Poetry Contest

I don’t write poetry, however, I do care about the readers of my blog and I know a few poets amongst them. So I decided to share Kayla’s post here, on my page:))) I hope it will be useful for those bloggers who would like to showcase their poetic works.

KaylaAnn

Are you a poet? Do you enjoy writing poems until your heart is sore or until it soars?

Well, I happen to LOVE reading poetry so I would like to hold a poetry contest! Read the rules and prizes below!

Rules:

  • To be eligible for this competition you must be subscribed to my page (i.e. following and receiving emails.) Not subscribed yet? No worries! Go to my home screen and click FOLLOW (I’ll receive a notification when you do :D)
  • Leave your poem or a link to your chosen poem in the comments below.
  • I will be using a point system to chose the winner:
    • You will receive 5 points automatically for subscribing (everyone must subscribe to be eligible)
    • You will receive another 2 points for sharing the contest on your your own blog and linking back
    • Your poem will be rated on a 1-10 scale based on creativity…

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The Brotherhood of the World Award

   First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to @kaylaannauthor for nominating me for The Brotherhood of the World Award.  Kayla is new to the world of blogging (as well as I am), but her blog is engaging and already full of useful writing tips. I recommend you, guys, to check it out 🙂

 About the Award

I don’t know much about the award, all I know is that it is an award given to bloggers by bloggers.  This award is a way for bloggers to highlight their fellow-bloggers and discover more about them and the blogging process.

THE RULES OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE WORLD AWARD:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the questions sent to you.
  3. Nominate around ten bloggers.
  4. Create your set of questions for your nominees.
  5. List the rules and display the Brotherhood Of The World logo in your post (I put the logo on the top of this post).

Questions for Me:

  1. What do you primarily blog about?

My blog primarily consists of excerpts from my works, but also some news, interviews, blurbs, etc.  The main reason I’ve started it was to showcase my writing to the bigger audience. Such media like Facebook or Twitter has its limits. For example, messages in Twitter are limited to the certain wordcount.  Nobody would read a 2,000-word excerpt from a novella on Facebook, but they would do here, on the blog. For me, blogging is another great tool for promoting my writing and seeking feedback.

  1. What is your favorite movie adaptation from a book?

There are lots of them. These are only a few which I can recall straight away:“Angels and Demons” by Dan Brown, “The White Queen” by Philippa Gregory, “Wolf Hall”by  Hilary Mantel, “The Pillars of the Earth”by Ken Follett, “SS-GB” by Len Deighton,  and of course, the epic “The Lord of the Rings”by J. R. R. Tolkien.

In general, I love history and everything history-related, and I like historical fiction (books and films) which reflects the certain period of history in all details.

  1. What are your ultimate aspirations?

First of all, to get at least one of my books published. Also, it would be cool to create bigger audience of readers.

  1. What advice would you give to new bloggers?

Don’t stop! Even if you haven’t written anything for a long time. Blogging is a very time-consuming enterprise. When I started my blog, I’ve promised myself to write a post at least once a month. However apart from the blog, I also need to look after my Facebook page and, the main thing, to write my stories. So sometimes, I can post two articles per months, but some months I don’t post anything. I realised that the main things for blogging are consistency, patience, and determination. It’s not that easy to get a few hundreds followers for your blog (like for a Facebook page, for example), but even these couple of dozens I have worth hundreds 🙂

  1. What do you consider success when blogging?

I think, first of all, your own feelings about it. How do you feel about your blog? Do you want to come back to it more often? Do you see it as a tool for your professional development and promotion as an author? Does it help you to communicate with other fellow-bloggers/writers? The amount of followers is also important, especially if you want to build a career in it. It’s also an indicator of your content and how engaging and interesting it is for your followers.

My Nominees:

I would like to nominate the following authors:

www.herlostmango.com

www.kaylaannauthor.wordpress.com

www.homehugshuskies.wordpress.com

http://www.therandomnotebook.wordpress.com

http://www.unbolt.me

http://www.ashortconversation.com

www.scribescanvas.com

www.linaaquamarineblog.wordpress.com

www.thisisyouth.org

They all have wonderful blogs and invest lots of time and efforts into them.

Questions for my Nominees:

  1. What is the main purpose of your blog? Do you blog for a leaving, just for fun, use it as a tool to promote your writing, business, etc.?
  2. What are your favourite topics/genres of blogs and why?
  3. Do you have any topics you would never blog/write about? Do you have any taboos?
  4. What is your understanding of freedom of creativity? How do you express it in your blogs?
  5. In your opinion, should censorship apply to blogging/creative writing? If yes, who should be the censors and what criteria should they use to assess writing?

[Novella] His Personal Reich (excerpt)

 

England, 2016

   This was it—a tiny piece of paper with sloppy handwriting. Just a twelve digit number and a bank’s address—that was all that her mother had left after her death.

For the hundredth time, Andrea stared at the note without saying a word, and couldn’t believe the reality of what had happened. No calls, no letters, nothing.  Andrea hadn’t visited her mother very often at her care home, where she had been living more than half of her life.

What could she expect?

She wiped away her tears and started to enter the code on a deposit box’s screen.

An old yellowish envelope plumped up with papers appeared from the oblivious darkness of the deposit box.

Andrea pulled it out very carefully, as if she was afraid the envelope’s content might blow her up.

This was it. This was all what was left from her mum, from her childhood which she hadn’t even experienced the way like other kids had, from her family she had never known.

She made a deep breath, trying to get rid of heavy sadness which had continued to torture her for a few weeks since her mother’s death. Putting the envelope in her handbag, she left the bank and drove back home.

  It was late November, but there was almost no snow. Most of the shops, cafés, restaurants, and businesses of all kinds tried to create a joyful atmosphere, decorating their windows, facades, and porches with traditional Christmas’ themes.

Andrea caught herself thinking that this was her mum’s favourite time of the year.  ‘Oh mummy, you haven’t made it till this Christmas.’

Unlike her grandma, Andrea absolutely adored Christmas. For her, it was more about the atmosphere of warmth and joy than the holiday itself.

She felt like tears started to burn her eyes again, remembering her mother’s smiling eyes, when she had been watching the Christmas tree’s illumination.

She had never recognised her daughter. In fact, she had never recognised anybody. Andrea didn’t remember her mother speaking either. The doctors agreed that she could speak. There were not any medical reason or health issues. She just chose not to.

