Both hands flew to Lyra’s mouth as she realised the potential meaning.
Was this forever? Was she stuck in a portion, a between-moment of the leafverse? A point where it was broken? Could they do that? Was it legal?
No, of course it wasn’t. And apart from that, if there was a way in, there had to be a way out. It stood to reason, and she may not always seem to be a reasonable person, given the number of times she’d accepted punishments, but even without access to all her senses, it was just plain logical. No cage or prison could be created without a point of egress. It would be there. Everything had some form of door or portal or flexion.
Where, was the question, but more important, how would she know it when she found it?
With no senses to assist, and a barrier that wasn’t visible or audible or solid or fixed — what type of leafverse could that happen in? — how would she know?
She couldn’t hear anything. The world was silent. The rain didn’t make a sound, the steps she took didn’t slap or slither or squelch. Her hands didn’t clap when she smashed the palms together. Her voice didn’t come outside in this world, and was dulled inside her head.
She couldn’t even make a clicking sound to use echo-location for changes in atmosphere or solidity. She didn’t have much of a sense of smell or taste, but that wasn’t a help for this problem. Or was it? How could it?
Lyra snorted. In this place, smell and taste were left to her as part of the punishment. It wouldn’t help.
Touch was all she had. And sight, but not if she looked up at the patterns of the laneways. So, look down and keep a touch on something solid and receptive to this world. If she had only one thing, it was still better than not having anything.
Where to start?
The wall got her here, now what would get her past this point?
Or should she follow the barrier by keeping one hand on that, and following it around and over the laneways?
Walk up to it, touch it gently, treat it like a friend, speak to it in her mind, and follow the thing that kept her confined in this place.
It sounded so simple, but when she’d walked for so long and not felt the barrier again, Lyra looked up.
She stood outside the shack. Back where she’d started.
A deep sob racked her body and she slid to the hard, muddy cobbled surface, lay her face against the cold, wet stone until she was numb outside and inside.
A flutter of air blustered against her hair until it brushed her cheek.
Lyra stood up and scanned the area.
It was a long way to her left, several blocks of laneways distant, but it was a bird. A real bird. Wings spread out in a glide, it swooped and dipped and rolled and yawed as if searching for prey, until it faded into the far distant fuzz of grey mist.
When it was gone, Lyra let herself smile.
If a bird could live there, if it could get in at all, it meant she could get out.
And she wasn’t alone.
The choice became a simple one: move and keep moving, or stagnate and rot?
This time when she went forward, it was on hands and knees, and when she hit the barrier, she fell forward, not backward. When she placed her hand palm-down on the surface, she imagined it was a musical instrument, and all she had to do was learn how to play it.
And find out how far it went before it created sound.
She lay her hand on the surface, closed her eyes, and tried to visualise a sound, a sense of the instrument, as if it were a grain in timber, or a shaped piece of metal, or …
The sensation of touch disappeared.
Lyra frowned and opened her eyes. She dug a fingernail into her skin and waited for the pain. Nothing. Gone.
Hmmmm. Should have expected that. Or something like it. Someone wanted to keep her here; they were watching, and they were adapting the confines of the cage to ensure she didn’t have hope or direction.
Was that how she could defeat it? Play the game, go down as far as she could, and then use their own springboard back at them?
What did she have to lose? Except her sight …
But now the rules were set, she could put her pieces on the board and play as if her life depended on it.
A couple of notes:
- The previous story about the dog is on hold. If I’d put it out in January, it would be fine, but since certain world events have occurred in the meantime, to put it out there would feel like bad form. It will wait until the time is right.
- I’ve almost completed the novella sub for the deadline – tomorrow! So will be focusing time and energy on that until it’s done.
- There’s also a secret project – another form of story altogether. Dark content, a few short stories that relate to a specific theme that has something else. I’m sure it’s been done before, but it feels fresh and new and it will be fun.
- There’s also a comp that closes on 31 May, and I’ve got a piece on the go for that, too.
- And then I get to pick which new WIP novel story comes off the backburner — eeny, meeny, miny … Y.O.U.
- I’ve taken down (unpublished) the YA stories and will keep to the straight and narrow of adult themes (with occasional childish content).