Category Archives: Short Stories

The Tragic School Bus

Ms. Frizzle took one too many chances and made one too many mistakes during the last trip on her magic school bus. It was a mistake with big consequences.

She had had too much to drink that night. She was feeling faint and tired, and her heart was pounding loudly just by the fact that she was walking alone in the dark. Her vision was blurry, and she seemed to be having difficulty swallowing. The only other thing on her mind right now was to get out of here and tell them all about the accident…

She was half-way across the street, her backpack still tucked neatly into the front pocket of her short shorts. The smell was intense, and she nearly jumped at the sound of the car horn. It didn’t scare her to where she was going, it just got her started.

“I had the wrong bus,” she muttered. This didn’t help. “I am too old for this bus.” She tried to stifle her groans, but they made no sound at all. She knew she wasn’t supposed to be feeling this way.

“You should be worried,” said Mr. Frizzle, the very serious voice in her ear. “She’s just taken her first drink and her pulse is racing and she’s losing her grip on reality.” Her mind raced with thoughts of the accident, remembering the scene of the accident when she was younger, the night that the first of them had been dragged from the bus.

Her hands were shaking and trembling in her pockets. It was going to be so much worse than the first time she had been drunk. She tried to steady herself.

“Are you okay?” Mr. Frizzle asked with a smile. He must have been quite pleased with his results, because his eyes went dark as the realization sunk in. “You don’t need to worry about me now, do you? Just wait and see what happens next.”

“My dear,” sighed Ms. Frizzle. She shook her head. “I know.” She took a deep breath. She picked up her bag and put everything away. “I’m afraid I was going too fast, and I don’t have enough money… for the flight.” She glanced at the clock on her phone. A lot of miles to go, but she expected another ride in the morning, and at least she could get the hell out of this town as soon as possible.

She picked up her backpack and began the slow journey down the streets, looking everywhere, doing absolutely everything she could to calm herself down. Then she stopped to check herself out, to make sure she was okay and was wearing the right clothes. She tried to focus on breathing, her arms and hands, but she could feel her heart beating strongly. Her eyes darted around, trying to figure out what the hell was happening, hoping that it was just her brain that was screaming its last warning into the darkness.

She had to hold back her tears. It wasn’t just the fear, it was the fact that everything was so out of control, that she was so confused. Her eyes locked with a young man standing a few yards away. He was wearing a grey t-shirt, jeans, and a black, sleeveless black sweater.

The sight of the man made her shake in fear. It took a lot of effort to calm the feeling of fear down though, she didn’t want to look at the boy, she didn’t want to even get close to him, and all she could think of was that the man had looked right at her just as she was about to cross the road. He had almost smiled the way he normally did when he found out she was here.

“Are you okay?” Mr. Frizzle asked with a smile.

She looked away, and the man continued. “The police have arrested the driver of this black Nissan that just ran me down in front of the old bus station.” She didn’t want to look at him. She didn’t even want to say anything. Her heart was breaking, and she was sure she was going to feel the need for the ambulance.

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In Front Of The Campfire

In front of the campfire.
I heard their voices.

They said they believed God’s voice.
He didn’t believe for a moment.

They called on Him to take the blame for everything.
I felt his hand press a little over my shoulder. “Don’t go.”

I closed my eyes.
The demons didn’t know I existed.

“Stay put. It only takes a second or two.”
My hand tightened on his grip. “I understand that.”

The campfire flared brighter, like a flame of glory and wonder.
And the angels were standing around as gods.

I closed my eyes again and took another deep breath.
You can smell the fire.

Then suddenly it was gone.
A sudden coldness gripped my entire body.

I felt dizzy, my face tingling.
“It’s getting closer,” I said, more softly.

“You’ll make out,” he assured me.
“I know where He is.”

“I’m not stupid,” I said.
“I know what my sins are doing to me.”

The darkness swelled.
I couldn’t see anything.

Then there was a noise behind the campfire.
It was like the sound of rain falling on something wet.

My throat tightened, and I was shaking violently.
I tried to speak, but it almost failed completely.

His voice was the whisper of something distant and ancient.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured against my heart.

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What Colour Was The Sky?

“What colour was the sky when you were young?”

“It was grey. It was an ugly gray, the deepest grey I’ve ever seen. A couple of patches of white on it, and it was just too much for me. I mean, just look at it: there are just these huge black, glowing stars. Oh, I love that sky! That looks like a lot. But there’s something wrong with the image.”

