Sunday, October 14, 2012

Issue Seventeen, Volume Four

From the Desk of the Editor;
Hello and welcome to this issue of Larks Fiction Magazine! In this issue we investigate beauty, surrealism, and horror of the human experience.

I would like to apologize for last week's issue being late. We thought it was better to wait till we had a full issue. I hope you enjoy and make sure to check out our older issues.

Daniel J. Pool

The god of yellow sun
By Charles Bernard

The lion eyed god has lost a battle
He had fought a thousand before
With the monsters of the north
For freedom he lived his life

Blood flowed beyond shores
He could have turned a blind eye
He could have grown a pot belly
He refused he stood for equality

Darkness he chased with a yellow sun
In the east our sun rose to freedom
Hope was restored through our god
Our burden he bore our pain he endured

For years he fought demons
Victory was the only option
In marshes, dark forests, tricky waterfalls
He took war to protect our lands

Blazing was rays of our yellow sun
Treachery arouse to blunt its shine
He made a pact with his enemies
Under the shade we fought our way
Years have gone by
Youth energy had fled him
Dawn has come to bless him
In peace he slept when life light dimmed

Follow Charles @

By Caitlin Hoffman

    At the moment Taylor is smoking a pipe (a wooden one, of course), dancing about on the rings of Saturn and wondering where her cat went. She’s (probably) looking down at her watch, wondering when the aftershocks from the apocalypse-to-come will scald off the hair she hates so much. ("Bad dye-job. Long story." she might say.)

    She stares back and forth and bathes in the yellowish, orangey clouds. ("What colour is that? Tangerine? Peach? The shade of acid reflux?")

    Her eyes burn with an intellectuality that was often the onset of estrangement from her peers and seen as no more than unappealing pride to those she wished would respect her. But for Taylor, that’s all over now.

    Somewhere on the fifth ring of Saturn, Taylor is contemplating Life. With the gift of retrospect, she can see that existing as a homosapien wasn’t all bad. Limiting, perhaps, but not the first prize winner of the arsenic-laced hell-juice recipe. Perhaps it hadn’t been a punishment as she had first believed. Perhaps being condemned to a mortal shell was the only way she could fathom her role in the universe.

    (As well as her role in the end of it.)

    This flesh had been a gift to her.

    Taylor stalks about, puffing smoke and ash. In the gaseous swirls, the anti-life of the atmosphere, she sings out,

    "Heeere, kitty kitty... Ouch!"

    Her toe gets clipped on a passing moon rock. She eyes it in distaste but wastes no words on its passing; nerve endings are now no more than a commodity, one whose expiration is imminent.

    (Maybe) she’s starting to regret that little mishap back home. Not that there was much of a home to begin with. Taylor pretended to be beyond the need of external companionship, but like all other humans, she was (to an extent) cursed with the urge to be social and the desire to be loved.

    Which is why, all alone in the mist of rolling hydrogen, she hopes to find her cat.

    "There you are, Snuffles!" Gladly, she scoops up the white ball of cat called Snuffles, who mews impatiently as if to say: "Took you long enough!"

    Taylor rolls her pipe to one side of her mouth, lavishing her feline friend with awkward half-kisses all over his well-combed, long-haired pelt, ashamed and elated. She is ashamed that she needs companionship and elated that she has found it.

    Maybe then they will sit on the fifth or fourth or thirteenth planetary ring, pawing at passing puffs of helium, licking up colour and counting stars. They just might share some sort of meditative mind-meld, one in which they can express their gratitude for not being alone at the almost-end of the world.

    "I’m the worst supervillain ever." Taylor might say to Snuffles, who will look at her with plaintive, partially suspicious eyes, only to surrender to the warmth in her arms.

    (Maybe) they’ll cuddle. (Maybe) they’ll make plans to roast marshmallows on a hot, crisp moon.

    Taylor is at a safe distance, ready to watch the fireworks.

