Wednesday, October 28, 2015


I noticed her during pre-calc, a pale girl in a gray dress hanging around, peeping through the classroom window trying to catch my eye. I swore to myself and stared doggedly forward, trying to pay attention. The bell rang and I finally met her glance. She smiled, thin as a moon beam and I felt the familiar pang of sympathy. I knew I was going to spend my night helping her rather than sleeping.

I waved at her.  “Okay, okay.”

The kid at the desk next to mine looked at me, looked out the window and back.

“Nut-job,” he sneered loud enough for me to hear but I ignored him. Jackass. I turned off my tablet, gathered up my stuff and shuffled through the crowded halls, thick with the smells of body odor, too much cologne and government-issue disinfectant. Everyone ignored me. Mostly because they're half-terrified I'm going to crack and attack them (Yay for everyone knowing you've been to a Psychologist for hearing voices!) or because I'm a lower life form unworthy of their notice.

Ah high school. These are truly the best days of our lives. Seriously, if that were the case I'd jump off a cliff right now. I cannot wait to get out of here.

I found the pale girl lurking between the mobiles where the grass hadn’t quite been trampled down to bare earth. Most of the other kids had already left the area when I found her, so we had a little privacy. She looked only a little older than I was, maybe eighteen or nineteen. Her hair hung in rumpled ringlets and her threadbare gray dress seemed suspended from rather than worn on her bony body.

"You're the Realtor?" she asked. "Mordecai said you could help me."

Oh God. That guy. Talk about a picky customer. I still have nightmares about him.

“Yeah,” I said. It wasn’t my nicest opener but I was feeling put out again. "I take it you need a new place?"

“I got kicked out of my old one.”

Half my job is this emergency crap. It annoys the heck out of me because it's usually so avoidable.
“Really? Just out of the blue?"

She nodded. 

"You weren’t causing any trouble. No moaning or groaning or messing with stuff that didn’t belong to you? Your housemates just suddenly up and booted you?”

She opened her mouth to protest but I gave her my best “mom” look, the one that says "If you lie I'll know and then I'll be really pissed." I must have pulled it off because she dropped her head to look down at the scuffed buckles on her shoes.

“I didn’t mean to cause any trouble. I was just… bored. And it was rather funny.”

I tried to suppress my smile. If I was invisible I might get off on freaking out people too. Her gray dress stirred on a breeze I couldn't feel. As I watched her looking so pathetic that familiar pang of sympathy returned. Some times I really am a sucker for a hard luck case. Maybe it was her fault she had been kicked out of her place. Maybe it wasn't. But it sure wasn’t her fault she was stuck haunting the same thousand square feet of land until whatever unstated laws of the afterlife determined she could move on.

“At least tell me your anchor isn’t in their friggin’ crawlspace.”

With my skeleton key it's easy enough to get in and out of places. Perk of the job. But getting all the way down into a crawl space or up into an attic to recover some bit of bone or locket (it's always a locket for some reason) without anyone noticing is tricky. I could wait until no one's around, but that's always dicey. A ghost can only survive so long once it's been driven from its anchor. We were already on the clock.

“No,” the girl said with a smile. “It actually got churned up when they planted their roses. I can show you right where it is. You won't even have to go into the house.”

“Great, that’ll be easy enough. Once we’ve got that we’ll have all the time in the world to find something new.”

"Thank you, Lucy," the ghost girl said.

I smiled. "You're welcome. And don't worry. We'll find you a new place you'll be happy in for a long time."

We headed towards where I'd locked up my bike. My mind was already in high gear. Get the anchor on my way home. Homework, dinner, then back out to start showing properties. There was a new development on the north-east part of town that was still largely under construction and unoccupied. They had some great floor plans and it would take decades for people to start thinking “ghost” when things went bump in the night. No one would notice us looking around either. More accurately they wouldn't notice me. It takes a special person to see ghosts.

Some time's I hate being that person. Some times it's really fulfilling. Other time's its just a huge pain in the butt. I guess it all comes with the job, but then so does the commission. And I could already taste mine.


