Call for Prompts: Lost, abandoned, and left behind

The call for prompts is now open! For the next 24 hours, I will taking your prompts on the theme of Lost, abandoned, and left behind.

I will write (over the next week) at least one microfic (150-300 words) to each prompter. If you donate, I will write to all of your prompts, and write at last 300 additional words for each $5 you donate, to the prompt of your choice.

If I reach $30 in donations, I will post an additional 2000-word fic on the subject of the audience’s choice. This level has been reached!

If I reach $60, I will write at least 2 microfics for everyone, whether or not they donated.

If I reach $90, I will write to every prompt I get in the next 24 hours – if something truly bugs me, I’ll ask you to re-prompt. At this point, please allow up to 2 weeks for the writing to be completed.

If I reach $120, I will record a podcast of an audience-choice story and post it for everyone to read. Also, everyone who tipped will get double wordcount.

If I reach $150, I will release an e-book of all of the fiction written to this call and the last one. At this point, please allow up to 4 weeks for the writing to be completed.

I’m still saving up for the giraffe carpet, which will be installed the first week of October!

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0 thoughts on “Call for Prompts: Lost, abandoned, and left behind

    • Isi sat on the floor of the empty room, staring at the door. She’d wrapped around his leg when he’d been packing to go, begging him to stay. “I need you,” she’d told him, even after he’d severed the Keeping, releasing her. “I want you. Stay with me.” “I’ve got to go,” he’d told her, petting her, trying to pry her off of him. “I’ve done my time here, love. And you’ll be fine.” “No, no, I won’t.” She’d devolved into sobbing then, and he’d set her on the bed and packed around her, until the room was empty except for suitcases and the bed they’d shared all year. He’d held her, then, until he had to leave, petted her and talked to her, nonsense and gossip, nothing important, but she’d clung to every word, like she’d clung to him. If she was good enough, maybe he wouldn’t leave her. If she was really, really good, maybe he’d take her with him. She hadn’t been good enough, hadn’t been enough for anything more than a good-bye kiss. He’d hooked her leash to her collar, looped the other end around the bedpost, and ordered her not to touch the leash… and then he’d left. That had been, she was pretty sure, two or three days ago. The leash let her get to the bathroom, and to the kitchenette, which still had some food. She couldn’t reach the door, which was beginning to annoy her, because someone kept knocking. She wondered how long they’d knock before they’d leave her alone. She wondered, if she waited long enough, if he’d come back to her.

      • Awww. I wonder if he gave her that last order to mess with her, or if he was trying to be kind and give her a way to take ownership of her freedom.

                • Oh yeah, theme. Making this a proper prompt: How does the leash get abandoned? or Does the leash get abandoned? Literal or metaphorical (or both), author’s choice.

                  • The knocking wouldn’t stop. It went away for a while, but it kept coming back. She couldn’t reach the door from here, but she could reach a couple cans of food. Of course, if she threw the food, she wouldn’t have it anymore. She curled up and slept again. The third time the knocking woke her, she gave in to temptation and threw the cans at the door. The knocking stopped, then, and Isi thought, relived, that she might be able to finally get some sleep. The door opened, the light pouring in. “Is’? Isi?” Kauaʻi peeked her head in. “Isi, what…? Oh, that bastard. Isi, come here.” The habit of obedience made her slink towards her year-mate, stopping when the leash tugged on her collar. “Shit, Isi. Take that thing off.” “I can’t,” she whimpered. “He told me to leave it on.” “He doesn’t… shit.” She ran a hand through her hair. “All right, all right. Invite me in.” “I can’t…” but she could. She didn’t have any orders about that. “Come in, Kauaʻi.” Her friend strode in, muttering under her breath. “Naked, too. Clothes?” “He took everything,” she whimpered. “He left me, Kee.” “I can see that. Clothes, clothes, he wouldn’t have…” She slammed doors open and pushed aside boxes. “Ah, here’s your shit from the beginning of the year. Put this on.” She threw clothes at Isi, a soft shirt and long skirt that had been her favorite, before he told her they were wrong. “Are you sure?” “Well, you have to wear something. Come on,” she urged, making hurry-up gestures at Isi. “What am I going to do with you?” “Leave me here?” Eventually, he’d come back. Right? “That, that is the one thing I’m not going to do. I guess you’re coming home with me.” She tugged the leash off the bedpost. “Two feet, Isi, you can’t crawl in that skirt. Come.” Happy to have someone telling her what to do again, Isi followed her friend out of His room.

    • Alisa’s little Fiesta was already up to its legal capacity when they got to the dorm, but they were feeling a bit urgent about the whole thing and, anyway, they’d gotten twice that many people in it for something far less urgent. For this, for their friends… They’d limited themselves to a single bag each, and only Grace had tried to stretch that. Kristy had taken care of that, with more force than anyone had expected out of her. “One bag, Grace, either the purse goes, or you do.” That had been that; their bags fit in places they couldn’t get another person. Still. Alisa driving, to start, and Alex in shotgun, because she knew the area the best, tiny Deann on her lap and their two bags under her feet, Grace, Gretchen, and Jacklyn packed hipbone to hipbone in the back seat, Kristy draped over their laps like another piece of luggage, Paula and Sherry and Tisha in the trunk, with their bags and Alisa’s and the cooler with all the food they could scrounge. They’d packed every possible inch of the tiny car with people and the bare minimum of luggage, because they knew what was coming. They had to get out of town. And then, as they were pulling out of the parking lot… Michelle Weber, Michy who’d started school with them, held their hair when they puked, bailed Kristy and Jacky out of jail. Michy who’d walked seven miles to help Sherry out in a blizzard. Michy, with one small bag and a lost look. They all paused, waiting, waiting to see who’d say “no, drive.” Waiting to see who’d say that staying was death. Waiting to see who’d volunteer, this time, to be the bitch. The pause stretched, Alisa’s foot on the brake. Their window for leaving was swiftly closing, and there would be no other chance. Everyone else had fled. They had to leave Michy, or they’d all die. “Let me out.” Paula whispered it, Paula, who had always been the good one. “Let me out, let her in. I owe her too much.”

