Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Part 11

Vera shot out of the murky crevasse into the wide clear water of the seafloor, spiraling upwards in an easy sweep. Swimming was as easy as flying must be for birds; it hardly seemed as though she had to move before she was skimming along the sandy bottom, her hair streaming behind her.

The leviathan rose out of the gloom, too, and they swerved and dodged through the water together, the great beast following Vera with every sign of enjoyment, tossing in its own barrel rolls and flourishes. She found herself laughing- it was such a relief to find another soul, any soul that was capable of joy! A simple game of tag felt more exhilarating in that moment than anything she remembered from her distant, land-loving life.

What was that about other souls? Oh yes, there were the terrible, sad, boring circlers and those pathetic things in the waste... Vera looked down, mid-swoop, to see how they were getting on in the world below.

They were getting on very badly. Pale figures were fleeing in all directions, and thin half-voiced screams were cutting ineffectively through the water. Long, drooping fingers were pointing at the sky and too-wide mouths were stretching wider in horror. It took a moment for Vera to follow the gaze of the milky eyes to her new friend, who was impatiently circling, waiting for the game to resume. She had to blink a few times before the memory of their meeting surfaced, and she was reminded of how very terrifying the creature was.

Chaos reigned below as the dead, fearing for their very existence, scattered before them.

Well, this would never do. She flitted down towards the terrified crowds, but the beast eagerly followed after. She turned and loudly pronounced, "NO!" The word was accompanied by a brief glimmer of a puppy- all made of pleading eyes and fluff and named Bella and living to the age of fifteen- for some inexplicable reason. The leviathan was no puppy, however, and blithely continued on.

"No!" Vera rapped the creature sharply on the nose. She had somehow forgotten that its nose was as large as she was herself. The blow seemed effective, though, and the beast slowed to a standstill. "Good monster." Vera murmured, and gave it a pat on the nose. The pat was less as a reward- what was a pat to to a green-scaled giant huge glimmering teeth?- and more to feel that pebbly skin again. It was solid, warm, finely textured. It was more real, somehow, than even Bernard's hand had been. How was that possible?

Bernard. He was down there somewhere too, wasn't he? She dragged her attention back to the chaos on the ground.

Yes. There he was, arms waving, surrounded by the jewellike glimmers of his disciples. He was trying to calm the pale horde, grabbing elbows and pulling at half-formed shirtsleeves, but he seemed to be having little success.

Vera descended and settled beside him. He turned to her, mouth open to shout something soothing, and then stopped when he recognized her. Something strange passed over his face, and then he frowned. "What is that thing?" He shook a fist at the leviathan, which was eyeing them as it hung like a bored zeppelin in the sky above them.

She shrugged. "I don't know. I think it's one of us. It's very friendly."

It was clear that Bernard wanted to argue some of those points with her. His perfectly pink lips formed the beginning of a few words while his sparkling eyes lit up with rage, but he refrained from actually saying anything. In the end, he heaved a sigh and let his pointing hand drop. "Whatever it is, please take it away. I need to try and gather these poor things up before they are lost in the waste." He gestured, and one of his brightly painted followers came running. "Timothy, please go make sure none of them run into the mire."

"Yes, Bernard." The young man wheeled and raced off in the direction of the underwater sea, his vibrant black hair shining in the darkness.

"And don't forget anything!" Bernard bellowed after the young man. Then he turned back to Vera. "Please," he said. "Please, just take your new pet away until I can calm everyone down. Please."

Vera shrugged again, and left him shouting orders. She returned to the beast, and they zagged off into the darkness together.




----

Wow, I'd make a terrible scout.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oh dear.

Hello everyone! Friday was my birthday, and in honor of the holiday I decided to give myself food poisoning. It's the gift that just keeps on giving... and giving... and giving...

Update Monday. Scout's honor.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Part 10



At first she thought it was a whale, for its size and for the fins that stirred the water to either side. However, its fangs curved down from stiff lips, serrating the outline of its mouth in a way no whale’s teeth ever had. As it came closer, she saw the flicker of more fins and a long tail that undulated through the water. This was no whale, nor fish, nor any creature she had ever seen, in life or in death.  It was huge.

A memory stirred, terror and awe all at once. She had been very small much smaller than she was now, and there had been a horse so tall it had blocked out the sun as it galloped past. She had felt the wind on her face and the tremor of its hoofbeats in the ground, and had cried with fear at the size of it.

This monster was much larger than a horse.

