Summer Heat – Haibun – (CWPS: #1)

It was that horrible time of year again, during mid July. Apparently it is the hottest Summer we’ve had for years. I can’t stand this heat, I never have, there’s just no end to it. Its relentless. Where ever you go, what ever you do, its there…haunting you; its like some poltergeist that’s hell bent on scaring you out of your skin, only in this case sweating. I much prefer being too cold and having the option to wrap up than being unable to escape the unrelenting ambient warmth that can’t be quelled even with the strongest of electronic fans.

Everything was ok up until last week, we could just about manage. We had this rather decent air conditioner, pumping that ice cold relief into our home; it precariously sat perched on the window sill. That sweet chilled air was such a welcomed break from the relentlessness of Summers worst boon. Alas, it packed up. Now we are here, sticking to the furniture like insects cemented to fly paper, trying to forget the sweltering heat that we have been enveloped in, that is making us feel so lethargic and bored. We can’t even afford a new one because dad needed new tyres on his car and the vet bill from our poor cat has hampered any hope for a new one. I do hope this heat will relent before we all melt like poor snowmen on a beach.

A heat that won’t quit
No escape from the fever
The Sun’s blaze baths all

Prompt: #1 – 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts for Seasons –  Bryan Cohen © 2012

Laura Steel © 2015

Diary of a Mastermind – Part One – Ambitious Dream – Haibun

I’m just so sick of it all, those fucking cretins have it coming. All of ‘em. I’ll have to do something resolute, oh I don’t know, something drastic I think. Create a virus that becomes a worldwide pandemic, concoct a acidic poison that melts the flesh or wage a war that brings utter destruction. They will know the meaning of the word “suffering”, they will know my resolve of a new world order. I’ll usher in the new age of my will and it will be glorious!

Oh, but where to start? I have no money for this endeavour, no capital to release of it’s equity. I will have to start somewhere, somewhere small. Meagre purses and wallets are too small and banks are just too large…for now; and what of the security? I will need an army; minions to do my bidding, henchmen to sweep the land and patsies to take the fall. The mindless masses will have to be subverted, but how?

So much to do and so little time. I’m going to need a token of my strength, a way of marking my supreme intelligence, what I need is a symbol; something for all those mindless idiots to look to, all under the guise of more prosperous and better life.

Promises, promises, *manic laugh*.

Burning rage ignites
A plan is set in motion
Mindless cogs turn gears

Next: Diary of a Mastermind – Part Two – Initial Setup – Haibun

Laura Steel © 2015

Starbound – Left adrift (1) – Haibun

The first thing I remember, was waking up on my side. The intense chest pain, a head ache, lungs polluted with smoky fumes plagued me. An irritatingly loud alarm ringed through my ears; indicating something surely was wrong. Debris was everywhere and I had no idea where I was. In a obviously dire condition to do anything, I knew I had to try and put it all together as best I could. Getting up was hard, lugging up my near corpse, I struggled to balance against the wall. Noticing the porthole, I realised the black abyss revealed on the other side was in fact the vastnesses of space. I rested my bloodied forehead on the scratched cracked glass and I could see through it a planet of magnificent purple landmass and vibrant green seas. I knew it was not my home planet nor did I know of the place I had originated from.

A console with a pulsing bright light drew me towards it. Mesmerized, I hoped it would provide answers. I tapped the screen and it illuminated me with the flicker of a digitized face; a rather ambiguous face at that. The artificial intelligence wished to assist me, it explained; it too had no intention of dying either. After a brief introduction and reorientation I had to assume the A.I. was helping; the alternative being left adrift and wandering space aimlessly. I geared up with any supplies I thought useful and managed to the teleporter pad. I took a deep breath as apprehension took hold. I hesitated to initiate the process, while fully unaware of what waited on the planet below…

Among the bright stars
Adventure awaits the brave
Warp through the unknown

Laura Steel © 2015

Summer Break – Haibun

Yet another summer break from school and my parents had already decided where we would go for our little trip out. We all went to the aquarium of all places, it was quite the journey even with the motorway, I had never been before so I was quite excited. We spent the whole day there, from early in the morning till late afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day as well and the park’s decorations of fibreglass fish, rocks, fake coral and painted wooden signs were just as bright as the tropical fish.

