The Short Stories
The short stories of Judah Lamey,
as well as the Stories of Quillville.
as well as the Stories of Quillville.
Creatures in the Night
There was an eerie glow on the water that night. The way the moon glistened off the soft waves had me mesmerized and lost in thought. I recalled the events of the past weeks and felt grateful that my animals in my Hobby Farm were returning to normal. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of anger towards the library assistant, Alexandra Peel, for planting the virus in my farm, but as I breathed in the cold, crisp air I decided to let that go. There were more pressing issues at hand.
My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a loud crack of metal on concrete. “Careful!” I yelled at the crane operator who had carelessly dropped the large crate on the dock. I ran over and gently placed a hand on the cool rusted metal while gazing through the small air vents. The creature inside paced back and forth anxiously. Its claws tapped loudly, echoing off the walls. I could barely make out its feathered wings in the dark, but I could tell it was molting from stress.
“Shhhh….there there. Everything’s ok,” I spoke calmly, “You’re safe now. They aren’t going to harm you anymore.”
The Hippogriff’s pacing slowed and I could feel his agitation lifting. I’m not sure how, but ever since I was young I felt like I could understand animals. And they could understand me. Call it magic or just plain crazy, but I’ve always known this was what I was meant to do.
I walked around the crate to look at the large ship rocking back and forth in the dark. Only a few lights from the dock cast their glow. There were still seven more crates that needed to be unloaded, each with a different creature waiting to come back with me to my farm. Behind me waited eight large trucks ready to load the crates and bring the creatures home. Inside I couldn’t quell my excitement. So far I had only a few small magical creatures to care for at my farm, but after hearing that there was a raid on another magical farm and the owner had been accused of neglect, I offered to take in some of the creatures and rehabilitate them.
Just then I felt a tap on my shoulder. I jumped and spun around. “Phoenix, it’s about time you showed up,” I said eyeing my brother up and down, “Where were you?”
“Sorry sis, I just had to make a quick pit stop,” he said shyly his eyes darted from the ground making his curly hair bounce atop his head.
“You were with Blue again, weren’t you?” I asked already knowing the answer. He just gave me a big smile. They had been practically inseparable leaving me shorthanded at the farm.
“You know you have to be careful. She’s been experimenting with some weird stuff lately,” I told him.
“She wasn’t the one who set the virus on the animals,” Phoenix quickly defended her.
“Still….”I started to say but my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a car behind me. I turned just in time to see a black limo pulling onto the dock. The headlights blinded me momentarily, but it quickly turned coming to a stop.
The door swung open and a pair of black leather stilettos clicked on the ground. “Hello, Mayor Lombard,” I said nodding. She gave me a quick smile but her attention was on the large crates around me.
“So they are here?” she asked walking towards the Hippogriff crate. She inched her way towards one of the air vents and peeked inside. The creature gave a loud screech and stomped on the crate floor sending the mayor jumping back in alarm. “Oh my goodness! “ she said composing herself. “Now Ms. Struve, you promised me these creatures weren’t dangerous.”
I was about to say something when Phoenix chimed in, “Mayor Lombard, these creatures have been through a lot. They need proper rehabilitation which my sister and I will give them. Please try to understand….”
The mayor looked suspicious so I decided to give my two cents, “My brother is right. I can assure you these creatures will pose no threat to the people of Quillville.” That seemed to ease her mind a bit when another crate slammed onto the concrete. She jumped, turned around, and screamed.
Breathing down her neck was the snarling grin of a Lycanthrope. His teeth oozed and he licked his long muzzle. A low growl escaped his half-wolf half-human chest. The mayor took a few steps backward and Phoenix jumped in to help her stabilize. Then the werewolf turned to me.
“Ah right on time, Viktor,” I said to the lycanthrope and I extend my hand. He took it in his paw and shook.
“We are all here,” he snarled. I looked behind him and saw a dozen yellow eyes staring back at me, on alert. I smiled and gave them a friendly wave.
“Wonderful, Viktor, thank you. I know I can always count on you guys. Just a few more crates need to be offloaded then we will begin our journey to the farm,” I told him and he growled in agreement. The werewolves and I had always had an understanding. I was the only one in Quillville who knew how to heal a lycanthrope so they always came to me for their bites, cuts, and bruises. In return, they provided my Hobby Farm with protection. And they felt pretty bad about letting the virus get into my farm. So they brought extra backup to see to it that my new creatures made it safely home.
The mayor smoothed her pencil skirt and cleared her throat, “Well, it looks like everything is under control here. Struve, please do see to it that these creatures are handled with extreme care. I want to ensure the safety of all in Quillville.”
