Once there was a little girl who was made out of paper. On the inside she was all empty and missing and gone, but on the outside people had stuck pictures and stories and questions and lies and truths and more stories about how they thought she was and what they thought she was like and they just kept putting more and more on until she had a nice paper shell on, all made out of what everyone else thought and felt and said about her. And she lived all alone, and she kept out of storms, because all the loud noises and yelling and words could tear pieces right out of her paper shell and just let it go it flying off into the wind and she’d never get it back, even if it was a part she really liked. And she stayed away from people in charge, which was hard, cause everyone was in charge, cause they could say things and do things and tear things off of her that they didn’t like, or didn’t agree with, or just because they felt like being mean that day, and she couldn’t do anything about it because there wasn’t any her inside to do anything so she just had to stand there and watch, with her paper eyes, as the pieces tore off (and it hurt, when they tore off) and flew away. And then one day one of the people she loved, one of the people who were closest to her, was sad and mad and scared and got really upset at something the girl did, and so she gave her to the really-in-charge people, and they took her away and locked her up in the dark and the cold and the wind kept blowing all the while they looked at her and she could feel the pages and pieces blowing off and off and off like a storm of her. And then they let her go, but she was so fragile then, her shell was so gone, that bits and pieces of the hole inside shone through, and scared the people around her, so she tried to put things back on, but they kept falling off, cause she didn’t know how to make them stick. Only other people could do that, but everyone didn’t know how many pieces she was missing, so they didn’t know to help fill in the gaps. And so she kept moving and going, cause what else was there to do, and the people-in-charge kept tearing and ripping at her, like dogs with a newspaper, and when she tried to tell them that they were hurting her, they just got angry and tore more, and told her that if she didn’t stop they would lock her up in the dark again and she knew that if they did that, that all her pieces would just fall off, and she’d dissappear forever, so she just kept trying and trying to hold things together, but pieces were falling off and she didn’t know what to do. She tried using lots and lots of glue to hold things on, but it made her sick, and sleepy, and didn’t really help, it just made things take longer to do and still the pieces fell off. She tried to ask other people to stick things back on, but it just confused them, and they got frustrated with her asking and asking and didn’t want to be around her anymore. She even went to the people who made the glue, and asked them what to do, but they said she had to learn to do it herself, and they couldn’t help, unless she felt like she was going to start tearing pieces off, herself, and then they’d lock her up and use lots of glue to stick new/old pieces back on, but she knew that that kind of glue only worked for a little while before it cracked and made things worse than before. And they kept telling her that she had to hold herself together, and keep doing what they said, or they’d lock her up in the dark again, and no matter what she said or did or didn’t say or didn’t do, they just kept tearing and tearing until she was so weak all she could do was lie in a pile and listen to the sound of pages fluttering off into the distance, more and more and then less and less until all that was left was one piece of paper and it had this story on it…and pretty soon now, that one will go too, and that will be the end.
“Look!” Cries the Head Clown. “I can be the Ringmaster! In his pretty suit, with the whip of Ultimate Authority…I can be the Ringmaster!”
“Look, look!” Cry Dick and Jane. “Look at the funny clown pretending to be the Ringmaster! Oh, look, his pants just fell down!”
“Look!” Cry the Audience. “Look, look, the Ringmasters pants just fell down!”
I can still feel his warm strength as we curled together on
the couch that morning. “You know I have to go, right? It’ll only be six months. Not long. And when I get back, we’ll get married. Promise.”
I turn my head to smile up at him. “My spaceman.” He grins, and his arms
tighten around me. “I just can’t believe I got in! In my last year!’
I keep the smile on my face as best I can, until
the door closes behind him, and he’s gone.
I still dream the countdown. The numbers harsh in my ears, behind my
tightly closed eyelids. If I’m lucky, I wake before zero. I didn’t even
watch him go.
My ancestors followed the songlines, and found home. So I play. I play
a songline for him. And one day he will hear it, and hold on…and I
will lead him home.
(This is written for Angela Goff’s weekly Visual Dare prompt, my first offering, hope it works. I also wrote a longer piece, just to get the story straight in my head…I think it stands alone, and I’m going to put it here (in another post) in case anyone wants to see. ;p)
You know I’m teasing you with the title, bestest Twin-o-mine, right? I apologize in advance for any what-the-hecks that have wiggled their way into the story, but let us simply state that strong pain medications added to pills with a strong sedative affect make for an (I hope) interestingly “woogie” writer. Okies…so. Most of you know this, but for those of you left behind, I’ve been playing in someone elses playground for a while, writing one chapter of a story, doing whatever I want with the story and plot, and handing it on to the next player…lucky them. >.<
At this time we are considerably up-and-down with the whole thing. Up, when it comes to words…approx. 700-1000 word chapters, 53 of them, equals quite a lot of words. Down, when it comes to writers. Of the original fantastically wonderful writers, only the originator, TRG (aka Boss, aka The Reclining Gentleman) is left. Joanne Best and I were relatively late-comers to the dark corners of the playground, but it’s been a lot of fun. (Can’t speak for Joanne (loveya, twin!) but I think she’s had fun too.) We miss all the original architects, who I am far too lazy to list (and afraid that in my woogie tangent I’ll miss one, and then I’ll cry) so I’ll just have to send you over to the Homepage of this weirdness called the Fiction Relay (cause we can’t title it till we see how it comes out, sillies!) to see for yourselves. (I recommend it…and then check out their pages, cause you won’t be dissappointed…their greatness is sorely missed) That all taken care of, let the curtains part (can’t tell that I’ve been reading Tommy and Tuppence novels, can’ya?) and gaze upon the glory of this, our Chapter 53! (for reals, this time)
Unfortunately for Jose/Elijah, no matter how careful the ninja, gravel under sneakers makes a distinctive sound…so Blue and Spence were ready almost as quickly as he reached them; which was good, as so was Raj. With a whining snarl that echoed through the lonely dark, he abandoned the mystery of the box and jumped at the approaching form, snapping and pawing to get loose when Melissa grabbed him around the neck and held him tightly. Blue and Spencer wrestled Elijah to the ground and kept him there. By this time even the slower members of the team had become aware of the scene, and turned with various statements of dismay or anger in their voices.
