Shadow Train: Part 1


Here’s a cute story I wrote for my nephews. It’s about reoccurring characters in a series of stories I tell them called the “Shadow Train” series.  It’s basically horror for young kids.  The purpose is to be scary, but to also communicate to the kids that the world is ultimately knowable, when utilizing certain tools (reason, logic etc.).  Thanks ~Mark

It was a beautiful day in the Unknown forest, where Kryllion and Flana, two brothers, live together in a house out in the woods with no road leading up to it, or surrounding houses.
These two brothers found this house, one day, on a hike through the Unknown Forest, so called for being completely unknown. Which is how the unknown forest got its name in the first place. It is quite simple really, it had never been explored, and therefore considered “unknown.” Hence its name.
You get the idea.
This is also the same reason why our two heroes decided one day to hike to, and through the Unknown Forest.

Our two heroes, the brothers Kryllion and Flana had heard about this vast unexplored expanse of earth while at a breakfast restaurant one morning. They were brought there by their mother and father one Sunday morning before church that day. The family sat down in a booth, where from Kryllion could easily do some eavesdropping on two elderly gents sitting in the next booth over. Before that had come to mind however, Kryllion decided to order the waffles, “with extra syrup please” he told the waitress; and Flana also decided to get the waffles “and please add extra syrup, thank you” he too told the waitress.
The waitress then left to tell their and their mother and father’s breakfast orders to the cook. This is when the aforementioned two gents entered the restaurant, and sat down in the booth adjacent to theirs.
Mother and Father were sipping coffee out of mugs, and discussing something they called a “mortgage,” while Flana sucked on a straw in a cup of chocolate milk; while Kryllion also sucked from a straw in cup of chocolate milk.
Then, Kryllion overheard from behind him, where the two gents had taken up seating, one of them say “well? Where is it? Have you brought the map?”
To which the other replied “ahh, let me tell you.”
“I made doubly sure, even TRIPLEY sure to bring it!” The first gent began to say.
“For last night I placed it intentionally on the kitchen table so as not to forget to bring it here to our weakly meeting at Fran O’ Hans Breakfast Nook “best waffles in town,” where we’ve meet every week now going on 8 years now-”
“Sure have. And so?” The other interrupted impatiently.
“Yes, well” he continued, “when I left the house this morning I checked my pocket for the map once outside the door, and did not find it there! So I went back inside and there it was on the table, intentionally placed there so I would see it on my way out the door and therefore remember to have on my person, at the time of, and for the very purposes of this very meeting, here right now.”
“Yes yes I’m listening” the other gent encouraged.
“Yes well, then , while inside, the phone decided to ring. And so I answered it, and Ho should it be? But YOU of course, dear friend, calling to remind me to ‘not forget the map, see you in ten minutes’ to which, I replied ‘ten minutes! Well look at the time,’ and so I hung up the phone and promptly left the house.”
“Yes I remember, that was 13 minutes ago, and the map?.”
“I’m getting to that. So then, I decided to stop but again, in order to check to see whether or not I indeed carried the map, as you had so implored me to do.”
“And it wasn’t there! I had forgotten it yet again!”
“You forgot the map!?”
“Let me finish my story!” The kindly gent insisted.
“Alright then,” the other, more impatient gent accepted.
“Well, I then had the thought ‘I had better go back and get the map,’ so I went back inside, and then when I had emerged a third time, I checked my pocket, and: no map.”
“Well what had distracted you this third time from securing the map?”
“Huh? Oh, well, nothing: I just plain forgot.”
“Oh good gracious man! This is getting ridiculous!”
“But not to worry old friend, I went in a fourth time see! With the express purpose to pick up the map! And here it is.”
Kryllion heard a crinkling sound of paper, and imagined a large piece of old paper being unfolded.
At this that moment Kryllion stopped listening to the bickering of the two old gents, and looked over at his brother Flana, who had been blowing bubbles into his chocolate milk with such veracity that it was erupting out of it and getting all over his place mat.
He looked up, caught Kryllion’s eyes and they both had a laugh.
Father told Flana to stop it and wiped most of the spilt milk up with a napkin, before going back to talking with Mother.
This is when Kryllion started to think to himself “I don’t think the waffles are ever coming.”
So Kryllion waits, and starts to listen in on, once again, to the conversation of the two gents at the booth behind him.
“Wowee! This is amazing! This map depicts a wholly unknown forest that is quite large that is entirely unexplored!” The first gent exclaimed. Apparently looking at a map spread out on the table before him.
“Not only that my dear friend,” the second gent begins” but there is also much lore and legend about this forest from the surrounding towns. It’s not for no reason there hasn’t been any manned explorations into this area! I’ve heard tales of monsters, magic, and some mysterious presence in the woods the townsfolk refer to as ‘the shadow train’.”
Just then a plate filled with wwaffles is placed down in front of him smothered in delicious syrup; and for a time all thoughts concerning the two gents and the “unknown forest” is forgotten as he focuses all his attention on the task at hand, which is to devour waffles.
Flana finished his waffles before Kryllion did, and was now sitting back, when it occurred to him that he and his brother hadn’t been on an adventure in a long time.
“Hey Kryllion, I think in order to continue to serious ‘adventurers’ we’ve got to go on an adventure soon.”
“I agree dear brother,” Kryllion said just as he finished his plate and pushed it away “we’ll have to be on
Been on any adventures recently.
“Ya know Kryllion, if we ever hope to be taken seriously as adventurers, we’ll have to go on more adventures. We haven’t been on one for quite some time now.”
“Right you are oh brother mine.”
The waitress came and left, mother and father settled the bill and then it was time to go.
Kryllion glanced over at the neighboring booth where the two gents had previously been. Funny, they must’ve left recently, Kryllion thought, because their table hadn’t been cleared yet. Spying the table as he passed, he noted a rather crinkly folded-up piece of paper with strange markings beside one of the place mats.
“Flana, I think I may have already found an adventure for us.”

