Friday, April 29, 2011

In Which I Am Sucked Into A Vortex

Hope you like the title. Unfortunately, the story's not quite finished. I started it (gulp) tonight, yeah. BUT, I like where it's headed! It'll be finished probably in a matter of 12 hours or so, provided my alarm wakes me up on time. So I'm putting in a portion of it until I'm done with it. Heh... it's not proofread yet. Have fun with raw snippet #1...

Also, 8 million thanks to Jenn for covering my lazy butt while I'm tackling the AP monster.

Here's le preview:

(oh, yeah. language warning, a little.)

“Alex, what do you think happens after we die?”

“Yo. Not the time, Ten,” I grunted, my biceps aching as I yanked the ship to the left. “Just focus.”

“Fine.” My little brother Tennyson pouted. His dark skin was lit blue by the luminous, meteor-sized chunks of ice flying past us. They looked alive with light, beacons in the blackness of deep space, reflecting the planets and stars around us. In the ranks, we called them icerocks, but no one really knew what they were for sure. Just that they were a pain in the ass when you were trying to get from Alister Cluster to Gamma Solar. “Hard to starboard,” my brother muttered.

I gritted my teeth and threw us to the right. We flipped over a few times, our pod coming uncomfortably close to the top of one of the icerocks. “Are we almost out?” I managed, squinting ahead.

An icerock larger than the pod loomed out of the darkness. I took us into a nosedive, my palms sweating almost too bad to keep a hold on the spanner.

My fingers slipped right off the rubber grips on the right, and we spiraled, lurching. My stomach curled up, and I kicked down on the gears, grasped around for the spanner again, to stabilize us. Goddamn goddamn goddamnit

As we righted, Ten stopped hugging the radarscope and peered through it like he was supposed to. “Hey, damn,” he said. “Whatever the hell you just did, looks like it got us out of the field.”

“Thank God.” My senses finally normalizing, I kicked the gear into neutral and wiped my bald head. Its crown was slick all over with sweat.

I started to unlock myself from the apparatus. Flying a pod was a dynamic activity. Because pods were shaped like bullets, turning them required hydraulic action. And that was the pilot’s job. The faster I pulled one of these spring-loaded weights toward myself, the faster we got out the way of lethal flying shit. Thing was, the weights were damn heavy. My weedy little brother had it easy, looking through the radarscope all day while I grunted and sweated myself to pieces in this metal frame.

It would’ve been easier if they’d invented some sort of pulling apparatus to do the job for us, but the inside of the pod wasn’t nearly big enough for that not to be dangerous. The interior was twice my armspan at the most.

As Ten worked on my leg straps, I happened to glance up through the windshield, the foot-thick-glass half of the bullet.

A gleam of light heading for us. “SHIT—” I grabbed Ten’s arm on instinct.

I managed one breath before the baseball-sized icerock smashed through the glass with a noise like the whole world was splintering. Even as the world roared into a vacuum, two halves of a metal sheath snapped shut over the broken windshield.

Well, there went the Space Force’s perfect crash-free record.

The emergency oxygen light glowed red. I heard a hiss of gas and let out my breath. Safe.

Maybe not safe, per se. Without the windshield, we only had the radar to see where we were flying. Technically fine for navigation, but frustrating and scary. Increased risk factor.

“You okay, Ten?”


I glanced around. The windshield had put up a nice fight. The icerock sat innocently on the floor amidst thick chunks of glass, still looking like it was reflecting the light of—

Okay, that was weird. Was it glowing?

I peered more closely at it. “Uh. Ten, am I imagining this?”

“Whoa.” Tennyson scrambled to get the icerock. As he picked it up, his eyes widened. “Holy shit, Alex!”

“Give it here.”

He tossed it to me, and I was so surprised to feel it I almost dropped it. It definitely wasn’t ice—the name ‘icerock’ was way more appropriate than I’d realized. It felt like a huge polished crystal, and buried right in the heart of it, a tiny light glowed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Week 16 Wrap-up

Yep, I'm doing this instead, because our Winter is ridiculously busy with exams right now!

Prompt #16 was:

Women are like a different species or something.

And here's what I read!

  • Brooke wrote about a company who only hires women - or if required, turns the men they've hired INTO women by locking them in the "womaniser" room (as I call it)
  • Michelle wrote about small town married life when you in fact have no life and your husband is suddenly renowned as a secret government agent, just because he was test driving a new car. This was our Saturday pick!
  • I wrote about a garish angel who unwittingly wastes the Chosen One
  • Madeline wrote about a serial killing cannibal whose next victim turned out to either be a fellow murderer, or got framed for his crimes... Or maybe something else entirely! This was our Sunday pick!
  • Michael took Princess Caitlyn into the abyss known as minion purgatory, and faced her up against a Sith warrior :D
  • And finally, Jes wrote about Henriette, a rather "larger than life" character who I THINK is a wood nymph...of the imposing kind! I think Greenpeace would LOVE to have this girl on their side!

As for what my fellow Chrysalis founder folks wrote, I have yet to see! For the last few weeks... lol.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Wow, 17 already?! It's pretty weird to think we've been writing stories for 16 weeks now, and are into our 17th!

Anyway, this week's prompt is as follows. Write a short story of 1,000-10,000 words, based on the following:

This might not be the best time for getting philosophical

And indeed, it might not!

See you Thursday!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Winter's Story Pick, Week 16

Madeline's story this week made me sit up at the first line and open my mouth. I was TAKEN. By disgust, partially, but by originality, mostly! And I'm still wondering about that ending... enjoy!

Perfect Has a Death Sentence

I pulled the fork out of my mouth. Sitting back, I chewed.

Yeah, that was woman. Definitely woman. It didn’t crunch the same way as male did, it was much more delicate. Besides its tenderness, it just didn’t taste the same as man did.

My obsession burned as I stuffed another piece of meat into my mouth. There was barely a taste anymore, the flavor washed away with age, leaving me with a lacking piece of meat. Times were hard and I was living off whatever was in my pantry. The freshest meat was probably a week or two old, while everything else was about three months and older.

