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Posts Tagged ‘Books’

III. Pretentiousness (PRIDE)

calvin-and-hobbes-the-purpose-of-writing

Ambiguity in writing; seems counterintuitive doesn’t it? Writing so much to say so little, hiding meaning in vagueness and sneering at those who can’t see it… if it’s even there. How much more impressive I find it when so much is said in few words!

So, what’s the point of this post, to which you’re about to commit five minutes of reading between all sorts of lines and not-so-witty remarks in order to decipher it. And after I’ve put so much effort in turning my words into obscure references to their meaning! How very inconsiderate of you. You’d like to pick my words apart and discover that there is little more rational thought than a house fly, that my reasoning is no more than needless sophistry (as you can tell I have a very broad vocabulary, unlike most writers I presume).

Well, you’re going to be disappointed, I’m afraid to say, for I am about to expound a most complex and thought-provoking observation on the art of writing.

There is no cunning or subtlety of mind in writing that is derived from ambiguous intentions; there is only the mundane  — Me

Confused? Good. I can only assume by your obvious lack of understanding, and of any cognitive function for that matter, that you were unable to keep up with my thought process. Don’t feel ashamed, I am assured by my colleagues that this afflicts most readers (not that I needed to be told!) I mean, how can anyone expect to understand what is written except for the author… that just wouldn’t make proper sense now would it?

What I meant to say is that you shouldn’t rely on subtlety to help gloss over what you can’t put into words, nor to make yourself appear talented or intelligent. If anything, it makes you boring, stale, and, unfortunately, just like the rest of us (and by “us” I mean you lot of course, didn’t want to single any one out!) Being long-winded is tedious; being long-winded with nothing to say is infuriating.

What? Why didn’t I just say so to begin with? Why, then we wouldn’t have had this inspiring conversation! Because I’m sure you’re inspired to read the rest of my blog now that you know exactly what to expect: a candid observation of my human condition.

7 Sins of Writing (Part II)

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Silver Lining

I was asked the other day, “What would you rather be as a writer: The best of the worst or the worst of the best?”

Well if you’re the best of a bad lot, you don’t have very high expectations to meet, but their ones you’ll most likely surpass. If you’re the worst amongst your betters, you’ll always be overshadowed and discredited by comparison, but you’ll still be good enough to be successful. So which would you choose? I’m here to tell you the truth of it: you’re knee deep in shit either way. They either hate on you because you’ll never be as good as they want you to be, or they hate on you because you’re the Nickleback of writing.

So, is there a silver lining in this proverbial poop bowl? No. Well, unless writing makes you happy… that’s a silver lining right? But then, writing is kind of a love/hate relationship isn’t it? Passion and intrigue and meaning are derived from conflict in our stories, so why not in the writing that created them? Even the best of the best must have wished eternal torment on the world and everything in it because they couldn’t figure out how to make their antagonist relatable.

Which leads me to wonder: Where do the great writers keep their terrible writing? I keep my bad writing in a folder stuffed under the short leg of my wobbly writing desk. Kind of poetic isn’t it? No, not really, I just have a shitty writing desk.

What to do with all the misplaced modifiers, run-on sentences, and cliché narratives of our past? I have no clue. But don’t lose them, and don’t throw them away. Why you ask me? Is it because you’re only as bad as your last mistake? Is it because you learn more from your failures than your successes? Perhaps. Honestly, I just need a good laugh now and again… usually followed by a facepalm.

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More excerpts! This one is longer than my other posts, but if you have the time, give it a read. I’m not really happy with the first half, but I think the pace picks up quite nicely after that. Writing is rewriting!

***

They sat in tense silence as the sky settled into an evening dusk. Matt stood with his arms crossed, leaning back against the far wall of the cell. His gaze seethed in silent reproach, considering Wit who lay unconcerned on the pallet in the corner. Fae paced the length of the iron bars despite trying to keep a tight reign on her anxiety. She didn’t like being shut in; she didn’t like being trapped. She allowed Lori’s consciousness to sooth her mind, embracing a momentary calm as she let her worries drift up through the stones to be swept up by the wind. She smiled sadly as she thought of her sister trapped within her mind, as she herself was trapped within these bars. Sensing Matt’s gaze, she turned her face towards the small barred window, watching the sun slowly sink below the rooftops.

