posted this
Time ago

random little story based off an odd thought i had

that thought being "huh, what if people confessed non-romantic love the same way they did romantic love?"


It was 6:30 in the afternoon and Lydia was fifteen minutes from the sweet release from her shift when a pile of bouquets rolled into her check-out aisle. The mass wobbled from one side to the other by a few inches, as though attempting to assess the little hallway of converter belt and snacks. The flowers dropped onto the belt, revealing the man holding them. He was about her age--likely a college student considering 90% of the people currently in the store were college students, including Lydia--with black hair, brown eyes, and a vaguely furious expression.

Lydia glanced down at the bouquets, which were probably half of their pitiful stock. Five father-child bouquets, two uncle-niece/nephew bouquets, and one co-parenting bouquet. Huh.

“Huh,” said Lydia.

“Literally all of the freshmen I know have fucking terrible parents,” the guy elaborated, because people loved elaborating to her for some reason. Archie never had weird purchases elaborated to him. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but today Felicity’s dad sent her text demanding she paid for rent at their house over break. Like, what the fuck?”

She winced reflexively at that, because what the fuck indeed. Picking up one to punch into the computer for the price, she hazarded, “And the Uncle ones?” In for a penny, in for a pound, even if that penny was unwillingly given.

The guy’s expression lightened up a little. “Oh, their parents are fine, they’re just in another country. I’m gonna apply for alternate guardianship.”

Much closer to what she was used to. Lydia punched in the code for those as well. She wasn’t going to comment on the co-parenting one--people platonically co-parented all the time, it wasn’t her business--but then when she set it in the bag the guy immediately leaned over and snatched out the only vaguely romantic flower in the bunch, blushing. A flower that only read as romantic when you over-thought it.

She simply had to take a crack. “If you’re trying to avoid things turning into First Comes the Baby we’ve got romantic bouquets too, dude.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said the guy, face going even redder as he shoved the flower into his pocket.

Lydia shrugged. Not her problem. “That’s $56.74. D’ya have a loyalty card?”

The guy did not, but he must have either been better off than most college students or had been saving up, because he didn’t flinch at the price.

Two weeks later, the guy came back and bought two celebration bouquets and a “will you go out with me?” bouquet, plus chocolates.

“Congrats,” she said, and in a move of great Heraculan effort did not say more.

The guy still flushed and avoided eye contact when signing his name in the card reader.

posted this
Time ago

Shatterpoint Snippit

uhh so i've been thinking up a supernatural mystery thriller plot and then accidentally wrote almost 3k about it so if you'd like to read that here it is? it's makes for a long as hell post btw so watch out for that

tw for violence and some eye trama

Her alarm clock blinks 1:32 in glowing red letters, almost mocking. Katrina groans and throws her arm over her eyes, yanking her comforter up to her chin. Five and a half hours to sleep until she has to get up for work if she wants some time for herself. Six, if she ducks out on a shower, but her hair was getting dangerously greasy up top. She has a reputation to maintain at work as well put together, and she’s not weakening it for a few more minutes to snooze.

There’s the shrieking call of a firetruck out in the street, distant but persistent. Her back feels off. She shimmies in place, twisting and rotating her shoulders to relieve the tension. Eventually she ends up rolling onto her side, face smushed into the pillows, staring blearly at the white, smooth wall.

She’s never been prone to insomnia, but God did her brain not give an inch tonight.

There’s a creaking of the floor coming from somewhere beyond her room, and for a second she can’t help but to tense up, heart beating fast, ears straining. The sound doesn’t happen again, her fridge making her jump with it’s scratching, scraping sounds of the cooler de-icing itself instead. A few more seconds of silence pass before she lets herself relax again, slumping into her mattress. She’s been watching too many true crime documentaries lately, and now every night is filled with figures looming in corners, knives or bats or rope in hand. like she’s a child afraid of her closet again. That’s probably half the reason she can’t sleep tonight.

No one is in the damn house, Katrina tells herself, jabbing her elbow into the mass of pillows to get comfortable again, nobody except yourself. You double checked the door. The windows’ been locked since it got cold. If someone was in your house you’d notice, you idiot. Go the hell to sleep.

