The Queen

I’m going out on a huge limb here and posting a story that I probably wouldn’t have about six months ago. I’m of the opinion, though, that we don’t grow if we don’t challenge ourselves. I’ve never written anything in the fantasy genre and I’m not sure I’ve done the world justice, but at least I attempted it. You’ve gotta love challenge’s like Chuck’s this week where we had to click on a D&D character generator to get our prompt for 1,000 words of flash fiction. My randomly generated character was: “Spiteful elf bard from a cavern without echoes who has anger problems.”

I also managed to throw in Song Lyric Saturday where the lyrics were: “It’s all the same. Only the names will change” from Dead or Alive by Bon Jovi. And just to make things fun but really because I know I won’t post anything else today, this is also part of Just Jot It January. So, you have a threefer, if you will.

Special thanks to my boyfriend’s son who told me elves who live in caverns are dark elves and the elf name generator I clicked on to get some pretty cool names. The story is 977 words. Please be nice in the comments, although I always welcome feedback.

The Queen

Ingemon’s boots tapped the floor of the hallway in an echoless staccato as he made his way quickly to the queen’s chamber. Anger billowed off him in waves and the Cavrillians who happened to notice him scooted out of his way or turned in the opposite direction in order to avoid him. No one wanted to cross paths with the bard. It had led to death in the past and those remaining valued their lives enough to get out of his way.

Cavrill was an Elven town located in a cavern in the High Mountains. The cavern itself was a maze of hallways and chambers with a river that ran straight through, ending a good many miles at a lake deep in the mountain. They were secluded, isolated from the world outside and with no one to fight and nowhere left to explore, their destructive nature turned inward.

Ingemon wasn’t the first to fight for a position among the Cavrillians, but his was the bloodiest. He had taken the role of historian and story-teller from Jarl over ten years ago in a slow, destructive campaign that eventually led to Jarl’s very public death, which was attended by their queen, who cheered him on with immense pleasure. She had taught her kingdom well the best way to survive in a brutal world.

When Ingemon crossed the entrance into the queen’s chamber, the guards on either side put out a hand to stop him. One dark glance in each direction and they removed their hands slowly to let him pass. Straitening even taller than his normal six feet, he made his way to the throne where the queen sat and kneeled in front of her, bowing stiffly in deference to her position, though it cost him much to prostrate himself for anyone, including the queen.

“My Queen, I’ve heard more whisperings.”

Ingemon’s nose met her black velvet cape as it swirled around her like a serpent guarding its treasure.

“Always my faithful servant.” Her voice slid across his ears and fell flat in the echoless chamber.

“Yes, Highness.”

Girithil was a descendent of the original spider queen and her coloring reflected it. Her pale face glowed in the unnatural light, her ice-blue eyes hard and unflinching. She stood up and slowly glided around his prostrate form. Her cape slithered along the ground, her waist-length ruby red hair shimmering against it, moving with the cape as if in a dance. She reached out a velvet-gloved hand and stroked his silvery, black hair as it lay motionless around him.

“I’ve heard things, my sweet.” Her soft voice barely carried to the guards idling near the entrance.

“My Queen?” His head lifted up slightly, his eyes almost meeting hers but her hand pressed down on his head, pushing him back down.

“You know how whispering can be.”

“I do, Highness.”

She noticed his voice remained steady where others would have wavered by now.

“The whisperings are speaking your name, my pet.”

He let out a laugh that died almost as soon as it left his lips.

“Lies, my Queen. Nothing more than jealousy and spite.”

“Oh, of that I am certain. Mine were the first whispers that made their way through this cavern. But how am I to choose which are true? Have I not always acted on every one? Is that not how I’ve kept my throne?”

She watched him closely, her hand still holding his head down. He didn’t move a muscle that her eyes could see, but her hand felt the muscles in his neck tense and she knew. She was inclined to believe whispers, but it was always good to know one wasn’t wrong.

