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Excerpt for Shades of Memory An Anthology of Short Stories, Poems and More by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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Shades of Memory: An Anthology

Robyn Alexander


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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


I would like to thank all those that have ever believed in me, handed me their encouragement and seen something special in my writings. Thanks for the endless hours of proof-reading and advice. A special thank you to the Forfar Writers Group for your support and your ears, even if some of my tales are a little darker than you would like. Thank you all and I really hope I haven’t given you nightmares in our time together.

I also have to thank everyone that has bought a copy of this anthology, thank you for making my dreams a reality. I hope that you enjoy these tales as I have enjoyed writing them. Thank you.


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COPYRIGHT



Copyright© 2018 by Robyn Alexander. All rights reserved. Published by Robyn Alexander at Smashwords, the stories in this book are the property of the author, in all media both physical and digital. No-one, except the owner of this property, may reproduce, copy or publish in any medium, any individual story or part of this anthology without the expressed permission of the author of these works.

These titles are works of fiction, any resemblance to real persons or places are interiorly coincidental.


ISBN: 978 046 339 163 1


First Addition September 2018


10987654321


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SHORT STORIES


Battle Scarred

Coffee

Colourful Wrappings

Dark Waters

Easter Delight

Fairy Lights

Fear to Change

Flurries

Midnight Angst

Mirror

Miss Adventure

Moonlit Murder

Phoenix Song

Pompeii

Shifting Morality

Shining Hope

Slideshow of Death

Sociopathic Tendencies

Tempest

The Dance of Daimon

The Easter Bunny

The Job Interview

Waiting at the Bus Stop

Which Witch

Winter Chill

Valentine Surprise

Demonic Whispers

Heart and Soul

Broken

The Shed

Out of the Frying Pan

Into the Fire


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BATTLE SCARRED


THE FIELD WAS WET WITH the blood of the fallen, the smell of iron thick in the air as I wonder through the battle ground. Fallen warriors lay dead or dying at my feet, I have not killed them, I merely watched them fight and die. The cause was not mine, but the pain is mine to take.

I pad slowly through the fallen looking for one, a special soul, one that is on the verge of death. I find her lying in a growing pool of bright crimson blood, I sniff at her, prodding her with my sensitive nose, as I take in her scent, filling my lungs with the sweet smell of sweet lilacs. She is mine. I stand over her, towering over her broken form, I know that she is afraid of me; I do not care as I roll her over onto her back with one grey paw. I touch her mouth with mine and suck. She shudders with convulsions as her soul passes into me. This is my sustenance, my well-deserved meal.

I am an Aralez; I am the nightmare of the battle ground, the grey dog that preys on the fallen warriors. I am the size of a wolf hound, similar enough to confuse us. I feed on the souls of the fallen, and in return for their sacrifice to me; I give them the gift of revenge. If it were not for me choosing her, she would have died this day.

I watch as she struggles to her feet, her wound gapping in the dim light. She is mine, I hold her in sway. She regards me for a moment before screaming a battle cry and running off toward the fighting that still rages further across the field. I watch as she slays the one that killed her, cuts the throat of a big muscular man in armour. Thanks to her my family will feed today, I stretch as I watch the battle rage on. Pant with the pride I have for my fallen, she will serve me well in the coming days; I can only hold her for three days before she will expire. But the amount of death that a true warrior can wield in those three days is more than enough to satisfy my pack. I yawn and stretch, walking back into the surrounding hills to gather the tribe for our feeding.


COFFEE: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE


THE WARM SCENT RUSHES FORWARDS to embrace you, the smell alone enough to make you salivate. Rich and earthy, the beans call to you, whispering promises in your ear like soft kisses. Seductive and full bodied, the flavours tease your tongue as they float on the air around you.

The coarse powder gritty to the touch, dark brown like soil, pours into the machine with a sigh. Locked up to await its destiny, the water, clear and soft flows freely, anxious to meet its fate, to become more than it is. Glinting in a rainbow of colours, it gurgles happily settling into the belly of the appliance.

