Written for a group on Facebook. The photo prompt was a mountain rising out of the mist with a man standing in front of it.
The mountain reared up through the mist like a ghost. He stopped to look on it, not with the excited eyes he’d expected when he left his home months ago, but with a gaze wearied from hungry nights and drizzling days. How long had it been since he’d seen the sun? And yet he slogged on, working closer and closer to his goal. Now, at last it was in sight.
He stood, staring at the mountain, and the mountain stared back with its ageless face, daring him to continue, to reach the cave near the summit, to conquer the beast within. And that’s why was there. Not to steal its horde, but to take its life, to prove his bravery, for such was the quest set for him to prove his worth. If the deed didn’t impress the princess, nothing would.
But now that he stood, facing down the strength of the summit, his certainty began to fade. Did he really want to impress the princess? Why? He didn’t love her – he didn’t even know her. He’d spoken ten words to her at the suitors’ banquet and she had only nodded to him. Already this journey had cost him money, time, and the life of his horse, and for what? To impress a woman he didn’t know so that she would consent to be his wife? Why did he care? It wasn’t as if she’d inherit the throne. As for titles, As the eldest he had one of his own, a small castle of his own. Sure, it wasn’t as luxurious as the royal palace, but did it need to be?
And it wasn’t just title and land he had, but for that matter there was a woman he knew – one with laughing blue eyes and red lips. A woman named Celina who would not want him to hurt a dragon who had done nothing to him; had harmed no one for fifty years or more. Between them, they had spoken enough to fill volumes, had laughed, had loved. If he were to choose a wife, she would be his choice.
So what was he doing there?
He was there because he was raised to be there, told from birth that he would participate in the suitors’ banquet, that he would be assigned a quest, that he should try to win the princess because…because…
Because that was what all the young lords did.
But, truth be told, he didn’t want to marry her, didn’t want to slay the dragon. What he really wanted was to go home, eat real food, bathe in a tub, and sleep in his bed. Then he wanted to wake, and ask Celina to marry him, and damn the royals and their contest.
His father would be mad, and his mother…but they’d get over it when they saw the first grandbaby. He could deal with their anger until then.
He hitched his pack up his back, and straightened his spine. He met the imaginary eyes of the mountain, of the beast within, and gave a nod of respect. Then he turned on his heel and headed home.
Here is another flash fiction. The picture prompt was a dark abandoned house.
It sat alone, a memory of the night it all changed. Once happy voices echoed, but now only wind whistled through broken windows. Once feet danced and scurried, now only dead leaves scuttled and mice dashed across buckled floorboards.
How long had it been since the house had known life and love? Since it had known death and blood, shivering with the screams of its dying occupants?
Though its doors were sturdy, its windows locked, its walls a haven against the dangers outside, it could do nothing against the killer within, the one who lived inside those four walls, who’d grown there, twisted, dark, angry, waiting for something to take its fury out on…
If only the house could have stopped him, could have warned the others, but alas, it stood helpless, sheltering the slaughter, hiding it from public view, so the it was days before anyone found the bodies and the message painted on the wall in scarlet, a final curse to any who dared to read it. The smell lingered long after the remains were taken away, and the feeling of dark dread was even worse, permeating the very woodwork. Is it any wonder that it sits now, like a dark scar on the landscape, forlorn, unloved, abandoned, but never, ever, forgotten?
It actually makes me feel sad…Poor house.
Have a flash fiction-y kinda day!
I wrote this for another writing prompt in the street team. The photo was a bench in the dark, surrounded by misty trees.
Mary sat alone on the bench. Cocooned by trees, bare autumn branches hung overhead and scratched the night around her. A single leaf shivered, the last of the season before winter’s chill declared victory.
Mary pulled her purse against her thigh, nervous eyes darting around the silent park. It seemed suddenly too quiet, too dark, as if the blackness was a palpable entity, a monster waiting to devour her.
Like the stories so many children whispered about.
She’d grown up on them, shared them, joked about them. Death Park they’d called it as teenagers, based on urban legends with no substance. Now, an adult, she’d long dismissed the stories, had even forgotten about them.
Until this moment.
Now, waiting for someone who was obviously never coming to meet her, those stories came to mind again. The black, swirling something that killed. What had been a childhood joke now seemed real, palpable.
Why did I agree to meet him here?
She checked her watch a final time. It had been over an hour of waiting. She’d been pretty sure he’d called her here to end things, to tell her that he loved his wife and children more than her and the baby in her womb. This seemed the ultimate proof.
Maybe it would be better if some strange thing killed me.
As though summoned by her thoughts, the dark moved closer, tighter, constricting, choking the bench and its occupant. Mary shivered and pulled her coat tighter, as if that could keep the night out. But it couldn’t. Nothing could keep out the cold fingers of dread that snaked under her protective layer, tendrils of terror that wrapped around her, choking out her breath, wrapping around her heart, until the dark was all she could see.
It was a neighborhood child that found her the next morning, cold and stiff, hands still clamped to her coat. Though the coroner wrote heart attack on the paperwork, he knew the truth; she was another victim of the darkness, taken by the night.
Not much else to say because I am scheduling this ahead of time. I can only assume I’m having a good week. Or at least an okay week. I know I won’t be sitting on park benches alone in the dark.
Have a stay-away-from-creepy-parks kinda day!
I wrote this for a picture prompt in my street team (Heather takes over on Mondays and posts writing prompts). This was to a photo with a bright golden glow in a dark sky. I think it was really sunset behind dark storm clouds, buuuuuuuut….
Who wants to write that? 😉
The heavy night lay like any other. Crickets chirped in tall grass, frogs sang their symphonies. The girl lay in the graveyard, alone, counting the stars. Little did she know how apropos her location was – not even when the bright ball exploded in the sky; a fire flower blossoming, spreading its petals wide, then wilting to leave behind thick roiling clouds of smoke – smoke laced with the scent of death, the future screams of the dying, the cries of fear as the radiation permeated everything.
But hose moments were still the future and, in those precious seconds before it came to pass, those silent minutes, the girl lay in the grass, surrounded by old tombstones, counting the stars as they exploded behind her blinded eyes, waiting for an end she hadn’t known was coming.
An end to everything
No AR photos because I’m lazy. I have a few to look through, but I’ve been busy getting Tales from the Executioners, Volume Two finished up for publication. I uploaded it today, so I’m just waiting for links to filter through so I can start pushing it on everyone I ever met. Ha ha!
Have a the-book-is-published kinda day!
It is the ten year anniversary of the blog group Blogophilia that started back on MySpace. I used to participate religiously and have since fallen off and on again, but I always mean to go back. Anyway, for fun I thought it would be fun to repost the very first blog I ever wrote for it.
September 24, 2009 – Thursday 1:42 AM
|Blogophilia 30.2 – The Pub Scene
Current mood: busy
Category: Writing and Poetry
So, I’ve read some of the Blogophilia posts before – Bobbi, Colleen, Crazy PJ’s etc, and I’ve considered giving it a shot before, but always put it off. However, DJ Myke very sweetly sent me an invite so I am going to give it a whirl this week 🙂
If you have no idea what Blogophilia is, then you want to check it out as it seems to be a lot of fun!
All right, on to it then.
Blogophilia 30.2 Topic: Get Me Off This Crazy Thing
The Pub Scene
Teddy, my best friend, grinned and asked drunkenly, “Aren’t you having fun?” We both knew from the expression on my face that it was a rhetorical question, so he asked another, “That Genevieve sure is hot, huh?”
