Archive for expression

What Happened Further

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2018 by beautifulimposter

Far above the grumbling of the traffic, the rising sun rose fat and butter yellow, pouring thick, golden syrup light past the broken stump grey teeth of the skyline. The sky was a deep blue, fading to paler and paler shades towards the line of the horizon, layers of gauzy mist boiling around the edges of sight. If one were to cast their eyes over the rooftops, in amongst the old cisterns squatting upon rickety legs, the forests of old antenna and satellite dishes whispering one to another, their eyes might alight upon a figure standing precariously upon the very edge of one of the buildings. Then again, one might not.

He looked a slash of night sliced neat and clean through the growing daylight, the tails of his coat ruffling only slightly in the feeble fingers of the breeze that even up so high wheezed and struggled to tug upon them. The Imposter squinted into the rising sun, eyes watching the milling crowds below, people and cars and busses traversing paths to and fro as if on rails or writing out in serpentine lines strange runes of daily ritual. This was not really his time, at least so he felt, there was no real restriction put upon him yet he always felt more acclimated to the between times, dawn, twilight, those moments that were not quite one thing or the other. His realm was the cracks between things.

He cast a glance down to his right hand, long fingers parted, the daylight streaming through them, creating an illusion of separate ribbons. They scissored closed suddenly, leaving the stranded beams hanging limp between, the color of fresh clover honey. As he gathered up his new prize the still, heavy air beside him resounded to the beating of wings, a familiar shape feathering the corner of his eye in ragged shadow.

“All is well I trust?” The Imposter turned, looking down at the crow settling his wings along his sleek back, ruffling them repeatedly till they rested to their owner’s satisfaction. “I must say, I thought you cut a fine figure, grey looks very good on you.” At this the crow tilted an ink drop eye, turned, ran his sharp beak down one glistening black feather until each strand was in place.

“Thank you sire” the beak moved and the words ran out of it smooth as silk. While some might know crows could talk, they might well expect it to be a rasping, coughing voice, hardly the deep, rolling Spanish accent that issued forth. It was fortunate then that foiling expectations just happened to be one of the small joys of the speaker. “Things do seem quiet for the time being, The Brethren have been bringing me report and not all have come in, but everything thus far has been in order.”

The Imposter spun, folding down cross-legged upon the ledge, running the strands of daylight through his fingers, parting them over and again until they became thinner, filigree that shimmered and glinted over the dark hollows of his palms. “What of the girl then?” His tone remainder casual, yet Skergaal knew his lord well and could sense the curiosity begging to be satisfied.

“I have had her watched for some time now, as you asked my lord. There appears to be nothing out of the ordinary, just a normal, mortal girl, perhaps twenty-six years of age, although I can’t swear to that. My people do try to be thorough, but I didn’t think it necessary to authorize breaking and entering to get more precise details.” The crow shuffled back and forth, a soldier making report, strutting a bit along the narrow stonework. “I don’t think she is anything to be concerned with, perhaps just a touch more perceptive than most, or perhaps just able to see by happenstance. It has happened before.”

The Imposter closed his eyes, letting his mind see clearly. There was not one thing he had seen that he could not remember clearly and in the soft shadows behind his lids a pair of eyes appeared, he could see the curve of them, the striations in the irises, all the subtle shades of blue rippling through, lines and coronas of color in vivid detail. “You keep saying thus my friend, yet I think there is more.” While it was a general rule that he could not be seen by mortals when he did not will it to be so, even those that could, lunatics, young children that life and passage of time had not yet beaten wonder out of, even…magicians, all felt different. No, this was something else, she had seen him clear and as himself, seen right into the bones of him and that was not right, was worrisome. “It May amount to nothing, as you say yet I feel there is somewhat to be watchful of, it is an anomaly, and I think should not be overlooked.”

Feathers ruffled softly “I think it unwise to concern yourself too much over the affairs of the mortals lord” Skergaal shifted his feet, both out of apprehension as well as the growing heat of the brick beneath them. “Even if this girl was possessed of any scrap or crumb of true power, what of it? Even the most mighty of them have proven at most minor inconveniences, and this one seems hardly that.”

“Yet you seem to be withholding your full counsel, why might that be I wonder?” The Imposter’s eyes flicked open, golden brown, piercing, deep as wells. In his lap his fingers still played with the threads, weaving, plating, nimble and dexterous. “Could it perhaps be that you fear my judgement could be faulty in the matter? Or perhaps you felt her gaze upon you today and have concerns of your own?” This last came with a Cheshire grin, thin lips turning up in amusement as the alert eyes caught the nervous shuffling.

“Do you spy on me now my lord?” Skergaal tilted his bullet head, one eye cocked to meet The Imposter’s formidable gaze, almost, but not quite yet as sharp. “I would hope that my loyalty was not so in question as to lead to such measures.”

