SNIPPETS...

 

Here's a few snippets from some of my stories... some published, some not (yet) published. I hope you enjoy this taste, and that it wets your appetite for more!

Giants

By David R. Downing

...On the far side of the crude fire pit, which was set in a hollow space in the cave’s damp walls, was a large vat filled with the giant’s gruesome meal. Reddish and gray, steaming and bubbling, the rolling liquid revealed the true nature of its contents. A hand, a foot, a detached leg with the stewed meat barely clinging to the softening bones, all floated briefly to the surface before being carried back down into the depths of the black metal cauldron.

Near the vat was a smaller pot. This also sat on the flames and the viscous liquid in this vessel would from time to time erupt with violent bubbles rising angrily to the surface. A single bleached bone poked up from the pot and with this the giant would occasionally stir the syrupy contents – testing its readiness.

Satisfied, the giant removed the severed head from the flames and held it above his own. With broken teeth he nibbled at the ragged edges and tore at the tendrils of burned flesh. Pleased with his trimming, he lowered the head to his face and with a tongue as rough and cold as the stone on which he squatted, he licked the face clean then dipped the head carefully into the black liquor of the smaller vessel and scooted the pot off to the edge of the fire pit....

The Veil of Vengeance

By David R. Downing

Some come to the dance at an early age. With awkward steps and blushing faces, they struggle with the movements that will someday feel so simple and natural. Others learn the steps much later, joining willing and passionate partners in bright ballrooms and festive halls. The movements of these dances are practiced and perfected in a lifetime of joyous performance on the floors of courtship; the learned steps a reflection of mutual fervor and desire. Such were the dances of most men; such were the steps of those most fortunate.

 

Such was not Kalat's dance.

Kalat's dance was learned through endless hours of instruction in the dark halls of the Veil, drilled into perfection by the discipline of the Masters. This was a dance to which Kalat had hundreds of unwitting partners, a dance in which he always took the lead. Kalat's dance was set to the music of steel slashing through flesh, of footfalls sloshing in blood, and of the gurgling groans of doomed men. The steps to this dance were outlined in a swirl of bloody footprints, the motions defined by the spilled entrails of writhing victims. In this dance Kalat was a relentless performer, dominating the floor with a wide and bloody ovation.

 

This was the dance of death, ruin, and destruction. Of this dance Kalat was the master. On this stage he was without equal. In this performance, Kalat was without compare.

Sand Castles

By David R. Downing

...Hiwalani could not save what they had built. Frustrated, the boy kicked at the castle wall. Already weakened by the water at its base, the wall slid down upon itself and formed a slushy pile that the rising waters would soon overwhelm.  Hiwalani turned, leaving the castle to be consumed by the encroaching sea, and went to sit by his father’s side.

"Why didn’t you help?" Hiwalani grumbled. "Together, we could have saved it."

Alaka’i shrugged. "Perhaps we could have. But then what? Will you be here at the next rising of the tide? Will you devote your life to this castle? And should I also?"

 

"But we worked so hard to build it," Hiwalani complained. "How could you let it pass so easily?"

"So it is my son. We cannot deny the tirelessness of the waves.” Alaka’i’s voice was low and firm. “We cannot fight the surf."

Hiwalani frowned. It was just a sand castle after all. "Should we not have built it then? Should we have devoted this day to other pursuits – something that would last, something that we could take back with us?"

Alaka’i slowly smiled. "No," he said. "It was the building that was the important thing. Working by your side, seeing your skill at forming the walls, and helping you realize your vision. That was what mattered. That will last."...

Jeremy's Bell

By David R. Downing

With each passing year, I find it becomes increasingly difficult to believe the facts of my own story. I have many times wondered at the details that I claim, and grown progressively skeptical of my ability to accurately describe the events of that Christmas so long ago. It seems that the seeds of doubt have taken root in the timeworn cracks of my feeble memory, questioning each purported fact with a new scrutiny. Yet even with the doubts, I still hold to the truth of my story and to the message that it brings even now...

...Here, let's sit for awhile. I'm sure that your feet are as tired as mine, and I could use some time for my meal to settle. I don't think I've eaten so much in months. This church has truly been blessed with the best cooks in Albuquerque. The pots of posole, stacks of tortillas, and trays of enchiladas served over the years have brought substance to many hungry stomachs. Maria had dubbed my favorite as "The Christmas Tamale" - spicy pork stewed in red chile, rolled in a fresh corn masa, and smothered with a generous serving of zesty green chile.

 

The bright colors of these tamales echo those of the decorations strung around this room. It is a treat unlike any other, and the blend of the two chiles produces an amazingly delicate flavor. The teenagers like to argue about which chile produces the hottest tastes, but the truth is that it depends on the harvest. Some years, the green is spicier, and others it is the red. This year the green chiles have earned the fire breather award. They made today's Christmas Tamale a treat I won't soon forget...

Awakening 

By David R. Downing

...Somewhere sheltered in the safe confines of thick walls and shuttered windows, a young girl awoke from her nightmares. Her sweat wetted the sheets and her body yet shivered from the memory of the dreams. It was dark, she was alone, but she was not afraid. Emboldened by the memory of her dreams, the girl stilled her will and whispered into the dark.

 

“You cannot touch me” she said. And she knew that it was true.

 

The day may come when this girl’s name would be known throughout the world. She may command armies, master the sciences, or rule nations. One day she may be a mother, protectively nursing her newborn or standing defiantly between her children and any who dared to cause harm. The day may come when all men would know of this girl, or perhaps only one man would be given the treasure to the depths of her thoughts. One day she would be a woman, and she alone would define all that that would mean.

 

But this was not yet that day. On this day she was still a child. Yet she was a child armed with all the strengths which one day she would so mightily wield. For on this day she retained her cunning, her courage, and her dogged determination. On this day, as on each day previous and for each day yet to come, she held fast to that which the demon so much wanted yet could not have.

 

She held firm to her soul.​

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© 2020 by David R. Downing