“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, and redeemed.” ~ Audrey Hepburn
Ch 12 ~ the Enforcer, the Thinker, the Innocent, the Tinkerer
Something was happening to Mya’s mind. She was having trouble recalling what had just happened a few minutes ago. Where were they going with this? How was all of this to unfold?
She stared at the little one, who idlely dug the tip of her maryjane – the one that was hooked around the back of her other ankle – into the plateau on which they all were standing. They all, Mya laughed in bemusement. Who…me, the tiny girl, and the teddybear? And yet…
Mya had the overpowering sense that more than just the two of them – and the teddybear – were present at this place, at this moment.
The winds picked up, then. A strange happening, Mya thought. They – the winds – had been unnoticeably silent for the past few hours. But now that they had exerted themselves, Mya became aware of what had been their lost voice. She listened carefully to their liberation as they bore life from themselves. Somehow, their birthing call made the void of the Origin less and more palpable, less and more tangible. Less and more factual. Because what they had brought forth had substance and texture, but also a chill and a wail. Like a poignant rhapsody that was followed by a trail of echoing sighs. Or laughter. Or hums. Like an extended intake of air and a thrusting exhale of breath that, through the blowing and in the bustle of it all, materialized into a quietly distracting but distinctively weighty Humhaaaa.
Strange, Mya thought. She looked around the boundaries of the plateau, taking in bits of landscape, but mostly taking in a deepening purple-grey mist. Still, despite the less than cheery feel of the surroundings, if she didn’t know better, Mya would have sworn that the wind had just smiled.
Mya unconsciously wrapped her arms across her chest. She clutched her hands along the caps of her shoulders. She felt a tingling chill run down her spine…but temperature had little to do with it. She shuddered and absentmindedly stomped her the sole of her boot on the ground…just as the little one dug the tip of her shiny patent leather maryjane into the soil.
The child stood, entirely unchanged by the difference in the air and the eerie howl it had brought forth. Unchanged…an ironic turn of events, Mya thought, seeing as this little one was, by nature, a shapeshifter. A changeling. Mya paused. She hugged her own body close to herself as she closely studied the child. No, she thought, this one was more a faerie than a changeling if a choice between the two had to be made. This one was unique…the polar opposite of indistinguishable. Mya traced her gaze along the features of the child’s face…a face that held moments of looking remarkably like an innocent version of a Jolie or a Pitt (just for the sake of absurdity, if not celebrity), but in actuality, most consistently bore the most striking resemblance to Mya herself. Amazing, Mya marvelled. If I push everything that has happened aside, Mya thought, and simply be with the child, it is as if…I am holding up the mirror to my former self…to years gone by.
“To stories of old,” the little one sang as she twirled her hair like a ribbon around her finger.
Startled, Mya shook her head softly. No, she whispered directly to herself. This one was no changeling. Hardly a stupid, ugly child, as a strict definition of the word ‘changeling’ might suggest. No imposter either, Mya uttered wordlessly as she stared at the child.
In that moment, the little person waddled forward with awkward, tiny demure steps. Yet, she held Mya’s gaze with a confidence and an innocence both…and both soothed and comforted her. …the wisdom of children, Mya couldn’t help but think. Then she felt tiny, smooth fingers tug gently around Mya’s pinky and palm. And before Mya knew anything at all, before Mya even drew her next breath, she felt her feet moving under her, and felt the child leading her across the plateau to another place. Off in the distance, but not too far. Off under a bit of shelter, though none appeared to be needed. There were storm clouds in the purple-grey mist, if one preferred to call them clouds, or atmosphere or kinetic renderings of some unknown origin.
…Origin, Mya muttered in silence and immediately her mind flew to Dryst. Although she felt him still, felt him always, she couldn’t help but wonder where he was…wonder how he was. He would not stop. She knew this, and for the first time, she admitted to worrying…only becausee everything was so upsidedown strange in this land with all of the otherworldy, unnatural way of things surging and collecting themselves into massive purple-grey storm clouds. But no storm. And no clear way to see through it all. Yet.
“Where,” Mya breathed the question and knew all of its meaning in one word would not be lost on the child.
The child gently stroked Mya’s palm and wrist. She somehow both carefully and playfully swung the teddybear from her other hand. Her shiny maryjanes brought such an infinitely small amount of weight to the ground. Her eyes, as they looked up into Mya’s, brought such a profoundness of depth without even trying. Captivated, Mya stared as they walked slowly forward. And she waited.
