An Aird Heart Cast Adrift

She had thought their love would have kept them together. How wrong she had been.

It was dark out, the water of the lake lapping at her feet. She stood in nothing but a silver gown, the hem damp and swirling within the water. Overhead, a thousand stars glimmered like a sea of diamonds that lured her from the safety of her home. She rested one hand on her abdomen, caressed the protruding swell as she stared out at the water.

‘He’s happy now,’ a cool breeze curled around her, playing with the ends of her shawl as she stood motionless on the shoreline. Water pulled at her legs, almost as if calling her from the land to join the depths. Her gaze shifted to the bag resting beside her, wet but standing resolute. “He is happy. He would never have had that, had he stayed…”

Something clear and slender peeked out from under her pack’s flap as if begging her to release it. She knelt and paused. Pale fingers skimmed the damp fabric, hair curling around her as the wind changed directions. It curled around her body, pulled towards the water like an unspoken encouragement breathed on a gentle push.

‘He is happy, but I…I am not,’ She stared at the slender neck of glass calling out to her, mind whirling. She let her fingers graze over the flawless, smooth surface with a sense of wonder. Did she dare? ‘The world is dark. There is nothing more than this bleak, hollow feeling…’

She pulled free her object of interest, revealing a glass bottle housing a scroll. It was quiet, in that moment. She stood, bottle held tightly to her chest. She bowed her head and closed her eyes. Her mind stilled, and a chilled wind fluttered around her. It blew her hair away from her face, tangling within the thick strands.

‘I do not wish to be selfish,’ She sank into the sand, pressed the bottle close to her heart as she lowered her head. She drew in a deep breath, held it and then released it on a soft, calm whisper, “I have done all I could. I’ve never asked for anything…”

She lifted her head, her gaze on the lake’s calm waters. She rose and stepped into the depths, bottle in hand. She went deep, stopping only when the water lapped at her waist and curled through her fingers. She let her hands sink marginally, watching as the water curled around the glass enclosure in a possessive, swirling embrace.

When the water pulled the glass casing from her hands, she whispered, “The silence, I want it to end. The emptiness, filled. The numbness, gone. Grant me this one wish, Spirts of the Lake. Grant me this…”

She left the waters, ignorant to how the bottle vanished under the churning water.


Daily Prompt: Arid

A Ghostly Cry

Albion was, once again, woken by a high-pitched wail.

His system fluttered into awareness. Dark bags outlined dull, arctic-blue eyes as the young man rose up on his elbows. Platinum dreadlocks fell around his face, a sharp contrast against his bronze skin. Rising, he pushed his hair out of his face as he eyed the open door leading to the hallway, a door that rocked in its frame.

“Carry?” He waited a moment, listening. His partner-in-crime didn’t respond, and, with a groan, he pulled himself off the worn, crumbling floor. He grabbed his jacket on his way up and pulled it on as he made his way into the hallway. “Carry, where the hell you at?”

The hallway was empty. Davidson was nowhere in sight, his rifle leaning against a wall across the hall. Albion scowled, stuffed his hands in his pockets as he set out. “They’d best not be fucking. Ain’t the time for it…”

As he made his way into the foyer, the high-pitched wait cut through the air once more. It was loud, the cry piercing the air. Demanding to be heard, some part of him whispered. On the other side of the foyer was a door cracked open, a veil of black whirling beyond. When the wail came again, the hairs on his body stood.

He eyed that shadowy corner, his gaze drawn to that door and the darkness beyond. He could hear the chocked cries, knew they were beyond that unknown point. His gaze swept across the open space, and, after a moment, made his way over to the door. He paused in front of it, not quite sure he trusted himself.

Was it wise to cross that threshold? Albion closed his eyes, exhaling slowly as another wail rent the air. Then he stepped forward, nosed open the door and crossed into the dark. It was like a wave of cold, iced water rolling over his body. Albion shuddered, skin crawling as he opened his eyes to scan the barely-there outline of a hallway.

He let his feet lead him. This place, it was a maze.

Albion wasn’t all that sure what this massive building was supposed to be. The technology he could see, it was a time before his. The charts and the short-hand notes scribbled in fading ink a foreign language. The double-wide doors with the heavy non-glass windows, that opened with the lightest push, were nothing more than vague, broken memories.

When he followed the sharp wail into a small room, he didn’t need to know the past and its history to know what sort of room he had stumbled into. The cribs, three against the left and right walls, were in shambles. The metal was rusted, tattered blankets slipping between the bars. The beds were stained, the once-white mattresses yellow and brown.

In one bed, a shimmering ball of white-blue energy fluttered. It seemed to turn towards him, to reach for him. Albion stopped in front of that lone crib, cold inside as he looked upon the bones resting across the tiny mattress. He reached forward, a bitter smile crossing his face as a tiny, silver-blue hand wrapped around his finger.

