The Day the Story Died
The world was on fire: giant towers of living flame sparked and writhed viciously. The sky was a cloud of hellish black smoke that drained all light from the sky, as a small band ran from the wake of the inferno. The air was now acrid and had long since scorched the lungs of all those who inhaled it, making one of the party who currently ran cough and gasp achingly. It seemed like an eternity that these desolate figures had tried to escape the fires that chased them relentlessly, but as to an exact amount of time, no one could say how long they had avoided it.
Finally, as the group reached a sparse place where the fire had yet to grow, the one who had coughed (a young woman with darker skin) doubled over and choked as the fatigue caught up with her. They had been trying to escape for so long, and so many had already been swallowed up by the accursed death. It was like a night-terror having been realized, making it all the more surreal.
The woman fought to regain her lungs with clean air, and felt a firm hand on her back consoling her. She looked up with a weary brown gaze at the man who had touched her, and accepted his help in standing back up to her full height.
“Just breathe, precious,” he crooned gently, his tone soft and encouraging as he watched her worriedly. “Lyn, look at me. Focus on nothing else but the ebb and flow of your breath.”
“I can’t,” Lyn gagged out as the searing in her lungs got worse by the second.
For a moment the man, who was actually a Fae, studied the young human, mismatched eyes of blue and forest hazel trying to assess the situation, before he gently placed a single hand to her throat. For a moment nothing happened, but then, a glowing silver light flashed from his fingertips and the woman found that her breathing was easier.
“Thank you, Jareth,” she said gratefully.
“Thank me later, pet. We’ve got bigger problems that need to be dealt with, at the moment.”
“You give reasonable counsel, Goblin King.” Both Lyn and Jareth looked to their left where a single figure cloaked in green and gold was exiting from the vast tree line that lay behind them. Lyn instantly felt some relief at seeing the one who approached them, for she had feared the worst for him.
“Loki, oh thank heavens you’re safe!” Lyn said happily as she rushed over and hugged him, overjoyed to see him again. After the group had tried to fight the fire (it seemed unaffected by magic or special weapons) Loki had decided that more information was needed. And it had been almost four hours since he had rushed off to spy on the fires and to see how far they had spread- leaving the group to work on his own. But now that he was back, the young woman could rest easier.
“Welcome, back Trickster,” Jareth said before adding, “What news do you have for us?”
From where they had been standing, the other members of the small party drew closer into a huddle to hear the verdict. A mortal Writer, Goblin King, Mischief Maker, Pirate Captain, Vampire, and Elven King stood side by side as they waited with baited breath. All the while, the fires drew ever nearer to where they stood.
Loki’s normally dancing eyes were now still, his face a solemn mask as he addressed those who looked to him for knowledge, before dashing any hope they might have had.
“This depravity is insatiable, I fear. It comes from all sides save for the road ahead of us, and has grown in startling magnitude in only the short time I have been from your sight. . . I watched as those we care for were burnt by its wrathful blaze.”
“Who has fallen prey to it, Laufeyson?” The soft spoken question came from the Elven King, Thranduil, who stood with unreadable light blue eyes.
“All of those who resided in the Enchanted Forest, Narnia, and the alternate universe where I fared, and all the other realms along the way. . . They are no more.”
From where she stood beside Loki, the young woman shook her head in denial. “No. . . Oh Loki, no . . .”
The God of Mischief turned to her with a firm mask that showed just how much the news grieved him as well. “They are, Lyn . . . I was too late to warn them of the fiery death that came to claim their realms.”
“Rumple and Belle, the High Kings and Queens of Narnia and the gentle folk, the Avengers, Logan and the X-Men, Zelda and Link, everyone- ?” she asked in a broken voice.
Loki’s eyes closed painfully. “All are deceased, Midgardian. I know of no survivors. . . There was nothing left but ash and drifting memory when I sought them.”
“And what of the realm where Lynara comes from?” The vampire Dracula asked, using the writer’s full name as he always did. “Is it still standing or has it been reduced to ash like the rest?”
“It is safe to my knowledge. As to why that is, I cannot fathom.”
“Then it is there we must go; gentleman, milady,” Captain Hook, the pirate of the group, stated as his forget-me-not eyes burned red with both anger and the incoming flames. Though he would not falter, the news of the realms had hurt him deeply, seeing as his wife and crew had been waiting for him in Neverland. “We shan’t be safe until we reach it, so I suggest we stop our caterwauling and get to the Mainland before it catches up to our current position.”
