In which I’m Punxsutawney Phil

I just wanted to pop up and say hello I’m not dead.

My new job, which I’ve been gunning for for years, is rather all-consuming. I was prepared for this. I was also prepared for utter incompetence.

What I was not prepared for was to be thrown under the bus by the utterly incompetent overseers. I was also not prepared for an utterly useless “mentor” whose response to me saying “I walked out and cried in the bathroom” was to completely ignore the comment.

I’m not looking for fluffy, lovey-dovey support. I’m just expecting to be seen as a human being. Even if the overseer we call Professor Umbridge said she walked out and cried, I’d at least go “That sucks. What happened? Are you okay? Do you want to talk about it?” because as much as of a narcissist loser as she is, she’s still human.

But, hey, on a brighter note, the current colleagues I have are cool. I’m crocheting them stuffed animals.

I hope everyone is well. Sorry for these constant flickers of existence.

Anyway, I have seen my shadow and must retreat to the Underground.

(Alas, this Underground does not have a goblin king named Jareth. But it does have cake.)

Scribble [253]

Streetlights streaked past, the twinkling lights of the office buildings flashed in and out of existence.

They were going above the speed limit, but it was two in the morning, so who cared? Their car was nice enough to be left alone.

Luna offered another fry. Lilly accepted it, leaning to the side, mouth open, but eyes on the road, which made Luna laugh. “Your face, every time you do that.”

“What?” Lilly asked, the fry unflatteringly hanging between her chapped lips. The salt stung.

“You’ve got this super intense look when you do that.”

“I don’t wanna crash!” Lilly protested before chomping down the rest of the fry. “Hey, we got nuggets, right?”

“Yeah, but maybe when the roads are a bit less shitty.”

“This’s as good as they’ll get. We’re leaving this place, remember? And it’ll be out in the open after this.” Lilly said, and then left her mouth open, a bit wider this time, indicating she didn’t care about the choking hazard.

Luna sighed but went ahead and tossed a smaller nugget in.

“Thanks,” Lilly said.

Luna let out another sigh, this one more relaxed and happier. “I’m glad we did this.”

“I hope we stay glad,” Lilly muttered, more to herself. All of their possessions had been thrown into the trunk and backseat. It was enough to, maybe, furnish a studio and still leave room for more. Which was probably all they were going to be able to afford.

But neither cared. Everything was going to be okay.

Written to “Scribble” by Underworld.

Giant Slayer – A Bad Ending [228]

Gavin checked the map. He had put X’s over the areas they had already checked; there were a lot of them. But the sources said she was definitely in this city.

And, given the utter lack of chaos and screaming, she was probably unconscious. Or worse.

He swallowed and put the map back in his pocket. Walter was checking the sleezy bar, and it was Gavin’s job to check out the sleezy coffee shop. It was for the best, he figured. Walter was the kind of guy who could pull off being classy after watching the classy-folk act for an hour. Gavin was a country bumpkin through and through; he couldn’t even hide his accent. It just sounded bad. Walter, though, was perfect at imitating accents.

Gavin shoved his hands into his pockets and made his way, stepping through the streetlights. This was definitely a ritzy city given how many they had. He felt out of place; he felt horrendously out of place.

But he wasn’t ever going to feel like he had a place until Ursula was found. Ideally found safe and alive.

At this point, he was ready to settle for alive. And, again, the lack of evidence she had exacted bloody vengeance told him they had her either chained up or unconscious. He heard there were types who enjoyed that.

He swallowed the rising bile.

Written to “aXXo” by Binarpilot. From the same story as as “A Snippet.”

1994 [279]

Jade was sick. She didn’t know what kind of sick it was, but she was sick. Her whole body felt gross—it was like her bones were too slippery for her tendons to hold onto, and her stomach was swishing around her abominable cavity. Everything in the pelvic basin felt like it was full of rotting cotton balls, making everything the moldy fibers touched quiver and shake, and like it was full of hot coals.

It wasn’t even that time of the month.

She felt her heart was making its way down her throat and out of her mouth.

The room began to spin as she felt herself sliding off her cheap dorm bed and onto the cheap dorm floor.

Her eyes landed on something she missed. It had been a little shot glass he got her.

She felt shame and rage flood her.

So this is what it was. Heartbreak. She was heartbroken because her boyfriend of four years finally dumped her. He dumped her for some bitch that also wanted to be a doctor. Not ambitious enough, he told her; Jade just wasn’t going to help him with the lifestyle he wanted.

Help him. Like it was her job to help him with his life, but he wasn’t obligated to be there for her.

She forced herself onto her stomach. She snatched up the shot glass and chucked it at the wall, where it shattered, and its pieces landed in the trash. Uncontrolled, that’s what he also told her she was. Jade huffed. She almost wished she could have seen his face at that, but then that meant seeing him again, and she definitely didn’t want that.

Written to “1994” by Slutever.

California [70]

He adjusted his rear-view mirror; it was like an elongated picture. He let out a sigh and started the ignition.

It was almost sunrise. He turned onto 101 and could see the signs telling him how far away San Francisco was. “Fuck you, San Francisco,” he said to himself, the toothpick bouncing with every syllable. “And fuck you too, Los Angeles, while we’re at it,” glancing at the rear-view mirror again.

