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Malina and the Border Banners, Chapter 7 (A Story for B)

Began here.
Chapter 2 here
Chapter 3 here.
Chapter 4 here.
Chapter 5 here.

Malina’s feet were tired; her eyes were tired. Her head was tired. Yet she was exploring again.

The inner wall and the outer wall of the castle still appeared intact, at least in this corner. Sand drifted heavily enough in several places that Malina couldn’t see more than 1 or 2 dozen cubits in either direction from the L intersection where she stood, the corner of the castle from which the tower grew.

She was being led by a fishlike sprite that had appeared to her request – no, to her demand.

She had seen stranger things, but then again, she was being followed around an abandoned castle named for her ancestor by a talking cat.

The sprite was taking her away from the entrance she’d come in, down the branch of inner-outer wall space she hadn’t explored yet. This could be a very bad idea – but yet, the cat was following her. It seemed entirely unworried about any of this. Of course, being a cat (although she did not know the rules for sand-cats, she supposed), it would likely seem unworried by anything at all. Continue reading

The Bellamy, Chapter 12

Content warning for the below chapter: human remains, not graphically described.

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Next had turned out, after a discussion with One and Two (“Ugh, save Genealogy for last, or at least, do the basement all in one go”, and “If you go this way, you can avoid the Barbies.  And Alice. Oh, and Gertrude.”), to actually be Supernatural and Occult. 

“It’s, ah.  It’s not as bad as it sounds?” Two had offered.  She’d been pulling out scones and a small tin of clarified butter for Veronika at the time and gotten her hand slapped at the second scone.  “Come on, she’s pretty okay. And wait ‘till I tell you what Mariyam did.”

One’s eyes had narrowed, and in the end, Veronika had been given three scones, the butter, and a knife — “it’s a reproduction, of course, but bring it back if you can.”

She’d also been given the strangest directions yet — and that might be saying something — to a department which was, in theory, just on the other side of the building on the same floor as Reprography.

With an assurance that she would indeed return the knife, she trundled her little cart out of Reprography and into the rows and rows of shelving and boxes.  Continue reading

Malina and the Border Banners, Chapter 6 (A Story for B)

Began here.
Chapter 2 here
Chapter 3 here.
Chapter 4 here.
Chapter 5 here.

There was a girl named Malina Serafina Anastazja Dominika Naveed Jeleń nic Cecília O Alexandre, and because she had been named this, or at least that was what she’d been told, she sat down on a throne.

The throne was in a tower which had been left as if its inhabitants planned on coming back any moment.

But they hadn’t, and Malina, led by a talking sand-cat & carried by a mustang, had.

She sat down gingerly on the throne, worried it might crumble to dust, even though it had held the cat fine.

The throne held her weight; the cushion was so soft and comfortable that she could see why the cat had wanted to stay there. It was too large for her, as if it had been meant to hold a very large person, but if she scooted forward, she could see how the arm rests had been carved to fit hands, so they’d rest comfortably and royally while the person there did whatever they did in this room. Continue reading

The Bellamy, Chapter 11

Veronika made herself stop reading.  She glanced apologetically at Two. “It’s, ah—“

“I’m getting paid,” Two shrugged cheerfully. “The problem is, you want to finish this test before you’re old and grey.  Look, 1860, you can come back to it. Or you could take it out, too?”

Veronika wavered. “I could…” She had her own magnifier, of course.  Not because she’d ever walked off with microfilm or microfiche…. just for reading very small things which weren’t reduced to 1% of their original size….

“I’d better not,” she concluded.  “I should try to be here a week before I start signing things out.”

“Oh, no, go home every night, even if it’s just your apartment on site!  Don’t ever try to stay here a solid week — even we don’t do that, and we’ve got multiples!” Continue reading

Malina and the Border Banners, Chapter 5 (A Story for B)

Began here.

Chapter 2 here

The Princess of many names (who we will refer to as Malina for simplicity’s sake) looked between a sand map of the city and the sand-cat sitting on the throne. Staring back at her from the map was a figure that seemed to represent her, and staring at her from the throne was a cat. 

The cat stretched and turned around twice on the throne.  “You are correct. Not just the map, which is usually right about these things, but the land here,  the tower here, this whole place. All of it believes you are important.”

“Because I’m named after a grandmother?”

“Well, several of your names certainly help in the process.”  The cat reached up towards the top of the throne, claws piercing the upholstery.  “There is a power in names, you know. There is a strength in them, and that power gives you, say, a tool.  But the person using the tool is just as important.”

“I’m just, well,  I’m here because I got lost at a party, because I got tired of the crowds,” Malina protested. Continue reading

The Bellamy, Chapter 10

“What were you looking for, again?”