He didn’t move as the ghostly infant, sitting in a bone-laden crib, leaned into his hand. It was silent, for that moment. He stood, one arm braced on the crib’s metal railing, watching as the tiny, shimmering creature pressed against its cold, uncaring cage. When the baby began to suck on his fingers, Albion relented.

The young man reached into the crib, slipped his hands under the cold, transparent arms of a squabbling baby. He lifted the infant straight out of its prison, tucked the small thing against his chest and rested his chin upon the crown of the baby’s head. Small hands batted at his face, and the baby squealed when its too-soft hands ran over his beard.

“Al.”

Albion turned, when he heard her voice. Carry stood in the doorway, eyes wide. Her vest was partly unzipped, bruises and bitemarks marring the pale flesh. She walked with a slight limp, though she froze when her gaze landed on the tiny bundle cooing in his arms.

Behind her, Davidson appeared. He was adjusting his pants, though paused when he nearly collided with her back. When he, too, caught sight of the infant, Davidson paled. Whiskey irses lightened, the pupils expanding rapidly as he hissed, “Al, that’s a ghost!”

“No,” Albion murmured as he ran a hand down the infant’s back. “This is a baby.”


Daily Prompt: Baby

Slurred Reputation

She was going to die.

There was no ‘and, if or buts’ involved. She was, simply put, going to die a gruesome, unusual death. To make it worse – she didn’t even know why. Annabel knew all of this was some kind of misunderstanding – after all, she’d never met the man before today – but how was she to make them understand that? They wouldn’t even let her make a phone call, only laughed when she asked as if she had said something funny.

Wasn’t that one of her rights? Annabel was sure it was. She had a right to an attorney, to a lawyer, to have one last meal, and to make that damn phone call. She paced the small, circular enclosure she had been dropped off in. Weren’t cells supposed to be square? She eyed the rough, curved walls for a moment before sinking to the floor.

They didn’t even have the decency to give her a bed. Or even a bucket to relieve herself in, should she get so desperate. How was she supposed to get out? Annabel wasn’t sure how long she sat there, on the cold ground, but, at one point, she heard voices.

At first, Annabel thought she was going crazy. The voices weren’t coming from the door or the hallway beyond that she was certain was there. These voices, they weren’t loud. The voices were soft, a lurking whisper that had her turning circles until she could only stare at the wall. The voices were coming from the stones as if each word was seeping through the stones.

There was a voice…within the wall. She could hear it, its voice light and shrill and echoing. Annabel sat there, not quite sure if she had gone mad. Then, slowly, she leaned in and pressed her ear to the wall. She pressed one hand against the stones, holding her breath as she listened for the voices that had, oddly enough, gone silent.

She could hear it, its voice light and shrill and echoing. Annabel sat there, not quite sure if she had gone mad. Then, slowly, she leaned in and pressed her ear to the wall. She pressed one hand against the stones, holding her breath as she listened for the voices that had, oddly enough, gone silent.

“Hello?”

Behind her, someone cleared their throat. Annabel whipped around, eyes wide. A man stood in the doorway, one dark eyebrow arched as she flushed in embarrassment. When the man said nothing, Annabel whispered, “I thought…I heard someone talking…”

“Through the wall?”

“Not exactly.”

Neither said anything, for a moment. A few men behind the one in the doorway exchanged looks with one another but said nothing. Annabel slowly stood, dusted the butt of her pants off, and then folded her hands in front of herself. After a moment, she said, “It was coming from the wall, if you must know. I was attempting to hear what was being said.”

After a moment, the man laughed. “I’ve come across many different responses to an upcoming execution but this, this is new. Voices from a wall. Did you, by chance, catch what they were saying?”

“No,” Annabel wanted to pace, body unnaturally warm under that mocking stare. She cleared her throat, folded and unfolded her hands as she continued, “They went quiet at the same time you came in. Maybe a moment before. I wasn’t paying much attention.”

The silence that dragged between them, then, was uncomfortable. Then he smiled, leaned against the inside of the threshold, and said, “Then, by all means, finish your conversation. I’d hate to interrupt such a meaningful exchange.”

“Now you’re just being smart,” Annabel retorted. She complied when his other eyebrow arched, and turned to the wall with a huff. ‘Is he going to shot me or something?’

She eyed the wall for a moment as the question danced in her mind. It was possible. Maybe he didn’t want to have to look at her when he killed her. She felt eyes on her back, but, after a moment, stepped up to the wall and rested a hand on the smooth stones. Swallowing, she whispered, “If anyone’s there, now’s the time to say whatever you were saying.”

Swallowing, she whispered, “If anyone’s there, now’s the time to say whatever you were saying.”

‘Lean back.’

“Lean back?”

Annabel wasn’t sure what to expect, but she didn’t have a chance to ask for clarification. Beneath her hands, the stones groaned. The floor shifted under her feet, suddenly rolling. Annabel screeched as she pitched forward, the wall before her suddenly gone. She heard the man in the doorway yell something, but, as she turned, her eyes widened.

