I'm in the middle of finished the novel I started in NaNoWriMo this year. Already it's the longest single thing I've ever written, and I'm not done yet. While I'm committed to finishing it, nevertheless, I felt the urge on Friday to write something completely unrelated. Another story that I had in the back of my mind. I finally relented and dropped about a thousand words that made me feel so good I decided to post it to Instagram. Writing is like that sometimes. Creativity too. Occasionally, it's good to do something completely different, if only to remind yourself there are other stories.
It wasn't until I posted in on Instagram, though, that I was reminded of something just as important. I wrote a few months ago, when I posted the first excerpt of "Fatales", that I realized I had been hiding my fiction and made the determination to be more open with that, very important, aspect of my writing. Well, I realized I had been hiding something else.
If you've been following along for a while, you might know I did something a couple of years ago that I never thought I'd do: I wrote an entire fanfiction novel. And I realized this weekend that, other than a few select people, I had never shown it to anyone. I couldn't tell you why except that I had a kind of embarrassment towards it. Well, I think it's time I did something about that.
So, here you are. The first bit, at least. Hopefully, I'll post more soon. I thought about writing a synopsis, but something told me to just let it stand as it is. I will leave you with three words, though: Harry Potter Fanfiction.
A warm breeze blew past Richard’s face. It was unseasonably dry for London this time of year, but he wasn’t about to let that stop him from his daily run. He pounded a little harder in his trainers, thinking, like many do, that if he ran a little faster then the breeze might feel a little cooler.
He had passed a few others on the path out here, but all of them had been heading the other way, so he was pleased to find himself alone as the trail curved around the pond. It was a pleasant enough afternoon, despite the heat, and the rhythm of his steps, timed with the music in his headphones, kept him wrapped in his own little world as he ran on.
Thus it was no small shock when he caught a figure out of the corner of his eye. He had been so lost in his thoughts and the rhythm of the run that he wondered how long she had been standing there on the other side of the lake. Come to think of it, he didn’t remember there being a path on that side; there were only trees down to the water. She definitely wasn’t running either, just standing there. Something about her made Richard slow to a stop.
She looked familiar. Strange and familiar. There was a bluish haze around her that he thought might be a reflection of the sun off the water, and she was dressed in a way that Richard couldn’t quite make out for the haze but certainly appeared to be inappropriate for an afternoon hike. Still she looked familiar. In fact, she looked just like…
“Carol?” Richard muttered under his breath.
What was Carol doing out here? He left her back at home. Carol didn’t run. She was always giving him grief about it. How did she get out here so fast, he wondered?
Yet, for all the questions the situation brought up, there Carol was. And she seemed to be saying something. Something Richard could understand despite the fact that she was all the way across the lake and he was wearing headphones.
And suddenly, Carol, the headphones, none of it didn’t make sense. It all seemed so terribly reasonable. She was calling to him, and he wanted to go to her. Straight to her. It made sense to go to her. It made all the sense in the world.
So he went.
Coincidentally, he had only just been thinking how thirsty he was.
* * *
Marcus was late at the office, again. This was becoming more than a habit, certainly more than a job; this was becoming a prison sentence. But reports rarely wrote themselves. And how else would the company know how much work their employees were doing without reports telling them how much work their employees were doing?
It was quiet, despite the rain falling outside, which always unnerved Marcus. When everyone was here, it was harder to get things done, but he’d take the background drone over the deathly silence any day. Or night, as it were.
The music helped. At least, with the office empty, he could play it loud on his speakers, without complaint.
Unfortunately, the report didn’t seem to be going anywhere. It may have been the late hour, his exhaustion after spending a full day at the office, or perhaps he was trying to make sense out of completely random data, but the numbers refused to form themselves into anything coherent. So he paced to try and collect his thoughts.
He wasn’t sure how long he had been pacing before he noticed her. Even when he did, he was sure for a second it was a trick of the light, a reflection of the too bright fluorescents on the window, a side effect of his tired eyes and fatigued brain. Yet the longer he looked the more he was sure there was a woman standing on the other side of the window.
In fact, it seemed to be Melody, which made no sense, of course. Melody was visiting her mother in Sussex, and, even if she hadn’t been, would surely have been asleep right now and not standing on the other side of his office window, dressed in he-couldn’t-tell-what.
And yet there Melody was. And she seemed to be talking to him. And suddenly it made perfect sense. Just like how the numbers suddenly resolve themselves. It made perfect sense for him to hear her perfectly, despite the music and the glass between them, and for her to be standing there on the other side of the window, despite it being 20 stories up. Even the strange haze that surrounded her seemed to make sense, or at least passed his notice, like everything else about her.
The only thing, in fact, that didn’t make sense was the glass. He suddenly felt the need to open the window, regardless of the rain. She was telling him to. He wanted to. He did.
And, then, it made perfect sense to step out and join her.
