Barefoot Poetry

SS Matthews

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Satan Never Sleeps (Prologue)


Ending her shift at the Extended Stay on Bay View, Sylvia Sanchez took the same shortcut home as she did most nights. Though generally safe, Madison Park bordered the bay bridge, a known haven for transients and sometime hideaway for more unsavory types. In an effort to avoid attracting muggers she didn’t normally carry a handbag, keeping instead a can of pepper spray ready in her hand.

The shortcut she used was a concrete sidewalk that scrolled amidst a maze of hedges and was, for the most part, adequately lit by periodic street lamps. In seven months of nightly walks she’d been accosted only once and on that occasion the would-be thief had retreated after a brief but decisive confrontation.

Being wise in the old ways, Sylvia’s mother had provided her only daughter with a superstitious upbringing. Into adulthood Sylvia continued to maintain a firm belief regarding the supernatural authority of a full moon. She did not doubt that such an event possessed the power to induce abnormal changes in certain lost souls, especially those who sought to petition its guidance. Therefore, on those nights falling just before, during and just after a full moon, she would forego the shortcut.

The alternate route took her along 2nd Street. It took her twice as long to traverse and the fact that many of its shops stayed open late didn’t really make it any safer. 2nd Street served as a regular hangout for those trafficking in unlawful enterprises. Tonight however, a collapsing storm drain at the 2nd Street intersection with Riverside had caused a blockade to be created while repairs were made. With the street and its sidewalks in upheaval, Sylvia was forced to chance the moonlit walk through Madison Park.

Although the evening seemed otherwise ordinary, twice while she was walking the can of pepper spray slipped from sweaty fingers to clatter on the concrete. Nearing the halfway point along the serpentine pathway, Sylvia noticed a sudden change in the feel of the night around her. As the light breeze at her back became still, a hush fell over the surrounding area, silencing even the chirping of the ever-present crickets and cicadas. In the eerie silence, the sound of her own footsteps and anxious breathing seemed magnified out of proportion. Even her pulse seemed to have a distinct volume as it quickened to keep cadence with the strident clapping of her simple black flats.

Although the lighting along this particular stretch of sidewalk was rather poor, Sylvia found the details of her surroundings focused into a clarity that was unusually sharp. Not yet fully aware of the tension her body was experiencing, she bit nervously at her lower lip, drawing forth a drop of her own blood. Licking it away, she marveled at the bitter-sweet flavor and at how alive the liquid felt upon her tongue. With a sudden re-emergence of the sea-breeze, loose strands of her unbound hair to brush against her neck. Normally she enjoyed this tickling wind-play, but tonight, in her heightened state of awareness, the sensation was almost painful. Overall, in the last seconds of her life, Sylvia Sanchez experienced the world through her senses like she never had before.

Hastening her step, Sylvia peered nervously about and several times looked back over her shoulder. At this point she noticed there was another smell riding on that fateful breeze, a smell that was reminiscently canine. In her memory she could see the collie pup she’d gotten for her 7th birthday and how it would smell when sorely in need of a bath.

Certain now that she was no longer alone; Sylvia paused to see if she could pinpoint the source of her distress. There was little she could hear over the excited beating of her heart, but at the edge of her vision, she felt certain she saw some movement. Staring fixedly at a nearby hedge running to within yards of the sidewalk, she finally caught a glimpse of a tangible cause for panic. Something was stalking her.

Hunched and furred the animal vaguely resembled a large dog, but rising onto its hind legs to glare at her, Sylvia realized that it was not any hound born in the everyday world. Seeing its eyes, red-rimmed and glowing through a mottling of leaves and shadow, Sylvia had no doubt that this was a creature escaped from the supernatural realm of her mother’s teachings. The touch of that unearthly gaze felt tangibly hot, like embers against her skin and though utterly, frightfully alien, it was also compellingly hypnotic.

