I would like to apologize for my recent neglect. I know, it’s hardly a new thing for me to randomly retreat and vanish for days or weeks on end — it’s become a habit of mine, and I don’t just mean with blogging. In this case, though, the cause was an external one, and I can therefore apologize without being a total hypocrite. I will not promise the sudden and inexplicable turning over of a new leaf, lest my previous point be proven moot; but I do hope to catch up with you all.
The Inkwell: Julius
The other two Inkwell fragments can be found here and here.
Splitting pain and calling voices
Hints and hurts, motives and lies
Another day and far more choices
Until it comes, the day we die
Julius’ eye twitched as he watched his men gather the scattered pieces. Another day, another death. And another headache. They were getting worse. With the way things were going in The City, was it really any surprise? Losing Tannis was a blow; he was annoyingly optimistic, but the man at least had the sense to hold his tongue most of the time. Unlike the majority of these blubbering idiots.
“Julius!” A familiar voice, though not any of the ones he expected, came to interrupt his thoughts.
“Wells,” he spat back, turning. “Come for an even greater education on earth wyrm anatomy? My men are just cleaning up, I’m afraid — the butcher’s already come and done his work.” He noted Cynric’s companion and, if possible, tensed further. “What is she doing here?”
“We were wondering if you had any more information on Officer Tannis’ death,” Joy Wells answered.
Julius scoffed. “What more information could I possibly have, girl?”
“You always have more information than you should have,” she observed, smiling in amusement a moment before catching herself and reasserting gravity.
The man frowned at her. “The body is still at the morgue, in the process of being autopsied. Though I suspect he’ll be found to have been eaten by an earth wyrm,” he added with undisguised sarcasm.
“Nevertheless,” Cynric Wells finally chimed in, “you will send us a copy of that report?”
“Will saying yes get you and that sister of yours out of here?”
“For now,” was the answer.
“Then fine,” Julius agreed with a dismissive wave, turning back away. He listened to their fading footsteps with relief — for a moment he thought that darn girl was going to try to hug him again. Of course, she was right about one thing: Julius always knew more than he seemed to. But telling them about the other murder would’ve just been more of a headache.
The Inkwell: Cynric’s Rumination, and a Piece of the Past
I was supposed to do this last month, with this entry inspired by/including the word “revolution…” Goldie, who I’m borrowing these prompts from, already has done the entry for March… which… is almost over, isn’t it? I feel like now would be a good time to mention that I’m terrible with time. Anyway, if you care to, you can find the story that this is an extension of here.
“It starts like this, little sister:
With a silent, failing song
And we find we know the steps
And we start to sing along
And people call it revolution
As if it’s something new
But it’s as old as the world
And even older too
See, here comes the crescendo:
If we can keep in time
Then perhaps we’ll solve this mystery
And might one day solve mine.”
20 years ago:
The little girl screamed and screamed as her father’s hand, open or closed, found her brother’s head again and again. She cried and begged for the ten year-old’s sake, pleading for the staying of her father’s drunken rage. But in his red-tinted eyes, he saw only her age; not the age that he and a bitter world had made her, but the one that told him she was three years more of a child than the small monster upon which he now poured his temper.
“You’re no son of mine!” slurred the drunken man, smacking the boy again, who inched fearfully backwards. “You’re the devil’s son, you are!” Another blow, another retreat. “If your mother were alive, I’d throw you into the fire, spare her the pain of having to see the beast that you are!”
At the words ‘your mother,’ the boy froze, and fear gave way to fire. He became aware that he was standing just before the furnace, and at his father’s words, something rose up within him. “Do it, then,” the boy hissed, and for a moment he felt he might truly be some son of the devil. But he went onward, the words spilling out almost before he was aware of them. “If you were more of a man you might, but you’re not. You’re a coward and a fool. She’s dead, because you’re weak.”
