Friday, October 31, 2008

Spindle's March

The rhythm of a thousand pounding footsteps hitting the ground in unison shakes the city as they march, one in mind and thousandfold in body to the center, to the tower, to the summoner. To Spindle. Spindle. He twirls around the spire of the tower, the ever-present smile glued onto his mask, laughing as they march. This is it, this is it! They're coming!
They march, march, footsteps on concrete, from everywhere, from miles around. They come from sewers, from forests, from everywhere. The army of the unknown, the army of the feared, the army of Spindle. The inhumanly tall form winds it way down the tower, laughing, laughing. He is mad, no doubt. He has known that for a long time. But now! Now madness was sanity, now the unknown marched the streets! Now the uncontrollable was his to command, the feared feared him! He leaps from the tower, vaulting head over heels in the air.
The pounding beat works its way closer, and they begin to arrive, begin to gather. Spindle watches, gleeful and mad and inhuman. He spins again, spins with dark, near-demonic joy as the abominations surround him.
Abomination! What a word. Spindle loves words like that. Abomination, exhumation, rotation. Quotation! No, no, that one's no good. Spindle laughs. Abomination! He is, they are! This is what they are called! This is abomination!
He dances, his long limbs trailing behind themselves as the creatures watch. This is it, this is it! They're coming, they're here! He can hear them, the march of thousands more getting closer and closer, the pounding beat syncing up to his mad heartbeat, the rhythm shaking the dark, damp city that for so long has called him abomination. He is! This is his march, the march of the abominations! This is his night!
Spindle laughs, and spins around in glee. This is his. This is his. Everything is his now.

Spindle wants to wish you a happy Halloween.
In person.
I'd hide if I were you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Too big, Too white.

The doctor exited the room, slowly shaking his head. The hero knew instantly what he meant. So did the rest. But the little girl did not. And when they told her, when they told her that the magician could not get better, that he would never come back to dance with her and to show her the spots in the world where a bit of magic still showed through, when they told her that he would never even open his eyes again, or breathe without a machine to help him, she cried. She cried, and shouted, and fought against them all, trying to get into the room where his battered body lay. The hero held her, took her kicks and scratches and screams in stride, and did not move, did not cry, did not change his face or look into her eyes as she fought him. He did this for her.
She fought for a very long time. The others tried to console her, took turns holding her, took turns being kicked and bitten and scratched and screamed at. But she fought on, and on, trying to get in, trying to see him, even when they took her away from the hospital she kept screaming, kept crying. The magician, her magician, was being taken away from her. She couldn't understand why.
She fell asleep, sometime between the second and third day after. And the hero finally left her side, finally came back to the hospital. He came to see for himself what he wouldn't let her.
The magician lay on a bed far too big, looking far too small, far too pale against the white bedsheets. He looked too frail, too thin and tiny to really be the magician, to really be the color and life and everything that he had been. Even his smile, his ever-present smile was gone, covered with the respirator that allowed him to get just enough air to cling to whatever of the incredible life was left in him. The long IV in his thin, pale arm was too much. The hero couldn't stay here, in this colorless room, with a friend that he never knew well enough to understand.
But he needed to know. He needed to understand.
So he stayed.
He fell asleep there, in the visitors chair of the tiny hospital room, waiting for something he knew would never happen. But he chose to hope for it anyway.
The morning light filtered through the white, sterile curtains as he awoke. The magician still lay unmoving on the too-big bed in the too-big hospital gown and everything was white, white and sterile and far too big and not magic at all. This was not where the magician belonged, his mind decided as he awoke. And when his mind was fully awake, and clear and ready to be rational, he still held onto that thought. With or without his magic as he'd known it, the magician remained just that, a magician, and his magic never could, and never would, have tolerated such empty whiteness.
So the hero, in one of the least rational but perhaps greatest ideas he'd ever had, tied his red bandanna to the magician's bed. Just a little spot of color, just a tiny bit, just enough to break the sterile whiteness.
And just a little, just a tiny bit, the magician looked more like himself.
The hero smiled, a sad smile, nothing like the magician's, but perhaps just a little more than it had been the day before, and walked out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Puppies (of the evil sort)

Puppies, they say, are the least evil of creatures. I stand in direct opposition to this point of view. No, I am not taken in by the adorable brown eyes, the big, fun, fuzzy paws, or the oh-play-with-me-please-please-please attitude. I am well aware that all these are designed to trick me, to fool me into dropping my guard and snuggling the fuzzy little hairball like there's no tomorrow.
And that's when the vampire puppies attack.

Just practicing not taking myself seriously. Enjoy.

Monday, October 27, 2008


He rushes at me, his sword drawn. I leap out of his path, and try to cut him with my own sword. He dodges, but not without another cut to his cape. His clothes are all full of holes from my attacks, and mine are likewise. We've been fighting for so long, so long now. I whirl around and try to slice him in the back, but miss. That cape of his makes it difficult to judge where he is. It doesn't matter. I'll win this anyway.
My wounds are bleeding, still. How long they've been there, I don't know. How badly I am injured, I don't know. How badly I have injured him, I don't know. I only know that I am bleeding, and he is bleeding, and eventually one of us will run out of blood. It will be him. I'll win this.
I jump out of the way of his sword as he tries to cut a path through me. He almost doesn't expect my counterattack, and my sword nicks his shirt. Almost, I almost had him that time. He almost has me with a thrust at my chest. Another button gone.
I hate him. He hates me. We've hated each other, and fought, attacked and defended, dodged and struck, trying to destroy each other for as long as I can remember. I don't know why.
His sword almost catches my ear. My sword almost severs his foot. Sword clashes against sword, sparking the air into light and noise. The ruined city around us watches silently. We've been fighting for so long now...
Why do we hate each other? Why do we fight, why do we attack each other with swords drawn, why do we strike and destroy? Why? We've been fighting for so long now. I don't remember why. Why don't I remember? Why do I hate him? Who is he? Who am I? Will this ever all be over?
He rushes at me. I dodge. A flurry of swords, he dodges. I miss him, he misses me. Another tear to my clothing, another ever-so-slight wound that slowly speeds my demise. Another clash of swords.
Until we know. Until we know who, and why, until someone comes here, and tells us who we are, and why we fight, we won't know. We won't remember. And this will never be over.
I rush at him, sword drawn.
I don't remember why.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happiness has bad penmanship is a very interesting thing. The basic premise? You put in several blocks of text, and it spits out a bizarre amalgam of them that somehow makes sense. Here are some of my favorites that it's given me:

"Something seemingly deadly, monstrous, inhuman.
We needed something tangible.
Something that he twisted around.
She didn't know I designed the stars. "

"I told you, I could've sworn that I was not dead."

