Quotes

Fellow MicFictioneers,

I have been busy laying out MicFic: The Bookering, and have a question. At the moment I’m laying out themes as a double page spread. I’ve hacked together a PNG of what that looks like, but you should have a look at the example file. The left page is currently blank for the image, while the right page gives the theme title and a little quote.

I’ve taken the quotes from one of the micfic entries for that theme (the one above is, conveniently, from my entry for Ghost). I’ve also made sure that each person has a quote, but this does pose a question: what quotes do you micfictioneers feel are your best?

If you want to let me know, reply with a list of your own favourite quotes (that means quotes from your own stories, not someone elses!), one from each piece, like so:

Stop: “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Gone: “Then he turned to me and said, ‘Poof! Gone!'”

Ghost: “Oh. My. God.”

And so on! I will then choose between the quotes, and try to get your most preferred quote into the Bookering.

Also, if you disapprove of quotes, now is the time to raise your voice in protest!

 

Riot

It is said that no one source started the riot.  It was a spontaneous action taken by those in the crowd.  But this is not true, there was an instigator.  And the riot did serve a purpose – a purpose hidden from everyone in the crowd.  A purpose that only a few would ever know about.  Though some of the more suspicious ones may ‘theorise’ but they were only good for a laugh.  The crowd had developed as planned, it was too easy to rile common people, and it was easier still to insight them to violence once they were all collected in a crowd.  Happily, things would turn ugly and the media would whip themselves into a frenzy of frothy mouths and flickering fingers on keyboards.

And while everyone was looking and commenting on the horrors, ‘they’ would be working in the background on their various projects.  Content in the knowledge that if the current attraction were to fade, there would be many more instances that could be… tweaked to suit their purpose.  They were old hands at this, long years of practice.  Controlling the masses is such a subtle art.

 

Subterfuge

“Have you made up your mind, Sir?” he said, latex-gloved hands clasped gently in front of him.
“Yes, I have. I’m going to stick with my initial mixture, but I’d like to add three portions of Subterfuge. The good stuff. Not that cheap rubbish.”
“An excellent choice.” He picked up the tablet and scrolled through Mr Kerfield’s chart. “That will complement the Espionage flavours nicely. We’ll be able to give you something quite special.”
Kerfield smiled and leant back in the chair, arms down to his sides, ready to be strapped in for the procedure.
“One moment, please. We just need your thumb here,” he held the tablet down, “and here, for final confirmation.” Mr Kerfield raised himself on one elbow and jabbed his thumb roughly at the tablet.
“Very good, Sir.” He strapped Kerfield in, started the machine, and strode around the corner to his accomplice. They shut and locked the door.
“We’d better be quick. I give him ten minutes before he realises something’s up and starts fidgeting. Big chap. I don’t think the straps or the door will keep him for more than a few minutes.” They bolted off down the corridor.

The drone in the chair whirred and clicked inside, sending data across the street to the real Mr Kerfield.
“Dammit,” he cursed, banging his fist on the table. “Another charlatan. How am I supposed steal their method if they don’t have one?”
He set the drone to self destruct and flipped back to the classifieds. Maybe the next one would live up to its promises.

Hollow World

Summer’s heat lies on the land, stifling it. No breeze stirs the weedy growth that covers the fields, no birds make sound. My boots scuff lazy puffs of dust from the road, sluggish and reluctant. I am tired of this dead world, but I have come too far to abandon the trail.

A mark scratched faintly into a tree. Dry prints left by an impossible animal. A blade of grass, bent into a secret sigil. I am the only one who reads these signs, who detects the impossibility of this world, the deception of reality insinuated by unlikely molecules. Around me, trees bend in mockery, pointing towards a dilapidated farmhouse. They promise answers, but all I want is a resolution.

The air shimmers in the noon heat, solidifying like glue around a captured insect. This is how it keeps people away, twisting emotions into physics, perverting the pretence of order to disguise itself from me. I know its tricks: fake atom pressed to fake atom, molecule to mock molecule, a hollow world build from lies. It’s there if you know how to look for it: the jellied currents of the air, the slackness of fur, the stiffness of a smile. The whole world, an imperfect deception coalescing around me like old oil. Within it, tiny, sharp impurities – words spelt in rust, a hairless rat – point towards my final destination.

