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Liesmith, chapter 19.


Even knowing they were going to hit, the impact was still shocking.

“Hold on!” Wayne yelled. She floored the accelerator, pointing the Beetle straight at the thing standing outside Sigmund’s house. She didn’t know what it was, but it hadn’t noticed them and she wasn’t about to take the risk that it might.

“Wayne what are—?” was all Em managed before they hit the monster. Wayne got a flash of milky green eyes, wide in shock, set in a face that almost looked familiar. Then, in the next instant, the car shuddered and the windshield shattered as the thing’s huge, charcoal dark body rolled up the hood.

Wayne lost control of the car for one heart-stopping moment after that. Careening across the street in a squeal of tires, before managing to pull to a halt about three houses down. They’d spun completely around in the chaos, and in the fluttering glow from the headlights, Wayne could just make out the shape of the thing they’d hit. It was lying on the ground, unmoving.

“What the fucking fuck was that!”

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2020-11-23T16:42:50+11:0023rd November, 2020|Tags: , , |

LIESMITH, chapter 18.


Sigmund gave up trying to drive the car by the time they got to Von Neumann Avenue.

“Sigmund!” his dad said when Sigmund took his hands off the wheel. “What are you doing?”

“It doesn’t need me, I guess.” Sigmund gestured as the wheel turned itself to round them onto Briers Way.

David watched in existential horror for a moment, before swallowing and closing his eyes. Sigmund didn’t blame him. They could barely see through the ash and smoke, and the air was heavy and scratchy and smelled like sulphur and rendered fat. The car wasn’t driving fast and, as they crawled through the streets, he could see vague, malformed shadows writhing along sidewalks and in abandoned front yards. There were a lot of them. Lain claimed they weren’t aggressive, but Sigmund was thankful he was in the car. He felt even better when he found the button on the dash that put the convertible’s top up.

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2020-11-01T10:20:10+11:001st November, 2020|Tags: , , |

Liesmith, chapter 17.

Alis’s Note
… oops been a few weeks but we got there!


It’s a different hallway.

“Sig? Sigmund?”

He’s not here. Even with blurred Wyrdsight I can tell that much, the door to the study having opened back out into a much deeper part of the Bleed than it opened in from. Very deep, in fact, down past the mist and isolation, into the blood and bile.

“David?” I try, just on the off chance. He’s not here either, but that doesn’t mean I’m alone. The hallway carpet squelches under my feet, and my outstretched claws leave wet, glistening grooves in the walls as I walk toward the staircase. The house doesn’t like that much; I can hear the wheeze in its breath at the wounds but fuck it. I’m well past the mood of being nice.

There’s light coming from the staircase, red and flickering, accompanied by the greasy smell of rancid flesh, slowly roasting. Peering over the landing, I can see huge swathes of downstairs are on fire, and they don’t look like they plan on being in any other state any time soon. I try to calm it, but it doesn’t listen. Fire at all in Niflhel is unusual, but when it does take root it’s Múspell all the way down. And the fires of Múspell burn eternal.

They’re also hot, one of the few fires that can burn me, and the memory of the one other—of Baldr’s hands searing on my skin—sends me back a step.

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2020-10-18T09:29:05+11:0018th October, 2020|Tags: , , |

Liesmith, chapter 16.

Alis’s Note
… aa-aa-and part three surprise genre change!


The night started out awesome: ice cream, video games, nail polish, and Em. A real girls’ night in, doing girly things, to make up for all the time Em had been spending recently with that guy she’d met online. LambChop, or whatever his real name was.

It was just at the pinkest part of dusk, and Wayne was in the kitchen, fetching food while Em lounged around on the couch, newly painted toenails up in a foam thingie. They were a good hour into their main activity for the night, replaying Remnant World 2: Red August without saving (or dying) in order to unlock the final costume. It was about three hours of gameplay, if they took the short route (which they would). Em was working through the “normal day” intro scenes, up until the opening of the August Room, after which she would hand the controller over to Wayne and spend most of the rest of the evening hiding behind a pillow.

It was that sort of game.

Wayne was adding choc chips to their ice cream when she heard, “Wayne! Cutscene!”

She hurried back into the lounge room with the bowls, just in time to watch Carol rip the red tape off the August Room door. Wayne had played RW2 at least five times already, and the scene was still creepy as hell. Watching Carol walk into the featureless corridor, Wayne silently chanting Go back go back Carol go back as the latter vanished farther and farther into the blackness, knowing what she’d find on the other side, the room full of—

The lights flickered.

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2020-09-07T10:03:21+10:007th September, 2020|Tags: , , |

Liesmith, chapter 15.

Alis’s Note
True story, the original version of this chapter was one of the original scenes I wrote for this story, way way waaaaaaay back in circa 2003-ish; I even have extremely old, terrible art of Lain for it in some sketchbook somewhere. That version of the story was originally set in Redmond (LB, Inc. was basically Microsoft, rather than the more Apple-esque company it’d eventually morph into) which is why there’s a handgun here. Because I wanted Lain to keep the gun (it’s a plot element Later™), I had to handwave a bit on why David would actually have one, seeing as casual handgun ownership in Victoria is kinda… not really a thing.