"They've shot her.
She didn't know I live in exile.
The difference was much stronger than prison.
“You're awake then.” A Memo, from Outsiders.
Once, all must be stopped for me. "

" “You don't want to miss it.
Trust me.” He shot her. "

" “It's nothing to do anything with.
Now they come to you.” He kidnapped my arm to make me sir, does yours have a name?” “Yes, it's name is Jack.
Call me sir, does not give you license to call me now.
He still shoots laser beams. "

"This is the earth shattering crunch of the imagination, alone."

"Happiness has become a bullet."

" "The golum is afraid of healing, quite clearly!”
“It is.”
"The golum is a blessing that you say I couldn't carry."
“You don't want to see it!” "

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Crucial Question

The crucial question. The one and only answer. One he had, the other he so desperately needed.
A year ago he'd been convinced he knew the question. He'd prepared, he'd practiced, the whole thing was set up. And he was so sure of the answer. He just had to ask the question, and hear the answer. Happily ever after.
How quickly things had changed.
So much had happened. The world was dying. Perhaps it was already dead. Everywhere, things were falling to pieces, and only he could stop it. So the world asked him the crucial question. Not his question. It's question. And he answered.
And now, now the world was in a thousand pieces on the ground, trying to pick itself up again. It had shattered somewhere between the middle and the end. And it asked a thousand questions, all without answers, and the one crucial question was lost amidst the noise. But he had a new question. Still the old remained unanswered, but if the answer to the new question was no...
Happily ever after would never come.
So he sought his answer. The question was asked a thousand times to a thousand people, and all eventually lead him here.
A shattered chapel. Stained glass windows shine patches of color on the splintered pews. Here, here is where his question could be answered. Here, in front of the alter he stands. Here is where the first question would have lead him if the answer was yes.
Here is where his heart breaks if the answer he seeks is no.
And they tell him the answer will be found here. He goes back outside. A field of yellow flowers, underneath the sun. A little bit of life left in his shattered world. He almost smiles.
And then he sees her. Among the ruins of a battle.
She is lying on her back in the field, her eyes closed. She does not move.
This is the crucial question.

The Sleeper

“Quiet.” The stranger held up his hand. “Peace be to you, my brethren. We are gathered.”
“Brethren?” Victoria pulled back. “We are not your...”
“We are gathered,” he repeated, interrupting her, “not to mourn, not to conquer. We are gathered simply to know.”
“Who are you? Who is this 'we' that you keep talking about?”
“We are gathered.” He kept his face turned to the ground, not opening his eyes. “You seek the sleeper, correct?”
“We do!” Galen stepped forward. “Do you know where...”
“Peace. You have sought what you do not understand. Do you truly know what you seek?”
“We seek the sleeper, the one who dreams this world into being.” Victoria responded. “The unknown element of all that drifts in and out of existence. The one thing in this world that is real.”
The stranger did not smile. “If that is so, what shall you do when you find him.”
“We shall wake him.”
“Why? To escape! The sleeper is what traps us here! If the sleeper awakes, than we can...”
“Escape.” The man finally smiled. “You do not understand what you ask. Escape is entirely possible. Your quest is in vain.”
“What do you mean?!” asked Galen. “We have fought our way to the deepest part of the world, and you tell us it's all been for nothing?”
“Not for nothing. We are gathered.” The stranger lifted his arms, motioned to the ethereal world around them. “Here, where ideas are the shape and substance, where everything changes and all remains the same, here at the border of darkness and light where nothing becomes everything and everything melts away; here is where we have come. Here is the world where the sleeper resides. This is his domain. And here. We Are Gathered. And now you shall know.”
The two stepped back, staring. The world around them shifted, moving inward and outward, pulsing with power at his words. Shafts of brilliant light formed out of the darkness. Color became color in it's true self, indescribable and impossible. They fought to hang onto their existence, their very being, as reality moved around them and beneath them and inside them.
And then the man spoke the words as they realized them.
“I am the sleeper.”

Listening to too much creepy music. I could've continued this, but didn't feel like it. Enjoy.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I found an acorn today.

I hold an oak tree in my hands. So small, so fragile. I could crush it, and it would never be an oak tree. So easily I could crush an oak tree.
There's something special about acorns. Maybe they're only special to me, because I'm not used to them. But as I've been walking under the oak trees on my way to class this year, I can't help but look up and wonder. They're so tall! I want to climb them, and build a house up there, and not come down until dark, or maybe stay up there all night. You can't do that with a pine tree. And now their leaves are turning color and falling, and I can see the birds nests in their branches. There's at least one nest in every tree; some have as many as three or four. I want to climb up and look, and see if there are still any egg shells left in their nests. Of course, all the eggs turned into birds long ago, but bits will still be left.
I wonder if acorns leave bits behind when they turn into oak trees.

