Friday, July 13, 2012
He slithers in the blue laboratory glow.
His silver words are silent needles.
No more seduction with your whiplash tongue
I'm your master now
Lash out with your claws
(No one can hear you)
Grip me with your screams
(Will they still fear you)
Fingers like white worms
And wrath electric in your eyes
My prince of lies,
your lies will bring you
to your knees.
He whispers smoke into the water
He paints the pictures that you love
No more twisting and deceiving
Trapped by your own doings
You're weaving your own pain
with every word
Tell me, are you still the hunter?
(and where is your kill)
Liar, magic bound with wire
(have you had your fill)
Now you're stifled, struggling
with your tongue behind your teeth
My lord of lies,
You have no lies to hide beneath
My prince of mischief,
You're a thief without a steal
And in the end, it is you
who'll always kneel.
Friday, June 29, 2012
The flimsy Formica threatens to buckle in protest if I leave my phone unanswered, so I pick it up and press the little green button.
“I found some of your records.”
My precious old vinyls. Surely I’d picked them all up long ago. “The Ramones?”
“The…the old Cream ones. And some Jefferson Airplane, I think.”
“I don’t listen to Jefferson. Never did.”
“Listen, I gotta leave in ten. I’m working on something really big. You’d be blown away by it.”
“Ooh. When can I see it?”
“Soon.” I let a smile colour my voice.
I should finish around five, six. Six-thirty max.”
“I’ll see you then. Don’t… .”
I want to say Don’t do anything stupid, but it’s so clichéd, isn’t it? So I cut the call short. He would be hurt by this. Too late; my thick oafish fingers had done the deed.
It is probably too late to reverse what I’d set in motion. All I can do is watch the paint chips fall.
* * *
His tongue glides across dry lips, reminding me that it was as wont to spin its own untruths as hide behind mine. Old memories curl ghost-like around us as we sit with our backs to the dying sun.
“You’re losing your touch,” I say as I take a swig of cold Chang. The Thai beer reminds me of our balmy days in Bangkok; I’d been haunting my local shops for it ever since. “Cream records my ass. I bought exactly one record, and it wasn’t even one of their best.”
He smiles. “I am getting rusty. Perhaps I rely on you too much.”
Eight years old. Stolen candy and the neighbouring kid's scraped knee. Our unruly scraped elbows versus flashy tricycle and Forbes 100 parents. Howling, high-pitched accusations. And in the middle of it all, a fair-faced boy with buttery words running off his small pink tongue. While the candy-smeared hand remained hidden and the big brother stood up for him. The one who always stood up for him, and would continue to do so. Lies upon lies.
We won the battle. We would win again ten years later, when a few well-placed phrases and the signature of a teacher that did not exist helped secure a place at a prestigious university. The kid with the Forbes parents was not so lucky. Born with a silver spoon, but not a silver tongue.
It was a life built on deception. It was a good life.
Lying could save you from trouble. It could save you from bullies. From getting skinned by a disciplinary belt. From the wrath of women you were no longer in love with. From those whose delicate egos would have been crushed by the blunt force of honesty.
And was it so bad, in the end? If we were to count the people we had actually hurt with falsehoods on one hand, we'd still have fingers left.
So when is it alright to spare the truth?
And when are truth and lies equally cruel?
My blog is a confusing place, full of half-finished stories and random snippets.
Here's yet another tale (which is almost complete; or at least, I already have an ending. Which is comforting, because I NEVER know how my stories will end until they do.)
Another wake-up call. Another alarm piercing through the haze of what-hour-is-this.
I pick up the phone. “Yeah.”
The broken voice at the other end attempts to say my name properly.
“What is it now?” I ask, knowing I won’t get an answer.
“I…I don’t know.” (pause) “I don’t know why I called.”
A long pause.
“I think I’m going to throw up.” He sounds raspy, used.
“Go on. I’ll still be here when you’re done.”
“No…no wait, it’s passed.”
My bed calls me back, nice and warm. “You need me to come over.”
“No, no. It’s alright.” A discreet sniffle.
“Where are you?”
