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Copyright © Maureen Stych, llamememeg, 2022

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Annihilation

This is an excerpt from a shortstory which will be published in my book of short stories and flash fiction which will be published early spring. Title: How Bizarre. I hope you all enjoy my scribbles.

Part 1: Eduardo Jiménez

In the wake of Miguel’s death and Patricia’s disappearance, Eduardo returned to the Andalucian village where his paternal grandparents dwelt only to discover that terrorists had launched an attack on the Spanish mainland, sacking villages along the coastline from Gibraltar to Maro. Although her grandson seemed to be content, Adriana sensed something was amiss. When questioned, Eduardo failed to respond.

“Eduardo, explain why you are troubled.”

“Surely, it’s obvious? My father’s death and mother’s disappearance is painful.”

“I understand why this is difficult for you…”

“Difficult,” Eduardo yelled. “My father was fit and healthy. Someone ended his life, but who would murder a man beloved by the whole community. Given the circumstances surrounding his death, my mother’s disappearance is suspicious. Another matter concerns me: why wasn’t I informed of my father’s death until after the cremation, and why ― when I mentioned my mother’s disappearance ― was I faced with a wall of silence?”

“Patricia adored my son. I agree that her disappearance is suspicious, but as our village Elder you must set your heartbreak aside and focus on the dangers faced by the people you swore to protect. Terrorists are heading inland so we are isolated: food, medication and other essentials are scarce.”

“The solution is simple, I’ll organise a hunting trip.”

“It’s a waste of time, Eduardo, the huntsmen returned empty-handed from a two-day trip.”

“I fail to see why it’s a waste of time. Grandpa, the village is small with only 27 cottages and three apartments.”

“And seventy-seven residents.”

“I will find a way to source food for everyone. Fish, deer, wild boar and rabbits are plentiful. Ali and Juan offered to visit abandoned villages and farms to source grains, fruit, vegetables and wine.”

Carlos winced as his grandson’s Land Rover raced out of the village and up the steep winding track into the mountains. Eduardo braked and skidded across the narrow track barely missing an ancient oak tree. An icy blue mist dancing around the entrance of a wide shallow cave tempted him to enter. Without a second thought, he raced through the mist and emerged on a mountainside overlooking an island devoid of human life. The views were breathtaking. Waterfalls cascaded down the mountain range filling tiny pools with clear fresh water. Geysers dotted around the valley erupted sending jets of boiling water and steam high into the air. Twin waterfalls thundered down the slopes feeding a wide river snaking through the valley.

Memories returned as he strolled around the abandoned town of his parent’s love of Ronda and the El Tajo canyon cutting through the town centre. The traditional seagoing yacht, at anchor in the bay, intrigued him. Three old-fashioned fishing vessels stored in dry docks, Kayaks and yachts in a large outbuilding reminded him of the homeland.

Eduardo glanced at the mist swirling around a tiny cottage overlooking the village square. Sensing a familiar presence he approached. Mysteriously, when the mist dispersed, he no longer sensed her presence. The cottage was warm and inviting; a fire burned in the grate, magazines and books covered the desk. An unusual slender bladed dagger, its silvery grey blade and bone hilt decorated with an intricate pattern of runes was familiar. Exquisite watercolours of a boy, from early childhood to maturity, adorned the walls of his mother’s study.

Back in Business

Finally, now that the hacker has been defeated, the revised first book of the Eldern Journals will go live shortly on Amazon KDP. I am quite pleased with the new version and hope my fans will also be pleased.

I would love to have feedback from my readers and any suggestions they may have on improving my writing style.

My short stories will be next. The stories vary from Annihilation which follows the journey taken by the residents on a village in Andalucia who abandon their homeland and travel through a portal into the future to terrorists who invaded southern Spain and are heading north.

My favourite story is called Cecilia’s Diaries. Cecilia and her husband emigrate to Canada setting up home on the shores of a beautiful lake to the north of Lake Superior. Many years later Mary J Pope, an author, buys Cecilia’s cottage which is in a state of disrepair. She finds Cecilia’s Diaries and decided to write a novel about Cecilia. Inevitably, fate intervenes. Cecilia travels to Canada at the invitation of her son. The story takes an unexpected turn when she arrives at Lord Henry McCauley’s home. Fearing for their lives, Mary and her brother Marc flee but danger follows in their footsteps. Henry does not approve of the planned books and resorts to extreme measures to prevent the publication of his mother’s diaries.

