Tag Archive | verse: cracks

Up from the Cracks, a story of The Cracks for the Giraffe Call

For [personal profile] the_vulture‘s commissioned prompt.

In the same world as:
Through the Cracks (LJ)
“China is Here” (LJ)
The Dark of the City (Lj)

Content warning: there’s some atypical thinking and suggestions of prior abuse going on.

I woke like a dream from the dark, slipping out of the cracks in the sidewalk, slipping out of the holes in the world. I stepped out into the daylight world when she failed to pay attention, she who had been so dismissive of myths and dreams.

(Of course I know – well, think – assume, at least – where she went. That doesn’t mean I have to tell you, now does it? The wonderful thing about what I am. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to!

(Err, except the geasa, but don’t pay any mind to that. You don’t need to know about those!)

THE POINT BEING, I stepped out, and she vanished. *Poof* And, because this is what being a Changeling is, being a crack-dweller, a troll (so maligned!) a Fair Folk (Much better)… I took over where she’d left off. Because that is what you do, when you are the things that live between the cracks in the world.

Cue ominous music.

No, really, I’m a sweetie. I’m not going to eat your face or anything. I just wanted to be out in the world, not cramped in a nether dimension. I just wanted my own chance to shine.

(If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. Goat-free. Shit, was that out loud).

You keep side-tracking me. Keep that up and I’m going to eat your face, and then what will you listen with, mister?

Sweet and innocent. Sweet as sugar and pure as the driven snow, that’s me. Or, at least, that was Her.

They teach you, when you’re waiting for an Other to step through a crack, what you’re supposed to do and not do. What you’re supposed to say and not say. The lines to walk.

They teach you how to be a good little Changeling, because their goal is to get as many out as possible. If you make a fuss, you might bring the attention down of Those Who Watch, and then bam, they come patching the cracks and it’s forever before we can get anyone else out again. And we don’t want that, do we, miss wants-to-play? No we don’t, Papa. We’re not our mother. We’ll be good.

You get really good at saying the right lines, down there.

And, well, I wanted to stay out, and I knew what Those Who Watch do when they catch a changeling before they’re all the way anchored in, so I listened to what I was taught. I didn’t just slip into her skin, I became her. Every twitch, every glitch, every issue, every freaking volume (and she had a few, let me tell you).

And then, slowly, I… improved her. I smoothed out a rough edge here. I sanded down a splotchy spot there. Her complexion got better, she stopped twitching randomly. She began to speak in sentences of more than three words. She got a raise.

Her life had been constrained by rules she didn’t even understand, but what am I but the breaker of rules? Slowly, I touched up the edges of her life, fixed her hair, introduced us to a nice guy. Slowly, I sanded off the bits that made her uniquely Susan, and made her, instead, uniquely me.

And everything was going beautifully! The way we do things now isn’t the way they used to do it, shoving yourself into the body and psyche of a human, sharing living space, as it was. That has all sorts of negative side effects, the worst of which the riders going crazy, getting kicked out, or both at once. A rider without a body ends up shoving themselves into the nearest possible vessel – you end up with a lot of “charmed” items that way that were actually accidentally possessed, the poor spirit stuck until that item (stone statues are the worst) “died;” disintegrating completely.

And a rider who’s crazy brings Those Who Watch down on all of us, and, perhaps harsher, makes the world look. And there are things we don’t want the world looking at, any more than Those Who Watch do.

And there you got me sidetracked again. Stop that!

The way we do things now, that’s what I was talking about. As opposed to the old way, that nobody liked, including the hosts.

Now, I’m not really sure the hosts like it – they don’t act too nice when they’re pulled Under, but the cracks can warp you a bit – but it works a lot better for the riders. For me, in specific. The host, all of her, goes Under, and the Changeling, with a copy of her body and her memories, pops out Over.

This is important! This is important in my case, because, while I started out with a copy of Susan’s memory and body, as far as I knew, I didn’t start out with any actual Susan. Nada. Nyett. She was Below, doing whatever the stolen ones do. Crying, probably, and rocking back and forth. She seemed really good at crying and rocking back and forth.

The real problem was, I was getting good at it too. Not on purpose! I was doing my damndest to step out of those obnoxious patterns, trying to make my dull, dull host into someone entertaining to be. And I’d been working all those rough edges off.

But they kept coming back! I’d spend weeks slowly getting her – me – to used longer sentences, and then one of those borrowed memories would pop up, and there I was hiding in the closet, terrified the boojum was going to get me.

Something had to be done. And quick, because I couldn’t afford to go crazy. If I went crazy, well, we covered that. Those Who Watch, yadda, yadda, and then the people back Below would rip me to shreds, and I would never get out again.

Ever heard of a Changeling in therapy? The thought was laughable. “So, doc, I have these memories, but they’re not really mine, even though I’m living the life of the person whose memories they are.” I’d get “help,” all right, but not for the problem I actually had.

So I tried to muscle on through. It was just some memories, right? Just some memories, and some twitches, and a few superstitions that seemed to make everything worse if I ignored them. It was just some memories, a couple twitches, some superstitions, and a growing fear of going outside after dark.

