Friday, January 30, 2009

Sunshine Snow (and Friday 5)

Well, I've been meaning to write something for quite awhile, but of course, my meaning to and actually going to do can amount to drastically different things. I've had another krazy week. (note the K vs. C) but today is looking up...I wonder whether it actually has anything to do with the weekend...hmmm....ignore my ramblings, I've just stumbled upon a new Meme and figured I'll give it a try, it's called Friday 5, so here we go!

1. In American football, a fumble occurs when the player carrying the ball drops it, often resulting in a great advantage for the other team. What have you recently fumbled in your own life?

My health. Lol. I don't know if that can really count, but I've had a rather weird sore throat for quite some time now and while it is getting better (slowly) it's thrown a lot of things out of whack. I generally make an effort to take better care of myself, but during the holidays of 2008 I was tired of fussing over me and figured it was all right to eat some sweets and forget about paying attention to other important eating on time. Not exactly a good thing to forget.

2. In American football, you have thrown an interception when someone from the other team catches the ball you meant for your teammate. Who’s often an interceptor of something you intend for someone else?

A nameless relative if I might? (since said person may read this post, lol) It's often like a magnet, drawing away all the encouragment and inspiration I meant for another, to be absorbed into this needy person. Sometimes I feel bad, because I know they both need something, but often I only have the patience (not the energy, or stress, etc, the patience!) to offer it to one person.

3. One of the severest penalties in American football is for unsportsmanlike conduct, when a player doesn’t play according to the spirit of fair play. In what situations are you most likely to be a perpetrator of unsportsmanlike conduct?

When I'm the messenger. I'm often the one carrying messages in between of two parties and I feel constantly overlooked at times, when I am carrying a bit of particularly important information, (like who is picking up who to take to the concert at school tonight) and for my own selfish purposes, I keep it to myself when others keep talking over me.

Or, when I've put a great deal of effort into something and have been accused of slacking off for the one second of rest I thought to take, I'm afraid my temper gets the best of me and when I'm not feeling very 'bouncy' I take a very abrupt turnaround and instead, come across as the fix-it person. I am actually the last person contacted in certain situations, because it is known I will not be wallowing around listening to every replay, I will want all the details and then to know the current plan of action and if there is not one, I will make one. I will take charge whether others like it or not.

4. In American football, the concept of running low-risk plays that consistently gain a few yards at a time is called “moving the chains,” while the concept of going after huge gains with higher-risk plays is called the “vertical game.” In your personal life, are you more of a moving-the-chains player or a vertical-game player?

I am more of a Moving-the-chains person. Occassionally I venture out (like this blog, for instance, still a shaky venture for me) and I will try a "Vertical Game".

5. Sometimes in American football, the quarterback will, at the last moment, change his or her mind about the intended play, either to prevent what is likely to be a failure or to take advantage of a vulnerability in the other team. The method used in this play-change is often “calling an audible.” In what way have you recently called an audible in your life?

When my Mom "sprained" her leg and I had to take charge of the house to keep the rest of the family together. Thankfully, she is doing better...and I am not as stressed out as I was during the rest of this week.

So there we go, my Friday 5. Click the button to join the meme and be sure to copy the questions and answer them yourself. ^_^ Enjoy!

Tonia's Happy Place (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Dorinda at Treasures In Jars of Clay. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Note: I'm terribly sorry if this is a little mixed up. I was aiming for a slightly lyrical feel, but I think I rather missed it entirely, as the character of little Tonia completely ran away and wrote her own story. *sigh* Do enjoy...Tonia had fun writing, the ending is a bit cliche, but she wanted it like that. ^_^ Oh and by the way, this is the 60th post of Fiction Fusion! Wahooo!!!

Tonia chewed her pencil for another full minute, then threw it away as hard as she could. She didn’t care if it bounced off the wall and whether it woke anyone. She was plain tired of her life, her school and the stupid assignments she was forced to do every single day.

She scowled at her sister’s homework. Dearest Dana was much too perfect to do her own homework, so Mummy had insisted that Tonia do it for her instead. Tonia had bitten her tongue twice, to keep from blurting out how the real reason behind her sister’s inability was the fact both parents refused to see.

Tonia sighed. “At least I am getting an education.” She muttered, dumping the sheaf of papers and books on the edge of her nightstand.

Her room was rather crowded, from necessity than anything else. It wasn’t the normal sort of teenage bedroom, for her parents didn’t see it fit to grant her that. Her problem was a big one, she was quite sure of that. Her parents forbid her to actually go to school, so that she would stay home and do her siblings’ chores. They worked very hard during the day and there was often no one at home to take care of things. Because she was the youngest, Tonia was elected and of course, the fact that she had flunked out of the standard school testing…well, it was enough for her parents to decided that school was not a necessary option.

Instead, she was given her sister’s school books and instructed to study for several hours per day. Once through, she would then complete their homework and have it ready. Her problem wasn’t the schooling, for Tonia was actually quite smart. Her main problem was outsmarting herself, she could never quite remember when to keep her thoughts to herself and that often landed her in more trouble than she could handle.

The village elders knew her story and often requested her services, for no one could polish a chandelier quite like Tonia. Her gift was unique in one very special way. She could talk to glass.

Tonia sighed.

She crawled out of bed and tip-toed to the door of her near closet. It was a tiny room and she crossed in within two steps. There was no brother watching the hallway, so she shut the door and tip-toed back to the bed.

If she tried to sneak out, surely she would be caught. She rocked back and forth, hugging her arms to herself as she let her brilliant mind loose to find a way to escape.

She wanted out!

Her gaze fell upon the tiny mirror fixed to the back of her bedroom door. A gasp escaped. “Of course!” She murmured, scrambling off the bed and rushing to the beautiful square.

She closed her eyes and brushed her fingers across the reflective surface. A shudder passed through her and she felt the coolness turn to wetness. Her eyes popped open. “The Well of the Elders.” She whispered, thrusting her hand deep into the swirling silverness.

There was a soft slurping sound and Tonia gave into the pull, allowing herself to be sucked through the portal.

She sprouted up through the well, moments later, as the original momentum thrust her straight up into the air. She grabbed wildly and caught the edge of the stone wall with one hand.

Her feet hung limply as she struggled to haul herself upwards.

There was a soft chuckle and then two strong hands caught hold of her left wrist and arm, pulling her up to safety.

“You know it is not safe for you to keep doing this, child.” Elder Simeon scolded, as she shook herself out, sprinkling water droplets everywhere. “Ach! Do not do that…” He looked down at his bathrobe in dismay. “Now I will have to change yet again!”

“Tis only a little water, Simeon.” Elder Anna smiled. “A little water never hurt a soul.”

Tonia squinted at the droplets. They were proudly shimmering silver. She winced. “Well, probably not water, Elder Anna.” She ducked her head lightly. “I ported through a mirror this time. They won't let me near any glass.”

The group of elders winced as one.

Elder Simeon sighed.

“Well?” Tonia prompted. “You promised, remember? And your have to hurry, because I have to be home before morning.”

Elder Janis glided forward. “We would not go back on our word, love.” She opened her arms, spreading the sleeves of her rich, velvet cloak wide.

The lovely dark blue fabric shimmered and then began to swirl, turning the Edler herself into a portal for the next leg of Tonia’s journey.

“Close your eyes.” Elder Anna whispered, guiding her forward.

Tonia squeezed her eyes shut and stuck one hand through Elder Janis. The soft slurping sound repeated itself and she was sucked into the wild ride on the other side.

When she finally slid out on the other end, it was with a rather loud thump. She winced, brushing off her pajamas as she crept up the dozens of stone steps before her.

Upon reaching the top, the seemingly lifeless monument came to life. Lights flickered on and whispered were heard. Feet pattered down the halls, sounds attached to nothing and no one.


Tonia jumped, crashing backwards into a stone pillar. Her breath froze.

“Sorry.” The figure glided out from the shadows in front. “So sorry, I didn’t realize you hadn’t heard me.” The figure slowly came into focus, a very pale and very tall woman with strange, cat-like eyes. “And what do you seek, traveler?”

Tonia licked her lips. “Happiness.”

A virtually invisible eyebrow twitched. “Happiness? And you believe you can find it here?”

“No. I was told I could find a happy place here.” Tonia took a step forward. “Can I? Is it true?”

The white face stared at her for a very long time, then at last, she looked away. “Yes. It is true.” She extended a filmy hand. “Come.”

Tonia followed behind, stifling a yawn.

“Here.” The woman gestured for her to sit on a stone chair. “You are unhappy with your present life?” She inquired, tonelessly.

“Sort of.” Tonia clambered onto the stone chair and wriggled around for a comfortable spot. It was hard to find a comfortable spot on a stone chair.

“Then you wish this to be temporary?”

She shrugged. “I guess. I don’t know…I’ve never done this before.”

“Yes.” There was an exaggerated sigh. “I can tell. Please close your eyes.”

“What’s going to happen?”

“Close them.”

“Is it going to hurt?”


“Look, maybe this isn’t-”

Freezing fingers feathered over her face and gently closed her eyes. A soft pinprick of pain was felt in the back of her neck and then Tonia felt herself falling.

It was a very long fall. But rather uneventful.