    • The rescue operation had been a smashing success, by the standards of such things. Twenty-seven miners had been trapped in the collapse, stuck in a small area with limited food for two months while, on the surface, they worked rapidly to dig a hole, to pull them out. Others had died in the collapse, and one had died in the wait, but twenty-six miners were, one by one, pulled out of the hole. They left behind many of their inhibitions, many of their old fears, many of their old hatreds. There hadn’t been room for them in the hole. They left behind a combined body weight of over one thousand shed pounds, lost in the near-starvation, lost in the need to fit through a tiny hole. They left behind blood, and piss, sweat and shit and tears they would never acknowledge. And they left behind their brujah, because nobody had known she was there, and nobody could know she was there. They had lived, survived as long as they had on so little food and almost no water, because of her magic, not killed each other in rage and hatred and despair and hunger because of her blessing, not given up the first time the drill didn’t break through because of the calm she gave them. But when the end came, when they were hauled up one much-skinnier-miner at a time, they left in the hole not only their memories but their luck.

    • Not quite what you asked for. Willing to give it another go if you don’t like it… This – – is the school referred to within. I used to take piano lessons there. Certain places, it has always been posited, have lives of their own, paths of their own, beyond that of the universe they are, at least in theory, placed in. Pawn shops, bookstores… lost and founds. Indeed, the things you can find in the back corners of a good lost and found… The one in the back of the Hochstien Music Hall was my favorite. Nobody noticed another short person in a school for young musicians, and nobody looks too closely at a short person carrying a very tall instrument case. In my case, the cello case didn’t hold anything as innocuous as a cello – except on those rare occasions when it needed to – but the whole illusion still held firm, and I could make my way around the school’s dusty old halls and strange almost-secret passages with none the wiser to my trespass. And there in the lost and found, its walls soaked with music and passion and a thousand teenaged emotions all boiled on top of a thick syrup of faith and fear and love from the building’s days as a church, there in that place where things go when they are no longer wanted (and what was I but something else no longer wanted?) I found it, a slim attache case of old leather, the corners cracked, one lock popped. It had been there for a while, or at least it was trying to look that way, dusty, tucked behind a pink Hello Kitty backpack and a Transformers lunchbox, but it gave off an air that was unmistakable, at least to someone like me. The clerk who tended this area was on her smoke break, of course. I might not be much anymore, but I still had my luck. I pried open the case, standing back as far as I could when it sprang open. And there, there in that dirty lost and found, there was my lost faith, gleaming like gold in the dung.

    • The airport in the middle of nowhere didn’t have a whole lot. No newsstand, no souvenirs, a vending machine instead of a restaurant and only one luggage cart. It did, however, have a bathroom, and after the three-stop flight from Honolulu and the super-sized soda in Seattle, Wylie had needed a bathroom. He’d only walked away from the group for a couple minutes – Chang, who they’d picked up in Seattle, Kendrew, in Salt Lake City, who had met them there from Calgary, Dow, who had been there when they got there and wouldn’t tell them anything at all about himself, and Adeola, who he couldn’t tell if was proud, shy, or both in equal measure – and only after Chang had promised he’d watch Wylie’s luggage. There were a few things in there he didn’t want just anyone to get their hands on, and he’d liked the look of Chang more than the others. He’d only been a few minutes. It didn’t take that long to piss, even with a super-sized Dew in you. It had only been a couple minutes – but when he stepped back out, the group of people, all who’d claimed to be Addergoole students, too, and all who’d claimed to have no idea what was going on – were gone, and so was his luggage. And so, it seemed, were the three ancient people who ran this place. Even the lights were out. The gates were down, blocking the runways but, more importantly at the moment, blocking Wylie from leaving. More importantly, they had locked him on the wrong side of a metal wall from the phone and the vending machine.

      • Ouch. I’ve occasionally worried about being locked in at work, worries that fortunately go away once I remember that A: The doors will still open from the inside, and B: Parts of the office are open 24/7. Still, I’ve occasionally decided to read while waiting for rush hour traffic to die down, then looked up and realized four or five hours have gone by. But at a small airport? Poor guy. Well, at least he’s indoors and can wait for someone to open up in the morning. Wondering though if something played with his time sense. That’s a pretty quick emptying out and lock up.

  1. Hmm. A Cali story in which someone who was grabbed and shipped to Cali after getting lost, finds new reason to be indignant when they fail to sell. “Oh come on, the runaway slave sells and they won’t even look at me?!”

