Menace – a return to #ThursThreads

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I live!

Sort of. Like last year, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. My writing habits in general have also changed which means less will pop up here and more will happen behind the scenes. Alas, such is life when I have trouble keeping up with everything I want to do. Still, every once in a while I’ll throw something up here and today is one of those times!

But first, a few announcements.

If you haven’t read my serials yet, but you want to, now’s a good time. They’ll be coming down soon as I get their rewrites done. A Vampire’s Bride is four hand-written chapters in and Secondhand Soul is my NaNoWriMo project. These’ll be the first to go down as I try to make them something more. You’ve been warned!

Like I mentioned above, I’ve been doing some by-hand writing. This means stuff that won’t see the light of day for a long time. I think I’ve succeeded in what I set out to do when I started putting snippets up here. I’ve got work to do on the writing that exists on here, but if I keep holding myself to having to post it here, I don’t think I’ll ever get it done. Thus, you won’t be seeing much of my writing on here outside of what’s already there. I do want to eventually return to book reviews and movie/show commentary here, but that won’t be for a while.

Onto today’s piece!

Prompt: “I’m a danger.

~~~

Is it bad I enjoy the feeling of bones breaking against my fist? It’s as satisfying as stepping on a particularly crunchy leaf. I don’t tell Max that – they would disapprove, despite their support of my newfound love for vigilante justice.

I drop the latest scumbag to the cement, releasing him from the collar of his shirt. Somewhere down the alleyway, his victim’s hurried footsteps echo as she struggles to run away. She hasn’t noticed he’s no longer chasing her, but I don’t bother to let her know. Max, like always, will take care of it and make sure she’s okay. When they show up a few minutes later, it’s after they’ve seen to the younger girl. Unlike the first girls I saved, this was just a kid – no older than maybe fourteen.

Max brought her back in their arms, unconscious.

“She fainted at the end of the alleyway when she realized it was a dead end. I don’t think she saw you.”

“She didn’t.” I kicked the guy on the ground, turning him over. “She was too scared of this asshole.”

Max grimaces at the state of the man’s face. It’s hardly recognizable after I got done with it. A broken nose, some missing teeth, and eyes so swollen they were shut and would be for a long time. I couldn’t help but smile.

“You’re a menace.” But they smile, too. Never thought I’d see an angel smiling at violence.

“I’m a danger only to jerks like this one.”

~~~

And so that’s how Paola spends her time now – kicking ass and taking names.

As always, think happy thoughts!

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A conversation

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Happy Saturday!

Another brief bit today, inspired by a prompt I saw on Facebook.

Prompt:

“Who are you?”

“Demon to some. Angel to others.”

Enjoy!

~~~

“Who are you?”

“Demon to some. Angel to others.”

“And what are you to me?” I try to keep my voice steady. It’s hard when I can’t even see who I’m speaking to.

“That depends. Why are you here?” The voice suddenly comes from behind me. A chill runs down my back.

“I was told this cave grants wishes.”

“Who do you think does the granting?” There’s a smirk in the voice. My eyes are still trying to adjust, but I think I can see a shadow across the chamber. “So what would you like? Fame, fortune, love?”

“Revenge.” Even now, my anger boils deep beneath my fear.

“Very well. A demon, then.”

~~~

I have no idea where this is going but I enjoyed writing it.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Snake eyes

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Happy Friday!

This’ll be a quick one. In an effort to get myself to write, I dug through the WritingPrompts subreddit and found this guy:

You work as a volunteer at a local zoo. One day, whilst cleaning handprints of the snake enclosure, you realise one of the handprints is on the inside of the cage.

