Viewing blog entries in category: General Writing
The last post I made was so long ago and I forgot to look at the date before beginning this post. However, if I'm right, it was either in 2012 or 2013- both years I had lived 3-4 months separated from my husband and son while I worked in another state, trying to find appropriate housing and schools for my family.
Fast forward a few years and here I am: Working full time, going to school full time, and divorced. I still have my kid, though. There's something.
I used to use this blog as an outlet for the dreams I would have, in the hopes of inspiring other writers. I was successful once in inspiring another fellow WF user to write a short Fiction that included all the major elements of one of my more bizarre dreams. It sparked a lot of discussion, it got attention, and I was beyond thrilled thhe guy had done so well with my dream details in his short story! I wish to achieve moments like that, repeatedly, again, and soon. Although I have to admit I'm no longer taking muscle relaxers for my shoulder (even though it still hurts like hell most days), and I've stopped abusing NyQuil even though it helped me dream in Cartoon. I also quit drinking alcoholic beverages, much to my roommate's dislike. Two single mothers who need their wine days and I just had to go and quit spending my money on that vice. I have a new addiction- online shopping. Watch out!
Anyways, it's ridiculously late, I'm ridiculously tired, and I have a ridiculously overqualified employee to train tomorrow. Yey! I hope everyone is well, and I look forward to picking up where I left off in my dream blogs.
Yes, Larth, as in the Etruscan equivalent to the Scandinavian name Lars.
I have been negligent of my blog here on WF for the past week or so because Tuesday I learned the writing project I thought was due on the 23rd, was actually due on the 16th. Surprise! So I have been writing feverishly, researching ravenously, and managed to pull a 15 page tragic love story out of my creative pool. But then, what's this? My professor only wanted the story to be 5-6 pages? What nonsense is this? No good story is less than 10 pages! (In my opinion, anyway, and that is with it being double spaced.)
So I edit, rearrange, reword, and restructure segments, sentences, and paragraphs and succeed in making a lovely 9,000 word story into a sufficient 5,000. But oh- wait. It is still too long? By a thousand words, you say? Crap.
Editing again and again, rewording and revising sentences and structure again and again until I am sick unto death of my own story and wish I had never hatched the idea in the first place- alas! 4,700 words and my story is within 9 pages, and 9, my friends, is wholly acceptable to my professor. Why, say you? When 5-6 pages was her first requirement? Because I complained I could not retain historical accuracy of the story, the characters, and the artifacts I incorporated into it, and keep it the shortened length she first required.
No one appreciates an overachiever who, when turning in their work, falls short of the professors expectations for what an overachiever should submit. However, the last project I turned in was supposed to be a slide show containing 45-55 slides including works and sources cited and title page. What I turned in was 33 slides with two slides of sources and works cited, a title page, and a table of contents. So well was my research, she allowed it. And now, she expects greatness from any project I turn in.
Am I flattered? Yes. Does it stress me out, to have the bar set so high, just for me, in a class where everyone else seems to do the bare minimum? No. Because I enjoy research. I enjoy reading. And because, simply, I like to hear myself talk via word documents if I can help it, and when the standard is set so high for word and power point documents, I get in my zone.
But now my project is over; my research into the daily lives and religious practices of the Etruscan civilization is over, and my brief but lovely time with my characters Ramtha, Larth, and Caile, are over. I'm actually sad about this, despite my illness over editing the story so many times.
What's next? British Literature! Huzzah!
Adult Content: Some language and adult situations. You've been warned.
This is a dream I had about a week ago, that I wrote about in another blog post titled "Dream Hoarding". I know few who wanted to know the dream and the process of how I developed it after dreaming it. To answer that, Jack Lee, I have no clue. I just dreamed of a beautiful woman being forced to be with a once-beautiful man, and their dire situations prompted drastic escape plans. The end of my dream was clear, and from an aerial view of a parade in a darkened city street with hoards of police and military lining the buildings. This is what I came up with post-sleep:
The bottom twenty contest winners for Miss America, including Miss America’s third cousin herself are kept in a house decorated in an ostentatious theme that blended French Baroque with Hip-Hop Glam. Here they ate, slept, conducted their physical training, and generally kept to themselves. The house they lived in also moonlighted as a gentlemen's club, The House of Winners, where the right price can earn a man his own very private encounter with Miss America’s cousin Missa for a delightful 40 minutes; or an encounter with five Betty's for 20 minutes. Missa’s petite, average height, and gifted with gloriously thick golden hair. Her eyes are crystalline green and cant an innocent angle. To everyone she appears an Earthbound Angel.
Most of the House of Winner's income came from Kirby, a middle-aged, ruthless man who got his money from making and distributing Crack. His body had been depleted of all vital nutrients from decades of drug use; his skin is sallow and hangs off his frame, large crags ravage his face, and all that remains of his hair are two fried, wispy tufts at his temples. When he isn't at The House, he is at his place of business: an old, timeworn industrial building where the walls are crumbling and the ceiling has caved, but the lower levels have reinforced concrete and top notch security systems.
