The Burning Field, Part 4

   The Burning Field, Part 4

“I woke up this morning with muddy feet again,” Genvieve said. “It was still squishing between my toes.” She was redheaded, freckle-faced, wide-nosed, and as Irish as anyone could be. She was born in County Cork, in Kinsale, and her family immigrated to the U. S., when she was a young girl of ten with an older brother Danny, and a little sister Darby. They had a middle brother, Flynn, named after his dad, but he joined the Irish Army, the an tArm, and stayed behind.

Tommy Dean half smiled and nodded sitting across the large wood dining table from her at his folks’ house. The dream would have been funny if it weren’t so disturbing. “Me too,” he said. “I dreamed we were running again.” He leaned forward to talk so his father could not hear. His massive arms and hands folded on the table. Tommy was a big man, not so tall, but massive and muscular. “You had that white furry ass again with a little white furry tail and we played the same game as before.”

She grinned. “I remember. I never laughed so much in my life! I would leap and change direction and you would have to find my scent again. You ran on all four legs and when you got on my tail, I would run fast enough to barely stay ahead of you.” She leaned forward across the table and kissed him and whispered, giving him a devilish grin, “You would mount me if you caught me!”

“It was so much fun. I want to go out there during the day and find the meadow,” Tommy said.

“Oh, me too! Let’s go! Tomorrow!”

He loved her Irish accent. “Go” sounded like “goo.” They gazed into each other’s eyes, wide-eyed. Genvieve had iridescent green eyes, sometimes blue and sometimes a grayish green. He loved her eyes, too.

He leaned back smiling and stretched his arms over his head. His chest almost popped through his white T-shirt. It was hard to find T-shirts for him, he was so big. Genvieve wanted to lick her lips every time he moved, especially when he stretched and showed his washboard abs. He had short, black hair, and sapphire blue eyes. He leaned over again and took her by the back of her head and kissed her. She almost squealed.

They couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

They were both out of school and working for Ellerby & Foster in the mall. Tommy, nineteen now, was a window fashion model and Genvieve, twenty, was a fashion coordinator and floor salesperson. She did the window arrangements and dressed the models. Tommy opted out of college for a while, instead went with Genvieve and the modeling business. He was happy.

Noel Dean came into the dining room and slapped down his contact book hard on the table. “No one’s seen Cathy. It’s like she’s vanished. None of the relatives have heard from her. The police have no fucking clue, pardon my French.”

“It’s been two days since she was last seen, the police said wait. They said missing persons normally return soon after. They’re looking for her, so let them work,” Tommy said trying to reassure his father. “Anyway, it’s late, nearly ten, and you should get some sleep if you’re going to work tomorrow.”

Noel paced for a moment biting his knuckle. He shook his head and went into the living room. Tommy and Genvieve heard him pour a drink at the liquor cabinet.

Genvieve leaned over and whispered, “We both know she’s off with her lover, Jackie Scribner, somewhere.”

Tommy snickered. “Hell, they may be in Vegas!” They tried to stifle a laugh.

“Shhhh!” Genvieve said.

They talked for few more minutes and heard Noel close his bedroom door.

“Tommy, it’s late and I don’t want you to have to drive me home, so I’m going to sleep here with you tonight.” God, he loved listening to her talk.

“Great, half your shit’s here anyway. You should move in.”

“I want to, you know I do, but you’re Catholic, and we’re Catholic, and my folks would shit little British monarchs. Look, tomorrow is our day off. What say we take a drive out and find the meadow?”

Tommy nodded. “We can hike out. Take it slow and easy. We’ll pack some gear and water. We can take my beater.”

“Your old car might break. Are you sure?”

“It’ll get us there and back.”

***

It was evening of the next day, Tuesday, the 19th of May 2015. Tommy and Genvieve plodded up another ridge in thick forest and brush in the Great Nature Preserve. They struggled their way to the top of the ridge, Genvieve bent over pulling her way up, but all they saw from the top were more trees, more ridge lines, and another valley below.

“I thought the high ground would give us a better view,” Tommy said.

