momebie: (Cowboy Bebope Spike/Julia)
Original fiction.
~1500 words.

This entry follows directly after this post. Though, if you missed it, you might need some of the information from this interlude.

. . .

“There is something I do want to know, if we're done with the questions,” Mattie said.

The Or across the table put down her pen and crossed her hands over the pad, blocking Mattie's vision of the words that were written there. “Yes?”

“Who are you?”

“What do you mean? I'm Or.”

Mattie shook her head. “No, who are you really? Because if you were Or I'd be able to see your halo. Unless you people have learned how to hide parts of your souls along everything else you've fabricated.”

The Or looked down at her hands and smiled. “Why didn't you tell your male friend there was something wrong? Don't you want him here to save you?”

Do I need saving? )

This post was written for Topic 24: Bats in the Belfry at [ profile] therealljidol. Please let me know what you think. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (Sisyphus has never had a gf)
Original fiction.
~1700 words.

Or crawled up onto the table and made herself comfortable. The pillow for her head always seemed to be a little too far away on its extendable metal arm, which kept her stretched and at attention even when she was lying down. The doctor joked that he would improve that in the next model. The Dolls that looked like her would be taller by just a couple centimeters. Not enough to be noticeable, but enough to make them more comfortable when they were being poked and prodded.

“And why should they have all the comfort when I'm the original?” Or leaned forward so that he could apply sensors to the base of her neck. “Shouldn't being real have some perks?”

“Ah, my dear, but that is a perk,” he said. “Being alive is incredibly discomforting. It's how we can tell ourselves apart from the Dolls.”

“About the only way if you get this to work.”

“Sit still,” he said. The doctor smoothed her hair back before applying the electrodes to her forehead. “Besides, they still won't have souls. We can't fabricate that. We don't even know if we'll be able to teach them to learn. They may just stumble around being the you from today. Be glad that's not a fate you have to endure. )

This post was written for Topic 23: Pass the Ammunition at [ profile] therealljidol. This week's piece is an interlude in the universe I've been working with. It's set in Or's point of view instead of Mattie's, but it's information you'll need later, I promise. Man, I cannot wait until I can revamp this whole thing. This week at LJI we have three way intersections! I'm working with [ profile] cheshire23, whose piece can be found here, and [ profile] basric, whose piece can be found here! Please go and let them know what you think.
momebie: (Inception JGL alone)
Original fiction.
~1700 words.
This week on LJ Idol is another intersection. This fiction entry has been written to correspond with the non-fiction entry that [ profile] comedychick has written. You can read hers here. I highly recommend that you do.

This story is another installment of the ongoing serial. It follows directly after the last LJ Idol post.

. . .

They didn't have to cover a lot of distance to get back to the headquarters, but Mattie had never been on a motorcycle before so the trip felt like it lasted for ages. The wind fingered wildly through her hair and coarsely brushed her exposed skin. She shivered and clutched tighter to Chet, burying her cheek into his back and closing her eyes. The sound buffeted around her and she let the landscape create itself in her mind. It was there, somewhere between flying and fainting, that she realized that this little trip into someone else's life could get her killed. She found that, when she really thought about it, this wasn't a possibility that scared her.

Mattie had never given a thought to the notion that she'd live even this long. )

This continuation of ridiculous fiction was written for Topic 22: Playing the Odds at [ profile] therealljidol. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (Death Note Light/L fight)
Original fiction.
1300 words.
This post can be read in conjunction with [ profile] yachiru's entry for this week, for she is my intersect partner. It's not integral, but you should read hers anyway, because she is rad.

One shot was fired, but after that all Mattie heard was the beating of feet on soft earth and the rasping double breaths that she and Maynard were taking. Maynard wasn’t keeping up as well as she’d hoped he would. She stumbled over a root, unable to see in the minimal moonlight that was dripping through the forest canopy.

“Stop. Stop!” She reached out and caught the trunk of a small tree to try and slow her hurtling body.

Maynard came up just short behind her and collapsed to the ground, his legs giving way. “I’m sorry, I’m-“

“You’re shot. Just stop. Let me think.” Mattie paced around Maynard. “We were close to the bridge, so we have to be close to the river, right? These greenlands would jut up against it.”

“I hope.”

