Archive | March 8, 2012

Family Vintage, a story of Fae Apoc for the Giraffe Call @anke

For [personal profile] anke‘s prompt. Faerie Apocalypse has a landing page here here (and on LJ).

After On the River

The current owner of the house Gannon had built was a handsome man, except his family resemblance to Gannon, with a lovely wife and two teenaged children. He was, as most of Gannon’s descendants were, willing to open up his house – borrowed house, he called it, which was kind – to his ancestor.

And, unlike many of his ancestors – they’d known better, Gannon thought with wry amusement – this one, Steve, was willing to open his liquor cabinet and his wine cellar, too, once the kids were sent upstairs.

He pulled out a case of wine so old, the crate itself was fading and the flag only had thirteen stars. “Do you remember this?”

Gannon squinted at it. “Damn, damn, just barely, but I do. I brought that back to… to my granddaughter. Bramble. I wonder where she is now.”

“Me, too,” Steve admitted. “Grandma Bramble stopped by once, when I was about eight. She’s less regular than you are, I’m told.” He pulled out a bottle. “Three left. Seems an occasion to open one.”

“It must be weird,” Gannon commented, as Steve’s wife Phen opened the bottle with an expert twist, “being haunted by your ancestors still living.”

“I always figured it was the curse of being Ellehemaei?” Steve shrugged. He held out three glasses in two hands for his wife to pour, a comfortable, easy partnership clear in their movements. “I mean, isn’t it?”

Gannon shrugged, staring at the old crate of wine. “There was a whole box there, when I dragged that back here.” He didn’t want to think about the family that had kicked him out, so long ago that the land they sent him to barely had a name.

“Yeah.” Steve grinned. “It’s pretty awesome stuff, so it’s been, I’m told, special-occasion wine. Really special occasion. So we don’t break it out often.”

He sniffed the wine. It smelled as good as he remembered, and better. The vintner, he remembered the vintner, half grapevine herself. He wondered if he had any kids with her.

He sipped again. “I’ve visited before.” They’d never opened out the old stuff before… although it had been Steve’s father, or his great-grandfather, before.

But Steve was just grinning. “Never in time to witness the birth of a grandchild.”

Gannon sputtered, and then, staring at them, drank the wine. It really was a good vintage, after all.

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Backpack Gremlins, a drabble of Dragons Next Door

A much-belated 100 words on the Gremlins mentioned here for [personal profile] kelkyag

Guarding a kid’s backpack was, Azdemkious had to admit, easy work, if a little strange.

Az and Kelkathian had drawn backpack duty this week, trailing Sage’s daughter Junie to school and back, watching her, monkey-wrenching anyone who was stalking her – and there were at least three distinct teams doing so, that Az and Kel had found.

It was, as backpacks went, a nice one. Az had done a stint in WWII in a G.I.’s backpack – now THAT had been a mess. Some sandwich crumbs and a spare long, pointy stick were nothing compared to the places Az’d been.


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Still, a story for my Mother

The forest was still that day.

Not silent; the world was never, no matter what the city-born would have you believe, silent. The trees made their own noise, the animals theirs, the insects their own. The light breeze touched them all, and the hint of rain brushed over them. Quiet, yes, by the standards of the city’s cacophony, but never silent.

But still… that, the forest was. The wind did not rock anything but the smallest twigs. The earth did not shake or shift. The trees stood, as they had stood for aeons, as they would continue to stand, still, when everything else had fallen.

The trees were still there. Still there, much the same they had been when she was a child. Still taller than her, when everyone else had grown short. Still wide enough that she couldn’t wrap her arms around the biggest of them, when sometimes it seemed as if she was holding onto everything. Still quiet, if not silent, and still standing, strong enough to hold her when she leaned, strong enough to cradle her in their branches.

She leaned against Grandmother Oak, the oldest, the quietest, the still-est in all its meanings. She had never failed to find peace here. She had never failed to find strength in the old tree’s solidity, never failed to find a moment of quiet and relaxation leaning against her smooth bark.

And today, today in the quiet of the peaceful day, far from the noise of the city, she did so, again. Still.

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Roses, a story of Stranded World for the Giraffe Call (@inventrix)

For [personal profile] inventrix‘s prompt.

This comes after South Like Medea’s Toga and Horse’s Mouth and before Fishing.

Stranded World has a landing page here.

“Well, according to Wikipedia, a violet rose means love at first sight. The other websites seem to agree.” Kirstin frowned at her laptop, and then back at the flower. “You got a love at first sight rose from a secret admirer.”

“What’s going on?” Basil stuck his head in the door. “Ooh, nice flower, Sum. Finally over Brigit?”

“Someone thinks I am,” Summer answers. “Or thinks I ought to be, since they clearly have an intention.”

“No name?” Basil shrugged. “Stick it in a vase and call it good. If they want you to know, they’ll tell you eventually.”

“When did you turn into a pragmatist?” Kirstin complained.

“After Kim,” he answered shortly. They changed the subject, Summer dropped the rose in a vase, and they moved on with their day.

