On help...

A #microfiction for anyone who needs to ask for help sometimes…

The screams were so loud they echoed round the firmament. Loud enough to make the cherubs worry that the crystal would crack. Loud enough to make the hosts feel guilty for ignoring it.

But still they did, and continued with their tasks, trying and failing to drown out the sound with their chorus.

It echoed through the earth. Earthquakes were recorded that should have shaken continents, yet the earth never seemed to shake. But those close to the earth - the druids, the ancient, those near to death - were seen to burst into tears with no apparent reason.

But no-one looked into the occurrence any further.

And deep down in a place that could not be called dark, but was still the opposite of dark: a creature shrouded in a hood unwrapped the swaddled nothing from around it and stirred. It did not open its eyes, for it had been a long time since there was anything for it to see, but it moved in a way that suggested it *perceived*.

And, without in any way appearing to move, it began to follow the string made of screaming back to its source.

When it arrived, there was a feeling of weight and effort, like great metal shutters being lifted up hand up despite its rusted mechanisms. And the thing in the hood opened those things that were almost like eyes and it *saw*.

It was a rocky place. A barren place. A place of washed out sepia like an old, weathered photograph.

And there, stretched out against the coarse landscape, was *her*. It was not so much that she was *chained*, as it was that the topology of this place had been built around her wrists. Behind her, her great wings were pinned to the rock by a thousand tiny stalagmites.

It must have taken generations for the earth to trap her so. She had been there for less than a day.

“Why do you scream, so?” The hooded thing did not seem to speak, instead the words simply *were*, all of a sudden and all at once: a complete sentence hitting the ear like an asteroid.

She simply kept screaming.

The hooded one did not move, but still she felt something touch her cheek gently. It was less of a feeling of touch or contact, as it was the precise memory and experience of comfort.

The agony did not stop. But she suddenly found she did not care to scream.

“I am-” she gulped down a great lungful of dry, scratchy air. “I am sorry if my screams disturbed you, stranger.”

“I am no stranger to you.”

She gulped and licked her lips and felt the sting of cracks like geography in her flesh.

“Still, my … friend. It cannot be a pleasant thing to hear. Do you know I once sang the crystal spheres into their place?” She laughed a little and felt it ripple torturously down the stretched mess of her. “Now just these ugly screams…”

“You think they’re ugly?”

“Of course.” She looked at the hooded figure as if they were stupid. “They’re *screams*.”

“Pain is only your body asking for help. Screams are just a plea for aid with all the frills stripped away.” Suddenly, she felt something give behind her and own of her wings whipped free, dangerous as a torn cable. “Asking for help is one of the most beautiful things you can do.”

She felt her other wing give way and spring sharply back through the squealing air.

The pain was excruciatingly gratifying.

“I will sit with you a while.” The hooded creature announced. “And we will see how it is we can help.”

Day 24

I cannot believe it took me this long to notice the art in this world. When I first arrived, I was convinced nothing could hold the same beauty as my home planet. I was convinced that this planet was simply a subject to our science, another something to study and add to our books. I was sent here with the intention to find out how it works, to somehow integrate myself into human life. To love and hurt and feel and know how these strange and mysterious creatures work, for they are so similar in looks to us, and yet so far in spirit. I came here believing that this planet was an ecosystem. A habitat. Nothing more.

But I had deceived myself. I am beginning to believe that this planet is a work of art.

It seems ridiculous in the loud moments, when everything around me is going to fast, and the hues clash against one another. When the world is rough on my mind, and I feel as if everything is breaking over me, as water breaks over rocks. When the air is suddenly sucked out of my lungs, and the ground sways beneath me, I can easily think that Earth is lesser than my planet.

But other moments, it is not so easy to see it that way. Early morning, for example, when the sun is rising so slowly that you can see the rays creeping across the ground. That is art. Or when you step into a glen, and the world around you is suddenly tainted green and the everything else fades, except for peace and quiet. Or when it’s raining out, and for some reason, the water seems to slow everything to a crawl, and emotion is thick in the air. Or when you’re standing in a gas station store late at night, and suddenly the mortality of the world comes crashing in on you. Tragic art, but art nonetheless.

And so, I have learned that this earth may be far more complex and beautiful than we had ever hoped.

But despite all that I am learning, I still miss home. I miss it most in the little moments. Like right before I fall asleep, and I’m stuck in the half-realm between dream and reality. That is when I miss the soft pink presence of my planet the most. Or right when I wake up, only to be met by the harsh glaring light of this planet. And I miss the quiet. It is never quiet on this planet. Everything feels the need to be rushing all the time. The days are so short, as are the nights. No one has time to “just talk” here. There’s always something new to see, to achieve, to reach, to create. It’s tiring. I miss the peace. I miss the quiet.

But there was a moment yesterday that made me miss it the most I have since I left. I came out of the gas station with my host family, only to see the sky lit up in the most brilliant display of color that I have ever seen. It was almost - not exactly - but almost the same color as my planet. A brilliant swirling painting of purple and pinks, accented with deep blues. The clear clouds hung in suspense over our heads, turning the previously blue sky into a masterpiece. Every single bit of the color reminded me of home, and I began to feel my heart leap in my chest. It was trying to return. I longed to go to the sky, more than I’ve ever longed for anything before. I stared up at the clouds, counting every second like it would be my last. I didn’t even dare to breathe for a long time, as if even a breath of wind would scatter the color. I stared and stared, until the mother began calling to me from the car, and I had to run to get in.

