When imagination is given free reign
I bring to you a short story I co-wrote with two friends recently out of sheer boredom and frustration at the workplace. Through rapid fire e-mails, we re-lived a favourite childhood game of taking turns to write a story line by line. Our combined imaginations brought to life a world where the unexpected is the norm and fantasy is the name of the game. With some editing and embelishments but otherwise intact, cheesy storyline, I present:
Storyline by: Me, LL, TLR
Editing and pix by: Me
The land of Fistandatilus was a vast barren terrain filled with the darkest unknowns. In the midst of the wasted land, there was an oasis, Shea, where civilization thrived. Our erstwhile hero was perched on a bench of O'Malleys tavern enjoying a frothy mug of Heineken.
O’ Malleys, was teeming with patrons at that time of the night, just a quarter of an hour shy of one o’clock in the morning. While he sipped his drink, he watched a voluptuous bar girl sing a soprano.
Her voice was certainly not what captured his attention. She struggled with the notes on the higher register. But there was something about her enigmatic amber eyes that sparked his attention.
He took a closer look and thought "She isn't even that pretty. Her nose is flat, her lips are thin."
"Sure, her boobs are big," he muttered, crudely oogling them.
It has to be her eyes, her golden eyes, he decided. "What is it about them that allures me?"
Then the answer hit him in a flash. Her pupils were pricked with a blood red spot, like an angry mote. The effect was utterly unnerving! Alien and yet at the same time strangely familiar. How can that be?
"Where have I seen those eyes before?” he pondered, as he watched her shakily finish her aria. And then he remembered...
It was the eyes of the lady in his dreams. The same dream that woke him up every night. A dream that he could not comprehend. In that dream, she was always walking in a garden, carrying a basket filled with flowers. Always, he would try to call out to her. And always, he awoke before he did.
Strangely enough although it was a dream, each time, the scent of the flowers, which were always lavender, would linger in his bedroom and tantalize his senses even after he awoke. Lavender was his favourite scent in the world.
The scent was so real, he thought he could smell it now. A waft of the sweet scent jolted him out of his reverie and brought the tavern sharply back into focus.
The bar girl, whose name was Lorelei, he remembered now, was standing in front of him, looking like a Goddess. She inclined her head slightly in acknowledgement of the cheers from the crowd more for her brand of unique beauty and soulful eyes rather than for the quality of her singing. She looked luminous and ethereal
Her beautiful eyes shifted from the crowd and looked deeply into his. He felt her gaze pierce his heart. Her lips, although not her most prominent feature, lit up her entire face when she smiled and showed off a deep dimple in her left cheek.
"Alexis", she spoke his name softly, her voice low and yet surprisingly melodious unlike when she was singing. "We meet at last."
"Yes. Your singing was...um...not too bad there." Sheet! I sound so insincere, Alexis cringed inwardly. Smart, really smart.
"Ha ha. Save it, dear. I know I sucked big time!"
Before Alexis could come up with a witty repartee as his saving grace, a gunshot rang sharply above the din in the tavern and the bullet ricocheted sharply off a nearby pillar. Terrified screams followed.
The panicked crowd ran out of the tavern and in a matter of seconds, the place was empty except for Alexis and Lorelei, frozen in the poignancy of the moment, still unable to tear their eyes from each other’s faces.
"Where is she?" The guy with the gun roared although it was quite redundant as they were the only ones left in the tavern.
"Uh-oh, we've got to go now. Back door, this way," Lorelei said, semi-dazedly, breaking the electrifying gaze.
Alexis and Lorelei, hand in hand, ran helter-skelter towards the tavern's back door. Despite the direness of the situation, Alexis could not but help notice how small Lorelei's hand was, how smooth and fine it was and how well it fit into his larger one.
Outside the tavern, they scanned the area for a place to hide. Alexis's sharp eyes spotted a dark alley directly adjacent to the tavern.
"Come, follow me," he said confidently, his acute male sense of direction going into hyperdrive.
They ran down the alley, glancing at the back ever so often to see if the gunman was hot on their tracks. Strangely, by sheer chance or fortune, the gunman was nowhere to be seen. The alley led them to a brightly lit market place where a night bazaar was in full swing. It was filled with beings all dressed in garish purple robes spangled with gold hoops. Suddenly, a waft of heady lavender scent, so strong and so sweet it was almost cloying hit Alexis full blast in the face. He blacked out.
