A Small Escape – II

Here are a few more tidbits of micro fiction that I wanted to share with you.

I hope these little tales sweep you away and make you forget your troubles, if only for a moment.

“It’s a Trap!”

Dew glistened on the leaves of the fresh fruit: a compact world, pristine and unblemished.

Everything about this environment was designed to inspire ease.

Nothing, however, but the fruit (Kepler-22b), the Captor, and The Devourer were real.

The Devourer drooled seeing this sphere concentrated, so full of life. There would be a price. There was always a price. Both heaven and hell formed this garden- at once a paradise and a trap. Nowhere else had the technology to pluck a world from orbit and hand feed it to The Devourer condensed into one morsel. To instantly gorge, consuming all the mass and energy of a planet, was bliss. It was the kind of all-consuming bliss that left one exhausted. Traveling to individual planets and ingesting them particle by particle was so inefficient and time consuming. The Devourer kept finding itself back here. Each world was so nutrient dense and carefully selected. The Captor made careful calculations to adjust for diminishing return – since The Devourer was in fact diminished after each transaction, this was simpler.

Was it worth The Devourer giving up a part of itself? Almost. Maybe. A dew drop fell past the projection, beyond The Devourer’s perception. It no longer cared for the heart and soul it would lose to The Captor, this villain seeking power. It wondered if caring was something it had lost after the transaction for Gliese 581d. Saliva, or what digestive oral juices would pass for such, brimmed in its mouth. Hunger was screaming through its being, quieting all fear.

A Mind of Its Own

Circles wound themselves around, more for ornamentation than anything: a thin silver line encompassing a feminine finger, a waspy frame surrounding a timeworn sword, a carven tower wreathing an ancient force.

  “You must defeat me to wield me.” Lips full and vibrant smirked at him. Her glittering eyes cut through him like icicles plunging from a rooftop.

This test he knew would be of his will, not his body. Victory would go to their enemies if he did not return with this succubus sword. They needed this enchanted weapon with a mind of its own. Butterflies fluttered in his throat. As beautiful as this projection was, it was real enough to be deadly. He grasped the sword, pulling it from the image it was projecting. Cold chilled him through his gauntlets to his bones, then seeped into his mind. She was a dull ache, like the devastation of unreturned love, or the sharp kiss of wind on a bitter cold day.

He felt the sword burrow deeper into his mind, a snake writhing its way through his skull. He shut his eyes.

 “Give up,” she whispered and he felt the sensation of lips that weren’t real brushing his ear as the words formed in her mouth. The darkness of his eyelids she replaced with a vision of her own soft and supple frame beckoning.

 “No,” he said aloud. “I have a quest. There is too much at stake.”

 “This ring,” she held up her hand and whispered. “It means you’re mine. Don’t you remember giving it to me? You said you loved me, that you’d always be mine.” Light caught on the fine silver.

 “No,” he swallowed and replaced the image of the succubus sword with the one person he truly loved.
The sword hissed as he sheathed it, and the glamour broke. Algae wrecked the hand hewn stones. Ivy pulled at the rafters. The tower was in ruins.

 “True love really does conquer all, at least for now.” His voice echoed, though it was barely a whisper.

A skeleton clutched a rotten scabbard. The sword’s trickery had hidden it before. He hoped to not share that fight, but now was the time to prepare for battle. The demon soldiers of Amaury would not wait. He might have won the battle of wits against this sword, but he knew deep down they might not win the war.
  “‘For want of a nail’…” he assured himself as detritus crunched under his dinged up boots.

The Gambrels of the Sky

Tracks stretched before Elaine. Her heart was thundering in her throat and her breath caught in her chest. A searing line of pain pulled through her lungs as she inhaled. I should have kept up running after I graduated, she thought then pushed that down. This was not the time for regrets. The scent of ozone filled the air, but not in the relaxing rainstorm kind of way. This was suffocating.

Lightning blasted right in front of her. She would have screamed if she had her breath. Instead she hesitated before wheezing forward. The thunder rumbled through her bones. Elaine stumbled. Her pink track shoes found traction against the pavement and relief spread through her.

 Can’t get too cocky, she thought. I can’t afford to trip up now.

Above the howling storm she heard a chalkboard voice screech, drunk on power : “I dwell in possibility. A fairer house than prose”.

This was no spell. Of course the maniacal time witch, Idony, would quote Emily Dickenson. Elaine pressed on through the burning muscles and lungs, left then right, again, and again. The only way she could make it back to her own time was to plunge into the eye of the storm and throw herself into the cyclone at just the right moment.

Time is a spiral swirling around. It’s not a river, eddying though. It’s a raging storm with debris sometimes flung here and sometimes there and sometimes left untouched. Elaine had learned this the hard way.

Idony had not stopped her banshee recitation. The next words Elaine heard over her footfall and thrumming heart were, “And for an everlasting roof…”

Elaine lunged into the dark clouds. The howling wind swept her away from where and when and who she was.

* * *

A door slammed. Keys jingled.

She sat up feeling disoriented- it was like when she was seven and woke up in her grandma’s bed after having a nightmare in the middle of the night. She’d never really looked at that ceiling before. The drop ceiling above her felt so cheap and industrial. Elaine lowered her gaze. Mud was splattered across the pink trim of her trainers. Her Juicy Couture socks were stained as well. Tiffany stepped through the doorway into their tiny living room. Focusing on Elaine’s muddy feet did not brighten the Sophomore’s mood. Nor did the discarded wrappers for energy bars Elaine didn’t recall eating. Elaine didn’t recall much at all. A sledgehammer of pain inside her head orchestrated a beatbox rhythm to match her heart rate.

Her roommate frowned. “Did you just go on a run? It’s so bad for your spleen to lay down right after.”

 “I know, I know. I’m not sure what I was thinking.”

 “Ugh. You reek. Better hit the showers.” Tiffany wrinkled her nose.

Elaine stood up. Déjà vu and dysphoria surged over her even stronger now. Something was wrong. She wasn’t right. She was forgetting something. It was fading.

A glittering light caught her eye. Was it a lost earring? She redirected her gaze for this treasure in beige Berber carpet. It wasn’t an earring and it wasn’t glittering – it was blinking. It was a small metal device the size of a key fob.

Elaine pocketed it. She knew it was important but the name for it was as stuck on the top of her tongue. She’d think about it later when she had more time. Two midterms on Monday, one on Tuesday, and two more on Friday meant her days going forward would be packed. No time to worry about found trinkets. Her hand sought it out though, like a lucky rabbit.

 “The spreading wide my narrow Hands/ To gather Paradise.”

 “Huh?” Elaine asked. Her heart lurched. She knew she was forgetting something important.

 “I didn’t say anything,” Tiffany called from the kitchen. “Q-tip your ears, girl. You hear things all the time. It’s so annoying.”

• For the previous installment, please click here.

•”For want of a nail” is a line from a nursery line dating back to the 14th century, to express interconnectivity.

•The poem I referenced above in “The Gambrels of the Sky” was “I Dwell in Possibility” (466) by Dickenson.

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