kuangning: (Ami)
That it exists at all is the point.

No-one ever finds it twice. And none of those who find it ever are looking for it. It makes sure of that.

Sometimes it waits on a corner, patiently, for days. The windows beckon with just the right assortment to tempt just the one person, and when that one person comes along, it is usually with head bowed, lost in thought. A random glance up, a quick decision the feet make without consulting the head, and ... caught. Just that quickly, the pattern of a life gets radically altered -- none of them walk away unchanged.

Some go mad. Not from fright, no, but from longing. Some spend the rest of their lifetimes searching -- and by searching, ensure that they will never be successful. Some allow the loss to twist them, to sour them, and they trudge their ways to the guaranteed inheritance that comes at the end of every mortal life.

Ahh, but some... some catch the spark, and hold it, and blaze brightly.

It never judges. It never looks forward to see what happens to the ones it catches. The only moment in time that belongs to it is the moment that they are caught -- once they walk out of its doors, they belong, whether they believe it or not, to themselves and to themselves only.

That is what it offers, though if it could speak, that is not what it would say. It severs the bonds between that soul and every other, makes it free of encumberments, sets it loose. And some soar, and some plummet, and some simply forge heavier chains. And it has no investment in which path they choose, any of them.

You see, it too is unbound.

Free.
kuangning: (Default)
She sat on the sandy shore, drawing her legs up to rest her chin on her knees, while Lyssa slept in the carrier beside her. She didn't look up when he sat beside her, and she didn't react when his arm went around her shoulders. After a moment he sighed, and his grip became more tentative, but he didn't take his arm away. "Talk to me." The request was made in a voice surprisingly soft; she shivered, and looked up at the sky, picking a star and not taking her eyes off it as she answered. "What about?" He shrugged. "Whatever it is that has you so quiet. I was expecting fireworks, I suppose. You were full of fight before." It was her turn to shrug. "That was before." "So what's changed?" "Nothing. Everything." He sighed, and fell silent. She stared out at the water and the broken, rippling reflections of the moon and stars.

When she spoke again, it was so softly that he had to strain to catch the words at all. They were, in fact, not for him at all; he just happened to be there. She seemed to have forgotten that he was there; she was talking to the sleeping baby, rocking the carrier gently and tucking in the edges of the blanket. "If you have to say it, then they don't really understand and never will. And if you say nothing, then it's your fault they don't understand." A little smile played at the corners of her mouth. "But that's how it goes, baby girl. That's the world I brought you into. You'll learn the rules. You'll learn how to keep them -- and when to break them. And I guess I will, too, hmm?" She dropped a kiss on the little forehead, wrinkled in sleep under the warm cap. "We'll learn together," she murmured. She turned back to him, then, and she was smiling.
kuangning: (magic photosphere)
"Thoval?" Light was just dawning, but His response was immediate, His "voice" warm in Her mind. [Yes, child.] "How much time do I have?" He sighed, but did not sidestep the question. [You have until the age of majority as your playmates reckon it, child. By your twentieth birthday, you will be ready to come before the Council. Or you will not.] She paused, then, counting in Her head. "How old am I now?" [Twelve. You have time yet.] She sighed. Suddenly, it did not seem like a lot of time. Thoval, catching that thought, chuckled softly. [And that is progress, too. It will be all right, child.] She nodded silently. It would. It had to be. Godseed )

Godseed

Nov. 20th, 2002 05:43 pm
kuangning: (writing)
He showed up three weeks after she and Lyssa had been allowed to go home. She had been pushing that fear to the back of her mind from the beginning, but still had not come up with any plan that seemed viable. How long could she stay on the run with a newborn? How would she support them both? She had decided quickly that she -- they -- would stay put. He would have very little interest in the child, and perhaps he would take the birth as proof that she would be obedient for her daughter's sake, and no trouble to control. Perhaps that would be enough.

With that hope held constantly in her mind like a shield against her nightmares, she had made her arrangements. She and Lyssa fell easily into a schedule of their own that barely meshed with the pace of the world around them, waking late each morning and going to bed scant hours before the sun rose. They were never apart for longer than it took her to shower, and she did that only when she was sure the child was sound asleep. Her boss and coworkers at the store had dropped by once or twice, marvelling at Lyssa's newborn antics and sighing over her pretty eyes and contented gurgles. She was due back at work in three weeks, a prospect that was made tolerable by the fact that her boss had been amenable to her bringing Lyssa to work with her. There was already a brightly-coloured playpen occupying a corner of the floor near the counter, in fact, and there were several blankets and baby supplies in her cupboard there. She had been buying them, one at a time, or making them, in the case of the blankets, as the time grew closer and she grew more assured of her funds being sufficient. She had grown more comfortable, almost cheerful, as the month passed. She took Lyssa along for the long walks she had grown accustomed to before the little girl's birth. She sang to her, spent long hours lying very still with the baby lying, asleep, in the crook of her arm, and watched in wonder as the newborn started waking for longer periods of time.

