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Micro-fiction Publications

Tale Foundry: Work Hazard

Original Post on Tale Foundry’s Page

The Oven
By C.W. Spalding

On the oven hung a sign which read “Do Not Enter.” Petre passed it every day as he loaded up the trolleys. The wheeled devices were so heavy, running in their treads like a train on a rail, and each one was chocked full of uncooked morsels of chicken. Each trolley was filled, pushed in, sealed up, and then set to bake.

“You about done?” Wurman asked.

“Just ’bout,” Petre replied.

He wiped the sweat from his brow on the sleeve of his plaid shirt and placed the last basket of legs on the cart. Wurman turned away to his own baskets; his quota was not nearly finished.

Man, it was hot. And loud. The industrial fans did little to quell the intense heat of the ovens’ baking.

“I’ve gotta piss,” Wurman said.

He was already behind.

“Hurry back,” Petre said warningly.

Wurman went hobbling off and Petre turned to push in his cart. But as he put his shoulder to the edge of the trolley, it didn’t budge. That was odd. He grunted with effort, pushing with his hips too. Still nothing. So, he glanced into the dark long tube of the oven.

There must be something on the rail.

When he stepped inside, the oven was cool. The tube was stale with the smell of grease. It muffled the monotonous roar of the factory. As Petre peered into the darkness, he pulled out his mini-flashlight.

Oh, there was the source of his troubles. A stray basket which must have fallen off the night before lay wedged with its corner in the rail’s divot. Quickly, he went inside to grab it. And he chuckled as he picked it up. Stupid thing.

But then he heard a rumble and he turned to get a face full of trolley as it was pushed in.

“Wurman?! Wurman!”

He could see the door, over the trolley. He cried out. But not louder than the factory’s noise. The last thing he saw was Wurman smiling, having done a good deed for his friend Petre, as the door… swung shut. The oven hurred to life.

Categories
Micro-fiction Publications writing

Tale Foundry: Creature

Leviathanslayer

Its teeth were like half-eaten apples: yellow and highly compostable. So Wynless buried them between the petunias and the lilies. As fertilizer. They sat, thirty whole, thirty needling teeth no larger than her pinky’s tip. And sprinkling them over the naked dirt she saw them wriggling through the soil like mealworms. The flowers grew up even as she scattered them. The bulbs got swollen, bloomed, and died before her very eyes.

Its stain-glassed eyes, though shriveled and smaller than her own, she hollowed out. Those she set over the flames of her candles at night to snuff them out, and they glittered like the death of a storm beneath the touch of a hot wick.

Its still-soft claws, dark and unnicked, she ran through a bracelet wire around her wrist. Its foot beans she plucked and crushed into an emerald paste which proved barely enough for a tube of her lipstick. Its wings she treated into leather for fingerless gloves, so small was the swath that remained.

The bony plate of its tail she heated for a tea-sized spoon and the vertebrae of its back served only to read the clattering fall of her future soon to come. Its quicksilver scales she pulled off its skin, forced up away from its flesh using her own bloodied fingernails for leverage. Each one no larger than the size of her own nail, each one bright and new as the moon when it’s heavy with light. From those silvery scutes she made herself a corset, she had only enough to lace the scales as bones across it, bones as hard and unforgiving as the crackling frost of her own, frozen-over soul.

It would have become Leviathan, the dragon of profundity. It’s name was Hutchley, who had worn away its egg-tooth off the tip of its snout beneath her back porch. Wynless was the Leviathanslayer, inheritance of infinity; Wynless was the Hutchleykiller, traitor of the honest heart.

And thus decorated with the many pieces of an odd little creature, she wove a prayer to the steel-domed sky.

Categories
Micro-fiction Publications writing

Tale Foundry Post :)

His Eye

Catching Jakaugh’s eyes had always been an unfair contest for Riley. How could she catch his seven when she had only two? And yet…

“Are you sure?” Riley asked with anticipation.

He blinked, one eye after the other, no two closing at once. She usually looked at the two that most easily matched her own, the pair as red as river clay. But today she glanced at them all: the pair over his brows which glimmered the same shade as blood from a papercut; and the pair which sat in the hollow of his cheeks which had the shimmer of spilled ink; and the one which sat at the root of his tongue, which she could only just barely see as he’d opened his mouth when she set her fingertips on his lips.

That one she’d never seen before.

