Archive | June 9, 2014

Take Me, a ficlet of Unicorn/Factory for the giraffe call

I asked for prompts regarding Variants here for The MicroPrompt Giraffe Call. This is written to Ysabet’s Prompt here.

It doesn’t properly have an ending, because I could not make it come to an end.

Content warning – suicidal/depressed thoughts and intentions.

She went down to the river on what her gran called a bad day, a grey-clouds-in-the-sun day. She made herself get dressed because she would have to answer questions if she walked down the path in her shift, and she smiled at the villagers she passed, because they knew, by now, that if she could not smile, that she might need to be stopped, to be coddled, to be chivied back to her room.

Smiling felt like pasting a bright paper flower on funeral greys, but she did it anyway. She had learned how to step through life without touching too much, how to slide through the crowd and not really be seen.

If her Gran had seen her, her Gran might have known. But her Gran had found solace in her own way, and, today at least, did not see.

Kayla was supposed to go down to the river; she had drawn the lot, and her family had four daughter still living, including her. But they had lost Lize to the river the year past, and Kayla, Kayla was bright and smiled like the sunlight, like flowers all over and your name-day dress, and Kayla loved Tobert, with eyes like the sky.

So she went down instead, Jiranne with eyes like a storm and a smile that was never real. She took the back path, moving as fast as she could make her plodding feet go, and she knelt in the mud, staying clear of the altar. You could see the altar from the town square, if you knew where you were looking. They had built it that way, to remind them all of the price.

The unicorn surged from the river like he lived there, like he had been born from its current. He glared at Jiranne, and huffed out air and water droplets.

The ones they didn’t like, they savaged. It would be slow – but it would pay the price whether they liked her or not. “Take me.” One thing she could do right, because even failing would do it. “I am the price for the river, the price for the air. Take me.” She had heard the words every year, every cousin and sister and friend. “Take me, as the price for your works.”

The horn glinted wickedly in the sunlight. The stallion dropped to its knees. Was it supposed to do that? Was it supposed to… “Take me,” she cried. “I am giving myself to you freely. Please…”

The stallion rested its head in her lap, its wicked horn just barely missing her. It whickered, softly, and because there was nothing else to do, she petted its mane.

“Take me?” she whispered. The stallion huffed breath at her in reply.

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Repentance – teaser, a fragment of Boom

This is another teaser, in the same story as this one. The story took a left turn and now it’s going to have to be twice as long!

It took less than a half hour for a carriage to ride up to her. The vehicle – you had to call it carriage because horse-drawn pickup truck just sounded wrong – was pulled by two of the biggest horses Cynara had ever seen, and piloted by a lean, grizzled man wielding a shotgun. Cya stopped on the side of the road and made sure he could see her clearly.

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A Game, a story for the Giraffe Call

I asked for prompts regarding Variants here for The MicroPrompt Giraffe Call. This is written to Kelkyag’s Prompt here.

Whenever Asata traveled to a new place, she included in her weight allowance a proper set of Chatha pieces. The board was woven cloth, the tokens polymer scrimshaw, and the cards tissue-thin, but she had yet to find a place where it did not pass muster as a Chatha set.

It lived nestled in her always-on bag, next to the first-aid kit, the wrinkle-free change of clothing, the emergency rations, and the treesilk towel-slash-sarong-slash-hijab. And she’d found that, of every item in the little bag, she’d gotten the most use out of the Chatha set.

The game in its core was simple, but nobody – except people like Asata, interstellar anthropological diplomats – played it in its core format. Every town, every colony, every station had their own variation, and every variation told you something about the people playing the game.

In Hosier and Calbranta, none of the pieces were female, and the female cards were replaced – with trees on Hosier and with animals on Calbranta. Landri and Tolmecha did the opposite, replacing male cards with minerals in one case and more females in the other case. Asata’s deck had new cards for every variation she encountered, and her notes on the culture began, each time, with at least four games of Chatha.

And now she was landing on a new colony, a Lost Colony that the Federated Empire was only now re-contacting with. They were not first down, but her team would be the second contact the colony had with the greater space-faring humanity.

And it would begin with a game of Chatha. Asata studied the first-down team’s notes, and got ready to play.

