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stargate, DanielJackson

Week 2 Prompt: Missing Stair, Title: Pieces of the self

Posted on 2014.03.23 at 19:28
Tags: ,
Georgia runs, past the car park and the pharmacy and the oh-so-familiar purple-walled café on the corner, knowing the fire escape she’s going for before she reaches it: she could do the route unthinking, she could even do it blind-folded. Her feet thud in rapid-fire against the metallic black steps. It’s as her right foot dips too fast into nothing that she realises she’s been careless. The missing stair has always been there, no one bothering to fix the disused exit. This thought fills her panicked mind as momentum causes her left leg to slip too far forward and her hands fail to find purchase.

(A toddler being carried over within arms strong and secure, a young child carefully stretching her leg out until it yawned over and bridged the crack, a prepubescent- her still small hands gripping the rails- laughing as she swung herself over the gap.)  


She’s falling. It’s violent, an out of control rollercoaster, viciously attacking her body; her chest; her lungs. She needs it to stop. It should have already, she’s not falling up the stairs, or down, she has fallen through the missing stair, but is still not on the ground. And then she is. White hot pain roars through her every crevasse. Then there’s blackness.

*

She wakes up, blinks repeatedly until remembrance dawns, and is surprised she is somehow unhurt. Well that’s lucky. Except she was running; has to keep running. Another revelation springs to mind: the fire escape is nowhere in sight, she’s somewhere else entirely. Georgia pushes herself up off the dusty ground and takes in her surroundings.

The sky blushes pale red but the fiery suns brightness is muted, as if there should be fog. The wind whistles a high-pitched, hollow tune. And the ground is littered with pennies and, she finds as she walks along, the odd umbrella. It’s a strange place and Georgia suspects she’s either dreaming or suffering from head-injury induced delirium. Her notion is whole-heartedly confirmed when she comes to a wall and a mountain. This is definitely not real. In the distance on her left she could see a hundred foot mountain which seemed to be comprised entirely of socks.

On her right is a wall which has dozens of arms mounted upon it. Hands reach out of the wall in every direction, up, down, horizontally poking out, across, diagonally pointing at a massive Oak on the horizon, palm up, palm down, fingers clenched into an almost fist, even one poised for a high five. Georgia did a double take as she swore she saw the high-five hand do a little wave. All was still, it was just her imagination, but curiosity drew her closer. Her hair catches on fingers and as tugging lightly proves fruitless she steps closer to disentangle herself.

“Shit,” Georgia shouts as her hair is yanked harshly, in the next moment several hands are pawing at her. She struggles, trying to pull herself away, cringing at the slime-feeling. Not that the hands are particularly slimy, but they hold that inherent sliminess of an unwanted hand-grab. She wonders why she’s thinking so much about slime that the place- the menagerie of arms- seems to ooze into her. She sees nails dirtied and bloodied with bits of her skin, hands manacled her wrists and ankles, fingers prod into her mouth, bruises form, and she hits out with her shoulder to no avail.

A gleam of reflected light hit her eyes and a knife began hacking away her captors.

“The land of the lost is a dangerous place; you need to be more careful,” her rescuer warns.

Georgia is too preoccupied to respond.

Once completely freed her rescuer urges Georgia to follow her and she does so despite a stinging in her gut saying she shouldn’t- saying that something’s wrong. But given that her gut didn’t bother to warn her about the idiotic arm-wall incident it’s clearly having an off day.

“So, what’s your name?” Georgia asks.

“You can call me Liza,” her rescuer answers in a cryptic tone.

“And you called this place the land of the lost?” Georgia probes, looking at Liza: the woman is tall with porcelain skin and russet curls.

“Yes, this is the place where lost things end up, people often lose pieces of themselves, though mostly in a less literal manner,” Liza says giving a pointed look back at the wall, continuing sombrely,  “Love, people, places, times, opportunities, tokens: there’s nothing people long for as much as that which they’ve lost.” 

Georgia considers the insanity of the idea that she’s in some special land where lost things go and then dismisses it, she would probably wake up soon anyway. Clearly her rescuer wants her to realise something and she might as well play along, kill time,

“So what does that mean for us?”

“It means these lost items, and the enormous desire for them, radiate power. And power is very dangerous. So you must be careful if you want to find your way home.”

Georgia perks up at the mention of home- that’s possibly her subconscious trying to bring her back to the waking world.

“Tell me how,” she urges.

“You are lost, you must stop running from whatever you’re running from: then you will find your way back.”

“I’m not running from anything,” Georgia states tersely.

“If you don’t, you’ll end up like him,” Liza says, nodding at an old man walking by them, his very being seems to flicker and he asks over and over ‘can you tell me the way home’. Georgie shivers in sympathy and a touch of fear.

“Duck,” Liza demands, pulling Georgia behind a bush, whispering as she hands her a knife, “That’s Elsie, she’s dangerous, take this.”

Georgia sees that Elsie’s wielding a piece of wood with multiple screws and nails protruding from it. Once the woman nears they both spring out at her, Elsie kicks and punches and Georgia gets a couple of punches in herself, but hesitates from swinging the knife. She isn’t sure this is all as it appears. But as nail spikes crash into her thigh, she’s forced to parry and her weapon etches itself into Elsie’s chest. 

Liza takes Georgia’s bloodied hand and says, “Quickly.”

