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Sabah knew the end had come when the janissaries led him into the garden. Opposite a delicate round table sat the head gardener, wearing a caftan made out of finest Oriental silks, his bashlyk adorned with gems and gold. Although his clothing spoke of wealth, his physique was everything but: he was the largest man Sabah had ever seen.

The man smiled. "Isn't it a lovely day today, master thief?"

On the table, laid out in the traditional manner, were two cups of sharbat, chilled. Sabah licked his dry, cracked lips. The sultan's gaolers had limited his torture to just withholding drink, but in the sweltering summer heat, that was more than enough.

"I'm not a thief." Sabah said finally. "What I stole is nobody's possession."

The head gardener's smile broadened. "Sultan Mahomet disagrees. But I understand you consider yourself innocent?"

"Before Allah, I do." Sabah said. He could imagine the sweet taste of the sharbat against his lips. It swirled, red - perhaps scented with rose?

"Please, drink." Souflikar said. He leaned his massive body back in his seat, and waited while Sabah gulped up the cold paradise in a glass. When he was done, the head gardener leaned forward again.

"I always offer those who proclaim their innocence a chance to, before the eyes of Allah, prove themselves. A foot race, to the place of execution, through my garden. If you beat me, your sentence will be commuted to banishment. If I win..." The man flexed his massive hands. "...I will execute you for the crimes you have committed."

Sabah imagined the hands closing in over his throat, crushing his Adam's apple into his wind pipe. They said he killed five men every day in this manner, and that none had beaten him in the race to date. But Sabah wasn't planning on participating in the same race as everyone else.

In the most hidden recesses of the harem, Gevherhan and he had lain together and planned their escape.

"This palace was built upon another, much older palace. Did you know that?" She had asked him, her voice barely above a whisper. "In times long before the barbaric peoples of my father came here, the ancient Greeks lived here. And they brought with them from the far-away Knossos things of myth."

Sabah, drugged by love and the smoking hookah, had merely smiled. Legends and myths. Beast-men and magic. Gevherhan loved the old stories, a true Scheherezade.

"The garden is built upon an old Greek maze, its walls solid rock hidden underneath pruned bushes. But at the centre, you will find a door, always kept sealed. If you spend the night there, you will hear the sound of a bull snorting..."

"My darling, as the moon rises and falls, your mind is one of pure unremitting fancy." Sabah had said. "Let me drink some of it, before the moon has finished her fall once again and is usurped by the hateful sun."

But Gevherhan had placed a finger on his lips and pushed him away.

Sabah thought of all this while standing at the ready at the head of the maze. Souflikar was giving him a head start.

A blast from a horn signalled the start of the race, and Sabah ran. For a brief moment, he considered using his head start to make a dash for the exit - wherever it was. Perhaps he could be the first to defeat Souflikar in a foot race, the first to escape death; that alone would make him famous...

...but he decided against it. Even if Gevheran's beast sanctuary would turn out to be nothing but the sound of the wind, perhaps it would be a good place to hide, if it is indeed usually kept locked. He could hear a horn blare in the distance: the signal that Souflikar was starting his race. Sabah doubled his speed, rushing towards what he hoped was the centre of the maze.

He came to a skidding halt when he saw her sign - an eight-pointed star, each point drooping slightly downwards, making the design look more like a spider than a star. It was drawn on the wall, which had been cleared of vines. He found a key hanging from a chain. He grabbed it, sending up a prayer and a curse all in one to the woman who'd hung it there.

He reached the middle of the maze at the same time as another horn blast announced Souflikar had reached the end. He could hear the mountain's angry shout as he realized Sabah had absconded the race. He had no doubt the executioner was coming back to find him, probably together with a bevy of janissaries.

The sun-bleached stone looked beyond ancient as he approached, holding the key in a trembling hand. He imagined he heard the sound of a bull snorting, of hooves kicking the ground in anticipation. He placed the key in the lock and turned, and as he did, he felt the maze tremble, as if struck by an earthquake.

He fell back, crawling back on his hands and feet from the door, clearing it just before it slammed open with terrible force. Sabah closed his eyes, waiting for his doom, but whatever was hiding behind simply let out a bellow that contained all the challenge of a raging bull coupled with the millennia-old anguish of a son scorned.

With his last presence of mind, he crawled into the place left empty by the minotaur and closed the gate behind him, trying to shut out the screams outside.

