GF #031 – The Black Shard

Henry Hyde thought he knew what he was getting into when he stood before the Black Shard, a twisted ugly spire, a hundred stories tall, penetrating the Lillithian red skies.

But he did not know.

He was woefully unprepared for the ordeals that awaited him inside.

And if he had known, he would have most likely reluctantly turned back, fruitless and ashamed, and led a quiet life on the farm, dicking a cousin or two, until he settled on one, or another or both, and raised yet another generation of Hydes who bragged and daydreamed of a great and epic future for themselves, but never did anything about it and didn’t amount to much either.

That, was the quintessential code of the Hyde family. A backwards clan of never-do-wells caught in this era’s rising tide of advanced Magick. Where the grass was, for the first time in the history of mankind, truly and magnificently greener on the other side without a single side effect.

Fortunately for this particular Hyde, this wide-eyed, greasy-haired, scrawny-tough kid from the sticks, this wiry and anxious Henry, the eighth of his line, he didn’t know better.

He simply knew the Black Shard and the terrible pregnant wonders inside was his ticket off this caked, dusty and infertile planet. Others had gone before him, his drunken uncles had said on a great many nights. They became great men after entering the tower and facing it’s ordeals.

And most important of all, they left the planet to become True Mages, explorers, pioneers, warriors and heroes, never to set foot on this Godforsaken planet ever again.

Henry stepped forward. The red rocks beneath his worn leather boots crunched and crackled.

As he slowly approached the tower, he came face to face with an unreasonably massive portcullis at least four stories tall. And behind it, heavy steel doors with rivets all along its hinges and edges.

Henry tilted his head up and scanned the large tower front for a peephole. He saw none. Shrugging his shoulders, he tramped right up to the portcullis and grasping the bars, shook it violently, hollering, “Hellooooooooo. Hellllloooooo.”

After several minutes of this, Henry stopped. Nothing had happened. The doors did not offer a gracious welcome by swinging open. The gargoyles did not turn to face him. No magick eye slit appeared where a troll-servant could stare down on him. Nothing.

Seeing this, Henry’s next brilliant plan was to throw large rocks through the portcullis openings at the metal doors, hoping someone inside would hear the racket outside and investigate.

And that’s what Henry did. He found several large grey rocks just a mile or so away from the tower’s perimeter. A few he kept in his pocket due to their unusual flatness, which was always good for skipping.

He used the front of his shirt like a basket, pulling it away from him to create a hammock for his rocks, revealing his swollen paunch.

When he returned to the Black Shard, he dropped the stash of stone ammunition at his feet, a good pile of large and small rocks. He picked up the first one and threw it at the door. It hit the grille, rang loudly, echoed and bounced off.

Unfazed, Henry threw another. This one went straight through pounding the door loudly. The sound of the clang reverberated and spread out in concentric circles. Nothing happened.

“I can do this all day, you know?” Henry shouted at the Black Shard. “I’m not leaving until I’m inside!”

He chucked another rock. A larger one. He was certain it would hit the portcullis grille, but it didn’t. Instead, it too, went through like the second one. However, the thunderous sound this one made unsettled even Henry himself.

Still nothing.

Henry made a game of it. He had thirty or so rocks and he pitched them each one by one. When he was out, he counted at least fourteen which had sailed by the portcullis and crashed into the door with a satisfying clang.

At last, Henry sat down, somewhat defeated. He had brought two plans with him today and both had resulted in failure. The day was still early and he didn’t want to head home just yet.

He had stolen a piece of crusty, dried bread from the Jeremiahs next door earlier that morning and thought now was a good time to munch on it. And that’s what he did. He chewed the hardened crust, breaking its plate armour only to face an almost inedible interior. Some parts were tough and chewy. Others parts were like old chalk.

In between bites, Henry took a swig from his water skin. It tasted worse than usual. The muddy water from a dying well.

And while he chewed and drank, he suddenly heard a rolling sound. Wooden wheels. A cart most likely. A farmer taking its goods beyond the Black Shard perhaps?

Henry crawled to the lip of an edge where he could spy on the mysterious traveller. To his surprise, they were dark-skinned men from the Southern countries. Ethoko —…. Marduku—… Jaarkini—… For the life of Henry, he could not recall what they were called. He was sure it was one of the three he thought about, but didn’t know for sure.

There was an entire caravan entourage. Eight horses, or in luxurious dressage. A hover-caravan. And in the moment of a glimpse and a blink, Henry caught sight of a strange, beautiful woman in white at the very back of the cab. She looked out briefly for a second or two, then sat back against her chair.

Strangely enough, it appeared the caravan was not heading down the road around and away from the Black Shard. Instead, this caravan went straight for its gates.

Henry followed it as long as he could until he had to hide from it.

From behind a rock, Henry could see what happened, but remained invisible to anyone else.

As the caravan approached the Black Shard, the portcullis became to lift slowly up, while the front doors swung opened with a little bit of pomp and circumstance.

Huh. Interesting…, thought Henry. And with that, he slipped away from behind the large boulder and headed straight for the Black Shard’s front doors. ☣

This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by me, Jinn Zhong…
Creep written and performed by Radiohead



When you were here before,
Couldn’t look you in the eye,
You’re just like an angel,
Your skin makes me cry,
You float like a feather,
In a beautiful world,
And I wish I was special,
You’re so fucking special.

But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo,
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.

I don’t care if it hurts,
I want to have control,
I want a perfect body,

I want a perfect soul,
I want you to notice,
When I’m not around,
You’re so fucking special,
I wish I was special.

But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo,
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here.

Oh, oh

She’s running out again,
She’s running out…
She run run run run…

Whatever makes you happy,
Whatever you want,
You’re so fucking special,
I wish I was special…
But I’m a creep, I’m a weirdo,
What the hell am I doing here?
I don’t belong here,
I don’t belong here.

These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project codenamed “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Nicholas Brack, Dogwood Daniels and I) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Fridays and dissect on Tuesdays via podcast.

To read Nicholas Brack’s GF-of-the-week: Creep
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week: Father’s Love, Part 2