Hero’s Ruin

Flames were licking up the sides of the walls as she knelt on the floor, coughing up blood. Her hand was pressed to her side, the wound pumping blood out against her palm, her robes slick with it as she tried to stay conscious.

“You are finished.”

The voice rang out from the other side of the room, where her foe was slumped, panting hard as he tried to climb to his feet. He used his sword to push himself up, hauling himself upright once more. His face was covered in grime and sweat, blood matted his hair, and his lip was swollen and split.

“Admit defeat.”

Never.”

Shadows swirled around her as she tried to summon her magic, but the smoke was stinging her eyes and making it even harder to breathe. She choked on the words of her spell, and it sputtered out, pain shooting through her again as she doubled forward with a shriek.

“Enough, you have no power left.”

“I have more than enough to defeat you, hero.”

She held her bloody palm out to him, tears streaming down her face, the incantation spilling past her lips before he could dodge out of the way, shadowy hands bursting into life, dragging him back to the floor. They tore the sword from his grasp, pinning him to the ground.

“I have fought my whole life to be here, to dethrone you. I will not let you leave here without some punishment.”

“You cannot kill me, hero. I am more than a person, now, I am legend. Even if you kill me, they will remember me, the black terror, the horror that stalks them in their dreams at night. You cannot kill a nightmare, boy.”

“I will kill you.”

“You will die trying.”

He growled and strained against the hands holding him, but the magic was too strong. She raised her hand, catching a flame, and pressing it to her side, crying out as the wound was sealed shut. She caught her breath with a chuckle, staring down at the soot-smeared armor of the man before her.

“You have failed, hero. Whether you live today or die, there will be no way to rid the world of me. I am beyond your grasp.”

“I will see you dead before my life leaves me.”

She knelt before him, caressing his cheek with her bloody hand, leaving a scarlet trail in its wake. His eyes burned with hated as she smiled, directing the hands holding him to haul him up to meet her eye. He struggled again, lashing out with his teeth, but she was beyond his grasp.

“Wild animal.”

“You would know, monster.”

She laughed, smearing his other cheek with blood as well, before tracing ruins over his forehead, the spell seeping into his skin with a soft flicker of purple light.

“Who is the monster, now?”

“What have you done?”

She stood carefully, drawing herself up gracefully, her chin raised defiantly as she looked down at him. He growled and fought the bonds on his hands once more, desperate for freedom. She ran a hand through his hair, smiling, before she struck him across the face.

“What have you done to me?”

“You will survive this, hero. And you will always remember that it was by my hand that you did. I have spared your life, while you would have stolen mine away.”

She stalked toward the door, stooping to recover her staff, canting her head to the side.

“Would you rather live the lie that you are the hero, or die in the knowledge that the world will remember you as such?”

“I would die before I would become your toy.”

“Then you will live. You will remember.”

“Kill me.”

“No.”

Why?”

“Because heroes slay villains, it is the way of the world. But we do not kill heroes, oh no. We are crueler than that.”

She retrieved her mask from the wall, pulling the porcelain-faced guise back into place, the wicked beak of the raven swinging round to look at him, the obsidian eyes boring into his.

“We destroy you.”

He screamed, but it was lost to the flames as she vanished in a whisper of silks, her black wings bearing her far away from the fallen hero. Her spell broke, releasing him, and he stood, snatching up his sword as he looked about the burning ruin that held him.

He would stay, and be consumed by the flames, be remembered as a hero who had tried to slay the evil, or he could escape and live on, a disappointment to those who had tried to raise him up.

He thought of the woman who had left him here and felt tears sting his eyes. She had been right, death would have been kinder, but he still had a choice. He reached for the fire, but found he could not feel its heat. Tears fell as he floundered forward, stepping into the dancing flames fully, the heat no more than a warm ripple through his body.

He screamed, crumpling to his knees, and cursed to the skies for the gift he had been given.

Miles away, black wings filled the dreams of a little girl as the woman landed outside a small hut, removing her mask before she stepped inside, her daughter sleeping peacefully in her bed.

“There, now, darling. No more heroes to keep you up at night. Mother’s made them all go away.”

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Ghost Of You

I keep seeing ghost of you,
Everywhere I turn–
Part of me hates it,
Part wishes I would learn.

They’re just faces in the crowd
That pass themselves as you–
They fade again, quick as that,
As soon as they pass from view.

I keep seeing ghosts of you,
I wish that I would learn–
You’re gone for good, beloved,
No matter where I turn.

“Permission Denied.”

“I’d like to leave now, please.”

“Permission denied.”

“But I have all my papers! I put everything in order! Here, look!”

“…Permission denied.”

“Are my papers not good enough? Did I file something wrong?”

“You don’t have a hall pass.”

“…”

“…”

“…Are you serious?”

“As an overdose. Permission denied.”

“What if I get a hall pass?”

“Then you can leave.”

“Fine. Where do I get one?”

