After a particularly harrowing semester, Daxes favoured working on her personal projects during her more ample downtime. At a glance, her projects were comparisons and statistics that looked the same as any notes from her comparative perspective classes. With a more detailed inspection, one could observe that the studies she recorded in her spare time were significantly more complex and oriented well-outside of the categories examined in any of her courses’ curriculum.
Maintaining the most objective point of view for analysis, she was in the habit of taking preliminary notes from afar. In most situations, collecting face-to-face data required a glamour. At her university, Daxes navigated the social change school clubs in and out of as much, though not an active participant herself.
Her pastime wasn’t confined to her campus. In human guise she could be found at every other university within practical travel distance. She extended as far as talking to teachers and administrators in elementary and secondary schools, questioning youth programs organizers, conversing freely with instructors and local sociologists, and catching herself idly making notes on the patrons of the coffee shops she spent lunches in.
While school taught her the tools of the trade and trained her in the political and social aspects of sociology, Daxes was imbedded in the phenomena surrounding supernatural creatures and affiliated people in social environments. She had written entire papers on changes in group behaviours and origins of cultural structures, and how they cross-pollinated when subjects from different cultural and creature origins inhabited an environment together. Entire notebooks of data were filled on model situations, accounting for the fact that society doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
When started, she could talk endlessly regarding personality traits as opposed to supernatural attributes in relationship building.
Her friends found it interesting, her peers found it extraordinary and her family, on occasion, would listen raptly while certain aunts – and one uncle – would start arguments. Those who didn’t have either a basic understanding or a foundation of a relationship with her were more than often found charging off in the opposing direction. Especially those unaware of preternatural existence.
She herself regarded it as so compelling that, besides her multiple published papers, she had enough material for an entire book. Or three.
Having grown up in a wholly family-oriented environment within an even further isolated society, she found every single person and creature fascinating, especially non-paraos. The fact that these people socialized with other people regardless and working around their own various preternatural attributes, species and cultural background therein was riveting.
Her childhood had been wing-wrestling with others her age, being taught arithmetic and algebra by aunts, conceptual topology by uncles, flight and flight physics by her mother, and grooming and paraos history by her father. Her social upbringing was entirely by her kind, with all its intricacies of gender roles. All of which filled her sense of a default society, with human society an drastic reverse and generally found on the extreme end of a spectrum if found in a spectrum.
With inherent cultures still prevalent among most species; interspecies socialization – especially including humans or under the parameters of human society – were nothing short of fascinating to Daxes. Outside of profession and passion, Daxes thoroughly enjoyed her own part in the platform of cultural crossovers. The extent of her respect to the validity of every single person’s experiences made her well-respected in turn, often instantly befriended and at times a role model.
Daxes took the attitude that this was basic social decency and went about her way.
Time began as a fluid – at times contracting and layering into a more viscous composure – wherein nothing and everything existed on a purely molecular scale, sans molecules. ‘Time’ itself is a misconception; in an infinity of material, energy and force, condensed, leavened and occasionally exploding, ‘time’ was a fallacy. Primordial and anti-history, every atom, second and joule composed pre-time.
Such a simmering, frozen brew was – sometimes is and occasionally will be – pre-time, that no thing existed. Not once did more than two particles ever bond, and then only to ricochet off one another and tumble back throughout oblivion.
Here among the genetic makeup of the universe exists the consciousnesses of the greatest beings to ensue. Awareness and thought formulated into individuals well before any semblance of bodies or hint of probable physical entities.
Here is Sigge.
Not the birth of Sigge – who would argue the body essentialism of ‘birth’ – but somewhere along the timeline of Sigge’s existence near its beginning. Relatively. In the molten construction of pre-time, an existence such as Sigge’s had already been around for so long it was difficult to differentiate if pre-time even emerged before the being of great self-worth.
As much as Sigge started with little to no considerable self.
The fluid nature of particles, their vague sense of distinction between being a part of one thing or another made pre-time and the basis of all things ever-changing and ever-shifting. Within a potentially, relatively short period of time, everything consisting of Sigge’s make-up could become some portion of energy or a potential solid object. Sigge could as easily be comprised of nothing as it could be the sensation ‘cold’ or the second between breaths whenever breaths would become viable happenstance. This respective formation of physique – without physical presence – was not an individually unique occurrence, but perhaps a notable one.