* * *
A lorry roared past Kyle as he walked home. They had been cutting through the neighborhood lately, taking a shortcut that allowed them to avoid the mid-afternoon traffic. The Council, of course, was beside itself, raising issues of noise and safety to anyone who would listen, which weren’t many, unfortunately. So, the lorries continued to cut through, saving a full fifteen minutes. Council be damned.
Kyle couldn’t have cared less, and only noticed the lorry when it passed his line of sight. The noise easily covered by the song blaring in the headphones that covered his ears. He barely recalled his mum saying something about the trucks and how it worried her when he walked home from school, even more so when he was listening to music too loud to hear them. Not that he cared, again. He was 15, after all. Too old, in his opinion, to be lectured about “looking both ways before crossing the road”.
Still, out of habit, he managed to look up from his mobile as he hit the corner of the street, which lay just opposite his house. That’s when he saw her.
He recognized the figure instantly as Patima, standing on the other side of the street, which made no sense. She didn’t live out this way, and, more to the point, she had never given him the time of day. And she wasn’t dressed like she had been today either, and he remembered. Also, there was that odd haze about her that he didn’t notice because he was too confused by her being there at all. Yet there she was, and she seemed to be smiling at him.
And suddenly it made sense. Or it stopped not making sense. Or rather still, nothing that didn’t make sense about it seemed to matter. There was Patima, and she was smiling at him, and talking to him. Two things she had absolutely never done before.
She seemed to be inviting him over to her. He could hear despite the headphones, and he wanted to go to her. He needed to go. So he did.
Later, during the inquest, when a loud, angry Council demanded justice, and Kyle’s weeping mother was interviewed for the news, it was said that Kyle had simply not seen the truck.
The truth was that he had. The truck had simply ceased to matter.
* * *
The street was empty and quiet now. The lorries no longer cut through, much to everyone’s relief.
It was evening. On the very corner responsible for the newfound, if bittersweet, peace and quiet, a small memorial had been erected. Schoolmates, neighbors, and friends had left flowers, notes, representations of their grief. Among them were Kyle’s headphones, scratched but otherwise intact. A last vestige of the boy who had worn them only days before.
Life had returned to normal, more or less, as it tends to do, even after tragedy. Parents held their own children a little tighter, but everyone thought it best to keep to themselves, much as they had before, on the now quiet street in the once again quiet village.
Thus, had anyone been out looking at this hour, they would have been more than shocked to see a woman emerge from the darkness, just down the street from the little shrine to Kyle.
There would have been any number of reasons for their perplexity. The woman’s dress, dark blue robes, or her hat, which resembled a bobby’s helmet, or the general manner with which she conducted herself. But what would surely have shocked them most, and first, was the broom, which by itself would have appeared an oddity, being archaic looking, made of wood and bound twigs. However, the real shock would not have been that she was carrying it but that it seemed to be carrying her.
The strange woman floated down out of the darkness, riding, as it were, on the broom. When she was only a few feet above the ground, she dismounted and pulled the broom into a vertical position as she descended, with one foot still perched on the side and the other held out to step off deftly as she alighted in the street.
She glanced up and then down the village road and, convinced that no one was watching, spun the broom by its handle, under an arm, and clipped it, bristles up, to a harness on her back. She then set off walking towards the corner and the little shrine there.
She surveyed the scene with all the care of a police inspector, which made a certain sense and yet didn’t. It made sense in that she did indeed conduct herself like an inspector, with the kind of reserved, yet forceful presence of a “bobby on the beat”. Yet it did not make sense, because, while she had the helmet, she was not dressed like a bobby on the beat, what with the robes and, again, the broom. Still anyone watching might have thought that she was looking for something, for indeed she was.
The woman knelt down over the little memorial and, with a gloved hand, poked around the notes and flowers. She took off her custodian’s helmet, its little shield emblazoned with the letters “D-M-L-E” shined to radiance, revealing pearl white hair underneath, cut to just below her ears, and fished an item out of the hat.
Her hand emerged clutching a milky-white crystal about the length of her palm, bound with a dark, leather cord. She held her hand above the memorial and let the crystal drop and dangle from her fingers by the cord. The crystal hovered horizontally as she passed it over the shrine.
At first, it made no movement other than to turn slightly in the night breeze. Then, as she passed it over again, the crystal began to spin, ever so slightly. She passed it slower, and it spun faster, back and forth under no power, it seemed, but its own. It began to glow. A light blue bending towards green.
She stopped her hand when the crystal seemed to be glowing brightest and spinning fastest, right over the headphones. She lowered the crystal and the color began to flash. Satisfied, she tugged on the cord, sending the crystal back up into her hand. She dropped it back into her helmet, which she set back on her pearl white head, and grabbed the headphones right off the top of the memorial. She deposited them in a pocket of her robes as she stood.
The strange woman cast her eye again across the dark, quiet street.