For a moment she clung to the thought that it would not perceive her. The living had not reacted to her when she had crossed overland, or she could not remember if they had. Fish rarely seemed to see her, even when she passed through their schools on her long descent. Perhaps this thing, too, would ignore her and look elsewhere for the source of that thundering noise.

The pearly glow of its skin dashed that hope, moments before it angled the bulk of its head and glided towards her, its one beady eye fixed on her. This was no living creature; how could it be? It, too, was a ghost. A ghost so old that it had never seen the earth she once walked. She should have run- but no, it would only catch up to her, those huge fins churning behind her as its fangs closed in on her tender body.

What happened to a wounded soul? She remembered the cheesy flesh of the disintegrating lost, and felt sick. She shut her eyes, waiting for the inevitable.

The inevitable did not come. She opened her eyes after a moment to find the monster still before her, floating unmoving and watching her with what could only be curiosity. Carefully, Vera backed away a few steps. The creature didn’t seem concerned by her movement. She backed away a little further, a yard or two. The leviathan followed her with a nonchalant flip of its fins, coasting easily through the water and keeping pace. Vera stopped backing up and gave it a careful look.

It was rather lovely, once she stopped fixating on its huge teeth. There were a lot of those. But besides that, the creature was an expanse of pebbly blue-green skin, decorated in speckles and stripes that must have served as camouflage in warmer, greener waters. It was large enough that it could have eaten that long-ago horse in a bite or two, but it didn’t seem hungry now. Death had that effect.

The thing flicked a fin and slowly keeled over in the water, rolling along until it came to rest, still floating, but upside down. It considered her now with its other eye. She laughed. She realized that she had not yet tried swimming. How silly, to spend so long at the bottom of the sea and never consider leaving the ground. She pushed off, kicked a little, and found that she could indeed swim. Quite quickly, in fact. She couldn't remember having been much of a swimmer in life, but now she could cut through the water as nimbly as a fish.

She hovered over the belly of the monster, and it rolled onto its side to watch her. She swam a little higher, and as the murk began to fill the distance between them, the creature followed after her.

-----


Sorry for the late post, guys! I had some serious brain problems in relation to time zones, and kinda forgot it was Friday for you. Eheh. See you next week!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Part 9

It wasn't her eyes that adjusted, of course. She wasn't using those for seeing anymore. Nonetheless, it did take a few moments for the landscape before her to settle down.

The water here was misty, a soupy mixture of something she could not name. For the first time, she realized that there was no flavor in this new world; not once had she tasted the salt of the sea, nor had she smelled the rank ocean mud. She had passed overland, once, and even those flickering recollections were as flat as film. She sniffed at the fog before her, but could discern nothing about it. To her eyes, it was nearly opaque. To her numbed skin, it was simply water.

The ground that stretched before her was rough, mostly jagged rock that dropped away into deep crevices, jutting up elsewhere in sharp spines. She could see clearly for a few yards around herself, but beyond that she could make out little more than the faint outline of one or two dark outcroppings. Treading carefully, she ventured a little further.

There were no other souls here, to her relief. She had feared another field of torpor, but here there was nothing but the scuttling of a few small creatures and the occasional pale blot of a softer, slower form of life, picking its way through the dregs of the seafloor. She had never seen anything like the animals in this deep place- she knew this, though she would be hard put to name the other animals she had seen. Here they were lacy and lumpish, spiny and soft, some of them even emitting tiny flares of light of their own making. It made some part of her easy, so see that there was life even here.

She felt something in the water, however. There was more here than little crabs and their soft and eyeless prey. She remembered the rise and fall of the surface, the rippled hints that a greater thing lay beneath. She moved deeper, her eyes- pointlessly, she knew- straining . All she saw were curling tendrils of mist, distant shadows, and the all-consuming blackness of the depths.

Her own skin was luminous in the dark, almost as if she were one of the curious glowing creatures that drifted past. She examined her hands and arms and saw that they were tinged with a little pink, a hint that blood had flowed in their veins. She didn’t actually shed light, she realized. She just stood out against the black and grey of her surroundings. She looked up from her own hand and saw, just for a moment, a flash of something else that contrasted sharply with the inky water. It faded. Vera walked toward it.

The faint glow was very distant, she realized. It was visible only for brief moments, and always slightly different in shape- a curve, an oval, a long angle, cutting briefly through the fog and then disappearing. Vera picked up her pace and trotted after it, leaping lightly over deep crevasses and skipping across fields of shale. She couldn’t remember wanting something, she noticed. She wanted that distant thing now. She wanted to know what it was, to see it with her own eyes.