Being completely swallowed by her thoughts and memories, Andrea hadn’t noticed how quickly she returned back home.

She made herself a cup of tea and stared outside, at the autumnal garden. The days became shorter and shorter, and the darkness covered the naked trees with its dull greyish veil. The air felt cool and damp, but Andrea didn’t feel cold. In her recent financial situation, when she needed to save money on everything, including the central heating, she started to get used to the cold.

‘What can be worse than a job loss?’ she asked herself a month ago.

Oh, she was so naïve! It could be much worse.

‘Ah, the envelope,’ she reminded herself.

She must admit she didn’t know her own mum very well. She had always been a stranger to her. And now, this wrinkled yellowed envelope was the only link that connected her to her mother, to her family, to her past.

She opened it with a paper knife. A couple of old faded photos from the 70’s and 80’s. Her mum in a colourful long dress and a huge broad-brimmed hat smiled from the first photo which was made somewhere on the south coast. The sea breeze was blowing her red hair, and she smiled happily…so young, full of energy and life. This photo had been made long before her illness, long before Andrea was born.

She was looking through the pictures, examining them carefully, as if she hoped to find the answers to all her questions that had been screwing her mind for the last several years, after her grandma died, as if she tried to understand the real cause of her mother’s illness.

Another small long envelope with a fancy floral pattern slipped down on the floor and distracted her from the pictures. She opened it. What was it? She carefully unfolded a document.

A marriage certificate? But she was told that her mother had never been married to her dad. Grandma had never told her about the marriage; neither had she wished to talk about Andrea’s father.

21st of May 1982 

George Christopher Owen

Claudia Maria Zissman

‘Damn!’ Andrea read the document again and again, and still couldn’t believe that her own grandma lied to her, lied all her life.

She despised her father so badly that when she’d became Andrea’s only guardian, she gave the granddaughter her surname—Zissman. Why? Why did she hate her son-in-law so much, calling him nothing else, but “a useless dreamer” and “an English half-breed”?

She shuffled through the rest of the papers absently. Two pictures stuck together as they had got wet in her handbag. She separated them carefully.

One picture was a wedding photo which captured a bride and a groom surrounded by the guests. Andrea was examining the faces, trying to find her grandma or somebody she might’ve met before. Nobody.

The longer she had been staring at her mother’s white gown, the more she realised that…

‘Oh, God! She looks pregnant!’ she sighed finally, being afraid of her own guess.

The second photo, or better to say a half of it, revealed a figure of a tall man in his late thirties dressed in a ski suit. Andrea recognised these deep grey eyes and a straight nose—the features she inherited from her father. The endless snowy landscape transformed into a weird lonely mountain on the horizon, where it joined the greyish sky. But it was another figure in the picture next to him—a child, three-, four-year-old, not more. Andrea tried to figure out was it a boy or a girl, but the quality of 80’s photos was poor, an old cheap paper faded quickly, leaving wishy-washy patches all over the image.

The small figure was dressed in a navy blue ski suit and a funny blue fluffy hat which made it look like a little astronaut who had landed somewhere on a deserted frozen planet. It held a cuddly toy lion in its tiny hand.  Most likely, the figure was a boy. On the back side of the photo, she could distinguish her mother’s writing—faded but still visible figures “1985”—the year, when her dad died in an avalanche somewhere in the French Alps.

‘A boy. A brother? What had happened to him? Where’s he now? Is he still alive? Where’s the second half of the picture?’ Andrea felt dizzy.

She tossed the photos onto the table and leaned back on a chair. She closed her eyes, but the picture of the little astronaut emerged in front of her. She realised this would be her curse till the end of her life. Every single night the little funny astronaut with the cuddly toy would come into her dreams until…until she found out the truth.

[Novella] His Personal Reich (blurb)

Andrea Zissman was brought up by her strict grandmother and never knew the truth about her family. When her mother dies at a special care home, the only legacy she leaves her daughter is a mysterious envelope full of old photos.

Andrea finds out that her father, a scientist who studied the energy of Aurora Borealis, didn’t die in an avalanche in the French Alps, but was killed by members of some mysterious neo-Nazis’ colony somewhere on a remote Icelandic island. Moreover, she has an older brother she has never seen before.

Desperate to find her brother and bring to justice her father’s murderers, Andrea meets Leon Callais, a flamboyant, scandalous journalist, who is on the hunt for the Nazi’s super weapon “Nothung”, a device which can open a portal to other dimensions. He believes that death of Andrea’s father and “Nothung” are connected.

The investigation leads Andrea and Leon to Iceland where they are determined to discover the truth about the neo-Nazis’ colony, its secret weapon, and Andrea’s family. However, the colonists give them an extremely cold welcome.  Now, they need to fight not only for the truth but also for their own lives.

 

(image source: The Aurora Life )

 

An Interview for Double Decker Books.

My ideas go across the boarders Watch my interview for the USA-based magazine/YouTube channel Double Decker Books. My thoughts on writing process, freedom of expression, and my works in progress.

Follow Double Decker Books/KayCee K Books:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/doubled_books
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/doubledecke
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ItsDDB/?ref=
Website: https://doubledeckerbooks.blogspot.com

This is a brilliant platform for the writers to promote their writing, and for the readers to know more about the authors and their works.

 

[Non-fiction. Art] The Virgin and Child by Masaccio (1426)

Created in traditional for Gothic technique, using panel and egg tempera, this work, however, represents a turning point in the artist’s career.
In 1423 Masaccio travels to Rome, and from this point his painting frees from the influence of Byzantine and Gothic elements.
The golden background, the round halos of angels and the Virgin Mary refer to the traditions of old masters. Nevertheless, Roman and Greek influences prevail here. The pattern at the base of the throne is a replica of a design found on a Roman sarcophagus, its sides incorporate the three orders of columns from Roman architecture. The figure of the baby, naked and plump like a Roman putto, wears an elliptical halo and feasting on grapes, defines his position on his mother’s laps.
Mosaccio uses a single-point linear perspective, so the figures of Madonna and Child become the focal point of the painting.
(145 words)
 

 

 

 

 

[Short story]: The Son of Immortals (excerpt)

 

First Papyrus

I am the King of the kings, I am the son of the falcon-headed Horus, I am the beginning, I am the end, I am the one who will live forever, I am the personification of the King of Gods, Amun-Re, I am the greatest warrior who defeated the armies of thousands, who put the barbarian princes of Kush and Wawat[1] on their knees, forcing them to accept the law of Kemet’s gods. I am the one who is raising the biggest temple in honour of my divine father in the sacred city of Abdju.[2]  I am the ruler of ancient Niwt-Imn[3], the house of Amun-Re. I have hundreds of names, but only three of them can be pronounced by mortals. I am Nimaatre Smenkhare Meriamun, the live god of the land of Kemet[4].