Of course I didn’t eat the hearts. No, I would never do that.

A while ago she left me empty. The drugs didn’t seem to help, either. I couldn’t shake the feelings I didn’t want to feel, and I couldn’t drown them out.

Sooner or later I came to my senses. I realized that there was no point in drowning the feeling out when I could feel once again. Why not fill myself with other’s hearts? Sure, it would be artificial feeling, but it would be feeling.

After a lot of secret prowling around and asking, I learned it takes about twenty three hearts that don’t belong to him to fill a guy up.

Ever since then, my cupboards had been growing with person meat and people hearts. It saved quite a lot of money eating the people you killed. I hadn’t stepped foot out into a grocery store for ages.

Quite frankly, I hadn’t gone anywhere in ages. I preferred to stay in my apartment, watching everyone that passed.

You see, there was a little catch. One of the twenty three hearts had to be perfect. The more perfect the heart, the better.

Being the procrastinator I took pride in being, I had left the perfect heart to be number twenty three.

Pushing my chair back, I listened to the metal legs scrape across the tile floor, cringing at the sound. I walked over to the window and sat down. Rush hour had just begun and people swam like fish below.

I smiled, content with the moment. Who would I see today? There was one girl in particular who I saw walk on the street below often. From above she always seemed to be glowing with perfection.

They told me perfection was something that could not be mistaken. Once you find someone with a heart you deem perfect, all other hearts’ perfection is negated.

On cue, a petite girl with long brown hair walked by, a messenger bag slung over her shoulder and a stack of books cradled in her arms.

I sprung up from my chair and flew out of the door.

I jabbed at the buttons on the elevator a few times, but the door did not open.

Growing impatient, I bolted down the stairs. I nearly tripped a few times, and I cursed at my bad knee as I stumbled onto flat ground.

As I weaved in and out of people, I tried my best to look unsuspicious and casual.

I’m pretty sure a man in his early forties dashing through a crowd of people in an apartment lobby isn’t exactly defined as “unsuspicious”, but hey, I was trying.

The spinning doors were rotating by themselves as there were already plenty of people inside. On the way out, I stubbed my toe on the door.

She was waiting at the end of the block, waiting for traffic to stop before she could cross the road.

The cars, buses, and taxis all came to a halt.

I stepped forward, keeping my eyes glued to the back of her head which was just a few people in front of me. It sure looked undeniably perfect.

She walked for a while on, her steps short and brisk.

Anticipation tingled in my knuckles and palms. My mouth watered as I followed her down the streets.

The crowds began to thin out and she was straight in front of me.

Cautious of who was watching, I slowed my pace down a bit, but was careful not to lose track of her head.

Finally, when she stopped walking she was in front of a small complex. She walked up the steps and knocked on the faded red door adorned with a rusty gold knocker.

Breathlessly I watched as I pretended to talk on the phone, making it look a bit more normal for stopping in the middle of a sidewalk.

A man came and opened the door, embracing her.

“Hey, Sellhare,” the man said as he nibbled her ear.

She pushed him away. “It’s Kate!” she giggled.

Good. She has a heart that’s already loving. She’s perfect.

And she’s Kate Sellhare. Sounds very perfect to me.

He laughed, too. “Let’s go inside,” he offered. She nodded and took his hand. The door closed behind them and I longed to go with her.

I was too happy to feel forlorn, though. I snapped my phone shut and walked back down to my apartment, trying not to sprint out of sheer excitement.

When I got in the door, the phone was ringing.

I ran over to pick it up. “Hello?” I answered.

“Ah, Paul. How are you doing today?”

I straightened up, even though he couldn’t see me. “I’m doing fine, Officer Jonah.”

He chuckled. “Good. . . Good. Listen, there’s been some commotion going on, and we were wondering if you would happen to know anything about it?”

“Me?” I said, trying to sound surprised and offended. “Why would I have anything to do with it? Why would I know anyone who had anything to do with it?”

“I’m not sure,” Officer Jonah said into the phone. “It was a murder, a murder of a young, young man by the name of Kurt. No one has found his body.”

“So how do you know he’s dead?” I asked wittily.

“It’s New York City we’re talking about,” the officer replied. “Tell me he’s been kidnapped with no ransom, and he’s still alive.”

I shrugged. Officer Jonah was right, Kurt was dead. More specifically, he was floating through the New York sewage system right now, if you know what I mean. Child meat was always the best, and with Kurt, I just couldn’t resist.

“I know nothing about it, officer,” I finally managed to say.

“Alrighty then,” he said. “Thank you for your time, Paul. You’ve been quiet good lately, so I’ll have to take your word for it.”

“Good bye,” I smiled as I hung up the phone. Another crime that slid right over my head.

I walked to my bedroom, still smiling. I shut the door behind me, it was getting late and I was tired.

The shrill ringing of my phone woke me up at 9:17 A.M.

Grumbling, I rolled out of bed and walked to the living room where I fumbled for the phone among a pile of keys and papers. “Hello?” I answered groggily, wiping the dried saliva off the side of my mouth.

“Paul! Good morning to you!”

“Officer!” I exclaimed, perking up a bit. “How are you?”

“Good, good. . . Look, I know I was a little suspicious last night, and I apologize.”

“S’kay. No hard feelings done.”

“I know I left the matter alone last night, and I’m sure you were thinking that I believed you.”

“I drew that conclusion, yes.”

“I didn’t trust you one bit. I just wanted to say that I was sorry for suspecting you to be the criminal.”

“Oh?” I asked, surprised.

“We found the culprit last night,” the officer informed me. “She was at her boyfriend’s house. She was charged for many things, one of them being the murder of Kurt.”

I raised an eyebrow. “I know it’s none of my business, but who, Officer Jonah?”

“Kate Sellhare. We found her last night at her boyfriend’s house, actually just a few blocks down from your apartment. There’s no need to worry, she’s in jail now and has received a death sentence.”

Perfect had received my death sentence.

"Once again, I hate to be nosy, but what led you to believe this?"

