Featured

Child of Yasuke

It was 1582, somewhere deep in the territory of Japan a young boy by the name of Suzu was given his first sword by his father Yasuke. The sword at first was heavy in his hands but Suzu’s father had sworn to him that one day the sword would feel as light as a feather, and that it did.

  But little did Suzu’s father know that something about the sword he did not like. All that he felt from it was a deathly aura, a deathly intent. To kill or be killed by such. And because of this, Suzu had always known that his father would die someday. It was a known fact that most Samurais didn’t live past 5 years of battle. But still, Suzu did not expect his father to go as soon as he did, for his father was the best of them all. But only a year and a half in the service, they would be greeted by another Samurai baring bad news.

  On an early Sunday morning, there would be a knock on the door. With his chocolate colored eyes, Suzu peeked around the corner of his room, and there standing at the doorway would be his mother and a tall man in Samurai gear. The Samurai’s gear was more unique than his father, unusual.  It was solid black, with a large rose gold dragon traveling through out it, complimented by a few strands of red around their torso. It was quite odd for being samurai gear. In fact, it was completely out of the tradition, yet Suzu found it amusing in some ways. Samurai’s had only carried one sword, well… then again there was the Wakizashi, but no, this samurai appeared to have another, and it surely wasn’t a Wakizashi.

  By the gold and jade engravings that coiled around its black scabbard, Suzu could already tell that it was his fathers. The Samurai with the rose gold dragon then left the sword with Suzu’s mother, bowed gracefully, and then walked off into the sun as if it were just another day in the neighborhood.

“Konotabiha Goshūshōsamadegozaimasu,” said the Samurai after he left, which meant- On this sad occasion we grieve with you.

It was so bright out, so beautiful. but when the door had closed everything about that astonishing light outside would be brought to a darkness. A darkness that Suzu had never seen before. A darkness different from the one he’d slept in at night.
Suzu’s mother, Chisato, then walked over to him with her feet trembling with every step, clinching onto her now dead husband’s sword, as if the sword was Yasuke himself.

 Chisato had hesitated to give Suzu the sword because at the end, she’d only saw the same fate—death. Like Suzu had seen, Chisato had as well only seen a deathly aura that surrounded a Samurai’s swords. She’d seen the same from her father and mother. So, none of this was new to her, only familiar in ways she wished she could erase.

 Like any mother or woman for that matter, after losing her husband, the last thing that Chisato wanted was to lose was her baby boy. Although, Samurai’s had a code. And even though Chisato knew that she was no longer the wife of a samurai, she still lived by and honored their code. Suzu had to be given the sword.

“Come here Suzu…” said Chisato, with a river full of tears.

Suzu walked up to his mother slowly. He was already aware of what she was about to tell him.

“Suzu… your father…” paused Chisato. “Your father won’t be coming home anymore…”

“But what about his sword…? He can’t protect himself without it,” said Suzu, innocently and confused, but he’d known good and plenty of what his mother meant. He just hoped that it was all a dream.

It was then Chisato dropped to her knees in a ball of tears. She’d hugged and held on as tightly as she could to Suzu. And Suzu would do the same, crying as hard as he could. It was the first time he’d ever seen his mother so broken inside. He could feel her whole body vibrate with fear and sadness as she held him.

His father was gone. Yasuke was really gone. And Suzu had known so from the time there was a knock on the door. But thankfully the years and the pain would go by fast.

It is now 1590. Suzu is a teenager on the verge of being a young adult, while his mother as much as she’d hated it whenever he mentioned it, was getting old. A senior, Suzu called her, and it alone would feel like like glass breaking to Chisato.

  Chisato had raised Suzu as best she could for a single mother. She’d of course had the option to date or even marry other men that drooled over her aging beauty. But never could she ever forget about her Samurai in shining armor. Chisato missed Yasuke every day and Suzu would always be the reminder of it. He had the same smile as his father, same laugh, same eyes.

  Suzu was everything a mother could dream of. He was smart, he was strong, he was funny, creative, determined. Although, she worried at times if she’d ever see grandchildren from him. Maybe she raised him to tough or maybe it was for the best, she presumed.  But thanks to his grandpa Banzan who was surprisingly still alive at the age of 122, Suzu’s thoughts of children or even a wife would fade even more after he’d told him some surprising news.

“I know who did it,” said Grandpa Banzan.

“Father no,” said Chisato. “None of that matters now… Suzu is going away to be a doctor, and soon.”

“Ha! Doctor. What… so the boy can be in more debt? Don’t make me laugh,” chuckled Grandpa Banzan.

“Mom, what’s grandpa talking about? Know what?” asked Suzu, innocently like he was when he was a child.

No matter how tall Suzu got, Chisato still saw that little boy, and she’d promised herself to protect that little boy to the day she died. But like his father, Suzu did what burned in his heart. Nothing could stop him from obtaining the truth.

“Your father boy,” continued Grandpa Banzan. “I know who killed your father. They’re still here. In town, right now as we speak.”

“Who? How? W-why tell me now? Why didn’t you tell me before?” asked Suzu, confused.

“Father please!” shouted Chisato, with teary eyes.

“No! The boy is a not a boy anymore! He’s a goddamn man! Look at him! His heads just about touching the goddamn ceiling! Taller than his father that’s for sure! He’s not your little boy anymore Chisato. Every lioness must let her cub go eventually. So, let the boy go, let him be a king of his own jungle. And maybe, just maybe, he’ll come out of this strong enough to be able to take care of you when you can’t anymore,” lectured Grandpa Banzan.

“Oh, like how I took care of you?” said Chisato, sarcastically.

“Ha! I didn’t make it all the way to 122 without knowing how to take care of myself,” chortled Grandpa Banzan. “But that’s nice of you to think you helped.”

“But what good is any of this if all I end up doing is burying my own son before myself!” shouted Chisato, concerned.

“The boy won’t die,” interrupted Grandpa Banzan. “You don’t know but I’ve seen the way that boy wields Yasuke’s sword. It’s almost identical, like poetry in motion.”

“As light as a feather,” added Suzu.

“Yes, as light as a feather,” smiled Grandpa Banzan.

“So, is that true? Suzu, have you been practicing?” asked Chisato, disappointingly.