“Okay. I don’t think they’re following us. Or if they are they’re being really damned stealth about it. Let’s head this way, make it to the shoreline, and then see what we have to work with.” She bent down to help Maynard up. With his arm draped over her shoulders they continued on to the west in near silence, which Mattie was grateful for. She didn’t feel like talking, and even if she did she wouldn’t have anything to say.

Maynard wasn’t large, but Mattie wasn’t accustomed to carrying people of any type, so by the time she heard the soft licks of running water her arms and back were almost numb. As they broke out of the tree line she saw that they weren’t far from one of the walking bridges. Unlike the bridges built for vehicular traffic, with their retinues of armed guards checking for paperwork, the walking bridges weren’t guarded by anyone. The powers that be assumed that if anything happened, the fisherman and loiterers would report it. After all, it’s just what good citizens did. Mattie squinted, trying to see into the distance. For now the bridge appeared to be empty. Mattie sent a quick prayer up to the First Diviner and hurried across the small beach and down to the concrete path underneath the head of the bridge.

“Fancy a swim?” Maynard said, as she propped him up against one of the concrete struts. He got half a laugh out before wincing and curling in on himself. “I may have been lying about being able to run.”

“So I noticed,” Mattie said. She cursed herself for not having thought to bring a phone, or even a jacket, as they left her apartment. She sat down heavily next to Maynard. “I’m all out of ideas.”

“If Or called ahead and told them that we’re coming, they might be anticipating our arrival.”

“Anticipating our arrival and sending out a search party are two different things.” She dropped her head into her hands. “Diviner’s Breath, what are we going to do?”

“Well I wouldn’t sit there like that, you’ll freeze to death.”

Mattie looked up. There was a stranger there, silhouette backlit by the light thrown from the lamps on the bridge, and standing just outside of the shadows. “It’s nothing,” she said. “We’ll be out of here before you even get your pole set up. You don’t have to worry about us scaring the fish off.”

“That’s considerate of you,” he said, stepping into the shadow so Mattie could make out his features. “I don’t want to impose, but your friend there? That doesn’t look like nothing.” He dropped down to one knee and slid his backpack off his shoulders and onto the ground in front of him.

Mattie leaned in to study him. She pretended to be taking stock of Maynard’s wounds. The man was in all black and about Maynard’s build, with short blond hair and pale skin. “I said we’re not going to bother you.”

“That’s good,” he said, his voice light. “I want to get this over with as quickly as possible.”

“I would hope that in return you won’t bother us,” Mattie said. She pulled her lips tight and tried to look down her nose at him in disapproval, even though he was hovering above her.

“Yep, I’ll get out of your hair. Let you get back to your little date,” he said. He pulled something from his bag and placed it on the ground between them. It was a grey, round disc, with buttons flush against its outer flanks and the word ZILCH clearly marked on the top in bold, white letters. “Just as soon as I fix your boyfriend there.” He pressed one of the buttons and the disc began to hum. A faint green glow crept out from under it.

Maynard coughed and Mattie instinctively reached up and brushed his hair away from his wet forehead. “Lean back,” she said to him, keeping her voice low. “I don’t think he’s going to hurt us.”

“He couldn’t do much more to me,” Maynard said. Mattie pried his fingers away from where they were gripping his shins and pushed him back.

“Hold this,” the man said, and passed Mattie the disc. She gripped it gingerly by the edges, trying to keep her fingers away from the light. “The name’s Chet, by the way.”

“Chet,” Mattie echoed. He tugged up Maynard’s shirt and slowly pulled the gauze away from the wound. The area underneath was a horror scene. Blood was clotted and clogged around the hole, and smeared around his abdomen and chest. Mattie looked away. “How did you find us?”

“Our special friend bugged you. When we saw that you had deviated from a path that would bring you to us, we set out to find you and bring you back.” He took the disc from Mattie and held it over Maynard’s wound. As she watched the blood started to dissolve. The hole even seemed to close up some. “I can’t heal him entirely here in the field, but I can get it started. We’ve got a ways to go since not all three of us will fit on my motorcycle. I didn’t expect there to be two of you.”

“She didn’t tell you about both of us?”

Chet didn’t answer. The light on the disc turned red and he hit one of the buttons, turning off the humming sound. He reached around to place it in his backpack. There was a soft beep. “Yeah, there’s two here,” she heard him say. “Send another cyclist.”

“What did she tell you?” Mattie had been told many, many times in her life that she shouldn’t push people for answers, but all things considered, she felt like she deserved to know.