    • They’d caught him at a bar, and that had been bad. Jason had been far drunker than he ever wanted to admit to when the pretty blonde girl had lured him into her car and, from there, it seemed, into slavery. When he sobered up, he’d made his opinions on the matter endlessly clear, until the girl had drugged him into submission long enough to sell him. The boutique she’d sold him to had done much the same, once he’d started hollering, but he was edgy and angry even drugged to the gills, and they couldn’t sell him, no matter how hard they tried. After a while, the proctor had pulled him aside and explained to Jason, punctuating the lesson with some discrete blows, that a slave who could not be sold was no use to anyone, and a slave with no use would be gotten rid of. Jason wasn’t sure he believed him, but as his bruises healed, he began to notice that some of the other mouthy slaves had just… vanished. One of the older, more well-behaved slaves told him, in a frightened whisper, that they’d gone to the work camps. The boy made it sound like being sold into hell. That got Jason’s attention, enough that he started trying, but it was was too little and too late. No matter how hard he tried to play good, he couldn’t get the anger out of his system, and his fear only fueled that. Pretty ladies and their fluffy boy toys took one look at him and moved on to someone tamer. Even the big, rich businessmen wanted someone they didn’t have to worry about turning their back on. They were frightened of him, and they wouldn’t buy what they feared. The boutique passed him off to an auction house. And here he was, chained to a post, between a girl who’d lost three of her fingers in a mechanical accident and a runaway who kept swearing and spitting at all comers. The girl sold, for a discount, but still, she sold. The boy on the other side of her sold. The old man past him, and the narrow probably-a-girl on the other side of the runaway sold. The runaway sold, to a tall blonde girl who stuck a gag in his mouth and leash on his collar – but he sold. “Come on,” Jason complained, though noone was listening. “Nobody wants me?”

      • Ouch. Poor Jason. Maybe he’ll be lucky like one of my character ideas, who did get sent off to a work camp and was lucky enough to be pulled aside by one of the senior staff who decided she didn’t buy that he’d really done what his file said he was accused of (“Wait, the file says this kid is supposed to have done what? Him? Alright kid, I’m giving you one chance.”).

        • Hee, we have a current RP of a mouthy boy who got rescued from a work camp when the Lady he’d mouthed off to changed her mind. But the work camps really are the boogyman of the Cali world 😀 I do picture a voice behind him purring “I want you…” but I’m not sure who and or what.

      • Perhaps I am confusing various of your universes, but … these folks can turn humans into cat-people, but can’t repair some missing fingers?

        • I think, like our world, it can be a cost v available resource issue. There was another pair(?) of stories where someone was growing back a leg but it was expensive. The cat people origin story seemed to be an official government project. It can be done, if you can afford it. Presumably no-one who could afford it was going to pay for her fingers to be grown back.

          • Good point. I don’t know the relative costs of a slave and a medical procedure in this universe. The mentioned discount might cover repairs to her hand. I had been assuming that modified slaves were expensive but not unaffordable — the mermaid in the sushi bar appeared to be there purely for decoration — but perhaps they’re all still owned by the Agency (which I assume has ulterior motives) and just out on loan?

            • In my very loose worldbuilding (this started out as a fetish setting; I should know better by now), slaves cost about what a car does. Medical tech starts at current US costs but stuff like regen is all the market can bear. I took Lit in college though, not economics.

              • If you’re not interested in building it into a world with a detailed economy, don’t worry about it. Handwaving my economic questions is perfectly reasonable. Upper-class (or upper-upper-class?) households seem to have a *lot* of slaves. I don’t have a sense of whether that’s more comparable to car-collecting or art-collecting or keeping a zoo or garden, or of what fraction of them do useful work as opposed to providing entertainment. Are middle-class or middle-upper class households likely to keep a slave, or several?

                • I like the whole lots-of-slaves things, so yeah, the upper-upper-class households sometimes have LOTS 🙂 Middle-class and middle-upper would have maybe one, maybe three slaves; lower royals would have a much smaller number unless they wander around breeding on their slaves all the time.

                  • Hmm. If you’re automatically a slave if born to a slave, then that would be another way the wealthier families could end up with large numbers. Food, board, and medical care may well end up being as much as buying one – but it would also be spread out over more years. A middle class person might well head off to college with one of the kids of (one of) the family slave(s) to be their first servant. Heck, the family slaves might even take it as an insult if a family member moved out and first bought a slave rather than picking one of them.

                    • Born to a slave mother, yes. That’s how many families end up with grey-eyed powered slaves. That’s another neat story idea…

                  • The number of slaves one owns would probably come to be a easy way to tell who /was/ middle-class or middle-upper. Have you ever watched Downton Abbey? The middle class woman has a maid who knows how to do hair, rather than a lady’s maid and housemaids, and this is much remarked upon when she and her son come into contact with the upper classes.

                    • I have heard much of Downton Abbey but never seen it. Yes, inasmuchas income/wealth determines status in Cali.

                    • Here, let me try again. I think you’re right, on one level. 1 slave vs. 10 slaves vs. 100. But some households, in my head!canon, just are excessive with the number of little redheaded slavebabies wandering around – which makes “oh, they breed them like rabbits over at the Baroness’ place” disparaging, where “The Countess has a special slave just for doing her fingernails,” might not be.

