A couple weeks ago I entered a short story into a contest. I didn’t win, but it was a fun story to write. I had some beta readers that volunteered (from Twitter) who put in some time and effort to help polish it to perfection.
As promised here is the story that I wrote and submitted based off a provided prompt.
PROMPT USED: You are the protagonist of a novel-in-progress. Your author is experiencing intense writer’s block. You decide to have a word with the author to shake them out of it.
The Edge Of Nothing
By S.L. Mumby
Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved
My life is on the edge of nothing. I am actually kneeling on it. This is what I mean. Here is the last paragraph that was written by my creator.
—Aymara’s knees bore her weight, the hard edges of the broken rock bit into her skin and cut through. Her precious blood colored the cold stone a dark red. Gripping the edge of the ruined floor, she leaned forward. The meager light from above failed her eyes, below her there was nothing—
See? Nothing and that is where I have been kneeling and bleeding for the past two fricking months. Oh yeah, my creator made me a modest, but tough-as-heck good girl. I cannot even gosh-darn-it swear.
Please understand that I am grateful. However, the fate of my people is on hold, and it is frustrating. My journey to get to this nothing moment has been a heck-ride of danger, violence, and passion unanswered-but promised. I am supposed to be saving my one true love at the end, I do not want to, and that might be the problem. Hey! Creator! Are you listening?
After a cliché sigh, my creator answers. “Yeah, I’m listening. You’re supposed to love Rayvon, the chemistry is there isn’t it?”
“It is lust and nothing more! Loveless desire is horrible, and I hate it. I want love, real love.”
Pursed lips are the response my creator gives me. Every day my creator’s fingers touch the keyboard, every day there is a glint of promise that I will be released from this agonizing point and carry on with my harrowing tale. So I yell some more. “Let us go over it again shall we?”
“Go over what? I’ve been through the pages umpteen times, and I can’t see how to make you and Rayvon work through this. You’re too stubborn, and I think you blame him.”
I want up from this devil-inspired position. I need to think. I know what I want, I believe my creator does too and cannot see it yet. I grip the edge of nothing harder. “What if you look at it from my perspective?”
My creator’s eyes close. It is permission for me to go back and take a momentary reprieve from this frozen moment.
“Fine, show me your perspective.”
Giddy to be on the move again, I dart back to the moments that brought my journey to a standstill before I even got there.
“Aymara, hold on!” Rayvon said as his arm stretched as far as he could.
She wanted to yell at him to shut up, to stop suggesting the obvious and find a solution. Aymara’s grip failed her, and she slid another inch. She screamed. There was real fear in Rayvon’s near-black eyes. His anguish and pain are evident on his face. Aymara knew he loved her in his own way, but she couldn’t shake the notion that his emotions were selfless…
“Woah, wait a second.” My creator interjected. “I never wrote that you had doubts.”
“You should have. I mean come on, you want me to believe the magnificent, glorious Rayvon happens to fall for the plain “softer” woman with no fighting skills? The one that just happens to be able to sense the way to Evton-moor, and the only one who can find the stupid Faevitreus? He is too beautiful for words, you said so yourself. It was tacky and predictable. He has eyes for Tamora, and despite my love for him there is a grain of mistrust amidst us.”
“Just because Tamora is unconscious right at this moment does not make her any less what every woman wishes she could be. She is perfect, tough, sexy as sin and strong in every way possible. I am flawed, with an absurdly dark backstory. Why is she not the protagonist?”
My creator and I have had this conversation before. “Rayvon is a worldly man and men look at pretty things. He will choose you in the end.”
“Blech, he will choose me reluctantly. I do not want a man to choose me after considering others. I want a man who will jump over the edge of the wall on a rope to save me. Let me finish my point.”
“Fine. Go on then.”
Aymara’s hand burned as the broken wood she clung to shifted beneath her fingers. The floor of the old tower had cracked and fallen away beneath her feet. The others on the edge of and outside the tall tower room were still on solid ground. This tower hid the last key-fairy, trapped in a glass ball, called a Faevitreus. She huddled with her delicate iridescent wings wrapped about her body. She was one of six cursed fairies, and Aymara held her safe in her free hand. If the glass breaks, the curse will whisk away the fairy to hide her again in another prison of glass. The only way to free them is to smash them simultaneously on the altar of Evton-moor, the gate to the lands called Perish. Tracking down a reformed Faevitreus might take days, maybe weeks and they didn’t have the time to spare. The calling had begun, and those of age are making their journey to the portal to the Perish lands. Only those of age may enter Perish, and they die in the process.
“You’re the lightest, you must go.” Rayvon had insisted.
Aymara isn’t lightest of the group, Tamora is, but she’s out cold from a Dumas bite. Sometimes bravery hides stupidity. Aymara said to leave it be, it wouldn’t bother with the group if given a wide berth. No, Tamora couldn’t let a wee critter alter her course. Not even when Aymara said. “They live in fists.”