To Be Continued…

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DQThurman LARPs in NetherWorld


I had been paralyzed, my hands linked tightly in my lap, the coal black rocking chair frozen, cemented to the floor.  A distant gun shot blast lingers, faintly hanging in the air. I mechanically hinge to my feet, my knees creaking like wood. The front door is there in the darkness, in this empty cold room. “How long have I been sitting there..” the question begins to formulate in my mind. Walking past the window: in between the thick black lines of a grid the carnage continues. Slimy red, slithering bodies mingle and over lap, writhe and undulate across the street. Gnawing and gnashing, explosions of black liquid bursting, forming puddles, and this is on display, in the front lawn to the house across the street.. I’m stepping one foot after the next, four times when: the door is knocking. The window in the door is bloted out by shadow.
I reach out and turn the door knob, swing open the door, a long quiveringly suspended in-the-air tentacle holds a revolver to my face, shakes then fires.

I see myself being dragged, the revolver wobbling by a tentacle, others wrapped around my ankles pulling me resolutely through grass. There is black liquid pouring from my forehead filling up the contours of my placid face.
So I look up and look at the stars, I look back down and see the scene smaller, there I go.
Looking up again, at the stars, they become visible, larger- some 5 pointed, others 6, others 8.  I feel a platform under my hand, my body is pressing against it, I look around, and its a wooden circle.  Bolts here and there, I feel my body, the buzzing of the platform, lifting me ever upward, reverberating, mechanically humming; the sound fades in.
I look up, bluish mist, still more distant stars, closer cut-out stars sway next to/around my head, I can see the fishing wire. The platform stops, and jostles slightly like an amusement park ride; many large basketball-sized plumes of cotton lay on either side of a path like bushes, the path itself is matted with layers of glitter. I step out onto a plastic step with factory grooves in it, up 2 more and then arrive on the glitter path.  I hear the fart of cloud machines- PshFfff- and on either side of me jets at first, of grey cloud turn into fluffy atmosphere rising into the air, tiny poison crystals of which land on my tongue.
I walk down this path, when I come to an opening, a large concert hall draped in black curtains, 3 beams of light direct and focus on me. As I walk, I see on either side of the path, now made of wood: small red light bulbs screwed into a line along the path; they light-up row by row as I walk past them to the stage. On the stage a large 5 sided star shaped throne sits, the body of which, from the top prong down to the bottom two form the shape of a rocket ship, while the side two just kind of point out like underdeveloped fins.  Sitting there, on a pillow, in a large oval mouth carved out of the side of the ship, sits God.  As I walk closer, I can see that he is a tall adolescent, with a fake beard, and a robe made of canvas that had apparently been soaked in tea or something to give it a rustic look.  Slowly, deliberately, he looks up and feigns surprise at me standing there, all spotlit.  He rises to his feet and out-stretches his arms, contorting his face not convincingly into a fatherly DeNiro like expression.
He walks towards me mumbling incoherently, then surrounds my mid-section with his arms, like a hug, pressing the side of his head to my chest.  Suddenly,  I’m lifted upward by a belt that has appeared around me, squeezing my guts, burning my skin, tightening, pulling me up! I realize almost immediately that I’m being lifted by some hitherto now hidden crane, maybe having been draped in black curtain.  I look down at a shrinking god who is waving, waving at me from the stage, then turns and walks back to his pillowed star throne.