Suzu nodded shamefully. He and his mother had always had such a strong bond. They told each other everything. But it was difficult to say that that sword had a gravitating pull to it that no mother could bring. It was as if the sword was a part of him. Suzu had never said anything about it because honestly who would believe him, but on the nights when he slept, he could hear his father voice calling to him. And every time he’d followed his fathers voice, there in front of him would be the sword nestled on the floor before him.

“Pick it up son,” whispered his fathers voice.

 Whenever Suzu wielded it, he could feel the sword guiding him, training him, preparing him for what was to come. But what was to come? He wondered, but if anyone knew about it, it would surely be Grandpa Banzan.  

“Suzu… Why? I thought I told you that those days were over. There are no more samurai. The movement is dead,” said Suzu, uncertain.

“You’re wrong,” said Grandpa Banzan. “There is still one. And she has been building up not only her resume, but literally a new damn samurai movement. One that is nasty and more vicious than any. They call themselves, the Shadows.”

“It doesn’t matter! Why are we even discussing this! Do you seriously think Suzu can take on a group of trained Samurai! Look where that got his father!” shouted Chisato, with rage. “He was ambushed and then forced to turn to his own blade.”

“No… Not by himself but with that sword, yes,” said Grandpa Banzan, excitingly. “But either way we look at it, the Shadows will come looking for Suzu.”

Chisato then sunk down to the floor hopeless and scared, lying in a puddle of her own tears. What was mother to do? How could she stop it? Then again, she couldn’t stop Yasuke. So, the planning of interfering with what was Chisato felt pointless.

“Enough!” shouted Suzu, with fire in his eyes.

“Yes,” said Grandpa Banzan, calmly.

“What is her name? I want to know it,” said Suzu, clinching his fist.

Granpa Banzan smiled.

“Zankoku…” he said, with a groggy voice. “But some of us know her as Rukia. My daughter. Your mothers sister. Your Aunt.”

“No… They told me it was Aku Yami…” said Chisato, panicked.

“They lied,” said Grandpa Banzan. “No one wanted to say it was Rukia. I honestly can’t blame them. If any of them had said a word about her it would’ve cost them their heads. Shes… shes not the same you know…”

“How did you find out grandpa?” asked Suzu.

“Well… if I told you that then it would be my head,” Grandpa Banzan replied.

“Why didn’t you tell me!” shouted Chisato. “If I’d known it was her all of this time then I…”

Grandpa Banzan interrupted.

“You would have done nothing… Not to your sister of all people,” he said. “Like I said, she isn’t the same anymore.”

Suzu then walked to his room, with not a mention to what he was up to.

“Suzu stop! Where are you going?” shouted Chisato.

Suzu didn’t reply. In the background all that was heard was rumbling, and a few miscellaneous things falling on to the floor. A few seconds after Suzu would come out.

“Mom,” he said. “I’m going to go okay…”

“Go where…” Stuttered Chisato. “You’re coming back right.”

“Don’t know…  but I love you okay. Take care of yourself,” said Suzu, walking away, lost.

Chisato then snatched the sword that Suzu had dug up from his closet.

“You’re not going anywhere! Not with that sword,” said Chisato

Grandpa Banzan’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. His eyes didn’t blink once. It appeared that Chisato had been keeping secrets as well.

“Chisato…” said Grandpa Banzan.

“Here,” she said. “Take your fathers. And take mine.”

Suzu had taken them both stunned by his mother’s sword that he’d never seen. Its scabbard was carved completely from Jade.

“This was your grandmother’s, that was handed down to me. But now, it is yours Suzu,” said Chisato.

Grandpa Banzan still gazed with amazement as what he saw was a moment of bliss he had not seen from the time him and his wife had said the words, I do. But before anything else would be said there would be a knock on the door.

“We’re too late,” said Grandpa Banzan, nervously.

The door then blew off the hinges as if a group of soldiers were barging in. Like years before. the day would be as bright as ever. But partially blocking the light would be Zonkoku. Nothing about Zonkoku’s gear spoke samurai. It was somewhat in the combination of a ninja uniform, which would be fitting for a leader of a group that called them the shadows.

“Finally, I found you,” said Zonkoku.

“Rukia…” said Grandpa Banzan.

“You shut your mouth old man! You will refer to me by Zonkoku,” said the leader of the shadows.

Suzu stood beside Chisato quietly.

“Ah… Well isn’t it Chisato, mothers favorite,” said Zonkoku.

“Rukia please… why are you doing this? This isn’t you?” she said. “Where have you been?”

Zonkoku then took off her mask and what would be revealed was a scar full of rage.

“I told you all to refer to me by Zonkoku…” she said. “Ugh, doesn’t matter now. You will all pay for what you did to me.”

Both Chisato and Grandpa Banzan stood by dumbfounded.

“You don’t remember do you,” said Zonkoku, disappointingly. “We were all slaves brought over here from Africa. Freed and liberated by the kind people of Japan but not all of us. You see, you forgot about me. Do you know what it feels like to not have food for months, to be imprisoned with men who took advantage of you every single night, only to leave you in the corner like trash. Of course, you didn’t. Too busy playing a wife and mother. And far as you go father, I’d hoped you’d died with mother, but it looks like I’ll have to do that myself.”

Chisato pushed Suzu back and took the jade sword she’d previously given him.

“Chisato stop!” shouted Grandpa Banzan. “Don’t be foolish. She’ll kill you!”

“Yes Chisato, I surely will,” said Zonkoku flickering her lips like a serpent.

Without a second more, both Chisato and Zonkoku would clash swords. It was the first time Suzu had ever seen his mother fight. It all made since now. All the cleaning, all the studies. It was all being applied right before his very eyes. It was in that moment both Suzu and Grandpa Banzan realized that Suzu never stopped living in the way of the samurai. It was that she just hoped that she’d never have to actually use it. And who would have thought that it been her sister she’d have to use it on.

Blood splattered on the floor like paint as Chisato took a knee. The fight was over. Only one more strike was needed to finish it.

“Any last words?” asked Zonkoku, with her eyes as gleamy as feline in the dark.

“We… we thought you were dead you know…” said Chisato coughing up blood. “We searched for years and could never find you. And although father and I had given up, mother never did. She thought about you all the way to the end, before she died. She loved you. We love you Rukia.”

