Red Dress Club – A New Road

You can see the prompt from Write on Edge and submit your own by clicking the image below.

I’d also like to mention – I mean no disrespect by using the word Gypsy.  But not using it would kind of take away any level of authenticity from my MC.  After all… what farm boy ‘way back when’ would have known that ‘they prefer Romani’?
  Sam stumbled down the rutted road, shaking in the cold night wind off the plains.

Icy fingers clutched tight at the thin cloth of his coat.  Teeth chattering, he looked longingly back down the road, his entire world out of sight.

The girls would be snug in bed, he knew, their dolls tucked under their arms.  Who’d take care of them now?

He scrubbed at the tears coursing down his cheek and steeled himself.

No going back.  Pa’d always done right by the girls, at least.  They’d be fine.

Sam blew on his hands and broke into a clumsy jog, pain stabbing him with each jarring step.

The moon was nearly set when he saw the fire.  Exhausted and aching, he didn’t try to hide.  They could be murderers as long as they let him die by the fire.

He passed a tree strung up with charms, and even in the thin moonlight, the wagon was brightly coloured and intricately patterned.  Gypsies.

Thieves and murderers, the lot of them, his memory growled in his father’s voice, fetch my gun, boy, don’t dawdle.

Sam shook his head.  Pa’s opinion of good and bad wasn’t very trustworthy.

A branch snapped under his foot and the murmur of conversation around the fire died. One man called out cheerfully,”Ye’re late, lad – what took ye?”

The others around the fire laughed as though the man had made a joke.  Sam sidled forward and smiled cautiously.

“I-you-um…” he stared, wide-eyed, at the motley group and swallowed. “Wha’?”

“She told us to keep dinner.”  a hulking man leaned forward, a wicked scar cutting his face in two, gold teeth gleaming with fire.

A boy about his own age grinned less ominously and added, “Yeah, Shuv’ni shoulda said t’make ye breakfast!”  He nudged the girl beside him, who snorted sourly.

“What do you expect, me reading in a moving wagon?”

Sam blinked at that – Readin’s fer the rich, Pa said.  But what did reading have to do with predicting his arrival?  Magic, his imagination hissed.  He shuddered.

“Come closer, boy, warm ye’self,” an ancient woman with bright birdlike eyes commanded from her rocking chair.

Sam  stepped forward, blushing at the Gypsies’ gasps of dismay.  A woman made a low pained noise, like a kicked dog.  He had a good idea of what he looked like.  Pa never bothered avoiding the face.

The old woman pursed her lips disapprovingly, “Shuv’ni didn’t warn o’ that neither.”

The girl darted forward, grabbing him by the face.  She prodded him everywhere it hurt, making him yelp.

“I need to read the bones,” she muttered, turning away.  Before she disappeared into the wagon she added, “By the by, your ribs’r cracked.  Gran’ll do for ye”

Gran rolled her eyes and said, “Come sit by me, boy.”

“Why… why are you all being so nice?”

The gold-toothed man laughed, tugging a woman out of the shadows.  “We do right by family, don’t we, luv?”

Sam gaped as a ghost from his memories stepped into the firelight.  Wordlessly, the woman hugged him tight.

“Ma?”

This is a pastel and ink drawing by my sister, Doodle. You can see more of her work by clicking the image (it’ll take you to her DeviantArt page). She also blogs over at DrawninandQuartered. I do love having an in-house artist for my stories!

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Write On Edge and Trifecta: It Could Happen

This week, I’m combining the Write on Edge and Trifecta Writing prompts.  Click on the above pictures to take you to one or the other of the sites for this week’s linkup.  Read some of the other submissions, or submit your own, or both.  It’s always interesting to see the many and varied stories that come from the same prompt.

From Trifecta, the following word, whose third definition is to be used in a response between 33 and 333 words:

QUAINT (adjective)

1:  obsolete:  EXPERT, SKILLED
2a:  marked by skillful design <quaint with many a device in India ink — Herman Melville>
b:  marked by beauty or elegance
3a : unusual or different in character or appearance :  ODD
  b : pleasingly or strikingly old-fashioned or unfamiliar <a quaint phrase>

From Write on Edge, we have a quote and a picture to use as inspiration, in any way we choose:

Sometimes legends make reality, and become more useful than the facts.”