As the water heats it drips slowly over the grounds, releasing more of the delicious odour as they infuse and flow into the waiting pot below. The dark umber liquid winks in the light, thick almost black, reflecting the glow of the celling light. The surface ripples with each steady drip as it grows in the container. The dark liquid pours easily into the waiting mug, tinkling softly as it hits the bottom, playfully encouraging you to take a sip. You add milk, turning the deep umber into a solid beige. The curl of steam rising from the surface, a small whirlpool nestled in the middle of the mug as you stir, adding two sugars to combat the bitter taste.

You raise the mug to your nose, breathing deeply, the earthy, damp scent tingling your pallet as you take your first sip. The heat radiating as the rich flavours envelope your senses, nutty and fruity, yet somehow better than both, the liquid coats your tongue, egging you on until the mug sits empty, still steaming in your hand. The heat rushes throughout your whole body encasing you in a warm cocoon. Your mind unfuzzes as your heart beat strengthens. What better way to start the day?


COLOURFUL WRAPPINGS


I LIE THERE FEELING SICK, my stomach rolls as my mouth waters. I swallow compulsively to dry my tongue, but the salivary glands keep producing the noxious fluid. My eyes are closed as my heart races. I must move, I must go to the bathroom, but I cannot stir myself. My body reacts to the poison, shaking and sweating. My nose starts to run, I groan deep in the back of my throat.

I turn over on to my back, in an effort to relive the severe pain that I am feeling. That immediately makes matters worse as I gag on the liquid in my mouth. I lurch over onto my side as I struggle to keep my stomach contents from spilling out onto the floor. The room seems to spin as I open my eyes, blue walls clashing with the red duvet on which I am lying.

I close my eyes as quickly as I opened them, trying to force my body to go to sleep. My stomach lurches and I lose my battle of wills. I climb shaking to my feet and lumber into the bathroom, mere feet away. Facing the toilet I hug the bowl, and empty the contents of my stomach and my intestine, maybe even throw up an organ of two. By the time that I am able to stand, I feel a little better, I return to my bed, my head has joined in the party and has started to pound its frustration in a furious tempo inside my skull.

I lie there empty, sleep comes fast. When I wake up, I feel much better; I stretch and twist my body, readying my muscles to move. The bed rustles, the covers feel scratchy. I get up and go to the kitchen, picking up a black garbage bag and returning to my room. I look at the bed covered in it colourful wrappings, the remains of the war the day before.

My mother pads groggily into the room. “Tell me, why is it that you though you could eat 5 Easter eggs in one sitting?”

I glare at her and continue to clean up the mess, as she walks away laughing. Well at least I learned my lesson I think to myself as I place the bag in the bin and move on to clean my bathroom.

DARK WATERS


IT WAS A WEIRD DAY in Scotland, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. This is what had clinched the deal; my father had packed us all up in the car to go for a walk in the country. There was me, my brother, my mother and my father all squeezed into a tiny three door car, heading off to a great big lake in the middle of nowhere, with no hope of phone reception and no hope of getting back into town swiftly should I get a better offer from my friends. I sighed heavily, even tried to say that I was unwell, tried to reason with the man. All to no avail as he forced me into the car, I sat there boiling in the back of the car, the sun roasting me alive as I sulked, looking out of the window that wouldn’t open. I was so hot and my brother was joking around as usual. I tried not to listen to him, he was younger by four years and as such he was beneath my notice.

I knew that this trip was going to be a nightmare. There was no two ways about it; we drove for what felt like a millennia, or for an hour and a half, along the twisting, winding roads of the Scottish countryside. When we finally pulled up, I jumped out of the car after my mother had pulled the seat forward enough to allow me a quick exit. I sucked greedily at the air, cooler here than it was in the town. We were in a gravelled car park, the gravel messing with my footing in my six inch high heels. I stumbled over to a semi -tarred path on the banks of a gorgeous lake.