Zonkoku’s sword had hovered above Chisato’s head. She was hesitant now. Not knowing what to think, what to do, or how to feel. But then she’d thought about those nights that she could never sleep. The nights that she’d been treated like nothing but an object.

“Lies!” she shouted, swinging the sword down.

But then something unexpectingly happened.

Between both Chisato and Zonkoku was Suzu. Although, he wasn’t Suzu anymore.

“Suzu…” whispered Chisato.

“How! Impossible! You’re just a kid,” said Zonkoku.

“No…” swallowed Grandpa Banzan. “That is Yasuke.”

Zonkoku then took two giant steps back.

“No… No, I killed you,” she said.

“Yes, but not my spirit,” said Suzu, with his father’s voice.

While Zonkoku stood back trying to comprehend what was happening, as fast as the wind Yasuke’s blade would impale her. Suzu leaned in and whispered to her.

“I know you hurt, and I know you’ve gone through things I myself could never live with. But… you cannot erase evil by becoming evil Rukia. The only way to erase evil is with love. And with this blade I give you my love. I love you; we all do. And so, now I set you free from the pain and all that you have ever had to go through. Sleep well, I’ll save you a spot in the heavens.”

Zonkoku eyes poured out with tears of pain. She sobbed all the way until her body faded. And just before it did, she had only said four words, I love you to.

Zonkoku lied on the floor cold but gratefully with a smile on her face. Suzu had came back to his senses seeing a dead body lying before him. He cried. Even though his father was in control for the most part, he’d still heard every word he said. So much pain, yet an infinite amount of love to take it all away. Grandpa Banzan, Chisato and Suzu both held onto each other as the light still beamed through door. They’d promised to never forget how far they had come, how much they had lost, yet how much strength and love they’d gain.

The moral to the story:  Love no matter how hard life becomes, for not doing such only leads to more sadness, until one Is finally set free from death. Do you want to die happy now or do you want to be happy after death?

The choice is yours.

The end

July 25th, 2020 by Patrik Starks

Featured

In Wolfs Clothing (Part 2)

“Why did you do it?” asked Johnathan, gritting his teeth.

Bram looked at Johnathan with humor in his expression. He’d found it all so funny because it was a dumb question to ask a man of his stature. Afterall, he was murderer. A bad man. And a nasty wolf with a blood lust. If there was any reason, he’d done it, it be for the sere pleasure and power he’d gotten from it.

“Say something you bastard!” shouted Johnathan.

Fiona looked at Johnathan with amazement. As massive Bram was, Johnathan still had an even stronger aura around him that she couldn’t comprehend. And she’d known that Bram could see it too. Although, Bram wasn’t one for shying away from a challenge, especially one that he started.

“Ha! Adorable,” laughed Bram. “Such a pup, yet, you bear fangs as if you were a pack leader or something. Do you even have a pack?”

Johnathan remained silent.

“That’s right, I forgot. I killed the only pack you had,” chortled Bram.

Before another word was said, Johnathan then charged at Bram with all his might and hatred. And they’d clashed together as if they were two gorilla’s fighting in a test for strength, but unfortunately Bram did not move a muscle. He was like a brick wall but thicker and stronger.

“Is that all you got boy?” laughed Bram.

“Leave him alone!” shouted Fiona, lunging for Bram’s neck with her long claws.

But within an instant Bram had both Johnathan and Fiona by the neck like the undertaker himself, as he’d choke slammed them both onto the concrete floor.

“Umm… so sweet,” said Bram, with his eyes rolling to the back of his skull as he licked Fiona’s wound. “I think after I’m done killing the boy, I’ll make you my wife.”

Cocking it back as best she could Fiona had spit a wet one right into Bram’s eyes. Surprisingly, Bram did not blink. For someone so violent, Bram was surprisingly calm, and as still as mannequin.

“What do you plan to do?” asked Johnathan, as he struggled. “Why kill your own kind!?”

“Ha! Own kind?” said Bram. “Tell me boy, just how much do you know about the royal bloodline of a werewolf?”

“I know enough. I know that we can turn into a full wolf and that you’re jealous of it and tried to eliminate that difference we had. You’re practically insecure as fuck,” smiled Johnathan, spitting in Bram’s face.

Again, Bram didn’t blink an eye. But in that moment Bram’s eyes had changed for the worst. Just when Johnathan and Fiona felt that he couldn’t have gotten any darker in his soul, he’d do so now. With frustration Bram through Johnathan like a rag doll over to other side of the room, as he’d been impaled to rusted pipe sticking out on the wall.

  Johnathan had felt a sharp pain in his side. He could taste blood in his mouth. And for a slight moment he could’ve sworn that he’d seen the grim reaper himself, but at the end it was only Bram. Although, Johnathan had considered if Bram was really such—a reaper in wolfs clothing.

“You have no idea do you boy?” asked Bram, shaking his head. “She didn’t tell you, did she?”

“Tell me what? That you’re an abomination,” smiled Johnathan coughing up blood onto the floor.

“Smart ass…” said Bram, annoyed. “But I guess I’ll tell you before I finish you off. You know, it’s the least I could do for your what I did to your family and all.”

“Go fuck yourself,” shouted Johnathan.

“Bram no!” shouted Fiona.

“Shut up witch! And let me and the pup here have a man to boy talk,” snapped Bram.

Fiona shivered in the background. She wanted to get up and claw out Bram’s heart if she could but realistically, she was dreaming. Bram was indestructible. He was a monster.

Bram Continued

“You see boy, your parents were murderers as well as the others who were of royal blood. They slaughtered all who wasn’t royal for one reason, and one reason only,” said Bram.

“No! You’re lying! My parents were good people!” shouted Johnathan.

“Oh…” said Bram. “If so, then why hide such a secret from you all this time.”

“It was… It was to protect me!” shouted Johnathan, unsure.

“Don’t be so naïve boy. The truth is that your parents got their hands dirty trying to establish their dominance over a race that was slightly different from them. And well…they just couldn’t back up the repercussions that came with it. They couldn’t hide from it, neither could your brother who helped them. But if there was anything they could hide, it was you. There last hope. Although, not much now from what I’m seeing.”

Johnathan hung on the wall like a poster, contemplating the life that he had. His whole body felt numb.

 All the pain had gone away. Yet, the pain that did linger was the very pain in his heart. It had never gone away. In fact, it had been there since the time he’d left his night class, depressed by a world that he felt never accepted him. Tears ran down Johnathan’s face. He was speechless.

