Duck parts on the other side of a private property fence.
Duck parts on the other side of a private property fence.
The Timeout Garden is absolutely what she names her statue collection and, yes, most of them do look terrified; why do you ask?
stop opening twitter stop opening twitter stop opening twitter stop stop stop
Old bird bones found partially buried in the nature trail on our property. Photographed then left behind for nature to continue to consume.
I’m not gonna be able to see this one for much longer.
Found a broken bird skull among the rocks
two juvenile feral pigeons, one mummified nestling and one fresh older nestling fortunately headless. I took the wings and feet of the headless one, and the skull of the younger one to attempt to clean up.
Chapter 4: Is it foolish of me to want to hope?
(AO3) (First) (Previous) (Next)
Word Count: 4285
The Lady is aware of the loops. She’s aware that there are actions she can take to avoid the ending they always end up with. She knows that there are paths she can drag them to, if she’d just follow through with her choices. The Lady knows this. But there’s very little she can do as a child that prevents them from going down the same path they always go down.
She ends up dropping him again, reason falling down with him as the loop continues as it always does. Very little changes in this loop, after all, even with her holding a puzzle that’s a good deal complete. It’s still not the whole picture, and maybe that’s the reason why she drops him each time.
(A boy in a blue sweater shoved her away from a nome, protecting the small creature as her ravenous appetite made her attack anything that breathed. Somehow, he managed to force her attention to the previously offered sausage. A part of her was repulsed by it - she wanted something that was alive, not already dead - but another part of her was desperate for the meat. Not out of hunger, no, but for a completely human reason. She clung to it as she sobbed, tearing into the sausage as the pains went away slowly. The Hunger was still there, but it was nothing more than a background throb she could manage. Her Shadow had looked at her, head tilted curiously before disappearing. Meanwhile, the boy kept his distance, wary of her actions before he gathered up the nomes and left her be.
The lingering feeling of relief felt odd to her, but she’d learned not to question the things she felt. She put the feeling aside for later, until she’s ready to piece it apart.)
The television is here, as it always is. As the Lady, she must maintain her appearance as the most beautiful and elegant creature on the Maw. Each decision and move she makes must be confident. She must never falter, lest they take it as a sign of weakness.
And the Lady is never weak.
Never weak until this very moment, she supposes. Hesitance was never something she personally encountered often. She can count on one hand the times she’s hesitated in her life, and here she is, adding another count to her fingers. There’s no good reason for her hesitance either. Why does she falter from pressing her hand against the glass? What is it that makes her feel such… trepidation?
(Why was it that she felt fear in having to face him again? She's an adult - there's nothing left for her to fear. Not even her own death.
So what was it about the Thin Man that made her hesitate like so?)
The television doesn't wait for her command, however. It flickers on by itself, static filling up the screen as it slowly tunes itself over and over until... yes. A familiar silhouette sits in a chair on the screen. Still, she does not press her hand on the warming glass.
Moments pass without either of them uttering a word. The Lady remains where she stands, stock still as her mask covers her emotions. On the screen the Thin Man sits patiently, not even fidgeting a bit as he waits for her to say something. Another stretch of silence passes before the Thin Man's words begin to appear on the screen.
"So," he begins, "did you eat a child this time?"
A bark of surprised laughter escapes her. "What do you mean?"
"I meant what I said." She can almost sense the smile on his face as he continues. "I just wanted to know if you ate a child this time."
"And if I said no?" She doesn't recall eating a child. True, she's transformed a good amount into nomes to work her ship, powering it with coal and scrambling around to do whatever it is they do. And yes, she does use children as a source of meat for her Guests, but she's never really eaten a child.
(The boy in the blue sweater had looked back at her, their eyes meeting for a moment as she tore desperately into that sausage. There was something familiar about his eyes, something about them that reminded her of-
Maybe that’s why she started crying. He wasn’t looking at her with malice that day, though she should have deserved some ounce of it. No, though his bangs had covered his eyes, she could still clearly see the quiet emotion he held for her before turning away and running with the nomes.
"I would be pleasantly surprised." The Thin Man sounds genuine, but many things about him tend to be genuine, she's found. He hasn't really changed so much from when he was a child. Her chest clenches as she remembers the boy she dropped to his doom. An instinct (a routine, a pattern, a senseless habit she continues to this day) that had her releasing her last friend to his fate.
