That’s the thing with living in the Scuttle Bay area. It seems like half of the people in the city have a mask tucked in a pocket and some kind of super powers. It could come from the nuclear tests they did just up river back in the 40s. It could come from the modern biotech firms dotting the city. It could also come from the meteor storm that struck about ten years back. I’ve even heard a few people say it’s an old curse or something else to do with the pirates the bay is named for. But honestly, it doesn’t matter. It’s enough to know that half the people in the city have powers and other lives. And the biggest hero is none other than Atomic Ace. He’s pretty much what you’d expect, really. Over 6-foot, sculpted like a god and hung like a horse based on the way the leather clings. Bright blue eyes, like a cloudless day, framed by strong, dark brows and a roman nose. His hair is black as night and cut in a way that screams rugged and manly, which is honestly impressive for a guy who wears his underwear on the outside. Who am I? Folks around here call me Rabbit. I’m what you’d call a speedster. It cropped up when I was about 14, and my folks are both normals so it was something of a surprise. I tried to live as normally as I could, blend in and all that. I was about 17 when I first encountered Atomic Ace. And I thought I was going to die
Watching the skies
hoping to see
the tiniest glimmer
of scale or of wing
they ride the winds high
over forest and dell
hunting on the breeze
for treasures of yore
never have I seen them
but ever do I try
In the forests there exists
another of long ago
a great beast of legend
whose might well you know
the horn shines bright
on a moonless night
to guide lovers lost
their hooves knell like bells
as they step light on forest paths
but never have I heard the sound
In sylvan holds
live those who know
the magic of song and dance
the ones who weave their art in trees
and guide the plants aloft
the sylvan folk once traveled out
but nary does now
in cavern hold lives
those who know
the song of metal’s chime
life in the forge fire
to sing with steel and iron
armor forged and blades cast
in a cavern underground
once found their way to markets ours
but nary anymore
walking in a forest grove
only birds sounding
my footsteps crunching leaves
eyes watch me on all sides
following me in the twilight glow
the wind blows, dancing in the fallen leaves
the boughs sway to and fro around the sylvan path
a song fills my ears as I walk along
a clearing lies ahead of me
entering, I see a lad clad in leaves and vines
in his hands, he cups a flute
and plays the forest to sleep
a sparrow on his shoulder, wolf pups at his knee
I stood and watched as animals slept all around this boy
he played a song of twilight and shadows
a song of sleep and dreams
as his song came to an end, the stars twinkled their glee
the moon rose to say good night
I looked again to see him
he raised his head with a wink and a nod and vanished before my eyes
forward I walk, through sleeping beasts
when caught my eye, a small thing on the ground
I lifted it gently, holding it to my lips
Take care of it, spoke a voice, for now you hold time
and blew a note, low and long
to watch the universe’s beginning from swirling infinity
Cyn sat in front of the mirror, the prom invitation on the desk and let the tears fall. There was a pounding on the door and she turned, quickly wiping her face on her sleeve. The door opened before she could say a word and she gulped. Her step-mother stood in the doorframe, hair pinned and tortured in curlers in preparation for the evening out she’d been planning.
“I left a list of chores on the fridge for you, Aaron. They’d better all be done before your father and I get home. Do you hear me?”
Cyn just nodded, keeping her head down.
Her voice caught and she winced. Her step-mother was walking into the room, striding with purpose as she looked at something.
“What’s this?” She flicked the invitation off the desk and a cheshire grin crossed her. “Is it prom season already? Well, that’s exciting, isn’t it? It’s not every day a young man gets the privilege of escorting a girl to their senior prom. Your father will take you for a tux, of course. Have you got a date yet?”
Her mind had gone blank, her veins turning to ice the moment the damnable piece of paper had been taken from her. Young man. A tux. She was freezing from the inside and she couldn’t look up anymore.
“N-no, Ma’am. Not yet.”
“You’ll find someone soon. Don’t you worry? Have you thought about asking one of the nice girls from church? I bet they would just love to go.”
Cyn’s step-mother tousled her hair and then turned to return to her preparations. For her part, Cyn waited just long enough for it not to be rude, closed the door tightly and dropped to sit hard against the door. She was shaking and the tears streamed down her face once more. Not for the first time, she wondered what it would be like to claw her own skin off, to take the parts of her she didn’t like and just be rid of them.
He scampered through the silent village, laughter in his eyes and a paintbrush in his hand. All around him, people slept and never saw his passage. That was the way of things, the way his life had always been. But it didn’t matter. He had his own fun making his art across the world. Stopping at a glass paned window, he began to trace the loops and swirls that he so loved. They formed in blues and whites, in every shade of ice and frost. Then he heard a voice in the open street and turned.
A young woman stood there, ice-blue eyes wide and uncertain. Her auburn hair was tied back under a kerchief and her dress was a pale blue that nearly matched his own shirt. She took another uncertain step towards him, boots making a soft shushing noise in the light snow. She was only a bit older than he appeared to be, 16 or so.
“You are Jack, aren’t you? The frost painter?”
His breath froze in the air, hanging as a light fog for a moment. Her smile brightened and the snow began to pick up.
“I’ve been looking for you for so long. My name is Holle.”
He walked towards her, a smile playing at his lips.
“You’re making it snow, aren’t you?”
“I am, frost painter.”
He held out his hand and she took it without hesitation. For the first time in their long lives, when they returned to their work, neither one was alone.
Her bass drum heart boomed so loudly the band on the stage could have used it to keep time. The trumpet crooned and the snare drum begged her to follow her dreams across the room to the beautiful brunette leaning against the bar. She took one last sip and set her glass down on the table. Pulling her courage on, she hummed along as she wove through the crowds. Stepping in alongside, she smiled and held out a small bunch of lavenders.
“How’s about a dance, sweetheart?”
The brunette turned, smiling shyly as she took in the flower and the suited woman offering it. Taking it, she slid away from the bar and tucked it into her hair in a fluid motion.
The night went on like that, with laughing and dancing until the midnight hour approached. The doors were suddenly flung open, church bells tolling the midnight hour somewhere in the distance. Heads snapped up all over the room as the lights came up and the police poured in. She turned, meaning to run together, but the brunette was gone. All that was left were their memories. She had no time, though, to worry about that. She had to make it out before she got caught.
“I didn’t get her name.” The realization hit her like a truck as she stepped into her small apartment. “Dammit!”
Running her fingers through her short blond hair, she wondered if they would ever see each other again. But it was so unlikely. So unlikely that it hurt. With a sigh, her shoulder slumped and she hung her coat by the door. Leaning against the wall, she wondered. That club would be closed for a while after the raid. How could she possibly know which one to go to to find her again? It was like looking for a needle in a haystack or trying to find Cinderella without her glass slipper. Hopeless.
It had been so many years ago that she had gone to the ball. So long that it seemed like nothing more than a dream. Only the memories could tell her that it had really happened. Hadn’t the carriage faded back into a pumpkin? And the gown to nothing but tatters? Even the glass slippers had faded into nothing, leaving her feet once again bare. The Prince had seen her run, had given chase. He had found the lost slipper but it had disintegrated in his hands as the bell tolled one. Gone was hope. Gone was a chance to leave her miserable life. Gone was Ella. Only the Cinder Girl remained. Everything else was a fairy tale, a distant hope perched on a long forgotten shelf in her mind where she danced and whirled in the arms of the Prince until the hours grew late. It was nothing but a dream that tasted like ash and cinders.