In the swarm of consciousnesses lapsing in and out of existence, of every iota changing its entire whole into something different, new. Of millions upon millions of facets and aspects that would eventually form time and the universe as seen fit slowly forming, excluding that which would not come into being and including that which would. Amongst it all, Sigge – as inconstant as Sigge’s existence was – was constant.
Siv Vaduva, judging by hir bathroom, clearly did hir hair by magic.
Ze also lit the apartment at night by magic, given the various lamps unplugged and missing lightbulbs.
While Siv spent a fair portion of hir time practising levitating pens, ze had definitely graduated to the slightly more difficult standard magical activities. In the practitioner’s club room, ze never talked about hir own developments and instead ze listened, taking in the experiences, debates and lectures from other practitioners to aid hir own pursuit for mastery in the practise.
Ze also took everything said there with a grain of salt, knowing that plenty of the people populating the guild were poor examples of scholars of magic.
And some were just there to raise themselves.
Ze hirself had realistic ideals for hirself, that ze worked hard towards without falter.
Siv’s life had led to now, and every step ze took consciously worked for hir goals. Ze took pleasure in hir green hair and the occasional show ze was often surprised to catch a glimpse of Henry at.
Meau propped herself up on an elbow and lifted her silencing hand only to press a finger against her lips. She pointed at the nearest kitten and nodded her head towards it.
Jim blinked, not even beginning to be awake, at the gently snoozing cat. She shrugged at Meau and tugged her shirt straight.
On the loveseat, Henry’s legs were akimbo over the back and an armrest. He didn’t fit on the two cushion couch that Meau couldn’t accommodate herself horizontally on, on a good day.
Next to the Acid Lickers patch on the calf of his pants, a halestelan kitten was deep asleep. It stirred, flicked its tail, and repositioned its head with a great and mighty snore.
Jim immediately dropped her forehead into a palm. She mouthed ‘fuck’ while Meau nodded ‘I know’ over her shoulder. ‘It’s too early for this,’ she mouthed clearly and emphatically, before gingerly getting to her feet and tiptoeing to brush her teeth.
Meau rolled out of bed and pulled her pants on halfway to the kitchen and instant coffee. She managed to narrowly avoid the bearded dragon sleeping in the most inconvenient location, stretched out in prime real estate for being stepped on.
Henry shifted anxiously from foot to foot and glanced over his shoulder at what could be made out of the manmade structures in the dusk.
The air around them gave a sudden, violent shift and found the three gasping for breath. Henry barely managed to stay upright with the wind knocked out of him. Meau sucked in a long breath and kept her ground while Jim appeared to be sputtering but much stronger in her stance.
Everything that wasn’t a solid object had just moved about four hundred meters to the left.
Flames holding strong, the light of the fading sun and eerier blue of the fire shimmered just on the side of too dark. As though someone had turned down the dimmer switch on the world.
Scraef Mid Scrithan was, notably, the interior of a volcanic cave.
The bundle of cedar twigs faded down into the ground. Meau let out the smallest measure of an exhale but only steadied herself further.
One down, three to go.
Green of hair and grey of eye, with more perceptive sense than hir coworkers, the waitren of Stealheed Drinkery lived a pretty inconspicuous life, barring some minor legal indiscretions in hir teenage years. Ze was good at hir job, good with pub patrons and even a little good with magic.
Which is why Meau spotted hir when she was passing through the smoky, whiskey doused club room for practitioners, on her way to a meeting with Narinder Gurram in the magister’s boardroom. The municipal offices for waterworks occupied a fairly large, glazed office building and contained all the engineering and public relations for said waterworks. This only took up half of the space and the rest – coated in mahogany panelling and bathed in warm, almost firelight – held all the needs for the local mage’s guild. Including, but not limited to, practitioner’s club room, personal offices, standardized use rooms and a racquetball court. All of which on a singular floor, collapsed from the many storeys of the building.
The entirety of the waterworks’ employees had not even the vaguest notion of what the building contained, only that their offices certainly seemed a little small for the size of the premises, that all the electrical was quite old for a newer building and whenever engineers started to question the building design, they were sent to do field calculations. In Somena, regardless of municipal jurisdiction.
