Collaboration Station – Foresight: Part 3

As his fingers curled around the object he was blasted with a memory, one strong enough to obliterate the walls of his prison. You can read the previous instalments by clicking on the appropriate link: Part 1Part 2.

An instant later the world dropped away and he was lying in a hospital bed, body broken and twisted; a shadow of its former self.

“Dad?” he croaked, staring into the familiar face.

“Welcome back, son. It’s good to see you.”

He swallowed, his throat so dry it burned. “What happened?”

“There’s time for all that. I’m glad you made it back to us.” His dad’s voice was clouded with unexpected emotion.

Theo would have pressed for details if they weren’t already circling his brain, like a movie on fast forward. The moment he closed his eyes the accident flashed into view, like it had been waiting to surprise him behind darkened lids.

He saw himself at the Academy, among a group of his peers. They were all gifted, unlike him, and yet he felt a familiar sense of peace.

A large globe sat in the centre of the room, and Johnson, one of the founders, was demonstrating his ability to the group. He had a handful of clay figures in his hand, and he used them as part of the show, flaunting his gift. Theo had never liked him. He remembered that well enough.

Hannah bounced up from her seat, challenging Johnson before he could. She was the new girl. He didn’t know her very well, but she had the gift of sight and…

Theo’s eyes snapped open; the scenes from his vision intruding on the small hospital room. “Oh, god,” he muttered, reeling from his discovery.

“What is it?” his father asked, voice rising in panic.

“I know what the drones represent.”

“What?” His father’s face creased in confusion, before settling back to concern. “You were in an accident, buddy. You were heading home from the Academy and your car hit a bus.  Thank God you’re alive.” He pressed a button on the wall above Theo. “You’ve been in a coma for over a week.”

Theo’s mouth dropped open when the doctor walked in. It was him, the old man from the dream. The one who’d called himself his grandfather.

“Great. You made it,” he said, the words echoing back to the room at the top of an endless staircase. “Let’s check you over.”

“I’ll wait outside,” his father said, throwing the doctor an odd look.

“How’re you feeling, Theo?” he asked when they were alone.

“I know what the drones represent,” Theo answered, impatient now.

“Tell me.”

“I was fighting against the machines, wasn’t I? I can control electricity.”

To demonstrate his new discovery he sent the heart monitor into overdrive, stealing a laugh from the old man.

“Finally,” he said, moving forward to turn off the monitor. “But do you remember who I am?”

Theo squinted his eyes, trying to pluck the memory from his brain. “You can’t be my grandfather,” he said, and then remembered the conversation from his dream. They’d been speaking of his biological father. He could see that now.

“For a long time you didn’t remember your real father. After the incident at the factory, your brain shut down so tightly, not even your gift could break free,” he explained. “But with a little help from Johnson, we were able to gain access to your dreams.”

“But something went wrong?” Theo guessed.

“It was too much, too soon, and you got stuck in the dream. You associated your emerging gift with a threat, hence the drones. Your body was actually fighting the very thing that was trying to help you.”

Theo turned when he heard voices in the hall and knew they didn’t have much time.

“You’re gift will serve us all when the time comes. Until then, you must go on as normal and continue to attend the Academy. Johnson will teach you.”

“Not him. Please, anyone but him,” Theo begged.

“I don’t make the rules. I enforce them.” The old man, his grandfather, he was beginning to realise, jabbed the switch on the monitor. “When it’s safe I’ll tell you all about our work, and the truth about your father.”

“Wait,” Theo croaked, as he began to walk out of the room. “Are you really a doctor?”

The responding grin made him look positively youthful. “I have talents of my own,” he said, and slipped from the room.

Theo’s mind was reeling, but he didn’t have time to digest the information before the door opened again.

“I have a friend of yours,” his father said. “She’s been here every day.”

Hannah stepped around him with an armful of books. “Just call me his guardian angel,” she said, and winked.

On a weary sigh Theo relaxed back against the pillows. “It’s better than stalker anyway,” he said and she laughed.