Soon they are at a stairwell, it spiralled upwards and upwards with no clear end in sight, as they walk Liza says,

“When you find your missing stair you will be able to step through it and back into your world.”

They climb on and on and as her feet grow weary and her thigh throbs, her mind wanders and the weight of the day swells inside her. Finally, hand heavy on the rail, she confesses,

“I just found out my father isn’t my real father.”

“Unpleasant,” Liza replies with a hum of sympathy.

“Yeah.”

“He’s still your father though.”

“I know. It’s just, there’s always been this distance, this tension, this absence, and I always wondered what was wrong with me, it tainted me, it made me insecure,  it made me stronger, it all wound into who I am. And none of it was real, there was a simple reason for it, all those pieces of me are a lie. My entire life is a lie.”

“But you’re still you and he’s still him.”

“I know. What now, platitudes won’t making this better.”

“Just keep going,” Liza says looking up the steps. And so Georgia did.

Just then they came to a gap in the stairwell, she smiles wryly. “Come on,” Liza nudges gently, holding Georgia’s hand as she falls through the step.

*

Georgia wakes up on the steps and sighs to herself, steadily walking up the rest of them, not happy but calmer; this time going home not to throw some things in a bag but to stay. Staring at herself in her bedroom mirror, she notices Liza in the doorway. Spinning around in alarm she sees her supposed rescuer standing there, eyes white, blood dripping from her fingers and mouth.


With a grin that approximated a Cheshire cats Liza says, “Thank you for letting me into your shiny little world.”


Comments:


i_will_not_say
i_will_not_say at 2014-03-23 19:54 (UTC) (Link)
This was a cool take on the prompt. :)

I didn't quite expect that ending, though I had a feeling Liza wasn't as benevolent as she seemed.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-23 20:45 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked my take :)

Yeah, I did try to wind a couple of hints in there without making it too obvious, so it seems it worked ;)
kick_galvanic, zagzagael, skull_theatre
bleodswean at 2014-03-23 19:56 (UTC) (Link)
Yowza! There is simply SO MUCH going on here. I loved the frantic pace of this - it's as though you, the writer, were running and we, the reader, panting to stay up. And then the unreal world. This is glorious - “I just found out my father isn’t my real father.”

“Unpleasant,” Liza replies with a hum of sympathy.

“Yeah.”

“He’s still your father though.”


And the twist ending. I really enjoyed you taking me somewhere else!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-23 20:48 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much, for such a lovely comment, so glad you liked it :).

I was hoping the frantic pace would come off well and not mistakenly seem like rushed writing, so I'm really happy you thought that worked :D.
Desiree
x_disturbed_x at 2014-03-23 20:01 (UTC) (Link)
I did not see the ending coming at all. :P
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-23 20:50 (UTC) (Link)
Glad I managed to surprise you ;P
waltzmatildah
waltzmatildah at 2014-03-24 00:16 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, wow. Amazing entry. This is so clever and SO well executed.

YAY!! GO YOU!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-24 06:44 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, yay, so glad you liked it, thank you for the lovely compliments :)
darkdreams1222
dreamsofspike at 2014-03-24 09:05 (UTC) (Link)
*shivers*

Oh what a brilliantly creepy little story! :)

Loved it!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-24 09:06 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, so glad you liked it :)
Teo Says
eternal_ot at 2014-03-24 11:07 (UTC) (Link)
Whoa! you sucked me into the Visible gap and how!...What a piece...Worth Reading! (reminded me of Alice in Wonderland...) Well Done!!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-24 11:12 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you so much for the comliment, glad you liked it :)

Yeah, I did start of it thinking I wanted a kind of bizarre Alice-in-Wonderland-esque place, glad that came across.
Grey
beautyofgrey at 2014-03-25 01:07 (UTC) (Link)
I really enjoyed how you took a literal interpretation of the prompt and wound into this Gaimanish-style tale of dark whimsy.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-25 06:03 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you enjoyed :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors
halfshellvenus at 2014-03-25 19:48 (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, nice creepy ending!

I really liked the idea of a land of lost things (socks! Umbrellas!), and there ultimately being a reason why Georgia wound up running so hard she ended up there.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-25 19:53 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked it :)
Your Face
kandigurl at 2014-03-25 20:12 (UTC) (Link)
Yikes, that ending, super creepy!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-25 20:14 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, yeah, I do like my stories creepy ;)
ViolaConspiracy
violaconspiracy at 2014-03-25 22:32 (UTC) (Link)
Quite a story. I think the premise is a little similar to what I wrote, although much scarier.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-26 06:45 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, glad you liked :)
Doodle Bug
minikin at 2014-03-26 02:59 (UTC) (Link)
wowsers, I did not see that coming. i like the imagery in this
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-26 06:45 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked the imagery :)
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen"
roina_arwen at 2014-03-27 15:01 (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, this was well done. I hadn't expected that ending, although Liza did seem sort of suspicious!
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-27 15:02 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad you liked :)
basric
basric at 2014-03-27 21:53 (UTC) (Link)
Well written with some surprising twists. ( :
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-28 07:45 (UTC) (Link)
THank you, glad you liked :)
MamaCheshire
cheshire23 at 2014-03-27 23:45 (UTC) (Link)
None of this is what I expected and all of it is good.
swirlsofblue
swirlsofblue at 2014-03-28 07:48 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, glad it surprised ;)
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