The first lower level, the Kitchen as Kirby calls it, has enormous vats of chemicals that when mixed, make his drug. The second lower level is just below the steel grated floor of the Kitchen, where anyone can look down and observe. The second level is Hell, and there Kirby keeps chained all the men who had done him wrong. When they angered him with their howls of starvation or despair, he poured those vats of liquid Crack over them for several hours. The exposure to such astringent and concentrated chems turned the men into something different. It made them more than Human.
An ex-CIA operative, Garner, has been chained for months there in the bowels of the Crack factory, with men of various and dubious backgrounds. It was with his keen mind and ability to charm the pants off Saints that he managed to get a message out to a friend in the CIA via Kirby's watchmen- rent-a-cops with little else going for them. Garner waits, squatting naked in the darkness for when his message gets through, when his risks pay off. For now, he plays Keeper of the Guards' dirtiest secrets, and it is then he learns the exact moment his risks have paid off; it is then, he slits the guard's throat and earns himself a 12 hour dousing of the vile chems. Secrets die hard in that place, and Garner makes sure they don’t get out.
Darrel is a friend of Garner's, still working for the CIA, still living a waking nightmare. Damned Psych's don't know mental disorders when they see them, just throw everyone who has been through trauma into the PTSD category and dust their hands off; job done, let's go home. Nothing to see here, just nightmares and violent behavior. Nothing to see but PTSD. Darrel gets Garner’s message from an overweight waste of space named Dennis, and he couldn’t get away from the man fast enough. Sitting in his car, voicemails and text messages flashing back and forth between Darrel and his superiors, trying to get an okay to make the case before the paperwork is generated and approved- or disapproved. Knowing his superior, the red tape would take so long to get cleared Garner would be dead before Darrel could help him. Parked in front of The House of Winners, the home for America’s bottom twenty most beautiful women, and he couldn’t even get past the front steps. Sitting there, the rain drizzling his windshield, he took out a notepad and wrote down the time. 9:52pm, Thursday night.
“Let’s see who visits the house, shall we?” He slumped further into the seat and turned the radio on, preparing for a long night of watching and waiting.
Missa hated this game. Hated everything about it; the other women, the men, the grittiness of Kirby’s hands on her body and gravel voice in her ear. The only thing she hated more than her lifestyle was Kirby, but since he paid the most to get the best, the best had to perform. A phrase from her childhood echoed in her mind’s ear, reminding her that only the best trained animals made the circus.
“Arf arf,” she barked at the mirror. Her reflection frowned at her. “Oh whatever, shut up.”
“Talking to yourself again?” Lilla asked as she sauntered into the dressing room. Tonight was Burlesque night and everyone was staking out their outfits before the night started. The hot pink boa had been claimed by Nina hours ago, much to Lilla’s frustration.
Missa sighed, “No, just reasoning with myself.”
“That’s talking to yourself.”
“Whatever. Shut up.”
The two finished their make-up and left to join the other women in the Meeting Room. Oh, the Meeting Room; the bane of Missa’s existence. The Meeting Room: where dreams were doused with shame and washed away with and degradation.
“Good, glad both of you could join us tonight,” Paula glowered as Missa and Lilla entered, late for the meeting. “Now that all of you are here, I can share the good news. Kirby has decided to let his Minions a night out of their Hell, and for what he’s paid the House tonight. Everyone will be present, everyone will be Willing, and everyone will perform their best. Understood?” Paula’s large, toothy smile was more menacing than encouraging and all but a few Betty’s looked at the floor in quiet subservience.
She continued, “Now, the Burlesque show is canceled for the night. I want you all to go take a good long soak to soften up those joints. I need you all flexible and pliable tonight.” With a snap of her fan, she turned and left.
“Great, a night with Kirby’s ghouls. Just how I wanted to spend my Sunday night.”
“Like you were going to spend it doing anything different.”
The girls bantered back and forth as they made their way to their respective hot tubs. When Paula called for long soaks, they knew the night was going to be a long one.
Darrel observed several buses coming and going throughout the night, but parked where he was, never saw who or what was being unloaded. Every hour a bus would drive up, park in front of the back service doors, sit idle for 10 minutes, and then leave. Every hour, on the hour, and Darrel couldn’t see shit. Annoyed, he turned his radio up a notch and marked the time: Midnight.
“Hold your horses men, you’ll get your turn,” Kirby chuckled from the front seat of the bus. Untrusting of his Minions and their chemically altered bodies, he personally accompanied each busload to and from The House to reassure himself that his decision to get them laid was a good one.
“Maybe it’ll teach you some fuckin’ manners, eh?!” He shouted at them as he passed. He glanced out the side window, noticing the same bland sedan parked where he’d seen it earlier in the night, when he’d arrived to make the monetary arrangements for his Minions’ hard earned night of delight.