Meagan, still acting as the clear center of the group, carefully closed Ephraims hand around the little (glowing, humming, throbbing) box, and winked to him, before turning to the trouble. “Hello, Elijah…or do you prefer Jose, now? I know -I- do…after all the trouble you caused us, and all the trouble you bring with you, why should we welcome you now? Why shouldn’t we just let Raj go, let him tear you to shreds, as he so obviously wants to?” She gestured, toward the snarling, snapping full-grown coyote…with his sons eyes.
“Raj? No…no! You’re just trying to trick me…just like these two, with the smell of the mountain! And you, changing places with her!” He gestured with his chin toward Melissa. “I’m on to you! I saw, in the mountain! I saw Her give THE CUP to you! She promised! She promised to pass it to US, not to you…” His voice trailed off as his head fell back, and his eyes closed. With a grin for Blue, Spencer lowered him, unconscious, to the gravel.
*Nice one, babe! Vulcan Neck Pinch for the win!* *Don’t call it that! You know I hate that…* *Yup* *Smug bastard…* *Yup*
With a quick glare at Spence, Blue sat back on her heels, looking up at the adults. “Sorry, Mom. He was talking too much…not getting us anywhere.” Her glance included the whole group, even Raj, who had calmed down as Melissa squatted beside him, still holding him. “I love you, but right now you’re…you -all- are…thinking like civilians. Like you still have all the time in the world for earth-shattering revelations, and clever power plays. You don’t. What you do have is a war to fight. A war that Sanderson…or whoever he is…has been fighting and training and planning for…for a very long time. And that’s where we need to meet him. A war on the level of Mountains, and Gods, and Spirits…we can’t win. But a war with people (alright, and coyotes) we can find a way to handle.”
She stopped, with a quick smile up at Spence as he moved to stand behind her, hand on her shoulder. “She’s right. Before you all panic and start spouting about Gods and Mountains and Epic Quests, think about this. Sanderson has been training an army. Thousands of young men and women, chosen for their strength and intelligence, and manipulated into almost fanatical loyalty…and that’s not even counting the outsiders, the witches, to maintain the Coyote forms…why? If he’s such an all-powerful Spirit, God, whatever…what use can he have for an army? Why spend all that time and effort, if he could just magic-it-up, as Blue would say?”
At first, watching Blue and Spencer shift from “grumpy-chick and her boyfriend” mode, into “calm and in charge soldier” mode, what Meagan mostly felt was sorrow. Sorrow for her little girl, who she had left so long ago. Sorrow for the boy, grown up so fast, and so lost. Sorrow for -all- the children lost to soldiers, and now thrown into a fight with elements they could -not- defeat. But as she listened, sorrow changed to anger. Anger born of fear, of anxiety and overwhelming concern for her loved ones. Anger shared, she realized, as she glanced around the members of -her- army. Her soldiers. “Yes, Sammy and Spencer are correct…in essence. The presence of the army, of the footsoldiers and commanders, however magical, cannot be ignored. However, neither should we turn and ignore…well…that!” All eyes turned toward Ephraim, as she gestured, and she heard a collective gasp.
Ephraim heard, but felt nothing but confused. Glancing down at the hand that held the glowing box, he blinked. In his hand, floating above the box, was a tiny golden…or was it bronze?…cup, or goblet. Or maybe cauldron…or box? The object shifted restlessly on the top of his closed fist, the image or whatever it was moving to stay on top and rightside up at all times.
He slowly opened his fingers, palm up, and the image stayed, pulsing above the now quiescent box, rainbow shards splitting the night. His voice was soft and almost reverent as he spoke… “What…is that?”
An answer to which will hopefully be upcoming, as the now much the worse for wear baton is passed to the Boss of FR, TRG himself! (At least I hope he’s himself..sometimes he’s not, and then sometimes he’s someone else entirely, and it all ends up in a dreadful tangle once the two of him get home. So here’s hoping!)
Your Woogieness, signing off…
I really am nuts, y’know? Not a little bit, not relatively, just…nuts. Not “insane”, I don’t think. Well, technically, I suppose, but that’s -such- a broad spectrum, honestly. Just vague and diffuse…like the law…a net spread to catch the biggest fish, but tight enough to catch the tiddlers as well…when the Fishers want them. *shrugs*
But that’s beside the point. Back to “nuts”. I like that better. It’s perjorative, and offensive…unless you are, and you use it about yourself. Well, in -my- rules, anyway. Such as they are. Normal. Silly word, silly place, let’s not go there. *nodnod* Most people (“most”…another nonsense word) want to be normal. Correct? People want to fit in wherever they are, in whatever living environment they find themselves in, this time around. But some people don’t. Some people feel that it’s impossible to ever fit in, so in a sort of sour-grapes scenario they decide that being “normal” isn’t anything worth striving for. Just the opposite, they decide. Let’s be as -abnormal- as possible, and revel in that…in our separate uniqueness…just like everyone else.
