Friday Serial: Farther Part CIX

Seryn fire_handSERYN

The fortress was awake as Seryn slipped back in through the open gate.

It was well after midnight, and the lamps were lit as soldiers crossed and recrossed the yard. The walls crawled with too many shadows, the watch doubled by men and women crowded shoulder to should to oggle the mottled orange sky, the dim fire, and the sharp outline of the trees in front of it. A few of them glanced at Seryn, made a perfunctory check of her person, but didn’t seem to notice that she had come back twice. The yard rumbled with their curiosity. In one corner, someone was loading a wagon with water, the only bright point of hurry.

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Flash Fiction: Six Feet Up (366 words)

For the last eight months, Dev had looked at the room from a height of two feet and three inches. He knew, because he had measured it repeatedly by the length of his arm, letting his hand drop over the side of the bed until his palm was flat against the floor. He liked the motion. For half a second, he could trick himself into believing he had caught himself, that he was carrying his own weight on his arm, not that he had laid there so long there was a permanent ditch in the middle of the mattress.

His arm was exactly two feet three inches from wrist to shoulder. Lyda had helped him measure, so she could be sure he could reach every gift of water and broth she left him while he was sleeping. He’d liked that, too: the ridiculousness of her stepping so purposefully into the room with her measure string, and the smile she was trying so hard to hide as she moved him, touched him, made him laugh. Then, for a few more afternoons he measured things that did not need measuring, and laughed then too.

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Wednesday Serial: Farther Part LXXXIII

Anie fire_handANIE

Anie tripped her way between the tables, ducking under elbows, and generally trying to keep behind people’s backs as she slipped through. She knew she hardly succeeded, but Aled, at least, didn’t seem to notice her until she was almost leaning over his shoulder.

Rhian was sweating. Pieces of her hair stuck to her forehead, but she was still pulling the blankets closer while she slept, as if she wanted them knit into her skin. She was shivering to. Anie’s smile slipped away as she watched her. She had never seen anyone after a bear attack before, but she knew what people looked like when they were sick. Rhian wasn’t really sleeping, wasn’t resting, she was aching with her eyes closed to pray thought away.

“You’re supposed to be getting lunch,” Aled said. He gave Anie a slow look and a small smile.

Anie returned the look, eyebrows bent together. “You’re supposed to be asleep,” she told him.

He raised an eyebrow.

“I know you were on watch last night,” Anie said. “And you’re on watch again tonight.”

“You’re very observant,” he said. If he hadn’t been so quiet, she would have said he was impressed. “Now tell me what I’ve been watching…” Aled turned back to Rhian before he had finished speaking. Anie wasn’t sure she was supposed to guess.

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Wednesday Serial: Farther Part LXXXII

Anie fire_handANIE

Da called up the stairs. His voice was a little muffled coming up through the wooden floor beside Anie’s bed. Her room seemed a little large. Thea was sleeping in a dozen beds at once. But it was good to hear his voice.

Anie shifted onto her side, reburying her head in the pillow. She was going to steal her few more minutes of sleep. Da would understand. She thought he was probably proud of her too, now that she wasn’t really running away after all. They hadn’t gone so far from the city.

Her thoughts seemed to stutter against each other, matching what she knew had happened to the room around her. She realized her eyes were shut. She realized she was dreaming. The floor should not be standing upright and there were too many Thea’s in the room. Da’s voice was too high, too much like Drystan’s.

“Come on, come on, come on!” Drystan called, a sing-song too bright for the early morning. “Roll out of bed. Put your feet on the floor. Walk yourselves to breakfast. If you’re still dreaming, I suppose you can swim there, but move, move, move!”

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Wednesday Serial: Farther Part LXXXI

Seryn fire_handSERYN

Rhian repeated it dully, as if she repeating sounds she hadn’t understood yet. “You fixed me…” It was only a whisper. Then, after a moment, she blinked fast. Tilting her head up, she stared at Seryn.

Seryn met her eye without flinching. “If I cut deep enough,” she said. “The bruise-blood will spill out, and you’ll stop seeing things that aren’t there.”

Rhian tried to take a deep breath. She almost lost the strength in her arms. “It hurts.”

“I’m sorry,” Seryn said flatly.

“You’re letting me bleed?” Rhian asked.

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Wednesday Serial: Farther Part LXXX

Seryn fire_handSERYN

Rhian’s fingers shifted around the hilt of the knife, rearranging her grip. The blade turned, caught the sunlight for half a moment. She blinked. For the space of a breath, she seemed to look at something between her and Seryn. Then her gaze focused again. One heel turned out, balancing her stance.

