Monday, April 29, 2013

The Crone Choose Todd's Life Carefully

The crone's fingers snarled and alien honey trickled maliciously toward her caul as she tried, tiredly, to slow her fall.

The bottom was coming, despite what the howling wind shrieked into her ear holes, and there were threads that needs to be twined, and more yet to be split and rewound. There was work to do.

The honey burned many of The crone's limbs as she slowed her fall.

The crone's bones occasionally snapped, if they caught in a particularly thick wall. If an un-suspecting alien moved to the edge it got cut, or sundered, or lost a limb of its own.

The honeycomb went on as far as the crone could see, and it was doing a good job of slowing her. The crone wondered if she could swing into one of the larger honeycombs and rest, but  shook her head: The aliens had noticed the destructive swathe, were now in council to determine how best to commence her annihilation. The crone smiled, her teeth cracking into a million tiny smiles at the news and devoted more limbs to falling slower.

Once the howling air sounded a familiar pitch of scream the crone turned and slid thicker limbs into the void, buffeted, bruised, the crone groped in the darkness until a tingling came to her body. Delicately she traced the tingle with finger-thick limbs prodding gently up herself and out along the bridge of a limb --fractured bones grinding in the gale-- to the origin of the tingle.

There was ash, the crone saw: solid raindrops that coiled like limbs from a lack of heat. The crone marveled at their intricacy and, on realizing their fate cried; wanted to destroy such an uncaring universe. But couldn't. She and it were too interwoven, and the crone had knots to tie, not rope to chew.

The crone took the string and, whispering the end of a lullaby, hop-pushed herself away from the honeycomb, climbing instead the tingling string it had found, winding, wounding it around the parent body-strand.

There was another thread, very early, that the crone fingered, winding the string into itself as she fell. The string was short, a few hundred turns, and then: severed from its host spool. The crone sighed, spinnerets working fast: nothing to be done with already severed strings.

There was a novice thread --only eight limbs-- chasing a ghost, she saw. They were in a strange topography --moony nights and poisonous beasts of burden. There were trees like green mushrooms, tall and ancient and the novice's pet was strangely adorned. The crone sighed. Another string, it found, had slid into this one, from somewhere else, out in the dark. This invasive string was looping, taut, ran further than the crone's limbs could reach, longer than she could reel in.

Gently, carefully, the crone looped the invasive string around the parent thread. As she looped the string, the crone also sliced through the body of strands, thinning the connection until the trees disappeared, the frozen rain fell away and

and the crone was in true free fall now, only sure of the way up from the relative numbness of her body and the rush of wind flattening her caul; the crone curled in on herself, only the first tingle of thread from the darkness pulsing for her to follow.

Follow she did. The crone, after a minute of respite twisted and pointed her limbs like reaching shadows into the rushing void, ignoring for now the growing cacophony of alien wings. Her limbs stretched and grew thin from the strain, a few snapped off, burst open like ladybugs about to fly or ants caught in a fire, and were lost in the roar of the descent.

Three of the crone's limbs tingled at once, a triangle knot of threads: A trough, a boarding house. A nexus, a knotted ball, a twine cyst in the strings, a dozen threads melted, nettled together like abused candles.

The crone began picking at the ball. Many of her limbs stretched and flexed. Limbs that had stiffened together began to spread, to part. Her back ached. Still the crone grinned her million grins.

She hit the ground with the twine-cyst between all seven rows of teeth, chomping down and shattered like blackened church windows, made thin in their ancient frames.

Still the crone grinned, cyst gristle sticking to a million fragments in the sea of shattered crone chitin and bone.

The pieces began to hiss and smoke, melting through the ground, pock marks of depth. The shards that hid the walls, however, did not hiss as they burrowed. There was quiet work to do, too.