Thursday, September 24, 2015


Another bit of Destiny fan fiction. Image courtesy of Bungie.

Mother tied my wrist to the pole.

Father covered my eye and put the knife between my teeth.

Together they pushed my coracle into the Time Stream.

They did not speak. It was the way.

In darkness I spun, slowly swirled by the ceaseless current. Blind I worked the oar, the feeling the occasional scrape of the smooth sandstone banks of the river against the wood. I am a desert creature. I fear water as much as I love it. My heartbeat thudded against my breast bone, a fist pounding for escape. I ignored it. Turning, pulling, pushing, lifting the oar as I'd been taught, I  gradually slowed and then stopped my spin.

And the current carried me towards my destiny.

I felt the light shift from red and gold to shadowed blue. The air cooled. Echoes closed in around me. And the voices began to whisper. She lies. She lies. She lies. She is death. She is doom. She hungers for ruin. Do not listen. No one can step without creating the paradox. You will end all things in all times.

I shivered under the assault of the cold words of those who had gone before or would go and who failed our goddess. I bit down on the blade in my jaws. I would not fail. I would not listen, not to those faithless lost forever in the past and the future. I would not be swayed. I would succeed.

The light shifted again to red and gold--deeper and darker than before, as if the light were old, weak from fighting its way down into the great canyon.

"Remove your eye covering," the voice rang in my mind from across the chasm of time itself. 

I took the knife from between my teeth. "I dare not. To look on you is to be lost."

"You are already lost. Now you must find thyself. I am thy anchor."

With trembling hands I lifted the cloth from my eye. I drifted in a vast round chamber without entrance or exit. The river still flowed, looping perpetually around a small slick island of stone. A towering dead tree reached up towards the shaft of orange light that trickled down through the curved ribbons of stone forming the ceiling. And seated beneath the tree, she sat. She looked like me, long limbed, and narrow faced, her single eye covered in a cloth of tattered red. The frill on her head stood out in a wide fan crowning her beauty. But where my skin was mottled brown and rough, hers was smooth and glowing, palest blue. Tentacles of light coming form her back wound their way up and around the tree's dead branches. With one hand she held an orb of pure white light which she caressed absently with the other.

As I drifted on the endless river's current, somehow she remained facing me though she did not move. The world moved beneath her.

"I saw your heart in the Passage. It is pure. But your mind... What a lovely mind."

I could not speak in response.

"Others have come and failed, but you do not doubt you will be worthy."

"None serve thee as faithfully as I."

"You are obedient, utterly and completely."


"Prove it."


Her tentacles unwound from the tree and slowly she stood, moving towards me without step or stride.

"I see thy knife. Plunge it into thy belly."

Another might have faltered, might have questioned. But not I. I cut my hand free from the oar, then taking the hilt with both hands, I gazed into that lovely god-face. With all my strength, I rammed the knife into my guts. Pain, red, breathtaking and horrible filled me. My white blood gushed, filling the time stream's course with milky clouds. My savaged guts threatened to burst forth. My legs weakened, but I forced them to hold my dying body up. She had not told me to fall.

She smiled at me, amused. "You are dying, mortal thing."

"Yes. For you."

"Do you see me?"

"Only you."

"No. Do you see me?"

I shook my head not understanding. Again the smile and then the light in her flesh bled away. All she was drew inward, leached away by a roaring, hungering darkness. My eye widened at the transformation and the understanding. Here she was. Here was her true form, more beautiful and terrifying than anything I might have imagined.

"I see you! I see you!"

She became the vessel of glowing pale flesh again, close and smiling, caressing the orb of light.


She thrust the light into my bloody wound.

Pain. Pain. Pain.

I screamed as I was remade. Screamed until my voice was torn away and replaced. And then there was nothing. No pain. No fear. No doubt. Only certainty in my creator.