It helps to insult herself, in a weird way. Maybe it’s the idea that someone was going to kill her after she called herself an asshole was too silly for the universe to allow. No matter how nonsensical the little ritual is, it calms her down anyway, so she keeps doing it. Already her eyelids feel heavier, so she tucks herself in further into her little cocoon and tries to let herself sleep.

There’s more creaking. Shut up, it’s fine. It’s just you. She starts counting up, just for something thoughtless to do. One, two three, four, five, six— more creaking— seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve— she can feel a shape looming, but that always happens when she freaks herself out, calm down, calm down— thirteen, fourteen, fifteen—

Hands close around her throat, a body presses down onto hers. Her eyes fly open to see the wall, and before she can even think she starts thrashing, arms confined in the comforter, her torso trapped by the person. She tries to look at the person but it’s too dark, she’s turned on her side, all she can see is dark red hair and shadow. The hands clench tighter around her neck and she gasps, finally freeing a hand to grasp at her attackers fingers. She can’t get up like this, can’t fight like this. She needs to get them off her.

She doesn’t think long, heart pounding in her throat. She kicks her legs out to push against the wall like it’s a springboard and rolls, forcing the both of them off the bed and onto the floor, knocking the hands off her neck. She hears the person make a noise for the first time upon the impact, a sharp, wordless groan, and then she’s staggering to her feet, flinging the comforter off and onto her attacker, still on the ground, without looking at them. The minute she has her limbs free she bolts, lunging to the bedroom doorway. A hand brushes past her leg but doesn’t quite connect, and she gets out. Through the hallway— her attacker is behind her now, she could hear them getting up, could hear the footsteps now— to the kitchen.

It takes seconds to reach the knife block and she grabs the first one her hand lands on; a steak knife, small and serrated. It has a point, though, and that’s all she needs. Katrina whips around, brandishing her makeshift weapon, just as her attacker is behind her, and almost drops it because—

— because it’s her. Another Katrina, her hair, her body, her face, split into a wild snarl.

She stumbles back, mind reeling, and Other Katrina surges towards her, reaching for her neck again, and suddenly Katrina’s screaming, stabbing forward, and is knocked against the wall, pressure on her throat. Other Katrina’s arm is bleeding but she doesn’t even notice, didn’t even make a sound, her eyes trained on Katrina’s. The cold, dark hate in those eyes takes her breath away more than any strangulation could. Desperately, she tries to pull on the hands, but Other Her is too strong— but she’s still holding the knife. She grabs at Other Katrina’s arms, forces room between them so she can wiggle her own arm in. And before she can overthink, she plunges the knife right into Other Katrina’s eye.

Other Katrina finally lets go with her own scream, hands flying to her face as she jerks back, colliding with the table and collapsing onto it, knocking off half of it’s clutter onto the floor as she writhes in pain.

And then she’s gone. The knife clatters onto the table, still bloody, the only sign aside from the mess that she was ever there. For a long minute it’s all Katrina can do to slide down the wall until she’s sitting against it, breath loud and fast in her own ears, neck throbbing and heart pounding.

She just looks at the table, half expecting her to reappear and attack again. Other Katrina doesn’t come back. All she can hear is the sounds of the wood settling, no creaking of walking in the other rooms. Katrina lets herself slump fully against the wall. She should call 911, should get out of the apartment, should go to her neighbors— but God, what would she say? That she attacked herself? That a doppelganger tried to choke her dead and then just vanished? She finds herself laughing half hysterically at the thought of their expressions. They’d call her insane. She doesn’t know what to do.

Slowly, she gets up. There’s no way in hell she’s telling anybody the truth, obviously. So she needs this to make sense. There needs to be an obvious point of entry. She thinks of the bedroom window first, because it had started there, but she’s on the second floor. That wouldn’t track. There’s also the screen to consider— she could cut it herself, maybe, but they can tell from which side it’s cut these days.The front door, then. There are security cameras, sure, but not directly in the outside hallway, just the main entrance. Besides, all security cameras have blind spots, and the management doesn’t care enough to shill out for any more than necessary. It wouldn’t be a strange thought that someone could get past them with enough forethought.

