Collapse

This story is inspired by this painting, found on HitRecord here: https://hitrecord.org/records/3483142

Scuffed blue gloves had been cast aside and wrinkled brown fingers held intricate tools, twisting and pulling at the wiring.  It was hot inside the back panel of the machine, but Gloria couldn’t stop now.  She almost had it.  Desperation pressed her forward as she finished capping the wire and slid out, replacing the panel with her drill and standing to stretch; her body had not been young for a long time. As she passed one of the machine’s two, huge windows, Gloria saw a limp body suspended in a yellow liquid by more wires, tubes, and a harness.  The figure was blurry through the thick, syrupy substance that was keeping her alive.  Gloria’s hand brushed against the window softly before she took a deep breath and walked to the main console.  She was ready to try again.  

A red light came on above the main switch after she flicked it upward, and pipes around it hissed furious clouds of white liquid as the machine began to wake up.  The sounds of the inner workings, the grinding of metal and whirring of meters grew until it was cacophonous, and Gloria could do nothing but stand and watch in helpless agony as electricity sparked and the tank of the machine began to rumble and move, the thick liquid inside it sliding around and slapping the glass.  She held her tired, wrinkled, over worked hands against her chest and hoped.  Gloria had no god to pray to.

Inside, she could see the naked, suspended body convulsing and shaking as the hissing, sparking, grinding, and clanking sounds began to crescendo.  Gloria feared the whole thing would explode, but she stood fast in her place before the machine; if Mari died, Gloria had no intention of living.  A final, resounding slam of metal rang in her ears, and she looked up, watching nervously as the yellow liquid began to drain from the center cavity of the machine, the tubes and wires releasing themselves from the naked body within.  She rushed over, waiting to hear the mechanical click of the base door unlocking.  With a metallic clack, the door hissed and opened, and the liquid from within poured out, bringing with it a naked female body covered in the remains of the yellow liquid. 

“Mari,” Gloria said in a harsh, choked voice.  “Oh, Mari, my love.” 

Days later,  the woman blinked open her eyes and coughed.  She had been cleaned, dressed in a hospital gown, and was in a bed in a room she had never seen before.  Someone was touching her hand.


“Mari,” the voice called.  She turned her head slowly, the world blurry and her mind sluggish.  “Gloria,” she wheezed.  “How did you get so old?”  

The other woman laughed softly, her eyes full of tears.  “It took me a long time to make you well, Mari.  But you are.  And not a day older.” 

Mari looked past Gloria to a mirror hanging on the wall.  She was sallow looking and thin, but Gloria was right.  Mari hadn’t aged a day. And she was miraculously alive.  “How is this possible?” Mari asked.

Gloria looked away.  “Your… your father’s machine.  I fixed it.” 

Mari tried to sit up, but her body was frail and she had no muscle strength.  “Gloria,” she whispered, horrified.  “How could you?” 

Gloria looked at Mari.  “I would have fixed a thousand machines to save you, my love.”  She ran a wrinkled finger down Mari’s smooth, perfect cheek.  “Even ones that might collapse reality as we know it.” 

The Bog Keeper

See my original post on HitRecord Here: https://hitrecord.org/records/3918463

Based on this Remix by Bosska: https://hitrecord.org/records/3097059

She was small, for a Bog Keeper.  Always the runt, her family had feared for her when she’d set out to find her own bog to tend at the young age of forty-two.  But Arl was strong and smart, and she’d made it halfway across the continent before she had found a bog to call her own.  That, however, was when the trouble started.  And it was all because of a small, irritating wisp that wouldn’t stop following her.  

Wisps are hard to understand.  They speak softly in old languages that only sometimes translates with their spotty magic.  This wisp was no exception, and it babbled inconsistently while Arl kept walking, swatting at the creature here and there.  It was spry, and wove around her hands with ease.

“If you won’t tell me what you want,” Arl said, exasperated, “would you please leave me be?” 

But the wisp would not.  It followed Arl for five days and six nights before she noticed something odd about the annoying creature- the wisp was fading.  Dying, maybe.  Arl had never heard of a sickness that infected wisps.  She noticed that it was becoming more sluggish and less talkative,  until finally it came to rest in her hand.  

“You need my help,” Arl finally realized.  “I have been a bad Bog Keeper.  I am sorry,” she told the wisp.  She breathed a bit of bog magic into the creature, giving it enough energy to bounce around her once again. 

“Show me,” she told the wisp.  And it did.  Arl followed the wisp through her new bog until they reached a tree that was bigger than any she’d seen in the bog so far.  At the base was a crack in the bark that the wisp flew into, and it was just big enough for Arl to squeeze through after it.  The inside of the old tree was hollow, and the walls were lined with fading, dying wisps.  Arl looked in saddened awe at the number of them.  

“Why is this happening?” she asked them.  None answered; perhaps they did not know.  “What is your source of power?”  

Her wisp, the one that had brought her there, floated gently in the center of the room.  A few others joined it, and together they began to glow brightly.  It was beautiful.  Their power drew forth a stone from the roots and earth beneath them; it was large and covered in swirling runes, oozing power through a huge crack on the left side.  Arl knew that could not be natural.  She went over to the stone and held her hand over the crack, the hissing power of the wisps burning her skin.  But she steadied herself, and poured bog magic into the stone, working as hard as she could to seal it.  Vines sprouted from the ground around her, covering the stone and creating a protective barrier.  It was enough, for now.  Arl fell to her knees, drained of power and energy.  Her wisp came and laid in her hand.  “Thank you,” it whispered.  She nodded, glad the wisps would not all fade away.  But now she knew that someone or something had targeted them, and this was her bog now.  She had a wrong to right, and a bog to keep safe.  Arl’s journey was only beginning.