Time’s Choice

6th Anniversary

The 6th anniversary of my flash fiction blog is here!

6 years ago today I wrote my first flash fiction and created my blog. Last year I started celebrating the anniversary with a story of time. This year I decided that celebrating time passing with another chapter to the time story from last year was fitting. I hope you enjoy your time here as much as I enjoy writing stories to share.

Here’s to more years of stories!

Surrounded by rubble, Erieri, Guardian of all Times, absently nibbled her sandwich leaning against her favorite spot. The selected column had fallen and eroded to cradle her back while she lazily draped her arm over the stone.

The field carried a noticeable yellow tinge to the grass and shrubs today. The breeze brushed across her face with tendrils almost suffocatingly hot. At least compared to what she considered normal. Though normal was a thought this place protested. Still, if the heat seeped into things here it could seep back out to elsewhere. Erieri couldn’t leave that.

Taking the last bite, she brushed the crumbs from her hands and pushed away from the pillar. Standing free, Erieri closed her eyes and held out her arms, opening herself to the plane and time, seeking the source the heat was trickling from. Eyes snapping open, she stared into the distance her sight said was the same as any other. There. She strode forward answering time’s call.

The plane moved about her, the same as always until it wasn’t, or she stumbled into the center’s circle. Erieri strode seeking what was different about this direction. A disc of light flashed into existence a breath before she smacked into it.

Her eyes darted down and back to the top of the light again. Disc was the best descriptor she had, though the sides wobbled, changing too rapidly to claim any shape long. The ever-changing edges wafted ripples across the center, vying for control of the light. Erieri circled and the thing moved with her, morphing and warping to keep her in front.

She stopped and furrowed her nose. “Well something is demanding today.” She’d never seen or heard of anything like this before. She twisted and glared into the horizon. Old Hendat was nowhere to be seen. Not that his answers would be less then maddening. If he bothered to give them. More likely he’d tell her to figure it out herself.

She turned back to the portal and puffed out a breath, blowing her bangs out of her eyes.

Erieri blinked.

Bangs? When had she gotten those dread things? Time was getting away from her.

Fine. It wanted her attention. It had it. Reaching out Erieri touched the disc. Light spilled out from the surface, wrapping about her hand, and yanked. Stumbling forward, heat dried Erieri’s throat.

The plane disappeared and the ground shifted beneath feet. Stumbling Erieri found a dune shifting beneath her boots the golden sand unsettled by her appearance. Light and heat reflected from the sun. “Ugh.” She stepped backward finding footing above the ground. Her boots were held firm by ground that would be there or had already there. Hendat would’ve reminded her there wasn’t a difference where she was concerned. Whatever the case, Erieri was grateful to free her feet from the furnace the sand.

“Aiye!” a voice screamed. Yanking herself about, Erieri saw a man stumbling backward. Sand scattered in waves about him as he shoved backward eyes wide.

Erieri narrowed her eyes, trying to see him clearly through the light and dust. He was young, perhaps little more than a youth, but he was well constructed. A change for the Allurer’s rush constructions. Beyond Hendat, he was the only man to visit the planes. “Allurer be gone.” Raising her chin, Erieri folded her arms.

The man responded in a series of sounds with more consonants then Erieri could process. She raised a hand covering one ear at the barrage of noise. There was nothing alluring about that. Who was he? She tilted her head allowing the wind to shift about her, tendrils of time passing through her. “Demon, demon!” The sounds resolved themselves as time taught her the tongue. “Don’t drag me to your realm.”

She glanced over her shoulder and saw the portal glowing red, but still sticking obsessively with her. Erieri sighed. No, there was a time the sight of someone appearing from a red portal would have disturbed her as well. “I’m no demon.” She turned back, wrapping her tongue around the strange sounds.

The boy screamed louder, his blue eyes widening as he fell back over the dune’s ridge. Drifting forward, Erieri allowed her feet touch the ground as she reached the crest.

The man was still tumbling backward toward a string of people twisting through the sands. More hands had lifted and pointed her direction. Red stained the sand in front of her. Erieri drifted downward as fingers pointed up.

Pain seared through her side. Gasping, her hand clamped around a wooden shaft. Learning forward a man appeared beside her, light clothing blending with the dune beside him. He glowered, driving the weapon deeper. Erieri gurgled and collapsed. Her blood was absorbed by the sands as it hit the ground. Light enveloped her.

“Demon. Demon!” She gasped, pressing her hands against her side as the light blinded her. The pain was gone, and her side felt whole. The ground shifted beneath her feet again. Looking, she saw the golden dune washing against her boots as it had when she’d first arrived. The boy was there again, stumbling in his sudden change of direction again. He’d been moving her direction before she’d appeared, she realized.

Erieri raced forward, grabbing for his arm whirling beneath a scrap of fabric which provided scant shelter from the sun. The cloth ground against her skin and slipped away. “No, don’t run.” She screamed chasing after him.

