Parasitic nightmares

Fearing the worst, she took a test and hoped against hope that her concerns were unfounded. So many times throughout her life she was told that this was a wonderful gift and that she would be so blessed to carry such a precious being inside of her. Some even told her that she would glow as if she radiated life itself. She had not the heart to tell them that this would be a curse, a leech that will drain her essence.

As she waits, dark visions flood her mind like a swarm of plague rats. In her mind she saw the beast within consuming her more each day, withering her flesh and bones to sustain itself. Her longing for the sweet release of sleep but it keeping her up at night with its kicking, trapping her in the endless horror. As her stomach stretches and swells, she knows that a single heartbeat will be all it takes for the nightmare to become reality. The thing will press its small hands against her flesh trying to push through the thin barrier.

It will claw and tear her apart to reach the outside world, oblivious to the screams of her as it inflects agony upon her. Maybe she will know before the pain even begins to wracks her body in excruciating waves that she will not survive this process. She will have to watch through a thin paper curtain as she is eviscerated and the shadows of her organs are laid on her chest while probing hands search for the life that has lived like a parasite inside of her for so long. She imagine that if fate is kind she will live to hold the it, but she knows she may not be so lucky. They say that a women forgets the pain of birth when she first holds her baby but will she be able to love something that completely changed her life?

Every moment she waits for the results of her test, the more her anxiety grows. The fearful thoughts in her head dwell on the thing that may await her if her fears become real. Finally her results, after what felt like ages, are displayed on the screen. A single red line reveals that she is safe from this horror for now. But then the ghost of a second line appears and she frets anew that she misread her fate. She begins to doubt if there really is a second line because it does not become clear like the first. Panic overtakes her as she takes a second test, digital this time, just to be certain. She can barely breath as she watches the screen waiting to see which path her life will take. She tries to calm down and plan for all eventualities but her worries that the first test already revealed her truth haunt her. At last, in solid black and white she has her answer. There is no life within her womb, she is free from the nightmare.

Author’s note: I wrote this story based on stories I have heard from many women regarding their experiences with pregnancy and childbirth, as well as my own experience with a pregnancy scare. I wanted to write this story from the perspective of a women who thinks she may be pregnant and does not want the child. This could be for many reasons and all are valid so I’m leaving that the the interpretation of the reader. Maybe she was assaulted, maybe she has a medical condition that could make pregnancy life-threatening, maybe she is not in a position financially to raise a child, maybe she is a child herself or maybe she just does not want children. It is for these and many other reasons why I am thankful to live in Canada where, even though some frown upon it, we have access to contraceptives and abortions. Maybe women around the world are not so lucky so I want this story to be a reminder that sometimes pregnancy can be beautiful to some but a horror to others.


Season of Harvest

The old women awoke to the sound of wood being put on the fire. She rose from bed and instinctively called her son’s name to ask if he had already started the morning meal but the man who answered was not her son, but rather his friend. Of course it wasn’t her son, he had fallen in battle months ago, that same battle had claimed this young man’s brother as well. The young man had begun caring for her ever since as she had no more living family left. The old woman felt her heart break for him. At her age, death was an old friend who had taken many of her loved ones but she could tell that this was not something the man was not familiar with yet. She knew he was only caring for her out of guilt that he could not protect his brother or her son but she appreciated the company nonetheless.

She was quite fond of the young man. He and his brother were very close friends with her son since childhood, so much so that people always thought the three boys were siblings. As he has gotten older, the man reminds her more of her late husbands. She lost him to sickness several years ago and the ache of that lose had never left her. The women asks the young man how his own family is doing. He can see the grief in her eyes and knows that she was briefly lost in memories so tells her that his wife is pregnant with their first child, a blessing as they have been trying to conceive for years. The man says that they will name the child after his brother and asks the woman if his family may have the honour of naming a future child after her son. She began to weep as she gave the young man permission to use his name, feeling so proud that her son had so many people who loved him as she did.