Spiraling into a dizzying abyss, Sylvia somehow found the strength to turn her face away. Kicking off the restriction of her shoes, she started to run. The sharp snap of a branch breaking behind her, followed immediately by a blood-chilling growl, further launched the woman’s rocketing panic towards climax.. Bounding along the concrete trail with the abandon of a doe before the wolf, Sylvia ran with a speed she never knew she possessed. Even so, she had no illusions that the creature stalking her was too fast to elude.

Hoping perhaps to discourage the beast, she lofted the can of pepper-spray leaving a trail of the irritant in her wake. Yet even over the rasping of her breath she could hear it, the sound as of a loping hound in undaunted pursuit. Realizing she would find no salvation in panic, in a last desperate act of defense, Sylvia Sanchez wheeled about to confront her attacker holding her sole weapon, the can of propellant in front of her. Directing the spray toward the animal’s glowing eyes, she began to scream.

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A Tavern on the Edge of Twilight

A Tavern on the Edge of Twilight

The outlander didn’t really look all that imposing, sitting there quietly watching the two girls dance. Yet the assumption he was a survivor of the Steppes was enough to justify caution, prompting Burk’s generosity in including his cohorts. He hadn’t yet met the man he couldn’t handle one on one, but an auspicious night such as this wasn’t the time for taking unnecessary risks.


Witch of the Grove (excerpt) Moon of Rowan Wolfe


Supernatural Lust: MLM Prompt

In the midst of a ritual, performing the whirling steps of an intricate dance, Mei Yue wove a glimmering trail as she moved. Clothed in a sprinkling of sparkling powders, moon glow and starlight; with arms out-flung she spun her way through the grass of the glade. Halting to arch her back and draw her hands together, she would press them forcefully into the air as her body swayed to the secret beat of celestial music. Singing sweet notes to the night, in impassioned vibrato of sensual need, her voice wove enchantments engaging the sky.

Resuming her previous rhythmical prance, she would pause to perform anew at each of the four points of power. South to West to North and to East, she divided the world into quarters; each time interrupting her spinning progression to repeat her posture and song.

Onward she twirled, her image seeming briefly to blur. Thinking the vision imagined Rowan struggled to keep her in focus. Wiping vestiges of sleep from his eyes changed nothing, for the dizzying effects of her shape-shifting spell grew only more pronounced.

Windless since dusk, no breeze contested the stillness of the night, but her hair now unbound, floated freely in the air, surrounding her silhouette in a web of moonlit strands. No longer did she masquerade as a petulant girl or peasant witch, she was a goddess beguiling the moon. Utterly evocative in her evanescent display, she was a creature that had never known taming. Wilder than winds that blow cross the Steppes, she was the core of the regenerative cycle.

Primal of essence in her pagan invocation, she was a temptress of feverish dreams. Fluidly, her movements would mesmerize as her voice commanded the attention of Luna’s glaring eye. Then, with unexpected brusqueness, her outline would crystallize in clarity.

Overall, her dance conformed to circular dimensions and upon returning to a point on its southernmost arc, she cried out in an exhilarated crescendo. Bound by her glamour, Rowan could only watch in fascination as she rose bodily up from the ground. As if held aloft by a host of invisible hands, with arms outstretched she floated upright from across the field.

For a moment he thought she might sail straight into his arms, but midway across her conjured ring, she sank and settled to her knees. Bathed in a beam of intense lunar light, all around her the circle grew radiant. Flinging moonward her arms in adoration, Mei-Yue seemed poised to fly towards its call as her image appeared to lengthen and stretch toward the sky. Caught in a dream from which he was loath to awaken, Rowan gazed as if bound by a spell.

Unsure of how long he’d been standing there, hypnotically held by the unfathomable performance, Rowan realized the moon hung much lower in the west. Within the magic circle, the moonlight grew dim and the witch who was Mei-Yue shrank back into the body of a wistful girl. Apparently unsuccessful in her endeavor, a whimper of dismay escaped as she rose slowly to her feet, but showing no further sign of disappointment, turning towards Rowan, she smiled. Extending her arms, palms upwards, she curled her wrists inward until her fingertips touched against her breasts. This was a summons not meant for resisting. Feeling the strange and weightless sensation that he too was floating, Rowan was drawn once more into her embrace.

