To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Sat Sep 08, 2018 12:59 pm

Several things happened in short order: Genny had offered her trust in exchange for a demand, Gloria charged, and the sword vanished. There was something else. What was it? It was there, it was somewhere, right on the tip of her tongue. As if she’d walked into a room and forgotten why she’d come; Elliot’s touch was gone and she stood as if fending off sleep, dumbly watching the enthralling illumination, the thorns, and blue roses as they came into existence.

“Keep her,” questioning, sing-song words fell out of her, as if she were trying to remember the next line in a childhood lullaby she hadn’t heard in years. Her hand reached out to the space between, slow as if she moved through tar, with straining fingers, grasping for the wrist of that tattooed arm. Perhaps all she’d catch were tendrils of smoke and imagination.

‘...wake up now,’

The words drowned as familiar, small bells began to chime. Their merry warning initiated glistening ripples like water drops onto the fabric of the dream that had been the floor. The sound distorted to hearty tones that built into a gentle melody as lucidity lost out, the hand that had gripped the sword relaxed, and focus fell away. The horrors Gloria reflected were captured upon the surface, an undulating reality that became like water.

The sword had been a thread tethering Genny to memories, to the control of her slumbering body’s conscious mind. The sword ought to have been just an object, merely a memory pulled with purpose into a lucid dream. It was as foreign and as out of it’s own time and place as the deformed creature. With it yanked free, as though it were the only thing holding her upright, she collapsed. Or rather, she inverted. Folding into herself and through what was left of the floor until she stood below them both, a curious reflection looking down, up at them from below.

The floor, as unstable as it might look could easily hold Elliot. His mind wasn’t quite so easy to enter, after all. But for Gloria, it might be as though the water rose, or perhaps she fell. The dream below the turbulent sea surface, beckoning and pulling her under.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Sat Sep 08, 2018 5:50 pm

Thorns. A figure, as quick to come into being as it was to disappear.

Thousand-Eyes vanished; that was life, and that was death.

Genny reaching out, then crumbling like powder, or perhaps like a melting wax figurine, sinking down, down, down...

Pain. But brief. Blinding, deafening, so great that it could hardly register in anything but noise and whiteness. Then there was water, rushing up to devour her.

Her blood suffused the depths of the sea, coiling out in dark, cloudy billows from places where sharp edges had chewed canyons into her. She was the carriage of the Glass Sun, boiling the water around her in a torrent of heat and sulfur and salt, until at last it filled her swollen lungs and the murky blood transformed like any substance must when at the will and pressure of a force far its greater: its color and weight became sound and fury, the spilling stuff of veins morphing into the spillnig stuff of mind, an uninterrupted deluge of the storm constantly raging underneath that bristling bounty of hair, that brown scalp, that thick, thick skull, pouring out into the dream—

elliot brown
could raw his mar'dak's nipple red underneath the constant
gumming of that arrogant jaw but you cannot silence him cannot
bring sense to him cannot tame him with a bit between the teeth

genny tolleson
could move a mountain and a kingdom with her mind and you
weave whole gowns from that red hair wrap yourself inside of
it and hope she doesn't mind glour'eya (j'uk'ad, j'uk'ad)

will grow old and she will be far better left to the
happiness of a lie (you've but one parent, a knight

so you fear him because you could not fix him could not save
him could not be anything more than spit and promises and stupid
foreign girl (never myrkenite no myrkener myrkener myrkener)

and you find yourself tumbling into old burnt libraries to find
silent words buried like brilliant jewels on her lips and the
stutter left behind finds a rhythm like a song in the hearbeat
of your mind there you are dancing dancing dancing

named catch, who kissed the moonlight and breathed
out a vapor and so you came to be like a moonbeam
dream cast alive through the fog)

you just tire him with all your screaming and your stubborness
and stupid smashing rock glour'eya (j'uk'ol, j'uk'ol) he has
all he needs and all he wants with ink etched into the skin and
thorns on the edges of those fingertips—

to its charm before you drift off to sleep and how cruel you
are you stupid sand-scarred girl that for all the sharp-edge
beauty of her mind you just stare at that curve of her
collarbone burnt into your vision and wonder if she looks back—