“I guess, if you like the too-good-to-talk to you kind,” I murmured with no real enthusiasm. Still, my eyes flicked across the seedy little pub and found her among her circle of “better people”. That’s where she always was. Every weekend you could find her at one place or another with her giggling, overtly feminine friends and a crowd of blokes all chomping at the bit to get a chance at her. None of them ever did, though. But, with her black hair, dark eyes, perfect skin and curvy figure that was her prerogative, I suppose. Not that I noticed those attributes myself. Okay, fine, I did. She wasn’t bad looking. However, I wasn’t going to concede the point right then, nor point out that he’d been trying to get her for well over a year. I had other things to complain about.
“I can’t believe you talked me into coming. Do you realize I could be at the movies?’
Teddy snickered and took a swig of beer. “Oh come on. This is cooler than some fantasy geek fest movie made for losers”
“Losers?” I demanded. “I’ll have you know that nothing is cooler than bloody Conan the Destroyer?!? Especially not this – this –“ I broke off in frustration and shouted, “What is this music anyway?”
“Uh…” Teddy had to look around for a sign or something. “Comedy of Errors,” he declared triumphantly.
“Never heard of them.”
He grinned and suddenly turned into one of those annoying know it alls. “That’s because they’re new, you twonk. They’re from Glasgow, aren’t they? And I think they’re bloody brilliant.”
“Glasgow? Explains why they sound foreign then, doesn’t it?” Before he could launch into any further details – no doubt rehearsed so he could try to impress the ever unimpress-able Genevieve – I made some stupid excuse and hurried off through the crowd in the direction of the loo.
When I was sure Teddy wasn’t watching me anymore, I turned a sharp right and headed straight out the front door. It was cool out tonight, but not cold, and I was resigned to wait out there until my ride, Teddy, decided to go home.
I dropped onto a bench and lit a fag. I could still hear the music pulsing from inside. It rumbled through the bench and the wall like a living heartbeat. What a wonderful way to spend a ruddy Saturday night: sitting outside the damned pub waiting for Teddy to get rejected.
I was on my third smoke when the door opened. I looked up hopefully, but it was just the beauty queen Genevieve. She walked a few steps then stood in the middle of the sidewalk uncertainly. I waited for her usual entourage to appear and guide her to the next destination, but they didn’t show.
She finally looked towards me. She blinked thoughtfully as she took in my untidy hair and – what I thought was very fashionable – outfit. Okay, it wasn’t the height of 1984 garb, but it would have been really cool in 1982. I was pretty close. That had to be worth some bonus points.
She stepped towards me, then stopped again, uncertainly. “Hey, you’re that bloke Teddy’s mate, right?”
“Sometimes,” I agreed. “When he’s not being a royal ass and making me miss Conan.”
Her dark eyes lit up. “You mean the new Conan the Barbarian movie?”
I was too stunned to speak, but she rushed on, “I wanted to go see that tonight but everyone wanted to come here.” She frowned. “It’s the same old thing every weekend. Just a lot of loud music and everyone getting pissed. It was fun a couple years ago but I’m over it now.”
I found myself nodding along to her. “Yes, exactly. It’s like we’re still in school or something. “
“And they’re all alike,” she continued. “Every blasted one of them. All big shoulders, no brains and want their hands in your knickers.” She suddenly jabbed an accusing finger at me. “Your mate Teddy’s like that.”
I held up my hands innocently. “I already told you, he’s nothing to do with me so long as he’s being an ass.”
“Then I can’t imagine how you’re ever friends.”
I tugged out another fag and lit it. “He’s okay on the weekdays. It’s just when he gets sloshed.”
She nodded vaguely and looked off into the distance, as though she had somewhere else to be. I can’t say that was surprising. No doubt Genevieve, the Saturday night queen, had a lot of other places to go.
She looked back at me, opened her mouth, closed it and then opened it again. She repeated the performance so that she looked like a ventriloquist dummy in a fit. Finally she spit the words out. “I don’t suppose you wanna go somewhere else?”
My eyebrow arched suspiciously of its own accord. It was really kind of sad that Genevieve the most wanted had to settle for getting a ride from me. “No car,” I offered with spread hands.
“Never mind,” she mumbled, and I settled back into a smug, self satisfied posture. I wasn’t the kind of sucker she was used to. I wasn’t going to fall for her little “I’m so pretty game“.
She turned back to me, her face determined. “I’ve got one.” Suddenly her hands were on her hips. “This is your last chance. I have no intention of spending another Saturday surrounded by a bunch of stupid, drunk pillocks, but if that’s what you want to do then be my guest. Otherwise get off your ass! If we hurry we can just make the late showing!”
My cigarette fell out of my gaping mouth and landed in my lap. I only noticed when the cherry burnt through my pants into my leg. Of course I jumped up like an idiot and proceeded to do the “I’m on fire” dance while I beat the scorched spot uselessly.
Genevieve giggled, but it wasn’t the “oh you’re so stupid” laughter I expected from her. It was more genuine amusement. I couldn’t help but smirk in self depreciating humor as I met her eyes and tried to sound like I had half a brain. “Sure. Yeah, I mean, that would be great-“ I realized I was babbling and broke off abruptly.
“Good. Come on,” and with those words she grabbed my arm and physically dragged me after her. She had a little car, but that didn’t stop me from folding myself into the passenger seat and pretending that it was the best ride I’d ever had. Hell, maybe it was. And maybe that was the best Conan movie they ever made. Or maybe it was just the best company I’d ever had. After all, it wasn’t everyday that someone like me got to go to the movies with Genevieve, the social queen of the pub circuit. And it certainly wasn’t every day that I got to slink into the flat I shared with Teddy at six in the morning, looking sheepish and refusing to say where I’d been.
Though after that night it did become a reoccurring occurrence. That is until I moved in with Genevieve the secret geek and the prettiest master of Dungeons and Dragons that ever graced a living room.
Call us sentimental, but we just had to get Comedy of Errors to play at our wedding.
And that’s it for now.
Song playing at the moment – “Soft Skeletons” – Anberlin
(PS- Comedy of Errors is a real band – I HAD to use them after i found that 😉 – here’s their website! )
It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to do a blogophilia post! I’ve really missed everyone!! What is Blogophilia? It’s the fun blog group where Marvin gives participants prompts to use in their weekly posting. This week’s prompts are:
Blogophilia Week 13.7 Topic: Time Won’t Let Me
- Bonus Points:
- (Hard, 2 points) Incorporate a line from the song “Pompeii” by Bastille
- (Easy, 1 point) Include a newscaster or reporter
As you can see from my snazzy banner, this is the second of the Tales of the Executioners, which I’ll eventually release as freebie short reads and then bundle together in a collection. The Executioners are the vampire’s equivalent of special police. They go on “assignments” that The Guild (the vampire government) sends them on, and they don’t have a reputation for being very nice. It’s a reputation that is often well deserved.
This takes place April 1972.
Rain streaked the windshield and Ark stared through it to the dark landscape beyond. The world was colored in night; shades of blue and purple. It had been so long since he’d seen the sun that he’d forgotten the other colors. Vague memories stirred, over bright and painted in green, blue, and yellow. They belonged to another place and another time. Just like she did.
He brushed the memories away and focused on the voice of the radio. A newscaster reported heavy storms coming, but nothing short of a tornado worried him. The chat faded, replaced by a sad song wrapped in a cheerful tune and he shut it off. He wasn’t in the mood.
A sign went past. “Welcome to California”. The painted letters filled his stomach with lead and his chest with ice. Unwittingly, his eyes were drawn to the manila folder in the passenger seat. He knew the contents by heart. The neatly typed papers outlined the terrible crimes of a vampiress and passed sentence on her. He’d read hundreds like it in the last two hundred and sixty years since he’d joined the Executioners – the elite police force of the vampires. He’d seen hundreds of pictures and hundreds of sketches, and had always taken them with the cold detachment of someone with a job to do. But this time, when he’d looked into the dark Xeroxed eyes, his insides had turned to glass.