Book 1, The Elderns

The revised first book of my trilogy (The Elderns) will be published shortly. This is an excerpt from Chapter 16.

The shadow isles vanished. Engulfed in a dense blue mist and surrounded by wild seas, the narrow winding channel leading to the safe haven beyond was impenetrable. Waves driven by fierce winds swirled around the Peaks pushing the flagship out to sea.

Memories flooded into Mari’s mind of her mother’s warning. When she sensed the Guardian’s approach her eyes snapped open. “Maju, why did the Guardian allow an unfamiliar vessel to approach the channel yet prevented us from doing so.”

“The Guardian didn’t permit her approach, Mari, Sá’kesh is driving her towards the Peaks.”

As thunder reverberated around the islands, and the storm grew in intensity, a luminescent shark ― her dorsal fin barely breaking the surface ― moved alongside Tempête.

“Ghostly,” Aimée muttered when the shark’s icy blue eyes held her gaze, “Maju, Shani’s master summoned her.”

“Watch and listen Aimée, then heed the message conveyed.”

The shark leapt high above Tempête, appearing to defy gravity. As she dropped into the ocean, gigantic waves crashed against the stricken vessel impaling her on the Peaks.

Mari raised her spyglass, focusing on the islands when the channel appeared. “The Needles remind me of row upon row of shark’s teeth but on a much grander scale. I’ve oft heard stories of how they protect the islands, but surely the Peaks are more effective at keeping intruders at bay.”

A young woman cradling a small child in her arms screamed when Shani plucked her husband from the deck, only to toss him aside as she vanished beneath the waves. A newborn snatched his body and raced towards a narrow entrance into the labyrinth of tunnels.

“Why does Maju believe Iñigo’s portrayal of the isle of shadows to be accurate. While I hate to belittle your son, anyone who describes the islands as paradise is either naïve, stupid or maybe both. Hell would be a more apt description, don’t you think?”

“Aimée,” Mari whispered dejectedly as young female sharks circled the sea stack. “The Shadows is Zúri’s Sanctuary, so I hoped the Guardian would welcome us.”

“Zúri has many guises and not all are benign.” Silenced by the threat of retribution and terrified as images flooded into her consciousness, Aimée withdrew into herself.

Infuriated by the Guardian’s actions, Maju enforced the spell of protection. His coven encircled an inky black crystal altar set beside the helm. A dense mist swirled around Tempête as the coven’s powers surged.

Mari was pale, her expression bereft as she turned to her husband, “We are unwelcome. I recall the memory of Sardaé’s warning to beware. Maju, pirates didn’t seize control of the islands from Jon Bissop. Zúri has taken back that which is rightfully his.”

Hackers

This is the first time that I have been able to login to my WordPress site since December 2022 due to the actions of a Hacker in the Wakefield and Five Towns are of West Yorkshire. This man tried to obtain thousands of pounds from me. Thankfully, he failed. I am truly thankful that he didn’t manage to destroy this account. My email addressess and laptop were destroyed, as was my Amazon account. Unforunately, I can no longer log in to my KDP author’s account.

He claimed to be an employee of BT and is so clever that this showed up on my laptop and phone.

The Elderns

Thankfully, I have finished editing my trilogy (now six books); former title: The Eldern Journals. When I finish designing ebook covers they will be published on Amazon KDP. This is the new synopsis for Book 1, Laird of the Damned.

Relax, pour a glass of wine, dim the lights and enter my world, a world that will stretch your imagination to the limits. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Etsai Guýgaal, firstborn son of Zúri and grandson of E’ron.

Humankind face extinction at the hands of a superior race blessed with phenomenal powers. A race I created in the likeness of humankind but with the intelligence and foresight to return our world to health.

A small village, and its inhabitants, overlooking the Bay of Biscay thrives. These wild seas deter human visitors, as do their powerful guardians. To find safety, and escape the Christian movement who enter their homeland, they embark of a perilous journey. All does not go well, however, and they are forced to journey south and make their home on a wild unwelcoming island which is also home to a mighty immortal who resents their presence.

When a male child is born, his mother nurtures and protects him against those whose intent is to prevent his rise. This child’s destiny is to rule the new Pha’rár.

Knowledge of the future is dangerous, or so Diana claimed, when Cæsar asked her to interpret a witness dream experienced during sleep. Throughout life Diana experienced visions, just images, but her powers matured. Witness dreams, she claimed when Cæsar described his dream, warn of an encounter in the future or an important event from the past.

