There are things in the dark

The only rule in the orphanage, other than the golden one, was don’t open the window after dark.

Xander didn’t want to. None of the children in the orphanage wanted to. Not with the Night Children tapping against them all night, moaning. Let us in. Please, let us in. Help us.

“What do they need help with?” a little girl asked.

“They don’t,” Xander told her. “They just say they do.”

For a little while, Xander worried the girl might be too concerned for the Night Children. That she might open a window to let them in. However, she was just as terrified of them as everyone else.

Xander tried to sleep. The children’s rooms were the ones without windows. Therefore there would be no accidents at night. And they could get some sleep, without hearing the Night Children’s pleas. Xander occasionally got up for water and would stop near one of the windows. Let us in, please. Help us, let us in.

The windows were covered, as they were every evening before the sun went down. An adult, as always, sat up in the hall, dozing in a chair. He came to sometimes, seeing Xander standing there.

“You all right?” the man asked kindly.

Xander nodded, showing his glass.

“Good night then, Xander.”

Xander went to bed with their water. Only at that point did they wonder how the man knew their name.

Then Xander wondered why they didn’t know anyone else’s name.

Keep doing it without me

“Live.”

He held his hand, trying not to crush it. Never before had the other man felt so brittle. Never before had he felt so strong. He hated it. It was all in comparison.

“Laugh.”

He tried to at least smile, because that was what the man beneath him was doing. As he looked down, he realized how ageless his friend looked. They were the same age, yet for some reason the other didn’t look young, didn’t look old. He just looked.

“Love.”

He would have kissed him, but then he wouldn’t be able to talk. More than anything, he needed to hear his friend talk.

A rasping breath. A smile. “Just… keeping doing it. Without me. Okay?”

He agreed, because he’d never been able to deny his love anything.

Parking ticket

Sometimes he felt like he was diagonally parked in a parallel universe. It wasn’t supposed to be literal.

“All of my documentation is perfect,” he begged the officer.

The alien made a sniffing sound, but without a nose it was hard for him to tell what it actually was. “Nonetheless, you have parked your ship incorrectly.”

He looked at the signs around. There they were, in plain sight, telling him he had done everything correctly. “I don’t follow.”

In one fluid motion, the officer stuck the ticket to the dimensional traveler’s forehead. “Pay the fine without time travel involved. They’ll know. They always do.”

“I don’t have a time travel license-”

Perhaps it was a shrug. That was what the alien did. “Yet. Who knows anymore.”

That left him to look at his ticket as the officer walked away. He swore. Maybe he should get a time travel license and try, just for the heck of it.

Bird

The fall sky was full of clouds and migrating birds, but the flocks were so massive I couldn’t tell where one begun and the other ended.

“Ever watch the Birds?” my cousin asked me, always looking for an opportunity to lessen the gravity of a moment.

“Ever watch Birdemic?” I replied, always looking for an opportunity to one up her.

“Where do you think they’re going?”

“South.” My response was quick. Where else would they be going? That was always the answer.

My cousin’s stare at me caught my attention. “We are south now.”

And it was true. We had long since gotten south. But they they were, leaving the warmth of here and going further. I stared that way.

Then I looked north.

Emine (pt 9)

As hard as she tried, Emine still felt nervous around the dragons.

How could she not? They could crush her with a single motion. They could do so even with the strongest person. They could do so to Sanni, who she believed could probably wrestle her own father into submission. Emine still felt as though the dragons looked somewhat unnatural. Avian serpents with mammalian features. A few of them moved like spiders or centipedes. Emine’s mind swam.

As long as she kept working though, she could handle it.

“My Farris needs assistance.”

Emine tried not to squeak. She hadn’t even heard Andra approach. He didn’t even blink as she jumped and then tried to turn around as though she hadn’t been startled. “Um, I’m tending to Arvid right now while Ramar is gone.”

Andra snorted. That was a pretty consistent expression of frustration that one could say they might share with humans. “True. Well, it can’t be helped. Do you know if Sanni is free?”

No Unbonded was truly free – there were just less urgent tasks to do. “I believe so.”

“Good.” Andra scampered off, the sound of his talons in the cavern a distant echo. Emine wondered how he could be so quiet. That in mind, she returned to Arvid.

Worthlessness/Love

Every day, I awaken in my bed and
I await a time I can throw away this life and
I can be with you

I start to sing as they wish of me
And imagine a moment where I’m not the problem of me
And you

And when you laugh I pretend I am
Not as heavy-hearted and I can give everything I am
Not when I’m with you

Not when I see how much pain there’s in all
What good am I when not enough is all
What I give to you

What is this sound?
Sound that I can’t hear
Hear what I’m saying
Saying words for you

You have given me more than I could ever ask of you
Please don’t lose a moment that I can spend with you
Please be you

Please remember that despite being selfish, what I
Want is for you to be happy, so be happy and ignore that I
Want you

What is this word?
Word I shouldn’t give
Give you the best part of I
I can give to you

True colours of space

Holidays and vacation made her nervous. Her everyday routine was gone and someone else dictated when and where she would be. She felt untethered.

“You spend all your time working,” he said. “All your time in charge. Let someone take care of you for a little bit.”

Because he was her friend, she agreed to it. She wasn’t upset or anything. Just nervous. What would happen while she was gone? What if everything fell apart?

She opened her eyes when she felt the ship pull into orbit. She had let him control everything. It was only for a little bit. She was tired.

“Remember the time we saw those pictures of the Aurora Borealis?” he asked her.

“Yes.”

He opened up the filters. “This isn’t like that at all.”

And when she saw what true colours could be like in space, the nervousness was gone. She was untethered, she was free. She had no regrets in the world.

Until the day it stops and then what

A child’s birthday is a joyous celebration of beating the odds. An adult’s birthday is a stark look at how much to society they contribute, how much they consume.

He realized this when he was sixteen. His sister had just turned five. The happiness which suffused his family was in stark contrast to how they treated him five days before, when it was his birthday. Time to do what his family always wanted him to do. Take on the mantle, get married to the girl they had chosen, all of those things.

He hated it. More than he hated his sister. It wasn’t fair, she would soon enough be thrown into this cycle as well. She ought to enjoy birthdays while they still meant happiness.

“There you are!” The woman, his fiancée, grabbed his arm. He tried not to physically recoil.

His duty. His duty. He forced the most genuine smile on his face. It fooled everyone but himself.

Passage of Time

The days passed by with increasing speed. Every step the research took them forward, the more giddy they all became.

Except for the head scientist. He was as taciturn as ever. And noticing that was what kept her from joining in the excited joy of the others. Even the most reserved of them couldn’t refrain. They were so close. Yet none of them could have been as reserved as the doctor, who never smiled. Who never had a good thing to say. Who watched their process as though something might go wrong.

Nothing can go wrong, she told herself. He was always like that. He might have been in charge, but he was also always like this. His seriousness didn’t mean anything would go wrong now. It didn’t say anything. His closest assistant was not fazed by his mentor’s emotionless nature at all.

She bit her lower lip. It was fine. They were close. So very close.

The days passed by with increasing speed. It was too late that she realized it didn’t just feel like that, but that time was passing by much too quickly and no one had noticed.