The crane takes me to a balcony booth, one of many openings in the wall surrounding the auditorium; craning one’s head back,  allowed the view of a huge blown-up and pasted-on photograph of a galaxy spread-out on the surface of the vast dome-shaped ceiling.  As I arrive, I see two robed figures march passed the black draped rows of seats of the booth; four red dots fix on me. Still suspended my shoes feel the lip of the balcony as gravity applies my body to it. I feel around the thick leather belt presently clinging to me, find a square buckle a little to my left side and start to finger it. When I am set on by these figures, snatching at me with two pairs of leathery black grabbing hands.  I’m grappled so fiercely I fall back a little, as their squeezing arms get hold. I struggle violently, then look down into red singeing eyes, inside black cloth masks. Trying to make sense of what they are, I rule out that they are any sort of human.
I realize, suddenly that I’d been freed from the crane’s belt, I fall, wrestling and groping into the two black figures. I elbow and punch them, constantly turning out of their persistent grip. Studying them now, I see that firstly, they’re bodies are short, maybe five feet, hunched, contorted into an almost S shape. Their eyes:  solid black O’s like a bear’s, only, at the center lies a rotating fiery red gear. They snort, and make feral noises. I struggle, they are faster, but weaker than me; are too close to hit me with any force, but can take several blows from me, without any result besides more grunting and snorting.
Then, the back of my head tingles, and my hair stands on end; so I look back over my shoulder, and down to see a glowing blue circle start to form, the light of which glowing increasingly stronger; inside it a white swirling begins. Soon a steady lightning flash, and a bright and shimmering portal bursts into existence halfway between a sea of black draped sheets below and the balcony above. I cling to the edge, resisting being pulled away, deeper into the balcony by the two black robed diminutive minions.
I kick one of the grabbing goons in the face with the heel of my shoe(it felt featureless/no bumps), he howls and falls backwards. The second one grabs me around the neck and pulls forward. I grab his neck and push back.  His eyes inflate, growing into horns, then finely twisting into two red hot pokers the heat of which I could feel on my face.  I get hold of one of his thumbs and twist it viciously the wrong way, it gives and crackles like a stock of corn. He howls.  I leap backward into the air, twist around in time to belly flop right into the middle of the blue dancing lit-up portal.
Blue liquid, swirling…
I wake up in the guts of a small cabin, facing the front door, on a dusty wooden floor.  A coat of dust bunnies and spider webs fall off my back like a blanket as I rise to my feet.  I walk creakily to the still, front porch, where everything hangs in thick shades of darkness. A bright full moon stuck in the sky, and crickets fill the night.
The white face of a face-mask, that of a child peers out of the darkness, white golf balls for eyes.  It glides closer to the edge of the line of moon light, and slithers further.  A smiling young face connected to a body dressed in a tailored tux in one world, and a slithering winged beast made-up of swollen slug-like tentacles in this one, emerges.  Sitting atop this hideous body,  allowing the strange to peer his head into this shadowy world us a bright oval coupling. A personal portal as it were, for the boy. Upon further contemplation of the strange being, smiling, slithering and curiously staring at me with wide-eyes, I conclude any further analysis might in fact drive me insane (or more so).
I lock the door, latch the wooden inside shutters, find the bed in one of two rooms, ratty and filled with dust, the other littered with clumsily stacked furniture draped in ancient sheets.  I close the door to my new bedroom, latch it, beat some gritty clouds out of the blankets, lay down, and quickly fall asleep.