And then, one evening, she took the baby out for one of their usual walks, and returned home to find two men sitting on her couch. They barely glanced up as she came through the door, but she went cold and pale as she brushed past them silently, gathering Lyssa, who was sleeping peacefully, protectively into her arms. They stayed put as she took the child into the nursery and set her down in her crib, turning on the radio in the hope that the continuous music would keep the baby asleep through whatever came next. Then, taking a deep breath and pulling her shoulders back, she left the nursery, shutting the door gently behind her, and went out to face the two men in her living room.

"You." She ignored the man next to him, except to note that he was leafing through one of her books. It was her father she watched, her face expressionless. He grinned at her, and her heart sank. He wasn't completely drunk. Yet. And that had been her only hope. "You ought to know better by now," he said, shaking his head. "You never run far enough or long enough. There isn't any such thing as too far away for a concerned father to find his missing daughter. Especially when she really wants to be found." She gritted her teeth against the protests she wanted to blurt out. He only wanted an excuse. In truth, he had never needed even that; he simply enjoyed being able to point out to her afterward that it was her fault.

She almost shrieked when he stood up. He was taller than her by several inches, and heavier by fifty pounds, and already her arms and eyes tingled in anticipation of the blows.

He struck her twice, splitting her lip and blacking her left eye. She forced herself not to scream, remembering Lyssa, still asleep in her crib, and he was raising his hand for a third blow when the man still sitting on the couch turned aside and spat on her carpet. "I'm not paying you a cent if you knock her out," he said flatly. Her father lowered his arm, and she spoke bitterly. "What is he paying you for?" He grinned unpleasantly. "Nothing unusual, more's the pity. What does it matter? Either you be nice to him, or I make life difficult for you. You want to go to juvenile hall till you turn twenty? What happens to your little bastard when I turn you in? Maybe I should take her with me and raise her, huh? Maybe she'll be more grateful than you."

She stood very still, her blood rushing to her head in one dizzy surge. Then she screamed, and lunged at him. "Leave my daughter alone! You filthy son of a --" The impact of the second man's hand across her jaw snapped her head back and cut off her diatribe. She waited for the next blow, but it didn't come. Her father's companion stood back a little, watching her. Her father, oddly enough, stood aside, glancing back and forth between them. She glared at them both. "Touch my daughter, and I swear, I don't care how long it takes. I will kill you and see your corpse rot unburied. You'll get less than you gave my mother." He growled unintelligibly, but his companion caught his eye, and he subsided. So did she; that sort of obedience from the man who had been almost completely responsible for all of the terror in her life would have been unthinkable had she not seen it. Staring at the other man, who was younger than her father by about fifteen years and much better dressed, she asked, "who are you?"

Her father laughed. "This is your new husband, baby girl." She almost choked. "What? What have you done to me this time?" "Shut up," he snarled. "He's willing to take you off my hands, and I am still your father." "What, selling me off to your friends wasn't enough? Or is it that you just can't convince any of them that I'm still a virgin anymore?" When his eyes narrowed, she knew she had guessed at least part of his motives. The other part, no doubt, was pure greed. She wanted to cry. The stranger, foreseeing the possibility, spoke up coolly. "I sincerely hope you're not about to blubber. Your father says you're a very grown up sixteen-year-old. Prove it." She made herself take a deep, if shaky, breath, and speak instead of screaming. "Why? Because it's more convenient for you? Why should I make it easy for you to buy me? And why do you need to buy me, anyway? What the hell's so wrong with you that no other woman would have you?" She expected him to slap her again the instant the words were out of her mouth. When he laughed instead, she flinched. The ones who couldn't be provoked into a fight, in her experience, were the ones who took their revenge in other, less pleasant ways. Leave it to her father to sell her off to one of the worst. Hell, that was probably icing on the cake to him. A delightful bonus, to not only peddle off his daughter for a good chunk of cash -- the one thing he'd never done was sell her cheap, she acknowledged bitterly -- but to someone he knew would "keep her in her place," as he'd put it so often while she was growing up. But she wasn't married yet, and she'd be damned if she was going to get married, either. No matter how much money had changed hands.

She voiced that thought, and the response was far different from what she might have anticipated. The man turned to her father. She couldn't read the expression on his face, but his voice was quiet, and he said only one thing. "Leave," he said. Her blood ran ice cold when her father obeyed without a protest, giving her a final, triumphant glance as he shut the front door behind him, leaving her alone with the stranger.

.. I am at 31,823 total, and working on closing some of the gaps in the storyline. And the storyline is surprising me at every turn, it seems. I had no intention of turning him into the grandfather from hell when I began. I should be sleeping. But as long as I'm getting the words out, I'm going to.

Godseed

Nov. 14th, 2002 08:51 am
kuangning: (fantasy photosphere)
She was alone.

Her cries met with no response, and eventually She ceased to cry, and fell asleep, hiccuping with sobs. After a little while, She dreamed.

