Rancid and Running Short Story

Website i09’s weekly Concept Art Writing Prompt inspired me again last week, so below is my story and the artwork of a rabid unicorn that inspired it.

Rabid Unicorn

Rancid and Running

By Kris Bather

“I was once like you.”

“You.” Tristan gulped, and his back legs tentatively retreated. “You were never like me.”

The darkened unicorn snorted; the hot air causing a honey-like substance to droop from his nostrils and onto the jagged corpse open before him. “Maybe not. I was always more…curious.”

“We thought we lost you Ankhan. The herd was worried. We missed you. We still do.”

Ankhan looked at the gleaming creature before him. Once they were similar, yet now they could not be more different. His limp, malting mane, charcoal hide, and eyes, knees and teeth that barley functioned were in blunt contrast to Tristan’s gleaming, magnificent form. They resembled opposing pieces of a chessboard.

Ankhan blinked, and looked at his tasteless meal. Jealousy, self pity and regret became a maelstrom within him. He let out a sigh. “Yet none of you came searching.”

Tristan found confidence to deflect the accusation. “We couldn’t. You know that.”

“Or you’d become like me?” Ankhan smiled, or at least tried to, but with his loose jaw and jutting teeth it only enhanced the horror.

The pause between these two, once equal creatures perpetuated the chasm. Both knew where they were, and what had taken them there.

“Why did you do it? You had everything. I don’t understand.”

“Everything?” Ankhan’s back legs shifted and trembled, forcing him to sit under the shade of the gnarled tree. “Everything but freedom.”

“Were you in a cage? Were you mistreated? Did you lack anything?”

Ankhan barely lifted his head to meet Tristan’s eyes. He now realized the extent of the compassion he had willingly abandoned. Despite Ankhan’s cloudy vision, he could easily discern the sorrow in Tristan’s eyes. “I just wanted to know, Tristan. I wanted to know why we couldn’t come to the hill, why it was forbidden. I had to know if all the generations before us were liars.” He glanced around him at his new dead kingdom. Life was empty. The lack of sunlight kept a constant chill, there was no fruit, or streams or birds. Noise was at a minimum, and the only sustenance to be gained was from large, grotesque insects or from the likes of Ankhan’s current feast – other curious animals like him who ventured into the dark unknown, bound never to return.

“I wish you could come back. We still miss you. We still think about you.”

“Is that why you came here Tristan? To see if I was still alive? Or dead? You can tell the herd, I’m neither.”

A breeze, that bypassed the darkness of Ankhan’s new home, caused Tristan’s snowy tale to flutter. “I..I didn’t come looking for you Ankhan. I was bored of grazing in the same valley.”

Ankhan offered an angry snort. “Don’t get too bored back there, or you’ll end up like me.”

Tristan avoided meeting his glance and looked around himself. He spotted something on the ground, and held it with his mouth for Ankhan to see. An apple, filled with a juice and flavor Ankhan knew of only in memory now. Tristan noticed Ankhan’s hungry stare, and threw the apple up the hill to the dark unicorn’s feet. When it hit the ground, it rotted within seconds, and soon was nothing but ash.

Tristan kicked the dust in front of him in defiance. Ankhan wanted to laugh, but couldn’t quite remember how. “Don’t fret my friend. This is my life now.”

“And there’s nothing I can offer you?”

Ankhan’s limbs struggled to return his body to the upright state. “You can still be my friend. Can’t you Tristan?”

Tristan heard the distant stampede of his brothers and sisters returning from their morning visit to the lake. “Of course, Ankhan.” He turned to follow them, paused and looked back. Ankhan had the realization that he had never seen such nobility. “I shall see you tomorrow.” Tristan galloped down the hill to the warm air and verdant grass. Ankhan witnessed him for as long as his sight would allow, and then returned to digesting the sinewy meal, wondering how long it would be before his next.

My Spider Cars Story

It’s been far too long since I’ve written a short story. So, here’s one. I was inspired at the start of the month by popular science/pop culture site i09 and their weekly Concept Art Writing Prompt features. They choose a cool pic and encourage site readers to create a story based on the image. My entry needs some editing but I wrote it in about 20 minutes.

Below is the story, and original pic, and here’s the post from 109.

“They’re not beetles though are they?”


“Look at the legs. They’re spiders. Obviously.”

“I was just trying to be funny. You know – VW Beetle, because they’re half car and half insect.”

“More like a third car, really.”

Davis rolled his blue eyes and sighed; a familiar response to his younger sister’s annoying habit of never laughing at his witty observations.