She dragged her gloved fingers through his hair before grabbing a chunk and yanking his head back. He heard the knife as she freed it from the strap on her thigh seconds before he felt the blade press on his neck.

She looked into his eyes and wasn’t surprised to see a blank expression staring back at her. He wasn’t afraid.

“You plot my death in order to take my throne?” Her dark red lips were inches from his face and her soft voice slithered across him, softly caressing his face.

“I will not deny it.” He remained still even as the blade began to bite into his skin and blood slid slowly down his neck.

“Lofty goals for a bard.” Her icy smile didn’t reach her eyes and her grip hardened in his hair, the knife biting deeper.

He didn’t respond.

“Guards.” They were by her side in seconds, taking Ingemon from her grasp, holding him steady as she slowly stood up.

Staring at the knife and the blood slowly dripping down the blade, she coldly passed sentence.

“We don’t have another historian and the stories must survive, otherwise you would be dead. Write them down and I may yet let you live.”

His eyes had darkened but his reply was soft, “Yes, your highness.”

Sneering at his words, she looked at the guards. “He doesn’t need legs to write, just make sure he survives. I didn’t forgo the pleasure of his death on my hands simply to have you kill him by accident.”

Both guards nodded their heads in acceptance of her wishes and she waved her hand in dismissal, returning to her throne with a sigh.

How she would have loved to squash his beating heart in her hands.

She couldn’t remember how many had tried to take her throne, but it didn’t matter. They were all the same to her and they had all met the same fate, all but Ingemon. She would visit him in a week to see how he progressed. She was still hopeful that his death was in her near future and she smiled almost gleefully as she stared at his blood shimmering on her knife.

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Uptown Funk

In an effort to save a file, do you ever create a title with every intention of changing it once it’s complete? Yeah, that’s what happened in this case, except when it was finally done, the title actually fit the story so I decided to keep it. The story was written in response to Song Lyric Story Saturday hosted by the lovely Naomi Harvey. This was one of my favorite prompts that I stumbled upon last year and I’m so happy she’s bringing it back.

This week the prompt was “Don’t believe me just watch” and we could either use the lyrics or reference the song. I chose to reference the song and only implied the lyrics in my story.  This is also written as part of JustJotIt January where my goal is one post a day in January. If you’re interested in joining, feel free to click the link and get started.

The story ended up a little longer than I was planning at 1465 words. Please enjoy! (Quick note… there is some language in this one, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, you know the drill.)

Uptown Funk

Alexandria looked down at her phone and sighed at the screen, the text she had just received from Elle taunting her. She decided to forgo an hour of texting and hit the phone button to call her friend.

“Xandi! You’re coming, right?” Her friend picked up on the first ring and launched into what Alexandria had hoped to avoid.

“Elle, be real. You know how I feel about clubs.”

“It’s girls night and you haven’t been out with us in ages. We’re going to a new place. I heard it’s pretty chill. Just your style.”

“A club? Chill?”

“Don’t make me come to your house and drag you out with us. You know I will…”

Elle’s voice had taken on an air of finality that made up Alexandria’s mind.

“Fine. But I so don’t have clubbing clothes.”

“Wanna come over and sift through my closet? I’m sure I could find you something.”

Alexandria pictured Elle’s tiny body and dreaded trying to find something in her friend’s wardrobe that would fit her larger frame.

“Uh, no thanks. I’ll find something. What time?”

“We’re all meeting at my place for pre-club shots around eight. Des has a limo lined up so no one has to be DD.”

“A limo? God, are you serious?

“Cool, right?”

Alexandria heard the excitement in her friend’s voice but couldn’t match it. This was so not her scene.

“Fuck,” she whispered under her breath.

“Huh? Did you say something?”

“Uh, no. Never mind. I’ll be there.” She held the phone away from her ear when Elle let out a squeal that would make a dog howl.

“Text me a pic of what you decide to wear.”

“Worried I’ll pick something embarrassing?”

“Jesus, Xandi, no! What’s wrong with you? I just want to see it before anyone else. I’m sure it will be fabulous. You always are.”