“Right.” I fumble for my pants in the dark. “Give me fifteen minutes.”
* * *
His shoulders are thinner than I remember. My large, rough hands feel oafish on this once-elegant frame, whittled down by a steady diet of Dunhills and absinthe. It doesn’t make sense. Then again, few things do at 4am.
We were both artists. I a painter and performance artist, he a poet and journalist. One of us got into Yale and a promising career. The other got into trouble with bankers and loan sharks.
What can I say? Journalism pays better than fine art.
Ours was a family of clerks and bankers and quantity surveyors, when we weren’t barmaids or shop-keeps or security guards. He had been our shooting star. He had been our hope. At least, he was mine. My one link to redemption – that I am somehow related to this brilliant, beautiful person.
And here he is: still as brilliant, and only slightly less beautiful.
I should be mad at him.
I wrap my arms around him and stamp out his cigarette, ignoring his faint protest.
We stand like that for an eternity as the clock ticks and the world drifts past in a daze, ignoring us as it always does.
“You’ll get yourself killed one of these days.”
“Ma called. Asked about you.”
“And what did you tell her this time?”
I grunt in place of a reply.
“You told me once that you’d do anything for me.” His feet swayed slightly; he leaned into me. “That you’d fight for me. You’d lie for me.”
“And how many lies have I told already?”
The head droops, angular chin against a hollow chest.
“You were always good at lies.” I squeeze his shoulders once before letting him go. From now on, you tell your own.”
When I walk away, he is still standing there, still as a sculpture, a Michelangelo weathered by wind and neglect. I would take a picture of him but the light’s not right.
Note: this story is ideally read as a whole, but for the purpose of easier screen reading, I'm breaking it up
Monday, June 25, 2012
Loki knows what it’s like to be broken.
Once, a fearsome giant challenged all of Asgard with his might, promising to build an impenetrable wall around the home of the Aesir gods in exchange for the hand of fair Freyja.
Loki had never liked Freyja. She was one of the preferred – one of the tall blond children who had mocked him during play for being strange and withdrawn, for preferring books to battle and quiet stables to quaffing parties.
Later she outgrew her ways and even courted his presence at her grand spring banquets. Freyja was mostly good-natured, if careless with her blunt words. But Loki has never been good at releasing grudges. Perhaps it was his greatest weakness. He urged the gods to take the giant up on his bet – if only to teach the brute some humility. His silver tongue did its trick; the Aesir agreed.
It turned out the brute was cleverer than he looked. His secret: the mighty, indefatigable stallion Svadilfari, four-legged builder of cities.
Within a fortnight the wall was half complete.
By the second moon, there was no chance of the giant losing. Or a fair goddess escaping marriage.
Loki and Freyja’s childhood rivalry leapt back to life with a fury. Everyone loved Freyja; and so she won. And Loki was threatened with a painful demise if he did not stop the wall from successfully encircling Asgard.
As always, he did the expected.
He made himself a beautiful mare.
The great Svadilfari stood no chance of resisting the exquisite female, with her pale silvery coat, lush man and musk-laced signals dripping from every pore. Her graceful canter and melodic whinnying lured the stallion through the depths of Mirkwood and across the plains of Alfheim, far from its mission in Asgard. Finally, when they had wandered far enough, Loki stopped to change back and weave a spell-trap for the stallion.
But not fast enough.
Before he could morph, the unstoppable Svadilfari leapt on top of him, crushing almost half the bones in his mare-frame and impaling him with its impressive phallus. It rode Loki with a terrible passion, further shattering his ribs, his chest, his hipbones. Loki screamed. All that emerged was a shrill neighing.
Again, and again, he was subject to Svadilfari’s burgeoning male instinct. He should have known this was no ordinary horse. Why had he not at least conjured a suit of armour for his mare-form? Damn it all to Nilfheim.
Red-hot. Pain. Punishment. Rape. A clever ploy turned disastrous. A voice that was not his own.
In the end he stopped fighting. It was better that way.
Long after his screams had turned to whimpers, the stallion’s seed was finally spent. Svadilfari wandered off to goodness knows where as Loki the mare lay panting, broken – and impregnated.
