Sunday, July 24, 2011

Taken

(This is a short story originally written for a time travel contest, edited to add a little bit more today for Michelle's Greenwoman blog and her First Sunday Short Fiction.  It's set in the world of The MirrorMasters, with a scene not shown in the novel. Enjoy!)

I’m running through the woods as fast as my legs can carry me. My heart pounds frantically in my chest, and my lungs are already screaming for air. Undergrowth tears at my dress and wrecks my boots. A branch tugs the bun from my hair, making it spill down my back in long golden waves. The hair framing my face is shorter, damp and sweaty with the heat, and it clings to my skin. Tears stream down my face, blurring my vision. I choke back a sob. I have to be quiet, or they’ll find me. They’ve already killed my sister. If they find me, they’ll kill me, too.

Along with the sound of crunching twigs and leaves beneath my feet, I hear footsteps behind me.  I spare a quick glance backward and catch sight of the boy my age--sixteen, or perhaps seventeen--who couldn’t stop his father from killing Lisa. He’s found me!

“Stay back!” I shout. But he doesn’t.

“Wait! We never meant...”

I don’t care what they meant. Lisa is dead, and nothing can bring her back. Desperately, I search the overgrowth along the path for a way through, a place to hide, but there’s nothing.  Finally I can’t run anymore. A wave of dizziness overwhelms me, and I know that I will faint. I cling to a tree for support, and only then do I see that I am at the edge of a cliff. I catch a glimpse of the sunlight sparkling on the ocean below. I will fall into that water and join my sister. At least I will be with her again, I think before the darkness takes me.

“Janice, wake up!”

My eyes flutter open, and I’m looking into the boy’s ice blue eyes. He saved me? He’s set me down on a bed in a building I recognize. It used to be the parsonage for my church. Any grogginess I felt upon awakening doesn’t last long because my fury chases it away, leaving my mind clear. I spring to my feet, glaring at them both.

The father watches me closely, on alert to keep me from escaping again. “We need your help.”

“Help? After everything you’ve done?”

“For that, I cannot begin to tell you how sorry I am. When your sister struggled with me, the weapon discharged and struck her.”

The boy crosses his arms and scowls. “I told you we shouldn’t have brought it, Dad! Leah warned us what would happen.” As he looks at me, his expression softens. Yet lines of worry still remain around his eyes. "You look so much like her."

“Brian, we had no choice. We couldn’t take the risk that something would prevent her from coming with us.” The man shifts his gaze to me, piercing me with an intensity that takes my breath away. Whatever they’ve done, they both appear aggrieved, as though they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Perhaps they do.

I narrow my gaze at them, crossing my arms. “Coming with you where?”

“To the future,” Brian answers, “and to another world.”

“That’s not possible.” I run toward the door, away from this madness. Unfortunately, the father is quicker than I am and blocks my escape.

Brian grabs me by the shoulders and fixes me with a piercing gaze. “We need you! A descendant of yours unleashed disasters that will tear my planet apart. Her sister Leah is the only one who can activate the device that can stop it. But if it doesn’t work, we need to evacuate everyone offworld. We need every available MirrorMaster, and we don’t have enough in my time. You are a MirrorMaster, with the ability to use mirrors to travel to other places and times. You can save lives by helping the evacuation effort.”

A thrill of hope rises within me. "You mean, I could save Lisa right now, before we go?"

Brian's expression crumples. He shakes his head slowly. "I'm so sorry, but whatever happens can't be changed. Even if you go back, you can't save someone who has already died, no matter what you try to change things."

Stunned and devastated, I don’t resist when Brian leads me to a cheval mirror in the corner of the room and places a palm to the glass. I gasp when the image ripples and shows a desert city that looks like it had been devastated by a tornado, a frozen land that once held palm trees, and finally a crystal castle high above a shimmering golden sea. I see a blond girl in a glass coffin in a mirrored room, then what appears to be a conference room of sorts. On the wall, there’s a portrait of a girl who looks like me standing with a handsome blond king.

“How far in the future are we going?” I ask, knowing now that I can’t refuse this.

“Over a hundred years. Now, focus on that room and make the glass disappear.”

I look into his eyes and see he’s telling the truth about everything. “All right.” When I try it, I’m shocked to find that it actually works. He guides me through the mirror. I have no idea what awaits me on this world, in this time, but it will be an adventure. I only wish that of all the lives I will save, Lisa’s could be one of them.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks, Cherie! Hmm...I may just have to add another chapter to this little story. But I can say what happens next will involve helping out with the evacuation effort, falling in love, dealing with danger in the form of some serious disasters, and finding out the stories behind everything she saw just before she stepped through the mirror into another world.

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