    She stares outward, a bundle of cat fur mewing unpredictably in her arms, and with one last look behind her leans out into space, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of all those atomic bombs playing leapfrog on a blue-green planet four spaces over, appearing to her as breathless and beautiful as butterflies.
 The End
About the Author;
Writer's Bio: Caitlin writes books nobody reads. You can find one of them here:

by D. Robert Grixti

The numbers on the digital clock blinked ominously: 3:21 am.

A scream cut through the night, waking Desmond with a start. His heart already beating at a manic pace, Desmond sat upright, throwing the heavy quilt covering him effortlessly to the floor.

He knew right away that Janine needed him. There were only two other people in the castle: Janine and the priest, Father Oakwood. The priest had been disturbed by their find on the upper floor after dinner and had decided to go back to town and fetch the police, and that had left only Desmond and Janine to stay behind and document what happened during the night.

He fumbled across the oak cabinet beside the bed for his glasses and when he found them and put them on, he was greeted with the eerie sight of the guest bedroom, dark grey in the quiet twilight of the early morning. He vaulted off the bed and started to run to the closed door, before he remembered the video camera in the sports bag he'd left on the dresser. For a split second, he pondered taking the few seconds required to dig the camera out and bring it with him - he'd come here to record a haunting, after all, but common sense reminded him that Janine was in danger, and that he had no time to waste.

Hope she doesn't mind, he said silently to himself as he nudged the door open and edged over the threshold into the hallway, where the stale air chilled his spine and made him immediately regret going to bed the night before in nothing but an old T-shirt and his underwear.

He had to take a moment to orient himself in the darkness but when he finally knew where he was, he leaned forward and sprinted down the hall to the last door at the very end which was Janine's bedroom. Biting down the urge to let out an audible shiver from the almost unnatural coldness, he wrapped his fingers around the brass doorknob and pushed. With a whimpering creak, the heavy door swung open, and he lunged into the bedroom, ready to fight off whatever awaited within.

He felt a brief, almost unannounced prickle of fear as he looked around to spot the foe, but the room was completely empty, save for the dust covered dresser in the corner and the double bed that was neatly made, never slept in. Janine's notebook lay open on the pillow, the same place she'd thrown it down after being interrupted by Oakwood's call from the upper floor.

'Where the hell did she go?' Desmond asked out loud, bewildered at the sight of the unoccupied room. It was obvious that she'd never returned after dinner, even though he'd walked back with her after the priest decided to head back to town. He'd decided to retire to bed shortly after, and he'd bid Janine goodnight and made her promise not to leave her bedroom. Oakwood hadn't wanted them to stay behind in the castle, but they had a job to do and wanted to see it through to the end. The priest had sensed the danger. He'd had told them both that it was dangerous to leave their rooms in the middle of the night because of the phenomena, and after finding the decomposing body upstairs they'd been unsettled enough to not think twice about heeding the advice, but-

What was that?

A flicker of movement registered in Desmond's periphery vision, interrupting his frantic thoughts. Acting on impulse, he turned to face it, and caught a faint, almost completely invisible sliver of a shadow, darting across the floor and burying itself in the darkness of the hallway outside the open door.

His heart started to beat faster.

Relax, relax, it's just a shadow, he assured himself. Probably just something from outside.

He turned to the tiny window beside Janine's bed, expecting to see the shadow again, or a dancing tree branch that had cast it, but there was no such thing to be seen; all he saw was the cloudy sky outside, where the pale full moon shined brightly.

Then what the Hell did I just see?

Desmond shuddered, and a wave of foreboding seemed to overcome the room. At once, he had the unmistakable feeling of being watched by unseen eyes. He spun around on the spot, scanning the dark corners of the room for the source of the disturbance, but he saw nothing but emptiness and the disjointed silhouette of fixtures reduced to abstract shapes. Silently telling himself to get a grip, he shook his head and put the niggling feeling of dread aside. There was still Janine: he had to find her, and get her out of here.

The wooden creak of a door slowly opening echoed through the hallway outside from somewhere in the thick blackness, making Desmond jump.

He turned on the spot to face the shadowy hallway again and at the very end of it, only just visible in the dark, he saw a heavy, ornate door, ajar only a little at the moment but swaying open wider of its own accord as he watched.

