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    Shaking her head, Cathy stood in the blazing sun of South Africa and wondered what the hell was wrong with him.

    “She’s been missing since Friday and you’re not worried?”, she hissed at Damian, blinking in disbelief, “That’s three days! She’s out here, all on her own, she…”

    “You don’t know that.”, he gently interrupted her, but it did nothing to calm Cathy down. Instead she threw her hands up in the air and yelled at him: “You may be used to the South African heat and the animals here in the desert, but Nikki isn’t! I’m not. I have no idea where she could be, but I do know that we’re miles away from anything even remotely close to civilisation. How could she not be in danger?!”

    But he remained calm, damn him. Cathy snorted and looked around, trying desperately to catch a glimpse of her best friend, yet all she saw were the endless plains of red sand that were the Kalahari Desert, red sand interspersed with dry bushes so arid they bristled in the slightest breeze. Not even the water gurgling through the ford they were standing by helped the plants any. The scene was endless and discouraging, just like her mood. She had to find Nikki. Soon.

    “Who knows what she’s going through right now?”, Cathy mumbled, tears brimming her eyes, “She could be dying out there or…”

    Her voice broke as her thoughts turned to the horrid possibility that her friend might already be… no, she refused to think about that. It just could not be!

    “Cathy.”, Damian softly spoke behind her and the weight of his big hand was on her shoulder, somehow it felt reassuring, then he said, “I’m sure she’s fine.”

    “How can you say that?”, she sobbed, unable to stop herself, she was crazed with worry, “How can you be so calm about this?”

    “I know this land.”, was all he offered as a reply and it made Cathy frown. What an odd thing to say. And in such a dire situation!

    “We should never have come here.”, she mumbled, saddened.

    “Yes you should.”, Damian growled at her, taking her by surprise and when she spun around, she saw… something in his eyes, they flashed with something she could not name. It was not quite anger, not quite fear. But something.

    “T…then what do we do?”, she asked, paralysed with fear for her friend and a sudden disquiet looking into Damian’s hazel eyes. Had they always been this light brown? “We can’t call the police.”

    “Not out here.”, Damian shook his head, “And we don’t need to.”

    “How…?”, Cathy wanted to ask again, now afraid and infuriated, but a strange noise made her stop midsentence.

    “What’s that sound?”, she whispered, but Damian ignored her, he was staring over her shoulder, off into the desert behind her, a pained look in his eyes. Cathy turned around, both afraid and curious, but she could not spot anything. The yellow grass, scorched by the relentless sun overhead, was swaying gently in a breeze, a few insects were buzzing, but nothing else.

    “Damian, what is it?”, she turned towards him again and he blinked, as if she had interrupted his thoughts, then he looked at her and stammered, “Nothing.”

    Just like that, with that one word and the one moment of hesitation before he had said it, a lump of ice formed in Cathy’s stomach.

    “Oh my God.”, she muttered before she could stop herself, “Oh my God. You killed her.”

    “What?”, Damian stared at her, then he violently shook his head, “No!”

    “But you… this…”, Cathy stumbled over her own words, not knowing what she should do, how she could flee from a murderer in the middle of the Kalahari Desert… and what the hell was that noise?!

    Horrible images flashed before her eyes, Nikki bloodied and left to rot out in the desert, eaten by all kinds of animals… had she not seen a few more carrion birds the last two days…?

    Without her conscious decision, she began to run. She had no idea where, just away.

    “Cathy, no!”, Damian yelled behind her, but she ignored him, ignored the man who had murdered her best friend, “Cathy!”

    She could not fight the sobs, but did her best to ignore Damian behind her, his footsteps on the dry ground and, oh God, that noise. What was it?

    Pushing it out of her mind she reached the jeep, Damian’s jeep, and wrenched open the door. It cost her a second to step around it and that second was all it took.

    “Cathy, calm down.”, Damian hissed in her ear as he grabbed her around the waist, “Please.”

    “Let go of me!”, she screeched and fought him, trying her best to wriggle out of his grasp, but he was bigger than her and stronger by far. But she was desperate. So she kicked and punched and sharp pain surged through her arm as her fist actually did connect with his face in such a fierce blow that he loosened his grip on her. Cathy fought and got free, although only for a moment.

    Damian’s hand closed around her wrist like a vice and he yanked her back with such force that she lost her footing and fell. She saw the side of the jeep rushing towards her face, or rather her face rushing towards the jeep, then as her temple crashed against the hard, hot metal, nothing but darkness.

    When she woke, she did so slowly, very slowly and it took her a few seconds to discern the sensations she felt. The hot sun above, the hard and almost as hot sand beneath her, a hand on her shoulder, something slightly wet and rough against her cheek and then that noise again. It was a purr, but not quite like from her own cat at home.

