New Fiction Friday

Posted: August 5, 2016 in Fiction, Flash Fiction Friday
Tags: ,

This week’s story was prompted by a d20 mash-up of the suggestions “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “Jaws”, which resulted in “The Morning Star in the Mist”:


    Christina woke to find the world rocking and tumbling violently around her.

    She slid out of her bunk, thankful that she had habitualized her nightly ritual of stowing away and locking up everything that might be loose, and ascended quickly to the cabin. The world beyond the cabin’s windows was a chaotic tumult of darkness and water, roiling like a titan’s cauldron. Outside she could barely see, the night that far from land being blacker and deeper than the abyss of space, but what she saw in the brief seconds of illumination when lightning lanced across the sky mantled by stormclouds stole the breath from Christina’s chest for a long few heartbeats.

     Waves easily forty feet tall were swelling all around her as rain and seawater lashed across the deck.

    She didn’t have time to drop the sails and even if she did, this wasn’t the kind of storm to lie ahull in. Acting quickly, she wrenched the boat as best she could into a close-hauled point of sail without releasing the jibsheet, before lashing the wheel to make sure that the rudder didn’t change position, before slipping out of the cabin. The rain felt freezing, but she’d known from the instruments in the cabin that it was only in the fifties out: it felt cold, but luckily it wasn’t freezing. However, even before she finished making the necessary adjustments to the sails, Christina felt her fingers and toes going numb as her body shivered against the elements.

    A little bit of cold is better than capsizing and drowning, she reminded herself. It became a mantra in her head as she worked.

    Her heart stopped for a long moment as her feet almost slipped on the slick and soaked deck, her hands immediately shooting out to grab anything nearby that was firmly attached to the ship. As her mostly numb hands held onto the boom, she cursed herself for not having attached her lead to anything, but most especially for not having grabbed the autopilot’s remote from the cabin before rushing out into the storm. In this weather, she could just as soon be pitched off the boat or slip from the deck into the chill waters of the southern Indian Ocean as get back to the safety of the cabin. And without the anchor dropped, the boat would drift away on the waves, leaving her to drown.

    Moving slowly and surely, Christina made her way to the stern and dropped the sea anchor. She slipped back into the cabin and sat in the chair, watching the sporadically-lit world beyond the glass as she shivered, and within a few moments felt the boat leveling out some. Her teeth were chattering and she was barely restraining herself from vibrating into decoherence from her body’s unconscious shivering before she felt comfortable slipping back below deck.

    She allowed herself the luxury of a long, hot shower to bring the feeling back into her limbs before changing into dry clothes. She sat in the cabin, a thick towel between herself and the seat to soak up the rain- and seawater she’d shed onto it, and sipped from a steaming mug of tea clutched lightly in both hands as she watched the storm. It wasn’t until dawn began to send its heralds ahead of it toward the west that Christina felt sleep creep back into her muscles and bones. The rain was still hammering steadily against the deck, but the waves had mostly dissipated, and on the horizon in all directions her sleepy gaze could see a wall of white as mist settled in.

    Finally, Christina eased herself from the chair and slipped back down below deck, wrapping herself in the sheet and comforter of her bed, lulled into a quick and hard sleep by her bone-weary tiredness and the soft undulations of the ocean’s waves.

    When she woke, all the world was white.

    The mist she’d seen on the horizon had swept over the boat, occluding everything more than ten feet beyond the railing in every direction. Sighing, she watched the slowly undulating and swirling mist for several long minutes, her hands clasping the railing on the starboard side of the boat, before returning to the cabin. The compass was spinning slowly and randomly, which drew a look of confusion from Christina before she flicked on the GPS, something that she tried to only use when absolutely necessary.

    “I’m a sailor, not some Yuppie trying to find the nearest Starbuck’s,” she told her father long ago when he’d admonished her to use all options at hand so as to be safe while at sea. “I can find my way with a compass, a sextant, and some maps.”

    Once the screen loaded, it was showing her somewhere in the vicinity of Greenland, which made Christina’s heart drop into her stomach.

    “Okay,” she said softly. “Okay.”

    The second utterance was firmer than the first, trying to muster the courage that she needed but was slowly slipping away from her. “I just need to wait for the mist to pass. Shouldn’t be more than a few hours,” she told herself, nodding resolutely. A plan was in place. It was mostly a passive plan, to wait out the post-storm mist, but it was a plan nonetheless.