They left the house and were almost pushed over by two running children. The girl quickly apologized before continuing to chase the boy as he ran straight towards his family. The youngsters ran between their fathers, who were busy discussing this years harvest, and nearly caused the girl’s mother to trip. She shouted for the two to calm down and help her get things ready for the feast. The children groaned that their fun had been ended so soon and went about doing their chores. The boy’s mother was fussing over her oldest’s son’s appearance. He was to be initiated as a warrior today and was going to join the rest of the young men in their winter training away from the village. His face had been painted and he was wearing a new cloak his mother had made him but she kept insisting that his hair was messy despite all her brushing. The old woman chuckled to herself as she recalled the anxiety before her own son’s initiation and prayed that this mother would never know the pain of losing her sons.

The old woman was pulled from her thoughts by the cries of an infant. A man and his two daughters were unloading goods from their cart while his wife was attempting in vain to calm her baby. Despite her best efforts, the young mother could not get her son to stop crying so the old woman offered to help. She gently grabbed the baby and began to hum a melody her own son had loved as a child. The boy ceased his crying instantly and fell right to sleep, remaining so even when he was passed back to his mother. The old woman told the woman than some boys can be a little fussy but that music can calm even the most restless of babies. The mother thanked the old woman for her aid and began to hum while rocking her child in her arms.

The autumn celebration were about to so the elderly woman and her companion made their way towards the sacred grove to join with the rest of the village. The Druids performed the seasonal rites, thanking the Gods for the harvest and praying for their protection during the long winter. They called on the ancestors to watch over the village as well as to guide those taking the warrior’s oath so that they may be as honourable as those who came before. When the rites were competed, one of the Druids approached the old woman to reassure her that her son had joined his father amongst the ancestors and that she will be with them when it is her time as well. The Druid told her that all things end but death does not mean that end needs to be permanent. While she still grieved deeply , the old woman felt a sense of peace at the Druids words and allowed herself to enjoy the festival, knowing that her family was still with her even if she could not see them.

Writing about dreams

There is life in the realms of sleeping. Dreams, memories, prophecies. Places we long for and places we wish to forget. Our nighttime travels reveal the unseen hidden in the shadowy mists of illusion. We swim in clouds of vibrant colours unknown to waking eyes. We fall into oceans of music so beautiful and strange that even the best composers will spend lifetimes trying desperately to play even imperfect fragments. Stories flow in rivers of sand, streaming from source unknown to the grasping hands of those who may be able to carry a grain of truth. The is no time here for that is one of the three great lies, along with death and happiness. Everything is as solid as smoke and ephemeral as reality. The world is clay to be formed but the instructions where lost or never existed, either way the dreamers are the shapers and the shaped. The pages in the library are blank but you can read every word. All come here yet few ever meet and those that’s do never believe the other is real. There is madness is sanity and sanity in madness. This is all but a dream or maybe this is reality and reality is the dream. They say that dream is the sibling of death so perhaps we die when we sleep expect our body forgets to turn itself off. What is inspiration but ideas run amok on the page. This dream makes no sense or maybe it never did and was never supposed to. The nightingale is calling the sun or perhaps it is the lark calling the moon. Dreams never die, they just change their mask to suit the audience. People die though, their bodies turn to dust like books neglected. No one knows if they are alive in dreams or if those are just memories playing out a new scene in the play. There is no logic but how does one explain a dream without being seen as crazy. Style over substance makes bad writing but substance is itself a style, it’s just boring. Stream of consciousness only works when writing about the coherent, there is no such thing in dreams or in the mind of one who has too many rivers to cross. Maybe all this should have stayed a dream.

I’m trying my hand at stream of consciousness style. I’m not sure I’m very good at it but I might experiment with it in the future if I think this style might fit whatever I’m writing about. Hopefully it isn’t too messy.

The Eclipse

Let the moon be your guide, silver-eyed child, as you walk to the river. After tonight you shall be a girl no longer but a woman, rejoice in your becoming. Sing the songs of your mothers, dance the dances of your grandmothers, your ancestors are here with you. Every woman must walk this path and now it is your turn.

Approach the black wolf sitting by the riverbank and enter her jaws. Have no fear as you are devoured, the pain will fade in time. In birth, death and rebirth there is always blood and pain. Your girlhood dies as you become one with the amber-eyed wolf. Through blood you join your mothers, sisters, grandmothers and all those who came before you.

