The Rose Queen of Crime

Due to joking about the wildly talented Rebecca Rose’s handsome husband dressing in a Harley Quinn esque uniform, and her playing the Joker, I have this stuck in my head.  (Work in progress)

 

She strolled into the bank to the sound of organ music, no one sure where the sound came from.  A purple dinner jacket flapped like a cloak, matching slacks perfectly tailored, falling to just above a pair of shiny black and white spats. Her face drew the most attention, half in a painted smile, white foundation under lips the color of roses left in the stands on valentines day, the dark blooms passed over by all for brighter, happier shades.  The other half of her face was bare of pigment, yet the eye that pierced out from natural colored flesh bore all the testament needed by the left side of her face.  One glance into that orb of marble and jade left one disassembled and put back together in a heart beat, the unbearable feeling that with a glance she knew all of you. The clown eye shone in joy and extravaganza. The other glinted with madness.

Hair spilled from under her broad fedora, golden strands stained verdigris, like a statue of brass that had just begin to age in the rain. All eyes drew to her, and the figure behind her slipped in unnoticed, a feat considering the bright white and red uniform he wore, and the cartwheels he turned in place of walking.  As he worked his way around the outside of the lobby, bells jangling, she walked to the middle of the room.

 

“GOOD MORNING TO ALL!”  Her voice rang to every corner, and she paused a minute, arms outstretched, basking in the glow of several dozen eyeballs glued to her every movement.  “This, is an art installation.  I call it, Trickle Up Theory.  And you lucky people are audience, artist, and patron, all in one!  Isn’t that great folks?”

Security started to move towards her.  Some of the crowd stared in apprehension, but quite a few whipped out phones and started filming. A couple of the bored customers, standing in line for the next teller, clapped in delight, taking her words at face value.

” I am, as I am sure most of you know, the renowned performance artist and creative genius known far and wide as The Joker, The Rose Queen of Crime! And we shall start today’s entertainment by filling my hat.”  Bowing, she took her hat off and pressed it to the white pinstriped shirt under her jacket. Tossing it to the ground, it landed a few feet away and wavered for a moment, as if untucking itself, and grew nearly a foot larger across.  “Wallets, jewelry, watches, no digital watches, real watches.  No phones, keep your phones, I’m not heartless!”

 

***

Across the room, one of the tellers reached for the hidden button under his desk.  As his hand darted out, a blur of motion intersected it, and pain erupted from his hand as it slammed into his knee.  “Now now, none of that Freddy!”

 

The teller looked up at the source of the voice.  Thick eyebrows and a goatee that screamed Evil Twin framed a loose smile and eyes that seemed kind and caring, yet still filled him with terror. They peeked out over a nose that pointed like a hunting dog sighting it’s master’s prey, and wriggled like a cat about to pounce on it’s own.  A white and red uniform plastered itself to the man, diamonds down the legs matching a marching Sargent’s hat that perched at an obscenely loose angle, as if ready to fall at any moment. The uniform was piped in a bright green that matched the hair of the woman in the lobby.  Against his shoulder lay the head of a croquet mallet.  The shaft was painted a barber pole of red and blue, leading to a handle that was cradled lovingly in the jester’s hand. The teller blinked, the absurdity and incongruity of the handle sticking out even among what was already absurdity, pushing surreal.

 

“Is that.. a lightsaber handle?”

 

The jester smiled, and swung the mallet up to show off the handle.  It was indeed a steel lighstaber, the blue and red appearing out of it as if a beam.  “I have a purple one as well, but I’m not allowed to use it in public.” He put a hand to his lips and mock whispered, “It says, ‘Bad Motherfucker’ on the side.”  He tapped the side of the mallet, where the teller could see words engraved in the painted wood.

 

Focusing, still confused and trying to make sense of the world, he read them aloud. “Croquet. A game for just one player.” He looked up at the jester in confusion.  The jester brought the handle up to his face, his nose and eyes peeking over the top like a living “Kilroy was here”.  “It’s a pun, my dear Mr…”  He glanced at the desk. “Greene.  Really? A banker named Greene.  How gauche. As I was saying, it’s a pun.  Sadly, while it’s quite clever, no one on THIS side of the invisible wall will get it. ”

Self preservation finally made it’s voice known in the gibbering clatter of the teller’s brain as realization dawned that the kind eyed jester was mad, stark, raving, barking mad.  He turned in his office chair, shoving himself back against the thin wall separating him from the next teller over. The motion caused pain to blossom fresh in his hand, and he glanced at it, a bright red mark already starting to purple. “You.. you hit me!”

 

The mallet swung, showing a bright yellow face on one of the striking surfaces, dark black Xs in place of eyes.  “Mr. Ouchy hit you.  Do anything stupid like go for that alarm again, and he’ll hit you again. And if you really piss me off…”  The mallet twisted a hundred and eighty degrees.  The opposite striking surface held a raised brown poo emoji.   “And Mr. Poop will half to talk to you.  Trust me, you don’t want to talk to Mr. Poop.  It’s a sure fire way to have a shitty day. ”

 

The jester stood suddenly.  “Ta ta! Be Good!”   He started to  walk back into the office behind the bank counter, then whirled and pointed at the teller, who froze in fear, hands up to show he wasn’t touching anything. The jester crouched there, pointing for a long moment, then his hand darted forward and tapped the teller on the nose.  “BOOP!”

