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Ethereal Syb, Hannie
Sep 16, 2022
In Short Stories
➼ Title: That One Night ➼ Word count: 750 ➼ Warnings: Graphic details ➼ Troptember: Plagued by Nightmares What a beautiful moon it is today. Or should I say, moons? There was the bigger one, the older sister, Deihiri, and the smaller, younger brother, Abos. I watch it from the window, an arm over my husband. He looks beautiful in the light, a mixture of orange candlelight and silver moonlight. How peaceful he looks. His chest rises and falls, and my heart follows the rhythm. Watching it, I realize I must sleep. The most hateful thing in my life. I clutch the amethyst pendant hanging onto a thread around my neck. May the Gods bless me as I traverse the realm of sleep. I gently close my eyes, letting my body shut down one by one. Toes, knees, arms, and finally my face. I slowly relax, thinking of all things beautiful. Sleep comes in swift, gentle waves. Something tickles against my cheek and I jolt awake. The room is empty. Empty. I am on the cold, hard ground surrounded by walls that remind me too much of my childhood house. Realization hits me like a slap. Oh Stars, it is happening. I claw my neck, searching for the amethyst. Gone, gone like everything I have. The floor is filling up with a thick liquid. It smells like a slaughterhouse. I scramble up, stifling a scream. Blood. I turn around and find a hallway, leading somewhere far, but there is light. I run without caring what I will see. I run for what seems like an eternity. I can still feel the blood on my clothes, thick and smelly. I want to cry and scream, but nothing happens. I just run and run and run. ‘Giving in only makes it stronger. Just keep running or fighting. Don’t feed it,’ a voice echoes around the dark hallway. Zai. My husband’s voice encourages me and I run faster. The door finally gets closer. I slam into the door and bruise my face. It matters not, I must leave. Bright light shines through the frame, promising an end to this hellscape. A smile crawls up my face. As soon as I touch the door knob, everything around me dissolves. Walls, door, ground. I’m in a lake filled with blood. Driftwood floats my way and I grab it, holding it under my arms. There are things in this blood and one of the swims by my leg. I slap my mouth, swallowing a scream. Stars, save me. I pray to the moons and stars, every one of them, begging and bargaining. I cannot see land anywhere. Everything is red: the sky, the moons. As I close my eyes, I can feel the driftwood change into something else. I run a finger across it. What I find freezes my blood. A severed arm. I’m holding a severed arm. Panic settles in, burrowing deep in my heart and blocking my lungs. The red light reveals something else: a tattoo. More precisely, High House Alidras's coat of arms. It is my father’s arm and I let go as quickly as possible. The sudden motion pushes me underwater. Moons, save me. Stars, save me. The lake drains out and I fall. Nothing makes sense anymore. This is like any nightmare I’ve had. The floor is made of wood, and a fire crackles in the fireplace. This feels familiar. The room’s door breaks and in come a hoard of people, dressed in HIgh House fashion from the last decade. They surround me, and each one of them has a wound on them. Some are missing limbs, others have holes through them. Some are missing heads. High House Alidras. “WHY DIDN’T YOU SAVE US, RILLON NE ALIDRAS? IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT. EVERYTHING IS YOUR FAULT. WE ARE DEAD BECAUSE OF YOU.” Every single one of them screams, a medley of nightmarish voices. ‘I wanted to. I couldn’t. I was a child,’ I want to scream back, but nothing comes out. Only ugly sobs and hot tears. The smell of rotting corpses overwhelms me, clouding my senses. The circle of corpses closes in around me, clawing me, scratching me, wounding me. ‘Stop. Please. Is there no God who hears my cries?’ I can only cry, as the shuffling, rotting feet scrape against me. “Rillon? Rillon! Wake up, your spasming! It’s just a dream, wake up!” The voice gets louder and louder until the corpses disappear and I’m on a soft surface. I am back in my room, with my husband, on my bed. Yet, the rotting smell still lingers.