When her son refuses to accept that knowledge of the future is dangerous, Diana reluctantly interprets the vision claiming it was a warning to beware of the man who came to him in his dream. Diana recognised the soul of this powerful vindictive man. Death himself, she claimed, walks beside the Laird of the Damned.

Edeline

In a bid to escape, I raced down the steep narrow winding staircase to the seventh floor and stepped into the elevator. The underground carpark was dark when I slid―unseen―through a gap in the wrought iron fence.

Albeit briefly, I paused… listening. “Unusual weather for Majorca,” I muttered.

A thick blanket of pristine snow covered the pavement as I raced along the narrow winding road. Running was impossible; the pain was excruciating. Tears slid down my cheeks as I created a sling.

The sound of a powerful engine alerted me to danger’s approach.

I sobbed, recalling the first day of our honeymoon. “The rumours were true,” I whispered as I slid, unseen, into the garden of a finca. The high wall protected me from the snow. The blizzard raged covering my footprints as my husband of only two days stepped out of the Porsche. I trembled, wondering how he sensed my presence.

Tears ran unchecked down my cheeks. Escaping from a warlock is difficult, or nigh impossible.

‘Hell,’ I thought. ‘Andreas wasn’t lying. Loko and Anders are warlocks.’

“I will find you,” Loko bellowed.

Still and silent, I waited.

“Anders, was I wrong.”

“Forget her, Loko, she isn’t worth it. Lets go back to the hotel.” Anders yelled in a bid to be heard above the howling wind.

“My wife to me.”

“Does it matter? So she wasn’t the sweet innocent you believed her to be. That’s life, Loko, it’s called equality.”

I pulled the inky black poncho from my backpack and slipped it over my head. The sheepskin mittens warmed my cold hands. Nearly an hour later, I limped into a secluded hostel overlooking a horseshoe bay.

“Do you have any vacancies.”

“A room usually set aside for staff is the only accommodation available. It’s tiny, a single bed and bathroom.”

“Brilliant,” I sobbed. “I need to rest for a couple of weeks, maybe more. Will cash be okay?”

“Rest, or lie low?”

The sob was involuntary. “Please,” I sobbed.

“You were lucky to escape, Mrs Acosta. I’ve known Loko and his brother since we were kids. Violence against women is a family trait. He was married to my sister for nigh on six months. With my help, Andressa escaped. The scars―mental and physical―haven’t healed.”

Death is the beginning!

I have memories of time spent playing in the attics of a large house; four stories with servant’s quarters on the top floor. I was wearing a white mid-calf length dress, frilly and old-fashioned; pretty ballet pumps made from soft leather, and stockings trimmed with fine hand-made lace. Black hair, styled in ringlets, cascaded down my back. Trunks of clothing and furniture were stored in the attic rooms where I was allowed to play. I raced through these rooms accompanied by another child.

This memory, and my companion, have been with me throughout all my life. I mentioned him, just once, to my mother.

“Don’t be stupid,” Mom hissed, “there are no such things as ghosts.”

“But Mom, he isn’t a ghost. Jonas lives in my bedroom.”

“Stop all this nonsense. Go out and play with your friends.”

I watched Jonas as he strolled around the room. A fleeting glance, his expression bereft, he beckoned me to follow.

Mum screamed my name, over and over again. When I turned, intent upon returning to my home, Jonas took my hand in his. Neighbours raced past me, oblivious to my presence.

Sensing my disquiet, he knelt beside me. “Your second life has ended, but this is only the beginning of your journey to immortality.”

I was seated beside Jonas as a carriage, pulled by four black horses, entered the graveyard. My parents and sister were dressed in black. A veil covered Mom’s face.

Bethany glanced at me and smiled as my coffin was lowered into the ground. A look of sweet innocence, a quick glance at our parents, and she crept towards the copse of trees.

“Sis,” she whispered, “Mom thinks you are dead.”

“I am, but I wanted to say goodbye. Don’t be sad, Bethany, my life hasn’t ended. I’ve moved on, and in time so will you. Just remember when your time comes that there is nothing to be afraid of: Death is the beginning, not the end.”

Jon

This story was penned by my late daughter, Lisa-Jane Stych. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Angela’s expression was chilling as she glanced at Jon when he admitted to being a vampire; “You feed on people?”

“Vampires,” he whispered, “feed on humans. So yes, I do.”

“And the Eldarns too?”

“No.”

