“Howl” by Florence + the Machine Inspires Anne

Perigee

 We dart through nighttime waters, close to the sand ridges along the bottom. I clutch Hvrēssē’s[1] hand in mine.

In our wake, alluvium swirls up, and then drifts down to the ocean floor. A pattern will form and be washed away, form and be washed away with each wave or tail flick.

The vial of blood in my other hand flashes silver in the moonlight. The pull of land sings like a tsunami from the palm of my hand all the way to my beating heart. Hvrēssē grins at me, sharp teeth and delight. We swim faster until we feel the water around us change. It grows lighter and freer of brine. The river current ripples through our hair and over our fins.

“Almost there,” Hvrēssē says. She gulps the last of the true seawater past her gills. “Hurry.”

I admire her sense of urgency. Admire the way her pale flesh melds into the gray of her tail. The dark stripes that almost go all the way around but leave her underside gray like the stormy skies far out to sea. Like home.

My muscles burn as I try to match her powerful strokes when she dives into the fresh water. It’s warm and light. Sweet and deadly.

“Get out your knife,” I shout above the sound of the river fighting against the open sea.
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Anne’s Book Club 12

THE LAST UNICORN directed by Arthur Rankin Jr & Jules Bass (summary from IMDb.com):

TLUopeninglinesFrom a riddle-speaking butterfly, a unicorn learns that she is supposedly the last of her kind, all the others having been herded away by the Red Bull. The unicorn sets out to discover the truth behind the butterfly’s words. She is eventually joined on her quest by Schmendrick, a second-rate magician, and Molly Grue, a now middle-aged woman who dreamed all her life of seeing a unicorn. Their journey leads them far from home, all the way to the castle of King Haggard.

My thoughts on THE LAST UNICORN (1982 film):

I loved this story when I was wee, and I love it now that I’m grown. There’s something about a hero’s journey, rich characters, and the unicorn that get me every time. Plus, did I mention unicorns?

It’s no surprise that I’ve loved mythological creatures for a long time. Unicorns, flying horses, and mermaids were there in my elementary years. Werewolves absolutely terrified and delighted me in middle school. Mostly, terrified. Vampires and faeries caught my eye in high school. But unicorns and mermaids have been there since the start. (In fact, one of my published stories, La Dame à la Licorne, may have something to do with a unicorn. Just saying’.)

“There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.”
~ Schmendrick

One of the reasons I think this story translated so well from novel to screen is that the screenwriter was Peter S. Beagle, the same man who wrote the original novel. All the parts I loved in the book are represented here. Much of the dialogue is translated exactly from book to script. It runs at a little over an hour and 30 mins, which might be too long for toddlers to sit through. There’s also some violence and a swear word slips in (not in the subtitles, however. Clever!), despite the G rating. I think I was 7 or 8 the first time I watched it. Then I pretty much ruined the tape due to multiple viewings. Fortunately, the 25th anniversary DVD was released in 2007.

The movie stands up to the test of time rather well. Mostly because the story takes place in a medieval-esque world where fashions and hairstyles aren’t reflective of the year the movie was created. There’s something pure and magical about the hand-painted scenery and cell-by-cell animation. I would love to have one of the cells from this film, something we lose when the film is created with CGI. (I do own one from THE SECRET OF NIMH, which is also a childhood favorite.) The unicorn is especially well-done. She’s otherworldly, yet familiar. Her mane and tail move as she prances on spindly legs. Her eyes remain lilac, like her wood, even when she’s turned into a human. The attention to detail from the animators is amazing.

After watching the movie again last night, I’ll be singing the songs for the rest of the week.

🎶I’m alive! I’m alive!🎶

“Love Song to California” by Jen Hickman Inspires Jen

LoveSongtoCalifornia_JenHickmanQueen of Trees: an Elemental Extra

“Cameron.”

My name startles me out of concentration. The baby summer squash plant I was urging out of the soil explodes under my hands. The spring sun is multiplied tenfold under the greenhouse’s glass and sweat burns my eyes. As part of the nature facet of Elemental power, my connection with plants guarantees a plentiful summer garden as long as the plants don’t explode. Like this one. I toss the it’s shriveled root ball into the compost bin.

“Oh, sorry,” Tess says, brushing leaves off the worktable next to me and hopping up to sit. “I didn’t mean to ruin it.”

“It’s okay,” I smile over at her, “there only a hundred others.” Her booted feet swing above the ground and her hair escapes from the messy knot she’s tied it in. Tiny dark curls wisp at the back of her neck, and I want to tuck them back where they belong.

I wipe my forehead with my sleeve, wondering if I smell as dirty as I feel. She smells like rain and woods, which is like a mixture of the two of us. She’s the most talented Tempest this world has seen and she can mix a storm out of nothing. Impressive is an understatement.

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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.

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

Julie’s No Rules Friday: Curses Part II

Curses Part II

(To read Part I, go here.)

My cell mates immediately fall silent. There is one set of boot steps, the jangle of chain. They’re here to move somebody.

The ward keeps humming. I don’t know what to do. As the steps near, I settle for sitting at the back of my cell, against the wall. Keys turn in the door. It opens.

Ears stands there, legs splayed awkwardly, squinting for me in the dim. His shoulders are hunched, gangly arms hanging, trailing a length of metal links. In his right hand he grasps a wooden pole which they use to keep me at arm’s length.

I shift so he can find me in the gloom. His adam’s apple bobs.

“Are you making magic back there?” he whispers, eyeing the ward.

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“The Woodpile” by Frightened Rabbit Inspires Julie

Curses

Heavy iron thunders and I’m conscious, bit by bit and then all at once. From a corner of my stone-walled cell, the scent of burning violet flowers chokes me. My stomach curdles. I try to roll away from the corner with the incense stick, and my ribs sear with pain. Right. Beto kicked me so hard I couldn’t breathe.

At the thought of the guard captain’s name, I want to spit, but my lips are mashed. The inside of my mouth and half of my face is bloodied. With my tongue I probe the slanted edge of a front tooth. The exposed roots tingle. Guess they’re done using me for my looks.

Footfalls sound heavily at the end of the hall, and I relax my body against the crackling straw. If they think I’m waiting for them, planning something, they’ll do worse than break my ribs. Then voices banter, muted through the stone and wooden door. Shift change.

The newcomer is the basso voice, the heavyset guard with piggy eyes. Replacing the young one with the deformed ear. The one who sometimes gives me a little extra food or water. Slitting my eyes, I see he’s put rations through the slot for me. If only I can get to them before Piggy realizes I’m awake.

“What’s happening outside?” asks Ear, stopping too close to my cell. “I heard the sound of troops, horses leaving. Are we at war?” His voice cracks. continue reading ...

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“Initiator” by Tian Miao Lin Inspires Anne

Initiator_TianMiaoLinNOTICE!

This short story will be a day late and a dollar short. Please return to this space!

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For more inspiring art by Tian Miao Lin, please visit her website (http://www.wanggongxin.com/). Sculpture © Copyright, Tian Miao Lin 2004. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Stay tuned for extra content this week from Audrey. Return next Monday for Julie’s answer to this prompt.