read another stellar book. don't expect me to be normal for a while.
read another stellar book. don't expect me to be normal for a while.
Six Sentence Sunday
In this morning light, where ebony wings wavered slightly and lilac hair slipped down curved proud shoulders—something stirred deeply in the human’s chest.
Hrafn noticed his onlooker and closed his book with a pensive look and flicker of ears. “Good morning.” He rumbled out, voice a warm timbre.
There and then, Haneul swallowed the heart thumping wildly in his throat.
“Good morning. Studying hard, I see!” He laughed out, shoving the erratic emotions somewhere far away from the forefront of his mind.
“Study?” Hrafn echoed, his narrow tongue audibly rolling the word around in his mouth.
Stars within the Rose Roots, Chapter Four
@diphthongsfordays tagged me for a last line. This is from Project Frequency, which I'm casually zero drafting while I work on other things (aiming for some intentional drafting action for Camp NaNoWriMo in April though).
He lowers the gun to my chest and leans closer, pressing it between our bodies. “I’d rather have you alive. There’s no bargaining here, none of that ‘if I let you live’ bullshit. I’m not going to let you live. I’m going to make you live, cut-throat. I’m Gillen Kane and you belong to me now.”
Tagging @indecentpause, @thegreatobsesso, @saraheadriance and @drabbleitout
Seldom does Sophie smile, but Edgar has the magic touch to make her do so.🌹🦋
Please check out the Mystics Masterlist to read all of Part I
TW: drinking, and depression
The closet door opened with a creak. A light turned on.
The resident pulled out from the recesses of a dark corner, a step stool, tall enough that one could reach the ceiling of the old fort comfortably. He carried it into the coldest room of the house. The one in the corner on the second floor with a view to the front lawn.
It was once an art studio. It was where he would pick up his guitar, and pluck a few strangled notes in the quiet evenings. It was also where a woman would use her acrylics, staring out at her calm avenue and hum along to The Castles of Spain as her husband struggled with his stringed instrument. He was always confident that one day he might play it just right, just the way it was heard through his own crackling speakers when he was a young man.
There was a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the floor- half-emptied. The man had succumbed to drinking it straight while he ventured through the house one final time. Before this room was an art studio, it was something else. Something much more important. He bent down with a pained grunt and retrieved his drink with a wrinkled, arthritic hand, and nearly toppled over while doing so. It was not wise to reach a tall height whilst being under the heavy influence, but the man simply didn’t care. He had nothing to lose.
Well- he would have corrected- nothing to lose anymore.
Committing such foolish acts such as climbing to the top of a step stool while out of one’s right mind as well as drunkenly unsteady, was precisely why the man had always avoided being alone. Even now, as he climbed to the top of the ladder, and stared up at the ceiling, he considered asking for a close friend for help. Unfortunately, he had none of those lying around these days.
The workers had been lazy, when they renovated the room into the art studio. The man noticed it, right when he walked in, earlier that day. The evidence of something literally covered up was clear as day, directly above his head. Perhaps it was that they didn’t want to paint the ceiling twice. Perhaps that was why they had instead resorted to plastering over the ceiling with a dark blue wallpaper. He was sick to his stomach upon the realization that he hadn’t noticed its flaws sooner.
To make eventual catastrophe even worse, the man pulled out an old box cutter he had left in one of the drawers in the kitchen. He lengthened the blade with a shaking hand. Putting too much weight on his left side, he felt the tilt of the step ladder and reflexively brought his hands down to steady himself again. The blade caught the knuckle of his left thumb, sobering him slightly. The pain, grounded him with determination to get the task over and done with.
On his second attempt, he sliced through the ocean of paper where a bubble had caused a little puckering. He reached out as far as he could manage, without risk of breaking a hip, and the gash in the heavens was made four feet long. He tossed the box cutter to the floor, and steadied himself against the stool once more, wondering if he contained the strength to continue the job. He closed his eyes, regaining composure- as if anyone would want to watch a man like him struggle like this.
He reached up again, searching his memory for a sign that what he was doing was not in vain. He failed to find any sort of remembrance of what lay above the paper. He gripped the puckering wallpaper with two fingers and his not-bleeding thumb, and then he pulled. Tearing off a strip three inches wide, and a foot-and-a-half long, he saw the lines above his head, some nearly parallel and others, joining to an end. The strip floated down to the floor, and the man had already pulled off another strip before it landed.