“I hate to break it to you, Elle, but you are actually the fabulous one. I only dream of exuding awesome the way you do.”

Elle’s laughter rang over the phone. “You’re so funny. See you soon, Bae.”

“Yeah.”

Alexandria hung up and let out an even bigger sigh. She put her phone on the counter and walked into her bedroom. She rummaged through her wardrobe for a few minutes, knowing that no matter how hard she looked, she would never find something fit for limos and clubs.

After what seemed like an hour of discarding one article of clothing after another, she finally settled on black skinny jeans, a black push-up bra and a slinky grey tank top that showed just enough to make it look like she actually had boobs, when in fact she was barely a C. A pair of three-inch black heels completed the outfit.

In the bathroom, she ran her hands through her shoulder-length black hair, applied more mascara and some lip gloss and called it good. As an afterthought, she added a few sprays of perfume. Looking in the mirror, she did her best to smile and look excited. It was going to be a long night.

**

She started to loosen up after a few shots at Elle’s house. Des brought a bottle of pomegranate vodka that was nasty as hell, but got the job done. They managed to finish it all in the time it took everyone to arrive and it was close to ten before all eight of them piled into the limo and headed to the club.

They definitely turned some heads and started the party when they walked in, hips swaying and heels clicking. Alexandria was coerced onto the dance floor multiple times by her friends, but otherwise spent much of the evening nursing a margarita on the rocks and watching the people in the club watch her group. The only other person who caused as much attention when he walked in was tall, dark and cliched with a fedora, leather jacket and tight black jeans. He looked like he should have come with an entourage, but was strangely alone. It didn’t take him long before he was sizing up their group and making his way over.

He immediately focused all his attention on Elle; and who could blame him? She was squeezed into a short silver dress that showed off her tan legs and fabulous boobs to perfection. She was stunning and she knew it. The other girls slowly faded back to the dance floor, but Alexandria stayed to keep an eye on her friend.

“Tell me you’re not buying this,” she said to Elle when he went to order another round.

“He’s divine!” Elle’s eyes sparkled in the way only alcohol and a man could make them.

“Seriously? He’s cliched as hell. I probably could have guessed his name was Jake before he told us.”

“Oh, it’s just a bit of fun, Xandi.”

“Just be careful, Bae. I get a weird vibe from this guy.”

Elle focused on her friend and leaned in to hug her. “You’re so sweet, but I’m fine, really.”

“Promise you’ll leave with us?”

“I promise!” Elle kissed her on the cheek just as he came back to the table.

“What did I miss?” he said with a wink at Elle and a dismissive glance at Alexandria.

Knowing when to take a hint, she left them to it and made her way to the bathroom. It was a long enough line that some of the women were going into the men’s restroom, but she decided to wait it out and by the time she made it back to their table, it was empty.

Looking around, she was able to see most of her group bouncing away on the dance floor. The only one she couldn’t see was Elle. She made her way over to Des and had to shout in her ear to be heard.

“Did you see Elle leave?”

“Nope.” Des swayed down her side and back up in rhythm to the music, not catching on to the concern she was feeling. There was just something about Jake that made her skin crawl and the thought of Elle leaving with him made her nervous.

She left Des and the others to their dancing and went back to their table to send Elle a text. She gave it ten minutes with no answer before she decided to see if she could find her. She walked around the club, looking intently at each face and each couple. She walked back to the bathroom and checked the stalls for her friend’s heels. No sign of her.

Trying not to panic, she made her way to one of the bouncers at the door. “Did you see my friend leave by any chance? Tiny silver dress. Long blonde hair?”

“Lady, do you know how many of those I’ve seen tonight?”

Rolling her eyes, she mumbled under her breath, “Thanks for nothing,” and walked out the door.

She looked up and down the street but didn’t see Elle. She couldn’t say what made her walk around the side of the building, but she followed her gut and turned the corner. It took her two seconds to take in the scene in front of her before she was running toward her friend yelling, “Hey asshole! Leave her alone!”

