Friday, October 9, 2009

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 11) [Friday Fiction]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Karlene "KJ" Jacobsen @ her blog : Homespun Expressions. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: A bit late this week, I almost thought I would skip it, but the post was so fun, I had to finish it and post. In this chapter, we get to see Eira learning to meditate. Very fun to write and of course, plenty of the ususal Eira and DP drama. Read and review! Have a great weekend. ^_^

Eira woke to a persistent shaking of her shoulder. “What?” The word came out more accusingly than anything else.

“Morning.” The Dark Phoenix was standing a few feet away, shaking droplets of water from his head. “Time to wake up.”

“Noooo.” The whine was pathetic, but Eira couldn’t force her brain to begin functioning straightaway. “It can’t be morning.” She squinted into the darkness. She could see the Dark Phoenix clearly, but everything else remained a darken, hazy blur. “S’not morning.”

“Morning creeps up quietly and softly whispers in one’s ear, it does not announce itself with harsh light and a trumpet orchestra.” There was a pause. “I could summon an orchestra for you.” There was the slightest hint of humor in his voice. “If you would like.”

Eira glared at him. “No, I would not.” She achingly rolled upwards, stretching to touch her toes. “Owww. It’s freezing!”

“Really?” He dropped a new pack beside her. “I hadn’t noticed. This is yours.”

The new bag was mysteriously identical to the very one he’d been toting since they’d started. Eira examined it suspiciously, poking it with her foot before touching the flap. “What’d you do with my bag?”

“Folded, inside, bottom left.” He rummaged through his own pack and extracted something. “This one holds more things and you needed the space.”

“I needed the space?” Eira tugged the bag into her lap, surprised to find it lighter to carry than it looked.

“You will need the space.” He amended. “Though I am glad to see you are doing better this morning. Meditations will start in a moment.”

Her head snapped up. “What? No, here? Now?”

“Yes, here, yes now. Am I missing something?”

“I don’t know! I might be!” Her past frustrations resurfaced. “I don’t think I’m in any condition to be going around…meditating!”

“Um-hmmm.” He grunted.

“I-I need breakfast and…a…a shower!” She nodded. “Yes, I need food and I need a shower. I feel all icky. I have to have a shower before I do anything today…and I need to eat something! My stomach can handle it, I’m sure!”

“You didn’t need those yesterday.” He coughed. “and I am more inclined to think that your stomach would be happier without anything in it.”

“That was yesterday! Today is today!” Eira scowled. “I didn’t feel like it yesterday!”

“And you feel like it today?” He asked, matter-of-factly.

“Yes!”

He shrugged. “Suit yourself. There’s an extra change of clothes in your pack and whatever else you should need. You have fifteen minutes.” He shifted to his feet and began a series of stretches. “The river is twelve steps outside of this circle-be careful, I’ll whistle when your time is up.”

A happy exclamation followed as she rooted through the contents. “Oh fluffy!” Her arms laden with her new treasures, Eira headed for the rough path she’d seen him take before.

“Eira.”

“What?”

He straightened and threw something. “Catch.”

Eira ducked. The tiny bubble of black energy spun around her feet and then her head. She cautiously leaned away from it, then looked back to him. “What?”

“It’s a privacy orb…and in case you haven’t noticed, it’s a bit dark out there.” He nodded towards it. “It’ll wrap you in a bubble, offering invisibility and it will light your way.”

“Invisibility.” Eira swallowed. “Right…thanks.”

“Twelve steps.” He repeated, meaningfully. “Fifteen minutes.”

“I’m going, I’m going. Yeesh.” Eira flipped her messy braid over one shoulder and tromped through the bushes. She remembered, belatedly, to count to twelve, which resulted in backtracking and counting.

The dull flecks of light from the orb did little in terms of her surroundings, but Eira discovered that her eyes had begun to adjust. Setting her pack down, towel and fresh clothes neatly squished on top of it, Eira squinted at the ground. She reached out with her fingers, cautiously patting the grass. “No river.” She muttered. “Great.” Listening for the sound of running water did little more than confuse her. The jungle-land had grown eerily silent. Eira tried to shrug the feeling away, but couldn’t shake the eyes that seemed to be on her. “It’s in my head.” She told the orb. “All in my head, right?”

She backtracked again and counted, the results the same. She counted backwards from the twelve to the bush and her brain muddled at once. “Lovely.” Counting on her fingers, Eira took the steps and then stopped, waiting. “Twelve.” She muffled a scream of frustration. “Thirteen!” Boldly sticking one foot out, Eira was completely unprepared for when the foot did not touch solid ground, but went much deeper in.

There was a muffled yelp and nothing more as Eira toppled off the bank and into the water. She surfaced, flailing about, gasping for air as the chilly waters seeped into her clothes and into every pore of her skin, stripping away all warmth.

