Inspired by my niece and her penchant for photography.
Copyright 2012 Nicole Villacres. All rights reserved.
It had sounded like such a good idea yesterday. Come what may, Brigita was going to take a picture a minute from dawn until dusk. It was going to be brilliant!
However, being 16, she awoke closer to noon.
“So much for dawn,” she muttered. Grabbing her digital camera, she snapped a shot of her interestingly wrinkled bed sheets and headed to the kitchen for some breakfast. Shots of her mom’s pancakes, the floor tiles, and her younger brother sticking his tongue out followed. Brigita found it difficult to eat, let alone get ready for the day.
Perhaps a picture a minute was a little ambitious?
She set her camera down on the bathroom sink, squeezed some toothpaste on her toothbrush and began her morning ritual.
A tiny giggle rang in her ear.
She stopped brushing and listened. She could hear cartoons on the TV and her brother laughing. That must’ve been it. She continued to brush, observing the late morning light out the window.
The giggle came again.
She stopped, listening. She opened the bathroom window and looked outside. The neighbor kids weren’t out there. What was she hearing?
A flash went off next to her, making her blink.
Toothpaste foam ran down her chin as she turned to look at her camera. Glancing quickly out the door, she saw her brother was still in the living room watching TV. She turned back to the sink and looked at the camera. Very slowly, she finished brushing her teeth. Listening. Watching.
She dried her face with a towel and put her toothbrush away, still looking at the camera. She picked it up and switched to the viewer mode. She hit the back arrow. Sure enough, there she was, looking out the window, her toothbrush sticking out of her mouth.
A high-pitched giggle bounced off the walls around her. “You’re behind! Behind, aren’t you?”
Brigita spun around, looking for the owner of the voice. But there was no one there.
The shrill little voice came from above her. “Let me help you catch up!”
Brigita was seized by a sudden urge to photograph anything, something…no…the perfect thing, right now! She grabbed her camera and raced into the living room, her eyes looking for a subject, the perfect composition, the perfect…
Click! Click! Click!
Three shots. She didn’t even know what was going on, but after blinking she found herself looking at the hardwood floor through her camera lens.
“What are you doing?” her brother asked.
But she ignored him. Again she was gripped by the urge to find the perfect picture. She faintly heard the giggle again, but she didn’t pay any attention. The sun was bright as she dashed outside, their backyard was filled with things to shoot…everything seemed to have a magical glow to it…the vegetable garden, the creek, the rocks, the wicker furniture! She darted from one amazing subject to the other.
CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK
She could hardly breathe, she was moving so fast.
“This is fun! Run and run!” The voice rang annoyingly by her ear. Brigita whirled around again.
“Where are you?” she tried to yell, but only gasped.
“Here and there,” it was behind her other ear, “maybe nowhere!”
She spun around again. “What are you?”
More laughter. “Don’t you want to take some more pictures?”
“No!” Brigita retorted. “I want…”
The sparkle of daylight on a yellow dandelion caught her eye. She dropped to her knees in front of it. She had to get the shot!
CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK
Brigita jumped up from the ground. “STOP IT!” She screamed…and threw the camera.
The world seemed to go into slow motion as she watched her camera sail through the air and crash into a pile of stacked wood.
“Oh no…” she whispered. Slowly she walked over and picked it up off the ground. It wouldn’t turn on. It had awful scratches and the lens was broken.
“Now see!” Brigita yelled at the air. She tried to hold back tears. “Why couldn’t you leave me alone? Why did you have to–”
In front of her nose appeared a miniature, lavender boy. The whuff of air into Brigita’s face indicated wings moving too fast to see. Its black eyes met hers, and then it moved to buzz around her camera.
“Rude mechanical,” it said, haughtily. It took a deep breath, its chest horrifyingly expanding like a bizarre balloon, and blew a gust of wet spittle all over the camera.
Brigita recoiled. “Um…ew.”
The purple creature winked at her, then indicated the camera. Brigita looked at it. The pixie spit was evaporating off, leaving the camera shiny clean and…fixed! The scratches were gone; the lens was repaired; the power button turned the thing on!
The pixie busted out laughing. That high, annoying giggle. She watched as it hovered there, pointing at her and laughing, its sharp, spiky teeth flashing in the sun. Brigita raised the camera and took the shot.
The pixie sucked in its laughter, blinking. It observed her darkly with its bright, black eyes. It grinned. “Touché,” it said, wagging a finger at her. And then it vanished.
Brigita caught her breath. She looked around, behind. The pixie was nowhere. The intense, strange brightness in the world around her sifted away into natural, comforting reality.
Brigita ran over to the trees to get in the shade and switched the camera to viewer mode, glancing around in case the little monster reappeared. Clicking through the pictures, she gasped. They were perfect. Amazing. Stunning compositions from commonplace items…the best she’d ever taken!