“You are evil!”

“Do not moralise with me child. I did not see you weeping for the cow that died so you could enjoy a happy meal.”

“Humans,” Angela retorted, “are not cows, or happy meals for that matter.”

“To me that is exactly what you are. Nothing but walking, talking, happy meals.” He paused, adding as an afterthought. “Although I can be more certain of the contents of my meal”

“You disgust me.”

“I’m hurt. Truly! I would have thought as an animal rights protagonist you would have approved of me.”

The laughter was no longer repressed as Angela snarled, “How so?”

He smiled, his eyes twinkling mischievously. “I always make my kills swift, humane and without pain,” elaborating heavily on the humane.

Nathaniel stalked around them, interceding before Angela could continue. “Enough, “he snapped.

“How can you defend him?”

Nathaniel turned towards Angela, answering softly and calmly. “I do not consider myself moral enough to question his lifestyle, and I do not believe that there is a human alive, at least the meat eating ones, who can either. Humans raise themselves to be above other animals, and consider themselves superior and so cannot handle it when they are reduced to mere food supply by something higher up the food chain. This is all it amounts to: you don’t like the idea of being fed on, yet you feast on other animals yourselves. You look at Jon and see your true reflection―a predator―and do not like what you see.”

Angela stumbled in her response, “I do not feast on my own kind.”

Nathaniel raised his hand, silencing Jon. “And nor does he. He looks like you, he even talks like you for sure. But make no mistake, he is no longer one of you. What you see is the most effective predatory camouflage on this planet. A predator who blends in perfectly with his prey. Jon puts the chameleon to shame.”

Angela was silenced as she opened her mouth, intent on responding, as Nathaniel continued. “Besides, Jon has not killed a human in over two hundred years; not even by accident.”

Lilith glanced at Jon, her expression questioning, “Then how does he survive?”

Jon sighed, “He survives on willing donors, or when they are in short supply, blood banks. But never think for one second that I am one of those tortured Vampires you girls seem to love. If I had to kill to survive, I would. I merely…” he paused, scanning Angela’s face. “ Chose the easier, and far more enjoyable path.”

“Human donors,” Angela whispered, clearly disgusted. “Why would anyone do such a thing?”

Jon held Angela’s gaze, his pupils slowly expanding to the point where she could no longer make out the iris. Angela suddenly felt her pulse quicken; a rapid flutter of heartbeats, her thoughts were submerged in a fog.

Jon held her gaze, his voice taking on a seductive edge, “It can be highly pleasurable, should I choose. Do you care to find out?”

Nathaniel and Lilith leapt up at exactly the same time. Lilith to her friend, shaking her roughly by the shoulders while Nathaniel yelled, “Enough, release her. Do it now.”

Jon snapped out of it and walked away, laughing softly to himself, leaving Lilith and Nathaniel to comfort the dazed and incoherent Angela. Jon’s parting words, “I warned you not to bring cattle on this field trip.”

Cain

I introduced Teresa, her son Cain, daughter Belen at the end of Book 3 (Retribution). Terese is E’rón and Sa’eda’s daughter. They are two characters in the “The Elderns”. Protagonists are, IMHO, far more interesting, especially for the writer. This is the first scene from a short story which will be published on this blog later this year.

“Cain, you gotta come out and meet Uncle Cæsar.”

Cæsar glanced at Oscar when a boy, barely hidden behind his mother, tugged his father’s sleeve and whispered, “Daddy, I wanna go home.”

“Cain, Rùm is our new home.”

“No,” Cain screamed. “Mum, why can’t we return to the island. This island is cold and unwelcoming, and there’s no beach for me to play on.”

“Cain,” Oscar screamed when the tall slender boy raced towards the promontory tip. The young boy glanced at his father then stepped into the fissure.

Morag appeared. Her expression cold, she snarled, “Oscar, why didn’t you introduce me to your son when I visited your island?”

“Cain vanished shortly after I mentioned a visitor and although I searched the island, I failed to find him. Morag, our son is headstrong.”

“Your son is unmanageable, Oscar, not headstrong.”

“Our son exerts total control over his powers. Cain disappeared just a couple of days before we planned on abandoning the island. Belen mentioned, only recently, that he journeyed into the past. Morag, I believe he visited the homeworld.”

“You should have mentioned the boy. Oscar, your daughter is calm, for now, as her powers were taken at birth. The problem faced is that a powerful child protects his or her gifts behind impenetrable shields. If this is the case, then only when she reaches maturity, and I know beyond doubt that she is in control of her gifts, will her crystal be returned.”

