It Will Hurt Less Than Falling

“Come down,” she urged the child. “It is not safe up so high in the tree.” She reached out her arms. They were very  long. They would catch the child.

“No,” said the child.

“You will fall and hurt yourself,” she smiled kindly with all of her teeth.

“You will hurt me more.”

“There is no pain in my embrace,” she reassured, her eyes pleading like hungry black holes.

“You will eat me.”

“It will hurt less than falling,” she promised, her tongue forked like a snake’s.

—-

Something a little spooky for October.

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Devour

“Whatever it takes,” he nodded to himself. “Can’t be weighed down with concerns about others. Won’t get anywhere like that.” His eyes strayed to the golden shimmer that was splayed next to the red counter. It was a number larger than anyone had ever had. But not enough. It was never enough. He always needed more. Because stopping meant losing. Stopping meant someone would catch up.

   There was a chime. The number flickered. Six billion nine hundred million ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine. His smile widened. The golden number ticked upwards. He glanced back at the red numbers. He had done it. No one would ever be as rich as he was. He was the ultimate. He had everything. The freedom to do whatever he wanted, the power to control the world.

   Almost. The numbers leered. There was more. There was still more he could do. His movements stilled. He stared at the golden numbers that beamed his pride and obsession. Almost.

—-

A small excerpt of a flash fiction I am working on. Exploring the depths of greed.

Her Skin Held Time

I could feel time in her skin.

It was soft and dry and thin like the skeleton of a leaf half decayed.

It told me of days and months and years that had all passed. It told me that more had passed than would come.

It told me to hold her close and treasure her.

For Sale

“Hello?” He called out, hoping a guard would walk by. “There must be some mistake. I shouldn’t be here. Hello? Let me talk to the police. Let me call my family. I don’t even know why I’m here. You can’t keep me here like this!” He waited, but his voice had been lost in the cacophony of the prison.

He heard a laugh and looked across at the opposite cell. There was a woman lounging there. She was pretty but in a kind of unremarkable way. Someone you’d notice once but not think about twice.

“Sure they can. And they will. And you should enjoy it while you can,” she motioned around her. “What comes after is much, much worse. We have it pretty good here. If you’re lucky, you’ll be here a while.”

—-

I’ve been working on a short story about the future of technology and the evolution of the black market and corruption. It’s a work in progress, but I figured I’d post a tidbit here. 

Treasure

If I didn’t know that a heart pumped blood, what would I imagine to be a heartbeat?
Would I think it a drum, played by my soul,
Or a timer, ticking, counting down to my last breath?
Would I think it the footsteps of an angel, keeping pace with my life,
Or perhaps the clinking of gears that run my body, stuttering along until my death?
Would I think it the pounding of a demon, trying to free its sins from the cage of my flesh and bones,
Or the sound of the war that constantly ravages my mind?
Would I think it thunder that accompanies the storming of emotions that make my body their home,
Or the impatient tapping of a deity, displeased with my choices?
Would I think it the ancient language of all beings, its meanings obscure and lost in the world of technology,
Or the resolute beating of the wings of my spirit, driving me ever onwards?

Would I never know that it was so very important,
Or would I know instinctively, every time I gasped for breath and it responded, every time it clenched, every time it felt it would burst with emotion,

Would I treasure my heart the way I do now?

—-

It’s been a while. I hope you are all doing well in this new year.

Study

Everyone told him that studying would make him smarter. They said that it would help him understand concepts he could not yet grasp.

So he studied. He studied very hard.

He studied the twitching limbs and curling fingers. He studied the way the bodies curled inwards, away from the gleaming metal. He studied the way blood ran so similar to their tears.

He observed like in science class. He repeated his experiments, over and over. And when he still could not understand, he began to broaden his observations.

He started listening. To the screaming and the begging, the crying and the desperate pleas. But nothing, not a stir.

He watched as they slowly awoke, their looks running from confusion to horror at the sight of blood and rotting corpses – the failed experiments – that littered the room. Faces were, he realized, very strong indicators of emotions. They twisted and contorted in an acrobat of expression. But stronger still, he found, were the eyes. They showed their fear, their pain, and for some, in the end, their resignation. He kept those ones in a jar, but they had lost their emotions once he had removed them from the body. He could not understand why.

He also touched. Touched their shivering limbs, their quaking bodies, their warm blood, their cold corpses.  But it gave him none of the answers he sought. He learned only that they became quick to shy away from him when he approached, wriggling like bugs trapped in a spider’s web. Their chains would shake, clinking, but they were unable to flee as his hands drained them of their lives.