When it ended, she was standing in the middle of her bedroom again, but wait. “Wrong room.” Tonia took in her eldest sister’s spacious bedroom with the beautiful bed she’d longed to touch. The colors were all wrong through. Instead of the ugly greenish-yellows, that her sister had always favored, the bedspread was a lovely shade of pink, sprinkled with gorgeous sprigs of flowers.

“Tonia!” Her mother breezed into the room and squashed her in a hug. “Oh Tonia! I was beginning to worry, you’re taking forever to get ready and breakfast needs to start or your poor father will be later for work.”

Tonia let herself be pulled along down to the hallway where her family was seated around the table and the seat at the right of her father was empty. This had to be a dream. A day where she could eat breakfast with them? A day where her mother was screaming for her to wake up? Where her father wasn't constantly criticising something she'd had no control over? Tonia was heading for her usual seat at the end when her mother spun her around. “And where’d you think you’re going?”

Tonia found herself sitting in the special seat as the blessing was said for the food. Her father heaped generous portions on her plate before helping himself and asked her questions about her school.

The day blurred by in a dream. Regardless of what she was doing, going to school, attending the community services and working as an apprentice with the village glassblower, the happiness came.

It was the feeling of love and friendship between her family, her and the people of the of the village.

The dream came to an all too soon abrupt end.

Tonia jerked awake.

“I am sorry, but you must go now.” The woman instructed. “A message was sent to you.”

“But I don’t want to go.” Tonia shrank away from the white, cold hands. “I don’t want to go. I like it here!”

“You were sent here by another. They are calling you back.” She repeated. “You must go now.”

“I already told you I don’t want to go-!” The white hands touched her face and Tonia was falling once more.

She tumbled out onto the hard ground, gasping for breath in front of Elder Anna. It was no use. Now she'd never be able to hold onto such a memory. A memory of a perfect day. Of a perfect life. She coughed.

It hurt.

She was quickly scooped up by Elder Brien and carried swiftly to their inner chambers within the Elder’s Housing Complex.

“You had us worried.” Elder Janis murmured, smoothing Tonia’s ruffled hair and hot forehead. “We thought…we thought that…” her voice choked and she excused herself.

“We thought we’d lost you.” Elder Simeon said bluntly. He frowned. “The next time we send you up there, don’t you dare stay that long again.”

Tears brimmed and spilled over. “You’d send me back?” Tonia croaked.

“You liked it, didn’t you?” Elder Anna handed her a glass of water.

“Well, yeah, but you’d send me back…?” Tonia stared at her, trying to wrap her thirteen-year-old mind around the one thing she’d been looking for.

She was gathered gently into a hug. “Of course. We’d do anything to give you those moments of happiness that every person has a right to.”

The waterworks turned on in full force. Tonia sobbed her heart out for lack of any other sensible thing to do. She’d spent most of her childhood life wishing to be elsewhere, wishing her parents away, wishing her life as something else, yet here, she had the very things she’d craved.

Love. Family.

Tonia had found her happy place. And she hadn’t needed to look very far in the first place.

Copyright 2009 Sara Harricharan

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Bookish Life (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Peej herself at her blog, Patterings. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Note: I had quite a bit of fun with this one, Alladi is a girl who's dreams keep her in what she calls a nightmare, but her real strength isn't even her own, its when she finally learns something that may have been the reason for all of the mystery around her gift in the first place, to learn to forgive.

And so I sat there and read. And because he was the man he was, he let me. I read until the Madam returned home. Her footsteps on the stairs was the kiss of death to my imagination.
The book was dutifully returned to the best-sellers shelf and I hurried to appear industrious by dusting along the shelves with my bright orange scrap of rag. She swept past me, wordless.

I knew better than to follow.

At least right away.

I waited, dusting until the rag was filthy and then I went to the washroom in the corner, behind the dictionary shelf, where I soaped, rinsed and scrubbed. Dirty water streamed out endlessly as I soaked and wrung it out, repeatedly.

Father…why do you let me stay here? Am I so horrible? So awful?

My convoluted prayer was absolutely senseless, even to my own heart, but I desperately needed some confirmation away from the horrors I endured.

I wish they were dead. I truly do, Father and….and I know that’s wrong. I know I can’t kill them…I don’t think I could. But I feel as if I am dying…a slave to them.

A shudder passed over me and I focused again on the brilliant square of orange.

When my arms could no longer take it, I rinsed it one last time and squeezed as much liquid as I could from the sopping cloth.

Then I hung it on the edge of the sink to dry and wiped my hands before stepping back out into
the shadowy room. Their bookstore was the reason I existed to torment them.

As it was, the afternoon rush had come and gone and there was nothing more to demand my time until the night came. Then I would be escorted up the stairs through the kitchen to assemble a meal and then to my room where I would be locked in until the next morning.

I didn’t blame them.


It wasn’t their fault. It was typical. If you do not know me, I would scare you. It has never failed.
I swept the floor with the greatest of care and then I mopped. The floor shone in its wooden brilliance when I was finally through. Skimping on my duties meant more time away from my precious books and I could not spare that. No. Not that.

He cleared his throat from the bottom of the stairs.

I put the mop inside the closet near the washroom and rinsed my hands in the sink. When I stepped out, he offered his arm and I took it. We glided up the stairs with solemn, graceful steps.
But when we passed my bedroom door, I realized why he’d let me read this afternoon. Our strange procession continued to Madam’s bedroom, where the door was locked and bolted once I stood within it.

The nausea started in my stomach and it to a little extra from me to tamp it down along with the meager contents of my stomach.

Father, please. I don’t want to do this again. I don’t. Please don’t let me do this…I’m too weak to resist and I…

“Alladi.” Madam gestured towards the bed. “If you would.”

I inched forward as slowly as I possibly could. I wouldn’t be able to resist this time, it had been so long, so very long since I had tasted the-

My thoughts screeched to a stop and my feet nearly ran the last few steps. I bounced onto the bed, grabbing at the stack of thick books piled high in the middle.

Oh books. Lovely, precious…darling, books!

I hesitated for the merest fraction of a section, throwing a glance at their greedy faces. “Go ahead.” Madam purred. “They’re all for you.”

My nose wrinkled and then I sneezed, but the scent tickling my senses was a most delicious one indeed.

I snatched the first dusty specimen from the top and cracked the book open down the middle. The stiff pages crackled as the covers parted and the beautiful words teased me from the pages.

Dark black letters on aged yellow pages. It was almost too good to be true. My hands trembled as my fingers grasped the edges and I lifted the book to my face. I took a deep breath. No sneeze this time.

And then I touched the book to my forehead.

Light exploded inside my head and I was forcefully thrown backward into the satin quilt bedspread. I heard their gasps, but they were very faint, fuzzy figures in my line of vision.
Images danced before my eyes and my lips parted with the sweet sigh of delight. The book’s adventures were replayed in my head, in full-color, brimming with the same intensity of their reality.

A delicious shiver escaped as I followed the hero in my mind’s eye, watching as he confronted the horrid villain in his lair. What a terrific story.

I lay on the bed a moment longer, even after the book’s memory faded and I stored the new knowledge in the back of my head for later inspection.

“Well?” Madam demanded, she was glaring at the now empty book, with blank, crisp white pages. “Was there any gold?”

Her words were the ugly reminder of the nightmare I lived daily, as a captive to them. I slowly sat up, my head spinning as I tried to recall the adventure I’d just lived through in fast-forward.

“N-no.” I said slowly, trying to sort through the ending. Oh the end was good. A giggle escaped. I clapped a hand over my mouth, lest she thought I was lying. “No gold.” I spoke through my fingers. “Just an ordinary village boy, he becomes a knight. Marries the girl in the village. She has no dowry. They’re not rich…but they’re happy. They have love.”

“Love?” Madame sneered. She thrust the empty book at me. “Well, go ahead…fix it!”

I swallowed, gritting my teeth as I lightly feathered my fingers across the blank pages. A sliver of life-like energy flowed out from me and a smattering of rainbow colors stained the pages before they mixed together to show a moving picture within.

Madame laughed. “Good girl.” She thrust the book at her husband. “How much do you think this would sell for?”

He took the book, checking the outside condition, then gazed at the movie unfolding within.
“Shut the book, Glen!” She snapped, slamming it shut before dropping it back in his arms. “Will it sell?”

He looked at her disdainfully. “Of course it would! Any book she touches sells!” He turned and stormed out of the room, muttering to himself.

But of course my work was not done. I absorbed the entire stack, one by one, thrilling with the tales within and growing weaker with every book I brought to life at Madam’s insistence.

“Not a single shred of gold?!” She shrieked, slapping me about the ears, face and head…wherever her hands could reach.

I leaned away from her fat hands, burrowing into the quilt as she rained her anger down on me. “No gold.” I whispered, knowing what she’d wanted.

When she’d finished her temper tantrum, I was permitted to leave the room. As I rose to leave, I spied the skinny book buried beneath the stacks that I’d overlooked earlier.

A quick glance showed Madam had no noticed. I grabbed the book, hugging it to my chest. She would not question me unless she looked closely.

I ran from the room before she could follow me. The story was wonderful, about a princess of the thieves and with hideouts littered with gold and treasures. I slammed the book shut in the privacy of my room. I was reading this one. I didn’t dare let it into my mind, then I would have to purge it back out to hide the truth that I had read it-er-absorbed it.