I had ran off slightly, ignoring my mothers repeated pleas, I wanted to see it all; not missing any of the species of aquatic life housed there. I could hear my parents speaking in the background, even while I ran round trying race round. I thought it was a little weird the way they were doing it though, they were really loud at times and as red as the lobsters; like the ones I saw earlier. I noticed other people were looking at them funny but I just went back to my staring brightly eyed into each tank.

I used loved those days we all spent as a family, from time to time I reflect in a wild fit of nostalgia. How things have changed now.

Splendid fishy school
Lying brightly in the sun
Nay, are they not dead?


Laura Steel ©2015

The Shadowhunter – Winterbound Training

The thick blanket of snow from that evenings fall had yet to settle on the land of Terumbra, the woodland trees and snowfall left the visibility too low to make any sense of direction. Cold, hungry and tired, the young Laurena was out traversing the woodland, under the wing of her Shadowhunter mentor Methias. She didn’t really know why they were out there, she didn’t really trust him, but the young recruit was to be trained on how to be quiet; a vital skill for their trade.

Today the rather novice Laurena could only hear her own footsteps, crunching under the think white blanket, they were so numb she could barely feel her toes. Frustration would have to wait while she learned to copy Methias in his stealth approach, through the twisted black bark and bare intertwining extremities; reaching out like wooden claws, wondering how his footsteps were so silent as his breathing.

“How long will we be out here?” asked Laurena impatiently, rubbing her crossed arms in a vague attempt to keep warm. Methias slowly cocked his head to the side.

“As long it takes…and lower your voice.” his stern reply just barely audible through his cloak’s hood. “..and ease the weight on your feet slowly…control your breathing…in and out the nose.”

Laurena tried her best to mimic her mentor’s movements, but it was in vain…then Methias shot his hand skywards.

“…Hold it!” he whispered. Both ducked down lower until they were almost buried under the snow.

“…what is it?” Laurena replied mimicking his level of voice, startled by his abruptness.

“…we’re not alone…don’t move!” He tried to explain as fast and quietly as he could. The falling snow added to their camouflage.

Through the trees was a vaguely visible shape. A large creature, much larger than anticipated, emerged, carving a path through the snow with its large paws. It’s furry hide swiftly shifted in colour to unmatch it’s surroundings. It rose it’s shallow feline head into the air and took several deep breaths in. It smelt something!

Laurena’s heart was pounding, even it didn’t smell the two of them, she was sure it would hear her heart’s thumping echo inside her chest. She covered her mouth with both of her frozen gloved hands, swiftly blocking the steamy breathing being expelled rapidly in and out. Her eyes narrowed and fixated on the beast, watching so intently, beyond the falling snowflakes than canvassed her eyes. Her feet remained firmly still, if the the fear didn’t cause it, common sense would prevent her fleeing. She was too afraid to do anything else.

After a few terrifying moments the beast gave up, gave a strong snort as if out of frustration. It’s hide shifted back into the white landscape, into obscurity, wandering off through the woodland bored from it’s failed hunt. Methias knew they were downwind from the beast and the wind and snow were too heavy for it too pick up their scent, something he didn’t tell his apprentice.

“Heh heh…that was fun wasn’t it!” lightly chuckled Methias, as he looked back upon his young petrified apprentice.

Laurena gazed upon him with a mixture of disbelief and anger. It was the first time in the five years since she started her training she had heard him laugh. She certainly didn’t expect him to lead them both into danger.

“Not many get to see a Ferapex and live”. He cocked a sidewards smile. “Comeon…we should head back.” Methias started walking towards Umbran, seemingly without the aid of stars or compass, but Laurena understood he knew the way. She knew she could trust him, albeit uneasily, and today proved why.


Laura Steel © 2014

A letter to my dearest

25th October 1915

If this letter is found by another, please see to it that my Elaine receives it…

My dearest Elaine S.,

  I know not if this will reach you but I hope in high heaven that it does. I long for your letters.

  I just wanted you to know that while I am in the grace of His Majesty’s service I do so with high esteem despite what we are up against. Our training was rather quick but given the circumstance we are told it will do. The boys I am with are some of the finest men I have had the fortune to know, save one, but in that I will not divulge into it further.