Embrace the joy of running free on strong legs and swift paws, cry out your elation at life renewed, enjoy the rush of the wind racing through your fur. You are wild, untamed and powerful but still you bleed. This blood will always remind you of this time of new beginnings. Blood will always guide you back to this place.

Return to the river and wash away the blood. Washed from newborn babes, washed from the initiated and washed from the dead. When you are clean, return to your village golden-eyed woman and know who you are. Wolf-born daughter, let no one muzzle your voice, bind your strength or cage your heart. You were born free and it is your birthright to sing, dance and howl.

Season of Flames

The horns of war blared loudly, jolting the two men awake in their tent. The oldest brother quickly donned his armour, grabbed his weapons and told his younger brother to hurry up before exiting their tent. The battle had already begun but there was no time to assess the situation, bandits where in the camp and he needed to fight. He quickly lost his brother in the confusion but his mind was focused only on staying alive. He would find the boy later and he said a silent prayer that they both survived this attack before rushing off into to find their Rix.

He followed the sounds of battle and headed towards where the noise was the loudest. The man knew that the Rix would be rallying the warriors to him so that they could fight back against these invaders who ambushed their camp more effectively. He ran past burning tents, men frantically trying to put out the fires while defending the camp from the raiders. He passed by the screams of the wounded and dying, straight towards the chaos ahead. The deafening cacophony of war overwhelmed him as he pushed his way through the enemy to rally with the rest of his band around their Rix. The stench of smoke, blood-churned mud and death choked his nose and made his eyes water but the warriors had to keep fighting.

A volley of arrows fell upon them like a dark cloud and the man was too slow to deflect all of those coming towards him as one imbedded itself into his right shoulder. He discarded his shield, too filled with arrows to wield anyways and gripped his sword with both hands. The pain in his shoulder was agonizing but he ferociously cut down any man who crossed his path. His vision turned red with the strength of his battle-fury, dulling all of the pain and weariness. He became like a reaper in field with every swing of his sword, mowing down his enemy as if they were wheat. The man and his battle comrades where able to drive the bandits from the camp after a long and desperate fight. A few of the warriors chased after any stragglers and slaughtered them with no remorse.

With the battle won, the bloody haze left his vision and the man was able to see his ruined camp with a somber clarity. Victory had been achieved but it was bittersweet as the warriors took stock of the wounded, missing and dead. Most of the tents where nothing more than ash and the bulk of their provisions were ruined. The enemy had made off with some of their valuables but that hardly mattered now. What mattered now was taking count of the casualties and helping those that needed it. The man wandered through the camp in search of his younger brother but the more he searched, the deeper his dread became that something terrible had happened. Ash was falling to the ground like snow and it was getting hard to breath but the man would not rest until he was reunited with his brother.

The man called out his brother’s name and prayed to the Gods that he was still alive. He couldn’t be dead, just last night they were making jokes around the fire about who was the most courageous. The brothers had even sung songs when they had had a bit too much mead. His little brother had only reached manhood this year, he was too young to die. Their mother had been worried sick that both her sons had been called to war so the older had made a promise that he would bring the boy back safe. He couldn’t be dead, the older brother kept praying, he had to be alive.

Finally, the man found his brother. His shield had been smashed and his left arm shattered. Unable to protect himself, an axe had cleaved through the boy’s shoulder and gotten lodged in his chest. His spirit was had long since departed when the older brother had found him, the icy pallor of death having already drained the life from his face. Hot tears blurred the man’s vision as he cradled his little brother’s broken body in his arms. No, he wept, this cannot be happening. His little brother was too full of joy and warmth to be this cold and empty thing. The boy haven’t even gotten a chance to marry the girl he fancied. How was the man going to tell her his brother was dead, how could he even face his mother knowing he had broken his promise to her. Anguish flooded over him as he clutched his brother’s corpse to his chest, his vision drowned by the tears that flowed down his cheeks like rivers. Unable to bear the grief, he threw back his head and screamed his pain to the heavens.

Season of Seeds

The woman awoke to the birds announcing the dawn of a new day with their cacophonous songs. She sleepily turned to her husband to see he if he was awake as well but he was still fast asleep. She gently nudged him awake and he groaned, refusing to open his eyes. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in close to get a few more undisturbed minutes of sleep. He has never been a morning person, especially this time of year when there is so much work to be done on the farm.

