1.9.11 | By: Megan Langham

Adrift


I oughtn't to be writing anything for Secret of the Sunrise. It's only supposed to be in the worldbuilding stage, because I haven't got time for one more serious project at the moment. But earlier today, during a sudden surge of rebellion, I scribbled this down. It would probably fit somewhere around the second chapter, after Ishmil (who occupies a sort of minor government position in Versantia) has fallen through into modern-day Kent and practically onto the doorstep of Christopher, a young psychology student. I'd love to regale you with backstory to make this snippet slightly less confusingbut I won't. Instead I will be quiet and let you read.


“Look,” said Ishmil hotly, “I’ve not stumbled into your world merely for the purpose of satisfying your curiosity. You have said already that you do not believe me to be mad, and I am perfectly content to leave it at that, even if you are not. Now please, just let me alone.”

He was not used to speaking in such a high-handed way; during the last few words his voice had faltered, but perhaps the man Christopher would put that down to shock and exhaustion. Certainly he had encountered enough of that in the past day to weaken more than his voice.

Christopher stood up. The lamp from the low end-table threw his face into shadow, defining and sharpening his already angular features. To Ishmil’s weary eyes he resembled an eagle, removed and forbidding as a crag on an ice-capped mountain. Even his blond hair shone like snow in the uncertain lamplight.

“Fair enough,” he said. “You’re not mad—I should make a poor student of psychology indeed if I thought you were—and so far as I can tell you’re not lying about why you approached me, but that’s no reason to trust you. I’ll give you a meal tonight and a place to sleep, nothing more. You can take your story to the professors in my department tomorrow, if you like. They may not believe you either, but at least they’ll listen.”

Ishmil nodded dumbly. All the fire had gone out of him, leaving nothing behind but a grey dull indifference. His head had begun to ache.

Christopher eyed him curiously; when he could see that no reply was forthcoming, he shrugged his shoulders and turned away.

Ishmil leaned back against the sofa with a low sigh—whether of relief or of weariness, he could not tell which. Perhaps both. It had been that sort of day.

His mind returned to Elianna, to her pretty, petulant face as it had looked on the evening before this, on the evening that had promised to be so ordinary. He would have been back with her now, reveling in pleasures both new and familiar, if his mission had gone as planned.

Oh, curse the Fates. His mission.

Why, why had he ever stopped at the tavern? If he hadn’t crawled out as late as he had and gone down the wrong path, befuddled with drink, then none of this would have happened. Or at any rate he would have been possessed of his senses when the warning signs began…

“I said, pretty lad!”

Ishmil started, catching sight of Christopher’s amused amber eyes.

“There was no need to shout,” he muttered, annoyed.

“How was I to know that? I said your name twice in an ordinary tone of voice and both times you didn’t answer—I had to get your attention somehow.”

“By calling me 'pretty lad'."

Christopher allowed himself a wry smile. “Don’t pretend you haven’t been called that before now. I know a ladies’ man when I see him. Ah, and that reminds me. When my sister comes—”

“You have a sister?” Only after the words were out of Ishmil’s mouth did he realize how indiscreetly eager he must have seemed. Christopher glared at him and went on: “When my sister comes with our supper, I want you to behave as though you’re someone I met at uni.”

“But how will I do that when I don’t know—”

“I don’t want you to playact, I just want you to be quiet. Don’t tell her a word of your story—leave that bit to me.”

“Very well,” said Ishmil, taken slightly aback. After a short pause he asked, “Your sister… does she live here? I mean—” hastily, at the sight of Christopher’s suspicious glance— “I was only wondering, because it seems a bit odd that she should bring you supper if she lived elsewhere. But after all, what is one more oddity in this day?”

Christopher drew his pen across the paper in a long line before he answered. “No, Lauren doesn’t live with me. My flatmate’s away for the week, which is the only reason I can let you stay here for the night. Lauren is bringing us supper because there isn’t a thing in the flat to eat; I had planned to go out shopping when I came across you and—well, you know how busy I’ve been since.”

“Does she mind, then, carrying supper to her brother?”

Another wry smile from Christopher. “If she minded, she would not do it. There’s not one person who could persuade Lauren to do good against her will, and so far nobody has ever had to.”

Ishmil tried to ponder this, but he soon gave it up. His thoughts had been all of a jumble ever since that fateful drink; it was all he could do to keep himself afloat in this alien archipelago, this ocean of strangeness and shame. No, he wouldn’t try to think. He would settle himself more comfortably among these warm blankets, closing his eyes to the unfamiliarity around him, and imagine himself back at home, alone or with Elianna, either state would be welcome enough…

3 missives:

Lilly said...

This quite interesting and my interest is quite piqued. I'd be curious to learn more about this story.

Katie S. said...

First off, "It's only supposed to be in the worldbuilding stage..." I had a wee little chortle over that. I am the very same way. "I'm not supposed to be this far yet, or to skip ahead to this Certain Part. I'm not supposed to be writing this story right now... But I am." :P

This little excerpt is lovely, enchanting, as your writings always are. I cannot wait to see what else you come up with for this story. ^.^

Megan L. said...

Thanks very much, my friends! I shall be certain to keep you updated as Things Happen--though I can't expect that will be very often, as I'm trying to hold back the progress of Things where this story is concerned.

But you knew that. It's amazing how little control we writers have over everything that's born from our brains. ;)

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