  For nearly three days now we have had to dig in, my back is not as strong as others, evident as the ache is starting to kick in. Most days we are digging, revetting the sides and standing to, some of the younger lads have picked up the slack, while me and the older boys keep watch. It’s next to impossible when it is dark, but it’s the safest way to get any work done. It fills almost pointless when the rain caused one of the sides to collapse yesterday, so many hours were wasted. Our section is newer, so some of the sappers are still setting up right behind us. Beyond all that and the constant cleaning of my gun, its the boredom of just sitting around while waiting for new orders that’s keeping most of on edge. One of the lads who did have a pack of cards dropped the bloody things in six inch high puddle this morning and ruined them, he’s written home asking for more but it’s likely to be weeks before we see them. I am only left with my thoughts of you and the fun we used to have to keep the dullness away.

  Like my fellows beside me, I have developed bout of trench foot, which I have the most unfortunate luck deal with. It is not as bad as others, but a keen eye and a medic’s touch will see it better. The worst thing is the damn lice, if it’s not the lack of comfort from the cold and wet, its the bloody itching. We have to steam the cloths to help kill the plagues of the little bastards, but they always find a way to antagonise us. It is not so bad during the day while we work, but trying to get any sleep is next to impossible. The echoing sounds of shells and bullets only add to my restlessness, next doors dog barking trifles in comparison. I would do anything just to lie next to you one more time.

  I doubt I will have a further chance to write you again any time soon, as we will be proceeding further to our next objective soon. The outcome will be left to our superiors and our lives in the hand of our creator. I pray every time we have to stand to at the front, if not for myself but my brothers besides me, and for you my precious angel.

  Finally, I want you to know that you are to me the best of women. For that I will be eternally grateful and for the time we have spent together. I long for the day that you and I are reunited. That and your delicious cooking, the thought of it warms my heart so. Thank you for the smokes too, I received them the other day. A much welcomed relief and certainly an improvement from the ambient smells we have to endure. Please send my love to everyone at home for their gifts too, they have brightened my days up no end.

Yours forever,

A. Sgt
Charles D. S.

P.s – I know that it may be too much to ask but could you please look after my mother from time to time. I know she will worry and I cannot bare the thought of her in such a state. We did not leave under the best of circumstances, as you may know, and I regret that I may not get to tell her I am sorry.

Laura Steel © 2014

The Towers

I guess I might as well keep writing this, screw Andrew, I like keeping a diary and it’s not childish.

  No one knows why it really happened, they just landed, the towers crashed all over the planet. They stand I guess…twenty stories high, have brushed metal towers and bevelled square edges and random panelled faces; one I saw had a ramp which lead up to what looked like a door of some kind. They landed pretty much anywhere from the countryside to the middle of cities. Even on peoples houses while they slept; quite lucky if you ask me compared to what the rest of us had to deal with. They completely rooted themselves into the ground with huge four corned opposable leg-like appendages that looked metallic and to a point, they dug into the ground as stabling foundations. We heard on the car radio that the government and was heavily criticised and it wasn’t as if they could have done much, the pot shots the military took barely scratched the paintwork, as the reporter desperately described, this is before “they” appeared…

  Its been only a week after the towers appeared, the undead…or what ever they were meant to be, they looked half-human at least or they wore our faces as some sort of sick joke. Bloodied with limbs missing – from what I don’t know…others like them? Hungry and twitching like they had an itch they couldn’t scratch. They are apparently roaming the country; possibly the world, with a relentless sluggish haste, adding to their own as they did, they were seemingly unstoppable. The military were just overwhelmed and the police were a joke…now they’re “something”…else.

  I guess me and my friends were lucky, having been out with a group of us on a road trip. All eight of us stayed out camping in a woods, though it wasn’t my idea as I kinda hate camping. I had only gone because of Charlotte, but she didn’t take notice of my rather nervous advances, even though we were the only singles going…it doesn’t matter now.

  We returned to Reading hoping to find our families but we only found these towers and undead. We drove through most to get home though we did have a few close calls. We stopped for food at a local corner store thinking it would be safer than a supermarket. I knew Shaun was bit, he kept clutching his ankle and was sweating despite the car’s AC being on. I discretely mentioned it to the others when we went for fuel…so we left him…at the garage. Clare won’t stop crying, but she knew just was well as we all did that he would have turned on us if we hadn’t – I hope who ever reads this will understand that…oh god the guilt makes me sick.

