Tag Archives: magic

Fiction: Death, Unstay Thy Hand

I can tell the Wellbutrin is doing its job. This is the third individual item I’ve written in as many days, which I think may very well be more than I’ve written in the last year. I also have story ideas spilling out my ears, which is also something that hasn’t happened in a good, long while. That said, I do want to put a disclaimer right up front of this story — and a trigger warning — given the content of my last couple of updates. The story below is not in any way a reflection of my current state of mind. It is just a partial answer to a “What if…?” question that popped into my head a couple of days ago. Like most of my stories here, this is a Ficlatte piece and so is inherently limited in its length. It’s a vignette, if you will, of what could someday be a much longer story.


Death, Unstay Thy Hand

I have taken my own life more times than I can count. I have slashed open my wrists, bleeding out in minutes. I have fired bullets into my brain. I have poisoned myself. Stood in front of moving vehicles. Jumped from high towers. Drowned.

And yet, my body resolutely refuses to remain dead.

No matter how many times I die, no matter how many different ways, I always return. Sometimes in a matter of minutes. Sometimes within hours. Or weeks. The longest death I have experienced was eight months, and even then I returned. It is as though Death itself has evaluated me — and somehow found me wanting.

I have given up all hope. Life has become unbearable, and I can find no respite, no solace in it. What peace I had hoped to find has eluded me. There is no rest to be found even in those brief periods between life because, for me, they pass in an instant.

Death has stayed its hand, and so I live in everlasting torment.

Heartstone

It is a wondrous thing to hear your child’s heart beat for the first time. All those long hours of laboring and toiling over a workbench, all those days and weeks of tenderly, gingerly nudging gears and springs and cogs into place. All those blisters and burns and tiny cuts, they all pay off when that heart has been installed in your child’s chest and brought to brilliant, beating life.

There is no greater wonder than hearing that rhythmic lub-dub, that beat that sends lifeblood coursing through your child’s veins. It is an experience like no other, one that shakes you down to the very marrow of your bones.

But with wonder there is often mystery. And pain. It is one thing to build a heartstone to continue — even restore — life. It is quite another to build one to create life.

I only hope that this time I will be successful. I only hope that this time I will not have to cast my child’s body into the corner with all the others.

There is much work yet to be done.

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Golem

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Golem

Rain lashed down on that ravaged plain in furious sheets. The broken earth drank it up through ragged cracks that went down forever.

At the center of the plain, a gaping maw of a hole sucked down water in great, sodden gulps. Perversely, gouts of flame licked up out of it, unnaturally green and purple. A lone figure stood at the edge of the pit, unaware or uncaring of the tremendous heat. Its lips moved, inaudible over the combined roar of rain and fire.

Smoke and steam heaved from the pit, and up rose a great clay monstrosity, towering dozens of feet over the figure below.

“What would have of me, my master?” it bellowed. The figure looked up at the beast, allowing her hood to fall back. Her features were fine and fair, hair so blonde as to be almost white.

Her voice was cold as ice. “Your time of sleep has come to an end, my dear. I have need of a titan.”

The golem pulled its massive bulk out of the pit. “Then let us be on our way,” it replied. It scooped its master up and lumbered out over the plain.

[Originally posted at Ficly.]

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Blood Rite

The albino stood on the platform and dragged the knife down his forearm. Blood ran in scarlet rivulets over his hand, his fingers. It dripped the sidereal pattern of his god onto the wooden planks around his feet.

Before him the air shimmered as it struggled to call forth his deity. The hot sun bore down full on his naked back, dampening the potency of the blood. Day was not the time for such magic, but there was no choice for it.

With each heartbeat, more of his life pulsed away, more of his power to prolong the spell ebbing. His was a complex gift, a dangerous magic. Each practice of the blood rites risked death, if the ritual could not be completed before last blood flowed.

The albino chanted, his voice barely a whisper, conserving energy, yet he felt his strength diminish.

He slashed again, savagely, desperately, hoping more blood would fuel the spell’s completion. Still it foundered, and he sagged to the platform.

The albino wept his final breaths. His failure meant that his people would die.

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Magic In Unexpected Places

Claire found the hat half under a bush, half out. It was the sort of hat one might wear while working in the garden — woven straw and wide-brimmed. Claire turned the hat in her hands. The top had been torn out, leaving ragged edges and a large hole.

She flipped the hat over — and it took a moment for her mind to resolve what she saw. All around her it was broad daylight, but looking down through the hole in the hat revealed a landscape cast in night’s shadow. Night, in a place that was other.

It was like a window into another world, or maybe more like a periscope. When Claire moved, that other landscape moved in concert. When she turned, that other place turned, and she saw a world much like her own and yet different in some indefinable way.

She brought the hat down to the ground so to reach through, pluck a blade of grass, and pull it back when a voice, solemn and sad, caused her to gasp and nearly drop the hat.

“I wouldn’t do that were I you. Stuff really shouldn’t cross between our two worlds.”

[Originally posted on Ficly.]

Veni, Vedi

“What do you think’s in there, Rob?”

“No idea, Finn. Juice, most likely.”

“Juice?”

“Sure, you know, electricity. Stuff’ll juice you, sure as I’m standing here, if you touch it. Knock you flat, leave your hair all sparkly and curled and smelling like something that crawled out of a wall socket.”

