100 Words, Number 13: “Revenge”

For the next 87 posts I’ll be following DeviantArt user QueenPetra’s 100 Word Challenge List. Today’s word: “Revenge”

I feel a sick thrill of horror deep in the pit of my stomach as I stand over her body. Blood pools in the palm of her lily-white hand, trailing gently down her arm from the wound in her side. Her once-bright eyes stare blankly, darkly up at me, and I suppress a heavy shudder.

My sister is dead.

My sister is dead.

Bile rises, stinging in my throat, burning by my hectic-beating heart.

I slowly turn from her. Though I do not glance back, I feel the pricking of her death-stare between my shoulderblades. Slow, measured steps take me from the side of my beautiful, innocent sister. I leadenly lift the latch and leave her there in the front room. The door slams behind me with a hefty finality, cutting me off once and for all from the life I once loved.

will make him pay — the son-of-a-bitch that brought this on her.

If it hadn’t been for him, my lily-white sister would still be alive.

He looks up with surprise when I enter his workshop. As he takes in my expression, all color drains from his face.

“She’s dead,” I blankly say.

“Dead!” The awl falls from his suddenly-limp fingers. And then, “What have you done?” The words emerge like a death-rattle.

“She was pure, and innocent, and good,” I snarl, advancing on him. “You couldn’t stand it, could you? Seeing her so unsoiled?”

“Are you mad? I loved her!” He takes a step backward. The tools on the workbench rattle as the backs of his legs come up hard against it.

“Then you shouldn’t have touched her.” I am almost upon him now.

“What have you done, you– nngh…” His eyes widen one last time, and blood dribbles from his lips as I thrust the dagger deeper into his side. My sister’s blood mingles with his on the blade.

“You killed her,” I rasp, “as surely as if you’d held the knife.”

I move toward the door, then pause there, glancing back over my shoulder at the body sprawled across the workbench.

“I had no choice,” I whisper, and a single tear escapes my eye.

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100 Words, Number 13: “Revenge”

100 Words, Number 12: “Clouds”

For the next 88 posts I’ll be following DeviantArt user QueenPetra’s 100 Word Challenge List. Today’s word: “Clouds” (Note: From now on, I’ll be posting these as I come up with them, rather than doing one every day.)

I tumble head over heels, my loose bloomers whipping wildly about my legs as the raging wind tears frantically through my fluttering hair. I laugh deep within my soul, but keep my mouth braced closed against the raging air. With great effort I draw my arms tight against my body and kick my legs out straight behind me, turning my free-fall into a more controlled dive. Tears spring unbidden to my eyes, but I wouldn’t close them for worlds.

Creamy darkness and damp surround me for a moment, and when I emerge again into the light I am chilled and enlivened by the moisture on my skin. Below the clouds I fall, arrow-like, toward the gray and purple moor far below. It looms ever-closer, the unyielding earth, and faster and faster, until I can almost make out individual heather fronds. At the last moment before my courage breaks, out snap my wings, catching the aggressive wind and throwing me aloft. I soar upward in a few hearty strokes and release a long-held breath in a gusty, elated sigh. My wings burn, but their burning tells me I am alive.

100 Words, Number 12: “Clouds”

100 Words, Day 11: “Rose”

For the next 89 days I’ll be following DeviantArt user QueenPetra’s 100 Word Challenge List. Today’s word: “Rose” (And sorry about the excessive delay — this one proved to be uniquely uninspirational for me.)

She sat on the crumbling stone wall, staring out across the ocean with her chin in her hand. The wind tossed her chestnut hair, teasing it this way and that. The girl herself never stirred, save for the pensive twirling of a long-stemmed rose that dangled from between pale fingers.

Should she go, or should she stay?

Her eyes strayed from the unending sea to the ruddy rose, and a little smile quirked her lips. Colin was a sweet boy, and he loved her — why shouldn’t she stay with him?