Random philosophy isn't really my thing, but it seems almost magical to me. I can hold an oak tree. That's amazing. Any one of them is easily ten, twelve times my height.
But they all started out as a seed.
I can't really get my brain to wrap around that. As much science as I've jammed into my head, I still can't fathom how something so huge could have started out as something so tiny. This thing is literally smaller than my thumb, and if I plant it, if I let it grow, it'll turn huge. I know it'll take years and years to do it, but it'll grow. A little brown nub that I could easily crush will turn into something, that if it fell, could easily crush me.
And I'm ranting. I admit it, I don't have a story to post today. And I really don't know how to express myself about this kind of stuff. But I am just amazed that God could pack an oak tree into an acorn, and I thought you all should know.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


The little glass boy sits on the wooden floor, playing with his toys. Wooden toys, wooden floor. His mother watches him from atop the wooden stool, with wooden brown eyes. Wooden toys, wooden floor, wooden stool, wooden mother. Everything is wood. Except for the little glass boy, with his shining green eyes. So fragile, so weak. If she touches him, he might break.
The little wooden horse clop-clops across the floor in the little glass hand. Frail. So frail, so delicate. If she touches him, he might break.
The wooden mother thinks that she might be going mad. Her wooden mind is splintering, perhaps. For how can a mother of wood and a father of wood give birth to a child of glass?
Perhaps the child is wood. Perhaps she just can't see it yet. That must be it.
The mother turns her wooden eyes back to the brown leather in her hands. Shoes for the people, shoes for the children. Shoes for the little glass boy. Does he need glass shoes? He's so fragile; the leather might break him. The leather has never broken her; it's so hard to tell what will break her child. He's so delicate. Frail.
The little glass boy cuts his finger on the sharp edge of a nail, but he does not cry. He simply puts his glass finger in his little glass mouth and sits, still. He does not want wooden mother to worry. She worries so much. Perhaps it is because he is made of glass, and she is not.
Are all children made of glass?
Mother doesn't take him out to see the other children much, because she's afraid he'll shatter. But the other children look like wood to him, and sometimes, in the right light, he looks like wood. He's sure he could play with them, he's sure he would be safe. Maybe if he played outside, the sun would turn his glass to wood, and wooden mother would stop worrying.
Perhaps wooden mother will always see him as glass. Perhaps that is just what comes of having wooden eyes, and being a mother.

Is the kid actually made of glass, or is it a metaphor? You decide!


They stared back at him in shock. “But...”
“Go. Go on without me.”
“But the creature...” Tarei spoke up, taking a step back down towards him in the darkness.
“I can deal with the creature. I have been for years.” Frail looked downward at his tattered shoes. “Someone has to stay here and deal with it anyway.”
“But you'll be trapped here again!” Daro shouted from the top of the rope ladder. “Just come on! We'll find a way to get you out!”
“I'll be fine. Just go on without me.”
“But...” Tarei stood staring at him at the foot of the ladder. “I...”
“Go,” Frail repeated softly, staring straight at her with those incredibly green eyes of his. “I'll be fine.”
She ran to him, and before he could stop her, she embraced him, crying. “I don't want to go without you.”
He smiled, just a little, and slowly hugged her back. “I know. Shh, shh. Listen.” She was still for a moment. “I've been down here so long now. I know what it is to be alone, trust me. But I can't go back. I couldn't adapt again. I can never live among light and noise. And... As much as I'd like to be with you, I know you could never live down here. And I could never live up there. This is all I know.” He was crying too now. “I can't go with you. I'm sorry.”
They stood, crying in each others arms for a moment, before the creature's roar sounded behind them. Frail released her in an instant. “Go! I'll lead it off!”
“But...” She stood reaching after him as he ran towards the noise. “Frail!”
“Sis, get up here!” Daro shouted from the top of the ladder. “Now!”
The second roar was all she needed. She glanced back once more as she ran for the ladder, only to see Frail's pale form dodging the huge claws as he danced it away. The ladder swayed wildly beneath her feet as she climbed. She had almost reached the top when it jerked sharply to the right, and she almost fell. A tearing sound came from below, and she glanced down to see the creature's claws removing the bottom half of the ladder. Daro pulled her over the edge, and they stared down for a moment. The ladder had been cut off over 20 feet up the cliff. There was no way for Frail to follow them now.
But apparently there was a way for the creature to follow, for the earth shattering crunch of it's claws embedding themselves in the wall to climb shook them to their bones. Frail's voice could be heard, shouting at the creature, trying to get it's attention. He would save them.
Someday, she would come back to save him.
Another roar from the creature. They took off running. The two stumbled blindly towards the white light where their rescuers had disappeared, and burst into the sunlight, out of the humble looking mouth of the cave into which they had disappeared almost a month ago.
For a moment, they were blind. Rustling all around them alerted them to someone.
And once the world faded back into color, their parents embraced them. At last, they were home.
But someday, they'd go back. This much they knew.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


A Memo, from the desk of Jack:
Ok, guys, this is getting ridiculous, not to mention out of hand. I mean, I understand your logic. Don't get me wrong, it's totally logical. Yes, the thing looks like a toaster. On my face. Yes, it shoots laser beams. From the mask, on my face, over my eyes. And yes, I could understand that you say I have a toaster on my face, and that I am, therefore, shooting “toaster eye beams,” thank you captain maturity. And yes, it looks ridiculous. I know. I designed the stupid thing, I should know. All that matters to me is that it works.
This does not give you license to call me “Toasterman,” Toast face”, Toastereyebeam man” or any other variation on that theme that your little brains might spawn. My name is Jack. Call me Jack. Not “Toasterface,” not “the Toastinator.” Jack. Maybe Sir. Either one works.
This also implies that the bread thing was not funny the first time. And if I wake up one more time with bread taped to my face, any part of my person, or anything that belongs to me, so help me, I will find out who did it, and then I will fire your sorry rear end halfway to China. Because you work for me, remember that? I pay you to work for me. I sign your paycheck. And I, Jack the paycheck man with the toaster on his face, am calmly and collectedly, like a mature, reasonable adult, am asking you to STOP IT WITH THE BREAD. Also, the butter isn't funny either. So stop. You're only making yourself look stupid.
PS: If anyone gets the bright idea of jelly, so help me I will fire you TO THE MOON.

