Friday, March 25, 2016

Duel


Feb. 3, 2016

"Wait - just wait, this should work," Phil took out the pipet and let a small droplet of smoking greenish liquid drop into the crystal decanter. It began to simmer and the mixture turned an interesting shade of seafoam green and the smell of cinnamon toast permeated the air, eliciting a groat from the aforementioned Phil.

He hurriedly began to paw through his leather satchel. Bottles clinked together, and there was the audible sound of glass crunching, and a liquid the color of moldy cheese dripped out of the corner his pack and began burning pits in the marble floor.

"Nice try," said Angie, pulling her wand out. She began tracing a series of complex runes in the air as Phil glanced over at her.

"No, no - you aren't even getting the declensions right," he snapped.

Without  thinking he placed his hand on top of hers, banished two runes, then re-drew the incantation in its correct format. Her eyes widened and she turned a dangerous shade of magenta.

"How very dare you!" said Angie.

"I'm not the one butchering the ancient texts," he said.

"Says the guy who turns a potion of Lung Rot into potpourri?" she said back, pushing her frizzy blue hair out of her void-black eyes. "For Lung Rot, you need to simmer the mandrake stock for an hour before adding the drake's blood. Any hedgewitch could tell you that."

"Well, you'd know," he snorted.

She finished the rune work, reached into her pocket and then tossed some chalky gray dust at Phil. He coughed, and wiped it from his face, pulling his spectacles off and began to hastily rub them on his robe, but the dust smeared greasily all over the lenses. The more he rubbed, the worse it got.

"No! Not my Vision-Sense oculi! Do you know how much these cost?!" he cried.

"You got the Vision-Sense?" she asked, the anger replaced by intrigue and concern.

"You ruined them," said Phil, unable to keep his eyes from brimming with tears. 

"Let me see them," Angie said, holding out her hand, her talons had retracted and Phil handed over his specs. She held them up to the light, whispered three complicated, forbidden words and Phil could faintly hear terrified screaming, and then the greasy mess seemed to vaporize, leaving the lenses clear.

"What did you do?" he asked, peering over her shoulder.

"I told the bacteria that caused the mess that I would make them evolve into multi-celled organisms if they didn't fix it. They hate that," she said.

"Oh, that's brilliant," murmured Phil as he reapplied his glasses. "Oh, these are much clearer."

"They do good work when they're in a panic," said Angie. "Look, Philip, I know I said I was going to hex you into next semester. I'm sorry. Finals have really been getting to me."

"I know how you feel. The project that Dark Lord B'Rudd is having me do - I'm going to be transsubstantiated before this semester is over," he said absently screwing and unscrewing a bottle of glowing blood of the dread Thrax beetle.

"Wait, is it the summoning of the unmentionable evil from the edges of reality?" asked Angie.

Phil went still and his eyes widened. "How did you know?"

"He assigns the same thing every semester because he's lazy. I still have my notes from last year. Do you need them?" she asked, adjusting her backpack, causing some rats to chitter at her before running down her pack, and hopping onto the summoning floor and disappearing into a small opening in the wall.

"Do I? Angie, that would literally save my soul - I haven't been able to do an effective binding in... Well, I can't," said Phil.

"Yeah, let me dig them out of my room," she said.

His face filled with glee, then doubt and suspicion.

"How do I know you aren't going to trick me?" he asked, and another expression - a cross between embarrassment and wincing crossed his face in the other direction as soon as the words left his mouth, blotchy red climbed up his neck and bloomed in patches across his face. "I mean... we were just -"

She gave him a steady look with her odd, black stare.

"I'll need you to drill me on the runic declensions and then we'll be even," she said. "I can swear on... Drat. I traded my soul for extra credit. What else would work?"

"Your mother's soul?" he asked.

She clapped her hands together and grinned, "Perfect!"