    She fixed herself some breakfast and tried her satellite phone, feeling her confidence and ease slip even further through her grasp when the device couldn’t pick up a signal. She tried to distract herself by reading a book, perched in the cabin’s seat, but could barely get through a page after an hour’s effort. Christina broke down and scrounged out two bottles of beer from her larder: the first she downed in a few practiced gulps, while the second she sipped at slowly. It was easier to focus after that, ironically enough. The morning and afternoon passed quickly and before long the diffuse light that made its way through the encapsulating whiteness began to fade.

    And so did Christina’s confidence.

    “What kind of mist lasts an entire day like this?” She asked herself as she prowled the deck of the Morning Star, a third beer bottle in hand as she peered out into the thick curtain of moisture that separated her from the rest of the world.

    Finally, she headed to bed, hopeful – but not optimistic – that the mist would be gone by morning.


    It was said softly and almost despondently as Christina looked out through the windows of the cabin the next morning. All that greeted her eyes was a sheer wall of white beyond the limits of the Morning Star. Her fingers gripped the wheel as she stared into the blank void beyond the boat’s railing, her nails digging into the wheel’s leather grip as she did so. Part of her just wanted to keep waiting out the mist – it couldn’t last that long, right? – but another part reminded her that she didn’t have infinite supplies and that she would have to raise anchor at some point or starve to death.

    “But, if I sail blindly out into that…,” she muttered, then sighed and shook her head.

    She could run aground on a reef or sail straight into a cargo ship. But, what else was she going to do?

    “Fuck,” she said. The word was spat out like poison and she punched the wheel with one hand. “Fuck!”

    She showered first, changing into fresh clothes, then went about letting out the sails just enough to give her a modicum of speed should the wind pick up, before raising the sea anchor.

    The Morning Star drifted for a long time, the wind was either nonexistent or so weak that the difference was negligible. For the first half-hour, Christina’s innards were tied up in a Gordian knot from the stress and fear of sailing blindly through the mist. But as the boat slid slowly through the gentle waves and the white space that encompassed her, eventually her body relaxed even while her mind stayed alert for possible dangers. After two hours of slow drifting through the mist with no emergence, she became more confused than worried, uncertain of how a bank of sea fog could not only persist for so long without dissipating, but also extend for as far as this one had.

    She was nearing her third hour of drifting when suddenly a spouting of water erupted from the port side of the boat. Christina lashed the wheel and scrambled to port, knowing that it was probably a whale surfacing, but wanting to see it nonetheless. Even after having seen more than a few in her years of sailing, especially during this circumglobal trip, she was still awed and delighted by the giant beasts.

    Her eyes were greeted by a bulbous, curving mass that just broke the surface of the water. It was greyish-green and had a strange semi-translucence that Christina had seen in some amphibians. She blinked in confusion several times, before three spouts of water erupted simultaneously from blow holes arrayed in a line down the center of the creature. Christina took a step back from the railing as the creature shifted its bulk and sank beneath the waves once more, a mass of tendrils or tentacles briefly swirling up to the surface in its wake before following the bulbous mass into the depths.

    “What the hell?” She whispered to herself, backing up slowly three steps before returning quickly to the cabin and retaking the wheel.

    The sunlight had been waning for some time, turning the mist orange then crimson, before Christina saw it begin to thin. When, finally, she sailed free of the fog – the wind filling her mostly trimmed sails enough to give her a decent amount of speed – she breathed a sigh of relief and checked her instruments once again. The compass was showing north straight ahead of her, which drew a worried expression from her, as looking back over her shoulder, she could see sunset through the mist directly behind. Turning on the GPS was no help either: it showed her smack dab in the middle of Utah.

    She would’ve quoted Alice with a quipped “Curiouser and curiouser” had she not felt dread settling into her gut like a leaden weight. Ahead of her, a band of dark blue that almost black was spreading across the horizon, the boundary of which rode the thin, silver waning crescent of the moon. That leaden feeling solidified even more as she remembered the moon being just about full the last time she’d seen it a few night’s prior.

    The slow-burning fear evaporated into outright confusion when a second moon rose an hour or so after night had fallen. The oddity of the two lunar bodies shining their silver light made it impossible that Christina was going to sleep that night, she knew that as soon as the second moon rose above the horizon. She sat in the cabin, dutifully steering the Morning Star in the direction – whatever direction it might actually be – that the moons had risen from. Her gaze often drifted upward to the sky where she saw constellations that not only had no place in the southern hemisphere, but were of arrangements that she had never seen before in her entire life. It was a fact that both enchanted and disturbed her.