And then Madam would be furious and Sir would be angry and I would be in very, deep trouble. They only wanted the money that I could give them…and when it failed, only then was my lavish existence turned to drudgery.

“I could be a very horrid person too.” I told the book, thinking of the thief princess. “But unlike you, I don’t think I shall ever know. I never stand up for myself. Never.” I took the book and kissed the cover, placing it beneath my pillow.

With my mark upon it, they would not be able to sell the book and I would be able to call it whenever I pleased.

Their footsteps shuffled outside my bedroom door and I quivered with fear. Madam had surely double-checked her list of books by now and learned that one was missing. She would no doubt check the book’s description and then employ Sir to come and fetch me.

My arms grew limp. I did not want to do this much longer. My love of books was seeming to be a love for something I should not have.

The door burst open and it was Sir, babbling endlessly about something I could not understand, until Madam joined him in the ranting and raving.

Strangely, I could not understand them and it did not bother me as much as I’d thought it would. They didn’t touch me. I noticed that at once, when I stood to walk past them. They automatically scurried back as if I carried a plague of some sort. “Can’t understand you.” I murmured, dancing out of the room.

And so I went back downstairs and called the book beneath my pillow. I did not look at them. I could not. They followed me down the stairs and waited. I knew they would try to stop me if I even thought of escaping, but I could not leave. There were too many books here. And I was bound to each of them, for I had never read them all. My only release came from the ones I had read.

So I escaped the only way I knew. I went to my stool in the corner and sat. The book came when I called, materializing in my hands, the pure energy of creativity. Their eyes watched me, piercing as I opened the book and touched it to my forehead.

I felt the ground as I fell flat against the cold, stiffness. I heard their gasp as they rushed to me. Their fingers skittered over me, but I was numb. I could no longer feel them.

I heard Madam’s exclamation as they saw the picture of the gold and jewels within the thief princess’s lair and when they entered the book, by touching the pages, I felt the breath suck straight out of me.

Their frenzied shrieks as they pawed about in the riches could have made me sick to my stomach, if I was enough of myself to truly listen.

A tear trickled from my eye, into my ear. And I raised one hand and shut the book, sealing them inside…forever.

Oh Father, please…forgive me…I couldna take it anymore…

I felt his voice echo in my heart.

Forgive them.

Another tear sprouted out.

No! Never! Didn't you see? Don't you know what they've done to me? I feel like a monster! A freak! Father, please…I beg of you, don’t make me-

I would never make you do anything, child. But forgiveness starts in your heart. You must let go.

His loving warmth enveloped me. His goodness, his kindness…too much. He loved me even when I thought I could hate Him for the life I‘d been given.

But a new strength welled up within me and my eyes closed of their own accord and I did not fight it.

This time, I wanted to surrender.

Copyright 2009. Sara Harricharan

Monday, January 19, 2009

Melancholy...Or Not!

I love the way that word sounds. Melancholy. I'm not sure why, but it always stirs me in thought when I try to puzzle my way around it.

My favorite definition of it is "A feeling of thoughtful sadness". An excellent description of my feelings as the new year settles in and my life returns to 'normal'. Or at least my crazy, mixed-up version of normal. As I'm sure some of you have figured, this sort of freewriting tends to be 'random' and rather reflective at times.

The faintest sprinkling of snow was visible on the mountains this morning and it was the first reminder that a lot of things were changing. The change feels as cold as the snow is currently showering down on the mountains, but in spite of my ridiculously depressing spell this past week, I feel delieriously happy.

Of course, I also tackled the giants on my nearly 'endless' to-do list yesterday, so today I have the added assurance of feeling free on top of my happy silliness. It always amazes me how happy I can get sometimes.

Honestly. It made me start thinking of what had really changed since last week to now. Granted, I hadn't exactly been stuck with the usual set of 'things' that throw me into the ususal frantic state of panic, but I wasn't exactly doing all that great either. I woke up with a stomachache, had to drive with snow on the road and accidentally burned my (fairly new!) pair of fluffy boots.

Hmmm. Strange. I weighed everything back out in my mind and the answers came out like this. Stomachache, is okay, at least it's not a headache. Snow is okay. It could've been ice. (Thankfully the icy areas have been salted, over the weekends, the roads have been really bad. I am SO grateful for this!) and as for my poor boots, well, at least my toes were warm. ^_^

Isn't that funny? Coming from someone who unfailingly manages to get herself labled as an overacheiving perfectionist, I find it amazing how my days can change (along with my random attitude) when I quit stressing and let God take care of it. Not an earth-shattering revelation, mind you, just a simple observation. ^_^ Now if I can hold onto to that for this upcoming week...brrr...snowy days, late nights and lots of words to be typed. Think I can I do it? Yes!

I walked right into it...

I've been tagged by JJ, because she directed my unsuspecting self to her blog it resulted in this...Enjoy! (and feel free to consider yourself tagged as ME!)

To find your ROCK STAR NAME take your first pet & current car:
Princess Civic (wow...)

To find your GANGSTA NAME take your favorite ice cream flavor and your favorite cookie: Neopolitan Chocolate Chip

YOUR DETECTIVE NAME? Your favorite color and favorite animal: Black Dragon

Want to know your SUPERHERO NAME? Just add the word "The" plus your 2nd favorite color, and your favorite drink:The Black Water (yikes...that's more villain than hero, I'd think...)

If I ever go into WITNESS PROTECTION you can find me with this name. Your mother & father’s middle names: middle names here....

TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME? Just take your 5th grade teacher’s last name and add a major city that starts with the same letter: Princeton Puran

Of course, if you find me in witness protection I will assume it was because you were using your SPY NAME. Add your favorite season/holiday to your flower: Autumn Iris

Tell your kids their CARTOON NAME by taking your favorite fruit, an article of clothing you’re wearing right now, now add "ie" or "y": Pineapple Bootsie

And lastly, your ROCKSTAR TOUR is heading across the's called ("The” + Your fave hobby/craft, your fave weather element + the word “Tour”):The Writing Thunder Tour

LOL! This was fun...go it...I dare ya.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Drums... (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday fiction is hosted by: Lynn at her blog, Faith, Fiction, Fun and Fanciful. Click here to read and share more great fiction.

Author's Note: I realize this piece is somewhat darker than some of you may be expecting. If you'd rather read someting lighter, click here for a cute, short mystery! Strawberry Surprise

“She’s like, so stuck up, Liz!” Jen rolled her eyes. “How can you even think about inviting her to our party?”

Liz rolled her eyes. “Quit the drama, she has an awesome boyfriend, who has an awesome sound system.”

“Oh.” Jen sighed. “Right. I forgot. Who else are we inviting?”

“Your neighbor across the street.”

“Aww, man! We have to?”

“If we don’t, your mom will bust us.” Liz snapped her grape bubblegum. “The way I see it, this will be a total blast! I mean, like, nothing could go wrong now.”

“Oh hush up. You’ll jinx it.”

“You believe in jinxes?”

“Does it matter?”“Uh, yeah!” Liz’s fingers traveled along the bed, searching for a pillow to whack her best friend. “You’re like so-” She waved one hand around.

Jen softened. “I just don’t care to ‘tempt providence’ then, that sound better?”

“Hardly. We still have a million things to do…the party’s just tomorrow!”

“I know, I know…but don’t worry as soon as I get back from music practice.”

“Music?” Liz frowned. “Oh right, I forgot, sorry. You have that choir thing, right?”

“You make it sound like a plague.” Jen rolled her eyes. “And that, dahling, is what I plan to launch my career from.”

“You’re going to launch your famous singing career…in church?” Liz’s voice dangerously lowered several tones.

Jen tried to sort it into something her friend would understand. “Liz! You just…oh shut up! It’s not like your band is doing any better!”

“Well what’s that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing…really, just that if a band was the way to go, to get all recognized and everything? How come I’m the one being asked across the country to sing at other churches and asked to contribute to benefit concerts, hmm? I mean, face it…I’m going to be something.”

“Something in need of an attitude adjustment.” Liz glared at her from the bed. “Fine. Go ahead. Have fun. Be famous.”

“I will. Thank you.” Jen offered an exaggerated bow. “So glad I have your permission.”

Liz scowled. “Just so you know, we’ve been asked to take the gig at the Friday café in Doonesborough. Happy Choir practice.”

Jen flushed a deep red. “The Friday café?” She licked her lips. “For real?”

“Yeah. The manager said we had style. And class. And interacted really nice with all the important customers. He said we had the best manners, but I guess that’s something you wouldn’t know about, Miss high-and-mighty-I’m-all-that.” Liz surged upwards from the bed and stalked to the bedroom door. “FYI, Jen. One of these days, you’re going to realize that you’re not all you think you’re cooked up to be.”

“Goodbye Liz.” Jen said, icily. “Have a nice practice.”

“Oh sure. Right.” One hand clenched into a fist. “One of these days, someone’s going to take you at face value and what a disappointment that will be. I can’t say I’ll mourn when they play your death drums. Do you know what those are? You should, it might actually matter-”

“Go Liz. Go. Now.” Jen was nearly shaking with anger.

Liz bowed with a flourish. “As her lowly highness wishes.” She whirled on one skinny leg and blew through the door with a bang.

An awkward emptiness hung the bedroom.