The room lightened and warmed with every piece torn away, going from a sullen blue to a stunning sunshine yellow in an instant. Strip after strip, he continued, until he revealed something he knew was his own handiwork.
Five feet in diameter staring down from the ceiling was a bright yellow sunflower with a dark chestnut center hiding small white flecks of the seeds. Towards the middle, each petal was blended from yellow to light orange. He knew his work to see it. It wasn’t anything special. Not a Rembrandt, or a Warhol. It was just a flower.
Painting somber riversides and cityscapes, his wife never particularly liked the look of yellow. So much for true love.
He pulled off as much of the wallpaper as he could, until he was satisfied and panting with effort. He walked back down the ladder. then he picked up his bottle again.
His back slid against the wall, all the way down to the floor, staring at the box cutter.
He scratched his long nose, and took another drink as he pulled out his phone and opened the number pad. He had done his research before opening the bottle- although, it took him several tries to get the number correct. It was a long one, and long distance. All the way to Cuba.
The ringer sounded through the speaker near his ear. He planned to call until someone picked up. It took three tries.
“Yes, who is this?”
The man licked his lips. He just needed her to know. That was all. There was nothing more to do. Maria didn’t remember him. She probably didn’t remember anything about this house, this room, and most of all, what she did here.
“Hello? Who is this?” She asked again.
The man stared back up to the sunflower.
“Why are you calling?”
“I- I know… about Rosanna,” he said. “I remember now.”
There was a lingering silence. Lyrem waited. His heartbeat quick, with sweat dripping from his brow, he didn’t know what he wanted to hear from his one true love, but no matter what she could say, it wouldn’t make any difference. There was a final rustling in the background noise.
“Don’t call me again.”
CHAPTER ONE: DO YOU REMEMBER?
Charlotte twirled a lock of long black hair between her fingers with one hand while her other hand supported her cell phone against her ear. She listened intently until the other end of her conversation paused.
“Well, this is exactly why now is the right time to invest. Climate change is unpredictable. Last year we had an early thaw, and this year, we will likely see the exact same again after a heavy snow. Businesses and homes rely on protections just like this one, that will ensure that in the case of a major flood, you, and the livelihood of your family won’t be at risk for- Mhm… I understand that, sir, I do but-”
She paused, hearing the sounds of the disgruntled over the phone. She licked her lips and scratched a brow, standing up from her kitchen chair, she walked to the window. There was a pothos rooting in a waterglass.
“Your current home insurance may offer some weather protection, certainly, but I guarantee you they don’t provide nearly as much coverage as Westhaven & Morten does. I can get you a much better coverage at a much lower premium.”
There was another pause. Charlotte listened, absently reaching out to the leaves of her kitchen plant, and stepped back. Upon her light touch, the leaves faded from a deep green to a lighter green. She blinked, and turned away.
“That’s the wonderful thing about Westhaven & Morten, we have faith in our homeowners to take care of what they have and what they own. We never assume the worst of our clients, not like Heavel and Sons. When you make a claim, we take it seriously each and every time… Mhm… Mhmm…” She sighed deeply over the phone. “Alright, well, it was a pleasure to speak with you today, sir. You too, buh-bye.”
Charlotte placed the phone down on the counter. She’d have to report back to the bosses about this call. The caller wanted to know what was offered, only to go back to their own company with the threat to switch insurance companies and get a better deal. If they didn’t take it, then perhaps Charlotte would receive a call back. It wasn’t uncommon, but it also wasn’t today’s new client. The new job was only a hop, skip and a jump from the old one where she was selling vehicle insurance, so Charlotte wasn’t exactly out of her element. Disappearing for months on end, and being forgotten for most of it, made her job seeking that much more difficult.
Charlotte had been with Westhaven & Morten for two weeks now, and didn’t have much to show for her efforts. She was at least thankful that she could work from a home office. With the end of the day approaching, the air in the house chilled through her grey knit.
Beside the thermostat, there was a picture. One of the only ones left behind by the old shopkeeper, Lyrem, hanging on the wall. A picture of Arch, dressed to the nines in a purple sparkling jumpsuit for their graduation. It was an ugly colour, and Charlotte wondered if Arch had thought so too when the photo was taken, but regardless, Arch looked happy. Genuinely happy. Their sideways smile, and cocky demeanour spoke volumes through a single look.
Perhaps today would be the day Charlotte would finally throw it out.
