Praise Will Get You Everywhere

When Ranpo refuses to do his work, there’s only one thing to be done. 

Rating: G
Word Count: 419

Read on AO3.


Kunikida spins in his chair to watch Ranpo where he’s lounging at his own desk, fidgeting boredly as he sulks like a petulant child. Right now, it’s only the two of them in the agency, as everyone else is out on various cases. After a moment, he asks carefully, “Ranpo-san… you’re not going to help the police on their case?”

“Nope,” he says, popping the ‘p.’

“It’ll give you something to do.”

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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.


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1k Flash Fiction #1

Admin:

This short piece was inspired by ofroadmapsandpaperbacks’s request for a fanfic of the scene directly after the Battle of New York. This is the first of three short fiction pieces I’ll be writing in the next week based off prompts I received for this post: https://asktina.tumblr.com/post/155278700587/admin-this-is-so-exciting-im-freaking-out

It was supposed to be 1,000 words, but I couldn’t help myself, so it’s a tad longer than that. Thank you so much, everyone who submitted ideas, and the next piece will be out in a few days. Enjoy!

-Gabi (Admin)

RATING: G

Newt sagged against the doorframe.

They’d apparated onto the top step after a painful good-bye to Jacob Kowalski in the subway, but Newt’s face was getting ashier by the minute. It seemed that his wounds were catching up with him. As he started to pitch forward, Tina lunged and grabbed him under the arms. He made an “oomph” sound.

“So…sorry,” Newt said, looking up at Tina’s concerned face with a pained smile. “I’m heavier than I look. Dittany…in my case…”

“Stop it,” Tina panted, struggling to hold him up. “I’ve got you.”

At this, Newt’s face relaxed and his eyes closed.

“He’s alright,” Queenie mused, in the tone she always used while listening to someone’s thoughts as she stepped through the door behind them. Her eyes were still red. “Just sleeping.”

Queenie flicked her wand and Newt’s body went limp. He floated out of Tina’s arms in a lying-down position, as if on a stretcher. His coat slipped off his shoulders and into the air, and Tina caught it. With another flick of her wand, Queenie sent him floating upstairs.

Queenie set Newt down on their couch, lifting the spell. Tina sat leaning over the magizoologist, face contorted in worry, black hair making a curtain around her face. Queenie knelt next to her sister.


“We should make Antidollor’s…the Dittany in the cupboard. I’ll get some chocolate. Tina,” Queenie said, reaching for her sister’s hand, the one that had rested on Newt’s neck, “He’s going to alright.”

“I don’t know what spells,” said Tina quietly.

“What?”

Tina’s voice was empty. “The spells Grindelwald used on Newt. I have no idea what they were.”


“Let’s not worry about that,” Queenie said. “Until later. I’ll get the potions and the chocolate. Why don’t you get his shirt off and turn him on his side?”

Tina was still as a statue as Queenie busied herself in the kitchen. Her fingers ghosted over Newt’s freckled face, before falling to his chest, where they rested on the first button of his waistcoat. With a deep breath, Tina unbuttoned the coat and gently pulled it off his shoulders.


She could feel his chest rising and falling under her fingers. She unbuttoned the white button-up slowly, heart pounding in her own chest. But as she got to the third button, she gasped in shock–Newt’s chest was covered in scars.

Big, small, wide, thin, red and rashy, old and faded–Newt had dozens of marks criss-crossing his skin. Most appeared old–presumably, thought Tina, from wrangling magical beasts–all but a set of spidery pink lines, which throbbed slightly. Tentatively, Tina brushed a finger against one of these scars. Newt spasmed violently, letting out a high-pitched whine of pain. Tina gasped and removed her hand immediately.

Queenie rushed back in, a steaming pot of Antidollor’s pain-numbing potion in her arms. Upon seeing the pink scars, her jaw dropped. “What are those?”

“I don’t know,” Tina said shakily.

Queenie knelt beside the couch. “Teen, hold his mouth open, please.”

Tina gingerly  grabbed hold of Newt’s jaw. Queenie poured a spoonful of potion in between his lips–Newt coughed and tried to bat her hand away, but swallowed. His eyes opened, and Tina let go of his jaw immediately.