That eye he’d never shown to anyone.

He swallowed, his throat bobbing against her other hand, but he did not move as she put her hand in his mouth and grabbed for the eye to pull it out. Riley had never done something so horrifying, but it was much easier than she’d expected. She dug in her nails around the eye, feeling the hot rush of blood, Jakaugh’s head jerking against the wall. But then the terribleness of it was over, and she pulled the thing out and let it set, still warm, in her hand.

Naked except for tatters of tongue, the eye stared up at her. Its iris was the color of her own soul, and its pupil was wide and dark and flat as the whole night sky. Seeing it, Riley forgot about Jakaugh’s rattling cough. She saw only the eye, and its reflection.

“Do you believe me now?” Jakaugh asked wetly.

Well, his eye seemed to tell the truth. It seemed as pure and truthful as the sunrise. It reflected her own face as though it were the face of a stranger.

“I guess,” she mumbled.

“Then-”

“I know.”

She closed her hand and kept closing until the eye popped and flowed out through her fingers.

Categories
Friends Micro-fiction Publications writing

Phicreb-Nu

This is worldbuilding for my current WIP: The Expertise. Since it’s not going to appear in the main plot, I figured I’d publish it here for funsies. Please enjoy.

By C.W. Spalding

In the post-partum of Nume—the beginning of His separation, when His hand first ripped up the meat of His own belly—the cavity of His abdomen grew sloppish. It was from His first rib to His groin that there emerged an astral sea. The smell of it was raspberries and rum. The taste of it was rock and rinds. The ocean was made of the flaking of His bowel mixed with His immortal blood. The squelching of His gut caused a terrible current in the sloshing soup of His own torn muscle, a current which slurped and swirled with endless fury. The surface of it shimmered green with bile, its liquid bearing the bitterness of His celestial fury. It was the rent-meat of His abdominal cavern, the mush-rage of His endless solitude.

From within this cavern of His body arose the first wondrous children—the stars who suckled at the gaps in His stomach and who made their homes atop the land-lumps of His flesh. There they filled themselves with the light of His blood, and named themselves with names. The first-born among them were Serra-Nu and Apri-Nu, named for their brightness and their girth. They were mother brightness-of-many, Apri-Nu. They were father brightness-of-none, Serra-Nu. And their younger siblings were as many as His Teeth. The star-names were impossible to count up, we know only a portion of them. Only those who have impressed their meaning on the minds of His holy humanesque.

Among those impressors, the green child Glaoh-Nu impressed through strange means. It died long before the birth of the first of the humans or their purified children, the humanesques. And yet it lives on in our minds, an aura of all it once had been. The Glaoh-Nu shone not with pale-tinted light, for they mistakenly suckled His prickled gallbladder. As such, their body grew in bitterness, as did their light. 

Because of this strange teat from which they fed, their face became the most deformed of all of Nume’s star children. Their body twisted with the bones bent out. Their snout was full of teeth and their eyes were full of tongues. Their nose was a broken eye which dribbled out an endless snot and they smelled by licking the string with the tongues of their eyes, tasting the air to see. They called themselves a star, but that is not the truth of the thing. The Glaoh-Nu was a creature apart, a thing which has not lived before or since under the vision of His Eyes. However, when all children are stars, there was no other thing by which Glaoh-Nu might be named.

The other stars fled from this Glaoh-Nu and their malformation; all other stars except Phicreb-Nu who was small and round as a drop of His tears.

Of all the children, Phicreb-Nu’s shape was like the perfect word of His lips. Her body had the aspects of glass and the beauty of rubies, she shone with a white radiance unmatched by any among her star-siblings, she moved with a more-perfect rotation than any other.

When Phicreb-Nu drew close to her older sibling, Glaoh-Nu hid themselves. But the star pressed on, licking at the snot of their nostril eye in comfort. She laid across their lap, crackling with star-sound. And with their glow brought close, Glaoh-Nu’s fire shone less green; their tongues grew moist with tears and their bones relaxed beneath the skin of their combustions. 

But Alou-Nu, second daughter of Nume’s right hip, loved the small star Phicreb-Nu and desired to have her above all other stars. She grew jealous of the gravity shared between the small Phicreb-Nu and the hideous Glaoh-Nu. This must have been a trickery made by the star of green gasses, or else how could they have wooed a star so pristine to their gyration. 

