Friday 29 July 2016


by Lyra Reyes

Mist. She can't see through the mist. She clucked her tongue to call her dog to her side. A lifetime of practice has given her the ability to separate the dreams from reality; the moment she took her first step along the trail she knew she was dreaming.

But this is different.

Her dog was here, for one. While her faithful wolfhound has always been at her side in the physical world, he was never in her dreams and visions. The other thing is that this place felt familiar. She knew that she had never been there before but in her dream she felt something for it that she has trained herself not to feel for anything else: attachment.

She carefully took a step through the mist, waiting for something to happen. There is something in these woods, she thought. She was certain that it was evil. Before she can take another step, her dog suddenly growled and bounded forward to disappear in the mist.

"Dammit, Van Helsing, come back here!" She rushed forward, willing her eyes to quickly adjust to the darkness. She stopped, disoriented, then ran toward the sound of snarling. Dog, where are you? she thought desperately as she heard snarls that sounded differently from her dog's.

As she burst out of the mist into a clearing, she saw Van Helsing and a large black wolf circling each other. The wolf looked up at her and she saw red eyes and a silver marking on it's head.

Before she can call to her dog, the wolf bunched back and leaped at her.

She threw up her hand to shield herself but there was no need. Van Helsing had slammed his body against the wolf. She stood, dazed for a moment, as her dog and the wolf rolled around, their jaws snapping.

Get your shit together, Adrianna, she thought. Her heart rose to her throat as the wolf pinned Van Helsing and prepared to sink its teeth on his throat. Before she can throw up out a hand, a bolt of fire came down from the sky and struck the wolf.

Its scream before it burst into mist was almost human.

As she gathered her whimpering dog in her arms, she whispered over and over again, it's just a dream.


A week passed before Addy deemed Van Helsing fully recovered from his injuries. During that week, she put her house on the market and has started packing her things. The sleepy town of Crisfield has been their home for three years - the longest she could remember in her thirty years - but it was time to leave. Again.

She felt no regret in leaving the town behind. She felt no sadness in clearing out her pantry in a kitchen that overlooks a backyard lawn leading to a small dock. She had no qualms packing her clothes in a bedroom with windows offering her a view of the pristine waters of the Chesapeake. It was not her way. Her way was to keep moving. Because while her lips called the beautiful bungalow with the wrap-around porch her home, in her heart she knew that it wasn't.

Home has always been where her parents where. When they died in a car crash that she survived ten years ago, her home has been wherever she makes it. 

She finished packing the brushes - the tools of her trade - and moved on to the tools her mother passed down to her. She always packed them last.

Van Helsing sat in the corner, thumping his tail, watching her carefully wrap her scythe.

"The realtor called this morning," she told the dog. "He might have someone over next week to look at the house." She placed the  wrapped scythe inside a large black trunk and reached for her athame.

"We won't be here anyway. We'll be leaving in two days, dog." Van Helsing yawned, used to his human talking to him. "I feel the need to go west, this time. Still close to water, but far from here."

She picked up a piece of paper from the table and waved it at the dog. "It's fate, Van Helsing. Finding a house for sale in Lanai island is nothing short of fate."

Turning around, she picked up an oval scrying mirror and proceeded to wrap it, too. "Sure, it's in Hawaii, which is way across the country. But a house on the beach on an island whose town doesn't even have a traffic light? Perfect."

And she felt it, in her gut. The moment she saw the ad the morning after her dream of the wolf, she felt the pull of the island. She never ignored her gut.

"You'll have a lot of places to run around in. And maybe, no more wolf dreams."

Van Helsing thumped his tail and huffed, as if telling her that he doubted that as much as she did.


She was tired. But she was exhilarated. She took her time driving from Crisfield to Los Angeles. By the time I get to Lanai, she thought, the house in Crisfield would probably have already been sold.

Looking at her rearview mirror, she carefully backed up her truck into the loading platform of the ferry. It took her the entire time from Ohio to Oklahoma to get used to driving with the large U-Haul.

It took only three days in Indiana before the dream came back. Tamer, yes, but somehow much worse. Addy felt that it was still gathering strength and she braced herself for the attack that may or may not come. What it was escaped her. None of her mother's books and journals mentioned anything about a wolf with a triquetra on its head.