She scrambled up a hillside, clinging with unfeeling fingers as she clambered across piled stone. It seemed that she might be gaining, for there was a long, formless lightness to the mist before her. Still distant, but nearer now. She could taste discovery in her flavorless mouth.
As she launched herself from the crest of the hill, her eyes fixed far ahead, she lost her footing. The loose stones shifted beneath her foot, and she fell. Lightly, softly, as though she were a feather. She could not be harmed by such an easy fall as this. Behind her, the heap of rock shuddered, and a slow cascade of stone slithered down the hillside and landed in a rising cloud of silt. The rockfall itself was not large, perhaps a few yards of hillside had shifted. The sound, however, was deafening.

Sound moves differently underwater. It is quicker. It can travel many miles without degradation or disturbance. And now, it seemed, this sound had traveled with great speed and clarity to the ears of that thing she had been chasing, for it wheeled its great bulk and turned toward her. She crouched frozen in the dust and watched the creature’s great muzzle slowly emerge from the shadows.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Part 8

She cut across the flow of traffic, dodging lightly through the marching souls. On the other side, she stopped, unsure of her destination.

She looked back. The unending circle of perambulating shades was somehow repulsive to her, and she would not join them. Beyond, she could still catch glimpses of Bernard’s enclave, their eyes fixed on a single point and their bodies unmoving.

The waste beyond beckoned, but she would not go there again. The flat emptiness was too tempting, the stranded souls too terrifying. If not there, though, where else?

She turned to the left and walked counter to the slowly turning ring. She did not hurry, but let her eyes wander over the passing faces. Some were reminiscent of the lost- their eyes no longer reactive, their bodies losing shape and swelling into indistinct, doughy caricatures. Others were too sharp, their borders clearly and cleanly defining outlines that had never existed in life, with many-jointed limbs and trailing tentacles. Walking as slowly as she was, she saw the entire circle pass by once and then begin again, a wheel rolling endlessly nowhere.

A snatch of song stirred in her mind, slowly sliding up from faraway depths. It came with a darkness, warm and close, and the heavy weight of a small body pressing on her lap. The sound was indistinct, but the words came through the static- 'Round and 'round and 'round we go until forevermore, for once we were behind, but now we find we are be- Forward, backward, inward, outward-

Her feet had stopped moving. Alarmed, Vera came back to herself and forced herself to look around. The words did fit, she realized. Round and round. But she had no time to get caught up in that miserable race. She turned away from the crowd and pressed on.

Before her stretched the roiling blackness of the underground sea. She walked to the very edge of its sandy shore and looked down into the opaque mess for a moment, remembering a distant glimmer she had seen here sometime before. She could not remember when.

The surface was never still, peaking into soft rolling waves and lapping at the shore. Occasionally something stirred beneath, but the surface gave only the smallest suggestions as it creased and stretched to accommodate whatever moved beyond its veil. Vera crouched, brushed her skirt- gray, gray, gray- out of the way, and knelt. She trailed a finger across the murk, and it rippled slowly away from her touch. Smoke, she thought. Ink spreading in water. It felt like nothing.

She let her hand fall further. The moonlight of her skin glimmered back for a few inches, then was swallowed completely. Below, she could feel the suggestion of sweeping current, and the promise of something more. She stood.

Took a moment to clear her mind. Her name was Vera, she was wearing a pink sweater and a gray skirt, and she was stepping away from the congregation behind her for only a little while. She would return here. She would remember.

And then she stepped forward into the blackness. There was no floor below, and so she drifted slowly downwards while the shadows rose up to meet her, rising upwards until they covered her mouth, her nose, her eyes. She fell for a short while, and then felt broken rocks beneath her feet. She found her footing, settled her skirt, and waited for her eyes to adjust.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Part 7

It wasn't much of a tale. She told them about the lost souls out in the flat seafloor, lying inert and slowly disintigrating. She told them how they had lost even the will to look at her as she passed among them, how they lost themselves to the sand and stone. Her voice trembled a little as she recounted her misstep, how the faceless soul had not even noticed the destruction of its limb. The memory of that terrible, cold clinging stuff was the freshest in her mind, overshadowing everything.

There was a short silence after she finished, while the other souls seemed to be mulling over her words. The blond man spoke up again. "And then you were lost, too. How did you lose yourself?"

