“Jayce the furdragon had been rejected by the Academy of the Krav-Magus for the third time. The application consisted of writing yourself into the future alumni list. It was a significant test of one’s storywarping abilities. Once you’d proved you’d graduate, you could go. Jayce knew he could not submit another application without risking the Loser’s Curse, which would follow him for life. He’d seen it trailing shamefully in the dirt-wake his older brother Volm’s tail made: a faint, hovering glow; a silhouette in outline of some unmistakably pathetic eldritch avatar of failure.”
Jayce stopped. She read it again. Am I starting too far into things? Should I go back and lay more ground? Am I sure about being a he, here?
Again. What would the silhouette of the Loser’s Curse be a silhouette of? She hit Ctrl-A, Ctrl-X, pretending to delete the whole thing while giving herself an out, in case.
“I’ll never be a novelist,” she huffed. Nobody wants to read about stupid furdragons, living in their own complex, highly-evolved society next to the humans who can totally see them but find them entirely unremarkable and ridiculous, apart from the occasional moral panic. Her eyes lit up. Pasting the clipboard’s content back where it was (just in case), she opened a new tab and began typing swiftly:
“Jayce half shrieked, half roared. He was stretched to his limbs’ limits on a space-age polymer-alloy apparatus. The Christians had finally snapped, and were putting furdragons everywhere on trial by punishment. Jayce has already seen his brother Volm broken and discarded, carted away. Now it was his turn. Could he endure the unendurable? Who would care? How could a ‘loving God’ let such things happen in this world?”
Jayce grinned, on a roll at last. How could a loving God? She loved God, and was sure God would get her through this latest thing with Stissy and Kyla and the test, but she was at least eighty percent certain that in a world with real furdragons, just trying to live their lives unpunished, Christians wouldn’t put up with it. Especially if they could learn magic and cast spells! Jayce frowned.
She looked at what she’d just typed.
“Crap, I killed Jayce.” She hadn’t really been paying attention. It had been brutally, perversely (pervertedly?) beautiful, and was surely the best thing she’d ever written. “This will never get published,” she hissed!
The thought came again. “I killed Jayce.” How could she bring him back, undo the best thing she’d ever written?
She’d killed Jayce.
There was no way to notice what was happening. Her skin had grown all softer soft; she ran a hand down her arm and touched plush. Something felt out through the back of the chair, something she could feel to its forked tip, stiff with sensitive bristles. Her face grew more beautiful, she was so sure, eyes uncanny in size, slightly alien in shape. Her irises gone a dully-gleaming gold. He was dusk lavender all over. She hadn’t pictured what that meant. He was stretched to his limbs’ limits on some unforgiving thing, the central attraction in a huge, spherical soundstage too bright and hateful to look at.
“Open your eyes.” said a harsh voice.
He opened his eyes.
He thought it would be her dad or something! He thought it would be a dream. She definitely hadn’t gone to sleep!
It was no dream. Stissy the Undercutioner of the Christians stood over him and smiled, blandly handsome and utterly inoffensive as she’d pictured and planned to describe him. The effect of all he knew was terrifying. “You stand accused, dear ‘Jayce,’ of trafficking and meddling with foul powers. You are charged with storywarping, which as you very well know is a capital crime.”
Jayce winced in lengthening pain, suddenly aware, as if sensation had come back from wandering to find its sweet house being torn apart and down. No way. No way. I will not give in to this.
“Do you have any last words? A confession, perhaps?” The Undercutioner’s tone was plummy, as if enjoying a good gossip with an inferior pal.
“I will not give in to you!” Jayce half-roared, half-shrieked. “Whatever you want, you’ll get none of it from me! What kind of ‘loving God’-”
The long iron bar pulled back with a hiss and a hard, final clank. The result was not beautiful, but fascinating, Stissy thought. As many times as he’d seen it, he couldn’t quite put his finger on the appeal. So many tuning in, as well. Well, he might as well say something for the viewing audience.
“That’s enough of that, I think.” Stissy the Undercutioner whirled on one boot, clicked his heels, and bowed.