                    • Although from a purely pragmatic standpoint if one’s willing to take some time at it, stick some slaves in a room and say, “Go at it,” and quite literally breed ’em for the market. Appalling from a modern American perspective but from a coldly pragmatic business perspective… (Wouldn’t fly with modern businesses, not for ethical/legal reasons, but simply because I doubt most modern companies are willing to deal with a ‘product’ that will take over a before you get a return on the investment)

                    • *giggle* how many times do you think you’ll say “Idea” and I’ll say “I have a roleplay that…” I have a roleplay of a place that is specifically breeding traits into slaves… 🙂

                    • 🙂 (Whew! Accidentally clicked on something, fortunately the browser remembered what I’d typed) A recent personality test indicated that I was an idea person. Heck, I sometimes amuse myself by creating RPG characters even when there’s no game planned. (I need to sit down and stat out my Dresden Files RPG character idea that’s been bouncing around my head, she was a computer geek in training as a kid who suddenly discovers she can do magic, which in the DF universe means you pretty much become a walking jinx field for modern technology, so no more computers for her…) It’s almost impossible for me to look at a setting I find interesting and not start asking, “Hmm, what if…” Heck, I even had a Cali idea that suddenly said, “Hey, let’s pull in Jolene from Guitar as a side character.” To which my reaction was, “Wait, where’d that come from… O.o o.O Huh. That might work actually.”

                    • I remember randomly making characters for everything. It’s what I loved most about running live-action games! (I’m a big DF fan, BTW) Jolene from Guitar?

                    • From the 30-Days entry for a story involving a musical instrument, the girl who refused to play unless it was *her* guitar.

                    • Combination of annoying work/homework/and having partial bits of hopefully longer pieces that I look at and shudder saying, “Ew, too rough.” But I hope to have the next 30 days piece up soon. I even had a partially written one, but I think I now have an even better idea for the Ice Tea prompt.

        • You do have a point. Mmm… wasn’t worth the expense? Or had had them removed as a punishment? Or maybe, the author wasn’t awake? I could probably change it to something that made more sense.

          • I don’t know what things cost in this universe, or whether the modified slaves ever leave the ownership of the mysterious and well-funded Agency. Slaves are presumably worth a fair bit if expeditions out of the country to kidnap people are worthwhile … or perhaps that’s considered military action and/or has high propaganda value, too?

            • Moddies are created outside of the Agency as well, but are pricey on top of the expense of a slave. And yes, the kidnapping is partially a moneymaking venture, partially military action/propaganda value.

  2. A lost soul. (A ghost?) Abandoned ideas. Abandoned plans. Leaving something behind for others. A lost idea! How did it get lost? Would it have been useful? Is there someplace that lost trains of thought go?

    • this follows directly after Lost and Found I watched the imp sneak into the lost and found, and I watched him open the case. I’d made sure it was hidden enough to allay suspicion – poor creatures like that one are notoriously paranoid, and generally with good reason – but not so much that he couldn’t find it. He needed it, after all, poor thing. Once he was distracted, reaching so slowly and cautiously for the germ of faith that he’d lost, I could begin readying the place for the next customer. Backpacks and lunchboxes, yes, we held our share of those. But here, in a place so saturated with emotions, my lost and found could hold so much more. He wouldn’t see me – neither would the overworked and underpaid clerk, when she returned from her smoke break – but both of them might sense me. She was more sensitive than she knew; she’d have to be, to work in a place like this, and he, well, he was a magical creature, holding on to life by the skin of his magical teeth. Both of them, if they were paying attention, would know I was here, if not what I was. And that wouldn’t do, so I had to work quickly, while the one was gone and the other distracted. I folded up the lost ideas, things that had fallen out of people’s minds, shaken out with one distraction or another (the school was on a much noisier corner than once had been the case). I could tuck them into the lunch boxes and backpacks, into the mundane things people would either claim or steal, and they could be recovered, or at least passed on that way. I rolled up the abandoned plans. The county courthouse was right around the corner, and more than one person had misplaced a plan there, even a marriage. This one, this wold be a good gift for a young couple just getting married. I tied an organza ribbon around it, something old, from my own lost marriage, and sent it on its way. Plans, at least, have wings of their own, if you get them going. The imp was getting ready to leave, and the clerk would be back from her break. I folded a rickety train of thought into the case the imp was leaving behind. Someone else would find it, when they needed it. As long as they didn’t find me, I could keep on leaving them trinkets to discover.

  3. I want to read more about the unicorns and factory setting. I propose an abandoned unicorn foal found by a startled bypasser. Tir Na Cali — People are always moving out and leaving their pets behind. What if someone did that with one of the catpeople? Faerie Apocalypse — A lost deity desperately searching for some vestige of their home culture/people.

    • this turned out a bit weird. Here is the link to the original story. This is a piece Cluudle wrote in the same setting… and that’s the Unicorn/Factory landing page so far 😉 Giulian had heard about the villages along the river. Every new Administrator to the Town had; the villages that fed the Town and sent its factories workers, its schools students, were part of the information files passed from Administrator to Administrator or, most frequently, from Administrator’s estate to the successor. Giulian’s predecessor had not, in fact, died, which made him a rarity in this corner of the country – Giulian himself had been told he’d been given the position because of his no-nonsense attitude and stout constitution, but he was fairly certain it was simply because he’d become a nuisance and a position with a ninety-percent fatality rate seemed a good place to get rid of him. But the poor man he was replacing, rather than quietly dying, had gone quite gibbering mad, so his notes were of dubious use. Indeed, the whole packed of information was half speculation and half outright myth, of no use at all except to explain, in part, why the remaining ten percent of Giulian’s predecessors had gone mad. The rest of the madness (and the fatality rate) was easily explained after seeing the town and, after two days in the position, Giulian knew he would have a shorter tenure than most if he did not get out of town for a walk. Just a short walk, a breather, completely within regulations, even if Administrators and other high-level Bureaucrats were discouraged from leaving the Town proper. The roads were smoother than he’d expected, outside the town – not paved, but graded, packed gravel, not a rut to be seen, and the drainage ditches deeper and more effective than those in the Town. The wagons that passed him seemed more high-technology than he’d been led to expect, too, the villagers cleaner and better-dressed. It was all very curious, and enough that he kept walking long past his self-alloted few moments. The village he passed, too, seemed cleaner than the files and reports suggested, and the fields showed signs of modern crop techniques. The people, however, no matter how clean they were, wanted nothing to do with him, one woman actually going so far as to slam a door in his face. It was a good deal to think on, and he turned back not because he had seen enough, but because the sun was beginning to set. The roads were generally safe this close to the Towns, but he had brought neither lamp nor coat, and the night would be dark and cold; indeed, the moon had begun to rise before he could see the Town’s walls, glinting off the water in the drainage ditches, shining back in opalescent light… He turned back as the light moved. There, in the ditch, that wasn’t a reflection. Some sort of gem? Heedless of the dirt, he scrambled down the edge of the road to peer into the ditch. No, nothing but a rock. He turned back, disappointed, only to have motion flicker in the corner of his eye again. Something his gibbering predecessor had said came to mind. “You can’t see them, of course. None of us are pure enough. But in the corner of your eye, they’re always there. Glaring at you.”