“Newt,” she said. “We’re, uh. You’ve got some pretty impressive scars, there.”

Queenie smiled and slipped another spoonful between Newt’s lips.

Newt tilted his chin down, as if he’d forgotten about the scars. “Oh, yes,” he said absentmindedly. “Dittany…”

“We’ve got that,” Tina said. “You just…stay lying down, alright?”

Newt shook his head. “You don’t have to do this,” he said. “You could…you could bring me to the Hospital. You do have a Wizarding hospital, here in New York, don’t you?”

“Don’t be stupid,” Tina said, and before she could think about it, she’d grabbed Newt’s hand. “Don’t be…stupid.”

Finally, Newt cracked a smile. “Thank you,” he said. With obvious effort, he turned to face Queenie as the witch slipped another spoonful between his lips. “Thank you.”

Tina blushed. “The loner Mr. Scamander is grateful for help,” she said, a thin-lipped smile blooming on her face.

Now it was Newt’s turn to blush. “I was always…grateful.”

Queenie got up. “Tina, I’m going to need you to turn him on his side.”

Newt’s face reddened even further. “I can–”

“Absolutely not,” said Queenie shortly.

Gently, Tina helped to life Newt’s hips. He winced as he put weight on his shoulder as he turned on his right side, chest toward the back of the sofa. Tina gasped when she saw his back–it was even worse than his chest. The angle at which Grindelwald (disguised as Graves) had been firing the mysterious curses at him meant that his back got hit hardest.

“That looks awful,” Tina whispered.

“In the name of Merlin’s bloody–.” Newt grunted. Tina supposed this was an effort to keep from saying a loud, rude word.

Queenie returned quickly with the Dittany. “This’ll hurt a little, alright, honey?”

Without warning, she sprinkled droplets of clear liquid onto Newt’s back. The stuff steamed as it hit his skin, and Newt let out a scream, arching his back away from Queenie. Newt’s hand tightened around Tina’s, nearly crushing her fingers, but Tina let him.


Queenie sprinkled the drops once more, and Newt pushed his body into the cushions of the couch, holding on tightly to Tina’s hand.

“I’m so sorry, Mr. Scamander,” Queenie said, standing with tears in her eyes. “But that’s it. It’s over.”

Newt let out a shuddering breath. Even as Tina watched, the scars on his back were fading, running into his freckled skin like they’d been there forever.

“The ones on your chest aren’t so bad,” Tina said. “They’ll heal on their own.”

Newt’s face was red from the pain, but he breathed normally. Still, he didn’t let go of Tina’s hand as he turned onto his back once more.

Tina couldn’t help it. She reached out a hand and pushed his hair back from his face. Newt opened his eyes wide. Tina drew her hand back, and Newt’s fringe fell over his face once more.

“Erm,” Newt said carefully, “It’s…could you…?”

Tina stammered, “Sure,” and tried to hide a smile as she rested her hand on his forehead once more.

Queenie stepped back in as Tina brushed away Newt’s hair. As Tina brought her hand to his cheek, and Queenie saw Newt close his eyes, she felt a wave of powerful emotion.

It wasn’t a thought in his mind, rather, a feeling, directed clearly at Queenie’s sister. It was a feeling with a depth she’d had never felt while reading a person’s mind. It rushed into Queenie’s heart like melting butter, and for the first time since she’d said goodbye to Jacob at the subway, Queenie smiled.

She turned back into the kitchen to get the chocolate, leaving Newt and Tina with their feelings.

The Beautiful in Life

“We’re in the middle of a thunderstorm, and you seriously want to stop and feel the rain,” Kunikida says in mild disbelief.

Rating: G
Word Count: 831

The title is from a line of This Dance by Five for Fighting, which came on while I was trying to come up with a title, and it sort of seemed to fit.

For Akechi I tried to keep in mind “Kunikida but happier,” but I still don’t know what exactly I’m using for the basis of his character?? I’ve only watched the two episodes that’ve been subbed, and I don’t know how to watch the ones that haven’t, or I’d’ve done so, even though I more than likely wouldn’t have been able to understand about 75% of it. Anyway, here’s more kissin’ in the rain for these dorks, because??? I don’t know. It just happened. (Like this ship just happened tbh) They’re cute though.