…until the blue rose showed up the next day, and Kirstin opened up her laptop again.

“Mystery. No, really? And the unattainable? So he’s in love with you but can’t have you? Well, not if he doesn’t say anything.”

“He will,” Basil grumbled. “Dinner?”

By the third day, Basil was glaring daggers at the flower. “He wants to take you to St. Patty’s day? He’s a bit early.”

“Green, green. Abundance, fertility, and envy. I’m not sure I like this guy, Sum,” Kirstin complained.

“I think it’s sort of sweet.” She added the green one to the vase with the blue and purple, and moved on with her day.

None of them were surprised by the yellow rose on Friday – wealth and success, Kirstin read, which Basil snorted at.

“He loves you, can’t have you, wants to knock you up and make you rich. Sounds like every sweet-talker everywhere, but this one can’t even be arsed to write you a poem.”

Summer silently vowed to kick Kim’s perfect ass, and went to dinner.

Saturday’s orange rose appeared to mean “desire and passion,” which, as Kirstin pointed out, they’d probably already figured out by now. Summer came up with a bigger vase, and arrayed the flowers in order.

She didn’t leave her room Sunday morning, but a red rose still mysteriously appeared, hanging in a bag on her doorknob. As they studied the array of flowers, Basil laughed shortly.

“She loves you gayly, maybe?”

Staring at the rainbow, and the pride flag hung behind it, Summer had to laugh.

“I guess she does. Okay, that wins.”

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PSA: Open for business. :-)

It occurred to me that I had never said so explicitly, so I am saying it explicitly:

I can be commissioned at any time to continue any piece of fiction, or to write any new piece of fiction for you.

My non-giraffe-call rates are $5 for each 300 words. We can, if need be, discuss rights to any piece commissioned, but otherwise I retain e- and print- publication rights.

No money? I can also be bribed with character art, for which I have an inordinate fondness bordering on addiction. Contact me to work out a reasonable rate.

No art skills either? Contact me. We can work something out!

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Right and Wrong, , a continuation of the Unicorn/Factory for the January Giraffe Call (@anke)

After The Grey Line (lj), Productive, and The Governors (LJ), for [personal profile] anke‘s commissioned Prompt.

Part Three of Three

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

Antheri’s desk was somewhere between a mess ans a complete loss. The man had kept everything visible so tidy, Guilian had, naturally, he thought, assumed that the files would be just as orderly.

But the employee files, the production notes, the construction plans, the purchasing and selling paperwork, all of it was jammed haphazardly into cabinets, with labels that made no sense: “Castorry,” “Engaran,” “Tibinibit,” and so on, all in Antheri’s careful copperplate.

It was young Santha, Myrlo the engineer’s daughter, who suggested they could be names. “You said,” she suggested, when he conscripted her to help him sort out the mess, “that he’d been screaming about the governors?”

“He had,” Guilian agreed. That had been bothering him more and more. How long had Antheri been going mad? Worse… had it all been madness?

“Maybe these are the names he thought the governors were called? I heard him, sometimes, muttering to himself,” she added, “and sometimes he’d call me in to take dictation… here.” She pulled out a wide folder full of very tidy notes. “These are mine. I don’t think they make any sense, but they are at least legible.”

He noted that, unlike many of the workers, Santha seemed neither fascinated by or bothered by the young unicorn foal that was still following him around; she fed it, like one would any pet or working animal, and otherwise left it alone. She had come highly recommended as a practical, level-headed young woman, but her reaction to the unicorn made him wonder.

“Do you see it?” he asked, apropos to nothing, as they were still looking at her file of notes.

She was either used to dealing with strange comments out of nowhere, working with Antheri as she had, or she was used to oblique references to unicorns, living in the Town as she did. “I do,” she admitted. “It’s very pretty, but the unicorns frighten me.”

“And why’s that?” he asked, trying to be gentle. The unicorns had frightened Antheri, too.

She looked up at him, meeting his eyes with her own sky-blue gaze. She had, the Administrator was startled to realize, a very piercing, uncomfortable gaze.

“My mother was from a Village, Administrator. The unicorns… they purify the water, of course. But everything has a price.” She took the folder back from him, and flipped through the notes. “Here. Read this. Antheri might be mad, but there were things he understood very well.”

Guilian sat down at his former assistant’s desk and began reading. After a while, he looked up, to find Santha still tidying papers into files, and still watching him. “If a third of this is true…”

“At least a third of it is true,” she confirmed quietly. “Why do you think the Villages hate the town?”

“I don’t know, I thought, the pollution, the people we steal for the factory…”

“All that. All that and everything else,” she murmured. “But what choice does the Town have?”

“Antheri thought none.” He studied the notes. “He thought the governors…”

“Yes. He thought that they demanded sacrifice. And he believed that they would take a higher toll if he didn’t give them what they wanted.”

“And he was right about the unicorns.”

“And he was right about the unicorns,” she agreed. Her eyes seemed to be boring through him.

“What if,” Guilian whispered, “he was right about everything?”

Next: Cleaning House

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