They shuffled by, pale, blue veined, hard lined and lean. The regular douses of chemicals had turned their skin pale, almost white. Their hair and fingernails were the first things to start turning blue-black. Then the veins appeared, thickened and stark against their skin. The last one to leave the 12 o’clock bus was Kirby’s least favorite Minion- like any of them could be classed as favorites. Taller than some, the man’s skin had failed to turn completely white, but had cooled to an unnatural light honey color. Garner, the CIA agent Kirby’d caught snooping into his business; the one he wished he could kill. As it stood, the latest arrangement with the Director of the CIA, Garner couldn’t be killed, but neither could he be returned to the CIA for all he knew about Kirby’s operations. A nasty little catch-22 that pissed Kirby off every time he laid eyes on the bastard.
Shuffling into The House, Garner immediately took stock and inventory of all he could see and get within peripheral.
Stairs to the right of the back door entrance, thirty foot hall straight into the center of the place; huge sweeping staircase to the left, three separate rooms splitting the end of the hallway into three different directions; all doors between the back and the center were locked and both stairways were guarded. Getting out will be trickier than he assumed it would. A house full of beauty pageant whores? How hard could escape be? But he had underestimated Kirby and the manager, Paula. Garner had assumed the manager was as stupid as the girls she managed, and that Kirby would be too side tracked by their prize Betty, Missa, to notice him walking right out of the place.
Not the case.
“Back in line, Ghoul,” a sharp featured woman said as he passed by the main staircase. She was tall, thin, and held a riding crop in her white knuckled fists. He felt her eyes on him the rest of the way to the Room. Ahead, he could see as each man entered the Room their hand being taken by a feminine one and led off to one side or the other. When Garner approached the threshold, a soft, warm hand slid into his as a soft curvy body pressed against him.
“This way, good looking,” Missa said as she took her time gazing at the man who’d walked in last. He had strong, thick fingered hands with wide palms attached to long, toned arms. He looked down at her as her eyes completed their slow travel up his body and met his in stunned silence.
The most gorgeous woman Garner had ever seen stared up at him and a tightness cinched his chest, warmed his gut. She had hair the color of sunshine on gold, eyes that sparkled peridot and clear. He saw her chest rise in a long inhale, and one word fell from his lips as she spoke her next word: “Love”.
Love. Pure, intricate, uncomplicated, complex, and at its simplest; nothing could have been worse for them than that very moment.
Sounds of ecstasy slowly entered their nonverbal moment, returning them to the present.
Missa looked around. Melinda, Lara, and Sherry just completed a daisy chain with three men as Lilla did her famous backbend to accommodate the demands of the ghoul beside her. Stretched backward as she was, her own chosen ghoul continued his bruising pace between her legs.
Garner saw the men he’d come to see as his collective brotherhood hungrily, willingly loosing themselves in the little slices of heaven wrapped around them. Each woman was no more than 120 pounds. Each woman could easily be injured if the men weren’t careful. Garner wasn’t sure the extent of the men’s transformations, or how much Kirby knew about them, but he knew his own. Pulling on his shackles used to cause his skin to chafe; cut him up and rubbed his ankles raw. But over the past few days he’d noticed his skin was chafing the metal. He looked down at the hand securely holding the woman’s beside him, belatedly realizing it was his hand and not some deformed stranger’s.
He looked at her in surprise. He hadn’t expected to be given the crème de la crème.
“When did Kirby catch you?”
“Ten months ago.”
“Ten months in Hell is a long time to survive, Garner,” she whispered.
“You know about it?”
“Kirby talks when he gets head. Thinks whoever’s working him is so focused on her job to please him that she doesn’t listen.” She leaned in closer to him, “I listen.”
“The sex is getting to me,” Garner whispered back, changing topics. “I’d planned on escaping tonight while everyone was occupied.” His fingered fumbled at the laces of her corset. “I had plans. And you ruined them, Missa.”
“I’d planned on escaping tonight too, Garner,” she surprised herself with the admittance. “You’re right, the hormones being fed in this room are suffocating,” she climbed him like a tree, wrapping her legs around his torso and locking her hands behind his neck.
Their lips fused in a harsh kiss, and time slipped away in the throes of their embittered joy. Garner pushed and pulled Missa’s legs in directions she wasn’t sure they were capable of moving, but rode out the pain to the pleasure. On her hands and knees she realized she couldn’t leave without him, and when he flipped her on her back to hold her hands above her head, she began to plan. As she rode in reverse and was spun around sideways, she decided their next step. Then the whistle blew and it was time for the ghouls to be extracted from the Betty’s and returned to their Master. With an oppressive pain in her heart, Missa pulled herself up Garner’s long torso and wrapped herself around him one last time.
Their kiss was passion come to life and they were painfully and acutely aware it could possibly be their last.
“Don’t be brave. I have a plan,” she murmured against his lips.
“You don’t be brave, woman,” he grumbled back.
“I have a plan,” she insisted.
“So do I.”
“Mine is better. Trust me.”