~ Salman Rushdie

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

image courtesy of Unsplash, click the picture to go to the site

Shoulders hunched, eyes flitting from object to object, flinching from sudden movement, Jeremy couldn’t help but to slink down the city sidewalks.

The pedestrian sign flashed 30…29… System malfunction, opposite light turns green before walk flashed to hand, the screech of tires as a truck speeding down the street tried to stop, failed, the gasps of horror from onlookers, last thing I hear before the agony of impact.  It could happen.  He licked his lips and waited while others crossed.

A couple came up alongside him.  Their dog sat wagging and grinning at her side.  She caught him staring out of the corner of his eye and smiled.  “He’s quite friendly, you can pet him if you’d like.”

Friendly dog, until I reach to pet him and he jumps up, teeth tearing at my face, hanging on, horrible horrible sensation of weight in his face, hot blood dripping down.  It could happen. Jeremy rolled horrified eyes up to the woman’s, shuddered and jerked his head no.  

A man walked towards him on the sidewalk, hands tucked deep into the pockets of his trenchcoat… pulls out the gun hidden there, I don’t give him my money fast enough, it’s not enough, and an explosion of pain blossoming from the center of my chest, it could happen.  Jeremy plastered himself against the brick and flinched away.

Pidgeons… the plague.  

Fire escape… stairs loose abruptly and collapse on top of me, bones crunching.

Jeremy escaped to the new terrors to be found in the grocery store, bought the food least likely to kill him.

“Hey buddy, wanna try our new granola bar?”

Sudden onset of peanut allergy, choking hazard, contamination, “No!”

The man hawking death-bars grinned.  “Come on, buddy, what’s the worst that could happen?”

Eyes darting between deaths around him, Jeremy barked out a bitter laugh.  “Your world seems so quaint.”  He clutched his purchases tight and escaped, keeping an eye on the shelves that might crush him.

“And yours, so small!” the man replied.

Write On Edge: The Road Ahead

  Write on Edge this week provided a quote and a photo, and I decided to use both for my response to the prompt.  click the link above to go to the prompt page.  Submit your own story (500 words or less), or read some of the other responses.  The quote and image are below.  The picture, I have to say, gives me the willies.  There was a time that farmed lumber could be planted in neat and tidy rows.  It isn’t allowed any more in Canada (I think, anyways), but there are a few such old plantings you might walk through in provincial or national parks – it gives you the oddest sense of wrongness, as every tree in all directions abruptly lines itself up perfectly with every other step you take.  That’s what the prompt this week reminds me of.

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”~ L. P. Hartley: The Go-Between (1953)

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

“The past is a foreign country.”  Marta smiled smugly down at her sister from her perch on the wagon seat.

Natalka scowled and stomped her foot.  “That doesn’t even mean anything!  When you were my age, you got to go to market with Papa, it’s unfair!”

Gregor swung her up in a bear-hug.  “Oh, my little girl, the woods are much darker and more dangerous than they were back then.” he said, “You’ll stay here and keep your mama safe, eh?”  He set her down and swung easily into the driver’s seat and gathered up the reins.  “Remember the rule, my lovely?”

Natalka rolled her eyes and sullenly replied, “always stay behind the fence.”

“Good girl.”  He set the massive draft horses off with a flick and a shout.  As the wagon rumbled through the gate, Marta leaned out of the wagon and stuck her tongue out at her younger sister.

***

Natalka hummed to herself, winding her way through the woods and picking a bouquet of wild flowers.  Intent on finding just the right one to complete her bouquet, she hardly noticed the fence until she hit upon it.  She scowled through the wooden bars, at woodland that looked just like the woodland on her side, but more… something.  There were the same types of trees, the same ferns and shrubs and vines.  The same squirrels and mice rustled the underbrush, the same birds fluttered above, though none would cross the fence.  

And yet, in comparison, the world within the fence seemed drab and gray.  Natalka sighed and chucked a branch over the fence.  Even it seemed more… something… there.