It took a moment to grab hold of the bank and then Eira hauled herself out of the water, dripping and shivering. “Twelve steps?” She repeated, disgusted. Her teeth began to chatter and she hugged her arms to herself. The orb spun wildly about her head and then suddenly smacked into her chest, and expanded, morphing into a thin, faint, black-gold sheath of energy that covered her from head to toe, effectively blocking out the wind.

Eira sniffled, then inched over to her pack and began to untangle the clothes and fluffy towel. She wrapped it around her shoulders and waited for the whistle. Her mind was free to wander and it did, bringing a host of bad memories and adding to her already wretched mood.

A few haunting bird trills touched her ears as the time passed and her mind continued to wander, as warmth gradually crept back to her body and her fingers began to work at the buttons. When she was no longer shivering and comfortably dressed in dry clothes, she wrapped the wet items in the towel and tucked it under her arm. It was slightly comforting to note that her surroundings were brightening somewhat.

“Eira!” His voice was annoyed and slightly muffled.

“What?”

“Fifteen minutes have been up for the past fifteen minutes.”

“Oh.” Eira scrambled to her feet and hurried back to the clearing. “I was waiting for your whistle.”

“I whistled. Three times.” He frowned. “Didn’t you hear me?”

“I didn’t hear anything.” Eira dumped her armful a few feet from his pack. “I just heard some birds, weird birds and then nothing. Do you have any idea how quiet it is around here?”

He cleared his throat.

Eira turned, the customary word on the tip of her tongue when she caught sight of his expression and crossed arms. Her face flamed. “Oh. You were the weird birds…?” His head gave the tiniest of nods. The blush grew fiercer. “I-I wasn’t quite expecting that, I mean…” She bit her lip. “Um, you can have your light orb thingy back…”

He arms uncrossed and he extended a hand, beckoning. Eira looked at it in puzzlement until the soft slurping sound reached her ears and she took an involuntary step backwards. The chill immediately returned as the energy left her and settled into a spinning ball in his hand.

“Nice to see you again.” He said, sarcastic.

Eira blinked. “I was invisible?” The blush stayed. “Oh. Sorry.”

“You did not know and therefore you are excused.” His frown stayed. “Next time, simply recall it. It is for your own safety and privacy-it will be one of the first personal energies I shall teach you to summon.” He squished the ball and it evaporated. “Did you fall?”

“What?”

“You fell.”

“I did not!”

“Liar.”

Eira opened her mouth and then shut it, she wasn’t ready to answer that question unprepared. “I didn’t fall….I just…sort of…stepped in.”

“And stepped in the deep end?”

“I don’t see what business it is of yours!”

“If you almost drown or believe you are almost drowning due to irresponsibility and a lack of following instructions, or you merely fell in, I need to know the difference. It helps.”

“Helps what?” Eira demanded.

“When you…stepped…in, your energies all screamed at me all at the same time.” He sighed loudly. “I was attempting to mark it with a difference, if you were all right, the next time I feel that sort of surge, I shall stay put.”

“Oh.” She swallowed. “I guess that makes…sense. Sort of. What if I was really…drowning?”

“If you were really drowning, I would like to think that I would have been aware of the fact and prevented it.” He sniffed. “Though I do believe if one is merely stepping into a river, drowning shouldn’t be on their list of worries-actually, I do believe they should be wondering if their feet will touch the ground.”

“It’s that deep?”

“No, Eira, it is incredibly shallow. Are you cold?”

"Why?"

"I cannot believe you just asked me why I asked whether you were cold." There was another sigh. “This is the most ridiculous, pointless conversation I’ve had at this hour in the morning.”

“How is it pointless?”

“Meditation time.”

“What?”

“I told you to work on that.”

“Work on what?”

“On saying ‘what’ every single-”

“What’s the problem with it? You can’t just order me not to say something and then expect me to remember it!”

“I cannnot?” There was a hint of humor in his voice. “Nicely put, I commend you on your extraordinary ability to contradict yourself.”

“I did not!” Eira blinked. “Did I?”

“You just did it again.” This time he did chuckle. “Over this way, apprentice.”

“What way?” Eira turned, following his slowly brightening figure. “I can hardly see you-”

“Whenever you need to meditate, it is a good idea to find a center.”

“A center of what?”

“In your head, Eira.” His voice was patient. “And your surroundings.”

“My surroundings?” Eira trotted after him. “How can you tell when you’re in the middle of wherever?”

“Do you think you are in the middle?”

“In the middle of what?”

“Of here-Eira, exactly where you’re standing.”

“I don’t know.”

“Think about it.”

“I did!”

“Did is past tense, think again, think now.”

“I am!”

“Then answer my question, are you in the center?”

“That’s not the question.”

