applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([game of thrones] dany blue)
She woke to bells ringing. Far off, at the top of High Hill, skinny church boys were pulling on the ropes, the sound rolling down from the crown of the city into every sleeping ear. It was not yet dawn.

Katina went immediately to the window. Against the bruised sky the processional torches stood out like stars, a glittering constellation around the foot of High Hill Cathedral. As she watched, first one light then another separated from the glowing knot and began the slow march down from the peak of the hill, like beads sliding down a string.

“Katina! Are you up?” Her mother’s voice, sleep-fogged, on the other side of the door.

“I’m up.”

“Dress quickly so that I have time to do your hair.”

The pale blue dress hung from a hook in the wardrobe. Katina ran her fingers over the light fabric and lace trim. In a secret corner of her heart, she was excited to wear the dress. She imagined walking through the streets in her bare feet, hem skating the pavestones, flowers woven into her hair. It was her first year to wear blue. At sixteen, she was no longer a child, so the old white dress that had been stretched and added to until it was patched and ragged was put away forever.

The dress fit perfectly, fluttering around her like a breath of wind. The dress fit close in the bodice, accentuating the curves that had begun to rise from her slender shape. Even her mother couldn’t resist reaching out to feel the soft cloth between her fingers, though her mouth did not curve into a smile.

“You look beautiful, Katina.” But her eyes were dark and sad. She wound flowers into Katina’s black hair, heavy blue blooms that tugged at the intricate whorls she crafted so carefully.

Almost as soon as she had finished, bells rang again. These were deeper than the waking bells, rich and dark and full of meaning.

“Come, Katina,” her mother said, pulling on a black veil that matched her somber dress. They went out into the street.

Around them flowed a river of people dressed in all the colors of sky and sea. White, palest blue, true blue, navy, indigo, black, each according to age and status. Most women wore flowers in their hair though some wore ribbons, and Katina knew that once they reached the palazzo they would see the richer women bedecked with jewels and precious metals.

Most people were silent as they walked, though some of the children chattered or cried and there was always the wind-rustle of whispering in the crowd. Katina was quiet until she felt the pressure of another hand on hers.

“Eloise!” Eloise was her best friend: tiny, blond, and bold. Her dress was a confection of airy ruffles and her blue eyes seemed to glow. Katina lowered her voice. “You look amazing!”

“So do you,” Eloise said in a voice that was not quite a whisper. “That blue looks perfect against your skin. D’you think some of the boys from our class will see us?” She was struck with a sudden gale of giggles – not unusual, in her case. “I know it’s awful, but I really hope they do! I don’t think I’ve ever looked this good in my life!”

Katina shushed her friend. Eloise never took anything seriously, and the insistent piping of her voice was sure to draw the attention of Katina’s mother. Katina doubted she’d be amused by Eloise’s irreverence.

They didn’t speak again, but held hands all the way to the palazzo. Katina wondered if her friend’s heart was beating as rapidly as her own.

Katina’s home wasn’t far from the palazzo, but the crowd was thick and many people had already arrived. Eloise gave her a quick hug and dashed off to stand with her parents, leaving Katina with her mother. Not for the first time, Katina wished that she had the kind of mother she could confide in – someone she could tell about her conflicting feelings of fear and excitement. Her mother would never understand. Her mouth was a thin, tight line under her veil, and she clasped her hands so tightly that her knuckles turned white.

The palazzo was enormous and the crowd even more so, but it wasn’t long before everyone had found a place. It seemed only the space of a few moments before the priests filed out onto the raised platform at the front of the square. Silence fell like a stone; even the smallest child felt his breath stolen away.

The priests wore robes of rich, saturated purple and their necks were draped with gleaming silver chains. Each wore a heavy hood that drowned his features in shadow. Only the hands were visible – surprisingly young hands, all unblemished by age or scar. They formed a semicircle with a gap in the middle and stood with their heads bowed.

Then came the High Priest, in robes of deepest black. Even his hands were covered by soft black gloves, leaving him completely shrouded in darkness. He moved to fill the empty space at the front of the platform. Every person in the press seemed to be drawn onto their tiptoes, connected to him by an invisible, unbreakable thread. There was no rustling of fabric or shuffling of feet – only silence, thick with meaning, until he began to speak.

“Children of Sanctuary,” he said in a booming, resonant voice that carried to even the farthest ears, “I welcome you in the name of the Lord God, who is our shelter in times of trouble.”

There was an outbreak of pious muttering at this pronouncement, which the High Priest seemed to have expected. He paused magnanimously. When he spoke again, the voices immediately ceased.

“I am confident that I need not remind you why we join together on this, the first day of summer, but lest the absence of words leads us to forgetting, I will speak briefly of our meaning here.” Even though everyone in the palazzo, from the oldest to the youngest, knew why they had gathered, they all listened silently with their eyes wide and attentive.

“Many generations ago, our ancestors came here fleeing the horrors of war. The very earth and sky had been rent by man’s violent machinations, but while many had turned away their eyes from God’s light, some yet hungered for peace. In God’s name they built Sanctuary, our beautiful city. They wished only for harmony and brotherhood, and to make an end of war and pain.”

The High Priest’s tone turned somber. “Sadly, those whose hearts burned already with the flames of Hell were too caught up evil’s grasp to allow even this one haven of peace and fellowship. They surrounded the walls of Sanctuary, vowing to slake their thirst on blood and tears. The people despaired, fearing that the city would be destroyed.”

Katina risked a quick glance around the palazzo. Nearly everyone in the crowd was staring at the High Priest, their expressions rapt. But only a few yards away, Eloise caught her eye, grinned, and winked. Katina turned her head away quickly, hoping no one else had seen.

“The priests of the city gathered on the High Hill, then crowned only by grass and wildflowers, and begged God upon their knees for mercy and redemption. For seven days and nights they prayed constantly, never eating, surviving only on water.”

Katina felt herself leaning forward. She knew what was coming – had heard this story every year since she could remember – but it still moved her, even now. Even despite her own growing fear.

“On the eighth day, at sunrise, one of the priests rose from his knees. ‘Brothers,’ he cried. ‘I have heard God’s voice in the deep, and I know how we may be saved.’ The other priests rejoiced, and they moved through the city, calling out the news to the people they passed. Soon every man, woman, and child was following the priest who had heard God’s voice as he moved toward the city wall, his face alight with rapture and joy.

“When he reached the wall, he climbed to the place just above the gate and looked down on the evil horde massed below. ‘Brothers,’ he cried again, for though they were the enemy, they had indeed once been brothers to those holy men and women who lived in Sanctuary. ‘Will you not cease your war-mongering? Will you not leave this place?’ And the horde answered, ‘No!’ And they laughed at the holy brother and threw filth at him, though he did not flinch away. ‘We have no riches to loot,’ the priest called down. ‘Or food enough to feed such a host.’ ‘It is not riches or food we want,’ replied the horde.
‘Blood is what calls us. Death is all we want.’ And the priest looked grave and sad, but he had known all along that this is what the evil army would say. ‘Then I come down to you, my brothers,’ he said. ‘And give you what you desire.’

“The priest climbed down from the gate and spoke to the gathering of God’s people one last time. ‘I heard my name in God’s voice,’ he said, and his voice was full of light. ‘I go in God’s name, and God shall save us all.’ And before the people could understand his meaning, he opened the gate and slipped out.”

Here the High Priest bowed his head, and Katina felt herself doing the same. “The horde fell upon the priest like vermin and tore him to pieces. But even with his last breath he prayed for their salvation, and when the deed was done they felt ashamed. God’s arrows pierced their hearts, and they left Sanctuary in disgrace.”

The crowd drew a shuddery breath. For now was the moment they had waited for – the moment they most feared.

“Evil has not left us entirely,” the High Priest said grimly. “Every year, on the first day of summer – the day of the holy man’s sacrifice – darkness gathers at our gates and bays for blood. Every year the emissaries of Hell require a sacrament of blood and tears so that we may live in peace.”

Katina could feel her hands begin to shake.

“Every year, the priests gather on the High Hill and pray for seven days and seven nights. On the eighth day at sunrise, God’s voice sounds in our ears to tell us who shall be the avatar of our salvation for the year to come.”

Now Katina felt her entire body trembling. She had been safe as a child – God never required the sacrifice of an innocent. Now she was a woman, wearing her first blue dress. The color of the sky, of Heaven, of healing and mercy. Her lips began to move, and silently she prayed.

“God has spoken through us,” the High Priest said. The priests around him linked hands, reaching out at last to touch the night-black gloves. “He has chosen.”

Silence. Tears welled in Katina’s eyes. Around her, the crowd stopped breathing, stopped moving, stopped praying.

“Eloise Marvall.”

There was a shriek. Eloise’s mother stood with her hands over her mouth, her face white as bone. Eloise’s father fell to his knees, trembling. Katina felt her mother grip her hand, but it felt as though her body was far away from the rest of her. Eloise? No, no, not Eloise.

“No!” Eloise shouted. Her face, usually alight with fun and laughter, was wild, almost bestial. “No! I won’t go! It’s not right! It’s not –“ She spun on her heel, tried to run. Hands reached out from every angle, holding her in place.

“Eloise,” said the High Priest, his deep voice carrying over the tumult. “God has spoken. You will keep us safe.”

“I don’t want to!” Eloise screamed. “No!” But the hands pushed, pulled, dragged her forward. Her eyes were wide, the beauty of the blue lost in terror. “No, please!”

When she reached the foot of the platform, the priests reached out and grabbed her wrists. Those hands, so young and smooth, held her in a grip of iron. “Noooo!” Eloise screamed. Her voice had grown ragged, but she continued to struggle. “This is wrong! This is evil!

Katina tasted bile. She wanted to scream, too. She wanted to run forward, grab her friend, tear her away from the priests’ horrible, grasping hands. But she did not move. She did not scream. She felt sick. She felt as though her heart had shattered and sent razor-sharp splinters into every nerve of her body.

And deep down, in the secret place of her heart, she felt relief.