    By the time the horizon ahead of her began to lighten, Christina’s eyes were red-rimmed and tired, her body felt leaden and sluggish. She briefly thought about trimming the sails and dropping the sea anchor, but then memories of the gigantic, tentacled leviathan that had surfaced so close to the Morning Star made her rethink that.

    “I’ll sail until I either see land or I start falling asleep at the wheel,” she muttered tiredly to herself. “Then I’ll drop anchor and sleep.”

    Her head was nodding dangerously by the time she saw the island on the dawn-ward horizon and her mood perked immediately. No matter whether it was inhabited or not, land was land. At the very least it would be somewhere she could drop anchor and get her bearings. Christina let out the sails all the way to catch as much of the wind as possible and found herself less tired than she had been only minutes before as she set her mind and her rudder on the destination before her.

    The sun rose higher and higher as the island grew larger and larger, closer and closer. By the time it was within sighting distance with her binoculars, the sun was at its zenith overhead, beating down upon the The Morning Star and the surrounding ocean in a cloudless, azure sky. Christina stood in the fore of the boat, kneeling on the deck as she scanned the forests and beaches that were immediately visible. Like many islands she’d spotted in the Indian Ocean, it was covered with various tropical trees and a rolling landscape that slowly climbed toward a handful of high peaks in the interior. Strangely, she did make out some blocky shapes, but the boat was still too distant for her to figure out what they were with any clarity. When she was a mile offshore, Christina dropped the sea anchor and trimmed the sails, then slipped below deck to immediately fall into the oblivion of unconsciousness once she was laid out upon her bed.

    She remembered very little of her dreams when she woke in the small hours of the night. There were hazy memories of traversing a labyrinth, twisting corridors occluded by smoke or fog, along with a burning, baleful crimson light. The first thing that Christina did was eat: she was feeling ravenous even as she surfaced back into wakefulness in her bed, and spent a good fifteen minutes eating whatever she could grab in the boat’s small, multi-use galley area. After that she showered and dressed before going above deck to look once more at the stars and the silhouette of the nearby island. It still astounded her that the stars were different, even as the two moons shone silvery down upon her. The stars had guided her since she was a little girl and her father had first taught her how to identify them and navigate by them, both on sea and land. To look up at the night sky and see configurations that were alien to her eyes and mind, filled her with a mixture of emotions: awe, curiosity, dread, and despair.

    Without her compass or GPS functioning, how would she find her way home without her trusty stars to show her the way?

    “If there even is a way home,” she said softly as her gaze descended from the sky to darkened silhouettes of the island’s peaks.

     Where a crimson light glowed.

     Christina inhaled sharply as she saw the pinprick of light glowing atop the mountain peak, her eyes widening in wonder and fear as she watched for several long moments. Surely, it means people are on the island, right? she asked herself, before casting her gaze back up at the two silver faces that shone down upon her. Nothing can be taken for granted here, came her mental response. She watched the light for a long time, an hour at the very least, before it dimmed and winked out of existence.

    Her skin crawled as darkness fell upon the island mount once more and, without even consciously working through the logic involved, Christina  immediately went below deck and turned off every light she had. There was something about that light going out – whether it was baseless fear, instinctive knowing, or psychic premonition – that made her want to avoid the attention of whomever might be on the island. She sat up in the cabin for a long time, watching the darkened bulk of the island until sleep started pulling at her. When nothing more happened following the extinguishing of the light, Christina made her way back into bed, knowing that despite her misgivings she was beginning to get low on potable water and her only way forward was to set foot on land come sunrise.

    Christina had mixed feelings when she found the pier.

    She had awakened just after dawn and quickly set about preparing for making landfall, pulling up the anchor and letting out the sails once she had eaten and dressed. Sailing closer to the island, she turned parallel to the shoreline, trying to find the best place for her to anchor the boat before making the swim to land. With no rowboat or other conveyance to get her to shore, she’d have to swim, but it was idiocy to just sail in a straight line toward the island. Depending on the submarine topography there might be an inlet of one kind or another that would allow her to get much closer – and thus have to swim less far – than her current approach.

