Today is Day Five of #freewritemadness + #nanowrimo! 🙂 Today’s prompt was – sponge.
It was another 37 degree (Celsius) day today, and I was sitting here melting for most of it. My brain too. Writing was the last thing I wanted to do.
As a result, my words aren’t the best today. And I feel guilty about it because apparently people actually like my story so far! The little voice in my head tells me that this chapter will let them down. But. Unlike the little voice in my head, I am very well aware that NaNoWriMo is not about coherent perfection. It’s about words. And just doing it! So here it is. Today’s chapter. Just “done”.
Today’s wordcount: 1885
Total wordcount: 9934
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Well, this dress was definitely worthless now. Katéa climbed to her feet and dusted the dirt from her butt. The billowing sleeve that had been torn in the scrub now dangled by a single thread and she glared at it before tearing the useless fabric from the rest of the garment, wincing as her heart tightened; she had just deliberately mutilated the most expensive dress she had ever owned. Well done, Kit-Kat!
The dress had once been white, soft, and delicately embroidered with lace and makeshift pearls. It was a classic bo-ho dress, and now… now it was a boo-hoo dress. It was coated in mud and muck, streaked with green hand prints the same colour as that dead boar’s slimy tongue, and every minute she wore it, it became more and more torn and tattered —wait! Her hands flew to her hair. Good grief. She shook out the tiny twigs and specks of dirt and then scrubbed at her face. She had never thought to think about how she actually looked until right at this moment, and suddenly realised how ghastly she must appear. How come no-one had offered her a bath? Did these people even bathe? Apart from Nessie and the golden-arsed pixies, they all seemed so filthy; even T’rese was covered in dirt beneath that heavy perfume and thick makeup.
She looked around the area. Where the fuck had she ended up this time? This was becoming tiresome. Bright blue mushrooms grew out of jagged cracks in the stone walls and emitted their own brand of light, illuminating the passage she had fallen into —that the dragon had pushed her into with its great flappy wings and stinking breath. The bastard creature. It had to have been a deliberate action… ‘great protector’, indeed.
Dusty spiderwebs formed a thick blanket overhead, but for a gaping hole where she had plummeted through, and she shuddered. It was so typical! That bastard Murphy and his deranged laws. The elf had literally just spoken of an ancient spider cave beneath her beautiful gardens, and now, here she was, in one of those very caves. Synchronous events were never kind.
The spider was gone though; Nessie had said so. But, damn; she had imagined just your average-sized household spider, but for something to have lived in giant-arse tunnels like this, with that much spiderweb excreted from its behind, still lingering after all these years… it must’ve been a big fucker.
Her heart raced and she wrapped her arms around herself, shivering as an icy breeze caressed her now-bare shoulder. A breeze meant there was an exit somewhere nearby —she smirked— unless there was an air-conditioner down here. That was unlikely, but who knew anymore. Nothing made sense. For all she knew, that tavern-cabin-thing was filled with misfits who merely wanted to live a drunken, degenerate lifestyle cut off from the modern day, but that seemed doubtful. It was what it was. However strange that ‘was’ was.
The stone was cold and damp beneath her bare feet, and her toes curled with each step, rebelling against the unpleasant sensation. Oh, God. What if she got pneumonia? Or just sick in general? Did these people have doctors, or medicines, or —squelch.
The stone had transformed into a sponge-like material and was oozing a strange, sticky substance that felt as layers upon layers of freshly chewed gum as she tried to extricate herself from its grasp. Her foot made a slurpy suction noise as she pulled free, only to step back into it.
It was so, fucking, gross! But, at least it wasn’t in her hair… like that time back in primary school when that Dale kid had deliberately smushed his bright purple hubba bubba bubblegum into her long black locks. It all had to be chopped out, the lot of it, and there had been so much! And then came the indignity; mum gave her a pixie cut. She had loathed every day of it until each strand at last grew back out.
“No offence, little pixie women,” she murmured, before shaking her head. That was a bad habit. She needed to stop muttering to herself, and… she furrowed her brow. Hang on. Why was it called a pixie-cut, anyway? The little pixie creatures in the tavern had luscious long hair that spun and twirled as they danced. It was probably Disney’s fault.
“Focus, Kat,” she whispered, before inwardly glaring at herself for speaking out-loud again. She had always been scatter-brained, but now was an unacceptable time for her thoughts to be allowed free reign. She needed to get out of here! Wrenching herself free from the gum-like slime, she sidled up against the cold wall and found solid ground once more, and tentatively continued down the passage, guided by the blue mushrooms and cool wind.