“We just met, and I have the CIA on it.”
She slowly released her grip on him and slid down. “And look where you still are.”
They didn’t have much more time. The third to last ghoul was being shackled back onto the line.
Missa looked up as Garner looked down, their hands gripped together in panic they refused to express otherwise.
“I have a plan that will get you and me free, and bring down both operations,” she pulled his hips toward her and bumped them with her own. His grunt of frustration excited her all over again. “I’ll get a message to you through Benny.”
A guard grabbed Garner’s arm and pulled him away.
“I love you,” Garner mouthed.
As she watched the line of ghouls leave through the long hall leading toward the back of the house, they were passed by a fourth group of Ghouls. Melinda sighed in pain beside her, making Missa suddenly aware of the other nineteen women in the room with her.
“When does this shit end, Paula? We’re wearing a little thin here!” Lilla shouted. Paula stepped in with two 5 gallon buckets of baby oil.
“Then I suggest you use this. Looks like you could use the lubrication.”
One girl sported an already bluing hand print on her backside. “At least tell them not to be so rough! The last one nearly took my skin off.”
The next crowd would be less enticingly invited in, and they in turn would be rougher than Garner’s crowd. By the time the last group of ghouls departed, Missa, Lilla, Leah, and Sara were incapable of walking, and the rest suffered from extreme fatigue and bruising.
“I hope to Bob this never happens again,” one of the girls prayed as they helped support each other and exited the Room.
“Oh no girls,” Paula said from beside the door. “This is just the beginning.” Her wide, cruel smile promised pain beyond endurance.
“What do you mean?” Missa asked as she limped, supported under one arm by the petite Chinese girl, Ming.
“I mean that this is the first in a long, very fortuitous venture.”
The girls groaned in misery.
“The pageants are cancelled from here on out,” Paula continued to announce in a loud, proud voice. “Each month The House will be paid one million dollars to entertain Kirby’s ghouls for an hour, per ghoul.”
“So is it one million for each hour with each ghoul, or just one million to cover the busloads?” Missa asked snidely.
“That is still up for debate,” Paula replied. Snapping her riding crop against her thigh, she executed an about face and left the girls to their limping parade of pain.
“One million dollars is not worth the rehab I’ll have to go through between their visits,” someone from the back remarked.
“Did any of you notice something off about them? Like, something Different?”
“I noticed something alright,” Missa muttered. “We have to get the hell out of here.”
It would be two more weeks before negotiations between Paula and Kirby could be settled, and a few days after that before Missa could solidify her plans to escape and get garner to freedom and safety. She wasn’t sure of the details as Benny, the head of The House security, was coordinating a capture and release of all the women in the house, and his idea included a parade-size moat built to look like a child’s wooden train set. But whatever the silent old man came up with, Missa was willing to try.
“Just how do you plan on convincing Paula the girls need a trip a parade?”
He shrugged in response.
“What about convincing her the parade is legit? What about convincing all the girls they should go without spoiling the plans?”
Benny shrugged again.
“Do you have any solid plans, or is this some twisted way to get all of us caught and punished?” She gripped his shirt collar in her petite fist and curled her lip at him. “I will personally castrate you, Benny.”
As silently as he had participated in the conversation, he silently shrugged again, and slowly peeled her fingers from his shirt.
“Mum’s the word, huh? Nothing said is nothing betrayed?” she guessed, but could only hope he wasn’t going to turn her in to Paula.
Without further argument, Missa turned on her heel and headed for her bedroom. The last thing she needed was to be counted missing at nighttime roll-call.
The next saw the girls in their hot tubs, soaking up as much oils and minerals as possible, nervously anticipating the night to come. Like clockwork, each woman exited her tub thirty minutes after the previous, to use the bathroom, dry off, and to make up her hair and do her cosmetics. When the last girl finished in the bathroom, all were assembled in The Room. They noticed bars had been mounted on the walls at seemingly random intervals and heights, and chairs placed in the corners.
Lilla fingered a length of chain hanging from the nearest bar on the wall, “I guess we’ve graduated, ladies. Welcome to the House of Pain, where Winners take Losers, and nothing is for free.”
Saying it out loud somehow made it even more sad than already realized. Some women looked at the floor in complete defeat, where others, Missa included, notched their chins up in silent defiance.
“Bring the pain,” Ming said, the boldness of her statement incongruent with her petite stature.
“Your wish, my command,” Paula said from the door as a file of Ghouls were ushered in. Garner was not among the chained men, and for that Missa was grateful. It was going to take until midnight for Benny to get things in place and Garner showing up too early would throw a wrench the plans. He needed to be there after midnight if she had any hopes of Benny’s planning pulling through.
“As you can see boys, there’ve been a few additions to the room,” Paula continued in her haughtiest tone. “I suggest you use them to their maximum advantage.” With that, she turned and closed the door behind her, the lock clanging loud in the girls’ ears.
