“Hi I’m Twilight Sparkle! What’s your name?”
“I am The Death Dealer. My steed was killed in battle. I wish to ride you.”
“Yes. It will be glorious.”
“How about we go make friends instead? Would you like some friends? Here [Bamf!]! I just made your axe thingy magical. Now when you hit people with it you’ll make them happy. Some might even sing! It’s always better to make people happy than to hurt them. Right?”
“I.. yes? Wait what are… you’re doing something to.. my head.”
“I’m Twilight Sparkle. What’s your name?”
“I’m the Death Dealer.”
“No. I SAID, what’s your NAME?”
“I’m.. The Friend Maker.”
“Yay! Let’s ride!”
After the storms, and the pesky birds, and that very peculiar shark, Pooh was tuckered out. Tigger cavorted as ever, nevermind their predicament. Pooh wondered about Christopher Robin, whom he had not seen since the frightful waves took him away. But he did not worry, for deep down Pooh had a pretty fair inkling that he was Christopher Robin’s dream. So how could Pooh think the thought, Pooh thought to himself, if Christopher Robin wasn’t out there, safe and still able to dream his thoughts for him?
So Pooh lived his life as best he could, protected his hunny from those pesky birds, and secretly wished that peculiar shark would come back around. Because Tigger was very, very annoying.
The problem with most wishing machines was, of course, that they worked. When nine year old Drake Marshall brought his Wishing Machine in for show and tell, Miss Marsh thought it was a nicely done magic trick when a large toad appeared from just an empty cardboard box. Sally Spencer tried it and wished that mean Timmy Hawkins would turn into a fish, and everyone laughed, but Miss Marsh could have sworn she heard screams coming from a classroom down the hall. But the recess bell rang and the sound was drowned out. The Wishing Machine was transported to the worst possible place for a Wishing Machine: the playground.
Sometimes I’m walking home late at night, stumbling perhaps, and lost in my personal sea of angst. Stuff isn’t going right, things I’ve failed at, or frustrations I haven’t gotten past. The bills are piling up, I didn’t get the job, the girl I like likes someone else, why can’t I solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, my knees hurt, the quality of my artwork is getting worse not better, I’m overweight, my car payment is too high, etc etc and all the other things.
But then I walk past someone sleeping on a bench, and it all fades away as I circle back to the important part at the start.
I get to go home.
When I was first learning to draw portraits, I would always start with the eyes, often to the detriment of the piece. I ignored composition, proportion, scale, everything, and just drew the eyes. Then I would sort of grow the rest of the face out from that point. Sometimes I would just get lucky and be relatively successful, but more often than not something would just be.. off.
I’m much better now at working the whole piece holistically, building the shapes and proportions together before adding any detail. But when I do start on the detail, the eyes usually come first still. There’s just something about the eye, when it’s down on paper suddenly there’s a real person waiting to be drawn, instead of just lines on a page. And they always convey the same message to me.
“Don’t screw me up.”
When asked about the videogame based on the dangerous and popular 1930s aerial sport, Hubert “Boss Hugh” Odworthy, the last known Sky Jouster still alive, got a little cranky.
“The game is rubbish,” Boss Hugh barked. “It wasn’t nothing like that. First off they didn’t use no wings to fly. Have you seen an ostrich son? Them tiny li’l flappers wouldn’t get them up off a nap, nevermind the ground.” Boss Hugh angrily flicked his cigar nub out the open window, checked if the nurse was around, and lit another. He continued, smiling. “When you were goin’ tap tappity tap on them buttons kid? you weren’t flapping her wings, you were pulling her finger!” With that Boss Hugh rolled back with a cackling laugh, that soon turned to wet rumbly cough.
His spine tingled, a mix of excitement and fear he rarely felt anymore. He had heard the rumors, but never believed them. An urban legend, mass hysteria, a story to scare children. But there he was, standing right in front of him. He shouldn’t get this close, but he wanted to really see, really know. Frozen in this moment, afraid to move, afraid to breathe, only one thing went through his mind.
“Oh shit, Batman is real.”
“Please? Please draw us! Please you’re so awesome it would be so great!”
