The Land of NeverWas

Where all the "Might Have Beens" live

Archive for the category “fiction”

Idea

I woke up with an idea in my head one day so I sat down and wrote this intro while it was still fresh. I have a vague idea, but nothing substantial, but I wonder if I should explore it further (once deadsville is finished). What do you think?

 

The call came in at 9:30 pm on Tuesday.

Officers Mortelli and Jackson were first on the scene. They were now lying in pools of their own blood on the floor of an otherwise nondescript living room in an otherwise nondescript neighborhood in suburban America.

Mortelli had been the first to go. He lay spread eagle, studying the ceiling. A large chunk of his head was missing and he was most assuredly surprised to be dead. You could tell by the look on his face. His eyes wide. His mouth open.

Jackson was still alive, if only just barely, as evidenced by his kicking leg and clawing hand, and was thinking of his kid and the fact that they were supposed to go to a ballgame the weekend coming up. It was an idle thought, one born of shock. It was also his last thought, something that will never be known by anyone else. His leg was kicking in a rhythmic, almost hypnotic fashion, sliding up and down the hardwood floor as if he was trying to escape his fate. He was attempting to speak but the words got caught and drowned in the dark, red liquid that was flowing from his mouth. Whatever he had been trying to say disappeared along with Jackson in one last gout of coughed up blood. Jackson’s hand stopped its clawing motion and his leg followed soon after.

It was 10:07 pm.

But the house wasn’t still. There was frantic motion as someone stepped over the mess the two police officers had made as they died and took a furtive look outside. That someone was Fred Durkinson, 42, father of three children (now deceased): daughter, Terri, 16; son, Paul, 14; and daughter Alice, 10. Alice hadn’t been in the plans but Fred and his wife, Martina (also now deceased) had just shrugged and buckled down. Fred hadn’t minded that much. He loved his wife and kids, heart and soul. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for them and their well-being.

Which is exactly why he had shot them all to death.

On the surface that wouldn’t appear to make sense. After all, why would a man who was completely in love with his family and wanted only the best for them end their lives in such a violent manner? The answer for Fred Durkinson was simple. He couldn’t let them be stolen. Not by those things. The things that haunted his dreams and were slowly and insidiously working their way into his waking thoughts, whispering to him. Telling him to do such horrible things that he could hardly believe the evil that was slowly taking over. He felt he was no longer Fred Durkinson, happy father of three and loving husband of Martina. He was a dark thing now.

Mostly.

There was still a small spark of Fred left inside of him and he was determined that before that last spark was snuffed out, whether by the bullet he had saved for himself, or by being totally consumed by whatever it was that was eating him inside out, that he was going to have his say and tell the world what was happening. Someone had to know, even if Fred could see absolutely no way of stopping it. It would get everyone sooner or later, Fred knew, and there was little that could be done about that. But maybe if the world was warned it could start putting up a fight. How, Fred couldn’t begin to guess.

People had to sleep after all.

And that was the reason Fred Durkinson hadn’t put a bullet into his own brain before anyone had a chance to try and stop him. He still had some work to do. He cursed himself for not writing the letter already, but he had a rare moment of lucidity and he had decided to take care of the most important thing first. Taking his family away from all of this. After that he was going to write his missive to the world, but before he had barely sat down at his computer the cops had come banging on his door. He had smiled and lulled them into complacency and then he had taken care of them too, but he knew he only had a short moment before more came beating on his door and he also knew that there was no way he would be able to take care of all of them. He had to write and write fast.

He went into the spare room he liked to jokingly call his office, and there, among his sports memorabilia and his family photos and his books and his collectibles, he hunkered down over his laptop and began to type furiously. He resisted all impulse to spell check and look for typos. He just typed. He let the words flow as they would. It could all be sorted out later. Maybe someone somewhere would take him seriously. He hoped, but he doubted. Even in his heightened state he realized he sounded like a crazy person. The news stories would paint him as a monster who had snapped and taken out his whole family in a moment of insane fury. The story would be both true and untrue. He was a monster but he wasn’t insane. Nor was he angry. In fact, as he typed, he felt calm. He had a sense of urgency about him, but he wasn’t anxious or scared or angry. He was empty. He was ready. He wanted to see his family again.

