Wednesday, 22 March 2017

[Northspell 16] The princess talks to herself

"Why are you pretending to be me?" Irena asked.

"Why are you pretending to be me?" the impostor retorted, in exactly the same voice.

"You're the one that's pretending," Irena protested, desperately searching for something that would mark out the other girl as the impostor she was. She studied the face in front of her and saw nothing untoward there. It was exactly the same as the face she'd seen in the mirror before she left her rooms in the palace and all this trouble started.

"What's your name?" she asked suspiciously.

"Princess Irena Mariya Imaldi," the impostor promptly replied.

"But you CAN'T be..." Irena said, thumping her hand against the door in frustration. "That's ME. At used to be," she said slowly, an idea coming to her that might catch the impostor out. "I'm just called Irena now, so you see, I'm really me and you, you're just a...just an old shadow." She was quite pleased with this reasoning, although she wouldn't have liked to explain it back to Books Mistress.

The shadow looked confused, then she made a face that Irena realised with a shock must be her 'trying not to cry' face. The girl crouched down on the ground, curling into herself. Irena almost felt sorry for her, and knelt down beside her. She wasn't quite sure what to do, especially now that the girl was sobbing quietly and trying not to show it. She thought of what Arkel had done when Gia had her nightmare, and awkwardly draped an arm over the shoulders of the other girl. "Um...there there. Don't cry. Stop it.'ll all be another colour by the morning?" Whatever that meant.

The girl looked up, wiping tears from her cheeks with dirty fingers that left streaks. Irena felt the question before she asked it. "No, I dont know what it means either."

"But if I'm not Irena Mariya Imaldi then who am I?"

"You mean WHAT are you." Irena quickly corrected her, and almost felt sorry for it. 

The girl looked as if she was about to cry again. "I am a person you know..."

"People can't just appear out of nowhere, therefore you're something -I don't know quite what yet-  but you can't be a person." Irena reasoned in a clear-headed manner that Books Mistress would have been proud of. She thought she heard a noise out in the street and peered around the doorway to check. "Stop your crying a moment, I need to listen for Gia coming back..."

The street was empty. She turned back to see Arkel's head poking down through the gap between the door and the wall.

"Are you talking to yourself?" he asked, eyebrows raised.

"No, I'm..." Irena faltered, confused. She shifted her legs in the small space, and stood up, suddenly conscious that she almost missed the other girl who was not her.

"You're crazy." Arkel said cheerfully, before he was pulled away and replaced by Toban's furious face.

"Hush up, the pair of you, or I'll knock your heads together. This is serious business and the two of you sitting there clacking away like a pair of tea merchants."

Monday, 6 March 2017

Beautiful People link up: Em

Em from Glory Brats. She's an awkward half-feral mute child. Beware, she bites.

What’s their favourite book/movie/play/etc.?
She can't read, but she likes looking at the book that Sparrow is using to teach Tekla to read and write. She understands more than she lets on, but doesn't like the way the black marks jump all over the page. Her favourite part is licking the glue off the pages.

Is there anything they regret doing?
She regrets nothing! She lives in the moment and is probably overall the happiest of the Brats. If something bad happens, she generally bites someone and moves on.

If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?
Bee would feed her syrupy things from their food stash, Zed would tend her wounds, Dee would finger-wrestle with her (and let her win), Tekla would build her a blanket fort and Sparrow would worry about how to get her to a medic.

Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?
She is insanely jealous of Tekla's soft toy bird and constantly finds dead things to carry around as a substitute because she thinks that's what Tekla's toy is. She doesn't understand why the others find this objectionable and keep taking her dead things off her.

What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?
Food, food, food, food and food.

Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.
Frayed wool hat, baggy t-shirt, dungaree shorts with big pockets (for stashing stuff), dirty sandshoes with mismatched laces. Sometimes bandage mittens that Sparrow ties on to stop her scratching, but she tears these off as soon as she can.

What’s their favourite type of weather?
She likes all kinds, but especially storms. She could watch lightning and listen to thunder rolls all night.

What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?
When Exchange is besieged by the Outsiders and the Glory Brats sneak into their camp. Em is caught stealing food and starts biting the guards when they catch her, and the others have to rescue her.

What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?
She gets called Em at the research clinic because her designation is 'M' - mute. When Bee and Zed first find her, they nickname her 'Rat' because that's what they thought she was when they heard her scuffling around in the store room. Then when Sparrow joins them with her reading knowledge she tells them that the mark on Rat's wrist is a letter called 'M' and the one on Zed's wrist is a 'Z' and Bee's is a 'B'. Personally, she doesn't like the high, sharp sound of 'rat' but she likes the round, happy sound of 'emm'. So she ends up answering to that.

What makes their heart feel alive?
Being free. Climbing to the tops of things. Using the swing that Cap makes for them. Eating food until she's full. Being with the other Brats, but she doesn't realise this until they get to Central and she gets taken away from them all.

If you want to see the other blogs in the link-up then pop on over to Paper Fury

Saturday, 4 March 2017

[Glory Brats] More Bee and Zed

They couldn't break the door. Not even when Zed jammed the back of the chair under the gap at the bottom of the door and tried to lever it open. Exhausted, they sat down in the dim green of the emergency lighting inn silence. Zed stared at the wall. "I didn't know there was anyone else here," he said eventually.

"I wasn't always here." Bee replied slowly. "Before, I was...somewhere else."

