You Can’t Believe Everything You Read On The Internet

Pavitra was glaring at me when I came back to the pool with fresh mimosas. I was still looking at her with honeymoon goggles, and had to admire how good ‘angry’ looked on her golden features.

“What’s wrong, Pavi? Did you want a martini?”

“You know very well what’s wrong, Maggie,” she said, grabbing her mimosa with so much force that I nearly dropped mine.

“I… do I? I don’t think I do,” I sat down on the lounge chair next to her. Continue reading

Escalation

night can’t come quick enough / my faults shine in the sun - Blackwinged Bird by Emm Gryner

I stole her back twice, but that only made it worse.

The first time was a repeat of that stupid prank on the UC San Diego president, this time with Emily seeding the grass in front of the mayor’s house with marijuana. It wasn’t the most brilliant protest for legalization, but it got good press. When the cops showed up, they got her in the car before I grabbed her and we disappeared into a blue-and-red-tinted shadow.

They’d identified her, though, and the trespassing warrant remained on file for Blossom even if they didn’t have a real name attached to the file.

The second time was straight from the paddywagon after the L.A. riot, when they were going to charge everyone with disturbing the peace or something ridiculous like that. I took everyone, because I couldn’t just leave them there. It was nice and dark in there, lots of shadows for me to use.

I pushed myself as hard as I could and made it as far as Pasadena. Some of them thanked me before running off and some of them just left. The disorderly conduct charge ended up attached to the name Blossom as well.

The third time, she went to a demonstration for marijuana legalization in Sacramento while I stayed home with our kid. It was just supposed to be a quiet protest, no supers and no powers, like most of her protest work was after Jacob was born. But one of the cops outside the capital got pushy, and one of the demonstrators pushed back, and when it looked like it was going to get ugly, she asked the grass to hold the cops back.

When they arrested her on the charge of interfering with police business, somebody entered her in the database to see if she was a licensed super, and the power cross-reference brought Blossom up. That was three crimes attached to the use of unlicensed super powers, automatic felonies, and California had just passed a sweeping three strikes supervillainy law that rivaled anything on the east coast.

By the time she used her phone call to reach me, the DSA was involved and she was worried something would happen to Jacob if she outed me too. She told me the charges were ridiculous, she would fight it and get the whole damn supervillainy law brought down. She told me to find her a lawyer.

We didn’t have a lot of money, but I was able to talk to the ACLU and they found us a lawyer who’d take the case pro bono. He was confident, Emily was confident, and I was busy trying to keep the media vultures on my lawn from scaring our son half to death.

It didn’t seem real when the verdict came down, even though the lawyer assured us both that the real challenge would be in the appeals. Emily was to be transferred to a super-class prison despite the fact that her powers were not dangerous.

“Screw nonviolent protest,” I whispered to her as they took her away. “This needs to end.” She nodded. Jacob was crying; he didn’t understand what was going on. I tried to calm him down even as I was fighting to control myself.

That night I put Jacob in his booster seat and drove as close to the prison where she had been moved as I could. I didn’t know what time lights out was, or the schedule of rounds. I waited until midnight just to be sure, made sure our boy was asleep, and then stepped through into the dark shadows cast by the very edges of the security lights.

I wasn’t much good at getting into places I’d never been before, but if someone I knew well stood in the dark, I could fight them. That was what I was counting on to get to Emily, but I couldn’t feel her anywhere. I wondered if it was because of the harsh lights ringing the building, or something built into the prison itself. Whatever it was, I spent two hours in the cold of the shadows, banging against a wall I couldn’t seem to get through.

As soon as I was able to get in to visit her, she explained in a voice barely above a whisper about the lights in her cell, how they never turned off. Someone had been paying attention. I would have grabbed her right there, but the visiting room was shielded with power dampeners.

“The don’t use them everywhere,” she told me when I asked. “Most of the guards are supers, too.”

I wracked my brain for something I could tell her, but she shook her head. “I was scared when I came in here, but nothing’s changed. Someone has to challenge these laws. If that’s me, then so be it.”

“But Jacob-”

“I know you both miss me. I miss you too. But I need you to be strong for me.”

Suddenly there was a guard behind her, and she blew me a kiss as she was led away.

I walked out of the prison, past the edge of the dampener field, and felt my powers wake back up, the shadows washing in around me as I walked into the sunlight. They felt darker than they had before and I wanted to fall into them and disappear, but Jacob was waiting for me. I kept walking instead.

