Coming from the Attic for you today is the first part of a story series I’ll be posting throughout the summer entitled Darkstone Island. (If you didn’t catch the synopsis you can find it on my author’s FB page.)
I have to share first that this story is really special, because there are seven volunteers who willing put themselves at this author’s mercy. 😛 That’s right. These characters are based off of actual real live people. *gasp*
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that while I tried to keep true to most of their characteristics, this is a made up story and not reflective of these people’s real life choices or ice cream flavor preference. (If I write your character hating chocolate ice cream but you love it in real life, I’m sorry, but you probably saved someone’s life by hating chocolate ice cream so…)
Thank to all who volunteered for this fun twist on a story project. Now hang on for the crazy ride. 🙂
With that being said… here’s part one – Reluctant Heroes.
Elizabeth’s eyes flitted open to a golden light.
The air was warm. Snug and comfortable on her bed of soft grass she liked the way the playful breeze swung through the leaves overheard, making the leaf shaped shadows dance with the golden light that determined to shine in her eyes.
“What a lovely dream.” She thought as she closed her eyes and sucked in the smells of spring. Stretching her fingers through the thick patches of grass, she wished to never wake up. That’s when a singular icky insect skittered across the back of her hand. The poor bug –who was just minding his own business — was promptly slung into the air for the ride of his life as Elizabeth jerked into a sitting position and inspected her hand for bug cooties.
“Bugs are so gross,” She muttered under breath, rubbing the back of her hand on her purple jeans. She paused, and took a second intake of the grass, trees and light cascading down through swaying branches above. She half heartedly chuckled. “This is some dream. So…real.” Her words fell empty on the silent meadow in which she sat.
The pitter-patter of buggish wings banging against themselves crept up behind her. She flipped around just in time to see the flash of a large species of insect zip inches from her face, and dive toward the shelter of the trees. Elizabeth scrambled to her feet looking to and fro for anymore tiny assaultants. It was then she realized how awake she felt. Too awake to be dreaming.
Where in the world was she? She swallowed the panic rising from her heart to her mind and searched the meadow for anything familiar. Not a house, road or palm tree in sight. What in the world could she have done in the middle of the night to end up here? She’d never slept walked before, that she knew for a fact. At least she thought so. She’d have to check with her mom to verify that fact.
The crisp crunch of someone or something’s foot crushing a branch came from behind the thick tree trunk’s to her left. Elizabeth froze like a hunted rabbit; her heart pounding in her ears as the thoughts to run or stand as still as a stature warred within her. Standing still as a stature won over finding herself incapable of moving a muscle as it was.
Except for her eyes. She scanned the trees from which the noise came with alert anticipation. If it was a giant bug she just knew she’d scream.
Fortunately for Elizabeth –and all bugkind –it was not a giant insect. Instead it was the face of a young woman that peered from behind the bark of a gnarled oak; looking just as scared of Elizabeth, as Elizabeth was of her.
Upon seeing that it was nothing to be grossed out by, Elizabeth decided it was up to her to put them both at ease.
“I don’t mean to sound insane, but I’m a bit lost. Can you tell me where I am?” she asked.
The young woman stepped out from the cover of her tree, clutching her hands in front of her and eyeing Elizabeth with wariness that contraied her gentle looks. She opened her mouth as if to speak and then closed it again. Taking one last glance around the meadow she stepped closer.
“Actually I’m trying to figure out the same thing,” she said.
Elizabeth huffed, shoving her glasses up the bridge of her nose. “Wait, so we’re both lost and confused. Are we sure we’re not dreaming the same dream together? How’d we end up here anyway? And where is here?!” Her voice rose with each question.
“Don’t panic, we’ll figure it out,” the young woman said. She stepped further into the clearing, stopped short of where Elizabeth stood and gasped. “Maybe we’ve been kidnapped.”
Elizabeth snorted. “You’d think we’d remember something about the kidnapping if that’s what really happened.”
The young woman sighed. “I’ve always wanted to be kidnapped. It’s been on my bucket list for, like, forever.”
Elizabeth eyed her new found, lost companion. Maybe she should think things through before sticking with a girl who’d obviously been knocked over the head. Hard. It would be best to make her escape now while she could; no strings attached.
