Darq, Part 3

* * *

The woman gleefully laughed to herself. My plan, perfect. Her eyes narrowed as she thought of Toonie.

What am I going to do with him? Can’t keep him here; too dangerous, she thought, looking around at her dank, paint-peeled abode. Yet I expect him at any time if my oh-so-capable goon can get his job done right. She looked down at the floor, the monkey feet of her minions in her peripheral. Dingy green carpet with burn holes and urine stains.

A knock sounded at the thin, hallow door.

“Enter.”

Her captive appeared in the entry between two of her goons, his arrogant head held high.

He didn’t wait for an invitation to speak. “Good to see you again, Isabelle.” An impudent wink.

“Oh, get off it, McKenzie. I know your game.” She rose from the small twin-size bed in the corner. The silver filigree in her robes reflected light from the lamp that sat on a nightstand at her side. She sneered. “And now I have you.”

“You’ve always had me,” he sighed.

The queen blinked once. She hadn’t thought he could be so soft of heart. Perhaps he was older than she thought. Maybe the years had softened his resolve.

“Then tell me where the Book is.”

“You know I can’t.”

“You have no choice,” she hissed.

“Of course I do. I just made it. It’s the only one I ever had, once you wanted all of… this.” His green eyes pointedly glanced about.

Isabelle rolled her eyes. Can’t believe I have to go through this over again.

“I want the Book. And if you don’t let me know where it is, I’ll eventually find it anyway. But it’ll be that much more difficult, take that much more time, and it’ll be a lot more—unsavory. I’d much prefer to make a clean retrieval. I’d rather not have to kill your little friends.”

“They’re your friends, too.”

“Same Book only,” she dismissed. “No relation. Tell me already.”

Toonie strode up to her, minimal hesitation from the guards that held him. Chimp was standing in the archway of the doors. Another monkey stood nearby.

Isabelle’s knees quivered to have him so near. She was in awe of the bravado he displayed, ever thwarting her hold over him in front of her subjects.

“As I said: no.”

Strong, firm jaw. She had to give him credit. He had some big balls in those Levi jeans.  “I will admit it, then. I don’t know what the hell to do with you.” She sat back down. “I don’t want to kill you. I’m not sure how I can make you tell me.”

“At a loss, I see.”

The queen’s eyes pierced his own. “You are the Creator. Of us all.” She gestured to the two guards. “My Creator.”

After a moment, she said to the guards that held him, despite the dubious glances they kept giving her, “Tie him up.”

*

Well, this is a fine mess to have gotten myself into. Leaning against the far corner of a dingy room, I sighed.

After the gorilla had me safely in the car, he put a sack over my head, and I was left absent from daylight. I never saw my way here, and he must have taken me through a back entrance, for I heard no commotion, unless they had already killed the person working the lobby.

Before I was brought in the room with her, they removed the bag from my head and smoothed my hair. Couldn’t have me looking abused before her eyes.

My old flame. I had been in love with her once, and I loved her still. She was my moon, my stars, the sun in my dappled and probably polka-dotted sky. Her name was Isabelle. And her eyes were just as blue as I remembered them, when I had first drawn her in my sketchbook.

I don’t know why I ever thought to draw her. I was at my art desk one of those sleepwalking nights with the magic pen. And there she was. Her sketch had so much… personality. It’s hard to describe everything I felt, other than the initial feelings that she was somehow unfinished—

I readjusted myself in the corner. A daddy-long-leg spider crawled over my pant leg. My hands were asleep behind me. But none of these things had enough power to irritate me from my thoughts—

I began to draw her more often, in many different poses, situations and styles. I couldn’t get enough of tracing her curves onto the paper. Isabelle was my prize work of art.

And one day, after a new set of sketches, I finally finished the loveliest piece of her. It was an eleven-by-fourteen inch illustration. She wore a gown of the most expensive moirés, inlays, and lace. I detailed a silver circlet upon her lovely head. I colored her in. Something came over me as I was adding the final touch—her hair.

A great flowing mane of jet breaks the starkness of her snow white skin to rest halfway down her back, smooth black ringlets over her gown’s vestments, a crimson sash draped over her shoulders.

My last thought that night was, She’s so beautiful. And I knew no more until the next morning, having sunk into a realm of sleep as dark as her hair. I found that like so many other finished drawings I had done—many not of my own choice, I just had to—she had disappeared from the paper, left me drooling on empty space.

Usually, my characters disappeared without any trace. Yet I couldn’t figure out why I felt something different about this day. And it was different.

