Saturday, March 26, 2016

Shalt

Haha, nerdy time.

In 2003, an anime series called .hack//sign came out. It was based on other things, a part of this expansive story, but I've only ever known about it through the anime. I loved the music, went obsessive, found and obtained all the music I could. One of the songs, "To Nowhere" struck a chord with me. Eventually I went for about an hour listening to nothing else but that song and I wrote. I went nuts on it.

And this is what I came out with.

For Your Consideration, the first 1,495 words of:

Shalt

            Sara was an ordinary girl. She had blonde hair and blue eyes. She was the average height and the average weight for an 18 year-old. She had an ordinary job, and ordinary apartment, ordinary friends. It wasn’t exiting, but it paid the bills and kept food on the table. She traveled by train to and from work, and walked everywhere else. Her small three-room apartment was on the second story, around the bend from a small grocery store and a few other stores of interest across the street and down the way. Nothing was very far, and the walking did her good.
            She had gotten home around 6, only to find she had little to no decent food left. She had a few containers of leftover fast-food meals and some chips, which she probably should have thrown out instead of hide it in her refrigerator. She reached into her purse and pulled out her wallet, finding a few bills. Enough for a microwave meal. If it was on sale. She could always settle for a larger snack and figure out dinner for tomorrow night…tomorrow. When she was hungry.
            She shoved the few bills into her pocket, locked the door and descended the stairs, skipping every other one. The air was a little chilly, but she didn’t mind. The store was just around the corner and if she ran she could stay warmer. She began to jog once she hit the pavement, her shoes hitting the cement with a rhythmic thump thump thump thump. She reached the store and found out she had just enough to buy one microwave meal. And it happened to be on sale. As she handed the money over to the cashier and headed for the door, she noticed it was beginning to rain.
            She hurried back, food clutched to her chest and hand shielding her eyes. The rain was coming down even harder. She could barely see, but since she had traveled the route so many times, she knew the way. She was almost home when something hit her foot and she tripped. The first thing she checked was the smashed box underneath her. It was…relatively intact. She looked around to see what she had tripped on and discovered it with a gasp.
            A man lay on the concrete, in the shadow of the buildings. She had tripped on his hand. Going to over to him, she saw that he was bleeding. It didn’t look fatal, but it didn’t look good. She searched her pockets only to remember that her cell phone was in her purse, back at her apartment. She looked up and down the sidewalk for someone – anyone – to help. A glint in the rain caught her eye and she peered at it, trying to see.
            “Hello?” She called. There was no answer. “Hello? Is that someone out there?” She asked. A low growl answered her. She could see what caught her eye, now. A pair of glittering yellow eyes stared out at her, like those out of a horror movie. She found herself frozen in fear. “Wha…?”
            A figure suddenly rose next to her; it was the man she had tripped on. Growling penetrated through the dark and the rain. The man was unmoved. He simply stood, his shoulders heaving. Blood dripped down and mixed with the rain. Finally, after a long standoff, the eyes and the growling vanished. The man seemed to wait for a painful amount of time before he fell to his knees. He turned his head and drew a ragged breath. “Go…Home.” He whispered out to her, his voice harsh. He went down to his hands and fell to his side, breathing in short, ragged breaths.
            She looked around. She could have gone home. She could have left him. The least she could have done would be to go home and call 911 when she could. She looked at the man again, and felt the chill of the night coupled with the clinging wet of the rain. She couldn’t leave him.
            Grabbing his arm, she hauled him to his feet and took on almost all of his weight. Leaving the boxed dinner behind, she hauled the stranger back to her apartment.

