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Fiction from the Chimeral World: Monstrous

Writing 150(This is the latest bit of fiction for the Thursday Prompt published by the Furry Writers’ Guild. One of these days, I’ll remember to actually link to the prompt over on FurAffinity, but for now you’ll just have to take my word that it exists and that more people do it than just me.

The prompt this week was monstrous, which I thought immediately would be a good fit for some Chimeral World fiction. I gave it to a couple of beta readers for their initial responses, and they had pretty salient things to say. I’ll go over their input and try to edit this piece into something better in future entries, just to practice editing things and stumble through the process in the most public, embarrassing manner.

There won’t be blog entires on Friday or next Monday, I’m afraid — Further Confusion 2013 is this weekend, and I’ll be busy enjoying myself and drinking with friends. 🙂 I’ll be back bright and early on Wednesday with another blog entry or two.)

“I’m sorry, Matthew, but you are no longer in the bosom of God.” Aunt Cookie looked down at her white gloves, the smooth suede handbag that matched her shoes. “I don’t know what you’ve done to be punished like this. But you’re a monstrosity, son. You’ve lost your soul.”

For a moment, Matthew forgot how loopy the painkillers were making him, and that deep pain in his jaw the medicine couldn’t quite reach. He simply stared at the woman who couldn’t bear to look at him. Could this really be the woman who gave him the first Christmas present he truly loved? The woman who sang him to sleep during those weeks his mother was in the hospital? Was she really telling him that he was a soulless creature, that he wasn’t going to get to heaven?

He looked down at his laptop and considered typing his reply. Most of his head was covered in gauze at the moment; his jaw had broken again, and they were trying to give it some support while it reformed itself. Between the gauze and the pain, talking was simply out of the question. He couldn’t get into a detailed response with her, but he had no idea what else to say. How do you argue with someone who believes you have no soul?

Then where did my soul go? What’s been left to talk to you? Matthew thought it would be best to start there, supposing that she was correct. He had resigned himself to being unable to change her mind, so perhaps he could lead her to change it on her own.

Aunt Cookie startled at the sound of the computerized voice Matthew was using these days. She briefly looked at him, and he recognized a mixture of revulsion and pity in her eyes. He must have been quite the sight, mostly bandages marked by islands of thick brown fur. “I don’t know,” she said. “But Pastor Jenkins says that only human beings have souls. If you’re not human no more, then you must’ve lost your soul somewhere. And as for what’s left –” Here she looked down, fiddling with the fingers of her gloves. “–honey, I don’t know. Maybe you’re like a ghost, what used to be my nephew, saying the things that he would say.”

So my soul is already in Hell? Matthew could feel his heartbeat quickening in his chest, feel his ears slinking back over the thick wrapping that supported his skull as it fused back together. He could feel himself losing it, typing more quickly, making more mistakes that he needed to backtrack for. I’m being tormented for living the way my mother raised me, going to Church every Sunday, praying before meals and bedtime, for donating to charity? That got me Hell. And now I’m just some echo that doesn’t know what it is, getting mad for telling me so?

Aunt Cookie shook her head. He could hear his own breathing and heartbeat. He wanted to shout at her. Look at me. Look into my eyes and tell me that I’m in Hell. But all that would come out was a deep and awful sound, and he would hurt himself bad enough that the morphine wouldn’t be enough for a while. He had to watch her fiddle with her gloves, try to puzzle through her own shit, try to make it OK that she would never see him again.

“I know it’s hard to hear, baby. And I wish it weren’t so. But I didn’t make the rules, the Lord did. We all just have to try and abide ’em as best we can.” She took a deep breath and drew up her courage to look at him. “Somewhere along the way, you strayed from the path Matthew. Might’ve been when you went to college, or when you started dating that Godless girl. I know you’ve had sex with her. That’s when you turned your face from God. Now, He’s…He’s turned His back on you.”

She started to sniffle, and Matthew couldn’t help but roll his eyes. It was his life that was changing here. He had been the one forced to endure the endless parade of friends and family members unable to look at him, telling him goodbye by lying to his face, insulting him, telling him he must have done something wrong. If she expected some kind of sympathy or grace from him because it was difficult for her to disown him, she was about to be disappointed.

