When Worlds Collide by Anne (an April Fool’s Extra)

Tower Bridge © Copyright, Anne Marie 2008. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Tower Bridge © Copyright, Anne Marie 2008. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

*Go here and here to read the origins of this story*

Break Your Heart

The snap of power used during the divination burns the skin above my collarbone. It takes the breath of a star to get to Cheapside, London from Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

London hits me in the face with unwashed bodies stuffed into filthy clothes. Ratty-haired women roam the streets selling themselves. The reek of burning coal and sickness hang heavy in the cold November air, a sharp contrast from the fresh sea air and white sand beaches. Like a pack of vultures, my psychopomps swoop down to join me on the street leaching color with their black wings.

Two boys, arms slung around each other’s shoulder, step from behind darkly polished doors. Power emanates from behind them, blinding me with its multicolored light. Light shining like a beacon in the dark. It sings to me. Tempts me to cross that threshold and touch every single person playing fortuneteller until the light blinks out in a wink. But the taller boy carries darkness in his pocket like a handkerchief. He’s the one.

I remove my black-lace gloves and follow. The gang hangs back; their eyes burn holes through the fabric of my gown. Usually, I remain out of human’s sight. Unless they belong to the Diviner’s Club; they see through my illusions.

“Paul,” says the taller boy, doomed and unaware, “stop holding a candle to the devil and give us the goods.”

The other boy shakes his head, and then moves the brim of his baker boy up and down on his forehead. He drops his arm off his friend’s shoulders. Good, I don’t want to accidentally touch him. They look behind them, Paul stares right at me. He holds a hand up as if to say, “We’re not interested.” I smile, wide-mouthed and bright-eyed. He doesn’t carry the mark; he’s touched with light. Interesting.

My buttoned boots click clack click in rhythm with their steps. The taller boy doesn’t notice a thing. He continues ribbing Paul to learn some secret. Maybe he wants to know that his true future was told in subtle riddles, but Paul doesn’t have the first idea how to tease out the true meaning. He whips his head behind him a number of times before his friend notices.

“What’s got your knickers in a twist?” The other boy scans behind them, seeing no one.

“There’s a lady following us,” Paul whispers. I catch his words as they echo off the building and continue down the breeze.

A carriage led by a team of four clops down the cobbled street, distracting both boys. I slide ahead of them, faster than starlight racing across the universe. Paul’s friend flinches a tiny bit when I brush a cold hand against his cheek. He steps out in front of the horses. One of them bucks up, kicking well-manicured hooves into the boy’s face and chest. He falls in slow-motion, grabbing the pocket of his coat where the darkness hides.

The carriage bumps and hops over his broken body before stopping with a “Whoa!” and harsh yank on the reins. Both driver and passenger leap toward us. A pool of crimson spreads out, staining the stones and reflecting the gaslight in muted sparks. I replace my gloves, feeling the brush of dark wings sweep past me. My psychopomps surround the body.

Paul walks to me and beats his fists against my chest. The men from the carriage gape at him. They might do worse if they could see he was assaulting a woman.

“He was my future!” he screams against the wind, tears streaming down his cheeks.

~*~*~*~*~
A/N: Happy April Fools! I hope you enjoyed our mash-ups. We were inspired by last month’s Craft Discussion: World Building.

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“El Petó de la Mort” by Jaume Barba Inspires Julie

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

Bone White

I’m cradling him in my arms, but at my touch he shrinks away, though his breath comes in shallow, pained gasps. I thought I saw a glimmer of recognition when he first beheld me, then terror. I winged out of the ether, calling his name—a croak, a breeze, a grinding of bone against bone in this deathly form of mine. There he was, beautiful as ever, at the edge of the lake.

His eyes, blue as its waters, begin to cloud. His leg is twisted beneath him. He rests on a pile of stones at the bottom of the incline where he fell, in his panic.

“Cassius,” he groans, and though I no longer have the faculty to feel warmth, to feel anything, I can imagine that my heart would surge at the sound of my name.

I brush aside the hair that has fallen across his forehead and he winces, tosses his head.

“Be gone,” he says, and blood wells between his lips.

I came to bid him farewell, for I feared he had forgotten me. I was wrong, and I see now that I’ve sealed his fate, too. continue reading…

“El Petó de la Mort” by Jaume Barba Inspires Anne

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

Autrefois

No matter how hard I try, I can’t escape summer in Paris. Full-bloom irises mingle with Nutella crêpes on the sticky breezes. Tourists from far away lands rush into shoppes shouting their lazy vowels to be understood. Dragging the language through the mud turns the owners into the very stereotypical French snobs, but the business is good—very good—and the tourists don’t understand their subtle jabs. Schoolboys dart past me, bringing a dash of salt and dirty hair to the air. Underneath it all, Paris herself reeks of revolution warring with peace, the spilled blood of enemies and brothers, and the thrill of living. I swallow it all down. It lingers like good wine at the back of my throat.

A sandy-haired boy with thick glasses and dirty knees stops, looks perplexed, and says to no one in particular, “When you imagine yourself as a cannibal, you never think about eating babies.”

The other boys shake their heads, laughing, and continue breaking up handholding couples and hurdling over shivering toy poodles. An older man wearing a linen suit and cap shakes his cane at the boys, but they’re already crossing the street. I hug the old man. He doesn’t know I’m there, but through my black singlet his heart beats faster as if to deny me. My gloved hands tighten on his shoulder blades before I let him continue his life, unmolested. For now.

One touch of my bare hand, and this man, those boys, and the sour shoppe owners would be reduced to rotting meat. My psychopomps fly to my touch like bees to nectar to collect a mortal’s essence. I’ve been reticent today, taking only the sick when I run comforting fingers along their cheeks and brow. That final breath comes with or without a loved one holding their hand. I haunt the places where humans generally die: hospitals and nursing homes. It’s summer after all, and people should be allowed to enjoy themselves without my interfering touch. My psychopomps grow restless. Hungry. continue reading…

“El Petó de la Mort” by Jaume Barba Inspires Jen

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

El Petó de la Mort by Jaume Barba

Hungry

My mother always painted a grim picture of death. Death should be bony and have talons dark and dry as the hulls of beetles and probably have some sort of awful smell like chicken crap or moth balls or the two mixed together. Death is gross. He’s a thief and a manipulator and he’s the shoot-first-ask-questions-later type. To be avoided, surely. Nobody likes death, but if you do, he takes you without a fight.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

Luckily for my mother, I had no intentions of looking for death.  I didn’t drive too fast or climb trees or hunt bears. Mostly because I spent most of my time taking pictures of other people driving too fast or climbing trees or hunting bears. My friends were the brave ones. I was always slightly to the left, removed. My photos were my social saving grace because my idiot buddies loved their own triumphs, and I was the hero who was close enough to the action to get the money shots. They were the risk takers. I was close behind, but always just out of death’s creeping reach. Maybe it makes me a coward, but I hoped it just kept me alive.

Death was a hungry thing. Lincoln High was having a bad year. Death was never satisfied with us.
The morning of Olan’s funeral was full of sun and a breeze that was just enough to make the trees whisper. The sun was a betrayal, and it looked weird to see so much black under a bright blue sky. I think my whole school came, though I bet only a few actually knew him. Death in a small town makes you famous. It was a sea of kids in suits that didn’t fit crying over a boy they probably gave the knee-jerk “Have a great summer!” bullshit at yearbook signing time. continue reading…