| Tara frantically searched through her rock and roll magazine as she strolled through the seemingly deserted mall with her best friend Jenna. “I know I saw it in here somewhere”, she said.
She was looking for the picture that showed her favorite drummer, David Jones, from the Kings of the Underground but couldn’t find the article that talked about the band anywhere in the magazine. She knew it should be there because she saw it earlier.
“How am I supposed to find a drum like his if I can’t find the stupid picture?”
Jenna shrugged. “Don’t know.”
Tara sighed at that reply as she plopped down on a bench in the middle of the hall, slightly frustrated and Jenna’s answer didn’t help her mood. She was used to her tall, slightly awkward friend’s “don’t talk to me” attitude, but it still often annoyed her. Tara thought maybe Jenna’s attitude was created by the fact that they were misfits and Jenna stuck out like a sore thumb because of her height and because they were both a bit crazy although Tara showed it more often. She thought Jenna was pretty and had she been a guy she would ask her best friend out but apparently either the boys didn’t agree with her or they were just intimidated. For some reason she had never thought to tell her friend how she felt about her… probably because she didn’t want her friend thinking she was bi or that she had a crush on her; which she didn’t.
“Girl, you are absolutely no help.” Tara grumbled.
Jenna stayed silent while Tara continued her search until she finally found the page she was looking for after what seemed like hours of hunting. “Here it is. See it’s got that glitter blue around the rim. Isn’t that cool? And pretty too.”
“Yea. But you like his pants better.”
Tara blushed slightly. “Must you always bring that up? Not my fault he has cool pants. And don’t you dare say that I like them because of that or I’ll hit you.”
Jenna flashed one of her rare smiles. “I wasn’t going to say anything.”
“Anyway… Let’s see if that junk shop has it. I thought I saw it there the other day. And then we can go find a dress for Creven.” Tara said as she got up and started off towards the shop, barely waiting for her friend.
“A fluffy pink one.” Jenna said, trying to keep up with Tara. “Slow down.”
Tara slowed down a bit so her friend could keep up easier. “Yea, with lots of bows and lace. He’ll look so funny.” Part of her was very glad that the man in question was not around to hear this conversation.
“You gonna make him go all out?” Jenna asked.
“I don’t know. It’d be funnier with him just like he is but it might be fun to see what he’d look like with the wig and everything. Hey, remember that year all the guys cross dressed?”
“Yeah.” Jenna was silent for a second. “Nathen was the only one that really looked good.”
“Well Duh.” She pointed a few stores ahead of them. “There it is… And Nathen looks good in everything.”
“Am not. Okay, yea I am but not with him. I’m Creven’s girl now, remember?”
As they reached the junk shop Jenna and Tara looked in the window. “How can I forget? You don’t shut up about him.” Jenna said.
Jenna changed the subject. “I don’t see any drums.”
“You can’t see it from here. If I remember right it’s behind those couches in the corner. But the shop is so cluttered I don’t know for sure where I saw it. There were a couple other drums too. Hope they still have that one though” She laughed as the mess in the shop reminded her of both of their rooms which always looked like a tornado had just passed through them. “It’s almost as bad as your room. All it needs is clothes, books, and papers on the floor and it’d be home.”
“And a birdy.” Jenna added.
“Who’s obsessed now?” Tara said, giggling so that her friend knew she was just teasing. “It’s awfully crowed in there. We’ll never be able to find it with people in the way. Maybe I should come back later.” Tara said this mostly for her friend’s benefit, knowing that Jenna wasn’t the best suited for tight, crowded places. “We could go get the dress now and come back when things are slower.”
“I pissed off Veri again.” Tara said as the headed towards the dress store.
“How?” Jenna asked.
“Wrote a story where he ran off like a sissy boy. He gave me a migraine for awhile but I don’t even feel him in my head anymore.”
“He’ll come back. He has too.” Jenna reassured her friend.
“Yeah. Unless he wants to live in the astral plane forever.” She had read way too many books on Wicca and dreams that had told her about astral projection. She never had been able to do it except in her dreams though and she kind of thought that everyone went there when they dreamed. How else would the dream worlds seem so real? “Kind of nice to have one less person running around my head.”
“At least they don’t take control. Then people would think you’re skitso.”
“I am not skiso! I’m just writer whose characters have minds of their own.” Actually that did sound a bit crazy but she never claimed she wasn’t. “I’ve heard a lot of writers get the same thing.” She remembered something one of her favorite English teachers once said, “all creativity is a form of insanity”.
“Yea. At least yours are original unlike some people’s.” Jenna said and they both knew she was referring to one of their friends that wasn’t with them but who Tara didn’t want to talk about.
“Let’s just find the dress before I piss one of them off again. I don’t feel like dealing with migraines today.”