    With a start Cathy opened her eyes… and was face to face with a lion.

    A fearful yell escaped her and she scrambled to get away, get to safety.

    “Cathy, calm down, please.”, Damian spoke to her and she now realised that the hand on her shoulder had been his, that he was now kneeling behind her and trying to stop her. He kept her in front of him, between him and the lioness.

    “Is this how you killed her?”, Cathy sobbed, “With a lion?”

    Damian merely sighed, but his grip on her remained as strong and steadfast, then he said: “You don’t understand.”

    “That you killed my best friend?!”, Cathy accused him and for a moment, Damian’s hands tightened around her upper arms, sending pain through her as he spoke through gritted teeth, “I love her.”

    Then his grip loosened again and he even took his hands off her, but Cathy kept staring at him, not feeling the pain or the relief of it. As he had revealed his feelings for Nikki, feelings she had not known anything about, he had nodded towards the lion. Lioness.

    She had to have imagined that.

    But now he was staring at the lioness, as if silently conversing with her and she started purring again, her head cocked to the side and watching first Damian, then Cathy, with a gaze… too human for an animal.

    “Alright.”, Damian then mumbled towards the lioness, “This is on you, love.”

    Cathy’s disbelieving gaze shifted to Damian, then back to the lion in front of her, just sitting there in the sand, purring for heaven’s sake.

    “If I told you, you wouldn’t believe it.”, Damian then addressed her and Cathy whispered hoarsely, “Believe what?”

    Damian chuckled sadly at this, then asked her, “Look into her eyes. Really look. Please.”

    Cathy frowned, but hesitantly did as he had asked. And when she met the lioness’ gaze, she felt unease pool in her gut. Something was not right…

    Startled, she scrambled back once again as she saw it. But it could not be.

    “Now you know where she is.”, Damian whispered beside her, but all Cathy could do was stare at the big cat in front of her and mouth her disbelieving question, “Nikki?”

    The lioness jumped to her feet and padded over to them, bumping her head against Damian’s with… affection, and he brought his hands to her neck, burying his fingers in the brown fur and leaning his forehead against hers. Their exchange spoke of love, but Cathy could not believe it.

    “How?”, she mumbled, unsure what exactly she wanted to know or if she even wanted to know anything about all this.

    “I don’t think you’ll believe it, but I am…”, Damian began, then stopped, looked at the lioness – Nikki, if he was to be believed – and added in a hesitant whisper, “I am a shapeshifter. Have been since I was born. I am… half lion, so to speak.”

    He then laughed, tickled the lioness under her chin and said: “You were right. It is relieving to say it out loud.”

    The lioness then flopped down next to him and with his hand on her neck, Damian continued: “I can control the shifting, but here, at home, in the desert, I… I just had to turn and run with the animals here. It’s my nature. Nikki found me and I was convinced she’d be afraid, but she wasn’t. She asked me if I could turn her, so… I did.”

    As if in an afterthought, he added: “She’ll be able to turn back, but it takes a few days to get the hang of it.”

    “Are you fucking kidding me?“, Cathy asked and it startled both Damian and the lioness – Nikki.

    “Even though I’m halfway to believing your tale about were-lions…”, Cathy hissed and ignored Damian as he interjected that they were shapeshifters, “You just up and turned her? Without thought? I understand this is permanent?”

    “I did…”, Damian flinched, but then said with determination, “I refused at first. But she wanted to be like me, with me. I… I love her, how could I say no if her wish was mine as well?”

    “If you truly loved you, you would’ve.”, Cathy spat and Damian winced as if struck. Nikki, however, hissed at her, showing her teeth and her claws that could rip Cathy apart in mere seconds. Yet that was all she did, but Damian nevertheless did his best to restrain her.

    Cathy heaved herself up to her feet and glared at Damian at her feet as she ordered: “Get me to a hotel. I’m getting outta here.”

    “Cathy…”, he pleaded, but she shook her head, “No. For all I care, you killed her. Now are you going to drive me to a hotel so I can catch a flight back home or are you going to murder me out here now that I know your terrible secret?”

    “Of course not!”, he quickly said and rose to his feet, slowly and clumsily like an old man burdened with pain. Even if, Cathy did not care, she just got into the jeep.

    She also ignored the lioness as she too got up, but when she tried to jump onto the loading space of the jeep, she quietly said: “No.”

    The lioness stopped, her body taut for the jump she never made. Instead she backed away and merely watched as Damian climbed into the driver’s seat and started the jeep.

    Cathy caught a last glance at what used to be her friend in the rear-view mirror, but tried to ignore the pleading look in those brown eyes, the eyes of her friend. Damian turned the key in the ignition, the jeep roared to life as he floored it and behind them an agonised roar echoed over the plains of the desert, the roar of a lion.