“And I would hope you wouldn’t deflect the question with another, a rather obvious device, my most cunning of feather dusters” while The Imposter had no doubt that the affront was entirely feigned he added the gentle needling to put Skergaal more at his ease. “Come now, tell it true, what did you make of her?”

Skergaal fluttered his wings, turning his back upon Nevermore, head held up at a ‘well I never’ angle, then turning to look back. “As I said, she seems simple enough, perhaps a bit more put together than some of their young. A bit of a study in contradictions at times, although I must say that could go for the lot of them…and yet” here Skergaal trailed off, a pensive expression swirling in the depths of his eyes “…and yet, there was a moment, a brief sliver of time where I felt her gaze tugging at the edges of my seeming, little mice fingers trying to unknot the weaving of it. I can’t say for certain, but given time, she might have seen through.” The words seemed to come more and more reluctantly as if the sharp edged beak were trying to snap them to ribbons before they could find utterance.

“I see” The Imposter returned his eyes to his handiwork, now holding a delicate net, perhaps of veil of woven sunlight, little jewels of it forming the knots between the diamond panes. It sparked and winked, an utter impossibility of golden amber held betwixt his fingertips, giving the dark bronze of his skin an unearthly luster. With a suddenness he stood, unfolding and striding over the rooftop in one motion, slipping the wondrous trinket into one of his proverbially deep pockets.

“Master, what vexes you, why the alarm?” Skergaal burst into ungainly flight, the suddenness of Nevermore’s departure having him hop fluttering into the air, wings splashing in the thick air to keep up.

“No vexation, at least no great one.” The Imposter’s long legs took him swiftly onward, boots scrunching over the gravel upon the rooftop. “Your words have given me more to think on, yet at present there is not much to be done about the matter now.” As he moved, The Border gathered, bright new day faded to muted shades, replaced by twilight blues and purples, strange stars now pricking out of the sky. The building beneath his feet shifted, rose up taller of a sudden, became a steep peak as the church spire that had been just between this building and the next a hundred years ago became a slope his feet climbed effortlessly. “We have lingered long enough in The Real for now and if there are no pressing matters there, I am sure there will be in The Borderlands. Time waits for no one, the insufferable bastard.”

“Very well my lord” Skergaal found the match to The Imposter’s pace, wings beating more sedately as he followed along through the growing familiar strangeness all about them. Gothic brickwork became something more Art Deco, replaced then with peeling paint and rust grimed grillwork as The Imposter descended a fire escape that hadn’t existed for decades. Deeper and deeper the two wound their way into The Borderlands, both lost in silent thought, finding comfort in the weirdness as the bright world closed up behind them.


The Imposter Remembers

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The wind makes the tails of my coat snap, pennants whipping behind me. It moans, softly, but steady, a constant, drawn out exhalation, weary, grieved, the sound after the first sharpness of loss, when it’s become dull, familiar. The only other sound at all in the vast, flat emptiness is the hiss of dust, fine particles rubbing one over the other, small, but when multiplied by a billion billion times it becomes a delicate roaring, the terrible monotone of absolute desolation. The dust is red, fine as sand yet gritty and it stings my cheeks.

In every direction there is nothing, maybe the faintest trace of geography, the hint of a hill worn down, pressed into submission by Time’s heavy thumb, or the suggestion of a valley, but for the most part the land is a table beneath the perfect bowl of the sky. It is a nothingness made so much deeper when added to the knowledge of abscence, the ache of a festering within flesh that appears whole, the rememberence of a wound scabbed over, healed, but still present. There was something here once and it lingers in the hole it has left.

I know, right where I stand was a plaza, the architecture of it a wonder, stone and steel and living plants woven together, hung with lights, glistening with fountains that would lift up columns of air and water that caught the beams of lanterns and threw up jeweled fire into the night air. Beside me, a bench still holds the lover’s that sat, hands entwined in knotwork of love and flesh and bone, content to be each with each, watching the passers by but only with concern for one another. Children swirl around, have me spinning on my heels as they run, a school of bright fish flicking this way and that, laughing, mischievous, full of wonder and dreams and promise. I can look into a shopfront, see the makers at their trades, here haggling, there bent to their craft, one taking their meal with a spouse that brought it, another passing along the secrets held within a lifetime of callouses, failures, and successes. It was all here, and now it is gone. I see it still though, I must, there is not a thing I do not remember, not one since my eyes opened. Every single moment exists perfect and complete within my mind, drawing the was over the is, making a palimpsest, a double exposure that defines the emptiness and drags it across my memory like a razor.