Gevheran found him the next morning, nearly catatonic, after the janissaries had cleared away the corpses. The princess snuggled up to him, and whispered, barely audibly: "Did you know that the last known roost of the mighty roc..."

Sabah jumped up and ran, faster than he had ever run from Souflikar, screaming the whole way.
FFM 2015, July 5 - Souflikar
FFM for July 5, 2015. Rest of entries here: FFM Links July 5, 2015

This is partially based on the legendary Ottoman executioner Souflikar, whose unorthodox method of execution involved some of the steps above. This is not historical fiction by any means though, but lovely lovely fantasy stufff! Anyway...prompt...judgement? I guess?
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On one sweltering hot day in July, many years ago, a man named Avery Stein was blown to bits in an office in downtown Seattle. The force of the explosion - which investigators later found had originated from a small brown package held in Mr. Stein's hand - was enough to obliterate his cubicle, and those of his immediate neighbours. Avery Stein remained the sole victim of the attack however, as his neighbours had all gathered around the watercooler at the time of the explosion.

It was clearly mail-order murder, but what the investigators couldn't figure out was the motive, nor could they pin down any suspects. In fact, there was reason to believe Mr. Stein was not the intended target at all: the mail clerk said he had not handled any packages addressed to Mr. Stein. But that didn't answer the question why the victim had ended up with somebody else's mail.

The investigation ended soon thereafter, at the request of the company president. A few months later, an audit by the IRS - unrelated to the bombing case - showed that the company had been used to launder money for the mob. By that time, however, the president had already absconded to parts unknown. The investigation wrapped up: the bomb was probably intended for the president, and sent by his former mob buddies, presumably to keep him from accepting a plea bargain from the IRS. I'm sure this is all starting to sound familiar, right?

As a courtesy, the investigators sent a note regarding the closing of the case to the would-be widow of Mr. Stein, Meredith. They had intended to get married that same fateful summer, in a small private ceremony - nothing big, nothing special, just for their nearest and dearest. She heard the news of the explosion same as everybody else, through the news, and for hours she waited with baited breath by the telephone, expecting Avery to call. When the CNN finally calmed down from 'terrorist attack claiming tens of lives perpetrated by Al-Qaida' to 'suspected bombing with only one casualty, no suspects', Meredith already knew in her heart that Avery wasn't going to call. He had always been the unlucky one. She did finally get a call though, to 'identify the remains'. She said she believed the coroner's reports.

But the broken bride was given no closure by the investigator's pithy condolences. Aside from losing the love of her life, though, she was also in a bit of a pickle. Avery had been the breadwinner, she had run a store on Etsy. The life insurance paid by the company ended the same day the company did. Meredith was faced with a choice: to do the mundane thing, move upstate back to her parents, give up on her life in the big city, give up on her closure. Or then go to the lake, and start fishing.

For what? Why, for us, of course, dear Don Capoletti. For us. Now...don't hold your breath, it will only prolong it.
FFM 2015, July 4 - The Assku
FFM for July 4, 2015. Rest of entries: FFM Links - 4 July 2015

Challenge for today was a doozy. Just read it here: RED PILL

So, the elements used:

Chat: TheBrokenBride

July 4: Bored

2010 Prompt: By the-inkling: Fishing in the night for a mythical beast

Assku: the name of the mythical water beast :-P (sorry)

Element from 2014 31st challenge: ELEMENT FOUR - July, She Will Fly:

+ important choice (assku or not!)

Plus it being 500 words exactly. SO THERE.
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The name's Charles. I got a second name too, but I'll leave that to the future to suss out - some historian can get his doctorate on that. That is if the future will have historians and doctorates in it at all <chuckles>

I'll get right down to it: I think I found the source, and i think I found who we need to track down to end all of this. Typhoid Mary. Except her name's Jane Walberg. Since the virus is already known as the Walberg virus that makes for a kind of boring nickname don't it?

<sound of typing>

Okay boys and girls, calling up the text transcript now. Get a load of this, and note the datestamp!!!

Playback (cj1.wav) paused at 13:01:45, December 9 2025
Loading walberg_transcript_1.txt

Walberg Medical - Instant Messaging System (INTERNAL USE ONLY)
July 13, 2015.
Participants: Jane Walberg (JW), Fred Walberg (FW)

JW Says: dad? are yo u there dad? i know youre still at work please answer ican't call they respond to sound
FW says: honey? sweety! you're alive! thank god. listen, I need you to get out of the unit right away
JW Says: yeah no shit, what the fuc k is going on nurse brady has gone ballistic & one of the secruity guards are dead they ATE HIM
FW: Jane, it's very important that you answer this: were you in close contact with any of the sick individuals?
JW: yes, there was a patient, came in with complications from the drugs and i was doing a routine checkup nothing special just the usual allergies but he had a small scratch on his arm and I THINK I ToUCHED IT but i disinfected after & him too
FW: ...okay honey. Don't worry about it.

