So Much for a Quiet Morning (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: April 7, 2015 in Fantasy
Tags: , , , , , , ,

This week’s challenge. Take that image and write a story around it. I went with the perhaps too obvious idea of faeries. Ahh well.

So Much for a Quiet Morning

Dee looked up from her crossword puzzle at the sound of the car pulling into a parking space in front of the diner. Sunlight, the rays only now piercing the cloud cover that had dominated for the past week, sprayed across the candy red hood of the Mustang.

Dee sighed, and folded the paper as the driver of the car exited. An old man slowly unfolded himself from the interior, carefully brining himself to his feet as if he didn’t fully trust his legs. The driver squinted up at the sign outside the diner. Dee couldn’t remember what it was supposed to say, but these days it read “Be Heroin Rose.” Charlie, who did most of the cooking, said some high school kids got clever one night and rearranged the letters. No one could be bothered to fix it since.

The bells above the door tinkled as the old man shuffled his way to the counter.

“Want a booth?” Dee smacked her gum and scratched an itch on her lower back.

The man tilted his head to one side, but didn’t answer.

“Are you deaf? Do you speak English?” Dee’s voice increased in volume. Maybe the old coot had escaped from a nursing home, so far gone into his own head he didn’t know where he was anymore.

“I’ll sit at the counter, miss.”

Dee rolled her eyes. “Suit yourself.” She produced a menu, coffee splattered and torn in places, and placed it in front of the old man.

“Thank you, miss.” The old man looked around. “Is it always this busy?” He was the only customer there.

Dee sniffed. “Well, you missed the morning rush, and it’s too early for the lunch crowd. You should be here though when the bars close. We always have a crowd then.”

The old man nodded, nose nearly pressed to the menu.

“So what’ll you have?”

“Coffee as black as the bottom of a well and as hot as asphalt at noon in August. Two eggs, fried, with yolks like sunrise and whites as fluffy as spring clouds. Bacon crisp enough to cut the wings off an angel.”

“Excuse me?”

The old man shook his head. “Sad, how poetry is dying isn’t it? I’ll have the number two special.”

“Oh, sure, why didn’t you say so?”

“I believe I just did.”

Dee yelled the order back to Charlie, who folded his newspaper, washed his hands, and went to work.

“Uhm, been travelling far?” she asked.

The old man smiled, his eyes nearly disappearing into his wrinkles. “Oh, I’ve traveled plenty. Soon though I’ll put these weary bones to rest for good.”

“I’m… I’m sorry to hear that.”

The old man shrugged. “There’s nothing inherently wrong with growing old.” He stretched out hands, all liver spots and veins, onto the counter. “I can’t say it’s much fun though.”

“No, I can’t imagine it is.”

Charlie placed the plate of food on the counter. “Food’s up.”

Dee placed the order before the old man. He unrolled the silverware from the napkin it’d been wrapped in. He looked up at Dee, smiled, then stabbed her through the hand with the fork.

“What-?” she stared down, her mouth opened in horror. No blood poured from the wound, despite the intense pain she felt. Instead her skin cracked and peeled like the shell of a hard-boiled egg when it’s been dropped on a kitchen floor. She stared, horrified, as her skin, even her clothes started to flake away, drifting down to the ground like snow.

“What’s happening to me?” She looked back up at the old man, but where he’d been a much younger person was sitting. If she had to guess, she’d say he was around sixteen or so. Something about his eyes though told her he was much, much older.

“Forgive me the deception, my lord.” The youth plucked the fork from Dee’s hand, only know it was a sharp, double edged blade. Golden drops dripped from the tip. The youth carefully wrapped the blade in a silken cloth and tucked it into his jacket.

“Who are you?” Dee noticed her voice had dropped an octave. She felt heavier, taller. She could feel a shift in her personality. When she gazed out the window all the colors seemed more vibrant and alive.

The youth stepped out from the booth and bowed. “I am, as I have always been, your faithful servant, Lord Oberon. Puck, in case you’ve forgotten that as well.”

Oberon shook his head. “I- I seem to have forgotten much. I remember needing to hide. I remember fleeing, and taking on this guise.”

“Yes, well, Lady Titania is very sorry about that. She says it is all a misunderstanding and truly she does miss you, my Lord.”

Oberon allowed a smile to turn up the corners of his mouth. “How ever did you find me? I made sure not even I would remember who I was. Harder to give yourself away.”

Puck pointed to the sign outside. “You left ways to find you, my Lord.”

As Oberon watched, the glamor he’d placed on the sign shimmered and vanished. In its place it read “Oberon Is Here.”

“Hardly subtle.”

“I believe you were in a rush, my Lord.”

“Perhaps.” Oberon shook his head again. “Are you to escort me back to court, then, oh most faithful of servants?”

Puck tilted his head and gazed longingly at the plate of food.

Oberon laughed. “After breakfast of course.”

Back in the kitchen, the construct that had been Charlie collapsed into a bundle of sticks, vines, and leaves.

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