#1626

[ The video opens on a smiling Mage seated in a computer chair, her feet propped up on the desk in front of her, fingers steepled beneath her chin. She sits too close to the computer screen for much of the dark room behind her to be glimpsed, but the shadowed items resemble the expected; weapons, armor, occult objects, and monsters that may or may not really be there. ]

MAGE:

Hello, friends. (wiggling fingers at the screen in greeting) You are, I expect, surprised to see me here. It’s true I usually favor more…indirect… means of communication, but this seems best for the task at hand. You see, (frowning) I believe there have been some misconceptions as to my motives in our past interactions, though I of course (placing hand on heart) take all the blame for the confusion.

(lowers legs and leans closer to the screen)

It’s not that we aren’t friends, or that I don’t like you. I do, really. You’re good people, even if you do have awful taste in music. It’s just… (gesturing vaguely at the computer screen) all this? It’s not tenable. I mean, Peter Pan, really? Is that really the fairy tale you want to emulate? The one with the gang of emotionally-stunted anarchist children lead by a predator who brainwashes kids into leaving their loving families to go die for the sake of his personal vendetta?

(mouths “wow” with clear skepticism, then sighs abruptly and gives the screen a sympathetic look)

Look, I get it. I had family problems too. Mother out of the picture, father who just didn’t understand me… it’s practically a cliche. But do you see me whining about how I never got a real childhood and was thrown out into the cold, harsh wilderness to fend for myself? No, (jabbing her finger at the screen) because I’m not a pussy. I didn’t wallow in misfortune, I used it to my advantage! I struck out on my own and made something of myself. A pretty impressive something, too (pointing with both hands to her body appreciatively). So don’t think I don’t understand. I’ve been there, too. I’m not doing this because I hate you. I’m doing this because, well…

(shrugs and throws up her hands as if helpless)

Your little fantasy world has to be destroyed. It’s nothing personal, that’s just the way things are. (waves hand at the computer screen, shaking her head) This world full of fairy dust and fireworks and free hugs and shit, it can’t be allowed to remain. (pointing offscreen) There’s a real world out there that you have to face one day, one full of concrete and pain and growing up–

(smiles widely)

–and I’ve been chosen to show you that world. To plunge you kicking and screaming into it, if I have to. But no hard feelings, right? After all, every story has to have a villain. Aren’t you lucky I’m yours?

[ Mage winks and leans forward to switch off the webcam. The video ends. ]

#1621

I think I like you, little warrior, with your fierce eyes and eager mouth, your callouses and tumbling locks. You have the heart of a wolf, the pack hunter determined to serve its role, defend its alpha. You have the mind of a swordsman, always on the alert for danger, ready to protect the beloved. You make love like an acolyte in the presence of her god, a knight pledging to his king. I could see you on board my ship, sailing the dark seas alongside myself and my godcrew. I could see you in my chambers, burnished skin and supple curves. Yes, I think you more than worthy of Us, to have come so far so boldly. So, little warrior, little wolf, are you brave enough to sail with me?

#1606 – Summer Solstice

A living room in an apartment in a dark city of glass and steel. Battle lines drawn, Daren standing rigid on one side and Tanim the other. Interrogator and suspect.

“So what will it be?” Daren’s voice flat, arms crossed. “Have you decided?”

“Yes.” Tanim averts his eyes. Answer enough.

“You’re going to do it, aren’t you.” Daren scowls, disgust in the curl of his lip, the narrowing of his dark eyes.

“It’s complicated.” Tanim’s hands open and close at his side as if grasping for words. Daren doesn’t allow him time to find them.

“Complicated!” A short, harsh laugh. No humor in it, only mockery and pain. “Oh yes, you would say that, after the promises you made.”

Tanim, head flying up, “I never promised–”

“Please.” Daren’s hand cuts the air between them. “Lying doesn’t become you, darling. If you respect me at all, you’ll at least forgo deception.”

