Tag Archives: african fiction

The Strife: Part Two

Happy Sunday, all!

This week we get into the story itself. You’ve already read about the beginning, and have a cryptic letter written by a dying man… but what does that have to do with anything? Today, you’ll start to find out.

Enjoy, and see you next week for the next episode.

Preparations

Those who dared to speak of such things insisted that there was a time when the Strife Lords did not rule the world. They said that once, humans were free to govern themselves and that in those times, life had been good and peaceful. Because people, they insisted, are good and kind and peaceful.

This had not been Zhev’s experience of his fellow man. In fact, if he was any indication, the reign of the Strife Lords had done nothing more than channel human cruelty.  And so it mattered little whether there had been a life ‘before’ them. Zhev enjoyed his position of power over other people and noted, with scorn, that the only ones daft enough to say such things were those who had no power themselves.

All these things whirled around in Zhev’s head as he washed himself in preparation for the day to come. Born the runt of a family of six, he’d always been treated as though he was worthless and had been fully expected to die when he joined the ranks of Strife Lord Desire’s army. But instead, his subtle brand of cruelty had distinguished him as a man gifted in extracting truths from those who’d rather not speak them. This was where he’d heard many of these foolish sentiments voiced: from would-be conspirators and failed saboteurs.

He thought over his many interrogations, his many successes, and his heart filled with pride. He richly deserved the reward he would receive today.

Zhev scowled as he opened the doors to his scant wardrobe. Until now he’d needed, and wanted, little more than his uniforms and a few sets of clothes in which to train. For this occasion, he’d had a suit tailored and now looked at it with disappointment. Unlike those worn by the Fiends who’s ranks he aspired to join, Zhev’s suit lacked command and did nothing at all for his impressive form. He cast it aside, deciding it would be best to dress in something more familiar. Carefully he clothed himself in the uniform of an Interrogator. The red collars were decorated with all his many medals which he polished every week to keep in spotless condition.

Zhev looked himself over in the lone mirror which hung in his apartment and nodded approval. The uniform impressed upon all who would pass him both his rank and his stature, which, taken together, made him a rather menacing figure. He strode down the corridors of his apartment complex with his head held high, defying any to look him in the eye as they passed. None did, and he made his way undisturbed to the street.

There, a black car waited to transport him to the Strife Lord’s offices in Sector A. Zhev took in all the sights around him keenly as the car made its way slowly down the streets. A partition separated him from the driver so there was nobody to disturb his silent self-aggrandisement. When the car came to a halt, Zhev let himself out and found that he stood before a building which had no windows and no doors. The structure seemed to be composed of a metallic glass and when he approached it, a section slid silently open before him to reveal a massive entranceway. Zhev stepped in, trying to hide his awe.

Statues dotted the hall, which stood devoid of any other furnishings. Wondering how such human-esque figures had been made, Zhev stepped close to one and realised that it was a human, held perfectly still by some… something. He’d heard that the Strife Lords had the power to do such things but had never truly believed it. He shuddered, chastised himself for it, and continued on his path to the elevators, which he only knew to be there because of the black trim denoting the doors. As he approached, one set of doors slid open. He stepped in, and they closed behind him. He searched around for the button to the 80th floor and only realised after the doors opened again that the elevator had been moving. So, Strife Lord Desire did have a flair for the dramatic, Zhev smiled to himself. Seemed that sometimes, people were correct.

And why not? he thought. If he owned everything within sight he’d have a certain flair, too.

Zhev stepped out into a foyer. His shoes clipped out a rapid staccato as he walked to a desk where a secretary sat, looking both intensely absorbed in and bored by her work. He cleared his throat and she looked up at him. Her eyes, he noted, were purple. She wasn’t human. And neither were the two men who stood guard outside the entrance to Desire’s office, their silver hair lying slick against their heads. The secretary looked down, clicked away at her computer, looked up and nodded, more to herself than him.

Zhev had long ago mastered the nervous need to fill awkward silences, and that was just as well because he didn’t think this woman would respond if he spoke. So he held her eyes, she held his, and held. And held. Finally, she told him he could go in and then was once more absorbed in her tasks.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

The Strife: Part One

Last time we got a little bit of a history lesson, a background to The Strife which is going to be important to remember later on. Feel free to go and read it again; and if this is your first forray into Story Sunday, do check the prologue out, because we’re continuing this week with a time skip, and a letter from a dying man.