Then there are the nuts. They…we?…just live. Well, try, anyway. It’s really very difficult to swim downstream in a world of spawning salmon. When the race is to be uniquely different but in a way that fits in with ones chosen social group in such a way as to not outlaw the possibilities of being fertile within said grouping…people who for whatever reason don’t have/want/use that drive can be easily lost in the crowd and drowned.
One of the horrors of being…asexual? ish?…is the absence of touch. People were designed to need touch. Physical contact of even the simplest kind…a hand on a hand, a touch on the back…people without these things will become ill, and can even be driven insane, or become so depressed that they die. Not suicide…just die. Most people don’t think of these things because for them, they are touched every day. One way or another. A quick “snack” during the day. A handshake, a quick hug between friends, even a bump from a stranger on a bus or subway. And a full meal, at home. The loving touch of family, birth or found. The surety of knowing that you have permission…you have the right…to touch and be touched. That you will not be winced away from, or avoided, or rejected, dismissed, or reviled.
However, when people touch, something is transmitted, from skin to skin. A basic assumption, a sort of signal, that no matter the relationship, age, or physical condition, says the same thing. “This person is capable of physical love…this person is normal.” You’ve seen what happens when someone in whom that signal is missing or corrupted touches someone…or attempts to. There is an almost automatic repulsion, an anger that borders on fear…because they feel “wrong”. Instinct says “This person is an evolutionary dead-end…a thing to be avoided”.
Of course this is all hooey…straight out of the “Sour Grapes” file that lives in my twisted little mind. I mean, really. I told you I was nuts! But think about it. Watch for it. And if any of that hits home to you…don’t let it. Fight it. Work for what you need…or what another needs. Thank you.
(This one is a bit longer, but it’s the end of the chapter and I didn’t see a good spot to cut it, so here it is. :p Hope it’s been a good ride so far…it’s been neat for me to see and know other people are actually reading it. I’m thinking about trying to finish it before November, somewhere around 7,000 words or so…what do y’all think? I’m halfway there, now, so I know it’s possible…but is that a good length for a short story?)
Sev scowled, and nodded. That’s sorted…go on, take it. She grinned, and began scooping up the pile, already scoping out the main drag for a good spot. Let the newbies take the one under the sunbeam, she’d take the one where the beam’d be once the people started coming…and -away- from the entrance, where the non-serious shoppers wandered in, and blocked off the view of the good ones. Cuddling the pile to her chest, she began shuttling back and forth, her grin widening as each new layer became visible. Putting each find where she felt it got the best show took the best part of an hour, and by the time she was done, the first trickle of customers was heading in. As usual, the day went by quickly…maybe a little too quickly. By the time the torches went on, and the night crowd started filtering through, she was already wondering what to do with herself that night. Tossing a quick if insincere grin up at her replacement as he approached, she sighed, and adjusted the new scarf she’d appropriated for herself as she stood. Ok, ok…you can have it. Anything happening?
He shook his head, already more interested in sorting and sifting. Party up t’the Hotties, but you know how that crowd gets…and I heard something about a new singer over t’the Kitchen Sync. Oh, and Jamie wants t’talk t’ya…said it’s important. Butt-in-a-sling kinda important. He looked sideways at her, quirking his lip at her suddenly nervous expression. Hell, relax…she prob’ly needs someone t’chew on for a while…it’s Jamie, y’know? If she don’t got somebody to bite ever day, she gets cranky. Maybe the Spikester ain’t been licking her boots right, huh? He grinned nastily, and put on a whiny tone of voice. Why doncha ever -listen- t’me, spikie? Left -then- right…left -then- right…are you just stupid? Is -that- your problem? Blue snorted…then outright giggled, swatting him beside the ear. You…are gonna get us -both- in trouble, she ever hears you do that. Ok, I’m off…just…be careful, huh? And don’t let that big piece go to anybody but Old Dave…he’s been looking for one just like it for-ever.
She shook her head, and headed off down the hall, after one last wistful glance at the treasures spread out all around her. Not till the weekend. Sellers-day was coming, just two more days…then she could pick and bargain…for whatever was left. She bit her lip, trying not to anticipate what this little “talk” with Jamie was about…Spike being her best friend wasn’t going to hold her here for -much- longer, especially if Jamie got wind of her…nocturnal activities. Sidling through the torchlit shadows, she wondered again what was with the lo-techs and lighting. Sure, it made it more…romantic, in here, and got people buying more…but they acted like even having lights back in the stores was somehow bad. Just a few little lights, and they’d double their productive time, instead of having to rush everything, then leave it sit all night. She shrugged, and slipped back into the shadows behind the “sales floor” with relief. Less smoky back here…and less temptation.
The store was dark, as usual, the only illumination coming from the tiny candle that sat in the mouth of the stores sign/mascot, giving a soft glow to her somewhat frantic looking features, and the tiny fire in the barrel that sat in the middle of the main room. The off-duty team sat around the barrel as usual, and someone had been in a giving mood, obviously…there was a strong smell of cooking meat, without the charred-hair smell that meant rat-thing, and a jug of chilled water sweated gently in the heat. She inquired as to Jamie’s placement with a raised ‘brow, and was directed to the back of the Lair…behind the double-row of beaded curtain that blocked off all light from the back room.
Boss? She moved to the curtain, parting it just enough to stick her head through…and received the usual grunt in reply. Slipping the rest of her way through the surprisingly heavy beads, she waited a second for her eyes to adjust, then paced forward to kneel down by the pair of figures who curled together in the middle of the cushions covering the floor. As her knees hit the cushion, two pairs of eyes opened, and one mouth grinned…but which was which was hard to tell. The gravelly voice that spoke was -definitely- Jamie, though…and -not- in a good mood, so most likely -not- the grin. What’re you doing, Blue? She blinked, confused, and shrugged. Talking to you? She tried. The voice snorted, and a rustle from the darkness revealed itself as Spike sitting up and moving out of range. Lemme clarify…what’re you doing that I don’t know about? That takes you out all damn night? That brings you back beat to hell and gone, and dirtier than a Raver at a Pow-wow? What…are you…doing?
