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The Orphanage of St. MatthiasAn orphan was six years old when he decided that he was going to conquer the empire. He was a willful boy, clever and quick, who feared nothing. His eyes and hair were dark but his skin was pale: he appeared identical to every other child in the whole of the glorious Lancastrian Empire, land of the richest palaces and the filthiest poorhouses.
But this orphan boy was not every other child in Lancaster. He was determined to make himself the ruler of them all, and nothing and no one was going to stay in his way for long.
The nuns in the orphanage called him Jake. He hated the name; he asked to be called Alexander, after the Macedonian conqueror. The nuns politely refused and went on their way.
The orphan known unwillingly as Jake had few friends in the orphanage. They were all rowdy, boisterous children, just as unable to be tamed by the elderly nuns as the nuns were unwilling to tame them. They played on and on without minding their studies, without listening, without watching. The year
Building Block-adesThe trouble with having no inspiration, Kasey thought, is that you want to get something done, and try though you might, nothing happens.
His desk was a shambles of books, pens, cards, headphones, rulers, and stacks of paper. The few spots of wood that could be seen between the rubbish were all covered with a thin layer of grime. His printer was out of ink, and the flashing indicator light was giving him a headache, as was his computer's psychedelic screen saver.
It was too early in the day for this, Kasey decided, staring dejectedly at the mess he faced. It was too early to be faced with no ideas and no way out. He had homework to do, sure, but that was a constant. He wanted to do something special, something artsy, but the one day he got up the guts to get out his supplies, the inspiration abandoned him, leaving him looking like a messy idiot.
A few hours later saw him cleaning up his mess with a skulky look on his face.
The Brightest LightsShe hadn't slept in two days.
The chart was simple: chronic insomniac, on medication, referred to the ED four times in the past two months by her primary care physician; not a smoker, no drugs, didn't drink, no anxiety or bipolar disorder, in no physical pain.
Except this time. This time, she hadn't slept in two days, and she had a raging headache. Had to be driven in on the bus because she couldn't see straight, and the hallucinations were getting ready to roll.
The toxicology report was clean; there was nothing in her system. She just couldn't sleep.
She was in the waiting room for forty-five minutes while a room was prepped for the customary exam. She watched the minute hand of the clock inch ever forward, tick after tick after tick after tick, thought she saw it jump once, then again, widdershins. Listened gravely to the man next to her who said his bellybutton had moved.
Now, there was a lunatic. He was a diagnosed
SprinklesThe year was any number, real or imaginary, and though the city had a name, it was always called something else. It was a holiday, though just what holiday, no one knew. Men and women in masks danced ignorantly across streets and bridges to joyous songs that repeated endlessly. There was laughter and food, a great deal of wine, and color, such glorious colors, on every corner.
There was also a boat in the water, a boat among all of the other boats. Small, this boat was neither painted nor gilded, nor ornamented in any way, and that made it very different indeed.
Though the crowd did not care to examine the strange boat, it was under constant observation: a cat, black with a healthy sprinkling of lone white hairs, followed the boat until it came to rest. An orphan boy, a friend of the cat, followed the animal and so was the first to see what it carried.
The orphan boy and the sprinkled cat watched, at a distance, as the occupants st
Forms of GuiltServices were being held in the Mainal Cathedral. That in and of itself wasn't a strange thing, Volke supposed. He had returned from the city to conduct a few pieces of business, and now he was observing his current contractor. Volke needed to know more about him, needed more information. It was standard protocol.
Ike was seated in the pews, a strange, taut look on his face as if he were restraining a great emotion. His hands were clenched into tight balls on his knees, and his weapons were nowhere in sight. As a matter of fact, he seemed to have cleaned himself up a bit: he was wearing his least frayed set of clothes, with the nicest shoes. At least, from a distance, they looked half decent.
Volke heard the footsteps, but their maker was harmless, so he did not move. "Are you here for the prayer service?" the footstep-maker asked. He was an elderly man, a bishop, likely.
Bottoms UpThe Seven Deadly Sins.
Lately, they're a terribly romantic concept. It seems like everyone and their brother, plus their brother's third cousin twice removed, has tried to tell a story based around the Sins. Few people know about the Seven Heavenly Virtues, the Sins' counterparts, and of those people, even fewer can name them all. No, the Seven Deadly Sins are à la mode at the moment, as it were.
I guess it doesn't hurt to follow the crowd.
I'm here to tell you a story. A story about the Seven Deadly Sins, but mostly about Wrath, because Wrath is terrible and directionless, and when those two features are put together, something akin to emotional Armageddon comes to pass and the being unfortunate enough to have felt Wrath's wrath is wiped out, physically, mentally, psychologically, physiologically--you name it, it's spent.
You might have heard of me before. If you haven't, I'm not naming names, including my own. Tha
The Stars AboveEliwood couldn't sleep.
He tossed and turned, tried lying on his stomach and on his back alternatively, flipped his makeshift pillow around and pummeled it, but it was all to no avail. It had been dark for a long time, and he knew that sunrise must be on its way. Their army had no use for clocks: they traveled by day and rested by night, without any idea of the time. Calendars, of course, were of use, but not watches or clocks, and Eliwood didn't know of anyone who had thought to bring one along. In short, he didn't know how long he had been trying to sleep, or how long he would have to wait until the rest of the army rose.