The child’s voice was high and melodic when she finally spoke. And when she did finally speak, all that she said was “To the others.”
Again with one word, Mya breathed out the question and knew that it had presented all of its size and scope that was implicit in this one-word ask for clarity…that was equally made implicit by Mya’s tone and energy. It was not that she was nervous, exactly. It was that she didn’t exactly know what was going to happen next.
“Oh, yes,” the little person said. Her glowing blonde hair floated in the air; her flower necklace released a soft perfume as it bobbed ever so lightly along the silk ribbon that was gingerly tied to the child’s neck.
“There are many others here. Many who can help us. When the time comes.” The tiny girl stopped speaking, then, for a moment as she led them through what Mya thought must have been the opening of a cave. The little one tugged at Mya’s hand and, through the tugging, had urged Mya to lower her body so that she could steer her long and lithe self through the opening with safe passage. And so Mya did. And after they had passed through the mouth of the place, Mya saw that they had entered a large room that was tenderly alit with white candles that stood here and there on the floor. A room that was gently welcoming with comfortable furnishings and pillows strewn about. A room that was soothingly playing sounds of a spilling wetness from a waterfountain that dripped its crystal liquid like a rippling curtain over the lip of the water basin. Mya gasped as her senses were abruptly overtaken with the depth of smell and sight of food. Surpressed internal shouts from her stomach that had been denied the chance to announce how terribly hungry she was suddenly burst into the front of her mind and her mouth gaped open in anticipation of nourishment. But before she could put food to mouth, Mya caught sight of drink, a sighting that thrust her feet into a run toward a marble table holding a clear, cool, tall pitcher of clear, cool, tall liquid that Mya could only hope was water and not something evil or toxic or deadly as it rushed down past her lips, poured over her tongue and crashed down her throat.
“You could do with a touch of decorum,” a mature and, presumably, worldy voice uttered. But of what world, Mya wondered as she slowly lowered the pitcher and felt streams of liquid sliding down her chin and falling onto her chest. She turned and saw wires and switches and metal and cable and pulsing lights and whizzing motors all collected together into cojoined unit, of sorts, until its collective oneness took the form and shape of an adult-sized person.
“Just what has enraptured you so,” the pile of metal and electric currents and chords and boxes and engines clipped with a touch of annoyance.
“Um,” Mya mumbled. A robot or cyborg (Mya assumed) spoke of rapture, talked with annoyance, pulsed with sarcasm…what a strange, strange creature, Mya thought and continued to stare in silence.
“Oh,” the cyborg said. “A rocket scientist, I see,” it continued without missing a beat. Mya stared at this sarcastic being – it simply had to be a robot…it whirled and hummed and looked like it was about to plug into something and, well, rather enjoy doing so, she noted – and decided that she was going mad. Yes, mad. As in insane from this all. A war is coming, she told herself. Or so her tiny little self had told her, to be more exact about it all. And for some reason, Mya couldn’t help but believe the little one. And while she still did believe the little one, how, oh how, she wondered nearly aloud, was a sarcastic, mouthy cyborg going to help if it came to some kind of apocalyptic battle? Would he talk the enemy to death? Would he strike them down with words that killed?
If a robot could scowl, this one managed it. Had he read her thoughts, she panicked to herself?
It sighed and unleashed an electric chord from around its waist, then extended it back only to snap it forward, hurling its metal teeth into the side of her ankle.
“Hey!” Mya barked, but jumped back against the counter, nearly sending the pitcher of water crashing to the floor.
The little one moused herself over to the cyborg and tenderly placed her hand on it chorded forearm. “War is coming,” she whispered sadly, “but not here.”
The cyborg lowered its metal head to the child, then whirled its neck and lifted its glowing eyes to gleam upon a panting and alarmed Mya.
Its voice lowered. “You would be surprised at how lethal words can be. Even more lethal sometimes, more lasting sometimes than brute force.”
The little one smiled. “But it is nice for us to have both.”
And then the cyborg swung a metal arm around. And the candelight burned more brightly. And Mya saw that the great hall was filled in the center, in the back and around the edges with a legion of cyborgs and warriors.
National Novel Writing Month: Chapter 12 total wordcount: 1750 (not including this notation). Total total count: 19,350. (…have I mentioned how really *really* seriously hard this is?)