Anthropophagy

The man-eater crouches in the corner of his room and stares at me. All he can see are my eyes as I peer through the thin slat cut high into the iron door.

His hair hangs short and ragged about his face, his skin is as pale as blind earthworms. Father once explained that this sort of creature abhors the clothes of men, and to tie his own trousers and lace on boots was what he taught the man-eater first.

He still strips naked before meals, though.

Of all the things Father collected this is my favorite. It exasperated Father that rather than play the golden harp or admire rainbow diamonds and butterfly lace, rather than groom the razor swans and cuddle the exotic blue cats, I’d lean this stool against the iron door to climb up and watch the man-eater.

When I was younger I didn’t believe he was dangerous. He was only a skinny boy my age, putting together intricate puzzled on the stone floor of the tower room. He didn’t read, but surely it was only because no one ever taught him. One morning I watched him flip through an illuminated book so carefully and eagerly that I stole the key from Father’s study and arrived with an alphabet primer under my arm and candy in my nightgown pocket.

As I slipped in, he stood and backed up to the wall, those large dark eyes of his locked to my face. I smiled, offering him the primer. He reached out with one lanky arm and curled his fingers around it. Dried blood stained his cuticles, and I nearly dropped the book. But I straightened my shoulders and strode to his small desk as confidently as I was able with bare feet. I set three pieces of candy onto the table, red and gleaming like rubies, and said, “I thought I should teach you to read letters.”

The man-eater slunk beside me, his mouth firmly closed. This near to him – nearer than I’d ever been – I could see the gray sleepless hollows beneath his eyes and the gentle blue veins at his temples. He stared at me, just taller, but skinnier, and then slowly, slowly, put the primer onto the desk. He reached for one of the candies and brought it to his mouth. When he slipped it between those pink lips, I glanced away.

I opened the primer and smoothed the old parchment. “Here is A.”

Ay,” he whispered.

“Yes! Good!” I smiled proudly, and the man-eater smiled back.

His teeth hooked like fangs, every last one of them sharp. I felt my face drop and my fingers splayed flat against the primer. The man-eater closed his mouth and focused onto A. He traced it with his finger, giving me time to calm.
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THE CURIOSITIES ARC CONTEST WINNERS!

Thank you all for your enthusiasm! We got a ton of entires, and it was a thrill to see our awesome cover up all over the internet!

But I won’t make you hold your collective breath any longer. Our winners are:

Jazmin of Wonderful Bookshelf of Jaz

Anna Schmahl

Claudette the Future Librarian

Winners email me at tessa.gratton@gmail.com with your address and we’ll send out your prize! CONGRATULATIONS!!!

THE CURIOSITIES COVER REVEAL!

We, the Merry Fates, are super excited to share the cover of our upcoming not-quite-an-anthology, THE CURIOSTIES: a collection of stories.

We are so happy with the cover, and with the final product! 

A vampire locked in a cage in the basement, for good luck.

Bad guys, clever girls, and the various reasons why the guys have to stop breathing.

A world where fires never go out (with references to vanilla ice cream).

These are but a few of the curiosities collected in this volume of short stories by three acclaimed practitioners of paranormal fiction.

But The Curiosities is more than the stories. Since 2008, Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff have posted more than 250 works of short fiction to their website merryfates.com. Their goal was simple: create a space for experimentation and improvisation in their writing—all in public and without a backspace key. In that spirit, The Curiosities includes the stories and each author’s comments, critiques, and kudos in the margins. Think of it as a guided tour of the creative processes of three acclaimed authors.

So, are you curious now?

But it’s not just our stories, it’s full of our own brand of craziness and fun: 

And cartoons we’ve personally drawn!

 

Woo hoo! But wait, there’s more! Our publisher, Carolrhoda Lab, made a trailer in which we babble with slight coherency about Merry Fates and one of us has obscene amounts of eyeshadow. LINKY LINKY!

You can also watch the making of the book itself and our shenanigans here: WHEN THE FATES COLLIDE WITH MAGICAL PENS!

Bear

It was bones cracking.

The nightmare.

But waking up gave him no outlet to scream, for his throat could only whimper and roar. His tongue pressed against sharp teeth, yellowed and stained as though he’d spent a lifetime swallowing rabbits and deer-livers. He had no lips to form words, but sometimes in that moment before consciousness, he remembered language.

What he’d say: the snap and pop of fire makes me remember what it was like to change.

