Archive | February 17, 2013

Even the Insect that Bites You, a story for the Giraffe Call

This was written to To [personal profile] sharpeningthebones‘s prompt(s).

“Everybody dance.”

The Ahme were a peaceful, happy people. Tonight, on the fullness of three moons, their music swirled over the forest.

“Everybody step, forward now, left foot out. Backward now, left foot in. That’s it, everybody dance.” The Ahme had taken the first opportunity to go into space, rough-colonizing instead of waiting for the full terraforming, accepting the steps backwards in technology, embracing them.

“Everybody back, bow to the fire, bow to your partner. All lovers dance. All lovers, swirl.” They were, as a culture, very happy, and very relaxed.

“That’s it, beloveds, twist around. Grab your partners, swing them down. All lovers dance, all lovers sing. Ah-neee-ah-ne. Ah-neeee-ah-ne.”

They never saw the Tovane coming.

“All the mothers dance, one foot, two feet. Spin around now, bow left, bow right. All moth…”

They were captured while they danced, chained, bound, and dragged off into the woods. They had not known there was another settlement on their planet.

They were horrified to find the train tracks, so close to their settlement that they could have walked to them, had they been inclined.

They sang on the train, because the Ahme would be happy. Ah-neee, ah-ja-neee, they sang, all are loved, all are under the moons.

They had assumed they had the planet to themselves. That they had companions was unexpected, but they would be happy. Ah-neee, ah-ja-neee. Ah-neee, jes-nur-nee. Even the insect that bites you is loved.

The Torvane locked them into concrete cells. “You will work, or you will starve.”

“Such is life,” the elder of the Ahme told them. “We will work. And we will sing.”

They sang while they toiled in the Torvane fields and factories. “Work, now, all lovers work. Press die down, press die up. Left hand out, all lovers work.”

They sang while they were locked into cells at night. “Sleep now, all children sleep. Ah-nee. Jes-nur-nee.”

“They sing love songs to their own shit,” the Torvane mocked. But the Ahme were good workers, strong workers. If they sang, well, they had fewer workplace injuries than Torvane workers.

“Ah-nee, les-aru-neee.” Even our enemy is loved. That was a song they had not sung in a very long time, but they remembered it. Ah-nee, les-aru-neee. They whispered it between the cracks in the walls. They sang it in refrains while they worked. Under the three moons, do we love out enemy. Under the three moons, do we love our children.

Under the three moons, they took back their freedom. Ah-nee, ah-es-tek-esh. All is loved, but all must die. Ah-nee, jur-nur-tek-esh. The insect that bites you, being loved, still must die.

The Torvane never saw them coming.

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This was written to To [personal profile] anke‘s prompt.

Addergoole has a landing page here; Audra, Carrig, and Chaney were first seen in White Knights, 8/31/2011.

Audra is Kailani’s daughter by Conrad.

I just read the TV Trope Generation Xerox and worry a bit about that with this, esp. considering what Morganna is doing in this story..

Carrig and Chaney seemed more interested in Audra than seemed reasonable. There were prettier girls in the school; there were certainly more charming, friendly girls than she was. Her first question to the both of them, once they’d stopped scolding each other for long enough to talk to her, had been “where’s a laboratory that I can set up in?”

She’d been more than a little pleased to have stumped them with that one.

Chaney had figured out an answer first on that one. But then Carrig had managed to tell her who she needed to talk to to keep up combat training.

After that, she started thinking up things to stump them with.

She wasn’t sure if either of them noticed Panlong slyly trying to made friends with her, but she noticed, considered his crew, and thought about her auntie’s advice. “You can tell a lot about someone by the company they keep.”

Carrig and Chaney, while they did not appear to have any wonderful friends, at least did not share a suite with anyone straight-out objectionable.

She knew a thing or two. She knew, from her auntie’s advice and her mother’s, that people who suddenly want to be your friend are probably up to no good.