At that moment, both men looked up at the loud ringing pop of a gun going off.

***

 

The guards were advancing on the Joker, both with sidearms drawn.  The closest guard was armed with a snub nosed revolver, trained steadily at the Joker’s chest.  “My good man!  I normally don’t traffic in guns, but if that’s all you have, I scorn no man’s contribution to the arts! Please, toss it in! ”  With that, she motioned towards the hat.

 

“Sorry Miss, I would, but it belongs to the company.  Can’t donate what isn’t mine, ya know? Now put your hands up!”

The Joker grinned and flourished in his direction. “Well, company loyalty AND a good come back joke.  I appreciate it, really I do.”  She took a quick step towards him and put one elbow on the gun as if leaning on it.  Head propped against fist, she grinned at him from inches away as he pulled the trigger over and over again. Click. Click. Click.

 

“A good sense of humor aside though, I can’t let you keep the bullets. ”  She fanned her free hand in the air, several shining copper jacked rounds nestled between fingers.  With several deft flicks of the wrist, they sailed in a long arc, one at a time, into the hat, quickly joined by a flood of jewelry and wallets being tossed in by a now truly frighted crowd.

She looked back at the guard, smiling, and slipped the hand into her jacket.  He stood stock still, sweat beading on his brow, trying and failing to keep his eyes from flicking back and forth from her to his fellow guard walking up behind her.  Still staring the guard in the eyes, she whipped her hand out of her jacket and pointed it behind her, directly at the face of the second security guard.  She curled up one side of her face, the unpainted one, the guard noticed, and spoke in her worst faux gangster impression.  “Dontcha even THINK about it, copper.”

 

She turned her head slowly, making a CREEEEAAAAAAK noise under her breath.  All eyes were focused on her hand, an on the giant silver ring that adorned it.  The guard looked at it, eyes narrowed past the barrel of his gun.

The ring appeared to be of a single piece.  Bright silver, the band went around her pointer and middle finger, a thick piece of silver with numbers carved into it. The primary focus was a human hand, maybe two inches from finger tip to wrist, in the classic finger gun position.  The pointing forefinger was hollow, a gun barrel the size of a bb.  The disembodied mini hand was held up by two small bears, with a third, smaller bear, standing on the curve of the top of the hand.  It appeared to be trying to push the thumb backwards, like cocking a gun.

 

“I call it “Bearing”.  It’s a statement on way we’ve trivialized gun ownership to the point where everyone has one, like hands.  There are some deeper levels of meaning, but who has the time to go over it? Also, its a pun.  You know, to bear arms.”

“Cute, now put your hands up. ”

Without moving her hands, the Joker slowly grinned back at the guard, a wider, wilder smile than any she’d yet worn.  The guard stared at her lips, a dark pit opened into the recesses of her soul.  He couldn’t help but feel like she was pouring every ounce of disdain and hate she had through those lips, and his vision swam dark, his fingers and cheeks growing cold.

 

“Do you know why the baby bear is cocking the gun?”

 

“Because..  uh… children and guns that aren’t secure?”

 

“OO!  Good.  That, and , because, well.  Papa bear, he’s too hard. Mamma bear, she’s too soft. And as we all know, the baby bear?  He’s JUST RIGHT. ”

 

A stream of liquid shot out, clear and quick, splashing in the guard’s face.

He spluttered, blinking his eyes to

Short Story Challenge: The Thousand Doors of Olive Garden

So, saw a comment from the forward thinking Rose Eveleth ( @roseveleth on twitter, check her podcast, Flash Foward ) about a small contest being run by another writer @hels on twitter.   Write a story using this opening line, and she’ll buy you dinner at OG.  Well, im good without the dinner ,but the first line was too good to pass up.  Especially since literally minutes before reading it, I had been discussing with a coworker dopplegangers.  You know the old saw about how everyone has one?  I met mine, when I was 6, in a restaurant bathroom.  We were looking at each other in the mirror while trying to comb our hair.

 

There is only one Olive Garden, but it has a thousand doors.  They come in a hundred shapes, a dozen sizes.  Some have knobs, and a sign that says “Pull Me”. Some have brass plates inscribed “Push.”  Some slid open, sound waves detecting the unwary that walk by, smells of garlic and chianti enticing them to enter. One, Western themed, has handles made of cast copies of the Colt Peacemaker.  If you are reading this, though, you are unlikely to ever come across that door, as the world on the outside of it has a gravity that will snap your bones and stop your blood in your veins.

 

Chances are, if you’ve been to four different Olive Gardens in your life, spread around your home state, you’ve only walked through one actual door.  Maybe two. They are like holes, drilled into the shell of a vast multidimensional Nautilus.  Each leads to its own chamber. Alike, but different, growing into being as the Nautilus extends it’s shell in directions whose mere existence would decimate your mind to comprehend.  Growing larger as the Olive Garden beast grows, the door, the same door, appearing across each individual landscape as it bends and buckles in four dimensions, a hyper door, a single door for each face of hole into that particular cavernous chamber of the growing beast. Perhaps one day there shall be a thousand and one doors, but today, there are a thousand.  The shell of the Olive Garden beast keeps each chamber apart, keeps the denizens from mingling, but the back of the beast runs through them all.  It twists in those dark directions our three dimensional mind knows not.  Ana and Kata, Ceriden and Quariden. It spins and turns, passing through vast holes in what, to our small minds, seem solid walls painted in yellow tones and festooned with fake rock slabs.