“I’m not going to let you kill me,” she said clearly. Her voice was tight now, and perfectly honest.

Thought fell back, perfectly silent. The rustle of the breeze came through like the whisper of thunder. The ground held firm. The run of Seryn’s blood went quiet, along with every other thing inside her. Warm and calm, Seryn blinked back. “Put the knife away,” she murmured.

Rhian looked hurt before her expression tightened enough to call it anger. “We heard the stories,” she said, each word distinct. “About your first kill.”

Seryn felt the bite. Somewhere, that hurt. She imagined she might feel it later. Now, she felt the weight of her own hands, measured the seconds it could take Rhian to close on her. She watched Rhian’s face. The edges of her vision would best catch the roll of her shoulder, the shift of her hip before she moved.

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Legal Theft Flash Fiction: Invention (748 words)

Oranges meant vitamin C, and vitamin C meant a swifter recovery.

Dana looked at the heavy bags of fruit on the store shelf, and sighed to herself. She could hear her mother repeating the statement perfectly, though she hadn’t heard anything else perfectly in three days thanks to the marshmallow-stuffed feeling her head cold was giving her. It was not poor advice, so Dana picked up a bag of oranges and cradled it against her chest, but she took a few steps and wished that she hadn’t. She didn’t like oranges.

She didn’t put them back. Grabbing a big box of tissues, a jar of juice, and a bottle of decongestants, she checked out as quickly as she could and escaped back to her car. There, she sat still and blew her nose three times. It didn’t make her feel much better, but she could breathe properly for about half a minute. When she remembered how much more comfortable the couch at home was, she put the car in drive and forced herself to hit the road.

The stairs up to her apartment were too tall, but she had walked up and down them so many times, she reached the top step on autopilot before she remembered to mentally complain. She fumbled with her keys around her bag of groceries, but made it inside. She kicked off her shoes, stumbled away from the front door, and sat down heavily on the couch. She didn’t bother to take off her coat, and dropped her bag right at her feet.

Then Dana sat there, happy not to move.

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Flash Fiction: Diagnosis (672 words)

It had been light when Jennika fell asleep, and it was dark when she woke up. It didn’t seem like enough time had passed, but her mouth was sticky from deep sleep, and her chest and arms were over-warm, like she’d been knocked out of it before her body was ready to come back up for consciousness. She blinked, and swallowed, and took a deep breath. Then she pulled herself up straight.

“Whoa,” Kynbessne said, sitting beside her in the cart bed. She put her hand on Jennika’s shoulder and the cart lurched at just the right moment to turn the gentle nudge to an insistent push back down to the blankets.

Jennika fell back on one elbow, but took another quick breath, trying to wake up. It hurt. Her throat was rough, and her head felt thick.

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Today’s Blog Post is Brought To You By…

My head cold.

Great.

I went to bed last night with an idea for a flash fiction I wanted to write today. That’s pretty rare these days – usually, nine o’clock rolls around and I start scrambling for what fictional situations I want to deal in that night – but I have some new characters that I want to play with and they’ve been surprisingly easy to deal with for being so fresh and young. It was the sort of thing that made going to sleep a little sweeter.

I woke up this morning with my nose and head and throat announcing that I was going to have a head cold today, or they were all monkey’s uncles. I believed them, but hoped that it would hold off long enough for me to be a productive human being during daylight hours.

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Legal Theft Fiction: Symptoms (643 words)

He was sick, but it was a good sick, the kind after which he felt better, the kind with which he was all too familiar. There was no permanence to it, just a certain slush and shallow to his thoughts, a disinclination to move, and the distinct impression that, in a moment, he would stomp his feet hard enough to crack the lead from his bones.

Toar stood at the window, and bounced on his toes experimentally. Then he dropped back onto his heels. Something cracked, but he only felt heavier. Groaning, he braced himself against the window frame, and his groan twisted into a laugh.

“Get back into bed,” Jaera said.

Toar turned toward the door. She pushed it open with her elbow, entering without looking at him. In one hand she had a coffee pot, and in the other, his favorite tall, white mug.

Toar raised his eyebrows at her.

She slid farther into the room and set the pot on the square table beside his bed. Putting the mug beside it, she turned it so the handle pointed purposefully toward the pillow. Then she turned, found him watching her, and raised her eyebrows too, a quick mimic of his disbelieving expression.

“Get back into bed,” she said.

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