“Eira.”

“You asked me if I thought I was in the middle, not if I was in the center.”

“It roughly translates into the same thing.”

“It does not!”

“By whose definition?” He countered. “Focus, Eira, now is not the time for distractions.”

“I’m not making the distractions-”

“Shh!” He caught her elbow and propelled her forward. “March!”

“I don’t wanna march!”

“And stop right here.” He steadied her, then pressed down on her shoulders. “Sit. Stay.”

That, Eira was perfectly fine with doing. She settled comfortably on the ground, rolling her shoulders back. “Is this the middle?”

“It is the center.” He corrected. “And don’t sprawl on the ground, sit.”

Eira rolled her eyes, but obediently shifted into a cross-legged position.

“You’d best kneel.” He murmured, settling into a cross-legged position across from her, hands resting lightly on his knees. “You aren’t used to sitting still like that for very long and it will tire your legs.”

“I don’t think it-”

“Kneel, then sit back on your heels, you will be glad you did tonight.”

With a sigh, Eira shifted again and then drummed her fingers across her knees, wrinkling her nose. “Now what?”

“Now, you meditate.”

“What?”

“Eira.”

“I mean, how?”

“If you would give me, but a half-second, I would be more than happy to keep explaining.”

“Oh.”

“You’re also searching for an inner center.” He continued. “When you begin meditations of any sort, make sure you have a general goal or a center in mind. A goal can be the outcome you desire after the session is complete and a center can mean clearing your mind or balancing your powers. In this instance, for your first official meditation, I am asking that you center yourself. In the next session, we’ll work on balancing your powers.”

“Oh goody.”

“Your enthusiasm is encouraging.” He said, dryly. “Now, since this is your first time and it can be rather intense once you settle into a routine, I am going to start you on a base of five minutes, starting now. For every interruption between or in those five minutes, even you even utter one syllable, I will add one minute to your time.”

“A whole minute?”

“Six minutes.”

“Six minutes!”

“Seven now.”

“How will I know when my time is up?”

“Eight minutes.”

“I’m serious!”

“Nine minutes.”

“That’s not fair!”

“Ten minutes.”

“I didn’t know it started right away!”

“Eleven minutes.”

“I can’t believe-”

“Twelve minutes, Eira, focus please.”

“I don’t know how to focus!” Eira exploded. “I don’t have a single clue what I’m supposed to be doing except for sitting on the ground, and staring into space! And I don’t care how many minutes you add for that!”

“Thirteen minutes.” He said, calmly.

“How. Do. I. Focus!”

“Fourteen minutes. You focus by trying.”

“By trying what?”

“Fifteen minutes. Any way that you like, each individual has a unique method of meditation, you will find your own.”

“I don’t even know where to begin!”

“Sixteen minutes. Try by taking a deep breath, Eira. Breathe in, breathe out. Count it.”

“I don’t have to close my eyes or anything weird like that?”

“Seventeen minutes. No, you do not have to do anything…weird. Closing your eyes helps sometimes though.”

“Are you adding minutes to your own meditation too?”

“Eighteen minutes. No. I work with a base of an hour and upward. If you do not start on yours, however, I will be extremely tempted in extracting your cooperation in another way. If you wish for specifics, then close your eyes and count how many breaths you can take before I call your time.”

“Master Phoenix?”

“Nineteen minutes. Yes, Eira?”

“If both of our eyes are closed, couldn’t we get ambushed?” Her closed eyes now flew open wide. A slight shiver ran down her shoulders.

“We’re close to the very middle of nowhere.” The patience had left his voice. “I doubt there is anything to worry about, but as I mentioned before, if you do not wish to close your eyes, you do not have to.” He sighed. "As to how we could possibly be ambushed, it would be a disgrace to my reputation if I would allow such a dispicable event to occur beneath my very nose."

“You forgot twenty minutes.”

“Twenty-one.”

“Snap.”

“Twenty-two.”

“Okay, already. I’m being quiet.”

“Twenty-three.”

“You’re going to run out of minutes.”

“Really? Twenty-four.”

“Ha! Twenty-five. I win.”

“Twenty-five. What exactly do you win?”

“I am not falling for that.”

“Twenty-six.”

“You tricked me!”

“Twenty-seven. I do believe you are the one still talking.”

“That doesn’t mean you have to answer!”

“Twenty-eight. It would be rather rude of me not to.”

“Ha. Yeah right! How can you meditate while you’re so busy counting how many minutes I’m talking for!”

“Twenty-nine. I like numbers, Eira. They fit very neatly in my head, and I am not counting the minutes you are talking for, I am counting the interruptions during your meditation period.”

“I hate numbers.”

