December 31, 2004

The Court of Miracles

The shock was almost too much, the sense of power, of change nearly overwhelmed him, but she kept him steady as they passed through the doorway. It was an unexplainable feeling he had, a sudden knowledge of the boundary that had been crossed. He felt it as a physical sensation, felt the world shift, felt reality slide and stretch for a moment, as if the fabric of existence was warped where he tried to pass through it. Twice before he had felt this. Once with his first sexual contact, and once when visiting a decommissioned nuclear reactor. There was tremendous power in both experiences, though the taste of each was completely different. The first tasted of possibility, the second tasted of sunderings. This, though, this tasted like everything at once, like freedom and confinement, like discovery and mystery.
He recovered his sense quickly and took in the sights around him. The gentle pressure on his arm kept him from losing himself completely in the sudden newness and he was grateful for her presence.
The room was crowded, but it did not feel stuffy. He felt as if he suddenly knew what was meant by the phrase “a sea of faces.” So many colors and styles, so many sizes and types. Many watched him expectantly, but just as many went about their business, whatever it was, without indicating any interest in his sudden arrival.
An ageless woman, beautiful and regal, detached herself from the crowd before him, flanked on two sides by young girls. Shakily, she stepped away from their arms to look him in the face.
“Welcome,” she said with a clear voice, “to the Court of Miracles.” She burst into tears and one of the young women stepped forward to take her arm again. Turning they vanished into the crowd before he could respond to her greeting, or her sudden shock of grief.
Welcome, said the echo coursing through the throng, to the Court of Miracles.

December 29, 2004


Trouble. In the form, as it usually is, of a girl. Trouble. Five-four, brunette, petite. That’s not trouble for everyone, but it’s trouble for me. Put one of those in front of me, and I lose that edge. I don’t react quite right. It’s not that I shut down, it’s just, well I get in trouble. Now usually I’m a pretty smart guy, usually I can tell when someone’s lying to me, when they’re trying to play me, and when they really need help. Sometimes it’s all of the above, but at least I can tell. And then I can do something about it. With this kind of trouble, though, the five-four kind with brown hair and dark lips, none of my much vaunted skill is worth a damn. It’s quite a weakness actually. It’s one I’m aware of but that only makes it worse. I know how dangerous they can be, I’ve had too much experience not to, but every damn time I stick my hand in the fire anyway. It’s not that I just do everything they tell me to. I may not be immune to those eyes, but they don’t sap my will either. I do what I normally do, only I have to do it without the tools that make me so good at my job. And that’s tough.

You don’t catch that telltale squint in the eyes if you’re trying to memorize their color. You don’t see that subtle twist to the lips if you’re wondering what it would be like to kiss them. And it’s damn hard to work with a client if she all she needs to do is smile, stretch, and sigh deeply to take your mind off everything else at all. Damn hard.

And this one wasn’t even the client, she was the subject.
But that just made it easier to turn the job down.

December 23, 2004

Into the Storm

Thunder shattered the sky and the travelers bent their heads further into their sullen hoods. Lightning shivered through the clouds again and again until it was impossible to tell which dooming toll of thunder came from which vicious bolt of lightning. The hulking clouds squatted low against the ground and began to heave out hail.

The curses of the leading traveler were stolen by the wind but the other travelers could tell from the set of his shoulders that he was almost as angry as the storm. His wife and children and the few others who knew him best suspected that there was more fury held within the oiled cloak than without. They did not fear his anger but nor did they dare to turn their eyes towards the castle at their backs. Instead they turned their eyes forward seeking other shelters.

December 22, 2004

The Lava Fields of Mount Mehoggin

The most beautiful sight in all of Illedor is one you will never see: moonset from the top of Mount Mehoggin. It’s the Lava Fields that do it. From the slopes of Mehoggin they stretch as far as the eye can see. The red magma, the iridescent obsidian, and the alien shapes wrought in the rocks - they are beautiful during the day, but at night they are exquisite. At night all the glowing red cracks become visible, a molten net spread across the land, bisected by the imperious river of stone that runs from the slopes of Mehoggin itself. When the great blue moon settles to the horizon and begins to dance in the heat and the only colors you can see are blue and red and black, it is a sight to make you weep.

