Chosen

©2023 michael raven

Notes about this piece: This piece was written during a single session based on prompts from the “Wildwood Tarot” with a thirty minute writing limit, followed by a ten minute limit for revisions. As such, there are likely both logical and typographic errors within. The three cards selected at random were: 5 The Ancestor, 15 The Guardian, and Five of Stones (Endurance). I allowed myself three minutes prior to the timed writing session to brainstorm ideas. The story may or may not reflect the meanings of the cards drawn.


The air was thick with humidity as the air rolled across the plains, flashes of light followed by thunder announced the coming rain. He’d get wet and the flames he tended would be washed away when the rain fell; from where he sat, he could already see the mercurial sheets slashing down in the last rays of the setting sun and the flames would cease to be within seconds of the arrival. But he hesitated moving any deeper into the cave, where his fire would continue to thrive and he’d stay dry. Inside was doorway and its Guardian, and it scared him to be anywhere near either, with the scent of rotting flesh and the musk of underearth perfuming the interior space.

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Raven in the Sky

©2023 michael raven

Set a watch in the sky, to cry out when the hills begin to crawl and speak in unfamiliar tongues, when the bears wake.

Intro to “Raven in the Sky” (Oracle of the Morrigan), Morrígan Oran

“Hey Sam.”

Sam turned her gaze from the burning skies that turned the world a crimson color in the daylight and masked the stars come night for the past fortnight or so. No one could agree on the exact amount time that had passed, but agreed in principle the period could roughly be described as two weeks, give or take three days in either direction. Shit in the beginning had been chaotic by all accounts — there was no debate there. And, given the clocks had gone and done struck thirteen, then moments later given to the ghost just like anything with circuitry along with a blinding flash, well… the craziness and lack of proper tools to tell time made it awfully difficult to count the days, let alone the hours since.

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By the Setting Moon

©2023 michael raven

Gathering weeds, bramble and thorn, she moved like midnight by the setting moon. Ever the air grown silent in the last silver glow casting shadows upon shadows and within the shadow of night, but for the shush and tug of her hands a’reaping, fragments of memory slipping behind her like dream.

She knew it to be soft voice, for the rustle of leaves in the wind on a windless eve and so she tilted her head sidewise and anon the speaker raised the timbre and lowered the tone so Jess might know what was to be said.

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Grave conversations

©2023 michael raven

“Whatcha doin’?”

“What’s it look like I’m doin’? I’m sitting.”

“With your hood over your head and on someone’s grave, using the stone as a backrest.”

He flicked the cigarette into the dirt by his feet. Char opened her mouth to add an observation that it was a freshly filled grave Tom was sitting on, but closed it. It seemed highly likely that Tom was aware of this bit of trivia.

“Yeah, so what’s it to ya?”

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Went Out Sky

©2023 michael raven

The sky went out last Thursday. No one knew why.

they broke of shadow
tore the whole down
and flew sunward and
widdershin, spinning
dizzy black and eigengrau
over our heads
filling all the empty
places and hew crying

It grew cold as the sun winkled out. I grabbed hands, any hand, it didn’t matter and they grabbed others as we ran, a chain of catastrophe, all arms and legs and shrieksy. That is when the Wolves (what we called them) came, tumbling in with their motorcades and mercury guns, shouting for the loss of their Moonchild, baby.

I ran for the underground rail, arms tugging be backwards as each of the arms and legs body fell to sharp little bees barking out of hot metal, the air like methamphetamine and the faithful singing on their knees. O’ holy holy, they sang but their god had lost the connection and they became puddles crimson at the top of the stair, bodies thrown down as the jagged tearing ripped their flesh to meat.

look around
what can you 
                    see?
cat's in my belfry
and can't see me

And now we drown ourselves in inky black, hoping the lack of light will keep those shades away.

Half-penny

©2022 Michael Raven

It all ended somewhere between a grunt and a chuckle.

Her first inclination was that she had been stung by an angry wasp as she lurked in the high rafters of the stable, watching for him, meaning to thwart any escape he might try to make. Malcolm, as always, would take point in the operation to capture or provide justice at the end of a barrel for MacLeod, for “crimes against humanity”. Logan, as always, was Malcolm’s backup for those times when their bounty, as always, would try to run until they could run no more. It was her sacred duty to provide the backstop to such attempts and she had been damned good at it.

