Friday, May 19, 2017

A Glint of Something Shiny

Jemma sat on the edge of the dock and kicked her flip flops off her feet. Sitting down, she dangled them in the brownish-green waters of Old Pond. The heat of the day had leeched much of the soothing coolness from the liquid, leaving it tepid at best. But it was still better than nothing.
The air felt thick and heavy, and a misty haze made Jemma's vision feel blurry. She hunched her shoulders and peered into the brackish water. Curious sun fish hovered around her feet, and a hungrier one took curious a nip at her toes.

"Ow, you little booger," she said with half a grin. She chased the bigger fish with her foot when she saw the glint of something shiny deeper in the pond. Jemma squinted, trying to make out what it was. Despite the haze of the summer day, whatever was down there caught the liquid sunshine and sent it back through the murky waters in little blades of amber light.

She considered taking off her clothes, but then with a shrug heaved herself into the water with her shirts and t-shirt, and the fish that had gathered close to the dock, scattered into the murk.
It'll feel cooler when I get out, she thought.

The water slithered over her, and rather than refreshing, the  liquid covered her skin with a film that was revolting and warm. The smell of decomposing vegetation and pond scum filled her nose and she frowned and tried not to gag.

"I want a pool. This is nasty," she muttered. But the light slanted up from the bottom. It seemed brighter. Jemma took a deep breath and dove down into the water, pushing with her arms and kicking with her feet. She opened her eyes, which stung more than normal, the world was a blurry mess, but she could see the light danging down below and moved towards it.

Crooked branches, and tangles of water-weeds snagged at her arms and legs as she drew closer to the light. She could feel her pulse beating in her chest and head as she moved deeper, the water seemed to grow even warmer. Jemma remembered the time she had fallen into Mr. Cabbras' compost pit when she and Bill Compton had been horsing around in the neighborhood, sinking up to her elbows in the warm rot. She'd screamed, and could still remember the stink of rotten vegetables and decomposing grass - but it was the warmth of it that had terrified her so - so alive. Bubbles broke from her nose and mouth.

But then the light was right before her. She reached out and curled her fingers around it - it was soft, and pliable - like a bulb of flesh, but it glowed like a small star.

She barely registered the muck at the bottom of the pond yawning open beneath her, the sudden movement sucking her into a maw. The pressure was sudden and crushing, and Jemma felt herself pressed against a wall that was both bony and slick with mucus. The air that was in her lungs exploded out and then drifted up.

Jemma breathed water, choked and tried to find the sky, desperately trying to follow her bubbles towards air. She managed to get her arms and legs to move together to swim backwards. Out of the darkness - she could see the world closing around her - and even though it was blurry, she could see the teeth.

I'm hardly a mouthful, she thought, trying to ignore the burning in her lungs. Bright spots began to swim in her vision. And she kicked hard, aiming for where the last of her bubbles were floating. Her hand broke the surface, but there was nothing to grab onto. The jaws closed around her waist - and she tried to scream, but drew in only water.

Prompt: A Glint of Something Shiny
Written: Feb. 23, 2017

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Thank You!

I recently started a Patreon page and have already started to benefit from the support of friends and fans. This post is to thank them personally. To my friend, and writing buddy who wishes to remain anonymous, thanks for being my first patron. You rule, bud. We're going to make great things.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Fixer-upper

(By Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO (http://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1638a/) [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Dan opened the door to the access tunnel and frowned.

"What a mess," he muttered. The wires looked as though they had been chewed through by vermin. And worse, some of the piping that supplied the illumination gasses would need to be replaced as well. He shined his flashlight down the access tunnel.

"Son of a bitch. This is going to take all day - half the galaxy is out," he said. Dan flipped open his heavy-duty tool box. The smell of oiled metal, rust, and leather wafted out. It was a good smell. An honest smell. His tools were neatly arranged in small compartments, pliers, assorted wrenches, wooden handled screwdrivers that had become smooth with use, a hand-crank drill, and a set of fine hand knives for cutting out shapes in the darkness.

He got to work removing wires that were too frayed and chewed through to be fixed, and unwinding a fresh thread of silvery filament from a spool he snipped it off without having to measure. Using the pliers he fixed the wire to the connections, and he screwed them back into place. The quiet repetition of the job was soothing and he found his mind drifting pleasantly as he worked. Thinking about hitting the Corner Mart and picking up a nice steak and green beans for dinner. Sally, prim and dainty as she was, loved steaks.

