Friday, December 31, 2010

Random snippets

“There are so many strange things in the dark,” she said quietly, her weak grip on him tightening in fear. “I saw you, and the children, so many times—I saw you die, and I saw you alive again—My mother was there, sometimes. I wanted so badly to go to her but my hands were tied down—but they aren't tied down now. But you're dead, so I must be hallucinating—where is my mother?”
“I am alive, Theia,” Bird repeated, sprinting through the town's darkened streets. “I am alive—please, believe me.”
“But I always believe you—I always do, and you never are!” She sobbed. “And in two days the guard will come by and it will all break—break into pieces, and I'll still be in the dark alone and you'll still be dead!”
“In two days you will still be free, and your fever will be gone, and I will still be alive,” he promised. “In two days, I will be by your side, and there will be no guards, and no chains, and there will be light.”
“You promise?” she asked brokenly.
“I do.” He nodded. “I cannot lie to you, Theia. I will bring you a light, in two days, if there is none in the house—I will be with you, and you will not be alone—and as long as I still can protect you, I will never be dead.”
He rounded the corner onto the dirt pathway up the ridge, and she buried her face in the back of his neck. “I wish I could believe you.”
“You can,” he repeated earnestly.
“But the dead ones always lie.”


“You are different, little one, but I still know what you want.” The story keeper turned her around. The empty hallway was full of light, streaming from crooked windowpanes and catching the light of a thousand motes of dust. Faded flowers sat on a windowsill, the blue glass vase thick with dust. Wooden doors were scattered down the hallway, opening by cracks into rooms that held just a glimpse of mystery; strange things that felt familiar and so alien at once. The room was warm, and yellow, and everything she wanted. “You wish for the old things, the mystery and magic you knew when you did not understand. The brilliance of jewels means nothing to you, nor the transient life of flowers. This hallway leads to your dreams; mystery that cannot be exhausted, a world where there is always more to explore—a world where mystery lives on without uncertainty or danger. Listen to my stories, tell me your own, and I will give you this.”


“I... I couldn't feel safe.” She looked down, ashamed. “Not like that.”
“Anastasia,” he growled quietly. “You're an idiot if you think I would ever hurt you.”
“You would,” she whispered. “You wouldn't mean to. I know you wouldn't mean to hurt me, but you... you would.”
“I would not,” he argued, taking her hands in his own with less than his usual roughness. “I couldn't. I won't.”
“I'm sorry.” She put her head on his shoulder, taking in the synthetic warmth. “I want to trust you. But...”
“But I left you,” he finished bitterly, dropping her hands to wrap his arms around her body and entwining his fingers in her hair. “So you can't.”
“It's more than that,” Anastasia admitted as she pulled herself closer to him. “You just... It's not even you.” She ducked her eyes away, burying her face in the crook of his neck. “I can't trust. I never could. I'm sorry.”
He let his face soften, if only for a moment, as he held her so closely that he thought his skin might burn. His fingers ran gently through her hair, combing out the small tangles that plagued it, and Casey wanted so badly to do something, anything, anything he could to comfort her.
“Learn,” he finally whispered.


“She will never be happy in darkness, Spirit!” The rebel drew his sword. “You know that as well as I do.”
“My darkness is less painful than that which you offer her.” The Dead Spirit looked down on him, black cloak swirling around dramatically in the flickering light. “Mine is only a physical darkness—to return with you will sentence her to a hidden life, always watching, always silent.”
“Because she is yours?”
“No, because she was yours,” the Spirit shot back. “She is innocent. Your sin has doomed her. If she returnsss they will take her again, and all will be lost. No, she will not return with you.”
“Then where will she go?” the rebel challenged.
“There are pathsss.” The Spirit circled on the other side of the pond, as if searching for a way across. “I offered you a choice, Fire-bonesss. I offer her the same.”
“She will choose to return to me.”
“Then it will be her choice; I will warn her and protect her if need be. But she is not such a fool as you think—she may leave you yet.” The skull dropped to Paul's level but the shadowy figure still stood tall above him. “You have given her little enough cause to ssstay.”
“You really think she would choose death?” Paul drew his sword with a metallic sssshk. “Enough of you is flesh for me to cut, Spirit!”
“I have never offered death!” The skull rushed back up to where it belonged, and the white bone hands appeared, tense and curled like claws. “She is safe, Fire-bones; safe with me! I am under no obligations to you. Your price will be high if she chooses to return—and I will collect it.” The dark figure leaned over the pond, the beak of the skull inches from Paul's face. “Your ssssoul is not so uninteresting as it once wasss.”
With an angry cry, he swung his sword, aiming for the painted face beneath the skull. The Spirit was too fast, and shot back, out of his reach. Before he could swing again, the skull had vanished, and the shrine was empty once again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The lie

“Clever boy,” the queen gasped, grinning through her pain. “You were always the best of tricksters.”
“What?” Alice asked, glancing over at Quinn.
“And she still doesn't know!” The fat woman barked out a short laugh, grasping tightly at the wound in her side. “Her mighty protector is the thing she fears most! You do more damage than I could ever, Quinn Hunter, Mad Hatter. I should have seen it.”
“Mad... Quinn, what is she talking about?” Alice took a step back, glancing from one to the other.
“Come now, girl, don't be stupid.” The queen glared at her like she was an ugly sore. “You know what I am. But he can see me; he can hurt me. Something nobody else was ever able to do.”
“I told you, Alice,” Quinn lied smoothly, “We're the same brand of crazy. Of course I can see her.”
“Hah,” she stood, wincing from the wound. “Girl, your precious Quinn is the same Mad Hatter you've been running from. He's tricked you, lied to you, betrayed you. He's trying to worm his way back into your mind. He wants to send you back to the hospital.”
“That's not true,” Quinn said, gliding over to her. “I would never hurt you, Alice, ever.”
“But you would lie,” reminded the queen. “And you have; again and again. Even now you lie to her. You are the Hatter.”
Quinn took her hands in his own, but she pushed him away. She stared up at him, hurt in her eyes.
“She's lying,” Alice whispered, looking for any confirmation in his face. He remained stoic. “Tell me she's lying.”
And Quinn looked away.
Alice stepped back, a sob catching in her throat. “No. No no no! I can't believe this!”
“But you do,” the queen hissed, grinning like the cat. “You trusted him, and he betrayed you—he was never your friend from the start.”
“That's a lie,” Quinn finally spoke. “I was your friend, Alice; I still am! Please, trust me—I never meant to hurt you, even from the beginning.”
“No,” she whispered, backing away from him. “Stay away from me.”
Quinn's features began to change as she looked on. His gray wool coat took on a purple tinge, and odd stitching began to weave its way across, changing the fit to make him seem larger, hulking, and less human. His hair pulled itself back, growing longer and spilling over his collar like a waterfall. The fedora warped, twisted, and grew until it was the top hat. His gray gloves became fingerless and brightly colored, his watch chain looped around one shoulder
All that remained unchanged was the card, tucked into the band of his hat, and the strange, haunted look of his dark eyes.
“I'm sorry,” he whispered, almost choked, and pulled the card from the band of his hat.
It was the ace of spades.
Alice stared for a moment, trembling, before she turned and ran. She did not scream, did not cry, simply ran—and that was enough to break him.

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Once upon a time, there lived a fantastic beast; a horned bird that tormented a city by the sea. Nothing could stand before it, and only the winter storm could slay it. But that was long ago, and unremembered, and it has long since died.
Once upon a time, the city by the sea found itself a mighty king, who ruled over great lands. He lived among them, and there he built his palace, overlooking the western shore. Beneath it there were catacombs, dungeons, and darkness. But that was long ago, and he has long since died.
Once upon a time, a monk was falsely accused of murder, and imprisoned beneath the castle. His order built a shrine upon a hillside, on the site of an old spring that had run dry, where they waited and prayed for him. The monks dug into the hillside to build it, and paved a great road with the stone. Two years later, the accused monk appeared in the shrine; the people of the city took it as a miracle and let him go free. But that was long ago, and the little shrine has fallen into disrepair; the monk it saved has long since died.
Once upon a time, the city by the sea was blessed. A man who might have been a prophet said that they would forever prosper, if they never forgot who they were. A great storm blew all around, but never touched the city, and the white walls of the palace shone like a beacon out to the sea. They blessed the man who might have been a prophet, and welcomed in the hundreds of swamped boats as he commanded them. The city became known for kindness, and beauty, and wealth. But the might-be-prophet's words have been almost forgotten, still whispered in proverbs and by old women in their last days. He himself has long since died.
Once upon a time, a selfish king inherited the throne. The city by the sea struggled under his rule. There were whispers that burned through the city like fire, and they forgot how to trust their king, or the nobles, or even themselves. Grief marked them, fear ground their hearts to dust. Their kindness was beaten into obedience, the high-held heads were cut down. Their hearts were burning as they forgot. But that king has died, perhaps not so long ago.
Once upon a time, there was an actor, with great skill in his craft; he made worlds spring to life with his voice, and moved like a dancer in a dream. He knew the powders of the street magicians and the stories of the city, the beast and the monks and the might-have-been-prophet. The court was entranced by him, and he walked among them for a time. But he learned what he should not have learned, watching as he did. And he was falsely accused, and cast down from the light, to the lowest cell of the dungeon to starve.
And perhaps he died.
Once upon a time, a black spirit appeared in his place, clothed in torn robes and wearing the skull of a fantastic beast. It spoke in riddles, could not be caught, blew away like smoke. It brought forth a bleached human skull, and the skull burned.
It called itself the Dead Spirit; it walked in darkness.
Once upon a time was now.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


More random shorts. These are shorter than the last ones, but I still like them all. Maybe not together, but oh well.

“But...” Emily hesitated for a long moment before continuing. “Some people are good.”
“Not all good.” He smiled thinly. “You'll see it more when you get older. But I've never met someone who was all good—and the ones who seemed it at first sometimes turn out to be the worst of the lot. The prince who smiles and laughs and keeps peace with everyone seems good, but he will send a man to his death for nothing, should that man cross him.” The wizard paused for a long moment, clasping his hands in front of his face, his mask of a smile for the moment gone. “They do evil in the name of good. Those are the worst of them; who believe they are righteous. At least a highwayman admits he is stealing.”