"There was billions of evidence," he mused. "I suppose this is the end of a perfect soul. I think she was going to be your twenty third heart, right? Too bad. . . You're never as smart as you think."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trisha's story pick, Week 16

Well, I'm not going to wait any longer! :P It's already Monday, and I have to post my prompt later on today!! So here is Saturday's story pick! :D It was tough choosing this time as there were some very awesome stories to choose from. But this one has a very important message, I think - house wives need to have lives, people, or else look what happens! :D

Thanks Michelle for this week's contribution!

Women Are Like A Different Species Or Something

The new family were definitely not your ordinary out-of-towners . They did not behave like people who were from a small town , they wore clothes that bore a distinct aura of upper-class living and they spoke with a faint foreign accent that wasn’t so easy to pinpoint . The only thing that satisfied their neighbours that they were quite normal after all , was the battered Ford station-wagon that Mr. Brown drove . But the question that bothered everybody , was what Mr. Brown did for a living . Nobody saw him at any of the local establishments or companies , so they knew that he did not hold a job at any of the surrounding stores .

However , Mr. Brown was up early and left the house at 7.00 a.m. each morning . This was a set pattern , irrespective of the weather and no matter what day of the week it was . Mrs. Brown herself only had a faint idea of what her husband did . When asked about his job description , she would answer that he was an office manager in a large corporation . Mrs. Brown was from that league of women who believed that a man went to work , put food on the table and it was the woman’s duty to make sure that the food was there every evening when he returned from a hard day’s work . She was a simple person , who minded her own business , most of the time , although she did mix with the other women and even joined the local reading club which met twice monthly at the local library .

Mrs. Jones , the town gossipmonger and chief organiser of charity events , befriended Mrs. Brown as she felt it was her neighbourly duty to get to know the newcomers . Everybody knew that if any person could get information about the new folk , it would be Mrs. Jones . She had a knack of accumulating information on a variety of different topics as well as on people . It didn’t matter who you were . Mrs. Smith once said to Mrs. Redmond , she was sure Mrs. Jones had a mental file on every person in the town . The news spread that Mrs. Jones had a filing system that contained information on every person in town . Every man and woman made sure not to get on the wrong side of her , lest she used that information against them . And Mrs. Jones used it to her advantage . It was definitely instrumental in her collection of information as she went about her day to day business .

Mrs. Smith , the councillor’s wife , was a dull woman who harboured a slight animosity towards Mrs. Jones . She was extremely careful to keep it hidden and actually appeared to be her chief right-hand-woman . In her position as councillor’s wife , she felt upstaged by the powerful woman and behind the scenes , she tried everything to beat her . But it was a wasted effort . Mrs Jones was relentless . With just the right amount of charisma , combined with the inexplicable power attributed to her by the locals , this made for an unbeatable combination .

But the dark horse in the whole equation , was Mrs. Redmond . She was the unassuming , helpful woman who was always smiling . If anybody required an extra volunteer for the occasion , Mrs. Redmond was your volunteer . When extra cakes had to be baked for the annual local fair , Mrs. Redmond was available . When the receptionist at the local dentist was put off after a delicate operation , Mrs. Redmond stepped in , once again . Mrs. Redmond also happened to be the one who was closest to Mrs. Brown .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was a Saturday morning , the same week during which the battered Ford was replaced by a new upmarket vehicle . His wife had looked at him expectantly , waiting for an explanation regarding the new vehicle that stood in the driveway . Mr. Brown hadn’t volunteered any information and she was perplexed , though she knew he would eventually fill her in on what was going on . As the morning progressed , the Brown family realised that something was amiss ; Mr. Brown was home . It was 8.30 a.m. already an hour-and-a-half past the time he normally left . It was rather odd that he was still there . His wife was unaccustomed to his presence at that time of the morning and felt a mild irritation at having her routine upset . She wondered , very briefly , why he hadn’t left already . It felt strange to have him around , especially at that hour of the morning . Something had to be wrong . And then she had another thought , what was wrong with a person being at home on a Saturday morning ? In fact lots of the local men did not work on a Saturday morning . Come to think of it , what office opened at 7.00 a.m. on a Saturday morning ? Her mind rebelled at the idea of this train of thought . It was a strange and unfamiliar mental process which gave rise to an instant migraine . She pondered on this situation , on and off , for about an hour . Once her mind wrapped around it and the idea took hold , she found it difficult to shake . And suddenly , Mrs. Brown found herself wondering about the office job in the large corporation .This sudden mental shift , coupled with her husband’s untimely presence and the persistent migraine , caused her mind to go into overdrive .

As she was busy with her chores , she passed the living room on the way to the kitchen . With his back facing her , Mr. Brown was on the telephone . He had already showered and dressed for the morning and was engrossed in a somewhat serious conversation with whoever was on the other side . She deduced that it was serious , from the hushed tones in which he spoke . She tip-toed a little closer .

" … found it in the classified section ," he answered .

She heard the tail end of the conversation and wondered what the classified information was all about .He listened for a few more minutes , made a few non-committal comments and then hung up .

At that moment , Mrs. Jones’ seemingly harmless comment about her husband’s job , seemed to take on a life of its own . The other woman had hinted at a secret government job . And suddenly , it struck her ! The classified information was linked to the new vehicle ! It had to be ! That was the only explanation ! Knowing Mrs. Jones’ vast wealth of knowledge , she knew there had to be a grain of truth somewhere in those comments . So she picked up the telephone and dialled …

The grapevine was abuzz .

“Mr. Brown has a new vehicle , seems to be top secret , classified or something to that effect …” started Mrs. Redmond . She had just come off the telephone with a concerned Mrs. Brown .

“His vehicle is classified information of some sort . You know he started a new government job …,” ended Mrs. Jones uncertainly . She had just spoken to Mrs. Redmond about the upcoming book club fundraiser and the other woman had made a casual mention of the incident .

“The new vehicle comes with the new highly classified government position ,” gushed Mrs. Smith , refusing to be outdone by Mrs. Jones , who filled her in on this latest development , whilst keeping her updated regarding the fundraiser .

And step by step , the story of Mr. Brown and his new vehicle circulated .

