The White Horseman

The White Horseman

Dark times threaten humanity when an ancient magical artifact is unknowingly found by a malevolent sorcerer who is hell-bent on razing both the realms of the Guardians and that of the Humans. He plans to summon forth the first messenger of the Apocalypse – the White Horseman. In this world of sorcerers – both good and bad – there lay a prophecy of one human child, who could save both of their worlds from destruction. In a chain of events that will pull him through the veil that shields the dimensions from each other he will lead a motley band of warriors to the one being that can help them understand the puppet-masters that are raging their unseen war. With the Immortals looking down, they guide him towards his goal – to destroy the mad sorcerer before the White Horseman can be summoned. For if the Horseman returned the time of humanity would be gone forever…


Coming-of-age / Young adult fiction


J.S. Graydon (Australia)

Invisible Touch?
Ben froze in the aftermath of the accident. The stillness was eerie;
all that he could hear now was the noise from the hot car engine.
“Ashley? Dad?” he whispered.
No answer. Both members of his family were slumped down and
non-responsive. Pain shot through one shoulder and made him gasp
in pain. Trembling, he braced himself and unlocked his seatbelt, then
slid unceremoniously toward the side. Unable to open the door without
crawling upward and over his sister, Ben just sat there. Then the
unthinkable happened. The boot of the car opened, allowing access
to the outside. Groaning, Ben tentatively pulled himself up to climb
out through the boot, only to be grabbed under his arms and pulled
abruptly backward out of the car, which wrenched his shoulder even
more. He turned to thank the person that helped him, only to see
no one. No one at all.
He could still feel the hands in his armpits but there was nothing
there. Ben’s heart pounded in his chest. Am I hallucinating? Then he
felt the hands release him and he collapsed to the ground. He was
trying to convince himself that he was in some sort of shock when
he felt and heard hot breath on his face. Unable to cope any longer,
his world faded into darkness…
At first, the muffled voices Ben heard didn’t register. They sounded
dulled and distanced, as if he was listening through mud. Then the
pain in his shoulder jolted him into remembering the accident. He
bolted upright, only to find himself in a small room with beds in
rows. He glanced to his right and saw both his father and sister lying
next to him on gurneys. At first he thought them to be dead, until
he saw the steady rise and fall of his father’s chest.
He glanced to the end of the long room. Partially hidden behind
a curtained division were two people who looked to be arguing
with each other. One seemed to be verbally more aggressive,
whilst the other was shaking his hands in what seemed an attempt
to prove a point. The two people were unlike anything Ben had
seen before. The aggressive one was short. Very short, almost
dwarf-like, with a white robe that hung far longer than his frame.
He leaned heavily on a staff that, even from where Ben sat, could
be seen to be carved with intricate patterns. His long wispy beard
indicated to Ben that he was much older than the man who stood
next to him.
The other was tall enough to have to slump his shoulders and
head to fi t inside the room. Something is not right with these people,
Ben thought.
Quickly scanning the strange area, he realized it was unlike any
emergency room he had ever seen. The instruments looked foreign
and nothing was readily identifiable. There were bottles of liquid
connected to other bottles; he had seen something similar in his
chemistry class at school. I need to figure this out. Where are we? Then
some shuffling feet at the far end of the room signified to Ben that the
conversation was ending. Quickly, he lay back down and mimicked
the positions of his father and sister. He tried to slow his now racing
heart so that he looked asleep.
The two men walked toward the gurneys. Ben eased his eyes
open a slit and stared down toward his feet. It afforded some vision,
though limited. The tall man loped over to the tables in front and
started fiddling with the bottles. The short man, slow in his walking,
took his time. I wish I could see more… Standing almost in front of
him, Ben could now hear them talking.
“Should we awake him?” the tall one asked.
“No, no, no. We must wait until we are sure…”
“But Aedan, he must be the one! We – you, must get Gerhardt
down here now!” The tall one wrung his hands anxiously. Now
closer, his long arms hanging way past his hips looked even more
