FREE KINDLE FOR PC

FREE KINDLE FOR PC
So you can read my books

Thursday, October 20, 2016

THE STARS LIKE SKULLS


For Denise Covey's Halloween WEP Blogfest, here is my tale of horror:



{A Tale of the Mysterious Father 
of Samuel McCord}



Stars like stabbing points of daggers jutted out from the dark velvet of the night.  

Huge and blood-red, the bloated sun but an hour ago had burned its fiery way into the black corpse of the horizon.


It was the year of Our Lord 1627, and the Anglo-French War was a madness just beginning.   

Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, leeched our country’s villages of its strongest men to man his fleet of 80 ships. 

 Damn Richelieu for triggering this insanity with his trickery and ambition.  I was done with wars of dueling royalty.


Bands of brigands roamed the countryside at will, pillaging and raping where they would.  

 I was but one man and could not fight them all.   

There was a ship soon to leave for the New World to a place called the Salem Colony.   

I would leave this land whose very soil churned with the blood of countless innocents and endless hate.


But I would sleep under a roof once more before then.  The tavern of Simeon the Necromancer was near.  

 I headed towards it.


As I walked, great shadows came rushing down upon me as if from unknown voids to shroud the world from the eyes of God.  

 I did not blame Him for not wanting to see the petty cruelty and wanton violence we men did to one another.


The dark red moon slowly rose from the skeleton of the horizon.  I paused, winter visiting my blood.  

 For a flickering moment, a twisted silhouette flashed across its scarred surface. 

 It swooped down towards me.  I ripped out my sword, a cold smile twisting my lips.   

Mayhap tonight I would find out if I could truly die.


But it swept past me, a gibbering laughter tittering from it.  I sighed.  This was a dark and troubled land.   

Too much unanswered death roamed the nights, birthing strange creatures out to drink from the living.


I started my way down the tangled path again to the tavern with its glazed eyed windows seeming like the vacant orbs of a dead demon.   

Far across the wild fen shrieked a faint mocking laughter.  I fought a shiver and entered the tavern.


“Come, wench, sit on my lap.  I killed your grandfather.  There is none to keep you safe tonight!”


“There is me,” I said softly.


The unkempt Reaver twisted about in his chair.  His two companions spun to face me.   

My double-barreled pistols were in both hands.  

 Crafted by a genius of a Spanish gunsmith, they could fire six rounds each. 


After each barrel was fired, all that was needed was to point the barrels down and new bullets would slip into place.


Many a brigand had appeared before the Gates of Hell stunned that a gun which should have been empty had killed them.


The Reaver slowly rose, murder in his beady eyes.  “She is a witch!  She deserves all I will do to her.”


“Yes,” I said, “she is a witch.  Her mother was more Worm of the Earth than human, and Simeon, her grandfather, was a Necromancer.  Still, they were my friends.”


His friends started to flank me.   

I whipped my head to the side sharply, slinging off my slouch hat and letting my skull-white hair fall to my shoulders.


The shorter of his two companions husked, 

“I know him!  Hold, Redly!  By all that is unholy, that is Robert McCord, the Deathless One.”


The young dark haired witch laughed like the snapping of dry bones.   

“Yes, it is McCord, who is afraid of neither demon, devil, nor man.”


She turned slanted, heavy-lidded eyes to me.  “Avenge my Grandfather!”


I shook my head.  “Like me, he deserved death ten times over … as did your mother, as do you.”


She frowned, “Then, why protect me now?”


I shrugged.  “You are my friend … and the damned should stick together.”


Redly barked a laugh.  “Then, you will let me get away with the murder of your so-called friend.”


Remembering the twisted silhouette flashing across the death-head moon, I said, 

“You talk from ignorance, and you will die from the same.  Methinks you will shortly meet Simeon in Hell.”


I put down one gold coin on the counter.  “Hecate, stay the night in my room.”


Her eyes became slits.  “You would have your way with me, too?”


I shook my head.  “I would have you safe from these dogs who think themselves wolves.”


Hecate snorted, “Oh, I shalt be safe enough.  But they will not if they spend the night in this Inn.”


Redly barked an ugly laugh.  “Oh, we will spend the night, wench.”


He turned to me, “But we will not pay.”


Hecate murmured, “Oh, but you shall.”


Redly tried to laugh but it came out hollow.  His two friends did not even try.  

 I turned to Hecate, but she had disappeared.  I shrugged.  Such was the way with witches.


I went to my usual room and went to sleep still in my clothes.  Some nights one kept his sword close to hand.  

 I awoke suddenly.  I was a light sleeper as befitting one whose life dangled always from a slender thread.


A scratching sound had awakened me, followed by a strangling gurgle.  

 I rose from my bed, not bothering to put on my boots.  I stood gravestone still, listening.  There! 

The scratching again, followed by a mewing groan.  I went to the door, sword in hand.


I went down the dark hall three doors and stopped.  

 That damn scratching again.  I tried to open the door.  Locked.  I hit it hard with my shoulder.  It flung open.  I froze in horror.


A bloody severed hand was finishing strangling Redly.   

As the Reaver gurgled his last, the hand flopped to the floor, and skuttled like a leper spider across the floor, up the wall, and onto the open window sill.  