Love scorched (Challenge)
This was September's challenge, written from the following prompts:

Location: A ford
She’s been missing since Friday and you’re not worried?
Bonus: Purring

It just popped into my head, I don't really know what to make of it. ^^;



Mature Content

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    “No.”, was all he said, his voice crackling slightly over the phone, but the determination in it clear nonetheless, “I will not help you with this.”

    “Noah, c’mon!”, she growled, clutching her mobile phone tightly in her hand, “You can’t leave me hanging now.”

    Her only answer was a pained sigh and she knew exactly how he looked in that very moment, his free hand probably in his long brown hair and his dark eyes closed in both exasperation and hurt, but she paid it no mind. Instead she said challengingly: “You won’t help me? Fine, I’ll do it on my own.”

    Silence followed, she almost believed he had simply hung up on her, but then she heard Noah again.

    “Sharon.”, Noah said, his voice flat, almost lifeless, “If you do this, you will be dead to me.”

    “Noah, I have to, I…”, she began, but then realised that he had in fact hung up on her.

    “Bastard.”, Sharon muttered and threw the phone onto the couch, glaring at it while thinking of Noah. Uptight bastard. Uptight bastard with a stick up his arse.

    Stifling the tears that threatened to spill from her eyes, Sharon snatched up her phone and got dressed. There was no time to lose after all, as there was a full moon tonight.

    When she left her apartment, she thought about sending Noah a text message saying that she was sorry, but then she scoffed and dismissed the idea. She had nothing to be sorry for, nothing.

    During the short drive to the dock, Sharon went over her mental notes again, checking them probably for the hundredth time, but she had to be sure, otherwise this whole endeavour would be for naught.

    But she had everything, the old letter, the lock of Noah’s hair, stolen from him as he had been taking a nap on her couch, her mother’s blood…

    Now the only thing missing was the full moon.

    Checking her watch nervously, Sharon realised that only an hour of daylight remained, but it was enough, it simply had to be enough. Still she glanced nervously at her watch as she parked the car and quickly walked over to her father’s boat. Forty minutes of daylight remaining as the old, rusty boat made its way through the dark murky waters of the lake, pushed towards the lost little island in the middle of the lake, the Isle of Archer, all but abandoned nowadays except for the occasional a bit too adventurous youngster trying to prove himself by spending a night there. No one ever managed the task, but Sharon knew she had to at least stay there long enough to get the answers she needed, just a few minutes.

    Her arms were burning and her breath already ragged as the sun dimly vanished behind the thick, black forest surrounding the lake, engulfing her in darkness. And she was still so far away from the island.

    She had to hurry, or she would miss the window, would miss the crucial time for the ritual and have to wait for another month. Her mother did not have that kind of time. Not anymore.

    Tears threatened to spill, but Sharon choked them down and instead put all the energy into rowing the boat across the lake. It was not long before the keel hit the gravelly shore of the Isle. As she stepped out of the boat, her hands were shaking and admittedly, it was not only from exhaustion. She was afraid. She had sworn herself to not fear this moment, to be brave, for Mom, but she could not do it.

    No matter, she had to pull through despite her fear then. Nothing else mattered.

    Checking once again whether she had everything, Sharon made her way over the island, flashlight in hand. A motion at the corner of her eye made her jump before she realised that it had only been a bush and the flashlight casting weird shadows. Pathetic.

    With new resolve, Sharon briskly walked onwards and soon the old cottage was in sight. It was in an abysmally bad state, all windows shattered, the door unhinged and the roof rotted, caved in. No one had been here for an entire century, she was sure of it, and had it been up to her, she would not be here either, but she pushed the thought and the lump of ice in her stomach aside and instead proceeded into the abandoned cottage, ducking under cobwebs and trying her best not to stumble over the omnipresent rubble.

    She stubbed her toe, but the pain was forgotten within an instant as she found it. The altar.

    Shaking her head, Sharon silently cursed Noah once again. Bastard, he had to have known about this. The whole town knew about the Archers’ connection to dark powers, but they only ever talked about it in hushed voices and never with one of the old clan present. She had once dared ask Noah about it and that rat bastard had denied everything. But he had tried to keep her away from the island nonetheless, even successfully up until now. Now though, something was more important than him, more than her. Or anything, really.

    With a sigh of determination, Sharon walked up to the altar, almost mesmerised by the way the moonlight was caught in the silvery surface, making it shine with an eerie glow that somehow was too strong for that wee ray of moonlight, but she ignored it. More pressing matters.

    With shaking hands, she produced the items she had painstakingly collected over the last few weeks, ever since she had heard that the altar could actually be more than just the village legend.