“This is it…” whispered Johnathan. “This is it for me…”

“Any final words?” said Bram with a sharp grin.

But then something ignited in Johnathan like a wildfire. Out of nowhere Johnathan burst out in a psychotic ball of laughter. And Fiona could feel her heart suddenly drop into her stomach.

“Johnathan…” she whispered, worried.

Pulling himself off the wall Johnathan had laughed even harder, as instantaneously his wound would close.

“What the…” said Bram, stepping back.

“What’s wrong old man,” said Johnathan, as his body slowly transformed. “I’m just a pup right.”

“Old… Old man! I’ll show you!” shouted Bram, taking a mighty swing and Johnathan’s head.

But before Bram had realized it, Johnathan would be right behind him, guarding Fiona like an overly aggressive pet chihuahua.

“Incredible… So, you’ve managed to obtain your full form I see,” said Bram with a blank expression. “Won’t matter though. You forget, I’ve already seen that form from your family and many more, and still, they didn’t have what it took to take me down.”

Between Fiona and Bram, a full wolf stood. Its eyes were as gold as the sun, and its fur coat would be as beautiful as a lion’s mane, yet, almost striped like a Zebra. Johnathan was now double the size that he originally was, but still, Bram wasn’t fazed one bit by it.

“Well come on then!” shouted Bram. “Show me what you got you little shit!”

Little did Bram know that when Johnathan clashed against him it would be different than before. For once, Bram had held a fear in his eyes that he’d never felt. He could feel the stamina in his muscles depleting more and more as he’d struggled to hold Johnathan back.

  Quickly Johnathan pulled away and paced around Bram like any predator would stalk its prey. And the more he’d done so the faster he’d get.

“He’s so fast…” whispered Bram, to himself. “I can’t see a damn thing…”

“What’s wrong Bram, wolf got your tongue,” smiled Fiona, still hurt.

“You shut your bitch!” shouted Bram, with rage. “That’s not even how the saying goes. Enough of this!”

Bram then let off a massive howl that the whole city of Seattle could hear. In the matter of seconds, it would sound like a stampede from above. There were screams, shooting, sirens and all.

“What did you just do…?” asked Johnathan, shocked.

Bram grinned sharply.

“Oh, I just called for a few friends. But those who don’t have a pack wouldn’t understand,” he laughed.

“Johnathan! Finish him now! Before…” paused Fiona.

It was too late. Before Fiona could finish her sentence four more werewolf’s just as massive as Bram had come down to greet themselves. It was like looking at five demons in the dark. If one had ever lived to see such.

“Allow me to introduce my pack,” said Bram, with cockiness. “This is…”

“I don’t care who the fuck they are! All my life I’ve had to deal with shitty people not accepting me, my families gone because of you, and well… you see I don’t have anything to lose at this point. So, forgive me for not giving any fucks!” shouted Johnathan.

Fiona was still so speechless by Johnathan. He was so young, so new to his form, but as she glared at him with her cherry eyes, she could see that the boy was no boy but a young man. And one with a nasty temper.

“Ooooo I like this one,” said one of the werewolves. “Oh, Bram can play with him please?”

The werewolf was much shorter than the other four and the only female, but one would be a fool to take her lightly. She had scars all over her body and a set of teeth that would make a great white shark swim away.

“No,” said Bram. “I will make proposition to the boy first, and if he doesn’t accept then he’s all yours. But for now, tend to your sister’s wounds. Me and her will be married soon enough.”

“M-married but…”

“No buts! Just do it Reyna,” growled Bram.

Johnathan looked long and hard at Fiona and the other female werewolf. They had the same eyes, same snout, same facial features. They’d almost be twins if the other wasn’t so scarred and deformed.

“Can’t believe this shit, I’ve always been there for him, me,” snarled Reyna.

“Reyna, why do you stand by him, Bram’s a monster,” said Fiona.

“No sister, if you only knew who the real monster was, then you wouldn’t be talking to me,” said Reyna. “Just shut up and let me do this before Bram gets rid of us both.”

“He’d be doing us a favor,” said Fiona, Sarcastically.

While the two sisters caught up, Bram and Johnathan’s conversation continued.

“Now, where were we? Yes, that’s right. So, here’s how this is going to go. You can either join my pack and Fiona marries me or you can die and Fiona well… still marries me,” laughed Bram.

Johnathan smiled.

“Oh, I didn’t think you out of all would find such so funny,” said Bram.

“Well, it’s only funny because I think you and I both know the answer to my choice,” said Johnathan.

It was true. Bram did know Johnathan’s answer all along. However, Johnathan did not see why’d he even asked. Johnathan’s paws claws were slowly receding. And his eyes were getting dimmer by the minutes wasted standing and talking. Fiona had told him everything about werewolves but the one thing that she’d forgot to mention was how long one can stay in their form.

  Unlike those of royal blood, Bram’s kind can stay in their form for as long as they want. And for some, they’ve been wolves for so long that they’ve forgotten their human form, which was most of Bram’s pack. As many times that they’d tried to convince Reyna, she’d refused. She loved her human form because at the end, it was the only time she could no longer be reminded of the scars she’d gotten for her crimes.

“Okay then, it’s settled then. Boys if you will,” said Bram.

“Our pleasure boss,” said the werewolves.

“Hey! I thought he was mine?” asked Reyna, frustrated.

“I’m sorry Reyna but right now I need you and your sister by my side. Can you do that for me?” said Bram, with seducing eyes.

“Of course, Bram, anything for you,” drooled Reyna.

But Fiona wasn’t leaving without a fight. She’d taken all the strength she had left and lunged at Bram’s neck one last time, but before she could reach him Reyna would knock her into next week. There on the floor Fiona was unconscious and carried off into the dark. Meanwhile, Johnathan would be held back by the other three werewolves.

“So, let us introduce ourselves aye. My name is Majora, the one to my right is Link, and the one to my left is Zelda,” said the werewolf.

“You’re kidding me… Like from the video game?” asked Johnathan.

“What video game? What’s he talking about?” asked Link.

“Don’t know, but sounds cool,” said Zelda.

“Jesus…” whispered Johnathan, shaking his head. “This might be easier than I thought.”