***

I hope you enjoyed it. Rachel and I had great fun working together.

Thanks for reading.

Mel

Collaboration Station – Foresight: Part 2

As if sensing his confusion she looked up and grinned. “Sight is not your gift, it’s mine,” she said cryptically. “I receive the information and you…” she shook her head. “I’m getting ahead of myself. Would you like to meet the team?” To read Part 1 click here.

“Team?” He was starting to get a bad feeling. It was like an itch at the back of his neck; his instincts were telling him to get the hell out of there. “Look, this is all very interesting, and I appreciate the…”

“I didn’t take you for a coward,” she said, rising to her feet. There was disappointment in her eyes.

“You don’t even know me.” It annoyed him, the defensive tone to his voice.

“I know everything about you, Theo.”

Right. The following thing. “You’re not exactly filling me with confidence here.”

Her musical laugher filled the room, echoing around him. “I knew I’d like you,” she said and turned towards the staircase. “Don’t worry. If we wanted to harm you we’d have left you out there.”

She ran up the staircase and disappeared, leaving him at a loss.

“You coming?” he heard a few moments later.

He hesitated before ascending. The staircase seemed to go on forever, and as he began to climb he heard voices.  Words like, “The boy,” and “Resistance…” floated down to him.

When he reached the top he saw five people, including Hannah, standing around what appeared to be a 3-dimensional map of the world. They didn’t appear to notice him, because no one turned or stopped talking.

He inched forward quietly, pausing when an old man with a grey beard turned to stare at him. He seemed to be the leader of the group.

“Great. You made it,” the old man said.

“Made it where?”  Theo asked, looking at the map.

“You know.” He shrugged nonchalantly. “You’ve been here before.”

“No. I haven’t.  And I demand to know what’s going on.” This time Theo’s voice held a note of authority.

“Hannah,” the man said as he turned towards her.

“Yes, grandpa.”  She picked up a small toy, shaped like a person, and held it above the map.

“You’d better go and get the stuff we need for tonight,” he replied. “Everyone else you’re dismissed.  I want to talk to Theo alone.”

Theo watched as the man took the toy person from Hannah and replaced it.

He waited until everyone had filed from the room before speaking. “What’s going on?”

“How much do you remember?” the old man countered, flexing his fingers in front of him.

“Remember about what?” Theo sighed, struggling to get a hold on his patience. “Look, I don’t know what kind of operation you’re running here, but I don’t have time for this.”

He could only stare when the man began to laugh, a sound that came from deep within his belly. “If only you knew how apt it is you should refer to time,” he spluttered. “That at least is new.”

“Why do you insist upon talking in riddles?” he asked, about ready to turn on his heel.

“Humour an old man. We’ve had this conversation so many times I‘ve lost count.”

A slither of alarm travelled down his spine. He was clearly deluded.

Still he couldn’t prevent himself from asking one more question. “If that’s the case, why don’t you cut to the chase and tell me why I’m here exactly.”

“Your father,” he said as he walked towards Theo.

“What about my father?”

A wiry, veined hand clamped down on his shoulder. “Do you remember him?”

He shook of the hand and started to back away. “Of course not.  He died when I was three.”

The old man wouldn’t give him an inch.  “Do you remember how he died?” he asked.

“An accident at the factory.”

Theo watched him walk back towards the map. “Not exactly,” he said so quietly Theo strained to hear him.

“What do you mean by not exactly?” he demanded.  “What do you know about my father?”

“He died to save you.  He was part of the resistance.”

Theo felt panic skitter in his gut. “That doesn’t make any sense. How can his death have anything to do with me?”

“You have a gift, Theo. But there was an accident and now we’re all living in a loop only you can fix.” The old man’s quiet stare was haunting.

“You’re crazy.” He backed towards the stairs, amazed at his level of control. What he really wanted to do was turn and flee as quickly as his legs could carry him.

