Once again, I was so amazed at the wealth of responses for this writing challenge. You guys are so awesome that all I can say is... keep it up! We're already at 800 words which means this story is REALLY HAPPENING!
Special thanks to Ashley S Morgan for contributing this weeks story segment! I can't wait to read what happens next! Get in your 200 word submissions by JULY 26th. to firstname.lastname@example.org! And thanks so much for going on this literary adventure with me!
Molly Lampart's 12th birthday was much like every other day, only more boring: first tea with the governess and a posed photograph with her parents, then a procession of girls who giggled and brought china dolls wrapped in pink paper, despite the fact that Molly hated pink and that most of her dolls ended up dissected for medical research purposes. There was no sneaking out the door to climb trees in the narrow, well-tended backyard, or hanging out her window hollering at the trains steaming into the station two blocks away, or helping Tabby chase rats from the cellar. It was a day to be quickly forgotten, except for one thing:
On Molly's 12th birthday, just as evening was starting to turn the sky the exact color pink Molly particularly despised, the emerald train arrived, seemingly out of nowhere.
It started with a rumble, a roar, a whistle, and the earth shook with the effort of keeping the train on its surface. The train was radiant in the dying sun, spraying colors off the emerald sides so that Molly had to shield her eyes just to watch. But the best part, the absolutely most wonderfully breath-taking part of the whole thing, was the fact that it was braking.
The emerald train was stopping in front of Molly's house.
Excitement building, she ran from the window, leaped down the grand staircase,
passed butlers and maids and other people who did not notice the girl flying out the door
of the four-story mansion. Rushing across the gravel walkway, Molly skidded on her
heels, nearly toppling into the stone fountain.
She felt her jaw drop as her eyes rose to the emerald train stopped in her garden. It was immense, looming, giant, and yet, it was beautiful. For the first time all day, for the first time she could ever remember, Molly felt rather small.
Molly stretched onto her toes, straining to make out the words on the side of the train. She could just make out the words “WALNUT’S WONDROUS” in thin gold lettering, reaching toward the sky, when the train door burst open and. BAM.
Molly jumped. To her delight, she saw a flood of brightly colored acrobats pouring from the train cars. Music danced in the air, pounding an infectious rhythm through Molly's bones. She was so transfixed she did not immediately notice the large, dark man who came after them. But soon she felt someone staring at her, and she turned.
There was something wrong with his eyes. One eye looked as dark as the London night, but the other… the other was not real. It was a walnut, carved to resemble an eye. His mouth quirked up at the edges as Molly stared back in fascination, and although she couldn't hear him over the music, she knew what he said when he opened his mouth.
He said, “Welcome”.
Emboldened by his hospitality, her own curiosity, Molly stepped forward, inching closer and closer, until she felt his breath tickling her forehead. She stared up at him, transfixed by that walnut eye, that strange wooden presence that seemed to be pulsing with life, with magic. On a dizzying, maddening impulse, she reached up and gently traced its swirling groves.
“Pull it out,” he said calmly, as if suggesting the most natural thing in the world. Molly stared at him in wonder, and her heart began thumping crazily in her chest. Her palms now slick with sweat, she looked at him for reassurance. He nodded.
She curled her fingers around the edges of the rough bark and gave it a good yank. She felt a sudden blast of wind. And now the man was not a man, but something else: the socket expanded into a gaping black hole. From the blackness emerged a swirling force, like a live coil, like a whirlpool, as rippling and colorful as the acrobats, and it suck her in and down, down, down, making her stomach clench and then expand in a sickening flutter. After an endless fall, she heard a splash, and felt a fierce, wet coldness turn her bones to ice.