Off in the distance, she heard her name.  Forgetting her anger at being left behind, Natalka squealed in delight at her father’s early return and turned towards the house.

His voice again, calling her name, but this time clearer, and more clearly coming from behind her.  Natalka peered through the slats at the greenery on the other side.  In the distance, she could just make out the road to town, and on it, an occasional glimpse of the cart.

“I’m coming, Papa!”Natalka laughed and slipped through the slats.  She ran through the underbrush, towards his booming laugh.  She was breathless and flush when she stumbled out into the roadway, empty but for a path of logs laid out in a perfectly delightful wave.  Perfect for a little girl to balance on while dreaming of daring adventures.  Her papa called again, and she hopped onto the logs and skipped off in search of him.

***

Marta cried and struggled as she was dragged back to the house.  “I can hear her!  She’s just over there!” she shrieked, clawing at the strong arms wrapped around her.

He set her down gently.  “You only hear what you wish to hear, my little one.  You mustn’t follow the voices, you’d break your mother’s heart.”  Fat tears trickled into his beard.  “Losing you both is more than I could bear.”

Property Lines

This week, we’re picking up with Agata.  You can probably read this one alone, but I’d suggest reading Crush, the previous one in this series of stories, just to be clear on how things got to this point.  If you want to read the entire series, click on the Fiction Tab above, and you’ll find all the links to the story under Which Witch.  As always, let me know what you think – and how you think it ought to be improved!

I’m using the prompt from Trifecta, and from Write on Edge for this.

Trifecta’s word was

MOUTH

1a : the natural opening through which food passes into the body of an animal and which in vertebrates is typically bounded externally by the lips and internally by the pharynx and encloses the tongue, gums, and teeth   b : grimace <made a mouth>   c : an individual requiring food <had too many mouths to feed> 2a : voice, speech <finally gave mouth to her feelings>   b : mouthpiece 3: something that resembles a mouth especially in affording entrance or exit: as
This week on Write at the Merge, the picture of a crumbling castle was what I took as inspiration.
I highly recommend checking out both sites, to submit your own prompt response or to read some of the great responses other people have submitted.

Agata rolled painfully to her feet, scattering debris.  Dust swirled through the maelstrom of berserker barbarians.  Agata caught glimpses of the ogre, green-gray skin covering boulder-like muscles, eerie catseye gleaming yellow in the dimness.

The battle wasn’t going well.  She sighed, narrowed her eyes, and, with intense focus, shook out an imaginary blanket.

As the barbarians painfully clambered to their feet, dazed and confused at their sudden fall, Agata strode purposefully towards the now-frozen ogre.

“Gragh, is it?”  The creature stared down at her, dumbfounded.  “Yes, you.  Gragh?”

Its voice rumbled thunderously.  “Ya, me is Gragh.  Who you?”

“Agata.  What do you want here?”

“Gragh-”

“It wants to eat us!  Kill it!”

Agata whirled and glared them into silence.

“GRAGH CRUSH!”  The ogre snarled at the barbarians, fighting the invisible bonds.

“But why?

Gragh’s brow creased in thought.  “Gragh want…”

Agata found herself nodding encouragement to the hulking creature.

“Gragh want No Bother GRAGH!”

“You came here.

“Dey is come first to Gragh sleep place and try hurt Gragh!”

At Agata’s accusing glare, the barbarians broke into a cacophony of denials and explanations like children caught with their hands in the mouth of the cookie jar.

“It took the castle on the mount!”  A blonde-haired hulk in a skunk-fur loincloth stepped forward.

“Did he kill the owner?”

“It’s, um, been abandoned for centuries, actually.  Terrible location, no water, no trees…”

“So what does it matter where he lives?”

“It eats people.  And sheep.

Agata turned her scowl on Gragh, who shook his head in denial.  “Gragh no eat animal-things.” He curled his lip in disgust.  “Gragh vegetable-arian.  And rocks.  Rocks crunchy yum.  Fuzzy Baaas no yum.”

“Here’s the deal – you leave people alone, and” she turned to scowl at the barbarians, “people stay away from your castle.  Shake on it,” she barked, commandingly.

