Photo by Kenneth Parker
Ok; so now that I'm done posting story after story; I'll wait and write a real post about things.
Life sucks. It's busy and tiring and I feel like small weights are crushing me and obstructing me from the real thing.
I have two essays due Thursday, one due tomorrow, a portfolio due next week, and two articles. One due by tomorrow and the other by Sunday.
Please. Shoot. Me.
I guess; of course; life could be worse, but whatever.
I'm lonely. I want to cuddle. I want a lot and I ask for nothing. It's messed up.
I guess that's the life of a graduating senior in college though. Scary.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Instructions: Create a 2 page short short/sketch/section of a story that is based on a classic myth or fairytale.
I was sitting in the library looking through numerous books. It had to be here somewhere; it couldn’t be something that was just a dream. There needed to be something more on the whole thing. I was determined to find anything; a hint, a story, some kind of newspaper article. There had to be something. I closed the large book of stories about Native American legends and then the one next to it about Romanian folktales. I then pulled over the small viewing machine that I borrowed from the library to view newspaper slides. I went through hundreds that night; one right after the other. I was woken up about two hours later, the librarian nudging me to wake up and leave. She told me she’d hold all my books and newspaper articles for me if I wanted to come back in the morning. I told her thanks and grabbed my coat.
I knew that I would find nothing until I really started to delve into things that weren’t in the library. I would have to find something, or someone to talk to. I pulled up my collar as I walked and let the cold air swirl into my lungs. The streets of Boston were never safe at night; but I guess walking down two blocks wasn’t so bad. The street lights were in full bloom and it was comforting to know that cops were patrolling most of the time. I just needed to get home and start pouring over some more resources, basically the internet. That would probably be where I would find the most interesting and even the most believable stories. A lot of people think that stories you see on the internet are all fake; but there can be some truth behind the stupid stories that some people post on there.
I went to bed that night wanting to thinking nothing of the woman screaming the alley way. She was so sad, even if she was a hooker. I guess that her red skirt and tube top had given her away. Or maybe it was the growling hairy figure that haunted my waking thoughts that had really given me the encouragement to find out what it was. I had some clues and they might help. I looked at my list before I slept so it ran through my dreams as well.
1. The color red seems to have some kind of symbolism
2. The creature growled, like a wolf
3. Happened on a Wednesday night
4. Multiple missing persons have been reported in the last month
The list went on and on and it was the only thing that reeled through my head all night. I was sure that I had heard of something like this before. I woke up the next morning to knocking on my door.
“Jimmy? Ah you awake? Come on its Gina! Open the fecking door; you said yous was gonna watch Julia fa me taday,” she pounded on the door again and I could hear Julia in the back ground.
“Ma, whens Uncle Jimmy gonna open the door? I gotta pee and my feets ah hurtin’ me,” I could hear her little hand smack the door as she started to create a ruckus too. “Uncle Jimmy! Open da door!!! I gotta pee and I wanna watch Dora!!”
I slipped on my jeans from the night before; forgetting a shirt and unlocked the door. Gina was a good friend of mine, who got knocked up by some asshole. I took care of Julia for her all the time. She was a good kid and I really liked Gina enough to know that she appreciated it more than she said.
“Hey Gina, how ya doin’?” I leaned over and kissed her cheek. She smiled up at me and I bent down to grab Julia. “Hey there baby girl. You ready fa a great day. I gotta great plan fa taday. We’re gonna hit up the library. Uncle Jim’s got some readin’ ta do.”
“Aww, but Uncle Jimmy, I was gonna watch Dora! And den I was gonna ask yous to read a story to me! I brought ova Little Red Ridding Hood! It’s supposed ta be wicked good,” she grabbed the book out of her book bag and held it up to me. I took the book from her and it dawned on me. I sat down and I looked up at Gina. She shook her head and kissed Julia good bye.
“Don’t you drag her too much inta ya little fairy tale world Jimmy. You know she got a big imagination and she’s just like you and gets really inta things. Dora’s easier…especially compared to da things you like to play around with,” she walked out the door and shut it behind her.
I took out the book again and noticed the Big Bad Wolf on the front and the frightened little girl in the red hood. It wasn’t like I’d never dealt with anything like this before. I mean I was a well read man; a scholar of the supernatural. It was something that I really prided myself on too. I felt Julia tugging on my pant’s leg.
“Yeah baby girl?”
“I saw dis man walkin’ down the street dis mornin’. He was big and furry and looked like he needed a good hair cut. He even hada tail! But my ma didn’t believe me. I swea, he looked jus like a freakin’ wolf!”
“Watch ya mouth Julia, or there’ll be soap in it da next time you wanna mouth off.”
“Yes Uncle Jimmy…you do believe me though dontcha?”
“Of course baby girl; of course.”
After all one couldn’t hunt the paranormal and supernatural without knowing a bit of the territory first could they?
Posted by Staci and Kristan at 8:10 PM
Instructions: Write a 2 page sketch/outline/short short/ story section that gives the plan for a magic system in a fantasy world. What are the costs? Who can use magic? How is magic thought of/used? You may come up with a political system or a race instead of a magic system.
I walked downtown, and took a left onto Right St. How ironic, I thought to myself. I guess that was all just a big joke, as most things were around here. I pulled up my collar and walked up to the Korean Barbeque and knocked on the back door. A slot slid back, revealing a pair of red eyes.
“Code word?” the voice was deep and raspy, like a chain smoker.
“Bezoar,” I flipped open my Zippo and tapped my pack of Blacks on my wrist. I pulled out one of the cloves out with my lips and lit it. Taking a long drag off of it I looked at my watch. 11:54pm…I only had about 3 hours. I took another long drag off of my clove and tapped my foot impatiently. I really didn’t have time for this. I blew out the exhaust from my lungs and heard the opening of the locks, the sliding of the latch and the turning of the handle.
A large man in a long robe stood in the doorway and blocked my path. He held out his hand and I extended my arm. He pulled the sleeve of my trench coat and nodded seeing the token of acceptance. A searing brand throbbed on my forearm. It burned and was bothersome. He moved out of my way.
