Archive | September 7, 2017

Catalog People

My Giraffe (Zebra) Call is open!

Written to ysabetwordsmith‘s prompt.


Every payday, Edrio very carefully opened the Sears catalog and very carefully placed an order.

It wasn’t always Sears; it wasn’t always a catalog.  Sometimes it was Penney’s, although their catalog wasn’t as good, or the furniture store, or the hardware store for some paint or some molding.

But it was always payday, and it was always a very considered purchase.

Edrio’s house wasn’t all that large.  It was the smallest house that had been for sale, as a matter of fact, and he’d gotten a very good deal on it because it was old, un-updated, and a one-bedroom.  The Cape Cod house had last been updated in the 50’s, if the wallpaper was any indication.

The wallpaper was the first to go, the carpet, the trim.  Everything was carefully replaced, everything chosen from the catalog spreads or the display lay-outs in the stores, the colors from Good Housekeeping and Better Homes and Gardens or color-matched to a Sears spread.  The effect, were anyone to walk into his house, was slightly like being inside a catalog.

In the bathroom it was the most obvious, the small room showing the carefully-coordinated shower curtain and drapes, towels and garbage can and rug.  His bedroom showed the only signs of personality, a stack of battered paper-backs in between leather-covered Barnes and Noble books on a display shelf. His closet was much the same, outfits picked from the pages of the catalogs, bought and worn as exact to those pictures as possible.

The catalog purchases covered over strangeness, of course – the circle of glyphs under the living room rug and the other one in the bathroom, the tone-on-tone runes on the carefully-picked out molding, some to keep monsters in, some to keep them out.  But mostly, they were to cover over Edrio.

At night, he would lie in bed, as he had since he was a child, flipping through the pages of an ancient Sears catalog.  “This is real,” he’d tell himself, in a ritual as battered and as old as the pages.  “This is how real people live.”

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Giraffe-Zebra Linkback Story

Leave a comment here if you’ve signal boosted my Giraffe (Zebra) Call !

Each signal boost will get another 100 words.

Ysabat: 3, Lilfluff 2, Inspector Caracal 2, Rix_scaedu 1 – currently posted. 


It was the first day of the Faire, and it was, as luck would have it, a rainy day, chilly, and thus mostly attended by the locals, the die-hards, and people who had planned their vacation around this fest and were going to enjoy it, damnit, come hell or high water (both of which seemed possible).

Autumn was hawking her wares as best she could – she paid rent on the booth whether business was fair or foul – and entertaining herself by offering free body doodles to anyone who bought a piece of art, however small.  It just so happened those doodles drew with them a little bit of magic.


The first patron to buy something was a skinny boy in goth-and-bondage street clothes.  He did an awkward turn at Shakespearean english as he asked if her she would draw the skulle of deathhe most foulle on his hand.

“But is death-thu so foul-leh?” she mused, “for you who invites his appearance?”

She was rewarded with a surprised look that said you’re not supposed to notice that and a little smile when she just lifted her eyebrows at him.

She sketched him a realistic skull, one tooth chipped just where his had clearly run afoul of something, and twisted in with walnut ink a line of show me, just to see where his skulle of deathhe took him.


There wasn’t such a crowd that she couldn’t see him moving, just by the strands he trailed .  There were some bright ones , for someone wrapped in so much darkness, shiny lines of hope and one tenuous thing like a crush.  The skull-leh let her see the way he was reaching, grasping for something.  Did he think he’d find it at Faire?  Did he think he’d find them at Faire?  Most grasping like that was for someone, for some emotion, for –

his strands lit up at the archery stand, and Autumn found herself grinning.


Her second paying customer was a woman maybe twice Autumn’s age, in such absolutely perfect early-Elizabethan garb that she had to have sewn it herself. She bought one of the bigger originals, asking Autumn to hold on to it until the end of the day, and then pushed aside her partlet for Autumn to draw a design on her ample chest.

“Make it a sun,” she offered, “for this day has need of some light.”

“But the light is always with us,” Autumn teased; “it is merely we that cannot see it.”  She drew the sun, heedless of the way the chest jiggled with suppressed laughter.  “There, my lady.  May it warm you.”

“If only that touch of yours does, I shall count myself lucky.”  The lady curtseyed and exited.


Autumn made herself concentrate, despite a blush she hadn’t been expecting.  Sunshine-lady went the opposite direction from skull-leh boy, heading around the wool vendor with a set of strands that wiggled like a song.  She made friends easily, it looked like, but her connections were light, brushing over people before moving on.  She didn’t touch anyone deeply… oh.

