Category: Exercises

Playlist: Zombie

Playlist: Zombie

Bairn entered the cage, and stood with his back straight, arms hanging down at his side, establishing his look. Across the cage his opponent laughed, pointed at Bairn, and just shook his head. It was all right. the audience didn’t know what to make of the face paint yet either, but they would.

Bairn tossed his nerves and excitement aside along with his coat, and focused on the man he’d be facing. The match was all that mattered now. He had to make his name on the back of this opponent, and it had to be a definitive win. He couldn’t afford to lose couldn’t afford to care.

If he couldn’t do what was needed now, he’d never make it. He waited for the bell to ring, and prepared to take a life.

Reflections

Reflections

The castle settles down to sleep and the barrier between the worlds is touched by every dreamer. They offer their minds as bridges, stick-thin kindling we use to set fire to their fears and feed off the scraps. I remember once chasing a man through a maze of his own creation, given the form of a beast with slathering jaws and paws as big as his head. His imagination was lacking, but his terror was masterful. It flowed through me like a river, giving depth to the shadow of my form, clarity and focus as I grew in strength. It was as close to physical as the ethereal can grow. When his heart gave out and his presence vanished, I mourned the loss of what I thought would be the most fulfilling chase I would ever know. I thought that was nourishment, true and whole.

I was not aware that in our realm, fear is as much shadow as we are. It is a reflection, limited by the lack of physical form, and even at the most exquisite peak, it cannot match the sustenance, the substance, of simple pain.

It took reaching the other side of the barrier, stepping from reflection to source, to learn the difference. The discovery came at cost, with most of us too weak to make the journey, but it was worth it for the taste of even a scratch. That taste is just the beginning. There is no need for a chase when the greater benefit is in the capture, and moderation is of no importance after discovering you’ve existed on water for a millennia, when on the other side burst forth wine at the slightest urging.

If you had your way, Desian, we’d never taste anything other than water. I understand your reluctance, but we cannot both have what we need.

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Playlist: You’re So Real

Playlist: You’re So Real

It was an illusion. D had worked hard to create it, but there was no substance behind the act. At least, that was what everyone kept telling them. Liev wasn’t so sure anymore. Maybe back at the start, he’d bought into it, but that was part of the scam, wasn’t it?

Layers upon layers of misdirection, the tools of the trade for magicians and con artists alike. He knew which D was, but even a con was a person underneath it all. The trick was knowing when you’d reached them.

He wanted to believe this was it, wanted to believe they’d touched the core. Everyone was calling him an idiot, having an easier time of it than when they called Tomas the same, but he wasn’t so sure. After all, if they hadn’t managed to reach D at last, there wouldn’t have been a need to pull a running.

But here they were, empty guest room like a kick in guts, and the knowledge that they’d reached the real person underneath absolutely no comfort at all.

Playlist/Bingo: Xanadu

Playlist/Bingo: Xanadu

He tried not to carry forth keepsakes. He was already burdened down by memories, he didn’t need the extra weight. It didn’t take long to realize it would be wise to hold onto a few things, however, and then it was hard to keep from tucking away things of less value. He hadn’t even pretended to believe things like the broken pottery would appreciate in value, but the future always surprised him.

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Playlist/Bingo: War on Drugs

Playlist/Bingo: War on Drugs

There were times I understood his choice. When I left another home, ran another time. When all I could see in my future was the freezer and wanted any fate but that.

Mostly, though, I remembered how broken our mother’s eyes were when I finally made it home. I remembered how everything he’d built was shattered with the bullet. I remembered how it didn’t stop the company from taking what it wanted.

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Playlist/Bingo: Vox

Playlist/Bingo: Vox

He read their past, spun as fantasy and published for children. Part of him wanted to hold it against Bea, but he’d been closer to her than the others and would forgive her almost anything. It wasn’t like there was a danger, not really, in her sharing the story. It just… hurt.

All they had done and all they had lost, spread across the pages. All he had lost.

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Playlist/Bingo: Unloved

Playlist/Bingo: Unloved

I thought, when I got into this, that I’d be telling the stories of those more lost than myself. It never seemed like a big thing, certainly not “of utmost importance” as my father would put it. Just an honest thing. After so many years racking muck for the sake of a byline and a paycheck, that seemed like enough.

Every face has a story, but every city has its secrets. The second is often connected to the first. We may not think, in our ever connected and thoroughly documented world, that there is anything left in the shadows, but if that were true, no one would ever disappear into them. All mysteries would be solved and all families able to mourn.

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Playlist/Bingo: Too Close

Playlist/Bingo: Too Close

It’s a cliché, but it’s still true: attachments are dangerous. I’ve done better than the other by using it as my guiding principle. Don’t set roots, keep moving, stay casual. But that’s a fucking lonely way to exist, especially when you’re on the outside looking in one what you want more than anything.

Never knew how much worse it’d be to get invited in.

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Playlist/Bingo: Some Nights

Playlist/Bingo: Some Nights

His life is predictable cycles. He’ll find the world impossibly young, knowing it’s only because he’s impossibly old, and take himself away from it, as though space lessens the need and time is anything but an enemy.

He counts, during these times, all the things it has taken from him, from the specifics of home and family to the generalities of language and culture. He uses them to keep himself apart, but it’s a battle he can’t win and the losses pileup until they almost crush the life out of him. Almost, but never completely. When wishing they could, wishing they would, becomes too strong, he has to close the distance just to keep from going mad.

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