“Ms. Halor, anything I can plan for you while you’re shopping?” he bowed his head as I stepped over the threshold. I handed him my coat and shook out my shoulders.
“I guess that you could order a massage with Thisbe and make sure that there’s a cab waiting for me in about an hour. I’ll be done soon.” I put out the clove in the ashtray near the door and walked down the dark hallway. I looked at my watch again and picked up the pace. I needed my fix and time was really running out.
I finally reached the entrance to the Market. The sound of the entire place hit me at once and put on my sunglasses. The shinning lights from the enchanted ceiling would blind a normal human. There were booths, restaurants, and open aired venders selling their wares. I knew where I was going, and let my feet do their thing, leading me there. My first stop was to see Trek. Trek was my connection to my fix. It was the only way to find it. The Market was only known to people whose families have a background of Magique.
I found Trek’s place easily, I’d been here many times before. I turned my neck to the side and cracked it. I pushed back the curtain and entered the opium den and took off my glasses and looked around at who was partaking today. Malaysia was there, and so was Benito. They were sitting in the back corner smoking out of a hookah, and looked up only briefly looked up and then went back to their conversation. I walked up to Trek and threw down a wad of money and a small black bag.
“Trek…I need a hit. A big one, I’ve got things to do and not a lot of time. Hook me up?” I tapped my foot impatiently, my arm itching the whole time.
“Oh, Anissa, hey…I was expecting you,” he looked at the stack of twenties and the bag of gems, “man you really do need a fix huh? Come on let’s go.”
He took my hand and led me into the back. It was clean, despite the outer appearance. It was almost like a tattoo parlor, sterile looking and something you wouldn’t expect to find in a hole like this. I followed Trek into the back and was in the chair waiting before he even got the tourniquet out.
“You really should watch yourself. You’re going to get really addicted and it’s just going to start eating away. You know the stories, the price, everything…yet you still come to get your kicks.” He measured out the correct amount of Magique and tapped the side of the syringe. I braced myself for the initial pain of the needle and then sighed as the viscous fluid flowed from the glass container, into my veins.
My body reacted the way that it always did and I shook a little and gripped the chair tightly. The energy flowed through my veins with the Magique. I felt the rush and opened my eyes. Everything was always so much clearer when you had a hit. This one was good, it would last me at least a good 3 weeks. I’d need it to deal with Christopher.
So many people, like Christopher, didn’t understand Magique. There was a deep seeded need for the world to have Magique. It was something people were born with, even though it had died out. It had to be in your family’s history to actually be used. Magique was not something for learning any more. The Elders had established a way to harness the Magique and made it into a substance that could be manipulated. Stupid teenagers made it the new fad. If you had a Magique bloodline, then you would find a way to get it. Magique was traditionally ingested; but with the world moving as it did, people needed a faster hit. That’s when injecting it started, and that’s when I started getting Magique injected. The times changed and the fads kept coming; first it was injecting, and then huffing it, followed by taking pills, smoking it, and finally tabs.
It was like the drug syndicate that only the privileged knew about, it was something that was kept from normal society, especially after the Hunt. The Hunt was to track down the witches and wizards and kill them for being different. True, some were evil and used Magique for their own selfish purposes. It was a plague on the Earth that needed to be stopped and that’s what some of us were trying to do. That’s why Magique cost so much. That’s why you needed to go underground for it. That’s why I was so intent on harnessing it for a greater purpose. Like getting rid of scum, scum like Christopher.
NOTE: This was continued on and made into a longer story. I will post this later to display what kind of short story it developed into.
Posted by Staci and Kristan at 8:04 PM
Instructions: Write a 2 page sketch/short/section of a story in which a central character or idea is a mythical creature. Try to pick something new and different.
Kimiko Narastka was heading home from work on Friday night. Her apartment was only 20 minutes away from the club on foot and about 10 minutes by taxi on rainy days. It was on the outskirts of the Roppongi district of Tokyo. She had to bring sneakers with her, since the heels she wore for work, were not ideal to walk in, but tonight it has been ‘school girl’ night and so she wore an old school uniform to work, and decided her sneakers would suffice for the outfit. Kimiko worked at the “Happy Grabby Club” in the night life district. “Happy Grabby” (or HG for this story) was a night club and a strip club. It didn’t make her happy where she worked; but it was better than some of the women’s jobs.
She was lucky and was a bartender and waitress. She was the one who walked around in a skimpy outfit and brought business men their drinks. She was harassed constantly, and treated like an object. She wasn’t one of the dancers though; one of the Untouchables. Untouchables were the women who got treated like goddesses. They were highly paid and were expensive just to look at. They wore almost nothing and danced on stage. It was a disgrace, but they liked the pay; it was very good. Kimiko had never wished to be one of the Untouchables; it was sometimes a risky job. Men would become obsessed with them, follow them home, and sometimes rape them if they got the chance.
Life had been good for Kimiko in the last few months. She’d gone to school to become a chemist or a doctor, and this was the result of plummeting economy. She did get paid well too, for what she did, but she had to lie to her family back in Takayama. It was something she hated doing and something that she hoped to get out of as soon as possible. She would go home after working all afternoon and all night and fill out more applications and would then sleep until the start of the next day of work at 3pm. It was a hectic life, and it was tiring, but it was work, and she’d rather be tired than homeless.
She thought about what hospital she would apply to tonight, when she rounded the corner and bumped into a large group of Americans who smelled of sake and cigarette smoke. She kept walking, knowing how to handle most people in this district and instinctively placed her hand in her bag and grasped the canister of mace. This was a gift given to most of the HG workers when they started there. She bowed her head a little in politeness and kept walking through them. She only stopped when one of the drunkards grabbed her short skirt and tugged on it, saying something she wasn’t sure of. They spoke English and she’d only learned so much that she didn’t care to remember. She pulled her skirt out of the man’s hands and when they all stopped she pulled out her canister of mace and held it up. “Please, leave me alone. I just want to go home; I’ll yell and get a police officer over here!” She backed away slowly from them and hoped they spoke or understood Japanese.