<end of walberg_transcript_1.txt>

Playback (cj1.wav) resumed at 13:05:02

Charles Johnson, into history as the one who cracked the Walberg virus case. In black and white! Oh, some of you don't think it's cracked? Listen - I figured out who that patient she mentions is, it was all there in their files. That was none other than Marshall P himself, Patient Zero, who we all thought was the original carrier. Except HE WASN'T. Don't believe me? Listen to this:

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<robotic female voice, identified as the Automated Shutdown Assistant, ASA>

<an alarm is blaring>

Access Denied. Infectious material detected in subject's bloodstream.

<panicked female voice, identified as Jane Walberg>

What?! I'm not infected you stupid computer, none of them got to me. Not one! I'm not infected! <banging> Open the door!

<older male's voice over intercom, identified as Fred Walberg>

Jane, step back. I'm going to override ASA from here.

<sound of groaning and fists banging against barrier>

<Jane Walberg screams>

Hurry the fuck up, half my old ward is trying to eat me here. Fucking hell...why does it think I'm infected? I'm not infected. How can I be infected? I have no symptoms, and the symptoms come fast...I can't be infected.

<Frank Walberg>

Don't worry honey, I've almost got you. Once the door opens, just RUN.

<Jane Walberg>

Wait, wait, dad, stop - if I'm infected, you can't let me out. I could infect others. It might mean it's airborne.

<Frank Walberg>

It's not airborne.

<ASA>

Quarantine procedures cancelled by executive order. Emergency shutdown lifted.

Playback ended on 13:07:44
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Do you see? Do you all see? She was the carrier all along. And that old bastard knew it! He knew it didn't matter if he only opened the door for her, or if he let the whole infected ward out to save her. At least this way, she wouldn't be blamed. He would. They lynched him, but they should have lynched her!

It's time for us to wake up and smell the roses, people! Ms. Walberg might be one of the big time names doing research and trying to combat Walberg's virus, but what no-one realizes is that she is the one spreading it!!

Still not buying it? I'll leave you then with this last piece of evidence. I couldn't get the original files from the computers, but I played it on the security monitors and recorded it with my cellphone. This was just before I had to bug out. Check. This. Out: ground zero. Walberg's unit. The start of this whole mess. I present: Jane Walberg, caught red-handed

Playback ended on 13:09:25
Video (cj_covertops24.avi) playback started

Briefly, the image of a manically grinning, balding man in a reporter's vest is visible, before the camera is turned around towards a set of monitors that are playing back security camera footage. The image zooms in on the date in the corner: July 13, 2015
, then goes back to the footage - which comes across as unsteady and unfocused as the cameraman attempts to keep his handheld steady. It shows a woman in a lab coat, peering fearfully around a corner inside a medical ward. The camera pans to the right, revealing another figure standing in a doorway behind her: a former security officer, now in the early stages of Walberg's Disease, red of eye and with blood dripping from his fingers. The zombie watches the woman vacantly for a few moments, twitching whenever she makes a sound, but as she eventually creeps away down the corridor, the zombie loses all interest.

Video (cj_covertops24.avi) playback ended.


FFM 2015, July 3 - The Unit
FFM for July 3. Rest of submissions: fav.me/d8zo25e

No prompt, no challenge. Just some kind of horror-y thing.
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"Leah! Get out of there right this instant!" Her nanny's angry voice woke her from her peaceful slumber between the teeth of the gear. 

"Look at you: Greasy and dirty like some clockwork technician!"

Nevermind the danger of sleeping in the machine: Just as long as the fine born lady didn't look like a working class child.

"What would lady Heathfield say! Now hurry or we shall be late for the flying machine!" 

"Yes nanny." Leah crawled out, aware the only thing obstinacy would get her is a good spanking. If nanny knew how much time she spent with the engineer's boys, she would have a fit. Leah looked over her shoulder, high up at the control tower, and gave a small wave.

Far above, the engineer smiled. He had been waiting for the child to leave before starting the engine. "Coal in!" He bellowed. Then he announced: "Airship embarking in ten minutes! Pardon the delay." 

