Lightning

There was something about lightning.

He didn’t know what it was, but it was something soothing. Maybe it was the fact that the sky itself was tearing apart in its own rage and sorrow, such a tempest maelstrom that whatever was wrong in himself was banished for the duration of the storm. His own problems—everything about him—seemed so small and pitiful in the face of the thundering bellows of the gods.

It was cathartic. It was peaceful. It was beauty in chaos, in the utter madness that was the all-encompassing storm.

If anything could survive such an event, it would be cleansed and washed way, and no longer would his problems seem so terrible. At least for a time.

Sitting beneath a tarp, listening to the screaming whisper of raindrops on canvas and leaves, moss and rock, leaning against the warmth of another person whose breaths came gentle and slow as the thunder ravaged the lightning-torn sky, as if each cloudy drumbeat eased a grip on his heart—well, that was ecstasy. Or at least as close as he would ever get.

Rain dripped down his nose from being caught in the downpour earlier, and soaked his hair to his head, made his clothes stick damply to his skin. The air was chilly, but not cold; not with someone next to him, someone else who could draw calm and strength from the power of the storm. Breathe deep the surge of lightning, the crisp perfume of ozone ripping the clouds asunder.

And simply wait.

Magic

They said there was no such thing as magic. They said it couldn’t be possible. They mocked and teased and flung so-called scientific facts in your face until you could no long bear it, then they laughed and pointed when the tears leaked free and you ran away to safety.

Physics, they said. Math. Universal constants. Gravity.

There was no such thing as magic!

After so long hiding in bathrooms, sobbing until your lungs hurt from their cruel jests and open stares, you knew it was time. They would see. You would make them.

No such thing as magic.

Ha!

Soon they would see. You would harness the power of the dark forces beyond their ken, and they would all see!

Of course, hindsight being 20/20, blowing up the competitors’ washrooms at the Olympics was probably not the best place to start. Handcuffs are tight, and nobody believes you when you claim it wasn’t a cherry bomb, it was the dark forces beyond their ken!

… no such thing as magic. Hrmph.

Sun

The sun has no business shining so brightly. Not now. Not today.

Chewing the inside of your lip until your mouth floods with the sharp tang of blood, you turn away from the window and tug the heavy curtains back into place, cutting off the pale morning light and shrouding the room in darkness once more. Each step across the floor feels practiced and carefully chosen, and yet you plod. Your bones are like lead, your skin stone. An effigy come to life, pulled free of its tomb to walk the earth among the mortals.

In the safety of the darkness, you walk across the room, arms outstretched to feel for sporadic furniture and pillars of priceless art. The wood is polished and smooth under your fingers; the marble cool and impersonal.

When your hand grazes the engraved doorknob, you hesitate, hearing muffled voices down, down through layers of wood and brick and stone. Your next breath is heavy, rattling, as if through a skeleton’s loose ribs. It will take courage to leave the dark. Courage you don’t think you have.

It would all be so easy if only you could blow out the sun.

Badger

“Leave me alone!”

“No! Come back here!”

“I don’t wanna! Go away!”

“But, honey, we’re looking at the gorillas.”

“I don’t wanna look at the gorillas. I wanna look at the badgers.”

“They don’t have any badgers at the zoo, honey. Come here, see what the gorillas are doing.”

“Can we see the badgers?”

“No, I—”

“I wanna see the badgers. Let’s go see the badgers. Gorillas are stupid. Badgers are cool. I wanna see the badgers!”

“Honey, I don’t think—hey, where are you going? Get back here!”

“Looking for the badgers!”

“But—”

“Excuse me, ma’am, but is your child looking for badgers? We don’t have any of the kind he probably wants, but we do have honey badgers. Would you like to go see those?”

“Only if we can feed him to it.”

“What was that?”

“Nothing. Honey, did you hear that? There are badgers. Now stop pestering me and let’s go.”

Shock

He could hear the taps running, slowly filling the tub with cataracts of steaming heat, and laughter bubbled up his throat like the soap she was surely putting in he water. Soon! So soon! It was going to be a great joke. His best yet. She would love it.

Besides, it had been long day. She could do with laughter.

Within minutes, the pipes shuddered as she turned off the taps.

Gripping his surprise in his palms, he waited until he was certain she was in the tub, then crept up the stairs, slowly so his weight didn’t creak creak creak.

She was humming. The water splashed as she moved, and billows of steam belched from beneath the door.

Carefully gripping his prize, he opened the door.

She looked up and wiped sticky hair form an already sweaty face, and her brow crumpled in a frown. “I told you to leave me alone. I’m in the mood.”

Her eyes narrowed as he turned his back to her to prepare the surprise, then widened in time with her mouth as he turned and tossed the toaster in the tub.

Kneeling on the floor, he cackled and clapped.

“I only wanted to shock you. Get it? Get it?”