Most of the men stopped and walked on their way, but the one who had grabbed her skirt stood there. He was tall and large and very drunk. Kimiko kept the can of mace in front of her and kept backing up. All of a sudden a woman Kimiko knew from the club walked around the corner. She was one of the most beautiful Untouchables. She was tall, for a Japanese woman, and she wore her long black hair like the geisha used to in the old days and kept it tucked away. She had a sun dress on and flat shoes, so as not to add to her height. The most spectacular thing about her was her grey eyes. She almost looked as though she’d stolen them from someone.
“Good evening Narastka,” she bowed her head and looked at the American, “is this man a friend of yours?” Her name was Haruka Oneska, and she was perfect. She walked to Kimiko’s side and stood there, like they were old friends. She patted her shoulder and told the man in English something. She then looked down at Kimiko and told her she could head home and that she’d make sure that the man would find his way as well. I nodded and put my mace away, “Are you sure you’ll be alright Oneska-sama? Do you wish me to stay?” Kimiko did not want to leave her here by herself with this pig of a man. She smiled again and winked and shooed Kimiko off.
Haruka led the drunken American man into a dark alley. She flirted with him and he tried to make his move on her. She put her hand up to stop him and asked him why he would frighten a young girl like that. He chuckled to himself and slumped against the wall. She nodded her head and grabbed the man by his shirt. “Listen to me you filthy son-of-a-bitch. I’m going to teach you and your bastard friends what happens to you if you mess with women here.”
At this she took her hair out of its tucked spot and let it fall down over her shoulders. It shone in the street lights, like obsidian whips, at the tips, hung delicate metal barbs, rusty with dried blood. Her eyes flared up, red and sinister and her face went pale. The man looked in fear at the creature that stood before him. Her fanged mouth was agape in laughter as the man started to scream. She shut him up by wrapping her long, tendril like hair around his throat, instantly muffling his screams. She pulled him up, his feet hanging 3 feet off the ground and stared at him. “Think I’m still funny now? I’m going to enjoy ripping you to pieces.” She said this as she stuck her first barbed curl into his gut, laughing at the macabre waterfall of blood.
The newspapers were livid the next morning, a surprising story awaited everyone.
A mysterious death has been reported this morning. An American’s body has been found in the Roppongi district. A trash man found the American, or what Police assume was the American man that had gone missing last night. He was found in pieces near the night life district. There are still no leads as to who might have done this.
Haruka put the morning’s paper down and picked up her tea cup and sipped it slowly as she chuckled to herself.
Note: The Harionago is the creature that I used here. Like I said, she's a creature who has barbed hair and finds men and laughs at them. If they laugh back at her, she rips them apart with her deadly dreds of doom.
Posted by Staci and Kristan at 7:57 PM
Instructions: Write a 2 page sketch/ short short/section of a story that is set in our world, but has one (and only one) fantastic element.
I gathered all of my stuff into a box and sighed heavily as I left my small cubical. People waved shyly to me as I stalked towards the elevator and my exit. OUT OF ORDER graced the doors and I kicked them angrily. I moved to the left and awkwardly opened the doors to the stairs. Fifteen flights, a stubbed toe and broken picture frame later I reached the lobby to find the elevator repair men getting off of the fixed elevator. I hurriedly walked out the front doors, ignoring the cute secretary saying good bye to me. As I left the building, I turned around to flip it off and spit on the front step. I shuffled off to the back lot to get my car and head home, only to see it getting smashed from behind by none other than Mr. Packard, my old boss, not knowing how to drive his over priced, over loud and ridiculously huge Escalade. I ran over to his window and pounded on it, with my free hand.
“Yes William? Can I help you? I’ve already sent your insurance company your termination papers,” he said rolling his tinted window down.
“For the last time, my name is CEDRIC! Could you not see my car? You just hit it and destroyed my bumper! What are you going to do about it?”
He tapped his ringed finger impatiently on the steering wheel of his gas-guzzler and handed me a $20.00 bill. “Here you go William,” he put the money in my hand and drove away.
“IT’S CEDRIC YOU ASS HOLE!!!!” I screamed as he peeled out of the lot.
I knew it was in vain and so I just kicked my bumper and threw my things in the backseat and pulled out of the parking lot. My bumper scraped the entire way home and I got a ticket for causing a disruption too. Today was the day that one would usually want to just drive their car off a bridge. I knew that when I got home though, my girlfriend would be waiting for me. She would probably complain about me losing my job, the apartment would be a sty and she’d probably be drunk. I sure knew how to pick them.
I parked my car in the small lot next to the apartment building and locked it and took my box of crap up stairs. I found the door locked and so I dug my keys out of my pocket and opened the door. I could hear something coming from the bedroom and my heart sank…she wouldn’t, would she? I confirmed my fears when I opened the bedroom door and there on top of my girlfriend was none other than my boss. I walked out of the room, not even bothering to stop them and I gathered the few things that I really wanted and left. I drove anywhere, and I stopped at a hotel for the night to sleep and collect my thoughts. There weren’t many and I was tired so I fell asleep quickly.
I woke up to the sound of the phone and scrambled for my glasses. I put them on and looked at the clock. It was 4:45am and the warm room had me groggy still. I picked up the receiver and rubbed my eyes under my glasses.
“Hello?” I spoke softly and annoyed into the phone. “Who the hell is calling me this early?”
The voice on the other end of the line was smooth and clear, a woman’s. She was lively and yet soft and she spoke like we’d known each other for years.
“Good morning, Cedric. My name is Charlene. I have important business matters to discuss with you. Would you please meet me at 700 Ashe St. at 9 am today? If you choose not to, I can assure you that you’ll regret it. Please come exactly at that time,” she hung up after those last words and I sat dumbstruck with the phone still in my hand for a few minutes, before hanging back up and laying my head back down. Who would want to meet with me? I hadn’t even put out new applications or resumes yet.
