THE HERO AND THE HORROR • by Kevin Shamel

The day came lilac and hazy. Trees whispered sluggish, cotton greetings. A crow, from its high cedar perch, blasted a call to its mate three trees down.

I sat on the porch and watched the birds fly over — smudges reflected in my black morning mug.

Crows in my coffee. Not the best of signs.

The coming night promised a full moon and a total lunar eclipse. The mumbling morning newsman said to look to the east. I turned off the radio.

Then she came walking down the street.

I knew she needed help, even before she came through the fog. She made straight for me, like she knew I was sitting there all along.

I met her at the gate, and let her in without a word exchanged.

Her hair and clothes were laced with dew.

Inside the house, as she shook, she told me about the Horror following her. On its way for me.

“But why?” I asked. I led her to the couch. I put down my coffee.

“Your poems.”

“I knew it.” A falling sensation. “So they’re real now.”

“As real as I,” she answered.

I took her hands. “You’re the Banshee.”

“I will be, though I wish it wasn’t so.”

“What do we do?”

She slumped on the couch. I noticed blood in the corner of her mouth. “I just die. My job was to warn you.”

I glanced out the window. “What do I do?”

“Run, stupid.”

I ran.

The Horror tore through the house behind me. I heard the Banshee shriek. Strobes of white and golden light beat across my back, snapshots of the yard filled my eyes as she gave her life for mine — soul fire. I flew over the flashing fence.

My ankle snapped as I landed, my house exploded, and I took a crunching stagger into my neighbor’s pool. The water saved me.

Fire seared the air. The fence blew over the pool — shrapnel from my house buried in its blasted boards. The Horror rode the shockwave of the explosion, screaming its rage at having lost me, trailing tattered black webs of rotted fear from its shriveling form.

I stayed under until I was sure I’d drown. I surfaced as scorched paper rained down upon the pool.

Crows in my coffee.

I gathered every charred page.

I found the spine and back cover of the tome, and two blank pages, mostly unburned. I’ve written this account on the pages, here under the eclipsing moon. The night is red around me, and the wail of the Banshee echoes in my head.

I’ll set this all to flame as the moon comes out, to finish this awful story. And I’ll not write poems in the backs of magic books again, especially in those with specific warnings against doing so, no matter how romantic and heroic I think myself on that day.


Kevin Shamel has never been one to scribble notes in the margins, but he has used the blank pages at the ends of books for various reasons. Never magic books.


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 average 5 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Gerard Demayne

    Shades of Hyperion.

  • I love the opening line and “Crows in my coffee. Not the best of signs.” I love fantasy/horror fiction that blends in lyrical elements like this one. Well done!

  • Kevin,

    Good stuff. A fun, dark read. Loved this detail: I stayed under until I was sure I’d drown. I surfaced as scorched paper rained down upon the pool. Put me there.

  • rumjhum

    Tight writing. Vivid details. Great fantasy. Look forward to more from you. 🙂

  • K.C. Ball

    Howl on, Kevin, howl on. 🙂

  • Oonah V Joslin

    I thought to myself… is his poetry that bad??? 😉

  • K.C. Ball

    Oooooona! That’s a joke, isn’t it? ;P

  • Thank you, everyone. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had fun with this one.

    I think his poetry is that GOOD, Oonah. 😉

  • “Crows in my coffee. Not the best of signs.” Yum.
    Lyrical, tightly written, well done. I LOVE it.

  • Cool story!

  • Thank you, Gay and Scott. “Yum” and “cool” are good!

  • I, too, love the “crows in my coffee” line.

  • 5*–Oh, so good!

  • Thank you, Rena and DJ!

  • Bloody Hell….fifth time ive tried to write this comment…silly broken comment system.

    Like before….great story…loved the first descriptions…your writing keeps going from strength to strength Kevin

    • What was the problem? Comment wasn’t showing up?

      • M.Sherlock

        indeedy

  • Nicholas

    Bravo, Kevin! A little tour de force, this one. If EDF ever publishes a print anthology, I hope this one is included.
    –Ozment

    • There will be a print anthology. Mr. Shamel, however, has the fortunate tendency to produce a ton of great fiction, which will make it difficult to pick which should be included.

      We’ll probably rely on star ratings, so vote for your favorites!

  • Thank you, M. and Ozment! Those are some mighty kind words from both of you. Wow. Thank you.

  • mark dalligan

    Hi Kevin,

    good strong writing. Liked the humour in the MC paying attention to ‘signs’ and ignoring a specific written warning in a Magic book.

    Cheers

    Mark

  • Ah! Thank you, Mark.

  • jennifer walmsley

    Excellent. All the ingredients for a scary horror story.

    Jennifer

  • Chaz Siu

    Nicely done, Kevin. beautiful descriptions and a clever story!

    Minor thought: When the hero dropped into the pool with the snapped ankle, I initially thought his head remained above water, or his ears, else how well could he perceive the shockwave, the tatters of black fear, the scream of the Horror to the (descriptive) extent described? So I was a tad surprised to find he was fully submerged. That must be the Virgo engineer in me.. 🙂

    Great story,
    Chaz

  • Thank you, Jennifer and Chaz.

    You’ve got a point, Chaz. I imagine that he wasn’t totally submerged until things (like the Horror and fence) screamed over him. Sorta flailing, and ducking under as best he could, until he got himself submerged.

    I imagine flashes of fire, things whizzing past, and churning pool-water.

  • GMoney

    Very imaginative and original. I liked the pace and the explanation at the end. Definitely could see the scenes in my mind.
    Good stuff!

  • Thanks G. Glad you liked it.

  • 🙂 Liked the ending, the middle, and the beginning, and all the writing in between. Liked the descriptions and your imagination. I guess crows in your coffee was the prompt for this story? Well done.

  • Thank you, Hasmita. It was the crows, the purplish mist, and the trees. The rest just wrote itself. I had to get up and take my coffee to the computer.

  • Frank Boland

    My three favorite authors…Vince Flynn, W.E.B. Griffin, and Le Pink Panther! Kevin your writing gets better every time. It never fails to amaze me, that the same guy I knew in high school has become such a talent. I am sending this link out to all the friends and family. Keep it coming and take care of that family of yours. I wish you all the best brother!

  • Thanks, Frank! What a giant gob of great things to say. I’m glad you liked it. Thanks, man.