The golden boat of Re has finished its way in the waters of sky’s Nile and submerged into the darkness of Nun. I found myself wandering around the tombs of deceased kings who have already met Osiris in the Afterlife. I try to remember what I’m doing here in the middle of the night, but fails. The night is dark and quiet, Khonsu’s crown is shining brightly and lighting my path by its cold silver light.

My thoughts are interrupted by quiet voices. They sound from the one of the tomb. Coming closer, I can see the dim light of torches, the voices sound louder. There is no doubt; I’ve met the tomb’s robbers.

Disgusting thieves, sons of dishonoured Seth, doomed to be punished in the Afterlife; their ba[5] will be eaten by Apophis, the gigantic serpent, and will be condemned to eternal death. They are who dare to steal from the kings, deserve nothing, but a miserable death without a burial.

There are three of them on the doorstep of the underground tomb, ready to enter, to disturb the king’s eternal peace, ready to touch and grab, and smash everything, taking gold and jewellery and all other of the king’s belongings, throwing the mummy out of the golden coffin in their disgraceful passion for profit.

I’m going to call my guards to arrest the robbers. Instead, my mouth produces a weird, heart-stopping scream. This scream can belong neither to a man, nor to an animal. What is wrong with me? I can’t recognise my own voice.

One of the robbers turns around. His face becomes pale like linen, his eyes stares at me in horror; he drops his torch and runs, leaving his peers and screaming like a lunatic. His friend shouts at him, but noticing me just petrifies.

‘The king….The spirit of the king,’ he mumbles in shock.

‘How dare you, the son of a jackal, to touch the royal tomb?’ I shouts full of anger, trying to grab his shoulder, but my hand goes through his body and catches the air.

I see the thief falling down, his eyes are wide opened. I lean over him, trying to have a closer look. He doesn’t breathe anymore…He is dead!

I have no chance to stop the last one as he disappears in the darkness, following his friend.

I sit down on the ground in front of the tomb, examining my hands and wondering what has happened to the robbers, where my guards are, and what, for all gods’ sake, I’m doing here at night.

Struggling to follow the flow of my own thoughts, I start to read the writing on the tomb, guessing whom it may belong to.

It is a traditional plate with the name of the pharaoh on the door’s seal.

Oh Thoth, the Adviser of the kings, give me all your divine wisdom and knowledge! The king’s name on the plate is…. Userkaf Smenhkare Meriamun, the name of my brother.

And straight away, I see the face of Userkaf in front of me. He is the exact copy of me. Even our mother, the Great King’s Wife, queen Nefriru couldn’t recognize us. We are the same height, the same short black hair, the same big black eyes, the same straight long nose which we inherited from our great father.

We were born together, but still I was the first who came out of the queen’s blessed belly. I was the one and the only heir to the throne. My brother, Userkaf, was brought up to become Chief Priest of Amun-Re, but he always desired more…Always jealous, always despising me, always wanted to be the first.

He’s been waiting, waiting for the whole life, for twenty five long years, when finally his time has come.

I remembers his face, but it’s blurry…it’s under the water. I feel the cold water fills my ears and mouth, I can’t breathe, I try to break free, but my brother’s hand is squeezing my throat tighter and tighter. I try to push him, to call for help, but my efforts are getting weaker and weaker. I’ m not a good swimmer. I’ve never been.

The grimaced face of my brother, like an agonizing blurry reflection of myself…and then…here I am. I am dead.

I’m crying, I’m cursing Userkaf who, like a shameful Seth, killed his own brother to usurp his power.

Oh immortal gods, I call on you! Let me take my revenge, let me free the throne of Isis from the usurper, let me be judged by Osiris in the Underworld, let me travel together with Amun-Re in his golden boat in the skies and let the name of my brother, the cold-blooded murderer and traitor, be forgotten forever.

Second Papyrus

This is very late in the evening. The light of oil lamps and torches is shading, and the whole palace is going to fall asleep. Only the heavy steps of the night’s guards in the corridors and the quiet murmur of the fountains in the gardens break the silence of chambers.

I don’t remember how I appeared here. I think I just wish to come back home to my palace in Niwt-Imn, to see my wife, young and beautiful Mutnefert and our son, my only heir, Senenmut. I wish everything that has happened to me was a dream, a bad nightmare sent to me by the demons of the night. I wish to wake up. I wish….to be alive.

Unnoticed, I enter my chambers and…oh Seth, pull my eyes out as I can’t bear to see my beloved wife in the arms of my brother, the murderer Userkaf.

Using our similarity, he took my throne, my name and now…he’s lying in my bed with my wife! She has been fooled as all others; she believed that it was Userkaf who drowned in the river, not me. It was an accident, the will of Hapy, the river god who took Userkaf to his underwater palace. That was a lie she’s been told.

My Mutnefert, my great queen, my little sister, my only love… I always loved her. I’ve been in love with her since I was ten and she was only eight, but our brother desired her as well.

When our mother, the Great King’s Wife, died, our divine father took Mutnefert as his new Great Wife. The crown of Kemet should have been secured within the family, but he was too ill and too weak. As soon as he joined Osiris in the Underworld, I and Mutnefert got married.  Userkaf, the crafty son of dark demons, couldn’t control his passion though. He tried to seduce our sister a few times, but she loved me, she has always been my most loyal wife.

I see her now, kissing him, embracing him, petting him, groaning in passion, giving him pleasure she used to give to me.

Oh Atum, the creator of the world and all people who arose from the waters of the chaos, give me a body and I will claim everything back from my brother. I will take my revenge!

Third Papyrus

  I’m only ten, but I can read and write fluently. I’m short, but strong quick and agile. My father always took me hunting lions and panthers. I’ve even caught one for my own little zoo. My father told me that I was born to be a warrior, I was born to be a king, but…I’m preparing for the life of a scribe.