 

It takes a determined klutz to fall in a direction he doesn’t even know exists.  And as my mother, friends, and lovers will all tell you, I am a DETERMINED klutz. (We aren’t talking about the chicken egg incident. It was as much Samantha’s fault as mine, and I hear most of her hair has grown back and the skin graft took with only minor scarring. )  Digging into some pasta dish with a dozen tiny sea creatures cooked into it, I managed to miss my mouth with the glass of Merlot. I mostly blame the fact that my mouth was a moving target, as I was mid delivery of a particularly bad brick joke when I tried to take a sip.  Excusing myself from the gaggle of coworkers who had gathered for lunch (when you’re here you’re family MY ASS), I shuffled my way in the supposed direction of the bathrooms.

 

Dabbing at my soaked shirt with the napkin in my hand, I slammed bodily into a large man in a suit coming out of the hallway to the bathroom doors.  I ricocheted off his solid bulk, hit my head on the hanging lantern behind me, which caused swears of surprise from the couple seated at the small table there, and spun widdershins on one foot trying desperately not to fall on my ass. I brought my other foot back down to support me, and stepped on… something.  If you’ve ever accidentally stepped on a person while navigating a dark room during a sleep over (or whatever parties you may have gone to that involved many people on the floor, I won’t judge), you ALMOST know the sensation of squirming flesh under my foot.  It twisted, it moved, in a direction that felt WRONG.  My feet slid out from under me as the ground was suddenly off to my side somewhere, and bright lights flashed behind my eyes as I rolled up hill, down hill, the world spinning around me.  I slammed against the wall, finally, and tried to rise to my feet.  My stomach churned, the white sauce laden sea bugs in my stomach threatening to make war upon my esophagus, and I lay there trying not to vomit for a moment.

 

Finally rising, the world seemed to flicker in and out as I blinked my eyes, like a badly programmed video game redrawing vectors slowly.  Blinking, I stumbled down the hallway and pushed past the heavy wooden door marked “stneG”. The light was dim, and someone was already standing at the farthest sink from the door.  I grabbed a stack of paper towels and stood next to him, blotting up wine.  I looked down to wet the paper towel and looked back up at myself, but I found that no matter how I moved my hand, I kept missing the stain, just touching the pale cream of where I HADN’T spilled on myself.  This went on for a few moments before I realized that something was wrong.  I looked at my face, and saw that my eyes were pointed to the side.  I had never seen the side of my eyes in the mirror before!  There was something else wrong with my face, but it wasn’t immediately clear.

I panned my eyes to my right, and found myself staring at myself, the way a good mirror should.  There was a mark on my forehead where i had smacked into the lamp, a red mark quickly purpling into a bruise.  I slowly raised my arm to touch it, wincing, and noticed in my peripheral the man next to me doing the same.  My eyes flicked back and forth between the two images of myself.  Same clothes. The face…  the one without the mark on his forehead looked like pictures of myself. Not my face reversed in the mirror. I have a missing tooth in the front, that was the most obvious misplacement. And the stain on our shirts were almost mirror images of each other.  Not quite the same, no Rorschach blotch test could ever produce two identical stains, but close enough.  I could see his eyes flickering back and forth as well, our brains moving in unison.  Slowly, we turned and faced each other.

 

“Mirror world?”

“Rerrem dlrouw?”

 

His voice broke over my eardrums like static, obviously reversed.  From his expression, mine treated him the same.  Almost as one, we pulled the small notebook and pencil from our back pockets.  While I couldn’t HEAR backwords, I had spent lots of time as a child learning to READ backwards.  Wizard writing, it was called in several books.  Hopefully he had done the same.

We communicated slowly through writing, both easily able to read backwards. I told my story, and he nodded, understanding.  He told me that he had slammed into the same man, but avoided the lamp.  We threw out theories for a few minutes, then, flipping to a new page, he wrote out a single word.  “ANA?”

 

I wasn’t thinking as quickly as he, I blamed the bash to my head and getting twisted in some unknown direction.  It wasn’t until he wrote “ketchup packets” that I remembered.  A book I’d read as a boy, with people that moved in other dimensions.  Left, right. Up, down. In and out.  And for the fourth? Ana and Kata. I nodded slowly, and closing my eyes, tried to remember the feel of moving that strange direction.  He giggled a strange reversed sound at the sight of my head bobbing, then gasped as bright light and geometric shapes burst out in my eyes again.  I moved back and finally did throw up, losing my lunch into the sink next to me.  He looked a little green as the smell rose.  I can’t imagine what chirality must be doing to the smell of bile.

 

Grabbing his pad, he wrote, “Your head vanished!”  I almost had it.  I held out my hand and he took it, and closing my eyes, I stepped.  I felt his hand slip out of mine, and desperately hoped that he was left in his old world, and not dumped randomly somewhere, unable to step in this new direction.  Opening my eyes, i saw fragments and pieces of the bathroom, and the rest of the restaurant, panels sliding in and out of existence as I walked. In the distance I saw a great curtain of white, the only truly solid thing as I stepped around.  I suddenly felt the floor squish under me again, and jumped backwards.  Embedded into the floor was a great column of grey flesh, nearly a yard across, and raising a foot high before descending back into the ground.  It pulsed, red veins specking it, a large black cord running down the middle, just inside the translucent body.  It ran off in either direction with no end in sight.