I looked down on my new flesh. My body had become crystal and alloy. I could see and hear and sense things moments before I had not known existed. I could feel particles of time drifting through the air, sparking against my armored skin.

"You shall vex the universe," she said.

The Time Stream opened and I was rushing away from her.

"Go, my servant," my goddess shouted. "Time is yours to command. Remake thy people to perfection as I have remade you. Teach the universe fear! Go Aethon and do not fail me! Against you, the Light cannot prevail."

Liked this story? Check out my other Destiny themed fiction


Wednesday, August 26, 2015


The story goes that the first golem rose from the stones of a blood soaked battlefield. The blood of the first Shadem’s kin. The blood of her father and mother. They say the murderers of her clan came for her and that the earth itself rose up to save the girl, that it took on the shape of a warrior twenty feet tall., that it didn't just kill them. It destroyed them. 

I believe that part. 

I’ve seen what your run-of-the-mill eight foot golem can do under the command of a kid so grief stricken that they lose themselves in the rage. It’s not pretty.

Some stories say the Shadem was born on that battlefield that day, that the new born cried out and the earth answered. But that doesn’t make sense to me. You must have conscious thought to raise a golem. It’s like… how to explain this? It is like realizing that you have an extra limb—No!—a whole extra body connected to you that... that has fallen asleep. You focus, you scream at the thing to move but its nothing but numbness and prickles. 

That’s why I don’t think a baby raised the first golem. They can’t even control the limbs they can feel. But a kid, one who’s five or six, that’s different. At that age you’re aware of everything around you and if the first Shadem was powerful enough to raise one on her first try she’d have long been aware of the great stone body sleeping beneath her feet.

Kid must have had a shock when that thing first rose. Even when you’ve been prepared for it like I was, it’s terrifying and exhilarating. Oh Great Creator! That feeling when the earth beneath your feet first twitches at your command! The only thing that compares is when you see it rise.

Everyone’s is different. Some are similar but they’re none of them the same. Mine—Aru—is a towering brute with a sort of hook-beaked bird head and massive hands that practically drag on the ground. I like him. He’s scary as an avalanche coming straight for you. I’ll be sad when he goes.

They all go sooner or later, around the time boys start getting wispy beards and girls start getting curves. No one knows why. They say it’s an innocence thing—like being able to ride a unicorn or something stupid like that. But I don’t think innocence has nothing to do with commanding these behemoths of stone. I know, because I’m no innocent. I’m paid well to set Aru against a clan’s enemies. I’ve seen him covered in the blood and gore of pulped warriors. I’ve set him to fight other golems, shattering stone and earth until only he remains and the poor Shadem who’s lost the golem, lays twitching in the dirt in shock, like a someone who’s had his arms ripped off. A Shadem that loses a golem usually doesn’t survive.

No. Innocence has nothing to do with being a Shadem.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015


Seventy-six woke to a world of red and black. A world of cold and fear and pulsing darkness. And for the first time ever, he woke alone.

He sprang from his crystal pillar. All down the resting chamber the eyes throbbed red. Red as blood. Red as pain and anger. Red. Everything else was dark. The pillar lights, the walkways, the overheads. That could only mean one thing:

A call for help, and no one to answer.

Fallen Guardian.

"KIT!" he shouted. At last light. It leaped from the floor encasing him in armor and weapons of glass and energy. Information glyphs winked in patters in his helmet's faceplate as he ran for the Gate room. A call for help had come through containing all the proper key phrases in the proper order. But it had come through almost twenty-five years ago.

"That can't be right." He checked again. Twenty-five years. Someone had delayed delivery of the call somehow. "Why...?" His feet suddenly stopped, noticing something strange before his mind did. The Girl. Celine. Her pillar was empty. For a moment he stared in uncomprehending stillness. She shouldn't be out. She couldn't be out, not if he was... A brief instant of warm hope flashed through him.

A wave of icy panic scoured it from his chest.

The other pillars. They were empty too. Seventy-five--Xian or seventy-four--Mathias. The Girl. Seventy-two.