“I suppose we’re too late to meet up with Serina,” she said, keeping a steady tone.

“We’ve been held back a little,” Wit shrugged casually before Matt could say anything. “She’ll understand.”

“We wouldn’t have been help up a little if you had bothered to think things through.” Matt said harshly.

“Yes well, I didn’t really expect there to be a naked dead man, did I? Or an guild assassin for that matter, which you still owe me an explanation for,” he noted. “It was still the best course of action.”

“Except now we are thought to be murderers as well as thieves.” Matt interjected.

“Near as I can tell that alchemist’s been dead for a week at least. They’d have sent us to the gallows already if they had though we actually had anything to do with it.

“Now, I can still get us out of the cell, it’ll just require a little more finesse, that’s all. It’s already taken care of, so just sit back and I’ll have us out in no time.” He assured them with a grin.

“I just wish you would have told us earlier instead of springing it on us like that,” Fae sighed forcing herself to stand still.

“I told you that you’d have to trust me.” Wit pointed out as he sat up. “I don’t reveal all my cards until I have to.”

“This isn’t some game.” Matt said with a dangerous edge to his voice.

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Wit responded grimly, staring Matt down without flinching.

Fae sighed as she turned away from them, grasping one of the iron bars tightly. She could feel her anxiety bubbling inside and she could barely keep from hyperventilating, but she didn’t pace, even though her feet itched to be standing still. She breathed deeper and tried to calm her nerves with an old trick her sister had taught her when they were girls. Focus on a pinprick of light in your mind, and allow it to absorb your anxiety and fears, transforming them into pure white light. When the light becomes unbearably bright, let it course through your entire body. Accept the light as a part of who you are and you can control it, and your fears, as you would control your own breath.

But as she did so, Lori’s consciousness expanded as well and filled her with a seething light. She could feel sweat beading her face, her hand tightening it’s grasp around the iron bar of the cell, but it all seemed distant to her. She was floating untethered in her own mind. The calm was overwhelming; her thoughts and feelings echoing through the void until she could see the pattern of her own being. Her mind appeared to be a tranquil pool that stretched into the darkness. Ahead of her, she could see her sister lying atop the water, small ripples drifting across the surface beneath her still body. Her calm was shattered by a surge of emotion. She reached forward but Lori faded away as Fae was drawn back into herself.

“Are you alright?” Matt’s voice seemed far away at first, then the cell became real, his voice became real. She turned towards him; both Matt and Wit were starring at her concerned.

“Yes.” She managed to say letting go of the iron bar. “How much longer?”

Wit eyed her warily as he stood. “Actually, I think we’ve waited long enough.”

Despite having been searched for weapons, Wit pulled out a thin dagger and pick from the folds of his clothes. He walked over to the door of the cell and picked the old lock. He heard a soft click, carefully pushing open so that it didn’t creak.

“That was surprisingly easy,” Fae noted as they followed Wit out into the alcove.

“Old lock,” Wit shrugged walking past the door that led to the corridor where two alchemists were posted to keep watch.

He picked the lock of the next cell, which was filled mostly with crates and storage boxes. They made their way carefully to the back corner of the cell, ensuring not to knock anything over. Wit crouched down, prying a heavy stone out of the floor. There was a narrow gap dug underneath the wall.

“I dug this years ago, thought I might need it someday.”

Fae followed him through the gap, uncomfortably pushing her way through hard-packed earth. She emerged on the outer wall, crouched within a large tangle of shrubbery. Matt followed closely behind her, nearly hitting his head against the stone that hid the hole as he wriggled free.

“How is it that no one knows this is here?” he asked.

Wit was peering out at the rooftop sentries across the street. Luckily it was easy to spot their outlines against the clear evening sky.

“Like I said, the guards can’t come onto the grounds, and I don’t think they’ve ever had to use those cells other than for storage. Let’s go.”

Wit gracefully raced out of the bush, Fae and Matt close behind him. They squeezed through the metal bars, the shadows concealing them from the street patrol that stood only a little ways up the alley. Wit led them through a series of winding alleys and streets. To Fae’s surprise, they ran into few patrols and those they did encounter were easily avoided. When they turned down a deserted street Matt held out his arm to stop Fae, and Wit also slowed to a halt. They could hear drunken laughter somewhere in the night.

