Hullo, hullo! 😀
I just got a message from @steemitboard telling me that it’s my first Steem birthday! Woo! Party time! I knew it was coming up soon, but thought it was in a few more days… around the 16th or so… guess I was wrong, haha! ~ I’ll have to write up a Steemversary post later. 😀 For the time being though, it’s time for the next installment of Certain Chaos!
Still playing catch-up and using old prompts. The prompts I used today were:
(Rather enjoying doing two prompts at a time, actually. Might need to find secondary prompts when I get back on the correct day!)
Today’s Wordcount: 2323
Total Wordcount: 14000
The last thing Henry remembered was flying through the overgrown foliage at top speed. Leaves of all shapes, sizes, and colours whipped past in a blur, and sharp, thin branches whipped across his legs, slicing into his skin as his body dangled over the shoulder of a ginger-maned monster, as his fists pounded frantically, and futilely, against the beast’s hairy back. The creature sped faster than the minivan he had driven in his nightmare, its long legs passing the distance with an unnatural ease; it ducked under low-hanging branches, side-skirted thick trunks, leapt over creeks and rivers in single bounds, and then everything went dark.
Now he was… here. Wherever ‘here’ was.
Golden rays filtered in through the small window opposite the thick, leafy pile he lay upon, and he shielded his eyes before the harsh glare could exacerbate his headache. He paused, furrowing his brow. His head no longer hurt, and neither did his arm as he lifted it to his face. Drawing in a deep breath, he exhaled it in a long and slow sigh. His heart didn’t wrench in agony and his veins didn’t throb. All of his pain was gone. Along with Cassandra, Sebastian, and whatever the hell that ginger giant was.
He climbed upright and hopped from one foot to the other, grateful that his previously aching bones no longer rebelled, and cast a slow, cautious eye around the unfamiliar room. The walls were crafted of tree branches woven tight within long dried grasses, the single window was embellished with lime vines dotted with tiny pink flowers, and there was a giant banana-leaf hanging low, the faint gleam of sunlight about its edges, that he assumed served as a door.
His ears pricked up. There were voices outside —human voices. Hopefully they didn’t belong to any more cultists. They didn’t sound as dull and flat as those that belonged to the bizarre people in the pub, these were happy, vibrant, giggly, and a few held just your average conversational tone. The last time he had heard such voices was when the deluded youth would visit Harclyffe, otherwise the old town-hall was silent, the only voices spoken in hushed whispers.
The banana-leaf swept open and Henry stumbled back as the silhouette of a woman was revealed. She paraded into the room and practically jumped into place before him, placing both hands on her hips as she exclaimed, “You’re awake! How lovely to finally meet you.”
Without warning, her hands shot up into the air and thrust themselves onto his shoulders and gave them a small, gleeful shake.
“You seem well. Well, weller than you were before. Fantastic, just fantastic. That was quite some vile poison in you, you know. The elders had a hell of a time untangling it from your system. Oh, but you’re good, goooood! Healthy and alive. No other way to be, if you ask me. What’s your name?”
The woman was crazy! Henry extracted himself from the woman’s hands and took another step back, warily watching, unable to speak, as she hopped up and down like she had downed twenty cups of coffee before dancing her way inside. She was positively bouncing off the walls. He blinked rapidly, willing his eyes to hurry up and adjust to the bright sunlight flowing through the gaping leaf-door, and at last focused on the bouncy lady.
She was only slightly younger than he but hadn’t yet been cursed with the thick streaks of grey that would inevitably appear in her brunette curls, the ringlets framing her flushed, excited cheeks. White flowers were woven into a headband reminiscent of the old hippie days, and she wore a flowing green dress that was as old and ratty as any of the items he had handled when working for Harclyffe, yet was actually clean. He didn’t believe clean clothes actually existed anymore; the water was filthy —even that bitch Cassandra, despite her flawless golden hair, had filth and muck ingrained into her clothes.