The libraries along the way were of no help, either. Not that most libraries carried the books that may contain what she's looking for. She toyed with the thought of reaching out to the others, a thought rejected almost as soon as it formed. She was not a joiner; having no coven or apprentice.  

It doesn't mean she avoided company, though. For the weeks they stayed in Arizona, Addy tool up hiking where she met many different people. It was there that she met three women who regularly casted their circle in the Catalinas. She stayed long enough to cast it with them and ask about the wolf. Receiving no useful response, she bid them farewell and went on her way. Addy didn't join them again. She is content on her own, with only Van Helsing keeping her company.

The Saturday of their seventh week in Arizona, she dreamed of the forest again. There was no wolf this time, no mist. She was surrounded by a bright light coming from the sky and voices whispering in her ear.

The next morning, she packed, drove straight to LAX, and caught the noontime flight to Kahului. She arrived in Kahului Sunday afternoon and, having left her rental car in Los Angeles with instructions for it's return, went straigh to a dealership to purchase a secondhand pick-up truck. 

The drive from Kahului to Lahaina Harbor had been uneventful and now, she was seated on the upper deck with Van Helsing. She wanted the salty air. She wanted to see the approach to her island.

She thought of it as her island without even setting sight on it.

"We're almost there, dog," she murmured to the wolfhound lying by her feet.

Van Helsing tilted his head. Then stood up and let out one short bark. The answering bark behind her had Addy turning her head. On the other end of the deck, a woman stood beside a large wolfhound that looks almost exactly like Van Helsing. The wolfhound barked again and started straining against the leash held by the woman. Addy saw the woman shrug, roll her eyes, then started walking toward them.

"Looks like they both found a friend," she said. She had a smooth voice that held a hint of Western American accent.

"Looks like," she replied. "I'm Addy."

"Alyssa." She reached out to shake Addy's hand. "Visiting the island?"

"Actually, no. I'm moving there." Addy said. "You?"


"Kinda visiting or kinda moving?"

"Visiting." For a moment, Alyssa looked unsure. "I may have to spend quite a bit of time there."

"May have?"

"It's a bit difficult to explain."

Addy shrugged. She had her fair share of unexplainable decisions so she rarely asked other people about theirs. She looked over the dogs, now rolling on and around each other. "They look so much alike."

Alyssa laughed, "yeah, it's a good thing they have differently-colored collars or we might end up bringing home the wrong dog."

"It's a good thing the island is small. It'll be easy to return the dogs if that happens." Addy said, chuckling.

The dogs rolled dangerously close to the deck railing but before Addy could call out a warning, Alyssa sharply called her dog's name. Both wolfhounds looked sheepishly up at them before rolling away from the edge.

"Wait, what's the name of your dog?" Addy asked.

"Dracula. Why?"

"My dog's name is Van Helsing. I was reading Bram Stoker when I got him five years ago from a woman who owned a shop that sold the most amazing skin creams."

"In Montana?"

Suprised, Addy nodded. "yes, I lived in Montana for a time."

Alyssa was quiet for a moment. "I was reading Bram Stoker when my mother's wolfhound gave birth to two puppies. I kept one and gave one away" Another pause. "I live in Montana. My mother was a registered herbalist who owned a shop that sold medicinal potions and skin care products."

This was important, Addy thought. I feel that there's something important happening here.

"Defining moments," Alyssa said. " In her letter to me, my mother talked about how the little moments would define our lives. Me keeping one puppy. You adopting the other. Both of us reading the same novel at the same time and naming our dogs after the characters of the book. Us being on the same boat."

It made sense. Addy's brain can't wrap itself around it yet but in her heart she knew that it made complete sense. 

"How did you end up on this boat, Addy?" Alyssa asked.

"I saw an online ad about a house and felt the need to go there." Addy answered. "So I loaded myself, Van Helsing, and our things on a car and a U-Haul, and drove from the Chesapeake to Los Angeles. I almost didn't push through with it because I enjoyed staying in Tucson so much."

"But you kept going."

"Because of a dream."

Addy watched the color drain from Alyssa's face. "What's wrong?"

"I'm on my way to the island because of a dream, too. And a letter."