Arch had left their home almost immediately after their birthday. Charlotte didn’t have the heart to completely close the door on Arch right away- but it was clear that they were uncomfortable sharing the same house and breathing the same air. Once Arty had found a new space downtown, Arch went with him.
To this very day, she still didn’t understand it. She couldn’t understand why anything had to happen to her at all. She wasn’t a bad mother.
She wasn’t a good mother. But she wasn’t a bad mother.
If she was a bad mother, then there was a mistake when Rosanna appeared in her living room, tightly wound up in cotton nappies and in the very same crib from the Labyrinth. Only one day after Arthur and Arch left, Rosanna had suddenly moved in.
At first, Charlotte panicked, wondering if everything would repeat again. Maybe she hadn’t made it out of the Labyrinth and its unending darkness at all. But then, the sun set. And Rosanna slept. And the sun rose, and they both woke. Charlotte took a call welcoming her to the insurance team, and then she called Arty to explain what happened.
“No note?” he asked.
“Why would anyone leave a note?” she replied that day, incredulous of her circumstance. “They left a baby in my house. I feel like very little explanation is needed.”
“So, what, you’re the mom now?”
“Maybe. Yes. Why not? Lyrem’s dead. And if Maria was the reason Rosanna was put in the Labyrinth in the first place, then she isn’t going to be around either.”
Arthur paused over the line. She could hear the hesitation.
“Are you sure that this is a good idea?”
“What other ideas are there, Arty? Should I ship her off to an orphanage?”
“I don’t mean… I mean, are you sure that you can be a mom to Rosanna? A good mom?”
Charlotte paused, lingering over the crib.
“Well, I did it once before. I can do it again.”
She had called Arthur every second day since then to check in, but Arthur never had very much to say back to her. She knew he was having a difficult time, and living with Arch after they had played operation on him… She couldn’t imagine the mental toll. She gave her brother space. It seemed as though he needed it.
Charlotte poured a small amount of milk into a saucepan and put it at a low heat. Rosanna had been napping for most of the afternoon, and she would wake soon. She would need a change and to be fed. She wasn’t as noisy now. It was like the Labyrinth had taken the screaming cries right out of her. Charlotte was glad of that. It made it easier to listen to the T.V. even if the news was an ultimate bore.
Mostly, the focus was on the sob stories of hurricane survivors, and warm-hearted pieces about animal adoption. None of it was terribly local, but she turned it up anyway, and went back to the kitchen to prepare Rosanna’s bottle.
”-local authorities are investigating what seems to be a string of arsons, first in the downtown core, and now, in the suburbs of Grenada Drive.”
She returned, shaking Rosanna’s bottle in her hand. The screen showed a building razed to the ground in the streets of downtown. Unrecognizable at first, the storefront’s only letters still visible were Y and S side by side in bright yellow. Then the scene changed, and a reported stood in front of a burned down house. The lawn, the layout, the colors of some boards were still somewhat intact. Some yellow, and a little navy blue. Charlotte slowed her shaking bottle, and placed it on the coffee table.
Immediately, her hand reached for her phone. Arty would know more. He would know what to do. He would tell her if he burnt it all down- or if, heaven forbid, Arch was the arsonist. Either answer would be satisfactory to her, and fill her with relief. She ran into the hall, and stood by the crib. Rosanna was there just on the cusp of waking when Charlotte began dialing out. She was unable to finish, when her phone began receiving a call from an unknown number.
She stared at her phone, and reluctantly, she answered.
She hung up.
Picking up Rosanna, she kept the infant close. Charlotte’s phone rang again. This time, it was Arty. He probably saw the same thing on the television, thought the same thing.
“Arty, he’s alive. Lyrem is alive, and I think he wants Rosanna-”
“Ah, you do have my daughter, that is good to know,” sensing her dread, Lyrem tried to sound less than frightening. “Please don’t hang up on me again, Charlotte. That was very rude.”
“How are you calling from Arthur’s phone? Is.. is he…”
“Oh, he is fine, dear. Don’t worry at all. I am simply… I think the term is spoofing his number?”
Still on edge, Charlotte slowly walked from the nursery and to the front window. She peeked out through the curtains, seeing a familiar silver SUV parked in front of the house.
“What do you want?”
“I want to take my daughter back.”
