Finally, I’m back on Picture it and Write! and not surprisingly to those who read my stuff, this is a lengthy one. This is last week’s entry, and it gives you a peek at the other side of these magnificent structures, often romantic but seldom seen as sinister. I had fun with this one, I hope you do too!
The fluorescent bulb began its frantic flickering dance over two hours ago and was now taking a toll on my dusty eyes. Lifting my gaze up from the stacks of bills perched precariously along the edge of the desk’s age old surface. I did a full body stretch tilting the chair along with me, managing just barely not to tip it over. By the looks of it, this is the newest addition of furniture to the office in years. Fredrick gave a new meaning to frugality, and it’s beyond me how he intends to ‘start fresh’ and ‘renovate’.
An impulsive shout of laughter escaped my mouth recalling his animated speech in the lunchroom yesterday and his flat refusal to invest in a new stapler after, but I don’t care, Mrs. Uptight and Womanly wasn’t in today. I heard a rustling sound above my head. Chester, a smile crept along my lips. He was the resident time keeper, and apparently found me amusing. I wonder how many people the old coo-coo clock, perched on the topmost shelf Chester called home, had seen hunched over indecipherable handwriting that somehow managed to pass for legit receipts. Everyday I am losing faith in people, if they can’t write a darn how can I trust anyone, I’m weird that way I guess.
Without a warning there was an almighty crash outside and I ended up on the floor anyway. Gingerly, I stood up and made sure nothing seriously injured and it was no laughing matter. Little Jimmy popped a knee cap last week just by carting up a refill for the water dispenser, but then, it was widely agreed upon that ‘little’ Jimmy need to go on a diet. With everything intact I padded bare foot to the window and was greeted with great swirling clouds, dark phantoms against the twilit sky as if someone was stirring an electric concoction for a malady unknown. The impending storm came out of the blue as its often expected but there was something in the air, something other.
Just then a lightning zipped and zagged, slashing a scar across the already angry sky. A wave of energy hit me unawares. I felt the blood drain from my face, the last of my smile melting away as I stood there dazed and confused. I close my eyes and tried to anchor my senses. Who am I? Stella Macabe. Where am I? ‘The Daily Hoot’ headquarter. What’s happening? Nothing bloody good, that’s what. Storms like this don’t normally warrant such warnings, someone is tinkering with something powerful.
Oftentimes I can fool myself that the world it what it seems to be but I’m one of those people who can see it as it is, dark and deceptive. There aren’t may of us left and the uninitiated individuals They can find were pulled in to be trained and educated in the ways of our ancestors, our true secrets an etch in memory nearly completely eroded in in the landscape of time and myth to the world. My eyes flew open and I spun around and narrowed my eyes up at the clock that stood there inconspicuously. “Chester?” I called out to it’s occupant.
“Sweetness? I’m not coming out, just so you know,” came a muffled adult sounding voice, not squeaky as one would have expected a coo-coo bird to have.
“Fine, then don’t. Just tell me if it’s one of the nasties come out to play or a trouble maker.”
“Can you please be a bit more specific? I feel as if time is running out!”
“Since you said please, it’s appears to be a human or so the whispers say. Now, where could one of them go and cause a ruckus?” he said.
“You can’t mean … ”
“It wouldn’t be the first time, you know.” I sigh, he’s right.
Another splash of power hit me, an insistent prod. Magic was a fickle thing, waves come and go as it pleases and sometimes even the mundane can sense it and struggles to find a logical explanation for it. Déjà vu is the term humans allotted to the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has been experienced in the past, whether it has actually happened or not. What it is is the indication that a person is experiencing the brief glimpse of the future his or hers subconscious had been privy to. I don’t understand how that is but it’s not the only temporary quirk magic lends them, unfortunately.
Strange in its ways, just as even myself couldn’t explain why the trapdoor under my desk led to a subterranean tunnel when I was on the third floor. The door shut with a soft hiss above my head sending down a cloud of dust and dirt. Inside it was pitch dark. An amber orb lit into existence in the palm of my hand throwing the rough walls of hollow path in shady relief. I navigated though the twists and unexpected turns as careful as I could, the magic keeping it open is very old, I don’t want to chance it collapsing. It must have taken me five minutes to reach the notches embedded on the wall marking the end of the underground passage, ascending to the floor of the small stretch of trees.
A sharp slap of ocean breeze buffeted me as soon as I came up from a stump hidden in the bushes. The trees hid the cliff that tumbled abruptly into the Pacific. Just at the very edge perched a towering specter with a backdrop a canvas of vicious looking clouds glaring down with murderous intent. The lighthouse is a temperamental body, appearing when she so wishes to be seen. The ocean below cradles her spoils of illusionary mischief. The skeletons of the wreckage reveal their weary resting bones when she does, evidence of her voracious appetite.
The cross crowning her head lends false reassurance to the rare wonderer, if she had been a shrine of any kind in the forgotten past, today she is a desecrated woman while the shell of her gaunt beauty remained. I regretted not grabbing my coat, the temperature here bordered on frigid. I pity the curious idiot who decided it was a good idea to come up here in this weather. As I approached the entrance at the base a thin silvery mist enveloped me. My uneasiness grew even more, I hoped that I wasn’t going to walk in on a potential suicide attempt but the SOB better be alive or this would have been for nothing.