Moon of Rowan Wolfe


Track of the Wolf

Anion had never attempted such an incantation before, but then she’d never felt so compelled to seek someone out. Setting the clay bowl into its makeshift cradle over the small fire, she let the combination of ingredients simmer. As the mixture began to bubble, she added the wolf’s blood and slowly began to stir the mess with a large crow’s feather. In all, it was an unappetizing looking, sour smelling glob of seeing herbs and fluids.

Deciding to follow her instincts, she didn’t really know how to define her rescuer. If he wasn’t a god, this spell should work be he a man, an animal, or a combination of the two. This grove would no longer serve her as a haven; that was clear. The magic was broken and it was time to leave. Traveling with a companion would be much safer than going it alone.

Thickening, the mixture began clinging to the feather. Determined to divine her rescuer’s whereabouts, Anion stripped the gum from the feather and began to chew.

“Bendigeidfran, Bran The Blessed, bless this, my incantation.

On your wings my vision soars above the Father Oak.
From my eyes you may not hide, ‘neath mantle, cowl nor cloak.
Blood of wolf, blood of man blend now with my own
Feel my blood flow into yours and be to me now known.”

Closing her eyes, the vision began and Anion found her consciousness in flight. With the eyes of a raven, she could see a hare bounding along the same path that only the night before she’d fled along in fear of the slavers. The marks of her desperate attempt to escape, still visible, led to a disturbed area of dried and blackened blood. The bodies of the three men were gone, but the ground surrounding that horror-stricken site bore yet the imprint of his tracks. They were truly the prints of a wolf, large and wild.

Unbelievable as it all had been, it was no dream. Two slavers the wolf had savaged with fang and claw. While their leader struggled with his fear, she’d gathered the sword he’d discarded to rape her. Putting the blade to use was an act she’d never have accomplished on her own. It was the presence of the wolf that’d helped her find the strength. Still, it wasn’t out of debt that she sought him. Strange an association as it might be, a connection was made. And there was this unfamiliar sensation, one that had crept into her blood and set it aflame. Driven by feelings she did not yet understand, Anion followed the trail of prints to the edge of the trees.


With the previous evening’s storm cleared away, the stallion grazed contentedly on the fresh green of an open field. Finding enough dry wood to light a fire, Rowan sat watching the smoke rise as his clothing dried by its heat. He knew he should move on, away from the girl and the carnage he’d wreaked on her behalf.

Still, something was causing him to hesitate. Vague as it was, the feeling over-powered the suspicion that getting involved would only bring further risk of exposure.

Being new to these Isles, he could maintain his anonymity, but that was best done by traveling alone. If word should spread of a beast loose in the countryside, someone would come hunting. Those deaths bothered him little though. They were slayers and aware of the risks. It was the innocents caught in between that weighed heavy in his thoughts. They always seemed to be the ones to reap the harvest of his violence. In trying to defend them, or they to befriend him, the result was usually the same. Those who hunted him cared little for those he left exposed.

Whistling for the stallion, better judgment insisted he leave. Like a wisp of smoke straying from wafting column, he felt her then and paused. So she was a spell caster. He hadn’t picked up on that. Her skills might be unpolished, but the potency of her thaumaturgical casting was effective. He could feel her. She was trying to get into his blood.

She wasn’t truly defenseless then. He could leave her to fend for herself and she’d probably do little harm. Although labeled a witch by the locals, she’d probably be eventually captured and stoned. In their infinite ignorance, those who couldn’t understand her gifts would seek to end them. The talent she exhibited would need direction and refining to really be dangerous, that is to say, effectively lethal. If he waited for her, he’d end up filling that role. She’d learn from him and would become a force in the magical world. That is, if she survived. Those he’d taken as companions in the past had not.

Like it or not, he was the emissary of Death. He continued on while those around him withered at his fell touch. Let it be her choice, he thought. If she wanted to learn, he’d teach her. If she didn’t, he’d teach her anyway. It was, after all, the way of things.

Out-take from Wolfe’s Bane
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