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Jay Lake
Date: 2011-09-13 05:43
Subject: [writing] Flash me, baby
Security: Public
Tags:books, cancer, health, kalimpura, writing

WRPA yesterday, which I could so some reading for blurb etc. even though my brain was still a bit foggy from chemo. Hope to work on Kalimpura today.

However, give me something to read from you. Post in comments a snippet, or even an entire flash. Show me and my readers what you’re working on. There might even be a randomly selected prize or two to be mailed out from my big basement full o’ books.

Originally published at jlake.com. You can comment here or there.

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Jim Hetley
User: jhetley
Date: 2011-09-13 12:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The child ran its fingers over the dropped weapons in the mess, over one of the cut metal edges, and its eyes widened. It stared up at Al. "I thought angels were tall." The voice didn't give any gender clues, either, just pre-pubescent child.

"Angels are any size they want to be. So are demons." Then Al's brain caught up. "What makes you think I'm an angel?"

(From WIP "Placeholder" -- doesn't have a title yet.)
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User: etcet
Date: 2011-09-13 13:20 (UTC)
Subject: Intro to a short story/novel that has never gotten any further
It had been a long, annoying, but ultimately fruitful trip. I was looking forward to getting home and opening a bottle of a nice Shiraz I'd picked up during a lull between two of the interminable meetings with Copley, Chambers & Garnet. Maybe I'd even have a glass in the bathtub to counterpoint an effervescent LUSH bomb if I had the energy to be truly decadent.

It was while entertaining such fantasies during a seventy-minute layover in Baltimore that an almost-familiar voice brought me up short as I picked up my laptop after clearing security between concourses. "Janey?"

"Doug?" At first glance, Wilzon looked great. His charcoal grey suit was a muted contrast to the crisp white of his collar and cuffs, and the dull luster of the watch on his wrist bespoke some serious quality rather than ostentation. After a moment, though, I could see he looked tired. Not the exhaustion of a full day spent traveling, but something deeper and more fundamental. He looked worn out.

"Do you have a minute?" He might have been on the verge of begging if I declined. I nodded and cast a quick glance at my phone. I was a little off-stride, but ten minutes wouldn't kill me. He shook my free hand in both of his, which were empty and well-groomed and cool, and we found a relatively unpopulated bank of seats, where we set up a buffer zone with our one personal item apiece on the adjacent chairs.

"It's been a while," I ventured, taking note of the sparse threads of silver in his hair. In the sixteen years since we'd been classmates in business school, one lunch during a mutual layover in Chicago a half-dozen years ago was the extent of our contact since leaving the nest. I might or might not have been soaring, as an associate at my firm. Wilzon had definitely caught an updraft somewhere, and ridden it long and well.

He'd been a strong student but not a cutthroat bastard, making a lot of hay from insight and affability, and I wouldn't have put it past him to charm his way up, given the right circumstances. He'd be years away from hitting his Peter Principle ceiling, if he had one.

Thoughts of Prometheus never crossed my mind.

"Heading out, or heading home?" His voice seemed tightly controlled, out of phase with the easy manner I remembered, and he was hunched over, worrying a ring on his right hand back and forth as he spoke.

"Home. I got away from the Beltway as soon as I could." The decision hadn't been entirely mine to make; despite the locus of business there, I didn't have the ability to distance and disconnect myself from the omnipresent currents and undercurrents that swirled through the region - a narcotic miasma for some, a choking caul for others. When it was suggested that I'd be more valuable in one of our regional satellite offices, it was easy for me to agree, even without acknowledging the unspoken context.

He nodded without looking up at me. "I keep trying to stay away. Somehow, nobody listens when I tell them that. They all hear what they want to hear."

"You're still in DC?" I wasn't that surprised; Wilzon was the kind of person you'd expect to see on any number of 24/7 news channels as an expert in some field or other, sounding calm and confident, sensible and assured. The hair, the suit, the eyes, the whole mediagenic package. The fact that he would know what he was talking about would probably be an afterthought when image was everything.

Wilzon was perfectly doomed in Washington, a figurehead on the prow of a ship he neither built nor captained, pushed forward through whatever storms might come, to arrive at fortune or disaster without the ability to so much as turn his head or close his eyes. The city used everyone in it that way, or ignored them utterly.