They lay together in each other’s arms until the sound of their youngest daughter’s crying forced them to get out of bed. Before rising to tend to their child, the woman’s husband kisses her on the cheek and then leaned down to kiss her swollen belly. The couple had already been blessed with two daughters and they are hoping that this third child will be their first son. The man picked up the crying girl and tried to calm her down. The woman checked the pot of porridge resting on the coals and added honey to it until she was satisfied with the taste, then she scooped the porridge into wooden bowls and placed them on the table while her husband woke their eldest daughter so that the family could eat together. With their youngest daughter on his lap, the man made silly noises to make the infant girl giggle while he fed her the cooling porridge. Since the woman was quite far along in her pregnancy, she told her oldest daughter that the girl would be helping her father in the field today.

When the family left the house to begin their work, the women was in awe with how much her eldest had grown. The girl is old enough to begin learning the knowledge of the earth that has been passed down their family from mother to daughter since time immemorial. She will learn which plants to touch and which need to be handled with care; which can heal and which can kill; which can aid in fertility and which, the mother prays her daughter will never need to use, will save her from unwanted pregnancy. The woman will teach her daughter of the sacred herbs and how to harvest them. The mistletoe, when grown on the oak, must never be touched for only the Druids can harvest that plant with their golden scythe. But all this will be taught in time, the women thought, she is still young and has much to learn before she reaches womanhood.

While her husband began tilling the field, their eldest daughter followed behind planting the grain in the freshly churned earth. The woman took her youngest girl down to the river to wash their clothes. On the way to the water, the pair had found some berries growing near the house and stopped to snack on some. Still a messy eater, the toddler was completely sticky with berry juice by the time they reached the river. Once they reached the bank, the girl tore off her berry-stained clothes and raced into the frigid waters to bathe. She shrieked with laughter as she began splashing around while her mother collected the discarded garments and hoped the juice would come out. The woman scrubbed at the fresh stains on the girl’s dress while she began chasing small fish around the river. Satisfied that the laundry was clean, the woman collected her giggling daughter and returned to the house.

The field had been fully plowed in their absence and the oldest daughter had already begun making the bread that that they would have with their lunch. The woman set the laundry to dry and began roasting the chicken her husband had just finished butchering. Properly seasoned and cooked to perfection, the family enjoyed their meal of roast chicken and bread together. Once they had finished eating, the woman quickly collected the dried laundry and brought it inside as the sky had darkened considerably, announcing that rain was on its way. The family sat by the hearth to enjoy the rest of their day indoors as the thunderstorm began. The women mended holes in their clothing while her husband carved small wooden figures for the children and told them their favourite stories. As she did, she felt her baby kick and she knew that it was only a matter of days before she brought a third life into the world.


Our city was truly a jewel. Trade, especially that of grain, would flow through its river port like the lifeblood of a fiercely beating heart. Vast was the wealth that poured from our mines into the arms of the craftsman. It was a holy place where Druids from all across the land would convene to exchange knowledge and ideas. But nothing good can last forever.

We tried to be agreeable with the Romans when they came to trade at our docks. For years we learned their language, respected their customs, housed their legions and sent our children to their city to get Roman educations. The Romans showed little intention of ever returning the courtesy but still we tried to remain welcoming and fair. Things began to take their toll when Roman’s began to live among us and began to act as if this land was already theirs.

We had not had a king for a very long time as we had no need of them but the Roman tyrant disregarded our way of life and installed a puppet king from one of our own noble families so that he could rule us through his willing servant. This dog had no respect from the people he sought to command and we began to chafe under his reign. Three years we gave him a chance before we took his head from his shoulders, his love of his Roman masters greater than his love for his own people. With this death, the Romans showed us who they really were. A Roman was sent to our city to ensure that grain still flowed down our river to supply their army, we could not allow this blatant disrespect to go unpunished. The bastards should have learned when we executed the false king that we will not be ruled by anyone.