“But who is to say Lady Lyn’s home shall not be desecrated when we reach it,” Thranduil wondered, glancing at the writer as she reached out and took one of his hands in her own.
“No one can say what will happen,” she said with a determined expression. “But we have to try. We’ve got another mile before the next portal gate! If we have any hopes of outrunning the fire, we have to leave now!”
“Lyn is jolly-well right,” Jareth said nodding to his comrades as they once more ran head long into the depths of the rainbow trees of the world in between. “Come on, let’s move!”
Lyn watched, tears pouring from her chocolate brown eyes, as all she loved was ripped from her. And thought back to the time before her world had been shattered.
The small group had run to the portal gate as planned, and they had almost made it when the fire had surrounded them on all sides. Then, it had started to attack them. Though it was only meant to be an element, it was as if it was somehow controlled by another being. Its main form rose high into the air like a great serpent, eyes golden as the orange and red flicked and lashed out. But it was the smaller parts of the flame; like swords that fought and had a mind of their own, that caused the greatest distress.
The Fire, having cornered the wanderer’s, fought them with sword tendrils pulsating and stabbing at the mythical beings as they tried to find a way out of the circle. And it was like this that one by one they began to fall. First to go was the glorious pirate captain, his end coming in the way of being swallowed in a mass of the inferno. Followed by the Vampire who had pushed Lyn out of the way before it could eat her as well, leaving Thranduil to quickly grab her and jump out of the way of the next onslaught.
Now only four remained: Lyn, Jareth, Loki, and Thranduil. All stood side by side, as the Flames cackled around them with fiendish abandon and the end grew near.
Lyn cried bitterly for her lost friends and the despair that it all brought her. But then she felt a hand on her shoulder bringing her back to reality once more. The girl looked up at her oldest Muse as he stared at her pointedly, flickers of happier times flashing through her mind as she took in his ash smudged face.
“Lyn, precious, will you do one last thing for me and the lads?”
The writer gave him a bittersweet smile as the fire taunted them, threatening to destroy everything she had come to respect and love. Thinking of the three that she would now lose.
The Goblin King smiled back at her, his mismatched eyes filled with tears as well. “When the swords attack again, wait for our signal. And when we tell you, run for the portal gate.”
“But we’re surrounded, Jareth-”
“That will not be a problem, Lady Lyn.” Lyn looked at Thranduil as he ran over with Loki in sync.
“We shall weaken the creature to give good your escape,” Loki said, adding to the Elven King’s statement with his own.
“It’s what we all want, precious,” Jareth said firmly, as his eyes flashed back to the snake that was still dancing in the air above them.
“I’m not leaving you guys behind! We either get out together or not at all!”
“Do not speak foolishness,” Thranduil chided with slight annoyance, but before he could say more, Jareth continued in his stead.
“Pet, we don’t have time to argue. We need to know that you will be safe . . . that you’ll do this . . . for us.”
“I can’t leave my boys behind,” she whispered back, tears streaming down her dark face as she looked between the three. “I won’t know what to do without you!”
Jareth’s expression softened then, before he quickly pulled the girl into a hug. For a second the fear within her seemed to melt away, as the other two quickly joined in- an embrace that none of them would have ever agreed to otherwise. It was beautiful, sincere, and finalizing. This was their goodbye. . . This was their way of saying all the things they didn’t have time to say.
As Loki and Thranduil let go, Lyn looked up at the Goblin King, eyes pleading with him, before he placed a chaste kiss to her forehead. It was the same action he had done when she was a child wandering his Labyrinth.
“Goodbye, little one,” he whispered tenderly, before he pulled away from her and immediately ran towards the base of the Fire, both Elven King and Trickster in tow.
Lyn felt her heart rise in her throat as Loki yelled at her to run, but she obeyed, numbed feet scrambling against uneven ground as she sprinted towards the edge of the fire circle. Though she wasn’t able to watch her three Muses as they fought the fire, she knew that they were using their magic in one last effort to kill it. From the strange smell in the air and the sparks of different colored light and smoke, they were giving it all they had. . . . and for a moment it worked.
A large space in the circle fizzed out, leaving enough room for Lyn to run through . . . though seconds after she crossed it the gap filled again.