Anyone without a drop of magical blood couldn’t have been able to pass through the mist, someone let him or her in. It was too late to go back and get help now. Silently, the door swung open and I began my ascent to the very top. The lantern room was bathed in shadows but the silhouette of the man with his arms bracing the railing, his features partially visible. I approached cautiously, my footfalls audible not to startle him.
“Fred? Is that you?” I asked. He turned around and looked at me, a mix fear and wonder on his face. He was only two years my senior and usually appeared younger but as the flashes of lightening danced across him he looked years older, and much more tired. I began to regret my lightheartedness about his penny pinching.
“Strange, isn’t it? How I never noticed this place before. It’s … it’s really something …,” he trailed off.
“Yeah,” I breathed, “What are you doing here anyway?”
“I … I don’t know how I got here. I’m just weary of trying to make things better, you know? I’m not sure there’s a point of anything anymore.”
Oh no. No, no, no. That is not promising at all. I reached out and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Hey now, what are you going to do about it? The weather is messing with you, sweetie,” I murmured hopefully reassuringly. No response, so I went for blunt. “You’re not jumping,” I said firmly.
It was like a spell broke. He burst out laughing and raised his arm to rest a palm on my cheek, “Are you going to stop me if I am?” At the moment of his contact, a drum roll of thunder broke out.
The bastard, he thinks this is funny? “Yes,” I forced out. He squinted and looked closed and laughed some more.
“I’m sorry, Stella. Really. No, I’m not that hopeless -”
“Yet?” I cut in.
“With my wits about, I don’t think I’ll get to that point,” he sighed and then he winced.
“Are you well? Freddy, don’t lie to me, you’re a terrible lair.”
“You know the answer to that, so don’t you pretend not to. Added to everything else my mother is breathing down my neck to settle down. I keep telling her I haven’t found the one, but she’s stubborn,” he said, “What she doesn’t know is that I have an eye on someone for a while,” he smiled knowingly.
Yikes. No way, Jose. I took a step back and the tension I hadn’t notice before toned down, a tension belonging to neither of us. I let my gaze roam the room for another presence, there was none. Or so it seems. His smile got wider. His mom. I shivered, stubborn, possessive and warm, I wonder if my mother was like that. Must be nice.
“Well, I wish you luck with that but right now we should get back,” I told him with a blank face, “The storm’s going to get a whole lot nastier and we shouldn’t be here much longer.” There was a subtle shift of shadows to his right. “You go ahead, I’ll be a moment.”
Wrinkles creased his brows, “Are you sure? I don’t think so.”
“I am not going to be long, I know the way back. Go on, now.” I’ll make sure he returned safely.
Reluctantly, he left but I wasn’t alone. We had company the whole time. “What do you think you’re doing?” I hissed when I was sure Fred was far enough.
“Haven’t a clue what you mean,” came a deep male voice. I walked over to the source, but I found nothing but abandoned cobwebs.
“You lured him him here. Why?” I demanded through gritted teeth.
“He had no business inquiring about you, leaving you flowers or touching you,” he replied almost levelly.
“Why do you care? Forget that question. Leave him alone. What makes you think you have any business keeping tabs on me? Oh wait, that’s right; you bloody don’t!”
“Feisty, I like that,” I felt his smile on the side of my neck, lips and breath, a contrasting branding heat to the coldness. Well, that escalated pretty quickly. I turned around only to meet the darkness again. “Why don’t you ever show yourself?”
“I don’t need to. You’ll know me when you see me when that day comes,” a whisper in my ear. A shiver of a thrill raced through my blood. I would never let him know how I felt, never trust those unseen. But … I’ve always wondered. No. I’ve learned painfully not to given in to impulses, it only leaves you hurt and bleeding.
“If,” I retorted but my words were lost as the wind wuthered against me throwing me into strong warm arms. The real storm was here to party. The waves were crashing into the rocks at the bottom, the light house began to creak ominously, as if she was limbering for the dance sure to ensue.
“You must leave now, I don’t want you caught up in this. And yes it is my business, colleen. I saw you first,” another whisper, a swift kiss. In a second everything blurred. In another, I was in my office again, my hair still mussed from the wind, and oddly, very warm. My temper was even hotter. I rounded on the clock, “Chester, you tiny wicked ball of compressed sawdust! You said it was just a human! You know the Keeper had his fingers in this, didn’t you?”
While I stood there fuming, the coo-coo bird took his sweet time coming out, lounging on his perch. “You’re a fully grown witch, Stella, you could handle the situation,” was that a smirk on his wooden face? I glared and he snickered. If I could have thrown him out, clock and all, I would. It was time for this fully grown witch to get herself a cat.
P.S: A.S, if you’re reading this I can see significant similarities weirdly as is often the case to your pieces but I want to let you know before hand that this was in my head for the past week and though yours was inspiring I’ve never meant to intentionally plagiarize. Thanks.