Archive | March 4, 2012

In the Cards

For [personal profile] lilfluff‘s commissioned Prompt.

Evangaline modern-era. After Unexpected Guest and Followed Me Home (LJ)

Eva tried not to have any expectations or hopes about Robby being there the next morning.

She did, however, do a little research, sending out e-mails to cousins, nieces, and nephews of about the right age, until she got back an answer: Robert Thompson, lived about two miles down the street. He was a senior at Chalcedony’s school, not a great student but not a bad student, rode the bus with the family kids. He was, Chalce said, a stoner, a burnout.

He was, Stone said, a kid with a problem.

He was, Beryl said, “Interesting :x”

Eva took in those answers, and the answers from several other relatives, and slept on them, confident that a teenaged kid was not going to stab her in her sleep and was, in this case, pretty unlikely to steal anything important.

She didn’t discount the idea that he might actually be a demon, but if that were the case, the secondary wards would kick in if he tried to enter her house and either he, the wards, or the house would light on fire.

(Which could, of course, be why he didn’t want to come in her house, or it could be a new rumour about The Witch’s House that hadn’t gotten to her yet. Or just some parental rule or law she was also ignorant of).

She slept on it, thinking about what Fallon had written about Mr. Thompson.

In the morning, the whisps of dreams still teasing at the edges of her consciousness, she drew one card from the special Tarot, and studied it, wondering at the draw she felt.

Five five-pointed stars, etched over a stone, stared back at her. Rain fell on the stone, which looked disturbingly like a grave-marker. The sky was grey and bleak.

“Wonderful,” she told the card. “I knew that already.”

The deck slipped out of her hand, another card crossing the five of pentacles: A regal woman, her crown a slim diadem. She looked, Eva thought, much like old photos of the Aunts.

“More interesting. Thank you.” She pricked her finger, feeding the deck a drop of blood, and headed down the stairs.

Before she looked, she started breakfast. It gave her some time to clear her brain, to think about the mundanities of the situation. There might be a teenaged runaway in her Florida room. If there was, his mother had died a year ago. And his father was not known as the most pleasant man in the world.

With each thought, she added ingredients to the pancake batter. Pinch of soda, dash of seltzer water. Vanilla. Extra sugar, just a tad.

Beryl thought he was interesting-with-a-emoticon. But Chalce just thought he was a stoner. He had come to her barn, but he wouldn’t come into her house. Buttermilk, walnuts, eggs, flour. He knew she was a witch. But that was common gossip – and he thought of witches like Hallowe’en, still. Tiny pinch of salt.

And the Cards had given her an extra message. That bore thought. She poured the pancakes on the griddle, and wondered if he was even still out there.

Next: Big Bad Witch (LJ)

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The Governors, a continuation of the Unicorn/Factory for the January Giraffe Call

After The Grey Line (lj) and Productive, for [personal profile] anke‘s commissioned Prompt. Part Two of ??

Unicorn Factory has a landing page here on DW and here on LJ

“Ah, Antheri,” Giulian sighed. “It is sad but unsurprising that you think me a fool.” He could feel the foal’s presence near his ankles, but he needed to ignore that for a moment. “It is entirely unsurprising,” he repeated, moving slowly towards the man. “After all, so many of my predecessors have, clearly, been fools.”

“All of them! Even you! Soft! Unwilling to do what was needed! Unwilling to see what it was that had to be done! They are always asking, always writing, always peeking,” he gibbered, “those in the City, the owners of the factory, the bosses, the governors. They demand progress! They demand productivity! And you Administrators, every one of you, fools, blind sheep to be steered by whoever whined last!”

“No.” As long as he kept the man talking, he was unlikely to be shot. Giulian did not want to be shot today. “My position is to stand between the unreasonable demands of the governors and the unreasonable demands of the workers and find the balance that keeps everything working.”

“Your position,” the man sputtered. “Your position? What do you know of your position? Have you ever met the governors? Have you ever stood in a room with them for more than ten minutes? Have you ever tried to answer their questions? Have you ever disappointed them?”

It was a strange question. “No,” Giulian answered, wondering at the man’s grip on reality. “I was hired through the agent that worked with my previous posting. As were you. As was every Administrator and bureaucrat here. What are you on about, man?”

“The governors,” Antheri hissed. “The governors. Their eyes. Always watching. Always judging. And you, all you fools, all you damn fool Administrators, getting in the way, worried about the people, worried about the river. The river will be cleaned. The river will trickle through the fields and lose its taint. The people will live, or they will die, and there will be more. But the governors, Administrator, the governors. Their will is all that matters, irrational demands or not. Their will is All. That. Matters.” He jabbed the gun into Giulian’s stomach with each word, his eyes even wilder, spittle flying from his mouth.

And, finally, the guards stepped in, large, sturdy men Giulian had hired when the death of his predecessors began to look suspicious. They grabbed Antheri from behind, wrestling the gun from him.

“It is becoming clear,” Giulian told him, speaking loudly to be heard over the man’s incoherent screams, “that you have been affected by the stresses of the job and the crowded conditions of the Town and need a respite, likely in a quiet place off in the mountains. I will see to your transport there, Antheri, and go about the work of training your replacement.”

It wasn’t a quote so much as it was a compilation of Antheri’s reports on Giulian’s predecessors, but it was clear that the words got through to the man. He stiffened, a slow, mad smile crossing his lips.

“Then the governors will be yours to deal with. I wish you the pleasure of them, Administrator, you fool. I wish you the pleasure of them.”