But the sea called to her, a siren song that promised adventure and excitement and experiences far beyond the imagination of her quiet little village. She watched the waves tumble over each other and imagined herself upon them, exploring them, claiming them as her own.

She looked from the sea to the rose and back again, then gently placed the rose upon the wall beside her and stood, dusting off her skirt. She gathered up her mother’s seal-coat and advanced toward the waves, shedding her human garments one by one until she stood bare upon the beach. And then, in a swirl of fur, the maiden was gone

100 Words, Day 11: “Rose”

100 Words, Day 10: “Dreamcatcher”

For the next 90 days I’ll be following DeviantArt user QueenPetra’s 100 Word Challenge List. Today’s word: “Dreamcatcher”

A woman stood, silhouetted, against the grungy city skyline. A massive sword rested on her shoulder, and her determined brown eyes were nearly black in this low lighting. She was motionless, poised, waiting — for what?

A noise. Her head turned sharply to pinpoint it, then she was off, crossing gaps between skyscrapers in tremendous leaps and bounds. The wind of her passage ruffled her purple pixie cut and sent her leather trenchcoat rippling out behind her. Each step was faster than the last, until she was almost flying.

And then, abruptly, she stopped.

On the street below her a dark shape snuffled along, grunting in low tones, unaware of the forbidding figure poised above.

Without a sound she dropped, two or three stories at least, and landed with enough force to crack the pavement. The monstrous shape turned and growled, began to lumber toward her. She whipped her sword out, holding it threateningly before her, and it paused, sizing her up.

That pause was its first mistake.

Without waiting for the monster to decide whether or not she was worth attacking, the woman attacked, slashing and cutting and stabbing with a furious speed. As before, with each movement she grew faster and faster, until the beast had no hope of keeping up with her….

Then another growl, just behind her.

As she started to turn a heavy paw slammed into her, knocked her into a pile of garbage bags, sent her sword spinning across the darkened street. The woman rolled off the bags with a groan, momentum lost, and found that both beasts were now between her and her sword.

They began to advance, growling, baring twisted teeth.

She took one step back, then another, then turned and ran. They gave chase, wailing their war cry, as she ran faster and faster….

Then in a blink she turned, charged back toward them, leaped high and long over both and landed in a sprint. Within moments she had retrieved her fallen sword and turned to face them again. This time she did not pause, did not size them up — she kept her momentum, charging forward straight into their gaping jaws.

Snikt!

One head went rolling, and the woman charged past, turned again, sprinted toward the remaining beast.

Snikt!

Two heads lay bleeding in the street behind two bodies. She slowed, stopped, turned and made her way back toward the corpses.

As she watched, the monsters dissolved into the pavement, leaving behind that sticky black residue that nightmares always left behind.

The woman smiled a satisfied little smile and turned to climb the nearest fire escape. It was always faster to operate from above. And in the city where dreams came true, it was vital to take care of the nightmares as quickly as possible.

She reached the top of the building and turned to look back at the little gooey patches far below. Again she smiled, content with a good night’s work.

This wasn’t just her job; this was her passion. Her life.

She was Pam — the Dreamcatcher.

100 Words, Day 10: “Dreamcatcher”

100 Words, Day 9: “Obsession”

For the next 91 days I’ll be following DeviantArt user QueenPetra’s 100 Word Challenge List. Today’s word: “Obsession”

“Sir? Sir, please, it’s been three days. You need your rest!”

The General sighed through his nose and kept his weary eyes trained on the map spread out before him. This aide had been pestering him incessantly to rest, to sleep, to close his eyes just for a moment… “Incompetent,” he growled, forcing a little more coffee down his swollen throat. “Incompetent, the lot of ’em.”

“Sir, if you could just take a moment to–”

“Don’t you see?!” The General turned sharply to face his aide, his bulging, bloodshot eyes narrowed to angry slits. “I can’t trust any of these idiots! It’s thanks to people like them that Calhoun got away in the first place! Bah — ought to keelhaul the lot of ’em!”