From his explorations earlier in the day, he knew that this specific door was the library, but it had been locked tightly when he'd tried it earlier. Now, however, it was open, and even though he didn't recall hearing any footsteps as he crossed from his bedroom to Janine's, someone was in there, and it looked like they'd entered in quite a hurry.

'Janine?' Desmond called out as he slowly walked out of the bedroom, edging closer to the beckoning door. 'Are you hiding in there? I'm coming to find you!'

He half expected to hear Janine call back, just so he knew she was in there, but he received no answer, save for the chilling scrape of the door opening wider, as if being manipulated by an invisible hand.

At last he came to the threshold of the door, where he could just make out the vast library in the darkness. The elaborate, carved edges of the many bookshelves within loomed in the shadow, only just discernible from the blackness that filled the room. By squinting, he could make out narrow alleyways between the massive shelves that twisted and converged into a sprawling maze of paper and wood.

Good place to hide, he noted.

'Janine?' he called out again, as the hairs on his neck bristled at the notion of losing himself amongst the shelves. He couldn't explain why, but he was trying to avoid having to enter the room, if it was possible. Deep down in his gut, the horrifying awareness that if he crossed the threshold, he'd be lost forever lurked ominously, unexplainably. 'Janine, are you in there?'

There was no reply. Total silence hung in the air, the door having finally come to rest against the dirty stone wall. Could she hear him calling? If she was in there, could she have gone so far in that it was impossible for his voice to carry through the darkness? Or was there another reason that she might be remaining silent? Was there something in this place so frightening, so evil, that she wouldn't answer for fear of alerting it, even to him?

Don't be stupid, Desmond, he admonished himself. Get in there and find her!

He glimpsed a flicker of movement amongst the bookshelves, as if something was receding into the obscuring darkness, trying to remain hidden.

'Janine, I'm coming in, stay there!' he called out, stepping through the doorway.

A gust of freezing air whooshed in from the corridor behind him, almost knocking him off his feet, and the next thing he heard was the creak of the door moving once again, before it slammed shut with a crash behind him, leaving him in total darkness.

'Damn!' he swore, his heart skipping a beat as his ears rung from the cacophony. 'What the Hell's going on?'

Did the wind blow it shut?

Not even bothering to try and stifle the raw terror that had overcome him, and completely forgetting all notions of looking for Janine, he spun around and lunged for the door, determined to escape from the castle. He fumbled in the darkness until he felt the cold metal of the doorknob and twisted it clockwise, ready to make a run for it. With a congested grunt, he slammed his shoulder into the door to push it open. It collided painfully with the thick wood, creating a loud thump. The door shook, but didn't budge.

'Damn it, what is this?' Desmond snarled in anger, rubbing his aching shoulder and trying the door again. It remained steadfastly closed.

Locked maybe? he wondered, feeling around for a catch. I didn't hear anything lock when it closed. What could have-

Oh, shit. No, no. It can't be.

'I can't get out!'

Unbidden, his mind ran through a memory from earlier in the evening, when he had tried the door before dinner. It wouldn't open then, even though he had they key but it had opened of its own accord just before. Suddenly, he realised what was happening, and he felt his muscles tighten with fear. The door wasn't locked, after all - someone, something was holding it shut from the other side, something that wanted to trap him in here.

Damn it! What do I do now?

He swore loudly and kicked at the door with his bare foot. Why did he have to come rushing in here like a damn fool? He turned once more, to face the darkness of the library, wondering if there was another way out, if only he could hope to possibly see it in the blackness.

It was his only option.

Maybe Oakwood would return to the castle and save him. He doubted it: it was a five hour drive from the castle back to Preston. It was a very small chance, if any, that the priest would be back in time.

He began to make his way over cautiously through the first row of shelves, watching carefully for anything he could use as a weapon, poking out between the thick volumes, when once again he was struck with the unshakable feeling that he was being watched by something malevolent.

Something moved, barely pronounced, ahead of him.

'Janine, where are you?' he called out.

The feeling of being watched grew more intense.

