A set of scrap pieces from November
Scrap 1 (Polyphoniverse)
It had his leg.
Artisan tried to pull his leg away from the ill-formed monstrosity behind him, and screamed when the monster dug its steel knife claws into his flesh, pulling him back. It pulled Artisan’s leg to its mouth, and bit down with needles and razors. His leg was going gooey, oozing around the monster’s sharp bits and sloughing off his rubberising bones. He clawed desperately at the alley floor, trying to gain some ground, and with a sickening crack, fell forward.
Artisan awoke with a jerk, panting and sweating. He could still feel the monster digging into his flesh, could feel his femur breaking. Phantom sensations from his missing limb nagged at him, and he knew that he would not be able to go back to sleep. He needed his elixir.
With a grunt, he hefted himself onto his crutch — he hated using the thing, but at a time like this his prosthetic would aggravate his pain ‘til it was too much to bear. He balanced himself carefully on the rudimentary stick, slightly too tall for his comfort, and hopped to the other side of his bedroom where his medicines were kept.
Artisan was a tall man, and a gentleman by any standards. He kept his beard trimmed and his dark, greying hair tidy. He had a long, slender face that went well with his long, slender torso and long, slender limbs, giving him an over all drawn out look.
He was a native to Undone, born and raised, and so his skin was paper white and his eyes were an icy shade of pale blue.
He made his way to the medicine cabinet and paused, catching his breath. Even after that short distance, his muscles ached from the effort of hopping over there. He rested the crutch against the wall and steadied himself against the cabinet, peering at the bottles and vials set up on top of it. Inside the cabinet was more of the glassware, but all of the things he used regularly were kept on top in easy reach. He took a glass from the shelf above the cabinet and poured a variety of liquids into it, ending up with a concoction that was usually the only thing that could put a dent in both the pain and mental unrest that came with the memory nightmare of his first encounter with the never-was.
He sipped at the drink, savouring the warming sensation that came with it. It soothed his mind and he let his shoulders relax. The imaginary muscles in his missing leg followed suit, and the pain began to recede. Twisting on his good leg and using the crutch as a pivot, he fell into a leather chair nearby. In what more or less amounted to comfort for him on a daily basis, with coals warming his belly, his eyes slid shut. He didn’t quite sleep, but he passed an hour in happy meditation, mind clear of thought.
Scrap 2 (Snowtown)
Food was exactly what the Katters needed, so she stopped in at a cafe and ordered a club sandwich. She sat at a table as she waited for her food to arrive, and as her eyes wandered the building, she spotted a familiar looking person at a table on the other side of the room. He was wearing a brown suit, and a powder blue shirt, with no tie. His canvas overcoat was hanging on the back of his chair and his brown fedora with the black band sat on the table across from him. He had sallow skin, red eyes, and a nose that could put an eye out. What really made him immediately recognisable, though, was his short, carrot orange hair and matching, ridiculous, seventies style side burns. He was lost in thought, but the Katters staring at him seemed to snap him out of it, and he grinned when he saw her.
His grin was like an open wound.
‘Oh god,’ the Katters thought to herself, ‘don’t come over here, just don’t’.
The man grabbed his extraneous clothing and stood, slipping over to the Katters’ table in two steps.
“Katters,” he said, his voice smooth and, to the Katters at least, slimy sounding. “Fancy seeing you here. You don’t usually get this far into the city, do you?”
“Harry,” the Katters said. She didn’t answer his question, but let her distaste at it show. Harry fancied the Katters a suburb creature, which was a fair enough assumption given that she lived in the suburbs. That was just for convenience, though, it had nothing to do with her preferences.
“How’s business?” Harry asked. He had sunken cheeks and eyes and looked like he was starving, but that was normal. Because he was starving. Harry didn’t eat enough, ever.
“Fine,” the Katters said and pointedly didn’t ask Harry about his.
“That’s good to hear,” Harry said. “News is a bit slow lately — it’s that time of year. Of course, slow news day in Snowtown is still a fast news day anywhere else, so it’s not all bad. There’s bound to be a murder or robbery around here somewhere. But everyone deserves a break for lunch, am I right?”
The Katters grunted noncommittally.