Mechanically, she makes her way to the door and opens it, checking for any people at their own doors. Nobody, like she was expecting. Aside from her there’s basically no one under thirty renting here, mostly because it’s too expensive for the average graduate and because there are a dozen other apartment set-ups much closer to the local college. That means that almost nobody gets home past 11 o’clock at night unless they have odd hours, and those that do with regular hours are most definitely intoxicated, making them unreliable witnesses.

She considers, for a moment, attempting to tamper with the lock, but dismisses that idea almost as quickly as she thinks it. She’s already taking too much time to call the police to fiddle with it, and for that to make sense she’d have to actually know how to lockpick, which she doesn’t. She’ll just have to tell them she forgot to lock her door. It rankles, knowing she’ll have to make herself out as forgetful, but it’s the best course of action.

Speaking of calling the police, she should do that. I was asleep, she starts planning, walking back into the living room and to the kitchen, and then suddenly I woke up to someone strangling me and fought back, and after we fought a bit in the kitchen, I shoved them into the table. They got up and ran out the door, which was already open— maybe they realized I was making too much noise? Was putting up too much of a fight? Then I called after freaking out for a while.

Christ, the knife. She’ll need to excuse the knife. If she was fighting herself the blood on it must be her blood, then. How was she going to deal with that? Injuring herself was the most logical idea, but the last one she wanted to actually go through with.

Except when she gets to the kitchen, there was no blood. Not on the knife or the table. Nothing at all. Hesitantly, she picked it up, turning it in her hands. It's clean as a whistle, like it had never been used. The clutter that was on the table before— a book, a pile of junk mail she never bothered to toss, a napkin holder and the few napkins left in it— is all still scattered on the floor. Was it gone because the Other Katrina was gone? Had it only taken so long to vanish like the rest of her because it was no longer attached to the body? She sets the knife back onto the table. She doesn’t know and it didn’t matter right now. Calling the police mattered.

She gets to the bedroom, stepping over the rumpled comforter— another thing that had remained as it was— and grabs her phone. She unplugs it from the charger and dials.

“Hi, my house was broken into and somebody tried to kill me,” she says to the operator, only mostly calm.

The call, after that, goes as routinely as possible. What was her address? 1445 Lilac Street, Bloomwood Apartments, Apartment #6. Was the person still there? No. Was she hurt? Bruised, but otherwise fine. Trying not to freak out again. Could she leave the apartment? Sure. Was there anybody in the complex she could stay with until dispatch arrived? She spoke with an older woman three doors down often who probably wouldn’t mind.

At the operators insistence she goes to Ms. Samoto’s door, knocking politely and informing her that she needed a place to stay for a few minutes after Ms. Samoto answers the door with a scowl on her face. The scowl turns into blank-eyed horror when she explains why, exactly, she was there and she is quickly let in and forced onto the couch.

That was where the two police officers and single detective found her when they arrived, with a cup of tea cradled in her hands. She eyes the detective uncertainly, hoping she simply looks curious. There’s no reason for him to be at what probably is being considered a routine attack. He matches her look with a slight, stiff smile. He has a cane that he leans on harshly and a shock of blond hair, which combined with his height makes him look like a scarecrow someone dressed up in business clothes on a lark.

All three of them introduce themselves— Officer Amy Buccanan, Officer Douglas Hepp, Detective James Le Mott— but only Detective Le Mott stays, the other two quickly hurrying to the actual scene of the crime to close it off. After gently suggesting to Ms. Samoto that he would like to talk to the victim alone, thank you, and she harumphes and disappears into her bedroom, he sits down across from her in the matching recliner and pulls out a notepad.

“So I suppose you’re wondering why I’m here,” he says, with that same stiff smile.

Katrina isn’t sure what to say to that, so all she says is, “I am."

“Well, usually this sort of case is left to the officers until there’s significant reason to bring me in, but your case happens to match one that happened just an hour ago. Are you familiar with the Paper Doll cases?”

Katrina almost drops her tea, some of it spilling onto her fingers. She knows the Paper Doll cases— she’s pretty sure the whole town knows about them. They’ve been splashed on the news for weeks now, cases that the police just couldn’t solve, filled with missing clues, strange victim statements, and, of course, strings of paper dolls strewn across the scenes. She can feel herself pale as she recalls one particular surviving victim’s claim: a man who looked just like him had been his attacker. He had been lambasted by the press for that, everyone speculating that he was sick, crazy, or high as hell.

