genre: fantasy (mystery, drama)
I am continuing last week’s “Bottled Up” story today! We’ve been sucked into a bottle on the edge of the sea. Let’s find out where we’ve gone if we can!
Her eyes squeezed closed and could not be pried open no matter how many times she whispered, “Open your eyes, Erin. Open your eyes.”
For some reason the thought of what she’d see beyond the darkness of the unknown was far worse than the knowing, but questions began to crowd her mind and put pressure on her lids as a sound almost like the hushed breath of a thousand creatures ensued.
“Stop being stupid,” she said and cracked her eyes open.
A millisecond later they were wide, the whites almost as big as her beautiful blues. She was on her hands and knees but quickly scrambled backward. The sight before her was frightening and eerie as hundreds of pairs of eyes stared back at her from the darkness.
“We’ve awaited your arrival.”
Erin blinked but couldn’t formulate a reply. The pair of eyes which seemed to belong to the deep voice lit a torch and then held out a hand to help her up.
“You are safe. Your arrival heralds to time of great awakening. We rejoice!”
His grin revealed a row of perfect, white teeth shimmering in the flickering torch-light. The short dark man wagged his hand at her and nodded with vigorous enthusiasm. More torches were lit revealing more bright white teeth emerging from the darkness, and a reverent repetition of, “we rejoice,” rippled throughout the multitude.
Erin hesitated only a second more before taking his hand. Once she was on her feet, though, the horde dropped to their knees as though one body. She gasped and took a step back.
There was nothing in her entire life which could have prepared her for this moment. First being sucked into the vortex and shoved into a bottle, which she still didn’t believe had happened, and now this madness.
The diminutive man she took to be their leader stood first and placed his fist across his chest.
“We, the Tribe of Flagon, are at your disposal, o great Pathfinder of the Other World.”
His head tilted to the side. “What language do you speak, Pathfinder?”
He asked what Erin assumed was the same question in several different languages before she was able to respond.
She’d said it in what she thought was a normal voice, but the new grin which cracked the leader’s face told her she’d probably croaked the word more than spoke it.
“Pathfinder, I am Don’obahu, leader of the Tribe of Flagon. Come, we will take you to our camp and you may rest.”
“Where? Where am I, Don’oblandabu?”
“Don-o-BA-hu,” he said in slow syllables. “You are home. The land of Glass. Come.”
He waved his hand, and the sea of people in the darkness parted before them. He led Erin through the throng in triumphant joy, crying out in a loud voice, “All take heed! We are saved, for the Pathfinder of the Other World has arrived.”
In once voice, they echoed him. “Pathfinder!”
Erin shivered at the exulting sound of their outcry. Her hands trembled as the shock of one uncommon event led to another, but she followed after Don’obahu without a thought to the consequences.
All the grinning faces which she passed seemed to imply she was something special. Their eyes told her to have strength, but she didn’t know how it was she knew what they implied with their wide eyes and nodding heads. It seemed the only explanation in a moment of total confusion.
They walked on at a downward slant along a winding path lit only by the torches. The glow multiplied, and Erin imagined someone running before them, lighting the way. The silence of the horde of people who trailed behind was another oddity, but nothing that had happened since she’d opened the bottle made sense.
Erin imagined she’d tripped over a log, banged her head, and was now prone on the beach, dreaming all this insanity. If she was dreaming–she gasped in the quiet–she could be overtaken by the tide and drowned. Her first reaction was to start pinching herself but nothing changed.
Under her breath she mumbled. “Wake up, Erin. Wake up before you die.” Another hard pinch caused her to flinch, but nothing else.
She looked over to see Don’obahu grinning at her again, and she wondered if he could ever do anything other than smile. It was a tad disconcerting.
“Your arrival has woken the beast, and now we will be freed. You wake us from our long slumber, a death without dying.”
“Should I be sorry?”
If possible, his grin widened. “Never, Pathfinder. You will trample your foe and lead us on the path to our gifted land of green and brightness and goodness. You will return our overlord.”
“I think you’ve got the wrong person, Donny.”
“Don’obahu. Please, Pathfinder, call me Bahu. And no, you are the exact one we awaited. A young woman of eyes blue as the sea and skin the color of warm caramel. It is all in the prophecy,” he said as though she should know all about it.
“That could be any number of people in the world. I’m nobody. I’m a failure and a pariah.”
“No, I am sure it is you we seek. Come,” he said and started to jog toward a large white tent in the midst of hundreds of smaller ones at the lowest point of the valley now slowly being illuminated by two rising suns–one yellow, one blue.
Erin didn’t know what to say. The circumstances and the things she saw were beyond explanation. She still wanted to believe she was dreaming, but she decided to follow the dream wherever it led and jogged after Bahu.