    The sun had been a quarter of the way up the sky when she first caught sight of something white glimmering in the morning light, oceanspray kicking up into the air around it as waves crashed against its bulk. She’d lashed the wheel and grabbed her binoculars, finding the structure to be a simple, stone pier extending a few hundred yards from the shore into the water. Turning her magnified gaze toward land, she found the bare remnants of what looked like a stone-paved road disappearing into the treeline, with glimpses of white stone visible through the canopy when the wind rustled the tree limbs. On the one hand, the pier would make getting to land much easier. On the other, it meant that the island had been inhabited at some point.

    Her mind’s eye conjured the memory of the red light glowing balefully atop one of the island’s mountains the night before, and Christina felt her skin prickle.

    “Or still is,” she murmured to herself.

    Using the propulsion of The Morning Star’s auxiliary engine instead of it’s sails, she docked at the pier after strapping on her canteen, her rigging kit – its knife and spike sheathed in the leather holder – and grabbing the flare gun from the cabin. Christina stuffed the gun between her shorts and belt at the small of her back, slipping a few extra flare rounds into the deep pockets of her cargo shorts. She was almost surprised that the stone pier held her weight, part of her expecting it to be some kind of strange illusion in this Land Beyond the Looking Glass, as Christina had begun thinking of this world beneath strange stars and two alien moons. But, it was unyielding, like stone was supposed to be, and Christina wasn’t sure if she should be thankful for that or worried.

    After all, if the stone was real, it meant everything else was real.

    With no small amount of trepidation, she walked away from The Morning Star toward the island, suddenly aware of the hot sun beating down upon her. She heard the normal sounds of insects and birds as she approached the shore, knowing that hidden within the forest was an island’s worth of wild animals of which she would have to be extremely conscious and cautious.

    “I’ll find a fresh stream,” she said out loud, mostly to calm herself with the act of announcing her intentions, as she descended the stone steps from the pier to the island’s firm earth, “go back to the boat, get some containers, come back to the stream, fill up what I need, and get the hell out of here.”

    She ended the declarative statement with a firm nod of her head, emoting more confidence than she actually felt. Christina made her way from the pier up the old and ruined road, stepping as carefully as she could across its loose and worn stones. When it finally began to peter out near the tree line, she hesitated on the threshold of the forest, feeling her heart begin to beat harder in her chest as she peered into its shadowy depths, taking a deep breath to steel herself before stepping into the wilderness.

    The path among the trees – mangroves, eucalypti, banyans, and others – was occasionally littered with broken and worn remnants of the road that had once woven its way across the landscape, but there was nothing so extensive as the ruined path that had led from the pier’s steps up to the tree line. Hunks of broken stone no larger than Christina’s fist occasionally stood out from the dark earth or the twisted roots of trees. And within the shade of the forest, she couldn’t help but notice her unease growing stronger. Every time the canopy shivered with a stirring wind or a bird called out, she felt her body tense in apprehension, expecting something to come howling out of the darkness of the undergrowth or descending hungrily upon her from the branches above her head. With time, though, her nerves settled and she reacted less severely with every new stimulus, until she finally felt her body relax some as she hiked, her ears keyed for the sound of flowing water.

    She found ruins before she found any stream. Christina had never been much of a historian, preferring the world of the present as opposed to the world of the past, but she wasn’t ignorant. She had memories of her schooling and the droning lectures upon ancient societies and peoples, and vague memories of educational documentaries showing their ruins and reconstructions of what their societies might have looked like while still extant. And given her voyage had recently brought her into the Indian Ocean, she assumed that when she came across the first of the granite-hewn buildings, surrounded by old trees and being slowly crushed by vines, that they were the remnants of some ancient Hindu colony of one kind or another. But as the forest gave way to a clearing where more of the ruinous buildings stood beneath the cloudless, noontide sky she began to doubt that assumption. More and more of the buildings had the remains of decorative reliefs carved upon their walls, many of them worn away by uncounted seasons of wind and rain, but some had held up against the inexorable entropy of time.

    These, Christina found, displayed figures that looked human but had large, almond-shaped eyes and pointed ears that were far longer than any normal person’s. A handful of these figures were depicted with multiple arms – sometimes six, sometimes eight, a few even had twelve – which made Christina reconsider that possibly this place had been settled by a Hindu society at some point. But the strange faces carved into the granite filled her with doubt.

     “Curiouser and curiouser,” she muttered to herself, the words steeped in dread and nameless fear.

    She thought she had been strangely blessed when she came upon the tumbled remains of a well, but there was no bucket available and when she dropped a stone into its maw, she heard no splash of water at the bottom. Sighing, Christina pressed on from the ruins, knowing that she needed to find a source of fresh water before nightfall, not wanting to be caught on the island when whatever had made the red light from the previous night might be active.