I had no choice. If I had not acted, the one who came from Outside would have riven the entire universe, shaped it into what its vision thought it should be and all would have been undone, every life across billions of planets snuffed out. I tried to reason with it, tried words to steer it from its course but these failed. It was far too sure in its reason, built an impregnable fortress of certainty and righteousness. So I, being the guardian of The Real, sought to fight it. That, that was foolish. The power of it was vast and deep, so deep the well of it could crush you down just by the pressure of it being. Those inside do not change anything, not really. Magic, power, it can be used to make things happen, bound in patterns and spells, but reality itself remains the same as both hammer and nail remain fundamentally the same when applied one to the other. Their nature never changes. Those Outside though, with the power in them make things different, can simply make what is in their mind be and not only be but always have been, reweaving the threads of reality. It was a power I could not withstand.

We fought across the stars, across worlds, plunging through clouded nebulae, where it passed The Real screamed, tortured into new shapes, rent apart in ragged wounds I did my best to suture shut even as I fought back, striking with every charm or spell I could remember or devise, attempting to surround it with The Border as a body might do with a cyst, condoning off its infection, but it changed and shifted and slipped free. I know not how long we fought, time flowed in torrents, a gale of it whipping me, lashing and battering as I contended with The Outsider until at the last I was weary, wounded, a blackened rag flapping at its heels while it was undiminished, a titan that would pale Chronos, towering, invincible. It turned to me and in that moment, in its eyes I could see my undoing, but not just that, my cessation, the complete unwriting of me and everything that had ever been. I could see only one avenue, one small, desperate gleaming thread, so delicate that it might snap even by clinging to it. I knew what it would mean as it and I stood upon the curvature of the planet’s atmosphere, I knew the cost down to the penny, down to the last bright life just as I knew that if I did not act the price would rise too great to account for. In that last moment, as it turned to gloat in its triumph, I broke The Border.

The Unreal poured into The Real. The space around us boiled as nothing became something and then nothing again, endlessly, warping everything it touched, dissolving the rules, eating away at the is with the isn’t as a wave might eat a castle of sand upon the shore. It crashed into The Outsider and where it was became something else, twisting so rapidly even it could not hold onto itself and was undone. Alas, it did not stop there. The planet beneath us was tortured, racked by storms of madness, stone and seas and flesh melted, ran like wax, became something else but all of it, all of it dead. By the time I’d grasped the ragged seams of reality and knotted it back together all that remained was a planet shaped grave.

All of this I can see, as I stand on the planet’s surface, on what once had been stone, in the middle of what once had been a plaza in what once had been a living city, that had once been a part of a civilization that exists only in my memory of it. I come here every year to stand upon the red, red sands and remember them. They kept their history in one long song, each new thing, every discovery, every new event another verse. I learned it long, long ago and it still exists perfectly in my mind. So every year that has passed since then, millions of years before life would even be a contemplation for its nearest neighbor, I come, and I stand in the emptiness and let the wind bite at my coat and let the dried blood sting my cheeks and I sing. I sing the decades, the centuries, the rising and falling mingling with the dull ache of the moaning wind, I sing the life of a people that were beautiful and terrible as all other people save these where stalks mowed too soon leaving their field fallow and barren. Alone, I sing and remember, always, my purpose and my failure.

The Girl Waking Up

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The eyes looked at her, looked through her, seemed to see everything there was in her to see, stripped through layers of pretense, the little fictions everyone maintains to stay whole, to stay sane. Two eyes glimmering in the dark, deep, as deep as the night sky in the spaces between the stars, rings of amber and gold circling wells of black just staring, seeing, knowing. Then the waves of it, falling down and down into them, the gravity of them pulling, smothering, the terrifying feeling of being alone, suffocating in its pure emptiness, it was too much, too alien and all on its own, singular and empty, oh so empty, not even air, no air, no…

Abby gasped awake, lids slamming open, taking in air with deep gulps. A trembling hand pressed against her forehead, slick with a thin sheen of sweat, fingers pushing the few stands of her hair back and up as she rose up from the dream. The room was still dark, still coming into focus, but it wasn’t the full velvet dark of true night, it had silver about the edges of it hinting at morning. Her head turned, hand fumbling now for her phone, thumbing the home key, the thin white numbers declaring at to be a bit after six am.

“Fuck me” the words hissed out into the thick, muggy air of her dim room. She closed her eyes again and found the dark behind them mercifully empty. The eyes had disappeared once more. She had no idea why she dreamed them, why a dream of eyes was so very frightening, but it was and they were just the same. The room was hot as hell but her skin was nothing but goosebumps and she shivered. “Get it together” a deep breath, then another. Abby sat up, throwing her legs over the side of her bed, kicking free from the twisted sheet. Daylight filtered in from behind the curtains, outlining the familiar clutter of her room. The dream faded away, being forgotten with each breath.