Dan finished with the rewire and grabbed his adjustable wrench, and began to work loose the damaged pipes. He had to go back to his truck to get new tubing, and he looked back at the galaxy, frowning. It didn't look right without lights. He found himself trotting back to the access board to finish up. Fitting the new pipes wasn't too difficult. Hardest part was cutting them to the correct length and welding it. It wasn't hard, just tedious.

Dan finished the last few connections and smiled at his work. He walked the length of the access port, checking connections and ports. Everything was looking good when he heard a soft cooing sound. Dan reached for his tool belt and grabbed his wrench peering into the darkness. The noise grew louder, and suddenly a soft glow threw shadows against the wall, and Dan saw the celestial squid and sighed.

"You're the one who caused all the damage? I oughta crack you one," he said. The squid, which was fully glowing with alarm colors, was completely tangled in fiberoptic webbing matrix. This happened every once in awhile, the numb things would see the glow and think they were going to find a mate. Then there was some softer chirping, and Dan saw a half dozen little baby squids glowing and tugging at their mom's tentacles.

"Ah, you daft blighter, hold still will ya?" he put his wrench back in the belt loop and taking his small exacto-knife, began slicing through the webbing. When he first approached with the knife, the babies flared bright blue and wrapped their little tentacles around his fingers, nipping at his knuckles with their beaks. But Dans hands were callused, and they couldn't break the skin.

"Hush, you nutters, I'm gettin' yer mum out, Yeah, yeah, it's not like I put her there," he said mostly to himself, letting the things bite at him.

Soon, the celestial squid was free of the matrix and she zipped a few feet away from Dan and regarded him with one of her saucer-sized eyes. She was still glowing, but now it was with softer blues and lavenders - she looked like a galaxy all her own. Dan wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that was the case.

"Alright, you best clear out, miss. I have to re-install the matrix and I can't do it with you gawking at me. Now git," he said waving his arms. One of the squid's tentacles reached out and curled around his arm. It squeezed gently and released, and Dan found himself blushing.

"Weren't nothing, miss. You take care of yourself," he said. She glided away, hustling her babies with her.

He worked for another few hours, getting the matrix in place. When it was done, he flipped the switch. There was a few flickers, and then the lights began to shine steadily. Dan smiled and headed back to his truck.

Driving away, he looked in his rear-view mirror and the arms of the galaxy shone brightly. A deep sense of satisfaction welled up inside him as he flipped his turn signal and headed to the Corner Mart.

Prompt: Pliers and Wrenches
Written: Feb. 2, 2017

Friday, January 27, 2017

Lone Wolf


(Photo by Oliver Stein - Homepage of Oliver Stein http://www.estelar.de/mond/20031109/mofi.htm)
Hank poured some of the near-boiling coffee into the thin paper cup, wincing as it singed his fingers. He had tucked the books he needed under his arm, squeezing them awkwardly against his ribs as he tried dispense the powdered creamer into his drink. Small delicate hand reached over his, plucking the non-dairy creamer from his hands and began to mix it for him.

Hank startled and the books under his arm toppled to the floor with a thud that caused every head in the cramped basement to turn in his direction.

"My fault!" said the girl who was now adding two sugars to his coffee. She had dirty blonde hair that looked like she'd cut it herself. Her eyes were two different colors, one brown as the coffee, the other a blue that was so light it was almost white. Everyone in the room turned back to their own conversations and the dull drone picked back up as though it had never happened.

"How did you know I liked sugar?" asked Hank, as he stooped to pick up his books. Call of the Moon had landed face up and was none the worse for wear. Lycanthropy: Fact or Fiction now had an ugly crease across the front cover, and Hank frowned as he tried to smooth it out.

"You smell sweet," she said with a grin. "We don't get a lot of your kind here."

"Werewolves?" he said, feeling the blood rush to his face again. She arched a brow and blinked at him.

"Um, well..." she paused looking at him closely. Then held out a hand. "Waverly."

"Hank," said Hank, and shook her hand, feeling calluses on her palm.

"How did it happen for you?" she asked.

Hank picked up the coffee and took a deep pull. It was still far to hot, and he burned his tongue and hissed.

"I... I was attacked," he said and he could feel has hands shaking. Waverly reached out and took the coffee from him before it could splash over the sides.