Suddenly the radio didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
It was three in the morning when he stopped for gas and directions. The man inside was courteous but wary, as he should be. Though Ark was careful not to show his fangs, or do any of the hundred and one thing that would send the cashier into a panic, the man could still sense the unnatural danger standing next to the candy bar display. Ark knew because he could smell the man’s fear, but most of all, he could hear his thoughts. It was a trait he’d inherited when he’d been turned into a vampire and he’d spent the last three-hundred-plus years perfecting it.
The man’s directions were good, and Ark soon parked in front of a stucco house on the edge of town. Yucca plants swayed in the dark and palm trees rustled above his head. He checked the time and logged it in his book, then grabbed the dagger from the glove box. By habit he pulled it from the scabbard, just enough to see the cold gleam of the clean blade. He snapped it back with a clink of finality, and forced himself out of the car and up the stone walk.
He didn’t knock, only threw the door open and strode inside. A guard sat on the couch wearing the customary gray uniform of The Guild. He jumped to his feet, magazine in hand and surprise on his face. His fear melted into terror and he snapped a shaky salute. “S-Sir. You’re early.”
Ark shoved a folded piece of paper at him. “Take me to the prisoner.”
The guard quickly scanned the contents. Underneath the pronouncement was Malick’s signature, and seal; A knot of three interlocking rings. It was the same symbol Ark wore around his neck, the sign of the Executioners and everything that entailed.
The guard gave a stiff nod and mumbled, “She’s, um, she’s this way. Downstairs.”
Ark followed through the house and down the cellar steps. The basement was a single windowless room with a dirt floor. A pair of coffins sat against one wall, the lids askew. Guards were scattered around like men on break. Three played cards, one fiddled with a transistor radio. Two more were lost in conversation. In the midst of them all sat Dovina, tied to a chair, arms behind her back. She wore a pair of faded jeans and a loose, patterned top. Her long golden hair fell around her shoulders, a casual braid intermingled amongst the strands. Her pale skin was as flawless as Ark remembered and her eyes…
Ark’s escort cleared his throat. The guards jerked to their feet, their pastimes forgotten, but Ark barely noticed them. All of his attention was riveted on Dovina. He wasn’t in the basement anymore, but in one of those half-forgotten sunlit memories. She stood in the courtyard, a pail in one hand, her hair tied up, and a rough dress draped over her frame. As if she sensed his attention she turned towards him, and when their eyes touched, fire erupted in his chest and left him breathless.
He tried to swallow away his emotions. Now was not the time to lose himself in the myriad of shimmering memories that rose like ivory keys beneath his fingertips. The tinkle of piano played in his head and he saw her as she was when she was his, dressed in silk, her fingers trailing across the keys languidly, the same way that she touched him in the dark. The pretty smile was on her lips and, though the other men stared, the gleam in her eyes said she only saw him.
Just as he only saw her.
“Ark. I hoped it would be you.”
Her voice brought him back to the present, and he jerked the paper from the guard’s hands. Two of them hurried forward to untie her and pull her to her feet. One stood at each arm, holding her up, waiting for Ark to announce the sentence and carry it out. He was an Executioner. He had other assignments. He didn’t have time to linger. He would want to do it quickly.
And I should, he thought. Before it’s too late.
But it was already too late.
The guards looked at Ark expectantly, and he motioned them to release her. “I can handle this myself. I suggest you get started on the paper work.”
“We’ve already-” the guard faltered and broke off at one look from Ark. “Yes, sir. Of course.” He snapped a quick salute and motioned the others to do the same. Though the pair that held Dovina’s arms exchanged quizzical looks, they relented and followed their fellows upstairs.
The cellar door closed and Dovina remained standing, her ocean colored eyes locked with his. Though he couldn’t feel it, he knew she was in his head, sorting through his thoughts. Just as he could read minds, so could she. The product of sharing the same master.
“You might as well read the sentence. I know what it says.”
He drew a deep breath and looked away. Masonry crumbled in the corner and it held his gaze, as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. “I did what I could. I asked Malick for leniency.”
And Malick’s answer had been to give Ark the assignment instead of Phillip. “Since it so concerns you,” he’d said, wearing his cold, benevolent smile. Ark could see beneath the fake kindness to the darkness underneath, but there was nothing he could do. He had sworn an oath to uphold the laws and, as the head of the Executioners, those laws were at Malick’s whim.
“You killed an entire coven, Dovina. Why?” She stepped towards him and he looked to her, then back to the corner again.
“They killed Eric, Ark. What was I supposed to do?”
Eric. His name was like the dagger that Ark stuffed in his pocket. “And what did Eric do to them?”
She came to a stop before him. For a moment he could see their entire history written on her face, hear the echo of past laughter in her voice, the shadow of forgotten tears in her eyes. The world was old even then, but they were young. Constance was his aunt, or so she called herself, and he worked diligently at every task she set for him. When she offered immortality to her “pretty nephew”, he took it, and when she offered him a gift of anything he desired, he asked only for Dovina, the pretty servant girl down the street. The one whose golden hair shone like a halo in the sunlight.
Constance acquired her, and Dovina came to him readily enough. Together they tasted the darkness and all it had to offer. It wasn’t the dark gift that changed her, rather time itself. A new century crept close and they left Constance for the New World. In the wilderness they spent nights lost among the trees, slipping into what passed for civilization and out again, like ghosts. They made love in the wilds with only the birds as witness, and danced naked under the cloak of moonlight. But eventually the siren call of humanity was too strong. It was harder and harder to leave behind the fire lit cities, harder to give up the taste of human blood for that of the beast. They rented a room above a shop, and paid their bills with coins taken from their victims. Dovina wore gay frocks and slippers, and he had a ridiculous wig that was the envy of half the township. They thought themselves dashing after the fashion, but privately laughed at the ridiculousness of it all.
Then the vampire came. In a single night he slaughtered the inhabitants of one street and started on a second. When he reached their room Ark removed his head and cut out his still beating heart. The Executioners arrived the next night, surprised to see their work finished for them. There were only two of them then and they were recruiting. They could use the help, and it would be good for him to do something useful; something besides wear silly wigs and buy silk.
Dovina watched as he bowed before Malick and swore the oath. The job was easy enough at first; mostly rogue vampires who thought a new world meant they could slaughter at will with no regard for secrecy, but as time passed the assignments became more frequent and more complicated. The territories continued to expand, and his absences grew longer. He rode away one too many times in the middle of the night, his orders clutched in his hands, Dovina watching from the doorway. One evening he returned to find the sad eyes of a stranger looking back at him. Dovina’s words were soft, but the meaning behind them hurt. There was someone else, and though she hadn’t allowed him to openly court her, she was considering it. She loved Ark, but she was tired of being alone. She was confused. She needed time to think.
If only he’d known how much time she meant.
She left in the rain, wearing a long hooded cloak that dragged in the mud. Ark stood in the doorway and cursed under his breath as the carriage drove away. He wished he could drown himself in drink and forget the world, but even feeding on the blood of drunks only did so much. His vampire physiology metabolized it too quickly and left him sober through the decades that followed. Soon seventy years had passed and he couldn’t contain his curiosity any longer. He went looking and he found her.
The memory popped to the surface of his mind, sharp despite the eighty years since. Red roses climbed the side of the house, and laughter tinkled through the open windows. He couldn’t see them, but he could smell them: Dovina and her Eric-
She stiffened in surprise. “Why didn’t you tell me you were there?”