    She thanked God and Buddha and Zeus and every other deity or holy figure she could think of when she heard a muted roar in the distance through the trees, pausing for a long moment before a grin broke out upon her sweat-stained face.

    A waterfall!

    She hurried as quickly and as safely as she could through the trees toward the source of the sound, hearing it roar louder and louder the closer she got, marking directions in her mental map of the landscape as best as she could. Christina felt her heart swell with hope and relief as she saw a wide stream through the trees and made a bee-line toward it, sliding down the sloping banks toward the water’s edge. She knelt where the bank flattened out, feeling pebbles and mud press against her bare knees, and scooped cool, clear water up onto her face. She revelled in the chill against her skin, a relief from the heat and humidity that had increased the higher that the sun had risen and the further she’d travelled inland.

    Christina cupped her hands again, dipped them below the surface of the stream, and brought the cold water up to her lips. She let the liquid sit in her mouth, experimentally, for a moment or two before swallowing. A small smile exploded into a delirious grin across her face as she scooped more water up to her lips and drank deeply. After pouring out the old water from her canteen and refilling it from the stream, Christina stood and looked upstream, where she saw the island slowly rising into one of its several peaks. A few hundred feet up, she could see the headwaters of the fall that no doubt would be crashing down somewhere up ahead.

    Biting her lower lip pensively, the tempting thought of a quick shower in the chilly water of the falls spurred her forward. Following the curve of the rushing waters through the forest, she heard the roar of the falls grow louder and louder the farther she travelled upstream.

     And did not hear the voices of the inhabitants that were already there.

    Christina froze in place on the banks of the stream as the forest opened to either side around a large pool that swallowed the hammering product of the waterfall and spat it out into the stream that wound its way down the island’s slope, undoubtedly to some inlet or bay where its fresh water mixed with the salt of the ocean water. Ahead of her, she saw at least a dozen naked figures were arrayed in the water or on the shore of the large pool. They were lithe and tall, the smallest being six feet at the very least, with a masculine build to their lean bodies. Their hair – variously reds and browns and golds – was long and done in plaits, braids, and dreads. Their sun-tanned skin covered in intricately scrolling tattoos of dark ink. But it was the exceedingly long and pointed ears, the tips of which stretched nearly a foot behind their heads, and the inky-black orbs of their almond eyes that took the breath from Christina’s chest.

    Here were the faces that had served as models for the carven reliefs that she’d seen earlier.

    It took a long moment after that revelation had crashed through her mind that while all of the figures looked for all intents and purposes masculine – the defined pectorals and slim hips, the strong jawlines and distinctly male musculature – the ones she could see on the shore had nothing more than smooth mounds with a dusting of hair between their legs. As she stood there mesmerized by the strange, elfin beings, one of them gazed in her direction and raised a hand, a finger pointed right at Christina. The others followed the spotter’s gaze and cries of alarm went up. Those on the shore of the pond raced to simple spears, bows, and quivers that were laid upon the dirt that Christina had not noticed, so distracted she’d been by the alien figures.

    The danger to her shook Christina out of her trance and she instinctively turned, running back down the stream just as arrows slammed into the moist earth where she’d been standing. The cries echoed against the trees behind her over the roar of the falls and babbling of the stream, giving impetus to Christina’s adrenaline-charged flight. She briefly considered hiding somewhere – in the forest? in the ruins? – as she ran, leaving the stream at the point where she’d emerged from the woods and fleeing into the sylvan shadows, but quickly discarded that idea. Some surprisingly wise voice in the back of her head calmly spoke up: those beings had all the look of Amazonian or Polynesian tribesmen — hunter-gatherers who lived off the land and no doubt knew this island like the backs of their hands. This is their home.

    There was nowhere on this strange isle that Christina would be able to safely hide for any significant amount of time. Her only hope was to get back to The Morning Star with enough time to cast off.

    Her lungs were burning and her muscles aching with exertion – she’d never run cross-country nor had she had this amount of pure, aerobic activity in quite some time – by the time Christina returned to the ruins that she’d passed through. The carven faces on some of the buildings seemed to stare at her as she sprinted passed them, their unseeing eyes filled with malice and danger as stray arrows careened and ricocheted off of the stone blocks.

