I’ve been meaning to participate in Stacy’s Don’t Panic Picture Prompt more, so here I am! You should check it out – she always has really cool pictures to share 🙂
“Why are we here?”
I never was a huge hiking fan, but all it took was a single reprimanding look from my mother to make me shut up and just tag along. However, I can only hold my tongue for so long, and after ten miles in this heat, I’ve reached my limit.
Instead of answering me, she just keeps walking, trekking closer and closer to the mountain about two miles away. At least it’s a nice day – the sky is completely clear and there’s somewhat of a breeze that’s the only thing between me and suffocation.
“Can we at least take a break? Please?” Not bothering to wait for her to stop or acknowledge my request, I drop to the ground and grab my canteen.
To my surprise, she stops and even turns around. “We don’t have all day.”
“Sure we do. We have literally nothing but time.” Comes with the unfortunate condition of being stuck in purgatory. “So what’s the rush?”
My mother averts her eyes from me and instead focuses on the mountain ahead. It looks like she has something to say, but is holding it back.
“What?” I stand up again, stoppering the canteen and looking between her and the mountain. “What aren’t you telling me?”
“There’s a way out. At the summit of that mountain.” She points at the peak. While a beautiful landscape and imposing figure, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the mountain – at least, nothing that would make me think it’s our ticket out.
“Seriously? How do you know?”
But she doesn’t respond. “Let’s just keep going. Trust me.”
Something about the way she says that makes my stomach sink.
Unnamed characters! Unfamiliar situation! This can only mean one thing – new serial!!!
Don’t know what it’s called just yet, but stay tuned!
Didn’t think I’d be getting another post up this soon, but yay for sudden inspiration! I also wasn’t planning on putting forth yet another serial, but here I am with Provisional Freedom. As of right now it’s a stub of an idea that resulted from a well-timed prompt or two. We got our first peek into the story with my post on Saturday – you can check it out here.
I’m not sure how long my mother and I have been stuck here. Forever is probably a good estimate, but we have no real way of knowing. We haven’t aged a second since setting foot here, the sun doesn’t set for what feels like days at a time, and I’ve long given up on trying to track the time.
Purgatory sucks, and I don’t even remember how we got here. How did we die? And why are we both here?
Not like it really matters. She says there’s a way out, and I think she really believes it this time.
I didn’t name her in the previous post or this one, but there’s a snippet of my newest character, Paola. I’m definitely looking forward to flushing out her story and exploring her world.Seems like every time I hit a slump a new character crawls out of my brain to get me going. Hopefully this works!
Friendly reminder: Round 5 of #TuesFlashFicTrain is well underway! What are you waiting for?
Guess who hurt herself doing Zumba again? Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as last time. I’ll be back at it tomorrow!
I didn’t think I’d have time to post today, but here we are. It’s been a while since I participated in Our Write Side’s Coldy Calculating prompts, so I’m glad to have a chance at one again. This one just fit too perfectly into Provisional Freedom and gave me the chance to explore Paola’s character a little.
Prompt: Seven deadly sins.
I picked Wrath. Enjoy!
Content warning: Contains violent imagery and suggestions of gore.
At the base of the mountain, there’s a cave.
“I thought you said the way out was at the top?” I crane my neck attempting to take in the site of the mountain in its entirety. It’s a pretty steep climb, and I’m not looking forward to it.
“Yes, but the way up is in this cave.” My mother is already a few feet into the tunnel, not stopping to wait for me this time. Grateful that I don’t have to climb up the side of the mountain, I hurry in after her. Like everything else in purgatory, the cavernous tunnel is unnatural, but not in a man-made way. Something about it, much like the mountain and the surrounding terrain, is supremely off-putting. It isn’t until we go deeper into the tunnel that I realize what that is.
The walls, the ground, every surface inside the cave is made of bone. Human bone, if I had to guess. My mother doesn’t say anything, just continues forward. I don’t notice how far behind I am until I’ve lost sight of her.
Running deeper into the tunnel and ignoring my surroundings, I come to a fork. There’s no way to tell which way she went, so I got with my gut and take the tunnel on the left.
I haven’t taken more than a couple of steps before I’m blinded by a burst of light. When it dims, I’m in a room that’s somehow familiar to me, but I can’t place it. It’s empty, save for a single metal fold-out chair, some rope hanging from it. My eyes hop from the chair to the brown stains on the cement floor. Something weighs heavy in my hand and when I look down I see a bloodied knife, every inch of me covered in the same crimson.
My heart tightens with a primal fury that, like the room, is familiar. It’s almost comforting. I feel safe in my rage, like a warm blanket has been draped over me. Someone enters the room, and I don’t hesitate to attack, plunging the knife into their chest with barely a glance at their face. Even if I could stop myself, I don’t want to.