Happy Sunday reading, and see you next week!

Solutions. Interrupted

To You,

It all seemed like a great thing at the time, Internet access as a human right. By 2080 every school, library and community centre in the world had at least one computer with a high-speed Internet connection. It was a triumph of human perseverance! we all told ourselves. Oh, how civilised the world had become!

Then it started. It was simple stuff at first; cyber bullying became a norm, but then, everyone had expected that. Then things got progressively less civilised. Searches about the history of slavery led to multitudes of neo-supremacist chat rooms of every kind; queries about sexual health saw you bombarded with violent and graphic images of degrading acts performed with dubious consent. The grotesque became the mainstream, and soon we really were witnessing the dreaded and oft-mentioned ‘deterioration of the moral fabric of society’.

In all that chaos nobody can really say when the takeover happened, but those of us old enough to remember know that it wasn’t the bloodless affair they claim it to be. The Strife Lords came baying for blood and they got it, rivers of it. The blood of all those who dared to say humanity was decent and good and capable of being righteous.

The rest of us were either too cowed, or too busy drowning in the enormity of it all, to fight back when it would have made a difference.

Perhaps the Strife Lords really are what they say: our old gods. But I am too old now and have seen too much to care if they’re right and they are only monsters because we made them so. I want to see each of them destroyed, but I won’t live long enough for that. You see, I’m writing this because I’m to die soon. But if anyone ever finds this letter, I want you to know it’s worth it to fight. It has to be.

Allan, D.

Author

Linda, AKA TAGG herself, loves great music and terrible movies. Find her being boring on Twitter @ThatLFM

Inktober: Week 3

What’ll it be this time?

MYTH – a memory

Once, the earth opened up and sighed. Long and low, his sigh rolled across the air until it reached the cosmos. In the cosmos it wisped and faded, became an echo which continued the journey – for nothing truly stops in the realms of the gods. Earth’s deities heard both the sigh and its echo, others only the echo. Still it moved and changed and lived. Still gods listened as it passed and wondered – what does it mean?

So they made their way to earth. One by one, and pantheon by pantheon. They came to hear and see and taste. Settling above the earth, they blinked into view – tiny lights, perched and curious. Pantheon constellations; proud and singular burning things. So they made the sky. They looked down at the earth and he looked up at them.

Who are you? What do you want? What was that sound you made? All of these are questions that the gods could have asked. But they are, by their nature, proud beings. So they sat and waited for an explanation to come. And still, they sit. What are a few millennia of waiting to the ageless, after all?

Since then, the earth has not sighed again, because what he once lamented, he now has. A hundred thousand admirers, and amongst them, hopefully – several dozen friends.

SACRED – a legacy

My mother had a jewel. Quite a worthless one, in the estimation of any competent jeweler. Old, certainly, but not worth the time it’d take to polish for sale. It was a beautiful, murky red. In the light, it shone alternately brilliant at one angle then absorbed light and refused to reflect the next. When I left home, she gave me this jewel and told me to always keep it close. I asked why, and she said I would know when I needed to know.

Because asking one’s mother if that’s her best impression of a psychic hack is poor form and also counter-productive to continued living, I took the worthless thing. When I settled, I put it in my jewelry box and over the years when I missed home, I held that stone and felt comforted. Then came the call – your mother is ill.

So I went home, sure that this was goodbye and determined to smile with her just one more time. Death was camped outside her door, I could feel it as I entered. My mother was never a frail woman, but whatever illness was determined to take her had turned the shoulders which bore the weight of the world and of my wayward ways, and turned them into brittle things. Like too vigorous a hug would end it all – that was how she looked.

“Do you have it?”

Why I brought that worthless jewel with me, I cannot say. But I had. and I handed it to my mother. She smiled, and the effort shook the musculature of her cheeks.

“Come back tomorrow, I must rest.”

“But I just got here. I have so much to tell you…”

She was, as ever, uncompromising. So I left, and hugged my father, and cried with my sister. And drank with my brother. Not in the house, of course. In the yard. Sleep took me in the small hours just before dawn. And when I woke I went to my mother. Because the sun was up and that meant that it was tomorrow.

The jewel sat on the made-up bed, reflecting strangely brilliant light. My mother sat at her dresser, running a large-toothed comb through her hair and humming. Shocking, I know.

