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CHAPTER 2 SHORT

CHAPTER TWO
Rouffe and his escort rode back to his father’s walls. They were granite and marred by previous assaults. Smaller stones set within the larger boulders were patches from hurled missiles from catapults. They looked like scabs. Rouffe had been a baby when the last war occurred. They crossed a bridge and entered the gate flanked by two rearing dragons.
Rouffe worried about what his father wanted. He was fourteen and the age when he might be required to make a formidable adventure. One of which many young men had not survived.
They passed under a round vaulted portal. Torches blazed on the walls. Rouffe always felt humbled by this place. This would become his if he lived long enough.
They approached two men who sat on the ground with swords across their knees. “Ha, you got the boy, good work.”
Rouffe and his escort stopped at a wooden door held together by iron bands. Gouges pitted the door. It was more evidence of an assault by an invading force. The door opened with a groan. Armed guards nodded as they entered.
The great hall was lit at the far end by a huge fireplace. Along the walls leading to the flames were captured battle banners, swords of their vanquished enemies and battered pieces of armor.
Roffe saw his father sitting on one side of the burning fire pit. He sat slumped over as if mourning a loss. The baron was not a tall man but he was thick and muscular. His beard was gray was gray and matched his hair in color. His leather shirt was worn and patched. It reminded Rouffe of the man who wore it.
Without looking up he raised his arm. “Sit next to me, we must talk.”
Rouffe bowed slightly and sat. “How are you father?”
“I am well.” He nodded, sighed and grabbed his elbow as if feeling some invisible pain. “This has been a wonderful. No wars and now we have had a wonderful harvest.”
“I watched the fire,” Rouffe said. He rocked his shoulders and smiled at his father. “Everyone was dancing and laughing. They were happy.”
“No more Loup Garoux. But still people are cautious.”
“I have heard he had a son.”
“That is possible.” Choud nodded. “If there is a son he will be hell bent on vengeance.”
“He would be after us.” Rouffe shook his head.
“That’s why I hesitate to ask this.” Choud bowed his head and looked away from Rouffe. “I want you to go to the Outer Mountains and find a All Hallows log.” Choud looked into Rouffe’s eyes and frowned. “People are afraid to go to that haunted area.”
Rouffe nodded, “I will go.”
“It will be good for the people to see and hear the voices when it burns.”
“The voices of the dead.”
“Yes those warriors who were killed around the tree.”
“When it burns the voices will come out?”
“Yes.” Choud gave a slight shudder. “I have heard the voice of your grandfather coming from an All Hallows log.”
“It must have a strong spirit in it.”
“Yes voices of ther dead killed in combat.”
“It sounds scary.”
“Yes and there are still All Hallows logs out there.” Choud leaned back and sighed. “I would like to hear the voices again.”
“This is a task for a true warrior.”
“Yes it is Rouffe, and this is something you must do for me.”

Buy Me Dinner

Your trick just may be my treat!

Go ahead, ask?

#CountdowntoHalloween2021#CryptKeeper
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A Halloween Short

Voices From the Fire

By Wally Runnels




It had been a good burning.