A brief exercise in not taking myself so seriously. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In the Land of the Blind...

“No no no no!” He walked in just in time to catch the device before it smashed to pieces against the concrete wall. “Why isn't it working?!”
“What? What's happened?”
She looked up at him, and he stepped back in shock. Her eyes were bleeding. “It's not working! All that preparation, all that testing, all for nothing! Nothing's working! I... I... I'm blind!” He watched her, paralyzed, as she stumbled across the room. “I must be doing something wrong. I have to be doing something wrong. There's no way I could've missed something. I mean, I've been preparing for this for years! I've cured every cause! I must be doing something wrong! Ok, it'll work this time. It has to work. I'm sure it will work.” She stuck her head in the machine of which she was so proud, the machine that had brought fame and fortune to her and healing to so many millions. It whirred to life; lights flashed and the electromagnetic field pulsed through the room. One light, diagnostic complete. Two lights, course of action certified safe. Three lights...
The machine cranked to a sudden stop, sputtering smoke out the cracks. She pulled her head out, coughing, then rubbed the smoke from her eyes and stared with bleeding eyes unseeing into the room.
“No!” She kicked the machine. “No no no no no! Work! You stupid machine, you stupid stupid stupid machine! This is what you were made to do! Come on, this is stupid! What the heck is wrong with you?!”
The machine only made a noise like a truck backfiring in response.
“Fine! Fine, I don't need you! I'll find a doctor, a doctor with a certified machine! And he'll know what's wrong. He has to... I have to... There is no...” She broke down, crumpling into a heap on the floor. “No... No no no no... I don't want to be blind.... Please... Not this, not my sight! Take my hearing, leave me crippled, just... just don't... I don't want to...”
“Hey, hey, it's ok. We'll find a doctor.” He put his hand on her shoulder. “I'm sure they can do something...”
“A doctor? You think a doctor can cure this?!” She was suddenly back on her feet again. “Look at me! Look. At. Me. Every person in my family, that's every single one. All of them. They've all gone blind. Suddenly, inexplicably, without hope of a cure! And now, we all know that it's coming, we all know that someday, someday we too will lose our light, and we try, we try to stop it. But I thought... I thought that I could reverse it! I thought that I could lose it, and then take it back! That's not to say I wanted to lose it, not even for a minute did I want to lose it! I treasure my sight! You haven't noticed this?! I took advantage of every minute I had of having eyes that worked! I've been doing that for years! But... but now... It's happened to me...” She trailed off for a minute, her rage slacking away as he watched in shock. “I never really thought it would, I'd hoped it couldn't. I'm the medical genius, after all, I've cured cancer, I've cured everything. And I thought... I thought... that I'd cured blindness. But now...”
She stood silently, weeping tears of blood from unseeing eyes. And he watched, through the heavy glass lenses that he'd so often cursed, and was thankful, thankful for the first time in his life, for his own blurred vision. In the land of the blind...

It's no secret that I'm interested in blindness.(Completely blind character count: 3) I've kinda been wondering why. I think it might be that my vision is horrible and I'm afraid that someday this'll happen to me. Maybe.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Injection

They hand me the needle, as they do every day. Every day they give it to me, and every day I make my choice. They tell me the choice I should make, of course, but it's my choice whether I choose their way or my own. Their way, their way is the injection. They want me to take it, to slip back into that half-dream where all of their orders make perfect sense, and there's no reason that I'd do anything else, or want to. If I take it, the world smiles upon me, the cold steel walls are my home and all that I desire, and all that I could ever want, I already have.
I haven't taken it in a while.
I wanted to be a better soldier. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could improve myself, to be smarter, faster, more like they'd want me to be. And I realized that the injection slowed me down. So I stopped taking it. I did it for them. I wanted to follow their orders, I wanted to be the best that I ever could be.
But I started to realize. Things that I'd known were right for as long as I remember suddenly became wrong. The orders I was given stopped making sense. I went, I did, I conquered and accomplished, but I saw things. I saw things that I'd always seen, and never really noticed. I saw children, families, mothers and fathers and little babies. I saw riches, poverty, greed and generosity, and I started to realize. I saw laughter and smiles, I saw screaming faces and weeping. I saw my own hands stained with blood. I saw how the blood refused to wash away. I saw gunpowder, smoke, bullets, I saw wounds and injuries and death. I was death, I brought death. And under my faceless mask and unmarked armor, I started to realize.
I realized that something was wrong. Something was wrong with the orders that I'd taken, something was wrong with me for taking them. The injection, the injection was wrong, the drugs that they put in the food were wrong, the whole accursed UQA was wrong. ISO Industries was wrong, the doctors that were so very proud of me were wrong, and the fact that I can't remember anything of myself is wrong. That I can't remember anything that is not blood, is not war, is not death and faceless masks and guns and cold steel walls and needles that make things make sense is wrong. Everything is wrong.
And I am wrong, perhaps. My very existence. Perhaps. I don't know yet.
They hand me the needle, as they do every day. Every day they give it to me, and every day I make my choice.
My choice is not wrong.

