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Into the Tale

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Copyright © 030315 by Karen Payze

Copyright © 030315 by Karen Payze

 

Vapours swirl up lazily from the hot coffee, fighting the endless fight against the cold night breeze. A breeze that plays with the pages of my book, flipping them one way then the reverse. I snuggle down under my blanket. I hear a voice, faintly, calling out my name. I yawn. Maybe I have been reading for too long. As I move to put the book aside, something catches my eye. A petal, floating gently on the breeze, waxes and wanes in front of my face. I rub my eyes. I have definitely been at it too long. The petal drifts down lands lightly onto the back of my hand. I study it for a moment. It certainly looks real. I reach out and touch it. It is soft, silky and so delicate. Carefully I pick it up and hold it close to my nose to get a better view. It’s pink, well, shades of pink but soft, candyfloss-shades of pink. My nose tingles from its intensely sweet scent. I turn the tiny specimen over and over, studying it from every conceivable angle. The shape is most irregular must there is a particular perfection to it that is hard to describe. Every vein of colour, every shade, every edge, every curl, appears to be purposefully made. And, as I look around my room, more petals, and more and more, dancing around the room. Each one unique.

 

I hear the voice again. This time a little louder. “Join me,” it is saying, over and over.

Is it…coming from the book? I squint down at the open page. I can see it. Right there, where the two sides of the book meet in the middle, a light of sorts, small at first but growing steadily. And a hand (of a woman?) stretched out…from within. “Come.” says the voice.

It is commanding rather than requesting and I find myself obeying. I grasp the hand. It is exceedingly warm – or mine is very cold. I close my eyes as the breeze intensifies. I can feel the blossoms swarming around me, enveloping me in their silk cocoon. My body trembles with excitement as the wind whips around me.

 

“Open your eyes.”

The voice is strong yet somewhat gentle at the same time. I open my eyes. In front of me is a well-worn dirt path. The winds has whipped up clouds of red sand. As it settles, the scene ahead unfolds in an array of colours. Row upon row of cherry blossom trees line the path. As I walk beneath them, the light of the sun becomes a swirl of pinks and whites. I turn to the sky and walk, open-mouthed, staring at the wondrous sight. The highest branches of each tree stretch across the path, desperately holding on to its opposite number, in an endless cycle of yearning.

 

I finally recall that I am not alone. I turn my head to the right. A young woman walks alongside me. She is tall with beautiful porcelain doll-like features. Her dress is of silk, in the same shades of pink and white as the blossoms around her. Her hair is long and dark brown. But each time the sun peeks through a gap in the branches above and dances on her hair, it illuminates it with shimmers of fiery red and sparks of golden yellow. That sun plays with her pure emerald green eyes and they sparkle mischievously.

 

She flicks her hair and skips ahead, stopping occasionally and beckoning me to come along. And I wonder what adventure awaits round the corner.

 

Copyright © 030315 by Karen Payze

Beyond Our Land

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Form: Story – incomplete
Topic: Places
Genre: Dystopian/Utopian Fiction
Word Count: 1,578 words.


I wrote this for the Terry Pratchett First Novel Award Competition for 2012 but by the time I saw that Mr Pratchett was holding this competition, it was already September 2012 and the competition closed on 31 December 2012.  It was hardly a good time of year to start writing a novel, which I would have to try to cram into three months.  It was asking too much.  This is what I managed of it.  I thought I would post it here.  Let me know what you think and if you think it’s worth pursuing.

Beyond Our Land

Rahjet took a deep breath and stepped out from the warmth, comfort and safety of his dwelling. The icy wind blasted his face and the solidified raindrops pounded the top of his hard hat. He squinted through the darkness, waiting, counting time ticking away. Out here, time slowed to a crawl. Every minute became ten minutes. Finally he saw the dim light flickering in the distance. It ebbed and flowed as it drew nearer to him. And then he heard the shouts of the men and the synchronised screams from the packs of wolf-dogs. At last the group was upon him. They pulled up with a flurry of snow and ice spraying out into the atmosphere. The front man jumped lightly from his cart and ran, in that padded puffin kind of way, which was the only way to walk with snow shoes, toward Rahjet. The man was completely covered in a thick full-body blanket, only his eyes peeked through tiny slits in the top but Rahjet knew immediately who this man was. “Brother,” he called as the man came to within hearing range.

The man raised his hand in greeting and, in a muffled voice replied, “Brother.”

The two men embraced, briefly. “How were your travels, Mahir?”

“Good, my brother. The wolf-dogs behaved themselves for a change.” And he laughed heartily.

Rahjet laughed with his brother. “You must all come inside for refreshments before we commence the return journey. The wolf-dogs can go into the sheds down the bottom. There is fresh water, heat and some meat for them.”

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