She woke to find that She was home, being held, and rocked, and soothed. Her mother smiled, and spoke to Her gently, and set Her down to play. As She played, the things that She imagined or remembered or half-remembered came into being around Her, and remained until She forgot about them, to be summoned up again when She brought them to mind. She grew, in the way of children, using the ability without understanding it. For awhile, it was enough for Her to know that if She imagined something new, it would appear, and if She wished something gone, She had only to imagine it so. She imagined playmates for Herself, like the children She had seen before things changed, and noted incuriously that they could not do what She did. After the first couple of times She pointed out the difference, She learned that it was better to not mention it. The only time She introduced the idea that She was responsible for Her friends being there, She got Her eye blacked and, incidentally, found out where Her friends thought babies came from. She grew, and learned, and when at last She began to ask questions Her mother could not answer, (the thought never once crossed Her mind that perhaps no-one existed who had the answers She was seeking,) They came to Her.

Ailyn came first, a gentle mindtouch that woke Her in the night. She came awake instantly, fighting back the panic that would always be Her first reaction. Staring into the darkness, She spoke aloud. "Who are you?" [I am Ailyn,] came the response. [I am as you are, in my space.] She almost choked. "I'm not alone?" The response was amused, faintly condescending. [Of course you are not.] She sighed deeply, immensely relieved, and after a brief silence, She began to ask the questions which had been on Her mind so much. Ailyn answered, and when there began to be questions She could not answer, Thoval came, and Riordan, and Bei, and Gaylen... and the questioning continued.

"What am I?" This She asked again and again, and none of Them failed to answer, but They responded with the evasions adults practise on children, and She knew that there had to be more, and that there was an answer They simply did not want to give. "Have there always been creatures such as us?" She asked that of Gaylen one morning after Their presence in Her mind had become an accustomed and ever-present reality. It chuckled. [For as long as there has been a reality.] "How long has that been?" She asked, Her curiosity piqued by the turn of phrase. Gaylen paused before answering, and when It responded again, even its low, grainy voice seemed throatier than was Gaylen's wont. [Can you imagine the dawn of time, child?] "I.. think so," came Her hesitant response. "I remember the darkness, when everything went away. Is it like that?" [Something like that,] came the reply. [Can you remember how long the darkness went on?] "Forever," She replied flatly. [That was a blink of an eye to us, and it will seem a blink of an eye to you, eventually. We have always been.] "But you won't exist forever?" [We will, unless something unprecedented happens, as with the One before you.] She was startled; this was the first time one of Them had mentioned Her predecessor freely. She pressed Her luck, testing. "Gaylen?" [Yes, child?] "Tell me about Him. What was He like?" Gaylen sighed. [He was old, older than any of us. We did not know Him well; He kept to Himself.] It was obvious that Gaylen did not feel comfortable discussing it, and so She allowed It to change the subject, chattering for awhile about the antics of one of Her playmates while Gaylen indulged Her.

But She did not forget, and on another day, She asked Riordan, "why can't you actually be here?" He snorted impolitely, and appeared at Her side for a second. [Do not confuse disinclination with inability,] He said quietly in Her mind. "Could I come to you, then?" She was intrigued. [You can. But We generally do not do so. If you become a part of the Council, you will find that you will not truly wish to leave your own space as often, either.] "Council?" [Yes, Council. Do not worry about that yet; you will find out soon enough.] He spoke determinedly, and She raised an eyebrow, but dropped the subject.

"Bei?" [Yes, child.] "What do you look like?" [I do not.] "What?" [I do not "look like" anything or anyone.] "How is that possible?" It was Ailyn who answered then. [None of Us actually have bodies or form as you know them, child. Not even you, though it seems to be comfortable for you to maintain that form, as it was comfortable for most of Us to keep Ours, at first. You will outgrow the habit, as We did.] "But Riordan?" [I used the form that used to be mine,] He answered easily, and She nodded slowly. She tried to imagine having no body, no form, but found She could not. The idea filled Her with a curious sort of fear, like a blanket hanging over a darkened doorway. She could push past it, She knew, and what lay on the other side might be worth the trouble -- but She did not want to, yet; Her curiosity was not yet stronger than Her dread.

"Ailyn?" She queried on another occasion. [Yes, child?] "How come none of you use my name? All you ever call me is "child." " [You have not yet Accepted.] "Accepted?" [If you progress enough to come before the Council, you will be formally offered a place, a role. If you Accept, you will be Named -- the name of your choosing, which may or may not be the one you use now.] "And if I don't Accept? What if I don't progress enough?" Gaylen chuckled, soothing Her. [You will progress. You will Accept. There is time, child.] "But if I don't?" Thoval spoke gently, but firmly. [There is no point in deceiving her. She is only going to fret about it until We make it clear. Finish what You began, Ailyn.] Ailyn sighed then, but She also began to speak again. [Your predecessor was very old, older than any of Us, did you know that?] She nodded, "Yes. But what-- " [Hush, you will hear,] Ailyn interrupted. [He had created more than any of us, also, and occupied a great place because of that. There are Those in the Council who believe that you will never be able to take His place, that it should be given to someone else, or split among several others.] "But if They do that, what happens to me?" [You would be sent back into nothingness,] Ailyn said reluctantly. [Some say that since you were to be destroyed anyway, We should simply carry out His will, and carry on without you or Him.] Before She could protest, Thoval broke in gently. [We are not going to allow Them to do that. We are here now so that you will have a fair chance to prove your ability, child. And you are progressing. You will come before the Council. And you will Accept.]

