Friday, February 19, 2010

Hunt For The Dark Phoenix (part 25) [Friday Fictoin]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Sherri Ward over at her blog A Candid Thought. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: A short installment this week and hopefully with a good cliffhanger for my wonderful readers who have been wondering when the action would return. I am getting there, slowly. ^_^ It's been a crazy week in between of all my writing projects and life in general, so apologies if this is shorter than the usual fare. Have a great weekend and happy reading! I love hearing your thoughts.

Summary: Last week, the DP coaxed one secret out of Eira's past--her fear of knives and her urges to run from problems she doesn't want to face. She learned one lesson the hard way--that running from the DP isn't a good option, because the barriers he uses for safety hurt worse than being crushed by a rock titan. Currently, she is recovering from the physical shock and dealing with the fact that he is playing her twisted game. 



And so she was quiet.

Very quiet.

For longer than she cared to be, Eira made a conscious effort not to speak and further annoy the man sitting under the tree just a few feet away. Her head had twisted into knot she didn't want to deal with and memories from the past that she could no longer run from... At least, she couldn't run from him. The barrier was the strongest one she had ever encountered, though familiar with protective barriers from the nightly one her father would erect for security purposes, the strength and depth of the one she'd just slammed into, spoke volumes for the Dark Phoenix himself.  Eira tried not to move, because true to his word, everything did hurt. She'd been thrilled to think that her body had recovered from the mess it had been weeks before, thanks to the idiot rock person, instead, now she was lying on the ground again, counting to a hundred for the sake of her temper and sanity.

This was not working at all. She raised a finger, relieved when no immediate reaction came from such a small movement. In general, moving did make everything hurt worse, so not moving was the best option yet. She wiggled the finger and grimaced as the prickles of pain rushed up her wrist and settled in her elbow. Not moving was still the best option.

With some effort, she twisted her head to the side to see what was happening. The Dark Phoenix eventually settled into a meditation position, head bowed and hand relaxed at the sides. The thread of happiness at the fact that she didn't have to meditate with him was enough to keep her quiet in the space of his silence.

When he’d finished with his quiet time, Eira ventured to ask about mealtimes again. It was the only question rattling around in her mind and the best change in subject. She didn't want to talk about memories and family and sharp objects. She didn't want to remember knives.

Shouldn't have taken the stupid knife in the first place. The dark thought registered with some distaste. She'd been too confused by losing her hair to think of anything else. It had been one of the last ties to her own past...to her family...to what she used to be.

“We can’t eat here.” He said, finally. “You can have a snack.”

“A snack? No food?”

“A snack is food.”

“No….it’s a snack.”

“I fail to see the logic here.”

“Snack is not food. Food is…edible.” Eira frowned. “Does this mean I have to eat fruit?” She wrinkled her nose at the thought of a sweet taste instead of the salt her body was now craving.

“Fruit is good for you.” He countered.

“Don’t want it.” She wiggled one toe. “Ow.” It didn’t hurt too much more than she’d expected. “Anything else?”

“Up.” He answered, instead. “Fruit or nuts, then we’re going.”

“Where are we going?”

“To the city where we should have been and the reason you cut your hair?”

“Oh.”
“Fruit?”

“Nut…I mean, nuts, I want the nuts.”

The eyebrow slanted upwards just the tiniest bit, but he rummaged through his endless knapsack and produced a neatly tied kerchief with the desired edibles. “Eat slowly.” He cautioned. “One at time.”

“It’s nuts…” Eira tugged the knot open, raising it to her face for a careful sniff. “Why? What’s wrong with them?”

“Nothing’s wrong with them, but you aren’t used to eating them. Go slowly. Logical, yes?”

“I guess.” Eira popped one rusty-brown specimen in her mouth. She tilted her head to the side, chewing slowly and deliberately, trying to place the taste. “It tastes like…twrstes wike..” Her voice garbled as she swallowed.

“Swallow.” He said, calmly, kneeling to fasten the clips on his knapsack. “And sit. The nuts double their size in your mouth. Chew slowly. We are going to have this talk.”

“I don’t wanna talk.” Eira quickly stuffed a single nut in her mouth. The kernel was small, but it was enough of an excuse for her.

“I did not ask you if you wanted to, I was directing you.” He raised two fingers. “Sit. Down.”

“I’m sitting…I’m sitting.” Eira gladly relieved her legs of the discomfort by flopping down on the grass beside him, the handful of nuts carefully spread in front of her as she rolled over on her stomach, propped up by her elbows. “Interesting nuts, what are they?”

“Interesting distraction. What is it?”

“What?”

“Ah. Good. We are returning to normal.”

“We have a normal?”

“Unsafe question. Save it for later.”

“Unsafe? That’s…weird.”

“How?”

“I don’t know…what’s not…safe, about it?”

“Do you really want to know?”

“I don’t know.” She squinted sideways to gauge his reaction. “Umm, probably not.” Chomping down on another nut, she began to count the remaining kernels.

“Shall I try the blunt approach or would you prefer a more subtle method?”