“What was the point? You’d obviously made your choice.” And it wasn’t me.
Her eyes moved up and down his lean frame before she brushed his cheek with her fingers. His breath stuck in his throat and for a moment he couldn’t move. “You made the choice for me. You were always gone.”
He caught her hand and pulled it away. “Then why didn’t you ask me to quit? I-I would have. One word from you and I’d have left it behind.” He searched the depths of her sea colored eyes, pushing past them into the thoughts beneath, looking for an explanation, but there were only mismatched memories. “Dovina?”
“You swore an oath to them, Ark. You wouldn’t break it lightly.”
“I swore one to you first, or did our wedding vows mean nothing to you?”
“They were the promises of youth, Ark. A vow you gave before you had a chance to contemplate the long fall of the years. When you pledged yourself to me did you imagine what a hundred years would really mean? Two hundred? Three hundred? The changes they would bring?”
“Is an oath any less valid because it lasts longer than you first imagined? Are feelings any less…” He trailed off and looked away.
She pulled her hand free. “It doesn’t matter. You can see the truth in me, just as I can see your orders in you. Can’t we part as friends this time?” He didn’t answer, and she pressed on. “Read the sentence.”
He knew he should, but he couldn’t force himself to do it. He crumpled the paper in his hand, as if to make it disappear, and she gently pried it from his fingers and read aloud, “Dovina, fledgling of Constance, on this day, the twenty-first of April, 1972, based on testimony and evidence submitted to The Guild, you are found guilty of coven slaughter without just cause, and are hereby sentenced to death, to be carried out by Executioner at earliest availability.”
She handed the paper back to him. “See? That wasn’t so hard. Do you want me to sit over there, or should I just stand here or-”
He grabbed her up suddenly and captured her lips with his. She stiffened and then flowed against him. Her lips parted and soft sigh escaped as her tongue darted into his mouth. Though he clutched her as hard as he could, the kiss finally ended, and she lay her head on his chest. “Do you remember the party Monsieur Pelotte threw? Before you joined the Executioners?”
He thought of her again, leaning over the piano, toying with the keys, but his voice wouldn’t work.
“He had that violinist, from Boston. What was the song he played?” She started to hum, swaying to the tune. “Dance with me Ark. One more time.”
She slipped her arms around his neck and he reflexively wrapped his arms around her as she continued to move to the music in her head. “It’s been a long time, Ark. But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all? As if all the things in between never happened.”
He buried his face against her neck and inhaled deeply. Beneath the scent of her shampoo she smelled the same as she had on that long ago night. Her body was as soft and yielding as it had been, and her hair as silky. But he knew better. Though she might appear the same on the outside, the blessing of immortality, on the inside she had changed. She was still the cold stranger he’d come in the night to find, and the sameness was an imitation, like a moment from his youth he was trying to recapture and live over and over. “Time won’t let me forget.”
“No, I suppose it won’t.” She released him reluctantly and stepped back. Tears trailed silently down her cheeks, like the rain on the windshield. They both knew what had to happen; what was supposed to happen. He would jam the dagger through her heart, twist it once or twice for good measure, and then perhaps cut it out just to be sure she was dead. The guards would log the time of the execution, dispose of the body, and head back to the citadel in Iowa where they’d file the paperwork. Meanwhile he’d be somewhere else, killing someone else.
They broke the Laws.
The balm that usually soothed his conscience tasted like poison and he wanted to spit it out. His mind raced as he tried to find a solution, a way out, but there was no more hope than there’d been two days ago when he left the citadel. Malick had passed judgment himself. There was no way to appeal. There was nothing to do except run until there was nowhere left to run to. And then – and then the other Executioners would come. They’d bring an army of guards and no matter how good Ark thought he was, he knew he would die. Maybe he’d get lucky and they’d strike him down first, or maybe he’d have to watch as they hacked Dovina to pieces.
“It’s not the ending I want.” She gave him a sad smile and he wiped away her tears. “This will be quick but that…they’ll make us both suffer, Ark.” She reached into his pocket and pulled out the dagger. “Just be done with it.”
He jerked the weapon from her hand and fell back.
“You don’t understand. You asked what Eric did to deserve death, and I told you nothing because it’s true. I’m to blame. I was the one who refused to leave. That other coven wanted our territory. First they asked, then they pushed, and finally Eric pushed back. He didn’t want to but I-I talked him into it. We were here first. We had a right to be here. They were the ones who should leave. So he went to their den and confronted them, and that’s when they killed him. Don’t you see, Ark? I as much killed him as they did. Had I left him alone we would have moved on and he’d still be alive but I-I had too much pride. This was our house. Our land. Our hunting ground. Our-” She broke off and gave a mirthless laugh. “They screamed, Ark. They screamed when I killed them. They were young and cocky, but when the moment came they were all cowards.” Her spine snapped straight and she met his eyes. “I’m not a coward. I accept the punishment, so do it and be done.”
The dagger was like a lead weight in his hand, too heavy to draw and lift. He didn’t want to do this; couldn’t do it. And yet…
“You can hear their thoughts, too,” she whispered. “Those guards. One is on the phone right now, reporting to The Guild that you’ve dismissed them, that they don’t think you’ll go through with it. You know they have orders to kill you if you don’t.”
“Let them try. I’ll-”
She laid a finger to his lips. “In the end you’ll die, too, like Eric, a second casualty to my pride. How many should lose their lives because I was here first? Think of it as just another assignment, like all the others.” She met his eyes. “You swore an oath to uphold the laws. I broke them. I was found guilty. Keep your honor.”
Honor. It was a cruel word for her to use, and she knew it. He wanted to rage at her, demand to know where her belief in his honor had been when she left in the rain, but there was no point. They could talk in circles, still the end would be the same.
He unsheathed the dagger and held it up like a macabre offering. Light glinted from the cold steel with a finality that cut through him. Somewhere deep inside a voice screamed that there had to be another way, that Malick would make an exception, even though he knew he wouldn’t. Not for him.
He closed his eyes as the dagger stabbed into her. The force of the blow knocked her backwards and he looked to see her stumble and fall. She landed on the floor, her golden hair fanned out around her head like a medieval halo. The dagger protruded from her chest, and crimson surged up and around it to soak the thin material of her blouse.
She choked a mouthful of blood, then met his eyes for a final time. “I…always loved…you, Ark.”
He dove to pull the dagger free, to stop it before it was too late, but she grabbed the hilt and rammed it the rest of the way. Her body seized and shuddered, then fell still. He landed on his knees and cradled her against him. Her blood gushed warm and wet against him and he buried his face against her neck. Even now she still smelled just the same; just the same as she always had.
And that was when he realized that she’d been the same all along. He was the one that had changed.
I think it needs a bit of work still before Smashwords sees it, but I dunno. I think Beldren is next on the list.
Have a good one!
It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to do a blogophilia post! I’ve really missed everyone!! What is Blogophilia? It’s the fun blog group where Marvin gives participants prompts to use in their weekly posting. This week’s prompts are:
- Blogophilia Week 33.6 – A Book With No Cover
- Bonus Points:
- (Hard, 2 pts): quote Walt Whitman
- (Easy, 1 pt): use a ballet term
As you can see from my snazzy banner, this is the first of the Tales of the Executioners, which I’ll eventually release as freebie short reads and then bundle together in a collection. The Executioners are the vampire’s equivalent of special police. They go on “assignments” that The Guild (the vampire government) sends them on, and they don’t have a reputation for being very nice. It’s a reputation that is often well deserved.
