❝Everyone warns me the Bone Beach is not what it sounds like. They say there’s no point in visiting, that no one understands its strange name.❞
It looks like a regular beach—pale water under the persistently cloudy skies lapping at the slightly pebbly sand at a regular rhythm, washing up the occasional piece of driftwood. It’s utterly empty, and remains so the whole time I’m there, even though the town’s just beyond the ridge leading to this beach. My only company is the v-formations of birds heading to warmer climes that pass overhead, calling mournfully to each other.
I set up camp out of reach of high tide, and I only leave to get necessities, like food that I don’t have to cook on my campfire or camping stove, or a hot shower at the community centre. On one such excursion, a few days after I arrived, I asked some of the locals why the beach was empty. Sure it was the tail-end of fall, so I wasn’t expecting swimmers, but I hadn’t even seen anyone out walking their dogs or enjoying a stroll.
Well they do nowadays, anyway, but it’s a trend that first started with me and Seph.
See, I bring the dead back for a fee and for a cost, which are two different things. The fee is my going rate of three gold coins per body—real gold, mind you, though I don’t care about when or how they were minted. The cost though; that’s not about me, that’s about the necromancing.
I bring back someone who’s died, who’s been to the Other Side, and not only that, but I bring them back in their original body, no matter how far along in the decomposition process it is.
(Hey, I’m a necromancer, not a rejuvenator. They charge a hell of a lot more than I do and for good reason.)
❝When I was only small, I forgot how to sleep. The town council said it wasn’t my fault, that they had the perfect job for me.❞
The Exterminator needed an apprentice, they said. He was remembering how to sleep, so it was imperative that he train up a replacement before it was too late.
“You’ll be perfect,” they told me.
My parents didn’t really have a choice but to let me take the job. It was that or have me suffer from sleep deprivation and let our town be overrun.
Now I don’t know about where you live, but where I live, there’s always an Exterminator and it’s always someone who doesn't sleep, either because they can't or because they've forgotten how to.
It's once again my favourite month of the year, October! And as I did in 2019 and in 2021, I'm dedicating this month to writing short responses to various prompts. However, I'm not using the original Fictober prompts; instead I'm going to pull inspiration from the wonderful Deep Water Writing Prompts over on tumblr!
Every day (if all goes to plan), I will write a short post responding to a different prompt from that blog, with source links and any relevant images. The beginning of this month crept up on me, but luckily, I have Day 1 already prepared, so keep an eye out for that!
I hope you're having a wonderful October. Are you doing any writing or reading challenges? Let me know!
It has been...a year. Apparently. As this tumblr post put it:
So anyway, it's December and 2022 is around the corner, which means it's time for my year in review! (Shoutout to Hyba for reminding me this is a thing I can do lol).
I did something similar last year and it was fun to see how much I accomplished or what changes occurred that I just plum forgot about, because I have brain like swiss cheese (full of holes).
So remember how I said I wanted to write an isekai novel featuring an "oracle" figure on the run who doesn't actually have the gift of foresight? Well, it's rapidly developed since then into something Bigger™.
Many years ago, when I was still as obssessed with fairytales and folklore retellings as I am now, I dreamed up an Alice in Wonderland retelling that...never really got off the ground.
(Sidebar: it just occurred to me that retellings are the root of my love for fanfiction! I can't believe I didn't realize that until literally this moment!)
My last blog post on the isekai/portal genre naturally got me thinking about Lewis Carroll's story, which got me thinking about my retelling idea, and BAM! It occurred to me I could merge my old story concept with this new one!
For a few years now, I've had this image in my mind of an oracle figure sitting in a dank little cell, and then that same oracle figure on the run, being hunted by pursuers. I think it came about after watching Minority Report (2002) years ago with my dad. These two scenes were the beginning of a story, I could tell, only they were lacking something to truly bring them from the 'spark' stage into 'development' mode.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I was talking with my friend Hyba about isekai stories (specifically in webcomics). I have long been a fan of portal and isekai stories, and I love mashing up tropes and adding twists to them. Talking to Hyba got me wanting to dabble in this genre.
For those who don't know and don't want to click on the link, isekai is a Japanese term for a genre of story where a person is transported into another (often fictional) world; sometimes this involves reincarnation. Some of these stories are portal fantasies, however not all isekai stories involve portals.
Some examples of both that I've personally enjoyed include Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, John Carter (2012), Inkworld, InuYasha, and Fushigi Yugi. (The latter two are manga turned animes).
"Take me with you," her reflection whispered, and the girl only shook her head with a finger to her lips, and turned away to smile at the king who'd come to court her, though she was but a peasant.
"Take me with you," the girl in the mirror begged again, as the now-princess laid her hand in her soon-to-be husband's, and was led out of her old home. But the princess turned her back on her image, and pretended she did not hear its whisper.