When they finally settled on which dress to buy for Creven it was almost time for the mall to close.
“I better go run back to the junk shop and get that drum.” Tara said as she paid for the dresses. “Can you go take these to the car while I do that?”
“Thanks. See you in a few minutes.” After handing over her bags to Jenna, Tara ran off in the direction of the junk shop, hoping that she could reach it before it closed.
The bustle of the mall was rapidly disappearing and the shop in which her drum sat was already empty and slightly darkened. She walked in edging her way passed old lamps and large wooden desks till she reached the wall where a couple large mattresses were propped up.
“Drum, drum, where are you?” She said as she scanned the shop. “Tools, rugs, chairs, desk, desk, old set of dishes, lamp, books….” The shop sure had an odd assortment of items. She wondered if there was anything in here really of value and was just waiting to be found, like her drum. It depended on the person and what they were willing to pay, she decided. Fifty bucks was what she was willing to pay for her drum. She wasn’t sure what it was actually worth. She should have asked Creven about that but she kind of wanted to surprise him with her new toy. He was always excited when she got anything drum related.
She paced the floor until she finally found it on top of a pile of old crates in the roped off area. “No wonder I couldn’t find it. They moved it.” She said to herself as she looked around for the clerk. For the first time she realized there was no one there except her.
That didn’t make sense. There had to be someone running the store. You couldn’t just leave a place like this unintended. Especially seeing as it was set up in such a way it would be almost impossible to take inventory and no one would even notice if anything was missing. She suspected she could probably get away with even stealing something big and they still wouldn’t notice with all the clutter.
But stealing wasn’t her style so she simply leaned over the rope and called, “Hey! Is anybody here?” She waited a few minutes and was going to call again but just as she opened her mouth a claw-like hand grabbed her and pulled her backwards by the collar of her shirt and tossed her into one of the mattresses leaning against the wall.
She gasped and stared at the shadowy silhouette that was now in front of her. “I’m sorry. I just wanted to buy that drum up there.”
“I don’t care what you want.” The man’s voice sounded oddly familiar. “You are going to get what I wish to give you.”
She squinted her eyes trying to make out any of his features but he was standing in the shadows and completely clothed in black. “Who are you?” She said as she tried to keep the hint of fear out of her voice.
“You know me. You’ve written about me.” The man said.
She thought for a moment, checking off the names in her head. None of her characters ever had claws except… Without pausing to think that he couldn’t possibly be a man from her stories, she attempted to bolt for the door but his arm easily caught her as she passed him.
“Now, now, little one. There’s no hurry. And I wouldn’t try to do that if I were you.”
She had been trying to bite his arm as she struggled against his strong grip. “You can’t be Vederdel. He’s just in my head. I made him up.”
The man held her tight, the cold black metal of his armor pressing against her flesh. “Made me up? I think not. Sit.” He thrust her into a nearby chair, one of the few chairs that wasn’t buried in the clutter.
Tara glared at him but didn’t dare move. “I did.” She said even though she didn’t really believe it was the villain of her stories. Even if he was then it had to just be a dream and he couldn’t really hurt her…. She hoped.
She gasped as he waved one of the lights on and it fell upon his form. He looked exactly like the villain she pictured when she wrote her stories and who had often appeared in her dreams. All the distinguishing marks were there; shiny back armor with intricate designs etched into it’s surface, the long, silky black hair that flowed all the way down his back, the pale skin that seemed like it had never seen the sun and bore no marks save the design tattooed on his left arm which she could never figure out what it was, and finally that pretty boy face in which sat his cold, black eyes. His armor covered his chest and back, his lower arms, hands, and his legs. The man was beautiful but in his stance and gaze he bore an image of cruelty.
“Vederdel.” She said, less fearful because this couldn’t be real.
“You see. It wasn’t you who created me. I came to you. Remember how we met in the first place?”
Tara nodded her fear growing but she was trying to hide it as much as possible. If he was the Vederdel from her stories he would hurt her. “In my dreams. I didn’t know your name at first. Just that you were Bowen’s brother.”
“Admit it, it was never really you doing the writing. It was us telling you the story while you just sat and recorded it.”
“All Thareth is, is what you wish you were. Your link to the realm of fantasy, that’s it.”
“She is not. You may be right that the stories are written because you allow me into your world and I am not in control of the stories, but I do have an impact. I know that. Without me the stories would never be written.” She had thought about this before and had always wondered why it felt like the story was just flowing through her rather than her making it up as she went along. She looked at him. He was no friend. She had felt his hatred before, and it had caused her many migraines. “What do you want?”
“I want to kill you.”