Finally he tasted. First their blood, for it was the same colour as his own, and he knew that all humans were made of the same materials. But it was metallic and nothing more. Then he tasted their tears, for they always cried when they felt strong emotions. They were salty, and it reminded him of the ocean’s devastation. But these people were small and weak and very soon they stopped crying and stopped moving at all.

A monster, they called him, but he could not understand. For he and they were all the same. Blood and limbs and beating hearts. So why did they spend their lives smiling and crying, while he wandered the days never needing to shift his expression and never able to create tears? It was something that puzzled him greatly.

He still, he figured, had much to learn. And studying, he hoped, would provide him with the answer.

—-

Happy Halloween!

Rhythm of the Clock

We are painted by time. Our souls the brushes guided by the hours and days and years. Our wrinkles, our scars, strokes of paint the colour of life.

Art that lasts the fleeting forever of our lifetimes.

As we age, we lose our obsession with perfection, and allow time to paint its abstract beauty. For we all lie down to the rhythm of the clock.

Lone

She saw it in her dreams. Only the stars provided life to the shadows that clung to its form. It was staring out over the lands like a king. But no howl would it answer. Instead it lowered its ears and slinked away as if chastised.

How she wished it would revert, back to its proud stance, beautiful even in its solitude. But it withdrew in exile, never to join in the calls of the others.

She longed to feel its fur bristle beneath her fingers. See its eyes sharpen upon her, perhaps seeing her as prey, or perhaps, though she knew it to be impossible, seeing her as a familiar presence.

Over forests she reached, but it remained just beyond her fingertips, no matter how hard she strained.

And she would wake, tears in her eyes, as it turned from her and faded away. Just a dream, tangible only in her heart.

—-

Very loosely based on a dream I had.

The Translator

   “Ah, Sir, I’m afraid-” he paused and frowned as he glanced beside him. “What? No, I can’t say that, it’s rude!” He crossed his arms as the hooded man next to him spoke harshly. “I know you’re paying me to get the job done. I will, if you let me do it. And that threat stopped working ages ago.”

   He shook his head and glanced ahead of him. “I’m sorry about that,” he rubbed the back of his head. “My boss is having a rough day. Oh, yes, I’m sure you are, too!” He raised his hand as angry gestures were thrown his way. “In fact, that’s why we’re here. Ah, you see, the reason you’re so unhappy is because you’re not where you know you ought to be. 

   “Oh, no, no, it’s not your fault. You haven’t done anything wrong, don’t worry!” He smiled. “It’s our job – “ he winced at the jab to his side. “It’s his job to find those like you who have lost their way. I’m just here to translate!” He frowned and leaned forward. “Pardon me?”

   There was a grumbling breeze. 

   “Oh, I’m afraid they’re long gone, now. Nothing left here, as you can see,” he swept his arms around at the ruins around them. “In fact, you’ll have a much higher chance of finding them if you come with us.” He winced again. “If you go with him.”

   The figure beside him offered his hand.

   There was a pause. Then slowly a silver hand, translucent, placed itself into the bony grasp. It was caught and pulled, and they faded from view.

   He sighed, rolling his eyes. “Send me my usual.” He called out. “Honestly,” he muttered,  “sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it.” He shoved his hands into his pockets and made his way from the ruins. The rumours would slowly fade, and soon this house would be no more than a distant memory, eventually consumed by the forest. 

   He stopped and frowned. “Already?” He grumbled. His eyes glinted silver in the starlight, and he disappeared into the woods. “And here I thought I’d get a night off.” His words chased his image into the darkness.

—-

I thought my summer schedule would be lighter, but it turns out I’m working even more. Which is a good thing! But I’ve been neglecting my blog. Apologies!

The Hiker

She is light on her feet. Lithe, with short, white blonde hair. She floats, rather than hikes, with steps like a river’s dance over the dirt and rocks.

She wishes me a good morning, and I reply with a smile. As she passes, I notice a shopping bag dangling from her backpack. Perhaps, I think, she would go grocery shopping after hiking. But at her pace, she would finish exercising long before the stores open. And besides, why have it hanging when she could roll it up and place it in her bag?

Just ahead of me, she jerks to the side, a frown creasing her brow. “Trash,” she mutters. I can hear the sneer in her words. “Pisses me off.” She bends down and picks up an empty Gatorade bottle, abandoned by either an uncaring tourist, or inconsiderate local.

She places it in the shopping bag and continues on. I stare after her, a smile testing the edges of my lips. The morning sun flares wings from her back.