"What's eating you, Doug? You look miserable."

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Practically in a whisper, he said, "You're right. I am. And I need your help." He turned towards me, and I could see the tension of control drain out of his jaw just before he spoke, the kind of smooth baritone my company would kill to have in our stable for voiceovers, promo spots, anything. It was a voice that cut through every other sound in the world and became the only thing you heard. It was impossible not to hear what that voice said.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2011-09-13 13:37 (UTC)
Subject: Mambo #M51
Here's a bit from a story I'm working on right now:

Static came through her earbuds.

“It’s broken,” I said, popping one out.

“Keep listening.”

A heavy snapping, like porcelain clicking against hammers, and a rushing fuzz.

“Still static,” I said. “Is that what I’m supposed to hear?”

“That’s the Crab Nebula. Did you know that space makes music? You can find thousands of radio telescope recordings. You can even hear it live. I’ve got my top ten here.” She held the screen where I could see her play list: M51, Jupiter, Orion, Xi-hydrae, the Pillars of Creation. “Have you ever listened to something a hundred times in a row?

I shook my head.

“It’s like standing in front of a painting every day. At first it’s all the obvious stuff. Color. Composition. You get it in ten seconds. But when you come back again and again, you see the picture underneath. Once I spent a week looking at just one corner of Bruegel’s “Fall of Icarus.”

“What did you see?”

She didn’t answer, and after a while I thought she hadn’t heard the question.

“Immolation,” she said.
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User: jimvanpelt
Date: 2011-09-13 13:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Argh! I forgot to sign in. "Mambo No. M51" was me.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-13 13:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I unscreened you, or you can repost under your handle if you'd prefer.
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User: shsilver
Date: 2011-09-13 13:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"My son has proven himself to be the worst kind of arrogant ass!" Gytha stormed around her room at Winchester.

Across the room, near an open window where he could take advantage of the cool breeze, a priest sat at a table, a tablet of wax in front of him and a stylus in his hand. He had been summoned by Lady Gytha and been listening to her rants while he waited for her to actually begin to dictate the letter she had summoned him to write for her.

Gytha finally sat in a large, stuffed chair next to the dormant fireplace and looked at the priest. "What is your opinion of my son's actions?"

Her bluntness surprised the priest. He moistened the end of the stylus between his lips while he tried to formulate an answer which was neither treasonous or heretical. Gytha had made her opinions clear during her rave, but that didn't mean that she necessarily wanted to hear criticism of her son from a third party. The priest eventually decided to try a fatalistic sortie. "Your son is simply doing his part in the great scheme which Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has laid out for all mankind."

"Bullshit!" Gytha's years with Godwin tended to show themselves most clearly in the soldiers' language she had picked up from her husband.

"My son is simply trying to hold the power he has finally managed to get. He is as unscrupulous and irreligious as my husband was. Hell, Harold is probably worse than Godwin was. At least Godwin paid some lip service to the Papacy. He never tried to take on the whole of Christendom, merely to keep the damn Normans from getting too strong a foothold in England."

The priest listened to Gytha and tried not to show any expression on his face. He firmly believed that there was no proper opinion for him to voice and so chose to keep all his opinions, of the Pope, Harold, and Gytha herself, to himself.

-From After Hastings
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David Heijl
User: David Heijl
Date: 2011-09-13 15:40 (UTC)
Subject: Revisited
first snippet of something I wrote last year but want to edit into submittable form:

The nervelock came unannounced, like a screaming harpy plummeting towards his cerebellum from the hidden depths of the vibrant datajungle. When it hit, it was violent, brutal, and far more painful than any he had experienced before.

The visuals dropped away without warning, and in the absence of the glare of the multi-hued data overlay, he was submerged in a pool of darkness. Already, he felt the searing heat work its way down his spine. A lode of molten lead seemed to be leaking from his brainstem onto the dendrites of all the major nerves that fed into it, and as the dendrites in turn passed on the burning pain to his entire body, Spencer Janowitz hummed through clenched lips. The pulses racing through his nervous system forced his mouth shut, transformed his hands into a pair of claws crushing the sensitive datagoo, and sent uncontrollable shivers through his legs.