Late Saturday afternoon , Mr. Brown was driving to the local bakery when a van jumped a red traffic light and plowed into his vehicle . The newspaper headlines read : New employee in highly classified government position crashes vehicle .

Mr. Brown , a consultant with the Metropolitan Insurance company , who was test driving a car that he had found in the classified section of the newspaper , with a view to purchasing it , read the headlines …

From his hospital bed , Mr. Brown’s eyes widened ~ he was speechless !

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week 15 Wrap-Up

Sorry this is so late.

Last week’s prompt was from an old ballad about love and treachery. I think I chose it because I wanted to highlight one of the coolest things about The Chrysalis Experiment--the incredible variation we get every week.

The Water is Wide has been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Haley Westenra to The Indigo Girls. And each time it's covered, it becomes a completely different song.

Having done NaNoWriMo for the last four years, it seems to me there is a tendency in the forums to bash certain genres or certain subgenres. Specifically, the word cliche seems to come up a lot. As in:
  • Vampires/werewolves/fairies/angels/demons/monster-of-the-week, again? Oh that's so cliche.
  • Is it just me, or are happy endings getting a little cliche?
  • Ack! First person point of view from a female main character is so cliche!
So, I think that it is really funny that a song can be covered a million times and no one thinks that it is cliche, yet when writers follow a certain convention or write in a certain tradition . . . But that might be because some of the best covers are nothing like the original. Case in point:

(Don't listen to these before bed . . . this means you, Winter!)

With that said, I don't think that we had one story last week that was derivative of the original folk song (or even anything that had to do with the imagery in the video.)

Story to follow some time today!!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Hey there! For all those who have difficulties with gender perspective... sorry. :P

Write a short story of 1,000-10,000 words based on the following:

Women are like a different species or something.

Jennifer's Story Pick, Week 15

This week's Sunday Feature comes to us from Michael:

She was cold. She’d almost gotten used to the lingering chill over the past ten years, almost but not entirely. Every time she managed to put it out of her mind, it would rain, and water would seep down the basement wall, and the dampness and the winter cold would seep through every fiber of herself, and she would be utterly miserable. Of course, the summer could be just as bad, as ants and spiders crawled over her, happily ignorant of her trembling fear of them. It rained in summer too, and sometimes the sump pump backed up and flooded the basement, and water spilled across the floor soaked her clean through, and she was completely miserable again.

She wanted to get away. But she couldn’t move. She had tried. Oh, she had tried. Again and again she had tried, straining to lift herself just one inch forward. Nothing worked. Once, three years ago, a stray moth had wandered into the basement and fluttered about the ceiling, and she had literally tried to hurl herself towards it. The pure freedom of its flight, the tiny flicker of wings, had so called to her heart that she had broken down in despair when she still couldn’t follow it, and then the moth had flown away and she was left alone once more.

The loneliness was the worst. The first year she had bravely tried to keep herself entertained. She had sung every song she knew, then sung them all over again, then tried to add her own verses. She’d talked to herself, created imaginary friends, relived old memories…one by one her ideas ran dry. Every night as she lay awake staring at the ceiling, she had to face anew the unpleasant fact that she was all by herself. No one was coming for her. Not Kristy. And especially not Roderick.

The thought of him sent a wave of mingled emotion through her, as it always did even now. She could well remember all the good times they’d had, going places together, seeing fantastic sights. Even when they didn’t go anywhere, even when they lay on the couch cushions watching TV, it was still fun. At least she had thought it was. Roderick hadn’t thought so, it seemed. She still didn’t know the whole of what had happened, as she hadn’t been in the room. She had heard him screaming, heard shouts, and then more shouts and screams later, and a great bustle and commotion, and then…silence. Somehow in the turmoil she had gotten left.

She sniffled to herself as she lay there on the cold concrete of the basement floor, staring at the unchanging pattern of cracks that she had committed to memory long ago. If only someone would come for her…if only someone would remember….she didn’t expect a full conversation. She knew her place, her duty. She knew what was expected of her and her kind, and she had always tried her best not to upset them. But still…all she wanted was to be thought about. Just once more.

It was the same line of thinking she always went through on Fridays. Fridays were the worst. Those had once been laundry days, and on rare occasions she had gone out with Kristy to the laundromat. Laundromats were always neat, with the spinning and the warmth of freshly dried clothes, and all the many interesting people one could meet there. She sometimes pretended that Kristy had taken her to the laundromat again, and showed her around, and…oh, it didn’t matter. She knew those days weren’t coming back. The laundromat had probably closed down years ago. Maybe the world didn’t have laundromats anymore. Who knew what had been going on outside all those years that she had been stuck there in the basement with no one to talk to, no one to cuddle with, no one to do anything at all with…

Then she heard a noise from upstairs. It was a distant, yet unmistakable click of a key in a door. Someone was coming! At last, at last! Desperately she tried to move, to push herself just a little into the light that peeked in through the basement window-well, and now she heard a clatter of footsteps coming down the basement stairs, and excitement raced through her. If only she could get their attention! She could be used again! She could be reunited with someone else, maybe not Roderick, but a new person, and everything would be like it was. Maybe there were still laundromats in the world, maybe-

The basement door opened, and a brisk young man with a spiky haircut popped through. He carried a strange plastic device in one hand, and kept poking at it with an oddly-shaped pen. Muttering faintly, the man glanced around the basement, his eyes darting over the washing machine, the dryer, the sump pump, the odds and ends of old furniture. Once he saw the basement’s single occupant, who was even at that moment trying frantically to cry out, to move, to fly. For one shining second she thought she had done it, felt the breeze racing across her, felt…but it was all in vain. A few final pokes, and the man was gone, the door banging shut behind him.

Hope died quietly. She had failed, as always. She couldn’t imagine the man’s purpose; maybe he was an insurance agent or a repairman, or perhaps he was a realtor and the house was about to be sold. Still, even if that were true, she didn’t think it would make a difference. She had tried so hard….but she was nothing. Worthless. Cold, damp, and moldy, her pure white color long since faded away. As the outside light faded and darkness claimed the basement once more, the lonely sock without a mate cried itself to sleep.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Winter's Story Pick, Week 15

Brooke's story blew me away with the absolute chills it sent down my spine. Amazing job, Brooke!