The ripples of our actions where felt much further than our city. A neighbouring tribe had attempted to remove their own puppet king but the coward fled into the arms of the Romans. The man who led this revolt was brutally slaughtered by Caesar who hoped to set an example of what fate awaited any who rebelled. Contrary to his intentions, this only stoked the fires of our anger into an inferno of hate. Something had to be done.

The chiefs gathered in our sacred forests to plot our way to freedom. A spark needed to be lit that would ignite all of Gaul into revolution. Some of the chiefs wanted the reason with the Romans, others felt that all was already lost, but a few honourable men chose to fight. Of our tribe, two brave men stepped forward to lead the first attack, one that would rid our home of the Roman scourge that had plagued us for so long.

We flooded through our streets like a river swollen with rain and killed any Roman we came across. Our mission was clear, no Roman would be welcomed in Cenabon as long as we still call it home. We cared not if they were a small merchant or great general, they all fell to our swords, axes and spears. The battle cries of our people would be heard from all corners of the land and the Romans would know that war is upon them. This uprising will awaken the sleeping hearts of the other tribes and we will rise as one people to remove the enemy at our gates.

The Druids have taught us in our sacred forests that life exists after death so the only Roman steel we fear is the chains they wish to place on our necks. Even if they strike us down with their blades we will not die, we live on and be born again. So let the legions come to avenge their dead merchants, we will be ready for them. Let the tribes of Gaul unite to save our homeland from these invaders.

The uprising at Cenabum, the capital city of the Carnutes tribe, is strongly believe to be the catalyst for the Gallic Wars. There had been small revolts against the Romans prior to this but Cenabum caused waves of rebellion to spread all across Gaul until it reached Vercingetorix of the Arverni, who led a unified Gaulish army against the Roman army.


Fallen warrior of mighty Gaul
You let loose the ancient battle cry
Together you stood proud and tall
Shields strong, swords to the sky

No fear found on your weathered faces
To be free, you chose to stand and fight
Against invaders from far off places
To defend your home, too late to unite

To safety, a path you tried to carve
For the sick, the young, and the old
Caesar instead let them freeze and starve
Trapped in no man’s land, in bitter cold

Roman walls locked you in a cage
Plans fell apart, chaos and confusion
Still you fought with strength and rage
Until surrender was the only solution

Bravely you rode out to face your foe
Everything lost, a struggle in vain
A people once so high, now brought low
The sting of defeat, an agonizing pain

Gaul, through Alesia, fell to a tyrant
This felt like the end to your story
The Dêuoi wept, Their voices made silent
Lost was the age of valour and glory

We honour you, brave fallen dead
And celebrate your lingering legacy
We carry on the fight in your stead
To end, at last, oppression and tyranny

Alesia was a pivotal battle during the Gallic Wars as the defeat of Vergincetorix at the hands of Julius Caesar essentially marked the end of Gaulish independence. From 52BC to the fall of the Roman Empire, Gaul became a Roman province and its people would slowly become Roman themselves.


A scorched earth strategy.

That’s what he told our people would be the key to defeating the enemy but the leaders of our city could not stand to see it burn. They wanted to defend our home because they thought that the city was impregnable. They should have listened.

We fought hard to defend the city. Arrows, stones and burning pitch bombarded the enemy from the top of the wall and a tunnel was dug below to destabilize their incomplete ramp. The Gods themselves seemed to lend us their aid when they sent rain to inhibit the construction of the siege engines. However the ramp was completed against all odds and the enemy was on the walls.

We stood in the streets to fight but they rained arrows from our own walls, more a slaughter than a battle. Enemy soldiers flooded the city, killing all they came across. The air was choked with our screams as much as it was choked with smoke from the fires set to root us out of hiding. Men, women, children, all were slain at enemy hands. These things don’t happen, the officers are supposed to stop this madness but the general ordered his men to do what they please. The soldiers enjoyed the carnage they brought to our home while we did everything we could just to survive.

We should have listened. Our city was doomed to burn but it would have been better if we had lit the fire ourselves. At least then we would still be alive to rebuild rather than ghosts wandering the broken streets.

This story is based on the Siege of Avaricum in 52BC where Vergincetorix told the Bituriges Cubi tribe to burn the city to deny the Roman’s supplies in order to starve them out of Gaul rather than risk a battle where the chances of a Gaulish victory were very slim. The leaders of the tribe thought the city was impossible to take given its geography and design but it fell after a 25 day assault led by Julius Caesar. Only about 800 of the original 40,000 inhabitants survived.

