Thursday, May 8, 2014
Flash Fiction: Out of Time
* * *
Recently, I agreed to participate in a flash-fiction event hosted by Bluebelle. I was to write a short story under 1000 words based on the prompt that she gave me:
The door creaked- which was odd, because that door never creaked.
Here is the result of that prompt! :D Enjoy!
* * *
OUT OF TIME
My mind was wandering... sorting out problems which could only be understood in a world of dreams. In my minds eye, I moved through a vague and shadowy landscape, peaceful and quiet... full of memory and musing, fantasy and questions.
Gradually, I felt myself returning to the world of the living... I felt a breeze blow across my face, and a lock of my hair move across the bridge of my nose.
My limbs felt like lead. For a moment, I could not move. My mind was in a fog...
My eyebrows furrowed. I parted my lips and drew in a deep breath. As soon as the cool, sweet air touched my lungs, my body seemed to realize how desperately it needed that air.
Suddenly, I found that my limbs were infused with new energy from that life-giving breath, and I pushed myself up and gasped.
My eyes were encrusted with sleep. I rolled over onto my knees and clawed it away, blinking rapidly as tears came to my eyes. The light streamed down on me, filling my senses with its warmth.
I was beginning to get my bearings. My mind was coming back to me, and I found I could think clearly once more.
I had been sleeping... so deeply, it felt like death. I could not remember what had caused me to sleep in such a manner, nor for how many hours, or days, I had remained in that spot.
Hunched on my knees, I drew several deep breaths before I managed to lift my head. My vision was bleary, and for a moment, my surroundings twisted and turned as though I were looking through marbled glass. When at last my sight cleared, I recognized my surroundings as a green woodland. Tall, majestic trees rose high above me, stretching their graceful limbs toward the sun.
Now I vaguely remembered coming here. I had taken to the forest to traverse the wild, and escape for a few precious hours from the endless monotony of my life in that modest village I called home. But what had transpired on that walk, I could not yet recall.
Rising unsteadily to my feet, I rested my hand on the trunk of the beech that had sheltered me. As the effects of my long slumber began to fade, I realized that I was not far from my home. I could just make out the outlines of the path that would take me to my cottage.
Judging from the position of the sun, I knew that I must have slept all night and woken well into the morning. I could only imagine how worried my sister Sally, seven-year-old brother Jack must be. Sally had likely sent her fiance John for help, and John had likely summoned the entire town. Running my hands through my hair, I hastened back to the cottage to set their minds at ease.
But even as I made my way home, questions echoed loudly in my mind. What had happened to me? What would have caused me to fall asleep so close to home? I recalled carrying my rifle with me. What had become of that?
As I drew near the cottage, I saw smoke rising from the chimney and smelled sausage on the air. A sudden hunger made me vigorous, and anxiously I sprang up the steps and onto the porch. With a bright smile that I hoped would cool my sister's anger over my absence, I flung the door open.
“Good morning, Sally!” I said.
As it swung open, the door creaked loudly- which was odd, because that door never creaked.
The young woman leaning over the stove gave a start, and swung around to face me with wide eyes. My greeting froze in my throat as I saw that she was not my sister. Her blond hair and blue eyes were completely unfamiliar to me. I could not recall seeing her in the village before.
Her mouth open wide in surprise, she fumbled for a moment before giving a shocked outcry. “Excuse me, sir! Who are you?”
I shook my head. “I think I should be asking you that question. Are you a friend of Sally's?” I said with a chuckle.
The woman's brows lowered into a frown. “Sir, I demand to know what you are doing in my house.”
I laughed incredulously. “Oh come on, what's the joke? Where are Sally and Jack? Is John in?”
“I don't know what you're talking about, but if you don't start explaining, I will let the dog loose on you!”
My eyes caught sight of the large wolf-hound watching intently from the hearth. Swallowing, I stepped back, glancing around. Suddenly, I noticed the tall, healthy cherry tree in full blossom through the back window. I froze. That was impossible. I'd only just planted that tree that spring, as a present for Sally. How could it be fully grown?
“I-” I stammered, struggling to find the words. “I'm Rip! Rippald van Winkle? I live here with my sister Sally and my little brother Jack...”
I swayed on my feet, overwhelmed with the revelation of the cherry tree. The implications... how long did I sleep?
So disoriented was I that I barely noticed the woman calling for her husband. Her voice was shaking, much as my own hands were trembling with confusion.
A man appeared in the doorway. “Mary? What's wrong?” he asked his wife.
“Jack...” She whispered, pointing in my direction.
As I looked up to meet the eyes of this new man, I nearly fainted. I would have thought I was looking into the mirror. His face was pale, and his dark hair was in disarray as he beheld me in utter shock.
“Rip...?” he whispered hoarsely. “Is it you?”
I did not hear what he said next. My legs crumpled beneath me as I sank to the floor. The world was going black... I was fainting... fainting...
How long did I sleep?
* * *