Flash Fiction Friday: Lila’s Quest

NOTE: For you diehard Flash Fictionalists, I warn you that this story is long. In my way of thinking it is still Flash Fiction because it does come in under 1,500 words; it is 1,488 words. It is longer than any of my other Flash Fiction works, but I just couldn’t tell this story in fewer words. I hope you will still be able to enjoy it.  🙂

 

Lila trekked through the woods and climbed Prodigious Mountain. She killed a bear along the way. She stood at the top of the mountain gazing down upon her destination, the golden city of Rema.

Lila began a long, steady climb down the face of Prodigious, placing her fingers and toes in small crevices along the way. About a quarter of the way down, she stopped on a small ledge, drank from her canteen, and ate from her pouch of jerky.

By the time she reached the halfway point, light was waning so she found another ledge and lay to sleep.

At the end of the next day, she reached the bottom of Prodigious Mountain and raised her hands in praise when she found a stream of cool, clean water. She dipped her bloody toes and fingers into the water, sighed at the welcome numbness the cold water effected. She ate the last of her jerky, drank her water and slept.

When she woke, she bathed in the stream, caught a fish she cooked over a fire, ate, filled her canteen and began the hike to Rema. She ran some distance in the morning before the heat of the day, and again when the day began to cool. She had to get to Rema soon. She may already be too late.

Lila reached the outskirts of the golden city as the sun was setting. She heard many voices, loud noises, saw many people. Lila hung back. She would rather face ten bears than a multitude of humans. She decided to stay among the trees outside the city until morning.

As she arose, she found the sun fairly high in the sky. I cannot get what I need and make it back before dark. I shall be forced to spend one more night near Rema.

She hurried into the city. Many people did not notice her. Those who did, stared at the strange barefoot girl in fringed buckskin dress and kept their distance. She wandered the streets but didn’t know where to find what she was looking for. Finally, she saw a window filled with bottles and jars. She looked in the door, saw more bottles and jars on shelves behind a long counter.

She cautiously opened the door, stepped inside. As she padded to the counter, her eyes had to adjust to the dimness, deeper in the shop. At the counter, she looked up into the watery blue eyes of a tall, man with white hair and a white mustache.

The man cleared his throat, leaned toward her. “May I help you?”

Lila was too frightened to speak. She simply unfolded the paper she had taken from her pocket, laid it before him. He picked up a pair of spectacles, sniffed and read the word on the paper. His eyes grew round. His lower jaw dropped.

He regained his composure. “Young lady, are you a doctor?”

Lila shook her head.

“Then I’m afraid I cannot help you.”

The sting of tears threatened at the backs of Lila’s eyes. “Oh, please, but you must. It has taken me eight days to get here. The Father needs this medicine or he will die. I pray that I am not already too late.”

————————————————————————–

The curtain behind the man parted. A young man with pale, white skin peeked into the room. His eyes locked onto Lila’s long, silky black hair, her sun bronzed skin and her chocolate eyes. He saw fear and hurt in the chocolate pools.

“Edgar, is there a problem here?”

“Declan, you should not show yourself here.” The old man tried to usher the younger back behind the curtain.

“Edgar, I see a beautiful, young woman in distress.” The young man couldn’t seem to tear his eyes from Lila.

“Yes, well, she’s requesting a medication she is not authorized to purchase.”

“Oh, please, sir. I have money.” Lila held out two gold coins.

Declan moved forward. “Where did you get those?” He looked at Lila, eyebrow raised.

“From the Father. Please, I must return with this medicine soon. Time is running out.” The plea in her chocolate eyes gripped Declan’s heart. The ancient gold coins intrigued his mind.

“What is your name, my dear?” His voice, like velvet.

“Lila.”

“A beautiful name for a beautiful woman. Where are you from, Lila?” He leaned so close to her, she could feel his breath on her skin.

“I have traveled a long way by foot, sir. Eight days.”

“Don’t worry, my pet. We can help you. Edgar will get the medicine. You return just after dark and I will get you home with the medicine quickly and safely.” He took the coins from her hand, kissed her palm.

“Thank you, sir. I shall return after dark.”

————————————————————————–

Lila wondered at having to wait until dark. That would put her farther behind schedule, but she couldn’t bring herself to question the pale, young man. His kiss to her palm had made her stomach quiver, sent a shiver up her arm. There was something about him, something beckoned her.

The minute all light fled from the sky, Lila entered the shop, lit by a single candle. She tapped the little bell on the counter and Declan appeared.

“Lovely to see you again, Lila.” He held up a bottle, gave it a little shake.

She heard the pills move inside the bottle. She took the bottle from him and placed it carefully in the pocket of her buckskin dress. She turned to go, but Declan caught her wrist.

“This way.” He pulled her toward the curtained doorway.

When she tried to resist, he stopped, leaned close and spoke softly near her ear, “Remember I promised to get you home quickly and safely? Trust me.”

Lila trembled, but whether from fear or attraction, she did not know. She continued to follow him. They climbed a long, narrow, winding staircase, walked through a door onto a roof.

Lila froze at the sight of something she had never seen before. It was some kind of machine.

Declan wrapped an arm around her, drew her near. “Trust me, remember?”

She looked into his shining green eyes, nodded and allowed him to lead her to the machine.

They climbed inside a glass bubble. He showed her a strap to hold her into the seat, attached his own and flipped a few switches. A long arm began to spin noisily over their heads, he pulled a lever and the machine lifted. They were flying.

Lila hung on to the edges of her seat, her knuckles white, her body tense, but after a while, she looked at Declan, calm and in control of the machine, and allowed herself to relax a little. She looked down, squealed, pointed.

Declan saw the clearing she pointed to and set the chopper down. They got out and ran out from under the propeller, holding hands.

As Lila moved to step beyond the clearing, she felt the pull on her arm. Declan had stopped. She looked at him.

“You go on. Save your father.”

“Will you wait for me?” She didn’t want to say goodbye to him.

Declan shook his head.

Lila ran into his arms, kissed his lips.

————————————————————————–

His lips returned her kiss hungrily. He longed for her. When their lips parted, he trailed kisses down her throat to that vulnerable spot at the base of one side of her neck and his mouth lingered there for a long moment. He inhaled the earthy smell of her, then he pushed her to arms length and released his grip.

“Go!”

She looked at him long enough for him to see the tears form in her chocolate eyes in the moonlight, then she turned and ran.

Declan climbed back into the helicopter, bereft and wishing, with every part of his being, that he could be merely human.

————————————————————————–

Lila ran all the way to the community of cabins in the woods with tears streaming down her cheeks. Her heart skipped a beat when she heard the whir of the long arm of the machine. A sob escaped her lips.

She brushed her tears away and rushed into the Father’s cabin. Raelin was by his side. She looked up when the door burst open.

“Is he . . .?” Lila couldn’t bring herself to finish the sentence.

Raelin looked down at the form of the man in the bed. “Lila has returned.”

The Father reached a hand toward Lila. She ran to him, dropped to her knees, and lay her head on his chest. Then she handed the bottle of pills to Raelin, who retrieved a glass of water from a nearby table. She placed a tablet between the old man’s lips and held his head up to drink. He swallowed.

Lila smiled and left the cabin. She ran all the way back to the clearing, hope urging her forward, but when she got there, the chopper was gone, and with it, her love, her heart.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the last line of Declan’s POV (before the last break). I’d also love to hear your thoughts on Lila’s community. Leave your comments below.

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