Time to get up I guess she thought to herself, pushing away from the bed, stumbling through the blanket of clothes, feet shuffling, eyes in that half open not quite awake squint as she wandered into the bathroom. Flicking on the light, cursing it’s brightness Abby fumbled her way through the usual ritual. She swore again as she stepped into the shower, the water turned full cold to wash off the stickiness, settling into the cool relief of it after a while. She hummed a bit, the remains of the night swirling down the drain.

On to the kitchen/living room, pulling on the old Murmurs t-shirt that had used to be her big sister’s, the fabric dragging on her still damp skin. Standing in front of the sink, water filling up the carafe, looking out the window but not really seeing anything, the usual line of flat, grey buildings crawling beneath the sky. Once the coffee was on, the machine gurgling to itself in a warm, fragrant steam, Abby untwisted the plastic bag, pulling out an English muffin, carefully plunging a fork into the soft, squidgy sides of it, pulling it apart just so that it came away in two halves of jagged deliciousness. Toaster, butter, jam, mug of coffee, sit.

Abby scrunched herself up small on the kitchen chair, taking a big, ungainly bite out of her toasted muffin, fully awake now. The light grew brighter and whatever bad dreams she’d had melted. A bit of buttery jam dripped down her chin and she wiped it up into her mouth. This was always her best time, sitting alone, watching the morning growing, eating breakfast, the only sound the rattling clank of the nearly useless air conditioner wheezing from her bedroom window. She absent mindedly pushed around the ripped envelopes and scraps of paper on the battered tabletop. The sight of a bill nagged at her but she pushed the thought back. It was her day off and she just didn’t feel like dealing with it now. She would eventually, of course, just not now.

The appearance of the bird nearly gave her a heart attack. Wings battered the air outside the kitchen window, muffled by the glass but the flurry of movement and sudden sound was magnified by the silence. A black, bullet head above a white collar stared at her from the fire escape railing, cocked at a curious angle.

“What’re you looking at?” Her heart was still hammering as she got up and walked over to the counter for a closer look. The bird, a magpie she thought, just kept looking at her, it’s eyes two tiny drops of ink. “Enjoying the view?” Abby chuckled softly, shrugged, then went to get dressed. It wasn’t too unusual, birds gathered outside all the time, but mostly pigeons. She couldn’t shake the feeling that it was actually watching her either, but she shrugged the idea off. Just a dumb bird.

A few moments later and Abby was out the door, stuffing keys into her jeans pocket, grabbing her camera from the hook in the hall, hanging the strap around her neck. It was still early and there probably wouldn’t be that many people out and about which suited her just fine. Maybe she could get some nice shots in by the river, catch the light on the water just right. The outside air hit her cheeks, already warm, promising to be unbearable as the sun rose. She moved along quickly, eyes alert, the few vague people shapes catalogued in her head as she walked to the end of her street, took a left into the park. It was just early enough that the breeze was still able to rustle the leaves above, the sound of it so soothing. Why can’t it just always be like this Abby thought, just quite and soft. She never once looked up though, didn’t notice the narrow, sleek, dark shapes fluttering from branch to branch.

The water slipped by the low, grassy banks, it’s surface ribbons of current breaking up the sunlight. The big willow overhung the river, slender branches trailing in the flow of it. Abby squatted down, pulling the camera up, focusing it on the shifting patterns of light and dark. These were going to turn out well, she could feel it, almost see the images forming on the film as she clicked away. The second thunderous fluttering of the day had her stumbling back, landing on her ass.

“Jesus fucking christ, what is it with you today?!?” This time it was a large crow, his wings settling along his back like a schoolmasters hands. He cocked his head to one side, then the other, croaking softly. Abby gave a crooked grin, watching him hop-step in front of her. Without quite knowing why, she brought her camera to bear once more. “Want your picture taken, that it?” She clicked away, muttering under her breath, “that’s it, oh yeah, fierce, work it, oooooh, right there, a bit more pout, lemme see those bedroom eyes.” In spite of herself Abby laughed as the crow strutted back and forth, occasionally giving the thick grass a vicious pecking. “You know a pervy magpie by any chance?”

