Diminishing Tension

This was inspired by That One Cat’s prompt and fills the “Ace Hero/Heroine Doesn’t Want The Guy” square in my March/April Play-It-Again Bingo. This is 671 words and is about what someone might need instead of sex as their reward for being an everyday hero.

Diminishing Tension

The music throbbed through the club and vibrated the tacky wooden floorboards under Peter’s feet. The lights strobed in time to the electric beat, and he could feel bass thumping in his chest in time to the elevated rate of his heart.

Several other guys from his fire station always accompanied him to this club after an intense call. The adrenaline kept them all wired for several hours after each fire was resolved, and despite the exhaustion grasping for their knees, each needed his own way to wind down the night before sleep had any hope of catching hold of them. He knew that the reward most of his coworkers were here for had little to do with the electronic dance music blasting their ears. For some it was the anesthetizing effect of the many beers they poured down their throats, and for several others it had everything to do with the beautiful bodies writhing together on the dance floor, any one of which would be happy to give a hero his due in the parking lot, or all night long in either participant’s apartment. But for Peter he was here exclusively for that heavy pulsing bass, so closely mimicking the racing tempo of his own pulse, keeping him up in that headspace he felt during the fire; clear, focused, and controlled. The music is what brought him to this club, and music is what would send him onwards to the next stop once his buddies had each met their needs for the night and headed out.

After he’d seen that everyone else had headed out, Peter would be ready for a change of pace, would finally be prepared to step things down one level closer to his baseline and eventually start winding his way towards sleep. The next place was a grungy dive bar, lighting dim and private, and nearly deserted this late into the night. It boasted a truly great jukebox he could load full of quarters. He selected all of his favorite rock songs, the ones he knew sung to his decreased level of intensity. He was ready for lyrics now, able to start imagining something that wasn’t just the heat of the fire, the tar and resin in the fire’s smoke clogging his lungs, the remembered grit that had made its way against his skin even through all of the protective gear, the stickiness of sweat caused by heavy exertion and extreme temperatures. There were still a few ladies, now so close to closing time, looking to offer him comfort and hoping to find some of their own. Peter politely refused, smoothly deflecting their advances. He’d never felt awkward saying no, rather he’d felt decidedly wretched the few ill-advised times he’d muttered yes. Nursing just one beer, his first and only for the night, he’d rest here in an out of the way booth, getting up only to reload the jukebox as needed, until the bar tender gently ushered everyone towards home.

Making sure the barflys made it safely to their cars, and saying goodnight to the few friendly regulars, Peter would make his short drive home in anticipatory silence. Softly closing his front door, and twisting over the deadbolt, Peter would immediately make his way to the beautifully restored record player that held pride of place in his apartment and he’d carefully place the needle down on one of many treasured blues records. This final step on his journey was done in reverence. He was finally met with the feelings of pure safety and security that meant he was home, alone with just the music, and his thoughts cleared of everything hot and impatient. Now he felt his mind and body relax and loosen, releasing everything that tonight’s fire had caused to stress and harden, giving way to the waves of sound with which he had surrounded his evening. Now 3 a.m. and Peter wallowed in bed as the scratch of the needle and the mournful blues danced him carefully the last few steps into slumber.

Published in: on April 17, 2017 at 7:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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Relabeled Chemistry Experiments

This was inspired by an Anonymous prompter and fills the “demisexual” square in my March/April Play-It-Again Bingo. This is 461 words and is just an example of the ways I imagine people might learn such things about themselves.

Mildly sexual language/imagery.

Relabeled Chemistry Experiments

I’m waiting for her at the park, my fingers idly peeling up the rim of my cardboard coffee cup. I’d nervously drank the full 20 oz before she could arrive after her last class, and now I was left fidgeting and staring at the steaming cup across from me that I’d grabbed for her.

