Artiface

Sep. 2nd, 2012 09:05 pm
i_17bingo: (Default)

When Jin started seeing the creatures on the other side of the mirror, he was eight--too young to have closed his mind to this kind of thing, but old enough to know better than to talk to grownups about it. Being clever, he also found out that, among his peers, these visions made him unique.

Jin wasn't at all frightened, because the creatures didn't seem to notice him; even if they did, they paid him no mind. And so he spent hours in the bathroom, in front of his mother's vanity, or with the compact he'd stolen from his aunt, studying.

Some of them floated. Some crawled. Some seemed to walk on surfaces a few feet or inches above or below the floor. Some were completely alien in appearance, with bodies that made no sense. Some defied spatial physics. Some were made up of angles that didn't exist. Some were just indistinct. Some were horrifying. Some were even kind of cute. Overall, though, they just were.

As the weeks and months passed on, he began to group and classify them by their general characteristics and demeanor. It became apparent as he did so that many of these families, genii, and species were just as detached from the inscrutable business of other families, genii, and species as he was from theirs. After a great deal of consideration, he concluded that what lay before his eyes were layers upon layers of different planes of existence.

Therefore, at a shockingly early age, Jin understood his insignificance in the larger fabric of the universes. And, for the most part, he was okay with it.

Time and this knowledge swung him back and forth from empty nihilism to boundless compassion; from boldness to ennui. He became, in effect, a teenager. All the while, the beings that walked, crawled, and floated above, below, and through him became a part of his boring routine, in the mornings when he tried on clothes, and at night, when he brushed his teeth. They lived together indifferently, like neighbors in a tenement building.

One evening, all of that changed.

It happened as he was relaxing in his bedroom, dealing with a dull homework assignment. A mirror hung from the door of his bedroom closet, and he faced it, as he always did, finding comfort in the comings and goings of his invisible companions. An aspiring musician, he caught wind of a passing muse and began making up a little tune to hum.

And that's when the beast paused. It was one of the hideous ones--the kind other children imagined living in their closets. This one wouldn't fit, though. It was as tall as a streetlight and as wide as a bear. Jin thought nothing of its actions, until it turned what was probably its head and looked straight at him. He continued to hum--a little bit nervously, though--while trying to put aside any sort of concern. In the past nine years, there was no evidence to suggest that they were aware of him in any way whatsoever. Even when it began to lumber in his direction, he assumed it was only a coincidence. He went quiet, though, just in case.

But when it halted right behind him, he started to get concerned. And when it deliberately ducked down to look through the framed pane of glass on his door, terror set in. The beast groped blindly for him, more out of curiosity than malice; but the effect was the same. Where its paw raked across his skin, a fiery chill tore through and beneath his skin.

He screamed.

The beast recoiled. It glanced this way and that, and it bounded off. All of the other creatures in all of the dimensions all around him scattered like startled fish. For a moment, and for the first time in nearly a decade, Jin was alone. Gradually, they drifted back, and things returned to normal.

Except that things weren't normal anymore.

It took him a few minutes to catch his breath and compose himself. After he did, Jin walked over to the mirror, gazed deep into the reflection of the worlds around him, and hummed.


_____
This is a bit of world-building for a fantasy novel my wife and I are writing.

i_17bingo: (Default)

The crappy punk band was about three quarters of the way through its crappy set when Rafaela caught a glimpse of Noah's face in the crowd. He looked exactly the same as he did the last time she had seen him--the only difference being a pair of cheap, plastic sunglasses. She couldn't tell if he had seen her, but just the presence of that gelled, spiky hair, pierced septum, slight overbite, and dog collar padlocked around his neck came across as kind of a blessing.

When Rafaela was working, she didn't like to draw too much attention to herself, so she shoved the cheaply tattooed idiot next to her and slipped away through the ensuing, good-natured brawl that followed. Her goal was the men's room, wherein she pushed open the doors to all five stalls, apologizing whenever the occasion called for it. The one she was looking for turned out to be the one farthest from the entrance. It looked exactly the same as it did in the photos she had received in the mail last week--the only difference being that the medical examiner had removed Noah's body.

The pictures, the coroner's report, and the general vibe in the room all smelled like suicide, but another odor drifted subtly underneath it all. It reminded her of a teenager burning patchouli oil to cover up the scent of weed. Why would Noah still be hanging around if he was so desperate to leave in the first place? Who the hell sent Rafaela those photos? And why?

After grabbing a beer from the bar, she wandered back into the audience to get her thoughts together--no small feat given that crappy, crappy band. How long was this fucking set going to last? And whose idea was it to name themselves Cunt-Punch?