And so here’s my response!

~~~

As a kid, I always loved the zoo. I dreamed of the day I might get to work at one. In all my dreams, it never struck me that I’d be at the zoo after closing. Do you have any idea how unnerving zoos are after hours? There’s only a handful of us left this late, and in a zoo this large, I almost never see anyone else until I leave. The only thing that kept me around was the thought that they might consider hiring me after I finished my degree. Until then, I volunteered cleaning exhibits.

Of all the exhibits, the creepiest by far had to be the reptiles. As a self-professed animal lover, I acknowledge that all animals are important and beautiful, but that doesn’t stop snakes from freaking me out. There’s just something about them that gives me the heebie jeebies. So I usually left their enclosures for last. The huge emerald boa at the center of the room in particular got me every time. I always found myself having to do a little pep talk before getting close to the glass.

Today, the visitors were particularly awful. There were literal food smudges and grime on the glass. Unfortunately for me, that meant really getting in there to make sure it was spotless for the next day. After my five minute pep-talk, I approached the glass and got to work.

Once I got into it, it was almost easy to ignore the snake on the other side of the glass as it watched me work. After about an hour of scrubbing, I got stuck on a particularly stubborn hand print. Usually the hand prints were child-sized (couldn’t expect children to heed the ‘keep off the glass’ signs) but this one was a little bigger than mine. I was on it for fifteen minutes before I realized why it wasn’t coming off.

It was on the other side.

“What the hell?” People weren’t allowed in the enclosure. All the cleaning on the inside was done from above the large tank, without anyone ever actually stepping foot inside. My mind went into over-drive, picturing the worst case scenario. No longer caring about the proximity of the snake, I pressed close to the glass, trying to narrow down if it looked like someone had been in there, while pulling out my walkie-talkie. “This is Sarah. Has anyone reported someone falling into the boa tank?”

“What? No. Why?”

“There’s a hand-” The boa lunged at the glass, right where my face was. I dropped the walkie talkie as I fell on my back.

“Sarah? Sarah!”

I wanted to respond, but I couldn’t move. While I’d always felt like the animals watched me, I’d never actually seen this kind of focus in any of them. The snake almost looked like it was glaring at me. Its gaze was so intense I was frozen in place. And then the damn thing actually spoke.

“Sssshhhhh.” It would have been easy to tell myself it was a hiss. I might have been able to convince myself, too, if it didn’t start changing shape before my eyes. It pressed against the glass, stretching up to the ceiling of the tank before it started to fill out. As the body grew thicker, it developed a human silhouette. Arms formed against the torso until it pulled them away, the hands pressed against the glass. One of them went right over the handprint. Before my brain could really register what happened, there was a naked, green-tinted woman on the other side of the glass. While she looked mostly human, she still looked at me with snake eyes.

“Sarah, was it?” She drags out the letter ‘s’ as she speaks, giving her already haunting voice a creepier resonance.

“Y-Yes?”

“Be a dear and don’t tell them.” Her eyes dart to the walkie, where Jeremy is still calling my name. I scramble to grab it.

“Hey yeah, I’m fine. One of the snakes spooked me. That’s all. I’ll be done here soon.” I rushed through the words, but he didn’t question it. Everyone knew I was terrified of the snakes.

As I talked on the walkie, the snake woman walked across the enclosure to grab a large leaf. After fogging the glass with her breath, she wiped at the handprint. “My apologies. I’ll try to keep it cleaner in here.”

~~~

Snakes always creeped me out.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Broken

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Sup!

Yet again I skipped a day, but in my defense I did get writing done, just not here. This whole writing by hand thing is working out pretty nicely so far, so in the next few weeks I’ll probably be taking down A Vampire’s Bride, since that’s the one I’m working on. It’ll probably come back out as a novella, eventually.

But anyway, on to today’s writing! Today’s prompt comes from Riley Liley on Tumblr. They came up with a super long list of angst-themed prompts, and I’m going with number six.

Prompt: “I’m just a little bit broken.”

And because Paola is all about the angst right now, this prompt goes to Provisional Freedom.

~~~

I’m still stewing in my annoyance when Max shows up in our room. To their credit, they wait for me to speak before continuing to reprimand me.

“What did you do with him?”

“Made sure he wouldn’t die from his wounds, wiped his memory except for the attack, and put in an anonymous tip at the police station. Didn’t leave until he got picked up by the cops.” They sit on their side of the room, eyes cautious. “What were you thinking, Paola?”

“I wasn’t. Obviously.”

“You should have known better than to expose yourself like that. What if there was another angel nearby? Or a demon?” Despite their words, their tone is soft. Max is trying to be careful with me, but I’m having any of it.

“If you think I regret stepping in you’re out of your mind. I’d do it again. In a heartbeat.” Containing my anger gets harder by the second but I manage. “I’m sure I could take on an angel or two if I had to.”

“Do you even hear yourself? Where’s your sense of self preservation?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe you broke it when you made me immortal!” I don’t mean to raise my voice, don’t mean to lash out so harshly. They flinch at my words, and I continue, “Maybe I’m just a little bit broken…”

“Paola…I…”

“There’s no point in apologizing. Again. There’s nothing you can do to fix it, or me. I need to come to terms with that.” The outburst made me tired, and now it’s all I can do not to let the exhaustion overwhelm me. “I’m not okay right now. But I will be. I just need you to let me deal with this on my terms.” When I look at them again, Max looks like they’re seeing me for the first time.

“Okay.” They stand before walking across the room and placing a hand on mine. “If you’re going to do this – make use of your immortality this way – I can’t stop you. But let me help you. Even if that just means covering your tracks.”

For the first time in a while, I feel a genuine smile tugging at the corners of my lips.