It had to happen. Though she ground her teeth to think of Eloise turned out of the city gates into the world beyond – the world that had been ravaged by war, populated by the descendants of evil men, their souls mutated until they barely resembled the humans they had once been – it was the only way. It was God’s way.

So when they dragged Eloise, screaming and weeping, her hands twisting in the priests’ impossible hold, Katina stood still and watched. God’s ways were unchangeable. He had kept them safe for generations, hundreds of years. Who was Eloise to question the way things had always been done? Who was she to question Him?
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] nobody puts her in the corner)
We need to talk. The sentiment hung between them like stale cigarette smoke, though neither spoke the words aloud. That heavy silence - the kind that always seems to hover between people right before a fight - was the reigning attribute of their marriage. Gwen liked to imagine all those words, the ones nobody said, floating around their heads in cartoon thought bubbles, crowding the air and occasionally glancing off of someone's temple, but otherwise studiously ignored.

She first became aware of the cartoon-thought-bubble we need to talk when Charlie started banging around the coffee cups in the kitchenette. It was 9:47 PM, watery yellow light seeping through the blinds and a dog barking somewhere down the street. Charlie'd just got off his shift at OK's Pizza, and the smell of pepperoni and burnt cheese clung to him like a greasy shadow. Anger clung to him, too - the slow, sludgy, why-me anger that Gwen hated so much.

When she couldn't bear another rattle-clunk of ceramic on the peeling vinyl countertop, she unstuck her tongue and pushed out the words.

"What's wrong, then?"

He looked up at her, his eyes narrow and black in the weak light, his curling hair greenish. For a moment she wished she could draw back the poison of her words - the exasperation of them - and make them sound like they would've six months ago, before they were married. Before they lived in a shitty double-wide and ate shitty pizza leftovers most every night, before she'd lost the baby, before they'd learned to hate each other. Then he deliberately thunked down the pink-polka-dotted mug the other cashiers had given her on her last day at the Piggly Wiggly, and anger flared like hot breath on her neck. It made her tongue loose, the words flashing from her lips like sparks.

"Can you stop doing that for one fucking second?"

Thunk.

"You're an asshole, you know that?"

Thunk.

She threw up her hands. She wanted to hit him. She wanted to throw a mug in his face and break his teeth. Instead she spun on her heel and stormed back toward the TV, Wheel of Fortune flickering brightly on the fake wood paneled wall.

"Was she mine?"

She stopped. The words flowed through her, tingling hot and cold at the same time. She turned. "What?"

"You know." Charlie was in the same place, his eyes still grim and black, his skin waxy. "Was she mine?"

"You -- You --"

"I know you were fucking that fatass deli manager," he said, his voice climbing two octaves in quick succession. "Ty told me."

"What the fuck are you talking about?" But her voice was higher, too, and with every double-thump of her heart she felt the words bouncing off her head - he knows, he knows, he knows.

It had been July, the month before she came up pregnant and Charlie'd bought her a ring from Sears with all his college savings. She'd been with Charlie for seven months, just long enough to get bored of the Red Box movie nights and the smell of pizza on his skin. Her nerves were tight and jangling, begging for release. Sam worked in the deli department, and he'd always looked at her with those mean little eyes of his - looked at her so that she could feel his thick fingers on her, in her, even before the first time she'd followed him into the walk-in freezer.

She thought it would only be once. The wrongness of it had appealed to her, but just for a minute. How could anyone want that more than once - back pressed up against cold metal shelving, polyester pants around her ankles, sour breath on her neck? She'd go back to Charlie, go back to her life. It would be easy.

But it happened again, again, again - in the freezer, her car, his mother's apartment. And then the stick had two lines instead of one, and she had a ring on her finger and a date set for October.

When she miscarried, she felt destroyed and reborn all at once. The baby would have loved her, she knew, and it killed her to have lost that. But what if she had been born with Sam's squinty eyes instead of Charlie's curly hair? What if she had slid from between Gwen's thighs with a confession stamped on her face - one that Gwen never planned to make? Who would take care of her then?

And there it was, the tiny pinprick of relief that she carried in her chest that had rotted her from the inside out every day since.

Now Charlie was staring at her, his eyes full of hurt and anger and maybe even hate, the words ballooning up between them like cumulus clouds. There were so many things she could say --

"It was nothing."

"She was yours."

"I love you."

But she didn't. She never would, not even to save herself. And when she walked out of the double-wide that night with the Sears engagement ring in her pocket and Charlie's hidden pizza savings in her purse, the words that she hadn't said followed her like a balloon on a string, darkening her face with its shadow.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] kiss mark)
Well, I did get eliminated tonight in LJ Idol.

I was pretty broken up about it for the first little bit, but I am feeling much better now. This is pretty consistent with how I handle competitive losses - because I'm such a competitive person and so ambitious about the things I love, I tend to feel REALLY awful if I don't perform up to my standards and reach the goals I set for myself. In the case of Idol, I decided pretty early on that I was going to gun for Top 10. I knew that it was a long shot and that I would have to work hard to make it happen, but I am the kind of person who always shoots for the tough target. Usually it works out reasonably well for me because it means I don't give up, and this competition is really no exception. I made it all the way to the top 14, and that's not too shabby.

So I am disappointed that I didn't make my goal, but I did do pretty well all things considered, and I have to be glad for that.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me through the last several months. You guys have saved my keister more than once, and I will never forget how so many of my friends went to bat for me. This competition has meant so much to me, because it's given me the confidence to write and, more importantly, share my fiction. That was a big step for me, and you guys have all been so wonderful through the whole thing.

I really do love to write, guys. I've loved it since I wrote my first story in the third grade (about a baby seal trapped on an island, lol) and my teacher told me that she thought I had what it takes to become a great writer. Since then, that's been my dream. Never faltered. I might do other things in the interim, but I won't give up on someday being able to write professionally. This competition has made me believe in that dream again, and that's been the best part of it all.

And now I've got to get back to writing about my actual life on my LJ... don't get excited, flist, you remember how boring that was!



(And thank you so much to the people who commented on my last post! I hope to respond to those comments at some point, but whenever I look at them my eyes get all leaky again. Thank you so much, it means more than I can say :))
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] butterfly mask)
The corpse was discovered just before daybreak, draped across the lush green grass like a sleeping angel. There was some confusion surrounding the time that the body actually appeared on the lawn, for it lay immediately adjacent to a house that had been hosting a large and raucous party for several hours prior to (and during, and even slightly after) the gruesome discovery. Many people admitted to having seen the girl on the grass throughout the course of the night, but had figured her a happy casualty of the bacchanalia and gone on their way.

None of these witnesses could pin down an exact time to seeing her (and it was suspected, if not spoken aloud, that some of them were simply caught up in the excitement of the thing and weren't entirely truthful in their accounts), and so the discovery was attributed to a member of the band, who had wandered out at around five fifteen in the morning and attempted to wake her. It was at this point that he noticed that she didn't have a pulse.

The news quickly circulated. Before long, a knot of people were clustered around the pale figure, breathless with fear and a kind of morbid excitement.

“I’ve never seen a dead body before,” said a girl in a thrilling whisper. She wore shredded green tights and held her thin, nicotine-stained fingers to her mouth.

“You’ve never been a funeral?” someone else inquired.

“That doesn’t count,” the girl said decisively. “It isn’t the same.”

A bobbing wave went through the group as everyone nodded. Most had leaned over the powdered, preserved corpses of distant relatives in pillow-lined boxes, their noses full of the cloying scent of funeral wreaths. This was different – more dignified, somehow. Each person in the cluster felt a certain respect for the dead girl at their feet. She brought mortality to them in a way dead grandparents and great-aunts never had, and each of them seemed to momentarily felt the cold flurry of its wings. Several began speaking at once in an attempt to break the dark spell.

"Does anybody know who she is?"

"I thought I saw her with you on the front porch, isn't that right?"

"Did she come with anyone else?"

All of these questions were answered in the negative. Nobody knew her. No one had sat with her on the front porch. Certainly nobody had come in with her. She seemed to have materialized out of thin air, a fairy-tale princess transported to them by the magic of her last breath.

“Should we call the police?” someone asked tentatively. There was a general murmur of assent, though no one moved to carry out the deed. All of them remained fixed, their eyes on the body that gleamed faintly in the grass. It was as though they feared she might fade into the dewy morning like a phantom if they turned their eyes away.

Finally, a shiver of movement broke the concentration. A young man in a battered straw fedora pulled his cell phone from his pocket and determinedly dialed it. He looked off over the rooftops and young, shivering suburban trees, as though determined not to meet the vigilant eyes of his fellows. He didn't move away, though; he couldn't resist the charm of such a captive audience.

The call was brief and relatively uninteresting. The best part was when the young man said, "We've found a dead body," in a tone that he obviously intended to be nonchalant, but came out as though he imagined himself as some kind of hard-bitten TV detective. One of the girls at the back of the group tittered nervously.

When it was all over, the young man turned to the rest of them, and they gathered in around him with expressions that were somehow both curious and conspiratorial. "They're on their way," he said. This time he got the tone right, but his eager face belied his enthusiasm.

There was a sudden swell of talk, like a breaking wave, and then silence again. Eyes full of meaning sought each other in the crowd, then turned to the body, then flicked away again. The moment of reverent focus was gone, but the fascination remained. Some people stepped gingerly closer, and the bravest knelt to get a better look.

"She's pretty," a girl with a blonde mohawk said. And she was. She wore a short, lacy party dress, the color of champagne bubbles. She had long, honey colored hair and a delicate face. On one of her fingers, she wore a ring shaped like a butterfly.

This was all people could remember, when later asked. They had stared and stared and stared at her, but could only ever faintly remember what she looked like. It was like trying to remember a dream, and scraps of it seemed to be continually floating away from them.

The ambulance and police cars arrived ten minutes later. Statements were given, reports written, and the staccato lightning of camera flashes flickered over the grass as the first blades of daylight sliced across the sky. Then, almost ceremoniously, like an honor guard, they placed the body on a stretcher and bore it grimly away. The partygoers watched with hungry eyes until the last of the taillights turned the corner and rushed away.