Le Mott must take her reaction as an answer, because he continues, “We’ve found that just a few blocks away a man who also had his home broken into and was attacked about an hour ago, and these cases always happen the same way: every full moon, several people are attacked over the course of several hours.” He meets her eyes. “I’m sure you can see why we found your situation very concerning.”

She nods weakly. A part of her wars with the rest against the idea of deliberately lying during such a high-profile investigation, but then she remembers the other victim, label insane, and the sight of the other her vanishing into thin air. Remembers the disappearing blood. Her fingers tighten around her cup. This is a case that can’t be solved no matter what she says, so she may as well take the route that keeps her out of the press as a lunatic. “I guess you’ll want my story, now?”

“If you would be so kind.”

Katrina takes a deep breath, and starts lying through her teeth. “She attacked me in my sleep. I woke up with her strangling me, and I didn’t know what to do, couldn’t even really see her ‘cause I was facing the wall, so I just freaked out. Started trying to get her off me, yanking at her hands, anything to keep her from actually killing me. I don’t know how I thought of it, but I ended up rolling us both off the bed and onto the floor, with me on top. I got up as quick as I could, went running to the kitchen as soon as possible. I think she tried to get me on the ground with her again, but she couldn’t grab my leg.”

“Why the kitchen?” he asks, writing intently.

“Well, I heard most attackers give up if you fight them because they realize you’re too hard to knock out, and she didn’t really seem to have a real weapon so I figured I could get her to stop if I got my hands on a knife. I grabbed one, and then she was right on me again. I managed to turn around and knock her back, and she landed on my table. Then she just jumped back up and ran right past me, out the door.”

Le Mott frowns, looking up at her. “She just left? Do you have any idea why?”

“I guess it was ‘cause I was armed?” Katrina says, ending it more as a question than an answer. She really doesn’t know why Other Katrina vanished, so it’s not really a lie either way. “Didn’t ever end up cutting her, though.” That one is.

“Possibly,” he agrees, not looking particularly convinced. “You keep saying she— did you get a good look at her, then?”

“Not really, I only saw her fully while we were in the kitchen, and it was pitch black in there— all I could see in my bed was some hair from the corner of my eye. Her clothes weren’t that baggy though, so I could guess pretty easy from what I saw.”

“Right, describe her for me anyway.”

Now was the crucial part. Katrina screws up her face in thought, as though trying to recall as much as possible. “Uh, wasn’t much taller than me, so about 5’7 to 5’9? Kinda wavy hair, ‘bout past her shoulders— “ she places her hand at her chin-length cut and then lowered it to about her estimate, “--couldn’t tell you the color, but it looked pretty dark, so probably not blonde? Brown, maybe, I’m not sure. Was strong as hell so she’s probably more built than me.”

“Did you manage to see any of her face?” Le Mott says, a touch impatient even as he kept writing.

Katrina shrugs apologetically, “It was too dark in there to really see much, and I was kinda busy keeping her from grabbing my neck again. I think it was kinda long, and she had, like, a small nose?”

They keep talking for a while, Le Mott prodding her for all the details she can remember and Katrina blending the truth and her lies into something they can both believe in. But soon enough the two officers duck in to announce that they had done all they could to close off and mark her apartment but it was still an active scene, so did she have a place to stay other than there tonight?

Le Mott was startled at that, as if he had forgotten the time of night completely. He turns to her. “My apologies, I didn’t consider that at all. You’d probably like to try sleeping tonight.”

Katrina sighs. “I can just get a hotel room.”

Le Mott nods and stands up, putting his notebook away and tucking his hands in his coat pockets. “Would you like me to accompany you? Considering the circumstances.”

“Oh, sure?” she says, “If you aren’t busy.”

“I’m sure Officers Bucannan and Hepp will only find me aggravating at this point,” he tells her mildly, “I can spare a minute or two.”

“Aright, then, I’ll look for a place.” Katrina pulls out her phone.

It doesn’t take long to find a chain hotel only a couple blocks away, and they set off down into the lobby area and into the streets. It’s positively easy-going.

