Escape – a short story

Hello again,

It’s been a long time. I intend to start posting semi-regularly again, so here we go! I wrote  a (very) short story the other night. You know those moments when you’re lying in bed, but instead of feeling tired you get a surge of inspiration and if you don’t get it all out immediately it will surely evaporate and you’ll never get another chance? It doesn’t happen often for me, but it did on Thursday, and I thought I might as well put it out there.

Escape

Jan 18 2018 

The sound of gold pieces jingling inside large packs was nearly loud enough to get the attention of the guards stationed around the grand house. If it were not for the extravagant fountain in the connecting courtyard, the thieves may very well have been heard making their escape. The three men ducked behind a wide column each as they waited for the courtyard guards to change shifts. The overconfident, or under trained, guards were very lax in their routine and paused to speak with those relieving them before heading inside. The thieves expected this and when the guards were sufficiently distracted they seized the opportunity to scurry along the courtyard wall to some shrubs large enough to hide behind. Once there the leader of the operation picked up and threw a rock the size of a crab apple over the 10 foot high courtyard wall. This signalled the fourth accomplice to throw  a rope ladder over the wall so that the thieves could climb out of the courtyard and to freedom. 

The Rock was thrown and the ladder was being positioned, but Lyma the thief was distracted by something in the middle of the courtyard. Or rather someone.  

The owners of this grand house had a bizarre style of decor that mixed noble riches and beauty, such as the ornate gold painted fountain, with dreary, bloody macabre, such as the old man who hung strapped to a wooden cross, crucifixion style, about 15 feet away. The dirt below him was stained red with his blood. His tunic was in tatters and only covered the bare minimum.  It seemed as though he had been there for several days, presumably without food or water. He looked to be dead already until his head lifted slightly and looked directly into Lyma’s eyes.  

Lyma’s heart stopped. Even through the shrubbery that hid them and the darkness of a night with no moon, somehow this man stared straight at Lyma, straight into his eyes and then into his soul. A voice inside Lyma said “This is not where his story ends. Go to him.” Lyma took off his pack and set it on the ground. 

“What are you doing?” hissed his accomplice Nerij. The leader, Ro, was already climbing the rope ladder, but stopped to look back and give a frustrated motion to the top of the wall. 

“Take my bag, I’ll be right back.” And before either could protest further, Lyma snuck around the shrubs and ran as quickly, quietly, and as unseen as possible to the hanging man. He took out his dagger and cut the ropes binding the man’s legs then arms, and held him around his middle as he sunk to the ground. The man gave painful moans as his joints and muscles moved back to natural positions for the first time in days. And when Lyma touched the man’s back he felt thick cuts with dried blood and welts from being whipped. He was incredibly light, even after being starved he still appeared heavier than he felt. Lyma held the man against his chest, one arm under his shoulders, the other under his legs. Again he ran as discreetly as he could back to the cover of shrubbery and the rope ladder. Nerij was almost to the top now. His pace was slow because of the second bag. Lyma shifted the man to a potato sack position over his shoulder so that he could climb the ladder.  It was awkward and slow going until they heard a cry from the guards. 

“Hey! You there! Stop! Intruders! Sound the alarm!” Suddenly the quiet night air was a cacophony of chaotic cries, heavy and fast footfalls, bells ringing and horns blowing! 

Nerij, Ro, and Clintan, the fourth, were screaming at Lyma to hurry up! They told him to drop the man he was carrying, to jump down the outside of the wall, that they would leave him if he didn’t move fast enough. But Lyma held firmly onto the man and somehow made it over and down the wall and then down the hill into the town proper and through their escape route until they reached their destination: a warehouse filled with disorganized crates and barrels, and a hidden back entrance that led into an apartment building with a basement, and another hidden entrance to an old tunnel that led out of town into a ravine know for it’s sink holes and where city guards did not dare to go. These four thieves however knew the safe paths through the ravine to a series of hidden caves. There they rested. All out of breath and ready to collapse. They had lost the guards far back, but didn’t allow themselves to slow their pace until they were completely safe. In the morning they would divide their loot. Some would pay off outstanding debts, some would go to needy families, much of it would be spent on gear and supplies to travel far away from this town, and the rest would be to spend on their new lives on the road to adventure. 

