Friday, August 21, 2009

Hunt For the Dark Phoenix (Friday Fiction) Part 4

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

Author's Ramblings: Well, I had more fun with the edits on this piece and hopefully have added a new slant to the mysterious Dark Phoenix. I had fun working through the details of what he would cook, how and what his kitchen would be like. Hopefully you will find it as interesting as I did. Thank you so much for the wonderful comments last week-it really made my day, and editing this piece-worth it! Have a great weekend and enjoy the read!

Eira's scrambling was nearly in vain for the Dark Phoenix barely halted his warp enough for her to scoot through behind him. The ride was so swift and direct, it was nothing more than a deliberate flash of rainbow colors before her eyes and the strongest energy pull she could remember. She tumbled out on the floor of his destination with her bag flying to the nearest wall and her feet slipping out from under her.

Perfect brown boots stepped around and over her sprawled figure to set the sack of groceries on a counter. The basket, was set neatly on the floor for later perusal. Eira rolled over and sat up, rubbing her neck. It felt as if she'd just snapped the spring inside. A quick look around gave her an immediate hint to her new surroundings. She was inside a kitchen. A small, neat and extremely well organized kitchen.A gloved hand was offered to her and she took it, gingerly. Her head was pounding again.

"Slow warp?" Her rescuer inquired, his gaze darting quickly from her feet to her face before he returned to the kitchen counter. He continued his task of painstakingly unpacking each item, dusting it and lining them up in a row.

Sharp pains radiated through her shoulders and then through her neck, traveling upwards to join the throbbing in her head. Eira grimaced. "It seemed pretty fast to me." She reached backwards for the wall and slowly slid back down to sit on the floor. It was steadier there. Things weren't moving as much.

His gaze flickered briefly over her again and then he assumed a more relaxed expression. "A slow warp means it is one that is extremely fast. So fast, it seems slow, correct?"

Eira made a fist with one hand and positioned it to the left of her throat. Healing herself would be tricky, but it was one thing she’d been sure to learn. She tapped the closed fist gently with the thumb of her other hand to release a spiral of healing energy. With the fading pain, her wit slowly gathered itself around her. "Fast can't be slow."

"On the contrary. Slow can be fast." He folded the reusable grocery sack and hung it on a hook near the entry way. "Things are never what they seem to be when it comes to energy warps. Mine in particular, are excellent examples of that. You might want to remember that for future reference, it’s important enough." He pointed towards a door and then snapped his fingers. "The refresher is there. Please freshen up, you look positively ill." Her bag and belongings picked themselves off the floor and repacked their contents neatly inside their respective places before gliding across the room to land in her lap. "Dinner will be stew and bread." His back turned to her as he began to pack the items from the counter into the cupboard.

Eira felt her eyelids drooping as she forced herself to stand up and move towards the refresher. Now her head was spinning something awful, in perfect tandem with her roaring stomach. A most unwelcome side effect to a self-healing. She muffled the moan in her shoulder as the door slid shut behind her.She was a few minutes too late to help herself and promptly threw up in the following minutes. By the time she'd managed to pull herself together, it was with a burning throat and a dizzy head, her stomach having quieted itself. A shower was beginning to seem quite good at that point, but being in a strange place, in a strange home, with a strange fellow, Eira decided against it, sticking her head in the sink to wash it instead.

When she finally stepped out of the refresher, a lovely aroma filled the air, causing her weak stomach to begin a happy dance. A faint bubble of happiness bloomed inside herself as she set her bag on the floor near the refresher and moved towards the kitchen. He glanced up again, the moment she stepped out and she was vaguely aware of a little prickling sensation that washed over her as his gaze swept her from head to toe. A gesture she was now beginning to note as being standard for any object near him.

He was still in the kitchen, standing near the table, kneading something in a bowl. He'd rolled up his shirt sleeves and was energetically putting his efforts into the project. Nodding towards a chair he paused long enough to push it out with one foot. "Better?"

She slid into the chair and nodded, her damp hair tickling the back of her neck. Sitting was better than standing, of course, but he was still standing and her sitting hadn’t helped that much. She tried not to notice how short he was, but her mind stubbornly persisted in its comparisons.

"I meant your stomach." He shifted the bowl from the tabletop to the floor and knelt to finish his work. He seemed perfectly at ease working the dough and ignoring her.

Her cheeks tinged with a sliver of warmth. "Fine…thanks."

