Someone leave a note for the robots so if they get back after 2012 they know it isn't their fault we went away. Stupid Mayan calendar.
#19 - I scheduled this over three years ago.(Read more!)
Ever the optimist, Janie wore capri pants and a light blouse. Helios blessed her for it. The sun shone down, warming what started as an icky day.
Most of the irritating people she expected to pester her in the office early in the day had planned for weather and dawdled around in a precipitous mood. They never quite made it to her desk.
When eleven thirty rolled around, she grabbed a jacket and headed out to a cafe three blocks away.
Usually the cafe bustled with activity. The threat of rain must have kept everyone away, she thought. Oh. Not quite everyone.
A handsome but unusual looking man with a shaved head and brown skin sat at a table by himself. He glanced at her and grinned.
She smiled and looked away but he waved her over. Janie joined him.
“I’m so glad you came here today. I was beginning to think I would have to eat all alone and here I am spending lunch with a compelling young woman,” he said.
Janie couldn’t place his accent. She couldn’t place him at all but his charm, Oh, his charms.
“I’m Janie,” she said.
“You can call me Rus,” he laughed.
When the waiter came and took their order, she asked if Janie and Rus wanted the extra garlic.
Janie shrugged involuntarily. “No, I take supplements for that. Thanks though.”
“I’ve already had some today,” Rus laughed.
His eyes were always filled with laughter. She felt it ran up his ears, there was so much of it.
The waiter took their order and left them alone.
“Not a fan of the fangs, are you?” he smiled.
She shuddered. “No. I don’t get why people think they’re romantic. Living on the blood of humans … yuck.”
“Some people think the age difference is a little creepy.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Doesn’t bother you as much?”
“No, I’m ok with older men.”
He laughed, heart light as a feather.
They ate a light lunch and Rus charmed her into taking a walk with him.
A loose brick tripped Rus and he fell over into the alley.
For the moment Rus stood in the darkness, he looked … like a wrapped dead body.
“I’m sorry, Janie,” he smiled. “I didn’t mean for you to find out this way. It’s not something you tell someone in the first five minutes you know them.”
“That’s really … weird. I didn’t know mummies … like vampires. I—”
“It’s ok. It’s a shock, I know. There used to be more of us but humans ground many of us into powder to make a certain dye. Only a few of us escaped.”
“Hey!” a voice behind them shouted. “You’re the one who shouted, right?”
She shook her head, “No!”
The stranger swung a shovel with the tag still on it.
Rus’s eyes flashed red.
The man sunk to the ground, dead.
“With powers like that, how could they get you?” Janie said.
“I’m vulnerable if I go to sleep,” he shrugged. “And certain times I must sleep. We were sacred in my time and the kings and royal family still had elaborate protections considering the time.”
“I hate to interrupt you, my dear, but we’d better part and leave before someone discovers the corpse.”
“Tomorrow? At the cafe?”
He smiled. “If the sun is shining.”
On this thirteenth birthday, Joshua’s grandma snuck him into his grandfather’s library. His grandfather wouldn’t have minded had he been alive, but Joshua’s parents might.
“You can have any three books in this library—any at all—provided you read three that I choose first and give me some proof you’ve read them.”
“What? Like a book report?” Joshua loved reading, but hated book reports.
Grandma laughed. “No. I’m sure you’ll have some ideas what to do as proof once you’ve read them.”
Joshua worried about his grandma. She had given him a handwritten book of spells.
It didn’t include any nonsense about meeting with the devil at a crossroad at midnight, but it definitely had spells and incantations.
He set it aside for a few days.
And then he punched a school bully out of school. The bully told Joshua he was going to press charges. If there was any chance a forgetfulness spell Joshua had seen would take care of the situation … well, Joshua would do it.
He gathered the ingredients, practiced the incantation, and tried very hard not to feel silly. The next day, the cast the spell on the bully. To Joshua’s surprise, it worked. Of course, the bully couldn’t even remember his name, but still.