(Why do they always fall from cliffs? She wishes they'd stop doing that.)
"Why are you here?" She rubs the fabric of her kimono between her fingers, trying to keep her hand occupied. "Why are you being so... calm?"
Be mad, she begs in her mind, it's easier to justify my actions when you're mad.
"Because." A pause. The silence lingers as he seems to consider his words. "I think I've grown tired of being upset and mad."
"And so now you're here, on this screen, simply to bother me?"
"Would you rather I leave?"
"No." She answers far too quickly and scowls to herself. "I mean- you're free to leave as you please. I won't stop you."
"Hm." Oh, how she wishes she could slap the smugness out from his words. "As tempting as that offer is, I believe I will stay for now. It's not like I have anywhere else to go."
"Are you truly confined to just one space?"
"Aren't you?" His question gives her pause. "Despite the Maw moving from place to place, you're still stuck on the same ship filled with the same rooms with the only change being your Guests. I would say you're just as trapped as I am." He waits for a retort, but she finds herself unable to give one. When the silence lingers for too long, his words continue as though he never paused to begin with. "I'd say you have it worse than me. At least I know I'm trapped in place until something forces my hand. But you're living under the illusion of being free, believing your prison to be an ever changing force you can control."
This is becoming too much. Memories of past Thin Men trickle into her mind, where his cocky words slowly dripped with venom and malice and rage as they screeched at each other. Times where blame was tossed around as easily as a child's life, resulting in loops and loops of broken televisions and her quarters being void of any devices. When did the television make its way back into her quarters? When did they start getting along again?
It shouldn't have been so far into the past, but she finds it hard to grasp the particular moment in which they were willing to be civil again. If only those memories would trickle in instead of the more... painful ones. She holds a hand to her head, a headache forcing its way to her temple.
His words sound too much like the ones that used to be filled with so much venom. With a groan, she quickly tries to recover and shoots back a response she hopes sounds playful.
"At least I have all the food I could want here."
"Yes, having any food is a perk I suppose."
"What?" she questions, lowering her hand from her head. Having any food? "Are you saying you don't eat?"
"I mean," he shrugs on screen, "it's not like I have to."
"But are you at least... offered it? In your little living space." It strikes her as odd that his own chambers would lack any amenities. Shouldn't their respective realms be molded to suit their needs? The Maw had granted her a library inherited from the previous (first? Second? Third?) Lady, with rooms changed to suit her preferences, and portraits to showcase her likeness as opposed to the previous proprietor. Surely the Tower would do the same for the Thin Man.
(A room that housed her was filled to the brim with toys she liked. They floated around her, enticing her, giving her reason to stay and play, rather than try to escape. It was safe there - that's what the room wanted her to see. The music box played such a lovely tune too.
It was enough that it made her forget her broken and healing bones. It was enough that it made her forget her twisted limbs and aching, curved back. The room had everything she'd ever dreamed of.
"...No?" The Thin Man fidgets a bit in his seat. "I was never offered food here. At most, it offered me a new change of clothes as I grew older but. Nothing else."
"...No food?" Her thoughts slow to a stop at the revelation. That can't be right. That doesn't sound right. "How odd. Surely, it would make sure you were fed to keep you alive for this long."
"In a sense." He fidgets some more, his head angled away from the screen between them. "I mean, it's not like I needed food once I started... living here, for lack of a better term."
"What did you survive off of?"
"My depression?" His shoulders shake a bit while she hums in disapproval. "I'm kidding. Cigarettes." A growl comes from her throat as he frantically waves his hands in the air. "Okay okay! I fed off the life forces of the Viewers, I suppose. What powers the Tower powers me as well. Or at least, that's how it feels."
So something similar to the Lady, she supposes. Still, eating food isn't something she is willing to give up despite her powers. She hungers every day with pangs that wane or strengthen depending on how often she feeds. It distresses her that the Thin Man hasn't even been given the basic right to eat like a person.
(But perhaps he's lost the right to be a person, after he assumed his role as the Thin Man. A monster doesn't need to eat. So where does that put her?
A monster, still.
But one parading as a human.
The most terrifying kind of monster.)
"Come here," she says, gesturing towards herself with a hand wave. "Come here, and I will feed you a meal."
