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Butterfly Wings - Chapter 10 - Stars

by BlackThorne


creak creak creak creak creak creak

Daffodil’s bones buzzed as the polyurethane wheels hummed over the pavement. Starling was pushing the cart and Aaron walked alongside.

creak creak creak creak creak creak

“So what is this exactly?” she asked as Starling pushed aside a set of double doors.

“It's like, a camping store.”

“Why are we going here?”

“Well, I feel like it’s our best bet for getting black powder substitute.”

“The gunpowder?”

“It’s not gunpowder, it’s, yeah it’s gunpowder. Also matches.”

“Aren’t there places that sell fireworks that’ve already been made and packaged and everything? Why do we have to go to all this trouble?”

“You’re dead wrong if their downfall will be nothing less than forged from tears with my bare hands.”

creak creak creak creak creak creak

Pavement turned to flooring. Another set of double doors.

creak creak creak creak creak creak

A whoosh of cold air washed over them. The store was dark. Bendy fishing rods speared the air as they wobbled up from their shelves, lined with thin metal rings. Hats and clothes whispered from iron racks that smelled of lint.

creak creak creak creak creak creak

There.

clunk

clunk

clunk

The slotted steps shunted up the track, like silver fish swimming upstream. The rubbery railing looped around the conveyor like a rubber band, turning and turning in an endless ellipse, as the black-bristled brushes at the edges crinkled, brushing the steps as they bubbled from the floor and flowed skyward. Glowing green flashes filled the gaps between them at the bottom like pools of mountain dew, foaming with a silent static. The steps were striped like corduroy and folded over each other like laundry.

clunk

clunk

clunk

An escalator.

“You think you can walk?” Starling asked her. “It’s dangerous to bring a cart on the escalator.”

“Um, yeah of course.” said Daffodil quickly. “That's, uh, dangerous, right. Yeah, I could walk for a little bit. My blisters aren’t too bad. It’ll be good to give them some air.” She got out of the cart "C'mon."

clunk

clunk

clunk

They stepped off the escalator. Starling lifted a sleek black bottle like a vitamin bottle off the shelf. A macaroni-yellow logo flashed with the orange brand name against the obsidian surface.

“Alright, now the matches…”

clunk

clunk

clunk

Back down the escalator. Daffodil climbed back in the cart. Starling took a plastic canister of matches from the checkout and placed it and the black bottle of powder next to her leg.

“Alright, we’re good to go.”

creak creak creak creak creak creak

They went out the sets of double doors.

“Where are we going next?”

“Another store, a bigger one.” said Starling. 

“How do you know how to make fireworks…? I don’t feel like I ever knew how…”

“It was on the notes app on my phone, all orderly and everything. It was deja vu. It’s like I said. It’s all coming together.”

creak creak creak creak creak creak

The cart rolled over the black conglomerate of the parking lot, rattling over the faded yellow lines of paint and clipping past crinkled cement curbs. Starling and Daffodil felt like cars were usually here. To Aaron the whole thing was harshly unfamiliar.

Grit and small stones were crackling in the cart wheels, and the yellow sign was carved from the painted blue building in the distance. Blue cement poles cropped up from the pavement.

Starling pushed through more double doors. Vending machines leaned against the walls of the foyer, ordinarily colorful and flashing lights dim and fizzled out.

creak creak creak creak creak creak creak

The store was eerily dark and empty. Pale, muffled daylight glossed over the polished cement floor, flashing over white rafters of plumbing and gleaming on crackly plastic packaging. It was cold, with an eerie, hollow chill that reeked from the freezer aisles and skidded over the concrete floor. Bright blue checkout lanes licked over the dusty flooring, varnished carousels rustling like leaves in a dark forest with plastic grocery bags swinging from iron hooks. They were pale and ghostly like cobwebs floating in corners, and the lanes were jarringly quiet and still. Sheet-white cake frosting was gray in the dimness. Everyone’s skin crawled with the bloodcurdling ksssssssh of misters spraying drops of water on chartreuse heads of lettuce in the produce section.

creak

“So,” said Starling, “I wrote down all the stuff we need on a sticky note. Lemme-oh, looks like I wrote down five of them. Anyways, we need to find some-”-she checked her list-“-sparklers, toilet paper, stump remover, kitty litter, clay, tissue paper-”

“To make fireworks?”

“Absolutely right. Let’s move.”

* * *

A white, crystalline sand sizzled in a pan over a crackling fire of newspaper and plywood. It was white granules of stump remover poured from the dark brown nozzle, mingling with translucent crystals of granulated sugar. As it heated in the skillet, Starling tore a square of toilet paper into strips and twisted them in her fingers.

“What are you making?” Daffodil asked.