Veronika could tell when the subject was being changed.  She took it before she annoyed Two any further.

“Microfiche of an article on Hammondsport, it’s supposed to be from, let’s see, from The Bellamy Gazette, really? From 1879 – June 14th, the morning edition. Ah.”  She cleared her throat. “Sorry. I’m Veronika Bellamy.” She offered her hand.

Two shook it firmly. “Hi, Veronika.  I’m Two, of course. The Gazette microfiche are this way.  They don’t do two editions a day anymore, just one a week and that’s mostly online, just about 300 copies to really dedicated subscribers, but back in the day, you could get a lot of interesting stuff from the Gazette.  I love reading the really old articles when I’ve got some free time.”

“That sounds amazing.  You like it up here, then?” Continue reading

Malina and the Border Banners, Chapter 4 (A Story for B)

Began here.

Chapter 2 here

There was a tower in a castle in the sands on the edge of the border Malina had never seen before, certainly not like this.

There was a room at the top of the tower, a room high up in an intact tower in a half-ruined castle.

There was a throne in the room, a cat on the throne, a sand-cat, who had not signed the Last Treaties.

And in the middle of the room was Malina.

There was only one chair, something Malina’s feet were protesting loudly. She considered the floor. She considered the cat.

She considered the windows – the glass was wavy and speckled, so that she couldn’t see through them – the piles of documents, the map in sand. Continue reading

Under the Bridge

Warning: Dark. Discussion of death and dying, although mostly a bit sideways.

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They lived, if you wanted to call it that, down by the river, the Trade Street Bridge providing the roof and a back wall to their residence , the steps of the Riverside Inn down to the water providing another wall.  Their floor was the gravel and slate of the river-shore and the river was their front porch, their food provider, the road they took out of there where they needed to and the barricade that kept most others away.

There were generally four or five of them there; on the coldest nights, there were fewer, and on the full moons, sometimes as many as twenty. The one with the long, long hair (black as a raven’s wing) and the one with the piercings (eighteen of them), they were always there.

Under the bridge, there weren’t names and there was rarely talking, but the one with the long, long hair, others called Godiva; the one with the piercings, some of them called Nails, because the nose-piercing was a nail.

When nobody else was there, they existed wordlessly.  They’d collect the interesting debris the river provided and sort it out – Gloves could use this and Hammer could use that; Blue might want that photo but Clacker would definitely want that sock.  They fished and smoked the results, muddy bottom-feeding fish that were far better once you’d gotten them full of some stolen mustard – and they might not steal, but someone did. They bribed the gendarmes which could be bribed and scared off or hid from the other ones. Continue reading

The Bellamy, Chapter 9

Veronika found herself pressed against the wall in the Much Smaller Elevator, just enough room to press an antique button for the fourth floor.  She pressed it and took the three minutes the elevator took to climb a single story – maybe she should’ve tried the stairs again – studying the Very Small Elevator. 

The paneling was old and, in few places, dinged deeply, but the trim was still in good shape and the little bits of brasswork, including two brass sconces which made the space even smaller, was bright and beautiful. The floor looked like marble, and the ceiling, which was surprisingly high for the tiny size of the elevator, was arched and embossed in a pattern that looked like fleur-des-lis. 

There were numbers one through ten and B, G, S, and U on the button pad, far more than the Bellamy appeared to have – although she thought perhaps S was sub-basement, that didn’t tell her what U was. 

At least there was nothing, as far as she could tell, moving on its own (other than as, say, an elevator was supposed to) or otherwise particularly strange about the elevator, other than that the lifts in this place appeared to believe that there were more floors than the architecture believed in. 

She pushed her cart out as soon as the door dinged anyway – a minute was too long in such a cramped space – and looked around.  To the left, she was in what seemed to be a non-public area, stacked with boxes, each of them labelled with what she thought was a name, a number, and something that in theory would have been a date  Continue reading

A Story for B, Chapter 3 (Malina and the Border Banners)

Began here.

Chapter 2 here

Malina, who was a Princess of a very long name and had until very recently been lost in the desert, regarded the castle before her. She looked over the door hanging off its hinges; she looked at the lovely, ornate doorframe.

She took a breath. She’d come this far, let the cat and the mustang lead her. She was letting the cat rush her. She was still lost in the borderlands, even if she now had a destination.

She held her breath and stepped forward through the doorway, moving the door aside.

The door moved slowly under her hand, the bottom corner dragging in the sand. Malina glanced at the cat, who was walking very close to her, and then pushed the door again.

She made it through the doorway; the door was far easier to urge back closed than it had been to open. She latched it, feeling silly – there was nobody around, for one, and for another, it was still missing a hinge & only half connected to the other.

Still, she felt better for having it shut and latched.

“The tower.”  Continue reading