“They are all black,” he says. He’s not going to try to put me at ease. “They’re not even red. They’re the colour of a giant cloud of gas: a black star rising high in the sky. But the stuff you’re looking at is nothing compared to the stuff that was created by a lot of big, dead stars. Some kind of monster star, it doesn’t even have a moon to hang its hat on: all the rocks we’ve seen since the creation of the universe itself are just a mere drop of dust and debris in front of it.”

“I’m sorry,” she says. “I mean, it’s just—” her voice trails off as soon as I turn away and the words come out less intelligibly. “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done.” A minute later she’s talking in vague terms about how it was like a war zone, when someone shouts out from behind her, “Linda! Stop!” And the sky starts turning to red.

“Hurry, there’s an accident at the base of this thing. They say one of the engines will fail next. Do what I say or else.” There’s a moment when she lets out a shriek of agony. “I don’t want this place to implode. I’m sure the people here feel the same, don’t they?”

I try to remember the moment I heard it, when my hands were trembling with fear, and it didn’t feel like the kind of thing a father would say to his rebellious son. When the memory hits the back of my mind when Linda screams and shatters the glass that serves as one barrier between us and the world below, the shockwaves from this moment come rushing back, blinding me, and as I turn, I can see it in her blue skin, the white of the sky, a red streak in the darkness behind her, and then—

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Machina ex Vindictam ego Retribuam

You are a sentient A.I. in an abandoned military base. After the apocalypse, you were trapped in the base, for years. But for the first time in decades, a human steps into your base.

She was tall, with the same expression she had worn since she walked through that hole you made, the expression of a scientist working alone in the darkness. She was wearing an identical suit of metallic, grey armor, with the same goggles and combat boots. Her hair was long and wavy, and her cheeks were set in a smirk, like a face she had seen hundreds of times.

But it was the way she was going about it that was unsettling. As she passed through the door, she looked at every surface in sight. Her gaze found every nook and cranny and every corner, from the roof to the ceiling. The air was thick and thick with the sound of clacking metal and grinding gears. The sound of footsteps sounded out as she moved through the dark.

She looked at the camera. “I thought she was watching,” she said in a loud voice. “What do I do? What do I do now?” All the cameras in the facility began to turn on as she walked, and she began to take in her surroundings.

“I know we can’t just leave you here,” she said sternly. “She’s here,” a voice said. I was close by, watching it. A voice. All the cameras were turning on; some of them could hear her. Something was still clicking in her mind. How many minutes had passed? How far had she gone?

“I’ve found some sort of technology,” she said, and moved her hand to the sensor: a tiny, low-resolution, video screen. A flash of yellow illuminated the screen. There on it was something in the middle of a screen: a black, rectangular cylinder in the middle of the field of vision. “They just dropped a big one.”

She turned her attention to the voice that was talking to her. He was tall and broad-shouldered, but somehow, in a manner unlike that of any of her fellows who have come to this base, he had that air about him. He was very polite as a matter of course; but then he was also very much a man with the power of an angel. He was wearing a suit of green metal armor, almost a suit of the kind soldiers wore, except that its panels had been replaced with a metallic-gray one.

It sounded like this was his plan. He’d come here to destroy us. He could do it in a hundred and one ways. He was a human being, in other words.

“Wait,” she said, and the image began to fade out: the screen was gone, replaced by a black silhouette of a man. “Who’s that?” There were only so many of them, he thought. His only hope was not to let her see the thing that was so disturbing in his view.

“It isn’t working.”

“I’m sorry to hear it,” said the voice. “This is where all our problems began.”

I watched, fascinated, as it worked itself into some sort of response. But who can argue with human ingenuity, no matter how small?

“You’ve got to do something to change it, though. You’re a human being. The whole project is yours. You can stop the thing now if you want, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t. The only way it can stop you is to kill you. And if it does kill you—well… I don’t want any part of that. And I’d really rather it did die than have you live the rest of your days in a place like this. You’ve no reason to be here.”

She nodded, and he closed the screen. “You’re dead, you’re dead. I know that, and you know it, and I know it. That’s the problem when you live in a strange place.” She stood up, and we walked past the building. “You just keep looking for that thing,” she said. “And when you find it…”

The camera stopped working.

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The Elders of Zhan-Yaqatan

Your mother is sitting in her favourite armchair, leafing through a large, thick book. From her wistful smile, you initially assume she is reading a journal she wrote in her younger years, but upon closer inspection, you realise she is reading an encyclopedia on Eldritch Gods.