We’d been meeting at the park on Tuesdays and Thursdays all semester once we’d chosen each other as lab partners, but recently I’d begun to look forward to our study sessions more than Chem 120 really warranted. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I had a sneaking suspicion I was attracted to her. This had me majorly freaked out. I’d been identifying as asexual since I’d encountered the term in middle school & everyone around me seemed to simultaneously lose their mind over boys, or girls, or boys and girl. I’d made it through puberty & over the other side without so much as a twinge of lust brought on by jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, geeks, or any other available demographic in my suburban school’s hallways. I’d experimented alone in the sanctuary of my own bedroom, and I’m sure I’ve reached orgasm, which felt nice enough, but wasn’t something I found myself craving regularly, and certainly not with an audience.

But now I’ve spent twelve weeks in concentrated proximity to one of the most intelligent girls I’ve had the pleasure to meet and attraction is the only thing I’ve come up with that explains everything this feeling encompasses. It started with her scent. I’d liked it right away, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, as I indulged in a long bubble bath and most of a Chocolove Sea Salt & Almond chocolate bar “Me Date,” that I’d remembered her smell nostalgically and found my heart rate rising and my fingers wandering down between my thighs. In that moment I realized I didn’t enjoy the smell in a I’d wear that way but apparently, given the intensity of my ensuing climax, in a more I’d like to be rubbing against her while she’s wearing it kind of way. And since then I’ve sweated through several sleepless nights with busy fingers remembering precisely the way she places her palm against my wrist to gain my attention while we work, and reliving the breath stealing sight of her deep lower back as her shirt rides up when she stretches across the park’s picnic table to grab another notebook to pour over as we study.

I tally up all of this evidence as I wipe damp clammy palms down my denim covered hips and wait impatiently for the moment she spots me at our usual park table and her smile lights up her face and my Allison-specific libido.

Published in: on March 16, 2017 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Best of All Dances

This was inspired by a prompt from Stardreamer and fills the “Dancing” square in my 2-1-17 card for the Valentines Bingo challenge. This piece is 297 words and complete.

The Best of All Dances

One. Two. Three.

The band plays in three-four time; the music bright and the lighting dim. The ballroom surrounds us but we cling to each other. You follow the movement of the music and I faithfully follow your lead. This is how our love begins.

I. Love. You.

My dress is winter white; the train a whisper across along the aisle. I step to the music we chose together for this moment. Forgoing Mendelssohn in favor of Strauss. I watch as tears of joy streak your cheeks. This is how our marriage begins.

Two. Blue. Booties.

We wanted to wait until they arrived, to enjoy the surprise. Whether we would all dance together to the Pink Lady or to Blue Danube, I wasn’t concerned. Just as long as they’re healthy was what you’d been saying since I told you the news. This is how our son was born.

To. Bed. Angry.

We forgot to keep dancing. The Minute and The Second were retired to make room for all of the minutes and seconds you spent at work and we both spent stressed. I thought we’d grown apart. This is how our separation was born.

I. Miss. Us.

Our son was dancing in the Nutcracker and we are forced into close proximity for the first time in several months. I tightly grasp your hand as we each cry proud parent’s tears. Yours are shed as we hold each other once again late into the darkest night. This is how our estrangement ends.

Three. Two. One.

They play Chopin and Talsur in our memory. We’re to be laid down side by side at the end of the ceremony. We’ve danced through life and death together; this time I’d led, and faithfully you followed. This is how our Waltz ends.

Published in: on February 10, 2017 at 8:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Less is More

This was inspired by a prompt from Sara and fills the “The Friendzone Is My Safe Place” and “Gossip” squares in my 2-1-17 card for the Valentines Bingo challenge. This piece is 384 words and I’m wishing my character luck with his frustrating neighbor!

Content notice: foul language.

Less is More

“Stop taking flowers out of my garden to woo people who don’t even treat you right,” yelled Jake Ellis from 334-C. I’d stopped by his stoop to pick a few of the irises that grew there in abundance and that I knew Jake himself used as gifts for girls he dated.

“Uhm…what?” I fumblingly replied, completely taken aback by his abrupt appearance. I wasn’t expecting him to bully open his sliding glass door and hop out onto his patio just a few feet from me as I stopped to pick a few blooms on my way to Maddie’s place.