“You’re wasting your time either way, aren’t you?”

“Ah, the blunt method. I thought as much.”

“What?”

“Who or what scared you with a knife?”
“That’s really blunt.”

“And that is dodging the question.”
“I’d rather not talk about it?”

“That trick is not valid yet.”

“What?”

“That was not entirely what I meant to say, but you cannot use that card until you earn it.”

“I have to earn a card?”

“Was it a person?”

“What?”

“Was it a non-person?”

“What’s a non-person?”

“Then it was a person.”

“What?”

“Focus, Eira.”

“I am.” Eira stuffed two nuts in her mouth. “On the nuts. They taste good and they don’t give me headaches.”

There was a moment of silence, then he sighed. “Friend, foe or family?”

“What kind of a question is that?”

“Not a foe, therefore friend or family.”

“What?”

“I would think your loyalties are tied to your family, so not a friend, correct?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“A close family member or a close family friend.” He mused, twirling her knife slowly. “You know, those taste better with this.” A strip of jerky was produced from nowhere and he cut it into a pile of neat squares. Reaching over to swipe a nut, he rolled the jerky square around it, popping the treat into his mouth.

“Hey!” Eira looked from the kerchief to the jerky. “No fair!” She reached for the jerky as he speared it with the knife and kept it just out of reach. “Really not fair.”

“Friend or family?” He repeated.

“Neither! Gimme!” She made a half-hearted lunge for it, careful to keep her fingers free of the blade.

“Ask nicely.” He retorted. “So foe it is…I am still assuming family, so there is a member of your family that you intensely dislike, yes?”

“I’m asking nicely. Please?”

He handed over a jerky square. “Should I be worried?”

“What?”

“If this nameless person is a member of your family, which could be credited as being rather…clan-like, judging on your loyalty of silence, should I be worried?”

“Please?”

“What?”

“I’m asking nicely again.” Eira swallowed the salty mouthful. The jerky tasted much better than it looked and the nuts added the right amount of smoke flavor. She held out a hand. “Please?”

He handed over another square. “Was in an accident or deliberate?”

The laugh that came out was somewhat nervous in nature. “An accident of course.”

“Ah. Deliberate.” He frowned. “Close family or otherwise?”

“Please?” The hand was extended again.

“Answer first.” He held the square above her open hand.

“Maybe?”

“Maybe is more no than yes, so otherwise.” He dropped the square in her hand. “Was this nameless person happy about your…leaving?”

“What?” Eira straightened up at once, shoulders hunching forward as she resumed a cross-legged position, ignoring the sparks of pain rippling through her arms and legs. His barriers held onto their side effects.

“Yes or no.” He offered her another jerky square.

“You don’t have to worry about them.”

“Them?”

“It.”

“It?”

“Please?”

“Please for more or please don’t worry?”

Her hand extended, fingers wiggling. “More.”

The remainder of the jerky was handed over. “I think you will be fine”

“That’s great to hear.” Eira snapped, sarcastically. “Gimme.”

“Please and thank you.” He retorted, dropping the knife and the jerky onto the kerchief in front of her. “Get your things, we’ll be moving.”

“What?”

“You heard me the first time.”

“Yeah, but we’re moving?”

“I thought you were interested in an actual meal instead of a snack.”

“Oh.”

“Oh, what?”

“I didn’t realize we had to move.”

“We’ve been here for awhile, it’s good to keep moving and we’re quite a ways off course, not to mention that I don’t want to upset the usual balance with all the hunting I’ve been doing.”

“Hunting?”

“What did you think you were eating the entire month you were asleep?”

“Ah. Good point.”

“Eira?”

“I’m going, I’m going.” Shifting gingerly to her feet, Eira stuffed the rolled up kerchief in her belt and cautiously slid the knife inside the sheath buckled at her waist. She wrinkled her nose as she pushed it towards the back of her belt, as if hoping it would disappear. She’d grabbed her knapsack the same moment she heard a growl. Her head snapped up in time to see the Dark Phoenix taking a few steps backward.

Before she could speak, a scruffy-faced young man slunk into the clearing. His eyebrows were nonexistent and his skin was extremely pale as his skinny arms and legs were poking out of the holes of his torn clothing. At the sound of the growl, he froze in place, waiting.

Eira opened her mouth and a squeak escaped when she heard the growl again and realized it was coming from the Dark Phoenix himself.

“How dare you show your face here!”

The boy mumbled something, keeping his head down and long fingers constantly curling and uncurling.

“You should be crawling on your hands and knees!” The words came out with an audible hiss.

Eira inched closer, curious to see what was going on. She couldn’t place the skinny fellow at all and as far as she could tell, couldn’t understand what had the Dark Phoenix flip-flopping personalities so suddenly.

“Apprentice, stay!” He snapped the order over one shoulder.

Eira immediately froze in her tracks, swallowing the protest at once. She did not want to be on the other side of this temper.

“Haven’t you caused enough trouble? What is it you need now?”

