Monday, 22 April 2013

High Priestess


A writing prompt from 
and


The city at night was a fever dream with rain-glossed sidewalks reflecting constellations of neon, a gaudy zodiac in every direction, with desperation in the ascendant.    The night came early, though not as early as the rain, and the commuters who had no choice but to pass through these streets did so at a fast pace, heads down, avoiding eye contact with the predators and the hopeless who scavenged on this urban reef.    This month’s fad was fluorescent tattoos on face and hands, shining devils and skulls and hardcore skin art gleaming in every shadow and doorway.   Last month it was scarification and tooth filing.   Every passing season dragged the denizens of this night city further from the likenesses of their uptown neighbours, fast-forward evolution turning the outcasts into something other on the outside, reflecting the changes that the world had carved into their souls a long time ago.

Xam sat cross legged in her alcove just off the main strip, soldering iron in hand,  tongue between her teeth, her latest project on a board across her lap, frankensteining two incompatible devices into one impossible number-cruncher whose sale would pay off a debt or two and maybe keep her alive till the next debt came due.   She ignored the passing foot traffic just beyond the black and white border of her  alcove, she paid her dues to Bosey and Jake and they kept the sharks away from her. 

“I love to see an artist at work,”

Xam looked up at the sound of the familiar Scots accent and wrinkled her nose.  The man standing in the rain was dripping wet, hands in the pocket of his overcoat, greying hair plastered to his face.

“Lucas,”

“I need an oracle, Samantha,”

“No work without payment.  Not anymore.  Certainly not for you.”

Lucas smiled a thin smile.  “Already made.   Gudrun’s free.  Feel free to check, eh?”

Xam narrowed her eyes suspiciously then turned her attention inward… sinking…  seeking… struggling for contact with one of her other selves, far distant in Context.

Green grass, blue skies, rich thick forest, cool grass beneath her bare feet.   She was  taller, healthier as Gudrun, and though her limbs chafed from the manacles she’d recently worn she was strong and exultant.   The distant village was in flames, the evil becoming ash.

Xam looked into Lucas’ eyes.  “Your doing?”

He held up sooty fingers.  “I need an oracle.”

“Alright.”  She lay aside her project and reached into her pocket pulling out a bundle of stolen credit cards, colourful designs, each one different.   A thief’s tarot.  She began to shuffle and breathed slowly.

“What’s the question,” she muttered slapping down one card after another.   Sunlit desert road.  Interlocking circles.  Speeding car.

“Will you help me fight a battle?”

She stopped dealing and looked up.  “The answer’s no, Lucas.  No.”

Lucas grinned his mirthless insufferable grin.

“Is that so, Samantha?” he said and nodded his head downward.  “And what do the cards say?”

Xam looked down and read.   Bastard, she thought.



*
A continuation of Magus and Hermit, though knowledge of that piece is not required

31 comments:

  1. Loved it! And Lucas is becoming fun - can't wait to see more. LM xxx

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  2. Very magical. You've got yourself a new follower!

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    1. Really glad you liked it - and thanks for following.

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  3. I so very much loved this and had such fun reading it! It reminded me of a book I read a few years ago, one of those books you randomly find and pick up and allow it to swallow you hole. I wish I could remember the title (I hate getting old).

    This was such a cool take, turning a pile of credit cards into tarot prophecy reading cards. How ingenious!

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    1. Hi Marie and thanks for the kind words - I'm glad it reminded you of something absorbing - that's a good sign I think :D

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    2. Now if I could only remember the name of that freakin book, I could tell you more about it. I think you would really love it...

      And yes. It is a good sign! ;)

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  4. Really enjoyed reading this...your gritty brilliant description of the city. Sounds like you have knowledge of tarot and internal imagery even if you don't. I only have the latter. Wonderful characters!

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    1. Thanks for enjoying it! And as for the tarot references I'm glad you spotted them. I was quite pleased with Bosey and Jake for instance...

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  5. This is intriguing. I'd like to know more about Xam's "other selves". The imagery is great, I could feel that city.

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    1. She has plenty of Splinters, and some of them may appear here from time to time. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. this was brilliant!
    I was drawn in from the first sentence. The tarot aspect was riveting, her admission that what she wanted and what the cards instructed was so well written.

    I watch Once Upon a Time and this sounded like a scene from it, the give and take of fairy tales for the modern times.

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    1. Fairy tales for modern times are pretty much my sphere of interest, so I'm glad this fit into the pattern. Thanks so much for your feedback.

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  7. What a fantastic blend of technology and magic.

    This truly was wonderful and I'm glad to see it's part of a bigger whole. That first paragraph was beautiful from start to finish and reminded me of the dark harsh beauty of Blade Runner. In that first sentence, 'fever dreams'and this: reflecting constellations of neon, a gaudy zodiac in every direction...

    I loved the use of the trends to set the scene and tone.

    Wow. Just wow.

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    1. You've put a big smile on my face - thank you for liking it and taking the time to comment :D

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  8. "a gaudy zodiac in every direction, with desperation in the ascendant"

    Good lord, do I wish I'd written that :)

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    1. Thanks Cameron, I'm glad to hear that :D

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  9. I liked the Old feel of this, but with a futuristic twist. It reminded me of some of China Miéville's stories... that is a high compliment.

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    1. I hadn't heard of him till now... but now I'm scouring Amazon looking for a good book of his to start with. Many thanks

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  10. I absolutely adored this! I love stuff of this genre!

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    1. Thanks Lori, there'll be more to come.

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  11. My goodness! This was brilliant, Thomas! The opening paragraph is one of the best I've ever read!!

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    1. :D Valerie, that made my day, thank you

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  12. "constellations of neon, a gaudy zodiac in every direction, with desperation in the ascendant" - made for quite the nighttime display with its setting doing a wonderful job of setting the tone, as well. So many interesting dynamics in the "other selves" and the strong hint that she'd follow the cards over her own desires, as though her will wouldn't allow her to defy fate. Most intriguing...

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    1. Glad you liked it - there may be more of this story to tell

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  13. I love the use of the cards. That is a completely unique take on the photo.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer, it was the first idea that came to my head when I saw the photo which probably says a lot about how my mind works.

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  14. When the piece started, your descriptions put me in mind of Frank Miller's dystopian view of Gotham. Then you drew me in with the oracle, reluctant as she was, she could not resist a reading. Great job!

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    1. Thank you - Poor Xam knows there's no point trying to swim against a current that strong...

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  15. I really enjoyed this! You drew in with your description of the city. Then into Xam doing her work. I liked how you described her, like "her tongue between her teeth." As someone who has that habit when intensely working on something, it made me smile.

    The interplay between Xam and Lucas was excellent, as was your take on the pictures:~)

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    1. Hi Sara

      So sorry I didn't respond before now, for some reason I missed the new comment & now feel dreadfully ungrateful - I'm really glad you liked this story, and thank you for commenting

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