Friday, October 02, 2015

Flash Fiction #166 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 1: Arrival

(Welcome back to the adventures of Mark, Maggie, Davis and Edmond.  If you would like to read the first flash fiction set in this series, Surviving Elsewhere, you can find it here)

A few days ago I was worried about school.
Then I killed the sheriff’s son and ran to find safety with my cousin Maggie in Elsewhere.
Only none of it is that easy, is it?  The sheriff’s son, Tommy Creston, had turned into a monster and was killing people.  Sheriff Creston wasn’t going to listen to that truth.  So I ran to my cousin who had escaped to Elsewhere years before.  I thought there would be safety in the magical land.
I was wrong.  Not only did Sheriff Creston still come after me, but it seemed like everything else was trying to kill me, too.  Giants wolves, water niads, talking trees, war cows . . . Dragons.  Maggie stood by me, though.  So did Davis, a surfer dude healer and Edmond, the talking cat.
So I had adventures.  I learned I am a protector and I was sanctioned by the fae Lord Cayman — who turned out to be my father.  Oh, and Sheriff Creston?  He’s actually Darman, another fae and he was trying to kill me for reasons that really didn’t have much to do with his son after all.  In the end, he tried to kill us all.  Lord Snow — a talking snow leopard — escaped with my father by leaping through the magical veil.  Davis, Maggie, Edmond and I followed, but apparently not to the same place.
 A city of glass towers floated in the sky.
"This -- this isn't Elsewhere, is it?" I asked.
Maggie shook her head. "We're . . . Somewhere Else."
But we were together. We would survive.
Edmond finally lifted his head as something huge swept across the sky.
"Well this can't be good," he sighed.
Whatever had flown over us was high enough in the clouds that I couldn’t clearly see it, which was good.  I could barely stand and I coughed at the odd tasting air.  In our escape from  Elsewhere, I’d been hit by more than a few falling rocks.  I looked back — but wherever we had been was long gone now.  There wasn’t even a sign of the veil here, the magical wall we’d come through.
I sat down on the hard ground.  Davis and Maggie did the same.  Edmond stayed watching the glowing, glass city.  We didn’t say anything.  I think we were all suffering from shock by now.   I was still trying to make sense out of what had happened the last few days.  I wanted a break.  I wanted rest.  Could we just sit here for a while?  I was afraid to ask.
“Mark?” Maggie said softly.  She leaned close to me, and I could see her fingers were white-knuckled where they held to the staff, the sign of her power.  Did that even mean anything here?  “Are you all right, Mark?”
“He got battered back there,” Davis said.  He was looking calmer.  Edmond was starting to pace around, too.  We were on a high, barren hill with a fog down below and the city above which so backwards it gave me a headache.  “Let’s see if I can do anything here.  There’s no telling if I can still call on any of my powers.”
“I’m okay,” I said.  “Bruised, mostly.”  Talking helped.  “How do we get back?”
“I don’t know,” Maggie replied.  She looked around with worry.  I glanced back again and noted this time that we were on a knoll, with more fog behind us.  Only one floating city, at least. “I don’t know how to find —”
“Try the compass,” Edmond said, walking back to us.
“Oh!”  She put the staff aside finally and began checking through her bag.  I knew what compass he meant. I’d used it to find the door into Elsewhere when I ran to find ‘safety’ there.  I almost giggled, by that was probably hysteria.
“Here it is!” she said and pulled it out.  For a moment she held it hidden in her hand, not daring to look.  Then she held it out where all of us could see it.
The needle swung around in a crazy circle, once, twice, and I was about to give up and let panic take over when it finally settled and pointed off to the left.
“Do we trust it?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she admitted, which was kind of reassuring in an odd way.  At least I knew she wasn’t lying to me.  “But at least it gives us a way to go.  I don’t think I like sitting up here in view of everything.”
She looked up at the city.  Until then I hadn’t even considered what we might be facing here.  Who were up there?  I squinted and thought I could see movement, but I couldn’t tell if they were human or not.  The buildings looked pretty as they caught the light, glittering with blue, purple and green glass.  I wanted to think good of it.  I wanted something not to be a problem for just a little while longer.
Edmond began pacing again, this time heading towards the edge of the hill in the direction the compass pointed.  Maggie held it up again and the needle wobbled and pointed in the same direction again.  Good.
“Uh — guys.  I think you better come over here and take a look,” Edmond said.  He was stepping back in haste.
I didn’t want to know.  I just didn’t want to know, but Maggie caught my arm and pulled me up before I could protest.  I stumbled along with them and looked down. . . .
Fog and smoke obscured most of the view, but as far as I could see were the ruins of a huge city with metal framework twisted and broken and piles of debris everywhere.  I had never seen anything so terrible.
“Did they drop a bomb?” I asked, looking up at the pretty city that I no longer trusted.
“This wasn’t a bomb,” Davis replied, his voice quiet.  “This was magic.”
“This can’t be good,” I said and the others, including Edmond, nodded.
We started down the hillside. . . .
To be continued
998 words

