I was going through short story files last night on my computer and pulled out this gem. Read it through to the end. This is really what’s in the file. I’m not kidding.
by S. J. Reisner
Pungent black night slipped swift into the long halls and dank corridors. With sword drawn, the smell of fear, and sweat prickling her deep tanned skin Loriann continued on. There was something foul to be said of wandering these halls in search of intruders. But guard duty was the best job she could find to feed her children and care for her aging mother. Her husband had died years ago on the Telanian plains during a lightening war lasting long enough only to leave bodies strewn over the blood drenched battle field. Darrek came home in a box that summer. The children had cried long and hard, but Loriann stayed strong. Still, she hid her emotions like a stolid rock. Burying them deep in the recesses of her tortured soul. It hurt. It hurt bad.
And now she hid her fear. The noise she heard at this end of the castle had been loud and brief. Almost whip-like crackling sharp and stiff. It echoed off the carved stone walls and carried through the windswept corridors pulling her from the safety of her torch lit guard station. She stopped short when the wind sifted and moaned, carrying through the halls like the crying dead. Her hair stood as cold terror slipped up her arms and to her neck then down her back. She shook it off. Be brave, she told herself. She had to be brave otherwise she’d lose her job. Working in the market wouldn’t feed a family. What would she do then? She carried on – masking her fear.
There was nothing at this end of the castle. Not fit for the needs of the living anyhow. Only the crypt and several abandoned towers. The dust and cobwebs settled thick in the cracks and crevices, covering once used doorways and niches bearing statues of gods long since forgotten. Loriann’s footfalls echoed softly as she crept forward. There was nothing here. Her small boots left prints in the soft white dust covering the marble tiled floor. The air grew musty. Crack, shatter – the sound again. It sounded as if hundreds of glass shards falling onto concrete. But this time whispers accompanied it. She drew nearer a door carved of oak. A pattern of leaves adorned it’s front and the once gold plated door handle was now tarnished almost black.
Loriann knew where the door led. It didn’t come from down there, she assured herself. But the sound of shattering glass told her otherwise. Something had broken below, down in the crypt. Grave robbers come to steal the jewels of the kings and queens, and other royals resting there. Surely. Of course Loriann wasn’t one for superstition, but for a fleeting moment she imagined the dead had arisen.
She almost laughed at her own naivity. She knew better. After all, she was an educated woman. The daughter of a wealthy merchant who had had plenty of opportunity for an education. But education didn’t pay for food in this city. Common sense did. With new found confidence, she grasped the door handle and opened it.
She took one swift breath and drew her sword when she felt her back slam into the stone wall of the corridor. It was Lord Beliar. His strong arm held her hand and sword tightly in its grasp. “My-my Lord I had no idea it was you,” she stammered. Things seemed blurry, almost dream-like.
Beliar’s cold expression softened, he smiled, slightly amused, and released his grasp. “I was paying respects to my grandmother. I dropped the vase of flowers and it broke,” he told her calmly.
She nodded. “But, My Lord, I heard other noises,” she told him. She had heard other noises – had she not? She definitely heard glass breaking.
“Birds nest in the towers above. That’s probably what you heard, ” he told her. “Now, run along back to your guard post, woman. Everything is fine here,” he said placidly.
She saluted briefly and retreated as she was told. Something didn’t seem right. She could feel it in the pit of her stomach and she pondered it the rest of the night until the first shift guard took over at dawn.
[Writers Block Starts Here]
While walking home she said “Fuck it!” and quit her job. She and the family moved far away from the evil castle from hell.