 

I followed it, ducking around portions of walls, half lamps that hung in midair, and the occasional chest, head, hand, or leg.   After several minutes of walking, I came to the white curtain.  I touched it, and it was solid, but also round under my hand.  I understood that it ran solidly in this fourth dimension i could now move along, the large flesh tube running through a small hole in it.  Ducking down, I crawled over the flesh and moved Kata back the way I had twisted.  I found myself in Olive Garden, the walls solid, the curtain and tube gone.  I walked to the main dining room and saw my coworkers sitting at our table, my own spot empty.  Breathing a sigh of relief, I rushed to the table.  Marjory looked up at me and screamed in horror.  I stopped dead, looking into her one, large, green eye, flickering in the center of her forehead.  I heard the bathroom door open behind me, and I was shoved out of the way by… myself.  The rest of the restaurant had started screaming and pointing, and I watched myself lumber to a stop, and turn around slowly.  A single giant eye, a saucer sided plate of glass held by two thick bars in front of it.  I spun and watch as the walls slid away, and I could see the cord to follow again.

The cord seems to only go in two directions, and following it back the other way seemed obvious, but past the mirror world was one where the atmosphere was thick and foggy. I’ve traveled up and down the grey cord for a year now, grabbing plates to eat when no one is looking, sleeping on empty tables.  I’ve thought about walking out the front door a hundred times, but there seems to be a safety in the Olive Garden, no matter how dangerous the outside is, it only inconvenienced me within the chambers of the great Nautilus that is the Olive Garden. I’ve tried drawing a map, but it’s useless, the cord moves in directions I still can’t perceive.

 

It is an interesting thought though.  Should someone ever find my notebook, and understand the words, realize.  Every time you enter this place, nine hundred and ninety nine other you’s do as well.  Some just slightly different. Some downright monstrous. But they are all you. Related through time and space, even if not truly related by blood.  A family of other yourselves.  And now I understand the true meaning of their slogan. When you’re here, you’re family.

Scrivener on the island

Scrivener Spills is a persona I am creating for a local gaming / SCA / Party group.  He is a multidimensional traveler who writes lots of “based on a true story” novels and sells them wherever they might be interesting. I have taken to writing from his perspective for the fun of it.  The below is setup story for one of the parties that the group throws regularly. The theme is Mysterious Island, with a suggestion of beast people and mad scientists.  I’ll be bringing potato salad and sake, which I worked into the story as well.

 

Enjoy

 

Personal journal of Scrivener Spills.  Lost at sea : Day 5

 

It has taken me nearly a week to properly secure suitable shelter, as well as to wait for the rains to stop so that i could lay my parchment out in the sun to dry.  I learned my lesson about drying it over a fire on the South Weston exhibition, I can assure you.

 

My current journey began, as so many of my journeys do, at a party!  I took a mysterious portal to a place that I was informed was called Dachaigau. The locals called themselves a name that I would, in a story, apply to some group hellbent on, well, bending hell, but the Dark Ones know how to party.  A myriad of delightful foods from a hundred lands, drinks of various colors and potency, all quite tasty, and a scandalous amount of flesh on display, a soothing site to lecherous old eyes.  I danced, I sat at the fireside and exchanged yarns and lies with some of the most interesting creatures.  It was more fun than the Queen of Scansion’s last poetry recital.

 

I declined to walk through the glowing gateway that opened at the end of the evening, staying to help clean up the mess, and booking passage with a local pirate who had come to the party and was shipping out for a port quite near my home in the morning. I should have taken the portal.

 

A week in the water and three days of it storms.  At the last, the sky was pitch black at noon, the only light the glow of shuttered lanterns and the occasional bolt of lightning splitting the skies, while wind tossed the small ship about.  I was put to work bailing, as rain water was pouring in and filling the bilge. I was in the bilge when we struck rocks.  The hull burst while I was below, dark rock caving in the sides.  I still have splinters in my cheeks from the spalling wood.

I really don’t know how I made it off the ship and into the water. It’s a blur.  Screaming, cracking, splashing.  I woke up to daylight, half laying on a piece of debris about a hundred feet from shore.  I swam in, and found trees not too far uphill from the beach. As I wrote already, the rain was quite steady, so I never wanted for fresh water.  Several of the trees here have gigantic leaves that make great catch basins.

Food on the other hand…  There are small rodents, I see them around, but have been unable to catch them. I have found a few handfuls of berries that taste delightful, and didn’t get me sick. But for most of my meals I have had to rely on what the Pumonites on Tiki Tara taught me …  larvae.  Large grubs pulled from under rotted logs.  Heavy in protein. Slimy, but satisfying. I haven’t seen any of the crew, but i have seen signs of larger beasts. Ones I aim to stay away from.  They’ve carved into the bark of the trees much like bears marking their territory.

The claw marks, however, strike a chord of wrongness when I gaze upon them. Four parallel slashes, with a fifth curving inward as the slash travels down.