When the second crowd left and the clock in the ceiling chimed eleven, Missa began to worry. She hoped garner would be in the fourth crowd, or even fifth, as she was certain Benny wasn’t ready yet.
“Can someone help me down from here please?” Lydia asked, her left leg shackled to a bar above her head. Steadying herself in an awkward handstand, she tried to turn to face the wall, but only succeeded in twisting in a hilarious dangle.
“It isn’t funny,” she grumped as Lilla tried to undo the shackle.
“How’d you get up there anyway?”
“The dude was over six-foot! How else do you think my foot got up there? Not like I was ever a gymnast or anything.”
The door opened and one of the guards peered in, “The third crowd’s here.” With a low thud, a five gallon bucket of baby oil was left inside the door, a silent warning of what was to come. The clock chimed eleven-thirty as the door swung open and Garner walked in first. Before the man behind him could clear the threshold, Garner kicked back against the door, slamming it shut in the man’s face. Missa’s jaw dropped.
“Not now,” Garner said as he gripped her upper arm and dragged her to the far wall.
“What’s going on?” one of the girl’s asked, worry in her voice.
Garner didn’t respond but tapped the wall in a serious of thumps broken up by brief pauses. A few moments later and a panel opened in the ceiling and a rope ladder was dropped.
“Go on,” he urged Missa, and without further hesitation, she climbed, waving the girls to follow her as she made her ascent. When all the women had climbed into the crawl space above The Room, Garner hefted himself up and closed the panel.
Quietly shuffling, the twenty women crawled, scooted, and shuffled their way between the beams and old insulation to what looked like another panel in another ceiling.
“Where’s this going?” Missa couldn’t help asking.
“To the outside. Darrel’s waiting with his sedan. It’s parked under the caboose. Don’t hesitate, just go,” he shoved her through the panel where, instead of falling as she had braced herself to do, she slid down something like a laundry chute, abruptly erupting from the side of The House in a surprised squeak to land on her butt.
At first, it was only she and the other nineteen women in the back alley, loading themselves into various hidden compartments inside the enormous, thirty meter long parade Train, then suddenly, as in a B rate movie, the street flooded with people; men in uniforms carrying guns and shields filled the street as men with rifles lined the roofs of the surrounding buildings. A helicopter hovered, its spotlight bright on Missa as she stood from closing the last compartment. She was to ride in the sedan with Darrel and Garner, so she’d remained outside in the open, hurriedly tucking the girls away.
A man in black dropped from the helicopter and grabbed her around the waist, immediately hoisting her up into the air.
“No!” she shouted, struggling against the vice like arms around her middle. “No! Put me down! GARNER!” she screamed. A pale form emerged from the side of The House, handcuffed with his head down.
“Garrrnnnerrrr!” Missa screamed again. His whipped up and for a moment only too brief, their eyes met and held. She felt as if a live wire was connected between them and in that moment it had come alive. Her chest tightened painfully and tears blurred her vision.
“Don’t let me go,” she whispered.
It's silly, I know, but how can anyone who has ever loved Peter Pan, Tinker Bell , and Neverland, not enjoy a silly story from time to time?
Read on my fellow readers!
“Wake up! Twinkle, c’mon! Get up!”
The demand echoed down a hallway and I struggled to stay asleep. I had been dreaming of my Prince again, the one with the golden egg. I loved that dream so much it was always depressing to wake up from it; to find myself alone in bed, alone in my apartment with nothing or no one to greet me. Maybe I should invest in a pet.
A hand shoved my shoulder, “What’d you do, go on a honey binge last night? I need you to wake up, Twinkle! The Heiress is missing! A search’s been called and everyone from Masters and Reapers to Drones and Skates are out looking for her- TWINKLE!”
“Screaming never worked before, Twister, what makes you think it’ll work now?” As slow as amber sap on a cold pine, I sat up. “Who’s missing?” I asked, not fully comprehending what my cousin was jabbering about.
“Have you heard nothing? The Heiress! You know, the only daughter of the most influential Pixie since your great-grandmother, Tinker Bell,” Twister huffed, hands on hips, waiting for me to do something.
Understanding trickled through and I came fully awake, realizing the repercussions if the little Heiress stayed missing. The fragile infrastructure of the Pixie race would begin to crumble, pollination would slow, and Pixies would no longer trust one another. It was what made them different from the Gnomes and Sprites of the Earth- Pixies acted like one big extended family, where everyone was welcomed with open arms and a smile. No one was a stranger and everyone treated each other fairly. One seedling of doubt or mistrust, and the community as I knew it would suffer greatly.
I jumped from my bed toward my closet, in a sudden hurry to go find the little Heiress.
“Fluffing dandelions, Twister, why didn’t you say something sooner?!” Running around my tiny apartment like an angry bee I dressed, put my hair up, and chugged a left over shot of honey.
“How you can have honey so early in the day will never cease to amaze me,” Twister threw a coat at me. “C’mon Twink, we need to find that little girl before something awful happens to her.”