Joshua put the book away for a few weeks just to be on the safe side. Once it was clear he wasn’t going to be blamed for the bully incident, he practiced magic with a fervor.
Joshua had always enjoyed werewolf stories and motifs. After mastering dozens of spells, he came across one to make himself a werewolf.
It seemed like the perfect project to prove to his grandma that he had read the book, too. He had to master spells and potions throughout the book in order to pull it off.
Weeks of preparation went into the project. He set the day before the full moon as his goal for completion. His werewolf charm would let him change whenever he wanted to and with some effort he could stay human on the full moon.
Still, it was traditional.
He asked called his grandma and asked if she could come by the next day. She agreed and he set the spell in motion.
When she came over, he stopped holding the transformation back.
Instead of changing to a wolf, though, he changed to a hedgehog.
Grandma busted out laughing. “Oh, Joshua. I can’t tell you how many witches I know who have become werecats the exact same way. In a few more books, I’m sure you’ll figure out what you did wrong.”
Joshua sighed. He was pretty sure he knew what he did wrong. He ambled off to play with Pete, his pet hedgehog.
Being a werehedgie wasn’t nearly as bad ass as a werewolf but he decided it was still pretty awesome.
One day the prophet of the goddess Krabbit brewed a pot of what we shall call tea. He—his name was Zedula—did this every day and so it’s only barely worth mentioning.
However, just after brewing the pot, someone knocked on his door so hard that the pot tipped over and spilled all over the floor.
Zedula said words which were, fortunately, forgotten.
He picked up the pot and poured the last drippings on the mud floor before starting another pot boiling.
Someone knocked again.
“Go away. No new messages from Krabbit today,” he shouted.
“Can I come in?” a voice said.
“Are you Zedula?”
The voice paused. “No.”
“Are you Krabbit?”
“No, most certainly not!”
“Well, then. You may not come in. Go away.”
The voice returned daily to disturb Zedula’s tea. Zedula developed excellent hand eye coordination and eventually saw the knocks as a sort of tea timer.
After a few weeks, Krabbit visited. She is invisible but showed herself to Zedula as an older Ztedot to Zedula to make their visits more pleasant.
“Hello, Krabbit,” he said. “Just in time for tea.”
Just then, Zedula’s tea timer knocked.
Krabbit’s eyes grew wide.
“Please put your eyes back the way they were,” Zedula said. “They’re quite disconcerting that way.”
Krabbit’s eyes returned to normal Ztedot size. “What was that?”
“Someone who keeps knocking on my door and demanding an audience.”
“Can I come in?”
“See? Exactly like that.”
“What do they want?”
“Well, in mostly. After that, I’m not sure.”
Zedula poured Krabbit and himself cups of tea and then shouted, “Oh, alright. Come in you gigantic butt rug.”
Krabbit maintained her composure. Mostly.
A youngish Ztedot walked in and promptly abased himself before Zedula. The Ztedot kneeled down and began chanting something which sounded suspiciously like, “Oh wise and powerful prophet of Krabbit.”
“Hey, now. You’ll set us off our tea if you keep that up,” Zedula said.
“I didn’t know you had company, prophet,” the Ztedot said. “I can come back tomorrow.”
“No, no. Please don’t. Besides, the only reason I let you in was because—uh, Karulo asked me to find out what you wanted.”
“I want to follow in your footsteps. To be your successor one day.”
“I’m pretty sure you’re doing it all wrong,” Zedula said.
“Please teach me. I’ll do anything you want.”
“What I want is for you to go away and stop knocking my tea over. It seems what I want and what you want are at irreconcilable odds.”
“I—I could make your tea!”
“That would take all the fun out of tea.”
Krabbit put a hand on Zedula’s arm.
“What?” he asked her.
“Let him study with you,” she said.
“But why? He’s the exact sort of person… Krabbit put me here to avoid dealing with.”
Krabbit froze the acolyte momentarily.