Molly was a genius though, and despite being a typical pre-pubescent girl in some ways, she was more like Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking in many more. Underneath her freckles and pigtails was a brain that defied expectations. She purposely wore pink dresses and shirts with unicorns and rainbows on them to surprise people. She loved being the smartest person in the world, even more than she loved her hippy parents on the commune. Molly figured that she was either adopted, or a freak of nature; more a product of a daring genetic experiment than two unschooled hicks from the American backwoods.

“Here will do,” ordered Molly in her usual fashion.

Davis stopped peddling his rusty bike by the side of the only road to their sprawling farm complex and scratched his scrawny legs. Molly hopped out of the large basket on the front.

“They’ve stopped.”

“Of course they have Davis. They’re hungry.”

Davis took off his NY Mets baseball cap and ran his hand through his messy hair, looking around the silent brown and greens of their environment. “But there’s nothing here. They’ve eaten all the cows,” he said. “What else can we give them? Everyone at home already hates you for taking away most of their food.”

“That won’t be a problem for much longer Davis.”

Davis squinted and looked into her sister’s eyes, oblivious to the harsh calculations being made behind them.

“I don’t know why you made them like animals anyway. You should’ve just left them as sculptures or something,” moaned Davis.

“It was an accident. Sort of. A happy accident,” replied Molly with a feint yet crooked smile.

The so-called accident that created the pair of automobile monstrosities was a success in Molly’s eyes. After experimenting with toy cars and parts from a dishwasher, she found she was able to create life with parts of abandoned military hardware from the recently destroyed army bunker just outside of town. Finding two abandoned Volkswagens in Mr. Harris’ field, her and Davis dragged the struts of a fallen water tower, for the arachnids’ appendages.

As the two mechanical monsters lumbered towards the siblings, Davis noticed they were increasing their speed.


“What is?” Molly asked with a knowing grin.

“Usually they stop when they see us. I thought they were scared of us.”

Davis looked behind him, awaiting Molly’s response, but she was at the bike, taking something from the basket.

“They’re changing, Davis,” Molly said as she walked towards him, carrying something heavy behind her.

Davis turned to look at the moving beasts. “Huh. Cool.”

“Indeed,” replied Molly as she put her hand on her brother’s shoulder and raised the greasy wrench as high as she could.

“Cool.” Molly brought down the grey weapon on to her brother’s skull three times, with increasing force. Davis collapsed, face first in to the bitumen, as his blood mingled with the grass.

Molly took a few steps back as the cars paused.

“Lunch time,” she said, fully aware that her creations couldn’t understand her. “See you tomorrow.”

New Marvel: Season One OGNs

Marvel have surprisingly announced 3 more Original Graphic Novels as part of next year’s newbie friendly Season One series of complete comic stories. Judging by the covers, the costumes look the same, but perhaps they’ll change in the course of the tale. I’m most excited by Dr. Strange, as Emma Rios is a great artist.

Introducing The All-New MARVEL: SEASON ONE Graphic Novels!

Marvel: Season One, a line of all-new graphic novels, just got bigger as Marvel is pleased to add three titles to the highly anticipated line-up with Ant-Man: Season One, Hulk: Season One & Doctor Strange: Season One! These all-new complete stories offer fans a chance to immerse themselves in the Marvel Universe like never before. Journey into the unknown with Ant-Man, learn about the mystic arts with Doctor Strange and find out how Hulk balances humanity and monstrosity as each of these graphic novels offer new revelations for long-time fans and give new readers a fresh introduction to the character. With modern retellings of the world’s greatest super heroes seminal origins by some of the most critically acclaimed creators in the business, no fan can miss this! Each of these graphic novels also include a code to download each book for free, via the Marvel Comics app, making them must haves for every fan.

“As a result of the great response from fans and retailers, we realized we couldn’t just stop with one wave of titles” said David Gabriel, Marvel SVP of Sales. “We’re showing our continued support for this line by insuring that fans have a reason to come back into comic shops month after month to get the next volumes in the Season One line of original graphic novels.”

The complete second wave of Season One graphic novels includes:

·         Ant-Man: Season One by Tom DeFalco (Spider-Girl) and Horacio Domingues (Incorruptible), on-sale in July 2012

·         Hulk: Season One by Fred Van Lente (Alpha Flight, Herc) and Tom Fowler (Venom), on-sale in August 2012

·         Doctor Strange: Season One by Greg Pak (Astonishing X-Men, Red Skull: Incarnate) and Emma Rios (Osborn, Spider-Island: Cloak & Dagger), on-sale in September 2012

Whether you’re picking up a comic for the first time, or looking to add more to your comics reading experience, then it’s time to discover the world’s greatest super heroes all over again in Marvel: Season One!



Three Short Stories

It’s been ages since I’ve done any creative writing, But when I was at Uni a few years ago, I was quite productive. I though I might as well start uploading them, so here’s 3 of my short stories (in a rare serious tone) as part of a Creative Writing sampler.