Desperate to end the nervelock, he spent every ounce of strength in his heavy body to break free one of his hands, overriding the flash flood of nerve impulses with sheer force of will. Slowly, like a hundred-year-old rising, he unwrapped the bloodless fingers of his left hand from the lump of cold mangled datagoo. In what seemed like the better part of a decade, Spencer withdrew his hand from the pod and reached up towards the back of his neck, forcing his rigid fingers to seek out the tiny recessed nub behind his ear that would bring blissful oblivion. The humming was louder now, he noted somewhere at the back of his narrowed-down consciousness; sweat stung in his unseeing eyes. A lukewarm fluid was leaking down his chin.

Then finally, thankfully, his finger slipped over the cool patch of metal and pressed down forcefully on the tiny emergency switch. His implants rebooted, sending another shock through his body. A brief flash of white and green and then he was released into unconsciousness.
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Jennifer Brozek
User: jennifer_brozek
Date: 2011-09-13 16:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Seamus turned on the lights as they entered their quarters. "Well, what do you think?"

"I think there's more to this little PR stunt than what you and the rest are telling us. How about spilling?" Allegra threw her jacket to the couch as her father loosened his tie.

"I meant about Nellus and your new friends."

She did not hide her sarcasm. "Nellus, that I've been sequestered away from with seven other kids of important people? That Nellus? The one I haven't even had a chance to really get to experience? Love it, of course."

"Don't be snippy." He poured himself a drink.

"Then don't hold out on me."

"I'm not."

"So, if you did know something about this little refueling station base visit beyond the norm, you'd tell me?"

"I'd tell you what I could."

"That's not an answer."

He suddenly looked very tired. "I know. It's the only one I can give you."
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User: torreybird
Date: 2011-09-13 16:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Is that a--horse?" The animal's hooves knocked hollowly against the wooden floor. It stood with legs splayed, braced against the ship that no longer swayed beneath it.

"Meat--we didn't need it." Sven straightened up. "Found it on the ice floe--whole herd of them."

"When will you slaughter it?" Sven's daughter asked, entranced by its wide-set eyes.

"Its mother was big and round." Sven patted his belly in remembrance. "We'll let it grow."

Sven's wife was more practical. "What does it eat?"

He shrugged. "Put it in the paddock. We'll find out."


For hundreds of years, stories have described the raw power of unicorns. Entwined in mythology, the unicorn horn is considered by many to have magical properties. At the same time, legends tell of the power virginal female humans hold over these beasts, and the affinity they mutually hold.

In this groundbreaking report, unicorn researchers across disciplines document the origins of the modern unicorn. Given the scientific name Equus ferus unicornus, these creatures can now properly be described as a carnivorous subspecies of horse. Our original research explains the unicorn's unique diet, and yields surprising insight into the unicorn herds--and virgins--of the Northern Isles.


The boys laughed when Sven's daughter led the menagerie to graze on the common field. "Whatcha got this time, Dottie? Another moose?" Bright red and white pom-poms bobbled on the tops of their knit hats.

Dottie pulled off her mittens to untie the animals: first the pig with tusks, then the heavy-shouldered cow, and then the long-legged deer the boys called "moose."

Harold looked more closely. "I think it's a horse. A short horse." Harold was the tallest. His hat had the most red in it, and even a little blue. He swaggered.

The newest arrival, closest to Dottie on the line, was stubby and furry and wobbly. He was just as young as the others had been when Sven collected them for food, then brought them home uneaten.

Harold walked close to her when she stooped to untie it. Too close--his muddy pant legs threatened her apron. "Is that a horse?"

"So what if it is?" Dottie straightened up--but she was caught between the boy and the animal.

Harold smirked. "My father sails south, where they breed horses to ride into battle. Your father couldn't even bring back a proper horse!" His smirk widened into smile. The other boys guffawed at her father's expense.

Her fist tightened around the rope, mirroring the tightness in her face and throat. She took a step forward--but the foal was faster.

Nose down, forehead vertical, the foal charged.

Harold crumpled to the ground, clutching his groin. After a frozen moment, a whimper bled through the lowest edge of hearing.