Yay for things I wrote in ten minutes or less. Anyway, short thing about Tin. UQA is Unquestioning Army, by the way. Explanation? Maybe later.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Touch

The stranger stretches out his hand to me. I don't think twice about accepting it. It's been so long, so long since I could touch someone. And even him, even him I cannot touch. Anything I touch dies. Everything withers, turns to stone and dust. Thin, ragged gloves cover my own hands to keep this death from spreading.
And warm, elegant gloves cover his.
He pulls me up from the mud where I've fallen. I'm bleeding just a little. A drop falls on a flower, and it shrivels. He doesn't notice. He motions me to follow him. I don't think twice. My feet are moving before my head can say no, and I stumble after him like an ugly duckling. He smiles, and slows so I can walk beside him. I've been slower, recently. Something is eating at me, making my blood run like ice. Perhaps I am finally killing myself. It's about time.
He opens his mouth to speak, but closes it again. I'm not sure what to say to him. Thank you. Thank you for helping me up. Is there anything I can do for you, sir. Thank you for letting me walk with you.
“So. You've got it too.” He speaks in a conversational, friendly tone, like he refers to the weather or what a fine crop we will have this year.
I look up at him in shock. “Excuse me?”
“The touch. You have it too. I can tell.”
I hide my gloved hands behind my back. “The touch? I don't know what you're talking about, sir!” I try to smile to hide my fear. I am a horrible lier.
He sees right through me, and smiles again. “Of course. I don't know what I'm talking about either. I'm afraid I'm rather strange like that, my dear lady. Perhaps we should go somewhere more private to figure it out, eh?” I hesitate. He senses my discomfort. “No, not like that. There will be no wind of scandal in this, trust me. I merely wish to talk away from prying ears. Would that be alright?”
I nod, so slightly that it's barely noticeable.
But he notices. “Come on, then. This way.”
We arrive at an inn, one of the better ones. He slips in a side door. I hesitate, but he reaches out his hand again. I take it again, glove in glove, and we go in. He leads me to a parlor, where a maid stands waiting with tea. He thanks her politely. She is too demure to ask about me, but he sees her curiosity. Nothing scandalous, he assures her. The inn's reputation will be safe. If she would like, there is a window that she may look through, just to make sure. She assures him that she would never suspect him of such a thing, but I can hear the relief in her voice. She looks at me, long and hard, and leaves. He is such a perfect gentleman.
“Now,” he says, pouring me a cup of tea. “I know you have the touch. I knew as soon as I saw you. I have it too. See?” He pulls the glove from his right hand. The patterns of mottled gray on his skin are all the confirmation I need. I bare my right hand as well, and accept the cup of tea with all the grace I can muster. He smiles. “So I'm not the only one. The doctor said that all we all were killed as soon as we were born, but I knew...”
“I thought I was the only one,” I admit. “I've never met someone else with the touch before...”
“Nor have I.” He looks away for a moment, rubbing his neck with his mottled hand. “So this is a first for me, too.”
“How did you know I...”
“Your hair,” he says with a shrug. “You've tried to hide it, but...”
“The bonemark?” I refer to the streak of white hair that runs from behind my ear, and refuses to be dyed.
“If you prefer to call it that, yes.” He sighs, and removes his silk hat. He has it too, though his is cut short. “You're lucky not many people know about it anymore.”
I shrug. “Enough know. I hide it as well as I can.”
We sit in a strange silence for a moment.
“So.” He pours me another cup of tea. “What's your story?”
I hesitate for a moment, then spill forth. This might be my only chance to ever have someone listen. “I killed my mother when I was born. The doctor wanted to kill me, but my father wouldn't let him. He kept me a secret from everyone, or they would have killed me, and I spent my first ten years with him. And then I tripped, and fell, and he caught my hand. And I wasn't wearing gloves.” I struggle to keep from crying. “He died. I've been on my own ever since.” He takes my bare hand in his gloved one and looks into my eyes. He understands. Somehow, I can tell. I struggle to ask him. “And you?”
He looks away again. “I... killed my mother, yes. And my father wanted to kill me. But the doctor... he told my father that I must be killed in a special way, and took me away. The doctor raised me. And when I was old enough, he started taking... work for me.” His face burns with shame. “I hope I don't have to explain what kind of work it was.”
I understand him, and pity him. I know what it is to kill. It is not a pretty thing.
“He made a lot of money with me. And he gave me so much, so much to keep me happy, to keep me obeying. I know now that he was afraid.” He puts his head in his hands. I put my gloved hand on his shoulder. “I didn't... I didn't want to kill. But I thought that I did. I thought that it was my duty to the doctor to kill, my duty to the world. It was why I'd been put on this earth.” He paused a moment, in the stillness of the room. “But I was wrong, I was so wrong. And when I saw that... When I killed him... I almost meant to. I almost wanted him to die. I almost... Almost...” He can't finish his sentence. I don't blame him, no more than he blames me. And that fact is a comfort more than anything I've ever known.
We sit in silence as the moments pass.
He looks up at me, finally, and tries to find the words, eventually giving up and switching topics. “I'm curious...”
I know where his sentence is going.
“Can we touch?”
I stretch out my mottled hand to him in the same way he stretched out his to me. And he takes it without a second thought.
We sit there, for a moment, waiting to die.
Perhaps we are dying already.
Perhaps this feeling is death.
Or perhaps this is life.

I don't even know where this one came from. Enjoy anyway.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Magician's Stars