The End

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It’s a clunky ship, but it’s mine.
Drifting noiselessly through space.
Sitting at the nav desk on the bridge I impatiently strum my fingers on the nav board in front of me.
*Click* I press a finger on the intercom button “Steven to bridge,” I demand into it.
Momentarily the automatic door to the bridge puffs open as Steven strides in.  A young man of 19, Steven stands clipboard in hand, jeans and black t-shirt. I say, from the nav com swivel chair “we’re not moving, it’s been 4 hours and I hear no engine hum.”
“Apparently the core needs to be reboote-“
“How many times does it need to be rebooted?”
“Salem said until he finds the disconnection in the circuits, he thinks there’s a bad aethernet wire-“
“Okay, meanwhile we float closer to our new best friend,” I motion my hand toward the bridgeshield, where, seemingly not too far off can be seen a pock-marked, massive grey nugget.

Impossibly, the asteroid is 7 hundred miles away, but already is the size of an island, sashaying in slo-mo toward our very location.  I press a finger down on the steering scale screen, triggering a large exclamation mark, a short burst of a vibration and an alarm sound.  I say “okay,” and steer the chair in its track over using the small ball joy stick in the arm of the chair, over to the actual steering wheel. I take hold of the massive thing, rubbery leather strapped around a thick loop, and with all my might pull it to the left- exerting myself, and straining just to find the thing immovable.
“How many times have you tried that?” Steven asks.
“About 50,” I respond.  I look sidelong at him.
“you want to die on this ship?”

“No sir.”
“Where is Salem now? Do you know?”
Steven pauses, looks down, and off a little.
“Where? Salem?” He looks up, and nervously tells me.
“The kitchen,” I shoot out the automatic sliding door that is instantly sucked into the wall and down a section of about 5 steps, turn down a short hall way and jump 5 more steps, and left through another door.
There, sitting at a table covered in bowls and kitchenware is Salem, hunched, as it were, over a shot glass and a bottle an arm’s length away.
Holding a putrid face, locking eyes with me now he pocks the glass down onto the table as he begins to lift the bottle with his other hand.
I grab a chair and place it next to the table as he pours, not offering.
I sit and cross my arms.
“W’eve been floating idly for about 5 hours – ‘any plans to spare us certain death.”
With a shot glass full, the bottle is placed down once more. He grasps the shot glass looking over onto me, turns again and shoots the glass up, pulling a gulp from it.

Slams it down.

Wiping his mouth with his sleeve he says “I’m getting to it.”
“This clunker of a ship is headed-“
“Straight towards our ‘new best friend,’ I know- I need to – fucking, I need to figure out… I’m still figuring out the problem- I think its rotten circuits-“
“Steven told me.”
“Steven is getting in my way.”
“Steven don’t wanna die, he wants to live to set foot on another planet as doI.”
Salem looks away.
“What about you, you’re pale, you haven’t been bathing- have you lost hope?”