"Do they call you the Thin Man because you starve yourself willingly?" She's glad the mask she wears hides her sneer, but judging by how the Thin Man hunches his shoulders up, he can still tell what kind of face she makes. "I am the Lady of the Maw. It is my duty to feed those who come aboard my ship."
"I am not aboard your ship," he reminds her gently. "I am a figure on a screen."
"You are starving."
"I am not. I feed off of the-"
"Yes, I know." She barely skims over the rest of his words as she continues to gesture emphatically. "But that's not the same as eating. Now that I think about it, I'm surprised you managed to kidnap me when I was a child. How do you have any strength to chase down and grab nimble little children?"
For a moment, the Thin Man merely sits in his chair, refusing to answer. She taps at the screen, now growing more concerned for the physical state of his being.
"I don't." She can almost hear his hushed, sheepish tone through those two words. "I don't have any strength. Now that I'm in this state, I understand better the methods my prior self used to terrorize us. Do you remember when he kidnapped you, and how he didn't make too much of an effort to physically grab you?"
She nods, speechless as she recalls those traumatic moments with clarity.
"He used his power to pull you into his grasp. It wasn’t a show of strength - rather, it was because he had no strength. I already feel so feeble as I am now. Imagine how he must have felt. I bet the reason he disappeared immediately after was to return to the Tower before you could break his fingers apart to escape."
"And when he chased me down, all he would do was walk forward and teleport closer." Another pause. "Six," his words begin, "I don't think I have it in me to do anything more than a slow walk. Any faster, and I'm sure to be winded. I’m sure that standing up too quickly will have me passing out onto the floor."
"Oh, Mono." She places both her hands on the screen, pressing against it desperately as if to try and grab him herself. "You need to come here right now and eat."
"I don't think eating is going to solve my physical weakness."
"But it's a start!" She thumps against the screen as her worry reaches levels she thought she'd never experience again. "Come here for a meal, you absolutely malnourished man!"
"I cannot. I'm literally locked behind a door. At most, I can reach through with just my arms, but I don't think I can just waltz out so easily."
"Then take some food with you!"
"I can only take children and Viewers."
"Then take me!" She very nearly shakes the television in frustration. "Oh- but first, let me grab some food for you to eat-"
"Six, please." He lifts his arms up and gestures placatingly. "You hate it here."
"But I hate knowing that you've been left to starve for years." Which is the result of her letting him go. The guilt gnaws at her - it’s one thing to know that she'd left him to rot and suffer alone, but she never imagined just how extreme it was. "Please, it's the one thing I have to offer."
The only thing she has to offer.
"It's alright, Six." She hates how comforting he can make his words. As if she deserves his comfort. "I don't need food."
"I don't care." She grips the television tightly as memories of their youth come trickling forth. They'd shared food together once. Whatever scraps they came across, they would eat together. He always gave her the larger half despite being the bigger of the two. It was always just like him to do. Even now, when she has a bounty of food to share, he still turns it down with the same old excuse.
He doesn't need it.
"Then let me see your arms."
"Show me your arms." She crosses her own and glares at the screen. "Let me see the true state of your being."
"I'm a monster, it doesn't matter."
"It matters to me, a fellow monster." The screen flickers at her words. "Let me see you."
The sound of static fills the air as his words no longer appear. There's a moment where she believes he will simply turn off the screen and leave her filled with rage, but shock colors her as the screen distorts with two large hands pressed against it. It's oddly familiar how his hands push through the screen as though it were nothing more than plastic, arms dangling and unmoving as she approaches him. Gently, she grabs his arm and pushes the suit sleeve up. His skin is horribly pale - she could compare him to a ghost, but the thought of him being dead frightens her. Instead, she compares the width of his arm to hers and... he's terribly thin.
Of course, he IS the Thin Man but still. She thought herself petite and thin as is, but he is barely skin and bones. Practically just bones, really. She gives his arm a squeeze, horrified to find that she can easily encircle his wrist between her thumb and pointer finger. More than encircle even. When she squeezes, she half expects there to be no bone at all and is relieved to find some sort of physical resistance to her grip. Isn't he supposed to be the bigger of the two? How had he even managed to keep a firm grip on her as a child?