I fell back asleep, setting the cheap hotel alarm clock for 7:30am. I would wake up and shower and all the usual, before going to this meeting. What else did I have to lose? The short dream I had when I slept was strange. I dreamt of winged people, flying all over the city instead of taking busses and driving cars. I was the only one not flying though, the loner and the weirdo among the strangers. It was like it had been and how it would continue to be.
The buzzing of the alarm woke me from my flightless dream and I tumbled out of bed and made for the shower. I scrubbed my face and wondered again if the phone call had just been part of the dream and whether or not I should go. I figured I’d go and check and if it looked like a scam I’d turn right around and stop before I made a fool out of myself. I put on my best suit coat and tied my tie up nice and clean and headed out. I had plenty of time before the meeting, or whatever it was that I needed to get to was, so I stopped for coffee. I went to a café that I’d gone to before, when I worked for the other office and I saw the secretary, Amy sitting at the counter. I sat a few seats away from her and ordered a large decaf and started to sip it. I knew she wouldn’t recognize me, no one ever did and I might as well have been invisible to them.
“Cedric?” I heard her melodic voice address me and I looked over. “It is you, how are you?”
She was always nice, but I thought she was just trying to move up in the company ranks and so I never really noticed anything. I smiled at her and waved shortly. She moved over to sit next to me and the smell she wore was intoxicating. I’d never actually noticed how pretty she was, since I’d only really ever passed her twice a day. She patted my hand and smiled at me again and slipped a piece of paper into my hand.
“Call me sometime ok?” she walked out of the café and got into her car. I smiled too and got up leaving my payment and went to head over to the address the woman had given me. I got in my car and put the piece of paper Amy had given me into my suit pocket and headed over to Ashe St.
I pulled into the parking lot next to the building and was stopped by a valet. He told me that he would take my car and park it for me and to have a nice day. I had never been treated that nicely before, it was refreshing. I walked up to the huge front doors to find a man dressed in a nicely tailored suit and had slick black hair. The building was all polished black stone on the outside, but on the inside it was like walking into a cave. There was a waterfall on the left that fell into a pool that looked like it had gold coins in the bottom and there were stalactites and stalagmites everywhere. Inset lighting came down from everywhere and it was lushly furnished with leather seating everywhere. It was the swankiest cave I’d ever seen. I walked up to the giant polished desk of driftwood and addressed the woman at the front. She looked up at me with a smile and pointed towards some towering doors at the end of lobby without saying a word.
I walked through the doors and was immediately greeted by a slight woman who didn’t even come to my shoulders. She grabbed my arm and spoke as we walked, “Cedric, I’m Charlene; the woman you spoke with on the phone,” I recognized her smooth tone and nodded. “Before we inspect you, we will have you properly dressed and done up.” A group of other women came over and started taking my suit coat and checking it, when I tried to tell them that there was an important number in there, Charlene walked over and took the piece of paper. She took out a slim cell phone and imputed the number into it and closed it, throwing the paper in a nearby fireplace.
For a few moments I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and they trimmed my hair, put me in a chic suit and equipped it with a silk tie. I’d never looked better and I was lead out of the room to the next one. A small chirping noise reached my ear and I saw Charlene put a hand up to her ear and she started talking in a soft whisper in what didn’t sound like English. She nodded and looked at me quickly and said something else in the foreign tongue, French maybe? I followed without question and I kept up with Charlene through out the entire trip. Each room we went through was different; some were like giant lounges, others full of computers and typewriters. It was almost like going through a casino, each room was different and unique, but all part of the same giant complex. We finally reached a long hallway and Charlene stopped me here.
“I need to check and make sure you’re ready to meet the boss. You wait over there and I’ll call you when I’m ready for you to meet him. Understood?” She didn’t wait for my answer and walked towards the large black steel doors at the other end. About two seconds after she closed the doors a man walked through the ones we’d come through minutes before. He walked over to me, dressed as all the others here and nodded to me.
“If you could have one super power what would it be?” he waited for my answer patiently. I thought about it for a minute and told him that it would be flight. He nodded again and left. From another door in the room a young blonde woman came over to me, dressed in a leather business suit.
“If you had to say what the root of all evil was in the world, but something the world couldn’t do without, what would it be?” she pulled down her suit coat and I told her money was something that we couldn’t do without and it was something ran the world. She turned on her heels and walked away.
I started to get confused, was this an interview or a game of Scategories? I didn’t understand what this had to do with the job, but I would go along with it none the less. I stood up a little to fix my suit coat and another person walked up to me, this time it was Charlene again.
“You’ve passed…come with me Cedric. I want you to understand something. Mr. Alastor is not your normal…boss. He’s a little eccentric if you haven’t noticed. There are some rules you must heed,” we walked across the large hallway as she said this. “One, never look him in the eyes, he hates that; two, if he speaks to you, you may answer, but please don’t ask questions; three, there are some things he may ask you to do and you may wonder if he’s crazy, or something of the sort. Get out now if you think you’ll answer no. Understood?” I nodded and followed her through the gaping doorway.
The room was lit with torches and a large fireplace. There were even more plush leather furnishings around this room and the wall was covered with tapestries and wall hangings. There was a large dark wooden desk in front of the darkly tinted window looking out onto the streets from 20 stories up. A tall standing figure was looking out over the view and turned at the sound of Charlene’s heels.
“Ah, Charlene, is this the fresh blood? Good, you may leave,” he nodded to Charlene, who quickly turned and left the room, closing the heavy doors behind her. “Cedric…my boy, please come and have a seat,” he led me to one of the cushy leather sofas in the corner near the fireplace and had me sit.
When he finally sat I saw his face for the first time and I had to cover my mouth to keep myself from shouting. His skin wasn’t anything like a human’s. Scales covered his face which was pointed and sharply angled. The color was reds and coppers and oranges, like a painting. He had two sharp horns curving out of his forehead and no hair graced his head. He wore a fine suit and designer shoes; the only difference was a hole in his suit trousers that allowed a long dexterous tail to swing around back and forth. I looked at the ground quickly, remembering Annalisa’s rules and waited for him to speak again.