Agata watched and spelled every hand-shake before approaching the ogre with a proposition.

In short order they were headed off, a witch and her ogre-guide through the mountains.

A Light in the Darkness

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodWrite on Edge’s Red Writing Hood prompt this week was a combination of a picture and a song.

Candles and Iowa

Follow the link to see the picture, hear the song, read the submissions, or submit your own.

Having never been to Iowa, the song made me think of the prairies – rolling low hills and vast expanses of emptiness, and farms, of course, because isolated homesteads are the kind with candles flickering in the window, a light you can see for miles.

Feb2011 114

**

She looked in at the flickering candle-light with a kind of longing.

Daddy figured she was probably attracted by the food-smells.  He took to carrying the old shotgun when he went out to the barn in the early morning hours.

Momma stood vigil at the kitchen window, watching her through the chintz curtains.  She had this look in her eye, predatory and ferocious.  Daddy treated Momma like she had to be protected, but I knew better.  Grizzly bears don’t need protecting.

She never came past the fence-line, like she knew she wasn’t welcome.  To me, she seemed worn down by the weight of the world, weary and too-thin.  In a distant way, I knew that a drought-filled dust-bowl summer and an early, bitterly cold winter were to blame.  With her sad golden eyes tugging on my heart-strings, I tied it all back to the things Momma and Daddy talked about late at night, whispered conversations about money, bad crops and our best milker running dry.  Me and Momma had done the canning in half the time this fall – and that wasn’t a good thing.  Times were hard, for us and for her.

An old stew-bone here, a carefully hoarded egg there, I did what I could.  She didn’t exactly fill out, but I could see a new spark in her eye.

Will to live, Daddy called it.

Orneriness, Momma said.  I didn’t tell her that that’s exactly what Daddy said Momma had sometimes.

I just smiled and made sure she got that last biscuit, and a bit of cold stew.  Something to keep the spark alive.

Desperate and starving, men came from the woods when Daddy was two days gone on a trip to town.  We didn’t have much, but it was more than they had.

Momma’s eyes glinted grizzly-bear fierce as she loaded the shotgun, smooth and confident as Anny Oakley.  I hid in the cupboard.  You didn’t back-talk Momma when she had that look in her eye.

She said desperation makes a devil of a foolish man, but her Daddy taught her to shoot.  Men never expect women to put up a fight, and that’s their mistake.

I guess they didn’t expect the wolf, neither.  Between the crack of buckshot and the hair-raising growls and evilly glowing eyes in the darkness, we ran them off.

Daddy came home, wagon rattling with the few things he’d been able to barter for, hopefully enough to get us through the winter.  He was pretty rattled to hear about the incident, snarling about yellow bellied curs, eyes glinting with rage.

I made a nest of blankets for her on the deck, but she wouldn’t stray close.

Daddy said she was a wild animal, and while she liked us, she liked her freedom more.

It was a hungry winter, but she never lost that spark, we made sure of it.  She left with the spring, off over the low hills.

Momma just rolled her eyes when she saw that she took a chicken.

Rain

Not gonna lie, this prompt response is 412 words.  But, people, it’s nanowrimo, and every extra word counts.  I’ve got no time, no words, no ideas, and definitely not enough freaking words.  See for yourself – if you want to be my friend on Nano, find me under ‘lexy0387’ in the Toronto nanosphere.  I know, it’s sad.  Every word is being dragged out of me with the sam amount of effort and pain as an adult tooth.  And, when my dentist pulled a front tooth painfully and without enough freezing, from my mouth, he was horrified.  “Oh… yeah, that would have still hurt – wow, you’ve got long roots!”.  Thanks, doc (dent?), thanks a whole lot.  If I ever need another tooth removed, I’ll remind you to seriously seriously pay attention when I ask for that fourth shot of freezing, because apparently my roots are about this close to coming out the bottom side of my jaw.  Like an alien from Doctor Who.

