Glad you could join us for the next zany episode of Elliot’s Adventures. If you’re new here, you can catch up by returning to the beginning, and reading really fast…
The moon had climbed only a branch or two higher in the tree when Yvonne returned with dinner to find Elliot cleaning dried blood from a slash on his girlfriend’s neck.
Looking away, she patiently reminded herself that her own savory kill still dripped from her talons, and she lay a beakful of mold-garnished leafy greens and a spongy-plump mushroom at their feet. Then, because that suffocating need to show well had woken from its long sleep, she couldn’t stop herself from discreetly tossing tufts of fur and shards of bone down to the charred forest floor.
Resentment simmered in her veins.
She kept one eye on her visitors, and as soon as Elliot finished tending to Cassandra’s wound, she reengaged her plan.
“I imagine you wonder how the woods came to be this graveyard of charred snags.” She waited for them to nod; they did not disappoint. “Would you mind if I told you the story as we dine?” Their head shakes answered. “Well, then, please,” she urged, “tuck in!”
Cassandra began nibbling on the deliciously decayed vegetation while Elliot scraped at the mushroom cap. Both of them kept their eyes riveted on Yvonne.
Tearing a shaggy strip from her meal’s skin, she flung it over the side to join the rest of the rubbish. She ripped a shred of flesh from the carcass and flipped her bill skyward. She caught the slippery morsel, sliding down her gullet.
“This place is haunted,” she began. Their startled expressions pleased her. ”Oh, we didn’t know that when the trees were lush with leaves and I was young and carefree.” Her voice jumped an octave and her words shivered like icy spider webs. “Life was full of joy.” Closing her eyes and drawing a deep breath, she composed a calmer tone. “Our parents taught us how to hunt so we could grow to support ourselves. We found mates and hatched families of our own.”
She paused, appearing to look inward. “Year after year. After year.”
Her eyes slowly widened as she relived the tale, twisting her head from side to side in a slow and mesmerizing sway. The words were a low growl growing to an unbalanced quaver.
”That’s when the trouble began. With each season’s brood, the forest grew denser and more brittle as all joy evaporated. The tree tops filled with crackling, screeching, howling noises.” Her voice dropped to a hopeless drone, “And a somber spirit descended over the woods, smothering the hopes and dreams we used to have.”
She clicked her beak in clipped staccato, then wrung her words out of twisted tones. ”We bickered and quibbled, and every day, life was harder to bear. Tensions rose as the spirit grew stronger and angrier, yet no one recognized the danger.”
A tremor rolled through her, cresting in an earthquake of sound. ”Finally, fueled by unhappiness, the spirit’s anger burst into flame and flew from tree to tree, igniting each and every one as far as it could fly.”
She finished in a whisper. ”When all was done, I was the only one left.”
She sat in silent reverence, remembering the peace that had settled in her heart when the spirit’s fury was spent.
Elliot’s piping voice startled her from her reverie, poking at the distant memory of the clamor, the noise, the screaming confusion that came just before the flames.
“What became of the spirit? Is it gone? Will the others ever return?”
“No,” she began slowly, “I don’t believe the spirit is gone; in fact, I believe it is here among us now, and I think it is only sleeping. But the others will never return–” her eyes were glowing embers as she stared through them, seeing a time gone by, “–not if they know what’s good for them.”
To be continued…
“Two beacon tin you’d?!” You, having reached Zed believing that meant The End
Yep! Elliot and Cassandra haven’t yet completed their quest — there’s more fantasy and adventure to savor. They’ll be back Mondays through Saturdays for your enjoyment if you’d care to join them. I hope you will.
The final twofer, from May 1, 2016:
Most people have probably heard of The Zone, and many of us have experienced it — that mental space where everything flows, things seem to fall into place without effort, and Time has no meaning. Artists, artisans, athletes, authors, drivers, gamers, inventors, mail sorters, mathematicians, meditators, readers, scientists — almost anyone doing anything that requires reflexivity or creative thought can sometimes find themselves in The Zone.
But fewer people know how to get there at will.