The almighty gods have sealed my voice inside my throat, so I never could speak. I never could tell the truth. I never could tell that my uncle, nasty and crafty Userkaf, drowned my father and took his name and his crown.

I’m only a boy now. My life is under threat. I’m scared to death. Why, oh almighty gods? Why have you given me this body?

I’m sitting now at the reception chamber amongst three other pharaoh’s scribes and writing everything that is said at the king’s presence.

‘…And you are informing me about that only now, Great Vizier…’

The king is sitting on his golden throne. His head is crowned with a high fancy headdress. Tiny golden bees, colourful butterflies, and lotus’ flowers made from lapis lazuli with agates and emeralds move with each head’s movement. Long golden earrings shine in his ears; heavy wide bracelets are on his wrists and ankles. A golden balm is on his lips; he smells of lotus and rose’s oils, he is wearing my long robe and richly decorated sandals. He doesn’t hesitate to take everything from me.

Ineni, the Great Vizier and the major of Niwt-Imn, is on his knees. He is leaning lower and lower until his forehead touches the floor. Ineni is fat, old and coward. His bald round head is shining of sweat. He is afraid to make his lord angry, but he believes in rumours.

‘I didn’t want to bother my king with the information that hasn’t been proved yet. I just wanted to wait to be sure that…’

‘To wait? To wait for what? When the prince of Kush and his allies will summon a new army? When their barbarian soldiers will stay at the city’s gates?’

The pharaoh is furious.

Ineni crawls on his fat belly, coming closer to the king, kissing his toes with gold covered nails.

The ruler only grimaces. The smell of sweat irritates his majesty even more than the bad news from the boarders.

‘Do the prince and his chieftains remember that their sons were brought in Kemet by my father during his last campaign and have been living here since? Does he remember that his oldest daughter is one of my wives?’

‘It is something else, my lord, you should know,’ the vizier whispers barely audible, looking behind his back at me and other scribes.

‘What is it? Speak!’

Userkaf is impatient as usual.

‘I’ve heard that the rumours were spreading out in the city, Your Majesty. People keep talking…’ Ineni stammers.

‘What? Speak! Your king orders you.’

He presses his sceptre to the vizier’s head and then raises his chin, looking into his eyes, looking for the answers.

‘My sources reported me, oh ruler of two worlds, that some of the high priests are involved as well. I’ve been informed that the kushite’s prince has offered a deal to the priest of Sobek, the governor of the South who believes that…that you, our divine Nimaatre Smenkhare Meriamun who shall live forever, have been killed by your own brother, the Great priest of Amun-Re.’

The pharaoh only laughs, but I see his face is getting paler.

‘Tell the priest of Sobek, honourable Hapuseneb, that his suspicions are absolutely baseless, and that I would like to talk to him regarding all these nasty rumours he dares to spread out about me. As for Beja, my kushite’s father-in-law, I think I need to remind him to whom he should be grateful for allowing him on the kushite’s throne.’

He smiles, and I feel a chill running down my backbone.

Forth Papyrus

I’m following the king to his private chambers, trying to be as quiet as possible. Nephthys, the goddess of the night, covered me with her dark veil, and I became almost invisible, hiding behind the wide lotus-shaped columns of the halls and corridors.

Tiyu, my kushite wife, has already been brought here and waiting for him. He comes into the room and nods to the guards to leave them alone. I have no choice, but to cringe behind the nearest column. If somebody notices me, I will be beaten fiercely, but I don’t hesitate.

‘Ah, my gorgeous wife,’ the pharaoh grins, making circles around her like a kite around its prey. ‘I’ve never been with you after our wedding. I think that must be changed… ’

She looks different from all other queens. She’s got very dark skin and deep black eyes. She’s taller than women from Kemet, and her long hair is curly. She was brought here during my last kushite’s campaign as a guarantor of peace between my country and Kush, and I took her as my wife.

I’ve never met Tiyu since the day of our wedding. I love my Mutnefert and I’m not interested in other women. I’m not like my lascivious brother who’s obsessed with sensual pleasures. He has lots of women, spending almost every night with a new one…or sometimes even with two.

Tiyu has been living peacefully in her part of the palace, always quiet and shy. She doesn’t know the language very well, so she doesn’t talk much. I neither like her, nor dislike. Sitting here, behind the column in the corner of the chamber, I feel really sorry for her.

‘Life, prosperity and health to Your Majesty, shall you live forever. I’m happy to serve you, my lord,’ she whispers barely audible, all her slim body is shaking.

‘If so, you need to give me the heir, a child who will sit on the throne of Kush instead of your father, the traitor!’ he shouts these words in her face.

She closes her eyes; her body starts to shake even more. Userkaf rages as a panther, blind and deaf in his hate and fury.

‘My lord, my divine husband, I’m sure you’ve been mistaken. Whoever told you this about my father, told you lies,’ she’s falling on her knees in front of him and starts to cry. ‘My father is the most loyal servant of yours.’

He doesn’t want to listen to her anymore. He grabs her long curly hair and almost drags her to the low sofa in the corner.

She screams and jerks, and cries, and begs him for mercy, but he’s determined. She tries to break free, scratching his naked back to blood, but he’s unstoppable.

It’s unbearable to hear her screams. If only I could help, could stab a sword between his shoulders’ blades. But I’m only a little boy and I’m scared to death. I hold my breath, trying not to cry, not to show my presence.

He slaps her face, when it’s all over.

‘Now, you can write to your father how women in Kemet’s villages felt, when kushite’s soldiers raped them,’ he puts on his clothes ready to go.

She’s lying on the sofa without a movement, ashamed, wishing to be dead.

I’m leaving my hiding place and hurrying to my chambers.

Fifth Papyrus

I’m lying in my bed and staring into the ceiling. My private chamber is richly decorated. There are colourful paintings on the walls with the scenes of hunting. There are ducks and fancy pheasants in the bushes, there are fat hippopotami and crocodiles in the river, there are spotted leopards on the trees behind the branches.  The lotus-like columns hold a ceiling painted with golden stars.

It seems like everything is moving and breathing, and the chamber is filling with the sounds of the nature. My mind is emerging into these sounds and smells, and feelings. I can’t think of anything else apart from this magical forest, it is swallowing my mind, and I can’t move or get up from the bed.