No one ever figured out who she was. No one ever claimed her. She faded quickly into a story to interest dates or relatives, a macabre token of the speaker's worldliness and wild ways. They talked about her romantically, dramatically, hanging meaning and wonder and mystery on the fragile shell of their memories. They built her up like an idol of mist, powerful and vague. She was the smoke that curled from their cigarettes, the tension that hung between their words, the pale-blue moment just before the summer sun breaks across the morning sky. Almost solid, almost someone, but not quite.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([girls] butterfly mask)
The corpse was discovered just before daybreak, draped across the lush green grass like a sleeping angel. There was some confusion surrounding the time that the body actually appeared on the lawn, for it lay immediately adjacent to a house that had been hosting a large and raucous party for several hours prior to (and during, and even slightly after) the gruesome discovery. Many people admitted to having seen the girl on the grass throughout the course of the night, but had figured her a happy casualty of the bacchanalia and gone on their way.

None of these witnesses could pin down an exact time to seeing her (and it was suspected, if not spoken aloud, that some of them were simply caught up in the excitement of the thing and weren't entirely truthful in their accounts), and so the discovery was attributed to a member of the band, who had wandered out at around five fifteen in the morning and attempted to wake her. It was at this point that he noticed that she didn't have a pulse.

The news quickly circulated. Before long, a knot of people were clustered around the pale figure, breathless with fear and a kind of morbid excitement.

“I’ve never seen a dead body before,” said a girl in a thrilling whisper. She wore shredded green tights and held her thin, nicotine-stained fingers to her mouth.

“You’ve never been a funeral?” someone else inquired.

“That doesn’t count,” the girl said decisively. “It isn’t the same.”

A bobbing wave went through the group as everyone nodded. Most had leaned over the powdered, preserved corpses of distant relatives in pillow-lined boxes, their noses full of the cloying scent of funeral wreaths. This was different – more dignified, somehow. Each person in the cluster felt a certain respect for the dead girl at their feet. She brought mortality to them in a way dead grandparents and great-aunts never had, and each of them seemed to momentarily felt the cold flurry of its wings. Several began speaking at once in an attempt to break the dark spell.

"Does anybody know who she is?"

"I thought I saw her with you on the front porch, isn't that right?"

"Did she come with anyone else?"

All of these questions were answered in the negative. Nobody knew her. No one had sat with her on the front porch. Certainly nobody had come in with her. She seemed to have materialized out of thin air, a fairy-tale princess transported to them by the magic of her last breath.

“Should we call the police?” someone asked tentatively. There was a general murmur of assent, though no one moved to carry out the deed. All of them remained fixed, their eyes on the body that gleamed faintly in the grass. It was as though they feared she might fade into the dewy morning like a phantom if they turned their eyes away.

Finally, a shiver of movement broke the concentration. A young man in a battered straw fedora pulled his cell phone from his pocket and determinedly dialed it. He looked off over the rooftops and young, shivering suburban trees, as though determined not to meet the vigilant eyes of his fellows. He didn't move away, though; he couldn't resist the charm of such a captive audience.

The call was brief and relatively uninteresting. The best part was when the young man said, "We've found a dead body," in a tone that he obviously intended to be nonchalant, but came out as though he imagined himself as some kind of hard-bitten TV detective. One of the girls at the back of the group tittered nervously.

When it was all over, the young man turned to the rest of them, and they gathered in around him with expressions that were somehow both curious and conspiratorial. "They're on their way," he said. This time he got the tone right, but his eager face belied his enthusiasm.

There was a sudden swell of talk, like a breaking wave, and then silence again. Eyes full of meaning sought each other in the crowd, then turned to the body, then flicked away again. The moment of reverent focus was gone, but the fascination remained. Some people stepped gingerly closer, and the bravest knelt to get a better look.

"She's pretty," a girl with a blonde mohawk said. And she was. She wore a short, lacy party dress, the color of champagne bubbles. She had long, honey colored hair and a delicate face. On one of her fingers, she wore a ring shaped like a butterfly.

This was all people could remember, when later asked. They had stared and stared and stared at her, but could only ever faintly remember what she looked like. It was like trying to remember a dream, and scraps of it seemed to be continually floating away from them.

The ambulance and police cars arrived ten minutes later. Statements were given, reports written, and the staccato lightning of camera flashes flickered over the grass as the first blades of daylight sliced across the sky. Then, almost ceremoniously, like an honor guard, they placed the body on a stretcher and bore it grimly away. The partygoers watched with hungry eyes until the last of the taillights turned the corner and rushed away.

No one ever figured out who she was. No one ever claimed her. She faded quickly into a story to interest dates or relatives, a macabre token of the speaker's worldliness and wild ways. They talked about her romantically, dramatically, hanging meaning and wonder and mystery on the fragile shell of their memories. They built her up like an idol of mist, powerful and vague. She was the smoke that curled from their cigarettes, the tension that hung between their words, the pale-blue moment just before the summer sun breaks across the morning sky. Almost solid, almost someone, but not quite.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] my kingdom on the waves)
One hour after dark. Tucked into a dark corner, a man in a black coat watched people drift down the narrow junction of streets across from Stayman's Pharmacy and the crumbling old cinemaplex, its lights still blinking to advertise a two-year-old nudie flick. He'd been to see it himself, six months ago, because even a shitty old theater showing shitty old movies was better than nothing. The sound hadn't worked well, and there were sections of the film that were entirely unwatchable due to tears and burns in the celluloid, but it was an all right way to pass an evening. Better than this, anyway.

None of the people passing him were right for what he wanted. He could tell at a glance - he'd been doing this a long time. Nearly all of them had Tik parts, and cheap ones at that. The ones that didn't were too old or too haggard. His clients had paid him well to get what they wanted: fresh, young, and one hundred percent human.

Of course, people like that, they just assumed that the streets were packed with that kind of stock, like they had been in the old days. It was some kind of romantic notion that'd started going around in the rich parts of town years ago. They'd even made films about it, though those were the kinds of films that only showed in the richie cinemas uptown, and he had never seen one. Still, he got the gist. Always a poor couple, deeply in love, living out their brief lives in a passionate whirl of emotion. Eventually finding meaning in each other, shunning Cybernetik parts, and dying young but whole in each other's arms. So on and so forth, blah blah blah.

It was stupid, and deep down they had to know it wasn't real. It was just something to entertain them. The poor sections of town weren't romantic, and they certainly weren't full of young, able-bodied humans living out their short but meaningful and happy lives together. If anything, there were probably more Cybernetiks among the poor than the wealthy. Richies, at least, could pay someone to obtain human parts if they needed a little fixer-upper. Someone like him.

He himself had Tik parts, though he didn't like to advertise that. His work had afforded him enough cash to get decent ones, and they weren't as immediately obvious as the cheap stuff. His left eye was all Tik, replaced three years ago, and most of the bones and tendons in his left arm were as well. He'd been in a car accident, and that seemed the only way to go if he didn't want to be permanently disabled.

He hadn't wanted to do it - like everyone else, before he'd needed them he'd planned never to get Cybernetiks. Like everyone else, he hadn't wanted to be less than human.

He'd realized after he'd gotten them, though, that everyone did it. They said they never would, but everyone did in the end. Nobody really wanted to weaken, to decay. Nobody wanted to die. But nobody wanted to admit that they were cheating it, either. It was that romance thing again. There was nothing romantic about replacing your body parts with machines when they got damaged or wore out. It was more romantic to think about grabbing on to the short time you had and making the most of it. But nobody really did that, not anymore. They just pretended.

And the richies, well. They cheated in their own way, to avoid the stigma. This way they were all human, all the time, and could look down their noses at the Tiks. It was just one more thing to feel superior about.

He sighed. It was nearly eight o' clock now. Curfew was at ten, and his apartment was on the other side of town. Traffic being what it was, it'd take him nearly an hour to get back to his place. If he didn't spot someone soon, he was giving it up as a bad job. He'd go back out on the weekend, when there were more people around and the curfew was extended an hour. The richies could wait.

Then he spotted her. She just drifted down the street in front of him, turning down Pier Avenue without the slightest glance around her. She wore a navy blue dress that was at least one size too big for her, and a ragged tan overcoat with a small collection of pins and buttons around the collar that winked in the streetlights. She was obviously underfed, but pretty nonetheless - he could make out her fine features in the dimness. She had long, sweeping black hair that fell down her back like dark water. And, best of all, she was completely human.

It wasn't always easy to tell if they were all human, but he had developed a knack for it. Of course, Tiks in this part of town were usually pretty obvious, with maker's marks stamped on them or visible joints or frayed prosthetic skin. Even if the Tiks were only on the inside, organs or bones or muscles, people just moved differently. He could spot them a mile off. This girl, though. She was one hundred percent.

When she had gotten a few yards ahead of him, the man in the black coat pushed off the wall and began to follow her. He was careful to keep his footsteps silent, but the girl never so much as turned her head. She was obviously the kind of girl who had been coddled, in the limited way that people around here could coddle a person. No doubt everyone in this neighborhood knew her, the pretty girl with the long black hair, and treated her like their own little pauper-princess. Nobody'd ever think to lay a hand on her.

When she didn't turn up at home that night, the alarm would be raised quickly. People would turn out in droves, sacrificing what little sleep they usually got to call her name in the streets. It wouldn't matter, though, by that time. He would already be gone, and so would she.

The buildings on either side of the street melted away suddenly, revealing the riverfront. It was as decrepit as everything else; the bank of the river was strewn with trash, and the air stank. It was muggier down here, as though the fetid water of the river pressed down against the eyes and skin. The man in black hung back in the mouth of street, watching the wraithlike figure of the girl moving between the streetlights. What was she doing down here? Meeting some lover?

Many of the streetlights along the river had gone out, and the girl seemed to blink in and out of existence entirely as she moved through these swathes of darkness. He realized that she was heading toward a large, run-down building overlooking the river - a defunct ferry station. Without the slightest hesitation, she entered the darkened building. He himself paused for a moment before following her inside; it was rare for him to go so far before taking out a target, and he would have to find a place to stash the girl while he went back for his car. Moving around so much could attract attention. His eyes flicked over to the blank-eyed windows of the buildings across the street. All were dark, and his Tik eye did not pick out any shadows against the glass.