I found her downstairs. She was sitting on the couch in my living room, cozy brown leather, and she was nude—

The spider finished making rounds over my pants, crept up my shirt, and after a brief journey back down my body, crawled inside my pant leg. What a feeling. Oh, well—

She was beautiful. Her skin was almost preternaturally pale with a gentle shimmer of extraordinary health. She was lithely built, a slender body housing everything that art is composed of brought to life. She was a collage, her eyes an azure blue hue only watercolor pencil can make just so; her hair, layer upon layer of thick, ebony, acrylic curls. She was perfection sans white feathered wings.

My breath caught in my throat when she first opened her soft, coral-and-crimson colored mouth and spoke the first words she ever said off of paper: “I have come.”

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Darq, Part 2

* * *

Down the stairs we went, and my impatience silently grew with each step, his gun still centered on my back.

I had become a fugitive in my own world. I knew who the chimp was. I just had to wonder what new agenda Slick had concocted. I had thought I had more time than this.

The chimp led me to a blue corvette. I knew this car. It was the same car.

“You won’t get away with this, chimp.”

The hunched figure seemed to hunker beneath his trench-coated shoulders a little. He must be one of the monkeys who despised authority. I’d bet he sure didn’t like being a member of the squad, either.

“Shuddap, Meek.” His deep voice was gruff, and it grated on my ears. Maybe he was part gorilla; he was such a big fellow.

“So you know.”

“No, what you don’t know is how t’ shut yer trap!”

He had gotten up on his haunches and reached up, dragged my face down to his level. His gun flattened my nose to one side. I smiled apologetically, able to see up one of his flared nostrils. I already knew what kind of short tempers they had.

“Get in.”

As if I had a choice. His beefy finger had four impatient pounds on a five-pound trigger. I opened the passenger door and got in. The chimp vaulted over the side and into the driver’s seat.

*

A squat little man strode through the doors of a 7-Eleven with a lit cigar in hand. Cloying, cherry scented smoke drifted over the counter to the clerk.

The man behind the counter looked up. “Sir, you can’t smoke in here.”

The figure turned his back to the clerk. After squeaking his rain boots on the floor, he went and picked up a bag of Doritos.

“Sir?”

He walked back to the counter. All the clerk could see now was the top of a green plastic rain hat. It began to pace.

“You’re gonna have to pay for that, sir. Sir?”

The clerk jumped when he heard a gruff bark of laughter from below. Then, “Come ‘ere. Right in ‘ere.”

The clerk leaned over the counter enough to see down. The little man was gesturing to the door with a finger, beckoning. Then he patted his short legs.

“Come on.” It seemed the man was becoming impatient. The clerk looked to the door as a monkey stepped in with an electric ding.

It wore a set of blue jean overalls, armed with a gun. It looked so real, but for a black outline. It shrieked at the man.

“Him,” a thumb pointed back at the clerk.

The chimpanzee shrieked and let loose a spray of bullets at the floor. The clerk wet his pants.

“Stop messin’ around, you idiot. We have work to do, got to head off the ‘vette.”

The chimp scowled, sighed, and then rolled its beady eyes. The clerk ducked as the gun pointed his way this time. The register took a beating.

“Oh, God,” he gulped. He fumbled for the revolver secured beneath the counter. He heard a thump from above and looked up, his hands in the middle of loading the gun. He would remain looking up long after the bullets flew, one arm partially extended to hit the silent alarm.

“Hey! You fuckin’ idiot. Gimme those cigars! You almost hit ‘em.”

The door jingled as they left.

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Darq, Part 1

The following is a story I’d started that got tagged in my later writing courses as too similar to Roger Rabbit and I forget what it was called, but apparently monkey henchmen are too common. I’ve essentially retired this story, though I may recycle the main character. Toons was a character I based on a favorite geology professor.

The devil-monkey gave me his most asinine grin from across the table in my upstairs parlor. In his left paw he aimed an Uzi at my middle, in his mouth was my cucumber sandwich. I always knew it would be like this. My life has never been completely normal.

I remember days when I would hallucinate and believe I saw my own version of Mickey Mouse watching television in my living room, or Daisy Duck mowing my lawn; such benign characters from my workshop. Yet now those creations were stuffed in the trunk of my electric blue corvette, dead with holes blasted through their skulls, or so I had been told.

This sad, sadistic ape couldn’t help but leap from my latest masterpiece: Ape Mafia and Me. I never believed that the “magic pen” I bought from the door-to-door salesman could possibly be credited with bringing inanimate lines and color to life.