“Yeah, I’m just going to…” Elizabeth stopped, noticing how wide the young woman’s eyes had become, staring wildly at something over Elizabeth’s shoulder. It was one of those moments you know you should flip around as fast as you could before the unexpected hits you over the head, but instead Elizabeth ran for the trees in front of her. She didn’t look back so there was no chance to be haunted later in dreams by whatever was behind her.
“Elizabeth of America,” a voice gentle as a warm summer breeze called.
The voice stopped Elizabeth in her tracks and she turned around. The call had come from a most elegant woman with flowing blonde hair, dressed in garb you might find at a Medieval festival. She wore flowers in her hair and seemed real enough, but there was one odd thing about her that made Elizabeth question again if she was indeed dreaming. The woman appeared transparent. She was there, yet you could see the grass and trees and golden light past her; almost through her. It was as if she was being projected. Elizabeth bit her lip, looking for a source that could project such a clear image, but there was none to be found.
“Elizabeth of America and Britt of America, welcome to Darkstone island,” the woman said, extending her hands toward the two dumbfounded girls. “Lady Darkstone has chosen you two to be a part of the very important task…”
“Hold up,” the young woman –or Britt as Elizabeth found her named –held up her hand in protest. “Chosen us, you mean like we’re chosen ones, like in all those novels you read about the only one special person in the world that can save the universe, like that kind of chosen one? Or just like picked the first two people she saw off the street?”
The transparent lady frowned at Britt and continued, “She has chosen you two to be a part of the very important task of restoring life and brilliance to Darkstone island. You will– ”
“Darkstone island, is that where we are? And where exactly is that?” It was Elizabeth who asked this time.
Britt wrapped her arms around herself. “Yeah and if you don’t mind me asking, who are you anyway?”
The girls stared at their strange communicant.
“As I was saying, you will– ” the woman continued.
“Do you think she’s real?” Elizabeth whispered, stepping closer to Britt.
“That’s what I was going to ask,” Britt said. She examined the woman through her squinted gaze. “Maybe if we poke her we’ll find out.”
“Girls, please,” the woman tried in vain to speak.
“Why don’t you poke her and see,” Elizabeth gave Britt a shove forward.
Britt ground her heels into the dirt. “I’m not going to poke her, who knows what will happen if I do.”
The transparent woman rolled her eyes. “So much for my grand appearance,” she muttered under breath.
With a swoop of her hands, she spun a circle and vanished from the clearing. Elizabeth shrieked while Britt stared wide mouthed. Before either of them could makes heads or tails of what just happened, the buzz of wings pounded in Elizabeth’s ears once more. She flipped toward the noise and batted at the air.
“Please stop and listen,” The woman’s voice flooded the clearing.
Elizabeth froze mid swing and observed the tiny flying thing in front of her face. Why it wasn’t a bug, but a tiny human with wings. Same hair, flowers and garb as the woman who had stood before them moments ago.
Elizabeth extended one finger to point at the phenomenon. She took a deep breath. “It’s a fairy.”
“I noticed,” Britt said in a weak tone.
The fairy flew between the two of them, both girls shrinking away as if the tiny creature was some sort of germ.
“Now,” the fairy said, idling in the air at their eye level and placing her hands on her hips, “If you would be so kind as to stop interrupting me, I can finish delivering her Grace’s message. It’s been one hundred years since I’ve recited it and if I don’t spit it out soon, I’ll likely forget an important detail which will end in your deaths so listen up.”
“Did she say death?” Elizabeth gasped.
Britt nodded. “Yeah, we should probably hear her out.”
The fairy took a deep breath. “Lady Darkstone has chosen you two to be a part of the very important task of restoring life and brilliance to Darkstone island once again. You will need to travel through the Fearsome Forest to the Round Lake. In the center of the lake, you’ll find a tiny island where a darkstone has been growing, finally ready for harvest.” The tiny creature used her hands to paint invisible pictures in the sky of the places she spoke.
“Once you’ve retrieved the stone, you must take it immediately to the top of Mount Luminescence where Lady Darkstone will be awaiting your arrival. But beware of corrupted creatures who will stop at nothing to keep the Darkstone from being taken to Mount Luminescence. Remember not to fear, Lady Darkstone has paired you up with the most trustworthy companion; each other,” she paused to raise both delicate hands, one toward Britt and the other toward Elizabeth.