The girl was too good to leave behind. He had never taken a target in such good shape. Drawing a deep, silent breath, he walked through one of the empty doorways into the station.

He paused just inside the door, his eyes swiveling back and forth over the broken-down interior, trying to locate the girl. Rubbish was piled up nearly to the ceiling in some places, mostly parts of old vehicles and other scrap metal, and it took him a moment to spot her. She was moving slowly between the pillars of junk, as if browsing. Perhaps she was looking for something in particular, something she'd hidden here. The idea appealed to him. Even he was romantic, in his way. He moved quickly towards her, drawing a small bottle of chemicals and a rag out of the inside pocket of his black coat.

The shock, when it came, was so unexpected that he kept moving for several steps without realizing that he was falling. His knees hit the floor, and the bottle of chemicals rolled out of his limp hand and rang out against the concrete floor. He tried to look around to see what had happened, but another electric charge coursed through his body. His left arm seized up, and his left eye seemed to vibrate in its socket, bright points of light bursting inside it. His chin slid toward his chest, and he would have fallen on his face if a large hand had not clamped down on his shoulder, keeping him upright.

When he looked up, the girl was standing right in front of him. She was just as pretty as he had thought, with sharp, aristocratic features and fathomless black eyes. She seemed to be looking him over - not as though she was curious about who he was or where he had come from, though. More as if she was evaluating him. Taking stock.

"Tik?" She asked someone behind him.

"Some parts on the left side," came the reply. The voice that belonged to the hand on his shoulder was male.

"Organs?"

"Don't think so."

The girl knelt and began to prod him with long, bony fingers. "No," she said. "He's got most of those, at least."

"Would be better if he didn't have any Tiks," the male voice said.

She shook her head, her black hair swaying hypnotically around her face. "We can sell those, too. They won't go for as much, but there are still buyers. Anyway, where do you find someone without Tiks down here?"

She got to her feet. "Well," she said, her voice rich with amusement. The man looked up at her, though pain shot through his body with the movement. "Thought you'd stumbled on a prize, didn't you? You wouldn't be the first."

He didn't answer - there wasn't time. He felt the jab of a needle in his neck, and the vision in his right eye immediately began to blur, as if he was looking at the scene from underwater. His Tik eye, however, stayed open and focused on the girl in the navy blue dress. She looked down at him, smiled, and closed his eyelids with a gentle hand.

And then he was gone, washed away.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] my kingdom on the waves)
One hour after dark. Tucked into a dark corner, a man in a black coat watched people drift down the narrow junction of streets across from Stayman's Pharmacy and the crumbling old cinemaplex, its lights still blinking to advertise a two-year-old nudie flick. He'd been to see it himself, six months ago, because even a shitty old theater showing shitty old movies was better than nothing. The sound hadn't worked well, and there were sections of the film that were entirely unwatchable due to tears and burns in the celluloid, but it was an all right way to pass an evening. Better than this, anyway.

None of the people passing him were right for what he wanted. He could tell at a glance - he'd been doing this a long time. Nearly all of them had Tik parts, and cheap ones at that. The ones that didn't were too old or too haggard. His clients had paid him well to get what they wanted: fresh, young, and one hundred percent human.

Of course, people like that, they just assumed that the streets were packed with that kind of stock, like they had been in the old days. It was some kind of romantic notion that'd started going around in the rich parts of town years ago. They'd even made films about it, though those were the kinds of films that only showed in the richie cinemas uptown, and he had never seen one. Still, he got the gist. Always a poor couple, deeply in love, living out their brief lives in a passionate whirl of emotion. Eventually finding meaning in each other, shunning Cybernetik parts, and dying young but whole in each other's arms. So on and so forth, blah blah blah.

It was stupid, and deep down they had to know it wasn't real. It was just something to entertain them. The poor sections of town weren't romantic, and they certainly weren't full of young, able-bodied humans living out their short but meaningful and happy lives together. If anything, there were probably more Cybernetiks among the poor than the wealthy. Richies, at least, could pay someone to obtain human parts if they needed a little fixer-upper. Someone like him.

He himself had Tik parts, though he didn't like to advertise that. His work had afforded him enough cash to get decent ones, and they weren't as immediately obvious as the cheap stuff. His left eye was all Tik, replaced three years ago, and most of the bones and tendons in his left arm were as well. He'd been in a car accident, and that seemed the only way to go if he didn't want to be permanently disabled.

He hadn't wanted to do it - like everyone else, before he'd needed them he'd planned never to get Cybernetiks. Like everyone else, he hadn't wanted to be less than human.

He'd realized after he'd gotten them, though, that everyone did it. They said they never would, but everyone did in the end. Nobody really wanted to weaken, to decay. Nobody wanted to die. But nobody wanted to admit that they were cheating it, either. It was that romance thing again. There was nothing romantic about replacing your body parts with machines when they got damaged or wore out. It was more romantic to think about grabbing on to the short time you had and making the most of it. But nobody really did that, not anymore. They just pretended.

And the richies, well. They cheated in their own way, to avoid the stigma. This way they were all human, all the time, and could look down their noses at the Tiks. It was just one more thing to feel superior about.

He sighed. It was nearly eight o' clock now. Curfew was at ten, and his apartment was on the other side of town. Traffic being what it was, it'd take him nearly an hour to get back to his place. If he didn't spot someone soon, he was giving it up as a bad job. He'd go back out on the weekend, when there were more people around and the curfew was extended an hour. The richies could wait.

Then he spotted her. She just drifted down the street in front of him, turning down Pier Avenue without the slightest glance around her. She wore a navy blue dress that was at least one size too big for her, and a ragged tan overcoat with a small collection of pins and buttons around the collar that winked in the streetlights. She was obviously underfed, but pretty nonetheless - he could make out her fine features in the dimness. She had long, sweeping black hair that fell down her back like dark water. And, best of all, she was completely human.

It wasn't always easy to tell if they were all human, but he had developed a knack for it. Of course, Tiks in this part of town were usually pretty obvious, with maker's marks stamped on them or visible joints or frayed prosthetic skin. Even if the Tiks were only on the inside, organs or bones or muscles, people just moved differently. He could spot them a mile off. This girl, though. She was one hundred percent.

When she had gotten a few yards ahead of him, the man in the black coat pushed off the wall and began to follow her. He was careful to keep his footsteps silent, but the girl never so much as turned her head. She was obviously the kind of girl who had been coddled, in the limited way that people around here could coddle a person. No doubt everyone in this neighborhood knew her, the pretty girl with the long black hair, and treated her like their own little pauper-princess. Nobody'd ever think to lay a hand on her.

When she didn't turn up at home that night, the alarm would be raised quickly. People would turn out in droves, sacrificing what little sleep they usually got to call her name in the streets. It wouldn't matter, though, by that time. He would already be gone, and so would she.

The buildings on either side of the street melted away suddenly, revealing the riverfront. It was as decrepit as everything else; the bank of the river was strewn with trash, and the air stank. It was muggier down here, as though the fetid water of the river pressed down against the eyes and skin. The man in black hung back in the mouth of street, watching the wraithlike figure of the girl moving between the streetlights. What was she doing down here? Meeting some lover?

Many of the streetlights along the river had gone out, and the girl seemed to blink in and out of existence entirely as she moved through these swathes of darkness. He realized that she was heading toward a large, run-down building overlooking the river - a defunct ferry station. Without the slightest hesitation, she entered the darkened building. He himself paused for a moment before following her inside; it was rare for him to go so far before taking out a target, and he would have to find a place to stash the girl while he went back for his car. Moving around so much could attract attention. His eyes flicked over to the blank-eyed windows of the buildings across the street. All were dark, and his Tik eye did not pick out any shadows against the glass.

The girl was too good to leave behind. He had never taken a target in such good shape. Drawing a deep, silent breath, he walked through one of the empty doorways into the station.

He paused just inside the door, his eyes swiveling back and forth over the broken-down interior, trying to locate the girl. Rubbish was piled up nearly to the ceiling in some places, mostly parts of old vehicles and other scrap metal, and it took him a moment to spot her. She was moving slowly between the pillars of junk, as if browsing. Perhaps she was looking for something in particular, something she'd hidden here. The idea appealed to him. Even he was romantic, in his way. He moved quickly towards her, drawing a small bottle of chemicals and a rag out of the inside pocket of his black coat.

The shock, when it came, was so unexpected that he kept moving for several steps without realizing that he was falling. His knees hit the floor, and the bottle of chemicals rolled out of his limp hand and rang out against the concrete floor. He tried to look around to see what had happened, but another electric charge coursed through his body. His left arm seized up, and his left eye seemed to vibrate in its socket, bright points of light bursting inside it. His chin slid toward his chest, and he would have fallen on his face if a large hand had not clamped down on his shoulder, keeping him upright.

When he looked up, the girl was standing right in front of him. She was just as pretty as he had thought, with sharp, aristocratic features and fathomless black eyes. She seemed to be looking him over - not as though she was curious about who he was or where he had come from, though. More as if she was evaluating him. Taking stock.

"Tik?" She asked someone behind him.

"Some parts on the left side," came the reply. The voice that belonged to the hand on his shoulder was male.

"Organs?"

"Don't think so."

The girl knelt and began to prod him with long, bony fingers. "No," she said. "He's got most of those, at least."

"Would be better if he didn't have any Tiks," the male voice said.

She shook her head, her black hair swaying hypnotically around her face. "We can sell those, too. They won't go for as much, but there are still buyers. Anyway, where do you find someone without Tiks down here?"

She got to her feet. "Well," she said, her voice rich with amusement. The man looked up at her, though pain shot through his body with the movement. "Thought you'd stumbled on a prize, didn't you? You wouldn't be the first."

He didn't answer - there wasn't time. He felt the jab of a needle in his neck, and the vision in his right eye immediately began to blur, as if he was looking at the scene from underwater. His Tik eye, however, stayed open and focused on the girl in the navy blue dress. She looked down at him, smiled, and closed his eyelids with a gentle hand.

