Archive | January 30, 2012

The Dark of the City, a story of the Cracks for the Giraffe Call

For [personal profile] kay_brooke‘s prompt

The city always looked its best at night, or in the fresh near-dawn just after a rain. The lights dimmed all the rough edges, and made what looked grubby in daylight look romantic, noir, cheerful. In the daytime, the city looked run-down, grubby, like its denizens, past its prime. But like the hookers and hustlers, the nighttime added a shine to everything.

Lane walked down the South Street at midnight, nevermind which of those categories might fit the tight leather pants and tighter tank top, breathing in the smoke-tainted air, feeling the city lights against bare shoulders. The world was beautiful, for a certain definition. The world was certainly better than during the daylight. Times like this, you could believe in a little magic. Times like this, the world covered up its gritty parts for you, made itself into a story.

“Hey, you. I’ve got thirty dollars if you’ve got five minutes.”

The voice was greasy and slick, coming from a dark alley. Not the sort of place Lane liked to go. “Not here. Not there, for sure. Down by Lauren Park. In the light.”

“Heh, kid, not everyone likes the light. Come on, my money’s as good as anyone’s.”

“I don’t do creeps, spooks, cops, or monsters,” Lane answered shortly. “And if you’re hiding in a shadow, I can’t tell which of those you might be.”

“Only way to get the money.”

“I’m not a junkie.” Anymore. “I’m not that hard up for cash.”

“Pity,” the voice glorped. “We’re going to have to do this the hard way.”

Lane had started running at “Pity.” By then, it was too late. Something was already grabbing, pulling, tugging.

“Shit, shit, shit.” Tripped, elbows scraping across the pavement, scrabbling for any sort of purchase, Lane gave in to the small bomb of magic living deep inside. “I don’t do fucking goblins, either!”

The world exploded in a blast of light, a tiny sun, followed by a long splash of water, flooding the streets, washing away all the … filth… Lane stood up, looking around in the sparkling air. The city was always its best just before the dawn, just after a rainfall. Times like that, you could believe in a little magic.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/250134.html. You can comment here or there.

Home to Pixie Town

For Friendly Anonymous’ prompt.

Dragons Next Door has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

Passiansi was going home for the summer, which was just about forever in pixie years, but her mother had insisted, and her father had shaken his fist, and that had been it; Passiansi was packed up and shipped out Home.

Never mind that she had been born in the Big City and lived her whole life in Smokey Knoll, and her parents and their parents before them; never mind that “Home” hadn’t been home for their line of pixies in fifty years or more, sometime around their fifth birthday, the summer before they were officially adults, the family decreed that every young pixie had to visit Home, the pixie city down in the southlands.

The twelve-hour bus ride – the bus driver seemed uncertain about having a pixie on the greyhound, but shrugged and took her full-price ticket. “You paid for a full seat, you get it,” the rotund human – or maybe an ogre – had declared, and Passiansi had rode the twelve-hour drive in absolute luxury – dropped her off at an elaborate gate, huge by pixie standards but, to a girl who’d gone to a human school her whole life, not all that impressive. It wasn’t even as big as the school doors.

But it was where she was going, so she flew through it. So this was Home, then? Tiny, with aspirations to some sort of Big-ness? Hidden off the side of the highway where humans wouldn’t even notice it? A doorway between two stone walls?

She hit the shimmering line of the glamour, and was knocked backwards, nearly falling back out of the doorway. “Woah.” She hovered in place, trying to take it all in. It was a carnival and a madhouse and an explosion all rolled up into one, the buildings climbing up into the sky, stacked on top of each other like Christmas presents, the roadways sometimes just tunnels, sometimes nearly as broad as a human street. And in the streets, in little floating carts – how did they get them to float?! Were they hanging from wires? How did it all work – were pixies of every color selling what looked like just about everything.

