|Daggers in Men's Smiles Redux
Author: Syndic-Machiavelli PM
Version II: More prose and fewer typos! For the 1sentence LJ community: fifty themed sentences based on one pairing to create a coherent story. Why did Thursday refuse a life of literary crime - and what made her consider it?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Words: 2,504 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 4 - Published: 05-08-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4243700
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Editing: Although this was originally a 1sentence challenge, which by its nature precluded entries from being more than a sentence long, I have tweaked the entries to improve flow and comprehension. The format has changed: I have deleted the propmts for each sentence, instead placing each entry in a new paragraph except for those contemporaneous to each other. Consequently the chronological order in which the sentences are now has been altered from the original chapter.
Allusions, references and related obscurity: The excerpt which Thursday recites in #22 - Journey is from Book II of Paradise Lost: anything which looks like a typo is simply 15th century English madness.
#33 - World begins with Hamlet's famous line from II.ii.:
Hamlet: Denmark's a prison.
Rosencrantz: Then is the world one.
Hamlet: A goodly one, in which tere are many wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o'the worst.
The number of generations in #41 - Talk are based on Julius Caesar, who was reputedly the thirty nine times great-grandson of Venus: roughly 1000 years (from Aeneas in the Trojan war) in 41 generations, so 3 000 years should be 123 generations.
#45 - Eclipse refers to the lunar eclispe earlier this year, which luckily for me reached totality in Australia. Some light from the Sun is refracted by the Earth and scattered by its atmosphere, turning the moon (literally!) blood-red.
Reviews are procrastination from vector space theory! Press the little blue button!
Margaret snorts in quiet contempt at the whispers she and Thursday hear behind them about Acheron Hades PhD and the subtlety of his voice before the lecture hall bounces the two friends' laughter around despite themselves - honestly, can't the gossiping idiots think of a less clichéd metaphor?
The elite ENGL1901 class is replete with scholarships, arrogance and lust for knowledge, so why must their first taste of his infamous genius reveal what they know already: "Postmodernism cannot exist without differing points of view?"
"I'll have her but I will not keep her long!" Professor Hades strides into the faculty counsellor's office, letting his charm sink in and his student slink out.
She isn't quite sure how to reply when he suddenly informs her that he is indeed the hundred and twenty-first-great-grandson of Hades and Persephone and very sick of marking essays about Aeneas, his goody-two-shoes first cousin a hundred and twenty three times removed, but it doesn't matter really, because the words at the beginning of the night have no importance, only what is said at the end.
His office is filled with safety deposit boxes one day, small and grey and impenetrable and above all not to be opened, but she knows that he is not merely avaricious, not quite human, the secrets he has stolen not quite safe.
The colour of crushed spring leaves dances in the glass, so clear and innocent, so unlike the dance on her tongue, all heat and spice and fire and wetness, so like something for which they've never quite had the courage.
"So! The White Devil ladies and gentlemen: character analyses are to be outside my door...pardon me, my cell, at eight am sharp tomorrow; if you have any questions regarding the critical frameworks each of you have chosen for the year's inaugural assessment, I will be in my-"
"Cell as usual?" yells someone from the back, but Acheron holds his hands out for the cuffs with a laugh, striding out brazenly as the lock snaps around his wrists.
"The sandstone wall is solid enough to stop a small missile, the tables are black marble, which is too dense for effective bugging and the stained glass is, well, an anachronism," Acheron explains with a twinkle in his eye. "Oh, and I daresay the food is of a higher standard than Berlin University's annual exchange student welcoming dinner." It matters not. She no longer cares about where she is supposed to be, scholarship and thesis publication no bribe to equal his snares.
The bemusement on her face amuses him to no end as he holds out his coat for her. "I believe you are being covered in copious amounts of cold, white precipitate," he manages blandly, but the laughter bubbles out when she hesitantly reaches for the mound of silk-lined fur. "You didn't think me so clichéd that I would bow and slide it around your shoulders, did you? I will never be that predictable."
It is her daring joke that he must be a better dancer horizontally than vertically and his better riposte that she jokes yet does not dare either of them.