    First the old letter she had found in the mansion of Noah’s family, now abandoned, but still filled with the riches of the Archer clan. Alright, so she had stolen it, but who cared? It was for a good purpose.

    The letter told her what to place where and so she followed the instructions to the letter.

    “Hair of the heir, bound by blood.”, Sharon mumbled and placed the lock of Noah’s hair in the lacuna right in the middle of the altar.

    “Blood of the ailing, thereby bound by blood.”, she continued, her voice breaking as she emptied the vial of her mother’s blood into the lacuna as well, wetting Noah’s hair with it. It looked like normal blood, but Sharon knew that it was riddled with cancerous cells, slowly killing her mother, taking away the most important person in her life. And for what reason? Fucking bad luck.

    But not on her watch. She would get answers, a bleeding wonder if she had to.

    “Bound by blood, freed by fire.”, Sharon read in the letter and lighted the match which she then gingerly guided to the bloodied hair. It exploded in flame making her shriek in shock, then the flame calmed, but it burned in brightest blue, painting the empty cottage in a pale blue and casting unfamiliar shadows while engulfing both the lock of hair and her mother’s blood, slowly consuming both.

    Sharon was mesmerised; she kept staring until she realised that once the blood had been burnt, her chance would be gone. So she composed herself and read the chant in the letter aloud: “Freed by fire to roam in your realm, seeking the answer. Seeking freedom of this ailment. I beseech thee, grant this freedom.”

    Only the crackling of the flame broke the following silence, then the lock of hair caught fire and burnt in blood-red before, in a flash of light, it went up in ashes.

    Darkness descended with the fire now gone and only the moonlight remained.

    “No…”, Sharon mumbled, “No. It has to wo…”

    Her words were cut off when she gasped in agony, her wrists burning hot like the blue flame that had consumed her mother’s blood. Sharon’s breath was taken away by the mind-numbing pain and even though she tried to scream, nothing could be heard.

    Only a whisper in her head, ice-cold in its malignity: “Your offer is…acceptable.”

    The pain on her wrists doubled, something burning into her flesh, scorching her very soul, blackening it. She had no idea how she knew that. But she did.

    “Begone!”, a voice boomed through the dark night, soothing Sharon’s soul, soothing her burning wrists like balm, “I command you, be gone!”

    The pain on her wrists vanished like a grip that had suddenly been shaken and it only left a dull ache behind as she found herself kneeling before the altar, not knowing how she had ended up on the dusty floor.

    Panting and barely able to move, Sharon nevertheless turned around, sitting on the cold, hard floor of the cottage and as she looked up, she saw the familiar, most welcome sight of Noah. Two metres of comfort, of friendship, even though he looked positively feral with his broad shoulders, his long hair in tangles and his right palm bleeding from a cut he had apparently inflicted on himself with the knife in his left hand.

    “Noah…”, she whispered, tears of relief now running down her cheeks, “Noah, I’m so gla…”

    “Shut up.”, he said, his voice almost as cold as the one she had heard in her head before and Sharon winced as if slapped.

    “Noah…”, she began, but he cut her off, “I told you that if you did this, you would be dead to me. But you did it anyway.”

    “I had to!”, Sharon argued, hands balled to fists, “My mother…”

    “Is dying.”, Noah harshly said, “Everyone dies eventually. Get over it.”

    “How can you…?”, Sharon said, jumping to her feet, but finding it hard to stay upright as nausea hit her and the ache in her wrists pulsated.

    “How can I say that?”, Noah guessed her question and shook his head, “How could you do this? Are you even remotely aware of what you could have done?”

    “I could have saved my mother!”, Sharon cried and Noah merely shook his head before he calmly, flatly said, “Some things are worse than death.”

    Sharon glared daggers at him and then hurled herself at her oldest friend, hitting his chest with her fists as she hissed: “You’ve seen her in that hospital bed, barely a shadow of herself. I could have saved her from that.”

    “No.”, Noah said and gently stopped her fists, “No. You could have only delayed the inevitable. And doomed both your soul and mine in the process.”

    “I wouldn’t ha…Ow!”, Sharon hissed as Noah touched her wrist and then roughly pulled at her arm so she saw her own wrist in the pale moonlight. There was a terrible scar on it, bulging and red, despicable and ugly.

    “The demon is bound to my family. This is the demon’s way of marking his servants. This is the pact you have willingly entered.”, Noah told her, once again pressing his thumb against the scar and making her groan in pain, “Pray that I have come here just in time to save you. You’ll know when you die and do not serve a demon.”

    With that he dropped her wrist as if he had scorched himself on her skin, then he turned and walked away.

    “Noah.”, Sharon said and he stopped, but merely turned his head a bit, yet he did not face her as he spoke, “This is the last time you have seen me. You will never talk to me again, never call me again, never see me again. You are dead to me.”

