My fiction class has been fun and educational! One of the best workshops was about de-familiarization. This is all about taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary. It’s kind of like when you are driving on an east bound road at sunrise, and suddenly the back sides of the street signs are transformed into something you have never seen before, bathed in an ethereal orange glow. Here’s my shot at it! Enjoy!
“Kaydan, Kaydan, move,” The Zoran’s voice pulled Kaydan out of her trance and she sat up, pushing her hair out of her eyes.
The Zoran chuckled. “Kaydan, here move,” she said as her hands repositioned Kaydan’s shoulder and legs. “Ready?” she asked holding up the tattoo machine. The machine started buzzing, and the Zoran touched the needle to Kaydan’s shoulder. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain and took a shallow breath inhaling the earthy smell of the incense burning around her, and let it out slowly through her nose. She let the pressure of the needle, the heat from the lamp on her skin and the buzz of the machine lull her back into a trance. Kaydan searched her memories to help her get through the tattooing.
She thought about how she had escaped from the army before finally making it to the Zoran’s village. The big man they called Hamlin had left her alone in his musty tent. She sat on the canvas floor, and took a long deep breath. She needed to reassess her situation, the mission was too important to give up or panic.
Hamlin had done nothing more than scream obscenities at her, as if that would get her to confess secret information. What she could tell him would mean nothing to him even if she did spill it. The coded message for the Zoran didn’t mean much to her either.
Kaydan needed to focus on escaping. She called her power to her and felt it glowing inside her chest. She pictured heat radiating down her arm and out to her fingertips and into a consolidated flame. She sent cool, wet wind down her other arm. She touched the tiny flame to back of the tent, while using the cool wet wind to keep the fire focused and controlled. It only took seconds, and then she ran through the dark forest. She called her power one more time and sent comforting warmth over her entire body, willing the power to turn eyes from her, so she would not be seen. The power would only last a few minutes, but she would need it to get past the sentries.
They had surprised her in the forest when she first came upon the army. She had not seen them in their suites covering them in the dark green of forest shadow then, but she picked them out now as she ran by them, protected by magic.
Kaydan opened her eyes to the Zoran patting her shoulder with a soft towel. Kadan looked up at her, “Why are you stopping?”
“I think you’ve had enough for one sitting. You need a break.”
“No, no. We have to get this done. I’m fine.”
“Kaydan, your magic started to flare; that’s dangerous.”
Kaydan shook her head. “The memory held magic. I won’t pick one like that again. I’m sorry, but that army is too close. We have to get this done.”
The Zoran sighed. “Ok. Let’s go.” She repositioned Kaydan on the table, and the buzzing began.
Gem grunted and grabbed Kaydan’s upper arm and pulled her up the last flight of stairs and into a candlelit room. The Headmaster sat behind a large oak desk. Kaydan folded her hands behind her back and stood very still.
The old man opened his mouth, “Ahh, there you are.”
“Yes sir.” Kaydan gave a small curtsy.
“I’m sure you are wondering why you are here.”
“Gem tells me that your training has advanced nicely since you decided to start taking it seriously, and stop causing trouble. Can I safely assume that you are indeed taking this seriously and not planning some major plan to over throw the establishment?”
“No, sir, I mean yes sir. I mean, I am taking it seriously.”
The old man nodded and took a moment to truly look at Kaydan, causing Kaydan to become all the more nervous and uncertain. “Well, Gem, you are right, we have no choice.” The old man gave a nod to Gem, and Gem nodded back then turned to Kaydan.
“We have a mission that we must send you on.”
“You are to leave now and travel until you reach Brampton village.”
Kayden interrupted, “What? Leave the school?”
“This is important, listen. War is imminent. We cannot afford to risk the school.”
Kayden shook her head. What Gem said did not make any sense. But still, Gem continued. “This is important,” she said firmly, slamming her hand palm down on the Headmaster’s desk. “You have to take this message to the Zoran.”
Kaydan jumped and opened her eyes.
“What?” The Zoran asked.