            Sara had laid out the stranger on her only couch and dried him as best as she could. Now that he was in better lighting, she could see him better. He was certainly a strange sight. His face was so young. He couldn’t have been over 20, with delicate features and pale skin. Yet his head was covered in gray hair. It wasn’t an old man’s gray head, though. His hair had more of a silver sheen to it and it was very fine and somewhat long, falling to his shoulders. His build was slender, but muscular. Three cuts ran across his exposed stomach, his shirt for some reason too short to come all the way down.
            His shirt was blood-red and made it difficult to tell what was blood and what was not. The only reason she knew he had cuts all over was because of the rips in his shirt. She pulled it off of him, knowing that she had to stop the bleeding, clean it and wrap it in something. She saw the cuts – although they didn’t seem to be big enough to have made that much blood – and ran to get the peroxide from her bathroom cabinet. She was always cutting herself on accident, and she knew peroxide was good for disinfecting.
            She poured some of it out on toilet paper and began dabbing it to the wounds. As soon as it touched him, the stranger jumped and grabbed her wrist, making her jump as well. He moved it away as he sat up and looked at her, his eyes flashed gold and then the colors swam and they seemed to hold no color at all. He dodged away from her gaze and stood. “I told you to go home.” He said, picking up his shirt.
            “I am home.” She responded, standing. “Your wounds…”
            “I’m fine.”
            “But they’re…that was too much blood for those cuts. You have to be bleeding from somewhere else.”
            The stranger looked at her with a strange look. She approached him and whispered, “Are you a healer?”
            He paused. “What?”
            “A healer. One who has the ability to heal wounds?”
            “What are you –“ His eyes flickered over her. Finally he stated, “That’s crazy.”
            “Not as crazy as you want me to think.” She said, walking over to a small table. “I know about the World Below; the one that no one sees.” She tossed a picture to him, which he caught without looking down or flinching. He looked down at it. It was a girl that was a few years older then his current host, with long golden hair and stunning blue eyes. “My sister.” She said. “Water Wielder. She shelters little ones, and most of them are Special. Her husband is a Fire Wielder, his brother is a Wind Wielder, and a close family friend is an Earth Wielder. Her husband is pals with a healer. I didn’t know if you were one as well.”
            He looked up at her. “This is all very intriguing information, but I’m just a…passerby. I’m not special.” He said, tossing the picture back. She caught it and gently put it back on the table. “Oh…” She said, walking toward him, “You’re special alright. When you’re around them enough, you can spot a Special from a human. So…What are you?”
            He hesitated. “Fine. I’m not human. How do you know I’m not dangerous?”
            “I don’t. That’s why I asked. But, out of the major threats that I know of, you don’t fit the bill for any of them. Vampires have pointed teeth and pale skin – you’re missing the teeth. The full moon’s just passed and there have been no deaths in the area, so you’re not a werewolf. Your flesh is on your bones and you’re coherent, so you’re not a zombie. You’re flesh and blood, so you’re not a ghost.” She leaned in close to his face. “You’re too imperfect in your face to be an Elf, you’re not an Elemental Wielder, you’re not any of the Farie kind…and I’ve seen most of the human-mythical beasts and you don’t fit the bill for any of them.” She leaned back. “So…tell me what you are?”
            “How do you know I’m not an Elemental?”
            She smiled. “I have my ways. Now, stop dodging my question. What are you?”
            He pulled his shirt on. “Late. I’m late for an important engagement.”
            “An important engagement in the rain? Late at night? I don’t think that’s the truth.”

            “Well, whatever I am I must be anxious to get away from you.” He said and walked toward the door. Before he left, he turned to her and slightly bowed, saying “Good Day.” She sat on the couch as the door closed behind him.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Tammy James

I lied.

I made the name of this one right now as well. Because apparently I went through a phase where I didn't actually name my stories and just put the name of all the pertinent characters at the top and that's what I saved. After this, I will always come up with some sort of name for random stories, intent to publish or not.

With that aside, here's the background of this piece. Because apparently I feel the urge to do that. After all, it's always more fun to hear the stories behind the stories, no?

These characters were near the end of my first set of character creation. I came up with a bunch of different characters groups before slowing down to actually finish up stories. This was also back when I was a chronic pantser and didn't have the determination to finish ANYTHING. Thus, all of this material now, haha.

Anyway.

When I went back to revisit this group, I had absolutely nothing. No story came to mind whatsoever. So I came up with a 'happily ever after' moment, jumped a generation, and started over. Thus...