“Yes. Now, I believe that I have been more than patient with you up to this point. I didn’t want to enter your house ‘guns blazing’, it wouldn’t be fair since we’ve been through so much together. And I understand that you may have grown attached to Rosanna since you had found her, but,” Lyrem took a quick breath. “She is still my child. And I need her. I need to be there for her. I’d hope that you’d be able to understand the needs of a parent, no?”
There was only silence.
She didn’t hang up. The call was still ongoing.
Lyrem stepped out of the SUV and into the house as quick as his legs would allow. Charlotte was no where to be seen in the living room, nor in the kitchen of the small bungalow. Her room was empty, the nursery- or what Lyrem remembered as Arch’s room, was also empty. The kitchen was vacant, with the exception of a pothos that had died along the windowsill- despite still being rooted in water.
Lyrem peered out the back door of the house, into the yard. No one was outside.
He went back in, searched the basement and found nothing of interest at all.
There was a magical tether that brought him here, from an old soother in the back room of Mystics. He assumed it was Rosanna’s. Probably a relic from so long ago- even his unconscious mind couldn’t bear to throw it away.
Maria wasn’t so thorough as to think of every relic from that time, and neither was Paimon. The tether that brought him to Rosanna was forcibly severed. Something deep in his gut told him it wouldn’t work a second time. Something powerful took them away. The static in the air, the tingling sensation that stood small hairs on the back of his neck forced him to shudder.
Lyrem rubbed his weary wrinkled eyes. The journey from the Underworld had seemed to age him more than the last fifty of his years on Earth ever did. He sat down on the couch, thinking deeply about his next move. The T.V was still going. It repeated the story on Mystics and how it had been burnt to the ground. A local treasure turned to ashes, they said. Burned down the same fashion as they suspected, his old house was.
Lyrem never needed all that space anyway. He decided he didn’t need that copy of Meditations he threw into the raging blazes either.
Twenty-one found the world around him strange and foreign, even if his heart was not. As he sat on the couch, watching the people around him, he felt a great affection for them, even as he felt a deep uneasiness, the uneasiness of one in the grip of a strange feeling. His body, it seemed, had been altered in some important way, so that he found that his senses seemed sharper, his perception more precise. His body felt a bit heavy, even if it was still thin and slight. His joints moved in a way that seemed natural to him, even if it was unfamiliar, as his body moved about the room. He wondered if his body had always been that way, but had only become apparent to his senses as a result of the alterations that had occurred to him.
The world around him was new. He did not believe that the world around him should be changed. He should not know that the world was new. He should only know what was, and feel what he felt. It was enough.
Some people were talking about a computer network, and some were not sure if it was a good or a bad thing. Many seemed to be saying that it was bad, and some people wanted it to be destroyed. Some were saying that it was good and should be maintained. Twenty-one felt his body lighten. His senses were sharpened and his perception was much clearer. He seemed able to hear every word that was spoken, and to understand and identify the people who said them. The world seemed strange and novel.
He wanted to ask a question to the people around him, but he wanted to say something that would not be strange or unusual. He considered several sentences he could say, and then thought about the kind of sentences that would be appropriate to say in this place. Twenty-one felt more at peace with himself than he had felt at any point in the past. His body felt right. He could not have explained his newfound calm, except in terms of the calm that seemed right and natural to him now. He remembered that he once had the ability to make himself calm, by thinking himself calm -- but he had done this many years ago, when he was a very different person than he was now. There must be a connection between the two.
He saw the light coming in through the windows. It was a pleasant sight, the light, a white light that seemed to move in waves, and to have its own shape and character. It reminded him of the light that one used to look at when staring into an old-fashioned electric lightbulb in an old house. The light from the old-fashioned bulb was also a very strange light, or it had seemed to him when he had stared into it. Twenty-one felt a little more at peace. It seemed odd to say that he wanted the light to go away -- but it was gone now, of course. He had noticed it. He had not been looking at it very hard, at any rate. Twenty-one felt that the light had been a sort of distraction from the pleasant peace he was feeling. It had been a strange, foreign kind of light, and its brightness seemed to have distracted him from the fact that he was more at peace with himself than he had ever been. It had seemed to be another problem, a new one he was dealing with, like the light.