Adara paused, watching him carefully. “Why does a spirit of darkness look to the light?”
“We all are attracted to that which we do not have,” The Dead Spirit replied quietly as he washed the dirt out of the wound, letting her blood stream away into the blackness of the cavern beyond. “The moth emerges from its dark cocoon to seek the flame.”
“You could have light,” Adara murmured.
“As the moth can,” the Spirit said. “And it is destroyed.”


“You idiot!” Chester thundered, huge voice defying his small frame. “He's dying for you, and you still can't believe him? He's never wanted to hurt you, Alice!”
“How would you even know?” she sobbed, jerking away. “You've never been there!”
“I've always been there!” Chester caught her again, and she could've sworn his skinny fingers were claws. “As much as he has. And let me tell you something, Alice. If he dies, you're going to die, whether at the hands of the queen and her lot or when that medicine 'saves' you. He's Quinn, he's Hatter, and he has never hurt you.” Chester forced her to look at the fading, stumbling, dying warrior still in the street. “She's not the one killing him, Alice! You are!”


Sometimes, only sometimes, she would see him once more, through the half-conscious fog of the sticky medicine Malise gave her, right before she fell asleep. He would come up the stairs quietly, appearing in the darkness like a ghost with a scarlet mark, so that neither Malise nor Kalida nor Eldon nor their master would know he was there. He would sit with her then, far closer than he did in the mornings or the afternoons—he would touch her hair, and hold her head in his lap, and she would smile up at him in a daze, and when he thought she was asleep, he would whisper things that she could never remember but loved so much to hear. But the feeling of his touch and his quiet voice would send her to sleep again, and when she awoke he'd be far away again, in the wooden chair that seemed a million miles from her bed.
She wanted to call him over to her again, to make him repeat the words that she could never remember until they were burned into her mind, tattooed onto her memories like the scarlet bird. But she didn't. She couldn't. It wouldn't mean anything if she did.


“Well, you have to fix it then.” Emily ventured cautiously. “You keep telling me everyone needs to be responsible for what they do, but if the good man being gone is bad than you need to be a good man too.”
“I could never be him.” The wizard shook his head. “I had too much darkness in me for too long.”
“But you don't have half as much darkness now,” she pointed out. “You do all sorts of nice things.”
“Just because I'm not lost right now doesn't mean I have a map.” He looked up at her with that same false smile. “But I'm alright, I swear. I just don't like to think about it much.”
She examined him. “You're lying.”
“Only halfway.” The smile faltered a little, but then he turned away. “But it's almost dinner. Come help in the kitchen.”

Monday, September 13, 2010

Do Not Die

The blackness was warm, soft, and welcoming. He felt his mind slipping in, slowly, inevitably, like falling asleep or sinking into deep water. It was peaceful, he felt, it was restful, it was right...
It was wrong!
He shot out of it again, fighting. He couldn't remember why it was wrong. Maybe it wasn't wrong. He just didn't know what was right. He needed his master, his master would know, his master would...
His master!
There was an order! He had an order! Finally, finally, after what felt like years! He felt the need to obey surging through him like electricity in his veins. He had to remember, had to obey!
But the blackness was still there, and he was still slipping, and as his mind hazed over again he wondered why he'd been so desperate a minute ago, for not even the peace of a master was like this; not even the peace of a good master...
His master! His good master!
He gasped, his mind suddenly connecting to his lungs and burning like fire. He had to wake up, had to remember, had to obey. He had to obey his master. His master. He couldn't forget, couldn't slip anymore. He forced himself to keep breathing. Remember to breath. Remember your master. Remember your order.
He couldn't remember. The blackness had stolen it.
He fought, clinging to the fire in his body like a lifeline. Pain kept him awake, pain kept him here. Breathe in, breathe out. He had to remember to breathe. He had to remember his master.
The pain was burning into his body, into his mind now. What was the order, what was the order. The fire was burning away the darkness, what was his order?
Don't die, Bird.
Don't you dare die.

That was the order. He breathed out in relief, before panic hit him. The blackness was death, that tempting peace was death. He had almost disobeyed! His master had ordered him and he had almost disobeyed!
He forced himself to keep breathing, letting the fire burn through him. The rest of his body was coming into sharp clarity now, blackness pushed back by the pain in his lungs. He had feet to run with, hands to serve with. Everything was still there and burning. There was a strange wetness running down his hands. Blood. One of his legs felt strange. Broken. He couldn't move his arms. Trapped.
He ignored it all, focusing his mind to burn through the blackness that remained. It was raging against him now, fighting all the stronger for his defiance. It no longer seemed the soft, restful thing it had been moments before, but a raging beast, more terrifying than anything he had ever faced. He felt fear, then, stronger than he had ever known. Stronger than loyalty, stronger than contentment, stronger than love...
His master.
He surged against the blackness, then, fueled by a fire other than pain, fighting it with every resource he had. He dragged his mind awake, pulled his consciousness together so it was focused behind his eyes. He couldn't let it win. He had to destroy it, had to, had to, Theia had ordered him. Theia had ordered him. She wouldn't abandon him, he just had to fight this, stay alive, stay awake until she came for him, came to order it away and tell him he had done well. She had ordered him to live. He would live. He would.
The pain wasn't his friend anymore, fire turning into ashes and welcoming the darkness back in. The darkness was stronger now, surging against him like he'd surged against it. He never relented.
He gritted his teeth, fighting for what felt like hours, forcing himself to breathe. He ignored the pain, tuning out every part of his body but his burning lungs and the focused self behind his eyes. I am iscovo, my masters will is my own, he repeated to himself again and again, growling at the darkness like a caged animal. What my master has willed I will do. My hands will be useful, he clenched his hands into fists. My feet will be swift. He moved them a little, ignoring the knife of pain this sent up his leg. And my eyes will see...
He burst into consciousness, his eyes snapping open to see white light, and the arched ceiling of the healers chambers, and Her.
Small thing I wrote for a character named Bird. He's a chimera, so the master thing isn't *that* weird. Anyway, not sure how well I like it. Tell me what you think!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fashion Advice

“You have the worst taste in clothing, human.” Wisp curled around the closet bar, calmly sorting through her shirts. “I assure you you are not an autumn. Oh dear, is that glitter?”
“My name is Amelia,” she corrected for the millionth time. “Get out of my closet.”
“I'm waiting for the rat to come out.” The tiny dragon gestured to a little hole in the corner of the floor. She felt a little nauseous at the thought, and looked away. “And I decided to take the opportunity to examine your wardrobe. You have very little taste.”
“You don't even wear clothes!” she objected. “How would you even know?”
“I have seen many fashions come and go! I am an expert. I watched Style and You for four years.”
“...You watch television.”
“It is my great regret that you don't own one.” The dragon shook his head. “A pity. I think you would benefit from Our Host Jennifer's wisdom.”
“Oh yeah?” Amelia raised one eyebrow, tugging her favorite shirt away from the dragon's claws. “Then enlighten me.”
“For starters, you are not an autumn. You are a spring. Glitter is so last year, and you seem to favor the 'baggy old lady' style of shirts.”
She blinked. “My shirts are not...”
“And,” he continued, “Your jeans are an unflattering cut for you—you want to emphasize the length of the leg and diminish the hip with your body type.”
“Excuse me?”
“You have no accessories, your shoes are hardly suitable for yardwork, and Oh My Gosh, girl, you need help.” The dragon looked smug.
She stared for a moment. “...Get out of my closet.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Brief Explanation: Bird is a chimera (engineered companion/slave) separated from his master by Rolland and those he works for, on threat of killing the people Bird works to protect. Bird is known to be almost completely emotionless, and impossible to provoke. That does not stop Rolland from trying.

“Can you imagine? Can you dream?” Rolland taunted, tossing the killswitch from hand to hand. “I imagine not.”
Bird watched him silently, seemingly impassive, with his long tail sweeping the forest floor behind him.
“I've heard you can't even want. Makes this seem so much emptier.” He sighed. “Taunting you is no good. You can't want to make me stop, can't want to kill me. No matter what I do or say. No matter what I tell you.” Rolland sauntered casually over to the chimera, leaning in close. “I could say that I'm going to be the one to kill you. I could say that you're probably the last of your kind. I could even tell you what King plans to do with your precious master—he's giving her to me.” The captain grinned. “Pretty, isn't she? Not that you'd know. But she'll be mine, and mine alone, my mate—does that upset you?”
There was a soft crack as Bird's feet left the ground, and a loud thump as Rolland's body found the wall behind him. He found himself suspended nearly a foot off the ground, pinned against the wall with Bird's hands around his throat, squeezing so tightly that he could barely breathe.
“You have no idea, do you.” The chimera's level voice was rife with cold steel. “I can imagine. I have always been able to dream. And you cannot hope to understand how much I want.” His grip tightened marginally. “I shouldn't. I'm not built for it. If that makes me defective, then fine. I'm defective. But I do want. And right now, I want to kill you.”
Rolland struggled to breathe, fumbling with the killswitch in his hand.
“You threaten the children. You threaten me. And now you dare to even suggest that you would lay a finger on my master...” Bird's eyes narrowed. “Yes. I very much do want to kill you.”
There was a sudden beeping noise, high and piercing. Bird started, glancing over to its source.
The killswitch.
“Oops,” Rolland choked out laughingly, releasing his grip on the button. Bird stared at the silver device in horror.
“Who?” he whispered quietly, loosing his grip on Rolland's throat so much that the man fell a few inches.
Rolland grinned again. “Mikhail.”