The pen was odd—strange to be sure, with its ink so shimmering and its finger grip so addicting, its glide so smooth over my illustration board. Stranger though was the fact that every time I woke, I would be at my art desk, producing new art each time. I never knew when I would find myself at my table—it just happened. Once I found a very ornate, very animated, finished picture of Thor’s hammer, as I recognized it. This hammer I had drawn had purpose, if not reason. The hero of my new Ape Mafia comic had used it to defeat the enemy. But the hammer disappeared between one night and the next, lost somewhere in the insanity of my midnight art.

*

The monkey in my home gave again his devil-monkey-may-care look as he licked his chops of the remnants of my sandwich. It was time. The chimp led me downstairs at gunpoint. What he didn’t know would destroy him… which was exactly as I intended.

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Fix-it relationships

“I only seem to be able to attract broken women and I don’t know what that says about me.”

Only attracting broken partners both says not a damn thing, and everything.

The easy answer: Stop accepting/pursuing fix-it relationships, if that isn’t what you want. We attract what we feel, the patterns we live, and who we are within. Like attracts like. Why else do you learn from the relationships you have had? How can you, if they are not reflections of you?

It doesn’t make you bad not to want to deal with baggage, but realize that there will allllways be baggage. We’re all people, and as much as you don’t need to be fixing whoever-s/he-is, whoever-s/he-is shouldn’t need to fix you, either. People often mirror the worlds they build.

On another note, if you love whoever-s/he-is, sometimes broken just needs fixed. Does broken have to mean unfixable, impossible, or unhealthy? If codependence is the issue, then yeah – avoid that. But if that brokenness is not your partner’s “natural state” – then it might be worth hanging in there.

One of the most powerful things you can do for your partner is simply to listen. Just listen. LISTEN TO THEM. Don’t sit there waiting to say something witty. Sit there and wait as they pour their heart out to you, shed those gut-wrenching tears, and let go of the broken past they’ve lived.

That was one of the most meaningful things my Fox has done for me. I felt unlovable, and unworthy, and beyond repair, and just… sad. As much as I don’t like to let things “get to me” by passing them off as “I’m better than the depression it takes to feel this,” I’ve held back a lot of grief over the years.

“Broken” isn’t a quality that happens overnight. Being a dumbass, letting anger get the best of you rather than constructively expressing it, and giving up are overnight qualities. Broken, though – that takes some doing for the human condition to reach.

The best way to fix broken? Provide genuine compassion. This doesn’t mean to coddle, or let them become selfish and yourself resent them for needing; it means to show understanding. Help them reflect. Be a sounding board. Give them the affection they need to come back ’round to who they truly are.

No, you can’t fix them – the thing is, they can fix themselves. Stop trying to fix them. Help them find the answers. Help them be the exact person they are in their soul. Don’t put them on the defensive, it only serves to bring the “I’m okay, really” masks. If they are who you love, then just love them.

The good news, though, it is easy to love. It’s just harder to accept that it is easy to do. And another thing, in giving love – don’t be afraid to love yourself. And don’t be afraid to let the one(s) you love to love you back. To really give love, you must also be willing to receive it and to give it to yourself.

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Godthief, Part 2

Water dripped from her hairline to her eyebrow, and she absentmindedly swiped it away, lest it blind her eye to the world inside her home. She did not keep a mirror, for mirrors allowed Other—worlds, entities—the opportunity to enter her own. All that she kept in her small stone house was a sturdy table of the same dense wood as her front door, two chairs, a bookcase with various, painstakingly hand-copied tomes about herbs and anatomy, her bed, and an old armoire where she kept a sparing number of durable gowns, more-durable aprons and an old rabbit poppet a cousin had given her.

Though she kept no glass, she Felt the hair on the nape of her neck prickle, and knew an Other stood in the room watching. Her eyes darted up and she quickly found the shimmer that waited not ten feet from her bath, to her left. With another Thought, she quickly envisioned a ball of Light around herself and knew she was Protected, then, and then she threw a separate ball around the shimmer. The shimmer became plain within the confines of her device, and she knew another angel had come.

Nessiah remembered when she first knew God was real. She was raised to respect the holiness of the Church, and she never had quarrel with its followers, even though she never attended unless ordered by her guardian. She never felt she belonged to the things others in town did.

As a child of six winters, for she was born in the winter, she voluntarily accompanied her one close friend, Aleesa, to Church. She was sorely disappointed, for those she heard there said that she should seek to redeem her sins, whether or not she had earned any. No, her place was to thank a man who was martyred on a cross. Why must she pay for the sins of others, she wondered. Why was her world, where the universe kept its own order—Balance—not proper? Why should she simply believe in something that she felt nothing for? Why not enjoy the stars on a dark night, or curl beneath a strong, green tree and know she was safe? It was twenty-one years before the Other spoke out loud.