It is a sight you will never see. You have to cross the Lava Fields to get to Mount Mehoggin and that cannot be done. You would have to bring in all of your food and all of your water, for there is certainly none to be found in the fields. You would have to carry it all yourself for no beast can be persuaded to cross them with you. Even if you could carry everything you needed, and even if you found a way to protect yourself from ever present and ever intense heat of the fields, and even if you found a way to cross the inevitable cracks and rifts of molten stone that will block your path, and even if you managed to place your feet only on solid and stable ground that does not crumble and drop you into lava, and even if you found a means to safely breathe the poisonous gases that issue from the ground, even then it could not be done. For the Lava Fields are home to the fierog, and no one survives them. Not even me.

December 20, 2004

Stay Out of the Light

Twilight fled the city. The little light that cowered beneath street lamps only made the shadows seem fiercer. In some places in the city, these pools of light might have felt safe and warm. In some places the lamps served to light the way home. In the Gardens, they only pointed out how alone you truly were. There were only three kinds of people who would willingly stand or pass under a street lamp in the Gardens: wolves, foxes, and the little lost sheep they preyed upon. Even the wolves made certain they had bigger wolves waiting in the shadows before they would stand beneath the lamps. Gangers making a show of strength on their turf always kept the greater part of that strength hidden. Whores and pushers gave a portion of their profits to the bodyguards standing outside the light. The lost tourists and the slumming rich kids, on the other hand, sought the lights as places of safety. It was not a mistake they repeated. Those who even had an opportunity to repeat it were luckier than most.

December 16, 2004

Like stars in the sea

The neon pulse glittered, throbbed, and skittered its way through the crowd like stars reflected in a turbulent ocean. Imogen, from her place on the balcony, watched two of the bouncers weave dark vapor trails through the foaming sea, dark voids that were quickly filled again by the electric sparks around them. It was a credit to the quality of the club that most of the flashing jewels were true LumiGems, not the plastic fakery sold to highschoolers, nor even the higher quality knock-offs sold on street corners here in the city. It was a discredit, in Imogen’s opinion, that so many people would choose to wear LumiGems at all. Everyone was trying to catch everyone else’s attention and succeeding only in blinding each other.

The bouncers Imogen could see had caught up to their quarry. With remarkably little turbulence, they hauled him out of the ocean and set him on the cold street outside. If he said anything to them, Imogen could not hear it.

December 14, 2004

Leaves after a Storm

A net of leaves spread itself across the driveway. Wet from last night’s rain, they did not crunch when stepped upon. One stuck to my shoe as I crossed from the steps to the car and I pulled it off before opening the driver’s side door. The door handle was wet, but not very. I had to pull four more leaves off the windshield before I got into the car.

And then I just sat there. I did not even turn to tuck my legs under the steering wheel. I just sat facing sideways in the car with my feet on the driveway and my elbows on my knees. I sat facing towards my house, my lawn, my neighborhood. The sun was not up yet, but false dawn had struck some time before and I could see clearly. I could see my lawn, just ready to be mowed. I could see my neighbor’s lawn and the red plastic kiddie car turned on its side near his azaleas. I could see the Hormans’ Christmas lights blinking three yards down and two months early. Perhaps they were supposed to be Halloween lights, you never could tell with Mrs. Horman. I could see, at the very end of the block, Nell wander out into her driveway to fetch the morning paper.

And I just sat there, watching Nell, watching the Hormans’ blinking lights, watching the bizarre stillness of my neighbor’s lawn. I cannot recall any of the things I thought at the time, only that it was about home and not about work.