    • They couldn’t have unlocked her collar if they wanted to; she wasn’t, legally, theirs. The girl they called Patches was a foster-kitty of sorts, placed with them to learn what a household was supposed to be like, and what a slave in that house was supposed to act like. Where they were moving, however, was a small gated community, a step up the social ladder and the sort of place where a moddie slave would be hard to explain, so they left her behind. They made sure she had plenty of water and food, but packed up around her and set her to her room as they left, so she wouldn’t see them leaving her behind. The youngest petted her behind her furred ears for a while, and cried, forgetting, the way the family often did, that their kitty-girl could speak and understand English as well as any human. The girl they called Patches, whose mother had called her Tanya-Marie, listened to all of it, and murrowled cutely, because her foster-owners were more comfortable with her miawing than speaking, and waited in her room until they were gone. She wondered, for a while, if she’d done something wrong. Raised in the Agency, she didn’t have the slave instincts that the other servants did; raised by other modified beings, cat-people, she sometimes gave in to feral behaviors. But she’d done everything they asked her to, and, despite all the jokes, she’d never peed on the carpet. They’d left her her clothes, along with maybe a week’s worth of clothes, but they’d also left, by accident, a small laptop. Tanya-Marie hooked into the internet and began searching. The walk, once she’d found her route, was long, and hurt her feet, used to indoor living. People stopped her, either for the novelty of talking to a cat-girl or for the concern of seeing a runaway slave, but her tags said she had free rein to wander (she was an Agency cat, after all) and there was nothing they could really do to stop her. Three weeks later, a hungry and slightly bedraggled Patches showed up, miawing sadly, at her foster-owners’ new house.

      • Smart kitty! That is a big risk there, forgetting that your slaves are people. Lucky for them she only wanted to be with her foster family. somehow I suspect they would have been in trouble if she’d shown up miawing sadly on the front steps of the local Agency office (“What? No-no, you have it all wrong, it was training! Yeah, training! We weren’t abandoning her, we were testing her resourcefulness!”).

          • Let her in, feed her, then let her have a long hot soak in the bath while they meditate on the responsibilities of owning a pet/slave? Or rather meditate on the responsibilities of fostering someone else’s pet/slave and realize that they should forget worrying about what the neighbors think and worry about whether anyone reported back to the Agency that one of their cats was wondering around? Hmm. Although now I wonder just how long someone with, “This slave is free to move about unsupervised,” papers could get away with being on their own after being abandoned. I’m just picturing some middle management person at the Agency getting a letter starting off along the lines of, “Hello, so here’s where I’ve been the last six years. I only just found the Agency’s address, I hope this is reaching the right person. Can I come home yet?”

              • And of course said slave figures if the Agency wanted them back they’d be back. After all, it isn’t like they’ve been hiding. Of course now, even if they follow all the proper social gestures, they’re still used to living on their own. Ack. I’ve already got a pile of things to write. How does this stack of ideas never get smaller. 🙂

      • This is SO CUTE. You did a wonderful job of blending well-known motifs of abandoned pets, slavery, and pets tracking down distant owners. They had damned well better let her in.

      • Awww.. poor kitty-girl, her foster family doesn’t deserve her… and in that universe I think I’d either be running a home for lost cat-people…or campaigning for emancipation. [or maybe both].

      • Awww! Oh, that is not where I was expecting that to end up. It makes me sad, though, when she could have been at least somewhat free. And it’s interesting to see that, at least at this point in time, a catgirl is an unusual but not shocking thing to see.

    • This comes directly after Dusting Lost Thoughts, which is directly after Lost and Found I finished my “smoke break” and spat my gum in the garbage, passed a muffin to the hobo sleeping under our porch and reminded him, again, that he had to be out of there when the security guard came around. I took my time coming back in, like I always did, letting the door slam hard and knocking the snow off my boots loudly. It could have been superstition – sometimes, I wanted to believe it was just superstition – and it could have been just the tidiest vandals and theives ever – I never really believed that – but things had gotten a lot more comfortable and a lot neater in the lost and found and the attached library and cloakroom since I’d started demanding smoke breaks. There was a faint odor of camphor and moth balls wafting through the room when I hung up my coat, and, over that, the scent of myrrh and something older, something that smelled like a pine tree burning. The camphor I knew, but, just as I knew it, I knew I had to ignore it. The resin and myrrh were new, so I looked for what was missing. There, in the corner, the ancient documents case, so old its former owner had probably forgotten he’d ever owned it, not gone, but moved, the dust disturbed. Well, then, good. No-one ever got something from that case that they didn’t need – it bit people it didn’t like, as one teenaged guitar student had learned last week. And for people it liked, well. I made a note in the ancient log and shifted my Sight a little, to see what notes my mysterious, invisible co-worker had made. There was one I loved to come back to, narcissistic as it was, because it was mine. Placed: one truth, and with it peace of purpose. It had been an ancient fortune cookie, true, but folded into it were the words that had changed my life. Overworked, underpaid… but there were things I could do here that made a difference, and that had given me a new road. Found, I wrote, one notebook, and three lost dreams. Placed: a missing faith. I shelved the notebook, and left the lost dreams for my co-worker. She could reach those cupboards better than I.