Read on AO3.


Akechi tilts his umbrella back seemingly without realizing it as he gazes up at the dark grey bellies of the clouds overhead, his eyes lighting up as they track the momentary purple-white flash of lightning across the sky. Kunikida watches warily as the man toys briefly with his umbrella, then reaches up to draw it closed.

“We’re in the middle of a thunderstorm, and you seriously want to stop and feel the rain,” Kunikida says in mild disbelief. A light rain, he can understand, but it’s verily pouring buckets at the moment. “You’re going to catch a cold.”

Akechi shoots him an apologetic smile, but the excitement in his eyes is anything but. “I’ve always liked storms,” he says by way of explanation.

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I once shaved my head in a public restroom. I was thirteen and on a school trip to the planetarium. That morning I’d swiped the clippers my father used for his face and put them in my coat pocket. They don’t check you for metal when you come in on a school bus.

When you come in on a school bus it’s a massive wave of little footsteps against the lobby floors, echoing from one marble surface to another. Backpack key chains clanking in time to the whispers and giggles of school children.

The inside was a fishbowl full of stars and blue light. There were more of us than there were seats in the darkened dome so I slipped out the door unnoticed. The fluorescent lighting made the bathroom glow poisonous yellow.

It was a slow process, the shaving. You were meant to have short hair already, I think. After a while, I figured out that if I pulled my roots taught, the cut was closer to my scalp. After a while, the door still hadn’t opened and I was a patchy kind of bald. My brown curls littered the tiling. I beamed at my reflection in the rust-speckled mirror.

Later, when they asked me why I did it, I shrugged my shoulders. They asked me why and I thought about the men and women I saw playing drums and dancing in the airport when we dropped my sister off. I asked one of them why they didn’t have hair and he told me it was for cleanliness and simplicity. I liked that.

They asked me why I did it and their faces scrunched all up in this very worried way and they made me eat lunch with the guidance counselor for the rest of the year.

///

When my hair had grown enough to cover the lobes of my ears, I broke open a Magic 8 Ball on a dare and drank what was inside. I said I wanted to know the future.

It tasted harsh and chemical and got me drunk for the first time. I threw up blue for three days, but it was only after two that my mother found me hunched over toilet, shower running to drown out the sound.

She took me to the hospital and they told me it was too late to pump what was rest of the blue out of my stomach. They told me to rest, that I was dehydrated, before pulling my mother away. Her expression darkened, I could see through the window into the hall.

“24-hour psychiatric hold,” she said when she came back in. Her lipliner quivered as she spoke. Apparently I was a danger to myself.

///

The ends of my hair hung against my collarbones the year I read that the Mars rover sings Happy Birthday to itself every August 5th. It plays the song to the empty planet. It keeps itself company.

I told this fact to my friend Vanessa at lunch the next day. Unimpressed, she told me it didn’t matter.

It didn’t matter the way stealing boxes of condoms from the Thriftway and sneaking into college parties mattered to us then. That was around the same time I learned how to sneak out of my house, the time that climbing down the tree in my front yard became more exhilarating than climbing up it.

Vanessa introduced me to the boys we met as “the crazy chick.” Boys always wanted to fuck the crazy chick she would tell me. I wasn’t really crazy, not like my sister, but head shaving and isopropanol drinking is enough for some people, I guess.

I became accustomed to returning home with the sun, eyelashes clumped and legs sore. I became accustomed to the sight of my mother’s face in the morning light, tired in a way I can’t quite explain, waiting on the other side of the door.

“Have you been sitting there all night?” I would ask.

And she’d nod and turn and go up to bed.

///

My hair grazed my hipbones the day my mother called me.

“I’m busy,” I said.

“It’s your sister,” she said.

I took a train back home and tied my thick hair back with a ribbon that matched my black dress. The casket was open and her sharp angles poked from beneath paper skin. She looked better than the last time I’d visited.

She’d been at a facility in New Mexico then, she wouldn’t look at me so I told her that you can cry in space, but your tears don’t fall. They bubble in your eyes and cling to your face. If you keep crying without wiping them away you can drown.

She spoke then. “What?”