For Your Consideration, the first 1,677 words of:

Tammy James

Tammy James was an average girl. She grew up in an apartment in the city, with one mother and one father, a few friends from school and a candy store on the corner of the street. With a head of fire and raven eyes, she managed to get a little attention, but never too much. She went to school, did her homework, and played when she found the time. Life never got too complicated…That is, until her parents died.
            She never remembered much of that night. She was ten years old when it happened. She just remembered that she had been in bed when she heard glass breaking and shouting. Her mother rushed into the room and grabbed her shoulders, forcing her under the bed. She shoved a book into Tammy’s hands and told her to shush. Don’t make a sound until it was quiet again. Then she said some really funny-sounding words and Tammy felt a little funny, like she had eaten too much candy at the candy store.
            Then her door opened with a crash. A fight broke out. There was lots of screaming and shouting. Then, with two loud sounds that made little Tammy cringe, the room fell silent. Two pairs of shoes began to wander around the room and her things started flying about. Then the intruders looked under the bed.
            She only saw one clearly. He stared at her with black eyes. Small coarse hair seemed to cluster on his face, around his mouth and chin. His nose was big and his lips were curled into a snarl. Tammy thought her heart would stop as he sat there and stared at her. But he left. His face left her sight. He didn’t seem to see her. She clutched the book and waited. The two pairs of shoes wandered the whole house; Tammy could hear them walking. The main room. The small kitchen in the corner. Mother and Father’s room. A few more shouts between the two of them, and then she heard them leave. Not sure if it was safe to come out yet or not, the little girl waited. And waited. And waited.
            She waited for her mother to come get her. She waited for her father to tell her it was alright. Nothing happened. Nothing happened for a long time.

            The little girl with fire-red hair and raven eyes was found a week later, when the police entered the apartment. They found blood on the walls and the little girl’s bed, in the kitchen and the main room, but no adults. They had not been seen since the apartment had been broken into. Her parents were missing, and she was an orphan. The only belonging that Tammy would not give up to anyone was the odd book that mother had shoved into her hands that night. And she would never give it up.

            Eight years later, that same little girl stood on the corner of a busy street, watching the people pass her by and waiting for a cab to take her home. It had been a stressful day for the 18 year old girl. Her job was still new, and she managed to spill coffee everywhere in the break room. They had no one to clean it up before it settled into the carpet, so Tam (that’s what she had begun to call herself) was shown where the cleaning supplies were and was left to clean up the mess she made. That had taken her longer then she originally thought it should and she was still a little distraught about the whole thing.
            She made it home just in time to see that her parents – her adopted parents – had made it home before her. The remains of dinner had been set out and they sat in front of the television, just like they always had.
            “And just where have you been, Tammy?” Her mother, Jessica, asked with little enthusiasm.
            “Work. I had to stay and help clean up a few rooms.” She lied. Well…It was really only a half-lie. “And you know I hate that name. It’s ‘Tam’.”
            “Got any homework left to do?” Her father, Steve, asked without even looking away from the brain-sucker box.
            Tam sighed. “Don’t I always?”
            Steve nodded. “Better get to it, then.”
            She hung her head but walked past them and down the hall. She closed the door and flopped on her bed, muttering, “No, I’m fine, honest. I’m not hungry at all. I just haven’t eaten anything in a few hours because I caused a mess.” She heaved a sigh, sat up, and stared at her desk. The last remains of the thing called ‘homework’ lay on her desk, half-finished. She was almost there. Almost to graduation. Just a few more weeks and she was free.
            That reminded her of something. She rolled over and pulled out a dusty book from under her bed. She only got the book out once in a while; it was the only thing she had to remember her parents by. Although why her mother shoved this book in her hands was beyond her. She couldn’t even read the symbols that covered the first few pages – the rest were blank. She went through the same routine with the book; she looked it over and studied the symbols on the front. She tried to make out some sort of code or some kind of common ground, and like always, she never got too far.
            She hung her head. Today had just not been the best by a long shot. She was tired, and she was stressed. She looked up at the book again and thought of her mother. “I wish you were here.” She whispered. Then she laid it on the bed, heaved another heavy sigh, and forced herself to begin the most tedious task in the world; studying.
            By the time she got to bed, she was exhausted, felt like her brain would swell and burst, and discouraged. She was willing to bet that none of the answers she found were correct. And the answers she managed to find had been few and far between. She was doomed. She shoved the book under her bed and rolled over, not bothering to change or even pull the covers over her; she used the pillow to cover her face instead.

