A/N: I am expanding my Flash Fiction bit of "hood" with Derek and Shamaya, for a dear friend and fellow writer, Kristina Rohder. This one's for you, dear! Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend!
Flash Fiction Prompt comes first, new addition begin at the little fancy page break. ^_^
He hurriedly yanked the hood over his head as he ducked out from the shadows and darted across the half-light street. The cobblestones sounded hollowly beneath his feet and Derek sucked in mouthfuls of icy cold air as he dodged through the bowels of the city, clinging to the shadows and breathing in the night.
“Derek?” Shamaya’s whisper wafted through the air. “We’re over here.”
He turned towards the hiss of her voice and followed it along the wind and through the shadows to materialize beside her. “Sham.” He murmured, reaching for her.
She danced lightly out of reach. “Ah, ah. Not yet. You’ve got too many shadows around you.” She gestured to his front. “I said to collect them not play with them.”
He stared down in confusion and then realized that nearly his entire figure had been swallowed whole by the thin, wispy strips of blackness clinging to him. He snickered. “I was trying not to be seen.”
“It worked.” His girlfriend threw her messy braid of hair over one bony shoulder. “Did you pick anything up while scouting?”
“Plenty.” He began to peel the shadows off of him and toss them to the corners of the old warehouse where they could be happy and keep them safe for the time being. “There’s a new watch on tonight and they’ve added to the guard.”
“Added, again?” Shamaya bit her lip. “Heaven help us.” She murmured, tracing a cross in the air before her. “How will we get the converts out of the city?”
“The same way we got in.” Derek said, stoutly. “The shadows.” He pulled the hood off his head and Shamaya gasped.
“That–that!” She sputtered.
He smiled, serenely. “That wasn’t a hoodie after all.”
Shamaya threaded her way through the shivering groups, huddled close to their respective heating stones. She checked the remaining energy in each of the solar-powered heaters and frowned at the returned readings. It would be very cold in the caves tonight.
She frowned. “Derek?”
He was hunched over at the desk, a wide blueprint of the city spread out on the desk before him. His head turned sideways to look at her. “Hmm?”
“It’s going to be cold.” She set the reader down on the table before him. “Too cold.”
His face paled. “Sham, we can’t move them tonight!”
“We don’t have a choice.” She jerked a thumb over one shoulder, pointing at the little families and odd strangers that made up their group of forbidden converts. “I can only keep the ice at bay for so long anyway.” She shivered.
Concern stole over his features at once. “Are you drinking enough fluids?” He reached for her, wrapping her up in a warm hug. “You’re freezing, Sham!” He hugged her tighter. “You shouldn’t be this cold.”
She gave a weak laugh, muffling the sound in his neck. “Yeah, yeah, tell me what I don’t know, why dontcha?”
He sighed. “Tonight then. Who am I to argue?”
She chuckled. “Just another stubborn-headed individual in need of a reminder.” She gently untangled herself from the warm embrace. “I’ll keep ‘em off you so you can get a few details hammered out, okay?”
He managed to chuckle along with her. “We live and learn.” He agreed. “I am not blind.” He hesitated. “Warn them, okay?”
“You’re growing soft on me.” She poked his side with one cold finger.
He winced. “Ow. No, I’m not.”
“Says the man who just said ‘ow’ to a poke in the-”
He wiggled his fingers threateningly and she instantly dodged away with a light squeal. “No way! I am not—don’t you even think of that!” She laughed as she backtracked from the tickling hands and returned to their now curious group.
There were two small families, a middle-aged couple and a single child, a newly wed couple and three orphaned children to make up the group of normal, as far as Shamaya was concerned. The rest was a bit much for even her to take in. They had a down on his luck musician from a famed Quilted university, his violin had turned to a fiddle and the cheery notes he could play with his aching hands always brought a smile. A giant of a mechanic with a knack for welding metal together by glaring at it. A self-proclaimed horrible cook with a knack for throwing knives and a one-eyed man with three fingers on his left hand.