She stayed still, not sure if any of this was real or if he could really do the thing he just mentioned. After a moment of thought she decided to the one thing she could think of saying. “If you kill me there will be no more story. You’ll be dead on this plane.” She held back a laugh at her last remark. He was dead. He had been dead the entire time she had been writing about his world but he could do anything a living man could. She didn’t know how that worked other than it had something to do with a deal with the devil he had made shortly after he killed himself. She was half tempted to ask how it did but decided it would be better to just keep her mouth shut.
“Don’t be so sure of yourself, little girl. Besides I said I want to kill you. Not that I will kill you.” He reached over and ran one of the claws of his armor glove along her cheek. “I could take you home with me.”
She thought for a moment, picturing the world where he lived in her head. There was the castle, the lake, the forest, and she wished she could go there, but that part of the world wasn’t where Vederdel lived. Vederdel’s world was a limbo in between the fabric of that world and the real one she thought. It was dark, gloomy, and always poured down cold, bone numbing rain. The only structure in the fog and rain was Vederdel’s mansion, which had to have at least a hundred rooms. She only knew the purpose of some of the rooms. There was a the chapel, and a few bedrooms, some storage rooms, possibly a dungeon, and the room that scared her the most was a simple room with a table in the middle and counters all along the walls. It scared her because in her story that was always where Vederdel took Thareth and part of her knew if she went with him that was were she would end up.
“I won’t go! You’ll just take me and hurt me like you hurt Thareth!” Tara shouted, knowing it would do her no good because it never worked for Thareth. He was right; Thareth was what she wanted to be. Strong, brave, and never showing her fear… well that’s at least how Thareth tried to be whenever she was around Vederdel so Tara hope copying her character would help her.
“You’ll come if I tell you to.” He smiled wickedly at her. “Or I could just hurt you here.”
“I’ll…I’ll tell Ember if you do. And then she’ll be mad because she said no one was allowed to hurt me.”
Vederdel laughed. “Is that supposed to scare me? I think I can deal with my own wife. Now are you going to be a good little girl or do I have to hurt you first?”
“I’ll be good.” She said as she glared up at him, knowing that sometimes it was better to just not fight. She wondered if she could summon Bowen. If Vederdel was here then it made sense that she should be able to call his brother as well.
“Good girl.” He ran his claw along her cheekbone again. It was a habit she noticed he had whenever he was thinking of hurting someone. It frightened her but she also knew that if she showed her fear it would just please him.
Tara closed her eyes and concentrated, trying to picture the triangular amulet Thareth always wore. When its gold and silver pattern was clear in her mind, she made her attempt at calling the man she hoped would be her rescuer. “Fae King, Fae King, wherever you may be come and help me!” Boy, that sounded corny. “Bowen HELP!”
Vederdel slapped her hard enough to knock her head back with the back of his hand. “You little brat. How dare you call my dear brother? You actually think that pathetic excuse for a man can save you?”
She rubbed her cheek where the cold metal had slammed into her. “Do you do anything but talk? You’ve been sitting here threatening me for like an hour and have yet to do anything.”
Her remark hit his pride and angered him. Provoked by it he grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked her up by it. He waited for her whimpering and squirming to stop before he looked into her eyes so that she couldn’t mistake his threat for a bluff. “Oh, you’re in for it now, little girl. You want to see what I can do? I’ll show you my worst, and you’ll be wishing you were dead when I get done with you… that is if you can still think.”
Tara looked at him and noticed the insane grin on his face. He would actually do it even though both of them knew very well that if her mind was broken, then he and his world would cease to exist.
“Not going to beg for me to let you go?” The disappointment showed slightly in his voice.
“Girls are so stubborn. Oh well, you’ll scream soon enough.”
Just then another man appeared from behind a pile of clutter. The man was thin and blonde. His hair stood up kind of like a mullet and reached just below his shoulders. His dress consisted of a ruffled white shirt, black spandex, and an amulet that hung around his neck, which bore the same symbols as the one Tara was picturing when she called the Fae king.
“Keep talking, brother. You’ll bore her to death.” The newcomer said.
“Bowen!” Tara shouted as Vederdel let go of her hair in shock that her attempt to call Bowen actually worked.
Bowen bowed. “At your service.”
Vederdel looked about ready to draw his sword against his brother. “Don’t try acting like the gentleman you’re not. Your reputation is not much better than mine.”
“Excuse me, I don’t kill women for fun.” Bowen stated.
Tara sat back in her chair to watch the two men she thought only existed in her mind and on paper duke it out. It would make as good story if she lived through it.
“Yeah, I do. And I’ll kill your precious little brat too.”
“No, you won’t.” Bowen drew his sword. The blade was made of pure iron, which was deadly to Faes, even Faes who were technically already dead.
Vederdel drew his own sword. It was long and black, just like his armor. “Smart, little bro. Use a blade that can kill you as easily as it can kill me.”