They were both silent for a bit.

"Wolf?" Addy asked.



"From someone named Anna, yes."

"What did it say?"

Alyssa looked at her. "I think you know."

"I never received a letter from anyone."

"I think you know." Alyssa repeated.

Addy remembered the last dream that she had of the woods. The one she had the previous Saturday with just the bright light and the whispers. The voices said the same thing over and over again.

Come home. Your sisters need you.

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

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Did I just hear my brother's voice?

By Letitia Prescott

I'm looking at a tiny, electric blue creature bobbing in a rock pool. From a distance, it looks like a large sapphire. My brother Ty told me that they’re the most poisonous jellyfish in the region. Since arriving at the campsite, him and his friends have grown used to me slipping away; I think they put it down to me being his reserved, much older sister. It was Mum’s idea that I come with them and so far Ty doesn’t seem to mind too much.

I’m at the bottom of a cliff. Its limpet-strewn wall towers above me like a shield against the blasting sun, and the resulting shadow covers a long stretch of the beach before fading into the jostling waves. I imagine Ty and his friends are now heading back to the campsite to shower and snooze. They're a nice bunch, particularly Isabella. On our first night, she helped me to set up my tent and offered to mend Ty’s bent glasses when I’d given up trying. Predictably, my brother’s girlfriend Lucy hasn’t lifted a finger since we got here. And she remains indifferent to me, or 'just shy' as Ty likes to tell people.

The jellyfish now floats by my toes which edge forward, in wait for a sting of the blood freezing kind. I step away from the rock pool. I never knew wobbly flesh and stringy guts could look so pretty and hypnotic. I feel special for finding it.

The sun has climbed from behind the cliff and its rays now catch my eyes in flashes.
Like an echo, a human voice reaches my ears. Did I just hear my brother's voice? I listen intently. Each crunching grain of sand sounds like a giant foot pounding the ground. I go to get my bottle of water out and my brother’s voice reaches me once more. I shout his name but he doesn’t answer; I repeat this three times but still nothing. This isn’t funny Ty.  

I think his voice is coming from a nearby cave that looks exactly like all the others we’ve seen. I’m itchy and irritable and I don’t want to go in there but Ty is my baby brother. To me, he’ll always be the toddler in a nappy with oversized wellies.

I must have left the group ages ago. I can’t call anyone or check the time as I left my phone on my towel. I’m starting to believe Ty’s voice is an auditory hallucination which would mean that the real Ty might start to worry soon. If not, I'm sure the others will sound the alarm, so to speak. I know Lucy won't, she'll just keep quiet and lean on his shoulder like some heavy, wet towel. 

I want to bodyboard, eat churros and apply sand-covered sunscreen. But to do that, I need to follow the length of the beach and the mid afternoon sun is going to wrestle me to the ground. I’m also torn because it would mean leaving Ty behind and I must make sure he’s okay. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense, I’m getting muddled. Where the hell are you, Ty? I need to make a move soon because my skin is starting to look less ‘caramel’ and more ‘seared tuna.’

I decide I must check the cave, just in case. I look back for human help but the place is deserted. Like a lonely turtle, my shoulders carry the weight of the rocky landscape and the vastness of the sea. Once inside, the cave isn’t as cool as I was hoping but I’m protected from the salt and the glare.

The place looks very much empty and now I feel stupid. I head out but just as I’m making my way past the rock pool, I hear my brother again. The tone and depth of his voice are too convincing so I sprint back through the enormous cave entrance, and rush randomly into the mouth of an uneven corridor. Repeatedly, I shout Ty’s name, willing the words to travel down the rock labyrinth into his ears. The corridor narrows against my sides, causing my clothes to catch and my hair to brush against the weird limpets. This whole experience is grossing me out. The corridor soon invites me into a vice-like tunnel, thick in darkness except for some light filtering through from the other end. It’s too small to walk so I think of Ty in his wellies to force myself to crawl. My hands land on strange shapes, that slide and crunch under my weight.  

