Day 15 – Kat and Mrs Chen

Well, this was a bit of a weird story. I wrote it while driving up the coast for a holiday (I mean, I wasn’t driving…my mum was). Anyway, here we go:

A small Asian girl, pulling her mother across the road. I had no idea what their names were, but for our purposes they can be called Kat and Mrs Chen.

I stayed in the car, rain fogging up the windows, as they approached. For two people in a McDonald’s parking lot, they sure seemed gloomy. I was about to drive away, having finished my coffee, but I saw they were heading straight for my car. What did they want?

Whatever it was, Kat and Mrs Chen were getting wetter by the second. I leaned backwards, opened the door to the backseat and ushered them in. Mrs Chen looked more sickly than I had thought.

‘Help,’ said Kat, panting a little, ‘Help us.’

‘Help you do what?’ I said, completely bewildered.

‘We’ll both die soon like this.’ Kat’s eyes were dimming, Mrs Chen’s hands shaking. ‘Please.’

I had no idea what they meant, but a sense of awful dread stuck to me. ‘What do you want me to do?’

‘Drive,’ said Kat. ‘Drive, and I will direct you.’

I’d just been celebrating that I’d finally got my P plates. I didn’t need this kind of hassle. But I found myself driving out of the car park, curious and worried despite myself.

I obeyed Kat’s instructions as the girl’s breathing became ever more ragged. But soon I slowed down. Where the hell were we? I knew the look of everywhere in a half-hour radius – I’d driven everywhere trying to get my P plates. This wasn’t possible. As I kept driving, the asphalt petered out below me, until I was driving on dirt.

‘Almost there,’ said Kat, and I wasn’t sure if she was trying to reassure me, herself or Mrs Chen. Whatever the case, I was now in a place that didn’t – couldn’t – exist. Rolling green hills, blue sky free of clouds, and trees laden with fruit I’d never seen in my life. ‘Where are we?’

Kat smiled, colour returning to her face. ‘We are in Malawai, home of the Elves.’

I drained the last of my coffee and tried to remember if I’d taken any drugs lately. Nope. Maybe she was on drugs. ‘What?’

Kat helped her mother out of the car. As I watched, their coats turned to shiny silver armour. Mrs Chen’s face regained its youth and turned male. Standing in front of me were a pair of warriors.

‘You should not have helped us,’ said the boy.

‘Shit,’ I said.

Day 14 – JUST DIALOGUE

I didn’t like day 14’s prompt, so I decided to find another. I stumbled upon one – use only dialogue. So, following the rest of my rules, that’s what I did. It’s harder than it seems, because you’ve got to convey all of the info that would be in dialogue tags…anyway, here’s my attempt:

“What’s your name?”

“Honestly, you continue to surprise me with your lack of subtlety. I repeat: my name is Penelope, and I do not want to go out with you.”

“Fine, I didn’t want you to. No, no, don’t storm out! Please? Okay, thank you.”

“I’m waiting.”

“Yes, I can see that. Okay, how about we have an intellectual discussion.”

“You? Intellectual?”

“You would be surprised. I can tell you all about the sunshine of Eladroy, and the green-carpeted hills of Lorna…not to mention the shining moon of Gorgabel and – ”

“Okay, now you’re making me sick. Can I just leave? Please?”

“Certainly. But then you would never know the secret.”

“There is no secret. You’re just trying to coerce me into staying in this ridiculous situation.”

“No, really. Here, I’ll prove it: your sister’s name is Moonbeam, isn’t it?”

“Lucky guess.”

“Are you serious? How many people are called Moonbeam these days?”

“She was an accident. My mother is still slightly sore about the subject. Not to mention her drinking habits.”

“Hmm. Well, I didn’t know that. But here’s another thing: I know your middle name is Jezebel.”

“Lucky guess.”

“Come on, even you can’t believe that.”

“Fine, tell me how you do it. Peeked into my contacts book? What, are you some sort of pickpocket?”

“No, just someone very well-acquainted with the family. Remember long-lost Cousin Jeremy?”

“No way.”

“Yes way. No, stop, don’t storm out again – thank you. How about I buy you a drink?”

“No thanks. Water for me.”