"They killed my wife, and I... I don't know how I survived, but I did."

He had been in the hospital for weeks on end. Nothing but white walls, beeping and constant interruptions instead of sleep. But it had been better than home. He thought he was ready for home. But he could smell her everywhere. He didn't remember what happened, but when he woke up again, her clothes had been ripped to shreds and pictures pulled from the walls and smashed. Until there was nothing left that smelled like her. Until her eyes didn't watch him from the walls, asking him why he was still there and she was cold and gone.

"That's how I knew I was a monster. Who could do that? It was all I had left of her," he said, his voice cracking.

Waverly hugged him. She smelled nothing like his wife. Nothing like any woman he'd ever smelled. Musky and wild, and he sobbed into her shoulder. No one looked over that them.

"Shh, honey, shh. You're not a monster, baby," she whispered, rubbing his back. She guided him to a seat, sat him down and pushed the coffee back into his hands. "And you know in your heart that we didn't attack you or your lady, or you wouldn't be here."

Hank shook his head, wiping at his eyes.

"But I don't remember things... And the moon. It was a full moon when they killed her," he said.

She stared at him with her mismatched eyes, and he could see the tears she was holding back.

"I got bit when I was eight.Before I knew what I was doing, I chased down down a deer with the neighbor's dogs. Then we went after the three-year-old Jenkin's boy, Greg caught me before we got him. Gave be this," she pushed her hair back and he could see a scar of puncture wounds on the back of her neck. She pointed to the sleight man in his sixties with silver hair and wire-rim glasses. "He saved me from killing that poor kid. Told me I wasn't an animal. Showed me I wasn't. I didn't believe him for a long time, but then, eventually something clicked."

"But I am," he said. "I know I am."

"No, honey. You're just lost. But that's okay, we all are. Why don't you stay here and listen to the meeting. You can talk if you want, everyone gets a chance to talk."

Hank stared at her mismatched eye, then nodded.

The sleight man with the wire rims stood up. The side-talk and laughter died away.

"Welcome to Lycan's Anonymous, I'm Greg and I'm a werewolf."

"Hi Greg!" said the crowd. Hank looked at the backs of people's heads, some were long braids, other buzzed close to the scalp, some tattooed, others nothing but various hues of skin.

As the meeting went on, many people spoke about being infected, some had killed someone they love, others had learned about their infection before they turned and learned how to manage it. Some talked about how their families and friends left them one, by one. About the isolation.

Hank was crying now. Waverly handed him a tissue.

"Does anyone else want to share a story?" asked Greg.

Hank stood up.

"Hi, I'm Hank. I'm..." he paused and looked at the sea of faces looking him. "I thought I was a were-wolf. But.." He could feel his throat close.

"Hi Hank," said Waverly, and other voice joined in until they blended and became one voice, helping him stand.

"My wife was killed. I was hospitalized. When I came home, I couldn't deal with her being gone and I destroyed everything she touched," he said. "Now it's just me. I'm so tired of being alone."

Hands clapped him on the back, at least one tousled his hair. A gesture that would have infuriated him yesterday, made him feel an overwhelming surge of love.

"You don't have to be alone, hun. We're all here for you. You're welcome any time," said Waverly. Everyone around him nodded.

"But, I'm not..."

"Shh," said Waverly. "We know, baby. We know."

#
Prompt: [CP] A man pretending to be a werewolf

Friday, December 2, 2016

The color of pain

Prompt: The color of pain

It sparkled, casting dancing rainbows across the earth it caught the light. All the colors that ever were hung suspended, contained. Lil gasped, shocked that she could see so much, it was beautiful. The most beautiful thing she had seen since... Frowning she turned her thoughts away from that particular memory and focused on what was right in front of her. It was rare that she could indulge this way, but time stretched out like taffy just for her.

She reached out, and touched it with her finger - it still felt warm. She brought her finger to her lips and licked: salt. She sucked the liquid from her skin and shivered. Exquisite.

She turned her eyes back to the couple as they were leaving, clinging to each other - eyes wide. The tear she had tasted was the first the earth had known. But it wouldn't be the last. It was all she could do not to laugh.

Time lurched forward and the pair stumbled into the vastness of the world, leaving behind paradise and watering the earth with their tears.

