When Worlds Collide by Julie (An April Fool’s Extra)

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

Chances

Humming a tune to myself, la-dee-dah-dee-dah, as I close up shop. I exit out the back, cutting through the alley. My friends are waiting at the concert. There’s a message on my phone from the girl with the hazel eyes: I’m waiting for you.

Something tosses in the alley, glass tinkling, between the trash bins, and I drop the phone.

Hello?

A groan, deep like an animal. Then a girl rolls out, skin marked with bruises, blonde hair tangled and charred. Naked except for the trash stuck to her.

Who are you? she rumbles, yellow-eyed, and my skin seizes with prickles.

I won’t hurt you. I fling up my hands. I’m Quinn.

She snorts, blinks with reptilian ease.

Where am I?

——, I say. Heart of the city. Need me to call a cab?

Her voice stops me picking up the phone.

I think I did something terrible. She palms her forehead.

Her eyes sweep my suit, my shiny shoes, slicked-back hair. She frowns. There’s a question she doesn’t ask. I could ask her the same thing.

Fumbling, I unhook my jacket, slide it down my arms, offer it to her.

Here. You’ll get in trouble walking around like that.

She realizes her nakedness and laughs throatily. Smoke puffs into the air. She snatches the jacket.

My phone pings from the brick at my feet. She eyes it sideways, stare unnerving. I make a decision.

You did something bad? I say.

Her lips smoosh together, and she gazes at the dumpsters, the fire escapes, back to me. Rolls her shoulders.

Do you regret it?

She doesn’t answer.

I can make it go away, if you want, I say. Hazel Eyes might not wait for me.

The girl smoothes the jacket sleeves, just long enough to brush her thighs. She laughs, a more human sound this time.

I’ll take my chances on regret, she says. Why don’t you call that cab?

First I dig in my pocket and pass her the bills in my wallet.

Get some clothes, I say.

She smiles, her eyes mellowing to blue. Thanks, she says.

Once the cab leaves, my phone pings again.

Something up?

I start to type a response, pause. The alley sprawls empty behind me.

Can’t remember. See you soon.

~*~*~*~*~
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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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.

“Future” by Paramore Inspires Audrey

The Heap

It was the boy with dark hair.

Helena stopped and dropped to the ground. Her hand slid into something slimy and she had to bite her tongue to keep from screaming. She could hear his feet kicking cans out of the way as he headed toward the rusted blue truck. She held her breath as he passed close, but he didn’t notice her; she was just another piece of trash, all dirty and discarded. Helena stayed where she was until she heard the squeaky hinges of the truck door before jumping up and bolting to the far side of the Heap.

She skidded to a halt in front of her box and looked over her shoulder, but there was no movement behind her. She ducked behind the faded denim flap that served as her door and squatted in the semi-darkness. Helena examined the key. It was metal, warm from being held in her sweaty palm as she ran. There didn’t seem to be anything special about it. She felt around the floor of the box until she found some fishing line and pulled it through a hole on the key. She tied the line around her neck and let the key fall under her shirt. Derrick had probably seen her at the truck. If she lost her prize now, he would kill her for sure.

Peter slammed the truck door shut and listened to the tinkle of rusted pieces falling off. It sounded almost like rain, or what he remembered rain sounding like. He leaned back over the worn leather of the front seat to glance in the back of the cab. He added a half full bottle of water to the pile. It was all he had found today. His rat stopped digging in its newspaper bedding to watch the bottle teeter for a moment before falling to the floor and rolling under the front seat. Peter sighed and slipped to the floor to retrieve the bottle. His hair fell into his eyes and he had to push it back a couple of times before he spotted the bottle. He reached for it and was just able to get it rolling toward the front of the cab with the tips of his fingers. He grasped the bottle in one hand and ran his other hand under the seat searching for the key.

It was gone.

continue reading…

“Future” by Paramore Inspires Anne

The Diviner’s Club

Paul clutches the velvety smooth white card in his hand, marvelling at how a thick piece of paper could be the key to his future. He traces a thumb over the gold embossed script and reads for the thousandth time:

The Diviner’s Club requests the presence of
Master Paul Kent
on Saturday evening, the tenth of November,
eighteen eighty-eight at eight o’clock.
16 Cheapside, London, England.

Minutes after they’d left Eton’s grounds, Samuel, in charge of everything since they were thirteen, made Paul change from his King’s Scholar robes into a costume he’d nicked from the playhouse cupboards. “Wouldn’t want to look like a couple of toffs, would we?” The wool itched against the skin at Paul’s throat and wrists. And deep inside he knew he wasn’t a toff to begin with, not even close. He’d needled Samuel for almost the entire carriage ride from Eton to London. Seven hours of begging and pleading, as Samuel laughed and changed the subject.

“We’ve three minutes until the doors open,” Samuel says, tucking his pocket watch beneath a poorly patched overcoat from a production of Othello. The coat would stand out on anyone else, but it hangs on Samuel’s impeccable frame. The watch costs almost as much as Paul’s father makes in a year. “What would the birthday chap like to do in the meantime?”

Paul stands in London, in front of number 16 on his sixteenth birthday, and he remains still and silent. He presses his lips tightly together. Carts and horses jostle each other in the overcrowded streets behind him, children and cats race down alleyways, and smoke rises up from chimneys. Paul likens his reaction to an over stimulated cat, not knowing where to look next. The stillness is broken as he fiddles with the baker boy’s brim. Pulls it down on his brow, pushes it up. Down. Up. Down. Samuel swats his nervous hand from touching the scratchy fabric again.

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“Future” by Paramore Inspires Jen

Unlocked

In my eighteen years of life, I’ve learned that most of it is about getting in. Everybody wants to be on the inside. In high school it’s about popularity, and who gets to hold hands and other things with the cutest jock or doe eyed knock-off ten-seconds-to-knocked-up-barbie. I got out of there without getting a disease or a child.

College is all about getting in. Whether it’s Ivy League or someone’s pants. I shot for the former and landed in a respectable school that wasn’t necessarily Ivy League, but there were a lot of ivy covered buildings, so I figured that had to count for something. I was there to find something elusive and highly regarded. Something you didn’t find in anyone’s pants. They called it a future. And somehow they told me I’d find it in rooms full of kids making decisions bigger than eighteen years on Earth. Heavy decisions, ones that sounded like things grown ups would do. They told us we were grown ups. They lied.

I was not grown the nights I spilled my guts to a girl with eyes that changed color like dusk and realized I was never going to be one for jocks or barbies. She was trimmed in ink lines and her voice was like waves on waves on waves, full of lulling clarity. She hummed notes of songs I knew when I was little, and they sounded like promises falling from her perfect smile. I’d never wanted harmonies, but I wanted them with her. Her lips tasted like sugar and rain and we twined together for five weeks before her eyes turned dark.

She pressed a key into my palm and whispered my name, “Shy.”

“Yes?” My lips were at her ear, and she shivered in the dark.

“What do you want?”

“I want the future,” I told her.

“Sure,” she said, “then you’ll have it.”

She raised the key to her lips and pressed it to them. It glowed for a moment, all embers.

She curled my fingers around it and she was gone in an instant, fast as a summer storm. My skin burned where her eyes had held it, but I still held that key hot and heavy in my hand.

It works on every single lock.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Stay tuned for extra content this week from Julie. Check out Anne’s answer to this prompt next Monday.