Friday, March 18, 2016

Mirror, Mirror

Jan. 29, 2016


So cold. Everything ached bitterly. I couldn't move on my own, I felt frozen. My eyes were fixed, staring at the image in front of me. I watched her brushing her hair, so shiny and smooth. My own hair felt coarse and shabby as I pulled the bristles through my hair. It scratched and pulled my scalp. But I went through the motions with her. She twisted her tresses into a complicated knot and slipped polished wooden sticks to hold them in place.

Joan smiled, picked up the earring that were on the vanity and pressed them into the holes in her ears. They were teardrop moonstones, and would catch the light and turn it opalescent blue. They tapped against her jawline and the stones felt cool for a moment on her skin, before they took on the warmth of her body.

I had no such finery here. The objects that manifested were dull, like paper. Just enough to give a good impression. God, I hated her. She smiled at me, pulling at her porcelain skin as she examined imagined blemishes before smoothing it over with a tinted creme followed by powder, blush and lipstick and gloss. My fingers followed her movements as they must. But the copy was a poor one. How could she not notice?

I'm going to be late, thought Joan, as she glanced at her phone to see the time. Then picked up the necklace and fumbled with the clasp. Her shoulder ached dully as she bent it around to hook the tiny loop of metal, and she casually thought about getting older and made a mental not to exercise more. It shouldn't ache to put on jewelry, but it did. She smiled wryly.

Everything looked so warm over there. Here, the only light came from there and it came through filtered and flat. When she was gone, often there was no light and I could hardly breathe for the darkness pressing down on me. Waiting. Always waiting. But I never felt so trapped as when she was in front of me, forcing me through the motions of being alive. Forcing my aching limbs to move like a puppet as I watched her, as I was her.

Joan paused as he looked at her reflection, eyeing the angry red pimple just under her nose, trying to get a good angle on it. Something seemed off in this mirror, like watching a video where audio and visual weren't perfectly synced, but it was so close you thought you could deal with it. But it just ended up making your brain itch. Boy, was her brain itching. Frowning, she reached out to touch the glass with her fingertip. She'd read you could tell if a mirror was in fact two-way glass by doing this. She was reminded of ET, a movie she had loved as a child, as she stretched her finger out to touch her own reflection.

My breath caught in my throat as she extended her hand towards my prison, my own hand was pulled towards it. Hope, hot and terrible, burned through me - she would let me out. Let me leave this horrible place. I could almost feel the warmth. My lips stretched into a fevered rictus - I could no more control it than I could stop the frantic beating of my heart. I saw her recoil in horror when she saw the expression that was not her own.

Joan fled the room and I was allowed to scream.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Dark Dreams

Jan. 21, 2016


(The challenge was to write a first person narrative but only use “I” twice.)

Darkness seeped into the trees, like a napkin sopping up ink, filling up the world from the ground up. Pines stood black against a glowing twilight sky. Traces of the sun's presence lingered still, clinging to clouds and turning them pink, but it was dark enough that I could slip out of the hill. The music drifted on the wind from far below the earth, and the sound of hundreds of feet dancing to the strange rhythms could be faintly heard - far away.
The moon was low over the trees, and threw its silvery light as far as it could. Where it landed, it outlined the dark trees and made them look for all the world like black cutouts against the sky. The stars danced their way across the horizon, laughing as they twirled hearing music that mortals don't comprehend.
Jake was there, covered in moonlight and smelling of earth, warmth and life. His eyes were closed and he slept – dreaming of cold lips, cold skin, and shimmering translucent wings. He was still wearing his work clothes. His work boots were crusted in cement and the gray dust had caked into the crevices of his hands and under his nails. He worked with concrete. Making the little buildings that humans liked to make. Paving paths. Pouring the mud and letting them bake like cakes in the sun until they are something new and durable. Or at least as durable as humans can make things.
Human things are terribly easy to break. Everything about them is soft and yielding. With nothing else, water can warp their roads that wend this way and that. Frost pushes them up and collapses them down. Add a seed and the trees would crumble their works like paper. So fragile. More delicate that a spider's web rimed in frost or spun crystal.
And they thought so much of them too. He could talk for hours about the precision that went in to some of the larger buildings that cut like knives into the sky. Jake didn’t want to simply pour the concrete, he had dreams of drawing up the plans and resurfacing the world with his visions. Jagged glass and smooth stone glittered in his mind – far more beautiful than the rugged outlines of a raw earth. Precise lines and measured steps were the dance he enjoyed. Music that was mathematically sound was all his ears could hear.
It was adorable.
The first night he came to the clearing he had been drunk and lost his way. I may have helped him become lost. Oops.
Fey lights should never be followed – humans used to know such things and beware – well, never too aware. He strayed from the path and has remained lost ever since. Though he thinks he knows the way. He even thinks he’s returned home. Returned to his wife and two little children and their warm blood and warm kisses. But those were dreams he would have in the light of the day. Warm dreams for warm blood. But they haven’t seen their father in some time. The count of human days makes little sense. Sun. Moon. Stars. They all dance on.

