All that’s left
out my glass-heart,
my solid brain,
my skin, a new cloak,
a once beautiful mask, into something hollow,
All that's left
A hollowed out
Maybe you don't feel
a ruler now,
like a King
take of the Crown,
don't give it up.
Not just yet.
Don't give up,
in the future,
you will feel like it.
drop the Crown,
don't build walls to hide behind.
You'll be the
You'll be the
that they deserve soon enough.
Chapter Twelve - The Big City
The train ride to the big city wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Even though all I could do was sit and look out the window, the scenery was very beautiful. We pass mountains and valleys. I see trees and lakes. It is very colorful and full of life. After a while I wonder about what is going to happen to me once I get there. I wonder what the evaluation is going to be like and what they are going to do with me once they get the results. I try not to think about it too much.
It takes several hours to get to the big city. Before we arrive at the train station I can see the tall buildings from a distance. When we do arrive at the train station, there are people everywhere. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many people before in my whole life. When I get off the train there is a motorized vehicle waiting to take me somewhere. I look around and there are a lot of motorized vehicles here. There is more technology here than what I remember.
We stop in front of a tall building. It looks just like all the other tall buildings and I have no idea where I am. I get out and they take me inside. A lift takes me to the 7th floor. I walk down some corridors until I am stopped in front of a door. When we go inside I meet a man.
“Hello, you must be Nia.” the man says, “I’m Dr. Gourd. I understand you’ve been through quite a bit.” I don’t say anything. My mind goes blank and I’m not sure what I should do. If I tell this man the truth he’s really going to think I’m crazy.
“Do you remember anything about where you have been the last 8 years?” The man asks.
“No.” I tell him.
“You do remember Nia, Your mind has just locked those memories away so you can’t recall them. I’m going to help you unlock those memories.” The man states. I start to get nervous and it’s visible. “I understand that you don’t want to bring these memories back up, that’s the reason they are locked away but it’s important so you can heal and get on with your life.” I still don’t say anything.
“Let’s start with the last thing you remember.” The man says.
“The last thing I remember is being in the village.” I answer.
“I see.” The man takes out a watch attached to a chain and starts swinging it back and forth like a pendulum. “I want you to look at this watch and relax.” I stare at the watch. As it goes back and forth I start to feel sleepy. “Now I want you to try and remember what happened before you came back to the village.” He says.
“Okay” I respond. I seem to be under some kind of mind control because I can’t stop myself.
“Do you remember?” The man asks.
“Yes” I tell him.
“How did you get back to the village?” The man asks.
“My sister Katy brought me.” I answer.
“How did she do that?” He follows up.
“She has this device.” I tell him.
“What does the device do?” He continues.
“It lets her travel through time.” I answer.
“I don’t understand. Where did you come from?” The man asks.
“I came from the woods.” I told him.
“So what you are saying is that your sister Katy used a time machine to bring you out of the woods.” He summarizes.
“Yes” I answer.
“Okay, when I snap my fingers you will wake up.” The man tells me. He snaps his fingers and I am startled. I don’t remember what just happened or anything I just told the man.
“What happened?” I asked him.
“I just put you in a hypnotic state. It’s perfectly harmless.” He assures me.
“What did I say?” I ask. I wonder if I spilled too many beans.
“You said that your sister was a time traveler and that she used her time traveling powers to bring you out of the woods.” The man tells me.
“Why would I say something like that?” I asked, “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Well, that’s what your sub-conscious mind believes happened to you.” The man says.
“What do you think?” I ask him.
“I think your memories are fractured and it will take some time to put them back together.” He says, “There is a facility here that we would like you to stay in to help you recover.”
“You mean I can’t go back to the village?” I ask him.
“I think for your own good you should stay here.” He insists.
“Who’s going to tell my parents?” I ask.
“Don’t worry about that. We will take care of all the arrangements.” He says, “You’re job is to get better so you can live a normal life again.” Just great. Now I get to live in the big city. I don’t like this future. I want to go back to my village the way I remember it.
I am escorted to a room that has a bed in it. I look around and there is nothing else in the room. The walls are painted a soft blue. I lie on the bed and stare at the ceiling. Why did Katy have to bring me here? Why couldn’t she have brought me to the village the way it was before? Is she going to come back for me or is she going to leave me here to rot? I start getting really mad at her. She’s supposed to be my sister and sisters are supposed to look out for each other. I always looked out for her. What am I going to do? I start to really get worried.
