Mul, or, someone who shines in the heavens.

“What?” says a man she loathes. She appeared on top of his sanded oakwood desk, scattering pages of words he plagiarised from his students.


“…So, in conclusion, the current literature on the irrigation systems employed by Sumerian farmers around 1700 BCE has underestimated the importance of the smoothing effects of shod oxen’s trampling efforts, exaggerating the efficacy of the eight-tier furrow system, which, while important, in no way accounts for the shitty fart turd man — ”

Red-faced and breathless, the speaker blinks at the words. He finds an audience blinking back at him. The speaker tugs at his collar and his clip-on tie falls off.

“Excuse me. There, ah, seems to be a misprint.”

Washed up on stage, the man is too dry to spin it as a joke, and after two clearings of the throat and three attempts to restart the sentence, as if jumpstarting an impotent car, it is too obvious that he hasn’t memorised the words. He excuses himself off-stage to the sound of a single pair of hands clapping hesitantly, just once, before stopping. A woman witnessing this disaster slowly recedes further off-stage, hiding herself, shoes showing, behind the red velvet of backstage curtains, until she hears him finally marching away. Both know very well that she’s the one who wrote that research speech for him. She stayed up till 5 AM to do so, after he sent her an urgent email at 11 PM. And, simply enough, in the dead of night, what’s on anyone’s mind worms itself through social filters and splats down on print like a ladleful of gruel (thankfully, she’d fallen asleep before any real expletives came to mind).

 

She treads carefully in escape, passing a number of pencil-biting and nervous-ticked colleagues and curmudgeons waiting for their turn to prove they have the most interesting thing to say tonight, about, for instance, the influences of Sapphic poetry on the formation of the Hellenic league, a re-examination of the names for coloured dyes middle chronology Mesopotamia employed, and other grab-bag attempts at classicist relevance and what-have-yous. Academia is a ship sinking in an ocean of sweat, and it smells just as muffled.

Finally, the woman sees the land-ho of her predicament. The humming green of the emergency sign and the hurrying figure, presumably leaving in the same manner any other does. A symbol of universal danger, though it is never shown what this nameless runner is running from. A beast, a fire, an army? That’s too specific, isn’t it — these are things you could possibly face and fight and defeat. So, what else to run from but himself? The figure is a sign is the signifier — and he won’t be safe even when he’s left, because, paradoxical to his own existence, he is required to remain in danger. Which is more or less what happens to the woman, who finds herself staring at the disgraced professor.


Continue reading Mul, or, someone who shines in the heavens.

A parable about the importance of having a wizard’s apprentice

“Hey, I made dinne–uhhhhhhh what did you do.”

The workshop, usually equipped with machines and materiel for the making of magical media, now also has a hole punched through reality. It’s seeping copious amounts of slime and that is definitely the worst thing a trans-dimensional doorway can do. Thematically, it’s the next logical step when it comes to Magicraft outfitting, but remember: the act of surprise is a more honest compass than the rational.

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For what it’s worth

When a commenda was formed,
a swan feather and a handshake,
maybe a smile between the two,
officiated a single trading mission.
(An unofficial finger found its way
onto a pair of eager lips, exploring)
Outside that dusty Venetian office,
the sinking edifice becomes a feeling:
hope, confidence’s pendant. Though
it is anxiety that stops its swinging back.
One stayed precociously with the wares,
the other stayed with a silk heartache.

Continue reading For what it’s worth

Blissful

“The Dynasty has brought civilisation to the lowest corners of the galaxy. The truth of history fixates on our technology, our culture, our compassion. Yet, as you well know, there are some who would reject our native kindness. The Mutiny happened on this day, six years ago, an atrocity of betrayal. 13 of our discovered planets gripped their swords and slashed our Throats. They must be made to understand that only mercy will be met with mercy. And we will teach them through you, recruits, as you will be made merciless.”

Six years ago, I enlisted in the military. Two years later, I graduated as a pilot. Both ceremonies had the exact same set-up. Marshal-of-stars Goldenlove reading the same speech from a sheet of paper (even mistakenly saying “six years” again), a proud Ebru beside me mouthing along with the speech, Eeves smiling and waving despite the fierce scowl I shot him. Even the cheap plastic chairs that hurt my ass were exactly as I remembered. The only difference was that this time around, fewer seats were occupied: 87. 87 people didn’t survive, and none of their families were eligible for any recompense or grief leave simply because they were only recruits.

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Where he deserves to be

Flames in the air and steel in his hands, he moves as if he has mastered both. The constant heat enwreathed the workshop in a similar sensation as a sousland pleasure parlour – of intensity, proficiency, and purpose. No bigger than a wagon, between the entrance and the furnace lay a strewage of raw materials, sacks of sand, and flasks of oils labelled with penmanship teetering on the brink between logographic and proto-language, providing little in the way of comfort or an atmosphere conducive to decorum and posture. The blacksmith cocks his head at a small chairless table used for conducting awkward business and which, upon closer inspection, is just two anvils not even placed neatly together.

“With you in a sec.”
“Blacksmith Tewfik, I come on urgent business.”
“Yeah, and I’m runnin’ an urgent business. Be with you. In a sec.”

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Minoes makes the most of it

The first denial the young prince had ever received was, “Don’t open the door to the dungeons”. So unsurprisingly, the first thing the prince did when opportunity presented itself, the universe’s way of saying ‘teehee’, was to insert and turn a key. But to do so, the pampered royal rascal had to elude his caretaker’s ever-watchful gaze, a retired military scout once known as The Cat in part due to her sharp senses, and even now she retains that title, but only because she enjoys taking catnaps in her rocking chair.

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The adventures of DICK HARDBOILED in Neo Noir Dark Noir City

Rain pours from clouds like malt whiskey, except it’s water. This is my city. Neo Noir Dark Noir City. It’s always been this way, and it will never stop raining. How did I, DICK HARDBOILED, end up here? That’s the thing: I’ve never left or known anything else. My office is gray and glum and I call it home. I haven’t cleaned this place in 36 years. Hard to believe I’m almost 37. Time goes fast, chain-smoking, crime-fighting, narrating a neo-noir story.

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