Without a word, the two of the boys dragged him to his feet. Even propped between them, Harold could not quite stagger. The gang of boys left the field.

Dottie's face relaxed into a grin. She knelt to scratch the broad forehead of the young animal.

Off-center from a swirl of fur between his eyes, she felt something small and jagged, like gravel. It looked just like a bone, but where no bone should be, jutting out from the wide forehead.

The colt shook his head side to side. He bounced away, then put his muzzle down to nibble the grass, but his eyes didn't leave the girl. Suddenly he nickered, and bounded straight toward her.

Dottie's hands flew up, almost overbalancing her--but he stopped short. Instead, his neck stretched forward until his whiskery muzzle tickled the girl's face and neck.

"I'll call you Nobble," she told the tiny horse, and scratched around the bump on his forehead.

Nobble snorted hot breath on her cheek.

-- excerpt from The Natural History of the Unicorn, a short story which has been racking up rejections. :-)
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Kari Sperring
User: la_marquise_de_
Date: 2011-09-13 17:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
This is from my next book (The Grass King's Concubine, due from DAW, hopefully next year).
"They were not witches. That detail came later, with all the trappings that distinguish folk-tale from plain reality. They were neither witches nor prisoners: those who knew them would claim they were also no ladies. They were, in the beginning, simply exiles and doorkeepers, sent here as a punishment by the Grass King, the ruler of WorldBelow, whom they had served and betrayed. He might have chosen to kill them. That he merely chose to exile them to the human domain of WorldAbove was perhaps an indication of his fondness for them. They were twin sisters, long-bodied and lithe, and, sadly, pungent. Even when they chose to take human form – and they did that rarely – they were not the kind of girls young men dreamed of rescuing. Mostly, they were not human at all. They were ferrets, once favourites of the Grass King in his palace and now captives, bound by his will and their wilfulness to the Stone House and its hidden gateway.
It was not in the least romantic. There was a good deal more mopping than dark spell-casting, ‘Although,’ Julana said pensively, ‘we never did care for spells anyway.’
‘Wrong sort of paws,’ said Yelena, ‘and spells aren’t good for eating.’ It was the humans amidst whom they found themselves who labelled them witches. That was baffling, a little, and predictable. ‘Humans,’ said Yelena wisely, ‘call everything not like themselves magic.’
‘Humans are stupid,’ said Julana."
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They Didn't Ask Me: zoe-barnes-spacesuit
User: dr_phil_physics
Date: 2011-09-13 17:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Doctor - I've got bodies in here," Spaceman Axel Tempest said. As Kerry stepped towards the opened hatch, he set his search lamp to WIDE/BRIGHT and lit up the compartment.

"Talk to me," the lieutenant said.

"I see six bodies," Kerry said. "They're stretched out on standard storage shelving. There's no evidence they used this compartment as a medical or quarantine facility. Two of the bodies farthest from me are in sealed clear plastic under pressure. The others are just laid out on body bags."


"It's rather horrible, sir," Kerry said, trying to maintain her composure. "The bodies are gray, covered in dust, desiccated."

"You mean they're old?"

"No, sir. The spacers' jumpsuits are relatively clean, except for dust and broken debris at the neck and cuffs from the bodies."

"They've fallen apart?"

"That's what it looks like, sir."

"What the hell does that to a person?"

"I have no idea, sir," Kerry admitted.
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User: kellymccullough
Date: 2011-09-13 18:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The rising sun spilled blood across the waves, red and wrathful and full of portent, like the dreams that drove me out into the light. I am a creature of the night, an assassin and companion to shadows. The morning sun is my enemy. I do not seek it out, it finds me. Today it caught me high in the rigging…

From Crossed Blades, Book III of Fallen Blade. Book I, Broken Blade, will be out end of November 2011.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2011-09-13 20:22 (UTC)
Subject: From an outline of a novel.
Patricia Brentham stepped from the white minivan and out into the rain. The airport was empty. Small, regional, the airport was entirely owned by those few who could afford to store, maintain, and operate their own private fleets. She glanced around, the lights above the hangar glowing like so many nimbus circles in the night. Not bothering with hood or umbrella, she tightened her coat around her and stepped toward the limosine.