“Where are we going? We need to rejoin Serina,” Matt stated, emphasizing that the last we did not include Wit.

“Listen, usually they wouldn’t kick up much fuss for a couple of kids caught trespassing, but we were actually inside the Alchemist Observatory. We could have seen things, heard things; they aren’t just going to let us go. They’ll be looking for us; we need to get out of the city.”

“We can’t leave without Serina,” Fae interjected. “We’ve been avoiding the patrols so far, let’s just head back to the get her.”

“It’s not just the patrols I’m worried about.”

“What do you mean by that?” Matt asked pointedly.

“I wasn’t the only one following you earlier,” Wit admitted. “Whoever they are, they’re probably interested in why you went into an alchemical auxiliary, and what you found out.”

“Why are they following us?” Fae asked.

“Why were you following us?” Matt added, his eyes now scanning the rooftops more closely.

“I’ll tell you, but first we have to get out the city. I know a place, and I’ll get a message to your friend to meet us. Just trust me.”

“Is the place your taking us going to lead to another dungeon?” Fae asked skeptically.

Wit smiled mischievously. “I can make no promises.”

“Really not the time.” Matt said, purposefully looking around. “Where are we headed?”

“Actually, we’re almost there.” Wit lead them down the street, the sounds of laughter and drunken yells grew louder.

“They probably know we are heading out of town, but I think I managed to loose them a little ways back, so they’ll have trouble finding us now.”

They emerged in a wide and crowded street lit by lanterns that hung from the sides of the taverns and bars. As they pushed their way through the crowd, Fae caught glimpses of women dancing in the streets to entice patrons, men sipping bottles from beneath their cloaks, and playing dice on overturned crates. A man doubled over in front of her and she narrowly avoided the contents of his stomach splashing on the cobblestone.

“Keep your head down,” Matt cautioned from behind her as they walked past a couple of guards who were laughing drunkenly with a group of street merchants. Fae pulled up the hood of her cloak when they had passed, allowing her face to be obscured from the lantern light.

“Here we are,” Wit said over his shoulder, and he pushed open the door a small tavern, his voice suddenly lost as the sounds of fiddles and drunken cheers spilled into the street. The tavern was brighter than she had expected, it was easy to distinguish faces, clothing, and the glint of metal from dagger hilts. She felt gazes turn their way, even though she couldn’t really tell who was watching. Wit scanned the room, but before he could step any further a grizzled barman hobbled towards them.

“Bringin’ more trouble?” he growled loud enough to be heard above the noise. He eyed Fae, then just as quickly dismissed her. He lingered on Matt a little longer, whose face was indignantly indifferent.

“Why would you think that, Dirk?” Wit smiled grasping the man’s forearm firmly. As he slipped his hand back, he let a small pouch fall into the large man’s hand.

“Then why do I hear the city guard be looking for ye?” Dirk lowered his voice so that only they could hear.

“Aren’t they always.” Wit shook his head disparagingly. Dirk grunted.

“Only when yer make stupid mistakes. I hear they had ya begging on hands n’ knees.”

“Please Dirk,” Wit said painfully. “You shouldn’t believe everything you hear.”

“Well one of ‘em is waiting for ye. Said to tell ye he were here.” Dirk nodded behind them.

Fae looked to the back of the room and saw a lone guard sitting as he watched them intently. She hadn’t really noticed he was there until now, and she felt her heart sink at the sight of him.

“Good.” Wit clasped his hands together, his brow slightly creased with worry. “Bring over some drinks in a bit will you?”

Before Dirk could respond, he started across the tavern, picking his way through the drunken din.

“This doesn’t look good,” Fae noted as Wit approached the guard, grinning broadly.

“No. It doesn’t.” Fae jumped; she had forgotten the squat barman was still there. Now he was looking at her levelly, and she shrunk back into her hood to hide her face. Dirk grunted and turned back towards the bar, hobbling nimbly around drunken patrons.

“Come on,” Matt said, placing a hand on her shoulder. When they got to the table, Wit and the guard were talking quietly as Wit scribbled hastily on a piece of parchment, but they stopped as soon as the two sat down.

