(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