(You’ll notice a couple week’s worth of prompts in this as I have been working on it for awhile, LOL!)
This takes place during Heart of the Raven.
The phone reception was good, though background noise made of the bus hard to hear. Aine nodded and added, “Right. You two keep looking. I think I’m in the last known neighborhood, or I should be soon. If you see him call.”
The male on the other end agreed and Aine hung up. The two were more than capable of handling things on their end. They’d been trained, just as he had.
He tapped an app shortcut and flipped through the information on his cellphone screen. He’d memorized the photo and the details. The GPS map showed that he was right, he was only about half an hour from the guy’s den. Hopefully he would stick to his usual routines and it could all get sorted out quickly.
He stashed his cellphone in his coat and turned to the widow. The bus pulled away from the curb with a load of new arrivals. Not that there was room for more. Despite the late hour, the bus was crammed with people jostling, arguing, laughing, talking, and, in the case of the man next to him, drinking. Aine scanned the crowd, seeking the newcomers. His brown eyes moved from person to person and then-
“Hey! Watch it!”
Aine jerked away but didn’t avoid the splash of hot coffee. It soaked into his coat and splattered across his black t-shirt. He was still better off than the coffee’s owner, who now wore it on his pants and his heavy sweater.
“Sorry,” the guy said and mopped at the mess with a flimsy paper napkin. His eyes moved to the large, dark skinned man who’d nearly bowled them over. “Lousy drunk.”
But it wasn’t just a lousy drunk, not if Aine’s nose and experience told him anything, and a hundred plus year couldn’t be wrong. It was a vampire. Or rather the vampire Aine was looking for. It was almost as if he’d stepped off the cellphone screen.
“Excuse me,” Aine murmured to his seat mate and then casually stood and moved towards the front of the bus. This wasn’t the for a confrontation. Alone, he wouldn’t be able to manage the guy and the crowd.
The bus ground to a stop and Aine followed his quarry out onto the sidewalk. The vehicle had barely pulled away when the vampire glanced over his shoulder at his pursuer. Their eyes met and then he seemed to vanish.
Aine groaned. “A wind walker, great.”
He gave the darkened street a quick glance and then hurried after him, though he knew he had no chance of catching him. They might both be vampires, but their skills varied, and he was no match for the other’s speed.
He swung down an alley that was thick with the other vampire’s smell, and skidded to a stop as a large, hulking object seemingly appeared from the shadows.
“Who are you?”
Aine fingered the dagger in his coat with one hand, and with the other he flashed the silver medallion that hung around his neck. Made of twisted silver bands, it was more than just jewelry; it was a badge that identified him as one of the vampire guild’s elite police force.
A quick hiss of breath and a step back showed that the vampire knew what that meant and all the shades of dark subtleties it implied. “What do you want?”
“The Guild sent me, Tom,” Aine said and let the medallion drop back to his chest.
The reaction was slow, thoughtful. “What for?”
“You know very well, after the mess you left. If you’d like to come with me, we can do this the easy way-”
Tom snorted. “I don’t take invitations handed out by Executioners.”
“Look, just come with me and-”
Tom was gone before Aine could finish his sentence. Of course this had to be difficult. That was why he’d been handed the assignment. The Executioners with seniority didn’t want it, and they couldn’t hand it to the two new recruits, not that Aine had been an Executioner for more than a month and a half himself. He wished that Verchiel was back from his trip to Germany. He seemed like the kind of guy who would enjoy an assignment like this.
With nothing else to do, Aine turned and headed back to the street. The light above the bus stop threw flickering light over the bench and its two new occupants. The pair of teenage girls looked on their surroundings with wide eyes and nervous, drunk giggles.
Aine checked his watch and the faded bus stop schedule. It claimed another bus would stop within the hour, though he wasn’t sure if he should bother. He’d lost Tom, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find him, if The Guild’s information was correct.
And that was always a big if.
He leaned against the light post and waited. The teenage girls checked him out, and giggled, at first obviously finding his young face and long, copper colored hair attractive. But, as moments passed and he remained motionless, not quite human but not quite something else, their approval slipped into dislike, and they shied away, sliding to the far end of the bench with apprehensive looks.
The Uncanny Valley Hypothesis. That was what one of his superiors had called it. That moment when you were too human, but still not human enough, and the mortals got scared.
He didn’t feel like messing with them, so he abandoned the wait and headed out on foot. It would be easiest to go to Tom’s den and wait. There were only a handful of hours left until dawn, and no vampire would stay out after that. He tugged his cell phone from his coat pocket to check the map again, but the device was damp with coffee and when he pressed the button nothing happened. It was just something else to make the night complete.
What have I done to deserve this?
He tried to remember the map, and came up with a vague, shadowy impression of it. The street names were a blur and the little red line seemed to appear in more than one place. He reminded himself that Executioners had survived without GPS for thousands of years. Surely he was as good as they were?
As he walked, he sniffed the air, seeking Tom’s scent. He picked up a variety of smells; sweat, paint, cinnamon, and something very like old varnish. There was the scent of another vampire, one he didn’t know, and then, finally, there was Tom.
He wound down a dark street and an alley, until he came to a rusty door. Tom’s scent was strong; he’d been there recently, though whether it was his den or not was hard to say. There was only way to find out.
The door wasn’t locked, so Aine opened it and peered inside. He sniffed again and came up with stale cigarettes, blood, and something else. It smelled vampirish and yet it didn’t. Another complication.
He couldn’t smell anyone else, so he pushed past the door and up a set of dark stairs. His vampire eyes could see in the gloom, but there was nothing to look at. The walls were bare and the hallway at the top of the stairs was empty except for another door at the end. The scent was stronger as he crept towards it, and he paused at the door and listened. He could hear something, like soft scratching; perhaps someone moving around?
He gripped his dagger in his hand and threw the door open with a shout, “Executioners! Come out!”
No one replied to his call, and he stood tense and expectant as his eyes scanned the room. It was dark and sparsely furnished; a folding a table, a chair, a broken couch and on the floor a well-worn book with no cover. A door on the far wall led to what he assumed would be a bedroom. Whoever had been moving had fallen silent now, but he could guess where they were.
He raised his voice and tried to sound scary and authoritative, like Senya did. The woman was a bitch, but she knew how to instill fear in others. “I said, Executioners. Come out, now!”
Nothing happened and Aine groaned silently. “This is your last chance!” He counted off the seconds and then charged the door. He kicked it open in a flurry of splinters and landed inside with a cry.
A low growl came from under the sagging bed, and, slowly, a pair of glowing eyes emerged. Aine blinked in disbelief and slowly lowered his weapon as a large, angry cat slinked into view; back arched and tail like a bottle brush.
Aine stepped towards it and the animal hissed and darted for the door. The Executioner was faster, and he caught the seething mass of fur behind the neck and hefted it in the air. It snarled and struck out as Aine sniffed it. This was what he’d been smelling. Had Tom…?
He could smell the immortality and knew it had to be true. A vampire cat. What in the hell was he supposed to do with that?
He heard the downstairs door open and close, and footsteps tromp up the stairs. He dropped the creature and hid just inside the bedroom, tensed and ready. Tom’s scent wafted to him as the vampire shuffled to a stop outside his door. Aine cursed silently; he’d left it open and now Tom knew-
“Executioner!” the vampire roared. “I can smell you. Come out!”
So much for surprise.
Aine debated for a moment and then decided he had had enough. He slid the dagger back into his coat and stepped into the doorway. He leveled his gaze with Tom’s. The vampire snarled and made to charge, but his body didn’t move.
“What in the hell?”
