Hopping on the train!

Hello!

I really need to do something about my lack of posting here. Honestly, I’m not sure how to get back into it. Things have been busier than usual between work and my hobbies (guess who’s thinking of becoming a Zumba instructor?), and that’s made it difficult to participate in my usual prompts. On the bright side, I am still working on Withered Legacy. I also finished a short piece for OWS Ink’s summer lit journal!

So here we are with my first shot at my own prompt, Friday Flash Fiction Train. And because I was struggling with coming up with an idea for it, I’m combining it with Two Word Tuesday.

~~~

“Do you always write such boring work?” The TA’s words cut through me like a chainsaw. He looks up at me from the book – my book – with eyes colder than steel. He pushes his glasses up his nose, still watching me. Waiting for my reaction.

I snap and reach across the desk before snatching the book from him. “Fine. I’ll rewrite it then. To be less boring.”

It’s rude, but I don’t wait for a response. This week has been worse than most and this is the last thing I need. I struggle not to cry in front of him, as the stress finally reaches its breaking point. Despite my abrupt head start, he still manages to cut me off before I can exit his office.

“Dana, wait. It was a joke!” He’s all smiles now, the apology in his eyes as the steel cracks under my reaction. “I was kidding. I’m sorry – I didn’t think you’d take it that hard.”

“Are you f…kidding me?” I’m nowhere near relief, and it’s everything I can do to keep myself from reacting even worse.

“It’s great! I’ve only made a few suggestions. One more round of editing and you can submit it for review.” Still, his words do nothing to appease my annoyance and the sudden bout of tears waiting to let loose. “I’m sorry, really. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“What exactly did you think was going to happen?” I narrow my eyes at him, wondering if he’s already forgotten how stressful this coursework is. He was in my shoes last year. How could he possibly think this is okay?  “Or was your TA a sadist, too?”

Maybe I crossed a line, but I can’t bring myself to care. I’ve known Grant for years. He should know better than to think I’d be okay with a joke like that, even under ideal circumstances.

“Sometimes, yeah.” He smirks and it does nothing to better my mood. “Can I make it up to you? Honestly, I feel really bad for upsetting you like this.”

“No.” I adjust my satchel before opening the door and walking out.

~~~

As writers, we all know that initial flash of anger when someone just insults and dismisses our work. At least, I do. Let’s hope others hop on the train!

As always, think happy thoughts!

Tainted fortune

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!

Tainted Treasures

It’s been a rough week. I was in a car accident on Tuesday, the most recent and worst one I’ve been in yet. Thankfully no one was hurt, but I’m still a bit shaken over it (as morbid a thought as it is, I feel like I’m running out of lives). The entire ordeal is a huge pain and I don’t very much feel like ever getting behind the wheel of a car again (though I know I don’t have much of a choice). So I guess you could say my car (which I only just bought in October) is a tainted treasure now.

Anyway, in an attempt to keep my mind off the awful that is dealing with the aftermath, I’m going to try to write a little bit. I haven’t revisited A Vampire’s Bride since January, so here’s my attempt at moving that story forward a bit. The prompt, as usual, comes from Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday series and serves as general inspiration.

