Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Swan's Secret - Chapter 1

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Chapter 1
Crack in the Wall

It was after her. Colinda could feel It breathing down her neck. It wouldn’t be long, she knew with terrifying certainty, before It had her. But she wouldn’t give in. She couldn’t. She was the last hope. Yet, why she was, she couldn’t remember. Someone ran beside her, someone dear, yet who it was—was forgotten as well. This someone had less chance of escape than Colinda.
She willed herself to run faster, yet she knew it wasn’t enough. She would have to use her last resort. The one someone, she had forgotten this person too, had taught her and had told her to use only if there was no other escape possible. And there was no other escape now.
Her legs were giving out. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the other stumble. Now was the time. She stopped, muttered a few syllables, and then threw something off of her head. As the ground gave in under her feet, she knew they would both be safe from It, for a while at least.

Collie sat straight up in bed, sweat drenched, heart pounding. Would these dreams ever go away? This had been the worst one yet. She shuddered, trying to drive It’s maniacal laughter out of her head. It was in almost all of her dreams, and always something to be feared.
She glanced at the clock. 6:00. She might as well get up now, although no one else would be awake. No one, that is, except Dad, who was probably already at work. She sighed. Why did she have such a hard time thinking of them as her parents? Why, for her, did Mother and Father mean two people whose faces refused to materialize in her head?
She slipped out of bed, silently, so that she wouldn’t disturb Susan, who slept in the bed on the other side of the room. She eased out of the room, and tip-toed down the hall to the bathroom that she and Susan shared.
She flicked on the light, and, for a second, just stared at her reflection. She always stuck out like a sore thumb among the rest of the family. While they had olive complexions, her skin was the color of pale rose petals. While they had brown eyes, hers were the clearest blue. While they had dark brown or black hair, hers was a soft, golden blond. And sore was very much an accurate description, as a white scar on her left cheek reminded her. Even after a year, her scars still pained her, even though she had no idea where they came from.
She had no idea where she came from. She knew that Susan’s parents—her parents she reminded herself—had found her a year before, unconscious in their front yard. But how she got there, but why she had been unconscious, she had no idea.
Her scars had been open sores at the time, and, as she had been told, she had spent weeks in the hospital before she had woken up. Even then, she had been unable to sate their curiosities, for she could remember only that her name had been Collie. Funny thing was, she thought of herself as Colinda in her dreams. At the thought of her dreams she shuddered again.
Susan was a good sister. It was mostly because of her that her parents—their parents—had adopted Collie. Collie did love her new family, but had such a hard time thinking of it as her own. Who were her real family? Where were they? And how did Collie end up in the Liano’s front yard? Questions like these constantly plagued her, but there seemed to be no answers.
She pulled her nightdress over her head, and reached for the clothes she set out the night before. She pulled them on quickly, ran a brush through her hair, and then headed downstairs.
She had the run of the house right now, since she was the only one up. Mr. Liano—Dad—was already gone, as she had expected. She was usually up at this time, for those dreams plagued her. She had been having them as long as she could remember—which was only a year—and she hated them. Yet, somehow they seemed to hold some sort of key to what she had forgotten. She seriously doubted they were memories, for they were all far too fantastic. She did magic in many of them, like the one that morning, and in others, others did magic. They had to be only allegories, at most.
Perhaps something had been chasing her a one point. Perhaps someone dear to her had died, as she had seen in one dream. Perhaps—no, there was no way to explain the ones that showed people being turned into animals, they were just way to weird.
She tried to distract herself with a book. But that only led her to contemplation on the fact that, while she had no memories, or knowledge of science or history, when she had woken up, she was already an advanced reader, and her level in math had been quite high. She had a brain full of hard facts, with no memories to soften it. She threw the book down in frustration. Why couldn’t she concentrate this morning?
She wandered into the kitchen to fix herself some breakfast. Toast sounded good, so she popped two slices into the magical thing called the toaster. No, magic didn’t exist, she reminded herself; toasters were science, not magic.
Why did she do that? Why was she constantly thinking things of science as of magic?
Her whole life was a puzzle, and there seemed to be no solution. How had she gotten into the Liano’s front yard? Why had her dress, though very badly torn, as was her skin, been silk? Why had she spent four weeks in a coma that didn’t really affect her, other than a slight weakness? Somehow she knew the memory blank was due to something else. Why did she have that memory blank?
The toaster suddenly popped behind her, jolting her out of her dismal thoughts. She plopped the toast onto a plate, then scraped some butter onto them and squirted some lemon on top of that. She didn’t know why she liked sour stuff so much, but she personally found sweet stuff unbearable.
When she finished, she could still hear a scratching sound. At first she ignored it and took a big bite out of her toast, but as it grew louder, she had to investigate.
It was coming from the living room, so there she went. When she got there, her jaw fell to the floor in astonishment—and horror. A large crack had appeared on one wall, and was rapidly becoming larger. When it reached the ceiling and floor, the two sections of the wall began moving apart, revealing an enormous chamber that should have been impossible, as it was an outside wall.
Without thinking, she began walking towards it. Before she knew it, she was in it. Suddenly, the grating sound stopped. Then it started again. This time the walls were moving in the opposite direction. They were closing! She tried to run out, but it was closing much faster than it had opened, and her limbs seemed to be stuck in some sort of jelly.
Soon, she was trapped in total darkness.
Okay, she could admit it. Walking into a room like this one was stupid. Why had she done it? She walked towards the other wall, away from the wall through which she had entered, trying to get a feel for the prison in which she had found herself in. It seemed to take forever before her outstretched fingertips touched something solid. This seemed to be a big room, and—this was funny, the wall seemed to be a solid stone surface, rough and unhewn.
This was getting weird, almost like her dreams. But it wasn’t a dream. Her name was Collie. She was never Collie when dreaming. No. There had to be some other, weirder reason for this. She glanced around, and saw a distant flicker of a light, which she hadn’t seen before.
Slowly, she began walking towards this. More carefully this time, unsure of what she might find. Eventually she got to the unsteady flicker that was a sorry excuse for a lamp. All she could see with it was the black frame of the lamp, a key on a ribbon hanging from a hook in the wall, and a doorknob.
She tried the door, it was locked. Then she realized that the key must go with it. So, once locating the place to do so, she inserted the key, turned it, and turned the doorknob. This time it turned easily, and the door swung effortlessly away from her. The scene that met her eyes could never have been prepared for.
On one side of her was a rushing sheet of water, a waterfall, which threw rainbows onto the rock cliff on her other side. Her feet were on solid enough ground, but a lovely lake surrounded her. If it hadn’t of been for a series of stepping stones to the shore, she would have been stranded.
Beyond the lake, well flowered grass stretched for a ways, then was replaced by a forest. Not a thick, foreboding forest, but a pleasant wood, full of singing birds and such. Above her stretched a clear blue sky. The sun was rather low in one horizon.
She removed the key from the keyhole, intending to put it back on its hook, but the door suddenly swung shut. She examined the cliff and didn’t even see a crack to show where the door had been. She shrugged and put the ribbon around her neck instead.
She began to pick her way across the rocks, towards the shore. Suddenly, she heard someone call her name, “Collie!” and she lost her balance and fell in.

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