    “Noah…”, she murmured in disbelief, shaking her head. But he walked away.

    “Noah!”, Sharon called after him, but she only saw his tall silhouette merge into the darkness of the night.

Bound by Blood (Challenge)
This was August's challenge, written from the following prompts:

Location: A cottage
If you do this, you will be dead to me.

I do not know where the idea came from, it just popped into my head. Hope you like it.

    “That…can’t be it.”, Ross mumbled as he rounded a corner and – presumably – arrived at the address he had been searching for. But he did not believe his eyes.

    “You’ve got to be kiddin’…”, he muttered and checked the address on the slip of paper once again, even though he already knew it by heart now. He was at the correct address, but still could not believe it. He did not want to believe it.

    “Bob, what the hell?”, he said shaking his head, but then approached the building anyway, even though it was more the husk of a building, broken pillars jutting into the air like the ribs of a long dead animal, the smashed windows like black holes leading into vast nothingness. Chuckling about his sense of drama, but mostly to calm his nerves which were going haywire, Ross entered the building, glancing fearfully at the crumbling roof over his head, hoping it would not come down.

    He crumpled the piece of paper in his hand and cursed his friend Bob under his breath. He would never have come here if it had not been Bob’s handwriting on the paper, together with the ominous order “Come alone”. Old Bobby had always been a bit loopy, but this was a new level of crazy even for him. Still, Bob was a good friend, or at least had been until his wife had died, so Ross had decided to follow his call.

    Seeing the abysmally bad state the building was in, though, he regretted his sympathy.

    He was sure that he had heard the soft pitter-patter of small feet, maybe rats, and he shuddered, but then he called out nonetheless: “Bob?”

    His quiet call echoed in the empty building, was thrown back at him distorted and sounding nothing like his own voice. With a wry grin, Ross imagined a zombie stumbling out of the hallway he could barely see at the other end of the room, but the cold goose bumps on his spine made his grin freeze. That crazy fantasy of zombies just did not feel so crazy in a building such as this one…

    With a harsh breath, he decided to wait one more minute, to the second, then he would be gone.

    The minute passed and still he heard nothing but some rodents’ feet and bleeping and he was absolutely positive that he could feel the cockroaches in the dark.

    Shuddering, Ross turned around and angrily muttered: “I’m outta here.”

    But he did not get the chance.

    From the darkness behind him, hands grasped him and he would have screamed, but he could not as a hand was pressed firmly against his mouth, closing off his supply of fresh air with its pressure on his mouth and nose. But also with its stench. Ross gagged as he smelled the stench of grime, sweat and urine and he fought against the person behind him, but to no avail. He was dragged deeper into the dark, his head swimming as he still could hardly breath and the only coherent thought he was capable of was “So this is how I’m going to die.”

    Feeling the last bit of strength fading, Ross closed his eyes, but suddenly he was free again and he gulped in desperate breaths of air, even ignoring the stench that still lingered. But only for a second, then he whirled around, his hands raised to defend himself.

    The man in front of him was covered in filth, dressed in rags and…

    “Bob?”, Ross breathed in utter disbelief and stared at the creature in front of him. It was Bob, but… it so was not.

    “Shush!”, the man hissed and Ross could not recognise his friend any longer. He knew it was Bob, but somehow it was not him anymore. His grimy hand closed around Ross’ wrist and he positively felt the dirt stick to his skin, felt it even on the scars there that usually had no feeling at all. Just thinking about the filth clinging to him, he also smelled it again, tasted it on his own lips, gagging again.

    He was so preoccupied with trying to not throw up that it took him a long time to actually react.

    “Where are you taking me?”, he demanded to know, wrenching free from Bob’s grasp, with the sickening feeling of Bob’s fingers sticking to his skin with filth.

    “Shush!”, was all Bob said, then he dragged Ross deeper into the bowels of the building, but he fought his friend off, “Tell me what’s wrong with you!”

    “Not here.”, Bob mumbled, barely audible and his voice distorted by the echo from the walls, “I think the room is bugged.”

    “Bugged?”, Ross muttered, shaking his head, “There sure are bugs here, Bob, but it ain’t the electronic kind.”

    A glare full of distaste so hateful hit Ross that he gasped for breath and instantly shut the hell up.

    Against better knowledge and despite the sickening, icy feeling in his gut, Ross then followed his friend deeper into the building, was dragged through collapsed corridors, around and around. He was absolutely sure that he would never find the way out on his own.

    Stumbling into the pitch dark, Ross barely caught himself when Bob suddenly stopped, right in the middle of the room. At least he thought it was the middle of the room, but he did not see a Goddamn thing.

    “Bob?”, he whispered, not daring to speak any louder and, as half expected, Bob’s angry answer was, “Shush!”