Fighting claustrophobia, I finally manage to wriggle out the exit before landing on the hard ground below. The cavern is a dome with blue tinted rock and dripping walls. A small lake is at the centre and the same blue tint runs through the surface of the still water. The path I just landed on travels the length of the lake and beyond. The cavern is quiet yet it lacks a sense of peace. I’m looking around for Ty, when a chill licks my shoulder and something stirs in the dark water. I’m expecting a large fish of some kind to appear but the surface remains static like a sheet of glass. I can feel someone is here, I really can. It’s hard to tell from the way the light hits the stone walls but something is moving in a crevice, on the other side of the lake. My heart rate doubles. It moves again and I see a ray of light bounce off two shiny circles. Another flash and this time there’s no mistaking that the circles are in fact the lenses from a pair of glasses. It’s my brother.

The voice is real after all. I came back for you Ty, I didn’t give up. I wonder if he’ll be able to see me from where he is. When he finally clocks me, I go to shout hello but he signals me to be quiet with an alarming urgency. He looks younger somehow with scruffy hair and skinny shoulders. From the crevice, he walks forward but a soft splashing noise makes him retreat. What was that? The lake breaks open and some kind of beast emerges, enveloped in a fleshy ‘curtain’; it then turns on its side and slides back into the water. I start shrieking and Ty runs over with wild eyes and arms covered in bloody cuts. He puts his hand over my mouth and begs me to shut up. The creature has disappeared and I’m filled with terror and disgust. Ty coughs ‘We wanted some time alone but when we got here, she slipped.’

I stay calm for his sake. ‘See that tunnel, I just came from there’ I tell him ‘Come on, we can do this. I promise we’ll come back for Lucy.’ I notice his ripped, blood stained T-shirt as he says ‘I came with Isabella not Lucy.’ I should be shocked about this but I’m not. Suddenly the beast rises again, lingers then recedes with an audible heaviness. Before it disappears, the ‘curtain’ is exposed just long enough for me to see that it spreads out like a misshapen hoop skirt; the kind Victorian ladies used to wear. But the ladies would have had pretty skirts and flounces to cover the hoops, whereas this creature has no cover just gruesome bone strips and draped layers of flesh. Ty looks close to tears when he says ‘Isabella had cuts all down her arms just like mine. Every time I tried to reach her, that thing rushed towards me. It wore me down.’ It’s hard to believe that that beast could rush, but the ocean isn’t something I know much about. I place Ty’s arm around my neck and support his weight as we stumble towards the tunnel. I sense another stir from the centre of the lake. I pick up the speed and we’re almost there when Ty decides to break free, his eyes wild again. ‘I need to find her. You can’t just leave people behind. Go to hell, you freak!’ he shouts at the lake. He then precedes to cry out Isabella’s name at the water, the walls and the ceiling.

I grab him to shut him up but he resists and the impact throws me to the edge of the water. I can see the shadow of the creature near the centre, bobbing under the blue surface, psyching itself up. I try to move but the sun has killed my energy, and the stone on which I have landed feels like it’s pulling me down, like quicksand. The monster bobs and bobs and then bang! It thrashes towards me with such speed that my veins, muscles and bones go rigid. With slick precision, it suddenly stops at the edge right next to my paralysed body and drops under the surface. Our pointless screams travel in circles around the cavern, the echoes as trapped as we are. Ty tries to pull me to my feet but it’s too late. The monster rises, first revealing its enormous jagged teeth then its bloodshot yellow eyes and finally the rest of its head and torso, both emanating that same blue tint. The ‘curtain’ is in fact a gelatinous corset and skirt that sway in the filtered light. ‘Lucy?’

Friday 1 July 2016

Where to Go?

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

Dedicated to Michael Fitzpatrick, one of my cousins who has brought my Irish home so very much closer.