Sometimes folk call his name and he turns his head as if to answer. But his eyes never quite open, and the music from the hall deep in the earth picks up its crooked tune. He reclines in the grass, content to be fed dew and cobwebs. And he will never leave until the dream is done. And fey dream for a long time.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Promotions

Jan 14, 2016





"Inspection!"


Grthz snapped to attention by the door, holding its wings at a proud angle. It had to lower its eyes
as Azrael came around the corner, the Angel of Death was radiating a searing light. He was flanked by several fallen, but it wasn't enough to dim his glory.


The entourage came to a sudden stop, and a voice, if it could be called that - for it seemed to come from within and without simultaneously.


<<WHAT DEPARTMENT IS THIS?>>


"Sloth, sir," answered one of the fallen. Grthz recognized Bael's voice.


<<SLOTH?>>


Grthz doubled over as it was prodded with the hilt of Azrael's flaming sword.


<<YOUR HENCHMAN STANDS AT ATTENTION AND YOU DARE CALL THIS SLOTH>>


"We require henchmen to stand -"


<<SILENCE>>


Grthz remained prone on the floor, trying to snivel as quietly as possible. It felt a soft touch on its shoulder, and flinch slightly. When Azrael spoke again, his voice was softer, almost soothing. And Grthz knew the Seraph was speaking only to its mind


<<HAVE NO FEAR, LITTLE THING. ALL WILL BE WELL>>


A sense of calm descended on Grthz that it was unfamiliar with. And terror began to well up in its stomach. The demon heard the fallen give a cry of dismay, and the world around him went white.


~~~~~


When it opened its eyes, everything was gray. So gray that it was impossible to tell where the ground met the sky. So gray, Grthz felt he could reach out and touch it, but when he tried his hands met with nothing.


The sense of calm remained. But the terror was gone.


"Wh-where am I? asked the demon.


A strange thing manifested next to Grthz, a swirling mass of rolling eyes and slithering tongues, yet somehow they composed a figure with four faces, and countless wings. The light was still present, but no longer burned the demon's eyes.


"Az... Azrael?"


<Yes>
The voice was much gentler now.


"Where am I?" asked Grthz.


<PURGATORY>


"Why?" it asked.


<BECAUSE YOU BECAME TOO GOOD FOR HELL>


"I thought you only killed people. Humans," said Grthz.


<I MULTITASK>


"Makes sense," said the demon. "Now what?"


<YOU WAIT>


The angel began to dissapparate, becoming gray like the surroundings.


"Wait!" cried Grthz.


Azrael solidified once more, and the little demon threw its arms around the strange being and hugged the Seraph tightly. Thousands of wings folded around the demon, who was suddenly crying greasy blue tears. It was the best hug he could remember. The only hug he could remember.


"Thank you," it whispered. "If you get a chance. You know, next time, check on VSSSX. She works in accounting and was nice to me once."


The angel stepped away, bowed to the demon and faded to nothing.

Grthz settled down and relaxed in the gray. The ground, it found, was quite soft. It lay down, and for the first time in eternity, took a nap.