“Thirty.” One eye opened and he frowned. “Meditation is an extremely important skill. I cannot show or tell you how to do it, you must learn it on your own. I can be quite general-as I already have. Now please, try!Apprentice, do not make me silence you.”

A strangled squeak came from Eira’s corner and finally she let out a frustrated sigh, mouthing the word she couldn’t keep back.

His eye closed again and he mouthed back “thirty-one”

© Sara Harricharan

3 comments:

Karlene said...

ROFL Sara! I love the dialogue.

J.H. said...

__Hello Sara, notice anything different today? Heh, sorry about the delay but it is now over; I have finally gotten myself together on blogger! There's not much to see now, but that will change. Through Christ I hope to put out some great writing!
- I'm going to criticize first, because I only have one. You really ought to have as one of the labels for this work 'comedy'. I've been waiting for the "epic drama"-ness of this work to return since part 3, but it seems to lean more and more to slap-stick comedy. You do funny well, as I will soon point out, but it is simply misleading and irritating to present a character in a serious manner with a serious goal and then distract the reader from it by making them laugh. I don't have anything against you being comedic, but in part 6 when you introduced the idea of the D.Phe.'s "official business" it should have already been explained what kind of business it is, especially if the business is epic in nature (responding to a distress call, offering sagely wisdom to a government). Right now, my mind is still hoping for that epic drama/fantasy mood to return in force. I hope you won't disappoint.
? The way you write dialogue, it reminds me of Sir Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes". I know you like mysteries, so it's probably safe to assume you've read these works before. Would you say his writing has influenced how you write dialogue? If not, then whom else?
+ Biggest positive, funny. You 'know' how to do this in writing. "S’not morning." That was a fun pronunciation. "“Um-hmmm.” He grunted." Great show of sarcasm without telling it. "I cannot believe you just asked me why I asked whether you were cold." Ha, that is so something a frustrated parent would say to their teenager! So far, you've delivered fresh comedic material and one-liners with each installment.
+ Speaking of fresh, I'm still trying to figure out why I found the meditation dialogue so. FREAKIN'. HILARIOUS! I knew where you going at, "...I am going to start you on a base of five minutes, starting now." But even after "Ten Minutes", I knew you weren't going to let up, and I didn't want you to. She's going to 30 minutes, I thought, and then, "...and he mouthed back “thirty-one.”" YES! She did it! That was funny! Heh-heh, I have much of your writings left to read Sara, but I'll say this, this scene will be hard to top! We shall see.
+ Since I've been pointing out your clunky sentences, it's only fair to point out sharp and clear ones also. "There was a muffled yelp and nothing more as Eira toppled off the bank and into the water" par.32. The parenthetical aside, "and nothing more", created this sudden sense of urgency that would not have been felt otherwise. And when the D.Phe. comments about the surge of energy he felt from her when she fell in, I connected it with that phrase. You did that intentionally, I'm sure, perhaps subconsciously. Either way, it reveals that you have an understanding of the indirect effect words have on the human psyche.

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

Hi again, J.H. ^_^ I did notice! Yay--welcome to blogger! I'd wondered what the J.H. stood for...was already inventing a character to go with it. Best wishes for doing well with your writings on blogger--it's quite a bit of fun! ^_^ I'm a bit behind this week--meant to get back to this yday, but it's been super-busy-sorry!

Ah, there is some epicness coming up--it's getting to the serious side now that I'm working towards the end. Some of the more recent installments should reflect this--I hope. I honestly hadn't thought of putting a comedy tag to it. Humor isn't really my 'strong point' writing wise--I'm quite surprised to have you mention it as such. Ideally though--the DP is the sort of fellow that hides his seriousness until he really needs it, so mostly he's amused enough to listen to Eira ramble on about pretty much nothing--so far.

Doyle is awesome--and I absolutely love Sherlock Holmes. It's definitely influenced my writing to some degree--I've always enjoyed reading that particular style/tone and complexity of Holmes' character is always a great inspiration when I start with a MMC. Nancy Drew (the old, original 25) have also been helpful in shaping my writing style/tone, along with Agatha Christie mysteries and the more recent Dee Henderson, who is one reason I attempt to insert a bit of inspirational fluff now and then in something I write.

The meditation dialogue was hilarious--I actually worked on that for a bit on paper, to be sure it would convey a few finer points of both characters--especially the ending where neither of them are giving in.

I'll claim the subconscious! LOL. Actually, I didn't really put that much thought into the last bit, but I had wanted a specific point for Eira falling in, so I made it as abrupt as possible in the midst of the other sentences...and after she'd walked one step over. The moment she did that, the DP would have sensed a shift in his barrier, so I guess I did intentionally tie it back that way. I'm glad it made sense! ^_^

Thanks again for taking the time to leave such wonderful feedback--it is incredibly encouraging on dreary days like today. ^_^

~Cheers!
Sara