Thursday, December 31, 2015

Note to Newcomers

The Nate and Seth series is a continuing story that includes challenge prompts. To read them in chronological order, click on the Nate and Seth Series page and follow the links. I hope you enjoy!

ETA: The story is now complete, so if you've been waiting for us to finish, we have.

Update: The boys were apparently not done with us, nor we with them, so there's a new chapter and tab: Nate and Seth vol. 2

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Flirting with Disaster

The plan came together in increments during a night drinking his favorite whiskey in his least favorite place. Sure, he’d needed time to recover from being possessed and slaughtering a colony of zombies, but since one of those had been a replica of my mother, and I’d processed that as best one might, he had no excuse for not returning my calls.

I packed my car, then followed the compass-shaped scar on my arm that unerringly points to my estranged brother. I found him in a pastry shop in some backwater town.

Not surprisingly, Nate wasn’t excited to see me

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Apostate

They thought that by giving me
Time out in a naked room
I would emerge contrite
Obedient
Shamed
Under the gaze of a saint.

The quiet space
Lit with images of grace
Gave me strength
Purpose
Determination
To see the world not as instructed
But in the way I was meant to
Beautiful
Somber
Complex.

Years later,
The sacred walls crumbling,
I came to remember
And took the window with me
When I left.



Friday, October 24, 2014

The Mark of a Good Editor

I kept my gaze locked with his. Damned if I’d back down when they needed me more than I needed them. His infinitesimal nod was both concession and slight.

“Belial tells me you need no coddling.” His voice like the flat of a razor, smoothing,  with threat implied.

“Don’t try to run me. God himself couldn’t manage it, much less his test-case creations.”

“Oh child, the things we deleted to preserve His preferred story are legion. But fear not, I’m a hands-off demon. I point, you kill, and we’ll get along famously.”

Truth without solace. I could work with that.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dance with the Devil

The gown supplied was a froth of silk, held together with filigree that showed enough flesh I’d forgone foundations. Our bargain precluded complaint. The male guests surely had none.

“I hate everyone here,” I murmured.

My angelic handler propelled me forward. “You hate everyone everywhere.”

“You most.”

“Yet you made the bargain.” Belial handed me pills, staples for my pretense of courage.

I swallowed them, then went to meet the lord of demons, pulled like a star toward a black hole.

He surveyed me. “Yes, I think you’ll do nicely.”

“Never nicely.”

His laugh caused lacerations. “No, not at all.”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dangling

The cord strained my arms, back, legs. Even the boulder bracing me groaned as I pulled. Don’t let go. Don’t let go.

“Let go,” a bittersweet plea. Liam had never believed in my strength. Even now, he doubted my resolve.

I tugged harder. He scrabbled for purchase, hindered by slick stone, ice forming in crevices, pebbling on my skin, turning fingers brittle.

The rope slipped. Liam’s gasp echoed off the canyon wall. Woven length wrapped around my hand, cutting off feeling, I turned around and heaved.

He scrambled over the top, tears frozen.

“Next time, wear the goddamned safety harness.”

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fresh Start

Do as you’re taught.
Do as you’re told.
Don’t look too hard
at the things that you hold.

Mind the condition
of soft oiled hide.
Keep sticky fingers
apart and aside.

These things we carry
are precious and few.
The ashes behind us,
ahead all is new;
no one will speak of
the deeds that were done
to you, me, and mama
under guise of ‘just fun’.

But I will remember
weak morning light,
soft squish of footprints,
remainders of night,
and chunky cold meat
that littered the floor
as we tanned him, left him,
and closed the back door.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Painted A Lady

Cleaned up, brushed out, laced tight, I finally looked like someone of value. I questioned why the angel would care, since he could see my shattered soul.

“I prefer a veneer of sanity when I present my finds.”

I was as much a whore as if he’d laid me down – which he threatened to do whenever I balked at his sartorial selections. I held out against heels. My paranoia prefers sneakers. I accepted flats.

“Who am I meeting?” I didn’t care.

“Satan.”

“I thought he was asleep.”

“No, Lucifer sleeps. Satan is far less kind.”

Suddenly, I cared very much.

Damned blessing

Angel-boy couldn’t convert me with his promises of luxury and glamor. A pampered slave is still a slave, and I had enough things trying to control my life. Drugs, booze, sex: I had no qualms about doing too much, often simultaneously.

He didn’t mind my tendency to sin – liked it, in fact – but he detailed exactly what I’d done to my body in an attempt to escape its confines. There was no simplistic suggestion of rehab from heaven’s pretty demon. Instead, he offered what I wanted most: infinite capacity to recover.

It was a sucker deal, but I took it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Right Tool for the Job

His elegant fingers reached for me. Behind him, the shadow of decaying wings, a bullshit trick; earth-bound angels can’t fly. No means of escape, I suffered his touch. His resultant smile set fire to places I wish I didn’t have. When I say you shouldn’t fuck with angels, I mean it.

“Just kill me,” I begged. “Whatever you want me to do, I’m gonna screw it up. Maybe on purpose. Your observers should’ve reported my predilections.”

“Indeed. I hope to see you indulge them all, and then some.”