“At will? What are you talking about?” You and Doubting Thomas.
I know it can be done because I can do it.
I learned how in The Sharper Image store (when they still had brick and mortar stores), and I didn’t spend a dime.
Maybe you remember the alpha v. beta brainwave craze and the bio/neurofeedback machines that proliferated during the Seventies. The idea was to relax the normal beta wave brain activity to a lower level, the alpha wave, thus opening the mind to The Zone.
The Sharper Image sold a little bio feedback machine. You stuck your face against a kind of funnel-shaped frame that connected to a little box of electronics that emitted a sound and showed the wavelength of the wave you were experiencing — beta or alpha. If you changed from one wave to the other as you were in the frame, the machine would show you that, too.
I don’t know how it worked without electrodes like today’s neurofeedback machines have, but I was there with some of my sisters and friends, and of the six of us who tried it numerous times, I was the only one who made it change and achieved the coveted alpha wave state. Every time. Which the store personnel apparently found pretty annoying, especially since it was clear we had no intention of buying the thing. Or anything for that matter.
Anyway, I could feel myself doing it. It was like opening all the windows in my brain to let the buzzing out. Like focusing on Nothing in the mid-distance — a lot like those Magic Eye pictures that your eyes have to focus behind or in front of to see the 3D object emerge (or recede) from the computerized deconstruction of the image.
It’s a useful skill for constructing 3D models in your head, which I do as a seamstress when I alter or design, or around the house to figure out exactly what I need to create in order to fix something I’ve never fixed before. It’s the best problem solving tool I have.
And if I can do it, anyone can.
“And that’s an encouraging thought.” Gandalf the White, who probably spent more time in The Zone than anyone else in Middle Earth. Except maybe Galadriel.
What are your experiences in The Zone? What were you doing the first time you realized that’s where you were? What’s the surest way for you to get there?
One last time: I’ve fallen behind in my reading; maybe you have, too. I’ll be re-visiting these fine fiction writers to finish reading their A to Z Challenge stories. Will you?
#AtoZChallenge A-to-Z Fictioneers: Interested in original fiction? Here’s a list of writers who are writing stories for the 2017 A to Z Challenge. The author’s link will take you to their “A” post. If you know of any other story writers I can share, please drop the link in the comments!
- Aditi’s Indian myths from a female POV at Aditi’s Pen
- Andrea’s fantasy novel, “The Impatiens Chronicles”, as writing instruction at Andrea Lundgren
- Arpan’s horror stories at Tales of Unusual Strangeness
- Atherton’s Victorian murder mystery, “Stranded!”, at Atherton’s Magic Vapour
- Debs’s song-inspired fiction at Bunny and the Bloke
- Diane’s 100-word tales at LadiesWhoLunchReviews,etc
- Dipanwita’s 100-word stories at Cocktails Mocktails and Life
- Iain’s alphabet puzzle-inspired murder mystery serial at Iain Kelly Writing
- Jo’s upbeat emotion stories at Jo Hawk the Writer
- Joe’s excerpts from his upcoming post-Civil War historical fiction, “Steel Horse Saviors”, at Fiction Playground
- John’s flash fiction crime stories with a twist at John Davis Frain
- Keith’s everyday life in fictional Amble Bay at Keith’s Ramblings
- Lenni’s speculative fiction, “What Are They” at J Lenni Dorner
- Marquessa’s short stories spun from her larger work, “Living to Die” at Simply Marquessa
- Natalie’s “Secret Diary of a Serial Killer” at Natalie Westgate
- Raven’s 100-word flash fiction at everywhere and nowhere
- Shailaja’s 100-word oxymoronic stories at The Moving Quill
- Shilpa’s 55-word crime stories at A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose!
- Shweta’s Tiny Tales at My Random Ramblings
- Sorchia’s Gothic fantasy, “A Cold Spring” at Sorchia’s Universe
- S.T. Ranscht’s fantasy/adventure serial, “Elliot’s Adventures”at Space, Time, and Raspberries
Vanessa’s build-a-30-word-story at Vanessence