“Crawk!” It was almost, but not quite a response. A strange feeling prickled at the base of Abby’s neck, the fine hairs standing up. “What’s got into these fucking birds today?” She stood, taking a step back. Whatever peace she’d felt, the satisfaction of doing a thing she loved, how she saw the world through the camera lense fled. “Seriously, go fuck yourself Mr. Crow” Brow crinkled, Abby turned away, walking back the way she’d come. She’d need to stop by work, get her check, then the bank. Her mind wandered back on to normal thoughts, trying to push away the sudden oddness. Were there really more birds than usual? No, just her vicious mind toying with he again. “Get a fucking grip”

Abby left the park, her feet finding the familiar grooves, the growing sounds of cars and people washing over her, walking off the unease behind her. Just another day, one more in a long line of them, same as before, same as the next. She let out a sigh and went over her list, the things that needed done. As she let herself get carried out into the city, Abby didn’t once look up, didn’t see the flock of crows and magpies trailing behind her like autumn leaves, didn’t feel the eyes on her, black ringed with amber gold watching from their perch upon the blank streetlight as she passed beneath. They followed her until she walked out of sight, another girl fading into the crowd.

The Imposter Has Coffee

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2018 by beautifulimposter

The breeze winds it’s way through the canals, cool, but not unpleasantly so. Early morning light washes over cobbles, not entirely succeeding in banishing lingering bits of the night still hiding in the cracks and under windowsills. The table I occupy sits just out front of a small cafe, mostly empty but filling up slowly with somewhat harried and bleary eyed people in smart suits and skirts. The waiter brings me my espresso, leaving it on the wrought iron tabletop, a vaguely baffled expression clouding his features as he struggles with the conundrum of why he’s serving no one. I don’t need to eat or drink but sometimes the mood strikes me and when I do so I always pay and tip well as I appreciate the effort it takes most to accommodate me. I appreciate good service.

I take a sip, roll the rich, dark coffee over my tongue. Say what you want about humans, they have found several excellent indulgences. I place the cup back upon it’s saucer, pull out a slim silver case and remove a cigarette. I inhale deeply, expelling a plume of blue-grey smoke, twisting it into strange shapes, tableaus of writhing forms that twist and dance around my head, amusing myself as I wait. Then, of a sudden, there is the delicate thunder of wings.

“Of all the habits you could pick up m’lord, must it have been one so noxious?” The chair beside me scrapes over stone and Skergaal sits, dressed today in seeming flesh and a rather sharp suit. Armani I think. “I don’t think I’ll ever understand your amusements sire.”

“Always so formal.” A slight smile crosses my lips. “Have a cup of coffee and enjoy yourself a little, it won’t hurt.” I wave at the waiter. He has no idea why his attention is diverted from walking back into the cafe but he sleepwalks over.

“A cappuccino, please” Skergaal turns his bird bright eyes to me, out of place in the narrow, predatory face. One myth is absolutely true, no one can ever hide the truth in their eyes, no matter how cunning a master of form. The waiter ambles off again, shaking his head to clear it. “After our last conversation my position seemed to be made very clear m’lord.” The tone is even, only knowing him so well can I detect the hint of reproach, the hurt. I wince a little, take a deep drag.

“I am sorry old friend, I was out of sorts already and I lost my composure. You know I value your council, cunning, and wisdom very much.” He preens just a bit, tugging on the cuffs of his shirt. “Our relationship is always a bit fraught, I being who I am but you are the closest thing I have to a true friend Skergaal, and that does mean a great deal.”

“I understand master.” There’s a look that wanders over his face for a moment then flees, perhaps sympathy, perhaps pity, but any such overt emotion is quickly replaced with the usual sternness. “I do try my best to advise, but in familiarity bounds can be overstepped.”

“Sometimes they should be. What worth is an advisor if he cannot speak the truth, even to ears that might not take pleasure in it?”

“Yes, well, the matter seems to have cleared itself up. There’s been no sign of The Outsider and his companions, the magician (this with not even remotely concealed contempt) and the warrior woman have been relatively quiet. I still think you should have been more direct.” As he speaks, the waiter brings Skergaal’s coffee, setting it down, sweat beading on his brow. Ignoring me is one thing, but Skergaal is something else. As he’d never stoop to actually transforming into a human, he simply clothes himself in a semblance of one. This means that ostensibly there is a well dressed man sitting at a table of a cafe while at the same time, inside, is a large, rather intimidating crow. Mortal minds are very, very good at convincing themselves that what they see isn’t, but limits can be tested. The look of relief on the waiters face is nearly pathetically comical.

“Anyway, to business. The Border has been relatively quiet for a while, so there’s something.”

“It is nice when things go as expected” I settle back into my chair, cup in one hand, cigarette in the other. “What if the new arrival?”

“The dragon has been settling in nicely, an absolute terror to the lands about. Several very brave but I am afraid terminally stupid knights have already met their end. The damsel it’s taken doesn’t seem to be minding her new circumstances much, in fact, I’ve report they’ve become rather good friends. Somewhat bucking tradition, but of no real concern.” Skergaal takes a slow sip, movements neat, precise.

“That’s good, and I’m not at all surprised, the beast seemed to have a deep affection for girls.”

