Thursday, October 3, 2013

Flash Fiction Friday: Cliffhanger, Part II

So last week, I wrote half a story, and left Gorg the Troll on the side of a cliff.  Finishing that one is someone else's job now.  To be specific, it's Jemima Pett's job.  Pop over and see how she finished it.  I'll probably post my own finish next week, unless I like hers so much better I dump mine.  And I, meanwhile, have finished her story (it wasn't necessarily supposed to work out that way, but I liked her story and she named the main character Rebecca and took her hiking, and. . . well, I just had to).

Here's the link to the Chuck Wendig post explaining it all.

And here's Jemima's story from last week, Girl on a Ledge. You'll probably want to read that first if you haven't already.

And I think I've only brought us to another turn in the story.  Back over to you, Jemima!

Girl on a Ledge, Part II

Rebecca tried to convince herself that anything was better than being stuck on that cliff back on Earth.  Falling into an orange sky at low gravity?  She could handle it.

Back on Earth?

No, she couldn’t handle it.  She opened her mouth to scream.

Then she closed it.  No, really, she could handle this.  She wasn’t falling, she was floating.  Rebecca closed her eyes for a moment to enjoy the sensation.  If she spread out her arms would she soar like a hawk?  She opened her eyes and tried it, and realized that she was no longer falling toward an orange sky, but gliding above an orange landscape.

Clearly a dream, she thought.  I always wanted to dream of flying.  The thought comforted her, though the thought of the worm niggled at her mind.  She knew that worm.  If she could only remember where from.  Then she decided she was thinking of the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, which wasn’t at all helpful.  At least, it hadn’t been for Alice.  And there was no worm here.

At last Rebecca drifted down to the billowing orange surface she’d taken for sky.  She sank into it a little, then stabilized.  She could stand on it, whatever it was.  Maybe clouds?  It was like nothing she’d ever seen before, but a glimpse of the worm disappearing over a hill of the stuff started her off at a trot.  The surface gave beneath her feet, springing back to make running a joy.  She crested the rise and there was no sign of the worm.  She stopped, and knelt to feel the “ground.”  It was the same stuff as the non-rock that had formed the luge-course that had brought her here.  Wherever “here” was. 

With a mental shrug, Rebecca started walking again.  A long time later, bored silly, she said aloud, “This isn’t much of a dream.”

“You think this is a dream?”  The high-pitched voice that had lured her off the nice, solid, Earthly cliff was back in her ear.

“It has to be.  I don’t climb cliffs.  And I don’t fall through wormholes into alternative realities, or whatever this is meant to be.”

“I see.”  The voice, which she was beginning to believe was that of the worm, continued to sound all around, so she couldn’t spot the speaker.  It made her cranky.

“And I don’t like orange,” Rebecca announced loudly.

“I do apologize,” the voice said.  “I thought—your hair—”  It seemed to be having trouble saying it.

“My hair is NOT orange,” Rebecca grumbled.  “It is red.  Copper, if you want, but never, ever orange.  I do not like orange,” she repeated.  The sense of overwhelming reality that had come over her when clinging to the cliff face was long gone, and it seemed both reasonable and very odd to be arguing over the color of the ground, if ground it was.  The only reason now to doubt she was dreaming was that she’d never in her life had dreams like this.  Not even the time she’d eaten an entire anchovy pizza, washed down by three pints of root beer.  Of course, that had given her no dreams at all, because she’d been sick all night.

“Oh, very well,” grumbled the voice—the worm?  The surface under Rebecca’s feet shifted and swirled, and came up the color of a new-minted penny.  “Is that better?”

“Why does it have to match my hair?” Rebecca asked cautiously.

A sound like a mosquito buzzing in her ear was the only answer, and with a sigh she walked on.  Did this strange place have water?  She wanted a drink.

A long time later Rebecca had another idea.  She stopped walking, and lay down.  The strange springy surface made a surprisingly comfortable bed.  She stretched out, closed her eyes, and slept.

Panic.  She was trapped in something simultaneously soft and unyielding, and if she didn’t break loose she would die.  Rebecca awoke with a gasp and sat up.  Rather, she tried to sit up.  She was trapped in an orange cocoon, unable to free herself.  Thrashing in increasing terror, she struggled until one hand came free and she could push the hood off of her face.  Drawing a deep breath, trying to still her racing pulse and generate a rational thought, she fumbled for the zipper on the sleeping bag.  Pushing it down until she could move freely, she collapsed on the scrunched-up jacket that served as a pillow and took several calming breaths. 

That had been a weird dream.  No wonder, with the sleeping bag so completely fastened up over her face.  “I hate mummy bags,” she muttered.  But at least the dream was over.  No cliffs, no weird land, no elusive worm.

Then she opened her eyes.

A large, hairy face peered down at her from where the roof of the tent should have been.  Its breath was foul, and the teeth sharp.

She closed her eyes again and thought about the worm and the cloud-land.  Cautiously, she opened her eyes, keeping fingers and toes crossed. 

The tent, the sleeping bag, and the bear were gone.  She was lying on a coppery cloud.  The now-familiar voice squeaked, “Are you ready now?  There isn’t a lot of time.”

“Tell me what I have to do,” Rebecca answered with a sigh.  “I don't like cliffs and I don't like bears, so I guess I must be ready.”

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