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.

***

Cynric’s Rumination:

“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.

The Inkwell

“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.

A Promise

I’ve no reason to breathe;
I’ve no reason to wake.
I tell him this, and many things:
Like my soul feels so heavy, I worry it might break.

He always listens quietly
With that little look he gets,
And I wonder what he’s thinking
When his eyes glitter like that.

After many conversations,
He turns to me one day;
Eyes still shining with that look,
He tells me in his quiet way:

When the weight’s too much to bear,
He’ll be there to carry me;
And if I’ve never had a reason,
Then he prays it could be he.


“In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a carried wife.”

A Piece of Candy

He loved her, he was sure;
Even if she didn’t see.
Why did she sell herself away?
He could set her free.

He followed her that night:
Watched her from a tree.
But when that other man arrived,
He just couldn’t let it be.

He did just what he’d said he would:
At last, he set her free.
In the morning they found
Her and that man’s body.

When they finally came to his apartment,
It didn’t take them long to see:
For right there on the mantel
Was where he kept his piece of Candy.


“Write a scene or story that includes a piece of candy.”

Hehehe… I do so like puns. Still think Goldie’s story might have me beat, though.

The Fantastic Cockroach From Mars

So, the other day, Stephen Black of the Fractured Faith blog posted a lighthearted challenge to make up and “sell” a (B) movie based off a name determined by your birth date — You can see what I mean here.

I saw a few combinations that I might’ve been able to work with… Unfortunately, I can’t change when I was born, and — naturally — wound up with the thing most contrary to me. I mean, cockroach? Seriously? I could’ve gotten hobbit. Or vampire. Or bunny. And those are just the subjects! But noooo. I’m “The Fantastic Cockroach From Mars.”

But, despite not getting “The Demonic Bunny From Deep Space,” I actually did have some fun with this. Even if it is totally weird and I’ll probably regret sharing it by tomorrow…

Well, before I have second thoughts, here is my attempt at an imaginary synopsis of an imaginary (and very B) movie:


People left their homes for various reasons. For Richard Roach, it was for adventure. For the greater good. For all his family and friends, crushed beneath the boots of tyrants. The former colony on Mars had been destroyed, bombarded with radioactive bombs, and he… he was the only survivor.

Alone, and finding himself changed after The Calamity, he makes his way to earth, bent on finding the truth, causing a ruckus, and maybe just getting some old-fashioned revenge.

But when he gets there, he makes an unexpected friend, eats some pizza, and is confronted with a difficult choice: mutate every cockroach on earth, and in the process destroy humanity and all it’s built… Or hang up his fedora, and leave his people’s fate in the hands of the mysterious Second Brain…

 

Disclaimer: no cockroaches were harmed in the making of this film. (Though there possibly should have been.)

Copycat

It starts off merely little things:
The way you walk, the way you speak;
While slowly I become you:
How you live, how you think.

I begin by getting close to you:
Your friend, your devotee.
Soon when people look for you
They don’t realize that it’s me.

In the end I finally disappear:
The outsider, the synthetic twin.
“Your” friends never find
The shallow grave I put you in.


Goldie’s CW prompt for the week:

“Write a story inspired by the word “clone.””

The Devil and the Sea

Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea:
What choice for you — what choice for me?
Whatever we do, we can’t be free;
We’re trapped between the devil, and the deep blue sea.

We could run, and hide away;
But I know I could not live that way.
Let us face it, come what may:
I will not run and hide away.

Check our course and check it twice:
Down a path of sin and vice,
Perfectly armed with imperfect advice;
Best we check our course and do it twice.

We saw the devil, and the sea:
Everybody knows that hell is free —
But I do not choose so easily;
So I pick the devil, and the sea.


Inspired by this poem… And pirates. I don’t know why I always wind up with pirates; but, there it is. Pirates, and a seeming inability to choose — which is also a recurring theme with me: My sister once even wrote a little parody short story involving a birthday party that goes horribly awry, and all because the birthday girl — inspired by me — would not make any choices. I thought it was hilarious (still do), and continue to refer to it from time to time. Like now, for instance.

Interlude

I tend to wonder — what happens in the “happily ever after”? So often, we have this hero, who has just slain dragons and/or saved the world and whatnot… And, what, they just settled down after all that? Maybe. Maybe, it took its toll. Maybe, they welcome the change to a quiet life. But, I think there’s a certain kind of hero that needs the struggle; the kind of hero to whom doing good is as much a need as a calling, for whom it is the only thing that truly gives them clarity, and life. How do those people handle an interlude?

This week’s CW prompt:

“In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about an interlude.”


photo-1427805371062-cacdd21273f1

Where’s the adventure
Between two pages;
Where’s the adventure
Between two books?

I’m left adrift
In “happily ever after”;
I’m left adrift,
And it hurts.

I should be fine,
Living these moments;
I should be fine —
Except… my life’s work:

I lived for adventure;
And though I love you forever…
I lived for adventure —
But I can’t live for you.

I ache for the knowing
Of where I ought to be going;
I ache for the knowing
Of what’s right and wrong.

Love, I beseech you:
Understand why I leave you.
Love, I beseech you:
Let me stay gone.

Outlaw

Kid, you’ve got some spine
Walking into this camp of mine
And with an offer so intriguing
It’s rather hard to decline.

But all in all, I gotta say,
You’re coming at this the wrong way:
When looking for a white knight,
You don’t trespass in the gray.

See, I’m not here to fight your fight;
But, my pockets are feeling a little light…
So, if you want my sword and shield,
I’ll need some gold within my sight.


 

Well, this week’s CW prompt is to:

“Write a story inspired by the word “shield”.”

Unbonded Word

Promises are broken every day.
Little things, mostly:
“Oh, no worries,
I’ll do this today.”
Yeah. Right.
You don’t do it anyway —
And yet the only trouble you can think
Is of the things they’ll say,
How mad they’ll be.

Nevermind that you didn’t care enough
To give up your fun, your play;
All you can think of now
Is how best to get away
From a word that’s not your bond,
And a hope that will never stay:
Their hope, that if they treat you with understanding —
Though every time, you turn away —
That maybe, just maybe,
It will be returned one day.


 

Another CW prompt:

“Write a story or poem about a broken promise.”