The man was coming, moving fast and hard. As he reached her tunnel, the wall closed.

She heard him hit the stones, heard him curse. As she turned, she saw a light on the other end. Annabel crawled through the tunnel and tumbled out on the other end in a white, spacious room. Across from her was a table, and, on it, a phone hooked to a landline.

Rising to her feet, Annabel blinked. She crossed the room, picked up the phone, and put it to her ear. A dial tone rang clearly, and she grinned. To the right, the door shook as someone threw themselves against the thick, unmoving barricade.

Annabel grinned and then she began to dial.


Daily Prompt: Slur

Rhythmic Changes

The sun ascended into the sky like a glowing halo of light.

The heavens churned, ribbons of rosy pink and intense violets whirling through the sky as the morning’s first exhale pushed back the dreary, cold shadows. Far below, the earth began to awaken. The ground glittered with shimmering pearls of morning dew, a thousand stars glistening in a sea of green. A breeze ruffled the canopies, the touch soft as it caressed the leaves. The sun crept over the horizon, and those caught within a dream rose.

Tenzin woke with the sun, rising at the same dark hour as he had every day before.

He made his way outside, the wind cold on his naked flesh. His skin rippled with small bumps, flesh upraised as the chill air embraced him. He exhaled, eyes shut and head tilted back to welcome the rising sun. He was relaxed, content. As he expelled the negative energy curled inside him, he welcomed the dawn and the untold wonders it cradled within its arms.

The birds began to sing. Tenzin smiled, then. He held out one hand, silent as a blur of blue took to the sky. Then it dove, talons catching on his skin as it came to a landing on his wrist. Beady black eyes observed him, intelligent and calm. He ran a thumb across the bird’s breast, marveling at the smooth feathers.

The forest yawned behind him, noise stirring in the high grass. He turned to see a stag venture forth, long antlers curved and proud. The mighty creature stood in the distance, watching. Tenzin went back to his work, finding crumbs in his small home.

It was better this way, he knew.

As he spread the crumbs across the ground, he could not stop the content smile spreading across his face. Why would he? Here, in the wild away from a modern, civilized world, Tenzin found peace. He was content to live and exist as a respected member of a society both ancient and new.

The world changed in rhythm, yet always remained the same.

The earth would provide and nurture but, in turn, he too had to do the same.

Hideout

“How long do we have to stay here?”

It was a question they all had asked themselves, at one point or another. Kimasa was the first to voice the thought aloud, her soft words breaching the unnatural hush that had fallen over the group. A few of the young, nestled close to the wall, whimpered. Janau eyed the huddle of children, quiet despite the other girl’s question hanging in the air. No one dared breathed a response, eyes bloodshot and skin clammy.

The dark-skinned girl frowned as she wiped her sweaty palms across the torn, dirty knees of her jeans. Janau sat upright, listening to the soft, whispering sound of movement outside of their cramped hideyhole. The others stilled, almost as if fearing their very movements would alert the outsiders of their presence.

Janau closed her eyes, exhaling slowly.

“Come out, little children,” a soft, sibilant voice hissed. The silky words seemed to slip through the cracks in the wall, to drift upon them like mist seeping through rotting wood. There was a moment of silence, and then a voice: “We smell you, little things. The salt of your skin, the tang of your fear. Come out, little children, for we will find you.”

The adults pressed their hands over the children’s mouths, their long, dark faces blanched as white as the moon outside. Janau ran her hands through her curly hand, fingers catching on the black knots. She curled into her knees, thighs pressed tight against her middle as she sent a silent prayer to the heavens. Prayed for mercy, for a quick end, for a savior to rescue them, for a painless death. She prayed, even though, deep within, she knew no one was coming.

So she hunkered low, fingers grazing the muddy floor as the door across the room began to rattle in its frame. The young and old tried to scramble away in silence, but their labored breath and broken sobs were startlingly loud. Her fingers closed around the neck of a glass bottle, the broken fragments biting at her fingers as she plucked the bottle off the ground.

She hunched, crouched, as the ancient wood of the door splintered.

The metal hinges bent, protesting against their abuse.

When the door broke, the others screamed and cried. Janau stayed quiet, tucked into a corner as one of the others scattered. She heard clothing tear, saw the red substance of life splatter across the mud-slick floor.

She breathed, slowly, as panic bloomed across the room.

When she felt a shadow fall over her, saw the scaly hand reaching for her…

Janau reacted. She swung, hard. Broken glass bit into black-and-red flesh. Most shattered on impact with the scales but some found purchase within the soft skin between the scales, drawing rivulets of silver blood. The creature reared back with a screamed.

She swung, hard. Broken glass bit into black-and-red flesh. Most shattered on impact with the scales but some found purchase within the soft skin between the rough, crescent-shaped plates. Rivulets of silver blood flew, splattering both her and the surrounding area. The creature reared back with a scream.