“I know what you’re thinking Cedric. Why would I just have you here without knowing anything about you? Why not find someone who I know is good for my company? Well, that’s not the way I work…as I’m sure you can see, I’m not your typical human, am I?” He laughed at his own joke and sat on the sofa next to me, putting a clawed hand on my shoulder. I could feel the scales through my suit and straightened up a little bit.
“Look at me Cedric…it’s alright,” he waited for me to stare him straight in the face before starting his speech again. “I’m obviously not human and you’re obviously made for more. Together we can achieve this. Do as I ask, complete the tasks that I set before you without question and I’ll make sure that dent in your bumper goes away and you’ll be able to take that nice Amy girl out for a proper dinner next week. I’m Dragon-Born; yes you can Google that, this is my humanoid form. Just because of stories though, doesn’t make me evil. I just like having faithful workers helping me and they get what they deserve. What do you say? Are you in?”
He held out his hand waiting for my acceptance or my refusal. He had a coy smile on his face and a gleam in his eyes. I thought about it and remembered how much I hated being treated like a dog by people, running around doing their errands. I took his hand firmly and shook it; I said humans and he wasn’t a human, was he?
Posted by Staci and Kristan at 7:48 PM
Instructions: Write a 2 page sketch/ short short/section of a story that includes as many fantasy cliches as you can manage.
It was a dark and stormy night. The rain poured in sheets and the wind howled. A bolt of lightning illuminated the bleak sky and the soul creature crawling, helplessly away from the smoking rubble. Only a lone cloaked figure that road through the storm towards the destruction was silhouetted on the electricity lit backdrop. The woman dismounted her horse and rushed to the small shape huddled on the ground. Rolling him over, she noticed he was human; a young human boy with shocking black hair and a small scar on his neck. He was the one she’d hoped had survived. Placing the foundling on her steed, she rode off with him back to her tower in the east.
She arrived back at Tiëden Tower, her apprentice waiting for her at the foot of it. She handed her the small boy and told her to take care of him. She knew Eearwim had just lost a boy his age in a terrible raid about six months prior. She knew her maternal instincts would serve the boy well. This tragic event had brought Eearwim to seek out Lady Alasse and her knowledge. The good and powerful sorceress was well known for living the solitary life of a sage. The youngest woman to graduate the Sorcerer’s Academy and top in her class made her a most formidable woman.
She rushed to her study after leaving the boy in Eearwim’s charge. She pulled out seven specific parchments from around the circular room. Each sported a different insignia and had a message already scrawled in elegant handwriting down the center. She flourished her signature on each and magically emblazoned her crest on them to seal them shut. They would not open until the hands for whom they were meant touched them. She then fashioned a spell with her hands, her fingers weaving an intricate design. With this she ended and stared out her balcony awaiting The Summoned.
As she waited her eye caught movement in the skies and a large falcon swooped quietly onto her balcony and bowed its head. She rushed to its side and stroked its great neck lovingly and gave it one of the sealed parchments.
“With haste my dear friend.”
The falcon soared into the night and not seconds after his departure a small pop and cloud of blue dust appeared in the far corner of the room. A minute figure of a fairy hovered in the air and Alasse approached her and handed her the smallest parchment and nodded.
“To your Queen, young one.” she said and the tiny fairy disappeared in a puff of yellow smoke this time.
Alasse started to pace yet again on the hard wooden floor of her study awaiting the arrival of the rest of The Summoned to show up. She knew one would be as late as was possible and reluctant to come at all. There was no escaping the magical brand’s power of recall. He would come, just as it was planned and as it would remain. None could escape the call of the Chosen One and the destiny that befell the entire world now.
A cough interrupted Alasse’s pondering mind. Two figures stood in the door way. One was a bear; a large she-bear, with piercing green eyes and soft brown fur; and the other a young half-elf male. The she-bear was handed her parchment with no words spoken, who then left quickly. The young half-elf bowed lowly on one knee in front of Alasse.
“My most exalted lady, how it pleases me so, to be graced with your presence…”
She raised an impatient hand and silenced his babble.
“Ralgun, your father tried to flatter me and he did not succeed any farther than getting my gratitude for his help and you shall get no further either. Please take this and bring it swiftly to your lord.”
She shook her head as the half-elf bowed his head again and bolted out the door. She smiled slightly to herself and knew his son would grow up to be the same and so on and so forth. It was slightly refreshing, but dull fancy for anyone to desire her. She turned to look at herself in the mirror. She had aged little in the last 40 years of being here, but it was starting to show in her face. Small lines etched her porcelain skin and her red hair did not hold the sheen it once had. She still had her fiery green eyes, set under defined brows.
While she examined herself in the mirror, she felt a drop of water splash on her shoulder and as she turned, saw a small pool of water magically existing in the floor of her tower. A gorgeous creature floated erect and ready there in the magical pool. She was beautiful with pale green skin and long flowing locks the color of the sea itself. The scales of her tail were like an oil spill of color. She was holding a trident and awaiting her orders and the parchment that she knew was meant for her king. Alasse nodded to the mermaid and handed her a small trinket of her room, a feathered pen. She knew that the merfolk adored the charms of the human world. The mermaid dove back into her enchanted pool and it disappeared with her small splash.
With the clatter of hooves below her tower window, Alasse heard the approach of the sixth Summoned. She ran to her armoire and pulled out a small bow and an arrow. She fastened one of the final parchments to the shaft of the arrow and ran to the balcony. She saw the proud stature of the centaur standing and ready at the base of the tower, waiting for his parchment. He had olive skin and a broad chest to which was strapped the harness for his longsword. He lifted his head at the sound of Alasse’s footstep and smiled widely at her. She blushed slightly, knowing her love of the centaurs and their tribes. This one, Branus, held a very special place in her heart, and he always would. She knew that one day their love would be allowed and they would live that happy ending they both dreamed of. She shot the arrow down to him and closed her eyes longingly as he thundered away towards the woods.