“Other than that most recent little event, all else seems unusually stable.”

“Don’t sound so disappointed, it could be considerably more exciting”

“I know master, yet I feel this is but a prelude, I’ve a sense of storm shivering through me.”

“As is usual my friend, when does it not?” I notice some pinwheeling above, set aside my coffee, dip my hand into my pockets and scatter a fistful of seed. The air fills with green purple iridescence and liquid burbling as the pigeons settle.

“Bah, look at them, smug bastards” Skergaal bridles a bit, putting up a wall of scandalized affront. “They think they own the world, strutting about, believing themselves so clever just because the mortals stuff them silly. Gone to fat is what they’ve done, not a trace of The Navigators. Puffed out chest, putting on airs of civilization when they’re little better than flying vermin now.”

“Your people have been known to haunt the footsteps of armies in anticipation of feast, one might not put on so many airs.” I chuckle, knowing this will sting his pride a bit. “Harbingers of woe and wrack as they say old crow”

“Humph, waste not want not, they’re always going to slaughter themselves, I don’t see why good meat should go left to rot.” He glances over again, sharp eyes probing. “You know well their capacity for death, and it isn’t always influenced by the others, oft it’s their own hands turned to it.”

“I know.” There’s a new melancholy unlooked for.

“I worry for you at times Nevermore, your love for these mortals in particular, among all of your charges. The fascination may grow unhealthy.” I cast my gaze about us, watching the city springing to life, the faces of it milling about much the same as the birds at our feet. “They’ll break your heart master.”

“I know” the sigh wells up from somewhere deep, deep within the heart of me, of what I am, of memory and more than memory, what was an what is. “They always do.”

There is a long silence filled with city noise, cars, scooters, the white noise babble of voices punctuated here and there by rising shouts or exclamations. The morning is turning fine, the sky above glimpsed through a maze of ancient rooftops is robin’s egg blue. We sit, two of the strangest strangers, in an island admits so much burgeoning life. We both sip our drinks.

“Excellent coffee” Skergaal breaks silence first.

“Yes, some of the best I’ve found.”

“How are the pastries here?” I reach for another cigarette.

“Decadent, rich, and sinful” Skergaal perks up at that, settling back into his chair.

“Best call the waiter back then, I could murder one” we both have a chuckle at that. “Oh, pass one of those along, I’m gasping for it.” I pull a cigarette from my case, light it as he takes it from me and holds it to his lips, inhaling deeply. We both sit back, smoking, drinking coffee, surrounded by a cloud of smoke and disbelief. “Damn fine day master.”

“I think so too my friend, indeed, very fine.”

The Romantic Imposter

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2018 by beautifulimposter

It is a fine evening, the sun making its way lazily through the deepening blue sky, gently kissing the line of the horizon. There’s some respite from the heat of the day but still, there is a haze in the air, a faint mist clinging to any bare skin. The air seems perfumed, like someone has just split open a ripe tangerine, a thick, sweet scent of flowers mingling with the usual aromas of cars and pavements and people. Yes, it is a fine evening indeed.

“I love you” the words are a sigh, the exhaling of a breath, quite, meant only for the ears of the loved. I brush past the couple, two women holding hands, one’s head resting lightly on the others shoulder as they stroll. I’m quite sure that neither would have noticed me even if I was apparent, even if I’d bowled clean into them. At best I would have been a momentary impediment to their closeness. I can see the threads, red as red as red winding between fingers, knotted and plaited in their hair, tied to lips and tongues and lashes. Not my work, no, the province of another, but I can appreciate the craftsmanship, the complexities of each tied to each, a web of words and touches.

I still along as I am wont to do, letting my eyes wander, following the strands. It seems a night for lovers, the streets cross crossed with fine weavings. A young lad stumbles, a girl laughs and just then a streak of crimson runs from her mouth to his heart. It may amount to nothing at all or it may give birth to a tapestry, but it is a beginning, a hint, a promising of expectation. Not all such seeds bear fruit, but I find the potential pregnant within them intoxicating. If nothing else after all, I am made of nothing but possible so it is my nature. I like to think I could have been a romantic.

Further on an old man is winding up the awning over his shop. His skin is pricked all over with threads, an explosion of crimson webbing him to his store, to the windows above it, to the stoop, the bustop down the way, if you follow them all they’ll touch upon the whole neighborhood in some fashion. The Legion Hall where they’d first danced, the old bench down by the park where they’d sat and held hands, fingers laced together like piano keys side by each. There’s one that flies over to ‘Nam where her letters had kept him less broken than some. One hanging above a mantle somewhere where she’d fought for them both, getting disowned in the process. All the places he and her had touched together, even the bare room where she became nothing more than a shape barely described beneath the sheets, her hand eggshell in his. Fifty six years of thread followed him as he shut up shop, thrumming beneath his skin, telegraph talking of the good and the bad and the inbetween. I can’t help but read it all, feeling a bit of the voyeur, but it makes me smile as I move through the growing evening.