His fingers flew. Almost there. Almost there.

While he typed Officer Jackson twitched again. Once more his hand began to claw the floor and his leg began to kick. It was almost as if the events previous were happening in reverse throughout his body. The twitching ran up his arm and his arm slid up the floor. His legs did the same and soon he was on hands and knees, except his right arm didn’t work too well from the torn tendons and shattered bone that Fred Durkinson’s first bullet had created as it flung its way through his body. That one had hit Jackson’s lung and was the cause of the frothy blood gurgling up and out of his mouth once more. Jackson sat back on his feet and put his left arm on his thigh as if taking a short rest before the truly hard work of rising to his feet began. He noticed his hat and reached out for it on impulse and sat it firmly upon his close cropped graying hair. Jackson was a veteran and he knew looking good at all times was imperative to presenting the best front to the public as an officer of the law. Even when one was a bloody mess otherwise.

Finally Officer Jackson began to rise. It was a long laborious process, pitiful if anyone had been there to witness it, consisting of a lot of lurching and swaying and accompanied by the uncomfortable sounding noises of bones and joints popping and grinding. There were a couple of close calls when it seemed that all progress would be lost in a collapse back down to the floor but finally the job was done and Officer Jackson was once more among the upright.

He smiled and blood oozed out of his mouth and fell on the floor. It didn’t spatter because it splashed down among the rest of his blood congealing on the hardwood floor of the nondescript house in the nondescript neighborhood in suburban America.

His eyes were shadowed by the brim of his hat, but they gleamed in those shadows. And they were black. Oh so black.

 

Fred Durkinson was so focused on finishing his tale that he didn’t see the figure standing in his doorway for several minutes. The figure just stood there quietly, grinning its malicious grin and waiting patiently. When he did finally notice, Fred Durkinson let out a short scream and reached for his gun. He had just been about to hit the send button to email his story out to all the major news outlets he could think of when the awareness of the police officer standing there startled him and caused him to forget to click it. He would never get the chance again. His computer would disappear and no one would know Fred Durkinson’s true reason for his actions. Fred Durkinson would die and his nondescript house would always be tainted and avoided. It would sit and sit, unable to be sold and at last it would be demolished and a small park dedicated to his family would be placed there instead.

Fred had no way of knowing that at the moment. Fred could barely think. Terror filled every part of his being. The cop standing there glaring at him so malevolently was dead just moments ago, Fred knew this, but even so here he was. Fred raised shaking hands and braced his wrist holding the gun with the other hand. It didn’t still the shaking one bit and it didn’t seem to deter the police officer, although he stayed put with his good hand stuck casually into his belt. Next to his gun.

The police officer tried to speak but only managed to cough out blood. He shook his head frustratedly and coughed again. And again, this time with more force. Fred knew he should pull the trigger but fear had him in its grip. It felt as if he had rigor mortis and he wasn’t even dead. Yet. Finally the officer seemed to have cleared it all out for he straightened up and spoke.

“Fred, Fred, Fred.” the police officer chided. “What do you think you are doing? What is this going to accomplish? Your family is dead. There is no stopping us. We are coming, like it or not. And no one will believe your insane story. Even if it is true.”

He grinned a bloody grin and took a step forward.

Fred found enough nerve to use his voice. He stiffened and pointed the gun at the officer with more resolve.

“Just stay right where you are. You didn’t get my family and you aren’t going to get me either.”

The officer laughed.

“I’m already dead you idiot. Shoot if you like. It won’t matter. And as for you, well, we never wanted you. You were just a test.”

The officer moved like lightning and drew his weapon. Fred screamed and fired, his bullet hitting Officer Jackson in the middle of the chest, but it didn’t so much as slow down the inevitable. Fred’s scream was cut short as Jackson’s own bullet tore into his open mouth and splattered bits of bone and brain and blood all over the wall behind.

