Monday 28 March 2016


by Lyra Reyes

Mist. She can't see through the mist. She walked along a line of trees, in the woods of her childhood, one hand gripping the collar of her faithful wolfhound. 

Wait. Is this a dream? It must be a dream.

A loud growling gave her pause. She looked down. The large dog looked quizzically up at her.

"Okay, so wasn't you." She said out loud. "Let's keep going."

As she took a step forward, a large shape stepped out of the mist in front of her. This time, her dog did growl at the black mass in front of them.

Wolf, she thought, watching the creature walk slowly toward them. Oddly pure black with red eyes and..what is that shape on its head? Looked like the sign on the chest she found last month in her mother's storage.

She took a slow step back, pulling at her dog's collar. The wolf stopped. Then leaped.

She slipped on the twigs and, as she fell, cried out when sharp claws dug on her shoulder and a heavy weight settled on her. She instinctively grabbed the wolf's neck, trying desperately to get away from it's snapping jaws. One hand flailed out looking for purchase and, more by luck than purpose, landed on a large rock. She gripped it but as she prepared to use it, she heard her dog snarl and the weight on top of her was gone.

Snarls and growls filled the air as wolf and hound attacked each other in the mist.

"No, no, no," she muttered under her breath as she frantically crawled toward the fight to find an opportunity to use the rock without hitting her dog. 

Then, suddenly, a bolt of fire came out from the sky. The wolf howled in pain and burst into mist.

She sat, dizzy with pain, on the ground and the last thing she remembered before everything turned black was her faithful dog whimpering beside her.


"Intense." Samantha said as she watched her goddaughter fidget during breakfast. "You said that the mark on the wolf's head looked like the mark on the chest your mother left you?"

"Really? That's what you got? I dreamed I was being attacked by a wolf in the island woods and you focused on the mark on it's head?"

"Well, Dracula saved you, didn't he?"

Alyssa looked at the large wolfhound napping by her feet. "Yes, he did. He was so very brave."

"Also, wolfhound. Wolf-hunting is what his ancestors are known for." Samantha took a sip of coffee. "Your wounds?"

"That's what scares me." Alyssa pulled down the neck of her shirt and exposed the deep scratches on her shoulder.

"How long have you been having these kinds of dreams, Alyssa?"

"I never told you I've had these kinds of dreams before."

"It would not have escalated like this if this is the first time. Your mother's dreams never came to a point when she woke up injured." Samantha set down her cup and reached into her purse. "It means that it's time."

"Samantha? What are you talking about?"

Samantha handed her an envelope and a key. "This is a letter from her and the key to the chest. Your mother made me promise to give this to you when the right time came. She said I would know when that is, so I guess this is it."

"What is this about, Sam?"

"Read the letter. It explains everything. And everything it doesn't, the journals inside the chest would."

"Samantha, please."

"Haven't you ever wondered why your mother's creams and oils and soups always cured whatever ails you?" Samantha asked. "Or why you pick through your garden for the ingredients to make them under the light of the full moon? Or why your mother always, always reminds you to be careful with your words?"


"Do you remember that time when you were a little kid and the kid next door pushed you off the swing?"

"What does that have to do with this, Sam?"

"You were so angry at him that you said you hope he gets the chicken pox. What happened to him, Alyssa."

Alyssa blinked at Samantha. "He got the chicken pox."

She paused. "But, Sam. That was just a coincidence. Right?"

"Your mother had to undo it."

"Undo it?"

Samantha chuckled. "Just read the letter, Alyssa. It will answer those questions."


The water in the pond swirled. Slowly at first, then faster and faster as the center of whirl started to rise. Then a dog barked and the water became still.

Alyssa stroked Dracula's head in thanks as a group of teenagers passed by behind them. She waited until they were alone before she started stirring up the water again.

Dracula barked again.

"Okay, okay. Let's go home." Alyssa looked wistfully back at the pond before reaching for Dracula's leash and walking away.

Two weeks had passed since Samantha had given her the key and letter from her mother. A key and a letter that changed her life forever.

I'm so sorry I can't be there to teach you this, my darling. But I have faith that you will do the right thing. It is your legacy. Your birthright. And while it may just be a speck in this great world that we live in, I trust that you will find beauty in the island I called home and endeavor to end the evil that has been bound to it.