Forge of the Cyclopes
“The brave son of Iapetos deceived him, and he stole the ray, far-seeing, of unwearied fire, hid in the hollow fennel stalk, and Zeus who thunders in the heavens ate his heart, and raged within to see the ray of fire Far-seeing among men. Immediately he found a price for men to pay for fire, an evil: for the famous Limping God.” - Hesiod’s Theogony
As the cloak of Nyx was cast over the sky one chill, spring evening, a shop closed its doors. The lights were dimmed all around the old, Victorian townhouse, except for a green-shaded desk-lamp on the counter. The owner, a mid-to-elderly Polish gentleman with a cobweb of white hair and thick, narrow-framed spectacles perched on his beak of a nose was casting his tired, puffy eyes over a leather-bound book, going through the familiar routine of working out if they had made enough that day to be able to open their doors for the next. He counted the takings by tapping his fingers against the ivory, carved, lion-head of a cherry-wood walking cane he kept across his knees. He had picked it out for himself from among the uncollected collaterals when his aching knees became so painful that he could no longer ignore them. He routinely told himself that the aches were a natural result of aging, but he often wondered, when he lay awake in bed at night, whether stress played a part in adding additional weight to his already buckling knees.
‘Papa?’ A young girl, no more than seventeen, trotted down the rickety, oak-wood stairs with all the excitedness and irritable, eager glee of a girl at least a quarter of her age. She had a bouncy Eastern American accent, with only a hint of her homeland’s dialect left in her emphases, which set her apart from her father who, even as a second-generation immigrant, still maintained his thick, Greater Polish accent. ‘How have we done today? Have we made enough? Are we safe?’
‘Yes, my dear.’ He sighed, setting his glasses to weigh down a page whilst he rubbed the corners of his eyes. “We have made enough. But only just.” Their pawnshop, when it had started, had been a triving one, pulling in a lot of business. In the City, a lot of desperate people were prepared to part with their goods for capital.
In the beginning, the goods they exchanged were easy to turn when the pledges couldn’t be claimed; watches, necklaces, bracelets of gold and silver, platinum earrings, even cars, of which Mister Kowalczyk of “Kowalczyk & Daughter’s: Today turn unwanted goods into cash” was very proud to have an Aston Martin on his books as collateral. In his old age, the pawnshop lender was too easily fooled by the sly folk of the City, and he would never have to know that the Aston, which he never actually saw, was in fact a BMW, and one in poor condition for that matter.
However, he was saved by his daughter, Belle, who was as smart as a whip, and could sniff out a conn artist a mile away. Out of her father’s hearing, she managed to threaten three times the interest out of the customer, and shortened the claim time with the promise that after the deadline, he would be able to fit the “Aston Martin” into the glove compartment of whatever piece of shit he would end up driving next.
After that, business began to dwindle, and the things being exchanged for hard cash were beginning to look more and more like junk; picture frames, cutlery, cabinets, bureaus, blank and used canvas’, rust-caked coins and even skeletons from a small museum, which Belle had high suspicions were either made of plastic or incomplete.
‘It is getting harder to break even, my sweet.’ He took his daughter’s soft, plump hand in his own, which was now no more than an oily rag of skin stretched over a pale set of bones and ligaments. He looked up into his daughter’s sweet, kindly face. She was not the most classically handsome of women, but she was charming to all who knew her. Her smooth, round face braided by a dense wreath of dirty-blonde curls gave her the appearance of a fallen angel radiating innocence. Kowalczyk was sure that the reason that he had so many customers in the beginning was because all of the men in the area had seen a young woman moving into the neighbourhood with her aging father, no longer capable of the strength to protect her. He knew she was strong enough to fend for herself, but the men came sniffing around her like predators, nonetheless, and to his shame, rather than pushing those men away, he was so desperate to make a living that he accepted their attentions on his daughter. He had even thought once or twice about making her available to rent, only for a second, but as soon as that thought flashed across his mind, he felt sick, and felt more deserving of death than the most brutal killer or dire traitor.
‘You work yourself too hard, Papa. Why don’t you stay at home tomorrow? I can look after the store. You need a rest.’
‘I’ll rest when I am dead.’ He snapped. His exhaustion had caused his temper to fray; the first of many signs that the City was seeping into his bones. The girl started. ‘I am… sorry, Belle. I do not know what has come over me. Maybe sleep is good. But who would be here to protect you?’
‘I can look after myself, Papa. Don’t you worry. We’ve done all we can for today; Now, let’s get you home and to bed. I can run you a bath if the boiler isn’t playing up again.’
‘Bath? Yes, yes. I would like that very much.’ The old man closed the book, switched off the light and rose to his feet with the aid of his cane.
They made their way out of the back door into a little alleyway which served as a delivery yard for one of the bars on the street over from theirs. Kowalczyk felt the familiar weight of his keys in his hand, which slowly began to feel heavier with time, as he picked the correct one and locked the door.
Almost as if it had been waiting for the loud, metallic clunk of the bolt scraping against the ancient chamber, a voice spoke in soft, snake-like, hypnotic tones.
‘Well, well. What do we have here?’
‘Who is there?’ The old man thrust his cane like a rapier out into the dark, his arm trembling under its weight.
