Friday, May 27, 2011

Disperse (Friday Fiction) [Part 2]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Julie Arduini @ her blog, the Surrendered Scribe. Click here to read and share more great fiction. 
 
Author's Ramblings: Hey everyone! I have a major headache at the moment, apologies for such a short installment, I'm really kind of in dizzyland right now. Anyway, there's a bunch of mystery around Ebony and her wonderful life, so there's a lot of details that are left out--on purpose. I'll get to that soon enough, it wouldn't be fun if I told you everything right away, now would it? Anyway, have a happy holiday weekend and enjoy the read. Thanks for stopping by! ^_^ 


The general grogginess associated with waking from a forced slumber didn’t apply to Ebony who simply jerked out of her sleep and sat bolt upright in bed. For a moment, she remained motionless, taking in the surroundings of the cheap hotel and the other two occupants in the room. A man in white and the odd lady with the long blonde hair. 

For a moment, they all stared at each other.

Then, in the same movement that she’d risen, Ebony flopped backwards on the bed with an audible grunt. After a few seconds, she turned to her left, her back to the two men, pulling the sheets over her head and promptly going back to sleep.

“She’s awake.”

“So I see.”

“And…?”

“Shut up.”

“I didn’t say anything.”

"Don't say anything." 
The man in white rose from the cramped desk in the corner, taking three steps to close the gap to the creaky hotel bed. His gaze methodically swept over the white-blanketed and sheeted bundle occupying the bed, pale golden eyes narrowing to half-points. Catching the end of the sheet with one gloved hand, he yanked it backwards, ignoring the indignant squeak from the figure beneath it. “Give it back.”

One eye opened, holding his stare for a long, tense moment. Then she yawned and burrowed her face into the pillow under her head, scrunching up into a ball. “…stupid dream.”

There was a quiet chuckle from the desk.

“Brin-!” The man growled.

The laugh stopped, abruptly. “Could be a side effect.” The figure moved to join him at the bed. “Excuse me, miss.”

“You’re excused.” Ebony mumbled. “Whatever it is you want, it can wait. I’m tired.” Another yawn snuck out and one eye opened again. It stared for a moment, then in the same surprising movements as before Ebony jerked upright. “You’re a guy!” She sputtered, pointing. “Your hair is all wrong.”

The men exchanged a glance, then a faint smile appeared on the blond fellow. “Ah, right. Yes I am and you are not dreaming.” He tilted his head forward. “You have something of ours, may we have it back?”

“What, no please?” There was a loud sigh and Ebony scrubbed the sleep from her face with one sleeved arm. “Ow. Sure feels like a dream.”

“You are very much awake, now, if you would, please?”

“Fine. I’m up, I’m up…I think. What is it and who on earth are you?”

A choked sound came from the fellow in white. The ponytailed man frowned. “I don’t know you and you don’t know me, so we can leave it at that. As for what it is, you have an information cube—and you can give it up of your own accord or we can-”

The phone on the nightstand rang loudly. The man in white moved to answer it, the conversation held in terse whispers, ending with the receiver slammed down and the scowl on his face more pronounced than before. “Brin, they’re on their way. We don’t have time for this. Get it from her and let’s get out of here. It’s in her stomach. I can see it. I don’t need this. I need more time.”

“As your royal highness wishes.” Brin rolled his eyes. “Miss, I’m afraid I’m going to-”

“What’s an information cube?”

The man in white kicked the desk. Brin’s surprise showed plainly in the expression of utter disbelief on his pale, thin face. “Ah, right.” He frowned. “You’re strangely calm about this.”

Ebony shrugged. “Happens all the time.”

“Really? Getting picked up off the street and waking up in hotel rooms with perfect strangers?”

“Don’t judge me.” She wrinkled her nose. “I’m not that kind of girl, I just meant that stuff always happens to me.” She shrugged. “It gets kind of pointless to be all excited and hyper about it when it’s the same boring thing that keeps happening.”

Brin rubbed his forehead, muttered beneath his breath for a moment. “Fine. Alright then, it’s a clear cube about so-” holding up his hand, he pantomimed the size “and it’s probably got some colors on it, right El?”

There was an answering grunt.

Ebony shifted to sit cross-legged, her lips pursed in a pout. “Nope.”

“It’s in your stomach.” The man in white glared at her, his laptop and other equipment half-packed away. “I can see it.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah right, you have what, X-ray vision?”

“So what?”
She swallowed hard. “O-kay. Um, still no?”

“I don’t think you quite understand the situation.” The man straightened. “Brin, you have five minutes and then I’ll do this myself—my way!”

Brin winced. “Sure.” He sighed. “We need that cube. No isn’t going to cut it.”

Ebony shrugged. “Still no. Sorry…wait, you mean a little thing that looks like ice, it’s really itty bitty and it was like red and pink and yellow and stuff?”

“Yes.”