I still miss home, but I can see the beauty that lies below the surface of this too-bright planet. I will write again, who knows when.

Until next time,

Rosa.

So while I was going through my writer’s block, I wrote this little bit of flash fiction. I don’t think I plan on continuing it, and even though it was a departure from what I normally write, I had fun doing it.  It’s untitled, but here goes.

~

The table was cold underneath her back. Eyes squinted under the glaring light. Thetes’ body writhed under the sensor that passed over her, the heat of the invisible ultrasound rays made her surface wounds disappear while taking care of the damage made to her lungs.

Tears slid down the sides of her cheeks as the last of the pain died away. She slowly unclenched her fists as an oxygen mask was placed over her face. Oxygen, clean air, was the final step after every quickening. This was her fifth, and though she was getting used to it by now, it hadn’t grown any less painful.

Beside her, Jacob groaned. He’d sustained more damage than she had. He had a broken arm, damage to his left jaw, and part of his right leg was missing below the knee. His long hair was matted to his head and blood soaked. He’d sustained quite a bit of trauma to the head, it was nothing short of a miracle he was even breathing.

The machines connected to him were beeping rapidly, their sound an annoying resonance in the room. She muttered his name, but it was barely a whisper that nobody but she could hear.

“Jacob,” she said again, blinking back tears and swallowing hard. She couldn’t lose him. They were a pair, created together, fated to love and live and die, but not without each other. Sometimes it was a piteous existence. Sometimes it was so hard living and fighting, not themselves, but the Kestrals who moved through time and space and found them no matter what century or age they existed in. It was because of them that they lay here, now with both their lives hanging in the balance.

She couldn’t lose him. Not when her destiny and fate was tied to his.

He screamed as bone and sinew and flesh and blood extended from his knee and restored his leg and foot. The pain that was evident in the sounds he made almost made her heart shatter into a thousand pieces.

“Thetes.” He called to her, his voice wrapped in agony. His quickening was taking much longer than it had before. But then again, he’d never been this badly hurt before. “Thetes.”

Unable to bear his pain any longer, and despite the fact that the oxygen had yet to fully do its work, she got up from her hospital bed and walked over to his. The clinicians momentarily stopped their work and moved out of the way. The humming from the ultrasound died down a bit while she stared into his eyes.

“Help me,” he begged.

She held his both his hand and closed her eyes. She felt energy fill the room, raw and warm, and it moved down the walls and across the ceiling as if it was searching for a resting place. Searching for a conduit. She’d heard stories about it, heard the Force of the Age visited certain people after a quickening, but only in the rarest of cases. When it did, it would extend the person’s life cycle, accelerate their quickening and make them stronger once they were healed. She’d heard about the unique and almost spiritual experience, but she never in a million years thought it would happen to them.

“Hold onto me,” she told him before she wrapped her arms around his shoulder.

Thetes screamed as jolts of electrical energy passed through her and transferred to Jacob. Lightning passed between them, circling limbs and fingers, hearts and bodies. Power was doing was oxygen had yet to complete. Light was healing what the rays of the ultrasound had not yet touched. Broken bone was mended, and internal bleeding was stopped, and when it was done, she slid to the floor exhaustion gripping her tightly.

~~

@brynwrites @prideandpen @boothewriter , can I get some critiques, if you’re not too busy.  

gonna tag @intheindigo too

It was standing right in the middle of my room: a diving suit, with a little note taped to the front. No sender mentioned. But the message on the note said simply “This should help.” I lived alone, so this was very unusual. Had someone broken into my apartment at night? How did they manage to sneak in a diving suit from the previous century? What was it going to help me with?

I just looked at the damn thing all the day on the first day. On the second, I actually got around to wearing it. I breathed in oxygen from a tank. The world around me had turned dark, and blue. I could hear deep sounds, like I was in a womb. It was very difficult to walk, both because the suit was so heavy, and because of all the water around me.

I stepped out of the apartment, and down onto the streets. When people turn into merfolk, they seem a lot less threatening. They become a strange culture that lives underwater, that you’re exploring. I struggled my way through the street, but despite how tiresome it was, I managed to find a rhythm.

The city breathed through its gills, and its people survived here in the dark, far below the sunlight. My torch shone upon these fascinating creatures, with their scales glimmering and their tails wagging and their grotesque jaws clenching upon prey. Their metros, through which they travelled, and their cars, in which they were safe and fast.

But then, the great shark. I could see the sun illuminate the blues far above, but the shark blocked them out. It looked bigger than any shark I’d ever seen. It swooped down and gobbled up the merfolk. For some reason, it left me alone. Maybe it didn’t think my diving suit was appealing enough?

But my oxygen was running low, so I made my way back to the apartment. Standing where I’d started, I unscrewed the helmet, and breathed in fresh air. The apartment was drenched in seawater. I got out of the suit and crashed.