    Then Bob let go of him and in the darkness that engulfed him, Ross almost wished the grimy hand back on his own, because he only heard Bob shuffle through the room, going here and there, as if he was… searching the room.

    This was crazy. Totally crazy.

    “Bob?”, he tried again, but when his friend once again replied in the same fashion, Ross lost it, “Tell me what’s going on this instant.”

    “Shush!”, was his only answer, then again the shuffling of Bob’s feet and as soon as he had gone full circle Bob returned to him. He merely realised it because of the overwhelming stench. But then he had to close his eyes against blinding brightness and it took him a moment to understand that Bob had lit a candle. A blasted candle and it seemed bright as day to Ross.

    “Where the hell are we?”, he muttered as he saw his surroundings. Everything was broken, collapsed, rubble and filth lay everywhere. Only a dirty blanket told him that this might be Bob’s lair, for lack of a better word.

    “Safe.”, Bob said and Ross needed a moment to process this, then he asked in confusion, “From what?”

    “Them.”, Bob said and Ross could not help but groan, “Bobby, if you dragged me here…”

    “I’m not crazy.”, Bob said and despite his appearance, Ross was inclined to believe him. The sincerity, the urgency in those words…

    “Then tell me what’s going on.”, he asked, willing to give his friend another chance. One last chance.

    “They are here.”, Bob said and Ross frowned, half believing this to be some sick joke. But Bob was not the kind of guy for such jokes and this was not the place for them either. Yet he could not believe it, but he decided to play along, even if just to get some coherent answers out of him.

    “Who is?”, he then asked and Bob shrugged, “They didn’t exactly introduce themselves, ya know? Didn’t have no business cards either.”

    “Bob.”, Ross said sternly, “What’s going on? Tell me or I swear I’m outta here.”

    “They’re watching me.”, Bob explained – kind of, “They know I’ve found them and they want me to stay quiet. Wanna silence me.”

    “Bob, they – whoever they are – are not after you.”, Ross intentionally slowly told him, stressing every word, but Bob replied harshly, “Just because you don’t believe in them doesn’t mean they’re not after you.”

    Ross laughed, but it died quickly on his lips as he saw Bob’s face. He was truly convinced of his mad ramblings. But he played along: “So they are already after me, too?”

    “Yes.”, Bob nodded, “I found them with my telescope, so I’m a threat, because I know. And you… you can stop them.”

    “Me?”, Ross asked and again Bob nodded, now with more enthusiasm as he explained, “You develop vaccines. You can stop their way to world domination through inoculation.”

    Ross knew all those words, but they did not make any sense anyway.

    “Alright.”, he said slowly, “But what is their plan?”

    “It’s…”, Bob began, but then quickly fell silent and cocked his head as if he was listening for something.

    “Bob?”, Ross asked and was – surprise – shushed again. This was crazy, his friend needed help, the kind a shrink provided. But for that, he had to get him out of here.

    Not sure how to accomplish that, Ross tried anyway: “Bob, we won’t be able to stop them while we’re in here, so…”

    “Shush.”, Bob asked of him, “I heard something. There’s an agent of theirs here.”

    Ross tried his best not to roll his eyes or let him otherwise know that he was now fully convinced Bob had snapped. Mind snapped like a twig under a boot, crack. Simple as that. Maybe Betsy’s death had been harder on him than Ross had thought…

    “There! Die!”, Bob suddenly roared, scaring Ross almost into stupor as he dashed aside, far more quickly than he had thought him capable, and then fiercely stomped something into the ground. When he was done and stepped back to admire his footwork, Ross gagged at the sight of a mouse squished into nothing more than a blood stain and some dirty scraps of fur.

    But he shoved the image aside and instead asked Bob: “If there are agents here, we’re not safe any longer. Let’s go.”

    “Yeah, good thinking.”, Bob nodded and Ross was glad, having succeeded in getting his friend at least the first step into the right direction.

    On their way out of the room, a candle in Bob’s dirty hand, they saw another mouse scurry right across their path and Bob dashed after it, stomping it into a pulp like the first one.

    “Bob, come on.”, Ross could merely mumble, but as they reached the doorway out of this lair, two more mice ran towards them. With a roar that made Ross think of a battle cry, Bob charged against the two mice, dropping the candle in the process, engulfing them in darkness.

    Ross heard him stomp around, then scream, his blood curdling as he heard that. It was not a scream of a rambling madman, no… it was a scream of pain and sheer terror. It echoed off the walls, came from seemingly everywhere around him, deafening in its volume and intensity.

    Until it suddenly just… stopped.

    “Bob?”, Ross asked, his voice barely above a terrified whisper. Then he heard the pitter-patter of small feet, probably rats. The next thing he heard was his own scream of terror.