“More fuses.” Starling took out a box of matches. They were flat and wooden like toothpicks, topped with heads of bright red phosphorus sulfide. She scraped away the reddish material into a cup, and then shook the cup of scrapings into a bowl of red, waxy liquid like tomato soup. After adding a dash of water and stirring it some more, she dipped the fuses in the mixture, rolling them to apply an even coat, and set them on a paper towel to dry. “That should be the last of them. I’ve only got some more of each to make.”

She leaned over to look in the skillet. The sugar was beginning to turn brown.

She stirred some sparkler coating with a spoonful of powder from a near-empty black bottle and moistened it with water until it stuck together in a sticky black ball. Stars for the roman candles, a recipe for balls of fire. She put it with the others on a plate, and stirred the powder in the skillet. The sugar was beginning to turn into sticky caramel, and the granules were beginning to liquefy.

“Just finish making the last of those,” she told Aaron. He was taking the stars-the balls of sticky black-from the plate and dropped it into a toilet paper tube rolled with a yellow layer of masking tape. It stuck to the film of tissue paper. A wispy fuse stuck out the top. He added another coat of tissue paper and added another spoonful of black powder, about an inch of it. More tissue paper. Another star. Tissue paper. Powder. Tissue paper. Star. Tissue paper. Powder. Tissue Paper. Star. Rinse, wash, repeat.

The sugar and granules had melted. She poured most of it on foil to harden, and the rest into another toilet paper tube covered in aluminum foil, the last smoke bomb fountain. The aluminum foil would make the sparks fly up and spray out the top. Just a few more firecrackers. She rolled paper around to get a thin peppermint-stick shape, then plugged the bottom with clay and spooned in more black powder and a fuse. She sealed it with crinkly tissue paper and twisted the ends like a candy wrapper. A delicious sweet of fiery death.

Aaron had finished the roman candles. The smoke bombs had cooled.

Starling’s footsteps clattered across the streets. She planted them like flower seeds in the cracks and gaps where the empty spaces were. Smoke fountains lined the curbs and lamp poles wore necklaces of firecrackers as more popped from cracks in grates like tissue-paper-wrapped fingers. Cakes of smoke bomb cobbled porches like chalky cookies and sunned themselves on trash cans and roman candles were propped up with rocks between the yellow lines painted on the road and smooth cement driveways. Wiry fuse connected them like vines, like veins pumping between cells and vessels and arteries. A web, waiting, holding its breath, to be ignited. A network of fireworks made from powder and toilet paper tubes wrapped in sparkly tissue paper.

Starling was sitting on a roof. In one hand she had a wine glass of chocolate milk, cool and glassy and foaming with undertones of rich violet, and in the other a lighter.

click

An iron wick pricked a honeyed droplet of flame.

tsssssss

A spark began travelling down the fuse, spitting needled flares of golden heat, burning away the metal coating to the core, leaving behind a frayed husk.

tssssss

It caught the waxy, twisted fuse of a firecracker.

tssssss

The evening was cool and soft like moss, a dusky azure like peacock feathers. The air seemed to press on your skin and smooth over lungfuls of moist air, dipping everything in a calm blue haze that plugged worry bubbling the heart like acrid springs in buttery thickness. It was a lovely night to be out. An even better night to watch the fireworks.

PEW

PEW

PEW

PEW

The first tier of firecrackers exploded, popping like popcorn in golden flares of fire and sparks as the tissue paper was blasted apart into ash that lit up with embers and floated through the air like pollen. A wave of small, sharp booms rippled through the air.

PEW PEW

BOOM

PEW PEW

PEW PEW

BOOM

The pavement flashed red. Balls of flame flashed like snaps of static as they boiled up from drainage grates like geysers and sizzled from street lamps. Fire seared the cement sides of buildings and licked across the black asphalt.

PEW-PEW-PEW

PEW-PEW-PEW

PEW-BOOM

TSSSSSS

The sparklers bloomed with lightning petals that crackled as they burned, light sizzling from the tips and hissing in the damp air with a fizz like freshly poured soda, raining sparks on the pavement in red-hot metal filings and burning sprinkles.

PEW-PEW-PEW-PEW-BOOM

PEW-PEW-PEW-PEW-BOOM

BOOM BOOM BOOM

CRACKLE

KSSSSSSSSH

The smoke bombs had been lit. They flickered with purple flames that licked over the caked surface and melted the crust of stillness, ballooning with clouds of colored smoke. The smoke billowed through the air like water and made the air ripple with color as it flavored the sparks flying from blooms of firecrackers and the florets of sparkler, in hues of sweet strawberry and plum.

PEW-PEW-BOOM-PEW-PEW

PEW-PEW-BOOM-CRACKLE-CRACKLE

KSSSSSSSSH

KSSSSSSSSH

KSSSSSSSSH

KSSSSSSSSH

The fuses burned away, and the smoke bomb fountains exploded in florid geysers, in crackling sprays of smoke and red-hot threads, that arced from the mouth of aluminum foil and drizzled onto the flagstones. Plumes of colored smoke mingled with the dyed clouds from the smoke bombs and flooded the air as they swirled around the popping firecrackers. 

