Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Bad Luck Girl (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by the talented Catrina Bradley over @ her blog, Scattered Seeds. Click here to read and join in the fun!

Author's Ramblings: I've had this idea knocking around in my head for a while and I've made myself take some time off this weekend to write a new short piece, as I've been literally itching to put my fingers on a keyboard and let them have at it. This one is titled, The Bad-Luck Girl and is a contemporary fantasy snippet with a young girl named Princess, who literally has the power of bad luck. Really bad luck. To negate it--well, just read on and let me know how you like it. Cheers!




SHORT STORY : CONTEMPORARY FANTASY 


The old Thief slunk along the edge of the town, inching towards where he could use the shadows for protection on his way to the shadowed forest.  It didn't take him very long to make his way through the gnarly, low hanging branches and around the blood bushes, happy little shrubs with sharp bloodsucking points. He found the makeshift camp in tatters and the little imp in question wallowing in a newly created mud hole.

Her angelic face was faintly remorseful as she rolled to her feet covered in mud. "Sorry, Jeji." She chirped. "I was bored. Did you bring food?"

The old thief smiled. "I sure did, princess." he began to empty his coat pockets and from beneath the entire bundle of respectable rags, he drew out food and trinkets to occupy the little girl.

"Was it hard?" She asked, reaching for one of the rolls and grabbing the edge of the napkin instead. She gave it a yank and caught two in her thin arms before the rest tumbled to the ground.

Jeji moved quickly and caught nearly all of them, except for one. It landed on the muddy ground and both man and child stared at the last roll.

"It’s okay." The girl consoled. She peered up to see his grizzled face. “Really.”

"I know." He picked the roll up, and carefully set it aside. "You can feed the birds later, if you want. We shouldn’t waste."

“I know.”  She clapped her hands together. “I like feeding the birds though. They get hungry too!” 

“Everything gets hungry now and again.” He said, softly. “Eat up now, little one.”

“Princess.” She corrected. She took a large chomp out of the fresh roll in one hand and a small nibble out of the other one. “My name is Princess.”

“And that’s ‘cause you’re a princess.” He tweaked her nose. “Eat up. Chew it good.”

They ate together in silence.

"Are we going to move again today?" Princess licked her fingers. She frowned. “Jeji.”
He handed her a sugar roll. “Don’t make a mess.”
She ate it and licked her fingers again. This time, she smiled afterward. “So we going to move?”

"Maybe." He allowed.

"Really?"

"Yes, really." He smiled at her again. "Would you like to go for a walk?"

She returned the smile, slipping her little white hand in his big, tanned one. "Yes, please. Let's."

So they went for a walk.

They walked through the forest for several miles. The air grew hot and humid and a light mist began to filter down through the shelter of trees. They walked on until the lights began to show brighter and the rain stopped.

There were several stops.

When they decided to take a breather, Princess had accumulated several cuts, scrapes and they’d barely managed to keep what few belongings they had.

“We’d better stop.” The thief said, at last. He’d taken two steps forward and she’d tumbled face-first to the ground with a wail. “Shhh, hush now.” His rough voice gentled as he gathered her into his arms and rocked the dirt-streaked bundle in soothing motions. When she quieted, he set her on her feet and brushed twigs and leaves from her crop of golden curls.

“My feet hurt, Jeji.” Princess yawned. She leaned against him as he carded his fingers through her tangled hair. “Are we there yet?”

“Not sure.” He tugged at one snarl.

“Owie!” She leaned away from the helpful hands. “You can port from anywhere with a six-foot-clearing of-”

Something cracked and snapped in the distance.

She froze.

He swung her up in his arms and began to back towards the direction they’d been headed.

“Jeji?” She whispered. Her arms slipped around his neck and locked tight.

“It’ll be alright.” He muttered. His grip tightened on the small body. “You trust me, you hear, Princess? Let me handle this.”

She sniffled.

“I mean it, little one.”

She whimpered.

Something crashed—a little closer to the duo.

“Brace yourself.” He murmured.

They came.

As if melting down from the leaves in the trees, they all came. Armed and silent, they took up positions, circling the wary duo. “Just give us the girl, old man, and you can live!” One masked man spoke up. “Give her to us—NOW!”

“She’s not property and she doesn’t belong to you.”

“She’s not yours!” A slender woman spoke up. She spun a curved blade around her wrist. “She’s a menace!”

“She doesn’t do any harm.”

“She does more harm than good!”

“So you would kill her over this?” The thief snarled. “I’ve kept her out of your way! I’ve kept her away from everything and everyone.”

“Ah, so you consider your life forfeit?” The masked fellow reached up and ripped off the mask. His face was a pale shade of grey, with his eyes mere slits. “You think we’re doing this for-”

“Lieutenant, sir!” The woman stepped forward. “We’re running out of time, we-”

“Take them!” He roared.

The soldiers surged forward.

The old thief closed his eyes and reached into his back pocket. Princess wriggled faintly in his arms and knocked the teleportation rod to the ground. For a moment, he froze. She squirmed. “Sowwy!”

“Hold on.” He swung her around to his back and whipped out a small brown square. “Stay back!” He warned. He braced himself as Princess threaded her skinny legs around his waist and loosened the hold on his neck, so as not to strangle him. The square in his hand glowed and then expanded to be a thin, flexible rod of nearly six feet.