Standing Out

If she’d had the choice, she’d just fly everywhere, but Rehana didn’t really want to give up her secret identity. She’d gotten used to being stared at for her chair, and for wearing hijab, but the attention she got when she was in the air was something else altogether.

People smiled when they saw her wearing her brightly colored jacket. Suddenly the scarf didn’t matter if it was blue with white stars. Continue reading

Guardian Angel

Some churches had decided that all supers belonged to Satan, or that they were modern-day Nephilim, unholy and unnatural. Some said powers meant nothing more than any other talent, able to be used for wholesome or sinful purposes, just another manifestation of free will.

And some, well… I sure don’t feel like a messenger from God, but I guess I can’t stop them.

“Guardian Angel!” I heard the shout as I arrived on the scene of the fire. An older man leaned out of the window of his apartment, one I recognized from church. None of the firetrucks on the scene yet was a ladder truck, so I dove in to grab him, spreading wings of light to hover outside of the window.

“Bless you! Thank God for you!” he gushed as I pulled him out the window. I nearly lost my balance as I took his weight. I didn’t have any super-strength, but I’d been working out specifically for situations like this. Even so, my arms were shaking just a little when I set him down.

Sunday was awkward, as he praised God’s intervention and the angel He had sent. I buried my face in my hymnal and murmured “hallelujah” and tried not to blush. Maybe it was time to find a new church…

originally sponsored by Riha in the Spring Fiction Birdcage

Regional Accents

Martian is my native tongue.
Though I learned English
at a young age, passed my forms, 
I still speak with an accent.
My words are tinged with
alien tones and people stare
when I speak, talk over me,
talk for me, interrupt, anything
to interrupt my own sounds.

I have been called well-spoken;
I mistook it for a compliment 
when I was young. On Mars,
it would have been. Martians
speak cleanly. English words
on a plainspoken tongue sit
heavy, forceful, and worst, rude.

Years of training cannot 
eradicate my accent. I learned
only to stay silent, to apologize
for my flat and honest English.
I am losing my Martian words
and English will never let me
replace them. I can only keep
my voice if I learn again
to speak unafraid and say:
My native language is Martian.
You should learn it
if you wish to understand me.

This poem was prompted by Naomi.

Exciting News

First, it’s the 1st of the quarter, so I am holding another Birdcage prompt call over on Dreamwidth. Feel free to come by and request short fiction!

Second, I am launching a Patreon for my writing. If you’ve thought about wanting to support my writing, now is the time to get on board. Right now I’m focusing on Baggage and a steampunk/fairyland mashup story set in eastern Europe. Please take a look and see if it’s something you’re interested in supporting.

Don’t worry, I intend to keep publishing here as well. Stay tuned for more fiction!

Library: Conflicting Volumes

“I’ve been there before.”

Melody stopped in her tracks and turned back to him. “You’ve been to the Library before? How the hell- I thought the whole point was that no one came or went.”

“That is the point. That’s why I never told you.”

“If you got in and got out, all the more reason for me to try, then, right? So how do I do it?”

Bird shook his head. “It’s not that easy, Mel. I don’t think I could do it again and be allowed to leave, and I don’t think you…”

“You don’t think I what?” she glared at me. Continue reading

Library: Deus ex Libris

The apartment was advertised as a studio. As I move my boxes and bookcases in, they start to form walls. It’s being balkanized into small rooms, nooks, crannies. I wasn’t aware I owned this much stuff. After three hours, I think I can see the back of the moving van.

When I come back for the next load, I can’t.

I begin to suspect I don’t actually own this much stuff. Continue reading

Building Up Immunity

The first package arrived at my door with no fanfare, labelled simply to Makena Kuria with no address. The note said only that he was a fan of my work and wondered if these notes would help. I opened the package expecting a text or perhaps printouts. Instead it was an old, leather-bound journal, worn dark by hundreds of years of handling.

I opened it up and flipped through it, trying to get a sense of what it was about. Alchemical, obviously. Old. Old. The leather was so aged it was only a few shades lighter than my own skin, and the paper was brittle.

Deciphering the Sanskrit took a little while but oh, was it worth it. I took away so many things I was able to incorporate into my own work. I told myself that I’d given up magic long ago but clearly this was alchemy, not magic.

I knew it was bullshit even as I thought it, but it made me feel better.

Continue reading