And…” the fairy stopped short, wrinkling her tiny brows.
“And…. and what?!” Elizabeth shrieked.
“I was supposed to recite something about the Fearsome Forrest, I’m certain of it,” she tapped her miniscapual chin.
Britt and Elizabeth exchanged glances. The fairy clenched her fists and squeezed her eyes shut.
“What exactly is a corrupted creature?” Britt dared interrupt the fairy’s concentration.
The tiny human gupled in air as if she’d been holding her breath too long. “I can’t remember the rest of the recitation,” she bit her bottom lip, clasping her hands behind her, looking more a shy tween than the elegant creature she was. As if remembering her two listeners she shrugged and took back on her prestigious composure.
“You’ve been given what you need to start the journey. Now it’s up to you two to complete this task.”
Elizabeth cocked her head. “I don’t see why we have to go get your darkened stone. Can’t you fly to Round Lake and get the rock yourself?”
The fairy shook her golden hair. “None of the creatures here dare touch the stone. It’s connection with our world comes at far to great a cost. However, bringing humans from your world has been the only way to get the stones to Mount Luminescence without causing anyone unneeded harm.”
“What happens if we refuse?” Elizabeth asked.
The fairy narrowed her eyes. Casting a glance over her shoulder she leaned in. “It’s only a matter of time before the corrupted creatures find your location. They won’t think twice about checking to see if you actually have the darkstone on you yet or not. It’d be wise to get a leg up if ya gather my meaning.”
The fairy smiled a dazzling, tiny smile, pulling a small object from behind her which, poof, grew to about a human sized fist and floated in the air all aglow. “This is a Lightrock. Sent by Lord Lightrock himself, it will guide you on your way.”
Of course it was, thought both Elizabeth and Britt.
“And now, I must go before your destined path and make sure your guards are in place.” With that, the fairy bowed and flitted away.
Elizabeth stared at the —ahem –Lightrock and shook herself.
“Okay, well, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to find a way off this quirky island,” she said turning from the floating rock and surveyed her surroundings for the best plausible escape from all this nonsense.
Britt stepped away from the obscure glowing rock, but it swayed as she did. Britt froze, while Elizabeth took two steps further from the Lightrock. The glowing thing swayed in her companions direction.
“I don’t think it’s going to be that easy to just leave,” Britt said, warily eyeing the personified object. “That rock really wants to go with us.”
The Lightrock –not to be misunderstood –jerked away from the girls in a giant swoop and started blinking rapidly. Britt cocked her head. “On second thought, I believe it really wants us to follow him…her…it…whatever.”
Just then a screech peeled through the warm air. Like a dying cow. Not nearby. But not nearly far enough away in the girl’s opinion.
“What was that?” Elizabeth said, flipping toward the general direction of the unearthly noise.
“Just taking a stab in the dark and guessing a corrupted creature,” Britt said.
The Lightrock stopped it’s desparte blinking long enough to circle the petrified girls and dart aways down the path ahead.
“Seeing as how I don’t know of the closest exit, and that the Lightrock doesn’t seem to like that shrieking anymore than I do, I believe I’ll follow… ugh… this rock need a name,” Britt thought for just a moment, tapping her chin. “Sparkles! That’s what we’ll call you!”
Elizabeth laughed at her rock naming companion. “Hurry up and lead us out of this miserable place, Sparkles, before we’re eaten alive.”
Sparkles glowed brighter with pride and darted off into the trees. Britt and Elizabeth exchanged a glance before dashing off after the rock. Sparkles flew surprisingly fast; for being a rock. It took a lot of huffing and puffing on the girls end to keep up with the glowing stone as it zipped around trees, stopping only when then girls lost sight of their guide.
They heard the dying cow again, but this time it was further in the distance to their utter relief. Finally Britt pulled up alongside a tree, and gulped in great amounts of oxygen. “If I’d of known we were going for a run I would’ve woke up earlier to go for a warm-up jog.”
“You do realise,” Elizabeth said, stopping beside Britt, clasping her knees and leaning over them. “That following this rock– ”
“Sparkles,” Britt corrected.