Erieri wasn’t sure if she’d spoken in his language or hers. Either way he ran. She followed, spitting sand as a plume struck her face. Reaching the crest, Erieri tackled him, the ground sliding beneath them, knocking them into a tumble of elbows, knees and heads knocking into each other. They landed in a heap at the base of the dune. Erieri gasped trying to gain her breath after the last blow.

A man dressed in light clothing appeared beside them, his dark eyes glaring as he raised a wooden spear. Erieri stretched her arm, holding out her hand. “Stop!” she screamed. The wood plunged into her chest, robbing her scant breath as light robbed her sight.

The cycle repeated. Erieri stepped into the sand to see the boy screaming, stumbling backward, not from the sands but a sudden rapid change of direction as he ran from her. She’d chase. She’d go the other way. She’d stand still. Always the dark eyed man came for her. His wooden shaft piecing and stealing her life again.

Always when she drifted time grabbed her yanking her back. The light blinded and the cycle returned again.

What did time want from her? Turning toward the disc, Erieri beat her hands against it knowing the disc was time protecting her and trapping her. She leaned against it, hands braced wide. Time answered to her, but this would not obey her in this barren world. The spear drove into her back.

Erieri dropped to the ground as she light released her again. Her fists beat against the ground, driving beneath the surface with a puff and into the compacted ground beneath. The heat blistered about her hands threatening to burn her. “No!” Her voice carried her frustrations echoing over the dunes.

Erieri was time. She bent it to her will. Hendat had taught her to weave the flows, not be tangled in them. “Why am I here!” Her tears evaporated as they rolled down her cheeks. “How do I go home.”

A hand touched her shoulder. She turned and the boy stood at her shoulder. He moved shifting beside her until she sat in his shadow. His blue eyes looked at her in sympathy, echoing her trapped feeling. “Escape?” He looked to the portal of light behind her.

Erieri shook her head. “It won’t answer me.” She pushed herself from the ground.

“Escape,” he asked again. His eyebrows rose, as he gnawed his lips raw from heat and exposure.

“Escape if it will listen.” She waived her hand at the portal, abrupt and fast with frustration. A shadow stretched over them from the crest of the dune. The dark eyed man stood there, the blasted spear in his hands. “No,” she moaned, the sound twined by the boys.

Erieri looked at him. Her despair mirrored in his face. Oh time. He’d been running when she’d come, and she’d wrecked it for him every time. Why would time make them suffer together?

Reaching up, she clasped his hand and smiled mournfully. Perhaps next time she could find the power to free him. She gasped as energy was yanked from her, moving from her hand to his. The boy straightened as the energy washed over him. The disc circled to rest behind him, abandoning Erieri.

He turned toward the disc. “Escape now.” His palm slammed against the disk, power washed from him into the surface unraveling the bands of time that had trapped them both. The boy stumbled into the light dragging Erieri with him.

Arms wrapped around Erieri, gripping and holding her inches from smacking her face against the grass plane. The yellow seeped out of the plants as she took a deep breath. Thankfully cool air rushed into her lunges. She shifted, scrambling to put feet beneath herself and stand. “Hendat, thank–” The words died in her throat as Erieri turned.

The man behind her was not her mentor nor the allurer. He posture matched Hendat’s though, confident of his place here. He was grace wrapped within flowing fabric which responded to a breeze she did not feel. His eyes were blue. “You’re the boy?” She reached toward him.

He grinned, grabbing her hand before she could touch him. The grip was strong and the smile friendly. “And you’re the demon,” he teased. “Nice to finally meet you again.”

“Who are you?” Erieri scrunched her brows. “How are you here. Only Hendat visits me here when chooses or the–”

“Allurer?” the man broke in. “A pain that one. Though probably not as much as Hendat’s vague answers. I almost regret teaching him that bad trait for our sake. If I hadn’t, I might have saved us both pain. As to the why, until now I did not know you to visit. You were an unseen shadow.” Erieri opened her mouth, unsure what to ask.

“What!” a voice cried interrupting them. Erieri turned and Hendat stood in the distance. “Don’t tell me she’s a chooser, Cromac?”

“Student, you’d be wise to watch your tone.” The man, Cromac, turned to Hendat with a glower.

Cromac? Hendat’s mentor? “But if you’re Cormac, you proceeded me here.” Cormac grinned at Erieri. She grunted rolling her eyes. What was proceeding in this place?

Cormac turned to Hendat crossing his arms. “She’s a chooser indeed.” He winked at Eriei. “I’m pleased to finally thank you for choosing me.”

“Chooser?” she repeated. Hendat might have mentioned that once. Something about some, only some being choosers as well. Had she chosen a proceeding guardian? Erieri raised her hands and rubbed her temples. “This place isn’t going to get less complicated, is it?”

“No,” Hendat huffed folding his arms. “And this place is going to get crowded.”

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