Upside Down (Short Story… Or Prologue?; My First Excerpt I Promised to You ;))

Upside Down

 

The pitter-tatter of little feet in the hall normally woke her each morning. Today, it was the absence of it.

As Angela worked to flutter her eyelids open, escaping the night’s strong grip as worry kept nagging at her, creeping up her whole body like an unwanted enemy and warning her mind with broken flashes of lucidity. Something was off and it was annoying her. Her brow furrowed as she slowly realized what was going on – or, actually, what was not. Quickly, not minding the dizziness of the sudden move, the brunette propped herself up on her bed with her elbows. Still, she listened closely for any sound at all… but nothing. Now, that was scary! Her heart had started to pump faster as well as her breathing had increased slightly.

Angela didn’t waste time and jumped out of bed, grabbing her light beige and slightly torn jacket and putting it on her yellow nightgown, already running bare feet outside her bedroom. If it were any normal day, she’d have minded the harsh coldness of the tiled ground on her feet – but it wasn’t, so she didn’t. Turning her head in every direction possible, anxiety plain on her face and her hair whipping her cheeks and neck, the 17-year-old girl felt panic rising. This wasn’t normal! No, no! A bit confused at first with where to begin, she finally decided to just run down the huge and long corridor to her left, desperately looking for any sign of life other than her own. Her breathing was getting raspier by the second, sweat beading on her forehead. This wasn’t possible…

Usually, faeries, goblins, imps, elves, and many other magical creatures bustled about the corridors. Every. Early. Morning. It had never failed – until this day. And even though it always made her grumble and sigh, Angela was now missing it cruelly, wishing harder than she ever had before for the noise and excitation to come back. The world seemed almost frozen, slowed to a frighteningly low speed, even inducing a strange sensation of floating and wavering. Her heart thumped against her chest and the air barely seeped in her throat and down to her lungs – perhaps the big lump of stress stuck in her esophagus blocked its full progression. She didn’t even remember she needed to breathe.

Yes, faeries and such. They lived on the first floor, where the brown-haired woman resided. The elves had chosen the fourth floor, whereas the gnomes and goblins preferred the moist scent of the basement. Imps and witches slept on the third floor, and all the others were mixed between the fifth floor and seventh floor as they desired (some even chose to fall asleep under the moonlight and stars, up on the roof where a big bell was mounted – they never used it anymore and most people had forgotten it even existed, much like they did those marvelous beings…) The majestic place she lived in, called the Coven, was an old abandoned place in Italy reconverted into a haven for all which that was magic. Besides her; she was the only exception. Angela was the only human allowed inside its doors. Why? She figured that due to technology, people believed less in what they deemed fantasies, closing their third eyed to the real beauty of the world – no wonder the other humans found it boring, they didn’t even see half of it! Except for Angela: she was one of the rare who still could, and despite their fear and despise for the human race, the creatures had welcomed her with open arms and wings, giving her a home after the fire that destroyed her family. Not only was she grateful, she also didn’t miss the ‘outside’ and took the as family.

Angela, as if suddenly given wings, sprinted down the wide and creamy marble stairs and into a sober, yet impressive hall. Again, the same colour and material everywhere – even the rich-looking benches were made of plain marble! The teenager quickly came to an abrupt stop when she noticed a feminine figure sitting on one of the (uncomfortable) benches in the middle of the room. Her eyes widened with fear and insecurity. The slender blonde slowly turned her face in her direction, her voluptuous heart-shaped lips curving upward with mischief, her thin and perfect legs crossed with her right hand gently cupping her top knee.

‘’Hello, Miracle,’’ said the woman with a grin and a sugary tone of voice that warned of deeper motives. A lock of her hair slid over her cheek, leaving to be seen a beautifully mystical elf-pointed ear.

But why would an elf be here at this hour? They never come down their 4th floor before noon… And who is she?

‘’That’s not my name,’’ Angela replied dryly, hands clenched tightly so as they were turning white, brow furrowed, she was nibbling at her lower lip out of concern.

‘’Oh yes, it is~,’’ cooed the stranger before chuckling. The tall woman stood up, smoothing her light skirt. She shot the young lady a look of two-faced amusement and grinned before calmly and confidently making her way towards the huge wooden doors of the abandoned coven.

I really don’t like her – don’t trust her either. Really, who’s she? Does she even think her acting all mysterious is gonna do the trick!? Hmpf.

‘’Hey! W-wait…!’’ Angela exclaimed, trotting after the woman. ‘’I don’t even know who you are! I’ve never seen you around here… nor anywhere, for that matter!’’

The elf slowed down and put a hand on the right door, gradually opening it as though she had all the time in the world, with only a gentle push it seemed – it was a fact, elves were stronger than humans, indeed! Turning her oval-shaped head only so slightly, she smiled crookedly, shadows playing dangerously over her face due to natural light play. ‘’Then, perhaps it is time you did…’’ On this, the elf slipped outside the building, her chuckling still growing in intensity haunting the hall as it echoed against every wall like a disturbing mantra.

What kind of answer was that?!

Angela gasped then started running after her, awkwardly pushing the door open wider – damn, it was always so heavy! – before freezing right outside the threshold, onto the top of big cement stairs. No one. No noise either. There seemingly wasn’t any soul to be found within the small Italian village nor any hint that could prove a 30-year-old *welf had just exited the Coven. Gaping, with her breathing slowing to a more moderate pace, staring straight before her in blank astonishment. For a town normally buzzing with activity, this sure was peculiar; not even a single sign of life! Nothing. A cold and dry breeze whistled past her, making her long brown hair dance with the wind for a few seconds, accompanied by an eerily shrill sound that whispered to her nothing good. She took in every piece of the odd scenery, now feeling completely unease about it all. Everything had changed by taking a turn for the worst, mainly the ambiance – the houses appeared smaller, crammed together, falling into ruins, and also their colours held a much darker tone, as though gray and dull marine were the new trend.

She trudged for a few feet and halted at the edge of the first step, her incredulous gaze fixed upon the empty and narrow streets. The certainty that something wicked this way came had just established itself  in her whole being, like a dark shadow looming over her, creeping up her every bone and nerve.

What have I gotten myself into?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* welf: woman-elf

 

Catherine Girard-Veilleux

Copyrights, All Rights Reserved

 

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