“Don't you see it?” The magician raised his hands and twirled around on his bare feet, dancing amid the tiny specks of light. “It's coming, it's coming! Oh, you have to see it!”
The hero watched with a skeptical eye. “It's nothing spectacular.”
“Ah, not yet! Not yet! Just wait, wait, you'll see it!” The magician laughed his beautiful, musical, weightless and worryless laugh. “I didn't see it at first, either.”
The girl ran to his side and twirled with him, her lacey skirt billowing out like his flowing sleeves. “Is it here yet?”
“Not yet, not yet! It's coming, just wait! You'll see it. I promise you will.” He picked her up in his small, skinny hands and raised her above his head as he twisted around. She laughed. “Just wait!”
The hero sighed and crossed his arms. Another one of the magician's distractions. There was no need for this...
“Ah, but where are you going, my friend?” The magician was suddenly in front of him, smiling that carefree smile that irked him so much. “You don't want to miss it. Trust me.”
He brushed past the magician without a word. The magician stared after him, and shrugged. “If you don't want to see it, I can't make you. Happiness has to be chosen, my friend.”
He snorted and walked on.
Something that he couldn't identify stopped him, just before he descended the steps to leave. He turned, to see the magician, eyes ever-hidden just as always, dancing with the girl in the specks of light. And he stood there, watching them play, and if only for a moment, allowed himself to smile at the pure lightness and color and unadulterated fun that made up the magician, so full of inexhaustible life.
The magician suddenly stopped and sat down, and motioned for the little girl to sit next to him. She obeyed, looking up at him with a question in her eyes.
“It's here. Watch.”
The tiny specks of light suddenly bloomed, expanding into miniature stars. And from each of those came a thousand other stars, smaller, burning with intense, pure color. The smaller stars darted among the bigger ones, swirling around in a dance far more intricate than that of the magician. The little girl gaped in awe, and the magician only smiled. The tiny stars ranged further and further from their parents, each venturing out a little more than the last before darting back to the inner circle, and the process repeated itself.
The magician held out his small hand, palm upward, and seven tiny stars darted over to it. They swirled around his upturned hand, an unpredictable, patternless pattern of pulsing color and light. He moved his hand, and they followed, like ducklings running after their mother. The little girl reached out her hand, and he brought them over to her. And she held out her hand, much like he'd held out his, but smaller, and more hesitant. And one little star came to her, moving from his hand to hers, slowly rotating around as she watched it, all the wonder in the world shining from her face. Then it darted away, fleeing back to it's mother star.
“Don't be afraid,” said the magician with a smile. “It won't hurt you. Just believe it, and it will come to you.” He stood, and stretched out his arms, his face turned to the sky. “This, this is life, this is love and beauty! All these must be chosen, all must be believed!” The stars rushed to him as he spoke, both the tiny ones and their mother stars, swirling around him in a vortex of light and life and joy.
And the girl stood, and laughed with him, and danced with him among the stars.
And the hero watched from a distance, and desperately wished to go closer, but didn't.

Sort of goes along with the story I posted on dA, but not half so depressing. This story happens before that one.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Snow. This must be snow.
I shudder in the cold. Something had fallen on my hand, and my hand was wet. Must be snow.
I take another brick in my snow-wet hand and put it on the others. They are snow-wet too. Or are they blood-wet? My hands are bleeding again, I can tell. The cold numbs the pain. Only a little, though.
The workmen call to each other. They're going in. It's snowing.
But I don't want to go home yet. They aren't here to make me stay, but I don't want to go home. My hands are bleeding. My father will yell if I get blood on the floor again. He says that I'll stain it, and if something is stained with blood, it is cursed.
This whole mill must be cursed, then. There is enough of my blood for a thousand curses.
I drag the plank with the bricks on it across the wet ground. My blood is soaking into the rope, I can tell. They will yell at me again, but it's not so bad as when father yells. They don't hit so hard.
I trip. They've left a plank stray on the ground again. I curse under my breath. That's something I've learned from them, something that I didn't know before. Before the fire. Before the blindness. Before everything.
I stumble back to my feet, and drag my bricks onward. It's hard to tell where to go. Normally, I take it to the bricklayer. I can hear him working. The slap of mortar hitting the bricks is something I've gotten to know very well. I just drag the bricks to the sound.
But now he's gone, because it's snowing.
I trip again. This time, I put my hands out to catch myself. One falls into something squishy.
A bucket of mortar. I curse again, and pull my hand back out. It makes a squelching, gloppy noise as I free myself. They will be angry because there is blood in the mortar now. I scrape it off on the edge of the bucket. I don't care.
I want to leave. I want to vanish. If I could turn to smoke and fly away, then I would be happy. I would sting at their eyes, make their vision cloudy and black, black like mine, if only for a moment. Maybe then they would understand.
“Vale.” I didn't hear Ivan walking towards me. “Are you ok?”
“Fine.” I pulled myself up again, feeling around in front of me for the brick wall that I knew was here somewhere.
“Sorry I couldn't get here earlier.” He is breathing hard. I can tell he's been running. “The doctor came by today, and I couldn't leave until he'd had tea and crumpets with my mother and told me all about how I must take care of my hands.”
“What did he say?” I try to smile, if only for his sake.
“He says that I'm almost completely healed! He took the bandages off, but he wouldn't let me look at the burns while he put something new on it. It smells better than the other stuff. Here.” He shoves his hands into my face. They smell of aloe and dirt. “He says that I'll be able to keep the bandages off in about a week.”
“That's good.”
“Has he been to see you lately?”
I shake my head. “Father won't pay for it. Besides,” I finally find the brick wall, and put my hand on it to guide me as I feel around with the other hand for the rope that I've dropped, “he said that I couldn't be cured.”
“I know what he said, but don't you think that maybe he could've changed his mind? Maybe he's learned something since then. I'm sure there's something he could do if he just would try...”
I shrug. Where is that accursed rope... “I don't know. But father won't pay for it anyway.”
We stand in silence for a moment. He's looking up at the mill, I think. I can't feel his breath as much when he's looking up.
“The mill's almost done. Maybe when they finish it, you won't have to spend so much time up here...”
“Maybe.” I shrug again.
“I wish you could see it. The bricks are really pretty against the snow.”
I don't reply. I've been far too much involved with those bricks to ever wish to see them.
“Your hands!” He's finally noticed. I keep my palms down so he can't see them. “Vale, what happened?”
I shrug and keep my face to the ground. “Nothing.”
“You're bleeding.”
“I know.”
“Let me see them.” He grabs the hand that I've been fishing for the rope with. “Oh, wow...”
I jerk my hand back. “I'm fine.”
“No,” he grabs my hand again, “you're not.” I hear the soft swishing of his bandages unwinding.
“Ivan, no.”
“Just the stuff around my wrists. You need your hands more than I need mine.”
“Ivan...” I try to pull away, but can't. I hear the sound of threads tearing from each other.
“Here.” The bandages are ragged. He wraps my hand clumsily; I can feel the cloth twisting around itself. The knot is similarly tied. I know it'll come undone in a few minutes. It just feels unstable. He begins to unwrap his other wrist and releases my hand. “Give me your other hand.”
I obey. He exhales, then lets go. He grabs it again in a moment, and begins to scrape off the mortar with a stick. In another moment, the wrapping begins again. He runs out of cloth halfway across my palm. Snow touches down where my skin is left bare.
“Hang on just a second...” I hear him unwrapping cloth again.
“No, Ivan. This is good enough. Thank you.”
“I'll wrap it again as soon as I get home, ok? I have plenty of this stuff. You need it more than me.”
“Ivan, I...”
His sharp gasp cut me off. “Oh...”
“What?” He doesn't respond. I repeat myself. “What's going on? Are you ok?”
“Vale, look. Look at my hand.” I can hear panic in his voice. “Look!”
“I can't! Ivan, what's happened?”
“Ivan, I can't see your hand! I'm blind! What's happening?”
He is silent for a moment longer, then he takes my hand in his, mine unbandaged and his fully wrapped, and guides my fingers to his other hand. As soon as I touch his palm, I know what has happened.
We stand here for a minute, as the snow swirls around us, as I trace his scars with my blood. He is shaking. He is almost crying.
I remove my hand, but do not speak.
And slowly, surely, he wraps his hand back up.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Life, the universe, and everything