‘Oh, ho.’ Another voice chirped, harsher than the first. ‘We’d better be careful, friends. This one is armed… with the most terrible weapon.’ There were a few snorts and sniggers like the laughter of hyenas in the dark around the father and daughter, chilling their blood to ice.
‘We asked who’s there!’ The young woman whimpered, trying to shape that hoarse croak into something that made her sound brave and fearless. ‘Show yourselves, cowards!’ She did not succeed in tempering the fear in her voice and she would come to regret her choice of words.
‘Cowards?’ One of the voices gasped, feigning shock. Eerie cackles followed like echoes from a well. ‘Cowards, she says. We can’t have us thinking we’re cowards now, friends. Why don’t we introduce ourselves?’ Before either of them could speak again, a figure stepped from the shadows. He seized the old man’s wrist, who cried out in terror as he felt the powerful grasp, and kicked his legs out from under him, bringing him crashing to the concrete. The cane flew off with a clatter into the darkness.
‘Oh dear, the old man does appear to have taken a bit of a tumble. The street can sure be slippery this time of year. The poor old sod.’
‘He didn’t fall, you pushed him!’ Belle cried, diving down to her knees to comfort her disorientated father.
‘Push? Now, now! That’s not very sporting. We don’t push. Just, kind of, bring down quickly. But only so we can build you back up. Here, why don’t we show you what we mean? Empty the old one’s pockets!’ All of a sudden, five or six men leapt from the shadows, alongside the one who had just brought her father to the ground. They pounced on the old man, tearing at his every pocket and seam. Kowalczyk panicked and struck out at one of the men with his fist. It struck an admirable blow for such an old man, surprising the one it struck so much that he collapsed from his haunches and onto his backside. The others didn’t find that amusing and, with an approving nod from their leader, one of the thugs aimed a kick squarely at his chest. The blow rippled through the old man and sent him packing inside himself, balling up and wheezing with pain.
‘Help!’ Belle screamed like a banshee. ‘Someone help us! Please! You leave my Papa alone!’ She roared and began frantically slapping randomly at the thugs, putting all of her might into each slap. She felt the skin around her wrist tighten as a hand closed over it. In panic, she tried slapping with the other but only landed one blow before that hand too was clasped firm.
‘You little brat! We’ll show you what happens to brats around these parts!’ The man grinned a grin that almost sliced his head in half and used his strength and the weight of the sky to bring the girl down onto her back, spread like a rug across the floor. She struggled, beating and kicking as three of the men broke from her father to hold her down by her arms and legs, stretching her like she was on a rack. The one who had brought her down rubbed his face, which by now was beginning to break out in red scratches and bruises, and cast daggers at her with his eyes in a devilish stare that set her heart to the base of her stomach. ‘Hold the old man. I want him to see this. You! Go and find that stick of his. It fell somewhere over there.’
‘And be quick about it! This one has spirit! Disgusting American whore!’
‘Have pity!’ The old man wheezed through a cracked rib, struggling with as much effort as he could muster against the two men who kept him rooted to the ground. ‘Please! Do whatever you want to me but not to my Belle! Leave her alone!’
‘She’s got to learn somehow, hasn’t she?’ One said, withdrawing a bowie knife from his back pocket and running it along the right leg of the girl’s shorts whilst she fought against her captors, trying to kick and scream.
‘Help! Someone! Please!’ Belle screamed, biting against the hand that was grappling with her jaw and holding her head against the ground with a force that felt like her head would explode against the concrete.
‘Shut it, you fucking slut! Stop fighting or the old man gets a nice, new hole in his head!’ The remaining one, the one issuing orders, took a silver, highly polished and gold-engraved revolver from his pocket, cocked the hammer back against the cushion of his palm and placed it against the head of her whimpering father. ‘We could fuck that instead and make you watch. Would that be preferable? You! Mede! Where the fuck is that stick of his? What is taking so long?’ By this point, Bell was naked from the waist down, tears streaming down her reddened face, which was streaked with black from running mascara.
‘It’s difficult to see. It’s so dark. Can someone give me a light?’
‘Find one yourself, worm! And hurry up, before we treat you to the same punishment!’ In the shadow, the one scrambling on the floor for the discarded stick murmured something under his breath that sounded like a curse, but no one could say for sure. From the pocket of his thin, plastic jersey, he took out a cheap, yellow lighter. The fuel was at half, but that was more than enough to provide the light to cut through the dense fog of darkness in search of the walking cane. He struck the flint with his thumb and pressed the button, and a small, white-gold flame was spat from the nozzle in a shower of sparks.