“We’ve already done the introductions,” Aine said coldly. “I am here to escort you to the citadel where you will stand trial for a long list of crimes, including turning an animal without due permission.”
Tom strained and snarled, but his limbs stayed stationary, held in place by Aine’s abilities. “You’re a puppet master, aren’t you?”
“Yes, actually. Do you have a phone?”
Tom looked puzzled. “No, why? Is that a crime, too?”
“No.” Aine pulled his cellphone out and pressed the buttons but it stayed dark. It would have been easier to call the guards and let them restrain the prisoner and haul him off, but it looked like he’d have to do it himself. “It doesn’t matter. Do you have an animal carrier for the cat?”
Tom adopted an attitude of fake innocence. “What cat?”
At that moment the animal strode out of the bedroom gave a loud “meow” and rubbed against his legs. Tom looked away and then muttered, “Oh, that cat.” His voice rose as he snapped, ‘It’s a bunch of bureaucratic nonsense, demanding that we ask their permission to turn something. They don’t care about making more vampires, but don’t turn your bloody cat immortal or the police come for you.”
Aine was inclined to agree, but he knew better than to say so. “I’m not here because of the cat. I’m here because you tore up a diner, killed two people, and left a score of witnesses to the fact.” Tom’s mouth opened and Aine quickly added, “Save it for the council.”
Tom fell into an unhappy silence, except for the occasional straining sound as he tried to force his limbs to move, and Aine searched the apartment for a box to cram the cat in. He wasn’t sure what would hold the creature; with immortality came increased strength, and he didn’t want it ripping its way out during transit and running loose in the city.
He found a metal safety deposit box under the bed that he thought would work. Like themselves, the cat wouldn’t need air. Tom gave another loud grunt and fought against his seeming paralysis. Aine’s head ached with the force required to keep the vampire immobile. He wasn’t sure how he was going to make him walk down the stairs and through the streets to the appointed meeting place. He’d have to deal with it when the time came.
He rubbed his forehead, then turned to the feline who was systematically shredding the book on the floor. “Here, kitty, kitty.”
The cat gave him a long, cold stare, and then in a single leap disappeared into the bedroom.
With a muttered, “God dammit, I’m ready for this night to be over!” Aine bounded after it. The thing tore around the small room, over the bed, halfway up the wall, down again, and around the floor, circling like a ballerina doing Manèges steps. He finally managed to tackle the beast and force it into the box, howling, hissing, and slashing all the way.
“There,” he proclaimed to no one in particular and stormed back to the living room. His head pounded and he was covered in long, angry scratches. To make his mood worse, he found that Tom had managed to raise his arms and spread his feet, though he still hadn’t actually moved. The prisoner stopped his struggles when he saw the metal box, and Aine had a sudden burst of inspiration. “You can cooperate or else I’ll incinerate this monster myself.”
Tom’s face went pale and his eyes burned with a mixture of fury and fear. “You wouldn’t. It’s not the cat’s fault.”
“The future is no more uncertain than the present,” Aine quipped. “If you think I’m in the mood to mess around, you’re mistaken. You will accompany me to the Guild, where you will stand before the council for your crimes and receive just punishment.”
“Sure I will. More likely you’ll cut off my head when I’m not looking and eat my heart for kicks. I know how you and your friends and your boss Malick operate.”
Aine began to slowly release his influence, watching for any signs of Tom’s fight or flight. “Malick isn’t in charge anymore. It’s Eileifr now, and the rules are a little different.”
Tom’s face twisted back and forth between surprise and bitter disbelief, and stopped on the latter. “If you say so. Just don’t hurt my damned cat or I’ll tear you apart myself.”
“You’re not in a position to call the shots,” Aine pointed out. “But if you cooperate I won’t do anything to it.”
Tom growled low in his throat but, as Aine pulled away the last of his control, he continued to stand motionless. “So where the hell are we going?”
It was a long walk to the abandoned warehouse. Tom strode next to Aine like a thunder cloud, his glittering eyes mere slits that said he was going to grab that metal box and run for it at his first chance. Aine held it tightly in one hand, and his dagger in the other. He wished he had a more substantial weapon, but there hadn’t been any way to get something larger on the bus, and since The Guild’s intel said that Tom rode the bus every night…
The pair of guards was suddenly visible in a slice of streetlight. They stood like dark statues against the rusty, corrugated walls of the warehouse, barely disguised masks of irritation on their faces.
“I got him,” Aine called, just for something to say. “I would have called but my phone got coffee spilled on it.”
“Coffee?” One of the guards demanded. “Or did you just want all the glory yourself?”
“Roger!” Cried the other with alarm. “You can’t talk to Executioners like that.”
Roger rolled his eyes. “It’s not like it’s one of the real ones. It’s only Aine. For crying out loud, I’ve been a guard longer than he was. Just because he’s got a title now doesn’t mean anything. Two months ago he’d have been in your place!”
“That was then,” said the other quickly. “Now he could kill you for back talking!”
Aine didn’t have time for this. He couldn’t believe Tom had cooperated as long as he had, and any moment he knew the vampire would decide to abandon the cat and take off. If he did they might not catch him. “Sorry to interrupt, but could you take the prisoner into custody?”
The nervous guard gave a high pitched “eep” sound, snapped a salute and muttered apologies as he ran to take one of Tom’s arms. Roger produced another eye roll, but did the same. They quickly bound Tom and hauled him towards a van that sat half concealed in shadows.
“We’ll take him in,” Roger said with no small amount of bitterness. “And I imagine we’ll do the paperwork.”
Normally Aine would have done it himself, but his head still hurt and Roger’s attitude annoyed him. “Sure, go ahead. You’ve had a lot more practice than I have, since you’ve been a guard longer.”
Roger scowled darkly. “The next time an Executioner spot opens-”
“You should put in for it,” Aine agreed. “You’re probably good at filling the application out by now.” He nodded to a black sports car that was parked near the van. “I’ll follow you in, unless they give me another assignment in the meantime.”
“Your phone would have to work for that.” Roger sniffed disdainfully.
Aine gave him a smile. “Then I guess I’ll get a vacation, huh?”
When Aine got back to the citadel he filed his report and turned his cell in for a new one. As he tested out the menu he asked causally, “So, the prisoner?”
“They, uh, took him to detention. Looks like he’s likely to get ten years or more, if they go by the, uh, book.” He gave Aine’s paperwork a quick, nervous read through and stammered, “Uh, s-sir? You, uh, you mentioned a cat in your, uh, report.”
Aine wanted nothing more than a shower and a nice, big glass of blood. “And?”
“Well, beg your pardon, sir, but I, uh, you, you didn’t fill out an extermination request for the, uh, for the animal. I’m sorry, but you’ll need to fill one out and, uh, you’ll have to take it down to the basement.”
“Didn’t Roger do that already?”
“Roger? Uh, no, no sir, I don’t believe so. He did file some paperwork on the prisoner and such, but um, not, not anything on an animal.”
Aine rubbed his forehead with irritation. “He didn’t let the damn thing escape did he?” He suddenly narrowed his eyes and snapped, “That’s great. Now there’s a vampire cat running loose somewhere. Put him on report for negligence!”
The stammering guard gave a quick salute, and started to shuffle through papers. “Yes, yes, sir. Of course, sir. Right away, sir.”
“I’m tired of incompetence,” Aine added for good measure. “If there’s nothing further that Roger forgot to do then I’m going to my quarters.”
“Y-yes sir. Of course, sir. Have a nice day, sir.”
Aine took a shower, dressed in fresh clothes and fetched himself a large bag of blood. He dropped onto the sofa and poured some of the crimson liquid into a cup. It shimmered in the light and he reluctantly set it aside and turned to the metal security box at his feet.