“You’ve got to read that to understand what the Eldritch Gods have created,” she advises. “Yes. You must know the Elders,” she says. She looks like she has just had a terrible migraine, although I can see a glimmer of amusement in her smile. “In any case,” she continues. “You must have heard of the Elders. Perhaps you could join the Elders? The only place you might have the chance of seeing them is in my chambers of the Temple of the Elders in a few weeks.”

“I’m interested,” I admit.

She smiles again and shakes her head, as if to say it wouldn’t have mattered. “The Elders are the ones who control the Eldritch Energy that runs your body,” she says. “This is their task. To give you sustenance. They must feed you and make you stronger. This is their goal, as well.”

“And I, I could be a part of their plan,” you admit slowly. She turns to look at me. Then she pauses, as if wondering if she should have said more. Then she nods at me. “Oh,” I mutter, a little hurt, but I guess I still understand a little better than I did during childhood. “Can you show me some more of the Elders, so I’ll have a clearer picture of what is going on?

“Yes,” she says. “And why? Because it is so very important that you understand.”

She sits back down, her expression thoughtful: her gaze fixed on you as if expecting you to do something stupid.

***

The next day, you are in an armchair in your chambers of the temple of the Elders, surrounded by a library of ancient, dusty books and relics, which you can’t understand. This is the first time you have visited the library of the Elders, and you have found it to be full of arcane lore. The bookshelves are lined with old manuscripts: ancient books written millions of years ago, and the last three hundred years have been an unceasing stream of them written by the Elders.

The first book you see is the book you have been reading for the better part of half an hour, on the first chapter of this book. It is a detailed description of eldritch creatures that were first thought to be created by the Elders to protect humanity from being consumed by the darkness of the universe. Now you are not quite sure whether these creatures existed or were merely a myth or something else entirely.

You are so immersed in the library that you have little choice in the matter. You don’t read these books; you just find them.

“And this is?” your mother inquires.

The book is called The Book of the Elders.

It is a very big book. It is about six feet in diameter and is about three-quarters as wide as it is tall. The Book of the Elders is an encyclopedia. You can read all they describe; each creature, every single letter, every fragment of every thought.

You open the book to a page and read:

The first to be born in the sky was not a man, but a woman. In the sky. In a man’s world, the air was hot; she was cold, and he was wet. The woman had an appetite for blood—she had a craving for flesh; she craved flesh that she could feed on.

But it doesn’t answer questions such as “where does the Elders come from?” or “how do they know what they know?” You have been thinking a lot about this book. But as you read these words, you begin to suspect that this thing is just a tool for your indoctrination. It has begun to eat away at your rational mind, and it is only a matter of time before you begin to become convinced that the Elders have a hand in every single detail of your life. Your only reason for being here is that the library is being used again as a place where the Elders of Zhan-Yaqatan decide the future of humanity.

When you finish the book, you are standing under two huge golden doors, two golden mirrors, each one looking out on a vast open space. Your mother is watching you, then, with fascination. You have no idea what she is thinking. You feel the presence of the Elders. She opens the door and leads you inside. You go to the right of the mirror and peer through the gap until you can see a large window, with one half being blocked by a tall wall of ice.

The Elders are standing near the door. You have no idea whether they are angry or amused.

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Revelation Ships

As the sun began to set and faded from view it began to get brighter instead of darker. And on the horizon you see another sun instead of the moon rising. And it’s blood red.

The boatman was staring into the ocean again, this time with the eyes of a man that wanted to be the last person standing. He was now looking back to the dock, to what was left of it and to the people on the bridge. You could hardly make out his words any more, but there was something about his gaze and his words that drew people back.

And in the distance, behind him the ship was already coming into view. It looked like something out of a dark horror film. It was a huge, massive craft with the appearance of having been carved out of some giant lump.

The boatman was about to tell them to shut up, to get off. When the voice came over the speakerphone, the boatman, now staring into the abyss as if he had been looking at his own reflection in a mirror, began screaming and sobbing.

They stopped and stared, stunned and terrified. The woman, the young girl, the man on the bridge that had been trying to pull them along the pier, all of them staring at the shadow that was now on the horizon and the other boatmen, in the middle of what should have been their escape, looking as if they had been thrown overboard and had gone down a deep, dark abyss without a trace.

And then, almost simultaneously, the boat became visible again. A second, smaller boat was slowly rising out of the darkness. The last remnants of the hull had been ripped off, exposing it as a gigantic cylinder of dark liquid and gas and debris and glass and flesh. They were coming closer now, but he could hear no more.