Autumn breathed out in something very much like pain.  She had touched someone deeply once, far too deeply.

The woman slid into a jewelry store while Autumn considered her pens, her heart pounding.


Her next customer was, he said, looking for something for his girlfriend.  She wasn’t sure why she knew he was lying, but he was definitely not being truthful.

He was tall, blue-eyed, very tan, with sandy blonde hair and a chin so square you could use it to level-and-true buildings.  He settled on a unicorn that had a touch of frustrated need worked into it, an original – some people could tell the difference some couldn’t, but she’d only ever managed to work magic into one print and that one sold like hotcakes – and tried to turn down her body-art offer.

“It doesn’t have to show,” she cajoled, and he asked her for a hammer.


Hammers were interesting.  She followed the construction he was trying, watching the strands that didn’t really touch him, even though they wrapped around him.  He was here for a reason.  He was here with people, but had slipped off.  He wasn’t here with a girlfriend, although he was here with a girl.

There were stories she could tell, but the one she could trace in his strands looked like a faire booth:  It had all the parts of a house, but it wasn’t a house.  Walls, floor, roof.

But something was missing.


Autumn was still puzzling over her third customer when a group of women walked through.

She could tell rental costumes; she could also tell that they were here to have fun and were determined that the weather wasn’t going to stop them.

One of them, a beauty with short-cropped brown hair and startling blue eyes, shyly told Autumn that she would buy every single piece of art that looked like her here, if she could.

Autumn couldn’t help asking her to model, with a little coy grin that usually didn’t offend.  “I think you’d make a lovely dryad?  Or a princess.”  When the girl demurred in a way that said it might not always be a no, Autumn drew the body art she asked for in iridescent green around a slender wrist.


Leaves.  Had she been inspired by Autumn’s dryad comment?  She watched the girls giggle off out of sight, the dryad-princess’ strands twisting past the echo of the skull-leh boy – still at the archery stand, and still flickering with joy.

She liked her friends.  She had a comfortable group with the nice tight weaving you got front long association.  She was reaching for something, something a little more, a little higher up on the tree.

She really would make a lovely dryad.  Autumn kept an eye on her strands as she called to some passing, umbrella-sheltered guests.

Mad Kings and Handmaidens

My Giraffe (Zebra) Call is open!

Written to alexseanchai‘s prompt.


The problem with mad kings wasn’t so much the madness part, Iounia thought, as it was the shifting of the madness.

The only sign she’d had that she’d fallen out of favor with the king was a slight shift in his giggle.  If she hadn’t watched Maia be dispensed with the month before after just such a slight shift – and before that Abri, and before that Martia – she might not have known it was time to leave.  

But Iounia was known for her sharp eyes and her attention to detail, which was what had brought her to the mad king’s attention in the first place, what had sat her at his feet as his adviser, and what had led her to stop by Nueva’s room and suggest quietly that she might want to get while the getting was good.

Nueva made long-term plans.  Nueva was really, really good at long-term plans. Dessie was really good at making do with almost nothing.  Between the three of them – because Nueva’s plan had led to grabbing Dessie on the way out – they had gotten out of the palace without a hitch.  They had gotten out of the city without a hitch.

And now, rather to Iounia’s surprise – although she should have seen it coming – they were planning a rebellion.

“Not exactly a rebellion,” Dessie demurred, as they sat in an abandoned barn, cooking rats over a fire.  “More of a housecleaning.  Let the Mad King keep his crown.  We’re just going to – ah.  Work around him.”

“Why let him keep his crown?” Nueva countered.  “Why not let the crown sit on an empty throne?”

“An empty throne invites someone to sit on it.  A madman on the throne invites people to stay away.”

“Let him give orders.”  Iounia understood the plan now.  “And let him believe his orders have been carried out.  Meanwhile, the rest of the country can get on with – well, with being a country.”

Safe in his underground chamber, surrounded by his crowns, the Mad King never did learn that he had fallen out of favor.

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The Empire Falls; The Emperor Stands

My Giraffe (Zebra) Call is open!

Written to @dahob‘s prompt.


It was the day past the Autumnal Equinox, and the Emperor wasn’t dead.

The Rothenkill Empire, a wide-spanning mass of bureaucrats, generals, courtiers, financiers, farmers, and clerks, waited with their collective breaths held.

The servants of the Emperor moved slowly and carefully, as if their heads might fall off if they went about their tasks too quickly, or if they said the wrong thing.

Everyone was waiting.  Everyone was confused.  And almost everyone was worried.

In the Rothenkill Empire, it was said that the Emperors fell with the leaves.  And, like leaves, it was known that sometimes, the Emperors needed a little push, a helpful shove.