I nodded as the mayor got back into her limo and drove off through the dark docks. I turned my attention back to the large ship where one more crate needed to be unloaded, and this one was special.
Phoenix caught the glimmer in my eye and whispered, “Is that the one?” A smile grew wider on my face and Phoenix knew this was the creature I had always wanted to meet. Perhaps the most dangerous, but also the most powerful and loyal.
As the crate was lowered onto the dock I ran to it like a kid getting a puppy for Christmas. But this was not a puppy. Not even close. Perhaps closer to a lion. My stomach folded with excitement and slight fear festered in my chest as claws clacked against the metal crate. The creature’s low rumbling growl made goosebumps crawl across my skin. I peeked through a hole in the crate so close that I could smell its damp, dirty fur like a feral cat. The creature lunged at me letting out a terrific roar swiping its sharp claws against the crate only inches from my face with only the metal shell of the crate keeping me safe. I didn’t flinch but I could hear gasps behind me and the werewolves’ growls growing louder. I knew their nervousness only made the creature more on edge so I put my hand up to calm them.
“What is that thing?” growled Viktor.
Phoenix leaned towards Viktor and whispered, “Nundu.”
“What-du?” Viktor asked puzzled.
Still staring at the creature and trying to show no fear I said calmly, “A Nundu. It’s originally from East Africa. It’s similar to a giant leopard with a thorny neckline that expands to create a roar that can be heard for miles, like a howler monkey. His breath can be toxic but this is an adolescent and he hasn’t developed that yet.”
"Well, why in the name of all that is unholy did you bring it to Quillville?” Viktor growled louder. The Nundu growled back.
“He needed a home. Don’t worry Viktor, I am just going to rehabilitate him and make sure he is healthy, then Phoenix and I will bring him home to Africa before his toxicity can develop,” I say still remaining as calm as possible. “But he is a big part of the reason I need you and all your lycanthropes here. Because if this creature falls into the wrong hands, it could mean big trouble for Quillville.” I continued to stare into the beautiful creature’s crate and was immediately full of love and awe. I put a hand gently on the metal to soothe the Nundu and his rumbling softened and calmed if only for a brief second.
The creature continued to pace and I knew it was time to hit the road. “Positions everyone!” I turned and called. The crates were loaded onto the trucks, the werewolves scattered themselves around, some in front of the trucks, some behind, and some on either side racing gracefully across the rooftops.
Phoenix turned to me and read off his checklist, “Hippogriff, Mooncalf, Erumpent, Thunderbird, Unicorn, Graphorn, Wampus Cat, and….gulp….Nundu.”
I smiled, “Looks like they are all here. Let’s go to the farm!”
Engines roared, the werewolves howled, and the creatures shifted in their crates as the trucks began to move. Phoenix drove behind us and I hopped a ride on the truck carrying the Nundu. Before I closed the heavy door, my Kneazle, Arrow, leaped gracefully onto my lap. Her large tufted ears pointed at full attention and she swirled in a circle and plopped on my legs. I gently stroked her soft brown fur as she relaxed and drifted to sleep like an extra-large cat.
The trucks roared along the streets of Quillville. I remembered to never assume that people would be sleeping in the middle of the night in a town of writers. There was always someone getting up to some sort of mischief. I looked out my window and watched the werewolves leap from rooftop to rooftop quickly and silently. When I looked to the sky I saw three broomsticks and what looked like witches flying on them. I thought to myself that it was strange, even for Quillville. We hadn’t seen witches in these parts for ages. I shrugged it off and thought about all of my wonderful new creatures, dreaming about rehabilitating each and bringing them into a loving home.
As we drove by the old worship house where the town Mediator set up shop, I noticed a figure standing in front suspiciously. I took note but found it’s best not to meddle in other people’s business.
We were just going by the Good Ideas Bookstore when a loud bang hit the truck. The driver swerved, trying to steady the truck as the impact of whatever made the sound was strong enough to jolt the whole vehicle. Arrow screeched and leaped up from my lap, hairs standing up on the back of her neck.
“What was that?” I asked the driver but he just shook his head. I looked in the side mirror just in time to see three dark figures leap from the rooftop onto the moving truck.
“What the….!” I yelled as I struggled to unbuckle my seatbelt. Glint had warned me. He had heard from the Red Quill that the Goth Gang in town were up to something, and they heard whispers that it had to do with me and my creatures. I just didn’t think it would be this.
I snapped off my seatbelt and threw the door open. Wind as cold as ice smacked me in the face and whipped my black hair around. Arrow was already ahead of me and had leaped from the door to the hood of the truck and then up onto the crate.