I can’t feel my body. It disappears as well as my bed, my chamber and the magic forest. I find myself in the pharaoh’s dinner chamber.

I can see the whole scene very well, but it seems like nobody can see me. I’m a spirit, an incorporeal being, something that doesn’t belong to the world of men.

It’s an evening, and the king has his dinner, surrounded by his cupbearers, musicians, half naked dancers, fan bearers and all kind of other servants and slaves. Ineni, the Great Vizier, is also presented.

Userkaf half lies on a low sofa, a golden band in a shape of a cobra crowns his short black hair, smothered by coconut oil. He wears a long white kilt. One of the slave’s girls is massaging his naked shoulders and neck.

The Great Vizier is filling his goblet with wine instead of a cupbearer, whispering the latest gossips in the king’s ear. I know what is in his mind; I can read this shameful plotter’s thoughts.

My father, the divine impersonation of Amun-Re, gave the title of the governor of the Southern Land to Hapuseneb, the man of the greatest wisdom, experience and honour whose family has been loyal to our house for so many years. Ineni couldn’t bear such a turn. Addicted to limitless power as well as my brother, he’s been trying to overthrow Hapuseneb many times, but failed. He feels like his time comes now.

The musicians are playing a simple quiet tune, and the half naked dancers are twisting and bending in their fancy dance.

The pharaoh is stroking his favourite cat, a live personification of love and joy. This image of the great goddess Bast is purring happily. Its huge ears are decorated with golden earrings; golden bracelets are put on its all four paws.

Ineni tries to say something else to the pharaoh, but the appearance of the guard’s chief interrupts him.

‘Life, prosperity and health to Your Majesty,’ the chief starts, kneeling in front of the king.

‘Speak in the presence of the immortal god,’ Ineni waves to the guard, waddling and puffing on his sofa like a hippopotamus on a river’s bank.

‘Forgive me my intrusion, my lord, but Harmachis, the chief of Your Majesty’s chariotery, begs to see you now.’

‘Harmachis? Harmachis, the son of Hapuseneb, my wisest and the most loyal governor?’ Userkaf chuckles mockingly.

‘His Majesty is relaxing, don’t you see?  How dare you to interrupt the rest of the god?’ the vizier gets up from his low couch. ‘The audience time is tomorrow in the morning. You know that…’

‘Bring Harmachis to me,’ Userkaf doesn’t let him finish.

The vizier only grimaces, but comes back to his couch.

The guard bows and opens the door, letting the young man in.

‘Speak in His Majesty’s presence!’ Ineni proclaims loudly from his place to kneeled Harmachis.

‘Life, prosperity and health to Your Majesty, shall you live forever,’ Hapuseneb’s son starts barely audible.

Userkaf makes an impatient gesture, ordering him to be as brief as possible.

‘I beg you, my lord, for my father, Hapuseneb. He’s been ordered to come here, to the capital. He is kept under home arrest in his villa on the west bank. He’s…’

‘Your father is accused of treason and sabotage. Tomorrow, he will be questioned by my chief of security, and this shameful case will be investigated. If you believe that he hasn’t done anything wrong, if you don’t question his loyalty to the throne, why are you so worried? I’m sure if his heart is clean, he will be able to prove this to my investigators,’ the king is making a circle around the young man and gestures him to rise from his knees.

‘My lord, I don’t question your fair judgement. I know that Maat herself advises you, your voice is the voice of Maat, the goddess of truth and justice. She can’t be mistaken; she can’t accuse an innocent servant of Your Majesty in treason. But there are so many people, my lord, who are jealous and sneaky. They are pulling a veil of lie in front of your divine eyes, trying to distract you from Maat’s wise advising…’

All Harmachis’s wordy speeches are in vein, my brother doesn’t listen. He circles around the young charioteer, staring at his longish golden hair, his pale skin, being bewildered by his big blue eyes.

‘You look different,’ he says finally, paying no attention to Harmachis’s words.

‘My mother, my father’s second wife, was from the Sea People’s country. I inherited her features, my lord,’ Harmachis looks completely confused.

‘I hope you inherited from her such features like loyalty and honour, and integrity, because none of them I can see in your father.’

‘My lord, I…’

‘It’s enough speeches for today,’ Userkaf interrupts him abruptly. ‘I question your father’s loyalty, not yours…at least, at the moment. Take a seat, have a dinner with us, tell us how dedicated you are to your duties and your king.’

A mysterious smile appears in my brother’s lips, I know this smile very well.

Harmachis takes a seat on the floor, next to the pharaoh’s sofa. Userkaf makes a gesture to his slaves, and they fill a goblet with wine for the king’s guest.

The fluffy servant of Bast, unhappy of being disturbed, jumps on its previous place next to his owner and starts to purr again, begging for food.

Userkaf smiles again, giving the cat a piece of a roasted duck. It’s purring even louder, enjoying the bit, licking the king’s fingers in gratitude.

‘You see, he knows who is in charge,’ the pharaoh nods to his favourite. ‘He’s loving and loyal to his owner, but sometimes he’s like my people—forgets his place and starts to bite and scratch the hand which feeds him, strokes him, and gives him shelter. When he does it, I need to remind him who is his owner, and he becomes pleasant again.’

Harmachis swallows his wine nervously; his eyes look at the pharaoh’s with hope, ready for everything to save his father’s life, title, and the honour of his family.

‘Why don’t you eat your meal? These duck and figs are delicious,’ he takes one of the baked figs and offers to Harmachis.  ‘Try it. Don’t upset your pharaoh even more.’

‘I’ll do everything to please you, my king,’ he whispers barely audible, taking a fig from the pharaoh’s hands with his lips and licking king’s fingers.

Userkaf raises his eyebrows.

‘Leave us alone,’ he orders loudly to everybody, waving to slaves and musicians.

One by one, the servants leave the chamber. Ineni is puffing disapprovingly, but doesn’t move from his low couch.

‘You’ve heard me, Great Vizier,’ the king doesn’t even look at Ineni, he stares at the young charioteer like a snake at a rabbit, being amazed by his eyes which are blue like lapis lazuli, by his golden hair, by his big lips…

(The last part of the Firth Papyrus is ripped off which makes it unreadable.)

 

Sixth Papyrus

I’m sitting on a low bench together with two other scribes and watching the pharaoh, reinstating the priest of Sobek in his duties.