Prompt: Tainted treasures

~~~

When Niklaus leaves, I almost don’t notice. He’s careful not to wake me, but a soft kiss on my brow triggers my awareness and I open my eyes in time to see him close the door. Though I want to reach out, ask him to stay longer, I know that’s impossible. And asking would make it worse. Outside, sunrise is only a couple of hours away – he stayed until he absolutely had to leave.

Though I’m still tired, I’m aware enough that I need to change before my father wakes. I still haven’t told him what I’ve been doing with my nights, and this isn’t really the best way for him to find out. So I remove Niklaus’ shirt, taking it and his cloak and hiding them under the bed. My neck wound is still wrapped, too, and it’s only then I realize I’m going to have a hard time continuing to hide this from my father. My hair can only do so much – it’s only a matter of time before he notices the scar it’ll leave behind, even if I manage to avoid him noticing the bandages.

I gather some water in a bowl, light a candle by the small mirror in my room, and go about checking my wound. Like I told Niklaus, the blood made it look worse than it really is. It’s a nasty-looking scratch, but nothing life threatening. With some clean cloth I re-wrap the scratch, coming up with a less terrifying explanation to give my father.

Once I’m satisfied with my bandaging job, I change into a new shirt and move on to pulling my weapons back out from under the bed. They’re in desperate need of cleaning, too. Holding them close, I settle onto the floor and go about the task as carefully as possible. The hatchet doesn’t require as much care as the crossbow, though. I’m careful to clean every crevice, and I double check the weapon for any damage. Dropping it was a stupid move, and now it’s scuffed at the handle.

“Dammit.” In all the years my mother used this crossbow to hunt, she never let it fall or get damaged. The thought hits me harder than I expect, and the stress of everything just comes crashing down. My head hurts, and I can’t stop the tears that well up. Unfortunately, that’s how my dad finds me.

“Ariella?” I nearly drop the weapon again at the sound of his voice. Startled, I turn around to look at him. “What happened? Are you alright?” He rushes over, crouching beside me as his eyes scan my neck before returning to the crossbow.

“I’m…it’s fine. Just that the crossbow is a bit damaged.”

“And what’s this?” He brushes my hair away, catching on to my attempt to hide my neck.

“I…I was hunting. It’s just a scratch. It’s fine.” I hope he doesn’t pry but I know that’s asking for too much.

“And how did it happen?”

“I said, I was hunting.”

“Ariella.” His tone is all reprimand, and I realize it’s been years since he’s spoken to me like that. Since he’s had to. The word is like a whip, and I’m transported back to my childhood. “Tell me.”

Though I don’t want to, I look him in the eye. “I was hunting vampires.”

~~~

And the truth comes out! How will her dad react? I have no idea yet – hence why I ended it where I did.

Anyway, if you’re stuck in your writing endeavors, be sure to check out the rest of Our Write Side’s prompts! There’s something for everyone!

As always, think happy thoughts.

Tainted beauty, marked soul

Hello!

Posts on consecutive days? Unheard of! Don’t get used to it, either. Today is a special occasion, since we’re closing out Secondhand Soul (for now). That’s not to say we’re bidding farewell to Videl and Marcus – there’s still a lot of unresolved issues there. Just that we’re bringing Videl’s origin story to an end and shifting focus to Paola and her troubles for a while.

So let’s get on with it! The prompt I’ll be using is another of this week’s Master Class prompts at Our Write Side.

Prompt: Tainted beauty

Happy reading!


When I wake up, I’m alone. There’s no way to tell how long I’ve been out, or even where I am. The room is small – more of a closet, really – and there’s a single light hanging from a chain. It swings back and forth in a non-existent breeze, shifting the shadows about the space. It’s cold, forcing me to huddle in a corner and hug myself in an attempt to conserve warmth. I’m so consumed by the cold I almost don’t notice the oddest part of the room – it doesn’t have doors or windows.

How the hell did I get here? I push through the cold, the nerves prompting me to get up.

“Hello? Can anyone hear me?” My voice bounces back, grating on extra sensitive ears. Panic threatens to overtake me, and I’m no longer sure if I’m shivering from the cold.

~~~

I’ve never felt so useless – as a human or demon.

Videl has been lying there for the better part of a day, with still no improvement. More of her skin has turned to purple-tinted charcoal, the infection – at least, that’s what Max called it – spreading so that it covers her entire arm, most of her leg, and even a portion of her face and neck. It’s probably covering even more under her clothes. As I watch, her arms turn bloody.

“How’s she doing?” Max enters the room behind me.

“I don’t know. She hasn’t moved. The infection doesn’t seem to be actively spreading anymore, but it’s also not receding.”

“The stasis I put her in won’t let it spread. She’s safe for now. Take comfort in that.” They place a hand on my arm. “I spoke to my father, but there’s nothing he can do, since her soul belongs to Lucifer.”

“So what do we do now?”

“Hope she can fight it off on her own. She’s resilient. I have faith.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“I have a feeling she’ll surprise us. Especially since she was able to wield an angel blade.”

“It nearly killed her!” Turning around, I walk away from her and across the room.

“The operative word being ‘nearly’. It definitely would have killed you. For someone who’s soul belongs to my brother, hers is surprisingly pure. Likely because of the circumstances under which it came to be his in the first place.” Max smiles, like they don’t have a care in the world.

~~~

“Hello!!” My throat is raw, and the word ‘hello’ has lost all meaning. I’ve punched the walls I don’t even know how many times, but still I’m trapped.

The damn light won’t stop swinging, nearly hitting my head each time I pass under it. My frustrations getting the better of me, I grab the lightbulb and yank it out of the ceiling, plunging myself in darkness. I’m not sure if this is better or worse than before.