I had this brilliant idea… it was all planned out in my head.  There were scenes in which my MC, much as I like her, would not be happy.  She would, in fact, experience the full range of human emotions, and encounter difficulties, people she liked, disliked, loved, hated.  It was all there, and I kept holding back writing anything of it, because, you know… not november.  And now, where is it?  I’ve got nothing.  it’s sad.  This weekend might just see me begging family members to take the dog on various lengths of walk, so that I can sit at the computer without him yipping his loneliness at me, and actually… write.

I’m starting to feel like Hook.  Can anyone else hear that dreadful tic-tic-ticking?

For now, though, shockingly, the cringe-worthy first scene in what I’ve written so far actually quite suits the Red Writing Hood prompt over at Write on Edge.

This week, use rain as the inspiration for your fiction or creative non-fiction piece. The word limit is 400, so please come back this Friday and show us what you’ve written.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
Follow the links to check out what others have written.  If you’re doing Nano, good luck, and I hope you’re doing better than I am.  If you aren’t… well… then you just won’t understand why my posting is going to continue being so severely limited for the remainder of the month.

Interesting artwork from talented artist?  Hah, no.  How about more hours in the day?  But here’s a picture of my puppy.  Note that he’s not sleeping.  No… that would be ridiculous.  He’s watching me type my nanovel… keeping an eye on me to ensure I don’t do anything silly like try to leave the room without his noticing.

Lily stared grimly ahead, struggling to keep calm.

Of course they’d be here.  They paid for it.

She shivered as the steady drizzle of rain seeped ice into her bones, stabbing through her heart as her brother’s coffin was lowered into the ground.  She wondered if any of the strangers who had shown up for his funeral actually cared that he was dead.  That woman, his boss, certainly showed no signs of sadness.  Lily glared at the couture-bedecked woman seated across the grave, some minion holding an umbrella over her head.  Perfectly made-up hazel eyes lifted to meet red-rimmed and swollen.  Lily refused to look away, refused to be apologetic for being caught glaring.

The woman’s lips twitched near a smile, and she nodded acknowledgement to Lily before turning to speak to the man seated beside her.  He nodded and rose.

A few moments later, the rain transferred its sodden fury to an umbrella.  Lily tensed, trying to focus her whole attention on the priest’s words, trying to ignore the presence at her back.

Her nephew had other ideas, twisting around to smile toothily.  “Hey, Remy,” he stage whispered, his childish enthusiasm giving it greater volume.

“Hey kiddo,” Remy crouched down slightly, still holding the umbrella high enough to protect all three of them.  More than a hint of a smile played across her brother’s ex-employer’s face this time.

Lily hated the easy way Matthew let go of her hand to grab hold of Remy.

He’s been Jake’s best friend for years.  Of course Matty likes him.  He’s a familiar face.  She tried to focus on the fact that, without Jake around, she wouldn’t have to deal with these people much longer.  Just get through today.

She flinched away when Remy leaned in, his warm breath against her neck.  “I’m going to take Matty for a walk.  He doesn’t need to hear all this crap.”  Faintly, Lily saw the sharp jerk of Remy’s head towards the priest.

Lily hadn’t even been paying much attention to the man, but Remy was right.  Ramblings about how God felt it was her brother’s time to go, that God was taking him into his arms, blah, blah, blah, how trite.  How completely meaningless to a boy who just lost his father.  She nodded her consent.

Remy tried to hand her the umbrella, but she shook her head, no.  She had cried enough over the past few days – the rain could do her crying for her.

Roc

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
This week’s prompt for Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood was:

to write a fiction orcreative non-fiction piece set entirely in an airport. Take us on an adventurein 450 words or less

It really didn’t work with the firefly piece (she only just left the airport!), so I figured I’d go back and catch up with Agata (you can find the storyline in Which Witch under my Fiction tab above).  If you don’t want the whole story, the overview to make this story more understandable is quite simple:  Agata is a witch.

a picture I found on public domain, click the pic to go to its source

Agata coasted gently down into the woodland alongside the field.  Her hair was wildly tangled from the wind, and her boots sank ankle-deep in the swampy ground under the trees.  With a sigh of disgust, she hoisted her broom and pack over one shoulder and trudged out to the unusual building sitting in a long and narrow, hard-packed clearing.