          • I was thinking after the first one that this would be fun to explore further, but you seemed to have covered it quite well already. And then the other pieces showed up, so yeah, more would be welcome. I enjoy weaving some of my experiences and favorite places into my writing as well. Some of my series particularly lend themselves to that.

            • I enjoy weaving some of my experiences and favorite places into my writing as well It gives the stories/poems an edge of truth/realism, I think (also, sometimes it makes my mother cry, but in a good way.)

  4. I’ve had my heart broken a number of times by sexuals who, though claiming at first to understand my lack of sexual attention, eventually abandoned me to find other sexuals. Apparently, love ISN’T enough.

    • It was easy enough when we were friends. I liked him, I’m not going to deny that, right from the beginning. The way his lips looked when he was thinking. The way he talked. The way his brain twisted around problems. If he’d been another guy at the gaming group… …but he was Jay, and it became quickly obvious that he had no interest in me like that. And that, I admit, was even more intriguing (call me arrogant if you want, but I was a non-ugly girl in a gaming club. Men that weren’t interested were generally also unfriendly. Jay was just Jay, like it didn’t occur to him that he should or could or would be interested. I didn’t chase after him, but I did go out of my way to talk to him, to make friends with him. “You know what colour my eyes are,” I joked, but the truth was, I just liked being able to talk to him, to be close to him. He didn’t like being touched by strangers, so I knew we were close when he put his arm around my shoulders. He had no interest in sex, he’d explained (when I, rather awkwardly, asked if he was gay), so I knew something was up when he kissed me the first time. I was raw and all jagged edges from a badly-ended relationship that time, but the second time, I was healed, and deciding that the normal boys were just not what I wanted. I wanted Jay. I wanted my friend. Sex? I thought I could do without. A small sacrifice to have a relationship that worked. And I loved him. I thought cuddling would be nice, and it was, but… I had habits built up from a few years of relationships, and it seemed natural for cuddling to turn into kissing, for kissing to turn into necking, for necking to turn into sex. I knew better, and the first twenty or thirty times I started, I stopped myself. But I’m not asexual – pretty much the opposite – and, after a while, I tried blurring the lines, pushing the lines. I knew he loved me, but I wanted him to want me, too. I wanted him to touch me, and so I’d kiss, and then push the kissing further, and further, until he would tell me, so patiently, “please don’t.” Please don’t. I started to wonder if something was wrong with me. I cut my hair, dyed it, bought new clothes. Other boys at the gaming club started flirting with me again, even Jay’s friends. I ate it up, but I wanted more. (I wanted it from him, even though I knew I wasn’t going to get it). I started hanging out with them, more, just to feel the rush of someone noticing I was female and alive. I started staying out late. I came home, every night, to Jay, to curl against his body and feel his warmth. I was home for dinner every evening, to joke about politics and complain about work. But I don’t think either of us were surprised when I moved out. Sometimes love just isn’t enough.

      • It’s well written and conveys the story at a good pace, but it seems, to me anyhow, too clinical (for lack of a better word). From my experience, these situations have a lot more emotion to them for both parties, such as hurt, guilt, regret, etc.

        • *ponder* I think I know why. It’s written from the perspective of the character who was probably less injured by the experience. Conversely, the sexual character will be more easy for most readers to relate to, given that 99% of the population is sexual. For greater emotional impact, I’d recommend attempting to tell the story from the counterpoint, the asexual character’s perspective, rather than trying to recut the sexual character’s perspective to be more angsty. The asexual perspective is likely to be a lot more ouchy, but then this batch ran that way. aldersprig, you’ve done well with aspected stories in other cases, including the lost and found one. I think that technique is worth a try here.

          • The sexual may make the choice in the end, but, from what I’ve observed, it’s still pretty hurty for them. There’s a lot of feelings of rejection and damaged self-esteem involved. It’s sometimes not even about the ace’s lack of sexual attraction to the sexual, but the sexual’s inability to sexually please the ace. There’s just so much going on there. I may be hurt from these kind of experiences, but I understand why my exs have made the choice they made and I forgive them for that. (Had to work on forgiving myself, too.) Yeah, that ‘aces only’ dating rule I now have in place is there for a reason.

            • Having been in similar situations from a decidedly-sexual point of view.. yeah. It becomes “what’s wrong with me? Why don’t you want me?” and all logic flies out the window. You seek whatever attention/affection you can get – wherever you can find it.

