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Lucky Dice

“Watch.”

The tavern was old; it had been old for longer than the country around it had existed.  It was made of stone and wood so old and so saturated with smoke that it might as well be stone; it had never stopped being heated with wood, although the design of the hearth had changed from time to time.

Behind the bar, the old bartender and the new bartender watched – as per the old one’s command – as in the corner the best lit by lanterns (these were battery-powered and left out in the sun all day to charge, rather than fueled by whale oil, but the look was otherwise the same as it had been since the inn & tavern were first built) – three people older than the bartender, possibly (although it was unlikely) as old as the tavern itself, began another round of dice. Continue reading

Total Eclipse of the…

Total Eclipse of the...

“Not now, I just need a little more time.  And maybe a little tea.  Maybe a lot of tea.”  Nitya hadn’t even looked up.  From the crick her neck, she thought maybe she hadn’t looked up in quite a while.  Hours?  Weeks?  No, obviously not weeks

She stood and stretched, keeping her eyes almost entirely on manuscript in front of her and the notes next to it.

“You know you can’t eat over the manuscripts, Nitya, they’re ancient.  Besides, come on, there’s something you have to see.”

Suula tugged on her roommate’s arm, but Nitya wasn’t moving.  “I’ll come eat in a while.  I got some duplicates made; I can drink some tea and have a couple, oh, I don’t know, energy bars while I look over those.  Suula, I’ve got it figured out.  It’s an eclipse.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Nitya!  Come on.”  This time, Suula put some muscle behind the tug.  “It’s an eclipse!”

“What?” Nitya blinked at her friend.  “Suula, you’re an astrophysicist, when’ve you been reading ancient proto-Sumerian?”

“What?  Nitya, you need to get out of this basement once in a while.”

“It’s not a basement, it’s a climate-controlled reading room-”

“That’s three stories underground.  Nitya, come on, or I’m going to carry you.  Bring those duplicates, sure, you can tell me about it on the way up.  I promise you, I promise, I’ll bring you dinner in the cafe on the first sub-level after that and buy you the good tea, but come out.  Come on.  Come on, please?”

It was the please that did it – that and the promise of Suula’s cooking.  With a guilty little twist in her gut, Nitya realized she hadn’t been holding up her end of their shared-home agreement very well lately (Suula cooked and stocked the kitchen; Nitya cleaned).  “All right, all right.  So, the piece of the document I’ve been having trouble with?  The part that was copied over in, I think, early Roman era?  It’s talking about an eclipse of the sun.  Which should have been obvious, but the way they described it – it sounded like – like it came with some weird, ah, side effects.  Some tidal shifts that changed where the moon was in the sky.  Which, of course, I don’t have to tell you isn’t the sort of thing a solar eclipse does-”

“Ah.  Say that again?  Tidal shifts and a solar eclipse?”  Suula had stopped on the stairs and was staring at Nitya.  “Anything else?”

“Well, ah.”  She pulled up her copy on her phone. “Let’s see.  There’s the solar eclipse – it’s talking about the darkest day growing darker – and there were earthquakes, which I thought had to be poetic; the region that it’s talking about here-”

She caught herself as the floor shook.  It didn’t shake much, but she could hear something falling in the floor above them.  “Suula-?”

“You were saying?”

“-that the area it was talking about isn’t on a fault line and isn’t known to have earthquakes at all.  So I thought it was like  – well, it was referencing a great screaming and wailing, and -”

She didn’t even bother commenting this time, because even a story beneath the ground, they could already hear the screaming and wailing.

“So.  Ah.  There’s an unpredicted solar eclipse going on outside.  But maybe, uh.  We should find someplace safe instead?”

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So, I’ve been watching StarGate…

The Void Stares Back

The Void Stares Back

The thing about black cats – as with the thing with mirrors (broken or otherwise), the thing with ladders (and going beneath them) and the thing with salt (generally, but not always, spilled) is that black cats are, by their nature – by several of their natures – accretors of energy, at least, of certain kinds of energy.

Black cats, you see, are children of the Void in a way no other cats (there is some argument here; some people would like to point out that specific other cats are also children of the void, especially specific Persians).  They carry within them a spark of magic, a spark of belief, a spark of the mystic.

Not specific black cats, not familiars, not the black cats who live in bookshops – every cat born black as midnight, black as coffee, black as a moonless night in a coal chute.  Every black cat is born with the spark of magic in them, more so than any other cat, because they have been touched by lady Nyx herself. They have been touched by the core of the walnut tree, the blackest ink.  They have been touched by the depths of the sea.  All of this, every black cat knows, somewhere deep, deep in her little fuzzy soul. (And you can tell this, looking at them, if you look exactly at the right moment.)

So what does this mean?

This means that you never treat a black cat with disrespect, of course, because it will bounce off of them like so many laser dots off a mirror and it will stick to you like you are glue.

But it means more that that.

It means that if you spend time around a cat, especially a black cat, all of your actions, all of the, ah, vibes, that you send out into the world, they start to accrete.  The cat acts as a holder for all of that, while not taking any of it into herself (or much; a black cat will become as nasty as any other angry cat if she spends too much time around the wrong sort of vibes).  They accrete, and then, like cat hair, those actions shed off onto you. 

So a black cat is not inherently bad luck, no.