Alyssa had forgotten the island of her childhood summers. She cannot say that she cared much for it. But doing as her mother had asked had lifted the heavy weight that had settled in her heart when her mother passed away. Besides, magic is so cool. She had been practicing everyday for two weeks and the fun of it, no matter how difficult the instructions in her mother's books were, hadn't worn off.

The dreams hadn't either, she thought dryly, rubbing her right arm. Last night's was a doozy. Still the same woods, still the same wolf, still the same outcome. But she worries about Dracula. She harbored hope that him being in her dreams was only because she's used to having him by her side. That hope was shattered when she woke up this morning with Dracula sprawled at her feet, whimpering and licking the gash on his hind leg.

She reached down to rub the wolfhound's head as she waited for the light to change. Dracula, while still playful, had developed a protective streak. And while she's not sure if she's taking him with her in the dreams or tif he has the same dreams, she had to learn how to protect them both before he gets seriously hurt.

These daily practices at the park pond had helped her a lot; she can feel her power getting stronger. But she needed to find out more about what she was up against. She needed to figure out how she would approach this.

Her mother, in her journal, talked about defining moments. 

There are times in my life that seem so mundane, so trivial, that I think of them as the bridges between my life's milestones. But, looking back, I realized that these mundane things, these trivial things, holds the answers to my most important questions.

My daughter, the other day, chose to be a witch for All Hallows' Eve instead of a princess. A mother cannot ask for anything more defining than that. Nor can a mother deny her daughter's fate when she found a ragged wolfhound pup whimpering on her doorstep.

I hope Alyssa looks to her moments to help her define her path. Fate, after all, requires choices.
Alyssa had been thinking about it for days now. How can fate require choices? Isn't that contradicting itself?

She paused for a bit in front of a salon.  Up until a couple of years ago, it used to be her mother's shop. She remembered her marvel at the rainbow colored glasses that carried her mother's wares. She also remembered spending afternoons there as a teen, wanting to go out with her friends but needing to help out to earn. Alyssa sighed. She could have gone and worked at the mall like what her friends did but she rather enjoyed watching and occasionally helping her mother make and sell her potions.

It clicked in her brain. 

She wasn't sure what did it, but suddenly, everything became clear to her.

Little moments, her mother said. The mundane. The trivial. Her being the witch instead of the princess for Halloween. Her choosing to help her mother instead of working near her friends. Her spending her summers in the island instead of in the city. Her deciding to move back in when her mother got sick. 

Dracula barked up at her.

She leaned down, rubbed his head. "And yes, me keeping you when your mom died giving birth to you and your brother."

She jogged down her driveway and unlocked the front door. Dracula bounded straight to the living room, gave a huge sigh, and settled at the foot of the couch.

Alyssa turned to the table by the door and picked up her mail. Sorting through it, she came upon a plain white envelope with the addresses handwritten in an enviably beautiful cursive. She opened it and as she read, one of those defining moments is presented to her.

The letter is from someone named Anna. It ended the same way her mother's letter to her ended.

Come home. Your sisters need you.

(This is the third part of the Daughters of the Blood Moon series)

Sunday 27 March 2016

Fleeting Peace

By Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga

Time thickened. A strange viscosity made the world spin slowly around her as she paused on her way to her locker. The room around her was alive with chatter and buzzing movement; think bees and she was honey reflecting it all. 

There was Micah, lightly punching Aidan in the arm as their lips moved rapidly. At the far corner, her friend Kaira was shadowed by Takemi who leaned close towards her while Kaira murmured up at him. George and Laura passed by her, folders in hand, whizzing to class. There was her group of friends to the right of her, laughing over a laptop, a jolly scene that she edited herself out of just to see what it would look like. She took all these vignettes and placed herself in the cameraman’s feet.
The cameraman is not a character in this movie. The cameraman is an outsider. He sees, he documents, he does not intervene: not when Kaira looks away, not when Aidan glares at the table, not when her friends forget her completely. Simply watching, the cameraman can occupy a space untouched by time, for the briefest of moments, until he is forced back into the scene of his own miserable saga.