“…fine.” Tanim’s shoulders slump, eyes turn away again. “I was wrong, and for that I am sorry. I thought we could fight this. I thought we could change the ending. But we can’t.” A glance up, beseeching, hopeful of understanding if not acceptance. “It’s a cycle, we both know that. It’s necessary–”

Don’t tell me she made you do it!” Daren’s voice louder than ever before, teeth bared and finger pointed in accusation.

“What else would you have me do?” Anger now in Tanim’s raised voice as well, an animal backed into a corner.

“I would have you choose me!” A step forward, snarling, all threat in the lithe form. “Or at least own your sin, you coward!”

Chaos, then. One lashes out first, or maybe the other. Fists falling, fingers clawing at flesh, raking eyes, brawn versus speed. Then the slim little blade, always somewhere on his person, and Tanim leaps back with a cry of pain. Blood running down his arm, down the knife gripped in Daren’s hand. One heartbeat in between; before Tanim reaches, before the thunder. Before Daren, mouth open in silent shock, looks down to the blood stain spreading quickly across his chest.

He falls before Tanim can catch him.

Blood washes away battle lines. Tanim kneels, the gun forgotten, the argument likewise but for the glaze of rage and disappointment in Daren’s eyes. Blood on his lips, he finds energy enough to draw breath, hiss, “This was your choice and no other’s.” Another breath, shallower. “Remember that.” And a final one, a struggle but he manages. “I do not forgive you.”

#1604

Beware the universes into which you may wander, Alice Worldspanner. I have seen the possibilities of them, and they are terrifying. I have seen the Great War, all of us standing side by side for once, and I have seen every one of us fall. Wreckage of ships and bodies, spills of blood and ink. The ocean is wide enough and deep enough, and it will be our graveyard. Should you pass into this universe, who knows if you might ever step out again? Even dreamdeath fragments us, and in just the viewing I feel a new absence in myself. Beware, explorer. Beware, seeker. Some doors should stay closed.

#1597

When I was younger, before my silence and resistance jaded the nurses’ treatment of me, they used to tell me that St. Anthony watched over me. They told me St. Anthony was the patron saint of lost things and so watched over all of us there, that we may one day find what we were looking for; health, sanity, family, hope, even the peace of the beyond. They said that every day, smiling as they handed out little paper cups full of pills: May St. Anthony protect you. May St. Anthony guide you. May St. Anthony lead you back onto the path of goodness. They didn’t seem to sense any irony in this, in summoning the blessings of St. Anthony when no one wanted to find us anyway and none of us could leave of our own accord. We were all in some way the abandoned, the purposefully forgotten, sick in mind and spirit and body. Society didn’t want us, was embarrassed and afraid of us in turn, and so we were locked away where we’d offend no delicate sensibilities. If St. Anthony was indeed the cause of our incarceration, or at least had yet to lead any of us to our better destinies, then he had a lot of explaining to do. St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things, of lost people, of lost minds. St. Anthony, patron saint of the lost and never found.

#1596

It’s a lie to say that monsters, real monsters, don’t exist. After all, you don’t have to change into a werewolf at the full moon to be ruled by your animal instinct, to become a beast of uncontrollable hunger and lust. It doesn’t take the bite of a cursed creature to turn you into a rabid dog; you can do that all on your own, by choice or by lack thereof. That’s the truth behind all those legends – we make our own monsters, gladly, willingly, and only after the adrenaline has calmed and the blood dried do we make up fantastic stories to exonerate ourselves. But I have partaken of that moment of madness and blood, and I know the truth. I know what I am.

#1595

my fickle gods, you will not come to me here before the blank page, the white screen, you will not come when or where I summon you but you will call to me in dream now, at your own will and whim you draw my dreamself’s consciousness into your bodies as you conjoin, as you grasp and press and grip, struggle and give and take, once you rarely visited me in dream yet now even if I am far from you in waking I am one with you in this other realm, brother-lovers entwined in the eternal dance of dominance and submission, rapture and release, and I humbled, honored to take part in this union