Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Moved on over to http://someprettythings.com/blog. Come on by.

Monday, September 28, 2009

part two of one

Ganry smeared thick fat under his nose, but he could still smell it, the reek of dead flesh in hot sun. The village was filled with bodies, and bits of bodies. Men, women, children, animals; they were all hacked to death, or had their skulls caved in, or had been pierced with spears, or a combination of the three. Even he has retched at getting out of his wagon, though Myst had tapped on his door to warn him ahead of time what the scouts had found. At least he didn't have to touch the carnage - Ameera had charged him with finding anything flammable while the others stacked the bodies on a roughly made pyre and the younger ones collected sticks and straw. The pyre would need to burn quick and hot to consume a whole village.

He had emptied the inn of strong white spirits and only sampled enough wine to take away the headache. He could think of little else that would be of use. There was a chandlery close by the inn. the people in the villages had little need for writing and instead hung signs or clapboards with drawings on them. Ganry ducked below the creaking wooden board and entered the shop. Candles hung from the roof in rows, all shapes and sizes, and he had to tilt his head to avoid them. There was a door to a back room and he was moving towards it when he heard a growling noise coming from below his feet. Pushing aside a woven rug, he found a metal ring built into a groove in the floor and tugged it up.

Two sets of eyes peered out at him. A growling, half-grown pup with a dusty cream coat snapped at him and would have jumped out to bite, but a scrap of rope around his neck restrained him. The rope was held by a boy. He was young and he was dirty and he cowered away from Ganry as if he expected to be hurt. Ganry stared down and the child stared back, blinking at the light. The dog barked.

Myst came in. Ganry wondered if Ameera had sent him to check up on the amount of wine missing from the taproom.
"Gods be praised, a survivor! Come with me boy, I'll take you to Ameera."
The boy, who looked no more than 8 summers, allowed himself to be lifted into the lead hand's strong arms and carried off into the daylight to where the wagons had been pulled up.
Ganry found himself holding the dog's leash. The dog looked at him and growled. He dropped the rope.
"Nice dog?" he said. The pup scratched himself and ambled off, the rope trailing in the dirt behind him. Ganry shrugged and got on with his work.

Later, the flames had roared up to claim the unfortunate villagers and the well stocked inn was emptied. There had not been enough wine to erase the memory of the scorching smell of hair and flesh from the pyre and Ganry was sitting alone, lamenting that he had not secreted away a bottle of the white spirits. Myst approached him.
"Where's the dog?" he said.
"The pup that the boy had. He wants it. keeps crying for it, and for his mam. Not likely to get her back, so Ameera wants the dog."
"Shit, I let the damn thing go."
"Well, we best go and find it boss, or Ameera wont be happy with either of us."
The big man clasped Ganry's forehand and hauled him up with ease. They left the village square and its circle of firelight uneasily. Who knew what could be there in the dark.

It didn't take a long time to find the yellow dog. It had curled up in a corner of the chandlery. Myst took up its leash and it gambolled around his legs, eager to play. Myst tripped and the dog ran out the rear door of the chandlery into a small plot. As Ganry chased it clumsily, he tripped in the darkness and landed with his nose in mud, inches away from a dark bundle of rags. The dog wandered over and licked at the bundle and then at Ganry.
"Get away, dog!" he yelled as he gathered himself and scraped the dirt from his face. he looked down at the rags and swore.
"It's a baby." Myst said, aghast.
"It's covered in blood" said Ganry, sniffing at the mud on his hands. "Bled out by the looks of it. Who would kill a baby?"
"Bring it," Myst said, sadly and he picked up the dog's rope again. "it will burn with the others."
Ganry shuddered. he wished he had been the one to grab the dogs fraying rope, dirty as it was. He leaned down and gingerly picked up the sodden bundle. It weighed almost nothing and felt damn and cold. A spray of sparks from the fire showed the infant's face was crusted with blood. He turned and started to move back to the square, holding his morbid prize at arms length. Myst walked in front and the dog trotted beside him. As they rounded the corner of the chandlery, the infant opened its eyes.

Ganry promptly dropped it and a loud cry reverberated around the square, breaking the sombre quiet of those still gathered around the fire. Myst jumped as if he had been stung.
"Shit Ganry, it's alive! Pick it up."
Ganry stood, as if frozen. It had been dead. The child was dead. He still had its blood on his hands, on his face. And it had been so very cold. And those eyes.

Myst bent down and scooped up the screaming infant with his free hand. He cradled it to his chest and raced towards Mirryn, the herb woman, who beckoned him into her caravan. As the cries quietened, Ganry became aware that every eye was on him. He dropped his arms down to his sides. Maybe it had been the wine or the firelight or simply the long and dreadful day, but he could have sworn the child had silver eyes.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Part one of one

I've been holding this at the back of my brain, thinking it would be a good start for NaNoWriMo this year and then I realised that NaNo is still a whole month away and there is no way I'll hold onto it for that long. Very, very rough.