He hefted it expertly in one hand as he shifted his weight to brace himself.

The fight exploded.

It was hardly fair with the sheer numbers present.

But the old thief held his own for several minutes. He protected the little girl hanging on behind him and fought with a viciousness that didn’t seem possible, given his aging visage.

And then it happened.

The lady soldier managed a lucky blow to his head.

He crumpled to the ground with a soundless cry.

Princess scrambled off the fallen body, staring down at it in horror.

“Get her!”

“Throw the bindings, now!”

“Hurry, don’t let her get away!”

“Activate the immobilizing-”

Cries filled the air of the Shadowed Forest.

They threw nets and cast a circle of immobilization—a energy field isolating certain strains of supernatural talent in a single individual. The bright blue circle flared to life on the forest floor and bands of blue appeared on the little girl’s hands and ankles. She tore at the lines of light, frantically. Her head snapped up in time to see the net that sent her crashing to the ground.

A long stick with a glowing red end reached towards her. She struggled to wriggle away from it until they reached for the old man. Her blue eyes grew wide and round. “No.” She said, softly. “No-no. Don’t do that.”

“Hurry! I wanted her sedated and sealed five minutes ago!” The lieutenant barked. “And get that wretched excuse of a Suridahn wannabe warrior away from her!”

The sedative drew closer and Princess ignored it. She was transfixed by the soldiers rushing forward to drag away the fallen body of her protector.

Her eyes flickered from blue to black. Her little hands clenched into fists. “Let him go!”

The net that held her down dissolved to dust.

Princess shot to her feet with a magnificent scowl painted on her face. “I think,” she began, in a very small voice. “Your luck just ran out.”

“Get her!” The lieutenant screamed.

The ground rumbled and shook.

The soldiers began to lose their footing. 

She stood there, calmly.

Large cracks began to appear as the ground fell away to gaping holes and darkened depths.

Then the screams began. Yells and shouts and frantic calls as the very earth crumbled out from beneath their feet. There was no one to help them. They could not help each other.

Amidst the confusion, the thief’s body was somehow returned to her side. Princess simply stared out at them all.

The lieutenant had turned the immobilization circle on himself—with an adjustment to keep the ground beneath him stabilized.

Her blue-black eyes narrowed to little points. “I said.” She wrinkled her nose. “Your luck just ran out.”

The circle sputtered and died. The ground fell out from under him.

He didn’t yell.

She didn’t care.

When every figure was gone, then she looked down at the prone body beside her. “Jeji?” Her eyes flickered back to their normal blue hue. She dropped to her knees beside him and waited.

Nothing happened.

She bit her lip for a moment and then scrambled up to her feet and slowly backed away. Her body trembled quite visibly as she backed away and then she turned her back. From there, she closed her eyes and furrowed her brow.

The cracks in the ground repaired. The jagged, muddy crevices sealing up as if they’d never existed, the Shadowed Forest returned to its original glory.

Silence drabbled along.

A long moment later, a rasping cough filled the air.  

Princess whirled around and launched herself towards the twitching figure.

The old thief heaved himself up from the ground with short, awkward twitches. His eyes flew open at the approaching figure and he opened his mouth to speak. “Princess, be careful when you-!”

Their eyes met.

His breath caught.

Her smiled trembled as she looked at him and deliberately tripped.

He surged up from the ground and threw himself forward.

They landed in a tangled, awkward pile.

She giggled.

He breathed a sigh of relief. “That was unnecessary, little one.”

She thumped her heels against his side and then let him sit them both up. “No it wasn’t.”

“Princess.”

“It wasn’t.” She repeated, stubbornly. “You almost died, Jeji.”

“But I’m alive.”

“You almost died!”

He kissed the top of her head. “I know you’d never let that happen.”

She snorted.

“Don’t do that again.”

“I knew you’d catch me.”

“And if I didn’t? You could get hurt and-”

“I knew you would.”

He didn’t say anything for a long while.

They sat together until the night began to creep in.

He rose from the forest floor and hefted her up in his arms. “Let’s go.”

“Where we going?”

“Where are we going.” He corrected, automatically. “We’re going to find a camp.”

“A real one?”

“No, our own one.” He chuckled. “I think you’ve had enough excitement for today.”

She yawned. “Maybe.”

“There’s no maybe there, Princess.”

“I guess.” She settled her head on his shoulder. “Jeji, don’t die again, okay?”

His footsteps faltered and his grip tightened on the precious armful.

“Okay, Jeji?”

“…okay.”

© Sara Harricharan

A/N: And if you didn't catch it, by deliberately "jinxing" herself, little things like tripping, falling, etc, Princess keeps the bad luck away--if she creates it, it doesn't affect her. However, Jeji is special to her, so she has to be creative in keeping him safe. Thanks for reading and do leave a comment, if you can~! ^_^ Happy weekend.

2 comments:

Catrina Bradley... said...

I love Princess! She remind me of me as a girl (minus the special powers of course.) I've always been clumsy - my mom use to say, "We should have named you Grace." :) Good story!

Rita Garcia said...

Oh, Sara, I always love reading your wonderfully creative stories! Have a great weekend! Hugs!!