“You’re difficult, you know that?”

“I am constantly reminded of the fact, yes. Thanks for pointing it out.”

“Jesus, come back!”

“Please don’t touch my shoulders. I’m very sensitive about them.”

“Well then listen for crying out loud. Okay. I am Cousin Jeremy, long-lost Cousin Jeremy, and I have come here to stay for a while.”

“May I ask why?”

“You may, but it will not yield any answers.”

“Clever. Very clever. Has anyone ever told you how witty you are? Really, it’s refreshing.”

“I am constantly reminded of the fact, yes.”

“Ugh! You’re impossible.”

“You should see long-lost Cousin Alberta…no, no, no, I didn’t mean it! Come back! Honestly, you’re as flighty as a…I don’t know. As a bird.”

“Hurry up and get to the point or I will step on your foot. Reminder: I am wearing high heels.”

“Fine. Here is the point, very simply: your parents are moving country, and they wanted me to show the family business, as it were, before they die. And by family business, I mean magic.”

“Oh, bloody hell, not the magic thing again…”

30 Day Writing Challenge Day 12

For day 12, I had to pick 10 random words and make an alternate meaning for them (for this, I had to pick words I had no idea of the meaning). The phrase in brackets is what the word actually means. Funny how some of them are actually close to my new (and, I daresay, improved) definition. Take a look:

1. Skirr – a skirr is a type of fairy that is only visible at night. It’s small – less than a metre, usually – and a mottled green-brown colour. Or at least, that’s their natural colour. They can take any form they wish. Most of them are female, the males having been died out. They are more or less immortal. (move rapidly with a whirring sound)

 

2. Xanthic – Having “xanths” ie. Many colours. Xanthic creatures or people have colourful skin, often all different colours of the rainbow. The xanthic people, though, are very shy, and barely ever seen. Even when people do see them, they often go blind or insane, because many of the colours don’t exist on Earth. (having a yellowish colour)

 

3. Papilla – a type of meal made from tortillas, caterpillar juice, red peppers and apricots. Enjoyed by many multicultural dwarves. (a small round protuberance)

 

4. Girasole – an optical illusion lens which, when pointed at the sun, gives the appearance that it’s night time. Very useful for astronomers. (a place)

 

5. Kef – A biscuit, easy to make and keeping for a long time. They can be made in large batches and are waterproof. (something smoked to produce a drowsy state)

 

6. Claudent – having the appearance of someone you’ve seen before; inducing a sense of deja vu in all that see you. The claudents blend in almost everywhere. (shutting, confining, drawing together)

 

7. Quidam – a tall elf that often passes as a tree – long brown body with numerous fingers. Often trees will sway, but they are actually quidams.(a show produced by Cirque du Soleil)

 

8. Ephod – a cloak that renders the wearer partially invisible. The cloak decays very quickly and the wearer then regains visibility. (sleeveless garment worn by Jewish priests)

 

9. Indite – a metal precious to the fairy people. It’s used to power their cities and is used in all of their clothes. Indite fibres have a slight healing spell imbued in them. (produce a literary work)

 

10. Uloid – a variety of elf with only one limb, a central leg. There are many different types of uloids, very diverse, and that is the only characteristic they share. (resembling a scar)

Day 11 – Blind Girl Reigns Supreme

Day 11’s prompt for the 30 day writing challenge was something about a power shortage. Here we go: A story where the characters go without power for a day. Okay, so my story doesn’t go for a whole day, but it’s close enough. Here’s my story about the blind girl who’s finally good at something:

There are not many instances in which a blind person excels. Sure, we’re fairly good at bumping into things, and getting sympathy from people. But not much else. Tonight, though, there is no power and no candles, which means that everyone is looking to me for advice. I mean, I’m assuming they’re looking at me. I wouldn’t be able to tell.

‘What do we do?’ says Peter. I think he might be the one clutching my arm.

‘Um,’ I say. It’s hard to make a plan of action when this is exactly the same as what I usually do. ‘Um.’

‘Informative,’ says a small voice, Nina. ‘Very informative.’

‘No torches?’ I suggested.

‘Nothing.’ Peter again.