Ganry awoke when the wagon stopped. He could hear voices, without being able to make out the words. Light peeked through the gap around the curtains and lit up a parade of swirling dust motes in the air. He groaned. He hated waking while the sun was still up. And if it was still light they could not have reached anywhere decent enough to stop. Some of the children might tumble for a hot meal at farmsteads, but Ganry didn't venture out of the wagon for more than a privvy stop unless there was a crowd. Along this road there were only a few families, with miles and miles of the flat grazing land of the plains between them. He hated the vast emptiness of the plains, everything was so exposed.

There was a loud knocking on the door.
"Ganry? Boss? I think you'd better see this" It was Myst, the lead hand. Ganry liked that the older ones still called him boss, even though it was no longer him who handed out the coin every fortnight. The newer members of the troupe didn't understand the hardships he had suffered to keep the troupe going, what he had sacrificed; they had no respect.

He stepped haughtily through his doorway, a grand gesture somewhat crippled when he immediately threw up both hands to shade his face from the glittering sun. He was dizzy from the previous nights wine and standing upright increased his pounding headache.

There was something in the road, right where it met a long drive which snaked off into the distance. A few buildings, the same colour as the earth around them, were barely visible. Ganry pushed his way between Herc, the strongman, and some of the acrobats who grudgingly let him through. Lying there was a young man, one eye open and seemingly staring at the sun ahead, the other smashed to an oozing pulp along with half of his skull. His body had been pierced in a dozen or so places by a sword or a spear and a river of congealing blood ran down the slight slope towards the ditch at the side of the road. Ganry felt ill. He had never liked gore, although he had seen death well enough.

A horse, one of theirs, galloped up the drive and came to a sudden halt next to Ameera's wagon. She alone had not disembarked to stare at the body. The rider, Pers, looked pale.
"The same, Ma'am. I mean, all dead, but all butchered, Ma'am. So much blood." he stopped talking and leaned over his mounts neck to retch in the dust. The murmuring of the troupe became distinctly louder and Ganry's headache bloomed a fresh burst of pain.
"Myst, take some of the lads with stronger stomachs and ride back to the house," Ameera said softly; "Burn the bodies. They shouldn't be left for the animals. The rest of you, back on the road. There naught we can do here and the village waits ahead."

As the crowd dispersed Ganry knelt and drew a blessing rune on the mans undamaged cheek. He took no comfort in the gesture, the runes had long ceased to hold any meaning for him, but Myst saw as he came to hoist the body onto a spare buggy.
"Poor sod, I think he needs more than a blessing to help him on his way" said Myst.
"Poor us that's left to clean up" replied Ganry. He took out a damp cloth and wiped his finger and then spat. His spittle landed in the ooze of blood and fluids left by the corpse with a wet noise. Ganry shuddered as he turned back towards his wagon.

"Ganry? A moment?" Ameera was kind to make it a question. He hated to admit it, but she owned this troupe more wholly than he ever had and she let him remain more from pity than for any respect of his dried up talents. Her own personal mystic, too drunk to work often than not and too old to believe in it all anyway.
He climbed up beside her and she clucked to her horse. He was a prancing, showy thing; all glossy dark hair and rippling muscles. His own Velda was a solid and predictable beast. It had been a long time since he had given her any instruction - she plodded along with the troupe without need for his directions, stopping when the wagon in front of her stopped and never wandering far when she was unhitched. It meant he could sleep while the others were forced to drive, but he often wondered if her compliance showed loyalty or just meant she was stupid.

He sat at Ameera's side in silence. they rode a good distance before she spoke.
"A bad end that, for a lad."
Ganry didn't answer. He was sulky now at being forced to stay out in this sun and his headache meant his eyes couldn't focus properly.
"And that's the third along this road."
Ganry wondered what she meant, but still didn't speak.
"The third homestead found massacred," Ameera continued in a low voice, "Pers rode out ahead to each, to see if they had supplies to sell." Ganry nodded - farms were often cheaper to buy from than the village markets.
"I kept it quiet because i'll not have a panic, but that lad on the road could not be cleaned up quick enough. Pers is a good scout, but he can't handle blood. I am wondering who and why and whether it was a good idea to come out this far."
Ganry nodded and finally found his voice. "You know I hate it out here. Plains farmers are all crazy and they hoard their coin anyway."
"It made for a change, Ganry. Whether you admit it or not, change is sometimes a good thing. No one could have forseen this, not even you."
"Ha, no, certainly not me. Ganry the useless. Ganry the washed up." He started back down the side of the wagon, but Ameera caught his arm.
"I didn't call you here to gloat. I called you to ask if you had any idea who. Or what, perhaps."
Ganry considered. Although murder wasn't heard of in these parts, he couldn't imagine anyone he'd seen in the district in the eightweek they'd been circling these parts butchering whole families like this. Ameera seemed to genuinely want his opinion though, a circumstance that was becoming more and more rare.
"I don't know," he said, "I don't know and I think that makes it even more frightening."


Monday, September 21, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

There are
snatches of conversation.

Clocks move backwards. Inanimate objects switch places. I can move things with my brain.
Its as though all the cliches are coming true.