“Oh.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

“No, what?”

“It’s silly.”

“What? You can tell me. I won’t laugh.”

“Well… it’s just that…”

What?

“I wondered if maybe… it was possible there might be something else coming through those lines.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. Magic, maybe.”

“Magic?”

“Sure, why not? Electricity runs back and forth in wires all the time. Why not magic?”

“Because there’s no such thing as magic.”

“See? I knew you’d think it was silly.”

“Now, don’t get all upset. That’s not what I meant. It’s just… you really think there could be magic up there?”

“Sure! If someone were to touch them, who knows what would happen.”

“I don’t know, Finn. That seems a little far- Hey, what are you doing?”

“I’m going to climb up there and touch one, see what happens.”

“Be careful! Those things might be dangerous!”

“Don’t worr- Whoa.”

“What? What’s happening?”

“I… it’s not magic, exactly. It’s something else. I can feel everything, I can see… everything. Rob, you should try th-”

“Finn? Where’d you go? Finn? FINN! There… there’s nothing here. Oh, Finn. You took it all with you. Where did you go?”

Originally posted at Clarity of Night.

Eye of Newt

The black cauldron sat in the middle of the room and hissed menacingly as the green sludge within burbled and glurped.  The stench emanating from the vile brew was overwhelming, nauseating in its potency, but the witch standing over it seemed not to notice.

“Leg of lizard.  Tail of salamander.  African bat guano.”

The bubbling mix sizzled and sparked with every ingredient added.

“Dash of pixie dust.  Cloven goat’s hoof.  Heart of newborn lamb.”

She read from the page she had copied from the ancient tome.  The print had been terribly faded, the language archaic, but from it had come a form of magic that others would kill to acquire from her, if only they had known of it.

“Stir clockwise for three minutes, six turns per minute.”

Her arm ached by the time she was done dragging the mixing rod through the thickening glop, but past experience proved that her discomfort now would be worth it once she was done.

The final ingredient was eye of newt.  This she dutifully added, expecting that the formula would transform into its usual bright blue color, indicating that she had done everything perfectly and that the potion was ready.  Instead, it puffed a cloud of acrid smoke, causing the witch to cough and gag.

When the air finally cleared, she looked to find that her precious Vanity Potion, her secret to ultimate beauty, had turned black and smelled strongly of charcoal.  She cursed quietly and then sighed in resignation.

“Oh, well.  I guess I shall have to start again.” The witch-turned-prom-queen whirled to face the young man – her date – that she had tied to a chair behind her.  His head lolled to one side, revealing a red socket where his left eye used to be.  “I’m sorry, Newton, dear.  I confess I was careless with your gift.” She raised a short dagger and took a step toward him.  “I’m afraid that I have need of your other eye.”

Eternal Sleeper

The Lonely Moon gazes down on me,
The pale, immortal Son of Night.
It wakens the Eternal Sleeper,
Who calls to me, and I answer.

She walked, barefoot, across a carpet of moss. Her song – soft, haunting – danced on a breath of air, spun through the wood.

Only the trees observed her progress, their bony fingers scraping across her skin, clutching her hair, tugging at her thin nightgown. Dead leaves chittered nervously, a lament for other lost souls. She seemed not to notice, hypnotized by the enchantment in the air.

She sang, even as vines wrapped around her and bore her to the great old oak. She greeted it like an old friend, her hand caressing its rough surface.

“Hello, lover,” she whispered. “I have been waiting for you.”

It stood wide to receive her, molding itself to her as she was pressed into it. Washed in the moonlight her features were transformed into gnarled bark as the oak claimed her for itself. Her song ended only after the tree was whole once more.

* * *

Somewhere in the forest is an ancient oak tree with a human face. The legends all say that once upon a time, the Eternal Sleeper reached out from its slumber and called a young maiden to itself, that she went to it willingly and became one with it, a song of joy on her lips. It is also said that when the Lonely Moon shines upon the Sleeper, you can hear her singing still.

Originally posted at Clarity of Night.

Two Lamps

“Choose the lamp on the left, see visions of the future. Choose the one on the right, taste of true madness for a spell.” The crone’s words burned in the girl’s mind like festering sores. She held her hands over the lamps but felt no heat from them, despite the frigid temperature in the small chamber. No shadows, nothing to indicate they even sat before her, despite what her eyes told her.

What kind of choice was this? Madness versus prophecy? The choice itself was madness.

Still, she plunged her hand into the light of the left-hand lamp and felt warmth from it at last as it gripped her arm and invaded her body. But then it grew bitterly cold as it wracked her mind with visions of an impossibly horrible future. She screamed with the pain and terror of it and knew that this was far worse.

Her last thought before she succumbed to the black madness was, I should have chosen the other lamp.

* * *

Shuffling steps. A hunched figure in the shadows. The girl was half-curled in a fetal position, eyes wide and unseeing. She could have been dead, but for the tears streaming from her eyes and the trembling lower lip.

“Your problem, girl, is that you have no imagination, no ability to see the consequences of your choices. So very typical. Arrogance of youth.”

She spat and the rancid spittle slid down the girl’s cheek as the crone shuffled back into the shadows.

Originally posted at Clarity of Night.