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Ethereal Syb, Hannie
Sep 12, 2022
In Short Stories
➼ Title: The Red Lord ➼ Word count: 555 ➼ Warnings: Graphic ➼ Troptember: Noble Demon The round table was designed specifically for the five that sat around it. The table cloth has intricate patterns of art, and the head of it, as it is called, carries the ‘crown’. The crown is where the Red Lord, lord of fear and death and blood. Today is a special day, as the Red Lord plans on committing his first, open crime against the crown of Vasil. His first, second, third, and fourth in command sat on the table, drenched in sweat and anxiety, The Red Lord was not one to kid. “My lord, you do understand we are going over the semantics of committing a crime of war against the crown in the open.” Aeryn, the fourth-in-command, said with a trembling voice. The rest of the commands were wise enough to keep their mouths shut. Only God knows what happened to those who talk against the Lord. Only one candle lit the room, and the light was more than enough to highlight the Red Lord’s most well-known features. He is the most beautiful man known across the land (for those who’ve seen him) and acts as the Devil. “Yes, Aeryn, I do understand that we are going over the semantic of committing a crime of war against the crown in the open. Is that not why you sit at this table as an equal?” A cold shiver runs down everyone’s spine. The cruel mocking gave Aeryn the chance to sit down and shut his trap. “Now, back to our lovely discussion. We know that the fires will be set a few minutes before sundown. I want the houses closest to the manor emptied. I do not care what you do, but no one should be inside while the fires. The school connected to the manor is to be closed as well. Break a wall, destroy a class, I do not care. Finally, the staff. Our spy inside will escort every staff out of the manor while another sets it on fire. “Bastard King Noahm deserves this and more. He build it upon the sacred land of the Aihne people. At least, thank God, he had the decency not to destroy the shrine and cut down their sacred tree. Perhaps I shall leave him for now, simply for that. But we need to gather forces as well, make more allies.” His voice becomes more distant as he speaks about allies. Ever since Empress Thahns son, Bastard King Noahm, took over, the kingdom become a new hell. Taxes skyrocketed, people went missing and the king slept freely. “Of course, my Lord. I understand. But if we are, indeed, going to declare war on him, we might as well kill a few innocents. It will cement our declarations and show him how serious we are. It is weird, my Lord, that you care for peasants. Perhaps you have grown to become soft like—” before he could finish his sentence, a dagger embedded itself deep in his throat. The Red Lord’s aim was next to known. “Who’s there! Come here, get this body, bury it in the cemetery under a different name.” He wiped his hands and yawned as if he had not just killed his fourth-in-command. “Why don’t we discuss further, Ofal, Nome, and Grai, hm?” His smile is as cold as his heart. How fitting.
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Ethereal Syb, Hannie
Sep 09, 2022
In Short Stories
➼ Title: Finally, At Last ➼ Word count: 988 ➼ Warnings: Death of a loved one/Car Accident ➼ Troptember: Reunions The bus twists and turns in the road, or so it feels. If my count is right, seven people have been thrown onto someone in the last thirty minutes. The things you do to meet a friend who lives far away after twenty years. I almost fall on the old lady, but the bus stops just in time. Unfortunately, I bump into a kid in front of me, who drops his lollipop. Cue the waterwork, I say rolling my eyes. Reaching into my wallet, I pull out a ten-dollar bill. “Keep it, and shut up. But whatever you can.” As if a switch was turned off, he shuts up. Even the few drops of tears that leaked out seemed to have disappeared. Making my way around people, I finally step out. Not even a second later, the bus starts and whizzes past. Sighing, I start walking uphill towards the city. It’s a popular getaway among busy workaholics. I’m neither busy nor a workaholic. My friend, Anders, lived a few miles down the hill and suggested this place for us to meet. I must admit, it is a beautiful city. Pastel-coloured buildings, mild sunshine, crystal clear sky. I check my phone and follow the blue line in the Maps. ‘Walk ahead for five hundred meters and take a right. Your destination will be on the left.’ Following its advice, I start to walk slowly, admiring the cartoon-like houses and perfectly trimmed bushes. I take the right it said and voila, there it is. ‘Cafe of the Gods of the Mountains’. It was a mouthful to pronounce, so I never bothered. Sudden realization hits me worse than my temptation to slap the crying child. A cafe for the gods had been a game we played as children. I would be the barista, God of ‘the Coffees and Teas and Muffins’, while Anders was various customs: ‘God of Matcha Tea Latte’, ‘Goddess of Iced Tea and Carrot Muffins’, ‘Patron Saint of French Vanillas’. You get the idea. I was surprised he remembered that—we played that when we were six. Laughing softly, I cross the street. Even the cafe looked like our imaginary one. Did he own this place? It wasn’t packed today, since it was still time till school ended. There was no one at the counter, so I rang the little golden bell. “Welcome to the Cafe of the Gods of the Mountains, what would you like today?” A man with the most dead eyes and a sombre voice walks to the counter from the kitchen. “Greetings, God of the Coffees and Teas and Muffins! I would like to receive a large double chocolate chip frappuccino with three pumps of white mocha syrup, please!” I put on my childhood facade of ‘Patron Saint of French Vanillas’, she was always the nicest. A long pause, too long for comfort, and the guy narrows his eyes. “Right. Yeah. Of course. That’ll be $5.35. Cash or card?” Before I could reply, he placed the card machine in front of me. I didn’t mind it, since I wanted to pay with a debit. I tap the card on the machine, get a nod of approval from the man and smile. I felt weirdly chirpy. The last time I felt like this was when I saw my ex step on dog poo. Ah, those days. Someone rings the little bell hurriedly, almost annoyed. Looking back at the counter, I see the dead-eyed man. “Do you want your drink or not?” Still keeping my smile, I take the drink. “Thank you, oh Great God. May you be blessed with the light of a thousand suns and the might of a thousand beasts!” Our way of saying thank you. Another long, awkward pause. “Yeah, I wish. You have a great day, though.” And off he goes back into the kitchen, leaving the cafe unmanned. I look at the drink, marvelling at the beauty. It was too beautiful for words. I almost didn’t want to drink it. Almost. Finding a table outside under the shade of a pink umbrella, I quickly sat. It had a plastic straw, and it made the drink much better. I care for the turtles, but I care more for my plastic straws. Paper straws tasted like cardboard. The drink flows down my tongue and throat. I could swim in the drink forever. It’s three in the afternoon, just a few more minutes till Anders arrives. I take this time to reminisce about our childhood together. Our first meeting comes to mind. He was playing in the park, all alone. We were four years old at the time. His parents were nowhere to be seen, so I ran to him. Making friends was much easier when you were young. We clicked instantly and played for hours until a lady who looked like his mothers took him home. I remember holding his hand on our first day of school, while he cried and waved at his— My phone rings loudly, bringing curious glances from pedestrians. Embarrassed, I pick the call, not look at who it is. “Hello? Who is this?” I snap. “Are you Hebi? I am Anders’ mother speaking. If I’m correct, Anders was to meet you on Getaway City, right?” Getaway City was what everyone called it. The voice sounds so strained and… heartbroken. My heart tenses a little, but I calm down and ask the right question. “Yes, Ms. Kolin! Anders hasn’t arrived yet. Is something wrong?” I try to sound happy, hoping the emotion would carry across. “Ye—” Her voice breaks, like she’s been crying. “Yes. Anders is in the hospital at the moment. He got into a car crash a few minutes ago. Doctors think he won’t survive. Just… Just thought you’d like to know.” She finally cracks and starts crying. She cuts the call mid-sob, but I’m too far away to hear that. Anders. Is. Dying.
