As the River Breathes

Prompt: Setting: On the river by Rabia Gale. Who Me? Out of Prompts?

Not so pretty and an odd secondary character in the world, but alas, so many of the former operatives are this messed up.

Liana Mir

Liana Mir reads, writes, and wrangles the muses from her mundane home in the Colorado Rockies and, occasionally, from the other side of the Barrier.

Series Listing

16 — 02. Summer

When the Clock Strikes Midnight

16 — 02. Summer through 03. Autumn

Wake and Thrive

16 — 03. Autumn through 17 — 01. Spring

Its Own Absolution

16 — 03. Late Autumn

After the Grief

16 — 03. Late Autumn

Battery Acid

17 — 02. Summer

Accounting for Redemption

17 — 02. Summer

Counting Heartbeats

18 — 01. Spring

Song Between the Waking and the Dreaming

20 — 04. Winter

Echoes of Anchor Lost

21 — 01. Spring

Don’t Remind Me That It’s Over

21 — 02. Summer


21— 02 Summer through 22 — 01 Spring

Name Me Another (or Glass Angel, Redux)

22 — 01. Spring

Glass Angel

22 — 01. Spring

Pause the Sonata

22 — 02. Summer

Without a Reason

22 — 03. Autumn

Learning Legato

23 — 02. Summer

Acceptable Cost

23 — 02. Summer

History Lesson on the Night Train

23 — 03. Autumn

Abyss Looking Back

23 — 03. Autumn

Collateral Damage

23 — 03. Autumn

Five Reasons I Love You

23 — 03. Autumn

Little Things

23 — 03. Autumn

Owning Beauty

23 — 04. Winter

Dream the Dance

23 — 04. Winter

Snow Day

24 — 02. Summer

As the River Breathes

AU 21 — 04. Winter

Normal written in coffee grounds

As the River Breathes

They'd taught her to kill. She would learn to heal.

A feud between kingdoms results in a dammed up river and only one half-crazed girl to save them.

24 — 02. Summer
Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction
Flash Fiction Short Story

As the river breathed, so did Spirare. She slid down the gritty tunnel wall and watched the brightness of the kingdoms city, Bellyn, swallowed up overhead as she passed out from under the manhole and landed with a weak splash in the bottom of the river’s channel. Bellyn was built over the long, enclosed throat of a river when it was still a Thorn city, belonging to that republic, before the rebellion, before the period of anarchy, before the kingdoms rose up from quarters and communities to establish rule in various parts of the whole.

Then, as kingdoms are wont to do, the eastern Merchants Kingdom raised import and export taxes to the horrified and almost reflexive reaction of the western kingdoms and a brown-cloaked man of the High Land of Bellyn showed up in Spirare’s disreputable little apartment at the center of a little-known, ill-lit plaza and hired her to crawl into the underbelly of the city and find out why the river no longer flowed.

Water flowed from faucets opened in the western end of Bellyn; they did not in the eastern side. She didn’t think there was much mystery in who was responsible or why.

It was dark, damp, dirty—nothing she wasn’t thoroughly used to. “All boys learn to drown. All girls go up and down,” she sang to herself in an odd, half-rhythmic tune as she’d sang to herself from the time she was a too-skinny, stringy-haired, blonde waif shimmying into dark and dangerous places as if she wasn’t a dangerous place herself.

Oxygen murked about the stale air. She could feel, feel it spirare, and way far down the sightless tunnel water leaked from something and with it oxygen, oxygen trapped with hydrogen molecules, oxygen trapped in metal ores. She did not know what metals held it, only the water because she could hear it dripping and feel it pooling under her feet, but she was a special—a human for sure and a monster by half, created at the pleasure of the Thorn Republic in her own memory era of blinding, unforgettable pain.

“All boys learn to drown.” She snatched the free oxygen about the tunnel and tumbled in the flow it made around her, let herself bounce about in a river of her own making. “All girls go up and down.”

Sometimes Spirare wondered if she were half-crazy to go with her half-monster, wondered if the men on the street above, waiting for water, knew that she had sucked the oxygen from rooms far larger than this one, far smaller, that she had left men gasping for breath and helpless to find any. It was never a pretty way to go.

She stopped singing, hung suspended in the air of the tunnel, felt serious and grim. G—, she was a monster and she hated it. But the people needed water.

They’d taught her to kill. She would learn to heal. I promise, I promise, she thought in a harder, firmer prose than her singsong madness. She reached out her hand and felt the oxygen in the world around her straighten at attention, felt it feel her, and willed it under her command. Loosed from the metal first—to weaken it—loosed from the water—to pull it harder.

“Breathe,” she breathed the word, calling the water, the river to come, to breathe and let the power of its breathing do the work for her.

Metal creaked. Tunnel walls groaned with tension. Pure oxygen sprayed through the blockage and struck out with a force that should have sent her flying, but she was buoyed in her tightly woven oxygen bubble, her river of her own making.

“Breathe!” She pulled again and harder and then the water came. Upheaval and darkness and floating spiraling rushing water, water, hydrogen, water, metal, oxygen— Oxygen. She gripped it and flew upward through the manhole, landed in a wet and coughing heap on the pavement.

“You are a strange sort of woman,” the brown cloak of High Land told her. People were gathered in crowds beyond the pavement of the street, peering from storefronts and sidewalks.

Spirare laughed at him and loosed the oxygen bubble from ’round herself, drank in the dirty, dingy air of the overcrowded Downtown District. It was good to taste that air and know that under her feet, the river breathed.


Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction

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