“I really don’t think anyone of us, with our extreme lack of swordfighting skills, wants to fight a cudgel when we’re all essentially falling asleep standing up,” Jim added, once they had gone well past the man.
The worst part, generally, about the sorts of issues they tackled was that the majority of them needed to be resolved as soon as possible, before any serious damage or harm was done. They couldn’t wait until that night to handle this problem in particular, and they much preferred to settle the matter before most of the world was up and about, ready to witness. Or before the estate sale agent was in the shop.
Henry laughed when they came within sight of said shop. “Well, fuck, I could’ve slept a little longer.”
Tending to the door with a set of keys was a very short – shorter than Meau, the shortest of the trio – man of middling age, greying hair and tan trench coat that seemed effective against the rain. He had yet to notice them and was mostly pressed into the doorway for protection from the weather.
“It’s not even seven yet.” Jim hurried to catch up to Meau’s sudden change of pace.
The man managed to slip inside the shop before Henry could hail him. Henry proceeded to almost slip and fall in his rush to shoulder the door in, before the man could lock it again. Meau jogged in afterwards, pressed close to Henry’s back to grab the sword if need be.
Henry bemoaned their fate of having to go to East Chilko.
“It’s not that bad, Amy Nore lives in… that neighbourhood. The one with the clock.” Jim frowned at herself and how tired she was. “You know what I’m talking about.”
Visiting the halestelan wasn’t necessarily a tiring task, until one factored in the bus ride as far as the buses would go into the mountainside, the hike off path and under a hill into one of the sort-of-alternate-dimensions parallel to the one they generally walked around. And then it was another good while until they managed their way to Ruth, which was past the silver sycamore and in the forest of leafless trees.
Meau made the most derisive noise she could before flopping forward to grope for tea. “Amy Nore rides an electric scooter and uses the bike lane.”
The hysterical laugh that erupted high and out of the back of Henry’s throat encapsulated how exhausted into delirium the man was and that inside voices were quite essential, especially at two in the morning. “Fuck, sorry.”
In Meau’s hands, her cup shook and her tea was snorted into. “Too tired.”
“Tomorrow’s gonna be shit,” Jim chimed, already through one cup of tea and onto another.
Slew against the floor, Henry nodded in a way that portrayed the lack of control he held over his jaw. “Tomorrow’s gonna be shit.”
Brogas weren’t eald fells but they were within the same sub-class, genealogically speaking.
With hollowed out eyes, the broga was an image of a wizened man who hadn’t eaten in fifty years and was maybe two and a half feet too tall. Not too tall for the space he was in, or relative to other creatures, but just two and a half feet too tall.
Meau screwed up her face for a moment, gathering the right words and the confidence to say them. “Greetings.”
The broga nodded but showed no signs of being able to speak; their lips appeared cracked and moulded together.
“We are in possession of this book,” she continued, watching the broga look down to the tome in Jim’s hands with his gaping, dark holes for eyes. “You are the supplier of goods for this book. May we have your name?”
The sickening sound of the broga’s lips opening almost drowned out the clatter of sounds that pronounced their name.
After some very lowly spoken words by Meau regarding Greg Hanson’s situation and that he might as well see what they were planning to do with him, the man conceded to lament and sulk the entire way to the pub with minimal mind to try running away again.
Henry felt the need to throw Greg Hanson into the booth they slid into.
“Well, that could have gone worse,” Henry commented, without any time for response from either of the other booth inhabitants as an androgynous waitrex strolled over. “A pint. No, two.”
Quirking a green eyebrow, the waitrex smirked and turned to Meau.
Meau dropped her chin, levelled a dark look at them from under her brows and very seriously said, “Potatoes.”
“Fries, lots, gotcha.” She scribbled this and pointed to Greg Hanson.
Legal something-insignificant, Greg Hanson started to question whether he should be afraid, confused or just feel a little awkward since he clearly didn’t know what they were talking about. Until Meau dawned it upon him.
“Your cast and curse was messy at best, and if it weren’t so harmless I’m sure we’d be in a significantly different situation right now.”
The waitrex cut in with Henry’s pints and a comment on the potato’s time of arrival.