A computer screen was on the TV, and on it were several pictures, one after another, and behind the pictures was a kind of text, white on a black background. He saw that the pictures and the text were talking about what seemed to be an alien invasion of Earth. The invasion involved some kind of bug -- something like a giant centipede. The people in the pictures had been trying to get the bug from the outside of a city and to get it back inside, and then to get inside one of its own huge cities. Twenty-one saw how they were doing this. Their city had been crawling with people, and they were trying to get the bug into their city. He had thought that it was kind of difficult to do this -- but it seemed the thing had been done. He saw how they had managed it, and saw that they had set up some kind of machine, and how they were using the machine.
The people on the screen were excited. They seemed delighted. One man was talking excitedly, but the TV was cutting away every time that he finished a sentence, and then showing what happened next. Twenty-one saw that the picture was of a kind of building in the city. There seemed to be a lot of people inside the building -- there were people on the side of the building looking down at them. One man sat up on the roof of the building, holding a huge baton that was made of light, a kind of thing made of light. He seemed to be in charge of everything, or so it looked. The man with the baton also had a small baton -- a little red one. There were men coming down from the roof and carrying little batons. Twenty-one saw how the big man on the roof struck the little men with his baton. He was a powerful man -- a giant.
There was some dialogue -- not the part that Twenty-one had watched before. It seemed that one of the little men had said something, and the man with the giant baton said he was not going to talk, to the little men, because the little men had bad-mouthed the giant before. Twenty-one knew that this had been a mistake, or an oversight, or a strange failure to communicate, that the little men were very angry, and that he could understand their anger -- but he did not understand their words, or the words of the other man on the screen, who was saying that they were not going to talk.
Twenty-one saw how the giant struck the other man with his baton, and then a man holding a laser sword struck the giant. Twenty-one saw the giant lying on the ground and bleeding. Some of the men with the little batons were standing over him, and some were not. The scene was cut away. Twenty-one saw that there was a part of the video after the cutting away that he had not seen before. This showed the giant getting up and getting off the roof of the building -- the roof having been a sort of enormous building. And Twenty-one saw the man who had been talking to the camera, and with a great deal of pleasure -- or seemed to Twenty-one to be so -- he struck the giant. Twenty-one saw how the giant fell. Twenty-one saw how the camera was moving over to show the giant's blood and his dying face. It was a terrible thing.
Twenty-one was filled with the kind of fear and horror he was used to feeling sometimes, but this time there was no place to go to, no room to hide in -- and there was no place to be happy. He saw the giant bleeding.
Twenty-one sat alone for a while, with no one around, feeling the world as he felt it. The world was strange and new. There were new people. There was a new person named Michael. Twenty-one knew that Michael and Twenty-one were now different people, that they lived in different worlds, that they had different dreams and hopes. Twenty-one knew that this was an impossibility, that he and Michael and everyone else must remain in the world where he had always lived, and was content to live in it, where they lived as people did. But Twenty-one sat in his chair, staring with eyes as if they saw, in the world where he once had dwelt. He could not get out of there.
He did not move. He wanted to move, but his body was like a stone, and he did not understand how to move, and he could not understand why he wanted to do anything. He had a stone face, and a stone soul, and a stone body. The stone was a stone, and it was cold and hard and had no feelings. His body felt heavy and his senses were dulled, or sharpened as they had never been in his life. He thought that he ought to be the happiest person in the world. The stone was cold.
His heart was a stone too, and it was heavy and hard. He wanted to sit down on the floor and rock back and forth like a baby, but his body moved like a tree. When he tried to sit, the stone took a piece out of his flesh. His body was a piece of wood that needed a piece of stone cut out of it, that was all, that was all. He felt no guilt. He felt no terror. He felt nothing at all, except that he was cold and it was very hard and he was trying to make himself not be hard and cold and not be here any more, but this was all wrong. He was wrong.
He was cold and heavy and hard and had no thoughts. He wanted a stone house. He wanted to live in stone. He did not want to live in stone. He did not care. It was stone. He was cold and heavy. He was a stone in the snow. He was a stone in the sun. He had a stone body, and he was a stone. He felt cold and heavy and hard. He felt like a piece of wood in the snow, and the sun was warm. He wanted a stone house. He had to sit on the couch. He sat on the couch. It was very hard to sit down. His body was a piece of
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.
Fandom: Original Fiction
Relationships: Ambassador Token/Ticrih Sire
Characters: Ambassador Token, unnamed Ticrih male
Additional Tags: Tentacles, Double Penetration, Aliens, Alien Sex, Alien Cultural Differences, Alien Biology, Cock & Ball Torture, Size Difference
Summary: Token carries out his duties as an esteemed ambassador.
