Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Tag

Hallowe’en 2015 — The Masque of the Red Death

The Red Death had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores…. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys…. [Security was] within. Without was the Red Death….

The Masque of the Red Death-jpg

…When the eyes of the Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image (which, with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be convulsed, in the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.

“Who dares,”—he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who stood near him—”who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him—that we may know whom we have to hang, at sunrise, from the battlements!”…

…At first, as he spoke, there was a slight rushing movement…in the direction of the intruder, who at the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately step, made closer approach to the speaker.  But from a certain nameless awe…, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince’s person….  It was then, however, that the Prince Prospero, maddening with rage and the shame of his own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly terror that had seized upon all.  He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter…turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer.  There was a sharp cry—and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince Prospero….

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall….  And the flames of the tripods expired.  And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

Excerpts from the short story “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe (1842)

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Blogger Challenge — Fictional Characters: Eve Dallas

Perhaps one of the things I like about Lieutenant Eve Dallas, homicide cop for the New York Police and Security Department in the year 2060,  and the reason I chose her for my own entry to my Blogger Challenge, is the complexity of the character. Eve’s author, J. D. Robb – better know as the romance author Nora Roberts – has had about 40 books to work out her personality, and her relationships with Roarke, her multi-billionaire Irish husband; her partner and protégée, Detective Delia Peabody; her ex-grifter rock-star best friend, Mavis Freestone (Eve was the one that busted her and brought her into the straight and narrow); and the many other characters that have built up around her over all those books. Eve’s past is assuredly scarred; abused massively as a child by her father, despised by her mother, she escaped from that situation by killing her abuser while still a girl. The trauma left her memories of the event blocked for years, and it’s only recently that she is able to cope with recalling them, and only then because of the love and support of Roarke, whose own childhood, as a pickpocketing urchin on the streets of Dublin for his Fagin of a father, was about as vicious as hers.

She has grown into a woman with a passion for justice, a drive to see those she stands for receive what compensation the system can offer the dead, by putting their murderers away for life. She’s tough, no-nonsense, and often has little patience for any around her who cannot accept her viewpoint. Only since marrying Roarke has this altered to a degree; having someone who can love her for all she is has allowed Eve to sometimes lower her ferro-cement-coated, meters-high defenses, acknowledge the friendships and relationships she has built, and just be plain vulnerable. Roarke is there to love her, to hold her and keep her together when the nightmares strike her in the dark, as they have often done until the past year or so of their time, and to work with her to close some of the knottiest murder cases served up to the NYPSD in the post-Urban Wars years.

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Her clothing style is as no-nonsense as she is; in fact, it’s no sense. She’s satisfied with whatever she pulls out of the closet as long as it fits and isn’t covered in bloodstains. Having grown up a ward of the state after running away from the killing of her father, Eve never had the opportunity – or inclination – to learn social graces, or the money to indulge herself in clothes or makeup. She’s actually very uncomfortable with the purchasing power she can command as the wife of possibly the richest man on the planet. To her, spending time in a store – any store, no matter what it is she needs to purchase – is the equivalent of a session on the rack with the Inquisition, and she’d probably look rather outrageous at times if Roarke didn’t vet her choices before she drove in to work. Roarke, of course, knows how looks matter; it’s all part of the game of presentation for the wildly successful industrialist. It amuses him to see Eve’s reaction when she discovers yet more fabulous suits or dresses hanging in her closet, put there by the “clothes fairies” (meaning Roarke and his majordomo, Summerset).

She takes as little concern in her face as in her wardrobe. Her brown eyes (“whiskey-colored,” as Robb often phrases it) rarely see shadow or mascara, unless she is at a business or society function with Roarke (having been unable to weasel out of it); lipstick – “lip dye” – tends to smear when she puts it on; and she’s under constant threat from Tina, her very occasional hairdresser, to get a stripe shaved down the center of her scalp if Eve takes a scissors to her own “choppy” brown hair.