"The bread will be a few minutes." He murmured, dusting his hands. He stood, carrying the bowl to the counter where he proceeded to section and round the dough off into nice, big rolls. The rolls were then placed on a pan and put in the oven in a matter of minutes. The oven was a completely different story, however. Eira had never seen one like it, but it was the only logical option for where he’d stuck the bread. It was a sleek black box with no markings on it anywhere at all. There were no burners on top, or buttons or dials of any sort. The only thing visible was a large hole, the size of a hand near the upper left corner. To Eira's surprise, he simply made a fist, blew on it and stuck it in the hole.There was the sound of a mild explosion, followed by stray wisps of smoke as he withdrew his hand and headed to the sink to wash the bowl.

Eira twisted in her chair to stare after him and then at the strange black oven-shaped box. Moments later, he checked the stew, stirring it and tasting it with a separate spoon. His mouth quirked into a smile afterwards and then he nodded, redirecting his attention towards her. “It’s ready.” He turned abruptly towards the oven and hurried to open it. The inside cavity was glowing a hot, bright red and he simply reached inside and snatched the pan out. Setting it on the counter, he produced a brush to dust off the sides of the pan and then another one to brush melted butter on top.

The pleasing aroma changed, morphing into a scent far too delicious for Eira to place. Her toes wiggled expectantly inside her shoes, the only childish display of happiness she could be sure no one would ever notice. Her hands were politely clasped and resting in her lap, but her mouth watered inside. Several different thoughts filtered through her head, the main one being a question that demanded to know when food had been such a welcome diversion. Eira pushed it aside, focusing instead on the meal just inches away.

Satisfied with his respective dishes, the Dark Phoenix retrieved bowls and utensils from various compartments in his kitchen. They were neatly lined up in rows and filled, garnished and arranged accordingly.

It was a matter of seconds before the steaming goodness set before her with two large rolls on the side. Eira closed her eyes to inhale the warm scent. For once, her stomach could rumble all it wanted and she'd be more than happy to fill it. “Thank you!” She heard herself exclaim, unable to keep her enthusiasm in check.

He set his own place across the table from her and turned back to the kitchen. Waiting a few seconds was almost more than she could bear, but her host did not take long to join her once the stew was safely covered and the remaining bread rolls placed in a basket in the middle where both sides could reach them.He offered a brief smile, seating himself and then bowing his head, lips moving silently for a moment. When his eyes opened, he smiled and picked up his spoon.

Eira stared, curious. "What was that?" As far as she could tell, nothing unusual had happened from it, at least not something obvious.

"My thanks." He said simply, turning his attention towards the kitchen and pointing a finger, he beckoned. From the shadowy corners, a little, white, ceramic pot hovered up and to the table, stopping just near the bread basket. Opening the top, he spooned something over his roll and then proceeded to consume it.

"Thanks for what?" Eira took a cautious mouthful, glad to find the stew hot, but not scalding. It tasted even better than it smelled and it took an extra effort to eat slowly and politely. A slight quiver passed through her.

"I would be a most horrible ingrate if I did not think the provision of food was worthy of giving thanks to the one who has created me and thus provided me with my good fortune." He pushed the little dish towards her. "Do you not do the same? Here, try this. It is herbed oil for the rolls. The herbs are good for the heart and lungs. It will help settle your stomach and possibly clear your head."

Eira stored the information away for later use and tried the herbed oil, pleased to find that tasted just as good as it smelled. This resulted in cutting the rolls open to slather the insides with the oily condiment. The rest of the meal was silent, except for the sounds of spoons clinking against the bowl or a quiet slurp every now and then.

When dinner was over, her host repeated the offer that she could stay for the night as he did the dishes, instructing her to retire to the open room that he would bring some tea. Eira attempted to help clear the table, only to receive a look of mild annoyance for her efforts.

She blushingly left the kitchen to settle into a comfy seat near a window. A yawn broke through her new calm and she drew her feet up on the chair as she stared out in the darkened outdoors. It was windy enough to feel wisps of coolness seeping in through the windowsill. A shiver passed through her, easily repressed when she focused on the root of the issue and slowly picked it apart in her mind. A touch of sleepiness was registering and Eira fought it to stay awake. “I must have eaten too much.” She told herself, surprised to find herself so exhausted.

Her host soon appeared with a tray bearing a steaming pitcher and two mugs upside down near matching plates. "Cream or Sugar?"

"Uh, yes?" She blinked, trying to bring his slightly fuzzy image into a clearer view. Eira watched as he spooned out exact measurements in both cups before handing over the one nearest to her. "Thank you."

"You are welcome." He seated himself on the lounge chair opposite of her and followed her earlier gaze out the window. His brow furrowed for a moment and he looked from the window to her and then dismissed whatever thought he’d formed.