“It doesn’t matter,” I told her.

When we put her in the ground I held my breath and counted out all the planets and their moons in my head. My parent’s house was full of the mourning, the air thick with their sadness and misdirected anger.

When I thought I might suffocate I locked myself in the master bathroom and rummaged through the drawers until I found what I needed. The clippers began to hum and I could have been right back in that poisonous yellow room.

I felt the weight of the last ten years fall to the floor in muffled clumps, cool air brushing against the newly exposed skin.

—  “Clean and Simple” - Kate Olsson
So I met this guy the other day

who told me how once he was on this road trip, and he was passing through some little mountain town. Apparently, he gets out of his car to go get dinner at this pub, when out of nowhere this dog, he said it was a beagle or something, runs up and bites him right on the ankle, and then takes off running. An older guy was coming out of the pub and sees what happened, and is like “oh shit! The dog that bit you, did it draw blood?”

And at this point, the guy is freaking out, like, was the dog rabid or something?

The old man looks at him gravely and tells him no, it’s worse. He’s cursed. Anyone he bites is doomed to itch constantly. The guy actually starts laughing now, he says “okay, you really had me going there!”

And the old man looks him dead in the eye and says “Don’t leave town tonight. At sundown it’ll start.”

Anyway, so the guy leaves town anyway because this is clearly a crock of crap. But as he’s checking into his hotel a few hours down the road, sure enough he starts itching. And itching. And itching. No way this is a curse, he says.

But it doesn’t go away. He tries showering, he tries oatmeal baths, he eventually even shaves his entire body but nothing works. Even doctors can’t find anything wrong with him.

After months of non stop itching with no relief, he finally decides to go back to the town where he got bit.

He finds the old man at the pub, who says he wondered when he’d be back. Last time this happened the victim was back in a week.

“Last time?”

“Oh, sure, that old mongrel is a mean one alright. But you’re in luck, he’s been knocking up the fine lady dogs of this town left and right.”

The guy asks, “why does that make me lucky?”

Turns out, the old man tells him, he has to go find which litter of puppies the cursed beagle sired. So he and the old man go around seeing all the puppies in town. “Grab the runt of the litter an’ give it a cuddle” the old man instructs.

The guy is desperate by now and doesn’t even question. He spends several days hugging puppies, but to no avail.

Then one morning, reading a paper at the local diner, he turns the page with one hand while itching his neck with the other, and sees a classified ad for puppies who were found, abandoned outside the animal shelter the next town over.

He and the old man drive out to meet the pups. They’re a squirmy bumch, but clearly half beagle. The guy grabs for the nearest one, but the old man stops him. You need the runt, he says.

The man looks the littlest ball of pudge, suddenly apprehensive. “We don’t have to hurt it, do we?”

“Hurt it?! Yer gonna adopt it, sonny.” The old man cackles.

So the guy takes the tiniest puppy, picks him up, and rubs his face into the fur.

Miraculously, the itch is gone! He shouts and laughs for sheer joy! Itching relieved, suddenly he wants a scientific explanation. Why did that work?

“Simple.” Said the old man. “The best cure is the little heir of the dog that bit ya.”

[国+与] as a thank you

Rating: T
Word Count: 1,215

I listened to Broken Ones by Jacquie Lee on repeat while writing this. It’s not necessary to listen to it while reading this, but it does kinda fit, and it’s a good song. Also it’s on @punkasslevi‘s Kunikisad playlist, if you haven’t listened to it yet. (It’s good. I cried. It’s also how I discovered this song.)

I keep forgetting how young Kunikida actually is since he seems so much older much of the time. And god, he was so young back then. I mean, he’s still young now, but he was 20 then. That’s my age. He doesn’t deserve any of this.

Read on AO3.


When someone knocked on his door on the evening of the second day that he’d skipped work, Kunikida pulled the pillow he was using out from under his head and pressed it against his ear, hoping to drown out the sound so he could pretend it didn’t exist, and silently willed whomever it was away. But his unwished-for visitor was not to be deterred by the unheard protests of a broken man, and their knocking only grew more insistent. He groaned, throwing the pillow down beside him on the couch, closing his eyes as he gathered the energy to sit up and push himself up to a standing position and drag himself over to the entryway.