            She was woken by a loud BAM! Shooting up Tam frantically looked around the room, but saw nothing. Her heart was pounding and her left eye just wouldn’t open all the way. But there was nothing to see. She grumbled and was about to roll over when another BAM jolted her straight up in bed. Again, nothing was out of place. The door wasn’t moving at all. There was nothing in the windows. She supposed it might have been something downstairs, but…A third BAM interrupted her thoughts, and this time, she saw what was moving. It was her closet doors.
            The banging noises were coming closer together, now. She fought the childish urge to hide under the covers and scream for mommy. This couldn’t be. BAM BAM. The boogie monster is something that gets little kids. BAM BAM BAM. There shouldn’t be anything in that closet! Her mind rationalized. BAM BAM BAM BAM. Something’s probably falling…?
            With a final round of banging her closet doors shot open as if forced and something tumbled out of her closet. She squeaked and threw the covers over her head. The doors slammed again and things grew quiet. She managed to gather enough courage to peek out from her super-special hiding place. The closet doors were shut.
            “What?!” She blurted, despite her desire to keep quiet. She ran over to the doors, fear of the closet monster completely forgotten. They were shut and pushed tight. She had to tug on them with all of her might to get the open. Once open, they revealed nothing unusual. It was just…her closet. “That was…weird.” She scratched her head in wonderment. “Maybe I should have eaten something before I went to sleep…” She turned and found herself almost face to face with a brown-eyed man.
            She would have screamed like a madwoman if a firm hand hadn’t been clamped over her mouth.
            “Shhh!! Sh sh! Please, don’t scream!” He wheezily whispered. “I would like five minutes rest before I have to run again.”
            She struggled to get her head away from him and grabbed his hand, ripping it away in the process. “What kinda plea is that?! I just found a stranger in my bedroom, and you don’t want me to scream? What do you want me to do, throw a party with mushroom caps and cheese-heads???”
            The stranger stared at her. “You’re a very strange girl, do you know that?”
            “Get out of my room!!” She screeched.
            “Five minutes. Please.” He fell to his knees and coughed. It was a throaty cough. His ‘please’ sounded genuine. But still…
            “You honestly think I’m going to let a stranger stay in my room?!” Tam asked. “Besides, I don’t even know how you got in here.”
            He looked up at her. “I…Came in through the closet.”
            They stared at each other. Tam shook her head. “Honestly, how did you get in here? The windows aren’t broken and I didn’t hear the door open…”
            “I told you…I came in through the closet.”
            “No way.”
            “What do you call that thing?” He pointed to her closet.
            “My closet.”
            “I came through your closet.”
            She stared at him again. “You’re crazy.”
            He smiled, closed his eyes and fell onto his back. “Okay…here we go.”
            “What are you doing? Get out of my room!”
            “What?”
            “My parents are bound to be up here soon; they’re gonna flip at finding a stranger in my room, nevermind you being a crazy man that thinks he came out of my closet!!”

            Instead of listening to her, the stranger was staring under her bed. He reached out one long arm and pulled her book from under the bed. She felt her heart momentarily stop.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Adventures of Three

Alright, this one I'll admit: the name was made up on the spot for this blogpost. The rest of them I just put the name that was on the document...But I'm not attaching it as an actual name. So there.

This one came about thanks to writers block. I was having issues, and so decided to take a D'n'D approach. I made up some basic character questions and gave them out to friends that volunteered. Point of fact, one of them insisted that I give her a pet dragon. But not any pet dragon: A cute baby dragon. I don't know that she even remembers this conversation, but I do. I'm determined to eventually publish this story, although I'm sure it'll be way, way, wayyyyyy down the line.

For Your Consideration, the first 1,353 words of:

Adventures of Three

            The blade came swooping down. It came back up and circled around, taking off the head. Zedi ducked, the long spear-like blade spinning on her back. She kicked sideways and jumped, her back rolling on her weapon. As she landed she grabbed her blade and swung it a few more times; taking off three more dummy heads.
            She froze in that position for a few seconds. Then clapping erupted. As Zedi stood, the crowd threw in a few gold pieces each. Zedi bowed as they applauded. She honestly hated the bowing, but it gave more time for the people to drop in gold pieces and leave.
            As they began to leave, giving up all they wanted, Zedi walked over and picked up the villagers hat she borrowed. Thanking him for his services - and his straw - she gave him three gold pieces with a smile. She didn’t like smiling either. He took his hat and walked off happily. Zedi stuck out her tongue at his back and sat in the grass.
            She counted out 25 gold pieces and put them in her pouch. With a sigh she flopped over on her back in the grass and closed her eyes. She laid there for a minute, taking her time. Then she sat up and took off her helmet, letting her short silver hair free in the dying sunlight. Her silver eyes watched the sun as it descended.
            Throwing her helmet on the ground, Zedi climbed the tree that was right next to her ‘site’ in order to see the sun better. She watched it as it began to become twilight and the stars began to twinkle. This was her favorite time of day. Things became darker and seemed more mystical, in a way. Twilight was the only time Zedi could find real peace. One could also find more monsters to kill after twilight.
            Her peace was interrupted by someone calling her name. Zedi nearly fell out of her tree as she heard the call again, “ZEDI!!!”
            Climbing out to a tree limb, Zedi looked down and sighed to herself. Avery.
            Avery was a Wizard. Well, she was one in training. Zedi often teased her about that. Avery had brown hair with blue streaks through it. She had brown eyes that were very serious. The ends of her track pants slightly swayed in the breeze, while her white tee stuck close to her body.
            With a sigh, she called for Zedi again, looking around. She looked up right as Zedi’s tree limb snapped. Her knee caught on another limb which bent and brought Zedi eye-level with Avery. Avery yipped as Zedi dropped down, but sighed when she saw it was Zedi. “I knew I’d find you here.” She remarked.
            “Yeah…Well. What did you want?” Zedi asked, knowing full well what Avery wanted.
            “We need to find a place to sleep for the night.” Avery said. “What did you get?”
            Zedi thought a moment. As she was thinking, the tree limb snapped and Zedi fell on her head. Avery rushed to help her up, asking if she was ok. When Zedi said yes, Avery began laughing.
            Avery had been Zedi’s friend since they were both little. Zedi would do the exact same if the situation was reversed, so she let it pass.
            Picking up her helmet and weapon, Zedi responded, “I think I’ve gotten around…24, 25 gold pieces?”
            “I can’t read your mind.” Avery responded. She held out her hand. “Let me see what you have.”
            Zedi undid her gold pouch and placed it in Avery’s waiting hand. While Avery counted, Zedi slid her weapon into its cotton ‘sheath’ on her back. It had a scythe-type blade on one end, but the rest of it was as long as a bow staff. Zedi used both ends, which made it an incredibly useful weapon. She also fit her helmet on a hook on her Denim pants.
            “Well Zedi, this is 25.” Avery said, handing the pouch back to her. “We need 30 to stay at an Inn.”
            “Well, how much do you have?” Zedi asked, taking back her pouch and tying it onto her belt loop.
            Avery counted on her fingers. “I have exactly 34 pieces.”
            “Well that’s enough, isn’t it?”
            “But then we won’t have much to spend tomorrow.”
            “Oh yeah.” Zedi plopped down in the grass, her gold shin plates clinking against each other. “’Suppose we’ll just have to wait for Airwit.”
            Airwit was a friend of both Zedi and Avery. The two of them met her a few years ago. She had emerald eyes that seemed to pierce whatever she glared at, but she never made it a habit to glare. She only glared at people when they deserved it. She had a finely-made sword at her hip that glowed in any light.
            The two soon saw Airwit walking down to meet them. They could scarcely see her in the light of the moon. Her hair always showed up better in the sunlight. The golden hair that reached her back was sometimes up in a ponytail, sometimes let down. They heard the clinking of her sword almost before they even saw her.
            Avery held out her hand. “How much did you get today?”
            “If you didn’t get much, then we’re sleeping under the trees again.” Zedi muttered.
            Airwit ignored her. Her silk sleeve brushed up against her wrist guard as she handed Avery the pouch. “I think I have around 20 pieces.”
            Avery nodded. “You have exactly 24. Apparently not too many people enjoy weapons demonstrations here.”
            Zedi snorted. “That’s it. Tomorrow morning, we’re moving on.”
            Avery sighed and began to lead the way off. “You always say that when you don’t make enough.”
            Airwit laughed as Zedi got up and started yelling after them.

