This story stemmed from a writing prompt provided by Alexandra VanHorn (aka @PatchworkNerd on Twitter) during her weekly newsletter (and also from my friend’s misfortune while working in stock at a clothing store). Her newsletter is an exclusive award for being apart of her Court of Bats (aka her Patreon supporters xD). I get access to other cool stuff too! The great thing about Patreon is it allows creators to do what they love with help from their supporters.
If you love writing then I recommend checking out her content. Every Sunday at 10am CDT she host a writing event on Twitter called #WritersPatch where she provides writing related questions that users answer and in return everyone learns from each other. Anyway, if you’re interest in checking her content out click on the links above. Also, her Patreon page is linked here. ^_^
Now on to the story! Below is the prompt Al provided in her newsletter:
Write a piece using ALL of the words listed below:
Posh, facial, whisked, pristine, boxcutter, fern, elixir, rumbled, chalky
I’ve bolded the words down below. Enjoy!
Over the years, I’d learned to drown out the obnoxious chirping from my coworkers. A chirp chirp here about the latest scandal at the warehouse. Did or didn’t Mary Beth and Jonathan hook up? Was Jonathan still in love with her, forever a pathetic puppy scuffling behind her, tending to her every needs. A chirp chirp there, was Abel and Nancy an item again? They were caught holding hands near the gorilla racks Thursday night, a day after Nancy’s fight with Mark.
Dragging a boxcutter across the package tape, the sound acted as a brief distraction to their never ending rumors. I clipped my boxcutter back to my belt and unpacked yet another box on my own. You see, we’d worked out an agreement. Work was divided between two separate groups. Me versus them. And guess who had more boxes unpacked, clothes sensored and hung up. That’s right, me.
But I wasn’t always alone. There was once a young man that shared my pain and suffering here at this dead end job. But he vanished nearly as quickly as he’d come. Dark hair, vibrant green eyes and a whisper of freckles across the bridge of his nose. He always wore a button down shirt as if he worked at a posh hotel, not this dingy warehouse infested with rats, bugs, and who knew what else.
My eyes drifted back to the spot he once sat. Callum, the one with fern vines weaving and twisting around his veins, the one who could send an article of clothing gliding across the open space with a snap of his fingers. He truly was mysterious and magical. And I’m not just saying that because I have a wild imagination. No, he legit had magical powers and they all stemmed from the weird vines coursing through his body.
Once he actually showed them to me. We were unpacking a box filled to the brim with Korean facial mask when he turned the boxcutter to himself, not the plastic packaging. I couldn’t even protest or comprehend his thought process. The boxcutter ripped into his forearm and out danced a vine or two, each reaching up towards the rising sun peeking in through the scarce windows around the warehouse. Even with the blood dripping from each leaf, sliding down the vines that escaped his wounded arm, I was still amazed, mouth gaping open as I reached for one.
He pulled away long before my finger could make contact with a bloodied leaf. “Don’t,” his face said it all, distorted with fear. He held his bleeding arm so close to his shirt that drips of blood fell onto it. His eyes dropped to the concrete floor as did his arm. “I know it may seem like fun and games but this is a curse.” I was surprised to see the vines creep back inside his cut as the wound healed itself. Then he lifted his head, locking eyes with mine. “Touching one might curse you too.”
I tried to crack a smile but it felt forced even to me. I bit me lip instead, fighting back the awkward laughter forming in the back of my throat. “A curse?” I wrapped my arms around myself, shifting my weight onto one leg. “Aren’t there elixirs for that?”
Callum smiled too but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Yeah, elixirs.” He fiddled with his pocket until a dainty chain tumbled out, a bottle filled with a strange sparkly liquid dangling out before my very eyes. “You mean like this?” I focused on its glittery beauty. “This here was concocted by a Dark Lord. It’s said to cure any ailment.” Unclasping the chain, he placed the necklace around my neck.
I twisted the bottle between my fingertips. “Oh, really? Can cure any ailment, you say?” I remembered pondering if I’d ever need it. Doubted it actually but I was wrong. When the time came, it didn’t do anything to save him.
His usual pristine shirt was soaked through with sweat that day. Tan skin turned chalky, so transparent I could see the vines shifting violently beneath the surface. We were at the warehouse alone. I’d followed him there after his weird behavior during our overnight shift. But that wasn’t a cause for panic, the low growl and increasing rumbling from behind a stack of boxes was.
A rift in time and space. A tear in our dimension, creating a doorway to another. It sounded impossible, the words spilling from his pale chapped lips but how impossible could it be when a boy with magic and vines growing inside of him was standing in front of me explaining it all.
“It’s after me.” He fell to his knees, his body too weak to support his weight. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for–” My words caught in my throat as an inky creature slivered out from the portal behind him. Piercing green eyes flashed at me, lost in the dark muck of its own body. Callum’s eyes mimic the creature’s, glowing green as he crumbled in agony. The vines thrashed wildly beneath his skin, sprouting across the surface as the creature reached out an inky hand.
“The elixir.” I whispered. It was all I could think of. Surely it would save the day. I assumed the monster was after Callum because of the vines hiding in his body. If this elixir could cure anything then a magical curse stood no chance against it.
I ripped the elixir from my neck, yanked the cork out and splashed Callum with the liquid inside. He stared up at me with those eerie glowing eyes, hands raised as if I’d slimed him rather than cured him. But then I realized I hadn’t cured him. The vines continued to sprout across his freckled face and the creature continued to sliver its way over to us. It raised its many arms around him, wrapping him up in its inky embrace.
“You lied to me.” My mind went racing back to when he retrieved the elixir from his pocket, back to his half hearted smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. I’d foolishly wore that elixir everyday thinking it could one day make a difference but in reality, it was a bottle filled with dye and glitter. “You lied!” I screamed as it dragged him through the portal, leaving an oily residue in its absence. “You said it could cure any ailment!” But the portal had already closed leaving me in an empty cold warehouse with boxes spread out lying broken around me.
Tears stung my eyes now. Staring at his vacant spot, I had to live with the fact that the last words he’d ever hear from me was how much of a liar I thought he was. I’d never see him again. At least that’s what time allowed me to believe.
A familiar growl and rumble ceased the jabbering from my coworkers. They exchanged glances, staring in horror as a portal opened up right in front of them. I half expected Callum to step out from the swirling darkness but instead another murky creature did. Then another. An army of them escaping the doorway.
My heart skittered as I watched them exit in large numbers. The chirp squad scattered like roaches hiding behind the tower of boxes in the warehouse. Cowards. While they ran away from the mysterious doorway, I ran towards it. What was on the other side? I was about to find out.
With a leap of fate, I held my breath, bracing my body as I was whisked away into the unknown.