She sighed a long a deeply saddened breath and knew she could not steal away a moment for herself in this dire time. She started her pacing again, knowing there were only minutes left in the hour that The Summoned were allotted to return to Tiëden Tower. She knew that this one would show up seconds before the hour had run out and it would by no means be a simple task.
As she thought this a large flash of smoke and fire lit the entire room as if the sun were peeking through the curtained balcony. Rothbart tapped his impatient foot on the floor as if Alasse were the one that had been keeping him.
“Can we get this little get-together over with already? I can’t stand the stench of your kind for more than minutes at a time. Of course this had to happen now. It always happens when you least need it to. Do you really need our help?”
He stared at Alasse and pointed an accusing finger at her. She shook her head and walked across the floor, grabbing the final, darkest colored parchment on her way.
“You really do know how to make an entrance Rothbart, and show up last and with seconds to spare. One of these times you’ll be late and it’ll be over from there and the next in line will take on your honored task.”
“Honored? What the hell does this have to do with honor? I pop up when some ‘Chosen One’ shows up and then we hope we’ll be alright if we help him out. I don’t think so…this is centaur shit and I don’t want any part of it. Why can’t my people just take care of it? For so long, have your fields and villages been kept safe. By the sweat and blood of our people, can you stay up here in your little tower, cowering away your days…no more…give me this Chosen One and I shall show you how to use him against The Evil!”
“No Rothbart. Stop this stupid discourse. Do as you are intended to do and bring the summons to your master. The Summoned do not challenge or question what they are meant to do. They do it and that’s it. Please…there is no time to waste.”
“Alright…this one time…but it’s not the last time you’ll hear that from me.”
She watched him make his dramatic exit and slumped in her chair. She conjured up a cup of hot liquid and started at its languid surface. If only it were that simple…if only there was another way…Alasse let one single tear fall on her determined face. There was no other way.
Posted by Staci and Kristan at 7:36 PM
I tripped over a cup of punch and watched the red wave flow over the beer stained floor. Couples were smoking a bowl in the corner to my right. I found it stupid, the whole party was.
“Jilly Bean! There you are! I’m so glad you’re here,” she ran up to me.
Alice was the reason I’d even shown up. She was a great friend, but a little too social for me. She was in full show tonight. Low cut top, push up bra, tight jeans and heels too high for her. She looked 5 years too old and far too easy. She was a head turner and she enjoyed it.
“You want a drink Jilly?”
“Uh, no…thanks though. I need to drive home.”
“Oh come on Jilly Bean! You’re no fun! Have one drink with me, please?”
“Alright…I’ll have one cup of punch,” I rolled my eyes.
She jumped up and down and ran to the make shift bar at the other end of the living room. She tipped a cup into a huge bowl and poured it into the cup in her hand. She took two shots on her way back and winked at the guy handing them out. Always the flirt, always one to get all the looks.
Alice threw her arms around my neck and told me she loved me. I took the cup from her hand and placed it on the table next to us. I didn’t want to be covered in punch and get in trouble for smelling like the party.
“Alice, I love you too…just watch yourself. You’re going to get punch all over us!” I grabbed her shoulders and shook her a little. She smiled and kissed my cheek.
Alice was drunk; there was no two ways about it. Her boyfriend was no where in sight either. “Figures,” I said to myself. “Flighty as usual.”
Jeff always seemed to step out of the picture at the last second and never show his face till the dust had settled. He usually claimed he was there the whole time and then tried using his suave persona to get himself out of trouble.
I took Alice to a couch near by and scared off some stoned freshman and let her lay down. She asked for her drink, and I knew she didn’t need more. I took the half empty cup she’d set down and drank the rest, not wanting her to get alcohol poisoning.
“Here you go hun,” I said handing her the empty cup.
“Empty…” she sighed and pouted, showing her disappointment.
“I’m going to find us some water, ok?” I stood up and started towards the kitchen.
I reached the dingy, closet sized kitchen and found a fridge. Nothing but more beer packed into every nook and cranny. I also noticed that the beer cans were moving, not because people were taking them, but because they just were. I stuck my hand out and it went right through them. I shook my head and shut the door quickly. It must have been the lighting messing with my vision. I stood up straight and made my way back to the sofa where Alice was.
When I got there, Alice was sleeping and people were talking about how they could fuck with her, since her shoes were still on. I pushed my way through and blocked Alice from the torment that would come of drunk, careless assholes at a stupid party.
“Leave her alone,” I said. Loud. I didn’t usually yell.
Most people left and it was just Alice and I in the small room. I knelt on the floor my jeans growing cold from something damp on the wooden floors. I didn’t bother to look; I just wanted to get Alice and myself out of there, before she really passed out and couldn’t move. “Come on Alice. You need to get up. I’m going to call Phil and have him come and get us,” I grabbed her hand, but it didn’t grip mine.
“Alice please, we need to go,” I took out my cell phone and dialed Alice’s brother’s number. I continued to poke and prod Alice, trying to get her to move. I wouldn’t be able to carry her to the door myself.
“Jill? Hello? You there?”
“Oh, sorry Phil! Yeah, I’m here. You think you could come and pick Alice and I up from the party on Barnes? Alice is being stubborn and won’t get up,” I noticed there was a panicked sound to my voice. Very unlike me.
“Everything ok? You sound worried?”
“Alice is passed out and won’t wake up. My head’s starting to hurt a lot too…I just want to get us both home and out of here,” I was starting to sound hysteric.
“Ok, I’ll be there in 10 minutes. Just stay where you are alright? Don’t move,” he hung up the phone before I said good bye. I didn’t even remember closing the phone.
I looked down at Alice and pushed her hair out of her face, and noticed that no breath was coming from her nose or her open mouth. The light in the house was dim, and it was loud, but her chest wasn’t moving and I could make out a thin film of mucus and vomit on her lips. I stooped down, and everything felt surreal.
I couldn’t hear the party any more and I could barely see Alice’s face. All there was was the taste of salt in my mouth from phantom tears and the throbbing of my head behind my eyes.