One of the sisters always heard him, slipping out of their loft on silent bare feet. Her shawl reminded him of something blue he used to know, and her silky white hair curled like the rapids in the river beside his…

She touched his muzzle unafraid, hissing little reassurances and digging her fingers into the thick ruff behind his ears.

The other sister came shortly, always aware of the first’s absence. Her lips were red and her eyes darker than… another thing he used to know. Together they teased him, tugging his fur or blowing lightly in his ears. The dark one painted pink on his claws. The quiet one tied glass beads into his fur.

***

It was a woman’s hands.

The dream.

Caressing his face, his smooth human skin. He could never see a thing, but only feel her fingers fluttering his lashes, drawing a line down his nose, tracing the corner of his mouth. There was no need to remember language then.

Those were the mornings he woke quietly, the banked fire pushing gentle warmth at his back. He heaved up onto his paws and trundled to the door a few steps before settling back into this monster’s shape.

And remembering he couldn’t turn the handle. If he wanted through the door, out of the cottage, he’d have to break through. Easy, with his bulk. But then the winter would rush in.

***

The world outside was built of diamonds. Snow and ice glaring the sun back at him, but the sisters ran ahead, leaving shadowed footprints for him to follow. Sometimes he did, vaguely knowing it was a game, a game he’d played before, hunting… hunting deer on the back of a horse with gray muddled eyes. Named…

He didn’t know his own name.

Just Bear.

Maybe his memory would blossom with the flowers.

***

It was easier to sleep.

 

 

Today’s story based on the common prompt: Snow White and Rose Red
image by Roxnstix via flickr CC

 

True, Truest

I told the king the truth before I’d grown old enough to understand lying.

Since, he’s come to rely on me. I sit at his knee on a three-legged stool, my ankles together, hair oiled and braided into as much of a crown as I’ll ever receive, in a plain but finely made dress there’s no question everyone can see. From there I observe his court, and when the king asks what I see, I tell him. For my eleventh birthday he bestowed upon my mother a small retirement cottage outside the city, and my uncle who helped raise me a stipend to open his own clock shop. When I turned fifteen I was granted the title Truth Sayer, and a tiny sapphire and emerald ring with the king’s seal. I’ve always striven to serve His Majesty well, never skimping on the truths I see or sparing anyone. My word has led to executions and revelry, to the king’s fury, consternation, and eternal gratitude.

Tonight will be the last time.

The moon hangs low and orange over the garden. I stare at it, listening to the voices from this afternoon echo in my chamber. Three hundred and seventeen dead, Violet. His priorities are changed. You know this is the truth. You always do. Three hundred and seventeen. Do you have to tell their mothers why they died?

My heart pinches, cutting off the memories. I shudder and stand, taking up the dagger from the windowsill. Its jasper hilt is cold in my palm and slippery. I slide it into my skirt pocket, through the thin slit. There’s a hilt strapped to my thigh, an assassin’s tool.

Bennett waits for me in the hallway, his fine jacket gathering dust for how still he stands. Like a shadow he peels away from the wall and holds out his hand. I ignore it, for the truth is I won’t accept any comfort for what I’m about to do.
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TK

This week the Merry Fates are gathering together in order to work on our not-quite-anthology with Carolrhoda Lab! We’re super excited and promise to get at least SOME work done.

Involving these things:

 

AND…. on Friday there will be a Hilarious Vlog as proof that we did, indeed, work. See you on the flipside!

One Wing

Rory Cahill has a wing instead of an arm. From the edges of his neck, spreading down his shoulder, over his biceps and triceps, around his elbow and lengthening along his wrist, are intricately inked feathers. Every inch of tan skin slinks and ripples with lines of the tattoo, as if wind flutters around him.

He always wears those A-line shirts as soon as the sun’s out, even in winter, as if he can’t stand to have a sleeve hiding his skin. Or he just wants to show off that physique. (Nobody complains unless they’re jealous anyway.) I definitely don’t complain. He sits in front of me in Pre-Calc, and even though the dress code forces another layer onto him I can stare at the back of his neck, where the first thin black feather peeks out from his collar. When I know the answer to the problems on the white board, I let myself fantasize about skimming my finger right there, and up into his hairline where I know the short hairs will tickle him. I’d put my tongue against that feather and Rory Cahill would say my name.

Nobody knows why he got it. I mean, one wing? He’d fly in circles.

