Sensing Autumn

Seasons darken and come round again
to this dark time,
where the candles come out,
and all round are spectres of the past,
of what might have been,
of cold drafts and dark thoughts
and an inability
to get and stay warm
for more than five minutes.
Fingers stained with pomegranate juice,
tongue scarred with cinnamon,
eyes squinting in the greasy soot
of tallow candles,
we sing and dance,
rattling our skeletons,
until the sun comes back up,
and puts the flesh back on our bones,
and makes us opaque again,
and full of the scent
of autumn leaves,
and the growing cold.

Her Dreams

In truth, I never should have climbed the tower, and let us into those rooms. I never should have let Ianto kiss the sleeping girl; he did not wake her, but he woke what had been in her dreams.

He did not rouse her from her slumber, but instead, he shook the shoulder of those things that had been curled within her mind, those things that scritched messages on the inside of her skull, those things that whispered within her, and hollowed her out so that their shrieks would echo within, and then fall, clattering, out of her mouth.

He kissed her, pulled the shining pendant from her throat, and then he ran.

I stayed, rooted to the spot, full of horror and wonderment, and watched the sleeping girl’s skin blister, fade, fall open, and the meat of her dreams grew thousands of legs and a pincers, as it fluttered glistening wet wings, and chirpbuzzed.

I stayed, and watched it crawl the stones to my boots and then glide up them, a thousand thousand thousand legs swarming over me, a wave, until the pincers took hold my teeth and prised them open.

I swallowed down the sleeping girls dream, and felt it fill me, cold and dark, and then I went down the stairs to follow Ianto’s footsteps. I could see the warmth of them, where he’d passed, a fragrant trail of heat and fear.

Her dreams were my dreams now, and I wanted my shining pendant back.


We set the fires as the sun goes down, one here, at the twilight’s edge, the cast back the darkness. When it is high enough, when the earth has turned enough, at the next ridge, they let theirs flare to life, and so on, and so on. Our world is ringed in dots of fire, in points of flame that keep away the deepest of the dark, and give us strength and courage enough to dance around the flames, casting our own shadows into the night.

My people believe if your shadow stays too long in the dark, it brings some of that dark back with it; because your shadow will always return to you, you will forever hold a touch of that darkness.

Because of our knowledge, because of our strength, we were a mighty people, with armies that covered the sands and the grasses, and we looked to the mountains and the oceans and declared ourselves gods.

We did not know it, but those proud days were our last; by the end of the world turning, when the stars had returned to their places in the sky like the shadow must return to the form, we would be scattered like ash to the wind, and the proud Jodaan would have nothing left, not even cities, to remind any futuregoers that we were once here, walked these stones and drank these waters.

In The Final Throes

There is a stutter, briefly, in her mind’s eye — she is looking at him, and yet through him, and she cannot comprehend.

There is a sting, a sharp cut to her cheek, shrapnel slicing a red line over pale skin.

The hole is wide enough that she can see a flash of color behind, and then it’s all just red, grey, red, pink, red, nothing but red, and he stumbles, falls, and lands in her arms, jaw working, body thrashing.

There is nothing else to catch her, and so they tumble to the ground; she sits down hard and utters a sound that feels almost like a laugh. So absurd — this isn’t happening.

He isn’t laid out, head in her lap — what’s left of his head — bleeding out as his soon-to-be-corpse twitches in its final throes.

His throat works, and she leans low, the wild curtain of her impossible hair spilling around him as she puts her ear down by his lips.

She hears his last words carried up on a font of blood that washes over this mouth and paints his face, and the hand that has found hers seizes closed, tight enough to begin to crush her fingers. She turns to look at the woman holding the gun, the woman who moved too fast, the woman who had, in a single moment, taken away everything, and made the world a lesser place.

That woman looks both triumphant and smug. “It’s done,” she said. “I’ve wanted to do that for years.” She drops the gun, and brushes her greying whiteblonde hair back from her face, pulling off her sunglasses and letting them hit the floor. “Go ahead,” she said, almost smiling, looking at the girl who sat on the floor amidst too much blood, “kill me.”

“Kill you?” the girl whispers, somewhat incredulous. She carefully shifts, laying him to the floor, and puts his lips to his, kissing copper, closing her eyes. When she stands, her lips are crimson, and she tips her head to the side, look look the woman over. “I’m not going to kill you.”

The woman looks at the girl, and is about to speak, when her eyes widen, and she makes a small sound of confusion, finding herself unable to move. “I–“

“You took away the only thing that kept me from being what you wanted me to be,” the girl murmurs, stepping closer. “Your monster. Your weapon. So here I am. You’ve pulled the pin. Tick-tock,” she whispers.

The woman’s voice lifts, suddenly, into an awful, wrenching scream.

“Now, now,” the girl whispers. “Let’s not get dramatic. We’ve hardly started. What you’re feeling right now? That’s each of your ribs, bending out. And that’s three of them too brittle to bend. While they’re breaking, they’ll tear the cartilage, pull away from the fascia. If I bend them farther, they’ll puncture and maybe collapse your lung. Can you feel it? Let’s see how long you can keep feeling that. I’m going to make you feel it as long as I can feel how he’s gone,” she murmurs.