“This is a friend of mine. He’s going to help us get our things back, and he’s going to bring a letter to your friend,” he smiled, patting the man on the back.

“It’s a fine mess you’ve gotten yourselves into,” the man said simply, his plain and trusting face giving away no signs of concern.

“Yes well, you owe me one,” Wit reminded him, drumming the tabletop. “Where are those drinks?”

“Yeah, but I’ve never done anything half as stupid as this. I saw you when you were up there, you nearly wet yourself when this one had you over the edge,” he smiled.

“No need to be crude,” Wit sniffed, crossing his arms. “And I did not.”

“This may be some pitch-filled city in a field, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to take this seriously.”

“We know what it means to be have been caught inside an Alchemist Auxiliary,” Matt said gravely.

“No, I don’t think you really do,” the man said, leaning back. “You, on the other hand, have no excuse. And I’m risking more than I’m comfortable with because of it.”

“I know, I know,” Wit said rubbing the bridge of his noise. “I didn’t really expect all the company.”

“Guild business,” the man said, idly glancing at Fae for the first time since she sat down. For some reason she felt as though he had grasped much about her in that one look.

“It was very important that we get into the observatory,” Fae assured him, stopping herself from shifting her weight uncomfortably. “I’m the one who asked him to take us, I’m sorry for the trouble it’s causing you.”

“I only hope it was worth it.” He looked at her again and she couldn’t help but feel as though he were trying to figure something out. His eyes were a deep chestnut, his jaw sturdy and his features plain, almost generic. She may not have been able to pick him out of a crowd. She was relieved when Dirk hobbled over and brought them each a mug of yellowish-brown liquid. Fae could smell the yeast from where she sat and politely passed hers to Wit, who was already nearly finished his own.

“It was nothing easy, but I managed to get my hands on what they confiscated from you when you were taken. I’ll have them sent to where you’re going,” the man told them between sips.

“And where is that?” Matt asked.

“It’s a secret,” Wit said as he set down his empty mug. “But you’ll know soon enough.”

“Why?” Fae asked, starting to get annoyed with all the secrecy.

“Because I like secrets,” he said. “And it will be easier to get you there if you don’t know where there is.”

“That doesn’t make much sense.”

“No not really,” he grinned. “Alright, my friend. Here is the letter I need you to deliver. She’ll be at the Evening Veil.” Wit folded the letter, and pulled a used stick of wax from his cloak, holding it to the flame. He let the wax drip onto the fold and then pressed it flat with the bottom of his mug.

That man nooded, taking the letter and slipping it under his coat. He finished his ale as he stood. “I better be going, they’ll miss me soon enough.”

As he moved to leave Wit caught his arm in a firm grasp.

“I do appreciate this,” he said seriously. “You know I wouldn’t ask.”

“I know,” the man sighed. “I guess you owe me now.” He smiled.

“Well I wouldn’t go that far.”

 

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I’ve been very busy recently, and haven’t had much time for writing. I decided I would write for 15-20 minutes before I left for work today and post whatever I came up with.

Once upon a time, there was a woman whose life was everything she wanted it to be. She traveled the world and wrote things down. Things she saw, things she heard, things she thought, and things she dreamed. Sometimes people read the things she wrote, sometimes they didn’t. Some people loved her, more people disliked her, and most people didn’t even know her name. It didn’t matter to her though; all that mattered was that she wrote down stories and someone read them. One day she couldn’t think of anything to write. She had written every word she knew. So she created new words. But no one else knew how to read them or what they meant or even what they sounded like. She tried to teach them, but she’d forgotten how to speak in the words they understood. So she continued to travel and write stories that no one would ever read. It didn’t matter to her though; all that mattered was that she wrote them down.

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Ask a general question. Each response, or lack there of, will affect the next line of text. Don’t really think too long about what to say, let the responses be spontaneous. Typically this kind of free writing exercise is used to get you to write your own thoughts on the page without relying on things like story outlines or character summaries, but more on the immediate thought process. Mine usually end up in a long character monologue or an overly contemplative passage on life, but at least it gets me writing, and sometimes really interesting thoughts occur naturally.

It’s funny; I had envisioned the characters from a particular television series while writing this. I left out their names or any description of tonality, movement, or appearance to see if the inflections were inherent enough to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. It would be a peculiar conversation for them to have though…

Who do you think they are? Feel free to leave your answers/guesses in the comments!