This man needs a full course meal. And then three different types of dessert. Her mind races with all the things she could feed him - something easily digestible, a soup perhaps? No, a stew. With fish, of course, he seems the type to be wary of meat and justifiably so. Ah, but if she tells him of the source, then perhaps he would be willing to eat some meat. He could have a part of her share even. Oh, and he probably needs other nutrients too, not just protein. There's probably some vegetables to spare. A bit of fruit if they're lucky. She wouldn't mind parting with the luxury items of the Maw if it meant ensuring that the Thin Man was simply thin and not emaciated.
A slight tug from her hands has her startle out of her thoughts. She looks down and finds the Thin Man's arms retreating back into the screen, and a brief flash of fear has her grabbing his arms. There's a struggle as she hangs onto his arms to try and tug them out of the screen, while the Thin Man struggles to pull them back inside. No, she can't let him go just yet. Not when she's so close to having him here to stay.
"Wait," she begs, "don't go yet. I want to try. At least let me try, please?"
His arms freeze in place, before falling limp and hanging over the television's edge. She gives them a gentle squeeze, unnerved by how she swears she can feel every edge and curve of his bone even through the layers of clothing he wears. There must be something she can do, something to ease her mind, even if it's just for a little bit.
(She never liked it when he willingly starved himself for her sake.)
"Promise me you'll wait for me here." He's a sneaky one, this Thin Man. If she turns her back on him, there's a chance he'll slither his way back to his domain and never return. She needs to guarantee that he won't leave her so soon. Of course, the other doesn't respond. His words don't appear on the screen, and for some reason, he chooses to remain silent. Perhaps it's the screen getting in the way, or maybe he's lost his voice. Whatever it may be, words fail to make certain that he won't run away from her.
It's childish, really, the solution she comes up with. But she thinks it fits him, knowing that he was more of the sentimental type between the two of them. She holds her pinky out in front of him, curled slightly to make a hook.
"Pinky promise me."
They say actions speak louder than words.
The Thin Man's arm raises before it jolts and hesitates. She can see him considering and reconsidering, wondering if it's all worth the hassle. But he's the sentimental type, the kind that finds value in little, childish vows like this.
(He once presented her with a pinky promise. "Promise we'll stay friends forever?" Her finger hooked with his as she smiled and kept their vow tied closely around their pinkies.
He hooks his pinky with hers, giving it a firm shake to reassure her that he'll keep his promise. Slowly, she lets go of his finger and backs away from the television. His arms remain hanging in place as he waits for her obediently. With a firm nod, she turns away quickly and rushes off to find him some food. Ideally, she'd like for him to take back a bowl of soup. The Chefs must have made a fresh stew by now, but the contents are skeptical at best, and she remembers her own misadventures in the kitchen, creating havoc and tossing in random items she found lying around as the Chefs were none-the-wiser.
So maybe not.
A sandwich maybe? Ah, but that ran the risk of it being made with a mystery meat. The idea of the Thin Man accidentally eating child meat disgusts her, and the hurt he will feel from the deception may make him want to never reach out to her again, so that idea is rejected as well.
Maybe something with fish? It's a safe bet. There are no mystery ingredients, no ways that the food could be tampered with by wayward children trying to escape her ship.
She has to be quick; keeping a guest waiting for their meal is never a good sign of a caring host. The Lady makes herself a plate of pan-seared fish, the Chefs babbling between themselves as she intrudes in their kitchen. They make themselves scarce as she glares at them from behind her mask, shadows working for her as she makes a simple dish of fish and greens.
When she returns, shadows falling away like a graceful shawl shrugged off, the Thin Man's arms are still hanging in place, waiting like promised. She smiles behind her mask and presents the plate of food proudly.
"Here, take this." She presses the plate into his hands and watches as they curl around it carefully. "Don't worry about returning the plate - I have plenty already."
Again, the Thin Man hesitates. She nods to the plate and gestures to the screen. Take it inside, she wordlessly says, and eat your fill. He brings it to the screen to pull the food in. The plate clanks against the glass and goes no further. Frowning, she steps closer and tries pushing the plate in.
A growl of frustration escapes her. Of course. Nothing nice can ever happen. Still, she tries to force the plate in with greater force, ignoring how it slides against the glass and threatens to spill the food. A large hand takes her own, gently cupping it as he pulls it off the plate. She's startled into a stop and allows him to place the plate down in front of the television.