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Dead Spirit

The prison cell at the end of the hall was built almost like an amphitheater. The bars formed a small stage at the center of a wide half-circle of cell, almost completely dark except for the flickering torchlight from the hallway behind them, extending into endless blackness. Perhaps more unnerving were the hundreds of carved symbols, of every color of wood and stone, hanging like gallows from the bars. The prisoner examined it through a swollen black eye, then swallowed hard before the captain shoved him forwards again, closer to the bars.
“Y'think the dead spirit will go for him?” One of the guards whispered to his companion, his free hand edging closer to his blade. “I mean, 'e's kinda skinny.”
“Dead Spirit don't go for bodies, idiot,” the other whispered. “Goes for souls, and then the bones burn up. You've seen it.”
“Yeah, but...” he glanced at the shackled man behind them. “Y'sure 'e's got a soul?”
“Don't matter, numbskull.” The second guard fumbled with his keys. “We just gotta get 'im in before the spirit shows up, and not be 'ere when 'e does. If the spirit don't get 'im, 'e'll just starve. Same deal.” He pried the sticky lock open, and the gate creaked open into the cell.
“Yeah, but... Look out!” The first guard slammed the gate shut again as something white flashed into existence in the back of the cell. “It's the spirit!”
The second guard swore profusely, stumbling backwards away from the bars. “No way no how am I opening that door with that spirit in there.”
“Come on, you two.” The captain spoke up from behind the group. “It's gone. Look.” Sure enough, the cell was nothing but empty blackness again. “Get that door open.”
The second guard fumbled with the keys again, but as soon as the lock clicked, the white returned. He locked it again instantly. “He's watchin' for us.”
“The spirit cannot make you any less alive than the king can,” reminded the captain. “Open the door.”
“'Ey, 'ow's about this?” The first guard spoke up again. “We keep this one in another cell for a couple hours. Once the spirit's gone, we come back, toss 'im in, and run. King don't gotta know 'e's not dead yet.”
“No, we do it now.” The captain pulled his blade. “Or else we'll find how well the Dead Spirit likes the souls of cowards.”
A sudden breeze flowed through the hallway, chillingly cold, coming from the darkness in the back of the cell. The lamps flickered, and one went out. The first guard took a step back in fear.
“Cowardssss...” A thin, raspy voice finally came, echoing around them in the darkened hallway. “Taste of unripe fruit, of sawdust, of old dreams. Perhapsss I should prefer a murderer?” The spirit's tone lilted upwards on the last word, curious and half excited. “You smell of empty pride, and innocent blood. Do come closer, Cap-tain.” The white object began to slowly appear again, resolving itself into the twisted skull of some gigantic bird,with dark patterns carved into the bone. Horns like an antelope's jabbed upwards from the skull, with a net of tangled white string hanging between them, decorated with black feathers and glass beads. It tilted to one side, then the other, as it approached, moving back and forth, up and down with a tuneless rhythm. The other guard took two steps back, mirroring his companion. “Yes, yesss, I smell it on you. Your blade holds nothing but tatters of old soulsss, musty and dry. Do come in, cap-tain.” A claw-like hand of bleached bone appeared from the blackness to reach out for the bars, but stopped short over one of the runes. “I will speak with thee.”
“Dead Spirit, we are honored.” The captain fought to keep his nerve, tightening his grip on the handle of the sword. “We bring you a sacrifice; a rebel and a traitor.”
“He who has spoken to the queen,” The spirit tilted its head again, and beneath the skull the prisoner could see an almost human looking face, painted black save for a row of painted teeth stretching around its face in a hideous grin. “Is he traitor, or is he advocate?”
“Traitor.” The captain narrowed his gaze at the elusive spirit. “He is yours.”
“Are you ssssure you do not want to come in, cap-tain?” The spirit moved silently and smoothly around the bars, bone-clawed hands pausing only briefly over each of the hundreds of runes. “It shall not be painful.”
“This one is yours,” the captain repeated. “No other.”
“Pity.” The spirit seemed to deflate a bit before it stood straight, suddenly towering over them all. “Then he is mine. I allow you to open the door, sssaw-dust-soul. But ssstep not inside.” The bleached bone hands withdrew into the shadow, and the spirit quickly followed. The four men stared after it into the darkness.
“Well,” the captain finally said, “You heard it. Throw him in!”

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Predawn Warning

“Oi, what do you want now?” Sajan grumbled, trying to grab the blanket back. “It's early! And it's your watch, you stupid thing!”
The dragon snorted, sending scorching hot air across his exposed skin. Ryven flipped him over with an immense closed forepaw, very deliberately reminding the man how much larger Ryven was than himself. He stared upwards in surprise at the glaring blue eyes that glinted in the predawn light.
“Ok then.” He sat up, and the dragon backed off a bit. “What?”
Ryven turned his head away, gesturing down the slope of the hill. The musician followed his gaze, then looked back at the dragon.
“...It's a hill.”
The dragon snorted again, making the tips of his messy hair sizzle.
“Ok, fine, I'll go look.” Sajan stood quietly, glancing over at where K slept curled up near where dragon's chest had rested. “Stupid dragon,” he muttered. “Too early for this.”
He trudged on down the hill, being forcibly shoved by the dragon following close behind him whenever he started to stop. He finally reached the bottom, and looked up at the dragon expectantly.
“Well, nothing here. Small trees, grass and shrubbery, just like... Oh.” He caught sight of the hill above them that they'd just passed over, all the way from the campsite down.
Thin patterns had been burned into the shrubbery, hardly noticeable from any other angle. They stretched all up and down the hill, very clearly fresh. He stared for a moment, trying to make sense of them, before the dragon glanced down at him, and seeing his confusion, picked him up by the back of his shirt, dragged him twenty feet to the left, and deposited him unceremoniously on the ground. He considered protesting this before he noticed that from this angle, the burned patterns looked to form letters.
Stay. Away. From. Her.
He stared a moment longer, then glanced up at the dragon. “....Right.”
He could have sworn the dragon was smiling.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Story bits again

“Eli, think about it.” The man's smooth voice carried almost effortlessly across the scarred remains of the arena. “Control over your own life. Remember how it was? When you could hide your shell where nobody could see it, where nobody could find it. You wouldn't have to worry about it getting into trouble, would you—it stays where you left it, right where you want it. It doesn't have those notions of kindness, empathy, dignity. It doesn't get itself into danger and need you to get it out.”
Eli was silent, watching the man with emotionless black eyes. Young watched nervously from her cell.
“And she... What is she to you but a prison? Don't do this, don't do that, peace, compassion, mercy. How much easier would your life be if you simply took what you wanted again, without that weak human stopping you?” He held out the pristine shell towards Eli. “Take it, Eli. It is your freedom, your right as one of your kind. I offer you new life!”
He stood for a moment longer without speaking. The entire arena seemed to fall silent, waiting for the enormous creature to make his decision.
Eli reached out one three fingered hand towards the sphere. The robed man grinned, and held the sphere high.“This is your right, Eli. Be your own once more.”
Then all at once white energy sparked from nowhere and everywhere, shooting out from Eli's hand to shatter the sphere completely. The confident grin suddenly fell to an expression of shock, and the hooded man took a step back, only to find his feet bound in place by the same power that had shattered the sphere. The shock turned to fear as Eli approached, rising up to his full height.
“I would be a fool.” The massive hand wrapped around the strange man's neck, lifting him helplessly off the ground. “Do not question that you will die today. Make it easier by telling me where you have hidden her.”

“Everything I've built my life on is changing. There's nothing to hold on to anymore; I can't... I can't deal with this!”
“It's terrifying, isn't it?” he asked quietly, without any of his usual exuberance. He sat next to her, calmly folding his thin hands in his lap. “Like the whole world is falling through your fingers.”
“I can't deal with this,” she repeated, a little more quietly as she felt the tears begin to come. “I can't believe... Can't believe he would really do that. Any of that—I mean, I've known him since forever, and...”
“Shh.” He put a hand to her shoulder, snapping her out of the panic she was descending into. “I know.”
“How could you know?”
He smiled thinly. “Some things are better left unsaid.” He sighed. “But you can't let it break you. It only feels like the world is falling apart—you have to know it isn't.”
“What isn't?” She whirled on him, tears in her eyes. “My brother is dead, my fiancee killed him, my home is gone and everything I've ever believed in was a lie!”
“Not everything.” He cut her off, taking her hand gently in his own. “The basics are still there. There is still enough truth in the world to hold it together, you know.”
“Like what?” She asked, sniffling.
“Well, to start with...” he pulled her hand up to match his own. “You have five fingers on each hand, and so do I. So did Eric, and he loved you.” He moved his hand away, and pulled a dove from nowhere. “Gravity is strong, and always goes the same way, but even doves can beat it. Feathers,” here he placed the dove in her outstretched palm, “are softer than bones, but you still need both to fly.” He looked her in the eye. “There are still truths to the world, you see, even when everything else turns out to be a lie. Remember these and it will be a bit easier.”
“Just a bit?”
“Yes.” He nodded quietly. “It will still be hard, and it will still hurt for a long time—probably forever. But you have to remember that there is still ground beneath you and a sky above you; you are not falling, and you are not helpless, and someday, eventually, you will be alright again.”

Joey pulled Finnian forcibly to his feet. “I refuse to let you kill yourself like this!”
“Why should you care?” Finnian looked away again. “I betrayed you. I betrayed your whole world. I'm s'kiav, untrustable! Worthless!”
“I care because you are my friend, Finnian! It does not matter what you have said is truth and what is lie now. Your actions are more proven than your words.” The illican knelt so they were finally on eye level with each other. “If this is unacceptable, then I shall be nicadahne instead of friend, and care for you as I care for all. But that is a lie to myself and to you. You are my friend. I will not allow you to die.”
They were silent for a moment longer, Finnian still refusing to meet Joey's gaze.
“There is a word the outsiders use. If you do not understand why I wish to care for you, perhaps you will understand Forgive.” Joey spoke very quietly, never letting up on his grip. “Because I have not understood it before now. It is a giving up of hurts to free us both. So I forgive you, Finnian. Do you understand this?”
“I don't deserve it.”
“You don't need to.”

Monday, May 31, 2010

Telepathy 101

Kind of a continuation of yesterdays post. Enjoy.

