"Fire Spears" by R.H. Naranjo
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
I smiled at my sister’s house: a wooden cabin on a field of carrots and potatoes. The smell of pine felt fresh, a sweet layer of strawberries on top. The door opened just before I knocked, and Ellie smiled at me from behind. “You’re here!” she said. A rocking cradle stood beside the dining table, and I caught sight of baby Michael’s tiny hands. I stepped inside and let the house’s warmth greet me like an old friend.
Ellie came out of the kitchen with a tray of lasagna on her hands, leaving a trail of white steam behind it. She placed it gently on the table, its smell filling the room. “You came just in time, Lily!” Ellie said, taking off her gloves and apron. I followed her to the kitchen, pulling my mask and gloves off. “Bruce should arrive at any moment now.”
“How did he travel? As a bat?” I asked. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he arrived on a broom or a carriage.”
“I hope he doesn’t, he might be smart, but he’s so lazy he could win a prize for it!”
The door opened and–as if invoked–Bruce came in, smiling. I arched an eyebrow, my eyes fixed on the broom as it flew away. “I’m home!” He reached for the baby and rocked him on his arms. Michael laughed.
“A broom!” Ellie snapped angrily. “I told you to come on your own! How much did it cost?”
“Only a couple of tiers, dear,” Bruce said, “it won’t be–”
“A couple of tiers?!” Ellie replied, face red. “We don’t have a couple of tiers, Bruce! How can you be so selfish? Think about Michael, he’s still too young and needy, where will we get the money to feed him if you keep wasting it like that?!”
Bruce sat down on the table, fangs piercing his lips as his eyes burst ablaze in a dark crimson. “Selfish?! Have I not the right to travel as I wish?! I earn all of this family’s money! Have I not the freedom to be comfortable from time to time?!”
“You don’t have the freedom to do anything unless you can afford it,” Ellie spat back, “and unless you want your son to die famished, then we cannot–afford–a–broom! Help me, Lily!”
I sat back, taking deep breaths. “It’s not my business,” I said, raising my hands in a shrug. “You must solve this on your own, we’re all going through hard times.” I frowned at my sister’s glare, then sighed and looked at Michael. He cried, startled by the shouting. I’m sorry. I wish I could help you, I thought, but this is beyond me.
Emma whistled as she admired the clouds of paint. She knew that sky by heart, having lived under it her sixteen years of life. Door open, she could hear the voices coming from the other side of the blurry forcefield. Surgeons and warlocks mumbled things about the ‘plague’–as they called it–finding a cure, and the arising conflicts due to it. The usual. I’m the cure, she thought. Only I can end this dark magic.
I stepped into the hospital, an armored soldier closing the gates behind me. I sighed and climbed the stairs, my conflicted mind attempting–and failing–to calm down. I shuffled down the corridor, troubled. What will she do? I thought worriedly. She’s always been so stubborn.
A woman wearing a protective white suit stopped me just as I reached for the door. Dr. Helen Brooks smiled at me, but in her eyes, I saw sympathy. “She is very weak, Robert,” she told me, placing her gloved hand on my shielded shoulder. “I’m sorry, but I don’t think your mother will survive the month.” I shook my head dismissively and walked past her, then stepped inside.
My mother, the only person in the building without the white suit, regarded me with disapproving eyes and turned away. “Hi mom,” I said, but she didn’t answer. I closed my eyes and forced myself to go on. “Listen, I know what you’ll say, but we’re doing everything we can to find a cure, you just have to give me a couple more weeks.”
“Don’t,” she growled. “I don’t want to live in this wretched world anymore.”
“Mom, please!” I reached for her and she jerked away furiously.
“I said no!” She faced me, and from her eyes I knew I wouldn’t convince her. “At least when I die, no one will tell me how to live, and I’ll be free!”
“Are you implying that–”
“No, Robert, you are not free. When was the last time you chose how to dress, how to act, how to think? We live in a corrupted world, any defiance to the status quo leads to your death. But once dead, no one but you controls the paths you choose. Don’t save me, Robert. Saving me is the same as dooming me. Leave!”
“But the plague…” I implored.
“It’s doing what no one else in the world can do. Now leave me, Robert. Go!” The whole room shook, and the furniture hovered. An emerald fog embraced my mother, and her eyes flared green. I held back tears as she thrust her arm to the side and an invisible force tossed me out of the room. The door slammed shut behind me, and silence reigned.
Then, I wept, alone in an appalling darkness.
