Death herself met me at her gate. She did not say anything, just crossed her arms and glared. I would have liked to cut the old crone to pieces right then and there, but kept my cool. She makes her own rules in her realm.
“Look, I still don’t think that fighting Law was a bad idea, OK?” Her brainchildren, particularly peace treaties, had ruined a lot of my work.
Death’s eyebrows went up and she tilted her head a little. At least she did not start tapping her foot.
“But, in hindsight, I’m afraid, in a way… killing her turned out, eventually, to be a mistake.” When all humans stopped pretending to humour those pesky international laws, conflicts had become much more interesting. But after things went on for a while like that, there weren’t enough humans left to wage a good war anymore.
Finally Death opened her mouth. “So you’re here to ask me to break the law, on behalf of Law, to bring her back to the world.” I swear to anything you want she was amused.
“Is that a problem?”
“She might refuse, on principle.”
Yes, now that she mentioned it, Law might be stupid like that. I covered my eyes, wondering how long it would take to build up a new civilisation capable of building weapons of mass destruction. Particularly with Law missing. She had been more important than I’d realised, the surge of mutinies had shown.
“But,” Death said, “I might throw her out regardless. Let’s have some tea and discuss terms.”
She was enjoying this too much to be bluffing. And that, folks, is why it’s important being able to mind your manners: sometimes you have to.
Inspired by the prompt "I fought the law and it was a bad idea" by Becky Allen
Doch. - The word "doch" kann have several meanings, but the one I'm thinking of is to give a positive answer to a negative question. If someone answers "Don't you like strawberries?" with "yes", do they mean "yes, you're right", or "yes, I do like strawberries"? "Doch" is an unambiguous one-word answer meaning "you're wrong, I do."
What's a word in another language that you wish English had? Or what's a concept you'd like to have a specific word for?
The wind howls in the hollow tower of Yeranem, mourful sounds like a dirge played on a bone-flute. Legend has it that's what it is.
The giant Halaefea taught mortals the secrets of fire and tools, and the gods of the Heavens killed her for what they called treachery. To make sure neither the other gods of the Earth nor the gods of the Underworld could restore Halaefea to life, they scattered her bones.
Around her spine grew the mountains of Vaenn, and now there are a thousand rumours concerning what could be found in the hollow where the marrow used to be.
Her ribs were scattered in the sea, forming the foundations for the atolls of Gwandeh, Jirael and Mdaeh.
The small bones of her hands and feet the gods of the Heavens scattered over the desert of Kyriemakeitikosh, where to us today each is a lone mountain.
Her long bones they kept for themselves. They carved a trumpet from her right thighbone, and spears for their Chosen from the bones of her arms and shanks.
Halaefea's skull, the house of her mind and soul, half-blackened from the wrath-fire that killed her, they put in the highest heaven, with the greatest treasure that is the sun, guarded by the great army of stars. Her clan can't conquer the heavens to save her, and she is out of reach of the ghost-talkers, even the Greatest Shade itself.
Her left thigh bone, now, Joraen, wanted for a weapon for themself, Koruen, wanted it as a hammer for their forge, Gesion for a flute. They argued among themselves and with their siblings, until Joraen started a fight, in the course of which an end of the bone broke off. Ayanaiss said they should send the bone back to Earth, pretending it a token of respect, and so it was done.
The thighbone struck the ground and buried itself deeply enough to stand firm as a mountain. The gods of the Earth, unable to exact their revenge, mourned their sister, and left her remains in peace, as is all gods’ custom.
Mortals found Halaefea's thigh, the strangest white mountain eyes had ever seen, and settled there, carving their first homes into the bone itself.
And, do you know, sometimes a ghost-talker will say when they stayed there, in the centre of the tower that is the heart of Yeranem, they heard echoes of Halaefea's life, in the wind howling in the hollow where her marrow had been.
When I woke up in what laid claim to the lofty label of “clinic”, I took it slow. The nerves of the used-new body needed a little time and practise to work together well with my old brain. When the pins-and-needles feeling crested, I started wiggling my fingers and toes. Working up from there, I met no problems. At some point my doctor-technician arrived, but she didn’t rush me. I paid her enough.
The new body was a pretty standard model, outwardly human, black hair and almond eyes. Shorter than my old one, I was reminded when sitting up on the edge of the bed left my feet dangling high in the air, but I’d get used to it. I liked the point symmetry of the ID that came with it, the main components swashes over the left temple and right jaw. I rubbed over those lines, even though the skin there did not feel different, which prompted the doc to ask a question.
“Want to test yourself if the re-keying worked?” the doc said.
I shook my head. “I trust you.” Close enough, anyway. And if she wanted to fool me, she could have rigged the test equipment.