Starling swirled the chocolate milk and took a long draught. It was cool and creamy and had faint notes of sulfur.

PEW-PING-PING-PEW-BOOM

PEW-PING-PING-PEW-BOOM

KSSSSSSSSH

PSSSSSSSSH

CRACKLE

SCREEEEEEE

The tubes of roman candle. They sent fire-tipped rockets flashing into the stars, screeching and sizzling against the atmosphere, bursting in balls of fire and glowing streaks tipped with stardust. They bloomed like flowers against the stars and lit up her eyes and shook her insides.

BOOM

CRACKLE

POP-POP-POP-POP

WHIZ

BOOM BOOM

PEW-PEW-PEW-PEW

SCREEEEEE

BOOM BOOM

CRACKLE

They transformed the mellow blue world of the post-apocalyptic evening into a flaring light show, the delicious fizz in the blue raspberry soda. The thrills that throbbed through her heart and made her soul buzz with the adrenaline pumping through her veins. Glowing neons rippled over her skin, like starlit ocean waves licking over sandy shores, as sparks burned in her hair like fireflies. It was like floating in the ocean of space, swaddled in vacuum, looking on as stars collide in lethal glory, bleeding burning pulses of red-hot ice and broken slices of moon, chunks of meteoroids stinging over your cheeks. A few drops of blood mingle with the starlight. Debris crashes into planets and splits them at the seams, snapping their rings like record disks, shattering into burning gas and fragments of ice, spilling their broken bones into the stars and flagrant nebulae as stardust floats between your locks and catches in the flyaways.

PEW PEW PEW PEW WHIZ

CRACKLE BOOM

A smile as someone swirled chocolate milk in a wine glass.

The eye of a hurricane, a hurricane she’d formed with her own hands out of thunderclouds and fire.

Glorious.


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Sun Apr 26, 2020 11:01 pm
ShadowVyper wrote a review...



Heya BlackThorne,

Shady here with a review for you this fine Review Day, courtesy of team Slytherin! Let's get started...

Daffodil’s bones buzzed as the polyurethane wheels hummed over the pavement. Starling was pushing the cart and Aaron walked alongside.


Interesting names! It instantly makes me wonder about your world, in which names like Daffodil and Starling are considered appropriate names, but you also have an Aaron. It seems a wee-bit inconsistent unless you have that background written in in earlier chapters. Which is totally possible since I'm starting in so late! Still, an interesting thing I noticed right off.

~ ~ ~

I've got a couple of big, over-arching comments for your chapter.

1) Maybe work to balance the dialogue and action better in the first half of the chapter? I was trying to think up examples for you on what I mean by this since the first bit of your chapter started with dialogue, then description, then dialogue -- with next to no interaction between the two. And as such it was making the dialogue seem a bit canned and the action not be overly engaging.

But then after the chapter-break, you completely flipped that! You did an awesome job of associating dialogue with the description in the second half of this chapter. So I don't think you necessarily need examples from me on what I mean (though feel free to ask if you do! I'm happy to talk about anything I say here with you!) but maybe just have it pointed out that you need to work on that in future drafts?

2) The probably biggest thing that stood out to me was all of your usage of onomatopoeia. Used in moderation, it's a WONDERFUL literary device and can be really impactful. However, I think you over-do it. When you first started writing it my brain was processing it how it's intended, hearing the sound that goes along with the word, but then when you repeated the creak creak creak over and over my brain started to ignore it -- and by the end when you had multiple lines of it all in a chunk, and especially when it was written in ALL CAPS, my brain frankly started glossing over it.

I think in order to be properly effective it has to be used in moderation, and this was a big heavy-handed. So, I definitely would recommend finding some other ways to describe the sounds you're wanting to convey here. And don't be reliant on sound alone! Throw in some other senses, too. I tend to find that the stories that engage multiple senses (hearing, vision, smell, taste, touch) are more satisfying to me overall.

But you do have an interesting premise! Making fireworks?! HOW COOL! I really enjoyed that part of your story! Maybe just tone back the things I mentioned, but overall, awesome story! Great job!

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)

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BlackThorne says...


thanks for the review! the only thing really behind the name choice was needing to call them something. I'll probably change them if I think of something else.



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Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:50 pm
Carlito wrote a review...



Hello there! Happy Harry Potter review day! It's about time we got this out of the green room :)
I apologize that I haven't read the previous installments, so I'll be looking at this as a part of a greater whole.

Without the context of the rest of the plot, I'm not going to comment on any plot things, but there are two writing things I noticed in this chapter.