Janau moved, diving past the creature and through the broken doorway. Behind her, it screamed in rage and pain. “Run, she-child! This one will hunt you. This one will consume you!”

She didn’t pause, didn’t stop. She raced up the steps, tore through the old hallways, and shot outside. In the distance, Janau could hear the others screaming. The children’s panicked cries filled the air even as she felt a presence closing in on her. Tears filled her eyes as she crossed the field, vision blurring as her hair billowed behind her like a black, wave. The monster howled and hissed, voice echoing loud in the darkness.

She reached the forest. Within it, she found a glimmer of hope.

Behind her, the hideout burned.


Daily Prompt: Hideout

Shadowed Terror 

When the fire started, no one was prepared.

M’Khand was a quiet, woodland village. The villagers were content, a people of repetitive motions and dreams. They were, by nature, peaceful. Anael preferred the village to be as such, the tranquil wonders leaving his soul warm and swelling. M’Khand was home, an idyllic paradise separated from the rest of the empire.

“Ana!” The youth paused, turned with his load. The basket weighed heavily in his grip, the woven hemp worn and frayed underneath his palms. The group of children made their way to him, eyes large and shining. The girl leading the group paused, propped her hands on her hips and said, “Anael, where’s your sister? I haven’t been able to find her all day!”

Anael smiled. He adjusted his grip on the basket, his voice light as he said, “Bae should be around. The merchant’s in town today.”

“Is she feeling alright?” The girl asked. Anael frowned, knelt and set his load on the stone pathway. Brushing his hair out of his face, he said, “Yeah, she’s feeling better. The illness keeps her bedridden most days.”

The children shared a grin before running off. Anael watched them depart, blinking owlishly as they vanished. He returned to his errand, carrying the harvest-laden basket to the town square. He was setting it down when it happened; a long, deep cry of a horn followed by a tolling bell.

Crimson rolled across the sky like fallen stars, each leaving a trail of black and gray. Anael stared, eyes wide as one veered off course and came, howling, towards M’Kkand. The trees caught fire, leaving the once-green cover of the village a rolling, crackling sea of red. Then his sister’s face flashed through his mind, her restless sleep and terror-filled nights made all too clear.

“Bae,” Anael turned on his heels and ran, raced down the stairs leading into the surrounding village. Around him, the world began to burn. Like a ghost, the firestorm rolled over the once-peaceful town with a fury Anael had never seen before. Like a demon of rage and wrath, the fire surged and ate. “Bae!”

People were running, fleeing from their burning homes. Buildings burst, the wood encased in a twisting kaleidoscope of color. Screams rent the peace, and the people panicked. Anael raced through the streets, shouldered his way through throngs of scared bodies, with a name on his lips.

As he reached the heart of the town, where the temple rose high, he found only a charred husk-of-a-building. Once-white walls were blackened by fire, the doors in pieces on the ground and stained glass shattered. Standing before the building was a young girl, white dress whirling around her pale, thin body.

“Baelfire!” Anael shoved his way past a priest, knocked another down when he tried to grab him. One hand caught his forearm, hauling him backward as Bae slowly turned around. Anael’s eyes widened as he took in the black marks crawling across her body, watching as the damning marks spread. He screamed, thrashed in the priest’s grip. “Run, Bae! Get out of here! Run!”

Her eyes widened. From where he stood, he saw the tears welling up in her eyes. She took one step towards him and the priests. Anael lurched forward, straining against the cold hands holding him as he screamed, “Run!”

She fled. As her white-clad body vanished into the fire engulfing the church, Anael felt a flare of pain slash through him. He arched, body hitting the ground as red stained the back of his shirt. Above him, the priest shouted orders. Then he was grabbed by the hair, his head yanked back as the older man said, “She’s damned, Anael. Marked by Baguul. She will be found and she will be purified.”

Anael laughed. “You will never find her.”

When the blade tore through him, Anael smiled. As he slumped across the burning earth, he watched the temple burn with bright eyes. As night fell, the moon burned a deep, bloody crimson that seemingly reflected the still-burning town. The priests vanished, starlight robes glimmering in the forest as Anael struggled to breath.

The fire came, burning all laid before it. When morning came, M’Khand was nothing but ash and ruin. Already forgotten, a smoldering ruin in a forest ancient and cold. Anael felt a hand brush his hair off his face, felt light fingertips curl the ends of his hair behind his ear. His breathing slow, he felt lips on his forehead and then a heard a whisper.

“Find me, brother,” The pain faded, warmth eating at the chill that had begun to curl close around his tired, battered body. A forehead pressed against his, and, as his mind slipped into the darkness, he swore he heard his Bae whispered, “Find me, Ana, find me when the moon rises and night does not fall. Find me, for I will be waiting.”

Love and Obsession

Eros would never forget.