Jen trembled for a moment, before she shifted herself from the desk chair to the bed. “Oh that was bad.” She told her valentine teddy bear. “Very, very bad. I don’t think we’ve ever…argued like that before.”

She traced the velvet heart sewed to the bear’s tummy. “She didn’t have to be so rude about it. It’s just that she’s always…I don’t know, she always makes me….always makes it sound as if I’m so stupid. Ugh…why do I have to have the best friend with issues? No, wait, correction, I don’t have a best friend!”

Her mind replayed the incidents where this very same argument had almost happened. It was usually some sort of war between her singing and Liz’s drumming. “Death drums, my foot. How stupid does she think I am? Besides...a drum’s not that hard to play.” Jen scowled. “I mean, really, how hard can it be? Anyone could play it. You have two sticks and beat here and there. Carry rhythm. I could probably do it. Really. She so gets on my nerves.”

Her cellphone rang and she reluctantly slid off the bed to answer it. “Mrs. Colsten? Oh no, I’m ready for practice…I’m still home, I’ll be leaving in a few. No…I have to ask Mom to drop me. Sure. Thanks. Bye.”

The phone folded shut and Jen stared at the perfect silver square. An uneasy feeling had slipped over her at Liz’s mention of ‘death drums’. The feeling passed with a slight shiver and Jen grabbed a jacket and hurried out the door.

Choir practice went well in spite of the other things happening in her personal life. Jen thought about calling her friend back, but distracted herself every time she came close enough to actually calling.

It’s her fault. She should call first. Jen jammed the phone into her jacket pocket and exited the church foyer. Her mom would be by to pick her up in about five minutes. She checked her watch. She was early. Mom was usually punctual though, the opposite of her late father. It would only be a few minutes.

The minutes ticked by and then she saw the familiar black Lexus pulling up to the curb on the opposite side of the road. She sighed. All the other parking lots were full, so she’d picked the next logical choice…across the road.

I hate crossing the road.

The thought flashed through her mind as she stepped off the curb and darted a glance in both directions. The street was deserted and she gathered her energy reserves for a quick sprint across.

In the back of her mind, she heard the tires squeal, heard the broken chug-a-lug of a disjointed motor, felt the wind coming, felt a wave of panic.

The out of control car slammed into her with a sickening crunch. Jen felt the pavement beneath her and a then shock at how cold it was. The thought hovered, then faded and a blackness deeper than she’d ever known, claimed her at last.

* * * * *

I watched her as she died, the last few moments of terror and pain. There was nothing I could do for her, at least not until she entered my dimension and even so, it would take more than time for her to adjust.

The battered body materialized on the floor of the transportation room. I marveled at her appearance, how white and lifeless, a stark contrast to the deep blue walls of the circular room.

“You poor child.” I couldn’t help saying as I crouched beside her. I went to work, wiping away the bumps and bruises. A rather vain set of emotions swirled through me at the fact that I was able to heal her with little to no effort at all. She was definitely better off physically for it.

She stirred and I mentally reminded myself to remain as friendly as possible, no matter how annoying she was.

The confusion was instant.

Her eyes opened and she tried to talk, choked and quite nearly passed out.

I spiked her with two low jolts of healing energy and winced when the audible gasp escaped. “Sorry…but you didn’t really leave me with much of a choice. I can’t be away from my station for too long and your coordinations are going to take longer than I thought.”

Frightened eyes stared up at me. “A-am I dead?”

Oh lovely. Here we go. “No.” I waited for that to sink it. “Come along, please. Haven’t got time to spare now.”

“Where am I?”

“Come, child.” I held out one hand and wiggled my fingers. She reluctantly touched my hand, then jerked back. “What?”

She rubbed one hand.

“Oh. Sorry. Can’t help that. Unwanted side effect. Come along, you’ll need to start playing the drums as soon as possible.”

“Drums?” Her tiny voice faltered.

“Yes. We heard you this morning…what you said, you know.” I couldn’t help throwing the words back at her. “Anyone can play drums…how hard can it be?” You’ve got rhythm though, haven’t you?”


“Then come along.”

I led her through the halls, taking the long way around on purpose. She was certainly a slow one, most started ranting and raving the moment they regained consciousness.

We walked halfway down the hall before it clicked. She began asking questions I couldn’t answer and when I didn’t, her temper sparked, erupting in a passionate display of uncontrolled anger.
I listened to her rather half-heartedly, knowing it was only a matter of minutes before the silence would start.

The heavy, pounding beat began to resonate through the tall, chapel-like halls. Her screams halted. “What’s that?”

I smiled.

“Stop smiling!” She grabbed my hand. “What is that? What’s going on? Why am I here? Who are you! Help me, somebody help me!”

“Hush your mouth.” The words hissed through my teeth as I turned on her fiercely. “And show some respect! You’re barely an hour old over here…no one cares about you…yet.”

“W-what’s that supposed to mean?” Her hand dropped at once, but she inched closer.

“It means we’re almost there.”

“Almost where?” The frantic note returned to her voice.

“Can’t you hear them?” I asked serenely, wanting so desperately to lose myself in the powerful mix.

“Hear what?” She shrieked. “Oh that sounds horrible. What is it? Make it stop!”

I sighed. “You’ll grow used to it, love.”

“I don’t want to grow used to it.” She whimpered. “I wanta go home. Take me back home.”

“Can’t do that, love.” I rounded the corner and threw out an arm to keep her from slamming into the procession turning into the hallway.

Tall men and women in dreamy white robes with armfuls of bracelets and fat golden anklets. Each of them carried a drum of some sort and they pounded out the sorrowful rhythm in perfect synchronization.

The ache in my heart restated itself. I struggled to fight the pain that wished to escape. Now was not the time, yet.

“Walk faster.” I caught her wrist and pulled her along with me. We flew down the darkened halls and shadowy corridors until we reached the giant coliseum. “Want to hear yours?” I paused, hesitating. “I shouldn’t even offer, but if you’d like…you could.”

“I could what?”

“Your song. The drums. Every person, whoever they are, wherever they are, there is a rhythm to their life, to their soul. It is played by these drums. You’re new. So there’s an old drummer, playing a new song.” I had to smile, remembering when I’d heard those very words myself, only a few years ago. “If you wish to hear your melody, you may.”

“My what?”

“The drums, love. The drums.” I stopped, waiting for her thoughts to catch up. It did.


Her eyes grew wide as I escorted her past white marble pillars and across plush burgundy carpets. Tears brimmed in her eyes, whether from the beauty or some other pain, I could not know.

But when we reached the ground floor, I knew the outcome couldn’t be good. The old drummer assigned to her song was Zapatkea.

Her evil smile curved upwards upon sight. “Hello sweetlings!” She purred. “Come to hear my new song?”

Jen nodded. I shook my head.

Zapatkea laughed. “You poor misguided creature.” She clucked her tongue in false sympathy. “You are what? An hour old? Or not even that far?”

“What does she mean?” Jen had gone whiter than I’d even thought possible.

I made a note to skip a beat the next chance I had. “She dinna needed to know yet.” I glared at Zapatkea. She smirked. “She means you’re in another dimension. You only get here…when you almost die. You’re still alive…but not on…earth, any more.” I gauged her reaction. It was telling. She was slipping off the precarious mount of sanity she’d built. “You laughed at the drums, so you had to come here.”

“What drums?” Jen asked, too calmly.

“The death drums.” Zapatkea filled in. Her eyes flashed wickedly. “Didn’t she tell you? To live in this realm…someone must play the drums for you. Always, or else you die. For the beat of the drum is the beat of your heart, which is the song of your life…”

Her voice trailed off, beautiful words…out of a fanged mouth. I shuddered. “We’re leaving now…so play.” It was required for every new recruit to hear their own song, but I didn’t dare mention that. Not now.

Zapatkea glared at me. “I will play when I am ready.” She half-snarled.

Jen took a step back.

I shifted in front of her. “You will play when I say so if you wish to live, oh queen of arrogance.”

Her mood shifted at once. “No need for sarcasm…friend. Twas’ only teasing…”

“Teasing a young girl, one word too far.” I measured the weight with my words. “Play!” I thundered.

Her eyes flashed a brilliant purple and her arms lifted of their own accord.

I pulled Jen back, knowing what would come next.

One skinny, bedecked arm rose up and dropped the first beat on the drum. A moan left her lips. The song began. Harsh, stiff beats, disjointed music, a symphony of disaster.

Horror showed plainly on Jen’s face. “That can’t be my song.” She backed away. “It can’t be. I’m pretty. I live a good life. I believe in God. I-I even sing. I have a beautiful voice…that…that can’t be my song!” Her voice was shrill.

I silently moved between her and Zapatkea, gently herding her towards the door. “Time to find your own drums.” I murmured, leading her out and then to my original destination.

The tiny miniscule room was painted in angry swirls of gray and orange. I winced again as another pang passed through me. “Your drums.” I said faintly, pointing to the darkest corner. “You will know how to play…do not worry, but do not stop either. Not unless someone takes over for you.”

“What do you mean?”

“You have to play the drums if you want your mother to live.” I cringed inwardly as the words passed through my lips. “Because you’re her daughter, you’re required to play her song. Your father played your own.”

“My father?” She exclaimed, incredulous. “That can’t be true.”

“It can and it is.” I said quietly. “and when he died here…you died…over there…play the drums, my darling Jen. A life depends on you.”