 

 

Day Seven

I have found a couple of the crew. What’s left of them anyways. Whatever… thing… got to them prefers innards to muscles.  After making sure nothing was watching the kill, I managed to secure a compass, a couple of knives, and some good string, from the bodies.  Also, a fresh shirt.  Their boots were too small, sadly.  I placed a few drops of an exquisite purple ink I carry, from the Niemian province of Marcus, on the bottom of my worn soles.  Besides the vivid tone it conveys when thinly lined on parchment, the ink absorbs smells as it slowly dries. It would prevent anything from sniffing out my trail as I left the scene.  The knife and string have proven useful, I’ve prepared myself a much better shelter from cut fronds and branches.  It stays dry inside, and warm.  I’ve seen much of the island from a small rise, but I can see from the darkness on the horizon that it stretches a distance, details unknowable until I investigate further.  Do I wait here, and hope another ship passes that I can signal, or explore on?

Yes journal, stupid question. The best stories come from doing, not waiting!

 

 

Day Eight

I have discovered why the marks on the trees disturbed me.  No animal hand clawed those marks. That fifth mark, curving in… was a thumb. The crew that I found dead, their abdomens opened and emptied, were killed by …  beast men of some kind.  Each different, they walk like men, but look like beasts. Fur, feathers, pointed ears, and long, wicked claws.  I saw them dragging the bodies down the beach.  They were accompanied by a man that looked like a man. Except his face!  That horrible contorted face, deep in madness as he screamed at the beast kin.  He slashed at them with a large leather whip, and they jumped and scurried and whimpered.  He berated one of them particularly, for “wasting good parts” by eating the innards the day before. He wore a strange white robe with many pockets, and a shiny circle of metal rested on his brow like a diadem.

The beast kin thankfully do not appear to have any finer hearing than an average human, as I was able to trail them without arousing any suspicion.  They came to a small harbor I had not seen in my explorations, and placed the corpses in a smallish rowboat.  The mad man and his three beastly charges then got on the craft, and two of them sat down and rowed.  The boat quickly maneuvered away from the island, then set off in the water at a much faster pace than I could manage. I will have to follow on land, and hope I spot where they return to the island.

 

 

Day Fourteen:

 

I am almost out of that wonderful purple ink, but it has helped keep me safe.  The beast kin wander the island every night for prey. It has taken me a week of slow travel, moving under cover by day, sheltering in treetops at night, but I have found the source.  A large home, incongruously planted in the middle of a large field on the island.  A small pond lies next to it, apparently fed by an underground spring.  It is clear and free of growth, but glows at night in an unholy manner while screams of pain and torture come from within the home.

 

I have seen another human in the same white robe, goading the beasts on their tasks. As for myself, I have made my home in a cliff overlooking the house, a good half mile away.  It lets me keep an eye on them, as well as providing shelter.  There are crates and boxes strewn about, refuse of previous wreckages brought from the shore to this place. I have secured myself bowls, plates, silverware, and several bottles of fine alcohol. The fields contain many crops, including one I have harvested quite a few of.  It’s a large reddish white tuber of some sort. Very starchy, it practically bleeds milk when you cut it, but boiled it tastes quite fine.  Needs something though. I’ve found some birds eggs, and some seed pods from a local tree dripping with oil I can press from them with my knife.  I think I may try an emulsion to coat the tubers in.

Several crates have also yeilded glass bottles of various potency.  I am fond of this clear liquid that burns nicely in my mouth. I can’t translate the pictographic language written on the label, but it has a white cloud of particles that settles to the bottom and must be shaken up before serving.  I have saved a label in my journal, hopefully I can find out what it is when I escape this place.

And escape is never far from my mind. Don’t let the platinum chef routine and heavy drinking fool you, I want to get home.  But first…  there is a story to be told about this place, these people. And I aim to learn what it is, Journal!

 

 

Day Sixteen

 

The horror…  Another ship came today, but as it skirted around the rocks lining the beach under my cliff, trying to escape the storms that still pound this island, a great beam of light came from the direction of the house. With the crackling of a hundred forge fires, the ship was DRAGGED into the rocks and quickly broke apart.  Beast kin were on the beach as the survivors reach it. I know now why I only ever saw the bodies of two of the crew.  I was lucky to be floating off shore, that is all that saved me from…. this.

The survivors were dragged along to the house.  They were chained up to the front, until after night fall. One by one, they were dipped in the glowing pool.  They were then taken into the house, and screams and wailing filled the air.  The windows shone green, then all was still.  Then a few hours later, beast kin left the house.  The only ones I had seen before had already left to go hunting elsewhere, and the tattered clothes that still clung to them made it clear.  These were the same people I’d seen dragged in.  The beast kin were the result of some unnatural process.  I must end this abomination.

The days when my skin won’t fit

Its one of those weird, floaty days,

When nothing feels right,

When my arms feel like a costume,

They hang loose, not tight,

When this body of meat i wear,

Drags heavy, not light,

And I’m looking out another’s eyes,

This isn’t my sight.

 

I hate feeling big, bull in shop,

my skull rattles round,

I wish the sloshing sound would stop,

Every doorway too small,

I turn and from the desk things drop,

My flesh a jacket,

Handed down, too large it still flops,

These days when my skin just wont fit.