She knew that slavery was illegal, but so was being fae, and that both were practiced in private, generally by the same people.

She knew, from drawings, photos, and faint memories, that her father had had a tail and seven fingers on each hand. She knew that her auntie had rose thorns growing from her skin. It seemed logical to assume that she was probably, genetically, a fae as well.

Which meant that, logically, slavery might be involved somehow in the whole situation.

The oldest photo she had of her parents showed her father in a silver collar. Alistair had asked her mother about that, once, to be rewarded with one of their mother’s rare storms of anger.

There were collars around – not many, but a few. And, when they didn’t think she was paying attention (really, she thought that Carrig and Chaney must be used to much slower girls than she. But most men were), they would sometime use the word collar as a verb: “when Pan was collared by Tethys,” for example. “Chandra is totally going to collar Felix.”

“…I’m not going to let you collar Aud.” She walked in on that one. Well, at least they were talking about it now. She coughed, to get their attention.

“Gentlemen. At least one person in this triad is going to end up collared, as far as I can tell, at least to shut up the rest of the school. I’d suggest you play rock-paper-scissors and decide who it will be.”

They talked over each other for a moment. The word protect came up, and the word stronger. To their credit, neither said wiser.

It was Carrig who offered, uncertainly, “triad?”

At that point, Audra knew things were going to go her way.

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


This was written to To kelkyag‘s prompt.

To fix a memory in your mind, associate it with a sense.

As some might guess, I prefer taste-and-smell.

So the way he feels when he presses against me and kisses me reminds me of smoked paprika, his hand on the back of my neck, his hair trailing across my neck.

The way his words sound, when he tells me – and I must remember these words – that I am the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. Those words, they are like the finest chocolate, a little too sweet, but rich and lingering on the tongue.

The way his back looks when he leaves after that first date, as if he’s uncertain, his shoulders pulled forward, remind me of lime zest: tangy, and a bit bitter.

When he comes back for seconds, before he’s gotten to his car: cheesecake, drizzled in raspberry sauce.

Those moments are nice. Those are warm moments. Tasty moments.

I have citric acid on the shelf, cayenne pepper, noni juice, for moments that were not as nice.

And I have this moment, that I wish to remember more than anything. This moment, with his eyes so big and blue and hovering right on the edge of pain/love/need. Right where he might fall, or might not.

And if his first romantic words were chocolate, this, this is chocolate liqueur poured over pound cake. This is a moment to savor. He might have, once, been spinning a story. Now he’s in love. And it tastes like the best thing I have ever cooked.

Some people have a Roman House. I have a Roman kitchen to store my memories in. And I’ll put him on the shelf next to the others.

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Monster, a story of Fae Apoc for the Giraffe Call

This was written to To rix_scaedu‘s prompt.

Fae Apoc has a landing page here

The town of Jefferson had survived the Disaster and the subsequent fall of most of civilization more intact than it had any right to expect.

It wasn’t the only place to survive, of course – people who thought ahead generally did fine, places that were far from cities did better. But Jefferson was a whole town where the power still ran, the water and sewers still worked, and people lived relatively normal lives, if in a tighter scope than before.

And all they had had to do is swear allegiance to the man on the hill.

For nearly fifty years, the man on the hill had kept Jefferson safe from everything from dysentery to rampaging dinosaurs. He’d imported doctors, and then people so inclined to learn how to be the next generation of doctors. He’d made sure there were farmers enough to farm the land, and fuel enough to make the tractors run. He made sure the power ran, and the water flowed.

He was a fae, of course, one of the monsters who had ruled the world. And, deep inside their hearts, the people of Jefferson hated him a little bit.

The man on the hill didn’t mind. He didn’t need them to love him. He needed them to stay there, to grow and prosper, and, when they needed him, to obey him. It wasn’t a bad arrangement.

It worked fine, for the most part, until someone else found out about it.

The problem with fae overlords, you see, is that they can be challenged. And sometimes, if they have grown lazy and complacent in four and a half decades of ruling over humans… they can lose those challenges.