Lilith smiled to herself watching her husband and his new wife wander away from paradise. Pain wasn't something she could feel - not really. But she still enjoyed it.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Spider Tale


Awhile back, this image was posted to /r/spiders - and cute as it is, the image is rather grim when you take a moment to think about what is actually goin on in the image. Rather than face reality, I wrote a little story with my preferred version of events.

Shh. Shh. It's okay.

I will tell you a story.

Once upon a time, in a land of silk and dewdrops lived a spider. She was clever and quick and caught many a fierce fly for dinner.

She fell in love with a dashing little male spider and they had a beautiful egg sac filled with children. They had hundreds of babies, each one more beautiful and clever than the last. The mama spider loved her babies and would give each one a hug and a kiss goodnight.

Being such a skilled huntress, she never felt hungry and she and her children went on to populate all of the earth with adorable spiderlings who liked to hug and kill nasty flies.


The End

Friday, September 9, 2016

Letters of Note during the Fall of the Dominion

Author's note: After writing about the Champion of Cyrodiil becoming a mass murderer while using the game-breaking 100-percet chameleon on reddit, I joked that people could "Give me your head-cannon and I'll tell you a tale." This was the challenge I received.

Prompt: The Stormcloaks ally their independent skyrim with Hammerfell making High Rock automatically join them (it's surrounded). The Dragonborn goes on to fulfill his destiny and become the next Emperor starting with the three mentioned nations then expanding by using his army of Dragons (who bowed to him for defeating Alduin) to crush the Dominion. J'Zargo gets promoted to Arch Mage as a result Aela is Harbinger and Brynjolf becomes guildmaster of the Thieves Guild. GO

---


This letter was found in the back room of a local brothel in Dragonstar, Hammerfell, in a strongbox filled with gold and gems, next to a case of Blackbriar Mead.

Magda,

It seems unlikely Maven is going to see her rise to power. Though she is a powerful ally locally, with her ties to the Empire cut, she will go no higher than where she is.

We need to lay the groundwork for business is Hammerfell. I’m sending Vex, along with a shipment of weapons to Dragonstar. We need to reach out and start getting markets open. She’s going to stay behind and help organize with your help. You’ve always gotten on. And Vex isn’t really the “getting on” type.

I’m looking to you to smooth things over with the local toughs. You’ve always been able to sweeten the deal with that silver tongue of yours, love. Make sure they know that the coin will flow both ways if we get this ring off the ground. I know you have ties with the Alik’r and I know they need a few more sharp blades on their side. We want to be those blades – for the right price.
I don’t plan on using knuckles and knives unless we have to. Just want to expand our business opportunities. Send my love to your Uncle Scheb. Shadow hide you.

-B

---

This is the official letter of resignation of Colette Marence. Found in her the desk in her quarters after a fire where she unfortunately met her demise.

After a great deal of thought, self-reflection and deliberation I have decided that my services at the College of Winterhold are coming to an end. I feel my talents are not being fully utilized, and to be frank, no one takes me seriously. When I brought up the remarks that Nirya made about my lessons, I was laughed at.

I will not be laughed at any more. I’m going to return to High Rock. I have recently accepted a position at court. I want to wish you all the best, but I’ve never been a very good liar. It will be nice to be really and truly warm once again.

-Colette Marence
Professor in the School of Restoration


Also on the desk was this note for the Arch-Mage

Colette,

This one wishes to see your report on my new Sunfire scrolls first thing in the morning. No more excuses.

Walk ever on warm sands,

Arch-Mage J’Zargo

---

Journal of Aela

[date]

Ria has taken the blood today. I knew she would make a good shield-sister, and it is nice to bolster the ranks of the Circle after so many have decided to follow in Kodlak’s footsteps. I, for one, shall never tire of this hunt – and an eternity in the Hunting Grounds thrills my blood.

[date]

Vilkas is right, it is foolish to keep the Circle to only those who have tasted the blood of Hircine. Even I can see Athis is ready for more responsibility and it is time to recruit more cubs.

[date]

The Dragonborn sent us word that vampires are after some artifact. I’ve taken to rooting them out where I can. I still miss her. Our hunts were… intense.

[date]

Hircine has granted me a vision of destroying more vampires. We have struck up an alliance with the Dawnguard. Apparently, Isran knew our Dragonborn as well. She leaves an impression wherever she goes.

[date]

Rumors of war. Perhaps she will call on an old friend. Perhaps we can hunt again once more. I know Farkas has made noise about finding a boat to the encampment. I would not deny him this. I may not deny myself this.