 

When the story finally got told there were a lot of questions about what could have possibly driven such a seemingly normal man to such horrific actions, what could be done to prevent these things from happening again, and, as always, lots of pondering and pontificating without any conclusions ever really being made. There were lots of all of the kinds of things that go on around these types of shocking stories.

But what there wasn’t was true understanding. What Fred Durkinson wanted people to know the most was never spoken of.  Not one person ever mentioned Fred Durkinson’s last email because the only person besides Fred Durkinson that had seen it was Officer Jackson. And Officer Jackson wasn’t talking because he, like Fred, was six feet under and silent in his grave.

§

Al Bellington sat in his undershirt and dirty boxers, stained with spilled beer, the powdery orange dust from a bag of cheese flavored nacho chips, and most definitely the semen from his latest round of porn watching. Al Bellington was currently taking a nap in his favorite comfortable chair, the aforementioned bag of nacho chips resting on his well rounded belly, riding like a ship on the gentle waves of the folds of his fat as it rose and fell in time to his breathing. He snored loudly and his body jerked.

Al Bellington was dreaming.

It started out as a pleasant dream. A wet dream would be the colloquial term. He was currently being serviced by two nubile young beauties, their smiling faces looking up at him with adoration as they took turns sucking his massive member. He was in the middle of telling one of them not to forget his balls when the dream went south on him. What had just been two beautiful, bouncy, full-breasted women turned into horrors beyond compare. One bit his cock off. The other sat on his face and her vagina – a dark, impossibly large cavern of utter darkness – swallowed him whole.

Al Bellington awoke from this dream, this nightmare, but he didn’t awaken with a start. His breathing wasn’t rapid, nor was he particular sweaty. No. The only thing Al Bellington did was open his eyes.

And they were black. Oh so black.

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chronicles of a good dog finding his freedom

I think it was the disdain that finally broke me. Yeah. That was it. It was like everything I said was met with a sniff and a wave. That and the sneaky feeling I was nothing more than a puppy wagging its tail and waiting to be scratched behind its faithful little ears. Fuck that. I took off my collar, pissed on her rug, and took my flea riddled ass on out of there. No more smacks with the newspaper followed by “No! Bad dog!” for me. You don’t want this mutt? Fine. I’ll find me a place where puppy dog tails are exactly what the doctor ordered. Now, if I can just avoid the dog pound, I’ll find me a new home where a little face licking is properly appreciated. And maybe someday when you are surrounded by vicious, gnashing, canines trying to draw blood, you’ll think of that little mutt of a puppy that wanted nothing more than to lick your hand and get his belly scratched. But some other little girl will be rubbing my head and telling me how much she loves me, scruff and all. Yep. So, with a smile on my face and my tongue hanging joyfully out of my mouth I set off on my journey.

~ Chronicles of a Good Dog

renewal

I didn’t find love where I thought it lay but I can assure you that I will find it some day, some year. And then, finally, I will wrap myself around someone, strong, brave, and beautiful and the tears that fall from my face will be those of happiness instead of sadness. And every night spent alone and wondering will be long lost in the mists of time, and I will only regret that it took me so long to find her and that our time together won’t be as long as it could have been. But any minute, any second, with her will be precious and nothing will tear her from me until the moment I breathe my last with her name on my lips.

I will let the water of her love wash over me and I will feel renewal.

the box

i stumbled across a box once. it was just sitting there in the middle of nowhere. it was metal. it had a keyhole. lying on the ground next to it was a key. i took up the key and opened the box but it was empty. i picked up the box and turned it this way and that, examining it. on the bottom someone had written “i have a gift for you”. i doubted that meant me, but i did wonder who it was meant for. and perhaps that gift was already taken long ago and the box would remain empty. i had no way of knowing, but i determined to check the box every day. and so i did. and every day i opened it with a mixture of dread and excitement. and every day i was disappointed for the box remained empty. after a time i realized that the gift must have been taken long ago and that was why the box had been discarded there in the middle of nowhere. it must have made whoever found it very happy. i wondered what it was. i knew i would never find out, but curiosity had gripped me by then and would not let go. i assumed that i had just been too late because i would hate to think that the box had lied to me. perhaps it did, i thought, and i determined to throw the box away and let it torture someone else, but i could never bring myself to do it. and so i still check the box and i still feel the disappointment at finding it empty.