It stood at least three storeys tall, a half-tube constructed of bits of scrap sheet metal and canvas.  One end was sealed, but the end she could see into was one enormous door that had been slid aside to allow her a clear view of something even more bizarre.

A mechanical monstrosity stood in the middle of the building, balanced on two wheels and an end-piece, looking awkward and extremely unstable.  Like… almost… a duck.  Agata wondered what purpose it could possibly serve.

From somewhere within the construct, a steady clanking rang out, interspersed with some very creative cussing.

“Hello?” her voice echoed in the large space.  “Is anyone there?”

The clanging fell silent, followed by a clatter and a crash.

A large man emerged from within the beast, scowling and brushing his grimy hands off on his equally grimy coveralls.  He dabbed at his forehead with an oil-smeared cloth, leaving a black streak above his eye.  Wild tufts of hair sticking out haphazardly on his head.

Agata realised the man had spoken while she was taking in the bizarre scene.

“Pardon?”

The scowl became fiercer, but also more ridiculous with the single surprised black eyebrow he’d given himself.  “What’d’ye want, girl?  If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, I’m not mad, I don’t need a nurse, or to be taken to the mental hospital, and no, you can’t buy my land, it’s mine, and I need it.  I’m a busy man.”

“I’ve never seen you before in my life, I’m not a nurse, and what on earth would I do with a narrow, hard-packed strip of land?  As for your sanity – ”  She hesitated, glaring at the machine.  It was too intriguing.  “I’m withholding judgement until I find out more about that.”

He was transformed, a broad and delighted grin on his face.  “Curious, are ye?  Excellent.  Can’t stand folk without curiosity!  Hang on, it’s almost ready to take out for a spin!  Just you stay put!”

And with that, he dove back under the machine, clanking enthusiastically.

Agata crouched to peer beneath.  “Um… I mostly just wanted to know what it was?”

“Eh?”  Rattle, thud, clang.

“What does it do?”

He scrambled up, grinning.  With a proud hand across its beak-region, he replied, “Why, It’s a flying machine!  I call it the Roc.”

Ice Breaker

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
This week on Write on Edge’s Red Writing Hood, (follow the link to read more prompt responses, or, better yet, submit your own!) we were challenged to be inspired by the phoenix, one of the definitions below:

(source New Oxford American Dictionary online)
phoenix |ˈfēniks|
noun
(in classical mythology) a unique bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.

Phoenix |ˈfēniks| Astronomy
a southern constellation (the Phoenix), west of Grus.

It’s like the universe is telling me to keep adding to the Firefly story, by giving me prompts that move it forward.  There are a few previous pieces in this story, which you can find under my Fiction tab (above), in the storyline called Firefly.

Today’s art-to-go-with-post is actually also the inspiration of a great many aspects of this storyline… I saw it, and have been waiting for a part of the story that would make sense to include this artwork with.  It’s a photomanipulation by Aimee Stewart (USA).  Some of her artwork is in greeting cards, and has been made into puzzles.  Not only talented artistically, she is also in the midst of creating her first children’s book, art and all.  You should check her out HERE at DeviantART, or at her website HERE.

Rachel rubbed her arms against the chill country air.  How can it be so cold in the summer?

She followed the shadow-shrouded figure of her aunt, trying to ignore the prickly sensation of being watched.  They don’t believe, not really.

The fire was already lit, a dull orange glow separated from her by starkly outlined trees.  She could reach out to the heat of it already.  Just a touch to shake the cold.  No.  Too little control, too many burnables.  Once again she felt the futile longing for a teacher.

Her Aunt Miriam smiled back at her, hands fluttering with nerves and excitement.

Breathe.  She stepped forward, already feeling the pull of the fire, so welcoming.  The flames rose in a thunder of crackling wood.

Heat rose within her and she swayed.  Blood sizzling and nerves screaming ecstasy, she let the music and heat of the flames wash through her, out of her.  Distantly, she knew the onlookers were being washed with the echo of what she felt, the merest lick of the heat that washed through her very bones, the softest stir on the surface of what she saw and felt.

