Tag Archive | giraffecall: august2013

A New Year, a new …who?

To [personal profile] rendia‘s prompt.. Shang is a Year9 Character (Short version: he doesn’t believe in magic and doesn’t believe he’s fae.)

Monday after Hell Night, Year 10 of the Addergoole School.

“You know what you have to do.”

“Damaris, this is ridiculous. And why are you so angry at me?”

“…you know, forget it. I’ll get over being angry soon enough. Look. You know what you’ve got to do.”

“It’s still ridiculous.” They’d gone around that loop enough times that it ought to be the chorus of a song. You know what you have to do/but it’s ridiculous and I don’t want to./You’re acting like a fool/ But wasn’t I yours, your fool?

Damaris huffed. “For once, just listen to me, would you?”

“I’m trying.” He could tell her breath was uneven and her pulse was racing. She was clearly upset and getting more so. Shang tried for a more placating tone. “Damaris, if this is what you want me to do, I’ll go along with it.”

“Even the collar?”

“Even the collar. I think it’s…” He stopped himself. “Because I said something to keep Curry and Basalt off of her?”

“Because you walked into Curry and Basalt’s trap. Or walked her into it, whatever. Yes. It’s how the school works, Shang.”

I liked the part where the school worked me in your arms. Not this part where I have to move a stranger in with me. “All right.” Because it made her happy.

That Friday

“Don’t touch those, geez, stop it.”

“But I need…” Leithe lifted her hands off the stack of CDs as if they’d burned her.

“Shut up, okay?” Shang glowered. He’d liked Leithe. She was normal, easy to talk to, the sort of girl he would have been interested in, before Addergoole. She was generally just a nice person.

And he was being a heel to her. Because she persisted on trying to cuddle up to him, and to act like she was his girlfriend.

She wasn’t his girlfriend. Damaris was his girlfriend. Even if she’d “released him from his promise.” Even if she’d taken the collar off. Even if she barely spoke to Shang anymore.

“I’m just trying to pick up. You told me I could pick up.”

Had he? He thought he’d said something like that. “Don’t. There’s CDs everywhere.”

“I could organize them.”

“No! God, no, they’re already organized!” He glared at her. “Why do you keep on doing that?”

“I’m just trying to make you happy.”

“Don’t! Don’t try to make me happy, don’t try to please me, don’t guess what you think I want. Just… go jump in a pond or something. Give me some space.”

She fled the room, already sobbing. Shang put his face in his hands. He was being an asshole. He hated being a jerk. But everything had gone wrong the minute he’d said she was his, and he just didn’t know how to make things right.

He tidied the room. He reorganized the stacks of CDs so she could actually get into the dresser where her clothes were stored. He washed the dishes, and sorted his clothes so she had more room. He was just beginning to wonder if he was supposed to go after her when someone pounded on his door.

Not Agra, please, not Damaris. He opened the door.

His Mentor was holding a soaking-wet Leithe, holding her so she couldn’t run away, and she was definitely trying to. “You and I,” Luke’s voice was a snarl, “need to have a talk about orders.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/570239.html. You can comment here or there.

Duty, a story of the Unicorn/Factory for the Giraffe Call

I’m not really sure this answered any of the prompts but it’s what I’ve got at the moment.

Content warning for discussion of unicorn rape.

“I went to the unicorn.” Tasha pulled her knees to her chest. “I drew the lots, and I went.” There was no inflection at all to her voice. “And I survived.” She turned her head to look at the basket to her side, where a tiny infant waved fists that looked human and made noises that sounded like baby noises. “I didn’t think I would. I didn’t think she would.” She patted the edge of the basket haphazardly.

Her friends – such as they were – listened. They were not the women she’d grown up with, but they were women, girls, maybe, of the Villages, and they had gathered in a corner of the great Faire to talk, because they had no appetite for the delicacies or the shows.

“I went to the unicorn.” Tasha wasn’t so much repeating herself as starting another chapter of the story. “Virgins do, and everyone knew I would be a virgin. I went down to the river, to save my Village. I didn’t cry and I didn’t shout.” She clutched her knees closer. “Not then. Not while I healed. Not while she was born. I did what I was sent to do.”

Her eyes traveled to the small thing in the basket again. Her companions’ gazes followed hers. The thing burbled and waved, like a real baby. Like a baby born the natural way.

Tasha’s voice dropped to a whisper. “I did what they asked. I do what they ask. I raise… I am her mother. She is my daughter.” Her hand rested more steadily now, on the baby’s chest. “That is what was needed of me.

“And now.” Her voice spiraled up louder. Her companions leaned forward: no need to shout, it’s all right. Hands patted at her. Someone shushed her quietly. “And now.” Her voice dipped again. “Now they want me to get married. I’ve done my duty, they say. And then they want me to get married.