Damn, I Want That

Yeah. This post is going to be different. It’s just me, my thoughts and some beer. Should be interesting. Or not. I could be really boring right now as I let my emotions guide my fingers and just type whatever comes out. Ever read a stream of consciousness post? Yes, you have. Probably didn’t realize it though. Damn near every one of mine have been that way. Even the ones that seem to make sense, or are sort of poetic. It works like this for me: I get a feeling inside of me, it builds up pressure, and like any other sort of pressure it needs to be released before things explode. So I sit down and write it out. Writing is the turning of that valve so that I don’t go mad from whatever it is that is eating at me at that particular time. And the blog is as good a place as any. Maybe someone will stumble across this place and say to his or her self “Wow. I feel just like that.” and maybe knowing there is another person with the same things going on will help them out. I damn sure don’t write this thing for the glory. But I love this place even so. It’s a good listener.

As a man, I often feel like I have to keep everything locked up inside. Like if I let anything out I feel ashamed. At least the sad parts. I’m not supposed to whine. I’m not supposed to hurt. I’m not supposed to let anyone or anything affect me, and I am damn sure not supposed to cry. I am sure that this stems from my country upbringing and my redneck father who seemed to be made of stone and anger, but was probably suffering under the same delusions he passed on to me. He just didn’t have an outlet beyond punching and drinking and holding a gun to his head. Somehow, someway, I was born with a passionate yet creative disposition. Way more cerebral than dear old dad. He never understood me. He didn’t understand how I could spend so many hours in my room drawing, reading and just THINKING. He thought if I wasn’t actively doing something out doors then I wasn’t doing shit. He really wasn’t a very good father at all and once he and my mom divorced I hardly ever saw him. He once told my mom that he didn’t come around because it hurt too much to see us. I realized something when I heard that. My dad wasn’t a tough guy at all. He was a big fat pussy. I figured out at that moment that in order to stay manly and avoid having anyone see you crack, you had to avoid anything that would make you want to crack.

So I did for years. I kept it all bottled up. On occasion I would let things slip. Not very often. I fell in love – or what I thought might be love – a couple times. They ended badly. Funny thing though. I was married twice and neither one of those times correspond to the times I was in love. Could explain my divorce rate. 2 for 2 baby. Batting a thousand. After all of the crap, I was way more successful locking myself up. Of course it didn’t hurt that no woman made me even remotely interested in opening up either. They were so interchangeable that they all merged in to some gooey gunk with a vaguely feminine shape. I didn’t give a rat’s ass about a one of them.

And they loved the shit out of me.

But things change and so did I. I started hating that. I hated not caring. I hated that I was just fucking someone just to be fucking someone. Because I was horny. I hated the fact that the less I seemed to give a shit the more they chased me. It just seemed wrong. I looked around and I saw couples that seemed happy, and many that I knew were really happy, and I kept asking myself why the fuck I couldn’t find that. What self-destructive tendency did I possess that kept me from that? What was stopping me from caring about these women? What magic formula was needed to make me feel something goddammit? I had no clue and I still don’t. I just knew that until I felt something what I was looking for wasn’t going to happen.

And then I met her.

Fuck me, but it was love at first sight. I know, I know. It’s a load of crap. All kinds of rationalizations can fly around explaining that shit and I’ve heard them all – a lot of them from her. But I just knew. There is absolutely no way I can explain it in words. I was struck with a certainty I hadn’t felt before.

It was exciting.

It was exhilarating.

It was heartbreaking.

It was terrifying.

It was mysterious.

It was life changing.

It made me strong.

It made me weak.

