The Witch’s Memory part seventy six

Then she found the source of the noise

Three women of regality and poise

Sat around a cauldron with a song in their throat

In the middle of a deep moat

The water was purple, deep, and rich

The princess knew immediately each one was a witch

Just like the one she met in the forest

She became even less stressed

Surely they were here to help her on her journey

To help her be where she needed to be

A smile came to greet her face

Confidence abounding she stepped into the space

Inkslayer’s Journal Entry 5

Hey everyone! Still reeling from getting Beyond Here out into the world. Make sure to get your copy. Also if you message me I can set up signing and delivering you a copy if you wish. In the meantime here’s a free read of a flash fiction piece that I hope to make a full fledged novel at some point. I hope you enjoy!!

Ghost of the Arena

Her nights were always the same. 
The blood and her lone symbolic act were washed away with coarse goat hairbrushes. With each pass through she felt her wounds begin to tear anew. It reminded her that she will still alive. That the gods thought to curse her for another day.
She slept bare under the canopy of stars, the night sky matching her skin of coal. Each blazing jewel in sky was an unanswered plea for the release from the misery of this world. Before the morning light a new star would be born.
By the break of day she’d be awakened by Doc, a member of her troupe. In spite of overwhelming sense of death and horror which hung over the arena Doc managed to be cheery, sunlight dancing in his blue eyes.
“Perhaps you shouldn’t take a direct shot to the shoulder today. That is unless you’re not attached to it,” he said as he traced her collarbone with his finger.
Her waking pain was the same yet new nonetheless. “Are you giving instruction to your lanista?”
“Simply observing. It’s what I do.”
His olive skin never ceased to look pale against her own dark tones. The sun had taken its toll on his flesh leaving weathered lines behind in its wake. They paled in comparison to her menagerie of scars.
“How are the others?” she asked as she stood, her nude figure unabashed in the morning rays.
“That’s all that can be asked.”
They held a mutual respect for each other. A quiet means of foreplay that would proceed no further. There was no love for gladiators, not even amongst themselves. 
Before eating or partaking in the meager water rations provided she had to become the warrior she was made to become, the ghost of the arena. As she slumbered through the night the crew used a large kiln to dispose of the losers of yesterday. Their ashes would be ready for her by the rising of the sun, a mixture of grey and ivory. From the top of her head to the soles of her feet the dark skinned warrior dusted herself in the regret of yesterday. When she was done she was new, baptized in the death of fire.
From here she dressed herself in her armor before joining her troupe for their rations. Although the only female amongst the several men they held her in high regard. Her actions in the arena had saved their skin on numerous occasions.
The rest of the morning consisted of practice, practice, and trying to find out why she was a black girl sentenced to die in the arena. Soon it was mid-afternoon and the daylight was saturated with the cries of a bloodthirsty audience. The games were set to begin, and her and her Poison Apples were set to take center stage.
But today was different. 
The gates would wait longer today to open, to usher them into the madness. A trove of royal guards entered the confines of the area they called home, carrying with them the scent of sweat…and of her. The queen stank of nightshade, as poisonous as her heart. The queen considered herself to be a mother to the people, but to the gladiators made to fight on her behalf she may as well have been a wicked stepmother.
With her robes barely touching the tainted sand the queen made her way down the line of the Poison Apples until she reached the ghost of the arena. It was hard to discern anything about the queen behind that damn porcelain mask she wore.
“Will you win today?” the queen asked, her voice darkened as the sky as the sun sought to be tucked under the horizon. 

The black girl painted in ash didn’t speak. Her time spent as a gladiator gave her the impression the queen had something to do with her imprisonment. 
Although she couldn’t see it the warrior felt a cruel grin arch from behind the porcelain facade. “One can only hope so. My favorite apple in the batch. My Snow White.”

