“You’re familiar with the arrangement, I assume?” The voice was all-encompassing, enveloping every sense; she could some how feel it reverberate in her teeth, could feel it rattling her eyes, yet she felt no pain. It simply was. Everywhere.
“Obviously,” she said, keeping her voice low. A young couple passed, leaning into each other, hands deep in their pockets against the cold. She kept herself tight against the cold brick of the building, still unsure if people could see her or not. Somewho, she sensed Death smiling, not unkindly, but not without a sense of wry irony, either.
“It’s like the quintessential ‘strike a deal with Death’ trope,” she continued. “Right? I’m assuming I’m going to be expected to–“
“Reap,” he said. The voice was no less omnipresent, but there was a softness to it, now. “Yes. There may be some fine details I need to fill you in on, but you’ve clearly got the gist. Good. That will save time.”
She followed the young couple down the alley with her eyes, watched as they stopped at the far end for the young man to take out his phone as they huddled together to check something on the screen; a roster of movies playing at the local cinema. She thought about James, then; James, who had driven that road a thousand times, James who always knew his limits, James who had reassured her he was the more sober of the two of them. He probably had been, too; that was the sad thing.
“How will I know when–“
A heavy hand came down on her shoulder. She gasped, instinctively reaching for it, and touched only her own flesh.
“You have eyes, don’t you?”
“Counters,” she sighed, watching the numbers above the young couple ticking down, but still a long ways off, thankfully. “God, how abhorrently cliched.”
Death shrugged. “It’s not on us to be creative. We only need to be efficient.”
“Fifteen years of studying genetics, chemistry, engineering,” Tennyson rattled off, pinching the bridge of his nose, “and this is how you choose to spend your talents.”
Avriel raked his fingers fondly through the setae along the creature’s unnatural large thorax, like an equestrian stroking a favored steed. The creatures wing flitted, stirring the air and whipping the long coats against the young mens’ legs.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said airily. Tennyson glared at him.
“Dragon-powered,” he hissed. “Dragon. Which, granted, I thought was utterly insane, but this, against all odds, is somehow even worse. This is not what they are going to be expecting. Were you intending this as a joke? Because I know my father, and he is not going to think it’s funny.”
“Your father,” Avriel said calmly, bundling together thick cables and anchoring them to a set of carabiners, :is interested in novelty. ‘A whole new way to fly,’ he said. Balloons, dirigibles, gliders; done, dull, dreary. So I made a suggestion.”
“It may have been… impertinent,” he admited. Tennyson huffed an exasperated laugh. Avriel held up an admonishing finger.
“I spoke arrogantly,” he said. “I admit that. Got swept up in the challenge, and really, who could blame me? What would be more novel, more exciting, than dragon-lead flight?”
“It turns out,” Avriel sighed, giving the carabiners a final tug as he attatched them firmly to the gondola and gingerly tugging off his gloves, “dragons are not the easiest creatures to tame.”
The leather gloves came off agonizingly slow, Avriel mouth set in a stoic line as he slowly flexed his hands. The skin red and raw, unnatural shiny. Tennyson lurched forward instinctively, one hand jumping to his mouth.
“For the love of God, Avriel,” Tennyson breathed. His voice was soft. “What were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t,” he admitted. “I just…so wanted to impress your father.”
Tennyson smiled, though there was little humor in it.
“But dragonflies,” Avriel continued, eyes glinting. “I could work with.”
“But this,” Tennyson gestured to the monstrous creature, tethered to the rafters of the workshop. “This is…”
“A whole new way to fly,” Avriel said simply. He smiled, gesturing to the gondola, and the lush cushions lining the spacious basket.
“Care to test it out?”
Day… Nine? Oh my God, Jess, it’s just counting. A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I…. yeah, nine, okay. Ugh.
I am actually very happy with both of these concepts and both vignettes — the sketches themselves (as the Insta caption says) is edging more and more towards the “sketchy” side as the month goes on, and my instinct is both to rebel against it (“Come on, you can draw better than that!”) and to lean into it (“Why waste time with unnecessary details when you are going to do a whole-ass redraw of everything next month?”)
I wrote some notes to myself on the drawings, rather than try to visually convey some details that wouldn’t really be possible to convey in a pencil sketch, i.e., partial transperency, luminescence, etc. — things that will only really come to life once I start digitally painting it, so again, why waste time? Conceptualize it, make note or it, move on.
In other news, I have now generated words up through “S,” so now all I have to do is try to keep up with the sketches.
Hope your challenges are all going well! I went around and visited a couple of other A-to-Zers during downtime at work, and hope to do the same thing thing this week, between consults.
Stay safe and sane, everyone.
Nine days in, and I’ve only now thought of adding the explanation for what, exactly, I’m doing as a footnote instead of shoehorning it into the entry. Sigh.
This month, I’m using a random word generator to generate three words around which I will then crafta sketch and a literary vignette. I will chose my five favorites to fully flesh out (as full digital paintings and short-short stories) in May and beyond.