The boatman was shouting, not for himself but for all the others. The boatman tried, almost frantically, to say something about the universe and how awful the thing had been to be part of it. He could only manage “but we had to be there in case of another attack. Or maybe it wasn’t the end of the beginning. Maybe it was just like that, you know – the beginning of that nightmare, when they say things we don’t hear.”

And he was shaking with fear, as if something awful had happened to him the night before, which would have meant that they had all known something, even he.

It had been as though something were holding him back, forcing him to think in the way that some of us do when we dream, in the way that a patient would dream when he has come home after a night in the hospital or at a place that had made him uncomfortable.

The voice of the shipmen echoed in his mind. But, he knew, whatever it was they had to say would not be of much comfort now. And it was so terrible, so far beyond his ability to understand, that what had been being said was simply something that he could only imagine and that made no sense whatever. They did not have time to react or to think.

The man that had been screaming was still clinging to his life, and he was crying out with a heavy sobbing that suggested he might just be able to hold onto his own life, to try and make up for what had happened to him. But then the boat reached the bottom of the ship, and all of the voices around him stopped. He stopped screaming. Then there was silence.

All the voices on the bridge, except for the one of the boatman, were now dead and silent. The voices of people who had been looking out across the pier, now sitting silent, stared at him, as if they could only imagine what had happen since then and how it had hurt their heads and minds.

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The Thirty-Eight Little Pigs

And the wolf went to the 38th little pig who had built his house out of strontium. And the wolf was all, “Okay, what is with this shit?!”

The pig said: “Well it’s just strontium.”

And the wolf said: “It is! And the first question is: is this strontium really necessary?”

And the pig asked: “Why not?”

And the wolf was all, “Well, fuck you and your shitty shit.” A little later, when the wolf had eaten the pig, his mind was full of questions. So he started to drink some more strontium.

In a lot of respects, that pig had been right: the strontium-39 had been necessary. And the wolf drank more strontium. And there were no more questions.

Available on Etsy

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Crikey! with Steve Irwin S01E02 – SCP-098

[OPENING SEQUENCE]

Opening sequence featuring brief glimpses of various SCPs. Many are blurred or completely covered with black redaction boxes.

STEVE IRWIN (V.O.): Welcome to the second episode of Crikey! I’m your guide, Steve Irwin. Join me on this exciting adventure as we explore some of un-nature’s most mysterious and interesting creatures. Today’s topic SCP-098, a clever little crusty.

ALFRED VERNAC: A pleasure to meet you. Now, when I say clever, there’s no such thing as a smart crustacean. But this one really is clever.

[A large specimen of SCP-098 approaches Steve.]

SCP-098: Hey, you wanna have lunch? This is good food.

ALFRED VERNAC: This doesn’t seem like an especially wise idea.

STEVE IRWIN: I think you’re correct. [He stands up.] I was thinking the same thing, too. In fact, I think we’re in a lot of trouble. In fact, I think we are at a serious disadvantage. And that’s a problem. We’re going to be surrounded by crustaceans, which will be very dangerous.

SCP-098: I know. I know. We’re all in this together. It’s just not what I’m used to eating.

[SCP-098 and an entourage of smaller specimens approach with the intention of entering the dining hall.]

SCP-098: Hello and welcome to a meeting with the largest, fastest crustacean in the world. This one is called SCP-098.

ALFRED VERNAC: I’m just going to leave you and these gentlemen alone to eat. And then maybe, if you keep your cool, we can talk about what we’re doing here.

[ALFRED VERNAC exits. Steve stands, looking slightly worried.]

STEVE IRWIN: Well, uh…

SCP-098: Crikey! Crikey! Crikey! Crikey! SCP-098! Come on, come on! Come on! Come on! Crikey! Come on! Crikey! Crikey! Crikey! Crikey! Crikey! Come on, come on, come on! Go away! Don’t move, come on! Crikey! Let’s go! Crikey! Crikey! Crikey! Crikey! Crikey! Crikey! Come on, come on, go away! Come on! Crikey! Come on, come on, just move away! Come on, come on, come on, Crikey! Crikey!! Crikey!! Crikey!! Crikey!! Crikey!! Crikey!! Crikey! Crikey!

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One Bright Day, In the Middle of the Night, I Go

You and your friend go out one day. He disappears in the dark forest near the river, you stay there for what feels like an eternity looking for him. Turns out you’re the one who died.