Hapuseneb is on his knees in front of my brother, his Chief of security and Ineni, the Great Vizier. His body is shaking under the long white robe, all his jewelleries were taken from him in the first day of his home arrest and given to the king’s treasury, and his shaved head is covered by ashes in a tribute of grief and obedience.

‘His Majesty the king, shall he live forever, honours you with his forgiveness,’ Ineni proclaims loudly, and the scribes starts to scratch on their papyri, trying not to miss anything.

I’m starting to write down as well, but instead of words I’m drawing. I’m drawing what I can’t say, I’m drawing my plan…the plan of my revenge.

‘The mercy of our lord is truly endless,’ the vizier continues. ‘He deigns not only to save your life and honour of your family from the greatest shame, but also he leaves you to perform your duties as a priest of Sobek, the lord of all waters. However, taking into consideration all the charges against you, His Majesty orders to suspend you from the post of the governor of the Southern Land for the time being…’

‘Remember, Hapuseneb, I’m watching you,’ Userkaf nods in support of his words.

‘I’m grateful to His Majesty for his mercy. I know that Maat, who always judges fairly, advises my lord that there is no guilt on me.  I know, oh the greatest of the kings, that the Eye of Re guides you through the darkness of lies to the light of truth, that it shows you, my king, that my soul is clean and my loyalty is undoubted,’ Hapuseneb raised his eyes to the pharaoh.

Userkaf gestures him to rise from his knees.

‘I’m very pleased that you finally understood the seriousness of the accusations against you, wise Hapuseneb,’ my brother smiles his crooked smile. ‘Try not to disappoint me again.’

He makes a step closer to the priest.

‘Next time, even your son who is very sweet to me won’t be able to save you.’

He turns around and leaves the chamber. The Great Vizier, the Chief of security, scribes, fan bearers and all other servants are following their lord.

I look at Hapuseneb. He stands without a movement, his head is bowed, his eyes are full of tears. He’s humiliated and ashamed.

I’m coming to him and taking his hand. I’m giving him my drawings; I’m looking into his eyes.

I’m showing him how I was killed by my brother, how he took everything from me. I’m showing him the future. He knows now that love of the pharaoh will cost dear to his son, he knows the country will be at war, he knows what to do…He accepts his fate. He is ready for revenge as well as I am.

 

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[1] Kush and Wawat-countries situated on the south-east of Egypt. Kush- ancient Nubia.

[2] Abdju- an Egyptian name for Abydos

[3] Niwt-Imn- an Egyptian name for Thebes

[4] Kemet-an ancient name for Egypt

[5] Ba-in Egyptian mythology-a soul of a deceased

“The Iced Asylum” is in “Stories in Colour” Collection.

It is arrived…finally! “The Iced Asylum” is going international :)))

The story has been shortlisted for the Eyelands 6th International Short Story contest and published in “Stories in Colour” collection by Strange Days Books. The collection was released in November, 2016 and available on  http://www.amazon.co.uk  and https://paraxenesmeres.gr/books/english/.

 

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It looks pretty good in print;))))

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With the letter from editors.

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[Short story] The Imp’s Chronicles (excerpt)

The enormous stained-glass windows were illuminated with the last lights of summer. The rays created multicoloured patterns on the mosaic floor and the elegant slender pillars. Golden yellow, scarlet red, lapis-lazuli blue, deep purple, and cold violet—colours were everywhere.

The air felt cool and damp. The church was closed to the public due to renovation works in its crypts.

Bella enjoyed the tranquil splendour of the place.  She took her seat on one of the benches, opened her laptop and started to look through the scans of the documents and photos.

The crypts were in complete disrepair. In fact, 85 percents of the church’s underground space had been flooded for decades, causing not only the spreading of damp and mould, but also erosion of the basement’s structure.

This project promised to be troublesome. Bella had already known it, familiarizing herself with the conditions of her employment contract, but she couldn’t miss the chance to prove her theories she had been working on for the last few years.

The working day was over. The team of builders, engineers and divers had finished their work and left the site.

‘You’re still here. I brought you a meal.’

She jumped, being caught unawares, when somebody’s hand touched her shoulder.

‘God! Julian, you scared me to death,’ she sighed, shuffling up the bench and giving her colleague a space.

‘You’re obsessed with this project,’ Julian continued, unwrapping his takeaway.

She smiled warmly.

‘You know how much it means to me.’

They’d always been not only colleagues, but also good friends. Well…sometimes it seemed to her that Julian would like to become more than just a good friend, but she didn’t want to question his friendship. He had never shown his feelings towards her either.

She was an adventurer; she travelled all over the world on expeditions, research and excavations. Julian preferred the silence of libraries and archives. Bella was very surprised, knowing that her colleague was going to join her.

‘You’re a dreamer,’ Julian only waved his hand, making a sip of his coffee.

‘Look at these photos.’

‘Ah, I’ve seen them hundreds of times. A few photos of very bad quality that have been taken of a manuscript which never existed can’t prove any of your crazy ideas. They have the same value as the photos of, let’s say, the Loch Ness Monster. What evidences apart from these pictures do you have? Just your speculations. You’re an archaeologist, not Lara Croft the Tomb Raider.’

‘“The Imp’s Chronicles” existed,’ Bella nodded stubbornly. ‘I’m going to prove it. That’s why I came here.’

‘Even if the manuscript existed and had been destroyed in flames,’ Julian only chuckled. ‘Nobody would have believed in your theory of aliens who came here and taught medieval architects how to build the church.’

‘According to “The Chronicles”, this church replaced the old roman basilica around the end of 8th century. Why?’

‘Because it was struck by lightning and caught fire. This information can be found in every document that belongs to the building,’ Julian shrugged.

‘The manuscript clearly shows that the old basilica had been destroyed by highly intelligent extraterrestrial beings,’ Bella turned the screen of her laptop to the colleague. ‘Look at this photo. This image here at the top. It looks like…’

‘This is the image of a stormy cloud with lightning and angels above. I can’t see anything else.’

‘It’s not a cloud. It’s a spaceship which destroyed the church, when she had landed.’

‘…And they came here to test biological weapon of mass destruction on humans,’ Julian continued mockingly, turning around from the screen. ‘That’s what you’re going tell me about the plague which killed 80 percents of the town’s citizens.’

‘Damn! It wasn’t the plague!’ Bella lost her patience.