He watched as Leah Heathfield left, dragged by her nurse towards the gentlefolk's entrance, on the other side of the terminal. They always had to make things complicated, didn’t they?

The great gear started grinding, sans little ladies who would, he thought, one day grow up to be greasemonkeys like him, inventing and innovating and turning the power of steam into the power of progress. She was smarter than most of her kind, he thought, watching the gears slowly begin turning. They would probably not escape the grind.

FFM 2015, July 2 - Anticipating the Grind
FFM for July 2, 2015. Rest of entries: <da:thumb id="543450886">

The challenge today was 'steampunk'. God this weather sucks (sun, breeze, nice 25 degrees. summer sucks so much)
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The daily rain poured down in the dark, beating even the worn cobblestones of Old Town into submission. The townsfolk still called it rain. Maybe that made them feel better about it. In truth it was the effluvia of High Town: their offal mixed with the run-off from the condensate forming over the anti-gravity crystals, that they released once a day onto Old Town. An apt analogy for the relationship between the two.

The High Inquisitor fiddled with his knife.

“Tell me again what your group is called.” His voice was silky smooth, like his garb. All High Town fashion, magically infused to withstand rain, sword stabs and fireballs in equal measure. More expensive than the entire boarding house they were in.

Nine glanced at the door. Locked. But, it was a shoddy door.

“Never said anything about it being ‘my’ group, gov.” Nine answered, shifting his weight on the worn-out sofa. Everything was worn out down here. Old, filthy, in the shadow. But things could happen in the shadow that no High Town merchant ever knew about. “Punks just happen to have thrown an old dog a bone now and again. It’s not easy bein’ poor down here you know, ever since y’all flew off…”

“Don’t waste my time, dog.” The High Inquisitor turned towards him, frowning in disgust. He was holding the knife. “Your…your ‘punks’ have been causing untold damage in the Weave. I want to know how they got in there, and I want to know how to get them out. They are a sickness.”

Ah yes, the Weave. Nine shifted his weary old bones on the sofa and gave his balls a quick lick. “The Weave’s meant to be free, gov. Not some money-making machine for you and your kin. Back in the day…”

“The Weave is upheld and governed by the Six Great Merchant Guilds, dog. Without us, it would just be a…a…chaotic mess of an astral plane.” The High Inquisitor moved closer, holding the knife tight in trembling hands. “Now tell me how the hell they are getting in there before I gut you!”

Nine eyed the knife. It wasn’t the weapon of a High Inquisitor – it was a prop. A murder weapon that could be left at the scene as a distraction. Whichever Guild had sent him didn’t want to get caught red-handed, murdering officers of the law. Even if they happened to be sentient canines, and retired to boot.

“If I tell you, will you let me go?” Nine gave the High Inquisitor his best sad-eyed dog look, flopped his tail up and down on the sofa. The Inquisitor stared at him with suspicion.

“Of course.”

“Under whose oath?” Nine pressed, with a whine. The next step was a wild guess. “I will never believe an oath given by a Dynasty lackey – they are dishonorable.”

The High Inquisitor barked a laugh. “Dynasty! Don’t be foolish.” The man lowered his voice, but Nine could see the deceit in his eyes. “No harm will come to you, mutant, if you simply tell me how these punks are getting into the system. I give you my word, as a Merchant Marine.”

Nine smiled – although the smile of a dog was not something most humans ever recognized, seeing them instead in the varying grimaces brought on by heat or exertion. That was their problem. Their point-of-view chauvinism. They had no idea what their magical rain was doing down here. They had no idea they were the architects of their own destruction. The High Inquisitor thought he was chasing a group of saboteurs, maybe funded by one of the other five Guilds. He thought they were playing by High Town rules.

“Very well, Merchant Marine.” Nine gave an exaggerated sigh. “You win. Tomorrow at noon, they will make another attempt at Dynasty. They believe they can make their crystals fail. You must stop them – if the Dynasty compound collapses back to the ground, it will cause untold damage…”

But the High Inquisitor wasn’t listening any longer. He had a look of greed on his face. Why was it the humans were always so easy to read? Presumably this one too thought he was hiding all of his emotions so well, when they were all there for Nine to see, an open book.

“Thank you, dog, for this…information.” The High Inquisitor tried to look serious, and failed. “I will have to confirm this, of course, but if it is as you say…we shall speak again.”

Nine tried to look confused – and clearly succeeded. Stupid humans. “But won’t you take down the punks tomorrow? Why would we speak again.”