Next: Right and Wrong

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Poision, a story of the Bug Invasion for the Feb. Giraffe Call

For YsabetWordsmith‘s prompt,

Out of Their Minds (LJ)
All in Your Head (LJ), after
From the moment they breathed our air (Lj) after: Staying in the City (LJ) and Spooks vs. Bugs (DW)

Paula moved among the surviving bug-hosts, those that were still hosting a symbiote, those that were either too stable or too gone to reject their rider, those who simply didn’t want to, those who couldn’t bring themselves to kill another living being, even if it had taken over part of their mind.

There weren’t many left, fifteen of them out of two hundred in this camp, maybe more, in other camps. Her symbiote had stopped talking to her. She was pretty sure it was angry. But it gave her, still, these half-hours at a time when she was still herself, and she took every minute of them.

She sat down next to Fallon, who had found another bottle of vodka somewhere and was nursing it quietly. He blinked at her, human eyes replaced by bug pupils, and the bug belched and giggled.

“This stuffff,” it chittered in Fallon’s voice. “You humans. You humans, this stufffff, you poison-on-on yourselves so nicely. You poison yourselves so many waysss. How? How-how-why?”

It had asked that before. She had answered before. This time, instead, she handed it a cup of thick hot chocolate, the best she could find. “This,” she told the bug in Fallon’s body, “this thing is poison in large doses. Chocolate. Cacao. It’s a stimulant, among other things.”

Fallon’s shaking hand took the drink, while the bug’s eyes watched her. “It is good?”

“It is wonderful,” she assured it. “We poison ourselves, my friend, because it feels good. Because we can. Because we are allowed to do what we want to our bodies, and revel in that.”

Her half hour was nearly up; she could feel the presence of her symbiote crowding in on her consciousness. She took the bottle from Fallon and swallowed down a long burning gulp. “We poison ourselves…”

The symbiote took over “…becaussse their bodies are wired to accept it as good. These creatures. These creatures.”

“These creatures,” Fallon’s bug agreed drunkenly. “They cannot be defeated. Their biology has already done that.”

In the back of her own mind, forced into silence, Paula giggled. How little they understood.

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Trusting in History, a finale of Fae Apoc for the Jan. Giraffe Call (@inventrix)

Scrounging for History (LJ)
Digging through History (LJ)
Delving in History (LJ)
Bringing Home History (LJ)
Singing down History (LJ)
Learning of History (LJ
Getting over History (LJ)
Making New History (LJ)
Part 7.5 of 7.5

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

The Nightwalker led them through the ruins of the city, her tail swishing, her whole body leaned forward. “There’s a few,” she told them, “places that never got touched, places that are almost whole, even now. There’s a few that look whole, that are traps. And there’s gardens, still growing. My gardens, now.” She ducked, almost a bow, almost an apology. “Our gardens?”

“You called us correctly,” Dor replied. He was still angry, still distrusting her. Karida couldn’t blame her. “We are scroungers. We don’t plant gardens.”

“Then whose gardens will they be? If we go… you could stay here, you three and the girl, and teach me. You could stay here, and I could feed you. Show you everything I know of this place.”

She turned to look at them, a hungry look on her face, a smile that told Karida that something was seriously wrong. “And if the land betrays you, then, I have not betrayed nor hurt you, have I?”

That was all the warning they had. Karida felt the place the road below their feet would collapse as the witch said that, felt it and threw Amalie out of danger, into Dor so they both fell clear, even as under her the ground collapsed dropping her into a sinkhole, dropping her down, down, down. She twisted, trying to find up from down, trying to land on her feet, and caught her head on something hard and metal.

She lost consciousness still falling, and never felt the impact.


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For [personal profile] lilfluff‘s prompt, combined with [personal profile] wyld_dandelyon‘s prompt.

“I think I’ve figured it out!” Jason looked up from his table excitedly, a “eureka” sort of expression taking over his whole body. “Cara, Alex, check this out!”

Cara, who was knee-deep in bioengineering a slow, undetectable poison that would take ten or fifteen years to kill the target, and Alex, who was trying to come up with the truly irresistible scent, looked up at Jason impatiently. It was Liam, the team’s handler, who came over to Jason’s workstation.

“What is it, Jay?”

“I’ve gotten them to have retractable thorns!” He held up the length of rose stem, showing how, when he ran his hand over it, the thorns slid into the stem. “See: pet it the right way, no prickers. Pet it the wrong way;” he put on a glove and repeated it. “Bleeding all over the place.” The inch-long prickers ripped into the leather of his glove and held onto it; he pulled his hand out and let the roses keep the glove.

“Why not just make them prickerless?” Liam shook his head. Jason had a brilliant mint – one time out of ten. It was just a matter of directing him.

“Anyone can make a rose without thorns. Mine, mine only prick people who don’t know their secret. See?” He pointed to the tall hedge of them, growing around an arbor in his controlled space, the flowers a melange of rainbow colors.

Liam stared. “Jay, those are the fanciest colors I have ever seen on a rose.”

“I know,” the scientist sighed. “That, and sometimes they bite people. I haven’t figured out how to deal with that yet.”

“Forget the biting,” Liam commanded. “Once they’re cut, they won’t be biting, and those colors – we can finance another base with that. Jason, you’re… oW! Your flowers stung me!” He swayed a bit. “Jason, what’s..”

“They don’t like talking about being cut, Liam. And, ah, they’re a little bit venomous, too, but I don’t think it’s fatal. You should be okay in an hour or two.” Jason helped his boss into a chair. “I’m going to go plant these on my island now.”


The mad scientist smiled crookedly. “Well, it’s going to be my island, at least.”

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