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04 March 2016 @ 12:01 pm
LJ Idol Friends & Rivals: "In Ink Reborn"  
In Ink Reborn
idol friends and rivals | week 12 |840 words
Reptile Dreams


The winged serpent woke in a sea of flesh, bound scale and feather and unable to move. He did not know how long ago his last waking had been. His dreams seemed almost endless now, briefly broken only to return and consume him again.

This time, the sun was dimmer than before and the air cooler than he remembered. He detected the presence of Man and heard his words, but the language was new to him. Whatever might have happened while the serpent had slept, it was certain that a great deal had changed. The world had grown louder and uglier, and there was not a single tree or leaf to be found.

The serpent was not alone in the flesh sea. There was a skull nearby, and a blood-tipped dagger. He knew both elements well, his partners in rituals from so many years ago. They were different now—flattened and silent, mere images of what they had once been.

"What place is this?" the serpent asked, but no answer came.

The skin beneath the serpent was red and swollen, oozing droplets of blood. Yesssss, the serpent thought, taking the blood in greedily. He felt stronger then, a hint of something powerful and merciless rising up with the faintest sense of movement at the tip of his tail.

The skull grinned and the dagger dripped, and the air around the serpent smelled like smoke and the exquisite aroma of pain.

Days passed as indefinable time to the serpent, days measured in what he had learned. The serpent had seen other images in the sea of flesh—words and flowers, crows and symbols—but like the dagger and skull, they could not speak. He had felt the bitter coldness of this place, and discovered a new entity he had heard referred to as "snow."

"Snow" was terrible and beautiful, miserable to the touch while gleaming like bone or sacrificial ash. The serpent remembered the plains and pyramids of his past, and puzzled over the odd structures that had taken their place.

He spent much of his time in the dark, under heavy cloth or in the long blackness of true night. He still sensed what he could not see, and yearned for what he did not have but so desperately needed:

The glorious elixir that was blood.

It was a moonless night, and the winged serpent was hunting. No one brought offerings to him in this strange new age, but the flesh beneath him could be manipulated to do his bidding. The serpent and the Man whose body was his prison prowled the pathways of the city, chasing the shadows that moved in the dark.

Lowly creatures scurried past, but they did not merit the serpent's attention. Only Man could slake the serpent's need, for it was not the blood alone that mattered.

It was the taking.

The serpent's victim grew nearer and nearer. He could feel it, feel that delectable sense of the vanquishment to come.

There was the briefest moment of anticipation, and then the Man and the serpent leaped and tore, and the music of screams filled the night.

With each conquest, the winged serpent grew more powerful. He drove the Man out into the city night again and again to find new victims, leaving gore and devastation to greet the sun.

The fog of fear that ruled the air offered almost as much sustenance as the blood.

The serpent's tail moved when he willed it, and he could feel his wings beginning to lift from the confines of the Man's skin. The day would soon come when he would be released from these base limitations like a spirit departing its human shell.

Before long, the Man was reluctant to go out and yet the serpent did not relent. He compelled the Man to go forth and kill, until the anguished cries belonged as much to the hunter as to the hunted.

The winged serpent was ruthless and unstoppable, defined by the essential nature of his being.

The Man was defeated by blue-clad warriors who advanced in a whirlwind of piercing sounds and flashing lights.


Later, the winged serpent lay under cloth colored like the sun, noting his new surroundings. He and the Man were confined to a small, barren space constructed of something similar to stone. The serpent remembered the vast temples built in his honor, and the sacrifices offered so long ago.

There were few others here, and he felt the agitation of the Man whose flesh bound him. In this isolation, the need continued but the opportunity to fulfill it was scarce.

The serpent yearned, but he was ancient and unmoved by mortal considerations of time. His chance to strike again would come, bringing him the blood and the victory he sought.

He shifted and stretched against the Man's skin, feeling how little it would take before he could finally break free.