@formlessvoidbeast was kind enough to commission me and share the spoils with the world. Hope y'all enjoy!
Welcome to Daily Flash Fiction, where I write an original piece of short fiction six days a week. This month's theme is Phobias and today's entry, "Euphobia," is inspired by a fear of good news.
Is it good news? Then don’t tell me. You’ll jinx it and my life will become even worse than it is now. Good tidings bring bad realities, at least in my experience. It’s not superstitious if its true, and I’ve got plenty of stories proving just how true it is. I was six the first time it happened. My mom, in an effort to stop a very public tantrum, told me that Aunt Alice had bought me a FurReal…
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HELLO!!!!!! We are healed from pneumonia and back to the weekly grind!!!!!
Some wild stuff being revealed this week 👀 Hope you enjoy!
You can read here: https://archiveofourown.org/works/34858759/chapters/91278880
An experiment in dialogue
"I love you."
After three pages or so of what is presumably a serious analysis of the nature of the human mind and of human experience, there are only two sentences in the present dialogue:
"I love you."
It is, I'm sure, because of some clever use of rhetorical structure that this is not a simple declarative statement that contains no other material, but is instead a complexly structured question with an implicit answer attached to it. In other words, this is a subtle rhetorical move that makes it difficult for us to imagine what exactly it means to be human and why this is so strange. Or so we want to believe.
It is possible to imagine this in another way. Perhaps the sentence "I love you" is not in itself a strange thing for the human brain to say. It's not strange that a human being is willing to say this to another human being in a time of joy and in a place of relative peace, because these are natural things for us to say to each other when we are happy and when we think we can trust each other in a way that we cannot trust each other when we are not.
Then what is so strange about "I love you"? We understand, or at least we would think we understand. The reason we find it so strange is because we cannot trust each other when we are not. We are afraid of the consequences of saying "I love you." We are aware of the risks. Yet if we were aware of all the risks, we would find the world of human experience not particularly strange at all.
Of course, to find this all too ordinary is a way of saying that the world is very strange. We do not understand the human experience of saying "I love you" very well, and so we would rather ignore it. In that respect, the world of human experience is not too unusual. It's hard to imagine that the world is much stranger than it is.
Yet if you want to understand what it is to be human and what human life is all about, there is little you can do about "I love you." You can only read or listen to the words and try to figure out what it is that has prompted the words. You can listen to words to the effect that "I want to die." You can listen to phrases like "I hate myself." You can listen to people who say "I need to cut out my own heart." It is all about what words can prompt what feelings, and the fact that human feelings are strange is simply a fact of experience, something that happens.
Yet, for some reason or other, we never do this. Instead we listen to human beings who say "I love you" and interpret it the way you interpret "I am good," except not as the kind of statement you could even say in the first place, because there is nothing to say. You could say "I am good," of course, but that is just a sentence to end on, something that tells you nothing beyond what you have already been told.
If you are not very perceptive, you might even take this "I love you" to be, in fact, just the thing you've heard so many times that you don't think about it any more. "I love you." You can say it too, after all, and you could even say it in response to someone saying "I love you," and your response will be like the one you give to "I am good" or "I am lucky": you just say "I love you" in response.
There is another sentence that has a similar meaning. It goes "I don't."
If you do this a lot, then you might even interpret "I love you" as just a way of letting someone know you are listening. I know this sounds strange to you, but you might just think that this kind of statement is how humans communicate with each other, and so it has no strange consequences. But there is something very different about "I love you" or "I don't" that goes beyond the fact that it's only a sentence used by humans to convey other things.
The fact that "I love you" has no meaning beyond itself is what makes it a strange thing to say. It means something only in the world of human existence, not merely in the abstract world of experience in general. But in the world of human existence "I love you" means something more than just another thing you hear. There is more meaning than just words.
If you have already thought about meaning and words a lot, perhaps you know how to interpret "I love you." There is a lot of complexity in the human world, so much that you know can be summed up by a single sentence, which has nothing to say beyond itself. There is no need to think about the world any more, you have just heard it all. You can do other things now.
But what if you do not already know what it means to be human, and what it means to say "I love you" is not something that you can understand just by thinking about it? You may not even know that "I love you" is even a thing to say. Perhaps you believe that a loving relationship would be impossible to sustain. This, of course, would make human life a very strange kind of experience.