As they walk together, Katrina looks up at the night sky, and almost trips. Because where the moon is supposed to be is a gleaming, glass-like mass, shattered into dozens of pieces.

posted this
Time ago

Tigress glanced around at the scene before her, crouched on the shoulder of a particularly jutting section of facada in wait. Everything was just as Zoya had promised: spindly grecian tower, weird gorgan/fury mashup, two hostages. One of them, the woman, had been stuck into the upper most window while gorgan girl perched on the one just below, dangling the male hostage by his fancy suit. her snakes hissing and snapping at him.

Going off the tableu presented and the implications of a gorgon-styled Obsessed, Tigress could guess at the source of rage. though it was odd Gorgan Lady didn't seem interested in the woman. Why anyone was still playing the cheating game in Seattle with the whole possession thing happening was beyond her, but superheros saved everyone, even those prone infedelity.

At least I'll get some good jokes out of this, she thought to Hephestus, readjusting her stance for a leap. It was time for Tigress to make her entrance.

A jump, a landing. Gorgan snapped her head towards the building at the sound of boots hitting concrete, yanking Suit closer to herself. Her snakes spit in her direction.

"Y'know, you're a bit taller than I imagined," Tigress said, grinning. Her eyes were trained on Suit.

"Am I, now?" Gorgan snarled, grip tighting on her captive, clearly unsure of where this was going. Good.

Tigress flexed her hand, thinking forge! and trusting Hephestus to understand her specification. Outwardly, she continued, "Yep! I always thought you'd at least be a head shorter!"

Gorgan's eyes widened in rage as the reference clicked, grip slakening somewhat. Lady hostage choked at her audacity. Suit just choked, scrabbling at Gorgan's hand.

Tone and distraction set, Tigress whipped her bracer-turned-chains at Suit, snagging him by the waist and ripping him from Gorgan's grip and swinging him to the ledge.

posted this
Time ago

fruity love

I’m feeling fruitful,

these days,

like the summer sun

on a pale winter morn.

I feel fruitful like

an orange, thrown

up-down, up-down,

up-down, like a

baseball, in the palm

of your hand.

Fruitful, like

an apple slice,

pressed to your

lips as you beam

at me, the curve

of white flesh

mimicking your smile.

Fruitful, like a grape,

ruddy and plucked

from the branch of

likewise kin, coasting

along in the air

in an arc to always,

always, end up

at you.



a show that starts out like your typical zombie tv show/game. gruff, scowly-looking dude shoots a zombie, and it's revealed he's taking care of a couple of kids (probably girls). first surprise: gruff dude has absolutely no problem showing affection to the kids, ruffling their hair and telling them he loves them. second surprise: the dude isn't taking care of them out of some weird obligation to his dead kid; he wasn't even married beforehand. he just is good with kids and saw that they needed someone on their side.

the show goes on for a couple episodes, and we watch as they struggle to survive, with several shots of dude shooting zombies and burying them if he can. then, in the 5-6th episode, the third surprise comes in the form of two well dressed people riding horses. dude asks them where the hell they came from to not have tattered clothing, and they explain that they're from a newly established village that came together after the apocolyps, and are looking for any left behind supplies. dude begs them to take him and kids to the village so the kids don't have to be living half-feral out of old strip malls. riders agree, warning him that he can't pull any grisly "survival of the fitest" nonsense if he wants to stay, though they'll protect the kids either way.

dude says he wasn't that kind of guy anyway, and they lead them all to the village. it's not a paradise or anything, but compared to the rubble-filled streets, it's a far cry better. dude and kids start rooming with other groups new to the village, and the show turns into a comedy about all the hijinks going on the the village, mostly caused by the kids just being kids. the dude reveals he used to be an accountant, and happily starts helping the lady keeping track of the village's resources with her work, never trying to one-up her or take over. the only difference to other shows of the same style is that sometimes the gatekeepers announce they spotted a new zombie or something.

nobody dies for shock value.


anyway i wrote a snippet for this:

(EDIT: put the writing under a readmore so this post doesn't get too long)

From his post behind the foliage, Dennis takes a moment to take in the two on horseback, hand drifting to his gun. It’s a man and a woman, armed with a shotgun at the horse’s side and a crossbow, respectively. They look… clean, clothing whole and unripped. Compared to the squalor and dirtiness he had grown used to these past few months, they almost look godly. He thinks of Cass and Tobi, waiting hidden away in their make-shift strip mall home, and realises this might be his chance.