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Escape From Rochester (Camp Nano July’14 project) Prequel Vignette: Jennifer

Third in a series of stories leading up to my Camp Nano Project – this one features Jennifer and is a practice at finding Raven’s First-person voice.

Jennifer made it first to the Thursday Fire this week, which was a first. She’d been coming to my gatherings – and other people’s – for almost a year, but this was the first time I’d actually been alone with her.

“I brought bitch beers.” She held up the six-packs: Mike’s Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice. “And a bunch of stuff.”

“Stuff?” I popped open the cooler for the beer, and tried, “You’re here early.”

“I know.” She flopped into a chair to my left and started unpacking a Wegman’s bag onto the ground. “But I had to hit the bakery before it closed, so I thought I’d just come here. Hope you don’t mind.” She glanced over at me, her hair falling into her face and making her look, for once, a little bit vulnerable.

“Not at all.” It wasn’t a lie, not really, even it it wasn’t the whole truth. “Just, ah, surprised me.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m not really good at the whole social thing, you know…”

“That’s the point, more or less.” I gave her a smile, one of the sort that at least mostly feels genuine. “None of us really are.”

“You started a social gathering for people who are bad at being social?”

“Well, technically, I started hanging out with Ess and ‘Nelle, and ‘Nelle collects people…”

“Looks to me like you collect people.” She popped open a bottle of the lemonade. “Want one?”

“Sure.” I couldn’t get drunk that easily, anyway. And Ess and everyone should be here soon… hopefully. “Nah. Anelle collects. I just.. hunh. Coordinate.”

I liked that. Coordinate.

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The Collar Job, Part XV

This is an ongoing Tír na Cali/Leverage fanfiction crossover.

Table of Contents here

Fade back in from commercial. Lady Anastasia is sitting on the edge of her bed, a corner of a sheet barely covering her; Eliot is propped up on one elbow, watching her.

A knock sounds on the bedroom door. “Lady Anastasia? You have company.”

Ana slides on a shirt, then swoops up Eliot’s pants with her toes and tosses them at him. “Who is it?”

“The Lord Lorcan ap Malaney, Baron of Red Bluff, and his guest.” There’s a tone to the voice, now, as if the person knocking is quite put out by being asked. Ana sighs.

“One moment, please. If you’ll settle Lord Lorcan and his guest in my sitting room, I’ll be right out.” She opens her dresser and pulls out two weapons holsters – one a knife sheath heavy with blades, the other a cross-draw gun holster.

“As you wish, Lady Anastasia.” Yes, the speaker is definitely put out. “Your guests will be in your sitting room, waiting.”

Ana rolls her eyes as she straps on her holsters, slides home a pistol, and finishes dressing herself. “I think I have…” Her voice has dropped to a murmur. “No better clothes for you yet, sadly.”

“I can live with these.” Eliot’s put on the thin pants while Ana was equipping herself. “You expecting trouble?”

“I always expect trouble.” She rolls her shoulders in something that’s almost a shrug. “It’s saved my life a few times. Here.” She passes him a sheathed knife. “It won’t hide well, but that’s all right.”

“Thanks.” The sheath and belt vanish beneath the thin pants, leaving a dark line on his thigh. “Who’s Lord Lorcan, anyway?”

“Small time only child of a Baroness on the other side of the Duchy.”
She puts on a smile that transforms her face, making her look slightly vapid and not at all deadly. “Ready?”

He braces his shoulders. “Ready.”

Ana’s sitting room

“So, why are you helping us again?” Parker is perched on the edge of a chair, stage-whispering into Lord Lorcan’s ear. He doesn’t seem bothered by her at all.

“As I said, I find ‘Charlotte’s’ little games to be very fun, and I haven’t had fun in quite a while. Besides, if I help you, you’re less likely to make a mess of the Duchy, and that benefits all of us.”

“Hunh.” Parker leans back. “How long are they going to…” The door swings open. Lady Anastasia walks out, impeccably suited as if coming out of a business meeting and not her bedroom. Eliot, collared and shirtless, follows. As the door swings closed, the ropes hanging from the bed are clearly visible.

“Lord Lorcan.” Ana’s eyes trail over the rest of the team. “I see you brought… friends.” Behind her, Eliot sighs.

Cut to commercial.

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