Finally, the honey fell away from her. She hungered after its sweetness, the dreamlike spot she had occupied, rich, quiet, peaceful as a plump golden Buddha. Already, her heart devoured its remnants until it ached for more and found that it would not be satisfied for some time yet. ‘Some time’ could be days, weeks, months, decades. What would she do? What could she do? Unable to settle like before, her wings beat harder, faster, until all she could do to keep herself from collapsing was to fly swifter than despair could pull her down.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Upon Each Desire

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015


     ‘He saw plainly the mysterious peculiarity that distinguishes every individual from every other individual.’ Leo Tolstoy, The Awakening


When Aika and Hideki Wakahisa both became parents together at the birth of their first child, they were also pleasantly surprised at the moment of the ensuing second expected birth, a twin, which was also a girl. She was born one minute and twelve seconds later than her elder sister. When mother was resting she was doing so in a hazy daze of a world filled with nothing but thoughts of endless, mutually attentive love. Hideki too was feeling like his wife, spending the visiting time in just holding her hand. Could things possibly get any better?

     But when Hideki made his visit the next day Aika was in full business mode. She had something to say about their daughters’ futures.

     ‘Firstly, Wakahisasan, thank you for bringing me our beautiful daughters, Kasumi and Sakura. My heart and breath are forevermore thine.’ Hideki blushed.

     ‘It is because I love our two daughters so much,’ Aika continued, ‘that I absolutely insist on raising them as unique individuals, not as exact copies of each other, doing everything the same, and without any real sense of life. My twin sister and I absolutely hated having to be exact copies of each other. Now I can make amends for that horrid life. And I expect you to help out in doing so.’

    ‘Anything you say, darling. Now let’s have a cup of tea.’

    Hideki drank the tea and pleasantly chatted with his one true love, and only briefly glimpsed the car that rocketed out of a side street into his own car on his way home afterwards. Hideki died almost instantly, still enwrapped in calming thoughts of a beautiful future. The driver of the other car was saved by his car’s airbag. He fled the scene but didn’t get far. He was found to be high on ice and obviously in a raving psychotic state.

     Aika, thankfully, took the news very calmly. The crash investigators found her number in Hideki’s wallet, on a slip of paper under the inscription, ‘Maternity Ward.’ Two female officers volunteered to convey the news, as both a support to each other and to Aika. Aika instantly felt that she had to look out for her daughters even more now. She was their only guardian. She thus felt she had no choice but to call upon her own sister’s help to look after the children. Finding another husband would take too long, and another one was not really wanted either.

     Akemi Morishige, Aika’s twin sister, the elder, was delighted to help. She got permission to leave work early to visit her sister (easy when you’re a physics professor at a distinguished Sydney university) and by the end of visiting hours they had come up with a simple, yet comprehensive, plan to bring up the two newborn girls. Akemi had always been single and was still waiting for the gentleman that turns a vague, hidden key deep within her. And if she did find this gentleman, well, then he’ll have to accept her charges along as well.

     Aika and Akemi envisioned no problems. Well, nothing that they couldn’t handle.




Problems there were indeed in rearing the girls, but both were right in knowing they could handle them. So well, in fact, that the family is now celebrating the twins graduating from university over an expensive dinner, with a PhD each, at the age of twenty-four. Kasumi and Sakura were the most talkative that they’d ever been.

     ‘My first million is going to my favourite parents,’ gushed Kasumi, the eldest, almost through her very first glass of French Champagne. ‘Easy money for an intelligent astronomer like me in the U.S.’

     ‘I’ve already vaguely outlined my Nobel Prize for Biology speech,’ said Sakura, mock seriously. ‘Biology is also going to be in high demand in pretty short order.’

     ‘How about we work together on something for the Nobel?’ asked Kasumi of her sister. ‘We could maybe do some xenobiology.’

     ‘Even work on some top secret stuff with the U.S. government,’ suggested Sakura.

     ‘Above top secret stuff is what you really want. Real history shaping stuff.’

     ‘On an intergalactic scale.’

     Thus they all spent the night, everyone pleasantly floating with pleasure, but also firmly grounded.

     This attitude carried through to the next day and both spent four weeks, twelve hours a day, in looking for jobs in their fields. They naturally both received several very generous offers of employment, thanks largely to the fact that they had good work experience and good work references, as well as excellent university results. Their choice was made exactly four weeks after their job search began and both chose AuCU, Aus Central University, because it had the best equipment. Sure the salary was a good bit lower but it was worth it in order to work with such well-maintained, precision instruments. It was also fantastic now that both of them had the world at their feet, side by side at AuCU. Who needs husbands?

     They began their new careers well but each continued onto two entirely different paths. Kasumi was offered an Associate Professor position after working at the university for only a little over a year. Kasumi had a natural rapport with the intelligent science students she lectured and her classes were also spoken of well by the students. Likewise marks under Kasumi were high and the university’s Chancellor saw her as a Godsend, a great researcher as well as a great teacher, who could also show the world that AuCU was indeed Central.