Disgruntled, Eliwood sat up and held his head in his hand. Across the tent, Hector was snoring something atrocious. Even if he had been able to sleep under normal circumstances, no one could possible sleep with that dull roar in their ears. Eliwood privately thought that it was a miracle that Hector slept through it at all.
He dressed in the dark, with neither match
Packing Up the PastThe day after the battle at the Shrine of Seals was bright and clear. Nino could not see a single cloud in the sky in all directions, and a slight breeze kept the air from becoming stale. In short, by appearances, it was a perfect day.
Nino was out walking, alone, as she had taken to doing ever since she had decided to tag along with Eliwood's army. Though she was never truly "alone"-Jaffar always followed, at a distance and out of sight, for her safety-those walks were the only moments that Nino had to reconcile her feelings. She still remembered listening to Prince Zephiel's prayer through the crack in the door with Jaffar on the night she had been sent on her first and only mission, as an assassin; the first of her farewells to the life she had known. She was still grateful to Jaffar for turning on the Black Fang for her. She shuddered at the thought of what would have transpired at the castle had she not been sent along.
Of course, she knew why she had been sent: she was to assassi
OxygenI stared at the photograph long after you were gone. I didn't know what I should have said or done; I just sat there, staring, waiting. When you didn't come back into the room, I realized that you never would. You were gone; farther away already than you'd ever been before.
I thought about chasing you, but realized the folly. After all, I didn't even know where you'd gone, or if you'd ever be back. How was I supposed to know that the answer was never, you were never going to return to me?
I waited for you. I heard about you on the TV and in the papers and on the Internet, but you never looked the same as when you did with me. Your hair could never be tamed like those handlers of yours forced it to be, and you never had that dull look in your eyes, and you never, ever, spoke in that sort of uncaring monotone. Not with me, anyway. I didn't understand how you could do that.
So I did what you told me you'd done. I went to Japan and climbed Mount Fuji without permission. Got on a plane, fle
homeI pray to go home.
on bended knee,
I lift my heart
to a nameless god,
I bless his heart,
or maybe hers,
and ask for deliverance
to a land
I feel a map,
carved into my shoulders.
three mirrors are arranged
directing my attention
to my back, a range of mountains,
but my eyes don't see.
is water through a sieve.
puddles flow beneath me,
no barrier to hold me
a cheshire smile
and reversible signs
lie to me
and no amount of tears,
salty oceans on my cheeks,
will bring me home.
I dream of a room,
soft and fuzzy to the sight,
where I feel at rest;
I know that I am still
runaway irony (FFM 22)Twenty minutes after finishing the documentary on New Zealand, Nicole had a plan worked out. She wrote it all down in gel pen, an itemised list of all the things she needed; then she got to work.
It wasn’t easy to convince the man in Bunnings to sell her nails, but she put on her best innocent face, and told him it was for her father’s garden shed. It wasn’t easy to convince the neighbour to let her have the old fence palings, either; nor the logs that had been earmarked for a bonfire, but a few hearty fibs and her best “I just want to help my daddy” smile went a long way to convincing them.
Two weeks later, she had bruised hands, a lot of knowledge about how not to use a hammer, and what she hoped would pass for a half-decent raft. She packed herself a bag with some clothes and spare underwear, then packed another bag, this one larger and wheeled, with as much canned food as she could carry. Before she left, she remembered to grab the can op
Fall of ManI remember thinking: if this were a story, it would be alright. Even tragedies have meaning when someone else holds the pen. But this is not a story. Unless it is.
There was me cradling you in the wreckage of a building; and in the distance, the sounds of running and screaming and alarms of ambulances, everyone calling for help, and there, another building collapsing.
A snowflake fell on your forehead and for a moment it seemed more important than the blood, more important than bombs falling from the sky, the war that had begun. Blocks away perhaps a television was somehow still on, perhaps it screamed propaganda. All I knew was you had no reason to be punished.
People can’t run with broken legs, and you also had a broken arm, and when I heard another woman scream for her beloved to come back to life, I knew you would die.
I should have remembered what you whispered to me, but the planes above were too loud. If I had heard your last word
Ageing Superhero (FFM 24)Nathan always imagined he’d go out in a gunfight, cape fluttering; a hero’s death in the pursuit of peace. Turns out, he was only right about the “gun” part.
* * *
Mr Cuddles weaves around Nathan’s ankles. He’s purring loudly, and shedding fur all over Nathan’s slightly-too-tight bodysuit, but Nathan’s attention is fixed on the tinny voice coming from his mobile.
“Look, your international days are over. You’re getting older, and I know you’ve gained a few pounds. No, don’t try to lie to me. You wear spandex, Nathan. It’s pretty unforgiving, and you no longer have a six-pack. The world events, the foreign villains, you can leave them to the newbies.”
Paying no attention to the plaintive-sounding agent, Mr Cuddles hunts, unnoticed as he follows Nathan towards the safe on the landing.