“We’re lost and it’s getting fucking dark,” Genvieve said. She slapped a mosquito on her chest. “And the mosquitos are trying to suckle my tits.”

Tommy grinned. “There’s enough to go around. Put your flannel shirt back on and button it. You need to cover exposed skin. It will help with the mosquito bites.”

“Is that all you like about me, Tommy Dean? My big tits?” Genvieve sidled up to him and smiled. He kissed her. She said. “It is starting to get chilly.” She untied her flannel shirt from her waist and donned it.

Tommy wore a long-sleeved blue denim work shirt buttoned at the wrists. The shirt stretched tight across his wide shoulders. He looked out over the horizon to the west at the setting sun. He took a deep breath to calm the jitters. Lost at night in this immense forest could mean trouble, much trouble.

“Are you ready?” He asked. She nodded and he turned. “We need to go west. There is a creek down here and we’ll follow it downstream for a while.”

They tromped down the slope a few yards when Genvieve slipped and fell. She landed on her butt first and yelped, and tumbled over, head first, down the slope. Tommy lunged to grab her, but his fingertips brushed her shirt. She rolled for a few more yards and came up on her feet. He was relieved. She tried to slide to a stop, and she could not. Her ankle gave way and she tumbled head first again. He ran down the slope after her.

She landed on her back in the small valley near the creek. She looked up at the sky and laughed. Tommy stopped, shook his head, and went down to her, grabbing small branches to steady his decline.

“Where are you hurt?”

“My ankle is broken or badly sprained.”

Tommy untangled her legs and started to unlace her boot. “Stop!” she said. “If you pull off my boot, I’ll never get it back on. It will swell.”

Tommy thought for a moment. “Can you stand?”

She looked him in the eye, aware of the seriousness. She shook her head no. He looked up at the ridge westward. It cast a shadow over the small valley from the setting sun as if it were night already. Genvieve bit her lip in pain.

“I might have to build a fire here for us tonight and try to splint your ankle. We will tough it out until morning. We have food and water. After daylight I’ll carry you out of here on my back if I have to.”

Her lip quivered. “Tommy!” she said and cried.

“Hey, hey, shhh. It’s okay. Have you seen my back lately?” He smiled.

He wiped her tear and she smiled.

Downstream from the young couple, two pair of yellow eyes peered through some brush in the dim light of the setting sun. Kaitee turned to Meann and nodded. Meann, dressed in a two-piece halter top and small breechcloth made of rabbit fur, trotted silently up the ridge circling Tommy and Genvieve on the west side. Kaitee did the same on the east side. She wore identical garb. Sheathed at their sides were long obsidian knives with bone handles.

Meann tiptoed close to the couple and raised her hand. “Huu’el,” she whispered softly.

Tommy looked up. He heard a noise sounding like the wind.

“Huu’el,” Kaitee said, letting the word blow out her lips like air. Tommy yawned, and slumped over Genvieve fast asleep. Genvieve’s head lolled to the side and she snored.

Kaitee and Meann giggled.

The two Elves stood by the couple on two sides. Kaitee raised her hand and said, “oop.” Tommy floated up and off Genvieve. Kaitee walked downstream and Tommy followed floating a foot off the ground. Meann raised her hand and said, “oop,” and Genvieve floated above the ground a foot.

The small Elves walked single file downstream and the young couple followed, floating, also in single file, behind them, face up, sleeping peacefully. They led Tommy and Genvieve through the little valley, up another ridge, and traversed the ridge south, and up another slope. That one led them to the ridge which bordered the north of the Enchanted Meadow. The couple were not far off course.

The Elves floated the two humans down the northern slope. They noticed Tani from their height above the meadow as she left her cottage and walked out briskly to meet them across the big meadow. Feedleboo and Beezip joined her.

Kaitee and Meann stopped beside the stream and greeted Tani by holding up their hands. They had seen Tani do this, this wave hello, and thought it was the custom.

Tani marveled at the Elves, how they looked like young, brown-haired human girls with long ears, yet they were adult women. “Good evening, Kaitee and Meann.”

They leaped the stream and floated Tommy and Genvieve across.