The flames licked out, spreading and scattering impossibly, dancing their joy, flickering across the grassy clearing in the form of foxes and cats, birds, butterflies, sprites, boneless and graceful, pulling people into the dance.

The joy of each person fed that of the rest, fueling the fire of the dance, shooting the central fire higher and impossibly bright as its creatures darted out into the night.

She longed to keep going, keep dancing and feeding into the heat and passion of it all.  But Rachel had been Laga to her own coven for a long time, and knew how to fight the fire without being burned.

“Fight it with fire,” her voice was hoarse and drenched in smoke, but it ground her enough to do what must be done.  With that, she leapt into the flames, a flurry of Elementals following her.

The pain was excruciating and ecstatic, the core of the flame heating and tightening around her as its creatures returned to it.  All of its creatures, and I am just one more.

She burned up and let the vision take her.

Fire.  Smoke and ashes tangling through the air, choking her lungs and clawing her towards unconsciousness.  Her hands and bare feet throbbed with harsh burns that should not have touched her. 

The ember fox stood before her, more solid than any she’d seen.  Isbritare, I name you. Ice breaker, you have answered the summons.

London Calling

This week’s Red Writing Hood challenge at Write on Edge was Olympics themed, and with options.  Head over to submit your own story, or to read some more prompt responses.

The 100 Meter Sprint

100 words on a conflict, competition, or game.

The Road Race

300 words on a topic of your choice. The only catch? Your setting must be London, Beijing, or Rio de Janeiro.

Synchronized Diving

Partner up with another Write on Edge writer. You each have 450 words to write about a conflict between two characters; each writer should represent a single character’s point of view.

I decided on the Road Race.  Having been to London only briefly, I figured that would be the only setting that could even remotely work out of the three, not that I really discuss it all that much.  Mainly because I decided I wanted to continue the firefly story from two weeks ago, and that particular scene was NOT in London.  There might have to be some fill-in between the two scenes, but for now, we’ve got 10-ish year old Rachel in Firefly, and 16ish year old Rachel in London Calling.

Instead of the usual interesting artwork to go with this one, I’ve decided to leave you with a song, in a blatant ripoff of Lance at “My Blog can Beat up Your Blog.”  His blog should totally look out, though, because my blog is scrappy!  I lie.  My blog is like those fainting goats – it would knock itself unconscious to avoid being beaten up.  **An additional note, now that I’ve gone through and started reading other blogs from the prompt response.  Yup, I did, indeed, manage to pick the exact same song as Lance used for this prompt.  Clearly it’s just the song to think of when thinking of London.  So, please note that I was only planning to rip off the ‘music in blog’  idea… not the ‘London Calling’ idea.  Go figure.

Rachel clawed her way back to a groggy wakefulness as the plane started its descent into London.  Her head pounded and her mouth tasted of ash.  Always ash after that dream.  Running, from the fire or to it, through a strange house, scorching heat from the door she sought.

She collected her bags and glowered around the passenger pickup area, the light too piercing even through her sunglasses.  A woman hurried towards her, a tight smile on her face, and equally beautiful and stylish daughter in tow.

Oh great, Rachel thought, self consciously fiddling with her rumpled Tee, the welcoming committee. 

“Darling, you look a fright!  Was the flight dreadful?  Of course it was, you must be exhausted, poor thing.  Chelsea, help her with her bags.  We offered to have your ticket upgraded, you know, but your mother insisted you were fine.  Oh goodness, where are my manners, I’m Miriam, darling, and my daughter – Chelsea, I said help her with her bags!  I’m sure you’ll get along like gangbusters.  Ah, there’s James with the car.”

She awoke as the car pulled up at an old country home, sand-coloured bricks covered in creeping vines, windows peeking out from the greenery like watchful eyes.

She remembered her mother describing the Florence Cottage as charming, quaint.  It looked more like a mansion.

“Wow.  You live here?”

Chelsea snorted.  “No, we figured we’d just bring you to a random house.  Come on.”

Rachel froze at the top of the stairs, clutching the banister.  The dream.