Chet sat down cross legged next to Maynard and ran his finger lightly around the wound. “She said there would be a girl. She said you’d have tattoos. Important tattoos.”

Mattie self-consciously pulled at the strap of her shirt to try and cover her marks. “They’re not important at all. They’re willful.”

Chet leaned forward over Maynard, who was slumped against the strut with his eyes closed. Mattie couldn’t tell if he was paying attention to them or not. “Sometimes our will is all we have,” Chet said softly.

Above them Mattie could make out the sounds of an engine. It chugged for a moment and then stilled to silence.

“That will be the cavalry.” Chet got up and pulled his backpack over his shoulders. “Let’s go, sleepy pants,” he said, and pulled Maynard up to his feet. Maynard let out a soft groan, but he didn’t seem to be in as much pain as before.

Mattie hung under the bridge for a moment before following them up into the light. She felt like she was standing on the edge of a cliff. Any wrong move could drive her back into the hands of those who wanted her. She heard voices murmuring above her. “Here goes nothing,” she said to herself, and stepped out into the open.

This continuation of ridiculous fiction was written for Topic 21: Open Topic at [ profile] therealljidol. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (Yellow gun)
Oh hey! I didn't give up! I owe Em and Stevie cookies for telling me not to. It seriously came easier than I thought it would. This LJ Idol entry follows immediately after the last one.

Original fiction.
~1000 words.

Mattie helped Maynard climb into the back of the cab as Or pre-paid the driver and told him where to take them. “Are you sure you don't want us to take you to the hospital?” Mattie whispered.

Maynard shook his head. “This is the most exciting thing I've ever been a part of. You think I'm going to let you run off with that mysterious woman and have all the fun?”

“I'm sending you to a safe house outside the border of this node,” Or said, bending over and sticking her head into the back of the cab. “Hopefully our shooter is just after me for the time being and you can play clueless. If you're accosted tell them that I broke in, that I held a gun to your head, anything.”

Mattie nodded. “Yeah, we'll do that.”

Or stood for an extra several moments and looked at Mattie. She was hanging halfway out of the back of the cab in a way that seemed incredibly uncomfortable. Mattie found herself shifting forward towards Or, ever so slightly.

“Or,” Maynard said.

She tilted her head and squinted. “Yeah, sorry. I'm going. I'll meet up with you in a couple of hours. Do not leave the safe house under any circumstances.” She slammed the door and stepped up onto the curb. The cab pulled away.

Mattie watched the apartment blocks and houses as they went by. She thought about how she'd never really noticed them before, even though she'd looked at them all hundreds of times in her daily comings and goings. They suddenly seemed prominent, as if they were asserting their will onto the landscape. Mattie felt like they were trying to teach her something.

The cabby turned the radio on and it began playing an old Jazz standard. Someone's girl had done 'em wrong. She was the direct cause of his affair with the bottle. “Is there anything that women don't get blamed for?” Mattie asked.

Maynard scratched his chin and pretended to be confused. “I'm sure I've never blamed a woman for anything.”

“Except for when I dumped the coffee all over the floor.”

“I didn't blame you for that. Though, I suppose I should have blamed Or, which would have been about the same, all things considered. It was her that startled you that night, wasn't it?”

Mattie stubbornly stared away from him and didn't acknowledge the comment.

“You think she knows?”

“I think I could I could probably write a set of encyclopedias on the things she knows that I don't.”

“That's part of the attraction, isn't it?”

Mattie shook her head. “Not really.” Because it wasn't. Her infatuation had started so long ago that it wasn't possible for the two things to be related. Not in a way that made sense, anyway. Then as an after thought she said, “you won't tell anyone, will you?”

“You mean, will I rat you out to the people who apparently just shot me? No, that's not something you need to worry about. Not even if I could see your halo.” He squeezed her elbow and she smiled at her reflection in the side window.

The cab pulled to a stop outside of a warehouse building. Mattie looked at the cabby, confused. “This isn't outside the node.”

The cabby gripped the steering wheel and stared forward. “This is your stop, young lady,” he said.

There was a knock on her window and when Mattie turned she was staring down the barrel of a small handgun. It had an infinity symbol at the tip of it. She felt Maynard shift away behind her.

“Get on out now, girly,” the man behind the gun said. “I think you've got some things to tell us.”

“I don't have anything to tell you!” She locked the door. The man cocked the hammer.