She picked up the child, heedless of the tiny bud of a horn that would one day be its own piercing weapon. “Why can’t they just leave us alone?”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/569422.html. You can comment here or there.


For [personal profile] thesilentpoet‘s prompt.

The family was known for being a bit strange, and, at the same time a little bit too aggressively normal.

They had smooth, sleek black hair and pale skin, widow’s-peaked and licked back. Except the little boy that didn’t.

The boys all played football, and soccer. They joined Jr. varsity teams early and played sports right into college. Except the little boy that didn’t.

They were indifferent students, boys and girls alike. Decent enough in classes to get by, but they all hung on by their teeth to a B-minus average. Except the little boy that didn’t.

They were clannish, talking only to each other. There were nine of them, siblings, and then another twenty cousins and second-cousins and kissing-cousins and what-have you. They didn’t date, as far as anyone could tell, they didn’t bring home friends, and then didn’t talk about their family.

Except the little boy that did.

What they said was cryptic, what was overheard was nonsense. They talked in code most of the time. None of the family made sense. Except the one little boy that did.

And they were magic, all of them, the dark-eyed dark-haired beautiful ones. They were magic to their core, magic to the tips of their fingers. They didn’t just do magic, they were magic. Except the one.

They said – when he could hear and when he couldn’t – that the magic had just run out by the time he was born. The magic, the dark hair, the athletic urge. All of that had drained out of the family, so that there was nothing left for the youngest brother except brains, chocolate-brown hair and blue eyes like the sky. Nothing left for the little brother except a smooth tongue and a casual attitude with the rest of the world.

And the family was hated by the world, hated and reviled. They were distrusted, shunned, whispered about, hissed at. Hated. Except the one, the littlest brother, that wasn’t.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/567088.html. You can comment here or there.


To [personal profile] lilfluff‘s prompt.

“Well.” The two men shared a look. It was rather like looking into a mirror. It was rather like talking into a mirror, as well; they both spoke at the same time.

“What did you do?

A rueful smile passed from one man to the other, and then they, once again, spoke at the same time.

“I just figured out…”

One man was dressed in old jeans and three layers of cheap shirt; he made a little gesture, the descendant of a bow, towards the other. “No, please, you go first.”

The other took a half-step backwards. “Oh, no, that’s…”

“I insist.”

“Um. Okay.” The second one, dressed in an expensive bespoke suit, nodded. “I figured out a way to get Dame Helen and Mrs. Toblerone to start talking to each other.”

“That’s like pulling teeth while sky-diving.”

“On the surface, yes, but it’s a simple matter once you… what did you do?

“Oh.” The jeans-wearing version of the same face shrugged eloquently. “I discovered if I offered to trade something, people were more willing to talk to me than if I was just begging. So I traded an origami fish for a gift card to Macy’s, and it just went from there.”

“You’re good at this.” The suit-wearing version straightened his cuffs, a gesture he hadn’t had two weeks ago.

“I’m good at this? You’re the one that got the Terror Sisters at a table.”

“You got a car. And you didn’t have to steal anything to do it.”

The jeans-wearing man – the one who had once been Prince – shook his head. “I just understand people.”

The one who had once been a pauper twitched one shoulder upward. That, at least, he’d kept from his poorer days. “That’s all I’m doing. A car, really?”

“I’m working on trading it for a flat. I’ll let you know.”

One Red Paperclip is the story that inspired the Prince’s idea here.

And of course The trope namer.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/566644.html. You can comment here or there.

Not the Man

To [personal profile] inventrix‘s prompt

“Governor Aryalt, we have a problem.”

The governor spared the Secret Service agent a glance. “What sort of problem? Media again?”

“No, sir. No. The problem lies a little deeper than that.”

“What? What are you talking about?” Governor Aryalt wasted the time giving the agent an actual look. The agent, in return, met his gaze levelly.

“Sir, you’re not who you think you are.”

“Ha. Very funny. Jim!” The governor raised his voice up to a shout. “Jim, you let another nut job through. What did I tell you about screening the security?”

“He can’t hear you, Governor.” The agent puts his hands on Aryalt’s shoulders. “Right now, nobody can hear you at all.”

Aryalt stepped back, but the agent’s grip was stronger than it should have been. “I’ll have you fired for this.”

“No you won’t, sir Because you are not Thomas Aryalt. You are not the governor of South Dakota. You are not a multi-millionaire mogul.”

The words should have meant nothing at all, but they hit Aryalt somewhere down in the gut. “You’re talking nonsense,” he tried anyway. “I’ll have your entire career for this.”

“You’ve had my career for a long time, Jacob.”

Jacob. Who was that? Aryalt blinked at the man. “What are you talking about?” Where the hell was Jim?

“I’ve been your handler for longer than you’ll ever remember. Longer than I remember. And now… it’s time to remember again. Wake up, Jacob. It’s time to go.”