Just the memories, the twitches, the superstitions, the fear of the dark, and the urge to run away from any man with a handlebar mustache.

Just memories, twitches, superstitions, fears, urges to run, and a habit of counting everything I ate.

Just memories, twitches, superstitions, fears, urges, habits, and a rising desire to set places on fire that I could barely recognize, places that spurred a fragment of a memory that, it seemed, Susan had repressed very deeply, places that made my skin crawl.

When I came to myself standing in front of a bar muttering the words to a fire spell, I decided that muscling through wasn’t going to work anymore. This body was clearly defective. I had to go back through the cracks. I had to make Susan take her body back.

Getting through the crack in that direction isn’t hard. It’s not even a challenge if you came from there, which I did, barely, remember I had.

Finding my other self was a bit trickier, but magic works so much more nicely down there. I had to hurry, was the problem. Those Who Watch notice holes in the world, like there being no Susan at all out there. We didn’t want them, clearly, to notice that.

And when I found her – cleaned up, pretty, in a field with unicorns, dangling her feet in the brook – do you know what she said? Of course you do, don’t you? She said no.

“Take it back,” I told her. “Go back to your life, I don’t want it anymore.”

“No.” She smiled like it was the nicest thing in the world she’d just said, instead of the end of mine. “No, I don’t want to.”

“You have to. You have to go back, please.” I shook her a little, I think. Neither of us liked the contact, so I stopped. “The voices, the nightmares… how did you manage not to burn the city down? You have to take it all back!”

“No,” she said again, and, still smiling, “you’d better leave. But when you go back – don’t worry so much.” She patted my shoulder. “You just have to remember to follow the rules, and everything comes out better.”

So I went back, back to her life, and the memories, and the twitches, and the interminable rules. And I found you, because I hear you’re good at this sort of thing.

I need to burn down a few buildings. And I need it untraceable.

Maybe then, the memories will let me live.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/268548.html. You can comment here or there.

The Dark of the City, a story of the Cracks for the Giraffe Call

For [personal profile] kay_brooke‘s prompt

The city always looked its best at night, or in the fresh near-dawn just after a rain. The lights dimmed all the rough edges, and made what looked grubby in daylight look romantic, noir, cheerful. In the daytime, the city looked run-down, grubby, like its denizens, past its prime. But like the hookers and hustlers, the nighttime added a shine to everything.

Lane walked down the South Street at midnight, nevermind which of those categories might fit the tight leather pants and tighter tank top, breathing in the smoke-tainted air, feeling the city lights against bare shoulders. The world was beautiful, for a certain definition. The world was certainly better than during the daylight. Times like this, you could believe in a little magic. Times like this, the world covered up its gritty parts for you, made itself into a story.

“Hey, you. I’ve got thirty dollars if you’ve got five minutes.”

The voice was greasy and slick, coming from a dark alley. Not the sort of place Lane liked to go. “Not here. Not there, for sure. Down by Lauren Park. In the light.”

“Heh, kid, not everyone likes the light. Come on, my money’s as good as anyone’s.”

“I don’t do creeps, spooks, cops, or monsters,” Lane answered shortly. “And if you’re hiding in a shadow, I can’t tell which of those you might be.”

“Only way to get the money.”

“I’m not a junkie.” Anymore. “I’m not that hard up for cash.”

“Pity,” the voice glorped. “We’re going to have to do this the hard way.”

Lane had started running at “Pity.” By then, it was too late. Something was already grabbing, pulling, tugging.

“Shit, shit, shit.” Tripped, elbows scraping across the pavement, scrabbling for any sort of purchase, Lane gave in to the small bomb of magic living deep inside. “I don’t do fucking goblins, either!”

The world exploded in a blast of light, a tiny sun, followed by a long splash of water, flooding the streets, washing away all the … filth… Lane stood up, looking around in the sparkling air. The city was always its best just before the dawn, just after a rainfall. Times like that, you could believe in a little magic.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/250134.html. You can comment here or there.

“China is Here,” a story for the Giraffe Call

For [personal profile] the_vulture‘s Prompt.

I think this is a monologue directly after Through the Cracks (LJ), which makes that one a bit more sinister.

For which I apologize. This was intended to be fanciful. O_O

We came with you, you see.

We came with you from England, from Germany, from Poland, from Italy. We came with you from China, from Japan, from Vietnam and Korea. We came from Africa, from the Middle East.

Long before that, we came over on a land bridge, through Russia. Longer still before that, we came out of the trees with you.

We have always been here. We seep in the culture, soaking it in, becoming it, and then we tell it back to you. We become your myths and your stories, and then bring them with you to the new world, your baggage you can never lose, your monkey you will never get off your back. Your roots in your cultural heritage. Your memories of a simpler time (how I love how you do that. As if your nightmare monsters spoke of a “simpler” time. As if your warning stories warned of, what, easier threats?)

Germany is here. Poland is here, China, England, Russia. Every fear and every monster you have ever dreamed up, every explanation for every bump in the night, every silly rhyme to soothe a colicky baby. All of them are here with you, carried like rats in the boats, carried like fleas on the rats, carried like a priceless heirloom in your pocket. We have been following you for millennia.

And now it is our turn to lead.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/233114.html. You can comment here or there.