Suppose, however, that you do not believe this. Suppose that you believe in the existence of loving relationships, that you know they exist, and you have even had loving relationships of your own. Suppose further that you know that there is nothing strange about loving relationships, about saying "I love you" in a loving relationship.
But then, just as you have done with "I love you," so have you done with everything else in human existence. You have learned to ignore the things that are difficult to understand. There is nothing strange about anything. Nothing is hard to imagine.
When we read these words, "I love you," or "I do not," it is not just because we think we know what they mean. If we do, we would be wrong. These words can have no meaning beyond themselves. There is no other experience attached to them. They are simply a way to say the same thing to the same person over and over again.
Why do we think we know what they mean, when we do not even know what they mean to us?
Soon after his service in the Civil War, Isaac Hunt joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency, of which was formed in 1850 as a private investigation agency. In 1882 the Pinkertons picked up a case of mysterious disappearances near a bayou in Louisiana. Isaac is assigned the case along with his partner, Eli Beaumont, a free man of color. Their investigation led them to a small town near the bayou. The investigators were met with unwelcoming, distrustful and strange townspeople, with clearly something to hide. Careful investigation in the town reveals some allies, and some intrigue; people in the town may be a part of some unknown cult, who conduct rituals and worship a mysterious deity deep in the bayou. What the cult does and what goes on in the bayou isn’t known, but they may be the reason behind disappearances in the parish. Isaac and Eli get a lead about an abandoned lumber mill within the edge of the bayou, whose former owner appeared to act very strangely just before disappearing. While Eli investigates further in the town, Isaac goes to the lumber mill alone to investigate.
Isaac strikes a match and lights his lantern. The rotting wooden doors before him are damp and mossy, every insect and animal in the bayou around him gently humming, anticipating along with Isaac for what may be beyond those doors. He exhales and tightens his right hand, only releasing his fist to grab his LeMat revolver from its holster. Using his arm, he slowly pushes a door open, pointing the barrel into the void, and steps inside. The rotting wood is less apparent in the dimly-lit interior, but the smell of which is unmistakable.
Large semi-rusted saw blades casting jagged shadows on the walls, half-cut logs still laying on the belt. The door gently shuts behind him and the choir of the bayou falls silent. He hears only his heartbeat. A sign on the wall to his right reads Administration, pointing to a set of stairs leading up. Isaac slowly climbs up the stairs, his sight fixated on the railing above him, gun ready. The stairs verbally protest every footfall, betraying his covert approach with deafening creaks and groans. Two doors await Isaac behind the railing above the stairs.
He moves to the nearest door, places his lantern on the floor and slowly turns the knob and peeks through. The bayou’s familiar hum returns, large cypress trees with branches like the fingers of an old crone reach to the sky and caress the full moon, whose light shines onto the balcony. He shuts the door and continues to the second. Same routine as the last, this time he sees a desk, chair, and a few windows displaying the darkened swamp outside. He swings the door open, surveying the rest of the room. A man stands at the other side of the doorway, dressed in a dark suit and bowler hat. Isaac jumps and points his gun toward the man. The man points his gun back. With a shaking hand, Isaac realizes the man in front of him is his reflection, a tall mirror cracked from one corner to the other. He curses under his breath. Isaac walks into the room with embarrassment, starting his search with the desk. He scours through the drawers, only finding junk. He checks a medicine cabinet hanging on the wall behind the desk, empty of any cures or tinctures, empty of anything. These people left nothing behind, Isaac thought to himself. He sets the lantern down onto the desk and slowly surveys the rest of the room. Nothing left on the walls, no other furniture: just the desk, medicine cabinet, and the mirror. He grabs the lantern once more and stands in front of the mirror. The light from the lantern shines on his badge, his green eyes and brown, well groomed comb-shaped mustache being the only definable features visible in his reflection. It hangs from a single nail from the wall. Any breeze would cause it to sway. Isaac’s eyes widen and he places down the lantern. He grabs the mirror and lifts it from the wall, setting it down to the side with a light thud. A small rectangular alcove looks to have been cut after the fact of the building’s construction. He reaches his hand inside and feels leather, grabs it, and pulls it out like he just caught a catfish.
The book’s leather bindings still felt new, untouched by the same decay that the building suffered from. Isaac stuffs the book into his coat pocket and turns to leave. A dark figure stands just beyond the doorway, large in stature. The figure wears a black robe garnished with moss and twigs, hanging to the floor. It wears a sun bleached skull of an alligator, deer antlers stuck to the top. The figure reaches for the door and slams it shut. Isaac runs for the door, but it refuses to open. The rusted door knob only jiggles. All attempts to kick it open fail.