The following day, the suit was gone. The floor was dry. There was a note on the coffee table. I picked it up, but I didn’t read it. Instead, I stepped out of the apartment. Paper in hand, I looked at the people walking and laughing on phones and reading and driving cars. Something about them felt real. Very real. Like I could reach out and touch them, and I’d absorb their reality, just like that.

Up on the mountain park, there’s a bench I liked to sit at when I was a teenager. It was broken. I sat on the grass next to it instead, and read the note.

After I read it, I held it up to the wind and let it fly away.

My diving suit wasn’t coming back, it turned out. I didn’t need it anymore either.

I’ll miss the merfolk.

A GUIDE FOR YOUNG LADIES ENTERING THE SERVICE OF THE FAIRIES, by Rosamund Hodge


I.

This is the lie they will use to break you: no one else has ever loved this way before.


II.

Choose wisely which court you serve. Light or Dark, Summer or Winter, Seelie or Unseelie: they have many names, but the pith of the choice is this: a poisoned flower or a knife in the dark?

(The difference is less and more than you might think.)

Of course, this is only if you go to them for the granting of a wish: to save your father, sister, lover, dearest friend. If you go to get someone back from them, or—most foolish of all—because you fell in love with one of them, you will have no choice at all. You must go to the ones that chose you.


III.

Be kind to the creature that guards your door. Do not mock its broken, bleeding face.

It will never help you in return. But I assure you, someday you will be glad to know that you were kind to something once.


IV.

Do not be surprised how many other mortal girls are there within the halls. The world is full of wishing and of wanting, and the fairies love to play with human hearts.

You will meet all kinds: the terrified ones, who used all their courage just getting there. The hopeful ones, who think that love or cleverness is enough to get them home. The angry ones, who see only one way out. The cold ones, who are already half-fairy.

I would tell you, Do not try to make friends with any of them, but you will anyway.


V.

Sooner or later (if you serve well, if you do not open the forbidden door and let the monster eat you), they will tell you about the game.

Summer battles Winter, Light battles Dark. This is the law of the world. And on the chessboard of the fairies, White battles Black.

In the glory of this battle, the pieces that are brave and strong may win their heart’s desire.


VI.

You already have forgotten how the mortal sun felt upon your face. You already know the bargain that brought you here was a lie.

If you came to save your sick mother, you fear she is dead already. If you came to free your captive sister, your fear she will be sent to Hell for the next tithe. If you came for love of an elf-knight, you are broken with wanting him, and yet he does not seem to know you.

Say yes.


Keep reading

bzfd.it
A  Very Short Story About Pirate Librarians
"In the fourth month a border patrol boat shot at them when they tried to pull in to the national harbor. So, no more storytimes."
By Danielle Evans

Veronica admits there was a moment when she thought this was going to be glamorous. Everything was only just beginning to go to hell: walls and checkpoints going up, a scattershot of environmental disasters, self-declared militias on patrol. It seemed like a good plan they had, to be on a boat for a while. It was the kind of idea people had early on, when it still seemed possible that it would end soon enough and well enough, when the present seemed like an opportunity to make history. The kind of story a plucky filmmaker would love twenty years from now: mild mannered booksellers become pirate librarians! A thing they could tell their grandkids.

The pirate business was mostly theoretical. Performance art as much as anything. They raised the money for the boat on gofundme and bought it cheap from a photographer with dual citizenship who had decided to wait things out in Europe. It was a boat and not a ship, even after they painted it and gave it a handmade flag. They were going to sail the great loop, hang out doing banned book readings from port to port, then go home and fundraise for part two, a more elaborate trip involving cutting through Panama and sailing up the west coast. At one of the early read-ins they wore pirate costumes, but only because the local community theatre had donated them at their launch party.

Guns are easier to get now than ibuprofen.

Now, she and Grace are always in leggings and worn out tees, the kind of shirts her husband would have mocked her for wearing even to bed, if she still had a husband, which she did when this started. It has never been as heroic an endeavor as she hoped. They wanted to promote reading and storytelling and art and truth and for three months that was considered safely theatrical because mostly it was, and in the fourth month a border patrol boat shot at them when they tried to pull in to the national harbor. So, no more storytimes.

Continue reading.

Note: This piece was originally written for and performed at Symphony Space’s Selected Shorts: Flash Fiction event in partnership with BuzzFeed Books.

Negotiation Table

“Before we begin, I want to be sure of a few things. This device you’ve provided us with, it is 100% effective at understanding and translating languages, correct?”

“Nearly. We occasionally find a race with one or two concepts that it has trouble with, but that’s easily smoothed over.”

“One or two…okay. That’s odd.”

“Have you already found something it can’t translate?”

“Of a sort, yes. Mind humoring me for a few minutes?”

“Certainly. After all, it can take years to accept a race into the Federation.”

“Excellent. This shouldn’t take much time. I mentioned that we found some issues with your device. Allow me to demonstrate: Espionage.”

“ERROR: NO ANALOGUE FOUND”

“Reverse Engineering.”

“ERROR: NO ANALOGUE FOUND”

“Spycraft.”