Passiansi felt for the pocket-full of pixie cash her grandmother had handed her. “You’ll need this to get down the rue-rue,” she’d told her. “Save the rest for later.” Feeling its hard jingle, seeing the thousand beautiful carts, Passi was sure it wouldn’t be weighing her down long.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/250013.html. You can comment here or there.

Nice Guys

To Anonymous’ commissioned prompt, a continuation of this story (and on LJ).

Addergoole has a landing page here and on LJ.

Calvin had seemed like such a nice guy.

Looking at him now, from the safety of Arundel’s arms, Timora wasn’t certain anymore. Sure, he’d taken an interest in her, when no-one else had, but here he was standing there next to Tiggs, staring at her, and claiming she was his. Arundel had said he was too late. Too late? That seemed like a strange thing to say.

“Is that right?” Calvin seemed to agree with her on that, at least. “Is the ickle bird-boy right about that one, Timmy? Is he too late?”

He was probably waiting to trap you. Looking at him standing next to Tiggs, it seemed more than a bit likely.

“I really liked you,” she told him, wincing as her voice came out like a slow-speed car crash, then wincing again as he – and Tiggs, and Porter – took an involuntary step backwards.

“I like you, Timmy, that’s why you’re going to be mine. Quietly. Right?”

“I told you, Calvin, you’re too late. Leave her alone.” Arunde’s voice was louder and more high-pitched, and his wings were spreading to fill the hall.

“You couldn’t keep her if you tried, junior. Hand her over now and no-one gets hurt.”

Keep. Mine. Timora shook her head. “I’m not yours, Calvin.” Her voice was getting more level, but it still sounded like tortured metal. “Stop it.”

Calvin was loosing his cool. “Well, this little shit can’t keep you. How’s he going to protect you?”

That was the second time in less than an hour someone had mentioned protecting her. “Porter, Arundel,” she whispered.

Porter was quick on the uptake and covered his ears. Arundel’s hands were busy holding her, but, on the other hand, he didn’t seem nearly as bothered by her voice as everyone else.

“You’re being silly, Timmy,” Calvin said, and then she screamed.

This time, she was paying attention. Even with his ears covered, Porter was wincing, walking backwards slowly away from her. Calvin and Tiggs, who were either slow, brave, or stupid, didn’t even try to cover their ears.

“Tim-” Calvin began, over the start of her scream, which only sounded like a three-car pileup running into a flock of eagles. She pushed a little more air into it,adding a semi truck full of upset canaries to the sound crash, and Calvin and Tiggs started running. She made it louder, as loud as she could go, and Porter tripped over his feet backing up, falling on his tail.

Arundel stood there, holding her, seeming hardly fazed at all.

She caught her breath and stopped, smiling at him, then a little more apologetically at Porter. “It really does work.”

“It does,” Porter agreed shakily. “Your speaking voice is still pretty…”

“Oh, yeah.” She clapped her hands over her mouth, abashed.

“It’s okay,” the tiger-man assured her. “Come on, buddy, let’s get her into the doctor’s. Do you think it’s your power, that’s why she doesn’t make you run?”

“I guess?” Having the person carrying you shrug was, Timora discovered, a rather strange sensation. Sort of like a very mellow roller-coaster. He looked down at her thoughtfully. “Everyone has a power,” he informed her. “Porter can make doors. Anywhere. It’s pretty awesome. Me? I’m fearless.”

She made a noise that she hoped was encouraging, and he grinned at her even more widely. “And you’re really pretty. Here, Doctor’s office. I think you’re fine, though. It’s not a bad Change.”

The nurse shooed them into an exam room, all three of them, although Porter stayed near the door, as if guarding their escape. Once in there, Arundel picked up as if he hadn’t stopped, not seeming to mind the one-sided conversation. “So yours seems to be… sort of…”

“Kelpie?” Porter offered. “Kelpie meets a banshee.”

Dr. Caitrin walking in stopped all speculation. “The tapes are very interesting. It’s going to take a while to get control of that, I think, Timora, so I’d ask you to be careful with your voice until then, all right? In the meantime…” She laid her hands on Timora’s ankles and began muttering under her breath. “Interesting.”