I stand up, putting my cane in front of me. Most of the time I can find my way around the house without it, so it’s more like a precaution than a guide. With one person’s hand on my shoulder, and one holding my right hand, I lead them out of the lounge room. Nina’s the one holding my hand, I’m sure of it. It’s a dry, steady hand. She’s a smart, sensible girl. But I know she’s still scared. Peter, though, doesn’t make an effort to hide it.

Once we’re out of the lounge room, it’s an easy matter to turn left down the hallway and into my room. We fall onto the bed, all three of us, and it’s pitch black. Well, obviously for me it’s pitch black anyway, but I hear Nina murmuring that there’s no moon tonight.

‘So what are we going to do?’ Peter says.

‘We,’ I say, laying down my cane, ‘Are going to make a fort.’

So we do. Peter and Nina fumble around in the dark, grabbing pillows and blankets and cushions. We prop up a blanket in the centre of the room, and lean the fort up against some bean bags. Eventually, we have a cozy little nest.

‘I’m scared,’ whispers Nina, clutching my hand.

I’m surprised. She didn’t seem scared before. ‘Why are you scared?’

‘It’s all dark. I can’t see anything…how do you stand it?’

The question makes me think. How do I stand it? ‘I guess…I imagine all the things I’m missing. Like colours…tell me about colours.’

‘Which ones?’ says Peter. ‘Which colours?’

‘The whole rainbow.’ I lie back on some cushions. ‘Start with the first one.’

His voice is warm and reassuring, reaching out of the darkness. He speaks with a strange tenderness. ‘Well, red is…anger. When you’re angry at someone, and you close your eyes, that’s what you see. But it’s also luck, and happiness, and love. When you hold hands with someone?’ His hand slips into mine. ‘That’s what red is.’

‘Orange,’ Nina chimes in, ‘Is the best colour. It’s in between go and stop – slow down. It’s mellow, and you can take your time with orange. Like the sunset. Candles. Fire.’

‘Then yellow…yellow is bright and happy. It’s the colour when a dog wags its tail. It’s the brightest part of the day. It’s energy.’

They keep telling me the colours of the rainbow, describing them so that I think I can almost see them. And when the power comes back on, we stay in our little fort, content simply to dream of the colours we’re missing.

Day 10 – The Mysterious Box

Day 10’s prompt: Start story with: “She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled…” I’m publishing this writing challenge late, by the way. I just finished it yesterday, so I actually wrote these about 20 days ago. Anyway, here’s the story for the tenth day. It’s based around Pandora’s box:

She touched the little box in her pocket and smiled. Nobody would connect her to this box. Nobody besides her parents even knew that her name was not Andy but Pandora, the last remaining Keeper of the universe. And why would they need to know?

Andy was two days off sixteen. For all her friends knew, they were celebrating the birthday at Andy’s house with a sleepover. But she’d arranged something different, something magical. Because this was her sixteenth birthday – this was the day that the box would open for her.

She sped up and raced through the school gates just as the bell sounded. Trudy merged with her, long black hair swinging. Poor thing, her parents had called her Gertrude – and in this time and age! ‘Hi, Trude.’

Trudy joined arms with Andy and grinned. ‘Hey, Andy. Ready for the big day?’

‘Am I ever,’ she said. ‘I can drive soon, you know.’

‘Excellent, you can drive me places.’

Andy met up with her other friends at recess. There was Dita, the diminutive Sri Lankan girl, short for Anandita. She exclaimed as Andy approached and clung to her with surprisingly strong arms. ‘Andy! Guess who just asked me out? Ben freaking Jenson. Can you believe it? Should have seen all the white girls when we were holding hands…’ She chuckled, the smile spreading out across her face.

‘Bet they would have been furious,’ she agreed.

Then Jay came and sat down with them. She didn’t talk much, but somehow they’d all become friends. Trudy, Dita, Jay and Andy. They made a good little group, and all of them friends for a span of at least five years. There had been petty fights in primary school, but their similarities had become painfully obvious after the ninth grade, and now they stuck together.

‘So,’ said Andy, clapping her hands, ‘All of you ready for the sleepover on Saturday?’

‘Can I bring Ben?’ said Dita. Andy could have sworn there were actual stars in her eyes.