She put the bottle to her lips and dropped it when a hand slapped her between the shoulder blades--a hand so cold that it froze her skin through her army-surplus jacket, argyle sweater, T-shirt, and bra strap. "How's it goin', Raf?" said what she assumed was the hand's owner.

She frowned, turned, and asked Noah, "Aren't you supposed to be dead?"

"I am dead."

"Literally?"

Noah grinned. "Cool, right?"

Her mind contemplated the growing welt on her back. "But you're physically here."

"Yes and no." He shrugged. "Let's just say I got skills I didn't have when I was breathing."

"Like?"

"Like, for starters, I'm standing here when I'm lying on a slab with more smack in my veins than blood."

"I see your point."

"And," he added, "I just turned you invisible just by touching you."

"Seriously?" Just to be sure, she snapped her fingers in the face of the nearest idiot. She frowned again. "I can still see my hand, Noah."

"It's just a glamour, dumbass," he sneered. "You've done it before."

"Once," she said, "and it took four of us and hours to prep."

"Skills!"

Impressed, Rafaela tilted her head. "So what's this about then?"

"Aside from showing off the skills?"

Rafaela nodded.

"I brought you here to kill you!"

She concentrated long and hard on this before she spoke again. "Why?"

"Because that was the deal," he replied. "I'm supposed to take out the old coven and some solitaries here and there. But I thought I'd start with you. Student killing the master and all."

"That's really interesting," she told him truthfully. "Who wants me dead?"

"Aside from me?"

Rafaela nodded.

"That would be telling, wouldn't it?"

"Yes, it would."

"She told me not to."

"Even though I'm going to be dead soon?" While she was at it, she had to clarify, "I'm assuming that means really dead, and not dead like you."

He clapped his hands. "You really learn fast, don't you?"

"You never did."

"Fuck you, Raf!" he roared before he spit on her face.

Her nose exploded as if it had been smashed by a brick. She staggered backward, and the audience unconsciously parted for her.

"I'm just getting started, you fucking airhead!" He snatched a glass out of the hand of an idiot and dipped his middle finger inside. While the idiot in question just shrugged off the loss, Noah turned his head toward the stage, and then back at Rafaela. "Cunt-Punch, huh?" He snapped his fingers, causing her to grab her crotch.

"Fuck!" she cried out.

"You like that?"

"No," she groaned.

"Then you're gonna hate this." When poured the rest of the liquid onto the back of his hands a weight began crushing Rafaela, forcing her knees to buckle and give out. "How's that feel?"

Through her teeth, she replied, "Really bad..."

He laughed. "Told you I had skills!"

"Yes, you did," she wheezed. "Pulular."

"What?"

Rafaela cleared her throat. "I said, Pulular!"

With that, the crowd swarmed around Noah, giving her a chance to pull herself to her feet and try to work something out. Her agony, the mystery of Noah's current condition, her concern over whether or not she'd need plastic surgery, that crappy band being on its fifth crappy encore, and her inherent flakiness made it extremely difficult to focus, but she wasn’t particularly worried. She’d been doing this kind of thing for almost twenty years, so inspiration was bound to stroll into her mind anytime. To help it along, she did a quick inventory on the contents of her pockets--a plastic lighter, chips of amber in a medicine bottle, a butterfly knife, a brass cigarette case filled with sticks of incense, a small grimoire, a kazoo, a candle, and a cell phone.

Rafaela reached the bar and leaned on it, squeezing her eyes shut. "Okay," she panted, "this is kind of a big deal." After a long, slow, deep breath, unscrewed the lid from a salt shaker and spilled it on the counter. With her left hand, she scribbled a sigil into it, and with her right, she dug through her jacket.

By this point, Noah had extracted himself from the crowd and was headed for her, looking smug--annoyed, but smug. Rafaela lit some incense, traced the shape of the sigil with the smoke, and whispered.

Noah said, "Don't you think you're going to--"

Rafaela twirled the knife open and slammed the blade into the middle of the salt.

His shoulders fell. "Son of a bitch! You did not just ward me out of here!"

"I did."

"Motherfucker!" he hissed as he stormed over to the exit. Just before he left, he called out, "I'll be right outside, waiting for you."

"I know," she moaned impatiently. "Just go."

The glamour wouldn't last long without Noah around, so she extinguished the incense, pried her athamé out of the counter, and wiped off the salt. Sure enough, the bartender blinked. "Whoa! Didn't see you there!"

"Of course you didn't," she muttered. And since she was going to have to hang around and work out a solution to Noah problem, she asked, "Could I get a bottle of Sheisse Haus, please?"

"Sure," the bartender replied, but when he saw the condition of her face, he jumped. "Holy shit! What the fuck happened to you?"

"Punk rock," Rafaela replied.


_____
*This is a bit of world-building for a fantasy novel my wife and I are writing.*

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Jeremiah

January 2013

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