He pulled open the door wearily, his half-formed scowl giving way to confusion when he saw who it was. “Yosano-sensei,” he blinked. Then, with a grimace: “Sorry for not coming in to work again today.”

She shook her head gently with a soft, sympathetic smile, then raised the plastic convenience store bag in her hand. “I brought ice cream,” she said. “Matcha for you and chocolate truffle for me. And I brought the entire first season of Star Trek.”

“Star Tre—”

Please,” Yosano said, rolling her eyes as she pushed past him into his apartment, “I know you’re a total Trekkie, ya big nerd.”

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Interview: Anya

Today we’re joined by Anya. Anya is a phenomenal up and coming writer who is working on her first novel. She has written a variety of forms: short fiction, poetry, and fanfiction. Anya has also written a little non-fiction. She’s an incredibly passionate writer who has a great love for the written word, as you’ll read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am an aspiring writer. Or, more accurately, I am a writer aspiring to get published. I used to mainly write short stories, but I am now working on my first novel! I sometimes write fanfiction, and I dabble in poetry and non-fiction occasionally, but my true love is – and probably always will be - fiction. I do various different types of fiction, but I do tend to lean towards the dramatic and fantastical.

What inspires you?

Honestly? A lot of things. I don’t even know what brings it on. The strangest things inspire me. I’ll be reading the newspaper and come across an article that sparks a story within me. Or I’ll be talking to a friend and it will fan an idea I had into a full blown flame. I think what really encourages me to write is the idea of putting myself into other people’s heads. I tend to write about characters that are very different from me (though a lot of them do tend to be acespec) because I like to use writing as a way to explore people, as well as situations I might not generally get to experience.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve been a total bookworm since I was a little child, so the desire to be a writer happened very organically. I had to write a diary for school, and that diary turned into a book full of short stories, and I never stopped writing since then. I think I’ve always had that need to be a writer within me. I don’t think I’m a writer because I want to be one, I just think I never really had another choice. Throughout my life whenever I strayed from writing, there were always things that brought me right back to it.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t really know if I do. I think my writing style has developed and now reflects my voice, in a sense, but I’m not sure if I do anything unique. I know I tend to be kind of indulgent, and so sometimes there are certain tropes that appear in a lot of my works.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Writing sucks. It may seem easy, but you will spend hours hating yourself and hating your work, and thinking you’re never going to make it big. You’re going to be stuck on a word for hours, and even days sometimes. People are going to think what you do is a hobby and treat you like you don’t know anything about the real world. Knowing all of this, if you still want to be a writer, then my friend, I promise you have it within you to succeed.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m still figuring it out, in a sense. I go back and forth between demiromantic demisexual and grayromantic graysexual. Or some mix of the two… I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

All the damn time. I’ve always sort of fancied the idea of writing for TV, and I think part of it is because sex and romance are such a staple on TV. I want to prove that you can have characters that are openly proudly asexual and acespec and interesting in TV shows. I want to show that you don’t necessarily need sex for a story to be interesting. I don’t know if I will ever get into television, but I know I will write my book one day, and I currently have an asexual main character and a demisexual supporting character. I hope exposing people to characters like them will teach them about this sexuality. I don’t quite know how else to handle it. While aro-spec, I am heteroromantic and grew up in a culture where we were not exposed to the LGBT community as much. It was through TV shows that I learned I had a skewed view of the community. I want to use my books in order to do the same thing with asexuality.

That is another factor too, actually. I’m from India, and I remember once reading an advice column, and there was a boy who’d written in. He was describing how he wasn’t interested in girls so… maybe he was gay? But he also wasn’t interested in boys. He asked the person writing the advice column if there was a name for what he was. The man wrote back “The name is ‘cute’.”