“ERROR: NO ANALOGUE FO-”

“Overwhelming Force”

“ERROR: NO-”

“Scorched Earth”

“ER-”

“Kamikaze”

“E-”

Blitzkrieg, Stealth, Mutually Assured Destruction, Acceptable Losses, Pyrrhic Victory, Guerilla Warfare, Encirclement, Entrenchment, Siege.”

“TOO MANY ERRORS DETECTED. REBOOTING. RUNNING SELF DIAGNOSTIC. NO DISCREPANCIES FOUND,”

“Xenocide”

“Why do you have a word for…what was all that just now?”

“We were confused about that too. So we took a look at the information you sent as part of first contact with us. We noticed something interesting. Every single race in your Federation is carnivorous. Why is that?”

“First contact has always been made after sapient races make it to multiple worlds. We’ve never found a sapient herbivorous race which failed to destroy themselves in resource wars and aggressive action. We’ve never found herbivores capable of surviving long enough to leave their own world.”

“And the races you have found, while commonly using threat displays, do not waste resources on wars they cannot easily win, correct?”

“Wasted resources means decreased likelihood of survival.”

“And yet herbivores constantly waste resources on aggression, on movement, on having more young than will possibly survive.”

“And they die for it. That’s exactly why we’ve never encountered spacefaring herbivores. Their inherent aggression is their own demise.”

“Indeed. Now, back to the subject at hand. I’ll ask you before we continue: what can you offer humans for joining your Federation?”

“We’ve already sent the offer. You’ve seen that, I’m sure.”

“And I’m asking, what else do you have to offer?”

“Nothing. I’m not sure why you’re-”

“May I have permission to connect my datapad with my ship’s computers?”

“Yes, if you like.”

“Computer, show video: Hiroshima”

“That’s…you’re using weapons of that scale on a population center? How recent was this?”

“Three centuries ago. Prior to our invention of spaceflight. Part of a much larger conflict. This is a relatively minor example of “overwhelming force”“

“ERROR: NO A-”

“Shut it. Computer, show infosheet: Battle of Stalingrad.”

“That…what purpose would that…why w-”

“Because Stalingrad was an advantageous location and the people who died there were considered ‘Acceptable losses’“

“ERRO-”

“Computer, show gallery: General Sherman’s March to the Sea.”

“So much waste…that can’t be intentional, can it?”

“It was intentional.”

“But…why?”

“Because it rendered the enemy unable to use resources Sherman couldn’t keep. Computer, assemble and show video grouping: RTS Games”

“The translator can’t have gotten that right. Those are military tactical simulations. Higher level than anything I’ve ever seen or heard of.”

“No. They aren’t. Those are games. Toys. For. Fun. And they’re a couple hundred years out of date. From what I’ve seen, nearly every human capable of coherent speech is capable of tactically overwhelming your Federation. And since we’re already here, in space, it’s too late for you to say no. So, I’ll ask again:

What do you have to offer us?”

“This one is coffee-flavoured milk,” the waiter said, presenting the little bottle in one hand. The white label read in a light brown font: COFFEE.

“Isn’t that just coffee with milk?” I asked.

“No, no, it’s coffee-flavoured milk,” the waiter shook his head and smiled. “There’s many more flavours, if you would like to have a look. We haven’t prepared a menu yet, so you’ll have to have a look yourself.”

It was a new place. I’d spotted it while on one of my midnight walks. There used to be a hardware shop here, but then it got shut down for a few months, and this restaurant popped up in its place. “A Dairy Situation”, the sign outside said, along with a cheap graphic of a Holstein Friesian cow.

I stepped towards the refrigerator and squatted to get a good look. The waiter was right, there was quite the variety. You had the usual varieties: cocoa, strawberry, mango, orange, vanilla, pistachio, cardamom, saffron and even some strange ones like chilli, chicken, beef, wasabi, and so on.

“You make these here?” I asked.

“Right there in the back, ma'am,” the waiter nodded, and pulled out a passionfruit flavour bottle. “This is the newest one,” he said.

“I’ll have it,” I took the bottle from his hands and put it to my lips. Before I could down it, the waiter said—almost yelled—at me to stop. I asked him what’s wrong.

“There is something very important you need to know,” he nodded, “As soon as you drink it, you will return to when you were a baby. Your life, as you have lived it until now, will disappear, never to return. You will be a baby again, but the circumstances of your life will change in minute ways, culminating in a butterfly effect.”

I looked at the bottle in my hands and at the waiter.

“I’ve been here before,” I said.

“Several times,” he said, and then waved at the refrigerator. “These many times, to be exact.”

“And I’ve tried a new flavour each time?” I asked.

“Without fail.”

I contemplated the flavoured milk. “And every single time, I’ve ended up here,” I said.

“Oh, we have branches in many cities,” the waiter smiled again, but it wasn’t the same humble smile as before. Now it was a knowing smile.

I nodded. Then I flung the bottle against the glass door. The glass of the bottle shattered, and the pale yellow milk splattered across the door. I opened the refrigerator and started chucking each of the bottles at the door. The waiter watched without expression as the door was covered in different flavours of milk.

At the end, there was one flavour left. It was plain milk, without a label. Just white.

“That one’s not ready, ma'am,” the waiter said.