“Oh. That. I ate it.”

The man in white stood in front of her, deliberately cracking his knuckles. “I know. Cough it up.”

She leaned away from the menacing figure. “Nope.” Her hands were held out in apology. “Sorry, even if I could—and I can’t—I wouldn’t be able to just do that. I mean, come on, cut me some slack.”

“I’d be happy to do the cutting and-”

“Othello.” Brin said, sharply. “Scaring her won’t help-”

“Does she look scared to you?”

“I’m not scared.”

Silence decorated the hotel room.

The trio was speechless.

“Sorry. I didn’t know it was like, important and everything. I just thought it was…you know, like one of those confidence candies.”

“What?” Othello nearly snarled.

Ebony shied away, her hands still held up before her. “You know, confidence candy. Double C’s, The Kleer Stuff…you don’t know what it is.” She sighed. “That is so like a guy. Look, it’s a girl thing. All the girls eat it, well, all the rich girls anyway, you have to be rich to get your hands on it. It’s kind of like that cube thingy of yours, it looks like white jelly and it’s got like, fruit in the middle and stuff. If you eat a whole bag, they said that you’d be able to stand up for yourself.” Her head hung lower. “It’s like, super-expensive though, so-” she shrugged “I figured that maybe someone left it there. I mean, I didn’t realize it was something else until I swallowed it, because I don’t usually chew stuff.” She wrinkled her nose. “I’m always letting people walk all over and if I had just a bit more confidence, I could be more aggressive and-”

The men were no longer paying attention to her, instead, they were back by the window again, talking to each other in hushed whispers.

“Hey, are you listening? I’m saying something important here-!”

“Right, do that.” Othello nodded, turning away and scooping up the last chunk of cords and stuffing them into his black duffel bag.

“Do what? Where are you going?”

“Ah. He just doesn’t like to see this part.” Brin smiled, politely. Slender, pale fingers curved around a beautiful, white teapot, pouring a steaming cup of liquid from the angled spout. “Tea?”
  
“What part?” She sniffed it. “You’re not trying to poison me or something, are you?”

“And if I was?”

“I wouldn’t have a clue.” She said, cheerily. “So it doesn’t matter!” The contents were downed in a few large swallows. She grimaced. “Lukewarm.”

“Sorry, this room doesn’t come with a  kitchenette.”

“Why are you apologizing?”

“Because it’s the polite thing to do.”

“Huh?”

“Trash can.” He tugged out the plastic trash can from beneath the desk and scooted it over in front of her at the edge of the bed. “Here you go.”

“I’m missing something there.” She said, flatly. “What exactly are you trying to tell me?”

“One, two and three.”

“Huh—oh, urgh…ohh bleck.” With that twisted exclamation, Ebony promptly threw up into the trash can—or rather, tried to. There wasn’t much of anything to come out at all. She half-stood, half-crouched over the can, her sides heaving and her stomach trying to expel itself from her innards. “I hate you.”

“I’m sure the feeling is entirely mutual.” He smiled, but the expression seemed unnatural on his thin face. “How did you do that?”

“Do what?” She glared at him, wiping her mouth with the edge of the bedsheet. Her face twisted into a grimace again as her stomach heaved once more. “Did I mention that I really, really hate you?”

© Sara Harricharan

Friday, May 20, 2011

Disperse : NEW SERIAL (Friday Fiction [part 1])

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by the talented Karlene Jacobsen @ her blog, Dancin' in the rain. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: I'm late. *eyeroll* Well, obviously today has been a bit more hectic than others and I've taken my time on working out today's Friday fiction. I thought I'd delay the debut of this new serial a bit longer, but that seems to have me constantly rewriting the opening scene, so I'm just going to post it and quit harping over it. LOL. Since summer is here and I have the time at the moment, I've decided to start a new serial, featuring a traveling trio. I haven't finished the actual summary/character shorts yet, so those might come either later this weekend or next Friday. For today, please read, comment and enjoy! Thanks a bunch. ^_^

Ebony threaded her way through the crowded club, dodging dancing strangers and ducking behind couples as she made her way to the counter. The bearded bartender gave her a look, but didn’t stop in his counter wiping, instead, pushing a stack of wooden tiles towards her. She forced a smile, taking the stack as she climbed onto an empty stool, thumbing quickly through the tiles. There were various symbols carved onto the front of each wooden tile and she finally handed the stack back, with a blank tile on the top instead of the snapshot of mountain scenery.
His eyebrows waggled upwards, but he reached under the counter and pulled out a glass mug, shoveling in some ice and reaching for the taps. His hands twitched faintly over a few heads, before he turned around and moved to the fridge. A pitcher of cream was found, and he filled the glass halfway, adding a touch of club soda and then chocolate syrup. A few seconds later, he handed over the finished concoction and the teenaged girl took it with a grateful smile.