than a very ugly truth too afraid
to look
you straight
in the eye—

—swimming, drowning among the violence of clumsy metaphors blowing profusely out from underneath her skin. And thorn-riddled, her dark face wearing the bulging, airless terror of a corpse cast off from a ship, she tried to swim, but failed, for she could not; she tried to sluggishly batter her useless hand against the frozen top of the sea, but her arm swung like lifeless ribbon and possessed no strength. Drowning in the water, falling apart, peeling off from the bones, strangling in the remnants of her own dress, it was all she could do to keep from going limp and dead in the blackness.

Driven by fading effort, that spasming hand lashed out, tried to snare the edge of Genny's gossamer hem floating mist-like in the suffocating sea.

Don't go. Don't flee. I'm here, I'm here...

Elliot Brown was a lost cause. Genny Tolleson could not be.

We're not so different...I, too, am fighting with every—
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Glenn » Wed Sep 19, 2018 1:59 am

Genny was beneath them. Gloria was among them. Them? There was no them. There was he and he alone, younger again, eyes sharp. Whatever spell had been forming between he and Genny, Gloria had broken. Whatever self had emerge to facilitate such a thing had submerged once again, far deeper than Gloria's murky muddling or Genny's simple inversion.

No, this was a simple, primal creature of blunt symbols. Standing steady in the face of the fate of the others wasn't enough. He took one step, two, climbing downwards to get upwards, and was summarily walking upon air. His eyes were for neither of them, but instead for the vine with their harsh thorns. Blood, tainted blood, blood mixed with bile, dripped off of them. That wouldn't do. Index and middle fingers pressed together. The vines were to be a monument to what he lost, a means to get it back, perhaps?

He was a bullheaded boy, a stubborn force. Still, he could only willfully ignore so much. There was a question to how much his will was his own and how much such autonomy belonged to a dream, and this was a dream of his changing but not of his making. He had wanted to remove the blood from the vine, to restore its brutal purity. Instead, his fingers were still pressed but his hand fell as the blood took on a life of its own.

He watched. He listened. He perceived.

Then, he walked forward towards the vine. "What in the world is a soodsy anyway?" He had looked down to the image of Genny as he asked, only to shrug it off and move on.

There simply wasn't time for this. Normally, he had no choice. Normally, he was a captive until the dreamer woke, but this was a unique situation and he couldn't bear to endure it a moment longer. Not a moment. He pressed his finger into one of the thorns and twisted, the bitter jag breaking off into his skin. In this moment, and this moment alone, an earring with a red jewel, somehow hidden from both of the women previously, was clearly visible upon him. It stood out in this bleak, crumbling environment. He did not notice. Instead, grimacing through an unnatural pain that was underpinned with a familiar pleasure, he extended that index finger from before. The thorn turned within him, becoming one with his gnawed-upon nail, and he swiped down, finishing the sundering of the half-started rift. "Wake up, already," he muttered to anyone still behind him, and he stepped through back into the dream from whence he had previously come, then having brought half an ocean and just one more monster to join them, and now leaving them with one less monster to worry about on this day.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Tue Oct 02, 2018 4:25 pm

The bruised and purple thoughts were like ink. That spilling stuff, curling streams of perception and emotion, bled from Gloria’s brains into the sea; spreading like viscous storm clouds that, while diffusing, grew until they became the water. Then suddenly, to look down was to look through stained glass; the reality of the place below became ever so slightly tinged and Gloria colored.

And just below the surface, under the watery veneer, was a placid Genny looking down, up at the reflection of Elliot as he asked blithely about Soodsy. His bodily projection, his presence, prepared to leave but part of her had already gone. The girl in the reflection was not the woman with fiery and luminous locks that demanded truth, diplomacy, and rationality, or reason. In her place was a hollow, Genny-like creature, with her too-thin limbs and regular-red hair. “Soodsy,” she repeated, her voice both her own and foreign for the lack of emotion it carried. A question? A statement? Perhaps a blindly repeated and empty sound, nearly lost beneath the frantic thrashing and spray as Gloria was devoured by the water.