The room went deadly silent as they stared at each other, the one with such a look as made the other flinch, the other with eyes that grew wider with each second that passed. “You really are a monster,” whispered the latter, horror slowly dawning into righteous anger. He went into motion, grabbing the boy by the collar, thrusting him into the furnace and shutting him in. There came up screams like a howl, and they seemed to go on and on as the father staggered backward, hand over his mouth. The little girl stared in shock, tears spent, as her brother’s screams finally died off.
The drunken man, much sobered now, turned toward his daughter. His eyes softened at her pitiful countenance, and he took a step towards her. She flinched. “It’s alright, Joy,” he said, coming closer, beckoning. “It’ll be alright, just come to me, child.” She shook her head, tears finding their way to her eyes again.
“I had a dream,” she whispered. “You tried to hurt me… But Cynric saved me.” She looked up at her father. “He was all burned up.”
“You…” The man groaned, a sound like a strangled animal; something faded from his eyes. “You too?” He grabbed a length of pipe from a nearby table, debris from a project he never began. “I see now,” he said, nodding sagely. “I should have done this before. Demon children, both of you.” He took a step forward. Then another, and another. Her fear was a glue that held her to the wall as he approached, and she sat crouched, shaking, when the first blow came. It hit her on the head and knocked her sideways, and the next she was aware she was on the ground, helpless as the second blow came down upon her side, accompanied by a cracking sound and a terrible pain.
Consciousness was beginning to take on sand-like qualities; but she looked up, and the last thing she saw was her father’s slumping body, and her brother standing behind him, clothing — what remained — in burnt tatters, a bloody knife in hand.
Frantically, she tore up the floorboards. “It has to be here!” she half-screeched, as she darted to and fro, searching different places. In the end, she collapsed, crumpling into a heap in the middle of what was left of the floor. Her bleeding fingers pulsed with pain, a reminder, and her glazed eyes wandered to one of the places where she’d torn up the wood. There should have been something underneath of it. A secret passage, a beating heart, a hidden stash with all the answers in it. Dirt, even. She would’ve taken dirt. But instead there was nothing. Just the void, that endless dark. “There should have been SOMETHING,” she whispered, eyes tearing up. “But there wasn’t,” her mind hissed back. Instead of crying, she began to laugh; a mad laugh. The darkness didn’t end at the floorboards.
“And next week,” the paper read, “there will be a murder somewhere in the East section of The City. More details pending.” Joy Wells sighed at writing such an ominous — and not to mention tremendously unhelpful — bit of news. Normally, the dark and foreboding was her brother’s province, but lately her dreams showed only crimson, and however much she grasped at her usual optimism, she came up blank.
Cynric Wells came in just then with a cup of coffee in hand, and he stopped briefly to read over her shoulder. With a vague nod, he continued on to his desk, sitting and staring into space as he sipped at his liquid caffeine.
“Hey, sis,” he said after a moment, “your dreams told you that Officer Tannis would live a long life, marriage and kids and all that, yes?”
“Yeah, why?” She answered, looking up in confusion from the typewriter she’d been staring at as she wracked her brain for a happier way of sharing unhappy news.
“He’s dead,” answered her brother matter-of-factly.
“What?” She demanded, rising in surprise and horror. “How?”
Cynric took another sip of his coffee before answering. “An earth wyrm. Came right up out of a manhole, believe it or not; swallowed him whole. Now that’ll make for interesting reading for the common folk tomorrow morning.”
“But he could still be alive! Have they–“
“Oh no, Joy dear. I assure you, he’s very dead. Julius doesn’t like it when things happen to his underlings without his say-so, and had the rest search until they found the thing and gutted it. That’s where I’ve been these past few hours. I got a front row seat of the… operation.”
Joy fell back down into her chair, holding her head. “That’s terrible,” she muttered.
“That’s one word for it,” said her brother, eying her intently.
“Just say it, Cynric,” she groaned.
“Alright. You were wrong, sis. You’ve never been wrong before, and it’s not a good look, for either of us.”
She looked up at him. “You’re blaming me for appearances, when someone — a man we’ve known since we first came here — is dead? I knew you could be heartless, brother, but I didn’t realize you could be this petty as well.”