The man’s eyes adjusted to the opening space of light and he readily began to cast his eyes across the round blanket of gleaming, slab stone, when his eyes fell upon a curious object. A toe; someone’s big toe, to be precise. Square with a thick, clean nail and olive-green skin. At first, the scrambling one was confused. He thought at first it was the severed toe of some wax-work dummy, then a thought flashed across his brain that it might even be just someone’s severed toe; Afterall, stranger and more horrifying things have been found in the gutters of the City before now. However, when he looked closer, he discovered that the toe wasn’t severed at all. It was attached to a foot; a sandaled foot; a nice, clean, shapely, male foot wrapped in the kind of leather sandal he had once seen in a picture book he read as a kid, worn by Ancient Roman legionaries.
After spotting that there were indeed two sandaled feet, he followed the hatched leather straps all the way up the calves. The leather straps, although thin and wiry, didn’t cut into the fat of his leg in the slightest. He wasn’t sure there was any fat for them to bite into, just chiseled, stony muscle wrapped in leathery olive skin. He followed the leg up to a kind of kilt - a Pteruge - of leather lappets studded with golden fastenings. Further up, the scrambling one could have been forgiven for believing he was staring at a shirtless man, but in fact he was looking at the golden, decorated plate of a shining, bronze cuirass, carved into the shape of the human anatomy. Perched on top of it was a helmet of the same, golden-red metal, which stared down, eyeless, from the dark. It was conical around the back and sides, but was domed on top with a large, red-feather plume protruding from the middle and all the way behind like the quills of a great, proud bird. It looked like a statue, or a suit of armour on one of those stands they have at museums, lifeless, unmoving, and harmless but with a promise of life underneath that made it feel like the ghost of its former owner was staring out at the beholder, even now.
The scrambler was left in awe at the beauty of the craftsmanship, kneeling at the feet of the monolith, until the oval, teardrop-shaped eyeholes, split apart by a single peninsula of golden bronze running down the assumed bridge of the nose, exploded with light.
Out from the emptiness of the helmet, shone a pair of glowing, fire-red eyes. They burned inside the scrambler’s soul with the power of the Sun and sent up a groan from his open throat that sounded like the croak of a toad. The light around the eyes flickered and shifted like a lake of lava spitting in the belly of a volcano. Inside the red, angry shimmer of hot light ran streaks and cracks of gold and white, bursting forward like strips of muscle. To the scrambler, they were the living eyes of every nightmare he had ever had; he was never more convinced that he had gazed upon the face of pure evil than he was now.
‘H-he-. Help!” The scrambler screamed. “There’s someone-!’ Before he had a chance to complete his rallying-cry, something hard, fast and unforgiving struck him across the jaw. The object sang with a metallic ring as it impacted bone, and the scrambler felt three or four teeth lift clear right then. The blow was so devastating that it toppled him onto his back, and before he knew what had happened, he felt himself leaving the coolness of the freshly dampened paving stones, which went a ways to soothing his already swelling cheek, and hurtling weightlessly through the air.
‘Jesus!’ The leader of the gang exclaimed, watching the scrambler come hurtling out of the shadows like a bullet. He slammed against the brick and thudded heavily on the ground. ‘Who the fuck is out there?! Show yourself!’ The leader moved the cocked gun away from the old man’s head and the old man breathed a sigh of relief. He thrust the revolver into the belly of the darkness, meaning to kill it if he could for denying him sight of his quarry. The light of the moon gleamed off the polished surface, cutting as best it could through the thick, rich darkness. The leader’s eyes widened, taking in as much detail as he could, that it might betray his prey.
‘He’s really hurt!’ Said one of the men, who had given up holding the leg of the struggling girl. The girl herself was too shocked to move, frozen in terror and anticipation. He had rushed over to the scrambler, who was now lying like a twisted ragdoll, snoring into the sleeve of his jacket; Upon examination he was actually trying to swallow his tongue. ‘I think he needs a doctor urgently!’
‘Quiet!’ Barked the gang leader. ‘We’re not going anywhere! Not until the coward who did it comes out so I can put five ounces of lead in his face! Are you going to keep hiding or are your balls going to drop?! Come out now!’
There was silence, nothing but the sound of a light buzzing overhead and the distant, intercity under-over-ground train resurfacing. Only crickets answered his demand.
‘This is ridiculous.’ The one playing doctor growled. ‘Let’s just take what they have and get out of here before some other rival-.’ Crack! His head hit the wall with a bloodcurdling thud. A red mist exploded from his nose like juice from an overripe tomato. Instinctively, dazed as he was, he guarded his nose with one hand and caught the blood with the other. He was interrupted when the figure in gold cupped the back of his head and slammed it into his knee, letting him fall limply to the ground.
‘The fuck?!’ The leader squealed like a pig, turning the gun towards the golden figure. Upon seeing the burning, hateful eyes peering from inside the helmet, all but the leader, the two injured men, Kowalczyk and the girl took off at sprinting. Belle first sat motionless in terror, shivering from the cold against her naked thighs, and then rushed to defend her choking father. ‘Stay away from me! Demon!’ The leader, who had never considered himself religious before, suddenly began praying to every god he could think of.
