It Was More Fun In Hell
The following is based on events from 1991-1998.
He was bearded, dark haired, only a slightly built man, puffing on a cigarette.
“ Things have been going on there since the seventies, “ he said to me. “ Probably longer. I know the place is evil, because that evil happened to me. It was all in the newspaper. National news. They changed my name to protect my privacy. Happened to more than just me. It's still in me, but not all of it. It had a fondness of attacking women a lot of the time. “
He put his cigarette out, scratched his beard. I could tell from the look on my uncle Paul's face that he was immersed in the memory of that night.
The Traditional Sacrifice
I never knew my mother. She left when I was very young. My family told me stories about her, they told me she loved me, but they would not tell my why she left. That truth came when I became an adult. It came after I was married, after I had a child of my own. My life was supposed to be normal until then, as normal as it could be under the circumstances. My people needed me to be normal. They needed me to have children. They needed me to love and to feel loved. It was a necessary part of the tradition.
The garden was overrun with wild grass and tenacious weeds had pushed up through the crazy paving. Apt description, I thought as my view followed the path on its meandering journey from the back door to near the bottom of the garden. It then branched into two then set off again to surround the small flourishing orange grove.
‘‘Hola! Beunos dias.’’ The old woman was peering over the stone dyke wall and into my garden.
‘‘Hola…..eh,…morning, Senora,’’ I replied but she was already making her way to the wicket gate, her grey shawl bobbing along the top of the wall like a ship’s sail on a distant horizon.
They were all fed up with the war, the lives it had already claimed, the unburied dead, and the smell of them.
Oh, God the smell.
Life in the trenches of all sides was unbearable: cold, muddy, rife with vermin and parasites, sickness, and some men had gone insane. Often there were suicides.
Riley had been entrenched for a month and hadn't gone topside yet. He was twenty, still inexperienced to the horrors of war, and was dreading the day he was called to go over the top, into No Man's Land.
He had seen fear in others, before they climbed the ladders from the trenches, how they shook in their boots, soiled themselves, vomited bile from their empty stomachs, with tears rolling down their cheeks.
Sheriff Bill Wilkins popped an antacid and ground it between his teeth as the reporter fumbled with his tape recorder.
It was late on the evening of December 15, and outside, fat flakes of snow fell lazily from the black sky, adding to the six inches from the previous night. When Bill last peeked out, Main Street stood empty, the traffic lights at the corner of Main and Oak swaying in the wind. If the weatherman was right, there would be a foot on the ground come morning.
Bill’s stomach gurgled.
The Ring of Alberich
The five-member team stood gazing out across Iceland’s vast Vatnajökull glacier. One got the impression of a frozen desert, with the sunshine reflecting off the glacier’s uneven surface, and the wind swirled top layer of loose granular ice and snow.
Clive Thurston, treasure-hunter and the team leader, studied the cloudless sky, his thoughts on discovering the lost treasures of Niebelungen, supposedly stolen by Loki and kept in his temple. Off to his right, he could see Hugo Strom, a big strapping man, speaking with their elderly guide in the native language. Thurston chuckled to himself at the thought of calling their guide elderly. True, Ulf Bjornstad was in his seventies, but he still had as much vitality as a man half his age. Unlike the rest of the team who wore heavy parkas and thick gloves, their guide wore little more than a gray-white fur vest over a thick woolen shirt.
That Evil Witch
Them Haddock boys was mighty close, two peas in a pod, Amos and Andy, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, stuck together like barnacles to the bow and sap to a tree, but I always suspected there might be something missing in the glue. The trouble started brewing on a Friday and boiled over like Everest by the time Reverend “Moses” Maynard hollered out his first Amen at Sunday sermon. And on that day, it weren’t more than three hours after sunup before one of them brothers was dead and the other hauled off to the hangman’s hotel.
Conrad was the first to go, split in two mid-sentence, the halves of his body peeling neatly apart. The weapon must have thrown itself through him at incredible speed, stretched out like razor wire: quick, but far from clean.
It should have been obvious then that it was only warming up, toying with us even. The machine could have killed us all that instant but instead it chose to give this little demonstration - it wanted us to run, to try and evade it, to fight for our lives. More than anything, it wanted to hunt. This was good, theoretically, it meant that it was doing its job and now all we had to do was ours: stay down, stay ahead of it, and try to stay alive.