Musca Sanguis

by Claire Loader


He should have known better than to go marauding in August.  Heat rises all manner of dark things, not least of all the flies. The fetid remains of yesterday’s efforts drawing them like a cloak, their incessant buzzing ruining an otherwise perfect opportunity.

“Get your sketches down now Rodger, we can finish the detail in the tent.”


Rudrick struggled to keep his hand on his sword, struggled to keep his chin raised just so - the sweat dripping, it slid down the insides of his chain mail, pooled at the backs of his legs.


“May I be so bold to ask Sir, this one is for Matilda?”



“Your wife, Sir.”

“Ah yes, yes. No, Rodger, the peasants like this kind of thing.  Gets them working harder you see - a little fear.” 


Rudrick’s hand suddenly slipped, the point of his sword skidding amongst the bodies, the flies lifting and falling like a disturbed blanket.


“One or two pinned in every town, that’s enough to do the trick. Any ice Rodger, no?”


“No, Sir”

“No, of course, of course.”  


He looked into his goblet, at the swarming layer of creatures taken up residence within, envious that such a small drop was enough for them to thwart this blasted heat altogether.



“Yes, Sir?”

Rudrick eyed the man as he quickly took down the scene, squinted as his black top moved as if alive.


“You were wearing red this morning, no?”

“I still am, Sir.”

“Take down a memo there, won’t you Rodger.”


“Next year we campaign in March.”

About the author

Claire Loader was born in New Zealand and spent several years in China before moving to County Galway, Ireland.  Her fiction has appeared in various publications, including The Sirens Call, The Ginger Collect, Massacre Magazine and Dark Moon Digest.