He fired wildly at the fire-eyed demon in golden armour. The shots rang out powerfully; the bullets bounced off the demon’s chest as if they were made of rubber. Some of them broke into pieces and sparked off the nearby van, leaving big, gouging indents. The demon kept coming. The leader sobbed despairingly and froze in mortal terror when he heard the soft, ineffectual click of the hammer striking the empty chamber.
The demon was still standing, growing, absorbing the shadow around them and towering over the leader, who began to whimper. A powerful hand, clad in strips of red cloth, grabbed the leader by the throat and lifted him from the ground. The leader started verbally praying to every god in his memory, devoting himself to each of them should he get out of this alive. He felt the ground break away from his feet and he was left dangling at the mercy of the demon. This was it. This was how it was to end. To his shock, he found himself being tossed against the wall as if he had only been in the demon’s way.
When he sat heavily on the floor, the weight of his own body proving too much for his legs and collapsing from underneath him. He looked up to the stranger. When the demon stepped into the light, he presented a very strange sight; for a start, he wasn’t a demon at all. Sure, he was dressed in a full set of thick, golden armour which he bore like it was made of cardboard, with a large, red-feathered crest above his head, but he was human. His arms were bare, apart from the strips of red cloth wrapped around both hands climbing all the way to his elbows which formed a pair of makeshift gauntlets. They were on display proudly, the biceps and triceps together being as thick as tree trunks and sheened by olive-bronze skin. He was tall, somewhere in excess of six foot, and apart from being a little on the skinny side, appeared just as heavily armoured with muscle as he was metal. When he stepped into the light, the curse of his burning eyes was softened, nonetheless still cracking and sparking like embers. To Belle and her father, he appeared as a heroic monument to some great warrior’s past victory. Kowalczyk was half convinced that he was a living statue, breaking free from a mythical tomb to work in the night like a werewolf. Belle’s thoughts of the tortures she was to endure at the hands of the gang were cast aside as the hero filled her with thoughts of hope and delight. Her father still whimpered, possibly more from the shock.
‘There’s no need to be afraid.’ A soft, gentle, eloquent voice reassured in an accent unfamiliar to Kowalczyk. The voice was dark and full of tempered power.
‘W-Who are you, sir? What are you-?’
‘Papa, don’t you see? It’s the Golden Warrior. He’s here to save us!’
‘The Golden Warrior? My god… T-thank you, sir; from the bottom of our hearts. I do not know what I would have done if something happened to my Belle. I’m afraid I have nothing to reward you with, but I can always-.’
‘There’s no need.’ The Golden Warrior, casting his eyes across his cuirass, seemed to be studying it thoroughly. He brushed a few specs of brick dust from his chest and made it shine again like the surface of a wedding ring, and then bowed to Kowalczyk. ‘It was enough to know that I have done a good deed. Do you have somewhere safe to go?’
‘My home.’ Kowalczyk answered, smiling at the Warrior with delight. ‘It is about half a mile from here.’
‘Do you think you can make it from here on your own?’
‘Well, now that you mention it…’ Belle started, giggling shyly. Despite her experience, she was intrigued by him. Strong, stoic, dark and mysterious. In a word; Heroic. He had busied herself in her teenage years with superhero movies, dishy romance novels and heroic tv shows, and was attracted to the idea of finding herself cast as heroine in one of her stories. Afterall, how often does one meet a real-life superhero? If that was what the Golden Warrior was.
He had certainly earned himself a reputation. Reports started circulating in the docking-district newspapers and on working class tv stations, as well as spreading from mouth-to-mouth, a few months previously. The Golden Warrior, they came to call him; Blasé and invincible, cracking down on local gangs because the police, with all their restrictions and paperwork, couldn’t. He also earned a reputation for not killing, turning over captives to the proper authorities without a single fatality - just like a superhero. Belle’s eyes fluttered at the Golden Warrior, whose own pierced through her like a javelin. She was ready for her role as heroine and began dreaming of all the fame and romance.
She was broken from her daydream by a sharp pain across the back of her neck as the hairs tugged at the follicles. She screamed as the leader of the gang clasped one of his hands around the roots of her hair and pulled.
‘You’re not going anywhere, you slut!’ The leader, wielding a small knife in his free hand, aimed an arching swing at her now exposed throat. Before she or her father could retaliate, the Golden Warrior lunged forward. He parried with his arm, directing the attack away from Belle and throwing the leader off balance. The leader instinctively released Belle, who scurried back to the safety of her father’s shoulder. Before he tumbled back against the wall, the Golden Warrior aimed a powerful blow straight at the ball of the leader’s elbow, using the same momentum from the counter. The elbow audibly cracked and the leader screamed, sitting back heavily clutching his sagging arm and panting like a dog.