In a day, the lives of the humans in Jefferson changed.

They had a new overlord. This one did not pretend to be human; he tromped about the city with his clawed feet and his overhanging tusks. He booked no argument nor disagreement. After the first two to offer him such died quickly and painfully, the village chose to give him neither.

When he demanded tribute, they gave it to him. He still kept the water coming, and the power. He still made the food grow, and the animals healthy. He still killed the rampaging monsters.

It was better than dying, they told themselves.

When he demanded they serve in his castle an hour a week, every one of them old enough to walk, they did as he demanded. He still brought in qualified people from out in the world. He still staffed the school. It was, they told themselves, better than the alternative.

When he demanded fresh boys and girls for his bed, they were too far in, too far gone, to put up more than a token resistance. Memories of their old champion were far and few between. This new master had taught them too well not to fight. He probably wouldn’t be too bad to them, they told themselves. It was probably better than death.

Even if some of them were never seen again.

When the girl Aniza was sent to the overlord’s bed, she was too young to remember life under their previous lord, life before they had given everything up. Still, she fought. Her brother had gone to the monster on the hill, and never come home. Her best friend had gone, and come home pregnant and un-speaking.

The monster on the hill laughed at her, fighting her father, her uncle, the men and women down the street. “The time for that was before you were born, little sheepling.”

She spat in his face. He laughed even more, and bound her with chains. “It’s not your fault your family are sheep. But you are a sheep nonetheless.”

“Goat.” Her retort was short and snappish; the monster kept laughing.

“You’ll be fun, while you last.” He carried her over his shoulder, into his lair.

“I’ll outlast you.”

“You know, most people in your village have the sense not to talk back to me.”

“You kill everyone who tries.”

“Not everyone. Just enough to make the point.”

He took her into her lair, deep within what had been the man on the hill’s house, and chained her between the pile of blankets and furs he used as a bed and the still-functioning bathroom.

He brought her food. She threw it at him. He slapped her, hard enough to leave a mark, and left her with the remains of her meal.

He brought her food again the next day, and she threw it at him again. Again, he slapped her, and again, he left her with the remains of the meal.

By the third day, he was bringing her food that did not leave a mess when thrown. And he noticed, when he took away the last day’s food, that she was eating some small amount.

Still, when he repeated the ritual with her on the fifth day, he lingered to speak. “You need to eat.”

“You’re going to kill me anyway. Why does it matter if I starve?”

He sat down, at that, and looked at her. Her face was puffy with healing bruises, but she was still glaring at him. Although she could reach the shower, she had not cleaned herself up. She looked as if she was already on her way to dying.

“And if I was not going to kill you?”

“Then worse than death. I saw what Bev looked like when you were done with her.”

“Bev.” He did not often remember names. He remembered that one.

“Blonde girl. Blue eyes. Pregnant.”

“I remember her.” He had not known she was pregnant. “I never hit her.” He hadn’t needed to.

She didn’t believe him. He could tell. So he left her alone for the day. He had enough to do, running his village. Making sure they did not come to harm.

They hated him, of course, far more honestly than they had hated his predecessor . It made it easier to keep them safe.

He brought her, the next day, one of his favorite meals. This time, he grabbed her wrists before she could throw it. “Don’t.”

“I don’t want your food.”

“Then I’ll put it down.” He did so, just out of the reach of her chain. “You hate me.”

“You took everything from us.”

“I’m just more honest about it than he was.” He took her wrists again; she was too weak to struggle much, but she still tried. “He snuck in in the night and sired babies.”

“You rape what you want from us.”

“I’m a monster.” He said it mildly, simply. He had been a monster for a very long time.

“And you’re okay with being a monster?” She jerked against his grip. Her breathing was getting heavy and irregular.

“I accept it.” He stood, bringing her up with him, and lifted her into his arms. She froze, bird-panicked, and then began squirming, trying to get away. He stopped her easily. “You need to take care of yourself. You need to bathe.”