Blue…gulped. I uh…I got stuff, boss. That’s all. You said, long as I’m working, you’re good. You said, when Spike and me got here. She blinked, as a light flared, revealing Jamie’s face all too close to her own, looking rather demonic in the flickering flame of the tiny tea-light candle. I said…yeah, I did. But that’s before I saw. You’re working, yeah. But one-a these days, you won’t be. You’ll be down t’fill, only -in- it, steada on it. Now me, longs it don’t affect the Claires, I don’t give a smack…but Spike, he likes ya, and I’m not liking it when he’s too worried about ya to do his…job, y’hear what I’m saying? She glanced over her shoulder at him, the look on her face softening into as normally…human…as Blue had ever seen. Spike, for his part, kept his eyes down, hiding his face behind his curtains of soft blond hair…but Blue could tell he was upset by the set of his shoulders. So…either y’tell me what’s happening…or I got no choice. I gotta letcha go.
Just a little fan-girling…I -love- Stephen Kings “Firestarter”, I have ever since I first read it, at twelve yrs. old. I didn’t watch the movie till years later, didn’t want to spoil the book…but I was surprised to find that I liked both. As long as I thought of them as separate but related stories, they were both awesome. I love Drew Barrymore, and she was so cute in her angst-filled rage… ;p
Anyway, here is my little tribute, a short-story-ish non-canon look into the world of the Firestarter, part one. Enjoy. 🙂
The old cars long familiar motion failed to soothe, and Charlie shifted, restlessly, head pounding with the rhythm of the wheels. “You ok, baby?” Her fathers voice was intentionally low, and his eyes sympathetic as he met her pained gaze. Forcing a shaky smile for his sake, she nodded…and winced. “It’s ok, daddy. Just a little headache. Just need to sleep…”
His nod said that he knew the truth, but like her, he would let it be for now. “You do that, baby. Get some sleep. We’ll be stopping for gas pretty soon…maybe even get a motel room. You’d like that, hmm?” She smiled again, and kept her exhausted sigh as internal as she could. “Mm-hmm. That’d be nice. Love you, daddy.” “I know you do, baby. Love you more…” A tired grin was his reward, before she turned her face to the darkness outside the window and deliberately closed her eyes.
He sighed, carefully keeping both hands on the wheel although he longed to reach out and touch her soft hair…to reassure himself that she was still real, still there, still with him. Not like…the other. He shook his head, quickly, banishing the thought before it could take hold. All his concentration must be on the road, on keeping them safe, keeping moving. But god, he was tired.
The lights were sharp and white when Charlie woke from her half-doze, glaring through the windshield, reflecting the exhausted face of her father pitilessly in the glass. She winced again, and deliberately pasted on a bright smile before shifting in her seat as if just waking. He glanced over at her as he pulled into a spot under the canopy. “Just getting gas, like I said. Do you want anything? A soda, some chips? We can get some real food once we get to the motel, ok?” She just nodded, then shook her head, gently. “I’m ok. I…I’m not hungry.” He searched her eyes, then nodded as he got out of the car. “Just let me know, ok?”
She was pretty sure she’d never be hungry again, not with the memory of her last meal still so fresh in her head. The phantom taste of her mothers grilled cheese sandwich stuck like glue to her mind, mingling with the scent of tomato soup…and the other. Angrily, she brought her hand to her cheek, brushing away the memory and the tears that began to leak from her eyes. No. Not thinking of that. They were both scrupulously avoiding any hint of what they’d left behind, and as far as she was concerned she’d like it to stay that way forever. “Ok, daddy. I promise.”
Curling into herself, she watched him move around the car, pumping gas, moving to go into the brightly lit store that stood like an island port in the darkness, the big rigs like ships around it. This image amused her, and she began to embellish the picture, adding the sounds of creaking sails and excited voices, her active mind keeping itself busy as it always had, her favorite toy.
In the store, he gathered a few bottles of soda, a box of crackers, and a brightly furred little bear, and moved quickly to the cashier. Placing his items on the counter, he kept a bright but somewhat harassed look on his face. “Hi. I’m sorry to ask, but is there any chance you can cash a hundred? I’m traveling with my little girl, and I forgot to get change…” She sighed, smiling down at the little bear, then up at him. “I’m not supposed to…but all right. For the little one.”
His smile warmed, and he reached in his pocket for a worn one dollar bill. Holding the bill folded close in his hand so that their hands touched as he passed it over, he summoned the picture of a one hundred dollar bill into his mind. Worn, but not too much, a crease across Franklins face, a reassuringly recognizable bill. Holding the picture, he concentrated with all his strength as she carefully counted out his change, bagged his items, and handed them to him. He almost staggered as he pulled away, the sudden exhaustion that always accompanied use of his gift almost overwhelming him…but the thought of Charlie waiting out in the car gave him a burst of manic strength as he hurried back out the doors into the night.
I think I’m ready to start working on my book again, got my confidence up and my discipline as well..I hope. ;p
Either way, I’m going to start posting at least one page or possible chapter twice a week, and I welcome all comments of constructive critism or praise. 😉
Blue and Grey, synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic/dystopian future, Blue: an unwilling young shapeshifter, and Grey: a born shapeshifter and master burglar, become less than willing partners out of mutual necessity. (I know this needs work…wish I could find the 25 word pitch I did, but I seem to have misplaced it in the junk-filled filing case that calls itself a laptop.)