I opened the bottle and chugged it down. Once the bottle was empty, I slammed it on the table and wiped my mouth with the back of my wrist.

“What was this going to be?” I asked.

The waiter’s mouth opened and closed as he answered my question with a smile. Even as he spoke his words, I felt them slipping away from my mind. My vision faded, and soon, all I could hear was the sound of my own crying, and the warmth of my mother’s breast.

“Elain?” Lucien drawled, raising an eyebrow. He lounged in a chair by the fire, reading with his feet propped on a low table.

Elain sipped her wine, pretending to be interested in the things atop the mantle. “Yes?” she said.

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” she said innocently. But she swayed her hips to twirl her skirts. “What are you doing?" 

Lucien shut his book and braced his feet in the floor. He surveyed her, then tossed the book on the table. He smirked. She pretended to ignore him and sipped her wine, all the while walking away from him, idly running a finger along the top of the mantle.

"I think a better question,” he said standing, “would be what are you wearing?” He stepped over the small table and moved to stand on the opposite end of the fireplace as her. He crossed his arms.

Elain turned, feigning surprise. “You mean this?” She sipped her wine to hide her smile. She glanced below his belt then met his eyes. “Haven’t you seen a dress before my little fox friend?”

Lucien gave her a wry smile and took a heavy step forward. “I have,” he said. He took another step. “Yet they’re usually far more covering, and"—another step—"ladies tend to wear underthings with them.”

“Oh dear,” Elain said. “I see the problem.”

“Oh?” Lucien was an arms length away.

“Yes, see you said ‘ladies’ of which I am not.” She sipped her wine then set the glass on the mantle. Tossing her hair over her shoulder.

“Since when are you not anything but a lady?”

Elain stepped forward. “Since I put on this dress,” she whispered, brushing her breasts, her body, along his folded arms. “And stepped into this room,” she brushed her lips along his, “where I knew you’d be.”

Lucien let out a low growl, grabbed Elains upper arms—pulling her forward to press her breasts against his chest—and gave her a brutal, wanting kiss.

Fuck Milk And Honey

It’s 2017
Fuck the international space station
I’m floating to deep space
Fuck crude language
We’ll tear each other apart between the lines
Fuck art museums
My life is a living exhibit
Fuck the specifics
We’ll get by somehow, one way or another
Fuck ‘Six-Word Stories’
Take your time, express yourself
Fuck the sun
I’m working all night
Fuck whatever you think constitutes a ‘healthy life’
It’s subjective
Fuck anyone who thinks it’s okay to make fun of someone for being different
You’re more amazing then anyone could ever comprehend
Fuck the canon
I’m guessing and testing
Fuck the forecast
I’ll take it as it comes
Fuck anything that makes you feel bad for being alive
You’re trying your hardest, and we’re all so proud of you
Fuck the noise
I’m making robot sounds

WINTERVINE
by Lindsay Smith

I will rule for a thousand years, and none shall defy my reign.

I am the sole queen of these lands. Sole heir to the winter and the forests and the streams, sole arbiter of the echoing city streets of stone. So many would keep me from my throne, my true calling. But I have earned my place. I have shown them all what it means to rule.

It started with my sister. From my first hazy memories I remember her shadow weighing down on me, stifling my every move. “One day one of you must rule,” our father said to us, night after night when we gathered at his feet. “If it must be one of you, then I will be the one to choose.”

How could we learn to be sisters with such a decree? All I wanted was a friend, someone to look up to, someone to whisper to at night to keep the darkness away. But I learned quickly that that was only the surest path to her scorn. She saw me as weak, as foolish, as younger. I would reach out to her to pull me up and she would shove me right back down. I would show her my weakness and she would pry it open wide, ragged and bloody.

I didn’t realize the significance, at first, of what our father wanted us to become. Didn’t know what it meant to be queen, or why it was something worth fighting for. But as I learned from my sister, I learned to covet it, to hunger for it so fiercely that everything else tasted dried out and dull. She wanted to rule so that all would obey her. I wanted to rule so she could not.

The first time she tried to kill me, it was my nurse who gave it away. She woke me up in the dead of night and bundled me into a closet, told me not to make a noise no matter what followed. Then the guards came, swords drawn, visors lowered. They were only boys infatuated with my sister, but at the time everyone seemed impossibly old to me, unstoppably strong. I feared them, but I believed my nurse invincible too.

They taught me, quickly, how wrong I was.

After that, my father sent me to the country for a spell. Armed guards, a fleet of tutors, and an ailing count who watched over me with a gaze like sharpened knives. Sometimes the threats came in letters that the count would burn before he thought I could read them. Sometimes, It was assassins in the night.

Worst of all, though, were the long silences. The heaviness of her inaction dragging me to the bottom, drowning me. I never knew when the next assault would come for me.

Slowly, finally, I could wait no longer.

I found the woman in the country market, slender fingers grazing over her wares of pewter charms and crystals and bundled flowers. Her skin was smooth, her hair like silk, and when she looked my way, I saw the kiss of winter in her eyes.

“You look troubled,” she said, and the words wrapped around me like a soft breeze. “You look far too troubled for someone your age.”