“The thing is, precious, I think you do. But I'm not above shooting you or your boyfriend. Now don't let's be silly. Get out of the cab!”

Mattie heard someone choke and turned her head to see Maynard hovering off of the back seat, his arm wrapped around the cabby's throat. “Drive!” he shouted. “Drive now or I will kill you, and it won't matter how much money you've been paid!” The cab lurched forward and the man with the gun let out two shots. One of which shattered the back window.

Maynard was thrown back against his seat and the cabby leaned forward into his steering wheel. “You touch me again and I'll have your balls,” he seethed. “I don't owe you nothin'.”

“No,” said Mattie, “we owe you. Now take us where you were supposed to.” She was thrown into the door of the cab as it took a sharp left turn. When she pulled herself back upright she could see another car gaining on them from behind.

“We're only a short way off from the bridge!” Maynard shouted. “We'll never get through clearance looking like we're evading the authorities though.”

The cabby took another sharp corner and launched Mattie into Maynard's side. Maynard yelped as her elbow hit his wound. “Stop,” she said. “Stop!”

The cab skidded to a halt at a red light. They were in the outskirts of the node. There were few buildings to hide in, but more wooded park area to get lost in.

“I can run,” Maynard said, guessing at what she was going to ask.

“Good,” she said. “We're going to have to.” Mattie scrambled with the lock on the door before she finally got it to pop up. She launched herself out of the cab just as the car following them came around the corner. It didn't have enough time to stop. Maynard was on her heels. There was a screech of tires and the crumpling, mangling sound of steel collapsing on itself. Without looking back, Mattie ran for the tree line. Her lungs started to burn as she gulped for air.

This continuation of ridiculous fiction was written for Topic 29: Whisper at [ profile] therealljidol. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (SH Watson Deduce his case)
Original fiction.
906 words.

If you're keeping track, this bit of story follows directly after my last LJ Idol post.

. . .

Or was out of her chair the moment Mattie started screaming and had her hand clamped tight across Mattie's mouth in a matter of seconds. “Hush,” she said, letting the final shh sound linger. “Breathe. We can't help him if we lose our heads, and that will only get the rest of us into deep shit.”

Mattie nodded her head and swallowed down another shout. She was shaking, she realized. When Or released her she said, “is he dead?”

Or moved around the bed. She placed her fingertips to the side of his neck and leaned over his half open lips. Then she moved down and pushed his shirt up his chest. “I need you to go into my jacket and get the the metal cylinder.”

“Is it safe?”

“No,” Or said. “Nothing is safe anymore.” When Mattie hesitated she said “he will die if we don't do something. Go.”

Mattie dropped to her knees and crawled across the living room below the sight line of the bare windows. She pulled Or's jacket off the back of the couch and rummaged around in both outside pockets before checking the one inside the lapel. The metal cylinder in question was about the size of a magic marker. It was cold and smooth. She clutched it in her palm as she crawled back to the bedroom.

Or held her hand out and Mattie placed the cylinder into it. Mattie watched as she flicked one end around like she was unscrewing a cap, and then shook the thing several times. She passed it over Maynard's wound. The glow was dim at first, and Mattie was sure her eyes were playing tricks on her, but it grew stronger, and as it did a picture formed in the space above Maynard's body. It flipped and flickered, like it was at the bottom of a pool of water.

“Mirror imaging retinal activated guise elector,” Or muttered. “I tell it what I want to see and it maps and recreates the image using phosphorescent and electro-luminescent nanotech. The MIRAGE software is still being developed, but it's good enough for a bullet wound. Do you have any tweezers?”

“I-” Mattie tried to understand what Or had said, but decided it would be best to leave the epiphanies for non-life or death situations. “Yeah, yeah.” By the time she returned with them Or had used one of her pillowcases to clear up some of the blood and was manipulating the picture above Maynard's body with her hands. Mattie handed Or the tweezers.

Maynard inhaled deeply and choked. He had a coughing fit that made his whole body jump.

“Hold him,” Or said.

Mattie nodded and sat down on the bed next to Maynard. She rested her hands on his shoulders. “Hey, hey,” she said. “I'm here. You're going to be okay.” She pressed one of the pillowcases into his hand. “Squeeze this.”

“It hurts,” he said, and coughed again.

“Tell him to stop moving or I'm going to remove parts of his appendix instead of this bullet,” Or snapped. Maynard groaned and shut his eyes, but he held still. When she had the bullet she said, “the hole's relatively small. We should be okay if you have some gauze and a way to hold it down. Clean it with alcohol if you have any.”

