At the end of August I finished a mini prequel to my Dragonspire universe, The Hidden Village. In future I’ll post two short stories a month. This week a girl named Crimson, named after the colour of the sky where she was born, lives up to her name.
Onto the story:
Twin oak trees obscured the makeshift cemetery from view. A young woman with crimson red hair, flowing past her waist, stood before a cluster of unmarked graves, fists clenched at her sides. ‘Hello Amber, it’s been a while.’ No reply. Unsurprising. She turned from the small mounds of earth towards the only two with gravestones. ‘Mother, sister.’
A ghostly apparition, in the woman’s likeness, but with shorter hair, appeared above her sister’s grave. ‘You should visit more often, Crimson. You know mother doesn’t talk, and Amber’s a miserable wretch.’
Crimson smirked. ‘That’s understandable, given what happened.’ She toyed with the small red pocket knife around her neck. ‘I wonder if he even remembers her?’
‘Doubtful. They weren’t close, and people remember firsts, rarely seconds.’ Her eyes drifted south, to the crimson skies above the city. ‘He was the best man today, wasn’t he?’
‘Hmm. Always the grooms man, never the groom.’
‘I never understood why you two don’t get it over with. People will talk.’
‘Now you sound like her.’
Crimson turned her back on her ghostly twin and dragged a sack from her hover car. She hefted it over to the gravestones and dropped it with a thud. ‘Her.’ She gestured to the sack.
‘Another one? So soon? You know a sacrifice is only necessary once a year sister…’
‘Hmm.’ Crimson kicked the sack and returned to the car for a shovel. The metallic surface reflected in her manic eyes. ‘I couldn’t help it. She insulted us when she suggested I could swap him for another man… Bah. Eight and a half years together, and over four engaged. You’d think that’d be enough to demonstrate our commitment.’
‘Weddings always bring out the best in people, or the worst.’ She grimaced as an arm fell free of the sack. ‘Still, you should control your temper, lest you get caught over a petty revenge kill.’
‘You know as well as I do I can cover up a murder,’ Crimson said as she began to dig. ‘In our line of work it’s essential.’
‘That’s besides the point. If you get locked up you can’t make the sacrifices and my spirit will leave this world, just like hers will.’
Crimson looked up through the leaves, where a ghostly figure sat on a branch swinging her legs back and forth. ‘No one to kill for you, sweetheart?’
The ghost made a rude gesture with her fingers and turned away. Crimson threw the shovel aside with a petulant frown and tossed the sack towards the hole. She winced as the loose arm smacked hers on the way down and streaked blood over her hands. ‘Don’t worry, I’ll be careful.’
Her sister’s eyes rolled skyward at the crimson stains. ‘I don’t think this is what father had in mind when he said he hoped you’d live up to your name.’
Crimson followed her gaze up towards the deep red skies. ‘He wanted me to reach for the sky. Be the best at what I do. I think I’ve covered that pretty well.’ She reached for the shovel. ‘Keep ’em away, like always?’
‘Of course. Only fools dare tread here. Well, fools and teenagers looking for a secluded spot to make out. The stories they tell keep others away.’
‘Good. Then no one will ever know, and I’ll never have to leave you.’ Dirt cascaded into the hole and covered her victim. She wiped her hand over her sweaty brow and grinned. ‘You’re all I have left.’
‘We’re the only ones to blame for that,’ her sister replied with a fond smile. Her ghostly eyes glazed over as she glanced at the grave beside her. ‘Do you remember our first kill? The look on her face…’
Crimson nodded towards their mother’s stone. ‘You always remember your firsts. Was worth it, even if it ended as it did.’
‘We knew he’d catch up to us eventually.’ Her features twisted into a grimace, and she gestured to Crimson’s forehead. ‘You might want to…’ She mimed wiping her brow.
When Crimson wiped her forehead her hand came away streaked in blood. She frowned. ‘I’ll stop by the river before I head back. Wash up.’
‘I’ll go with you, make sure you don’t miss any blood. You can’t re-join the reception as you are.’
The pair of twins, one in crimson dress matching hair and sky, and the other ethereal, strode away from the makeshift cemetery and towards a nearby river. Crimson frowned as she bent to wash her arms, and the blood of her victim trickled away. She vowed to keep her temper in check next time, just in case. After all, there was nothing she wouldn’t do to keep her sister’s spirit close.
Thanks for reading!
Going back to writing short stories after writing a series for so long was hard! I have no idea where this idea came from. In this universe spirits stay around for a year after death, but their existence can be extended if someone commits a murder a year, a sacrifice, on their behalf. I might delve into this idea further at some point.
Like hashtag games? Join my weekly writing prompt game on Twitter and share lines with #sunscribbles, or write a short story based on a prompt. The prompts for September are:
One word not enough? I post expanded prompts weekly on Pinterest:
The sky stretched into the distance. We knew what lay ahead, but were we willing to sacrifice what lay behind us to get it?
If you use one of the prompts feel free to share your story links in the comments.
See you next week!