“Hello, Tani,” Kaitee said. Meann said hello, too. They turned to the couple.

Meann put out her hand and said, “doon.” Tommy and Genvieve settled slowly to the ground with their gear.

“You’ve made them float! You two never cease to amaze me. They aren’t dead, are they?”

The Elves laughed. The truth was, the two Elves frightened Tani. Their magic was more powerful than anything she had seen, much more than the Pixies. And when they said they were not timid, it was an understatement. Clothed, naked, it was the same to them. They bathed in the stream and when done, spun themselves dry so fast they blurred. They did not care who watched, Dwarves, or Pixies, or anyone. They were truly creatures of the forest.

They made an enchanted lasso. It never missed its target. They roped a wild boar with it! It was a three-hundred-pound boar! They ran the wild boar down on the plateau up the north ridge and lassoed it, butt naked. Kaitee jumped on its back and Meann from the front, grabbing its tusks and hanging on from underneath. They rode it down as it bucked and jumped and darted this way and that. They slew it with those obsidian knives, Kaitee slitting its throat and Meann gutting it as it ran. It fell in a cloud of dust. It was a monster of an animal brought down by two small women as wildly fierce as the world has seen!

Kaitee eyed Tommy. She pulled her knife, twirled it in her fingers and went to him. Tani stepped back. “I’m not going to kill him,” she said. She sliced through the straps holding his pack to his back and pulled it from under him and set it aside.

“Those knives,” Tani asked, “aren’t they brittle since they are made of obsidian?”

“They are enchanted. They will never break and they get sharper with each cut, not duller,” Kaitee said.

“Too much talk,” Meann said. “These two will sleep until the Pulling takes them.”

Kaitee and Meann clasped hands and kissed.

POOF!

They disappeared! Tani jumped back. The two Fairies, Feedleboo and Beezip darted away in fear.

What remained was a faint mist, and it too evaporated. Tani yelled after them. “Where did you go!” Her deep voice echoed.

***

In the hours after midnight, Tani, her nerves settled some, sat quietly and played her flute near the human couple as they lay naked in the grass, their clothing strewn around them. She closed her eyes and played softly, a tune from her memory from another time, she thought, but she didn’t know when.

Soon, the moaning began as she knew it would. Both humans stretched and screamed as their bones popped. She played louder, but she watched as she played. The female with long red hair grew taller and screamed, shook and screamed more. She sprouted a snout! Now things were getting interesting. She had never seen a creature with a snout such as this. Tani stowed her flute and got closer.

Genvieve saw Tani standing over her but was in too much pain for fear. She clasped her head and thrashed back and forth. Horns sprouted and Tani stepped back. Genvieve tried to get on her knees, but rolled on her side as her feet formed hooves and she screamed again. Her legs lengthened.

Tommy was at the bank of the stream on his back stretching his thick arms above his massive frame. He groaned and yelled. He began to grow dense black fur. His face burst forward in a snout! He turned over and got on his hands and knees and stretched his back. His legs shortened and changed form, as did his arms. He took on the shape of a wolf, but not a regular wolf, but a great, giant, black wolf with yellow eyes.

Genvieve stood on wobbly legs, her horns now were deer antlers with three prongs each. Red fur covered her from her waist down and white fur covered her ass. She had grown a small spade-shaped tail that had red fur on top and white fur on the bottom. White fur lined the inside of her thighs. She had broad, flat, and pointed ears, and her snout was long. Her nose was wide and black with large flaring nostrils. Her eyes were black. The rest of her face, her red hair, her arms, chest, and torso was human. She was half deer and half human, an antlered doe.

Tani went to her slowly, cautiously. The two women were tall, the same height – six feet tall not counting their horns.

“Do you know who or what you are?” Tani asked. The doe blinked and licked her lips. Her tongue was black.

She cleared her throat. “Di. I am called Di… something.” She looked past Tani toward the stream. The big wolf stood gazing into the water. “I am doe, I think.”

“It would appear so. Your friend, what is he?”