"What was it like?"

"Noisier than here."

Zed kicked his feet against the wall. Then he stoped, and scrambled onto his knees to investigate. "There's a grate in the wall here, by the floor, look."

Bee felt around the small metal rectangle with her fingers. "So?"

"So, I can see through it to the other side, into another room. We can get it off the wall and crawl through."

"IF we can get it off the wall..."

"I can get it off the wall." Zed said with quiet confidence. He opened the medicase and removed the set of tweezers. He slid the end of one of the squared-off points into the slot in the first of the screws. It slipped out of place the first few times he tried to turn it, but the grip held, and soon he had the satisfaction of feeling the screw getting looser and looser. It toppled out and rolled around on the floor.

"Is that it off?" Bee asked.

"Just the first one. Another three to go."


Zed didn't say anything, but rooted around in the medicase for a bit. When he'd found what he wanted, he tapped Bee on the shoulder. "Here. Careful - the end's really sharp."

He placed a smooth, flat piece of metal in her hands. She ran her fingers along it to the point. "Ow."

The other end's flat so you'll get a better grip." Zed explained. "You can work on this side and I'll do the other." He showed her where the grate was fixed on to the wall and saw that she could find the tiny gap in the screw.

With both of them working, they got on much faster. Bee finished first. Once she knew what to do, she could turn the screws quicker than Zed could. She held the grate in place so that it didn't fall off the wall as the final screw clinked to the floor. Zed put down the tweezers. "You can take it away now."

Bee put the grate to one side and felt the empty space in the wall with her hands. "It's not very big," she said doubtfully.

"It's big enough."

Zed stretched his arm through the wall to the other side and felt around the opening there. Then he edged himself into the hole, twisting his shoulders round to fit through the gap. Once on the other side, he stuck his head back though.

"C'mon Bee, you can do it."

"Course I can," she said huffily, lying almost flat to feel her way through the space and shuffling forward.

They found themselves in a large room filled with open shelving units. All the boxes on the shelves were sealed shut, apart from one. Zed opened the top of it and pulled out a metal can wrapped in colourful paper. He turned it over to look at the base, and passed it to Bee.

"It's a food can," she said.


"They had them at the other place. It's what food comes in."

Food for Zed came three times a day on a flat plastic tray. He couldn't think why food would come wrapped in metal.

"It's to keep it from spoiling. Going bad. Doesn't taste nice. Makes you sick." Bee sounded pleased that she knew more than Zed about something.

"The picture on this one looks like the green stuff they give us sometimes," he said.

"What does it look like?"

"I just said."

"No, I mean properly."

Zed thought for a minute. "They're small and round. And green."

"What does green look like, smartboy?"

"Bright, um..I don't know, it just is."

Bee crooked a finger into the ring pull at the top of the can and yanked it open. She scooped a handful of the contents out and shoved them into her mouth. She held the can out to Zed. "Peas. They're peas, idiot."

Zed took another can from the box and copied her actions to open it. " Mm, this one's sweet." He passed the can to Bee. "I like this one. What are they?"

She tasted the contents of the can. "Cherries. Me too." She held the can back out, but jerked her arm back as they both heard a scuffling noise from the darkness at the back of the room.

"What's that?" she whispered.

Zed peered through the gaps in the stacked boxes. "I can't see anything..."

"Some use you are." Bee got into a crouch and waved at Zed to do the same. They tiptoed round to the other side of the shelves. "What can you see now?"

"It just looks like a pile of blankets. I can't see anything more without going closer." Zed looked longingly towards the door. "I can get through that lock in no time..."

"Don't be such a coward. It's probably just a rat."

"What's a rat?"

"They scuttle. And like the dark. And food. They bite babies sometimes too."

"We should leave it alone then. I don't want to get bitten."

"It won't bite you. Unless you're a baby about it."

Zed didn't know what a baby was, but he didn't want to be one. Bee didn't make it sound like a good thing to be. He took a step closer, and was going to take another when he froze. "It moved!"

"Where? Poke it."

"You poke it!"

Bee sighed. "Fine. Give me something to poke it with."

Zed looked around and siezed on a long-handled brush. "Here."

"Where am I poking?"

He moved the broom into position, and Bee shoved the end of it into the pile of blankets. Something within the pile squealed and scurried out towards them. Bee flailed the end of the broom around, hitting Zed on the knee. He cried out and grabbed the broom handle, jamming the end of it ender his arm for support.

"Did I get it? Where did it go? Can you see it?"

"No, you didn't get it. You got me!" Zed rubbed at his sore knee, keeping a close eye on the thing perched on top of the shelves, gripping at the metal and baring its teeth at them. "I don't think it's a rat though...I think it's one of us." He kicked at the blankets that had been formed into a sort of nest, and revealed empty cardboard boxes and scattered crumbs.

*** *** ***

Dee soon tired of swinging in the chair. The shelves on the walls only held solid blocks of paper all spoiled by black marks. There was a large sheet of clear paper on the desk, and a bundle of graphite sticks, but after he'd covered the first sheet with scrawling marks he got bored and instead fell to exploring the rest of the room.

One full wall was covered with large plates of glass in metal frames, with smudgy darkness beyond. He tried to break through the glass, but it was too strong. He raised a fist, and pulled it back to punch again, but caught sight of his own blurred reflection. He laughed, then frowned, making silly faces that were mirrored in the vast expanse of glass.