Dedicated to lostinthestereosound
There, a light. A slight light, blinding light, squeezing through her eyelid like the sun's rays through a cracked wall. Like artificial light escaping through the outline of a hidden door. Or peeking through a gap in someone's curtains on a starless night.
Light. Twinkling, the fluttering of twitching long dormant eyelids making it flash and flicker, just as the flame of a candle would in a breeze.
Breeze, wind, air. How she longed to feel the caress of the breeze against her cheek, the wind making her hair dance like frenzied snakes, air filling and expanding her lungs.
Lungs. She couldn't breathe. When had she last breathed? How had she lasted so long without breathing? She panicked, trying to draw in a startled breath, but nothing happened. Nothing moved. She couldn't feel her lungs, tongue, lips.
Lips. Numb, dead. Everything was numb. She couldn't feel her toes to curl them, her fingers to clench them, her head to turn it, her eyes to close them.
Oh, but she could see. She could see a light. Refreshing, enlivening light, chasing away the despair of darkness. Sat atop a valiant Peophin, clad in shining silver armour, protecting her from the dark. That cold, lonely dark. She knew what she could see. It was hope.
How has she come to be in this state? Reflecting, it seemed like a long, long time since she had last seen the joy of light. Too long.
She felt like she was going to suffocate at any moment. She didn't.
If she could have moved she would have tensed and the breath would've caught in her throat. As it was, her flickering eyelashes steadied in fright.
She could remember before the darkness, she could remember that light. A memory tugged at the back of her mind, seeking to be released. She dragged it from the depths of her brain, letting it take over all conscious thought
She recalled the coolness of the water lapping against her body, the softness of the clouds beneath her head. Bright light, sweet air.
She was lying in a pool looking up at the sun-kissed sky, with the twinkling of laughter, the tweeting of joyful Faellies, and the purring of satisfied Alkenores filling the air around her. Drinking in the happiness that surrounded her, she sighed. This was the life.
Just as her eyes started to close and she began to succumb to a peaceful sleep, a dark shadow loomed over her.
Another loud 'crack' resounded, startling her from her recollection. Now she was truly scared, not even the light could save her from this. What was happening to her?
Panic and desperation overtook her and she found herself wishing that she could at least cry, just so she could let everything out.
The fingers of her left hand jerked suddenly, trembling with fear. All previous emotions were replaced by shock. She could move her fingers.
She attempted to clench and unclench her hand, her fingers feeling stiff and heavy as she did so. The bones of her fingers creaked as they moved as if she were an old woman. Her skin felt as dry as the Lost Desert and she could not feel any warmth in her digits or any blood pumping beneath her skin. She felt cold.
Cold as marble, dry as dust, hard as stone.
She couldn't understand why her hand would feel this way. She would need more than moisturiser to fix this damage. It couldn't just be the lack of circulation, could it? Or the dryness of the air in wherever she was? Or just lack of use over an extended period of time? Something must have happened to her, something bad.
She tried to move her right hand as well, but to no avail. Instead, she focused on the left side of her body, hoping she would be able to gain more movement there. She kept clenching and unclenching her hand until the action became more fluid. She could hear crunching as the joint of her wrist escaped paralysis and began to move once more, and felt as if powder would be falling from her wrist every time she bent it.
She continued to move up her whole left arm, twisting and turning and bending and shaking, until her arm was completely free. It felt like a lead weight at her side, pulling her down.
As her attention moved to her shoulder the memory she was previously relaying to herself popped up in her mind again.
She peeked up at the dark shadow, curious as to what it could be. A dainty hand was placed on her shoulder and she came face to face with one of the most beautiful faerie she had ever seen. Long, silky blonde hair with sky blue streaks fell in waves down the figure's back, cascading over her shoulders to tickle the nose of the startled girl beneath her. The faerie had huge blue eyes, glistening like the sea and strange blue markings covered most of her face, making her seem exotic and mysterious.
She was giggling like a schoolgirl, excitement lighting up her whole face. The faerie opened her mouth to speak but instead another, very familiar voice floated over .
"Michelle! Oh, Michelle!"
She was startled from her memory by the sound of her mother's voice. Yes, she was sure it was her mother calling to her.
She could picture her mother's face; her brown hair, brown eyes, loving smile. It had seemed as though it was only yesterday when her mother had screeched at her to get off the couch, stop drinking iced coffee and do her chores, trying to whack her with a tea towel in the process.
