Fiction Friday: the Fairy Ring

Fairy Ring
Compass by Coyhand on Flickr

It’s Friday and you know what this means: time for another story! I’ve been diving into Dark Fantasy for the last couple of weeks, as you might have noticed in Siren Song… But, I have good reason, I swear, I’m entering another writing competition! {Gasp! So excited!} The where and what I want to keep to myself a little while longer, but I can share this with you guys: this is the story that didn’t make the cut.

Like last time I entered a story competition, I wrote two stories {Noor and Death’s Diner, which won!} to see what would work best. This time I did the same. I really like this one but it didn’t quite get the feel I wanted… So, I get to share this one with you guys! {yay!} Enjoy and let me know what you think!

“Malia?” Tami called as she ran through the rain-slick streets of Haven, “Come on, sweetie, this isn’t funny anymore.” If Mother found out she had lost her little sister she was done for. “Malia!” She called again, rounding another corner. She passed a few people but they paid her no heed; in Haven people only cared about their own troubles.
Rain was still pouring down, turning the drab grey stones of the streets and homes even darker. A spot of colour caught her eye on the end of a dark alleyway. Heart in her throat, she walked towards it. There, between the filth, resting against the Wall that kept the city safe, lay Ophelia, her sister’s doll. Gently, Tami picked her up and cradled the doll in her hands. Mother had made that doll, stealing scraps of fancy fabric whenever she made dresses for the rich women in the White District. She ran her thumb over the intricate embroidery on the doll’s wings. Something must have happened. Malia would never go anywhere without Ophelia.
Terror caught her by the throat and Tami clutched the small rag doll to her chest. “Malia!” she called out frantically, “please just come out, I promise I’m not mad. Malia, please!”
“I’m right here, silly,” a voice sounded right behind her, making her jump. When she turned Malia was standing there, soaking wet and covered in mud. A big smile on her round face.
Tami picked her up and held her tight. “Oh, sweetie, thank Abeona, you’re okay. I’ve been looking all over, you had me so worried!” She set her little sister down and looked her over. Other than a few small scrapes she seemed to be fine. “Are you hurt?” she couldn’t help but ask, “did anyone hurt you?”
Malia shook her head no. “I’m fine,” the small girl answered, still smiling.
“Where have you been? You’ve been gone for five hours.”
“I was in the forest,” she said like it was nothing, pointing towards the thick Wall.
Tami’s heart pounded in her chest. There was a reason Haven was surrounded by walls of stone. The world outside the Wall was no longer safe for anyone to travel, especially not a child. “The forest, but how?” she grabbed Malia by the shoulders, “You mustn’t go there, the forest is dangerous.”
“No it’s not,” the younger stated with absolute certainty, “it’s pretty and I made new friends. They want to meet you, Tami, you have to come!” She pulled away from her sister and ran towards one of the nearby buildings. “Come on!”
“What friends?”
“The pixies. I found them, real pixies,” Malia bounced on her feet, her voice filled with excitement, “they’re sparkly and bright and can do real magic. You have to come and see, Tami, please, please, please.”
Before Tami could answer, her sister wedged herself between the building and the Wall and disappeared from sight. Tami hurried after her, it was a tight fit, but she managed to get to where her sister had found a hole in the wall. She’d actually been outside, Tami realised, believing before that her sister was spinning tales out of boredom. Malia had been to the forest and back again, safe. They had heard so many tales of the outside that everyone believed life within the Wall was the only way to survive. Could it be that the forest was not as dangerous as they thought? If what Malia was saying is true, they could finally leave this rat-infested city and test their luck elsewhere.
A head appeared through the whole in the wall. “Come on, I promise the woods are not scary,” her sister beckoned.
Tami stayed where she was for a moment, undecided, until an annoyed sounding “Tami,” floated through the hole. She took a fortifying breath and ducked through the hole towards the outside world.