“All right, monster. I’m going to open this, and if you try to take my head off I swear I’ll fill one of those forms out.” It was a lie. Evil or not, he couldn’t bring himself to have the thing destroyed.
He snapped the locks and waited for the cat to spring at him, but instead it sat hunched back in its box and meowed piteously.
Aine sighed and stuck his hand inside. “Come on, kitty, kitty. I won’t fill the form out. Come on.” He picked the cup up in the other hand and waved it towards the feline. “Come on and have some nice blood.”
The cat gave a long, low howl and leaped. He bounced off of Aine’s chest, pinponged off the arm of the couch, and pounced to a stop on the floor at his feet, expectant eyes peering upwards. Aine slowly set the cup in front of it, and drew back before the beast could tear him to shreds, but it only set on the blood like a kitten to milk, lapping happily.
Aine leaned back and sucked at his own dinner. He’d have to wait a week or two, but then he could put in a request for a cat. Everyone was so busy with construction and organizing new policies that he doubted anyone would oppose it. Though a cat was something he needed like a hole in the head, even if it was only for ten years.
Finished with its meal, the creature hopped up on the couch and settled itself in Aine’s lap, purring loudly. The vampire tensed for an attack, but when none came he relaxed and gave it a half-hearted pat on the head. Maybe having an immortal pet wouldn’t be so bad, after all.
And that’s all I’ve got. No real purpose, but it happens. Next up will be Ark.
Have a good one!
(Nov 21, 2008)
This is a challenge from Devon’s Blog back on MySpace. The challenge was to write a story of either twilight or Harry Potter fan fic that used the line “Your face is my sex toy”. I’ve never written any Twilight fic, so I stuck with familiar characters.
“Now watch this.”
Those were Fred’s infamous words as he stood, half concealed behind a large bush on the Weasley property. Two other pairs of eyes stared from behind the fluffy green leaves and watched their sister with Harry, the boy that was slowly turning into something far more serious than a crush.
Ron snickered. “You know, Harry’s going to kill you, right?”
“You have no thirst for knowledge,” George replied, clapping his brother on the back. “I’m sure Harry will understand that this is in the pursuit of discovery-”
Fred waved his twin to silence and continued to stare. If the Yapping Yum-yums could have been activated simply by sheer willpower then Ginny would have been babbling already. As it was, they took a good ten minutes after ingested.
Ron scratched his chin impatiently. He didn’t have a lot of faith in the twins’ newest invention. “I don’t want to be a bother but-”
“Then be quiet,” Fred muttered testily.
“Before we have to feed these to you,” George added for good measure. Not that experimenting on Ron was a bad idea, or one they weren’t ready to embrace. It was just that they’d needed someone to give Harry the chocolates so that he’d pass them to Ginny. There was no way she’d have taken anything that either Fred or George gave her. She was a sight smarter than that – and they knew it.
Ron fell silent. Harry continued to lean against the trunk of a gnarled oak tree and Ginny continued to talk to him. At first her words made the eavesdroppers a little ill, but that quickly changed.
“-I do love you, Harry. You know I do, but you have to learn to trust me more. Communicate. I may not be Ron or Hermione, but I’m just as capable as that tart-”
Harry’s eyes grew wide. “What?”
“What?” she echoed, and Fred and George silently high fived to the oblivious look on her face.
“I said that I can help you just as well as they can. Sure, I may not spend every minute in a book, but I still know things. I suppose it’s just as well she does though, the way Ron fancies her. He’s such a dope he’ll have to marry someone who has an IQ higher than a houseplant-”
Ron silently fumed and George had to cover his mouth to keep from laughing out loud. “This is brutal.”
“- I was really afraid Lavender had him. She’s nothing but powder and rouge, no substance of any kind. Bloody hell, imagine having her as a sister in law. It would be as bad as Phlegm’s going to be. Merlin but what possesses Bill to ever go for a French bint like that? Oh, wait, I know, I know!” She struck a decidedly seductive pose that left Harry wide eyed. “I cannot help eet, Harry, I am in love viz you. I vill do vatever you vish me to zo long as you are ‘appy vith me.”
Harry gave an appreciative laugh, but it seemed a little forced. “Are you feeling all right?”
“I feel fine!” Ginny cried, and then she took on a decidedly devilish look. She captured Harry’s startled face between her hands and gazed into his eyes. “I feel perfect,” she purred. “Maybe you should ‘feel’ me and see.”
The boys in the bush all exchanged horrified looks. “She can’t mean-” Ron began, but his words turned into a tight strangled noise when Ginny placed Harry’s hand squarely on her butt.
“We don’t need to see this,” George murmured.
“I know, but we can’t get out of here-”
“They’ll see us,” George finished. “And apparition is too loud.”
Ginny knocked Harry back against the tree and kissed him passionately while the eavesdroppers continued to argue, they were torn between the brotherly desire to do something about this, the heart of a scientist which said to let things play out, and the old fashioned British desire to run when the going got tough.
What small amount of reluctance Harry had shown previously fled under the power of that kiss, and when next the boys looked the pair was making out heavily beneath the tree.
“Merlin’s balls!” Ron hissed and covered his eyes. “I can’t take this!”
“I know,” Fred snapped. “Ah, forget it, come on let’s just-”
“Oh Harry. Your face is my sex toy!”
“That’s it!” Ron shouted at full volume and the dissapparated with a snap. The twins quickly followed him, and though they called the tests a success, the Yapping yum-yums were never added to their inventory and Mrs. Weasley was certain she heard them performing mild memory charms on one another.
This was for a collab contest on Barb & Friends. Anyway, no one dies, no one gets hurt, no one tortures anyone… Just a down home, feel good, supposed to be funny kinda story :p This proves I can write other things. Now that I have shown I have depth I am going back to death >:)
Why I Prefer Pepsi
The old shed sat back from the house, only a few yards from the cracking “trash-fire” that burned every Wednesday. I and my cousin Annabell made our barefoot way to the dilapidated building, fighting early afternoon mosquitoes as we went.
“The smell always makes your eyes water,” she explained to me and nodded towards the column of smoke issuing from the tin chimney spout. “If it don’t it ain’t a good batch.”
I nodded my head in time to her words, trying to soak in as much as possible. I had a lot to learn and only a few short weeks until I had to go home. Mom had said that spending my summer with our far away family would be educational, and Annabell was trying her best to see that it was.
The shed door stood open and Uncle Bo was sitting inside, one foot propped up on a dented gasoline can and yesterday’s newspaper gripped in his meaty fist. My cousin Annabell was right; the smell coming out of the still was noxious at best and nearly knocked me over.
Uncle Bo didn’t bother to look at us as he said, “Ain’t ready yet.”
“But there ought ta be a whole bunch from the last batch,” Annabell argued. “We only have ’til Grandma gets back. Ya know she won’t le us have any if she’s here.”
“There was some left,” he agreed. “But ol’ Lady Cole was round this mornin’ and she traded some food stamps for moonshine. Ma’s gone inta the store ta get some vittles with ’em.”
Annabell did her best pout but Uncle Bo ignored her. When she saw she wasn’t getting anywhere, she tried again, “What about Granny’s secret stash? Ya know she always keeps a bit hid out.”
He shook his head again. “Heck no, Granny done took that with her! She needed it to start the trash fire, because we’re outta kerosene!”
Annabell continued to cajole him, but she didn’t get far, so instead she crankily imitated grandma, “When ya gonna fix this shed. It’s ready to fall in on us all.”
His answer wasn’t very convincing. “Ya’ll know I got a bad back.”