He’s been asked before. By friends and enemies, in homeroom and in the quad, and memorably, during the pep rally against Newan High, Sandy Redford the head cheerleader asked right into the spotty microphone: “The question of the day isn’t whether we’ll defeat the Bighorns, or even by how much! The question is why does Rory Cahill have a one wing?”

Everybody laughed and cheered, and his buddies prodded Rory from where the basketball team stood in a line, across the gym floor to Sandy. She shoved the microphone under his mouth, (nearly gagging him I thought), and he said, “So I don’t have a disqualifying advantage over the other team.”

He was everybody’s favorite after that. We’re all shallow in the 11th grade.
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2011 Wrap-up!

We made it through another year here at Merry Fates! We’ve all got one more book out (or in some overachiever’s case, two more)! We’ve done our very first official Merry Fates Live Event where all three of us get together in public just to talk about short stories!!! We’ve welcomed 11 awesome guest writers to write on the blog! There are 33 new stories from myself, Brenna, and Maggie!

In short, we win!

But it’s December, which means hiatus time. While you suffer through the holidays (I mean, of course, have a wonderful solstice), here are our top stories from 2011:

********************************************************
BRENNA:

“Dead Ringer v. 1”
At first it was little things—how he always wore the watch I’d given him, even though it left a raw spot on his wrist and he’d never worn one before. More…

“Cuts Both Ways”
I hate Baz Crandall. More…

********************************************************
TESSA:

“Three True Things”
For my entire life, Mom and Dad insisted they did not believe in the Piercy family curse. More…

“Mask of Petals, Mask of Thorns”
Every night before we retire, he gently takes my hand, leans in, and stops a breath away from me. “Will you kiss me with your eyes open, Beauty?” he asks. More…

********************************************************
MAGGIE:

“Hel”
It’s hard not to feel bad for the prisoners, but I guess that’s because I don’t know what they did to get in here. More…

“Deep Subject”
On Tuesday, we discovered the dragon in the well. More…

And when we return in January… we’ll be starting the Epic Countdown To The End. That’s right, May 2012 will be 4 years exactly that Merry Fates has been around, and just before our Not-Anthology comes out with Carolrhoda Lab at the end of the summer, we’re gonna go out with a bang!

January, February, March, and April, we’re going to write our stories to a common prompt, and end each month with a contest. Then in May, we will have the grandmother of all epic contest giveaways as we ask you to help us celebrate all the fun and stress and awesome creating this website has brought us.

“Clean” by Swati Avasthi

It would not be enough.  For Andoria, every curl of her mother’s lips had to be paid for.  Andoria had woken up early, heated the iron in the fire until it glowed, and pressed each pleat of her dress.  She had even braided her hair all by herself.  Now, she stood perfectly still in a line of restless girls, ignoring the snow that seeped through her shoes and pierced her toes.  It ought to be enough.  She looked over her shoulder at the corner of the village square where parents and brothers were gathered, waiting for the inspections to end.  Her mother stood with remote eyes and a frown.  Maybe her father would reward her.  The bakery was so close, just across the street.  She inhaled deeply:  currant cakes.

Finally, Sere Phylos, the Royal Magus, stopped before Andoria.  Andoria had never seen anyone look so clean.  Though her blonde hair was loose, it was kempt and straight, giving her a dignity that Andoria had seen only in men.  The assistant following her had a thin face and puckered his lips frequently, no flaw too small for his disapproval.

Sere stared down at her, but Andoria held her gaze; revealing fear was just an invitation.

“Name,” Sere’s assistant said.

“Andoria Ioke,”

“Age?”

“Eleven.”

“Underage for mind consent alone,” he murmured.  “Will you submit to a mindlink?”  His voice was brisk and impersonal.  Just another girl in just another village.  Something about it irritated her.

“Do I have a choice?” she asked.

His lips tightened.  Sere held up her hand before he responded.  “Yes.  You do.”  She kneeled, looking at Andoria eye to eye.  “Do you know what a mind link is?”

“Where you get to hear my thoughts?”

“Something like that.  If you consent, our minds will be connected to each other, and I can see anything inside your head that I want.  But you can explore my mind, too.  I’m only looking for one thing so I will be fast.”

Andoria nodded.  “Will it hurt?”

“No.”  She did not sound like other adults, the lie hovering around the edge of their voices.  She sounded like she was telling the truth.  “Only if you want to.”

“All right.  I consent.”

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