‘Now, stay!’ The Golden Warrior snarled, something in his voice summoning the image of a beast snapping its jaws inside a wrought iron cage in Belle’s mind. ‘Sit there nicely and-.’ The Golden Warrior broke off to stare at the knife that had fallen to the pavement stones in the struggle. The glint from the highly polished blade caught his eye.
‘You bastard! You broke my fucking arm!’
‘Shattered it by the sounds of things.’ Chuckled Kowalczyk, who was patting his daughter’s hand and relishing the justice that had been served.
The Golden Warrior ignored them both, paying every ounce of attention to the knife lying in the gutter. He knelt down to get a closer look. Whilst no one could see the expression on his face, he radiated an aura of disgust and disbelief. That disbelief turned to anger and the air around them began to shimmer like a heatwave. It made Belle uneasy, encouraging her to take hold of her father’s hand.
‘Sir? Is something the matter?’ Kowalczyk asked, squeezing his daughter’s hand in mutual unease. The Golden Warrior ignored this too, instead leaning forward, slowly taking the knife by its point and lifting it out of the rainwater.
The blade was curved like a sickle, made from bright, shining steel with a handle carved from ivory. The handle was dashed along both sides of the tang with what looked like rubies and diamonds in alternation. The cross guard was double sided and opposingly curved at both ends like a bodybuilder showing off his carefully toned physique to an admiring crowd. The pommel was the part in particular where the warrior focused the majority of his hate. All that it appeared to show to Kowalczyk’s admittedly weak eye was a silhouetted cameo of a crow with a snake clasped between both talons.
‘Where did you get this?’ The beast in Belle’s mind roared and began to snap harder at the iron bars; one of them even appeared to bend.
‘Why should I tell anything to scum like you?’ The leader cackled through his deep, sharp breaths of controlled pain. Without warning, the Golden Warrior lashed at him like a viper, pinning the broken, drooping arm against the wall and pinning his head to the brick by pressing the tip of the blade against the skin of his Adam’s-apple. The leader yelled and yapped with pain, but the Warrior took no heed.
‘Where… did you get this?!’ The beast had its claws anchored into the bars, wrenching with all its might. ‘Answer me now!’
‘I-It’s mine! I earned it! Give it back, thief!’ A sweat that had beaded across the leader’s forehead suddenly began to pour down his face when the eyes of the Golden Warrior flared and started to drain the moon of light.
‘Who gave it to you?!’ The beast roared and pulled harder, the first fastening in the walls of its cage began to pop from the rivets.
‘I told you; I earned it. Are you deaf as well as dumb? It is my badge of honour. I don’t have to tell you-.’
‘Persas scum!’ The sweat now flooded across the man’s shirt and his eyes grew wider.
‘You… know us?’ By this point, the two injured men began to regain consciousness but remained silent, fearing what would happen if they intervened. The Golden Warrior let out a pained laugh, hate bellowing from him like an inferno.
‘I know you. Oh, do I know you, alright. And now I know you are here, I also know what you’re up to. But I can tell you: you will not succeed.’ The leader chuckled faintly, wincing at the pain in his arm.
‘And who will stop us? The United States government who left this island to die? The Liberation League? Or you, perhaps, Man of Gold? You have no idea how many strong we are; How many ears we have listening from every wall; How many eyes we have on every street corner. If you know us, you know our strength, and our determination. You are but one man. How could you possibly stand in our way?’ The Golden Warrior stood up, his eyes burning hotter than the Sun. He had forgotten that anyone else there, save for him and his contemptable companion. Sensing danger like the trembling of the ground before a volcano eruption, Belle and Kowalczyk, still dazed and afraid, began to back away slowly, following the lead of the injured pair shuffling across the ground.
‘I do not know what I can do, yet.’ To the surprise of everyone, especially the gang leader, who now looked on in a state of almost catatonic horror, the Golden Warrior raised his hand and produced a thin shaft of golden-white, liquid metal, like a ray of sunshine. It glowed and stretched in both directions, forming a long, thin bolt of light, curling outwards and back in again to form a leaf at each end. It cooled and solidified, forming a dark and ominous shape. The spear was made from a strange, dark, anthracite-black metal that no-one could identify. The two heads were lashed onto either end of a long, dark, red-wood staff reinforced with beads of gold. ‘This, however, would be a good place to start.’
’I-It’s you! But it can’t be! How could you have followed us?! How did you find us?!” It was at this point that Belle abandoned all hope of being cast as heroine in her dream. This was no comic book; this was no fairy tale; this was something darker. Darker than anything she could possibly comprehend. She no longer looked on the Golden Warrior, standing with an upraised spear over an unarmed, injured man, with curious desire, but saw him instead as the ravenous, vengeful beast he was, ugly, cold-blooded and brutal. The Golden Warrior turned to the two injured men, who screamed like children when they saw the power behind his fiery eyes.