“Of course I am. And that’s good for you, what with running a restaurant and all. But that barber’s upstairs, how’s that going? I don’t see a whole lot of people going there.”
“It’s fine,” the Katters said.
“Seems they stay in there for an awfully long time, too,” Harry said. “In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a customer that’s gone into the barber’s leave.”
“What are you trying to say, Harry?”
“Nothing!” Harry held his hands up, palms facing the Katters, and shook his head. “I’m just saying, maybe if you sped the whole hair cutting thing up, you might get more customers up there. Nothing, say, sinister or anything.”
Harry had been trying to dig into the Katters’ and Zebra’s operation for a long time. He had an eye for suspicious behaviour and, unfortunately, the Katters and Zebra fit the bill for that perfectly. They had never exactly been subtle.
The Katters narrowed her eyes at Harry, about ready to get into a physical altercation with him. But that was about when the food arrived. A man set the Katters’ sandwich in front of her and put a plate of some kind of stir fry in front of Harry.
“Thanks,” the Katters mumbled. Harry just dug right in.
The Katters stared at Harry for a moment, face contorted into an expression exactly half way between a snarl and a frown and likely accurately described as a look of disgust. “Harry,” she said finally.
“Mm?” Harry said, mouth full of food.
“You’re not going to con me into paying for that, are you?”
Harry glanced down at his food and then back up at the Katters, poorly concealing his look of guilt with a look of surprise. He swallowed, pain passing over his expression briefly as unchewed food made its way down his throat. “No,” he said. “Of course not.”
“Good,” the Katters said. “I hadn’t planned on letting that happen again.”
“Oh, did I forget to pay last time?”
“Yes,” the Katters said, voice dripping with contempt. “Forget. And the time before.”
“I expect you’ll make it up to me somehow,” now her voice was dripping with sarcasm.
“Yes, yes,” Harry grinned, eyes lighting up. “I’ll find a way. Don’t worry about it.”
“I won’t hold my breath.”
Harry went back to eating and so silence fell around them. The Katters picked up her sandwich, examining it for unwelcome ingredients and finding none. Satisfied, she started eating.
“So,” Harry said as his eating pace slowed. “Why aren’t you working?”
The Katters picked a bit of lettuce from between her teeth. “Pardon?”
“It’s Wednesday,” Harry said. “You work on the weekdays, don’t you?”
The Katters narrowed her eyes, peering at Harry. “I’m on break.”
“Awful long way to come for a break.”
“It’s my store. I can take as long a break as I want.”
“Not very good for business though, is it?”
“Look, Harry,” the Katters said.
“What exactly are you driving at?”
“I’m not sure what you mean.”
The Katters set her sandwich down and rested her elbows on the table. “Why the interrogation?”
“Interrogation? I’m just making conversation, here.”
“Conversation, nothing. I’ve been interrogated before, I know what it feels like.”
“Oh really? When was that?”
“God, Harry, you never stop, do you.”
Harry shrugged. “Old habits, I suppose. It is my job.”
Scrap 3 (Snowtown)
Harry came to, despite his best efforts not to. His head throbbed with what felt like a hell of a hangover, and before long the nausea that so often accompanied it arrived.
“Urgh,” he groaned. He wasn’t yet ready to open his eyes but could already tell he wasn’t where he was supposed to be. The furniture he was on didn’t feel at all like his couch — though it did still feel like a couch — and there was far too much sun for it to be streaming in through his living room window. No, this wasn’t his apartment at all.
Harry was honestly pretty used to waking up in strange places, though it hadn’t happened for around a decade now. He must have drunk a lot the night before, and “a lot” for Harry is saying something.
He was too old for this. He didn’t want to deal with it right now, or indeed, ever. He tried his damnedest to go back to sleep, but the headache just kept throbbing along his cerebral cortex. Before long, lights behind his eyes started flashing in time with the throbbing, which exacerbated his queasiness. He made another “urgh” noise and rolled over to his back. His stomach tried to continue turning, and was jarred by the sudden stop.
“Oh, you’re awake, are you.”
Harry winced at the noise. The speaker was speaking at a normal, indoor voice volume, but she may as well have been shouting.
“Stop,” Harry said. He covered his face with his hands, trying to block out the lights.