Julian was the only person she could trust her theory, but he didn’t even try to listen.

‘The first plague came to this country in 1348; you know that better than me. The symptoms of the disease were described in “The Chronicles” in all details, and they had nothing in common with the plague. In fact, they don’t look like any other disease known nowadays. ’

A creaking noise distracted them from their conversation. The large metal door, which led to the crypts, opened. Bronson, the civil engineer, dressed in a safety jacket and a helmet appeared on the doorstep.

‘I thought I was the last one, who was left in the building,’ he greeted the archaeologists.

‘We thought we were,’ Julian smiled, shaking the engineer’s hand. ‘What are you doing here on a Friday night?’

‘I’d rather leave and have a pint with the guys in the pub, but this damn pump…Have spent ages, waiting for it to be fixed, and then needed to wait again till the water has gone completely. Somebody has to stay here to look after the bloody thing. But…I’m glad I’ve met you,’ he nodded to Bella. ‘I thought you’d like to have a look at it.’

‘To have a look at what?’ Bella frowned.

‘Follow me,’ Bronson gestured to the crypts.

They went down the narrow spiral staircase and stopped at the fist platform. They put on safety boots and high visibility vests, and Bronson handed them out special gloves and masks.

‘God knows, what kind of germs we could catch in this stale, damp air.’

They started to descend again and finally arrived at a spacious hall with the low arched ceiling. Bronson was right. The walls, the ceiling, everything was wet, damp and covered in mould. Metal girders supported the arches and columns, preventing the ceiling from a total collapse.

‘When the water had gone, I realized that the crypts are much bigger than we thought,’ Bronson gestured to the archaeologists to follow him.

They passed the central hall and turned to the right. The corridor was much narrower than the central hall, and it seemed like it had a slight gradient.

‘It looks like this corridor is descending,’ Bella shared her thoughts.

They had been walking for another ten minutes, when the corridor made a turn again.

‘Strange…There are not any corridors on the building plan,’ Julian murmured more to himself than to his colleagues.

‘Look at this bad boy!’ Bronson, who walked in front of them, stopped and raised his torch.

The wall looked higher than the walls of the crypts and much older as well. The dark beams divided its entire surface into some kind of polygonal cells which created an intricate pattern.

‘There shouldn’t be any wall,’ Julian took off his backpack, taking out the building plan.

‘Here shouldn’t be any other corridors either,’ Bronson nodded.

Meanwhile, Bella was completely swallowed by the wall’s pattern. She walked along it, peering into its surface.

‘This wall is much older than the church,’ she said finally.

‘It might belong to the old basilica,’ Julian took a laser scan and a camera out of his backpack.

‘I’ve never seen such stonework before,’ Bronson shared his concerns. ‘Look at this.’

He touched the wall and showed Bella his finger;

‘What is this shit, guys?’

His rubber glove was covered in some sort of greyish mucus.

‘Maybe some sort of mould,’ Julian shrugged, continuing to examine the wall with his scan. ‘I’m not surprise to see so much of it here.’

‘I’ve been working with flooded buildings for thirty years. It’s everything, but mould.’

‘What does the scan show?’ Bella turned to her colleague.

‘Strange. It seems like it doesn’t want to work.’

Julian looked confused.

‘It identified that the wall is constructed from metal, not stone,’ he pointed to the scan’s screen.

His colleagues gathered around him.

‘What kind of metal?’ Bella gripped his sleeve, trying to see the screen under the torch’s light.

‘Oh, it’s unable to identify it…Weird, the scan worked ok today in the morning.’

‘Doctor, I’ve found something else,’ Bronson drew Bella’s attention. ‘Actually, this mucus preserves the wall against moisture.’

He wiped one of the “cells” with his hand, and the images, slightly faded but just visible, appeared.

‘God! This is it. The exact copy of “The Imp’s Chronicles”,’ Bella gasped, not believing in the reality of this moment.

Julian frowned, but she started to wipe the wall with such determination that he had nothing to do but to help her and Bronson.

Five minutes later, the entire picture became visible.

Each “cell” consisted of a complete scene. The top bit presented the evil angels with shining halos, who came down from the sky, throwing lighting and fire to the basilica. In the next one, the group of angels were meeting the clergy with the dean in front. Two of the angels attracted Bella’s attention. One of them held a red and white rose symbol in his hands; another one—the richly decorated casket with some kind of crystals in it.

‘Look at this symbol here,’ she pointed Julian to the rose. ‘The same symbol repeated in “The Chronicles” many times.’

‘It looks like the Tudor’s rose, but…I mean the white rose in early Christianity traditionally associated with the Virgin Mary. The red rose was a symbol of Christ, and its five petals are supposed to…’

‘I didn’t know we came here to listen to a lecture about early Christian symbols, Doctor,’ Bronson interrupted him.

‘It’s not a rose,’ Bella continued to examine the wall’s painting, without paying any attention to Julian.

‘What is this then?’

‘I don’t know. Not yet.’

‘I don’t like it, guys,’ Bronson frowned. ‘We’d better come back here on Monday with the others, bring all the necessary equipment, make proper photos…’

‘My scan is going crazy,’ Julian didn’t notice his remark. ‘It’s showing that there is a void behind the wall.’

‘How big is it?’ Bella distracted from her examination.

‘Well, according to the scan, very big…bigger than…than the church’s nave.’

‘Guys, maybe I’d better go home,’ Bronson made an attempt again. ‘You may stay here the whole night if you wish, but I…’

‘We need to cut through this wall,’ Julian interrupted him impatiently. ‘Could you, please, go back to the crypts and bring us a laser saw. I’ll try to cut this metal or whatever it is.’

‘I just wanted to show you this corridor and the wall. I didn’t plan to spend the whole evening here.’

‘You’ll be paid double overtime,’ Bella supported her colleague. ‘Please, Bronson…’

The engineer rubbed his grey moustaches. This damp dark place wasn’t his idea of a perfect night. The guys, probably, had already finished their pints and left the pub, but…double overtime…

‘Ok,’ he nodded finally. ‘I’ll be back with the saw and the other stuff we may require.’

‘Look,’ Bella pointed to the wall, when Bronson disappeared in the darkness of the corridor. ‘This picture here, it shows the angels and the imps. The imps attack the citizens, and it looks like…The same pictures of imps are in “The Chronicles”, the same symbol of the rose repeats there many times.’