Out of nowhere Majora took a sharp swing at Johnathan’s side but luckily, he’d dodged it in time.  But then Zelda would attack and then Link. They’d all kept striking at him until he was too tired to fight back.

“Ugh oh,” said Majora. “Aye boys, I think he’s getting tired.”

“Then let’s finish him off already, I’m starving,” said Link.

“You’re always hungry,” chortled Zelda

“Shut up!” shouted Johnathan. “I’m finishing this in one move.”

“Oh, and just how are you going to…”

Like lighting Johnathan had flung past Zelda and Link, slitting Majora’s throat. Both Zelda and Link trembled as a pull of blood formed by their feet. Although, Bram was the pack leader, in Link and Zelda’s eyes Majora was their leader. And like with any pack the one who kills the leader, shall become the leader. Johnathan had seen it in the movies but took a wild guess to maybe that’s how it would be for them too.

  Slowly both Zelda and Link walked over to Johnathan as he returned to his human form.  They’d both bowed their heads, as their tears dripped to the floor.

“We are in your command,” said the two, weeping like scared puppies.

“No,” said Johnathan. “Both of you stand up. I want you to be your own person. Don’t rely on me or others. For once in your life choose the kind of person you want to be, not what Bram or I want.”

Link and Zelda looked at each other confused, yet, relieved all in one. They’d never felt joy before, but they could feel it now. Like being reborn. A second chance at life. They both then nodded at one another.

“We want to help,” they said.

“Okay… where is Bram taking Fiona then?” asked Johnathan.

“He’s taking her to the space needle,” said Link, quickly.

“Yeah, Bram said something about there being a beacon for all werewolves,” said Zelda.

“What do you mean beacon?” asked Johnathan.

“Well just like you were the last hope for your family,” said Link, carefully. “The space needle is like a beacon of hope for Bram. Said something about it having special powers.”

“Yeah, he also said he needed a bride and that he would need to sacrifice that bride in order to…”

“Shit! We gotta go!” shouted Johnathan.

As Johnathan made his way to the space needle, the other two would follow. Surprisingly, they’d remembered their human form after all. Although, walking to them was like walking for a newborn it seemed. Nevertheless, the closer they’d approached the space needle, all Johnathan could think about was what the hell was so special about the space needle? Then again, not many natives of Seattle knew the answer to that.

To be continued.

July 5th, 2020 by Patrick Starks

Featured

Hungry, Hungry, Hippos

Gum-Gum was what most called one of the largest hippos in Africa. Not only did his family worship his magnificence, but all people of Africa respected him. From the time he was a teenager to an adult. Gum-Gum had dreamed of doing so much for his land. He dreamed of joining herds together. He dreamed of everyone showing mercy for the deaths that needed to be taken, which most of that discussion had involved the lions for they at times did not know the meaning of portion control. But eventually, through time and patience the lions had learned to coexist with the rest of the animal kingdom. Gum-Gum had had plans for so much more, but when the weather had shifted did not expect what came next.

Lightning roared the skies. The rivers became oceans. And the trees, had fallen over like clumsy baby elephants, but later became water rafts for the ones that could not get away in time.

As the weather had continued to worsen, Gum-Gum thought about all of what his father would do if he were there in that present moment. Even though he’d passed away long ago, he could still feel that godly aura that his father had always carried inside. It was as if he had never left.

  But after Gum-Gum’s father had died many of the other animals had gone off into their own tribes, whom of which created leaders amongst themselves. You could say that a few of them didn’t quite respect Gum-Gum. No matter how massive and strong that he was, Gum-Gum to most of them was not yet fit to be a leader. In their words, he was still too young. More so, some had felt earning leadership was one thing, but inherited leadership, well… that was arguably the opposite in a lot of ways.

Gum-Gum felt helpless. Many of the ones who believed in him had shouted out his name for aid but seeing how he had a family of his own, what more could he have done. It was every family for themselves. It then dawned on Gum-Gum that maybe having one person lead many in a lot of ways made no sense. Its literally one opinion, one soul, which eventually fades no differently than the ones he or she leads. In short definition, leaders are not immortal.  

  But as time went on Gum-Gum watched as his whole world become more and more tarnished by the forces of mother nature, but as those horrors had come to a calm, something far worst would arise. A ghost from his past.

“What… What is it,” asked a little a hippo.

It had been only a few months since Gum-Gums wife had given birth to his little boy and already, he was just as plump and half the size of him now. His eyes were like his mothers, almost as gold as a lion’s mane. And his teeth were out growing him so much that they poked out from his whiskered lips.  

Gum-Gum took a deep breath and answered.

“I don’t know…” he gasped, squinting his eyes.

From the distance there were 7 shadows as big as teenage elephants. But none of them Gum-Gum assume were elephants because their ears were way too tiny and there walk too wobbly.

 Gum-Gum’s wife stood behind him and wobbled with fear. She was in shock, but mostly from what occurred prior to that moment.

“Who’s there!?” he shouted.

There was silence. And only one shadow remained moving.

“I said who’s there?” shouted Gum-Gum, pumping himself up for what was to come. “Don’t come any closer!”

There was still silence, but as the shadow had become more visual Gum-Gum had found himself at a lost for words.

“Hello brother,” said a voice.

The voice was light but crackly, like nails to a chalk board. It made the hairs on the back of Gum-Gums back stand.

“Fiona…  I thought… I thought you were dead,” said Gum-Gum.

“Yes, I figured they would tell you something like that. As well you be so naïve to believe it,” said Fiona.

Normally, when they were kids, Fiona had an aura that was loving. Nurturing like their mother. But although she had the same golden eyes as Gum-Gum, Fiona’s aura felt as if he were staring death in the face.

  Scars formed all around her face and all around her body. Her feet were almost double the size of Gum-Gums. And her teeth were like his sons, which was strange seeing how big she was. They just wouldn’t have been so exposed as they were.

“Surprised to see me brother?” asked Fiona, sarcastically.

“Well… Can you blame me… I thought you were dead all this time and then you show up on my doorstep during a crisis like now…” said Gum-Gum

“Ah… Yes, mother… She always finds ways of fixing the planet. Even if some of the events in which she chooses is catastrophic. I admire her. She’s a woman that isn’t afraid to take charge,” said Fiona.

“You mean you’ve met her,” said Gum-Gums son.

“Maven stay back!” shouted Gum-Gum.