The farmhouse pulsates within the landscape like an exposed sore. Within it, something waits. I enter.

All I want is a resolution.

Lies we tell ourselves

Elizabeth brought two slices of strawberry shortcake for Kate’s birthday. They sat together in the living room, eating cake and drinking coffee. Kate had already given half of her slice to her son.

Jay was playing outside in the garden, the cake long since finished and already forgotten. The neighbour’s cat — Jay couldn’t remember Skritchy’s name — was in his arms. Skritchy was squirming and unhappy, but Jay kept the cat’s legs down and claws tucked away.

Inside, Kate spoke animatedly, punctuating what she said with her hands: “He’s such a good boy.” And, “It’s been amazing watching him grow.” Also, “I wish I could be that innocent again. You know: not to have the weight of the world on me.”

Jay emptied out his school-bag and dropped the cat into it. Skritchy yowled, but Jay just ignored him.

“Mrs Shaw says that he’s making friends easily, which is such a load off my mind. But then he’s so sweet; who wouldn’t like him?”

Jay also slid his dad’s hammer — the odd looking clawed one with the rubberised handle — into the bag’s side pocket.

“I only want what’s best for him, you know? But then they put such shit on the news: Jay could walk in at any moment and see that crap. Or the internet! I’m scared we’re not protecting our children enough.”

Elizabeth looked at her watch and wondered if she’d stayed long enough to be polite.

“They’re so sweet!” Kate said. “Jay does the cutest things.”

When Elizabeth left she waved (for Kate’s sake) to Jay in his tree-house, but he was too busy to notice her.

Interaction

“Do come in, Ms Winton.

[It’s also Dr and Mrs, but she would rather neither were highlighted: the first because she doesn’t want to put herself forward or make him feel the need to compete; the second because she is private and somewhat feminist – also, she can flirt more easily this way]

I’m afraid I’m running late this morning. Work has been frantic.

[He got chatting with Elaine French, also interviewing for this position, who has recently completed a year-long sailing trip. Since he is also an avid sailor, they were soon on the floor of his office, retracing her voyage on his charts. This encounter makes it unlikely that Kathy Winton will get the job]

I also have to leave sooner than planned – some crisis at head office.

[His wife reminded him about his son’s soccer match this morning over coffee. He promised to attend it and, having broken the last two such promises, intends to keep this one if possible]

Can we reschedule the interview to tomorrow, same time?”

“Of course. That’s fine.”

[She’s not sure whether it is, but it will have to be]

“Thanks. I’m really sorry for all this. I hope we didn’t put you out.”

“Oh, don’t worry, you didn’t. I have some shopping to do here anyway.

[To get here, she had to change trains twice and catch a bus. She wants to get back to watch the end of the Buffy episode that she lost track of time with before having to leave for the interview, sure she was going to be late and so desperately worried for the entire, wasted journey. Also, she can’t afford to even think about shopping here, so will be going straight home]

See you tomorrow.”

“Until then, Ms Winton.”

Impundulu

The night has a sultry pressure and the sharp, clear smell of rain: lightning flickers on the swollen clouds. The street outside the nightclub is dark outside the garish pools of pink neon. He leans against the bricks, dragging on his cigarette, and eyes the women as they pick their way, high-heeled, down the pavement. They are gaggled by colour, pale-skinned blondes or elegant black girls, all short skirts and curving breasts under scant fabric, flanked by possessive, matching men whose presence disrupts the glances the girls throw him. He runs his tongue around the fang which has started, reflexively, to lengthen in his mouth, and waits.

The rain-drenched breeze cuts the hot highveld air like wings against his cheek. She drifts featherlight out of the dark doorway, the light catching bronze cheekbones and the high, proud line of her throat and close-cropped skull. Tattoos writhe across her scalp, pale lines on the dark skin. Her body in the tight leather is bird-thin, spiky, an atavistic warrior, enchanting and sexless. The laughing, colourful crowd, teeth white in dark faces, part around her, suddenly and mutely cowed, but he sees only that she is alone.