On that day, the winged serpent would rise in full glory and fly off to reclaim his place in the sky.



I am part of a team this week, where votes for the team as a whole matter! Please vote for any entries you enjoy from my Weird Sisters team and any other teams. All stories are here.

bleodsweanbleodswean on March 5th, 2016 12:33 am (UTC)
AHHHHH! EXCELLENT! (I found myself wishing I could have read this without knowing because that must be a gloriously creepy experience!) You've done a superb job here, K. And you have a knack for this...I don't know what to call it....this approach to a subject from naive or new eyes? Taking the known and rendering it fresh...because of perspective. I loved loved loved this - The Man was defeated by blue-clad warriors who advanced in a whirlwind of piercing sounds and flashing lights.

Illustrated, too! Great pic! EEP!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 5th, 2016 01:15 am (UTC)
I know, it kind of spoils it to have a sense of what the basic idea is, though I think by now the idea will be clear to readers?

I'm glad you noticed that line! Describing something so that readers recognize it but via the POV of someone or something that has no real idea what it means is a storytelling approach I really like.

That picture is authentic, and shows Quetzalcoatl more as a serpent than in the "interpreted man" form. The research for this... ook. So disturbing. Plus, there was a 'reform' era where it was claimed that this god later shunned human sacrifices. Um... too late. :O
misfitmanor: The Princess Bridemisfitmanor on March 5th, 2016 04:25 am (UTC)
This is provocative. Love the way you tell a story we can understand, from an angle that we can't, so we get to see both sides at once, as if being told by a two headed monster. Well done!

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2016 07:53 am (UTC)
Thank you so very much! It's a challenge to describe things from the POV of a character who doesn't understand what they are, while not also making them too strange or vague for the reader to recognize.
Teo Sayseternal_ot on March 5th, 2016 11:24 am (UTC)
Beautiful Spin..and I learned something about 'Quetzelcoatl' thanks to you..:) The words are well crafted and precise and that automatically paints a picture in the mind. Good work! Kudos!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2016 07:57 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I wound up doing quite a bit of reading about Quetzelcoatl (the early Aztec/Mayan gods and worship were SO unsettling). It was interesting that they associated a winged snake with the winds, and that an eagle was sometimes part of his manifestation too. When I think of snakes, I think of things that are solidly earthbound--and I would never consider a bird to be an alternate form for them.
whipchick: pic#125642089whipchick on March 5th, 2016 04:32 pm (UTC)
So many images, so much understanding of an otherworldly creature doing his best in a new land where he is neither feared not understood! I particularly liked the snow, gleaming like bone and miserable to the touch.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2016 07:59 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked the lines about snow. To think of an Aztec god-creature from a hot, sunny land finding himself farther north where it snows... I expect the snow and the climate would be horrifying to it. More alien, perhaps, than all of the changes in the surrounding state of humanity.
rayasorayaso on March 5th, 2016 05:29 pm (UTC)
This is utterly fantastic, and it gets better each time I read it. The imagery is wonderful, as is the whole idea of Quetzelcoatl arising as a tattoo. Did you intend for the man to be a killer before the tattoo, or did Quetzelcoatl turn him into one for the blood? I love the ambiguity. This is one of your best stories! I enjoyed the presence of the other tattoos, and seemingly no recognition by Quetzelcoatl of his current form (a tattoo), except that one day he would be free again.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2016 08:07 am (UTC)
nd seemingly no recognition by Quetzelcoatl of his current form (a tattoo), except that one day he would be free again.
I think that would be mystifying, to wake up as a tattoo and not understand where you are or why you can't seem to move or leave. But he can soon tell that with added strength, he can break free.