            • >>The sexual may make the choice in the end, but, from what I’ve observed, it’s still pretty hurty for them. <>Yeah, that ‘aces only’ dating rule I now have in place is there for a reason.<< It can be hard to find someone. Recently I got into an online discussion about "winding up alone." I pointed out that it's not necessarily a passive effect, as the blogger was leaning toward, but was often the end result of multiple failed attempts and a conclusion that being alone — while not ideal — was less damaging than searching for a compatible partner. The search can be harder on aces because the pool of potential partners is smaller and spread out, but sexuals can run into the same problem of winding up alone due to search fatigue.

              • >> I still think that exploring this story from different angles would reveal more of the tension in useful ways.<>The search can be harder on aces because the pool of potential partners is smaller and spread out, but sexuals can run into the same problem of winding up alone due to search fatigue.<< You don't have to tell me about how rough it is trying to find compatible aces; my current romance lives over 2000 miles away. 🙁 That's an interesting point about search fatigue. I hadn't considered that before, but it makes sense.

                • >>True, though it would take a little research to get a feel for the asexual’s side of the story.<< Right. *ponder* Has anyone even written a reference for that yet? There’s some technical and social and activist stuff written about asexuality as an orientation. There’s a list of asexual sex scenes, and a post about writing sex scenes involving asexuals. However, I haven’t seen anything specifically about the emotional aspects of the asexual experience or tips for asexual characterization in general — that’s probably closer to what would help here. >>You don’t have to tell me about how rough it is trying to find compatible aces; my current romance lives over 2000 miles away. << You've got me beat. my_partner_doug and I were about 500 miles apart for a while. I know one couple who got together around a Tennessee/Arizona split. Long distances really suck in a relationship. But in my experience, a relationship that can survive that can survive almost anything else. >>That’s an interesting point about search fatigue. I hadn’t considered that before, but it makes sense.<< It might be something to discuss on one of the ace communities. People sometimes mention the problems they've had … but I haven't seen much searching for patterns, and only occasional discussion about possible solutions (networking, cuddle parties, etc.). Hm, and it would be a good prompt for ace fiction; that hasn't come up in fanfic more than a few times, but is something many readers could relate to.

                  • >>Right. *ponder* Has anyone even written a reference for that yet? … — that’s probably closer to what would help here.<< Ya know, I don't think that's come up as a topic thread by itself at AVEN that I've seen. I might start it as a thread at some point, if anyone expresses an interest. I'll try and express things from my experience, however (and, please do NOT assume that is universal or even typical of aces). Imagine, if you will, that you are in bed with your partner and wanting to cuddle a little before going to sleep. So there the two of you are, enjoying a nice snuggle and getting all comfy and cozy, when your partner turns to you and asks you to help with the dishes. *insert record scratch sound here* Now you understand that your partner really, REALLY enjoys washing the dishes with you. In fact, it appears somewhat vital to your partner's emotional well being. And you want to please your partner, show your devotion and all that, but, for you, it's still a f*cking chore (yeah, I abuse that bit of word play a lot). It means you have to stop being comfy and restful to get all energetic. And then there's all the suds and such and you tend to get all sweaty doing all that work. It's quite a fuss to be dealing with when you'd just rather relax and fall asleep in your partner's arms. It would certainly be more convenient to be washing the dishes in the morning, when you're getting up anyway and will be taking a shower after, but your partner is insistent on washing them NOW. Now you love your partner and want him/her to be happy, so you do the dishes anyway, but you find it rather difficult to fake enthusiam for the job. Worse still, it seems that, more and more frequently, whenever you start to snuggle with your partner, that triggers his/her desire to wash some more dishes. It gets to the point where you become anxious about snuggling as you fear perma-pruning your fingers. Now you try to show your love other ways. Cooking nice meals, being emotionally supportive and caring whenver it's needed, taking your partner out on dates, buying him/her flowers and teddy bears, I mean, everything! And, aside, from issues concerning the dishes, you are both a really great couple who enjoy a lot of things together. However, your lack of enthusiasm for doing dishes does the relationship in. Your partner comes to feel that you a rejecting him/her because you won't do the dishes as often as is desired and eventually your partner leaves you. As you look at the shattered remains of your heart lying on the floor, you ask yourself again and again "Why does washing the dishes have to be so f*cking important?"

                    • Hunh. *ponders* I’ll admit, my sexuality/ sexual attraction is so entirely wrapped up around and in and with my self-esteem and issues therof – I don’t know that I could write that without it getting really uncomfortable. I’ll chew on it .

                    • No worries if you don’t want to, through, granted, the uncomfortable stuff tends to make some of the best writing.

                    • BTW, just a reminder, writing it from the ace perspective is by no means mandatory or anything. Heck, I’m well familiar with that side of the story (and have an idea for a poem or two). However, your suggestion of rewriting the original, with a little less distance from it, still really interests me.

                    • >>Ya know, I don’t think that’s come up as a topic thread by itself at AVEN that I’ve seen. I might start it as a thread at some point, if anyone expresses an interest.<> I’ll try and express things from my experience, however (and, please do NOT assume that is universal or even typical of aces). <>Imagine, if you will, that you are in bed with your partner and wanting to cuddle a little before going to sleep. So there the two of you are, enjoying a nice snuggle and getting all comfy and cozy, when your partner turns to you and asks you to help with the dishes.<< This is a splendid example of extended metaphor to explain something using common ground.

              • I can’t say I’ve ever left a relationship and not had it tear me up – and I’m a very sexual being, and was more so in my 20’s. Part of my concern with writing from an ace perspective is that it’s so very far from my own, I wonder if I can do it justice.