I say all of these things in the past tense but the truth of the matter is that it is still happening to me right now. I am somewhere in the story. I can’t tell you if it is the beginning, the middle or even the end. It could be anywhere along that path. Some days it feels like the beginning…like I am in a really fucking long foreword…other days it feels like I am on the last page and I am about to turn it and see The End. The only part I am sure of is that I intend to be the romantic lead and do all I can to win the heart of my lady love. I’m either going to fly to the highest heights or I am going to crash and burn. But if I do burn I am going to scorch the memory of me into her heart.

Thing is, she wants that too. She is uncertain of it, questioning, but I can’t answer that question for her. Only her heart can guide her to the point where the answers are. All I can do is shout and whistle “Hey! Over here!” and hope like hell she notices and turns in my direction. I’m probably trying too hard, but this is all new to me. She’s done things to me inside that I am not familiar with or comfortable with and so I am kind of flying blind. I try to retreat back into my tough guy persona, but there’s not much of it left. She’s cracked it all open like the shell of a hard boiled egg and left me exposed. So I go with it. I let her see what no one else has ever seen. A side of me that makes my friends say “Who the fuck are you?”. I hope she doesn’t feel guilty about that. Or pity. I want neither from her. If those are ultimately what motivates her then this whole exercise is useless. I want her to feel happy about it. Privileged. Impressed. And then I want her to fucking fall her ass in love with me. I want a happily ever after (filled with good times and bad times – I’m realistic). She struggles against herself. Resisting. First going one way, then another. This stems from her having pain of her own to deal with. A way more intense pain than anything I have had to deal with. She is not at fault for being wary. I understand it. I accept it and try to remain patient. I stand here and hold out my hand and offer her support and love. It’s all I can do at the moment and hopefully it will be enough in the end.

Nowadays it seems this sort of persistence makes one a fool. But wouldn’t it be more foolish to let something I have spent a lifetime searching for go too easily just because it’s difficult? I think so. I’m not going to be a pussy like my dad and avoid the risk of a heartbreak just to keep from being hurt. I am going to plow through and see this to the end, whether that end be bitter or sweet or some combination of the two. I’m not prepared to wait another 20 years to have someone pry my chest open like she did. I don’t have the time for that. I want this love that everyone else feels to be a part of my life while I am still young enough to enjoy it. I’m not sure what I am going to do should she decide not to reciprocate. Not a lot I can do really. Sink back into the oblivion of meaningless relationships, flounder around and hope like hell it doesn’t take another 20 years to fall madly in love with some dark eyed beauty.

So keep your fingers crossed for me. The road is under construction and it is going to be a bumpy ride but I am confident that a pretty smooth highway lies on just the other side. Then it will just be a red convertible, the wind in my hair and her pretty head on my shoulder. We’ll be driving down the road with laughter in our hearts and love on our mind. Watch us disappear into the sunset and become that couple that some other person looks at and thinks “Damn, I want that.”

glass

There once was a boy who liked to wander. One day he wandered far, far away from his village. He passed through a forest he had explored many times and came upon a large field full of tall grass that bent in waves as the wind blew across it. It looked like a huge green ocean. He paused, uncertain. As far as his eye could see stretched the emerald expanse. In doubt, he began to turn back and go home when a small, white speck caught his eye. Curious, he decided to go explore this new mystery.

As he walked toward the speck and it grew larger and larger, he began to realize first, that it was a person and then secondly, that it was a girl. She had noticed his approach and stopped, staring at him as he made his way towards her. She wore a white dress that blew enticingly in the wind, fitfully showing her legs and then covering them back up. She didn’t seem in the least concerned with this as she made no motion to keep her dress under control. Her hair was brown and shined with brilliant highlights in the sun. Her eyes were dark, her lips full and welcoming.

The boy thought she was the most beautiful creature he had ever laid eyes on in his life.

As he approached her he slowed. She merely stood there watching him intently, as if to see what he would do next. He stopped and took in the beauty of her once more. He felt funny. His stomach flip-flopped and his heart seemed to be racing as if he had ran all the way from the forest. He wanted to speak to her but his mouth was dry and wouldn’t seem to open properly. Plus the wind was sure to catch all of his words and she would never hear them from this distance. He began to move in closer. As he walked towards her yet again, she seemed startled and raised her hand.