Bowen lunged at him, aiming for the bare skin of Vederdel’s upper arm. The iron in his blade was so pure that even the smallest nick would act as a deadly poison. Just touching the blade alone without getting cut would leave an instant blistering burn.
Vederdel easily dodged the blow so that it harmlessly hit the empty air. “Five thousand years old and you still don’t know how to not show what your next move will be.”
Bowen tried to strike him again but Vederdel blocked the blow with his own blade.
“Fight back, damn it!” Bowen swore at him, frustration showing at the ease with which Vederdel was blocking his blows showing in his voice.
Vederdel laughed. “Watching you make a fool of yourself is too much fun, little bro.” He blocked yet another of Bowen’s blows. “I can do this all day. You fight like you’ve never picked up a sword before.”
“I have.” Bowen swung again, missing as usual. “A few times.”
Tara was thinking as she watched them fight. Her hero didn’t look like he could ever win. But she didn’t really want him to either. Vederdel was the coolest bad guy ever and Bowen was just an arrogant king. But he was the only person she could think of who would answer her call when she had thought of calling for help.
Maybe she could shock them into not killing each other. It was worth a try at least. “Hey Bowen! Don’t kill him!” She yelled as he missed Vederdel yet again. Her words made them both stop fighting and they lowered their swords.
“Why not?” Bowen asked.
Vederdel laughed. “Him kill me? He’d actually have to be able to hit me to do that. How about I kill him instead?”
“No.” Thareth sighed. The things she went through for her writing but losing two of her favorite characters would suck. “You know that would be too easy. You’ve been living in my head long enough for me to know that you don’t like killing people.”
“Can’t make a dead body miserable.” Vederdel said.
Bowen moved behind Vederdel as they were talking. He tried to kill him again but Vederdel moved so the blade just hit his armor. “I’m beginning to think you have eyes in the back of your head.”
“No. Your feet are just noisy.” Vederdel said. He had very good hearing.
Thareth rubbed her head. It hurt but not the usually people fighting in her head hurt. She was safe from that seeing as they weren’t in her head at the moment but this hurting was the someone is in trouble hurting. “Toby is sick.”
Vederdel looked at her. “How sick?” Toby was his favorite nephew who he had come to love, as his own son despite the Toby was Bowen’s child. Tara knew very well that Toby was one of the few things Vederdel would drop everything for to protect.
“I don’t know.” She said, truthfully. “Just can feel that he’s sick.”
Vederdel sighed and put away his sword. “Looks like we will have to end this some other time, brother. I have an heir to take care of.”
Bowen growled. “He is my heir, not yours. You stole my son!”
“I did not. He came to me willingly and he does not want your damn throne. Now stop acting like you care.” Vederdel might be evil but he loved the little boy and that his brother had allowed the child to run away to live with him was just one more reason for him to hate Bowen.
Bowen glared clenching his fingers around the hilt of his sword. “Get out of here.” He said coldly.
Vederdel smiled. It was obvious that he had hit a nerve. “Till next time, little girl. Farewell brother. I’ll kill you one of these days.” He quickly retreated to go take care of Toby. Bowen followed him, leaving Tara completely alone.
She rubbed her head, feeling that they were there again despite that they had both run out the door. Their anger and worry hurt but she stared at he door and wondered if them coming out of her head like they just had would become a regular occurrence.
A few seconds later a male voice made her look away from the door and back to the register on the counter behind the rope. “Can I help you?”
“Uh yeah.” She tried to act normal. She thought for a moment, trying to remember why she came here in the first place. She glanced at her watch. Only a few minutes had passed since she just entered the store. She looked at him.
The man was tapping his fingers on the counter. “Well?”
“A drum. I came here for a drum.” She said, his tapping making her remember. As he got the drum down she tried to figure out how she had been here so short a time when she knew that she had been in this shop for at least an hour. She paid him, her mind not really on the drum anymore. “Thanks.”
As she walked to the car she wondered if it all had been a daydream. Could daydreams really feel like hours when it had only been mere minutes? But no, it felt real. It had to have happened or else she really was crazy and she didn’t even want to think about that.
Jenna was waiting in the car reading a Manga. “Hey. I put everything in the back.”
“Okay. I’ll just stick this back there and hen lets go home.” She said and set the drum in the backseat. “Sorry it took so long.”
“It was only a few minutes.”
“Oh. Felt like longer.” She’d tell her friend the story and see what Jenna thought. Jenna would just tell her it was a daydream but that would make her feel better. She didn’t want to be crazy and even if she was she didn’t want people knowing it. She just wanted life to go back to normal, well as normal as it ever was at least. Just pretend like nothing had happened and things would be fine, they always were. “So, anyway when we get home should we watch Batman or Cats?”
“Batman.” Jenna said.
“Cool.” Things were already going back to normal. No need to worry. Life would go on as normal… until the next time someone decided to pop out of here head.