“What is it with the drones, Theo? What do you hope to achieve by bringing them into our reality.”

Theo shook his head. He’d rather go back and face the drones, than listen to any more from the guy.

He wondered if anything he said would make a difference. “I didn’t bring the drones.”

“Then who did?”

The question flummoxed him, and instead of moving away, he found himself walking closer to the old man. There was something familiar about him now. Something he couldn’t place. Like maybe he’d seen him before.

“Who are you?”  Theo asked, watching as he grabbed a figurine from the map table.

“Don’t you remember?” He shoved the figurine into Theo’s hand. “I’m your grandfather.”

As his fingers curled around the object he was blasted with a memory, one strong enough to obliterate the walls of his prison.

***

Collaboration Station – Foresight: Part 1

It’s collaboration time again. I recently began co-authoring Foresight with a new member of Writing Room 101 – Rachel-Elaine Peterson.

I’ve had a blast working with Rachel-Elaine and the fun isn’t over yet! As we both enjoy the Science Fiction Genre, that’s what we settled on. You’ll find the first part below. Find out more from Rachel-Elaine here.

Foresight

Part 1 

Theodore ran down the alley like the hounds of hell were on his tail, not that he believed in such things. Even if he did, he couldn’t run any faster without making it easier for them and falling on his face. His legs pumped in time with his heartbeat and the crazy thought occurred to him that if his legs stopped, so would his heart. He wasn’t taking any chances.

He’d tried to reason with them, even knowing they were mindless machines without the luxury of independent thought. To them he was a renegade, an insurgent, and he had to be stopped at all costs. It didn’t matter they would be better off on his side of the war, hence the mindless part. They were drones; stripped of all personality. It was a sad fact, and one which described most of the human race. Not that he was bitter or anything.

He slowed down enough to look back.  The moment he did he was sorry.  The drones were gaining speed and catching up to him.  There were about five or six of them and they weren’t going to stop until they’d caught him.  He picked up speed, the fastest he had ever run. He didn’t notice his shoelace had worked its way loose.  As he glanced back a second time, he tripped over his laces and fell flat on his face.

I’m dead, he thought, aware they were getting closer and closer.

Suddenly, a young girl with a black hoodie over her head, ripped up jeans, and a pair of converse, appeared out of nowhere.  The girl, who didn’t look older than 16, grabbed Theodore’s hand and took him into the darkest part of the ally.  She looked around before opening a rusted metal door. The next thing he knew she was shoving him inside and slamming the door shut.

He stepped into a room no bigger than a broom closet. The walls were a mass of exposed brick and ruined plaster. A smell permeated from the ground, a rancid unholy smell that had nausea clawing at his stomach. As if the situation wasn’t bad enough, he was afraid he might vomit at the girl’s feet.

A shadow passed in front of the door, making his tense. Light seeped in from a large gap in the frame, and he imagined his pursuers opening the metal door and reaching in to grab him. It wouldn’t take much effort, there was barely enough room to house the two of them.

He frowned down at the girl as she began to move, turning towards the back wall and placing her palm on the exposed plaster. She barely made a sound, but it still sounded like a gunshot going off inside his head.

Perspiration beaded along his lip when he felt the blast of air and he waited to face the drones. That was when he realised the draught was coming from behind, not in front of him.

Feeling a little foolish he spun to discover the wall had fallen away. The light beyond was coming from a room so large his brain was having difficulty processing the new information.

“Close your mouth, it’s embarrassing,” the girl said beside him. “And fasten those laces. We wouldn’t want another accident.”

“Who are you?”  Theodore asked nervously.  He knew the mystery girl could hear his voice tremble.

“Doesn’t matter,” she said, disappearing into the other room.  He stood as though frozen, unable to feel his legs.

“You coming?”  He heard from inside the room.

After a few moments Theodore pushed forward. He walked into what seemed to be a vast library; one with no end.  There was a spiral staircase in the centre of the room, and that too appeared to go on forever. Books covered the floor, though it appeared none were missing from the shelves.