Someone else enters the room, and they’re dead at my feet in seconds. A part of me feels remorse (or tries to?) but it’s so distant and I’m so far gone it doesn’t matter, barely registers in my conscience. The process repeats until I can no longer see the cement or the brown stains. Despite the release, I’m still angry, furious for reasons I don’t understand. I know the feeling of betrayal that sits on my chest, the need for vengeance that eats at my gut, but I don’t know why they’re there. Why am I so angry?
I try to release the knife, but the thought leaves my mind as soon as it enters, and instead my grip on the hilt tightens.
“Paola?” My mom’s voice startles me, and I jump. I expect to hear the knife clatter to the cement after it leaves my hand, but it doesn’t. When I turn to face my mom, I’m not in the room with the chair anymore, but in the bone cavern. “Are you okay?”
I can’t really bring myself to answer. Am I okay? My body is no longer covered in the evidence of my violence, but I can feel the weight of it deep in my chest. That urge to lash out is there, just not as strong anymore. In an effort not to worry her, I respond. “What happened? I lost sight of you.”
“I’m not sure. This cavern messes with your mind, I think. Come on – let’s try not to get separated again.” She offers me her hand and I take it, unwilling to experience something like that again, no matter how tempting the fury feels.
And there it is! I’m still playing with why she’s so prone to rage, and I have some ideas. Might even put that particular trait to work later. We’ll see! Paola and her mother are approaching the way out, so maybe next week we’ll see some plot advancement, prompts willling 🙂
Friendly reminder: Round 5 of #TuesFlashFicTrain is well underway! What are you waiting for?
It also feels like a while since I’ve done a ThursThreads response, so here I am! The best part is that this one moves Provisional Freedom forward. Hooray! I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on here, but it’s starting to come together.
I’m not sure how long we’ve been walking through the tunnels. At no point has it seemed like we’ve been walking at an incline, but my mother assures me that we’re almost to the top, almost out of purgatory. I know better than to ask how she knows.
“Do you want to take a break?” My mother stops, turning to look at me. There’s something in her eyes that makes me uneasy, but I can’t place what it is.
“Sure.” It’s not until I sit down that I register my exhaustion. A heaviness I didn’t notice before settles in my bones, and all I want to do is rest.
“You can sleep, if you want. I’ll wake you up.” She’s still holding my hand, but I’m not sure if it’s for my benefit or hers.
Leaning back against the tunnel wall, I close my eyes and tell myself it’s just to rest them a few moments.
The room is a mess, a reflection of the young woman lying on the crumpled bed. Several people mill about the room, examining every corner. One of them approaches the body – the young woman is dead – and removes a small bottle from the night stand.
“It was probably an overdose, but we won’t know until we get her back to the lab.”
Somewhere in the background, cries break through the low murmur of conversation.
When I open my eyes, I’m not sitting up, but lying with my head in my mother’s lap.
“Time to go.”
Be sure to check out other responses throughout the day! There’s always awesome stuff to read for this prompt series.
Friendly reminder: Trying to finish off this round of #TuesFlashFicTrain! Check out the prompt and hop on board!
I don’t think I’ve ever participated in The Darkroom picture prompt. Like Master Class Monday and Coldly Calculating, this prompt series comes from the brilliant minds behind Our Write Side.
For this prompt, I’ve decided to try moving Provisional Freedom forward a bit, even though I still have no idea what I’m doing with it.
I thought there was still a long way to go before we would stop again. Instead, we come to a door what feels like minutes after starting to walk again. We’re at the end of the tunnel, and while I still haven’t noticed an incline, I can feel we’re at the top of the mountain. My mother confirms this.
Unlike the rest of the cave, this door is made of old wood, with a latch so rusty, I can’t tell what its original color might have been. I’m almost afraid to touch it and that it’ll crumble under my finger tips. My mother doesn’t hesitate to open the door, her fingers coming away stained red after she undoes the latch. When the door opens, the cave is flooded with light from outside.
Following my mother through the door, I struggle to keep my eyes on her while trying not to be blinded by the light. When my eyes adjust, I’m met with the sight of the forest we came from in the distance an the bright blue sky above. A faint sense of vertigo tugs at my stomach, but I push it down, trying to focus on the grass beneath my feet. It’s something of a garden up here, quieter than I expected it to be considering the way the wind blows my hair every which way. I turn to look at the door, only to see it closing behind us before it melds itself into the rock wall. It disappears before I can react.
“Mom? The door is gone.”
“One time use per person. That’s the rule.” She seems unfazed by this, so I try not to panic. Does this mean we can’t get back down? What if we don’t get out?
Instead of voicing my worries, I ask, “So what now?”
“Now, you come with me.” This is a new voice, unfamiliar, but again my mother doesn’t react. It comes from somewhere behind her, and a moment later there’s a figure walking toward us, appearing out of the low clouds that shroud parts of the summit.
“Who are you?”
“You can call me Max.” They bow. A pair of warm, brass-colored eyes look up at me as they stand upright again. I know what they are before they tell me. I can feel it in their voice – and the outfit makes it about obvious.