‘No,’ she said. ‘For two reasons. One, he’ll probably have dumped you by then.’ She held up her hands. ‘Hey, just going by his record. And two? My mum would probably skin me alive, chop off all my fingers one by one, bury me, dig me up and feed me to our dog.’

Trudy and Jay looked a bit horrified. Andy couldn’t really blame them.

Dita just smiled. ‘Okay.’

‘Oh,’ said Andy, ‘And remember to bring your camping materials. Sleeping bag, compass, whatever.’

‘Who has a compass?’ said Jay.

‘And why in the blue-spotted heck do we need camping materials?’ Trudy raised her eyebrows.

Andy grinned and put a finger to her lips. ‘Ah, but that would be telling, wouldn’t it?’

Day 9 – Heaven

Day 9’s prompt was “your favourite city in less than 250 words.” Because I’m a pretentious person, I chose heaven. This is probably the corniest thing I’ve ever written, but…well, I can’t always be amazing 😛

My favourite city is one that may not even exist. If it does, people usually tend to call it Heaven – the place we go to die. It may be a city, it may be an underwater palace, it may be that it’s not a city at all but a whole world, and we experience all of it at once. Perhaps there are angels, or perhaps we live again.

Two things would ruin it, though. First, if we went nowhere at all and ceased to exist. And two, if we went on for eternity.

Both are terrible thoughts. Ceasing to exist and enduring forever are both so…eternal. I don’t want eternal life. I just want to know that there’s something else, something that indicates our short-lived lives have meaning. Something to indicate it’s not an accident.

There are those that go before their time, and those who have been ready for years. But we are all going. There is no meaning unless we think so. And I think so. We are conscious, and alive, and curious, and thoughtful, and flawed, and human. We exist. We don’t need divine intervention to know we matter, but all the same, it would be nice.

So Heaven is my favourite city, and when it’s my time, I can’t wait to visit.

Day 8 – Prequel to the Reluctant Superhero

Day 8’s prompt was to write a prequel to the previous day. 

So this is my piece of writing for day eight. Not very long, but then again most of them aren’t.

I stood in line with the rest of the ten-year-olds. My hands were shaking and my mouth felt dry. Everything in the room seemed like it was conspiring against me – the old men with disapproving glances, the stark whiteness of the building, the snooty stares of the others. Today we would choose whether to be superheroes or villains in the human world.

This system had formed many years ago, when the humans had believed in magic. They needed superheroes, but they needed villains as well, to balance it all out. And plus, humans seemed to like villains. They were always talking about them in the news more than they talked about the heroes. Now that humans didn’t believe in magic, though, we had to be undercover. Incognito. When we switched worlds, our wings disappeared, our ears became rounded, our eyes lost their slants and our clothes changed. Human in every way.

I was almost at the front of the line. The villains went to the left to start training, and the superheroes went to the right. The villains were admired most of all. People said that the superheroes were just a bunch of suck-ups. I didn’t know if it was true or not.

I craned my neck to see what was at the front of the line. Could I just choose? Was there maybe a test? I didn’t know. At the start of the line, the ten-year-old spoke to a hovering imp for a few minutes, then branched off into villain or superhero. But I couldn’t see what was beyond each door. What would training be like?

With a shock, I realised I was at the front. The imp took my hand and stamped something on to it. VILLAIN.

“How do you know?” I said. “What if I want to be a superhero?”

The imp raised an eyebrow. “Well, do you want to be a superhero?”

“No,” I admitted.

The imp rolled his eyes and shoved me forward. “NEXT!”

DAY 7 – THE RELUCTANT SUPERHERO

Day 7’s prompt was “create a superhero. Have them save the day.” I found this one easier than most others, and before I knew it, I’d written almost 1000 words. Here’s the finished product. Well, not finished exactly. The tense is all over the place, but one of the conditions for the challenge was that I couldn’t edit. So here we go:

“But I don’t know how to be a superhero,” I pointed out. “I only know how to be a villain.”

Lord Hiccup thought about it. “I was a villain once, too, you know. But I managed to do it.”

“But I don’t like humans,” I said, crossing my arms.