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All this isn’t to say that Eve is completely unconscious of how important a look can be at times. She just isn’t usually worried about it. But, going into a meeting where she is confronting an incredibly dirty police lieutenant from another squad, she wants to present the impression that here is the equivalent in power to her adversary, and she knows that she needs help in putting it together:

When [Roarke] walked into the bedroom with a towel slung around his waist [Eve] stood in a short robe doing something he rarely if ever saw her do. Actively studying the contents of her closet.

“This is weird,” she said, “but I need to…. Pick something out for me to wear, will you? I need to look in control, an authority, serious. Seriously in charge.”

Frustrated, she circled her hands in the air. “But without looking planned or studied. I don’t want it to come off like an outfit, but–”

“I understand you.” He stepped in, studied the jackets first. He’d selected every one of them himself as wardrobe – much less shopping for wardrobe – was dead low on her list of priorities.

“This.”

“Red? But–”

“Not red, but burgundy. It’s not bright, not bold, but deep and serious – and transmits authority, particularly in this very tailored cut. With these pants – a serious gunmetal grey, and this top in a slightly softer grey – no fuss, no embellishments. The grey boots, as they’ll give you one long line, with the jacket as the subliminal element of authority.”

She puffed out her cheeks, blew out the air. “Okay. You’re the expert.”

Once she’d dressed she had to admit there was a reason he was the expert. She looked put together but not – how had she put it – studied. And the red – sorry, burgundy – did look strong.

Plus, if she got blood on it, it might now show. Much.

“Wear these.”

She frowned at the little silver studs he held out. “I hardly ever wear earrings to work. They’re–”

“In this case, just a bit of polish. Simple and subtle.”

  • J. D. Robb [Nora Roberts], Treachery in Death, chapter 4. Copyright 2011 by Nora Roberts; published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons / Penguin Group (USA). PS3568.O243 T. 813.54 [dc22]. eISBN: 978-1-101-47586-7.

 

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As can be seen from her reaction to the simple stud earrings, her tastes in jewelry are also beyond basic.  Bling has never played a part in her life until she married Roarke, and it doesn’t particularly now, when she could afford to put a major dent in the stock of both Tiffany’s and Cartier’s in one day.  There are only two pieces of jewelry that she regularly will not do without:  her wedding ring (which I left out here), and a large teardrop diamond pendant, also given to her by Roarke.  Occasionally, she’ll wear a set of earrings that were supposed to have been owned by Gráinne, the Irish pirate queen and warrior.  Roarke, though outwardly an agnostic at best, is not above giving her talismans for aid and protection; indeed, an inscription in Irish on the inside of her wedding band is a spell of protection — which seems to have worked, especially when combined with Eve’s ferocious fighting skills.

If you have a taste for police procedurals with a science-fiction tang and a good dollop of pure sexy romance, check out the In Death series.  Eve is a fascinating character, and worth the investment of reading time.

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The details:

  • Skin: PXL Candy, sunkissed, nude lips, light eyebrows
  • Eyes: Poetic Colors (Dark wood)
  • Hair: Amacci Doris (dark brown)
  • Top: Persona Iris knitted top (grey)
  • Pants: MOLiCHiNO Kay pants (mesh, XS; grey)
  • Blazer: Entente Classic Blazer (burgundy; perhaps too bright for this instance, but here it is)
  • Shoes: Feets SL Arizona boots (grey)
  • Jewelry: YavaScript round stud earrings; Classique Simplicity teardrop diamond pendant
  • Makeup: Blacklace Beauty Hi-Gloss Lips (Clear 50%; put on her to give her lips just a little shine and wetness.)

Photographed in New York NYC region.

Swing and Sway

Read and enjoy this lovely piece of fiction by Harper Beresford. I didn’t know she was giving us another short story until I got to the end of the article and noticed her note beneath the credits. And I hope you’ll enjoy her choice of gowns as well; the lovely Ms. Beresford does it again in every detail.