“Can you take my son’s powers?”

“Bonding with E’rón and Sa’eda’s daughter was foolish. Oscar, your son’s powers have risen so there’s no other option open to me. His soul must be destroyed.”

“And my wife and daughter’s souls?”

“At Teresa and Belen’s behest their powers were taken into crystal. E’rón and Sa’eda were powerful. Sa’eda’s powers and crystal were taken before she abandoned the homeworld but even so they exceed those held by the Pha’rár. In time, and to protect this community, I will be called upon to destroy Cain’s soul otherwise danger will walk once more among us.”

Miriam

Hoping that she wouldn’t attract Bran’s attention, the young woman moved into the shadows. Allison’s tinkling laughter irritated her, but it was her husband’s words that cut through her fragile confidence. “My wife is enthusiastic, but naive. She has little knowledge of how to please a man.”

Tears ran down her pale cheeks as she slipped unnoticed through the open door onto the terrace. Haunted by his words, Miriam raced towards the airstrip. She had little time left before the aircraft departed. The first storm of winter descended without warning as Miriam waited for the crew to complete their pre-flight checks. Shards of ice bruised her slender frame as she clambered onboard. The journey seemed to take forever.

When the crew disembarked, Miriam changed into jeans, a hooded top and Doc Martens. She opened the safe and stuffed jewellery, currency and her passport into a black backpack. Four large suitcases, packed ready for their trip to the UK, were loaded into the Jeep. By sunset, Miriam was heading north towards her home in Whitby.

Lightning danced among dense inky black clouds as she locked the garage door. “Home,” she whispered sadly.

Her beautiful waist length platinum blonde hair fell to the floor. Tears cascaded down her pale cheeks as she ran her fingers through the short spiky locks, barely one centimetre long. Men glanced admiringly at the tall slender woman when she sauntered into the pub, taking a seat by the bar.

“Vodka on the rocks and a menu please.”

Allan returned Liberty to the water the following afternoon. Nearly two days later, she set sail, making her way north-east through the Baltic Sea.

Olivia was concerned as she hugged her daughter, “It has been a long time. Miriam, what has Bran done now?” She winced when Miriam described Bran’s actions and repeated his comment about her inability to please him. “I don’t want that bastard to visit my island. I didn’t approve of you marrying an old man with children. Bran is sixty years old, nearly three times your age. He treated Amy badly so why did you expect his treatment of you to be any different.”

“Bran isn’t aware of the island’s existence. There’s something you should know, Mom, although Jenny mentioned that I may be pregnant I’m uncertain. Bran has been obnoxious since he brought his new lover to the island.”

“What were you thinking of, Miriam, Jenny is Bran’s sister. When his child is born, he will find you. Amy left him. When the twins entered her world, his minions traced her. Bran took Jade and Jake away from their mother.”

“Mom, I’m astute enough to know that she can’t be trusted, but she saw the test kit. Bran’s lapdog arrived at my old cottage two days after I left the island. The new owner warned me, so I escaped just in time.”

“When was your last bleed?”

“Nearly five weeks ago.”

Olivia opened the safe, dropped a small carton onto the table and poured a glass of water, “Miriam, take it, now.”

Bran’s fury was palpable when he returned from the trance: his anger amused Jake, but not Jade.

“Despite all your powers, you won’t find Miriam.” She smirked as he topped up the coffee with rum. “You can’t blame her for leaving the islands. Goodness, Daddy, what the hell were you thinking of? Miriam is a few months younger than me, and she was in the bedroom when you arrived with the whore.”

“Allison isn’t a whore. Don’t lie to me, Jade, it won’t work. Where is she hiding?”

Bran winced when his daughter cursed him. “I don’t appreciate foul language, especially from a woman.”

“And I don’t give a damn. Use your powers to find her but bear in mind that Olivia is powerful. She loathes you, and who can blame her. Even you must be aware that female witches are far more powerful than males. The fact is that I don’t know where Miriam is hiding, and even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. Allison is an escort who accompanies anyone willing to pay the price; much the same as a whore as she provides sex in return for cash.”

Fury emanated from Bran when Jake quietly said, “We are returning to Scotland. A jet, organised by my mother’s solicitor arrived at the airport a couple of hours ago. All our belongings are onboard. Don’t cross us again: our mother’s powers have risen, as have ours.”