He drew his fingers to his face, framing the empty display between them. The little glass doors were shut and locked, but ready anytime to open and receive their prize. It stood out proudly among his collection of pinned butterflies, stuffed birds, and model airplanes.
He nodded at it, secure in the knowledge that it was perfect. He checked to make sure everything was set up for his return, swept his jacket off the chair and breezed through the door, heading off to pick up his treasure.

He remembered seeing it for the first time, the ink highlighted by the flashing strobe lights. Green, blue, pink, red. He saw it from every angle as its carrier moved her body, dancing among the mob of clubbers. Only the upper half had been visible, the dress having to cover some part of her body.
He wanted it, he needed it. His hand even reached out to touch it, but she was too far away, him being at the bar. His eyes wouldn’t leave it; he pictured it on his wall, proudly displayed for everyone to see, not hidden away by clothing.
She spun, breaking his gaze. And he got angry. He squeezed the glass in his hand until it broke, spraying glass and beer all over the counter. He stood up quickly, shaking his hand and moving away, his feet moving him toward the door.
Suddenly, he stopped, looked back, and headed onto the dance floor, weaving among the people to get to it. Words spewing out of his mouth without his control.
And the next thing he knew, she was smiling and saying, “I would love to. Pick me up at six next Saturday.” Slipped a paper into his hand, “Here’s my number.”

“So tell me more about you,” she turned the conversation skillfully. It was a vehicle she had mastered. “What does Monty care about? What does Monty like to do?”
He smiled shyly, shifted his weight. Draw her in. Act innocent. “I’ve always been fascinated by flying. Maybe an angel like you could teach me?”
She flipped her hair when she laughed, hiding the tip of the tattooed wing on her shoulder that he’d been staring at for the past half hour. He felt slightly peeved that he had to meet her eyes. Staring off into space would definitely not make her want to come with him.
“Maybe I could,” a wicked grin split across her face.
“Could what?”
Her smile slipped a bit. Shit. “Could teach you about flying.”
He chuckled, nervous for real this time. “Oh yes, sorry. I just… got lost in your eyes.”
She was back to him, her face lighting up like it was under lit by a flashlight. Her hand slid slowly across the table, enclosing his like an iron cage. He forced himself to keep smiling. It’s for the wings. It’s for the wings.
“So ah, let’s say we go somewhere, and I’ll teach you, hmm?” her eyebrows raised.
Genuine happiness showed on his face at that. “We can go to my place. You get our coats, I’ll pull around the car.”

He tested the knife tip against his finger, pushing just hard enough for two beads of blood to well up. Tunes buzzed from his throat as he approached the body laying face down on the table. He had removed her shirt to get the full view.
His finger trailed delicately along the feather outline. “You really have wondrous wings, my dear. Too bad they couldn’t carry you away.” He laughed at his own joke.
The knife sliced through her skin like paper, drawing it away from the muscle. His white gloves caught a red tint as he worked, but he didn’t mind. They were going to be burned anyway, along with his suit.
The last strand snapped with a sickening sound that made him laugh out loud. He held it up. Not a single mistake.
He used the bathtub to clean it. There were no windows for anyone to peak through. Then, leaving it to soak as the tanning book had said, he went on to the process of removing the body.
The trash bag was convenient but suspicious. Damn movies. After stuffing her into one anyway, he fit her into a cardboard box, hard but manageable.
He then headed down the stairs with his box, calling a greeting to the little old lady in the next apartment.

She was a petite woman and it was easy for him to remove her from her confinings and hold her over the edge. The bridge was high, high, high. Perfect for her takeoff.
He took a deep breath, waited for the next breeze, and threw her, leaned over to watch. As she fell, her arms splayed out like a bird in flight but he knew it would do her no good. How could she fly? He had her wings.
Her impact sent drops of water onto his face. It felt cool and refreshing, free. He let himself enjoy the high for a moment.
Afterward, he promptly threw any evidence into the box, set it ablaze, and threw that into the river too.

“You’re amazing, you know that?” the voice drifted to him in the kitchen. “Not only do you have all these bugs and animals that you’ve preserved yourself, you also have all these airplanes that you builtyourself. These paintings are signed by others though.”
“Alas, I did not get the artistic ability,” he replied to her, opening the silverware drawer.
“What’s this?”
“What’s what?” he replied turning the corner into the living room.
“This thing in the glass case,” she said, turning to look at him, gesturing. Her hair shifted over her back, bare by shirt design, revealing more of the huge tattoo that completely encompassed her back.
He strode closer, staying a little behind. “It’s a skin made by Indians,” he pointed to the soft curves.
She looked at it again, “It looks almost human.”
He pulled the knife from behind his back.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Here goes! (sorry, it's kind of long)


The sky is grey the morning we bury Anna.

A shallow grave, because we don't have the time for anything deeper. It's been a long while since anybody had a proper funeral 'round here. Anna was our leader, but that doesn't mean anything. She gets no special treatment.

She didn't expect it, either.

"We lay our friend to rest," Gaje intones, "wishing her well and thanking her. Not only for the time she gave us while she lived, but for the protection she will impart to us now in death. Artemis rest your soul, sweet Anna. May you hunt with us forever."

Gaje is the most melodramatic of all of us—we've come to expect it of him. But secretly I like to hear him administer the last rites; our version of them, anyway. Every time somebody dies, it's another soldier down; another step closer to The End. We've got to mark those moments. We've got to take stock, at least now and then.

Because The End is coming.

It's just a matter of when.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Week 14 wrap-up

First off, this is the song the quote was based on:

Lacuna Coil are indeed one of my favourites lately. ;) Especially their earlier works, like this one!

Anyway, the prompt for this week was:

"Come to me to feel my protection... Countdown to my revelation."