Friday, September 25, 2015

Flash Fiction #165 -- The Find

The walking was going to kill him.
Tamron hadn’t considered that possibility when he had left the crashed plane, somewhere four days behind him, lost in the desert.  He was not lost, though.  Not exactly.  He knew the Nile was still somewhere ahead of him in the east, but he couldn’t be certain of how far. 
He knew how to walk so that he didn’t end up going in circles.  He kept something in sight to aim for and then, when that was close at hand, he would focus on something beyond it.  In the monotonous world of the desert, he had to choose odd shaped rocks and sand dunes with noticeable curves.  Walking the desert wasn’t so bad, though this trip was overly long.
Tamron still wondered if the crash hadn’t been an act of sabotage. H e was certain he was close to finding the first true sign of a lost civilization in the western wastes of the Sahara, not far from the Nile.  He had found an ancient map half a year before and spent all that time researching any tidbit of information he  found in the few lines of demotic scribbled on the edges of the ancient map, the words crumbling away.
Tam had been careful about not saying anything, but an archaeologist as well known as he was couldn’t help but draw attention, especially when he took his battered bi-plane out several days in a row.  Tamron, barely in his thirties, had a few exceptional finds under his belt already.  He had the gift, as his late grandfather had told him.  Tam had grown up in Sir Clement O’Killam’s archeology work camp after his own father had gone back to England.  His Egyptian mother had died when he was young, and while some of grandfather’s people had treated him badly, Sir Clement had realized his grandson had the gift that his own son lacked.  They’d worked well together until grandfather disappeared in a massive sand storm five years ago.
He didn’t intend to disappear as well.
The crash hadn’t killed Tamron.  The walking though — yes, even someone used to the desert, someone who knew enough to have emergency supplies on the plane, still might succumb to the heat.  He rested during the worst of the hot day, walked mostly at dusk, dark and dawn.  He had to fend off some deathstalker scorpions and a couple snakes but he saw and heard no one.  Not impossible in a land like this, to go so many days alone, but he had still hoped. . . .
Tam rested through the fourth day, and prepared to walk on, fixing his eyes on a distant area that appeared to be another patch strewn with boulders —
Something moved there.
His heart thumped and he almost shouted, but wisdom from years of living in the desert stopped him. First, it was dusk, and he might simply have seen a shifting shadow.  Second, not everyone in the country loved foreign archaeologists. The sun was setting behind him so he had to wait or he would have cast a shadow as well. He saw movement again.  It might be a creature of some sort.  He didn’t see any sign of an oasis but there might be a shallow pan of water or even a well.  Some more water would be nice —
And then, in the last light of the sunset, Tamron saw something that made his heart stop.  A temple stood in the shadow of the dunes and this building was not in ruins.  Gold and jewels glittered in the fading sun. He stood and moved forward, unable to think of anything except that he must get there, must see and feel that it was real.
What had moved?  He didn’t care though a faint alarm rang at the sight of the blazing brazier’s on each side of the elegant and intact Horus symbol on the wall.  He had never seen anything so perfect.  He hardly paused until he came almost within reach of the walls.
Too perfect.
He reached out with a hand but dared not mar the beauty of this place with even a gentle touch.
And then a hand rested on his shoulder.
“Will you not even leave me this place?” a man asked. 
The words were not English, nor the current patois of an Egyptian fellah,but he understood.  He wanted to turn and find out who stood there.
What stood there.
He couldn’t move.
“It’s all gone, the glory.  You gather little pieces of my world and stare in wonder.  This, though . . . This is all I have left.”
“I —”  The word stuck in Tamron’s throat.  Whatever had touched him was not natural.  His eyes flickered to the right where the hand held to his shoulder.  The fingers were unnaturally long, and perhaps claw-like.
“How could you understand?”
For a moment, though, Tamron did understand.  He closed his eyes and saw the world of the Nile as it had once been, with the pageant and wonder of an age few now could imagine.  With that thought came a longing for things long past.
And yes, he did understand.
“There will be other finds,” Tamron said.  “I am honored simply to have stood here.”
“Then go in peace, friend.”
He didn’t like to think what would have happened if he hadn’t said — and believed — those words.  He walked on through the night and never looked back.  He might even have believed it was all a fever dream from the hot desert sun, except for one thing.  When he finally reached civilization a day later, he went straight to clean up, and looking in the mirror he saw the Wadjet symbol on his shoulder, where it had not been before.
The Wadjet was the sign of the Eye of Horus.
And yes, he did have remarkable luck with his excavations, though people often wondered why he stood and stared off into the Western Desert with such longing sometimes.
996 words