Friday, January 29, 2010

Charmed Souls

The colors exploded in her face, reds to the left, blues to the right, a deep magenta seeming to burrow into her cornea. “Catch them catch them!” she heard someone scream, and figures around her frantically scrambled to put the souls back in their buckets. A small yellow soul brushed against her nose, which gave her the moment of relief she needed to finally close her eyes to the visual onslaught. Before this time she had seen only two, maybe three at the same time, and those had been gently flowing from their rest in a bucket, falling like a giant waterfall over the bleak landscape. “Too much, too much,” she murmured, keeping her eyes firmly closed. Her fingernails dug into her palms in a rhythm as she went through bipolar waves of calm and anxiety. “Sorye!” the commanding voice came from directly in front of her. Slowly she opened her eyes, blinking at the dull surroundings; the souls were gone. “You just stood there,” Meka hissed, throwing her hands down in exasperation. “They were too bright,” Sorye explained, rubbing her eyes. “Four-hundred souls, roughly six per person, do you know how many we lost?” Sorye shook her head. “Forty. Forty souls. Two red-brown.” “Two?” Sorye said, instant remorse filling her. “We only had—” “You don’t have to tell me.” Meka ran both hands through her hair, losing bunches of long yellow strands. Sorye licked her lips, not sure what to do. If she told her, Meka would be even more angry at her, and what would she do if she was put back in Red level? Or even Grey considering how many souls she lost.... She thought of the colors in her face, how they came at her all at once and shocked her into stillness. She swallowed. “Meka?” She was busy bossing some Yels around and Sorye waited in subdued silence until she faced her. “What? Go help the Ors with—” “It was my fault,” Sorye blurted, clenching her fingers together in front of her. “I know,” Meka snapped. “You... do?” “Next time don’t leave the key in the lobe, ok?” She turned away. “I did it on purpose.” Meka’s steps slowed. Sorye took a deep breath. “The Old Worlders asked me to help them. I knew one would access the lobe. I knew the souls would fly free.” Meka let her breath out very slowly. “How many times has Laow explained that souls can’t be ‘free’ because they can not be contained?” “The Old Worlders say they can.” “Why?” Meka said finally, turning back. “What did you expect me to do with you? Do you think I can just demote you and say ‘be a good girl next time’? The first time, it’s because you are naive. The second time, you declared you changed your ways. Third time is the charm.” If there had been any color in her face, it would have drained. She had thought she’d get a pat on the wrist like the last couple times she fell charm to the Old Worlder speeches. They never asked her to do anything complicated either, never anything that would put her in danger. If she hadn’t said anything.... That was the choice she made. She nodded. “I understand. I am... sorry. I did what I had to do.” Meka jerked her head back and forth, baffled, then called for a Blue Squad to take her away. Looking back over her shoulder, she saw Meka gone back to her tasks, dejected, and Sorye felt her own vigor fading. It was so easy to assume an identity, and so easy to lose it. Onwards, then, to her newest place among the lost children of the Charm.

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