My list so far:
Myopic – Benja
Elf on the shelf
And my word for someone else: consideration
'Here.’ Medrina’s thumbs dash across the screen of the phone as she sends a quick text to what is likely a burner phone. It could be anywhere, really, as she steps into the alleyway from an empty back room that houses one of many glowing wells found throughout the world. Bees know where to find them, like they’re drawn in.
'Now make yourself scarce until it’s time.' comes an almost immediate reply. She pockets her phone and moves in the direction of a busy sidewalk. The rush of people hurriedly walking obfuscates her form and she disappears into the crowd.
Another dark night on Solomon Island, the sound of shrieking and howling somewhere in the distance. Alana’s in the woods doing surveillance near an old house, back against a tree simply for the security of not being surprised by anything behind her. She hears movement much closer to her, the sound of crackling leaves and breaking twigs. Her heart pounds, Alana filled with trepidation. She closes her eyes, breathing out. When she opens them again, a faintly glowing path seems to appear before her. Wordlessly, silently, she follows the path, taking her away from whatever the hell is getting closer.
“What the fuck am I looking at right now?” Benja’s tone is somewhere between confused and embarrassed as he stares at the amorphous, myopic blobs of color on the canvas in front of him. It could have been painted by a five year old, really, but overall lacks the freedom of movement and imagination a child’s piece of art would have.
“Something something dystopian society,” his buddy offers, “Blah blah capitalism is bad. Carbon footprint.”
“Suburbanization of Venus,” Benja reads the contrived title aloud, groaning. “That’s ridiculous and stupid.”
He immediately cracks a smile.
“Fuck. Now I gotta buy it.”
"So what do you think?" Benja asks, staring intently at Medrina. She's wearing one of his earbuds, head half cocked as whatever song they're listening to starts to fade. She's quiet a few moments, expression staying a very trained neutral. Benja grins. "That bad?"
"No," she blurts immediately. "No it's not that. It's... I don't know. It's fine?"
"Fine," he echoes dryly.
"It's probably not something I'd put in a playlist," Medrina says, smiling gently, "But I wouldn't turn it off if it was playing..."
Benja lets out a laugh. "How can you hate the Grateful Dead? They're music legends!"
She's gentle with the key as she turns it several times, paying close attention to the tightening of the spring on the mechanical music box so as not to break it. And as she releases the key, Sia hears a soft, sweet melody start to play. It's unknown to her but even with the delicate metallic tings of each note, she can feel sadness in the tune. As it continues to play, she hears a faint sobbing coming from beside her as a wavering woman starts to materialize, her shoulders rising and falling with each whimper.
"I'm sorry," she says.
Benja's at some hipster artist's gallery showing, on the verge of going crazy amidst the vapid faux-important chatter. The entire setup is something out of a novel with how carefully kitsch and quirky everything is, from the mismatched vintage furniture, to the semi-ironic playing of old country music nobody there listens to, to the uninspired pop art being presented.
"Pabst is garbage beer and your work is fake as fuck," he finally blurts to the host, a hush coming over those gathered.
"And stop calling it your autonomous robot vacuum," he adds, seemingly out of nowhere. "It's a fucking Roomba!"
Elf on the Shelf
"What are you wearing?" Medrina's voice raises as she eyes Benja. He's in head-to-toe red of slightly varying shades; a maroon beanie, a dark red sweater over skinny jeans, even deep red sneakers. Technically it all somehow works together. He has a knack for that sort of thing.
Benja shrugs. "Clothes."
"Clothes," she echoes, lips pursing. He smirks, silently waiting.
"It's just so. much. red," she says, "Especially for December. You look like a walking... what are those guys called? Elf on the Shelf!"
"This from the woman who's wearing a hoodie that would've fit Andre the Giant?"
Follow || Oskar
He pulls his hair into a low bun for ease then nudges the bridge of his glasses up with a middle finger. The follow through was always the hardest part, his job really never got easier but the initial jump remains absolute bullshit. A mortal body on a metal table, dead from an unknown force, is before him and Oskar rests one hand upon their arm, palm to cold skin. To any outsider, it's sympathetic compassion but he knows better. Soon he'll die just the same. Only Gaia is on his side and so he might wake with answers. That's taking one for the team.
Ache || Ariki Kipa
"Right, Right, all set."
The smile comes naturally, the deal is struck. A shiny, old dagger with a curious effect in exchange for a book with a gilded gold cover of finches. Ariki got the book and his client snagged the steal. A total rip off by value, monetary value anyway. But there's something here, the penmanship marking up the contents stirs an ache in the deep. A face and a feeling quite queer, fuzzy from a hundred years forgotten, so peculiar and worth so much more.
