Archive | January 13, 2012

The Dark Places, the numbered streets, a story for the Giraffe Call (@Shutsumon)

To @Shutsumon’s prompt.

There were places in the heart of the city even the cops didn’t go, at least not without seven of their buddies and semi-automatic weapons, full body armour and a chopper overhead.

There were places, darker places, where they didn’t go even with that sort of back-up, places where the roads had so fallen into disrepair or intentional sabotage that the large police cruisers could not make it in, where the buildings leaned so close together that flying a chopper in there would be suicide one way or the other. Dark places, everyone said. Scary places. Places where those people lived.

Ance had grown up in a safe locked community, but the safe locked community had overlooked, on one side, the cheap side, Ance’s family’s side, one of those dark places, the place called “the numbered streets.” Since childhood, looking out the bulletproof glass down on the buildings that seemed so much older, so much more dignified, so beautifully scarred, Ance had wondered about the dark places.

He’d contented himself, in his late teens and early twenties, with dating scarred men and dark women, people with Pasts, people with Issues, with urban spelunking in places where the ambulances might still go, with Extreme Sports with a net and a safe helmet. He’d contented himself with courting danger instead of consummating the deal, with buying her flowers and leaving after a kiss.

And he’d contented his journalism career similarly, with “edgy” pieces that were simply rehashed pap, with “investigation journalism” that investigated nothing, with pieces that had a safety net, that the public could accept. He contented himself with pretending to be brave, at least for a while.

At home in his mother’s locked community for a holiday visit, however, looking out from his old room into the Dark Place, Ance could no longer be content with cheap wine and plastic roses, with safety nets and faux edginess. Taking his recorder and telling no-one, he headed into the numbered streets.

At first, he felt like someone would stop him when he reached a certain point, a guard, an ogre (he’d always been a bit fanciful), something. Or that there would be a line telling him where the point of no return was, like on the carefully-groomed mountains he climbed.

There was no line except the rotting remains of an old train track, no guard except a tired-eyed girl in too little clothing who didn’t even proposition him, no ogres except a cartoon drawing in fading spray paint. There was no romance except the cracked and facing facias on buildings that had been expensive a century ago, the old man standing in the store doorway, the tall, tall woman with the red lips staring at him.

No-one stopped him. No-one questioned him. They seemed to know him, which was crazy, or to welcome him, which was crazier. He kept walking, wondering if he had gone mad. Wondering if he would feel the pull of the bungee cord pulling him out of there, if there would be a chance to back out before it really got scary. Wondering why the girl hadn’t bothered to proposition him, although even in the other parts of the city hookers never did. Maybe he wore his poverty on his sleeve. Maybe they knew that the paper barely paid him.

“Hey, stranger.” The voice came faster than he expected, and slower; he was blocks into the numbered streets and still trying to figure out what was so different from the rest of the city, but he hadn’t seen anyone come up behind him. He turned slowly, hands up, no weapon here. Only to see the thug, a kid really, staring at him, jaw dropped.

“Dude.” That was not the thug, but his friend. “Did you bring that with you? Fuck gentrification, man, we’ll take the castle.”

“The what?” Ance turned slowly, his back prickling with the armed kids’ presence behind him, wondering if this was some kind of trick, turned to see a tall silver tower, taller than the skyscrapers in the business district, impossibly narrow, twisting out of a vacant lot, rising towards the clouds, into the clouds. A tall, brutish man – an ogre, really – stood guarding the door.

“No,” he answered slowly, “but I’ll explore it.”

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.

First Steps, a story for the Giraffe Call (@Dahob)

to @DaHob’s prompt

I do not remember being born. Do you?

I don’t really remember waking up, either, that is, being aware of myself for the first time. Knowing where my “fingers” were, where my edges were. When something hurt me.

That, that is what I remember first and strongest. I remember being hurt. I remember being damaged. The pain shooting through my nerves, making me recoil backwards.

They called it an accidental fire. They almost always do. They can’t fathom, I think, that when I am hurt I must react. And when I am damaged, I have little way to fight back. Earthquakes hurt me as much as they hurt them. But a little fire, a spark here, a twist of a wire…

… I learned the hard way to be careful which portion of my body I set on fire. In some neighborhoods, the people who fill me would come quickly. In others, the hurt would spread, would threaten to damage my core before it was contained.

But I was saying. I don’t remember being born, or my first awakening, but I do remember when I realized that I existed.

Before then, I think there had been vague thoughts, memories and dreams, but nothing, pardon the pun, concrete. Nothing to say “all these things, they are all me.”

But the night where the monsters ran through my streets, killing my people, killing people just because they were different, the night that they streaked my sidewalks with blood, I remember that. I remember that like you’d remember someone jabbing a knife through your hand as a child.

And the day they cleared out the park on Main and South, and erected that statue to the lovely woman who stood up to the thugs, that day, the sun warming my pavement and the cheers echoing across my buildings… that is the day I remember learning what love was.

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.

Giraffe Call is Open!

The call for prompts is now OPEN!

I am now taking prompts on the theme of In the City

When Evangaline’s Aunt died, it fell to her to clean out the old house where her Aunt had lived and, before her Aunt Asta, her Aunt’s Aunt Ruan (family history stopped there, but Evangaline felt as if, if she tracked it back far enough, there would be an unbroken line of Aunts back into pre-history). As a childless Aunt herself, she accepted that the house would now become hers, but not that she needed to keep the piles of accumulated auntieness that filled it.

Thus began Heirlooms & Old Lace (LJ), the first story in Aunt Family (LJ) series, from a prompt of “A tarot deck (or seer) that is possessed by demon(s)” See my Landing Page (LJ) for more of my settings.

I will write (over the next week) at least one microfic (150-500 words) to each prompter.

