her two windows that were rolled down. Was there something in the air she didn’t know about? Did she need to roll up her windows? She looked around at the continued orange through the top of her windshield. Were there even clouds in the sky? She couldn’t see any kind of variations.

Ah, screw it. She was keeping her windows down. As weird as the sky was, it was too nice out to not have them down. Turning up the radio, she placed an elbow out the window. Thumb tapping the steering wheel. Although, her wary gaze didn’t lose true sight of the strange orange glow.

Soon, her nostrils flared. What was that burning smell? Her arm grew hot. She looked down and gave a yell of alarm as the top layers of her flesh bubbled red. Pulling her arm back inside the Jeep, she almost crashed the vehicle during her surprising discovery.

The subtle sizzling of her skin stopped once it was out of direct contact with the orange light. Her wide eyes studied her arm. She couldn’t feel much pain, but common sense told her not to put her arm back out. In fact, she rolled both windows up.

She stared at her festering wound. Returned her attention back outside. What was this orange glow? Where did it come from? There had been no alerts, no sirens in the night. Nothing to relay a national emergency. It clearly wasn’t safe, so why hadn’t she seen anything about it on her news feed when she played on her phone before getting ready?

Was this the result of government experiments? Or was this the pollution finally coming to wipe humans out. It wasn’t a bomb since there were no sirens. Unless certain people died, and no one was able to activate the sirens. She didn’t want to think about that.

The main worry for now was what could she find that would allow her to safely go out into the orange glow? Assuming she would ever find out what caused it and what it was made of. After sending a warning text to her husband, she continued on her way. If there was something she could make to protect herself, certainly the hardware store would have it. It didn’t seem to affect cars and houses, after all.

 

*Author’s Note: Yesterday morning, I did walk into my garage and lift the door to see the air painted with a faded orange. It was an unusual phenomenon. Of course, I ran through every fictional post-apocalyptic/sci-fi scenario I could before the science side of my brain kicked in and told me the crystalized water in the very low-hanging clouds was reflecting a bright orange sunrise down instead of out across the sky. It was ominous and beautiful at the same time. And, of course, I needed to write a short story about it. 

Coffee Mishaps

c254e75fd9f0a1a61348edf1898311bd

Thornne squinted an eye at the mug she finished. “This coffee tastes weird.”

Rosalee paused as she wiped down the main counter. Her salmon-colored eyes widening. “That’s probably because it’s not coffee.”

“Rose…what did I just drink?”

“I, uh, well, I’m not sure.”

Thornne closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Please don’t tell me I just downed another one of your potion experiments. Last time, I almost fell in love with Hyalus, and I swear, if that happens again, I will kill you this time.”

“Oh, come on. You know you love me.” The practicing mage smiled sheepishly. “It’s almost closing time, so how about I shut down early?” She locked the front door of her quaint coffee shop and pulled down all the blinds in the slender windows. Then her expression turned serious. “Give me that mug.”

With a scowl, she pushed it across the counter’s bar. “Take it.” She smoothed back her thick, lime green hair.

Rosalee held the mug under her nose and inhaled a deep breath. “Hmm. Getting some herbs. Ooh, a spice or two for flavor. A hint of honey–”

“Rose, what did I just drink?”

Her tongue flicked along the inside rim of the mug. “Oh! This isn’t anything harmful at all. Just my new way to color my hair.” She tossed her rich chocolate brown hair dipped in fuschia. “A girl like me doesn’t have time for lengthy coloring sessions, so I’m trying an oral method.”

Thornne’s nostrils flared. “Will this change my hair color? Because I have a strict rule of keeping it this vibrant green. I don’t want it to be anything else.”

“I don’t know. I haven’t tried it yet.”

The shapeshifter sighed and let her head fall on the counter. “I swear…”

Rosalee’s lips formed a thin line. “Uh, Thornne?”

“What?”

“Look at your arm.”

Thornne lifted her head, holding out her right arm. Watched the tattoo sleeve change color. The roses and spiraling thorny stems faded from black to neon pink. Her jaw set, and she slowly turned her head toward her friend. “Are you kidding me right now? How long is this going to last?”

The modern sorceress held up her hands. “I don’t know! This was an experiment. It doesn’t look half bad on you.”

“We are not leaving this coffee shop until you fix this. Do you hear me? I don’t care if we’re here until the rest of the night. I’m not going to be seen in public like this.”

Rosalee couldn’t contain a giggle. “You know, it’s a good thing were in the Millennial generation. People are used to our ‘exotic’ colors.”

The shapeshifter frowned. “This…abomination is not my color. I only wear black, white, and green. You know this. So fix it. Now.”

“Alright, alright, Ms. Grumpypants. I’ll start working on a counter potion.”

“And while you’re at it, you can get me a real cup of coffee.”

 

Isle of Lost but Never Found

36b4e2f159458e525381383c84f18717

My eyes slowly opened as I sat up, instantly blinded by an intense light. I raised my arm in attempt to block the source. It was all pure instinct; sight was the only sense currently functioning properly.

A sudden wind beat my back. The hairs on my arms rising. I shivered, realizing I was soaked head to toe. Pushing myself to bare feet, I hugged my chest. Where was I?

Everything adjusted into focus. Sand met water roughly thirty feet in front of me. A beach? I rubbed my face with my hands. Last thing I remembered, I was camping in a forest on a mountain. This had to be a dream. A hallucination.

My hearing finally kicked in. The rhythmic roar of the ocean lapped ashore. I took a deep breath of salty air. A lucid dream? However, it all felt so real. If this was real, how did I get here?

Distant barking made me whirl around. My eyes widened, and an eyebrow rose. Before me stretched mounds of socks, keys, phones, cables. What on Earth? What was this place? I started forward, inspecting the socks further. Not a single one had a match.

As I walked further into what I assumed was an island barren of vegetation, I noticed a plethora of remotes and bank cards. Lipstick tubes scattered around. Various forms of office supplies. Was this a place for junk? Junk Island?

The barking became deafening as a herd of collarless dogs rushed me, knocking me to the ground. I couldn’t help but laugh as I was attacked by a thousand tongues. But through the canine fur, I caught glimpses of cats, birds, reptiles, and other animals looking more domesticated than wild.

I eventually found my footing and searched the area. My heart stopping. A soldier in full combat gear approached, wearing more dog tags than I dared counting. I swallowed. He held the hands of two children, and a parade of soldiers and children from varying nationalities followed him.

The head soldier greeted me. “What’s your name?”

My eyes couldn’t leave the sunken features of all the humans before me. They looked starved. “Morgan.”

He attempted half of an exhausted smile. “Welcome to the Isle of Lost and Never Found, Morgan.”

I swallowed again. The very last thing I recalled thinking to myself was how I got lost in the woods on the mountain. Then darkness. But an island of lost things? I would’ve preferred the Island of Misfit Toys to be real. “How big is this place?”

“It expands to fit what appears.”

Rubbing my eyes, I nodded. Dared to ask the inevitable. “Do things ever get found?”

The soldier shifted, a couple of the children sniffed and shuffled. “Sometimes. We assume you go back to the real world.” He gestured to his tags. “We’ve found soldiers from WWI here. Unfortunately, not everything lasts forever. Not even here.”

I searched the man then the forlorn children. Allowed my gaze to wander back to the beach I woke up on. Despite the presence of all the people in front of me, I suddenly felt terribly alone. More so than when I walked in the woods.

I had no idea if I would ever be found.