Lord Hiccup hiccuped. There was no arguing with him once the hiccups started. It was like a stress thing. Boom, he was bringing up the time you’d set a cat on fire when you were eight. Not that it was my fault…

“Okay, so you want me,” I said, just to make sure, “To save a human.”

“Yes.”

I sighed again and saluted feebly. “Bye, Hiccup. I just have to go through the wall, right?” And with that I flew out of the treehouse and down to the markets below. The guardian of the wall was a sprightly young…sprite, and she normally let me through without a hassle. With Lord Hiccup’s permission, it was like she wasn’t even there.

I took a good long look at Elvador before I stepped through the wall. Car exhaust fumes assaulted me, and the air tasted like dirt. How did the humans stand this? When I looked behind me, the wall was gone, as usual. I’d have to finish my task before I could get back.

So where was the damsel I had to save? There didn’t seem to be anyone in distress. Oh – there were some people who seemed to be eating each other’s faces. But that was common in the human world, I’d been told. Sign of affection. I shuddered.

Then: a scream.

I rubbed my hands together. Screams were always good. I could follow them to my damsel in distress. Immediately I kicked off the ground, forgetting I didn’t have wings anymore, and fell flat on my face to the cement ground. People didn’t even stop to help me up; the crowd just parted around me and kept going, as though I was simply a very ugly roundabout. I winced and peeled myself off the pavement. I couldn’t afford to do that again. My clothes were typical human attire: boring, boring and boring. Knee-length blue denim shorts and a some sort of black T-shirt with a skull on it. Seemed morbid to me.

The scream again. Excellent.

I made use of my puny little legs and ran with all my might towards the sound of the scream. Though I didn’t have my wings or pointed ears anymore, the super-hearing was still installed. I pushed past some elderly people – seriously, it would be so much easier for humans if they just flew – walking with sticks, and down a side alley that tingled my unfortunately super-sensing nostrils.

A boy. In front of me, instead of my damsel in distress, was a boy screaming his lungs out. He was quite a pretty boy, all long lashes and blond hair and green eyes. Admittedly I couldn’t see much of his eyes, because he was crying, but I was almost 97% sure that they would be green. Sighing, I slowed down and sat down next to the boy. I had to help him now.

“What’s wrong?” I said, trying to sound understanding. It didn’t work. I was too used to being a villain.

The pretty boy sniffed. “My mum’s gone.”

“How old are you?” I said.

“Eleven.” He sniffed. “I’m Henry. What’s your name?”

I couldn’t tell him my name was Madison. If it was embarrassing for a villain, it was mortifying for a superhero. “Um, Henrietta.”

Henry sniggered. “That’s a girl’s name.”

Why did I always go for the girls’ names? “I was just seeing if you were listening,” I said hastily. “My real name is Percival. You can call me Val.”

“Val is also a girl’s name.”

Why did girls get all the good names? “Fine,” I snapped. “Call me Percy if it makes you feel any better. Now: when did you last see your mum?”

He thought about it. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her. I live on the street most of the time. Sometimes Mr Antonio from the restaurant lets me sleep upstairs with him, and he gives me leftover spaghetti, but that’s only when his wife isn’t hurting him.”

A cold feeling rushes down me. “And how often is that?”

Henry shrugs. “Almost every night.”

“Right,” I said, grabbing his arm, “We are going to get ice cream.”

His eyes lit up. They were green. Score for the superhero. “Ice cream! I’ve never had ice cream before.”

The poor kid. “You can have whatever flavour you like.”

If it was one thing the humans knew how to do right, it was ice cream. As we sat slurping them at a park bench, me with boysenberry and Henry with about seventeen different flavours, I wondered how humans could be so wrong about some things and so right about others. Like Henry: he was all alone in the world, but he’d still given the fifty cents change to an older woman who was shivering on a street corner. Amazing how the people that had the least could give the most.

When we were finished our ice creams, I thanked Henry for the day out, and he thanked me for the ice cream. Before it became too awkward, I hugged him and walked off. Sure enough, there was a tingling in my fingers and I was back at the wall. The human world still resonated in my mind.

Maybe being a superhero wasn’t so bad after all.