“Except that I didn’t take them,” she said to herself. “They’re fairy pictures.” Then she brightened. “Except for the last one! I’ve got you on that one.”
Brigita clicked to the last photo. She stared at it, stunned.
The picture was of her, floating in midair, tiny and laughing.
Copyright 2012 Nicole Villacres
I watched the child crouched at the stream. His father was a ways off, throwing a ball for a dog. Had the child been alone, perhaps then I would’ve simply eaten him, for he looked young and tasty. But I was upstream and I thought it best not. Too far upstream and I’m just like them. Besides, the dog was yappy. Who wants to be around one of those?
He was looking for gold, this kid. I knew that much about him. I know the ones with gold in their eyes. He had a small box settled in at the stream’s edge. A sluice. No panning for him…this one was serious. He shoveled mud from the stream into it and watched for what got caught in the box. He had waders on so he kept dry. Upstream, damn him. Now, if I could get him hunting gold downstream …yes, that would be a different story.
So how to get him away from his cursed father and downstream? If I let gold show to him here, he’d go further upstream, not down, looking for more.
The dog. Yes. That yappy little pappy was just the ticket. I watched the dog and caught its thoughts. And then I was running away, upstream, tiny and fast, and the yapper was after me. Better yet, the father was after the yapper, breaking through the undergrowth with a terrible clatter.
In a flash I doubled-back, arcing away from them, invisible in my perfect camouflage. My kind blend in everywhere, you see. I circled through the trees to the other side of the clearing.
The boy was standing by his sluice, watching the way his father and the yapper had gone. I caught the boy’s thoughts and stepped out from the trees not far behind him.
“Hello,” I said.
He jumped around and looked at me.
“Hi. Who are you?”
Straightforward kid. “I’m Ben. I live around here. You lookin’ for gold?”
He eyed me, but I was dressed in my boy clothes. I was no taller than him. His tousled hair was dark, mine was yellow, his clothes newer, mine a bit used.
“Yeah,” he said, slowly dumping a glop of mud into the sluice. “You have a claim here? I didn’t see any signs.”
“Oh, nah. People come here all the time to pan and stuff. It’s downstream you want to look. This spot is dry of gold.”
“Yeah. I can show you a good spot. See?” And I held out the nugget. It was a real small one. Anything big wouldn’t fool him. The kid had a sluice, for god sake. He knew what was possible in a stream like this. He craned his neck from where he stood, trying to see what was in my palm. “Picker?”
“Nugget. Bitty one, though. Got it panning down there.” I pointed downstream.
“Can I see it?”
“Well, sure. Come over.”
And he did! By God, he did! I held out the nugget, tiny in my boy palm and he looked at it like it was the Hope diamond. If I could just get him closer to my bridge, I’d have the strength to grab him and cook him up like a rabbit. He’d follow me. I knew he would.
“Come on,” I grinned. “I’ll show you.”
He grinned back. I had him.
And then, crashing out of the trees on the other side of the clearing came that damn yappy. Running like its tail was on fire. It could smell me. I may be able to change my shape, but I can’t change my smell. I smelled just like that chipmunk he’d been chasing. I backed up without thinking.
The boy turned around and caught the dog as it leapt into his arms. Terrier. It kept barking at me something fierce. And then the father was there.
“This is Ben, dad,” the boy was saying. “He lives around here. He found a gold nugget just a little downstream.”
The father looked at me with a friendly grin. “Really? That’s cool.”
The yappy just kept up his yapping.
“Joey, stop it,” the boy said, trying to keep a hold of the dog wriggling in his arms.
But it was no good. That dog had me figured out. “I got to go,” I said, knowing it was scrawny rabbits for dinner again tonight.
“We have to go, too, Troy,” the father said. “Your mom’s going to be waiting for us at the store.” He took the squirmy dog out of the boy’s arms and told it No and Sit Down and Quiet.
The disappointment on the kid’s face made my stomach growl. “But Ben was going to show me the good place…for my sluice.” So close.
The dog growled low and I glanced at it. We shared a vicious, knowing look. I started to leave, then a thought hit me. I turned and flicked the tiny nugget to the boy. He caught it, wide-eyed.
“I can have it?”
I nodded, rubbing my hand across my nose, like a little kid would. “More where that came from.”
He looked at me, gold hungry. His dad put a hand on the boy’s shoulder and they turned to go pick up his stuff. “Nice to meet you, Ben,” the father said.
But I was already walking through the trees, downstream. The further I went, the more my body grew, and when my bridge was in sight, I had returned to myself. A rabbit darted away from my approach, but I reached out like lightning and grabbed it, snapping its neck in one swift motion.