A Passion for Virtual Fashion

Swing and Sway

Born Anna Sandowsky in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1917, Arlene Sands was one of the swing era’s “unsung” female vocalists. Known for her throaty voice and broad range, Arlene was admired from coast to coast for her work with the Harvey Hall band. As Hitler marched into Poland, Arlene sang for crowds up and down the East Coast and blessed her citizenship, which allowed a Jewish woman like her to appear in public, an equal citizen whose religious heritage and beliefs were not as important to them as her beautiful voice and glamorous look.

Swing and Sway

Anna/Arlene is brought to life with this gorgeous dress from Neferia Abel. Neferia has been making dresses in SL based on her historical research for over five years. At one time. she was the only place go for anything vintage, and she is still the best for historical accuracy in 20th century women’s fashion. This…

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Posted December 18, 2011 by Harper Ganesvoort in Fashion, Fiction, Reblog

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Worth Every Penny — Aboard the S. S. Galaxy

Lisavet Darchiev swiped her key card in the lock slot and stepped inside Suite 484 on board the S. S. Galaxy. She glanced idly at the rate card on the back of the door as she closed and locked it; then she blinked, and with a shudder, she read, “L$5,200/week.” Bozhe moi!! It still gave her a shock every time she thought of how much this business meeting disguised as a party was costing her publishers. L$5,200 was more in one week than Lisavet made in a month at her old job, and she was not that badly paid. At the same time, the whole concept gave her a delighted frisson. Here she was, once an administrative assistant assigned to the Russian Embassy in London; now she was the toast of the literary world, or at least the mystery/thriller world, being compared to the next Stieg Larsson, and being feted like the Tsar of All the Russias at the release party for the English edition of her second book.

Andrei, her agent and publicist, born in London but Russian to his soul, was already in the suite; he waved across the great room from the windows, came to give Lisavet a hug and an air kiss, and said in Russian, “So, Lisavet Petrovna, how do you enjoy Miami weather?”

“Much nicer than home in Petersburg, Andrei Leonovich; maybe I can actually get a tan here.”

Andrei laughed, then took Lisavet upstairs to her personal bedroom, followed by a ship’s maid. It was a complete mini-suite, with a large shower, marble tub, comfortable bed, and a personal private balcony beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows. “I think this should do the job, don’t you? Just the surroundings for E. P. Darchiev, literary sensation, to make her first big splash in the world of charming the critics.”

Lisavet giggled as she dropped her purse on the bed. “The critics won’t be coming in here, Andrei. And I still need to get used to people calling me ‘E. P. Darchiev.'”

“Well, like I said when you hired me, do you know how long the British and Americans would struggle trying to get out ‘Elisaveta Petrovna Darchiev’? Let alone the spelling mistakes for years? Tell them your real name when they’re interviewing you, but give the printers and proofreaders a break, and life will be much saner in the end.”

While the maid put away the luggage in drawers, and the ship pulled out of dock to make weigh, Andrei gave Lisavet a rundown on the schedule. This first day would be free time for Lisavet until 6:30, as everyone else was getting established in their cabins and staterooms as well. Come dinner time, she would need to be ready for the party she was “hosting” for the press and booksellers’ buyers. Lisavet nodded happily; that gave her some few hours to enjoy the Galaxy‘s amenities before she had to get ready.

A half-hour later, Lisavet was clad in a new swimsuit, and floating on an inflatable chair in the ship’s salt-water pool on the top deck. Here in the Caribbean, the weather was warm and sunny even in November, miles away from conditions back home in old Saint Petersburg. She relaxed back into the gentle support, letting the tropical sun warm her and tan her while she considered ordering a margarita. Or would a piña colada be more appropriate…? Ah, well, for now, she would just kick back and get rid of a little of her boreal winter pallor. Saint Petersburg was her home, but it was good to get away for a little sun now and again — that’s why everyone in Russia seemed headed for Odessa on the Black Sea back in the Soviet days. She spread herself out to the best decorative position with an internal smile, watching through slitted lids and lashes as two men walked by on the deck and stopped to stare at her.