For a moment, Vera didn't know how to answer. She didn't remember how she got lost, how she had slipped into that mindless torpor. Another thrill of fear passed through her as she remembered the staring blankness of amorphous eyes, and her panicked flight. "I... was frightened. I was only thinking about getting away. And then when there was nothing to get away from-"

"You stopped thinking at all." Bernard finished for her. His red lips were pressed into a flat, thin line, and his eyes were somber. He looked to each of the faces in the little circle. "I have warned you all of the dangers of traveling alone. One man is nothing. A living man has a body to remind him who he is. Without its aid, we are moments away from being those poor pale things in the desert. Memory is a fleeting thing, and memory is life."

"Memory is life." The murmur whent around the circle like a prayer. The fervor with which they repeated it startled Vera, and she was suddenly hyper aware of the jewellike eyes and flaming hair and sharp lines which surrounded her. The girl next to her inched forward, straining closer to Bernard, and Vera saw that her eyes were the flat, vivid blue of paint- the pupils black dots on irises unsullied by any imperfection. The bones of her face were perfectly symmetrical, as though they had been built rather than grown.

"How did you walk so far alone, Bernard?" The girl's voice was reverent.

"Every step of the way, I remembered where I was going and where I had come from. I did not stop, and I did not stray."

"And how did you bring her back with you?"

"She still held some seed of memory. I awoke the memory-"

Again, all of the voices were raised at once. "And awoke the life."

"Yes. Well done. Now, whose story will we hear next?" The brilliant eyes all turned back to Vera. Bernard shook his head. "No. Let our guest rest for a little longer. Her long sleep is still heavy on her, I think." Confused and almost afraid now, Vera nodded. A sigh of disappointment flickered through the group.

"Alan. Why don't you speak for us?" Alan was a skeletally thin man with lustrous black hair and glowing green eyes that fell when Bernard looked to him. He shook his head. "Come now, Alan. You may have remembered something more. You won't know until you try."

An expectant silence fell. It stretched on, so long that Vera's heart ached for Alan.He was sitting slumped on the ground, his arms crossed protectively across himself, as though he wanted to curl up and hide from the luminous glare of his companions. Without lifting his eyes, he spoke.

"My name is Alan. I am a man and I am tall and thin and I have black hair and green eyes. I lived in New York. I had a mother and a father. I went to school. Once at school I met a girl. She had red hair. I worked in a factory. I fell on the train tracks and a train ran me over."

There was another beat of silence. When it was clear that Alan had nothing else to say, Bernard cleared his throat. "Thank you, Allan. You're doing a very good job of remembering your story. Who wants to go next?"

The girl next to Vera was almost bursting out of her skin with eagerness. "May I?"

Bernard hesitated a moment, then nodded. "Go ahead, Rita."

Rita took a moment to arrange herself, sitting prettily and folding her hands in her lap. She flashed a smile at her audience. "My name is Rita Cameron Willis. I was born on May ninth, nineteen eighty two, in Seattle, Washington. I have silver blonde hair, ice blue eyes, a small mouth and a dimple on my right cheek when I smile. My skin is rosy, with a tendency to freckle, and I have a small birthmark on the left side of my neck.I am five feet one inch tall I weighed one hundred and five pounds when I died, and didn't have a mark on me.

"My mother's name was Betty Ella Willis, nee Cooper, and she was born in nineteen fifty five. She was five feet tall and had long brown hair. My father's name was Marty Willis. He was six feet tall and had blonde hair like me. We lived in a white house on Ash Street, next to a park, my entire life. My room was the first bedroom on the right in the upstairs hallway.

"My first memory is when I was five years old, and I fell of my bike and scratched my knee and it bled.

"My second memory is when I was ten years old and I went to see the space needle. I wanted to jump off and see how long it took to reach the ground.

"My third memory is when I was twelve years old, and my dog Cindy died. She was spotted all over and had cancer.

"My fourth memory is when I was still twelve years old, and I read a romance novel with someone named Alice in it. I fell in love with the hero for three years. His name was Bill. I thought if I prayed hard enough I would meet him.

"My fifth memory is when I was fourteen and got food poisoning from a chicken pot pie at Frank's Cafe. I threw up for a whole day, and I missed one week of school."

Vera looked at the rapt faces around her with incredulity. Everyone, even Bernard, leaned forward with a hungry expression, their eyes fixed on Rita. Alan hugged his knees and stared up at her, his mouth open. Even Bernard was focused on the girl with a disturbing intensity.

Quietly, Vera stood and carefully walked away from the circle.