She watched Elliot as he began to leave. Her eyes locked on the thorn and then the bloody gem, they studied the dreamthief’s hands as he slashed through reality and left. But they didn’t follow, they lingered upon the space through which he had gone. Through a split or a tear in the membrane of the dream. Through a door.

Elliot had told Genny to wake. Or maybe he hadn’t, maybe it had been impossible to tell who the owner of the dream had been, and the statement was merely an instruction to them both. But the reality of the situation, if there could be any, was that he had taken away that capacity from Genny and after she had placed her trust so resolutely with him. He was meant to stay, to keep Gloria safe from the far more dangerous creature he’d released when his hands touched the blade. He had gone, perhaps removing a monster, but leaving one as well.

Now empty the entire space above, the once surface of the water, was overcome. The dream had crumbled and now collapsed. Darkness slammed down, pressed upon them, around them, and down, down, down, until even the depths of the water were overcome with a more absolute black. Gravity inverted, up became down and with only one way to go, Genny dove for the surface.


In the wild flailing a hem is caught. Two hands grasp at Gloria’s arm. The hands are small and the strength is weak, but the grip is firm. Fingers wrapping tight above the elbow and pulling. Up? Up. Up, to sweet, night air and a calmer surface, moonlit and clear. And not too distant from a shore that is much like the landing of the forest library. Here the trees beyond are shadow and nothing, no imaginary stars and floating lanterns of warm light. It was simply darkness, an abstract void that could be, that would be, remade from Gloria. Behind them, further from where they were now, lay Genny’s shore, distant lights twinkling as if only just across the bay.

“Put your feet down,” came the demanding voice of the almost teenaged child, whose hands were attempting to pull Gloria. The girl’s hem was tangled in Gloira’s grasp while the, only slightly more than waist deep, water was lapping gently, swaying the red hair it caught.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Fri Oct 05, 2018 5:50 am

Put your feet down, it said.

So unique and new was the voice, so familiar and yet so alien, that she could not help but be both drawn to it and and driven further by it. The water of the world faded away, and with a gripping pressure vicing her elbow, her nose and mouth broke the surface to find the sweet honeysuckle air and the aromatic moisture of autumn leaves begging her to live, live, and breathe, breathe—

And she said, not with her mouth and her voice, but with the contours of her naked mind-fabric alone: Genny? Please tell me that's you. This World Made from Her, this place woven out of the unspooled tangles of self, pulsed like the interior of a heart; its membranes were the thoughts of trees, and its breadth the blackness of a void spattered with the paint of the thoughts that had been shredded out of her.

The thorns would leave their canyons. But here, they'd turned her inside-out.

This World Made from Her coalesced almost instantaneously: she tasted rust in her mouth and witnessed as a fluid metal, like molten steel, poured out from the darkness and shaped a perfect ingress of iron around them, like a prisoner's cell layered in a thousand age-old cages of attic. And carved with a thumbnail or knife-point onto every bar, every cross-arm of metal, there were all those words that had been torn out of her.

The water faded from underneath them, and in sopping skirts, Gloria's legs could withstand the weight of her own body anymore: she fell to her knees, to her hands, and discovered only then that her clothes sagged off her like the dressings of an old window. Her skin slumped, her fat had vanished, and all that was left of her was but canvas and bones.

She plucked a blue thorn from the back of her hand, but the damage was done.

Built out of her, this pocket of existence had taken from her, left her frail, tiny, and jittering like a sick bird.

Her sallow face turned up, then, to the Other Genny. In diluted admiration. In complete mortification, that in the glow of red, red hair, she should be so fragile.

Why a cage, Glour'eya? came a soft question, but that the wounds had been cleaved and this World Made from Her constructed around them, they blared from the walls like a guardpost's horn. Why this form?

To hide the things I fear that others will see, to shut myself from view.

Did you learn this on your own?

She taught me, even if
doesn't realize.
If she's the labyrinth
then I'll be the prison.