And then he was gone, washed away.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([animal] wolf cub)
Even after the world caught fire and the rivers and lakes burned away, the temple at the edge of the sea stood sentinel over black waves. It was built of stone that had been scoured white by salty wind, and was unornamented apart from the stone wolf’s head that rose on a spire forty feet in the air. The spire had been there long before the wolf’s head, bare and sharp as a fang, though records of that time had been purged from the temple’s library. The bold black letters bearing the former name of the place had been covered over with white paint. Even if the words had been visible, they would have had no meaning now. The world had grown and withered and changed, and the old ways had been forgotten.

Lue liked to watch the sea, sitting on the lip of a rocky overhang with her robes and black hair snapping in the chill wind. It was only when she looked out on the water that she felt alive – a miniscule heart beating red and rich and vibrant in a colorless world. Whenever she could, she slipped out of the dormitory and stared out at the waves, dreaming of boats and kites and sea monsters that would bear her away from this cold, rocky hill. Lately she even crept out of the temple during prayers, the headache that pounded down on her in the smoky, fragrant building dissolving at the first rush of sea air.

They were praying now; she could hear the murmuring of voices coming through the wind in low, musical bursts. She didn’t fear being caught, really – most of the other devotees were so enraptured during prayer that they wouldn’t notice if she cartwheeled out of the building. It wasn’t likely that anyone had noticed her edging out of the door while all heads were bowed, silent as a wraith in her bare feet.

She had never felt the same euphoria that seemed to grip the others during prayer. The temple left her cold, even with all of its lush trappings – the heavy black velvet curtains, the carefully painted scenes of running wolves… even the minutely crafted silver statue of the wolf god himself, with its sparkling golden eyes, did not move her to gasps of wonder like it did the others. Sometimes Lue wondered if anything apart from the sea could move her heart. A curious way, she thought, for the living receptacle of a god to feel.

For Lue, it was said, was god-touched. She had been chosen by the wolf god before she had even been born, and marked with his sign – golden eyes, like his. Old Bett, the grey woman that ran the tiny women's dormitory, told her that her mother had brought her to the temple the day the sign was clear, tears dripping from her chin.

“She were only a simple woman,” Bett said, “and rightly god-fearing. She knew the temple was the only place you’d be properly cared for, so she gave you your name – all she had to give, the poor thing – and handed you over to Master Lycus himself.”

Master Lycus was the religious leader at the temple, a tall, broad-shouldered man with an imperious manner and eyes and hair the color of lead. He was as close to a father figure as Lue could remember having – a distant father, perhaps, but a father all the same. He was Lue’s primary teacher, as he did not trust the others to instruct her properly in the ways of the order. As she grew older, Lue understood that this controlling aspect of his character was born out of true devotion to the wolf god rather than an overbearing personality, but she still chafed at it. She chafed at everything about temple life. As far as she was concerned, she hadn’t asked for golden eyes, and just because she happened to have them didn’t mean that her entire life should be signed away to a god she didn’t even believe in.

It had taken a long time for her to decide that she didn’t believe in the wolf god, but once she came to that conclusion there was no undoing it. The thought was like a knot in her belly. Everything in her life led in and out of it. She just didn’t understand how anyone could be happy in this life – cloistered in a miserable huddle of rocks, praying for hours to a god who never seemed to listen and certainly never replied.

A sudden lash of rain struck her face. Lue knew she should go inside; the rain would make it obvious that she had left during prayers, and the devotees would be upset with her for putting her health at risk. She was their treasure, and they treated her like a piece of sea glass rather than a girl of fifteen summers. When she stood, though, she walked along the cliff-edge rather than back toward the temple. She couldn’t bear the thought of going back there, into the musky, incense-wreathed room and the garbled roar of prayer.

The rain was falling in sheets now, coursing through her hair and into her clothes, soaking her to the bone. It clouded her vision, and she imagined a bridge of water shimmering in the air, leading her up over the ocean and into another world.

And then she heard the scream.

Lue whipped around like a rapier. Even through the downpour, she could see a thick column of smoke rising from the roof of the temple, and a flashing tongue of flame. For a moment she froze, indecisive, and then tore toward the building, her wet robes flapping heavily around her.

Just before she reached the door, it slammed open, and Master Lycus staggered out. Behind him, she could hear jeering laughter and screaming, twisted together in a horrible, cacophonous melody.

“Lue,” Master Lycus gasped, and he threw out one of his large, calloused hands to push her aside. “Get away!”

“Where do you think you’re going, old man?” The sound of booted feet, and raucous calling from a dozen male voices. Master Lycus looked at her desperately, and the fear in his normally impassable face spurred her to action. Quick as a flash, she slipped around the edge of the temple, blood hammering in her ears.

She knew she should run for the dormitory, at least, or find a place to hide, but there seemed to be an invisible chain linking her to Master Lycus. She could not see him, but she could hear him, his strong voice rising above the pounding of the rain.

“Stop! We are people of peace, dedicated only to service of our god. Do not harm us!”

More laughter. The sound went through Lue like a spear, setting her heart afire.

“We don’t like your god, old man. He’s a pretender, like you, and needs to be stamped out. We worship another god – the only god. We are here in his service.” The voice was harsh with anger and pride.

Master Lycus murmured something that Lue did not catch, and the harsh-voiced man snorted derisively. Lue felt a sob rise in her throat, and she bit her lips to keep it in. “Stop your begging. We are here in the name of righteousness, and the pleadings of devils do not move us. Now get on your knees. Joshua!” Lue assumed he was calling to one of his comrades. She listened closely, tears burning her eyes, but Master Lycus said nothing else. Instead there was the sound of metal, the cold, sibilant hiss of it, and a whistling like the wind. A ragged cry, and then only the sound of rain. The door to the temple slammed.

For a moment, Lue remained where she was, shuddering with fear. Then she tore herself from the wall and ran back around to the front of the temple. What she saw there drove her to her knees.

Master Lycus’s body lay on the cold ground in front of the temple. Blood pumped from the open maw of his neck, flooding into the sparse winter grass. His head was gone. Retching and shaking violently, Lue vomited onto the ground in front of her. The world shimmered, blackened, and refocused. All thought had abandoned her. She could imagine nothing further than Master Lycus’s broken body and the smell of bile in her nose.

And then, from within the temple, the screams began again. It was almost as though they were being torn from her own throat, ripped from the darkest place inside her. Others were dying – being slain, mutilated, and maybe even worse – and here she was, cowering helplessly in the rain. A sudden burst of energy arced through her body like a bolt of lightning, and she leapt to her feet with a howl. She moved faster than she thought possible, with strength she did not recognize as her own. When she threw open the door, it seemed to her that she ripped it from its hinges and threw it in splinters behind her. All the hair on her body stood on end, and she felt her lips draw back into a savage roar.

Eyes glinted at her from inside the darkened temple, and she smelled smoke and blood and fear. There was no laughing now. In seconds she picked them out – men in crude leather armor, with a white sigil of two crossed lines across their chests. They gaped at her. Beyond them she could see the shapes of bodies on the floor.

For an infinite moment, they did not move. And then, suddenly, the white flash of a reaching hand and a glint of steel. Rage burst from her throat in a guttural growl, and she tore down the center aisle, her vision flooded with golden light and the taste of blood in her mouth.



Afterward, she could remember nothing but a handful of images - the open mouth of one of the men, his scream vibrating on the air; the snapping of a bone under her hands; the warm wash of blood over her tongue. When at last she came back to herself, she was kneeling on the floor of the temple, ringed in leather-clad corpses. She did not see them. Before her was the statue of the wolf god, his golden eyes picking her out of the darkness like burning coals. He drew her gaze like a magnet, and the air between them shimmered with power. She saw the smile between his teeth, the love and pride in his glinting eyes.

She burned the bodies of the devotees, piling incense on the fire. Master Lycus's head she removed from the pike on which it had been impaled, and she stroked the lead-colored hair before she consigned it to the flames. The men in armor she flung over the edge of the cliff, watching their bodies shatter on the rocks below. Her strength no longer surprised her - she could feel the wolf god in every stretch of her muscles, in every beat of her heart. His power was hers now, vicious and terrible and beautiful.

The statue she placed in a nook on the cliff face. She imagined him watching the sea, his brilliant gaze piercing through the darkest of sea storms.

When she left the temple, she did not look back. She carried only the merest provisions, but she did not worry about that. The wolf god would provide. Already she could scent blood and bone on the air, and the heartbeats of hundreds of creatures thrummed in her ears. Her loping steps seemed to carry her miles in an instant, the world an array of color and taste and sound around her. And under it all, the golden touch of the wolf god flowed like ichor in her veins. Where he led, she would follow. She would feast on the flesh of his enemies. She would see them broken under her hands.

As daylight slashed the purple sky with gold and palest blue, Lue stopped and sniffed the air. Her black hair lay matted against her back. Her eyes glimmered. Her lips, darkest red, drew back into a hungry smile.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([animal] wolf cub)
Even after the world caught fire and the rivers and lakes burned away, the temple at the edge of the sea stood sentinel over black waves. It was built of stone that had been scoured white by salty wind, and was unornamented apart from the stone wolf’s head that rose on a spire forty feet in the air. The spire had been there long before the wolf’s head, bare and sharp as a fang, though records of that time had been purged from the temple’s library. The bold black letters bearing the former name of the place had been covered over with white paint. Even if the words had been visible, they would have had no meaning now. The world had grown and withered and changed, and the old ways had been forgotten.

Lue liked to watch the sea, sitting on the lip of a rocky overhang with her robes and black hair snapping in the chill wind. It was only when she looked out on the water that she felt alive – a miniscule heart beating red and rich and vibrant in a colorless world. Whenever she could, she slipped out of the dormitory and stared out at the waves, dreaming of boats and kites and sea monsters that would bear her away from this cold, rocky hill. Lately she even crept out of the temple during prayers, the headache that pounded down on her in the smoky, fragrant building dissolving at the first rush of sea air.