The flames had climbed to the sky in writhing tongues of light. The wooden effigy of Loup Garoux was as tall as a castle tower. It came to life and writhed in the burning inferno. Its torso wobbled in a two-legged dance. The wooden shoulders that supported a wolf’s face and jaws twisted and the head-like structure rose as if it howled. Flames poured outward and flared from the body like a cloak on a windy day.
It had been a year since Chaud Houd, a local baron who lived on a hill surrounded by walls, had killed the creature. The fire was a celebration of the creature’s death. Burning him in effigy was a way to warn his spirit and hopefully keep others away.
Chaud Houd’s son Rouffe had danced around the burning creature with his friends. They reveled in the joy of a good harvest and hoped the valley would have a plentiful year to come. Everyone had clapped and yelled curses at the burning macabre figure. It had been a whole year without the monster killing anyone.
The air was cold crisp and gray smoke filled the air with a sappy pungent odor.
Rouffe danced with merry kicks and laughed with joy. All reveled in thought of the All Hallows celebration that was to come. Flashes and beams of light from the burning effigy fell over Rouffe and his friends.
A man in chain mail who wore a sword stood respectively in front of Rouffe. He jerked upright at the solemn countenance of the man.
“Young master, your father wishes to see you.”
Rouffe knew him as one of the men at arms his father maintained. “I have a horse for you.”
Rouffe nodded and adjusted his cap and followed his father’s man. He nodded to his friends. His friends took on a quiet demeanor. “Oh Rouffe, what have you done now?” He could only shrug and shake his head.
Rouffe and his escort rode back to his father’s walls. They were granite and marred by previous assaults. Smaller stones set within the larger boulders were patches from hurled missiles from catapults. They looked like scabs. Rouffe had been a baby when the last war occurred. They crossed a bridge and entered the gate flanked by two rearing dragons.
Rouffe worried about what his father wanted. He was fourteen and the age when he might be required to make a formidable adventure. One of which many young men had not survived.

Zen was in…#atozchallenge

Z2020

Zen was in the top of Rocky’s mind. Lately he hadn’t had enough time to meditate. He was slightly anxious and a little apprehensive.

He stood at the door and wondered if he should knock. He did and gave it three raps.

“Come in Rocky,” crooned an enticing voice.

He opened the door and stared at the naked beauty of Lucille. There could be no mistake even though she stood as a fleshed out woman. “You’re more gorgeous than I ever imagined.”

“And you’re more man that I could ever hope to have.”

“How much time do we have?”

“I’ll be dead at sunrise.”

“Jesus, then your back to La Rumorosa?”

“But Evan gave us this moment to be together. He can be nice when he wants to be.”

“He’s an interesting guy. Even though he works for

the …”

“Don’t say it. We always refer to him as the boos of the master.”

“We don’t have a lot of time, Lucille.”

“It’s sad, because I have so much love for you.”

“I want to know more about you.”

“Let me undress you.” She moved closer to Rocky. Their bodies touched, and she began to remove his clothes. “Evan says you read. I don’t know how.”

“He threw Xenophon at me, an ancient Greek mercenary and writer.”

“Most of the guys I slept with couldn’t read.”

“If we had more time I could teach you.”

“We must make time for other things.” Lucille pulled Rocky to her and they became one.

**

     Rocky rolled over crazy angry he had fallen asleep. Light was coming through the window and Lucille was gone. He horridly dressed and ran down stairs. The Tuna Club was empty. Tables and chairs were overturned and shattered glass lay around the floor.

With a quick glance he ran to the front door and saw three eighteen wheeler semis parked out front. On the center truck was a coffin secured with tie downs. Idling the exhaust stacks filled the air with a hellish Diesel smell.

The smell of brimstone turned Rocky around to face Evan. “Well Rocky you have had a busy night.” He made the comment with a straight face.

“It was wonderful, thank you. Among other things, we talked.”

“You could leave your world.”

“I don’t think I ready yet.”

“People always say that.”

“Is she in the coffin?” Rocky gestured to the middle truck.

“Yes, it’s a nice escort for a lovely woman.”

“I agree.”

“I understand you drink coffee.”

“It’s my favorite drink.”

“Let me make you a cup of my master’s coffee.”

“He drinks coffee?”

“As long as it’s scalding hot.”

“That figures.”

“You drink your coffee Cowboy style.”

“Yes.”

Evan produced a white metal battered pot that had burn marks and a smoke colored bottom. It looked familiar to Rocky.

“Yes that’s your pot, I’m just borrowing it.” Even produced a crystal skull and from the left eye poured coffee into the pot. From the right eye he poured water. He set Rocky’s pot on stones that were gathered around a small fire filled with red coals. The water boiled immediately.