I never turned my back on God. I don’t think he’s turned His back on me, either. I think you have. You don’t want to deal with me because I make you uncomfortable. That’s what this is about. Justify it however you want to, but that’s what it is. I know it and you know it. Don’t bring God into your own moral failure. If you can’t stand by your family because it’s inconvenient, then that’s your problem, not God’s. Get out. I’m tired.

His bluntness shocked him. It scandalized his Aunt. She simply stared at him, hurt flickering over her face before she masked it with a fanatic’s righteousness. Matthew knew he wouldn’t reach her, but damned if he was going to let her make this something it wasn’t. He didn’t have the time or energy for that any more.

“The boy I knew would never have spoken to me like that. I…I don’t know what God has planned for you, but I’m going to pray for you. I’m going to pray that you realize the wrongness of your path and you do something for the salvation of your soul.” She stood up, clutching her purse in her gloved hands. The tan of the leather made her dark chocolate skin look almost black in comparison.

What God has planned for me he’s already done. Don’t bother praying for me.

Matthew watched her go before he shoved the platform the laptop was on away from him. Then he collapsed, ignoring the jostling of his pillows or the way his head moved disturbingly underneath his bandages.

People like his aunt would only find grace if they needed it themselves and had it shown to them, he decided. He had tried to have long conversations with his mother and father, his own pastor, his friends, a Theology professor from his school. None of them had any idea what to do about him. They seemed to seek their own comfort more than offer him anything. His entire support network had failed him, just like his body, just like his aching head. He could only hope that a new one solidified around him, like his body, like his aching head.

Matthew picked up the morphine controller and pressed the button a few more times. He was so tired. He didn’t want to feel anything for a while. He knew that in the morning, a doctor would bring someone else who wanted to tell him they were cutting themselves from his life, face-to-face. And then someone would change his bandages, touch him in his most sensitive spots to see if it was healing.

“Does that hurt?” they would ask. And as always, he would look at them in dumb disbelief.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Furries, Thursday Prompt, Writing

 

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Chimeral Art: Matthew, by TommiCat

matthew-forever

This is an absolutely wonderful surprise I received after writing “Matthew Prepares for His Birth”. A good friend of mine, a furry artist by the name of Tommi Cat, slipped this in my inbox a couple of days after I posted. I really love the use of shadow to convey mood, and it’s a really nice surprise that he interpreted Matthew as black — the texture of the hair is so wonderful here it’s easy for me to imagine how he feels as he pushes his fingers through it.

The response to the Chimeral World has been really decent so far; I wasn’t expecting quite the feedback it’s gotten. I’ll have to add it to the list of settings I’ll be messing around in while I’m putting together a good story for it.

Thanks so much, Tommi. I really appreciate this!

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Furries

 

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Short Fiction: No Man’s Land

Writing 150(This is what I came up with for a Thursday prompt two weeks ago, boundaries. I wanted to return to Matthew from my previous story and see how he was doing after the transformation was complete. This story doesn’t end so much as stop, and I’ll need to take a couple more stories to focus specifically on endings. But for now, here’s the story.)

“There it is. That’s the edge of the reservation.” Kikkitik gestured with one long forearm towards the unassuming low fence they were walking towards. Matthew was surprised by its modesty; it was a simple wooden post fence, lined with wires that may or may not be electric. It stretched over the plain that served as the outside edge of the chimeral reservation, as far as he could see to the north and south. It couldn’t have been higher than three feet. He could have stepped over it easily, and Kikkitik could simply crawl over it herself. There was a dirt road just beyond it, and beyond that a slope that lead to more grassland. They stopped thirty feet before they reached the boundary. Matthew knew Kikkitik wanted no part of it, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to flirt with it, either.

He had been on the reservation for nearly a month now, but this was the first time he had taken the tour. There were a number of reasons he didn’t want to leave the confines of the small compound that served as their home, but one by one Kikkitik had resolved them. She was patient and steady with him, and it was the least he could do to reward that effort with the walk around the ground she had been pushing for. That didn’t mean he was ready to face the world beyond the reservation just yet, though. Expanding the world he was in was adventurous enough.