I nodded in agreement and as I stepped onto the window ledge. With a deliriously happy giggle I leaped out into the open air. What I didn’t add to Twister’s comment is that I’m not worried about the heiress as much as I’m worried about what her disappearance could mean for the Pixie community. There weren’t many of us left since Man invented the car and dirtied up the atmosphere. All the fumes and gases those loud monstrous engines spewed were detrimental to Pixie life and survival. It forced the majority of us to move to smaller, more rural areas, if not right into the woods themselves.
“Any idea who did it?” I asked as I leveled out forty feet from the ground and waited for Twister to close my window and catch up.
“No, there was nothing left behind. Not a single speck of dust to implicate anyone. Are there are, are theories. No facts.”
Our flight above the low roofed buildings and smoke belching chimneys was brisk. The salty air swept up from the ocean, refreshing and clean between the columns of soot billowing from the stacks below.
“Here,” Twister handed me a hankie as we swung higher into the air to improve our vantage.
“Thanks. Ugh. The peat smoke always gets me.” As I pocketed the hankie I noticed a Farris wheel on the other side of town, towering over the low houses.
“Want to check it out?” Twister asked, cutting a hard right without a heads up to her change in direction. “Legend says anytime a band of travelers hit town, Pixies can access Neverland.”
“Don’t be a fungus brain. Travelers in town don’t do anything but bring tourists. And besides, Pixies haven’t been in Neverland since before my great-grandmother’s time. Finding a doorway to it is futile and pointless.”
“Pointless? To go back to our roots? To see the land we came from?”
“There’s a reason Tinker Bell evacuated the Pixies,” I defended.
Sensing our conversation was turning sour we stopped talking and focused on searching for signs of the Heiress as we made our way to what turned out to be a Carnival. As we crossed the threshold of the town, we split up.
“You take north, I’ll take south. I’ll meet you on the other side.” In a blink, Twister was off and I was left to tread air beside the top baskets of the Ferris wheel. The Carnival was mostly inactive, with only the few early rising carnies up and moving around, setting up their displays and fine tuning the mechanical rides. As I made my way slowly around the north end I became aware of a blue orb floating in the air a few dozen yards from where I hovered. It was floating above a faded striped circus tent, mere feet above a yellow waving flag. The orb seemed to gain pigment the longer I looked at it.
Something bumped into my backside and sent me tumbling head over feet.
“Holy lily petals, Twinkle! Do you know what that is?” Twister pointed at the orb. “That’s the Neverland doorway I was talking about!” Excited, Twister dropped her hands from my shoulders and spun up and backward, spiraling toward the orb.
“Wait!” I charged my wings to a sprint, struggling to catch my cousin before she did something stupid. “Twister! You don’t know what it’ll do to you!” I got a grip on her shirt sleeve just as she reached out and touched the luminous ball of blue. In slow motion a bright halo of white and yellow expanded out, up, and down to engulf us in warm ocean air.
“You see that?” I heard Twister say in a dreamy voice.
“Hell’s daisies,” I murmured as I stared out in awe at our surroundings. We were a mile above an ocean sparkling brightly in turquoise and aqua hues, looking at a tropical island shaped vaguely like a compass. Palm trees lined its golden shores, and a tree that looked older than time itself stood atop a hill in the very center. Its branches were lost amid vines and moss that clung and hung from every available branch.
“Where are we?” It was a last ditch effort at denial, I know, but I couldn’t help asking. The warmth of the white sun mingled with the coolness of the ocean below, and I didn’t care if I never went home. It was the most beautiful, most alluring setting I had ever encountered. It was a color saturated, scent drenched paradise built just for Pixies. It was Paradise realized.
“Something’s different,” Twister whispered as she turned to me. Her eyes widened and a grin split her cheeks. “We’re seeing a different color spectrum.”
“What?” I blinked.
“Your hair, it’s bright black like a crow’s feathers. And my skin,” she held up her forearm in example. “It’s tan. I’m never tan. I’m the most un-tanned Pixie I know.”
I looked down at myself and noticed my skin looked luminous, appearing as if I moisturized twice a day.
A tingling started at the base of my neck and spread rapidly through my limbs.
We reached out to each other but not fast enough. Our finger tips grazed and she disappeared. Or rather, I disappeared. Before my vision cleared, I smelled wood smoke and hay. I was back hovering above the circus tent in the Carnival. The change was too much for me. Feeling faint, and unable to support my rapidly drained energy, my wings fluttered to a stop and I slowly sunk toward the ground. The last thing I saw was a pride of Sentinel Pixies nose diving to catch me.
“You think she’ll come around soon?”
It was a male voice I didn’t recognize.
“You’ll get your answers soon enough. Let the poor girl rest.” A different male voice replied. This one sounded older and was flavored with a bit of gravel.
“Rest? We need answers now, Graupel! She’s the only Pixie since Tinker Bell to come back from Neverland! She’s the only one who’s found its doorway!”