Life, the universe and everything. Something simple becomes infinitely complicated. We don't really know who we are now, but that's alright. Some things aren't meant to be known, perhaps, but we'll keep chasing them. And the number of cogs and wheels that all turn together multiply by a thousand times, until there are so many, so many that we cannot count them, and we cannot see the one for the so many others. Perhaps we shall never know why. Life, the universe, and everything.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Wheeler and the hobo

Wheeler awoke to the sounds of traffic below him. He wondered, not for the first time, why taxi drivers got up before the sun did. His stomach growled. He needed to find real food today.
He sat up and pulled out his battered pocketwatch. 5:30. The church bells wouldn't ring until 8. He moaned. He was hungry! And his cd player was out of batteries, too. He stared at the street below the church steeple where he'd been sleeping. Yellow taxi's zipped by in both directions, in a great hurry to go nowhere in particular. People walked quickly by, stepping over a sleeping hobo like he wasn't even there. The pretzel vendor was similarly bypassed.
Wheeler had enough for a pretzel.
“Top o' the morning t' yeh, sir.” The man gave Wheeler a smile missing three teeth as he approached. “What can I do for yeh today?”
“Pretzel.” Wheeler muttered through his scarf. “How much?”
“Only a dollar, sir.” The man pulled one out of his cart. Wheeler handed him a dollar. “Want anythin' on it?”
“Nice talkin' to ya, then!” The man waved goodbye, and turned back to hawking his wares to the disinterested passers by. Wheeler joined the slow trickle of early morning pedestrian traffic as he made his way across the city. Was the guitar repair place open yet? Probably not. He should stick around to hear the bells, then go later. But people always gave him more money in the morning, it seemed. And if the guitar place was open, he wouldn't need the bells anyway, though he did enjoy them. And then he could relocate to someplace less drafty.
Fifteen minutes later, he stood disappointed in front of Rocky's Rock On Guitar Sales and Repair, closed on Saturdays. He swore softly. No guitar today, and likely as not no guitar tomorrow. He walked away, disgusted. And he didn't have enough to pay for batteries and the repair bill, and of course Rocky's had a large, obvious sign stating that they did not under any circumstances take credit. He'd been counting on that guitar today!
Wheeler started back to the church. He was beginning to ache all over. He hated feeling hungry. The noise of the traffic zooming by only furthered his annoyance.
“Will you shut up?” he growled at the cars. Traffic continued regardless, and a man walking by gave him a strange look. “Quit tempting me!”
He glared at the street as he walked along, his hands jammed into his jacket pockets. Oh, what he would give for a street musician right about now. Ironic, since he normally hated seeing them because it meant more competition for him. Maybe that annoying girl with the violin would be in the park... No, she only came in the afternoons, and he didn't want to deal with her today. She thought she was so much better than him, just because she wasn't homeless... The old guy who sat behind the burger place, maybe? No, he'd been chased off for loitering almost a week ago. Too bad, he was pretty good.
He sighed. He hadn't really been here long enough to get a handle on where more than a few of the musicians were. How long had it been now, a month? No, less than that. He'd been working at the soup kitchen over Thanksgiving, and he'd moved at least twice since then. He wondered how the nuns would be spending Christmas this year. If he had enough, he'd send them a gift. Maybe he could carve them a cross; that would certainly make Sister Valerie happy. And Sister Bertha would just be happy to learn that he hadn't starved yet.
But Sister Mary probably wouldn't even notice. She'd be too busy with the Christmas concert.
Wheeler sighed again. He missed the nuns, especially Mary. He almost wished he'd found a way to stick around after he turned 18. Maybe if he didn't need to wander so much, he could've.
Wheeler turned down a side street on his way to the church. He nearly tripped over an older man laying in the alley.
“Got any change, sir?” the old man muttered.
“Sorry.” Wheeler shrugged. “I got nothing, unless you're short on bad luck.”
The man laughed, wheezing. “I've got plenty of that. God bless you anyway.”
Wheeler nodded. “God bless.”
The man burst into a coughing fit as Wheeler walked by. He glanced back over his shoulder, then stopped short. Blood. The old man was coughing up blood.
“Hey, you alright?” Wheeler changed his tone to one slightly less insolent and slightly more concerned than what he usually used.
“I'm just old, moldy and cold,” the old man wheezed as he tried to laugh again. “I'm fine.”
“Hey man, you're coughing up...”
The old man went into another fit of coughing. He stared at his hand for a moment afterwards. “Huh. I'm bleeding.”
“Hey, man, you need to have a doctor look at that.”
“Can't afford no doctor...”
“The emergency room won't turn you away.”
“Can't get there... too far...” The old man slumped, shivering in the cold.
“I'll take you.” Wheeler knelt down. Why was he doing this? He didn't need anything else to worry about. He should just walk away.
And yet, somehow, he didn't.
Wheeler picked the old man up as best he could. Luckily, the man was practically a stick. “You know where it is?”
“That way...” the man pointed north with a shaking hand. “corner of... seventh and... Turner drive...”
“Got it.” Wheeler ignored the stares of the passersby. “Keep talkin', man, I don't want you going into shock. What's your name?”