 

Wicked Pens Writing Prompt Dangerous

A short writing prompt (dangerous) for a writing group I’m part of turned into a bit of a short story!  Warning, NSFW.  (im going to edit it to be even more so, later. )

 

 

Eyes closed, she breathed in, slowly, deeply.  The popping of the bubbles in the drink just under her nose tickled, bringing the various herbal odors in fits and starts, slowly filling her lungs.  Regina always enjoyed the smell of the flowery drink that was the main item served at the eponymous bar, before finally sipping it.  The taste of the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing never lived up to the promise of its smell, though it certainly was a wolf as it ran howling through your system.

 

Raising the glass to her lips, another scent filtered into her nose. A dangerous scent. A predator’s scent, but overlaid with a soft smell, lavender, perhaps. A smell that deserved the same name as her drink. Several long slow gulps later, she lowered her cup and looked to her right.

 

He was scanning the room slowly, while appearing to be conversing with the bar tender. A shared laugh, and a delivered drink, a shot, not the mixed drink held by most hands in the room. He sipped it, and she felt herself flush at the flex of the muscles in his jaw as he smiled, enjoying the slow burn.  Freshly shaved, with a chin that was present without being pointed.  A Roman nose, crooked in the middle, well trimmed hair, the bare start of a receding hairline, and arms tightly bound in his shirt, a build that looked like it had more to due with regular heavy use, not time spent at the gym. She caught herself from licking her lips.  He looked as delicious, as potentially dangerous, as he smelled.

 

He turned and caught her staring, his eyes widening and lips curling to a slight smile. His gaze drifted slowly down and back up, and he finished his drink with a gulp.  He stood and walked, each step deliberate, like he was climbing the floor towards her.  She grinned at his stalking motion, so deliberate, so obvious, and so so effective.

 

Standing over her, he spoke, teeth perfectly white and polished, voice deep without being threatening, but rumbly, a roar held in restraint.  “You’re not actually drinking that fruit juice and tea masquerading as a drink, are you?”

 

Regina met his gaze, and deliberately sipped from her glass while holding his eyes in her own. She set the empty cup down, and slowly licked the last crimson drops from her lip, an action that brought a smile to his eyes.  Green, with webs of gold, she saw now.  Pupils taller in the middle than they were wide, a subtle difference that most people wouldn’t see, unless they were looking for it. Which, of course, she was.

 

“I like the way it smells. ”  She stood, taking a step closer, nose just barely between that delectably kissable chin and the pressed collar of his shirt. She took a slow breath in, the musk and flower splitting in her nose, the spice taking shape, prickling her nose like tiny claws. “I like the way YOU smell.”

 

He glanced down, his vision filled with her ear, sliding down into her long neck.  Her own musk filtered up, and he took a quick sniff as he watched her pulse flutter against the tightness of the skin of her neck.  The smell made him think of rabbits and snow, and he could feel his body tensing in anticipation.  “You smell quite nice yourself. That’s an odd way to say hello, however.”

 

She stepped back, upper teeth lightly chewing on her lower lip as she appraised him. He watched her body shift subtly, arms moving apart and away from her body, hips swiveling into a looser stance as her body language betrayed the inner decision her mind had just made.

 

“Hello then.  Look, lets be honest.  I’m not here to get drunk. Not on liquor, anyway.”

 

“To be honest, neither am I. The prices are bit much and I prefer flavors I can…. savor, on my tongue.”

 

“Well, shall find someplace else where we can… drink?”

 

He grinned broadly, and took her shoulder in hand, leading her to the door.  His fingers flexed against her flesh, the power in them evident even as he handled her softly, with care.  The feeling of strength in his hand and arm thrilled her, the quiet alarm in the back of her mind growing almost imperceptibly louder. Outside the bar,  he flagged a taxi and opened the door for her.  She slid in first, he quick after, his hand on her thigh.

 

The driver rolled his eyes at the display of lust behind him. “Where to folks?”

 

He looked hungrily at her, squeezing her thigh as her own hand grasped his wrist, slowly guiding it higher on her leg. “What is the old line, your place or mine, …”  He paused for a moment. “In all the rush, I was rude enough to not even ask for your name!”

 

“Regina, and you?”

 

“Walter.”

 

Regina giggled.  Too perfect.  “Walter the wolf, are you?”  He tensed a moment at her words, but muscles softened as she stroked her fingers along his chin, drawing his face closer to hers.  “Are you hungry like the wolf, Walter?”  She drew him in, and their lips met, parted.  His tongue darted into her mouth, a pressure against her, inside her, a promise of more pleasure to come.  He tasted of rare steak and cinnamon, and his teeth were sharp against her own tongue, the alarm of danger raising another decibel in her mind as he devoured her in play.

 

As they slowly drew apart, he answered, the hidden rumble in his voice coming to the forefront, the roar of desire barely held back.  “You have no idea.”

 

“Ahem.  Lovebirds.  Address?”

 

Regina looked up and snapped out an address, and the cab went into motion as the pair dove back into each other.  Walter drew his teeth slowly across her neck, drawing a gasp from Regina as she wrapped one arm around his back and buried the fingers of her other hand into his short black hair.

 

The kissed and teased, Walter turned so that he faced her, one leg between hers, a hand pushing on her shoulder, crushing her against the seat. Again, she could feel more strength in him than his physique should allow, and knew she was in trouble. She delighted in that feeling, the tenseness across the back of her neck as his wet lips traced across the front.