“Sir, it was one man’s mistake. Do you think it just to condemn every man beneath you because of what he did?” He didn’t think it helpful to remind the General that keelhauling was a not an effective punishment for the crew of an airship.

“Son,” his superior replied, rubbing a weary hand across his face, “don’t you see? The last time I trusted someone to do his ruddy job, the greatest traitor of our time was allowed to escape. If I want Calhoun brought in, I’ll have to do it myself.” The General turned back to his map. “I won’t sleep until that man is brought in… dead or alive.”

100 Words, Day 9: “Obsession”

100 Words, Day 8: “Hopeless”

For the next 92 days I’ll be following DeviantArt user QueenPetra’s 100 Word Challenge List. Today’s word: “Hopeless”

He slammed against the heavy oak door yet again, with the same result as he’d obtained the last dozen times: a resounding thud as it shook on its sturdy hinges and yet another bruise on his shoulder. With a quiet grunt he slid to the floor and let his head hang between his knees.

Already he’d meticulously searched every inch of his prison for some weakness, any place that might allow a particularly tenacious person some hope of escape. When that failed, he’d taken to the less levelheaded strategy of hammering at the door on the slim chance it would break down. But Liam had never been a large man, and even someone of exceptional strength would have had a devil of a time shaking that door from its hinges.

It was useless. He’d be stuck here until the day he died, or until the day his little rebel band won. Might as well hope for a pig to fly in the window and give me a ride to freedom, he thought, smiling a little at his own wry pessimism. Goodness, how had he ever come to lead a hopeless rebellion? A realist like him? That  was the real miracle.

“And unless something quite remarkable happens,” he said to himself, “I’d best get used to this place. Perhaps they’ll bring me a book if I ask politely.”

100 Words, Day 8: “Hopeless”

100 Words, Day 7: “Mist”

For the next 93 days I’ll be following DeviantArt user QueenPetra’s 100 Word Challenge List. Today’s word: “Mist”

Moorish mist swirled around her, curling at her pale ankles, as she stepped away from the warm glow of her home-fire. Mud oozed up between her toes, leeching any warmth from her bare feet, and a cold gust of wind ruffled her gauzy white gown. The only color upon the moor that night was her hair, copper-red and gently shining in the light of a merciless moon. She shivered, but pressed on, recoiling not from the wild’s icy embrace. Her arms floated gracefully at her sides, though it took all her effort to keep from drawing them in to hold back whatever bit of heat remained within her. Chin up, eyes staring boldly ahead, she trudged across the unforgiving flatness with slow, regal gait.

They said it was here, alone beneath the moon, that the night queen would grant the wish of one who was brave enough to come before her. Branwen could only hope that this was true.

One way or another, she did not intend to return from the moor that night.

She walked alone, the starlight shining gently upon her, and felt as though she walked away from all that she had ever known. Perhaps if they found her, they would say she had gone mad and wandered off, had been left to freeze upon the moor for her foolishness. She did not care for them; she cared only for the night queen’s answer to her burning request.

As the last vestige of warmth seeped from her skin, she felt the world shift around her. All at once she found herself before a throne of great grandeur, upon which sat the fairest and most terrible woman that she had ever laid eyes upon. Without a thought Branwen sank to her knees, stretched out her arms in supplication.

“Rhiannon,” she breathed, and the name was like a prayer.

“I am Rhiannon. Why do you seek me, mortal?” the woman asked, her lilting voice betraying no emotion.

“Please, Majesty, but I have nowhere else to turn. I have come to beg a boon of you.”

“Speak, child — what is it?”

Branwen took in a deep breath, perhaps her last breath, and made her request. “May I enter your court, my lady, and serve you as one of your maidens?”

Rhiannon tilted her head and studied the mortal for a long moment. Then, slowly, a smile spread across her fair and terrible countenance. She nodded, once.

Alone on the moor, a copper-haired corpse smiled with her.

100 Words, Day 7: “Mist”