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Munson's Microfiction Entry

By Matthew FrommPublished 23 days ago 4 min read

“Shumba ctulla! Darkness come forth!”

John Barrow yawned as his false master stood within the pentagram. Winning this one's trust had been the warden's easiest assignment yet. Lightening flashed outside the quaint seaside Victorian—unseasonable yet unassuming to the uninitiated. Cobwebs hung overhead and John watched as one drifted dangerously close to the ghastly number of candles scattered about the turret chamber.

“Gothic with a side of Lovecraft, right up your alley, John,” John’s handler told him at their meet-up in a Portsmouth parking garage. He wasn’t wrong; it was right up John’s alley. From there, infiltrating the so-called Brotherhood was simple–difficult to be a brotherhood with only one mage.

The cobweb tickled the edges of the flame. It was, John had to admit, quite the shame that the old house would not survive the night. He had spent so many of his thirty-nine years on this earth within derelict manors, decrepit insane asylums, and crumbling castles that he had grown fond of them. There was something inspirational about collapsing masonry and condemned woodwork–something about letting structures devour themselves instead of hammering them to the ground.

Agent Justin Murrow first approached John in 1997 when John was a boot-licking aspiring agent. “You want to keep sulking in a cubicle or work with the weird stuff?” Agent Murrow offered, stepping uninvited into John’s cubicle in his trademark white shirt and khakis. Justin kept his aviators tucked between the third and fourth buttons at all times, and everyone made fun of him for it. Still, the CIA was not exactly somewhere you denied a superior offering you a job.

The next day, John was initiated into Project GANDALF.

The next week, he was in Romania hunting a vampire.

As they say, life comes at you fast, and Agent Murrow had become closer than family in the past seven years.

“Seedo velumuns! Let the ravens bring forth our omens,” Master Dolan Poe bellowed. John had stifled a laugh reading the case dossier—the name was objectively ridiculous, as were most of the words coming out of Master Poe’s wisen mouth as he struggled against the incantations. His white beard fluttered as the green light emanating from the spell book turned deep, blood red. John almost hoped some passerby would witness it. The scene was the sort of inspiration an aspiring horror writer would kill for. John thumbed the silver knife hidden under his robes and absently wondered if Stephen King lived nearby.

“Paga Vitalen! Let the wardens hunt us mages nevermore!”

It was almost time.

As Master Poe reached his entranced crescendo, the spell’s power forced him rigid.

John struck, burying his silver knife into the mage’s heart. The blade smoked but generated no heat.

“You were the one!” The blood vessels in Master Poe’s eyes ruptured as he screamed, and John swore the corner of his lip curled into a smile. Mages were a weird lot, even for John’s line of work.

Candles rolled as uncontained whisps of magic flooded the chamber from the discarded spell book. Master Poe grabbed John’s robed collar.

“And you will oppose us nevermore,” Master Poe said with his dying breath. John thought nothing of it.

"My tears need a minute to find the edges of my face. If you'll please excuse me,” John said, dropping the body to the floor. He cleaned the knife on the dead master's robes before tossing his own into the fire. He sprinted from the house in a black jumpsuit, lying hidden as the flames consumed the grand old Victorian.

John returned to the Boardwalk Hotel without further incident. As he finished his mission report, John sipped a whiskey and watched the rusting Ferris wheel outside rattle in the evening wind. Everything went perfectly according to plan. Satisfied, he crawled to bed.

Sleep denied him. John writhed, illuminated by the neon lights of the boardwalk beyond, peaking through the dingy blinds.

He awoke drenched in cold sweat.

The figure loomed over him, hood raised and robes billowing. The black morass of night obscured all else. Though impossible, it must have been Master Poe. John did not panic; panic was below him. Beside the bed lay his knife.

As John readied himself, the figure raised his arms rigidly, bellowing, “Nevermore!”

John lunged, striking true.

Blood dripped down his knife as the world around John coalesced, not into the bedroom of the dingy boardwalk hotel…but into the street outside. Neon Lights doused the body in grotesque shades of pink and orange.

It was not Master Poe.

The victim reflected the shock in John’s own eyes. Agent Marrow’s eyes bulged as the color drained from his face. The knife clattered to the asphalt.

John felt the unmistakably cold steel of a gun against his head. He raised his hands as the officers closed in.

On the awning above, a raven stood vigil over the harrowing scene, and John swore it squawked…




A community challenge double! This one came it at 799 words not counting the necessary quote, so thank you for that stipulation Christy. Kenny, love the gothic theme, and I wanted to blend some traditional gothic imagery with something a little more modern. I hope you both enjoy them.

If you've enjoyed this, please leave a like and an insight below. If you really enjoyed this, tips to fuel my coffee addiction are always appreciated. All formatting is designed for desktops. All my works can be found below:

FantasythrillerShort StoryPsychologicalMicrofictionHorrorHistoricalClassicalAdventure

About the Creator

Matthew Fromm

Full-time nerd, history enthusiast, and proprietor of random knowledge. The best way to find your perfect story is to write it yourself.

Here there be dragons, and knights, and castles, and quests for entities not wishing to be found.

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Comments (6)

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  • Hannah Moore14 days ago

    I love the way the magic sits alongside the brutal in this one.

  • Lamar Wiggins18 days ago

    Wow! Two birds (ravens) with one stone. Awesome work as always, Matt. Best of luck in both challenges. On a side note, I've been meaning to ask, not sure what made me think of it right now. On your story, 'Once more unto the breach' Was the use of Bordanium purposely created from Anthony Bourdain. I know he's a personal hero and thought that was cool.

  • I believe it did squawk....great story

  • Kenny Penn20 days ago

    Ah Matthew there is so much I love about this story! Dark vengeance, references to Poe and his work, Stephen King, magic, the scenery, all fantastic!

  • Christy Munson23 days ago

    As I read your story, I kept thinking it would be a great entry in Kenny's Gothic Stories Challenge, too! I thought for a sec I must be loosing it because I'm working on something for that challenge right now and figured I was just too in my head. But no! Definitely a great fit for both challenges!!! Anyway, out of objectivity I'll say no more (not nevermore) just now. Best of luck with both challenges, and thank you for participating.

  • D. J. Reddall23 days ago

    You have deftly blended an homage to H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and their ilk with parody and satire of the lot! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this tale.

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