The pain, the humiliation, the fear: these were the small pieces of humanity buried deep within him. Even as he sat at his desk, head bent over the sketchpad he carried, he could not ignore the ache within his own soul. A brush twirled between his fingers, the thin body slick with violet and red paint. Lips pursed, he eyed his newest doodle.

It was a heart. 

Not the organ, but the image children were fed when they were nothing more than young, impressional minds. Violet and red, two sides of the same force. 

The two colors wrapped around one another, like two different sorts of fire at war on his paper. His classmates paid no mind to him as he rose and fetched the white paint, his eyes narrowing as he bled the multicolored, flaming heart with streaks of silver.

“Today’s assignment is to represent yourself,” his teacher said as she rose from her desk, plump hands slowly dancing through the air. When she passed him, Eros felt her still at his back. He knew she was eyeing the simple, yet complex, heart burning on a black backdrop. “Mr. Lockett, how does this represent you?”

Eros paused, gaze on the gray swirls that drifted off the image like tendrils of smoke. He set his brush down, pressed his palms flat on the table as he answered, “Each of us has layers, Mrs. Tullio. Some burn, others freeze. Few do both simultaneously.”

She was silent for a moment. Her hand was inches from his shoulder, and Eros was stiff. A small part of him wondered if she would go all the way, if she would set her hand on his taunt shoulder. She withdrew, settled her hand on the shoulder of a girl two seats down from him as she said, “Right you are, Mr. Lockett.”

No one else spoke. His gaze remained on his picture, his representation. It was a battle. It was a war, the battlefield caught between love and obsession. 

Beautiful but shimmering with darkness just the same. The heart was a fickle thing. It weighed on his mind as he packed his bags.

Eros paused to stare at his picture, his body still as a river of students flowed from the room. Should he take it with him or leave it behind, as the teacher instructed? His gaze shifted to the shelves on the wall behind the teacher’s desk, to all the pictures crammed within the limited space. He tucked his picture into his backpack when Mrs. Tullio had her back turned. He left the room with his gaze cast down, his arms pressed close to his body.

The hallways were crowded. People jostled him as he passed. As he neared the doors leading outside, he knew, in that moment, his day had only gotten worse. It was raining, the sky dark and unfriendly.

He stood in the doorway and looked out at the school grounds. Wet grass and the rivulets of water zigzagged across the hard, unforgiving earth. A harsh shove at his back had him hurtling through the doorway, and he landed, hard, on the drowning sidewalk outside the door. 

Behind him, laughter.

As he tried to stand, someone kicked him. His arm wrapped around his middle, protecting the ribs residing under his skin as his assailant laughed. Then there was a moment of silence before his attacker said, “Go on, Lockett. Up you go! You’re where you belong.

Eros rose to his feet, picked up his backpack. He stepped further into the rain, silent as his tormentors went quiet. He heard them muttering, “Deplorable, isn’t he?  What a bore.”

He trekked his way across the grounds, skin rapidly discoloring. He clutched his bag close to his chest and prayed his picture was safe. Once he was on the other side, he eased his way through the cafeteria door. He paused by the door, rummaged through his backpack.

With shaking hands, he pulled out the damp picture. The colors seemed to move and glow, to writhe and twist on the page like a living thing. He tugged his bag over his shoulder, made his way across the cafeteria. Eros carried many things with him, small shards of thought and logic and humanity. They were wedged deep within him, caught between the vivid purples and reds that were love and obsession.

He should have known, really. 

Drawing the truth made the dark, hidden corners of his being, of his soul, stand out. If he had known how the day would unfold, if he had fully grasped, had fully understood

The heart was a fickle thing, but fate was far crueler. He was Eros, violet and pink and purple and glowing with brimming passion. 

Yet the violets were tainted, harsh and burning red searing the cool torrents of his soul and leaving him aflame within. His Eros would always have its counterpart, have its Mania.

His love would always have an undercurrent of obsession.

Part of him knew it was wrong, long before his own father raised his hand to him.

He had sat through enough services in his youth to know love was bound by rules. Love was sacred, it was holy, and it had to be guarded. Eros wasn’t guarded, his soul too open to a touch of darkness and unholy longing. He knew this, but, against good conscience, he could not deny the flutter in his stomach, not when something crimson burned within his gaze.

His Mania. It was illogical, profane. Yet, as he moved closer, hunched into himself, his pulse quickened. His palms began to sweat, leaving him shuddering as he neared the group he had hoped to avoid. Mania was never in the cafeteria during the morning, his soul more inclined for the gym and its endless uses of self, physical torture.

“Party?” Eros glanced up through his bangs, once Mania’s words reached his ears. The older boy laughed, shoved one of his many friends in the shoulder with a wide grin. The others howled with laughter as Mania said, “Do you honestly think I have any interest in the childish get-togethers your sisters throw together? I ought to be insulted, but, as we are friends, that would be bad for your health.”

