PeterC.Hayward (joined about 8 years ago)
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I write these to warm me up each morning.

http://www.peterchayward.com

Stories


Fireman? Firewoman? Fire...person?

Esme sighed as she approached her firetruck. The trouble with magic, she reflected, was that while it got you where you need to be quickly, that sometimes meant that you skipped over important parts of the path.

It had been a simple enough spell of purpose; she paid her fifteen hundred dollars, and in return she got given her perfect career. The career that she would enjoy the most, be most suited for...the career that would make her happy.

Purpose was a popular spell-type, and it had definitely resulted in a happier populace, but no one had...

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He was obviously part of the mob.

If you didn't know the mob like Claudia did, you would have said that was a foolish statement. You would have looked down and not seen a mid-level member of the criminal organisation that secretly ran more than four-fifths of the city.

You would have seen a dog.

But Claudia had been a beat cop for more than a century now, and if you survive that long, it's because you know things. You know how to look past class, how to look past species.

You saw the stance, the attitude, the carefully positioned...

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It was her masterpiece.

Jutting out of the water, everyone around could see what she'd created - what *she* had created.

Some, she knew, would say it was ugly. Some would say it was an eyesore. Some would say it was totally unnecessary, but she wouldn't let any of that bother her.

It was her creation, her mark on the world, and that was all that mattered.

She wouldn't live to see it, but as it happened, she was right. She left her mark, and as she'd ignored, everyone hated it. Everyone, by extension, hated *her*, and rarely did a...

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Officer Malone stopped at the doorway of the house.

"Do you smell that?" she asked.

The rest of the team paused as well. There was no reason for any unusual scent to be present, but they'd learned over time to trust Malone's senses; she'd built up such a reputation for her instincts that some of the newbies were actually afraid to go near her, afraid that she'd be able to unearth some deeply-buried skeleton in their past.

No one did, but just to be safe, gas-masks were applied to everyone but Malone herself, and the team pressed forward.

The first...

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Until now, she'd never thought of herself as pretty.

Truth be told, until a year ago, she'd never thought of herself as all. The concept of self was one that she'd been struggling with for the past twelve months, and she was finally starting to get a grip on it.

The first step had been coming up with a name for herself. Her entire life, she'd been referred to as "that lot", or, at best, "the taller group". She'd been part of a team...a slightly taller team than the other teams, true, but a minor difference in height does not...

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The chill of the water slowly crept up his trunk, until it reached his tusks. He couldn't move...not that he even wanted to, any more.

They had won.

He'd faced adversary ever since he'd announced his intentions. At first from his parents, then from his friends, until he was the laughing-stock of the whole herd.

"How are you going to pole-vault?" they'd sneered. "You don't have any arms!"

"You think they're going to let you in the Olympics!? Ha! You don't even speak the same language as the humans...how are you even going to communicate your intentions?"

His parents had...

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The daring were punished.

It seemed almost contradictory, but that was how They wanted it. Ever since the capital-t-They had taken over it, a systematic reduction of risk-taking had been put into place, until the daring were trained not to dare, the mavericks removed and replaced with the mundane.

My sister Joan had wanted to be a baker. You would think that was sufficiently uninteresting for Them, but you'd be wrong - I have no idea how They found out, but after a few bottles of wine at my house, she told me her dream of opening her own bakery....

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The sepia girl smiled at me as I tucked her photograph back into my wallet.

I'd found it several years ago, inside a book in a box on a table at a garage sale. I hadn't ended up buying anything from the sale, but I'd taken the photo. I suppose you could say it was stealing, but I've never thought about it that way.

She seemed lonely. I was just taking her from a life spent between pages on the Ottoman Empire, with me. I travel a lot, and a part of me wanted her to see the world.

I...

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When I was a child, we used to have pet mice. The first one was called Snips and I don't remember how or why, but we had it for a few weeks and then it died.

According to Grandpop, who is not the most reliable storyteller...no, that's not quite true. He's a reliable storyteller, he's just not the most reliable truthteller. According to Grandpop, Snips didn't die of any ordinary mouse cause of death.

Snips died because he got in with the wrong type of animal.

Again, I'll stress that this is all according to Grandpop, not something I saw...

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Sixteen years, almost to the day. He wasn't sure what was worse: how sad it was, or the fact that he knew how sad it was.

If only he could be one of those losers who didn't /know/ they were losers - a self-deluded idiot. Sure, they get laughed at by the world, but at least they're happy in and of themselves. They don't know that their dream is unreachable, that they're doomed to spending the rest of their life watching something they can't have.

Tom Hamil had been selling flowers for sixteen years at the same shop, in the...

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