All four boys sat catching their breath and letting their minds wander and dream about the wonderful new life that awaited them. They passed around a water skin that they had stashed in the cave, along with some lanterns, food and bedrolls for the rest of the night. Only when they had quenched their thirst and could breath easy did they turn their attention to the stranger that Lyma had brought with them. Lyma sat next to the man, propping him up and against his chest, across his lap, like a woman would nurse a child. Lyma brought the water skin to the man’s mouth, and even though he seemed barely conscious, he took a sip, and then another and another. The stranger drank and as the four boys watched by the flickering light of the lanterns a change began to happen. The withered, starved, beaten and bloodied old man began to transform. His sallow skin took on a glowing, golden complexion. His limbs shortened and he became not so gangly, but petite and proportioned, with curves at the hips. His greasy white hair grew long and thick and a dark, dark brown. And his face became that of a young woman, beautiful even under all the dirt and blood that remained. The thieves stared in awe, and wondered if this was really happening? The girl slowly opened her eyes. They were big and green, and when she looked into Lyma’s eyes his heart swelled and his breath caught in his throat. Her eyes told a story. It was a story of hardship and pain, but it ended with thanks. “Thank you” her eyes said. “You’ve given me life.” And she gave the same look to each boy in turn, and each one felt the same overwhelming feeling. Perhaps the feeling a mother has for a newborn, grateful for this miracle and a never-ending need to protect and cherish and love. 

Later, on the road, after the girl had healed enough to tell her tale, the boys learned her truth. She was of the Forest People, magic users who lived off the land and stayed away from city humans. One day she had wandered too far and was captured by bandits. In the night, while imprisoned in an iron celled wagon on the way to the city to be sold, she transformed herself into an old man. When the bandits awoke she told them that the young girl was an elf and tricked him, a wandering beggar, into taking her place and in exchange she would grant him a great fortune. The bandits laughed at the  beggar’s stupidity, but remorsed at their own lose. After capturing more prisoners from nearby small villages, the bandits took everyone to the city. All prisoners were sold, except for the old man. He was given to the Lord and Lady of the grand house to be on display in their courtyard while he died. And that is where he stayed. He was beaten and whipped and used as target practice as he hung. For almost a whole week he hung there. She hung there. She wouldn’t break her spell because humans would do even worse to her if they knew the truth. Many stories were told to young Forest People about kinsmen being dissected and experimented upon by greedy humans. So she stayed there, resigned to death. Until she felt a strange presence one night. A heart not full of hate, but love. She reached out with her feelings and asked for help. 

A long time later she would return to her people in the Forest and tell them stories of her travels with the four humans who rescued her. 

The end.

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I’m Back!

I’m happy to say that I have enough free time now to get back to posting. I’ve been catching up and writing for the last couple of days, but I wasn’t able to post because for some reason our internet is down at the apartment. I am very suspicious of why, and am not confident that it will be fixed any time soon. Therefore I have set up shop at my local library. If you’re around the Kelowna Okanagan Regional Library on Ellis street come say hi. We’ll have a secret password that you can yell from across the room if you’re not sure if it is me. How about “Books!” in memory of Troy and Abed when they both have a crush on the hot librarian. Or you could just say my name. And maybe don’t yell it because it is a library.

It’s Everyone’s Fault But Mine

I spilled jasmine tea on my laptop keyboard earlier today while watching The 100 on Netflix with my roommate M. Now the keyboard is all screwy. At first the left side typed the wrong letters, or with added symbols, but now whenever there is a space to type anything, including the URL bar or an open start menu search bar, it just repeatedly types ssssssssss. So now I have to blog from my phone which is much less fun. If anyone out there can suggest a fix I would really appreciate it and love you forever. My first thought was to take apart the laptop and look at the hardware, but who am I kidding? Sure I’ve seen it done before, but not with my laptop and what would I possibly be able to accomplish if I did? I kind of tried to reset the default keyboard settings through the control panel, but I think I did it wrong or didn’t do enough.