            They got to the inn safe and sound. As Avery signed the three of them in, Zedi looked around. For a peaceful town, such as Hal-karid, there were many…warriors. Many hooded figures sat desolately at wooden tables, heads at their drinks, eyes on the others, swords, axes, staffs, and numerous other weapons slightly poking from under brown cloaks. Zedi watched the other warriors. One noticed her. They made eye contact. Each of them clenched their jaws, their eyes never moving off the other as their hands silently wrapped around their weapons.
            Avery told her that they were leaving for their rooms. Zedi followed her and Airwit. Zedi and the other warrior never broke eye-contact as she walked up the stairs. Zedi only relaxed once she was in her room.
            Airwit and Avery both noticed Zedi’s silence and, when asked about it, Zedi responded with something other then an answer. Avery, being tired, let it go and left for her room. Airwit stared at her for a few minutes, then left. Zedi could not get the fact out of her mind that there were too many warriors. If the people here did not respond well to weapons demonstrations, why where so many warriors hanging out at the Inn?
            Later that night, she was woken up by a sound; someone was leaving their room a few doors down. She could hear the squeaky door. They also made it easier when one of them ran into a post next to the door and swore so loudly Zedi was surprised no one else came out. She heard another one laugh and make a comment.
            Listening to them sneak out, Zedi quietly opened her door and tiptoed after the two. She made sure to stay behind them so they wouldn’t notice her, but remained within earshot. It was mainly stupid stuff and laughing, a few jokes, but then they stopped and one brought up an odd subject.
            “I wouldn’t believe it.”
            “Why not? It sounds real enough.”
            “Sounds real enough?! It sounds like she was a mad woman, Tomas!”
            “Sounded valid to me, Valitros.”
            “Anything could sound valid to you.”
            “Anything that could threaten my well-being.”
            Sneaking up behind the two, Zedi slid one of her blades right up to one of the guy’s throats.

            “So, what is this about threatening?” She asked.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Seth

Alright. So, because I've had a good number of views (so I'm taking that as a good sign) I'm going to continue with this little experiment. I'm glad ya'll are enjoying this...And I'm enjoying it, too. :)

Anyway.

This piece is based on characters I created when I was...Maybe 10? They stayed in my head for a good long while before I eventually tried tapping out actual words in a Word document. Everything sort of came together and...well...Here.

For your consideration:

Seth

            Seth you lazy bum! Get up!
            His inner voices weren’t letting him sleep today. This morning it happened to be an old man’s voice.
            Seth!!
            Female, now. He got a flash of blue eyes that startled him into opening his own. He had never seen anyone before. Maybe the curse was getting worse.
            Seth sat up, his dirty brown hair swinging in front of his eyes like the shag it was. One could barely see his black eyes underneath and several had thought him blind. He placed his twig arms underneath him and pushed his slim frame to a standing position ontop of his stork-like legs. He stumbled over to the cold metal bars that guarded his cage and looked out at the world; the sun was rising.
            The world looked the same as it had always looked through prison bars; sunny and inviting. The grass was brown and the small muddy creek that flowed behind the prison bubbled and sloshed off into the distance, free of any constraints save the ground around it. Even then, Seth had seen the water rise above the ground. He hoped one day to rise above his own unjust imprisonment.
            The door opened behind him and he stumbled to the bars that looked to the inside of the prison. Straw thinly covered the stone floor in a sad attempt to stave off the cold it always emitted. A few benches and tables were set outside each prison cell so the guards could watch and torment the captives and prisoners.
            As per usual, the guards came in first, all decked out in their usual shiny tin armor suits with naked swords perched at each hip and a gloved hand over the top, threatening to use it. A sneer or a snarl marked every helmeted face, and every other face had scruff on the chin. They escorted a cook through, who was generally jolly and plump. Seth figured the two coincided. He pushed a small table with wheels attached at the bottom, steaming food sitting atop.
            As they passed each cell, the guards would bang heavy sticks, metal-covered hands, or even swords on the bars to warn the prisoners to back off while the cook fit plate and bowl into the cage. Seth waited hungrily as the cook came closer and closer.
            He was placing the food in the cell next to Seth’s when the door at the far end banged open. He heard shouting and struggling, along with some wolf whistles and cat calls. He could care less about the commotion at the time, as the food was so close he could almost taste it. The cook had paused to stare at the door and got a whack on the shoulder as a reminder to ‘carry on’. Seth watched the contents of the bowl spill out onto the floor and his stomach growled.
            He automatically retreated to the back of his cage when they finally came to him. The guards sneered and began to tease him like a wild animal they thought he was, even though there was no danger of him escaping. The cook gave him a welcoming smile, though, and placed his food in the cage.
            As he did so the guards that came in late dragged a person behind the food table. They shoved the person in question through the bars into the cage next to Seth’s; the very last one. The cook frowned at the guards.
            “I…I have no food prepared for this.” He said softly.
            “She doesn’t eat!” The head-guard bellowed, then his hard green eyes turned to Seth. “Why doesn’t that one eat? Doesn’t he want his food?!”
            Seth realized that they were threatening to take it away from him and dove for it. The guards took this as an offensive gesture and reached through the bars, striking him with the large sticks they had. It hurt, but Seth got away with all of his morning meal. He climbed back up on the steel bed and kept his eyes down, knowing if he looked at the guards they would take offence to it as well and take his food away.
            He heard them laughing as they left, escorting the cook out the door. They would come back in a minute and torture the prisoners as they ate, as per routine. They knew better then to open the doors to the cages, but they enjoyed banging the bars and teasing the prisoners to attack or cower.
            Seth began to stuff his food down his throat in an effort to take advantage of the five seconds of peace. The food was the usual morning gruel; a pasty bland food on the plate, stuffed secretly with small delectable slices of leftovers. Sometimes it was meat, and sometimes it was plants, but food was food. Seth carefully took a sip of water from his bowl, then placed it aside; the bowl contained their entire water rations for the day.
            As he did his eyes wandered over to the new prisoner. He lay slumped in the corner, not moving as his body shuddered. He was of slime frame, like Seth. Long hair fell down his shoulders like water, and looked smoother then most of the other men in the prison. In fact…what did that guard say…? “She” doesn’t eat? The new prisoner was a she?
            Sure enough, the prisoner raised her head and looked at him. Through the sack she was wearing Seth could catch glimpses of her chest harshly rising and falling. Her eyes though…Her eyes were a pale blue. They seemed to stare at him…Stare into him. He averted his eyes. The woman creeped him out.
            Seth dug out the two slices of bread buried in his gruel. The cook usually took pity on him and slipped him some bread from time to time. Whole slices of bread. Some days Seth found a small slice of meat, too. Looking towards the door to make sure the guards weren’t coming back, Seth took the pieces and shoved them up his shirt, tying the cloth belt tighter around his waist. He had good timing too; as soon as he pulled at the knot the door banged open and the guards walked in, carrying their own morning food. It was always different and always better.