I hadn't intended the man with the tattoo to originally be a killer, so being forced into that would be enough to break him-- and it seems that it did.

cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on March 5th, 2016 08:11 pm (UTC)
well this was disturbing! i like how clear the story is, where events are set and what's going on, even tho so many of the details are so unfamiliar to the serpent. it interprets its surroundings in a way that makes sense to it, but that's also clear to us. i think that kind of narrative can be hard to sustain without sounding kind of tortured and artificial, but you did a fabulous job.

it reminded me a little of an old x-files episode where a guy's tattoo (voiced by jodi foster, i think) convinced him to kill someone. but this has a much older evil at its heart.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2016 08:11 am (UTC)
The research for this was disturbing! The rituals of those civilizations were just awful and truly sickening, and what they thought of as glorification was so often cruel.

I don't remember that X-Files episode at all! The comic ones were what really stuck with me-- that and the Krycek Olien stuff.
alycewilsonalycewilson on March 5th, 2016 10:24 pm (UTC)
At first I thought this was a continuation of bleodswean's poem, but it didn't take me long to figure out what was happening. Great use of POV and a creative approach to the prompt!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 6th, 2016 08:12 am (UTC)
Ooh, that would have been an interesting idea! But no, these were completely different "worlds" (and religious legacies, really).

I'm glad you liked the story, and that what was happening was clear!
swirlsofblueswirlsofblue on March 7th, 2016 06:57 pm (UTC)
Love this. I absolutely adore the descriptive imagery you've used here, so macabre and gorgeous. Love the way you unfold the serpent's tale and its interpretation of the world around it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 7th, 2016 07:12 pm (UTC)
It IS macabre, and I find that kind of unsettling, but it so fits the character. He has a very violent, bloody worldview, and it is SO different from anything but a serial killer, really.

And the modern age vs. his own is a huge change, not to mention him not having a full sense of why he's "trapped" on the man's skin or what this incarnation of himself really is.

There were so many interesting things to fold into this story, because of all those strangenesses.

Thanks for reading on your bye week!
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen": Gold Dragonroina_arwen on March 7th, 2016 07:03 pm (UTC)
Great take on the topic - very creative!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 7th, 2016 07:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! *icon love*
prog_schlockprog_schlock on March 7th, 2016 08:08 pm (UTC)
I think I was introduced to Quetzelcoatl, as I was introduced to so many things, via Dungeons and Dragons. There was a book titled Deities and Demigods that included a section on Aztec myth maybe?

What blows my mind about the image of the winged serpent is that it can be seen in many different cultures (for example, the Greek symbol for medicine, the caduceus, features prominent serpents and wings). Something about that image of a flying snake is terrifying and beautiful at the same time.

Anyhow, great entry! I don't have songs about winged snakes, but I can share this:

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Welshhalfshellvenus on March 7th, 2016 10:52 pm (UTC)
There seems to be a video game with a character called Q who is essentially Quetzelcoatl.

There is quite a legacy of winged serpents. Is it perhaps the thought that they could then get you no matter where you are that leads to that (some kind of Jungian archetype)? What I find odd is when they're snakes with wings-- as opposed to dragons, which are AWESOME (and better designed for flying). I'm using a dragon in this here icon, though it's because it's Welsh rather than a dragon.

Catchy tune! I wound up ratholing down the Dukes of Stratosphear after you linked "The Vanishing Girl." :O
prog_schlockprog_schlock on March 7th, 2016 11:12 pm (UTC)
Dukes of the Stratosphere were an alternate identity of the English band XTC who are generally awesome.

Lloyd Cole was another great English songwriter/singer. I think he still records today, but that Rattlesnakes album was the best. :D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 7th, 2016 11:22 pm (UTC)
Yes-- I found a gazillion XTC albums on youtube, though they didn't really grab me. But that psychedelic sound of the Dukes? Too captivating to refuse!
uselesstinrelicuselesstinrelic on March 8th, 2016 12:25 am (UTC)
I really like this and I'm sorry I don't have a more creative way to articulate that. But I really enjoyed it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on March 8th, 2016 12:34 am (UTC)
Thank you, and I appreciate your leaving a comment!