“Stop!”, she shouted, her voice oddly muffled sounding.

He thought perhaps it was the wind and moved another step. His head crashed into something he hadn’t seen a moment ago, and he fell backwards with a grunt. Holding his forehead in pain he looked up and saw a smudge in the air that he hadn’t seen before. As he gazed at it, it slowly disappeared and once more there seemed to be nothing but open space there.

“What was that?”, he asked the girl, who was giggling at him as if he were the most entertaining thing she had ever seen. He was slightly annoyed by her amusement at his misfortune, but he held it in.

Soon the girl stopped giggling enough to answer.

“I’m not really sure, to be honest. It’s a barrier of some sort. I call it The Glass, but it stays clean all the time no matter how much you smear it. Look.”

She wiped her hand across it and the trail of her touch followed behind. As they both sat and stared, the marks she had made slowly disappeared and it was all clear yet again. Amazing. But then a distressing thought took hold of the boy.

“Does it go forever?”

She shrugged. “No one knows. At least not anyone I have heard of. Perhaps.”

“Is there a way through it?”, he asked, reaching his hand out and pushing as hard as he could. The glass, while invisible was quite firm and didn’t budge an inch despite his best efforts. He withdrew his hand and watched as his print slowly disappeared. His heart sank in his chest. The girl seemed unperturbed by any of this which made his heart sink even further.

“We can still talk through it.”, she said, sitting down and arranging herself comfortably, and quite prettily, the boy thought to himself. Shrugging, he sat down and pulled up a piece of grass and stuck it in his mouth. It tasted horrible and he quickly spit it out. The girl giggled again.

“You are so funny”, she beamed at him, and her smile made the annoyance he had felt at being laughed at yet again disappear.

They talked and talked. The hours seemed to pass in minutes and before long the sky began to grow dark. Regretfully the boy said his goodbyes and they agreed to meet again there in three days time. The days passed slowly and painfully for the boy, but finally the day came and he met the girl at their spot. Over time, they met there again and again and their feelings for each other grew. The boy tossed over and over in his mind the idea of trying to find his way through the barrier, or over it, even under it. On days when he wasn’t to meet the girl he tried digging and digging but no matter how deep he went the barrier remained. He tried to throw things over it, but no matter how hard he threw, the object always bounced off the invisible, yet infuriatingly real, barrier that stood between him and her. Discouraged again and again he would turn away, determined to try again another day until he figured it out.

One day, he arrived at the appointed time but the girl wasn’t there. All that was in her place was a piece of paper fluttering in the wind. On that paper were written the words “I’m sorry.” And that is all it said. Confused and heartbroken the boy returned again and again to the spot hoping the girl would return.

But she never did

Deadsville has moved

Deadsville and the continuing adventures of our psychic companion may now be found at deadsville.wordpress.com.

Be there or he’ll send your dead ancestors to haunt you.

a life among ghosts

I woke up with a start. For a panicky moment I had no idea where I was, who I was. The world seemed to be split in two, like double vision. There was me and there was a reflection of me, slightly off and blurry. Then it passed and everything merged into normalcy.

I got out of bed, did all the usual yada yada morning stuff and went about my business.

I met a girl. We decided to go out for drinks.

The date – if you want to call it that – started off well. The usual chit chat, etc. But as it went along I was shocked to see that she was becoming translucent. The more she talked the less substantial she became, until there was barely an image of her at all. Her words, as empty and see-through as she had become, echoed listlessly through the room and entered my brain only to die quickly. My unsympathetic ear murdering her meaningless babble before my brain could engage.

Over time the whole world for me became populated with ghosts of people, moving around, doing whatever, pretending to be something. Pretending to be substantial. But I saw right through them. I moved through their world, longing for someone real to touch.

