Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 2, Part 2.2

Posted by harmony0stars on September 21, 2008

Glory tucked the threadbare blanket she’d gotten from a homeless shelter into a pile of leaves in a wilder part of Central Park. It was barely enough to wrap around herself, but she really didn’t feel the cold. She was aware of it, and her breath steamed in the frigid air, but it didn’t bother her. Just as it didn’t seem to matter to her body that she hadn’t eaten in three days. She didn’t feel weak or hungry. She didn’t feel much of anything at all. Though she wasn’t sure if it was healthy, she’d decided to see how long she could go without eating. Old habits died hard and dumpster diving was not something she had been able to bring herself to do yet. If it turned out she didn’t need to eat at all, so much the better in that regard.

If it was too dark to see and the libraries and bookstores were closed, there was little reason to remain awake. Like food, she didn’t appear to need sleep, though she still closed her eyes at night and opened them in the morning. She’d stopped dreaming too, something that annoyed her much more than her seeming immunity to her body’s needs. Dreaming had always been something that she looked forward to, like reading a good book. Now sleep was simply a way to pass the time between moments of activity. She did not feel tired when she closed her eyes and did not feel refreshed when she opened them. Her muscles did not ache from lying on the cold ground all night. Nor were her lips chapped from the cold air. It was as if all of her needs had slowly faded away after she managed to summon the sword.

With practice, she was able to summon the sword whenever she liked now. It seemed as if the initial manifestation had been all it took to make the sword available for her use. Had it needed to gestate inside her for some amount of time before it would appear? She didn’t know, and the thought of anything gestating inside her was just plain creepy. She regretted the idea and knew that it was past time for her to go visit Aaron.

She’d put off returning to Aaron’s apartment for over a month since saving the children from Tacita Ruggles and her evil, child-eating god. If asked, she would have said she did not want to become dependent upon his friendship. Experience had taught her not to trust or depend upon anyone but herself. But in reality, she avoided him because he made her uncomfortable. Most people made her feel like an outsider, that there was something wrong with her, which is why she preferred books to people and had always avoided attachments outside of those thrust upon her by the circumstances of birth. People were not so easily understood as the words they used to express themselves. People were changeable and dangerous. They might be kind one moment and cruel the next. Glory had no patience for people because in her opinion, none of them ever lived up to the ideals they espoused. They were liars and hypocrites, saying one thing and doing another, always. Many people, particularly in school, had thought she was arrogant and snooty. They didn’t see how much their daily hypocrisy broke her heart. What they thought was pride was really grief and loneliness. She was ashamed of them but still hungered for companionship. Books might help to fill that void, but even a vivid imagination couldn’t help you hold a satisfying conversation with one.

So she brushed the leaves from her hair and clothes, slung her backpack over her shoulder, and made the trek across town to Aaron’s apartment. If nothing else, she had questions which only he could answer. He’d given her this incredible, incomprehensible weapon without even telling her what to do with it or rather, what could be done with it. And to make matters worse, she had no idea how much of her present condition was due to its presence in her body and how much stemmed from what she had done to herself. Her tattoos had long since healed, had seemed to heal almost over night, and while their placement and the process of their creation had been more intuitive then historical, she was wasn’t sure that she would ever know how much they had altered her. Sometimes when she wandered through the park or out in the city, they would inexplicable ache or burn or feel cold or hot. She had no way of knowing what the sensations meant.

She arrived at Aaron’s building but was loathe to enter. It wasn’t just her worry about how he would act when he saw her. She’d never been fond of apartments, and it didn’t help that she’d been a virtual prisoner in his until she’d left. In her opinion, apartments didn’t have enough windows to make them pleasant enough to call a home. She’d often wondered if her dislike of apartment halls and windowless rooms was some form of claustrophobia. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d wondered whether she was maybe a bit on the crazy side, but she took comfort in the well known axiom that if you were sane enough to question your sanity, chances were you weren’t nuts. Stepping into the building was like leaving the world of the living. As the door closed behind her, the sound of traffic and people going about their daily business was swallowed up by a heavy silence. She could have been transported to a different world entirely and would never have known.

She hesitated outside Aaron’s door. What if he didn’t want to see her? She knocked quickly before she could talk herself into leaving. The seconds ticked by like hours as she waited for him to answer. But he didn’t come, and she was forced to knock again. Still no one answered, and she slid down the wall next to the door. So he wasn’t home. Maybe he was working or something. She could wait. It wasn’t as if she had pressing business elsewhere.

Despite scanning the newspapers every day, she hadn’t seen any news that could even remotely be linked to her sister. She may well have left the city, though Glory doubted it. Lori was there somewhere, maybe just studying Glory’s book before making her move. The more time that went by without any sign of her sister, the more Glory worried about what mischief her sister would eventually create. If what she had done to their mother was any sign, Lori didn’t have much of a conscience at all. No matter how much Glory had hoped that her sister’s selfishness and brutality would dissipate with maturity, she couldn’t afford to give her the benefit of the doubt any more. Their mother had paid the price for her complacency. Glory would never be able to rest until Lori was stopped and her book was destroyed. If she herself had not been so selfish, she might have destroyed it years ago and confined herself to less esoteric pursuits.

“You here to see the ‘partment?”

Caught up in her recriminations, she was startled by the rough voice. A cloud of cigarette smoke wafted around the woman’s head like her own personal atmosphere. Vibrant red press-on nails did nothing to distract from the emaciated state of her hands. Her flesh and clothes alike hung from her wasted frame.

“The apartment?” Glory parroted.

The woman gestured irritably towards Aaron’s door with her cigarette, the ash extending from its end like a charcoal pencil.

“I was… I was looking for the guy that lives, lived here? Did he move?” Glory asked, suddenly anxious. She scrambled to her feet.

“He knock you up, honey?” The old woman leaned in solicitously. “The boy’s no good. Had girls comin’ an’ goin’, day an’ night. Should of never rented t’ such a bum.” She stared at Glory as if waiting for some juicy gossip or agreement.

“I, what? No… he’s a friend. Did he leave a forwarding address?”

The woman snorted and shrugged as if it were none of her business what Glory wanted with Aaron, then squinted at her. “You Glory?

“Er, yes?”

to Book 2, part 2, page 3

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4 Responses to “Tattoo Book 2, Part 2.2”

  1. miawmi said

    wow…i really love this. I stumbled upon this and have been reading the whole thing at one go…and i sure am looking forward to 4.3…

  2. harmony0stars said

    Thanks! I’m glad you’re enjoying the story. I recently got some pretty nasty reviews on webfictionguide.com, so your comment made my day. 🙂

  3. stickergitter said

    I have been really enjoying this story, my only problem with it is the waiting. 🙂 Keep up the good work, and write on.

  4. harmony0stars said

    I wish I had more time to write. If you know a way to win the lottery…. 😉

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