Uthar

Uthar

by Ann Marie R. Harvie

The day I met my new best friend started much like any other. I rolled out of bed, jumped from the shower into my clothes and nearly burned myself as I quickly filled my travel mug with coffee and ran out the door.

After screeching into the office parking lot on two wheels, I barely made it to my desk on time. Just as I put down my backpack, my boss strolled over to let me know I had a meeting with an important client at 12:30 p.m., cutting my lunch hour in half. I smiled and nodded, but when he left, I rolled my eyes. Darn! I had a lunch date with a guy I met while I was grocery shopping last night. He was handsome and seemed like he had a great personality. I wanted to get to know him better. But not this afternoon I sighed to myself as I dialed his number. However, my heart skipped a beat when I heard his silky, baritone voice suggest drinks after work. Maybe the day would be so bad after all!

My morning was productive but uneventful. My growling stomach told me it was time for lunch. The fact that my lunch bag what not sitting beside me because of the canceled lunch date reminded me that I didn’t bring anything. Not wanting my stomach to be a third party in my important client meeting, I ran down the street to the supermarket Sushi bar. Certainly not high-end, but fresh. I realized I was running out of time, so I clumsily ate my sushi as I walked. I was only halfway through with my lunch when I realized that I would have to run to make my meeting on time. I spotted an adorable grey cat sitting on top of small historical shrine situated between high rises just ahead of me. I take my left over raw salmon and I placed it on the shrine in front of the cat. “Today’s your lucky day, Kitty,” I said.

I gave him a quick pat on the head before depositing my container in the trash and sprinted back to the office.

As I opened the door to the office building, I stopped short when I saw the cat in front of me. “Do you know I’ve been sitting on that stupid shrine for 200 years waiting for someone to bring me an offering,” it said.

My eyes went wide. What was in that sushi?! I didn’t have time for hallucinations. Not really believing I just heard a cat talk, I gently nudged him away from the front door with my foot so I could open the door. “That’s all I have, Kitty,” I said as I hurried back to my desk.

I grabbed my folder with the project status report and hurried to the conference room where I was supposed to have a one on one with my client. When I got there, the client had not yet arrived – but my furry friend did.

“Ugh! Who let you in, Kitty?” I asked as I rushed to pick him up. “You can’t be in here. My client will be here any minute.”

As I looked around the room frantically for a window to put the cat out – we were on the first floor and only a foot or so from the ground – the cat spoke again. “My name is not Kitty,” he said with a touch of annoyance in his male voice. “I am not a cat. I am a God. My name is Uthar.”

I placed the cat down on the conference table and I plopped myself down in a chair in front of him, still not believing he was talking. “That sushi wasn’t as fresh and I thought it was,” I said to myself.

“I’ve been waiting 200 years…”

I cut the god off. “Yes, yes so you’ve said. Look I have an important meeting…”

The god then cut me off. “A god has decided to befriend you, and you tell him you have a meeting?”

I eyed the little furball. He was adorable. The apartment was lonely with just me, so I decided either way he was coming home. “A god, huh? Why would a god want to befriend me?”

Uthar swished his tail. “I had been cursed to sit on that shrine until someone made an offering to me. In all this time, I’ve been petted, teased, tortured and have had food thrown at me. But no one ever offered me food in kindness until today. You have freed me from my shrine and I will reward you with friendship.”

Stilling thinking I was having some psychotic break, I said, “Well, you’re welcome. You don’t have to of anything for me. Your gratitude is enough.”

“Oh, come now, I am a very beneficial friend.”

Before I could argue further, my client knocked on the door. Uthar jumped off the table and hid under the far end. “Thank you!” I whispered as I opened the door.

To my surprise, the meeting went well. The client was happy with the progress I was making designing his storefront and said if I kept up the good work, I would get a bonus.

I left the conference room with my new cat in my arms and hid him under the desk, offering him water until I got home. Uthar sure enjoyed tuna fish and milk for a non-cat. As I got ready for my date, I asked Uthar which dress he liked better. “The red one,” he said between mouthfuls. “I don’t see why you are leaving to be with a mortal when you can spend your time with a god.”

“Humans want human contact,” I explained while I put on my make up. “Although I love that I have a talking cat.”