The taxi stopped suddenly, the driver honking and swearing. The couple came forward away from the seat, then Walter pushed  without thought, slamming her roughly back into the fake leather bench.

The driver peeked in the rear view. “Hey, Samson, you break it, you buy it.”

Worry filled his eyes. “Sorry Regina, you okay?”  He looked to where his hand caught her shoulder, and realized he was gripping hard enough that her skin between her fingers was turning white.  She struggled for a moment against the hand, failing to free herself from his grip, before he loosened it.  Her face fought between panic and ecstasy before devolving to disappointment as her shoulder came free.

 

“I’m fine.  You’ll have to try harder to break me.”

 

He smiled, bringing his lips lower on her chest, nuzzling at the line between dress and skin.  She caught something mumbled, ending with, “by the pound.”

 

The cab stopped, and Walter fumbled with his wallet, the pocket obviously held tightly closed by the straining of his erection. Sliding it free, he threw several bills at the cab, and slid out backwards, pulling Regina with him and popping her out of the car.  The door slammed, the cab peeled away, and Regina looked around.

“DAMNIT!”

 

Walter stopped, his hand already dragging upwards at her dress hem. “What’s wrong?”

 

“That bastard dropped us off a block away.  C’mon. ”  She dragged at his hand, pulling him into an alley leading between the two rows of small houses.

 

“Where are we going?”

 

“Shortcut.”

 

He stumbled along behind her, amused.  “I would follow that delightful ass anywhere, but is this safe?”

 

She came to a cross roads of alleys, and darted left, then right.

“Damnit!” She tried a door, and it failed to open, latched from the inside.  “Okay, this way. And of course it’s safe!  I’ve got Walter the wolf with me. ”

 

She pulled him close for a kiss, her hand popping a button of his shirt, sliding against his chest in the newly made hole.  He pulled away briefly, looking around at the alcove of cinder block walls that hid them from view. “Pretty private place right here, come to think of it, my delightful little snack.”  His tone slowly changed as he spoke, and the warning bells in the back of her mind turned to claxons.  DANGER DANGER!

 

She smiled hesitantly, looking around.  “Yes, well, I want you in my bed. Lets…  go?”  Her voice turned to a squeak as his hand slowly wrapped around her throat. He slammed her back into the wall, and she saw stars as her head bounced off the cinder blocks.

 

His voice burst out in the promised roar, long held back. “I think I want you right here.  Every last morsel. ”  His face shifted slightly, nose lengthening, teeth growing.  His skin changed hue, the lightly tan Mediterranean skin turning into rings of light and dark.  His hand slid from her neck down her arm, his other hand grabbing the opposite wrist.  He lifted her, the cinder block scraping against her back, her arms held out wide.

 

She could feel the needle like claws he now had puncturing her skin.  Her heart pounded in her chest, her breath came hot and fast as her mind convulsed with fear.  She could feel the adrenaline rising with a host of other neurotransmitters, the fight or flight response pegged on the far end of flight.  She struggled against him, but his fingers were like iron bands.  In the dim back of mind, she thought to scream, but as her mouth opened wide to breath, he clamped his muzzle over her mouth, long tongue now raspy and scraping across her tongue and teeth. She felt herself drowning in fear, the danger facing her palpable, pulsing, thudding in her ears.

And she reveled in it.  She could barely keep from pissing herself, and she never felt more alive. The cocktail of homemade drugs in her system eeked sweat out of every pore, and Walter’s nose expanded rhythmically as he smelled the fear leaching out of her. He let go of her mouth, and pulled back to look her in the eyes.  Glass eyed and cowed, she looked up into his own, the slight peaks now full blown oval pupils, the gold streaks glowing in the darkness.  The panic rose to a fever pitch, and she felt her body tense in pleasure, as the world darkened around her, grey mist filling in everything she saw but his eyes.  And just when she couldn’t stand any more, as gasps of panic fought her throat with moans of pleasure, the orgasm racked through her body, and every switch in her set to flight, flipped.  Endorphins rushed to opposing settings, the fear evaporated.

 

With a flip of her arms, the hands that had pinned her to the wall crashed together.  She swung her fingers around, talons piercing his wrists. Even as her feet hit the ground, she lifted, and a turn and step reversed their positions. Her steel claws pushed through his flesh, into the cinder block wall, and Walter screamed hoarsely.

 

“Thank you Walter!  You are quite the frightening brute.  I haven’t been scared like that in years. ”  Her own elongated jaws nipped at his neck, drawing drops of blood.  She licked them from her lips, a parody of the motion she had made to lure him in, earlier in the evening.

 

“I am a bit peckish as well, but, I DID go to that bar to get laid.”  She kicked off one pump, and with her leg now twisted and furry, joints moving in ways no human leg could, she brought up a clawed paw to his crotch, slicing denim like it was tissue paper.  As she pulled away his clothes, she kissed him, chewing on his tongue until blood ran like wine. Pulling back from his mangle face, she pushed her body up against his, still pinned to the wall.

In a low tone, she whispered into his pointed ear. “By morning, you will fill my belly, but lets see of you can’t fill anything else before I kill you. “

Cicada’s Promise

Three nights ago, the wind blew with fervor,

And red brown dust darkened the air,

I watched close my porch, a keen observer,

By dawn, not a drop landed there.