***

What are you doing?

Reorganizing my books.

Why?

Not sure. Something different I suppose.

So what? Now it’s going alphabetically, or by how many syllables are in the title or something?

No. Just whatever size provides a suitable structure for stacking.

Oh, so you’re just doing this for no apparent reason then?

Well, as I stare at these quite often while I’m thinking, sometimes it’s nice to see something different, but, at the same time, the same.

Ah. And why do you stare at them?

I stare at them because it’s like having a window to the people who created them. You recall what you felt while reading them, or remember interesting facets of their stories. All of this you glean in an instant. It’s like looking at a reflection of yourself. You see, behind every faded book, the threads of your life. How this book came to you, how it changed you. You think of how each one just simply couldn’t be replaced. There’s always a reason why people keep a certain book, and suddenly, you can see who they really are.

So all this? All this is who you are?

Only to those who can see it.

Chaos

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In my writing, it’s rare for me to complete something that I’ve started. It’s like I’m unable to just sit down and see my story to the end, an inherent predisposition perhaps, a latent defense mechanism? A way of protecting myself from some pre-envisioned failure or inadequacy. Things have changed in the past few days to make me see otherwise.

I’ve recently posted a short story I submitted to an acclaimed writing workshop in Seattle; the opportunity would be life changing. Let me preface this by saying I didn’t get in, and yes, it was horribly devastating. But I mentioned in my last post that even if I didn’t get into the workshop, the experience of actually writing an end to a story was quite revelatory. I always thought I was afraid of how my work would stand up once it was done. On some level, all writers are anxious about this, and I’ve realized that it’s not the entire reason we leave things unfinished. So many of my stories, and my characters, have been with me my entire life. I’ve been writing them for years, and I’m not sure how I would feel if I were to be finished with them. I think I would feel very strange, like a part of myself was missing.

  There comes a moment where you just have to leave it behind and move to the next thing…but you do it really happy. Because whatever you leave behind you has taken on a life of its own

–Neil Gaiman

I’ve spent the better part of my time daydreaming about moving to Seattle for the workshop, and now that it’s not going to happen, I’m more sure than ever that something has to change. It’s time to try and finish things, so that others can finally begin.

 

Sherlock

 

 

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The final part of my short story, please leave feedback! Being someone who often starts stories but never seems to get around to finishing them before moving on, it’s extremely satisfying to finally write an ending. Even if I don’t get into the workshop, this experience has been an absolute revelation.

Who would have thought that all it takes to end a story is to just keep writing it until it’s done…

Links to the first, second, and third parts.

***

old key

Aeon’s eye swept the room. The cellar was narrow and dank, and the rafters were covered in dusty webs. Thin streams of sunlight filtered through the dirty windows, giving the room an eerie glow.

“There, in that corner,” he said finally, a hard lump catching in his throat. The back of the cellar was enveloped in a thick blackness; he could barely see the outline of the small cubby door. He shivered as Aeon stepped forward, palming the old key from inside his sleeve. He remembered a scared and lonely boy, forced to sit beneath a canopy of crawling things that would skitter across the floor, the ceiling, his arms. He instinctively pulled back, and Aeon’s step faltered.

“What are you doing?” he hissed, unable to move.

“It’s not me,” the man realized, trying to push forward.

If possible, the darkness thickened even more, going from something resembling a woman to a defined silhouette. The woman who stepped from the shadow resembled the thing they had left out in the hall; the same soft features, the same heart shaped lips, except this time, she looked undeniably human. Aeon clenched his fists when he noticed the silver pendant around her neck.

“If you think I’ll fall for that again–“ he began indignantly.

The woman placed her cool hand on his face, her dark brown eyes looking deeply into his own.

“No tricks, Aeon,” she said softly, in a voice that echoed with sadness. “I’ve made my choices, and so have you.”

“You betrayed me,” he said spitefully, yet with a hint of remorse.

“And you betrayed your family for me,” she responded simply, letting her hand fall from his face. “Perhaps it is time we both repent.”

Aeon gave a dry laugh, smiling maliciously.

“Is that what you’re after Mazelia? An apology? How pitifully mundane.”