Written (with much struggle) to “California” by Wild Light. The struggle was mostly because this was the third attempt, and I followed the rules–start when the song starts and end when it ends.

Sole Survivor [231]

She carried a piece of each of them with her. Asher’s scarf; Kaitlyn’s gloves; Mark’s heavy coat; all of it kept her warm. Each step weighed heavier than the last, but she had to keep going. If she was the last one, then it was all on her. Every sacrifice they had made, every bit of blood shed wouldn’t go to waste if she made it through the snow and to where she had to be.

They said it was impossible to undo what had happened; but what had happened had been deemed impossible.

So, clearly that meant she could undo it.

The wind picked up, sending cold specks of snow and ash at her. She pulled the collar up, covering up to just under her eyes. She could feel her lashes grow heavy from the snow.

And then she crested the hill and stared; it was bigger than she thought. Much, much bigger.

The glistening, green structure made its way to the sky, pulsating a menacing blue aura. A blood red cord of light writhed in its prison. As she stood, staring, little crimson orbs—no larger than her first—made their way to the structure. They passed through the glass-like substance as if it wasn’t there. With every orb, the tower seemed to grow.

She swallowed and moved on, feeling her heart start to beat with the pulsating light.

Written to “Sole Survivor” by Asia.

The War is Over [257]

Murray stared at the screen, watching the soldiers march home to triumphant trumpets and drumbeats. They were proud, strong men, and they had won because they were the good guys.

And then the credits started. Murray hated the credits. So he got up and turned the TV off with a loud click from the knob.

He turned and watched his mother and sisters dart about the house, the kitchen table overflowing with cakes and cookies and platters of all sorts of food; food his mother preferred he eat over the cakes and cookies. Murray wanted to sneak one, but he knew better of Myrtle was there; she was the fastest and sharpest of his sisters.

They were excited because Dad was coming home. But they looked too focused on making it look nice to be happy.

There was a knock on the door.

“Murray, that must be Mrs. Norris from next door. Go open the door for her, will you? That or it’s Keith.”

Murray groaned but did as he was told. Dad had gone and left overseas because he was the best good guy there was. He was a lot like the soldiers on TV, but stronger and better. And he had more medals and ribbons than they did.

So he went and opened the door.

Myrtle let out a scream and a plate shattered.

It wasn’t Keith, and it definitely wasn’t Mrs. Norris. Murray didn’t remember having an uncle, but with how hideous he looked, he could see why nobody wanted to talk about him.

Written to “The War is Over” by Phil Ochs.

One Man Army [171]

Liridon held his weapon of choice; the camera. He smirked at his reflection, the clichedness of it all. But it was what it was. This was his last chance. He would march for the last time, and this was the time he would finally make it, make that difference.

Michael had promised.

Liridon was going to capture what would change the world; he would capture what would force everyone to look and confront what they’d been afraid of. Whatever the consequences would be were irrelevant to him. He knew what awaited him, and he could only hope that he would have a chance to see his friends before fate caught up.

He checked his pockets and then his things. They would go through his pockets and things, so he had to be careful about what he left and how he left it.

Liridon left his hotel room, his press badge over the tie Seth had made him. Liridon was a force to be reckoned with; they just didn’t know it yet.

Written to “One Man Army” by Our Lady Peace. Part 3 of 3.

Part One
Part Two

East of Eden [132]

He stood and waited.

It was all he did. Even when they saw him venture through the eternal redwoods or forever sky, he was always, truly, at the same spot, east of Eden.

One day they would return. One day the gates would open again.

It was the day he dreaded because he had broken the rules—he grew attached.

And so Uriel waited with dread. He would always wait, knowing that the day loomed, both soon and forever away. For her it would be an instant, and for him he didn’t know. Would his watch finally end and he would be free? Would they all be free, to only be replaced by another generation, another generation with yet another thankless, endless task?

Probably.

Uriel felt the phantom of his heart sigh.

Written to “East of Eden” by Big Country. Literally the title was about it here. I don’t think borderline eldritch abomination entities have much in common with the Scottish working class. … -insert bad joke about Thather-

If You Tolerate This… [240]

Liridon crouched down, camera in hand. He stared at the dead bodies, his finger hovering over the button. Shifting the lens, he breathed out and snapped the picture.

There was still smoke, and in the distance, still, gunfire.

But they had moved on. Liridon was nice this time—he waited for the firefight to stop before running out. The squad he was assigned to had told him, repeatedly, to stop doing that.

Liridon looked around and found another pair of dead, their eyes glassy and unseeing. The blood was congealing; it was going to make an unpleasant sound when they were peeled away from the ground.

He crouched down and took another set of pictures.

The back of his throat was bitter. He had learned to stop throwing up at the smell and sight. But there was always that phantom of how he used to feel.

One day his photos would finally change the world. Which one it would be, and of what, he used to think he knew. The dead toddler, or what about what was left of the little girl and her puppy, enough to know she had been clutching it?

But those didn’t do it. Nothing seemed to register to the people back home. They just sent more troops to another location, and Liridon always tagged along, hoping that this trip would be the last.

He was tired. The world seemed numb and tolerant to it all.

Written to “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will be Next” by the Manic Street Preachers. Part 2 of 3.

Part One
Part Three