——

I often hike early in the mornings in order to avoid the tourist traffic. The regular morning crew is awesome, and I’m starting to recognize faces. They’re all friendly and dedicated, and definitely admirable.

Seeing

“Oh, I’m sorry, sir!” She bent down and retrieved his glasses. She inspected them as she stood up, her breath misting gently across the clear surface. She immediately felt tired. “They’re not broken or scratched,” she constructed a relieved smile.

He barely glanced at her as he took them back, but she was not surprised. She knew that dismissive look. She had seen it plenty of times before. Because her face was too gaunt to be considered pretty. Her hair was thin and greying despite her age. Her eyes no longer held the life she had once felt so strongly.

She watched as he walked away, still talking on his phone, his white shirt crisp and bright, his leather shoes clicking importantly with every step.

“Did you do it?”

“I always do,” she replied without turning to look at the man who appeared at her side. She stumbled slightly as he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her to his side.

“Good girl,” he kissed the top of her head. His lips were cold.

She remained still, used to his treatment.

“Let’s go,” he pulled her to his car.

She opened the door and sat down, immediately rolling the window down as she stared outside. She ignored his irritated glance.

The apartment building that they approached loomed with leering glass panels. She shivered despite the summer heat.

She did not bother rolling up the window as she exited the car. Her arms remained folded as they rode the elevator to the top floor.

The door recognized his fingerprint and allowed them into his apartment. And it was his apartment, not theirs. For he owned everything that she had.

Sharp edges and walls of glass glared as they entered. He pushed her towards the office, and she sat facing his desk. She picked up the notepad and pen. He sat in his chair and watched her, his eyes greedy.

Knowing better than to delay, she closed her eyes, and began to see. A screen flashed, a name, numbers. Her hand moved, a steady stream of red across the page.

She opened her eyes with a shudder as her hand trailed from the page. The pen dropped to the table and her hand fell to her lap. The world spun and she felt exhaustion creep in sluggish waves.

Her eyes drooped. She saw him take the pad, his smile cold, his mind already calculating. Soon, she knew, he would be millions richer, and a man would wake to find his accounts empty.

“Good work,” he praised.

She felt nauseated as she stared at his handsome face. At the lies behind his smile, behind his every word. The lies she had so foolishly trusted. The smile that had drunk in her deepest secret, one she had been so glad to finally share. The face that had been honest until it warped and its cruelty was revealed.

By then it was too late, the bars had fallen, and she knew that she would regret it for as long as she lived. Her only relief, she sighed as sleep lowered her eyes, was that it would not be too much longer. Her life drained as his greed grew and one day soon, she knew, she would be free.

Another in my series of Breath themed stories.

In no order:

Steam

Lunacy

Lunacy

“The moon that interesting?”

“It’s full tonight. Must be some werewolves out there.”

“Very funny.”

“What, Josh, you’re not scared of them, are you?” She finally turned to glance at him.

“They’re not even real.”

“Says you,” she sniffed.

He sat beside her and craned his neck. “It’s nice… But you look lovesick, the way you’re staring. Should I be jealous?”

“Maybe,” she grinned, her eyes flicking in his direction. The moonlight made his skin glow. “I mean, it’s gorgeous, it’s so bright, and – well, tonight, it’s pretty damn big.”

“It’s only bright because of the sun. And it’s not big every night.”

She shrugged, scowling as thin clouds momentarily obscured her view. “It’s just hidden most of the time. Doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

“You’ve been staring at it for hours now. Want to go grab food? I’m starved.” He put his arm around her, but she didn’t lean in to him as she normally did. “Melanie?”

Her head jerked and she turned to him, blinking. “I’m sorry, what was that?”

“Never mind. I’m gonna defrost a pizza.”

Melanie opened the window and inhaled the moon’s white breath.

She settled on the couch, her head nestled against a small mound of pillows. The moon was her blanket as she curled her legs up to her chest. It brushed its lullaby through her hair.

She felt her muscles relax, one by one, and a small smile curved her lips. Her breath misted, silver, in front of her.

“Want a slice?” Josh poked his head into the room as he read the directions on the back of the box. “Melanie?” He looked up when there was no response. She was still staring outside. He sighed. “Mel,” he walked up and shook her. She was warm, her pulse soothing, and her eyes vacant as the moon.

—-

I’ve been fascinated with the idea of breath. First with Steam, and now with this one. And I have more lined up. They are not connected, but rather variants on a theme. I hope you enjoyed it!