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[personal profile] raxeira
the inescapable sensation of flying just before you hit the ground
--for [profile] cookielaura and her lovely prompt of "dying embers" (I feel like I should apologize, because this is a lot stranger than I intended. But it's also completely me, so I won't grovel too much. I also ride the English language and perspective pretty hard in this, so prepare yourself.)

As the last of the embers flicker and die, you feel your bone-china heart break in two. You’ve failed. After all this time and effort, you’ve failed. The demon hasn’t appeared. You snarl and bite your lip, throwing down the knife.

The circle you cut into the wooden floor a week ago is precise and neat. You spent an entire day cutting the sigils, making sure that each and every one was exact. You can’t afford to make a mistake when summoning a demon. The consequences are, you’ve been led to believe, dire.

Sinister circle, sliding round noose tightening, strangling, waking me from sleep, squeezing something from me, smothering me; breeding a strange fixation that steals my insubstance, lending me shape and locking me into it: solidity, foul corporation. Gasp.

Well, it’s all been for nothing. The circle cut into the floor is empty. The air in the abandoned little flat you’ve chosen is clear of darkness and miasma. You lean back and fumble in your little bag, pulling out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.

Writing, wild and coarse; its lines scratch at me, wrapping round my thoughts with winsome wishes, wrong as long as they it is just right enough. Words rewrite reality and install me in its place, not sigils but invocations, worse than words these are bureaucracy, prayers to the damned crafting bones and blood and barren skin. From nothing, of nothing.

The burn of the ash on your lips is refreshing. It grounds you as you scowl at the ritual bowl that sits in the center of the circle. The little embers inside roll over and flare as they turn to ash. You don’t know what you expected, really, from a ritual you found on a crumpled piece of paper left behind the dumpster behind work. You’d been taking out the trash when you found it – kicked it, really – and had picked it up with the intent of throwing it away. It was the symbols that caught your eye. The description beneath hadn’t been very specific, really (blood of a goat, human tears, etc) but you’d muddled through.

Nice noose this is not, nicking my gnarled breaths and hiding them away, tangled gasps weaving through noxious fumes, crowding thoughts with niceties and tugging at my senses, sight blurring, world hidden behind grey panes of shifting sand, the tang of tar ripping through me, shaking my sudden bones. They straighten me, rigid cages too brittle to shake loose, lifting me up and giving me strength.

And here you are, three weeks later, with nothing to show. No demon. Nothing but smoke threading through your lips and twisting up from the bowl to fill the room.

You dig in your bag and pull out the scrap of paper.

It is much-creased and slightly yellowed, of indeterminate page and composition. Looking at it closely (and you’ve done much of this over the past few weeks), you decide that it must be one of those blank pages found at the beginnings and endings of books, and has been torn out to be used for sketch paper.

Snarled syllables calling me, sharp and piercing, pinning me down in flesh and blood. I fight them but cannot escape, those wild utterings that serve to capture as much as enliven.

You lay it flat on the floor, fag pressed between pursed lips, and compared it to your work. Symbol by symbol, you work through the illustrations, muttering the directions in a half-whisper to yourself. Finally, you shove the paper away with a snarl. You’ve done everything right. Yet there is no demon, and here you are sitting in an abandoned flat with chewed out walls and the distinct scent of mould, with nothing to show for it.

Perhaps this physicality is precious, precocious, perspicacious. Slipping through the edges and into the cracks. Breathing in the space between thoughts.


The fire in the bowl has smoldered out completely, leaving thick smoke that can’t disperse in the closed-up room. You wave it away from and grab the heavy knife you used to carve up the floor. With a jab, you stab it into one of the sigils nearest, then wrench it free. You keep going until the symbols have been effaced and you are panting, cigarette bobbing from your lips. You sit down heavily on your arse, sighing.

Well, that’s it.

Foolishness done.

You’ve mauled the summoning circle well enough that it looks like a series of scratches in the floor. Nothing more. You could try again another time, perhaps. But you’re exhausted. The weight of worry pulls you down.

You gather your things and push them into your bag. The bowl at the center of the room is still hot. Such a little thing, that fire. You toss the end of your fag in and leave.

Shall we?

There is a lightness to your step that hasn’t been there. You’ve failed, but the light of day feels brighter than before as you leave the flat and wedge the door closed behind you. The city streets teem with life; you can hear the distant clamoring, even four stories up.

You go to the edge of the walkway and lean over the edge, breathing sharp, cold air.

What beauty this human world contains.

You hum a tune you halfway recognize under your breath and shudder with the need for flight. The city’s life slides under your skin and draws you forward.

You feel alive, moreso than you have for an age. You blink and a mist clears from your eyes and thoughts. The world is crystalline.

You lift your arms and the wind catches beneath then like wings.

The world needs but a spark to change.

Let us change it together.

You fly.
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