Friday, September 25, 2015

Mid-life magery

[WP] A world where magic exists, and is tied into the caster's emotional state. Young, passionate people can cast powerful but fleeting spells, older and wiser folks cast more enduring, practical spells.

(It should be noted that I did not post this on reddit, though I did read the prompt there)
August 3, 2015

The curtains caught on fire. Again.

The fire alarms burst into raucous life for the third time that morning and it wasn’t even 9 a.m.

Sandra clapped her hands and a small thundercloud appeared over the cheerfully burning drapes and a small downpour extinguished the flames. A wave of her hand sent the smoke out the window and tousled her hair, and electricity still crackled around her eyes as she stared at Maeve. The two-year-old was still screaming, waves of heat were rippling off of her.

“That was naughty!” she said. “You could get a boo-boo and you ruined your curtains.”

More screams. Sandra took a breath, and the air around her became cool, then cold and she scooped up the toddler, who buried her face in the crook of her shoulder and neck and sobbed. Maeve felt like the heart of a star.

“Shh,” said Sandra, trying to feel her own cool, but even though she could see her breath dance in front her eyes, evidence of the cold, all she could feel was the heat. She began to hum Maeve’s favorite lullaby and the heat began to ebb, slowly at first. Soon the only thing that remained of the toddler’s outburst was soggy singed curtains, matted sweaty hair and a tearstained face.

“Let’s get a snack, bug,” said Sandra, letting the girl down gently and taking her by her hand. The girl scrabbled up into her booster-seat, only threatening to fall out once – well, technically twice, but Sandra only saw the one time.  The enchantment laid into the floor would allow for an uncomfortable, but safe, bounce on semi-rubber surface. The runes for rubberization were expensive but had prevented trips to the ER on more than one occasion – it had also saved her crystal punch bowl. Sandra had stepped on a wooden block barefoot and dropped it while clutching at the arch of her foot.

The doorbell rang. Sandra drew in her breath sharply and handed Maeve her bowl of banana and apple slices before peeking through the glass. A spike or irritation at not being called was mixed with the sheer joy of not being alone. She opened the door and smiled, absently touching her hair that was clumped into a loose and stringy ponytail.

“Hi, Mom,” said Sandra.

The smaller woman, silver hair popped primly in a bun, stepped forward and cupped Sandra’s face with the palm of her hand, she then smoothed it through her hair, and Sandra felt cleaner and more put together. It was wonderful. When she touched her hair, an intricate braid had woven itself in her hair.

“You look beautiful,” said Blanche.

“You’ll have to teach me that one,” said Sandra, and her mom smiled.

“Gammy!” hooted Maeve from her booster seat, and bananas splatted to the floor. But when Blanche bent down to kiss her granddaughter – the bits of fruit marched themselves over to the compost bin.
Blanche straightened and opened her mouth to say something when the earth shook beneath her feet and she steadied herself by holding on to the wall.

“My goodness, what on Earth was that?” she asked, her silvered eyebrows arching.

“Next door,” said Sandra with a sigh. “Candice’s daughter stayed out past curfew. Candi has gotten really good at her bindings – but I think Samantha is tinkering with her Wrath of God invocations.”

Blanche laughed.

“You used to be amazing at those. Broke all the windows in the house when I grounded you for seeing that Connor boy,” she said.

Sandra rubbed her hand over her reddening face. “Don’t remind me – I can’t wait until this one starts up with that.”

“Oh, there’s plenty of time for that,” said Blanche, pulling Sandra in for a hug. “You’ll be fine.”

Friday, September 18, 2015

Late Blooming

You've finished a meal you've no money for.

July 27, 2015

It had been so long. How long was hard to say since there was no light here. For days - maybe years or centuries - I had refused to touch the food. Banquets of heaped food left in piles to rot. I would not eat it.

The dead milled around it, looking at the food their master had laid out. Their eyes held confusion - as though they recognized it as food, but no longer knew what to do with it. The dead eat little.

But it was the seeds. I have a thing for them - comes from my mother. So I would walk the garden and brush my fingers over the strange fruit that grew there. The skin felt strange - dried, like leather. But it was fruit, and my stomach growled.

The juice was dripping down my chin when the Gardener found me, crouched in the corner, the rind of the pomegranate at my feet. They tasted of blood and life and they stained my teeth and filled me with strange life and stranger death.

I had no coins to pay. We all knew I would be paying with currency that was my time and my body. I licked my lips, feelings the seeds in my belly and I smiled, and the Gardener recoiled from the sight. Already roots were pushing through my body and blooming in this dark place.

Seeds are my domain and the lord of death would see spring. I would take root in his grim heart, and push it apart to see the sky once more.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Summer Foal

July 26, 2015

[OT] Sunday Free Write: Leave A Story, Leave A Comment - Space Walk Edition! 
(NOTE: I actually got the idea from the title of a post in the thread).

"The damn thing's breech, Sara," Jed said, and sweat trickled down his forehead, threatening to seep into his eyes. He rubbed his face across his shoulder. He braced his feet, and grabbed on to the slippery fucker with both hands.

Though he'd birthed foals dozens of times on the farm, this one was going down in Harkin history as the worst he'd ever dealt with. The mare had bit him on approach, which was his own fault for being careless. But she'd tried to kick him every chance she got - the numb bitch had no idea he was saving her life. Which was par for the course when it came to horses. And as horses went, Nandy was thicker than most.

