applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([art] red bird heart)
The streets in this place no longer have names. They stumble over each other, crowned with the shattered remains of the empire that once stood here, a crumbling diadem of glass and steel. Emaciated, rag-wrapped people creep through the twisted skeletons of towers, rifling through drifts of rubbish for a scrap of food. The sun cracks them, the hunger breaks them, and they all fall soon enough, these child-eyed beggars that refuse to abandon the ruin of their former glory.

And somewhere among them, tucked into the darkest corner or disguised as a shred of wind-flapped cloth, is the Bone Man.

The Bone Man has been here since the beginning. Maybe even before that, if the whispers that chase each other around night fires are true. The Bone Man does not crawl through the trash or chew his sores or lie in the dust and wait for the slow sleep of death to take him. The Bone Man struts through the midden like a prince and smiles, smiles, always smiles. His white teeth gleam in the burning sun and his skin is tight as a mummy's, his skull and tall bones clear through the wrapping. The people know that he is not like them, and they fear him and love him because of it.

And so some days when the Bone Man takes one of them away, always the best of them, they do not stop him. It is an honor to be chosen, for the Bone Man never chooses the lazy or the weak. Some days the Bone Man chooses the strong, some days the charming, some days the beautiful, and some days the wise. He smiles at them and reaches out his thin dry hand and takes them away. To a better place, the people say, and secretly they long to see it. To be chosen. To be loved by the Bone Man.

He has been here since the beginning, they tell each other on these occasions. He knows what is right.

And when the Bone Man returns, always alone, he tells them stories. Beautiful stories of towers that scrape the sky, cities that never sleep, and people that fly through the air.

And he says, One day these things will come again. You will tell your children what I have told you, and they will tell their children, and one day the beautiful things will be made again.

And the people sigh and smile and forget their worries, and in their hearts they love the Bone Man even more. Yes, the Bone Man knows what must be done.

And when the Bone Man takes their children or lovers or parents they know it is right. It's part of his plan, they say.

And would they stop him, even if they knew? If they knew he took the chosen ones and smiled at them and took their gifts, drinking the blood in their veins until their mouths drew back and their hearts pumped only air? If they knew he stole the beauty, the charisma, the wisdom, the strength and stored it away inside his ancient body, spinning only pieces of it into his stories to seduce them? If they knew the love they had for him was the love they had for the lost?

But they do not know. The Bone Man nests in their dreams like a spider, manipulating the strands of their pitiful lives to suit his purpose, as he has always done.

The beautiful things. The cities, the lights, the streets teeming with fattened flesh and hopes and promise and power. He remembers them well. Remembers the corruption of them, the greed and lust and hatred of them.

I will see them again, he says to the night, his mouth full of the taste of blood. I will rebuild them, create them just as they were. And he smiles his bone-white smile, and dreams his own dreams, while the people tell his stories to each other, again and again.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([art] red bird heart)
The streets in this place no longer have names. They stumble over each other, crowned with the shattered remains of the empire that once stood here, a crumbling diadem of glass and steel. Emaciated, rag-wrapped people creep through the twisted skeletons of towers, rifling through drifts of rubbish for a scrap of food. The sun cracks them, the hunger breaks them, and they all fall soon enough, these child-eyed beggars that refuse to abandon the ruin of their former glory.

And somewhere among them, tucked into the darkest corner or disguised as a shred of wind-flapped cloth, is the Bone Man.

The Bone Man has been here since the beginning. Maybe even before that, if the whispers that chase each other around night fires are true. The Bone Man does not crawl through the trash or chew his sores or lie in the dust and wait for the slow sleep of death to take him. The Bone Man struts through the midden like a prince and smiles, smiles, always smiles. His white teeth gleam in the burning sun and his skin is tight as a mummy's, his skull and tall bones clear through the wrapping. The people know that he is not like them, and they fear him and love him because of it.

And so some days when the Bone Man takes one of them away, always the best of them, they do not stop him. It is an honor to be chosen, for the Bone Man never chooses the lazy or the weak. Some days the Bone Man chooses the strong, some days the charming, some days the beautiful, and some days the wise. He smiles at them and reaches out his thin dry hand and takes them away. To a better place, the people say, and secretly they long to see it. To be chosen. To be loved by the Bone Man.

He has been here since the beginning, they tell each other on these occasions. He knows what is right.

And when the Bone Man returns, always alone, he tells them stories. Beautiful stories of towers that scrape the sky, cities that never sleep, and people that fly through the air.

And he says, One day these things will come again. You will tell your children what I have told you, and they will tell their children, and one day the beautiful things will be made again.

And the people sigh and smile and forget their worries, and in their hearts they love the Bone Man even more. Yes, the Bone Man knows what must be done.

And when the Bone Man takes their children or lovers or parents they know it is right. It's part of his plan, they say.

And would they stop him, even if they knew? If they knew he took the chosen ones and smiled at them and took their gifts, drinking the blood in their veins until their mouths drew back and their hearts pumped only air? If they knew he stole the beauty, the charisma, the wisdom, the strength and stored it away inside his ancient body, spinning only pieces of it into his stories to seduce them? If they knew the love they had for him was the love they had for the lost?

But they do not know. The Bone Man nests in their dreams like a spider, manipulating the strands of their pitiful lives to suit his purpose, as he has always done.

The beautiful things. The cities, the lights, the streets teeming with fattened flesh and hopes and promise and power. He remembers them well. Remembers the corruption of them, the greed and lust and hatred of them.

I will see them again, he says to the night, his mouth full of the taste of blood. I will rebuild them, create them just as they were. And he smiles his bone-white smile, and dreams his own dreams, while the people tell his stories to each other, again and again.

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How About Them Apples?

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