“One without beer,” Henry helpfully added, eagerly starting in on his lunch.
At the corner of 1st and Skeena, Meau blew bubbles with technicolor gum and an air of mastery. Her focus appeared to be completely elsewhere but this didn’t diminish the skill with which she produced ballooning rainbows and snapped them back without any mess applied to her bundled attire.
By mid-January, the city seemed as though it would never recover from its winter chill that crept in with the Fall’s fog and general wet. The turn into the snow season defined only that buses would slop through slush filled roads and kick up those remains of an attempted white holiday onto the unsuspecting ankles of pedestrians new to the city.
Meau’s boots, boot liners, long johns and year-round toque indicated she was a seasoned citizen and knew better than to stand at the curb next to a slush puddle. Her gaze was fixed on the second floor window above the revolving door entrance to what was mostly a law firm.
The clock is a dizzying blur but you’re pretty sure you’re heading head over heels into the bleary-eyed hours for anyone retaining their vision to make out the hour and minute hands. This isn’t your first concussion, and not the first acquired by a well-aimed brick, but with the sudden onset of symptoms and that overall queasy, unbalanced notion down to your fingertips – it might as well be.
Outside, where the grass is spray painted green, your missing shoe collects dew. A passing racoon considers snatching the foreign object.
As though the bus ride to the car park wasn’t bad enough, your friend decided to test the laws of physics on their notably aged vehicle. Safe within arguably beige walls, you manage to suppress the urge to hurl and drag your used mug from the kitchen to the bedroom. The soft groan accompanying a shift of weight into the mattress hints at a cracked rib or two. Conveniently close, the mug rests on your nightstand already with a pool of blood covering this morning’s coffee dregs.
Pre-Nano Notification - Hellborne Universe
Nanowrimo is coming, beware! Prepare yourselves. Lock your doors, hoard toilet paper and make sure your loved ones are safe.
During this upcoming November, the staff of Reasons for Coughing Blood at 2am - me and only me - will be focusing on whatever piece of fiction I will be fiddling with. Last year I worked on something I could nearly publish, this year probably not. I will, however, post excerpts - as is the tradition, since I started on tumblr for that sole purpose - and any time I want to step away, I’ll be working on the Hellborne Universe.
In Hellborne Universe news, I do have many shorts in the works, developing Foxhorn’s character and introducing the final players into the climatic ending resulting in the circumstances that sit at a simmer, brewing for twenty years to culminate in the events of Helsinki’s timeline. Like a good cheese, or wine, or couch food.
If you want updates more often - as well as inane ranting - about the Hellborne Universe check out the Hellborne Universe tag at my personal tumblr. Or just track that shit.
Enjoy pumpkin season, and wait in anticipation for Nanowrimo clogging your dash.
Leixes tried to look normal for the first time in his life, and did his best not to inch towards his only escape.
Foxhorn, meanhwile, was negotiating prices.
The contacts section in Foxhorn’s phone was Schrodinger’s argument for absurdity. Most days he left it in the Pipes.
Since last Thursday, he had taken the habit of carrying it with him.
Currently it was bursting to life in his pocket, a beacon of light without sound or vibration because Foxhorn wasn’t expecting any calls just then. Calls came from clients and the occasional favour being called in which Foxhorn quite reasonably categorized the same as any client; which was ‘work’. And ‘work’ was becoming his life – his entire life – without any downtime. His phone never came to life for any casual appointments.
No one actually in his phone actually called him. Aside from past clients and the occasional middle man – all of whom Foxhorn tended to have poor and short-lived relationships with – his phone still and only listed everyone he had worked with in the ICU. Every contact and informant, every agent he had worked with and some he just spent time in bars with, filed away as though he was still allowed to have them, as though the majority of them hadn’t been changed since he left.
He was called for jobs, job assists and, like right now, the person he was giving offhand support to was currently irrationally stressing over the issue that needed Foxhorn’s help and just had to know how he was doing.
Foxhorn was too busy shoving a chair in a billy-jawed demon’s face to even know he was getting a call, nevermind answering it.
The chair splintered into an impossible jigsaw puzzle, in the same time it took Sigge to swallow his phone whole on Thursday just to spite him.