“An angel? In purgatory? Why?” I look at my mother – how did she manage this?
“They’re your way out of here.” My mother answers, and it takes a moment for me to register her words.
“My way? Don’t you mean ours?”
“No – I was only sent to guide you this far. I can’t go with you.”
“I’ve been dead a long time, Paola. Don’t you remember?” It’s as if her words trigger a flood of memories. She died when I was five. How old am I now? I don’t remember, but I do remember her funeral, all the crying I did.
“Then…then how are you…?”
“We sent her to guide you out of purgatory… ” Max’s voice is soft as they speak. “And to take your place.”
“What?!” I step back, unwilling to get any closer to the angel.
“A soul can’t escape purgatory unless there’s another to replace it. And you’re needed on earth, Paola.” My mother closes the distance between us, cupping my cheek with one hand. She looks like she’s about to cry, but holds back.
My mother simply looks at me, her eyes sullen but attempting to smile. “You’re in a unique position – unprecedented. If you go back, you’ll have extraordinary abilities.”
“And we could really use someone with those abilities right now.” Max takes another step toward me, and this time I stand my ground.
“But I can’t just leave you here.” I look between my mother and Max, eyes hard on the latter. “There has to be something I can do to get her out.”
“She’ll go back to Heaven as soon as you return to purgatory and reclaim your place.” They return my hard glare with a soft look. It’s clear Max is apologetic, and doesn’t seem to like this situation any more than I do.
“You give me your word?”
I look at my mother again before pulling her into a hug. There’s nothing left for me to say and she doesn’t speak, either. Before I can change my mind or protest further, I force myself to walk to Max and take their outstretched hand.
Plot twist! Maybe I’ll have a cross-over. Hmm. I’m not sure where on the timeline this is, but Provisional Freedom and Secondhand Soul definitely exist in the same universe. Definitely didn’t see this coming when I started writing it.
Didn’t think I’d get a post up today, but here we are! This week has flown by, too. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but here’s to the weekend only being a day away!
Today’s prompt, as usual, comes from #ThursThreads. This will be another peek into Paola’s world. She’s much darker – theme-wise – than anyone else. At least, I think so. Not sure how I feel about that. Here’s hoping I can bring her some small moments of happiness, at least, with her resurrection.
When I come to, it’s to the sound of rushed orders and a high beeeeep mingling with the voices. My eyes are still closed, but I can feel the frantic movement in the room begin to slow.
“There’s nothing more we can do. She’s gone.”
At the voice, I open my eyes, coughing as I struggle to speak. “N-No.”
The room gasps, and everyone’s eyes widen at the sight of me. Behind me, the heart monitor is still showing that I’m dead. I will myself to move, eyes frantically searching the room for Max. Where are they? As if responding to my thoughts, they appear next to me and glance at the machine. No one else sees them, but I follow their gaze as the machine picks back up again, soft beeps marking what should be my heartbeat. I still don’t feel it.
Everything is a blur – it’s a miracle, they say – and I’m eventually whisked off to a private room after they’ve verified that I’m okay – whatever that is.
“I thought that was the last time I’d see you.” My dad’s voice, worn and tired, brings me out of my jumbled thoughts. I’m not really paying attention, but I’m sure he’s been talking for a while now. “I’m really worried about you, Paola. Those pills…”
“It was an accident. I didn’t – didn’t mean to. I wasn’t paying attention to the dosage – picked up the wrong bottle. I’m sorry.” My eyes are glued to Max, hovering unseen beside my dad.
What does Max have in store for Paola, and will she be joining our favorite demons in some witch-hunting shenanigans? Only time will tell because I still have zero clue about where this is going. Ha! Story of my life.
After a day, I was ready to be released from the hospital, desperate to get as far from that place as possible.
Max made themselves scarce during the time I spent with my dad, giving me little to focus on to distract from the sadness in my father’s eyes or the aid assigned to watch me. Then again, being hyper-aware of Max and the fact that I’d just come back from purgatory after apparently attempting suicide wasn’t a comforting alternative.
To be honest, I couldn’t remember much about what happened – only that I definitely wasn’t trying to kill myself. It was my word against what everyone saw, though. That meant being under watch until someone deemed me well enough to be sent home. I did my best to act normal, or as normal as I could given the circumstances. Max popping in now and again made that difficult and only reminded me of how messed up everything was. I couldn’t even ask the angel questions with my dad and the aid watching.
I lost count of the days it took to release me, but they eventually did. Unfortunately for me, being home wasn’t nearly as comforting as I would have hoped. When it came time to sleep in my own bed, I couldn’t bring myself to. My dad didn’t protest when I set up camp in the living room.
Nearly falling asleep to late night cartoons, I practically jumped out of my skin at Max popping up beside the TV.
Forever wondering where this is going.
Be sure to check out the rest of the responses – there’s always good stuff out there to read.