Everything is crooked and broken and dirty, so very unclean, and there is only so much I can do about it. I keep my hands still and my feet still and my blood continues to pump and my bones don't disintegrate. I am always surprised when I remember to breathe.

Everything has a reason, has a message and everything is trying to get through, but my head is too foggy and too clouded to understand, I am drowning, I am drowning.

I am coming undone.

I can feel the muscles and the tendon separating; I can feel the skin peeling back and the joints coming loose; I can feel my eyeballs leaking fluid and my cheeks wearing away; I can feel my hair falling out and my cilia burning off and my intestines dissolving.

I can feel nothing. If i am nothing, they wont want me anymore.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


At the beginning, my feet are cold. And the back of my neck where the wind has lifted my hair. The sand is gritty, but quiet under my feet. The entire beach is quiet; the usually raucous gulls are huddled together tightly in a depression in the sand, their backs to the wind. The waves are a dull slate colour, perforated with white foam caps and tiny bursts of spray where the waves hit the reef and the wind carries the droplets along in its heady rush to shore.

I walk. I lose myself in the rhythm of my steps. The wind is strong, but playful, wraping itself around me and teasing under the thick shetland isles knit I'm wearing especially to keep warm. My feet are numb now, the sand is merely pressure instead of tiny icy rocks. It's no longer winter, but the ocean doesn't know that yet.

Along the tideline a riff raff of jetsam awaits me. I slow, meandering up and down the sand bent double. There are blue snail shells with froth oozing from them, the snail's death throws as it drowns in the air. There are blue bottles with bright tentacles trailing along the sand behind them - they are the balloons and the tentacles the streamers - a poisoned birthday party. Sponges, partially drained of colour and pieces of broken bleached shell. Tendrils of seaweed slowly drying.

It surprises me when I round the point and find more beach. I know the bay is only a small part of a long chain of beachfront, but when I am approaching it seems as if the point marks the end of the world. I have stones in my bag, all smooth and polished by the salt water and the rough trip across the reef to the sand, and a few tiny shells with even smaller patterns decorating them. I have jars and jars of such treasures at home. It seems sacrilegious to leave them on the beach once they have caught my eye. I have done this all my life - combed the beach for the pretty or the unusual. When I was young, people would tell me that you always come back to the beach. I never believed them, but here I am, walking the same scalloped trail I toddled along as a baby and moped along as a teen.

When I clamber onto the reef I can feel the sharp rocks jabbing into the soft underneath of my feet. Eventually, my soles will toughen and callous. Until then I am glad the cold sand, the cold water and the icy wind have numbed them. They will bruise, but not badly. A man walks along the beach. The tide doesn't scare me, or the blue bottles or the poisonous reef dwellers or the endless stretch of grey sea, but I realise how vunerable I am, alone on the stretch beyond the point where no one goes. I wonder how loudly I can scream, and if my voice will be lost in the wind and the surf.

The man doesn't wander as far as I have. He stares out at the waves and startles an old cormorant. I resent his presence - I walked into the dunes around the bird, who was trying to catch what tiny rays of sun slipped through the cloud cover, his webbed feet shuffling along under him as the wind pushed his outstretched wings and floated him up the beach. Now the cormorant is skimming along the dunes, clearly as offended by the stranger as I am.

I am still on the reef, far enough out to have rolled up the bottoms of my jeans to avoid the swells of water which make it this far. I can run if I need to, on this reef. My feet will bleed, but I would not feel it. The man walks back from where he came and disappears out of sight. I find a baleen shell, battered and broken and enormous. I don't pick it up. Suddenly the light changes. The waves turn black and the roar of the surf grows a little louder. The wind is suddenly frigid and no longer playful - it whips my hair into my eyes and makes my nose sniffle.

When I look up, the sky is close and dark. I have ambled too long and too far. I walk back along the water line, briskly. The tideline ephemera beckons, but I don't look. The beach is suddenly menacing. What is in the dunes, hidden from sight? What warning noises are tossed beyond hearing by the wind? I stop to snatch up a piece of rare white sea glass - all this is worth this one tiny piece. It slips into my bag with a satisfying clink, knocking gently against the coloured shells, the holy stones and the iridescent abalone shell already there.

I round the point. There are houses in view now, other people on the beach, but still I feel unsafe. I start across the dry sand to the carpark and a sprinkling of rain patters down, leaving drops on my eyelashes. It is a freezing rain and I run, ignoring the burn in my calves, the shock of freezing air as it's sucked into my chest. I run, as my bag jingles and my jeans slip back down and the rain begins in earnest. I run as if the dark cloud following me up the beach was sentient and vengeful and I had stolen it's treasure. I run as if it could actually hurt me, as if I was in danger.

The car is warm when I fall in and slam the door, not bothering to wipe my feet. I smell like salt and sea weed and my hair is snarled. The storm envelopes my car, raining furiously for a moment before giving up the chase and retreating, spent. I have my bag of treasures and the blood is returning to my battered feet, the tip of my nose. I am warm and the ocean is a friend again.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

a poem by Ava

gghihrrt h mmmmmhhmmmmbvcx n hhhh
v / /////////?
7h m u //