And we had some lovely contributions from our participants:

  • Madeline wrote about a destroyed world and left us all hanging! Will there be more?! I hope so!
  • Winter's contribution, our Friday feature, was another that left us hanging - what happened to Amanda?
  • Michael intro'd us to Tabitha, who is one hell of a gutsy angel! Go Tabs! This was our Saturday story pick
  • Brooke provided our Sunday story pick, which was narrated by a building trying to protect its terrified occupants
  • Jes wrote about how war makes a hero pretty darn noir, and featured a character with a cool French accent :)
  • Michelle's protagonist was asking himself, "What's normal anyway?!" by the end of his very weird encounter. And I want to know more about what'll happen to him!
  • And I wrote about a girl who finds sanctuary amidst mountains of corpses.
And that's all I read.

So thanks everyone for these great reads!

Monday, April 11, 2011


In honor of our participants doing NaPoWriMo, this week's prompt comes from a very sad old Irish ballad.  Some of you may recognize it.  If not, I've embedded a clip after the cut.

Write a 1000-10,000 word prose (or 333-3,333 word verse) story inspired by:

And neither have I wings to fly.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Trisha's story pick, Week 14

This time I've chosen to feature Brooke's story, because I love the perspective she used - it's pretty original! It was also one of a couple of stories I read this time around involving war - I'm not a fan of war, in fact I hate its guts, and this story just reminded me why! I wanted to hug the building and tell it it would all be okay. ;)

They are flocking to me, coming in waves, hundreds of them, like an endless river. It has been so long since I’ve had visitors. I watch each of them as they enter, and I smile, even though all they see is a sagging ceiling. “Welcome,” I want to shout. “You are safe.”
A boom thunders through my corridors as heavy oak shuts behind the last straggler. It echoes over and over, the only sound besides breathing and hurried footsteps as they head to my underground chambers. Door after door shuts behind them, closing them away.
Long seconds tick by, stretching into minutes. Nothing. No laughter, not a hint of a human voice. Solitude presses down despite the human warmth I can feel in my belly. A sigh rushes through the halls scattering plaster dust into the air.
Roaring motors shatter the peace. My focus shifts upwards, my hope rising with it; more are coming. The noise and the plane fade away, the cargo not meant for me.
A pitiful sob rises through the floors, mirroring my own feelings. The solid concrete foundation shakes under me with the terror of my occupants. I turn my gaze inwards, wondering at the sudden displays of emotion.
Every face is pinched tight with fear, children’s eyes wide and tears dripping off the occasional cheek. Years have gone by, centuries, since I’ve seen such expressions and understanding drops down over me. The rumors are true. War is coming. I straighten my spine, large cracks coming from these old bones, with the knowledge that I am their protector.
Tension hangs in the musty air. We wait, them straining to hear anything, and me keeping watch.
A soft sound reaches my ears and I scan the horizon with my many eyes. There it is, coming from the east. The same as earlier.
I crouch down, stretching my body over the cellars. It’s deafening now, the vibrations causing a few loose stones to fall, seemingly silent as they hit the ground. It’s no great loss; I have plenty more.
The plane is so small compared to my girth. It reminds me of a buzzing bee as it circles my head, but innocent appearances don’t fool me. I’ve felt its sting before. Feet planted firmly, I prepare myself.
The machine shots up, flying high, the contents of its guts raining down like little drops of death. The bombs bite into my back, breaking the surface so easily, as if there was nothing there in the first place.
Pain drills through everything, pain that I haven’t felt since my bricks were new and bright and my floors polished, pain that I had forgotten how to feel. A scream wells up, building and building, but I have no way to let it out.
The plane zooms off again, leaving everything quiet once more. My sores burn, the east wing ablaze, wooden innards disappearing into the smoke, but I have no way to put it out. The people inside serve as distractions.
Many of them are praying, and many more of them are crying, hugging family members close. “Be strong,” they whisper to each other. “Be strong.”
Be strong. I tell it to myself. Be strong. The words come back at me from so many places. Be strong.
The cracks in the walls close tight, edges brought together. The ceilings pull themselves into straight lines. Be strong. The floor seems to weave itself back together, its carpet clothing growing thicker and soft. The warped stairs flex like rippling muscles. Be strong.
This time the jagged humming comes from two directions. I grind my teeth, and fortify myself. I can feel the fiery infection spreading through the floors, but I am not afraid. Be strong.
The two companions meet right overhead, greeting each other like dance partners. They twist and turn in a complicated formation; they’re teasing me, knowing I am too grounded to stop them, showing off their freedom.
The first swoops low, its load of poison falling. It is just barely out of the way when the second follows suit. Through the pain, I watch them hover, delaying their cowardly retreat to gloat. Be strong.
A deep breath through my multiple chimneys, drawing enough air to me. Carefully considered aim, and then release.
The column of fire lashes up like a whip, hitting both of the enemy planes. They collide, blind in the smoke, their wings and engines hopping with flames. I imagine the overbearing heat as they fall out of the sky like shot geese. And I smile, not caring that their landing platform is my roof.
Impact is almost painless, my nerves burnt away. The metal splinters cut right to the bone, everything shattering into a million pieces. I can hear myself crumbling, my shingles down on the lawn. The only colors in the world are red and black, mixing everywhere with the smell of smoke. People, mere shadows, are leaping across the grass away from me, away from the ruins.
With one last puff of air as the stairwell caves in, I whisper to them, “Be strong.”

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Jennifer's Story Pick, Week 14

This week Michael introduces us to Death Angel.

Tabitha flicked a particle of dust off her white-robed shoulder, and checked to make sure her glow was not askew. Some of her comrades, she wouldn’t name names but *cough CONSTANCE cough*, never checked their glows; this could lead to an embarrassing situation in which it was not their head or their wings but their armpits that were softly illuminated as they began their message. Tabitha had never had that problem, thank heaven. Of course, she didn’t have to worry as much about her glow now that she was on Search and Rescue, but still, this was about standards. If one didn’t have standards, then where would one be? In the Bad Place, that’s where. Tabitha was ever so grateful that she hadn’t yet been assigned to Combat Ops; she’d heard all the horror stories about the battles with them, the trips to the Bad Place (she could never bring herself to use its proper name). She hadn’t even had a tour yet with what her friends laughingly called “shoulder-sitting”; the thought of even being close to one of them, even just talking with them or around them, sent chills right to her wingtips.