The window slowly descended, the hum of its motor subtle in the storm. Dr. J.B. Winston looked up at her from the dry interior.

"The babes?", he asked directly.

"Safely buckled into their car seats. I presume you know how to work those?"

"Snippety, Brentham. I hope you're not choosing this moment to develop a conscience in the matter."

Patricia inhaled deeply, looking up into the dark clouds for a moment before replying. "I've come this far. I'm dedicated to the project."

"Excellent. No problems with the transfer?"

"Closed records. The surrogates were well compensated. They are officially my children, though once we get out of the country the legalities become moot in any case."

"Very well. Bring them."

Winston pressed the button that caused the window to close, shielding his expression even further. Striding back to the van, Bentham slid the side door open, staring down into the sleeping faces of the infants, only days old. One boy. One girl. She raised the hoods on the bucket seat to protect them from the rain, and tucked the blankets around them to shield them from the chill.

"Not long now, and this type of cold will be something you never experience again." She touched one soft cheek, then leaned over to stroke the other. Releasing their seatbelts and transferring them, still strapped safely in their carseats, to the double stroller she had purchased months before she then leaned over and broke the prime rule of the project.

"Don't be afraid. You may be the first children in the world who will ever be able to create your own realities".
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Ruthanne Reid
User: ruthannereid
Date: 2011-09-13 20:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Snippet, eh? I can have fun with that. *girds loins*

Alex crouched in the shadow of a large, decorative stone, and couldn't remember how to breathe because monsters with bleeding feet had come to shore.

Their blood stained the moon-white sand. Shadows blackened the gray wattles of their skin and emphasized the unnatural curve of their spines. A hag's chorus, they shrieked at the sky in words of madness.

Alex closed his eyes, swaying against the blessed solidity of cool stone. When he opened them, the monsters had become human women.
Nude and lovely, at least from behind, they stood with slim arms raised and chanted in a sweet blend of gibberish, as if trying to coax the stars themselves from the sky.

One of these things could not be true.

He closed his eyes again, exhaling slowly, faced with the horror of something so much worse than madness. Because if this were real, he could be eaten in his sleep. If this were real, anything might be.

Edited at 2011-09-13 08:55 pm (UTC)
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K. Feete
User: katfeete
Date: 2011-09-14 00:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I have done depressingly little prose writing lately -- almost everything is scripts for the webcomic. I do have this bit of backstory that can't decide if it's comic or prose and will probably end up being a bit of both.... (Previously established: Murdoch is wearing pants and not a lot else.)

"You got something against clothes?" I said.

Murdoch tipped his head backwards over the seat."
Le militare, they give you back just what you wore inside," he said. "Guess I grew in a year. Nothin' fit."

I was -- surprised: even if they booked him the day he hit sixteen, that made him near my age, older than I'd reckoned. And, okay, a little impressed. The Shark Pit, they called the St. Louis pen, and Grifter's Roulette, where you could get done for liftin' purses and land a serial killer as a bunkmate, and the military police none too likely to worry if there was screams. For a skinny bit of kid to come out more than chewed-up bones --

Maybe a lot impressed.

But you don't say that.

"'Grew?' What was you before, a midget?"

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Reynardo the Red: Geek
User: reynardo
Date: 2011-09-14 01:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In the dark chill before sunrise the queue forms,
Breath steaming in the night air as need
And hunger and desperate, desperate compulsion
Pushes the queue further forward, pressed against the door
Awaiting their hit, their comfort, their surrogate.
Overnight withdrawal tremors merge with cold shivers
And the cigarettes lit as a temporary respite.
A passer-by strays too close and the leaders snarl,
Possessive of their position, fixated on their fix.
With the first light of the sun the doors open, a firm voice directing
The queue, creating order, nothing will be given out
Until people stop pushing. The mutter of voices quiets at her authority,
Her starched uniform and name badge her armour against their distress
And her power lying in the doses in front of her.