They were praying now; she could hear the murmuring of voices coming through the wind in low, musical bursts. She didn’t fear being caught, really – most of the other devotees were so enraptured during prayer that they wouldn’t notice if she cartwheeled out of the building. It wasn’t likely that anyone had noticed her edging out of the door while all heads were bowed, silent as a wraith in her bare feet.

She had never felt the same euphoria that seemed to grip the others during prayer. The temple left her cold, even with all of its lush trappings – the heavy black velvet curtains, the carefully painted scenes of running wolves… even the minutely crafted silver statue of the wolf god himself, with its sparkling golden eyes, did not move her to gasps of wonder like it did the others. Sometimes Lue wondered if anything apart from the sea could move her heart. A curious way, she thought, for the living receptacle of a god to feel.

For Lue, it was said, was god-touched. She had been chosen by the wolf god before she had even been born, and marked with his sign – golden eyes, like his. Old Bett, the grey woman that ran the tiny women's dormitory, told her that her mother had brought her to the temple the day the sign was clear, tears dripping from her chin.

“She were only a simple woman,” Bett said, “and rightly god-fearing. She knew the temple was the only place you’d be properly cared for, so she gave you your name – all she had to give, the poor thing – and handed you over to Master Lycus himself.”

Master Lycus was the religious leader at the temple, a tall, broad-shouldered man with an imperious manner and eyes and hair the color of lead. He was as close to a father figure as Lue could remember having – a distant father, perhaps, but a father all the same. He was Lue’s primary teacher, as he did not trust the others to instruct her properly in the ways of the order. As she grew older, Lue understood that this controlling aspect of his character was born out of true devotion to the wolf god rather than an overbearing personality, but she still chafed at it. She chafed at everything about temple life. As far as she was concerned, she hadn’t asked for golden eyes, and just because she happened to have them didn’t mean that her entire life should be signed away to a god she didn’t even believe in.

It had taken a long time for her to decide that she didn’t believe in the wolf god, but once she came to that conclusion there was no undoing it. The thought was like a knot in her belly. Everything in her life led in and out of it. She just didn’t understand how anyone could be happy in this life – cloistered in a miserable huddle of rocks, praying for hours to a god who never seemed to listen and certainly never replied.

A sudden lash of rain struck her face. Lue knew she should go inside; the rain would make it obvious that she had left during prayers, and the devotees would be upset with her for putting her health at risk. She was their treasure, and they treated her like a piece of sea glass rather than a girl of fifteen summers. When she stood, though, she walked along the cliff-edge rather than back toward the temple. She couldn’t bear the thought of going back there, into the musky, incense-wreathed room and the garbled roar of prayer.

The rain was falling in sheets now, coursing through her hair and into her clothes, soaking her to the bone. It clouded her vision, and she imagined a bridge of water shimmering in the air, leading her up over the ocean and into another world.

And then she heard the scream.

Lue whipped around like a rapier. Even through the downpour, she could see a thick column of smoke rising from the roof of the temple, and a flashing tongue of flame. For a moment she froze, indecisive, and then tore toward the building, her wet robes flapping heavily around her.

Just before she reached the door, it slammed open, and Master Lycus staggered out. Behind him, she could hear jeering laughter and screaming, twisted together in a horrible, cacophonous melody.

“Lue,” Master Lycus gasped, and he threw out one of his large, calloused hands to push her aside. “Get away!”

“Where do you think you’re going, old man?” The sound of booted feet, and raucous calling from a dozen male voices. Master Lycus looked at her desperately, and the fear in his normally impassable face spurred her to action. Quick as a flash, she slipped around the edge of the temple, blood hammering in her ears.

She knew she should run for the dormitory, at least, or find a place to hide, but there seemed to be an invisible chain linking her to Master Lycus. She could not see him, but she could hear him, his strong voice rising above the pounding of the rain.

“Stop! We are people of peace, dedicated only to service of our god. Do not harm us!”

More laughter. The sound went through Lue like a spear, setting her heart afire.

“We don’t like your god, old man. He’s a pretender, like you, and needs to be stamped out. We worship another god – the only god. We are here in his service.” The voice was harsh with anger and pride.

Master Lycus murmured something that Lue did not catch, and the harsh-voiced man snorted derisively. Lue felt a sob rise in her throat, and she bit her lips to keep it in. “Stop your begging. We are here in the name of righteousness, and the pleadings of devils do not move us. Now get on your knees. Joshua!” Lue assumed he was calling to one of his comrades. She listened closely, tears burning her eyes, but Master Lycus said nothing else. Instead there was the sound of metal, the cold, sibilant hiss of it, and a whistling like the wind. A ragged cry, and then only the sound of rain. The door to the temple slammed.

For a moment, Lue remained where she was, shuddering with fear. Then she tore herself from the wall and ran back around to the front of the temple. What she saw there drove her to her knees.

Master Lycus’s body lay on the cold ground in front of the temple. Blood pumped from the open maw of his neck, flooding into the sparse winter grass. His head was gone. Retching and shaking violently, Lue vomited onto the ground in front of her. The world shimmered, blackened, and refocused. All thought had abandoned her. She could imagine nothing further than Master Lycus’s broken body and the smell of bile in her nose.

And then, from within the temple, the screams began again. It was almost as though they were being torn from her own throat, ripped from the darkest place inside her. Others were dying – being slain, mutilated, and maybe even worse – and here she was, cowering helplessly in the rain. A sudden burst of energy arced through her body like a bolt of lightning, and she leapt to her feet with a howl. She moved faster than she thought possible, with strength she did not recognize as her own. When she threw open the door, it seemed to her that she ripped it from its hinges and threw it in splinters behind her. All the hair on her body stood on end, and she felt her lips draw back into a savage roar.

Eyes glinted at her from inside the darkened temple, and she smelled smoke and blood and fear. There was no laughing now. In seconds she picked them out – men in crude leather armor, with a white sigil of two crossed lines across their chests. They gaped at her. Beyond them she could see the shapes of bodies on the floor.

For an infinite moment, they did not move. And then, suddenly, the white flash of a reaching hand and a glint of steel. Rage burst from her throat in a guttural growl, and she tore down the center aisle, her vision flooded with golden light and the taste of blood in her mouth.



Afterward, she could remember nothing but a handful of images - the open mouth of one of the men, his scream vibrating on the air; the snapping of a bone under her hands; the warm wash of blood over her tongue. When at last she came back to herself, she was kneeling on the floor of the temple, ringed in leather-clad corpses. She did not see them. Before her was the statue of the wolf god, his golden eyes picking her out of the darkness like burning coals. He drew her gaze like a magnet, and the air between them shimmered with power. She saw the smile between his teeth, the love and pride in his glinting eyes.

She burned the bodies of the devotees, piling incense on the fire. Master Lycus's head she removed from the pike on which it had been impaled, and she stroked the lead-colored hair before she consigned it to the flames. The men in armor she flung over the edge of the cliff, watching their bodies shatter on the rocks below. Her strength no longer surprised her - she could feel the wolf god in every stretch of her muscles, in every beat of her heart. His power was hers now, vicious and terrible and beautiful.

The statue she placed in a nook on the cliff face. She imagined him watching the sea, his brilliant gaze piercing through the darkest of sea storms.

When she left the temple, she did not look back. She carried only the merest provisions, but she did not worry about that. The wolf god would provide. Already she could scent blood and bone on the air, and the heartbeats of hundreds of creatures thrummed in her ears. Her loping steps seemed to carry her miles in an instant, the world an array of color and taste and sound around her. And under it all, the golden touch of the wolf god flowed like ichor in her veins. Where he led, she would follow. She would feast on the flesh of his enemies. She would see them broken under her hands.

As daylight slashed the purple sky with gold and palest blue, Lue stopped and sniffed the air. Her black hair lay matted against her back. Her eyes glimmered. Her lips, darkest red, drew back into a hungry smile.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] it will be ok)
My boss was the kind of guy who liked to see people sweat. It was somehow deeply fulfilling for him, and he never seemed to get tired of it. He was knocking people down pegs all day long, but he always had time for one more. Everyone in the building was terrified of him, and nobody was more terrified than me.

I was the intern, the low man on the totem pole, and as far as my boss was concerned, a newly-birthed lamb to be fattened for slaughter. He didn't cut me down with the same snakelike swiftness he used on various coworkers, but I knew it was because he had something much worse in mind for me. I was like a psychology science project, and he put so many twists in my brain during the first few weeks of my internship that I was surprised I could even find my way out of the building at the end of the day (and who knows, maybe that was part of his plan - maybe he regularly sent interns into the labyrinthine passages of the accounts department in hopes that they would be devoured by some kind of modern-age minotaur in a tribute of blood so he could keep his ergonomic throne).

Despite several near-breakdowns and many nights spent desperately gripping beer bottles in some warped semblance of relaxation, I was determined not to be just another poor, shattered shell of an intern. No, he wouldn't break me - I would be the one who withstood the many slings and arrows of internship, the cheese that stood alone, and in the end he would respect me. It became something of an elaborate psychological game, with him gradually upping the stakes while I gritted my teeth harder and harder through each successive work day.

I started each work day at the coffee shop across the street from my building, and made several successive visits throughout the morning as part of my boss's daily warm-up bout. It became kind of a routine for me to buy an armload of coffees for my boss and his upper tier cronies (each of whom had a laundry list of specifications for their brew), only to be sent back at least three times due to mistakes (even though I dutifully wrote down every order). At first this was just yet another tooth-grinding test of my sanity but then... I met Marnie.

When I say I met Marnie, I mean that she was hired to work at the coffee shop and I tried my best not to stare avidly at her whenever I was on the property. She was short and curvy, with a large amount of dark curly hair and big brown eyes behind purple rectangular glasses. She seemed to regard everyone who passed before her counter as a kind of character study, and every time her curious eyes passed across me I tried not to swallow my tongue.

I was about as in love with her as any guy can be with a woman to whom he has spoken only of coffee. Of course, I wanted to speak to her about other things, but I could never quite work up the nerve. She didn't look like the type of woman who would be interested in barely post-collegiate guys who regularly visited her place of work in between intervals of licking their boss's sociopathic boots. She looked like she probably dated guitarists. Or writers. Or cage fighters.