    “And this, doctor, is our latest guest.”, Doctor Madden said as he rounded a corner followed by his new colleague to show her the patients and briefly discuss their cases, “Came in three weeks ago, our John Doe.”

    “We don’t have ID?”, she asked and he shook his head, glancing at the man in the padded cell.

    “No, we don’t.”, he then merely said, “No one’s claimed him and I doubt anyone ever will. He’s a handful.”

    “How so?”, she enquired and Doctor Madden shrugged, but then explained, “Screaming his head off in the middle of the night and not even benzos get him to shut the hell up. During daytime he’s just sitting in the corner, drooling. We don’t know what happened, but his mind is broken if you ask me.”

    She looked at the man, watching him, and Doctor Madden spoke up before she noticed: “He’s a bad case, but breakdowns really aren’t unheard of in people with suicidal tendencies.”

    Then he turned away after one last glance at the man’s wrist and the scars on it.

Rats (Challenge)
This was July's challenge, written from the following prompts:

Location: A partially collapsed building
“I think the room is bugged.”

I don't know where this came from. And I scared myself while writing it. :XD:

Mature Content

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    “Ain’t she a beauty?”, the old sea captain next to her sighed with a fond smile on his lips and Mariana could not help it, she had to glance at him. He truly was old; his face weathered and brown like old leather, his hands covered with tanned, wrinkled skin, calloused from years of hard work out on sea, steering his ship safely through hardships unnumbered.

    But even though she clearly saw that the joints in his hands were all swollen, there was still a juvenile shine in his eyes. They made him seem young, almost boyish in his happiness. If only she had ever felt anything similar.

    The thought made her cautious smile falter and die on her lips and Mariana unconsciously touched the brooch on her coat, caressing the ruby embedded in it.

    The captain’s admiring voice pulled her from her thoughts: “Just look at the town, glistening there in the dusk. She’s a real gem.”

    Mariana tucked a strand of hair behind her ear to look out onto the town’s coast. It was true, it was a beautiful sight, the harbour there in the fading light as they approached it from the stormy sea. It was heart-wrenching, but it truly was beautiful.

    “It’s good to come home.”, the captain said with a content sigh and Mariana kept her eyes on the town as she replied, “I would not know, I have not been home in a long time. You?”

    “I’ve never left, Miss.”, the old captain laughed heartily, “Born and raised in this little town right there.”

    Mariana smirked crookedly. She, too, was from this very town she was now looking at for the first time in many years, but he did not need to know that. It would not change anything. So instead she said: “It must be beautiful to be home, to feel like a child again, without sorrows or concerns, without sadness.”

    Once again she glanced at the captain, but then set her eyes on the town, her home town, and she whispered sadly: “I’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel young.”

    “But Miss…”, the captain’s rough voice startled her, as she had not thought he would hear her whisper, “You’re still young.”

    Mariana just smirked at that.

    “There’s still plenty o’ time for you to go back home if you want to.”, the old captain reassured her and Mariana took a deep breath, then she nodded, “You’re right, there is still time. One day.”

    He smiled proudly at her, but Mariana looked away, thinking that this day was a lot closer than she had ever thought it could be. It was almost upon her, almost. But it had to wait a while longer, Mariana thought, as she saw the fog gathering around the ship, slowly blocking their view of the little coast town they were approaching.

    “What in Pete’s name…”, the old seafarer mumbled in astonishment, but Mariana merely smiled. She had learned to love fog over the years.

    But the crew of the ship was getting in a flap as the fog enclosed them and effectively blinded them.

    “Let go anchor!”, the captain yelled an order, followed by a string of curses interspersed with other orders Mariana did not fully understand, but neither did she care. All she really picked up was that they were staying right where they were, off the coast of the little town.

    “Dang it.”, the captain cursed once again, mumbling into his white beard, “We can’t see a thing in this blasted fog…”

    Mariana looked at him and with an apologetic shrug he said: “We gotta stay here for now. I’m terribly sorry, Miss.”

    “You should have said that a long time ago.”, Mariana whispered and she saw confusion cloud the man’s eyes, like a whitish veil that was pulled over them.

    “You do not remember, do you?”, she then spoke, a disbelieving grin on her face, but her voice sharp as a razor’s edge, “Did you really forget the girl you and your friends cornered that one summer day under the docks? The girl you raped?”

    Mariana watched as he paled, blanched with sudden realisation, recognition, so she nodded softly: “Yes, it’s me. Back then I did not know how to fight you, let alone all five of you. Now I know.”

    “T-that was 60 years ago…”, the captain stammered and Mariana shook her head as she walked to him, taking the brooch off her coat, “Maybe for you it was. For you it was 60 years, three months and five days ago. But not for me, for me it was just yesterday.”