The drumsticks in the corner glowed to life, a pure, white-gold. Jen stared in awe as they floated over to rest in her hands.

I turned and left the room.

Her scream echoed behind me.

I paused, briefly to look over my shoulder. The first set of bracelets had formed around her wrists and the will was no longer hers as skinny arms raised up and fell in perfect rhythm with on her new drums. If she was a quick learner...perhaps there would be hope for her...

The noise faded as I crossed the hall to my own studio. The walls were purple and black here. I reached for the sticks and they glowed to life, but I did not refuse their pull, their work. I gave in as fully and deeply as I could.

The music rose up and wrapped around me in a solemn cloak to the tribal beat. I knew Jen’s kind. They would blubber and bawl half of their lives away, begging for a second chance.

“Poor misguided creature.” I whispered, echoing Zapatkea’s words. “They never even think that this is their second chance…”

Copyright 2009 Sara Harricharan

Friday, January 9, 2009

Morning's Light (Friday Fiction)

This week's FF is hosted by Catrina Bradley. To read and share more great fiction, click here to go to A Work In Progress.

Author's Note:
I've been busy this week with launching
In Shades of Scarlet, so a few of you may remember this piece. I thought it might be nice to post something short and from my 'other' world of writing. Do Enjoy. (and those of you needing a fantasy fix, scroll down to the post below to read "Hunted")

I died this morning.

My heart went black and my soul became silent. The things I’d held dear, all that I’d treasured…were gone. I knew nothing of them.

My hand were empty, my lips dry. There was no one there, for that, I was glad. This would be different.

Not an ordinary death. No, something much more. I had made the necessary arrangements. An urn for the ashes, music for the doves and a moment of silence for myself.

At the first hint of morning, I cried two tears.

By morning’s new light, I buried my old self.

The ashes of charred mistakes were emptied into the urn. My freedom was expressed, in releasing two, snow-white doves. A moment of silence was allotted. A time for me to think. To decided who I would be, before the sun rose.

I would live today.

My new heart was freshly painted pink. Passion and perseverance were moulded into my soul. New memories were promised. New treasures were given. My hands were prepared, my lips, ready.

This is not an ordinary life. No, it is much more.

I have made the necessary arrangements. Kindling for my heart’s desire. A symphony for my life’s song and a moment of silence. To reflect on what is to come.

At the second light of morning, I cried two tears. One for hope. One for life. For as soon as I awake, to face this new day, the world will demand my attention.

Unless I am focused, renewed and healed, I will be dead by morning’s new life.

Copyright 2009 Sara Harricharan

My 'perfect' quote?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

- Mark Twain, American writer

I was all set for this 'huge' start to a new year and new words and lots of very new things, but the moment I sat down to really 'write' my first post, I hit a perfectly blank wall. My usual quick fix for this is a quote...and in my ususal way, I browsed the 'net for about an hour looking for the perfect quote and the perfect way to write an introductory post and all sorts of other, rather pointless things, now that I acutally have to write it out.

Then I checked my email. And found the usual set of things, junk mail, a few replies and this one quote at the header of my 'healthy reflections' newletter. I read it once, twice and then I couldn't get it out of my head. It seemed to sum up what I was aiming to challenge myself with this year. Writing outside the lines, stepping away from my comfortable fantasy worlds and writing without worrying what 'everyone else' would think.

When I first started writing in earnest, about three years ago, I worried about every single word I typed. In the gap from my mind to my keyboard, I worried about all sorts of really ridiculous things, that actually takes an effort to write it as such today. I still want to backspace every two words and write one, a fruitless self-editing effort to silence my inner critic, who shall generously remain unammed at the time of this posting.

By the time the second year rolled around, I decided I was stressing too much, so I would freewrite and then print and edit obsessively on the printed copy. It saved my eyes from staring endlessly at a computer screen and watching the words form shapes while they blurred across the screen.

Last year, I finally let go. While I still edit quite a bit, more for grammar, than anything else, I don't self-edit to the point when I remove my personality and replace it with padding. As you can imagine, this has caused my writing to evolve in very different ways and very decided directions. My rate of writing picked up tremdenously and when I finally went browsing about last week, I discovered I had a lot more short stories and poems written than I'd actually ever counted.

The discovery floored me. I didn't even know I was 'capable' of writing that much. Of writing so many words and of actually sharing it with others. I was further amazed to note the writing I'd already done for the new year as well. Several short stories, plans to participate in my favorite writing events and of course, a new blog, in addition to finishing up my current work-in-progress, my NaNo novel, Tears of Muse.

Reading Mark Twain's quote, the first line, twenty years, rings inside my head. Because twenty years from now, may seem like quite a while, but that doesn't slow anything down. Time keeps moving. Days keep pasing. Years add up. Twenty years from now, I hope to be a whole different person in terms of a one who has grown and learned much. Grown closer to God and learned how to answer the endless questions that float through her head in rapid-fire. It's not a very defined 'dream' because I have not devoted any particular thought towards twenty years ahead, until today. I don't want to reach that day and sit down, thinking back over everything I've done and all the things I have written and wonder why on earth I didn't do, A, B, or C. I want to start from now and build a habit this year, so as the days pass and the years add up, I won't bemoan what I could have done, but smile and keep on writing.

Hunted (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday fiction is hosted by Catrina Bradley at her blog, A Work In Progress, click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Note: This was an alternate idea for "Veins of Ice" but I've reworked it a bit and tried to shorten it for easier reading, lol. The definition of a MindSinger, is a super-power where the mind is temporarily frozen in a state and the one singing can order the person about wherever they please, however when the 'trance-like state' is broken, they don't remember a thing they did while under it. It is a very valuable gift that would make some sensible folk rather insane. Also, on a more personal note, please check out my new venture for 2009, In Shades of Scarlet. Enjoy!

I shuffled to the end of the darkened alley, my stomach growling loudly. I winced at the sound, hoping it would fade before I reached the shivering bundle in the shadows. The snack in my pocket was not for me, it was for her.

“J-jared?” Little Gracie’s voice chattered through the frigid air.

I quickened my step automatically. “Right here, kiddo.” My feet walked me to the shivering bundle, where my eyes adjusted to see the form of my baby sister. Her fat cherub cheeks were glistening with fresh tears and a trickle of snot was aimed towards her mouth. “Hey.” I dropped to a crouch to see her face better. “What’s the matter?”

She opened her mouth to answer and her teeth chattered loudly than my stomach had. Mournful, pale blue eyes pleaded with me, silently.

For a split second, I thought about giving her my coat and then we both nixed the idea with a synchronized shake of our heads when I started to shrug out of it.

“N-no, J-Jared.” She chattered. “N-no. F-freeze you.”

“I won’t freeze.” I lied. “I’m stronger than you, remember?

Her answer was to inch closer. “S-safe here?” One icy hand slipped into mine.

I wrapped one arm around her and then paused to wipe her runny nose with one end of my jacket sleeve. “Don’t know yet, Gracie. I still have to make a few more rounds, when I’m sure, really sure, we’ll get a room. I promise. And food, lots of food, and it’ll be nice and warm, okay?”

Her head bobbed, straggly golden ringlets dancing about her face. “S-sounds good.”

Pulling one hand free, I dug through my pockets until the packet of beast jerky came up. “Here…I brought a snack.”

A faint light touched her eyes. “Jerky?” She said the word plainly. I nodded. The angelic smile blossomed. “Me like.”

“Yeah, I know you do.” I tore open the package and shook the contents into her tiny, cupped hands. “Enjoy.” I rolled upwards to my feet.

“G-going now?” Sadness immediately trumped any other emotion as the pale blue eyes flashed a darker shade. “T-take one, J-Jared.” She lifted the pitiful offering as high as her skinny arms could.

My stomach clenched tight and I half-closed my eyes as I reached down and snagged a piece. “Thanks, sis. Be right back, okay? Stay put.” I sprinted down the alley before she could react.

The tiny piece of jerky was more like a quarter of a mouthful, but it was something just the same, so I sucked on it, enjoying the salty taste as I continued my ‘rounds’.

So far, the space station was clear, the clientele was good and I was almost sure I’d made a few contacts that would be useful. I turned down the collar of my coat, hoping to add some semblance of dignity to its shabby appearance.

The station security guards have seen me around, but they prefer to pretend I don’t exist. I don’t particularly mind that, since it allows me to leave Gracie in a somewhat protected space while I hunt around for a job and be sure that we aren’t the ones being hunted.

The few credits to my name is just enough to buy us tickets off of this junk heap in case of an emergency. From the growling in my stomach, I have a feeling that emergency is coming pretty soon.

“Hey Jared!” The Washerman pauses in his shuffling of ancient cleaning supplies. “How’s it goin’ fer ya?”

I shrug. “Usual. You know…gotta keep moving.”

“Yeah, yeah…that’s fer sure.” He waves, crookedly and kept on walking, pushing his broken cart along the fringe line of newcomers.

I almost laughed, watching him go. He owns an antique store in the center of the station’s busiest trade hub. But for kicks, he’ll venture out, leaving his respectable establishment in the hands of his capable assistant, the hawk-eyed Mrs. Lemon, and amusing himself by peddling random items to the unsuspecting tourists.