“Ok, I got this book at the library.” Seth pulled it from the bag, setting it on the bed between them, and she read the title.
“Understanding telepathy?”
“I read the first couple chapters. It had a couple testimonials from telepaths who talked about how they controlled it.” He flipped it open, pointing to a long quote on the page. “Most of them seem to agree it's about imagining a mechanism of some kind that can be opened or closed, like a door. When they want to use their powers, they open the door a bit, and when they want to not use their powers they close it.”
“So my door is stuck open.”
“That's what I'm guessing.” He shrugged. “Anyway. They're a bit more vague on how to pick who you're trying to listen to. I guess you just try to hear a voice, like trying to pick a voice out of a choir. You can read it if you want, but I don't know it'll help.”
“Hm.” She leafed through the book as he watched. “I think I know what they mean about the voice thing. People's mental voices sound kinda like their physical ones. I did what you said last time, though,” she remarked, “with the trying to match voices with people. And I think you're right; as far as I can tell every voice I'm hearing belongs to an individual..”
“So can you pick out an individual one?”
“Not really.” She shook her head. “I can pick just one to listen to, but I can't make the others stop.”
“Hm.” Seth shook his head. “Weird. Anyway, I think you should try it with the hat on.”
“You're sure about that?”
“Yeah. I mean, if you could figure out how to get the so-called door moving with the hat on, maybe you could figure out how to actually shut the thing.” He shrugged. “Worth a shot.”
“True.” She nodded thoughtfully. “But hey, I was wondering something. You said you could see the energy field my head makes?”
“Yeah, sure.” He nodded. “Easy.”
“And you control energy fields, right?”
“Yeah, though I couldn't stop your powers permanently, if that's what you're asking.”
“No.” She shook her head. “I'm gonna try it. But if something goes wrong that you can see, could you... hold it off or something?”
“I guess.” Seth nodded again, letting his hands glow slightly. “Try to read my mind, then. Whenever you're ready.”
“You're sure?” Sam looked unsure again. “I don't know if this will work. If I really do have superpowers, what if I hurt you somehow?”
“Then I'll use my superpowers to pry your superpowers off my head.” He smiled briefly. “Just try it.”
She crossed her legs, sitting indian style across from him on the bed. “Ok. Think of something, and I'll try to see if I can read your mind.”
He nodded, and she closed her eyes, straining through the silence in her mind to hear his voice. At first there was nothing but darkness, but quickly enough...
He watched as the energy field around her head slowly began to focus itself, expanding slightly as she concentrated. Seth wondered briefly why her energy field was always the same color, and wondered if it was like that for everyone. He also wondered if she would appreciate being told that she was a deep reddish purple.
There were faint whispers now. She listened closely, focusing in on one that sounded like her friend, blocking the others out. She retreated a little bit, taking the shred of the voice with her, and trying to concentrate on it and all else.
“Peony. Is that what it's called?” It sounded almost exactly like him, though it echoed a bit and there were whispering tangents falling off it. “What is her favorite color anyway, maybe I should tell her she's that. Wait, elephants elephants elephants elephants should think of elephants but newspaper clippings—hey, I was looking for that one! Wait, elephants, not newspaper clippings. Big happy elephants, peanuts circuses elephants, creepy sideshow guy that came through town last year elephants.” She concentrated further.. He was thinking of elephants, but having difficulty keeping his mind on that one spot alone. Images of elephants flashed into her vision, and she tried to push the voice back a little. She could see into his head, not just hear it. That was unexpected. She considered ending her concentration, but curiosity pulled the voice closer to her again. Pictures of elephants, trailing off into brief spurts of memory or distraction. It was amazing how well she could see into his mind, how well she could hear him now, almost as if she were no longer in her own mind, but...
She lost control, suddenly, and the voice overtook her. A new image filled her eyes, and the voice vanished-it felt like his thoughts were literally inside her head. But she could see herself, sitting cross legged across the bed, frozen with her eyes suddenly wide open. A bright light surrounded her head, in a deep reddish-purple, the color writhing and expanding suddenly. Part of it seemed to be connected to the head she now was in. The whole world looked startlingly different—streams of color ran through the wall in wires, her computer glowed green, her alarm clock looked yellow. In every direction there were tints of neon brightness, and suddenly, she realized what was happening. She was seeing through Seth's eyes—she was literally inside his head. She felt fear rushing up from somewhere that was not her, and she felt a hand move, then saw it—Seth's hand, reaching out towards the body that she was no longer in.
“Sam?” His voice asked, and she felt him speak it, heard it with his ears. “Sam! Sam, are you alright?”
“I'm fine,” she said quickly, out of reflex. He spoke those words in the same instant, and then suddenly looked extremely alarmed.
“...Sam, what on...”
“I lost control. I don't know what happened.” He managed to stop saying her words about halfway through the second sentence, listening instead to her voice somewhere in the middle of his skull.
"Sam," he asked softly, “Why are you in my head?”

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Voices, hats, and superpowers

“So you can't hear the voices when you have a hat on?”
“Nope.” She shook her head, wincing as she took her hat off. “I line them with tinfoil. That's what does it.”
He took the hat from her hand and examined it. “Wait, you have the shiny side on the inside.”
“Is that that that unusual?” She took the hat back from him, placing it on her head.
“I thought the shiny side was supposed to be out.” He shook his head. “Something about it deflecting mind control waves or something.”
“Huh.” She narrowed her eyes in thought. “It definitely has no effect on mind control waves. From what I've heard mind control is really difficult to block—you need an interfering circuit, and...”
“It's alright, nevermind.” Seth glanced up at the web of twine and newspaper strewn across the ceiling. “So, assuming you're not crazy...”
“I'm not,” she said defensively.
“Then where are the voices coming from?” he finished. “They can't just be coming from nowhere.”
“I... I used to think they were trying to talk to me.” She glanced over at him. “But half the time they're ignoring me, or talking about something else. I think they're something natural that I just happen to be able to hear.”
He thought for a moment. “So you're psychic or something?”
“I guess.” She wrapped her arms around her knees.
“So that would make the voices other people's thoughts.”
“That's one theory.” She nodded. “I've thought about it sometimes. It would make a lot of sense if it's true.”
“Can you control what voices you hear?”
“No.” She shook her head. “I told you, it's a sea of noise. I can barely pick out one over the other.”
“What about when you have the hat on?”
“...I can't hear anything when I have the hat on.” Sam looked at him skeptically. “I just told you that.”
“Have you tried?”
“Why would I want to?” She flopped back on the bed, staring upwards. “The hat makes the voices be quiet. It's the only time I can hear myself think. If I try to hear them, maybe it'll make a way for them to get in, and then where would I be?”
“You could just make a new hat.”
“That's not what I mean. I mean, if I open that door in my head, I don't know if I can close it.”
“No, you could. It's not a door.” Seth rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “I told you I can see energy fields if I want to. That includes mental energy, and well... You've got one heck of a field.” He looked away, out the tiny window and across the street. “That hat contains it.”
“Really?” Sam sat up again, torn between skepticism and hope. “Is that how it works?”
“I think so. But there are still edges getting out. I think if you tried to control it, you could focus that small amount enough to hear someone's thoughts.”
“So what, I can control what I hear?”
“I guess.” He shrugged. “I don't know. All I know about powers like this are from a couple of self-help books my mom made me read. But it seems like it'd be a good thing to try, right?”
“Sure.” She stared at her hands. “I just don't know where to start.” She paused for a moment, realizing what he'd said. “Wait, powers?”
“Sure. Telepathy. You read people's minds.” He nodded. “It's a superpower.”
“...Huh.” She looked thoughtful. “I'd... never thought of it that way.”
“Sheesh, it's either superpowers or insanity. And you keep saying you're not insane, so...”
“I'm not!”
“So it's superpowers.” Seth shrugged. “Question is, how do you control it?”
“I... have no idea.” Sam looked away again. “Tinfoil?”
“Well, other than that. I mean, can you like, do some kind of insane yoga concentration thing, or...” he gestured vaguely around his head. “Something with your hands, I guess?” She laughed, and he pouted. “I'm serious! There's always hand signals in the movies.”
“I really don't know.” She shook her head. “I've never tried it.”
He shook his head. “I just don't understand how you didn't think of this before.”
Sam smiled a little. “You try sharing your head with a million voices and see how well you do.”