“Yeah, following Sparkles means we’re agreeing to go to the circular lake and retrieve their valuable stone right?” Elizabeth wheezed a moment more before straightening and pushing her glasses further up her nose.
A stab of fear zipped through her middle as she eyed the Lightrock. How’d she end up here anyway? Why couldn’t this Lady Darkstone have chosen someone else to retrieved her precious stone. And not to be disrespectful to her ladyship, but she wasn’t so sure the Lady had matched her up with the most compatible companion. She eyed the huffing, red cheeked girl next to her. The girl that named rocks after glitter and had kidnapping on her bucket list for pete’s sake.
Elizabeth shoved her fist across her nose. It sounded like Britt was more the type for this adventure thing than Elizabeth was, so why was she picked? Perhaps her ladyship made a mistake.
Elizabeth shook her head. Now she was even thinking like this whole thing was real. It couldn’t be.
The Lightrock swooped right in front of Elizabeth’s face, making her jump. “Watch it, Sparkles,” she mumbled.
The rock blinked and shot off towards the trees across the clearing. Britt moaned and slowly started trudging after it. She stopped, halfway to the trees where the Lightrock had disappeared and turned back. “Coming?” she asked, her brow raised in earnest. Obviously Britt was swallowing this thing whole.
Elizabeth met her companions eyes. She wanted to dig her Converse into the dirt and refuse to budge, but she couldn’t. So she did the only sensible thing a human could do. Sighed and followed the Lightrock.
Racing through the trees for what seemed like hours did wonders to ones respect for long distance runners. That and to your spleen which Elizabeth was convinced she’d pulled the previous hour. And yet, unrelenting the Lightrock –opps –Sparkles continued to charge ahead. Elizabeth was tired of following the glowing thing that led them nowhere but through never ending trees.
She was on the verge of putting her foot down to this whole silly thing, when she heard the distinct sound of waves lapping upon a shore. A moment later the girls burst out onto a long, curving beach. The grassy woods quickly gave way to the sandy shore, with sand of the white kind, mixed with a sort of pink pebble. Just as she thought she’d heard, gentle waves flowed onto the beach, making a pleasant splashing sound before slipping back out into the great sea beyond.
Elizabeth was tempted to take off her shoes and run to the edge of the sea where she could dip her sweating, sore feet in the cool water. Unfortunately for her though, Sparkles had no intentions of taking them down near the water. In fact the rock kept near the treeline, entirely avoiding the beach.
Elizabeth frowned, taking big clumsy steps in the soft earth behind Britt who ever eagerly followed their tour guide. This had not been her day. She glanced back out at the sea. And that’s when she saw it. A rowboat. Elizabeth squinted to be sure her mind wasn’t playing tricks on her.
Sure enough, “A boat.” she said, stepping out from the shade of the trees into the hot sun.
Britt gasped. “Wait. Sparkles isn’t leading us to the boat,” she said.
Elizabeth flipped around. “Look, when you’re stuck on an island and you see a boat, ya get in and row. No questions asked.”
Elizabeth dug her shoes into the sand and marched down the shore towards her lifesaver.
“Row to where?” Britt shouted.
Elizabeth looked beyond the rowboat at the endless waves. She had to admit that was a valid point. She threw her hands in the air. “Who cares! As long as it’s anywhere but here.”
Racing toward the boat she stopped at the edge of the water and took the welcoming sight in. It was small that was certain. And built kinda chunky. It seemed to Elizabeth that the boards carved to create such a vessel where thicker than most she’d seen and somewhat rounded instead of smoothed flat. As long as it didn’t leak she didn’t care what it looked like.
“Wait,” Britt came huffing up behind her.
“Change your mind?” Elizabeth cocked her head still unsure where she might find the oars. So far there was none to be seen.
“No. I just don’t think this is a good idea. Don’t ask me how we got here. But if we’re here, we need to stay on course. It’s the most likely for survival. At least that what all the life hacks on Pinterest keep telling me.”
Elizabeth flipped around. “I’m not staying on some crazy island running insane errands for some Lady who may or may not exists.”
Britt’s placed a hand on her hip. “You did see that fairy we were talking too right?”
Elizabeth raised a brow. “Uh yeah.”
Britt crossed her arms. “Well then Lady Darkstone must be real. Which means the danger we’re in has to be real.” She looked over her shoulder at Sparkles who stayed near the treeline, blinking its head off.
