1.01.2017

The Wrath Rasps

“Do you think it would help us get to the hospital faster if I were angry?”  He turns the bitten hand over carefully, inspecting the tiny fang marks.  There is a purple tinge around the wound.
“No, but it might temporarily satisfy my urge for revenge.”
"Your urge."  Inky whispers.
Anna scowls.  “Against who?”
“Various snakes, bulls, and gods for trying to kill my best friend.”
“I'm glad you've decided to scratch me off your hate list.”  Her voice rattles.
“I figured it was the least I could do, what with you giving us a ride and everything.  But I still want to know how Bull got out here.”
“He's a jealous fucker who thinks he's my god damn brother, okay?  I don't pretend to understand how a man with metal screwed into his head thinks or if he even thinks at all.  It's just not my wheelhouse, if you know what I mean.”  She focuses back on the road.  “But okay, maybe I bitched to him about what you said, about what happened the first time I showed up and he got pissed and disappeared.  I was worried what he might do, and looks like I was right to be worried.”
An unbidden snarl crawls across your face.  “So he got mad because you told him I  wouldn't fuck you?”
“Guess what, shit head?  Last time I checked you don't have either a snake bite or a gore wound so maybe I don't have to give you a fucking ride.  Maybe you just need to  jump out the door right now or shut the fuck up and be glad you have a goddamn roof over your head, okay?”

12.24.2016

Pyro-tized

He grabs a twig and pokes methodically at the fire.  “She cares for you but you resent it.  Why not just enjoy her affection for what it is worth?”
“What is it worth?”
Inky lays down on his jacket and wiggles his toes towards the warmth.   “What is the effort of pushing her away worth?”
You look for some intact chips among the remnants at the bottom of the bag.  “Self determination.  Give the wrong people a chance and they'll flood you with their bullshit.”  You pull the bag out of the box and dump the crumbs into your mouth.  Seeing some dust still gathered at the bottom, you turn the bag over the fire and watch flames flash briefly.
“And the right people?  What do they give you?”
You toss the cardboard box into the fire.  It rests for a moment, untouched.  Then the  smoke comes from underneath and out the ends.  Finally, the container blossoms and is consumed by fire.  “More bullshit.. but bullshit that matches the bullshit I already enjoy.”

12.08.2016

Don't choke the spike!

Inky's left sleeve is turning red.  Bull charges again, this time swinging his fists.  Your brother ducks, wraps his arms around Bull’s legs and slams his shoulder to his opponent's stomach.  With no pause, he yanks hard at the back of Bull's knees, taking his feet off the ground.  As the bigger man falls, he grabs at a stray dread lock of Inky's hair and pulls him down on top of himself.
You rise up off your knee with a grunt.  Spotting the unused wood pile, you grab a wrist thick stick and hustle over to the fight.  Waiting for an untangled moment when you can discern friend from foe in the scramble, you crack Bull over the head with the stick, breaking the skin.  He yelps and disengages, scrambling to his feet.  Inky steps back.  Blood pours down the back of Bull's head, pooling into the collar of his jacket.  His eyes bounce arrhythmically.  The wind changes directions and the smoke from the fire blows into your face, causing your eyes to water.

11.15.2016

Nested, Storied, Ended.

“Adam tells the man where to find the purple bloom.  The man disappeared.  Adam went on making his food.  After he eats, he lays down and closes his eyes.  Just as he begins to dream the land beyond death, where people are clothed like birds and have wings for garments, a young man enters his house.  This man says he was the old man who had just come to visit him, reborn.  He had found the flower and eaten it.”  Inky stops to take a drink of water and passes the bottle to you.
“Adam sits up, opens his eyes wide and sees that it is, the same man.  He laughs for several minutes.  Then he lays down and drifts back to the land beyond death, with a smile on his face.”

11.08.2016

You know, the stuff you eat

Cedric and Kinzie start signing again, this time peering into the bags of gear that were scavenged early today.  Money changes hands.  Elle stands, breathing.
Kinzie grabs Elle’s hand and leads her out of the store.  They walk through the city together, taking main roads again.
“Time for food.”  Kinzie turns, signs and talks at Elle.
“Food?”  Elle blinks.
Kinzie stops and laughs.  “Yeah.  It helps me think more clearly.  Thinking clearly helps keep me alive.  Staying alive beats the alternative.”
“Why did you save some of the salvage?”  Elle asks.
“You noticed that?  I'll get a better price at the market for that stuff I saved than Cedrick could give me.”
Elle nods.
They stop at a food stall.  Kinzie orders them food.  The whole time, the man behind the counter is smirking at them.
They sit down on a set of stairs and eat.  “This food is amazing!”  Elle exclaims.
“That's because you're hungry.”
Elle shakes her head.  /No./  She signs while chewing.  “No.  It's not just that.  It's amazing.”
Kinzie shrugs.  “Food helps me think clearly.  Great food turns my thoughts into swords.”

11.01.2016

Forgetting, Dreaming and Climbing

“Finally, one of these broken men talks to Adam.  The man tells Adam about the flower of immortality at the top of the mountain.  Adam laughs and tells the man that he only seeks the summit, the challenge of climbing.  He has no need for a magic flower.  All his life he has answered to other people.  All his life he has been a servant to laws, traditions, wives, mothers, fathers, bosses, children and grandchildren.  Now he wants to carve the rest of his life out for himself.”  Inky moves on to sorting big chunks of wood and you begin digging a fire pit.
“Adam climbs the mountain for a week.  Each day he encounters one hundred people, all of them coming down.  Each day one of the hundred stops to talk.  The talkers all tell of the impossibility of getting the flower.  On the night of the seventh day of his climb, he knows the next day he will summit and swears to himself that he will get the flower.”

10.04.2016

Page 20

Through the window, Kinzie signs at her.  /Hey.  Come here./
Elle walks through the side door.  The store has a smell she can't place.  Not bad.  Not good either.  Odd.  Distinct.
“Cedrick.  This is my friend Elle.”  Kinzie slows her signing down.
Cedrick nods.  /Nice to meet you./
Elle holds her breath and signs back. /Nice to meet you./
He turns to Kinzie and begins signing quickly.  Elle catches that there is a question about her.  Maybe where she is from?  Kinzie signs back with equal speed.  All she catches is the signs for meet and friend.
They look at her again.  Cedric signs and Kinzie translates.  “You look familiar.  Have we met before?”
“No.  I mean, I don't think so.”
“But you're not sure?”
“I'm sure I don't remember meeting you.”
Cedric and Kizie exchange a look.
“And where are you from?”
“I… I don't know.”
Cedric nods and starts signing again with Kinzie.  More about Elle and then several times a sign that looks like little wings sprouting from their shoulders is exchanged back and forth.  When they turn back to Elle, she copies the wings sign and furrows her eyebrows.
“Angel.”  Kinzie says.