Ledia Runnels' "World of Fantasy Fiction"











{May 20, 2011}   MIDNIGHT AT FRANCESCA’S: Chapter One “Jack Sprat, the Midnight Brat”

Throwing rocks to ripple in the pond, he waited. Any moment now and the portal would gape open. It began as a tiny light twinkling the same way a star appears from outer space, but spreading like a wild fire until it glowed as tall as Jack’s head, and wide as his shoulders.

Jack stepped closer. For a moment, he stood waiting at the edge of his world. An uncomfortable feeling grabbed at his chest. A shiver of apprehension tracked through him. He tilted his head in contemplation, peaking outside where the ball of fire in the sky, they called it the sun was an orange smear across the darkening sky, making the dirt of the other world look that much dingier, Jack grimaced.

Tossing his head back, he snapped his fingers and a board with wheels appeared in his hand. He spun a wheel with one finger, a devilish smile lifting one the side of his lips. He took a deep breath and dove head first through to the other side.

Sliding by on his skateboard, the sound of happy laughter drew Jack like a witch’s spell. He spun around a corner of the market place to find children stomping and splashing in a shallow fountain. Blue, green, orange and pink lights glistened up from beneath the water to shine on the little one’s faces.

Adults gathered at the edge of the pool. Among them sat a woman in tapered cream-colored slacks. Her golden hair blew every so slightly in the evening breeze. It was the look on her face that bothered Jack the most, superior, smug as if she was too good to be among the common folk.

She narrowed her blue gaze toward a slightly plump, smaller woman who had the audacity to get in bare feet and ankle-deep with a little boy. Hands beneath his arms, she swung him just above the splashing water. The child’s squeals of joy were what first caught Jack’s attention.

The fairy knelt low. He could disappear from sight with just a thought. The wheels of the skateboard he rode whirled, blending with the chirping of crickets.

Smooth as butter, Jack picked up a rock from the ground. He gave it a toss so the smooth stone landed exactly where he wanted it.

Kerplop!

It hit the puddle of mud just so. A stream of the black gunk splattered from knee to ankle of the haughty woman’s not-so-perfect-now cream slacks.

A bubble of laughter started in Jack’s throat. He doubled over, slapping his knees, yet never once did he teeter the slightest bit off the board on wheels.

The woman jumped to her feet. A scream of horror tore her perfect face. Now we’re having fun, Jack smirked.

The little child swinging from his mother’s hands gazed wide-eyed in fairy’s direction. Of course you can see me. Jack gave the child a wink. In the next instant, he flicked a crystal, the size of tiny ball toward the water.

Then, feet planted against the skateboard, Jack whirled away from the fountain filling rapidly with soap bubbles.

“You!” A gruff voice called.

Jack glanced up to see the security man on horseback frowning down at the sudsy mess. A secret smile tugged at the man’s lips.

He means me. Jack smirked.

Crouching low, he spun around the corner to where the trees danced with white and orange lights. The pungent scent of pumpkin pie spice tickled his nose as he rolled by a store front. Behind the plate glass window, fairy dolls dangled from wire branches of makeshift trees as if the nymphs floated on the autumn air.

He wasn’t supposed to be here. But being naughty was what Jack loved best.

His mask slipped the smallest bit. Jack yanked it back in place, making sure his wild hair covered the tiny peaks of his ears. If the humans saw what he really was, they would absolutely freak…

The air was muggy at best. Not the crisp chill most would fix to Halloween twilight.

Francesca felt worn out and sad as she hurried by a sign posted at the side of the street. It read: NO SKATE BOARDS ALLOWED!

To escape her bad mood and the strangely warm evening, she ducked inside a corner boutique where sultry dresses hung behind the plate-glass window front. A jingle of chimes at the door made it seem like she stepped inside another world. The air wove a current cool and inviting around jewelry sparkling from wire stands.

Behind the sales counter there stood a diminutive fairy.

When she turned, silvery hair cascaded like ripples from a waterfall to caress her tiny waist.

Francesca noticed the flash at the window followed by a sparkle of golden light lingering in the air behind. Something magical drew her outside toward children splashing in the fountain.

She stood at water’s edge, longing to kick off her shoes and dip her toes into the water. At that precise moment, someone took her by the hand, hauling her sideways.

She looked up to see a young man on a skateboarder. His longish red hair jagged like lightning from his head. A twinkle of mischief lit his wild green eyes.

Was it her imagination or did she see small peaks at the top of his ears? Like an elf!

Before Francesca could think another thought or even catch her breath, she found herself running with him. Much to her surprise, she jumped on the back of his skateboard.

For some strange reason, she would never fully understand, it seemed like the natural thing to do. So, she gave her whole self to the coming adventure. Whatever lay ahead now had to be better than the hellish day she’d had at work…

Copyright by Ledia Runnels 2011

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