The Witch’s Memory part seventy two

Give me one moon to conjure 

A spell truly big and major

One that will be a blessing

One that will make your heart sing

I’ll need you to run way over yonder

Where you will get better from here on out

No more fussing or need to shout

Let the wind guide you where you need to go

Moon gilded lilies will start to show

The path that’ll keep you safe and sound

Once there you will not be found

For one night and will be well

Just one night and no more hell”

The Witch’s Memory part seventy

The wind swirled with ribbons of color

And the scent of rose petals began to smother

The staleness of the night air

Meanwhile Jaspeak’s blood flowed without care

Drop after crimson drop by her feet

From this bit of magic there was no retreat

All around where the blood did flow

The grass grew and the flowers did glow

Lilies stretched up to the moon

Large enough to make grown men swoon

Solid white luminescence saturated the night

Like the witch had become sun bright

It was as though she became a conductor to the stars

A beautiful entity kept afar

The Witch’s Memory part sixty nine

At that moment Jaspeak struggled to hold back her tears

That held all of frustration and tears

They came up hot and heavy

Threatening to breakthrough like cracks in a levy

But she was able to keep her resolve

Although her pain was an open wound dosed in alcohol

Jaspeak continued on in her speech

While her past clung like a hungry leech 

“I can go ahead and feed you lies

To do so would be of no surprise 

But in looking at you I can see your pain 

So I will have to refrain 

Causing you anymore with my words and phrases

It would do so little against someone so courageous 

With that the witch pulled out a blade 

A wicked sharpness it did display 

She ran the knife across her palm

Her eyes vacant and her nerves calm

Jaspeak let several drops of blood fall free

What happened next was a sight to see

The Witch’s Memory part sixty seven

She let her words drift on the air

Not knowing there was someone there

There came a rustling from the grass

And the princess wondered who could be so rash

To her surprise a woman sauntered out

One beautiful but carrying no clout

With hair painted deep midnight

And a smile that was so beguiling and bright

The princess found herself unarmed by the woman

But she rose to her feet with all she could summon

“I mean you no harm” said the woman with ease

“But I heard your cries and I can appease

I have talent that cannot be denied

And deny most have as it has been tried

For I am a witch cast aside by your ilk

Although I am harmless as woven silk magic may have been denied by your kind

Out of sight and out of mind

But my time forgotten has been of great use

Allowing me to get in contact with the muse

To embrace magic long thought gone

Until I was deemed oh so strong

The Witch’s Memory part sixty one

​This was his lot and he’d wear it well

From place to place and sell to sell

He knew he was deserving of much worse

And he’d endure to see an end to the curse

As he struggled for the end he did seek

Always watching was the beautiful Jaspeak 

The witch watched on with interest 

Sure that she would get the best

Of their exchange so many years in the making 

Vengeance was all hers for the taking

Yet over the years with pain and heartache 

Roland the horse seemed willing to take

That and this and perhaps even more

Losing the battle but winning the war

Her patience was certainly being tested

Her own plans never once rested

Five years passed and Roland’s daughter had matured

A better princess could never be found

Even if you searched the world around

Life got better under King Roland the second’s rule

While the original king was a glorified mule

If this was his lot he’d gladly accept 

Until the new king said something that filled him with regret

The Witch’s Memory part fifty three

​A cool finger brushed her hair

Careful not to wake her with a scare

Throughout his life Roland was not one for tears

It was unbecoming of someone of his years

Now tears flowed free of their cage

Afraid to turn this life’s page

“My dearest daughter” King Roland cried

“I could not save you as hard as I tried

Death comes for me this very night

At the time I thought my decision right

A kingdom toll left unpaid

From a deserved curse so long laid

In my haste to make sure you did not pay for my folly

My lineage was still enough to sully

Your gentle soul throughout time

Although you have committed no crime

Of your forgiveness I’m not deserving

Our bloodline is a dark, black thing

The Witch’s Memory part thirty two

“What once was lost shall return

To where the cleansing fire sparks and burn

Magic flowing clean and pure

To make sure our kingdom shall endure

Darkest night and brightest day

Our very truth shall not sway

We come with peace deep in our heart

With this in our core we shall not part

Our founder spoke these words as true

We speak them back to the fire of blue

Do not lead us astray trusted Jaspeak

Lead us not into a world so bleak

Dearest founder come and rise

Save us from all we despise

Shape the world as you see fit

Upon a throne of fire and bone you sit

A crown so befitting rest atop your head

Rise oh rise from the dead

Your faithful servants await your grace

For the rightful ruler to take his place.”