"Nice place you have here." Eira heard herself say. She sipped the brew only to burn her tongue. A quick glance in his direction, showed that he was merely holding his cup. His eyes laughed. He’d known it was scalding and had expected her to notice the steam rising from the brew as warning enough.

"Thank you." He lifted the cup to his lips, but still didn’t quite take the sip implied.

She tried another tack. "Have you been here…long?”

“Depends. Time passes differently for different people.”

“I see.” There was an awkward moment of silence, abruptly broken by Eira’s outburst. “Do you always talk this much?"

He shrugged. "Usually."

"Right." Her face flushed as she stared down into the steaming cup. Her eyes were trying desperately to close and it was taking every available ounce of willpower to keep them open.
© Sara Harricharan


Vonnie said...

ooohhh...nice setting, warm and soothing!

Dee Yoder said...

Yes, the setting is warm and inviting and the quirky, slightly humorous personality of the Dark Phoenix shines through!

Hoomi said...

Finally catching up. I'm enjoying the story, and will add a full comment after the most recent chapter.

J.H. said...

...didn't plan for the Dark Phoenix series to go past 7 or 8 installs, eh? Yeah it's beginning to feel that way: no closing hook, no wise cryptic rambling from the D.Phe. [yeah--like the way that sounds!], you didn't even describe any foreign objects in his residence to make me think 'hmm, cool!', save, the box oven. Greetings Sara, I am still a train wreck of disbelief at the volume of writing you put out each week--despite school--here on blogger, faithwriters, "wandering thought stream", and wherever else you are on the net. It was foolish of me to think that you could do all this because your writing skills are superior.
+ There's nothing that I particularly dislike about part 4, but then, there's nothing that I particularly like either. I am now established in that these characters are not aliens from another planet, or fantasy creatures, but humans. Your dealings with Eira's anatomy--quieted stomach after vomiting, burning throat, and scalding her tongue--confirmed this.
+ You're very mindful of your character's positions, a quality in my writing that I share with you. Eira "tumbled on the floor" [par. 1], she "rolled over and sat up, rubbing her neck" [par. 2], the D.Phe's "gloved hand was offered" to help her up. Then [par. 4], she reaches for "the wall and slowly slid back down to sit" finally she "forced herself to stand up and move towards the refresher" [par.8]. Another way you could have communicated that: 'Eira, slumped against the wall with sharp pains radiating throughout her head-shoulders region and a roaring stomach foreshadowing the return of her airport meal, forced herself toward the refresher.' The D.Phe's positions and movement you give the same treatment, yet since his kitchen is described as "neat and extremely well organized", attention to position is more understood.
+ I bring that to light because I kinda wanted more sensory description of the D.Phe's surroundings, and I'm debating if you could have lessened the description of Eira's struggle to gather herself in order to accomplish this. Are there any flowers or plants hanging around in his open room? He gives thanks to "the one who has created...and thus provided", does he have a bible or any other oracle from the Lord that Eira could give a squint at causing the reader wonder, 'what's he about?' Maybe the oracle could give off a faint noise? How about any pictures: a wife, friends, parents, former masters (the Jedi Council!), children, landscapes, events in his life? Even if you don't want him to have any, that would certainly be worth Eira taking note of--even she has a sister.
+ You did achieve your main goal: develop the D.Phe. Par. 9 worked well: "He glanced up again, the moment she stepped out and she was vaguely aware of a little prickling sensation that washed over her as his gaze swept her from head to toe. A gesture she was now beginning to note as being standard for any object near him." Also, the last 3 paragraphs told much within dialogue:
"Do you always talk this much?"
He shrugged. "Usually."

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Hi again, J.H.! I'm glad you had time to read the 4th installment. It was more a passage of exploration in forming Eira and The DP, starting off the first of their oddball interactions with each other and looking for ways to give them each a trademark gesture/habit. I would call it a fluff chapter. ^_^ Yes, this is more of a pet project than an actual edited story, hence, no hook, line...closure, that sort of thing,though there are some action sequences I am working on at present--the cliffhangers should pop up soon. ^_^ I had not quite entirely decided on whether Eira is human or not and that is painfully obvious in the opening installments. You have a valid point-I do not give much attention to detail and I dearly love tagless dialogue, which does allow some installments to be more for fluff than moving the story forward. Thanks for your feedback on the DP, I'm still fleshing him out and working on ways to bring his faith further into play. Thanks again for taking the time and effort to leave such detailed feedback, it is appreciated and I hope you enjoy installment #5!