Happily, Search and Rescue rarely had to worry about them. Today didn’t look like it would be any different. Tabitha scanned the street, and there she was, right on time. A tiny girl, barely out of her twos was toddling blissfully across the sidewalk. Tabitha glanced down the road, and there it was, right on time too; a garishly red convertible jammed with teenagers, all rocking out to some song about “Friday”. Tabitha followed the line of the car to the child; just as she’d been told, a collision would be almost impossible to avoid. Ben had warned her that they had laid plans for this event; their shoulder-sitters would be eager to take full advantage of the teens’ horror and despair over the accidental death. Tabitha took a breath, checked her glow once more, adjusted her wings, and darted forward. With a shining hand she nudged the toddler back on to the sidewalk, just in time to protect her from the convertible screaming by. The sounds of “partyin’ partyin’ YEAH! faded in the distance.

The teenagers hadn’t noticed her, of course. The child, however, felt Tabitha’s protection and looked up; her brown eyes stared querously at the golden figure floating above her, and she mumbled something unintelligible. Tabitha smiled politely, and then flew away; she had other assignments, and it wouldn’t do to keep them waiting. Search and Rescue had a very tight schedule.

She rose above the gleaming glass towers of the city, the sun shining all about her. Then, suddenly, someone flew up in front of her, blocking the sun. Tabitha gasped in shock. It was one of them. She could smell the foul stench, see the warped expressions, the horrible curving horns. She backed up slowly in midair, her heart hammering in her chest, her wings fluttering nervously. She wasn’t in combat, she wasn’t even a shoulder-sitter, why would they…

Then suddenly a third figure broke in, all gold and light and power, and they fled, as they usually did. “Oh good,” she breathed in utter relief, “oh good, Bernard, you’re here. I thought-I mean, did you see…they almost…”

Her voice trailed away as she saw the look in Bernard’s eyes. It was all wrong. He should have been filled with quiet happiness that he’d once again driven back the enemy, or perhaps steady seriousness as he gave her her next mission. But this was different. He looked…not just sad. Despondent. Even, to use a very old word, grieved. Something had gone badly wrong, it was clear. “Bernard,” Tabitha asked hesitantly, “what…”

“You’ve been reassigned,” he said slowly, gently, as if trying to prepare her for a very great blow. “The DAs.”

Tabitha couldn’t help the shudder that ran through her. The DAs. She’d heard of them too. They walked among unimaginable tragedies with cool heads, always showing up just as life was leaving. Tabitha’s stomach clenched as she thought of it. A DA wouldn’t have been sent to save the toddler she’d just saved, no, they would have been there afterwards, to guide the child away, they would’ve seen the blood, heard the screams…”No…” she said tremulously, “My term on Search and Rescue doesn’t end for another year. Why would I be reassigned?”

“It’s not just you,” Bernard said, and that just made it even worse. “It’s everyone. Because of Carmen’s Comet.”

“But that’s supposed to miss the Earth, I thought-”

“It changed course. We’re still trying to work out why. Whether it was them or something else. But now it’s headed right for Earth. When it arrives, it’ll destroy nearly every living thing on this planet. So we’ve all been reassigned to the DAs, Emergency Apocalypse Protocol. I’m sorry.”

“No…” Tabitha said again. She glanced down, her keen vision zooming in until she could see  the child she had just snatched from death, saw the simple curiosity on the child’s face as she looked up into the open sky. “No, no, no!” With that, Tabitha leapt away, shooting up high into the air. She rose faster and faster, her wings tearing at the sky, her glow coming wildly askew until it only lit up the soles of her boots. She didn’t care. What did glows or standards matter now?

She rose still higher, streaking past satellites and space debris, and then she saw it; Carmen’s Comet, impossibly huge and implacably cold. Tabitha darted towards it, and then her worst fears came true as she saw them. Not just one this time, a whole mass of them, cackling and howling as they pushed the comet on towards the planet. She could just imagine the feast of sorrow and anguish they were looking forward to. Without even thinking she dove towards them. Light spilled from her and struck across their twisted faces. They lurched towards her, their foulness slamming into her like a wave breaking from a broken dam, but Tabitha didn’t even pause. She kept pushing on, throwing punches and kicking out as hard as she could, trying to stop them, trying-but she didn’t know how to fight, not really, and she was just one small angel against the hulking power of them. A curved horn tore into her shoulder, talons slashed across her wings, a powerful hand swatted her away. She pushed herself towards them again, desperate to do something, but the largest of them loomed up before her like a sullen thundercloud. “Fool,” he rumbled in a horrifically-appropriate deep voice, “fool, dost thou really imagine thou can stop us? The Earth is ours, its people are our prey. We shall dine on them in our domain tonight, and thou…thou little whelp…I think we shall dine on thee as well.” He reached for her, his massive hand piercing through her flickering glow.Tabitha closed her eyes. She would never see the golden halls again, she knew it, and-”

“Excuse me,” a voice said, “but your dinner reservation’s been canceled.” Wham. A shining fist slammed into the dark, sending him and all of them reeling. White swords flashed. Wings soared by her. Tabitha watched in amazement as Bernard and a whole battalion of angels swept in, scattering them like bowling pins. Then they gathered around Carmen’s Comet, and in a trice it had been nudged back onto its normal course. Bernard swooped over to her and made a formal bow. “Oh…” Tabitha said. “A test. Of course. I should have known.” Her torn wings slumped in failure. “I must apologize,” she began resolutely, though her voice quivered just a bit, “I didn’t stop it. I-”

Bernard smiled. “That wasn’t the point. The test wasn’t about winning; it was about losing. You faced up to them when you knew you couldn’t win. And you did it even with your glow being askew. So you don’t need to apologize, Tabitha. Oh no; you’ve just qualified for A.S.1; Angel, first class. You can decide your assignments, now.”

“Hm…” Tabitha considered, smiling now herself. “You know…I think I might want to try shoulder-sitting?”

“You are aware that’s not actually what it’s called, right?”

“Well, it should be.”