“It will blow his gasket a little too much to hear this too early. I think you’ll do a better job of teaching me to deal with the Ztedots if you have someone who treats you the same way they treat me,” she said.
Krabbit unfroze the acolyte.
“Ok, what’s your name?” Zedula asked.
“I’m Merrapput, oh holy one.”
“First lesson: never call me that or any of the other bizarre things you’ve been calling me. Krabbit calls me Zedula. You are no better than she is.”
Merrapput looked shocked. “I—”
Krabbit smiled. “I see you’re too busy today, Zedula. Tell my friends to prepare for a rough winter.”
“Good bye, lady friend of pr—Zedula,” Merrapput said.
“Good bye, Seedling.”
The next day Zedula addressed the Ztedots with Merrapput by his side.
“I have spoken,” Zedula said with sarcastic gravity, “With Krabbit. She says it will be a tough winter.”
Later, Merrapput asked Zedula when he’d spoken to Krabbit.
Zedula rubbed his head. He had the sneaking suspicion Merrapput was a little oblivious.
“You know Krabbit is invisible,” Zedula said. How do you know she’s not occasionally inaudible?”
Anton ordered the LIT and Wilson ordered a fashionable beer.
Wilson started on his beer as soon as the bartender slid it across the bar.
Anton looked skeptically at his LIT.
Wilson laughed. “What?”
“Hotel bars, never quite trust them.”
“It’s an LIT. What could go wrong?”
“Yeah, and I bet the bartender has never heard of Long Island.”
“Dude, why’d you—”
Wilson looked away, jaw agape.
“It’s her, dude,” Wilson whispered.
“Her who? And why are we whispering?”
“Debbie … dangerpants.”
“What the hell? You’re not serious about this are you?”
“Isn’t she exactly what I described to you?”
Anton surreptitiously looked at the woman. “No.”
“Oh, come on.”
“You said she had raven hair.”
“Well, ok, I got that detail wrong.”
“This woman is a natural redhead. Also, you said she was just a little shorter than you.”
“Dude! She’s totally almost my height.”
“‘Dude,’ our bartender fits that description better.”
The bartender—a man with stylishly miss-managed hair and more than a few day’s stubble—glared at Anton.
“Oh, crap. She needs help.”
The woman left her drink on the bar and walked to the entrance, phone in hand.
“She’s calling someone and doesn’t want to be rude. If not being ‘That American’ means she needs help, you should help me first.”
“No, no, no, dude,” Wilson whispered. “She’s doing spy stuff.”
“How the hell do you figure?”
Wilson didn’t answer. He walked to the wall and put his back to it.
Anton watched him stare around the bar and guessed Wilson had an eye out for anyone trying to harm his favorite ‘spy.”
Anton stood up and walked to the bathroom. After he zipped up, he heard shouting in the other bathroom. A woman shouted “Oh, come on, Melody. You know dad always said I’d get the car!”
He couldn’t hear the responses. “Must be talking on her cell,” he muttered.
Anton walked out of the bathroom. The woman Wilson focused his creepy attentions on no longer stood in the entrance.
Wilson nursed his beer, looking straight ahead at bottles of liquor.
‘Debbie’ stepped out of the bathroom.
Anton sat next to Wilson.
“You want to talk about it?”
“Debbie’s real. I swear.”
A club about one and a half meters long.
Its base structure is tleeka wood infused with a preserving regret spell. Fortunately, regret magic has been forgotten so this regrettable weapon can never be duplicated.
The wood of the club has been reinforced with three slender metal plates which run from just above the handle to the uppermost edge of the weapon. The nails which fasten the plates to the wood are rumored to have a regrettable gleam, but it is the opinion of this researcher that the placebo effect plays a role in this fanciful speculation.
Hurd the Mighty commissioned the creation of this weapon after noticing how bright, talented, and annoying Krezzik was. Hurd had no interest in the weapon beyond its usefulness in teaching young Krezzik a lesson.