Kaydan shook her head. “It’s the memory. This last one seemed very real.”
“Hmm. That can happen. It means the magic will be strong. We need strong.” She turned Kaydan around. “I need to do your chest now for the head. This part will take a while, it will be painful, but it is very important.”
They put a gun to her head, the click echoed as the soldier readied the weapon. Dark green, almost black garments wrapped the soldiers from head to toe. They faded into the shadows of the trees, hidden. Others materialized, calling to each other; Blake, Scooter, Trent, Rylie. Take her to Hamlin. Is she one of them? Cut the chatter. Who bagged her? Cipher. He’s quick on the draw. I said cut it. Hamlin wants her. They shoved her around, hands pulling her through the woods, leaves crunching kicking up damp smells, knees pushed into the damp dirt, a tall figure looming over. He pulled his head gear off, eyes like cutting diamonds. What is it? You smell like witch. Witch, spy, slut, dog, beneath me, waste of time. We can just kill her now. Hamlin said no, take her to his tent. He leaned in toward Kaydan. She could smell garlic on his breath and sweat. How could he smell her through that? How did a witch smell like worse than that? She didn’t ask; she knew better. Cipher pulled her away and shoved her in the tent. He warned her with a look.
The Zoran gently shook her awake. “I’m done.”
Kaydan sat up and wiped sleep from her eyes. “I fell asleep.”
“Should I have stopped?”
“No. Is it really done?”
The Zoran nodded and handed Kaydan a mirror. She looked into it at the dragon head asleep on her chest. The green of the scales shimmered in the light as she moved; perfect. Kadan stood and used the mirror along with another hanging on the wall to see most of the back. The dragon wrapped around her shoulders, down her spine, and curled around her legs. The wings rested along her spine. “Wow.”
“Yes, wow, but now you need to rest for real. This must have taken a lot out of you.”
Kaydan started to protest, but Gem had drilled health and mental awareness so often; she could not ignore her exhaustion. She nodded. “You’re right.”
“Glad you finally realize that.” She laughed gently as she spoke, and Kaydan couldn’t help but smile.
Yelling woke her, and then she smelled smoke, burning. Someone screamed. It sounded like the Zoran, and Kaydan ran for the front door. Hamlin stood in the road looking down at the Zoran, who had been shoved down in front of him. One of his men hit her with the butt of his gun and she fell to the ground. Kaydan ran to her. “No!”
“Ah, here is the little witch-dog that got away. Cipher can finish you off, now.”
Kaydan looked up at the smug look on Hamlin’s face. Someone grabbed her by the arm pulling her away from the Zoran. She tried to struggle away from the man, tried to call her magic. She wanted revenge. They should never have touched the Zoran; she is sacred.
Hamlin laughed. “You are not getting away this time witch. Your magic will not help with a bullet in your head.” Kaydan glared at him. His eyebrows pinched together and he leaned forward. “I’m going to slaughter you and every dog like you. I’m going to wipe out all the scum-witches. Put her on the ground.” The soldier shoved her down and Hamlin started pulling his gun around from his back.
Kadan stilled herself, took a breath. She couldn’t do it for revenge or spite or even her own personal protection, but she could do it to save her people. She suffered hours under the needle for one reason, this reason. The message she gave the Zoran was not a coded warning, it was a prophecy. Kaydan would fulfill that prophecy for her people. She called her magic to her and pushed it into the creature on her back and chest. The power pushed her forward as the dragon pulled off her back. The tail slid around her leg and the wings pushed off of her shoulder. She looked up and watched her beast beating leathery wings into the sky.
The soldiers shot their weapons at it, but bullets cannot hurt what is made of pure magic and will. The dragon banked and soared toward them. Kaydan covered her head and felt the heat of fire the dragon breathed over the army. Hamlin, Cipher and the others ran, but Kaydan watched the green flames of her beast take them down.
Afterwards, the dragon found her and rested again across her back. She looked down to see the dragon’s head resting on her chest again. A small drop of blood dripped from his mouth.
She could pay this price.