For sixteen of those years, she’d known she could Heal, and did, and not many were the wiser. She was the silent girl in the village, one that many of the boys mooned for. Her disposition, however, was one that did not allure, even though her voice was always sweet and her face was comely, and even though they’d never known her to have business of her own there, many thought she would take Vows with the Church. She was an odd sort, and they were not ones to force, though they did talk often, so figured her goodness would eventually help her find her way.

Sometimes she did find her way, though not for lessons of morality. No, her interests lay with the harp that one of the priests kept. Knowing her tendency to avoid the pews, he thought he might school her himself. To bring her into the fold, he offered her harp lessons to reel her in when he saw her looking into the distance with her head cocked one afternoon, listening to him play. It had not taken her long to learn to pluck it, a mere couple of moments. It also did not take her long to learn to string it when one of the strings broke, less than the time it took for her to learn to place and curl her fingers and twist just so to send forth the harp’s sweet, shivering tone. The harp lesson she’d had that first day took less than an hour, but Nessiah had demonstrated technique it took the priest several weeks to master. He called her a natural. Bashful, her face pinked and she looked away.

She looked out the door of the priest’s small, bare room and saw a straight-backed man walking at a fast clip toward where she sat. Setting aside the harp, she noticed the priest frown, but she knew the man approaching would need her Light. She stood as he arrived, his breath puffing slightly, and she met his weathered eyes, saw the stains of dust rubbed into his thin coat, and wondered what the next illness would be.

Standing a moment to catch his breath, for he preferred dignity to haste, though a mote of panic still sparked his eye, he blurted, “Risherd’s got the Devil in him.”

Nessiah raised a brow. “The devil?” That was just a cautionary tale told to children who preferred mischief to obedience. Surely, he meant a cough that wracked his body, or a cold that’d swept from him his senses.

“Just come with me, will you? I know you can help him, you help everybody.” An urge within her rose, and she thought she might as well follow.

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Godthief, Part 1

“You’re not getting this one.” Nessiah glared at the winged creature that stared at her from across the dim room. Its feathered limbs spanned a good portion of her small stone home, its complexion was the fairest of all creatures living, though it existed in a less corporeal state. Its icy-white eyes narrowed, and it appeared to look down its fine nose at her.

Nessiah worked over the old man as he continued to hack great globs of blood and dark mucous into his kerchief, his face paling from fright as he saw the approach of his demise. “Pale… devil… corner—” he labored.

“Pay no attention to it, sir. It’ll not have you.” Nessiah’s hands glowed from within, luminescent, silver-blue light radiating gently from her palms and into his backside. The rattle that had suffused his chest settled, but the hacking remained.

Another globule escaped his mouth, sliding from his quivering, puckered lips. “I’m—dying!”

Nessiah pressed the glow into his body, willed it to seep further, deeper, and urged it with her mind to soak in, like sunlight across the faces of greedy spring flowers. His breath caught, he hacked once more, and then he calmed, having become transfixed by the absolute light that she gave him. The Light was not a conscious thing, or one that she knew in and out, but the Light was a familiar friend, one that she did know she controlled, and that life responded. Nessiah’s Healing had made the old man whole again.

“Not today, you’re not, sir. You are well again.” The old man stood as far as his arthritic joints, more limber from the effects of her ministrations, would allow. He pulled his cap from his wispy pate and clutched it to his chest. His eyes brimmed, but he said no words. He weakly backed out of her door and left. Nessiah watched his progress, wished he would not fear her now that he was better, but let him make his way. She made sure her door was well latched once he’d gone, let her hands and forehead rest against the dense wood.

The angel shook its elegant head. “You’ve made a mistake, human. Not that it surprises Father, who you continue to disobey.”

Nessiah picked up her head from the door and stoically met the angel’s gaze, a small curl in her upper lip, and sent it back her thoughts. The angel’s eyes widened, and when it stretched its wings she felt an answering twinge in her back, and it faded from view.

Later that day, Nessiah was nestled in her wash tub, having soaped and rinsed it so that she could draw a bath from the store of water she’d trapped above her roof. With a simple pull of a rope, she could move the small plug that blocked the water flow from a bin that sat on her roof, and fill her bath. The woodcutter, who was enamored by her charms, both the mundane and the etheric, had devised the contraption one day and had assembled it while she gardened. She appreciated his help, but she did not care for his attention. She would not be a marrying woman, no, since he’d have lordship over the way she ran things. She’d be bound to a husband, trapped, her say-so stunted by the township’s warped sense of propriety.