It's still warm.
He could eat it and feel warm. He could eat it and feel full. He could eat it and tell her that her cooking is wonderful, or good, or even just alright. She just wants him to eat. She wants him to enjoy something for once, after she took away his chance at happiness by letting him go.
(Countlessly. Endlessly. Over and over and over again, the loops continue with no end in sight as they run the same track over and over and over and over and over and over-)
Hands cup her face, rubbing under the eye holes as if to wipe away any tears. She's not crying. She hasn't cried since she was a child. Monsters don't deserve the right to cry. And yet, here he is, comforting her as if she were. Monster to monster. She holds onto his hands, so large and thin and nothing like she remembers as a child, and threads their fingers together.
"I'm sorry," she says, because there's nothing else to say.
He doesn't answer back with words, only actions. A gentle squeeze, a soft brush. Even as an adult he's so tender towards her. It's more than she deserves. What will it take to make him happy again? He pulls a hand away, only to present his hooked pinky to her.
She tilts her head (pressing it closer to the hand that remains on her face) and hums with a barely there confusion. A promise? But for what? Still, she humors him, hooking their pinkies together for whatever promise he may have. Whatever he wants, she will give it to him.
It's what she owes him, after all these years.
He pulls his hands back into the screen, the loss of warmth already making her cold. She doesn't try to grab him and force him to stay, however. It's not within her rights to do so, to beg for him to linger outside just a bit longer. The screen stabilizes as his figure returns to being the center of the screen, ever so distant.
"What was that promise for?" she begins, not waiting for him to begin their conversation. The familiar font pops up on the bottom of the screen, and she traces the letters as he speaks.
"I promised that one day, we'd share a meal together."
A laugh escapes her as she presses two fingers on the word "together". Oh, how nice that would be. "That’s quite the fantasy to have."
"Yes," he agrees, "but a fantasy I wouldn't mind chasing."
She hums, not wanting him to know how much she feels her hope clinging to that promise.
"So now you truly owe me a meal."
"Of course, but you can't complain about my cooking."
"Well that's hardly fair - what if it's terrible?"
"Then you smile and swallow and tell me that it's lovely."
"You're the worst."
Even though she can't hear him, she knows he’s laughing with her as she presses her hand against the screen.
The loop ends with the cold rain's drizzle and the taste of stagnant air as a hopeful promise lingers just a little bit too long in silence.
found him on my way home from the park
Found this tiny nest while me and my cat were reading outside.
I don’t know who it would have belonged to sadly
favourite selfies are in our awful mirror
tryna bust thru my art block with some over-flattering self portraiture
Harris Hawk skeleton, all done and ready for articulation 🖤 the only part missing is a single belly rib easily replaceable. he will be articulated with his bells and jesses 😊
red grouse skull and all its parts! 🖤
Goose again! (Left where found.)
gonna have pigeons along with chickens on my farm 🕊🥰🐓 and maybe some ducks?? 🥺🦆
@ivakir asked: Is there any significance behind their height? QUESTIONS ABOUT CREATING YOUR OCS | accepting
not too much besides the fact that i was kinda tired of everyone always having tall ocs, lol. as i’ve developed her (and developed her planet more), i’ve settled on her height being relatively average for her people, in order the enable them to better ride their giant birds. still not totally realistic, since birds like that will never exist due to wingloading issues, but more believable.
It’s been almost half a yeaaarrrr, but our man Saith the Undying and Cariad the birb are BACK, y’all! A short blurb but well worth kickstarting myself into writing this again.
This is a series, Masterlist Here
TWs: this is all about an abuse survivor escaping his abuser, for whom he still has complex feelings. Female whumper, male whumpee. Abuse mentioned, captivity mentioned, gore mentioned, death mentioned, masochism alluded to.
Saith was trying to walk through the snow heaped between and under the thick trees of the forest, but it was more like wading. He rocked from side to side with each step trying to keep his balance. Normally, deep snow was bad enough to traverse with his scarred and braced knee, but just now he could feel places in his body that were only barely whole again.
It was more than a little frightening, to know just how broken he had been, and now he was up and walking. Saith could feel bones still fusing, a strange deep flicker or tingle in his limbs as he abused them. He forced himself to keep going at a punishing pace, and soon he was panting, overwarm despite the falling drifts of snow. But he had to keep going.