“Stop it, he says.” Suddenly the room was much brighter and Harry groaned in pain. He assumed the owner of the voice had drawn back the curtains, letting in more light. The voice continued: “Come on, get up. You’re lucky I let you stay here at all, let alone this long.”
“Wh-” Harry started, then swallowed. He tried again, “Where am I?”
“Trilogy,” the voice said. “In a back room. If you don’t get up of your own will I’m going to drag you out the door myself.”
Harry slowly sat up, cradling his head. When he’d accomplished that without incident, he cracked one eye open, then the other. The room was far, far too bright for his liking, and the nature of the sun light suggested that it was also far earlier than he’d prefer.
The room itself was dark. Not in terms of light, but colour — maroon walls that looked like satin; deep purple shag carpet; cheap, blood red furniture. Harry was seated sideways on one piece of said furniture — a love seat that was somehow too soft and too hard at the same time. His legs dangled over the end and his neck felt like it had been bent at an odd angle all night.
“Okay,” Harry said. He tried racking his brains for what ‘Trilogy’ could mean and, when that elicited too much pain, gave up. “Where in Snowtown am I?”
“Oh God, you’re one of those,” the voice said. Harry squinted over at her. She was short and stocky, looking like she made up for her lack of height in muscle. She had a wide, rectangular face, and short hair that hung loose around her shoulders. She was wearing glasses, also rectangular, with thick, purple frames. She had caucasian skin with a light tan, and dark brown hair. She was wearing black slacks and a charcoal grey dress shirt — what Harry assumed passed for her work uniform. It somehow made her look even shorter than she actually was.
“Sorry,” Harry mumbled. “I don’t. What?”
“Look, I really don’t have time to be sympathetic. If you really need to hang out and get your wits back, you can do it in the front with the customers. I need this room.”
“Okay,” Harry said. He climbed slowly to his feet, a feat much like climbing a mountain at the moment.
“If you’re still around I can answer questions during my break. Until then, shoo.”
Harry stumbled out of the room, almost falling into the door jamb not once, but twice. He found himself in possibly the quietest strip club he’d ever been in. It seemed that, until the evening croud, the club served as a regular bar, but the atmosphere remained 24/7. There were strip poles dotting the floor, and a cat walk on one side of the building, jutting out into the room. Opposite the cat walk was the aforementioned bar, at which two other patrons sat, nursing drinks. A tall red head tended the bar, her fair skin dotted with a smattering of freckles. She was wearing a black tank top and a white apron, her lower half hidden behind the bar. She was advertising an air of outgoing friendliness, but due to the depressing nature of her customers, was unable to really use that to its full potential.
She looked up as Harry walked out and suppressed a giggle. “Hi, Harry!” she said. The other two patrons glanced up at him, then back to their drinks.
Harry lifted a hand in a greeting, confused, and made his way to the darkest corner of the dimly lit room. He laid his head on the cool table and closed his eyes.
It wasn’t too long before he had company.
“Aw, hon,” the bartender said, casually wiping down his table. “Party too hard?”
“I guess so,” Harry said. He sat up, smiled thinly at the bartender, and shrugged. “Don’t really remember.”
“Can I get you anything? Some water? Little hair of the dog?”
Harry frowned and patted himself down, looking for his wallet. “I don’t think I’ve got any cash,” he said.
“Don’t worry about it, doll,” the bartender said. “What you spent here last night, I think we can give you something on the house.”
“Great,” Harry said, but his voice didn’t seem to match his sentiments. “Hair of the dog would be perfect.”
What did he spend last night? He wondered. He shouldn’t have had enough money to warrant a free drink at a place he’d never been before. Where had he gotten the money? Did he spend it all here, and if not, what did he do with the rest of it?
The bartender returned with a tall glass of water and a short glass of something red and semi-transparent.
“Here you go,” she said, setting the glasses down. “Drink up, doctor’s orders.”
“Thanks,” he said and downed the alcohol. It went down bitter, but his stomach didn’t reject it so it probably counted as a win.
The bartender watched Harry as he took a small mouthful of the water and swallowed it slowly. His stomach took to it less happily than the alcohol, but took to it nonetheless.
“So,” she said finally. “What do you remember?”
“Ugh,” Harry groaned. “Don’t ask.”
“That much, eh?”