Thursday, June 12, 2008

Entry #2 New World: Jetta's Fire

Jetta’s Fire
By Sara Harricharan


I awoke to damp darkness. The sensation of pitch black, combined with an unidentifiable paste was nauseating from head to toe. Even the air seemed thick as I forced one hand up and to my face to be sure my eyes were open.

“It’s about time you’re up.” Footsteps shuffled closer, the odd gait carrying a strange rhythm. “Even I don’t sleep for five days and I have a fairly decent reason for doing so.”

Something hard poked my side as I tried to focus on the fuzzy figure towering over me. I opened my mouth, only to hear my stomach growl in reply. I hoped the darkness could hide the blush as the events came rushing back to me.

I shouldn’t be here…wherever here is…The thoughts mixed and jumbled together as I stared upwards. It was a woman, shrouded in the kind of hooded cloak that had gone out of style centuries ago. She was nibbling on the edge of a hunk of bread.

My stomach rumbled again as I forced myself to sit up, and painfully licked my lips. The bottom lip was split, that was certain. And my tongue felt thoroughly blistered.

There was a loud sigh, as she ripped a chunk from the other end and dropped it in my lap. “You’re welcome.” She muttered, turning away.

I mumbled my thanks through the first mouthful. It was rather dry, but tasty. It prompted more memories of my home on Cherry Tree Lane in Virginia. There was lovely Italian restaurant that always had homemade breads and cheese sauce.

By the time I’d polished off the bread, my eyes had adjusted enough to decipher my surroundings. I was in a cave.

There was no noticeable opening, but the air was warmer coming from the different paths at the other end.

“Are you done?”

Her voice made me jump, I hadn’t seen her approach. “Yeah.”

“Good, let’s go.”

“Go where?” I felt my face to assess any further injuries. Everything either hurt or burned in tandem with my confused brain.

“I can’t leave you here.” She started towards the pathways and stopped. “Are you coming?”

“Coming? I don’t even know where I am!” I tried to stand, relieved that my feet didn’t crumble beneath me. “Who are you, anyway? Is this some kind of sick joke? How did I get here?”

“That-” Purple eyes drilled slowly into me. “-is completely beyond me. I can’t leave you if you don’t know where you are, or how you got here, because it means you’re never going back to wherever that was. That, and once I get out of here, if things are as bad as I feel they are, you’d never survive the changeover. Can we go now?”

“Actually, I’m fine right where I am…you go on ahead.” I leaned back against the rock wall and jerked forward. “Ow!” The rock was scalding.

“As if I’m going to leave you to your own devices, you humans think you’re so self-sufficient.” She glided over, stopping a few feet away. “Let’s try this again-I’m Jetta, and we’re in a fire mountain. We shouldn’t be here, understand?” She shook her head slowly. “Good. Can we go now, Kacy?”

Goosebumps danced up my cold arms. “How did you know my name?”

“This conversation is pointless.” Jetta unclasped her cloak, whisking it from her shoulders to settle around mine. She snapped her fingers straight in front of my face. “Walk…follow me.”

My legs began to move of their own accord. “Hey! What’s going on-!”

“Shut your mouth.” Jetta murmured, starting down the path to her right.

A squeak escaped as my mouth clamped shut, my feet hurrying after this crazy woman. I tried to speak a few times, but couldn’t get my mouth to open.

The trip was rather uneventful. It was a lot of rock-climbing on walls with little or no places for one’s foot or hand. Surprisingly, the rocks there were cool to the touch.

I had no way to mark the passage of time, but plenty of silence allowed me to simmer in my private thoughts. I couldn’t remember anything but a street fight on the corner by the drugstore. Everything else was a big, confusing blank that I didn’t want to figure out.

When my stomach took to complaining again, Jetta stopped climbing long enough to look down at me. She muttered something I didn’t understand, then hiked herself up to the next narrow ledge.

“If I let you speak, will you promise to keep quiet?” She reached down to help me up next to her.

I shrugged.

“A yes or no would be fine.” She tugged a cloth from one pocket and proceeded to polish her scuffed boots. “I don’t want to hear any more silly questions and no, I don’t really want to help you. I’m just being polite, because I can’t help myself.”

I opened my mouth and stopped. “My voice…”

“Memorable first words.” Jetta slapped the cloth on the edge of the ridge to shake out the dust. “I need that back if you don’t mind.”

She reached for the cloak and it melted away from me, straight to her. From the shadowy folds, she drew another hunk of bread and split it in half as before. “You’re welcome.”

Fire exploded in my limbs, each one crying out for mercy. I couldn’t have said anything else at that point, everything hurt too much. Whatever Jetta’s cloak had done, it’d taken it back.

Jetta’s mouth twitched, something akin to a smile.