It ended up a margarita, after she got out of the pool, toweled herself off, and slipped back into her batik walking sash and sandals, left on a deck chair. She was a good daughter of Mother Russia; sometimes, though, you needed a change of pace from all that vodka….

After that, a light lunch of sushi and rice in the Japanese restaurant on the conference level — the tuna looked very fresh, and was — followed by a short round of shopping in the small stores, and then back to the suite to be primped and pampered for the party.

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Lisavet waved across the room and called out, “Andrei Leonovich, come here, please,” calling him over to help with an impromptu talk with one of the critics, this one for the New York Review. Things had gone splendidly all night, but it paid to never be caught out. She shimmered in her new evening gown: strapless, with a luxurious pattern in gold print on silk, it was appropriately named Goddess. That’s just how Lisavet felt all through the night. Everyone she had talked to raved about their advance copies of the new book, and it looked like she was well on her way to another best-seller. It wasn’t over yet, though; there were six more days of talks with individual reporters — the Review had decided to get his licks in early — as well as the usual shipboard activities to “cope” with. She grinned to herself; somehow, she thought, she could manage that….

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The details:

The standard stuff —

  • Skin: PXL Candy
  • Eyes: Poetic Gold Flake eyes (sapphire)
  • Nails: Mandala Nail Palette 1 (medium size, HUD controllable)

Daytime:

  • Bikini: Connors Hula Sash blue batik, w/ skirt for wear outside the water
  • Sandals: EarthStones Lalika sandals (Deep Ocean)
  • Hair: Analog Dog Harper (cherry)

At the party:

  • Dress: Gizza Goddess (includes armlets)
  • Shoes: N-core XtremeHeel II slingbacks (silver)
  • Jewelry: Finesmith Noga suite (earrings, necklace, ring)
  • Hair: Vanity Shizuka (Feux, w/o fans)
  • Makeup: Miamai XGen Vintage Liner, Dark Delight eyeshadow

All photos taken on board the S. S. Galaxy, a three-sim-large cruise ship with all the amenities you could imagine or desire. The teleport will drop you at the embarkation dock.

Tales from Insilico — Suffering for Her Art

Read Part I here….

Read Part II here….

Caution:  some situations in this story, and some pictures involving nudity, should be considered NSFW/NSS

Jadzia lay curled up on the cot in the side room, seriously regretting every recent moment of her existence. This has to be the last damned time, she thought to herself as the nausea began rising up again.  As she edged her head over the side of the cot to find the hurl bucket, her mind went over the past twenty-seven hours of station time….

It had been over three months since she had finally paid off the “photo-etched” skin mod she had obtained at a “black” biolab; but the attention she had hoped for from talent scouts had never come.  Jadzia knew they were jaded in appetite, of course; they had seen it all and then some, it seemed, and you really had to be maybe a parsec out there now to even catch a glimpse from them, let alone get the attention of an agent.  But she thought this mod would have done it for sure!

There was only one thing for it — to try again, or to go back to selling herself in a different way.  Being a courtesan meant peddling her body, or at least certain portions of it, but being Shayana had paid the bills.  And she had been good at it, too, pleasuring both herself and her clients, and acquiring something of a reputation for it.  But you could only do so much whoring before something started seeping into your soul.  Remembering the peace she had felt that night in Atonement, the abandoned church-turned-club, Jadzia’s small core of self-pride asserted itself, and she resolved to try one more time.  She booked the appointment — not as obviously as calling a more reputable clinic to “set up an appointment,” of course — and showed up the night specified.

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Tales from Insilico — The Courtesan Seeks Atonement

When the courtesan Shayana heard that one could find atonement in Insilico, she had hoped for more than just another place to ply her “wares.”  Instead, she found more of the same, at least on the upper floors.

Read the rest of this entry »

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