Much time passed, and the princess became queen, and she had a child with skin white as snow, and cheeks like blossoming roses, lips red as blood, and hair black as ebony. And the figure trapped in the glass called to the queen, for the third time.
And it said, "Fairest, dearest, now will you take me with you? For you promised to free me if I gave you everything you wanted, and so you have found love, and become queen, and you have borne a daughter as beautiful as you are, and now I am owed my freedom."
But the queen did not want to free the being in the mirror, for she knew there would be dire consequences, but neither could the mirror be destroyed, or all the queen had would be undone. So instead, the queen carried it deep into the woods, to be forgotten in a dark place where no one would venture and find it.
Only even without the queen to cast an image on the mirror, the being within it had enough power to call out to any who would hear, and the world is not so large that its hidden places long remain so.
And so one day, a girl found the mirror, a peasant girl like the queen used to be, and as she beheld the mirror and the image of herself it cast back upon her, she heard a voice whisper,
"Do you wish to be the fairest of them all?"
"Don't ruin this," she begs me, "Everything we have, everything we've worked for, all those years, all those lives—we sacrificed them for the greater good and you want to just—just--throw it all away?"
I stare out at the ruin of the city, the burning and the smoke and the bodies, and then down at the unassuming stone in my hands, which has the power to change time itself, for all that it looks like any old meteorite.
"It's already ruined," I tell her. "It was ruined the moment we killed the first person to stand against us, to see us for what we are."
"They call us monsters," she cried, "Monsters, for trying to save them."
I look at her then, feeling so very numb inside, unmoved by her tears. "Save them?" I repeat, "You really think we've done that? That we haven't just made things worse?"
She doesn't answer, mouth pressed tight. "Only because they fought us," she says, her voice shaking. "Only because they resisted. We can still—we can fix it, we can salvage it all. None of this matters when we can just undo it. That's what the stone does—and you want to erase us from time, rather than the real monsters of history?"
"I think," I say slowly, "That we've proven we can't be trusted to do the right thing."
For a moment I think I've gotten through to her, as she looks at me, at the stone, and then at our surroundings. But then her expression hardens, loses its pleading edge.
"We're heroes," she spits. "And we're going to remake the world in our image, like we always planned. No more hunger and disease. No more disparity between the rich and the poor. No more war. Not after this one."
She raises her hands, lets the light of her power begin to pool in her cupped palms, bleed into her eyes. "I won't let you damn us all," she says.
If I could still feel anything, I'd be heartbroken, presented with this final proof that who we are, what we wanted, has become so irrevocably twisted. She would never have stood against me before.
But maybe that's the problem. Maybe she should have. Maybe we wouldn't be here if we hadn't been such a united front against all the injustices of the world...until we became the greatest injustice.
We're not heroes, not anymore.
And we need to be stopped.
So even as she flies at me, ready to destroy me like we've destroyed everything else, I let the stone fall.
And too late she sees that I've cracked it open.
I hear her scream in wrath, in despair, in horror.
And then time is rewritten, and we are erased from it.
Tilda was minding her own business, nose buried in a book, when the curtain she was hidden behind was suddenly whipped aside and a man threw himself into her little alcove, yanking the curtain closed behind him.
"Excuse me," she hissed, and then the scoundrel had the audacity to clap a big, brutish hand over her mouth. Her outraged yell was thus muffled. The man wasn't even looking at her as he accosted her; his head was turned over his shoulders, giving all the appearance of intense concentration.
After a moment he relaxed and drew his hand away--just as well, as Tilda was about to kick him in an unfortunate place in order to force herself free of his grip.
"Explain yourself, my good sir!" She just had the presence of mind to keep it at a whisper.
"I don't have to explain myself," the man responded, also rather quietly.
Ah, American, she thought sourly, noting his accent. Of course.
After a moment, where she gaped at him and his horrible breach of propriety, and he simply studied her in return from behind his wire-rimmed glasses, he said, "Why are we whispering? Or rather, why are you whispering, as I know why I am?"
She blinked at him, scowled, and snapped her still open book shut. "My reputation would be irreparably compromised if I were to be discovered hiding behind a curtain with a man," she snapped, though honestly, this was common sense to anyone who wasn't American and thus, utterly lax with their morals.
And then, as curiosity got the better of her, "Why are you whispering?"
The man grinned roguishly and smoothed a strand of his fair hair back from his forehead. "I'm hiding from an enterprising Mama," he drawled. "Twice I've caught her trying to bewitch my tea." And then, offhand, "I'm a duke, you know. Can't tell you how many people have tried to snare me with a love potion."
Welcome to the blog!
Featuring prompt fills, excerpts from my wips, posts about my writing process, and more.