For eleven months (the gestation period for a horse) Loki would wander the plains and villages in animal form. Strangely enough, he found a strange, simple, almost bovine peace. He did not like it at first. But it was little use fighting; a horse’s mind is stubborn, strong, and it constantly overwhelmed his being until it seemed he could have spent the next ten years as a mare and lived content.
Then his child arrived.
Loki knew the build of a horse. He did not know (aside from basic bodily functions) how it actually worked. And he lacked a female instinct that might otherwise have aided him. So he fought the contractions, the swelling pain, until finally he could bear it no longer and wandered half-blind with panic into a breeder’s farm and into the owner’s skilled, merciful hands.
Labour was long and painful. The emerging of the foal – as strong and large as its sire – broke again the hipbones that had healed months ago. There was blood; surely more blood than was possible. Loki tried to calm himself. I am not really a beast, he reminded himself. I am not a beast. I am me – Loki Liesmith, Loki Silvertongue, mischief-maker – ahh – why was this so hard?
The pain flowed over the silver-maned mare. Her child burst out and nearly kicked her insides into ruin. There was warmth. There was wetness. There was something resembling…pride.
And love. Fierce, irrational love.
Then exhaustion swallowed everything.
Waking up in a stable on fresh hay – No.
NO. No waking up.
Limbs still; eyes closed; no. No NO NO. Wake up, trickster, wake up.
Where did memories end and present begin?
Memories of shape-shifting. Of pain. Of a simple animal’s mind.
Where was his mind now?
Airless. Can’t breathe. Wait; no need to breathe. He wasn’t really alive, anyway. Merely suspended.
Better to have died, no?
Glass; ice; thick; unbreakable.
Behind lids frozen close, carmine-red eyes briefly struggled like panicked butterflies to open. To see.
What did I do? What have I done?
Then there was a shrill white noise that drowned out all thought, all hope, and he slipped blissfully back into silence.
The Raiders of Svartalfheim
Hreidmar, leader of the black elves, held out an arm to halt his army. He approached the glimmering, half-buried object with the sureness of one who has been scarred by countless battles and come out of each one stronger. The sinews in his arms gleamed ebony.
“Regin. What make you of this?” asked Hreidmar.
The treasure-keeper approached the casket with his king’s consent and studied it carefully before running a light finger down the frosted surface.
“Enchanted glass, masterfully worked. Made by nothing more than pure magic and near impenetrable. A rare find.”
“Good. Fjalar, Galar, help him dig.”
The swarthy siblings stood forth – but Regin stopped them.
“There may be an obstacle in the way.”
“What be it, pray tell?” asked Galar.
Regin raised a thin eyebrow. “An Aesir godling, looks like. Trapped within the glass.”
Hreidmar strode to Regin’s side. “Let me see.”
As he bent over the glass surface, an arm like a tree trunk shot out to grip his wrist.
In a blink the black elves were in battle mode. Master archer Sindri aimed her bow at the figure that just a second before had been stone-still.
“Let it be, Sindri. I anticipated that it was still alive.” Hreidmar smiled.
The rock-like figure moved its moss-coated lips. “Break this casket, and I will break you, dwarf. You and your sapling army.”
A threatening murmur ran through the Svartalfar. Small they may be, but any insulting reference to their size was often drowned out by brief shrieks of pain.
“I do hope your muscles have not grown weak from stooping. For you tempt us into battle, mouldering one.”
With a great shudder, the mighty huntsman rose for the first time in nearly a year. Vines tumbled off him; roots that had begun to dig into the ground were uprooted. His once-golden hair was infused with grey-green moss.
“Try me, elf. What brings you and your scavengers?”
Hreimdar chuckled. “Aesir brutes. As diplomatic as ever, I see.”
“The gift of the silver tongue belonged to my brother, not to me.” Thor gestured to the glass shell. “He lies now encased in his own spell. And I would try to break the spell, if not for the fact that it may well be the only thing holding him together.” He looked into the Svartalf’s obsidian eyes. “And I ask you again: what brings you here?”