Thursday, May 27, 2010


No parent ever expects their child to go crazy.
But she had, undoubtedly. Their beautiful eight year old tomboy daughter had started hearing whispers, just lightly at first, so barely there that they though it might be her very active imagination. She told them it was like the wind was telling her something, and she had to be very quiet to hear.
But the whispers were not what made her crazy.
As she got older, they caught her flinching, or twitching, or covering her ears when she didn't think they were looking. In completely silent places she spoke loudly, as if trying to speak over something. She started looking tired; her schoolwork suffered, and she didn't want to do anything but lie her head on the table and stare with open eyes at the grain of the wood. They asked her what was wrong.
The whispers had stopped being whispers.
Every day, when she got up, the whispers had gotten a little louder, just enough, she said, that she barely noticed. She'd thought she was just getting better at listening, but no. There were thousands of voices now, she said, that talked constantly, saying things that made no sense and repeating themselves and randomly coming and going. It was a sea of noise, and she had no way of stopping it.
She woke up screaming when she was twelve. They asked her why. She said she'd been murdered, and then she'd been the murderer. She said the body was in a dumpster two blocks down.
That was where the police found it.
She didn't want to sleep anymore, but her body fought her until she lost. The visions were always terrible, more realistic than any dream, feeling pain and pleasure as if she really were there. She woke up staggeringly drunk one morning, and it took a few minutes for her to return to normal. Another day she woke up asking what cocaine was, and why it made her see such strange things in the dream. Her parents worried, but she never left the house at night. She began stuttering, repeating entire words and phrases, going off on wild tangents as she struggled to think clearly. She could barely go to school, she was so exhausted, and her classmates were not kind.
They decided to move, thinking the change might do her good. A little town called Springfield seemed like a good choice at the time—her father got a job fixing computers, and her mother substituted at the elementary school. They were sure, that without the depravity surrounding them in the city, their daughter would get better—the dreams were surely subconscious wonderings, and the voices the product of stress and fear. It would get better.
It got worse.
There was no doubt, now, that she was insane. She refused to see the doctor, screaming about the noises the voices made around him, fighting and thrashing until she escaped the office. There was scarcely a day that the school did not call home to ask about her, if she'd been sleeping, if everything was alright at home. The stuttering got worse. The psychiatrist said she was schizophrenic, and gave them some medication. Nothing got better—the dreams consumed her in her waking hours now, too, freezing her in place as she watched something they couldn't see with wild blue eyes. They had to check, every day, if she'd taken the medication. They caught her throwing it away or flushing it down the sink more often than not. Her father had to sit on her, once, so that she would stop flailing long enough for her mother to force it down her throat.
It wasn't like she hadn't fought for her sanity. Every waking moment was dedicated to making sense of her world, and the results stretched out in newspaper clippings and scribbled dreams across every wall and surface of her room, connected with a web of twine and bright blue yarn. She theorized, trying to think clearly through the wild tangle of voices, trying to come up with something, anything, that would explain her misery.
No parent ever expects their child to go crazy.
Not many know how to deal with it when it happens.
Her mother clung to her husband, turning to him as her rock as her dreams for her daughter's future unraveled before her eyes. He stopped looking at his daughter, seeing straight through her when she had an episode, shutting his emotions off when she broke down screaming, looking away when she huddled on the floor sobbing. They were not a happy family anymore.
They came home one day to a silent house. Her backpack sat in the hallway, but there were no sobs, no screams, no nonsensical ramblings. Her mother assumed the worst, and ran to her room, with her father following close behind.
And they found her there, curled up in a ball on top of the sheets, with tinfoil wrapped around her head, completely silent, and for once, for the first time since she was eight, completely at peace.
“It makes the voices stop,” she'd said, without stuttering at all. “I can't hear any of them—it's quiet now. I like it.”
They'd looked at each other, unsure of how to respond. She was quiet, still, happy, sane, for the first time in years. But neither dared let down their defenses; they'd been guarded for so long that they'd almost forgotten how to love her.
They bought her hats, and sewed tinfoil into them. She wore them to school, and her grades improved immediately. The teachers stopped calling home. The medication wasn't an issue anymore. She didn't wake up screaming, or stutter, or freeze for minutes on end. Her father could look at her, her mother could smile.
They were almost happy.
They should have known it wouldn't last.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Signs

Brief explanation: I've written a rather lot of merperson mythology. The solstice child is believed by the aqueans (merpeople) to be the one who will end their world. So what, logically, should his mother do when he's born?

She could no longer ignore the signs.
A golden child, he was. That she couldn't deny, even if she wanted to—his eyes and scales were amber and sunsets. But so had her grandfather been, and he hadn't been the solstice child, now had he?
But her grandfather hadn't been born in the darkest hour of the summer solstice, thanks to his parent's foolishness in conceiving him at the right time of year, thanks to his mothers foolishness in traveling despite being heavily pregnant, thanks to the warm summer night that hadn't killed him instantly with the shock of cold like most babies. That she could ignore, or deny, or tell others differently—for all anyone but she and his father knew, he had been born two days after the solstice. Still close, but clearly not the prophesied child, just enough to save him from suspicion and ire.
But she knew differently, and her own suspicion was one she could not save him from.
Born on the summer solstice solstice, when seven (and she'd counted, and his father had counted, and both shook their heads and desperately, desperately hoped they had counted wrong) stars had fallen across the night sky, a golden child. They whispered quietly to each other—should they let him live? If he was the child of prophecy, then to save their world—to save themselves, their family—he had to die. Was it not better to kill him before he had the chance to know his fate?
But no. No. They could never—would never. The golden child had lived, in the hopes that he was not the child they thought he was, that he would grow to be insignificant and normal, and live a happy life regardless of the foolishness that gave it to him.
But they knew, from the time he was old enough to swim away, that this was a false hope.
The dolphins loved him. His father had started to think he would go insane if he had to listen to their chatter for one moment longer—but the child laughed as the friendly bunch poked their noses into his soft belly. When he began to swim, they swam with him, chattering so fast that not even the elder of the pod could understand their language. He learned to hunt among the dolphins before he learned among his pod, and chattered with them in the bright squeaks and whistles. His mother almost smiled.
And the dolphins shall know him, as they know my child Feldspar, and they shall teach him...
Almost as soon as he'd learned to speak, he'd learned to sing. He started off simply—a single toned voice much like any other child, singing back the songs she'd sung to him as a baby. But there were other melodies, that emerged not long after, blending into two vocal tones, then three, then four—an impressive voice, even for an adult, and especially impressive for a child. But the songs were different, with words and phrases he'd never heard, then ones his parents had never heard. She didn't want to ask.
Illa shall sing with him, and teach him all her songs...
On occasion, they would visit the shore, and lie on their backs on the smooth rocks at low tide. He would lie next to her, nesting between her arm and the bend of her hip, staring upwards in wonder at the stars. She asked him what he saw, and tried very hard not to cry as he identified the constellations, one by one, without ever being told.
She didn't want to believe it.
The stars will be as simple as the water, as Somin tells all he knows.
He loved to play, with the dolphins or anyone who was willing. The dolphins didn't play with him as much when their pod joined to a larger one, but there was still always a few tagging along behind. The other children—who were always bigger or smaller than him by half a year—taught him a few games. The dolphins foiled his every attempt at hide and seek. He was a fair shot at tag. He lagged a bit at catch-the-otter, but that was alright. But he came up with new games, other games, and soon the adults began to ask their children where these strange games had come from. They told, and he was asked.
“There's someone in a dream who tells me about them,” he said. “Just like the one who told me about the stars.”
And Hollin shall teach him games, as he has always taught my children, and he shall play...
It was possible, at this point, for her to still imagine he was not the solstice child. The six children of legend had been known to visit some in dreams and teach them great things, and though it might have been a stretch of the imagination to believe that four of them would bless her child, it was not impossible. And even a desperate hope is better than none.
But she still knew, in her heart, that he was.
They left the new pod not long after that.
They found ruins, from before Alanti, and stayed there for a few days. The buildings were alien to all of them, the carvings barely perceptible, and the runes meaningless—but he understood them. She found him explaining to one of the younger children what the carvings meant, what the runes meant, the stories they told, as clearly and as plainly as if it were as simple as what fish you would eat and what would eat you. She could not turn away, as if in horror.
Karo shall teach him words, letters, all that shall be lost to you...
It was in his twelfth year, at the solstice festival, that she finally, finally, could not deny it any longer. The elder was telling a story, that he had never heard—she knew he had never heard, for it was one she hadn't heard since she was a child, one of those stories that by tradition was only told every fourteen years, to mark the fourteen the solstice child would one day (not yet, she hoped) be among them. He nudged her again, and again, until she finally whispered, “What?”
“Mama, he's got the story wrong!”
She asked him how. He told her the way the story was supposed to be—the way she's heard it as a child. When he finished, she realized the whole gathering was watching him, listening in rapt attention to the true and real story. The elder had fallen silent.
So she asked him, late that night when none were listening, where he had heard the story, and why he knew it so well.
“She tells me—a girl a lot older than me, but not a grownup. She's purple.”
“Is she like the one who told you about the stars?”
“And the songs, and the runes, and the games, and the dolphins, Mama!” He nodded. “They talk to me when I'm sleeping.”
And Urma shall tell him her stories, though they may pass away in time, he shall know them...
“How many of them,” she'd asked carefully, “do you see?”
“Seven, Mama.”
“You mean six,” she corrected quickly, hoping so desperately he was wrong.
“No, Mama. There are seven.”
Though all may see these six in dreams, to hear the stories or learn the stars, only the Child shall see the seventh.
And Antioch shall guide him.

She could not deny the signs any longer.
They had to kill him.
She didn't want to. What mother would, what father would? They loved him, even if he was the solstice child, even if the world would end, he was still their child, their only child. They made a knife from obsidian shards, and tucked it away with a quiet promise to each other that tomorrow, tomorrow, the deed would be done.
Tomorrow came and went, again and again. The deed was not done, never done, not for another year. He was only twelve, they still had time—another day would not destroy the world. His father gave him the knife as a present two days after his thirteenth birthday, on the day he thought he had been born.
He was old enough to hunt on his own, among the dolphins that still followed him. He was old enough to wind shells and coins and tattered rope into a bracelet for his mother, and another for himself. He was old enough to understand and fear the coming of the solstice child.
He was not old enough to understand that he was the solstice child.
The days flickered past. She knew they had to kill him soon, before the fourteenth year, before he was taken from them and all hope was lost. His father became a little more resolute on the matter, steeling his nerves, determined not to force his wife to do it. They made another knife, larger, more deadly—the first one had gotten a little chipped in the hands of their son.
They would explain it to him. It wasn't fair any other way—his mother wished more than anything that they had killed him before he was old enough to love them. He had to understand what he was, what he was destined to do. How that destiny had to be fought. Why. The death would be swift. She knew it would still be hard, still be painful. But he would at least know, and his spirit would be free to wander.
But the days still washed by them like waves, and time was running short.
They fixed a date. The day they were intended to leave for the solstice festival. He would be sent out to hunt, so they would be late. The others would leave them behind, and they would be free to do the deed alone. He would return, ask where the others had gone, and it would be explained. The deed would be done. The world would be saved.
He was sent off to hunt.
The others left.
And they waited.
And waited.
And waited.
And waited.
And he never returned.
She did not know if Antioch had guided him away from them, or if he had understood more than they knew. Perhaps some chance circumstance had done the deed for them, a shark, an orca, a fisherman's net. She grieved for him if he was dead.
She grieved for the world if he were alive.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lies and Magic