“I might have some alcohol,” Mattie said. “Where are you going?”

Or was back at the computer desk, wiping the bullet down with some tissue and running her magic metal wand over it. “Look,” she said. “If we want to get out of here any time soon he needs to be fixed and we need to know where to go. I'm taking care of one of those things already.”

Maynard pushed against Mattie's hands until she let him sit up. “I can handle the clean up, I think,” he said. “Have to make up for that unmanly display.”

Or turned to look at him. “You might be okay, Waiter Boy.”

“How do you know I'm a waiter?” he said.

“You wear it well,” she said, and then turned back to her device.

Maynard looked at Mattie, who shrugged and took the bloody pillowcase out of his hand. “Your vodka's in the freezer, yeah Mat?”

“Yeah,” she said.

Maynard stood up and pulled his shirt over his head, wincing as he stretched. He left the room and Mattie waited until she could hear him banging around in the kitchen before she spoke again. “Know where we're going yet?”

“Hm,” Or said.

Mattie slid off the bed and went to hover behind Or in her desk chair. She was holding a small, yellow piece of paper in her fingers. The bullet and metal wand were set to the side of the keyboard. “What is that?”

“A prayer.”

Mattie felt her stomach turn over. “The bullet was blessed? They can't just shoot people anymore, they have to apply some apocryphal force to it all?”

“Not quite,” Or said. “It's a prayer of freedom. Whoever made this bullet, at least, wants to be set free. It's likely that we weren't the intended targets.”

“That doesn't make any sense.”

“You haven't seen Not Making Sense yet, kid.”

This continuation of ridiculous fiction was written for Topic 19: Mirage at [ profile] therealljidol. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (Cowboy Bebop Vicious bleed)
Original fiction.
~1100 words.

For those of you following along, I've finally named The Waiter. We're calling him Maynard. This follows closely after my last LJ Idol entry, which can be found here.

* * *

Maynard ran his finger across Mattie's collarbone, pausing over the small, round tattoo just below it. The touch tickled. She squirmed, pulling away slightly, and he took it as an invitation. His lips followed the line as his fingers pushed the strap of her bra down her shoulder. Mattie wasn't sure what she was feeling, but none of those feelings were sexy. Or needed. Or wanted. She just kept thinking about Or and her heavily lidded eyes and light skin.

“Mayn,” she said, and placed a hand flat against his chest.

Maynard stopped and pulled back. He propped himself up on his elbow and looked down at her. One of his fingers traced its way down her side, as if he was afraid to let her go. “Yeah?”

“I'm sorry, I just.”

“No, it's fine. It's fine.” He leaned in and kissed her on the nose. “I know I don't glow for you. I'm just trying to be the perfect distraction.” He nipped at her chin and she laughed, pushing him over as she sat up.

“It's not like I glow for you either.” She straightened her bra strap and sighed. “What are we doing?”

“Killing time,” he said. “Slow and easy.”

“Just the way it was meant to die,” she said.

“Is there something eating at you, Mattie my girl? You seem farther away this evening.”

“Nothing.” She sighed and flopped back on her pillow. “Everything. You weren't far off when you asked if I'd seen a ghost. I have. I've been seeing it for a week now, here and there. It won't leave me be.”

“Is there anything for it?”

“Not really. I've been...censoring myself since I was very young. Things happen sometimes that I don't know how to deal with, so I lose them. I make the decision to cast them to sea so I'm not weighed down by them.”

“Except they're never really gone, are they?”

“No, not really. I pretend I'm fine for long periods of time, until something floats to the surface and reminds me of who I used to be.”

“That sounds lonely,” he said.

“Sometimes loneliness is just a part of surviving.”

Maynard opened his mouth to answer, but anything he might have said was drowned out by a pounding on the door. “What the hell?” he said finally.

Mattie shrugged and tumbled out of bed, finding her balance as she went. There was more pounding as she made her way through the kitchen. “All right already!” She opened the door with the chain on, giving her two inches of space to investigate.

Or was on the other side. She placed her face right against the crack. “Let me in,” she said. “You have to let me in.”

Mattie didn't think she had to do anything, but Or seemed to be legitimately startled, which threw her. She closed the door, undid the chain, and then opened it again. Or rushed in and slammed the door shut behind her, redoing the chain and throwing the deadbolt.