Standing up slowly, he doesn’t bother avoiding the leaves and branches surrounding him, and watches as the two wheel around to face his direction at the rustling, the woman raising her crossbow sharply.

“Not a zombie!” he calls out, stepping out of the brush with hands raised. The man relaxes a bit, but the woman stands firm. “That doesn’t mean you aren’t dangerous,” she calls back, eyes trained on him. Dennis is certain that if he made one wrong move she’s shoot him dead with no hesitation. It’s still more charitable than some of the shooting policies the lone wolves he’s crossed paths with had.

“How ‘bout you drop the gun,” says the man, with a southern drawl, “and then we can have a proper conversation?”

With eyes on the woman, Dennis carefully unholsters his gun and drops it on the forest floor, fingers never near the trigger. His mother may not have liked him knowing how to work a gun, but by god did she teach him well regarding handling it.

“Anything else?”

Dennis shook his head, turning around slowly, arms stretched out to show there was no room in his clothes to hide another weapon. When he was back to facing the riders, the woman had lowered the crossbow to rest on her leg. The man nodded approvingly, and beckoned him over.

“Benny Gold,” he said as Dennis awkwardly tramped through the bushes, “and my friend over here is Diamond. You got a name?”

Reaching out for a handshake, Dennis said, “Dennis, Dennis Lieberman. Where are you guys from? I haven’t seen anyone with white shirts that are actually white in ages.”

Benny grinned, visibly proud. “It’s called Clemency, up a ways. It got started up a little after, well, all this,” he lazily waves a hand in a wide arc, as if to encompass the fields and woods and all the dead, diseased corpses potentially lurking in them. Dennis repressed a snort at the casual air of it all.

Diamond narrows her eyes, expression not quite angry, but certainly not kind either. “If you’re looking for a hide-away, we’ve got conditions,” she warned.

“Do those conditions have exceptions for kids?”


*thor voice* ANOTHER ONE!

just so people know, i'm going to start tagging this stuff "fake zombie show". if any of y'all want to contribute just tag the post like that too!

Getting to the strip mall was a quick walk, Dennis peppering the two with as many questions as he could as they went. How many people lived in the village already? (About 80.) Did they have a lot of buildings up yet, or was everybody crammed in together? (The newbies were put in the cabins together or with other families until their home could be set up.) What did they all eat? (The crops they harvested, canned and jarred foodstuff otherwise.) Did the have any animals? (Plenty of farm animals, plus fish from the river nearby.)

Not once in his questioning did he bring up there matter of guns, or hunting down zombies, or even if they would let him bring his own weapons. Reluctantly, Diamond found herself liking the man. Despite his burly, manly-man build and beard, he had an earnest air to him, and never seemed to growl or scowl like the uber-prepared, weapon-wielding men she had first brushed with in the wake of society's collective breakdown were so fond of doing. Still, that didn’t mean she would trust him. James, Kenny, and Don and their group of male sycophants had seemed like perfectly down-to-earth men in the beginning months of Clemency too, and then they tried to break into the gun-shed out of some wild idea that they, blue-collar men with no idea what farm life was like, were the rightful leaders of the place due to their manhood.

It hadn’t worked, of course, and the whole group had been kicked out, but after that Diamond was hardly inclined to give some random man off the street the benefit of the doubt. She glanced at Ben to gauge his opinion, and suppressed a sigh at the look on his face as he explained the irrigation system to Dennis. While most would assume she and Ben were simply coworkers, sticking together because they had to get the job done, the truth was they had been friends long before the village was even a glimmer in Maizy’s eye. Therefore, she knew damn well how Ben looked when head the beginnings of a crush.

Nudging her horse Pennyfarthing closer to Ben so he was forced to look at her, she leveled him with a look that she hoped conveyed the words, “For fucks sake, Gold, don’t get attached.” Luckily, he seemed to understand, if the face he made back at her was any clue.

Finally, they emerged from the trees to face several squat buildings next to a pothole-filled road; the solemn, worn remains of modern life. “It’ll just be on the other side now,” said Dennis, who had perked up at the sight of crumbling bricks and flaking paint. Diamond grimaced. If this was where they were sticking it out, she could understand why he seemed so interested in Clemency; she and Ben, at least, had had a structurally sound house to hide out in the beginning. All the buildings here looked one harsh breeze from falling into themselves. They crossed through the road with little concern-- if anyone still had a car and gas, they wouldn’t be using it up on a random road in Michigan.