“Pettiness has nothing to do with it. Your ability has never been wrong before. If it can be wrong once, then why not twice, thrice, three hundred times? And if that’s the case, then I’m sorry to say, sister, but your ‘gift’ is downright worthless, and could potentially even be considered fraudulent. Once is bad enough already. But if this happens again, how long until the whole City starts to lean towards the ‘fraudulent’ answer? Tell me, Joy, have you ever been skinned alive before? Because let me assure you, it’s not very fun.”
“The Inkwell is the newspaper for the entire City. We have friends all over. You really think they’d just turn on us?”
Cynric scoffed. “What do you think happened to the people the job belonged to previously?”
“I thought you said they retired to a unicorn dimension?”
“No, dear. That’s called sarcasm.”
Joy’s face dropped. “Oh.” She took a breath. “So what are we going to do, then?”
“We make darn sure it doesn’t happen again. So… what do you say to a little investigative journalism?”
Per Goldie’s challenge. To be continued… Possibly.
Anniversary the Third
Apparently, today (technically yesterday now — sorry) was my blog’s third anniversary. I had meant to begin blogging on my birthday (later in the month), a sort of coming of age present to myself; but, metaphorically speaking, the temperature of my feet began to drop, and I decided it’d be best to just jump in before I completely lost my nerve. I’m very glad I did so.
Though I haven’t exactly been on top of things lately, I appreciate this community a great deal, and everyone who’s decided to join me here, recently and in the past. I wish I could return half so much of your cleverness, kindness, and attention. But I’m afraid I must again caution that my attentions have external reasons to be diverted, and I may (assuming that’s even possible) be even more scarce than I’ve been. Sorry in advance!
The Loyal Servant
He’d been a loyal servant for years, keeping to his master’s side, staying true even when that darned woman had betrayed them. He’d saved his master’s life, time and time again. But what did he get in return? Nothing but warnings and admonitions. His master always found something to take issue with: Blood on the carpet, loose ends, that pesky little thing people call “evidence.” So what if some people disappeared? They wouldn’t be missed. More importantly, they wouldn’t be found. But his master had decided that it was HIS turn to disappear.
All because of some harmless snacking.
Inspired by Goldie’s Creative Writing prompt:
“In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about snacking.“
Apathy is a Survival Trait
I say that I am tired,
But I’m meaning something else;
I’m meaning that I’m tired
Of this life, of this house.
I’m tired of the moment
That I am living in;
I’m tired of the words
That never come when I beckon.
I’m tired of the people
Trying to tell me what I am,
When I already know,
And I’m just trying not to give a damn.
Apologies; this one’s darker than perhaps it ought be. I’ve been having issues with a member of my family lately; he doesn’t seem to realize that no one is more critical of me than me, and it feels like he’s made it his mission to remind me constantly that I’m useless, that I’m “mean,” that I don’t care enough, etc. To be fair, I’m not the only one he does this to, and I have some understanding of the reasons behind it. But I am also really, really sick of it. Because I actually care what he thinks. And nothing I ever do is good enough, so… What’s the point?
Of course, I’ve never really talked to him about it. The last time I tried expressing my frustrations to him, I called him an attention whore. That was months ago. He still brings it up. That’s a common problem with me. With most of my family, actually. It’s either 0 or 100. Nothing in between. So when someone asks me what’s wrong, I just tell them I’m tired.
It’s not entirely untrue.
“Visitor for you, Abigail.” Called in a female voice — one of a blur of now-familiar voices — as a man, far less familiar, dressed in dark jeans and a leather jacket, stepped into the room.
Abigail shifted in her seat to give him a quick scan, then turned back towards the window that was opposite the door. “Fuck off,” she said.
“Oh lovely, her first words today. Sorry detective, I did tell you this was one of her off days,” the familiar woman said, still standing just outside the door.
“You can fuck off too, lady,” was the biting remark from the young woman in the room.
“That’s alright,” said the man, ignoring Abigail for the moment. “Do you think I could have a few minutes alone with her?”