The driver looked at me dumbfounded. “Keep driving and don’t stop for anything!” I yelled over the loud wind and with a small smile, I followed Arrow and climbed onto the top of the truck.
The three figures were on the crate, dressed in all black, but the spikes on their jacket and boots gave them away. I could hear the loud roar of the Nundu as he tried to swipe at them, but they weren’t phased. They were busy latching metal hooks into the holes on top of the crate.
The truck swayed with the road beneath me as I tried to keep my balance. Arrow joined me by my side. Just then, Phoenix drove up next to me in his white pick up truck and rolled down the window. “Hey sis, need this?” he yelled and he launched a sword straight at my face from below. It was a perfect aim but the truck hit a bump and I missed the sword. It bounced in front of me and I leaped to grab it landing on the crate hard.
With the sword handle in one hand, I heard a loud rumble below me and looked into the crate to see the Nundu snarling right in my face. It was a good thing he didn’t have his toxic breath yet.
But this ungraceful maneuver grabbed the attention of the Goth Gang members and they jumped up to face me. “Get away from my creature,” I said slowly standing up with the sword in my hand. Their black spiky hair barely moved in the wind from all the hair gel and I felt like I was facing off with the band Kiss, but they all had swords too. As we stood there staring at each other I noticed something big coming from the rooftop to my left. My eyes shifted in that direction and the full moon was so bright, they saw that simple shift and looked too, just in time for them to dodge the attack of two werewolves. But the Goth Gang was prepared and one of them grabbed something that was on his back and fired it at the werewolves. It was a net that wrapped itself around its target and made the werewolves’ fur burn. A silver net. The werewolves howled in pain. “No!” I yelled and as I ran to try to help them the other Goth swung his sword at me. I countered and parried each blow. But he was strong and fast. Behind me I saw more werewolves jump onto the crate to defend my creature but each time they too were wrapped in a silver net. While I fought off the one Goth, the other was continuing to tie hooks to the crate, while the other defended against the werewolves.
The werewolves quickly caught on to their net tactic and one leapt from behind and he and the Goth fell from the truck. Arrow stood behind me at the ready and I called, “Arrow attack!” She bounded into action and started attacking the Goth with the ropes, scratching and biting him. Kneazles were quite ferocious if were not on their good side. I steadied myself, gathered my strength and began my own attack slicing at the Goth with my sword. The metal of the swords clanked, the wind blew, and the Nudu growled. Werewolves fought Goths on the rooftops. I had almost gotten the Goth to where I wanted him when the truck screeched to a halt. We all went flying. I managed to grab onto one of the holes in the crate, but I dropped my sword. Thankfully, Arrow used her claws to hold on too, but the Goth I was fighting wasn’t so lucky and flew off the truck. Then overhead I heard the loud beating of a helicopter. I stood up and sure enough, there it was hovering above us. Its bright lights blinded me and the wind made it almost impossible to keep my eyes open. I looked down and in front of the truck was a barricade made of old metal and concrete blocks manned by twenty of the Goth Gang members. A rope lowered from the helicopter and the Goth on top of the crate grabbed hold and it pulled him up along with the ropes he had attached to the crate.
A familiar face looked down at me from the helicopter and called out, “Hey thanks for the awesome creature, Struve!”
“Anna Mocikat! I should’ve known you’d be behind this!” I yelled back.
“Oh, it’s nothing personal. It’s just a job,” she called.
“Who hired you?” I needed answers.
“Sorry, client confidentiality! Gotta run Struve!” she said and the helicopter pulled up. The ropes attached to the crate tightened and the whole thing started to lift. Arrow jumped off onto the top of the truck but I held on. Phoenix pulled up next to me again.
“Jump off!” he yelled at me. I didn’t want to let go of my Nundu. I couldn’t let him go. “Struve let go!” he called again.
I held on tight but a sudden gust of wind blew dust into my eyes and I unwillingly let go. I landed hard on the top of the truck and wiped my eyes in time to see my cherished creature being flown away. I could hear his loud roars seeming to call to me. My stomach tightened.
Viktor ran up next to me as I hopped off the truck. “I’m sorry we couldn’t defend them. They had silver armor and….” I stopped him.
“It’s ok, Viktor. Thank you for everything you did,” I said solemnly.
The Goth Gang had ditched the barricade and scattered leaving us by ourselves. Phoenix ran up and gave me a hug.
“Where was the Red Quill when we needed her?” he said.
“Get me Glint. We need him,” I said.
Here you will find a growing collection of my Short Stories. From pieces I wrote for competitions, to some of my world building stories. Some of the longer ones, will be broken down and released as Chapters.