‘Tell your God-king: We are at war!’ He roared, sending the two injured men tripping over themselves to get away, and send Belle running, dragging her father behind her, heedless of her nakedness. The leader let out a final, pleading squeal before the spear was driven down. He let out one last long, tortured screamed before he was silenced forever.
The City fell oddly still after that. The wind above changed and everyone asleep that night woke in a bath of sweat, escaping the most terrible nightmares.
Title: Forge of the Cyclopes
Genre: Epic, Action/Adventure, Magic Realism, Fantasy
Age range: 18+
Word count: 6180 Words
Author name: T. G. Karney
Why your project is a good fit: This story is a good fit for the Trident Media Group because it is a unique fantasy epic, focusing on immersing the reader in the world created by the author and in creating believeable, realistic, compelling characters, giving a very human point of view to a demigod’s journey from zero to hero. The optimistic cynicism and light magic-realism of the story would fit in very well alongside other words published by the Trident Media Group, such as Louis Sachar’s Holes (a personal childhood favourite of mine).
Hook: Do you ever wonder whether the gods of old still influence our lives today - if so, who will they allow to live and die in a war raging between a vengeful, fire-eyed demigod and an empire led by a mad king?
Synopsis: Forge of the Cyclopes is the story of a demigod who stands in the way of a modern monster - an organisation turning the American East coast into a battleground. Through the eyes of Thomas, one of the many potential victims of the poverty and strife created by war, we learn the consequences that others suffer in the wake of a hero’s quest. Thomas, together with his friend Callista, goes searching for the invincible “Golden Warrior”, a hoplite in shining Greek armour, convinced that he holds the key to their escape from the organization, which has powerful ties to a war raging in Eastern Europe and spreading West fast. Will Thomas and Callista live to see the dawn? Will the Golden Warrior become the hero the world needs him to be? In his quest to touch the gods, will the Golden Warrior have to sacrifice his humanity? And how will a mysterious island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea tie all their fates together and change the course of history forever? [I can provide a full, detailed synopsis upon request as I wouldn’t want to spoil anything]
Target audience: Adults; students of ancient history and literature; and appreciators of Greek myths.
Your bio: Born in West London, raised in the South of England, T. G. Karney began writing at the age of twelve, determined to be the writer of a story that would be enjoyed the world over. Cutting his linguistic teeth on mysteries, fantasy, dark comedies, historical and epic literature, he began in early years of writing practicing and experimenting with form and structure. As a teenager, I fell in love with the works of George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Kevin Brooks and eventually Andrzej Sapkowski. Greatly effected by his diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome at aged 17, at a difficult time in his life, he picked up writing as a serious and almost all-consuming hobby as a way of dealing with the stresses and absurdities of life as he knew it. In later years of writing, he took a great deal of personal inspiration from the Odyssey and the Iliad to heart, and developed a great and powerful respect for the Greeks, finally setting out to write Forge of the Cyclopes, the first in a three-part trilogy telling the story of a new, modern addition to the Greek Mythos.
Platform: Up until now, my work has been shared only among friends and select members of my family. I had always intended to allow it to be read by the general public, but I closely guarded my work until I believed it was ready.
Education: A-Level Photography, Film, Psychology and AS-Level English and Computing. Continued training in metalwork.
Experience: I have been writing since I was twelve, but Forge of the Cyclopes is the first manuscript I have submitted for publication.
Personality/writing style: It’s difficult to put a single name on my writing style, but I would say it draws very heavily from the writing style of Andrzej Sapkowski’s Witcher Saga, focusing on character interactions in an immersive, imaginative world. I also take a lot of inspiration from the classics of Greek literature, namely Homer and Hesiod.
Awaiting the Hardships
Dr. Marbury sat at the large wooden dining table, a cup of lukewarm tea in front of him. He had neglected the beverage for nearly half an hour now, and the room was dark aside from a single electric chandelier hanging from the ceiling above the table, giving off a faint yellow glow. It illuminated the lavish carpeting of the room and the fully-stocked bookshelves along either wall. And, of course, the light reflected in the dark window panes that looked out over the city of Hyderabad.
It was late, yes, but Dr. Marbury could not go to sleep. He was in constant thought over what the next day might bring. A year prior, in 1887, while in London, he had been offered the chance to accompany an expedition deep within Southern India as the head biologist. Now, he was wondering why he had ever accepted the offer.
The pay would be very good, indeed. And there was also the prospect of discovering new specimen that had never before been known to mankind. Then there was the fact that Dr. Marbury had scarcely ever left Europe in his life, and now was the chance for adventure. However, as the day of the expedition neared, the poor professor began wondering how he would ever survive seven months in the dense jungles of India.
Dr. Marbury had always lived in luxury. In London, his family owned a grand estate with the finest modifications and commodities to make living comfortable. Even now, in Hyderabad, he had rented a room in the finest, most expensive and modern residence money could afford.
