's 2019 Horror Write-off:

Temple Thief

Submitted by Shakara

 The explorer pauses. Is that a mere illusion? No… It is real! There it is, at the top of the altar. The glittering golden vase. The shining bounty!

How long had she walked, skulking the ancient contours of the dark temple, shunned by all human life? Her feet and back ached from creeping stealthily through the black halls.

“Oh, victory will taste so sweet!”

She snaps her mouth shut, afraid that The Temple Guard had heard her. 

A truly awful thing to behold, it was. A golem. Not a real life, it was tall and hulking, built of stone and hatred… Such was the ways of the Xialia tribe. Jealously guarding treasures unto death and undeath.

Reaching out her hands, she sneaks forth to the vase, illuminated by ancient lanterns. Gilded and magnificent, it contained life-giving nectar, able to revive even the most sluggish and lethargic of the sick. Perhaps even resurrect the dead. A powerful brew, made by the very gods themselves! Truly, a wondrous thing!

The desert sands had parched her throat, rougher than the plateau stones. The days of wandering in the wasteland, the fruitless hunting, escaping the rogue tribes of cannibals… All for this! This moment!

Barely had her fingertips grazed the cold nacreous shell, a roar sounded out.

Caught! She felt the presence long before ever seeing it. No need to look at the stretching shadow, she knew it was here.

The golem… Turning around, potion clutched to her tightening chest, she fixed eyes with the abomination. A tall, barrel-chested thing, its head bowed between rotund shoulders and hefty armours. How much metal did it wear, stolen from the corpses of prior adventurers?

“INTRUDER…” It intones, a voice worn with age and dust. Even centuries past, the spell its masters cast upon it still held firm. Ages seem to pass as its unblinking obsidian eyes bore into her own.

Before she finds herself under its fist, she runs. Sprinting, tiles clicking under her whipping footsteps, she speeds to the exit. A second roar, louder and harsher. It rattles in the caverns of her heart. She can barely suppress her own scream.

The monolithic fist buries itself into the ground, a shockwave emanating through the ruins.

No way in Hell she would surrender to it! She had the potion! She would soon face the armies of Hell than drop it! It was hers and hers alone!

“RETURN THE ELIXIR!” Such a mighty bellow would make God himself void his bowels.

It chases her, rocky feet cracking the floor, each footfall a drumbeat of encroaching death.

She’d always thought herself strong, fuelled by the burning passion of her heart. Alas, she was not invincible. The golem didn’t need sleep. Didn’t need food. Didn't need mercy.

A single raised tile, she goes careening to the floor. Holding up the golden vase, relieved that it hadn’t spilled. Harpstrings of white-hot pain. Her foot- broken! No!

Twisting onto her back, she finds the golem bowed over her, its shadow falling onto her face like an eclipse, blocking the final shred of light she would ever see---




“Damn it, Carlie! I told you, stay out of my fridge!” Bethan hoists the bottle of orange crush out of the small girl’s trembling hands.

“How many times do I have to say it? The sodas are mine. If you’re thirsty, then just drink the juice I got you.” The teen points to the small cartons of red and green.

“But I prefer soda!”

Bethan sighs, massive shoulders lowering.

“And you’re not allowed sugary things. Remember, you’re barred for a month? You broke grandma’s favourite flower pot.”

“I didn’t mean to.” Carlie looks to the ground and ponders away. “The juice doesn’t even taste good…”

“Fine, fine.” Bethan closes the fridge. “I’ll get you some sugar-free milkshakes.”

“Could I have strawberry?”