Before Annabell could express her disbelief, the neighbor woman, Miss Casteel, came wandering in. Miss Casteel had been a “miss” for about six months. Her husband had died a mysterious death and she was now working on making the most of her figure and stupid men, or so Granny said.
As if to prove our matriarch’s words, Miss Casteel casually draped herself over an old barrel and gave Uncle Bo a lazy smile. “Well hello there. And how are you today?”
The man nearly injured himself to drop the paper and sit up straight. “Why hello, what brings you all the way over here? I’d offer ya some moonshine but we’re plum out, ‘cept for what I keep tucked away.”
“That’s okay,” She said quickly. “”I dare not drink. You know bad things happen around me when I do.”
Though Annabel and I had perked up at the idea of something “tucked away”, we quickly lost interest in the conversation. Miss Casteel was just trying to get Uncle Bo to fix her leaky roof, and he was dumb enough to agree; now that his back had been miraculously cured by a flash of deep cleavage. But when he started hinting about coming round her place for dinner, the climate changed from hot to chilly.
“Hell, Bo, I’d rather have the moonshine!”
Uncle Bo was crushed, but Miss Castel sashayed home as if she didn’t notice, and maybe she didn’t.
It wasn’t five minutes before we saw Uncle Bo draw out an old coke bottle full of something brown. He took a hard swig, then lowered it slowly, his eyes on us. “I reckon ain’t no harm,” he muttered and held it out. “Who cares now anyway?”
Annabell grabbed the bottle and took a big drink from it. She smacked her lips, her eyes wide, and handed the coke bottle over to me. I stared at it for a full minute before I could bring myself to take a sip.
The taste of it took my breath away, but it didn’t burn until it hit my stomach. Then, the burning felt like I was dying. Still, under Annabell’s watchful gaze I forced myself to take another flaming gulp. My head soon started to get really light and the burning went away. In fact, I couldn’t even taste the stuff anymore. With out a flavor, the moonshine wasn’t bad at all.
By the time Granny came back Annabell and I were having a good time. I was sprawled on the dirt floor, shaking the empty flask and giggling. “Oops, now we need some more? You got any?”
Granny stared from one to the other of us and then kicked the chair out from under Uncle Bo. He hit the ground hard, and it set me and Annabell to laughing. She told him in a feisty manner, that she wasn’t giving him any more moonshine if he was gonna give it to kids. Then she turned her fury on us.
After a lengthy lecture, none of which I remembered later, she hauled us both out of the shed by our dresses and set us to weeding the garden. We were too drunk to stand up right, and then with the hot sun beating down on us it wasn’t long until we were both too sick to crawl. When Granny thought we’d had enough she hauled us in the house and sent us to bed without supper; not that we minded much. The thought of food just made us both sick.
To this day I can’t look at coke bottles without thinking of that burning moonshine and getting queasy. Needles to say, I prefer Pepsi.
Song playing at the moment – Drag – Placebo
(from July 2008)
The cool October breeze ruffles my hair. I stare past the line of naked trees, to the buildings beyon,d and wonder for the hundredth time, “What am I doing here?” But I know the answer. I’m waiting.
I close my eyes and picture memories of days long past. A childhood spent cowering in fear. Mother certainly believed in corporal punishment unless, of course, she was the one in the wrong. She’d beat the shit out of us and dare us to cry, so mad she didn’t make any sense. I used to think, “Isn’t a person suppose to cry when they’re in pain”, but that didn’t matter to Mother. It was the first lesson that I learned: when you hurt, no one wants to know. They want you to pretend that you’re fine, even as they beat you with their fists.
“This will hurt me more than it will hurt you.” That’s what she muttered with each blow, but of course it hadn’t. It had never really hurt mother, in fact she rarely remembered it the next morning when she’d wake from her drunken stupor and demand breakfast. If the eggs were burned I’d be sent back again with a black eye for my trouble. I quickly learned to please people on the first try.
In my teen years, Daddy was always in and out of jail. At 16 I quit school and got a job at the bar. I was only supposed to wait tables but soon I was on the stage whirling around the pole for money – and good money too. That’s when I learned that money couldn’t fix everything and I moved out on my own by the year’s end. Then I met him.
He was everything I’d longed for: brains, brawn and beauty wrapped up under a shock of dark hair. He’d smiled and winked and told me how pretty I was. I believed him, never thinking that it could have been the whiskey talking. From there things went from bad to worse. I had to fight almost every day just to survive. He’d lay on the couch and demanded that I wait on him while he watched TV and told me what a whore I was. I’d heard it all before and learned to keep my mouth shut long ago. A valuable lesson taught by my parents.
But some days it was hard. When I was out of pills, I felt like I could scream, like all the world was closing in on me. It didn’t help that people were constantly causing trouble, like little whinny ass bitches, and they were suppose to be my friends. And then my sister was just as bad, making up lies and belittling me. It got so bad that I’d hide in the bathroom at work and dig my fingernails into my arm until it bled, just to release the tension. And then the day came.
It began like any other, but then there was a change in the wind. Dark clouds gathered in the distance, heavy and hateful. I hurried home, ahead of the storm. With every step I took towards the apartment, I got madder and madder. I hadn’t had my medicine in two weeks, which might have contributed to the anger, or maybe it was just the oppressive weather. As I walked in the front door something hit me wrong. It might have been his sneering face, or the years of anger built up like a boiling pot. Whatever it was, I finally snapped.
He was lying on the couch with a beer in his hand, and I pulled it away and threw it across the room. He sat bolt upright and shouted at me to “take a chill pill” but, there wasn’t enough medicine in the world to calm me down. As my anger raged, I knew I was changing into the creature I’d always feared, but there was nothing I could do about it. I screamed and shouted and beat at his face with my fists. When he fought back I used my shoe, pounding him again and again with the stiletto heal while he screamed. I’d finally learned an important lesson: you gotta take the bull by the horns sometimes, because the shit just keeps getting deeper.
The shoe fell to the floor and he lay still. His beautiful face was ruined but he wasn’t dead, not like he deserved. Regardless, I didn’t have time to waste. I packed my bags as fast as I could and ran from the apartment to the bus station, but the police got there before the bus. The handcuffs were cold on my wrists, still I didn’t struggle. From there life became a blur. A judge yelled at me, a courtroom of onlookers sneered and then I found the days growing longer and longer as the jail sentence passed. I would have been out sooner, but I took my last lesson seriously. Everything had made me tough as nails and I was tired of being knocked down. It was my turn to hit back.
Finally, they let me out and I found myself falling right back into the niche I’d left. A job at the bar, an apartment in the rundown section, another man with dark hair and sly eyes. It was like a never ending circle and that’s when I decided to really learn something and break the cycle. The only way to do that was to let go; let go of all the misery, and go forward into a world of hope. So, I decided to leave this town of pain.
The bus pulls up and I slowly look back as I stepped on it, relief in my eyes. I want to live, to experience how real love feels, to see what it’s like not to be belittled and used. My new life is going to be different and full of promise. I’ve chosen a new path and I need to follow it, no matter how scary it seems, and it does seem scary. The fear of the unknown silently haunts me as I looked out the bus window, getting comfortable for the journey ahead. I can’t help but wonder, will I finally have my freedom, or will the same old life find me no matter how far I run? That life is something I’m tired of, a prickly bush of fear and sorrow, the beauty of life’s rose lost among the pain of the thorns. If there’s one thing I’ve learned at last, it’s that there is no change unless you make the changes in yourself first, otherwise you just drag the past with you. At last, a lesson worth learning.
Hey, it has a happy ending 🙂
song playing at the moment – Control – The Birthday Massacre