“I'm not lying. I don't lie.” The magician tossed the silver rings from one hand to the other. “Or at least, I do my best not to.”
“You're a magician. Everything you do is a lie.” The inventor shook his head, watching the smaller man carefully. “By definition, I mean.”
“Not really.” The smaller man looked rueful. “Those lies are what makes it so hard for you to believe in me. But I'm not lying.”
“Why on earth not?”
“Because falsehood is the death of magic. It's what makes most of us, yeah, but once you learn, just once, that the magic is a trick...” he pulled the rings apart effortlessly, snapped them back together, twisted them in and out as he spoke, “You never believe again. You find it amazing, but... you never really trust in it. Every trick is just a trick, that you're an inch away from figuring out.” He tossed the rings into the air, and they vanished. “So if I trick you again and again, then when I want to show you something real...” He pulled the rings out of his sleeve. “You won't believe me.”
“We don't believe you anyway.”
“Which is why I never lie.” The magician smiled. “So when I find some real magic...” He put a hand to the windowpane, glancing out at the darkened sky. “You'll believe it really is.”
The world outside suddenly exploded into light, as a thousand tiny lights rushed by the windows of the airship, swirling in the drafts kicked up by its wings and dancing around like an enormous ballet. Amongst the lights were doves, diving in and out of the chaos with swooping wings and snow-white feathers. The inventor's jaw dropped.
“How did you...”
“I didn't do a thing.” The magician smiled. “That, my friend, was entirely real.”
“I think...” the magician trailed off, watching the display with hidden eyes, “The trick to magic, if you will, is believing it will be. Magic, that is. Whether you find that in one of my little tricks or in the sunset or the sea or the patterns of light coming through the trees is up to you. Or even,” he motioned to the fantastic display outside the window, “something as simple as a swarm of fireflies. There's magic in all of them, if you choose to believe it.”
“And if I don't?”
“Then there isn't. You can go on living as if magic doesn't exist.” He sighed, and began to twist the silver rings again. "But that, to me, seems like just about the worst way to live. Why not simply believe?"

Sunday, April 04, 2010

In the Solution

The room was silent, totally silent, as he waited. The vent above his head didn't rattle; the hardwood chair didn't creak as he shifted in it; there were no voices from down the hall that passed his way. He could almost hear his own heartbeat.
In short, it was unnerving.
He stood, not for the first time, pacing back and forth as he waited for the other door to open. There was no clock, but he was sure they were late. Agent Sampson was supposed to be here fifteen minutes ago. And the man was not known for tardiness.
Tin sat again, forcing himself into the placid complacency that had once come so naturally to him. Agent Sampson would be here. There was a reason, he didn't need it. There was always a reason.
The room was small, gray and featureless. On one side there was a mirror, behind which he knew was another room that watched over him, but nobody was in it-the door that lead into it had been open when he passed coming into this one. There was a table scarred with long use, and two hardwood chairs, one on either side of the table. On the opposite side of the table from him was a cardboard shoe box, slightly battered and with a lid that didn't quite fit. He hadn't opened it.
Another five minutes ticked by. He shifted again, annoyed. Though he had very little better to do, he still detested wasting time like this. He glanced at the shoe box again.
Why would Agent Sampson bring a shoe box? He must have left it here—nobody else used this room, after all. Was there something important in it? Tin fought back the urge to look for a few moments longer, then finally gave in, pulling the box cautiously across the table. He removed the lid cautiously, half expecting something to jump out at him. Nothing did. He set the thing aside.
Inside lay two black wristbands, bearing the names of bands he didn't recognize, and a hat with a couple buttons pinned to one side. He examined it, then set it aside, rapidly losing interest.
The last object caught his attention, though. A multicolored cube, with nine different-colored squares on each side, their arrangement seemingly random. He picked it up, and turned it over. Every side was the same way. The sides looked like they could rotate-he tried it. They could. He twisted it around for a moment, more for something to do than in any actual goal, before he quite suddenly remembered.
The colors were all supposed to be on the same side. He didn't know how he knew that, and he sat for a moment staring at the thing, fighting back the shock and an overwhelming feeling he didn't recognize. He started twisting it again, experimenting.
The rapid clicking of the cube soon filled the room as he twisted it this way and that, trying to make sense of the pattens. Every so often, a flash of something would hit him, sometimes little things, and others so much to make him stop, staring wildly at the cube. It was a rubix cube. There'd been a party. There was a brick house, a school, a chain link fence in front of an abandoned factory. The door wouldn't latch. A black cat that hated him. He didn't know what was happening, but he couldn't bear for it to stop.
The sides of the cube spun faster and faster as he focused all of his attention on it and the patterns gradually worked themselves out in his head. A math class, a girl, a beat-up red locker. A small room at the top of a long staircase, painted blue. Posters, pictures, something that looked like a kid had drawn it. An old computer, a set of beat up speakers, a blue guitar.
Bits and pieces were beginning to fall into place now. Recognizable patterns began to form on the sides of the cube, and he bit his lip, trying to focus on that only as every part of his mind screamed for attention. Voices he recognized, but didn't remember, someone telling him to do the dishes, his own voice speaking back. The feel of a spiral bound notebook pressed up against his palm. A teacher, telling him to focus.
He paused for a moment, and the room fell back into that blank, empty silence that had been there before, what felt like hours ago as he let the memories—they were memories—fall into place. A wall in his head was crumbling, it felt like, and everything behind it was rushing in all at once. He started to feel lightheaded. The house was his, the locker was his, the room and guitar and posters and... and everything. That was his past.
He forced it back, ripping his attention back to the cube in his hands. He was almost there. He started twisting again, fighting against every new revelation as he did. A mother, a father, his own hands, so much younger. He forced himself to only see the cube.
The last piece fell into place, and suddenly the noise in his head died away, falling back in the place of one word, which he uttered aloud.
The empty room didn't respond. He stood, holding the solved cube in shaking hands.
“My name is Peter.” He looked up. “My name is Peter!”

I wrote this in like, December, but I liked it enough to post. It happens towards the end of Tin's story, and is a bit of a spoiler, really. Wish it had something more to do with Easter, though if you squint and read my mind, you could kinda get that, I guess.. Ah well. Happy Easter to you all!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I promise you've seen at least one of these characters before, so it totally counts as continuation. Yes.

He blinked at the sudden brightness, struggling to follow the fast-moving shadows that swarmed across the room. There were close to thirty of the children here, he realized as his eyes adjusted. Some played on the floor with battered toys, some worked on small projects on the scattered wooden tables. A few were sleeping, on benches or tables or whatever came to hand. Everyone looked up at his entrance as his young guide dragged him inside, slamming the door behind them.
For a log moment they just stared at him, battered toys and games forgotten, and he shrunk back just a little, back towards the world of mud and exhaustion that had been his only home for so long. Nobody moved, nobody spoke. Everyone simply watched, with cautious, suspicious eyes, and the room hung frozen.
Finally, one of the girls spoke up. “Who'd you find, Mikhail?”
And then the noise crashed into his mind like a wave, sweeping him up in the rush of children. They ran towards him, swarming around him like moths around a light. One took his backpack; another helped him out of the battered coat. He could barely make out single voices in the massive barrage of questions as the kids took both his hands and pulled him towards the room's big open fireplace.
“Did you walk all the way...” “Where'd you get that big mark on...” “Do you like potato soup, or...” “...Have a name?” “Did you come to see...” “Can I...” “...You want me to...” “Theia?” “...Look in your backpack, please? I won't touch...”
“Hang up!” shouted his rescuer, clapping his good arm to the bandaged one with the odd crash of resounding metal. “Quit with the questions! Give him a chance to catch his breath. The guy's been walking for like, ever! ”
“How long is like ever?” asked one of the littler girls, staring at him with wide eyes.
The boy—Mikhail, he corrected himself—paused a moment, then turned to the chimera, momentarily lost. “How long have you been walking?”
“A... A long time. Four years.” The words sounded strange, his own voice unfamiliar. He hadn't spoken to another living creature in almost that long. Four years. Really?
The children gave a simultaneous “Oooooh,” clearly very impressed. “That's longer than Tina's been alive!” piped up one boy. “And she's old enough to punch!”
A crash sounded from one of the small doors that edged the big central hall. “I got a blanket!” Another boy, this one with shaggy blonde hair only kept out of his eyes by the speed at which he was moving, skidded through the doorway, stumbling as he made the sharp turn. “Three of 'em!” He dumped all three rather unceremoniously on the chimera's lap, smiling widely.
“Thank you,” he said, trying to return the smile.
“Not a problem!” The boy ducked his head respectfully. “I'm Wilbur. What's your name?”
“I...” he paused, momentarily lost. “I don't really have one anymore,” he admitted quietly. The whole assembly stared for a moment longer until they again exploded into sound.
“You should be Gilgamesh!” shouted one, waving his hand wildly.
“No, Izangati!”
“That's a girl's name!” someone shouted indignantly. “You should be Antonio!”
“You can be Misha, cause that's my name too! We'll both be Misha!”
“Vincent! You should be Vincent!”
“Compass! Umbrella!”
“...Not even real names!”
“Hang up!” yelled Mikhail again, clapping twice. “He can't be named everything.”
“We should vote,” suggested Wilbur. “Like we do with babies.”
“That won't work.” Mikhail said flatly. “Babies don't care what their name is.”
Wilbur thought for a moment. “Right. How about he picks one, then?”
“I was gonna suggest that,” muttered the older boy. He turned to the chimera. “Well, how about it? What should your name be?”
“I...” He paused for a moment longer, thinking, then shook his head. “I really don't know.”
“So should we vote then?”
“We always end up with something stupid when we vote without Thiea here. Like Toastpants.” Mikhail crossed his arms. “Let's vote on some names, and then he can find one he likes off of those.”
“That'll take forever!” Wilber whined.
“Toastpants.” Mikhail enunciated, like that one word would win him the whole argument.
Apparently, it did. “Fine.” The blonde boy sulked. “But what are we supposed to call him until then?”