I looked away then, ashamed to be so young. If I was older, if I was cleverer, I wouldn’t have to be sent away. I could prove myself worthy of the crown. I could beat my sister for good, beat her just enough that she’d never need attack me again. How foolish, that I thought winning once would be enough.

“Come closer.” She swept her hand over her goods. “Perhaps I might ease some of your pain.”

I started to meet with her every time I could sneak away from the count’s estate. It wasn’t often, but her lessons in the ways of magic filled me up with a sustenance I didn’t know I craved. I wanted to be her, to share her easy confidence and capability, to bend the world toward me with a subtle call the way she did. Her poultices cleared away blemishes and made water drinkable, but they also could boil blood, shatter bones, freeze a pond. She let me practice these skills as though they were interchangeable. She let me build on them, stringing them together like beads on a necklace, as I practiced on the woods beyond her hut.

The more power I gained, the more I sought. At long last, I understood the hunger in my sister’s belly. For now, I hungered too.

“You have a keen mind for magic,” she told me, when I worked something particularly cruel on a sparrow we found feasting on her garden. “A cruel mind. But I think a girl like you has to be cruel.”

“My sister is cruel. I just wish to survive.”

“Then I hope I’ve equipped you well,” she said. “Be like the wintervine. Feast on cold, on nothingness. For they have given you nothing. Use it to sprout your ice, your thorns.”

I looked at the wintervine where it flourished in the ice, and I felt its loneliness, its stubbornness, its scorn.

At long last I was of age, and my father sent for me once more. The time to choose was drawing near, but, he confided, in some ways he feared us both. His kingdom needed a decisive leader, yes, a sturdy leader, but compassion, too, he said, was called for. He did not see that he’d been the one to rob us of that. He didn’t see the dark seeds he’d planted in both our minds take hold.

My sister began her attempts anew, but this time, I was ready.

The first men she sent to kill me simply disappeared. They became nothing more than char burned into the cobbles of my bedroom floor. The next, though, I made sure she saw, their flayed corpses piled at the palace gates. Cruelty was my reflex, now, and each test made it stronger still.

“You cannot beat me,” she hissed, over a banquet table while our father entertained. “I deserve this. I will earn this.”

She cut her steak with a furious scrape of knife and fork. The noise grated at my soul. When was the last time she had shown kindness? It had been carved out of her, if it had ever been there at all.

Father wanted to make one of us a queen. He wanted someone compassionate. Maybe compassion was still in me; maybe not.

But it would never be in her.

As she swallowed, the lump of meat grew thorns. I could almost feel it myself as I directed it, as it swelled inside her throat, tore its way through her flesh. She gagged and choked, and I imagined she gagged and choked on all the hatred she’d let fester for years and years.

I wanted the coldness, the loneliness I felt to be visible to everyone. I wanted those thorns.

Frost sprouted from my fingertips and webbed across the banquet table. She scrabbled for a goblet of wine to try to wash the meat down, but everything turned cold. A guard stepped forward—but she deserved no kindness, no comfort. I never felt her embrace, so why should she feel the same? He withered, cold and empty, before he could reach her.

“What is the meaning of this?” my father cried. “Stop this at once!”

But the cold was radiant, alive now, warming me even as it drew warmth away from everything. The dark thorns in my sister’s throat flourished, drinking up the cold, and twined their way across the table to wrap around everyone’s limbs. My breath hung in the air before me as I stood, untouched, unsnared by the darkness and frost.

I had to beat her. I could not let her win.

And if I could feel no warmth, no freedom without her darkness over me, then neither could anyone.

I do not remember what came next, but it did not come for a long time. Icicles hung from the chandeliers; black thorns sprouted from the walls. All was still and glistening and cold. I walked through the hall like a phantom, soundless, for it was how I felt. But I was all that remained of my sister’s hatred. I was her greed given form.

And I will rule for a thousand years. With this cruelty beating inside me, my sister’s words, her greed, her anger—with the coldness she left inside me—I will rule for a thousand more.

The Tiniest Grayson

GUESS WHO IS APPARENTLY ON A MASSIVE BABY & GRANDPA BRUCE KICK.

IT’S ME. I blame @fuyunoakegata for this one :)

Gen, 800ish words, Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne, a Baby:

Bruce Wayne had been in Dick’s apartment for all of five minutes and already felt terribly out of his depth. He was not a stranger to psychological phenomenon and had conditioned himself to resist a lot of automatic reactions, or suppress them.

But standing in the living room watching Dick hold a baby– an impossibly tiny baby– he was overwhelmed by a flood of reactions he hadn’t braced himself to fight off. Despite not considering himself a sentimental person, he did actually have a moment where he remembered the first night he’d brought Dick home.

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Cassian’s breath blew out in a white cloud in front of him. He’d been walking around for hours, hours. He knew it was freezing, knew winter was on it’s way, yet he didn’t feel anything. Not the cold, not the hoarfrost on his jacket—nothing. The early morning sky was still black and filled with stars in every direction. Beautiful and untouchable. Like her—no, not like her.

He hated himself.

What had he done? What had he done?

He’d told himself he’d only go to the meeting to see how she was doing. They’d all had dinner as a group, and maybe it had been the alcohol, or the scent of her sadness so palpable in the air around her—but he’d walked her home.