“Well thanks for that, I’m flattered. Unfortunately I don’t have much time to do commission work-”
“Oh not commission, do it just for fun! Come on wouldn’t we make a good subject? Look how cute we are!”
“Sure, and yes very cute, but I really only have time for my own personal work. My subjects and styles change all the time, it probably wouldn’t be what you were looking for.”
“Oh pleeeeeease?! We don’t care, make us look like anything you want! Can you make her look like Ke$ha? Ha no just kidding! Please draw us! Do whatever you want, we’ll love it! Please please please please!!!???”
She wasn’t very good at her job. Couldn’t type, couldn’t file, and her coffee was shit. Booth treated her worse, berated her constantly, the dresses two sizes too small, the cloud of cheap perfume hanging over her, and those ridiculous sunglasses she insisted on wearing.
Now she was dead, and the only person who cared was just about the worst detective in the city. She was a terrible secretary, but she was Booth’s terrible secretary. The least he could do was be a terrible detective for her.
The nurse bandaged the boy’s arm, covering most of the large bruises. This was his third visit in a week, and while she didn’t bother to ask anymore he volunteered that he fell from a tree. The nurse looked him in the eye, but saw no trace of hesitation. He’s had a lot of practice.
But beyond the first aid, there was nothing else she could do. When she accused his guardian, the richest man in the city, of abuse, the school put her on paid leave. She returned to find an entirely new wing under construction, a “generous” donation by the child’s guardian. She could quit, she should have quit, but told herself the boy needed what help she could give.
So she treated the symptoms each day, and feared for the violence the boy faced each night.
Mom: Back so soon? I thought you were going to get ice cream after the movie?
Hannah: MOMMY THEY’RE DEAD! THEY’RE ALL DEAD!
Mom: What? What happened?!
Dad: It’s ok, she’s ok, no one is dead. The uh, the movie was just a little more.. intense than we thought it-
Hannah: WHY DID THEY HAVE TO DIE MOMMY? I DON’T WANT THEM TO DIE!!!
Mom: I don’t understand, I thought it was an animated kids’ movie!
Dad: Yeah I uh, sort of skipped the reviews. Turns out it was less Toy Story, and more like Animal Farm meets Schindler’s List.
Mom: Oh no.
The tag was holding well. Liz reminded herself to thank Hank for the idea of a shark tag to track them. It was a little dicey spearing them, but she had really good data on their feeding and migration patterns now, totally worth the change of underwear.
Ms. Lonely Heart was heading back to the high school. Over the last month, since the tag was active, Lonely Heart followed the same loop through town, ending at the school every seven days. Exactly seven days.
Of course it was dangerous, following her, but Liz hadn’t seen a herd in ages. They moved on weeks ago to where the food was. But Lonely Heart stayed. why did she stay? She was thin, almost emaciated. Fresh blood on her, probably a small animal. No real predation left for her here anymore. Just the school. Liz followed her inside, hearing the whole team screaming in her head to not be so fucking stupid. But she was on to something.
Elsa: “No we can’t open the box, not ever. Uncle Erwin forbids it.”
Inga: “How long has his cat been in there?”
Elsa: “A long time. Since I was very young. But Uncle Erwin says if we open it, or even peek inside, then we might kill it.”
Inga: “But surely the cat is long dead by now.”
Elsa: “It is strange, but I don’t think so. There is no smell, you see. A rat died in a trap behind the wall once, and it took weeks to figure out where that horrible odor came from. But the box has never smelled, not even a little, not once. Uncle Erwin says the cat is both alive and dead, as if it is trapped in both states at once.”
Inga: “What would happen if we looked inside?”
Elsa: “Different things maybe, it’s kind of confusing. One time Uncle Erwin said just peeking inside will either save the cat or kill it. But then another time he said the moment we peek we would make two different universes, one where the cat lives and one where it dies.“
Inga: “Remarkable! To think all of that could happen from just putting a cat in a box. So what is in that larger box, by the window?”
Elsa: “That’s Aunt Annemarie. We can’t open that one either. I will admit, that one smelled quite a lot.”