“Its part of my job to lose hope, I keep this place running.”
“You could be more cheery.”
“I couldn’t be, I would be you if I were- if I weren’t me.”
I ponder the esoteric meaning of this, sitting there in the belly of the ship, the “Golem,” a floating vessel I had hopes for to not make into a tomb.
I tell Salem this.
“A tomb is for kings, we’re in a metal coffin.”
“Your negativity- you’re right, ‘may be helpful to entertain some negative aspect of a predicament to find a way around it, but, we need this ship fired up soon, and going, so as to not meet an abrupt and violent end.”
“Save the speech,” Salem slurs at me as he lazily creaks out of his chair. Pushing the chair back rubbing along the floor, and grabbing the bottle, a quarter full now. I look up, imploringly, almost pleadingly, and he interprets this expression rightly, by groaning and turning away.  He slouches away, apparently having sat for so long working a permanent crease in his back, as he shuffles along the wall, down some steps and through an automatic door.
Sitting, pensively for a moment, I too decide to get up, not to go somewhere else to worry however, but to have a contemplative stroll through my only means to get around: my ship.

I’m met with a hushed cacophonious laughter drifting down the hall, intermingling with the humming of life support still being pumped in through vents and the electromagnetic charge around the hull.  Steven is watching a comedy show, he would be on social media had we been in range of any sort of life that didn’t take 3 weeks to communicate a signal.
I walk down to the cargo area, its dark here, large crates take up the main of the space.  I can easily imagine demons lurking around, leering at me, grimacing there in the darkness; waiting to shred my skin and devour my glands and organs.  I imagine the gore spread along the floor.
I see Salem’s face then, sweating, arranging some wires, or fastening a bolt.
He has the hardest job among us.  This is a clunker of a ship, for sure, but its our ship. ‘All we’ve got to get anywhere.
And where we are right now is a pickle.
Of course, I think as I step a bit forward, through some red glaring lights past an air lock port, we’re always in a pickle.
We’re no more a crew than we are brothers, of which we are not- we are simply here- our story is unremarkable.
Space drifters.
I walk down to the engine room. Centered around a large blue glowing column, a force of mysterious power. Partly the job of the core is to mimic the circadian rhythms of mother Earth, so as to keep our mitochondria from breaking. Nothing I loathe more than a malfunctioning mitochondria.

I grab the railing surrounding it.

I speak the word “Golem,” the ship.  A ship for a ghoul like me.

Instead of standing around being gloomy, I walk toward my bedroom, where my dog sleeps, and farts.
The door opens and there with a bark and an ecstatic tale is pokey, I say “c’mon” and waive my hand.

We both make our winding way to the bridge. Where Steven has turned off his sketch comedy shows and is now staring out the window.  Where a large grey mass approaches. Pokey sniffs his pants cuffs, stirring him out of his daze. I take a seat once more, where I was, and where I will remain until either the end or the beginning.
The overhead lights flicker, once, a couple more times and then a loud high-pitched moan reverberates through the whole beast. Dials unfade to on, red-lit, and a scree beep shrieks to life the dials and buttons. The familiar humming and vibrations of life ignite our massive tin can. I look at Steven, and Steven with this unrestrained optimistic joy and bright broad smile, dancing eyes and we cheer, hug and plop into place.  Pokey runs a circle around our area, barking at our enthusiasm.  *crack* the intercom crackles and a Salem mumble emits from wall mounted speakers*uncrack*.  I press the intercom button “Good looks Salem.”  I tap the steering app on the screen in front of me as it fills full view. I drag the bar along the scale to the left and burners fire right on que.
Golem is seen turning, and accelerating in a particular direction, away from the asteroid.

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