Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Novice Conquers the Rhythm...

Thorn leaned over the study desk, eyes squinched in concentration, tapping the words out against the wood with the sides of his thumbs. The air smelled of musty parchment and his tutor's spicy perfume. From the enclosed carrels around him came similar tapping, quietly furious. Exams were coming.

Leaning over his shoulder, Abby was a petite furnace with long dark hair that tickled his cheek.

"A novice revenges the rhythm?" he guessed.

"Close," she murmured, her voice gray velvet in his ear. He felt her hair move against his face. Then she was reaching past him, to indicate a group of scratches on the scroll. "Try this bit again."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Eliza on the Line (fragment/part 2)

Edgar pressed 1. The connection clicked, clicked again. Edgar's heart pounded into the silence.

A woman spoke, sleepy and very much human. "Japeth Rosswhiler, you philandering son of a bitch. I'm not your 3 AM--"

Edgar didn't wait. "Hello? Who is this?"

The woman's voice sharpened. "Who is this?"

"Where is my daughter?"

A silence. "Mister, I don't know who you think you're calling, but it's ass o'clock in the--"

"Is this Eliza?"

She hesitated. "It is."

Now it was his turn to be confused. The woman wasn't hostile or threatening. She sounded like . . . just a woman.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Eliza on the Line (fragment/part 1)

At the end of the day, Edgar Horton was just trying to run a business. Sure, it was a bit of a sketchy business, and maybe he didn't quite dot all the Ts and cross his Is, but he was making bank, and wasn't that the American dream?


To pick up, or let it ring? It was probably downtown, and that was just going to piss him off even more. But it might be a customer. Times were tight and those signs didn't come free.

Damn it. He punched the Speaker button.

"Computer Repair Experts."

A woman's voice, distant and mechanical: "Hello. This is a recorded announ--"

His thumb jabbed at the button. But then his daughter's voice overrode the recorded announcement. "Daddy?"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Zoo and What Was Found There

This happened to a friend of mine. You probably didn't know him, a guy named Tree. Seven feet tall or so, lived on protein shakes and Red Bull, used to be in the Marines? He hasn't been around for a while, but you'd remember him.

The last time I saw him, we were at the gym. We were working in on the bench, and between his sets he's telling me about Afghanistan, the time he shot some hajji between the eyes because he thinks he's going for a gun and it's just a chocolate bar the guy wants to share. I don't know what to say, but Tree just laughs about it.

Like I said, you'd remember him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dinner At Clingman's Dome

It was dusk by the time they reached Clingman's Dome, and Camille was covered in sweat. With her short legs and waddling gait, she wasn't much of an outdoorswoman, but she was game, and Henckel loved her for it.

"This is amazing," she said, and Henckel had to agree. The sun blazed red between the mountains. Red sky at night, Henckel thought. They were alone in the observatory, the way he'd hoped. He had a few delights in mind for himself.

Lately, she'd been putting on a little weight. It wasn't her fault; they were middle aged and they loved their Haagen Daaz, and he was never going to be confused with a telephone pole himself. But as she'd gotten heavier, that little up-turned nose had started looking less cute and more snoutish. As she'd gotten older, the bristles on her chin had started going unplucked. Her eyes had started to sink into her head, gotten smaller. Her hair had thinned, revealing the spotted pink skin  beneath.

Henckel reached into the pack he was carrying, handed over the water. She chugged greedily. Piggishly, he thought.

Henckel loved a good wild boar roast, but Camille had been a vegetarian ever since he met her. He'd always accommodated her; love made you do that. Twenty-three years had gone by, the way they do. Henckel never forgot the taste.

"Where's dinner?" Camille asked. She'd watched him pack it away, back at the campsite.

He'd emptied the pack before they'd left. No sense carrying extra weight. He reached back into the bag. Pulled out an apple, and the knife.

Camille squealed like a pig when he stuck her.

But she was game, and Henckel loved her for it.


This one came out of a reddit thread about the chef who cooked his wife. I am not a well person.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Clockwork Vengeance

A Clockwork Vengeance

In the corner of Cornelius Drudge's room, the massive clock counts away the hours of the night, its brass gears meshing smoothly, each chuck of the escapement another miracle.

The fixer has carefully folded up the frayed sleeves of his tweed jacket and tipped back his ancient bowler. His wrinkled hands bathe one another, a fly set to dine on a battlefield corpse.

By the half-empty green glass bottle on the table before him, he has been drinking. By the blown veins in his eyes and his nose and his hoary cheeks, he has been drinking for quite some time.

Across the narrow table, overflowing the apartment's other battered wooden chair, sits  Maximilian, with his eye patch and his hangdog lower lip. In his impassivity Maximilian might have been painted by an Old Master, Still Life with Muscle and Scar.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Run to Traitor's Gate

The Cut was stalking Yavi from stall to stall through the Rain Market, so close it might as well have been stitched to his shadow. The Cut was more than just irritating. It would be his death if he wasn't careful.

Once, the Cut had been Simon from Beggar's Gate, Simon who shacked so close to Yavi's family that they could have wiped each others' asses without raising their arms. But that was then. Now,  Simon was a nameless soulless gods-be-damned Cut, with nary a flicker of recognition in his eyes for Yavi the dirtlow he'd once been brothers with.

Yavi slid down an alley where the shadows were darker. The Cut followed. He turned into the crowd around Cripple's Gate before doubling back along his path. The Cut stayed with. Damn it to the thirteenth hell.

Nacker had told him to meet up at Traitor's Gate at the gloaming. Show up late and you were on the other side, and once Nacker and his crew had their hands on the pishlak, well, you wouldn't want that. But Yavi couldn't show up with a Cut on his tail. Not if he didn't want a good sharp stoning for his troubles.

In the center of the Rain Market, in the press of the dirtlow, Yavi wheeled on the Cut, looked up. Way up. "Oy. Cutty."

The Cut--not Simon, never again Simon--looked down at him, its moon-face almost aglow against the sooty overhang of the upper tiers. Impassive beneath the mask of stitches that held it together.

"I ain't eaten in three days. I'm hungry enough to fry my own asshole in butter. If I could afford butter. Or a knife. Which I can't. So step off, eh?"

He was only half lying. The knife tucked into the small of his back was as sharp as a dragon's tooth. But his insides had been so long empty that the gutaches and headaches and dizzy were old friends.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Victory's Lament, or, a Comedy of Terror

The trell hiked up her skirt and lowered herself onto the privy seat. Constant licked his lips, leaning over the black basin on his table, the better to watch the image on the water within. Better than I'd hoped for. The image was beyond good. It was perfection. He could see every hair in the downy white fur leading up the trell's lean, muscular thighs. And the faintest suggestion of the heaven between.

Beneath his robes, Constant was granite. But he would not touch himself. With his wife in her laboratory down the hall, that would be suicide.

But he was so very uncomfortable.

Well. Maybe just a little.