Di held out her hand. “Come King,” she said. The wolf padded to her, sat and panted. She scratched his ear. “This massive creature is a Dire Wolf. We are… partners. He is my… protector.” Di was hoarse. She cleared her throat again, looked at the stream, and went to the bank. She knelt, put her mouth to the water and lapped in big gulps. Once done, she stood, King came to her side.

“I am called Tani,” she said walking to them. “I am an ambassador of sorts. You two will need shelter and food. I should call the Wood Sprites, I think. They can find you dwellings in the forest. Di can feed there and King can hunt.” Tani blew on her fist and made a horn. It echoed through the valley and beyond.

***

South of them, downstream, high on the northern ridge on an outcropping of stone, two Elves lay flat on their bellies watching. Their yellow eyes seeing through the darkness like it was day. From this promontory point, they could see the entire Enchanted Meadow.

Meann turned to Kaitee and whispered, “Such creatures have never existed.”

“We must go to them when we can speak with them alone,” Kaitee said. Meann nodded.

“These two can help us.”

The two Elves rolled onto their backs and waved their hands and arms in the air in a weaving motion. They sang a tune in harmony. Above them, a cloud appeared. It was fog at first, but it turned into shimmering gray-edged glass, two feet square. But something was wrong.

“We still cannot clear the looking glass above her, my love.”

“Ye, my love,” Kaitee said. “Her ward is strong.”

The scene on the glass was of the burning place. Burning limbs gathered around what appeared, although out of focus, burned oak trees.

“She is building something and it appears to be walls,” Meann said.

In the blurry vision they saw what looked to be the witch as she strode from a door in the wall. She twirled her stave above her head. Flames exploded on the outcropping of stone! The white stave with the emerald stone slammed into the rock where Kaitee and Meann lay and the witch hissed! Her arm shot through the looking glass as she grabbed at the Elves. They rolled in opposite directions. Kaitee rose with her obsidian dagger in her fist and lunged at the witch’s arm slicing through the white robe but missing flesh.

Meann weaved her arms in the air chanting in Elven.

The looking glass vanished. The gray smoke that bordered the looking glass dissipated and vanished completely. The danger was gone. The girls kneeled on the rock facing one another, breathing hard. That small but furious battle lasted seconds. The blast of fire singed their rabbit fur two-piece outfits and they smoldered and stank. Meann pulled some of her hair around and smelled it. She laughed. Kaitee laughed.

“What’s that lovely word the humans use?” Meann asked.

“Fuck!” Kaitee said wide-eyed. Meann nodded, pointed at her and laughed.

“We must speak with the Dire Wolf about the witch. He will soon discover his magic. We must ally with him,” Kaitee said.

“But right now, we have a more important task,” Meann said smiling. Meann looked down at her tummy and touched it. “We are passing eggs.” She took both Kaitee’s hands in hers. She kissed Kaitee.

POOF!

They disappeared.

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New Story, The Rule

Anonymous wrote this about The Rule. There are some spoilers:

Hi Tom,

Your title grabbed me. It told too little to guess anything about the story, and it was too intriguing to ignore. It’s a good title. You could say the rule is what gets Kelly killed.

(…) skipping spoilers

Your writing is to-the-point, and you don’t shy away from difficult topics or scenes. It’s something I appreciate… The story is sad indeed, in the “this needs to be written about” kind of sad. What I mean is that this story could have happened, and maybe did (though I hope not).

Kelly’s character is described in precise strokes, in how he speaks, what he wears, the feelings he has for Devin. I think the name “Kelly” is feminine too, is it not? At any rate, his characterisation is excellent, and there is just too much to it for me to quote all bits that make me imagine him so clearly. I feel bad for him, that his life ended the way it did. He may have been a transgender, but we’ll never know.

You addressed the issue of guilt, of who has the fault. I’m glad you did, because it’s a question with no answer, but the story would have felt incomplete without it. It gets the reader to think, as well. We still have discrimination nowadays, although in most countries it has gotten much better.

Your story is not only sad, but revolting. The contrast between the peace and love attitude, and Kelly having to abide by the rule of not showing his feelings, not following his heart, is striking. I enjoyed reading it for the way you handle the words and craft the story, but the thematic left a lump in my throat.

Well done.

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