Alex Iby, Unsplash
Update: The time limit for the lightning contest has now expired. I’ll announce the winners when I post Episode 4. Hugs!
Welcome back one and all!
I really do intend to promote everyone who named a character for this serial. Yes, that’s a lot of characters… but I will try to do it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm or confuse the story. I hope to avoid reader-overwhelm and character chaos as much as I can.
In fact, I’m adding a page with very brief information about each character. I’m not happy with the page, but you might find it minutely helpful, so I’ll go ahead and post it. I hope to update the page and improve on it. However, I gave it too much writing-time this weekend. Apparently the free version of WordPress I use isn’t compatible with table apps… but here goes nothing.
I’m not delaying the disclosure of Bedlam’s story-opening, big, trouble-causing vision as part of a strategy. I’m flying by the seat of my pants (too bad I don’t have wings, huh?), and the story just hasn’t worked around that way, despite my initial intentions.
About This Episode
This time we see a snapshot of that other, darker faery-verse. Bedlam’s visions seem to become more real to her as they progress.
If you’re playing catch-up, click here for the first episode.
Aziz Acharki, Unsplash
The ringing in my ears overwhelmed everything else. I could hardly breathe. The room swayed. The people I respected most in all of Thistledown were gathered in the kitchen of Peaches Dragonfly.
I was shocked by their unexpected presence. I was awed and horribly embarrassed. Then foolishly, I let my wing get caught on something — a child’s mistake. So I was also in both physical and emotional pain. Embarrassed was a far from adequate description. I was mortified. I jumped to my feet quick as lightning.
When I got up so fast, the kitchen seemed to tilt. Large black spots danced before my eyes. The ringing in my ears became a roar. Abruptly everything stopped.
Everything was gone. Light. Sound. Pain. But not fear. I strained my eyes to see in the sudden advent of a dank gray world. In my mind I squirmed. This colorless place was familiar. The awful vision that brought about my situation — was I having it again? I was sure it was the same place. However, this felt even more real than my vision.
A shaky breath crept into my lungs. I blinked trying to clear my eyes. The blurring left my sight, but the world around me was still murky. Tan would have been a bright color in that place.
Edwin Austin Abbey, Fairies, circa 1900
Someone was talking to me. I knew that voice well, although it had a different edge. I swayed as I turned toward the voice.
“Dah-le! So you made it back, did you?”
My vision was blurry, but I saw black clothes relieved only by a scarf and boots in bright purple. My eyes found the hazy face of River Mindshadow. However, something was not right. I blinked hard and looked at her again.
“What? You’re not River!” I exclaimed, feeling more alert.
“Hahaha!” she barked a guffaw that was unlike the lilting laughter of River Mindshadow. “Who? It’s me, Rotten! It’ll hurt my feelings if you forgot me so fast. So, did you come back to tell me more of your saccharine dreams? I admit they were entertaining.”
“I remember. You’re called Rotten Soulfire. You were in my vision,” I recalled, and she gave another harsh laugh. “You’re like my friend River Mindshadow — but, but not. You aren’t exactly opposites though… It’s as though one of you is from sunlight and the other is from shadow,” I said without thinking, and then I worried that she, Rotten, would be offended.
“Does everyone in your dream have a counterpart in reality? Oh, you look confused. Should I say in my reality?” Rotten asked in a playful voice, but there was a wicked gleam in her eyes. “I wonder if we could get the two together. That sounds like a ton of fun! I mean, can you imagine the looks on all their faces? The self-important snots here and the goody two shoes you told me about?”
Rotten leaned closer and looked at me curiously before continuing, “I’ve been looking around since the other time I saw you, Bedlam Thunder. Far as I can tell, you don’t exist,” she commented in a pointed tone that was speculative but somewhat suspicious. “So maybe you really are from some goody-goody faery-verse. But maybe you really belong here instead of in your home. I mean a moniker like Bedlam Thunder? That’s not a sweetness and light name like the ones you’ve mentioned. It seems like you should have been called something sugary like Fleur Rainbow!” she said and collapsed in a gale of laughter.
Her brows knitted and she added, “You don’t look so good. Hold on, what’s that on you back? Holy moma! Wings?” she asked, still laughing. “You been to a cos party?”