He had changed and lost everything he knew. Right now, he was a hulk of a creature, nine feet tall with the solid and shaggy build of a bear. His head was a mixture of bear and beaver, oversized incisors and prominent canine teeth in a boxy, short muzzle. His ears were broad and long, his nose was large and sensitive, his eyes were dark and small. It took him several weeks to navigate the vast gulf between his old body and his new one, and even now he was unsure of how things worked. He shouldn’t be able to talk with the strange shape of his mouth, or the teeth that were too large or small and in all the wrong places. But he spoke anyway.

“I was expecting something more.” He heard his voice, deep and rich and rolling. He sounded like the noble warrior from a fantasy movie. It didn’t suit him.

Kikkitik’s mandibles clacked together several times, making a thick and heavy knock-knock-knock-knock sound that he had learned was laughter. “Most people do. But it doesn’t take much to keep us in here, or the rest of the world out there. Both groups decided they’d rather stick to their own kind a long time ago.”

“Mmm.” Matthew turned to look at her. She was something out of most people’s nightmares, the unholy cross of a praying mantis and a millipede blown up to vehicular-sized proportions. Out of all the chimera on the reservation, she was easily the most unnerving. But she was quiet and thoughtful, patient and pragmatic. She had carried him through his transition to reservation life, kicking and screaming. He now considered her his best friend. “I’m not sure that’s such a good thing. It’s only a matter of time before one of us gets tired of tolerant isolation.”

She looked down at him, her antennae waving consideringly. “That may be. But for now, this works. We have time and space to consider who and what we are.”

“And it gives them time to figure out that they don’t want us around, whatever it is we decide we are.”

Kikkitik knocked once. “So untrusting.” She was practicing her vocal inflection, he could tell. It didn’t quite convey the amusement she had been aiming for, but it carried across enough that he knew what she was trying to do.

He grinned at her in the way he learned, opening his jaws, sticking his tongue out over his lower incisors. It was his best approximation, but it still didn’t look quite right. The instinctive reaction made it look like he was snarling far too much. “Have you watched the news? Chimera aren’t exactly being embraced out there.”

“I don’t watch television anymore, no. It makes me feel too weird. I guess I haven’t seen anyone hating us yet. I’ve only seen them.” She nodded, and stretched out a forearm as far as it would go. Matthew followed her gaze, over the fence and down into the small valley to the east.

His eyesight had gotten a lot worse, but his hearing and smell had gotten a lot better. He lifted his nose to the wind and sniffed, then swiveled his ears in the direction she pointed. He caught the scent of gasoline, sun-baked metal, and people. He heard the hum of generators and idle chatter too distant to make out clearly. He could barely make out the speck of sunlight glinting off a metallic surface, too, but that didn’t tell him nearly as much as his nose and ears did.

“Who are they?” he rumbled.

“They’re people who’ve gone out of their way to contact us. When they see us near the boundaries of the reservation, they hold up signs telling us we’re welcome and still thought of as people.” Kikkitik chittered. Matthew had no idea what that meant.

Matthew had no idea what to think about those people at the bottom of that shallow hill, either. Immediately his mind conjured images of those kooks outside of Roswell or Area 51, welcoming aliens and asking to be lifted to higher states of consciousness. Did those people think of him as something more than human? Did they think his transformation had given him any answers to life’s questions? He wanted to run down there, just to tell him that he was as scared and confused as the next man. He didn’t have any answers. He barely had any friends.

“That’s kind of nice,” was all he said.

Kikkitik chittered, then turned away from the fence to begin the long walk back to the compound. “Give it time,” she said. “People are always freaked out by the things they’ve never encountered before. And right now, we’re just on the edge of what they know. They just need time to absorb that.”

Matthew was silent, but he fell into step beside her. Whenever he had to jog, he had to fight the urge to fall to his hands and run on all fours. He had his doubts about her optimistic view, but he hoped she was right. That small fence made an effective boundary between their worlds right now, but it wouldn’t hold forever. Sooner or later, human and chimera would need to deal with each other.

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Thursday Prompt, Writing

 

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