She lay awake a long time that night, staring into the darkness and thinking.

"Thoval?" Light was just dawning, but His response was immediate, His "voice" warm in Her mind. [Yes, child.] "How much time do I have?" He sighed, but did not sidestep the question. [You have until the age of majority as your playmates reckon it, child. By your twentieth birthday, you will be ready to come before the Council. Or you will not.] She paused, then, counting in Her head. "How old am I now?" [Twelve. You have time yet.] She sighed. Suddenly, it did not seem like a lot of time. Thoval, catching that thought, chuckled softly. [And that is progress, too. It will be all right, child.] She nodded silently. It would. It had to be.
kuangning: (writing)
She broke off uncertainly, meeting the calm blue eyes across from her without flinching. "I can't do it," she said softly. "I can't tell it the way it should be told. What's wrong with me?" When a steady hand grasped her shoulder, she almost sobbed. But the quiet voice that she heard then, while she was too afraid and ashamed to look around, hadn't changed in all the years since she had heard it last. Nor had it lost any of its edge, or its power to stop her in her tracks.

"Lindsay, Lindsay! You know better than this." She began to cry, and his hand tightened on her shoulder, and he shook her gently. "One in a hundred, child. One in several hundred, now." He sighed. "And you have been one of the best, Lindsay. You have been faithful, you have tried, you have listened! But you are not listening now."

She looked up then, eyes flashing indignant. "Gabe!" "Lindsay!" He grinned mockingly. "You are not listening. And what's more, you know you aren't listening." "That's not true!" He chuckled. "You are not. You've been far too busy worrying about yourself, Lindsay. How will Lindsay tell this story? What will Lindsay say? What words will Lindsay use? What will people think of Lindsay? You haven't been listening to the story at all." Her shoulders slumped, and she looked away, flushing in anger and embarrassment. Seeing that, he shook her again, more insistently. "Look at me." She shook her head, blonde hair streaked with silver falling over her face and his hand, hiding her eyes and her tears. He knelt in front of her. "Look at me, child." She gave a strangled sound that was half sob, half laugh. "I am not a child, Gabriel. Look at me. I haven't been a child in eighty years. I'm old, Gabriel. And I can't do this anymore." "Idiot." He stood abruptly, then, and turned his back on her, staring at the wall while his jaw clenched and unclenched. "What is that supposed to mean?" She laughed bitterly behind him. "What does it sound like it means, Gabriel? I want my life back." He stopped just short of screaming at her, pronouncing his words carefully and slowly instead. "You want your life back. What does that mean, Lindsay?"

She closed her eyes for a minute, and the silence dragged on for what felt like forever before she said, not taking her eyes off him, "Just what I said, Gabe. I want my life back. It's been years of waking up in the middle of the night with other people's words on my lips, having to finish just one more story before I could sleep again. It's been a lifetime of "just one more story" and "will anyone listen if I tell it?" and "can I tell it right?" when it could have been a lifetime of what other people get, the small loves and triumphs and disappointments and their minds being their own. You can't give me back the years I've spent telling stories. But you can cut me loose now, can't you?" He didn't answer, but she heard him swallow hard, and her voice sharpened. "Can't you, Gabriel?" He turned around, and his eyes locked with hers. "Yes, Lindsay. I can." She didn't know she had been holding her breath until she let it out, one long sigh, but he went on before she could interrupt him anyway, the words seeming to tumble from him in one vehement stream. "Yes. I can do that. But if I do, there will be no second chances, Lindsay. You will have no chance to change your mind, no going back to redo it. I will take the story with me and I will go, and you will never see me again. So I suggest, before you make your decision, you finish this story. Tell it, and if, at the end, you decide you still want me to make that change, then I will."

She nodded, not taking her eyes off him until he nodded also. Then her gaze lowered to the object in her hand, and she picked up where she had left off.



... don't ask me just when they wrote themselves into Godseed, but write themselves in they have. I need to put these things in order at some point. I've given up on trying to keep the prewritten separate from the newly written, so I am not posting wordcount any longer. My goal is simply to finish. I'll be happy if I can just genuinely put "The End" after one of these before November 30th.
kuangning: (Default)
He turned away again, His anger almost beyond bearing, and the juval scattered. Only one or two remained, and even those made no real attempt to soothe Him; they only awaited His instructions. He was beyond wanting emissaries this time, however, and His decision was quickly made, and even more quickly carried out.

The skies above the golden jewel of a world that was Moyan darkened completely. In the space of time between an indrawn breath and the exhalation, everything and everyone was plunged into night. In the next instant, every adult and every child capable of ordered thought was simultaneously given the same warning. Those who were awake heard a voice in their minds. Those who were asleep experienced a dream from which they could not awaken themselves. Each and every one was given a sign by which they would know that what had happened was real, and that from that moment onward, the continued survival of all would depend upon the behaviour of every individual.