She pointed, eyes locked on the door, heavy iron handle stark against pristine white that blurred in her vision, bubbling with heat that wasn’t there.  “Where does that one lead?”  She could smell the smoke, so real, the heat.

Darkness shrouding her eyes, she heard Chelsea yell, “FIRE!”

Under the Oak Tree

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood

It’s Red Writing Hood again!  Write on Edge offered up this challenge for the week:

A stand-alone scene, fiction or memoir, in 500 words or less, involving a handwritten letter.

Link up your own story, or go on over to see what everyone else has come up with.  Concrit is always welcome.

I missed the ‘stand alone’ part initially, and had to give up on the start of the first piece I was writing, connected to one of my other story pieces.  And then, mysteriously, I couldn’t shake the idea of Peter Pan.  In a tree.  I’ve been reading the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series recently, by James A. Owen, which I suspect is a very strong factor in this sudden fixation.  And, in case you were wondering, yes, you should definitely read that series.  Also, I really wish I could illustrate my own stories.  The man has talent.  As seen below.  I found the drawing through the link that you can go to by clicking the image, which appears to be James A. Owen’s live journal account.  It is the artwork of James A. Owen, whose other link is above.  The artwork is from the book The Red Dragon, and is of Laura Glue, one of the Lost Boys in the series.  I could tell you more, but why ruin a good book?

Marco froze, a leaf-dappled shadow, bare feet gripping the rough bark, listening.  Sure that he remained unnoticed, he slid out along an overhanging branch and peered down curiously.

The girl pulled an envelope out, smoothing an oft-read letter on her knee.

He struggled with the writing, sharp eyes picking it out easily, but unable to decipher the characters as they were, full of flourishes and extra loops of ink.  Foppish.

The girl didn’t seem to mind it, though.  She clutched the letter to her chest with a sigh of contentment.

“My knight, my love,” she whispered.

In a flash of decision and action, the boy landed facing her, with a soft thump, hands on his hips.  “Boo.”

The girl clutched her letter in surprise, as she let out a small shriek.  She then delivered surprisingly solid kick to his stomach, knocking him from his heroic pose.

“What’d you do that for?” he yelped, skipping back out of range.

“Me?” she cried, struggling to her feet.  “You attacked me!”

“Never did!”

“You accost a lady of the realm in the woods, and dare to talk back?”  She drew herself up and bestowed upon him a withering glare.

“What’s wrong with yer face, then, Melly?”

She tried to smooth the expression from her reddening face.  “Nothing.  And I am Lady Amelia.  What are you doing here?”

“S’ my tree.  What’s in the letter?”

“It is from my beloved, Sir Erwin.  He is courting me.”

“Why’d you want to marry such a girly man anyways?”

Amelia gasped at the insult.  “He is not girly!  He is a brave Knight, kind and good, and he is the bravest man alive.”

Marco snickered.  “With his girly writin’ an always last in the lists an’ all?”

“It’s not…” Amelia hesitated.  Her brave Knight dotted his ‘i’s with flowers.  “He’s just trying to appeal to my delicate female sensibilities is all.  Go away, Marco!”

He let out a crow of laughter.  “Delicate female sensibilities, my arse!”

Amelia reached out, unthinking, and smacked him over the head with the ratty letter, which he promptly tore from her hand for her efforts.  “You’ve ruined it!” she wailed.

“Never did…” he concentrated intently on the paper in his hand, sounding out the words.  When understanding came he stared in shock at the blushing girl.  “You’re runnin’ away with him, Melly?”

She crossed her arms. “Father won’t let us marry.  Since when can you read, anyways?”

Marco glared sullenly at his grubby feet.  “Since you told me we couldn’ be friends no more ‘cause I was uneducated.  Erwin’s a pansy, an’ he treats his horses like dung.”  He peered up at her for a moment, dark eyes flashing. “King said you can tell a lot about a man from how he treats his animals.”

Amelia flinched, remembering an incident with a puppy.  Even babies ought not pee on Sir Erwin.

“Maybe… maybe you could walk me home, Marco?”

All smiles, he offered her his arm.  “Don’t worry, Melly.  I’ll write you a better letter.”