                • >>I can’t say I’ve ever left a relationship and not had it tear me up – and I’m a very sexual being, and was more so in my 20’s.<>Part of my concern with writing from an ace perspective is that it’s so very far from my own, I wonder if I can do it justice.<< It's always a challenge to write outside one's own experience. However, you probably do have some framework: most people don’t become sexual until puberty or afterwards. It might help to cast your memory back before that, when your primary relationships were with friends/family rather than a romantic partner, and the idea of sex/romance was either boring or yucky. The dynamics may differ for adult aces, but at least that would provide a toehold for the emotional resonance.

    • It takes twenty-seven normal-sized steps to get from my front door to the mailbox. On a normal day, this can take a minute, maybe five minutes, ten if I have to shovel a bit. Saturday, it took an eternity, and I’m not exaggerating. The snow was flying thicker than I’ve ever seen it, a wild windstorm pushing a blizzard before it. I could see about two inches in front of my face, and only the torches we’d installed in November showed me at all where the driveway was. I’d shoveled an hour before, but you couldn’t tell to look at it; the snow was up to my knees already. I really wanted that book, and it was supposed to be here today, so I slodged through, shoveling just a bit and plowing the rest with my legs. Twenty-seven steps, right? I was on thirteen when the lights started going out. I should have turned around then. That would have been the brilliant thing to do. But I really wanted that book. Fourteen. Fifteen. On sixteen, the last of the lights went out. On seventeen, I tripped over a root I know shouldn’t be there, and fell flat on my face. Eighteen, nineteen, and so forth, I kept falling. The ground wasn’t there to catch my face or any of the rest of me, although the snow followed me down, and a good thing, too. Somewhere around twenty-seven, I landed, the snow cushioning my fall. There was one flickering light ahead of me, a dim gaslamp on a snow-drifted table. Next to the lamp, three cookies sat on a place with a handwritten note: “Eat me.” Would you like more of this, or of another posted story?

      • Eat me. Seriously. I looked around the room. There was one door, about halfway up and the size of a crawl space, and the snow was piling up pretty quickly. I could survive sub-zero temperatures in my parka, but it wouldn’t be fun. I pocketed the cookies and the note, and opened the door. With a little work, I could haul myself through it. The other side of the door was at least warm – very warm, as a matter of fact, sweltering, even. Three fireplaces, one in each of the walls facing me, pumped out heat like furnaces. This room had a table, too, identical to the last one, except this had little cakes on it. I pocketed those, too, and looked around. The heat was going to get unpleasant a lot faster than the cold had. I needed an out. And there it was, in the ceiling, of all places, a full-sized door hung like it belonged there. I stood on the table and, feeling like I wasn’t really athletic enough for this, pulled the door open and dragged myself up. I have to tell you, I wouldn’t have been surprised, by now, if it had been raining. I’d fallen into a snow drift and was dying, clearly – but the only way through a spirit quest is to find what you need to find, so I had to keep going. I looked around the room, searching for a table and a note that said “eat me.”

    • It was called the Lost Road, although it had more signs along it than any other road, anywhere; it was called The road, although it branched and wove and crossed over, every intersection on it was still The Lost Road. You couldn’t get there by using a map, any more than you could leave it that way, and it wasn’t a route you could turn off. In the early eras, it had been well-used, and well-upkept; inns dotted the road, and waystations, and rest stops, and then gas stations and service stations of several sorts. It had been dirt, and then it was stone, and then paved, and then the wires laid in the smooth marble and the rails hung above, but not matter the contrivances that traversed it, no matter the buildings built to serve those vehicles’ needs, most of the traffic was on foot, and it was to foot travel’s scale that the buildings had been set. But that had been in the heyday of that sort of trip – the days when fantastic voyages were almost commonplace, and every boy reached out as a child for some new universe, every girl for her magical companion. Those had been the days when the Lost Road was beloved, and everyone knew, if only in a corner of their hearts, how to step through a doorway and find themselves Lost. Those days had passed, slowly fading out, so that only a few people found the Road anymore, and fewer, once on it, knew what to do with it. And with the loss of the people, the businesses had faded and crumbled, so that the few who found themselves there had less and less places to stop. The stretches became less well-tended, the places where one could leave more often locked, and monsters who had faded from memory crept back towards the pavement that had long been denied them. To set foot on the Lost Road, now, was to risk truly stepping out of the world forever. And it was only getting worse.

  5. The hardest part about reviving the blue whale species is that, with so few of them left in a huge ocean, the surviving whales just can’t find each other to mate. Tell the story of a whale (either sex) looking for a mate in these conditions.

    • He had been swimming for a long time, alone. When he had been young, there had been other whales around, other bulls, and females for the asking. When he had been young, he had thought it would be like that forever, another whale just a click-ping away, another female for the asking, another bull to play-fight with. But they had died, or gone, or found warmer waters, and he was still here. He swam, click-pinging out, searching for a female, for someone with whom to make more little whales to swim with, finding nothing but dolphins and sharks and endless fish, steel-skins floating on the water and swimming in it. He tangled with a squid, once, lonely for the play-fights of his youth, but the squid didn’t understand the game, and swam away in a puddle of ink. He tried talking to the smaller whales, but they were not interested in him, and, when it came down to it, he wasn’t interested in them. They were whales, true, but only in name, tiny things not really worth his time. The oceans were wide and endless, and it felt as if he had swum all of them, circling in long seasonal swoops, pin-clicking out, calling for a female, even for bull, for someone to talk to. He click-pinged until he was certain there was not another whale out there, not another anywhere in the vast oceans. And then, the faintest echo, the faintest suggest of a click.

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