Thursday, April 23, 2009

Curse/Or: Ignition

I apologize for how late this is, and how erratic I've been with updating. Writing an action sequence with magic is harder than I thought. Just because I can visualize it perfectly doesn't mean it makes sense to the reader...

"LOL," announced the girl. "ENDCAT HAZ ENDED JOO." She pivoted smoothly to her left, humming tunelessly as she took careful aim at the still-stunned Esther's head.

"You...!" gasped Yarrow. He was on the floor next to Esther, his hands clawing at the clutter of the broken dishes around him in a feeble attempt to end his disorientation. The girl brightened visibly at this, squatting by his head to regard him curiously. Her grin was feral, slender body quivering with predatory glee.

"YA ME RLY." She wasn't shouting, but every word that came from her mouth seemed to be at full volume. She poked him in the cheek with the muzzle of her hot pink weapon. The action was careless, whimsical, like a child poking a strange object with a stick. "WAT U WANT? U CAN HAZ LAST WISH."

Teresa's body spasmed, as if being given CPR through repeated, vicious kicks to the chest. Nicotine coursed through her bloodstream, the adrenaline substitute jumpstarting her body with the fierceness of a habit that would not, could not, be denied. The roaring darkness receded from the edge of her vision, the Cancer magic claiming another life in exchange for sparing hers.

(On the other side of the restaurant, a short-order cook who had been smoking all his adult life coughed twice, clutched his chest, and died as the burgeoning tumor within his lungs increased a thousandfold in volume before metastasizing and devouring his heart. He was thirty-two. )

She felt like she had just walked up thirty flights of stairs. There was a concrete block on her chest, and each breath was agony. Her arms were wooden, her fingers lifeless cigarettes. Ash was in her mouth and the taste of burnt filters filled her nostrils. Her eyes ached with the yellow-brown stain of nicotine.

The girl's back was to Teresa, crouched beside Yarrow's head. Next to him, Esther moaned. The child assassin casually drew a second pistol from her bag and aimed it at the older woman, her back arched in anticipation of the kill. Her butt wriggled back and forth, as if she possessed an invisible tail and it was twitching from side to side.

Tommy would be about his age, Teresa realized. Another dumb kid, another mother's precious son, another stupid, senseless death…

The rage returned. In that moment, Teresa was gone, consumed by all the anger and the guilt and the rage of the past two decades. Her sickness was forgotten, burnt away by the rush of emotion. What remained was something pure, primal in its direction and purpose.

"Bitch," spat The Camel, "I will fucking smoke your ass." She sparked the lighter through the denim of her jeans pocket, pouring all her emotion into its ignition, half expecting she herself would catch and burn.

The girl shimmered slightly, a heat haze wreathing her in an infernal halo, and then the restaurant became God's own ashtray as he ground out Satan's flaming ass on the dining room floor. The hot, sharp smell of scorched plastic stung the eyes and seared the lungs, and then the girl was screaming the high, shrill note of a cat with a burning ember tied to its tail as every hair, every piece of plastic and every scrap of clothing on her body smoldered and threatened to combust.


  1. Yay! Death to evil lolcats! =)

    Ceiling Cat would be proud.

    Basement Cat weeps.

  2. Thank you. Death to l33t speakers!! And might I say damn, Camel needs to be released solo on the world. Esther and Yarrow's chances of dying from cancer must have increased exponentially in just this meal. Good work Erin.

  3. It's great seeing Teresa's powers developing and how they work in action, especially the give and take - the power has to come from somewhere and it does it with dark style.

    Putting the bracketed sentence between 'could not be denied' and 'The roaring darkness' would keep the mention of claiming another life from pre-empting the drama of the guy's death and make the events seem more obviously concurrent.

    Hopefully I don't come across as Ms Picky when I say these things, I figure as a writer you're constantly editing anyway and the trivial points I touch on only highlight how amazing I think the rest of your writing is.
    I had one writing teacher who beat the sentence 'If you can't add constructive criticism don't say anything at all' into us for an entire semester and five years later I still can't shake it off.

  4. I wonder what happens next.


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