For Phicreb-Nu, Alou-Nu brought up the food of her own gut, but Phicreb-Nu did not desire anything beyond what she had already eaten. She turned away the gift of gut-foods. Alou-Nu brought her gifts again, but she turned away the gift of star-girth, an add to her postures, an increase to her inheritance. 

At the first refusal, Alou-Nu remained indifferent. But at the second, her fury turned her light the pale white of His scalera. And so, Alou-Nu—mother of the spider wolf, leader of those with down-bound hearts—laid down a devious plan with the lesser lights, a plan to have unto herself Phicreb-Nu. A plan of murder, which was not yet born into Nume’s realm except by natural death. She built up the meaning of slaughter, the manner of destruction, the method of life-crushing. She created all this while tucked in the wraps of His intestine, down deep where His blood-sludge deafened the terrors of her invention. And once she and her lights had thus oath-binded, they waited for the season of stomach-sipping, the same way spider wolves wait on the ray-tailed deer fawn’s first wobbling steps.

So, when Nume’s stomach swelled with the consumption of His tongue, Alou-Nu sent herself and her lights over the abdominal currents toward the island intestine, home of Glaoh-Nu’s shine. Their astral tails left ripples across the bile-mixed blood as these orbs of ill will came forth with deadly purpose. By the green light of Glaoh-Nu flickering over this fleshy-island, they knew their prize was near. When the green star turned its broken eye up to sniff them with its snot, they had already come down upon its warped-boned body. The stars with their flares reached out to the Glaoh-Nu. They took it by its explosions. They crushed inward its gravity with their own, a pulverization which left the star, Glaoh-Nu as nothing more than a drip of helium ooze seeping down into the sea.

When the last of its twisted shape had broken—its tongues laid scattered among the waves, its bones lay shattered beneath the surface of the sea, its snot lay smeared over the shape of His intestine—Phicreb-Nu saw their death and let out a star-scream, a blinding flare of light which cracked the sky open with thunder.

Meanwhile, Alou-Nu stood back and crackled at her victory. She took into her orbit the lesser star, Phicreb-Nu, holding them fast among her many lights as a prisoner. She took the pure thing’s lashing as acceptance, she understood the small one’s weeping as relief. But Alou-Nu did not read her little sister’s heart well. 

Phicreb-Nu cried out to her Body-Father, the Numerous Soul. 

“Nume, Father of Stars, Body of my Body, Blood of my Blood,” she Phicreb-Nu cried. “My orbit is tainted. Would that I might die before receiving this lonely fate.”

And at her word, Nume’s left eye cracked open.

His hand moved up over the hole of His abdomen and he scooped out from His cavity the star bodies, casting them up into the Nothing which surrounded him. And so violent was the casting of the stars, that Phicreb-Nu’s light was extinguished, snuffed out in the final star-death. Her body became a crimson light and her radiance diminished by Nothing. She swelled, like a star-birthing. She hissed, like a star-crying. Alou-Nu’s light flickered, repulsed with the decrepitude of her small sister’s body. But Phicreb-Nu’s life had not yet extinguished. She had yet more suffering to undergo before her final death. Her own gravity compressed, in and down in the same manner of pulverization as Glaoh-Nu. Her hot skin flew outward, bursting like a bubble of wild-frog mucus. And then the final death came over her, forcing her body into harmony with Nothing that is The Final Death of Nume. Her after-body became Nothing, a gaping hole of endless swallowing, eating up Alou-Nu so she remained only a half of her girth. Alou-Nu’s many little lights were all gobbled up as well, so that she was left queen of only her own wounded glow. The stars trembled with fear, afraid for their own lights, spreading far from the dying place of Phicreb-Nu. 

But, Nume did not forsake her. He reached up His Holy Finger to the dying place of Phicreb-Nu and touched her corpse. All around her bloomed the green-glow aura of Glaoh-Nu; His Finger entwined their dying in Nothing forever more. Alou-Nu swung herself toward His touch, in hope to reach His Holy Palm. But the star-corpse tethered her to her place, holding her back. And Alou-Nu remained a half-star, a broken gleam.

In these times, the star Alou-Nu which marks the southern sky, her half-light winking balefully at any traveller who dares to follow her. But from her stretches a tail to Phicreb-Nu which is surrounded forever by the green-light haze of her first-gravity, Glaoh-Nu.

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Friends Merch Publications Reviews writing

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