“That short for Theodore?”
“Yeah...” the old man coughed again. “But nobody calls me that anymore. I used to be Theo...”
“What happened?”
“Eh... stock markets, divorce. Lots of stuff. Now I'm Teddy.” The man paused, drawing in a raspy breath. “I have a daughter, you know. Haven't seen her in a long time... Her mom took her when we split...” Wheeler rounded a corner, only to be met by the blinding first rays of the sun on the horizon.
“That's too bad. Do they know that you're out here?”
“No... no... I haven talked to her in such a long time... She probably hates me.”
“What's her name?”
“We named her... Francisca...”
“After St Francis?”
“You know the saints, boy?”
“Raised by nuns, man. Hard to avoid it.” Wheeler glanced both ways at the crosswalk. “Patron Saint of animals, the environment, Italy, and stowaways. Two feasts, both in fall, born in 1181 in Assisi, Italy, to a rich merchant, and he was originally named after John the baptist. Which is to say,” he paused as he steered his way through a crowd, “Yes. I know the Saints.”
The old man laughed again, then fell into a coughing fit. “Sounds like it. We wanted her to be... gentle like him... Didn't work out.”
“Eh, names don't mean much; Living proof, right here.”
“Stephen. First Martyr of the church, patron saint of headaches, horses and Belgium. Germany too. And Italy, but they have so many that I don't count it.” Wheeler stared at a street sign for a moment. “I'm not him. I'm not wise, I'm not a great speaker, and I definitely am not a martyr. I do have a headache, though.”
“So, then, Stephen...”
“Wheeler. Everyone calls me Wheeler.”
“Wheeler, eh?” The old man coughed into his sleeve, staining it red. “Why's that?”
“Like I said, I'm no Stephen.”
“Right,” Teddy mumbled, zoning out.
“Hey, man, stay with me. Only ten blocks or so 'til the hospital.”
“Tha's a mile, boy.”
“Only a mile, man. Positive thinking.”
“You'll have to forgive this old man... Sorry about all this.”
“Hey, it's alright, man, I had nothing to do anyway.”
Ten blocks later, Wheeler deposited the old man in a wheelchair in the emergency room. “Stay here.”
“Not gonna be a problem...” Teddy sunk into his chair, soaking in the warmth of the heated hospital.
“Can I help you, Sir?” the receptionist asked politely. She fingered a clipboard with insurance papers on it, half impatiently.
“Not me,” Wheeler said, shaking his head. “Him. He doesn't have insurance, but he's coughing up blood. Didn't know what to do with him.”
“How long has he been..”
“No idea.”
Behind them, Teddy burst into another coughing fit, spattering blood all over himself and the floor. The receptionist stared. “I'll see what I can do.” She disappeared into the back part of the ER.
Wheeler sighed and took a seat next to Teddy. He picked up a magazine on nutrition, flipped through it for a moment, and put it back down. At least the ER wasn't busy. They should see him within an hour at least, and there's no way the warm air of the waiting room could hurt anything.
A jolt of pain ran through his body. He suddenly realized something. The warm air couldn't hurt Teddy, but it was dead quiet in here! He moaned.
Teddy glanced at him. “You ok?”
“Just hungry.” Wheeler replied. “Nothing a sandwich and half an hour of bad cafeteria muzak couldn't fix.”
“Mr... Um...” The receptionist stood at the door to the back.
“He's Teddy.”
“Mr... Teddy. Right. We can see you now.”
“Thanks, Ma'am.” Teddy tried to stand as he spoke, but couldn't. Wheeler pushed the wheelchair where he rested to the door, where the receptionist stood waiting.
“Sorry, man, but I don't think I can take you any further.” Wheeler held up his hands in a defeated sort of gesture. “Patient privacy and all that.”
“Well, I'll see you later, then. God bless you, Wheeler.” Teddy sat up straight and nodded to him as the receptionist wheeled him into the back part of the emergency room. Wheeler waited by the desk, not quite sure of what to do. The receptionist reappeared momentarily.
“Are you related to Teddy?” she asked, clearly surprised that he was still there. “Is he your father, or...”
“Tripped over him.”
“So you just brought a random stranger to the hospital?”
“Yeah.” Wheeler shifted from one foot to the other nervously. “He got no place to go.” He kicked himself for what he was about to do. “Here.” He handed her the 50 dollars that he'd saved to repair his guitar. “It's not much, but it's all I've got. I know it won't even begin to cover his hospital bill, but...” Wheeler shrugged. “Best I can do.”
“...Thank you.” The woman took the money hesitantly. “I'll tell him it was from you...”
“Don't bother.” Wheeler turned to leave. “I'll pay as much of his bill as I can... I might be back.” He waved goodbye without turning around, and walked out.
He made it less than a block from the hospital before he collapsed. He cursed himself and his stupidity over and over again. He was so dead. He now had no way of getting his guitar back, a hospital bill to pay, and he'd gone and missed the bells, all for the sake of some random stranger who he could have just walked away from. What on earth possessed him to do such stupid things?!
He gave in and allowed the traffic noise to wash over him, his head in his hands. It nauseated him, but it was better than the gnawing hunger he'd been feeling all day. So now he was homeless, guitarless, saddled with a debt not his own, and he was probably going to be sick. Great.
Yeah, this was going to be a wonderful day. He could just tell.

This makes no sense if you haven't read Wheeler's profile. If you haven't read Wheeler's profile, he lives off of sound. Anyway, meet Wheeler. Say hi, Wheeler.

Ok, fine. Don't say hi. See if I care.