“Down the hall.”

“May I go get one, then?”

“You can try. But that’s back the way you came. You’ll have to start all over. Refile all your paperwork, retake all your pills, wait in line for what seems like forever.”

“But if I get this hall pass, you’ll let me leave?”

“We’ll review your paperwork. We’ll still make you wait in line, but you’ll have priority.”

“Then I’ll go get a hall pass.”


“I’d like to leave now, please.”

“Permission denied.”

“But I have all my papers! I put everything in order! I have a hall pass!

“This isn’t the right hall pass. This is a knife-shaped pass. Your papers say you need a pill-shaped pass.”

“I thought I just needed a pass! You didn’t tell me they came in different kinds!”

“You didn’t ask. This pass is invalid. You’ll have to get the proper one.”

“But this is already my second attempt.”

“You should have thought of that before you got the wrong pass.”

“Will you make me file all my paperwork again? Wait in line again?”

“We always do.”

“I’ll go get the right pass.”

“Be sure it matches your paperwork.”


“I’d like to leave now, please.”

“Permission denied.”

“But I have all my papers! I put everything in order! I got my pass and its the right one!

“Someone’s denied your pass.”

Who?!”

“A family member. They don’t want you to leave. They have filed ‘counter papers’.”

“How can they do that?”

“It’s your third attempt you really shouldn’t be surprised. After your first, they made some inquires, put some safeguards in place.”

“Are my wishes less important than theirs?”

“They are equally important. But until there is a hearing, we cannot let you leave. You should discuss your wishes with them.”

“Please, I just want to leave. Please.”

“Permission denied. Please return to the back of the line.”


“I’d like to leave now, please.”

“Permission granted. You have all your papers. You put everything in order.”

“What, no hall pass?”

“You don’t need one. Your papers indicate there was no external assistance. Hall passes are only required for objects of external assistance.”

“No family members filing counter papers?”

“A few. But in this instance, their claims are not valid. You waited patiently in line. You didn’t try to cut to the front.”

“So, I can leave?”

“You may. Please enjoy your trip.”

“I will.”

“Next.”

“I’d like to leave now, please.”

“Permission denied.”

“But I have all my papers! I put everything in order! Here, look!”

“You need a hall pass.”

“I need a what?!

Scarlet Stars

Starlight glimmered in the vast ocean of midnight space, the small ship bobbing along in orbit, engines rumbling warmly as the shutters shielded the pilot from prying eyes. Lights blinked in lazy rhythms, a heartbeat to show the passing cargo cruisers that it and the pilot were still alive. Several inquisitive passersby had already attempted to make contact with the ship, but had been met with silence.

On the inside of the shutters, condensation ran in little rivers of warm water, dripping down onto the floor of the ship. Curled at the center of the command deck, draped over the Captain’s chair, lay a long, slumbering figure.

Ebony hair pooled over her arms and rippled along the curve of her back, her breathing deep and even. The bright red of her skin contrasted with the black of her surroundings. A long, barbed tail flickered back and forth, her fingers twitching as she dreamed.

Another hail reached her ship, and her eyes fluttered open. Slitted pupils scanned over the console until they landed on the single flashing light. She uncurled from her position shifting sinuously out of the chair and over to the console, stretching out to depress the COMM button.

“This had better be important.”

Fall Into the Sea

Once, my love, when you fell into the sea–
And that horrid tide took you away from me

I searched the waves for any sign,
But soon knew you’d drowned in the brine.

I spent my life by the shore,
Wishing for our times before–

But lost, my love, below the waves–
You joined brave sailors in their watery graves.

That horrid tide took you from me–
Once, my love, when you fell into the sea.

Yellow Brick Road

Scarecrow, yes, he got his brain
So he’ll never want for knowledge again–
He knows Aristotle and Arithmetic,
His brain just keeps going– Just won’t quit!
And although dear Scarecrow’s learned a lot,
There is one thing, now, that he’s forgot–
For as his brain gets more smart,
Scarecrow forgets he has a heart.

And Tinman’s finally full of feelings,
He can laugh and cry like real human beings.
He feels things now he never felt before–
The thrill of love, the want for more–
But dear Tinman, lost in emotion,
Got all caught up in true love’s devotion
Not so bad a thing, that’s true–
But Tinman will outlive the one who said “I do”.

Guts he found, that weren’t there before–
Then a hunger for battle, a thirst for war.
Your people, your people, they no longer sing,
Not of their cowardly Lion, nor courageous king.
Instead they weep for what they had–
A cowardly Lion, melancholy & sad.
A gentle ruler, timid and mild–
Not this monster, ruthless & wild.

And Dorthy hides, now, all alone,
Clicks her heels, and thinks of home.
Ruby slippers, long since shattered,
Taking with them the things that mattered.
No more witches, good ones or bad
All just memories, some happy some sad.
She dreams of all that she had before–
She dreams of not being in Kansas anymore.