Which comes first, the mental illness or the abuse of illicit drugs? Michael Pearse, like everyone else, had no idea. But schizophrenic he was and he seemed to be happy in his fate. Mind you, if Michael could have his time over again, but with different choices available, he would have avoided pot like the plague, which had led to other drugs. These other drugs, speed in particular, were the sole reason why he was homeless and why his genetic schizophrenia had been triggered: the money he saved on the rent he spent on speed, perpetuating his mental illness. It was no way to live, but Michael seemed happy enough in his squats, grateful for every sparse blessing.
    Such a blessing, though disguised, had currently enveloped him: he was in the Missenden Unit, the psychiatric wing of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, near the centre of Sydney. Michael had just been taken there, after some police on patrol saw him agitatedly talking to himself whilst walking nearby King Street, Newtown, in rags. When Michael appeared obviously delusional upon questioning they took him to the Missenden Unit.
    Michael hated Missenden, always had, because it was so small and cramped, unlike other psychiatric institutions he’d been to. He always escaped because he hated the unit so much, but this time the nurses were watching him a lot more closely. At least the food, for which he duly thanked the Lord, was excellent. Some consolation, and indeed a great blessing.
   In fact, the food was so good that Michael seriously considered not escaping this time back to his squat, which his searchers would never enter because it was deemed to be a safety hazard. He himself was surprised when he made a sudden dash for it, after his fifth excellent dinner there, knowing he’d catch the nurses by surprise. Which he did.
    Quickly back on the nearby road of Missenden he considered where to go. He had a feeling they would capture him back at his squat (having given his address) because the benefits of his searchers eventually entering his unsafe premises outweighed the risks. They were intent on finally catching him, to show him that a better life is available. But without speed.
    So he decided to go to sea, the opposite of where they’d probably be looking for him. He was full of hope.


It took him two weeks to get a job on a ship and then only as a cabin boy. He explained his twenty-five years of age, with no sailing experience, as the culmination of a bad life that he had just decided to flee abroad from, and forget everything. Which was, in a sense, true. Unusually, he did not miss speed when he was at sea. It just simply was not a problem. The addiction was washed away with the waves. And he had other things to worry about.
    By the time he got to New Zealande he abandoned ship, just left. He was so ill from a sea-sickness that just wouldn’t go away that he didn’t care if he lost his accrued pay as a result of deserting his post. Anything, anything, to stop the perpetual nausea.
    When he was finally recovered, in a park near the ocean, after almost two days wrapped in his warm sleeping bag only sipping water occasionally, he realised he was in a very, very serious fix. Should he stay here in New Zealande, where he was effectively an outcast, or return to the safeties of home? There were pros to each side. In New Zealande he could start completely afresh, and, if he worked hard and was honest, he could, if he so wished, possibly carve his name into the annals of history. Or he could return to Sydney and fall back into the old familiar groove. Eventually. At least it was familiar.
    Well, he really had no choice. The easiest thing to do was to stay here in New Zealande. Michael naturally thought that he was tossed up on the shore here in Wellington by the Fates, and the Fates had reasons. Naturally, very good reasons. So he rolled up his sleeping bag, repacked his swag, and set off, envisioning his new home, a snug centre from which to conquer the world.
    His first step to acquiring his own place was to apply for unemployment welfare. He expected minor difficulties in acquiring such, but nothing serious. After all, weren’t he and New Zealande ruled by the same English head of state? Of course. Therefore, there should be only minor issues in getting the dole.
    New Zealande however took a very dim view of his welfare application. A very dim view indeed. To be blunt, they viewed him as a criminal, a stupid criminal, obviously trying to swindle the good taxpayers of New Zealande. Not only was his application denied but the police were called. Michael could have, of course, ran, but that would really be compounding the problem. He announced to the welfare staff that he would calmly await the police, and was told in turn that he only faced deportation so there was no real problem if he remained co-operative. Jail would most likely result from any attempt to flee, and further evade the New Zealande authorities.
    While waiting for the police he thought of speed for the first time in what seemed to be months. Gz, a shot right now would be good. It would make everything clear, give him some meaning for his life.
    When the police finally arrived to deport him he had resolved that his first Aus dole payment would be spent equally on speed and pot. Man, was he really looking forward to that party!


The party proved to be the worst of his life. He ended up in Missenden again, voluntarily committing himself after taking far too much speed, but being only admitted if he swore that this would be his last admission if he escaped again. He swore upon his soul, promising to give up all illicit drugs, and with the nurses’ help finding meaning elsewhere. Not necessarily in a job, working for the Man, but something that gave his life meaning, something worthwhile, like volunteer work, or setting up a business. Maybe art?
    He left the Missenden Unit six weeks later, upon the path of a writer, and his future was clear and rosy before him.


If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and paperbacks (go to Other ebook and paperback options are available at