Tuesday, October 23, 2012

WiP Wednesday

           Like so many other things that I end up doing, WiP Wednesday idea came to me at 3am. For me, there is just something magical about the hours between 1 and 4 in the morning. Personally I think it is because my inner critic is NOT a night owl. So I usually get these off the wall ideas for stories or crafts or whatever. Usually this results in some very odd emails or texts to friends, but thankfully I have yet to be disowned by them. Anyhow, I had this idea about posting a clip from a work in progress heretofore known as WiP. The thought was still hanging in the air dripping fuzzy clouds and sparklies, when a story idea stepped forth demanding it be first. Of course, I shooed it away, but it kept coming back, poking at me til I sat down and began to write.
          This story changed several times while I wrote. The original one had to do with mistaken identity and a marketplace bombing, but I have found that I must let the story run its own course. So here it is. Djinn There, Done That. I hope you find it interesting, but please remember this is the first draft after all and just the first chapter.

Djinn There, Done That

Ancient plastered covered buildings towered over the dust covered cobblestone streets. Vendors and beggars called out in a strange and exotic tongue. Even the air smelled foreign, filled with a mixture of spice and earth. It had a heady quality that warmed the soul and suffocated spirit at the same time. Colorful tapestries hung from lines stretched taunt across the roadway, a bold dash of color to a bland beige backdrop. At five-foot-four, even Jenn had to duck and weave to make it through the maze of rugs and throws. Monkeys jumped from rooftop to rooftop, chattering to one another as they searched for open windows.

Never had Jenn seen so many people in such a small area…okay maybe on Black Friday, but that’s totally different. Kids ran in-between the maze of merchants, laughter ringing out as the grabbed for the candy she held out for them. She could sense the stares, being fair-skinned and auburn hair she’d expected as much, but there was something unsettling creeping about just below her ribs, making her shiver. She scanned the crowd in attempt to see what had set off the ominous sensation. Lost in a sea of faces, she desperately tried to spot anyone staring at her. 

Startled, Jenn screamed when someone or something had grasped her arm.

“Oh, I’m sorry, but you startled me,” Jenn rambled. Her cheeks burned with embarrassment. The old woman didn’t mean her any harm. She just wanted her to buy a necklace. The crone cooed to her, apparently talking up the jewelry. The only word that Jenn could make out was ta’wiz. It wasn’t anything remarkable, just a black pouch on a string. It smelled of musty herbs and paper, it reminded her of the library after a hurricane had flooded the town. The woman fastened it around Jenn’s neck before she knew it. The woman gave her a toothless grin, very pleased with herself. Not wanting to offend her, Jenn found some coins and held them out. The old woman grabbed a few and with her other hand stroked Jenn’s cheek.

“Safe now,” she rasped as she went back to her stand. The old woman kept watching as Jenn stood there debating whether to keep wearing it. She grabbed her camera, raised it and snapped a picture of the woman. One day, she will show this snapshot when telling this story the next time one of her friends complains about mall kiosk workers.

Hands grabbed at her pants leg as she passed by, nearly skeletal men begging for change or a bit of food. This was completely different than the streets of Atlanta. It broke her heart to see so many hungry. Knowing it really wouldn’t solve much, but unable to walk away Jenn purchased some strange meats, fruits and a couple jugs of water and handed it out to all that she could see.

In her mind, she could hear her grandfather say something about the nothing good comes from feeding strays, but how could she call herself a Christian if she turned a blind eye and just walked away? She felt a bit better when rationalizing it as payment for her using them in her photos not as a hand out. A crowd began to form around Jenn as she handed out the bits of food.

She spotted a man at the entrance of an alley, partially hidden by debris apparently too weak to make it to her. Several times he tried to stand only to collapse, shivering at the attempt. Jenn pushed people aside to get to him. She tried to pat him arm to reassure him everything was going to be okay, but he flinched away from her. Obviously he was use to being struck and had come to expect it. She gave him water and fed him some of the remaining meat. He coughed and tried hard to keep it down. 

