(Post-A-Day Challenge, Day 7)
[Pretend that it’s still last night and that I didn’t fall asleep in the middle of posting this…]
I’m trying something a little different today. One of the things I’ve been meaning to do for a while now is to post a story, serial fashion, on my blog, more-or-less as I write it.
I’ve had the story kicking around in the back of my mind for a couple of years now. I’ve even written the first couple thousand words of it (though I’ve revised the first bit pretty heavily to make this posting, and I’ll be continuing to revise the rest as I go along). But what you’re going to see here is essentially a first draft. So the pacing may be a bit uneven, and it may not be as polished as it could be. I hope it’s still fun.
I plan to post a segment every week, probably around 750 words or so. I’ll warn you now that I may have to put this on hiatus during November, for NaNoWriMo. We’ll see how that goes.
This story takes place in what I call my “Fae Gates” universe: Essentially, it’s the present day, but for some reason, all of the gates between our world and all of the worlds of Faerie suddenly popped open for the first time in a thousand years, and all kinds of creatures came pouring through. Our heroine, Maddie Anderson, runs into a little problem with…a dragon.
The Dragon, The Wench, and Her Wardrobe
© 2011 Sheila McClune
Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I mean, yeah, pretty much everyone remembers where they were when the seven hundred and seventy-two gates between Earth and the various realms of Faerie were blasted open by a combination of an errant spell on their end and a freak power surge on ours.
But I was in a particularly bad spot.
Oh, it hadn’t seemed like that bad a spot five seconds earlier. I was on an outbound train at Denver International Airport, headed for Concourse B and my first-class seat on a red-eye flight to Boston for–get this–a science fiction convention. I’d even managed to slip onto the train at the front end, so I could sit on the bench seat across the front window and catch a well-deserved breath.
The day had started poorly and gone downhill from there. Let’s face it, any day that starts with my phone ringing at oh-dark-thirty in the morning is not going to be great. Hearing my boss’ ringtone—Bach’s Toccata and Fugue—only made it worse. And the capper? It was supposed to have been my day off.
I fumbled amid the clutter atop my nightstand for my cell phone. It took me two tries to hit the right button to make the ringing stop. “’Lo?”
“Maddie? It’s Teri. I didn’t wake you up, did I?”
I squinted at the clock. 6:03. “Well, yeah.”
“Listen, I’m really sorry, but I need you to come in early today. Cliff just called from Atlanta. He’s making major changes to his board presentation for tomorrow, and I’m going to need….”
“Teri? Teri!” I tried to stop her.
“…your help to re-do all of the…what?”
“I’m on vacation. Remember?”
For a moment, her end of the line got so quiet I thought I’d lost the connection. “But…that’s not until next week,” she finally said. “Isn’t it?”
“No, it’s this week. I reminded you on Tuesday.”
“Well…I’m really sorry, but you’re going to have to reschedule. We have to re-do Cliff’s entire presentation.”
I groaned. I’d spent weeks on that presentation! “Teri, I can’t! I’ve been planning this for six months. I’m supposed to be flying to Boston in five hours. I’ve got plane tickets and a cat-sitter and everything.” Irrational tears gathered in the corners of my eyes.
“But…Maddie…I can’t do this without you!”
I gritted my teeth. “I’m really sorry. But I can’t change my plans.”
I heard her tapping away at a keyboard. Was she already in the office? “What if the company buys you tickets to go to Boston next weekend instead? We’ll even pick up your rental car. How’s that?”
“That won’t work. I’m going out there for a convention. Next week will be too late.” Not to mention that it would also be too late to finally meet Paul, face-to-face.
Paul Rogers and I had been friends for two years now, thanks to the Internet. We’d met on a fan forum for a show we both watched, and something had clicked between us. We’d been planning the Boston trip for ages—he lived in Seattle, and we’d joked about how it would have been too easy for us to just meet in one city or the other, so we’d had to both fly to the east coast to get together.
I heard more keyboard taps from Teri’s end of the line. “What time does your convention start?”
“Noon tomorrow,” I admitted, reluctantly. “But….”
“What if I got you on a later flight today? The company can pay the change fees.”
“How much later?” Paul’s flight wasn’t supposed to get in until nine o’clock or so.
“I see a flight that leaves here at 5:51, arrives in Boston at 11:35. It’s a non-stop. Will that work?”
I crawled out of bed and crossed the room to my computer desk, pausing to nudge Paisley, my calico longhair, off of the chair.
“I’ll even use some of Cliff’s frequent flyer miles to upgrade you to business class,” Teri added, since I hadn’t answered right away. “Both ways.”
“Well….” I didn’t want to seem too eager, but an upgrade was an upgrade, after all. I powered up the computer so I could let Paul know about the change in plans. “I guess that’ll work.”
“Thank you, Maddie, thank you, thank you. I owe you one. Big time.”
“Yes, you do,” I said, remembering all of the other “ones” Teri already owed me.
“Get here as quick as you can. I’ll have coffee and bagels waiting.”
. . .