Blue and Grey: Part One
Blue curled her lip as one paw splashed through an unidentified liquid spilling out of a drain, but kept running. The sound of the pack was all too close behind, their mingled yips and yaps echoing off the alleyway bricks and bouncing around in her already sore head like barbed wire ping-pong balls.
She took the next turn a bit too close, shaving time and a bit of fur off as she did. Almost there, she thought. Just a bit more, and I can put my head down, even if I have to do it on the floor. The thought of the cold concrete floor of the back room was soothing to her cut and scraped up paws, and she managed to pull a burst of energy from the thought and double her speed for a few moments.
It wore off quickly though,and she was back to the limping scamper that she’d kept up for blocks now, and the pack…wait…why did they sound like they were coming from in front? She listened carefully, slowing her steps, hoping against all hope that it was only an effect of the echo that made the yipping cries come from -both- directions at once.
The supposition failed, however, when she reached the corner of the main street leading to The Mall…and heard them more clearly. Damn, they must’ve circled around. -Now- what? I can’t get home without getting caught between! Half-panicked, half-exhausted, she looked around frantically, and grinned tiredly as she noticed the ladder half a floor above her head. Yes! Saved!
Her first leap was fruitless, only managing to scrape her fur against the brick, leaving a smear of what she -hoped- was mud, but was more likely blood. Too tired to feel the pain, she positioned herself a bit more carefully, and took another leap…this time, managing to grasp the bottom rung of the ladder with the claws of one sore paw. Scrambling frantically, she pulled herself up onto the rusted metal, and lay there for a moment, prostrate with relief.
Ok, now for the fun part…carefully she stood, stretching her lean body up toward the next rung, ignoring the calls of the pack as they raced closer from both sides. Just a bit…more…there! Got it. She made the pull-and-rest maneuver one more time, before the first of the packs outrunners, a scruffy little terrier, ran into the alley. Here, here, here!! The cat, it’s here! She sighed, and watched it as it scrabbled frantically at the brick below the ladder, mad little eyes sparkling in its filthy face and spittle spraying everywhere. Dogs…so the dignity.
Fun little challenge by Eric Alagan…thought I’d give it a try, since I’ve been struggling with the 100 word stuff. Let me know what you think, then hop over to his page and check out the rest, in his comment section, if you feel like it!
Tiny red sneaker dangling nervelessly from one shaking hand, she stood frozen in shock, half in and half out of the patio door, her other hand fumbling her cellphone from her pocket. “911?”
Under Neath: A Kava continuation (rather long, so be warned. man this story is addictive. thanks again, trg!)
I woke up to a flash of red and the faintest whiff of that…literally, apparently…intoxicating scent. The red proved to be a little red hairbow in the gloss-black hair of what looked to be a child of 6 or 7. Her skin was dark, like a wet cardboard box, and her eyes were tilted just the tiniest bit and colored a gray so dark it might as well be black, if not for the tiny motes of gold that seemed to float there.
She was dressed all in grey except for the bow, with a soft tunic-like top over what looked like pajama pants. She was standing next to me, or rather next to the table I found myself strapped to, rocking back and forth on her heels and humming softly. Not considering her a threat, I looked away from her at the room around me…or at least that’s what I -tried- to do. As soon as I started to turn my eyes away, the humming got slightly louder, and I found myself staring into her eyes again.
Those eyes…the near-black iris surrounding the hypnotic ebony of the pupil seemed to fill the room, or at least my vision. The gold motes became tiny, perfectly formed koi, swimming happily in the black, black sea of those eyes. It became suddenly extremely important to me that I catch every detail of those beautiful fish, that I bring my focus deeper, and deeper…a harsh cough broke whatever was happening, and I was…released, as the girl turned to glare at the noisemaker.
I found myself panting, out of breath, with the slight headache of oxygen deprivation…and very confused. Lacking anything else to do, I also turned to look at the woman in the doorway. And the doorway. And every other detail of the room that I could take in, in that sweep. I locked it all away for later, aware that I had narrowly survived something dangerous, and needed to pay attention.
When the little one saw just who had coughed, her glare turned into a grimace, then a pout, as her head dropped so that she looked up through a waterfall of black. The woman in the doorway, leaning on the door frame as if too weak to stand, was the owner of the gorgeous ankles and lipstick red stilts I’d seen back at the bar.
All things considered, the rest of her fulfilled the promise made by her legs…all things being that she looked completely exhausted and the black circles under her eyes weren’t carry-on bags but full suitcases. She coughed again, and shook her head at the little one. Her voice was that of one accustomed to command, but tired and roughened by whatever was wrong with her.
She looked at the little one and let loose with a flow of sound, almost like water or birdsong or both or all, all combined into a beautiful whole that I wished I could record and keep, just to hear again and again…I shook my head again, and the sound was back to what it had started as, the work-roughened voice of command. Whatever she’d said to the little one had her wringing her little hands in distress, and whispering through her hair in that same trickle-whisper-purr, but it didn’t affect me the way it had from Her.
Finally, with a jerk of the head from the Woman in red, the little one scuttled from the room, her sparkling red hair bow falling from her hair to the floor by the Womans feet. With a tired sigh, she bent to pick it up, long beautiful fingers fidgeting with it as she slowly walked across the room toward me. A smile quirked the corners of her lips for a moment, until another cough racked her body, and she crumpled into a chair that I hadn’t noticed sitting there, like a string-cut puppet. After a series of coughs, she slowly straightened, fingers clenched so tightly around the little bow that her knuckles were white…which was some trick, considering her skin was somewhere between new-snow and ice—blue already.