In the end, she talked to me first. "You sure are in here a lot," she said. My knees went watery. She might as well have said, "You sure are the handsomest hunk of man I've ever seen ordering a double whip white chocolate mocha in my life."

"Yeah," I said, in a stunning show of wit.

"Are you like, the coffee boy or something?"

I closed my eyes and tried not to let the vertigo take me out. The coffee boy! The coffee boy was below even sycophantic boot licker in the office hierarchy.

"Sorry," she said, and I opened my eyes to catch her mid-wince. "I guess that was rude."

"No, no," I reassured her, even though it kind of had been rude. She hadn't meant it, I knew - under her barista apron she was wearing a t-shirt for the local SPCA. Obviously she was a generous and kind-hearted person. "I guess it probably seems that way."

"Kind of. You're in here at least three times every morning ordering coffees. Either you're buying coffees for an entire floor of that building over there, or you've got a serious crush on me." She smiled - she was kidding. I laughed weakly.

"Yeah, ha ha, well, my boss... it's just kind of a thing he does. Like a game. The coffee thing is part of it."

"What kind of game?"

This was not going to end well for me. "He, ah, likes to play with people. People's minds."

"You mean he likes to play with your mind. I don't see anyone else in here ordering fifteen coffees every day."

"Well, everyone gets it some way or another, but I'm just the intern."

"If you ask me," she said, "you sound like the doormat, not the intern." This was not the kind of conversation that led to my getting her number, I knew, or asking her out, or getting to see her in anything besides her barista apron, but it was more than, "three eighty-five, please," so I thought I would take it. "Also, your boss sounds like a dick."

Before I knew it, I was spilling my guts about all of the things my boss had done to me. Somehow, Marnie actually seemed interested in it all, and by the time I was done with my tale of woe, she was shaking her head sadly on my behalf. Again, I knew that sympathy was not usually the foundation for a long and loving relationship, but it was the best I could do and I was happy for it.

"You can't keep this up, you know," she said finally. "You're going to crack. Nobody could deal with that every day."

"There are people who have been there for years."

"Yeah, but they're getting paid, aren't they?"

As I rode the elevator back up to my boss's office five minutes later, juggling six cardboard cups filled with weapons-grade heated coffee, I realized that Marnie was probably right. Not because she was beautiful and I loved her (though I admitted that such things might factor in somehow), but because I was already starting to sense the hairline fractures in my psyche that would soon lead to total meltdown.

And that meltdown, it seemed, was closer than I thought. After I had dropped off all the coffees to my smirking coworkers, my boss called me into his office. He was turning a softball over and over in his hands, a relic from a former inter-office softball championship (I'm pretty sure nobody would have ever attempted to actually beat his team, even if he had staffed it entirely with geriatrics and puppies). He looked at me with his snakey little eyes and didn't ask me to sit. The faceted paperweight on the corner of his desk cast swirling shadows of light across his face.

"Mr..." he paused.

"Fisher," I supplied.

"Mr. Fisher. You've been with us now for some months, isn't that right?"

"Yes, sir."

"And on your application for this internship, you expressed an interest in working for this company in the future, isn't that right?"

"Yes, sir."

"Based on that, well, enthusiasm, we took you on board in...," he shuffled some papers on his desk, "June of this year. Unfortunately," and he fixed me with a laser-sharp glare, "you have not performed in a manner that suggests that you actually are interested in employment with this company once your internship ends."

"Excuse me, sir?" The floor seemed to be shifting under my feet. This was new. I hadn't expected this.

"Fisher, I hate to say that you're incompetent, because I'm sure you're a very intelligent boy, but I just haven't seen that in this office. In fact, it seems like you've been going out of your way to avoid being in the office at all."

I had no idea what he was talking about. I hadn't called out sick - not once! I had never shown up late, or left early. "What do you mean, sir?"

"Well, Fisher, it's these little runs to the coffee shop."

My stomach sank like a stone. I could see where he was going with this now. He continued, a tiny smile playing at the corners of his thin mouth. "You spend half the morning in there. Now I'm not sure if it's because you simply can't figure out how to order the correct coffees or because you want to waste time, but frankly, neither of these are acceptable in this office. If this continues, I will have to cut short your internship with us, and I'm sure you wouldn't want that, now would you?"

It was a trap, and a masterful one. If I wanted to stay with the company, I would have to stop making so many trips to the shop, and if I was ejected from my internship, I'd look like an idiot. Unfortunately, I knew all too well that he and his minions would never stop with the complicated coffee orders and continual insistence that I'd made a mistake.

I was screwed. I could either suck it up and try desperately to find my footing on a sinking ship, or I could do something insane.

---

"I think I threw a paperweight at his head," I admitted. She raised her eyebrows at me, and I wasn't sure if she was impressed or quietly mortified. "There was some glass, anyway. I think I missed - he was still conscious when they dragged me out, and it was a big paperweight. I'm pretty sure that if it had made contact, he would have been at least mildly concussed."

Marnie stared at me. I was standing in front of her counter again, my jacket rumpled and my tie askew. I'm sure I must have looked completely out of my mind.

"So," she said after a moment. "Do you maybe want to go get lunch somewhere?"






*This is a work of fiction. I am not a man, not in love with a barista, and have never thrown a paperweight at my boss's head (even when he deserved it).
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] it will be ok)
My boss was the kind of guy who liked to see people sweat. It was somehow deeply fulfilling for him, and he never seemed to get tired of it. He was knocking people down pegs all day long, but he always had time for one more. Everyone in the building was terrified of him, and nobody was more terrified than me.

I was the intern, the low man on the totem pole, and as far as my boss was concerned, a newly-birthed lamb to be fattened for slaughter. He didn't cut me down with the same snakelike swiftness he used on various coworkers, but I knew it was because he had something much worse in mind for me. I was like a psychology science project, and he put so many twists in my brain during the first few weeks of my internship that I was surprised I could even find my way out of the building at the end of the day (and who knows, maybe that was part of his plan - maybe he regularly sent interns into the labyrinthine passages of the accounts department in hopes that they would be devoured by some kind of modern-age minotaur in a tribute of blood so he could keep his ergonomic throne).

Despite several near-breakdowns and many nights spent desperately gripping beer bottles in some warped semblance of relaxation, I was determined not to be just another poor, shattered shell of an intern. No, he wouldn't break me - I would be the one who withstood the many slings and arrows of internship, the cheese that stood alone, and in the end he would respect me. It became something of an elaborate psychological game, with him gradually upping the stakes while I gritted my teeth harder and harder through each successive work day.

I started each work day at the coffee shop across the street from my building, and made several successive visits throughout the morning as part of my boss's daily warm-up bout. It became kind of a routine for me to buy an armload of coffees for my boss and his upper tier cronies (each of whom had a laundry list of specifications for their brew), only to be sent back at least three times due to mistakes (even though I dutifully wrote down every order). At first this was just yet another tooth-grinding test of my sanity but then... I met Marnie.

When I say I met Marnie, I mean that she was hired to work at the coffee shop and I tried my best not to stare avidly at her whenever I was on the property. She was short and curvy, with a large amount of dark curly hair and big brown eyes behind purple rectangular glasses. She seemed to regard everyone who passed before her counter as a kind of character study, and every time her curious eyes passed across me I tried not to swallow my tongue.

I was about as in love with her as any guy can be with a woman to whom he has spoken only of coffee. Of course, I wanted to speak to her about other things, but I could never quite work up the nerve. She didn't look like the type of woman who would be interested in barely post-collegiate guys who regularly visited her place of work in between intervals of licking their boss's sociopathic boots. She looked like she probably dated guitarists. Or writers. Or cage fighters.

In the end, she talked to me first. "You sure are in here a lot," she said. My knees went watery. She might as well have said, "You sure are the handsomest hunk of man I've ever seen ordering a double whip white chocolate mocha in my life."

"Yeah," I said, in a stunning show of wit.

"Are you like, the coffee boy or something?"

I closed my eyes and tried not to let the vertigo take me out. The coffee boy! The coffee boy was below even sycophantic boot licker in the office hierarchy.

"Sorry," she said, and I opened my eyes to catch her mid-wince. "I guess that was rude."

"No, no," I reassured her, even though it kind of had been rude. She hadn't meant it, I knew - under her barista apron she was wearing a t-shirt for the local SPCA. Obviously she was a generous and kind-hearted person. "I guess it probably seems that way."

"Kind of. You're in here at least three times every morning ordering coffees. Either you're buying coffees for an entire floor of that building over there, or you've got a serious crush on me." She smiled - she was kidding. I laughed weakly.

"Yeah, ha ha, well, my boss... it's just kind of a thing he does. Like a game. The coffee thing is part of it."

"What kind of game?"

This was not going to end well for me. "He, ah, likes to play with people. People's minds."

"You mean he likes to play with your mind. I don't see anyone else in here ordering fifteen coffees every day."

"Well, everyone gets it some way or another, but I'm just the intern."

"If you ask me," she said, "you sound like the doormat, not the intern." This was not the kind of conversation that led to my getting her number, I knew, or asking her out, or getting to see her in anything besides her barista apron, but it was more than, "three eighty-five, please," so I thought I would take it. "Also, your boss sounds like a dick."

Before I knew it, I was spilling my guts about all of the things my boss had done to me. Somehow, Marnie actually seemed interested in it all, and by the time I was done with my tale of woe, she was shaking her head sadly on my behalf. Again, I knew that sympathy was not usually the foundation for a long and loving relationship, but it was the best I could do and I was happy for it.

"You can't keep this up, you know," she said finally. "You're going to crack. Nobody could deal with that every day."

"There are people who have been there for years."

"Yeah, but they're getting paid, aren't they?"

As I rode the elevator back up to my boss's office five minutes later, juggling six cardboard cups filled with weapons-grade heated coffee, I realized that Marnie was probably right. Not because she was beautiful and I loved her (though I admitted that such things might factor in somehow), but because I was already starting to sense the hairline fractures in my psyche that would soon lead to total meltdown.