    She smiled as the old man who had once been her classmate shivered and backed away from her, shivering and cowering in fear as she had done 60 years ago.

    But no one saved her back then and no one would save him now.

    With a quick and trained motion of her hand Mariana jabbed the needle of her brooch deeply into his neck, jammed it into his aorta. It still amazed her that there was no blood; the brooch drank it all. But it was glorious to see the fear in his eyes and then, slowly, see it fade as the life left the wretched creature.

    The more the brooch drank, the stronger Mariana felt and she actually felt wrinkles vanish, felt her weakened, old joints mend themselves, her body rejuvenating itself with the brooch’s magic.

    As the rejuvenating flow ended, Mariana gasped and she knew that the brooch had sucked the old man dry, had drank the last drop of blood.

    With a satisfied smile, Mariana looked down at the now mummified body of the old seaman. Now his skin looked even more like leather.

    She pulled the brooch’s needle out of the flesh, now more parchment than skin, and dragged the body to the railing, hoisting it up and unceremoniously dumping the dead weight into the sea.

    “Captain?”, she heard one of his men shout out to him so Mariana turned around to face the so far disembodied voice, slowly seeing a young man emerge from the thick fog. She had not realised that her faithful companion had had the ship so tightly in its clasps.

    “Ma’am, you alright?”, the young man asked and she nodded with a grateful smile before he asked, “Have you seen the captain?”

    “No.”, she shook her head, “But… I heard a splash just a moment ago.”

    “So did we.”, the young sailor sighed and then turned around to shout over his shoulder, “Man over board!”

    Mariana bit her tongue in order not to smile. They would never find him and even if they did, they would not recognise him.

    “Ma’am, let’s get you below deck.”, the sailor offered his hand to steady her, “It ain’t safe here in this fog. I don’t trust it.”

    “Alright, thank you.”, she said, but smiled to herself. The young man had good instincts, but he had nothing to fear from her. So Mariana calmly followed him back to her cabin as he escorted her below deck.

    “He is still in town.”, Mariana heard the quiet voice from the ruby, heard it resonate in her head, “So close.”

    “I know.”, she whispered, urging for patience. She had waited more than 60 years; she could wait one more night. One more night and then she could finally die in peace after getting revenge for the child she had been, sixty years ago, and for the child she had given birth to back then, the boy with five fathers and only twelve minutes to live before he became the one to find his fathers for her. One by one.

Homecoming (challenge)
This was June's challenge, written from the following prompts:

Location: A village next to a harbour
Sentence: “
I’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel young.”

I am not sure where this story came from, but I hope you like it nonetheless.
47 deviations
Und schon wieder von SmirkCat.
Mädchen, das gewinnt Überhand. :XD:

Diesmal sollen es 8 Fakten über meinen Charakter Alexander Rowley sein, zu finden in San Francisco Dusk Part 1

1) Sein zweiter Vorname ist Theodoric.
2) Er kann diesen Namen nicht ausstehen.
3) Am liebsten hört er Jazz.
4) Ohne Kaffee geht bei ihm gar nichts.
5) Er hat keine Ahnung, wer sein Vater ist.
6) (Die Agentur übrigens auch nicht. Und seine Mutter schweigt zu dem Thema beharrlich.)
7) Er hat zwei Tätowierungen, eine um die Geburt seiner Töchter zu feiern, eine um immer an seine Scheidung erinnert zu werden.
8) Aber er glaubt trotzdem noch an die große Liebe, er gibt es nur nicht zu.


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TrielleAmnessis Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Danke fürs faven ^^
Thyme-Sprite Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2015
Immer gern. :D Dein "Cuddling" hat mir immens das Aufstehen versüßt.
TrielleAmnessis Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Hehe :3
Es war mir eine Freude ^^
SmirkCat Featured By Owner Edited Aug 6, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hmmm... also, wenn ich so deine Stories durchstalke ist ja nix mehr mit Game-Prosa :D
Nur Narvel im Moment? ;)
Thyme-Sprite Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2015
Im Moment ja, weil ich leider nicht zum Zocken komme. Also fehlt der Game-Input. :shrug:

Aber ich plane wieder was eigenes. ;)
SmirkCat Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh noooooin D= immer noch keine Zeit zum Zocken? xD
Zockst du denn unser erstes Spiel? ;P

Coool :dummy:
Thyme-Sprite Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2015
Noch hab ich den Titel ja nicht...aber hoffentlich bald.
Welches jetzt? Sorry, die Hitze hier verbüht mir langsam das Hirn...
(1 Reply)
Alexbk1325 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you so much for the fav!! :)
Fictasy Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2015   General Artist
FantasysMistress Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2015
Thank you for faving Valentines Cards! FREE flying hearts Icon 
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