Jake looked up from where he had Elle trapped on the ground, crying and kicking her legs. With a smile, he stood up and tried to help Elle off the ground but she scooted back out of his way, batting at his outstretched hand.

“Get away from me, you fucking jerk!” Her voice shook and hitched as she leaned against the side of the building.

Alexandria made it to her friend’s side. “Oh my God, Elle, are you okay?”

“Hey, I didn’t do anything she wasn’t asking for.” Looking up at Jake, Alexandria didn’t even think twice before punching her hand out as hard and as fast as she could, connecting with his groin as she yelled, “Fuck you!”

He let out a whoosh of air and doubled over with a grunt.

Alexandria turned back to Elle and started to help her up. “Come on, hon. Let’s get out of here.” When she stood up, she looked over at Jake doubled over and decided it just wasn’t good enough. She kicked him as hard as she could in the face and watched as he fell to the ground. “Piece of shit!”

She looked at Elle who was still shaking, her mascara streaking down her face. “I don’t think he was expecting that.”

Elle smiled through her tears as they walked together back to the main street.

She knew it wouldn’t erase what had happened, but Alexandria was sure they both felt better knowing Jake the cliche would walk away with something besides a smirk on his face.

The Voices In Her Head

I am jumping on the band wagon of a new flash fiction challenge.  As soon as I read the stories from last week’s prompt, I knew I wanted to participate.  It’s music, after all, and if you know me, you know how much I am drawn to music.  So, the challenge was put forth by Naomi Harvey to write a piece of flash fiction up to 1500 words inspired by song lyrics.  The lyrics this week are:

I’m the voice inside your head
You refuse to hear
I’m the face that you have to face
Mirrored in your stare

I don’t normally explain much about my flash fiction, but I feel this week’s story pretty much requires it.  It started with the devastating news of Robin Williams but was firmly cemented by a close family member who is thankfully still with us.  Both brought up memories of times in my life when I’ve been in a similar dark place and while I haven’t been able to write openly about suicide and depression and the devastating impact of the thoughts we think, I was able to write some flash fiction that I hope conveys my thoughts to some degree.  While I realize it is a bit fanciful and the understanding comes quicker in the story then it does in real life, I think all who suffer from depression have a spark of hope that wars with their despair.  I only hope it wins every time, but for those who fall victim to it, I for one, don’t blame you.  I know what it’s like to stare it in the face and not see any outcome other than an end.  I’m grateful every day that I’m still here, that I’ve been able to watch my children grow.  Some days are harder than others, but I’m a living example that it can get better.

The story is a little over 1100 words.

The Voices In Her Head

“It’s time.  You know it and I know it.”  He was the cold hand of logic, all smooth, sharp angled planes.

“I know no such thing,” she answered in her usually brightly colored voice, now dragging at the edges with sadness.

“She’ll be better off.”

“And what about those she’ll leave behind?  Will they be better off?”  A single tear crept down her face, its fluorescence leaving a radiating trail behind.

“They will.  Time heals all wounds.  They will learn to adjust.  It’s better that than her constant emotional outbursts.  Do you think that’s any better for them?  You can see for yourself the damage she causes.”

“I see it, but I also know they love her.  They forgive her each and every time.”

“Do they?  Will they, when they realize the scars her toxicity has caused them?”

“She’ll find a way to do better.  She has it in her.  I can feel it.”

“How can you still have hope after so long?”  The once gossamer threads of the web he weaved began to strengthen, fusing and melding into nooks and crannies, blotting out the shining colors she was emitting.

“Hope heals.  Hope strengthens.  Hope is time and space and everything in between.”

“You are the fanciful one.”

“You can’t do this to her.”  Her bright, crisp voice came out muffled, his grey mesh clotting at sounds, twisting and turning her sideways, each color dampened by creeping darkness and fraying at the edges.

“I’m not doing anything to her.  I’m actually helping her.  She’s done it to herself, after all, and she just isn’t strong enough to take any more.  She’s in so much pain.  Can’t you see that?  How can you stand by and let her continue in so much pain?  What she needs is peace, rest.  Things will be better for everyone once it’s done.  You’ll see.”