The young girl was looking at a collection of old books.  “So who are you again?”  he asked, this time with more authority.

“Hannah.  You’re Theodore right?” When she looked up at him she was smiling. “How…did…you…” He started to say when Hannah interrupted him.  “I know all about you.  I’ve been following you for years.”

“Well, this isn’t creepy at all,” he mumbled and glanced away, taking in the vastness of the room.

When he looked back Hannah was studying an old book, eyebrows bunched in deep concentration. He took a step closer to see what had caught her attention, but the pages were blank.

As if sensing his confusion she looked up and grinned. “Sight is not your gift, it’s mine,” she said cryptically. “I receive the information and you…” she shook her head. “I’m getting ahead of myself. Would you like to meet the team?”

***

Thanks for reading.

Mel

Collaboration Station – Little Prytt and Simyn Snail – Part 2

Below you will find the second and final part of my collaboration with Cynthia Morgan (booknvolume). To learn more, and to read the first part, click here.

Little Prytt and Simyn Snail – Part 2

autumnleafdragonIn spite of the shortness of their journey, Little Prytt kept a sharp ear tuned to the sounds coming from the forest. At any moment the ferocious crimson monster could careen out of the shaggy undergrowth or the bounteous, swaying treetops to terrorize them.

Fluttering, tumbling, darting and spiraling ahead of Simyn, Little Prytt danced upon the warming morning zephyr and sang a wordless song, attempting to lighten both their nervous spirits, and soon the broad clearing came into view.

It was a swaying ocean of tall grasses with feathery, seeded tops bristling in the breeze. Colourful flowers decorated the ocean of green and a bright, blue sky smiled overhead. Around its border stood the tall sentinels of the forest; raising their leafy heads hundreds of feet into the air, while at their feet stood gatherings of flowering wild rose bushes and fragrant honey-blossom shrubs. Here and there, rabbits contentedly grazed, pudgy woodchucks rambled, and lyrical birdsong filled the open spaces.

Prytt danced to their music; the accompaniment of the forest. She laughed, fluttering playfully around Simyn, but they both froze when a shadow fell across the ground. It was long and sharp-edged. So large in Prytt’s eyes, it should have blocked out the sun.

She landed atop Simyn’s back and clung onto him, waiting for the beast to show himself. They were out in the open; defenseless now.

“If we stay in the light, we’ll be okay,” she whispered, reassuring herself as much as her friend.

The shadow moved, it was smaller now as it moved along the forest floor, edging closer to them. Prytt peered into the darkened edge of the clearing, waiting for the light to settle so she could face her fears head on.

What she saw confused her, for it must have been a trick. Some powerful illusion meant to pull her in until there was no escape. Two unblinking green eyes stared back at her, with mirroring parts of fear and fascination. His lithe body held a golden sheen, the scales seeming to glow with the reflection of light off his autumn red wings.

They spread now, as though in welcome, and they were shaped like the leaves of her favourite tree. He could have been carved from the bark, so beautiful and rich were his colours. It had to be an illusion she thought again. This was no giant monster sent to terrorize her humble home.

“No!” Simyn’s voice rumbled up to her when she fluttered closer.

She was suspended now, half in the light and half in the shadows, mesmerized by the creature before her. In response he spread those magnificent wings and flew up to meet her, giving them both room enough to retreat. The sunlight glinted at the edge of his wings, setting them on fire. It cast a glow so strong she could have sworn she felt heat.

“Don’t be afraid,” he whispered, in a musical voice that cast a spell on her. She blinked at him, so surprised she was rendered speechless. “My name is Dryyca. Dryyca the Dragon.”   His voice was as smooth and soft as the purest honey, without an ounce of malice or threatening spite.

She stared at him in utter astonishment, realizing he wasn’t much larger than Simyn. “I thought,” she began, but words failed her. How could she tell him she’d been terrified of him only moments ago? Simyn, however, was not as reticent.