Nathan’s carrying his guns one-handed; he’s only half-listening to his age
NebraskaHe called her Nebraska. The first time he did was in a Wal-Mart parking lot with August humidity pressing the air from their lungs. It also happened to be the first time she saw him. “Whoa there, Nebraska!” he’d said as the blue shopping cart got away from her and rolled right into him.
She apologized profusely. At least it was empty, and hadn’t got a chance to gather much speed. Besides, what the heck was he doing standing in the cart return?
“Why the heck are you standing in a cart return?” she asked him. He was tall. Lanky. He had a military haircut, and she should have known then. He was young; she likely had the long side of a decade on him. But when he smiled, everything just felt better.
He vaulted out of the pipe enclosure and held something up between his thumb and index finger. A nickle. He grinned again, and his green eyes crinkled, “I dropped it.”
“Well that explains it.”
“And now,” he said, “I ha
PhotogenicPeople have often said I'm photogenic. From what little I've seen, I haven't liked many photos of just myself. But there are a few sentimental, spontaneous portraits, taken by people who saw the beauty in me when I didn't, which are definite exceptions to the rule.
There's that one that Jordan took of me, sitting under some trees at the Great Sand Dunes of Alamosa. I'd been crying over an unexpected altercation with a friend, though few can tell that by looking at the snapshot. "Can you smile and be pretty and love me?" he'd asked. In his mind, I'd done the latter two things; all I needed was to do the first. So I smiled, because I felt loved.
Then there's the picture that Thomas took of me, lying in the lower ring of what Texas A&M students call the Modern Art Sculpture. "People here do this all the time," he'd told me; I felt like I was blending in with a completely new culture--Thomas's culture--and it was exhilarating. It was my first time visiting campus, and I was in awe of a
[TGB] Leave The Light OnIt seemed only natural that she found him.
Her paws had been weary, her mind restless - home no longer felt like home and he .... he had always had a calming presence upon her soul. His smirking blue-green eyes soothed a fire in her soul and made everything shift when she hadn't been aware it was askew in the first place.
He held her steady, whether he knew it or not and right now Arya felt like a leaf in a thunderstorm.
"Fancy seeing you again - if I didn't know any better I'd say you missed my dashing looks."
Perhaps it was in the way Arya fumbled for an appropriate response, or perhaps it was how her grass eyes misted over with unshed tears - full to the brim with emotion Arya usually kept hidden from her companion.
"Arya?" His brow furrowed slightly and he took a hesitant step forward. His firefly was strong ... for her to be so shaken ...
She wasn't sure when the tears had started, hadn't noticed their slow descent down her cheeks until Idek's nose was touchin
A Grave Digger's KissesI fell in love with a gravedigger. His hands were rough and calloused; no matter how many times he cleaned them, grains of soil remained rattling in his palm. It should have been a warning – dirt nestled in his love-line, but something about the way he held me, how he always seemed surprised that I was warm, that I was alive, was endearing. He once said that in winter, when his fingers were like ice, he couldn’t feel the difference between the coffin and the bed, that he wouldn’t know whether to kiss me or assume the worst. But he refused gloves, scoffed at them; said feeling the earth part under his feet was the only way he knew up from down.
And his eyes were shovels, constantly burrowing through me, dragging up fossils, the skeletons dancing in my closet. He lived with the dead, only understood the chattering of skulls, would unearth forgotten secrets, examine them as if he were a mortician, a pathologist. Then those eyes would silently begin again, reburying
My Knee Hurts and I Hate David BowieThey're at it again.
I've grabbed the broom and smacked the handle against the ceiling, but the neighbours upstairs take no notice. I think about calling the police, but I hate doing that without at least talking to them. Everybody deserves that chance, I think. Still, the prospect of standing outside their door and talking to them isn't one that sits comfortably. When I think I'm going to explode if I have to listen to another second, I give in.
I power up the stairs like nobody's business, and pound on their door. I'd knock like a normal person, but if they can't hear the broom hitting their floor, they won't hear a knock, either. Finally, after what feels like an eternity, the door opens and sound washes over me in a wave that's all but solid.
The figure in the doorway looks like a reject from an 80's concert. He's got a blinkin' mullet, and he sparkles... but he's got nothin' on the fella behind him. Bloody queer's wearing a dress, and more makeup than an entire row of beaut
A Love StoryOnce upon a time, a servant fell in love with a prince. He was handsome and clever and cruel, and she loved the way he spoke to her when they were alone. He did not court her in any traditional sense, though he promised so much with the curl of his lips and the lightness of his touch. He made her feel as if she were already the princess her promised her she would soon become.
And then he disgraced the servant, humiliating her by bragging of his deception shortly before marrying a pretty noblewoman. The servant wept. She loved him. He did not love her.
But this is a fairytale (as anything that begins with 'Once upon a time' must be), and convention dictates that this story cannot end here. It cannot end with the servant suffering a miscarriage and living out her days alone. By the same token, it cannot end with her decision to walk away herself, to have her child and be a single mother and suffer and love and find happiness. So long
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