The High Inquisitor smiled. “Of course. But the punks are wily. They may escape.” The Inquisitor put down the knife. “You have bought your life, dog. Use it well.” And then he left, hatching plans.

Nine waited until the scent of the Inquisitor had good and well dissipated before barking the all-clear. The punks crawled out of the cracks and cupboards, from between the sofa cushions and the closet: imps and fairies, dwarves and ghosts. Nine smiled his dog-smile at them.

“My lords and ladies: operation divide and crash can begin.”

Outside, the effluvia-rain stopped. From between the cracks, tendrils of new life reached up.

 

 

 

 

 

FFM 2015, July 1 - FantasyPunk
Entry for July 1, FFM. The rest of today's entries: <da:thumb id="543173381">

There is no excuse of the title of today's text, except that distortified made me do it. Used the prompt "An old sofa, a retired policedog and a knife." by Osterkaktus

Aw man, FFM. Why am I always so busy in July?
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deviantID

Wolfrug
P S
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
Finland
Hi dA-ites!

I know this is an awful cross-pollinating kind of thing where I talk about one writing community in another, but I'm excited so whatever! For NaNo 2013 I decided to turn a series of FFMs I wrote here on dA into a novel - Empires of Time and Space was born out of that (read the FFMs that inspired it in my FFM 2013 Gallery). I edited it feverishly and actually managed to complete a nice draft 2.0, which I sent around to some people who seemed to like it. Since then it has, obviously, just been lying uselessly in my DropBox and in my "I'll get to it eventually"-pile. Well, I decided that 'eventually' has to be a bit sooner than never, so I decided to start publishing it on the rather nifty site JukePop, which also advertised a lot around NaNo. Essentially it's a place where you can publish your novel or other serial publication piecemeal (which puts you in the hallowed company of e.g. Dickens), with an update schedule you can decide on yourself. I sent in the first edited chapter of my NaNovel, and they accepted it within the same day - so that was great! Now it's there, for everyone to read! Linky!

My plan is pretty simple, really. I will publish it in weekly chunks of about 2000-2500 words, which I will edit into 'draft 3.0' before posting. The basic jist of the story is complete and I'm not unhappy with it even in its current state, so if I for whatever reason lose interest in editing it, or if there is no readership for it at all, I will still be able to keep posting it, even with minimal editing. I know that the parts that require the most padding come towards the end, and I'm hoping  that by fixing the earlier parts piece by piece and, hopefully, getting some positive feedback, I'll be able to bring it to a more satisfactory conclusion than in the original (not that, once again, I think the original ending is in any way bad - it just suffers from end-of-novemberitis rush).

JukePop requires these things they call...+ votes? Which can presumably only be given by registered users, etc etc etc. If you feel suddenly overwhelmed with a desire to support me in publishing this in serial format and want to give me some much-needed encouragement, feel free to do that, I guess? There's also something about getting enough +votes to become a 'real' JukePop author and not an 'Aspiring' JukePop author and whatnot, but it's all rather vague to me. I'd just like someone to read my stuff and give me some feedback!

All right - back to your regularly scheduled dA:ing!

Here's the link to chapter 1 (all that has been posted so far) again:

Linky!

-W

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:iconjoe-wright:
joe-wright Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2014   General Artist
Happy birthday, birthday twin! =D
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:iconwolfrug:
Wolfrug Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Omg, I forgot! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BELATEDLY BIRTHDAY TWINNNNNnnnnn!
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:iconcamelopardalisinblue:
camelopardalisinblue Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for the watch! I appreciate the support. :heart:
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:iconwolfrug:
Wolfrug Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
No problem! I always enjoy picking up new people to watch during FFM =)
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:iconcamelopardalisinblue:
camelopardalisinblue Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I know what you mean!
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:iconsisterz0r:
Sisterz0r Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2014
Thank you for the faaaav! Whee! :lol:
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:iconjoe-wright:
joe-wright Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2013   General Artist
Happy birthday Wolferoo! I was going to say it in chat but I got distracted and then you left =(
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:iconwolfrug:
Wolfrug Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
And to you!
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:iconaxxeros:
Axxeros Featured By Owner Jul 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Birthday, Wolfrug! :hug:

I hope you have/had a good day (timedifference and all that),
but more importantly, I hope you'll have many more good, better, best, great, greater, greatest, awesme, awesomer, and awesomest days to come!
Reply
:iconwolfrug:
Wolfrug Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I hope so too :D Thank you!
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