Friday, April 8, 2011

Class Act

(Note: This story is definitely not finished. I had/have big plans for it (these plans would have made the story's title actually relevant), but I didn't have time to execute them this week. What we have here is a snippet. Maybe it'll be a multi-parter, like the Caitlin stories... :P

Well, I hope you enjoy what I have, anyway. -Winter)

The only thing Amanda had to say about the room was that it was very gray. She felt like a splotch of color - her skin looked weirdly pink in comparison to the gray walls, the gray ceiling, and the even-grayer carpet.
I wonder if this is what it feels like to be a black person in a sea of white people, she thought, and then she felt bad and mildly racist. The officer who had driven her here, Officer Rogers, was black, and he was nicer than any other Alabama police officer she’d encountered. Not that she’d been in a lot of trouble with police. A couple of speeding tickets; nothing more.

But now? After the events of today?
After today, well…she was still shaking.
It’d been another normal day, walking home from the bakery where she worked.
And then a dead person had fallen on the pavement in front of her with a sickening crunch, blood exploding from the sides of his body.
Amanda had screamed and screamed and screamed and tried to get the horrible crimson goop off her bare legs, her hands, her clothes. Somewhere in there, she’d looked up at the top of the building—no wonder the blood burst out, if he fell from that height, she’d thought with a strange rationality—and seen a figure.
It was a figure with bright gold hair. I should probably make a note of what he looks like, she’d thought with that same odd cool-headedness. The figure looked male, but she couldn’t be sure. He, she, or it wore a red bomber jacket and black jeans. And he was holding a gun roughly the size of Amanda’s whole body.
She’d heard him say, “Shit,” quite audibly—well, that wasn’t very pleasant of him, she’d thought, with no rationality at all—and then he’d vanished from the side of the building.
Seconds later, a helicopter had buzzed away. She had only seen its black underbelly.
That had been the entire experience. Decidedly the least pleasant one of her life. And now they were going to intensify it, drag it out of her over and over until they determined she knew nothing more of use. Wonderful.
Amanda twiddled her thumbs until the door opened. Two policemen walked in—one was Officer Rogers, from before. The other was a Mediterranean-looking lady.
“Hello,” said the lady.
“Hi,” said Amanda.
Officer Rogers traded a look with the lady and sat down, scratching his mustache as if contemplating. Upper lip…what a strange place to scratch while thinking, Amanda thought.
“Ma’am,” he said, “I’m sorry to tell you that there’s more to this than we thought. Based on the victim’s history, we’ve linked the murder to a gang—are you familiar with the Mafia?”
There was a long pause.
“Ha,” Amanda said weakly. “Ha ha. Ha.”
“Ma’am, we’re not joking,” said the lady. “I’m Officer Velez. I’m with inter-departmental relations.”
“And what’s that supposed to mean?” asked Amanda, her broad Southern accent removing the intended venom from her tone.
The lady’s lips thinned. “It means I just got off the phone with the FBI.”
“Yeah. So.”
“Yes, I know the Mafia.”
Officer Rogers traded another look with Officer Velez. “You’re going to have to undergo witness relocation, Ms. Hines.”
“But I’ll lose my job.”
Velez let out a sharp laugh, tossing her wavy black hair. “Ma’am, that’s the least of your worries at the moment. We’re talking about the Mafia.”
Amanda considered for a second. She didn’t like the idea of leaving everything she had in the dust, but she wasn’t fond of the idea of death, either. “Okay,” she decided. “What do I have to do?”
“Well.” Officer Rogers shuffled some papers. “Sign this, first.”
She signed it.
He continued, “We’ve found you a home in a middle-sized city in Arkansas—”
“Arkansas?!” Amanda’s shrill voice echoed in the room. Both officers winced. “I don’t want to go to the gol-darn backcountry!”
But it was too late. He had the signed papers, and soon she was heading off to meet Kansas’s less-important younger brother. She wasn’t even allowed to take her cat, but that was okay. He was fat and lazy and she’d never liked him that much.

Amanda hated her new apartment. She hated everything about it except for the fact that the landlord was attractive. He wasn’t attractive enough to compensate for the rest of the place, though.

They’d found her a job. They’d found her a job! They’d had the audacity to choose her profession for her!

Admittedly, it was identical to her previous position. It was even at the same bakery chain. But still. Amanda was feeling resentful, and she had to take it out on some circumstance or another.

So she sat behind the counter with a scowl on her face. The worst part was not being able to talk about any of this. An ‘issue of security,’ supposedly. Amanda thought it was all pretty dumb, like some low-budget B-movie. She played along, though, because she didn’t want to be that character from that movie that does stupid stuff and gets herself in trouble.

“What’s wrong with you, then?” said her co-worker.

“Have we met?”

The girl shook her head, tucking her messy brown hair behind her ear. “Nah. I’m Lexi.”


“So. What’s going on?”

Amanda faced her first real challenge. The temptation she was feeling to tell Lexi the whole thing was ridiculous, but she couldn’t just start spouting about the Mafia. Lexi would report her as being insane or something. So Amanda just shook her head, unused to showing such restraint.

“You’re new here, right?” said Lexi. She had a high voice, which Amanda found quite annoying.

“Shiny new,” sighed Amanda. “Just moved here.”

“Wow! Where from? How’d you end up here?”

The itch to spill all intensified. “Just, you know. Financial stuff at my old apartment. I’m from Florida.”

“Ah.” Lexi nodded sagely. “That’s cool, that’s cool.”

Amanda twiddled her thumbs and felt awkward. The secret seemed to take up physical space between her and the rest of the world, a bubble of insulation, a layer that ensured she would never lead a normal life.
Amanda found herself hating the dead guy. She didn’t even know who she was and she hated him for almost falling on her.
She wondered how frequently they did this to people. They seemed to be taking her wellbeing quite seriously, even though the policeman who they’d said would take her to work this morning had never showed. Wouldn’t that just make her location more obvious, though?

Not about to pretend she knew anything about the justice system, Amanda hadn’t called the police or anything that morning.

The rest of the work day passed without consequence.

After Lexi left, Amanda locked up the store, walked outside, and saw about half an inch of red bomber jacket before everything went black.