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stargate, DanielJackson

Week 15, Title: Pretty face and electric soul

Posted on 2017.04.18 at 23:01
Tags: ,
Sarah’s glad to take a break from eternally half-unpacked boxes and let her new neighbour, Candice, explain the area.

“You can get good chips from Franco’s over there but don’t go during the lunch rush. He’s too cheap to hire anyone and they’re always undercooked.”

Sarah nods and points. “What’s that place?”

“Oh that’s The Store. It’s weird. If you go in there, they just stare at you until you leave. Don’t know how they manage to keep running. Some think it’s a mafia front. Some think they’re selling drugs. Some tell stories with warnings about mystical shit.”

“And what do you think?”

Candice shrugs. “It’s just an odd little place; owners likely just have too much time and too much money, probably nothing to it.”


It’s half curiosity and half disdain for the boxes that lead to Sarah entering The Store. The smells immediately strike her, vibrant and potent, herbs and spices. The interior is gorgeous. Walls panelled with old dark wood. A floor of ebony- wide like an empty chasm- with nothing on it but a few stools. The wall of products is behind the counter. Several large jars, filled with various oddities; herbs or sticks or talismans.

Her gaze shudders to a halt at the top shelf. A row of jars, each holding a heart. Not human, surely. She keeps looking.

The woman at the counter stares at her. It’s an empty piercing thing, clawing ice-like into her, but Sarah doesn’t look away or step back. If anything she’s more entranced.

“There’s nothing for you here,” the woman says.

There’s something to this place, Sarah can feel it already, crawling inside her. She’s never been this affected by anything, and she needs this feeling, this thing that moves her in a way she doesn’t understand. This dark thing, can already sense it feeding her muse like nothing ever could, an inexplicable pit of emotion spilling out across a page in immutable shades.  She knows it’s a bad idea.

“Would you mind if I sat on one of these stools to draw for a while?” she pauses before adding, “I’m an artist.”

The woman gives her a half-nod and proceeds to ignore her.


Sarah draws the jars and their mismatched contents, draws heart strings stretching out into an entire webbed world. She draws the woman but her face always comes out as a circular blur on the page. Sometimes she forgets what the woman even looks like. Old, but no, that’s wrong, she’s young definitely young. She draws realms, twisted things, springing forth in her mind like realities unpeeling themselves inside her.

Sarah comes back day after day after day. The woman says nothing to her, just mixes ingredients, glares at potential customers, and deals with regulars in hushed whispers. Said regulars often wonder away with glazed-over eyes and Sarah is beginning to favour the drug-selling theory.

But as she draws the regulars, and tries to capture the shine to their eyes, she begins to see it’s something else entirely. They are all different, all somehow less.     
She doesn’t understand what it is, but has a suspicion that it’s the price they’ve paid. Can’t imagine anything ever being worth giving away a part of yourself.


The tremor starts on a Tuesday. Her hand spasms wildly before settling into a mild shuddering. It hurts. It hurts to stretch out her fingers and thumb. It hurts to clench them into a fist. She does it over and over anyway, as if the hand will correct itself, go back to normal. It doesn’t.

She goes to the doctor. They run tests and find nothing, run more tests and find nothing. Whatever is going on with her hand doesn’t follow any expected pattern. They don’t know what it is. They think it’s in her head. They think she’s lying. The symptoms don’t make sense.

She holds a pencil in her clenched fist. It’s painful but there’s a modicum of control. Scratches messy lines onto the page. If only to pour out this energy, this life-blood, this creation waiting to be made. This soul echoing under her skin in tic-like frustration.


Days drift into weeks and then into months. Her hand spasms on and her sketch pad is a mess of broken graphite and wobbly lines. Hopelessness sits beneath her ribcage and she understands that art isn’t everything. Creating isn’t everything. She can start anew, do something different. She knows these things. But they aren’t a reality to her. Sarah’s never been good at other things. Other things have never made her feel alive. And what’s the point in life if you can’t feel alive.

She feels herself slipping away, piece by piece. Things uncommitted to paper float away- unreal. Nothing matters anymore. She exists one day after another, going through the motions.

It’s only at the point of hollow despair that the woman speaks to her.

“There may be something for you here now.”

“Can you heal my hand?” Sarah asks. She knows the cost, but she already feels like those empty eyed people.

The woman doesn’t answer, just turns her back, pulling jars down from the shelves. It’s only when everything is is lined up on the counter that she begins to speak, “Have you ever wondered what makes the heart of a person, their identity, their personality, memories, actions, reactions, lifetimes of pieces laying on each other, forming a whole. What happens when we forget, when we lose memories, people, parts of ourselves. When we change, grow, what happens to the remnants left behind. When we exist without hope, when the slow grind of other voices replace our thoughts. When we become different.”

