A free serial story
by Siri Paulson
Payut fell to his hands and knees on the flagstones of the temple courtyard. The clang of the gate closing still echoed in his ears. He cried out as memories overtook him, rushing over him like a river in a monsoon, sweeping him along...
He is curled on his mat, listening to the slow breathing of the younger boys around him. Something has woken him early; even the most devout of the monks must still be asleep. He tries to ignore it, to close his eyes and return to his dreams. But it comes again – an insistent pull inside his mind, gentle, yet with a hint of immense power behind it. A power that keeps pulling until he follows.
He stands, all gangly limbs, and pads out of the bare room into the central courtyard of the Grand Temple. The tropical night is warm and damp. It is strange being alone, without the chanting of monks and the murmur of boys studying and the occasional slow boom of the gongs that visitors hit for luck. He feels naked.
The tug on his mind draws him across the courtyard, cool stone under his bare feet. He does not understand until he sees before him the great walls of the inner temple, intricate repeating designs painted over every surface. Even the doors bear artwork traced into the metal. They are closed for the night. Behind them, unseen, sits the Golden Statue.
Then he understands. The Statue is calling.
a free horror short story by Erin Zarro
“Do you agree to the terms?” the doctor asked with an accent I couldn't place.
The question startled me. I'd been thinking about all the things I could do if I wasn't dying – I could live in Europe like I've always wanted, I could go sky-diving, I could learn how to pole dance, I could have a love affair. And other things like take the Russian class I've always wanted to. And crocheting....fly fishing...there were so many things I wanted to do. And I needed to be alive to do them.
“Let me make sure we understand each other,” I said. “You said you could give me new life.”
“Will it hurt?” I asked as a flash of fear went through me.
“Not any worse than dying,” he replied.
Continuing my Year of No Fear series, I'd like to talk about photography.
My grandfather was a photographer who had his own darkroom. I didn't know it until I began studying photography and darkroom work in college. I remember feeling amazed that he'd done the same things I was doing; that it was maybe in our blood.
I'd wanted to pair photography with my Journalism major, to make me more marketable ("hey, I can write and take my own photos!"). However, I ended up learning fine art photography instead. I absolutely loved every minute -- from the shooting, to the developing of the film, to printing my own enlargements. It was like magic, really -- you have a blank sheet of photo paper that turns into something beautiful instead. I will always love darkroom the most, no matter what I do. It's where my artistic soul feels most at home. Unfortunately, I've had to put my darkroom stuff on hold due to several different factors. (I knew that once I'd graduated from college, I would no longer have access to a darkroom. My fiancé at the time had his own darkroom and I thought, maybe I can do this. It took a lot of time, a lot of work, and a bit of magic, but my dad, my ex-husband, and I made it happen. To this day I still marvel at it. We had no contractor but managed to move an entire wall to create a little "room" for me).