Fiona’s smile had gone from grim to demonic, which wasn’t really too far from being the same.

“Oh, and who have we here?” smiled Fiona.

Before she could step any closer, Gum-Gums wife had stepped in front of their baby boy with a rage he’d never seen. Had she had it all that time? Or was it just something mothers inherited after birth?

“Cute…” chortled Fiona. “Don’t worry missy, I mean you no harm. But trust me, this little stare down you and I are doing right now would’ve been over way before you stepped in front of the boy. Trust me on that.”

Although, Fiona was quadruple the size of her, Gum-Gum’s wife didn’t back down for one moment. She stood her ground.

“I like her,” said Fiona.

“Who are the six in the back?” asked Gum-Gum.

“Oh, right… Forgot about them. How rude of me not to introduce my heard. Let me call them over.”

Fiona shouted. And as she did, it had felt like and earthquake was happening as the 6 made their way over.

“But before I formally introduce this bunch, would it be out of context to say that we should find a safe place. It doesn’t look like mother is lightning up, if you catch my drift.”

“The tunnels…” said Gum-Gum’s wife.

Gum-Gum then gave his wife a disappointed look.

“What tunnels?” asked Fiona.

Gum-Gums wife kept quiet.

“Ah, I see how it is. My little brother king and all grown up. I get it,” said Fiona.

“No, its not like that…”

“Right…”

“Besides, the tunnels are probably flooded. There’s a cave that’s not far away and would be much quicker to get to,” Gum-Gum swallowed.

Fiona had a peculiar look on her face. As well the six that stood by her side.

“Hmm… Okay then lead the way oh mighty one,” she said sarcastically.

Gum-Gum then led everyone to the cave.

“There’s no lions, here right?” asked one of the six hippos, nervously.

“No,” said Gum-Gum. “They vacated this cave a long time ago, but of course they never told me why.”

“Right…” said the hippo, unsure.

“I guess I should introduce Waddles since he was the first to speak,” said Fiona. “We call him Waddles because as you can see, he waddles a lot.”

“It’s nice to meet you Waddles,” said Gum-Gum and the rest of his family.

Waddles said nothing but went off in a corner and laid down. Moments later everyone would hear his snoring.

“And the other 5?” asked Gum-Gum.

“You are so persistent… Still haven’t changed I see. But I guess I’ll tell you the others. The one furthest to the right is Mud, the one next to him is Horse, the one in the middle is Sky, the one to the left of him is Emerald and the last one has no name,” said Fiona.

“Why does he have no name?” asked Gum-Gums son, innocently.

“Don’t know why but he said that he didn’t want one. Said something about being titled or labeled, whatever that’s all about. But if there’s anything that I can say about him is that he’s as strong as rhino.”

Gum-Gum looked at them all again. All of them in a lot of ways resembled one another. Were they all brothers?

“Fiona…” paused Gum-Gum.

“Oh boy, what is it now?” asked Fiona, slightly bothered by the question.

“Why are you hear? Why out of all these years you show up now?”

Fiona pondered on the question. She even walked from one side of the cave to the other. For once, she didn’t seem at all that intimidating. Her shoulders were slouched forward, and her head was pointed to the ground.

“Fiona, I’m sorry… I didn’t mean…”

“No,” interrupted Fiona. “Its okay. You have every right to ask that of me. You see, there’s a place in the Congo that not many Hippos know about. You could call it a Fruitopia.”

“I think I’ve heard of this place. I believe it’s called Froyo,” said Gum-Gum.

“Yes… We had all the food you could ever dream of. Food that makes you bigger and stronger. A place you could roam free with no worries to the dangers that existed. But…”

“But what asked…” Gum-Gum.

“But then Tar came,” said the hippo with no name from out of the blue.

“What is a Tar?” asked Gum-Gum’s wife.

“Tar is something you never want to be caught alone with sweety…” said Fiona. “He’s ruthless. He’s greedy and never stops until he has everything, he lays his eyes on. He came into our sanctuary and with his goons ate everything in sight. We became depleted of our resources and he left us with nothing. Absolutely nothing. And so, as much as my ego hated to come back to a home that casted me off… I came back hopping that I’d get help from my only existing blood.”

Gum-Gum stood by stricken by all that had been said. He couldn’t do anything for the animal kingdom, but he at least could have done something for his long-lost sister.

“I’ll show you the tunnels tomorrow,” said Gum-Gum.

“Really?” asked Fiona, excitingly.

“Of course, … It’s at least I could do.”

All seven hippos bowed their heads and thanked Gum-Gum for his grace. Later that night they would all rest up for the morning.

Author: Patrick Starks

In Wolfs Clothing

In Seattle Jonathan didn’t know where he was headed as a young man. Everything was changing so fast around him. And what he saw originally as a small city was now becoming undoubtedly bigger than New York it seemed. But seeing this, Jonathan had felt that he would have more of an opportunity to meet all sorts of people. All cultures. To finally find his pack.

When Jonathan was just a kid his family had nicknamed him the wolf. And no, not of wall street. No, it was a much deeper meaning than that. You see, Jonathan was what some would call a loner, but to his mother it was so much more than that. Johnathan was strength. He was love. He was compassion. A true leader of this world, his mother felt. Although, she’d always feared that such would get him either killed or to a point where he’d contemplate doing it himself. The world was that nasty, but around the right people she knew that one day Johnathan would become the very thing the world needed—a hero.

It was college when it had all clicked for Jonathan. Something about how he felt about the world and people was loving, no matter how much they hated him. Again, he was just what the world needed.

“Hey Raymond, can I ask you a question?” asked Jonathan, to one of his classmates.

Raymond was a little like Jonathan. He was definitely a wolf but had found his pack long ago. Although they were in college, Raymond was what one would call popular in high school, which normally didn’t exist in college but oddly for the University of Washington it did.

“Yeah what’s up man?” said Raymond, stuffing his face with a bag of Cheetos Puffs.

“Have you ever felt like you were destined to do something in this life? Like, out of all the years you’ve been alone you can feel a responsibility coming on that will impact everyone if you succeed or fail,” said Jonathan.

“Gah… typical lone wolf,” sighed Raymond. “Who do you think you are, our Messiah now. Relax man, you’ll find your pack. Trust me, I felt the same way but then poof! Things just changed, ya know.”