When the unnatural night lifted, Moyan's three moons had been joined by a fourth, smaller satellite. It hung, pale and pearlescent, just above the horizon, visible even in the restored daylight. The indolent, complacent Moyan were slow to fully absorb the new events, perhaps, but they were subdued as they went about their daily activities, and when daylight gave way to a normal dusk and then night, they retreated to their homes and the small solace of their families rather than lingering outdoors under the newly alien skies.

He might have repented of His harshness in the light of the new day, save that it had been effective. He listened with amusement as the new satellite was dubbed the Eye, and smiled at the conscientious attempts to follow exactly the One Rule. There were heated debates about what, exactly, constituted sentient life, and whether death would be swift or painful. They were still, as yet, only obeying out of fear. But obedience, like any other course of action, would become habit soon enough. He would not allow it to be otherwise. So He had sworn, and He would not, could not be forsworn.

**************************

She lay in a soft clump of grasses, amusing herself by watching the flowers above her. They shook as she moved, and she squealed happily, reaching up to grab one and taste it. Her mother dawdled nearby, casting wary glances at the altered sky every now and again, but half-asleep in the warmth of the morning sun. Entranced and fascinated by the light and colour of the flowers, secure in her mother's proximity, the little girl rolled over purposefully. She placed both palms on the ground, and pushed herself to all fours, and then got to her feet. Wide-eyed, taking a few cautious, bowlegged steps, she toddled over to the flowers, her little hand extended before they were even within her reach. There was a lazy buzzing within one of the blossoms, and she reached out curiously, grasping the whole flower, crushing the petals, and the insect within. She barely had time to register the shock and pain of the dying insect's sting before she was struck down.

[Cataclysm.]

The tiny death registered, and He struck immediately, bound by His own word. Once He had struck, the reaction was immediate, disastrous, and irrevocable. There were no warnings, no loud eruptions, no showy demonstrations. He, and almost everything He had created, simply ceased to be. Where there had once been life, systems, planets, moons, growth, there was only Void.

And then, from within the Void, the cry of the Child.

Godseed

Nov. 3rd, 2002 01:56 pm
kuangning: (Default)
En`vil paused for breath, his face red and his temper still boiling. Jula'an raised an eyebrow. "Will that be all, Elder?" The subtle stress on the honorific was not lost on En`vil, and he reddened still further. Before he could launch into another tirade, however, Jula'an spoke again, quietly and clearly. "You have disrupted my class, and caused a scene in front of the children. I can disregard your views on me; in fact, I have a lot of practice in doing just that. But you owe my children an apology, Elder." There were quick intakes of breath from the younglings, and En`vil glanced down, realising for the first time how intently he was being watched. Brats! He was sure the story of how he had lost his composure would be the talk of the village by suppertime. They would make him look a fool, all because he had given the laziest, most useless waste of breath in the village the sharp side of his tongue. At that moment, he could have killed them all -- Jula'an, as the root and cause of the trouble, and every last one of the lying, tattling brats with him. "Great One," he prayed silently, "Judge between this damned schoolteacher and me!"

He screamed when the world around him exploded with light.


Jula'an felt something touch his cheek and brush over his hair, soft as a whisper, and fancied he heard a high-pitched giggle, in that instant when the world turned to light. Just that quickly, however, it was gone, and he stood, shocked, as in his mind a voice spoke softly, "Be at ease, my son", and he felt himself wrapped in Love beyond love. Then, from outside him, the same voice: "It is done." And with that, he was alone again in his mind, and looking into the wide eyes of the children.

En`vil picked himself up, lips tightly compressed, and dusted himself off. His mantle of hair, when he got to it, made him let out a single wrenching sob, but he said nothing. He was shaking so badly that he pulled out several clumps of hair while trying to straighten the tangled snarls, but he warded off Jula'an's attempt to help with a savagely outflung hand, cringing away as though expecting a blow. The schoolteacher, staring, took a few steps of his own in retreat: nothing else around them was disordered, yet the elder looked as though he had endured the strongest storm without shelter. More than that, his hair, the soft pale amethyst of age for as long as Jula'an could remember, was now a dull mud colour. No storm had accomplished that. Jula'an quickly made the most potent warding gesture, faintly aware that all around him, the children were doing the same. The children! With a sense of shame, he gathered his wits enough to look around at them, and even found control enough to give what he hoped was a reassuring smile. "Class is over for today," he told them gently. "We'll pick up where we left off tomorrow." They needed no urging; all except Sulaya scattered immediately, and she lingered only long enough for a hug and a quiet, "It's all right, little one." Then she, too, set out for home at a flat run, braids streaming out behind her.

