Hello everyone, this Wednesday I am sharing the 5th chapter to my sci-fi/historical fiction short story, From Edge to Edge. If you haven’t seen the first 4, you can start reading Chapter I here. Enjoy!
Chapter V: Monsters and Wings
Joan found herself in an array of stunning colors – chut thai clothing everywhere, ranging from cherry red, salmon pink, sunset orange, stunning gold, and the most beautiful midnight sky blue. With a single hand, Joan switched her Peterson’s Necklace to match “Siam, 1914, Female”, creating an illusionary disguise of a chut thai over her own clothing. She pulled her hair into a tight bun to match those around her and walked on. The hot air balloon had made her legs outrageously clumsy, even with daily exercise within the balloon. She stumbled forward, apologizing continuously to the people of Chiang Mai, Siam.
The spotless road was lined with carts and stands brimmed with various exotic fruits, cloth, and trinkets. The young woman resisted the urge to gaze upon their beauty, with so little time left. A young woman with glossy black hair and bright pink cheeks bumped into Joan, grasping her shoulder in fear. She turned, eyebrows raised – the girl was probably fifteen or sixteen, younger than herself.
“What is it, what is wrong?” Joan asked, shaking herself free.
“They coming!” The girl cried, shaking her head. “Monsters coming!”
“What monsters?” Joan asked, shooting a glance toward a nearby market alley where the girl had come from. “What did they look like?”
“The girl is delusional!” A marketman shouted, shaking his head. “She fell down deep well!”
Joan remained silent, waiting for the young girl to control her breathing. At last, she turned her watery brown eyes to miss Perk, holding back a scream. Her face spoke every word needed. With a violent spin, Joan whipped around, punching a ghost white young man in contrasting black. He fell backward, mask falling from his face revealing empty, pale pink eyes.
“You,” Joan spat, grabbing a thick bamboo stick from the man’s hands. “You came all this way, and for what purpose? To steal useless coins and traumatized children?”
“Y-You know nothing,” the young man said in a weak voice, coughing wetly into his arm. “I was keeping the Yevikes alive!”
“They are alive, Jantez!” Joan cried, then lowered her voice to a whisper. “We made sure of that in 1812.”
“When you left a solar flare hit the planet and killed two-thirds of my people. Disease ravished, killing fifty percent that remained. The rest of us fled, scattering over the stars, hunted. I am the only Yevike left.”
The market people were silent, straining to hear, although the pair’s whispers were too low.
“I am sorry,” Joan said, placing a hand on Jantez’s shoulder. “I never knew that would happen.”
“It is not your fault, the sun just happened to flare after you and Peter left. You saved our lives from the Hunters, we cannot thank you enough,” Jantez said, lowering his eyes. “I was foolish and left my people. I got them killed, then fled and attached myself to your fob watch as you were passing Bekeve. It spit me out here when the window closed.”
“Wait, then that means you-” Joan started, eyes wide.
“No, I-I traded another’s life so I could escape,” Jantez said, blue tears forming.
“My sister, Amila. The one… The one who was only seven.”
The ravished girl who called of monsters let out a vicious cry, throwing herself at Jantez, biting and clawing. The crowd backed away and went on with their business, smiling to themselves. Joan leaped forward, pulling the girl off gently and pressing her to the ground.
“He will not hurt you, I promise,” Joan said, avoiding the girl’s claws.
“Monster!” She growled. “Monster!”
Javez, now slightly bleeding from his pale skin, stood up shakily, leaning on Joan. He managed a sad smile before reaching down and touching his ankles.
“Back up,” he whispered, giant white wings sprouting from his back.
The crowd stopped, colors of their clothing silent. The marketmen and women frozen in awe, silks, and fruits halfway to the buyer’s hands. The wings were almost six feet wide, sprouting from Javez’s back like an eagle’s. People began muttering, “Dream, dream, angel.”
Javez grabbed Joan’s hands, quickly nodding up, eyebrows raised. She nodded in consent as he began to pound his powerful wings. Within seconds, the two were soaring hundreds of feet above the market, his black clothes and pearl-white skin shining against the brilliant sun. Joan clung to his form, feet dangling in the air. With a gust of strong wind, they sped through the air, some fifty miles before being lowered to the ground.
“Here we are,” Javez said, his wings melting in thin air, droplets falling on the ground like precious raindrops. “My transportation.”
“Not your wings?” Joan laughed, throwing her head back and staring at the cloudless sky in awe. “Your people are… were very fortunate.”
“To have wings? Perhaps. But they only carry us so far,” Javez said, walking toward a grove of trees. “Not to mention we stand out like sore thumbs here on Earth.”
The young man disappeared for seconds within the grove, and at last returned with a beast of peculiar sorts – an elephant.
“This is how I have been getting around. Her name is Manteia – I plan to set her free once I leave this place,” Javez said, a grim smile set upon his face like stone. “Take her.”
“Why should I?”
“You need to open the time window so I can return home and give a proper burial to my people. And if you fail, the whole universe will collapse into itself. You must succeed, Joan,” Javez said, pushing the reins into her hands.
“And what about you?” Joan asked, climbing onto the elephant. “I do not trust you will stay out of sight of these people.”
“They call me Russian. If I do not show my eyes – or wings for that matter – I shall be okay,” Javez said. “I’ll catch up later.”
“The window is only opened for five minutes, Javez. You will never make it,” Joan said, frowning. “Once it closes we are off and the window to 1914 closes forever.”
“In that case,” Javez said, his grim face replaced with a smile. “Let us find that Mr. Forkins.”
It was through this small and odd encounter that Joan gained a new traveling companion – Javez, the last Yevike in existence. It was through this that the two set off on Manteia, talking of their travels and old homes. And it was also at this time that Peter Forkins found himself 200 miles ahead of the pair.