 

Two nights ago, Zeus’s chariot rolled,

As flash after spark lit the night,

Thunder shook, it promised, it told,

Of rain still absent by first light.

 

Last night, I could feel it in chest and bones,

My nose filled with Nature’s rutting,

She teased, till I prayed to Maiden and Crone,

On blue skys the sun woke strutting.

 

Tonight my ears with an Oracle fill,

A sweet song to this desert rat,

The first cicada buzzes on my sill,

A concert of hundreds, heavy and fat.

 

A prophecy made by that droning sound,

Whispers in the dark a promise,

By the next day’s twilight, rain will be found,

Believe, and don’t be a Thomas.

On Hamilton, and the meanings of “Father” and “Son”

“Son”

 

“Don’t call me son.”

I’m listening to Hamilton: An American Musical this morning while driving to work. I often skip Meet Him Inside. I get… emotional. I’ve read that Lin-Manuel Miranda has a good relationship with his father.  He must know someone who doesn’t though, that he could channel.  He has a view of those words, father, son, that only comes from hate and fear.

 

Hamilton’s father was, from all accounts, abusive, controlling, and then absent, having “split, full of it”.  Father was not a concept that Hamilton liked.  Father was not a title to bestow on a man who you looked up to. It was a swear word.  And in the same token, so was son. I understand that concept well. Father was fear. Father was hate. Father was pain.  I understood why other people used the term, but whenever it was suggested that someone could be a “father figure” to me, I always winced.

Mr. Meacham, the second grade teacher that got me into gifted testing and blew my mind with his kindness, taught me how to allow myself to think and feel.

 

Jim, the man who’s name I took as my own middle name by choice when I had to change my name to hide from “Father”, who taught me to ACT and not stand still, and how to decide when you do or don’t NEED to act.

 

Jeffrey, my step-father in spirit, if not in law, whose last name I bear proudly, who taught me one of the most important things I feel a parent can teach a child. Responsibility for one’s own actions.

 

Ron, who wanted to be a father figure to many, and taught me a very valuable lesson without realizing it, by showing to me the exact kind of man I did NOT want to grow up to become, a warning of what happens when arrogance and religion mix.

People call them “father figures” I like role models. Father is a swear word to me. And the word son is very much a swear word to me as well. I can’t STAND being called son by anyone other than my mother.  And I still prefer Shorty or Bubba from her, if not my name.

“Son.”

“I’m not your son.”

I’m with Hamilton there. I’ve had it from teachers, from bosses, from older people in general. “Son” means wisdom about to be imparted, means a lesson, which to me means pain and fear and ….   Don’t call me son.  The word son means I’ve screwed up. It means I’m about to be hurt. Or worse, someone else is.

“Son.”

 

“CALL ME SON ONE MORE TIME!”

That line always catches my breath. When I’m singing alone in the car, I scream it, with a lot more emotion than Lin-Manuel, ragged, and harsh, and I can’t finish the song. I shut up until the next song starts. Son is not something I like being called. And… not something I ever thought I would call another person.

Until I had one. And then two. Strong willed, bright eyed, almost impossible to fool.  They see the world with a fascinating combination of the analytic styles of their mother and I, they feel the world with a heart unburdened, free of the pain that held mine prison, and yet with just as much empathic ability.  They cause problems, they get into trouble, they make things up, they make stories, drawings, sculptures, art, song, they compliment people randomly, they often try to make strangers happy.

“Pride is not the word I’m looking for.There is so much more inside me now.“

 

They call me daddy.  Not father, not often.  The oldest, Flint, he’s called me father a couple times, sarcastically.  But daddy does the trick. It catches me every time. It’s…  its a good word, for them. When they say their name for me, it’s not out of fear. It’s out of love and hope, and I just want to do everything it takes to make sure that connotation never changes for them. The words father and son mean something different to me now. And yet, I still very rarely call either of them son. They are Flint and James. They are “my boys”, and not my sons. Because the word is hard on my lips, and I can only say it when I think only of them, and can say it untinged with the hatred I have held so long for the word.

 

 

“Philip when you smile I am undone, my son.  Look at my son.”


And you can see Hamilton feeling the same, as he has his own son, then daughter.  Son is a title of pride. And yet, listen to the song.  He’s testing the word out. “My Son”, and there are echoes in his voice, “Don’t call me Son.” The second time is clearer, he’s putting aside his hate of the word, because it means something new now. And Father, Father is something to be, a goal to make the word itself better for his children than it was for him, to make sure Father means that guy that was always around. And that’s what it means, right?  To have kids?  “If we lay a strong enough foundation.” To make sure their childhood, their world, is better than ours was.


Even if it’s just making sure that the words, father and son, never feel dirty to their lips.

Launching The Leaking Pen and my personal site

So, after talking about it forever, I have finally relaunched TheLeakingPen.com , intended to be both a writer’s community with resources and assistance, as well as an actual publisher, online, and perhaps in print. I have also launched my own personal writing page, here, in order to keep myself separate from a business/publisher standpoint. I plan to link to published short stories, host a few serial novels, share some poetry and shorts that likely won’t sell, and house essays and an upcoming book review series.

 

Its never too late to do what you want, and creating, writing, and sharing my creations is what I want.  Come join me, will you?  It’ll be fun.