Timing || Frankie Darling
Frankie tries again, the beat slowing in tempo, her voice humming along with the strum of chords. Midway through the bridge, her palm stops the guitar with a frustrated and abrupt twang.
"God dang...Timing? What is even with this lead up!" She laughs, her tone a touch annoyed.
A voice emits from the laptop open in front of her where she sits in her cozy living room.
"I don't know," Her father jokes, "Maybe I need to hear it for the 500th time."
M'Lady || Nikhil Roscoe
"He..huh?" Nikhil, beer in hand, watches his friend with exhausted disbelief. "...What? LARPing? What the fuck is that?"
"A serious hobby." She retorts and when he tilts his head, she slaps the side of his arm playfully, laughing, "He's harmless."
"Does he...Y'know..." Nikhil tilts the imaginary brim of an invisible hat, leaning into a posh little bow, "Mmmmmm'lady-Ow!"
She struck his arm hard that time with a snort, "Dick."
Consideration || Nikhil Roscoe
Cold sweat, headaches, fatigue. Nikhil pushes his hair back, wearing the stress of an awful time upon him. As sick as a dog and regarded just the same, not that he expects strangers to care. How can you feel like a live wire but be so tired all at the same time? New York traffic blurs by, steely pops of chrome zipping by. This traffic light takes forever. For a brief moment, his thoughts suggest to not wait at all. Just walk forward. But after careful consideration, Nikhil stays on the street corner instead until the walk signal blinks to life and beckons safely.
My word suggestion are as follows:
OVERWHELMED, LOSER or FOGGY
Maladay || Narcisse
It's late as Narcisse locks up after work. It had snowed some earlier, but that had been followed by rain and the end result was a startlingly raw, crystalline bite that made him shudder and pull his scarf up over his nose.
The deep shadows of night are even deeper here, dark and thick in corners, climbing walls like some malignant malady that will only be partially eased by the light of dawn. He looks upward, past the shade and the tenements and squats, to the sliver of purple-grey sky that's visible from his current position. A single star winks down at him, and he smiles because he knows without a doubt: somewhere far away, Elias is looking at the sky, too.
"What up, Cheetara?" Benja sidles up alongside Medrina, grinning.
She rolls her eyes, sighing. "Cheetara? Real subtle. This is why you're such a good secret agent. Top tier."
Benja's grin widens. "I was gonna go Panthro." He admits. Medrina groans immediately. Benja smirks. "You know, for the authenticity."
She sighs again.
"What about Catwoman?" he asks curiously.
"My ex used to call me that," she admits, glancing at him.
"Oh yeah? Halle Berry or Michelle Pfeiffer?"
"Really?" Medrina eyerolls. "Eartha Kitt."
Benja grins again, looking her over. "I could see that..."
((Reminder: ALL these words are in play:
sunshine / squint
The sunshine is so intense in the desert that even with shades on her face Medrina has to squint, hand above her eyes to shield them. Benja, crouching beside her, has his firearm trained straight ahead.
"We're sure it's that particular rock formation there and not the nearly identical formation we passed like two hours ago?" he asks.
"Yes," she says.
He complies, releasing a heavy, bored sigh. He's just about to stand when suddenly the formation seems to rearrange and grow, now standing on two heavy rocky 'legs.'
Medrina nudges him with her leg. "Told you."
((Reminder: ALL these words are in play:
Easy bonus word:
The zombie before them was probably someone Alana could have chilled with before the fog came. She’s rotting so it’s hard to distinguish her age, but the skinny jeans, the remnants of a Chuck Taylor on one foot, and the Janet Jackson tee she’s sporting give off a vibe that before all this she was probably alright. Now, though, she wants to eat their faces off and devour their brains. One operative fires a shotgun right at her chest, obliterating the center of the t-shirt like a cartoon. The zombie looks down and releases a blood-curdling scream. Alana nods. "Mood."
New word: doll
‘Old Dad’s Sarsaparilla’ the label on the dark brown bottle read. The fact that Susie’s still had anything in it was surprising, or maybe someone was having the place restocked. Dan twisted the cap off the bottle and took a swig. “You sure you want to do this,” the cowboy spoke, depositing the cap into the front pocket of his jeans. The thing roared again and took two large, menacing steps forward. A hideous mass of tentacles and muck. “Suit yourself.” Dan nodded, and then threw the bottle.
New word: Coffee
It happened again. Brydon found himself regaining consciousness, the thing with which he shared his existence having deposited him into unfamiliar surroundings. His head pounded furiously, and he opted to stay in his current position, laying on his back and staring up at the roof of an abandoned warehouse. He opened his mouth, working his sore jaws, they were always like that, though he wasn’t sure why. There was a horrible taste left in his mouth, presumably due to the culinary tastes of the eldritch horror, but it was always dulled by the scent of petrichor which lingered on him.
New word: phosphorous