“I don’t know. But I can’t stay like this.”

“I know. I wouldn’t be doing this if you could.” The woman holds up a jar. “I will give you a piece of this heart. And you will give me a piece of your heart in return.”

This is a bad idea. Sarah nods, solemn.


Sarah draws. The lines are perfect, the shading perfect, the sketch perfect. But there’s nothing there. Just a drawing on paper, no soul. She draws hectic and harried, page after page, scrawling at attempts of wildness, but there’s nothing behind the lines. It's empty. She's empty.


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i_17bingo at 2017-04-18 23:19 (UTC) (Link)
This had a classical feel to it, like an old-fashioned, cautionary tale from a pulp magazine, but with more nuance. I loved it, is what I'm trying to say.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-19 16:54 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, ooh that's an interesting description, so glad you liked it :)
mauvetears4747 at 2017-04-19 14:12 (UTC) (Link)
I loved this. So well thought out and well inspired.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-19 16:55 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :)
rayaso at 2017-04-19 17:46 (UTC) (Link)
This was excellent! I was engrossed the whole way through. I loved the idea of the store, and the cost of the cure being a piece of your heart.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-19 17:55 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, I'm so glad it had you engrossed :)
bleodswean at 2017-04-19 19:27 (UTC) (Link)

This is EXCELLENT!! It is so polished and delivers everything it promises. I especially ESPECIALLY loved the first interaction with the store owner! Such a wonderful piece of wiring, J!

swirlsofblue at 2017-04-19 19:33 (UTC) (Link)
Yay thank you, so happy you liked it, I was hoping that interaction would work :)
favoritebean at 2017-04-21 06:17 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this has such Faustian sort of feel (without the awful atrocities Faust commits), or a 'devil at the crossroads' type of feel.

I love how you evoke every sense into the story. This is my favorite take on the prompt so far. Brava!
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-21 16:49 (UTC) (Link)
I love how you evoke every sense into the story. This is my favorite take on the prompt so far. Brava!

Wow, thank you, that means so much to hear :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors
halfshellvenus at 2017-04-21 06:46 (UTC) (Link)
Eeee... her fascination with that place was her undoing. All of that wondering about why the people who came there seemed somehow 'diminished', and meanwhile parts of her own world are leaving her bit by bit.

It didn't seem a fair trade at the end, but it's possible that what she gave away was also empty at that point.. and that's all anyone was when they made those same choices themselves.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-21 16:51 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :).

Yep, and she had to know what she was getting into after seeing all the others.
Banana Galaxy
banana_galaxy at 2017-04-21 20:26 (UTC) (Link)
Woah, what a way to end that tale! Poor Sarah.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-22 07:37 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the ending :)
(Deleted comment)
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-22 07:39 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, yeah I'd hope I wouldn't too, but you never know what might happen when you end up in situations :)
beeker121 at 2017-04-22 00:48 (UTC) (Link)
This feels a little like an old episode of The Twilight Zone, where getting what you think you want never turns out like you hoped. This is vivid and scary in the best ways.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-22 07:39 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :)
dmousey at 2017-04-22 17:12 (UTC) (Link)
She draws realms, twisted things, springing forth in her mind like realities unpeeling themselves inside her.

This line struck me as a description of what we as writers are also attempting to do. This kept me engaged from first sentence to last. A fantastic write. Hugs and peace~~~
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-22 17:39 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you found it engaging :), yeah I was kind of thinking about writing as well when I wrote that line.
Teo Says
eternal_ot at 2017-04-23 07:58 (UTC) (Link)
"I am going to miss reading lrig_rorrim's take on this" Is the first thing that came to my mind when the prompt came up.
And THIS reminded me so much of her world. I mean it as a compliment. Thanks for giving me my fix :)
Amazing take! Well done.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-23 10:47 (UTC) (Link)
Wow thank you so much, her writing is awesome and that is an awesome compliment :).
kajel at 2017-04-23 13:01 (UTC) (Link)
Fantastic! She had to have known what she was getting into.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-23 13:26 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :), yep, she really did
alycewilson at 2017-04-23 13:20 (UTC) (Link)
Nice use of magical realism. There could be no happy ending with this setup! Still, I didn't know exactly what would happen until the end.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-23 13:26 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :)
penpusher at 2017-04-23 15:29 (UTC) (Link)
very nicely crafted and paced... the slow reveal of The Store with the horrifying truth of it. It gives one palpitations.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-23 15:51 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the way I paced it :)
messygorgeous at 2017-04-23 18:23 (UTC) (Link)
Dark and insistent! Reminded me a little of Needful Things - I'll give you what you need but it's going to exact a price that's not worth the reward. I hope I never have need of The Store.
swirlsofblue at 2017-04-23 18:39 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you :)
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