“Thanks. We had no problems with the other brain, either. Everything as you requested.” Keyed to my old ID, transplanted to my old body, motor functions disabled.
“Very good.” I would arrange an accident. With just a little more record-cooking, I would be dead.
A completely different man with no family and friends, whose social anxiety had got so bad he had even stopped seeing his shrink, would start over. Background like that is why you pick a mark. The nice ID was just a bonus.
“When I was a kid, we could still shoot them,” the cop said.
Mira just gave a noncommittal hum and continued her work.
“Thieving little bastards.”
This case was about a diamond bracelet, but still, it was a generalisation.
“I mean, they’re pests, everybody knows that. No matter how smart they are. Eat songbird chicks.”
The magpie struggled as Mira transferred it from the big trap to a smaller transport box. Neither agreeing nor arguing worked as she’d intended; the cop calmed down and got back to business, adsressing the bird.
“You are being arrested on suspicion of grand theft. A lawyer will be provided to you, given that it’s unlikely you have one.”
Mira chuckled. His half irritated, half worried look she answered with, “Close enough to by the book if you ask me. No complaints.”
“Good. Thanks for your help. I just hope we got the right one this time.”
Inspired by the prompts "A species of animal is ruled legally sapient and subject to protection - and prosecution - under human law" by Herm Baskerville and "The magpie in the tree" by TJK
If you're interested in legal, free music downloads, for listening or to use as background for videos or other projects, here are three possible sources for you.
Musopen is a nonprofit organisation dedicated to making compositions that are in the public domain actually available. They produce recordings of classic music, which they then place in the public domain. You can also find sheet music at their website.
Jamendo is a platform for indie musicians. All music there can be downloaded for free and is available under a creative commons licence. Most seem to be limited to non-commercial use with derivative works distributed under the same conditions, but there is a section of their site where you can look for more open licences.
At Incompetech, Kevin MacLeod offers music, mostly "soundtrack" kind of things, under a creative commons Attribution licence, with an option to license pieces for a one-time fee if credit is not possible or not wanted.
Kay knew she irritated people with things like drumming her fingers and jittering. She had not been that nervous and distractable last year, but could not go back. Teachers gave up after a few weeks and just lived with her looking out of the window rather than following class whenever she felt like it. Until, that is, she got up in the middle of a test and walked outside to better watch squirrels, leaving behind a sheet covered with doodled flowers rather than answers.
The school called her parents, and her mother gave her a dressing-down. Kay tried to listen, because not doing so would make her mother more angry, but instead kicked her feet and watched the patterns the light made on the floor and walls.
“Oh, Kay, what’s gotten into you?”
The girl only shrugged, “I had to go out.” She was close to tears, not understanding herself.
“Maybe her angel is sick,” came a small voice from the door.
Their mother took a deep breath and tried to calm down. “Honey, angels and demons are just stories. And eavesdropping is not nice.”
Kay’s little sister looked confused. “But Mattis said—”
Your demon gave you ideas, and your angel helped you stick with one. Kay had heard the same; everyone had.
While Mother shooed her to the kids’ room, Kay spun ideas. Maybe she had to find her angel and save it. Or talk to her demon. It was still with her, and might know something. Only she did not know how. Maybe she should go—
“I need to make some phone-calls. We should go see doctor Hames soon.”
Kay nodded. Doctor Hames was all right.
“Go and get started on your homework, honey. I’ll help you when I’m finished.”
If you like supporting creative projects directly, whether by donations or giving people ideas, see if there's something of interest here. It's a collection of projects that caught my eye, particularly fiction Fishbowls where you leave prompts for someone to use as basis for writing. At the end you'll find links to stories written to my prompts in February, as well as my activity last month.
Networking on Twitter
If you run a project - writing, drawing, anything else - which involves asking people for prompts, and you plug it on twitter, consider including the hashtag #promptcall
Updates of last month's projects
With a bit over two days to go, Plunge, the ezine for queer women in genre literature, is fully funded.
I don't think any of those stories need content warnings, though I can't vouch for other content you might find looking around.
Hopefully I didn't forget anything; I need to get more systematic about the bookmarking.
The Law & Order Fishbowl I ran in February will probably end up with relatively few stories; there is a pattern of someone's general prompt working together with someone else's more concrete one to create one story idea. I'm not as far along as I wanted to be by now, partly because I spent the last three days getting my computer to work again. While I did not lose any actual writing, I'm not sure I'll be able to recover my organised notes with the prompts and ideas based on them. (More frequent and thorough backups in future for me.)
The file with the stories from the Horror Fishbowl is at the editor's.
And lastly, five of the requests from the last Small Art Call are finished now.
That project is going more slowly than I'd like, too, but I'm picking up the pace and hope to get most of it done before March is over.