Sigmund spends most of the afternoon asleep in my office, his dreams dark and restless.

He wakes up a little after five, tousled and confused, and blinks at his surroundings for a few moments before his brain catches up to where he is. Stuttering and apologetic, he’s more interesting than emails and spreadsheets, and so I join him on the couch, pressing him back against the leather and devouring his awkwardness with all the want of a nerd at Comic-Con.

Much better than spreadsheets, particularly when my hands slip underneath Sigmund’s too-worn, once-black T-shirt, caressing soft, dark skin. Despite the pounding of his blood he feels cool beneath my hands and mouth. Mortals always do.

Outside, the city Bleeds.

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2020-08-23T19:31:00+10:0023rd August, 2020|Tags: , , |

Liesmith, chapter 14.

Alis’s Note
Did I mention yet that the main inspiration for the structure of this story was Audition? Because yeah it was…


The con call is long and difficult and not at all like the feel of Sigmund’s lips or the taste of his self-conscious lust, meaning that my mind’s not so much on the work as it is on him. On the coarse feel of his hair and sharp scent of his soap, on the softness of his flesh and the hesitance of his embrace.

He’s not a great kisser. Unpracticed. But that can be fixed, with time, and I’d be lying if I said the thought of plucking open his awkward virginity wasn’t something I was looking forward to, the very best kind of déjà vu.

By modern standards, Sigyn had been young when we’d married. Young and mortal, caught in the firestorm of the most capricious of the gods. But she’d devoured the apple and taken to her place in Ásgarðr with a ferocity unmatched across the heavens, and the whole Nine Realms had been the rubes and patsies for our mayhem.

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2020-07-30T18:25:30+10:0030th July, 2020|Tags: , , |

Liesmith, chapter 13.

Alis’s Note
So yeah I totally meant to move this to a weekly posting schedule and then totally didn’t because… I have no excuse. What even is time anymore?


By Tuesday morning, Sigmund still hadn’t figured out what to tell Em. Mostly because if he was being honest, he’d been too busy daydreaming about Lain.

They hadn’t seen each other again that Monday. Lain sent an apologetic text around lunchtime mentioning he’d been waylaid by VPs wanting to discuss advertising campaigns for the next major PyreOS release. So Sigmund had played video games on the Inferno in Travis’s office for a while, until guilt had started to gnaw and he’d dragged himself back downstairs to do work.

It hadn’t been easy, and Sigmund was gaining a newfound appreciation for the Basement’s nickname when compared to the light and vistas of the CEO’s suite. He’d picked at the job queues, but it’d seemed so petty all of a sudden. Who the hell cared about a few lost emails when the gods themselves were sharpening knives and heading for war?

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2020-07-20T10:13:12+10:0020th July, 2020|Tags: , , |

Liesmith, chapter 12.

Alis’s Note
… let’s speed this up a bit.


The world still hadn’t ended by Monday, which Sigmund decided to take as a good sign, even if it did mean that he had to get up for work. Sunday had been uneventful, minus a bit of ribbing from Em and Wayne about his date and the fact that their progression raid kept wiping on the last boss. But that was all regular, Really Real World stuff. No gods, no monsters—well, the ones on the computer, but pixels didn’t count—and, most important, no apocalypse. Sigmund had considered messaging Lain on Sunday evening, but had decided against it, and Lain, for his part, seemed to be respecting Sigmund’s tacit suggestion to leave him alone for the weekend. He did that a lot, Sigmund realized. Respected boundaries, at least when Sigmund set them. It was nice.

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2020-07-06T12:40:06+10:006th July, 2020|Tags: , , |


What if books aren’t actually that special, and the reason we treat them as some kind of sacred object is actually a hundred-plus year-old marketing gimmick?

My one of these is I went through a phase as a kid where I used to very heavily write in and dog-ear paperbacks. When I tell people this they tend to be horrified, until I explain that, to me, it was a sign of how much I loved the interior text. I was also a big believer in (pencilled) marginalia in library books, because I loved finding other peoples’ pencilled marginalia in library books. It was like GoodReads before GoodReads!1

  1. Librarians don’t @ me. []
2020-03-17T08:58:53+11:004th July, 2020|Tags: |

Liesmith, chapter 11.

Alis’s Note
… aaaand we start on Part Two (Baldr)! True story: the Völuspá excerpts were originally supposed to be from the original texts, but the publisher at the time made me translate them into English because Old Norse would “confuse” people. Publishing is great!

 [A]xe-age, sword-age,
shields cloven,
wind-age, wolf-age,
ere the world falls;
no man will
spare another.
—“Völuspá,” stanza 45


Considering Sigmund spent the night sleeping in a bathtub, Saturday morning wasn’t as horrible as it could have been.

Someone had brought him blankets.

Blankets and pillows, in fact. They looked stripped straight off the bed outside and were cocooned around him. It was comfortable, despite the porcelain beneath, and Sigmund didn’t want to get up.

He had a killer headache.

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2020-06-29T09:41:18+10:0029th June, 2020|Tags: , , |
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