“Interesting?” Arundel asked. “I see hooves. And a tail, right?”

“Unsurprising, considering her ancestry. Yes. Yes. This is going to be an interesting Change, and I don’t believe it’s over yet. Are you Keeping her?”

“Ah. We need to talk about that.”

“Keeping?” Timora whispered. “Calvin…”

“Yeah,” Arundel muttered. “I’m not him.”

“Hrmph. Well, Timora, take these two pills. If you are in pain in the morning, come see me. In the meantime…” the doctor looked thoughtful. “I don’t normally suggest Keepings, but, if he thinks he can hack it, and you’re willing, Timora, considering your peculiar power, I’d consider Arundel.” She pressed the small blue pills into Timora’s hand and, on that very odd note, left, Porter following discretely behind her.

“Well.” The eagle-boy flared his wings uncomfortably. “I don’t want to pressure you into anything, I really don’t. But I was gonna offer…”

She looked up at him uncertainly. “If you’re the only person I can talk to without them running away…” she whispered.

“There is that, but that seems like a lousy reason to Keep someone. ‘Here, be Mine so you have someone to talk to.’” He shrugged again. “I’ve been watching you, and I like you.”

“You make it sound like stalking.” It was nice to be able to speak again without someone flinching. Then again, he’d started looking nervous.

“Well,” he squirmed, “kind of? I mean, everyone kind of stalks the new students around here. I guess I got stalked last year?”

Oh, he looked nervous because he was nervous, not because of her voice. Nervous of her? “Why are you all squirmy?” Lovely, she winced; that was exactly the way to get a guy to like her.

“Well, I don’t want you to think I’m a creep like Calvin. I mean, I guess I deserve it.”

“Did you set me up to get terrified and dragged around and what-have-you, Kepted?” she countered. Calvin had done that. Calvin who had seemed so nice. Arundel seemed nice, too.

“No? I mean, I just kind of tried to be where I thought he’d set you up, so I could rescue you. Well, Porter got there first…”

“Okay, that’s a little creepy,” she agreed. But… “Why?”

He folded his wings up uncertainly, hiding his head. “Because I like you.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/249760.html. You can comment here or there.

Down in the Dark, a story of faeApoc-postapoc for the Giraffe Call @clarekrmiller

For [personal profile] clare_dragonfly‘s prompt

Fae Apoc has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

We knew it was coming before it came.

That wasn’t prescience; ask anyone and they’ll tell you we have no fae in our group. Just a bunch of kids.

But our city was one of the last to get hit. I guess nobody wanted to claim to be god of Detroit (To be honest, this is what told me they weren’t like, real gods, or American-Gods gods. Detroit has deities. Ask anyone). So by the time the false gods started showing up, we all knew what was going to happen, and we were at least somewhat prepared.

Anyone who had a place to go, who could afford it, who had a way to leave, they’d already left. That left us. We couldn’t leave, our stupid rental was right in the monster’s path, and even if we had cars or bus fare, we had no-where to go.

On the other hand, we knew the stinking underbelly of this city like nobody’s business. So we packed up everything we could afford, and, when the faker gods finally showed up in Detroit, we went down. Into the sewers. Down into the forgotten passageways. Into the place where there had almost been a subway. Into the tunnels.

And there we have remained ever… okay, I can’t keep up the melodrama anymore. Yeah, we live down here. Not in the sewer proper, no. I mean, shit still rolls downhill, and people up there, what few there are left, still use their toilets. No, we’re over here, in what used to be a maintenance tunnel. We come up and scrounge in the daylight, and then, when the monsters are out, we come back down here.

It’s not much of a life, I’ll admit, but it’s a life, and it’s getting better every year. And we survived, which is more than anyone said we would, even before the war.

Not bad for a bunch of drop-outs and burn-outs, eh?

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/249572.html. You can comment here or there.