“Don’t take that bitch anymore of my flowers man! She’s not giving you any, so I don’t think you should be going out of your way for her anymore. Pick ‘em for someone who isn’t going to stick you straight into the friendzone.” Jake looked livid and motioned with his hands for me to throw the flowers down.

“Wha…how would you know about whether or not I’m getting any anything?” I demand.

“Dan told me he asked her out about a week ago and she said she’d like that. So he asked what about you and freakin’ Maddie tells him you’re just good friends. That’s girl for friendzoned and you deserve more bro, you’ve been workin’ on that for months now!” Jake sounded sincerely outraged on my behalf. His fingers flew into air quotes around nearly every other phrase.

I took a long step back and a deep breath in, bracing myself to explain yet again what was and wasn’t happening with me and Maddie Shelley. I’d already suffered through this conversation with my mother, my best friend Eric, my next best friend Jon and his current girlfriend, my interfaith pastor, and now, apparently, I’d get the utter joy of attempting to explain everything once more to womanizing Jake Jones from 334-C on his patio stoop while he stood there in just his Budweiser boxers and judged my life.

Friendship with Maddie was more rewarding and less stress than all of my prior girlfriends combined and if I just didn’t count the asshats who were more worried about whether or not my penis had made her acquaintance yet than whether or not I might be genuinely happy then things felt perfect just as they were.

Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 8:01 pm  Comments (2)  
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Fill: The One Who Cools

This fill was inspired by a prompt from Dreamwidth user Siliconshaman and fills the “Fog,” “Gothic,” “Wild Card – Wind,” “Regency,” and “Gods/Goddesses” squares in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. 567 words – this counts as a “Straight Line” Extra for the bingo challenge since it uses 5 prompts in one fill!

The One Who Cools

The carriage horses’ hooves sounded a muffled beat against the cobblestones as dank fog twined between their fetlocks and blanketed all of New Street. Through the leaded windows of a private gallery the grooms and drivers could watch as the Birmingham Society of Artists laughed and toasted one another in high spirits, the golden glitter of recently acquired Egyptian antiquities on display in the background. Prize of place among the artifacts was the mummified remains of an influential pharaoh’s adviser complete with canopic jars and other funerary paraphernalia. A stable hand coughed, wet and thick, the sound traveling strangely within the growing bank of mist.

The swirls eddied and flowed higher around the horses knees and hocks, as a wind picked up, blowing from the North through the streets of Birmingham. As the night wore on guests inside the gallery began departing, women in their regency finery glittering in the light of newly installed gas lamps that clung to the Gothic architecture of the gallery on New Street, and men in their suit coats and top hats opening the carriage doors politely.  An amulet, set upon a low table strewn with several other priceless pieces, silently slipped itself into a giddy ladies reticule as she passed on the way towards the door.

Chatter among the guests was animated as they left the gallery, their spirits alight with the passion of inquiry and the fever for ancient Egypt that had grasped their imaginations. As they wound their way through the evening streets they paid little attention to the howl of the rising North wind, or the fog that was now as high as their horse’s withers and thick like a suffocating shroud. The amulet of fine sardonyx and jasper rattled in the bottom of Ms. Clarke’s handbag, the fine emblem of Qebui seeming to shine in the dim light of a home bound carriage.

The fog had swollen upwards, now smothering even the gas lights that marched along the arches of cast iron lamp posts. The wind had become savage and the horses feared to continue on their journey towards the Clarke estate. Something massive moved within the wind and fog, something old striding through the streets of Birmingham. And as the strange storm enclosed the carriage of Ms. Clarke, the driver swore that directly before his team of horses stood a massive Ram, with upraised wings and upon its neck four fearsome heads. The driver tells a tale of how this beast stood as if frozen in the fog and wind, with waters raging below his hooves, and right as he clambered down from his box to flee in terror into the mists that night, the Ram struck his hooves upon the cobbles, releasing a raging river that overturned the carriage and pulled under the horses.