Saith had been held captive in that tower by his own love. Imogen. He desperately wanted to see her again, wanted to go back and say it had been a mistake to leave, and of course he still loved her. But that was precisely why he had to run now. She had loved him, and by her magic she had imprisoned him, and he kept loving her. That was wrong. Surely that was wrong. Was some part of him broken? She had betrayed him, and yet he still wanted her. He thought about her ways with him. She had taught him, slowly, to desire and enjoy pain at her hands. Or was that something that had always been within him? Some kind of dark aspect of his soul she just unearthed? He desired her like he wanted nothing else- except freedom.
So now he was running for his life, hurrying away with what he could carry and his newfound familiar. Cariad’s hawk wings flapped back and forth overhead across his path. She flew before him to try to scout out clear ways he could take, and he followed after her. They were going upward, into the foothills that preceded mountains, and the forest only got denser and darker as they climbed.
-Saith,- said Cariad’s thoughts in his mind. -Saith you must rest soon! You are not fully healed!-
-I know,- he told her, -but I can’t stop. We need distance behind us before nightfall.- At least speaking with her mind to mind, through their bond, meant he saved his breath for hiking onward.
Her mind touched his, sensing, feeling the pains shooting through his legs, the stitch in his side, the hammering of his heart working hard to move him and heal him at the same time. -Saith,- she said again, pleading.
-Alright,- Saith relented. -I’ll stop here by this oak, and have some water and a moment to breathe. Are you tired at all?- He sat himself down on a benchlike oak branch that dipped to the ground and upward again, dusting the snow from it and letting it take his weight off his legs. He groaned. Not since he’d left the army had he marched so hard, and now he was doing it on one disabled leg.
-Both of your legs were actually broken only three hours ago,- added Cariad, as she picked up on his thread of thinking. -You cannot ask this much of yourself.-
-Oh, but I can demand it, though. Now- We can’t use fire, or it’ll be visible for miles, even through this forest. So that means we can’t travel by night unless the sky’s clear and the moon is bright enough, right?-
Cariad flapped down from a higher perch to huddle on his shoulder, running her hooked beak through his tousled brown hair as if she would preen him. -Not necessarily. I have seen through your eyes in the night, and you see very well in darkness. Most humans would find this wood, under all this snow, on such a dark day, to be too dim to avoid hazards. But you don’t seem to mind that, do you? You can read small print by starlight, Saith.-
He pulled the bottle of water he’d brought out of his magical bag at his belt, and drank, considering the implications. “This forest doesn’t seem that dark to me…” he said aloud, the sound of his voice deadened by the snow. “But you’re right. I thought maybe I was fooling myself, my mind playing tricks in that tower, but I do see far better in the dark, ever since- since Imogen did this.”
-Made you immortal?-
-It just sounds so ridiculous. Immortality. It’s not possible,” he replied.
-Yet here you are, having walked off that tower top,- said Cariad. -You died, Saith. But, it seems, not entirely. Your soul did not depart. It just… hovered.-
Saith took another drink of water, thirstier than he’d realized. -…You saw my soul?-
-I am a magical creature,- she said, fluffing indignantly. -I can see things like that, if I wish. And your soul left your body. It hung over you like a mist over a lake. And then it returned. Your heart was stopped for a while, Saith. I felt it.- She nuzzled her little head against his. -I was afraid for you.-
He reached up to brush his fingertips over her feathers, offering comfort. “I won’t make a habit of dying on you, alright? I promise. We’ll find someplace to go and live without her.”
-Good. I should like that,- said Cariad firmly.
Saith pushed himself up to standing, wincing as his legs took his weight. Nothing to be done for them but to keep moving, and hope that would at least keep them from stiffening in the cold. He closed his water bottle and tucked it into the bag at his belt. -Let’s go. I can manage another few hours at least,- he told Cariad.
Far off, a clear sound rose in the snowy gloom, echoed by another of the same. A long mournful call. Ice shot up Saith’s backbone at the sound. “Oh, holy gods… Wolves!”
To be continued
@burtlederp @this-zombie-will-eat-you @inpainandsuffering @newandfiguringitout @deanofwhumpuniversity @jo-castle @uselessthingie @broken-horn