First, I thought all of the sound interludes were a little distracting at times. Especially in the first scene with all of the creaking. Do we need all of that creaking or is there a way to show that in a different way. Maybe "the floor creaked as we...." or "a door creaked behind us". Things like that to add a little variety and also show a little more about what is creaking.

Second, boy do you describe!! As someone who always has to go back and add in more descriptions, I can tell that you really spent a lot of time and thought on your descriptions!! Now, what I want you to be mindful of is that you're not overdescribing or getting into purple prose. With purple prose the writing gets so descriptive and the descriptions are so long and over the top that it kind of takes away from the scene and is distracting to the reader. Description is great. Over description is distracting.

I thought it got a little purple at times. Such as:

The slotted steps shunted up the track, like silver fish swimming upstream. The rubbery railing looped around the conveyor like a rubber band, turning and turning in an endless ellipse, as the black-bristled brushes at the edges crinkled, brushing the steps as they bubbled from the floor and flowed skyward. Glowing green flashes filled the gaps between them at the bottom like pools of mountain dew, foaming with a silent static. The steps were striped like corduroy and folded over each other like laundry.


That's not the only place I noticed it, but that's just one example that stood out to me.

The firecracker stuff at the end was fun!! I hope you keep working on this story! Please let me know if you have any questions or if you'd like feedback about something I didn't mention :D

#TeamRavenclaw




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Sun Apr 26, 2020 10:49 pm
Elinor wrote a review...



Hi BlackThorne!

My name is Elinor, and I'm representing the great Slytherin house to give your story a review. Just as a heads up, I haven't read your previous chapters, so there may be some context I'm missing.

I have to say that I really enjoyed your chapter, and am curious about where your story is going after this. My dad's dog is actually named Daffodil, so I couldn't help but imagine her when I was reading. That's not your fault obviously though, it's just funny to me. I like how you build your world and I thought your pacing was very well done as well.

The main thing I wanted to comment on is that I thought having all of the sounds written out got to be a bit much. After a certain point, the reader will understand, and I found it to be disruptive of the pacing that you had going. I would also watch the way you punctuate your dialogue. It's mostly correct, but this stood out to me.

“Um, yeah of course.” said Daffodil quickly. “That's, uh, dangerous, right. Yeah, I could walk for a little bit. My blisters aren’t too bad. It’ll be good to give them some air.”


There should be a comma after "course", and your quote, not a period, since the dialogue itself and the tag is one complete sentence.

Overall, nice work! Hope you've had a magical day. Keep writing and slither on.

All the best,
Elinor

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Tue Mar 31, 2020 6:35 pm
Necromancer14 wrote a review...



Fireworks are always fun. This was another interesting chapter!

Here's my review:

Okay first of all, I liked this chapter a lot, but I feel like you spent to much time on describing the fireworks. I mean, descriptions are always good, but you don't want tons and tons of them, because it bores the reader. That being said, the descriptions were actually super-duper good; there were just too many of them, like I said already.

“Why are we going here?”
“Well, I feel like it’s our best bet for getting black powder substitute.”
“The gunpowder?”
“It’s not gunpowder, it’s, yeah it’s gunpowder. Also matches.”


This is both realistic dialogue and it's funny. Good job.

Hats and clothes with the whispered from iron racks that smelled of lint.


"With the whispered?" I believe that this is a typo of some kind.

like silver fish swimming upstream.


You've used this simile several times already. I would recommend using it once, maybe twice, but it gets repetitive after three or four times.

The evening was cool and soft like moss, a dusky azure like peacock feathers. The air seemed to press on your skin and smooth over lungfuls of moist air, dipping everything in a calm blue haze that plugged worry bubbling the heart like acrid springs in buttery thickness. It was a lovely night to be out. An even better night to watch the fireworks.


A very nice paragraph! This is extremely good descriptions.

The first tier of firecrackers exploded, popping like popcorn in golden flares of fire and sparks as the tissue paper was blasted apart into ash that lit up with embers and floated through the air like pollen. A wave of small, sharp booms rippled through the air.


This is when you started running away with the descriptions. You only need a couple paragraphs, not seven. Also, I like all of your "creak creak creaks" and "Pew Pew Pews," but you wrote the "pew" ones too many times I think. Like with the descriptions, it gets boring after a while.

Anyway, that's my review! I hope it was helpful.




BlackThorne says...


thanks for the review! yeah, this was for nanowrimo, so there's a lot of filler XP I'll keep your comments in mind as I cut. also, as for the "silver fish swimming upstream" repeat, if you look carefully you'll notice the whole description of the escalators throughout the entire work is copy and pasted. it's meant to sound intentional, but again, as this was for nanowrimo, it was mostly meant to be less work for me lol




“A good book isn't written, it's rewritten.”
— Phyllis A. Whitney, Guide to Fiction Writing