So, at the moment I am sitting in my best friend Carrie's house, five hours from home and loopy from lack of sleep. What better thing to do that write a post that will be in cyperspace for the rest of eternity?
Anyway, last night Carrie and I played a wonderful new game. We would pick a prompt - a picture, song, etc, then write a bit of flash fiction or the beginning of a short story based on it. This produced some interesting new material, most of which is the usual insanity. The product of my first attempt was this still unedited short story, finished about five minutes ago. It invloves trains, wizards, Jane Austen, and one very confused girl named after a houseplant and WWII spy radio.
Absidestra swayed a bit with the motion of the train. A glance out the window showed her that they were nearing the mountains. She took a deep breath, sliding into a seat and dropping her bag to the floor beside her. The train was crossing the great plains, heading into the rockies. Des slipped her shoes off for a moment, rubbing her cramped toes. They were impracticle, but she loved the style and considered the pain worth it.
A steward tapped her on the shoulder. “Miss, excuse me, but you must keep your shoes on.”
She smiled up at him. “Sorry, I’ll put them on.” She slid her toes in, and the steward turned back to his work. Des rested her forehead against the window, wondering what California would be like. Interesting, if nothing else. Far more interesting than new jersey, that much she was sure of. The train jolted, pressing her against the window.
A young woman a few years older than her stumbled and sat down hard on the seat beside Des. “Sorry!” she gasped, settling herself in the seat.
Des shook her head. “It’s all right.” She inspected the young woman, who was apparently to be her companion for the rest of the trip. She was tall, with long wavy blonde hair and bright blue eyes. She wore a long black coat despite the warming spring air. Des turned back to the window, feeling suddenly tired. She had been on the train for several hours already, and didn’t particularly feel like talking.
When she woke up, it was to the young woman sitting down beside her again. She looked angry now, and more than a little bit worried. Des glanced out the train window again, noting the mountains that now surrounded them. “Is something wrong?”
The woman glanced at her, surprised. “What? Oh, it’s nothing. Just a problem with another of the passengers.”
Des glanced along the train car, searching for the problem. “Is someone sick?”
“No, I got into an argument with him. It’s not your problem.”
Des shrugged. “You’re right.” She started to dig in her bag for a book. She had started to read pride and predjudice somewhere in Kansas, and wanted to get back to the bennet girls.
The door at the far end of the car banged open. The young woman flinched and stood up. A tall man wearing a black coat identical to hers had just entered the car. His sandy hair was rumpled, and he was glaring at Des’s companian as if she had just killed his puppy. The woman grabbed Des’s little clothbound book and hurled it down the aisle at him.
The man ducked, the hard book barely missing his skull. “Elsie!” The woman started to unbutton her coat. Only the first six buttons were fastened, letting it flare open at her waist. The top three were already undone when the man flung himself down the aisle. “Elsie, stop it!” He wrapped his arms around her, pinning her arms to her sides. Des had come half to her feet without realizing it, and the man caught her eye. Elsie had begun to thrash, cursing the man to hell and back. “Help me get her onto the seat.”
Absidestra reached out hesitantly, staring at her seatmate. Elsie had turned into a wildcat. She wasn’t sure she wanted to get her fingers anywhere near her. But the man was struggling to keep her contained, and he didn’t seem a bad type. His face was kind, though tight with frustration at the moment. She wrapped her own arms around Elsie, helping the strange man to push the woman into her seat. When she was down, the man took a deep breath and nodded to Des. “All right, you can let go.” She did, and watched from beside the window. The man tilted his head so he could look elsie in the face. “Elsie, please settle down for a minute. I know you hate me right now, but we need to talk. Neither of us can afford to die right now.”
Elsie gave one last kick to his shin, then settled. “Fine,” she gritted out. “Talk.”
The tall man glanced around the train car, noting the shocked faces of its few other passengers. “Sorry,” he called, then waved a hand. A shimmer ran through the car, then the other passengers froze in their seats.
Des flinched, staring at the man. “Who…”
“Basil. Basil Wainwright, Wizard.” Basil turned back to Elsie, sighing. Des was left to gape.
“Why didn’t you freeze her?” Elsie demanded, fingercombing her messy hair.
“Because if you decide not to talk after all, I may need her to help pin you down again.” Basil sat down in the seat facing Elsie. “Listen, despite your bad opinion of me, we are partners at the moment. Please let us act as such, rather than picking a fight at every turn. Every time you get angry, you try to curse me.”
Des sank slowly into her seat, making certain not to brush against Elsie as she did.
Else folded her arms, glaring at Basil. “I can’t trust you.”
Basil shrugged. “I can’t trust you either, at the moment. Not when you’re trying to kill me.” he leaned forward a bit. “Please button your coat now. We’re safe on this train, unless we try to attack each other. Since I have no wish to hurt you, and I prefer not to be dead, I think that’s a bad idea.”
Elsie was silent for a moment, still breathing hard with anger. “Fine,” she snapped eventually, reaching up to button her coat. “The truce lasts until we leave the train. Then we decide this with no normal people around.”
“Will you come back to your seat, then? I don’t like our being seperated when we don’t know the people around us.”
She nodded shortly, and stalked out of the car. Basil slumped in his seat, staring wearily after her. Des ventured to speak. “Why does she hate you so much? She seemed nice enough when she sat down.”
The wizard shook his head. “She just doesn’t like me.” he stood, nodding politely to Des. “If you’ll excuse me, I don’t think I should leave her by herself.” He snapped his fingers as he left the car, and the shimmer filling it vanished. People blinked, coming back to life. Absidestra was left to listen to their confused muttering. The only sign that Elsie and Basil had ever been there was her little red book, lying in the aisle.
I hope you enjoyed it, unpolished as it may be!