Jula'an turned again to the elder, then, curiosity warring with concern on his face. "Are you all right?" he asked after a minute or so. "What happened to you?" En`vil only shook his head, his hand to his lips, hatred written plainly in his contorted features, and after another moment, the schoolteacher shrugged and turned away, brushing his hair out of his face with the back of his hand. En`vil's gasp stopped him, and as he swung around, a lock of hair falling across his own shoulder showed him the reason for the gasp. Staring incredulously, he pulled a larger hank of hair around to where he could see it. He had not been mistaken. His hair, formerly the violet of middle adulthood, was now a shining copper colour, shot through with strands of gold.
kuangning: (Default)
"There was a time..." she started doubtfully, then stopped. "Wasn't there?" Shaking her head, not waiting for a response, she laughed a little. "Of course there was." Glancing over at the impassive blue eyes, she blushed. "I mean, I didn't dream it all, did I? I couldn't have. It's just that it all seems so far away now." The figure in the chair was still, and she sighed softly, reaching out a hand to brush away a stray hair. She stopped just short of contact, fingers curling inward, hand pulling back almost involuntarily while something at once shuttered and naked darkened her expression. Lacing her fingers tightly together on her lap, she looked away for a moment. "It's so odd. Some of it I can still almost taste, almost touch, wrap my fingers around and not let go." Her knuckles whitened, burrowing into the folds of her skirt as if to hide. "And some of it, I don't think I could ever have experienced, except I know I did, because I couldn't have dreamed it, not in a million years."

Shifting her weight in her chair, she took a deep breath, held it a moment, released it all at once. " I'm babbling, aren't I? I'm scared of this story, and I don't know why." Reaching into her pocket, fingers clenching around something there, she went on quickly. "That's not true. I do know why. It's because I know it's the last story. I always feel like that. As if once a story's told, there won't be any more. But this one... this one's different." She withdrew her hand, fingers still tightly wrapped, and opened them slowly. In her palm, something glinted dully. "This one... this is the last story. The one everyone's entitled to, the one untold one everyone gets. And once I tell it, what then?" There was no response, only the calm blue of that unwavering gaze, and her eyes filled with tears that spilled over, one of them bathing the object in her hand and causing it to glitter. She caught her breath as she saw it, and her back straightened. Pushing her hair out of her eyes and brushing the tears away with her free hand, she stared at it. "I can't let it die," she said, softly and desperately. Her voice quiet but steady, her audience all but forgotten, she began to Speak.
kuangning: (dreaming)
He knew when the child stood beside him, but didn't look around. Instead, he finished prying something out of a crack, then put it carefuilly into a pouch at his side. "Who are you? Where am I?" He ignored both questions; they were not the ones he wanted to hear, and he could not answer her. She had to be shown, not told, and that would still be wasted unless she wanted this. She had to want it. There was silence for a time, and he sighed. Perhaps this time would be wasted after all. But he had hoped... Then, the small voice asked curiously, "What were you doing?" His heart leaped, and he turned to face her. "Collecting," he said, his voice tense with hidden joy and hope. "Oh." Again, silence for a time, while he despaired. "What were you collecting?" He almost hugged her, then. Instead, he showed her.

"This," he said, stooping, "and this." Shaking his finds into his palm, he showed them to the watching child. "Rocks?" She looked disappointed, and he winced. "Not rocks," he said gently. "Stories." She glanced incredulously at the dull grey lumps in his hand. "Those are stories?" He sighed. "Well, they used to be." "What happened to them?" She wanted to know. "No-one told them," he answered, his voice sorrowful. Bending closer, he traced the edges for her, brushing away the dirt, and her eyes widened. Under the dullness, there was a sparkle, a mysterious gleam. Watching her, he smiled, and then straightened up, taking her by the hand. They walked silently for a time, each stopping every now and again to collect one of the little stones, and then she turned to him. "Where are we going?" "Over there," he pointed. On the horizon, a large building rose, solitary and nondescript. "Why?" He chuckled at that. "Because we can't let these die," he answered. "Oh." She followed him without speaking again.

They entered the building, pushing open wide grey doors, and she looked around. Several people sat around a table, their hands moving, chattering idly to each other. She looked up at him, and he nodded. They walked over together, and the people looked up, smiling. "Is this the latest, then, Gabe?" "Indeed she is," he replied, smiling. "This is Lindsay." She made a little sound. "How'd you know my name?" He chuckled, then, and leaned closer. "It's on your necklace, honey." She looked down, then turned red, and tucked it inside her shirt with her free hand. He squeezed the other gently. "That's better. No-one here is going to hurt you, but it's good to keep some things to yourself, hmm?" She nodded, relaxing slightly. "C'mon, let's look at what they're doing," he said, and lifted her up to one of the half-circle benches that surrounded the table, so that she could see.