Oh God, he whispered, following it into the shelves. Please let it be her.

Please let it be her.

He saw something undefinable edge around a corner into another row of shelves. He broke into a run and chased after it.

If it was Janine, she could help him escape. There had to be a way out of here. He wasn't trapped. He refused to believe it.

He picked up his speed.

Somewhere in the distance, a pinprick of light flickered.

Come on! Keep going!

He emerged into a reading area at the rear of the library. Along the back wall, a heavy wooden desk was pushed up in front of a blockaded window. A dying oil lantern sat on top of it over an open book, its tiny flame feebly wavering from side to side as it consumed the last drops of fuel. As he approached it, it died with a slight whisper, leaving him alone in the darkness.

He turned around, to try and see if he could spot a way out of the room. All he could see were the shelves he had just passed through.

There was nowhere else to go.

Overcome by hopelessness, Desmond sunk to his knees, screaming as loudly as he could for someone, anyone, to come and help him. As he shouted in desperation, he saw, for the very last time, movement in the shadows in front of him. His screams degenerated quickly into a frantic sobbing, and he shook uncontrollably as he watched the short, slender figure in the darkness coming gradually closer. Soon, the sobs slowed down and he was silent, transfixed upon the shadowy body moving through the bookshelves towards him. Its face was hidden in the darkness and its body, too, was obscured, but it was definitely a human silhouette, and even though it made no sounds, no footsteps as it glided towards him, he thought that it was possible, after all, that all may not be lost. Perhaps it could be-?

'Janine?' he whispered, as the figure moved out of the shadows, coming into clear view.

It wasn't Janine.


'Did you find anything?' asked the priest, his voice congested with fatigue from a sleepless night. He had tried to call Desmond and Janine when he got back to Preston just after half past three. They hadn't answered. He'd tried again after the police left to investigate, an hour later. There was still no response. It wasn't like them. They were used to late night phone calls. He was worried.

The police sergeant sat down at the table in front of him and solemnly sipped his coffee. He sighed forlornly, and shook his head.

'Three bodies. One upstairs in the art gallery - we identified him as Colin Croshaw, a cat burglar who's been missing for two weeks; he obviously intended to get hold of some of the old paintings - and two in the library, trapped in a corner up the back. Your friends, I'm afraid.'

He swallowed another mouthful of coffee.

'Students from the university, weren't they?'

Oakwood nodded.

'Journalism students, they told me. They wrote for their campus paper, did a column about urban legends and ghost stories. I'd worked with them before a few times, helping them cover the theological aspects of a few bits of local folklore. I went to the castle with them because otherwise they'd have gone alone, but…'

The sergeant leaned forward.

'Forensics are up there now, but, personally, I doubt they'll find anything. The coroner's already looked at the bodies. No apparent cause of death. Says it's like their hearts just stopped. I don't know what to think…'

 'I don't know what to think either,' said Oakwood standing up and crossing the room to the wine cask opposite. 'All I know is that something about that place just felt wrong, and now I know why people stay away.'

He poured himself a glass, and took a sip. Behind him, the police officer stretched and climbed to his feet.

'Well, I'd better be off then. Have to let the evening papers know about the investigation. We'll be expected to try and find something, even if we have to conclude that these people were killed by ghosts.'

Oakwood walked him to the door and saw him out. He watched the dirty police car recede down the road in front of the church, until it vanished behind a thicket of trees.

He sighed softly and sunk into an armchair in front of a fireplace.

What a waste, he thought, sipping his wine. Two kids dead, and nobody to blame.

Now he was alone.

'Should be glad that at least I had the foresight to get out of there while I still could,' he said to nobody in particular, closing his eyes.

As he started to drift off to sleep, a strange sense of foreboding prickled in the depths of his mind.

Somebody was watching him.


About the Author;
D. Robert Grixti is a speculative and horror fiction author and indie video game developer hailing from Melbourne, Australia. He writes because he likes telling stories. His first novel, Sun Bleached Winter is to be released in December, 2012. Follow him at!/DRobertGrixti or at

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