The woman’s lips tightened to a thin line, her eyes becoming sunken and dark.

“That mortal wretch tried to cast us all into an abyss. She deemed to think she was above you, above us all!” Her eyes were burning coals, her voice searing.

“That may be,” Aeon said feeling movement returning to his limbs–her concentration was slipping. “But it wasn’t up to you to pass such judgment on her.”

“Believe me, brother,” the woman sneered. “I was merciful.”

“And believe me, sister.” Aeon’s arm shot out, grabbing the woman by the throat in a tight grip. “I won’t be.”

The woman struggled, her eyes growing wide as he tightened his fingers around her airway.

“I may not have my body back, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost all of my power. Remember, I’m still older than you, sister.”

The woman’s face changed then, her rounded features becoming longer, her eyes turning a vivid electric blue that reminded the man of the ocean.

“Please,” she pleaded to him, her eyes searching Aeon’s for a sign of the man within. “I can help you remember her, she’s still there, inside your mind. I can bring her back to you!”

He recognized this woman’s face, recognized her serene gaze, the way her lips parted as she spoke, he could almost reach her.

“Enough of this.”

Aeon flipped a jagged piece of metal from the ground into his free hand with his boot, and threw it like a spear without even looking. There was a groan, and suddenly Sam and Felyse appeared as though from thin air. Sam crumpled to the ground, his hands cupping the wound in his stomach as Felyse starred transfixed in horror.

“Lucky shot,” he grinned, and Felyse lowered her eyes. Maz’ face was now her own, and she struggled to pry her brother’s hand from her throat. Aeon tightened his grip even further.

“Wait!” he called, reaching out to stop him. For a brief moment, he could feel his hand around Maz’ pale neck; he released his grip and back away. Then, he felt himself being pulled out of his body once more.

“What are you doing?” Aeon demanded.

“Don’t you even realize what my brother has done to you?” Maz said as she rubbed her throat. “Did you think he had no choice in using your body?”

Aeon growled, pulling his arm as though struggling against invisible strings.

“What is she talking about?” he demanded as he fought to keep Aeon still.

“I needed to ensure I’d get my body back,” he said tightly, regaining some composure. “Once I retrieved my watch, I had some access to my old self.”

“So you’ve been holding me prisoner in my own mind?!”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Aeon said placidly. “I need my body to restore you to the physical plane, remember?”

At that, Maz grinned maliciously.

“I see, so a pact to save your life. What were you, on your deathbed? He probably put you there himself so he could use you,” she laughed. Aeon was silent.

“You didn’t…” he started in disbelief.

“Not exactly,” Aeon thought, opting not to speak aloud.

“He may have some of his power back, but he’s weak now. You need only take back what’s yours,” Maz urged, still wary of approaching.

“I’d explain, but I really don’t see the point,” Aeon thought firmly. “My situation hasn’t changed and neither has yours.”

He didn’t say anything for a moment.

“Did you really love her?” he asked finally, realizing he had nothing else to say. Aeon didn’t answer, but the man knew that even if he had, he didn’t love her anymore.

Aeon arched his back in pain, his fingers contorting under the strain.

“You fool,” he said through gritted teeth. “You’ll never¬–” And then he was alone in his mind once more.

It took him a moment to get used to the feel of his body, the silence of his own mind.

“My brother?” Maz asked skeptically.

“Gone. For now,” he managed to say, relishing the sound of his own voice.

“And his body?”

The man produced the black key, holding it out for her to take.

“The small door. In the corner.” He motioned to it with his head. Maz stepped forward briskly, and reached out to grab the key. Deftly, the man shot out his free hand towards her ring. She caught it easily, crushing his wrist in her grasp.

“Fool me once,” she warned, her eyes burning with rage.

A bone-chilling sound broke the silence as a hand ripped through her chest from behind. He didn’t stop to think, and reached for the ring on her finger. The walls began to shift in fragments, reality being pulled between the two of them, wrenching the ground from under his feet. He fought to keep hold of the ring, focusing on the cave in the old metro station.

Suddenly the whirlwind ceased, and he opened his eyes. Maz was still starring at him, eyes wide in surprise as blood tricked from her mouth. Aeon, now in his own body, stood behind her¬¬,one hand twisting her wrist, the other sticking out the center of her chest. Aeon nodded and he dropped the ring in his bloody hand before he swiftly pulled it back through her torso. Blood sputtered from his sister’s mouth, and she lulled to the ground like a rag doll.