[date]

Vilkas has promised to watch over the New Bloods. Farkas and I shall hunt with our sister once more. In my blood I feel this pleases both Ysgramor and Hircine. But even if it did not - I would see her once more.

---

The Devastation of the Dominion

This correspondence was found in a safe in a cleverly concealed room in the Imperial Offices of the Penitus Oculatus some 50 years after the the New Dragonborn Emperor Crushed the Dominion. Scholars have dated them to the era, but cannot verify how accurate these accounts are. A small journal was found with it - apparently, the daughter of Baratus Deccata brought the letters he received to Ben Laprey, Commander of the Imperial Penitus Oculatus.

Ms. Deccatus,

Your father was a great man. Thank you for your generous donation of these letters. It allows us to have a better reckoning of the Empire's role, such as it was, in the rise of the Empress.
For obvious reasons, we cannot make this ledger public. But you may come and read our compilation any time.

Yours in thought and word,

Scibe Paulus Varutt

---

Baratus you old ghost! You know how much I pay to get my messages to you? Least you can do is not send the poor fools back empty handed. Your last report was pathetic. We all know the Stormcloaks won the day - and frankly, it's a blow. But don't despair just yet - I have some connections in Hammerfell and High Rock. There are some strings left to be pulled.

But you need to send me more information on this Dragonborn. Is it what they are saying? She can not only kill them, but command them? The bards in these parts would have us believe the woman can reach into the chest of one of those drakes, rip out its still beating heart and eat it while it looks on. It's actually my favorite song. But the truth - quickly.

-BL


Sir,

I wish I could dismiss the stories you've heard, but after a brief stay in that wretched island the Dunmer bought from the East Empire, the Dragons have been flocking to her. Between the Sky-Fell Alliance that Ulfric brokered with Hammerfell they've pressed High Rock into a forced truce. Skyrim may not be our ally, but it doesn't take a seer to guess their next move.

I would tell the Council they need to be prepared to bow down fast and low if she has her beasties wing this way.

I hate to waste your time with rumors, but I've heard this one too many times to discount it: Blades are said to have found an old holdout in the Reach. If you have any of the old records, it might be time to dust them off. If they aren't with the Dragonborn, they are likely to be weak as tissue.

-Specter Baratus Deccata


Baratus,

Get your ghost-ass into that damn army. You are to be eyes only. Report as you can. Do not compromise your cover.

---

Six month gap

---

Sir,

We have word that the Crystal Tower has fallen. The High Elves are laying down arms. Full report at debrief.

BD



We need you to come back here, Ghost. We can't debrief you from the Isles.

Ben



Sir,

I hope once you read these words you will someday find it in your heart to forgive me. But with the loss of the Emperor still raw, I never thought I would ever feel the same. But if you had seen it -
She doesn't control the dragons. At least not with magic. They respect her. They love her. When she speaks, the world trembles.

And that's how we all felt about her. Not one to command from afar, the Dragonborn Empress held meetings with all her commanders - laid out the plan, and would then move with the infantry. Anyone who tried to argue with her ended up in a brawl.

I know it sounds funny, but knuckles could command better than even that Th'um of hers.

She saved my life, Ben. And I think I saved hers. Though it's hard to tell. These types seem immortal.

The dragons devastated the Elven defenses - much as they devastated Skyrim's until she brought them round. Our forces on the ground had it easy, mopping up panicked routers and pressing onward, securing our retreat.

It was easier than it should have been. But it just proves the point that we'd been bleeding the Altmer as much, if not more, than they'd bled us. We just blinked first.

But that's not why I'm staying. I'm staying for her. I know, you'll think it foolish that an old man is taken with a lass, who by all accounts was rounded up and sent to the block at the start of Skyrim's civil war. But I've been smart for most of my career. I'm fairly certain I've earned one bout of stupidity.

To hear her talk to the Dragons is enough to bring most folk to their knees. But when she's just with the soldiers, she relaxes. Has a bit of mead and venison and sings the old songs with us. And she would sing with me. And when I sing, I get foolish. But so does she, apparently.

To see her fight is to see death dance. I think if you had been here, you'd be staying too.

I can't tell you where we're going next. I can't write you again. If you try to contact me, I'll kill your couriers. But just make sure everyone is ready when she comes home. You can deal with me then.

Baratus Deccatus
Order of the Dragon