    Thus to all interlopers!, a cackling, maniacal voice shrieked in the back of Christina’s mind as she re-entered the trees, the adrenaline pumping its way through her veins keeping her speed up despite the protestations of her muscles, her lungs, and her heart.

     A mixture of surprise, joy, and dread washed over her as she emerged from the tree line onto the crumbling stone-paved road that descended to the steps of the ancient pier, the white sails of The Morning Star gleaming in the late afternoon sunlight. She was in the homestretch, but she would also be out in the open with nothing to obscure the aim of the elfin tribesmen pursuing her. But, what choice did she have? Death was a probable end for her no matter what decision she made.

    Christina ran for the boat.

    It wasn’t until she reached the steps of the pier that she realized there were no arrows, no spears, being fired at her. Her gait slowed as she mounted the stone pier and she cast a hesitant glance over her shoulder, thoughts of Lot’s overly curious wife running through her head as she did so. The strange long-eared and black-eyed tribesmen stood at the boundary of the tropical forest, almost hidden within the shadow of a banyan’s leaves, their dark eyes steadfast upon her as she jogged down the pier toward her boat.

    She shook the dreadful, ominous feeling from her thoughts as she returned her gaze to The Morning Star before her. Quickly, she untied the mooring ropes and leapt onto the deck of her boat, sprinting to the cabin and firing up the auxiliary engine. The motor roared to life with an almost demoniac sound and within moments she was pulling away from the ancient stone peer. Lashing the wheel on the course she wanted away from the island, Christina grabbed her binoculars and looked back at the trees.

    As her vision focused upon the banyan, she saw the last of the strange beings turning away from the beach and heading back into the forest.

    She spent the rest of the afternoon sailing around the island, finding more evidence of civilization long dead and rotted away on its beaches. She even glimpsed buildings further inland through her binoculars: what looked to be a palace of some kind rising up in the valley between two forested peaks, where the light of dusk painted its stones in reds and oranges. Next to it, she saw another important building – a temple? she wondered silently to herself – with four ornate spires at each of its corners rising at least a hundred feet into the air. Each spire topped by a strange, chimeric figure that Christina couldn’t make out the details on even with her magnified vision.

    As evening bled away into night, Christina turned the prow of The Morning Star away from the shores of the mysterious, dreadful island and let the winds carry her a mile or two out before dropping anchor for the night. She polished off the last of the beer she had as she contemplated everything she’d seen and experienced that day, the core question of how to get home from this strange place haunting her as the reflection of the two moons shining from the celestial vault glimmered in the ocean’s water near the boat’s hull. No matter what direction she tried to take her thoughts and her possible options, she kept coming back to one thing:

    The mist.

    She was still awake when dawn came and set her course toward where the orange-yellow orb would be setting, preferring to nap in the cabin’s chair instead of sleeping down in her bed. She wanted to be in the cabin, behind the wheel, should any obstacles arise before her. The island had only been a long night and morning’s sailing from the edges of the mist and she prayed to whatever benevolent forces existed within the universe that the mists were still there. And if they weren’t? She didn’t want to consider that option until she absolutely had to do so. She was running low on potable water, yes, but it’s not like her food stores were inexhaustible, either. Who knew how far it might be to some spot of dry land that had the potential to be hospitable from here? She might die from thirst first.

     And even if the mist was able to take her back home, what if it was like some kind of Bermuda Triangle? Stealing ships and airplanes and spitting them out at random points? She could, potentially, end up in the Arctic or the Atlantic or the middle of the Pacific somewhere far from habitable land. And that was assuming that the mist acted like an A-to-B transportation system, with no other variables in destination. What if she ended up on some other world entirely?

    The questions and the looming unknown kept Christina from sleeping too soundly or deeply as The Morning Star sailed toward where dusk would eventually be. But even when she surfaced into wakefulness and lucidity, she knew that she had to at least try the mists. They were the thing that brought her to this Land Beyond the Looking Glass and were the surest shot to get her back to the world she called “Home”.

    As the sun began its final descent toward the horizon, Christina saw a white mass in the direction of sunset. It grew some as she sailed closer, keeping the sails as loose as possible to snag every bit of propulsive force that the wind had to offer her, but she noticed that the mist wasn’t nearly as large as it had been a few days prior when she’d exited it.

    Was it shrinking? Closing up and dissipating? She had no way to know. With her heart hammering nervously in her chest and her stomach tying itself in knots, Christina gripped the wheel and set her gaze upon the mist. There was only one way to know.

    And so she sailed.


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