A ladder one walks under is not unlucky, either.  A mirror does not hold your soul, and salt – well, salt is best left for its own story some other time.

But a child of the Void will always reflect one’s actions back on one.  Of course, the world itself will do that, in time, it’s just that the process is faster with cats (as most things are).

For a kind-souled person who is giving, a black cat is a loving purr machine, a warm look at the night-time, a pool of darkest hot cocoa puddled on the foot of the bed.

I think you can guess what a black cat can be, when she crosses the path of that other sort of person.

 

 

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Dark Moon Rising

Dark Moon Rising

“You were born on a full moon as the new year turned over.”

Uther had heard this story a thousand times, maybe a million.  His mother told it to him a certain way, usually on nights when the full moon shone bright in a clear sky.  His grandmother told it another way, usually when Uther had annoyed her – or when Uther’s father had done so, or when Uther’s grandfather or uncles or, sometimes, Uther’s mother had irritated Grandmama.

His father told it to him once a year, on his birthday, with a big sip of the celebratory wine, and he told it a different way.

But this was the Priestess, and her way was different still.

“You were born on the Occluded Moon, the Full Moon we cannot see.  The skies were black as you came into the world, child, and the old year winked itself out like a candle at its end, and the new year, like you, were born into darkness.  The rains fell hard and nasty that night, ice sticking to everything, and your mother cried as the moon refused, even in its fullness, to look at you.  You were born to a dark moon, child, to a dark year, to an ending rather than a beginning.”

It was more like the way Grandmama told the story than the way either parent did, but there was a malice in the Priestess’ voice that even Grandmama could not quite match.  Continue reading

Kissed the Boys and Made Them Cry….

We weren’t ready.

We’d been training for weeks – months – learning our companions, learning to use the reliquaries we carried with us, learning to use or own strengths and weaknesses.  We’d nearly fallen to a much less important enemy more than once.

We were in no way ready when the Devil walked into our training session.

He laughed at us, though it sounded friendly.  I could see both of his faces – the handsome dark-haired man with the charming smile, and the huge red-skinned demon with the horns so big they defied belief. I could hear both of his voices, the friendly businessman banter and the smoky growl. Continue reading

The Pencatte Choose Your Own Adventure Story to Far

You’re standing at the edge of the Pencatte Catacombs park, the part where the nicely-curated and protected catacombs are fenced off from the real catacombs, the deep tunnels hiding deeper magic that run under most of Pencatte.

Your group of friends has a tradition of Halloween dares, and this year, all your past dares have come back to bite you.

You’re going to go into the catacombs. Your friends are cheering you on, jeering you on, but they’re not coming with you.

It’s just you, these bolt cutters, and the darkness.

You slip through the gate, flip your friends off, and walk into the dark.

The sounds of your friends fade fast, too fast. The tunnel slants slightly downwards; you’re in a rough section, where the walls are braced but there’s no brickwork or other decoration.

The rational part of you says this is why the park part ends here – the park catacombs are not just cleaned and sanitized, all the bones gone, they’re pretty. Lots of carvings and fancy metal work and mosaics.

This part is just a tunnel.

The rest of your mind has other opinions.

This tunnel, everyone says, this is where the ghosts come out, and the gate isn’t just to keep explorers like you out, it’s to keep the ghosts in.

You feel a breeze from down and to your left. You can’t hear anything at all. Your flashlight plays over the tunnel, and in front of you it splits: stairs downward to the left. A slow angle continuing slower downward to your right.

You’ve gone in.

You could turn around now.

Of course, your friends would know it was barely filling the dare. Also, this would be a very short story.

But you could turn around now.

Or you could keep going. Left, where the breeze is, or right, where you’re not that far underground? Continue reading

The Silent Planet

Warning: Horror. 

This story came out of nowhere, honestly.  I just started typing and this is what I got. 


The water slipped through the canal, snuck along the rocks, and whispered along the muddy bank. There wasn’t a burble to be heard, not a whisper, not a splash.

In this place, even the water was silent. In this place, there was no sound at all louder than a breath, and even the breaths were held when they could be.

In this place, those that walked did so on muffled feet and every wall was as thick as it could be. In this place, even a whisper could be too loud. Continue reading

Awakening

This story comes from (checking the prompt link twice) this Reddit r/writingprompts prompt and was posted there first. 

Content warnings for surgery, bionic parts, and um, non-consensual body modifications?

***

Waking felt strange. There’d been times when Jo had woken up quickly, woken up scared, woken up slowly in a warm sunbeam, woken warm and comfortable – although the last had been rare, in the last few years. Continue reading

The Pumpkin Witch

The Pumpkin Witch (superimposed over a cinderella-style pumpkin carriage)

This story is the second one to my Squish-Squash, Pumpkins and Gourds Prompt Call. New characters, unknown world. 

🎃

 “They say she only comes out when the pumpkins are ripe.” Harriet tried for a creepy voice but ended up, to her ear, sounding more sick then spooky.

“They say,” Yasmin tried to top her, “she spoke to Charles Shultz, but he tried to banish her by creating the Great Pumpkin.”

“They say she spoke to Matt Groening and he tried to warn the world in his Treehouse of Horror ‘Great Pumpkin,'” Doc countered. Continue reading