“Shove it, —“

Eros clutched his photo closer, feeling that, if Mania looked, he would see the burning beckon of sin writhing in his arms. He tucked his chin, turned his gaze on the floor. As he came closer, his father came to mind. 

Obsession, his father had once told him, was lust.

It was wrong to crave that which belonged to another. Mania was often in the arms of a woman, long nails stroking the side of his neck. On a rare occasion, the older student’s hand would travel south, vanishing between his partner’s thighs. No one ever saw them, no one but Eros.

He had watched as she would grind against his hand, lips caught between her teeth as she fought back whatever instinct was running through her veins.

He might be obsessed, he might be a victim of sinful lust, but at least he had the modesty of not displaying it so openly. Nor did he have the lack of self-control she had. It couldn’t be helped. Mania was popular. Adored. Eros could only watch from the sidelines, a ghost that simply watched.

Even in those moments, when he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, they never noticed him. No one did, unless he was in the way. It was best to be invisible, to be overlooked, than to drown in the filth polluting his soul.

He wrinkled his nose. He pushed the thoughts from his mind, content in the knowledge that the memories had no effect on him. A curse and a blessing.

Yet he could not lie to himself, not when he craved his obsession in a way that oft’ frightened him. This desire, this longing, for another manIt was wrong

Profane, he told himself. 

Pray, his mind would urge. 

He would pray. He would sin. He would move on. Another few months, he told himself. Another few months and he would be home for the summer. 

Yet he watched, hungry for the forforbiddeAs long as he did not act on the warmth blooming inside of him—

Whatever thought was crossing his mind was gone as the finicky nature of the world rose up and made itself known. Eros was passing the group, mind calm.

Mania was a few feet ahead of him, to the left. He was talking to a group of friends, seeing nothing but those he stood with. Eros was closing the distance between them, keeping at a safe distance.

Then, much like what had happened shortly after his class was let out, someone shoved him. A hard push to the back, the air rushing from his body in one fell swoop. Eros clutched his eyes shut, braced for an impact that would never happen. There was silence, a lack of pain, and the sensation of being seen.

Eros’s heart slammed to a complete halt as his eyes flew open. The ground, he could see it as clearly as he could see the arm strapped across his shoulders and the other wound tight around his waist. He could see the ground as surely as he could feel the hot, hard presence of another living being pressed against his back.

He was pulled backward, righted on his feet. When he swayed, the grip returned with a vengeance. It pulled him back, a hand wrapping around his wrist like he might fall into a dark, bottomless pit. Against his ear there was a sharp inhale and then a question.

“Lockett?” 

A firm hand turned him, slowly. Eros couldn’t see anything but darkness, the edges of his vision flashing. A hand brushed the hair from his face, someone took the prized photo he held. 

“For fuck’s sake, you’re about to pass out. Breathe, Lockett.”

When he didn’t imminently do as he was told, his chin was caught and his head forced to look up. Eros inhaled, sharp. His entire body locked, he tried to withdraw. Panic crawled at him from the inside, screamed at him to move away, but the other’s grip was relentless.

Then Eros could see, his violet-blue eyes clashing with the brown-red that was Mania. His backpack clattered to the floor, the contents spilling across the ground as his eyes widened in comprehension. Mania was looking at him. Seeing him. His mouth was dry, then.

“You’re okay,” Mania’s hands were on his shoulders, grounding him. “You’re fine.”

Eros laughed, but the sound was broken. “Alright?”

Mania frowned. The gripon his shoulders, it was tightening as Eros shook his head. The younger wanted to step back, but knew, somehow, the other would not let him. He could feel it in the way the other held him, see it in the clenched muscles in the arms of his obsession. Eros giggled.

This was the beginning of the enendthe light before darkness fell. Eros laughed, numb. His soul burned as the world began to bleed violet and red. 


Daily Prompt: Craft

To Be Or Not To Be…Overwhelmed?

There was something about the entire ordeal that did not sit well with me.

It was hard to say what, exactly, caused this feeling. As far as the day went, things were just lovely. A lukewarm day, a cloudy sky, and shadows everywhere. It was, in many ways, what some might call typical. For others, myself included, it was less so.

Had it not been for the new home I was forced to move into, this day might have gone a bit better. If this house was not several hundred years old, a place with false walls and hidden passageways, then, perhaps, I might have been okay with how things were turning out. But never say I’m an optimist, for seeing a silver lining in the most horrific situations was one thing I would never do. Not even if my life counted on it.

Perhaps that was a reason why I couldn’t quite shake scowl I knew was be marring my face. It was only natural. How many people could say they were standing in front of a ghost, their feet planted firm, and trying not to start yelling? Plenty of people in my old hometown thought I was crazy, and I’d rather not add the citizens of this place to it, too.

“You honestly think that you coming here, in my home, will make me leave?” The ghost was saying, at that moment. I tapped my fingers against my thigh, eyes narrowed as the ghost let out an echoing, amused laugh. Or, well, I think it was amused.

