Friday, March 20, 2009

Raising Rachel (Friday Fiction) [part 3]


This article has been revised and posted at the Cypress Times and the post displayed here is a rough draft, unedited and preserved for the sole purpose of surviving on this blog. Enjoy the read and check out the edited version--which will appear sometime this week. 

There was something nice and soft under her head. The thought was somewhat welcome, but rather disconcerting, as Rachel stretched luxuriously on the mound of softness. It offered momentary comfort, wrapped with tentative strings of confusion. Her last memories didn’t fit the warm fuzzy feelings settled in her stomach. With a groan, her eyes flickered open and she stared upwards at a dull gray ceiling. Her dream-filled mind tried desperately to process her unfamiliar surroundings until she finally pulled herself together. 

It took a moment longer than she wanted to give it, before her body managed to summon enough energy to heave her body upwards. She twitched, wanting to sit up, but unable to do so-yet. Staring sleepily at the patterned wallpaper, her blurry gaze fudged the colorful squares and the fuzzy figure standing in the middle of it. The harder she tried to focus, the more the pictures blurred. Another groan bubbled up inside when her hands tangled in the softness wrapped around her. Her mind shifted gears, as she realized the soft something was a very fuzzy blanket.

This particular blanket was filled with an all-too-familiar scent, which, logically, shouldn’t have been anywhere within miles of her if she was actually where she wasn’t supposed to be. Such a convoluted thought did wonders for confusing her already befuddled brain, but it was enough to fully jolt her wide awake. Rachel sat bolt upright with a gasp, followed immediately by a grimace.

“Rachel?” Uncle Thom’s worried voice came into view. “Rachel! Please tell me you’re okay.” His voice was calm, but his expression carefully controlled. There was more to this question than he was going to say outright.

She stared at him for a long moment, while her brain continued clicking puzzle pieces together. She licked her lips, searching for an answer when she realized there was something pricking her arm and another thing horribly out of place. “Where am I?”

“Easy now,” He soothed. “Don’t worry…you’re here at home with me, in Waynesville. Rachel, honey?”

She took a cautious, shuddering breath. It burned through her lungs, producing a cough. “Ugh.” The groan escaped.

“Rachel!”

“Uncle Thom?” She croaked.

“Thank goodness.” Relief showed plainly on his face as he finally eased back from hovering directly over her and absently sat on the edge of the coffee table. “Jared! Lucy, she’s up!”

Two unfamiliar heads appeared around the corner, attached to suspiciously familiar uniforms.
Rachel swallowed, deciphering the paramedic tag as her mind reluctantly connected the dots. She hiked the blanket up around her shoulders. “um, hi…”

“What happened?” Uncle Thom took the cup of coffee from Lucy. “Who hit you?”

“Hit me?” Rachel stared at him, uncomprehendingly. “Um…why don’t I ask how I got here in the first place?”

“Actually sweetie.” Lucy drawled. “We were hoping you could answer that.”

“What do you mean?” Rachel rubbed her eyes, trying to focus on the woman. It was hard to do, when her mouth was saying one thing and her mind was saying another.

Her mind.

Rachel nearly choked.

“Sweetie, are you all right?” Lucy leaned closer. You’d better be all right, your uncle will kill me if there’s something wrong with you? What kind of an idiot girl turns up on a doorstep in the middle of the night with a bump on her head?

“I have a bump on my head?” The words spurted from her lips before she could stop them.

Three pairs of eyes stared back at her. “Yes.” Uncle Thom said slowly. “Don’t you feel anything?”

“No…should I?” Rachel automatically reached one hand back to her head and feathered it through the tangled mane. She grimaced.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, Unk…just too many knots.”

“Knots?” Jared repeated, incredulously. She’s been hit over the head, could’ve been drugged, though not by anything we’d know of down here in the sticks and she’s worrying about-

“How did you say I got here?” Rachel tried to shake the words streaming into her head, but it was as if she couldn’t shut them out and the more she tried not to think about why, the more the actual truth began to plague her.

“You just showed up on the doorstep night before last.” Uncle Thom said quietly.

“You didn’t take me to the hospital?” Rachel felt a stray of hope. If he hadn’t taken her to a medical facility, then perhaps…

“No, he didn’t.” Lucy frowned. And that was the most downright stupid thing I’ve ever seen him do in the all the thirty years I’ve known him!