Diana is Hades' accomplice tonight, the one washing the blood from his hands, the other spilling it over the face of her chariot.
"Tiresias, Father, wait!" Despair springs from his lips while the sheets twist around him like the Möbius strip of his nightmares and she wonders fleetingly if he is sick with conscience after all.
Her eyes are mere slits of darkness against her face as her fingers idly stroke his temples, wondering why she didn't just have the courage to say yes - after all he isn't like Darren at all, and she'd be hungover in a bed instead of stuck in a chair - and wondering why her breathing staccatos and clogs in her throat when his is calm and even once again.
He should never be able to make her writhe like his, insinuating himself beneath her defenses with a mere touch of fingertips and lips and teeth, but he can, and she doesn't know whether it is he that frightens her or her willingness when he draws blood and profanity spills from her mouth, but he only laughs darkly. "That is the general idea," he murmurs.
She is Psyche to his Cupid, daring to cast light upon the body of a goddess' son.
The refusal slides from her tongue when she leaves, half a second's worth of dual betrayal, but the temptation never wanes, even when his power over her does. "A worthy answer," her lecturer replies, for once applying a severity she has only seen in his plotting, "One which makes you almost as calculating as I am."
She buries her brother's rank bars, encasing the cold service-issue metal in warm earth, the only part of Anton which will rest in his grave, wondering why all the evils in her life ensnare her with the joy of adventure.
There are twelve lines of "Braeburn, M." in the telephone directory and she doesn't have the courage to ring a single one.
Thursday cannot quite understand Margaret's happiness over the phone, when her parents are angry and bitter and grounding a woman of twenty-five, for God's sake, and confesses so in her letter, which has already returned from several addresses with "no such resident" printed on it in various different languages. She suspects it has something to do with her best friend's child, whom Margaret hopes will get a Nobel Prize and its grandparents an early miscarriage.
The place in his file reserved for a mugshot is empty, just like his birth certificate, when Tamworth managed to find it, or so canteen rumours say, but Thursday knows they would never believe the real one.
"Below the eight, above the law," she recalls Tamworth saying. The solid SO-5 badge slides into her hip pocket, shield enough for her mistakes but not her ambition.
When she espies him again, why must his crimes show the inhumanity he possesses less than his sixteen years more of non-age?
"I was never your protegée," his adversary snaps, and he waits for her to snarl that she was never nearly his lover either.
"My dear Thursday, there was a time when you used to enjoy it when I sang your praises," his light tone carries to his star pupil with a swirling undercurrent of sardonic amusement, utterly unfazed that she is the one holding the loaded pistol. "Or would you still prefer them whispered into your ear?"
Acheron admires the Aston Martin (more accurately, its security system) - probably the toy of some spoiled, twenty-something prat who shares his hobby of amassing speeding fines - but really, it's too easy to evade SO-14 when the aforementioned prat shoulders him out of the way to open the door: there's a smile on the villain's face and a gleam in his eye faster than his new car shoots down the M4.
The tape deck, the NHS fluorescent lighting and the numbered, formless pawns of the SpecOps system are a simple formality behind which to hide her guilt and her lies.
"Schitt and Felix and probably even the idiot in charge of Swindon SpecOps will only ever see the Prose Portal as an extortionist's dream, for that is what Schitt plans to do with the plasma rifle anyway," thinks Acheron, "but the worthless peons have no idea of its true worth. Ironic that all those students for whom he was forced to wade through Barthes and Derrida would know it at a glance: the characters are real, tangible, singular and ultimately postmodernism can go fuck itself."
"You know the old adage about porcupines mating very carefully?" Cocytus enquires, wearing his white tie and tails and a smirk for his elder sibling's ball and ego respectively, "Because you should take heed of it, at least with this SO-5 Next woman. I'm sure you knew her once before, didn't you?"
"Look, how this ring encompasseth your finger,
Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart;
Wear both of them for both of them are thine,"
proclaims Richard to the jubilant Swindon audience, causing Thursday to wonder if she could wear her heart in Landen's ring; she used to keep it on her sleeve, but that was far too dangerous.
