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Story Time Contest - Round 5 Scores, Final Scores and BONUS!
25th Nov 2011 at 10:57 AM
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Chapter Four: Closer
Chapter One: Shadows
, Sofie and her family are introduced. As one of the people she’s been taught to think of only as the enemy chases a child into their territory, her beliefs take a battering.
Chapter Two: Change
, Sofie flees into the forest and encounters Zayne, who, rather than attacking her, offers her the option of discovering the truth.
Chapter Three: Secrets
, Sofie discovers a hidden lab in the residence, the remnants of the original building, and in it the secret to Zayne’s people’s origins and the beginning of the war.
Chapter Four: Closer
The bright sun beat down, and the shadows cut a sharp line as I walked into the woods. I did not run. And I would not be my father, hiding in the shame of the truth. I walked, my thoughts tumbling and crashing, with only one coherent aim: to find Zayne.
He was waiting. He sat against an ancient tree, looking so casual and relaxed. But the dappled shade played over his skin in a living dance. His eyes slid my way as I approached, but he didn’t otherwise move.
“How did you know I was coming?”
“I didn’t.” He pushed himself up as he spoke, a fluid movement.
It suddenly occurred to me how stupid I’d been, just strolling into the woods. Zayne was by no means the only one of his kind, and others were less likely to treat me so amicably. I was lucky to have only found him.
“I... located Jude Campbell,” I said abruptly. The trunk of the tree behind him was fascinating; the bark rough and forming jagged shapes.
“Did you?” Zayne ambled closer, and his accent somehow made him even more alien than his appearance. “And did you like his story, Sofie?”
“At least you’re honest.”
I transferred my gaze to my hands, unable to bring myself to look at Zayne. A breeze whispered around us and stirred my hair against my neck. I took a deep breath, and let it out again. “I’m sorry,” I muttered.
A short bark of laughter burst from Zayne. “Sorry. That’s useless. The thought’s good though. That’s what makes you different.”
Now I could look; I glared at him, with his dancing amber eyes and flashing white teeth. “Yeah, maybe I’m different. Most people wouldn’t have stopped to talk to you and most wouldn’t have broken have the rules to find a story.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
“That was hidden for a reason. If people knew...” I trailed off. Would it make a difference if people knew? Or would we just convince ourselves we were in the right anyway. “Sorry doesn’t do anything. But what am I meant to do, Zayne?”
His laughter stilled and his eyes locked on my face. “Say that again.”
I hesitated. “Zayne?”
The grin on his face morphed into a warm smile. “You say you don’t know what to do, so let me show you something.” He pointed deeper into the woods and its dappled shadows.
I cast a dubious look that way.
“Well, you can go back to your residence instead if you want. Or come see – I swear I’m not tricking you or ambushing you. Think of it as a grand adventure.”
“I’m not a child,” I snapped, but it was to Zayne’s back as he slipped away into the woods. I growled under my breath and followed.
I was young and fit, but the woods were Zayne’s element. I knew he didn’t want to lose me because he would have just slipped into the shadows and disappeared. But he definitely didn’t make it easy for me.
He finally halted, looking back at me.
“I said I’m not—“ My words lodged in my throat as I caught up and in image out of a dream spread before me. An unobtrusive background of perfume hung over the glade, rising from the tumbling flowers that raced each other across the ground. An equally delicious but unidentifiable smell intermingled with it. The gentle chatter of water tumbling over smooth pebbles filled the air as a stream meandered its way through the rich, grassy banks.
“You don’t have to be a child to have an adventure, Sofie.”
Zayne moved past me, his bare feet silent on the whispering grass. “Life is an adventure. Just getting through each day is an adventure.” He reached up to pluck a rosy apple from a tree, polished it on his shirt, then examined it as if it contained the secret to life.
“My life wasn’t an adventure. It was safe. Until you” I hovered on the edge of the glade, almost scared about stepping in. I didn’t know places like this existed anymore. I thought the war had destroyed them all.
Zayne glanced back at me. “But you’re here now. You were willing to take a risk and step outside that safety. That’s an adventure. And I didn’t make you do it. You did it yourself.”
He moved in front of me, reached, out and dropped the apple. I caught it automatically. I shot him a confused frown, but he nodded at the fruit. So I bit into the crisp flesh. An incredible flavour filled my mouth, like nothing I’d ever tasted before. It was an explosion of sweetness and sensation, and I devoured the apple with a fervour not even Zayne’s knowing smile could diminish.
“That was... the best thing I have ever tasted,” I said.
Hunger is the best seasoning.
I licked a tantalising dribble of juice from my lips, no less confused. “But I’m not even that hungry.”
“Hunger isn’t just about food, Sofie.”
“I don’t need you to be cryptic. I’ve had enough of half-truths and shadows.” I dropped the core to the ground, and suddenly it seemed just an apple again, even if it was a tasty one.
“Exactly,” Zayne said softly. “You hungered for the truth.”
I shook my head. I didn’t care about being philosophical. I guess I had hoped Zayne would have some miraculous answer about how I could make things better – even if just for me. I spun away from him and stumbled.
Zayne reached a hand out to catch me, and I flinched away without conscious thought. His smile disappeared into a neutral mask.
My face froze as I realised what I’d done. That was why I turned around again – I just wanted him to know he wasn’t toxic, to bring back that smile that made the amber in his eyes warm.
So I kissed him.
I’d like to say I just brushed my lips across his, a touch of friendliness for no more than a second, but it was him that turned it into a proper kiss. I’d be lying. He was too shocked to do anything for well more than that second. I was still kissing him when he finally reacted. And I was the one that deepened the kiss, wrapping my arms around him. He just responded. Enthusiastically.
We found ourselves on the ground without thought, the sweet scent of bruised clover surrounding us. Or at least I wasn’t thinking – Zayne filled my mind with the trail of his lips over my skin and the feel of him beneath my hands. I don’t know where it would have gone or where it would have ended, if not for the scream that broke through the haze of feeling.
Adventure, Forbidden Love & Ambrosia
Twins & A Paranormal Creature; Addition to the Family & Chance Meeting; Tomb & Dish Best Served Cold
Word Count: 1145
CC Used: Allowed: Yes. Penalized: None.
*Because it's unusual, I just wanted to note that Ambrosia is a type of apple. I put in connections to the whole food of the gods thing, but it is also just an apple.