The forest was beautiful, Tami had to admit as they walked through the darkening woods. There were colourful flowers and vines everywhere and a little while back she’d even seen a deer. She’d never known how much cleaner the world could smell. The sweet scent of flowers and the fresh scent of wet leaves filled her nose. Walking here amongst all this life she couldn’t imagine ever going back to the gloomy and drab city. She laughed as her sister skipped ahead, humming along a happy tune with the birds’ songs. This, she thought, this is what freedom feels like.
As they walked deeper into the forest, their surroundings seemed to be getting darker. No, she thought, everything was darker. Even the sky, but that couldn’t be right, could it? When they left it hadn’t even been close to supper. A sudden night had fallen over the woods and leached them of their vibrancy. All around was black and green, the bright colours from before engulfed in darkness.
Tami looked behind her, only to see the path obscured by a low-hanging mist. Fear started creeping up her spine. She had no idea where she was, no idea how to get home from here. Malia was still skipping ahead, her humming now eerie in the sudden silence. “Malia, sweetie,” she tried, “it’s getting dark, we have to turn back.”
“Don’t be silly,” her sister called back, skipping backwards for a moment, “we’re almost there. Besides, the pixies make their own light.” She smiled brightly for a moment before turning back towards the path and continuing on, still humming.
The air was getting colder, the mist now up to Tami’s knees. There were lights in the trees, mushrooms glowing an uncanny green. She’d never seen anything like it and wanted to be amazed, she truly did, but all the lights did was cast ghastly shadows upon the trees. The hairs on her neck stood straight up. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being watched, the lights on the trees creating faces of shadow, following her every move. Tami itched to grab Malia and run far from this dark and desolate place, but where would she go? There was no more path to follow. She had no choice but to trail her young sister, who didn’t seem fazed by her darkened surroundings and seemed to know exactly where she was going.
There was a light further ahead. Pale blue and shining brighter than the mushrooms that dotted the trees. Perhaps a lantern, Tami hoped, belonging to a traveller that could show them the way out of this cursed forest.
Malia giggled and started running towards it, “It’s them, come on!”
“Malia wait!” Tami called but it was no use. She hurried after the child finding herself suddenly at the edge of a clearing between the trees. The lights were pixies, she saw, actual, real pixies dancing and giggling above a ring of toadstools.
They were beautiful.
Their gossamer wings shone a light blue in the dark sky, tufts of dust trailing behind them. Dresses made of flower petals twirled round and round as they danced to a song only they could hear. Wide eyes and rosy cheeks greeted her as one of the pixies beckoned her forward. Malia was already dancing with them, Tami noticed, spinning within the fairy ring. Tami couldn’t help but laugh at the sight of such wonder. They had found light and hope within these cimmerian woods.
“Dance with me, sister!” Malia called from out of the ring.
Tami took her hand and gently stepped over the circle of toadstools. Music started, slowly at first, the soft tunes of harp and fiddle filling the circle. As soon as the sisters started moving it picked up speed, going faster and faster as they spun about the ring. The pixies flashed by Tami, still giggling. For a moment they seemed spindly and rotten, their wings tattered and torn, their black eyes piercing through her, but when she blinked it was gone.
She was getting dizzy. A feeling of dread crept up her spine as the pixies came ever closer, flashing from rosy to rotten and back again.
“I told you I would get her here,” her sister called out, bringing their spinning to a sudden stop.
Tami stumbled for a moment before regaining her balance. The pixies, if they even were pixies, were surrounding her now there was nowhere she could go. Their black eyes studied her, seemingly amused at her unease. “Malia, we need to go,” she told her sister calmly, not wanting to cause her any fright, “now.”
“Yes, I can get more people for you,” the younger answered an unspoken question and cold settled within Tami’s heart, “Mother will be ever so worried when Tami doesn’t come back.”
Tami’s breathing picked up as her sister turned towards her. Where her eyes were normally a soft brown they were now full black, like the eyes of the creatures around them. Malia smiled brightly, looking a little unhinged. Tami took a step towards her, intending to grab Malia and run, not caring where they ended up, but tiny hands latched on to her, piercing her skin. Panicked, she tried to swat at them but there were too many. One opened its mouth and Tami screamed at the sight of the rows of fangs.
“Malia, please,” she pleaded as it bit down on her shoulder, a cold sensation filling her body. The ground under her feet swayed as her vision swam.
“They only want to play,” Malia told her, her voice reassuring.
“No,” Tami could only whisper as more pixies latched onto her skin.
“Don’t worry, sister,” her sister told her, smile too wide and eyes still pitch black, “they won’t bite.”

So that’s it for this week! I’m so excited {and terrified} for this competition, really guys and gals, this could be life-changing… So, I’ll keep you posted and tune in next week for a new fiction friday!

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