“I am not a cat.”

As I patted Uthar on the head, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and my date walked through.

Uthar reacted, and not in a good way.

My non-cat cat’s back went up and his hair stood on end. His big, blue eyes narrowed into slits and he bared his teeth as he let out a mighty hiss. My date took a step back and gave out a little laugh. “Whoa, Kitty! Calm down. What a tiger!”

I eyed Uthar and told to behave himself as I left with my date.

Worst date ever.

I couldn’t get home fast enough. Just as my new cat could magically talk, my date magically grew extra hands, or at least it seemed that way. After threats of assault charges, he apologized for grabbing and groping me and offered to take me home.

I stupidly accepted. Once home, I tried to close the door, but my date was right behind me and forced himself inside. He grabbed me, but I got away. I ran to the other side of my small, open concept apartment. I rushed past Uthar, who laid on the kitchen table. As soon as he saw me, he jumped up and resumed his protective, threatening stance. My date stopped advancing and regarded Uthar with a laugh. “Are you kidding me? Your killer cat is going to try to save you? I don’t think so.”

Uthar hissed once more, but it seemed much louder and more guttural than before. I eyed my cat. His teeth seemed way bigger than I remembered them earlier. Actually, he seemed a lot bigger.

Right in front of my eyes, my sweet grey kitty morphed into an obscenely large grey wolf. His pretty blue eyes were blood red, and one of his fangs were the length of my hand from fingertip to wrist.

My date also noticed the change. The color left his face as he fell over himself trying to get out of my apartment. Uthar bit his backside and tore a large hole in my date’s pants as a personal memento of the evening.

Once the real monster was out of the apartment, Uthar changed back into the small grey cat. That was it – I was convinced. My new cat, my new best friend, was really a god. I stood staring at him while he cleaned his faced with his paws. After a while I said. “Wow. Thanks, Uthar.”

He stopped cleaning himself and regarded me. “I am Uthar, God of Battle,” he bellowed. And then added matter-of-factly, “I told you I wasn’t a cat.”

And so began our life-long friendship. I’ve got to say, it’s nice having a God as a BFF.

End.

Copyright 2017 Out of this World Publishing.  Photo courtesy of pixabay

 

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Barren

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By Ann Marie R. Harvie
“The tests came back yesterday,” Dr. Henry started. “I’m sorry. You can’t have kids.”
Mara stared at the doctor as she felt the panic start to consume her. “But he really wanted kids. I really wanted kids,” she said.

Dr . Henry shook his head. “I’m sorry. Medically you are unable to conceive a child. There is always adoption.”

Mara’s heart thumped hard and fast against her chest. Tears welled up in her eyes and cascaded down her face. “We wanted our own.”

“An adopted child would be your own,” reasoned the doctor.

Mara tried to wipe the tears from her face, but they were quickly replaced with new ones. “He’s going to divorce me,” she sobbed. “He’s not going to want me as a wife because I can’t give him kids.”

Dr. Henry put down the papers he held in his hand and touched Mara’s shoulder. “This has been quite a shock for you,” he said. “I know you were optimistic that the test would come back positive. Take some time to absorb what you’ve heard. Don’t panic. As I said, you have options if you really want children.”

The doctor took a pad from his desk and scribbled for a moment. Then he took his prescription pad and scribbled some more. He handed Mara a box of tissues and the two pieces of paper. “This is Valium to help you sleep these next couple of nights,” he said. “This is the number to an excellent grief counselor who specializes in sterilization diagnoses and loss of children. Get some rest tonight and call her in the morning. Everything is going to be all right.”

Mara blew her nose, wiped her eyes and sniffled a little before leaving the office to go fill the prescription the doctor gave her.

***
Mara’s husband Nick arrived home late from work that night. Anticipation caused his hands to shake as he put the key in the lock of the front door. He wondered why Mara had not called him to tell him the test results. He smiled to himself. She probably had some sort of celebration planned for them. Maybe a special dinner she made, or a special baked goodie. He opened the door and found it dark inside. Nick frowned in confusion. He didn’t smell anything cooking or baking. Was she hiding in the dark to surprise him? “Mara?” he called. “Mara, are you home?”