I stayed that way until jolted from my thoughts by the horrid screeching clank of my neighbor’s ancient garage door opener. I grimaced, for myself and for my sleeping wife, and then swung my legs into the car and shut the door. Either I had missed a leaf or it had fallen while I was sitting staring at nothing. I left it on the windshield and pulled out of my driveway. If I had stayed any longer I would have had to listen to my neighbor close his garage door, too. The leaf remained stuck to my windshield all the way to the office.

December 12, 2004


The first clockwork soldier the Maker fashioned for his army was not a soldier at all. It was Jeminy. Then the Maker fashioned the Builders, twelve of them and Jeminy watched. After the first Builder was complete, Jeminy began to help the Maker. He held the drawings, carried tools, and even placed some of the smaller gears. The Maker did the rest. When the second Builder was complete, the Maker had Jeminy wake both Builders. After that, Jeminy did not help the Maker, the Builders did. Jeminy did not mind. The Builders could lift things that even the Maker could not lift. Together the Maker and the two Builders fashioned the other ten Builders, two the same size as the first and eight much larger Builders. Jeminy watched them work. When the Builders were complete, Jeminy woke them. That was something only Jeminy could do. Then the Maker had Jeminy put them all back to sleep. That, also, was something only Jeminy could do.

While the Builders slept, the Maker rested. Then he brought Jeminy into the Drawing Room. Jeminy had been in this room many times before, but only to watch. This time, the Maker built a ladder and showed Jeminy how to climb upon the table. The Maker showed Jeminy the wall where the drawings were kept, row upon row of cubbies, each with its own set of drawings inside. The Maker showed Jeminy how the drawings were organized, how to get to each one, and how to put them back in the right places. This was very easy for Jeminy. The rows were just the right height that Jeminy could climb them like he climbed the ladder to the table The Maker taught Jeminy how to read the drawings, and how to remember them. This was harder, but soon Jeminy could reproduce the drawings in the cubbies without looking, with only small mistakes. Then the Maker tried to teach Jeminy how to fix those mistakes, how to see where a drawing was wrong and what would need to be changed to correct it. This Jeminy could not do but the Maker was patient.

December 07, 2004


It took the Gorelli six years to conquer Earth. In that time, Humanity had plenty of opportunities to send her sons and daughters into space. She did so slowly at first and then more rapidly as the tides of war turned against her. The greatest exodus occurred in the fifth year after it became apparent that Earth was going to fall and before the Gorelli tightened their nets. Those who did not escape before the end of that fifth year did not escape at all. By the end of the sixth year, the number of humans remaining alive on Earth was no longer great enough to sustain the species. Man as Earthling became extinct.

The Gorelli could have destroyed Earth then. They were in full control and it was well within their power to obliterate the planet. They did not. They retreated from Earth and waited. They waited and they watched and when humans began to return, they slaughtered.

Even brilliant men have their blindspots and Earth became Humanity’s. Her siren call swept through the void, and men could not resist it. “Home,” she sang, “Come home and free me.” Humans answered and dashed themselves against the Gorelli rocks trying to heed the call. Earth served as the perfect bait to draw the humans out of hiding and this was precisely what the Gorelli had intended.

The few humans wise enough to see what was happening were terrified by this development. They watched the already decimated population of humans dwindle even further, almost powerless to stop it. Few were so wise. Even fewer recognized the terrible solution. Only one was actually willing to take the necessary step, to perform the one act that could save humanity: destroy Earth.

December 06, 2004

My Apologies

Through a series of errors involving a general failure to place myself where my documents are, I'm afraid I let Leaves From the Tree slide to a halt. I assure you, it is merely a temporary position. Things will start up again shortly. We'll be resuming the typical snippets format as soon as I a) get access to the snippets I have on backlog or b) write a new one. The NaNoWriMo stuff is done, although the book I was working on is not. When it is, I will certainly share (it's rather hard to stop me, actually). I will also be taking steps to insure that this little problem does not happen again.