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More story bits

“Because, I mean, it seems so indefinite, really.” He gestured vaguely off to one side, floppy sleeve almost totally covering his hand. “You say you've grown up, you say I haven't. You're probably right, you know, but really, if it's so necessary you'd think I'd have got the hang of it by now.”
“You are grown up. You just refuse to admit it; you see the world like a kid and you refuse to believe anything else!”
“And is that really so terrible?” The magician stopped. “I do believe in other things. I know bad things happen. I know the lies. I know the truth. But I don't have to believe that all the good things are gone either.” He looked away, out the tiny windows. “Grown-up, I think, is when you decide to stop believing that things can be amazing. Maybe not big things, but little things. You stop seeing things as beautiful, and just start seeing things as there. You don't think it matters anymore.”
“It doesn't.” The inventor stopped as well, finally turning to face the magician.
“Why not?” He spread his hands, palms up. “It mattered then. It was beautiful then. Does the magic of the world really have to die that quickly?”
“It's just... not anymore.” The inventor leaned against the doorway, really thinking about it now. “Things just aren't amazing, and aren't beautiful.”
“Not anymore.” The magician sighed, taking off both top hats and closing his eyes in the afternoon sunlight. “Do you know, it's so much easier to grow up than it is to grow back down? I did grow up, you know. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me, and it was so hard, so very hard to grow back down. I had to choose to believe in the magic, every day. I had to look for it.”
“You can't grow back down. Not once you've grown up.” The inventor shook his head. “It's impossible.”
“No.” The magician smiled, then put his hat back on. “Just hard.”

He was a secret, once, before. A real secret, like between two lovers, whispered quietly or not at all, and for no one else, no one, not ever. He was hidden well, hidden perfectly. He may have been loved, he may have been hated. It didn't matter. He was simply secret.
But she, she is the child, who looks in at the wrong moment and sees. Only a child, knowing not what she's found, not what it means or what desperate lovers will do to take their secret back. She only knows that she has found it, and she likes it. And it is her secret too, now. He is her secret, not hidden so well, but still hidden. Better loved, at least.
But she is a child, and children cannot keep secrets. She may whisper it to one, perhaps only to herself, but the other children will hear. And whispers, only ever whispers, spread like fire. The whole world will burn before too long, but she doesn't know that yet, for she is a child. He is still secret, now and for as long as she can keep him. But her parents will whisper, and her neighbors will whisper, and whispers echo and burn. The secret will be a secret to all of them, until he is a secret to none.
And then the world will burn, and he will burn, and be gone. Ashes.

“You amaze me.” Crash shook his head. “What, did you trade the part of your brain that handles emotions for a double dose of mechanical knowledge?”
“I guess.” Jack shrugged, blandly trying to explain himself. “I can't see any other reason I could be this bad at this.”
“Lack of practice would be my guess.” Crash looked his employer over skeptically. “Though I honestly can't say I was ever as bad as you.”
“Whatever,” Jack sat against the wall with a sigh. “She's not mad at me, I think.”
“There is absolutely no way you can be certain about that.” Crash warned. “She is still a woman.”
“What if I'm 75% certain, based on a number of different variables, that she is not mad at me?”
“Then she's mad at you.”
Jack swore softly. “I said I was sorry...”
“Then she won't be mad at you for as long. Maybe. I don't really know.”
“Whatever.” Jack pulled his mask off, setting it aside as he pulled his knees into his body. “I tried, at least. That should count for something.”
“It doesn't.”
Jack swore again.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Airplanes and books

“This is ridiculous. Ridiculous. The plane was supposed to leave an hour ago! It's not even here yet!” Jack stormed down the row of seats for the thousandth time, glaring darkly at the big airport windows overlooking the tarmak. “It's ridiculous. What, did the airplane run out of wings?”

“It probably hit some bad weather,” Amy said for the thousandth time, not looking up from her book. “Sit down.”

“I will not sit down! The plane should be here already!” He kicked the row of seats, vibrating it all the way down to where Crash was sleeping with a magazine over his face. The taller man groaned, and rolled over. “Why isn't it here?” The terminal was fortunately mostly deserted, save the occasional sleeping businessman, and two college students playing games on their phones on the opposite end of the big room. Nobody took notice of the blond man as he strode back and forth, gesturing wildly and ranting about the plane. Small blessings, Amy thought.

“Any number of reasons,” Amy replied calmly. “Most of which we went over an hour ago, and some before that.”

“But it's been an hour! When is that stupid plane going to come?” he asked, turning to her as if she knew.

“It'll come when it gets here. Now sit down.”

“I'm not going to sit down,” he pouted, crossing his arms. “And that's final.”

“Fine.” She turned the page of her book. “Suit yourself.”

Jack glared at her for a moment, then collapsed in the chair next to her. “It's supposed to be here already!” he complained. “I just don't get why it's not!”


There was a moment's pause. “Can I have another sandwich?” he finally asked, hesitantly.

“Those were supposed to last the entire flight,” she sighed, setting down her book and digging through her carry on bag.

“That is entirely Crash's fault,” he pointed out as she handed him the sandwich. “I've only had one.”

“And he's only had three, so you're only one behind him now.” She closed the plastic bag with one hand, picking up her book again with the other. “What happened to that book of sudoku you bought from the gift shop?”

“I finished it,” replied Jack as he slouched against the hard gray plastic of the airport chair, his mouth still full of sandwich. “Too easy.”

“It was the hardest one they had...”

“Marketing.” He waved the sandwich in one hand. “All marketing. Crash could've done those puzzles.”

“The gift shop is still open, you know. You could go get a magazine...”

“I don't want a magazine!” He exclaimed. “All they have is lame stuff like TIME, and Newsweek. Who cares about stuff like that?”

She sighed again, having rather unpleasant flashbacks to her highschool days of babysitting her neighbor's seven year old. “Fine.” She snapped her book shut, and handed it to him. “You read my book, and I'll go get myself a magazine.”

He blinked, choking on a bite of pastrami. “But...”

“No buts. If you won't get yourself something, you read that.” She was two aisles away before he managed to swallow.

“But it's a romance!” he objected, turning around in his seat. “I can't read...”

“No buts!” She shouted back. “Read it or stop whining!”

“...Ok.” He turned back around. “Wasn't whining,” he muttered. “Perfectly legitimate complaint. Plane was supposed to be here an hour ago, should've been halfway to San Francisco by now.” He stared dismayedly at the cover of His Rose, which featured, in addition to some of the most illegibly beautiful pink cursive text he'd ever seen, a swooning woman in the arms of a man with his shirt half open. He raised one eyebrow as he read description on the back.

Rose is beautiful,
it read, but terribly lonely. Spending her life under the control of her widowed stepfather, she feels she is doomed to die a spinster. Until one day, a handsome stranger collapses at the edge of the gardens, and she finds herself...

He covered his eyes and guessed at the rest of the paragraph. “...Strangely drawn to the mysterious enigma of a man. But will their love survive her stepfather's suspicion, or will the dark secret that brought him here destroy them both?” He opened his eyes. “Oh, enigmatic mystery of a man. Got it.”

“Don't even wanna know what you're talking about,” muttered Crash from the opposite aisle of seats.

“Shut up,” replied Jack cordially as he opened the book.

Amy returned a few moments later to find Jack calmly engrossed in the romance novel, and Crash asleep with the travel pillow over his eyes. She set down two motorcycle magazines easily within Jack's line of sight and reach, and opened up her own copy of Celebrity Homes and Gardens. She glanced up, a few minutes later. No good.

She pouted inwardly. She'd just gotten to the good part. With any luck he'd finish the novel as quickly as he'd finished the sudoku book.

It was nearly half an hour before Jack spoke again. “Oh, come on!” he exclaimed. “Using a poker in a swordfight is good and all, but it'd cool down by four minutes in! There's no way Morringston could've burned him!”

She very calmly attempted to ignore him, turning the page of an article on water gardens and acting like she was very engrossed in yet another picture of koi. Unfortunately, Jack had never been a quiet person.

“Come on, man, how are you missing this? She just freaking stole a horse to come find you, least you could do is say thanks,” he muttered. She glanced up at him, mildly annoyed. He didn't notice. “And she somehow magically knew to bring medical supplies. Yes. Great. Way to miss the moment, dude.”

“Jack, they can't hear you,” she reminded quietly, hoping he'd get the point.

“But he's a moron! He likes this Rose girl, and it's so obvious that she likes him, but he just doesn't see it! He's being all 'oh, she'd never want to be with a scoundrel like me,' and every conceivable piece of evidence is all like 'yes, dude, she does. Duh' and I'm guessing it will take her either getting kidnapped or terribly wounded before he finally admits this!”

“Well, it is a romance novel. If he got it right away, the book would be over already.”

“Dude's a moron.”

“They always are,” she muttered, going back to her magazine.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Flirting 101

A bit of introduction is in order for this one. This isn't an entire scene, and as such, it's almost entirely dialouge,between Alice, a librarian, and Marcelle, a much older librarian. This coversation came out of Marcelle wanting Alice to flirt with library patron Quinn, in order to get him to play the Mad Hatter for the library's upcoming book day. Alice refused flat out, and the conversation proceeded to here. It's short, and a bit different than what I normally try to write, but I liked it so much I just had to share.