“Thank you.” The words were whispered as Ebony wrapped her hands around the newly warmed mug and lifted it to her lips. As her mouth filled with the warm, fizzy, sweetness, she cast a careful glance at the other patrons sharing the counter with her. Careful to keep her gaze shaded beneath the newsboy cap, she sipped the drink carefully.

There were a handful of others, most of them fairly ordinary in either party getup or a business suit and tie. She quickly filed them away in her mind for later thought along the lines of college students and frazzled career men. Fiddling with the glass handle, she turned the mug in circles.

Something about the very ordinary atmosphere of the club was rubbing her the wrong way. There was the classic round of pounding music, flashing lights, quiet coves and drunk customers. It wasn’t the kind of place she wanted to be, but it was a place where a free meal could be found in a pinch.

As if on cue, a thick turkey sandwich was slid in front of her on a small, white ceramic plate. Two party toothpicks held the halves together and a small glass of milk accompanied it. Ebony snuck an upward glance from beneath the hat’s brim. The bartender calmly wiped the counter, occasionally slopping a few soapy suds with a rumpled sponge.

Her smile was hidden in the first bite and the rest of the sandwich disappeared in a matter of minutes. Wiping her mouth on the paper napkin, Ebony settled on the task of quietly slurping her milk through a straw. Her uneasy gaze swept the counter occupants again, this time, settling on two mismatched figures. 

A lovely, thin-faced young woman, traced circles around a ceramic mug, occasionally nudging the fellow beside her with one foot and readjusting her long, blonde ponytail, tied together with a fancy blue-silver ribbon. The man didn’t seem to be paying any attention to her, pausing once in the business on his laptop to adjust his long white coat and matching beret. 
Ebony slurped softly, her brow furrowed in thought. She couldn’t put her finger on why it didn’t match, but she didn’t think that it was that cold out either. Her hands reached for her original drink, rewarmed in the time she’d been sipping the milk. Finishing the milk, she pushed the empty mug away, curling her fingers around the rewarmed chocolate concoction.

Her mind was still buzzing in a way that meant the food and drink was helping—just not fast enough.
The restless swirl of unease in her stomach came out in the form of the wary gaze beginning to settle into a routine sweep of the club’s occupants. It lingered a little longer on the mismatched pair and Ebony finally let herself stare at them when she simply couldn’t take it anymore.

The blonde woman was sorting through a black knapsack and the fellow in white was beginning to pack up his laptop. A tiny, clear cube fell to the floor and Ebony nearly choked on her drink. A faint flicker of red-yellow glowed from the center and the cube seemed to go unnoticed as a sudden, restless murmur spread throughout the club.

Her glass was suddenly tugged from her fingers and Ebony was jerked back to the moment at hand. She opened her mouth to protest, but the bartender gave the faintest shake of his head. That was all that she needed to slid off the stool and aim for the exit. Not daring to look back, she dodged through the throng of newly panicked dancers, angling towards the opposite end of the counter where the mismatched duo had been. 

With a clenching motion of one hand, she mentally pulled the cube from the floor and into her outstretched hand, pushing out with the crowd through the side exit door as the first screams began to fill the night air. 

A police raid… She thought, dully, tossing the cube lightly in her hand before consciously stopping the effort. It was far too valuable a thing to treat so lightly. A frown registered and after a moment’s hesitation, Ebony popped the cube in her mouth and swallowed with a grimace.
That was the safest way to handle it at the moment.

She dodged to the side, drawing lightly on her elemental gift of air to move quickly from the throng of stampeding clubbers. It hadn’t been a wasted afternoon—just an unfinished one. Jamming her hands into her jacket pocket, Ebony began the calm walk away from the scene, mentally thumbing through her next options. This was currently too small a town for her to find out anything truly useful, perhaps the next one would have better pickings.

“Just how to get there.” She mused, aloud, standing at the street corner and waiting for the crossing signal. In the distance, she could hear the sirens and the shouts, stifling a slight wince.

A blur of white caught her eye as the signal changed. The white flutter seemed to have vanished as Ebony hurried across the street, too busy walking to realize her path until she walked directly into the soft body. “Ow!” There was a muffled grunt and she peered out from beneath the hat’s brim to see the blonde lady from the mismatched couple staring sadly down at her.

“Uh, erm, I’m really sorry, I should watch where I’m going.” Ebony tried to pull away, ducking her head. There was something off about the face and the eyes and it didn’t settle right with her at all. She needed to get out of there—now!

“No, I’m sorry. I really don’t like doing this.”

“Huh?”

A soft, gloved hand clapped over her mouth and something sweet and gritty was forced inside, the fingers pinching her nose, forcing her swallow in order to breath. Sudden warmth spread through her body as her muscles began to slacken, her body growing increasingly limp.

There was no time to react to that, because a sharp pain in her neck was the last sensation that registered as the blackness claimed her.

© Sara Harricharan