Acheron laughs at Jane's proclamation of her faith in her Edward. "It is fortunate that I intend you no harm, Miss Eyre, for love is the last thing which is sacred."
When she calls his name at Thornfield House, he strolls casually into the night, whereas - perhaps because of which - she is unable to pursue.
"Look how your eyes are dark-rimmed and languorous," comments Rochester, barely audible from this distance and Hades wonders how often his protegée-turned-adversary dreams of him.
"You'll negotiate, Miss Next," he remarks, "You may be disgustingly righteous but even you will balk at spending the rest of your life in here," just to spite me, Acheron thinks, but cannot say, for won't she spite him forever anyway?
Acheron rejoices in the tempest of flames on Thornfield's roof, not least because they remind him of Phlegethon's all-consuming nature.
"I will be the death of you," he whispers. Even while she chambers the bullet, she remembers that night and wonders if this will truly work...if she will break his only promise to her.
The silver plucks at his chest and she cannot understand why blood runs from his heart instead of golden ichor.
She returns with Rochester when the light does, finding only ashes.
She is Miss Thursday Next, SO-5 and -27, the saviour of Jane Eyre and golden girl of Special Operations PR: a glorified plod.
Electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force were no hindrance to his molecular rearrangements, she knows, so why should either of the other two fundamental forces be an obstruction to his vengenance? Like sheep, onlookers stare at the scattered parts of the Hispano-Suiza, liberated from their chassis by the conversion of 40 000 feet of gravitational potential energy into kinetic. Killed in car accident she imagines on her post-mortem. Mundane enough to suit his sense of humour.
Aornis tinkers with Thursday's mind where her dead brother tinkered with feelings.
The world of the Outland is "a goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o'the worst," but surely not so much a prison as the confines of her mind.
Midnight is the only time when he returns to her mortal coil, for which she is grateful, but is it because he comes not more than once, or that he comes at all?
Thursday5 chokes and coughs, spitting the ice back into her glass, eventually managing to sputter, "You drink this...on a regular basis...for fun?" causing her namesake to smile wistfully and swirl her own ice within the green liquid.
She is a fool to waste her talent on her not-quite-Doppelgängern, when half a page to Jobsworth could have him by her side again.
"Un bel di verdremo," is all she can ever remember from Madama Butterfly, she confides to Landen, suddenly remebering that Filbert took her to see it before he was "unavoidably detained," telling him that it's the only opera which reduces ger to tears, so she's glad when he grins and says he'll never buy her a ticket as a wedding anniversary gift, but she isn't because now she'll never disconnect Puccini with her father, who probably broke Chronoguard protocol by taking her, beginning her joy for opera and his Eradication, perhaps starting something far more wretched, the cause that opened her tears to him...
Not to kill,
But to have the prize of the night!
13th disciple who betrayed me - for nothing!"
Friday bellows out at his first-ever major concert, inexplicably earning his mother's pride even though she can barely understand the words over the guitars. She would rather read his lyrics in silence, able to ignore the mood imparted by the violent, sorrowful melody as he continues;
"Last dance, first kiss,
Your touch, my bliss,
Beauty always comes with dark thoughts!"
Landen runs his fingers gently along the frontispiece, etching a pattern in the silvery dust that lingers even here on the smooth, heavy cream parchment not yet bled to colour by the sun. Curiosity be damned, he'll fight the anticipation oozing from every glance at the elegant type on the next page. He will not draw his gaze beyond the spidery ebony-faded ink proclaiming "Thursday, my dearest pupil!" to the handwriting below.
Granny Next listens to Milton and remembers why she could never stand it:
"Another part in Squadrons and gross Bands
On bold adventure to discover wide
That dismal World; if any Clime perhaps
Might yield them easier habitation, bend
Four ways thir flying March, along the Banks
Of four infernal Rivers, that disgorge
Into the burning Lake thir baleful streams;
Abhorred Styx the flood of deadly hate
Sad Acheron of Sorrow, black and deep;
Cocytus, nam'd of lamentation loud
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage,"
Her reciting younger self knows too much of them, despite visiting only their namesakes.