It’s all beautiful in some way, I can’t help but feel it, even I, perpetually and very necessarily alone. Here and there I sneak a few stands into my pockets, they won’t be missed and are quite useful. My footsteps become a waltz, slowly turn and turn about, moved by such aching, beautiful love, all the strands of it being played by the gentle summer breeze. I sigh as well, soft and low, mingling with all the others.

The Imposter Who Did Not Slay A Dragon

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2018 by beautifulimposter

“Sh-sh-she l-l-left me!?!”
I find there is something inherently sympathetic when confronted by something so mighty expressing deep hurt and betrayal. I stood before the dragon, myself a splinter of dark cut out of the summer’s day, it vast, craggy, curled up around the prefabricated playground equipment, nearly, in fact, obscuring it from view. The long, lean muzzle of it lay forlorn upon its front claws and it was snivelling, all in all looking thoroughly wretched. Still, as I stood there before it, I must admit I was impressed. The scales of it glittered, hard, bright, rising into crests of horn, spurs of bone. Altogether, it was magnificent and terrible, a rare specimen indeed.
“Yes, well, they often do tend to do that I’m afraid.” I tried to sound conciliatory, which I truly am, after a fashion. These cases are always rather sad. All of the others born that afternoon, that had been strong enough, had already found their way into the Boarderlands. All the knights, the giant robots, the dinosaurs, the giant robots that were also dinosaurs, the wizards and witches, the herds of varicolored ponies, princesses, unicorns, the tumultuous, madcap horde of Makebelieves the children had imagined up were safely home. Those not so quite well dreamed had simply faded, disolving away the moment their children had been called home, leaving just the dragon.
The girl who’d imagined it up was only nine or ten, which actually made it all the more impressive. The imaginations of young children are indeed powerful, as most know, but they tend to be a bit unfocused. This girl had called up a truly awesome beast, no cartoonish Puff, but a juggernaut of air and fire and thunderous destruction. She’d stood so brilliantly atop the highest slide/castle tower, crowing in delight as her creation circled above her, the stiff, thick pigtails of her dark hair a crown, a valkyrie’s horned helm, triumphant, spurning all foes and would be rescuers in equal measure. So vividly had she dreamed, so fiercely, she would be one needing watching. That, however, would be for later. At this moment I was left with what to do with her titanic Makebelieve. The girl had drawn upon so much of the Unreal that the beast was straining at the edges of Real, at one point in her games the mighty wings so bruised the warm summer air the parents had craned their heads skyward, baffled, seeking telltale signs of thunderclouds that resolutely failed to be there. No, it was imperitive this one come with me, there was nothing else for it. Having a dejected, pouting dragon roaming about, throwing fits, menacing the suburbs, burning up things, or even people, could not be countenanced.
“D-d-do you think she’ll come back?” Such a voice! Generations have tried to recreate it, to vicalize it in the telling of tales, describe it in reams of text, cobble it together from wave forms and sound bytes for the silver screen, but they’ve never come close. How could you convey the roar of a predatory mountain, a hungering deep ocean of fire, the hurricane wings battering the winds into submission? You can’t, thats how, there is no imitating the real thing.
“I am sorry, but it is unlikely. They very rarely Makebelieve the same thing from day to day. Even if she did come back, she’d never dream exactly you again, it would be another.” I look deep into eyes the size of wagon wheels, so deep, so ancient, even just for an afternoon.
“It’s not fair, it’s just not!!!” The great wyrm rises, limbs thrusting upwards, neck a tower of scale and muscle, jaws dripping acid saliva and sharp teeth in equal measure. Great Gyre could that girl child dream! “I was good, I was fierce and mighty and I burned all the boys and princes and knights to cinders just like she wanted!!! I even gulped and devoured the ponies, even if I kind of thought they were pretty a bit!!! IT IS JUST NOT FAIR!!!” The wings extend with a huge, tearing sound, casting deep shade over the playground. Passing joggers peer incredulously at they’re watches as dusk seems to, against all reason, just snuck up on them.
“Very little ever is.” I keep my voice measured, calm. I could easily lose patience, but I always bear in mind that no matter the form, all Makebelieves are but children of hours. “It us the way of things, the children dream, they touch the Boarder with their vast, bright, unspoiled minds and they call you, beasts, faeries, wonders, and nightmares and they play with you until it’s suppertime, or bedtime, or time to do arithmetic. Then they go home, and you can too.”