“Why?”

His smile left me raw. “Because daughter, it will waken Lucifer.”

Traditions

Marla stirred methodically, humming a lullaby familiar as my own name. I picked seeds from piles of pungent leaves, making a pyramid of possibility on splattered harvesting canvas. The kitchen smelled as it always had on brewing days: sweat, herbs, roses, and the stink of clarifying fat.

Marla sang with the same cadence as grandma had. Mama had skipped out on this part of her duty. On us, too.

I joined Marla, my fists filled with crushing green sweetness. “Told you Charlie Wright was good for something.”

“Bones woulda been optimal,” Marla said. “Still, it’s gonna be a fine gravy.”

Apostate

Stitches for the bigger lines
vining pink now that the blossoms
have been washed off,
running brown down the drain to disappear
in streams of crusted lifesblood,
promising scars much deeper
than a knife could go.

Plasters over nicks and scrapes,
mere reminders of the feel –
his hands on my nape, hers on my back
where welts now fade
to mottled yellow with a purple center,
another flower for the flower of my youth
crushed callously under heel
because I would not.

They call me heretic
when my only sin
was hearing the voice
of a god not their own.

You Get What You Pay For

When the city came down, flight was not an option, literal or figurative. We were cut off from the world, our own forever changed, no idea who survived or where.

We weren’t taken down by the strife of nations fighting over god and territory – never asking approval from the people who suffered and died – nor a “rogue operative” with a dirty bomb.

We did it ourselves, too busy focusing on sucking all the resources from the earth to notice the cracks – in society, the ice, the flatlands.

Seas rising, land trembling, our only prayers now are for a merciful end.

Outskirts

Peggy and I were mismatched as a pair of girls could be, she willowy, me a human fireplug. Ignoring snickering boys, frowning biddies, suspicious parents, she was my world and I hers.

The penalty for what we planned was beyond reckoning, but we had to get away. The woods whispered of a different world. We’d heard of its horrors our whole lives.

Dauntless, we climbed the wall and found it all true. Woodland people are savage, ruthless, cunning. Fighting every step, we learned first how to live, then thrive.

Civilization is a false façade for slavery. We will never return.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cold Comforts


Kaia leaned against the bar, dark eyes trained on me. Calling her had been foolish, but she’d come without demanding recompense.

“So, of the many things you wish you hadn’t done, which ranks higher: killing your father, not ensuring he was truly dead, or introducing me to your brother?”

“Hard call. Snuffing out that thing that claimed to spawn me? Pretty satisfying.”

“He impregnated your mother. Lying to yourself about it solves nothing.”

I ignored that. Denial was my second favorite drug. “I can’t regret leaving him buried in the woods. Nate was dying. Well, had died and then not.” My life defied simple explanations.

“That leaves me.” Kaia smiled, white teeth too sharp to be human. “If you hadn’t been bleeding profusely, I believe you’d have tried to stop me from kissing your brother.”

Bourbon provided an excuse for silence.

She patted my arm. “When last we parted, his heartbeat was strong and very, very fast.”

I didn’t want to think about the implications of Nate having sought the company of a Fury, much less what they’d done. “And his soul?”

“Tainted, but intact. Trust me, if I come after one of you, I’ll be coming for both. Your sins are too intertwined to untangle.” She leaned over and kissed my cheek. “Stay on the light side, Seth. I can always find you.”

She stepped through the door, unfurled black wings, and disappeared.

I dialed Nate’s number, sighed, then closed my phone. He’d contact me when he was ready.

Anniversary



Falling in layers, falling apart, rotting silk conveys in scent the enormity of what I’ve lost. One day. One happy day. Maybe a week. Two? Not a whole month. Never a year.

He loved me. I remember that. It was his undoing.

She was ruthless, his ex. Never laid a hand on us. Never showed her face. Just systematically destroyed his reputation, his credit, his faith. Then he started looking sideways at me.

Watery sunlight strikes remnants of a gown that was to herald a new chapter. It did that, if not as intended. He hanged himself with my veil.

Six of One

“Last bible thumper tried to save me got a blowjob. One before that got a punch in the face. Which you in the market for?”

Posh, twitchy, disdainful of my riot of curls, torn jeans, and bruises, the woman held her ground. “I represent someone with a proposal for you.”

“Blowjob it is.”

She sniffed. “He is above such things.”

I snorted. “No man is.”

“He is not… like others.” Truth, if tissue-thin.

He emerged from the limo, shining like a god, smirking like the devil.

“Shit,” I whispered. “Another fucking angel.”

“It is time, daughter.”

They’d finally caught me.

Homecoming

Thomas left his card, as a gentleman should, on the silver tray. Neither his name nor face caused spark of recognition in the butler, who withdrew silently. The only visitor to Pennsfield since armistice stared at the sparse décor, pretending he did not feel the mold slowly eating at the manor and everyone in it.

Eliza emerged, widow’s weeds exchanged for dove gray, better to hide the lack of quality. She looked at the visitor with a sad longing, her smile a memory.

“Liza, love, can you not greet your husband?”

She sighed. “Not until you admit you’re dead, Tommy.”