I braved a peak through my lashes and found I was high off the floor in a dim room, and the two men were Reapers, the highest militant class of Pixie before royalty. They were easily identifiable by their ridiculously vibrant red wings. They were standing directly next to me; the older one beside my feet, the younger one beside my head. No wonder his shouting seemed so loud.
“You know, shouting never works,” I said as I sat up and rubbed my temples. “Is there any honey here? My head feels like a dulled ax is cleaved between my ears.” The responding silence made me look up. The Reapers both wore expressions of alert fascination. The older one extended his hand in a universal shake of welcome.
“Dear, I’m Graupel Hailer, fourth in the Hailer line, and this here is Shiner Hailer, my nephew.” He shook my hand and bowed, and then motioned to his nephew to come closer.
“A name of Light and a name of Weather should never go together” I recited the childhood rhyme aloud, staring at Shiner. Where it was not uncommon for Pixie families to give their children a name from each side of the family, it was very rare for the Light families to breed with the Weather families. It had something to do with a legend so old no one could remember its origins.
He simply nodded and crossed his arms.
“Right,” I smiled brightly and turned back to Graupel. “I’m Twinkle Rose Bell, sixth in the Sound line, and daughter of the first in the Flower line.”
It appeared my pedigree had surprised the two Reapers. I knew their first thought was what a demi-royal was doing running around dressed like a low-class Skate instead of wrapped in dazzling jewel toned flower petals like the rest of my Royal cousins.
I executed a quick and sloppy curtsy. “Excuse me gentlemen, but I need to leave now.”
“Oh no you don’t.” Shiner grabbed hold of my arm. “We need you to tell us how you found the doorway this morning. And how you came back.”
I glared at his hand on my arm, yanking myself free. “I don’t know. But I need to go back and look for it. My cousin’s trapped inside.” This time Shiner stepped right into my path and I ran into him before my body could tell my feet to stop moving forward.
“I’m going with you.”
I stared into his navy eyes and nodded.
In respect for the elder Pixie I turned and bowed low. “My thanks, for allowing me to recover here, and may my door be open to you and yours in case of need or social inquiry.”
Flipping Shiner both fingers, I exited, leaping off the wooden ledge into immediate flight.
Several hours later, as the sun finished setting and cast the sky a dusky blue-orange, I alighted on an elm branch out of breath and slouched with defeat. Shiner and I had search high and low, inside and out for that ridiculously elusive blue orb that opened to Neverland. The Carnival was in full swing, people still meandering through lanes made by the game booths and rides; balloon animals astride their heads, and their hands and mouths full of popcorn and cotton candy. Just a whiff of the overly sweet spun sugar made my stomach upset.
“Should we meet tomorrow to finish the search? Maybe be here a minute before the time it was you and your cousin arrived today?” Shiner had taken a different attitude when after the first three hours of our search I had not flagged or wavered from my determination.
I nodded. As much as I hated waiting until the next morning, his reasoning was logical.
“Yes,” I sighed as I stepped from the tree branch and hovered face to face with him. “Tomorrow at ten. Please don’t be late. If the orb is here before you are, I’m not waiting.”
He nodded and hovered higher up into the air, “See you tomorrow at ten, then.”
What to do now? I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. After everything that had happened today, sleeping felt wrong. As if by doing so I was betraying my determination to find Twister.
With nothing better to do, I turned for home, stopping by the Wood Sprite’s market to pick up some clover honey. Any honey would do the trick, but clover honey was a particular favorite when I intended to get drunk.
About halfway through the thimble of honey, I slipped off my chair and spilled into a dream- the dream- the one where I walk through a forest and come upon a small lake where a foot-tall frog points me to my Prince. When the frog sees me he points a slimy round toe in the direction of what sounds like a waterfall. I follow the footpath along the water’s edge to the waterfall and stop in surprise. As many times as I’ve had this dream I’m amazed I still have any surprise left at all. But surprised I feel, and surprised I react when I see the man standing beside the cascading water. He’s a Prince, one I’ve never met in person, and he’s holding a ruby and diamond encrusted golden egg. He’s taller than the average Pixie, with clear tan skin and his eyes are goldenrod and sunshine His wings rub a chirp hello.
It’s as if he’s been waiting here for me his whole life and seeing me finally arrive is an absolute joy. We embrace, we smile, and we stare into each other’s eyes until I wake up.
But not this time. This time the dream ended differently. He tried to speak but his words were whisked away by the wind and I run to capture them, as if they were tangible things I could grasp and hold on to. He grabs a hold of my hand and I can’t break free. I turned to ask why he didn’t want me to catch his words. He said something again, and again I couldn’t hear him. Those lovely syllables left his mouth and escaped on the breeze before I could hear their sounds and learn their meaning, and the knowledge translated to complete misery and I awoke amid a choking sob. I so desperately needed to go back to sleep and finish the dream, to learn what happened!