The lights above the arrivals gate began to flash, announcing a new transport had docked. I pushed through the edge of the crowd pushing past and jostled for a spot near the digital list of scheduled transports.

But there was no transport scheduled for arrival. This, I did not like. My stomach churned. I pushed my way back out of the crazy people and slunk into a corner near the private entrance where privately-owned and operated ships were allowed to dock and exit. There were a few niches in the walls, here and there, enough for me to slide into the cracks and remain, unnoticed.

One reason I had chosen this station, was for the lack of emphasis placed on the outward appearance, at least where the docking stations were concerned. It was more like the slum city streets of back home, where it was easy to join the golden-edged groups, or blend into the gutter rats.

Flattening myself against the warped wall, I peered around the corner. The churning feeling in my stomach promptly sank. There was personal security involved with this one. The thought of it being a celebrity idol briefly toyed with my logical thoughts, before I shoved it aside.

There was no way any sensible celebrity would be caught dead on this station. Not even the shady and stupid ones.

A wave of polite laughter rose from the gaggle of private security guards and a wave of nausea washed over me as I ventured to peek around the corner once more. But I already knew who it was.

Familiar blond, buzz-cut hair emerged first, followed by broad shoulders and a beast-toothed smile as the elegant businessman strolled down the gangplank of his own luxury craft. I ducked back into my darkened niche.

So he’d found us. One hand clenched into a fist and I pinched my nose with the other. I’d have to actually think this time, we’d been hiding for awhile, but I’d gotten tired of the games, so I’d quit putting all my effort into it. It was easier to simply run a few paces, rest and then run again, instead of running so far away and the living in peace for a few years. I grimaced. Living in peace was a nice dream. He seemed to do it every second of his existence. Even sharing of the best of things, such as the expensive taste in clothes too good for him. His suit was a little too tight-fitting, but his shoes were well-polished. With this outfit, a matching briefcase was carried, a few loose papers sticking out, as if hastily closed and now about to float off.

This didn’t seem to bother him, this deviation from his otherwise meticulous appearance and as he strolled past, the papers fluttered and pulled free, floating into the crack where I hid.
For a moment, I was tempted to hide, to stay where I was and wait for one of his useless lackeys to come retrieve the no doubt, important information. But when I touched the paper it skittered away from my grasp.

My eyes narrowed. So that was my game. He’d seen me. There was no use hiding then. His own powers must have felt and sensed me, directing him to this station. I opened my hand and snapped my fingers. The paper leapt to my fingertips and I picked them up.

Two, single perfectly blank sheets. One for me, one for Gracie. He was offering a clean slate. I crumpled the sheets and launched myself out of the tight crack. My feet stumbled, but quickly reoriented themselves as I headed straight for the gaggle of professionally dressed bodyguards.

“You dropped something.” I flicked the crumpled paper balls into the air and watched in satisfaction as they landed within the protected circle.

He cleared his throat and the gaggle of black parted. “Nephew Jared!” He greeted warmly. “How nice to see you again.”

I glared at him. “And don’t you wish I could say the same?”

The perfect smile wavered for a milli-second. “Why would I wish anything on or about you?” The innocent tone was perfectly imitated. “I am only here to help if I can, in whatever way you would allow me. I’ve only heard that you have…fallen…on hard times. You and dear little Gracie. How is she doing, by the way?”

“That’s not of your business.” I matched his icy stare. “Not that you’d actually care, anyway.”

“You’re my sister’s children, bless her dearly departed soul.” The beast-like smile grew wider. “I do care. I’m supposed to.”

“There’s lots of things you’re supposed to be.” I spat out. “lots of things you should be. But you aren’t. And if you’re really hoping to catch me, you’d better come up with a better gameplan.”

His face darkened dramatically. “And what exactly is that supposed to mean, nephew?”

I backed up a few steps, gauging distance and timing in my head. “Figure it out. You’re supposed to be smarter than me, aren’t you?”

I turned and ran.

His reaction was predictable, for his goons chased me a few blocks, but soon gave up. I zigzagged through crowd of people and then found my way back to the alley where I’d left Gracie.

We had to move again. And we had to move now. “Gracie?” I hurried to the now still bundle. Fear streaked through me and I hastened to her side, pushing the feelings away. “Gracie, it’s Jared.” I caught hold of her shoulders and shook her gently. Her shoulders were frozen stiff. “Gracie!” The cry left my lips as I grabbed her in a hug. “No…Gracie…”

Her head suddenly turned, burrowing deeper into my shoulder.

I quickly pulled away to see her face. “Gracie?”

Very pale to whitish blue eyes sleepily locked onto mine. “Ja-wed.” She mumbled, her bluish lips not quite forming the word.

My prayer of thanks was mixed and jumbled as I surged upwards to my feet and headed deeper into the alley. Perhaps the underground in here would help us. No, I shook my head. They would help us, no questions asked.

I dodged through shadowy places where no sane person would ever think of going, but only when I finally caught sight of the burnt wooden door at the end of a stone wall, did I finally realize how tired I was getting.

I would have to eat something soon. The thought was unwelcome, but I acknowledged it and pushed it away, approaching the wooden door. If I ate anything, she would grow weaker. My gift existed to countereact hers and the painful truth was the opposites in which we lived. If I was freezing, then she was warm, if I was full...then she was starving. I pushed the reason away once more, we needed options and fast. The door loomed ahead and I went for it.

Out of the shadows around it, two burly men seemed to melt out of the shadows. “Think you’re lost sonny boy.” One chuckled.

“More than lost.” The other added. “Disillusioned maybe? You don’t want to be here, kid.” The humor left his face as his eyes swept over me from head to toe, noting my appearance and possible potentials. “Move along.”

“We’re seeking shelter.” I coughed. “Just until we can get a ride out of here.”

“Shelter?” The shorter one snorted. “Nice try…but I don’t anything on you that says we even need a reason to toss you around a bit.”

“Of course…the girl…” The other one trailed off suggestively.

I stifled a growl in my throat. “You want proof?” I tugged Gracie’s arms out from around my neck. “Gracie, stand up.” I slowly eased her to the ground and she sleepily adjusted, wrapping her cold hands around my waist. I yanked off the jacket and wrapped it around her shoulders.

Cold assaulted me and a shiver passed through, but I held up one arm. “Need any more convincing?” I held up the other arm. “We seek shelter.” I struggled to keep my voice even. “And we demand it now.”

The burnt wooden door creaked open a dark face looked out. “What’s going on out here?” The pony tailed head stuck further out and eyes grew wide. “Don’t just stand there…bring them in!”

We were hustled through the door and a wave of warmth hit us as we both stepped inside.
The new fellow studied us for a moment, then nodded. “You be who I think you just said?” He nodded towards me as I retrieved my jacket.

I shrugged. “Depends. You believe what you see?”

“I see a boy with too many tattoos and too much power.” He beckoned for us to come closer. “I see a girl who should be dead, nearly frozen to death and yet she sleeps, unafraid.”

“Yeah. Well, she does that sometimes.” I patted her curly head. “Her name’s Gracie.”

“Then that must make you Jared Greegovach.” A tiny smile showed on the boy’s face. “Consider my place, yours.” He waved the two burly henchmen away. “Come in, sit down…hungry?”

I looked down at Gracie. “Hungry?”

She yawned. “Milk toast.”

I grimaced. “Gross.”

She smiled, rubbing her eyes open.

“Milk toast?” The guy repeated, a curious smile tugging across his face.

“Yeah.” I shrugged, slightly embarrassed, the hot feeling traveling quickly to my face. “She likes to eat bread with milk…in a bowl…with a spoon.”

Gracie giggled.

The guy smiled. “That’s easy then. Come with me.”

We followed along, obediently and I eventually reached down to carry Gracie in order to keep up with his long strides.

“How soon you’re looking to leave?” He asked, turning down one hall and tapping softly on another door before entering.

“As soon as we can. I have the credits for tickets and-”

“Oh no. No tickets.” The ponytail shook decisively. “He’ll track you down in no time with that.” A sideways glance was sent in my direction. “You should know that.”

I tried to smile. “Must be brain freeze.”

He rolled his eyes. “Right.”

The room turned out to be a kitchen, one where he was quite comfortable and familiar with. A bowl and spoon was found and a loaf of dark bread with a bottle of fresh milk. “Here you go, kid.” He dragged a chair over to the kitchen counter.

I set Gracie on the chair and we both watched as she poured milk into the pour and her little hands crumbled chunks of bread into the whiteness.

“What do you want?” The guy nodded towards the ’fridge. “Help yourself.”

I shook my head quickly. “No thanks. Sorry.”

He shrugged. “Suit yourself. You look starved.”

“maybe.” I allowed.

“All that they say about you true?” He asked, serious. “That your own uncle is hunting you and the kid’s got mad power?”

I winced. “Wish you wouldn’t put it that way, but yeah.”

He gave a low whistle. “A real MindSinger?”

I nodded.

“You’re kidding, mate.” Amazement showed plainly on his face as he stared at Gracie in a new light. “Then we’re definitely getting you out of here my way.”

“Thanks. We ’preciate it.”

“No problem. You shouldn’t be out here in the first place.” He said grimly. “You shouldn’t be hunted by one of your own.”

© 2009 Sara Harricharan

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A New Space

Seeing as it is the new year, I thought I'd take a new space to finally get into what I really like to do. For those of you wondering what this blog is about (or have followed the link from my fiction blog, Fiction Fusion, here's your answer.)