Nick fumbled for the light switch and flipped it on. The kitchen light made him squint, he was so used to being in the dark. His eyes quickly adjusted. The kitchen was tidy. No dishes in the sink and the pots and pans all hung above the butcher block island. “Mara?” he called again.

No answer. Nick took out his Smart Phone to see if his wife texted or emailed him to say she would not be home, but there was nothing. Confused, Nick headed to the bedroom, dialing Mara’s phone as he went. He opened the door and turned on the light.

Nick dropped his phone.

Mara lay crumpled on the plush gray carpet clutching a pill bottle in one hand and a white teddy bear in the other. Her death stare told him everything that happened and that it was too late to do anything to help her. He dropped to his knees, a long, loud wail escaping from deep within him. He scooped up his wife with one hand and dialed 911 with the other. The teddy bear fell out of Mara’s hand and bounced away under the bed, disappearing like the hopes and dreams of the young couple.

Copyright 2017 Out of this World Publishing. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Death in the Royal Gardens

By Ann Marie R. HarvieIMG_7090

Neptune stopped short at the end of the hedge-lined maze and peered into the garden. A thick mist hung in the air, partially obscuring her view. She took in a deep breath. The cool, moist air filled her lungs and helped her focus. A Wardon assassin, who only minutes ago made a failed attempt on Queen Moreen of Zatoks’ life, hid somewhere in the walled paradise.

Neptune leaned into the 10-foot greenery for cover as she listened for him in the hopes he would betray his position. She heard the lapping water of the center fountain and a gentle breeze rustling the leaves of the trees, but nothing else. Trying to get a better bearing, Neptune noticed the broken stems and scattered petals of the queen’s prized illuminating roses to her right, almost showing her the way to her enemy. Although barely visible, she knew there was a large statue of a horse close to the trampled flower bed. She dashed from the safety of the hedges to the statue. As she rushed to her destination, blue streaks of light came at her through the mist about 40 feet away from her cutting chunks off the statue and the wall behind it.

Neptune smiled. She knew right where he was. She gripped her Ks-99 laser and brought it up to her chest. “Come out,” she said in Wardonese. “Come out, there’s no escape!”

Her demands were met with more laser fire. She ducked behind the now crumbling horse and returned his fire. The Wardon shouted at her, his voice indignant and confident. “After I kill you, I will go back and kill the queen!” He yelled.

Neptune’s eyebrows raised involuntarily. Did he really think he had a chance of escaping? “Come out now and I won’t kill you,” she lied.

“You think you’re all so smart, smarter than the Wardons, but you’re not,” he spat. “It was easy for me to get through your security and get into the palace walls.”

His words disturbed Neptune. How did he get in anyway? How did he, a classic Wardon — a short, bald being with grey skin and V-Shaped eyebrows — ever get onto the planet’s surface let along into the palace? Neptune shook her head as if to free her mind of the question. Her mission was to kill the Wardon. She’d leave the security breach to someone else.

Neptune got down on her stomach and into the soft, fragrant grass. A large urn stood only a few feet away from her. If she could get there, she would have a better vantage point in which to take the Wardon out. She crawled to to the urn, but just as she reached it, more laser blasts came her way. This time when the laser shot took a piece of the urn, it also got her in the shoulder.

Neptune suppressed the urge to cry out as the explosion of pain in her shoulder momentarily overtook her. She sat with her back on the cold stone surface of the urn and involuntarily reached for her shoulder. When she brought her hand back, she saw it was soaked in blood. Neptune’s eyes narrowed. That’s it, she thought, no more fooling around. She reached into her belt and pulled out a small, golfball- sized orb. She pressed a small button and the white colored object turned a brilliant blue. She lobbed the bomb in the direction of the assassin. It detonated in seconds. The Wardon’s screams in concert with the sounds of the garden wall exploding let Neptune know she got her target.

Cautiously, she approached the rubble of what was once part of the alabaster wall of the garden. Pieces of the Wardon and chunks of the wall littered the grass. The queen is going to be upset about what he did to her garden, thought Neptune. She pressed the communicator in her ear. “The Wardon is dead,” she said to the person on the other end. “I had to take out half of the garden, but I got him.”