I looked around and no one was paying attention. The entire party was continuing on around a dying girl. The world played out the way I’d always viewed it; dumb and uncaring about anything but itself; I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything more. I put my hand on Alice’s face and it was cold…there was no life in her and I couldn’t do anything about it.
I knew my mouth was open and I was screaming for help.
No one stopped.
No one listened.
3 months later…
I pulled on my jacket and shoved my feet into my boots. Today was the one day I had been dreading for 2 ½ months; school. I’d been allowed to shelter myself under my covers for the last couple of months. My mother had figured that it had been enough that I’d seen my best friend die right in front of me. Letting me choose to withdraw myself from school for mental reasons was ok.
I’d formed a mental shell since Alice’s death. It wasn’t like I didn’t miss her, I was just empty. I had let her stay at that party too long; and I hadn’t known what to do when she’d stopped breathing. Her family didn’t blame me, but I could see the resentment in their faces. Their only child taken away by one drug laced cup of punch. It was too much to stomach, and I hated myself for it.
“Mom, where are my keys? I don’t remember where I put them,” I slumped into a chair at the kitchen table and put my head down with a loud thud.
“They’re in the basket Jilly, you sure you don’t want me to drive you to school?”
“No, I’ll be able to make a faster escape at the end of the day if I don’t have to wait for you to pick me up,” I took some ibuprofen and downed a glass of milk with it.
“Well ok then. Keep your chin up Jilly. You know who you are, just remember it,” she patted the back of my head and kissed it.
“I know mom, I just need to believe it. I’ll see you around 2,” I grabbed the keys from the basket on the counter and made my way out to the garage.
I pulled out of the driveway and saw Mr. Cameron raking his front lawn. He saw my car and waved a little and I sped up. I couldn’t face Alice’s family yet. They’d called so many times to talk and asked me over to see how I was. I knew I was being a coward, but I just couldn’t deal with seeing their faces, there were too many memories of Alice there.
As I drove to school, I had flashes of the last couple of months. Everything was a blur, like walking through a fog. I remember crying over a hospital bed, wearing nothing but black for a week, faking a smile at her wake and playing the void at her funeral. I was empty from that point on. Life really didn’t have any kind of meaning to it. I’d watched my best friend die and I’d failed to stop it.
A honking brought me back to reality and I’d noticed I’d been sitting at a waiting green light at the intersection of Chandler and Park. I drove on and pulled over into a gas station and parked my car in the lot. I leaned over my steering wheel and started crying. I couldn’t face an entire school of people who didn’t know the whole story.
Being a social outcast didn’t make me the class favorite and I wasn’t necessarily the bubbliest of people. I’d never really fit in anywhere, until Alice and I became friends our sophomore year in biology class. She was nice and very friendly. We hit it off right away. She would make fun of me for sitting alone at lunch and never joining a single club.
Alice was the middle of most social circles and loved to be the center of attention. She had a new boyfriend each month and was apart of at least 13 clubs at school. She was smart too; something that I figured was a little overkill for someone good looking, popular and friendly. Alice was a piece of work and I loved her for it.
I decided that I’d just skip school again today. I just couldn’t do it yet. I put the radio on the country station. A song that Alice and I used to sing came on and I couldn’t turn it over…it made me smile. I hadn’t done that in a while. I sang along with the lyrics I knew by heart. “But how do you wait for heaven? And who has that much time…” my voice trailed off as a new wave of tears flowed freely from my eyes and my body shuddered. It had been the song I’d chosen for Alice’s funeral, from me to her as one last song together before she went to wherever she was heading to. I knew it was an insult to Alice’s memory to continue to hide from the world, but it was just so hard for me to cope with out her there.
I decided to head over to the park down the street from my house. It was another hang out of Alice’s and mine. We’d go there after school when Alice didn’t have club meetings or cheerleading practice. We’d swing on the swings and talk about the universe. The world always seemed to unfold to the curious when swinging. We had met there the night before the party. It was the last time I’d see Alice the way I liked to remember her. She was nervous about Jeff, her new boyfriend…the prick hadn’t even shown up to her funeral.
I picked a swing shaded by the huge oak that was planted next to the set. I let my feet drag along in the sand and watched a mother pushing her small daughter in one of the baby swings at the other end of the bar. She smiled at me and I plastered on a smile to be polite. That’s all I did now a day. I put on a façade to be nice and make people feel less uncomfortable around me.
I riffled through my bag and felt the cylindrical shape of a pill bottle. Pulling out the tiny orange container I shook the contents. I watched as the baby on the opposite end of the swings cooed and giggled at the sound. If only it were a laughing matter. I’d been prescribed these bullshit pills about 2 weeks after Alice’s funeral. I was told to take two a day…one in the morning and one at night, or as needed. I stopped taking them 3 days after getting them.
I was depressed, desolate of any emotion since Alice was gone, but I wasn’t going to kill myself. I knew that wouldn’t solve anything, but make more grief for my mother and Alice’s family. I’d already caused them enough sorrow; I didn’t need to add another teenager’s headstone to the town cemetery or create be the subject of more tears. I gripped the bottle tightly and started to walk over to the small river that ran through the park.
Everywhere I looked today, I expected to see Alice pop up out of no where and yell at me for skipping school. She would have hated to know that I had missed almost 2 ½ months of class. She would be appalled and rag on me that I wouldn’t get into the Art Institute. My current portfolio mirrored my depression and my longing for my friend.
Every painting, drawing and sketch had to do with Alice. They were all a product of my night terrors. I would relive the night of the party and Alice’s cold, lifeless face and I’d wake up screaming. I would continue to have these horrors haunt my sleep, unless I was drugged to the point of a medical coma. It was only in these drug induced states that I could actual sleep. I suffered since Alice’s death and I was still on the medication.
I moved down the steep bank of the river towards the water. It was choppy today, probably due to the wind. I sat down and trailed my fingers through the swift current. I looked into the grey depths, wishing I could lose myself in them. I closed my eyes and lay back on the grass. It was no use; I wasn’t strong enough without Alice. Life was just too pointless and empty.