That really pissed me off. I know asexual awareness isn’t going to happen anytime soon in India where the LGBT community is treated appallingly. So I think this is my way of sort of reaching out, helping people like that boy. I know he’s probably not going to pick up my book and see the ace protag and realise holy shit, I’m not broken, but I hope it will help people like him. Also, I sometimes like to believe he will too. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That we just haven’t met the right one. People keep telling me that I’m wrong about myself, or that if I keep going on dates with whichever guy I’m seeing that I will develop feelings and want to have sex with him. That I’m just making up labels.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You’re not broken. Sometimes it’ll feel like it. Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re all alone, but you’re not. There are tons of acespec people out there, and a lot of people just don’t talk about it, but we’re out there, and it’s normal, and it’s OK.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find my fanfiction here, but there isn’t much explicit ace representation in it unfortunately. A lot of my fanfiction actually has acespec characters, but since most of my longer pieces were written before I knew the terms and before I fully understood that what I was writing were demi characters, there’s some badly phrased explanations of sexual identities. My newer ones are all one-shots. Though if you want fluffy pieces where characters don’t have sex, and tend to fall in love only after knowing the other person for a while, then check it out!

Thank you, Anya, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Where’s My Car?- Thief AU

(A/N: So I came up with an AU, I really like it. It started by me mentioning how much stuff Buster stole in the movie on the Discord chat, and then it grew on from there. I wrote a short fic for it. Another one will be coming very soon.)

Gonna tag my buds who talked about this with me and gave me some ideas: @busterm00n @chick-a-dee

Word-count: 309 (//Yeah, when I say short, I mean short)

Pairing(s): Buster/Eddie (already established relationship)


“Buster, where’s my car?” Eddie asked the small thief in front of him, who was also his boyfriend. Buster was at Eddie’s house for the night, since the couple had a tradition of staying up on Friday nights, either playing video games or watching a movie together.

Oh shoot.. Buster knew he was going to ask that, but still didn’t bother planning out what to say exactly.

Eddie watched as Buster twiddled his thumbs nervously - the koala was trying to come up with a proper response.
“Erm… I borrowed it..” He spoke quietly, afraid of his boyfriend getting mad at him.
“Borrowed it?? You mean you stole it?”
Buster laughed nervously, rubbing the back of his head,“I guess you could say that..”
Eddie crossed his arms,“So where is it?” He asked his boyfriend again. Buster looked around nervously before looking back at Eddie,“Um… this is hard to say…” He trailed off.
“What, what is?” Eddie was exasperated at his boyfriend, he just wanted an answer!
Buster made a motion for his boyfriend to lean down, so he did.

Buster whispered into Eddie’s ear. The sheep leaned back up, his eyes wide. Honestly, he shouldn’t have been surprised at what Buster did, but regardless he was still shocked..
“YOU CRASHED MY CAR?!” Eddie whisper-hissed. He couldn’t yell due to the fact that his parents were asleep, and if he woke them up he would be in big trouble. The koala nodded and then shrugged innocently. Eddie took a deep breath before walking over to the umbrella stand next to the door.
“C'mon, Eddie, you’re not gonna hit me.” Buster said, watching his boyfriend grab a red umbrella from the stand. He let out a shrill yelp as he was wacked upside the head with the umbrella. The koala should’ve been more careful when he (borrowed) stole his boyfriend’s car.

I think the stars are eyes. Singular white unblinking eyes, always staring, never averting their gaze, bright and piercing. I started thinking this way when I was a kid, perhaps because I’d decided that if a god does exist, it must be a cruel being. Rather than accept such a god, I went the other way, and decided there are no ‘gods’ like the ones mentioned in prevailing religious texts. Instead, there are just the eyes—all the eyes, forever watching us.

At night, they watch over us. Now there’s an interesting phrase. Watch over us. When most people hear it, they feel secure. Like a parent, or a guardian looking over, protecting you from the world you don’t understand, from dangers you don’t know, and from beings whose intentions you cannot guess. But also from errors within you, from the mistakes you made, from the poor judgement you exhibit. That’s what people want in life—a watchful eye.

I know all about watchful eyes. They’re not there to protect you, or stop you from making mistakes. They just wait, and watch, imagining horrors unimaginable. And when the time is right, the reach out, and touch you. And then, the darkness takes over, the coldness takes over, and all is gone in a swirling vortex. The worst part is, that isn’t death. That’s still life.

As I grew up, the opinion came and went. I sometimes believed it, I sometimes didn’t. I talked about it, a few times, but mostly people who heard it laughed at me. They thought it was absurd. People always think things are absurd when they don’t agree with the established order, so that is not surprising to me. What they don’t realise is that the absurd does not have to be untrue. If you look at it in a particular way, everything that is true is absurd.