Once she sat up, platinum-white hair falling off her shoulders like water over crystal boulders, she closed her quartz blue eyes for a moment, and then opened them and her fingers, tucking the little bow away in a pocket of the red power suit she wore.
Being ever considerate, I decided to speak first, to save her voice…or something like that, anyway. “Hi! Nice to finally meet you…how much did you say your name was?” Alright, so I’m a smart-ass, no surprise there. Again that tiny smile, the barest quirk of those beautiful lips.
“As it is “nice” to meet you, as well, Mr. Blake. Although one -could- wish for more congenial surroundings, I’m afraid you’ll have to make do, for now. Perhaps later, when you understand a bit more…we can be a bit more…accommodating.”
Buddys indrawn breath whistled in my ears, as the three of us bellied up side by side to look over the edge of the roof. Grinning, Buddy rolled over to look back to Prof, who simply raised a brow. Buddy laughed, his voice a hoarse whisper. “I can’t believe it! It’s really here…I thought you were shitting me.” Prof snorted. “I -do- occasionally know whereof I speak. Not, I’ll be the first to mention, often, but…”
I listened to them banter behind me, but couldn’t tear my eyes from the beautiful sight that lay in the courtyard below…long and sleek, with the angles and curves of some ’60’s idea of a spaceship, the extravagant sports car looked designed for stranger worlds than these. Her amber-red tail lights were slanted, like flirting eyes, and I knew there was nothing more beautiful in the world…I -would- drive that car. At least, I’d drive it when we delivered it…had a well-heeled enthusiast already lined up, waiting.
Gravel bit into my arms as I carefully backed away from the edge, toward my two temporary partners. Once I was sure it was safe, I sat up, shrugging one shoulder. “Uh-huh. It’s a real nice car. You sure we can get it out of there?” Buddy blinked, shaking his head disbelievingly. “You are one cold fish…”nice car”…” He snorted, still shaking his head.
Prof just nodded. “Got the owner-mans’ schedule by heart…he’s a man of routine, hasn’t moved from his safe little path in the three months I’ve been watching him. And this weekend he’ll be safely off to Bermuda with the missus…”
I nodded, turning to Buddy. “And you’re sure you can get the equipment? Tent and all?” He shrugged. “Sure…my cousins rig’s been sittin’ idle for a month now, he ain’t gonna notice if I borrow it a little. How we gonna get’em to believe the note’s from him, anyway?”
I looked to Prof. This part was his baby. He grinned, holding up a folder full of paper. “Owner-mans own stationery, already signed…he makes up a handful of these before he leaves, in case “anything happens”…isn’t that clever of him?” He chuckled, as Buddys grin got even wider. “Nice…”
I nodded, thinking to myself that the better part of this occupation wouldn’t be possible if the world were to get a sudden shot of smarts. “Ok, then. 7 sharp, outside the warehouse, tomorrow. See you both there.” They nodded, then turned back to their bragging conversation before I’d even made my way down from the roof. Once again I reflected how glad I was I’d never bothered with steady partners…enough time with idiots like these, and anyone’d lose a permanent point of intelligence.
Driving my little Accord home, like any law abiding citizen, I stopped for gas and ran her through the car wash…using the slow passage through the dark, wet, soapy tunnel to relax, like always. The soap froth made pictures on the windshield, formed and faded and formed again, and I zoned out to the sound of Tom Petty on the radio, till we emerged into the bright dark of a Seattle night.
Stopping only to grab a fat steak for the grill, I drove home at a “safe” pace, no more visibly conscious of the police presence on the highways than anyone. Steak, salad, and two carefully tended beers later, my head hit the pillow and the world went away.
If I dreamed that night, it was no more than a news report…”This was Your day, and You were There!” I hadn’t had what I would call a “real” dream since I was a kid. Of course, there was a -lot- that I hadn’t done since I was a kid. And a lot I had.
Bonnie Tyler was belting out “I Need A Hero” when the radio cut on that evening. I grinned to myself, swinging my legs over the side of the bed. Heroism was a self-correcting problem, as far as I was concerned. Grabbing the clean t-shirt and jeans off the ladderback chair by the window, I headed for the shower as the announcer began the rush-hour newsbreak.
A twenty minute walk later, I slipped behind the bar, giving a nod to the harried ‘tender already on shift. May rolled her eyes out of sight of the crowd, and I tossed her a sympathetic grin and slipped back into the familiar routine. My hands poured, opened, built and filled, working almost independently of my mind, till the Friday happy-hour crowd finally thinned, and I could afford to slump back and shake my head at Mays’ offer of a break. “You go ahead. I’m wired, tonight.” She just shrugged, and slipped out the pass-through with a grateful sigh.
I occupied myself wiping down the bar, stacking glasses, all the little crap that needed done before closing. The Queens Head was a nice enough place for the neighborhood, and the fact that it was in walking distance of home made it ideal for me as a base of operations. I checked my watch, glanced at the door, and rolled my eyes. Of course they were late. Probably stopped to take candy from some kid and got arrested. I was really going to have to look harder for good help, next time. And where was May? She should’ve been back in to take over for me…what…20 minutes ago now?