As my eyes adjust to the dark, sparks twinkle in my vision. I blink, hoping they’ll go away, but they  don’t. It takes a moment for me to realize the sparks aren’t in my vision, but in the air around me. I try to get close to one, try to reach out and touch it. It burns when I do, triggering a blinding light that forces me to shield my eyes.

When I open them again, I’m not in the dark anymore. Instead, I’m in another room, this one more of a large chamber. I feel like I’m being watched, stalked by something urging me to move forward. My steps echo on a floor that seems made of black opal as I approach the center of the room. There, a body floats in mid-air. I don’t recognize her until I get close enough to touch it – it’s me, but her skin is incandescent, letting off a soft glow that lights the area immediately around us. Something about her exudes purity, and I’m not sure how, but deep down I know what she is.

It’s my soul. The very thing that got me into this whole mess in the first place. She’s pretty, innocent, and I almost resent that fact. She’s everything I’m not and will never be again. I want to touch her, but I have a feeling it’ll burn worse than the spark did before.

A sound off to my left makes me turn. There’s a figure at the edges of my soul’s light, hovering just out of reach. I can’t make it out, but something inside me twists with fear and a sudden urge to protect my soul at all costs. The longer I watch it hover, the more difficult it becomes to figure out exactly what it is. All I can make out are two eyes, but they’re not focused on me. They’re focused on her.

When it launches itself at her, I don’t know what else to do but intercept it. We collide and fall to the floor with a thud, as what feels like tendrils of smoke wrap around me, suffocating me. I can’t move, so I stop struggling. Above us, as the darkness overtakes me, slipping inside me and seeping into my skin, my soul continues to hover.

At least she’s safe.

~~~

“Videl! Videl!” My whole body burns, but I latch onto the sound of Marcus’ voice. Something light touches my face, prompting my eyes to open. I have to blink several times before I get used to the light, but I immediately know where I am. Beneath me, my bed has never felt more comfortable. As my vision clears and the burning stops, Marcus’ face comes into focus.

“H-Hey.”

He pulls me up in response, wrapping his arms around me in an embrace I never thought I’d feel again. “You’re okay.”

“I think so?” I look down between us, noting that my hand – the one burned by the blade – is tinted in dark purple, almost black. “What happened to my hand?”

Marcus pulls back, uncertainty in his eyes. “It’s not just your hand – the infection left its mark.”

I follow his line of sight to the window by my bed. In the reflection, I notice that a portion of my face is the same color.

“Good to see you’re feeling better.” Lucifer’s voice distracts us, and we both immediately stand at attention.

“Relax.” He waves his hand, as if dismissing the formality. Lucifer smiles as he watches us sit back down. “It looks like I got more than I bargained for with you, Videl.”

“What do you mean?”

“That blade is a demon-killer. One-hit kill, so to speak, but something in you fought back. All it managed to do was pull your demon nature from your soul.”

“So am I…?”

“Don’t get your hopes up. Looks like you patched yourself back up again. Still a demon.” This time, he smirks. “Be more careful in the future, though, will you? I doubt it’ll work like that a second time.”

“Yes, sir.” I only let a second pass before I ask, “My family? Are they okay?”

“Yeah – Max took your siblings back to your mother. They don’t remember a thing.” The news that my siblings won’t recall any of the time I spent with them hurts, but I know they’re better off. Marcus seems to sense this, taking my hand in his. The gesture doesn’t escape Lucifer. His eyes flick to our hands before looking up at us again. “I’ll leave you to it, then. The witch community is in a frenzy over what just happened. I have some damage control to do.”

“You don’t have any assignments for us?”

“Not yet. For now, lay low. Don’t need the other demons thinking they can split their souls like you did.” He narrows his eyes at me. “I’ll call you when I need you.”

“Yes, sir.” We both stand and bow before he disappears.


And that’s that. Like I said, this isn’t the end of Videl’s story, just the close of this arc. I’ll definitely be visiting them again later, especially in Provisional Freedom. And, of course, this’ll get its own novella someday. Consider these serials very rough first drafts 🙂

As always, think happy thoughts!

Brazen whispers

Told you I’d be back! ICYMI, check out this morning’s post on why I’ve been MIA.

As usual, today’s post comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt series. As I’m writing this bit, I haven’t actually written my response (I usually do that after my blurb at the top of posts), but I’m hoping this post brings an end to Secondhand Soul. I know, that kind of comes out of nowhere, but I really think I can end it, or at least bring resolution to the grandma story line. Introducing Paola brought about a whole new set of issues for our characters, so I think it’s time to wrap up Videl’s origin story and get into a little more of what’s going on with the other characters. If the story as a whole feels rushed, don’t worry! I intend to eventually go back (with all my serials, not just this one) and flesh the stories out into novellas (my real ambition is visual novels, but that’s a whole different monster I’ll take on in the future). Of course, they’ll be available for free.

Anyway, to the fiction!

Continue reading

Two Word Tuesday – Ennui

Happy Friday!

Almost decided to forego putting up a post this week, but here I am! And for once, it won’t be for A Vampire’s BrideSecondhand Soul is quickly approaching its end (maybe that’s why I’m dragging my feet on it), so here’s to keeping it moving forward. Still not sure if Provisional Freedom is going to continue past its end, either.

Today’s post comes from another Our Write Side prompt series, Two Word Tuesday.

Prompt: Ennui/Boredom