The silvery waters shimmered in a facet of rainbow colours; it was breath-taking to see that amount of water glimmering in the light of the sun. It was early so there was no-one else around, everything was quiet and still. I took a deep breath, hiding the smile that came to my lips. It wouldn’t do for a sixteen year old to smile, or to let anyone see you smile. I surveyed the waterscape with a scowl, in a decent simulation of boredom as I checked my phone. As expected, there was no signal way out here; there was also no sign of human habitation. I began my slow, teetering shuffle along the path, led by my mother and father, as they forged on ahead. My brother stuck by me, jabbering about school and his friends, I wanted to tell him to shut up, but he never listened to me anyway. I focused my attentions on the swans and their signets. Small fluffy grey blobs on the water. The birds singing and the flowers that grew everywhere, it was beautiful to see, nature in its natural habitat. I had to laugh at that thought, talk about random.

As I was watching the swans, they suddenly picked up there pace, reaching the shore they flew out of the water, faster than I had ever seen a swan move before. I was wondering what had gotten them so worked up when I saw it. A dark grey shape breached the glassy surface of the silver lake, a dark rounded shape with spines along its back. I started and shouted to gain the attention of my parents, as I explained to them the glimpse of the monster that I had just seen; they laughed and made jokes about seeing my reflection in the water. Is it any wonder that I dream of being a serial killer? We continued on with the walk, with each step the monster became more and more dreamlike. It must have been my imagination, something to fill my mind, keep me busy. After an hour, my feet were killing me and the monster was forgotten. We came to a grassy area by the bank of the lake, mother laid out a picnic and father looked on with his phone attached to his hand looking to take a picture of the happy family. I hated getting my picture taken, but needs must as the Devil drives, and I smiled on que. We sat and we ate, munching our fare in silence as we regarded the water. I dozed for a while, soaking up the sun, it was so much brighter here than in the town. After the picnic we continued on the walk around the lake, the birds were singing and the ducks were swimming. We stopped to rest at the far end of the lake, about half way around. It was there that father noticed a small boat tied up to a jetty jutting into the water. He decided to take the boat out for a while, even though it was not his and this could be classified as theft.

Regardless we had to go along with his plans for the day or he would get upset and then it would have gone downhill from there, so we all piled into the small boat, sitting too close to each other. We were all scared of falling out of the boat or tipping over, but we managed to keep quiet as father and mother paddled the boat out into the middle of the lake. Meanwhile they all joked about meeting the monster that I had seen. I laughed with the rest of them, and held my tongue. The monster was a faded dream in my imagination; I couldn’t remember what I had really seen. I remembered the swans acting strange and something breaching the water a little ways out, but it could have been anything. We rowed around to a small island in the middle of the lake, it was over grown with reeds, but there was a wide path that looked as if it had been made by a thousand snakes as they gouged their way through the vegetation. I was intrigued by the notion and wanted to get a closer look. It was with some surprise that father headed directly for the path and docked the boat. We all clambered out of the vessel and thanked the Gods that we had made dry land. Father promised to dump us all in the water on the way back; we had to laugh at him.

We walked through the path, the vegetation being crushed rather than cut. It was remarkable to think that this island was so popular with the local wildlife. I walked at the back of the group as I was too busy peering into the reeds at the side of the path, so I was the last to see the clearing, my father gasped and my mother shrieked. I ran to them, panicked by their reactions. The path ended in the middle of the island, there was a clearing, surrounded by reeds in a giant nest like structure, the dead reeds woven into circular walls around the area.

In the middle of this nest thing was a lot of feathers, and bones, some were large and others were small, it was a grave yard. I stooped down to pick up one of these bones when my mother’s hand clamped down on my wrist and began dragging me back down the path to the boat. I was in some form of shock, everything was slowing down. The monster that I had previously seen came back to me in sharp focus. I remembered every moment that lead up to the discovery of the monster’s nest.


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