Then in absolute horror, the young writer watched her greatest fear come true. The swords of flame attack the three Muses all at once, swinging and stabbing so fast and in so large a number that there was no way to avoid them all. She heard her them cry out in agony as they were sliced to death, and ran back to the fire wall screaming in despair.
“LOKI!!! THRANDUIL!!! JARETHHHH! NOOOOO!” She beat at the barrier, burning her hands and forearms, but she was beyond caring. Even as her flesh began to peel back and bleed she still continued, calling out as she sobbed for them to get up.
Lyn could see them all on the ground with the swords sticking out of them, their magical aura’s fading into the air like an autumn breeze. And three pairs of eyes: one emerald green, one light blue, and one mismatched all looked at her with hope.
Run they seemed to say, but the girl couldn’t. Not when her heroes were all dead. Not when she was all alone and lost.
I’m sorry, Lyn thought as the flames shot out to grab ahold of her already decaying body. I’m so sorry. . .
Lyn Harkeran had been silent for months; not a sound or thought having been revealed . . . and it was starting to get on her therapist’s nerves. He had given her plenty of time to speak up on her own, and he was done waiting. True, she had suffered from an ordeal and was still healing. Being forced to come back to reality after a mental break was always difficult. But she had to learn how to adapt, to cope with it. She had become a danger to herself and others, through her fantastical ramblings about Muses and other Realms and Fae Kings and such nonsense similar to a Tolkien novel. So he had helped her at the request of those around her and her family.
With both heavy counseling and hypnotherapy he had been able to plug the tear in her mind. And when he had awoken her from the hypnotized state, he had been prepared for anything. . . Though when the girl had opened her eyes, he could have sworn they shone with fire and smoke for a moment. But it was gone just as quickly . . . She had looked around his office as if in a nightmare, before she had started to cry hysterical tears, though she never said a word. And since then she had been unresponsive to anyone. Friends and family had come to visit her in the beginning, but now she remained in her room at the Psychiatric Facility not talking or seeing anyone by choice.
It was almost as if she had given up the will to live . . . and the Doctor noted that she had not touched the notebook or pen that had been provided for her. (Her family had said she was unable to stop writing stories before she had come to the asylum, but now she seemed oblivious to the practice).
So, the Doctor had decided to bring in a specialist to assess the girl. One Dr. Garrett who was apparently a prodigy. He was only 30 years old and had already been practicing in his specialized field for four years. So he had set the date for the man to come. Now, the therapist met Garrett in the lobby and walked with him to Lyn’s room.
“From all accounts writing was the way to reach her,” the doctor said as they exited the elevator and walked further into the secured wing. “But after the hypnotherapy she hasn’t hardly moved, and her mother has to come and force feed her.”
“You needn’t worry, Doctor,” Garrett assured him as they now stood outside of the girl’s room. “I promise I shall give Ms. Harkeran my full attention.”
“Good,” the other said. “After you.”
But Garrett stopped him with a raised hand. “I must insist that I make this visit alone. I cannot appraise her state of mind if I am disturbed.”
The Doctor, somewhat taken aback, ended up agreeing- seeing as there were camera’s in all of the corridors and patients rooms. So he backed away and quickly jogged to his office. The therapist quickly pulled up the camera feed on his work computer and set it to Lyn’s room . . . and paused in disbelief.
He had missed Garrett’s initial entrance into the chamber, and now vowed to go back and view it at a later time. For whatever he had done, must have been ground breaking.
Lyn Harkeran, the unresponsive and lifeless patient, was smiling. Her face as bright and happy as a Christmas tree, and before the Doctor could fully comprehend what was happening, the young woman stood from the bed and ran over to Dr. Garrett, wrapping her arms around him as she began to cry and laugh. And to the therapist’s surprise, Garrett didn’t hesitate in returning the hug; and a matching smile and tears lined his hawkish face.
Quickly the therapist turned up the camera sound, just in time to hear them speak.
“You’re alive! You came back to me! I thought I had lost you,” the young woman cried joyfully.
“We all vowed to be with you to the end. Sane or not, that’s not going to change.” He replied with a deep chuckle.
“But what about the fi-fire?”
“Oh it was real- it all was destroyed. But you had something that trumped it, and it has all come back.”
“What did I have that could bring you all back,” the girl asked.
Dr. Garrett hugged her tightly as his mismatched eyes flashed with affection. “Love, precious thing. You gave us, love.”