I allowed my throbbing head to slip into darkness. I could feel the chill of the wind blow over the water and sweep over my face. It was frigid and I put my arms over my eyes and gave over all control to my mind. Alice’s face faded into focus in my head. She was smiling and beckoning me towards her. I could feel the tears falling down my face as I followed her.
She was floating away and I tried yelling out to her, but couldn’t create any sound. My legs were lead weights and Alice was just moving farther and father away. Her face became scared and pained. Her long hair flowed out from her temples, like she was floating on water, drifting out to sea.
“Jillian, why didn’t you help me? Didn’t you love me? Why didn’t you stop me before it was too late?” her voice was ghostly and distant.
I mouthed my response; I didn’t leave her there to die, and I didn’t know what had happened. I tried to do everything I could. I loved her more than life. No words came to my throat. Alice’s arms stretched out to embrace me and I urged my heavy body forward and got in reach of her pale fingers. Her hands closed around my throat and the pressure was excruciating.
Breathing was no option, I couldn’t loosen her grip on my neck and she was crying. Her face was a myriad of emotions; pain, sorrow, disappointment, betrayal. Her face was the stuff of my dreams, manifested into a single nightmare that was slowly killing me. I tried to scream out and to grab at her murderous hands, but it was to no avail. She was going to kill me, and I should welcome it with open arms.
I felt heavy hands on my shoulders and a sharp tug that pried me from Alice’s cold death grip. She wailed and started to dissipate. I reached out towards her, not wanting her to leave again. I struggled against the force pulling me back. I screamed and I noticed I had found my voice again and the chill on my face was intensified by the sheen of sweat on my forehead.
I looked up to see the young mother from before, leaning over and touching my face. She looked worried and afraid that I’d been having a fit or something. Her cell phone was in her hands and she looked at me again cautiously before speaking.
“Are you alright dear? You were screaming and shaking and it was really hard to wake you up. I thought you were having a seizure. Do you need me to call an ambulance or someone to come and get you?” She looked genuinely afraid for my safety.
“No I’m fine, I’m really sorry. I just fell asleep and had a bad dream. I’m sorry I worried you,” I looked at her little girl. She was bright-eyed and curious. She reached out to me and grabbed at the air in front of me. Her mother smiled and extended her out towards me.
“She seems to like you. Would you like to hold her?”
“Sure…she’s beautiful. What’s her name?” I took her in my arms gently.
“Alice. She’s the light of my life. I love her more than words can say,” the mother beamed and started to glow softly in the face of her child.
“Alice? My best friend’s name was Alice. She was like your little girl; very friendly, beautiful, full of life. You’re really lucky this little one is like that. She’ll grow up to be a good person I’m sure,” I started to mist up and held the baby closer to my chest.
“She really does like you. She really doesn’t take to new people often. You’re a chosen one, that’s for sure,” she smiled again and then looked worried again. “Are you alright? You’re crying.”
“Am I?” I swiped the back of my hand across my face and noticed the moisture streaming from my eyes. I couldn’t control it and I hugged the little Alice tighter. She grabbed a tiny handful of my jacket and snuggled her head deeper into its folds and simply radiated love.
“She’s so precious. My friend Alice, she died a few months ago. I thought my world was going to end without her. Everything just seems pointless and hollow. I was supposed to go back to school today, and I just couldn’t bring myself to face the world without her. She was so essential to my life that it just seemed useless to continue on…” I let my voice fade away, not wanting to wake up the baby.
“My mother died about 5 months ago. She was a wonderful woman and one of my best friends. She taught me that a life that is celebrated is a life that will live on even after its left the vessel that housed it. She died before Alice here was born. I do believe in fate, and celebrating life. My mother was right. Alice has given me a reason to be a good person and a loving mother,” she smiled warmly at me.
“I guess you’re right. Things are just so dark and I feel so deeply lost. I guess I’m just not ready yet,” I sighed and my head dropped.
“Only when you allow yourself to be alright will it start to feel that way. Just remember that your friend wouldn’t want you to live like this, so do her memory a favor and get back into life. Open heart, open arms, open minded. You’ll really be able to celebrate her then,” she placed her hand on the back of the little head rested against my chest.
“Here you go, she’s probably tired enough that she won’t wake up,” I handed her Alice back and smiled at the little bundle. “She’s really a wonderful little girl. You’re so lucky.”
“I know…I can’t imagine life without her. Remember what I said. It’ll help, I promise,” she gathered up Alice and placed her in her stroller. She gave me a little one-armed hug and started off on the path towards the parking lot. She was optimistic in light of such a devastating loss. She was inspiring.
I looked back at the water, and noticed the sunlight hitting it differently. It was no longer grey, but blue-green, like sea glass. You could see the sandy bottom and the life littered edges of the river. It was full of life. A life that continued on with the cycle the entire world was forced into for all of its existence.
I took out the pill bottle again, and popped open the top. I stood up and let the wind ruffle through my hair. I knew that I wasn’t alone and that life would go on. I would miss Alice, but I needed to keep her alive for the person she’d been and not for the way she died.
I took the open container and emptied its contents into the swift river. The little white specks drifted off downstream and they were gone. I knew that it wouldn’t be easy and I knew that I would have to struggle every day to gain the ground I’d had when Alice was alive; but it’d be worth it to help her live on.
I made my way back to my car and stopped to close my eyes one last time at the swing set. I placed my hand on the poles stabilizing the swings in the ground. This would always hold memories of Alice and our friendship. I could always remember her here. It was perfect and I didn’t have to be afraid of sleeping any more. The night terrors would be gone, and in their place would be timid and loving memories of a girl who lived life and loved those in it. “Good bye Alice,” I walked to my car and took out my cell phone. I hit the 4th number on the speed dial and a picture of Alice and her dog making ridiculous faces popped up as the number dialed. I figured I’d stop by the flower shop on the way over to the Cameron’s. Alice always loved tulips and it was springtime; the perfect time for rebirth; a fresh start.
Posted by Staci and Kristan at 7:07 PM