Tori’s No Rules Friday

Reaper Girl

The problem isn’t that there’s a ghost standing in front of me or that I have to help him move on. I’ve gotten used to that since Jin spared my life and turned me into his ghost-ferrying, soul-reaping apprentice.

The problem is that I know him.

Roger Lowry goes to my school. Or, he did, I guess.

He was in my chemistry class last year. We were lab partners. He’s only seventeen and now he’s dead, his body crumpled over his steering wheel. His ghost is looking at me with the lost expression common of the recently deceased. It’s one they all wear, even before they realize they’re dead.

“My car,” he says, eyes flicking to the tangled mess of metal that used to be his black BMW. “My parents are going to kill me.”

If Jin were here, he’d probably laugh at that. For the first time since I got the text message telling me to go this one alone, I’m almost glad he’s not here. Almost. Except that inside the car I can see far too much mangled flesh for my liking, and I wish I could hang back and let Jin do the dirty work. I’m not squeamish but it’s not pretty. Roger is only seeing the car for the moment, blind to the thing he doesn’t want to see.

“I think they’ll understand,” I say. I’m pretty sure they’re going to have bigger things to worry about.

Roger looks at my car, parked on the shoulder across the street and creases his brow. “Wait,” he says, tilting his head. “What are you doing out here, Drea? You weren’t at Matt’s party.”

It’s a reasonable question. It’s six in the morning on a Saturday in the middle of June. We’re standing on a curved underpass beneath the mostly-empty freeway. I’m wearing clean clothes, jeans and a t-shirt, not the sort of thing that would suggest I just came from an all-night party like Roger did.

Roger’s car slammed headfirst into the cement wall of the underpass, crushing the front so the hood is almost non-existent, meaning he truly lost control. I’m guessing he wasn’t sober. His accident is hidden from the freeway but it’s only a matter of time before someone notices. It’s taking all of my willpower not to dial 9-1-1. It feels wrong not to call the authorities.

Although in a way, I am the authority here. Besides, it’s not like it’ll do Roger any good at this point.

“Just passing by,” I lie.

Roger ignores me, and steps closer to examine the damage. And then it happens: he spots his body. His face contorts, twists into the most pained, awful expression I’ve ever seen. “Is that… Who is that?”

He knows. I watch the realization dawn on him. Having been out of my body for a panicked two minutes once, I know the feeling all too well. But I got a reprieve and he’s not going to.

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“The Woodpile” by Frightened Rabbit Inspires Audrey

Ridgemoor Manor

Ridgemoor Manor is supposed to be empty. I mean it’s also supposed to be haunted so I don’t think it can be both. Empty and haunted.

Mama went to school with Jonathan Ridgemoor so it hasn’t even been that long. It’s just the weeds and peeling paint that make the house look so decrepit.

“Martha, this is so stupid,” I say crossing my arms over my chest.

“Oh come on, Betty. Don’t be such a Fuddy-Duddy!” Martha replies pulling my arm off and looping it with hers as we walk, our Mary Jane’s tapping in synchrony along the street. “And, Jimmy said he’s bring Roy.” She nudges my side with her elbow, like Roy means something to me.

“It’s just an old house. What’s the big deal?” I whine, my voice high and pitchy.

Martha shakes her head while she laughs, her blonde curls bouncing. “If it’s just an old house, Betty Marshall, then a quick gander won’t hurt nothin’. Oh look! There they are!”

She squeals at the boys and I think she looks like a pig as she prances over in her pink gingham dress, smudgy black lines up the back of her legs. I sigh and follow. Martha and I have been friends since we could walk, but lately she’s been completely khaki-wacky, especially when it comes to Jimmy.

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Happy Cimmerween! From Jen

Cimmerween!“Angel of Grief” Part 2: The Breaking

The vulture’s claws scrape my arms like fire and find purchase on the grit of stone. There is a moment where all is quiet, and only the lush fall of wings breaks the silence. Their talons are made to dig deep, and they do. Small chunks of rock splinter off my shoulders like glass and if I could bleed I would be. The missing pieces burn like raw nerves. At least I know they can’t take stone Underground.

Salem glows a little in the fog down below. The Vulture’s wingspan can’t quite drown him out. His brightness is good, they’ll have trouble pulling him down with the energy he’s got. It buys me time. Salem flails, all fists and elbows, as if his suggestions of arms will make a dent in a Vulture. They won’t. His visage flickers like it’s not getting a signal, and I know it’s the pull of the Underground already stealing the tiny bits of his soul.

I look back to the church. Derik watches, and I know this is my test. Salem hangs in the balance. My skin still burns where his own brushed it.

This Vulture that holds me has made a mistake. They never grab us, mostly because we’re heavy but also because we bite. There’s something like venom in us, but we have to be strategic about it. My eyes pan below me, and the Vulture wheels for a crop of trees just as Salem reaches the church. He’ll be safe in there, but much less on the other side. Even if he sprints to the Gate, he’s an easy target if I don’t get out of the sky to cover him.

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Julie’s Cimmerian Tales Book Club: Webcomic Wednesday

Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell:

I’m a big webcomic reader, so I thought I would discuss one of my favorite webcomics, Gunnerkrigg Court, this week.

This award-winning comic follows the adventures of Antimony (Annie) Carver, a 13-year-old girl who has just begun attending school at Gunnerkrigg Court. The court is full of monsters (including a friendly ghost named Mort and a Minotaur) and mysteries. Annie befriends Kat, another student her age, and the two of them begin to explore the court and search for answers about its inhabitants and its purpose. Some of their adventures include infiltrating the headquarters of the court robots to retrieve a CPU, falling in love with a boy who becomes a bird, meeting creatures from Gillitie Wood (where students are forbidden to enter), and investigating the death of a woman named Jeanne.

If you’re into fantasy creatures, folklore (especially that of the British Isles), robots, science, and talking wolves, this comic is for you. Most of the chapters are episodic and can be read alone, but I recommend starting from the beginning to get the full complexity of the story arcs. Tom Siddell, the comic’s creator, does a great job of fleshing out a varied cast of characters that includes adults and children, fairies, demigods, and other magical creatures. He also sneaks in fun pop culture references here and there, and his sense of humor is understated but spot-on. (If you’re a new reader, don’t miss the comments he includes at the bottom of every comic page.)

Jump in on page 1 here. Tom’s style has evolved quite a lot over the course of the comic (it was launched in 2005). It continues to update Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.