Jacob blinked. “Shit. Shit.” The last vestiges of Aryalt fall off of him, leaving behind all of the man’s memories and none of his personality. “We have to go.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/566288.html. You can comment here or there.

Where’d That Come From

To eseme‘s prompt

There were things Vina had been expecting from school. Lots of things – tough classes, having to make friends again, being isolated in the middle of nowhere.

This was not in the book.

She looked – he looked – what did you even do with that? Vina – if the name could even still fit – looked under the sheets again. Then she-he-whatever let the sheets drop and facepalmed.

Leg pain had woken Vina up several times in the night, but Vina had a lanky body that had never stopped growing, and pain in the night was nothing new. This morning… this morning the leg pain might be explained (the legs were sticking out of the bottom of the bed now) but everything else was just more confusing.

For one, Vina was pretty sure there hadn’t been a penis there when she -um, no, it had been she then – went to bed. And there definitely was one now. There had definitely been breasts – not big ones or anything, but they’d been there – and now there was a flat chest with a little bit of muscle.

“Ummm…” Even the voice was wrong. Vina pulled … vina’self out of bed and stared at a mirror, hoping that it would reveal something other than… Vina’s own eyes had.

No. Other than that Vina was taller than any girl had any right to be – tall enough that sh… Vina had to duck to look in the mirror properly… the body looking back at her was still a male body.

Vina sat down on the floor and pulled knees up to a chest that was far too bony. “I don’t…” Lips closed on a voice that was wrong, and Vina pushed aside a thought, a sudden worry if tears weren’t boy-like. I’m not a boy. Vina repeated the thought over and over again, wishing it would do some good. I don’t know how to be a boy.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/566011.html. You can comment here or there.

Mapping, a story for the Giraffe Call

Another one where I’m not sure where it wants to go, um, but I’ll post it anyway.

“Here’s the space-view surveys of the planet. Here’s the original plans for the first three settlements. Here’s the builders’ notes. Here’s the town records.”

If they had been working in paper, Orchid would have been dumping papers into Cauli’s arms. As it was, he was shifting files from his data tablet to hers with wide sweeps of his fingers. “And here’s the notes from the second survey team and everything they pulled up. Is that going to be enough?”

Cauli, with heroic effort, did not laugh at the little bureaucrat. “More than enough. But I need to get down there, too, you know.”

“You’ve only got two weeks while we’re in orbit here.” This was the seventh time Orchid had told her this. It was the thirtieth time she’d heard him say it altogether. She wasn’t the only expert visiting the colony.

“I know, Orchid. It’s all right. I have my tools.” She patted the bag, which constituted almost half of her weight allowance on this trip. “I have my mind. I’m all right.” If she kept saying it, maybe he’d believe her. Orchid didn’t appear to think people could live without at least three terabytes of data on them at all times. “I’ve got it.”

“All right then. I’ll put you on the first shuttle down.”

The first shuttle down held four other equally-amused specialists and three fretting bureaucrats, cut from the same cloth as Orchid. Cauli made small talk with Zeeb, the xenobotanist, until they were situated in the settlement’s town hall-slash-community center.

“Just give me a table to work with and, if you have one available, a school-aged child to give me a tour.” She’d given this speech in twenty different settlements, and generally met with little resistance. “That’s all I need.” Around her, the other specialists were saying variations of the same thing.

“You can’t.”

That was not a reaction she’d been expecting. Settlers were generally practical people.

“I’m sorry.”

“You can’t. Not with a child. You need a priest.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/565657.html. You can comment here or there.

Family and Cocoa, a story of the Aunt Family for the Giraffe CAll

For [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt

“There’s something to be said for being an orphan.” Beryl stared into her cocoa mug; cocoa, by all that’s sacred, please, not tea. “Or being raised by wolves.”

“I hear you.” Evangaline stared at her own mug – coffee, for much the same reason the Beryl was drinking cocoa. The whole family to come to to complain, and her niece had come to the Aunt. “They can be a bit of a double-edged sword.”

“They have another edge?” She rubbed her knuckles with her thumbs; Eva found herself wincing in empathy.

“They do.” She reached across her kitchen table to brush her fingertips against Beryl’s hand. “It’s hard to tell sometimes. But they – they made us who we are, Beryl.” And that was its own sword, now wasn’t it?

“The ancestors made us. Great-great-great-great grandmothers and, more importantly, Aunts.”

“And uncles and grandfathers.” She stared at her coffee. “Don’t forget, they may have made us, but they made them, too.”

“What do you mean?” Bery’s shoulders shifted and her spine straightened a bit. One of her hands uncurled from around her mug. “The grannies?”

“All of us. Every woman who got married at seventeen to avoid being the Aunt, every one who stayed single until forty to be the Aunt, every choice they’ve made about who to marry and where to live and where to let their kids go to school. Every one of them was cut from the same cloth that we are.” She patted Beryl’s hand again. “And every one of them had the same hard decisions.”

