Flash Fiction Friday – The Vessel

I was temping today and while the kids in my pre-lunch session were working independently I had a sudden flash of inspiration and wrote the following:

She was in the middle of instructing a group of eight graders on what would be part of their test on demographics the following week when she heard that familiar voice in her head.

“On your mark, princess…” It said sing-song. “There’s trouble afoot.”

She cleared her throat. “So, does everyone have the study questions?” Varied mumbles spread in the classroom. Someone shouted ‘no!’ but she saw the paper lying on his desk. “All right, those of you who don’t have them can come up and get them from me.” She waved the stack of papers in her hand. “Feel free to spread out and work in small groups if you prefer.”

Chairs scuffed against the floor as they begun moving, filing out of the classroom to the group rooms or the tables in the hall, except for a few who stayed in their seats. She turned briefly toward the desk in the corner, pretending to arrange some of her papers so that she could answer without anyone seeing her mouth move.

“Not a good time, Kay…” she mumbled, curing whichever God had decided that phonation was necessary for Vessels to be able to communicate telepathically with thier Links.

“Come o-on… evil waits for no-one,” Kaillor answered.

“Uh, can I have one of those?”

“Of course.” She turned, holding out a handout to the lanky boy who had come up behind her, ignoring her impatient Link for the time being. He took it, then reached for the stack she was still holding in her hand.

“For Kevin,” he said, jabbing his thumb toward a group of boys clustering around a table in the hall. She thought Kevin was the one with the dark red hoodie, who had had sat right in the back. She only had this group for this one session so she wasn’t too concerned with learning anyone’s name – she always checked the school catalogues against the notes she left for the regular teacher in case anyone tried to get away with misbehaving by pretending to be one of their classmates.

One more student wanted a paper, then another, before she had a moment unguarded again. She turned her face down, feigning interest in her handouts. “It can fucking wait until 2 p.m.,” she answered at a whisper. Volume didn’t matter for this type of communication – so long as the articulation was comprihensible and airflow articulation occured Kaillor would hear her perfectly well. It had taken her quite a while to realize that, but since then she’d become fairly adept at talking at a whisper with lips that only moved as much as was necessary for comprehension. “I like this school and I’m not gonna lose my chance of coming back by bailing mid-class.” It wasn’t that getting temping gigs was hard, but getting invited back to those schools where you really felt at home was a trick she hadn’t quite mastered yet. Most seemed to go for a “whoever’s available” approach with their temps, so she was eager to leave a stellar impression.
Besides, it was almost 1:30 p.m. already – not long to go. For the remaining 32 minutes she drifted between the clumps of students, answering questions, asking them of those who claimed they already knew everything and didn’t need to study any more, and generally trying to prevent YouTube videos from occuring all too often. All the while, Kaillor sang “The Wheels On The Bus” in her head on repeat. Pest of a Link. At least this way she knew it wasn’t a literal apocalypse. If he was calm enough to tease her, she still had time. At 13:57 she lost her nerve and dismissed the class before hurrying over to the school administration to return her keys and drop off the report she had diligently composed, the last one during the last few minutes of the final class, forthe regular teacher to peruse when they got back.

By the time she was crossing the parking lot, she was muttering litanies to herself and digging in her backpack to make sure she had everything she needed. She felt the heat of the sigils, tattooed years ago on her wrists and ankles, along her spine and across her hips, as they activated at her words. Her steps took her toward the trains, pulled by an internal GPS she had no control over. As she walked she took off her jewelry, the earrings and the gold heart around her neck, and slipped on her wooden bracelets with the power words carved onto tiny beads. She found her athame in her backpack and slipped it into her blazer instead. The train was already at the station when she got there but it wouldn’t leave for another twelve minutes. Frustrating, but it gave her time to prepare. She found a seat with no-one else around, changed from her pumps into her sneakers. Fishing out two vails, she shook a few specks of consecrated earth onto her palm, then from the other a few drops of whole water. Tucking the vials away, she pressed her palms together and rubbed in a circular pattern until the mixture was but a lightly tinted dampness on her skin. She closed her eyes, her palms tingling, and dipped deep into herself. She did not move when the train rolled ut from the station, and when she opened her eyes and alighted two stops later her eyes were shark-black with the power of the Early Ones.

I wrote it by hand so I apologize for any typoes caused by typing it up very quickly this evening. But lovelies… I really like this. I may do something more with it. I’m seeing a paranormal NA-ish (is it NA if it’s late 20s early 30s? Or is that something else?) about a group of close friends fighting demons and monsters while dealing with young kids and breakups and changing majors and anxiety and  bills and learning to knit and D&D campaigns and all sortsa normal stuff. I’m actually pretty excited… Lots of stuff still to work out, but hey! Gotta start someplace.

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