Signaling one of the servers to grab the bar for a minute, I headed toward the break room/storage area…and to the door into the not-quite-an-alley behind the bar. May always went out there to smoke, even though it was allowed inside. Said it didn’t feel right. But I didn’t smell cloves, and the door was open a bit. “May?” I moved cautiously toward the door, predator senses on alert. “May? Y’done yet? C’mon, honey, I want a break -sometime- tonight…” When I reached the door I threw it open, quickly jumping to one side…but nothing happened. More than nothing. It was dead quiet out there. No traffic sounds, no sirens, no usual music-played-too-loudly-through-bad-speakers from the local raver/skater punks…nothing. No. Not quite nothing…
A chill fog drifted silently through the door, sliding across the cement floor to pool around my feet. I caught a whiff of something…like perfume, but thicker. I shook my head. What the -hades- was going on here? I…I was looking for…someone. Someone who…who smelled like…cloves? No…like perfume. Like…this… I shook my head, harder, a low growl starting in the bottom of my throat. No…not right. Not at work…not here. I swallowed the growl, or tried to, but it came out more like a whine, as my knees buckled…and my head hit the floor. As my eyes closed, the last sight I saw was a gorgeous pair of ankles in mile-high red stilts. What? I’m a guy!
Being an empath is hard. Harder still, standing here. Those strings have played more feeling than the world is still capable of, and all I want to do is crawl into those memories, those times, good times and bad, and curl up forever, try to live in them, and not here. Not here, in the cold, waiting for the auction to start. Waiting for my heart to break.
Yeah, being an empath is hard…
(With all due credit to Spider Robinson, who taught me more about music and empathy in his books than anyone ever has in life. Also life, hope, joy, sadness, laughter, friends, family…thank you, Spider and Jeanne. Written for the Friday Fictioneers, like it says above, but it won’t let me link in a title, so here’s the link. ;p)
I sit up on the hill and watch until the fireworks fade, one hand idly twirling my ID badge on its distinctive red-white-and-blue lanyard.
Once the last sparkles have fallen into the lake, and the fire crews nearly have the blaze under control, I pull my worn and tattered little black book out of my pack. I remove the knotted rubber bands that hold the cover shut against the straining within, and carefully open it to one particular page.
With a grin, I take the worn stub of pencil from behind my ear, and make a checkmark next to “Fireworks Technician”. One more off the list. Then, carefully placing my ID badge (sans lanyard) between the pages, I reclose the little book and replace it in my pack, which I then throw over my shoulder.
Leaving the lanyard behind, tied in a pretty bow around the box of sprinklers I’d used to set the blaze, I turn my nose toward the moon, and set off in Her direction once again. Wonder what’s next…
Huddled together under the dubious safety of the Bridge, the Less watched the poisonous beauty rain down from the sky. They called them “Civs”, those who sent the terror, the flowers of sickness and death. Civs, short for civilized, for those who thought themselves risen past all ugliness and filth, all hunger, pain, and anger.
In the City, all was beauty and grace, peace and love. In the buildings so tall and willowy; grown, not created. Grown of the plague that was destroying humanity. The living seed of evil, machines smaller than the very air itself…machines that “fixed” everything, everywhere.
Gone was individuality, a cause for strife; property, breeder of jealousy; anger, pain, trauma…imagination, creativity, life.
Barely clinging to existence, those who called themselves The Less…careless, feckless, reckless…faceless…fought, carrying out a losing war against the Seed.
Soon, all would be at peace…beauty and grace rule the world. And as they watched the beautiful death that came for them, its light illuminating the shadows and dirt in which they existed…most of them could not regret its coming.
(whoops…forgot the linkie thing. Lots of neat little stories here. Go check’em out!)
in my heart she calls to me.
my leather-winged angel, nightsky hair shadowing her face,
deep crystal eyes misted with dew or bright and clear as desert sky.
singing soundlessly she walks the endless sandscape, wings thorn-pinned and ragged,
sun bleeding through to form pools of ebon beneath her feet.
mystic shadow patterns paint themselves in her wake,
infinite wisdoms all too quickly lost to the drifting, shifting sea of sand,
while high above the scavengers scream rakes the air.
her cedar wind bathes my soul,
blows through my thoughts with ice-rimmed clarity,
leaving behind only silence and the distant falcons cry.
The common saying…the eyes the window to the soul. Looking in, or looking out? Looking out, I see myself…the me I see that is to me the picture I present to thee. Can never truly see through lenses dusty with greasy dirty thoughts and fingerprints left by the ones who thought they saw you but only saw themselves, tiny and lost, trying to see through their own dirt and dust and prints. Back and forth you both go, you and the world, blur to blur, gaze to gaze. Intensity of stare, trying to see through smeary ghosts of the past, is mistaken for passion, for interest, when simple myopia of the soul is to blame.
Alright, I am now officially hopping off my arse and getting to serious work on our book. To recap, here’s the story so far…
On Kyotzeta’s one month birthday, I wrote that I had an as yet vague idea to publish some sort of collection or book to raise awareness of all kinds of abuse and try to give a voice to the silent ones as I’ve tried to do with my words for so long. I asked for contributions (non-monetary) to the book, in any form preferred…prose, poetry, photo, picture, etc. However, at the time, I had no idea what it would take to publish such a book, or even whether it should be free or have a minimal cost with all money donated to a charity…
Over the weeks since then, I’ve (slowly) researched and thought about it, and so far these are my conclusions. Since this is to be -our- book, if anyone has any comments, complaints, suggestions or just plain ideas, please please please feel free to comment below!
So what we have so far:
The book will be (tentatively) titled Bones of Ash, Heart of Glass, and will take the form of a free e-book that anyone can download. (Not sure about format, going to try to go for the publishing software/site that has the most choices and yet still allows free books) I’m -considering- setting up some sort of donation site as well, but that will be separate from the book if possible. (*sighs* Why is it so -complicated- to do something good??)
