Day 15 of the February Flash Fiction Challenge. Today’s prompt was to write about someone who needs to take a breath. This was written in support of my novel, as either background development or an excerpt, depending on how I incorporate it.
A plate flew past Sira’s head, catching a stray wisp of hair before landing with a satisfying crash against the wall of the great hall. To her right, a teenage boy heaved a wooden chair up and then slammed it into the stone floor, breaking three of its legs. Anger swelled—no, boiled—within Sira, overpowering any shred of sanity left in her mind and emerging as pure irrational hate.
The entire hall was swarming with angry people, yelling at each other in hoarse voices and swinging at each other with tired arms. For a full twenty minutes, no one had been able to escape the intensity of emotion that flooded the room, infiltrating every mind with frustration, fear, and envy. What was once a joyous celebration of a young couple’s wedding was now a violent, rage-fueled battlefield.
In the middle was Sira, appearing both there and not there at the same time. She could feel every insult, every punch, every aggressive move but not in a way that hurt her; they fueled her and she fueled it. The crowd in the room was the storm and she was the inferno in the middle. She could feel the power of the chaos building inside her and she savored it, letting it explode back into the room as a wave of energy. It flow in and out of her like a breath. Her conscience, buried deep inside, was telling her to stop, but it was too late. Every heartbeat brought her closer and closer to reaching that pinnacle she was seeking but just couldn’t reach. She needed more and more, until…
“Down it flows, under current, under stream…”
A voice rose up from far away, lilting and pulling her mind from the chaos, just for a moment.
“…a dancing pebble, moved by hand unseen.”
A man swung his fist into a wall with a heavy crunch, bloody knuckles dripping red droplets onto the stone floor. Sira’s mind was pulled into the rhythm of the room again, seeking that pinnacle of power. If only she could grab onto it, she could master it and control everyone in the room.
She closed her eyes and listened to all the words being thrown about, pulling them each into her storm of power. She could hear every thud, crack, and scream and the greediness it created in her was like nothing she had felt before. Her weak, diluted conscience begged her to stop. This wasn’t her. The real Sira wouldn’t have done this. But who was the real Sira? Her own internal battle of wills only continued to feed the evil energy compounding itself inside her.
“Catch it now before it slips away…
Catch it now before it slips away.”
That voice. She knew it. She opened her eyes and could see the singer clearly across the room. He strummed a guitar with adept fingers, the notes trying to break their way through the noise between them. Hazel eyes locked on her chestnut ones and she knew them, too. They were love and happiness and levity. They balanced her in ways she couldn’t describe. For a second—really, just a fraction of a second—the room was quiet, like a hiccup in the pulsing energy. Bran, I know you, she could hear the voice inside her head.
Yes, and I know you. Was his voice real or only in her imagination?
Confusion brewed up inside, turning her moment of clarity into one of distrust. How dare he interrupt me, take away that which I desire! She felt the energy of the room running through her own arms like rivers of flames and the air around her began to ripple. His eyes widened with concern but he strummed on, singing more loudly.
“So the lost will come through the door of day.”
The door of day. She knew that door even though she had seen it only in her dreams. It was there, in the strange void of mists and blackness that was neither this world or another. It was an in-between or a nothingness, she didn’t know which or what it was but she did know someone was trapped there, a man, who screamed for help, pleading to be let free. At times, he called for her and told her things she didn’t understand. She could feel him at that moment, trying to reach her when she had completely let go of all self control. And so was Bran. At some point he had crossed the room and was standing in front of her, seemingly oblivious to the battlefield she had created in the great hall. He reached out a hand and touched her cheek. She breathed in at the gentleness and then…
She awoke, sitting straight up in the small bed. She was drenched in sweat and her body felt like it had been running for miles. She reached a hand to her cheek and then looked over at Bran, next to her. He was awake, looking at her with both confusion and concern, unsure whether he should touch her or not. “Sira, what was that? Where were you? You were screaming and fighting something…what happened?”
She couldn’t answer, couldn’t process what just happened. She wasn’t even sure which part was real, the dream or the bed she found herself in at the moment. All she could say was, “I need to find him.”