‘How does “The Chronicles” explain it?’

‘It says that the city’s authorities and the higher clergy were so corrupt and mired in sins that such behaviour enraged God, and he sent his angels here. The angels came and brought their devastating power with them. “The Chronicles” calls this power the darkness of beasts.’

‘It sounds like these beasts are the imps who served the angels…’

Bronson’s appearance interrupted their conversation.

‘I brought the laser saw, the bigger torches and some other tools.’

‘We need to have a look, what is behind this wall,’ Julian grabbed the saw from the engineer’s hand.

Bella didn’t recognize her friend. Julian had never been an adventurous person. No way, he would have worked overtime.

Meanwhile, he progressed very quickly with the saw. He looked excited and impatient. Bella must admit she had never seen him being like that before.

‘Ready?’ he asked, kicking the part of the wall which had been cut with the saw.

A piece of unknown metal fell down, and the colleagues came into a huge tunnel. Surprisingly, the air didn’t smell of damp and mould. It seemed much fresher and cooler. The same strange greyish mucus covered the walls of it. The tunnel had a very high ceiling. It was so high that they barely could see it in the unstable light of torches. The roof was supported by some sort of curved beams.

The guys held their breath.

‘Something is not right here, guys. I feel it,’ Bronson looked scared.

‘I can’t believe you’re afraid,’ Julian grinned. ‘We’re on the threshold of the greatest archaeological discovery, my friend. When was the last time anything exciting happen in the archaeological world? Do you remember?’

‘The bones of Richard III have been found under a car park?’

‘Exactly. It was ages ago. Now, we discovered the whole building under the church. This,’ he gestured to the walls, ‘is more valuable than a couple of boring crooked bones.’

He continued his way into the darkness of the tunnel. Bella followed him, still being surprised by such an unexpected change in his attitude.

The tunnel seemed endless, and had a few other smaller corridors which went in both directions. The group decided not to turn anywhere and followed the main corridor.

Finally, the tunnel widened, and they found themselves in front of a gigantic door. It was all covered in unknown writing (or something that looked like writing). Julian switched on the scan again.

‘The door is constructed from the same metal as the previous wall.’

‘And again this symbol, the double rose,’ Bronson pointed to the middle of the door, where the huge, about five metres in diameter, schematic picture of the rose sealed it as a lock. ‘Actually, it’s not a rose.’

He came very close, touching the petals.

‘It’s…’

He hadn’t finished his thought, when the door slid open quickly and almost soundlessly, as if it was used only yesterday.

An enormous hall appeared in front of them. It was twice, if not three times, bigger than the church. Two endless rows of thin columns on high pedestals formed lancet arches which divided the hall into three parts. The centre looked like the nave of a gothic church; the two smaller arcades were barely visible in the light of torches.

‘It is much taller than any other gothic building, where I’ve ever been,’ Bella raised her head, trying to have a look at the ceiling, but the arches went higher than the light of her torch could reach.

Julian made a determined step forward.

‘The scan can’t even detect the approximate era, when it was constructed.’

‘If your scan isn’t broken, do you know what it means?’ Bronson frowned.

‘It means that the church was built much earlier than we thought.’

‘It also means that all the documents, all medieval texts… everything is just one big fake.’

‘It also means that the gothic period in Europe had started significantly earlier,’ Julian nodded.

‘I’d rather finish our research for today and come back on Monday morning,’ Bronson started the old song. ‘Who do you think you are? Indiana Jones?’

‘I found something,’ Bella’s excited voice sounded somewhere in front.

She stood on some kind of a round platform in the middle of the nave. The platform was covered in unknown hieroglyphs, similar to the ones they had seen on the hall’s door. It was the rose symbol in the centre of the platform. The double rose, again…

Julian made a few photos of the hall and the platform. Bella squatted, trying to have a better look at the writing. Probably, she pressed some hidden button, as in the next moment the whole platform lit up, and a 3-D hologram filled the hall with its dull bluish light.

‘I didn’t touch anything,’ she jumped in surprise.

The stars, the planets, the suns of other galaxies, fiery and frozen…The hologram in the shape of the double rose moved, unfolding its “petals”.

‘This is the galaxy, where they came from. This rose is a map, their map,’ Bella nodded to the hologram.

‘What? Who’s map?’ Bronson still couldn’t believe in the reality of what was going on.

‘It looks like I’ve started to believe in “The Imp’s Chronicles”,’ Julian walked inside the hologram, trying to make a shot.

Their conversation was interrupted by a scream. Julian dropped his camera, and they turned around, staring into the darkness. Bella felt panic. She saw Bronson’s whole body was shaking.

The bleak light of the torches snatched some movement in the right arcade. It was something which looked like a cocoon. It was about two metres long and a metre wide, covered in sticky flagellums. A dark liquid trickled out of it. On the top of the cocoon, some kind of dark crystals grew. The low scream repeated again. No doubts, it was coming out of the cocoon.

‘What the fuck?’ Bronson lost control.

He had no time to finish. The next moment, the cocoon had been ripped out, and a creature, screaming and spilling dark liquid around, came out of it.

It was about a metre tall. Its dark, almost black skin without hair was covered in horn-type excrescences, the longer excrescences crowned creature’s head, creating a crest. Its reticulate eyes were positioned at the sides of the head; the mouth was huge with several rows of fangs. The beast constantly sputtered, screaming and hissing.

It looked at archaeologists, turned to them one eye then another one, making a few steps closer.

Bronson wanted to drop all the equipment and run, but looked petrified.

‘It’s an imp,’ Julian whispered, backing away. ‘It looks exactly like the ones in the pictures.’

‘Where did you come from? Why? Why do you want to destroy us?’ Bella forgot fear for a moment.

She found them; she needed to know the truth.

 

 

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“The Iced Asylum” has been shortlisted for the Eyelands 6th International Short Story Contest

   I still can’t believe it!  What can be better as a gift for the birthday?

   My short story “The Iced Asylum” has been shortlisted for the Eyelands 6th  International Short Story Contest. Eyelands is a Greece-based on-line portal dedicated to art and culture. Most of its content is in Greek language, however, it has got an English section as well.

Despite the editors put the work under my maiden name, I’m not upset about it:)))

Can’t wait to get a copy of the short stories collection in November.

The full details are here: Eyelands.gr English section