Season of Hunting

The boy awoke to the sound of his younger sister tending the hearth, bringing the dying flames back to life. Last night was bitterly cold so his mother stayed awake to ensure that the fire did not go out. It must remain lit, not only to keep the cold at bay but also to bring light into the home to ward away the darkness. His eldest sister once told him that monsters roam the forest outside of the village during this frozen time of year and that the fire keeps them away as well. He is not certain if he believes her but the awful howling he heard last night sounded otherworldly. Either way, the warmth emanating from the hearth is welcomed during these dark and frigid times.

Today is the day that the boy’s father will take him on him first hunt. His older brother would not stop bragging about the size of the deer he had caught during his first hunt so the boy is eager to prove himself by catching a bigger one. His brother is on the cusp of manhood so this will be their family’s last winter with him before he joins the warband to begin his initiations. In a few more years it will be the boy’s turn as well and he is eager to begin his own rites. The boy had often dreamed of the glory he will win during the summer cattle raids and of the beautiful girl he will one day make his wife.

His father pulls him from his reveries when he enters the house with more wood for the fire, the cold morning air following him into the house. He tells the boy to grab his things so that they can begin their hunt, already the distant sun is rising. The boy grabs his spear, knife as well as his bow and quiver of arrows. There is still much for the boy to learn regarding the spear but he is an excellent shot so that alone should catch them a few rabbits at least. Grabbing a water skin and some dried meat, father and son depart their home to begin their hunt.

They pass by the house next to theirs on their way to the forest and the boy sees why they had left so late. A small mound of stone has been erected near the house and his father tells him that the old women who live there had died during the night. The ground is much too hard this time of year for a proper burial so the stones have been placed around her body to appease her spirit until she can be laid to rest when the earth has thawed. A young girl around the boy’s age is crying next to the stones, the women’s grand-daughter, so he calls her name and boasts that he will catch the finest rabbit for her to cheer her up. She says she will be more impressed if he can bring her a deer instead and so the boy swears to her that he will but she will owe him a kiss when he returns. She laughs loudly at this, her sorrow forgotten for now and the boy thinks about how he will marry this girl when he is older.

The boy and his father leave the village and make their way into the woods fo begin the hunt. They make traps for rabbits so that if they fail to catch larger game at least they will not go hungry. The father praises the boy on his knots, impressed that the boy has picked up these skills so quickly. Traps set, the pair make their way further into the woods, following a path that deer have been known to use this time of year. They walk quietly for what feels like hours when they come upon a clearing full of grazing deer. As they approach the clearing, the man gestures to his son to get his bow ready and to stay out of sight. The boy does as he has been taught and pulls back the bowstring, aiming his arrow at the nearest deer. He lets the arrow fly and it lands firmly in the deer’s chest. The herd scatters and the hunters chase after them. The boy fires a second arrow and it hits the deer in the hind leg, slowing it down enough for his father to grab it. Pinning the deer down, the father struggled to holds back its head so that the boy can finish it. The young hunter hesitates for a second when he looks into the eyes of the deer and sees the fear in it but he runs his knife across its neck, ending its suffering.

The man lets go of the dead deer and clasps his hand on the boy’s shoulder, proud of his son’s courage. They clean the deer together so that they can make their way back home. The boy offers to carry the deer back to the village but he is too small to lift it despite all his effort. His father lets out a booming laugh at his son’s display of strength and tells him that one day he’ll be strong enough. They walk back to the village with their prize and check their traps in the way back. Most are empty but one has snagged a rabbit. The boy grabs it and asks if he can give it to the girl who’s grandmother has passed on. His father ponders this and tells the boy that a women would not be impressed by a dead rabbit but she may appreciate some new fur gloves as well as some stew. The boy nods and runs back to the house to tell his brother all about the hunt.

This is something new I’m trying out for the site. I enjoy writing stories so I tried to write a slice of life story set during the Iron Age. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Season of Hunting is part of a series of seasonal stories so be on the look out for those in the near future.