“What if I don’t want to?” The massive head swoops downwards, thicket of teeth like spears parted, furnace breath sending my coattails dancing. “I am mighty you know” petulance now “I could stay if I liked and what could you do about it? It would not be hard to deal with you, you seem mostly ashes already little man-thing.” The voice is a cat cruel purr but even so could rattle bones into dust. “I could burn you, scatter you upon the winds of me, tear and bite and rend and stomp till there was even less nothing than you are now, I could!!!” The wings tear through the summer skies, rending the sleepy silence. It’s becoming harder to ignore. Actual people are teetering on the edge of believing and that is far too dangerous a precipice.
“No, you can’t” I say it matter of factly, casting it into the teeth of the wing wrought gale. Some believe in threats, some in bluster, others in flash or bombast, displays of naked power that would make professional effects artists weep. I find it best to just speak softly and let the power be felt, let it rise up from bootheels to forelock quietly, making a knot within, a valve holding back immense pressure. This usually drives the point home better than any ranting or ultimatum, just being me and perfectly aware of just what I can do. It has bedn my experience that very little can stand up to such certainty.
The dragon glares, angered, claws carving farmer’s field furrows deep into the rubber chip playground fake ground, roaring now, flames seething out from between clenched jaws, lifting slowly, gravity screaming in protest as several thousand tons of muscle, bone, and sinew rocket upwards. The head rears back, maw gaping, air rushing into lungs the size of small cars. With terrible speed it lashes forward, lunging towards me, eyes glinting in eager anticipation of the release of hellish, firey death…
“Ack….” The look of confusion upon its savage face is nearly amusing as not even a faintly warm breeze issues forth. “Why can’t I flame you?!?! Why is my fire not blasting the flesh from your bones?!?”
“I told you, you can’t, and I asked it not to.”
The beast collapses then with an ungraceful thump, dejected. Motorists passing the park stop, pull over, get out of their cars to check if they hit something or that there might have been, against all reason, a short, sharp earthquake. They’re alarmed, puzzeled, minds uneasy. This has gone on long enough, best to be done quickly.
“It’s not fair, it’s not fair, IT’S NOT FAIR!!”
“Again, no, it’s not, but there’s no point in blubbering about it, it’s unbecoming. Besides, if you keep this up you’ll drown the daisies with your tears.”
“But, but, but, I am mighty, I’m everything she wanted me to be…why doesn’t she love me anymore?” It curls up again, becoming small while staying the same size.
“She does love you, she loved you so well and so much that you were nearly Real, and that is a lot of love. The thing is, no matter how much they love us, the children will always leave us behind, it js their nature.” I run a consoling hand over its snout, the scales beneath my fingertips slick and hard. It sniffs some more, eyes shimmering, brimful. “At best they may remember us from time to time, but still, they will always leave none the less. You needn’t be alone though, if you just come along with me.”
“Where we’d be going…would there be knights?”
“Oh yes, I’m sure if it” at this the dragon perks up.
“And kings?” Slowly it gets to its feet. I begin walking away in my long strides, hands clasped behind my back, coattails fluttering and it follows.
“Certainly, can’t have one without the other.”
“And damsels in distress, maidens chained to rocks, villagers to strike terror into?” Its eagerness grows and I cannot help but smile as the falling evening of the Real is swallowed up by the twilight of the Boarderlands.
“I believe that can be arranged” I mean it too, there’s a patch of the Black Forest from 1125 lingering about that would be perfect. The dragon is nearly frisking along beside me, head level with mine, asking question upon question and so together, along the strange paths of my realm the dragon and I walk home.

Dead and Dreaming

Posted in Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2018 by beautifulimposter

There are dreams under the earth,
The dead sleep soundly, covers pulled up
Roots tangled around fingers
Cat’s cradling intricacies, woven beneath stilled tongue,
Telegraph wires mumbling from deep dark upwards
Speaking now in blades of grass, punctuated
By worms, just imagine what tales might unravel
If you dipped ant’s feet in ink,
What poems would march across the parchment?

Tales are never finished simply because you write “The End”
The stories unfold as lungs unraveling nerve endings
Twitch magnetic erratic to magnetic pulse
Things forgotten remembered, retold, dot dash dotting
Clay becomes pot, seed becomes root and branch
Woven up in fistfuls of sky and cloud
The turning of restless bodies, of waking dreams
Fitful dreamers fidget kick the dirt
Reading brand new Braille scripts in whorls,
Fingerprints that remember to forget to remember again.

All beneath as above, revolving
The worm turns, digging through earth but
Dreaming of clouds, circling iris, tail biting
Round and round ellipsis tumbling cartwheels
Merry go round about again the dreamers dream the living
Dream the dead to life rising, upwards branching
Towards the light from the dark to light again and again,
Beneath the earth, so as above.