They repeated these lines several times

And Jaspeak found herself lost in the words and rhymes

The women were oblivious to her presence

So she remained veiled in her silence

In awe of the unity shared between

A love for each other she couldn’t glean

Soon after her arrival the song came to a halt

And Jaspeak approached this strange cult

Drawing near she felt at ease

With the sisters in their threes





I mirror their smiles because it’s all I know how to do. The bigger the smiles the worse the news. I learned that a couple of years ago, or maybe it was something I always knew but refused to accept. I wanted to keep believing in hope. And truthfully I still do believe in hope and miracles, but it seems to favor everyone else.
A group of four parades into the room bearing balloons, flowers, and one enormous stuffed bear. Telling them I’m too old for these things and I’m fairly certain I have an allergy to this particular genus of flower seems cruel. So I accept them with a thank you. I stretch my smile wider, although I’m very, very tired right now.
They’re feeling festive. Behind the saccharine grins are even more layers of sugary delights like digging to the core of Candyland. God, I hate that game.
The leader of the group was a bubbly eighteen or nineteen year old blonde. She introduced herself as Jenny. She looks like a Jenny. Jenny is that type of girl you know immediately is a head cheerleader and valedictorian. So put together and sure of herself. Well, this is what I assume a girl like her looks like. All I have to go off of is movies and books after all.
This would be my freshman year of high school if I was able to attend. The closest I’ve come to school in some time has been through the words on the page. And from what I’ve read lately everybody seems to be a supernatural entity caught in a love triangle. So maybe this is all for the best. Although I’d love to meet a werewolf for myself.
So cool.
“These are my friends,” she says with a smile so sweet it could give you stage two diabetes. “And we’re from the Make-A-Wish foundation.”
My mom, who in my hazes had forgotten was here with me, lets out a squeal of excitement. If she wasn’t so tired, so stressed out from the long nights with me and the longer days of her crumbling marriage, she may have shouted so loud the windows would shatter. That’s something they never tell you in all those “How To Cope With Losing Your Child” books which are churned out like printed money. Though I suppose a chapter on how two people who say they love each other are placed in a situation that can’t be summed up in words they are reduced to survival instincts.
Fight or flight.
More often than not the latter wins. One, two, three. Ring the bell, baby. It’s a wrap.
I sit up further in the hospital bed. The IV wriggles a bit, but I hardly feel it anymore. To mask the needling feeling in my bones I grin like a birthday clown. The worse it hurts the more I smile. Law of the land.
Mom grabbed my hand, and I can feel her tremble. She always calls me her rock, her foundation. Yet even as she stands beside me shaking like a newborn calf, looking as exhausted as she was, my mom is the strongest person I have ever seen. Each day I sample a bit of her strength just to get me through the day.
She is my Hercules.
My Atlas.
“So,” says the possible cheerleader. “If you could think of one thing to wish for, anything at all, what would it be?”
I close my eyes and do my breathing exercises. To the outside world it looks like I’m excited. In reality however I’m merely counting the moments until it would look okay to finally answer. The breathing exercise came courtesy of a new age healer who had been brought in a few times to help me deal with the pain, the bouts of sickness that would leave me covered in last night’s dinner. It did help, but on most occasions I used it to block out the world. Block out the melody of the machines. Block out the voices of worry. Block out everything, allowing time to slow into an abyss I wish I could settle into for all eternity.
What would I wish for? Survey says! Not to have cancer that’s spread to my nerves making everything I do painful. A few years ago I took up sketching. Mostly superheroes and stuff like that. I wasn’t that good, but it was a gift that was mine. Something I could do. It made me feel normal. But if this girl and her friends could grant this wish they’d be miracle workers.
So I move onto my next thought. If I could wish for anything at all I’d wish for a girlfriend like Jenny, Ms. Perky Cheerleader with a heart for sick kids. Sure it may be a little selfish, but if a cancer kid can’t be selfish from time to time, who can? A hot blond on my arm to kiss and fool around with. Hell, if I’m going to go off into the great adventure beyond this world does it have to be as a virgin too?
Sex though is not really the reason I want her.