If not for what she could do, the old man, like many others she’d kept from the Other, would have died. The township, however—when it suited them—either spoke ill of or praised her gifts as it pleased them. Should a child be sick, a worried mother would come for a potion, and he would be much more comfortable by nightfall. A panicked father would rush his small, waifish wife to her doorstep, the poor woman on the cusp of bleeding to death from an unfortunate breech birth, and her Light would seep into her womb and her Will would shift the child so that it came out right, and then she’d keep the mother from God’s door, too.

That way lay death. Surely, the Grim had his job where it led him, but Nessiah figured her job was to prevent it. How else, knowing what she knew, could she live with herself? Nessiah looked past the brim of her wash tub, looked towards the stained glass sun catcher that was given her for helping—discreetly!—the headwoman of a neighboring village deliver her illegitimate heir. She had wanted the little daughter, who would be several months older than her legitimate grandson, to ascend her position in the village. The headwoman had not cared for her corrupt son-in-law who drank to his lees each night and beat her daughter each day.

If only Nessiah could escape the politics and grievances of every folk who got to know her. Whether she liked it or no, her Light set her apart. She could not hide it, for its compassion and need to be used shone from her face like the perpetual glow of a sunburn, even though her skin was evenly olive, like the gypsies who sometimes camped nearby and then moved on with the next dawn. Her eyes often darted over those she met, and she could see the dark patches—illness, sadness, strong yearning, absences, physical wounds—where they needed help. She might not be drawn to any certain person, but those who came to her and asked her aid were certainly within her jurisdiction, as were those she Felt pulled toward.

Nessiah pulled her hands from her bath water, looked at how they’d pruned, let the sweet musk of rosemary herb she had added to her water enter her awareness. Her thick mane of dark brown hair hung straight into the water where it blossomed into weightless fog beneath its surface. She studied her own palms, the few lines that crossed each of their spans, studied the small swells of flesh that defined the pads of her hands. She looked at the blue veins that branched from her forearms into her palms, and she stared for a while at the ways in which the lines of her palms differed. She primarily used her right hand. Once, she had crossed a gypsy’s palm with her coin to learn her life Path, and had learned that the lines of her left hand were those of her lives Before and To Come, and her right hand predicted the Now.

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New Year’s resolution to lose weight?

Maybe this is a reminder for those with weight loss resolutions, or those simply insecure. But I responded to a thread, and wanted to share…

Take into account that numbers [on a scale] do not mean the same thing as health. Some people have thyroid or other issues, and are perfectly healthy otherwise. A healthier image is not the amount you want to lose, but what you want to focus on to promote your best physical health.

Keeping in mind the choices I would rather make for physical health is what has helped me the most in my life. I struggled with weight when I was much younger, I was 14, and have made a point ever since to make sure I eat what I should. It’s amazing how long a 2-month bout of anorexia will stay with you. (I was pushing a 2-sizes-larger pair of pants. I have worn a size 12 since that time – size 10 until that age because my hips had just filled out – but was almost size 16.) I may have lost 20 pounds in those two months, but it took me 4 months after it to eat regularly again and make sure my mental focus and perception of myself were better.

It took me until my mid-twenties before I really looked the heck around myself – there are LOTS of shapes. We are PEOPLE shaped, not “pear” or “apple” or whatever. Even models have shapes, however much PhotoShop has been applied to their images. Check out the before/after effects on the modeling industry.

Finally, a question I ask myself is if I’m HAPPY with my weight, my eating habits, drinking enough water? No? Then I need to re-evaluate my habits. If there’s something I definitely have control over, it’s how I want to eat and what I can do to reach my optimum level of physical happiness because the body I have is the shape *I* live in – so whatever someone else has to say (like how “big my butt is” is generally, actually, commentary on how wide my hips are) really doesn’t matter much to me. It used to, until I realized, “Hey, can’t change it, and why *should* I want to?”

  • Moderation is a good lot of the key.
  • When you’re “comfortably full” you’re done.
  • Eat healthier foods, obviously, and in moderation.
  • if you don’t snack at regular intervals, try putting a 4-hour minimum between breakfast, lunch, and dinner to space them out right. Do not fear snacking anyway, if it’s a good-for-you thing to eat.
  • Omit corn syrup, dyes, and hydrogenated oils.
  • Omit chips, soda, and anything that says “Little Debbie” or similar.
  • When you feel hungry make sure you aren’t actually thirsty and drink a glass of water with each meal.
  • Don’t beat yourself for getting seconds, when you choose to. Just know you’re choosing to when you do.

Those are a few things I live by, just a few of my thoughts.

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