Then, the star blinked. My body seized up, and after a brief pause, my heart began pounding with thunderous intensity. The star was blinking—at me. It was watching me, and it knew all about me, for it had seen what dark deeds I commit in the dark. I shut my eyes tight and opened them again, but the star continued to blink intermittently. I wanted to reach out to it and stab it in its bulbous white ball. But it was too far, too far.

After that, my obsession grew. I quit working in the caravan, and began working at the observatory. I cleaned the place, taking out the trash, making sure things were in order, and at night, sneaked into the library to read works I would never be allowed to read. I read about the stars, their positions, their constellations, about how they moved, how they appeared and disappeared. Much of the language was beyond my understanding, but I read.

And finally, I stood on the knoll, and stared at the blinking star, standing at attention. The eye watched. I watched it back.

Short Otayuri Story

He had a twin.

There were two of them. There were two males with Otabek’s face staring at him with a nervous smile and Yuri didn’t know what to say.

He was nervous when Otabek had invited him to a party being held by a few of his friends, telling the blonde that he had something important to tell him and Yuri, honestly, had expected something much worse than seeing two Otabek’s right in front of him.

He opened his mouth and closed it, opening it and closing it again, trying to figure out what to say but nothing was coming out. “What…?”

Otabek -which one it was, he didn’t know- placed a hand on the other Otabek’s shoulder, the nervous smile still on his lips, “Yuri, meet my twin brother, Mekhl.”

Yuri blinked and looked at Otabek and then to Mekhl, trying his hardest to tell the difference but not seeing any. “You have a twin brother?” Even though the proof was staring at him, he still couldn’t believe it.

“Yeah, I wanted to tell you but didn’t know how and then Mek came to visit and I thought why not let you two meet,” Otabek said with a slight shrug of his shoulders.

“Hi, Yuri. Bek told me a lot about you.” Otabek two -Mekhl, he reminded himself- said with a smile, stretching out his hands and pulling the slender blonde in for a hug.

Yuri nodded his head but he didn’t understand why he did so, blaming his confused reactions to the shock of seeing his boyfriend’s identical twin brother and having said twin hugging him.

“Mekhl! Otabek! Yuri! Hurry up, we’re gonna start without you,” Phichit called from the living room making Mekhl rel;ease the blonde and walk into the living room leaving Otabek and Yuri alone in the entryway of the former’s apartment.

“Are you okay?” Otabek placed a hand on the blonde’s arm, his voice tinged with worry at the thought that maybe letting his boyfriend of a few months meet his twin was too much, too soon.

“Yeah…just a little surprised..” Yuri took Otabek’s hand in his and began pulling the older male into the living room, looking back at the dark haired male with a smile on his pale pink lips, “Let’s go before the others start without us.”  

The surprise of seeing two Otabek’s wore off with time as the day went on. Yuri’s attention focused on thinking of new ways to torture the newly engaged couple and no longer on Mekhl, till Victor got a little too drunk and dared him and Mekhl into a closet.

He regretted making Yuuri and Christophe kiss for ten seconds. He deeply regretted it.

“When I don’t resist it, it makes me cry for the things I know I have done, to the ones I choose to call friends, that make them so ready and eager to look for and find, opportunities to remind me, how I have hurt them in the past,” he said, to no one in particular because, the sentence was too long for anyone present to follow all that way along.

When they pick this book up to decipher it, will they know which way to read it? Will they know which the first word is? That’s alright. Whichever way they choose to read it, they will encounter the same first word. It’s ‘hope’.

My mother taught me the word. I watched her lips round as she said it. I learnt many words from her, but they way she pronounced that particular word was always a little off from how everyone else did. I don’t remember how it was they did, because now they’re not around any more. And when she was lying on the bed, close to death, close to a reality I’d never thought I’d have to accept, she clasped my hand and repeated the word.

She loved my wife. “The best daughter-in-law I could have asked for,” she said. Sometimes I wondered if she liked her better than me sometimes. “She cares for us,” my mother told me, “And if you ever doubt yourself, if you ever think you’re losing your way, look to her and think of what she would do.”