“What you must understand is that drinking this coffee is like committing a sin. ”Evan poured a black arc into a cup and handed it to Rocky. He held the cup in his bare hands and it was painfully hot.

“Drink it, Rocky. It’s hot but you can handle it.”

Rocky pressed the cup rim to his lips and drank. It was hot but not terrible. He drank more. Wonderful pictures of victories he had had, women, Lucille and great devilish experiences with Hector ran through his mind. It was euphoric. He closed his eyes to savor the sinful moment.

Then terrible pain came as the brew ran down his insides. Pain and more pain ran through his body. He fell to his knees and moaned at the jarring anguish he felt.

“Ha, ha, ha. At first you felt the joy of your sins. It was wonderful and fulfilling. But then comes the retribution of your waywardness, which, by the way, we love you for.”

“That was hell,” moaned Rocky.

“We’ll be in touch,” cackled Evan.

Yikes! #atozchallenge

Y2020

Yikes, Rocky was excited to be getting back to Mexicali. He’d be that much closer to Bankhead Springs.

He had the truck at ninety when a police car came up and flashed his lights. He pulled up next to Rocky and a look of recognition lit his face. He waved and passed Rocky the lights still going. Rocky had forgotten the guy’s name. He was likeable and easy going. His sister was going into a nunnery.

Finally he made Mexicali. It was changing. Dirt streets were getting scarce. It was becoming a technical center for water and power. The buildings were getting taller and there were more suits and Mercedes downtown.

The Tuna club was still on the outskirts of Mexicali and the street was still dirt. Rocky pulled up to the front of the club and got out of the pickup. The club was still shabby and raucous, but Rocky rather liked it.

He walked through the front door and saw Hector sitting with the girls. Araceli saw him first and jumped up and gave Rocky a hug. “Rocky we were worried about you.”

“It was a close one, Ari.”

“You saved Hector’s ass. Cruz came in screaming where’s that asshole Hector Rosales.”

“He would.”

“We all gave him shit for talking that way.”

“He can be a real jerk sometimes,” said Rocky.

“He just laughed and turned away and walked out. He’s got two new Indians now.”

“They got names?”

“Yeah, Mauser and Ka-Bar.”

“Marked up?”

“Yeah scars and tats. One got his tongue tatted up.”

“Rocky, Rocky, amigo, your got me out man.” Hector screamed. “Heard you went through hell.”

“Evan may take me there himself.”

“He’s a sinister fucker, he runs La Rumorosa.”

“He runs most everything.”

“By the way he’s got a surprise for you.”

“Wonder what that would be?”

“Go upstairs. It’s the room at the end of the hall.”

“Rocky had a concerned look on his face.”

Hector grinned and winked.

Xenophon…#atozchallenge

X2020

“Xenophon,” Evan gestured with his cape, “could not have done better, Rocky.”

“Yes, the Anabasis,” Rocky waved his hand in recognition of Evan’s gesture. “The story of the ten thousand.”

Evan gestured to Homer and Beatrice who now had a new family member. “A gift to you two from Rocky.”

“Oh thank you Rocky.” Bernice cooed and petted the bony canine. “Homer and I are getting married.”

“That’s great, congratulations to both of you.”

“Yes thanks, we’ll call him Bony Mutt.” It was a happy for the couple.

“So Where’s Arango, Rocky?”

“Had to leave him behind. He was attached to the wall.”

“Oh yes, our friends in the bone towers won’t stand for any abuse.”

“The same ting happened to Bone Breaker.”

“Well, Rocky, it seems your work is complete. I think you should go to Mexicali and check on your friend, Hector.”

“Okay, that sounds really good.”

“Then I will see you one last time before I get back to La Rumorosa.”

Where’s Arango? PART 1 #atozchallenge

W2020

     “Where’s Arango,” Rocky asked.

“Not here.” And then the thing went back to its work.