Dr. Marbury was troubled because he knew that in twelve hours he would be trading his comfortable study and fine tea for the ruggedness of the jungle. He would be giving up his warm bed for the roots and vines of the forest floor. And, of course, he would be trading his fine suit for the informal wear of an explorer.
Now, he lived in ease. Within less than half a day from this moment in time, Dr. Marbury knew that he would be staggering through the sweltering heat, his hips and shoulders growing weary as he hauled his heavy gear and biological journals through the dense wilderness. There, he would be at risk of disease, wild animals, and incessantly-biting insects. Not to mention the poisonous plants that would surely be along the route.
Then another thought crossed his mind. ‘I am worried for what is to be when now I am comfortable,’ he thought. ‘So, surely, the thought that I will be back safe and comfortable in London some eight or nine months from now will be enough to get me through this.’ Dr. Marbury smiled at himself as he took his first sip of tea. ‘I will have quite the story to tell.’
he said that?
out of the
out of his
that never should
have been crossed.
it was the start
of the finale,
a final desparate
in her mind
i love you.
The Other Side
It was a car accident.
She had drunk too much beer.
It had tasted like cat pee.
The party had been excruciating. The beer had made it more tolerable, it had quelled her anxiety, but for a price. She was seeing comets. She could barely keep her hands on the steering wheel.
Beverly was in the passenger seat, alternating between singing an off-key rendition of 'Material Girl' and complaining about her 'old lady name'. She reeked of weed.
It was mid-January. The roads were icy. Too much pressure on the gas pedal, and they flew off the road.
It was a long fall.
She prayed, despite being a life-long athiest. She promised to be nicer. She'd visit her dad more. She'd stop smoking those strawberry flavored vapes that she really liked but that were wreaking havoc on her lungs.
But was it really possible to repent seventeen years of your life in ten seconds?
The ground had arrived.
*end of sample*
Title of Work: The Other Side
Genre: Realistic fiction, with a dash of sci fi.
Age Range: YA lit, so I'd say about 14+. But I know plenty of adults who read YA lit.
Word Count: See notes at bottom of page, but I'd guess somewhere in the range of 75,000-100,000 words.
Author Name: Anna Carr (this is not my actual name. Because this is the internet I would like to protect my privacy)
Why my project is an excellent fit: This piece exposes a whole new view on death, while also adressing issues such as anxiety, depression, and imposter syndrome. It's a bit like an undercover self-help book, mashed up with dry humor and metaphor.
Hook: When Elaine dies in a car crash, she doesn't actually die. She's teleported to another dimension, 'Tier Two'. This happens to everyone who passes away.
She is sent to live in a division of Tier Two that is made up of teenagers who also had untimely deaths.
Having struggled with overwhelming anxiety and depression in what the folks of Tier Two call 'Tier One', Elaine decides to reinvent herself.
But at what cost?
Synopsis: Elaine's reinvention is slow and shaky, as her mind drifts back to Tier One and everything she's left behind. But eventually she becomes somewhat happy, and adjusts.
She immerses herself in the stories of other's past lives. She makes friends.
But then, things fall apart and she relapses.
In the end, though, she is able to pick herself back up, and finds closure and acceptance in her new 'life'.
Target Audience: Everyone. But this book will especially strike a chord with realistic fiction fans and those who have experienced similar issues to Elaine's.
Writing Style: I really like writing in third person, but the psychological closeness you get in first person really can't be beat. I like to use metaphor, symbolism and motif liberally. I'm not the most skilled with dialogue, but try to incorporate a decent amount. I have a sarcastic sense of humor, and try to add a little bit of that to all of my pieces.
Experience: I was the first place winner in the literature category of a city-wide arts contest about six months ago, for a short story I wrote. I have also had my work published in multiple magazines.
I think that is an adequate amount of information, but here are a few notes:
Because I am currently working on another project, my sample is all that I have written so far. But if needed, I'm sure I could juggle two projects at once.
The remainder of the story would be in first person. The plot is not set in stone, except for the vague outline.
A Fallen Star
She was falling like the stars
Through night skies
And watered eyes
She plunged within the darkness.
You see her for a moment
With a broken heart
And a fresh start
On a planet far away.
But she passes for a moment
Too quick to hold
Bright and bold
Plummeting through the Earth.
Yet you can only see the stars
When they're in the dark
Leaving a searing mark
Just a moment way too late.
If life is a story, live like you’re writing the masterpiece of the ages.
If life is a picture, climb to the highest mountaintop to capture your image.
If life is a puzzle, stay up all night to find the right place for every last piece.
If life is a movie, watch it till the end so you don’t miss the credits.
If life is a journey, bring along a friend or two so you don’t lose your way.
If life is an adventure, don’t forget to laugh in the face of the unknown.
If life is a marathon, be sure to pace yourself so you finish strong.
If life is a story, remember you are the hero of yours.