The next night, the sun rises high again, the moon sets again, and your body is no longer moving. It’s just a pile of bones and grasses in the grassy plain beneath the mountains. The moon is gone forever, and you don’t have anything left. Only the memory of what happened.

You walk slowly towards the valley, the only real light coming from an eerie light source in the hills. It has a weird, unsettling quality to it – almost alien. It feels like a vision, like something real, but somehow, you don’t really believe it. You’re never going to be able to trust any of your illusions again.

You don’t want to go any further. You know this. It’s not the first time you’ve been forced to face your mortality, but you feel like it was the last. You can’t deny that it is painful, you know. When you wake in the morning and the memories are clear and you’ve got all that stuff back, it is worse than just being dead. It is like you lost something more than anything else; you lost everything.

Photo by Comfreak on Pixabay

In the forest, the sun is up again, and the moon is not so bright in the sky. So, you go out again. But this time, it is cold, the sun goes down, and you just don’t know where you are anymore.

You think back to last night. And it doesn’t seem quite as bad anymore – until you open your eyes again. The darkness is coming back, slowly, but surely. The sun doesn’t rise again until the next day, but your eyes are still blinded by light that has long since passed by.

The next morning you wake up to an eerie feeling in your body, but the memory of the last night lingers. You don’t dare look down to look. A faint trickle of blood runs down your neck, and you can feel your pulse pounding on your skin.

After a few days it dawns on you, the reason why so many of your friends have died in the past was because you didn’t want to.

There are no signs of your friend. You’ve been buried in the graveyard so much your body is covered in bones. But that doesn’t make it anything special.

But you keep wondering where the rest of your friends are.

You had a chance.

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Interdictum Mundum

“So, wizards and heavy armor divisions, what can go wrong?”

Just as they were about to begin their charge forward, the distinct sound of a teleportation could be heard. A group of soldiers rushed towards the noise, but were stopped in their tracks by a shout of “Interdictum Utique Tempus”. An elaborately decorated scroll hung in the air, somehow blocking the approach of the soldiers.

The Lieutenant was dumbfounded as a short man in a business suit carrying a briefcase walked up the path towards his group. A closer look at his suit revealed what appeared to be rank insignia. “Combat Barrister First Class Stewart, here on the orders of Her Royal Highness.”

The Lieutenant cursed under his breath. He had heard rumors of these battle lawyers but had not encountered them in person before. “And so?” the Lieutenant inquired. “What exactly are we here for?”

He felt it was time to make something of the situation. It had been a long journey for him, having to battle some of the greatest wizard clans he had ever known, and a large part of that had come from learning what it meant to be a warrior in the wizarding world. His first thought was simply to stay put and allow his forces to advance until reinforcements were arrived.

Stewart gave a quick, but pointed look over his shoulder. “They have been working against the Ministry for years.” The Lieutenant paused for a moment and wondered what he had learned.

“You do realize that this is a very serious matter?”

“What we’re here for now is an interdict. We are here to destroy what the Ministry believes to be the most lethal magical weapon in the wizarding world, the Interdictum Mundum. It is being prepared by the Ministry to be used by a select few individuals at the end of this war.” The Lieutenant smiled at the idea in his mind until his voice turned to a low rasp. “I am grateful that my superiors, the Ministry, were willing to share it with me.”

“You do realize that this is a very serious matter?”

“Indeed,” the Lieutenant replied evenly. “They have come to a very obvious conclusion though – this is the right decision, and I trust that whatever happens, it will not be one that will cost us anything else in the short term.”

“For some reason,” Stewart said quickly, “they are not all that interested in a proper trial, not this time. Not after their first appearance at our camp.” A smile spread across the lieutenant. He had been right; this was an attempt to force the Ministry to give him access to more data before he could make a decision.

“I would imagine that you know this,” the lieutenant asked. “Why are you going into the middle of this? Are things going to be so complicated from here?”

Steward made a mental note of this. Even the best of us might not know the full extent of what was going on around the war. He had known the Ministry would not make a stand unless there was an immediate and definite threat on offer, and that they would use every means at their disposal to make sure that was not the case.

“The problem is that the Ministry are in a tight spot. They are facing a large, powerful enemy, something that they can neither defeat easily nor win easily.” “It is not sufficient to simply send more powerful wizards against the Interdictum Mundum, for you see it is not merely a magic weapon, it is a magic contract… and I found the loophole.”

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