My family will mourn me. They have to. It’s how these things work. A piece of the bloodline dries out and the bloodline covers it up.
If I was lucky a few kids I called friends from elementary school may show up at my funeral. They’d show up, only to forget me again when I’m in the ground. The reason I want Jenny Rah-Rah-Shish-Boom-Ba is so someone else will miss me. Someone who doesn’t have to love me. Someone from another bloodstream. Mom, will of course, place a rose on my headstone. Why should that rose be alone?
I don’t know. Maybe I just read too many books, and they’ve put a bit of romanticism in me. I should be happy I’m not in high school after all if I’m going to be this saptastic. Any sappier you could drill a hole in me to flavor your flapjacks.
But as much as I would want her, would want to have her to want me, to love me, it would never happen. Girls like her didn’t stay single long enough for the tears from their recent breakup to form before the next pretty boy came along. All brawn, no sense. It was girls like her who wouldn’t get the guy they truly deserved until their thirties once the jocks sucked them dry. Then here come the lowly ones to replenish them again. Bring her back to her former glory, the glory of Jenny Jenny Shish-Boom-Ba.
Besides I want her to actually love me. I want her to be my first, my last. Sex may be great, but call me old fashioned to want a real relationship. To form a connection with her greater than her physical body before we did it.
Again I think I’m reading too many books.
Next on the wonderful list of things not likely to happen is certainly never going to happen. If I could wish for anything in the world to come true it would be for my daydreams to be real. I’ve kept these dreams to myself. If I spoke them aloud I’d probably wind up getting a psych eval along with the other battery of tests. And I don’t want the docs to take them away. They bring me a little peace.
What I dream about is being a superhero, just like the one I read about in the comics. I call myself Ultra because…well, it sounds friggin’ awesome! My suit is gold with a royal blue cape. Such a classic look. My hair, oh yeah I still have hair, is a black that looks like spilled oil. It’s so tall and outlandish it could give young Elvis a run for his money.
Yeah baby, don’t step on my blue suede cape.
In tonight’s episode of Ultra: Man of Action we find our hero in the clutches of the nefarious Dr. Wicked and his gang of henchmen. That’s right Ultrateers, Ultra is trapped! Strapped to the mad doctor’s Chemomatrix. (Pause for audience gasp). How long will our Man of Action last? Find out in tonight’s thrilling episode: Healthcare Havoc!
At least once day I fantasize about being Ultra. And what’s a hero without his gallery of rogues? Mine are made up of everyone I meet here in the hospital; doctors, nurses, transport, you name it. My personal favorite is Dr. Weiss aka Dr. Wicked. With is untamed white hair, and his glasses that never seemed to stay straight he had evil villain written all over him.
On most occasions though he was the nicest guy ever. So why not toughen him up a bit? Make him the scourge of the seven continents with his horde of nurses armed with poison syringes and super strong gauze to tie up Ultra when things got hairy.
It was fun. I’m just having a little fun with these people every day in my head. There’s no crime in that. If they could grant me this wish…man, that would be something else.
But they can’t.
There’s not a whole lot outside of my top three wishes that I honestly want. What more could a dying boy ask for? Well, that’s what I think anyways. Yet I know that’s a lie.
I look over to my mom. I see her hopeful glimmer taking cover behind her dampening eyes. It’s so beautiful and yet frightening at the same time. I want to lose myself in those pools. I want to cry…but I can’t. I need to be strong for her. Keep her hope alive.
What I wish for, what I really wish for, is for this look of hope and happiness to stay with her as long as possible. My wish isn’t about me. It’s about her. About us. And I’d gladly give her a thousand of my wishes if I could.
The answer comes to me. Now all I have to do is make it sound like it really is about me.
“I think I know what I want.” I say as nonchalantly as possible. “I’d love to be part of a Broadway musical. Wicked maybe. I always wanted to try my hand at acting. My mom can come too, right?”
I smile so hard it hurts. She always wanted to see Wicked. If nothing else I want to be there when she does. Hell, I’ll be one of the extras on stage perhaps. A great memory to have of me when things get rough, too hard to handle. Mom buries her face into my chest, seeming to forget that that actually hurts. Then I feel the hot wetness of happy tears soaking through my hospital dressings. The pain eases away. This is more than enough for me.
More than I could want in a lifetime.