I thought of the golden bait the boy had caught in his hand and now carried home.
We trolls are patient. A rabbit would do for now.
Inspired by my roller derby sisters.
Copyright 2012 Nicole Villacres
All I know is, everything just came to a stop. We were at the Sportsplex in the middle of a jam and I was trying to get through the pack and then…nothing. No sound, no movement. Everything stopped. I actually fell, because I hadn’t stopped and I slammed into Deth Becomes Her. She was like a stone wall. A statue. I sprained my wrist, ‘cause it slammed into her back. I was down on the ground trying to get up on my skates when I realized no one was moving. No one. Not the fans, not the players, no one. It was completely silent. And then I heard someone say hello and I looked around and there was Razz. She’s the other jammer. She was like, “Is anyone here?” I stood up and we skated to each other. We couldn’t figure out what was happening; it was like a movie, or a commercial, the kinds where all this action suddenly comes to a halt and the camera moves around a person in the middle of a leap or something. We held onto each other. We were scared. I wanted to vomit.
Touching anyone was like touching the dead. Everyone was frozen in mid-yell or laugh or yawn or whatever they had been doing at that moment.
And then, this little girl stood up from the front row, the suicide seats. She was looking at her mother, at least I guess it was her mother—she was frozen–and the girl started to cry. Must’ve been…five years old? She looked over at us and said she was sorry, and could we fix it.
We skated over to her, Razz demanding what happened, and I told her to chill out. I pulled my helmet off and knelt to the girl’s level and asked her why she was sorry.
She said she had stopped it. I looked at Razz. She looked like she was going to be sick. I asked the girl what she had stopped. She looked down at the ground. At her feet was a pocket watch. It looked really old. The little girl picked it up.
She said she’d taken it from her mom. That she wasn’t supposed to, but she wanted to. So she did.
I asked her if that was why everything was frozen. She nodded, cried again. I put my hand on her head. Asked her her name. Becky, she said.
Razz asked how to start the watch up again and if that would make everything unfreeze. Becky said it would but she didn’t know how. She said her mom was magic and always had the watch. She never let go of it. Then she seemed like she got an idea and she shoved the watch into her mom’s hand.
But nothing happened. Becky started crying for her mom to move.
I looked at Razz. I asked Becky if I could hold the watch. She looked at me; her face was splotchy from tears. She took the watch out of her mom’s hand and gave it to me. It was warm to the touch. It was gold with a glass cover, a white face, black hands and numbers. The hands seemed to float. I tipped the watch to the side, trying to see how they were connected. Razz was looking over my shoulder. The watch…I don’t know how to describe it…it felt, in my hand, very old…more than it looked. Almost ancient. I shivered inside. I looked for a place to wind it up, a knob to turn or something. I asked Becky if she’d ever seen her mom wind the watch. She shook her head.
Then she added, “Mommy runs.”
Razz and I looked at each other. Razz asked her what she meant. Becky said her mom ran every day. I asked her how long. She didn’t know.
I told her to stay with her mom and skated onto the track with the watch. Razz followed. She asked me what the watch was. I said I didn’t know. I’m not sure I wanted to know. I glanced back at the woman, Becky’s mother. She was pretty, but not especially noticeable. She didn’t look magic. But she did look very fit.
I looked at Razz. She runs, I said. I took a breath, gripped the watch in my hand and took off around the track as fast as I could. I nearly ran into Razz, who caught me as I careened to a stop.
They moved, she screamed at me, pointing at the pack. I didn’t notice a difference, but if she had…Becky was jumping around, too.
I grabbed Razz’s hand. I told her we have to skate. As long as it took. So we did. I raced around the track five, six, seven times, before I passed off the watch to Razz and fell down, trying to catch my breath. She didn’t miss a beat, taking off around the track with the watch. That’s when I saw it. It was almost imperceptible. But the pack was moving. Super slow. I glanced around and saw that everything was in uber slow motion. And the sound…I’ve never heard anything like it. A sort of moan of hundreds of voices.
I was just feeling like I had a little more energy when Razz was finally exhausted. I caught the watch from her as she skidded down to her kneepad and slid to a stop. I raced as hard as I could around the track as my derby sisters slowly seemed to come back into motion and the sound in the arena began to rise. It was so slow!
Razz and I kept going, until at last we were skating together, trying to share our energy, the watch clasped between us. I have no idea how long we skated. The last thing I remember is my legs giving way, losing touch with Razz, the watch burning like fire in my palm, and sliding across the track. The noise was unbelievable. I couldn’t think or speak as the other skaters all dropped to one knee as the refs called out that skaters were down. The next moment, Becky was there and her dark-haired mother, mouthing Thank you, and gently taking the watch from my hand. She then placed her own hand over my palm and the burning stopped. I realized I had slid right to their seats. And then the EMTs were there, asking me questions, checking me out.
