branewurms: (Piper)
([personal profile] branewurms posting in [community profile] liminalhorizons Jul. 6th, 2009 04:50 pm)
What, you say! [personal profile] branewurms is posting original fic?! Why yes, yes she is!

This is a random bit about a little girl named Chrome as she sits waiting in a bar for her brother (who happens to be the same character who played the Magician from Beyond the Pale). PG-ish. Written for [profile] ruffwriter's original fic challenge, to the prompt, "The problem with that is, you're assuming that I can."

...


The man screams.

Lush green clover rustles up over his arm, tiny white flowers twinkling open as the roots reach into his flesh. He falls to the floor, writhing.

The little girl sighs, her cheeks puffing out in irritation. "Why can't you all just leave me alone? I keep saying not to touch, but does anyone ever listen?"

"A little miss all gussied up like you," says the bartender, "and you expect folks not to take notice? Can't you at least wear somethin' less flashy?"

"Help me!" the writhing man chokes out. "Please, God -!"

A few onlookers clutch at their mouths in horror and run from the building, shoving at each other in their haste to escape. The regulars, though, they just sidle out of the man's reach, grimacing and waiting for it to end.

"Hey, Miss Chrome," the bartender growls, his voice barely audible over the man's shrieks. He leans toward her, his voice low - but he maintains a respectful distance. He's no fool. "I'm losing customers here. Do something."

"The problem with that is, you're assuming that I can," Chrome pouts. "I'm tired! It's been happening day after day!"

"Yeah," says the bartender. "It has. And it ain't good for business. Don't forget I don't gotta let you stay here. Do something, or I'm booting you out."

"Ah!" Chrome's mouth falls open, incredulous. "But I'm supposed to meet my big brother here!" she protests. "I can't leave!"

"Then do something," the bartender says for the third time. "And look, hurry!"

Chrome turns back to the man screaming on the floor. While she had been talking to the bartender, the man had begun sprouting vines. They twine all up and down his body, entangling him. From one vine a giant moonflower has budded and opened, a brilliant, purple-tinged white; it emits a pale green mist, phosphorescent and sweetly fragrant.

The flower is currently trying in earnest to eat the man's head.

At least the man's shrieks are somewhat muffled, for a blessing. Chrome sighs again and reaches her hand out into the air. "Come back," she says simply.

The clover comes first, easily sloughing off the man and flying back to her, sliding up beneath her fingernails, leaving a faint green stain behind. The vines though, they resist; they succumb to her pull but for moment before snapping back with an audible pop.

Chrome stomps her foot. "Look, you stupid flower, I said come back!"

The flower shifts a little, and Chrome is sure it's giving her a baleful look as it chews, toothless but determined. Chrome purses her lips. This is why it's annoying.

She takes a breath and lets all of the air out of her lungs, and then she sucks in as hard as she can. The air itself seems to warp and stretch, as if she's sucking up reality; the vines all cling desperately to the man's flesh, but one by one they pop off in the gale and sweep up into her mouth. The flower chews tenaciously up to the very last, when it finally comes free with a wet sucking noise.

It flies into her with such force it knocks her down on her rear. "Ow!" she cries. "That hurts."

The bartender leans over the bar, peering. "You okay, little miss?"

"I'm fine," Chrome grumbles, climbing to her feet. She brushes the dirt off the back of her green dress, her petticoats rustling. Then she plants her feet wide, her fists on her hips, glaring down at the man curled up on the floor.

He gibbers mindlessly, scooting back across the dusty floor. He tries to climb to his feet but his legs won't hold him, and he keeps falling down and letting out little panicked squawks as he makes his way to the door and escapes out into the night.

Chrome puffs out a breath and climbs back onto her bar stool. The bartender looks at her, his arms crossed over his broad chest, his bristling eyebrows pinched together and storm clouds thundering in his eyes. Chrome just looks back at him, swinging her legs.

"Can I have another sarsaparilla?" she asks.

The bartender is silent for a long moment. Then he heaves a defeated sigh and fetches her the drink. He clonks it down on the bar before her, some of the fizzing liquid sloshing over the sides. "Here," he says gruffly. And then he gives her a straw, because he already knows she'll ask for one if he doesn't.

"I hope that brother of yours gets here someday soon," says the bartender.

"I do too."

"And I hope he's less dangerous than you."

Chrome opens her mouth to answer, but wisely changes her mind, and sips her sarsaparilla in silence.
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lim⋅i⋅nal ho⋅ri⋅zon

–noun
a place only seen through a green door.

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