“Go ahead, she’s usually tame enough — that nasty bit of business that got her put in here notwithstanding. Do watch yourself though. I’ll be right outside.” And the woman shut the door.
It was a square room — or at least, square enough, by Abigail’s estimation — with the door near one corner, a bed in the opposite one, and in the middle was a small table with two chairs, one on either side, facing towards the window in the middle of the wall.
Abigail was in the seat closer to the door. The newcomer set himself down in the other one.
He sat quietly for a moment. Finally, he asked her, “Do you know why I’m here?”
“Dude, I have no earthly idea,” she said with a wave of her hand and some irritation. “Do you know they won’t even let reporters in to see me now? It’s so boring. But then, the reporters were probably getting bored too, anyway,” she reflected.
“True; these days, there’s hardly any mention of you. Newer and more exciting crimes to write about, and all that. But tell me something, Abigail: What does it feel like to kill?”
She scoffed. “Why, making any plans?”
“No,” he said somberly. “That’s not why I’m asking. See, I’ve had to take life in the past. I know the feeling. I want to know if you do.”
She gave him a long look in the eye. Then she shrugged and sighed, her gaze drifting back towards the window.
“It was kind of cool, you know?” She began after a moment, growing animated. “Like, here was a person, with all these years, and all these lives they’d touched, and then in a moment, it was gone. All those years, and then in one second, you ended it. Watching that light suddenly flicker out in their eyes, it makes you feel kind of powerful. But then…” here Abigail became contemplative. “Then, it was kind of like standing in an ocean. Like, you had your feet in the sand, you were getting used to the rhythm of the waves, everything is fine. But then this big one comes, and it pulls you in, and suddenly, your feet are out from under you. You don’t even know which way is up, and there’s this… feeling. This sinking feeling, where you realize, you’re drowning.”
“An interesting description… But, there’s a problem with that, Abigail.”
“Oh, really?” She snapped, coming out of her musing. “And what’s that?”
“Well, you see, I’m not really a detective,” he said, leaning towards her. “And I know you’ve never killed.”
She began to mouth the words in confusion, until the realization dawned across her face. “Oh…” She whispered. “Shit.”
Letter Without Address
Eliza wrote about how she has a dream of having a collection of letters from a bunch of different people, sort of open letters to anyone who might be struggling with suicidal thoughts. Letters without address, meant for anyone who needs them. I don’t know if this qualifies — I’m definitely no Eliza — but…
To whoever you are, whatever you’ve done:
I dance with fire. I dance, and everyone around me burns trying to drag me away from the flame. No matter how cold they get, or how many buckets of water they try to bring, often it just makes the flame seem warmer, that much more enticing. The more they try, the more of a failure I realize that I am. And I can’t escape the fact that if I just stepped into the fire, then they wouldn’t be rushing to and fro, worrying. I can’t help but wonder if all I am is a burden… Or maybe even a monster. I don’t know about you, but as for me, I’ve gotten very good at using people. I’m not good at much else; but you don’t have to be if you know the right things to say.
It scares me sometimes. And at every encouragement, every eager entreaty, every assurance that yes, I am worth it — at every one, I wonder. Do they know? Can they? If they can’t see the monster inside, the pathetic little beast that I am, how can they pass any kind of fair judgement? And often, I’ll smile at the well wishes, shake my head, and then stash them away in that deep, deep place in my heart where bright things still dare to live, but so rarely dare to come out. I think a part of me is hoping that if I save up enough of those, I’ll be able to afford a highway between that bright place, and the world outside.
Maybe whoever’s reading this can beat me to it. Whatever kindness I have, is yours. Death is always there. Life? Not so much. Give Life a chance to prove you wrong. Give others a chance to make their own choices — yes, even about you and your worth. If they hate you, let them hate you. If they love you, let them love you. And if you’re completely alone, then forget about yourself for a moment; Be for someone else what you always wished someone could be for you.
And maybe, embrace a platitude or two.