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Ethereal Syb, Hannie
Sep 05, 2022
In Short Stories
➼ Title: Coffee Temple ➼ Word count: 460 ➼ Warnings: N/A ➼ Troptember: Pining Haelburgh City is the best place in the whole entire world to witness Fall. Yes, that was sarcastic. If you have the choice to go anywhere else, seize the damn chance and flee. Loud, busy streets, screaming people, loud cars and constant puddles forming—even if it hadn’t rained in weeks. Magic! The only thing that brightens my day and life, in general, is Coffee Temple. It’s a normal Cornershop cafe, but it sells the best frappuccinos and chocolate chip muffins. It also has the best barista. Ah, Jonathan. Everything about him was amazing. His brown, wavy hair. Hazel eyes that light up when he makes coffee. His gorgeous, gorgeous smile. I shake out of the fantasy and find myself in front of a light pole. A second late and I’d have broken my nose. Sighing, I get back on the right path, skipping and waving as I make my way to Coffee Temple. The fresh smell of coffee hits my nose like a punch. A good punch. I hear a small jingle as I open the door. “Welcome! You're our first— Chandru! It’s you. Usual?” Ah, that voice. I could fall asleep to it anytime. His smile is a bit wider than usual. The usual is when he deals with other customers. I’m probably imagining this. I get back to Earth and reply with my best smile. “Yep. Give me the best Frappuccino and chocolate chip muffin in Haelburgh City!” I slam my palm on the counter. He laughs and pats my arm. It sends a tingle down my back, like a spider crawling down. I sit down at a table and watch him work his way around the machines. There’s a small mole on his right-hand index finger. How did I not notice that? He blends the ice with the milk and syrup. I hear a hum coming from him and try to pinpoint the song. Claire De Lune, Debussy. So he listens to classical music. It would explain his t-shirt—Mozart wearing air pods. “Order up for the best customer!” He rings a bell and I jog over. “Thank you, Oh Great God of Frappuccinos and Chocolate Chip Muffins. I shall always be indebted to you.” I speak with a posh accent and bow, stifling giggles. Jonathan pats my head. “Rise, my child. May your day go as bright as the suns that seem to be glowing in your eyes.” I rise and he pauses. “I’ll have a special ‘cino ready for you tomorrow, I’ve been working on something. It reminds me of you.” He winks at me and I blush, sliding the money over. I grab the frap and muffin, smiling awkwardly. “Have a great day!” I nod, smile again and rush for the door. What was that?
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Ethereal Syb, Hannie
Sep 03, 2022
In Short Stories
➼Title: The Last Leaf ➼ Word count: 408 ➼ Warnings: Mentions the word suicide ➼ Troptember: Gaia's Lament I lean back on the tree, the last alive tree on Earth. It was true what they said centuries ago, that the Earth was dying. Many lived in the fantasy that it would take millennia, but Time caught up and brought with it the Reaper. The oceans were polluted, all fishes were dead—save for the ones that were in aquariums, although none are left on earth—and the rivers and ponds dried up. The entire Amazon forest was dead, mostly from forest fires but the rest they took along with them. Where? Off into space. Maybe the Moon, or Mars. The newest habitable colony is in Europa. Everyone who wanted to leave this dying planet paid an arm and a leg to get on board the space ships. A small population, a few thousand of us, decided to stay. We were born here, and would die here, along with our dear planet. Mass murder, a few of the leavers called it. Suicide, the rest decided. It wasn’t either. We liked to think we would be the last inhabitants of Earth, scavenging the little food left, singing and dancing to our deaths. It might sound depressing, but thinking that perhaps, your name would go down in the future books across the solar system, “The Ones Who Decided To Stay Back” is a fun thought indeed. I am the only one, it seemed, who was outside and lamenting. The rest of them are inside, as I can hear the chirpy and fun songs. I could hear bits of Japanese, Swedish and Tamil. Somewhere inside, my mother would be there, crying to herself, screaming internally, ‘WHY DID I STAY BACK?!’ like many others. It was a lost cause, as the last ship was leaving Earth in a few minutes. Among us, there were groups, based on emotional stability. Ones who still think they can survive, grow plants and resurrect the Earth. Rest who were happy to die with their beautiful, haunting planet. Some, crying that they made the bad choice, regretting every breath they breathe. I can put myself in all of them, depending on the mood of the day. Perhaps it would change. Perhaps I could help the Resurrection, trying to grow plants with stolen seeds. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. I promise on the last leaf on Earth, that I will live every breath as I try my best. May the gods stand by me and watch the Earth die or live.
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Ethereal Syb, Hannie

Ethereal Syb, Hannie

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