“How good it feels to be oneself again,” he sighed.

They were back in the cavern. Felyse was crouched next to Sam, whose blood was spreading in a pool around him. Aeon pulled out his watch, setting the ring into the front mechanism. It sunk into the metal as though it should always have fit there, turning like a gear against the other dials. He then picked up the old black key that was now lying on the ground. Without warning, he thrust it towards Maz’ forehead and she instinctively used her good hand to stop him. Maz’ beautiful features were contorted in pain and fear as she used every once of strength to hold the key away from her head; Aeon’s face had no emotion at all.

“I’m afraid to say, little sister, that I’m much stronger than you now.”

And with that, he drove the key into her forehead, which split in a bright seam of light. She screamed, the kind of scream that far exceeded physical pain. The man imagined it was as though her mind were being torn apart, and he cringed as Aeon pushed the key deeper. Then, he turned the key like it was in a lock, and there was a blood-wrenching click. Maz fell to the ground with a thud; her eyes reflected nothing at all. Aeon straightened, wiping the blood from his hand on a handkerchief he pulled from his jacket.

“What did you do to her?” The man asked.

“The opposite of what she did to me I suppose,” Aeon shrugged. “She never did know what she was capable of.” Aeon slid the watch into his breast pocket, his sister’s ring still fused with its mechanism. “She’s trapped within her own mind now. Able to think and comprehend, but not able to move or speak or really do anything other then just exist.” He looked down at her limp body.

“She never understood that we were always two halves of one whole; Time and Space. I just happened to be a little older,” he grinned as though it were a great joke. Sam coughed in the corner, and Aeon turned to face his fallen brother.

“For what it’s worth,” Sam muttered, the life leaving his voice. “I’m sorry for the part I played in what happened to Evelyn.” Felyse utter a small sob as she held Sam’s hand in hers.

“It’s worth nothing,” Aeon said grimly, and Sam nodded¬¬–then he didn’t move at all. Aeon moved towards his youngest sister, who found the strength to stand before him.

“If they are to blame, then so am I,” she said holding back tears.

Aeon didn’t say a word, and drew a silver dollar from thin air.

“We’ll flip for it,” he said.

“But I–” However Aeon had already tossed the coin in the air.

“Heads,” he called emotionlessly, as it twirled above them.

The coin landed perfectly on the back of his hand. Aeon glanced down, but Felyse lowered her head as if she already knew the outcome. Aeon pocketed the coin and walked towards the staircase in silence. Felyse looked up questioningly, opening her mouth to speak.

“You’re lucky you’re my favorite,” Aeon said as he reached the first step. Then he was gone, swallowed by the shadows on the stairway. The man looked back at the little girl, standing with her brother and sister motionless at her feet. He lowered his head, in sympathy he thought, and followed Aeon to the street above.

The night air was brisk, but he still couldn’t feel a thing. The sky was beginning to grow lighter, the stars receding with the night.

“You used me,” he said to Aeon who was standing next to him, twirling a silver pendant between his fingers.

“Yes,” he admitted with a shrug. “You knew that by the end of it, and you helped me anyways. A good choice.”

The man barked a laugh. This guy was a total prick.

“You know, I didn’t remember her name in the end,” he said. “That woman your sister pretended to be, the one I think I loved. I can’t really remember anything from my old life, only bits and pieces. I guess I have you to thank for that.” He looked across the street to where he had sat for the past decades. “I guess I couldn’t be mad at you for something I didn’t even remember having… or losing. None of that matters now,” he sighed. “Time kind of puts things in perspective.”

“It most certainly does,” Aeon said. The pendant was suddenly gone, vanished amidst the swirling snow. The two stood there for a moment, but it seemed to him as though they stood there forever.

“What now?” He asked finally, looking over at the man who had taken everything from him.

“Now?” Aeon’s voice sounded distant. He was looking at something far off; his gaze already turned towards something the man could not see nor comprehend. “Now, you’re free to go.”

And with that the man stood alone in the street, the cold wind cutting through his coat. He shivered.

snowy night

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