All of this would have been fine if the temperature hadn't been hovering around 100 in the shade. And the smell. He knew he was just in a bad mood for this sort of thing, but the smell was just making him nauseous and prodding at the headache that was growing behind his eyes. The blood and mucus and manure all mixed together coating his nostrils and tongue and gagging him whenever he took a deep breath.

Usually doesn't bother me, he thought as he fixed his grip on the foal and heaved. I like the smell of horse.

The thing got stuck, and he spat a curse that his wife would give him hell for later, but for now she just wiped his forehead and waited for him to get the animal out of its mother so she could help.

He heaved, knowing that if he wasn't quick the mother could go into shock and die. And she was too young for that. He felt rather than heard a bone pop out of joint, but then the foal lid from it's mother, neat as could be. Well, neat as any birth can be.

"Mother of God, Jed, look at its back," said Sara.

Normally, Sara swearing would have been enough to send Jed ducking for cover - but he'd seen it too, as the foal landed in a tangle of legs on the stained blanket his wife had laid out: Wings. One was flopping loosely on its back, but the other stretched, still covered in the slime and blood of birth, and then folded like a bird's. They were complete with little spindly pinfeathers and down, matted with bloody gook.

Both of them just stared in silence, the mare began to lick the birth off the baby and it staggered to its spindly feet and began to look for her teat and its first meal.

"We need to kill it, Jed," she said, her voice hard and her eyes wide. She didn't wait for him, and had already crossed the barn and picked up the maul he used to split firewood. He noticed that she was white as milk, and semi-circles of sweat had stained under her arms and along her back.

Jed moved over and looked at the baby. Despite her earlier grouchiness, the mare let him check over the foal, content to clean it. The thing had latched on to a nipple and was having its first meal. It shivered as Jed touched it's limp wing, and by feel he could tell it was only out of joint. He wiped his hands on his coveralls, then took hold of the wing, and with a deft movement popped it back in place.
The foal paused in his suckling to give a pained cry. Nandy's ears went flat, but once the foal settled she continued to ignore Jed.

Sara was looking at him, wisps of her dark hair had come free of her braid. She held the maul and both hands and was staring at him, her lips pressed into a thin line. Jed knew as well as any man the signs of his wife's smoldering temper. But there are some things a man won't do.

"I ain't killing our foal, Sara Harkin. Stop being foolish," he said.

"It's a demon," she said and hefted the maul and made to shove past him and he took it - not from her, but held it with her. She tried to move it, but Jed Harkin was many things, but weak wasn't one of them, and it felt like trying to move a hundred-year-old oak.

"It's a horse. Nandy's been with the farm since we been wed, woman."
She tried one last time to move the tool, and then let go. Jed knew that he would be eating leftovers for dinner.

"The neighbors won't like it. Us having a demon," she said, but her voice had softened. A silvery tear dropped from her eye, missing her cheek entirely. "I told you Old Bill weren't the father. Nandy would never let him near her."

He released the maul, and wrapped his wife in his arms. She was stiff at first, but as he held her, she eased her head on his shoulder and tucked under his chin. He touched her soft hair.

"Neighbors don't like our pigs, neither," he said, his voice gentle rumble in his chest. "Help me wash him down. You'll like your demon better once he's had a bath."

Friday, September 4, 2015

Something Blue


June 29, 2015


Liquid blue light, carved into facets and set in twisted metal. And it was mine.

I lifted the pendant from the box, and it flashed in the darkness - laughing at its newfound freedom. I stared at it, seeing its soul, hearing its song. It felt warm in my hand and I laughed with sheer joy, no longer caring if they heard me. She loved me so much and I loved her.

I could feel gentle fingers cover my hand, bending my fingers away from the stone - pulling her away from me. Sadness, also blue - but not blue like she was. Darker, like the deep night and it filled me.

"Please, no. I love her," I said, and tears filled my eyes. Filled my whole body.

"Quickly," said the voice. "It may already be too late. Quickly, damnit."

The lid was snapped shut and her light was cut off. And they closed the lid on the box and I know I was screaming, but I couldn't feel my throat. I couldn't feel them pulling me away.

I just saw the blue that was gone.

"I know," said a voice that sounded so far away. It sounded sad, and kind.

"It will be all right," said the voice. I sensed them putting me in restraints, but I stopped resisting.
I looked at the man, I remembered him only vaguely - he owned the museum. He was... my mark? I closed my eyes and sobbed. Nothing made sense.

"Look at me," he said. And I did, my eyes still spilling tears. My heart still breaking again and again.

A bottle was pressed to my lips and hot liquor poured into my mouth. I gasped and choked, and suddenly he was clearly in front of me.

"Oh, shit." I said, I was in a wheeled chair, arms bound, the man I was supposed to rob standing with three armed men. He waved away my words like they were troublesome flies. Unconcerned with things like robbery.

"We both got lucky, old man," he said. "Too much longer, and it would have been too much for you. Too much for either of us. Honestly, chum - I don't know what to do with her."

His eyes held something familiar in them. Something blue.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Back to school

This is another SCBWI WriteThis! prompt that didn't make the top 20. I still enjoy it.

Three tails twitched in time:  Gray, black and marmalade. The great yellow beast shuddered to a stop, and opened the doors with a creak and a hiss. Without a word, Tabby, Tom and Mal hopped on the bus and went all the way back - where all the cool cats sit.