“Sparkles is not very happy that we’re down here.”
“Sparkles can just go retrieve the rock herself. I’m leaving.” Elizabeth took the two steps to the boat and set one foot over the side when she felt a warm hand on her arm.
The two girl’s gazes met. “I’m scared too,” Britt said. “But we can’t stay safe if we’re not together.”
Elizabeth grasped her strange companions arm. “Then come with me.”
Britt’s eyes darted from the treeline back to the boat. In the not so far distance the dying cow sounded it’s cry. Both girl’s tightened their grasp on one another. Britt bit her lip and nodded. Elizabeth released the breath she had been holding and climbed into the boat, pulling Britt in with her. There were no benches to sit on and still no oars to be found.
“Maybe they row themselves?” Elizabeth suggested giving the side of the boat a good kick.
The boat hissed in protest. Britt’s eyes went wide. One of the boards directly between the girl’s feet began sliding out of place. A sleek head with two bulging eyes appeared at the far end of what once was the board, opening its mouth to show off hundreds of tiny, sharp teeth as it hissed again at the girls. Elizabeth had seen these kind of eels at the zoo. The kind she preferred keeping the glass wall between her and it. There was no glass wall here.
“Get out quick!” Elizabeth shoved Britt toward the shore, which only succeeded in making her fall over.
The air filled with hissing and the boat slithered out from under them. The girls screamed as they were dropped into knee high water, Britt going under for a moment before she stood, dripping wet to face the creatures. Eels, snarling and baring their unfriendly grins surrounded the girls. They used their tails to stand on the sandy sea bottom and tower over the girls, looking down on their catch like they’d gobble them in a second. Which was the first concern on Elizabeth’s mind.
“Are these corrupted creatures?” Britt wailed, holding her fist in front of her defensively. A lot of good that would do against the razor sharp teeth. All those self-defense classes were suddenly going down the drain.
Eel slobber dripped on Elizabeth’s arm. If they were eaten, at least she’d only have to live with the guilt of getting them into this mess for two short, agonizing minutes.
Elizabeth looked up. Fifty or so huge bugs — scratch that; fairies –zipped in and around the eels. They wielded tiny spears all aimed at the teeth baring sea creatures. Which thankfully turned the eels attentions to the fairies and off the girls. The eels snapped their jaws at the fairies, who dodged the attempt at being eaten and poked the eels with their spears just under the chin. The eel would rear back and hiss most unpleasantly.
Elizabeth darted forward and grabbed Britt’s arm. She pulled them toward the largest gap between two eels. If they could just make it to the shore.
Britt screamed and went face first into the sand churned water. It nearly yanked Elizabeth’s arm out of socket, but she still held on to the girl’s wet arm. An eel glared down at Britt who coughed and sputtered. Elizabeth pulled.
“Watch out!” she grit her teeth and yanked.
The eel opened it’s jaw wider and went for the strike. Britt desperately swished the water to get to her feet. With a glass breaking scream, Elizabeth yanked her friend onto the shore. The eels teeth plunged into the shallow water. He bolted upward, spewing a mouthful of damp sand everywhere. He hissed as nastily as Elizabeth imagined the sand tasted.
The two companions shared a glance and raced for the safety of the trees. Sparkle met them with a swoop of triumph. The girl’s turned, panting, and watched as the fairies drove the eels, one by one, back into the deep sea.
Britt locked gazes with Elizabeth. “My knee gives out sometimes,” she panted. “You saved me back there.”
Elizabeth cleared her throat. She’d never been a hero before. What should she say? You’re welcome and flying off into the sky, cape swishing behind her would probably do. But she didn’t have a cape. Just a sweatshirt. And she definitely didn’t know how to fly.
“No problem,” an answer that would have to do for the time being. And who knew. If she stuck around this crazy island long enough, perhaps she would learn to fly.
Sparkles blinked and charged off into the trees. Britt’s face lit in a grin and she limped off after the special rock. Elizabeth used every ounce of discretion she had to not laugh at her soggy companion. No rest for the weary. Not even the heros. Head held high, Elizabeth followed.
What do you think will happen to Britt and Elizabeth? Stay tuned for Part Two!