Forcing his feet to move, he staggered down to the tunnel. Seventy-one. Seventy. They were all empty! He ran. His feet pounded the stones. His heart fluttered wildly, a desperate bird trying to escape the cage of his chest. He skidded to a halt. No. Not all the pillars were empty. After fifty-two--Kona--the guardians were present. He did a quick count. Twenty-four of the others--Celine included--they were gone, gone, gone.

This is wrong. This is all wrong!

He ran on. The control stones in the walls finally re-lit. Then the whole of the Keep blazed to life.
His head spun. His helmet stubbornly told him to go to the Gate. To answer the call. It was his sacred duty. He blinked the messages away searching through the glyphs and codes. There! Another call! And another. Forty message in less than ten years, then the time delay gap.

The glyphs went red in his vision. Another message, freshly delivered, this one only twenty-four years old. Then another. Another. Another. They stacked up before his eyes. Always the same. Always proper. Always from the past, unanswered for years.

"They kept calling. Long after the Guardians quit answering," Seventy-six muttered. "Why?"

Only two answers: A great danger. Or a trap.

He made his way quickly though the passages, down, down to the very lowest sections of the citadel where the weight of the great structure could almost be felt, pressing down, with smothering presence. Here all the tubes and tunnels and lights led, feeding into the slick black slab of the Gate. The glyphs in his faceplate turned green at last--content that he was finally in the right place.

He paused before the smooth stone and stood for a long time, uncertain. None of the others had returned. It seemed unlikely he would. Fear rose up dark, and sticky cold within him.

"I don't want to die."

Celine's face came suddenly into his mind. Years ago she had stood there before the gate, perhaps struggling with the same fears. Knowing that, after so many long centuries Death might await. And she had stepped through. She had been brave, dutiful. A true guardian.

"I will strive to be like her," he whispered. Then straightening, he ordered the Gate with all the command he could muster, "OPEN."

The slick black surface of the stone warmed to radiant white, filling the chamber, the air, his vision and mind with burning brightness. And in the space of a breath was beyond the keep.

Seventy-six stood on a vast and shattered red plane. The altar stone was cracked and blackened, the pillars toppled. Craters some big enough to swallow Seventy-six several times over, peppered the red ground. Their edges had softened with years of wind a rain but the clouded glass glittered in pools and shards in and around them remained, the evidence of heat great enough to melt the sand. Tumbled stones and splintered pillars jutted from the ground like the bones of dead things.

No trees. No grass. No life.

"What happened?"

The wind hissed through the sand, mocking him.

In the distance something flashed with solar brilliance. He sprang into the air and an instant later alighted upon the horizon beside a row of tall posts fashioned like spears from gray metal. Atop each faintly glowing with the remnants of reawakened power were...

He counted quickly. Twenty-two shimmering helmets. Guardian's helmets. Fury reconfigured his armor to Assault Mode.

"If she is alive, I will find her. And if she is dead..." He spun, seeking an opponent, a target, but there were none within view. He brandished his fists and weapons deployed from his armor, ready to strike. "There shall be a reckoning! Hear me! There shall be a reckoning time itself shall never forget!"

Liked this? Don't miss the first and second parts THE GIRL IN THE GLASS and PEN PALS


Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Every hundred years, for one year, Seventy-six did the same thing every day. He woke with the gentle glow of the lamps. He bathed, dressed, swallowed his supplements and then made his rounds through the stone halls. He walked past the green eyes that never turned red (though he was prepared should they ever change), through the garden with its neatly arranged beds of fruits and vegetables, across the crystal stream and through the vast supply house filled with its towers of crates, spires of casks and dunes of bags. When he came to the workshop he worked diligently on the handful of projects that required tending: a piece of machinery that had given out, a crystal drained of power. Once he'd made his repairs he continuing on to check the gates and locks. After that came log entries and failure reports to write, protocols to review, exercise, weapon practice, dinner and a sliver of free time. He usually spent it reading

Then before the lights dimmed for the night cycle, he allowed himself to walk down the rows of crystal obelisks were the others slept.