~~~

Max, sidekick vigilante. Maybe. That’s where this seems to be going, so we’ll see!

As always, think happy thoughts!

Finding Purpose

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Happy Monday!

So my posting has been sporadic again. I really am trying to post every day, but that proves harder and harder the more I try. On the bright side, I have been working on A Vampire’s Bride outside of here. I’m trying a new approach! Rather than try to type out the story from the start, I’m writing it by hand. This way I don’t have to be in front of a computer screen all the time. So far so good, so we’ll see how it goes.

Today’s prompt comes from Let Me Help You Write on Tumblr and will go toward Provisional Freedom‘s word count!

Enjoy!

CW: Assault, violence, and some language.

~~~

Although Marcus said I’m still welcome at the house, I’ve been trying not to rely on him and Videl as much. I don’t want to make him uncomfortable, and to be honest, knowing what I know now, it makes me uncomfortable to be there. So that’s how I now find myself wandering around on my own, one of the few times Max’s attention is elsewhere. They don’t usually tell me where they go when they’re not with me, but on this particular occasion they mentioned something about having to check on another charge.

The city at night is a completely different beast. Urban exploration was never my thing, but now that I have all this time to kill, I’ve had to get creative with my past times. It never occurred to me that I might not be the only one out at three in the morning. Turns out, the night life is much more active than I anticipated. Still, even if I’d expected this level of activity, nothing could have prepared me for an attempted mugging. Not against me, mind you.

The victims in question are a couple of women, probably a few years older than me. Going by their clothes and smudged makeup, they were likely headed home from a night of dancing and general fun, until some asshole in a mask decided they made easy targets. Scared, and probably still a little drunk, they’re incoherent but it’s obvious they’re scared out of their minds. One of them shakily tries to hand over her bag. When the asshole doesn’t take the bag and instead tries to approach them, gun in hand, I have a whole new understanding of what’s happening.

My blood boils, and before I know it, I’m walking over.

“Excuse me, what the hell do you think you’re doing?” I’m sure I’m the farthest thing from an imposing figure, but my words make the man stop anyway. The mask doesn’t hide his eyes, and I can see a momentary lapse of fear and confusion. And then he realizes he’s talking to a girl who’s five-foot-nothing.

“Stay back! I have a gun.” He points it at me.

“Oh, what, are you going to shoot me?” Behind him, the women are on the ground, shaking.

“You sound awfully sarcastic for a person with a gun pointed at them.”

“Well what can I say? You don’t scare me.” I shrug, keeping my eye on the women. As I keep the man’s attention, I motion for them to get out of his reach. Though they’re both scared out of their wits, one of them manages to pull the other up before running together behind a dumpster. I’m so focused on them, I almost don’t hear the gunshot.

I’ve never been shot before, so I’m not sure what I expected. It’s not painless, per say, but doesn’t hurt nearly as much as a gunshot should. When I look down, there’s a hole in my sweater, but no blood. “This is my favorite hoodie, asshole!”

He fires again, making yet another hole. At this point, I don’t even bother sitting still. Walking toward him, I clench my fists, ready to knock his teeth down his throat. He empties his gun, and in a desperate play to get me to stop, he throws it at me. I almost laugh before my foot meets his groin. When he doubles over, I back hand him, his blood spraying the concrete.

I didn’t realize how much I’d pent up my anger and frustrations until I started wailing on him. When I stop, it’s only because Max shows up.

“I think that’s enough, Paola.”

“Bastard deserves to die.” But I do as they say and stop, taking two steps back to admire my handiwork. He’s trembling, muttering something about how sorry he is.

“Be that as it may, you don’t need his blood on your hands.”

“Ha! Too late.” My knuckles drip with it. I look over at Max as they kneel down by the women. I let them handle it, considering I’m probably a bit more terrifying than the man with the gun had been. I watch a Max places a hand over their foreheads, and both faint into their arms. “What are you doing?”

“Wiping their memories and taking them home. We don’t need rumors about a bullet proof girl running around. Stay here, I’ll be right back to deal with him.” And with that, they’re gone. As much as I don’t feel like sitting around, I stay.

When Max returns, it’s with reprimands at the ready. “That was reckless.”

“As reckless as pulling a tainted soul from Purgatory?” I wipe my hands on my ruined hoodie.

“Paola…”

“What? At least I helped someone. Would it have been better to let it happen?”

“No, but-”

“But nothing. I helped those women, and I felt good doing it. Maybe I should do it more often. Put this immortality to good use. Punish scum like him.”

“What you should do is get some sleep. We’ll talk about this in the morning.” Their words had a tone of finality, and I was tired of arguing with them anyway.

“Fine.”