“Fists?” Tamora asked.
“As in groups of five bonded strongly. That one, the sentry,” Aymara had pointed at the cobalt blue snake, “is not alone.”
“Going around will take us an hour off our path. No, the path through these ruins leads directly to the Cliffside path up to the tower.” Tamora stuck her nose up and unsheathed her twin blades.
She had faced the snake and killed it. The other four dropped down from the archway above and one bit her. Tamora knows this area better than the entire group. She lived five years in the town near the tower of the damned. The tower is a place where the locals sent delinquent youth to spend the night and scare them straight. It is a place to fear and respect. Tamora was to lead the group through the ruins and up to the tower. Aymara’s anger at Tamora’s ego faltered under her fear. Many stories designed to keep children from misbehaving contain that tower. The bite of the snake is not fatal, but Tamora could be unconscious for up to three days. They can’t stay in the ruins while she wakes. The local inhabitants won’t be as kind as the Dumas snakes were. Dezan had been the one to hoist Tamora over his shoulder and carry her.
Dezan is the personification of the strong and silent type. He hails from a city far to the east where they grow tall, robust men with dark, handsome faces, pale green eyes, and soft white hair. When he speaks, it has meaning, and his voice is heavy with emotion…
“You’re not in love with Dezan.” My creator interrupts. “Don’t describe him as if you are. He is a statue of emotion. Devoid of love and out to find the master of Perish to help Rayvon kill him. He’s on a revenge quest for the loss of the one true love of his life. He vowed never to love again.”
“Right and that is why he is so kind to me, why he is always there when I need him? He held me and wiped my tears when my sister was burned at the stake. Dezan made me eat when I was too sad to breathe. Dezan showed me how to use a knife, a sword, how to get free of bindings. Dezan is the one who checks on me every night to see that I wake before Rayvon, so I am not chastised for being lazy. Dezan is the one who sits with me and looks at the moon and puts fragrant Starflowers in my hair.”
“Oh shit.” My creator sat up wide-eyed.
“Let me finish.” I insisted, and my creator nodded.
Four stories below Aymara, the floor creaked and moaned like living things. Aymara called out for Dezan. He was not far, he might hear. Rayvon reached again, inches shy of her hand.
“Hold on.” Rayvon pleaded. “I don’t know what to do.”
“I cannot.” Aymara cried out. “I need both my hands to hold on.”
Rayvon’s eyes darted from Aymara’s left hand to her right and back again. “I love you, Aymara. I will fight for you, and for what you believe in, but to do so, I need the keys. Throw me the Faevitreus!”
He had never before said the affectionate words that soared straight to her heart. If she died, they would need to find another who could sense the wee trapped fairies. That could take weeks or months even. Finding Evton-moor without her would be more straightforward than tracking the new Faevitreus, although difficult without Aymara’s ability to sense magic. Perish needed to be brought down, if her people were ever to be free. The thought of the monster men who resided in Perish dining on her mother and father stirred her anger and resolve. Rayvon was destined to destroy the power the lord of Perish holds over her world, their world, and she would do anything to see it come to light.
“Catch!” She hefted the ball into the air, and Rayvon caught it.
Rayvon leaned back on his heels and kissed the smooth surface. The fairy within grimaced at the audacity of his intimacy with her cage.
Unable to pull her body to grip with both hands, Aymara cried out in desperation.
“Git out o’ta way ya gibbit,” Dezan yelled at Rayvon.
Startled by Dezan’s sudden appearance, Rayvon dropped the Faevitreus. It rolled toward the edge and he lept for it. Dezan jumped over the side, ignoring the plummeting Faevitreus. His hand closed on Aymara’s arm as her bleeding splinter-filled fingers gave way and she fell. He pulled her into his arms and they dangled by a rope around his chest.
“I got ya ma swee, yer safe,” Dezan said, followed by a whispered promise, “I’ll na let ya go fer no-thin, no-ever.”
There was no time to cry, and no time to rejoice in his strong arms. The sound of glass breaking below and Rayvon’s rage-filled cry snapped Aymara from her moment of safety.
“Up ya go ma swee.” Dezan gripped the rope in one arm and lifted Aymara with the other. “Grab her!” Dezan yelled, and his voice shook from the strain. As Rayvon hoisted Aymara over the edge, the rope that held Dezan snapped and frayed.
“Help him!” Aymara shouted as she dropped to her knees.
Rayvon knelt at the edge and reached down. The rope snapped, and Dezan called out, “Aymaraaaa.”
He hit the floor below in a loud, thick crash. The wood gave way, and as Aymara made way to the edge, Dezan fell far below, into the depths of the tower and beyond.
Rayvon stood abruptly and turned his back to the hole. “We lost the Faevitreus.”
Aymara blinked and wiped tears. He was gone, her gentle friend and confidant. “No.” She pushed to her feet. “No.”