Hard to tell when they’re dead, considering their warped sense of humor.

When my response did not come as swift as this dead man would have liked, the entity before me continued, “I’ve been here longer than any member of your family’s been alive. So why, exactly, would I be so inclined to leave my home?”

“Because I said so?”

Wrong answer, that. Here’s a core truth: sharing a room with a ghost wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies. It never ends well. It might start out well enough, but, well, the dead tend to be very temperamental. Might have something to do with being demoted to a child’s “imaginary friend.” This ghost was no worse than the rest, but he had a long way to go before he made his way to the ‘best of them.’

This dead man’s pale face turned purple, transparent hands turning solid faster than I could blink. Temperamental, remember? This one, not only was he in a right fit, he was also far more powerful than I anticipated. An incorporeal manifestation shifting gears to a corporeal manifestation?

Shit, I was screwed. Royally fucked. As good as dead.

I stepped backward, hands coming up in a gesture of peace as I added, “Because, frankly, we both known I live here. Neither of us likes it, because, frankly, sharing a room with a dead man is wrong on so many levels.”

“Oh, now there’s something wrong with me?”

I really couldn’t come up with the right words, now could I? I swallowed, easing towards the door as I said, “No, no, no! Nothing’s wrong with you! Where did you hear that? I’ll be sure to deliver your complaints in a timely manner.”

After that, I’m not sure who screamed the loudest.

The ghost or me.


Daily Prompt: Overwhelming

Tenacious Tendencies

From the moment she came into the world with a scream on her lips, the king’s daughter was as stubborn as she was spoiled. Daughter like mother, Seeley mused as he made his way down the courtyard walkway. He had been young, in those days. Four and ten, barely a man. Yet, despite his youth, he knew the king’s daughter, not yet one, would grow to be as wild as the woman who bore her.

Little did he know how tireless, how unyielding, she would be.

As he turned into another hall, making for the stairs, he could still hear her as an infant screaming. Servants had rushed to her aide, lifting the wailing infant from her crib with soft whispers and gentle coos. Seeley also recalled how, when set back in the crib so another child could be tended to, the young princess would start screaming anew.

Such fits were not all that uncommon. Even as she aged, from toddling across the floors to running through the hallways with a hint of wild perfume on her skin, she always had a temper lurking under the surface. Her nose would scrunch up, hands balling into fists as her face flushed with embarrassment or rage. It brought a smile to his face, as he made his way deeper into the long, winding hallways towards the kennels.

As he stepped through the open archway, he saw her kneeling next to one of the hounds with a sharp grin on her face. The pup was on its back, hind legs kicking as she scratched its belly. Seeley slowed to a stop behind her, one hand on his hip as he stared down his nose at the woman-child he had been roped into protecting.

“Even now you find someone to torment,” he was grinning as she ‘eeped,’ stepped back quickly as she whipped about. Curly hair tumbled around her, a glistening pale blond close to silver, as she returned, “It is not torture if the animal isn’t being harmed, Seeley!”

“Oh?” Seeley walked a close circle around her, grinning as her hands, as expected, turned into shaking fists. He stopped behind her and plucked a stick from the tangles of her mane, grinning as she whirled about. She paused, staring at the incriminating evidence as he asked, “And does your Lord Father know you’ve taken in another stray?”

She flushed. Then she shook her head, lips pressed in a tight line.

“Will I ever make a princess out of you, Ilea?” She turned away, but he pressed on, “Why, I remember when you were a babe how you tortured me for days on end!”

She was back to facing him, a finger pressed against his nose. “How did I manage that?”

Six months old, she had been. He could still hear those screams, could still see his mother bouncing another sick, wailing child on her hip. The princess had been on the floor, playing with a toy, when the older child had begun to cry. He had moved without thought, bending down to pick that screaming, red-faced girl off the ground.

As she always had, she stopped screaming the moment she had someone’s attention. As he recited this memory, Ilea was staring him in the eye. Seeley grinned as he leaned in, till they were nose-to-nose, and said, “Why, after that moment, no one else was able to hold you. Not even your own Lord Father or Lady Mother. I got slapped into the royal nursery after that, and, from that moment, I’ve had to cart you out of trouble.”

Ilea crossed her arms over her chest, cheeks still red but the ire fading. He watched as her gaze flickered back to him, and then she was starting to smile. He returned the look, a fondness rising within. As he looped an arm around her shoulders, tugging her against his side, he said, “No matter how many tenacious tendencies you might have, Mi’Lady Ilea, we’re stuck with one another. A nightmare, truly.”

Ilea snorted. “If you could survive me as a child, then we’ll live with this.”

They were both smiling as they made their way towards the uppermost part of the castle, grinning despite the narrowed gaze of the king and queen hot on their tail. Tenacious tendencies aside, Seeley was content.

Resistance

A thousand screams flew upon the song of war.