Slowly the line shuffles forward, each tending their card
With the indelible record of their history of addiction
Increased by one mark as she prepares their elixir.
Their faces, pale, grey, squinting in the light and wincing at the noise
That drifts in from the busy road outside, and echoes from the dispensary
With its stainless steel wall panels reflecting their eyes
Haunted and hollow, patient now that the end is near.
The first orders are processed, latex gloves
An unnatural barrier ordained by legislation
Protecting one from the other. Impersonal glances
And insincere smiles as the leaders preen,
Certain of their relief. She draws the liquid,
Dark, powerful, a legal intoxicant for their dependency.

They pause,
Breaths held as she calls the first recipient.
"Large Soy Latte, two sugars."
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Fluttering Things: bubbles
User: moxie_raqs
Date: 2011-09-14 01:37 (UTC)
Subject: from the Awful First Draft of my WIP
"They have a parrot!" she said, and wandered over to the parrot cage at the end of the bar. He was a scraggly bird with outrageously blue feathers. He cocked his head, regarding her with one malevolent eye.

"Hellooooo?" she said. "Hello?"

"Ya! Ya! Cthulhu fhtagn!" the parrot said. "Bitch!"

"Sorry," the bartender said. "Some of the regulars think they're funny."
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2011-09-14 01:39 (UTC)
Subject: Re: from the Awful First Draft of my WIP
I am seriously laughing here.
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Fluttering Things: growth industry
User: moxie_raqs
Date: 2011-09-14 03:49 (UTC)
Subject: Re: from the Awful First Draft of my WIP
Keyword:growth industry
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jeffsoesbe: yeff yahoo avatar
User: jeffsoesbe
Date: 2011-09-14 04:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:yeff yahoo avatar
The knife refused Gordon's second dollop of cream cheese.

"No. More. Cheese. Allowed."

"House," Gordon bellowed. "This knife is broken."

(from "A Mind Of Its Own", a short I'm trying to use to get back into writing mode)

- yeff
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Nicosian: scully rocket
User: nicosian
Date: 2011-09-15 04:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:scully rocket
(from work in progress, sascha, a vampire, at one of the points where his little quiet life starts unravelling...really rough draft)

I listen to my co workers frantically shouting for blood, for technicians. I stare for a moment longer at the crimson blood on the floor, and a surge of hunger comes over me, and I grab the wall to steady myself as my vision swims. I’m sliding into a horrendous blood lusting state. Its not a new feeling, but I haven’t felt it in a very long time. I gather my wits and grab the gloves and get down to work along side everyone else. I hear someone at the triage desk calling for backup, pages to the blood bank and OR, its full on crisis mode in a flash.

There’s sand everywhere making the floor slippery, slick with blood and grit. And all I smell and see is the blood, the beautiful, wonderful scent and my head swims. The heat in the trauma room is brutal, the AC struggling to keep up with the sheer number of people and lights and action.
I blink, trying to clear my head, and focus on my work. But I can’t stop my slow collapse to the floor, to the cold congealing mix of blood and sand. My hands scramble for something to grip, sticky blood soaked sheets slip through my fingers and I cannot stop the fall. I barely hear the surprised yells as I go down. The floor’s so much colder. The tiles are so nice and cool.
“What a good idea.” I think, in my addled state.
I sink somewhat gracefully to the floor. Gracefully that is, taking out nothing a in my path as I drop to my knees, and then to the floor. I simply crumple to the floor silently. It takes a few moments for everyone else to register what has just happened. Everything from that point starts unfolding in slow motion.

That gets a reaction from my supervisor and my colleagues. Faster that I can move and regain my wits, I'm lifted off the floor and bundled off on a gurney myself and someone sticks an IV line in me, cutting away my scrub top, which is ruined anyway. The needle stick hurts more than I anticipated and I yell, thinking for a minute that it’s Evelyn drinking from me again. For a moment in my head it’s 1876 and I’m dying. Hands hold me down, adding to my confusion. The rational part of my mind that knows they’re trying to help, is warring with the horrible flashback feeling to the night I was killed. I can only wonder what my co workers are thinking, and I struggle to quiet my confused mind.

“Sascha!“ Doc’s familiar face calms me, bringing me back to the present day and presses my flailing arms to my side, before directing someone to wheel me out of the trauma bay.

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my journal
January 2014
2012 appearances