“My home has been over-mined,” the elf king replied. “The Dark Fields grow barren.”
“Whatever happened to your depthless caves of treasures?”
“Our industrious nature became our ruin; I will admit that much. We are greedy creatures, black elves. Not as content to rest on our earnings as you are. Dvalin here can tell you stories of our ancestors’ ancient boundless hunger. A hunger we inherited. The same that has brought us here.”
Thor moved slowly to shield the glass with his hulking shoulders. “You may take what you want, if you do not harm my brother by even a hair.”
As Hreimdar considered this dilemma, Dvalin spoke up. “If I may, my lord. Brokk could possibly find a way.”
“To prise enchanted glass from flesh and bone? That has never been attempted in the history of our kind, Dvalin. Not even by the great Brokk.”
“I would not underestimate him. He did craft the mighty hammer that our friend here wields,” Dvalin said, pointing to Mjolnir.
The weapon was half-enveloped by roots. Thor grasped it by its handle and, with a smooth tug, pulled it from its resting place and dislodging chunks of earth. The silver head gleamed once more. He held it upward.
“I swear by Mjolnir, gift of Brokk, that you may have every inch of this enchanted glass if you swear to return my sibling Loki to me unscratched.”
The Svartalfar collectively murmured.
"The deceiving Silvertongue?” Hreimdar chuckled drily. “This will be interesting.”
Thor pierced them with his gaze. “Swear on it.”
“We swear, Thor son of Odin, on the deep graves of our ancestors and our dying fields, that we will not break apart the glass if it threaten the life of your so-called sibling." He gestured to the rest. "And so do my men."
There was a chorus of assent.
Moments later, Galar and Fjalar had freed the casket of its burial ground and hefted it onto their broad, graceful shoulders. The Svartalfar marched toward home with the huntsman as their shadow.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
In the night of the cinema, you
poured yourself down my throat
like electricity, coursing through
my arms and wrapping yourself
around my shoulders like an
unwelcome lover; infiltrating,
penetrating, swelling my veins
and stilling my tongue except
for when it speaks of you.
Perfection in the angle of
your jaw line. Perfection
in the curve of your cheekbone.
Perfection, sharp and blinding,
in the length of your long fingers.
You crackle like sex and magic;
you rape me with the force of your
invisible scent. You are statuesque
and impenetrable, six feet tall on
the screen and six inches long as a
jagged shard in my aorta, creeping
ever closer to that vital chamber
where you will finally tear my
left ventricle and stop my blood,
my breath, with lust. You will
fill me till I can be filled no longer,
because you live by alien rules that
enable you to transcend time and
space so you can crawl between my
legs when I’m alone and suck me dry,
make me cry, make me hate you, make
me love you, make me your hollowed
vase filled with withered blooms that
vaguely resemble what I used to be.
I rue the day I knelt willingly at the
altar along with the millions to worship
your ruthless beauty and two-edged gifts
that you scatter for us to scramble over
like crazed maenads. I am mindless with
a hunger that can only be fed by your
silver tongue. Deceiver, weaver of
wayward thoughts, fill me again with
your knife-like eyes; pour out my mind
and fill it with your smooth limbs and
impregnate me until I disintegrate and
my bones melt into yours and serve to
make you ever stronger.
Monday, June 18, 2012
We are the hungry ones. Alabaster skin and full of teeth. We feed on the hollow chests of young not-yet-men; on the breasts of new mothers and old crones; on the squalling red flesh of month-old infants. We feed on those with love to give. Love enough to fill us and blunt the gnashing of our inner maws. Love. What we cannot give, we need to live.
We are the last of our kind. We are the ancient gods kept alive by fading faith. And in place of lost faith, we are driven to seek that which you give so generously.
Love. Such a soft, whispery word; yet so broad in its promise, falling so easily from human lips. Want, need, lust, longing, greed, childish craving – all these and more are confused with love. Love in its distilled form, as a singular emotion, is given by very few. Those who claim to own it do not. Those who pour it out freely do not own it.