Then Rotten’s face transformed in an expression of confusion and concern. She hesitantly pushed away the flap at the back of my dress that allowed for wings to unfold. It was a typical fashion among the faeries of Thistledown. Faery clothes were often backless, to allow for wings. However folks in Thistledown were quite modest so flaps or even caplets were attached to cover the back. Plus flight was mostly a means of traveling. We didn’t go zooming around willy-nilly instead of simply walking.
“There’s a little blood here,” Rotten commented, still sounding puzzled.”
Then she touched the joint where my wings depended from my back. Rotten quickly drew back her hand and gasped. She looked at me with bulging eyes.
“Holy moma— Oh sweet— Holy— They’re real? They’re real! Oh my God!”
My grand-uncle once told a story of a place where faeries had no wings. I thought it was just meant to frighten us. Could it be that this girl had no wings? That was hard to imagine. However, her shirt was tailored to her body. It couldn’t have been comfortable. It would have been too confining across the shoulder and wing area. Were wings something strange and alien to her?
I looked at Rotten in consternation. I didn’t know what to say. Finally I told her I had caught my wing and made a small tear.
“Ouchers! That couldn’t have been fun,” she commented, regaining her composure but still sounding tentative. “Tell ya what. You ran off pretty quick last time. Why don’t you stick around? Come and meet some friends. We’ll see what trouble we can get into,” she offered to my surprise.
I would have been amazed by what had to be a quick recovery, if indeed Rotten was from a place where folk didn’t have wings. However, she was clearly unsettled. I believed she was trying to hide her uncertainty.
“Hey! Rotten!” came a new voice. “Oh, there you are. Dah-le! Who’s this?” she asked.
As the owner of the voice came into my field of vision, I realized she wasn’t alone. Another girl, also about my age was with her. Her long hair was dark, but I noticed several rainbow colored strands discretely tucked behind her ears.
“Come on with me Sat, don’t be shy. Wow! You two been having a smack down? She looks a little rumpled. Wait a minute. That looks like a wing,” commented the newcomer, abruptly perplexed.
I noticed that her clothes were mostly dark, similar to Rotten’s apparel. Her hair was as black as her leather jacket. I wondered if the dullness of this place influenced everything about the people, even the clothes they wore. She did, however, have a bright pink top under the jacket.
“Hey Desert. Love the shirt! That must have gotten you a shocked look or two. I’ll bet that’s Satellite with you,” Rotten greeted the girls, and the one with rainbow streaks gave a mischievous grin in return.
“Great timing,” Rotten added with a nod to me. “This one is called Bedlam Thunder. You should hear some of the stuff she babbles when she’s knackered. I ran into her once before,” Rotten told the girl as she poked my side with her elbow. “Bedlam Thunder, meet Desert Firesong and Satellite Frostbite.”
“Dah-le, Desert. You didn’t tell me you had polite friends. I’m not sure that’s socially acceptable,” Satellite joked.
“Woah! What’s up Bedlam?” Rotten Soulfire cried. “You having a seizure or something? Bedlam? Bedlam!”
I sneezed so hard it felt like my head would come off. The voice of Rotten Soulfire still echoed in my mind. I sneezed again. And again. My nose, mouth, and even my ears felt like they were on fire. I sat up on my elbows, but I think my sneezes had brought me upright.
“Lie back down. You just got up too fast. You don’t want to faint again do you?” I heard Peaches Dragonfly tell me in a voice that seemed far away.
Everyone thought I had simply stood up to fast. Didn’t they know that I had been somewhere else?
Maybe my body hadn’t left, I thought. My grand-uncle had told me about that kind of vision. The mind went to one place while the body stayed in another. The passage of time in the two planes could differ. Was that what happened?
“Thank goodness you got here when you did! I’m glad Field found you,” a voice said to someone else.
My face was squeezed up for another sneeze, but I forced one eye open. The speaker was Ember Beamwitch. The present rushed back into my awareness. My eyes followed Ember’s gaze.
A woman in a red dress smiled brightly. I recognized the lamp maker, Pepper Stargazer. Some of the peppers she grew were so hot they (with a touch of fae encouragement) could burst into flame. She parlayed that talent into making lamps.
