Friday, September 4, 2009

Ferrymans Grace

Prompt: Pick an ordinary object, and give it an extraordinary use.

Bangsian fantasy is my challenge this week.

If you’d like to suggest a genre for me to write in next week – please leave it with your comments!

Dans pallid face stared into the mist as he attempted to make sense of the shapes forming in front of him. The sound of gentle waves slapping against a solid object puzzled him as he wondered for the dozenth time where he had woken up this time. What seemed only moments ago he had been hurtling down the freeway with close friends. Taking swigs from a large bottle of spirits and liberal puffs from the plentiful roaches passed about, Dan felt the happiest he had ever been. He caught himself then. Tomorrow was to be his happiest day – or at least Melindas. Brides are always banging on about the happiest moment of their lives. He just wished the huge family affair were over and they could escape to Fiji for their honeymoon.

The lapping sound grew steadier and stronger. Dan shook his head in an attempt to clear his memory. Urghh his mouth felt like the bottom of a parrots cage. He tried to spit, but his body was so dehydrated all he could manage was a weak gurgle. He grinned. Must have ended up one hell of a party. He felt like ratshit.

He brought his hand up to his chin to scratch his usually stubbly face. Puzzled his felt the silky smoothness of his face and shook his head again. Must have been a really wild party. He immediately felt his eyebrows and head, remembering other bucks parties where unfortunate victims had been shaved within an inch of their dignity. Heaving a sigh of relief to feel the full compliment of his hair still intact, his hand then went to retrieve the foreign object from his mouth he’d been sucking on for a while.

Dan stared long and hard at the thing from his mouth. Some party.

The waves stopped momentarily as the sound of a flat bottomed hull whispered onto the sandy bank. Dan tore his eyes from the soggy leather pouch gingerly held in his fingertips and blinked rapidly as the mist revealed a solid figure balancing on newly arrived skiff.

With an air of patient expectancy, Charon rested his bony hands on the propeller, allowing his hood to cloak his face further.

“I’ve been sucking on my grans coin purse.” Dan wasn’t sure if he was trying to bridge conversation with the stranger or simply to voice his confusion.

The river lapped noiselessly against the skiff and silence hung long and uncomfortably.

“You must pay be your obol if you are to cross.” An ethereal voice targeted Dans ears painfully.

Dan frantically looked about. The mist dense and wet formed shapes teasing him and tantalizing him. He fancied he saw the faces of his friends within the water beyond the boat only to be swallowed by the rolling clouds of white.

“My what? I’m sorry – who are you, where are we exactly. What the hell is going on here?”

Dans mind tumbled and jumbled attempting to recall any scrap of memory to link his presence here and that of the speeding car and carefree laughter.

Why would he have his YaYas purse in his mouth? His cheeks momentarily hurt from the memorys of her squeezing and pinching them as he grew up. No-one loves like a Greek grandma.

Charon stepped forward and offered Dan the oar. “Your journey either continues across the waters or you must turn back and wander aimlessly for eternity. If you have no coin, you may use this oar and ferry us both across. I am beginning to feel my years.”

A wisp of grey escaped from under the hood as Charons bright eyes flickered with an intense fire.

Dans mind raced. His fumbled with the purse, shook its contents and stared at the combination of coin and dirt he now held in his hand. Dan poured them into Charons other hand but as he did so, dirt fell from their outstretched hands and onto the sand, hissing as they landed.

Charon regarded the coins seriously before secreting them into a pouch. He stepped aside and waved Dan aboard.

“It would seem someone still regards the old ways with reverence. I will take you as far as the Adamantine gates.”

“YaYa used to talk about Adamantine gates. These ones.. they wouldn’t be the gates of…?”

Charon nodded.

{{uk|Харон перевозить душі через річку Стікс}}Image of Charon via Wikipedia

“Then I’m…..?”

Charon gave a barely noticeable nod as he swung the skiff about and began to paddle.

Dan slumped onto the deck and stared forlornly into the river. The faces of the friends in the speeding car all screamed in silent terror at him and were quickly swept away by the Charons rapid strokes.

Dan stood in front of the gates of Hades and watched Charon glide out into the river.
Uncharacteristically, Charon hailed him. “Your grandmother knows the ways of the old folk. For this reason I will tell you that you have a thread of life attached back on the furtherest shore through the living earth spilled. Pay me another fare and I will take you back; then it will be up to you to fight your way to your own world.”

Dan squeezed the empty coin purse and looked helplessly back at Charon.

“When you have found the fare, I will be here for you. However, you only have two turns of the moon or you will be interred here forever.”

The rolling mist greedily swallowed the ferrymans shape.


I did actually start this story thinking about weird or extraordinary things you can do with a ladies purse or bag.... and it grew from there.... Not really the direction I was aiming at - but then I am hardly in charge of the characters who visit my green room.


Jodi Cleghorn said...

I really really like your mystical, fantasy writing Annie.

I threw myself a curve ball, by misinterpreting a line in the first paragraph and I thought perhaps he was a little like Henry in The Time Travellers Wife where he could involuntarily shift between realms (especially given it was fantasy)

As soon as he'd taken the purse from his mouth I knew exactly where he was. The revisiting of the image of the speeding car was a nice touch at the end.

Now I'm off to find out exactly what Bangsian fantasy is.

My FF and #fridayflash addition is "Taping Lydia"

And thanks to you I'm now going to spend the rest of the afternoon with Chris de Burghe in my head.

Benjamin Solah said...

Wow, that was trippy and kept me reading, wondering what was happening.

Such a sad story in the end.

My Fiction Friday and #friday flash is "The Boat" -

Bill said...

Hey Annie,

I always enjoy writing that incorporates classical mythology and/or gives it a twist. Nice work here.

Suggestion for next week: horrific writing. I made an attempt this week at:

Janet said...

I really enjoyed this story. I felt it was put together very well, slowly leading us to realise what had happened. Spookily, it also adds to the growing tally of references to contact with the 'other side' I'm experiencing (but not writing about!) at the moment.

Chris Chartrand said...

Your words lap gently against the story like the waves of the river stix. I like the idea of the old ways continuing on despite our rejection of them. The sliver of hope at the end was a deft touch.

CJT said...

I really liked the story, it seemed to keep me hanging on for what comes next.

Jaime said...

I have to echo what Benjamin said and say that your story was quite trippy. I love the characterization, though - I got a sense of him nearly instantly.