Arrows hurtled through the sky, a thousand pinpoints of flaming red. They arched through the air, trails of smoke following their wake. Below, a thousand souls marched through the cold waters of some unnamed marsh. Men, women, the young and the old – they trudged forward, their bodies bruised and battered, with a hellish light in their eyes.

On the other side of the field, the earth was blanketed in a layer of disease. Black clouds rolled across the water, sparks of sickly green flashing within them. The once-green grass protruding from the water withered, turning to ash when the miasma rolled over it. Trees hunkered, long bodies bowing under the strain of sickness.

Still, the souls marched with eyes sunken and dark.

Cold, icy water lapped at their sides. Children waded, dark liquid up to their shoulders. In the silence, there was nothing but their relentless march. Ahead of them, disease. Behind them, in the shadows and across the lands, lurked something worse. It crept after them, yet stopped on the edge of the marsh. It appeared to be nothing more than a looming veil of mist, white and curling. An impossible wall, hundreds of feet tall.

A thousand souls lurked between light and dark, disease and nothingness. Mothers held their babies to their chest, their skirts tattered and shirts in ribbons. Fathers walked before them, swords and pitchforks in hand. The elderly spread out, keeping towards the edge with their old eyes staring dreamily into the nothingness.

In the white, a guttural roar echoed. The trudging souls stilled, movements locked in a moment of unified connectedness. They breathed as one, eyes wide and backs hunched. At the edge, an elder was torn from the group without a cry. Another was drawn under the water, and a thousand souls clustered together.

“We must keep going,” someone whispered, her voice carrying through the air. It passed between the worn bodies as a nearby man choked on a sob, his teeth biting into bleeding knuckles. “They’re playing with us. We must move. They are coming.”

The group began moving again, the elders remaining on the edge of the group. Too many of them, their bodies slow and heavy. One small child looked into his mother’s face, eyes sunken and dark. He looked a bit like a raccoon, some small part of his whispered as he whispered, “Where did Elder Ji go, mama? Where did Elder Hu go? Are they coming back?”

His question was answered the same way every child’s question was. In silence.

He rested his cheek against his mother’s shoulder, closed his eyes.

Behind them, the white drew closer. Ahead of them, the disease curled around them. The two sides clashed, light and dark blurring into gray. Countless souls dunked their heads, kept their gazes on the water lapping at their bodies as a wave of disease and white rolled over skin and blood and bone.

“Keep moving,” countless whispered.

Others jostled, elbows knocking. “Don’t look back. Keep moving.”

The children moved closer together, holding hands under the water. It was colder, now. The darkness was whirling around them, flashes of silver cutting through the disease. A thousand inhuman howls tore through the heavy silence, calling them back to the land.

A thousand souls marched onward, jaws clenched.

“Don’t go into the light,” someone whispered. Others hummed low in their throat, trying to block the screams from their minds. A young man hugged himself as he walked through the water, eyes wide and unseeing as he whispered, “Don’t look. Don’t think. Don’t speak. Keep moving. Don’t look. Don’t think. Don’t speak. Keep moving…”

One-by-one, they fell. The elderly first, then the men. The women and children were all that was left, only a hundred of a thousand. They kept their gazes down, huddled close as they walked. The children were in the middle, small bodies pressed shoulder-to-shoulder as they walked hand-in-hand.

They were tired. They were slow, their heads lolling side-to-side.

Around them, a mantra. “Don’t look. Don’t think. Don’t speak. Keep moving…”

The children pressed their lips into a thin line, refusing to repeat the words. They held their stony silence even after their mothers vanished, leaving them with infant children in their arms. They waded through the marsh, a thick veil of disease and nothingness rolling over them. In the distance, a sweet song beckoned.

Their gripped one another’s hands tightly, thought of the cold water on their limbs and the lost souls fallen. They thought of why they walked, frightened in the water that was as black as the disease curling around them. They kept together, holding tight.

Then, towards the middle, the youngest began to sing a song without words. Just clear notes, starting low and ominous and oppressive. Then another added to it, a note higher. A flicker of hope. One-by-one, the children joined the first. Darkness surrounded them, but, just as it was with their song, there was hope. It was buried, beaten and bloody and cold and wet, but it, too, marched through the water. They were few, these children, but they would do what the adults could not.

They would resist the false promises of both light and darkness, seek the gray between. They would walk the water until it was gone, and they would press onward even after. There were a dozen souls, but they were young and they could see. The world was dark, but in the distance was a glowing sphere of violet and red and blue and green. A multi-colored sun, beckoning them out of the marsh into the vibrant searing warmth of life.

A thousand arrows rained upon them, the marsh set aflame. They tucked their chins to their chests, covered their noses with damp sleeves. The water sloshed as some unseen creature cut through the waves, sharp scales brushing against their sides. Ghostly figures lurked on the edge of their vision, reaching for them. The children did not answer.

They were resistance and the future, and they would not be felled by the unknown.


Daily Prompt: Resist