Emma reached for the forcefield, its cool surface sending chills down her body. On the other side the blurred box–a strange type of fortune-telling orb–talked about a parade happening somewhere downtown. It spoke, however, with a solemn voice, even melancholic. Giants killing each other with fire spears…. Emma shook her head with a sigh, grabbing her book as she sat down to research. I must find the answer to this curse, she told herself, or it will be the world’s end.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” Janice exclaimed. “If Korenda kills Amernac, the dream-curse will fall upon them too; millions of people suddenly controlled by dark magic!” I nodded, thoughtfully. War was never a good sign. “I hope the conflict doesn’t reach us.”
“I doubt it,” I told her. “It’s too far north. The effects, however, could be dreadful, especially if Amernac loses. Let’s hope the clash ends soon.” I frowned, knowing that Janice couldn’t see me. A war between two giants like them could escalate quickly, but why worry her?
“Let’s hope…” Janice whispered. “Anyway, see you later Alice, have a nice day.” She stopped the broom as we reached my house. I hopped down and smiled at her, waving goodbye, then walked inside.
Hannah ran downstairs, hugging me with her tiny arms. I smiled at her. “How did school go?” I asked.
“Incredible! Did you know Amernac is at war with those bandits from Korenda?! It’s great! My teacher told us that if he wins, the world will finally be free of Korendu’s treachery and tyranny… whatever that means.” I smiled and nodded. Hannah’s teachers were Amernacin, so it made sense that they supported the war.
“Of course, darling!” I told her. “It’s amazing! Once Amernac wins, we’ll finally see the glory we deserve. I’d love to talk with you, but I have a call from my new boss. Once I’m done, I’ll come down to chat alright?” She nodded, and I walked up to my room.
My phone rang as soon as I closed the door. I answered, and my boss began talking not a heartbeat later. “Did you hear the news, Alice?! War! How fabulous! Just as we thought our luck couldn’t improve, a war!”
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“Don’t you see? War means spells and magic; in other words, business! If we support both giants with as many resources as we can, the company will grow like never before! We must squeeze as much money as possible from the situation, but without the public knowing.”
“We cannot allow the world to know we aid a war that threatens the world,” my boss explained. “If they find out, many people will stop buying from us, and that’s something we cannot afford. I expect you, Alice, to have a plan to take as much benefit from it in secret by Monday. Alright?”
He hung up before I could reply. I stared at the phone, confused. Korenda winning meant that Hannah’s education would end, and the Korendi wouldn’t stop with Amernac. The new-found super-giant would probably attack the weaker southern kingdoms, knowing that their spells were unrivaled by their enemies’ troops. However, Amernac’s victory meant that the mad emperor would get more gold to fund other wars.
I walked down towards the kitchen, worried and no longer knowing what to think. Support or risk economic doom? Either way, my opinion wouldn’t matter. What could I do, an insignificant woman in a world where only being a giant mattered?
Emma woke up, looking at the sky. At the sky that was her roof, and her furniture the clouds. The door opened and two people in white forcefield suits came in, pulling a metallic cart inside. They greeted Emma as she walked to the chair at the back of her room.
“How have you been, Emma?” asked Lily. “Any headaches? Nausea? Diarrhea?”
“None at all, Dr. Lily! I found a spell to counter that part of the curse… I think.” Emma answered. Robert sunk the syringe into Emma’s arm and began pulling blood. It tickled. “Where’s Dr. Alice? I haven’t seen her in two weeks. Is she alright?”
“She’s fine,” Robert reassured her. He sounded unsure, though. “I heard she’s taking some personal time. Her replacement, however, should arrive in the next couple of days.”
“Oh,” Emma said, pretending not to notice his lie. “I’ll miss her.”
“We all will,” Lily said, measuring Emma’s temperature. “And what are you reading right now, Emma? Anything useful?”
Emma pointed at the shelf full of her research, at a blue one with some kind of necromancer at the front. “Another one on curses! The spells mentioned are very vague and hard to pronounce, but I’m getting closer to cracking them. So far nothing on healing, though.”
Lily nodded thoughtfully. “That’s great! Any white magic is extremely useful right now.” She looked troubled, though. Is it the giants?
“And how’s baby Michael?”
“He’s fine. Ellie is a very good mother, I…” she trailed off, looking at nothing in particular.
“Don’t worry,” Emma said with a grin. “I bet there’s someone great out there waiting for you.” She waited for Lily to smile. “And how’s your mother, Dr. Robert?”
“As stubborn as ever,” he uttered. Robert put the syringe back on its place and strapped the bag–red with blood–safely on the cart. “I followed your advice, but she… didn’t like it. I’ll think of something later. Anyway, that’s all for today, Emma.” The two doctors waved goodbye and walked towards the forcefield, held open by another woman wearing the same suit.
“Wait!” Emma called after them. “Could you bring any magic next week? I need more than just the theory, you know?”
Lily smiled at her. “We’ll do our best! Remember to press the red button if you’re feeling ill, alright? See you next week!” She winked and closed the forcefield, confining Emma once again.