When Mattie turned around Maynard was in the living room. “What is going on here?”

Or turned to look at him. Mattie was suddenly aware that neither of them was wearing very much. Or raised an eyebrow, but she didn't bring attention to what she may have interrupted. Instead she pulled off her red gloves and shucked her black pea coat, dropping her things onto Mattie's couch. “I'm sorry for the interruption, but I seem to have gotten into a spot of trouble.”

“Okay,” Maynard said slowly. He ran his hand through his hair and and looked helplessly at Mattie for a moment before returning to the bedroom.

Mattie stood in the center of the living room, her arms wrapped around her waist, and waited for an explanation. Or huddled on the edge of the the couch and looked Mattie up and down. The corner of her mouth turned up and Mattie suddenly felt warm.

Maynard returned then, and chucked a shirt at Mattie. “Right,” he said. “Who are you, and what's this about?”

Or waited until Mattie was clothed again before answering. “I'm being tracked,” she said.

“Tracked? You mean followed.”

“No, tracked. Like an animal. I'm sure they mean to kill me eventually as well.”

“What the hell,” Mattie said, echoing Maynard. “What have you done?”

“I haven't done anything, yet. But those fuckers are going to get theirs when I get to the bottom of all of this.”

“The bottom of what?” Maynard flipped his hand in Or's direction. “Mattie, what is going on?”

“I don't know,” she said. Because she didn't. To Or she said, “how did you find my apartment?”

“The same way I find everything. Research, Mattie, research. Please keep up, because I don't want to die tonight.”

“No one is going to die here,” Maynard said. “I'm going to turn the light on. All of us standing here in the dark is ridiculous.”

“No!” Or leaped up from the couch and grabbed his wrist. “No, don't. I don't want you to draw any attention here. Not until I can find out who it is exactly that I'm dealing with. Does either of you have a computer?”

“Yeah,” Mattie said. “In here.” She led Or through to the bedroom and turned on the old desktop machine. “I barely use the thing.”

Or sat down in the desk chair and then looked back at Mattie over her shoulder. “I find that hard to believe,” she said.


“Why do you have one of the Diviner's Marks tattooed on your chest?”

“That's not—”

“It most definitely is my business. Especially now that they're trying to kill me.”

"Why would the Diviner's be trying to kill you?"

Instead of answering Or slapped the side of the computer, which was being slow to start. “Come on!”

Out in the living room Mattie heard glass break. “What the hell?” she said again, her voice tighter in her throat this time. It seemed to be the only response she could muster to the mad alternate universe she'd just been dropped in. Before she could make it out of the room Maynard trundled in and collapsed against her. She swayed under his weight. It took a moment for the wetness between them to register. His shirt was wet. She pushed him away and saw that there was a dark, rapidly growing stain on the front of his shirt.

When she looked down she saw that the front of her shirt was now wet as well. The stain looked dark purple in the bluish glow from the computer screen. Maynard stumbled backwards onto the bed and passed out.

Mattie screamed.

This bit of fiction was written for Topic 18: Jetsam at [ profile] therealljidol. Thank you to [ profile] paragraphs for helping me name The Waiter. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (WS Bucky Awake)
Original Fiction.
896 words.

This follows pretty immediately after my last LJI two posts. If you missed them Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

. . .

They sat in the relative silence for a few moments. Mattie willed the Universe to give her more time and a sharper wit and fewer reservations. The world continued to happen around them in a more or less normal flow. “I don’t believe I’ve seen you around here before,” she said.

Or didn’t answer right away. Mattie appreciated the fact that she was letting the moment hang between them a little longer. She stretched into it. When Or finally answered the words were quiet and halting. “I used to live here, many years ago. I don’t suppose you would remember me. Now I’m back on business.”

“What kind of business brings you to a place like this?”

“I’m investigating a series of disappearances. One of the victims was originally from my jurisdiction, so the local IF have had to let me have the run of the town here. They’re not pleased about it.”

“Most people tend to be distrustful of outsiders.”

“Most people here do,” Or said.

Mattie stood up. She dropped her cigarette onto the ground and stepped on it, squashing out the hot orange tip. She was standing several steps below Or, which made her seem a full head shorter. Or was looking down at her in the same way Mattie’s mother used to look down at her if something in the house had gone broken or missing. The look wasn’t exactly accusatory, but it was curious, probing. It made Mattie uncomfortable. “This person who went missing, who was it? I haven’t seen any notices.”