“His World”

His was a dark world. Devoid of all the good things that gentlemen and educated women often discussed.

No friends. Nor family meetings. Only whatever social contact was necessary to achieve the task.

Few could live this way. Few have.

A predator amongst men. Anything with breath; a potential target. As long as they breathed evil. He would have no part in erasing good. It was a rarity in his experience. Something to be valued, protected. A smile to a stranger. A tip for an earnest waiter. These were valid attempts. He went further. He fought the encroaching evil. RO 12:9 “Cling to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” The book of Romans. Chapter 12. Verse 9. His only distinguishable feature. A seemingly insignificant tattoo on his right palm. His gun hand. His motivation, his mantra. To be etched on his tombstone , if he were allowed one. No matter. Recognition was a weakness. It was necessary neither in death nor life. Invisibility was perhaps his greatest ally.

“The Rebel”

He made his mark alone on the wall he’d spied on for quite some time. How many people passed this wall? How many minds ready for rebellion? It surprised him that no-one had exploited this brick canvas before. Or, maybe someone had. The cops quelled any anti-United Earth sentiment with brutal efficiency. He wanted to take the chance. That’s why he came here. These streets offered some cover at nightfall, but the feeling of the city remained the same during waking hours. It wasn’t what it used to be. It was far worse, and not because of the constant patrols and intrusive surveillance. Big Brother was semi-welcome here. The people were desperate for peace. But now that they had it, they questioned its price. Not publicly of course. The facade could never be questioned. One doubtful, fearful voice could quite possibly ensnare others. Then where would it end? Everyone knew the city could easily revert to what it once was. An ugly place. A mass of hate and danger. Humanity was at a loss here.

“Emily Ross”

Emily Ross is 9 years old. She had a party planned. All her friends from school and netball were going to be there. At least her 8th birthday was fun.

Here, the nurses were nice. Her Mum bought her dinner each night. Spaghetti. Her Mum always made the best spaghetti.

Strangely, she did miss school. Not the homework, but Miss Fanelli, her Italian teacher. And playing at lunch-time.

She could sit up and watch netball on TV though.

Whenever she had visitors from school, she put her wig back on. It was itchy, but she felt weird without out. Emily Ross likes netball, and spaghetti, and Italian.

Emily Ross was 9 years old.


Kids Love Silverline!

Or they will, after these two OGNs, which debut in August. We’re at a good time at the moment, where publishers recognise the need for quality all-ages comics. BOOM! is doing well with their Disney books, and Archaia’s recent partnership with the Jim Henson company means Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock and Labyrinth comics are on the way too. Silverline is an imprint of Image Comics and has been putting out good, high quality kid’s books for a while now, such as the excellent Dear Dracula. These two new books look as intriguing as their titles claim them to be. Press release below.



Silverline Books expands line of children’s graphic novels with THE LAVA IS A FLOOR and TIMOTHY & THE TRANSGALACTIC TOWEL!

This August Silverline Books, the children’s graphic novel imprint from Image Comics, debuts two all-new titles showcasing the human side of two very fantastic situations, THE LAVA IS A FLOOR by writer Justin Shady with artist Jeremy R. Scott and TIMOTHY & THE TRANSGALACTIC TOWEL by writer Michael Bullock with artist Michael Metcalf!

“I was immediately impressed with the way THE LAVA IS A FLOOR and TIMOTHY & THE TRANSGALACTIC TOWEL both appeal to a child’s sense of humor, while the vivid imagery captures the imaginations of new and reluctant readers alike, ” Silverline Publisher Jim Valentino said. “Both books give unique twists on the everyday experiences of children, making them enjoyable for both kids and their parents.”

Silverline Books continues its tradition of bridging the gap between comics and children’s story books for a new generation of fans with THE LAVA IS A FLOOR and TIMOTHY AND THE TRANSGALACTIC TOWEL.  THE LAVA IS A FLOOR is the story of a brother and sister troubled by a typical childhood dillema; they’re bored.  Although these are not your typical sibling duothey’re monsters living in the crater of a volcano!  Using their imaginations they pretend to be the strangest creatures they can think of: humans!  In TIMOTHY AND THE TRANSGALACTIC TOWEL, a young boy named Timothy soon finds out that with a seemingly normal beach towel he can transport himself to other worlds and times, including into the midst of an inter-galactic war! 

THE LAVA IS A FLOOR (JUN090325), a 32-page full color hard cover book for $12.99, will be in stores August 5, 2009. TIMOTHY AND THE TRANSGALACTIC TOWEL (JUN090327), a 112-page full color book $16.99, will be in stores August 26, 2009. For more information please see http://www.silverlinebooks.com.

The Lava is a Floor

Timothy and the Transgalactic Towel