“You scared the living daylights out of us!” he said, his voice a low rumble. He had to raise his head to see the oddly unthreatening creature.

Dryyca backed away from the booming sound of his voice and darted into nearby shadow.

Prytt turned with crossed arms and looked down at her friend disapprovingly. “Simyn, you scared him!”

“He scared us first,” he replied in a low whine.

Laughing at their silliness, Prytt darted after the small, leafy dragon and cooed gently into the shrubbery where he had taken refuge.

“Dryyca. Come out, Dryyca and play. We can dance upon the light of the day and sing in the sweet berry patch.”

His little face popped through the green shadows and he blinked at her with disbelief. “Really? You’d play with me?”

Prytt smiled and circled invitingly, even while Simyn shook his head and rumbled uncertainty.

“Of course. If we’d known who you truly are, we wouldn’t be afraid.” She laughed again, a musical sound. “But you’re a friendly monster!”

Dryyca laughed and fluttered out of the bushes. As he spun in circles around them, the light caught his small frame and rebounded onto the forest floor. It stretched far and wide, the colour cast by the sun a deep and burning orange; beautiful now they knew him.

“You knew that would happen,” Simyn complained, shivering at the image despite himself, and then he chuckled. “It’s a kind of camouflage, isn’t it?”

“Not all in the forest are as friendly as you. It can be a lonely place,” Dryyca said, though he didn’t feel lonely now. He felt light and playful, and ready to dance.

So on the sound of Simyn’s amusement, and the friendly encouragement from Prytt, he danced, high into the air and bathed in the glorious light he had once hidden from.

***

Thanks for reading

Mel

Collaboration Station – Little Prytt and Simyn Snail: Part 1

One of the reasons I created Writing Room 101, besides a fun place to read, write and share our experiences, is an interest in collaborative writing. I love what happens when two or more authors get together and write something; how their styles find a way to blend and compliment each other.

I recently collaborated with Cynthia Morgan, over at booknvolume. We began with an image, and Morgan started the ball rolling with a few paragraphs. Then magic happened 🙂 This genre is a first for me, and I loved the way Morgan inspired me to try something new. We had no idea where it would lead, but took cues from each other and came to a natural conclusion. I had a great deal of fun, and can honestly say it was an absolute pleasure to co-author this piece.

We split the story into two parts, and below you will find part one. I hope you enjoy it. I’m looking forward to working with Morgan again in the future.

Little Prytt and Simyn Snail – Part 1

hotel___lumaca___by_nataly1stLittle Prytt lived in quite a special house, a house that went with her wherever she went and kept her warm on cold nights. It was not because it was made of sturdy brick and stone, not because it was nestled close in the embracing arms of a broad oak, or because it was protected in the close company of the village. Her home hummed and trilled and sang songs with her on dark nights. It moved quietly and slowly through even the rockiest terrain and took her to magical places, although she never left home. Most importantly of all, it was her friend and companion- something no ordinary house could ever be.

Little Prytt’s house was, in fact, her best friend. Many nights they watched the luminous sun bow graciously at the sill of the world, bidding the sweet, quiet forest goodnight before it slipped silently into its nightly bed. Then, in the lavender twilight, the dancing lights of fireflies emerged from the emeraldine canopy, descending with jubilant, scintillating sparkles that brightened the dimness, surrounding Little Prytt and her smiling home. Together they would giggle and play while the effervescent evening sighed.

One fine morning, Little Prytt fluttered out her door and said to her home, “Simyn Snail, this feels like the day for a grand adventure.”

Simyn chuckled, a deep rumbling sound that sent tiny vibrations along the tips of Little Prytt’s wings. The sun shone a beam of light onto the forest floor, drawing Prytt towards it and the magic of a new dawn. She danced along the beam, twirling and weaving to a rhythm as familiar as the beating of her heart. The accompaniment from Simyn was a sweet music. It rose and fell as Prytt did, gliding and swirling as it gripped them both. It was a celebration; a party for two, for they were the only ones caught in the moment. Or so they thought.