Then I saw her. Standing, holding hands with a blob, vaguely shaped like a man. Where their hands met he gained some sort of meaningful shape but the rest of him was lost to me. Extraneous. I tried to say hi, but the blob moved in my way, blocking her off. Making her a blurry image. I know she heard me, but she ignored me. So I moved around until I saw her clearly again. Hi, I said. And smiled. Again she ignored me, but this time she grabbed her blob’s hand tightly, kissed him warmly while looking pointedly at me. Hand in hand they walked away

Disappeared, laughing and happy.

I looked after her longingly for a bit, then turned away to live my life amongst ghosts.

The Ice Queen and the Fire King

Once upon a time in a land anywhere you want it to be there lived a queen. Her kingdom was all of ice and cold and desolate. But she was happy.

Or at least, she thought she was. Over time a vague sense of incompleteness began to over take her. At first, it was a tiny tickle in her spirit, but it seemed to grow with every waking moment.

One day, a visitor to her court was announced with the solemn blare of trumpets and pomp. As the Ice Queen waited on her throne the doors slowly opened and in swept a man of Fire.

He was unlike any man she had ever seen. All of the men of her kingdom were as she was, cold and pale, but this man was colorful and burned with the flame of life. He strode purposefully up to her throne and without so much as a bow introduce himself as the Fire King.

He said he had heard of the beautiful yet cold Ice Queen who lived way up high in her mountain castle, distant and haughty, cold and aloof and he had thought to see if she would be interested in an alliance.

Although outwardly the Ice Queen maintained her composure, inwardly she realized that she now knew what exactly had been troubling her all this time. She was the ruler of all she surveyed but yet, she was alone. And lonely. And this man, this Fire King, also a ruler, one who could know of this loneliness had made her realize this simply by his appearance.

So with all the regalness she could muster, she agreed to begin negotiations with this Fire King to join their two countries in an alliance. She bade him follow her to the negotiation chamber and with advisors in tow they began to hash out the terms.

During the course of this, their skin innocently brushed, one against the other, and a bit of steam let loose from this touch. Each gasped and drew back in pain. The advisors stared in horror.

“Your King has hurt my Queen!” the Ice Queens advisor accused.

“Nay, your Queen has hurt my King!” the Fire Kings advisor countered.

To each’s horror they realized that this alliance could never be, for the alliance that the Fire King had proposed was one of marriage, and if a minor touch brought each one pain then there could be no hope of more.

With a heavy sadness they parted.

Time went by and the memory of the pain dulled somewhat but the Ice Queen found her thoughts constantly returning to the Fire King. Other suitors began to arrive. Ones more fitting of her nature, and for awhile she entertained thoughts of accepting one of their proposals. After all, the kingdom needed an heir. Perhaps, over time, she could feel what she felt for that too brief moment between when the Fire King’s hand had lightly brushed hers and the pain that followed.

But she realized that would be a lie. There was only one for her. But what to do? They could never be together without causing each other pain. Furious, she turned away all suitors and shut herself away in her tower.

She shut herself away for so long that the kingdom began to suffer, but she no longer cared. She gave power to her viceroy and simply sat in her room staring out of her tower window and thinking of fire and warmth.

One night, just after she had turned away from her window with a sigh and prepared to fall into troubled sleep one more night she hard a noise behind her.

There stood the Fire King.

He looked a fright. Disheveled and forlorn, but to her he looked as beautiful as the day they had met. Her thoughts turned to her own appearance. Oh, how dreadful she must look, she thought. He didn’t seem to care. He approached her, timidly at first, then with bolder steps as he closed.

“My love, I could not stand to stay away from you any longer. I am willing to risk any pain just for one sweet kiss from your lips.”

He held out his arms and not even conscious of what she was doing she folded herself into them and pressed her lips against his. Yes, there was pain, but also a sweetness that she had never felt before in her life. As their lips met over and over again, slowly, painfully, yet so exquisitely, they joined and evaporated into steam. The steam swirled together, and if anyone had been in the room, they would have heard the sound of laughter and joy as the steam flew out of the window and into the night.

The End

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