My mother was right. Every time another word crept in, my wife would know what to call that word in our own language. I’d spent all my time reading books written in other people’s tongues, but my wife knew my mother’s tongue better than I did. For all the knowledge I thought I knew, I was a pauper compared to her, I thought sometimes.

When they came with the guns, I think it was a mercy that she didn’t suffer long. She would not have suffered suffering very long. She just wasn’t that kind of woman. But she also wasn’t the kind of woman who’d tell me I was wrong for not supporting her. I was a coward. She was okay with that. “They came for my words,” she said, “Mine alone.”

I still had some of her words, and my mothers. We’d taught them to our kids, a girl and a boy. They’d talk to their mother in our language, and to me in the other language. I thought it would be good to have them learn everything there is to offer. Then, they lost their mother, and soon, her words.

My daughter developed a disease that couldn’t be cured by the world’s greatest doctors. I’d imagined her holding my hand while I would be on my deathbed. I didn’t hold her hand when the time came. I couldn’t bear to look at her. I don’t know what my wife would have said if she saw me like this. I don’t know what my mother would have said.

For my son, it was different. He put on the uniform that had killed his mother. He forgot her words, just as he forgot her death. He had no place around my hearth.

They didn’t even want to end us. They didn’t even want to end our language. They just didn’t care about anything but their own.

Now, it’s the end of the road.

There’s no one else but me who knows how the language is spoken. There’s no one who cares. There’s no one who will read this book the same way I do, or the way my mother would have, or the way my wife would have. They will spend years trying to decipher it, they will butcher the pronunciations, they will misinterpret the meanings, they will lose all the nuance.

Worst comes to worst, they won’t even care.

But somewhere there, maybe there will be a one who will manage the first word of the book.

Hope.


Yesterday’s throwback story was about hiding.

Today’s throwback story is about eyes.

There can be rhythm in lights too, you know. I adjusted the rear view mirror so I could catch a better glimpse of her, snuggled tightly with a blanket in the back of the car. She snored lightly, and the lights kept patting her head to sleep. She lit up as we entered the tunnel, and went back to her pleasant dark blue-tinted sleep once we left it. I tried humming to keep myself awake, but then stopped because I realised Clara might wake up from the sound.

I swerved off the well-lit road and let the headlights guide me into the wilderness, somewhere into the trees with scary tops and leaves swaying invisibly in a dark wind. My eyes were starting to droop, so I decided I should stop somewhere, kill the engine and catch a nap. But the more I drove in the forest, the more uncomfortable I felt stopping here. What if there was an axe murderer on the loose here? Or a bear? No, couldn’t take that chance.

The darkness proved to be all-consuming, until eventually, the headlights stopped lighting up the road in front of me. I wondered if they’d died. The car felt really light all of a sudden, and there were no more bumps. It felt like it was both running and still at the same time. “Clara?” I called out, lightly, hoping she wouldn’t wake up. But she did.

“Lakshmi,” she said quietly, her voice low and sleepy. “We’re somewhere weird,” I said, checking my GPS, which said that it had no idea where we were.

“What did you get us into this time?” she asked, sat up and held her head. “Ugh, my head hurts,” she said.

“I swear, this was the route, the GPS said so, and I’d checked it and- Are those stars?” I pointed right in front of me to a cluster of white dots in the far distance. They were all around us, over, under, to the sides.

Clara peered through the window. She rolled the window down, and we felt a light breeze, but going in the opposite direction, as if we were…

In space.

I unlocked the door, and stepped out, and immediately found myself floating. Clara followed me out. She was grinning. Why were lit up? We were in space, and there was no sun near us. And yet, our car was here, an old model from the 1980s, its engine still running.

I tried to utter something. But I just floated around the car, looking at the stars, so far away. Clara had had a cold, but she didn’t look like it any more.

“I don’t know where-” I began.

“Shush,” Clara said, and floated towards me and kissed me, holding me against the car. “I love you,” she said.

“How do we get out of here?” I asked.

“Do we have to?” she asked.

“We have some place to go, remember?” I said.

“We’re there,” Clara said.


Today’s throwback story is about making games.