Writing Challenge Day 6 – Watches

Day’s six prompt was “Start your story with: “He glanced at his watch impatiently…” So naturally, that’s what I did. As always, the challenge can be found here. Not quite sure where I was going with this prompt, so it’s not as long as some of the others.

He glanced at his watch impatiently. Not because he was late but because it wouldn’t. Work. He jiggled it a bit more and resigned himself to the worst – the bloody thing wasn’t waterproof. He wondered if he could sue them for that, seeing as though it said it was waterproof.

‘Spectacular dive,’ said someone.

‘Really marvelous,’ said another.

Jeremy was used to these kinds of comments. He didn’t understand why they said it to him. Diving was just like falling, but more elegant. It wasn’t that hard. ‘Thanks,’ he said, still jiggling his watch. What a bummer.

Then came a different voice. A girl’s voice. ‘What’s wrong with your watch?’

Jeremy spun around and saw Lexie, who was clever and sarcastic and funny. ‘Um, it won’t work. I dived into the pool with it,’ he added.

Lexie had brown hair, and it was very long. Jeremy liked it. ‘Here,’ she said, flipping her hair back and taking his wrist in her hands. She reset the hands and, lo and behold, it started ticking again. ‘I guess I’m a watch mechanic now.’

‘I guess so.’ He kept watching her. Watch. Watch.

She laughed and slapped him playfully on the shoulder. ‘See you at school tomorrow, yeah?’

‘Yeah.’ Jeremy held up his watch. ‘Thanks for…whatever you did.’

She doffed an imaginary hat and promptly disappeared. Jeremy blinked a bit, thinking he’d missed something. But she was gone, alright, into thin air no less. Jeremy didn’t yet know what a Watcher was, and if he had, he would have dove back into the swimming pool and never surfaced.

But of course, Jeremy didn’t know what a Watcher was, and so he felt his heart burst with the inexplicable love he felt for Lexie. And he couldn’t wait to see her again.

 

30 Day Writing Challenge – Day 5!!

Day 5 had to be a story based on an item in the room. I chose a pencil case. Don’t ask me why. I could have chosen a piano, or a Poptart, or a bottle of bug spray (it’s a very eclectic room). But no. I chose the pencil case. You can find the challenge here.

On the whole, it was a suspicious-looking pencil case. What if she’d written the quadratic formula inside it? I bent my head and tried to concentrate on the exam, but that pencil case kept bugging me. I couldn’t help it. My head shot up and I fixed my eye on it. Pink, the whole thing, with little frills. She could have had a knife in there, for all I knew. Why had they let her keep it on the desk? I’d even had to take the label off my water bottle, for crying out loud.

I shifted in my chair to get a better look at it. Pencil cases were always very sly things – they tended to move when you weren’t looking. I kept my eye on it – but then I had to sneeze.

The hall erupted in a chorus of “bless you”s, and the anxious teachers walked around trying to make them shut up.

But the pencil case had moved. It was on her right hand side now. Tricky things, pencil cases.

Of course, I never expected it to actually have something in it. It was just my way of avoiding equations that seemed nothing but meaningless scribble. So it was a huge surprise to me when the door of the hall burst open and several monkeys came sliding in.

I leaned back in my chair, positive I wasn’t seeing this right. Exam brain, that’s what it was. Costumes, surely. They had to be costumes.

One of the monkeys came towards me, his furry mask slipping off. ‘Hi, Audrey.’

‘Not my name,’ I reminded him. ‘Are you coming to get me out of maths?’

‘Not exactly. I’m coming to get Melanie’s pencil case.’ He yanked it off her desk and held it up above his head. ‘I’ve got it, everybody!’ From inside the pencil case, he withdrew a slip of paper and cleared his throat. Every eye in the hall was on him, and he noticed it. I hated people like that. ‘Dear Mum…I know you’ve always said that being gay is against your religion, so I guess you’ve got a choice: me, your daughter, or your religion?’

The hall erupted into cackles, and Melanie put her head on her desk. She wasn’t a particularly nice persons by all accounts, but that was out of line.

‘Not on, Ben,’ I growled, standing up.

And, to my eternal surprise, I punched the side of his face so that he toppled over like the monkey he was.