The table was hollowed, and the indentation was filled with water that came in at one side and drained at another. She looked at him, and he held out his hand. "May I have the ones you picked up, Lindsay?" She fished them out of her pocket and gave them to him, and he poured them, along with the ones in his pouch, into the water. The others gathered around, then, each fishing one of the little lumps out and polishing it until it shone. Her mouth formed a little O of pleasure as they held them up for her to see, grinning at her surprise. The newly-cleaned ones were put into baskets beside the benches, and as she watched, one of the baskets was collected by a very pretty woman who smiled at her, and called "Good luck this time, Gabe," before she walked away. Gabe looked at Lindsay watching the woman, and chuckled. "That's Mandy. We have to go see her next, would you like to go now?" She nodded, and he lifted her down, taking her hand again. As they turned to go, one of the older women at the bench pressed something into Lindsay's free hand. Gabe lifted an eyebrow, but didn't protest. "Thanks, Muriel." "No problem," Muriel replied, and she winked at Lindsay. "You hang onto that, honey. Everyone's entitled to at least one." Nodding, the little girl tucked it into her pocket. "Thank you," she remembered to say, and then Gabe was walking away, and she followed.

They found Mandy standing at a huge window, looking out at the stars. Gabe let go, and Lindsay walked over to Mandy, who put her arm around the child's shoulders without looking down. In front of Mandy was a tall concrete column, and Lindsay could see the edge of one of the baskets peeking over the edge of the concrete. Mandy took one of the stones out of the basket, and sat down beside Lindsay. "You know what they are?" Lindsay nodded. "They're stories, right?" "Yes," Mandy said. "Would you like to help me bring this one back?" "I think so," Lindsay said doubtfully, "but how do we do that?" Mandy smiled, and handed the stone to the girl. "Tell it," she said. "Or, rather, let it tell you." The thing glinted in Lindsay's hand, and she stared, fascinated. And as she watched, scenes began to flash across the stone, playing out like a movie. She didn't know when she began speaking, or see the glance Mandy and Gabe gave each other over her head. She noticed nothing until the story had played itself out, and then she gasped, because what lay in her hand wasn't a rock any more. It shone and gleamed, expanded, and as she watched, it rose of its own accord, growing brighter as it went, till it joined the other stars in the night sky. She turned back to Mandy and Gabe then, her eyes bright with questions. And, sitting down with her, they answered all of them. When she understood what they were offering, she nodded emphatically, and clasped her hands to keep from clapping them. Mandy kissed her, then, and Gabe took her back to where she had met him. Looking down at her, he smiled. "See you soon, Lindsay." And she, replying, her voice as filled with joy and eagerness as his, threw her arms about his waist and hugged him. "See you soon, Gabe!" And then she let go, and was gone. He settled down to wait, his heart a little lighter. The next one would be along soon. One in a hundred, perhaps... the failure rate was high. But the one made up for it, really.
kuangning: (thoughtful)
The days passed quickly, the pace set by nurse's visits and the non-demanding presence of the baby. She slept almost as much as the newborn did the first day or so, waking for progressively longer periods of time to hold and attempt to feed the child. The second evening, she awoke to find that her milk had come in, and she laughed nervously at the sight of herself in the bathroom mirror. It was temporary, she knew, but it would take some getting used to anyway. For the moment, she showered and then improvised a binding with a towel, hoping to keep the distension to a minimum. She kept Lyssa with her for a long time that night, relieved when she actually woke up enough to eat, her serious eyes opening, then drifting shut like a doll's. Aside from the wailing at birth, she had not cried, not even when given her first vaccinations. When returned to her crib so that her mother could eat her own dinner, she simply closed her eyes again, and slept.
kuangning: (Default)
She awoke to find a different nurse standing beside her bed. In the plastic and metal bassinette lay a tightly-swaddled bundle, eyes shut and black wisps of hair curling wildly.

She smiled, falling through a dizzy, giddy moment of recognition. The nurse reached down and picked the infant up, and as she reached up to take her daughter from the nurse's arms, already jealous of contact, she knew that nothing would ever be the same. Frightened but joyful, she took the baby.

Alys -- Allie? Lyssa, she decided mentally -- woke as the transfer was made, though the infant did not cry. Solemn eyes fastened on hers, and she felt hers widen. Lyssa's eyes were a deep violet. "Where," she asked the baby softly, "did you get those?" There was no response, of course, and she sighed, unwrapping the swaddling and running her fingertips lightly over the baby's tiny legs and toes. Lyssa's skin was wrinkled, tissue-thin, and papery, blue-traced veins visible underneath. "You're so beautiful," she whispered, hugging the baby close. "So beautiful." She didn't notice when the nurse left the room.

Chosen.

Oct. 13th, 2002 10:18 pm
kuangning: (writing)
Calm though she was, prepared though she was, the sudden urge frightened her, startled her through its rawness. She had expected it, but she had not known how all-consuming it would be, that it would be impossible to think of anything else but this need. Gritting her teeth, every muscle in her body tense, she pushed. The nurse, startled as well, began a protest that never was voiced. Instead, casting a hopeful glance toward the door through which the doctor still had not come, she made the final preparations, pressing the call button herself to summon another nurse. It was time.

Wave upon wave, it rocked her, and she responded, aware of nothing except her body's demand -- not even the child crossed her thoughts. When the feeling subsided, it was only long enough to draw a breath, not to relax. Time slipped by uncounted, and the child had wailed twice, unheard, before a sudden and newly powerful rush delivered her from the geas, and she sucked in a shuddering breath, and let herself fall back upon the pillow.