Slime

image from http://www.notsocks.co.nz/
image from http://www.notsocks.co.nz/

 

He paused, long fingers drumming on the shaft of his bow. The silence of the forest greeted him—that silence that never was. Shrieks of birds, buzzes of bugs, the crunch of something moving in the windblown trees nearby.

Maybe he imagined it.

Then it came again, dispelling that thought, and he jumped over the fallen log, long legs carrying him through the forest.

A scream. Desperate. Filled with terror—and maybe something else that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.

Bursting through a thicket, an arrow already nocked on his bow, he dropped to one knee, ready to fire—and froze at the sight before him.

In a large, open glade, a mud puddle seemed to be… consuming a young man.

He paused, staring, then fired the arrow. The young man shrieked again, thrashing so huge, thick gobbets of slime flung out of the mud pond and splattered on the grass and bushes. The fletching of the arrow was just visible in the muck, slowly being sucked in with a wet slurp.

Abandoning his bow as a lost cause, he ran over to the edge of the pond of slime and stretched out one arm. “Grab my hand!”

The young man—so liberally covered in goop that he couldn’t even tell what colour his hair was—managed to extricated one arm and reached, fingers trembling.

The mud pulled him in further, grunting and glugging.

Their fingertips grazed each other, then he caught hold and yanked. With a tremendous grunt, he dug in his heels and pulled, gripping the young man’s wrist with both hands. The slime was powerfully strong and seemed reluctant to release its victim, but after several minutes of vein-popping struggle, it relinquished the boy and sent him flying out of the pond. He landed with a thud, and they collapsed together, panting and soaked.

Leto blinked and looked down at the muddy man sprawled atop him. “You aren’t wearing any pants,” he said, surprised.

In the few spots not drenched with mud, the man’s skin flushed deep, violent scarlet. “Crumpets,” he mumbled, burying his head in shame.

Ignoring it, Leto lifted his head and frowned at the pond, burbling in quiet menace. “What was that thing?” he asked, wiping sludge from his lip.

The man scrubbed his face with a mortified groan and rolled off Leto to slump in the long grass, revealing fine blonde hair and embarrassed green eyes. “You wouldn’t believe me even if I told you.”

Read more about Elfboy and his misadventures with slime over here!

Honey

image from liquorstorebear.com
image from liquorstorebear.com

Kat lifted a hand to shield her eyes from the brightness of the New York summer sun, then glanced down at her watch.

“How much time is left until the monotony of daily life continues?” John asked from the bench beside her, muffled from a mouthful of sandwich.

“Twenty minutes.” Kat glanced sidelong at him, smiling. “You have food on your chin,” she said, and laughed when John’s cheeks flushed crimson and he hastily swabbed at his face. “What’s Mom got cooking for you today?” she teased. She knew it was mean to mock the poor guy, but any man over thirty who blushed like that had it coming.

“Honey,” he muttered, eyes cast down at the wrapping on his lap. “She’s convinced I’m still ten.”

“Oh, Johnny Appleseed,” Kat said in her best Jersey accent, “I’ve got a honey sandwich for my honey baby.”

“And your mother is any better?”

“My mother makes me eat borscht until I’m sick,” Kat said, shrugging and toying with the end of her ponytail. Something shot across the sky above them, and she followed the flight of a large white bird.

John followed her gaze. “Oh. Look who’s come to say hello.”

Kat bit the inside of her lip to keep from grimacing as the white bird descended and she caught sight of the brown cape and green accents. “He means well,” she said, shrugging again.

Norman landed with absurd grace and jogged over, face flushed and beaming. She smiled as he approached, and wondered for the millionth time how his hair managed to stay perfectly in place when he was shooting around the city in the jetstreams. “Babe!” he called, grinning as he waved. “How much time do you have left on your lunch?”

Kat glanced at her watch again. “A little under twenty minutes. Why?” she asked as he stopped in front of them in all his ridiculous muscular glory.

He grinned and tapped the pouches at his belt. “Twenty minutes? Neat. I’m gonna rock your world.”

Kat felt her face heat up and heard John mutter obscenities under his breath beside her. “Norman, you remember John?”

Norman looked at John, eyes round and startled as if he hadn’t even noticed there was another person next to her. “Oh. Hi. I’m Landman.”

“I know who you are,” John said, glaring narrowly up at him. Kat wondered if the scowl was from the sunlight or Norman’s presence. “Your symbol looks like a pile of shit,” he mumbled, too quietly for Norman to hear.

“You’ll catch more flies with honey,” Kat reminded him, and was rewarded with a small smile. “Can you rock my world later, Norman? I have to go back to work soon.”

Unfazed, Norman beamed. “Sure thing, babe. Catch ya later.” With a sloppy salute, he backed away, bent his knees, and fumbled into the sky, leaving Kat and John on their bench in the park surrounded by the remains of a honey sandwich.