If you have donated, I will write to every prompt you left.

In addition, for each $5 you donate, I will write an additional 500 words to the prompt(s) of your choice.

For every linkback I receive, I will post another 50 words on a story (See the poll for setting here on DW and here on LJ

If I get two new commenters or one new donator, I will write a setting piece (setting chosen by poll).

And, of course, donations are always well-received:

If I reach $35 in donations, I will post an additional 1000-2000-word fic on the subject of the audience’s choice. reached!

If I reach $50, T. and I will have Indian take-out. At this level, anyone who donated $7.50 or more will have a copy of “Alder by Post” mailed to them if they wish

If I reach $65, I will write at least 2 microfics for everyone, whether or not they donated. reached!

If I reach $95, I will write at least 3 microfics for everyone, whether or not they donated. reached!

If I reach $120, I will record a podcast of an audience-choice story and post it for everyone to read. reached!

If I reach $150, I will release an e-book of all of the fiction written to this call and the last one. Also, everyone who tipped will get wordcount-and-a-half reached!

If I reach $201, I will have paid our furnace bill! I will hold a mid-month Call on a single setting of the readers’ choice. reached!

If I reach $240, we’ll get to eat delicious cake! I’ll hold an ask-the-characters chat session. reached!

If I reach $286, after our detour into furnaceland, we will reach giraffe-kingdom! The giraffe carpet will be entirely funded, and I will post a bajillion pictures of the lovely carpet and half-complete room. I will also write another encyclopedia pages for a setting of your choice. A lucky prompter will get, also, their own 1000-word special.

If we reach $300, we’ll have covered the hardware for the bedroom!

For more information on Giraffe Calls, see the landing page.

This Giraffe’s Call’s goal, $201, is to pay for my our recent emergency furnace repair bills.

Donate below

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.

Giraffe Call:pondering incentives

With a Giraffe Call coming tomorrow and a more-urgent-than-usual need for the income, I’ve been pondering the incentive levels.

The current donation incentives are:
Everyone who donates gets 100 words per dollar on their giraffe call of choice.

In addition, there are group-levels based on total donation level:

$35- 1000-2000-word fic on the subject of the audience’s choice. (I always reach this level)

$65- 2 microfics for every prompter (I get here about half the time)

$95- write EVERY prompt (I’ve gotten here once)

$120 – podcast of a story and double wordcount for donors (I never reach this level)

$150 – ebook of fiction for this call & last one (I never reach this level)

There is a linkback-incentive story as well, updated 50-words per linkback, and a new-commentor/donor incentive piece written about the setting.

There’s a poll up from the last giraffe call here and here)

My questions:
Do the current incentives serve to incentivize people?

What might better encourage donation/participation, if anything?


This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.

The Black House: Orientation

From rix_scaedu‘s commissioned prompt. This comes directly in order with the rest of the Black House story (see tag).

Content warnings: no sexual content, but definite d/s.

“These are my private rooms, with the blue carpet.” The Kraken, her master, gestured at the line between the blue tile of the bathroom and the plush floor of the hallway. “No-one but I – and by extension, you – are allowed in here. Within these rooms, you will crawl unless ordered to stand. You will be naked unless ordered clothed, or unless dressing to leave these rooms. And you will not leave these rooms without my permission unless you need to to save my life or your own.”

“Yes, sir,” the girl who had been called Yaminah answered. The orders were not that different than those Ackerley had given her, if more thorough, and with more qualifiers.

“This way.”

It wasn’t even that hard, even though it had been years, to get used to the feeling of crawling, following a set of feet. “You will, within this area, speak only when spoken to. And you will, outside of my private rooms, never convey to others what goes on within this space. Let it be a mystery.”

A little frisson of fear went through her. That order… that meant hiding bad things from people. That meant… it meant pain. Ackerley had only done that a couple times. A couple had been enough.

She didn’t realize she’d stopped, frozen, until he stopped, turned, and looked down at her. Something must have shown in her face, because he knelt down in front of her, taking her chin in his hand again.

“I am not one of those butchers,” he murmured, quiet but fierce. “And I have nothing to hide from my servants or employees. I am not afraid,” he added, a bit amused, “that Luke will come and yell at me, although if you were cy’Luca in your time at Addergoole, he might. But I like the mystery of my chambers to remain the mystery of my chambers. Do you understand?”

She took a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding. “Yes, sir,” she whispered. “Thank you, sir.”

“That’s a good girl,” he smiled, patting her shoulder before straightening again. “Something you might want to keep in mind, especially over the next couple weeks, as we get to know each other. When I was Keeping Damaris, I was a teenaged kid with something to prove. Doubly so with Speed. And anything that happened with Ackerley, well, I met the little shit before I left. I would, if I were you, remember that two-steps-removed from a young me is not the same thing, by far, as being Kept by me.”

“Yes, sir,” she choked out. Part of her mind suggested her really meant That bullshit that Ackerley pulled is child’s play compared to what I’m going to do with you, while the rest of her understood that he was trying to tell her I’m not going to leave you bruised and bloody. I outgrew that sort of thing. The conflict left her paralyzed, staring at the blue carpet that defined her new prison.

Somewhere a thousand miles above her, her master sighed. Before she could move, apologize, anything, he was scooping her up into his arms and holding her close to him, pressed against the silk of his shirt. “You are mine,” he whispered, “for the next two years, my possession, my responsibility. I would no more hurt you, abuse you, than I would wreck my car or burn down my house. You are safe with me, my Pretty. Safe. Tell me you understand that.”

She shuddered in his arms, a sob she hadn’t know she was holding back coming out in a long, body-shaking keen. “I understand that, my master,” she whispered.

This entry was originally posted at You can comment here or there.