The following morning dawn arrived bright and clear over Birmingham. A bright new day except for the discovery of Ms. Clarke’s carriage overturned in a puddle of brackish water just blocks from her home, the four horse team all drowned without signs of any further wounds, and Ms. Clarke herself asphyxiated and soaked through as if submerged many hours in her bath. As investigators begin the hunt for her missing driver, another seemingly unrelated complaint is received from the curator for the Birmingham Society of Artists; that of a missing Egyptian amulet believed stolen from their gallery opening just the night before.



Qebui – the Egyptian God of the North Wind whose name means “The One Who Cools.”

Researching this God brought me to the incredible amulet pictured above created by Deviant Art user warboar, and I knew I had to find a way to work it into a story.

Fill: Captive Apparition Divination

This was inspired by a prompt from Elzibelle on FB and fills the “captive”  and “apparition” squares in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. This fill is 590 words, and is technically an off-shoot from a story snippet I wrote in February 2015 introducing the Witch Queen Shaela, and while I don’t think the story is going to go in that direction anymore, I’m still intrigued by the character, and excited her world made a reappearance.

Captive Apparition Divination

The Witch Queens have each possessed their own skills and talents, preferring certain styles and embellishments for their particular magicks. All are tasked with watching fortune and future closely to lead her people forward in prosperity, but the manners in which each accomplishes these royal duties are widely varied. Our current Witch Queen, Shaela, uses a classic tarot & is gifted with intermittent visions through her dreams, both practices of common occurrence amongst the Queens. In general, tarot cards, scrying of all kinds, readings of tea leaves or match sticks, runes and pendulums are all in the most highly favored classes, although some can be quite unique in the manner of embellishments used; Queen Amalyda’s Finger Bone pendulum was known as a gruesome but effective augur. Some scholars find the history of Royal Divination quite fascinating, and prefer to delve into the more bizarre and esoteric styles that have been used and recorded in the Royal Book of Divination.

Used only three times in our written and oral history has been the keeping of captive apparitions. The oldest is Witch Queen Estere who kept the ghost of her mother locked in a bottle of honey spirits, where it was said she had poured herself on purpose after killing her liver with the drink. Gaining the insight of realms beyond our own, while still easily communicating with talented humans, souls trapped between the worlds require a great deal of power to maintain, and raise a number of terrifying ethical questions if they haven’t volunteered for the duty.

The second instance of a similar divinatory tactic used by the Queens was the Crystal Oracle of Witch Queen Fevre. Fevre captured part of her own spirit within a scrying crystal by sacrificing the phallus she had been born with, but couldn’t incorporate into her magick or spirit, and placing it into molten glass. The polished orb was wrapped in layers of magick that protected the phallus from decay, and it was reputed to be both a nearly infallible whisperer of hard times to come, and also to have saved Favre’s life by saving her sanity. Once unburdened by its physical presence on her body Favre was one of the realms most content and happy rulers. The Queen and the Crystal Oracle were buried separately, against common custom, so she wouldn’t need to carry the burden further into the realm beyond.

Finally, the only other recorded instance of captive divination comes from Witch Queen Tuth, who summoned a minor demon and made a fairly simple deal. For agreeing to spend the duration of Tuth’s human lifespan trapped in a locked room of the castle, all reasonable needs and desires provided for but nothing tawdry would be tolerated, the demon would inherit all of Tuth’s powers upon her death. Perhaps a risky strategy had Tuth not been so mightily powerful herself, and had the deal not been so particularly good for the demon. In a lifespan that stretches millennia, where absorbing other’s power is the only way a demon can increase their own, spending the 33 years Tuth reigned as Witch Queen as a pampered house pet was very little for the demon to pay in exchange for what would likely have amounted to centuries worth of risky battles on its own plane of existence. Really, it could easily have counted the whole endeavor a vacation with profit! The deal worked out well for Tuth, the demon, and our Queendom, with the demon parting rapidly the day after Tuth’s death with no fanfare or desolation.