“No, you haven’t. No one has. I don’t think it’s a person they’re really concerned with finding.”

“Was it a criminal?”

Or considered the question for a moment before she answered. “No. At least, not by our laws. Your city has some rather…interesting ideas about who is a criminal and who isn’t. It’s the only city that still has Idealism on the books as a criminal offense.”

“We do like our traditions.”

“Quite,” Or said. She dropped her cigarette onto the step below and moved down to where Mattie was, just above street level. The butt lay undisturbed, sending up a miniature smoke signal into the darkness.

Mattie quelled the urge to stamp it out. “Am I being interrogated?”

“No, but I wouldn’t mind if you answered some questions.” Or stepped in close and Mattie could almost feel the light from her halo. It made her delirious to think that this soft, gentle light that settled about Or’s cheeks was invisible to its owner. All she wanted to do was reach up and skitter a finger across the curve of Or’s jaw.

Instead she shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her jacket and said, “what kind of questions?”

“Do you remember an old man who used to sit on these steps? One with tattoos that represented the Diviners’ Trials?”

Mattie eyed the doors of the Diviner’s House. “I don’t think this is the place to discuss this.” She was much too old to be dragged into the Head Diviner’s office and whipped for associating with the wrong sort, but that didn’t mean the leaders didn’t have ways of getting to her.

“Your apartment then?”

“That’s forward of you. I assume you have a hotel room of your own, if you really don’t want to discuss it in public.”

Or shrugged. “It’s most likely bugged. Besides,” she stepped closer and Mattie had to force herself to stand her ground. “I know you have some questions you’d like to ask me as well.”

“Why would I have questions for a complete stranger?” Mattie said.

“And here I thought you were a bright girl.” Or stepped down onto the sidewalk and Mattie tried not to shiver at the loss of her light. She stood and looked up at Mattie for a few breaths, but when Mattie didn’t respond she turned and started to walk away.

Mattie watched her go, trying to force the words out. “All right,” she said, unsure of whether or not Or could hear her. “You can come by.”

Or didn’t turn around. “Ta!” she shouted, as she continued her retreat. Mattie watched as one of her red gloves flitted up over her shoulder in a quick gesture of dismissal. Framed against the dark of the street and faintly illuminated by Or’s halo, the color looked ominous. It placed a single welt mark on Mattie’s future.

She took a deep breath and exhaled, trying to calm her nerves. She didn’t know when she’d started gently vibrating, but now she couldn’t get it to stop. She was so preoccupied with cataloguing the various ways in which Or made her uncomfortable that she didn’t hear her waiter friend come up behind her.

“What are you doing out so late?” he said. “You look like you’ve seen another ghost.”

Mattie jumped and let out a short yelp. “Diviner’s Sorrows,” she said. “Don’t sneak up on a girl like that.”

He merely smiled and held out his hand. She pulled hers from her jacket pocket and gripped his fingers tight. More tightly than she’d meant to.

“Hey, hey,” he said. “Remember to breathe. You’re not drowning.”

“I don’t know,” she said. Mattie looked down the sidewalk in the direction Or had gone and imagined she could still see the shadow of her frame. “If I am, will you pull me out?”

This bit of fiction was written for Topic 17: Open Topic at [ profile] therealljidol. All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (Mighty Boosh Gayist)
Original Fiction.
~1,500 words.
Because the one from last week got fairly good reviews and people asked for more. It just gets weirder the further I go, kids. I hope it's still interesting to you.

The next time Mattie saw the halo she was sitting in the back pew of the Diviner's House watching the Choral Cantata of Hours. The Cantata of Hours was based loosely on the one original Diviner, who had found his way across the ridges of a great canyon in total darkness without falling over the edge. It was said that he had been blessed by the land itself with the ability to feel out the core of the earth. They said that he vibrated, the closer he got to it. Mattie didn't know how she felt about the mythology, but she was certain that she had felt a vibrating like that at times in her life before.

As she opened her eyes after the Diviner's Benediction, she saw a low, wavering glow out the corner of her vision. Mattie turned her head. It was the woman.

Mattie couldn't think of the woman as anything but her. She was the woman she'd seen the other day, but at the same time, she was also the girl Mattie had been so smitten with those fifteen years ago. Mattie couldn't reconcile these two people in her mind. Instead of trying, she turned back to the choir and closed her eyes again, nodding her head slowly in time.