Krezzik dropped the club on his toes about half an hour after completing the weapon and regretted it instantly and permanently.
The spell intrinsic to the club’s operative magic converts however much regret the wielder is willing to bear into additional force. Since no one wielded the weapon in it’s fall onto Krezzik’s toes, he was obligated to a considerable amount of regret. And, of course, commiserate levels of toe pain.
The club wouldn’t give you more regret credit than you were likely to live long enough to pay off. It rightly guessed Krezzik had a good seventy years left in him.
Hurd the Mighty died in child labor and didn’t leave enough money behind to pay for the club.
Krezzik regretted making the club even more-so. He didn’t sell it, though. The club’s mechanism was forgotten when he died. His estate sold the club to pay off debts.
The first buyer worked for a bank which found foreclosure an easier method of destroying its enemies. It sold the club for what would have been a fairly cheap price for a non-magical club. Urick Velsicn bought the club and was promptly attacked by rival war lords.
The bludgeon of regret determined Ulrick wouldn’t live long and he didn’t. He also died with no regrets.
His eldest daughter, Gamma, inherited the weapon. She was told it had been her father’s favorite, but Gemma’s uncle had stolen his actual favorite: a dagger blade named Yrri. He’d been told it was elven steel. You and I, of course, know it was no such thing.
Gemma was no fool and as soon as she was strong and talented enough to wield the bludgeon of regret skillfully, she challenged her uncle for the blade.
While she didn’t know the secrets of her father’s bludgeon any better then he had, she wanted only enough strength to slightly kill her uncle. She managed that easily and regretted it for about two months. Why she regretted it at all, she could not say. Things had gone well for her in the aftermath of her uncle’s death.
She even found taking over her father’s trips to his concubines quite pleasant.
When she grew old and it was time to pass all of her conquered land, goods, and livestock on to others, the forgotten bludgeon went to the great granddaughter of Gemma’s uncle. The granddaughter knew nothing of it’s history in depriving her of a great grandfather so it was both a kind gift and a final “cluck you” to the man who tried to steal Gemma’s birthright.
Chaffa had occasion to use it only once and didn’t manage to pick it up before being perforated by crossbow bolts. The intruder, Mylan, carried the bludgeon off with her money and a few fineries.
He discovered the power of the bludgeon after killing a fly cracked a mountain, but didn’t discover the connection between the regret and the power until he had accrued twenty years of regret.
He tried to kill himself with the club but it barely tapped him, not wanting to give up the emotions Mylan had inadvertently promised.
For three hundred years, the bludgeon passed from owner to owner making its users powerful, feared, and thoughtful.
Its last known owner, Mick Yearly, intentionally lost the bludgeon on a coming of age quest he intentionally failed so he could become an actor.
We are led to believe he didn’t regret a thing.
Humanity—the rich, influential, and those useful to the rich and influential anyway—left me behind.
Not just me. Millions like me. Poor people and those with no allure.
The meek inherited the Earth but they didn’t leave us much left when we came into our own.
The oceans would kill a normal human and the important people killed so many pieces of the food chain that it’s all we can do to tend the Earth and keep it up.
It’s not all bad, though.
I’m a geneticist. I created a series of useful viruses to modify the abandoned to make up for the holes in our ecosystem.
None of us are unchanged. Some live in the ocean, others replace wild predators. Almost all of us can digest the standard toxins and output healthy soil.
Sixty years since they left and Earth looks almost good again. We look nearly alright. Some of my more adventurous progeny have even built a star drive.
They’ll find the other children of Earth some day.
I’m faced with a choice.
I can unleash a virus that will give my children—my beautiful grotesques—the sniffles but wipe out any unmodified human who contracts it.
Or I can let the people who abandoned us go.
If not for their innocent children, the choice would be a simple one. But if it weren’t for my innocent children, I might not care at all.
The vial slipped from my hands. I reached to grab for it ... but maybe I’m not so meek after all.