Neptune ended the communication and headed back to the castle to get her shoulder looked at. Her job was done. Cleaning up the mess was someone else’s job.

 

Copyright 2017 Out of This World Publishing.  Photo courtesy of Pixabay

 

The Ouja Board Mishap

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Harlow pulled at her friend Dawn’s arm as they ascended the creaky he wooden stairway leading to the attic. “Come on!” she said excitedly. “Wait ‘til you see how huge this is!”

Dawn poked her head up into the attic space. She crinkled her nose at the musty smell of the room that had not been opened for a long time. She squinted her eyes to try to get them to adjust to the dim lighting. Soon she saw dusty boxes, a sewing mannequin and a spinning wheel littering the large space. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” she exclaimed. “We have to clean this up? I don’t think it’s going to be worth what you promised me.”

“Oh relax,” Harlow said as she jumped up into the attic pulling Dawn with her. “My parents are having cleaners coming in to do the heavy work. We just have to go through a few boxes to see if there’s anything valuable inside. We don’t even have to take them out of the boxes. We just have to mark on them what we find inside.”

Harlow’s parents were history buffs. They bought the 19th century Arcadia style home in the hopes to restore it to its former glory. They promised Harlow, their only child, the attic for her own. The only catch was she had to fix it up herself after it was cleaned. The 16-year-old relished the thought of decorating her own large living space, and she jumped at the chance. She talked to Dawn, her best friend, into helping her go through the boxes with the promise of a lobster dinner at the end of the day. Dawn was a seafood lover and she wanted to please her best friend, so it wasn’t very hard to convince her to help. But now that she saw the dust in the prospect of bugs crawling all over her, Dawn was beginning to wonder if this was such a great idea after all. “This is crazy!” Dawn exclaimed. “There’s probably rats or other things that will bite us up here.”

Harlow started throwing up some of the old windows to get more air and light into the room. After she finished she put her hands on her hips and regarded her friend. “The fumigators and exterminators have already sprayed the house and have gotten rid of all the pests,” she said. “There no dead animal smells, so I don’t think anything like that have is still up here. That’s why all the boxes are moved away from the walls. All we have to do is go through them and my parents will have somebody come and pick them up. We don’t have to dust or anything. I brought us some gloves and some dust masks so you don’t have to touch anything dirty.”

Dawn felt relieved at not having to have her skin meet anything up in the attic. “Oh, all right then,” she said in defeat.

Harlow’s face lit up once more and she handed her friends a pair of long rubber gloves and a white mask. “Here,” she said shoving the items into her hands. “These are for you.”

Dawn reluctantly put on the gloves and a mask and followed Harlow to the end of the room to start going through some boxes. After about an hour of sifting through the boxes filled with old moldy toys and Moth-eaten clothes, the girls came upon a picture of a young woman in a box full of clothes. Harlow picked up the picture and regarded the woman under the glass frame. Her thin face and sunken in brown eyes gave her the appearance of a sickly young woman. Dawn took the picture from Harlow and looked at it herself. “Oh! This looks like the photo that you can get at the amusement park. They took them to look like they’re very old.”

Harlow took back the picture slightly annoyed with her friend. “This is one of those old photos for real,” she explained. “It’s tinted because it’s hundreds of years old!”

“She looks kind of creepy,” said Dawn. “Her face is all sunken in and her eyes are kind of weird.”

Harlow nodded. “Yes. She’s long dead,” she said. She examined the photograph and recognition sparked in her eyes. “This must be Sadie Whittemore,” she said. “She lived here with her parents. She was an old maid, but she died of consumption in her early 20s.”

“Consumption?”

“Yes,” said Harlow. “That’s what they called cancer back in the early 1900s. From what I understand, the parents were real jerks. Once they found out that she was sick and it was going to cost them a lot of money for medicine, the penny pinchers just killed her instead. They called it a mercy killing. That’s what my mom said anyway.”

Dawn gasped. “Oh my God! That’s horrible!”

“I know, right? Can you imagine what would happen to our parents if they tried to do that to one of us? Not that our parents would ever do anything like that!”

“Put the picture away, Harlow,” ordered Dawn. “Now I’m completely creeped out.”