“Well… We were going to plan the whole thing out, but then I mentioned Quinn, and Janice…” She blushed a little. “She’s been spending a little too much time in the historical romance section, if you ask me. She has some very… creative… ideas.”
“You’re impossible.” Alice turned away again.
“It was Janice that wanted to… Oh, fine. If you won’t flirt with him, I will.”
“You?” Alice did her very best not to look horrified. “But he’s twenty years…”
“Maybe he likes older women. That’d be quite nice, actually.” She mused. “Me, Mrs. Hunter, most envied woman this side of central branch. ‘Oh, Mrs. Hunter,’” her voice went up several octaves as she spoke, “’how did you ever catch such a prize of a man,’ they’ll ask me. ‘I’m so jealous, Mrs. Hunter!’ ‘Share with us your man catching secrets!’ And I’ll tell them—being sure to show off my huge diamond wedding ring from that fancy jewelry store where he works—I’d say ‘oh, it’s easy girls, you’ve just got to wear a short skirt and heels, and red lipstick, and you have to tell him just how handsome that fedora makes him look, or how much you admire his hairstyle every time you see him—don’t pay any attention to it if he seems a little creeped out, that’s just how men show affection. And of course, of course, you have to bat your eyes at him all the time. Wear lots of mascara, or fake eyelashes; that’ll be sure to get his attention. And swoon, girls, you have to swoon. Men love it when you swoon. Try and aim it so they can catch you in their big strong arms, because it’s not half so romantic if you get a concussion.” Marcelle acted everything out as she spoke it, batting her eyes and fake swooning, and Alice began to laugh. “Be sure to always act dainty and womanly… Though chivalry might be dead for some of your men—not for mine of course, but if they won’t be a gentleman, than I suppose daintiness isn’t required. It may still help though. Be sure to be afraid of spiders. Scream whenever you see one; this will give him opportunity to prove his manly courage and rescue you without expending too much effort. And of course…”
“Stop! Stop, alright!” Alice couldn’t stop laughing. “You’ll scare him into never coming here again!”
“Well, what choice do I have?” Marcelle acted injured, though there was a smile in her eyes. “When our only single, young, pretty blonde librarian refuses to do a little flirting in the name of literacy?”
“I’m still not gonna flirt with him.” Alice said, wiping here yes. “But…”
“But the flirting’s the fun part!”
“But I will ask.”
“That’s better.” Marcelle looked as smug as a cat. “He always comes in on Thursdays, so tomorrow, try not to look quite so much like a nun, alright?”
“I do not look like a nun!”

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sir (Meeting Old Crow)

Short introduction: Skie is a series of flying islands, ruled by a small number of city states that all hate each other. They've agreed to ban flying machines (Skyships) with the exception of a small police force for the sake of not killing each other, and of course, as for every law, there are those who live to break it.

The room was dark. Isaac peered in nervously, clenching the note in one balled fist. “Hello?”
There was no reply. He stepped through the doorway hesitantly, glancing around at the ashen shadows of the hanger. Huge, curving forms were suspended high overhead, with walkways interspersed here and there, with dangling ropes and curling pipes winding along the pathways. His eyes adjusted as he stood in the darkness that ate all the color out of it, staring. There was a window, somewhere high above him, but most of it's light had been lost to the thick coating of dust that fell heavy in the air.
Something moved near his feet. He jumped back, and the black and white cat stared at him, curious. He breathed out, relieved.
“Hello, uh, cat.” He knelt, holding out his hand to the creature. It examined him with a disdainful air, and paused for a moment, thinking.
And then it bit him.
“Ow!” he pulled his hand back abruptly. “Dumb cat!”
“His name is Ferris.” A woman's voice came from behind him, barely hiding a kind of sadistic, braying laughter. “He does that.”
“Oh!” Isaac whirled, forgetting his bleeding finger. “Who are you?”
“Same person that gave you the note, of course!” She laughed, switching on the lights. The room was not lit by a single bulb, but by close to a dozen separate light sources—ranging from an old, flickering fake-flame bulb to a string of Christmas lights. This oddity was lost on him, though, as he stared at the woman in front of him.
Old Crow looked remarkably like her wanted posters, it occurred to him. The high ponytail was a little longer, of a dark brown the color of dirt, and she looked a little younger—though, perhaps, that was the wide smile more than any actual indicators. The wrinkles around her eyes certainly didn't make her look any younger, but the freckles that dotted her face made her seem almost childlike as she stood, laughter plain in her face and her stance as he stared. Her clothes were baggy and warm, an old green sweater over burned, greasy work pants, and a leather tool belt that extended down one leg, not unlike his own. She wore combat boots, stained with mud, and he glanced back up at her face, feeling half afraid and half incredulous.
“Didn't your mother ever tell you it's not polite to stare?” she asked, moving in on him like a freight train. “Stand up straight, shut your mouth, and try not to look like a fish.” She prodded him into position, then surveyed him with a discerning smile. “Better. Now, you're the halfwit flier that I saved from the police ships today.” He nodded dully. “First time?”
“Um, yeah.”
“Yes, Sir.” She emphasized, looking pointedly at him. “Honestly, what do they teach you...”
He stared a moment before he finally caught on.“Yes Sir.”
“Better.” She gestured with a wrench at his ragged toolbelt. “Doesn't look like you know quite what you're doing, now does it.”
“Well, ah, no, sorry.” She shot him a glare. “Ma'am.”
“Sir!” He held up his hands apologetically. “But it was my first time.”
“Flying or building?” She inquired, holding the wrench threateningly.
“Both... Sir.”
“Hm.” She surveyed him for a moment longer, like a general surveying their troops. “Not bad, then. Not bad at all.”
“Um, thank you.”
“Could've been a lot better, though!” She whirled, striding across the workshop. “Come with me. I'll teach you a thing or two.”
“Um, about what, exactly?” He followed her cautiously, being careful not to step on any of the myriad bits of ship scattered about.
“Building! Flying! What makes things go! Come on, boy, keep up!”
“Right.” He sped up his pace to where he was almost running. “So, um, Sir? Where are we going?”
“Workshop, where did you think?”
“You mean this isn't...”
“This is a hanger, boy! What did you think it was, a pretty princess powder room?” The gestures Old Crow made as she spoke would have been hilarious had she not been holding the wrench in the other hand. “Hanger, H-a-nggg-er! Say it with me now, haaaang-eeeer.” She stopped so abruptly that he almost ran into her, and whirled again. “I can't hear you.”
“Hanger.” He very hard not to look as shocked as he felt.
“Haaaaang-eeeer” She enunciated, though he couldn't quite tell what he'd said wrong.
“Haaaang-eeer.” He repeated.
“Better.” She nodded, turning again. “Hanger. Just do what I do, boy, and you'll learn the ropes in no time!”
"What ropes am I learning, exactly?"
"Look," She whirled to face him again. "Apparently, you're as smart as you are pretty. So let me spell this out for you. You have two choices. You can work for me, become my apprentice, and learn to build, maintain and fly faster than you ever could on your own. Ooor, this is the dumb choice, you can say no, and I hit you with this wrench and feed you to my cats."
"...The first one, please."
She glared at him for a moment.

This story is three years old. I swear. I just haven't posted any of it before.(Have you heard that before? Yessss.)
That being said, I think I'm actually running out of stories I've had for forever and not posted, so maybe we'll eventually get some continuity going on. Maybe. Unless I think of some new ones.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Meeting in the lane

So apparently, I haven't fooled anyone into thinking that I can keep my head in one story for more than twenty minutes. This is further evidence towards their point, and as such, a new story. A bit of introduction is necessary for this one. The story is set in late 1800's Europe, though I need to work on showing that in my dialouge, and stars Mary, a british author on holiday, and Charles, her unlucky suitor/stalker/friend, who, working together, create a fake detective and accidentally make him famous. This is early on in their working relationship.

The man I had collided with was not, fortunately, a stranger. The shaggy brown hair and startled eyes were extremely familiar, coming as they did attached to a beanpole of a man, shabbily dressed, and headed towards the inn where I was staying.
"Oh! Good day, Charles!" I said, trying to regain my composure.
“Mary!” Charles looked startled, nearly falling backwards into the woods as he stumbled to regain his balance. “What's going on? I heard there was a murder!”
“There was!” I whispered, pulling him off the lane towards a small stone bench. “But keep your voice down, I'm not supposed to have left.”
“What happened?” he asked, a little more quietly, glancing back up the road to the little inn.
“The desk clerk was poisoned. Looks like Arsenic to me, but they haven't let me inspect the body well enough to tell for sure.”
“You're trying to investigate?”
“Of course I...”
“Mary, just leave it to the police!” Charles implored, interrupting me. “They know what they're doing.”
“No they don't,” I retorted heatedly. “That inspector is a first class idiot—he's been promoted because of some rich uncle or something, I'm sure of it.”
“He can't be all that bad.” Charles glanced from side to side, making sure we were completely alone. “Can he?”
“He saw my name on the desk register and assumed it was a man.”
“”Well, Augustus is a man's name...”
“Well, yes, but when he came up to speak to me about the clerk's death, he assumed...” My embarrassment took over at that point. I turned bright red, and broke off abruptly.
“Assumed what?”
I took a deep breath, and attempted to continue. “I had to tell him Augustus was my brother, and not, in fact, my lover.” I had to look away as I spoke, trying to hide the burning blush on my face.
“He what?” I should have known better than to tell Charles that. His face turned redder than mine. “Why, that's an insult to your honor—I won't stand for it, I'll...”
“You will do nothing!” I caught his arm, holding him back. “The last thing I need right now is for someone to imply that I lied to a police inspector in the middle of an investigation!”
“But...” He sighed, calming down under my watchful eye. “Right.”
“Thank you.” I gave him a brief smile, before glancing back down the lane towards the inn. “But now he's looking for my supposed brother—he wants to interview him about where he was and what he was doing last night.”
“Oh.” Charles stood thinking for a moment and running a hand through his hair. “Well, that is troublesome.”
“I don't suppose you have a plan to divert them?”
“Not as of yet, no.” I sat down on the little bench with a sigh, momentarily stymied. “I've really gotten myself in deep this time.”
“No joke.” He sat next to me, thinking, before he suddenly stood again. “I've got it!”
“Got what?” I inquired, staring up at him.
“I'll masquerade as your brother!” he said triumphantly.
“Charles, we look nothing alike!” I objected.
“Well, not naturally, no.” he admitted. “But you've caught me before in disguise—I bet I could fool that police inspector!”
“But...” I trailed off. “I don't like it.”
“It's the only plan we've got.” He sat again, shrugging his shoulders. “Unless you've got a better one.”
“Unfortunately, I don't.” I sighed again, brushing the dirt off my skirts. “But do you really think you could pull that off?”
“I said you've caught me before.” His eyes twinkled as he spoke. “I didn't mention the times you haven't caught me.”