“Demifiction” seems to fit the genre of this piece best. It’s not really a story, but rather a bit of fictitious history for an imaginary world. Possibly excerpted from a text book, or the equivalent of a hobbyist’s magazine.

Fill: Creatures made of Water to the Ocean must Return

This fill was inspired by a song prompt from Dreamwidth user Callibr8 and fills the “forgotten” square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. 354 words – I’m not really sure what this qualifies as, but I’m kinda digging it, and really enjoyed the writing.

Here is a link to the song with lyrics from Callibr8’s prompt, “Erased” by Vixy & Tony.

Creatures made of Water to the Ocean must Return 

I left her there beside the sea furiously weeping. I donned back on my selkie coat that she’d kept hidden away from me. Diving deep into the cold blue heart of the ocean who’d been calling. Singing to me a song of home and relentless aching longing.

In the sea I couldn’t tell how she stirred the sky to thunder. How her magic called a maelstrom designed to tow me too far under. In her agony and pain she meant to deal me more the same. For daring to forget her she’d attempt to tear my life asunder.

We’d been tumultuous lovers, meeting in a summer meadow. Where I’d come ashore to walk awhile and reconnect with human fellows. She’d been a maid studying magic’s ways and never meant for a man to know. And the tryst meant to last only a season somehow became her life’s singular reason.

So soon I longed to leave her, though I’d never meant to deceive her. She’d known my nature from early on, but couldn’t bare the fate of being gone. From my memory she’d be erased, when the ocean I re-embraced. So she stole my soul and trapped me in that place.

Our love turned sour, more so every hour. And I searched the sea shore night and day. Once each rock and crevice, cave and cliff, I had finally scoured. Then she finally, in a fit of rage, threw my selkie coat out onto the harbor.

So now I swim in a relentless dim, trying to escape her love sick sadness. Her name I have forgotten, but her sobbing wails they are still haunting. My home coming with the sea usually meant to me such personal gladness. Has now become a tomb as I drown beneath the waves she’s stirred into a whirl with her madness.

Far better it had been, had I come ashore and then, having seen the beautiful maiden on the field. If I had turned and ran away, clutching my skin as though a shield. And never would I have pretended to feel. True love between a woman and a seal.


This seemed to just flow right out kind of dreamy and slow, and I apologize if its a complete mess. I really enjoyed the act of writing it though, so I chose to just leave it the way it came about.

Published in: on January 19, 2017 at 5:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fill: Wedding Wishes

This was inspired by a prompt from Marellene on FB and fills the “fog” square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. This piece is 866 words and went a bit off the rails for me to be honest; I was not expecting the story to lead where it ended.

Wedding Wishes

“What are you thinking about?” Mason hissed in my right ear.

“Hmm?” I murmured back distractedly, raising my wineglass to my lips and taking a small sip.

“What’s taken you so far away? You’ve hardly been present through the whole meal, wandered off in your own thoughts again.” Mason looked around the table, our parents and family spread around the large family style dining table that was set centrally in the restaurant. Our cousin, the bride with her handsome groom sat at the farthest end of the table, fawned over by their mix of friends and family.

“Nothing. It’s not important Mason,” I retort in an acid tone. I glare at the fine cuisine that sits cold and congealing on my plate and take a larger than healthy swallow from my wine glass, attempting to push back the bile rising in my throat. I shouldn’t have come tonight; I shouldn’t have believed I’d be strong enough to ever get through this farce.

“Well you better knock it off, mom’s looking at you and I swear if you piss her off I’ll…,” Mason wore a scowl that spoke of the many ways well informed siblings can make your life unbearable, and I glare back, my lips tight with ire and my eyes just beginning to burn with resentful tears.

I push my chair back abruptly, the squeal made by the legs as they hang up on the wooden floor halting conversation momentarily as wedding guests glance up and then hurriedly away. Voices resume their chatter hesitantly the further I get from the table. I rush past servers and other wait staff as I hurry towards the stairs to the floor below, desperate for some air and a moment of privacy to attempt pulling myself together.