       A gentle smile began to spread across is leathered face. His eyes were the only thing youthful about him. They had a mesmerizing quality to them, almost a glow within those deep obsidian pools lined with just a touch of mischief; you could lose yourself in the depth of those warm dark eyes. When he pointed to her neck, she knew he wanted her necklace. Without realizing what she was doing, Jenn had unfastened it and held it out for him. He cautiously reached out for it and she let go, letting it fall. He turned his hand at the last moment letting it hit the ground and kicked it away. Amused and confused, Jenn started to ask why he had done such a thing, but those eyes…They made her so dizzy.

He broke the spell when he bowed and kissed her palms in thanks. His lips were soft as silk and cold as ice, sending chills from her tips of her fingers straight to her heart.  He must have been a real ladies man in his youth for even now she was flustered by him. Jenn looked around and found that they were all alone in the darkened alleyway.  Apprehension tugged at her and she pulled her hands back.  It took her a moment to realize she was holding onto something. Slowly opening her hand, she found he had placed a small coin in them as payment. She tried to give it back, but he was adamant she keep it.

The coin was oddly heavy for such a small thing. Jenn flipped it several times, admiring the artwork of this unusual find. A slight tingle seemed to emanate from hit when she grasped it tightly. She looked back to try once again to return the coin, but when she did she discovered he had vanished. The only evidence he had ever been there lay in the middle of her palm.

"Heads left, tails right," speaking only to feel less alone in the dark, dank alleyway.

She flipped the coin high in the air, caught it, and slapped it on the back of her hand.  Jenn hesitated, unsure if it was due to the sudden disappearance of a clearly frail man, the isolation within the dimly light alley or the sudden knowledge that a new journey was about to begin.

"Left it is."

Jenn started off at a fairly good clip. She managed to get a block away before she was thrown to the ground. A deafening roar shook the ground and the sky lit up brighter than the fourth of July. Screams seemed to come from everywhere at once, even inside her head. It wasn’t until she felt the tension in her own throat did she realize she was screaming too.

Another explosion rocked the market sending Jenn back to the cold cobblestones, only the layer of dirt and sand cushioning her fall. Rolling onto her back she could see the fireball shoot up to the sky, like a demon hungry to grasp the stars.

The air began to shimmer from the heat. A strange buzzing sound kicked up and grew in intensity to an almost maddening level. Jenn covered her ears trying to buffer it out, only to discover it came from within. Everything shimmered and wavered like glitter filled water. Jenn reached out to see if it held mass. At first she thought she was imagining it, her hand was transparent. Holding it up and covering her eyes, she could still see the marketplace and the fire that ensued.

A crack appeared in the cobblestone just before her. Jenn tried to move away, but she felt encased in gelatin. The buzzing spread throughout her, echoed and amplified, shaking her to her core. She saw a thin thread of bluish silver smoke wrap round her and snake up her body. It worked its way to her head and wove back round to her feet. Jenn tried to break free, but it just moved with her, like it was part of her. Cocoon, was the only thought her mind could grasp and the mist-like smoke encased her.  Her world had become a shimmer of silverish blue.

People ran past her, like she was invisible, her screams muffled to an inaudible whisper. Jenn punched and kicked to break free, but the mist began to squeeze her. A dull electrical like current pulsated in time with her heart. A floating sensation began in the pit of her stomach and she swore she would soon pass out. A young woman carrying her child ran toward her. Jenn thought she had made eye contact when the pair ran straight through her. Not around her, but through her. Jenn clawed at the mist. She saw the tail end of it begin to be sucked down the crack in the road. Her mind screamed as she felt herself be pulled toward that small yet deep abyss.

“This wasn’t what I meant when I prayed for an adventure,” she sobbed. Prayers and promises flowed from her like water until the darkness finally took hold.

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