“You must be Bone Breaker. You’re not very popular around here.” The moans and groans of the broken bones of his brothers and sisters were too heart rending for Rocky.

It didn’t seem to bother Bone Breaker. “After all, a man has to take care of himself.”

“But not at the hurt of others.” While Rocky was no saint he was shocked at the uncaring destruction of others. Although dead they were a kind of life form.

“You better get out of my house, or I’ll break your bones.”

Rocky pulled his pistol. “Don’t try to deal with me.” Rocky lost interest in the creature, Bone Breaker was not why he was here. He wanted Arango. Rocky moved away and passed Bone Breaker and headed for the end of the tunnel he was in.

“Hey Arango, you got some body coming for you.”

Rocky ignored the call and kept moving. Hands still reached out and touched him. Fingers ran through his hair. The happy murmurs began to rise. Then, there were moans, they seemed like warnings. Arango may have made some friends. Were they warning Rocky or Arango? His quarry may have made some friends.

Here was another corner in the passage. This one turned left and the passage Rocky was in continued on.

Rocky stopped and carefully leaned over, not to expose too much of his head.

There was Arango, illuminated by a flickering candle. Unshaven, his hair was a mess and his clothes were in tatters. His body trembled, he was wild eyed and he held a crucifix. He saw Rocky and made the sign of the cross. “What do you want?”

In his other hand he held a knife and was jabbing and breaking bones that were within his reach. Cries of anguish and hate came out of the walls around Arango. He sat away from the surrounding walls out of range of hands and arms.

Rocky sat in the passage with Arango. He could hear a rattling noise and the pounding thump of the hammer behind him. It had to be Bone Breaker coming to help Arango. Rocky knew he would be in for a two-far.

Oh well.

Visit the Tuna Club (A Momentary Break In the Action) #AtoZChallenge

V2020

 

Modesta

Under a bright hot sun…#atozchallenge

U2020

     Under a bright hot sun they walked two rows over between high piles of bony people. Bone Hump pointed to a dark opening in a large pile they stood in front of.

“That’s sssan ugly hole,” Bone Hag murmured.

“Looks like a tunnel,” Rocky said.

“Made out of crushed dead people,” growled Bone Hump.

“When I go in, will hands reach out and try to grab me?” Rocky asked.

“Yes, I certain,” Bone Hump nodded. “They’ll want you to pull them out.”

“Damn, I guess I got no choice.”

“We’ll be here waiting for you,” Bone Hump nodded his head.

“Yeah, thanks,” Rocky chuckled. He studied the opening. It looked to be about four feet high and three feet wide. Rocky was six feet. He’d have to stoop or go on his hands and knees, which would make his silhouette lower.

He didn’t know how Arango was armed. Rocky assumed he was. Rocky wore Armani sport coat and shirt and black Levis. He dropped to his knees and began the slow journey through the tunnel.

Once inside he cold hear a chorus of murmurs. High and low, some were male and some were female. Somewhere that was a woof, woof greeting from a dog.

Evan had everything down here. The dog melted his   heart. He thought about his pet pack rat, Dewey back at Bankhead Springs.

Bone Hump was right. Hands reached out for him. Bony fingers ran over his clothes and hair. It was as if they wanted to touch something living and warm blooded. Hisses greeted him. Somewhere he heard Armani hissed. A trail of moans followed his progress.

Woof, woof had become a whine and it saddened Rocky. He kept moving moved to a corner and he saw the tunnel continued on. He picked up crunching and cracking sounds from around the corner. He could hear cries of anguish and frightened whispers followed by sobs. He stuck his head around the corner to see the origins of these sounds.

There was a skeleton in bib overalls wearing a hard hat with a light. It broke bones with a small sledge. The light jerked and skittered with its movements. It hovered over freshly broken bones picking them up dropping them like dust. It seemed proud of it endeavors.

It stopped and turned to Rocky. “What are you doing in my houssse,” it hissed.