~~~

It’s hard to concentrate on what Max is saying. I’m not bored, not really, I just care less about what they’re saying than I do about why Marcus seems so uncomfortable. Does he think Videl and I don’t notice his fidgeting? That his eyes – those terrifyingly deep pools of molten, green-tinted tar – continue to dart my way? He seemed fine when he first walked in, and I have a feeling this goes deeper than the fact I stared at him. Why have I made him so uncomfortable?

Max mentions purgatory, and my awareness returns to him. “Wait, what?”

“Were you not listening?” They’re annoyed, the first hint of emotion I’ve seen from them since they pulled me from limbo.

“Sorry.” I look away from Marcus and Videl. “I zoned out.”

“I said – we intend to trap the witch in purgatory. She’ll be stripped of her magic there.” Right – some kind of witch was giving both the angels and demons trouble. Something about a deal with the devil. To be honest, I don’t want to know more than I need to, so I didn’t ask questions.

“How are you going to do that?” Now I’m interested.

“That’s where you come in. We pulled you out to help us. Your mother is a placeholder. She’ll take her place.”

“I thought you said I’d be going back? And why couldn’t you just pull me out and drop the witch in? Instead of my mother?”

“Subduing the witch isn’t easy, and no one here is immune to her magic. Except for you.” Max crosses their arms. “Purgatory has that effect on people – its energy lingers on souls that have been pulled out. A nice side-effect is that your being near her will dull her magic. Not to mention you can’t be killed.”

“What?” This would have been nice to know.

“Did I not mention that?”

“No, you didn’t.” A new tension enters the room. A part of me wants to say ‘screw it’ and refuse. It’s only the look on Videl’s face that stops me. There’s a desperation behind her carefully controlled demeanor. Besides, I don’t think angels pull souls out of limbo for fun – especially if we can’t die after. That witch must be really bad if it’s worth the risk. With a sigh, I continue, “Whatever – as long as my mother gets out of purgatory.”

I’ll figure out what to do about my immortality later.

“She will.” Max directs their attention back to Videl. “Lucifer will take care of the specifics – leading your grandmother into another deal, trapping her in the summoning circle. She can still use her magic even when she’s trapped, so that’s where Paola will come in.” They turn to me. “You’ll be protecting Videl’s mother. We don’t want the witch doing anything that might hurt her when she realizes she’s trapped.”

“And us?” Marcus finally speaks.

“We’ve received word that the witch won’t be working alone. Seems she’s managed to get some angels to turn coat.” Max says this like it’s no big deal, but Marcus’ face makes it clear that it is. “So you’ll be standing guard, making sure no one interferes. Lucifer might be strong, but he’s just an angel, like me. He’ll need the protection from our siblings.”

“Great.”

“And Eva and Mikey?” Videl’s eyes glance to the ceiling.

“I’ll take care of them, keep them away from the danger.” Max’s voice is actually comforting, and I wonder who Eva and Mikey are that they’re so important. “I’ll go let Lucifer know I’ve told you the plan. Your grandmother is preparing for the summoning ceremony as we speak. She’ll probably do it in the next few days.”

At that Max disappears, and I’m left with Videl and Marcus, the room as uncomfortable as ever.

“I’ll take you home, Paola.” Videl stands from her place beside Marcus, shooting him a look I can’t decipher. Now that the angel is gone, Videl and Marcus’ marks have disappeared. Videl’s arms are clean of any blood, and Marcus’ eyes look normal – a vibrant green not unlike mine.