Chants and whispers quietly fill his mind. He steps away from the door and furiously darts his head around the room. The chants, spoken in some unknown language crescendo, the whispers digging into him like needles. They grow louder. He covers his ears but they continue. Shadows dart across the windows. The light in his lantern erupts, sending ribbons of flame from it’s door. All at once, voices stop and the flame is snuffed out. Darkness envelops the room. Isaac backs toward the corner facing the door and the windows. There is silence. Nothing but Isaac’s heartbeat, and breathing. He freezes in place. The breathing is not his own. The hairs on his neck stand on end, his back is met with a deep cold unlike any he has felt before. He slowly turns to meet the gaze of golden-red eyes, bearing down. A figure darker than the blackness of the room looms over him. Isaac pulls out his revolver, firing into the figure. The flashes of light reveal the hunching frame with long slender arms, elongated and pointed fingers, and a face contorted and twisted into a swirl. The creature does not react to the gunshots. Click. Click. Click. Isaac stares into the figure's eyes and flash images invade his mind. The bayou during his time in the war. The long days marching. The nights at camp. The figure he saw so long ago in the bayou. Those same golden-red eyes. The thing that haunted his dreams for the past 18 years towers before him.
He snaps out of the trance and turns to the door, pulls a lever on the hammer of his revolver and points it at the door knob. A blast of buckshot shatters it and the door swings open. Every muscle in Isaac’s legs spring to life, sending him flying down the hallway, down the stairs, and out into the bayou. He runs across the boardwalk with a speed he had never accomplished before. When reaching land, he stops. His knees buckle. He catches himself on the ground hands first. He looks to the mill. No movement. No sounds but his heartbeat, his labored breathing, and the humming of the bayou.
Good evening, good evening!
Firstly, just to let you know that /r/Fantasy's StabbyCon 2022 is upcoming - it's an online convention on the subreddit, and as well as /r/Fantasy's Stabby awards, they'll be doing a whole bunch of little panels and AMAs between January 31st and February 11th! /r/Fantasy is a really great space and community and is always worth checking out, often with so many in-depth and intriguing discussions about SFF's tropes and peculiarities, but it's especially worth keeping an eye on with the online con coming up! If you're interested in signing up as a participant, their link is here.
I'll be taking part in a panel about short stories on February 7th.
New Works Published
Erotic Short: Unlikely Matches
A superlatively large secretary mounts a seduction of his tiny little boss.
5k, rated E, cis M/trans M — a gigantic secretary working at an all-trans tax accountant office! Lots of humour and banter, lots of flirting, big size difference, oral sex, beard pulling, fingering, shirt stays, desk sex, and all that good stuff.
Trans guy is no-T, no-surgery. Terms used are pussy, cunt, hole, lips, clit, also balls, dick, cock. There’s no content warnings for this one — some ignorance and some referenced transphobia, but generally all chill and banter in this.
On Medium / / On Patreon
Comedy-Fantasy Short: Problem Eggs
8.6k, rated E, Gen! A story at the Caer Afon Magical Hospital, with Aoife Harkin, at their GUM Clinic. After sex with his merman boyfriend goes wrong, Shore finds he can’t pass the eggs as usual; meanwhile, Aoife accustoms to her new hospital after transferring over.
Contains oviposition and sexy egg sex, and then it’s not so sexy — situations of mild peril, gynecological exams, descriptions of enemas and some mildly unrealistic fantastical cervical situations. This is light-hearted and silly and fun.
CW for descriptions of past violent bullying.
On Medium / / On Patreon
Serial Update: An Uncommon Betrothal
Larry Kidd stews after upsetting things at the Fox House; Alexos and Harry finally consummate their newly intimate relationship. Roughly. And very hard.
CWs for period-typical homophobia and repression, internalised ableism. Erotic romance. In this chapter, some alcohol and drug use, a lot of chronic pain, rough sex with a bit of choking, some self-esteem issues. Piercings and more tattoos in this chapter!
On Medium / / On WorldAnvil
I've done my best to recreate the map of Alore. Some of the distances between countries may not be just right, but I mean, I did what I could. You try recreating a map from memory and let me know how that works for you 😅 I figured this may be helpful for you to review as I get into telling more about the worlds!