Or perhaps, all roads lead to love. The fount of all sentiment – including hate. The fount that we as gods must now drink from. Once, humans sought from us an elusive elixir. Now we drink theirs from their backyards, their streets and beds; in the dead of night, in the daylight, in the tender place between their collarbones. We drink and drink. But our appetites are as immortal as we. And so it goes on: the sucking, the dark, the great empty. Gnashing fangs in our bellies. Hunger in our eyes.
Faith, once given freely, is lost. Our temples lie in ruin. Humans of today give their blind belief to an invisible force. And we are left shrinking in the rubble.
They are so selfish with their faith now. It is exclusive; celebrated in congregations and societies; it has rules, it has restrictions. But love! Humans are generous with love. They give it almost carelessly. It is not an ideal love – tangled as always with a morass of lust-hate-longing – but it is beautiful nonetheless, and filling.
So we feed. We drink deep. We suck away like carnivorous babes who refuse to release their mothers' teats. Without this elixir, we would be dust.
We are the ancient ones. The hungry ones.
And all we need is love.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Beneath The Glass
Eyes as red as blood. Hair as black as night. Bring me your heart, my dear.
The Mirror-keeper sees all. Past, present, future. Above all, he sees the Truth.
He sees the thunder-wielding huntsman bring down a buck with an effortless stroke and carve out its heart. Sees him come home and lay the glistening organ before the ones who had demanded it. Hears the claim of his half-brother's head being shattered by a last act of magic before he could take it.
Heimdall looks out across the Bifrost and wonders why the god of mischief had not escaped to Midgard, or to another realm that might have hid him.
Silvertongue; Liesmith; the dark prince. Always one for self-preservation. Always a survivor, hidden cleverly in shadow. He could have turned into a gnat, a bird, and flew with the wind. Why not, when it came as easily to him as breathing?
Why had the trickster's senses deserted him at the hour of his death?
The Mirror-keeper is wise. But he does not have all the answers.
* * *
The love of his brother is blinding as the hammer comes into contact with his hardening flesh.
- everything hurts -
Beneath his enchantment of glass, Loki cannot tell if he is merely wounded, or broken inside and out. Something about his body feels fragile; numb; not quite there. The strength of his magic holds him together in a case woven from both skill and instinct, and - yes - the terror of destruction. Terror he had never felt in all his life.
Would he still be whole if the armor holding him were to come off?
In the shadowy depths of Loki's subconscious, that last scene played over and over. He had planned it; mulled over it before his brother had emerged from the shadows to take him down. The decision was hardly emotional (or so he liked to believe). It had seemed the only logical way to neither live nor die. Or perhaps both.
Logical, and a dance with destruction.
It was the ultimate bet with himself: to see if he could cloak himself from the blow of the invincible Mjolnir, gift of the finest dwarven smith in all the Nine Realms. It seemed he had won. Or had he?
He remembered the thunder of its blow. Its first initial contact with the side of his head as everything slowed to a sonorous heartbeat for the briefest moment...and then -
- the world turned to pain -
It felt as if every bone in his body was being crushed by gigantic hands determined to turn him into dust. Perhaps he screamed. Perhaps the screaming was in his head and his lips, along with his whole frame, was already being sealed in frosted glass.
For days and months the scream would continue to echo in the recesses of his mind, even as his mind slowly deadened beneath the unmoving glass. Finally, as the skies changed and the sun rose and fell, the echoes grew softer and faded into velvet black. Velvet like the cool damp earth that cradled his self-made casket.
Two more seasons came and went. Loki's mind grew still as what life he had receded deeper into the core of his being. Perhaps this was death. Fading away. Growing smaller.
* * *
The golden-haired sentinel is suspended in vigilant half-slumber.
The woods and all its children are still.
The icy surface of the glass shell, half-embedded in earth, gleams faintly in the moonlight.
Then something breaks the silence.
Small sturdy feet march beneath the drooping boughs. A low rumbling song, as ancient as the oldest trees, carry over the lands. Coal-black eyes shine under helmets and hoods.
The Svartalfar are hunting tonight.
Some back-story on the Svartalfar, the dark elves - or dwarves as they are also known