I don’t argue and simply follow her out the door.

~~~

And we’re one step closer! At least there’s a plan in place. Probably a plethora of plotholes, too, but oh well. Someday I’ll get around to cleaning it up.

As always, think happy thoughts!

Grand weakness

Happy Friday!

Eventually, I’ll get back to posting multiple times a week. We’re twenty-seven days into the new year and I’ve yet to adjust properly. Maybe in February. We’ll see. Until then, weekly Friday posts will have to do.

This week’s post comes courtesy of Our Write Side’s Master Class Monday prompt, which I’ll be using as general inspiration for the next scene. We’re going to pick up where we left off with A Vampire’s BrideSecondhand Soul is still in a bit of a limbo, since I’m still not sure how to wrap it up.

Prompt: Grand weakness

~~~

The silence of the ride is all-consuming. Resting my head against Niklaus’ back, I let my thoughts take me, playing back the events of the hunt, everything that went wrong, where I could have reacted better. Why did the fledgling have to look so much like Niklaus?

“I’m glad you’re okay.” His voice startles me from my thoughts. “I don’t know what I would have done if-”

“Don’t think about it.” I tighten my hold on him as one of his hands moves to rest over mine.

We don’t say anything else the rest of the ride. There’s a tension in the air when we get to the cottage. Nothing seems to have happened in the village while we were gone – the atmosphere is sleepy and quite. And yet the tension follows us off the horse and to my room. I thought he would just leave me at the door and go, but when I invite him in he follows. Niklaus hovers at the door to my bedroom, though, face shrouded in thought.

I’m about to say something when he beats me to it.

“That fledgling – you said his appearance caught you off-guard. Why?” Is that what he thought about the entire ride back?

“Isn’t it obvious?” By now I’ve discarded my weapons, hidden them under my bed. “He looked like you…” I avert my gaze when I say it, unsure of how he’ll react. “I…”

“Ariella…” At some point, he entered the room, because now he’s standing right behind me. When I turn around, he’s right there. “If I ever…ever lose control, you have to be prepared to put a bolt in my heart, understand?”

I can’t look away from his eyes, trapped in the gravity of his words and the intensity of his gaze. “I can’t.”

“You don’t have a choice.” He places a hand on my cheek, the touch light as a feather. “It’ll be your life or mine.”

“It won’t happen. You won’t lose control.”

“Nadya won’t always be there to keep me in line.”

“But-” I try to pull away, but he takes both my hands and holds me in place.

“Promise me.” Again, his eyes trap mine. There’s that loathing, that disdain for what he is radiating off him in waves. “Please. You have to promise me you’ll do it…”

“And if I don’t?” My words are hardly a whisper, and all I can do is look at our hands. He doesn’t have to say it out loud. If I can’t promise that I’ll kill him if I have to, Niklaus will leave. Just like he sent me away from the castle for my own protection; he’ll do it again. When he doesn’t say anything, I pull away and sit on the edge of my bed. Reluctant, he follows and sits beside me.

“Please.” He takes my hand, the gentle caress at odds with what he’s asking of me.

“Okay. I promise.” But I don’t look at him when I say it. If he can tell I’m lying, he doesn’t show it. When I look at him again there’s relief in his eyes now, a sad smile turning the corners of his mouth.

“Thank you.”

I don’t want to hear his thanks for agreeing to kill him, so I press my lips to his. His arms slide around me as he shifts closer in response, lips gentle but firm against mine. My fingers slide into his hair and he deepens the kiss, biting softly on my bottom lip. It’s not long before the kiss turns passionate, and I’m all but sitting in his lap. Niklaus pulls back first, his breathing heavy as he rests his forehead against mine. I don’t want him to leave – not yet.

“St-Stay with me?” The words escape me before I can stop them, and I’m afraid I’ve crossed some line. There’s no taking them back now, though. “For a little while?”

Niklaus looks like he wants to say no, but he doesn’t. Instead, he shifts farther back onto my bed, pulling me with him so I’m lying down. “You need to rest, but I’ll stay as long as I can.”

It isn’t until I’m settled into his arms, tucked against him and on the precipice of sleep that I realize how much I missed this.

~~~

Hopefully next week we’ll take a turn into Secondhand Soul. As much as I love vampire fluff and angst, I really want to get back to Videl and Marcus.

As always, think happy thoughts!