Harlow put the photo face down back into the box and taped it up. The girls soon moved on to other boxes. Harlow discovered a box still up against the wall of the attic. “That’s strange,” she said. “They were supposed to move all the boxes away from the walls.”

Dawn shook her head. “Harlow, don’t touch that one,” she warned. “What if there something alive behind it. I don’t think the fumigators your parents hired did a very good job of cleaning up here if there is a box still against the wall.”

Harlow frowned at her friend. “Don’t be silly,” she said with slight irritation in her voice. “We need to go through all the boxes. That was the deal I made with my parents. And that was the deal you made with me.”

Harlow push the box away from the wall. She found the wall was damage behind the box. “Ah ha!” she exclaimed. “This is why the box of shoved up against the wall. They did some damage while they were fumigating and looking for critters. When my parents find out they’re going to have a fit!”

Dawn walked over to see what Harlow was upset about. “Wow, they really wrecked it.”

Dawn examined the damage wall closely. She noticed an opening behind the damaged wood. “Harlow, I think there’s something behind this wall,” she said as she squinted her eyes to see if she could get a better look.

Harlow bent down to see and her eyes went wide. “You’re right!” she said excitedly. “A secret room maybe? Let’s tear it open a little bit more to see!”

Dawn shook her head. “I don’t think your parents are going to like that,” she warned. “They’re going to be mad enough because the fumigators damage the wall in the first place.”

Harlow looked up from the wall. “They have no idea how much damage the fumigators have done,” she reasoned. “We can blame it all on them. I really want to see what’s behind this wall.”

“Okay,” said Dawn with a sigh. Once Harlow got something stuck in her mind, it was there until action was taken.

The two girls stuck their fingers into the wall and pulled off a wooden plank. Dust came out from the opening and the girls were thankful they had their masks on. When the dust settled they saw a dusty black chest inside the crevice. “Oh, this is getting really good now!” said Harlow. She practically dove into the crevice to retrieve the box.

“Harlow! Be careful! You don’t know what’s in there with the box,” warned Dawn.

“I will, calm down!” said Harlow angrily. “If anything was back here it would be either dead or it would’ve run when we opened up the board.”

Harlow tugged at the black box and it easily just slid from the crevice into the bigger attic space. She took a towel and wiped the box down to reveal and even blacker exterior. “Hey this is a cool box,” she said. “Even if there’s nothing inside it, I can use it for art supplies.”

Dawn knelt beside Harlow as she opened the box. She was half hoping that it would creek like in the old movies. To her disappointment, the box didn’t make a noise as Harlow opened it to reveal its contents. The only item in the box was an old Ouija board. Harlow lean back and took in the object. “Hmmm,” she said. “This is interesting.”

Dawn peaked in the box, took in a quick breath and then shut the top. She jumped to her feet. “We aren’t going to touch the Ouija board,” she announced. “My mother told me that we should never play with things like that. She says they’re Evil.”

Harlow laughed. “Your mother spends too much time in church,” she said. “This is just a toy. Nothing more. I think it would be fun to play with one. I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve heard how you can use it.”

Dawn shook her head. “There’s no way I’m touching that thing.”

“Oh, come on! It’ll be fun. We’ll do it just for a minute. It’ll be good to take a break from all the boxes.”

Dawn continued to shake her head. “I am absolutely not touching that thing.”

“Oh, you’re such a scaredy pants!”

Dawn stood her ground. “You can call me whatever you want, there is no way I am going to be touching that Ouija board!”

After five minutes of pleading and crying, Dawn finally gave in to her friend. “Okay, fine. Just for a minute. I don’t like this. These things are not to be played with.”

Harlow snorted. “Of course they are!”

“No, back in the day they used to use them to talk to the dead for real,” said Dawn. “I don’t have anyone that I really want to talk to.”

Harlow opened the box and took out the Ouija board and put it on the floor. She considered What Dawn said. “I don’t know anyone that’s did either. Maybe we should ask the board to have somebody from the other world come and talk to us. That would be kind of cool!”

“Oh no it wouldn’t!” said Dawn.

“You said you’d play! Just for a minute. I promise.”