So where was the shove?

“This is nor normal,” complained the Chief Financier in charge of budgets. “What are we going to do?  Someone should do something.”

“Someone has to do something,” complained the Head Bureaucrat in charge of law distribution, re-writing, and deletion.

“Won’t someone do something?” pleaded the General of the Imperial Armies.  “He’s starting to give orders that make sense and can’t be ignored!  What are we going to do if we can’t ignore him?”

The Emperor, snug on his throne, pretended he could hear none of this.  He hadn’t ascended to the Poison Throne by looking or acting particularly bright, after all.  None of his predecessors had, either, not in decades, possibly not in centuries.

“The problem is,” muttered a person serving as a handmaiden, “nobody remembers how.”  Her grandmother had once helped off three emperors in a row, but that had been when you got a class of emperor that sometimes needed a shove.  “And with this one, I’m not going to risk it.”

And the Emperor smiled as the empire – the mass of functionaries that had killed his father, his grandfather, and countless of his various uncles and cousins – began to crumble under its own confusion.



Autumn 2017 Giraffe (Zebra) Call: Autumn, Autumn (Roundtree)*, Fall, and Falling

It’s time for a Zebra Call, which is a special black-and-white and stripey version of a Giraffe Call.


The theme for the month is Autumn, Autumn (Roundtree)*, Fall, and Falling

There’s a longer post about what this call is for [here]. The short version is: We’re redoing our bathroom and the cabinets I really, really want cost $700 more than our budget.

If you’re interested in Giraffe Calls in general, check out the Giraffe Call: Call tag [here].

Leave a prompt (or several), get a short fic written. 

Tip and get TWO fics written and 100 words/$1.50 tipped

Join my Patreon and get TWO fics written. 

My goal is $500 between new Patreon Patrons and tips (Counting each $1 of Patreon-age as $3)

For every $50 in tips, I will choose a prompter at random and write another story to their prompts (so leave lots of prompts!)

For every multiple of 5 Patreon Patrons we reach (30, 35, 40…) I will do the same.  Continue reading

Time for a (Zebra) Giraffe Call – Explanation

All right, it’s time for a Zebra Call!


When I first started my Giraffe Calls, they were to help defray the costs of the super-awesome giraffe carpet that I wanted  – and got!  – for the bedroom of our then-new(-to-us) house. The idea was that we would get the bedroom done “enough” to look finished, and then no matter what else we were working on, we could lay down at night and rest because the bedroom was done.

Hey, it worked, more or less.

Now we’re doing the bathroom!  And it’s going to be black, grey, and white, mostly white, and since we already have a giraffe toilet paper holder (because giraffes), we want a zebra shower curtain…

No, I’m not holding a whole prompt call to finance a shower curtain.  But it’s nicer than Cabinet Call.

You see, I have fallen in love with a certain door style and the nature of the bathroom dictates a certain (non-particle-board) carcass style and… that ends up $700 over our cabinet budget.  I can cover $200 of that on current Patreon rates (3 months, or the length of this renovation).

We ripped out the “linen cabinet” that existed because

a) the face frame & doors went up to the former ceiling, 6’8″, and the cabinet itself went all the way up to the new/oldest ceiling, 8’4″

b) The doors were in bad shape, chipped, and worn.

c) the vent for the toilet was letting out in the top of the cabinet

d) the awful old drywall went under, over, and behind the old cabinet, and it was nailed to it.

And we removed the old (really ugly) vanity and replaced it with a pedestal sink last year, which opened up the place a huge amount, but poof, storage gone.

So we’re going to get two cabinets, one a linen cabinet (full height, to replace the one we ripped out) and one a wall cabinet above the toilet.

And I really, really want the pretty doors with a ( arch at the top to match the door we bought to put in as a bathroom entrance door – which is going to be a pocket door!   – but the nice doors only come on the nicer cabinets.

So!  Time for a Zebra Call.

Desmond’s Climb: Seeing Things

First: Slaves, School
Previous: Kayay’s Story


So, do you know about this stairway? It was the seventh or eighth phrasing Des had tried of the same question. They were already in their next class, and his collar was not talking to him.

This was tricky, because it was supposed to be a class on clairvoyance and other scrying.

Could you at least help me with this… “Could you give me a hand with this class?” he asked weakly. “I’ll stop asking about the other thing. I will. Just please help me with this class.”

“Desmond, is it?” Their teacher, a tall and impressive person with dark skin and short curly hair woven with wire the same silver as their collar, paused by Desmond’s desk.

“Des is fine. I – sorry. My collar is annoyed with me.” Continue reading