“We did. That blundering idiot made me drop it. We don’t have time for a delay like this.”
Aymara frowned at the man she had loved. His tender kisses seemed a distant, cold memory, too far to warm the chill in her heart from his cruel words. There wasn’t a rope burn on his hand. He didn’t reach for Dezan. He had plenty of time to grab the rope. If he had tried, the marks would mar his perfect hands.
“No.” Aymara gagged with grief and ran to the spiral stairs that circled the tower. With fleet feet, she made it to the ground and blinded by tears she pulled the door open. She could feel the Faevitreus below, it didn’t reform far, but it was there. The heavy rust-burdened door gave way to her frantic efforts, and she entered the room. The stone floor ring beneath her feet held a dark secret in its center.
“Oh by the stars.” Aymara hesitated. She could sense more than the poor imprisoned fairy below. “The stories are true.”
Aymara’s ability to sense and track magic is why she was chosen to help Rayvon. The magic below is dark and formidable. There was no mistaking that this was the secret door to Perish’s underbelly, the most terrifying place in existence. Stories and fables soaked the world of its horrors and the creatures that kept our world from the lands of Perish. Aymara rubbed her arms and gathered her courage. If the stories held true it was a way in and the magic she felt now would let nothing back out. She chose to ignore the fables of a sword called Satrebil made from dragon fire that could pierce the magic barrier.
Her hands shook as she inched toward the edge. Blood and a shred of Dezan’s shirt clung to the shards of wood still clinging to the rotted floor support. The force of his muscular body must have cracked some of the stone where the beams sat. Broken bits of stone littered the ground.
“No, Dezan, no,” she whispered as she lowered to the hard floor.
Aymara’s knees bore her weight, the hard edges of the broken rock bit into her skin and cut through. Her precious blood colored the cold stone a dark red. Gripping the edge of the ruined floor, she leaned forward. The meager light from above failed her eyes, below her there was nothing…
I am once again stuck on my bloody knees. At the point where my creator gave up on my story. My creator made a noise as if to clear a throat. “That is not how I wrote it. Rayvon declared his love for you, and you chose to give up your life for him, for the fight. Dezan died to save you so you could get Rayvon to the altar and get into Perish.”
“The tower was a trap, a gateway to the underbelly of Perish and it was meant to stop us from getting the last Faevitreus. Few survive the perilous place.” I said with defiance.
“That is not how I wrote it, and Dezan never whispered sweet words to you. His last words were noble, begging you to honor his oath and revenge on his wife.”
“You should have written it that way, and he did whisper that to me. That is what revisions are for right? I hear you complain about that process enough. Go back and add it all in. I do not love Rayvon, I thought I did, but I cannot love someone who is using me and probably bedding Tamora. I love Dezan, you need to make him realize he loves me too.”
“But he died, only three may enter.”
“He should not have died. His love was true, and pure and… real. Kill someone else, someone that needs the sacrificial redemption to clear their soul.”
My creator sat back and resumed the familiar pose of finger tapping on the chin. “Underbelly you say. Underbelly…hmm.”
I was so close to getting out of this blasted position, I could sense it. “The Perish lord is expecting us to go to the altar to open the gates and we can if you carry on with the surface plan. All sorts of things can get in our way, but what if…”
“What if that’s what Perish Lord wants… what if he’s waiting to be freed?”
“Yes! Dezan said that.”
“No, he didn’t say anything like it.”
“Then go back and make him say it. He only says important things. Have Rayvon or Tamora brush him off or discredit him. What if we do not knock on his front door where he awaits us?”
Two hands lifted from a lap and set lightly upon the keys that tell my story and create my life. A small smile eased into place on my creator’s face. My heart soared with hope, a hope that had been lost when Dezan fell and opened what I think is the real way we that need to go. I had hope that I can finally save my people, save the world from a monster who controls us from his very own prison.
“Aymara, ma swee?”
The words were faint, far away, and so unbelievably real; Aymara called back, “I’m here.”
“He lived?” Rayvon asked incredulously as he helped Tamora walk. Aymara wasn’t surprised to see the warrior regaining consciousness now after disaster struck. “We need to leave and find the Faevitreus.”
“It is down there.” Aymara pointed.
“It broke,” Rayvon said.
“It has reformed down there. I have an idea, and you are not going to like it.” Aymara said as she opened the carefully packed bag containing the other five Faevitreus spheres…
Fingers flew across the keyboard, breathing life back into me, into my story. I had a chance to get to Dezan and continue our journey. It would be dangerous, it would be unexpected, and if my creator understood me, Rayvon is not the savior of our world.
⁎—⸙—⁎ The End ⁎—⸙—⁎
Copyright © 2018 All rights reserved
This is the first time I’ve posted more than a sample of my writing for blog post examples. I hope you enjoyed it.
Let me know if you want to see more short stories or not.