  An hour ago we started to make our way to one of the towers. A few other survivors had passed us with knowledge that apparently these towers are not the cause of the undead, but were instead shelters. They had opened up but those few who had braved their contents were never seen of again. Alex didn’t come with us, he said it would be stupid to follow these rumours suggesting instead we should be heading as far away as possible, back into the countryside away from everyone. I don’t know, I just wanted us to stay together, so I stuck with the rest of us who wanted to stay and find others. His wife Lisa left with him, she just found out she was pregnant, so I guess they didn’t want to risk it.

  We reached the closest tower we could see from the horizon. We had to take a few detours to avoid a few mass gathering of those things. When we got it we could see what it had landed on. In between two house’s gardens, both buildings were sheared in half, rooms were left bare; destroyed along with any furniture or possessions those people had. I could see that one of the rooms had brightly coloured, cartoon wallpaper. I really hope it was empty at the time. The tower’s roots had crushed another two houses and cut of an entire road either side. We could see the ramped entrance; wide open and somewhat inviting.

  We could just see inside but it was bright, brighter than the dwindling sunlight. A greyish mist was pouring out continuously from some vents, hazing over the lights, blurring what we couldn’t see inside from a distance. We drove the car up as close as possible and walked up to the ramp peering inside cautiously. We only had the option of going in at this point, a few undead had built up behind us and we were in no position to fend them off. We all climbed inside before they could reach us and stood in the middle of what looked like an elevator. There was a panel with what looked like a button; it was panicky pressed by Andrew’s girlfriend Yvette, before those things got close and it activated – She was so gorgeous but a bit dull. It raised us up into a bright light, I don’t know what I was more afraid of, the creatures outside or what awaited us inside…

  I don’t know how long it has been, there is nothing to say what time it is, it feels like weeks. I’m all alone here. Andrew and Yvette aren’t with me, I have no idea where they are. I’m just in a small room; horizontal panels of sterilised white are around me, smooth polished floor and ceiling; which had a bright light that I strained to look at. I’m sat on what would constitute a bed; it’s soft enough. There’s a metallic toilet protruding out the wall – at least that’s what I’ve used it as, and there’s that machine on the wall that produces glassed water and food; it like a paste of bland chicken – I’d kill for pasta bolognese. What am I meant to do here? Is this a safe haven or a prisonn…ugh…stuppid pen…seems to be runnning out… i I love e …you…mu mum and dd dad and Andrew. I missss you…soo.. m much!…

Laura Steel © 2014

The Wicked Wisp

On the most devilish of nights, in the darkest reaches of Impium wood, an unholy grove exists. Rumours are foul of it’s inhabitant. Fouler still? The smell; rotten, musky, with just a little bit of mould.

Haunted by non other than the Wicked Wisp of Impius; unspoken by the locals. Tales tell of a spirit most horrid, named of a place so dreadful such as this. Radiator of that oh so sickly orange aura. It’s wickedness, told by drunken truth and basked in sobered doubt. 

It’s cheeky grin and evil emanating eyes are the first and last to be seen by those curious looking fools. Distance of miles nor dodging of trees will not save those foolish enough to enter it’s realm; the twisted woods both dead and undying. The eater of lost souls, the devourer of bone, knows where you roam.

You may have heard of it’s charm, that sweet childlike laughter, but do not be fooled it’s not there for games.

No sword can fend it off. No shield or armour can save your hide. No magic can disperse it’s malevolence.

Reader please beware!
This is your only warning!
Do not proceed on!


Laura Steel © 2014


The Ex-Communicated Champion (Part 2) – The Hagiren’s Call

Having walked for days, the far reaching plains had turned into rockier hills. The grass was thinner and the ground was steeper. Aryron hesitated. His ears picked up on something strange, it was the sweetest of sounds. It was hard to determine what it was, it sounded like the gentlest of voices from a most angelic seraphim. He looked towards the darkened cave to his right. Focusing on the entrance, the ringing melody in the air grew louder, this is where it was coming from.

He entered the cave with very little concern. The sound echoed through the jagged mossy walls. Navigating through the twists and turns, stepping over outcrops of rock that would have tripped him or almost slipping on the dusty gravel that poked through his thin leather shoes. 

