Bakabakashi Inbo BanBan: Episode 2 “Christmas Rattackular” Part 1

Senshi Mayonaka was a quiet, unassuming young woman. She was employed as a municipal clerk at City Hall in the village where she grew up. It wasn’t the most interesting job, but it gave her something to do and it kept some money in her pocket. The village magistrate had been a friend of her family for many years, and he made sure that she was well taken care of after her parents passed away. He was kindly and well-intentioned, if the slightest bit repetitive when he got to talking about certain subjects.

It was early evening when Mayonaka made her way home from work. She drifted down the narrow, winding roads of the old town. Elegant little buildings stood on either side of the street, most with pretty shops at ground level and apartments up above. The smell of Christmas trees and pine wreaths wafted softly on the breeze. The bakeries were making gingerbread and the scent of coffee and cakes seemed to permeate the entire village. Mayonaka sighed contentedly, enjoying the evening.



The Rise of Hal King: Episode 3 “Hard As Ice and Just As Cold

A hard, ugly sun rose over the Bolingbroke Ranch, the glare of dawn throwing long shadows over the dusty ground. Three such shadows fell across the porch of Henry King’s ranch house, their heads falling just short of King’s boots. These three shadows belonged to three men. They stood before King as he sat in a chair and took his breakfast.

The youngest of the three men opened his mouth to speak, but King held up a warning finger while he drank his coffee. It was still early, but the old cattleman had decided to start his day with a plate of fried steaks. The beans and fried eggs were an afterthought, nothing more. Taking his time chewing a mouthful of food, King said not a word, and the three men were forced to wait until it was his pleasure to join the conversation.


Bakabakashi Inbo BanBan: Episode 1 “Kore wa Mojiri Desu Ka?”

A chilly wind blew across the desolate moors. It stirred the cloak of the dark stranger who stood at the crossroads in the starlight. In the stranger’s arms languished a young woman; her blood-smeared body hanging limply in his grasp.

With a glint in his eye, the stranger lowered his head so that his face was hidden beneath the wide brim of his hat. Behind him he left the burning remains of the village and departed with a swish of his cloak. The chilly wind blew, the moon shown on the desolate moors, and clouds of smoke drifted by, obscuring the stars from view.


Schwind_Begraebnis bw

(Roggen Wulf, 2014)



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Saturday Story Wars: A Specter of War

There is but little along the highway between Silverfallet and Kiruna. The western coast of the Torneträsk is home to Abisko with its national park and precious little else. Except for the passing trains and the very occasional helicopter when there has been a road accident, it is a quiet place, forlorn sometimes. It was no place I would expect to hear the powerful engines that roared menacingly in the night not far from my bedroom.

My father told me of a boy about the same age I am now who was recruited to the Munckska at the time of Ådelen. He would have joined the Hemvärnet, but was instead transferred to the shores of Nakerjaure where in 1939 he trained fighters for the vinterkriget. After joining the Finns in the battle of Raate, he was sent to Oscarsborg festning, then to Hamar, to Elverum, and finally to Narvik.

What happened to him after Narvik, no one really knows.


The Rise of Hal King: Episode 2 “Heading for the Sound”

Hal thrust his hands into the pockets of his trousers. The night was comfortably cool and a light wind ruffled his hair as he made his way through the deserted streets of the dark and sleeping town. It was quiet here, but he was heading for the sound. Drawn like a moth, he quickened his step. Voices rose and the banter of a piano struggled to overcome the noise of fast footfalls and clapping hands.

Hal rounded a corner to find the Razorback blazing with light. Above the door of the saloon hung the head of a wild boar carved from a log and suspended on big, cast-iron hooks. Hal glanced up at it, watching it sway on its hooks as the dancers inside the Razorback slammed the floor with their boot heels. Making for the wide, wooden porch, Hal was stopped in his tracks by shattering glass as the saloon’s window exploded out into the street.


Saturday Story Wars: Lilies and Violets

She cast her eyes upward; her gaze quick and nervous. The student commons were busy, echoing with the gentle hum of humanity. The sound soothed Sara, especially on bleak, grey days like this, when it was chilly outside—when the warmth of company invited the students indoors. Her eyes darted upward, stared for a moment, fell back. She sighed, feeling the keys beneath her fingers and pressing softly until a note rose from the piano.

Sara’s hands moved, delicately stroking eighty-eight black and white keys with graceful, exploring fingertips. The big instrument rumbled and growled for her, then warbled and chirped nimbly. She gazed longingly, then closed her eyes and let her hands say the words that always caught in her throat.


The Rise of Hal King: Episode 1 “A Bad Turn Coming”

Henry King had been plenty of things in his life. He’d been a cowhand and a drifter. He’d seen more than a few fights and won his share of them. As a younger man, he’d gotten away with some rustling here and there, but to his knowledge he’d never done anyone a bad turn who didn’t deserve it. He was a decent man, or so he styled himself. An upstanding citizen, that’s what they called him in town.

King had performed a genuine act of heroism, even if maybe the law wouldn’t entirely see it that way. A law that didn’t do right by heroes, however, was pretty poor thinking on somebody’s part, and King had rarely been inclined to care much for the law in any case. He and his guns had done a fair amount of good the way he figured it, and a man who did good was entitled to certain rewards.


Weekly Writing Prompt: Innovation by Necessity

In science fiction and fantasy, there are many unpleasant truths about human life that we sometimes like to sweep under the rug. Humans have to eat, sleep, exercise, breath and lots of other inconvenient things that might seem like obstacles to the development of a story. Obstacles, however, are really opportunities in disguise, and in this week’s writing prompt, we will turn human necessities into creative avenues for the enterprising author.


Saturday Story Wars: Crossroads

It was early afternoon when the young soldier reached the crossroads. The day was clear and cold, the sun shining in the frosty air and sparkling on snowy mountain peaks. His once elaborate uniform no longer kept the heat of his body, and the makeshift cloak he had fashioned for himself on his journey was full of so many holes that it hardly warmed him.

Half a day’s walk behind him lay the ruins of Tirano, a lifeless husk firebombed into oblivion to keep the infection at bay. Ahead of him rose the Bernina Pass, which would take him high above the burning plains of Italy and deep into the imposing Swiss Alps. These mountains towered in his mind both angelic and demonic. The infection had spread to the high valleys and crags of the Alps only with great difficulty. He would be relatively safe in there.

The Alps, however, posed their own terrible dangers. His errand, one upon which the fate of the world now rested, would lead him to Val Poschiavo and St. Moritz, then on to Brig, following the train tracks toward Luxembourg until he finally reached his destination, the secure city of Geneve. Nearly one hundred tunnels and more then two hundred bridges lay between St. Moritz and Brig alone. The prospect daunted the soldier, sending a barb of icy fear through his heart, making him stop to catch his breath.

Brig was still a long way ahead in his future. He was not even in the Alps yet. Passo del Bernina was his most immediate concern, the start of this next most treacherous leg of his journey. He had failed his sister, his wife, and perhaps his country, but while his infant daughter still lived in Geneve, he would not fail her and he would not fail his species. For his daughter, the human race must survive. For the human race, he must survive the Alps.

Still, chilling fear remained in his heart and he stood for a long time staring down at his decision. He had at last reached the train tracks that would lead him into those grand, terrible mountains.

Such were the soldier’s crossroads. Tirano was lifeless, and thus free of infection. He could return there and hide from his mission, from failure and death, until he succumbed to whatever horrors lay in that decimated wreck of a city. Or he could follow the train tracks and face the fate that the Alps had in store for him.

The moment had come for him to decide. To flee or to go onward; these were now his only choices.