“Yeah… I guess,” said Johnathan, unsure.

Jonathan still couldn’t feel a pinch of what Raymond had said would eventually come because the truth was, there was a part of him that still lingered the thought of one day he might just die alone. And not even like a cat lady. Just in complete darkness, no companion, alone, on a god-awful hospital bed being fed food probably worse than prison food.

By the sound of the bell, Jonathan picked up his book bag and headed out of the class into the hallway. He felt like a ghost. No one looked up at him or said hello, not even when he smiled, which he felt he’d practiced in the mirror so many times it was perfect. But at the end, none of it impressed anyone. It was even more of the reason to why he felt he didn’t have a chance at all. But once he’d made it to the bus stop, he’d figured he could read a Manga or two to take his mind off it a bit.

  Just a few pages in Jonathan could smell something strange in the air. Just ten blocks west of him. And for whatever reason, he’d felt the need to pursue in it.

“Better to walk than wait for a bus that’s already 10 minutes late,” Jonathan had convinced himself.

As Jonathan approached it, he could feel a faint heartbeat, and the smell would be much clearer to. Something like Iron, he assumed, which he worried could be nothing else but blood. But in all honesty, he had already known that that’s exactly what it was.

  Jonathans mother had warned him more times than what he could count about taking night classes on Friday’s, especially around the Capital Hill area. In her words, “That was when the freaks came out at night.” But for the most part all Jonathan had seen on those nights were drunken clubbers that had had more liquor than what they’d pride themselves in handling. It was man-child’s game.

  Once Johnathan had hit the corner, around an alley way was a long streak of blood that looked like it had been painted to the concrete like a giant paintbrush. For Seattle any would have assumed it was another form of graffiti, but this was just like in the comics Jonathan had read growing up. It was a crime scene, but what kind? he wondered. All kinds of thoughts had run through his mind. Was it a vampire? Was it some crazy Joker-like wannabe? But as Jonathan scooted his back against the cold brick wall a loud scream would let off, making his legs feel numb and his chest stiff.

“Help… Help me…” said a voice around the corner.

Jonathan remained silent. Besides, what the hell was a 20-year-old kid going to do.

“Please… I know you’re there,” spoke the voice again.

“Shit… how do they know I’m around the corner?” whispered Jonathan, to himself.

“Because I can smell ya,” coughed the voice. “You smell like old spice and fear. Now are you just going to hide back there all day and let me die or are you going to help.”

Johnathan then poked his head around the corner, and his eyes would grow wide. It was woman. She had gashes on her arms, legs and near her shoulder, still oozing with blood that was blacker than what he thought blood could ever get.

“What… what happened to you?” asked Jonathan, helping the woman up to her feet. “I’ll call 9-1-1.”

“No,” shouted the woman. “I’ll tell you later but first we need to get out of here and some place safe,” said the woman.

“But what could be safer than the ambulance?” asked Johnathan confused.

“Trust me,” said the woman. “If they found out what me or you were, then it wouldn’t be as safe as what you’re thinking right now. This way.”

The woman hopped further down the alley with Jonathan by her shoulder. It was longer than normal. In fact, Jonathan hadn’t recalled the alley ever existing yet their it was, nearly as long and narrow as a railroad.

“So, what did you mean back there? You know, about if they knew what we really were,” asked Jonathan.

“Such a young pup,” chortled the woman. “I’m surprised that there’s been any of you to breed and live to tell it.”

“Pup? What do you think I am, some kid or something? You look no older than me,” said Jonathan, annoyed.

“Thank you for the kind words but you have no idea,” said the woman. “I’ve seen more moons than an adult grey wolf.”

The woman then broke from Johnathan and pulled aside a giant metal trash bin that would take 50 men to move. Under it was a latch.

“How… how did you do that?” asked Johnathan, astounded.

“No time to explain, in here,” said the woman.

“You mean down there? In that pitch-black hole?” asked Johnathan.

“Ugh… such a pup you are. I tell you what, if you go down their I will tell you a secret about yourself that you don’t even know yet. And if you’re good, I just might even give you a scooby snack,” said the woman, sarcastically.

“Oh haha,” whispered Johnathan

Despite all that the woman promised, Jonathan thought long and hard about. Maybe he was walking into murder or maybe, just maybe, this was his chance to finally figure out why he’d felt the way he did his whole life. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No, like he was in wolfs clothing. But regardless of what he wanted from the woman, he could not deny that she was annoying and rude for someone who was getting their butt saved by whom she saw as a kid.

Still, Johnathan jumped down behind the woman and it would be completely black everywhere.

“I can’t see anything,” he said.

“Focus,” said the woman. “Control your breathing, listen to your heart and when they are both within sync of one another, open your eyes again.”

Jonathan closed his eyes, he took a deep breath and listened for his heart until it was in sync with his breathing. He then opened him.

“What… I can see…” said Jonathan. “But how?”

“I’ll go ahead and cut to the chase boy. You’re…” the woman paused, coughing up blood to the floor.

“I’m what?” asked Jonathan.

“Wow… Never struck you as not the gentlemen type…” coughed the woman. “But you’re going to need that. But seriously come overhear and help me will ya. And then I promise I’ll tell you. Just can’t say much with these wounds.”

“What do you want me to do?” asked Jonathan.

“Grab that needle and thread over there, on the table,” said the woman.

On the table was a needle and thread, but many other things that Jonathan felt himself slightly disturbed by. Was the woman a doctor? Or some sort of psychopath? There were just so many sharp objects. Objects that of which were certainly not designed for a cook.

“Do you see it?” asked the woman, impatient.

“Yeah, got it,” said Johnathan. “I’ll be right over.”

The woman had pulled up a chair and sat reverse in it.

“You ever do a stitch before?” asked the woman.

“No,” said Jonathan, nauseas by the sight of the woman’s wound. “But my mom when I was child taught me how to sew my ripped-up jeans. Its actually a funny story. I was…”

“I don’t need to here any stories right now!” interrupted the woman. “I’m bleeding out over as you can see.”

“Right… S-sorry,” said Johnathan.

“It’s just like sewing a pair of pants like you said, but be gentle,” said the woman, with a stern look on her face.