As I burst from the restaurant I look west towards the bay. Striding purposefully along the blacktop drive I move further and further away from the Mission Table and towards the gentle curve of Bowers Harbor across the road. Full dark has fallen while the bride and groom’s reception dinner is being held inside the light and safety of the old Inn, and the road as I attempt to cross it is now obscured by fog in both directions. I make it safely across and once I reach the edge of the sand where it turns into the lapping waves of the bay I gulp air liked I’d earlier begun gulping wine.

She’d stolen this from me, all of it. Scott and I had dreamed this up together on the night of our second anniversary, lying entwined on the bed of a cozy B&B in Arcadia, we’d painted a picture of what our wedding would be like, and it had been this, exactly this. I’d always loved the old Bowers Harbor Inn and we’d talked wistfully about being married there, on the grounds with the bay visible right across the street, the sun setting as we said our vows before twilight. We’d laughed about who we could invite to such a small venue, about our two families mingling and eating family style of the expensive cuisine, of spending the night on the Old Mission Peninsula and staying for there for the whole honeymoon, surrounded by the bay.

Then that year at Christmas he’d met my slut of a cousin and three months later I’d been dumped. Love at first sight they claimed, impossible to resist. Now she’d just ripped another dream from my heart. She’d stolen Scott and in return he gifted the whore with my perfect fairy tale wedding. I seethed with resentment and sorrow and a feeling of impending insanity like a storm brewing in the back of my brain. The grief of the last lonely year and the pressure of enduring this entire night made me feel blind and deaf and unhinged.

Looking up from where I’d been gazing sightless over West Bay I realized the fog had shrouded around even thicker, that the lights of the restaurant across the road were now barely discernible, and the road disappeared just a few yards to either side of me. But what became incredibly clear just a foot in front of me was the apparition. The translucent form emerged and I knew her immediately, the ghost of Bower Harbor, she stood in front of me and she stretched out her hand, laid it upon mine, and in a daze she drew me, still sobbing, across the fogged road. She brought me back towards my betrayers; my family and friends who all knew how much this had meant to me and came to celebrate for her instead. Who were all equally culpable in shattering my life.

I let the ghost pull me step by step back to the restaurant Mission Table, once the Bowers Harbor Inn, and before that the home of a woman scorned and betrayed much like me. And I gripped her lifeless ghostly hand and together, together we found solace for each other. Together, wrapped in the fog rolling off the bay, we set it all on fire, and burned my dreams to ashes along with everyone who’d ruined them for me, everyone who’d betrayed us, me and Genevieve.


The Ghost of Bowers Harbor is a real legend, although mostly debunked, and the restaurant and all named places are all real. I’ve eaten at the Jolly Pumpkin several times, which is the more casual dining establishment attached to the Mission Table, and I’ve seen several weddings in progress on the lawn just across from the bay. Its really pretty, like that entire area is, and my husbando is incredibly lucky to have grown up in one of the most gorgeous parts of Michigan.

Published in: on January 15, 2017 at 9:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fill: In Passing

This was inspired by a prompt from craserit83 and fills the “spirit” square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. This made it to 366 words and feels reasonably complete.

In Passing

Forgotten in the hallowed halls, forgotten in the cathedral forest, forgotten among their markers of stone. The spirits may all be forgotten, but they’re the ones who haven’t yet received the full pleasure of forgetfulness.

The dreary parchment colored spirit of a Victorian housewife remembers how it was her husband’s fist that put her in the family’s mausoleum, another spirit on the corner of 4th & Ewing was done in by a reckless taxi. The forest is full of hunting accidents, or what’s been made to look like accidents. Easy enough to take Mr. Wellerby’s land if he’s not alive to protest and you appear convincingly bereaved to his family during the services. The endless rows of soldiers’ cemeteries laid out so neat and crisp, like war never is, hold weeping spirits, angry spirits, and those that are simply heart achingly confused.