Oh, how she missed her mother.
With the image of her mother in her mind and her desperation to see her building, she gathered up all her strength in a last ditch attempt to break free from whatever was imprisoning her.
Freedom! She could taste it, even if her mouth was still numb.
Whatever had encased her limbs had shattered, dust filling her nostrils. She could breathe, move her arms, her body... but not her feet.
Frustrated, she heaved open her eyes and looked down, only to find her now grey feet fused to a slab of stone. What on Earth? Eyes widened in shock, she looked up again only to be confronted by the sight of her mother and the faerie from before.
"Mum? What's going on?" Michelle asked, scrunching up her nose in confusion.
"Oh, Michelle! It's only been a few seconds since you were painted, how could you have forgotten already? Oh well, never mind. Don't you look marvellous! Oh, splendid!" She took a tissue out of her pocket, wet it with her tongue before moving to dab Michelle's cheek with it.
"Painted? What? I thought you said you had a surprise for me, an early Christmas present? Why am I cold? I want to go home." Michelle pouted, flicking her head like a diva.
"This is your surprise!" Michelle's mother exclaimed as she tied a rope around her daughter's waist. "It's a new colour for your species, don't you like it? Gosh, I've always wanted a designer pet, all the girls at my Geos club will be so jealous. I was so upset when this colour was released for Korbats and realised we hadn't amassed enough points in the Obelisk War to buy one (that's all your fault you know, if you had just stuck to training like I had wanted you to when you were younger you would've been strong enough to beat more of the war opponents, but oh no, you wanted to do ballet. Where's ballet going to get you in life, Michelle? Huh?)." With a scoff and a flick of her hair her mother turned her back on Michelle, continuing on with her saga.
"Anyway, I was distraught upon realising that I couldn't paint you the way I wanted. Oh, so upset! I cried for days (you may have noticed my cupcakes were a little saltier than usual). But, I carried on, being the strong woman that I am. I nearly went on hiatus you know! Oh, so very nearly! Then, I found out that the new skirmishes awarded avatars and I was desperate to gain a few more of those especially since that woman (you know, that one that's really jealous of me? Ha, she better be jealous now), well, she gained a few more avatars of her own so that her count beat me by one! Well, I couldn't have that, no siree! So, once again, you donned your armour and I sent you off to battle. I'm so glad we kept following that bandwagon, otherwise this might never have happened! So, we won, you remember? And we got a list of prizes to choose from, boons they called them. Well, I was already late for my Kou-Jong class at this point and so I didn't have time to go to the place where all the war and event fanatics congregated to see what each boon did. The Refresh Quest boon seemed pretty self-explanatory and so I chose that. Best thing I ever did! Because, the next day, do you know what happened? The air faerie came to visit us asking for help, useless girl that she is. Pfft, as if anyone wants her silly stamina points. Anyway, I refreshed this quest, sending her away and telling her to get one of our friends to come down to see us. And who do you think showed up? Well, this beautiful lady, of course!"
Michelle's mother squealed, pawing at the faerie beside them whilst smiling at her with what Michelle like to call her 'crazy eyes smile'. The faerie laughed nervously, edging away slightly from the pair while Michelle struggled to get her head around everything her mother had said so far. If only she would speak at a normal pace.
"It didn't even cost me any neopoints, you know!" Her mother carried on, looking more crazed by the minute. "She asked for something we already had in our SDB. It was just your old ballet dress so no harm done, your dancing days are long over. Gosh, I wished they had ended before they began, you always were so terrible! So anyway, I handed her over the dress and she gave us access to her fountain and so here we are!"
Still struggling to comprehend all the information she had just been bombarded with, Michelle looked at her mother blankly.
Her mother sighed exasperatedly, "Ugh! Do I have to spell everything out for you?! I. Got. The. Fountain. Faerie. To. Paint. You. Relic. You got it? Now, come on! It's going to take me forever to pull you home."
Michelle was speechless. Her mother's tugging on the rope around her waist brought her back to reality as she came face to face with the sight of her mum trying to pull her home because her feet were now eternally paralysed in stone.
She was furious. She had always dreamed of being painted to be a faerie, or a princess, but oh no, her mother had made her into a gargoyle. Maybe it was time to seek out Boochi.
For their entire duration of their journey home Michelle's horrified scream could be heard for miles around.