Where did the time fly? I can't believe it has been almost a week since the first day of the Feature Week, without further adue, please enjoy this short story from Water by Terra Harmony!
“Susan, Micah. Keep up.” The Gaia snapped at the kids trailing her. The hired dog sled team had refused to take them further so they were forced to walk the last mile over rough, icy terrain to the shore of Prince William Sound. “And turn off that blasted headset.”
Susan rolled her eyes, but obeyed anyway and slipped her Walkman into her backpack. “It keeps my mind off the coldb. It is freezing out here.” Susan buried her head back under her parka’s thick jacket hood and spared a sideways glance for her younger brother. The bite of an Alaskan winter didn’t seem to be affecting him as much; his mind was elsewhere. Just one month ago, with the untimely passing of the Seven’s Ardwyad, Micah had taken his place. Youngest ever Ardwyad, their adoptive father Cato had said. The Gaia had reservations about an 11-year-old Ardwyad. Several in fact, that she made known to Cato, to Susan and to Micah himself, especially during their tedious trek from Indonesia to Alaska to help with the oil spill.
Her rants did nothing for Micah’s confidence. Since his job was basically to protect and train the Gaia, she really could have helped herself by helping him. Instead, she was making it worse for everyone. Susan couldn’t blame the Gaia too much. Susan knew the Ardwyad’s job was also to kill the Gaia once a stronger one was found. This wasn’t always common knowledge with the Gaias that came through; although Susan was sure this Gaia knew. She has accepted her fate with grace; that is until she met her would-be assassin face to face.
There had been a short send-off ceremony for the trio. The Gaia had tolerated it with her arms crossed tight over her chest, Micah was hanging on every word spoken during the ceremony, and Susan had kept her Walkman on the entire time. Cato blessed them with a prayer;
The Earth is my Mother
I shall not want.
Her breathe is the air that gives me life.
Her hand brings forth the green pastures.
Rivers run forth from her great breasts, remain close.
Fire is her gift, providing purity and warmth.
Her womb is the earth that will enfold me.
Surely, goodness and beauty will nurture me all the days of my life,
and I will become part of the earth forever.
“Here is good.” The Gaia stopped so suddenly, Micah almost ran into the back of her.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. Susan automatically wondered if he was aware of the ‘other’ part of his job; she sure as hell wasn’t going to be the one to tell him. How would he do it anyway? Would they give him a gun? A poison syringe? Was suicide an option - just to spare an 11-year-old boy the trouble? She probably wouldn’t, selfish –
“Susan! Snap out of it!” The Gaia had lost all patience with her charges. “I swear to God, I should’ve been doing this with Sian.” Sian was the former Ardwyad, and had chosen to go with the previous Gaia when it was her time. Susan had only been there a few years, and she hadn’t detected a love interest but what goes on between a Gaia and her Ardwyad mentor was largely private.
The three stood on an icy bank looking out into a sea of oil. Ribbons of gray and brown were strewn over the ocean water, turning almost shiny in the sunlight, and slowly spreading out like an infectious disease. They were told to help, but given very little direction as to how. Cato merely asked they bring as much oil ashore as they could; it would be easier for the Adanas, the earth elementals, to clean up from there.
“Ok, Susan. Do your thing,” said the Gaia.
“You are a Nerina, yes?”
“Yes,” said Susan.
“A Nerina specializes in the element of water, yes?”
“This water is dirty, yes?”
Susan grit her teeth together, “Yes.” She was barely able to hold back the string of curse words trying to force their way out.
“So clean it. I didn’t know you needed someone to tell you how to do your job.”
Susan wanted to scream out loud. Instead, she chose to be the adult, and turned to the oil. She had limited practice with Cato, but had more with her mother who was also a Nerina. She wished she could remember more of that training. She wished she could remember more of her mother. At least she has some memories; Micah had been too young to remember anything about their parents. All he had was Cato.
Susan shook off the depression that always set in when she thought of her parents, and concentrated on her task. Almost immediately, she felt herself connect with the water. The tide rushed in to meet her, then pulled a part of her back out with it. Normally she’d have to fight the pull. She would be fighting to stay on land when all she wanted to do is submerge herself in the life-giving liquid. Not this time. This time the water was tainted and sluggish. The dark slime permeated every small cell, leaking into the very essence of the water, the very essence of Susan.