“Then why are they making all of mine harder?” Beryl’s hands clenched again.

Eva had heard this before. She had said it before, although it hadn’t been Asta (it had been her uncle Kevin, actually) to whom she whined. “They’re trying to help. They aren’t always succeeding, but it’s good to remember that they’re actually trying to make the choices easier.”

Beryl looked up at her Aunt. “And what about you?”

It was a fair question, and Eva gave it the consideration it deserved. “I’m trying to give you space to figure out who you are. We do better – all of us, humans, family or not – with space to be ourselves.”

“And drink cocoa and not tea?”

“And drink cocoa and not tea.” The lessons about reading the grit at the bottom of a cocoa mug could be saved for another day.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/565372.html. You can comment here or there.

Paint it Blue

to an [personal profile] anke’s prompt. thanks to @theladyisugly, Sky, and @AlphaRaposa for helping me create Clarisse.

The first thing Clarisse Martin did when she came to school was cut her hair short and dye it blue.

The upperclassmen found this a little bit amusing – after all, changing yourself when the school Changes you so much, so quickly, seemed a little overkill – but the teachers said nothing, and none of the other students actually said anything to her about it.

Clarisse found the lack of commentary strange, but, since she hadn’t done it for them, was unworried by it. She found the few giggles from older students completely understandable, and ignored them.

When the Reveal on the first Friday of classes showed Clarisse and the rest of the Tenth Cohort some of what they’d gotten into, Clarrise walked slowly to the doctor’s office, running her fingers through her hair. It explained a lot – but she liked her hair blue.

Her Change knocked her off her feet only literally, fusing her legs together from the ankle down into a sort of tail. “I believe there is more coming,” Dr. Caitrin theorized. “In the meantime, getting around might be a little tricky. We’ll work something out.”

It was the kind of situation that could get you down. It was the kind of situation where being stared at wasn’t so much a matter of why as which of the myriad of reasons are you noticing? Clarisse tried to keep her chin up and a smile on her face. It wasn’t about them, she reminded herself. This was her thing to deal with.

When the man with the terrifying blue eyes managed to convince her to be his – it was Hell Night, her wheelchair had gotten thrown across the hall, and he had a voice like a heavenly melody – she accepted the collar, the oro’ at the end of her name, and the rules without argument. They weren’t, in the end, about her; like a school uniform, they hung on her like accessories.

But when, angry after a bad day at school and frustrated over her wheelchair and her slow-as-molasses change, he began shouting at hr, Clarisse shook her head and met her Keeper’s eyes.

“You’re a no-good, stupid bitch…”


“You don’t get to tell me no.

“You get to tell me what to do.” She touched the collar around her neck with three fingers. “You don’t get to tell me who I am.”

He stared, stunned into speechlessness.

Clarisse kept talking. “You get to decide where I go. What I say. What I wear, if you’re so inclined. You don’t get to decide who I am.”

He said nothing, but touched her hair – still short, still blue, almost the same color as his eyes – with three fingers. His other hand touched the place where her ankles had fused together.

He didn’t have a hand to touch her self with.

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1267957.html

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The Hardest Part… A story for the Giraffe Call

For ellenmillion‘s prompt.

“The hardest part of…”

The hardest part of anything was never what anyone said it was, because, Yaminah knew, the hardest part was whatever you were doing at the moment. One foot in front of the other; the marathon is no harder than a single step, but that single step can be the hardest thing you’ve done in your life.

Right now, the step over the threshold was her “hardest part.” She’d shucked pieces and parts of her job during the train ride, the bus ride, the subway ride, and the walk, but stepping over the threshold required her to remember that she was, indeed, Yaminah.

Right now, that was harder than it sounded. She ran her fingers over the beads in her pocket – she kept them in this jacket, in the locker at the bus station, so that she always had them before she got home. Not a rosary, but they served a similar cause.

This bead, carved like an hourglass, told her about the time she’d beat the world speed record in distance running and told no-one except her trainer. Yaminah could do that. Sophia couldn’t.

This bead, textured all over like sandpaper, told her of the time she’d scaled a limestone wall – not for a test, not for training, but because she could. Yaminah could do that. Sophia couldn’t.

Bead after bead, memory after memory, she pulled herself back. Yaminah was the girl who trained because it was fun. She was the girl who scaled mountains. She was the woman who made her first kill and spent the night retching, then went out and made her next kill.

The nights were Yaminah. The kills… those were Sophia, or Gloria, or Hannah. She had never killed aside from a mission. She had never climbed a mountain on a mission.

She ran her finger over the last bead, the one shaped like a cat, and let herself in to her apartment. The hardest part… Right now, the hardest part was remembering if she’d dumped the milk before she went on her mission.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/564528.html. You can comment here or there.