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.

Audrey’s No Rules Friday

I love flash fiction. It’s such a challenge to create a fleshed out piece in so few words. I’m very fond of 100 word story challenges, so I decided to share a couple here. The first one I wrote about 2 years ago and the second is new.

Love Bean

Her eyes electrocuted him. When he gazed into their murky blue-green depths, a jarring current ran through him, stopping his heart. He knew only her and the sensation of being burned from the inside out. He lived a lifetime in a brilliant flash. She held everything he had ever wanted and would ever want again: ecstasy and joy, sorrow and hope. He steeled himself against the urge to leap over the counter and pull her lips against his.

“Here’s your coffee, miss.”

A smiled flitted across her face. Turning away from him, she left behind the lingering scent of lightning.

Bean Love

Lightning never strikes twice. That’s what my mother always told me. My coffee cup rattles softly against its saucer.

“I’m so sorry, June,” sniffles Mark’s cousin Anita. I nod and put the coffee down feeling queasy.

It’s the smell. It used to remind me of the little place down on Fifth. But now? All I can see are rich grounds crumbling between my fingers, leaving their scent as they fall and scatter on a glossy black box.

He laughed and swung me into a hug when I said it’s the wrong day for golfing. My mother was wrong about lightning.

 

“You Will Hear Thunder” by Anna Akhmatova Inspires Anne

YouWillHearThunder_AnnaAkhmatovaBeing Human

The snow crunches beneath my feet, the crisp air burns my lungs with every inhale. I flip the collar of my mom’s leather jacket up against the wind and continue picking my way across the sparkling snow. Every sound makes me flinch, waiting for the danger it hides. This isn’t my season. A million beats of my heart hammer blood past my ears, but no arrows fly toward me. No Waniyetu materialize from the dark winter’s night to kidnap or kill me.

At the first sign of snow this afternoon at the Denver Botanical Gardens, I knew I’d be sneaking away from my village well after midnight. Tracing the path my family’s rental car had taken one fateful night more than forty years ago. The night I lost them all. The night I gained immortality for the pattern of freckles along my wrist.

The traffic along Colorado Boulevard is heavier than it was back then, even at nearly three in the morning. It’s far too cold tonight for foot traffic, but I stay invisible to human eyes all the same. Bright colored lights adorn the cookie-cutter houses. They shine through the layer of newly fallen snow like beacons of hope.

The year I was twelve, when mom’s leather coat trailed on the ground when I tried it on, we flew to Colorado for a skiing holiday. It had been the most exciting week of my life with bright red cheeks and huge cups of hot cocoa. The swirl of heat off the marshmallow-dotted liquid rose into the mountain air. My little sister, Lucy, and I had snowball fights and learned to ice skate. We skied on tiny pieces of wood strapped to our feet. And we were more alive in the thin air than we’d ever been before.

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“Crystallize” by Lindsey Stirling Inspires Anne

黃金比例
(The Golden Ratio)

“Jin Zhēn-Zī!” Māmā shouted from the back room over the slam of the door. “I told you not to leave the back door open.” The sharp click of the lock admonished me further.

A pristine sheaf of paper laid in front of me as empty as it was when I first sat down. The chair abraded the wood floor and banged into the wall when I got up too fast. “I’ve been working on sums all morning, Māmā! I haven’t left my desk.” Only the second part was true.

Harsh afternoon light streamed through the shop’s front windows. It bounced off the metal hangers holding the repaired garments along one wall. Bolts of fabric were stacked on tables and piled along the other wall. The new embroidered silk tunics were displayed in the very front, the price tags discreetly hidden in the sleeves. The back room stood dark where the sunlight couldn’t penetrate, the silhouette of my mother blended perfectly into the shadows.

When she appeared — her eyes opened wide like an owl and her mouth a tense slash across her face — all the muscles tightened along my body. Another figure moved behind her, materializing into a man holding a long silver blade in gloved hands against the base of her skull. The brush dropped from my hand, splattering black ink all over the polished wooden floor.

“What happened?” I said, my voice croaked against my tongue. I swallowed and tried again. “Māmā, are you okay?”

She kept her hands outstretched above her shoulders. I knew that pose and curled and readied myself for a fight.

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