The hand and the pinkish stump shot up to clasp over her own ears, crushing her hair against them. The murmur of public thoughts faded to silence. So when she spoke, the words came from her heaving lungs and up through her dry mouth.

"You're afraid you'll hurt me," Gloria said. "You're terrified you'll pull the world down around you, with one misguided thought. That's the — the glass on your back." A Jernoan turn of phrase. A breath of hot, desert air sizzled in the rusted cage, then blew back into coolness. "You've been afraid of it for — for ages, haven't you? I can see it; I can see it, burning like the Glass Sun, even if I'm blind to everything else. Because that's how we think, fractured girls like us. What will we hurt next," she said. "What will we tear apart?"

The nostrils flared. They did not have long left here. Her eyes flickered gray and blank, and a Black Oil burned on her tongue.

"Teach me," she said, "to help you bear this. You cannot ruin me, or tear me out of existence, I promise you."

Gloria Wynsee knew nothing of Genny Tolleson's true capacity for power, but to a stubborn soul, to one that thirsted to see and be seen (I am here, I am here!), no feat seemed incomprehensible.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Tolleson » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:55 pm

Genny? Please tell me that’s you.
“Who else would it be,” the instant reply carried a harsh tone, as if the child thought the question silly or it’s answer obvious. The young girl’s mouth moved, her words were seemingly audible, and her exasperated expression was without falter. To her, even in a dream, the silent voice of Gloria’s mind was as clear and natural as if they were speaking aloud, face to face, in the waking world. Their communication here could be pure, without obstacles; though the environment that grew so suddenly around them challenged whether or not it would be.

Distracted by the rising cage, the child released Gloria’s arm in favor of examining the runes carved into the bars. She waded through the water until she trod on little more than wet sand, tracing the surface and reading the engraved pain with her fingertips. When the water was gone completely Genny turned her face to the fallen, sunken, hollow woman, her fingers still delicately brushing the whispering metal. The blue thorn was plucked and suddenly on the back of Genny’s hand, the one that lingered over the metal-made-of-Gloria, a bubble of blood formed and rolled, and dripped into the sand. It was a mirror of the emaciated woman’s wound.

Did it splatter or stain? Perhaps it fell and was devoured by parched earth. After all, dreams were upside down taverns and strawberries and nonsense and instinct. And when Gloria’s mind spoke the thoughts were thunder and the child embodiment of Genny replied in kind, without hesitation.

Why a cage Glor’eya? Why this form?
To hide the things I fear that others will see, to shut myself from view.

From view of whom?

Did you learn this on your own? She taught me, even if she doesn't realize. If she's the labyrinth then I'll be the prison.
A maze for monsters and other minds.
Not oneself.
There is a difference between building a labyrinth
and being lost in it.

Yet you take your own freedom.
Do you wish to be a prisoner?

Half facing Gloria she watched her react to the cacophony of unspoken words. Her brows furrowed, having taken Gloria’s lead in replying she was frustrated and perhaps a bit confused that it affected her so. Eyes of a familiar green jumped from Gloria’s face, down her form, and back in examination. Her fingers stopped their caress and wrapped around the thick metal bar, forged in some furnace of self loathing, tempered with trepidation and turmoil. She held onto it loosely, at first, her grip growing tighter as if to test the solidity.

Gloria coughed up words of accusation, wheezing breaths that tried to tell this iteration of Genny who she was.

What will we tear apart?

Her grip tightened around the bar like a vice, the metal groaned and the blood gushed from her wound. She turned away from Gloria, to face the bars, as if disgusted by the notion of being afraid. Or perhaps as a means to prove her wrong. Placing both hands on the bars, her knuckles turned white and a pool of red grew beneath her as she pulled. She pulled until her arms were taut and her veins bulging. She pulled until she was taller and older, until her hair was short and her muscles bigger, until she was some amalgamation of a remembered Genny and her brother. An impossible person, a fever dream vision half invented by Gloria herself years ago in the bowels of a disintegrating Library.

Teach me, to help you bear this

“You already help me,” her voice was more her own, but came out strained from the effort.