Yes, definitely an odd group.
Shamaya cleared her throat, drawing their attention. Why they’d decided to follow her and Derek, she didn’t know, but it was a responsibility she intended to take as seriously as possible. “Derek says we can move out tonight.” She waited a moment for the news to sink in.
“This night? Right now?”
“But we’re not ready!”
“Are we leaving for good?”
The voices clamored and Shamaya quickly held up her heads. “Whoa, there! Give me a minute folks, I just said that we had to move tonight, I didn’t say anything else beyond that.”
“Why tonight?” The three-fingered man, Nathan, wanted to know. “Moon’s clear out bright. It’s a bad light to be walking in.”
“He’s got a plan, we just have to follow through with it.” Shamaya frowned. “as for why tonight, it’s pretty cold, isn’t it?”
Six-year-old Christa nodded her little head in agreement from the warm cocoon snuggled between her two parents. “Real cold.” She whispered.
“The caves are icing over.” Shamaya hesitated. “I can’t hold it back forever.”
That was the trick phrase. At once they were all talking again and some were even apolgoizng
for forgetting of her condition and how it must pain and trouble her greatly. The brunette barely managed to take it all in stride before she made it back to Derek’s planning table.
“How’d it go?”
“The usual, they wouldn’t budge until I told them what was really up.”
“Nice of them to pry it out of you.”
“Nathan doesn’t pry.”
“Of course not, he just gives you that look that makes you wish you were dead instead of alive and then you instantly tell him whatever it is he wants to know in hopes that he won’t eat you alive.”
“Got it in one, proud of you, love.” She reached for the paperweight on one edge of the blueprint scrolls. “Think of something yet?”
“Of course.” Derek scowled.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Danger is my middle name.”
“The kind of danger that six-year-old girls shouldn’t hear about.” He hissed. “Look, we’re going to have to travel by land for a while, no sea crossings, right?” She nodded, slowly. “So they won’t be looking for us right away, but I want to try something about hiding in plain sight.”
“What kind of thing?” Shamaya asked, nervously.
“This kind.” He shimmered in front of her and disappeared.
“Right here.” He spoke from right beside her.
She jumped and promptly elbowed him in the stomach. “Hey! You could at least warn a girl before you do something spectacular like that.”
He grinned. “Thought you might like it.”
“I love it.” She beamed. “Er, what is it?”
He chuckled. “I finally found a way for the shadows to take more than one person and from a person that isn’t related to them in any other way.”
“Praise the Lord.” She murmured, fervently. “Can I help?”
“Snacks.” He rubbed his stomach. “I’m going to need a lot of snacks.”
The plan was simple and brilliant in itself.
Derek simply ‘helped’ someone into a shadow and then walked them out and away from danger. He’d return them to their original forms when they were safely away. They’d have to all be shadows for a little while.
Shadows to the same ugly city guard that had first claimed them as criminals.
Derek gave them all a choice.
Others worried about the long-term effects.
It was trickier than Derek had planned for, but it looked like they would make it. It was simply taking more time than they had and more patience that he could spare.
The young father and one-eyed Nathan were the last ones to climb the snowy hill away from the cursed city. Shamaya stood beside Derek, rubbing her arms through the thin sleeves of her blouse. “We did it.”
“No, God did.” Derek corrected, gently. “Nothing I could’ve dreamed up would’ve ever been this perfect.” He hugged her in congratulations. “Now, would you quit with the shivering already and do something?”
She rolled her eyes at him, but then turned back to the city. The soft blue eyes grew white-grey and hard as marble and then the snow began to fall as her shivering stopped and she released her hold on the cold elements.
“Wash me white as snow…” He began to sing.
The city crusted over with ice and began to crumble as the rag-tag bunch turned away towards the tall, snowy forest looming ahead.
They picked up on the hymn, one by one, singing.
The voice floated through the air and warmed their souls for the trials ahead.
© Sara Harricharan