“Aww, cat got your tongue?” she winked. “I assume you still have a tongue, right? I think you do. I mean, the elders would’ve repaired it if you’d lost it, and you’re up and standing. That means you must be all fixed!”
“E-elders?” Henry finally muttered.
“See, you can talk! Now, what’s your name? We can’t keep calling you ‘the new fella.’ You do have a name, right? We can give you one if you haven’t got one but you seem old enough to have one. Do you remember it? I think you might be a ‘Simon,’ you look like one!” she giggled. “I’m Simone. Simon and Simone. Imagine that! So, are you a Simon?”
Henry stared incredulously at the bouncy woman and spluttered, “No.”
“Oh no, that’s such a pity. That could’ve been hilarious!” she giggled again.
He didn’t know what was worse —the attempted murder by Cassandra and her cultists or listening to this bimbo. At least she wasn’t trying to kill him. Yet. Who knew what lurked behind that cheerful facade. Perhaps her crazed cheer was her weapon of choice. He paused and forced a smile; he was being ridiculous, they’d had plenty of time to kill him.
“Henry!” she clasped her hands together and folded them into a steeple, then grinned. “Wonderful, wonderful, just wonderful. Oh, the elders will be so pleased that you have woken up. I mean, they worked so hard on you, you know. I don’t think they’ve ever quite worked on someone that much before. Oh, except old Riley. They had to repair his entire stomach when he fell onto a stake! Can you imagine?” she shuddered. “Anyway, please, follow me.”
“Uh, so, who are these elders you keep mentioning?”
Simone’s grin near split her face into two as she motioned for him to follow her out of the branchy room. He stood at the door and took stock of his surroundings, his eyes widening at the hand-crafted town he found himself within. Hundreds of tiny cottages, similarly created out of the same branches as the one he’d just awoken in, were placed in neat and tidy rows, each home separated by colourful gardens blooming with flowers he had never seen before and each row separated by a dainty, pebbled path strewn with large white circular pavers. People of all ages, children and elderly alike, wandered along the pathways and darted in and out of the gardens, the kids laughing and playing as they always had whilst the adults carried large baskets and chatted to one another as they went on their way. Just ahead, in what appeared to be the very centre of the town, was a giant tree hanging with lanterns and holding thick nests on each forked branch… and two of those ginger-haired giants standing by a banana-leaf door in a hollow at the base.
His heart leapt up into his throat and tried to choke him.
“Th-that’s the… one of those things stole me —I have to get out of here!”
Clutching his arm before he could escape, Simone laughed, “She didn’t steal you, silly-bum. She rescued you! As well as healed you, kept you hydrated, allowed you a bed, gave you life once more… oh, they’re a wonderful people. You’ll see when you meet them!”
“I don’t want to see.”
“Oh, goodness! Stop being such a baby. The babies are braver than you. They mean you no harm. They’re helpers. They help those who are in need. I, too, was once helped and healed by these wondrous people,” she sighed. “See, I was left in the rain. My skin burned. There was no way for me to get home… not that I was wanted back home, anyway. But then one of these elders leapt from the trees and hurried me to a shelter. Oh, yes, of course I was scared. Ooooh, the big scary yowie was going to eat me! But, they just don’t do that. Now I happily work for them.”
“Yowies!?” Henry yelped. Australia’s Bigfoot. Was that really what these ginger giants were? Weren’t they supposed to go around tormenting people, killing their dogs, vandalising property… that sort of thing? They weren’t known as healers! “Are you serious? And you work for them? How on earth do you work for them?”
Simone sighed again, this time a hint of exasperation evident beneath her bouncy rapid-fire words.
“Okay, okay. Fine. I’ve got an idea! You’re clearly not ready, but I bet you’re hungry, hey? So, we’ll go get you something to eat, show you around the village a bit, get you settled, and then I’ll take you to the elders.”
As though in response to her words, his stomach lurched and released a gurgle so loud that the people several feet ahead of them turned and raised an eyebrow at him. It wasn’t like he had a choice, and he was pretty damned hungry. When was the last time he had even eaten? Swallowing heavily, he simply nodded and allowed the chatty woman to lead him to the edge of Yowie Village.