I've been meaning to put together a more personal blog to share, document and experiment with. Experimenting, as in the technical side of things, documenting, as in my creative adventures and last, but most certainly not the least, to share a little more of me. I've enjoyed hovering inside my own shadow for quite some time, but now that the new year has settled, I've realized there is much I want to do with my life, that won't exactly work if I stay hidden in the wings.

So, come on and join me this year, there will be plenty of interesting things, I promise you. This year will be the start of when I write outside the lines I've drawn over myself. I look forward to sharing this journey with you!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Her Villianess, Cerine (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Joanne at her blog, An Open Book. Click here to read and share more great stories.

Author's note: This is part of a larger work, currently still inside my head, but I couldn't resist sharing this villianess that has been begging me to share her story. There is still a lot more to this than I can fit in one short piece, but enjoy!

She sat there, silently, unmoving as the red fires raged below. It was hard to tell at first, to which side she may have belonged, for of all the war taking place below, she sat at the highest window…and cried.

Her tears seemed to be red, reflecting the fires and screams below. Her hair was a deep, dark red as well, flowing from her shoulders to fall at her waist. To a stranger, who knew nothing of what was taking place, they might have thought she was a prisoner. One perhaps, who had been tortured or forced to watch the bloodshed taking place outside her window.

A droll bell began to chime, as if the hour at hand had changed. A strange sort of silence began to fall. It swept quickly over the battlefields and then to the tower, where she suddenly stood up and yanked the window shutters closed.

Heavy winds rattled the blinds, shaking the wooden slats. She shivered, her fingers holding the latch, as if reassuring herself that it was secure. The winds continued to blow and then slowed as she drew in a large breath and slowly released it.

There seemed to be no light in her eyes, but a tiny smile crept across her face in the afternoon glow as the wind ceased to blow entirely. Her attention shifted entirely from the window to her attire in the following seconds as she fingered the fabric of the rich, burgundy gown. She shuffled her feet forward to see the matching slippers and then frowned.

Her head rose with a sigh as she snapped her fingers, twice.

A small panel in the corner of the wall slid upwards and a young girl skittered through, bobbing a wobbly curtsy. “Milady Cerine?” She stuttered the words out.

Cerine tilted her head to the side, her smile becoming more pronounced. “You needn’t be so scared, Lilia.” She murmured, gliding forward to rest a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “I only wanted to ask you if you could fetch my black slippers from my bedroom. The black and gold ones, like these.” Cerine displayed a burgundy and gold slippered foot. “Would you be a dear and do that for me?”

Lilia bobbed her head quickly.

“Good girl.” Cerine shooed her away with one hand. “Go then. I might not be in this room when you return, but find me. I don’t like these shoes. They match. Off you go. Scat!”

Lilia nodded again, and darted away, fright reflecting in her young face as she ducked through the panel in the wall.

Cerine sighed. “It is going to be one of those kind of days, isn’t it?” She asked the empty room, then shook her head. “I ought to be making the best of it, then, shouldn’t I?”

But of course, no one answered her questions as she glided from the room and swept down the massive stone staircase. Her feet made light, soft sounds as she took the steps two at a time. No easy feat for an ordinary woman, but for Cerine, her legs were long and her movements were quick, yet fluid.

She swirled to a stop at the foot of the stairs, cheeks flushed, the earlier despair fading from her pretty features. She had arrived at one of the grand ballrooms. This was the blue room, decorated in classic squares of blue and white everywhere. “Am I hungry?” She asked aloud.

A girlish giggle escaped. “I think I am.” She announced with a twirl across the ballroom floor. She began to hum, twirling and swaying to the music only she could remember as her eyes slid closed.

Her arms raised up into the air to accompany her invisible dancer. There was a soft breath of wind as two cool hands slipped into hers.

Cerine smiled, dancing for a few more minutes before she twirled into the arms of her apprentice. “Regmar.” She acknowledged, twirling away.

“Mistress.” He murmured, watching her circle around him. “I bring news…we have new captives, I thought you might be interested in.”

“New ones? You thought?” Cerine paused in mid-twirl, her red cat-eyes drilled into him.

“Yes.” Regmar dropped to one knee. “The ambush on the enemy camps south of Barrwest was successful. We captured their Sentinel Commander, Greenwick and Right-Hand Captain, Hardin, as well as their reigning Lady Warrior, lady Salyne herself.”

“All three of them?” Amazement filtered through her voice as she laughed softly. “How fortunate for us. Most fortunate.” Her earlier dreaminess faded away to the calculated and steady voice of the Mistress of Crypt and only holder of the Red Energies. “Bring them to the throne room…I will receive them within the hour.”

“Yes, Milady.” Regmar rose and offered a bow. He exited the room with Cerine’s gaze trailing after him.

“Yes, of course.” She murmured, turning on her heel, she walked to the corner of the wall. Her fingers brushed the spiral stone decorations on the side of the shelf and the wall creaked open.
She started into the opening, then froze and backed out. With a grimace she surveyed her elaborate ball gown, then raised one hand and traced a circular motion in the air above her head. A shower of red sparkles showered down over her and the dress melted away, her new outfit was the classic expectation of every prisoner within her grasp.

Black armor covered her from head to toe, a dark red tint visible in the light. One gauntleted hand reached upwards and touched a spot near her neck, the helmet and headgear retracted. Cerine flexed her arms and waited while the chain mail dissolved from around her arms, giving her more ease of movement. She rolled her neck forward and then shrugged her shoulders upwards.

A soft sparkling of pink tinkled through the air, with the sound of bells chiming once more. A thick gold chain materialized around her neck, dangling a fiery red pendant in the center of her chest.

This time, she smiled and ducked through the opening once more. The wall slid shut behind her as she sprinted up the narrow stairwell and then paused in front of one walkway to her left.

She chewed her lip for a moment, then darted to her left and inched along the ledge until she reached another split pathway. She moved to a corner and lifted a scrap of fabric, peering through the peephole and into her own bedroom. With a satisfied nod, she pushed gently on the panel and stepped into her room.

Peace instantly washed over her and she moved to sit at the vanity table. Her fingers quickly applied the usual cosmetics. Once finished with that, she moved to the dresser drawers and opened the top drawer.

Her fingers met empty air when she groped inside for the sword usually kept there. She pressed her lips together, then turned around and tamped down her temper when the bedroom door opened.

“Antioch.” She spoke stiffly.

The head snapped upwards at once, and surprise showed clearly across the man’s face as he took in her attire, her expression and then stared down at the sword in his hands. “You promised you would not touch any instrument of-”

“I’m not going to scare anyone.” She snapped, sarcastic, one hand extended. “I actually have a conference to attend and I was hoping to do so in the proper formal attire.”

His shoulders hunched forward. “Promise?”

Cerine rolled her eyes. “Yes. I promise. Happy?”

His face twitched and then he looked down as he extended the weapon.

“Thank you.” She scowled, snatching it from his fingers and fastening it at the usual spot around her waist. She paused in front of the mirror to fuss with a few more strands of her hair, then took a leather cord from the jewelry box in the corner and twisted her hair into a smooth, sleek knot. “Lilia might venture in here in a bit.” She spoke, tying the cord tightly. “Tell her I’ve changed my mind about the slippers.” She rushed from the vanity to the actual door this time.

She caught hold of the red cape hanging on the hook behind and tugged it loose, fastening one side to her shoulder clasp. She reached for the other, but Antioch was already finishing it.

There was a strange, indescribable look in his eyes, but he only moved silently away from her to hold the door open.

She hesitated, for a moment, then swept through the door and down the stairs. Two at a time, as usual.

It didn’t take very long to find the throne room and to settle into the ornately carved stone chair. She sat there, for awhile and eventually her regal pose melted away to where she finally lounged, bored, waiting for Regmar to bring her entertainment.

When he finally did arrive, the three in question were in chains, shuffling slowly in front of him. Emotions traveled across their fairly young faces, fear was the least common, defiance was the most prominent. The soldiers beside each of them knelt and yanked their prisoners down with them as well.

Cerine yawned. “Thank you, Regmar. Please leave us. And clear the halls around as well.”

A brief look of surprise skittered across his face. “All of them, Mistress?” He asked, tentative, puzzled.

She tilted her head slightly, then shooed him away with the usual wave. His confusion was quickly masked as he offered another bow and beckoned to the soldiers , before they all slipped away through the same door as they had arrived.

Silence reigned for a long moment, then she closed her eyes. “Please don’t kneel like that…it makes me think you’re very short.” She turned her head to the side, studying the coat of arms that adorned the wall. “I’m very sorry about the ambush, but I had to speak to you.”

“Sorry?” Commander Greenwick spat the word out, jerking to his feet.

Cerine turned to look at him. “Yes.” She said simply. “Sorry. I only needed to ask a favor of you, you see.”

“A favor?” The bitterness in Captain Hardin’s voice made no effort to disguise itself. “Then why don’t you kill us right now?”

“Hardin, shush!” Lady Salyne hissed through her teeth as Greenwick helped her to her feet.

“Yes, please do shush.” Cerine muttered, she swung her legs over the end of the throne’s arm and slowly shifted to her feet. “Really, this isn’t going to take very long.”