~~~

Paola, vigilante extraordinaire? Maybe!

As always, think happy thoughts!

A wild unicorn appears!

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Happy Friday!

As the week comes to a close, I struggled to find a prompt to get me going today. Thankfully, Reddit pulled through!

Prompt: You’re driving down a quiet road at night, when a unicorn jumps out of the woods and in front of your car.

Enjoy!

~~~

I’ve never been a fan of driving – especially at night. When I can, I avoid it. Unfortunately, once in a while, there’s just no getting out of it. This is one of those times.

Normally I don’t struggle to stay awake when I drive. The nerves I get behind the wheel do more than enough to keep me awake, but tonight is different. I’ve been on the road for a solid five hours and I’ve still got another two to go. To make things worse, I haven’t passed a residential or commercial area in almost just as long. Outside, the trees whip by on either side of the car, eaten by the darkness behind me. If it wasn’t so dark out, I might consider pulling over for a nap, but the thought of something coming out of the forest to get me keeps me driving.

I should have just taken the nap.

My eyes start to droop again, so I try to turn up the music. My car is the only one on the road, and I haven’t see anyone else for miles. It doesn’t occur to me to keep my eyes on the road as I reach for the volume control. When I look back up, a white blur shoots out of the forest and into the road. By some miracle I manage to swerve without hitting it. I almost lose control of the car, but managed to stop just a few yards away.

When I turn to look at what I almost hit, I can’t believe my eyes. There, in the middle of the road, is a white horse with a horn coming out of its head. Moonlight highlights the curves of the horn – it actually shines in the light. The animal has a glow about it, and I’m sure I’m dreaming. Or dead. I probably fell asleep at the wheel, hit a tree, and I’m dying somewhere in the dark right now.

Right?

It’s staring at me now. At least, I think it is – we’re making eye contact in my rearview mirror. I consider flooring it and just driving away, but I’m too awestruck to move.

“Belle! What do you think you’re doing?” Someone runs into the road behind the unicorn. The animal looks away from me and at the person – as if responding to the name – before focusing back on me. The person follows the unicorn’s gaze. “Oh no.”

Now, I try to floor it, but my car just doesn’t want to work. I try to restart it, but all I get is a sputtering engine. Before I know it the person is at my door, knocking on my window. I jump at the sound and refuse to open.

“It’s okay. I just want to make sure you’re alright. Did she hurt you?” The deep voice is calm, reassuring, and it does something weird to my brain. Though they’re standing right in front of me, I struggle to make out their appearance. They’re blurry, like I’m looking at them without my glasses, though everything else is clear as can be. My thoughts are fuzzy and I have to struggle to stay focused.

“She-she ran out onto the road. I’m okay. I just want to go.” Again, I try to start the car. Still no luck. “Dammit!”

“Your car won’t work.” They’re still standing outside. “You’re on the veil. I’ll need to get your car to the other side so you can keep going.”

“What?”

“Please. Come out and I’ll help you.”

I gauge my options. There’s a unicorn on the road, this person is blurry, and my car won’t start. Not to mention I’m probably already dead. Or dying. After a glance at my phone, I realize I have no signal, either. I exit the car with my pepper spray in hand, my keys sticking out between my fingers.

“Why are you blurry?” I narrow my eyes.

“What? Oh! Sorry. That’s my glamour. No use in keeping it up, I guess.” A blink later, their figure comes into focus. The first thing I notice are his eyes – they’re the color of the moon. Everything else about him is fairly normal – short black hair, muscular build. Like a farmhand, I suppose. He offers his hand. “I’m Caleb.”

I don’t take it, still gripping my weapons tight. “Kara.”

He chuckles.

“Sorry about this. Belle doesn’t usually get out, but every once in a while she slips past me.” He sends a glare to the unicorn, which he leashed to a nearby tree. “And ends up ripping the veil. Normally no one is around, though. You’re the first!”

Caleb turns his attention to the car, straightening it out on the road with his bare hands before moving to stand behind it and push. Like it’s no heavier than a shopping cart, he navigates it down the road. For a moment I’m struck before I realize I’m supposed to follow him. I hurry to catch up.

“I’m dreaming right? Or dead?”

“No, not at all!” His voice is cheery, casual. “But you probably won’t remember this tomorrow.”

“Why?”

“The veil’s magic will wipe the memory. Can’t have humans stumbling upon fairies and unicorns.” The thought is upsetting. My curiosity spins, and if it wasn’t for my need to get home and mild fear, I’d demand more answers.

After a few more yards, he stops. “Here you go. Try again.”

I keep the door open as I try to start the car again. It starts with no problem, and I find myself smiling with relief. “Thank you.”

“Anytime. Maybe just avoid driving through veils during full moons.” He says that like it’s advice everyone should know.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I look down at my phone again, happy to see full bars. When I go to thank Caleb again, he’s gone. I turn to try to spot the unicorn, but she’s gone, too. After another hour on the road, the entire ordeal seems like a dream, but I struggle to hold onto it, to remember.

I intend to come back tomorrow.