It seemed that the village was situated in the centre of a large clearing. The Yowie Tree in the middle of the village stretched up into the sky and dwarfed the trees that surrounded the grassland, the little woven branch cottages with their banana-leaf doors appeared as fairytale houses beneath the gleaming sun, and the white paths shone bright as white ribbons that danced alongside each abode.
They came to a gazebo the size of four of the cottages. There were several tables beneath the canopy, all covered with various cups and platters, and just to the side were more perfect rows, this time of vibrant green trees dotted with millions of red berries. People scaled the trees by the dozens and were picking the berries, carefully, almost lovingly, and were gently placing them into baskets. He paused as the faint whiff of something very familiar touched his nostrils… familiar and unexpected. It couldn’t be. He sniffed deep and saliva flooded his mouth as the hint of coffee overwhelmed his senses.
“Good God,” he whispered, his eyes focusing on the tables. Not only were they piled high with cups and plates, but the cups were filled to the brim with rich, dark coffee and the platters held coffee cake after coffee cake, and was that… he narrowed his eyes —it was. It was bacon, with a coffee coloured sauce.
His stomach lurched with a hunger he hadn’t felt since… ever. Was it really bacon? He hadn’t even seen a pig since the day the solar incident breached their skies, and honestly, who in their right mind would pair bacon with coffee? Right mind, right; judging by Simone’s exuberance, not one person here could possibly be in their right mind. The snorts of pigs broke through his incredulousness and he whipped his head to the right. How could he have missed it? On the opposite side of the gazebo was a fenced-off paddock filled with the curly-tailed creatures. Okay, maybe it truly was bacon. He sent Simone a side-glance and nodded towards the giant plate of crispy meat strips.
“Uh, is that what I think it is?”
“The bacon? Well, Henry, if it looks like bacon and smells like bacon and the beast that provides it is staring right at you from the cull-pens… I’d daresay that it’s bacon!”
“Well, Simone, it doesn’t smell like bacon. All I can smell is coffee.”
“Oh, I know,” Simone sighed, wistfully. “Isn’t it wonderful? We’re in paradise, Henry; a coffee-fuelled, bacon-crunching paradise. Welcome home!”
“I must be dreaming,” Henry replied, staring at the delicious strips. Coffee —coffee everywhere! That certainly explained the woman’s jittery hyperactivity. He hadn’t had coffee in so long. After the solar incident, it had been so bad. The caffeine withdrawals he had suffered through during the weeks after the incident had nearly been traumatising. Even though it had been twenty odd years, he remembered the sharp migraines, fatigue, and nausea with a perfect clarity. It was as though it were only yesterday he had been forced to wean himself from the glorious liquid.
And what would happen if he were to leave this place? After indulging in coffee, and syruppy coffee bacon, and coffee cake for a month or two, would he be able to handle the withdrawals? He shuddered. Why would he leave this place though? Simone was right; it looked like a paradise… maybe it actually was one. It wasn’t as though he had anywhere else to go and maybe the yowies truly were a benevolent people, that they had been misunderstood in the past… or maybe the solar incident had changed them into healers.
He stiffened. The solar incident. Harclyffe. He would undoubtedly still be searching for him and his missing diamond… his presence would endanger these people and these beasts! No, he couldn’t stay. He would have to leave, though he didn’t know where he could possibly go. All the plans had gone out the window when Cassandra had claimed to be a slave and to let her flee with them, away from it all. There was no longer any protection, anywhere. He was doomed.
Henry’s stomach growled again, an intense grumble that penetrated through his stomach lining and vibrated up into his core and straight into his mind. It was still daylight and Harclyffe’s shadowed eyes wouldn’t be able to locate him until night fell, though it didn’t explain why they hadn’t found him while he was trapped in various states of sleep. He took a step towards the tables and stared down at the plates, lightly fingering the edge of the wooden platter beholden with bacon.
The least he could do was enjoy some heavenly sustenance before the end would come.