Slow and steady Johnathan closed the wounds that were carved all over the woman. When it was all over Johnathan would be covered in blood. Oddly, it made him feel hungry. What once smelled like iron, was now beginning to smell a little sweet, like syrup on pancakes. Inside, Johnathan could feel his skin boil and his heart pound with excitement. He wiped the drool from his mouth but for every time that he did it would get even worse.

“Oh boy,” said the Woman. “I guess your natural instinct is finally beginning to surface.”

Johnathan looked at his hands. They were trembling. He could’ve sworn he’d cut his fingernails the night before, but now they were as long as the woman’s if not longer.

“What’s happening to me?” asked Johnathan panicked. “Am I going to die?”

“Ha! Far from it! If anything, someone else just might if we don’t get you under control,” laughed the woman.

Jonathan stood speechless. He could feel the bones in his body crackling all around but strangely it had felt good. Like getting your back cracked after a long massage.

“Drink this,” said the woman. “It’ll make you feel better.”

From an old cabinet, the woman had pulled out a red cup, with plastic wrap covering the top of it. Once she’d pulled the covering off, Johnathan immediately felt a nauseating taste in his mouth.

“What is this?” he asked.

“You don’t want know,” said the woman. “But trust me it will make you feel better. A little less dangerous too for my sake.”

Johnathan nodded and then took down the cup as if he were drinking a glass of milk. And it had gone down smoother than expected.

“Well,” said the woman. “How do you feel?”

“Good… Good, thank you,” said Johnathan.

“Yup, told you it would work,” said the woman, with a grin. “It always does.”  

Gradually, Johnathan’s heart rate, and even his nails came back to their normal state.

“Sorry to cut this moment short, but please can you tell me what it is about me that’s so different than the rest?” begged Johnathan. “I mean, what was it that was just happening to me?”

“Wow, I mean, I honestly thought that you would’ve gotten the picture by just seeing what you saw with your hands,” said the woman. “But oh well, I guess the truth wouldn’t hurt at this point.”

Johnathan stood by and waited patiently for the woman to speak. He wasn’t naïve. He had pretty good idea of what he might’ve been, but still, he wanted to hear it from another’s lips.

“You’re a Werewolf,” said the woman. “But not the kind you see in those movies. You know, teen wolf etcetera.”

“Then what kind of wolf would I be if not any of those?” asked Johnathan.

“You unlike the wolf that attacked me can change into a full wolf, regardless it be day or night. I can smell all that royal privilege in your blood, and so naïve to see that it exists. I can’t lie, I’m kind of jealous.”

“I figured it was another one of us that did that to you,” said Johnathan, reassured. “But what do you mean royal privilege. I’m just an average joe.”  

The woman laughed.

“Hey, what’s so funny?” asked Johnathan, pissed.

“So, you’re telling me that your parents told you nothing?” asked the woman.

Johnathan shook his head.

“No. I mean, they always joked about me being a wolf, but that was always metaphorically speaking I assumed,” he said.

The woman then pulled out a chair.

“Sit down,” she said. “I need to see something.”

“Okay…” said Johnathan, sitting nervously.

The woman then grabbed Johnathan’s face with her cold and dry hands. It was as if she were dead, yet, very much alive from what Johnathan could tell.

“Hmm…” squinted the woman.

“What?” asked Johnathan.

“Who are your parents? What are their names?”

“Sasha and Trevon Barclay,” said Johnathan. “Why?”

The woman then fell back onto the floor. She wasn’t breathing. She was in complete awe by what Johnathan had told her.

“What’s going on?” asked Johnathan.

“You… you need to… we need to get you out of Seattle, now!” shouted the woman.

The woman’s voice alone put chills on the back of Johnathan’s neck.

“No! Not until you tell me the truth!” shouted Johnathan.

“That wolf…” said the woman. “The wolf that tried to kill me earlier was Bram. You see, Bram wants to be the superior of all werewolfes but in order to do that he needs to destroy all royal blood lines. That making you one of his targets.”

“No… We have to go to my mom and dads,” said Johnathan, panicked. “I have to tell them they’re in danger.”

“It too late,” said the woman, with sadness in her eyes. “They’re already gone.”

“What the hell are you talking about? I just talked to them a couple of days ago,” shouted Johnathan.

“I’m sure you did. But after that Bram found them, and from what I’ve heard he’s gotten your brother too,” said the woman. “Your family was the last of the royal blood lines. Its not a surprise they kept it a secret from you. You can’t be killed for the things you don’t know. And so, they thought.

“No, no, no, no, no… this cant be happening,” cried Johnathan.

It was just like he imagined. He was all alone. No family, no friends, no companion, just him and the darkness.

“I know what you’re thinking,” said the woman. “But don’t let it get to your head. Its more than likely the ones who are alone are the ones that are the strongest. And you and I can be strong together.”

“No!” shouted Johnathan. “If I got nothing to lose, then I guess the only thing I have left is to take out the big bad wolf then.”

“Don’t be ridiculous! That wolf will gobble you up and spit you out. Just look what he almost did to me.”

Out of nowhere the rough had come down and dust would be everywhere.

“What the hell was that?” asked Johnathan.

“Boy! Don’t move,” said the woman, fearfully.

As all the debris settled in the darkness sharp eyes lingered.

“Well, well, well,” said a voice. “Figured I’d find you down here, just never thought you’d have a present for me Fiona.”

“Fiona? Who’s Fiona?” whispered Johnathan.

“Oh, she didn’t tell you, did she?” said the voice. “Fiona is your aunt.”

Johnathan looked back at the woman. And her head would be pointed down to the ground.

“Is it true?” asked Johnathan. “Are you my aunt?”

The woman, known as Fiona, then nodded. But immediately, she’d jumped in front of Johnathan, gritting her teeth like a rabid dog.

“This isn’t going to happen the way you want it Bram,” said Fiona.”

Slowly, the eyes that lingered in the dark emerged themselves. Bram wasn’t anything like what the woman had described the royal wolfs to be. Bram wasn’t pure bred. He was an abomination. However, he was an abomination at the highest tier, which was undoubtedly strong enough the take on any purebred. It was said that the more wolfs like Bram killed, the more human hearts they were most likely to have eaten, the stronger they’d become. And Bram had well more than his fair share of it.

“It was you,” said Johnathan. “You’re the one that’s been all over the news lately. Corpses found in ally ways with no hearts.”

“So, whatcha want a kid, an autograph?’ laughed Bram.

To be Continued