Dawn gave in to her friend. She knelt beside the board opposite of Harlow and examined it. The letters from A-to-Z sprawled across the old, rotting wood board. Dawn could see parts of the board where varnish was still on the board. She thought it curious that although the Oracle seemed as weathered as the board, the glass circle in the center seemed almost new. Dawn felt a cold chill go down her spine. “Okay, let’s hurry this up. We’re just going to play with it for a second and then we’re putting it away.”

Harlow nodded in excitement as she placed the Oracle on the center of the board. Both girls gingerly place their hands on the edges of the Oracle. Suddenly, Dawn felt heat coming from the Oracle into her fingers. Harlow must’ve felt the same because her face marked surprise.

“Dawn, do you feel that? What’s happening?” She yelled.

Dawn tried to take her fingers off the Oracle. She let out a small scream. “I can’t let go!”

Both girls frantically tried to pull away from the Oracle. The glass center began to glow blue. The girls began to scream louder as boxes began slamming against the walls of the attic. The glow grew brighter as the girls’ anxiety mounted. The Oracle lifted off the board with the girls’ fingers still on it. The center circle started to pulse and the Oracle began to shake. Then, as suddenly as it started, Harlow and Dawn felt their fingers release from the Oracle and were knocked back on their behinds. It smashed against the wall and landed on the floor a few feet away from them. Before the girls could process what just happened, black smoke emerged from the cracked circle. An image of the woman in the picture appeared in the smoke. Blood seemed to leak from her wide eyes and a maniacal smile emerged on her mouth. Harlow and Dawn stared opened mouthed at the apparition in front of them, frozen in fear. Sadie Whittemore let out an ear-piercing cackle as she looked down on the two terrified girls.
“Thanks, girls!” She said. Without warning, the apparition flew out the nearest attic window.

Harlow and Dawn stared after her with horror etched on their faces. “We just unleashed a demon,” said Dawn when she was finally able to find her voice.

“Oh man,” said Harlow. “I am so grounded.”

To be continued…

 

Copyright 2017 Out of this World Publishing.  Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

 

 

The Garden Gnome

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They toured the house with the real estate agent.
“We love it,” he said. “Is there anything we should know about the house’s past?”
The agent looked down.

“Well…,” he began. He shifted his weight and looked uncomfortable. He scratched the back of his head nervously before he said, “there’s the gnome.”

Mr. Davis frowned. “Excuse me?”

The Garden Gnome outside. The neighbors think it’s possessed.”

Mrs. Davis burst out laughing. “Are you kidding me? The garden gnome is possessed?”

She went outside to the front yard and bent down to examine it. The paint was weathered, and there was a small chip on the hat. “It’s adorable!” She exclaimed. “He just needs a little paint. He’s not possessed, he’s neglected.”

Mr.Davis laughed. He told Mr. Gray that they would take the house. Mrs. Davis bent down and whispered in a low voice, addressing the gnome. “I’ll take care of you if you take care of me, okay?”

She winked at the old gnome and left with her husband.

The couple bought the home and as promised. Mrs Davis gave the gnome a good washing and patched the small chip on the hat. After, she gave the Gnome, who she named Gus, a new paint job — shiny red hat, white beard and fat, rosy cheeks. She found a nice shady spot for him under the Japanese Maple so he would be somewhat protected from the elements. “There! Good as new! You look fabulous, Gus.”

Weeks went by, and every time Mrs. Davis passed by Gus she would always say hi, as if he were a pet. When she tended the Maple tree and the flowers, she would always give him a wash to keep him like new.

One night, when Mr. Davis was away on business, a robber broke into the house. He threatened Mrs. Davis and began smacking her around demanding money. She fell from the violence of his attack. Suddenly, Mrs. Davis heard a loud thud. The robber’s head jerked forward. She heard a hollow sounding thud and then he fell dead at her feet. Laying face down next to the robber was Gus, as if someone had thrown him at the robbers head. Mrs. Davis steadied herself and called police. After she hung up, she stared at the garden gnome laying on the floor, not touching him so as not to get finger prints on him. “Thanks for keeping you end of the bargain,” she said to him.

The next day, Gus the Garden Gnome was in his usual place under the Japanese Maple tree. He seems to have a wider smile on his face as he stood guard of the Davis home.