The cave opened out into a sunlit cavern, it was a hidden oasis of beauty. The roof was open and a ray of brilliant Sol light cascaded down into a column. It bathed a magnificent tree; full of the most vivid pink blossom, which rained its petals in a haze, from it’s base and grew towards the opening of the ceiling above. Through out chamber there was thick grass and flowers of the most vibrant of colours and shapes.

Under the tree sat the most beautiful of creatures. Her flowing gown flowed with the air. Ayron walked closer, his heart was now tethered and was being pulled ever closer. He knelt before her, trying to see beyond the weave of golden shiny hair.

As he reached out too uncover her face, she stopped. The seemingly fragile face turned; radiant blue eyes turned raging blood red, perfect porcelain smile into a toxic razor maw, soft smooth skin into grey wrinkled leather.

She screamed with an ugly high pitch and with her dirtied claws reached for his face – She pounced! 

Without thinking, Aryon took hold of the nearest branch by his feet and lodged into the beasts neck. 

The sweet echo was reduced to a gargled moan as it slumped across the tree’s roots. Shaking his head he had realised what he had done, the deathly error that almost was. Around him the deception faded. The green grass wilted, the flowers had dried to dust and the tree was but a mouldy husk of a stump. The branch was a femur of a past victim now dripping purple and reeking worse than death. Hagirens were not known to inhabit these parts, atleast to Ayron’s knowledge, but here one lay motionless. 

Ayron came full to his senses looking around to see the previous victims of the Hagiren’s call. Stepping over their remains both new and grayed, all gnawed clean, crunching under foot. He walked back out in a daze. Outside the cave that was nearly his tomb, he collapsed against the rocks, he sighed and cleansed his sweaty face with his bare palm. Having learnt his lesson, he looked skywards and thanked the divines for their aid, gratefully continuing to walk on.


Laura Steel © 2014

The Shadowhunter – A sleepless stormy night

With no curtain to draw and sat alone, Laurena stared blankly out of her bedroom’s only four pained portal. Buffeted by wind and rain, the rapid pitting and rattle flooded the room. The clear barrier was the only defence against the elements.

It was only to be made worse with the flash preceding rumbles. In the distance an approaching monster roared. Her eyes took notice of the periodical bursts of light and sound, They grew louder and loader as the minutes pasted. Laurena’s ears peaked at the impending monster; it’s rapid flashes and booming roars…the beast was getting closer and closer and closer.

Staring drearily at the streets below through her heavy eyes, there was always life in the late hours in Umbran. The light from the setting Sol would not wane the citizens from their duties nor the ability to carry out tasks. The shambling Bone-servants were also carrying various sized crates and barrels, autonomously done, so fearlessly due to lack of emotions. Just pale drones following magik orders. Their ossein feet slushed through the muddied cobble. The patting sound of cartilage was easily drowned out by the rain and the accustomed ears of the cities residence.

The creeping demon was coming and his rolling body blanketed the sky with it’s dark purple hues, lit up with the jagged streaks of forking bolts, swiping it’s claws across the blackened overcast sky.

Lightning storms were not uncommon for these lands but in the mid-year month of Ignary the storms raged more aggressively. The hottest month of the year and the region around Umbran where the perfect combination for the destructive randomness to strike furiously across the horizon.

Closer the strikes became. The booming sound rattled the glass that Laurena’s head caressed to cool from the stuffy midnight air. Quietly contemplating in a dreamy state about past regrets and desires that would always go unfulfilled.

Suddenly just a few streets away a bolt struck the top of a house and it exploded with an massive burst of fiery debris. Feint agitated screams of the unexpected rang around the neighbourhood along with the feint hint of children’s shaky crying.

Laurena’s heart pumped an unwanted amount of adrenaline through her veins and her eyes sprung open to bear witness to the destruction of wood and slate tiles. The beast had claimed a victim, it’s claw had gouged out a chunk of roof top. The harsh rain fortunately quelled any fire but not enough to suppress the smouldering supports, randomly spewing sparse embers, that once existed where a gaping wound was now present.

After the excitement subsided Laurena quickly grew tired of the boredom she was forced too returned to. She slumped her head back down on her pillow to stare at her own ceiling’s wooden beams. The storm had still not passed but was fading. Satisfied in it’s hunt.

It would take hours of frustrated turning and apathy, before she…finally…drifted…into…a…



Laura Steel © 2014