odd. What kind of people are these? Ben unconsciously frowned and
that did not go unnoticed.
“Malcolm! The boy – he awakens!” The tall one called Aedan
peered owlishly at Ben, ascertaining his condition. “Go get Gerhardt –
and hurry!” As the younger man loped out of the room the tall one
came over to Ben. Using his ornate staff , he poked Ben in the side.
Ben struggled to pretend sleep.
Aedan stared at Ben. “You can drop the pretense; I know you
are awake.”
Ben’s mind raced. Should he feign sleep or just be abrupt and address
the problem. Fine, he thought nervously, no time like the present.
Putting all pretenses aside, Ben sat up.
“Where are we? Is my family okay?”
The short old man leaned heavily on his cane. When his hand
reached up to touch Ben’s shoulder, Ben noticed it tremble. Aedan
stopped short of touching him.
“All in good time,” Aedan replied. “All in good time. Your sister
and father sleep now. We will not be disturbed.” But Ben was disturbed.
Everything, including the odd man, was disturbing.
“You are Aedan” Ben stated. “Who are you?”
“I am the healer,” he said simply.
“You mean you are a doctor?”
“Yes, that too.”
“You don’t look a doctor. What wrong with my family?”
“I told you. When Gerhardt arrives he will explain.” Aedan’s voice carried an almost melodic type quality to it. Ben watched as
the old man thoughtfully scratched behind his ear.
Horrified, Ben shouted, “What is wrong with your ears?!” They
were pointed and extremely elf-like. Aedan stared back at Ben.
“You don’t have to shout at me. There is nothing wrong with my
ears, I can hear just fi ne. What’s wrong with your ears?”
“W-what do you mean?” an alarmed Ben grabbed at his ears.
“Well they’re very flat and rounded. I expect you couldn’t hear very well with ears like yours!”
Indignant, Ben replied spitefully. “There’s nothing wrong with
my ears. Yours make you look like a goblin or something.”
“Well, then you would be wrong. I’m a Bauchan.”
Ben swallowed hard, thinking. A what? “There is no such thing.”
“Really? You should let my wife know that!”
This is nonsense, Ben thought and decided to change the subject.
“Who’s Gerhardt?”
“The question, dear boy, is not who Gerhardt is but what Gerhardt is.”
Riddles, all I get are riddles, thought Ben. He leaned closer to
Aedan and rubbed gingerly at his painful shoulder.
“Fine then, what’s a Gerhardt?”
“Gerhardt is…” The healer puzzled over this question for a moment.
“Gerhardt is an Elder of Scione - a man with great power. He
makes the wind and he argues with the rain. He provides our safety.”
“He makes the wind? What kind of dribble is that? What is
he – God?”
“Goodness no, boy. He is a Protector as I am a Healer. I believe
he’s a Daoine Maithe but he’s very close guarded about that.
“What’s that?”
“Loosely translated I believe it means ‘A Good People.’ They are
of a race that are said to be salvation’s guardians. A royalty of sorts.”
“A good people? I don’t understand – that doesn’t make any sense
at all,” Ben stated.
“You’ll see, you’ll see.” Aedan, though curious, seemed to have
grown tiresome of the bickering. He turned toward his other patients.
Ben sighed in frustration. He was getting nowhere. Perhaps
he had bumped his head in the accident. Maybe he had a concussion,
or perhaps this was a dream.
It seemed an eternity before Ben could hear footsteps echoing
outside of the room.
“Gerhardt arrives,” Aedan announced.
Suddenly a bundle of nerves, Ben sat up on his gurney, wincing
in pain. Hurriedly, he racked his fingers through his hair. It couldn’t
help but to be presentable. The door to his right opened abruptly and
Malcolm stooped to enter. Behind him was apparently Gerhardt, a
bearded, older-looking but Ben-sized figure who was perhaps one of
the ugliest people Ben had ever laid eyes on. His face was scarred and
battered, his body gnarled and twisted, but despite these deformities
he moved gracefully and strode in the room quickly, wrapped in a
dark blue cloak and carrying a staff .
“Where’s the boy?!” Gerhardt boomed, briefl y glancing at Aedan
before fixing his gaze on Ben.
Ben trembled. This man oozed importance and it was obvious
he would brook no nonsense. Purposefully, the older man quickly
closed the gap between them.
“Well then, let’s have a look at him!” Aedan quickly propped Ben
up with a pillow. The old man peered at him, his eyes squinting for
a better look.
“Are you able to stand?” Gerhardt asked.
“I – I think so.” Ben carefully made his way to the end of the gurney.
He was angry and frightened at the strange ugly fellow that was slowly touring around him.
“Are you him?” asked Gerhardt curiously.

Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1



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