And that meltdown, it seemed, was closer than I thought. After I had dropped off all the coffees to my smirking coworkers, my boss called me into his office. He was turning a softball over and over in his hands, a relic from a former inter-office softball championship (I'm pretty sure nobody would have ever attempted to actually beat his team, even if he had staffed it entirely with geriatrics and puppies). He looked at me with his snakey little eyes and didn't ask me to sit. The faceted paperweight on the corner of his desk cast swirling shadows of light across his face.

"Mr..." he paused.

"Fisher," I supplied.

"Mr. Fisher. You've been with us now for some months, isn't that right?"

"Yes, sir."

"And on your application for this internship, you expressed an interest in working for this company in the future, isn't that right?"

"Yes, sir."

"Based on that, well, enthusiasm, we took you on board in...," he shuffled some papers on his desk, "June of this year. Unfortunately," and he fixed me with a laser-sharp glare, "you have not performed in a manner that suggests that you actually are interested in employment with this company once your internship ends."

"Excuse me, sir?" The floor seemed to be shifting under my feet. This was new. I hadn't expected this.

"Fisher, I hate to say that you're incompetent, because I'm sure you're a very intelligent boy, but I just haven't seen that in this office. In fact, it seems like you've been going out of your way to avoid being in the office at all."

I had no idea what he was talking about. I hadn't called out sick - not once! I had never shown up late, or left early. "What do you mean, sir?"

"Well, Fisher, it's these little runs to the coffee shop."

My stomach sank like a stone. I could see where he was going with this now. He continued, a tiny smile playing at the corners of his thin mouth. "You spend half the morning in there. Now I'm not sure if it's because you simply can't figure out how to order the correct coffees or because you want to waste time, but frankly, neither of these are acceptable in this office. If this continues, I will have to cut short your internship with us, and I'm sure you wouldn't want that, now would you?"

It was a trap, and a masterful one. If I wanted to stay with the company, I would have to stop making so many trips to the shop, and if I was ejected from my internship, I'd look like an idiot. Unfortunately, I knew all too well that he and his minions would never stop with the complicated coffee orders and continual insistence that I'd made a mistake.

I was screwed. I could either suck it up and try desperately to find my footing on a sinking ship, or I could do something insane.

---

"I think I threw a paperweight at his head," I admitted. She raised her eyebrows at me, and I wasn't sure if she was impressed or quietly mortified. "There was some glass, anyway. I think I missed - he was still conscious when they dragged me out, and it was a big paperweight. I'm pretty sure that if it had made contact, he would have been at least mildly concussed."

Marnie stared at me. I was standing in front of her counter again, my jacket rumpled and my tie askew. I'm sure I must have looked completely out of my mind.

"So," she said after a moment. "Do you maybe want to go get lunch somewhere?"






*This is a work of fiction. I am not a man, not in love with a barista, and have never thrown a paperweight at my boss's head (even when he deserved it).
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([sex] red lips)
She is a tall, thin woman with aggressive collar bones, perfectly appointed jewelry, and nary a stray thread or wandering bit of lint marring the flawless column of her cream-colored designer suit. Her tan is the seamless teak that can only be achieved by regular nude sunbathing on private beaches in exotic locales, and monthly injections of Botox keep her skin youthfully taut. Highlights and lowlights in varying golden hues glint in the starbursts of light issuing from cameras below, and her teeth dazzle as the sensuous red mouth moves in unheard conversation with a dark-suited cohort. Caught in a storm of light and sound, she mounts the platform with helpless grace, beautiful even in her distress.

And across the nation we fix our eyes to her pixelized face and think, "Oh no, oh no, oh no," and, "Look how beautiful she is, even in the middle of it all!" And when the tears swim majestically in her thick-lashed eyes, our hearts wrench pitifully for this glorious woman and the injustices wrought upon her. Like marionettes we swing and tap and dance to her tune, our mouths stretched wide with protest. "That bastard!" we cry. "How dare he!" And he is a bastard, this is true. A bastard spawning bastards, if the whispers and websites can be believed. The greasiest sort of politician after all - he had us fooled! And here she is, so lovely, so wronged.

But shh, what will she say? Shut up, shut up, I want to hear! You do not need to open a bag of Doritos rightthisverysecond, just shut up and listen!

Tremulous, she gazes into the crowd; a media martyr, the latest in a long line of gorgeous broken marriages. Her husband didn't seem the sort, but who can ever tell? Pajama bottoms only barely grazing the couch cushions, we hang on the silence, waiting for confirmation. Hoping, secretly, for condemnation. Like carrion crows we feast on the corpse of their romantic fantasy, our eyes gleaming expectantly for more.

But what's this? The usual we-hope-you-will-respect-our-privacy-in-this-trying-time bullshit? What?! Furious, we storm and rage. Amid our fruitless curses she descends the stairs, her jaw strung tight and her back set straight. We barely notice. Drained and disappointed, we open the Doritos and flick the channel. In moments she is forgotten.

And somewhere, beyond the screens and flashes and lookers-on, she slides into a waiting car and smiles at the driver. The dark-suited man climbs in behind her.

"The airport, I think," she purrs, her fingers on the knee of the dark suit. "I haven't been to Greece in so long. But take the long way. There's more than one place I haven't visited in years." And as the car glides away, her fingers glide along an inner thigh and things begin to look up.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([sex] red lips)
She is a tall, thin woman with aggressive collar bones, perfectly appointed jewelry, and nary a stray thread or wandering bit of lint marring the flawless column of her cream-colored designer suit. Her tan is the seamless teak that can only be achieved by regular nude sunbathing on private beaches in exotic locales, and monthly injections of Botox keep her skin youthfully taut. Highlights and lowlights in varying golden hues glint in the starbursts of light issuing from cameras below, and her teeth dazzle as the sensuous red mouth moves in unheard conversation with a dark-suited cohort. Caught in a storm of light and sound, she mounts the platform with helpless grace, beautiful even in her distress.

And across the nation we fix our eyes to her pixelized face and think, "Oh no, oh no, oh no," and, "Look how beautiful she is, even in the middle of it all!" And when the tears swim majestically in her thick-lashed eyes, our hearts wrench pitifully for this glorious woman and the injustices wrought upon her. Like marionettes we swing and tap and dance to her tune, our mouths stretched wide with protest. "That bastard!" we cry. "How dare he!" And he is a bastard, this is true. A bastard spawning bastards, if the whispers and websites can be believed. The greasiest sort of politician after all - he had us fooled! And here she is, so lovely, so wronged.

But shh, what will she say? Shut up, shut up, I want to hear! You do not need to open a bag of Doritos rightthisverysecond, just shut up and listen!

Tremulous, she gazes into the crowd; a media martyr, the latest in a long line of gorgeous broken marriages. Her husband didn't seem the sort, but who can ever tell? Pajama bottoms only barely grazing the couch cushions, we hang on the silence, waiting for confirmation. Hoping, secretly, for condemnation. Like carrion crows we feast on the corpse of their romantic fantasy, our eyes gleaming expectantly for more.

But what's this? The usual we-hope-you-will-respect-our-privacy-in-this-trying-time bullshit? What?! Furious, we storm and rage. Amid our fruitless curses she descends the stairs, her jaw strung tight and her back set straight. We barely notice. Drained and disappointed, we open the Doritos and flick the channel. In moments she is forgotten.

And somewhere, beyond the screens and flashes and lookers-on, she slides into a waiting car and smiles at the driver. The dark-suited man climbs in behind her.

"The airport, I think," she purrs, her fingers on the knee of the dark suit. "I haven't been to Greece in so long. But take the long way. There's more than one place I haven't visited in years." And as the car glides away, her fingers glide along an inner thigh and things begin to look up.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([teaching] i eat children)
Last year I didn't really know how I felt about [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol - I ended up quitting a few weeks in, partly because of time restraints and partly because it didn't really fit my expectations. Despite all that, I think I'm going to try it again this year. I know better now what to expect, and I hope I can accept it all at face value and enjoy writing for some new prompts! I may not make it all the way, but I hate to let things go without even giving them a shot.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([teaching] i eat children)
Last year I didn't really know how I felt about [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol - I ended up quitting a few weeks in, partly because of time restraints and partly because it didn't really fit my expectations. Despite all that, I think I'm going to try it again this year. I know better now what to expect, and I hope I can accept it all at face value and enjoy writing for some new prompts! I may not make it all the way, but I hate to let things go without even giving them a shot.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([writing] little cat feet)
In hopes that emulating awesome (mostly in the form of my friends list) will engender awesome, I have decided to participate in LJ Idol this year. I'm writing so much more lately, and anything that will keep me along that track is worth doing. Everyone should sign up!

Here's the spot!
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([writing] little cat feet)
In hopes that emulating awesome (mostly in the form of my friends list) will engender awesome, I have decided to participate in LJ Idol this year. I'm writing so much more lately, and anything that will keep me along that track is worth doing. Everyone should sign up!

Here's the spot!
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] cozy spaces)
Well, four people commented positively, and that's more than enough for me! :)

[livejournal.com profile] wipsupport [livejournal.com profile] wipsupport [livejournal.com profile] wipsupport


For all your Works in Progress needs!! If you're working on a writing project, want to start one, or just want to see what others are up to and lend your feedback, please join!! :) This'll be a nice, cozy space to share your writing or your writing woes with some supportive friends. I'd like to develop some strategy sessions or maybe some writing (maybe even team-writing!) activities as well!

JOIN JOIN JOIN JOIN JOIN. Or something. ILU.
applespice: it is a sparkly fairy ([pretty] cozy spaces)
Well, four people commented positively, and that's more than enough for me! :)

[livejournal.com profile] wipsupport [livejournal.com profile] wipsupport [livejournal.com profile] wipsupport


For all your Works in Progress needs!! If you're working on a writing project, want to start one, or just want to see what others are up to and lend your feedback, please join!! :) This'll be a nice, cozy space to share your writing or your writing woes with some supportive friends. I'd like to develop some strategy sessions or maybe some writing (maybe even team-writing!) activities as well!

JOIN JOIN JOIN JOIN JOIN. Or something. ILU.

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