15-minute ficlet: Slideshow

Originally posted here, a 15-minute-ficlet to the prompt “platitudinous”

She smiled at the gathered crowd and took a long, deep breath. They would listen to her; they’d paid to come in here, after all. But would they hear?

She waited while they squirmed a bit. No-one expected her to be all that interesting, did they? They expected her to preach, to pontificate, to pour platitudes on their plebeian pates. They came to say they’d heard her speak, not because they expected it to be an entertaining speech.

“Punch ’em in the gut,” he’d recommended. “Don’t be platitudinous. Don’t use words of more than two syllables unless no other word will do. They’re here to look at you, after all, and for the cachet of hearing you speak. Let them look at you. Then, and only then, honey, hit them in the gut and don’t let them catch their breath until you’re done with them.”

He’d added a wry smile then, one she’d come to know very well. “I know you can do it. You’ve done it to me.”

She stepped away from the podium, carrying only the small remote control for the projector. She shed her business jacket. Let them look at you. All right, then; under the jacket she was wearing a thin, strappy chemise and a skirt that looked a lot less professional without its matching jacket, especially when a mystery breeze began brushing it to and fro, suggesting more than showing, but certainly suggesting a lot.

While they were staring at the moments of revealed thigh, at her freckled shoulders, at her flame-colored, hair, the projector screen lowered. She stood so that she was directly in front of the images, and showed them her pictures:

Avignon, where a would-be god sat on a throne in the middle of city hall, young men and women in chains at his feet. The light made it seem as if she, too, was chained before him. Click.

Barcelona, where the center of the city stood as destroyed as if an earthquake had hit it. She looked, now, as if she stood buried to her waist in rubble. The crowd began to make uncomfortable noises. Click.

Lisbon, looking as if nothing had changed, at first glance. Peaceful. Calm. Happy. Click… and so very uniform. Everybody the same. Everybody moving with a small careful fixed smile on their face: nothing wrong here. We like our uniforms. We are not stepping out of the crowd. Click.

The light of an American anytown showed them her face, with the same careful smile, the same blank expression.

“The enemy is already here,” she said into the nervous silence. “The questions is not when they will arrive. It is what. will. we. do?”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/18938.html. You can comment here or there.

19 thoughts on “15-minute ficlet: Slideshow

  1. Hit in the gut, it did! But now I want to know more: what had happened? Who is she? And who are the enemies? It can’t end here.

  2. Ah, the Fae arrive! My question is who she is talking to? And who is she? I suspect Kai, by the description. With advice from Conrad. But that’s me. I saw no typos!

      • W00t! I got it right. *happy dance* Her thought patterns have changed a bit. She is much more aware of how she looks. And I am THRILLED to have a hint that things between the two of them can work out. I still suspect he is one who dies in the apocalypse, but having good years together is a blessing.

          • I get the impression that they would, only because Kai is really making efforts. She may screw up a lot, but she works to fix it as best she can once she realizes that. My advice for her would be to let Conrad know he can ask her on dates too. And to talk to him more. Shahin and Emrys I can’t tell where they will go. Fire and ice and all that. Jamian and Ty seem fragile, and that seems to be mostly due to Ty. Not sure Ty can change enough – the glimpses from Post-Apoc indicate he didn’t.

          • Ty is capricious, and I’m not sure it can change that. It seems to be part of its nature. It has been trying…

          • Yeah, book eight is not good for that, for Ty and Jamian. I’m not sure how good they will do. *grin* Nice icon.

          • Yeah, I have this amazing secret source for good photo icons. I think part of this is that Ty has had time to learn, and hasn’t. While it is trying, I’m not sure it thinks there is anything wrong with the way it treats people. It seems to be a lack of empathy. I am guessing it can’t feel emotions the way Jamian can.

          • *giggle* Yay! I am an amazing secret! Yeah, I think Ty is stuck in self-justification. And yes, it also has a distinct lack of magical or mundane empathy.

          • You are! Well, you and T. And yeah, Ty is, for all that it likes to change gender, rather unchanging in actions and personality (at least from what I can see).

          • “young men in women in chains at his feet” Perhaps “young men and women in chains at his feet”?

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