Bah! Anyway. I’ll probably pay to get it fixed. It’s not  nice laptop and other people would take this as a sign to get a new one, but I’m cheap and I’m saving up for my trip this summer. Sooooo yeah. I’m just annoyed now and wanted to vent a little bit. And it took me so much longer to write this on my phone than it would have taken on my computer. Byyyye.

A New Year

It has been just over a month since I have posted anything. The main reason for that is a depressing event that happened on December 6th just outside my hometown. It was a Saturday and early that day I had spoken to my mom on the phone. She told me that she and dad were going to the office Christmas party that night and that the roads were very dangerous. Temperatures had dropped after rain and snowfall so the road was icy and there was a fog. Naturally I told my parent to be careful when driving and I worried about their safety until something took my mind off of it. That night, around 10 or 11, I saw a Facebook post that there had been an accident on the highway between my hometown and the town where my parents were going to the party. I started to panic and called my parents. No one answered at the house. Neither of them answered their cell phones. I panicked more. I tried telling myself that they are always bad at answering their cell phones or they just left the cell service area on the way home and that they would be home soon. I didn’t go to sleep, I just waited for them to call me back. So they could tell me that everything was okay and the world hadn’t just ended.

They did. About an hour after I called them. They made it home fine. I was so relieved. They said that they saw where the accident happened and that the road was closed so they had to take a detour that added about 45 minutes to the drive. They didn’t know who was involved in the accident. Until the next day.

They called me late in the evening on Sunday. My roommates and I were watching Back to the Future part 1. I had a feeling that this call was to tell me who was involved in the accident. It was. Mom asked “Do you want to know who died?” “Do I know them?” I asked. “Yes.”

It was a girl that I went to high school with. That I had spent a lot of time with. We had done plays together and hung out at lunch. We had the same friends. We were the same age. I had gone to her birthday one year. We had classes together and read the same books. We were the only two people in our school to compete for a district scholarship in the theatre division when were in grade 12. We both won. We did a skit together that she had written for a variety show that was to raise money for a group of kids going to New York for a week. She wasn’t even going on the trip, but she still wanted to help and be involved. She was a super cool person. I had seen her a couple weeks prior when I was working at a Halloween store and she and another girl from high school came to a zombie walk that the store was hosting. It was really cool to see her again. And now my mom was telling me that she was dead. Along with her mother. My friend was driving and they collided with an oncoming car. The people in the other car went to the hospital, but they recovered. No one was drunk or high, the road was just shitty, and it was at a spot where it was easy to go fast if you wanted to. It was just bad luck.

A few years ago another girl that I went to school with died in a car accident. As heartless as it is to say, her death did not affect me. We were not friends and she had been driving drunk in town late at night. She crashed her car when she fled from a road block where police where testing for impaired drivers. Yes it was sad because some of my old friends were sad, and I knew that her parents’ lives were ruined, but I never shed a tear for that girl. Not like I did for my friend.

Mom and dad told me to tell my roommate so she could comfort me and I said I would after I hung up, and I meant to. But once I said goodbye to my parents and put down my phone I couldn’t move. I stayed in the same position on my bed hugging my knees to my chest for hours. I cried so much. Even when I stopped crying and wanted to get up and talk to my roommate I couldn’t. I just started crying again. Eventually my roommate came to say hi, probably goodnight actually, and saw that something was wrong. I told her in my high, gaspy, squeaky voice that I have when I cry that makes it really difficult to understand what I’m saying. She comforted me. She said all the right things. She stayed with me for a while and offered me tea and ice cream and chocolate. I didn’t want anything. My body felt broken. A bit later she left so that I could go to sleep, and the next morning and every day after that for about a week, she would ask how am doing and progressively I would get better. A week after the accident was the funeral. Pardon me, the Celebration of Life. My roommate came with me and my mom for support and I was very grateful that she did. I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would, but that is partly because half the service was a pastor spurting the same Jesus crap analogy over and over at a funeral for two women who were not religious enough to go to church ever. I haven’t been to many funerals, but I haven’t liked any of them, and it is always the religious guy’s fault. Same with Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Even though we spent a lot of time together, especially in our senior year, I didn’t know her that well. I liked her because even though she had reasons to be down, she wouldn’t be. She was an optimist and a joker. She was a very talented actor, artist, writer, and probably other things I don’t know about. She quoted a lot of South Park. She was groovy. She wore a fedora sometimes. She had a really long tongue. She could bend her middle finger back until it touched the back of her hand. She had good school spirit and always dressed up on theme days. She gave good hugs. Because I knew she was amazing I always felt competitive with her in theatre. I thought I was better than her at acting and directing. I wasn’t. I’m not.