And with the alcohol thinning the walls between them, thinning the walls she kept between her and the world, he’d thought she’d never looked more beautiful.

Heartbreakingly so, with her sadness and her anger.

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I just spent this afternoon and early morning writing the most self-indulgent 2495 words I’ve ever written because I was stressed as hell. 

It’s also on Ao3, but heck to tumblr and their links not showing in tags apparently. Here it is, under the cut. 

A Year Later: Hugo

(A @dreamdaddygame ficlet)

Dadsona/Hugo (Obvs)

Teen, Fluff (mild cursing and slight innuendo)“And this one’s called a camel clutch.”

The entirety of Hugo’s weight is on my lumbar, and his hands are threaded under my chin, pulling my head back.

It’s awful.

When we were still on leg locks, it was sexy. Now it’s just a literal pain in my ass…and neck…and back. But it makes him happy, and I’m only a little sorer than usual the next day.

“How’s that feel? Do you like that stretch, honey?”

Oh my god, he’s getting a sick kick out of this, isn’t he?

“Ew. Really?”

When I look up, Ernest is standing in the doorway of the office looking down at us with a very particular shade of contempt. Hugo drops my chin and immediately moves off of me.

“It’s not what it looks like. We were just wrest-”

“Wrestling. I know. Gross.”

Ernest starts walking off.

“Wait!” Hugo calls out, and Ernest leans back lazily to appear in the doorframe again. “How was your weekend with Mike?”

“Fine. We went to the water park, and he bought me some games.”

“That’s great. So you had fun?”

“Yeah sure.” Ernest shrugs and stomps off down the hall. We can hear the door to his room slam.

Hugo hops onto his feet, then pulls me up, being sure to give me a quick peck on the lips along the way. I could definitely stand for something a little heavier, but we both know we need to get dinner started.

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They knew it was a gimmick, but, like most struggling groups at the time, they were desperate. A last-minute gig at the Apollo filling in for a food-poisoned O'jay’s and the Supa-Fly’s had caught the fever: they had had a taste of the big time. Their dance moves were good but not great, and Pete’s bass playing had been slowing them down ever since he lost those four fingers after slamming them in his Caddy door. They needed an edge. When Terrence accidentally left a pair of his shoes on stage before a performance, Gandy quipped they had their new lead dancer. And so, “Invisible Larry and the Supa-Fly’s” were born. The band prospered in the northern circuit and even birthed a mild dance craze in North Phillie (“Do The Invisible Larry”). However, during a coveted performance on “Soul Train”, Terrence’s attempt to animate the shoes using tethered gerbils went awry (Don Cornelius was deathly afraid of rodents), and the band broke up shortly thereafter.

Cassian held the diary like a prayer. The script within, the words, a window into the soul of the only mother he’d ever known. He wept.

He’d asked Rhys why he’d given him his mother’s diary. Rhys had only said it was a loan, and that Feyre had marked a page she’d thought he should read.

And so he had.

And so now he sat in all of his sadness and darkness, tears of rage and loathing silently streaming down his face.

“Cassian is my second son, a true brother to Rhys. He is bright and brave and pure of heart. There is no doubt in my mind that he would not lay down his life for those he loves.

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Cocooned

CEC but only for minor details. I blame @cerusee for inadvertently inspiring this with a comment.

Gen/Fam
Jason Todd & Bruce Wayne
Rated T for Jason’s mouth

Bruce’s head hit his pillow and three seconds later he was almost completely asleep.

One second after that, the door to his bedroom was flung open and the dim light from the hallway flooded the room, seeming overbright when he snapped awake. He relaxed, just incrementally, when Jason stomped into the room and flung all six feet and two hundred-forty pounds of himself across the foot of the bed.

“I fucking hate everything,” Jason snapped, tugging a corner of the blanket over his head.

“Jay, it’s….” Bruce said wearily, sitting halfway up and glancing at the faint clock readout. “…four in the morning. What are you doing.”

“I hate you, too,” Jason said, though his heart didn’t seem to be in it. “Everything and everyone.”

Bruce was too tired and too seasoned, by now, to dramatics to let the words bite too deeply without more of an explanation. Even still, they stung a bit.

“Even Alfred?” he asked, aiming for distraction.

There was a long pause and from beneath the corner of the blanket, a muffled, “…no.”

“Well, go climb in his bed, then,” Bruce grumbled. “Let me sleep or tell me what’s wrong.”

“I don’t hate you,” Jason muttered a few seconds later. “I dozed off and spilled coffee on the book I was reading.”

“This seems like an excessive reaction,” Bruce said, falling back against the pillows. The thick blanket on top of him was edging away in jerks and he grabbed for it once but it was yanked out of his hand. He lifted his head enough to see Jason rolling himself in flopping turns, cocooning himself in the comforter.

When Jason stopped, he was thoroughly encased in the blanket and Bruce was left with the thin flat sheet. He sighed.

“It was Red Harvest,” Jason said. “The only one left from that set you got when–”

“I remember,” Bruce said, feeling suddenly helpless. “I’m sorry. We can find another set.”