     Sakura fell in love instead. Seven months into her job as a biologist that was better than expected, she fell in love with a PhD candidate. The candidate, Rawson Peters, though, thankfully, made a pass at her first. Sakura was not expecting love, vaguely considered it to be bosh, a simple word to justify every animal’s fundamental need for sex, and as a result she was helpless in its throes. Which was the reason Rawson left her after six months – she was too needy. Sakura was devastated, always believing that true love, if it did exist (unlikely), is forever. Instead, true love passed, and there was nothing to replace it. Sakura took a week’s sick leave after Rawson had arrived to leave her. She could only eat dry toast and juice during the week off and was also sleeping a lot, both to dream of Rawson and to forget him. Kasumi, during a visit, eventually talked Sakura into returning to their parents’ place for a while. Have a good talk with them. A broken heart can be healed, by loving one’s mind, affirmed Kasumi.

    Sakura returned to normal in about a further two weeks at her parents’ place but resigned from the university. She told her family that it was because she might see Rawson there. In fact, she had to get out of the science field altogether, where Rawson was naturally bound to be. But what other work could she do? She knew only science.

     ‘Do you still go to art galleries?’ asked Kasumi, tentatively taking stock.

     ‘As often as I can, but that’s not often.’

     ‘So you’ve still got a bit of a feel for the art world?’

     ‘Yes. Why?’

    ‘How about we set up an art gallery?’

     An art gallery?

     ‘I saw Edvard Munch’s The Scream, when I was in Oslo a few weeks ago, at a conference, and actually seeing the great piece in real life made me realise that science makes people comfortable, but art, all art, answers the paradox of each our sentience. I really want to show that to people. Science gives answers but art really does give purpose and pure thought. So, what do you say? Our combined intelligence will easily bring us to the fore of the art world.’

     Sakura took no time to reply.

     ‘Of course I will. Just what I need, a complete change of scenery.’

     ‘Well, let’s start the plans for our distinguished centre of notable art.’

     Their gallery was well attended on its opening night, largely as a result of twelve weeks of intensive research into the art market and getting to know those important in the Sydney industry. The sales were excellent and they began their art career stunningly, their early days in the gallery being very profitable.

     So it was unexpected when Sakura wanted to leave the business, after ten months of continued excellent sales. After all, it was a lot of hard work. Sakura had no objection to hard work per se, but she no longer wanted to be a middleperson in the art world, a world she had come to adore because of its utter originality, and self-perpetuating nature. No, Sakura now wanted to set the trends. She was going to set herself up as an art critic, bound to set an entirely new tone to present art discourse. Naturally, she felt assured of achieving another goal.

     Achieving it was not to be though, the first thing in which she had failed. Sakura just couldn’t write a good art essay, despite the weeks she spent at it. Her sister was unable to help either, because she was busy running the gallery to repay the bank its business loan. Sakura quickly realised that she was an amateur writer, clumsy, and did not want to spend ten years (a hypothetical amount) in learning how to write well. An art critic she could not be. Working in science she still couldn’t do, in case she met Rawson again. She could have worked in policy, or maybe pharmaceuticals, but if she couldn’t work in Biology she didn’t really want to expend her energies in a false substitute. No, better to take an easy job and simply not worry about life anymore. She then tried looking for shelf packing jobs, and the like, but was repeatedly told she was overqualified. The constant rejections wore her down, never expecting science to be her downfall, and she eventually decided to take a small break from the job hunting. Her savings were also almost used up, so she may as well apply for unemployment welfare.

     Sakura soon realised she was almost destitute, her sister paying almost half of her rent (Kasumi could easily afford it though), and could see no reasonable way out. She considered leaving it all behind. Just walk out of her flat far from Sydney’s centre and opt out of the struggle for survival. Just walk out into the wilds about her neighbourhood. It sounded like bliss.

     Kasumi still doesn’t know where Sakura is, suddenly disappearing one morning. She left no note and the police could see no evidence of foul play. They couldn’t track her either by looking at her ATM card transactions, for she took her welfare out in one deposit from different places. She has also made no phone calls on her mobile, turned off. She also must have changed her clothing to avoid detection by CCTV along the route to the ATM. She was alive, thank God, but trying to be forgotten. Kasumi can only wait, hopeful Sakura will return.
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