~~~

I really like this little piece. Hope you did too!

As always, think happy thoughts!

Tainted fortune

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Hello!

So my last bout of productivity was somewhat short-lived. At least on here. Behind the scenes I’ve been working on restructuring Withered Legacy and that’s going better than I expected! I even have what might pass for a poor excuse of an outline, which is a lot for me, so yay! Here’s to getting more writing done!

Today’s post is inspired by  Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt series. Provisional Freedom is still kind of in limbo while I figure out what’s next for Paola. In the meantime, though, there’s plenty of angst and personal drama to explore with her, so the story will consist of smaller moments – less grand than the overall stories of Videl, Ariella, and Emma. Maybe that’s what her story will be  – despite the supernatural, she’ll try living a normal life. We’ll see.

Prompt: Mused mourning/Tainted fortune

~~~

Is it weird I can’t remember how my mother died? Ever since I saw her in purgatory, it’s like that experience replaced the memory. My dad never talks about it, and I can’t bring myself to ask. Max would probably know, but something inside me stops me from asking them. Maybe it’s better not to remember. The anniversary of her death is coming up – I only know that because of the date stamp on her grave – and the closer we get to it, the more my dad shuts down. It’s been about a year since I came back, and I’ve done the math. It happened on the anniversary last year.

In small ways, I’ve tried to reassure my dad it won’t happen again. I don’t even know why I did it in the first place. Still, the look in his eyes when he realizes what I’m trying to say isn’t one of relief.

At Max’s suggestion, I’ve been spending more time at home. Maybe I’ll go back to school, too, but I don’t know how that could work. How would I be able to focus on papers and homework when none of it matters – at least not to me. To be honest, I’m surprised my father hasn’t been more vocal about a return to a normal routine. After all, it’s been a year.

Pa?”

“Hm?” He looks up from his morning newspaper. It’s like this every morning before he goes to work. I make breakfast and we sit together in silence. It’s not awkward or uncomfortable silence – it just is.

“I was thinking…that maybe, um, it’s about time I go back to school.” My eyes wander around the room as I speak, unwilling to meet his when the suggestion registers.

“That’d be great, mija.” As always, his eyes carry a melancholy kind of tranquility, but there’s hope there, too. Is it wrong to give him that hope, when it’s only a matter of time before I have to disappear? “Have you given any thought to your major?”

“Not really, no. To be honest, I don’t know if I’m ready to go back yet, but I think I should try.”

He reaches across the table and places a hand on mine. “Whatever decision you make, I’m here with you.”

I wasn’t really expecting this to turn into an emotional moment, but the words catch in my throat and the beginnings of tears prickle behind my eyes.

“Just let me know when, and we can start looking at schools.” My dad squeezes my hand for a split second before standing. With a smile, he places a kiss on my forehead before heading out to work.

~~~

And that’s it for now. The beginnings of something resembling a plot! Woo!

As always, think happy thoughts!