It was Prytt who sensed it first. Shifting from light to dark, she felt the shadow – cold against her skin. Only one creature in the forest could make her feel that way: the rarely seen, but often feared crimson dragon!

Simyn felt it too and shuddered as a result. She heard the proof of his discomfort when the dishes and glasses inside her house rattled precariously.

What could the monster want and why was he following them? It didn’t make any sense. It was daylight and dragons rarely came out in the morning sun.

Ignoring the great and terrible beast was the best option, she decided.

She shot up into the air and called out in her most cheerful voice. “Come on, Simyn. Let’s go to the clearing and spend the day eating berries and drinking from the Laughing Brook.”

Simyn mumbled uncertainly, but followed her as she fluttered out of the deep emerald shadows into the brighter light of the clear day. It wasn’t far to the clearing, only a few yards, though a few yards is farther than the average snail might choose to travel in one day.

***

Thanks for reading.

Mel

Hope

Part 5 of the collaboration between Laura and I.

She awoke some time later to the welcome realisation she was alone.

The moonlight lit the bottom half of her bed, and her eyes were drawn to the window before she felt the cold.

At first she thought it was an illusion, the way her curtain danced along the ledge; stirred by the cool night air. Night, she thought now, she could see clearly through the open window.

A surge of hope shot through her veins, making her dizzy. It wasn’t enough to beat back the after effects of the drugs. Her body was still coated in lead.

She closed her eyes to hold back the tears. What new form of torture was this? To have a chance at freedom, only to be too weak to make her escape.

Another thought struck her then, and her eyes flew open as she searched the room. It had to be a trap.

The windows had been sealed shut months ago. If she was incapable of leaving her bed, there was only one other person capable of such a feat.

Her eyes darted back to the window again and the shadows at either side of the tall frame. She’d been mistaken before. She wasn’t alone.

A stranger was in the room with her. A stranger who looked so much like her it had to be a mirage.

As the figure moved further into the moonlight, the glow cast a haunting shadow. Looking at her was like looking into a mirror, and into the face of a younger, healthier version of herself.

For a moment they stared at one another. Then the ghostly figure stepped forward. She moved with elegance and grace. Her tread confident, yet mindful of her place.

April was too stunned to be afraid. The stranger knew exactly where to stand. The exact path April herself had taken many times, to ensure she didn’t make a sound.

She blinked up into the familiar face and felt her heart accelerate. She knew this woman, she just didn’t know how. The memory eluded her, taunted her with its severity.

The woman seemed to understand her dilemma and her eyes glowed with an understanding that brought fresh tears to April’s eyes.

Still her heart lurched when the woman held out a hand to display an object in her palm. It was a syringe.

‘It will counter-act the poison,’ she heard a soft whisper. Yet the stranger’s lips never moved.

So, she was dreaming, April thought, fighting off disappointment. Maybe there was something she was supposed to do, something her mind was trying desperately to impart.

Her lucid moments were fewer now, but at least the hallucinations had grown less intrusive. This wasn’t one of her drug induced nightmares. This was important. She understood that, and because she understood, she carefully rolled up the sleeve of her nightgown.

The task had beads of sweat springing up along her forehead. Even such minimal effort brought on a wave of dizziness that wanted to drag her back under.

Her heart hammered in her chest as she clung to the hope still blooming within her.

She felt the stranger’s touch, when it came, as soft and light as the feathery wings of a bird.

It calmed her, the contact. She had been alone for so long, denied comfort or affection too many years to count.

Even the slight pinch as the needle pierced her skin was a welcome alternative to the rough hands of her aunt.

For the longest time she felt nothing but the cold breeze, heard nothing but her own erratic pulse.

Then everything stilled and in that moment she saw and felt a dozen things at once.

***

Over to you, Laura. Have fun with it!

Mel

If you missed previous instalments, you can find them here;

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Thanks for reading 🙂