There were ninety-nine of them, young like himself, scarcely more than kids. They were fair skinned, and dark, boys and girls. And they were asleep, waiting to take their turns as Guardians. He had given them names long before—though oddly he thought of himself only as Seventy-six. He greeted each in turn as he walked down the long spiraling hall counting each glass pillar as he went.

"Twenty-two—Hello, Thomas. Twenty-three—Evening, Eveline," he would say cheerily, continuing on until he reached Seventy-two. "Good to see you Arthur. Sleep well, I'm keeping the watch." 

His heart beat faster and his steps slowed. There, just three slots to the left of his own empty obelisk waited the Girl.

She was pale and golden, the bridge of her nose sprayed perfectly with freckles. Her hair was wavy and blonde save for one lock that was bright red. He had not named her. That seemed somehow too presumptuous with her. He often tried to imagine what her name might be. Once he had thought it something exotic, infinitely unique, and then for a season it had become a flower name, beautiful in its simplicity. Eventually though, she became simply the Girl.

He lingered before her glass tower, studying her carefree face and form. He loved the times just after he came on duty for the year, when he could see how she had changed during her time awake. Little things: her clothes, the position of her body, her expression. Once he had woken to find she had cut her hair very short which saddened him for a time, but her face was always the same. 

"Hello," he whispered. His hand grazed the crystal coffin. He didn't dare actually touch it. "How are you today?" 

She didn't answer.

She never did. Never would. She lay to the left of his glass obelisk in the seventy-three position and his key could only open the right-adjacent number seventy-seven pillar which held a girl called Meg.
Meg was nice enough. They spent three days every year together, between when she woke to replace him and when his pillar was prepared to receive him again. Seventy-six relished their brief time together but she was not the same as the Girl. 

The Girl… She was special he knew. And she would remain forever locked away from him. 

The Girl in the glass.

Liked this? Don't miss the other parts: PEN PALS and WAKING.


Friday, May 29, 2015


Based in part on the supremely cool video game Destiny, where I can be found far too often. Image courtesy of Bungie.

"Master Sola has sent me for your robes," the boy says. His hand rests on the hilt of the knife hanging on his belt. I can see a wiry, toughness in him and a stubborn ignorance. He's one that left the school to join the fighters.

"And what, pray tell, would the Hunter Vanguard want with my robes?" I say.

"Sorry," the boy says and scratches at his nose, looking down at his feet. "Not just yours, all the Scholars. All the robes. The hunters need cloaks."

"Of all the..." I slap the door controls, closing it in his face with a whine of hydraulics. I fume for a moment. Sola has become insufferable. Her familiarity. Her pranks. They're insulting. They demean the labor of what I and so many others toil over day in and day out. I close my eyes against the anger boiling in my skull. I breathe in. I breathe out. Calm. Peace. I must be able to focus.

My mind stills. I turn back to the journals heaped like a dragon's hoard on my desk but before I can take a seat there's a sharp rap on my door.

"Toland says you won't give up the robes."

Sola,  I think. I close my eyes. Calm. Peace. She'll go away.

"I'm not just going to go away," Sola calls through the door. "Come on. Open up."

"Of all the..."

When I finally yield and open the door she's standing, arms crossed, a wisp of a woman, her nut brown hair going prematurely gray. Her thin face is weathered, weary and surprisingly lacking the fury I expect. She's wearing a long cloak of autumn hues. The wire-wrapped hilts of a pair of knives protrude from the tops of her tall boots. A long barreled rifle is slung across her back and a pistol the length of her thigh is strapped to her leg. She must be about to go on patrol.

"What?" I growl.

"Come with me, please," she says. It's phrased like a request but I feel the command in it. I loath myself as silently I follow her through the city to the hanger and into a waiting atmospheric jump jet. We leave the city behind, cruising out over the rotting remains of what once was our world's golden legacy. She has nothing to say until we're airborne.