She pushed the folds back over her shoulders and unclasped a tiny blue gem on a gold chain.

The necklace shimmered as funny, rainbow-like shine glowed in the middle. Jetta unscrewed the gem, as if it were a cap and took a few ladylike sips before she handing it over.

I took it gingerly, but after the first mouthful, gulped the liquid as a fast as I could. Water had never tasted so good. Strength seeped back into my body and the pain subsided within seconds. I didn’t need any further encouragement to stuff my mouth as I watched her frown upwards. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She held out her hand, wiggling her fingers. “Give me your hand.”

“Whaf?” I swallowed the mouthful, handing over the water necklace.

Jetta sighed, but took it, clasping it about her neck before extending her hand again. “I meant your hand. I can see the opening from here, so there’s no need to keep climbing.”

“What do you mean?”

Jetta snapped her fingers. “Hand?”

My hand shot straight up, jerking me with it. “Hey!” Her cold fingers gripped mine with a strength I hadn’t pegged her for.

The ground beneath our feet rumbled and then shot straight up-with us on it! I stumbled forward and into Jetta’s shoulder, a shock that made my teeth hurt. She was tougher than the rock, it seemed, and the shaking, or flying, didn’t seem to faze her at all.

My ears began to pop, at the precise moment we shot straight out of a blurry gray and red tube. Jetta had told the truth when she called it a fire mountain. It was a mountain-and it was on fire.

In fact, everywhere was on fire. As far as I could see, it looked as if a huge fire had sprayed its wrath upon the countryside below. Whatever wasn’t smoldering, flames feasted upon the remains.

The stench of death seized me in the first wave, followed by a wall of hopelessness and despair.

Jetta didn’t seem the least bit ruffled as the rock set us down at the base of the mountain. “Don’t.” She said quietly.

I blinked.

“Don’t ask.” She fell to her knees, fat tears rolling down her expressionless face.

The sight tugged at my heartstrings, enough for me to touch her shoulder.

“I should’ve been paying attention.” She smacked the tears away, reaching into her blouse.

Light glinted off the wicked curve of a knife blade. I swallowed, taking a step back as she scraped the blade along her arm. “Uh, Jetta?”

The knife suddenly flew from her fingers and slammed into a blackened tree trunk. Her eyes blazed white as she stood. “This was my home!” Her voice roared across the plains. “These were my people….how dare you destroy this!”

A sudden barrage of imaged flashed through my head in rapid succession. Pictures of people I’d never known, places I’d never been and a gruesome creature I couldn’t identify.

“Jetta…?” I started to say as the pressure mounted steadily, accompanied by a crushing pain in my neck and shoulders. Something scratched my arms as I stumbled backwards and tripped.

My common sense told me that I was dreaming and if I wasn’t, that I should be dead considering all that I’ve apparently managed to live through. Jetta stood over me, trickling droplets from her necklace into my mouth.

I stared dumbly up at her.

She offered a rare smile. “It’s not a good idea to touch an Empath when they’re absorbing.”

“Huh?” I whimpered as darts of pain shot through me for the effort of speaking.

She shrugged. “My powers…it was a temporary lapse of control, my apologies. Are you better?”

I tested each limb in turn, relieved to find that they worked.

“You’re welcome.” Jetta rolled to her feet and started off into a field of greenery.

I scrambled to my feet to stare in amazement. The fiery wreckage was gone, replaced with lush, rolling green hills. “Jetta…!” I scrambled after her.

“I am the guardian of this quadrant.” She pulled the hood up, slowing her pace for me. “Surely you did not expect me to leave the land as scarred and ravaged as it was? Limeris is a vile, despicable being, but it is my duty to help my people.”

“So…you’re like, a warrior?”

“You can call it whatever you wish, I have no objections, save for I do not grant wishes of any sort so don’t even think of asking.”

“So this Limeris guy is pretty bad, huh?”

“Bad doesn’t even begin to cover the darkness that’s come with him.” She sighed. “I was summoned to report, so I am headed to the Guardian Circle. It would appear you are along for the journey.” Her mouth twitched. “How old are you?”

“Sixteen.” I lifted my chin for height.

“Liar.”

“My birthday’s two days away!” I whined.

“Never lie to a telepath, it’s rude.” Jetta yawned. “At least you’re small. I shouldn’t have to fuss over you much.”

“You don’t have to fuss over me at all.” A tiny bauble of hope blossomed into a smile. I could survive her sarcastic words if it meant staying safe.

“Uh-huh? I suppose the healing tonic I keep pouring down your throat, isn’t fussing?”

“Healing tonic?” I froze in mid-step.

“Keep walking, Kacy, keep walking.”

Submitted by
Sara Harricharan

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