Until now, it seemed.

Continue reading “Half-penny”

Wallcloud.

©2021 Michael Raven

“This has all happened before and it will happen again.”

Though she’d never turned to me to say these words, I could feel her turning once again to stare out over the rolling plains of prairie grasses moving like waves in the sea as the flowed golden over rise and hollow under the steel skies filled with incoming thunder and rain. The thunderbird, it was said, rising from the mountains in the west and riding over the world, crackling like blue lightning, wings sending squalls in every direction. Clouds like wool cities roared towards us as they had been all afternoon, visible in the vast empty of this place. Someone wiser than either of us, or most familiar with the terrain, would have sought shelter at the first furtive white clouds clustering. We were foolish and had no clue about shelter in these lands — and we knew both truths in our hearts and didn’t fight such things.

Love and apocalypse will make fools and idiots of the best of people. The trade-off was more than worth it. I had her and lived with abandon since the first days of ruin of empires. I never asked her what her thoughts might be about the two of us together; I took it for granted she felt the same, else why would she cling to me so?

“You know what happened?” I asked.

She shook her long dark hair that fell in large cascade curls around her shoulders. Mac had always colored her hair before the shit hit the fans, said she’d be damned if she let the grey show until she couldn’t hide it any longer. Then things went sideways with the world and, like everything else everyone had always done that was less about survival and more about youth, she let it fall to the wayside without another word. She hadn’t instructed me, but I knew it was not something she’d acknowledge, even had I the temerity to bring it up in conversation. It was a pointless discussion in her mind.

“Of course not, Logan. I just… know. This is not the first time. Nor is it the last. This is part of the cycle. It will happen again.”

No one knew what happened, only that something had. The world has stopped working. Period. There was no way to find out what had happened as a result. When cars, radio, television and phones went tits up, it was impossible to convey information. Nothing worked except for muscle power. It’s as if the industrial revolution had never happened and we’d been left with a trillion tons of useless plastic and glass. Then, the old enmities, left unfettered in the vacuum, thrived and old scores were settled, old tensions allowed to explode.

We were idiots in love, but smart enough to leave the cities before that started to happen. We saw enough of it before we left to know it was high time to get the fuck outta Dodge and we started hoofing it out into the countryside. At first, we had no destination, but then Mac began with her talk about being drawn to a place she described from her dreams. At first I thought it was BS. Then, we started to see the things she said she dreamed about and I there was no way to ignore that something was calling her out west.

Of course, everything that happened to the two of us was plain weird.

“Wyrd,” she would correct me when I said things like that, as if she knew I was spelling the word wrong in my head as I said it. Mac had a way with those kinds of things. She seemed to pick up on word choice and how you articulated a word — especially if it was questionable phrasing.

We’d met on accident. Or so I thought. Trading notes, we quickly discovered we knew much more about each other than seemed possible for two people knowing each other for a matter of days. And then the synchronous thinking a month or two into our relationship. Like conjoined twins sharing a brain, we found ourselves effortless finishing one another’s thoughts. I did a double-take for a long time with each time it occurred — Mac accepted it as a new norm within hours.

“Should we maybe try to find some shelter?” I asked, hitching up the frame backpack to make it more comfortable. I’d need to replace a strap soon or the discomfort would get worse. “That rain is looking… pretty fucking much like a downpour for hours straight.”

She shrugged and adjusted her own pack, glancing backwards at me and flashing one of her killer smiles that always made everything alright.

“We can try,” she said with a smirk. “But we won’t find any around here. I believe we are… what’s the technical term…? Fucked.” She started marching toward the mountains, mere ghosts in the distance and only visible against the contrast of the darkening sky. “Yep, I’m pretty sure we’re already fucked.”

I felt the first large drop of rain against my shoulder, looked up and saw a wall of rain heading towards us and had to agree.


Normal caveats apply here, folks. This is first draft with minimal editing, written by the seat of my pants, and I had no clue where I would end up when I started. There may be errors [edit: may, LOL] and I may fix those errors, or I may leave them. This is not intended to be a polished piece.

Photo by Lachlan Ross on Pexels.com

key: spiral-dancing