The strip mall seemed a bit sturdier than the other buildings, though that didn’t really mean much. Graffiti and other unidentifiable substances were caked to the bricks, the glass fronts all broken long ago. The cleanest parts of the place were the bright patches where signs once hung, stark in contrast. The parking lot is just as hole-filled as the road, grass, weeds, and even a small tree pushing through the remains. There are also quite a few crusted, dark brown spots roughly the size of bodies that Diamond chose not to linger on.

Dennis immediately headed to what once was named Anne’s Bagels, according to the cracked wooden sign somehow still clinging to its place above the doorway. Following after, Diamond peered through the broken window, Ben right behind her, and considered the rotten wooden floorboards, scattered remaining tables and chairs, and torn yellow wallpaper vainly sticking to the walls. Despite the obvious wear, she could see efforts to make the place homier; the dining area had been swept and the furniture shoved into the corner save for three chairs and a table, and the counter were the register likely once sat had been cleared off as well. A ragged blanket was hanging from the backroom door, probably to at least give the illusion of privacy.

She watched as Dennis knocked firmly on the doorframe in a pattern she didn’t recognize, calling out “Come on out, I’ve got some nice folks for you guys to meet!” Raising her crossbow slightly-- this still could be a trap, after all-- Diamond waited.

There were a few moments of hurried scuffling, and the blanket was pulled back to reveal two wide-eyed faces. Two girls stared out at them, one a lanky, pale girl with dishwasher blonde hair, and the other a younger black girl with her hair clipped back, poofing out from behind her head. Diamond estimated they were probably about fourteen and eight, respectively, before her thoughts were interrupted by a squeal of “Horses!” as the younger girl ducked out from the blanket and ran full tilt towards them.

“Hold your horses, now, Cass,” Dennis warned, scooping the girl up into a fireman’s carry before she could actual reach Pennyfarthing, “you can’t just run up to them, they’ll get spooked and buck our new friends off.”

Cass giggled wildly at the joke as Dennis her spun around, and cried, “Okay, okay! Put me down,” wacking at his back for good measure. Diamond found herself unwilling endeared. Dennis compiled, setting her back down onto the floor, and beckoned to the girl who had still hid in the backroom, watching them all with solemn eyes. Reluctantly, she crept out, muttering a quiet hello.

“Right,” Dennis beamed, “That’s Tobi over there, and this is Cassandra!” He gestured to Cass, who was approaching Pennyfarthing with exaggerated stealth. Ben walked Delilah so they were side by side, and the girl’s eyes widened once more.

Dalmation horse,” she breathed, staring at Delilah’s black-spotted side. This time, Diamond didn’t bother hiding her snort as Ben broke out into a wide grin.

Maybe she could trust these people. Just a little bit.


quick excerpt:

Decker frowned at the earth spirit. "You said that we're fighting other magic users, right? Won't they know to look out for us?"

Mountainside did not have a face suited for expressions-- in fact, she barely had a face at all, just indents where her eyes should have been and a shallow crack at the lower half of her head that only vaguely suggested a mouth-- but Decker notheless found himself thinking that had she been a human, she would have been wearing a very sly smile indeed. "Not quite," she said, mischief clear in her harsh, echoing voice, "Oh, they'll be paying attention for us elements-- but not us, you see? The Cast shall be so busy cowering at the thought of the Fires, or shuddering at the mention of the Waters and Winds, that they won't ever think to bother with the poor, dull Earths." She shook her head in faux-disappointment. "It's happend before and it'll happen again none too soon; those wicked types can be so very blind when they want to be."

Decker gazed at her consideringly. "Well, in that case, we better get going, huh?" He reached out his hand and Mountainside took it, her form crumbling as he felt the inhuman strength return to his body. He reached out to the corner of his mind she had settled herself into and snorted to himself at the pleased echo he received. Don't get to big-headed, he warned, we don't want an avalanche, now do we? Grinning at the mock-outrage she lobbed his way, Decker turned to the storage room's door. "Show time," he muttered, and opened it.