To this day, I don’t know what that jewel is, or what it did. My mother never explained, because what is sacred need not be named.

PAIN – a sacrament

Pain, a beast of solitude

Digs in claws and asks for peace

Inktober: Week 2

As NaNoWriMo gets underway, I’ve finally completed my Inktober work! So I’ll be releasing the rest of these shorts whilst I work on (hopefully) something approaching a cohesive novella for December. Stick with me, I’m trying!

NATION – a concept

Wandering is a kind of peace, to be sure. An open world, full of people to know and to love and to miss in fond memories when others’ cadence, others’ smiles capture one’s attention. Wandering is a practice of solitude.

But even the nomad came from somewhere – a land which called them mine. A land where the slant of noses and the colour of eyes was a mirror. Even the nomad, in solitude, was once a native, in plurality. And sometimes, when the nomad lays down their head to sleep in a place which almost feels like home, they can hear the whisper of their origin, asking when they’ll come home?

DISGUISE – a comfort

His body felt heavy. Not in the way a body does when you eat too much then struggle to move, but in the way that you do when you’ve been outside of yourself for too long and you must relearn what it’s like within flesh. He lifted his arm, or thought he did, because when he relaxed his muscles there was to tell-tale dull thud of meat hitting concrete. And he was, as far as he could tell, lying on a concrete floor.

Remember that you are youtself. You are simply… also somebody else.

Right. Himself. As he remembered to know that he existed, this body he had taken began to obey instruction. Breathe in – cough and wretch, because the lungs have forgotten the rhythm of staying alive. Stretch the toes, then work the ankles… work your way through the joints. The process is long. Longer if you try to be a hero and get up too soon.

A hero he was not. Just a soldier who’d signed up to do some terrible things in service of a glorious end. Much like… whoever he’d landed up in. As the body which used to belong to somebody else gave over control to his mind, he rose from his incredibly uncomfortable position on the floor. Why couldn’t he land when the host was sitting down? Or sleeping on a bed? Why always this kind of undignified entrance… this time apparently after a long night of alcoholic over-indulgence.

His head was killing him, but still he moved through the empty apartment to find a bathroom. Flicking the lights on he regarded his newest disguise. Nothing to write home about, which was good, but disappointing. People liked attractive people, they gave them liberties. But they also remembered them.

Never snatch the pretty ones.

Well, he’d certainly followed that rule. Familiarising himself with his identity for the foreseeable future, the snatcher idly wondered what it would be like to be back in his own body again. Would his limbs remember the way of him? Would he smile like he used to? Or would he carry the tics and habits of his disguises back into himself and remain a stranger until he died?

Inktober: Week 1

After a long dry spell, I’ve decided to dip my toe back into some creative writing. And how fortuitous, it’s Inktober! The good folks over at Kugali Media have been kind enough to come up with prompts for those of us on the Mother Continent who need a little inspiration. So, for this month’s Sunday installations, I’ll be using selected prompts for the week and trying to bring them to life!

Do yourself a solid and go check out kugali.com for some awesome African storytelling!

ANCIENT – a poem

“Do you think about us?” whispers the grave

A question and indictment;

a truth which burns – for I do not

In quiet times, perhaps I hear

In dark of sleep, perhaps I see

There is so little thought, given to these

Truths of the soul and soil

Yet from them we are born and live

Back to them our breath we’ll give

FAVOURITE FOOD – a memory

I remember less of the taste, or the smell, than I do of the feeling. Warm, and full. Sated and smiling after a heavy meal of sadza and more beef, tomato, onion and veggie stew than someone my size should have been able to ingest – these were good times. Food brought out the best of us. On a full stomach my father was hilarious, my mother magnanimous and my siblings happy. I was content, after a fashion.

But things change, don’t they? Sometimes over long periods of time – a young man with ambitions and dreams wakes up one day burdened by the ghosts of the man he should be. A young woman with hopes and goals wakes up one day to realise that she lives in a gilded cage. Other times change is fast. Night to day. The best in us sleeps and neglects to wake the next morning and we are once again tip-toeing through a maze of triggers and pain.

Then the day fades and the night comes, and once again the best of us wakes. We sit around the table, we eat and we breathe. Then my father makes a joke and we laugh, my mother pours wine and my siblings smile.

Today, I made my favourite food. I sat at my table, and I brought out the best in myself.