She stalks down the pavement towards him like the embodiment of a fever dream: her glance invites and transfixes him. Wordlessly, he follows her into the alley.

Her mouth is cold, metallic, alien; shockingly, he is no longer the predator here. He cannot distinguish the thunder from the blood pounding in his ears, the lightning from the colours behind his eyelids. The storm breaks in a cacophony of noise and light as he curls on the filthy tarmac in a puddle of his own blood, hearing through the downpour the cry of some enormous bird, and the beating of wings.

Mr Charles

Dear Lady Charles,

My father asked for me to write to explain the passing of your honoured husband Mr Charles. When we heard that a great white hunter would arriving at our village it was said I must be his help on the river as in all the village I have the most quantity of English.

Mr Charles says he would hunt Katongo so the elders first tried to fill him with discouragement; but your husband is too brave and none could speak to him of fear. Our people say that Katongo has lived in the river for two hundred seasons and has drawn to him the knowledge and deception of all things. Mr Charles (who has the great English knowledge of crocodiles) said, “They only live for forty years my ill-educated friends but this Katongo surely is the largest croc in the Zambezi”.

We found Katongo two days later on the warm sands by the broken pools but he fled to the reedy waters at the sight of the rifle. It is only in this moment I know Mr Charles is a fearless hunter. As he wades in to pursue his prey he whispers, “show no fear boy, the wily bugger is pretending to be a log but I see him”.

The polished English rifle splintered the rotten log into a thousand pieces. I think Mr Charles had time to understand: he looked back at me, confused but not afraid, before he was taken. Mr Charles was the greatest hunter from your village of England, but Katongo is still the greatest hunter in our lands.

Yours mournfully,
Merawaya

Awakening

When I saw her across the room the pulsing music and strobing lights faded into the background. She was cat-lithe and moved with dancer’s grace but it was her eyes that held my attention: indigo with slit scarlet pupils. I had seen eyes like that before.

Since childhood people had disagreed about the colour of my eyes: some said green, others brown. None thought my slit pupils strange and none saw the indigo that I saw in the mirror each morning. By the time I was five I had learnt that no-one wanted to hear the truth and the easiest path was to agree with my adoptive parents who always described them as hazel.

She crossed the dance floor without taking her eyes off me; shoving dancers out of the way carelessly with preternatural strength. Still holding my gaze she dropped to one knee before me and then slowly bowed her head. Her voice was strong and clear, perfectly audible over the thumping music: ‘My lord, long have your servants sought you.’

Then she looked up into my face hesitantly; searching my eyes. ‘Is it as we feared sire? Has all memory of your true nature left you?’

In that moment I remembered everything: the long centuries of my life, the ancient enmities and the fierce pride of my people. I smiled as I shrugged free of this mortal prison.

The Eye of the Tiger

There it was – a golden yellow brilliance that seemed to illuminate the far end of the cavern. It was the Eye of the Tiger! The man thought back to all he had done to get here: the shimmering desert sands crossed so arduously; the barbarous blades and arrows evaded; the ancient traps disarmed.

Now, finally, the stone was within his reach. He pushed back the brim of his hat, wiped his forehead and began painstakingly to search for any final surprises. There was no sense in hurrying foolishly now.

Unfortunately, this wisdom was not shared by his last remaining guide, Karkul, who leapt forward intoxicated by the size and brilliance of the stone. Karkul had barely crossed a quarter of the space when the floor collapsed beneath him and the guide fell with it, his shrieks echoing behind him.

Sighing, the man examined the last spot on which the unfortunate guide had trod. A shaft of light spanned the cave and disappeared into the shadows on the far side. His torch illuminated the triggering mechanism cunningly hidden in the far wall.

Carefully stepping over the beam of light, he peered into the gaping chasm but could see no bottom. He detached the lasso from his belt and used it to swing over the rift, landing neatly next to the carved stone beast in whose talons the yellow diamond rested. He pried the stone from its setting and carefully placed it in his knapsack.

Now to get out.