Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Land of Nod

I’m a huge fan of author Chuck Wendig, though I’ve never read any of his works (I plan on it, I promise). His blog, however, is filled with fabulous tidbits of advice for writers, beginner, intermediate, advanced, or expert! Today, while perusing through his cyber space, I found some interesting free stories he has posted, along with a flash fiction challenge. All I have to do is choose 1 item from each of the two lists provided.

For this challenge, I decided to choose an antique gun and a comatose patient. Enjoy!

Tegan missed. The first time since her hand met the cold metal of the gun endless years ago when she arrived in Nod, she missed her target.

Nadia scoffed at the Sheriff. “I always wondered if your gun could kill me. Of course, I never wanted to find out, so I kept you close and gave you a title. I kept you busy with petty matters while I continued reigning over the City. Now, here you are, determined to ruin me, and you have no power here.”

The Governess stood from her thrown made of sand, the very throne she materialized along with the City of Nod when she woke up in the barren desert with Tegan and the others. She stepped toward Tegan and smirked. She looked at the small battalion the Sheriff brought with her: the tiny girl with the power to Create – the only other person in Nod capable of doing so besides Nadia – and the dirty, foul man who posed as her guardian, her former General and current wanted criminal for treason Dyson, and a sickly, pale pickpocket whom she couldn’t Read.

“What an army to go up against,” Nadia joked.

“They’re not here to fight you,” Tegan said.

Nadia’s eyes became slits. “No?”

A smile formed on Tegan’s lips. “There isn’t any need to fight you.”

“Why is that?” Nadia asked, a hint of worry in her voice. She didn’t like the confidence in Tegan’s face.

“I didn’t miss.”

The stray bullet, the one that ricocheted off the Governess’ throne and went out the window, roared through the woman’s head. Like all victims of the Sheriff’s mystical gun, Nadia blinked away from Nod’s existence.

The ground beneath their feet rumbled. Tegan turned toward the others aware of the ramifications of Nadia’s disappearance. “Run!”

They barreled out of the Governess’ chamber, down the spiral staircase toward the bottom floor. The hardened sand used to create the large castle shifted and crumbled as they rushed to their freedom.

Out on the streets, they watched the skyscrapers that held the other residents of Nod, the others that woke with Tegan, with Dyson, and Swift the pickpocket. Madeleine, the tiny girl, and her Guardian watched in awe as people dove from the tall buildings that slowly turned to rubble. All of them survived despite the plummet. When the city became nothing but sand dunes, the thousands of citizens gathered around their Sheriff for an explanation.

Dyson calmed the crowds with his diplomacy.

Swift turned to Tegan. “What now?”

Tegan looked to Madeleine. “You’ve been our guide. What do we do now?”

“You free us,” she said.

Dyson turned back to the group. “What does that mean?”

Madeleine looked at Tegan’s gun.

“What?” Swift said shocked. He stepped away from Tegan shaking his head.

“It’s the only way we get out of this,” Madeleine explained.

Tegan didn’t question Madeleine, not after everything they’ve been through. The young girl knew about the Governess, about the City of Nod, about Dyson’s deception and how he could help get them through Nadia’s security, about everything. The Sheriff raised her gun and started to fire into the public.

People screamed with fright and began to run. Tegan shot them in the back, focusing and refocusing at various pedestrians.

“What are you doing?” Dyson said with disbelief. He moved toward Tegan.

She rounded on him and shot him. He didn’t have time to react. He vanished in thin air. A single teardrop fell from her eyes while she continued to fire at her people.

“You evil bitch!” Swift ran into the diminishing crowd in hopes of dodging Tegan’s bullets, but she squared in on him and shot him in the head.

Within minutes, Tegan, Madeleine, and her Guardian remained.

She looked at the Guardian. “Do I need to shoot him?”

Madeleine shook her head with an innocent smile. “He can free himself.” She turned to the tall man and patted him on his belly. “Go home, boy.”

The Guardian nodded his head before closing his eyes and disappearing. Tegan saw it so many times, but it still astounded her.

“Where does he go when he does that?” Tegan wondered, though she asked many times before.

Madeleine ignored her question, as usual, and reached out for Tegan’s hand. “My turn.”

“So I guess I have to ‘do’ myself?”

The young girl nodded. “It’s worth it. I promise.”

Tegan let out a deep breath before putting the barrel to Madeleine’s head. “Just in case, whatever happens, I’m sorry. Okay?”

“No need,” Madeleine said, again with a soothing smile.

The Sheriff pulled the trigger and Madeleine left in a blink of an eye.

Tegan stood in the middle of the desert, the same spot where she awoke so many ages ago. How long? She couldn’t be for certain. She held the gun in her hands, the cold metal never warming in her touch. Was this her salvation or her ending? Why did she doubt it’s power now with Madeleine gone yet she didn’t hesitate when firing into the crowds of her devoted citizens?

Slowly, she raised the gun to her head and pulled the trigger without holding her breath.

<*>

Tegan’s eyes opened, but her sight was hazy. Bright lights filled her sight and two shadow figures stood near her.

“Oh my God,” said a woman’s voice. “Tim, get the doctor.”

“What?” said a man’s voice.

“Get the doctor, damnit!”

Tegan heard feet shuffle away leaving a solo shadow figure. She tried to speak, but her throat felt dry as sand.

“Tegan, my dear, are you awake?”

Suddenly, Tegan knew the woman’s voice. She opened her eyes wide and the remaining shadow figure turned out to be her mother.  “Mom? What happened? Where am I?”

“You’re in the hospital. You’ve been in a coma for over three years.”

“What?”

Before her mother could continue, Tegan saw her father walk in with a happy, tearful smile on his face. “Darlin’, you’re awake.”

“Where’s the doctor?” her mother asked.

“He’s busy. It’s a miracle. All the comatose patients have been waking up over the past thirty minutes.”

A bark sounded from the hallway. Seconds later, a large Labrador jumped into Tegan’s bed and began licking her face with a happy, drooling smile.

“Bad boy,” her mother said, trying to shoo the dog away. He refused to leave the bed while he terrorized Tegan. “Damn dog. His owners let him run around.”

“Calm down, dear,” her father begged.

“Pets shouldn’t be allowed in the hospital in the first place,” her mom replied.

Tegan pushed the dog from her face, seeing the jingling collar dance in front of her face. His name was Goldie and beneath his name were the words: “Maddie’s Guardian.”

“Mom, whose dog is this?”

“This little girl next door. She came in earlier this week. An eight year old named Madeleine. Sweet girl. Comatose as well.”

“She’s awake now,” her father added.

Tegan pulled herself from her bed. She yanked the IVs from her arm, causing the machines to beep and blare with alarm.

“Tegan, where are you going?” her mom called after her.

Goldie lead the way out of the room, allowing Tegan to follow after. Next door, he pushed the door open for Tegan to see Madeleine sitting up in her bed with a kind smile, the same one she gave to Tegan only seconds before. On both sides of her bed, Dyson and Swift sat waiting for their Sheriff to return.

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