"You see that down there," she says. "That's enemy territory. Fallen. Hive. They rule that. They are literally knocking on our doors and do you know who goes out there, to push them back from the doors?"

I stare moodily at the broken buildings, the heaps of rusting cars and ancient peeling signs promising a better life on new worlds. I know who goes out. She knows I know. I've argued with her enough times about the risks she takes.

"You're not the only ones trying to make a difference," I say. "We're working on--"

"I know you and the other scholars are working on important things," she says."But you and the other scholars are in the City. My hunters are out in this. By themselves with enemies on every side and only a cloak to keep them warm. They need cloaks more than you need robes." 

I ball my hands into white-knuckled fists. This would be so much easier if she weren't being so blasted calm. We're circling a shattered skyscraper, now draped with dead vines and dusted with snow. I stare down at the gaping windows. I know she's right. It stings. The Hunters are useful. The Scholars... We're a drain of precious resources. "We're so close to tapping the Traveler's power. It has so much potential and it's right there! But we just... There's something between us and all that potential."

"You're the smartest person I know," Sola says, her voice soft, reminding me of those quiet stolen afternoons lying on Black and White Hill gazing up at the cracked belly of the Traveler, just being together. "You'll figure it out."

"Don't patronize me. Scholars have been studying this for almost two centuries now!" If I focus I can feel the power even now, hot as a star's burning core. All that separates me from it is a thin but impenetrable veil. I'm lost in thought, hardly registering the tiny things moving below. I sigh. "I'll see that the robes are delivered."

Alarms scream. A plume of fire jets up from one of the windows. Sola heaves on the controls. Our starboard engine explodes and then we're spinning. Blue energy spatters against the windows, shattering the canopy. Fallen plasma blasts. We hit the building. Steel screams. Glass explodes. The straps I'm wearing slam taught and then there's bright, blinding, breath-stealing pain.

And I know I'm dying.

I'm skewered on a piece of jagged metal, my blood splashing out in bright gushes over my black robes. Those stupid robes. I can't breathe. I can't scream, though I desperately want to. Sola's moving. She climbs across my vision, says something that I can no longer hear. Her hand touches my face, pulls my eyes up to her soot smeared face.

"Stay with me." The words come from a hundred million kilometers away.

I can't. My body is gone. Only pain remains. There's distant thunder, but it sounds wrong. Too flat. Too sharp. Gunfire, I realize. Sola's fighting back. Gradually, even that fades, leaving only darkness and the scorching presence of the Traveler's power.

The veil separating me from the power stretches, thins and then melts away. For a moment, an eternity, there is stillness. I die.

Then a universe of potential, of knowledge and strength and energy explodes within me. I suddenly feel absurd. It was all there all the time, all the answers, all we needed to access the power was right there, waiting to be tapped! Not just for me but all the guardians, all of Earth's children. I grasp it. I pull it into me.

I'm laughing as I reconstruct my body, as I force my heart to beat, my synapses to fire, my lungs to breathe. I leap off the impaling metal. I'm filled with and surrounded in flames. My flesh knits instantly and the world snaps into focus. Fallen charge through the wreck that once was some sprawling office complex. Sola lies on the ground bleeding from a dozen minor wounds, her rifle smoking. Her glowing blue eyes meet mine, wide with awe. "You're alive? How are you alive?"

Streamers of blue plasma streak past as the Fallen snipers open fire. With weak, bloody hands she holds out the rifle. I walk past. I need no such weapon. Not anymore. I leap. I pull the Traveler's blazing energy through the veil and into the air. I hurl it and it strikes with the force of a bomb. The Fallen are sent flying, their very molecules breaking apart from the force of my strike.

The power bleeds away, sliding back beyond the veil. I breathe in. I breathe out. Calm. Focus.

"My god," Sola whispers.

"No, it's just me," I say, holding out my hand. She stares and then slowly smiles as I pull her to her feet.

Liked this story? Check out my other Destiny themed fiction