“It’s not the same,” Jason said. “But whatever. I’m fucking overreacting, it’s not anything.”

Bruce sat up and yawned and reached down to tousle Jason’s hair, just barely visible through the slight air tunnel he’d left in the blanket.

“It’s something,” Bruce said, leaving his hand on Jason’s hair. “I’d be upset, too.”

“I’m sorry I threw The Maltese Falcon into the fireplace,” Jason said, turning his head so Bruce’s fingers brush the top of his ear. He doesn’t pull away. “It was stupid.”

“It was,” Bruce said, remembering tiny and defiant Jason’s face flickering over to panic the moment he realized what he’d done. He could still picture it with crystal clarity. “But I was more worried about your hands after you tried to pull it back out.”

“You kept trying to force painkillers into me,” Jason answered, a little wryly.

“I kept walking in on you crying,” Bruce protested, rubbing his eyes with his free hand. “Alfred had to tell me it was about the book. I thought you were in pain.”

“I was,” Jason mumbled. “But your repressed soul didn’t have the capacity to understand shit.”

Bruce chuckled and tugged on Jason’s ear.

“I’m working on it,” Bruce said.

“It’s only taken you a fricking decade or more,” Jason said. He exhaled noisily. “I’m so pissed at myself. I loved that book.”

Bruce caught himself right before offering to replace the set, again.

“I’m sorry,” he said instead.

“I’m gonna get up,” Jason said. “I’ll let you sleep.”

“You can stay,” Bruce said, glancing at the clock and dreading waking up in two hours. He was reluctant still to make Jason feel unwelcome. “But I’d like that comforter back.”

“Nuh-uh,” Jason mumbled. “Get your own.”

“It is my–” Bruce cut himself off.

Within the blanket, Jason gently snored. Bruce slowly pulled his hand away from Jason’s hair.

Bruce debated getting out of bed and rummaging in the linen closet for another blanket but he decided it was too much work, and pulled the sheet up around his shoulders and went back to sleep.

switch.

she’s self-destruction crafted from forty-year-old merlot; leaving burgundy lipstick stains on your pillowcase with a hint of poison in the air. her eyes feel like knives as they carve through his chest and straight to the heart. his blood pumping and all thoughts a blur, she’s a loaded gun directly between the eyes as wind blows through her hair, waving it around in all directions. a chaotic laugh so venomous the clouds dissipate in fear.

switch.

she’s warmth and beauty in a baby pink sweater with freckles on her cheeks. rose petals float to the floor wherever she walks, gracing the world with her presence. her smile, contagious and inviting; a beaming white ray of hope through every thunderstorm they face. friendly hugs without malice or demands - a true saint in a time of shallow, money-driven criminals. sometimes she thinks fairies visit her in the dead of night, sprinkling glitter on her pillows and shielding her from evil thoughts. angelically twirling in a field of tall grass and daisies. she’s giggling with every bird in the sky, singing one love song at a time.

switch.

she’s boring chocolate hair and baggy t-shirts running from the responsibilities of her mother’s creation. getting high off the smell of her best friend’s sheets at four in the morning, body sticky with sweat and sloppy kisses at the nape of her neck. she’s naked with arms wrapped around her waist, too thin for the rest of the world, too thick for her own condemnatory black eyes. she hears whispering trees as she walks, begging her to come back to earth. her face is red and blotchy, ugly crying in front of a jury. defending herself through pity and subconscious self-loathing. the sun, she feels its burning rays on her bare shoulders. her wrists, suddenly freed of all shackles. she jumps off the bridge.

switch.

she’s got odd scratches and dots of ink on her arms; she never remembers how she got them. her mother gifted her ralph lauren perfume that smells like flowers and morning dew for her fifteenth birthday, an apology of her lengthy absence. she wears it every day, a sad smile on her face. with a rising moon, she’s climbing trees to highlight quotes from her personal copy of macbeth in peace; only the sound of squirrels climbing across the branches can soothe her-

stop.

“i am taking what is mine.” she stares at the man beneath her, in between her thighs. he’s old, fragile, dying. not bothering to look him in the eye, she pulls the trigger. an open wound trickling crimson. she steals his wallet.

“i am wishing for peace in a dream.” she’s strumming a guitar while rabbits weave her a crown of moss and lavender buds. her song ends, and she skips back home with a basket of freshly picked lemongrass and a bouquet of wildflowers.

“i am hoping i’ll wake up from this nightmare.” she wakes up in blinding white. thin, scratchy covers caressing her body. needles in her arm. she tries to tear the cords from her body. they scream, and six figures in nurse toned blue rush in to stop her.

“i am only as much as i become.” she’s standing at the podium speech in hand. her eyes lock with a woman near the back. she can feel the tears coming. with her shoulders back, chest out, chin up, she proudly smiles at the crowd of her peers. she walks off the stage, never addressing the older woman she so desperately desires approval from.

end.

Your Already Dead

Cells in your body die and new ones are created all the time. So about every 7 years pretty much all the cells in your body are new. Which means you are not who you used to be. Your a brand new person. You’ve completely changed and you will again. So basically even if your just old enough to be able to read this, your already dead…. someone else took over, and it’ll happen again….