“My clothes stink. What’s the point in washing if I have to put on filthy clothes.”

“I’ll bring you clean clothes.”

“You could let me go.” For the first time, her voice sounded small. He looked down at her, and shook his head.

“No.” The price had to be paid.

“You could kill me.”


“Put me down!” She had little fire left, and she was burning it all up. “Put me down, I’ll wash myself.”

“Too late.” He drew a bath, holding her pinned to the floor with no effort at all, ignoring her bites and slaps and kicks. He slid her into the tub, ignoring her swearing and her spitting. And he washed her.

When she was clean, she lay there listlessly, staring at him. “So I’m clean. Now what?”

“Now, you eat. And you wash yourself from now on.”

He brought her robes, things he demanded from the villagers. She wore them, rather than be naked. She bathed herself, rather than, he assumed, allowing him to touch her again. But still, she was barely eating. She grew thinner and thinner.

“If you do not eat,” he said, on her thirty-seventh day here, “I will feed you like I bathed you.”

“I’ll puke it up.”

“I’ll seal your mouth so you can’t.”

“Kill me or let me die already.”

“I won’t do that.”

“You killed others! You killed my uncle! You killed my brother!”

“Your uncle. Yes. He attacked me. Your brother…” He shook his head. “That’s a story for another day.”

She flew at him, hitting him with surprising ferocity. He had to struggle to contain her and, when he succeeded, both of them bruised and bleeding, she was sitting on his lap, her arms held crossed against her chest.

“You killed my brother.” She was sobbing. She hadn’t shown him her tears before that.

“Eat, and I will tell you the story.” He released her. The fight had gone out of her.

She reached for her rice, and began picking at it. And he told her the story of her brother, who had flowered under the stress of his captivity. Who had Changed into a monster, like him.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Who fathered your brother?”

She didn’t answer. Everyone in the village knew the truth. The man on the hill had taken his due.

“Tomorrow, I will tell you more, when you eat.”

“You should kill me instead.”

But when he brought her food the next day, she listened.

“You’re still a monster,” she informed him, when he told her how he’d sworn her brother to service and sent him out into the world.

“Of course I am. I’m always a monster.”

“If not my brother, then what about the others?”

“There have been a lot of others. I’ve been here for quite a few years.”

“Tell me about one of them. And I’ll eat.”

“If I tell you about one, I want you to brush your hair, too.”

“… all right.”

He told her stories, and she ate. He embellished the stories to make her smile, and she brushed her hair.

He brought her a dress from a town far away, and she wore it. In return, he told her a story of the first woman he’d taken.

When he returned from business to find her waiting, hair brushed, clothed, her area tidy, he did not know what to think. “Tell me a story.” Her fire was back. “Tell me a story of something good you’ve done.”

“I cannot. I’m a monster.”

“But you care for our village. Why?”

So he told her the story of his brother, who had taken over a village out of guilt. His brother, the good man, the fae who had always protected humans. He told her how he’d watched his brother become a monster under the skin. How the village hated him, and how it ate at him.

When he was done with that story, he found that she was crying. “You’re still a monster.” She didn’t sound as certain as she had before.

“I’m still a monster.” To prove it to her, he grabbed her, and held her in her arms, while she sobbed on his shoulder. He didn’t know why she was crying. He assumed it was because he was a monster.

He had not the magic to read her mind, or he would have known that, in a sense, he was right.

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Giraffe Call Second Day

My Call is open!
The Call! (LJ)

The theme is Love, in all its hues and shades.

Yesterday was an out-and-about shopping day for me, but I got two pieces written:

Addergoole: Year 9
Friendly (LJ )
One Off
The Purple (LJ)

And started The Linkback Story (LJ).

Then the story for Rix’s prompt decided it needed to be at least 1000 words. O_O I’ll post that as soon as I can get it finished.

Prompting is still open!

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