I reached for my thimble of honey, but its absence from its usual spot brought me wide awake. The table was not my table, it was a slab of time worn wood set atop a log, and I was not in my home like I was before I passed out; I’m in the woods. The woods looked frighteningly familiar and I wondered if maybe going through the portal to Neverland had done something to me; had somehow made me capable of teleportation to impossible locations. But how do I get back? Do I need to fall asleep for things to revert back to normal, or just wait to be sucked back into reality like last time?
I stood on unsteady feet and made my way toward the chipper babbling of moving water. Just like in my dream, a clearing appeared ahead set before a turquoise and cobalt lake surrounded by cattails and duck weed. Atop an outcropping of sandstone to my right sat the largest frog I had ever seen. His eyes were mottled green on sassafras, his skin dappled olive and slimy. However, the frog did not point me to the waterfall. Instead, his throat expanded into a translucent bubble and he blasted a ribbit. The croak was so loud and deep it rippled bass waves through the air. Immediately in flight, I zipped away with a ringing in my ears.
After a moment of not paying attention to where I was going, I noticed the change in humidity. Up ahead a waterfall churned the lovely jewel toned river into a white capped froth. Along its left bank were stones that formed a lazy, zigzagging trail to the top. To the right were coniferous trees, the ground blanketed in varying shades of needles. I stayed a comfortable distance from the fall, avoiding the rainbow hued spray as I searched the rocks for signs of life. At this point in my dream the Prince walks from around one of the large stones into the sunshine, the ruby studded golden egg throwing brilliant rose colored prisms against his black shirt. But as time passed and sweat gathered between my shoulders and on my brow from hovering in the sun so long, I realized the Prince wasn’t showing. Like the frog had been different, so had been the waterfall and the Prince, and my hopes sunk. After having the same dream over and over for years, and finally being there and seeing it realized had my heart racing. For the reality of my dream to produce imperfect likenesses, to fail to have the same results as my dream, I was heartbroken.
Feeling defeated, I approached the sun warmed rocks looking for a place to sit when movement caught my eye. A bright light shone from the far side of the rocks, but it was impossible to see what caused it. The light seemed to get closer and grow in size and intensity, and a familiar face loomed at its fringe.
I squinted into the brilliance, “Shiner?”
He wasn’t my Prince! The Prince in my dream had dark hair, aqua eyes, and tan skin. Shiner had fair hair, dark eyes, and neon red wings. Clearly not Royalty and clearly not my Prince!
“What are you doing here?” I demanded, just barely stopping myself from stomping my foot petulantly.
I stepped closer and the light got a little dimmer, Shiner’s face grew bigger.
“Hey Twinkle, you in there?”
“In where? I’m right here,” I spread my hands out to indicate my obvious surroundings and consciousness.
“Wake up,” his face got even larger, proportionately magnifying until his features were all I could see and the waterfall became a vague shadow in the background.
“What’s wrong with you? You’re huge!” I tried to back up but something that felt like a wall pushed back and I remained riveted to the spot. The light surrounding us got even dimmer and Shiner’s features became clearer as his face began to shrink back to its normal size.
“Hey, you with me?” His warm hand gripped my chin, turning my face from side to side. “Well your eyes are focused, so that’s a good thing.”
“What are you doing here?” I asked, suddenly aware I was lying on my back. “Where am I?” I sat up and looked around. I was in my apartment. “How did you get in?”
Shiner backed up until he was on the opposite side of my living room. Arms folded across his chest, he looked me in the eyes.
“Where were you just then?”
I stood and stretched until my back felt somewhat loosened. Sleeping on a wood floor was not comfortable at all.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I was passed out on my floor, you saw me.”
“Not buying it.”
I responded with a blank stare.
“Fine,” he threw his hands up then walked to the window. “It’s a half past eleven. Let’s go.” He leapt from the window in a flash of red.
After I changed shirts and finished the honey remnants in my thimble, I flew out my window toward the Carnival. Whatever chance I had of recreating the day before, to test the theory that the portal to Neverland would return at the same time of day had diminished with my honey supply. The day had a dismal outlook.
When I caught up to Shiner, he had just finished a circuit of the fair grounds. All respect he had the day before had been replaced with unhappy understanding. As a Reaper he was held to higher standards than most Pixies; was required to always maintain a clear mind, clear eyes, and an unbiased heart. As a Reaper, he was militant to the core, would never dream of being anything but, and yet, had plenty of reasons to drown his misery like I did mine. Seeing the underlying implications of Shiner’s mood made me feel sad and jealous at the same time. Maybe if someone held me accountable for my actions, I’d be less reckless, more caring for the repercussions.
I shook my head. Who was I kidding? I hated authority. Authority felt like a wet blanket; heavy, depressing, and restrictive. Why else would a demi-Royal slum with the Skates like I did?
“Stop thinking whatever you’re thinking and focus,” Shiner’s voice interrupted my thoughts and my eyes snapped to his.
Executing a mock salute I flew off toward the main tent in the middle of the Carnival.