But I couldn’t think or do anything. I’d never been so exhausted. I remember a stretcher. I remember the locker room. And water and oxygen. I remember my energy returning and the crowd cheering as Razz and I came back from the locker rooms to join our teams on the benches.
I looked for Becky. But her seat and her mother’s seat were empty. I glanced over to Razz on the other team’s bench and she had noticed, too. She raised her hand a little and pointed at her palm. I didn’t know what she meant, but then she pointed at me. I looked down at my hand. In my palm was the imprint of the ornate back of the watch.
The mark is fading now. But the memory of that jam? That I’ll never forget.
By Nicole Villacres
On the brink of the abyss,
Comes an impulsive desire to step off, to leap;
To taste the grip of a freefall kiss;
The fatal end, your regret, yours to keep.
What is this urge, this evil need?
Common sense it will not heed.
It winks at death; fear can’t impede.
On the edge of a busy street
It grips again, this death wish fleeting
To step into traffic, head on to meet
The bus, the car, the semi speeding.
Our darker side that seeks our end,
A small resist and the urge will bend.
Beware the need, lest your life it rend.
On March 13, 2005, Hazel Gibbs opened her door to a desperate-looking Tom O’Bryan. Six years (300 cycles) later, I posted the last two chapters and the epilogue. Six years exactly! How did that happen? There was a time I forgot about the story and thought I’d never finish it. Life was just too busy. But the rumor of the sequel to Tron and the encouragement from reviewers got me going again. What a great feeling it is to finish a long story like that. And what an amazing character arc developed for Hazel. I didn’t even know she was on the path she was on until I had traveled it with her for a while. Being such a long-time Tron fan, it was wonderful to play in that sandbox, develop new characters and grow the old ones. I mean, how can you not love writing dialogue for Tron and Flynn? I began this with thanks to Steve and Bonnie and I thank them again. Without them, I wouldn’t have Hazel, or Wulf, or Tracer. And I love those characters.
A HUGE thank you to all my reviewers, especially Swashbucklist, Silver Shadow Spark, Shan DaMan, Jyn-the-Racoon, Mel, EricSB and so many others who have (probably unknowingly) kept me motivated and encouraged to continue when life got busy and getting up in the morning before work to write just wasn’t that appealing. It was also lovely to hear from new Tron fans who had only seen “Tron: Legacy” but were still jumping right in with “Fallen Away.” Biodigital jazz, man. Thank you to all of you.
Spark asked if there was going to be a sequel to “Fallen Away.” At this time, I’m not planning one, but you never know if it will strike my fancy in the future. Personally, I think Hazel could use a break for a while, don’t you?
I want to welcome all my readers to this site. When I finish the theatre commitments I’m working on currently, I will be publishing new, original fiction here. So bookmark me, or subscribe to the RSS, and check in once in a while. You may find some more good stuff to read!
The last two chapters of “Fallen Away” are drafted and now just need to be edited and polished. It’s really weird to be at the end of this journey. I LOVE finishing stories because it is such a hard thing for me to do and such an accomplishment. It’s easy to keep writing on and on, but to wrap something up, to work at bringing it to conclusion in a satisfying way…that is a wonderful thing. At the same time, I don’t think I will be revisiting with these characters again for a long time, if at all, so it’s also bittersweet. I will lose my connection with my Fanfiction.net readers, though I will point them here. I will miss them and their reactions. I will miss knowing that someone is enjoying what I’ve written.
It’s been good.
My dear Lorelei deckmate, Klaus, has asked for info on what “The Daughter of the Agekeeper” is about. So here you go!
Radie Conlan is a 12-year-old girl who has the infrequent but disturbing experience of being in two places at one time. Her mother used to talk her through these moments, but she passed away many years ago and now Radie is left to deal with them on her own. She discovers that she is connected to another planet, for what reason she knows not, and if during one of her moments of existing in both places she focuses on the other planet, she will be there. With no way to get back to Earth.
Radie and her dad are very close, but he wants nothing to do with these “visions” as he calls them. One day, the inevitable happens and Radie finds herself on the planet Udana attempting to rescue a girl not much older than herself who has ivy vines for hair and green skin. Radie must figure out why she is there before a way can open up to allow her to return home.
The Radie Conlan website will be up soon! Hope you enjoy the story.
My Tron fanfiction, “Fallen Away,” is almost complete. Once that is done, I will be putting up for online enjoyment my novel, “Daughter of the Agekeeper,” also known as “Simultane 06-Initial of Archival Record 4-G-RHM-06x.” Wow. That’s a lot of letters and numbers! Keep watching–Chapter 1 will be up for reading soon.