In a quick lunge, I speared the thing with my rapier.  I swung up the blade, inspecting the slender hand still wiggling in a vain attempt to tear itself free.


Hecate murmured behind me, “I would have my hand back if you please … and even if you do not.”


I turned.  She stood in the doorway, weaving slightly on her feet.   

Her left arm ended in a stump crudely wrapped in bloody bandages.


She smiled a thing of madness.  

 “I knew they would bar their doors.  But it is a hot night, and their windows would be temptingly open.”


She turned to the shambling figure in the hallway, extending her hand to it.  

 “Here, Grandfather, keep it safe for me until I meet thee in Hell.”


The Thing that had been Simeon silently took it and trudged back down the dark hallway, 

down the stairs, and out to the fens with its passage to Hell waiting for him.


Her smile grew colder as she turned back to me. “I can spend the night with you now, Robert.”


I bowed slightly.  “In even the greatest of horrors, irony is seldom absent.”


With those words I left her frowning and walked back to my bed.


Find out more about Robert McCord in
THE NOT-SO-INNOCENTS AT LARGE

31 comments:

  1. Oooo, a scuttling hand... I am reminded of Thing T. Thing from the Addams Family.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Roland .. that was a wee bit unsettling ... I shall now see the scuttling hand for many a night ... tales of terror ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My contribution to the Halloween season! :-)

      Delete
  3. Hecate, heh? You picked one ancient and pervasive witch for your story. Loved the disembodied hand choking the life out of that Reper. Nicely dark and haunting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, if it was good enough for Shakespeare, her name was good enough for me. Not so much for MacBeth though!

      Delete
  4. That bloody severed hand, truly the stuff of nightmares ... in this case a Halloween nightmare. From you I expected no less for the Halloween prompt - a masterpiece. Well done, my friend. (I don't blog much anymore, but I am trying to at least do the WEP to keep in touch with dear friends such as you. I hope life is treating you well!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have missed you, Ann! Good to see you again if only for a short visit.

      Halloween is my time of year and muse!

      I pray all is well with you, too.

      Delete
  5. Hecate paid a high price to murder her would-be defilers and to avenge her grandfather. And no doubt regrets none of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Halloween and historical combined masterfully, very dark and rich! The disembodied hand is truly haunting...I should have known better than to read your entry at night.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, Nilanjana. :-( Yes, disembodied hands unsettle me to no end!

      Delete
  7. Creepy, although the villain surely deserved his fate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Creepy in two senses of the word, Olga!! Brrr.

      Delete
  8. Ho Roland
    There is nothing quite so scary a a living hand and a mad witch who created it from her own member. Well written.
    Nancy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, I creeped myself out when I wrote this little tale.

      Delete
  9. Just the name Hecate is enough to send those shivers scuttling up my spine, but she couldn't control those wicked sisters. So there's worse than Hecate in the 'world'. Great Halloween tale with the suspenseful descriptions sprinkled throughout. Disembodied hands...say now more. Shriek!! At least it's morning Down Under.

    As always Roland, thanks for being a good mate and posting for WEP. It's always a treat to read what your twisted imagination has conjured.

    Denise :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hecate seemed to fit as a name as the Greek entity was goddess of magic, crossroads, ghosts, and necromancy. Cue the spooky music.

      Sometimes I scare even me. :-) I am always glad to support you, Denise, my friend.

      Delete
  10. This is an interesting sideline to the McCord story. He seems to have similar qualities to his son (Sam McCord?) Well done, Roland. The witch charged her price in blood, but she paid a price as well for using her hand as a weapon...the idea of jumping hands reminds me of jumping spiders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have jumping spiders here in Louisiana, and the first time one leapt straight for me, I did a little jig and jump!!

      Yes, in this latest NOT-SO-INNOCENTS fantasy, McCord just discovers his father was more than what he appeared and very long-lived, being even remembered by the original Medea!

      Delete
  11. The witch the wench
    the three who died
    upon a sword
    the killer laid

    Just a hand
    not much to see
    but around your neck
    your life will flee

    revenge comes
    in all forms
    yet from this witch
    great evils born

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great poetic comment to my story. Very evocative. :-)

      Delete
  12. I don't think I would want to spend the night there. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. A big hand for Hecate.

    It seems she's in need of one now.

    Nothing like murder using disembodied body parts for a little Halloween scare.

    ReplyDelete
  14. You brought back memories of one of the first nightmares I ever had as a child. Not sure I want to thank you for that. :)
    Well done, quite the Halloween tale!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That hand was one of my earliest nightmares as well. Brrr!

      Delete
  15. Oooo Roland, this is so creepy. You paint a hauntingly beautiful (imagine, someone once used that phrase to describe me) picture here with your words. I could see every action and feel every goose bump raising incident. McCord is certainly one cool character, even in the face of these ghostly demons. Very, very, very well done, my friend.

    AND, a thousand thank yous for the newest edition 'Not So Innocents'. I have an obscenely long TBR list, but I have managed to move it up a bit (I'm that excited) and hope to get to it before the end of the year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Farawaetes, hauntingly beautiful for you once? Now, you have me intrigued. :-)

      I hope you enjoy the latest tale from the Not-So-Innocents!

      I tried for a bit of Halloween creepiness and fright. :-)

      Delete