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My workload roughly doubled in the past week, from its already-high state to something approaching insane. Deadlines moved, cancelled activities resurfaced, new projects fell from the sky. It’s all good, but blogging will be rare to nonexistent until mid-April, as will fiction writing, and pretty much anything that isn’t work.

Except Sunday evenings – that’s writers group time, and I intend to keep that up. After a day spent editing grant proposals and book chapters, I didn’t have much brainpower left for anything major, so I solicited ideas on twitter. The usual suspects contributed, and here’s the result.

The stone pillar loomed over the town square. Today only a trio of pigeons occupied its flat top, their inevitable leavings sinking down through cracks in the stone. The pigeons had no use for the stairs spiraling up its sides, carved from the same block of granite as the pillar they encircled, their centers eroded by centuries of footsteps. Grooves around the edges of the steps, worn and faded, showed which parts the apprentice wielded the laser cutter on. The overslip lessened as the stairs ascended, until at the top the work of master and student stonecutter were indistinguishable.

Clouds scudded across the azure sky, trailing blotches of shadow across the square. Nothing moved except the sliding light and darkness. Even the feral cat that haunted the square dozed on a window ledge, having given up on pigeons for the time being.
The windows surrounding the square opened into house and guildhall and kirk, but all were blank. No faces looked out, no blurred motion appeared through the glass. One of the windows at the corner of the square had shattered, shards littering the ground beneath it, the jagged bits covered in dust and pollen.

Whatever force had broken the window came from the inside.

Once the square had been full of noise and movement and music far into the night. The three men and one woman who stood on the plinth watched over the barely-controlled chaos. Traveling vacuum cleaner salesmen–their products guaranteed to suck–vied with peddlers of cut-rate powders and potions for everything from healing broken bones to loosening stiff muscles, and the bars fronting the square did brisk business in gin martinis, or whatever drinks were currently fashionable. Glowing chartreuse cocktails had been a brilliant if short-lived sensation.

The entertainers had been the main attraction: jugglers of iridescent fire, dancers in antigrav bubbles, courtesans of all genders garbed in modes from eighteenth century high court to the finest nanofabrics. After sunset the square glowed with gemlike light limning the forms of the participants, trailing from the walls, puddling on the ground, flowing in luminescent rivulets and runnels around the plinth, but never touching its black silhouette.
As the sun moved toward the west, the shadow of the plinth extended across the square, touching the base and then the top of the building on the far side before merging with the shadows of dusk. No light glimmered anywhere. The cat had vanished with the sun. The pigeons had flown to their roost long before sunset.

Even the people had fled from the shadow of the plinth, but not before blood soaked into the stone where the light had refused to flow.


@fadeaccompli plinths

@ChiaLynn Pieces of glass

@qitou vacuum cleaners, gin martinis, muscle relaxants.

@marjorie73 18th century harlot

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