Susan dry-heaved at the feeling, and felt the Gaia huff behind her. She took another deep breath, telling herself it wasn’t really on her. But that was a lie – the water, Susan’s lifeline, was almost beyond repair. All Susan could detect was death; molecules were corroded – and as a result phytoplankton, fish, mammals, and the eco-system as a whole were dying.
Micah stepped up next to his sister. She looked down at him and smiled. His mere presence was calming. Susan attributed it to the fact that although they had an adoptive father, no one would really look out for Micah like she would. He was solely her responsibility. Believing this gave her strength.
She took Micah’s hand in her own, squeezing to feel the ridges of his fingers through their thick gloves, and closed her eyes. The ocean opened itself up to her, revealing its composition, movement, and more importantly, the elemental forces within.
She experimented with those forces, delving into her work, cold forgotten along with time. It took her near three hours before the puzzle before her finally unfolded. Susan targeted the water molecules, charging them with energy. The trace amounts of metals found in the crude oil repelled from the charged molecules, and automatically pushed itself away like two wrong sides of a magnet.
The only problem was, if the oil were to separate from the water, it had to go somewhere, and the only somewhere around that wasn’t water was the shore, which so happened to be where they were standing.
The oil gained momentum, propelled forward by a magnetism force. Within seconds the oil slick was several dozen feet high. Susan, shocked out of her connection with her element, was at a loss on how to stop it.
The Gaia immediately sent her own weaves into the water, trying to undo Susan’s manipulation. But the Gaia’s elemental strength, even with water, was double Susan’s. The surge of her energy into the ecosystem further charged the molecules and caused the slick to pick up speed. Now they both were at a loss at how to stop it.
Micah, feeling largely inept until now, stepped in front of the Gaia. He ignored the oncoming wave of oil and faced her. His hands clenched, and his face had gone red in anticipation of what he thought he must do.
Rivers run forth from her great breasts, remain close. The prayer Cato said before they departed was the only thing running through Micah’s head.
Suddenly, Micah buried his face square between the Gaia’s breasts, which elicited a high-pitched squeak from the Gaia.
Susan’s mouth dropped open. Micah pulled his head out, sucked in a badly needed breath, then looked back at the oil slick. It was still coming. He turned and did another face plant; only harder. Thinking perhaps she couldn’t feel him under all those layers of clothes, he shook his head back and forth.
Just as the wall of crude oil crashed into the shoreline, it lost momentum. It slowed and rolled to a goopy stop right at the trio’s feet. Micah’s move had flustered the Gaia, causing her body to flood with adrenaline. Since her natural reaction of accumulating nearby energy during an adrenaline rush followed; she essentially discharged the molecules.
Susan looked at her brother in wonder. He couldn’t have known how that would play out. Nonetheless, Micah turned back to the Gaia, still wide-eyed, but also with a small smile of accomplishment.
He had done his job; he had finally proven himself worthy of his Ardwyad title. The Gaia slowly raised her hand and issued a neat slap to his face.
“When we get back to the Chakra, I am filing a sexual harassment suit.”
Susan could no longer hold her snort of laughter back; as if the Seven had a human resources department. The Gaia turned on Susan, “Of which you will be included as an accomplice.”
“How – ”
“ – for helping to fulfill the desires of your puberty-stricken brother!”
The Gaia turned on her heel, sliding in what oil had made it that far onto shore, and stomped away in the ice and snow; black boot prints trailing her.
Susan watched the Gaia go, then scooped up some clean snow and put it on her brother’s reddening cheek. He held it in place.
“Well, how was your first time?” She asked.
“It was…” he started to walk after the Gaia, slowly, and Susan followed. “Liberating.”
Susan cleared her throat.
Micah looked up, suddenly appalled, “Wait, did you mean using magic? I mean…I didn’t use any magic. I thought you meant…her, um – “
“Don’t say it. I don’t even want to know what you call them.” Susan spared a sideways glance for her brother, then punched him playfully in the arm. He punched back and missed.
She shouldn’t be so hard on him. He had rougher times with women ahead. It was those handsome green eyes of his; they were going to get him into big trouble one day.
You can find out just how much trouble - check out the Akasha Series, and follow Terra's blog (www.harmonylit.wordpress.com) to get your own dose of magic through her weekly flash fiction posts.
To see more of Terra's flash fiction, check out these blogger sights:
Good Luck Charm at www.readitreviewit.wordpress.com
Ice at www.alexiachronicles.blogspot.com
Raining Mud at www.riteshkala.wordpress.com