A slow drip echoed along the passage as she slowly progressed, being careful with each foot placement lest she became stuck down here forever on some strange cave glue. A haunting whistle blew alongside the icy breeze and the blue lights briefly brightened before dimming back down. Goosebumps rose over her skin as the tiny hairs that coated her body suddenly stood on end. She swallowed down her rising fear and continued to follow the cold breeze. Hopefully wherever it came from wasn’t too far away. Hopefully she would be out of here soon.
What was that? She narrowed her eyes and focused into the distance. There were flickering lights, reminiscent of the candles inside the tavern, and her heart leapt with an unexpected joy. She had to be close! Those lights, surely they were a positive sign. She quickened her pace, unable to stop the spread of her grin as she stepped up to the two candles situated on either side of an adjacent tunnel, but the smile quickly disappeared. It was not what it seemed. The wax did not drip, and waving a hand over the flames allowed no warmth. She blew at one of them and it moved ever so slightly, but it did not extinguish. Imagine the disappointed kids if these were placed atop a birthday cake! She smirked at the long white tapers. They had to be some form of magical candle. This was a strange fantasy land where pixies, elves, and dragons lived and breathed; why not magic as well? It only made sense… in its own nonsensical way.
The new tunnel was well-lit by more of the ever-burning candles, each one situated on top of symmetrical marble pillars adorned with golden threading. Something silvery shone a few metres ahead. Drawn to the silver like a magpie to the eye in the springtime, Katéa crept towards it, and cringed as the large, empty sockets of a long-decayed skull stared out at her, half-buried in the stone itself. Was this person once a victim of the ancient spider? How did it get half-buried in stone? She shuddered and was about to turn away when the glint of silver flashed out at her again.
It was a silver collar, clasped together by two intertwining serpent heads, and set with a pure obsidian sphere in the very centre. It was nestled below the skull’s watchful eyes, but only gleamed when the magical flames flickered towards it, dulling down to match the stone as the flames swept in the opposite direction. The necklace was untarnished, as though it had been polished within the day and had not been buried in a cold and slimy spider cave for god knows how long. She eyed the skull, half expecting it and its missing body to fully rise out of the stone as she neared the prize it beheld —that would be just her luck. It remained motionless. After several overly long minutes, she breathed a deep breath, leant down, and retrieved the necklace. It was warm, as though it had recently left somebody’s neck, and though it was solid, it collapsed into her hand as easily as though she had crumpled a piece of paper.
It was ugly and gave her the heebie jeebies —Sarah would have said that it radiated a dark aura— but she was compelled to take it, to place it in her pocket. Maybe she could give it to someone for a few of those gold coins that served as currency around here. Her body would never be used as payment and she refused to be caught in the same position as earlier that day, ever again. A chill swept through her blood. Grissom’s illusive fingers gripped her arm, his grotesque face salivating as he stared at her chest, and relief washed over her in a powerful, comforting wave as the gruesome man was replaced by Draven’s cool, calm demeanour, his warm brown eyes smiling down at her from above that deep scar embedded within his cheek.
What was he like when he wasn’t rescuing distressed newcomers, and then leaving them alone, half-drugged, in a snappish, hurried quest to escape Tweetie T’rese’s notice? It wasn’t the most gentlemanly of actions, but she could hardly blame him; it was likely she would have done the same thing in his position. How would the day have panned out if that perfumed hussy hadn’t appeared? A flush warmed her face and she cringed, embarrassed by the direction her thoughts were trying to travel. “Bit soon for that, Kitty,” she muttered.
She was grateful for his rescue. More than grateful. The alternative didn’t bear thinking about. But she couldn’t entangle herself around someone she didn’t even know just because they happened to have freed her from a degenerate’s clutches. She released a deep exhale. She could not spend the rest of her days like this. If she was forced to remain in this bizarre-o land, food and water would be required. New clothes. Somewhere to sleep, to live! There were so many people coming in and out of the tavern… they couldn’t all live at tavern-cabin-thing, right? There had to be a town nearby. Or was that just what she believed based on what she knew from her own reality? Maybe Glouweln itself was a town.
That corridor was awfully long and harboured many doors; did they lead to people’s rooms? Businesses? Homes? Would she be allowed to have one for herself if she managed to find enough of those misshapen coins? Her own private space in this strange new world, somewhere to retreat to when the strangeness became overwhelming… it would be wonderful.
None of that mattered if she couldn’t find the goddamned exit to these bloody spider tunnels. The icy breeze encased her and drew her further along the well-lit passage, but she was no longer discomforted by the perpetual chill; the necklace sat deep in her pocket and imparted a warmth to her body that cut through the cold as easily as a warm knife through cold butter.
She turned into another passage, guided by the cool breeze, and did not notice as the ever-burning candles at her back at last fizzled into the void, as an orange spark briefly flickered into life within the skull’s eye socket, before embracing the blackness.