----


Hi, everyone! A couple news points. First, sorry about the missed update last week. Things got kind of hectic around here. Second, we passed 20 subscribers! I feel like this needs some sort of celebration. I've decided that for every 20 subscribers, I will do a bonus Monday update. Therefore tune in next monday for a make-up entry, and again the monday after that for our celebratory bonus monday! (Hint: if you haven't subscribed yet, you can move us 1/20th of the way towards another bonus!)


'Til monday, guys! Thanks for reading!




Friday, October 7, 2011

Part 6


 He took her hand and turned away, towing her along with himself. His feet were sandaled, she saw, and he wore a simple robe, which trailed behind him as though a wind blew across the desolate plain.

He glanced back, as though reassuring himself that she was still there, despite his grip on her hand. "Keep up, now. I don't want to lose you out here again." She trotted obediently to come abreast of him, and he smiled. "Let us converse to pass the time. My name is Bernard. What's yours?"

Confusion. She'd already said her name... hadn't she? And it was- it was-

"Vera!" she burst out in a childish shout.

"Good! And what are you wearing today, Vera?" He tugged her hand a little harder, urging her to pick up the pace.

"Pink and gray."

"Pink and gray what, Vera?"

This was a hard question, and Vera felt it was unfair. How was she supposed to know? She looked down and almost tripped, trying to see what the vague garments were. As she recovered her footing- still towed helplessly in Bernard's wake- a memory burst like a bubble on the surface of her mind.

"It's a blue skirt, and a pink sweater. I think. The skirt was always my favorite, and the sweater...." She lost the thought. She tried to slow down, so that she could concentrate, but he yanked her forward.

"Tell me more about the sweater, Vera." She could hate this man now, as he dragged her stumbling from nowhere to nowhere and asked her impossible questions. She tried to pull her hand from his, but he tightened his grip- and she felt her flesh give. A sickening recollection of spreading white ooze and blank eyes leapt from the shadows, and she looked in terror at her own hand. It was still there, a pale glove clutched in his ruddy fist.

The sight of their hands entwined sparked another memory, one warmer and more distant. Another hand had held hers, wide and rough, and had led her into the kitchen on a sunny May morning. The children had been waiting, smiling, and on the table lay the sweater. It was the tender pink of a Celestial rose, with little mother of pearl buttons. She let a gasp of pleasure escape her, and the children shrieked and ran to wrap their arms around her legs.

She stumbled, and came back to the sea, racing after a sandaled stranger. "It's a sweater," she panted, "The sweater my children gave to me. For Mother's Day."

Bernard flashed her a gleaming smile over his shoulder. "Well done!" He squeezed her hand encouragingly, and she felt the firmness of her own flesh. She looked down, and saw the glimmer of mother of pearl buttons in the darkness.

Ahead, something rose out of the white sand. As they sped towards it, it solidified into the face of a cliff. At the bottom of the cliff a river ran- but no- there were no rivers beneath the ocean. The pale streaming substance was not water, but a long, shambling line of figures.

Bernard checked his pace, and so they walked, rather than ran, through the crowd. Vera gaped at the souls passing by, though she felt the tug of memory. She remember that she had been here before, that she had already stared at the milky-white masses as they passed by. Two figures cut past them, moving in tandem with their joined hands swinging between them, and Vera almost called out to them. She couldn't remember what to call, though, so she moved on in Bernard's wake.

He took her to the very foot of the cliff, where shale fell in piles. A few other souls lingered there, and Bernard found her a place among them. They turned to her, and she was strangely comforted by the regard of so many attentive eyes, each with a brightly colored iris. Their hair, too was luminous in the darkness, with shades of red and brown and blond so clear that they could almost belong to the living.

She sat, cautiously, on a pile of rubble. Bernard settled onto a boulder nearby, and sighed deeply. "That's enough adventure for a long time, I think."

"What did you see out there?" The soul that asked was a man, his age indeterminate but his face clearly outlined. Vera even saw blond stubble scattered across his cheek.

Bernard shook his head. "Death and desolation, my friend. It is not well to venture so far out into the darkness."

A girl toVera's right fidgeted. "But what did you see? Please, tell us."

Bernard smiled at her, then turned his gaze to Vera. "I think that our newest acquaintance should tell us, don't you?" Vera didn't know what he was talking about, but suddenly the eyes resting on her grew hungry, intense. She stammered.

Bernard laid a comforting hand on her knee. She glanced at it, and saw that her skirt had come back. It rippled a little at his touch, and she could see the faintest suggestion of texture on its surface. "Please, tell us what you saw when you were alone in the waste." His voice was kind. "Anything you remember. We have so few stories here."

Vera could not refuse his gentle request, and so she delved into the flickering confusion of her memory.