I wander here and there through life observing my own soul wear thin, translucent, offering bits and pieces to spirits I encounter who are finally ready to take the next step forward. Releasing them from their remembrance of themselves, the horrible death, or merely tragic one, that keeps them chained in place. People say “Don’t let your fears hold you back.” I feel it’s good advice; more ghosts should listen. But they’re all alike in that one regard, all afraid. Of what comes after most often and I have little guidance there, I’m still mostly alive, or of being forgotten. And I can never bring myself to be cruel and tell them bluntly, “Too late. The world’s moved on now. Forgetting is what you need to do.”

The work will ensure I leave no forgotten spirit behind, and that’s a source of comfort. I know the torment of lingering. I’m soon for it as well, based on the way my soul aches with each new gift I share in passing. I’m excited to see what’s beyond. The closest I’ve come was the one and only time I held a new born baby and deep inside, where her soul was growing, I felt part of the truth. I felt memories from half-remembered spirits I was sure I’d met before, long ago, on some forgotten day.

Published in: on January 10, 2017 at 6:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fill: Finder’s Keepers

This fill was inspired by a prompt from Dreamwidth user Ysabetwordsmith and fills the “slavery” square in my 1-1-17 card for the Dark Fantasy Bingo challenge. 564 words – This is set in the same universe as, and is a rough follow up to, the story snippet “Provisions.”

This is for a Dark Fantasy challenge, and there’s some active and referenced abuse happening…

Finder’s Keepers

The collar, soft supple leather bolted to the wall by a chain of fine gold lengths, chafes her neck until it forms blisters that seep. His hands caress her flanks in barely there flutters of sensation leaving black scorched skin; cauterized her flesh sizzles and smells of cooking meat. His laugh is soft and intimate and she cries out in agony.

She’s an embodiment of purity, gentleness, and freedom, and to be enslaved in any way is anathema to her spirit. To be made bare to the touch of this evil is enough to drive her nearly out of her mind in fear. What he did with her pain after, the way he used her, that made her feel as if the evil had seeped deep into her own heart and even if she could escape she’d never be clean of it.

He’d caught her grazing in the suburban park she used to meet human children, special girls and boys who still believe the true tales of the wood. That park was no longer much of a wood, but the Human Realm had deserted the wilds in favor of concrete and steel, so she’d adapted to the loss and found new ways to make friends. She never calculated the danger to herself in the new space, how bound by roads on all sides it could become like a small fenced paddock, containing her frightened run long enough to allow capture. Dragging her into his carriage of metal she was helpless from there, her wits momentarily lost to flight fear, and her magic dampened by the iron’s cousin. She’s susceptible to all of the ways humans have to fight and hinder the Otherworldy, and this gave him plenty of ways to make her his slave.

The first time she summoned an Elven boy. It was an unconscious act, one made in mortal peril as the wounds covered most of her hide from where he had grabbed her around chest and rear, and she regretted calling them almost immediately. Now she wishes she’d allowed her own demise that first night, before he knew her secret, in order to have saved herself from enslavement, and all the lives of the children that came after. So many, many, children. He had still been present in the bowels of his den where he had chained her to the wall when she first summoned one of her special friends, someone who she had hoped could heal and free her, but unfortunately it was the unicorn Orissa who helped the human predator find new and easy prey. Watching from the shadows he’d snatched the Fae child as soon as the healing was complete and what he wrought upon the boy was unspeakable. She’d cried in shame for her part in their suffering before it ended.

He delighted in causing her damage so softly. He saved the brutality for the young ones, and laid his hands on her hide only in the most delicate patterns, sometimes taking days to build the torment until Orissa unwilling gave in to his demands to summon a new plaything. She wished for death, which she believed would be the last pure, gentle, and free thing she could ever touch again, because what he had found that day in the park he had kept, the children she called he kept too, and what he kept he utterly destroyed.


Orissa – Otherworldy Unicorns make friends with any young creatures, including young humans, who they used to see more of before the Human Realm became so inhospitable. Their influence traditionally ends once an individual’s “Purity” is lost, which has historically been interpreted to mean virginity, but there are far worse ways to become impure than something as natural as sex and desire.