* * *

The Old Man was sitting outside of the Diviner's House and Mattie hung back, not sure if she should risk entering. )

This strange little continuation of last week's bit of fiction was written for Topic 16: Open Topic at [ profile] therealljidol. Much thanks goes to [ profile] kyasuriin for making me think entirely too hard at 1 am. ♥ All comments and questions are welcome.
momebie: (Cowboy Bebope Spike/Julia)
Original fiction.
862 words.

Mattie so desperately wanted the Radiance to be a trick of the light.

The woman was standing at the crosswalk and waiting for the light to change. She had her back to the coffee shop where Mattie was sitting, hunched over a journal, trying busily to knit together a single story from several different threads of thought. The outside precipitation, for its part, was coming down in light mists that swirled in the wind. Its separate particles could be seen so clearly under the street lamps that Mattie was sure that what she was seeing was the reflection of the lights bouncing off the scattered water particles in the air.

The light changed. The woman moved on. Her halo moved with her.

Mattie was so startled by the realization that the reddish-gold nimbus perched above the woman's head was an actual Radiance that she jumped and knocked over her coffee. The liquid seeped into the pages of her journal, dyeing them brown and obscuring some of the words entirely as the fresh ink spread and explored the new avenues created for it by the puddles. As the woman moved away the halo perched above her head glided through space. It was a ghost, an echo of a memory Mattie had spent fifteen years trying to repress. It took up space, but it didn't have any affect on that space.

* * *

When children are taught the first Rules of Radiances they are taught that they are non-negotiable.

1. The local deity of each dome marks every child with a Radiance not long after his/her birth.
2. Each Radiance corresponds with the Radiance of another child, and when their frequencies meet they will glow.
3. If a person sees another person's Radiance then they are obligated to tell the other person.
4. If both parties can see the Radiance of the Other then the two must join together in partnership.

Mattie had copied those words down onto her paper along with every other child in the classroom. She felt that they were wise, true words. Two weeks later she saw her first Radiance.

It was an unusual event in two ways. First, children weren't supposed to be able to see people's Radiances until they were fifteen at the very least, and Mattie was eight. Second, you were only supposed to see the Radiances of people of the opposite gender, and the one Mattie had seen had definitely belonged to a girl. She asked her parents about it and they told her to stop telling stories. Didn't she know she was going to embarrass the whole family? She asked her teachers about it and they told her she was queer and unusual, but not to worry because she would probably grow out of it. The local deity must be trying to teach her something, or a neighbor deity could be playing a prank on her, as they sometimes did. She asked the Diviners about it and they suggested that she should consider a place in the priestesshood. Girls who saw the Radiances of other girls were often searching for the Great Mother of all gods, and could be easily chosen to do her work, despite the wait list.

Mattie didn't really consider any of these options fair, so she stopped asking about it. Eventually the girl's family moved to another dome and she didn't have to think about it anymore.

Throughout her teens she would stare extra hard at the boys in her classes and clubs in the desperate hope of seeing one of them shine.

* * *

When Mattie looked down again she realized there was a waiter crouched at the edge of her table trying to wipe the coffee off the floor. “Diviner's Hands, I'm sorry,” she said, and picked up her napkin to try and blot some of the coffee out of her journal.

“It's no problem,” the waiter said. “It's a slow night, so I'm just happy for something to do. You seem to have gotten quite a fright, though. Are you okay?”

“Yeah, fine.” She had to tell the woman what she'd seen. Mattie was obligated by law to tell the woman what she'd seen. Her stomach lurched. What if the woman could see hers too? They'd be sent into the priestesshood together. Mattie had so much to do before that could happen. Still, she had to say something.

She looked down at the waiter, who was still crouched by her table and looking up at her, concern plainly draped over his handsome face. She squinted her eyes a moment and then reached forward to touch his cheek with her coffee damp fingers. “I can see your Radiance,” she lied.

The waiter reached up and grabbed her fingers, enveloping them in his. “I can see yours, too.”

She was sure it was also a lie, but she didn't care. It was likely a small lie of kindness, punishable by nothing more than a written warning. And she couldn't be held responsible for the rules other people broke. Not when the rules that she broke left so much more on the line.

This entirely transparent piece of fiction that I'm blaming on [ profile] matthewbowers was written for Topic 15: Nimbus at [ profile] therealljidol. All comments and questions are welcome.


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February 2017

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