The boy mumbled something else and then punctuated it with a shrug. His head rolled upwards and the roving dark eyes raked over the form standing just behind the Dark Phoenix. The thin lips curved into a twisted smile. “It was all a misunderstanding-”

“You wish!” The roar that left his lips was accented by a rumble deep within the ground. “You wretched excuse of a titan! You had no right!”
©

4 comments:

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

Must you stop there? Way to build up the suspense!

Sara Harricharan @ Fiction Fusion said...

LOL, sorry--I couldn't resist, but don't worry, Friday's almost here. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading. ^_^

J.H. said...

***Part 21-25 Comments***

__True to my word, finally, here are collected comments over “The Hunt for The Dark Phoenix” five installments at a time. Have I really been reading this over a year now? Have I really not written and posted a serial novel myself, so you can see that I’m not all critic? I do enjoy reading you, Sara Harrie. You’re famous, but not too famous and that makes you seem approachable. You said you have a thick skin concerning criticism, I pray it’s getting thicker and that you’re learning to write better. I think I’ve laid a good foundation from the first twenty reviews on this story’s specific strengths and weaknesses, so from here on I intend to give mostly broad comments. Ok, let’s do this.

- These five parts saw some very formulaic and flat characterizations. One would think that if two people were deserted together for weeks on end they would begin to care deeply for each other, not so much the D.Phe. and Eira. I like that I can expect to laugh at the way these two interact, but now it’s just stale—long past:
“Are you done yet?”
“No.”
“How much longer?”
“A little longer.”
"How long is that?"
"Longer than just plain long." His mouth twitched. (Part 23)

The exchanges are simple, witty, and I thought this one was particularly clever, yet they’re too easy; it’s like you depend on them to help meet your site views for the week. Not to mention they got distastefully in the way of Eira and the D.Phe’s staid dialogue about knives and death. Put another way: easy imitation. On one hand it’s flattering, if this series were a movie the trailers would be catchy; but on the other, there’d be the “unevenly matched couple” serials popping up everywhere online, like those of vampires. How are these any different from those, they'll say? Well a girl named Sara without an ‘h’ wrote this one! Heh-heh. Balance.

+ I’ve told you before, I spend far too much energy criticizing and barely any complimenting your writing...as is the case today. I feel this next compliment is somewhat shallow; please forgive me. Sometimes it’s hard to look for nice things to say!

“...he finally closed his eyes and let his energies connect…” (part 21)

“ “We’ll do an Energy Relocation first. I know I said we’d start with the Privacy Orb, but I think the relocation will suit you better in this particular moment.” (part 22)

“He frowned, taking her hand again and working the points along her wrist and finger joints. “You have a very strange way of orienting your energy…” “ (part 23)

“…effectively wreaking havoc with the strands of life-energy interwoven with her powers.” (part 24)

Energy. It’s not been hard to follow your concept of it, and yet there is still a sense of enchantment to the way these characters are described relating to these powers. I’ve never experienced “healing energy” or an “energy relocation”, but the characters know what it is, and when they demonstrate it the narrator fills in the missing knowledge. You’re mindful of this and your mindfulness comes across well on the page. This is how it should be in stories where characters have supernatural abilities that are apart of the culture of their world--Star Wars, Myst, X-men. I am curious now, what story/ies informed this one? Last year, February, you mentioned the D.Phe. was a spinoff character of a role-playing game. Which role-playing game? Promise I won’t laugh.

? This question is more for you, Harrie. You’ve said you enjoy my detailed feedback and I’m glad to give it, of course, but am I responding to aspects of your writing that matter to YOU? I suppose the reason one critiques anything is because he/she wants it to meet some acceptable standard, in this case, mass print. If you have no interest in mass printing, or edited publication in any medium, then my comments are too intense for your purposes. True? False?

Sara Harricharan said...

Hi again, J.H.! I figure if I don't just try to reply to at least one of your comments, the semester will start up again and I'll never quite grab the time for all four of them. :) So here goes!



I hardly doubt that I'm famous in any way, but thank you very much! That's a first for me. ^_^

Hmmm--good point in the exchanges between DP and Eira. I hadn't thought of it like that, but in writing each week, Dialogue was one way to get my fingers moving on the keyboard. I just had to think of something they would say and take it running from there. It was originally intended to be episodic (similar to the Disperse mini-serial I attempted this summer) and that was to be one point of it. Of course, it can be a headache--and considering where these two characters ended up, I know a considerable amount of time/space was wasted in the early chapters, most of the conversations were filler, etc.

I'm glad the concept of energy makes sense. That is one thing I try to present as naturally as possible in my fantasy worlds. I don't want it to be such a confusing read that only folks who are dedicated readers of fantasy can enjoy it. Glad to know I'm succeeding in making it believable and understandable.

Ah, the game that inspired DP? I'll have to track down my own comment and see if I can remember. LOL. It's been quite awhile and I haven't touched his character in so long--if I remember, I'll let you know! ^_^

Your comments have been extremely helpful--I do intend to seek print publication in the near future and your comments are more than helpful in shaping up this story--thank you very much for taking the time to do this. I appreciate all the detail and effort you put into it! ^_^