            The day continued per usual with tormenting the prisoners, long naps and their night gruel. Again, the female prisoner got no food, even though the cook had prepared enough this time. While the guards were busy arguing with the cook and teasing the female, Seth managed to sneak up to the table. He snatched one of the plates and quickly retreated, grabbing his own food in the process. No one noticed except, maybe, the cook. He quickly conceded the point and left in an apparent huff, not giving the guards time to notice the last plate was missing.
            Seth hid it under his bed while he stuffed his own food down his throat. He continually glanced over his shoulder at the prisoner, who hadn’t moved from this morning except to put her head down.
            As the guards left for the night, Seth knew he had to wait until the moon was well into the sky. The guards liked to make inspections in the middle of the night, and if they didn’t catch him the late-night prisoners would. Long after everything appeared settled, Seth snuck off his bed and carried the plate and the remainder of his water over to the female prisoner.
            At first she didn’t move. He was afraid she was dead until she slowly shuffled and looked up at him again. Seth gently nudged the plate and water towards her. However, try as he might, Seth couldn’t manage to get the plate through the bars. The female simply stared at him. Finally, looking around to make sure no one was watching, Seth scooped some of the gruel out and held it up her.
            Her eyes went down and she looked at it, but made no move with her hands. Her body was shaking as he sat there, waiting for her to take it. Slowly, she opened her mouth. It looked so exhausting that Seth felt tired just watching her. He eased a little gruel into her mouth and tipped it shut with his fingers. He saw her swallow but she didn’t immediately open her mouth. Again, it took a while until her mouth was fully open. Again, Seth slipped a little in and closed her mouth for her.
            They did this until Seth noticed the sky had changed. The sun had not risen yet, but it was going to very soon. They had spent the entire night switching between small mouthfuls of gruel and small mouthfuls of water. Seth wiped his hands on his sackcloth and then gently but firmly wiped her face with his dirty fingers.
            He doubted the guards would get close enough to her to see she had food on her face, but he didn’t want either of them to get in trouble in case they did.
            Silently he returned the food to under his stone bed and his water next to the front of the cage. The guards would pick it up when they came in before they gave him a new one. Luckily, the woman had finished the water. Otherwise it would look like Seth didn’t and they would give him less.

            Slowly and carefully, Seth and the woman repeated this process until she was strong enough to hold out a hand. After several nights, the woman was finally able to scoop her own food.