“I can’t let you do this.  I won’t just stand by and let it happen.”

“Do what you must, but realize, I will do what I must.  We will see whose voice is loudest, in the end.”

Silvery threads danced and tangled with yellow-orange hues as if the sun and moon had met at dusk, a brilliant tango filled with alternating bright light and dark shadows; a prism of colors slowly fading as the moon in all its glory tried to outshine the sun.

**

Gray-strangled colors danced around her as she poured a bottle of pills into one hand and picked up an almost empty bottle of whiskey with the other.  She was blinded by the tears welling in her eyes and seeping down her face to land unchecked where they fell.  She hesitated in the last second and a tiny light spilled through the almost impenetrable darkness.  Shaking, her hand tilted slightly sideways on its way to her mouth, depositing some of its contents onto the ground.  The rest made their way into her mouth and down her throat, sizzling and burning with the whiskey that followed.

She was shaking even harder once it was done and panic started to settle in.  What have I done?

His words echoed in her head.

It’s better this way.  It will be over soon and everyone will be better off, happier without you.

She took the comforting words and wrapped them around her, a steel gray blanket of smooth ice; lies and half-truths wrapped up in self-doubt and self-loathing.

She made her way slowly to the couch, the room growing fuzzy around the edges.  As she sat there slowly fading, noises erupted around her and flashing lights burst in staccato beats across her eyes.  She couldn’t grasp it, couldn’t hold onto it, confusion and doubt warring with oblivion.  Soon, peace overwhelmed her and she let the cold, comforting hand of darkness consume her.

**

She was openly crying now, silky tear drops pooling in bright colors all around them.  “She dropped enough on the ground, didn’t she?  She’ll be okay, won’t she?”

“There was enough in her hand to do the trick and the whiskey will only add to the maelstrom.”  He was ice cold composure, steel gray and hard.

“But, they found her and the ambulance arrived quickly.  They should be able to pump her stomach, get out whatever didn’t seep into her blood stream.”

He raised an eyebrow at her illogical reasoning.  “You think you’ve helped her, but you haven’t.  If she wakes up from this, she’ll be left with the shame of trying.  That will only add to her burden and she’ll end up right back where she started.  You should have left well enough alone.”

“I am what I am.  It isn’t in my nature to sit back and let despair take over.”

“You’ve condemned her to a worse fate.”

“I’ve given her a chance; a second chance at life.”  Even in her grief, she managed to emanate the joy she felt in hope.  It seeped through the cobwebs creating rainbows of color in the silky strands.

**

She opened her eyes to the sterile white hospital room, deathly quiet except for the steady, rhythmic beeping that announced she was still alive.

I’m still here.

Relief flooded through her, seeping out of her eyes and down her face.  She didn’t know how she was going to live, but for some reason she couldn’t quite grasp, she didn’t want to die.  Not yet, anyway.

The doom was still threatening, looming at the edges, but she held onto the hope that she had something to live for; many things, actually.  And as she thought of each one, they caressed her heart and the blackness started to inch slowly away, replaced by tentative light.  She wasn’t sure how she would face them; how they could possibly forgive her; how she could possibly forgive herself.  She didn’t have any answers; didn’t feel much better than when she swallowed a handful of pills in complete despair, thinking it was better.  But she knew she had to keep trying.

She noticed a mirror on her bedside table.  She wasn’t sure why it was sitting there and couldn’t fathom why she even wanted to look, but she picked it up anyway and stared at the image.  She didn’t recognize the face; didn’t want to think that she was the ugly creature reflected in the glass.  But she kept looking; stared into those dark, sorrowful eyes and made a silent vow.

I choose to live. I choose to accept who I am at this moment and what I’ve done. 

The brilliant light that had furiously fought the sticky, dark cobwebs of doubt and despair finally burst through and surrounded her, pulsing with warmth; love; hope.