“And we should be thankful for that?” Hardin shot back.

Delicate eyebrows arched upwards. “Yes…actually, you should.” Cerine slowly traveled the four steps to the throne to the floor. “Again, I really am sorry. I hope no one was injured too…badly, in the…attack.”

Lady Salyne laughed bitterly. “Don’t we wish?” The smile on her face twisted from one of defiance to one of immense pain. “What did you do to them? Innocent people?” Tears trickled down her cheeks. “You turned them to stone? Just left them there like that? Frozen for all of time?”

Cerine blinked. “I did?” Puzzlement showed clearly on her face. “Where?”

“Where?” Greenwick closed his eyes, struggling to maintain a sensible composure. “The camp.” He said stiffly. “Everyone, but us.”

“Oh!” Understanding dawned at once and Cerine smiled. “Oh, you needn’t worry of that. It’s all taken care of.”

“So we saw.” Greenwick spat the words out. “Spare us your gloating and tell me what you intend to do with us?”

Cerine shook with laughter as one hand went to her mouth to keep the chuckles from escaping. “Oh you poor things.” A snicker escaped. “You think I…oh I don’t believe this.” More chuckles slipped out. “Oh you’ve got it all wrong. Horribly wrong. You see, this is why I had to speak with you. I’m tired of this war business, quite frankly it’s getting to be rather boring, I mean, I know I’m going to win and I know you will never surrender, so it’s all rather pointless, isn’t it?”

“You’re mad!” Lady Salyne choked. “Stark raving mad!”

“No. Only certifiably insane by your mundane standards.” The laughter stopped. Cerine glided forward to stand in front of Greenwick. “I am only asking your audience, Sentinel Commander. Please, surely you can spare your attention for a few moments? I will try not to bore you and of course, please don‘t try anything overly heroic, because sometimes I cannot help what I actually…do.” She extended a hand. “May I?”

His companions bristled, but one shackled hand thumped into hers.

“Thank you.” Cerine traced a circle in the air above the shackle and it clicked open, falling to the floor. She smiled as the other shackles clicked open and fell to the floor in harmony. “You’re welcome.”

She glided to the end of the room and poured something into the four glasses. She carried the glasses over to where the stood, shocked. “Here. Try this. Warms you up pretty well. It’s snowing South of the Barrwest this time of year, isn’t it?” She nodded her head. “Take the glasses, please.” The red pendant hovering over her chest glowed softly.

Three hands cautiously did as they were told, accepting a glass in turn. Varied expressions accompanied the apprehensive breath they all drew as Cerine took a large swallow from her own glass.

“Please, do go ahead.” She took another swig. “It’s not poisoned, ,if that’s what you’re expecting. If I really wanted you dead, trust me, there are more…creative ways to go about it.”
None of the glasses moved.

“Y-you have our attention.” Greenwick forced the words through his mouth.

“Good.” Cerine took the last swallow of pale liquid and then her eyes flickered towards them. The red within faded to a bright and vivid violet. Her grip around the stem of the glass tightened and then she suddenly threw it over her shoulder. It crashed. Loudly. “I need you take a message to your high and mighty King Delandar. His father would actually be a better candidate, but I am aware that the rule has changed since our…war has begun.” Cerine began to pace the length of the floor in front of them. “I need a guarentee that this message will reach him. It is extremely important, which is why I wanted one of you to take it. Not that I do not trust my own, but I grow weary of their mistakes and I know you would never been as foolish as to let one of them so close to your precious king.” She paused. “Will you do this?”

“Take a message?” Lady Salyne exclaimed, incredulous. “You…all those people…”

“It is the evening bell.” Cerine snapped. “A certain…person, does not think I need to carry my violence, as he calls it, past dinner time. I’m surprised you have not seen this before. Everything freezes from the toll of the bell until I rise the next morning. Your camp is fine. They will remember nothing by morning’s come.”

“Just like that?” Hardin scowled. “And of course, this is normal for you. To interfere with the natural cycles of life you-”

“Please don’t start any name calling, I fear my vocabulary may outweigh yours by far. I only have need of someone to carry a message.”

“What kind of message?” Greenwich was guarded.

“Surrender.” Cerine said matter-of-factly. “Like I said. I’m bored. And this war has been going on since, what? Since you were a kid? Don’t you think it’s dragging now? Besides, I do have more important things to waste my energies on.” She slowly moved back towards the thrones and then turned. “Could I-no.” She shook her head. “I couldn’t possibly ask you to do that, but I can ask you to do this.”

“Be you serious?” Greenwich swallowed. “This is…serious.”

“A trifle.” Hardin interjected. “She is the queen of all things dark, of trickery! Surely you do not even begin to think that you trust her?”

Cerine turned her eyes to him for a moment and then cupped one hand. A bright crackle of red energy sprang to life in her palm. Without warning, she gave a flick of her wrist and hurled it towards the trio.

They leapt to the side, aided by the help of a soft, clear, blue glow.

Cerine smiled. “My dear Captain,” She spoke in measured tones. “Surely you see how bright your own aura is, and yet you would think your own Sentinel would turn for me?” There was a bark of laughter. “Even I know better than to tempt one such as he.” She shook her head. “No, I have something much easier for you for you to do.” She snapped her fingers, twice.

A small panel in the wall slid open and Lilia crept through. Fear showed in her face as she skirted the trio and ran to Cerine, wrapping one arm around her leg. Cerine smiled as she saw their reactions.

A gasp escaped from Lady Salyne, she inched closer to Greenwich, who took a step backwards to match Hardin. They all stared in a mixture of horror and amazement, for Lilia was dressed as they were and also glowing the same pure, blue light.

“She’s one of us!” Lady Salyne exclaimed. “What…what kind of…?” Her voice faltered as Cerine wrapped a protective arm around the child’s shoulder. “What is the meaning of this?” She took a step forward.

Lilia shrank away from them, one finger going to her mouth.

“Lilia, love.” Cerine gently pried her hand off of her leg. “I’m going to ask you to do me a very special favor?” She took a vial from a nearly hidden pouch hanging from her belt. “I’m going to ask you to deliver a message for me and when you’re through, I want you to drink this, okay?”

Lilia stared up at her with wide, bright eyes.

“What are you going to do?” Lady Salyne pulled free from Greenwich’s restraining hand. “She’s but a child, let her alone!”

“I let her alone, well enough.” Cerine returned. “She stays of her own free will…and she amuses me, so I keep her near. However, I can see you would be much more comfortable traveling with her, than another.” In a sudden swift movement, she dropped to one knee and caught Lilia around the shoulders, pinning her arms to her side. From the back of her belt, she drew a knife and with quick expertise, carved her mark into the side of Lilia’s neck.

“Let her alone!” Lady Salyne cried, throwing herself forward, only to be hindered by her companions, who struggled to hold her back.

“No, Salyne!” Greenwich grunted, trying to subdue her flailing arms. “Don’t! She wants you to interrupt her! Don‘t!”

“For our sakes’ don’t, woman!” Hardin caught her wrists in a vise-grip. “Get a hold of yourself!”
A soft whimper escaped and Lilia reached one hand up to her neck when released, but her fingers only touched a ridged scar.

“She is fine.” Cerine spoke stiffly. “Stop your own whining, it is annoying me.” Her eyes flickered red. “And you know what happens when I’m really annoyed?”

Lady Salyne froze, seemingly paralyzed.

With a tight smile, Cerine returned to the matter at hand and pressed a kiss to the top of Lilia’s blonde head. “Tell the Kings, both former and present, this-” She whispered in her ear the remaining message.

When she straightened, she nudged Lilia forward. “Now remember, the message, then drink the vial and that ugly mark on your neck will go away, I promise, okay?” The once pure-blue eyes were now violet and they focused slowly on the Cerine.

“Yes, milady.” She offered a perfect curtsy.

“Go then.” Cerine nudged her again and Lilia lightly skipped forward.

She came to a stop in front of the trio and then suddenly darted forward and threw her skinny arms around Lady Salyne’s waist. “I like you.” Her voice trilled. “I want to ride with you, not them.” Her nose wrinkled as she looked at the surprised Captain and Commander. “And we need to go soon. I have a message to deliver.”

The dumbstruck trio was escorted out from the throne room and given fresh horses for the trip homeward.

“Travel quickly.” Cerine instructed them, watching as Lilia was settled on a horse, riding with Lady Salyne. “Do not touch anything belonging to or of me as you travel. It will all be as you see it here. Dead or silent. Do not interfere if you value your own life, or that of Lilia.” She bowed her head and whispered a few words beneath her breath. “I grant you safe travels through my lands. Go.”

The horses started without command from their riders, breaking into a run as if being chased by some great monster.

Cerine watched them go, the tiredness returning to her. She drew the end of the red cloak about her and closed her eyes, whispering the necessary words.

When she opened her eyes, she was standing in the shadowy confines of the high tower once more. She paused in front of the water basin on the end table. She reached one finger towards the reflective surface and hesitated, as she saw her own face, the pain radiating from her own expression, one she could not bear.

She splashed the surface of the water and turned away, towards the windows. Here, she opened the latch and threw them wide open. The night had begun and in the dimming light, she saw the frozen, stony scene that had terrified her ‘guests’.

Her lips pressed together and for the second time that day, the tears fell.

© 2009 Sara Harricharan