Of course, all submissions will be properly attributed, and submitters will have the option of writing a short descriptional blurb for an “Authors” page. On the other hand, all submissions -must- be your own intellectual property, or something you have permission to use in this fashion. I know this hardly needs said… 🙂
Submissions should be sent to my email, email@example.com, with “book submission’ in the title. I want to try to have this done by fall, if possible, hopefully coinciding with the new school year…so the sooner you get me your submissions the better…on the other hand, don’t rush. Hopefully once I start collecting and organizing my stuff I’ll have a better idea of what kind of timeline we’re looking at…
Hrrmm…I think that’s all I have for now, except to say Thank You for considering this project, I think we’re going to do wonderful things toward the ultimate goal…raising awareness of every facet of abuse, giving a voice to all the silent ones and hope to the hopeless. *hugs*
KC & Co.
She tucks her hair into her hood, tugging the fabric forward to shade her face. Kneeling, she opens the bag at her feet, checking that all within is as it should be. Satisfied, she stands, bag in hand, and without a further glance behind, sets out on her journey.
red as blood, black as night,
shadows shield me from her sight,
lead me when I start to stray,
that I might live another day.
mother moon hearken to me,
father darkness hear my plea,
hold me safe and free from harm,
and shield me under sheltering arm.
The moons light filters sparsely through the trees, causing more shadows than she relieves. The girl in the hood slips silently among the shifting shades, all senses alert and poised for action. A tiny far off squeak is heard and dismissed. The death cry of some small prey, most likely. A moment later, she drops lithely to one knee, hand going out to hover over the damp leaf covered ground. Her sharp eyes scan the leaves, then move to a nearby bush…and she nods, decisively. Standing again, she moves off in a different direction, eyes scanning the ground in front of her intently.
a howl of warning fills the air
a cry of mourning and despair
the red ones hunt! the speaker cries
and gulping, hard, I close my eyes
a shifting perfume on the wind
one testing sniff and it is pinned
closer than I like to see
the red hood knight still follows me
Shrugging to adjust her armor under her bright scarlet tabard and hood, she follows the trail, eyes intent and almost glowing with excitement and eagerness. Getting close now…she can almost taste the sour-sweat-and-blood that is the mark of the Beast she hunts. A howl rings out through the forest, and she snarls under her breath, eyes touched with disgust. Filthy murdering beasts. Momentarily, her senses are filled with the scent/taste/sight of hot apple pastries cooling on her Nona’s counter. She snarls again, and shakes her head, dispelling the image. No time for sentiment…it’s killing time.
running hard through forests deep
I dream of home, and warmth, and sleep
of friendly faces in firelight
anything but this cold flight
my heartbeat pounds within my chest
as if a bird fought in my breast
my legs are made for running far
but now each footfall seems to jar
Her breath quickens, along with her pace, as she feels the trail grow more obvious, easier to follow. The beast panics, running blind. Her grin is feral beneath the scarlet hood. Soon it will fall, and then it will end. Ever vigilant, she watches for an ambush, although she doubts there will be one. The beast is alone.
my breath is shallow, eyes are glazed
yet still I run. I am amazed
a-mazed I am, a mouseling, trapped
in territory long unmapped
I dare not turn my head for fear
of red-crossed knight who runs so near
I know she comes, I feel her eyes
I know her ears can hear my sighs
She shrugs her shoulders again to loosen the strap of the bag on her back, letting it slip into her hand as she runs. Reaching within she withdraws a gleaming silver knife with an enameled red cross for pommel, and a scarlet thong with a small glass flask hanging from it. Slipping the bag back behind her, the knife into a specially made pocket, and the thong around her neck under the hood, she continues forward, cautiously.
I stumble onwards through the night
my heart beats like a bird in flight
my ears hear running footsteps, nigh
as moonlight beams down from on high
one more stumble and I’m done
my traitor legs refuse to run
I crumple to the forest floor
let death come, I’ll run no more
She hears the dull thud of a large body hitting the ground ahead of her, and she hurries forward, ears alert to any further sound of movement. None comes, and she grins as she pulls the gleaming knife from its holder. Moving cautiously into the clearing, she sees the beast lying with its back to her, curled into itself, shaking with fear and exhaustion. The long grey tail matted with blood and sweat, the fur-covered ribs heaving with each panicked breath…it is harmless now. Only prey for the taking. With a quick prayer, she drips a bit of consecrated oil from the flask at her throat onto the blade, and shaking her head so that her hood falls back, she steps toward her prize. She will stare into its eyes as she…
moonlight shines on midnight black
the fall of hair hangs down her back
her deep brown eyes look shocked, afraid
as she stands before me, scarlet arrayed
a tear runs down through matted fur
as overcome, I stare at her
she drops the knife from open hand
and weaves as if she cannot stand
I close my fear glazed eyes and wait
I know full well my future fate
I hear her drop down to her knees
in the clearing, beneath the trees
her words are shaky and unclear
her voice a ringing in my ear
I grit my teeth, and wait for death
each breath I take is my last breath
I feel her hand upon my face
I feel her fingers move, and trace
I hear her voice, and my heart shivers
with the pain and sorrow it delivers
She stares at the beast as she lies before her, oh-so-familiar features made strange and warped. But oh, those eyes. Those soft brown eyes that she had seen all her young life, that she had thought gone forever. With one shaking hand, she reaches forward, turning the creatures muzzle and leaning down to lay her cheek against the sweat-matted fur. Cautiously, a long grey arm moves to hold her close…and she weeps. For the one before her…for herself…for the long wasted years. Curled up on the forest floor, the moonlight streaming down on them, she weeps.