When she could speak again, she met the nurse's calm gaze. "My baby?" "Is fine," the nurse said gently. "It's a girl." She nodded, unsurprised. "Have you got a name for her?" "Alys," she replied. "Her name is Alys."
kuangning: (writing)
Chosen, continued. )
kuangning: (writing)
The stars were clear and bright, and she tried to focus on them, ignoring the cold seeping through the worn jacket that was pulled tightly around her. The stones she was lying on compounded the problem, leeching the heat from her body almost faster than she could generate it, but the stars, serene and oblivious, had always helped calm her. Flat on her back, her arms cushioning her head, she half-listened to the faint drone of the occasional car, and the rippling of the water. It was too cold to let herself cry, but her eyes blurred and stung anyway.

It seemed that hours had passed when the sound of something scuttling over the rocks and gravel nearby caught her attention and alarmed her enough to make her sit up, but the thin sliver of moon had barely moved in the sky. Glancing around nervously, she saw a large rat disappearing into the black shadows of the the bridge, where daytime passers-by had thrown chunks of bread to feed the birds. Her shoulders slumped a little, and, turning her back on the creature, she wrapped her arms around her knees. The windblown water sparkled in the light cast by the streetlamps as the river curved its way around downtown and under another distant bridge. She smiled, a brittle smile that left her eyes still bleak. It was a beautiful night. She should go without the jacket or wade out into the water, it would make it faster, but already the wind was almost unbearable. Closing her eyes, resting her forehead on her knees, she waited.

_Chosen_. Disturbing subject matter -- don't read if rape is a trigger for you. My apologies. )
kuangning: (artistic)
He led her to a tiny room, and indicated that she should sit. Maya perched on the edge of a little cot, and he seated himself facing her, on a chair. The only other furnishing in the room was an old-fashioned pedestal wash stand. "This is your room," he said. "We haven't many other girls right now so you get to have it to yourself." She looked around again. "It's mine? Just like that? What do you want in return?" He raised his hands in a gesture of denial, palms outward. "Don't worry about that. We're here to help you. If you really want to repay us, we'll talk about it after you've gotten settled in. Certainly not before you've had a few days to get your bearings. I'll go now, and send Rhia to you. She's been here since she was two, and she'll help you find your way around." He rose, and made his way out, pausing in the doorway to smile at her. "I'm glad you've made it here, Maya. And I think you'll find that you like it. Most of our girls do."

She sat on the cot, staring after him, until his footsteps could no longer be heard, and rubbed absently at the tingling spot on her arm, which was somehow worse than ever. And, unseen and unsuspected, outside the house her Guardian waited, and cursed himself for a fool.

Seth shifted his weight uneasily from one knee to another, and scowled to himself. Why was he hesitating? He ought to be retrieving the girl, and going about his business. She'd be returned to the Home, or placed in detention if she chose to be intransigent, but she would, either way, no longer be his responsibility. That was the point, wasn't it? He turned the thought over in his mind, keeping up the internal monologue that almost every Guardian developed who spent more than about four years in the field.


The chirp was soft and questioning, but he started anyway, putting an end to his thoughts, and reached for the compact telesat unit he carried. He didn't bother to glance at the identifying code: the list of people who knew how to reach him this way was astonishingly short. The list of people who would dare use the information was much shorter.

"Kerrington." Seth's tone, though calm, was just this side of arctic.

"Report, Hollinger." The reply was crisp: Lindsay Kerrington was not at all disturbed by Seth's coolness. Allowing himself a small grimace, Seth made his report, not omitting the fact that he had the opportunity to recover the girl. Thorn in his side though Kerrington might be, she allowed him complete autonomy in the actual handling of his cases, intruding only to demand reports. When he had finished, Kerrington made a small, noncommittal sound, and then there was the chirp as she broke the connection without comment. This time, he actually scowled as he replaced the unit, and then he turned his thoughts back to the task at hand. He decided to wait and observe. Perhaps this time he would be able to make sure that this particular household ceased operation. He'd just as soon not see another of his charges wind up within its walls.

(more to come -- Maya's being difficult. ;) )
kuangning: (Default)
Maya



She stumbled around the corner of the building, and crouched down behind the dumpsters in the alley to catch her breath. Her dark hair fell in tangled curls over her face, and she brushed it back with her hand with a gesture that revealed frightened amber eyes in an impossibly young face. She stayed still only long enough to stop panting, and to give her surroundings a shrewd look-over. Then she pulled a knapsack from her back, and, producing a brush and compact, began to work quickly. In short order, the mop of curls had been pulled into a simple twist on top of her head, and an application of make-up had lessened the traumatised expression she still wore, and added a few years to her apparent age. Behind her, she could hear people approaching; it was time to go.

She stood gracefully, not displaying any outward signs of undue hurry, though the haunted look never left her eyes, and walked over to the nearest corner, where she crossed the street without looking back, and disappeared into the foot traffic.

longish story bit )

September 2015

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