CRASH! One of the brightly lit oil lamps decorated with butterfly motifs tipped over and almost immediately, the tents nearby, soaked with kerosene from the spilled lamps, caught fire. Thick, black, smoke occluded sight within one feet.
"Cough cough," Alexis choked. The smoke tickled his nostrils, causing him to stir. He clapped one hand over his mouth instinctively and wiped his tearing eyes with the back of the other making his face tear streaked with soot. He looked like a savage, but rather handsomely so.
There was mayhem in the market as people scrambled to safety. Men dressed in the bright purple robes were frantically pouring buckets of green water on the fire which only succeeded in making the yellow flames turn a bright shade of green.
"Lorelei! Lorelei?!" Alexis shouted in panic, as he realized he had lost his grip on her hand. Her fair head was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, a huge gust of wind blew and all at once, without warning, the heavens started to pour. Alexis managed to grab hold on to a market vendor’s trolley that kept him from being literally swept of his feet. The green fire started to ease in light of the huge downpour. A crash of thunder caused him to look involuntarily up and he gasped as he saw a figure floating eerily in the sky. "Lorelei!"
Lorelei was suspended in the air, emanating a soft light although the source of this hallowed effect could not be determined. She hung suspended in the air dimly glowing, gasping like a goldfish out of water or as if she was trying to say something but was unable to.
Distracted by the ghostly, irrisdescent glow, surrounding Lorelei, it was only until now, five whole minutes later that Alexis noticed the evil-looking, winged dragon that was holding Lorelei in its fanged mouth above the market square.
Without missing a beat, our hero mounted one of the winged unicorns, the colour of quicksilver that were crowding restlessly at the edge of the market square. The mighty winged beast flew effortlessly through the air carrying his weight as if he was as light as a feather.
Up in the sky, facing the huge beast holding Lorelei, Alexis drew out his sword, a weapon forged from the strongest of metals eons ago by the Gods.
“O draconian devil, Oh lame saint!” he quoted and swooped down on the beast
Alexis’s dexterity in swordfighting was well known around Shea, having won many local jousts. But the name of the sword, Creon, with the sapphire blue Orb in its helm preceded his fame. Of course, our hero, as heroes normally are, was oblivious to the prestige of his weapon, thinking it was merely an old sword he had "chanced" upon after winning a fight in a pub brawl.
The sword with ancient runes on its blade, veteran of many blood baths glimmered brightly and with unerring aim pierced the heart of the vicious enemy with one mighty plunge. As the dragon roared in pain, his frightened captive slipped from its mouth and fell plunging to the ground. "Alexis, my hero! Save me!" Lorelei screamed.
Alexis with no concern for his own safety (being well insured by Prudential) reached out his hand to grab the falling lady. Just as he thought all hope was gone, he felt her small hand clasped within his.
His bulging muscles straining and glistening with sweat, Alexis grasped her arm and with both hands, pulled her up onto his winged mare. The unicorn with its mighty wings effortlessly bore both their weights and flew in a north-eastern direction towards The Enchanted Woods. The unicorn landed in the middle of the dark forest beneath a huge tree, so tall that its topmost leaves touched the clouds, which stood beside a shimmering lake.
"Wisha wisha wisha,” a gentle breeze ruffled the leaves of the trees and made it seem like they were whispering to each other.
Our hero helped our heroine off the unicorn. He was streaked with soot and blood, but standing tall and straight, looking every inch the victorious warrior. She was pale and trembling a little from the ordeal they just survived but kept her head held high, every inch the foxy lady cum damsel in distress
Alexis stroked the unicorn's head and whispered into its ear, "Thank you my friend, you have my eternal gratitude." The unicorn's single horn glowed softly, illuminating for a moment the inky darkness of the woods, as if to say "You're welcomed," before taking off into the moonlit sky. Turning back expectantly, our hero found that he was alone. The smell of fresh lavender lingered in the air.
This story is dedicated to LL. Happy 24th Birthday! It's been two decades since we met in kindergarten. Thanks for the fantastic times since.