Rachel made herself smile. “Thanks.”

“Thanks?” Jared closed his eyes. “We don’t know what happened to you. We almost lost you for a moment there, and you’re telling your Uncle thank you for not taking you to the hospital?” She’s as crazy as he is!

“He’s not crazy!” Rachel snapped. “And yes, I am telling him thank you…” She turned directly to him. “Thank you…I…I don’t exactly remember a whole lot, but I’m sure glad I turned up on your doorstep and not someone else's.”

“I didn’t say he was crazy.” Jared said quietly, the dulled blue eyes suddenly sparked to life.

“Rachel?” Uncle Thom was starting his worrying routine again. Where on earth did she get that one from? Jared’s been like a…please tell me she’s not going to take this the wrong way, I don’t think I could handle one of her explosions!


Rachel felt her face flush at once and this time she knew she was fine. “the…uh…expression on your face, was…different.”

“I see.” Jared took a breath. “Well, then, seeing as you’re fine-” And apparently well enough to be-

“Oh bother him!” Rachel screeched, she leapt to her feet and stumbled clear of the blankets, heading for the bathroom.

“Rachel?”

The bathroom door slammed.

Rachel sank to the floor, burying her head in her knees. Breathing was becoming rather difficult, but for a moment, she felt as if her heart had stilled entirely and if it had, then breathing wasn’t exactly much of a problem. The tattoo was burning again, so strongly that the only answer was the one she didn't want.

Mark…I’m going to kill you!

            *                      *                      *                      *                      *                      *

Mark rapidly scrawled his signature across the permission slips for the operation to get underway. At one point, Cherry had the nerve to turn up at his side, timid as a child.

“Yes?” He said, brusquely.

“Rachel Banner has been returned to Earth.” She fumbled with her armful of notes. “W-was there anything else you r-required of me?”

“Apart from your competence, no.”

“S-sir?”

“Your stammer. Get rid of it.”

Her whitened face paled to the ghostly complexion her kind was known for. “Yes sir.” Her voice wobbled a tiny bit. “Anything else, sir?”

“How did she arrive?”

“She was particle warped down to the surface.” She swallowed. “Sir.”

“Safely?”

There was no answer.

“Safely?” Mark repeated, stacking the next folder on top of the briefcase.

“Well…”

“Spit it out!” Mark muttered.

“Y-yes sir.”

“The stammer, Cherry.” Mark turned deliberately to face her. “I asked a simple question and I expected a simple answer, what is so hard about that?”

“Nothing, sir.”

“Good. So when I am asking you what happened to Rachel Banner on her transportation back to Earth….”

“She sustained a possible…injury.”

“Injury? Where?”

“Head…nothing serious though.”

“How serious?”

“Earth doctors are competent enough to treat it.”

“Were her powers upgraded as instructed?”

“Yes sir.”

“Does she know it yet?”

“I would not know, sir.”

“Naturally. Thank you, Cherry. That will be all.”

“Yes sir.” She gave a half-bow, backing out of the room.

Mark waited until he heard the door click shut and the outside sensors filtering her retreating footsteps. He reached under the desk and tapped a few keys.

The screen on his desk changed at once to a password window and he keyed in the corresponding numbers. The image fuzzed then cleared and a fuzzy image came into view. He smiled at reading scrolling across the screen. “Do enjoy your upgrade, Rachel. You’re going to need it.”

Copyright, All rights reserved accordingly.  Sara Harricharan

4 comments:

Dee Yoder said...

Cool, Sara! So will we find out next week what she was "upgraded" to? What an imagination, Girl! Good read. (:

Shelley Ledfors said...

Ooh...very interesting. Of course, since I hadn't read the postings the past couple of weeks I had to go back and read the two previous installments. I'm still not sure where all of this is headed, but it has my interest and is intriguing! You have a wonderful imagination I really enjoy!

Joanne Sher said...

Sooo intriguing, girlie! Rachel sure is something. Looking forward to reading more. Good stuff as usual.

Lynn Squire said...

Oh those earth doctors. ;)

Sara,I wanted to let you know that I listed your site as an award recipient on my blog. I really enjoy your Fiction Fusion!