The metal groaned again with stubborn determination against her will. Her face grew red from strain as she drew closer to the prison that fought her, her arms formed right angles and her biceps swelled. The tension broke suddenly with a loud clatter like impacted glass; the last tug tore two sizable sections free leaving a gap large enough for escape.

“Bear yourself,” she huffed, like a fighter she was bent and panting, hands bloodied and clutching pieces of the prison, some small measure of self-loathing she’d lacerated. “I do not seek to ruin anything, but there is not much I cannot tear,” implying Gloria's existence was well within her capacity as well.

Stepping over and free of the cage into whatever baked desert or darkness lay beyond she turned back. One of the brittle, broken bar segments was passed like a baton from one hand to the other, bloody, hand so she held two and offered her free hand, outstretched and palm up, in open invitation.

“Do you want that? Or freedom?”

Even as she spoke the words her form began to falter, shimmer and fade, as if she was turning to sand. As the logic of dreams go, it could have been because of anything, whether she was free of the cage or one of the dreamers began to wake.
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Re: To G. Tolleson; a Missive from Afar

Postby Rance » Thu Nov 15, 2018 5:03 am

And this is where it began to fail—

Here, when a mind began to lose grasp on itself and unravel like a spool of ribbon. Where thoughts came pouring out, castles and prisons of them, bars and dreamlike steel — and a child-Genny, like some clever incarnation of life-but-not, disconnected from her, sought out the words carved in the bars. Without that anchor, the invisible hook tugging at the inside of Gloria's belly dragged her back, back, until she thought she was




Genny tore at the bars with an ogre's strength until the steel buckled and bent. This fading world was but a tumbling typhoon of color and noise and sound, words disconnected from emotion. A blue thorn plucked. A bubble of blood. One in the same. "You can't," Gloria said, then shouted: "You can't, you can't!" as Genny's arms strained and the cage, with a howling cry of metal and a plume of vaporous rust, came free in her hands. There was blood, there was blood—

A crack reverberated through the crust of the world. The prison crumbled to pieces.

Do you want that?

To be torn. To be broken. To lose herself.

Or freedom?

A bloody palm outstretched. Flicker, flicker, fade. Around her finger, she saw it: a strand of fiery hair, singular and alone, easy to forget, impossible to ignore...

With the bones of the cage broken apart, so too did she begin to vanish: first an arm fell to ash, and then her brittle teeth became powder that clumped like wet soil on her lips. The cheeks sank, the dress deflated, and the ribs and spine turned to vapor. The disintegration, though far from gruesome, took even Gloria by surprise: she surveyed, with disconnected fascination, the fading length of her forearm, then swiped out to try to grasp Genny's hand, and touched it once, twice, before...

"All I want," she said, "is — is—"

* * * *

In a dreamer's library, overseeing an endless labyrinth, twisting and turning, perfectly constructed, a new shelf came to be, made not of wood, but of a cloudy, natural glass stretched between the hearts of two gnarled trees. And thereupon were several volumes, each stinking of sand and sweat, forgotten lore bearing covers as dark as Jernoan flesh and prickling all over with jagged blue thorns, ready to chew and bite into their new curator's daring fingers.

* * * *

Do you want that? Or freedom?

She woke in softness, neither in desperation for breath or in want of rest. She woke staring upon a knot in the wall, curious and analytical, staring into its spiraling black center and wondering what anomaly in the wood turned this pocket of it so dark, so firm and resilient. She woke and found, half-crushed in the sweaty mud of her palm, the remnants of a piece of rotten stump-wood. She woke and withdrew from her bed in the Piggsowen and moved upon quiet feet toward her bureau.

There is a difference in building a labyrinth and being lost in it.

Wrote a letter. Sanded it. Sealed it. Hid it among her scant belongings. And after crushing moldy dreambark beneath her heel — never again — she dressed.

She left no farewell for Raf Ironback, nor dared another meeting with Twice-Marked Kualdin.

Before she closed her door in the Piggsowen for the final time, it caught her eye, tangled in a knotted loop around the knuckle of her thumb, too bright to be her own.

A single thread of fiery hair.
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