The whole thing put the fear of death in me pretty well for a while. A lot of the reason why I cried so much and was so sad was just the fact of knowing that anyone can die at any time for no reason. And no matter their age. I already drive very cautiously especially in the snow, but now it’s even more so. I really don’t want to die in a car crash. Afterwards I started reading books that I knew would depress me, and watched tv shows that were not heavy on the funny. Usually that is not the case, but it seemed important to not try to make myself happy. I am still sensitive to people making jokes about death, but I don’t say anything. I still get sad sometimes, but I hold back the tears. I’m not bottling it up, I’m just dealing with it by myself.

Even though we’re supposed to believe that a young life is worth more than an old life and even though her and her mother’s passing was so awful to so many people, I am still grateful every day that it was not my parents who died that night.

I will miss my friend for the rest of my life and every time I am on a stage I will be thinking of her. Goodbye Emma. You are missed.

A Blog?

I’ve been wanting to start a blog for a few years now. I always backed out because I didn’t think I’d have anything interesting to write about. That is most likely still true, but I figure that I’ll get better with practice and who cares if strangers don’t like what I’m spewing?

You know when you think you’re really good at something as a kid, but as you grow up you meet people that are so much better than you at that thing? For me that was drawing. I used to draw all the time. I wanted to be an artist. I had a few things that I drew obsessively: dragons, cats, and girls that I made up back stories for that usually involved magic or some other fantasy element. When I got to high school I met a girl who was so talented in every aspect of art. I was so jealous. She was an amazing person besides that so I couldn’t really be mad. My guilty pleasure was the fact that in math class she asked me to re-explain just about every lesson in an easier to understand way. The point is that I still like drawing, but instead of trying to be a really good artist I just draw very 2 dimensional cartoons. The characters are weird little creatures that no one else could accidentally make themselves, so I take pride in being creative, even if I’m not talented. I bring it up now because publishing some of my cartoons was a main reason that I wanted to start a blog a few years ago. So maybe one of these days you’ll meet Molg, and his evil nemesis…

Why Wii Netflix hurts my feelings

When using Netflix on a computer or an Xbox it will automatically play the following episode of the TV show that you are watching (up to about 4 episodes in a row). This is great for people like me who enjoy binge watching large sections of a series in one day. But Wii Netflix does not operate this way. Instead of enabling my habit of being wholly unproductive on the couch all day (complete with eating mass amounts of terrible food and not exercising) it requires you to manually select the next episode to be played. Every time I do this I can feel the judgement and the disgust from the stupid little “on” light of the Wii console. I have a fear that one day after watching more than five episodes in one sitting, when I try to start the next one the console will say “I’m afraid I can’t do that, Paopique,” and then I will cry in a ball of shame and sadness that only 3 episodes of Buffy can cure. I guess it makes some sense that the Wii, the family console, would promote not spending all day inside on the couch. Whereas a computer or Xbox, which often serve people that are already more inclined to spend several hours at a time gaming, would be totally fine with me watching the last seven episodes of Bojack Horseman season 1 in one day while I wait for my roommates to come home so I can do something actually fun. So fuck you, Wii Netflix. I don’t need your judgement. And by the way, why is rewinding or fast forwarding so hard for you? If you were not on my roommate’s console that I can use for free, and if I didn’t already have a Netflix account from back when I had my own Xbox, I would never look at you again. Well, until I have a craving to play Tanks! in Wii Play. Oh lord that game is good.