“Morning-fire peppers work better than smelling salts,” Pepper replied. “Are you alright, Bedlam? Oh by the way, Peaches, I brought the party lanterns. Anybody want to help me string them up? Just let me know where you want the lights,” she added.
Pepper Stargazer led the cousins Peaches and Pick Dragonfly, and Ember out to where she had presumably parked her wagon. I knew it would be filled with pepper fueled lanterns and other party lights for the solstice celebration Peaches would soon host. Catseye Glimmer held the door for the others, and then gave us a wave before he followed. I noticed he was much taller than the others. Catseye was the only person I knew who didn’t have to crane his neck to look up at the furry faery, Field Yewwasp.
Oh, the furry faery had been in the room, I thought. I didn’t see him leave the kitchen with the others. In fact, I hadn’t seen him since I recovered from my faint. I mentioned it to Calico Rainbowforest.
“How anyone so large can move so fast is beyond me,” Calico muttered. “He zipped out of here the instant you hit the ground. I’m sure he went to meet Pepper Stargazer on her way here, and asked her to come as fast as she could with her swoon-remedy. He’d be outside with the others. I doubt he could resist tinkering with the lanterns.”
I nodded mutely. Then I started sneezing again. I should probably have thanked Pepper, but I couldn’t stop sneezing long enough. I thought I was alone, so I groaned about adding inflamed sinuses to my sore wing and bruised pride.
“Maybe those ‘morning fire peppers’ work a little too well,” Calico commented with a wink.
A sneeze that had been painfully slow to come out finally exploded from my mouth.
I found myself telling Calico about the vision that had just overtaken me, despite my fear that my vision would be made public. She promised not to write about it in the Thistledown Trumpet unless I was ready.
Turn_pin_spectacles, circa 1800
When I finished describing what I had just seen, she took a deep breath and pushed her spectacles back on her nose. Though I had only told her about the most recent vision, it was outrageous enough. I didn’t go into the bigger, truly frightening one.
Calico got up and moved to the big sideboard. She picked up a cut crystal bottle containing a sparkly amber colored cordial and two glasses.
“Here, Bedlam. This will do you good under the circumstances,” she murmured handing me a glass of the cordial. “It sounds like maybe you’re ready to tell the full story, but let’s wait until everyone is together. There’s no point wasting your strength to tell it twice. I realize it’s traumatic for you to even think about discussing it,” Calico said knowingly.
Calico was right. I did feel better after drinking the cordial. The magic Peaches Dragonfly had with baking seemed to work in everything she made. We went outside to watch as the lights were hung.
Glitter Shimmerling arrived in a small carriage powered by a score of hamsters happily running in their exercise wheels. To the delight of all, she brought a rose covered chocolate cake and offered everyone a slice.
She let the hamsters out to cavort with Stellar the cat. Stellar chased the hamsters then playfully turned and they chased her.
From the moment the vision overtook me, the one that started all the trouble, I had feared it was prophetic. I couldn’t be certain, but the one I had just seen with Rotten Soulfire and her friends was the same place. However, it seemed more real, more current. I shuddered thinking that such a place could be real, that perhaps my home could become such a place.
Even though I felt uneasy with them, Rotten, Desert, and Satellite didn’t seem “bad.” However, their home surely was a dark place. Could there be a place where kindness was seen as stupidity and civility was viewed with contempt? Would that negativity seep into all the people?
Although I didn’t remember it, Rotten Soulfire told me I had described my world as “sugary.” Wherever her world was, nearly everything I saw was dark, dull, or black. I wondered what Rotten would make of Glitter’s hamster powered carriage or her naturally shimmering lavender hair.
End Episode 3
Hypothetically, I’d like to imagine this serial as a TV show. The mystery folk (the people who named characters) would be actors playing roles in the show. The new mystery folk who were revealed in this episode:
- Kathryn of Another Foodie Blogger and Austin Street Tacos
- Robbie Cheadle of Robbie’s Inspiration
- Olga Núñez Miret (but this time the dark faery-verse or “scary faery”)
- Adele Marie Park (a scary faery) of Firefly 465
- Vashti Quiroz-Vega (another scary faery) of The Writer Next Door
Be sure to come back next time for another episode of Thistledown — Midsummer Bedlam. It’s only here at Teagan’s Books. Mega hugs!
This is a work of fiction. Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © July 2, 2017 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene
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